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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Final SOH Blog Post (#3)

Final SOH Blog Post (#3)

The most important lesson that I will take away from this class is that you are your own best advocate. I am not someone who has severely suffered from mental health or substance abuse, but I have definitely had my ups and downs with both. This class has helped me to put my experience into perspective and understand the nature of these ‘situations’ (for lack of a better word). For example, it was really enlightening to come to learn that personality types are a strong baseline for substance abuse. It was very interesting to learn how the brain’s neurochemistry can get “hooked” on a substance; I think this knowledge kind of knowledge is fundamental if we hope to combat the ongoing drug epidemic. There’s a sort of positive feedback loop: the substance disinhibits your self-control and you’re more likely to continue using.

Mindfulness was another topic that I found extremely helpful. I was familiar with the concepts of mindfulness, flow, and meditation but I did not realize that there was scientific evidence to support these as a avenue to happiness. I will definitely start getting into a routine of meditating and yoga. For one of my two events outside-of-class I choose to go to another yoga session (in part because I accidentally wore jeans the first time – oops!). I used practice yoga regularly and it was really nice to get into it again because it’s largely a mental experience/escape. Exercise falls into the same category, really. One of the lecturers said that exercising was like taking an “anti-depression” medication – and that resonated with me.

Social-emotional learning was a topic I found really interesting from a sociological perspective. One lecturer stated that impulse control would be a primary concern of the 21st century. It’s frightening to think that today’s youth spend the vast majority with digital entertainment to such an extent that they lose the ability to navigate through society. Another tremendous take-away from this class is knowing when to disengage from the media. I caught myself spending an alarming amount of time scrolling though memes that were utterly meaningless (many of them are). This ties back to being your own best advocate – you have to be introspective and notice how something (ie media) is making you feel – mindfulness! Only once you identify the cause of a problem can you address how to enact change!

Insights from this class will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life. The changes that I’ve already started to make are – for the most part – improvements in areas that I was already pretty OK in. For example, I was already good about not being absorbed in my phone when I’m around other people, but now I’m even more cognisant of it. I need to adopt a healthier diet; I’ve dabbled in veganism over the years, and I’m realizing that it’s something I want to work towards again. I think graduating college may be a kind of coming-of-age story for me (and likely for many of my classmates as well). There’s a saying, “it’s not alcoholism until you graduate.” I expect that post-graduation life will be a lot less stressful (I’ve taken a job that isn’t very rigorous). I look forward to having a healthier diet and overall lifestyle after graduation. Reasons for this are focused around longevity and living a healthy life.

I think I will create some sort of board or pictogram to keep track of adhering to lifestyle changes. Otherwise, I’ve found that it’s easy to slip back into old habits. Another thing that will be difficult but rewarding is to cut toxic people out of my life. After I graduate I am moving to a new [very small] town where I know no one; I think it will behoove me to be rid of some of my former associates.

I probably will not share many of my insights from this class on social media. For starters, I don’t like to share personal things online. But I also find that people are reluctant to listen. Again – you’re your own best advocate. People who aren’t ready to make changes for themselves don’t like to hear other’s raving about their positive experiences. I have changed some of the content I share – For example, I recently discovered/shared from the ‘Wholesome Memes’ facebook page.

However, I will definitely share insights from this class with my friends in-person or in private messages. Sometimes when I have told a friend about this class they are immediately intrigued, “Teach me how to be happy.” It’s really common for people to feel down at times. I’m very glad I took this class because it had armed me with a defense against misery, and I will be able to spread this among my friends and acquaintances. It was amazing to learn that you are 15% more likely to be happy if you have friends that are happy. This has profound consequences! Not only is it a reason to cut unhappy/negative people out of your life immediately. But it’s also a great reason to be happy yourself! I think one of the very best ways to share insights from this class is to practice them yourself and let others catch on.

~Good vibrations~

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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SOH: Blog Post #3

SOH: Blog Post #3

SOH Blog Post #3

Campbell Weis

I couldn’t more grateful for the experiences and life lessons this class  has taught me. Lessons such as self-care and self-love, but also about becoming more aware of my surroundings, and my own mentality. I really enjoyed the person touch this class showed me, learning about topics that are relatable and gathering more knowledge on how to incorporate those lessons into my lifestyle.

I would have to narrow down my two favorite lectures to be forgiveness and self-care. I feel like students sometimes forget to put themselves first with being distracted by a heavy course load, therefore they end up neglecting the one working machine that keeps them alive everyday. Secondly, the lecture on forgiveness  made a very big impact on me, and left me with a better perspective when it comes to forgiving and forgetting. It helped me understand that by letting a minuscule problem go, you end up bettering yourself, as well as decreasing the stress that is built up from being upset with someone. I really hope in the future, whether I’ll be traveling or settled into a more professionally structured atmosphere that I will remember to incorporate self-care into my daily routine. I will make time specifically during the day to mentally check in with myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve started yoga on my own in the mornings and at night as a way to bring a feeling of peace to my hectic schedule. This is an activity I plan on keeping very consistent in my life in order to keep me on a more positive and uplifting track.

Throughout the wonderful time I’ve spent in this class, I want to do as much as I can to spread and share the concepts I’ve learned. I’ve already showed my family and cousins the “The gratitude letter” youtube video we watched in class. It never fails to bring a smile to anyones face. In order for me to hare the information I’ve  learned on a more personal network, I need to remember to keep an open mind as well as a positive attitude and then my happiness might become contagious. Looking more at the social media side of networking I plan on using the app Twitter to send out daily tweets that are either motivational quotes or positive affirmations. Not only for me, but to brighten the days of others I don’t know as well on a personal level.

The Conclusion

The Conclusion

I have learned many different lessons throughout the duration of this course. The major lessons I learned from the content this semester is the importance of practicing mindfulness, the significant impact positive psychology has on one’s behavior and mental/emotional well-being, the importance of focusing on one’s strengths instead of dwelling on weaknesses,  and even the influence one’s personality may have one them possibly possessing addictive qualities. Of the many major lessons I’ve learned in this course,  the topics that were most meaningful to me was learning the importance of practicing mindfulness as well as the different ways in which one can be mindful, the advantages of focusing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses, and as well as tracking and managing automatic negative thoughts.

Growing up, I was often known was the sensitive friend/ loved one, who was often stressed, anxious, and sometimes negative. Although it bothered me to be perceived in such a way, I had great difficulty attempting to change it. My thoughts were often negative, which in turn influenced my behavior and interactions with others, how I viewed myself, and even my academic performance. This class forced me to focus on the good qualities that I have, and ones that others seem to admire about me.  Keeping in my my god qualities makes it easier to forgive myself when making mistakes, makes it easier to bond with others due to the desire to share with others qualities  that may positively influence them, etc. I have found that I am more aware of my thoughts and how much I allow them to influence me. When negative thoughts enter my mind, I’m happy to say that I quickly replace them with more optimistic, positive thoughts. Doing so has resulted in me being less anxious and stressed, and has even allowed for me to rekindle friendships that I may have severed due to the negative tendencies I used to have. I also contribute this change to the start of practicing mindfulness. Every day I take alt least 30 minutes to sit, relax, and enjoy the moment. For example, for the past few weeks I have been taking walks just to enjoy nature and all of the beauty it has to offer. I take the time to admire the sky, the birds chirping, and even the graceful movement of the lakes and ponds. I even take a moment to watch people and admire that similarities and differences we all possess whether it be the way we walk, dress, and even talk. These are the moments where I am the least stressed, anxious, and I am the most happy and grateful. Through these moments I am able to enjoy the day  regardless of the negative situations that may occur.

Another aspect about this class that I enjoyed the most and learned a lot from are the opportunities it provided to attend different programs. While I genuinely enjoyed our class yoga session, I believe my favorite program that I attended during this semester was the  Wellness Friday program hosted by OSMA. During this program students gave a presentation about the importance of mindfulness and even allowed the students in the audience to share their thoughts on mindfulness. To my surprise, I was able to freely express myself and share my thoughts during this session. We even had a mini yoga session.

I plan on sharing the information that I have learned through this course while having everyday conversations and even through sharing nice videos and info graphics I may see online. I also plan on sharing this information with my family by telling them about the science of happiness course. I have a little cousin that will be attending VCU this upcoming academic year, I have already started taking to her about this course and how imperative it is that she takes it, so that receives all of the resources that she needs to be be academically successful, and physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy.

I believe this image best summarizes what I learned this semester, because I have come to realize insightful it is. When a speaker first introduced this quote I didn’t quite agree with it. I felt it wasn’t that easy to be happy, simply because you wanted to. I also felt that there are many others factors that influences whether one could be happy or not. I have now come to the understanding that although there are many factors that influences one’s happiness, it is up to that individual how much they allow those factors to influence them. It is possible to be happy even in the face of adversity simply because you are  fully in control with how you allow outside factors to influence you.

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Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

Some major lessons that I learned from the content this semester is how important self-care is, how it is really okay to not know exactly what you want to do once you graduate, that healthy eating and exercising is important to mental and physiological health overall, and that having people around you who love and care for you is very important to your heath overall as well. Some smaller topics that I can connect to the larger one is the idea of building and maintaining healthy relationships through PERMA to having a support system, the My Plate to healthy eating, and hedonic happiness to self-care. The topics that were most meaningful to me were the topics about exercising because that is something that I really want to start doing more of, most definitely self-care because before I never really participated in self-care for real, and also a VERY important one was forgiveness because forgiving is a hard thing to do and I’ve come to learn that forgiving is something that can not only make the other party involved feel better, but internally you feel better.

To apply these insights to my personal life, I will further my education on the PERMA model so that I can be more of a great friend, and I can help others to become great friends as well. I will also, in my professional life, try to use what I have learned about my temperament throughout the class to better be able to work with others in different environments. Some changes I have already made include taking time out for myself, I’ve started taking long walks, and I have begun to try to eat more healthy and balanced foods. I made those changes because I have realized how much better my body and mind feel after I eat a good meal and take a long satisfying walk. Changes that I still need to work on is being more social and using my lesser used strengths that I have. I basically use my top five strengths every day, but the others I would very mush so love to tackle.

After class is over, I definitely plan on continuing posting things that I learned from class on my social media. Also, I really plan on working these topics into every day conversations that I have with people I come in contact with on a daily basis. Science of Happiness is a really cool and interesting topic once you come to know what it is, what it is about, and how to achieve your own happiness.

I’m really going to miss this class!!

This is the image that I feel best summarizes what I’ve learned this semester.

Being Happy

It is a Way of Life

It is a Way of Life

Over the course of this past semester, I have learned so many every day life skills in this class as well as others. But a couple of lessons from SOH really stood out to me: mindfulness and the digital age.

The mindfulness aspect of the class was meaningful to my life because my psychiatrist has been begging me for YEARS to practice mindfulness skills everyday. Yet, the way I understood it made it seem like a lot of work that I would have to schedule into my day that was already too busy. I didn’t realize that mindfulness isn’t like that at all! Through the guided meditations in class, I realized you can practice these skills while brushing your teeth, or taking a shower, walking the dog, or even standing in line. Just take notice of the physical sensations that occur and stepping out of the constant babble of thought going through the mind 24/7. Now that I know these things, I have been and can continue to apply this to my everyday life. I’ve also started spreading this message to friends and family when they come to me feeling stressed out.

Another topic I’ve carried with me was the week we spent on the digital age. I did not feel as if I was attached to my phone because I’m not one to sit around texting or scrolling through social media, but after, I found myself spending time on my phone doing other things which I hadn’t even thought of as phone-things before learning about the time we spend on them each day. After that, I’ve been much more mindful about my electronics usage, and have tied in other aspects of the course to help with this like finding hobbies that tie into my strengths and personality that can keep me busy and focused and, of course, in my flow.

I chose this picture as a summary of our class because it is so true, happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life. And this class gave us the tools to start living it.

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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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Final post

Final post

Discovering my character strengths helped me to get a better insight to who I am. My top strength was creativity. At first, I was not sure I agreed with that. I am not creative – I do not draw well, I am not a painter, a poet, or a musician. I possess no creative talents. Though after reflecting a bit, I realized that creativity does not mean I have to be good at creating a piece of art. I am an abstract thinker. I understand things by using analogies. I like figuring out how to solve problems. One example of that is when I moved into my apartment this past August. My bedroom was the size of a walk-in closet. I’ve accumulated so much stuff from these past two years living in Richmond that when my brother helped me move here, it took five trips from my old place to his new place. He was driving my Jeep Liberty. Well when I moved in here, I seriously doubted there would be a way to fit everything into my bedroom. Somehow, I made it work. It was just like playing a giant game of Tetris. It was a frustrating situation, but I enjoyed the satisfaction of solving what seemed to be a near impossible task. Though I may not be artistically creative, I think creatively. I am also an over-thinker. I can over-think and over-analyze just about every aspect of my life. The downside to that is that it causes me to lose sight of what I am doing in the present moment. The benefit of it is that I’ve come to learn that every problem has a solution.

