A healthy university

This week’s article talked about the importance of crafting a positive education space and community; especially within the college level. Researchers defined positive education as the development of environments that enable the learner to engage in established curricula in addition to knowledge and skills to develop their own and others’ well-being. We’ve been learning all semester about what makes up well-being, but it was interesting that they included the importance of improving learning and generating creative thinking. I think this is a really big area that hasn’t been given enough attention mostly due to the high demand of attaching a student to a test score, and quantitative performances. As the article mentions later, having flow-based activities are important for a good educational and social environment, an area that might improve with implementing more creative thinking. Thinking of the teacher-student relationship, it was refreshing to see suggestions towards more intrinsic motivations, giving choice to students, and using strength-based approaches. These ideas all seem like great changes, but do to the traditional structures of education, I’m weary if they could actually be implemented correctly. The social aspect was interesting as well; I felt that VCU performs very well in this regard, as they have had many inclusive approaches and welcoming student activities around campus. This article also talked about the importance of a good workplace environment for faculty, strong residential life, and connection to the local community. I think that the community aspect is present here at VCU in that students can actively interact with the city, but it’s also easy to never go outside of the campus area. I think as VCU keeps expanding, and other populations native to the city get pushed outwards, some of the uniqueness and authenticity of the larger community could be lost. Overall, I think these are all really good, practical suggestions, but I’m not sure how easily they can be implemented in a large university. I do think however, that VCU has clearly tried to approach aspects of these methods in different environments on campus.

Do you think that suggestions to make the classroom more positive focused can be implemented appropriately?
Where do you think VCU fits within these areas? Or another school you’ve attended?

Relationships big and small

This week’s reading was focusing on the impact relationships have on our wellness. Different studies were conducted to see how interactions with others within the classroom, after class, and in our daily lives impact our perceptions of belonging and overall happiness. Generally people felt a greater sense of happiness and belonging on days when they interacted with more classmates, even if those classmates were all weak ties in relationship strength. I found this very interesting, since in most discussions we think that the best relationship is whichever is the “strongest”. I also found it impactful that classmates that had more interactions within the classroom, had greater feelings of social, emotional well-being, and belonging after class. I also found it insightful that those individuals who were low in extraversion, that had additional weak interactions consistently, still resulted in greater increases in belonging. Later in the study, evidence showed that possibly having interactions from a broad range of network members might be helpful for those who are more classified as introverted. I think this reading has a lot of reliability to our everyday lives and how we view our interactions, from big to small. As someone who is introverted and has always had a close small circle of friends, it was insightful to know that I can be more active in casual, “weak tie” interactions and also receive positive effects all the same.

Do you think that “weak” and “strong” ties matter to our relationships?
What characteristics do you think classify as having a good interactions with someone?

SOH – Sci of Happ 2016-11-06 14:58:19

This week’s reading was based on forgiveness and examining the different intervention strategies that have been successful. In this study they give a definition of forgiveness; the reduction of vengeful and angry thoughts, feelings, and motives that may be accompanied by an increase in some form of positive thoughts, feelings, and motives toward the offending person. I liked that this reading made a clear distinction about forgiveness isn’t forgetting, condoning, or excusing the wrongdoing that has been done. I think that this is an area of misunderstanding that is often associated with the action of forgiving and often leads people to hold grudges and not be open to process. It was also interesting to read that the severity of the offense was an indicator in the advantage of treatment as well as the most beneficial treatment type. It seemed to conclude that individual therapy could possibly lead to better outcomes for those who have had severe conflicts with an offender. This report also found that the Enright model was a common method of treatment, but that the overall method doesn’t have much significance in the success of the patient. However, using theoretically grounded forgiveness interventions can be a sound choice for helping clients to deal with past offenses and reaching solutions. I also found it very interesting that interventions were found to help clients in their overall mental health, and specific issues such as depression, anxiety, and increases in hopefulness. Overall, I think that this journal was helpful in furthering my understanding of forgiveness.

Why do you think it’s so difficult to take the steps to start to forgive?
Do you believe that time is a factor in the process of forgiveness?

