Towards a Positive University

Reading this article was a refreshing reminder that we must not forget that be are also human-beings, not just human-doings. Here at VCU, I feel like we have cultivated ways to put students in proper “educational environments that enable the learner to engage in established curricula in addition to knowledge and skills to develop their own and others’ well-being.” What do you all think?

Sandstrom & Dunn 2015

It was interesting to hear that weak ties contribute to the spread of information. I can recognize that his phenomenon is true, but had never looked at it as a clear “bridge.” Not only do weak ties facilitate the spread of information, they also therefore spread creativity. When I first read that, it took a while for me to wrap my brain around what that really meant, but now I can relate it to my own weak ties, and address that new perspectives inspire new thought. About the levels of closeness, I really related to the piece on conversations increasing sense of belonging. For example, when my mom and I were finally able to have real conversations with each other, I instantly felt that we were closer. Have any of you guys seen such a pronounced shift? Also, how do you feel about the role of acquaintances in your lives?

Efficacy of Psychotherapeutic Interventions to Promote Forgiveness: A Meta-Analysis

It is very interesting how for me, every topic we study is perfected through the supplemental inclusion of positive thoughts. Between the two forgiveness models I believe that Worthington’s REACH model is more direct, but it probably depends who the person is. For me, I can apply it to my own life in an easier way. I have only one consistent grudge that I have been holding ever since the beginning of my senior year. I never explored this grudge as being detrimental for my mental health, but after reading this article I feel like maybe I should apply myself, and gift that person forgiveness, because if I don’t won’t I just be hurting myself? Which model do you all think would be easier to apply to your lives, and why?

Karris and Craighead, 2012

WOW! I was blown away that there are only 24 personality traits that people notice.  The number of people and the different backgrounds made me feel like this data was extremely accurate. Initially, I was skeptical of the personal bias going towards the scale, but in the discussion section of the paper the authors clarified that the unlikely virtue scale prevented this from occurring.  What do you guys personally think about where your top strength lies?

Conrod

This article is a very interesting perspective in the criminalization of underage substance use. Clearly, the authors can prove that adolescent’s tendencies to experiment with these types of substances is completely normal and necessary. This fundamental flaw in the system is very frustrating for me as I have recently stumbled into some related legal trouble. Of course, I understand our societies want to keep everyone safe from the perils of addiction, but I believe therapeutic consequences would be more beneficial than criminal consequences. How did you feel about the facts (behavioral analysis) in relation to function (punishment)?

Salvatore, Collins, and Simpson (2011)

I have never really considered the “science behind relationships,” which is probably quite obvious to those closest to me. Maybe if I were to look at it in terms of the organizational perspective of development, I could wrap my head around the fact that when one is in a relationship, it is vital that they become more sensitive to changing circumstances over time. I believe this is my downfall. Despite the fact that I have had an excellent relationship representation raising me, I still feel lost in the relationship realm. I guess it has something to do with expectations and comparison. The system model on page 160 was really interesting to have all influences be broken down in one graphic. With all of these factors being considered, I would find it really interesting to take the AAI, and see where I stand. Having all of the qualities of prospering relationships laid out will be helpful when time comes to try my next go. How do you all feel about these new facts in relation to your own life?

Mindfulness

Ever since I went to my first yoga class, I knew, generally what mindfulness was, and that it was good for you. The only problem was, that I am a professional conceptual processor, and I had the hardest time shutting that off. With that being said, I jumped to the conclusion that maybe yoga wasn’t for me. In my mind, mindfulness was a supplement of yoga, and I did not have any separate teachings of mindfulness, so when I wrote off yoga, mindfulness went along. A couple years later, I read Siddhartha, and reconsidered mindfulness. Although I took away a cool perspective about enlightenment and spirituality, the level of mindfulness (and the employment of magical realism) that Siddhartha embodies throughout the novel seemed extremely farfetched from my day-to-day lifestyle.