I also enjoyed learning about mindfulness, social emotional learning, and emotional resilience. Being mindful is helpful in putting aside my “mental clutter” and focusing on what I am doing in the present moment. Short meditations before stressful situations, like taking an exam, is a great way to calm down and stop freaking out over what I do and don’t know and what my exam grade will be. That anxiety right before taking a test is not beneficial. If I prepared for a test and studied, then I will be fine. If I didn’t prepare, then it is likely that I will not do so well. My opinions or feelings about what the end result will be are irrelevant right before taking a test. If I know it then I know it. If I don’t then I don’t. Although many times I can make situations out to be more complicated than they actually are. It is a character defect of mine. The things I have learned in class, such as mindfulness, paying attention to what I’m good at, recognizing that actions or outcomes are not definitive of my character, and being kind to myself, will help me grow. Often times, it is difficult to notice when I’ve improved and how much I have changed. I can only see myself from my perspective – I cannot see myself from an outsider’s point of view. My friends in my recovery network remind me that I have improved a tremendous amount from the time they met me almost two years ago until now. It feels uncomfortable being praised. That probably stems from how much I mentally beat myself up but that is an issue I will not go into detail about. My point is that through being made aware of myself, I am able to pay much more attention to the choices I make. Making positive life choices for myself will help guide me in the right direction and will ensure that things will turn out, maybe not the way I want them to, but ways in which are best suited for myself and overall well-being.

The picture I chose to represent how I felt about this semester is one that my mom emailed to me a couple of weeks ago when I was having a really bad day. In that picture, I am either 3 or 4 years old. I’m doing a karate kick while wearing my ballerina outfit. I think that picture of me is a funny, but realistic representation about how I approach life. I may be experiencing one thing, but I am able to quickly adapt when the situation calls for it.  I have experienced a multitude of emotions, problems, and challenges this semester but I made it through in one piece. Somehow, I found ways to redirect myself or adjust to my varying array of challenges.


SOH Blog Post #3

SOH Blog Post #3

As my last semester as a college student at VCU, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to take this class. One of the major lessons I learned this semester was how genetics and environment both shape who we are. I connected information from Dr. Dick’s lesson about twin studies to environment in that there is not one gene for ‘X issue’. Many times we think that because our family has a history (a gene) for a problem means that we are going to inherit that problem and have it come about in life. This is not necessarily true. Dr. Dick made a great point that genes are “disposition not destiny.” We can be disposed toward something, but can also change the likelihood that it actually will happen through environmental changes. Twin studies helped to determine that genetics is only 50% of what makes up our happiness (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005). This was meaningful to me because it opened my eyes to more of the science behind happiness, as well as information on twin studies.

Another lesson I learned from class was that there are so many parts of our lives that we might not think of in regards to well-being. For example, career well-being – before listening to Ms. Sims’ lecture, I thought about what would make me happy if I took this certain job, but not really any other aspects (besides pay). Happiness and pay is important, but also understanding values is important as well to balance one’s well-being in the workplace. I connected Ms. Sims’ lecture to Dr. Walsh’s lecture on finding our strengths. In order to pursue well-being in a work aspect, knowing our strengths is vital to making sure we succeed. This connection was meaningful to me because it helped me choose what job I wanted to take after graduation!

In regards to Dr. Dick’s lecture, I want to commit to reminding myself that there are multiple aspects that make up someone’s happiness. In the immediate future, I want to continue to reflect on this idea. Down the road, I think that going back to notes I’ve taken on Dr. Dick’s lecture will be helpful in reviewing information. Well-being as a whole has been something that I have tried to be more cognizant of recently. Continuing to practice mindfulness will help me to pursue well-being in all aspects of my life (work, personal life, etc.). I think one change that I need to make in general in regards to well-being and sleep is putting away screens earlier. Often times looking at my phone right before I go to bed makes me not sleep as well.

I first want to start off by informing my personal network on lessons I have learned, and then spread information from there. Having conversations about the class with friends and family is one way that I have started to spread information I have learned. I want to continue posting on Facebook, and incorporate Instagram as well, into posting about mindfulness and “the science of happiness.”

Blog Post #3

It’s Time!

Image result for happiness and depression

Image source:

There is no time like the present to change your life for the better! I have learned many things during my time in this Science of Happiness class. One of the major lessons was that not everything that happens to you is determined by your genetics but not everything is entirely your fault either. For example, you can be genetically predisposed to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, but the choice ultimately comes down to your decision to consume the drugs or alcohol. Your personality traits can also play a part in your decision making; more impulsive people are more prone to drug or alcohol abuse. It just seems that sometimes the cards are stacked against you and your fight for independence from substances. The same goes for addiction of other types; games, social media, cellphones, and anything else that you instinctively run to to avoid reality. I had a subconscious dependence on my phone when it came to social interactions. I would instinctively jump on it whenever I was put in uncomfortable situations. I know many people that are the same in that regard. I want to use what I have learned here to help myself and others that suffer from depression. I am tired of always being sad and feeling sorry for myself.

I will apply the material that I have learned in this class in my daily life by starting to practice mindfulness and positive psychology. I have already started practicing positive psychology through random acts of kindness because everyone needs to feel appreciated now and again. I will also try to implement more no-screen time before bed in order to help my sleep cycle and insomnia.

I do not have an active social media presence, but I will attempt to spread the knowledge that I have learned in this class to my friends and relatives. I have multiple family members that would benefit from the knowledge about depression the most.

Pranav’s Science of Happiness Blog Post #3

Pranav’s Science of Happiness Blog Post #3

Since I enrolled in SOH, every single lecture has been valuable and important, and that hopefully that is going to help my personal relationships as well as my professional career. Some of the topics were interesting, whereas some of them were new and taught me that we need to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. All of the topics that we learned were interconnected to each other. In Keyes’ model, we learned that absence of mental health, which is also called “languishing in life’ is as bad as major depressive episode. When I completed the Keyes flourishing scale, I found out that my categorical result was flourishing.  Flourishing means a person has positive affect, avowed quality of life, self-acceptance, personal growth, and positive relation with others (Week 1). The most meaningful topic was by Ms. Nina Schroder, when we did the Disconnecting for 50 minutes’ exercise. After completing that exercise, I have found out that if I hide my phone away during class, I tend to focus more on the lecture. The major overall lesson that I learned this semester was about Forgiveness by Worthington (Week 5), which taught me that we should forgive people in our life so that we can move on and do better things.

I have already started to apply the insights from this class to my everyday life. For example, I have deleted and moved social media apps from my phone as recommended by Nina Schroder (Week 7). I also hope to forgive my friends and family that I have had altercation with, as well as being forgiven by people that I have hurt. My favorite lecture was by Worthington (Week 5) because I learned that holding a grudge against something or someone is going to hurt myself. When I went to the Rams in Recovery Speaker Series this semester, I found out that parents are the most forgiving person in this world. Most of the stories that I heard involved their parents forgiving after the child’s mistakes. Also, during the COBE town hall, I found out that substance use and mental illness is associated with a number of adverse consequences, to both the individual and the entire community. The Rams in Recovery event was very emotional and it had a positive influence on me. After taking the VIA strength survey I found out that my top strength was kindness and my top weakness was communication. Therefore, going forward I will work on my communication skills with my friends and family.

Most of the time whenever I learn something new in this class, I always used to share with my roommates and try to have a positive influence on them. Even for the Final Project, I shared all the data with them so that they could be a positive and negative feedback. My biggest influence on my roommates was when I shared my Disconnecting for 50 minutes’ exercise, even they found out that using smartphone a lot affects our sleep quality, depression, and anxiety. They deleted Facebook from their phone because they were wasting a lot of time in it.  In this class, I have learned a lot about positive psychology and negative effects of social media uses, however, I still used to post my weekly media posts on twitter and have a positive influence on my friends and family. I got a lot of comments and likes regarding to posts and some of my friends told me that they might enroll in SOH class next semester.  I will continue to posts regarding positive psychology so that I can learn new studies about it, as well as keep up with the VCU COBE weekly news.

I included a picture about positive psychology because in my opinion, the main goal of this class was to teach positive psychology. Also in other words, science of happiness does mean positive psychology. Positive Psychology includes strengths, mindfulness, emotional being, forgiveness, and positive emotions etc. Positive Psychology interventions promotes positive relationship as well as fosters one’s mental and physical well-being.

Image Source:

What Is Positive Psychology?


ashauntae2019 posted a new activity comment

I loved your blog post pictures and I love how you talk about screen time use also been taking the advice from about how sometimes you just to put your phone and spend more time with family

In reply to - savannahrae wrote a new post, Full Circle, on the site Savannah Rae The over-arching theme of this semester seems to be that happiness stems from an interwoven connection between social, emotional, physical, and […]
Learning > Earning: What I Gained From SOH

Learning > Earning: What I Gained From SOH

This semester I have had the fortunate opportunity of learning a great deal in many areas of study.  Each of my courses have had constant themes of growth and inquiry, and I view the knowledge that I have gained in each area as success (regardless of the grade).  I feel that I have grown more confident in this way of measuring success and contentment from the topics covered in this class (SOH).  From the outset, we challenged perceptions of happiness (which I now know related to feelings of success, contentment, etc.) and worked to getting to the deeper meaning of what it is to be happy.  I have also learned to value group discussions and interactions with those in the class with me.  My previous attitude towards group discussions was unpleasant, but I have found through this class experience that valuable insights and connections can be made when we students share our perspectives and experiences.  This has translated well to my other courses, and I hope it will carry over into my interactions outside of the academic environment (family, work, etc.).

In regards to the content of the course, I have perceived the majority of the content to be getting us (the class) acquainted with the factors which either hinder or promote happiness.  One topic that especially sticks out to me is substance use and abuse (particularly because my group chose it for our final project).  I appreciate the info in the topic itself, but appreciated more the way other topics were included as either factors or ways to treat it.  For example, the SUPRS and personality traits lecture was particularly insightful and interesting to me, personally.  I could link that information to other topics other than substance use such as alcoholism, depression, etc.  I also linked the section of Dr. Vassileva’s information “personality-specific thinking errors” to the negative thoughts exercise that we did earlier in the semester, which I thought was cool.  I was able to identify traits of anxiety sensitivity (thinking the worst) and negative thinking (internalization) in myself, and attempted to identify the different traits in others around me.

The last few weeks have been especially insightful to me, as I feel that they focused more on the practice of what we have been taught.  I have noticed that I am more engaged when I am presented with ways of acting out what we have learned.  A lecture that I found especially interesting was Dr. Tyndall’s on academic wellbeing.  I have been told numerous times the dangers of overvaluing one’s GPA, and how students see that as the ultimate manifestation of hard work and intelligence, as well as the best measurement for success.  As mentioned before, I have become more comfortable with measuring my personal academic success with what I have learned, and not what I have earned (grades).  By considering the different definitions of success from my classmates, I have begun to practice valuing what I can take away from a course, not what I can leave on my transcript.  There have been positive effects of this, as by focusing on learning and conceptualizing material (versus memorizing it) I have improved my reasoning skills.  I must also add that, in doing this, my grades have not fallen at all, and the learning experience itself is not as stressful as if I had been attempting to memorize the information for a temporary amount of time!  This could also be in part due to my family support network, as well (Trockel, Barnes, and Egget found that “Outside social support from friends and family members, but not from peers, moderated the negative effects of text anxiety on students’ examination performance, according to Orpen.”)

I have also remained committed to the mindfulness practices that I began earlier this semester as a result of the information presented in this class.  I continue to take time to acknowledge my breath, and notice when I am taking shorter breaths or not breathing at all (which is usually a cue that I am stressed or anxious).  I have also begun to integrate these practices into my work life, as just yesterday I was reminding myself of the importance of breathing in stressful or uncomfortable situations.  I also put certain interactions in perspective and made a conscious decision to look at the long-term value of those interactions.  I found that after doing so my calmness and pleasantness increased, although I may not have been totally relieved.  It is my goal to continue to integrate these and other mindfulness practices into my life.  An idea that I have came from a Mindful Monday session that I attended, which was a guided meditation session.  I really enjoyed how relaxed, in tune, and peaceful I felt after as compared with before the session, and I hope to be able to do this with my crew at work.  My plan is to do a short version of this during the meeting I hold in the mornings, so that my crew and I can focus on our breathing and heart rates before we begin our busy day; as well as build camaraderie and promote a healthy work environment where I can. I also plan to stay connected with VCU Cobe on social media and continue weekly postings related with happiness like I did during the semester for the course.

I chose this image because I felt that it best described my experience in this course.  The material given to us is the cliff, and while we consider the vast areas of inquiry, we begin to appreciate the beauty of our world.  Imperfect as they may be, our experiences and education teach us what to look for to find peace and happiness.



Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

I think the major lesson I learned through this class is that one’s happiness is not determined by just one or even just a few factors. Happiness is attained based on every single angle of your life. Factors such as genetics (which I was not aware of before this class), for example if mental health diseases run in your family, that could affect your happiness, which is a lesson we talked about with Danielle Dick in class. I think learning about the genetics of happiness was very interesting. A lot of people think its nurture not nature that makes up happiness. But it turns out that happiness is an affect of nature AND nurture.  Positive psychology is also a interesting stake in ones happiness. In our positive psychology lecture, we learned about the concept of PERMA, which is a way of leading someone towards a happier life. PERMA stands for positive emotion (P), engagement (E), relationships (R), meaning (M), and accomplishment (A). Positive emotion is the idea that instead of choosing to look at the negative, you stay on the path of positivity. Engagement means to stay enthralled in every thing you do on a day to day basis. There is a thing called your flow, which is the idea that sense of time and effort are lost when working on activities that are at the optimal level of challenge and skill. This boosts academic performance and having a sense of accomplishment in yourself. Relationships are important because they are strongly correlated with high self esteem; If someone values you and your relationship, you will then in return also feel a sense of value in yourself. Meaning is the concept that your life needs to have meaning, you need to have a reason to wake up in the morning– this definitley will give you a sense of purpose and ignite your “flow”.  Accomplishments are also important and kind of similar to meaning, because if you feel accomplished, you feel like your life’s meaning or purpose is being worked on and will give you a high self esteem. I thought this acronym really encapsulated the essence of what steps to take to be happy.

Another interesting factor of happiness we learned about was technology and its relation to happiness. In our lectures we learned that most people who use less technology seem to be happier people and more mindful and present in their day to day lives.

This leads me to the final concept I enjoyed learning about. Being a yogi myself, I found the mindfulness meditation and yoga lessons to be my favorite. I liked that these classes were interactive and we even got to do yoga one day. I meditate everyday so I know what the benefits of being mindful really are from personal experience. It was nice to have that reiterated in class.

I will commit to applying these insights to my life by continuing to meditate and do yoga and to try to be mindful in everything that I do. Being mindful really is such a helpful tool in maintaining happiness.

Some things I have already changed are making sure I show gratitude every day to the people I love. I remember watching that Soul Pancake video in class of where people text or call someone they love to tell them they appreciate them, and it literally made me tear up. So I try to do that to at least one person a day now.

Some changes I still need to work on are probably self forgiveness and self love. I tend to be really critical of myself and I know that is something that I need to work on still and if I do change that, I know I will be much happier.

I think I plan to share what I have learned through this class in the most simple way possible and that is to just show through action and being nice to people. I think that’s the best way to explain happiness. I think when you try to show someone something by advertising it or sharing it on Facebook, it becomes in-genuine,  so I think just telling my loved ones I appreciate them, helping my friends when they need it and showing compassion to all is the best way that I can personally show what I have learned in this class.


I chose this picture because I think the phrase is simple, to the point, but packs a big punch. The sentence is short, but the meaning is so important!



Blog Post #3: Final Thoughts

The image above is a prime example of how far my knowledge goes on wellbeing and how to maintain it. The meme is basically saying “Look I know how to find the obvious things, but I don’t know much about the rest.” Wellbeing was that for me. Wellbeing was not something I thought about. All I knew was that I should eat well, sleep enough and exercise. This class was useful in helping my explore this topic because it keeps coming up! Another topic that comes with it is “how can we achieve it?”  From reading both the Trockel et al and the Dweck article, I think they were on a similar path in that they were using a population of people to answer the questions “What is wellbeing?” and “What actions/behaviors or personalities lead one person to have a greater sense of wellbeing than another?” From these questions I would go further to ask how these practices all play into overall happiness. In class, many speakers presented on different facets of wellbeing. The one lecture I really got into was the Career Wellbeing lecture given by Sims. She gave us this little stack of strips of paper with job characteristics on them and asked us to organize them into three categories: ones we needed at our job, ones that were nice to have, but were not necessary, and characteristics that were not necessary. After I did the activity, I noticed that I had clear expectations for my dream job and it also showed me why in the past, some jobs were more enjoyable than others. While reflecting on the reading and lecture activities, I realized that if I wanted to be happy, one of the things I needed to check were my career goals and make sure that when I graduate and interview for jobs, that I’m taking all the things I need into account and not just go for any job. In past job experiences, that is exactly what I did.

Social Wellbeing is another topic that is really meaningful to explore because not only does it tie into my career choice, it is also affected by my support group. For example, I’m fairly introverted so I should not become a sales rep because I do not like talking to strangers, nor do I enjoy engaging in large social situations AT ALL. Everyone in my support group knows that, but there have been people in my life that were more extroverted and preferred social gatherings, like parties. Eventually, we fell out and I had to learn to pay attention to my social wellbeing or I am not going to be happy AND EVERYONE IN MY SUPPORT NETWORK WILL NOTICE. As far as sharing what I have learned this semester with others, I think of it like this: if I have my life straight, I can provide support and solicited advice to others. So not only am I doing myself a service, I can use my experience as a resource.

I really think the course should be called The Science of Wellbeing because everything I have learned and applied to my daily life has increased my wellbeing and in turn, my overall happiness.

photo from:

Blog Post #3- SOH

Blog Post #3- SOH

Image result for black people looking happy

As this class comes to an end, I can honestly say that I have seen growth with myself. My first day in the Science to Happiness course, I walked in with little “expectations”. The expectation I did have, I was hoping to learn the fundamentals behind happiness. Fortunately, I received more than just fundamentals behind happiness, but also how to receive it, keep it and pass it on. In the course, there were many major lessons (fundamentals) on happiness. The major lessons that were taught were forgiveness, substance abuse, well-being, positive identity, regulating emotions, acts of kindness, mindfulness, awareness, relationships, nutrition & dieting, and sleeping improvements. Out of these major lesson, there were smaller topics that grew out of them.

Smaller topics such as social, career and academic (wellbeing) are to name a few. I choose theses smaller topics to discuss because I was unware that they existed.  Social well-being describes an individual’s ability to integrate acceptance, contribute actualization and coherence. Social well-being, to me, means that I can recognize what type and how much energy I give to people or certain activities in my life. Career well-being is being able to find joy and passion in your future profession. Career well-being, to me, mean whatever profession you chose to pursuit, make sure that it is something that you love to do for the rest of your time on earth. Academic well-being is the achievement and success that is received during your academic path. Academic well-being, to me, means that I have developed positive success through my academic ability.

Out of all the major lesson and small topics, there are two that were the most meaningful to me. Those topics are forgiveness and relationships. The term forgiveness is one of my most meaningful topics because I have struggled with forgiving those that have mistreated me in the past. When our speaker spoke about forgiveness, he brought up a horrible event that included his mother being murdered by a man in their home. He spoke on how me and his siblings had a tough time forgiving a man for taking their mother way. He also spoke on his recovery to forgive the man. He informed us that he did not forgive the man to make the man feel better, but to allow himself to heal from the hurt. I thought that was amazing because I do not think I would be strong enough to forgive someone in that type of situation.

Another forgiveness aspect I learned was when I volunteered at an event called Fear 2 Freedom. This event was created to bookbags filled with needed supplies for individuals who have gone through or experienced sexual abuse (violence), domestic (relationship) violence and child abuse (sexual and violence). Though I learned so much from this event, I was very inspired that many victims, who received support, where able to forgive the person that took their joy and happiness from them. Learning that, it motivates my heart to find encouragement to forgive. Forgiveness is to allow yourself to heal properly so you can find that happiness and joy you once had before.

The term relationship takes many forms for me. I found relationships the second most meaningful topics because I notorious for allowing my negative experiences in past relationships (mostly partner relationships) to define my future relationships. The Well conducted a class called Relationship Skills Class. In this class, we were taught strategies on how to build a relationship (no matter what kind) that has structure and commitment from both parties. Out of all the strategies, I found that having and establishing expectations and boundaries within a relationship very interesting. I found these interesting because many of my past relationships consisted of miscommunication and disrespect from me and my partner.  Expectation and boundaries, to me go hand in hand.  For both, I learned that for a relationship to be healthy, each person needs to discuss what are the do’s and don’ts. Building these expectations and boundaries can allow each person to avoid crossing a line that are a “no, no”.  This way, if miscommunication is presented, it will be easier to solve then to give up the relationship.

Since I have received positive knowledge from the topics taught, I do plan on incorporating some in to my life. The topics I do plan on incorporating are practicing mindfulness, improving my sleeping pattern and nutrients, practicing acts of kindness and self-awareness. I have, however, made changes mid-way of the semester. The changes I have made so far is implementing sufficient ways of communication in relationships, looking a negative situation in a positive way and practicing forgiving. I made these changes because I felt that my life needed improvement in those areas. It only made sense to start the process early, while class was still in session. During this process, I noticed that I still need to work in forgiveness and communication . . . only time will tell. I plan on spreading the knowledge of what I learn in this course by uplifting people in a time of need and becoming a listener and not a speaker in a situation.

The image I have chosen for this blog represents the feeling of finally finding your freedom in your own *use to be* negative world. This image also summarizes not only what I have learned, but also the positive impact it has made in my life. I would not be able to find motivation to improve my life and myself without this course.

Cite for Image:

What Feels like the End is Often the Beginning

What Feels like the End is Often the Beginning

Initially I came into Science of Happiness with a lot anxiety and self doubt because of starting the process to apply to medical school and graduation. However, these feeling of self doubt have transformed into feelings of confidence,awareness and excitement to start the next chapter of my life. I think some of the major lessons I learned from this class are how to flourish, my own personality traits I was unaware of, how to remain emotionally resilient and how to take advantage of the opportunities VCU has to offer before I graduate. To expand on this in the earlier in the semester our first weekly assignment we filled out Keyes Flourishing Scale and my results were awakening because I was not flourishing as much as I thought I was. Ever since I entered college I have always associated flourishing with how well I was doing in school. I never considered outside factors as a part of how well I was doing overall. I think this course has taught me yes school is important but ” How can you do well in school if everything else is below average?”. I have had the opportunity to take this into deep consideration all semester and have had the opportunity to make reform within my life. For example early in the semester I had no time for myself and was overloaded with school and was not genuinely happy, I felt like I was missing out on essential relationships with others and overall just lacking a sense of community. Even though I was able to recognize all the areas I was lacking in my life this did not really hit home until Dr. Sood’s lecture were she talked about all the mental health disorders and diseases that can result from not being happy and being stressed out. In addition when she told the class how she has to make time for herself even though she is a doctor and extremely busy, I realized I can achieve the same.

I think learning about my own personality during the VIA strengths and Surps survey were really beneficially because they made me aware of traits I possess. For example before we took this survey I only use to focus on my weaknesses and neglected my strengths, this survey taught me theres no such things as weaknesses and that they are just strengths I have to work a little harder on. The strengths I scored lower on were self regulation, zest, forgiveness. Throughout this semester I definitely have been working on  self regulation by distributing my time more wisely and tracking everything in a planner and to make sure I am not doing anything in excess such as binge eating late night in the library like I did in the fall semester. I worked on my zest by living in the moment I realized the reason I have lacked excitement and did things halfheartedly because my mind was always somewhere else for example thinking about an assignment that is due soon and not living in the present moment. Forgiveness has definitely been the hardest strength for me to work on because traditionally I hold grudges and “cut people off” but this semester I have tried to see situations from the other person’s perspective and this has allowed me to forgive people in shorter time periods and to not be resentful.

My emotional resiliency has really blossomed because of this class. When we heard the lecture about smart phones and how addicting they are, I didn’t realize how my behavior because of my phone use was obstructing my successfulness and my personal time outside of school. When I was obsessed with my phone it would take me twice as long to start and complete an assignment or my studying would always be less effective because I would study for 30 minutes and have an hour phone break. Ms. Nina Schroder lecture has really helped me hone my ability to be resistant using my smart phone and this allowed me to be more productive and even has allowed me to enjoy quality time with friends. For example my friends and I before this semester would go out to eat and spend the whole time on our phone after hearing Ms. Schroder’s lecture I suggested to my friends that whoever touches their phone during dinner has to pay for everyone. This has allowed us to really enjoy each other’s company in these last few months of undergrad since we are all graduating.

I think the lesson I  appreciated the most during this class were the ones about VCU resources. To be more specific I really enjoyed Ms. Sims lecture about the career service center because I have been stressing what to do in this gap year before medical school. Hearing all the things career services has to offer that I did not even know existed helped to relieve some of my stress. Her lecture was so encouraging for me that I even went ahead and booked multiple appointments to help develop my resume and explore possible career opportunities during my gap year.

I have already managed to implement changes to my life because of all the weekly lectures this spring. However, I think to make sure I stick with these positive changes in my life I think creating a journal to keep track of my progress will help me to keep bettering myself once I graduate. In addition I think what I have learned about breathing and mindfulness will really help me while studying for my MCAT this summer so I won’t get stressed out or discouraged.