College Character

This week’s reading was examining character traits that college aged adults hold as important to themselves or they believe they express in their daily life. It was interesting to read that this study was being applied to college age students and their values compared to the general educated population. After conducting this study, researchers found that college students do have a series of traits they hold important, mostly, humor, love, kindness, integrity, and social intelligence. Students least endorsed modesty/humility, self-regulation, spirituality, love of learning, and prudence. When examining these character traits I feel like the data does make a lot of sense within the college atmosphere framework. We are peer pressured often towards the partying and heavy social networks that promote lack of responsibility at times. I thought it was odd that modesty and love of learning were least endorsed because those traits seem to still be important in terms of social relationships in college and one’s attitude towards learning, our main focus while here. I also thought it was interesting that stereotypes of gender and ethnicity seemed to hold true in the character traits they picked. The idea of other races being more spiritual or women innately being more nurturing is an interesting concept. Lastly, it was fascinating to read that women who answered leadership as being important than males. The study states that the leadership questions led more towards traits of kindness, fairness and group happiness. Overall, I feel like this study was one of the most interesting readings we’ve had and brought out a good discussion about college students. Do you think that you hold the same traits as importantly as the study found? Is there other traits that should have been included?

Substance Abuse

This week we read a report by Conrod et al explaining the complexity and interconnections of substance Abuse, focusing on the predisposition as well as influences in our brains. Taking different classes in psychology, it was always interesting to learn about substance abuse and try and figure out the ways it can actually affect our brains. A very common generality I feel that exists is the idea that drug use can’t really alter our brain structure all that much, which is in fact wrong. I thought this report was really detailed and informative about all the actual chemical and physiological ways that drugs affect us. Whether we only occasionally use or have an actual addiction, it’s important to know the facts. As many of us know, external, environmental, personality, and biological factors all come into play in our risk factors. I liked how this study went into detail on different personality traits like sensation seeking, and impulsivity. I also thought it was interesting to see the chart that connected personality factors with the brain structural components as well as possible disorders that can arise. I was surprised to read that psychosis risk was mentioned and discussed using studies with it’s connection to cannabis use. I actually know someone who went through a situation much like that affect and never thought that it had been studied and shows a trend. I also found it interesting that those reported as heavy drinkers and nicotine users actually had increased basal cortisol levels, especially since those are drugs many turn to in order to give them stress relief and a calming affect. Overall, it seems that there are so many factors involved in this discussion and it’s important to be well versed in them to understand yourself and others. Is there any personality traits that this report seemed to have left out? Do you believe that SUD is an interplay of factors or do you think one sole factor has more weight?

How relationships influence our future

Reading this report further summed up the ideas I had about developmental psychology and how they relate to our relationships. To me, the findings in this study make a lot of sense, and the idea that our past relationships and connections influence our future ones is a principle of developmental psychology. In this study, they bring up the idea of “Organizational-developmental perspective”; the idea that with each major change we go through from infancy to adulthood, we have key influences in our functioning and views of relationships. It was interesting to see them focus on time periods from toddler age, middle school, adolescence, to adulthood. We all know the phrase “emotional baggage” and it was interesting to see them connect this with how it can affect our understanding of our partners, reaction emotions, self-confidence, and problem-solving techniques. It was also interesting to read that secure individuals reacted better to instructional care whereas insecure individuals were more perceptive to instructional care. My only problem with this study, is that I feel like we are likely to recall our social situations with extremes, either positively or negatively. Do you believe that this “carry forward process” had a significant effect on your own life and relationships? Do you believe you look back at your caregiving and social supports in the past without bias? Can you reflect and connect behaviors you have now that may connect to your relationships in the past?

