positive university

This article discusses the idea of a “positive university” by using positive psychology (what we have spent a large part of the semester learning about). I know personally when looking into colleges I did not think of anything but school and the course work, however I had a friend tell me one day that she refused to apply to one university because of the suicide rates of students there. That stuck with me. Yes expanding your education is important however at what cost? I loved this article because it discussed college as something more than just a load of classes that are required.

How interesting is it that, “increases in well-being are likely to produce increases in learning because positive mood produces broader attention” (Ross 5). I think it is amazing that an increase in ones well being reflects in their ability to pay attention. Is this true for you guys? When you are in a better mindset, and doing well do you find your grades improve?

I liked on page six when they talked about the benefits of a “kind” campus, or a campus that promotes kindness. What do you think VCU does to promote kindness? What can we do to make kindness more known on campus?

Power of Weak Ties- week 13

I have always loved small talk, so to me it is no surprise that weak ties with individuals has a positive effect on us.

In the introduction it discusses many small interactions and claims, “none of these people play an important role in your life, and yet day without these kinds of interactions seems a little emptier” (Sandstorm and Dunn 1).

Imagine a day without these interactions. What would happen to you guys personally if you didn’t create small talk? Personally I can tell you it is very lonely. Two summers ago I spent some time in Germany, there small talk, especially with someone who speaks English, is nonexistent; and my time their was filled with loneliness, and struggling to get myself “out of my own head,” and my thoughts take over. Have any of you experienced this?

It is awesome that interacting with more classmates actually has a positive effect on your sense of belonging and overall mood (Sandstorm and Dunn 2). I now understand why we do small group discussions in this class and why getting to know each other is such a large part of Science of Happiness.

I liked on page seven when they discussed, “People who, on average, interacted with more weak ties than other individuals reported greater average subjective well-being” (Sandstorm and Dunn 7). I am interested in this because I can see its relevance in my own life. I have been trying something new this semester where I notice and acknowledge  people who I normally wouldn’t, such as janitors, strangers, and restaurant staff. When possible I would create small talk with these people. At first it was kind of awkward and forced but I soon began to realize not only did it make this otherwise “invisible” people smile, it began to make my day.

With small tie interactions creating a since of belonging, greater well being and improving on our moods why wouldn’t we use this to our advantage. What are some ways you could initiate small talk with new people? What may stop you or hold you back from confronting “weak tie” people in class or elsewhere?

week 12 response

It is crazy that forgiveness can, “,increase hope and psychological well-being, and decrease depression, anxiety, and anger” (Wade 1).

Personally I was interested in the REACH method described on page two. I think that recognizing why you are angry and empathizing with the person who made you angry and understanding their point of view is so important.

I do not think I have ever resented someone enough to need 28 sessions to forgive them but I over all liked the process and think that forgiveness is very important.

What do you guys think is a reason why people hold onto anger and resentment for so long instead of forgiving?

Week 11 response

I think that this study was interesting in the fact that it evaluated different races, genders, ages, and education levels makes for much more accurate results and more useful data (Karris 3). I think that one’s character says everything about a person. I think using this research to better the overall character skills taught at a young age would be beneficial to society as a whole.

Do you think that the smaller study done in Boulder, CO was more or less accurate and reliable than the large online study? Do you think the fact that it was on paper instead of online had an impact?(Karris 6)

On page 8 it discusses that this study has only been done on college students in the US. Do you think that the study would have similar results if it had a larger age range? (Karris 8)

On page 9 it discusses the character traits validate some ethnic character traits. Do you think this is accurate based on the limited age of the participants? Why do you think this is the case? (Karris 9)

Week 9 response

I think that what we learn in this class is so important. I think that a huge part of happiness is relationships, and I am excited to learn more about the psychology behind them.

I fund the two scenarios about the partner being home late from work on page four to be really interesting. I would have written off both responses as the guy being a jerk on top of being late, but the spin of how one scenario the guy was angry and one was hostile and how the two are different very interesting.

