Based on what I’ve learned from the material from the first 5 weeks of the Science of Happiness course, there are many factors to consider when it comes to mental health, our behaviors, and our attitudes towards life, others, and ourselves. I always think of Dr. Walsh’s favorite pie chart since a lot of it has to do with genetics and our environment. However, there is still that percentage where it is completely up to us. So even if we are affected by something or someone in a negative way and it feels like it’s completely out of our control, we still have the ability to take action and overcome it.
It wasn’t until I took this class that I learned about Keye’s model of complete mental health/flourishing, positive psychology, and the 24 strengths. After talking about Keye’s model and positive psychology, it made sense to me how despite an individual who has a mental illness is still able to live happily and do not allow it to consume themselves. By learning and utilizing coping mechanisms, establishing and maintaining meaningful and healthy relationships, and immersing themselves in activities that help them feel connected to their community and/or is something of interest, anyone can overcome the negative emotions/hardships that come their way.
I feel as though all of the topics that have been covered in class within the first 5 weeks go hand-in-hand since genetics plays a huge role in both our mental health and our behaviors as well as our environment and ourselves. The absence of mental illness does not necessarily mean that one is flourishing, according to Keye’s model, just as how having a mental illness does not mean that one is languishing. It is really up to our own actions and decisions as well as the cards that we’ve been dealt with in order to either be languishing or flourishing. Positive psychology teaches us how to achieve the flourishing state, especially by defining what virtues and strengths that are the most prevalent to us and learning how to utilize and/or improve them. If we become aware of our dominant strengths and the ones we need to work on, we can lead more fulfilling and happier lives.
The activities that resonated with me were the family tree, automatic thoughts, and VIA strengths survey exercises. The family tree made me realize how different yet alike my family and I could be, especially since all of my siblings are half-siblings! I never really thought about it until we had to complete that assignment, and it made me feel silly for not realizing it sooner. It was also really fun for me to talk to my mom about it and made me feel closer to her and my other relatives. The automatic thoughts assignment reassured me about how resilient I am since I don’t usually let negative emotions get the best of me. I’ll allow myself to feel whatever it is that I do at that point in time but I don’t usually stay hung up on it more than I should, which is something I know a lot of people struggle with. So it made me feel like I’ve grown as a person since I’ve had my share of hardships just like everyone else and I have not let them get in the way of moving forward.
I think out of the three exercises, the VIA strengths survey was my favorite of them all! I enjoy taking tests that help me learn more about myself and I felt like my results were very accurate. I also appreciated how Dr. Walsh shared with us 304 ways for us to improve the strengths at the bottom of our list, which is something I will try to do. It was nice to see how we compared to everyone else in our class when we had our Friday discussion about our strengths and talk to people with either the same top strength or one that was different from our own. I will definitely take the test again in a year to see if I’ve changed!
Overall, this class was not what was I was expecting it to be. I look forward to going to lecture each day (even though I’m late sometimes. Sorry!!), especially the beginning of class when we can breathe a little by practicing mindfulness. It’s also nice how we have different guest lecturers who touch on the various topics for the class and getting to interact with everyone each Friday. I also feel as though the weekly assignments are relevant to what we talk about! I am looking forward to what is to come later on.
I commented on hsummer’s and ajohnson65’s blog posts.