Science of Well-Being Blog Post

I completely agree with the argument this article puts out about incorporating well-being studies into general education. Mental health is so important, and it’s satisfying to watch it become more and more relevant in today’s society. School can be very stressful, especially education at a university level, so I most definitely agree that requiring all students to participate in a positive psychology course would be extremely beneficial. The science of happiness course I took here at VCU was especially beneficial to me, and I’m more than glad that the course was offered here. All of the teaching strategies that were listed in the article to enforce positive psychology all seem to be very beneficial in reducing mental illness in students. I also agree that these courses should be offered in secondary schools because most mental illnesses generally begin before students reach the university level.

I also agree that a good learning environment surrounded by good peers and teachers contributes to the reduction of mental illness. If students are placed in a friendly-positive learning environment, the rate of school-related mental illnesses would most definitely go down. I agree that having good connections and encouragement by the individuals within the school/classroom can make all the difference.

How has the science of happiness class benefited you?

Social Interactions Blog Post

From reading this article I learned that weak-ties with people are an essential factor in happiness. Although I did notice that I was more upbeat and motivated on days in which I had more social interactions, I never thought much about it. Weak-tie social interactions always make me feel better and brighten my day up a little, so I do agree that it’s beneficial for good mental health.

I also agree that strong-tie interactions are more memorable. When I think about it, I always remember more of the interactions I had with close friends and family, and not so much of the interactions I have with strangers or acquaintances. This is definitely because those that I’m close with play a huge role in my life and have been in my life for a while, so I feel like I tend to value those interactions more. However, I do believe weak-tie interactions are still extremely important.

I believe social interactions are extremely crucial in order to achieve good mental health, as they normally provide distraction from over-thinking, anxiety, depression, etc. I noticed that when I go out and talk to people, I’m distracted from my anxiety and my brain filling up with bad thoughts. I wouldn’t really consider myself an extrovert because I like spending time to myself, however, going out and engaging in social interactions almost never fails to improve my day.

Forgiveness Blog Post

Before reading this article, I always wondered about forgiveness and what allows someone to forgive another. I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly forgiving person since I have a tendency to empathize for others, which is a trait that is listed in the REACH Forgiveness Model. I always knew that empathy was one of the most important factors in forgiveness, however, I never really considered recollection and altruism to be crucial components in the forgiveness process as well. Commitment and holding onto forgiveness is sort of implied when one forgives another, so this was nothing new to me.

It also made a lot of sense to me that forgiveness interventions helped lessen the rate of anxiety and depression in individuals. If one were to forgive someone for their hurtful actions and move on, I feel like this would relieve a lot of stress and ultimately make the individual feel a lot better. I can also see how self-esteem levels go up because when one person does something good, that person most likely would feel a lot better about themselves. Therefore if someone were to forgive another rather than seek vengeance, they are most likely to feel like the bigger person.

Although forgiveness may be difficult at times, it’s crucial to maintain good mental health. Naturally, humans have a tendency to want to get back at whoever did them wrong, but that generally leads to worse things. Forgiveness is so important because  it ultimately creates a better and mentally healthier society.

Differences in Character Among U.S. College Students Blog Post

Before reading this article, I already had some knowledge on common character traits that are shared between most college students. Since I am a college student and am around other students my age every day, I recognized that we all have similar characteristics. I wasn’t surprised at all by the results of the VIA-IS test, considering that at this age I know playfulness and intimacy are more important than spirituality and the love of learning. I know this changes as we grow and mature into older adults, as I know that religion and education become more important with age. However, as a college student I know that going out and having fun and making memories tops staying in and reading a text book.

I believe that I definitely posses more characteristics of humor and love than spirituality and love of learning, so reading this article and seeing the results of the tests that were done on college students was very understandable. I’ve also witnessed individuals growing older and slowly transitioning from the fun and carefree characteristics to more serious and spiritual characteristics.

SUD Blog Post

Before reading this article, I had low intelligence on substance use disorders and was unaware of how most drug addictions began. During my years in high school, I did witness plenty of drug and alcohol use and noticed as we got older, more and more people began partying/using drugs and alcohol. However, although it may be too early too tell, I didn’t really see many signs that predispose SUD in that many of my peers. I did recognize an increase in tolerance in these individuals, though.

From what I was aware of substance use disorder-wise, was that addiction normally results from heavy use during adolescent years. For instance, if one were to drink every day from ages 15-18, then this individual’s risk of developing an alcohol dependency issue would be significantly higher than an individual who has only had a few drinks in his/her lifetime. I also was aware of the fact that some addiction can be caused by genetics. However, I was unaware that personality played a role in the cause of SUD. I had no idea that some personality traits create a higher risk of the development of substance abuse. For instance, I found it extremely interesting that if an individual were to be highly sensitive, they’d have a greater risk of developing an SUD.

From reading this article, I learned that not everyone is equally at risk for developing an SUD, which I previously thought was the case. I learned that addiction is not only caused by poor choices to consume copious amounts of alcohol/drugs, but can result from certain personality traits and genetics. However, if one were to have really bad anxiety, how would this relate to drug use? Would drugs be something that they find relaxing, or generally stray away from?

