Blog Post 3

Blog Post 3

I can’t believe that we have reached the end of this semester. So much has happened in my life in just this year, let alone my last 5 years here at VCU. I am so happy to be graduating on May 12, 2018. My undergraduate journey has been long and challenging but from this course I have learned so much about myself and ways to create a better version of me. The image above best represents what I’ve learned this semester. In the midst of so much overwhelming negativity that would normally affect me immensely, I was able to overcome it and see a brighter day ahead with the help of this course. Looking too far in the future can create anxiety and dwelling on the past doesn’t help one to move forward. Taking the time to be in the moment allowed me to realize that you have to truly take one day at a time. As a soon to be graduate, I feel like I have all the tools I need to move into the next chapter of my life. The major lessons I learned this semester were definitely about forgiveness, having positive thoughts, how to manage stress and ways to improve my well-being.

The first thing that this course allowed me to realize and implement into my life was to have positive thoughts. I didn’t make the correlation between thoughts, emotions, actions and behaviors until we discussed this cycle in class. I always knew I was a positive person but upon reflection I noticed that I can complain and be pessimistic at times. My family has told me this before but I didn’t want to believe it fully. Understanding that this was an aspect of me that wasn’t the best, I became determined to work on my road rage and a better way to control and express my emotions. To this day, I can definitely say that my road rage has decreased for the better. Although I sometimes get a little anxious to get to my destination, I take a mindful moment as a way to remind myself that my road rage is hurting nobody but myself. The driver that cuts me off or is driving slowly in front of me doesn’t have to been seen as an obstacle or someone in my way. When I drive now I take my time and maneuver behind the wheel like the experienced driver I know I am instead of using my skills as a way to create dangerous and unnecessary situations. As far as controlling my emotions I have done a better job. My mom has been trying to get me to understand that I am the master of my peace as the only individual who can control my own emotions. Her wisdom mixed with our discussion on positive psychology has allowed me to take better care of my feelings. In both circumstances, once I realized that control comes from within, I began to think and act in a matter that was more beneficial to me, which started with being more positive. I have seen a major change in my life from this, I am able to better navigate through situations that life brings daily. I feel much happier in my life because of this realization and change. Everyone deserves to genuinely be happy and that comes from within.

Another topic that I learned a lot from includes our discussion on forgiveness. This concept has never been easy for me and I’ve struggled with it from such a young age. Living in a household with separated parents that later got divorced was difficult. What made it even worse was the fact that my mom was stationed to Germany and my dad was living in South Carolina. Upon choosing to move to Germany with my mom, she found interest in my now stepdad who I saw as an intruder in my family. On a daily basis I reminded him that he wasn’t my dad and made sure to let him know that I didn’t like him.  As I reflect on this time in my life, I can recall the hurt I felt from being 9 hours by plane from my father. The first few months, I cried every night from this pain which didn’t allow me to accept my stepdad for a long time. After many years of hardships and time together, I have finally forgiven him in my adulthood as I am able to tell someone who I used to tell I hated, that I love him genuinely as a father figure. This allows me to know that forgiveness as well as happiness comes from within. Being able to better express my emotions, I don’t let them get the best of me and I can now fully articulate how I feel which was something that I wasn’t able to do as a child growing up. To take advice from what we discussed in class, I’m actually writing my three parents gratitude letters to thank them so much for all their support throughout my collegiate career. I know that my stepdad will be especially surprising understanding how far we have come in our relationship. This course helped me learn how to use positive emotion to cope with negative ones. The idea of using your strengths to improve your weakness has stuck with me since we talked about this concept in class. I was happy that my final project mates wanted to talk about forgiveness. I learned from our participants that family can have an effect on your interpretation which is truly evident for me. Understanding that forgiveness is for yourself and not the other person stuck with me from the responses as well. This allowed me to realize that any change is going to start with myself. As something that I am continuing to work on in my friendships and past relationship, I feel confident that I can become a more forgiving person.

