When I first received the email introducing me to the opportunity of enrolling myself in the new Science of happiness course at VCU, I thought it was too good to be true. I have witnessed the stigma and silence that clouds mental health in more than one place in this nation. The uncomfortable approach to the subject of mental health we have settled for has taken an enormous toll on our society’s health culture, encouraging confused teenagers to succumb to the bizarre myths that grow daily. That being said, I was so excited to sign up for this class not only to expand my awareness and education of mental health but also to integrate the health practices learned in class into my daily life to fulfill my healthiest potential.
While I was expecting the course to adopt the generic ‘educational’ format, it became a pleasant surprise when I realized that it was more than your average classroom lecture and more so ‘applicably interactive’. It really put me on the spot and forced some uncomfortable realizations at times. Not only were some thoughts faced during this semester painfully honest in nature, but mastering control on the brain when it has been wired to respond to certain emotions a specific way for so long was by far the hardest challenge for me to overcome. I would catch myself experiencing emotional strain and immediately respond by applying de-stressor methods from class.
My pre-course self-ratings for the class were pretty low, but the improvement in my post-course self-ratings most likely improved because of this very acquired self-awareness of directional thought. Before taking this class, I thought reacting upon what I automatically felt was emotional honesty in its most organic sense. It wasn’t until being exposed to techniques like positive psychology and mindfulness that I realized that that doesn’t always have to be the case. It was so refreshing, opening my mind up to happier and brighter alternatives.
I think a class requirement that really helped me get there were these blog posts. You can walk away with such better insight after a lengthy reflection, and reflecting fully and wholly on the weekly material helped me to further grasp the impact of feeding positivity into your brain even in the most frustrating of situations. When you allot yourself time to become conscious about what type of influences and emotional energy you’re emitting out into the world, it makes you want to thrive in mental health as much as possible.