My first few weeks of “UNIV 391: The Science of Happiness” have exceeded my expectations for the course. This is not to say that I had low expectations for the course; on the contrary, I entered this course with a great deal of optimism and curiosity. What could a course on “The Science of Happiness” really be about? Shorty after the first class meetings, I found my interest in the course reaffirmed. There have already been several topics that have both drawn new interest and helped me to make connections with other facets of my life.
Such a connection was made early in the course when we were presented with information about how much we are effected by our genetic makeup, in contrast to our environment. As an assignment we were to compose a family tree of a specific trait or characteristic and trace it back through generations. It was interesting for me to find how common, or uncommon, a specific trait was among my family; as well as to try to figure out whether it was because of genetics, environment, or other factors. This was insightful for me, as I found that there was a unique yet indistinguishable pattern running in my family, of which I am a sort of “beneficiary”. I believe that another valuable connection was made while reviewing both positive psychology and character traits. I was able to perhaps step back and, in a kind of out-of-body way, assess myself and deepen my understanding of why I may take certain actions.
I could also make connections in the presented material itself. I could see a direct relationship between the positive psychology practices (PERMA) and how they could be used to aid depression. Also valuable to me was the information on depression itself. I was surprised at the different classifications, which I then used in reflection of certain patterns in both myself and my family. During this reflection, I reminded myself of the concept of nature vs. nurture, which caused me to find slight conflict. I questioned whether the experiences of my family, which had depression-like effects, could have possibly been a result of being reared (nurtured) in a way as to depress emotions or feelings (a direct effect from the environment). Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to the rest of the semester and the developments that I will make while applying the information to myself and those around me.