Ways to manage stress and improve my well-being are topics that I learned from as well. There are a lot of circumstances that can create stress in our lives but using proper ways to deal with it is so important. I love how positive my social media looks with all the weekly posts so I intended to continue to post uplifting messages on my profile. From the responses and likes that I have received on these posts, it lets me know that I’m doing my part on a platform that creates stress from usage. I hope that this continuation will allow my followers to think twice about what they post and maybe encourage them to do the same with their posts. Being more positive is a great start but taking time to exercise your mind with positive breaks is just as vital. Doing yoga at Cary Street was such as great stress relieving exercise for me. I would have never known how peaceful it was so I’m glad I was able to experience this with my classmates. Now that finals are over, I will be making this activity one that I participate in when I’m feeling stressed. Learning about mindfulness made a major impact on my life and how I deal with stress as well. When we had a mindful moment with Dr. Reina I was in such a calm state. I wasn’t worried about what I needed to do after class, that night or by the end of the week for that matter. I was able to be present in the moment which I usually never take the time to do. Today, when I feel that my brain needs a mental break, I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. I have even given this advice to my friends during these last few weeks of classes with assignments and finals. In order to improve my well-being, I have made myself more aware of my social networks. As a sociable person I didn’t think that my social well-being was at stake until realizing that this relates to my view of the world and the city of Richmond. When I was working as an Orientation Leader and a UTA, my social well-being was at it’s highest. I was able to see that I was making a difference in the world instead of just being in it. I realized that I have a lot to say but don’t do much to incite change which is nothing without action. Now that I have made it through my last semester as an undergraduate, I plan to volunteer more often and make changes in my community that I would typically just complain about.

Overall, this course has helped me create a better version of myself. I am so proud of my improvement and am excited to continue to grow as I move further into adulthood. Having science to back up the topics we learned made it easier to believe that what was being said can actually have an effect on one’s life. As a science major who has taken biology, environmental and social courses, I aspire to use my knowledge that I have obtained from VCU to make the world a better place.

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Blog Post 2

Blog Post 2

When discussing emotional resilience in a digital age in week 7, I reflected on the time that I deleted my previous Instagram account. The concept of one’s front stage vs. back stage always comes to mind. As someone who cherishes genuine personalities, I didn’t like the way in which individuals on my Instagram network decided to present themselves on this platform.  Especially since this was a time in my life where people who I thought were my friends ending up using me. In addition to the rocky relationship that I had growing up with my stepdad, these experiences with others in 2016 and 2018 makes reaching forgiveness hard for me today. From week 5’s discussion of forgiveness, I was able to obtain the skills needed to work towards being a happier individual with improved mental health. Wanting to become a more positive person, I critiqued my profile as well and looked to my own posts. I realized that I didn’t want to represent myself only through photos when I’m best dressed, I wanted a more encouraging approach to my social media experience next time around.

I also wanted to take a mental break from all the stressors that come with being a part of the social media world. Seeing the running list of daily stressors versus the stresses of social media only during the presentation made me proud of my choice to delete my old account. In light of this decision to disconnect, I reconnected in a more optimistic way when I decided to make an account for my graduation countdown as well as use this same account to spread the information we learned in class through my weekly social media posts. My followers actually like and comment on my posts so I’m happy to see the effects of spreading positivity, something that I am attempting to do in my own life currently. In week 6, when talking about mindfulness, I thought more deeply about ways to apply this practice to other aspects of my life as I focus on what’s most important in the current moment. By making a new Instagram account, I wanted to make myself aware of my academic state throughout the semester as a way to stay focused on my goal of graduating every time I went on my social media. This has truly helped me keep a clearer perspective on the progression needed to reach this milestone.  I look at my profile with a smile knowing that the amount of likes that I receive doesn’t matter anymore because what I’m posting is beneficial information that I needed to share with others. If social media operated in this way, I believe that bullying and suicide rates from cyber bullying could decrease as we all work to improve each other’s knowledge and well-being. However, in today’s digital world, a lot of judging goes on in the comment boxes as well as jokes that are circulated daily to see who can come up with the best punchline. It is disappointing how far people will go for online status.

After my car accident back in February, my transition to becoming a more patient driver is evident. Although I have moments where I feel my rage coming and I may say something aloud, I ultimately come back to my calm state after a brief moment of reflection. I believe that this accident was put in my life to reinforce the idea that negative thoughts can lead to consequences. To actually think twice about my behavior by regulating my thoughts when driving has allowed me to make the improvement that I have made so far. In week 9, we talked about how personality traits can affect substance abuse. As college students, rational decision making is a big part of our academic success. The Substance Use Risk Profile scale, SURPS, was used to assess our risk factor. In comparison to the class average, my level of sensation seeking was lower. When I think about my personality traits I automatically think about my mom because we are so similar. Growing up, she always told me to be a leader and not a follower. I still live by this today which has allowed me to have enough self-control to make better choices than those who choose to otherwise. Rational decision making through one’s own choice provides a better option then the risk associated with group peer pressure to seek an experience. In reference to substance abuse, I know that the social, legal and financial risks that come with usage aren’t worth it which makes sense that my sensation seeking is low on the SURPS. I am thankful that my parents in general have instilled good values and morals in me because not everyone has such positive role models.