I had always known that a child’s relationship with a parent is important but I enjoyed learning more about the science behind why it is important on pages 5-8.

I found it surprising that how attached you are to your parents affects adult relationships, and conflict solving as an adult to be surprising. (Campbell and Loving 10).

How does your relationship with your parents affect your daily life? Have you ever thought of your relationship with your parents in this way before?

I also found it interesting that early attachment security and adult romantic relationships were not correlated. How they found that was even more interesting, and creative. Although the fact that middle school confidence is a better indicator of adult romantic relationships is horrifying, because personally if I could erase middle school me from my memory I would be more than willing to (Campbell and Loving 13).

This article was very interesting and one of my favorites so far this year. I think that the overall point of how the past effects the future is a great reminder to focus on the present because one day that will be the past.



week 8 response

I think that it is really cool to learn more about the research behind the activities we have been doing at the beginning of class all year. It was interesting to hear that it was first a part of the Buddhist practices, but now it is being used without that context.

I liked on page four where it discussed the processing form of decentering. It ties into what we talked about last week with how there are so many moments in life and if we aren’t aware they will pass us by without even noticing it. Personally I spend most of my time worried about what is going to happen then paying attention to what is happening.  What do you guys think personally is your biggest distraction from paying attention to the current moment?

On page five it says, “Minmindfulness is theorized to affect human functioning primarily through attention.” This explains why I have such a hard time concentrating during mindfulness exercises, because of my ADD I have a hard time focusing in general. However after doing the exercise I have an easier time paying attention in class. Does anyone else have a hard time focusing during these activities?

I liked the section on page ten where it discussed how mindfulness can improve performance in the work place. I think that is a great example of how psychology is beneficial to everyone.

Overall this is a great article and I can’t wait to learn more about it in class.

Week 7 Response

I am excited to spend more time learning about positive phycology, I really enjoyed last time and am excited to learn more about it.

I like the part when Fredrickson discussed the differences between emotion and affect. I had never thought of them as different, but now it makes sense, seeing that emotions are short reactions where the affect is a reminiscing feeling. I know that for me the research is correct and positive affects are more likely to incline me to participate in activities with my peers.

When discussing the Broaden-and-Build theory on page three, Fredrik states, ” joy, for instance, broadens by creating the urge to play, push the limits, and be creative” (Fredrick 3). This explains why happy people often look like fools with little thought as to what other people think. I can imagine the awe struck five year old dancing down the isle in the grocery store after her mom added Oreos to the cart. What would the world look like if we all let happiness consume us, like it did when we were kids?

On page four he discusses how, “juvenile play builds enduring physical resources” (Fredrickson 4). What does this look like in the education system today? How beneficial would it be for children to get two recesses? What other things may help children stay active so that it builds a lasting foundation?

I found it interesting on page eight how positive emotions can build mental resilience. I had never thought of it that way. I like that positive emotions are almost like a protector and even when bad things happen they can be handled better because of positive emotions.

Overall this was a great article and I cant wait to discuss this more in class.

Week 6 Response

I wonder if the results would have been different if students were observed at a public university instead of a private one?

I enjoyed the section where they actually showed us the questions that the participants were asked. I found it interesting and kinda awesome to go through and answer them myself.

I liked the comment section on page 4 where they revealed the purpose of the experiment, to better motivate students. I think that that is awesome and helpful. As college grows to be more and more stressful I think it is important to value the students well being and do our best to improve it.

I did a little happy dance at the part where it talked about sleep and GPA’s being related (page 5), because I value sleep and do my best to get enough of it. I wonder if there is more sleep deprivation among upperclassmen?

I found it surprising that the only nutrition choice that was correlated was eating breakfast.

Week 5 Response

I loved the beginning of the article where it talks about the importance of recognizing mental illness as an illness. In society today many think that mental illness is something people just need to “get over” or “grow up,” which is frustrating because it is a real issue. I liked the part on page two where it said, ” acute-phase sadness should be regarded as a separate and unrelated phenomenon,” because I think people fail to separate actual depression with a “hard patch” in life. I find it frustrating when people throw around the word depression like it is a common cold because it makes it sound so normal and takes the seriousness away from those who actually struggle with mental health.