The Science of Happiness is my third exposure to mindfulness, and is the only one that is making sense to me. This article was extremely exciting for me to read as the authors broke down mindfulness systematically, and employed specific facts to supports their claims in every general area of functioning, so it was easy for me to relate to. It was really cool that they pointed out the disparity between the Buddhist definition and the workplace definition because I feel like it is hard for some to relate to a religion/mindset that they have not yet adopted. Viewing mindfulness holistically helped me understand that it does not have to change my life, only how I understand my life. I sometimes get frustrated with my own, constant thought stream, but after reading I can ease-up because I now know that I have just been used to society’s mode of functioning: conceptual processing. For someone like me, who is going to be entering the workforce soon, it was quite a relief to read that society is familiar with flaws in conceptual processing like it “involves interpreting stimuli in a way that is abstract, evaluative, and biased toward self-concerns” (Leary, 2004; Watkins, 2008). This gives me hope that the 13% of people who employ mindfulness in their jobs will increase by the time it will impact me.

Mindfulness is all about being present in each moment, and as Amy Armstrong said last week, “life is a composite of millions of moments,” so it is the perfect perspective of a life-loving person.

Do you all think our current societal system could survive with a 100% mindful population?

Mindfulness

Ever since I went to my first yoga class, I knew, generally what mindfulness was, and that it was good for you. The only problem was, that I am a professional conceptual processor, and I had the hardest time shutting that off. With that being said, I jumped to the conclusion that maybe yoga wasn’t for me. In my mind, mindfulness was a supplement of yoga, and I did not have any separate teachings of mindfulness, so when I wrote off yoga, mindfulness went along. A couple years later, I read Siddhartha, and reconsidered mindfulness. Although I took away a cool perspective about enlightenment and spirituality, the level of mindfulness (and the employment of magical realism) that Siddhartha embodies throughout the novel seemed extremely farfetched from my day-to-day lifestyle.

The Science of Happiness is my third exposure to mindfulness, and is the only one that is making sense to me. This article was extremely exciting for me to read as the authors broke down mindfulness systematically, and employed specific facts to supports their claims in every general area of functioning, so it was easy for me to relate to. It was really cool that they pointed out the disparity between the Buddhist definition and the workplace definition because I feel like it is hard for some to relate to a religion/mindset that they have not yet adopted. Viewing mindfulness holistically helped me understand that it does not have to change my life, only how I understand my life. I sometimes get frustrated with my own, constant thought stream, but after reading I can ease-up because I now know that I have just been used to society’s mode of functioning: conceptual processing. For someone like me, who is going to be entering the workforce soon, it was quite a relief to read that society is familiar with flaws in conceptual processing like it “involves interpreting stimuli in a way that is abstract, evaluative, and biased toward self-concerns” (Leary, 2004; Watkins, 2008). This gives me hope that the 13% of people who employ mindfulness in their jobs will increase by the time it will impact me.

Mindfulness is all about being present in each moment, and as Amy Armstrong said last week, “life is a composite of millions of moments,” so it is the perfect perspective of a life-loving person.

Do you all think our current societal system could survive with a 100% mindful population?

Fredrickson, 2001

I never knew that affect and emotions had different meanings, I just thought an affect of an action would be the same as feeling an emotion. The broaden-and-build theory connects these two similar ideas by stating, that certain discrete positive emotions—including joy, interest, contentment, pride, and love—although phenomenologically distinct, all share the ability to broaden people’s momentary thought-action repertoires and build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources.  This theory helps me understand flourishing in a whole new way, and helps me put my personal flourishing in perspective to my thought-action repertoires. Do you guys agree that these functions are necessary to succeed?

First year College students

This is a very ironic topic for the week, as I am sitting in the library, starting this assignment an hour after it is due, but even more so, as I am sitting across the table from my dreamy study partner reading that “academic success was negatively related to social support, particularly in females.” I wonder why?

Anyways, it was interesting to see what little things will actually contribute to  academic success. A lot of them were pretty obvious and well known, like eating breakfast, using a planner, etc, but what I was most interested in was that studying spiritually oriented material improved academic success .  I was confused at first because I thought about religion in general, and how  it provides people with “the answer,” so why would they continue looking?  Then I thought about religious texts. Having the ability to analyze and interpret on a personal level probably would contribute to study skills as a whole. How did you guys relate to this article?( Especially those looking at your freshman year in retrospect).

Gross, 2014

At first, I viewed depression as a biological, or situational illness, but now I agree with Fromm and James’ perspective of depression as a “symptom” of our society.