Interdisciplinary Research on Close Relationships Blog Post

Before reading this article, I always wondered what caused individuals to act the way they do in certain relationships. I was curious as why certain individuals expect more out of relationships, and why some don’t. This article helped me expand my knowledge on the foundation of close relationships.

I always knew that at early adolescence, we listen to our parents speak and watch their actions, so we grow up to be like them. However, I did find it interesting that our parents or care-givers have an effect on our close relationships with others as we mature. I found it interesting that if our parents treat us a certain way when we’re younger, we’ll expect the same treatment in a future close-relationship. For instance, if your mom tends to give you a lot of attention and will get you anything you want, you will probably expect the same out of your future spouse.

Although I did seem to comprehend the main idea of the article, there are still some things I’m confused about. If no one was ever there for you as a child, wouldn’t that make you expect more attention out of a relationship as an adult? Do we normally grow up to have the same kind of relationship our parents did?

Contemplating Mindfulness at Work

Before reading this article, I had a small idea what mindfulness was. I just assumed it was when an individual was aware of a situation and knew how to handle it correctly. Although this is what the article basically describes, there was still a lot I didn’t know about mindfulness and how it can have a positive effect on an individual’s mental health.

Not only did I find it interesting that being mindful can result in positive emotions, but I also found it interesting that being mindful can result in a longer attention span. I had no idea that this had any correlation, I also had no idea there was such thing as “mindfulness training”. It’s extremely interesting that this “mindfulness training” can result in more focused behavior and the ability to only pay attention to what’s important, without being distracted.

Another thing I found interesting in this article was that mindfulness training can affect fluid intelligence. I wasn’t aware that these two qualities had any correlation either, so it was a little difficult to wrap my head around it at first. However, I was aware that it affects behavior positively because being mindful is all about thinking before speaking or acting and becoming fully aware of a situation.

From this article I learned a lot about mindfulness training. In fact, I had no idea there was even such thing as mindfulness training, I always just thought a person could either be mindful, or not mindful at all. However, the fact that there is such thing as mindfulness training should be extremely beneficial to any company, as any employee for any company could take something positive out from mindfulness training.

The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology

Before reading this article, I had no idea positive emotions had any correlation with broadening an individual’s thoughts. I did know, obviously, that positive thoughts were good and beneficial for individuals, but I did not know that they could make someone more creative or intellectual. I found this extremely interesting, as now there’s even more of a reason to attempt to fulfill oneself with positive energy.

I also had no idea that negative emotions have a direct correlation with immediate adaptive benefits. I find this interesting because I never noticed it until I just read about it, but now it makes a lot more sense. Now that I think about a few individuals that I know, this theory is proved accurate. After I read about this, I didn’t find it surprising that positive emotions produce long-term adaptive benefits. I know that positive emotions produce more energy and motivation in an individual which overall results in productivity and accomplishment, which would only lead to more positive energy. This didn’t make much sense to me at first, but after a careful analysis it became a lot simpler to understand.

I found it interesting that those that experience more negative emotions than positive emotions have a narrower attention span. Is this because it’s more difficult for those who suffer from strong negative emotions to open up to anything else? I know whenever I suffer from strong negative emotions I tend to just stay in my mind, and block out everything else. I also don’t have the energy to pay attention to anything else or think about anything else. However, when I am filled with positive energy I am open to other ideas, and open to pay attention to the world around me. At first, this article was a little difficult to understand, but once I connected it to my life and what I’ve experienced, a lot of things make more sense now.

Health-related Variables and Academic Performance Blog

Before reading this article, I knew sleep had a major effect on student GPA. I knew this because in high school, I would stay up all night and study for a test, and then be too tired to actually do well on the test and fail. I was extremely frustrated by this and couldn’t figure out why I kept failing these tests when I spent hours studying for them, even if I did get a decent amount of sleep the night before. I then figured out it was because I hardly got any sleep during the week days and slept all day on the weekends, so I was in a constant state of exhaustion. I then noticed the same thing in other individuals that had similar sleep patterns as me, so I discovered that bad grades resulted from poor sleeping habits. I also noticed that those who did get good grades didn’t go out on the weekends and got a decent amount of sleep every night. This made sense because they were awake enough to take good notes in class and to be alert during exams.

I was mostly surprised that social support had a negative correlation with student GPA. I figured that the more social support an individual had, the higher their GPA would be. I figured this because it seemed reasonable that if an individual had more friends and family supporting them in their academics, the individual’s grades would be higher. Why is there a negative correlation and not a positive one? Is it because once an individual goes off to college to be more independent they struggle because they’re used to help and support?

Overall, from this article I learned that not many external factors affect students’ GPAs besides sleep habits. Before reading this article I thought other factors like eating habits and social support would have been dominated over sleep patterns in the effect of student GPAs, but it turns out I assumed incorrectly. This article was also extremely helpful in helping me understand why school is more difficult on little amounts of sleep.