I found what Oliver James found,  ” an increasing amount of stress arises from the futile attempts to fulfil material desires created by the advertising industry,” to be extremely relatable. I know that I personally am guilty of wanting to have the latest phone, and cutest clothes, and a decent car, and along with those aspirations come a high financial cost which can be stressful.

I loved reading about the different treatment options and how technology advances options for treatment and diagnosis.


What do you guys think causes depression? Does it also upset you when people have one bad and refer to themselves as depressed? What did you think of the section where it compared countries around the world?

Positive Psychology Response

I found the article very interesting. I love the part about how the field of positive psychology grew after the war, by studying veterans following war. I have always found PTSD very interesting and very close to home. My grandpa served in Vietnam and is still struggling daily with the aftermath of war.

I think that the part on page two about the environmental effects on psychological disorders. I think that a mental disorders have an obvious effect on people but the environment they’re in plays a very large factor as well.

I believe that the section on how one’s values impact ones positive psychology is amazing. I had never thought of that before but now it makes total sense. If one values their looks, but struggles with weight then it makes sense for them to be less happy then someone who struggles with weight but does not value their looks as highly.

I think that because positive psychology is studied over a lifespan with many test subjects makes it more reliable. The person as a whole is evaluated instead of just one aspect or part of their life (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi 6).

I found the definitions and differences between enjoyable and pleasurable  on page eight to be very helpful. I had never thought of those as different things until reading that.

Overall I learned a lot from this article and enjoyed reading it. I had never heard of positive psychology up until reading this piece, had any of you heard of it, and if so did your views on it change after reading this? After reading this do you feel more aware of your emotions and how they are formed?


SOH Article response 9/5

I believe that children pay more attention to their surroundings then one might think. I nanny three children in the summer and through watching them grow up has been one of the greatest learning experiences for me.  One day when driving them home I took a wrong turn, the three children, ages four, six and eight, all looked up from their kindles and proceeded to ask me why I had missed the turn, and how I need to turn around because I should have taken a left. These children, even while distracted by their kindles still noticed something as small as me missing the turn.

I like that the research expanded by the variations of those participating. By including children who have been adopted and twins the data becomes more reliable.

I believe that despite the science behind genetics having a key role in adolescence behaviors how a child is raised has a very large impact too.  Without the hope that how people raise kids has a large affect on their behaviors what is the point? We can understand that genes make a difference, and learn about the brain based on that, however if a child is all just bones and genes why have hope for kids with bad behavioral genes?


SOH week 1 Response- Shea Hofmann

This article reminds me a lot of the psychology course I took my junior year of high school. The amount of stress that people are under now is continuing to grow and as it grows mental health becomes more of an issue. I found it very interesting that the definition of mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness but instead it is flourishing, meaning mentally healthy. I found it upsetting that only one fifth of the United States population is considered to be mentally flourishing (Keyes 1-2). Mental illness is not just an issue in the states but is a global issue which is turning into a financial burden. I found the amount spent on mental health by the U.S. government to be shocking (Keyes 3). How is such a large issue so rarely discussed in society? Maybe if it was discussed more frequently it would be less of an issue?

The transition of the definition of mental health fascinates me. The definition, “a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity,” from David Satcher a former Surgeon General in the states, makes me slightly angry, but also makes me curious as to if times have truly changed or if people still view mental illness in that manner (Keyes 3). His definition leaves so many unanswered questions, what is considered a “successful performance,” and what are, “fulfilling relationships?”

I loved the MacArthur Foundation’s MIDUS Survey’s graphs. The different comparisons including alcohol dependence alongside anxiety and depression was helpful to visually see the connections (Keyes 5).

Finally my favorite part of the article is on page eleven where they explain how, “mental illness must receive equal attention as physical illness” (Keyes 11). I think that in a country that is so large, diverse and constantly changing it is important that people are educated on, and understand mental health.