Towards a Positive University

I love this article! It is directly linked to our class and VCU in so many ways in which VCU strives to promote wellbeing to their students which I think in it’s own way is amazing because I know at other universities, they do not offer classes like the Science of Happiness. I’m also proud at the fact that VCU is offering an Artfulness class also that promotes mindfulness through the arts! I think that fits perfectly for our university. I love how the article has a chart that specifies the techniques that universities can use to promote positivity and I recognize a few that I’ve learned from my Sociology class in high school like promoting flow! Although I am familiar with positivity and wellbeing importance in institutions like school, as this is the reason why I joined Active Minds, others do not know about classes that promote wellbeing like SOH. That’s why I think VCU, although it’s doing a great job by offering classes like this, should promote these classes even more and the students (us) should promote it as well! What do you guys think?

The Surprising Power of Weak Ties

This weeks article is about social conversations with strangers or even acquaintances.  These weak social ties, according to the article, promotes well being and feeling of belongingness. It isn’t a surprise that weak social ties could spark more positivity in another’s life, since there are scientific research proven that we are social creatures that thrive off of social interactions. For example, the Harlow experiment. It’s interesting to know exactly why weak social ties promote well being, which according to this article its because we become socially diverse. The whole concept of being socially diverse is intriguing. It kind of allows for doors to be open and for the imagination to be active, which definitely promotes well being. I think to be able to take advantage of such weak ties, you have to be that “type” of person, however. Like for me, I’m an introvert and often do not start conversations first. Also, on my strengths test, which I think correlates to this is that my “bravery” character was at the bottom of my list also. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Just knowing my weaknesses and the potential positivity I could receive from interacting with strangers serves as a catalyst for cultivating that bravery character strength to be much powerful.

Forgiveness

This week’s article is on forgiveness, what it means to be forgiving and what it means for reducing depression and stress. This article is pretty interesting to me and pertains to me because forgiving was one of my last top five strengths, according to VIA. I think one of the reasons as to why that was is because I can forgive, it’s just that I do not forget, which the article does mention. Forgiveness according to this article includes the reduction of all vengeful or angry thoughts, feelings, and motives and some form of positive feelings or thoughts. Some studies in this meta-analyses showed that forgiveness had a positive correlation with de-stressing and lowering depression levels. It’s interesting to think that there can be such a program/step-by-step procedure to achieving forgiveness and how complex such an action can be. Do you think these processes can help those who are known to be unforgiving or those who have a very hurtful/serious situation?

Differences in Character Among U.S. College Students

I find the whole concept of positive psychology pretty interesting, so this article was definitely a good read. The top traits that people scored were humor, love, kindness, and honesty, which are all very positive traits in college students. The gender differences’ results was also interesting. They definitely fit into gender norms about femininity and masculinity. However,  what I found most interesting was the population that was tested. Out of the 757 people questioned, 655 were white. The article does briefly touch on this race difference and their character trait differences of spirituality (Non-whites are more spiritual), but this does pose the question on whether or not this study is good at reflecting U.S. college students’ thoughts on the overall concept of positive psychology. Do you think this race difference is important? How about the gender difference?

Substance Use Disorders

This weeks article is about substance use and the correlation of illegal drugs with genetics and environment for adolescence.

After coming to the age of 18, I’ve watched many of my friends try cigarettes just because they’re 18 and they can do it legally now. All of them are addicted now. Culturally, doing drugs, whether legal or not, is seen as “cool”. Like how the article says, in the adolescence stage, young adults are able to go off without supervision of their parents and usually with their peers, peer pressure happens. Not only does peer pressure, or the environment influence the use of illegal drugs, but if one were predisposition to be susceptible to addiction, then it increases the dangers of illegal or legal drug use.

What do you guys think we can do culturally to diminish the “coolness” of illegal drugs? Do you think we should start educating people of the real dangers of illegal drugs? (I ask this because I was never given formal education of the dangers of drugs, or the specifics)

Close Relationships

This article was an interesting read, although I already knew a lot of the information through psychology, like how childhood experiences and interactions with others affects their future relationships by either limiting their social skills or helping it. What I found most interesting was the fact that individuals could arrive at the same outcome from different starting points and vice versa. Its interesting to know that little interactions that seem insignificant could impact a person’s relationships in the long run, like how either they can bounce back and mend their relationships more easily or whether or not it’s more difficult for them.  Although we learned the technique of positive constructive responses when speaking with others, what are some other techniques can we do to improve our interactions and social circles?

Mindfulness at Work

At first I thought mindfulness only meant to be in the room and pay attention. I didn’t know how important the attention part was and how it contributed to so many different aspects in life like behavior, cognition, emotions, and physiology. I didn’t know how complex attention could be! I always thought it just meant sit there and think of nothing else except what was going on in the room. I did not know that attention came in three different forms of stability, control, and efficiency that affected different aspects.

I always knew meditation lessened stress, yet I didn’t know that it promoted creativity and divergent and convergent thinking. I also found it surprising that mindfulness can affect emotional reactions by lessening the time it takes to go back to the baseline after being on an emotional high. That could really work for anxiety.

It’s hard for me to practice mindfulness, however. I always think that I have to think about what’s going to happen after this class or what I have to do tonight because I think that if I don’t constantly remind myself, then I’ll forget about it. Does anybody else have this problem or some other difficultly to when it comes to practicing mindfulness? What do you guys think we can do to get rid of these obstacles?

Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology

When reading this article, I wasn’t surprised to know that having positive emotions affects our well-being. I just never knew that it had a long-term effect. What was most interesting to me was all the specific benefits of positive emotions/thoughts because usually when people tell you having positive emotions/thoughts were good for you, they never told you specifically HOW. So knowing that being positive broadens our thoughts and actions, or creativity, that it gets rid of negative emotions, and makes our minds “stronger” is amazing. So combined with the right amount of exercise, eating habits, sleeping habits, and positive emotions/thoughts our well-being will improve immensely is what I got from last week’s reading and this week’s.

