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Please refer to the Blog Guidelines document on the course Bb site for help in writing your blog posts. Your posts should be placed in the appropriate week shown when you click the “Weekly blogs” tab at the top right corner of the site. So for example, posts for the week of Sept 1 – 7 should go in the “Sep 7: History and science…” category when you click “Weekly blogs.”


I found last weeks career selection exercise to be awakening and yet a little daunting. The beliefs and thoughts in your head are certainly powerful but I don’t think I realized its untapped potential, as in, how much more powerful these thoughts and beliefs become when said out loud or writing them down. I say awakening because I had a recurring theme when it came to the three categories, music is what provides me with a sense of purpose, music is what gives me most pleasure and it also coincides with some of my strengths (definitely still a beginner). I say daunting because the one thing I have control over is my strength in music and to me and that put a lot of pressure on me, because I hold music on such a high pedestal that no matter how hard I practice I will never be as good as I want to be. It’s also daunting because if it’s something that you’re truly passionate about then that’s what you’re going to work hardest for, and on the days I’m not working for it, I make myself feel bad about it. Which probably explains why I gravitated to the bullet point “Forgiveness keeps you going”. I am a sucker for setting trivial goals for the sake of beating myself up for not accomplishing them. I have been focusing on these automatic thoughts lately, and for the times I get frustrating with myself for not completely something so random, I dispute, dispute and dispute, because the more I say, “it’s okay, just keep pushing through” the more I actually push through.

I enjoyed the TED talk, well he was kind of annoying but I enjoyed and understood his message. I found it most intriguing and so terribly correct when he said that not only is happiness a possibility for every american but an expectation, and that can lead to tremendous pressure. I find our freedom to be a double edged sword, with one side that’s not as sharp because of certain privileges (as in being in a free country). For example, I would take on the pressure we have to be happy rather than being a Syrian child, scared in their every day. So yes it’s a pressure, but a privileged pressure at that.

11.16 Societies

In the article by Denier (2000), the impact of well-being is discussed. Not on an individual level, nor group level, but societal and national level. The author proposes that nations should adopt a National Account of Well-Being. This would be similar to economic accounts already in place that track the income, production, labor and expenses of nations, which is one of the main influences of policymaking. Denier provides evidence that subjective well-being provides valuable information regarding the health and prosperity of a nation’s people, and by keeping record and analyzing such information improvements in policymaking could be made. I thought this was a very cool idea, one that would help bring policymaking more into line with many of my generation’s ideas about the role of government. It seems a lot of my cohorts want better environmental protection, better health care (maybe universal healthcare?), and income security, which are all positively correlated with subjective well-being. This of course is a liberal view, but the article also claims the National Account of Well-Being is attractive to conservatives as well, because economic growth and wealth is related to well-being.


The World Happiness Report (2015) and the TEDx Talk by Weiner further elucidate the importance of subjective well-being and where it comes from. According to the happiness report a nation’s well-being comes from six main sources: social support, life expectancy, generosity, GDP per capita, corruption, and freedom. Looking at the difference between the top ten countries in the report and the bottom ten of the report, the size of contribution of each factor to the difference, from greatest to least, looks like this: GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity. However, as Weiner said, economic strength can only go so far, and the difference among the top countries on the list has less to do with economic power and more with the other five factors. I think the important takeaway here is that in fact, economic success is definitively related to national well-being, but it is hardly the whole picture, and especially in global periods of recession the countries who sustain the hit the best are those that are high in social support, freedom, and life expectancy, and low in corruption, and have a sense of cohesion rather than diffusion.





Week of November 16th

The career selection exercise we did was interesting. My results were as follows:

For the question about what gives me purpose/what is meaningful: helping people, friends and family,

For what gives me pleasure: art, helping others, traveling, taking risks, going on adventures, exploring, learning new things, learning new languages, having a supportive circle of people

For what my strengths are: social intelligence, easy to talk to, confident, outgoing, independent, fast learner, good communicator, good listener

While my answers are a little all over the place, this is something I already knew. I know I want to pursue a career in the healthcare field because I truly love helping others and making a difference. From already working clinical positions at the hospital, this has reconfirmed that I am going down the right path. I went to art school my entire life up until college and my last year or two in high school is when I decided I wanted to do a 180 and pursue medicine. Why you may ask? While I absolutely love the arts and do have some talent there, I knew I wasn’t talented enough to pursue a career in it. I still partake in the arts and have it as my hobby, but for one, now I can afford it and not worry about it. For two, I know I will always love it as sometimes making your hobby a career, you can lose your love for it (sometimes not always). Idk…I think there are a lot of things that were on the pro/cons list when I was deciding but I am 100% confident I picked the right path and I haven’t looked back. I figure why not pursue something that I still love to do (as I don’t want to work in something I don’t love) and then I can afford to pursue my arts on the side.


I also really liked the article you emailed us about how the most productive people power through their to-dos. This is something that I myself and most people struggle with. While I try to do most of the things on the list, its nice sometimes to read about it to reinforce the concepts. I definitely need a little remotivation when it comes to productivity as its like a roller-coaster to me, always up and down with the motivation.


Where from here?

I have been hashing through where to travel vocationally for a few years, in fact it is why I opted to return to school.  However the career exercise that we began in class, was useful in confirming and formalizing my thoughts.  Throughout my lists there are themes of problem-solving, interpersonal relationships and service.  There are also threads tied to creativity and art, faith and science.  I have always had diverse interests and for a long time, I felt like this seemed to indicate, I didn’t really have “a” place I belonged.  What I have begun to realize, is that there are fields where my diverse interests and flexibility are actually an asset.

When I consider my strong themes (problem-solving, interpersonal relationships and service), I have elected to work towards a career as a psychologist/therapist.  I am interested in working with specific high risk audiences, although right now I haven’t narrowed it down.  The folks that I have identified at this point that might be of interest are young adult substance abusers, incarcerated youth, veterans, hospice patients and family, medical professionals (particularly those in trauma fields) and refugees.  Beginning next fall, I plan on working towards a degree in Rehabilitation Counseling here at VCU.

When exploring the circumstances that I am interested in working in, flexibility and independence were highly important.  Having the benefit of having worked in a lot of different circumstances and a lot of different fields, one of the things I loved best about the jobs I most enjoyed was a super high degree of flexibility.  My first serious job was as a staff member for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.  I was given enormous responsibility, but given very little guidance, direction or supervision.  I worked incredibly hard, likely working 80 or more hours a week, but I didn’t have to clock in or out.  I didn’t have to ask for time off or call in sick.  My only job was to make sure that the objectives of my position where achieved.  Later, I worked as a mortgage banking consultant.  Again, I was given tasks, but worked very much on my own schedule and could work basically anywhere I needed to to get the job done.  While some folks might feel lost without some direction and guidance, others might enjoy the consistency of an office with a desk and a door, I prefer being evaluated on my work alone.  I really hate checking boxes that I determine to be inane.  I have always been a good employee and will follow the rules, but I thrive and do my best work when on my own.

Having worked for myself for the last 10+ years running my own business, I have determined that I never want to be in a situation where I need to supervise others or be supervised myself.  I very much like being independent.  Even if a job came along that checked all my interest and passion boxes, I don’t expect I could take it without having the space I need.

When I put everything together, I have decided I would very much like to work as an independent counselor.  I want to work cooperatively for several organizations, but I do not want to be an employee which would leave me trapped in an organizational chart.

Given the importance of faith in my self-identity, and my belief that it can be a powerful tool for those who are people of faith, I intend to compliment my licensure as a psychologist with a divinity degree.  Given that, I will also have the opportunity to work within independent ministries which will also offer more flexibility than many traditional jobs.

My suggestion to people working towards defining a career path for themselves is:  1)Be honest with yourself.  It’s important not to fool yourself into believing you will enjoy a career simply because of the income or esteem you may gain from it.  2)Be practical.  If you intend to pursue a career that you might have trouble paying the bills with (at least at first), consider an income source that will compliment your primary vocation.  3)Be flexible.  Be willing to change course once you begin.  Consider that maybe your first direction was a growth opportunity, but not the end of the exploration.  4)Be reflective.  Consider every job you have had, include volunteer jobs.  Decide which jobs you loved.  Then decide if it was the mission or objective of the job you loved or the environment you worked in.

I feel pretty good that I am on a path that will be rewarding.  I do, however, expect surprises along the way, but that is part of the fun of it.

Nov 16: Societies

The career selection exercise we did in class actually kind of confirmed the career path I’m currently pursuing, which is to be a prosecutor. I am skilled in research, analysis, and critical thinking. All three are areas that attorneys use every single day in their line of work. This exercise and our discussion in class did, however, give me the idea of shadowing someone in that profession in order to get a better look at what could be my future. I made some phone calls and was able to find a current prosecuting attorney willing to let me shadow them for one day. I am very excited about this opportunity and hope that it will be both informational and fun.

The Ted Talk we watched for this week stuck out the most to me. Although I knew that certain countries are much happier than others I was not aware of many of the reasons why. I do believe that the advice given by Eric Weiner, “Lower your expectations,” is much easier said than done, especially for a college student. At this stage in life, all I think about is the future. What kind of work will I do after undergrad? Will I get into the law school I want? Will I pass whatever difficult class I’m taking at the moment? Etc, etc. I do try to make an effort not to worry so much about these things because I know that things will pan out exactly the way they’re supposed to but every now and then I think it is just human nature to worry about the future. What I also found to be interesting about the Ted Talk was how Bhutan’s government bases every decision on whether it will make people happier or not. I think, to some extent, that is a good model for making government decisions. Unfortunately, with the way our government is headed, I think there will be a number of decisions made in favor of one group over another instead of for everyone’s good. America could learn a thing or two from Bhutan.


I’ve felt drawn to psychology since around the time I was in eighth grade. I can’t remember exactly what piqued my interest, but I do recall feeling like people tended to open up to me or tell me about their problems, and it felt good to help someone else feel better about something that was bothering them, even if it was just by listening. The career selection exercise we did in class seemed to confirm that I’m on the right track by pursuing a career in psychology, and eventually some form of helping profession. It also suggested that I might do well to focus my efforts on art, because it brings me a great deal of meaning and pleasure to create things that I as well as others can look at and enjoy. I have to wonder, though,  if I chose these things because they represent what I’ve been focusing on recently, and thus were most salient when I was called upon to list my strengths, as well as activities that give me meaning and pleasure. So on one level this exercise helped me to feel confident that I’m doing the right thing, but on another level I also felt the need to take this confidence with a grain of salt because of the feeling that I could be wrong about what my strengths are, and what will bring me consistent meaning and pleasure in the future. I feel this way because I know that other people have spent years in school studying to go into a career that they end up hating, and I don’t know the extent to which they thought through their decisions but the possibility of being wrong still weighs on my mind.

