A husband and wife who met at Penn have written a book together about using positive psychology to strengthen relationships.
Penn professor James Pawelski and 1991 Annenberg School of Communication and 2008 College of Liberal and Professional Studies graduate Suzann “Suzie” Pileggi Pawelski, wrote a book titled, "Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts."
Published in January of 2018, the book was released on their eighth wedding anniversary.
Pawelski and Pileggi said the study of positive psychology brought them together.
"We met because we each followed our passion long before we knew about each other,” Pawelski said. Both decided to venture into the realm of positive psychology at Penn, where Pawelski co-founded and taught the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program and became both the Director of Education and Senior Scholar Positive Psychology Center.
After meeting in the program, they kept in touch after Pileggi graduated, and eventually began dating.
"Happy Together," which has received attention from television and radio host Larry King as well as Penn professor Angela Duckworth, applies scientific research and personal examples to demonstrate the mechanisms of positive psychology that work to build a strong relationship.
Pawelski said he defines positive psychology as “the scientific study of what makes individuals and communities thrive.”
The couple decided to write "Happy Together" after being inspired by the work of Greek philosopher Aristotle during their honeymoon. In the book, the couple recommends finding a higher relationship centered around goodness, rather than usefulness or pleasure. The book also proposes doing so by promoting healthy passions, as opposed to obsessive ones, savoring positive experiences and highlighting the strengths in one another.
Jennifer Beatty, a student of Pawelski and a 2015 Graduate School of Education graduate, said, “I think it's wonderful to see the manifestation of a couple that can have fun together, especially while doing academically rigorous work."
"I think it's a testament to the strength of their relationship, and seeing their work kind of come alive is going to make me excited to read the book even more," Beatty added.
2008 College graduate Stephanie Yee, a friend of the couple, said, “they actively use positive psychology in their relationship to strengthen the relationship between the two of them and also to build a very positive environment in their family.”
Pileggi added that readers do not need to be in a relationship to enjoy the book.
“People wonder if they have to be married to benefit from the messages in this book," she said. "And the answer is absolutely not."
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