The Science of Happiness has taught me so much about the importance of positive psychology and techniques to improve one’s overall happiness level. The Corey Keyes reading explained that individuals who scored high on the mental health Flourishing Scale experienced fewer physical ailments, fewer missed workdays, higher psychosocial functioning, and higher levels of intimacy. The Danielle Dick reading and power point discussed the effects of genetics and the environment on happiness. I learned that although happiness is determined 50% by genetics, 40% is based on one’s intentional activity. It is, therefore, possible to significantly influence your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in a way that will improve your overall sense of well-being. Research has shown that practicing positive psychology interventions can specifically decrease depression, anxiety, and stress while increasing positive emotions and well-being. The positive psychology interventions power point taught me examples such as acts of kindness, counting your blessings (3 good things), and meditating on positive feelings.
Through positive psychology, I learned additional techniques and strategies that can help me improve my overall quality of life. The Automatic Thoughts Exercise taught me how to analyze my automatic negative thoughts and reactions to situations in order to change my pattern of behavior. This has helped me to shut down certain automatic thoughts and replace them with positive responses in my daily interactions. I now understand that practicing positive thoughts and emotions is critical to improving psychological and emotional well-being. According to Barbara Frederickson’s Broaden and Build Theory (PERMA), “positive emotions broaden the scope of attention, cognition and action and they build physical, intellectual, and social resources.” I learned that emotional intelligence was critical to good relationships and the ability to self-regulate one’s emotions. The active listening exercise was helpful in developing better social awareness and listening skill. As a result of these insights, I now find myself making an effort to focus on what other people are saying and to not be distracted by my own thoughts during conversations. Practicing mindfulness can help improve all of these emotional and social skills.
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation was probably the most meaningful topic to me that we covered. I learned how important it is to focus on the present moment and be aware of my thoughts and emotions. Self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence, positive identity, and strong relationships. Being mindful can help you manage and redirect negative thoughts and feelings so that you can reduce the stress and anxiety they cause. I learned about the form of mindfulness known as meditation through the 7 Days of Calm Exercise. Despite having heard of the many benefits of meditation over the years, I never thought to try it myself. I was surprised at how tuning everything out and meditating for just 10 minutes helped me release a lot of the stress and anxiety of the day. I try to apply the techniques I learned by finding 10-15 minutes each day to be silent and just focus on my breathing. I was also surprised by the significant effects that diet, exercise, and sleep have on emotions. The lecture and journal exercises we did taught me that they can dramatically impact my mood, energy level, and stress level. In the future, I will try to eat a more balanced diet, exercise more, and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I will also continue to share all the positive psychology information and insights I have gained over the course of this semester with friends and family. I will continue to have conversations and use social media posts to spread awareness on techniques and strategies that each of us can use in our everyday life to improve our overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.