I particularly enjoyed the TED talk by Eric Weiner about the geography of happiness, though what interested me most was not the distribution of happiness throughout the globe but the conclusions he drew at the end. It seemed counterintuitive at first but what really spoke to me was the idea that the more you focus on the pursuit of happiness itself, the harder it is to attain. This is demonstrated on a small scale by the study Weiner references in which groups of participants listened to a piece of music, and the group that was told to simply listen, rather than evaluate their feelings or their happiness specifically ended up the happiest of the three groups. I see a parallel between this and the hedonic treadmill: “If I can have _______, then finally I will be happy. I just have to do ______ first.” While setting goals is good, setting expectations along with them is not. Focus on what you’re doing in the moment, and everything else will follow. This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan for the future, but I think a common mistake we as humans make is thinking several steps ahead and making predictions for how things might turn out, and by doing so we set ourselves up for disappointment.

I know it wasn’t part of the readings for this work but I also really liked the article about powering through tasks. I felt like even though it didn’t particularly say it, it was preaching working with yourself instead of against yourself, by which I mean to say it promotes self-acceptance and ways to approach a task that increase self-efficacy and feelings of perceived control. I feel very grateful to live in a time where these concepts are being explored and promoted, and I can only hope that the field of positive psychology will continue to grow and influence our society.

November 16th, 2016 Society

Homework Assignment: All of my answers to the characteristics to the 3 questions we started in class were very vague and it seems that they could apply to an endless list of careers…
The common attributes among them all were:
-love of learning
-finding beauty in daily life
-Problem solving
-Making people happy
-Making positive changes
-Being very understanding of others/being able to see from others perspectives.
-Being outside

While I am currently wanting to go to medical school, I often have doubts about this because I see that others further down the same path do not enjoy it as much as they thought they would. I am currently getting work experience in the medical field but would like to see more of the different specialties, although I still wish I could incorporate traveling into my future career more.
Article and World Happiness Report: I really enjoyed the article from this week, especially in light of our recent election and many policy changes that are likely on the horizon, I think it is important that we recognize what can improve or damage subjective well-being in a country while being informed of upcoming new policy. I particularly like how this article shows the much broader application of psychology into national policy which is something I had not considered or given much thought to before. Most of the things on the list of the top 10 characteristics that contribute to high national subjective well-being did not surprise me, although I was surprised that wealth of a country was ranked as first. Considering how many wealthy people there are in the United States, It does not seem that we are one of the “happiness” countries overall. This was paralleled in the World Happiness Report. Interestingly, top 8 countries with the highest levels of happiness were socialist-like countries. So, it is in this regard I can see how subjective levels of well-being are higher in countries that are wealthy, even if the people themselves are not independently wealthy, this explains many of the other characteristics on the list like low corruption, good unemployment and health resources and overall good social/government services. In contrast, the countries lowest in happiness on the World Happiness Report were together were some of the rich and poorest countries in the world. The poor countries understandable rank lower on the list because their basic human needs are likely unmet or are a struggle to meet, but it is interesting that so many wealthy Middle Eastern countries fall among these on the list. While the wealth gap and current war in this region must of course be considered in these countries, I still think this example highlights the fact that more than money is needed to be happy and live a good life.

The other one I was glad to see highlighted on the list was the need for health natural environments! This is something close to my heart and I am always a little angry when a see even just a small wooded area or field concreted over to make way for a new housing development, Starbucks or other chain store. I just feel like we have enough of those and I would rather see a little bit of green land in my life rather than being 4mins closer to my morning cup of coffee. This is something that I have noticed that weighs heavily on my well-being. While I am found the Norfolk/Chesapeake area of Virginia (which can be pretty rural) I moved to Idaho for school for 2 year and that was a whole new level of rural and I loved it! Granted, Idaho is full of small towns and sometimes you get bored, it is the only place I have ever lived where I could drive around 15-20mins away from my house and no longer even be able to see the city. I did this often and dearly miss this option of escape. It is very freeing to be able to make this short drive, to sit alone or with some cows, with nothing but the night sky and empty earth around you. Nature is needed to give one a physical space to breath and a mental space to think.

TedTalk: “Can money buy happiness? The answer is yes … and no.” This quote highlights what both of the readings pointed out and what we have been learning all along in this class, that money contributes to happiness only until roughly the point that one’s basic needs are met and this it has less influence. I also like how he emphasized that “happiness is 100% relational” and that it is our relationships that make up happy. I think it is these relationships that help us to “think less” like he recommended, although I don’t think it is the thinking less that makes us happier but the thinking less of ourselves.
This talk also focused on the importance of national culture on happiness. I found his explanation as to why Iceland may be the happiest place in the world interesting. He describes how they are “one big family” in a sense that they are all related if traced back 7 generations. But the most important thing he pointed out was that they genuinely trust, care about and treat each other well, that there is “always someone there to catch you and it is not always the government”. I visited Iceland four years ago and have to agree with this. I remember when I was there with my whole family, we were a little lost and looking for places to visit when we met a nice college student at a restaurant, struck up a conversation and his gave us a lot of recommendations. Just as we were leaving I remember my dad made a joke that “we should just take him with us” and he said he would love to! So he rode around with us and showed us the country for 2 days before he had to go back to classes and even then arranged for one of his cousin’s families to meet us on the other side of the country for dinner. We are still Facebook friends and occasionally chat to this day. I can’t help but think that if we could do this in America would might all be a little happier.


The first article this week talked about economies and how nations that have high well-being usually have very effective governments. It would seem that this idea would only be common sense. People’s evaluations of their own lives are defined as subjective well-being. Everything that we would think increase our subjective well-being usually does. The economy aspect has definitely been a major aspect since the election (hopefully no one has slit their wrists yet) this past week in class we talked about our careers and how we want to use them in life. We did an exercise where we had to make of list what we find meaningful. I seemed to have a couple things on my list that stuck out to me. The most important values in my life are my family and what I want to show for my life. After listing what was meaningful to us we next listed our hobbies. For this section I wrote riding motorcycles and interacting with friends. I seemed to tie in my values with wanting to be a leader so maybe that’s why I have always wanted to go into the military. Lately I have been thinking about how I want to further my education after I graduate. I seemed to make my choices of my strengths and my personality traits. This weeks TED talk was defiantly very interesting but not one of my favorites. Getting hurt or disappointed is a part of life but we have to take how we deal with these situations and change our expectations. I think that is the most important part of growing. The whole water part of the TED talk was very interesting, I definitely learned a lot of new information from that. I can definitely back up the fact that Switzerland is one of the happiest places on earth. I went to Switzerland two summers ago and I had the time of my life. These past few weeks have been probably been the hardest of my life so maybe it’s time for a vacation to Switzerland.

American Society – 11/16

Eric Weiner’s lecture I found interesting because he summed up different studies we have talked about in class, but also touched on different ones. Weiner stated the study of winning th lottery and how it’s really not the best thing for you; he talked about surrounding yourself with loved ones. Furthermore, and to me most interesting, he stated there is now a pressure in American society to be happy, which creates unhappiness. Ironic… I have noticed more that individuals who seem to be happy a majority of the time are surrounded by people they’re close with.

Another research study Weiner mentioned was of people of Thailand, and how a honest and genuine smile in not with one’s lips but with their eyes.  This touched me because I think it’s so true. I find myself smiling to people on the street or in the halls as I walk by them, but it’s just a surface smile, I like to call it. I don’t know these people I smile at, and I may at the time, not truly be happy. My favorite smiles are the ones that light up someone’s face, but most of the time it makes me smile back – and really smile with my eyes.


For the exercise this week, I thought more about my next steps after graduation. I watched a documentary on Netflix called 13TH about the incarceration rates in America (very interesting, I recommend it). The documentary made me reflect on myself and how there are so many problems in America, even though we are viewed as a country of opportunities and success. It made me reflect on my psychology degree that I will earn in the Spring. It made me proud to have the knowledge to back my nonjudgmental attitude toward other, that embraces acceptance and advocacy for mental health, and proud to have the understanding that everyone goes through hard times in life to different extents. I feel like people that don’t like or understand psychology as a legitimate degree and career, don’t understand how much this field helps people. I’ve come to a realization that I do really want to use my degree for the better, whether with research to understand diseases and disorders, or to help others in therapy. Psychology is a wide, interesting and fulfilling field of study, I just have to figure out which direction I’m going to go.

Work and Happiness

I’ve realized what I should be doing as a career. In grad school, I’m going into Clinical Psychology. I’m also considering Psychiatry, but Clinical Psychology is for sure. I’m also big on suicide prevention, as an advocate member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Virginia Chapter, I’d love to keep with that and do more with it in the future.
I agree with what the Ted talk was saying, “money can and can’t buy happiness. It’s complicated”(Weiner, Eric. 2010). Money can ‘buy happiness’ for a time, but it’ll pass. Ultimately, money can’t buy happiness because no matter what materialistic things you have, they won’t fix a deeper problem, whether it be mental health, or a relationship problem, etc.

Blog post November 16th

In the article on productivity, I couldn’t agree more with the statements that were made by people that stop one from accomplishing what one needs to get done. I never used to think that my mood in the morning is going to affect the rest of my day because throughout the day things would change and it would impact my mood either ways. Lately though, I have noticed that my mood stays pretty stable throughout the day but what kind of mood my day starts with definitely influences my day. Another point that I found really interesting was the fact that forgiveness was on the list of things that help with productivity and that’s something I have been trying to include in my daily ” what am I grateful for” journal. 

When we were working on the in class activity, it reminded me of a similar activity that I did in another psychology course in the Spring semester last year. I thought it would be interesting to see if anything has changed since then and I wasn’t surprised when I got the same results once again. It was kind of nice to see that even after 9 months, I still got the same results which made me feel a little better because lately I was questioning the choices and career path decision that I have made. What I find really interesting is the fact that I made my career choice based on my character strengths, purpose and whether or not I find pleasure in it. I did not make my decision by going to a counselor or a career coach but it’s just crazy that only in 9th grade of High School I did this without realizing what I was doing. Of course it didn’t look exactly how we did it in class but it was very similar to it.

I liked the readings but the Ted Talk was really interesting to listen to. The speaker grabbed my attention right away when he said, “ where we are also affects our happiness.” One of the very strong statements in my opinion that the speaker made was regarding our expectations. I couldn’t agree more with everything he said. I constantly try to remind myself to lower my expectations just to not get hurt or disappointed. Our expectations can make us feel happy and miserable in no time at all. As I was listening to the Ted Talk, I began to compare in my head the third world countries and how much closer relationships they might have if they are not exposed to electronics, internet and half of the things we have in our lives.  We take a lot of things for granted and then once we lose it, we start to stress over it. Overall, these kind of TedTalks really make me more aware of my own choices and possible decision changes I could make to improve my life for the better.

