Psychology and Education

Can Happiness Be Taught? A Closer Look Into the Art of Contentment


In a world that often focuses on material success and relentless ambition, we tend to forget the importance of happiness in our lives. The pursuit of happiness has been a subject of interest and debate for centuries. While philosophers’ and psychologists’ opinions vary on whether or not it can be taught, the truth is that happiness is multi-faceted, which makes it an intriguing topic to explore.

The Science of Happiness:

Different aspects of our lives influence our happiness. Studies in positive psychology show that about 50% of our happiness is determined by genetic factors. This means the other half can be partly controlled – through a combination of mindset, behavior, and external factors.

Research also indicates that certain habits and activities can promote happiness, such as physical exercise, mindfulness practices, and fostering positive relationships. According to psychologist Martin Seligman’s PERMA model, five key elements contribute to well-being: Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement.

Strategies for Cultivating Happiness:

Can we teach ourselves to be happier? While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, here are some strategies to cultivate happiness:

1.Develop a gratitude practice: Regularly expressing gratitude can improve mental well-being by encouraging us to focus on the positive aspects of our life.

2.Foster positive relationships: Strong social connections are linked with increased levels of happiness. Prioritize spending time with loved ones and nurturing healthy relationships.

3.Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings and enables us to manage them better. This contributes to overall emotional flexibility and resilience.

4.Exercise regularly: Physical activity releases endorphins that boost mood while reducing stress levels.

5.Set realistic goals: Setting achievable goals give purpose and direction in life — achieving them increases self-esteem and satisfaction.

6.Volunteer or help others: Giving back to our community brings a sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and happiness through the positive impact we have on others.

7.Find meaning in work or hobbies: Pursuing activities or careers that align with our core values can create a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment in what we do.


While happiness may not be a skill that we can “teach” in the traditional sense, there are certainly practices and habits we can incorporate into our lives to increase our levels of contentment. Just as with any skill, enhancing happiness requires dedication, self-awareness, and consistent effort. So, to answer the question, “Can happiness be taught?” – it may not be taught like other skills, but it is definitely attainable by actively pursuing well-being and making consistent efforts to cultivate a joyful mindset.

Free Poster: Positive Self-Talk For Teens


Positive self-talk is the practice of using encouraging, supportive language when talking to oneself. With the many challenges and pressures that teenagers face, it’s essential for them to adopt healthy self-talk habits to build self-esteem and maintain a positive outlook on life. To help teens develop these essential skills, we’re excited to offer a free poster that promotes positive self-talk for teenagers.

The Importance of Positive Self-Talk:

Positive self-talk can be a powerful tool in helping teens cope with stress, setbacks, and emotional upheaval. When practiced regularly, positive self-talk can lead to increased self-confidence, better decision-making, improved mental health, stronger relationships, and enhanced problem-solving abilities.

Benefits of Our Free Positive Self-Talk Poster:

Our free poster is designed specifically for teenagers and features eye-catching visuals accompanied by motivational quotes and affirmations that foster a healthy inner dialogue. The benefits of utilizing this poster include:

1. Reinforcing Healthy Inner Dialogue – By placing the poster in a teen’s bedroom or another personal space, it serves as a constant reminder to eliminate negative self-talk and replace it with empowering language.

2. Encouraging Positive Habits – The motivational quotes and affirmations encourage teens to practice positive thinking daily.

3. Inspiring Confidence – By regularly practicing positive self-talk, teens will become more confident in themselves, their abilities, and their decisions.

4. Overcoming Challenges – A healthy inner dialogue empowers teens to face the obstacles life throws at them with resilience and resourcefulness.

How to Use the Poster:

Using the Positive Self-Talk For Teens poster is simple:

1. Download the poster from our website for free.

2. Print it out at home or at a local print shop. You could also save it as your phone or computer wallpaper if you’d prefer not to print it.

3. Display the poster in your living space, workplace, or backpack where you can see it daily.

4. Practice reading and internalizing the motivational quotes and affirmations daily. You might even consider repeating them out loud or writing them down in a journal to reinforce their impact.

