The most important lesson that I will take away from this class is that you are your own best advocate. I am not someone who has severely suffered from mental health or substance abuse, but I have definitely had my ups and downs with both. This class has helped me to put my experience into perspective and understand the nature of these ‘situations’ (for lack of a better word). For example, it was really enlightening to come to learn that personality types are a strong baseline for substance abuse. It was very interesting to learn how the brain’s neurochemistry can get “hooked” on a substance; I think this knowledge kind of knowledge is fundamental if we hope to combat the ongoing drug epidemic. There’s a sort of positive feedback loop: the substance disinhibits your self-control and you’re more likely to continue using.
Mindfulness was another topic that I found extremely helpful. I was familiar with the concepts of mindfulness, flow, and meditation but I did not realize that there was scientific evidence to support these as a avenue to happiness. I will definitely start getting into a routine of meditating and yoga. For one of my two events outside-of-class I choose to go to another yoga session (in part because I accidentally wore jeans the first time – oops!). I used practice yoga regularly and it was really nice to get into it again because it’s largely a mental experience/escape. Exercise falls into the same category, really. One of the lecturers said that exercising was like taking an “anti-depression” medication – and that resonated with me.
Social-emotional learning was a topic I found really interesting from a sociological perspective. One lecturer stated that impulse control would be a primary concern of the 21st century. It’s frightening to think that today’s youth spend the vast majority with digital entertainment to such an extent that they lose the ability to navigate through society. Another tremendous take-away from this class is knowing when to disengage from the media. I caught myself spending an alarming amount of time scrolling though memes that were utterly meaningless (many of them are). This ties back to being your own best advocate – you have to be introspective and notice how something (ie media) is making you feel – mindfulness! Only once you identify the cause of a problem can you address how to enact change!
Insights from this class will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life. The changes that I’ve already started to make are – for the most part – improvements in areas that I was already pretty OK in. For example, I was already good about not being absorbed in my phone when I’m around other people, but now I’m even more cognisant of it. I need to adopt a healthier diet; I’ve dabbled in veganism over the years, and I’m realizing that it’s something I want to work towards again. I think graduating college may be a kind of coming-of-age story for me (and likely for many of my classmates as well). There’s a saying, “it’s not alcoholism until you graduate.” I expect that post-graduation life will be a lot less stressful (I’ve taken a job that isn’t very rigorous). I look forward to having a healthier diet and overall lifestyle after graduation. Reasons for this are focused around longevity and living a healthy life.
I think I will create some sort of board or pictogram to keep track of adhering to lifestyle changes. Otherwise, I’ve found that it’s easy to slip back into old habits. Another thing that will be difficult but rewarding is to cut toxic people out of my life. After I graduate I am moving to a new [very small] town where I know no one; I think it will behoove me to be rid of some of my former associates.
I probably will not share many of my insights from this class on social media. For starters, I don’t like to share personal things online. But I also find that people are reluctant to listen. Again – you’re your own best advocate. People who aren’t ready to make changes for themselves don’t like to hear other’s raving about their positive experiences. I have changed some of the content I share – For example, I recently discovered/shared from the ‘Wholesome Memes’ facebook page.
However, I will definitely share insights from this class with my friends in-person or in private messages. Sometimes when I have told a friend about this class they are immediately intrigued, “Teach me how to be happy.” It’s really common for people to feel down at times. I’m very glad I took this class because it had armed me with a defense against misery, and I will be able to spread this among my friends and acquaintances. It was amazing to learn that you are 15% more likely to be happy if you have friends that are happy. This has profound consequences! Not only is it a reason to cut unhappy/negative people out of your life immediately. But it’s also a great reason to be happy yourself! I think one of the very best ways to share insights from this class is to practice them yourself and let others catch on.