In weeks seven through ten of Science of Happiness we primarily addressed mindfulness, romantic relationships, personality traits/predispositions, and positive psychology interventions. Part of our mindfulness training included three daily surveys administered not only for data collection, but to increase our own individual connection with our emotions and our state of wellbeing throughout the day. This built off of our mindfulness studies done at the beginning of the semester by taking the science and forcing us to incorporate it not only into our academic schedule, but our daily lives.
I found the speaker on romantic relationships incredibly interesting. In my life I already feel that the long term relationship I am in now has been a turning point for me. It has catalyzed and required a whole new level of personal growth. I’ve become more trusting, honest, and optimistic because this wonderful person has given me the motivation and encouragement to. The fact that science backs up this personal phenomenon is truly heartening and gives me faith that no matter what I am better off for having put in the work it takes to become a part of a functional, healthy relationship.
The SURPS assessment ties into the lesson on relationships for me as well. I know that before my relationship started I would have likely been given much higher risk scores and been a less cautious person, but having someone constantly reinforcing my self esteem and who cares a great deal what happens to me has made me care more about myself and what happens to me.
I think that the positive psychology interventions are something I will carry into my daily practices and strive to do more of. As someone who has had depression for most of my adolescent life, I have definitely developed my own tactics for fighting it, one of those being to (if I can) get up and do something that makes me feel happy or productive. Knowing that that is a part of positive psychology will only make me more likely to pursue happy activities at times when I need a little intervention.
Science of Happiness is my first class Monday morning and my last class on Fridays (thank god). It begins and ends my week with the suggestion that I should be happy. This is something I still find mildly confusing. No class has ever asked me to evaluate my own well being in further depth than a teacher asking how my day has gone. As someone who loves taking personality quizzes anyway, I was not surprised that the joy of this class was in the self reflective nature of the assignments and the ease with which I can apply the subject matter to my own life.
The first topic we addressed in class provided a brief history of the drives behind psychology as a field and confronted the way America views happiness. The Keyes Flourishing scale and accompanying article provided a wonderful intro into the field of positive psychology. The biggest and most relevant take away for me was in the multi dimensional approach to flourishing and mental health. I greatly appreciate the notion that someone struggling with a mental illness can still control their own wellbeing and learn to flourish. As someone that has struggled with anxiety and BDD, it is heartening to know that, according to science, my holistic wellbeing is largely in my own hands.
My family on my mother’s side is riddled with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My family on my father’s side tends toward addiction and depression with a few bouts of dementia thrown in the mix. It does not at all surprise me that, much like I have my mother’s hair and my father’s nose, I am a commingling of both flawed and wonderful mental characteristics from each side of my genes (as well as my own unique experiences). I appreciated the lesson on genetics most for the debate between nature and nurture. I, personally, always favor the nurture side of the debate. It seems more optimistic. Because even though the family tree assignment showed that I have a fairly high likelihood of an addictive personality I know that I am not an addict and that I will work very hard my whole life to never be one.
When we discussed depression and anxiety in class however, I found it jarringly relatable. In my hometown, Charlottesville, I had a wonderful therapist I saw each Monday at 4 to help me stay happy and functional, to flourish in the face of hardship. Now, I have Biology each monday at four and no therapist whatsoever. I will eventually get a therapist here in Richmond, but until then what I’ve learned in this class has actually helped me quite a bit. When I get caught in my own head and breathing becomes a struggle, I often do the simple mindfulness exercise where I focus intently on how one thing looks, and sounds, and feels. It brings me back to reality. I think this exercise relates to my greatest strength shown on the VIA survey: appreciation of beauty and excellence. Noticing and appreciating my surroundings allows me to feel grounded and proud of the beauty around me and I would love to learn more about how individual strengths help overcome individual issues and mental problems in this way.
The information about positive psychology as a field was mostly a review for me after having taken psychology and AP Psych in high school, however the application of it to ourselves was something new to me. Though I would like to study abnormal psychology primarily, it seems more and more evident to me that in any field of study positive psych can and should be applied to take into account one’s own strengths and well being and the strengths and well being of others. I will certainly try to apply what I learn in this class to my own happiness for years to come.
The picture I chose is from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170419131801.htm. I liked this picture because the person is holding a mind in their hand and I would like to think this class is teaching me to hold my own mind (well being) in my hands.