Career Selection

This week I found that our career selection exercise went hand in hand with the concepts of subjective well being. Both essentially forced us to self evaluate and indicate which parts of our lives we find desirable as well as the things we don’t. I found this extremely helpful because it can point out the things we have a capacity for or are good at and compares them do those things that we simply enjoy. The two are not always contingent of each other and I find that to be very interesting. One of the questions asked in the exercise was “what do you find meaningful?” For myself it would simply be centered around the truths of the world. What I find more interesting is how those same truths change through the scope of place, race, culture and experience. Another question the exercise posed is “what gives me pleasure”. In my case it would be a bunch of things. To sum it all up, I would simply say consuming and critiquing popular culture. Everything from fashion, to cooking, to eating, music and even social justice reform would fall in that category. I’ve always enjoyed hearing unique and fresh perspectives centered around these topics. Another question was “what am I good at?” This question puzzled me  because I have always been unsure about that. I always find myself to be in some form of transition where I learn about and try new things depending on what my interest are at the time. If one were to simply pull out one of scopes of truth I find interesting, you could find libraries and articles full of rhetoric that take people lifetimes to master. Not really being 100 percent sure of what Im good at, I’d like to say that the disciplines of Psychology and African American studies have taught me skills of being critical and knowing how to organize my thoughts in writing. The next question poses what exactly would be my circumstances for a job.  For me it is crucial that I am allowed to be myself in my work environment and express myself how I please. Whether it be through my, hair, my clothing or my voice. I need those things to not be such a big deal where I work. I have always hated the concept of having to wear a suit when I might not want to in order to work for a CEO that shows up to the office in jeans and t-shirt. It has always bothered me. Other components would be meeting and interacting with different people. The kind of people that can inspire my train of thought, the kinds who are down to go out and experience things that give us new perspective. Its always kind of been a dream of mine. Still trying to figure everything out and knowing that grad school might not be in my immediate future, I’d love to intern or work for a company that revolves around culture. I’d consider being on a research team or even writing. Im just not exactly sure where.

Career Selection Exercise

In class last week we got a chance to start the career selection exercise. The first sections we were prompted to make a list of things that we find meaningful. The very first thing on that list was a relationship with my family. Also in that list I said things like helping others especially children. I also found helping people to solve or make plans to solve their issue were things I found to be meaningful. I also wrote down being a role model to be meaningful. The next section was a list of things that we liked doing. The first thing I had on that list was dancing. The next thing I put was making people smile or/and feel better. I also wrote down how much I loved problem solving, for other people. My listed also consisted of being around kids. I also added that I liked playing and listening to music. In the next list we were prompted to write down our strengths. One of my strengths was dance of course, since I’ve been doing it for approximately two decades. Another strength was helping others to solve or make plans to solve given issues. Also making others smile through laughter in tough times was another strength of mine. An additional strength of mine that I listed was anything having to do with children, especially children with special needs and/or disabilities.

In this exercise I found that a lot of the things I listed reappeared in the three different sections. As you have probably read, the main things that keep reappearing are centered around problem solving and children. These results remind me of the altitude test that I took in middle school. The results were very similar, as far as I can remember at least. And if I remember correctly the job suggestions that were given to me listed jobs like, Child psychologist, social worker, councilor, and other services dedicated to the wellbeing of adolescence or children. Looking back, I wasn’t happy with these results because I wanted to be a pediatrician, but even then I knew I wanted to work with children. Needless to say I got over it discovered the world of psychology and realized my strengths and calling was in child/ development psychology. I want to be a child psychologist initially but I also want to open a dance studio for special need children. Moreover, looking at the results of this exercise and my goals, things are starting to make a lot of sense.

11/16 Societies

In “National Accounts of Subjective Well-Being,” Diener proposes that nations adopt National Accounts of Well-Being to give additional information involved with policy deliberations. According to national accounts of subjective well-being the happiest nations are economically developed. Nations high in well-being are strong on the rule of law and human rights, tend to be lower in corruption, and have effective governments. Not only are accounts of subjective well-being important for assessing quality of life, but they also have a dynamic relationship with each increasing the likelihood of the other. Societies desire high well-being and need policies to foster that. By monitoring accounts of nation’s well-being policies can be influenced. Well-being can be affected by environmental factors. For example being in a healthy, natural environment increases well-being. Air pollution showed to have a negative effect on subjective well-being. The economy can also influence well-being. Having income security and employment programs associate with higher societal well-being. Other factors like corruption can also negatively affect subjective well-being. More research is necessary to influence policy to include information about well-being.

In Eric Weiner’s TED talk he starts by asking “where are you?” 80% of cell phone conversations involve this question. Some places are more conducive to happiness than others. The environment affects our mood. Humans enjoy looking at water views. This is because water means survival. National culture matters a lot in the happiest nations. Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland are some of the happiest places. Quality of society matters more than one’s place in it. Higher quality societies are more happy even if one’s position in society is small. The Swiss seem to be content and happy. In Iceland they embrace failure. This promotes creativity. Envious societies are bad for happiness. Feeling connected to people will increase happiness. In Denmark, they lower their expectations and this increases happiness. I like how he says that happiness should be approached like a crab or sideways because one should not over think happiness.

My career exercise involved working with children, which I expected. I really enjoy being around kids and I have always known that my career had to involve children. I have always wanted to be a pediatrician which would involve kids and make me happy but I don’t know if I am stoked about it because its a lot work. I think later on that career will fulfill my calling to work with children.

What peaks my interest

Completing last week’s exercise, I found a couple common points within my lists of things that have meaning, give me pleasure and my character strengths. I would have to say the biggest connection was centered around family and love. My family means a lot to me, and when I say family I am of course talking about my immediate biological family, but as well as my friends that I share a deep love for. I have always been told that I am a super loving person and I truly just want the best for the people around me. My long-term goal is to open a nonprofit organization in the Richmond Area. I believe that with my love for people and my drive to achieve I will successfully be able to form a Nonprofit that provides mentors to young children that come from single parent households.

Question: Where are you?
Answer: at work, watching this ted talk

We are creatures of place, where we are effects who we are. The place that we are also effects our happiness. The context in which Americans define happiness creates pressure, which in turn diminishes happiness. It is important as a people to be content in the now, making the best out of every situations and not approaching situations with preconceived notations of negativity. I often find that when I say I really don’t want to go to work and I get so frustrated with going to work that a 6 hour shift can feel like an eternity, but when I go in with a positive mindset it basically flashes by. Human beings must realize that our thoughts are what really have control over the situations and the way we react to a given situation is equally important.simply training your thoughts on a continuum of happiness can relieve stress in your life and lead to a better self.

What should be the goal of public policy? We agree with Thomas Jefferson. What matters is the quality of life, as people themselves experience it. And the best judge of each person’s life is that same person. Is she happy with her life; is she satisfied? In a democracy that should be the criterion of good policy.

People must be willing to determine for themselves what works and what brings them the most joy.

11.16 Societies

I began college in the nursing program at Marymount University. The reason why I picked that career was because I know two very clear things about myself: I wanted to help others and I can’t sit still all day. Despite no longer pursuing nursing, I still hold true to those two things. After the class activity, I re-highlighted wanting to help others but more specifically I’ve zeroed in wanting to work with adolescences from the Latino community.

I’m currently working in a psychology lab as a research assistant where occasionally I help in interventions and assessments to adolescences with ADHD. It’s allowed me to physically be involved and is more hands on then sitting in a desk all day. I’d like to similar work as a career but would like to explore other opportunities as well before committing to a specific graduate program.

I know that a vocation that would allow me to work and help those in the Latino community is right for me is because of past experiences. I grew up in a very White community where resources for Latinos was very limited and usually Church related. Today, it’s not so limited anymore but I’d like to give back to the community that has helped my family and friends. I’d also want to do interventions more specifically because I believe it allows stigmas about mental disorders to be removed from the community which is important to me as I have had to explain numerous times to my family that seeking therapy help doesn’t mean you are crazy.

As for the Tedtalk, I found the Latino Bonus interesting. “Happier than it should be,” was slightly offensive as I understand why the happiness levels to be expected to be lower and it’s like he briefly explained it to be due to family. I can’t help but reflect this to the previous Tedtalk that was seen where familial connection/social network was the key to living longer. Anyways, through his video the speaker explains reason that explain what causes and what doesn’t cause happiness. One of which was working. In connection to why people in Latino countries report to be happier, I believe is because of this explanation. These people may not make a lot of money and so I truly believe that their social ties with the people that surround them is the reason to their happiness. I believe that part of the culture is also a reason, as to “make the best of things,” is often the mentality that people with lower incomes/resources have.

But happiness is measured differently and can be subjective, as the studies presented in World Happiness Report. There are numerous ways to measure happiness which is great but I think at the end of the day I’m still left to question if there will ever be a key method to become happier in general? As far as the lectures go and reading in this class course, it’s apparent that there are many way to do it, seek it, achieve it but happiness is so up in the air that it’s also apparent that it can be easily lost.


I really enjoyed this weeks readings, viewings and exercises. I missed last weeks class so I didn’t get to participate in the in class activity but I attempted to do so on my own. I found that I am genuinely interested in learning and that I find helping others makes life meaningful for me. With that being said, I feel that my chosen career path, psychology, is a very fitting choice.

The ted talk was very informative. I totally agree with the idea that where we are effects us. Also, I couldn’t agree more with the statement that money can and can’t buy happiness. I can totally relate to that statement. On one note, money doesn’t truly determine happiness such as things like love, family, having meaningful careers and relationships. Yet, on the other hand without money, it’s seems impossible to enjoy life because you tend to worry about not having it.

The  article on subjective well being was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  My mood has an effect on everything that I do or don’t do. All to many times in my life have I said ” I’m not in the mood to do that”. After reading the article I have began  to question, how many meaningful experiences have I missed out on in life because I was in my feelings and refused to participate.

Career Path and Societies

I really enjoyed this in class/out of class exercise we did with finding a career we are interested in. Although I’m still not 100% sure what I want to do this definitely helped narrow down a couple ideas. Where I found overlap in what I find meaning in, what I get pleasure from, and strengths was working with children, trying new things/traveling, and building positive relationships with other people. I don’t think I want to incorporate much traveling in my job because I want to keep my family in one place if possible. This left me with working with children and building positive relationships with other people. Well…that’s about a million things. I’ve been told that I work really well with children with autism and I enjoy working with kids with special needs. But I have limited experience with this and I struggle with committing to something to do for the rest of my life when psychology is such a huge field an I’ve only seen a small portion of the option available. I’ve decided to take a year or so off from grad school in order to explore different areas of psychology where I can work with kids. What I really got out of this exercise was finding my character strengths. This is not something I usually think about and I really appreciated being able to take some time and notice the good qualities I have.