Mindfulness & workplace

AS a class at this point in the semester, we know Mindfulness and generally the benefits it carries. However, this article by Professor Good and others specifically focuses on how mindfulness affects our outlook and our workplace environment. I thought this paper did a really good job of breaking down the affects of mindfulness on our attention, cognition, Emotions, behavior, and Physiology. These areas are really the basis for why our environment, like the workplace is altered by this practice. I knew a bit about how mindfulness influenced our physiology and emotional regulation, but it was really interesting to read that those that were “practitioners” had brain changes that were so distinct they could be identified by brain scans! It was also really fascinating to read about how this practice can lead us to making better behavior choices, and reeling in our emotions and how we process criticism and negative emotions. I didn’t know that mindfulness practice could have such an impact on our attention as well, in areas of stability, control and efficiency. Thinking about the workplace, it makes sense how important our attention is to how efficient and aware we are when making decisions. This study also focused on how mindfulness influences our performance, relationships, and well-being in the workplace. It’s really important how mindfulness impacts how empathy, awareness, attitudes towards criticism, and how we view our jobs etc. Thinking about how mindfulness influences our workplaces, do you think it would have the same effect in school settings? Should mindfulness practices be a part of our daily routines like in schools? Mindfulness stress the importance of staying in the moment, however with work and school, we often have to be thinking about the next assignment..how can we use this mindfulness practice when we always have to look to the future?

Fredrickson- positive emotions

Going into this week, we were instructed to read an article about positive emotions and the effect they have on our physiological health and overall outlook. In different psychology classes I’ve taken, emotions have always been an area I’ve wanted to learn more and more about. It was helpful to be refreshed in this article about the differences between an emotion and an affect. I feel like we often have misunderstandings of emotions because we label them as such when in actuality they are more fleeting affects. This article has an interesting approach to looking at emotions through the broaden and build theory. The idea that by having a positive emotional state, we therefore physiologically are able to “expand” our cognitive abilities and our awareness in the moment. On a more general level, I feel like this theory makes a lot of sense. If we are in a negative mindset and framework, we often have a very “tunnel vision” way of viewing the current situation and opening ourselves up to other viewpoints. I think when we experience positive emotions are are more in tune with our senses, and really observing and evaluating the situation because it is giving us joy. It’s interesting how Fredrickson related this approach to our basic survival techniques as well. In addition, it was interesting to read about the idea of an “undoing hypothesis”; the idea that countering the negative emotions with positive techniques and thoughts could bounce back our states and mindsets. Do you think this “undoing hypothesis” is an affective method for those with negative emotions? Do you find yourself at battle with knowing your feelings of affect or emotion? What are some positive techniques you use when talking to yourself or overcoming a situation?

Healthy Habits

This week we read a study conducted about the effect healthy habits have on college students success in school. I found this study really interesting and very applicable to every day. In general, I feel like I live a pretty healthy lifestyle and I normally strive to be responsible in my eating habits, time management, and exercise. I had always been lectured that eating breakfast was important to your later eating habits in the day, but was surprised to read that it had such an impact on your learning as well. The fact that eating breakfast was found to improve immediate recall and spatial memory among university students was really interesting. For myself, I try to eat a large breakfast and use my planner to organize, like the study states, but I lack in my sleeping habits. As the study finds, sleep seemed to have the largest impact on a student. It was interesting to see that for each hour of delay in weekend wake-up times corresponded to a drop in GPA as well as delaying one’s bedtime. It was interesting to read that not taking your bedtime seriously can lead to diminishing ability to recall complex material learned in class. I think this study has given me a strong wake up call that I need to take my sleeping patterns a lot more seriously. I know that these practices can be difficult when college promotes a late night lifestyle, what do other students think about these practices? Do you think that this study should give resources on how to promote better sleep while being in college? What is the hardest aspect of health you find to keep up in college?

Silver linings & depression

Before reading this article, I had prior knowledge about depression from my psychology classes and from first hand experience of the illness affecting family and friends. In my abnormal psych class we learned a lot about depressive disorder and the symptoms that can be presented. It was interesting to read this article and learn about current research being done, and possible reasons as to why we see a steadily increase in our society. Depression can affect people from all backgrounds and socio-economic statuses, but the theory of “affluenza” was interesting to me. The idea of our society being so materialistic while having such large economic inequality seems to led to why we would constantly be degrading ourselves and feeling hopeless in our goals. The increased stressors of city life, and disconnection to traditional values and inclusion also seem to lead to why depressive feelings continue to occur. It was interesting to read about the physiological components that would possibly make someone more depressed and the therapy methods working to fight this. Cognitive behavioral therapy, drugs, and treatments like TMS all seem to be helping in various degrees and combinations. For the class, I would like to know what are others opinions on therapies like TMS and ECT? Do you think that the materialistic theory is true for our society? Should our society and media world be accountable for creating a healthier capitalist view to us as citizens?

