Positive Psychology in Universities – thoughts

Although ideally, universities strive to create this setting where we can all be diverse and different and to cultivate positive emotions through all our interactions in a social environment — I think in some aspects it needs some SERIOUS work.

I have gained a lot of experience in positive emotions, and throughout my time here at VCU I’ve been in situations where this was easy to cultivate, and I’m not discrediting that college do help students foster these positive emotions. However, I think that because of this movement to promote positive psychology and well-being, college students quickly learn to be coddled and are unable to handle stress in a way that’s not destructive.

This election, for example, shows us that college students, although we are all about promoting well-being as a means of flourishing, we are also taught that we need to stand up for what we believe in by being unable to accept an opinion different from our own which causes some of us incredible distress.

I think that college and universities do cultivate positive emotions and well-being in a sense that we are becoming aware that it’s not the end of the world when we have stress, and that there are ways to go about handling these situations in a social environment. It’s amazing that mental well-being is being implemented and acknowledged in every class now, and I’m happy to see that VCU cares so much about our wellbeing since it’s so easy to be a college student and get lost in our grades. The next steps is cultivating ways to destigmatize mental illness while also learning to be adaptive copers.

The Surprising Power of Weak Ties – thoughts

I thought this article was interesting because I never would have thought that weak ties would have ANY impact on happiness.

I never think twice whenever I have small talk with someone I see occasionally — but if I go awhile without I think about them and kind of miss them.

I thought that that these week tie interactions would depend on whether the person is introverted or extroverted, however, as the article mentioned, it’s basic human nature to want to belong.

Although I wouldn’t describe myself as extroverted, when I think back on the times I was at my happiest, they usually go back to when I’ve been involved in a group to achieve a common goal, or worked in a community. It’s amazing, the power of human connection.

Because I cherish my alone time so much, it’s always hard for me to make plans with people or commit to going somewhere, even though I always know that without fail I am always glad that I came whenever I muster the courage to leave my books and netflix.

A college setting is composed of millions of these interactions, but sometimes it can be one of the most depressing times in a person’s life. Do you think that higher social interactions can mitigate high stress (which can potentially turn into depression)?

Forgiveness

Forgiveness was the trait I was the least strongest in on my characters strength test. I used to think forgiveness was just telling someone that it was okay to do that wrong thing, which in turn reduces vengeance; but I also found it interesting that it was also the promotion of an increased motivation to feel more positive toward the person. I didn’t realize the dimensions of forgiveness in that it’s more complex then just letting someone off the hook.

I was also surprised to learn that people who practiced forgiveness more often tend to have less anxiety, stress, and depression. I have always known that those states are usually from a number of things, but I would have never thought that the simple act of practicing forgiveness can lessen it.

I once learned a saying that really put things in perspective, and it goes

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”

Which is incredibly true because in the end it only hurts yourself. I wish I was more of a forgiving person because I carry a lot of burdens and grudges in me everyday and it really weights me down sometimes.

 

Traits Among College Students – thoughts

I found this article fascinating in that there were significant difference in genders. Evolutionarily it makes sense that women are more nurturing and feel as though they harness the qualities of a ‘good’ leader and in contrast, men are higher in traits such as assertiveness and creativity — because men are supposed to be in charge of taking care of the family.

Additionally, it was pretty surprising that as we get older, we tend to foster more significant differences in traits. I wonder if it has to do with what social role we are raised to believe we have to play, or it’s just innate.

I also found it interesting that as college students, we are less eager to learn — even though that is the sole purpose of going to college, but we are higher on social intelligence, kindness, and integrity. To me, that emphasizes the growth and maturation within ourselves that we don’t really factor into a college education, and maybe we are less eager to learn because we are in a setting when grades mean everything, and if we don’t do well, we just wasted a bunch of money.

Addictions – thoughts

I thought it was particularly interesting how fluid the map is from the stages of adolescence to full on addiction. The map, although subjective, magnified the factors that influence addiction from the time the individual is old enough to make decisions on their own. I’m a firm believer in that we are influenced by our genes more than our environment in that our genes are what set the tone to be influenced by our environment.