I really connected to this weeks Ted Talk. One point that really stood out to me was that there are more words to describe feelings of unhappiness rather than happiness. I’ve definitely noticed this in my life especially when I’m angry because I feel like we are more likely to verbally express feelings of anger or sadness. When I’m in an argument with someone I know I tend to spew off phrases like “im so pissed, you make me so angry, I’m mad, I’m upset, etc.” But when I’m happy very few words come to mind to express my feelings. This makes me wonder if I’m more of an unhappy person because it is easier to express unhappy thoughts or if it is more socially acceptable to portray unhappy thoughts. I also was intrigued by the thought that we essentially live by the concept of “if you have it flaunt it” in terms of money. Throughout our class the idea that money does not correlate with happiness is proven more and more to be true. I wonder that the reason people flaunt their money in attempts to prove to other people that they are happy. In other countries, countries that rank higher on the happiness scale, don’t do this. There’s no way I can change the mind of every American, but I think I will start trying to live the way people who are truly happy live.

Societies, Jobs, and Happiness

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Rotterdam, the Netherlands

  1. Completing last week’s exercise, I found a couple commonalities within my lists of (1) things that have meaning, (2) things that give me pleasure, (3) and character strengths. A couple in particular stood out. First, people were included in all three categories. Not only friends and family members but people in general. I consider people a strength in that I rarely have a fear of approaching people–complete strangers. This makes sense, I guess, because I either want to go into some sort of clinical psychology/counseling program, or maybe become a professor after graduate school. Additionally, travel fell into all three categories in some way. But for me, travel and people go hand in hand: meeting new people in an unfamiliar place is to me both pleasurable and meaningful. And you learn how to better communicate. Some people are afraid to travel alone, so I consider it a strength in that regard. It, in turn, strengthens me further. Unfortunately, though, it’s hard to find a job that pays you to travel. My goal, rather, is to build a life from which I don’t have to take a vacation. I borrowed that from somewhere, but it’s a near perfect description spiraling back to doing what you love, and loving what you do. Happy environment, healthy food, healthy mind/body give you a very happy person.
  2. Eric Weiner’s Ted Talk was really enjoyable. It was reminiscent of Dan Gilbert’s talk “The Surprising Science of Happiness” and Robert Waldinger’s “What makes a good life?” I saw a few overarching notions here. How we individually and culturally define happiness affects our perception and self-report of it. I like how Eric breaks down the components of what set apart the happy and not-so-happy countries: envy, money, relationships, expectations about future (The Danish who give 100% but you have 0% invested the results–to me, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, but feed them grass and let them roam around cage-free). “Happiness should be approached sideways, like a crab.” I really liked this line, mainly because I’d never thought about it before. He referred to happiness as “slippery” and everything just made sense to me. I didn’t particularly agree with what he said about happiness not being the expectation but I’ll get back to that. Also, relationships are extremely important to health, happiness, and overall life satisfaction.
  3. The readings were a bit dense, but subjective well-being helping to create a better society seems like a good idea. I found particularly interesting the optional article concerning the Netherlands: The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. As mentioned before, I was lucky enough to have studied in Amsterdam for a semester–and it’s amazing. The fact that the database and story centers in Rotterdam rather than Amsterdam is really cool. “It’s the kind of place you could spend hours nursing one beer, and I suspect many people do that.” He’s exactly right. But he’s wrong in saying Rotterdam is not a beautiful city! I beg to differ. See the attached picture. He describes it as “grey and dull” which is most all of the Netherlands…like 70% of the time it’s either raining or about to rain. But the sun comes out quite often too, even if only for an hour or two. He continues that Rotterdam has “few sights of interest.” Well, yeah, but that might be because it was bombed during WWII and most of the city was leveled. Since then, it’s grown and is much more bright and colorful attracting a diverse group of people.

Anyways, a couple things stood out to me from his reading regarding happiness. (1) We must be careful about how we translate language and collect data. Another reminder to read critically of research and to look for any sort of botch or bias. (2) The claim that, “Believe it or not, most people in the world say they are happy,” is amazing to me. I think that’s incredible. Virtually every country in the world scores somewhere between five and eight on a ten-point scale, with only a couple rare exceptions. Even third world countries like those mentioned in sub-Saharan Africa report being moderately happy. So what do I take from all this? It’s all about what you’re used to. And be grateful! (3) The remark, “Worst of all was Freud…He once said: ‘The intention that Man should be happy is not in the plan of Creation.'” Thanks to Psyc 451 and Dr. Donahue, we learned that Freud was often mistranslated and his notions were commonly misconstrued. Even still, I don’t know if anyone can speak to the “plan of Creation”… no? We don’t even know if this is what he meant–direct translations don’t account for a number of things such as sarcasm or idioms or certain implications. Even if we take his quote literally, it could mean that you aren’t necessarily entitled to happiness, you must make it or find it yourself, among many other things. And if that’s what he meant in his quote, I agree. This goes back to the Ted talk, where the assertion is made that happiness is, and shouldn’t necessarily be, the expectation held by humans. Speaking personally, it’s not so much my expectation as it is my goal, what I aim to achieve on a moment-to-moment and day-to-day basis.

  1. Final note: This guy doesn’t try very hard to hide his quite brutal description of the benefits of living in Europe. He says that they don’t have to worry about losing their health insurance, or for that matter their job. The state will take care of them. They get a gazillion weeks of vacation each year and…are also entitled to, at no extra cost, a vaguely superior attitude towards Americans. Does smugness lead to happiness? I wonder…?” Ouch, dude. Sounds like you’re a little jealous or something. He speaks about the Dutch as “a nation where, it seems, the adults are out of town and the teenagers are in charge. Not just for the weekend, either. All of the time.” Okay, first off, what’s the issue with that? As a testament to the country’s safety (and the city of Amsterdam), the Dutch crime rate is so low they’re using their empty jails to house Syrian refugees. Just think about that for a second. And second, most of the Dutch do have a young, lively, very tolerant spirit about them, and this could be contributed to many things. But many of the hooligans and drug heads you see in trouble are Americans, British, or from some other country. But mostly the British (because of proximity probably.

Not speaking from experience, do you know how hard it is to get put into a Dutch jail? Not the whole you-got-too-drunk-here-pillows-and-blankets-you’re-free-to-go-in-the-morning Politie hotel type of holding cell service, but more of an actual jail cell despite the fact they’ll actually help rehabilitate you if you need medical help. (cough, cough American “criminal justice” system).

Blog Post 11/16 Societies

Eric Weiner’s TED talk, brought to mind something that happened to my sister-in-law just the other day. Her sister told her mom that she wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving because she didn’t want to share the holiday with “racist Trump supporters.” This to refer to Weiner’s elaboration of how happiness is dependent on cultural happiness. There is a lot of upheaval in the last week, and I am not placing blame or taking sides but, as a culture, we are not currently happy.

In the Diener et al. article, it is said, “college students value subjective well-being more than other valued items such as income, health, and even love.” Since subjective well-being is defined as “the degree to which their thoughtful appraisals and effective reactions indicate that their lives are desirable and proceeding well,” this makes perfect sense that it is most valued by college students. Uneducated individuals are typically concerned with making ends meet, making it to the next paycheck, and many of their decisions are backed my financial reasoning. Those with an education, in general, do not see a world of dollar bills but make decisions that are true to their character and backed by passion and integrity. This being said, the aforementioned individual, sister to my sister-in-law, is a student at Christopher Newport, and that makes her decisions just a little more disappointing.

I was absent from the last class, so I do not have access to the exercise that was done in class, referring to career selection. However, I am not someone who wants to “zero in” on career, because I do not want to do one thing for the rest of forever. I get bored really easily, I have lived in about 16 different places and I loved it. I love change. I only came to this realization recently, so most of my life I thought I was just being indecisive, and doing everything wrong. I don’t want to do one thing, but I want to do everything. I received a job offer a few days ago located in Denver, and I am not sure what I want more, to move across the country and start somewhere new, or to do the work that would be expected of me. Qualities that “stoke” me usually has a sense of adventure and uncertainty.

11/16 work

I was out sick last week, so I had to ask a fellow student to fill me in on the in class assignment, so hopefully I did it correctly. I was kind of upset that I missed this because it really intrigued me, and seemed a bit related to what I was learning in another class recently. My results of the activity didn’t really surprise me, if anything it made me more confident about the career path I am working towards. What did come as a bit of a shock was that process the activity had us follow was very similar to the process I was helped through when trying to figure out what to major in, and what future career I would be aspiring to.
While I didn’t write anything out then, I talked over the three categories, purpose, pleasure, and character strengths, looked at what overlapped, what career choices satisfied as many of these areas as fully as possible. Though it was in a different format, the process either way was hugely beneficial for me, at the time I had been feeling hopeless and like I would be forced to sacrifice some part of myself, alway feel like the round peg in a square hole. However after working through that process, I realized that there was something that would fit me perfectly, and it had been staring me in the face my whole life.

There is another exercise from a different psychology class along the same lines, that asks if money was no issue what would you do with your life, when you have that answer that is the answer to what you ought to do. Find a way to make that dream, your reality. I think that combining both of those would be incredibly beneficial to anyone who is trying to figure out what they want to do with their life, what career path to pursue. Too often there are all these pressures or other people’s opinions and values cluttering us when we try and make these decisions. How often have you heard someone with a significant artistic gift, saying they won’t pursue it because, though they love it, “we all know i could never make a career of this”. With many jobs and passions people cut out most of the possibilities before they really give themselves a chance to think about it.  Because perhaps that artist wouldn’t do well in a gallery or trying to sell commissions, but maybe they could find a job that utilized their skill as an artist in other ways. I think that this is a good way to combat these external pressures and maybe some internal doubts. Because when you look at the results, I think there is something about seeing how right this career really is for you, an excitement that helps quiet the rest of the noise, there is definitely something there that gives a little extra push to maybe look into options you didn’t let yourself consider until then.

The ted talk also reminded me of something from another class that ties really well into the topic being discussed. There isn’t a lot of happiness in america, despite all the things we seem to have going for us, and a part of that is due to the way money equates to successes. I am not saying that money isn’t important, I mean a person’s socioeconomic status is directly related to their health and predictive of the age at which they will die, however money isn’t everything. In the video in this other class, it talked about one of the issues we have is that we pick unfulfilling jobs to make money but a sort of cycle forms where we keep doing things we don’t want to do, because we feel like we have to, and even if it means not making as much money wouldn’t it be worth it to do something you truly loved? I think both the readings from this week and the discussions from this other class really drive the point home, that it is better to do what you love, than to do something you hate just because it fits society’s expectations better.

The only thing I feel that is really left out of most of these conversations, is that money is also important. A lot of times it feels like we don’t have as much of a choice because we have other responsibilities, we have to think about more than just temporary happiness, which I think is what prevents most people from doing what they love. Sure I could run off with the circus, but what if i get injured, how will i survive? What happens if I no longer have any marketable skills? What if I don’t make enough money to get by, or become a drain on those I care about? What if I can’t provide for myself, what if when I don’t set myself up for old age, what will I do then? These and many other questions I think are what pushes us away from the ideas being discussed, and typically the first argument is, that isn’t it worth taking a pay cut to do what you really love? Maybe not if it affects the ones I love, or could have major negative impacts on my life. To combat that I think it is just as important to consider, what are ways to make what you love work for you. Maybe you can’t become a professional video game player, or the risks are too great but maybe you could find a job designing video games. Maybe all you want to do is travel, but every job you find that involves travel is unappealing to you, so perhaps you find a career that fits almost everything you want, and that gives you enough time and money that you can go and travel in your down time. Dropping everything for your passion doesn’t always seem realistic but, finding what you are really passionate about, what really fits you, and then doing the research to make that work; that is doable.  It’s all about the middle ground, not just the passion, not just what seems realistic and safe, when careers are approached from that direction, with the intention to find what is meaningful and find where that will intersect with a career that seems possible, I think that is where we will find the best outcomes.

