Chabad of Hunterdon offers new course on positive psychology, starting Nov. 4

Posted Monday, Nov 3rd, 2014

Chabad of Hunterdon's newest class looks at positive psychology through the 3,000-year-old lens of Jewish thought.

When Israeli-born psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar began teaching a class called Positive Psychology at Harvard in 2006, a record 855 undergraduate students signed up for his class. Droves of students at the academically-intense university came to learn, as the course description puts it, about “psychological aspects of a fulfilling and flourishing life.”

Speaking to the Harvard Crimson, Prof. Ben-Shahar attributed the class’ high numbers to one simple factor: “…People want to be happy. Whether it is at Harvard of Hunterdon, people want to be happier. [...] There are over 200 campuses just in the United States alone where positive psychology is being taught, and on most campuses it is one of the, if not the, largest class.”

Over the last fifty-odd years modern psychology has focused predominantly on mental illness, yet in recent years the emphasis has begun to pivot away from what makes life miserable, towards the positive: What makes life worth living? What makes happy people happy? And while this may be a relatively new topic for psychologists, it’s one that was addressed by Jewish wisdom and mysticism centuries ago.

Beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 4, Chabad of Hunterdon County will present How Happiness Thinks: Jewish Perspectives on Positive Psychology, Chabad’s new six-session fall 2014 course.

Rabbi Eli Kornfeld of Chabad will conduct the six course sessions at 7:30 pm on six consecutive Tuesday’s Starting on Nov. 4 at Chabad of Hunterdon in Annandale.

“The course focuses on ways to overcome the challenges that get in the way of our happiness, including stress, grief and self-concept,” says Rabbi Eli Kornfeld director of Chabad and course instructor “But we’re also going to discuss techniques to boost our happiness such as humility, gratitude and meaningful living.” “While it is a six week course one need not be present at all six classes, contact Chabad for more information on attending individual lessons."

While drawing on 3,000 years of Jewish wisdom on happiness, the course, which was prepared in partnership between JLI (Jewish Learning Institute) and the Washington School of Psychiatry, builds on the latest observations and discoveries in the field of positive psychology. How Happiness Thinks offers participants the chance to earn up to 15 continuing education credits from the American Psychological Association (APA), American Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), California Board of Behavioral Sciences (CBBS), Social Work Board of the State of Maryland, and the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). 

“How Happiness Thinks brings together modern research in positive psychology and ancient Jewish wisdom,” explains Prof. Ben-Shahar, a renowned expert in the field who has authored five books and today teaches at IDC Herzliya, “This marriage between theology and science can bring about significant positive change in individuals and communities.”

The course explores to what degree surroundings and circumstances effect ones overall happiness, potential challenges to living a joyous life, and whether G-d cares if people are happy or not.

How Happiness Thinks is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. The course is open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple, or other house of worship. The course will be offered in 350 us cities and through the world.

Interested students may call 908-238-9002 or visit for registration and other course-related information. 


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