To share all the lessons and tools I learned during this semester I think I will continue to post on my twitter and maybe even try to do things like m final project with positive intervention. Before this class I hadn’t touch my twitter in like 2 years because I thought no one used it. However since I started doing my social media posts I have gotten favorites on my post, in addition there is a new feature that allows you to view how any people you have been able to reach. To my very own surprise I have been able to reach hundreds of other users which is definitely more people than I can reach by word of mouth which lets me know my post can have a real tangible influence on others. By posting on my twitter account I
think I will be able to positively intervene in the live’s of others and possible help increase their emotional resilience and help them to self regulate their emotions as well

I chose an an image that shows a quote from Hilary Clinton during a 2006 commencement speech to SUNY Buffalo. I chose this because it to be very inspiring. In addition the background  found to be very peaceful; the quote and the background remind me of an old saying “There is beauty within the struggle”. Furthermore all of us have challenges and I believe this spring semester in the course science of happiness has made me better equipped to handle whatever challenges God and life decide to present to me from this point on.

picture was retrieved from:


Full Circle

Full Circle

The over-arching theme of this semester seems to be that happiness stems from an interwoven connection between social, emotional, physical, and mental wellness. It was exemplified throughout the coursework that overall happiness is difficult to attain without finding some balance between these four factors in our lives. Physical health is probably the most obvious facet of happiness that people tend to be aware of. We know that exercise is a critical factor to our health. Exercise is great at alleviating stress and anxiety and has actually been shown to provide depression benefits in individuals (among numerous other physical health benefits as well). Erin Thornton spoke to us about the importance of a balanced diet and drew attention to the common phenomenon of mindless, distracted eating which can cause feelings of guilt and doesn’t provide a healthy way of coping. Trockel, Barnes, & Egget, 2000. shows research that, unsurprisingly, healthy sleep habits were correlated with higher GPAs. It’s clear that our activity levels, day-to-day diets, and sleeping patterns exhibit a direct influence on our physical wellness and, maybe more importantly, our happiness.

Interestingly, our emotional wellness can have a big impact on our physical wellness. Individuals with anxiety, depression, high levels of stress, or low levels of emotional resilience are less likely to engage in behaviors that support positive physical wellness. Demirci, et al., 2015. concluded that higher incidences of smart phone usage were correlated with depression and anxiety, as well as poor sleep habits. They also found that depression and anxiety were predictors of decreased sleep quality. Nina Schroder told us that more time spent on social media is likely to decrease self-esteem and because of the transtheoretical model, we know that competency is one of the three main underlying needs that must be fulfilled to experience life satisfaction. So, do you see all the connections here? We need physical and emotional wellness to be happy…poor emotional wellness (anxiety/depression/stress) can have negative effects on our physical wellness…high levels of smart phone usage can cause depression and anxiety…depression and anxiety can cause poor sleep habits…poor sleep habits are related to low GPAs…and social media use can decrease our self-esteem due to an increased need to impress others and be affirmed, resulting in decreased perceptions of competency! Isn’t it crazy how everything is connected?

Another underlying need of the transtheoretical model is relatedness, which implies the importance social wellness has on our overall happiness. Social wellness is multifaceted, including academic, career, and social well-being. Hayley Sims talked about the importance of “ikigai”, basically meaning that finding our purpose is crucial to our happiness and longevity. Our cultivated purpose should ideally translate into our academic careers, as well as the workplace, and be a positive influence on our social wellness. Social well-being is more complex. It includes social integration, acceptance, contribution, actualization, and coherence. Professor Walsh emphasized that the quality of our relationships has a strong influence on our mental health and can also be linked to physical health, as well as sickness and mortality. According to Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010., individuals with strong social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival, showing us that poor social relationships increase our risk for death. It’s amazing that the quality of our relationships not only effects our happiness, but even influences how long we will survive!

Finally, we must consider mental wellness’s influence on happiness. We learned in class that positive psychology interventions have huge impacts on well-being.  Proyer, et al., 2015. showed us that focusing on our top five strengths found from the VIA Strengths Survey will exhibit happiness benefits for up to three months, as well as some depression benefits. Dr. Reina discussed awareness and attention (the components of mindfulness) and how important it is to perform these skills intentionally and without judgement. Allowing ourselves to experience our thoughts and not let them control us helps us to let go of things and improves our ability to focus. Other positive psychology interventions, like keeping a gratitude journal, practicing kindness, and meditating on optimism help increase our mindfulness and lead to greater life satisfaction, as well as depression benefits.

I think what I enjoyed learning about the most this semester was how greatly social relationships effect our well-being and the impact social media has on our happiness. Recently, I started noticing the negative impact social media was having on my own life. It wasn’t until this semester that I decided to actually start decreasing and limiting my time on it. Even though I still use it (sometimes more than I should), I definitely have noticed that the less I invest in my image online, the happier I am. Whenever I relapse and find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media for an hour I notice that I feel very out of touch with the real world. Learning all the disturbing effects social media use has on our mental health was even more motivation for me to cut back and I’ve noticed that I am more mindful now about when I use it and how much I’m using it. Learning about social well-being was interesting because I think our society has developed into this dog eat dog world where everyone is fending for themselves and climbing the ladder to success alone. I believe our hyper-competitive society has driven people far away from the community-oriented mindset and the negative effects of this are being shown in our mental health statistics. I’ve always been a community-oriented person, so I know all too well the struggle that comes with feeling like you have to do things alone (school, work, success, etc.). After joining a campus ministry and finding my community in the Kingdom of God, I feel such an overwhelming sense of peace and fullness that I never knew before. This personal experience of mine made the coursework on social well-being even more meaningful to me because I know how true the research is.

The joy that I’ve gotten from finally finding my community inspires me to work to help others find their communites as well. I aspire to foster an environment at my home, at my workplace, with my friends, and at my church where people feel like they belong there. I want to love people in such a way that when they walk into my house, my office, or my church they know they have a home there. I think all the material we’ve learned this semester about the many aspects of wellness will greatly strengthen my ability to understand, empathize, support, encourage, and provide for others in the ways that they need to flourish. As a future athletic trainer, I will have many opportunities to help others develop and improve their physical wellness. As a human being, my encounters and relationships with others provide a space for me to utilize the information I’ve learned, observe where they may be struggling, and give useful, research-based advice and support. Personally, I would like to get better about being more intentional with the people in my life. As a college student, it can be difficult to invest in many relationships while trying to keep your own life together. Since I’m graduating I think I’ll have a greater opportunity to really invest in the people around me more and try to be a bigger help in their lives. I also want to continue to work on my social media use and maybe even get to a point where I feel completely comfortable with deleting most of my social media platforms. Since I’m trying to use social media less, I will focus more on sharing the information I’ve learned in class through personal conversation with friends, family, and whoever else may need or want to talk about it.

I chose this picture because I think every time we love someone we plant seeds in their hearts that make it grow. There’s a never-ending question people ask about what the meaning of life is. I believe we are here to build each other up in love.

Know Yourself <3

Know Yourself <3

So far, I’ve come to the conclusion that this course structured to educating about improving one’s overall mental and emotional health. The first few weeks of this course catered to educating about depression and anxiety, mindfulness, genetic and happiness , and focusing on strengths. The last few weeks of this course catered to emotional resilience particularly in the digital age,getting to know yourself via personality traits and substance use risk profile, and social emotional learning.

The emotional resilience lecture provided research proving that their is a positive correlation between the amount of technology usage and mental health trends. heavy social media usage has been proven to result in increased risk of depression, anxiety, stress, and even suicide.  Next, Doctor Vassileva explained the Five factor Model during the “Getting to know yourself'” lecture. The Five Factor Model identifies five basic traits, such as neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientious, that are fundamental for determining one’s personality. She also explained the use of the substance use risk profile scale,SURPs, which is a questionnaire that measures one’s susceptibility to substance misuse and what substances they are more susceptible to misusing, based on 4 personality traits. These traits include impulsivity, sensation seeking, anxiety sensitivity, and negative thinking/ hopelessness. Third and final, the social and emotional learning lecture emphasized the importance recognizing one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how to properly express and cope with them. SEL programs are gradually being created to help improve such skills in school aged kids and beyond.

All content provided in the past 10 weeks has helped me to really learn more about myself both emotional, mentally, and socially. I am now a lot more cognizant of how often I engage in social media, as well as my emotions and how I allow them to impact my behavior. Instead of constantly being on social media, I have found a novel series that is just as entertaining. Also, throughout the day, I take time to acknowledge my emotions and process them in a way that will be more beneficial and productive to myself as well as the relationships I have with others.


 I chose this image, because I believe it is very true to life. The key to your happiness, building healthy relationships, and even having a healthy work life is all through knowing yourself. Knowing what makes you happy or sad, how to process your emotions, knowing your strengths and areas of improvements, etc, are all essential in living a beautiful life filled with peace, love, and wisdom. <3

“Most importantly, You’ll get to know yourself”

Weeks 7-10 in a Nutshell

Weeks 7-10 in a Nutshell


Emotional resilience in the digital age, social emotional learning, and getting to know yourself all sort of goes hand-in-hand. All of these topics fall under the category of personal development and traits. Our ties to technology that come along with heightened anxiety, depression, and hampered sleep closely relates to our personal qualities and personalities. Our response to the digital age reflects our personality traits. As for social emotional learning, the focus was on earlier developmental years, like elementary school. Tapping into those earlier stages of life to help kids develop vital skills before reaching adulthood further shapes how they will act in a digital world. Reflecting back on the earlier weeks in the course, children would also be developing strengths, like mindfulness, for the working world and possibly even reducing their likelihood or severity of anxiety and depression later in life.

These past 10 weeks I’ve gained insight on many subjects. For starters, I was able to learn how to practice mindfulness skills. I’ve been able to incorporate these skills into my everyday life and I can’t imagine going back. Another subject was on addiction. Since I’m planning a career around drug rehabilitation and mental health counseling, it was really interesting to see how some personality traits of those who struggle with addiction are correlated with specific substances; I plan to carry this knowledge forward, as well. I look forward to what the weeks ahead have in store!


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For Better or For Worse?

For Better or For Worse?

Living in a digital age can have big advantages, but it also comes with some nasty consequences. As we learned in the past few weeks, depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Overuse of entertainment technology and social media can lead to increased incidences of loneliness, low self-esteem, social concern, and decreased communication skills. Demirci, et al. reports that higher smartphone usage positively correlates to depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. We also know from Conrad, et al. that children with certain risk factors are more likely to be negatively impacted by substance abuse during adolescence, leading to increased likelihood of addiction in the future. Finally, the SEL meta-analysis tells us that students participating in SEL programs had positive changes in their attitudes and social-emotional skills regarding themselves, school, and others. Putting all this together simply, it seems like the increased use of technology and decreased focus on social-emotional skill learning we see in our society and schools today is having a grand negative impact on our children’s development and mental health.

In the first weeks of class, we talked about genetic influence on personality traits. Conrad, et al. classifies four distinct personality traits that serve as risk factors for potential substance abuse and addiction: impulsivity, sensation seeking, anxiety sensitivity, and hopelessness. These personality traits are likely very genetically influenced, but that doesn’t mean prevention steps can’t be taken to reduce the impact of these traits on decision making and emotional health. Promoting SEL programs in school is a fantastic way to counteract these social-emotional disturbances and help teach and establish healthy emotional and behavioral patterns in kids at a young age. We know that SEL helps improve emotional recognition, stress-management, and decision making skills. Implementing these programs within our current academic education could serve as prevention of not only addiction and substance abuse, but also anxiety and depression. Helping students develop empathy, a strong sense of self, and healthy, rational behavior patterns could serve as a good mechanism to counteract the negative effects of our technologically advancing world.

The past few weeks have caused me to be a bit more mindful about technology and the importance of real-life people skills versus standard academic achievement. Personally, I’ve been spending a significantly less amount of time on social media/screens. I had already realized that social media had a negative impact on my mental health, however after hearing the lecture by Nina Schroder I really felt inspired to make screen time a less important and prioritized part of my life. In doing so, I feel more content and connected with my peers, loved ones, and the world around me. I feel more focused and I don’t feel such a heavy weight of pressure to be or look a certain way. The SEL lecture was really interesting to me because it made me think a lot about the way in which I will raise my kids one day. It seems like common sense, but seeing the data and research proving that we need to be teaching our children how to be good human beings more so than how to be good students really inspired me. I definitely will keep everything I learned with me moving forward because I know it will help me one day when I start my own family.

I chose a picture of someone enjoying the outdoors because I think it represents freedom from technology. When we put our phones down, we’re able to look up and enjoy the incredible world around us.



Pranav’s Science of Happiness Blog Post #2

Pranav’s Science of Happiness Blog Post #2

Since the start of week 7 in SOH class, we have learned about Emotional Resilience, Personality traits, and Social Emotional Learning. In my opinion, they are interconnected to each other because they focus on human behaviors and emotional developments. These lectures has educated me that I have a lot to learn about myself. For example, I should track my sleep patterns, and time spent on social media because lack of sleep and more amount of social media uses can affect my personality and mood. According to American Psychological Association, personality is defined as individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. In the Week 7 reading assignment, we learned that there is correlation between the relationship of smartphone use severity with sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in university. The results in that article concluded that smartphone overuse may lead to depression and/or anxiety, which can in turn result in sleep problems. Personally, I don’t that much of a difference between these lectures; however the fact that they focus on different perspective of emotional, cognition, and personality traits. Overall the outcome of these lectures are they focus on a personal well-being and positive psychology, which relates us back to earlier content.