Society and Productivity


I love the reading on how to make difficult task on your “to-do” list less daunting. I had heard most of the suggestions, but my favorite  was making a “did-it” list at the end of the day. Sometimes I will beat myself up and think that I did not do enough in a day, but after discussing with someone what I did in a day I realize it was more productive than I thought. Also, taking the time to acknowledge all that you did even if none of those things were on your “to-do” list is a good way to give yourself some much-needed props.

Career Goals in class exercise

The in-class exercise on finding our vocation gave me a lot of piece of mind because what I wrote was not a surprise to me. My qualities fit well into working with children, being a part of outdoor, group activities, and spirituality. I began moving towards a career as a documentarian because I want to travel, be outside, and meet new people. I thought this career would be a sure fire way to accomplish all of this. Now, after my assignment, it made me realize that maybe I should be a group leader for outdoor adventure programs with children, or, another dream of mine, is creating a channel/ show on tv about teaching children mindfulness or a show that encourages children to travel.

Ted Talk

This may have been my favorite Ted Talk of this semester. My favorite points he made was about staying connected to people and having lower expectations. I know, especially in cities, that a lack of interpersonal relationships with people is a leading of cause of feeling dissatisfied with life. I found myself thinking about this while I was having dinner with my girlfriends in D.C. and saw a woman having dinner alone. Besides feeling disconnected with so many strangers around you, I wonder how people moving away from families affect them as well. I believe technology has made people more comfortable with moving farther away from close family members because now they are a phone call, facetime, or Facebook post away. Still, it makes me wonder if this lack of physical contact with those that we love make us suffer. Before, when transportation was not as advanced, people would live and die with those they grew up with. Now, we move across the country from everyone we are close to and may only visit two times a year if we are lucky. I am all for exploration, but I fear moving away from my family and friends puts me at risk of feeling a void that family and friends fill.

The suggestion on lowering our expectations was also interesting. It made me think of how I typically study for an exam. I am reading a book that will be covered on an exam and will be thinking about the fact that it will get me an A on the exam. If I do not finish reading it, I will scare myself into thinking, ” I did not finish the book. I am going to do terrible on the exam.” I actually have no idea how I am going to do so I might as well stop psyching myself up for failure or success and just do the tasks that I need to do.

11.16.16 Societies

Subjective well-being is described as people’s evaluations of their lives and the degree to which their thoughtful appraisals and affective reactions indicate that their lives are desirable and proceeding well. In the National Accounts of Subjective well-being, the happiest nations were found to be economically developed and relatively wealthy. This is because due to their income they are able to meet their basic needs which thus increases their subjective well-being. They also say that they have strong law and human rights, effective governments, progressive taxation, income security programs, political freedom as well as benefits for the unemployed. All of these things aid in raising people’s overall levels of well-being. Bymaking subjective well-being an important goal for the community we are better able to create new policies that make attaining this goal more important.

The World Happiness report reading went into more detail about the happiness and well-being for helping to devise public policies. What I found interesting about this reading is that the OECD Guidelines have led to an increasing number of national and local governments to use happiness data that could help people to live better lives. I really liked the picture that depicted the average national life evaluation. This showed how happy different parts of the world felt about their life. North America as well as South America and part of Europe and Australia reported high ratings of their lives whereas other areas that are known for harsher living conditions such as Africa and Russia measured their lives a great deal lower. This connects all the variables described earlier in the reading about how things such as income can affect the way that individuals rate their lives.

The Ted talk by Eric Weiner started by asking where we are and establishing that where we are is apart of who we are and thus how happy we are. When he described place he was referring to culture and that some countries are happier than others. Scientists ask you how happy you are on a scale of one to ten, happiness is subjective. Mr. Weiner showed a similar picture as the one that was shown on The World Happiness report which portrayed the happier countries in the world. This picture used opposite color coding as the one from the previous article which made it a little confusing at first however they  were in fact the same. Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland are the happiest places which are opposite of what you would think, meaning thinking about warm tropical paradises. So what causes this? The quality of the society is more important than your place in it. More money does make you happier however only up until a certain point. Qatar is one of the wealthiest places in the world and yet they are not the happiest. He explained the Swiss view on money, if you’ve got money hide it versus boasting about it. Switzerland is content with what they have. He described that there is more words for negative emotions versus happy emotions which is intriguing it makes me wonder is this because it’s easier to be unhappy or because there are more unhappy people. I was also surprised that Iceland was happier than most they embrace failure. They would rather fail for the right reasons versus succeed for the wrong reasons. Iceland has a huge social cohesion, most of Iceland’s natives are related to each other at some point in their lineage. There is always someone to catch you and help you pick yourself back up. The country is like a big family which to me is amazing in the U.S. we are so divided it’s all about beating one another or competing. I see this especially being a female myself between other females. Instead of all girls being friends like I think they should in my opinion because we have so much in common we are continuously comparing ourselves to others and putting others down due to insecurity or jealousy. It is so unfortunate we were all made to be different because we can all bring something different to the table and yet we try to conform to be one way that we believe is socially acceptable. I also loved his discussion about smiling in the eyes versus the mouth in Thailand and how they smile at funerals. The U.S. is number 23 on the scale of the happiest countries even though we are one of the wealthiest country. He described this because of the changing nature of how we define happiness. He compared Aristotle’s view to the modern day and how it is an expectation to be happy which creates pressure. The things that we can do to increase our happiness is to Crush Envy, Do not win the lottery, get connected with others,  lower your expectations (Give a 100% effort and invest 0% in the results), happiness is elusive and slippery and that we shouldn’t tackle it head on. It’s so interesting that the things that we think are normal and that we should do in fact are some of the things that we will make us the least happy. This directly correlates to the homework exercise for me. I always felt this pressure to make lots of money and thus wanted to go into medicine. I had a knack for bedside manner and most of the concepts however when it came to the undergraduate classes such as chemistry and biology my drive wasn’t there and it began to push me into a place where I didn’t feel smart enough and that VCU was not the school for me because the educators weren’t here to see us succeed but instead to see us fail so that we retake the course and thus give them more money. I then switched my major back to the original one that I had in mind and was in a confused wish washy phase until I started to work where I do currently which played on my strengths as a designer. I knew I wanted to do more home design like the shows you see on HGTV however what I didn’t know is that I had a knack for event design as well that is until I planned my sister’s wedding this fall. It was incredibly stressful however it turned out to be a shining moment when I became the adult I was supposed to be and for the first time in my life I felt “found” and not hopelessly lost. My path to my career was not the “picture perfect” path of only four years in college and knowing exactly what I was doing when I was 5 or in high school however, I chose to figure my life out instead of feeling pressured to move forward or choose something that I didn’t really want. Change is scary and false security can sometimes keep us in a place because we think that we have it all figured out when we really don’t.

November 16th Blog Post

The career selection exercise was interesting for me because it made me think more about how I feel gratified when I’m helping others. I’ve always known that I get a good feeling when I know I’ve helped someone out and  never have been worried about getting something in return. I enjoy talking to my friends and family especially when they have a problem that they are having a hard time with. I like to try to offer my best advice and tell them what I would do in that situation. My other big interest is creating music, whether it be on the computer, guitar, piano, etc. When I was very young my mom bought me a guitar and ever since then music has been my passion. I have been working for the past 5 years on my computer learning the ins-and-outs of sound engineering as a hobby. This exercise made me think of ways I could put those two loves together into one career. Music and psychology go hand-in-hand. It would be really great to be able to have a job where I could do both of the things I love, simultaneously. I still am unsure exactly what that calling might be but I know what it involves and it wouldn’t feel like work to me so it would be a great path to explore.

The readings this week talked about quite a few things however, one stuck out to me in particular. I liked the reading about to-do lists and stress levels.  I use to do lists in my daily life almost all the time, 1) because I can’t remember things and 2) because it helps me release the tension I hold inside when I don’t have to remember everything, I can just write it down. When I feel overwhelmed I like to make a to-do list for the rest of the year and put down as many things I can think of that need to be done in that amount time. After I finish with my list I usually look it over and feel a wave of calmness because I know its all on paper now. It also prevents me from stressing over one thing on the list  in particular that might not need to be worried about until later.  I also thought the Ted Talk this week pretty was interesting. To me, it is not surprising that we are one of the biggest nations but don’t have the highest happiness levels. I feel like the media and standards of today don’t stress the importance of family and relationships but instead wealth and status.  Wealth  may bring us happiness immediately but in the long run relationships are the source of true happiness. Many other countries stress the importance of family and I think the United States could learn a valuable lesson from them.


For me when I was in high school before applying to college is when I really started to finalize my thoughts on what I believed my calling was. All I knew was I liked helping people and working with children, having a narrow mindset at the time, of course I assumed teacher was the best position for me. Once I had told my mom of this decision she was not happy, she had no support for my choice what so ever due to the low income teachers make. Since she was the one paying for my tuition and helping me through school I had to pick something of her approval. Although I do not agree with her parenting style in this way, it had me rethink this choice. It actually ended up leading me to realize I wanted to help people at a deeper level, which I wanted to do through therapy. Through doing the exercise in class I am still confident in this choice for my future. It is a career that I am more than thrilled to do for the rest of my life. Last year I took the intro to the helping relation class, the only reason I took the class was it honestly just fit in my schedule. But after the first day just going through the syllabus about what the class was all about I was hooked. The class is based on learning client counseling techniques, and whenever I was in that class all i could think was “This is where I need to be”. It was such an amazing feeling to feel affirmed that I was making the right decision and I looked forward to that class every week.

I enjoyed this weeks Ted talk, because it dove deep into a topic that has come up a lot this semester. That being money and happiness. In this Ted Talk Eric Weiner goes over happiness and different countries. He disproves the belief that money is strongly correlated to happiness. The United States being the richest and most powerful country in the world, yet rating around 26 I believe he said on happiness in comparison to 100 other countries. Another thing that Weiner talked about was something I never thought of, but that we basically live by the thought of “If you have it, flaunt it”. Specifically in the United States, which is so absolutely true, we focus on showing everyone that we are wearing all the brand name clothing, or posting on Facebook about our new car?  Obviously we are doing these things to show off our wealth, why else would we do it? Sadly our world today focuses our success based on our wealth, and that if you are not making a lot of money are you really doing well in life? Which all connects to this weeks topic of jobs and finding your best fit. That when you compare people who genuinely enjoy their job, and it is their passion so they enjoy going to work, as opposed to people who are miserable making tons of money? That people who love their jobs are much happier. So although my mom will always be proud of my brother who did engineering for the money he will make, I am more than happy knowing I will be helping people and that will be extremely rewarding for me.