I always had an idea of what addictions were like because of people that I’ve met that suffer with drug addictions — however, after reading this article, I understand now that it is more than face value of choosing to partake in it. It’s important that we eliminate the stigma behind addictions because there is so much more in how they are formed than we think.

Interdisciplinary Research on Close Relationships – thoughts

I’ve always heard that girls tend to end up with men who remind them of their Dad, even in cases in which their Dad isn’t really the best fatherly figure. Even girls who swear that they won’t end up with someone who is an abusive alcoholic eventually do.

It’s incredibly interesting that parents really do set the tone in a relationship. One personal example is my brother’s recent divorce — his ex wife (sam) and he had a kid at 17/18, they got married afterward. His wife’s mom was also a teen mom, having her older brother at around the same age. Anyway, Sam’s Mom and biological Dad divorced when Sam was well into her early childhood. This was because her Mom was having an affair with another man.

That could have been the reason why Sam and I never meshed well. We were so different — her being insecure and me being secure. She couldn’t handle problems well and blamed everything on my brother for her failures and distress.

Now they are 25/26 and they divorced and it was because Sam had an affair with another man. Even though she swore to herself she’d never be like her Mom. It makes for an interesting case how are parents relationships defines our relationships in the future. I wonder how my brother ended up with her because my parents have been married for 27 years and their relationship is golden.

I am also with someone who’s parents have been married for almost 40 years, and he’s nurturing and sweet and such a gentleman just like my Dad.

I wonder if this nature-esque disposition can be altered and shaped even in the worst family situations when the child is still young.

Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review — THOUGHTS

Honestly, I kind of had an idea of what mindfulness was but I still wasn’t sure of what it entailed. It’s so much more than just meditating, but it’s the observation of thoughts as just thoughts and letting them pass you by. It means to be able to pause before making those personal judgements and assumptions and take it as a neutral event, instead of categorizing it (Brown et al., 2007).

It’s hard to break the habitual pattern of not turning a thought into something personal, associate it with previous experiences, or make my own assumptions about it before I act on it. It’s been ingrained in how I think and how I do things all these years — but all it takes is one simple pause before, and observing these events as they come and go. This alone, can seriously change the course of one’s life through a means of their behavior, relationships, and work environment (and so much more).

It is truly amazing that we spend roughly half our day just wandering (Killingsworth & Gilbert). Reading that made me realize how not present not just me, but how most of us are. In a more dramatic way, it’s like we live most of our lives either ruminating or thinking of other things instead of what’s in front of us which I thought was kind of sad.

I always wander, especially in lecture on Tuesdays and Thursday classes. My boyfriend and I have been practicing meditation and mindfulness practices because he’s also in Dr. Mountcastle’s excercise science class so he also wanted to practice it.

I have noticed that whenever I practice it, I start to notice things more that I’ve never noticed before. Like a weeping willow tree that I always walk by, or certain parts and architecture of the town houses in front our apartment. I didn’t realize how far out I was from myself until I willed myself to become present again.

 

 

Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review — THOUGHTS

Honestly, I kind of had an idea of what mindfulness was but I still wasn’t sure of what it entailed. It’s so much more than just meditating, but it’s the observation of thoughts as just thoughts and letting them pass you by. It means to be able to pause before making those personal judgements and assumptions and take it as a neutral event, instead of categorizing it (Brown et al., 2007).

It’s hard to break the habitual pattern of not turning a thought into something personal, associate it with previous experiences, or make my own assumptions about it before I act on it. It’s been ingrained in how I think and how I do things all these years — but all it takes is one simple pause before, and observing these events as they come and go. This alone, can seriously change the course of one’s life through a means of their behavior, relationships, and work environment (and so much more).

It is truly amazing that we spend roughly half our day just wandering (Killingsworth & Gilbert). Reading that made me realize how not present not just me, but how most of us are. In a more dramatic way, it’s like we live most of our lives either ruminating or thinking of other things instead of what’s in front of us which I thought was kind of sad.