Since I have enrolled in SOH class, I have learned a lot about positive psychology and negative effects of social media uses. As a college student, I am stressed about my classes and grades so in order to take a break from studies I use social media. But after emotional resilience lecture, I have found out that social media impacts us negatively. Therefore, I have deleted and moved social media apps from my phone as recommended by Nina Schroder (Week 7). After completing Disconnecting for 50 minutes exercise, I have found out that if I hide my phone away during class, I tend to focus more on the lecture. Therefore, phone has been a distraction to my studies since my freshmen year. I wish I had learned it before that not using my phone for one hour is not going to affect my life at all. I have already made changes to one my daily habits – phone overuse. Before, I used to spend almost five hours and it used to distract me and affect my sleep pattern. But nowadays, I think I only use social media one hour in total, which is thirty minutes before lunch and fifteen minutes around evening, and fifteen minutes before going to sleep.

I chose the picture that is above because it represents that our young generation has social media in our mind rather than being interactive socially. We should limit our social media use, and should not post our personal life problems in social media because that makes us vulnerable to be attacked by strangers.

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Mindful Practices and Lifelong Insights: Blog Post Two

Mindful Practices and Lifelong Insights: Blog Post Two

It is with great happiness that I am able to attest that, since the first blog post several weeks ago, the trend of gaining valuable insights to happiness continues (and with great success) into the final weeks of the course.  In these last few weeks since first checking in with the first blog post, the topics covered in class have been focused more on the scientific matter of more pleasant emotions and awareness (“happiness”).  Topics such as emotional resiliency and social and emotional learning were covered, which I found to be relatable to each other in the way that, if we are not taught to relate to each other emotionally at a young age, we will really need to hone our skills to become emotionally resilient later on in life.  I am aware that children are not taught the emotional skills necessary to be empathetic towards each other and built upon into lifelong habits (my mother is a middle school teacher).   Many, myself included, resort to letting the technological advancements we have take the place of social interactions (Demirci et al, 2015, highlighted the dangers of cell phone use, especially, and linked it to depression and anxiety in college aged people), especially by turning to our phones when in a situation that we do not feel most comfortable in.  I was also able to relate the personality traits that Dr. Vassileva introduced to the class (week 9) to character strengths (week 4) and reinforce the validity of my top strength of judgement with the fact that, according to the SURPS survey, I was along the low end of the scale in the “impulsivity” category.

The larger lessons gathered from the past 10 weeks or so include the fact that there is quite an extensive body of research not into the science of happiness, but into the factors that work together to produce what has been accepted as standards for happiness and contentment.  However, at the same time certain areas of study (SEL and such), although they have enough research to be considered a valuable component to the science of happiness, are fresh and require more results and research time.  Perhaps the most valuable personal insight is mindfulness and the positive effects that even the slightest bit of effort can produce if one works to build it into everyday habits.

As a result, I have begun to practice mindfulness throughout the day.  Motivated by examples (such as from the T.A. and other classmates) and the importance of breathing that was reiterated in this class, I have begun a habit of taking a deep breath every time I lock the doors of my car after getting in.  This makes for a consistent “mini” quiet reflective time, as I commute to campus each day and also find myself doing most of the driving in my household.  I was inspired to do so from both this class and previous classes which stressed the importance of breath and being mindful of how you use it.  After consistently doing this for several weeks now, I find myself more conscious of my breath and noticing when I am either holding my breath or taking shallow breaths, as well as the effects this has on my heart rate.  When I hold my breath or breathe shallowly, my heart rate goes up, increasing feelings of stress or anxiety, and sometimes this is how I find out that I am stressing or getting anxious.  I hope to go further with this “mindful time” and extend it to more moments and a longer duration.


The image that I chose is to represent the effects of the changes that I have made in my life because of this class.  These changes have been positive, and I feel that they will bring a greater sense of peace to my life.  To me, peace is represented visually by sunlight and natural things, and each person has their own vision based on their own experiences.



Live Your Best Life All 2018

Live Your Best Life All 2018


I think since I’ve learned about emotional resilience in the age of technology, SURPS and social and emotional learning it has changed my outlook on life. All the topics were intertwined and connected in various ways. Emotional resilence and the SURPS score we discussed in class were connected because our emotional resilience to technology can be related to our impulsivity score and our risk of substance abuse. Everyday most people including myself are impulsively checking our phone when there is no notification or need to; often time feeling the need to excite our life to compete with followers we may/ may not know on  our social media platforms          . If we actually act on these urges it may increase the negative effects we experience in our life.  Negative effects such as decreased  mental acuity, increase risky behaviors such as sex and drinking. However after hearing Dr. Ross’ lecture I think these can be overcame  by implementing social and emotional learning at the college level. College is a time of high stress many changes so in order to alleviate some of this stress  VCU and other universities could offer more  workshops for incoming freshman and other students throughout their college career. I think throughout my college career I definitely had to figure out how to be resilient on my own and learning to prioritize between academics and social life. The beginning of my college career I definitely struggled with spending too much time socializing with people who weren’t goal oriented and distracted me from my own goals. Luckily I was able to get back on track but this isn’t the situation for many college students who will end up spending six years in colleges instead of four or dropping out all together. Since learning about all these different topics I’ve definitely have tried to cut down on the amount of time I spend on my phone and computer if it is not school related and have noticed that the amount of time I need to study has decreased since I’m more focused. The reason I chose the Tupac meme because I feel many times people think they deserve the best in life without putting in the work.

the meme was retrieved from:

SOH Blog Post 2 ~ Weeks 7-10

SOH Blog Post 2 ~ Weeks 7-10

Topics covered in weeks 7-10 are similar because the concepts discussed are ones that enable people to live better lives. Week 10, “Social Emotional Learning” we discussed learning that typically occurs early in life whereas “Getting to Know Yourself” was about understanding yourself later in life when habits have been established. The topics tended to be about emotional aspects of self.  

The main ways in which earlier content informed new content are by providing a conceptualization of what happiness is and how character traits are studied. An especially important topic was depression, and understanding that feeling sad isn’t the same as major depression. I believe this is was an important topic because it fosters the understanding that affect is, in part, a physiological phenomenon. Also, affluenza (learned about in week 3) plays a role in social media addiction.  

An overarching insight from the first 10 weeks of class is that awareness is paramount. Being able to tap into your thoughts and emotions is critical for self-betterment and happiness.  

This class has been very useful in helping me identify habits that I can/should change in order to live a more productive and fulfilled life. Besides reducing social media use, I have not enacted any changes to my daily routine. I intend to do so after college once life’s pace has slowed. I plan to start being more physically active again and cut down on alcohol consumption. This decision was informed by the speaker who explained that substance use can further impulsive tendencies.  

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
– George Bernard Shaw

The photo I choose is meant to represent awareness. I like the image because it has crops in the background and I think a healthy diet is a key to happiness. Also I think it’s symbolic that the person is holding something near their chest as if it’s important to them.

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

The topics of emotional resilience, getting to know yourself through your personality traits, and social and emotional learning are connected in a way. Once you are able to get to know yourself, you can build your emotional resilience by using the skills learned from social and emotional learning. Thinking back to when we took the VIA Strengths survey, we learned about our strengths, and that can also help with emotional resilience as well.  For example, one  of my top 5 strengths was Love of Learning. If someone was to say something mean like “oh you’re such a  nerd, it irritates me,” my emotional resilience would help me cope with that and not feel bad about loving to learn. My social and emotional skills will prevent me from saying mean things back.

Larger insights that I’v learned from the class more so have to do with what I’ve learned about myself.  I never realized that I was a high sensation seeker until I took the SURPS because I honestly thought I was just a borderline adrenaline junkie. I love getting on roller coasters and I want to bungee jump and zip line one day, and I just like to laugh a lot and have fun. Ever since I found out that I was flourishing even though I felt like I was languishing, I feel like I’ve been a lot happier lately.

Changes that I am working on making are my automatic negative thoughts pattern, and trying to find ways to use my other strengths from the VIA survey that I learned about. One of the readings talked about how positive thoughts and positive psychology work together, so the negative thoughts need to be tamed.  Also, I am starting to write down daily reasons about what made me happy, and I try to find the good in the bad that happens. I still have A LOT of work to do, but I’ll get to where I want to be soon, hopefully.

This photo has to do with the resilience part of my post. Resilience can protect a person against stress, anxiety, depression, etc., and promotes life satisfaction. Build your emotional resilience, and live a happy life!


Post # 2

Post # 2

Emotional resilience, getting to know myself, and social emotional learning feed into one another. I think that we get to know ourselves by how we interact with others and how they interact with us. In learning to be aware of how others feel, we learn how to be aware of what we feel. Emotions can be tough to deal with at times. Through what we learn from our peers and from past experiences, we learn how to be resilient and survive, adapt to, and work through our feelings. We may see how someone we know deals with their anxiety. That person may cope with anxiety in certain ways that help them overcome it. When we feel anxious, we may remember what that person did to get through what they felt and then we implement those same techniques in getting through emotional difficulties. In the past ten weeks, I learned some things about myself. The best way I can explain what I’ve discovered about myself is to use an analogy. In the past, if someone figuratively says, “don’t touch the stove because you will get burned,” I would respond with “well then I’ll make a fire-resistant glove. Then I’ll be able to touch the stove, not get burned, and then you’ll look stupid.” These past few months, I have learned from my friends, what we’ve learned in class, and through self-awareness, that I don’t need to try to prove others wrong all the time. I’ve recognized my tendencies to think that I always need to be right. Now I can work on changing those self-defeating perspectives. Emotions are valid. They’re a fact of life and no one has ever died solely because they felt an emotion. When thoughts of wanting to be argumentative or to act out on impulse, I stop and ask myself, “how has that worked out for me in the past?”
The picture I chose to include is one that I took myself and posted on my Instagram account 6 years ago. I think that it represents that even though things may be brought to light, there still may be something that prevents us from realizing everything.

Blog post #2

Blog post #2

Image result for addiction

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Addiction is a complex concept.

It is not just related to drugs and alcohol, but to games and social media as well. Excessive smartphone use has been linked to sleep quality, depression and anxiety according to Dr. Schroder. For that week’s exercise we had to put our phones away while in class and record how we felt and what we actually missed when we were away from our phones. Now I am not one that is really effected by my need to be on social media, but I do use my phone to escape from social situations. The following week was with Dr. Vasslieva on how personality traits complemented our need and urges to be attached to something like social media, drugs and alcohol. There has been research about predicting how a child will progress and be at risk for addiction by analyzing their personality. It is surprisingly accurate. I have a very high level of negative thinking for my personality which puts me most at risk for overuse of opiates and alcohol. I have never used opiates, but alcohol I could definitely see myself abusing (if I wasn’t so poor). The latest topic was with Dr. Ross and she discussed SEL or Social and Emotional Learning. SEL is is important to be sucessful in the long run! Traits like empathy, decision making, and conflict resolution skill are necessary for the workplace and to have meaningful relationships. According to a meta-analysis by Joseph Durlak, only 29-45% of surveyed students had these social competencies. They then implemented a SEL program and saw an increase of 11% in academic performance (Durlak, 2011). Now if only all schools could implement some sort of strategy like that!



Blog Post #2-SOH

Blog Post #2-SOH

Image result for children graduating

I signed up for Science of Happiness expecting to learn the true meaning behind happiness. Fortunately, I was able and still is able to learn much more. So far, we have learned things from personality traits to understanding your own personal strengthens. From week 7 to 10, we have learned about emotional resilience, “getting to know yourself” and social emotional learning. These topics showed similarities and differences.  In emotional resilience, we are taught how social media in very influenced in people’s lives. Some people are more attached to their phones than most and must stay up to date on celebrities or events. Being on social media could also hurt someone’s ability to not make friends or even comparing their lives to someone’s life in a negative manner.

They maybe afraid to speak their mind and focus heavily on what others think or feel about them. In “getting to know yourself”, we were taught exactly what the title says. We took surveys for our personality traits and were able to identify what personality trait we favored the most. Most of the traits reflected on how we respond and react to certain things or events in our lives. The topic also discussed how people make decisions in situations. In social emotional learning (SEL), we were taught that there are certain social skills, like working well with others, are preferred over the other in our everyday lives. We were also taught having these skills will determine how your success in life.

For similarities, all three topics focused on why and how individuals respond to certain situations while others don’t. For example, if a teenager is having a hard time making friends in school, their “get away” maybe to surf the web or to join a popular website. On these website, they may interact or follow people they envy. This could cause them to compare themselves to others or putting themselves down. For differences, one topics goes in depth on comparing being addicted to your phone to being addicted to drugs. Topics from week 1 to 6 also showed similarities from week 7 to 10. The topics from 1 to 6 consisted of mindfulness, positive psychology, “focusing on strengths”, depression and mood states and genetic and happiness. These topics tied in because they still explain why and how people act or feel about certain things in their lives. Using the previous example, the teenager may show signs of depression (feeling useless) which could affect their mindset (no peacefulness) and direct their focus on weakness rather than their strengths.