November 16 Blog

My results for the career exercise we did in class weren’t too surprising to me. In the center of my little triad of circles was creating and writing, two things I love, find meaning in, and feel I am good at. And the reason this isn’t too big of a surprise is because I already have the opportunity to hold a job that encompasses those two qualities. In 2014 my mother and I signed on as co-others of a young adult science fiction series with a publishing company that we had initially only reached out to in order to see if we could pay them to bind our story as a hardback just for us. Instead, we actually got a paying job writing this story we had both just started as stress relief and fun. Now, when she finishes her dissertation for her PhD in Public Communications in two months, we will both be receiving a paycheck for something we already love to do. Until then I have been working a part-time management position in order to pay rent, and I definitely prefer the writing. While deadlines can be stressful, when you are so engrossed in your work, creating this wonderful story with engaging characters and plot twists galore, you don’t notice when a deadline comes and goes. It doesn’t feel like work the way my manager gig does.

What’s really interesting is that neither of us saw it coming; for all intents and purposes it was a surprise job. Originally, I wanted to do something with psychology (hence the course) because I find the topic content fascinating and engaging. However, this opportunity came along to achieve in something I’m equally passionate about so I took it. I think sometimes people get to focused on one thing they want to do, one thing that makes them happy that they want to make a career out of, that they forget that we are dynamic, changing people. Your likes may change and you don’t just have one singular thing that makes you happy. If I had been too focused on psychology then I would have missed a fantastic opportunity. When people get narrow minded and pinpoint focused, they miss out on the things that can truly bring happiness, instead focusing on what they or society dictates might bring happiness. Everyone would be a little bit happier if they kept their blinders off.

November 16, 2016 Societies

I think I have a very clear idea of what I would like my future career to be.  Most importantly, I would like to make a difference in people’s lives. I enjoy helping people.  I enjoy listening to people.  I would like to: research how and why one commits to a mindfulness practice, become a psychology professor and have a private practice.  I want to be able to help people overcome their minds.  I have a strong drive and passion for my career goals.  I know I have wanted to become a clinical psychologist since I was 17. I am 21 and I still want to be a clinical psychologist. Hopefully, I don’t regret my choice in the future. We never know until we get there.

I found this week’s Ted Talk to be very enjoyable.  It touched upon themes we have discussed throughout the course. Humans, especially Americans have this false belief that money will the determining factor of their “success” and “happiness”. We are socialized to hold this belief at a very young age.  We are bombarded with imagery of the rich and famous.  We are supposed to strive to be like them.  This just makes us unhappy because that is an impossible task. Honestly, our society profits on our unhappiness and most of us are too blind to even see it.  Also, if we know money is correlated to happiness to a certain degree, why don’t we have a living wage.  Everyone working a full time job should be able to live comfortably.  This would take so much stress and unhappiness out of so many peoples’ lives.  Our country should invest in “National Gross Happiness”.  Citizens being happier would make for a more productive society.  I was surprised by Iceland’s happiness level.  I really could not find myself being happy in a cold, wet, dark place. I feel like it would make me really vitamin D deficient and depressed.  The speaker mentioned the lottery a few times.  I personally would only like to win the lottery privately.  I once read an interview with a lottery winner.  It actually sounds really stressful.  The lottery winner was personally attacked for not giving donations to certain causes, he constantly had people asking him for money, etc.  He was dehumanized due to his extreme wealth. That does not seem fun and I could only imagine how awful it must be to feel as if everyone is all “buddy buddy” with me in the mere chance I decide to give them money or spend money on them.

Jobs and Happiness

I started out my college career thinking I knew exactly what I wanted. Looking back now as I senior I chuckled because it’s the exact opposite. I was adamant as a freshman that I didn’t want to be a teacher. I wanted to do anything but teach because I equated being a teacher something unsuccessful because it didn’t pay well (a thought shared by much of America hence why schools are so under funded). But as a freshman who did orientation last I wound up in an Art Education class (the only one still open because no one wanted to take it) as part of my Art Foundations experience. We spent one day in a kindergarten class and I was sold. I had so much fun and enjoyed it so much I couldn’t imagine doing anything else because it felt like something that I could do everyday and now almost 4 years later, as I’m getting ready to actually be a certified teacher, the thought hasn’t changed. I think it’s a great fit because I get so much joy out of working with children, that all of that out weighs the red tape and upper brass of education. If I’ve got one student who was happy I was there, than that’s all I need at the end of the day.


I thought the readings this week were really interesting, especially the Ted Talk. Despite America being one of the most powerful countries in the world, it’s not the happiest. And I’m not sure I would believe it if someone said it was. Just taking things I’ve learned from this class, America equates money with success, money with happiness, status and flaunting of wealth with happiness, and prioritizes selfishness. None of those things will make you happy. Just look at how America is right now, engulfed in riots, rallies and protests because a candidate ran on exploiting peoples’ fears and won. We aren’t happy on a large scale like other countries. I think the idea of making decisions off people’s happiness is a great idea. Happiness normally promotes prosperity, which would probably boost not only the economy but also ideas and innovation. The to-do article stated that people were the most creative when they were relaxed. What if the country invested in people’s well being, instead of just economic growth and military prowess? Would we find the cure for cancer or figure out space travel? If people were happier would they succeed better and go farther? I think the potential of that is far greater than someone stuck playing the victim card because they live in an illusion where their lack of wealth equates to how they view themselves. I just wonder what America would look like if we took people’s happiness into consideration when making and passing legislature.


I had never done an activity like the career selection exercise we did in class. For me, there were only a few themes that persisted in the three categories of purpose, pleasure, and character strengths. My friends and some family members have told me that I am good at giving advice/listening, and helping others. Additionally, helping others in any way I can is inherently purposeful, and makes me feel good about myself. Throughout my childhood, I considered becoming a counseling psychologist; however, my interests shifted toward becoming a nurse. I eventually want to be a nurse practitioner, possibly even a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Nursing in general, however, is all about helping others, listening to problems and finding solutions. Though I will not truly know if this career gives me pleasure until I am established in it, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences I have had shadowing nurses/nurse practitioners, and volunteering in the hospital. Another character strength that I am told I possess is that I am extremely “kind hearted.” I genuinely empathize with people, even complete strangers, and try my best to be kind in every situation. Being nice to others brings me pleasure, and is also innately full of purpose. Ultimately, I truly believe that I can be a great nurse and feel very fulfilled in this career. I believe that nursing is my “calling,” and I hope that I am right about this.

I found the reading regarding to-do lists very interesting. The idea that simply having a sense of control over a situation tends to reduce stress levels seems very applicable across the field of psychology. For instance, when I experience heightened anxiety, it’s often because I want to control things that are impossible to control. This can manifest in so many different ways for different people. For instance, individuals with obsessive- compulsive disorder actually become so obsessed and fixated on having a certain type of control and carry out specific compulsions to maintain this control. I have a friend that has suffered from bulimia for almost 10 years. When her life becomes very chaotic and stressful in ways that she cannot control, she often relapses into binging and purging. It is hypothesized that bulimia, along with other eating disorders, starts as an outlet for one to gain control, yet paradoxically leads to the individual having no control. I think stress levels depend on how one gains a sense of control, for instance, if one gains control in an adaptive way or a maladaptive way.

I found the TED talk on the “geography of happiness” extremely interesting. Eric Weiner states that “happiness has an address” and that some places are “more conducive to happiness.” I was honestly surprised to see the different levels of happiness on a global scale. He emphasized the idea that winning the lottery will not bring someone long-term happiness, and deemed it statistically impossible to think of ourselves as exceptions to this rule. I am pretty confident with the idea that winning the lottery would not make me happier. In fact, I think having a large amount of money at my disposal would amplify my problems even more. I would spend money on things that are pleasurable but not meaningful, and probably become even more hedonistic. With this considered, I have never been in a position where I was struggling financially to the point where basic needs weren’t being met. If this were the case, I think winning the lottery would definitely increase my happiness.




I liked the career selection exercise because I don’t think I would have realized how everything lined up. Helping others was a common theme among all the categories of purpose, pleasure, and character strengths. Under what gives me purpose, I had helping others. Under what gives me pleasure, I put spending time with people I love and random acts of kindness. Under character strengths I had love, kindness, and social intelligence. These seemed to line up nicely. I always knew that I liked helping others but it was really encouraging to see that it also lined up with my strengths of love, kindness, and social intelligence. I think there’s always a fear that when you pick a major or a career path that you’ll end up not actually being good at it so it’s comforting to see when your strengths align with what you enjoy doing and what you want to do. I’ve been thinking a lot lately if I want to go to grad school and which psychology path I want to take, clinical or counseling. I think this has reinforced my feeling of going to counseling because I think that’s where my strengths are and that’s where I’ll feel most fulfilled. I’m not sure what I want to do yet or if grad school is what I want to do but it helps knowing that I have a ballpark and I can start researching careers in counseling and seeing if that’s really what I want to do.

From the readings this week, one thing that stuck out to me was that societies high in well being are strong on human rights. This stuck with me because of our recent election and the fact that many Americans now fear for their rights under Trump. It’s an interesting topic this week because I definitely felt the low mood around campus following the election so I wonder if a survey of the nation’s feelings right now would reflect this. Obviously it wouldn’t be overwhelming since people did vote for Trump and are happy about his win, but I wonder how the subjective well being of the country as a whole would be right now if it was measured. It was also a little ironic how the next point in the article mentioned how happier societies have efficient and effective governments. Most of the other points about happy societies seemed like common sense or things that we had already discussed in class. Another point that stuck with me from the TED talk was slightly lowering expectations because I feel like this is my biggest problem. I’ve written about it before because I always hype everything up too much and end up being disappointed.

I think this week’s readings really tied up the class nicely and summarized a lot of key points that we discussed throughout the semester about happiness and well-being and applied them to a larger scale than just on a personal level.

A New Calling? 11/15

The career selection exercise sparked a flame of passion I haven’t permitted myself to pursue since high school. Here, listed are the questions along with my answers: 1. “What gives you purpose/ What is meaningful?”: People, friends, art, and music. 2. “What gives you pleasure?”: Partying, music, discovering music, talking about music, and learning. 3. “What are your strengths?”: Social intelligence and bravery. So, as you can see music came up a few times as a reoccurring theme. Because of this, I pondered how meaningful and pleasurable a life as a music producer would be, and realized I haven’t made any music since my senior year in high school. I plan on downloading a music program in the near future; I hope to, at least, use music production as a healthy stress reliever and entertainment outlet.

