Blog Post #3: Final Thoughts

The image above is a prime example of how far my knowledge goes on wellbeing and how to maintain it. The meme is basically saying “Look I know how to find the obvious things, but I don’t know much about the rest.” Wellbeing was that for me. Wellbeing was not something I thought about. All I knew was that I should eat well, sleep enough and exercise. This class was useful in helping my explore this topic because it keeps coming up! Another topic that comes with it is “how can we achieve it?”  From reading both the Trockel et al and the Dweck article, I think they were on a similar path in that they were using a population of people to answer the questions “What is wellbeing?” and “What actions/behaviors or personalities lead one person to have a greater sense of wellbeing than another?” From these questions I would go further to ask how these practices all play into overall happiness. In class, many speakers presented on different facets of wellbeing. The one lecture I really got into was the Career Wellbeing lecture given by Sims. She gave us this little stack of strips of paper with job characteristics on them and asked us to organize them into three categories: ones we needed at our job, ones that were nice to have, but were not necessary, and characteristics that were not necessary. After I did the activity, I noticed that I had clear expectations for my dream job and it also showed me why in the past, some jobs were more enjoyable than others. While reflecting on the reading and lecture activities, I realized that if I wanted to be happy, one of the things I needed to check were my career goals and make sure that when I graduate and interview for jobs, that I’m taking all the things I need into account and not just go for any job. In past job experiences, that is exactly what I did.

Social Wellbeing is another topic that is really meaningful to explore because not only does it tie into my career choice, it is also affected by my support group. For example, I’m fairly introverted so I should not become a sales rep because I do not like talking to strangers, nor do I enjoy engaging in large social situations AT ALL. Everyone in my support group knows that, but there have been people in my life that were more extroverted and preferred social gatherings, like parties. Eventually, we fell out and I had to learn to pay attention to my social wellbeing or I am not going to be happy AND EVERYONE IN MY SUPPORT NETWORK WILL NOTICE. As far as sharing what I have learned this semester with others, I think of it like this: if I have my life straight, I can provide support and solicited advice to others. So not only am I doing myself a service, I can use my experience as a resource.

I really think the course should be called The Science of Wellbeing because everything I have learned and applied to my daily life has increased my wellbeing and in turn, my overall happiness.

photo from: https://www.generadormemes.com/meme/vfnd2ilz2fhabcm0tz9obuoo6awmwnfawj8n99q9b4yabswueao0itodxezt213

Blog #2: Testing My Happiness on a Scale of 1 to infinity

Blog #2: Testing My Happiness on a Scale of 1 to infinity

The image had the words from the song “Juicy” by Notorious BIG. When I listen to this song, I think about when I was in a place that is below rock bottom, and eventually getting so tired of being there that I clawed and fought my way out. In the song Biggie describes what his life was like before he was famous, what he had to do to get out of that situation and into a better one. Every tool I have learned in this class has helped me learn more about myself, how I see the world and given me some tools to better myself.

Three topics we discussed in class these past few weeks were: Emotional resilience in the digital age, Substance use risk profile (SURPs), and The Social and Emotional Learning Program (SEL). Emotional resilience in the digital age explored research studies that concluded that increased use of technology increases anxiety, decreases self-efficacy and self confidence. The Substance Use Risk Profile (SURPs) is a questionnaire that measures impulsivity, sensation-seeking behavior, and anxiety sensitivity in order to map out one’s proclivity for substance abuse and the type of substances one would gravitate towards. For example, I scored low in impulsivity, and medium in all the other categories. I was surprised that my impulsivity score was so low, but I was also excited to see progress. The third topic we covered, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), was a program done in grades K-12 all over the world. I noticed the focus of their program was to help kids get in touch with their emotions and express these emotions in a healthy way. Each program is different in their pathways to attaining those goals. For example, some programs have the kids do mindfulness practices, work on their communication skills, or do a daily emotional check-in.

Some of the common ties I noticed across these topics was the focus on the proclivity for risky behavior, instability, anxiety, decreased emotional resilience (like self-efficacy), and identifying how mood influences one’s outlook on life.