On June 20th, 2015, my close friend committed suicide. It was frustrating knowing that if he would have maybe waited a little bit longer, there could have been something that would have inspired him to life. I believe that if I could have talked to him about overall long-term life quality, he would have changed his mind.

It was surprising that depression rates are twice as high since 1980 considering the situational stresses of that time period compared to now. I was familiar that the rich are more often depressed, but it seems kind of backwards to me.

Were you guys clear on why the DSM-5’s coverage on depression was so confusing?

Positive Psychology

Before reading this article I understood that we have been ignoring positive psychology, and focusing on getting rid of mental illness, but I never realized the shift in American history. Looking at the pre WW2 and post WW2 shifts of the psychological approach helped me visualize the choice that everybody has to just be okay.

My parents are in a lot of debt, and I always found myself resenting them for being happy. I was confused about why they did not seem so stressed an upset. It made me mad that they weren’t distraught about not giving me the most affluent life they could possibly provide. As I matured I realized that although we were not rich financially, we were rich in love, and sometimes that is more valuable. This article portrayed that same general idea, only with World War Two experiencers rather than people who are financially stressed out.

I was surprised at the beginning of the article when the author was talking about gardening with his daughter. I have been a nanny since I was in eighth grade, and parenting/rearing children has always fascinated me. The first thing that surprised me about this piece of the article was 1. Nikki’s maturity, and 2. How the author interpreted it. I am so excited to raise my children with that attitude. Nothing has ever made more sense than connecting parenting with promoting positive psychology.

Do you guys think that any qualities other than, subjective well-being, optimism, happiness, and self-determination could contribute to positive psychology?

Genetic Influences on Adolescent Behavior

I knew about the general chnges that occur throughout adolecense like, the physical changes and increased risk behavior, bevause, obviously, I have just recently gone through it. I was surprised to hear about the genetic link to adolescent behavior though, for I have always thought that things like risk behavior were categorized in the nurture portion of growing and changing.

Alcohol use in adolescence was my main risk behavior. When I was a freshman in high school, my mother caught me! I was surprised at her reaction considering I had never seen her so angry. I now know that her fury was due to my family’s predisposition to alcoholism. She saw parallels of me in my drunken state with my grandfather, and was worried that if I was already indulging in alcohol it meant something was up. Luckily, I was just experimenting and have not yet developed a dependence.

It was interesting to hear the specific genes that alcoholism is rooted in (GABRA2 and ALDH2).

Can someone reverse their genetic predisposition to alcoholism, or do they just have to avoid drinking as a whole?

Do you guys feel like if we were not in America the ages for alcohol consumption would change?

What has your experience with alcohol and addiction taught you about the disease of alcoholism as a whole?

Promoting and Protecting Mental Health as Flourishing

I never imagined that the fix (or the helpful solution) to mental illnesses could be as easy as a new approach of supporting the idea of flourishing.  Reading that “the prevalence of flourishing is barely 20% in the adult population” (Keyes 2007)  blew my mind. Even though I have had an avid interest in the pharma feild messing up the American society, I had no idea the statistic was that high. Now, I understand that on top of the lies that pharma is feeding into the American mind, our nation is also avoiding this seemingly simple approach to a happier, healthier public.

  • This article intrigued me personally due to a seemingly mentally healthy friend that I had in high school. He was always a very high achieving person, and even achieved his dream of making it to West Point Military academy in New York, but still his 20 yr. old self suffered from a major depressive episode, where he ended up taking his own life. When Keyes talked about America sobering up to mental illness and finally promoting a fix, it hit home to me as I felt sobered by this particular instance in my life.
  • It surprised me that approaches to mental health were rooted as early as philosophers such as Aristotle roamed the earth, yet we have not yet adapted to the proper model of treatment. It made me cringe thinking that 1. 10% of our nation’s GDP was spent on healthcare,  but even more so when 2. Lower income people are expected to pay at the same rates for healthcare. I figured that chronic physical conditions would increase as mental health declined due to my holistic perception of the human body, but the statistics in that category were a bit to large for my comfort.
  • Do you think anyone can flourish without being high achieving (i.e. housewives)?
  • Why do you all think that Black people are mentally healthier than white people considering their socioeconomic inequality?