The article attached in the email addressed to the class, by Eric Barker titled “How the most productive people power through their to-do lists,” was a helpful reminder and push to get all my homework done this weekend. I specifically liked, and plan on implementing, starting my day off happy (getting up early, not to do homework, instead to play video games), make awful tasks my own (incorporating my social intelligence/psychology knowledge in my assignments to make them more meaningful,) and break down procrastination (setting smaller goals to achieve one at a time, instead of “do all your homework”.)

I was happy to see another ted talk this week! It helped me conclude a hectic day by offering various optimistic lenses’ on stress, happiness, meaning, etc. from different countries around the world. Some important points I thought stood out, include: Don’t think too much, (slightly) lower expectations, and finally his criticism of the hedonic treadmills role regarding happiness, especially in our capitalistic society spoke to me. It was meaningful because he reiterated points brought up in my Sociology of Consumption class, as well as this class, that lead me to question the hedonic treadmill approach toward happiness. I think Its really cool when my classes unintentionally build atop one another, which in turn gives me a grand, holistic view of issues from various sub perspectives on sociological (macro) and psychological (micro) levels.

where are you going?

During the readings and watching the TED talk, the major point discussed is where are you and where are you going? It has been proven that where you are now, and what your future plans are can affect how you feel now, it can affect your happiness and it can change your personality. This makes a lot of sense, because someone who has a plan for their future or has some idea of what they want to do seems to be a relatively happier and more pleasant person. I found the readings very interesting, ever since I was a child I always knew what I wanted to do. Granted, my mind changed a few times, but I always had some type of plan. First I wanted to be a Veterinarian, then I wanted to do physical therapy, then I decided on teaching and since I started VCU I decided on social work, and I am stopping there.

From the career selection exercise- yes I was able to zero in on a career path that I am incredibly excited about. I have always been great working with children and I have worked with and volunteered with children since I was twelve years old. When I talked to my advisor upon arriving at VCU, I decided on social work and I am so excited to start that journey. I think for others who aren’t sure what they want to do, they could do this exercise: write down their interests, write down what parts of school they enjoy, or what subject, then on paper they can see what might be a good fit for them. I would also suggest talking to an advisor, as what you have in mind may be more achievable than you think. This would be a great way to find a vocation that fits best for you and your personality.



From the vocation that I feel is right for me, I am choosing an ICU nurse or snowboard patrol nurse. I find meaning in adventure, compassion for others, connecting with people, learning new things and working with pediatrics. It gives me pleasure to engage in extreme sports such as boarding, climbing, rafting, mountain biking and also meditating, music, reading and being outdoors. My strengths involve willingness to learn, discipline, leadership, athletic abilities and sense of humor. I am already in nursing school, so I’m attempting to narrow my focus on what I want to do. An ICU nurse works under pressure in a high acuity setting to sustain life and is always working with the newest technology, medications and procedures. I would love to be in a peds ICU so that would tie in nicely. My long term goal would be a snowboard patrol member, after I have experience in a hospital setting and feel comfortable with my nursing skills. This would bring my love for the outdoors and snowboarding together and I would be in extreme bliss.

The readings this week came at a great time! They have really inspired me to want to write a letter to our Va Senator and express what it means to put Gross National Happiness in front of GDP! With many uprisings and protests just within the Richmond area alone, could we say that our country is happy? What research will be done on the 2016 election? After all, the National Accounts of Subjective Well-Being name several factors that are important to quality of life for citizens in a specific area; social relationships, healthy natural environment, which are not mentioned in economics. These factors will be inhibited by our future president because his plans include moving forward with the Keystone Pipeline which will destroy forests across America, build ‘the wall’ which could destroy relations with Mexico and increase acts of racism, and he plans to retract ObamaCare which will leave millions without health care to replace it with Health Savings Accounts. It was surprising to read that unemployment and coverage for health care, although they can be negative on well-being if depended on too long, they can boost a family’s well-being, and with the cuts that are planning on being made, that is also going to place mistrust in our future government. Dubai and Bhutan have similar goals within their societies which is to put happiness first, then think about economics; after all as stated by UK’s Prime Minister, “Well being can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture and above all, the strength of our relationships. Improving our society’s sense of well being is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times.”

As stated above, my enjoyment that comes from being around kids made reading the sections in the World Happiness Report fun. Kids do not enjoy school past a certain age, and this should be addressed. What could we do change this? How can we bring this to the eyes of educators? It would be cost effective to increase the well-being of our youth so they can live longer, healthier lives and be productive members of our society. I agree with the article in that teachers, principles and healthcare professionals should be specially trained to assess a child’s well being because childhood is when resiliency, coping skills and world views are started to be created along with mental health issues. Parenting classes for those in need should be mandatory, communities would benefit from outreach programs and life skills curriculums would be fantastic.

11.09 Work and Stuff

“Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.”

With this election going on, this is exactly what I needed to read. For the longest time, Trump supporters really got under my skin, I find them unapologetically closed minded and unproductively privileged, and as most (not all) of them still are, I have found that where this used to fuel my anger, I actually feel really bad for them. I’m white, and given that most of his supporters are old, white, male (and female), it’s mortifying,  it hurts my heart knowing that our education system failed them, that we couldn’t, as a progressive nation enlighten them enough to understand that America isn’t even ours and that we ruthlessly took it from others, for what? For entitlement purposes? I find meaning for them in the saying “ignorance is bliss” where as really and truly a lot of them “do not know that they do evil”. So with that said I will no longer (okay i’ll try my hardest) give the sacrifice of fools, aka stoop to their level, I will start to “let my words be few” and continue to pursue our countries potential that consists of equality, progression and freedom.

I chose to do the altruistic prank, but I guess I chose it naturally. I was thinking about what to do this weekend at work, because between work and school, I barely get out of the house. I work as a server at an amazingly beautiful vineyard, and we always talk about making the customer get the full experience so I kind of took that and ran with it. There was an older woman, with her mom and they were just so sweet. I have a thing with promoting kindness, so when they sat in my section and I talked for a little bit I realized I wanted to do my “altruistic prank”. I paid for some of their tab and even helped the ladies mom to the car (sorry other tables), I would have done this regardless if they needed me too, but they didn’t and I offered and it’s almost as if they were taken aback by this. After I helped her get her old mother into the car I waved bye, and went back to work. About ten minutes later I see the daughter running back inside and I asked her if everything was okay and she started tearing up a bit and said “thank you for taking such great care of us, my mother was so happy and I wanted to give you this.” She had her own tea company and she wanted to give me some. Side note: some of the best tea I’ve ever had. But then it took me aback and I was the one who almost lost it. So it made me really appreciate the assignment this week.

Blog: Work and Wealth

For this week’s exercise I chose to do the altruistic prank assignment. As per one of the suggestions I decided to go to a local show with friends and cheer. This was fortuitous because my roommate is in a band, and friends from New York who are on tour came to town this week, and they played a show Saturday night.  So I went out to their show and made noise, which I don’t normally like doing too much because I am typically reserved. I had fun, I think my friends were a bit surprised. It was difficult to register the impact though because there was already a lot of noise and energy and I probably just melted in. But it was a good show and a good experience, and I know that my roommate and friends live for the energy of the crowd, so it was nice to add to that. In doing this assignment I didn’t spend a dollar, so the cost was contained, and both my friends and I had fun.

The readings this week were incredible! They contained so much insight and wisdom. I think if I had to recommend readings that would have the greatest impact on an individual’s life, they would be Ecclesiastes and Work as Flow. I don’t know I just think I needed to read these at this point in my life, where I am at a crossroads. I think I have been unconsciously grappling with this issue, like should I pursue something I find enjoyable, or something that might be lucrative, and how can I make the work I am currently engaged in more pleasant. It is a privilege to be afforded the ability to choose your career, one that is not widely available, and one that should be cherished. So I take seriously the opportunity to make my own path, but the answer has not been clear. These readings have given me an idea as to what I should look for in work and how I should treat the work I engage in to make the most of my opportunity, which is honestly a gift.

Work and stuff

The reading from Ecclesiastes was very interesting I particularly liked the part: Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion… This stuck with me because it made me think it is better to work with someone else and be wise than to be self-serving and only think of oneself. Because even though that one person may have many material things he doesn’t have anyone with which to share those with. He then looks like a fool. I also liked how Ecclesiastes referred to a fool as one who’s voice is known by many words. This reminds me of people who think that their way is the only way or that they know all. I believe Lincoln has a quote that says something similar about being a fool, it’s something like better to remain silent than to speak and remove all doubt. Sometimes silence is the best answer instead of speaking and looking like a fool.

The reading by Csikszentmihaly on flow, I liked the discussion of Serafina, and how essentially what she does to survive is technically work however it’s what she enjoys most. She loves to be outdoors, to be with her animals and to talk to nature. She speaks of talking to the plants, birds, flowers and animals. She even said if she had all the time to do whatever she wanted she would still do the same things. When talking about “autotelic personality” this made me really want to make a situation amazing even when it was hardest to do so instead of just giving up and complaining. This type of personality is described as the ability to create flow experiences even in the most barren environment. The idea that if flow is attained, this can make even everyday repeating circumstances into an amazing environment that is fulfilling. This reading connected to sections of the Myers reading, especially to the flow of happy people. They described that work provides personal identity and helps define who people are. I agree with this often when meeting someone the first time we ask “What do you do?” and this somehow shapes our interpretation of that person. It may help if instead we ask what do you like to do. What gives your life meaning?

The next reading about focusing illusion discussed the issue, if someone was  richer would they be happier? When thinking about this myself I always think well of course I would be happier and before this course I would’ve believed that I was right. Money can buy many things that I enjoy and I think in the beginning I would’ve indeed been happier for a time. However, after learning in this course that yes I would be happier but then I would eventually return to my normal baseline of happiness. This idea has made me realize that the ideas of being in the moment and flow are what can really help me to be happy long-term.

Altruistic Prank

I struggled for a while trying to come up with something I could do that followed all three rules of giving. I thought about finding a car with a parking ticket and putting money under the green envelope, but I had no way of knowing when that person might return to their car, or if someone else might somehow grab it. As it turned out, I actually didn’t need to plan that much because an easy opportunity presented itself: I was walking to the convenience store across the street from my apartment when a homeless man approached me and asked me if I had a dollar to help him get some food. Out of habit I shook my head and said “no, sorry” and kept walking. My block of Grace Street has kind of a high concentration of homeless people, so this is a pretty routine occurrence and I didn’t really think anything of it. Once I got inside, I realized, “hey, wait! I can actually help this guy!” The convenience store also has a little deli with sandwiches, fried chicken, etc. so I ran out and stopped the guy from before on the sidewalk and told him to come into the store with me. I bought him some fried chicken and a drink, and to be honest he seemed a little confused that I had changed my mind so quickly after brushing him off, but overall he seemed grateful. He didn’t thank me profusely or anything, but as far as I’m concerned he didn’t need to, because that wasn’t really the point of the exercise. I surprised someone with generosity and it felt pretty good, which in my mind was the real goal in doing this. It made me feel better than I anticipated, it felt like there was a literal spring in my step as I walked back to my apartment. It was a fun experience, though when I thought about it more I was a little saddened by the realization that the guy I bought food for would be back to the same grind the next day.