I always wander, especially in lecture on Tuesdays and Thursday classes. My boyfriend and I have been practicing meditation and mindfulness practices because he’s also in Dr. Mountcastle’s excercise science class so he also wanted to practice it.

I have noticed that whenever I practice it, I start to notice things more that I’ve never noticed before. Like a weeping willow tree that I always walk by, or certain parts and architecture of the town houses in front our apartment. I didn’t realize how far out I was from myself until I willed myself to become present again.

 

 

Positive Emotions on Wellbeing – thoughts

This article more than anything made me want to secure all these positive emotions I’ve learned in my therapy sessions. It is literally so awesome all of the things that come from it.

Despite all of the typos in this article (it’s crazy the amount of errors in this article), a lot of this information really motivates me to cultivate these positive emotions habitually. For the majority of my life I’ve always been a pessimist. ALWAYS. Every time something “bad” (my interpretation) would happen to me, I’d always think “OF COURSE THIS WOULD HAPPEN TO ME, THAT’S JUST MY LIFE”

And with this article, I associated myself with all of those things — anxiety, depression, failure. Which in turn, did in fact give me such a narrow mind about how things work, hindered my creativity, and halted my personal growth. I’ve changed a few things around, and already I feel so different about my life.

I yearn for “broadening and building”, being able to see things more openly and diverse and being more creative and flourishing. I think I always have, but it’s hard to see that when negative thoughts seem so permanent and habitual that it’s hard to break the cycle.

It’s interesting how the urges we get from feeling a certain emotion, I definitely attack when I get angry, and it already causes a whole bunch of problems. By cultivating these positive emotions: joy, contentment, love, I hope to build myself into a better, happier person since these will have long term effects on my personal well-being. All I have to do is practice.

Health & Academic Performance – thoughts

This article is something that needs to be drilled into every college students’ head: GET MORE SLEEP. I am incredibly sleep deprived most of the time and I can barely keep my eyes open all day then when it gets to around 9pm I have enough energy to run a marathon and then by midnight I’m scrolling through instagram or Facebook with heavy eyes.

Why don’t we just sleep? Even though we know we are tired, we continually keep trying to push through it even though sleep will make all things better.

I heard on the Happiness Project podcast that we often have this notion that “Oh I’m used to running on 5 hours of sleep.” No YOU’RE NOT! Could you imagine how much more productive you would be if you had more sleep?

I’m typing with this tone because I’m yelling at myself all the time because I refused to sleep more for some strange reason.

I did find it odd that the mentioned a study that literally counteracts every single study every made about this topic, and that involves exercise and GPA. I’ve read countless articles stating that those who exercise have a higher GPA. I guess it’s true if you spend your entire college career exercising and zero of it actually studying — which is another mistake I made once.

I’m surprised that social support didn’t have super significant results, I’ve always felt that social support from my family friends in addition to faculty members always helped me. But I’m not the average. Overall, fun read!

 

 

Silver Linings with Patients with Depression? – thoughts

This article was very relatable to me because I’ve just gone through my first session of therapy (and counseling from VCU services!). My nurse last year prescribed medication and told me specifically

“This will only work really well if you also get therapy/counseling. If I could choose one method, I would definitely choose counseling,” (EXCEPT VCU COUNSELING WAIT LISTED ME FOR TWO YEARS MAKING ME TOTALLY UNABLE TO UNTIL VERY RECENTLY) “But this [the medication] along with therapy will provide the most optimal results in getting you back to feeling better.”

I brushed it off because I started taking zoloft and I felt better and also I switched majors so I had a ton of stress lifted off of me. Never gave a second thought to seeking out therapy or counseling because why should I? I already feel better.

THEN, slowly but surely, I started adjusting to my medication to the point where it was totally ineffective. I started having these self-hate thoughts that eventually led to a much more severe depression and it was so debilitating. I could honestly say it was the worst I have ever felt in my entire life.

