This semester I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself, and this class has had a huge part to play in that. One of my biggest realizations was that just about everything that this class has taught me about being happy has the scientific evidence that really backs up what I’ve always believed about being happy by just living my life. For the longest time I was always wondered if the things that I do to keep myself joyful actually applied to other people. To test the waters, I’ve shared my experiences with what’s made me happy before, and what things I’ve done to try and see the best in others and how that’s affected me, and I was honestly surprised to see that a lot of people agreed with what I was saying. I didn’t think anyone would, and to also see how this was reflected in the lectures in class really made me think,”Whoa! So there’s actually scientific evidence to all this!” It made me remember more concretely that being happy, truly and long lastingly happy, requires that we look outside of ourselves rather than trying to look inward in self-isolation. Being around people you love, challenging yourself, growing in knowledge, becoming more humble, doing what’s best for others and yourself, and not just what feels good in the moment, are things that I’ve found to be what really boosts happiness in people. Looking at my ratings, I notice not much has really changed. That’s not to say that I’ve been doing badly, but it kind of shows me that I’ve been relatively consistent in maintaining myself, despite the stresses that came with the semester. I hope that, looking back, this class isn’t just another class for me, but something that I can carry with me for the rest of my life.
This week we were asked to do two acts of kindness for others in relation to our positive emotions that result from them. As I was reflecting on this during class, I realized that doing acts of kindness shouldn’t JUST go to those who are kind to us, but to those who give us a hard time, as well. For instance, I was discussing a project that I was planning to do with a friend of mine, to someone, and they were confused about what exactly we were doing and kind of a made a more of a big deal about it than it had to be. To be honest, I was actually getting a little bit irritated just because I didn’t think that not understanding it was something to get that upset over, but perhaps that was lack of patience on my part. So afterwards, I went and met with the person one-on-one and apologized because I didn’t mean for any of my comments or reactions to come off as sarcastic or impatient. Thankfully this person forgave me, and we both simply moved on. Another instance where I was kind to someone was earlier this week. I’ve noticed a guy who is always by himself in an organization that I’m a part of and I felt drawn to introduce myself. I hate getting out of my comfort zone, but I know how it feels to feel like an outcast in big groups, so I did introduce myself, and even though our interaction was short, I do hope that it made him a little happier. Looking at the first event, I was thinking about how, in my own life, it’s difficult to forgive others who have hurt you, especially when that pain is deep. I know in my own experience, I would say things like,”Well, why should I forgive them? They don’t deserve it.” But that’s the whole point. It wouldn’t BE forgiveness if they DID deserve it. I don’t believe that forgiveness means that you’re no longer hurt, but I’ve heard someone people ask me,”I’ve forgiven this person, but the pain is still there, so have I truly forgiven them?” My answer was always yes, because it isn’t a matter of feeling, it’s a decision, and I’m fully aware that it’s a difficult decision to make, and that’s okay. That’s the challenge with life sometimes, and I think that we should all have renewed kindness each time we wake up, new kindness every morning.
I’m nearing the end of my junior and I get asked by lots of people what I plan on doing after I graduate college, and I tell them the same answer, “I don’t know”. I think about the Personal Mission Statements that we’ve been working on in class, and I realize that my success isn’t measured by how much money I make, but, by how fulfilled my life is in the end. Don’t do things in life to become happy, but rather, do things in life BECAUSE you’re happy. It’s that kind of happiness that’s contagious and draws people together. Looking at my own personal mission statement, I realized that I need to use my gifts to their fullest advantage because I was blessed with them for a reason. Now, what does this have to do with finding a career? I’m not entirely sure, but what I do know is that perseverance and a great attitude are key components in being successful in life, and I know that from my own mission statement, it isn’t about what I can get from a career that drives me. For me, it’s more about what can I give? If I go into this career or pursue this job, in the end how can I be giving back?
What I’ve noticed throughout my life is that sometimes if you’re in a group with some of your friends, and someone’s upset about something, and it can be about anything, it can change the whole atmosphere. The same goes with someone who’s happy and energetic. For me, personally, sometimes I feed off of the energy of others and it makes me energetic and outgoing, while in other situations, others feed of of my energy, and so on. This makes me think about how our emotions and moods, or even just the way we live, affects other people. According to the article by Good, “Mindfulness has been shown to improve three qualities of attention- stability, control, and efficiency”. Looking at this, I can honestly say that by being mindful every day of my actions and what’s going on, I’m definitely more aware of how I may be impacting someone with my words or actions, and as we all may have experienced, the result of all this can have a ripple effect. In the article by Goleman, leaders impact those who look up to them without even knowing it, so mindfulness is especially helpful here because those who look up to them are influenced by them and may imitate what they do. It kind of parallels back to what I was saying earlier, that when someone is upset or happy, it can change the whole mood of the situation and everyone is either bogged down by it or enthused by the person. With this in perspective it gives me an awareness of how I may be impacting someone else, either positively or negatively, and it allows me to look to others and what they need instead of being overly worried about what’s going on in my life.