Of course being more positive in general is beneficial to relationships and individual growth, but how about those where it isn’t necessarily easy to be positive? Like people diagnosed depression?  Is there anything they can do or should do?

College Health

After reading this article, it kind of affirmed my belief that sleep was important and it also kind of made me mad at myself because even though I know how important sleep is, I still stay up past the wee hours after midnight and wake up around 9am for my class at 11am and at 11am for my 1pm class, which is pretty late compared to how early I would wake up for high school, 5am. I didn’t know, however, that late wakings could affect GPA. I always thought it was just the amount of hours of sleep that mattered, not how early or late you wake up. It was also interesting to see how sleep was the only variable that showed a significant change in GPA against the others and how sleep kind of correlated to some of the variables like breakfast.

My question is, however, is sleep REALLY the only variable that has a significant affect or does anybody think that the others have a significance also? If so, what other variables?

Silver Lining for Patients with Depression

From my experiences, depression was never “real”. I think in society, we tend to only think something is wrong if we can physically see it, like a broken leg. I agree with the notion that people usually brush off depression as “just being sad” or that those who are depressed should “just get over it”, without realizing that depression is an illness that simply cannot go away with a wave of a wand. It’s especially hard, in my opinion, coming from a foreign country and trying to explain mental illnesses to my parents, like depression or anxiety, because in our country, a low living standard country, mental illnesses don’t really exist. They just brush you off, say something is wrong with you, and call you possessed. So if in American society, depression is somewhat in the dark, how long will it not be? I understand that mental illness and mental flourishing is a relatively new field of study, yet what strives are being made to improve this institution and what can we, as a society, do to better understand mental illnesses like depression and help those with those mental illnesses?

I also found the correlation of depression and capitalism interesting. Does anybody else agree with the article when it says that capitalistic-driven countries have higher mental illness rates because of the affluenza?

Positive Psychology Post #3

One of the big take aways I got from this goes along the lines of the first article we had read about how mental illnesses are the focus and not mental flourishing. It seems like when psychology is involved, it is always the negative that is shown. There are always experiments, statistics, and data that involve negative aspects of mental health, in other words, what causes mental illnesses or the relativity of a certain mental illness, but never what causes mental health. I agree with the article that by doing such, usually psychology has become somewhat synonymous with “negative motivations” that seem like the authentic and positive emotions are seen as the “derivative”, when in reality, positive motivations should become the new authentic. I also agree that psychologists should shift from creating methods that deal with mental illnesses to finding out ways in which life is worth living in order to ensure mental health as flourishing. So my question is, what would you consider to be qualities that help mental health flourish?

Genetic Influences on Adolescent Behavior

From what I previously understood, I thought behavior was influenced by 50% genetics and 50% environment, as I’ve learned from my psychology class in high school. I never knew that as we grew, these factors could outweigh each other in influencing behavior. What was interesting to me and now that I think about, makes sense to me, was that as we aged, we were able to choose and shape our own environments. It kind of applies to the sayings of “choose your friends wisely” and “don’t hang around the wrong crowd” where we literally have the “choice” to choose our surroundings and who we associate ourselves with. What was also interesting was how other risk behaviors, not just alcohol consumption, like anti-social behavior, conduct misbehavior, and impulsivity could all result from genetic influence.  I was wondering, however,  when exposed to a new environment, do we really have the choice to choose our surroundings? For example, I assume to avoid being lonely and left out, one would join the first group that would offer their inclusion in their group?

Protecting and Promoting Mental Health as Flourishing

When first reading the title, I immediately thought back to my Sociology class last year. Our first unit was on “Happiness” and what it meant to be happy. We went over the chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, that made us have that happy feeling. We as a class came to an understanding that the key to happiness was to be an active member of society. We also learned that those who were happy were socially, emotionally, and physically more superior but we never went over what it didn’t mean, however.

I agree with Keyes when he says that the “absence of mental illness is not the presence of mental health”. It seems to me that people typically assume that the absence of some type of detriment automatically means they are in a state of well-being.  I’m even guilty of that. I never thought of the idea that just because I’m not sad, doesn’t mean I’m happy. To be completely honest, I never gave a thought about being mentally healthy until about two years ago. I was a junior in high school and my best friend, my cousin, started skipping school to the point where the truancy officer was knocking on his door. I had no idea that he had severe anxiety. It was when he was going to a therapist and was able to get home-schooled did I realize that not being sad does not mean being alright. The process of allowing him to get home-schooled was a lengthy one, too. It seemed kind of ridiculous that the school had to “make sure” something was “wrong” for him to get home-schooled. That brings up the question about how public schools deal with mental illnesses. Are they readily equipped to deal with those who suffer from mental illness by offering education, support, etc in America?

It kind of got messier when it came down to telling his mom (my aunt) about his anxiety, too. Coming from Laos, mental illness was never a “thing” in Lao culture, as in it never really existed. My cousin had to explain to his mom multiple times and has to remind her that anxiety is not something that magically goes away with one therapy session. I even had trouble explaining it to my own parents. This brings up my next question: If in foreign culture mental illness is basically ignored, how is mental illness treated in the U.S.? Is there still that stigma when someone is labeled “mentally ill”? And if anyone else from another culture treats mental illness in a certain way, please share!

I’m going to end this blog post with agreeing with Keyes when it comes to promoting mental health as flourishing. I believe that to truly recover from a mental illness is to flourish in mental health, as I’ve see first hand through my cousin who has come out of his bubble and is now attending community college with the goal of improving himself as a person not only academically, but mentally.