Then, I realized that I really needed to do something about it. I regretted not taking my nurse’s advice initially on the counseling and therapy. But this past semester I’ve been super proactive in getting help and have a real therapist that’s super awesome and a counselor here at VCU!

I felt like my brain was a tangled ball of yarn and finding a therapist and counselor is helping me untangle it. I’m so happy to finally be on my way of being free from these hateful thinking patterns about myself and feeling so hopeless. I realized that I can’t just take medication and sit back and wait to feel normal again.

I loved this article because it highlighted that aspect and I felt like I really identified with it. I hated hearing those same platitudes like “Get over it”. It’s hard for people to understand that mental health is equally as important as physical health.

Positive Psychology: An introduction – thoughts

This article clarified all the vagueness of what positive psychology was in my mind. I didn’t realize how complex and multidimensional this particular field was. I found it interesting that there were so many different things, such as pleasure v. enjoyment, and the importance of fostering more ways to allow flow rather than a diluted pleasure.

I also loved the saying that “it is not what happens to people that determines how happy they are, but how they interpret what happens”. I’ve heard that many times before but when it has its spot on an article like this, it really starts to make sense. Although I have no reason to believe so, I wonder if there are those whose lives have undergone so much upheaval that having a positive mind in attempt to increase happiness is most nearly impossible.

I also found it fascinating when it mentioned an evolutionary paradox:

“On the one hand, people live surrounded by many more people than their ancestors did, yet they are intimate with fewer individuals and thus experience greater loneliness and alienation”

It’s kind of sad how secluded we’ve all become from each other. This article has ultimately made me want to adopt better optimistic habits and cultivating more of an “enjoyment” in everyday life.

 

Genetic Influences on Adolescent Behavior – thoughts

Upon reading this article, I thought of the very classic “nature v. nurture” phenomenon. It was interesting how we have predispositions to alcoholism etc, despite our environment, and that our developmental stages in adolescences are also influenced by these genetic factors – providing early indicators of regular substances and alcohol abuse at a young age by exhibiting signs such as impulsive and lack of self control (for lack of a better phrase – can’t remember what phrase that was used)

I do remember reading up on a study that involved twins or siblings of some sort that showed how the same set of siblings could grow up in the same environment (nature) (e.g same family, exposed to the same life situations), grow up to choose totally different paths. On one hand – a sibling would be more reserved and motivated to excel in school, and the other sibling would be completely opposite and want to party and get in trouble. Both siblings, however, despite their similar background, choose their environment and friends based on their genetic influences — which brings up the same points as this article. However, it comes into question at the difference being a matter of their genetic influences OR something that wasn’t taken into account – it’s hard to know everything.

I was definitely fascinated at how much influence genetics had on adolescences as much as not so much the nurture and environmental aspect. Kind of dupes on certain clinical fixer uppers when you can’t change your genes.

Promoting and Protecting Mental Health as Flourishing – Thoughts

Before reading this article, I thought I had a clear understanding of Mental Health and what it encompasses. I also was absolutely certain that depression and anxiety wasn’t such a common thing among people due to the stigma behind taking medications and going to therapy. This article has indefinitely changed the way that I view mental health as well as the stigma behind it all.

I was fascinated by the idea that although the human life has increased by more than 30 years, it’s downfall still remains something as prevalent as a mental illness and or physical illness – which, in turn, the author mentions, is equivalent since you trade a healthy short life, for an unhealthy longer one.

The statistics were also very shocking – the fact that half of all adults will have experienced at least ONE serious mental illness before they reach the age of 55 and that the first onset depression and anxiety episode is having a decrease in age.   It just drove in the fact that these mental health illnesses are more common than I thought which is so comforting to me.

Lastly, it’s also amazing how much money is going to treating these mental illnesses – via medication and therapy as well as other things. It makes sense  – but I know a good amount of people who don’t take advantage of it. However, that poses the question, could the rise in mental healthcare treatment have an influence on the amount of people who are depressed/anxious? — as in, are people getting more sensitive because they know they have the advantage to get help (and it generally has a reverse relationship)?

Could be interesting.