I remember growing up I didn’t actually have many good relationships. When I was young I was definitely not sociable, and I didn’t have any confidence to actually make friends, so I didn’t. However, as I grew up, I began to grow out of this and I realized that the closest friend I had were those who built me up, and vice versa. That’s essentially what a relationship is. It’s both people giving their friendship back and forth to each other. Looking at my closest friends, some of the things that got us to be that close was an atmosphere of openness with each other and making sure that, even though we all have fun together and maybe tease each other from time to time, we remember to lift each other up. In the reading, there was a diagram that showed the mechanisms of high quality relationships, which consisted of empathy, respective engagement, and perspective-taking, just to name a few. These qualities of friendship have allowed me to really come out of my box and reach out to people in ways that I previously would’ve never thought about doing. I heard somewhere that there’s a difference between isolation and solitude. The difference is that isolation is when we avoid people for its convenience, whereas solitude is finding a place by yourself and reflecting on how you can improve yourself to love others more and to overall be a better person. As I was thinking about this I thought about how the article describes how good relationships improve cognitive thinking and a number of other things, and I think solitude can really help in this because it can help us to interact with others .
To be honest, when I took this class, I had a very general idea of what we would be reading or discussing, but what struck me was the article titled,”What it Means to be Fully Human”. I was surprised by the content of this article because I find it profoundly true. Friedersdorf, an advocate for the mentally disabled, describes something essential to your own happiness, and to that of another, and that is to love others. I hear a lot of the time that many people find their value in the things they’ve done or the things they haven’t done, as opposed to the fact that they simply are a human being and exist in this world with us. It’s the latter that gives us our truest value, not necessarily what we do or don’t do in our lives. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t do amazing things or that we fail at life if we don’t do something incredible, but perhaps it’s a wake up call for us to realize that we’re more than the sum of our actions. I think this ties into another one of our readings by Karney and Bradbury in which they discuss the contextual influences on marriage. Now, I’m not married, nor am I a marriage counselor, but I can say for sure that loving your spouse doesn’t come from what they can DO for us, but just for the fact that they’re an irreplaceable person and we love them for who they ARE.
I’m pretty sure that when we hear anxiety, we don’t think of how it could benefit us. Not just anxiety, but just emotions related to stress, in general. According to the reading based on Rashid, people who think positively generally feel more positive. I’ve definitely seen that in my own life. I’ve found that when I would think more negatively, I would feel more weight on my shoulders as opposed to focusing on the positive things in my life. But I realize that the more I focus on things that uplift me and solidify the fact that life is good, then that weight on my shoulders is lifted a little more. However, I sympathize with people who are suffering in the world, and who have a hard time thinking about these things due to clinical depression or any kind of trial they may be going through. I don’t say this as if I’m on a high horse, or as someone who has his life together, but simply as something I’ve seen personally. I think that positive psychology can really help people sift through their dark times because it provides a practical and approachable way for people who seek better quality’s of life. Mental health is so important, and I feel that so many people can benefit from the research being done on this different approach to improve the quality of life for people
When I found the envelope with my name written on it, I found that the results were actually results that I expected. I’m normally a fun-seeking guy with a lot of energy, so it didn’t surprise me that “Sensation Seeking” got the highest rating, while “Hopelessness” had the lowest rating. I don’t really find myself being all that negative anymore, although I definitely was when I was much younger. I laughed a little bit when I shared the results of my survey with some of my friends because they all said that my “Impulsiveness” rating should have been much higher. What great friends I have, right? But really, though, looking at the survey results, I realized that I actually do have a tendency to do say things without thinking, and that can be pretty hazardous to my relationships or I might actually say something that would insult someone, and I would never have intended to. As I’ve reflected, I’ve realized the need to be more cautious about what I say sometimes so that I don’t unintentionally tear someone down.
It’s so difficult for me to imagine living life without knowing you have a purpose. I think that, we as people, are designed to have a purpose and it was really interesting for me to see that there’s scientific evidence that, by finding a purpose, you’ll become a happier person. But, of course, this purpose is only achieved when we take action to actually achieve it, and that requires day-by-day action. Some of these things that I’m working on for myself is avoiding occasions where I can slack off or put myself on cruise-control, so to speak. This is a huge challenge for me because I can easily distract myself on the Internet or leave my study space and go hang out with my friends. Disciplining myself, so that I’ll become a more responsible person, will make it easier for me in the future to put in hard work and really focus, so as to help others in whatever it is that I do. I think that by learning how to focus will make me the best I can be in the long run, thus resulting in the happiness of others that I have relationships with, and even those I don’t have relationships with.
From my own experience being happy was never the goal, but simply the byproduct of a greater purpose. I’ve realized that the means to becoming happy, or chasing after happiness itself actually has made me less happy, such as seeking a good reputation and various other things. It was only until I started to do things for people and for myself, just simply out of the realization that everyone deserves to be treated well, began to make me happy. I knew all of this in theory but it’s really interesting to see it as scientific evidence, as well.