In these first 10 weeks I have learned a lot about how to live a more fulfilling life. In weeks 1-6 I got a better understanding of my mental health and factors that affect it. Weeks 7-10 allowed me to obtain knowledge on aspects that can affect my academic success as a student such as media, personality traits and social-emotional learning. Three areas of my life that I am improving based on class discussion is my understanding of forgiveness, having a more positive attitude and being mindful more often. I have definitely experienced the benefits positivity in my life thus far. It makes dealing with life situations easier when you see the brighter side of things instead of complaining about them. I’m still working on my understanding of forgiveness but I am glad that I am able to say out loud that I have a problem with forgiving those who have hurt me. Being more mindful has allowed me to feel less stressed and more relaxed which is great for a college student. The image that I selected represents growth in progress which is what I am truly getting out of this class. Reflection on material has given me the insight and tools to create a better version of myself and I can feel my change from within. Growth requires the help of others, as shown in the image, to provide a different perspective which each and every presenter from class has done for me. Change has allowed me to live a more fulfilling life. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that my progress is having a beneficial impact on my well-being.

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Blog Post 1

Blog Post 1

In the first few weeks of this course, I learned a lot about how my thoughts affect my behavior and mental capacity. Keyes’ model of complete mental health/flourishing provided me with a greater understanding of the mental health spectrum. Our society portrays mental health as either good or bad without any grey areas; you are either in a mental asylum or among the rest of the world. Understanding that I am moderately mentally healthy allows me to know that I have room for improvement in my life. With only 1/5 of the nation’s population in a state of flourishing, we all could stand to improve our mental health. What’s most interesting to me about our society is that we aspire to be mentally healthy but don’t directly promote it. This backwards thinking is what keeps us from becoming a better United States which is quite sad because we have so much potential. Instead of waiting to react as we usually do, in the form of prevention and rehabilitation, we must make sure that everyone has access to the proper resources in order to reach a state of flourishing. We may always need hospitals because people will always be sick, but if we change the face of mental health in our society, the number of individuals in the hospital can decrease as we all live better lives.

When the article went into the demographics of mental health, I was not surprised by the results. It stated that black individuals should be more likely than white individuals to have complete mental health. As a black woman, I have to constantly avoid the trap of the stereotype placed on my race which takes a lot of mental strength and stability. In black culture, this concept is a huge part of our upbringing. Understanding that as a black individual, there is no room for insanity or mental breakdown/outburst, I always maintain myself when in circumstances that push my buttons. However, I never noticed how automatic my negative thoughts are until our class discussion and weekly exercise. This truly helped me realize that my “genetic road rage” wasn’t as genetic as I believed. Growing up I would see my dad use profanity while driving and I didn’t really understand why. When I started driving, I acted in this same manner. My road rage was so extreme that I would get out of my car to fuss at others, cut people off a little too close and put myself in dangerous situations. None of these behaviors were beneficial and once realizing that it was a choice to drive and behave in such a way, I began to change my habits. It was much easier to drive more safely than to get upset by other’s inability to drive. Taking better control of my thoughts has allowed me to keep my behavior in check more consistently.

Having a positive attitude really makes a difference as well. The Well-being Theory that we discussed known as P.E.R.M.A made this clearer to me; P- Positive emotion helps alleviate issues that come with negative emotions. I do notice that when I’m in a positive mood, it seems effortless to display this feeling. But when I’m in a negative mood it takes a lot more energy to upkeep this emotion so why not be happy by thinking more positive thoughts? According to the VIA Strength Survey, creativity and perspective were my top two characteristics. I agree with these results knowing that I have lived a diverse lifestyle which has allowed me to relate to others naturally in conversation. Being socially diverse, takes a certain level of patience and understanding. This strength can help me regulate my negative thoughts by being more patient internally so that my behavior is not disrupted. Overall, these topics provided with me knowledge about ways to maximize one’s own well-being.

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