The topics covered from blog #1 were: Mindfulness, VIA, Depression & Anxiety (mood states), Genetics & Happiness, and the Flourishing Scale. From these topics, I learned ways to check in, notice when I’m struggling, and how the environment, my genetics and my outlook on life affect my wellbeing. I also gained tools to do something about it (e.g. meditation, stop and think before I act, and work on my strengths). Blog #1 topics were the foundation for what I learned these past few weeks because I can draw a common thread…and by “common” I mean complex af. I have learned how much the complexity of the environment and genetics can lend a boot to how I deal with my life and acquire happiness. The larger lesson I have learned so far are tools to check in (e.g. flourishing scale) when I notice I’m annoyed.

One change I have made is checking in with myself more often. I also noticed I was using my phone to look busy during uncomfortable situations or when I always felt uncomfortable when I didn’t have my phone in my hand. So I decreased my phone usage and put it somewhere where I didn’t see it when I wasn’t using it.

image from: https://lifewithsuz.com/2014/02/28/it-was-all-a-dream/

 

1- Thoughts on the Single Perspective

All of the topics we discussed share the same goal: to find out what impacts our happiness, how to increase our happiness while preventing/working with mental illness. The Keyes’ model of flourishing differs from the other topics because it surveys how mental health and mental illness can affect whether or not we are living life to the fullest (flourishing), bobbing along (experiencing flow) or experiencing little/no happiness (languishing). Lyubomirsky’s model shows how genetics only affects 50% of our happiness and rest is impacted by our intentions and life circumstances. Lyubomirsky’s model is different because it adds the piece about what we can do to aid in the pursuit of our happiness, which is very subjective. Depression, anxiety and mood states can be taken into account when looking at both models. They can serve as perfect examples of how genetics plays a role in how our body responds to them and how each individual reacts or deals with having these illnesses and how their happiness is affected as a result. Positive psychology relates to these topics because it moves past “person is burdened by illness, therefore give them treatment” and instead focuses on how to identify the strengths of the individual, then use those strengths to help the person thrive, regardless of any preexisting conditions. The next step is to use those strengths in everyday life to maximize happiness in the short term and the long term to ultimately create a meaningful life.

On the scale of “not surprised” to “WHOA!”, I would say very close to not surprised by any of these topics. All I could think was why all this research had the background of mental illness like PTSD, anxiety and depression, yet NO WHERE did these scientists and psychologists talk about how race impacts the prevalence of illness and happiness. Granted, people of color are still disenfranchised today, yet all of these studies are fairly recent. Keyes model is from 2002, Seligman has been publishing on positive psychology since the 90s, and Lyubomirsky’s model was presented in the 2000s. I find this disappointing and to put it mildly –lacking, so instead of blogging about the absence of this pertinent information, I decided to explore studies that looked at race as a factor. A book I found compiled several studies that explored different races and measured different characteristics that encouraged happiness and a meaningful life. One article I read looked at Hispanic and Latino communities. The characteristic that stood out to me was family-oriented values how it related to religiosity/spirituality. Family relations are paramount and there is a collectivist mindset that teaches that the needs of the family as a whole precede the individual’s needs and they found that these family oriented values were positively associated with higher self-esteem, well-being, life purpose, life satisfaction and happiness. Religiosity is an example of a culture specific strength. “Religiosity” is universal in that those who participate have a belief in a higher power. Pargament found that compared to non-hispanic whites, African Americans and Hispanics that said religion was integrated into their life on a regular basis tended to have lower rates of psychological distress. Jeglic et. al pointed out that even if  there is a universal set of positive characteristics that exists across cultures, these characteristics can and do manifest themselves differently and mean different things depending on the culture and the context.

The new information I learned is more helpful because it looked at how happiness is defined and measured within different cultures. It provided more context and shared more than just the dominant white, middle to upper class person’s perspective, their community values, and  family structure. There is nothing universal about how happiness in defined cross-culturally. Overall, the topics covered have also been useful as a reminder for me to check in with myself. For example, if I cannot focus, I take a second to figure out why. Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Based off of my answer, I can come up with solutions. So if I’m hungry, I will go eat. The last thing I want to do is get hangry and take it out on an innocent bystander!

Citations: 

book used:

Chang, Edward C. (Ed); Downey, Christina A. (Ed); Hirsch, Jameson K. (Ed); Lin, Natalie J. (Ed). (2016). Positive psychology in racial and ethnic groups: Theory, research, and practice. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. xiii 339 pp., http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.vcu.edu/10.1037/14799-000 

image used:  http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/mp/PtcjP3kz4F3l.jpg