Joining the Science of Happiness class this semester has truly been a blessing. Throughout the semester I have gained so much strength, patience, and understanding from practicing techniques learned in this class from meditation to the importance of relationships and forgiveness. One of the major lessons I learned from this class was that in the positive Identity lecture done by Zoe Neale when she discussed the perceptions of self and others. This stood out to me because we were asked to turn to an individual sitting next to us and try to read which emotion they were trying to express and from the laughs and gasps going I could hear around me, I sensed that a majority of the students were incorrect. This activity really made the whole presentation click because at times what emotions we want others to see simply cannot be seen. Day by day our generation’s emotional intelligence decreases because we live in a fast pace world where taking the time to simply look into someone’s eyes ( human to human) and know how they are feeling becomes alien. Many of these emotions are hidden behind technology, drugs, alcohol, etc. and individuals are earnestly trying to live this picture perfect lifestyle seen on social media.
Some topics I can connect to from this are the importance of social relations and romantic relations. This is because in both of these being able to have emotional intelligence is vital. Without emotional intelligence, no person in the relationship would ever know when they are taking something too far or when something is not right and things may get escalate fast. Additionally, some of the other topics that were very meaningful to me were the eat, sleep, move, and positive psychology/wellbeing topics. They were meaningful to me because I believe that the mind, body, and spirit are one and need to be filled daily just as you fill your stomach every day. By meditating/praying, exercising, watching what you eat and getting proper sleep you are properly taking care of yourself.
To continue practicing positive psychology I will definitely try to be more selfless and give more than I receive. I will try to practice yoga and find news ways of meditating and releasing stress. Some changes that I have already made in my lifestyle are after I get out of classes I look up at the sky and just appreciate nature and the time that I have on this earth. I also practice positive identity and self-forgiveness by acknowledging my rights more than my wrongs and trying to allow myself to grow past my wrongs rather than dwelling on them. Some changes I still need to make are staying consistent with my meditating and practicing keeping my mind clear and not constantly thinking about unnecessary worries. Lastly, I plan on sharing this information by continuing posting on social media and finding new videos on youtube to also share. Because I have taken this class I now know the importance of true happiness and that it is not a means of finding happiness but it is me taking who/what I already have in life and finding happiness through that.
The topics discussed in weeks 5-10 all relate in terms of how the relationship with myself, body, and others can affect my well being. Across these weeks in class, we discussed personality disorders, positive relationships, the science of yoga, positive identity and much more. All of these topics somehow manage to relate back to one thing; how they relate to our happiness and wellbeing in life. For example in the science of yoga presentation and lesson, we learned how the mind and body are connected such that the body is always in the present moment and is a vital factor in calming the mind, bringing it into the present moment. This practice reduces stress, pain, aids in weight loss, and relaxes the mind bringing it in sync with the body to really appreciate the moment. Additionally, having a positive relationship, one that is not passive nor aggressive, but assertive also aids in stress relief and self-actualization. In light of this being emotionally intelligent ( positive identity) and being able to read and properly asses, my and others emotions relate both to having a prosperous relationship and practicing mindful yoga. This is because to be clear of mind when assessing emotions also aids in having emotional intelligence. These past weeks have truly taught me a lot and have altered my mindset and how I view myself. One popular saying that has stuck with me for a long time is, “the road to success is a long and lonely trail” and I believed that I was ready for that loneliness and disapproval of others to be able to obtain what I wanted in life. However, learning of the effects a positive relationship can have on your health and well-being made me question, “Is taking on all of the life’s challenges alone is such a great idea?” With that in mind, I started to assess myself and my scores from the SURPS test to see what type of a person I am growing to be and how to catch my faults to better my chances of having a positive relationship whether romantic, family-wise or even a friendship.
Some changes that I have made to my daily routine are, I try to be more assertive, I listen more, express my concerns, and am more attentive and not on my phone as a person is expressing their feelings. I have also been going to the gym more frequently and trying to control my impulse to constantly eat sweets (GUILTY!). These changes were inspired by me taking a step back after the 7-day calm activity and really assessing my lifestyle and noticing that I am growing up and need to take my life into my own hands. I realized that these practices that are being taught are not just random facts that we learn in class to then be forgotten the next week, but are literally the keys to a successful, happy lifestyle. I will take all that I have learned and definitely share them with my friends and loved ones, especially my younger family members who will be coming into college soon. I now believe that at every new stage in one’s life practicing mindfulness is just as important as eating and breathing.
Take a moment and Imagine if you lived in a flavorless, colorless world. All your life you have only read about the world with both color and flavor but never had the chance to actually live there. Then, one day color was introduced into your life. Would you not want to go the extra mile and have a life of flavor also? This is how a positive psychologist thinks!
It is not enough to be in absence of a mental illness, but one must be able to overcome it to then reach mental health. “Umm Mental health” you may be wondering? Mental health is simply a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. Individuals may believe they are mentally healthy because of their lack of a mental illness, however having a negative mindset, and or the absence of mindfulness and emotional wellbeing also constitutes as not being mentally healthy. In order to measure an individual’s well-being in terms of mental illness, languishing and flourishing a scale called the Keys model of complete mental health was constructed. This scale helps measure which state of mental health one resides in. Individuals who are considered Flourishing tend to be happier, more fulfilled, and are functioning well both individually and in society. Individuals who are languishing have no presence of mental illness but have a life characterized by the lack of interest, apathy, and listlessness. Lastly, those deemed to have a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression tend to require some form of medication, therapy and have more negative views of life.
What can cause a mental illness? According to Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade Genetics contribute to about 50% of mental health, 40% intentional activities, and 10% context ( twin studies, results may vary). Certain disorders such as schizophrenia, bulimia, and depression all vary in the amounts of genetic influence they have on an individual but ultimately genetics do not guarantee that one will obtain such illnesses.
What Have I learned that surprised me the most? From the various presentations and readings what I found most interesting was the statistics and graphs that showed how much genetics had on an individuals personality. I always believed ones personality was based mainly on their social interactions and from watching their parents. Also, I was intrigued to find out the motives behind positive psychology. Because, personally I enjoy motivational quotes and speeches that encourage people to want to be better. So in hearing that positive psychologists aspire to do what I love, only made me appreciate the science of happiness more.
What was my favorite activity so far? Being able to sit down before every class and take a moment to just breath and meditate by far has been my favorite activity in this class. However, competing for first is the 3 positive thoughts journal that we had to write in week 3. I enjoyed these because, as I have previously stated I love positivity and motivation so meditating before class helps me wash away all of the negative thoughts I may be having before indulging in my work. With that, being able to think back and reflect on the little positive events that happen throughout my day only amplifies my appreciation I have for my life, and those who are in it.