Spread Positivity:

We encourage parents, teachers, counselors, and teens to share our free poster with others. By spreading the message of positive self-talk, we can help create a more resilient, confident generation of young people better equipped to face life’s challenges with a healthy mindset.


Positive self-talk plays a vital role in building self-esteem and setting oneself up for success. To support teens in cultivating this powerful habit, consider downloading our free Positive Self-Talk For Teens poster for yourself, your friends, or your students. Encourage a more positive mindset and contribute to the development of strong mental health among teenagers today.

How To Support Students With OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. It affects millions of people worldwide, including students. As educators, it’s crucial to support students with OCD to help them thrive in a learning environment. This article offers some practical tips on assisting students with OCD and ensuring their academic success.

1. Educate Yourself About OCD

Understanding the intricacies of OCD is essential before you can offer effective support to your students. Research the condition thoroughly and familiarize yourself with its causes, symptoms, treatments, and challenges specific to an educational context.

2. Support Their Treatment Plan

Students with OCD might be undergoing a treatment program involving therapy, medication, or both. Encourage them to follow their treatment plan and provide necessary accommodations such as flexible scheduling for appointments or extra time during exams.

3. Create An Inclusive Learning Environment

An inclusive learning environment acknowledges the unique experiences of every student and minimizes potential triggers for their OCD. Foster a classroom culture that embraces diversity and provides clear expectations while avoiding situations that could heighten stress or anxiety.

4. Offer Resources For Organization

Students with OCD often struggle to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and priorities. Help these students by breaking down assignments into smaller steps, providing visual aids like calendars or checklists, and offering frequent reminders about due dates.

5. Be Patient And Understanding

Patience is paramount when working with students who have OCD. They may need extra time to complete tasks or become easily overwhelmed by changes in routine or environment. Give them space and understanding as they navigate these challenges.

6. Communicate Regularly With Parents Or Caregivers

It’s beneficial to keep an open line of communication with parents or caregivers who can provide insights into the student’s condition and additional support strategies that work outside school hours.

7. Encourage Open Dialogue

Empower students with OCD to express their concerns, needs, and feelings. Creating an open dialogue helps build trust, understanding, and a sense of belonging.

8. Address Bullying And Discrimination

Students with mental health conditions are sometimes targets of bullying and discrimination. Educate your class about the importance of inclusivity, respect, and empathy. Address incidents of bullying quickly and effectively to ensure your students’ well-being.

9. Collaborate With School Counselors And Therapists

Working closely with school counselors or therapists can provide valuable insights into how to assist the student with OCD more effectively while helping them align their school goals with their treatment plan.

10. Be Adaptable And Flexible

Unexpected situations or changes in routine can trigger anxiety in students with OCD. Be ready to adapt your teaching methods or lesson plans based on the student’s needs and situation.


Supporting students with OCD requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to learn about their unique challenges. By fostering an inclusive learning environment and providing practical assistance tailored to their needs, you can help these students excel academically and feel more confident in the classroom.

What is Flashbulb Memory?

This is a part of memory that keeps important occurrences majorly in auditory and visual memory. In other words, it’s an extremely vivid and detailed ‘snapshot’ of a moment in which a surprising, significant, and emotionally arousing piece of news was learned. Flashbulb memory often includes details like where the individual was or what he was doing at the time of the event.

In 1977, James Kulik and Roger Brown coined the phrase ‘flashbulb memory’ while studying individuals’ skills to remember surprising and significant events. Though the term ‘flashbulb memory’ means illumination, shock, conciseness, and detail, such memory is far from complete. Some fundamental characteristics of a flashbulb memory are

  •         informant (who shared or told the news),
  •         affect on the individual (how the person felt),
  •         impact on others (how others felt),
  •         repercussion (the event’s significance),
  •         ongoing activities (what others were doing), and
  •         location (where the individual was when the event occurred).

Examples of flashbulb memories are when an individual heard that Donald Trump had won the 2016 Presidential election or about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Since such memories are autobiographical memories, it could happen that the person vividly remembers what he was doing, where he was, and who first broke the news, but may not recall seeing any footage or learning the specifics until a few hours had passed. This is because flashbulb memories are characterized as extremely personal memories of how an event or a fact is related to the person. In autobiographical memories, the main focus is on the individual, while everything else is secondary.