Though I have been in this class for a few months, I have found myself trying to make corrections in my life. From these topics, I have gained a larger lesson that I have a lot of growing up to do. I needed to understand why and how I react and response to situations and people. I plan on changing how I handle negative situation, incorporate mindfulness in to my everyday life and to develop the skills to forgive people genuinely. The image I have decide to use represents knowledge and growth. The image is showing young children who are graduating into the next level in their lives. I personally feel that I am preparing myself more knowledge and growth towards my graduation into my new my life. I already have plenty of resources to help get me started . . . I might as well give it a try.


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SOH Blog Post #2

SOH Blog Post #2

Nina Schroeder covered week seven, teaching the class about emotional resilience in the digital age. I really enjoyed her topic because it is prevalent, and many people do not realize how social media, phones, or technology in general may be affecting them. Dr. Vassileva covered week nine, and talked about “getting to know yourself” regarding personality traits. I liked that she was able to provide the class with a lot of studies regarding personality traits, and how certain personality traits were related to substance use/other problems. Week ten was taught by Dr. Ross, and covered social and emotional learning. It was interesting to look at research she had done personally regarding social/emotional learning in the classroom. Overall, these topics heavily overlapped with each other.

I think Dr. Vassileva’s lectures should have come before Ms. Schroeder’s because they provided a good basis of information for her lectures as well as Dr. Ross’ lectures. I was able to relate the information regarding personality traits to emotional resilience easily. One of the biggest overlaps that I saw was that the sensation-seeking trait related a lot to people seeking out “comfort” in social media. Those who have a high sensation-seeking trait have a boredom susceptibility, which relates to picking up a phone for no specific reason and aimlessly looking through social media. The trait also encompasses a need for stimulation. I related this to when we talked about how some people are so engulfed in social media because they are always looking for that next “like” on Facebook or Instagram. When someone sees a “like”, their dopamine levels rise and their brains have been stimulated.

I related personality traits to SEL in that SEL was able to show outcomes far down the road regarding fewer conduct problems and drug use. People have certain personality traits that may make them more susceptible to using drugs, but I believe that social and emotional learning at an early age could be able to deter one from using. If SEL were to be incorporated everywhere, I think we would see a huge decline in drug use/conduct problems overall.

Content from weeks one through six was helpful in understanding these past few weeks because I had a basic understanding of mindfulness, genetics, mood states, etc. that served as a good background for information that was based off of a lot of research. I found myself being able to connect content from the first few weeks to weeks seven through ten.

Overall, the biggest take away for me from these past ten weeks is just that there is so much that one can do to increase mindfulness and happiness. For example, focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. I really enjoyed taking the strengths survey during week four because it allowed me to focus more on what I am “good” at rather than my weaknesses. Another example would be Dr. Ross’ lectures on social and emotional learning. There are so many ways for schools to incorporate SEL into curriculum so that students have tools to focus on mindfulness and express their emotions.

One change that I have been actively trying to do is to put my phone away at least an hour before bedtime. I did not realize how much of an impact looking at a screen before bedtime effected healthy sleep. My inspiration for this was the statistic that 30% of college students consider sleep issues a major stressor (Schroeder). It helped me to see that there’s a decent amount of other students out there that also have trouble sleeping at night like I do. It is a lot harder than I thought to put my phone away, but when I have been able to do it, I have noticed that I fall asleep easier.

The image that I included relates to Ms. Schroeder’s lectures on emotional resilience. I chose this image particularly because she had covered how looking at a screen can effect sleep. It relates to my blog post because I talked about how I have been actively trying to put my phone away an hour before bedtime to help me sleep better.

Blog #2: Testing My Happiness on a Scale of 1 to infinity

Blog #2: Testing My Happiness on a Scale of 1 to infinity

The image had the words from the song “Juicy” by Notorious BIG. When I listen to this song, I think about when I was in a place that is below rock bottom, and eventually getting so tired of being there that I clawed and fought my way out. In the song Biggie describes what his life was like before he was famous, what he had to do to get out of that situation and into a better one. Every tool I have learned in this class has helped me learn more about myself, how I see the world and given me some tools to better myself.

Three topics we discussed in class these past few weeks were: Emotional resilience in the digital age, Substance use risk profile (SURPs), and The Social and Emotional Learning Program (SEL). Emotional resilience in the digital age explored research studies that concluded that increased use of technology increases anxiety, decreases self-efficacy and self confidence. The Substance Use Risk Profile (SURPs) is a questionnaire that measures impulsivity, sensation-seeking behavior, and anxiety sensitivity in order to map out one’s proclivity for substance abuse and the type of substances one would gravitate towards. For example, I scored low in impulsivity, and medium in all the other categories. I was surprised that my impulsivity score was so low, but I was also excited to see progress. The third topic we covered, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), was a program done in grades K-12 all over the world. I noticed the focus of their program was to help kids get in touch with their emotions and express these emotions in a healthy way. Each program is different in their pathways to attaining those goals. For example, some programs have the kids do mindfulness practices, work on their communication skills, or do a daily emotional check-in.

Some of the common ties I noticed across these topics was the focus on the proclivity for risky behavior, instability, anxiety, decreased emotional resilience (like self-efficacy), and identifying how mood influences one’s outlook on life.

The topics covered from blog #1 were: Mindfulness, VIA, Depression & Anxiety (mood states), Genetics & Happiness, and the Flourishing Scale. From these topics, I learned ways to check in, notice when I’m struggling, and how the environment, my genetics and my outlook on life affect my wellbeing. I also gained tools to do something about it (e.g. meditation, stop and think before I act, and work on my strengths). Blog #1 topics were the foundation for what I learned these past few weeks because I can draw a common thread…and by “common” I mean complex af. I have learned how much the complexity of the environment and genetics can lend a boot to how I deal with my life and acquire happiness. The larger lesson I have learned so far are tools to check in (e.g. flourishing scale) when I notice I’m annoyed.

One change I have made is checking in with myself more often. I also noticed I was using my phone to look busy during uncomfortable situations or when I always felt uncomfortable when I didn’t have my phone in my hand. So I decreased my phone usage and put it somewhere where I didn’t see it when I wasn’t using it.

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Campbell Weis: SOH Blog Post #2

Campbell Weis: SOH Blog Post #2

Image result for letting go of negative thinking

With weeks 7-10  underway, I feel like I have a better understanding on the realm surrounding positive psychology. I believe the information that we’ve gathered in the past couple of weeks has really taught me about myself, and showed me my strengths and weaknesses, and how to apply these skills in a professional working environment. In the first couple weeks of this class we learned about the basic information regarding Mindfulness and certain ways we can work towards keeping ourselves happy. Now as we are ending the course we are digging deeper and understanding how our emotions and impulsive choices can affect us in the long run. We started off weeks 7-10 by discussing romantic relationships as well as getting to know your inner self. We can use the different acts of Mindfulness to accept our inner selves and set improvement where it might be needed. This class has taught me that its extremely important to live in the moment, and that its never to late to make a change in trying to improve your well being. I tend to live in the past, overthinking & over analyzing my decisions and choices. I’m planning on working towards letting silly decisions go in order to lessen my anxiety and bettering my own mental state. The photo for this blog is expressing how I want to work towards letting go of my familiar way of negative thinking, and gain a more positive outlook.

Link for photo:….0…1ac.1.64.img..2.30.885.0..0j35i39k1.0.4efR-itLVEU#imgrc=UazcrdYGSpwQmM:

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2

I have found that emotional resilience, knowing yourself, substance abuse traits, and social emotional learning are all deeply rooted in one another. Social emotional learning is important in knowing yourself. Knowing yourself and is crucial in knowing substance abuse traits. And emotional resilience is important in overcoming  substance abuse. I would say an overarching theme that ties these threads together is awareness. I think a lot of people overlook the importance of just simply being aware . Being aware of yourself, how likely you are to become addicted to something, and being aware of how you react to all of these things is vital in leading a healthy, functional life. Some can also say that being aware is the same thing or similar to being mindful. We have learned about the power of mindfulness a lot in the past few weeks, I think it is the strongest things that can change a person and affect their behaviour.


Another similarity  is between emotional resilience in the digital age and substance abuse. In many articles, and even in the lecture Nina Schroder gave us a few weeks ago, there is a strong closeness between being addicted to drugs and alcohol and being addicted to your cell phone and/or technology. Technology and social media releases endorphins just like drugs and alcohol do. They release positive waves in your brain, so they make you want to continue using technology. That same thing happens with drugs and alcohol. It’s interesting because in our group discussions we were also comparing the idea of “big pharma” and apple/google/big digital companies. Both corporations benefit from our endorphins being released because that means we will be coming back for more, more antidepressants, more opioids, more apps, more cell phone data. The more we come back the more money they make. I also think that is one reason America is such an unhappy country. America, nicknamed “Prozac nation” is centered completely around making money off of its members. I think antidepressants and unnecessary drugs can lead to addiction and too much technology is bad for you. I think it’s an interesting topic that I would love to learn more about, but as for now those are all the comparisons I can make.


In class these past 10 weeks, I really didn’t realize how much using social media can affect people’s moods and happiness. The statistics and data shown were shocking and kind of sad. I also learned the scientific effects of meditation on the brain, which was very interesting because I meditate myself, I just never knew the science behind it.


A change I have actively tried to make since taking this class was to not be on my phone so much, even when I want to. I have been trying really hard and although I slip up sometimes, I enjoy being the one observing my friends on their phones instead of sitting there with them enthralled with what is on that tiny screen. I make sure to treat having a conversation with someone the same as using the “first date rule” (to not have your phone out at dinner). Through this I have learned to be in the moment and to really listen to what the other person had to say. My ears have heard things in a different way, if you know what I mean.







I chose to include this photo to display the “handcuffs” that social media and phone usage have put on society to tie in with my paragraph stated above.

Blog #1

Blog #1

Happiness is a loaded word.

I have learned in the first couple weeks in SOH that so often teens are depressed, 1 out of 4! That is an incredible number! It would not be as common if we, as a nation, put more stake into “Positive Psychology”. I had never heard of the concept until this class, but it makes sense! Why not bolster someone’s self worth? Why wait till its too late to help someone? I have been depressed for as long as I can remember. I wish someone had used this method instead of just telling me to “get over it” and “what’s wrong with you?”.

I was not at all surprised to get my result from the Keyes’ scale, which categorized me as ‘languishing’.  Not at all surprised. I do not want to feel like this. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of my top strengths, which are honesty and perseverance. I knew they would be up there but not necessarily the top two. I have been brought up to ALWAYS tell the truth, even if it gets me in trouble. My honesty is a bit brutal at times; I am working on better ways to approach people.

I will keep learning as much as I can from the wonderful speakers in this class and I hope I can change my outlook on life.


image source-

Unlocking Happiness in the Classroom

Spreading Yourself Too Thin

Spreading Yourself Too Thin

So far, we’ve discussed many topics: Keyes’ Model (the continuum model of the relationship between mental illness and mental health), genetic influences on behavior (like which behavioral traits are hereditary), depression and anxiety and mood states (for example, we discussed the high co-morbidity between depression and anxiety), positive psychology (including the PERMA theory), and our personal strengths (like love, zest, gratitude, etc.).

I think the last of these was the most surprising to me because we took a test to determine our personal strengths. I did not expect my results to be what they were, yet, it was a fascinating insight.

And so far, these topics have started to become integrated into my everyday life. One thing that has caused this overlap are the topics discussed in my psychology courses. For example, this past week in a psychology course, we had to read some writings by Descartes. For those who are unfamiliar with this name, René Descartes is a French philosopher who is best known for his view of body and soul called Cartesian Dualism. While reading excerpts from The Passions of the Soul, I came across this quote in article 156,

“Those who are Generous in this way are naturally inclined to do great things, and yet to undertake nothing they do not feel themselves capable of.”

This particular quote stood out to me because I have always thought that self-awareness as well as self-regulation are critical to a healthy mindset. Along with this, just a few days earlier, we had discussed our personal strengths and how these strengths can become exhausted. When we take on challenges that we are not fit to accomplish, in the end we are ultimately just harming ourselves—sort of like the expression, “spreading yourself too thin,” because when someone overworks themselves, performance plummets.

An example I used to explain this concept for my other class involved the strength of love. When someone is extremely caring, they may open their heart to numerous people and attempt to help carry these people’s burdens. But when said person signs up for more than they are able to carry and become too invested in others’ problems, this loving heart, which was once an admirable strength, becomes a characteristic that is handicapping and restricts them from achieving his/her full potential.

In a nutshell, when you find a healthy balance in the virtues we are plentiful in while knowing how much we are capable of tackling, we are able to do attain grand accomplishments.

Flourishing With Flying Colors

Flourishing With Flying Colors


Mental health is something I deeply value. After fighting my way through my own various mental health problems (low self-esteem, depression, anxiety), it is a topic I find very important to talk about and also really rewarding! I love that it’s becoming more and more socially acceptable to speak openly about mental health and I pray our society will continue to learn how to value vulnerability and transparency as a strength, not a weakness.

