open book with glowing letters flying out

What is Happiness Studies Academy (HSA)?

  • As it aligns with BCPS social-emotional and mindfulness initiatives, the Happier School Program (co-founded by Dr. Tal Ben Shahar) Is a comprehensive, multi-year educational intervention program with the purpose of helping an entire school community —students, school staff, and parents—attain higher levels of happiness. The HSA provides a framework for students to gain key SEL skills necessary to identify and manage their emotions, goal setting, show compassion and respect for others, build healthy relationship, and make responsible decisions. 

  • What is the Mission?

    The mission of the Happiness Studies Academy is to lead the happiness revolution, by educating leaders who are themselves dedicated to personal, interpersonal, and communal flourishing.

    To realize our mission, we at HSA take a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to teaching happiness—first in the way we define happiness, and second in the way we teach it. We define happiness as the experience of whole-person well-being, or in short, the experience of being whole.    The five elements essential to a life of being whole are:

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  • Why is HSA important for students?

    Two large-scale evaluation studies that have accompanied the program's implementation in recent years, and have been published in international research journals, have shown a significant association between participation in the program and reduction of mental symptoms such as anxiety and depression, increased positive emotions, optimism, improvement in self-esteem in school and academic achievement, which is reflected in a significant increase in the grade average.

    happiness logo

  • What is BCPS doing with the Happiness Studies Initiative?

    For students to thrive and flourish in the fast-changing, ever-challenging world, they need to learn more than reading, writing, and arithmetic, more than science, art and the humanities. It is no less important that they learn to find a sense of purpose, take care of their physical wellbeing, learn to grow from failure and hardship, nurture healthy relationships, as well as deal with painful emotions and cultivate pleasurable ones.

    These skills and abilities will contribute to students’ overall psychological well-being making them both happier, as well as playing a preventative role, making the present and future onset of mental health issues less likely. Additionally, students will perform better academically and, later, professionally.

    The Happier School Program is online in it's entirety and spans at least three years. BCPS's 3 pilot schools receive the following from the Happiness Studies Academy:

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  • What are the vision and goals of the Pilot Study?

    1. Stay connected with our pilot schools through check-in meetings
    2. Get all teachers trained → access to platform  development of lesson plans → implementation with students
    3. Keep connection going within check-in meetings, HSA leaders share best practices and discuss key items from HSA themed lesson plans
    4. Development of measurement aspect (HSA)
    5. The goal is to instill happiness in children, so they can live a meaningful and fulfilling life in the present and in later adulthood.

  • Which Schools are Involved?

    BCPS Pilot Schools:

    • Elementary School Level- Driftwood Elementary
    • Middle School Level- Driftwood Middle
    • High School Level- Hollywood Hills High

  • Who is Dr. Tal?

    Dr. Tal

    Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is the co-founder of the Happiness Studies Academy, as well as the creator and instructor of the Certificate in Happiness Studies and the Happier School programs.     

    After graduating from Harvard with a BA in Philosophy and Psychology and a PhD in Organizational Behavior, Tal taught two of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history: Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership and taught Happiness Studies at Columbia University. He is an international, best-selling author whose books have been translated into more than 25 languages.      

    In addition to establishing The Happiness Studies Academy, he is also the co-founder of Potentialife and Happier. TV. Tal is a certified yoga instructor whose work bridges Eastern and Western traditions, ancient wisdom and modern technology, science, and art.

  • Where can I find more information?

    More information can be found at the Happiness Studies Academy website.

  • Want to See More?

    Driftwood Middle Happiness

    Find out more from Linda Gancitano of Driftwood Middle School, Academy of Health and Wellness created by BECON.