There’s some debate over the accuracy of flashbulb memories. Some researchers found that the retrieval of such memories declines over time, just like it happens for daily memories. It indicates that perhaps flashbulb memories rank higher not essentially because of their accuracy but due to their perceived accuracy. However, some other research findings imply that flashbulb memories are more correct than everyday memories because personal involvement, consequentiality, proximity, and distinction can improve recall.

Studies have found the amygdala plays a significant role in encoding and retrieving the memories of important public events that trigger emotional arousal. Such arousal causes neurohormonal changes that affect the amygdala and possibly impact the nature of memories too. Thus, the amygdala’s role is crucial in creating and retrieving flashbulb memories.

Individual factors like age and culture can create differences in flashbulb memories. Younger adults are usually more likely to create flashbulb memories than older people. In them, the emotional attachment to an experience acts as the chief predictor of recall, while the older adults rely on rehearsal and are likely to forget the context of the experience. However, these older people will form detailed flashbulb memories, just like their younger counterparts, if the event had severely affected them. Usually, the factors impacting the vividness of flashbulb memories are believed to be independent of cultural variation. Still, some research results indicate that cultural factors can cause notable variation in the retrieval of such memories.

What is Procedural Memory?

This is the part of long-term memory with the function of keeping relevant details related to performing various actions and skills. Fundamentally, it’s the memory of how to do particular things (or perform certain procedures), such as walking, tying shoelaces, riding a cycle, and cooking an omelet, among others.

Professional athletes and musicians excel, in part, due to their advanced ability to create procedural memories. This type of memory also plays a vital role in language development, as it lets an individual talk without giving a lot of thought to proper grammar and syntax. Some tasks (in addition to the ones mentioned earlier as examples) that depend on procedural memory are skiing, playing the piano, swimming, ice skating, etc.

Procedural memories are typically unconscious. It means people don’t consciously recall them and can perform the actions without investing much mental effort as they become almost automatic. Perhaps that’s why procedural memory is sometimes called automatic memory or unconscious memory. It’s a subset of implicit memory that uses past experiences to recall matters without thinking about them. It’s different from explicit memory or declarative memory, which is made of events and facts that can be explicitly stored and intentionally recalled or “declared.”

To understand how procedural memory forms, it’s important to know about the different parts of the brain and their roles. In the brain, the cerebellum, parietal cortex, and prefrontal cortex are all involved early on in studying motor skills. The cerebellum’ role is particularly vital, as it’s needed to synchronize the flow of movements necessary for skilled motion and such movements’ timing. While humans have all the neurons they need for life when they’re born, they need to be programmed through experience to carry out tasks like hearing and seeing, and later, talking and walking.

Procedural memories are created when repeated signals strengthen synapses (which are neural junctions). The more frequently an individual performs an action, the more often signals are sent through the same synapses. After a while, these synaptic routes grow stronger, and the actions become automatic and unconscious. Although a particular memory can be as fundamental as creating an association between two nerve cells in the fingertip, other procedural memories are more intricate and take longer to form.

It’s difficult to explain procedural memory verbally as it’s usually depicted by doing. For example, it is nearly impossible to put into words how an individual drives a car without actually driving the vehicle. Though the individual can tell someone that he knows how to drive, there’s no way to prove that he actually knows it without performing the action. However, if he was asked how to drive to his house, he would probably talk about the route fairly easily. This happens because remembering the physical process of doing something (such as driving a car in this case) is a procedural memory while remembering the route an individual will have to take to reach somewhere is a declarative memory.

Procedural memory is said to form an individual’s personality as it’s closely related to creating habits since the individual develops automatic responses to particular situations.

What is Semantic Memory?