In the past few weeks, we’ve discussed many topics I’m already familiar with. I’ve taken multiple psychology classes and am also involved in various organizations that seek to promote and cultivate positive mental health, so many of these concepts were not new to me. However, some of the models we’ve discussed have helped me string all of the previous information I’ve learned together and solidify it all into one over-arching idea. The Keyes’ model of complete mental health and flourishing, in my opinion, makes a lot more sense than any mental health model/common thought I’ve encountered before. I have ADHD, and up until two weeks ago before Jesus healed me, I had anxiety. Despite what the DSM might classify as mental health issues, I scored flourishing on the Keyes’ scale. I didn’t expect to score anything less because I know that my mental health is great; I love my life, take whatever comes my way in stride, and am completely content and at peace with myself and my circumstances. From the psychology I’ve been taught before, I think it would be assumed that because I have ADHD and previously had anxiety, I would have poor mental health, which certainly isn’t true. I really like the Keyes’ model because it acknowledges that genetic influence on mental health is only 5o% and intentional activity accounts for nearly the same amount at 40%. While books like the DSM might be great for diagnosing disorders, I don’t think the general thought within the psychology community should be that individuals with diagnosed problems are more likely to have bad mental health or less capable of living a life with positive mental health.

I enjoyed learning about positive psychology because it was never discussed in my previous psychology classes. While the concept seems like common sense (focusing on the good and not the bad makes us feel better? Duh!), it isn’t something I’ve seen taught extensively. The Wellbeing Theory (PERMA) features factors that can contribute to components of the Self-Determination Theory (autonomy, competency & relatedness) that is commonly accepted as the three main necessities an individual needs to be motivated. Focusing on our strengths, which we learned from taking the VIA Strengths Survey, can facilitate aspects of the PERMA model. Identifying our strengths will lead to positive emotion, can help us feel a sense of accomplishment, and may aid us in becoming better at engaging with others and maintaining meaningful relationships.

I’m a huge supporter of the practice of promoting our individual strengths instead of focusing our attention on what’s “wrong” with us. While I do think self-reflection is very important and I deeply appreciate acknowledging our weaknesses and consciously and intentionally working to get better and grow, I don’t think this necessary growth can be stimulated by drawing attention to the negatives first and approaching our weaknesses as problems that are hindering our well-being and mental health (because depending on the individual that may or may not be the case!)

The reason I scored flourishing on the Keyes’ scale is because of the intentional activity I’ve done to get there. For years, I’ve been working on my own mental health to make it as good as it can be. Learning about the different things we’ve covered in SOH has only affirmed my commitment to my own mental health and has given me tools to help others in cultivating their own.×300.jpg

Don’t think about it too much

Don’t think about it too much

I feel the lectures from the various professors throughout this course so far have had an invaluable impact on me. From the first week where we assessed our own mental health and my results came back  much lower than expected so when I was reading the Keye’s lecture I evaluated how my results compared with the dimensions that reflect a person with flourishing mental health. I think one of my weaker strengths that influenced my score is that I have yet to reach environmental mastery and also developing positive relations. I think I have a harder time with environmental mastery  because I have a hard time controlling my emotions when I am in certain social situations. In addition I think I have a problem with positive relationships because, I feel like many times in our live’s we have people that may be family who are capable of invoking extremely negative emotions within us and it’s harder to cope because we can’t just “cut” people like this out of our lives.  However, since we’ve learned about being mindful, and how we can implement breathing techniques into our daily lives to control our first instincts including emotions of rage, sadness and annoyance.

What I also found interesting from our class lecturer’s is that there is no gene for mental health or illness; in addition how much of our happiness is dependent on intentional acts. Which means that everyday there is a new opportunity to increase your own happiness exponentially by deliberately doing acts that make you happy whether its going to the gym, talking to your best friend on the phone for an hour everyday which I usually do to keep myself sane. I think by doing at least one thing to keep ourselves happy everyday we can avoid episodes of depression. Most importantly I think to increase our overall happiness we need to not overthink and just be comfortable with who we are especially our weaknesses or strengths that are harder for us to express naturally.

citation for meme: date accessed: 2/11/2018

SOH Blog Post #1

SOH Blog Post #1

These first few weeks of class have been eye opening. I really enjoy how the content builds upon itself, and relates to previous lectures. Being able to personally relate to the content has also been rewarding. The Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health set a basis for a lot of the following information we learned in class. I never had thought about categorizing mental health into “languishing” and “flourishing.” Putting mental health on a continuum rather than characterizing it as dualistic allows for a better understanding that there can be both the absence of mental illness and the presence of “flourishing” as well. This first lecture set the stage for the introduction of genetic influences on behavior. We learned that genetics play a large role in mental health/illness. One slide outlined this well by showing the percentage to which how heritable different psychiatric disorders are. For example, schizophrenia is seventy to eighty percent heritable. The Keyes’ scale was more of the big picture, while the lecture on genetic influences and genes can be seen as what makes up the Keyes’ scale.

Dr. Sood touched upon depression in teens, and how loneliness, lack of social support, family history, and early childhood trauma or abuse are just some of the factors that can lead to depression. An interesting point was that anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same “biological vulnerability.” The two often go hand in hand, and also can make the other worse. I found this topic to relate to the background of positive psychology. Post WWII, curing mental illness was such a huge focus. After the war, people were constantly dealing with anxiety and depression. In 2000, positive psychology re-focused and returned to its original three-part mission.

I think that the topic on cultivating our strengths was a good last lecture to include in this series of topics. After learning about the genetics behind a lot of things, such as anxiety, depression, and behavior, realizing that we each have our own strengths is kind of empowering. Yes, some of us are predisposed to negative “things,” but regardless, we each have character strengths.

The information that was most surprising to me was that love of learning was a lot of college student’s lowest strength. I just assumed that a majority of people in school would want to learn, and would enjoy learning. Attending college is the time for people to grow and learn so that when they graduate, they are able to succeed in a field they like. One thing I thought about is that the character strengths survey maybe could have worded questions differently to really tailor to what “love of learning” might encompass. A lot of the questions that I could see relating to love of learning were specific. I liked this activity a lot because it made me realize that characteristics don’t all necessarily need to be characterized into positive or negatives. It was a meaningful exercise because it was positive, and allowed me to look at how my strengths were ranked without characterizing anything as a weakness.

Blog #1

Blog #1

The topics of the first four weeks relate to each other in their common purpose to achieve course learning objectives. Readings and lecture material complimented one another in order to instill  fundamental working knowledge of the factors related to behavioral and emotional heath and how they contribute to overall wellbeing and mental health.

I found it disappointing (yet not all-together surprising) that “positive psychology” is not a more prominent pillar of psychology research. Before transferring VCU I had all the requirements for a minor in psychology from a small liberal arts school. I’ve taken classes such as “cognitive psychology,” “biological basis of behavior,” “health psychology,” and “evolutionary psychology.” Yet, I had never heard of the Keyes’ model of complete mental health. I did not know, for example, that mental illness and mental health exist as separate entities. My understanding of happiness evolved when I came to realize that mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness.

The material I found most interesting was the lecture on translational science. I have perviously considered making a career of science writing (science journalism) because I think a major shortcoming of the scientific community is the failure to disseminate research findings in a meaningful way. COBE, The Well, and library services all VCU resources that strive to improve students’ performance by integrating health perspectives/knowledge. I think it’s critical that society begins to recognize that mental disorders, such as major depression, are physiological phenomenons similar to diseases.

Adolescence is the age at which many genetic predispositions  most commonly emerge. I’m glad to be taking this course as a (super)senior because you can be retrospective of the undergraduate journey and reflect on my personal growth during this period. With age and counseling, I’ve become able to to better cope with/understand my mood states over the years. I’m eager to improve my well-being through the concepts we’re learning in this course..

I commented on the posts of Kyla Claiborne and Mosbysc.

Pranav’s Science of Happiness Blog Post #1

Pranav’s Science of Happiness Blog Post #1

Image Source:

Since I enrolled in science of happiness class this semester, I have gained a lot of knowledge regarding mental health and mental illness, genetic influences, depression and anxiety, positive psychology, and strengths and virtues. In Keyes’ model, we learned that absence of mental health, which is also called “languishing in life’ is as bad as major depressive episode. When I completed the Keyes flourishing scale, I found out that my categorical result was flourishing. Flourishing means a person has positive affect, avowed quality of life, self-acceptance, personal growth, and positive relation with others. Genetic influences on adolescent behavior, particularly also show marked changes across this developmental period. Therefore, adolescence can be languishing, flourishing or moderately mentally healthy during the developmental period. I was particularly interested in the depression and anxiety lecture because I have been studying about it since last semester, but every time I listen to new lectures I tend to find new information regarding it. If we want to help our friends or family who have depression then, we should listen to them, show empathy or concern so that they don’t feel alone. I was surprised when I learned that positive psychology was introduced in the year 2000, which means there are ongoing research and studies about it. Positive psychology helps us identify our strengths and motivates us make the most of our life.

In these first four weeks since taking this class, my perspective regarding psychology has changed completely. I am interested to learn more about the positive psychology and how I can improve my daily routines. Our weekly assignments have been helping me a lot regarding my daily life basis and how I can be economical with my time as well as enjoy my daily activities. After taking VIA strength survey my views about myself have changed because one of my top strengths was kindness; which means I have ethical characteristics and a concern for others. I also learned about PERMA and how it increases our wellbeing and helps us live flourishingly. I was engrossed by the twin studies and found out that genetics has a vital role in our happiness that is almost 50%. But we can improve our mental health everyday by exercising, performing yoga, meditation and keeping ourselves active. I am very excited for this semester as we will be doing more group activities and learning more about positive psychology.



SoH Blog #1- SPR 18

SoH Blog #1- SPR 18

I signed up for SoH course this semester so I can develop a better understanding of how and why happiness in humans and animals works. So far, the course is really interesting. One of my favorite topics we have discussed so far was on anxiety and panic attacks.  I was first introduced to anxiety and panic attacks when my mother began suffering from them.  In 2012, my family and I were going through financial times and my mother was extremely stressed out and overwhelmed. Because of this, my mother was required to take medication in addition to her high blood pressure medication, which she had been taking before I was born.  The first time  I seen my mother have one of her many episodes was when she was getting her hair washed in a salon. When she was in the process of laying her head back, she began to panic and wanted to be removed from the sink. I have never seen fear in my mother’s eyes before and I could not understand why or what was scaring her.  To keep her calm, I had to hold her hand and talk to her as she was getting her hair washed.  She was holding my hands extremely tight and telling me to not let her go. Learning more about panic attacks and anxiety from Dr. Sood was well needed. Thought I have been able to help her through it, I enjoy finding ways to improve her health and make her stronger again.

I have commented on jlmashburn and Alexia Collins blog posts

SOH  ’18: First Post

SOH ’18: First Post

Just from the first couple weeks of classes I already feel as if I’m getting more out of this class than I expected. Every lecture I learn something new about positive psychology, and I’m able to apply it to various situations throughout my daily life. The topics that we’ve learned so far in class relate to one another really well because they build on top of one another. The information from the previous lecture sets a nice foundation for the new concepts. The lectures and weekly assignments offer a clearer understanding of components that correlate  to our behavioral health and then show how they affect our overall mental health.

I’ve taken my fair share of psychology classes in the past, each offering valuable information and new concepts. Surprisingly, the first time I heard of The Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health was from this class.

I really enjoyed learning more about automatic thinking/thoughts. I wasn’t aware of all the different types of categories that automatic thoughts can be classified under ( Emotional reasoning, personalization, black & white thinking, etc.) I’ve dealt with the more negative side of automatic thinking due to previous mental issues surrounding depression and anxiety. They started to occur a lot more  frequently when I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of nine, and they still follow me around to this day. Our automatic thoughts indicate the way we choose to think and interpret certain situations, which in turn end up having a huge impact on how we choose to feel in that very moment. I really enjoyed learning helpful tips on how I can counteract these thoughts, but I also liked hearing my classmates experiences and how they choose to deal with their thoughts.

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SOH ’18 Reflection Blog #1

SOH ’18 Reflection Blog #1

The first four weeks of this course has been quite rewarding. After reading about the science of happiness course, I was very excited to learn about what it mean to have good mental health, as well as how to obtain and maintain it.  In such a short span of time I have already become aware of many  mental health related topics that I was not previously aware of and quite contrary to what I believed good mental health to be. Prior to receiving information from this course I believed that good mental health consisted of the absence  of mental illness and mainly described individuals who predominantly experienced happiness. I’ve now come to the understanding that good mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness, but rather how positive one feels about themselves, their relationships, and how they deal with the difficulties that may arise in their lives. This course has also given me very useful information in regards to the detection and treatment of depression and anxiety for myself and even my love ones.