Positive Psychology

Prior to reading this article, I felt like I knew little bits here and there about the world of positive psychology and what is studied. Once reading this article, I feel like I have a better understanding of what is actually studied and the science behind the field. It was interesting to read an article published in 2000 and see how young the field actually is. It makes sense that happiness has similar traits such as optimism, satisfaction of the past, and components like flow. I think the theory that how individuals view what’s happened to them in the past is a strong indicator of their level of happiness is interesting and crucial as well. Ideas of self-determination are also big parts in how we carry out our daily lives. Without autonomy, competence, and belongingness we can often feel incomplete. Lastly, it was interesting to read about the idea of how our negative emotions are more urgent and require more of our immediate attention and energy, whereas our positive thoughts and moments just kind of pass us by quickly. Questions I would have for the class would be do you believe in the idea that we have to give more attention to our negative thoughts and moments? Do you believe that the components of self-determination are all needed to reach a full potential of happiness? Can they be slightly altered? Different for each person?

Genetic influence on Adolescence

Prior to reading this article, I had known a fair amount about the idea of nature vs. nurture and the influence genes as well as environment has. As stated in this piece, it makes since that adolescence and gene interaction is a careful and dynamic process. In some of my previous classes we had used scientific research and many different studies like twin studies to show how complex the interaction actually is. I had grown to have a belief that the interaction is complex but as long as you put yourself in a thriving and positive environment with support systems and healthy connections negative predispose influences would be at bay. I was surprised when reading that in many cases of alcohol and even drug use, genetic factors become more important. It was interesting to read that dabbling in behaviors in younger adolescents like smoking marijuana didn’t have that strong of an effect on predispose factors until adulthood when consistent use and environmental factors didn’t have as much influence anymore. I’d be interested in seeing more studies on this idea. What do other students feel about the idea of the gene environment interaction? Do you still feel like one has a stronger influence? What steps could possibly be taken with this knowledge to prevent dependency problems in adolescence and adulthood?

Keyes Article #2

Before reading the Keyes article on mental health, I felt like I had a pretty strong understanding of the importance of the subject and from taking different courses, felt like I had a general understanding of the complications the topic sheds light to. However, after reading this article my original view was slightly altered, and I had a lot more questions and thoughts about what we think of when talking about mental health. In my mind, mental illness and mental health were clearly connected, but I had more concrete conceptions of the words. Mental health to me means the level of wellness and clarity oneself feels psychologically. Mental illness was the immense lacking of this wellness component, and therefore creates a disorder or illness. After reading this article, I realize that my thinking is probably too black and white, and that in reality these words are much more interconnected and in a more gray area. Keyes brings awareness to this thinking when he states that “the absence of mental illness is the presence of mental health.” I think this is a very common way for a lot of society to few mental health and what it means to be either flourishing or languishing as Keyes describes.
The more I read the article, and saw the concept laid out in context the more the complexity made since. In reality, no one is one hundred percent one thing or another, and especially with our health which is always changing, we can’t generalize everything we are feeling to one exact aspect. I’ve happened to know people in my life who’ve gone through periods of depression or extreme anxiety. Some have had more debilitating experiences and would fall under the single languishing context. Yet others have been able to continuously show energy and strong aspects of wellness in areas of school etc but still work to fight the mental illness at the same time.
I think that the Keyes article highlights some of the important areas of discussion that need to continue in the mental health field, but I would maybe hope that the exact ways he discusses the concepts of languishing and flourishing while coping with an extreme mental illness could be explained a little bit more. The concept of flourishing while being extremely mentally ill seems a little bit contradicting in practice. Possibly other students could uncover the ideas more clearly.