This is a part of long-term memory with the duty of keeping facts and common knowledge. In other words, it refers to concepts and facts that people have accumulated throughout their lives. Typically, semantic memory includes matters commonly considered common knowledge. They’re neither immediately nor exclusively drawn from personal experiences. Some examples of semantic memories are:

  •         Recalling that Shakespeare was born in April 1564.
  •         Knowing that giraffes and elephants are both mammals.
  •         Recalling the type of food people in China eat.

Semantic memory is related to facts and continues to grow as people age. Since it has no connection with personal experiences or emotions, it’s different from episodic memory. For example, knowing what happened on 9/11 in the U.S. is semantic memory but remembering where an individual was when 9/11 happened is episodic memory for that person. Another example of semantic memory is knowing what a cat is, while recalling when an individual brought his pet cat home is episodic memory. Thus, episodic memory is specific to an individual, such as his marriage or the birth of a child. However, semantic memory is more general, which can be shared worldwide.

Conditions and consequences of the stored information retrieval are also different between semantic and episodic memory. The circumstances leading to the retrieval of episodic memory can add to or change that memory, which is why such memory gets lost more easily. In contrast, semantic memory remains unchanged with retrieval.

For children and students, semantic memory is extremely vital as it allows them to remember the facts they’re learning and getting evaluated. Even for professionals and those in the workforce, semantic memory is crucial as it lets them retain and retrieve information essential to perform their jobs. For others, semantic memory is important because it allows them to know the surrounding world. If they didn’t have semantic memory, they wouldn’t know that the grass looks green, what a computer or a telephone is, or birds can fly.

There are three chief ways of encoding that people use to assign information to semantic memory. They are meaning, acoustic, and visual. This means people may encode information to semantic memory by

  •         relating them to something else that’s meaningful in their memory;
  •         hearing the information repeatedly; and
  •         through pictures or reading numbers and words.

In the brain, semantic memory could be organized in two different ways for retrieval – thematically and taxonomically. Cross-categorical relationships help thematical organization of information, while hierarchy helps taxonomically organized information. A recent study revealed that children and young adults are likely to use the thematical organization of semantic memory, while adults tend to opt for the taxonomical organization. Past studies have also indicated that with time and as people mature, the organization of semantic memory changes.

Retrieval processes of semantic memory have also triggered a lot of curiosity. Though some neuroscientists and psychologists speculated it to be based on the exact facts, a recent study has found that it’s relational. For example, when a person says that an eagle can fly, it’s because he knows that birds fly, and eagles are birds, which is why they fly.

What is Episodic Memory?

This is a part of long-term memory that stores pictures of a person’s life experiences. Canadian psychologist Endel Tulving introduced the term in 1972. He used it to mention the difference between “knowing” and “remembering.” He identified knowing as recalling facts (and hence semantic) and remembering as a feeling connected to the past (and hence episodic). Tulving also pointed out that autonoetic consciousness, connection to self, and mental time travel were the three key properties of episodic memory.

Some examples of episodic memory include:

  •         Recalling what one did over the Christmas holidays
  •         Recalling one’s first kiss
  •         Recalling how one felt and what the person did on a family holiday

Closely associated with this is what researchers mention as autobiographical memory or one’s memories of the person’s own life history. As one can imagine, autobiographical and episodic memories play a vital role in a person’s self-identity.

People might have different kinds of episodic memories as the following:

Specific events: These involve recollecting specific moments from a person’s autobiographical history. An example is recalling the first time one dove into the sea. Information about particular events is associated with the situational context in which they happened in the episodic memory system. The person recalls the information about the event and its context of happening.

General events: These involve recalling the feelings tied to a particular type of experience. In general, recalling what it’s like to dive into the sea is an example of this kind of episodic memory. One might not remember every occasion wherein the person dove into the sea. But the person does have a general recollection of having dived multiple times into the sea, upon which his/her feeling is based.

Personal facts: This is the information intricately associated with an individual’s experiences constituting personal facts. Knowing the name of one’s first dog or the color of one’s first bicycle are some examples.

Flashbulb memories: These are highly detailed and exceptionally vivid snapshots of circumstances or moments wherein one learned surprising or important pieces of news. Recalling the moment one heard about a major tragedy like the 9/11 attacks or the death of a close friend may be an example. It’s important to note that there’s much debate about whether a flashbulb memory’s vividness originates from a virtual flash generated by the emotional intensity of a particular experience or from a tendency to rehearse consequential moments that can extremely strengthen the memory.