Along with helpful information, this course has provided me with resources and activities, such as the keyes’ model and VIA assessment, to allow me to further learn about myself and my mental health. It was fairly refreshing to see the long list of strengths and qualities that I possess, considering how easy it is for me to focus on weaknesses. Lastly, of the many topics and activities covered in this course thus far, my favorite would have to be the significant impact that positive psychology has on improving mental health. Throughout my life, my mother has always stressed to me how my thoughts will eventually result in my actions. Being that I am not the most optimistic person, this presented a big problem for me, even though I did not pay much attention to it. However, after watching the “happy secret to better work” TED talk by Shawn Achor, and hearing his scientific observations , I’ve come to realize how true that concept is and accurate my mother has been. Furthermore, this video has inspired me to improve my way of thinking by completing his suggested to-do-list for positive thinking, such as acts of kindness, meditating, etc.

So far I am very content with the content that is being provided through this course and I look forward to learning much more!


Reflections & Connections: Blog Post One

Reflections & Connections: Blog Post One

My first few weeks of “UNIV 391: The Science of Happiness” have exceeded my expectations for the course.   This is not to say that I had low expectations for the course; on the contrary, I entered this course with a great deal of optimism and curiosity.  What could a course on “The Science of Happiness” really be about?  Shorty after the first class meetings, I found my interest in the course reaffirmed.  There have already been several topics that have both drawn new interest and helped me to make connections with other facets of my life.

Such a connection was made early in the course when we were presented with information about how much we are effected by our genetic makeup, in contrast to our environment.  As an assignment we were to compose a family tree of a specific trait or characteristic and trace it back through generations.  It was interesting for me to find how common, or uncommon, a specific trait was among my family; as well as to try to figure out whether it was because of genetics, environment, or other factors.  This was insightful for me, as I found that there was a unique yet indistinguishable pattern running in my family, of which I am a sort of “beneficiary”.   I believe that another valuable connection was made while reviewing both positive psychology and character traits.  I was able to perhaps step back and, in a kind of out-of-body way, assess myself and deepen my understanding of why I may take certain actions.

I could also make connections in the presented material itself.  I could see a direct relationship between the positive psychology practices (PERMA) and how they could be used to aid depression.  Also valuable to me was the information on depression itself.  I was surprised at the different classifications, which I then used in reflection of certain patterns in both myself and my family.  During this reflection, I reminded myself of the concept of nature vs. nurture, which caused me to find slight conflict.  I questioned whether the experiences of my family, which had depression-like effects, could have possibly been a result of being reared (nurtured) in a way as to depress emotions or feelings (a direct effect from the environment).  Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to the rest of the semester and the developments that I will make while applying the information to myself and those around me.





Blog Post #1

Blog Post #1

In the first six weeks of class we learned a lot of helpful things that can help us with trying to live our best lives. When I took the Keyes’ Flourishing Scale test, I found out that I was flourishing which was an eye opener for me because to be honest I felt like I was more so languishing. The model helped me see that I am doing more than just going along in life without a real purpose; I matter. This also relates to what we learned recently about ways to use our strengths and knowing that there is no such thing as weaknesses, only strengths that we do not use as much. That was new and surprising to me. Taking the VIA survey was really cool and I was shocked to see what my top 5 strengths were.

I always knew that genetics had some influences on behavior, but Dr. Dick confirmed that even more for me. It is kind of scary because alcoholism has had an impact on my family, but most of my family members have recognized that it is a problem and have become “social drinkers” which is a lot better. I stay away from alcohol because it is nasty and I prefer whine Lol. I refuse to let alcoholism become a part of who I am, or will be in the future.

By doing the weekly exercises, I have a learned more about myself than I’ve known in a while. I am starting to use the strategies that I’ve learned in this class to be a happier me! I will live my best life, that’s that Eudemonic happiness!!


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Catherine Kiesel’s Blog Post #1 SOH Spring 18

Catherine Kiesel’s Blog Post #1 SOH Spring 18

In our first few weeks of classes, we have learned a lot. With the Keyes’ Model of Mental Health, we learned that mental health and mental illness are not the same thing. We also learned that it is possible to be both mentally ill and flourishing, which I personally found interesting. I did not know there was a difference between being mentally ill and being mentally unhealthy. It turns out that being mentally ill is actually a disease and an imbalance of your brain, whereas being mentally unhealthy is just a way of being–and you can also cure being mentally unhealthy with exercises such as yoga, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. I thought that was very interesting.



With this knowledge we then learned about the genetic influences of behavior in the next week with Danielle Dick. In this lesson, we learned the difference between the effects of nurture vs. nature and came to the conclusion that behavior was affected by both nurture AND nature. We found that happiness, depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, etc. all come from a combination of both your genes/genetic predisposition and the environment you live in. I found it interesting and realized in this class that you can be “disposed” toward something and change the likelihood that it will actually happen through environmental changes. That part makes me feel happy that there is a chance for people who have the genes for mental illness can change their outcome of their life through their environment.

That brings me to what I found the most interesting subject we’ve learned throughout these weeks, and that is the mental illness section. In today’s world, I have heard a lot about depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. I have friends and family who have it, and I have lost quite a few people I am close to due to depression and mood disorders. However, I have never experienced these mental illnesses myself, so it has always been confusing to me. I have never understood why people with depression and anxiety are crippled sometimes, and I hate to admit it, but in the past I have been one of those people that thinks “why can’t they just be happy?”. But this section has made me realize that mental illness is not always something you can snap out of. I thought it was interesting to hear about the forms of treatment there are for these illnesses and realized there’s much more than medication to treat these things, like therapy and counseling and ketamine infusion. This section definitely changed the way I think about mental illness now.

Positive psychology was a very cool topic to learn about. I thought the concept of PERMA was intriguing and a organized way to put your positive thoughts together. The P in PERMA stands for positive emotion, the E for engagement, R for relationships, M for meaning, and A for accomplishment. I think that having all of these ideals at hand and using them in your everyday life is a great way to jump start positive thinking.

The section of cultivating our strengths I found to be a great interactive way to reinforce confidence and moral in the class. I thought it was interesting in the way that Professor Walsh said she realized that social work was a “strengths-centered field”, because that;’s what I am realizing about my field (Public Relations)– I am realizing that in addition to being able to sell myself and recognizing my own strengths, I MUST realize my clients strengths and sell those as well. It was kind of a “mind-blown” moment when I realized this. I also think the activity we did on Friday’s class helped us to connect with other classmates in the room and that was super fun and a great way to get to know our classmates and find similarities with people we wouldn’t originally think we would have similarities between.

1- Thoughts on the Single Perspective

All of the topics we discussed share the same goal: to find out what impacts our happiness, how to increase our happiness while preventing/working with mental illness. The Keyes’ model of flourishing differs from the other topics because it surveys how mental health and mental illness can affect whether or not we are living life to the fullest (flourishing), bobbing along (experiencing flow) or experiencing little/no happiness (languishing). Lyubomirsky’s model shows how genetics only affects 50% of our happiness and rest is impacted by our intentions and life circumstances. Lyubomirsky’s model is different because it adds the piece about what we can do to aid in the pursuit of our happiness, which is very subjective. Depression, anxiety and mood states can be taken into account when looking at both models. They can serve as perfect examples of how genetics plays a role in how our body responds to them and how each individual reacts or deals with having these illnesses and how their happiness is affected as a result. Positive psychology relates to these topics because it moves past “person is burdened by illness, therefore give them treatment” and instead focuses on how to identify the strengths of the individual, then use those strengths to help the person thrive, regardless of any preexisting conditions. The next step is to use those strengths in everyday life to maximize happiness in the short term and the long term to ultimately create a meaningful life.

On the scale of “not surprised” to “WHOA!”, I would say very close to not surprised by any of these topics. All I could think was why all this research had the background of mental illness like PTSD, anxiety and depression, yet NO WHERE did these scientists and psychologists talk about how race impacts the prevalence of illness and happiness. Granted, people of color are still disenfranchised today, yet all of these studies are fairly recent. Keyes model is from 2002, Seligman has been publishing on positive psychology since the 90s, and Lyubomirsky’s model was presented in the 2000s. I find this disappointing and to put it mildly –lacking, so instead of blogging about the absence of this pertinent information, I decided to explore studies that looked at race as a factor. A book I found compiled several studies that explored different races and measured different characteristics that encouraged happiness and a meaningful life. One article I read looked at Hispanic and Latino communities. The characteristic that stood out to me was family-oriented values how it related to religiosity/spirituality. Family relations are paramount and there is a collectivist mindset that teaches that the needs of the family as a whole precede the individual’s needs and they found that these family oriented values were positively associated with higher self-esteem, well-being, life purpose, life satisfaction and happiness. Religiosity is an example of a culture specific strength. “Religiosity” is universal in that those who participate have a belief in a higher power. Pargament found that compared to non-hispanic whites, African Americans and Hispanics that said religion was integrated into their life on a regular basis tended to have lower rates of psychological distress. Jeglic et. al pointed out that even if  there is a universal set of positive characteristics that exists across cultures, these characteristics can and do manifest themselves differently and mean different things depending on the culture and the context.

The new information I learned is more helpful because it looked at how happiness is defined and measured within different cultures. It provided more context and shared more than just the dominant white, middle to upper class person’s perspective, their community values, and  family structure. There is nothing universal about how happiness in defined cross-culturally. Overall, the topics covered have also been useful as a reminder for me to check in with myself. For example, if I cannot focus, I take a second to figure out why. Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Based off of my answer, I can come up with solutions. So if I’m hungry, I will go eat. The last thing I want to do is get hangry and take it out on an innocent bystander!


book used:

Chang, Edward C. (Ed); Downey, Christina A. (Ed); Hirsch, Jameson K. (Ed); Lin, Natalie J. (Ed). (2016). Positive psychology in racial and ethnic groups: Theory, research, and practice. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. xiii 339 pp., 

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wrap up

wrap up

The last few weeks of this course were spent mostly focused on our final projects, which were supposed to challenge us and force us to reflect back on all the topics we’ve covered in this class. I’ll admit, when this project was first introduced I was not too fond of it; a  group project where the instructions were basically “do anything that relates to this class”. However, my opinion of the projects drastically changed when groups began presenting and explaining theirs. It was inspiring to see all the creativity and innovation that had gone into what some groups did. It also got me feeling a little sentimental about the end of this course as groups mentioned past lectures and why they chose the topic that they did. While the topics ranged from mindfulness to substance abuse the projects themselves were similar because they all tried to spread a little bit of this class out across campus and Richmond.

Watching the presentations gave me a chance to reflect back on the class and everything I’m taking away from it. I know I am a more self-aware and positive person because of this course. Everything around us contributes to our overall wellbeing and then in turn our behaviors and attitudes effects the wellbeing of those we interact with. Just one small act of kindness or one compliment causes a ripple effect that can spread across a campus, city, and even the world. It’s this attitude that Science of Happiness has taught me and I am so grateful for it.

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

Throughout the entire semester in this class we have learned the Science of Happiness , and all of it’s benefits and how happiness is the best medicine for many if not most of the problems we face. From defining the science of happiness to academic well being we have learned how to be happy and many ways to promote and foster happiness to those around us. Each lecture , reading and assignment were thought out in a way that allowed each of them to be placed a top each other like building blocks , for example the we learned about our strengths and virtues , depression and mood states then anxiety disorders. Each of those topics reinforced the other , which was the trend throughout the entire class. Learning our strengths and virtues allowed to be able to combat the horrors that come with depression and anxiety disorders.

The major lessons that I learned from this class was mindfulness and how to present in the current moment , and to not stress about the problems that we may ensue down the road. Taking mindfulness and practicing it daily has helped me out personally , because I suffered with anxiety and all of it’s symptoms and it was hard for me to not worry or stress about the problems in the future until I began to implement mindfulness into my routine daily. With each mindfulness exercise we did in class I gained more and more happiness , to me it was something very tiny and simple but , It gave me something gave me something so grand and that my happiness and I am to live with it daily.

Each topic discussed in class was a tremendous help to and even those whom I shared it with. Every topic was vital and applicable to ones everyday life. The two that I gravitated towards the most were positive psychology and mindfulness. With my deeper knowledge and understanding of both of them I have reaped so many of the benefits , and apply the skills needed to use them to my daily life. In school and in work I practice positive psychology and no matter what I may be facing I try to remain positive. With the stressors that ensue with work and school mindfulness exercises and positive thinking really help me stay grounded and also keep my happiness.

I brought each of these important factors into my life that promote and foster happiness , by simply adjusting my attitude and way of thinking which could and sometimes still can be very pessimistic. With the change from pessimism to more  positivity I have seen the change for the better in my mood and over all well being. I plan to share this with others , so they to can experience more happiness. That will also help this whole way of thinking grow among other people. Though I have been practicing this for a while it has still been I problem for me to stop stressing , and it is something I must work on and find something combat the best. Simply because it hinders me from my happiness and my success.

All of friends , family and followers have enjoyed every social media post that I have posted and they have personally seen the change in me. Knowing that the break is coming they are excited for me to share the knowledge that I know about the science of happiness with them , so they can implement the things they have read about via my social media in action in their own lives. I have also passed many of the things have learned on to my friends and they to have shared the skill and techniques. Soon all will that happiness is the best medicine.