“Silver Linings for Patients With Depression” blog post

Before reading this article I thought conventional psychotherapy and drug treatment always worked. Since it’s the go-to treatment for most individuals suffering from mental illness, I was quick to assume that it always worked for every case. However, I did not find it surprising that the most materialistic individuals are the ones that are more likely to suffer from depression. I figured this because those that rely on external factors to produce their happiness wouldn’t be as happy once these objects or high status are taken away. Also, the pressure to be perfect and put together is more implied on those that live a more materialistic lifestyle. This causes these individuals to feel not good enough, which puts a huge downer on their self esteem and causes sadness.

I was also aware that low serotonin and dopamine levels play a huge role in affecting an individual’s depression. This was something I learned in my psychology class, and it makes sense. Why would anyone choose to be sad? I also found it interesting that traditional talk-therapy and drug therapy don’t work at all on those who are severely depressed. The concept of TMS is extremely interesting, as I didn’t know that it even existed. Does this only work on patients that suffer from severe depression? Can it suffice on those that suffer from other mental illnesses such as severe anxiety or panic disorder?

 

Positive Psychology

Before reading this article, I just assumed positive psychology was just another term for general psychology. I was very blind-sided to the different types of psychology. I always thought the science of psychology was just mental illness and what causes mental illness, and that’s just what this article argues that psychology is not. From this article, I learned that psychology is the study of what allows individuals to flourish while times are tough, or when many of the individuals’ sources of happiness are no longer available. Although psychology does involve studies of mental illness and what causes it, positive psychology encourages the study of how to keep individuals in a positive state of mind even when life gets hard.

Personally, I believe our society needs more reinforcement of positive psychology. Psychology has been portrayed as diagnosing everyone with a form of mental illness to the point where almost no one would be considered flourishing. However, if individuals became more aware of positive psychology, less people would be inclined to believe psychology is all about mental illness, and possibly be more inclined to become flourishing during a tough time.

Genetic Influences on Adolescent Behavior

Before reading this article, I was well aware that environmental factors influenced adolescents to participate in risky activities such as alcohol and drug use. Peer pressure, wanting to feel grown up, etc. However, I did not know that genetic factors played a key role in the behavior of adolescents as well. I found it interesting that as age increases, common environmental influences have a lesser effect, and genetic influences have a greater effect on adolescents participating in risk taking activities.

What I didn’t understand about the article was that most of the research was done on twins. Why just on twins and not on triplets or only children? However, I do believe the same idea applies. Teen drinking is prominent in most movies or television shows, school, and in many other places. It’s almost impossible to not want to experiment with, especially since it’s glamorized by the media, or even by close friends. This may be why environmental factors tend to have a greater influence on risk taking behavior than genetic influences.

I found this article to be extremely interesting, especially since it made a lot of things make more sense. For instance, I now have a better understanding of why peer pressure and alcohol/drug use was so high in high school and (now) in college. I also have a better comprehension of why some people may act the way they do, whether it be genetic or environmental influences.

“Promoting and Protecting Mental Health as Flourishing” Blog post

Before reading this article I thought I had a pretty solid understanding of mental illness and how it affected our society, but it turns out there are a lot more aspects to it than I thought there were. I knew that only a small percentage of the population was completely mentally healthy or “flourishing”, and I also knew that most of those diagnosed with a mental illness suffer from depression or “MDE”. I’m assuming MDE and generalized depression are synonyms? However, in high school I have witnessed many of my friends go through phases of clinical depression and/or anxiety, including myself. Therefore I was already aware that it was not uncommon to be completely without some type of mental illness.

I somewhat have an idea of the difference between “flourishing” and “languishing”, however, I am still slightly confused on the whole general idea of “languishing”. It appears to have a few different meanings in the article, so therefore I cannot fully comprehend its full definition in this context. However, I found it surprising that many individuals could be suffering from a mental illness but could still be “flourishing” or “languishing”. I also thought that the elimination of mental illness would provoke a generally mentally healthier society before I read the article, but I am now aware that isn’t the case.

I was also aware that those who are generally “flourishing” show up to work more and are more likely to do more things in life because more motivation is present within the minds of those people. I have noticed that in some people I know that are always happy and in a good mood do better in work and/or in school. On the other hand, those that are going through a phase of depression or anxiety may not do as well as those that are free of mental illness. I also wasn’t surprised to see that the more “flourishing” individuals have had more years of education than those who were diagnosed with a mental illness. I feel as if the more education an individual has, the more accomplished and successful that person would feel, which seems like it would lead to less of a chance of that person being diagnosed with a mental illness. I have had a couple friends in my lifetime that were going through phases of depression, but as soon as they felt accomplished in their school work and education they seemed to lighten up and become happier in general.

After reading this article I developed a better and more improved understanding on how mental illness affects our society. Although I still have some questions regarding some terms, I can better comprehend why completely terminating mental illness will not shape a mentally healthier society.