Researchers have identified that episodic memory may also be interdependent with semantic memory. On learning activities, participants did better when fresh information was aligned with existing knowledge, proposing that a task’s semantic knowledge offers a framework for new episodic learning. Researchers have also identified that episodic memories play a role in retrieving semantic memories. 

In experiments where participants were required to create lists of items in specific categories, those who could depend on episodic memories did better than amnesiac participants who couldn’t access episodic memories. Studies also suggest that there’re sex differences in episodic memory. For example, research has found that women tend to perform better than men on episodic memory function tests, especially on verbal-based episodic memory.

What is a Rehearsal?

This is a method usually utilized to improve the storage of information, using a great deal of information repetition. Memory researchers use this term to mention mental techniques for helping people remember information. Its technical meaning isn’t very different from its everyday use by people. Actors rehearse their scripts so that they wouldn’t forget them. Similarly, if people want to retain information over time, there’re strategies for improving future recall. There’re two main types of rehearsal: maintenance rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal.

Maintenance rehearsal: This involves continuously repeating the material one needs to remember. This method is useful in retaining information over the short term. Almost everyone has faced the incident of looking up a phone number and eventually forgetting it (or its part) before dialing it. This demonstrates the fact that new information will fade from memory pretty quickly unless people make a purposeful effort to retain it. Maintenance rehearsal typically includes rote repetition, either covertly or out loud. It’s useful for maintaining comparatively small amounts of information in memory for short periods but isn’t likely to impact retention in the long run.

Elaborative rehearsal: This is a more effective method to memorize information and maintain it in the long-term memory. Elaborative rehearsal includes associating new information with information already present in the long-term memory. There’re countless occasions on which learners are required to remember large volumes of complex information. In these circumstances, reciting the information lots of times isn’t going to help commit it to long-term memory. Elaboration strategies that engage the student in comprehending the material are effective, both for retaining information and retrieving it later. Elaboration can take different forms.

Some effective examples of using this method to learn and remember the human body’s bones include:

Translating information into own words: Instead of simply reading what the study guide mentions about which bone is connected to the next one, the student can try to rephrase the information and then explain it to another person.

Grouping terms: Students can outline different categories or characteristics of the bones and mark those that fit into each group. They can identify all the bones in the foot, list them in a category, and then follow the same method for other body parts.

Using a mnemonic strategy: Mnemonic strategies can be highly useful in learning terms or names. For instance, students can take the first letter of the bones in the hand and arm and form a new word where every letter refers to one of the bones they need to remember.

While rehearsal can help anyone remember things, some groups might find it especially helpful, including those with early dementia or learning disabilities. Patients with conditions such as fibromyalgia that create “brain fog” might also find rehearsal an effective method to improve memory retention. Multiple studies have been carried out to assess the usefulness of rehearsing information to be able to recall it later. For instance, a 2015 study discovered that rehearsing video clips’ details immediately after watching them substantially enhanced recall of those videos weeks later.

What is Short-Term or Working Memory?

This is a part of the memory that keeps a very minimum level of information, only for a couple of seconds. It’s commonly proposed that short-term memory can hold just seven items simultaneously, plus or minus two. Most of the information in short-term memory will be stored for around twenty to thirty seconds, but it can be only seconds if active maintenance or rehearsal of the information is prevented. 

Some information can remain in it for up to a minute, but the majority of information spontaneously decays pretty quickly unless the person uses rehearsal strategies like mentally repeating the information or saying it aloud. The information in short-term memory is also highly susceptible to interference. Any new information that enters it will quickly displace the old one. Similar items in the environment may also interfere with short-term memory. For instance, one may have a more difficult time remembering someone else’s name if the person is in a noisy, crowded room or if the person was thinking of what to say to that other person instead of paying attention to the name.

The amount of information that short-term memory can store can vary. According to psychologist George Miller, individuals can store between five and nine items in it. According to more recent research, individuals can store around four pieces or chunks of information in short-term memory.

