Final Post

 

I think that most things we learned can be tied back to two topics, the Keyes flourishing scale and the Broaden and Build Theory. The Broaden and Build theory asserts that the positive emotions and habits cultivated when things are good can then be used when things are bad, resulting in positive coping mechanisms, which help mitigate the effect of the negative situation. Positive psychology interventions are ways to practice and develop these skills. Interpersonal relationships provide the kind of support that helps when dealing with difficult times.  Risk factors for addiction and genetic and environmental influences on other aspects of mental health place you on a certain side of the Keyes’ Flourishing Scale, your position on which can then be changed based on the decisions you’re making. The 50%, 40% 10% statistic also encapsulated a lot of the findings different professors presented.

I am personally focusing on practicing good habits, kind of in the same way you would work out for your mental health. I am trying to practice mindfulness more often (I do so when walking to class), and try and actively take not when something good is happening. One of the things I’ve noticed after taking this class is how much happiness I have in my life I haven’t really experienced because I haven’t noticed it. I’m also trying to pay more attention to when I am in my zone/experiencing flow. I’ve been sharing my insights via Twitter but honestly I think just talking to people about Positive Psychology is a better way to get the word out. I got to give a talk to Active Minds this semester, and being able to share what we’ve been learning was very empowering.

 

One of the more recent connections I’ve made from class is the potential of taking a positive psychology approach to religion. I can’t speak for anyone else’s, of course, but mine kind of maps out a way of life. Focusing on everything I should be doing and am unable to can be very overwhelming, somewhat similar to focusing on what is “wrong” with you with mental health. Instead, I’ve been trying to focus on what I am naturally good at, and taking the things I am not so good at as strengths I can work on. One of the findings presented in class that I found particularly interesting is that people reported satisfaction by working on their top five or bottom five strengths, so I am hopeful that this mindset will help me feel better about where I am in terms of practicing faith, but really I think it could be applied to any way of life.

The picture below summarizes what I’ve learned in this class. That 40% has been so empowering to discuss, and the picture below reminds me that no matter where we start, we can all move towards flourishing.

 

Muneera really loves her friends ok

We started off this second unit with romantic relationships, which was a perfect because it was Valentine’s Day week. According to Dr. Salvatore’s research, good, healthy relationships are a good indicator of happiness, and the functioning of these relationships is effected by previous ones through either socialization (how you’ve been treated) or social modeling (how you’ve seen others be treated).

In all honesty, I found the lecture itself a little bit alienating, because I felt the lecture operated on a more western ideology of love (which is totally fine, because we are in the West). I just didn’t quite relate and it made me a little nervous that she said the relationships we are in now dictate the ones we’ll have later, mostly because I have not and won’t be in one in the foreseeable future. We also discussed how romantic relationships can play a role in positive development, which made me worry I am missing out on something. Looking back at the reading and powerpoint, however, it seems like all close relationships are indicators of happiness and can influence later ones, and that we just focused on the romantic ones. It makes sense that, as according to the socialization perspective, if you’re treated well, you can treat others well in romantic relationships.

One of the things that Dr. Salvatore touched on is that being in a positive romantic relationship with someone who thinks highly of you helps you think more highly of yourself. According to the Build and Broaden theory Dr. Neale talked about, experiencing positive emotions like these open you up to more choices/resources in responding to situations. Positive emotions lead to broadened thinking when negative things do happen, and allow you to take advantage of resources to cope better. Like Dr. Salvatore said, positive relationships increase positive emotions, and social intelligence allows you to work on relationships through things like active listening. One of the positive experiences positive emotions might open you up to is self care. Yoga has all sorts of physical and emotional benefits. My positive experiences with this class thus far have definitely opened me up to trying this method of self care. The positive benefits of yoga correlate with the findings in Eat, Move, Sleep. I was in the sleep group, and there was a general consensus that as students we don’t get enough of it.

I think a part of the emotional and social intelligence discussed by Dr. Salvatore and Dr. Neale is knowing yourself and how you deal with things. Dr. Vassileva. I learned that although I am not very impulsive, I am fairly high on all of the other personality traits we discussed, and so knowing that information can help me assess my emotions as rooted in fact or as a part of my tendencies.