I most enjoyed the reading by Meyers and Diener, “Who is Happy?” I find it particularly interesting when things viewed as universal to the human experience are subject to scientific scrutiny and broken down into their core concepts, such as happiness, or our feelings about death. It’s cool to see research about these things on a large scale, because it makes me feel like we’re moving towards a society where the process of reaching happiness has been distilled, and is widely known.

I also liked the Csikszentmihalyi reading, “work as flow”, and the connection it implied between achieving a flow state at work, and self-efficacy. I wouldn’t say self-efficacy leads to flow, but I can say with certainty that if you’re achieving flow while doing what you need to do to make a living, you probably have a fair amount of self-efficacy, and if your job or way of making a living involves an activity you find hard to engage with or enjoy, your self-efficacy will likely be towards the lower end. In our modern society, we spend a LOT of time at work. The more we can comfortably engage with the task at hand, the more we feel like the energy we expend is being consumed in a useful fashion, and the happier we are as a result. This is infinitely easier said than done, however, and I’m curious as to how our society might move forward towards helping people achieve this in the future.

Altruistic Prank

This week between the two exercises to choose from like most of us, I chose the altruistic prank. Not going to try to convince you that I chose the altruistic prank over rejection for any other reason other than fear of rejection. I mean I definitely enjoyed doing the altruistic prank because obviously it always feels good to do something to brighten someone’s day. But also obviously the fear of rejection definitely came over me, putting yourself out there in a vulnerable state purposefully is definitely not very appealing. For my altruistic prank I work at a restaurant and at the end of the night we have quite a bit of leftover food including things like soup and mashed potatoes. The other night I was closing so I decided to box up separate containers of soup and mashed potatoes, because why let it go to waste? On my way home although I did not pass many, whenever I passed someone homeless I gave them a container. While one man was very grateful and thanked me graciously, there was another man who got on my nerves. Once I gave him a container of mashed potatoes he then asked me to give him cash as if I owed him more, like what I gave him was not enough. It was frustrating because I understand that he is in need, but to be ungrateful and not say thank you, and then to continue to ask me for more? Other than him, the other few people were all very sweet.

I specifically enjoyed the reading “Who is Happy” by David G. Meyers, and Ed Diener. In the article they go over different aspects that can contribute to individual’s happiness. In the article the author brings up a good point in the section connecting money to happiness. Does money buy happiness? I think this is a million dollar question that many people have contrasting views on. Like in the article with proven data I personally believe, yes money can buy happiness. Before this class I would have said money definitely cannot buy happiness, because of the fear of looking shallow if I agreed with the fact that it can. But after reading various articles in this class I have realized yes, it does buy happiness, but how long that happiness lasts is the real question. I think it is absolutely fair to say you can be happy after buying a new car, or that new outfit, or whatever else you want, but how long the materialistic things keep you happy is a different story. Another aspect in the reading that was covered was connecting happiness to faith. Which I found very interesting, for me personally I am not religious what so ever, and if you are, that is wonderful as long you do not push your views on me. But in the reading it notes that religious people tend to be happier, and if you think about it, it honestly does make perfect sense. This does not make me think I need a set religion to be happy in life, but I never thought about how much of an impact it could have on people’s happiness. I always have found religion to be a beautiful thing although I am not involved, because the thought of a group of people having such a strong faith and belief in something to bring them together is definitely worth crediting. I think religious people can definitely be seen as happier also because they have that almost relief that a higher power will make all the things somehow fall together in life.

What is real…

I had an incredibly hard time picking an altruistic prank. In the past I have paid for people behind me in line at Starbucks. I have paid tolls in advance. I have hung with homeless folks and bought them lunch. This summer my daughter and I enjoyed a Starbucks breakfast with a very cool homeless lady in Adams-Morgan.

For this activity, I really wanted to branch out and do something new. I had fabulous ideas, and may well execute them at some point, but life didn’t play out to allow me to make it happen this week.

In the end, I fell into my act. As a homeschooling mother, I belong to several boards where parents post ideas, as for suggestions and things like that. I came across one post from a mother who had just taken her teen out of public high school and was trying to 1)figure out what books and materials she should get to use when teaching her son and 2)how she might be able to get her hands on these items for not to much money. I am notorious for my book hording ways. As a teacher, a homeschooler and a certified bibliophile, I am always cramming a multitude of bookshelves with books in new creative arrangements to make them fit. I had just recently decided that I needed to get it under control and had begun to parse out books to sell. When I saw this gals post, I knew what I needed to do. I ended up meeting with her. I brought a pile of texts and other materials with suggestions on which might best fit her son’s learning styles and needs. At the end of our meeting, she walked away with every textbook she would need for the year, a plan on how to begin and confidence that she was up to the job.

This definitely met rule 1, containing the cost. This was actually a win-win. While I could have potentially sold the materials, I likely wouldn’t have gotten a great deal and it would have required a substantial time investment. While it was very valuable to her, it wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me … and now I have room for more books!

I had SO much fun. I love being able to solve problems that keep people from being where they want to be. She really wanted to do right for her son, but she felt so overwhelmed and discouraged by her perceived inability to help him It made me feel like a fairy godmother and Santa Claus in one to be able to help her be the person she wanted to be and to show her a way to get where she wanted to go. We had a great time talking and discovered while we are pretty different people, on pretty different paths, we still have a great deal in common.

One of the reasons I don’t love the pay for the guy behind you pranks for this project is because it is really hard to register the impact. It feels great to do, but it’s hard to see the impact of your surprise. In this case, I had the opportunity to watch this person completely evolve. I could see her face and expressions relax as anxiety lifted. I was able to see her posture ease as her confidence grew. Best of all, I watched as she first approached me as a person a step below me begging for scraps, but left as a peer who just received some help from a new friend.

In more recent months I have gotten pretty caught up in checking boxes and making to-do lists happen. This has caused me to have blinders on and forget to connect with other people. I forgot how much joy taking just a little bit of time out of the day to be there for someone else can bring. So often, it really is the little things that matter. Smiling when interacting with strangers, helping someone carry a heavy or unwieldy load, send a quick text to a friend. Each of these take just a moment, but it has the effect of throwing out all kinds of positive energy in the world.

Joy and contentment are my key goals. I have abandoned happiness because it is so ethereal and difficult to pin down. Ultimately I am not seeking ceaseless giddiness, but rather hope for a sense of ease and peace that comes from following a rhythm in life meant for you. I was particularly impressed with Work as Flow and the indistinguishable nature of work and free time. While I have yet to hit that sweet spot, I know people who have. Their anxiety levels are nonexistent. They don’t have the frantic tones that come from racing from one chore to the next. They have this rhythm of contentment. Ecclesiastes is also one of my favorites. Throughout Solomon keeps seeking happiness in a variety of worldly things. He parties like crazy and discovers at the end of the day he feels empty. He acquires all things material, and again feels empty. He obtains great power, and again is empty. Over and over he seeks happiness in these pursuits only to find no matter how magnificently he achieves in each area, he is left wanting and unhappy. He discovers it is all vanity … like trying to hold the wind. In the end, he comes to understand that peace and joy come from a spiritual level and that nothing measured by man can provide it.

It is hard in a material world, not to seek material solutions to our spiritual or emotional needs. In the end, connecting with people and finding peace and joy in the rhythms of the day provide the one thing that seem so terribly allusive in our pursuit of wealth, fame and power. Should we tell Donald and Hillary?

Work & Wealth

For my “altruistic prank” I decided to help a stranger spontaneously. In other words, I didn’t want to plan out how to help someone but instead let the situation come my way for me to help out. On my way out of Aldi’s, I saw a women with a lot of grocery bags. She would carry a load of several bags a couple feet and go back for the rest, taking turns to carry her grocery bags home. Not thinking twice, I pulled over to her side and offered to give her a ride. She stopped and stared at me for a moment before speaking. She asked what direction I was going towards and I told her towards Monroe Park but I could take her anywhere. She declined my help politely and then asked where I was from. I told her my nationality and she replied with “it must be a very beautiful country.” I smiled and said it is and proceeded to ask if she was sure not to need a ride. She once against declined and walked back to the side walk to pick up her bags.

I did stick to the 3 rules of giving as I used my car to execute my help, by offering a ride I would have the other person benefit from having to make a long walk home with heavy bags and also from staying out on a windy day, and I got to see their facial expression despite being rejected. Though she declined my help, I could tell she was very hesitant about doing so. I could only imagine what must have run through her mind and even though I didn’t think twice about asking to help, she must have thought how unsafe it could be to ride in a stranger’s car. Being rejected didn’t make me feel bad though. I had to consider what position I placed the women in and also take into account that she may have had motives to decline help. If I was in her place, I probably would have done the same.

As for the reading for this week. We focused heavily on the subject of “working.” As a personal reflection, I began to work at the age of 14 by getting a permit the summer before starting high school. I found myself actually enjoying my job as I worked in an ice-cream catering company for years on after as just a seasonal summer job. Reflecting on the article, Work as Flow, I enjoyed the explanation of working meaning different things for different people on the bases of culture and finding meaning. In my perfect world, I’d like to live off of nature. Growing my own crops, and harvesting my own eggs. I think this lifestyle comes natural to me because of my cultural background and even ancestors who were natives in South America. Often times, til this day, people in Bolivia call indigenous people out in the country “lazy” and “uneducated” because they spend hours in their land harvesting crops or drop out of school once they learn how to read and write. But ask the person that lives in the city to grow his own crops to feed his family and he may have a change of heart. Point is there is more to “growing” plants, it’s a truly a science that is astonishing because it was so easy then more people would be doing it.

This brings me to the reading of Ecclesiastes, which in summary reflects on how people should do things with purpose and meaning because at the very end of one’s time, we will return to be “naked” the way we were born. In book, the author exemplifies on the finding purpose and meaning because that’s the way to happiness but tells the readers that it can’t be done without God. Uncomfortable with my own interpretation, I question if the author intends to strike fear? I’ve grown up Catholic and often question passages as such because people interpret passages from the Bible differently and often.

In conclusion, in the article of Myer and Dierner, Who is Happy? Really ties most lose ends together in the concept of finding flow in work and finding meaning/purpose to the things we do. Myer and Dierner coclude that in order to find happiness one must touch bases on having good self-esteem, a sense of personal control, being optimistic, and extraversion. I find this most interesting because despite it being difficult, the same study also found that having money doesn’t make a difference in one’s happiness but instead people begin to give value to other things in their life after their most immediate needs are met such as financial stability, house, food, and good health. Which has been discussed in class where most people agreed that money isn’t everything though we strive to work hard in order to make money to meet our immediate needs. It’s a hot mess and at the end people should find their flow in work because I believe without it, just like Myer and Dierner concluded, we’ll be all over unsatisfied with life.