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Saturday, August 1 at 12:30 p.m.

Tal Ben-Shahar taught one of the most popular courses at Harvard University. The subject? Happiness! Now he brings his “positive psychology” wisdom and humor to a new special that can help people be happier and more creative and stay healthier.

HAPPINESS 101 WITH TAL BEN-SHAHAR, part of special programming airing on WVPT Saturday, August 1 at 12:30 p.m. , helps everyone learn how to bring more happiness and satisfaction into their lives. Through his approachable self-deprecating humor and entertaining video examples, professor and author Ben-Shahar explains that every person has a base level of general happiness (given one’s genetic makeup and personality), but we all have the power to increase that level of happiness by applying a few practical tips to our lives. The special includes several insightful and hilarious video segments from comedians such as Ellen DeGeneres and Jim Gaffigan, as well as academic scholars on the subject of stress and depression.

Grounded in the revolutionary positive psychology movement (defined as the scientific study of optimal human functioning), Ben-Shahar ingeniously combines scientific studies, scholarly research, self-help advice and spiritual enlightenment to find out what it means to be happy. He weaves these concepts into a set of principles that everyone can apply to daily life. “Once you open your heart and mind to happier ideas,” Ben-Shahar says, “you will feel more fulfilled, more connected and, yes, happier.”  

In HAPPINESS 101, Ben-Shahar offers several easy-to-follow tips for achieving greater happiness:

1.    Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions — such as fear, sadness or anxiety — as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2.    Simplify and multi-task less! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

3.    Remember the mind-body connection. What we do — or don’t do — with our bodies influences our minds. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, deep breathing and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health. As Ben-Shahar explains, NOT exercising is akin to taking depressants.   

4.    Express gratitude whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

He also addresses the issue that plagues so many Americans today: stress. And while stress can sometimes lead to illness and more serious levels of depression, Ben-Shahar is adamant that stress itself is not the problem. Stress can even make us stronger and more resilient. The problem is that so many individuals lack the ability to recover from stress. The Harvard professor offers a three-step plan to ritualize stress recovery in everyday life.

Tal Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer on positive psychology who taught one of the most popular courses at Harvard University. Ben-Shahar consults and lectures around the world to executives in multi-national corporations, the general public and at-risk populations. He is the author of The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. An avid sportsman, Ben-Shahar won the U.S. Intercollegiate and Israeli National squash championships. He earned his Ph.D. in organizational behavior and B.A. in philosophy and psychology from Harvard.

For more of this month's special programming click here.