As for overall changes, I have definitely tried to apply the Build and Broaden theory to my life. I do find that positivity allows me to respond to potentially negative situations in my life with less stress. I’ve also been working on my active listening skills — apparently they have been improving! The image I chose (in order to continue my theme of bad memes) reminded me of the importance of active listening and the impact of positive relationships. Sometimes I feel like I am as boring as eating apples so I am super grateful for everyone in my life who puts up with it. Even though we aren’t usually watching friends eat apples, it is really so unbelievably easy to make someone feel valued and respected, and this comic reminds me to do so.

This comic is by Brett Brimmer of supermegacomics.com

Blog Post 1 – Let’s Flourish!

 

 

 

blog post one: muneera vs the void 

Although I’ve taken many classes throughout my college career, this first month in the Science of Happiness has taken me by surprise. For one, I actually retain information, most likely because I have to apply it. This certainly is not to say that I don’t apply knowledge from my other classes (Physiology taught me a lot about hormones, and as a chemistry major I am applying chemistry concepts every day), but I’ve always had to go back and put in hours studying before I ever felt capable enough with a concept to be able to begin to integrate it into my life. I credit a large part of this to the weekly discussions, as well as they social media posts. The discussions give me some practice ironing out new ideas which I can then go on to talk about when a friend asks me about a social media post. It’s a cool way of learning, one that definitely requires you to stay current with information, which, in turn, I think ups the chances of actually applying what I learn. I think I’ve heard myself say negativity bias a hundred times these past few weeks, but in talking about it to others, I am able to remember it myself when my thoughts are taking a negative turn.

Of the topics we have covered, I think Keyes Flourishing Scale has stuck with me the most. Before our class discussion, I thought the scale was a little silly – it seemed intuitive to me that I were to select S every day, I probably would not be shining example of mental health. The true value in the assignment, and thus the scale, came to me after I was able to understand the nuances in the theory. It’s not so much about where you test to be, it’s about where you can go from there. The scale is not homogenizing the results people with mental health disorders with people without them (because there are inherently different challenges between the two groups). It is not a jail sentence for those with mental health issues, and it does not diminish the struggles of those without them, as both groups of people can be categorized in and move between languishing, flourishing, and moderately mentally healthy.

About 50% of the reason a person may have a mental illness (and thus be put on that side of the flourishing scale) is due to genetics. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are different than mood states of being depressed, or being anxious, in regard to their length and severity. Similarly, about 50% of what causes a person to be happy can be attributed to genetics. Ten percent can be attributed to circumstance, and the other 40% has to do with choices that we as people make. While I found this to be particularly empowering, I didn’t know exactly what kind of positive choices a person could make.

Positive psychology interventions are one of the ways a person can work on moving themselves to the flourishing category. While I do see the value in all of them, to be completely honest, I was somewhat skeptical of the ability of some of these interventions to work for me personally. I’ve never been much of a yoga person, and meditation does not come easily to me That being said, the data-based presentation of these methods has definitely convinced me to try them out. I am trying to be more mindful, and a fellow classmate and I are going to put gratitude notes and anonymous acts of kindness into action this week, and am excited to see how it goes. Earlier in the semester I had my coworkers do the 3 Good Things assignment with me, upon which one of them replied “that really did make me feel happy!” If the assignment itself did not help that week, hearing that certainly did, which I suspect is rooted in the philanthropic aspect of positive psychology.

One thing we learned that helped abate my skepticism of some of the PPIs was that it is not so much the action itself but rather how it forces you to change your perspective on life. It’s not like I’m going to close my eyes to meditate, open them and have everything be better, it’s that the moments of reflection help me take a step back and see my reality in a better way.  This shift in perspective is why I chose the image that I did. Although it is a little silly, it’s something I have saved on my phone to help me remember the personal responsibility and ability we have to move towards flourishing. Plus, bunnies are really cute.

 

Image Link: https://twitter.com/lilghosthands/status/704475301481287680