Memory researchers often use the three-store model to describe human memory. According to this model, memory comprises three fundamental stores: sensory, short-term, and long-term. And each of these can be differentiated based on storage duration and capacity. Short-term memory is brief and limited, while long-term memory comes with a seemingly countless capacity that lasts years. Since short-term memory is limited in both duration and capacity, the retention of memories needs transferring of the information from it to long-term memory. There’re different ways that short-term memories can be transferred to long-term memory. However, the exact processes for how this occurs remain controversial. 

The Atkinson-Shiffrin model proposed that all short-term memories were automatically transferred to long-term memory after a particular period of time. More recently, researchers have suggested that some mental editing happens and that only specific memories are chosen for long-term retention. Factors such as interference and time can impact how information is encoded in memory.

For most people, it’s quite common to have an episode of memory loss occasionally. They may lose their keys, forget the date, have trouble finding the correct word, or miss a monthly payment from time to time. Still, if one constantly forgets things, it may be frustrating, irritating, and even generate the fear that the person is getting Alzheimer’s. Short-term memory loss might even make people worried that their brain is too dependent on devices such as smartphones instead of memory to recall information. 

However, mild memory loss isn’t always an indication of a problem, and specific memory modifications are a normal part of aging. Non-permanent factors such as drug or alcohol misuse, medication side effects, depression, sleep deprivation, grief, stress, and fatigue can also cause short-term memory loss.

What is Punishment?

This is the negative outcome of certain actions, which is used to stop an individual’s propensity to perform such actions in future circumstances. In operant conditioning psychology, punishment is a term utilized to mention any change that happens after a behavior that lowers the likelihood that the behavior will happen again in the future. 

Both positive and negative reinforcements are utilized to increase behaviors, while punishment is focused on eliminating or reducing unwanted behaviors. Many individuals confuse negative reinforcement with punishment, but they’re two very different mechanisms. Reinforcement, even when it’s negative, always increases a behavior. On the contrary, punishment always reduces a behavior.

Psychologist B. F. Skinner, who first defined operant conditioning, recognized two different types of aversive stimuli that can be utilized as punishment. These are:

Positive punishment: This includes presenting an aversive stimulus after a behavior. For instance, when a pupil talks out of turn in the middle of a class, the instructor may scold the kid for interrupting.

Negative punishment: This includes removing a desirable stimulus after a behavior. For instance, when the pupil from the above example talks out of turn again, the instructor promptly tells the kid that he/she will have to miss recess due to that behavior.

While punishment can be beneficial in some instances, one can probably imagine some examples when a punishment doesn’t consistently decrease unwanted behavior. Prison is one such example. Individuals often continue committing crimes after they’re released from prison after being sent to it for a crime. 

Researchers have identified two contributing factors to punishment’s effectiveness in different circumstances. First, punishment is more beneficial if it’s applied quickly. Prison sentences often happen long after someone committed the crime, which might help explain one reason why sending individuals to jail doesn’t always result in a decrease in criminal behavior. Second, punishment achieves better results when it’s consistently applied. 

It can be hard to give a punishment all the time a behavior happens. For instance, individuals often continue to exceed the speed limit even after getting a speeding ticket because the behavior isn’t consistently punished. Punishment is more likely to result in a decrease in behavior if it’s consistently applied and immediately follows the behavior.

Punishment also has some major drawbacks. First, any behavior alterations because of the punishment are often temporary. Probably the biggest downside is that punishment doesn’t actually provide any information about desired or more appropriate behaviors. While subjects may be learning not to carry out particular behaviors, they aren’t actually learning what they should be performing. Another aspect to consider about punishment is that it may have undesirable and unintended consequences. 

For instance, a 2014 survey in the U.S. identified almost half of parents acknowledged spanking their younger kids (age nine and below) in the past year. According to researchers, this kind of physical punishment may result in aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency among kids. This is why Skinner and other psychologists propose that any potential short-term benefits from utilizing punishment to modify behavior need to be weighed against the prospective long-term consequences.