Israeli author and lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar on Wednesday advised schools to introduce positive psychology courses to help students lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
Ben-Shahar, who has taught courses on positive psychology at Harvard University, said in Taipei that he would “very strongly recommend” that the government introduce such courses from kindergarten to university level.
As students become happier, they also become smarter and more creative, focused and resilient, said Ben-Shahar, who is visiting Taiwan to promote the Chinese version of his new book Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create Your Own Road to Happiness.
Positive psychology emphasizes positive experiences and human strengths to improve people’s lives.
In a positive psychology course, students learn how to be more confident, how to deal with failure and how to cultivate healthy relationships, Ben-Shahar said.
Positive psychology courses are no less important than traditional subjects, he added.
In addition to promoting positive psychology in education, the government should increase the happiness level of the public by building more public parks, which provide space for exercise and for people to meet each other, the author said.
Asked about his advice to employers in Taiwan, where people often work long hours, Ben-Shahar said that longer working hours do not always lead to better results or higher productivity.
Like racing cars, which have to take breaks at pit stops, people also need to take breaks to recover or they will pay the price, he said.
He said companies would gain more by giving their employees adequate breaks because by doing so, employees would be less likely to quit their jobs and will be more engaged, creative and motivated.
Ben-Shahar said he believes that the amount of quality time people are able to spend with their loved ones is the most important predictor of happiness.
Countries such as Denmark, Israel, Australia and the Netherlands consistently score higher in happiness surveys than other countries because they emphasize the importance of social relations in schools and workplaces, he added.