Imagine what your life would be like if you were flourishing in all elements of PERMA.
The change from living in a home that I have known for the last 8 years, with a family that I have had for 18 years, to being alone in a big city has impacted me in ways that I never had imagined. With this change comes added responsibilities, stress, and anxiety. It is precisely at this time in my life that I want to focus on flourishing in each element of PERMA.
To me, positive emotion reflects the idea of a small escape from the problems in our lives. For positive emotion I would envision myself taking time out of my day to do things that make me feel good. In common language I would take “me time”, to do things that give me pleasure without any real commitment. Specifically, I would take time to go to the gym everyday to release stress and get a rush of endorphins. Also, I would try and take 30 minutes at the end of my day to listen to music, or watch my favorite television series. These two activities are ways I can create positive emotion in my life, and use them as a sort of escape from whatever else might be going on.
While in most elements of PERMA one can actively seek to excel in them, engagement posses a sort of irony. The main idea that I got from engagement was the idea that after an activity one looks back and thinks something along the lines of “that was fun”. Thus, in order to truly flourish in engagement one cannot obsess over being engaged. For me, I hope that engagement comes about from clubs here at Georgetown. As these initial weeks provide opportunities to find communities and new passions, I hope that one grasps my interest enough to give me a place to be fully engaged. Another way that I see engagement working in my life is by trying to be fully present in each of my classes. By getting involved in class discussions and taking time before classes to clear my mind, I hope to be truly present in each of my courses.
Finding meaning is a task that I believe to be getting easier as I grow up. As my courses dive more specifically into my interests, I find my homework to be more and more meaningful to my goals. Besides academic work, I would like to see meaning work into my life through volunteer organizations. I really enjoy making impactful changes in my community, and through volunteer work I can find a true sense of meaning.
As I meet new people and make new friends, positive relationships include old and new relationships. As for my family and friends back home, I hope to continue to maintain a healthy relationships and stay in contact often. At Georgetown, I would be able to flourish in the element of positive relationships by spending time around a group of people with similar interests and values. Having a friend group that shares the same morals as me would be an important characteristic of having a positive relationship.
Accomplishments in my life right now would be more focused on recognizing the small wins. Small accomplishments such as being accepted to a club, finishing my work in a desired time frame, getting a good grade on a quiz, or winning a tennis match, would allow me to flourish in this element of PERMA. Setting smaller goals and thus reaching frequent accomplishments would allow me to win for winnings sake, and continue on the path of larger goals
The goal to increase flourishing in each element of PERMA is hard. However, by envisioning how my life would change if I flourished more in each element allows me to be cognizant of the work that needs to be done.
Reflect on a time when you observed flourishing in the face of adversity.
During junior year of high school I overloaded my schedule. I picked the hardest classes, the most time demanding clubs, and spent the rest of my time studying for standardized tests. It was the most important year of high school and the stress culminated quickly and intensely. Trying to stay focused on my goals, I blew off friends, family events, and sacrificed my overall physical health. I spent the day at school, stayed after for my clubs, went to tennis practice, and then spent the nights studying. It was not long before this lifestyle drained me.
During thanksgiving break I took time to reflect on the past few months. I had checked off a lot of my goals and I was on the way to accomplishing the rest, however I was extremely unhappy and constantly felt exhausted. I took the time to reorganize my schedule, figure out my priorities, and start fresh. Coming back from the break I focused first on my relationships. I spent more time with my family, and took breaks to go out with my friends. Building this support group was one of the best decisions that I made. Having a support group of close friends that were all going through the same experience made it a lot more tolerable. I began to feel more energized and happy to be able to count on them. It was comforting knowing that I had friends that I could call at four in the morning for help if something ever went wrong. Looking back, at this point in my life I was flourishing in the elements of relationships and engagement. I had a support group for the busy weeks, and during the weekends we would all go play tennis or kayak on the lake. It was during these moments that I felt truly present and I looked back on them with the feeling of “that was fun”.
Besides rebuilding these support groups I tried to do the things that made me happy just because they made me feel good. In retrospect, I began to flourish in positive emotion. I started to take time out of my day to relax and just sit back and listen to music. Some days I would slow down and try to take 30 minutes to watch TV, play with my dog, or play Xbox with my brother. Regardless of how small and short these activities were, they gave me a good break from the stresses of life, and allowed me to focus more on my work afterwards.
I say I was flourishing in the face of adversity in this part of my life because for students that want to go to prestigious universities such as Georgetown, junior year is crucial. Advice from many is to expect zero social life, countless all-nighters, and overall a very terrible year. It was hard to take a step back and prioritize my well-being, but in the end it allowed me not only to feel more content, but also do well in school. Sure, some days were bad, but overall these changes increased how I felt about life substantially.
Reflect on what it means to go to school at a Jesuit institution. What did you learn in the Jesuit Guide that you didn’t know before. How does the gratitude journal fit into all this?
When I decided to come to Georgetown, the fact that it was Jesuit had no influence on my decision. I knew that it was a Catholic university, however it did not mean much to me at the time. My knowledge of Catholic Universities was very limited, and my knowledge of the Jesuits was even more limited. My mother had to go back to school when we moved to the United States in order to complete her certification requirements. Thus, she attended Creighton University, a private Jesuit school in Omaha, Nebraska. She loved the values of the Jesuits and told my brother and I about them during our childhood. However, being so young a lot of the ideas she presented us went straight over our heads. When I toured Georgetown with my family she kept talking about her experience at a Jesuit university and how much she enjoyed their values. During admitted students weekend they talked about these values and I too became very interested. Regardless of this, the fact that it was a Jesuit school was not a big deciding factor for me.
Now that I am at Georgetown, the Jesuit values resonate with my a great deal. One of the things that I do not like about religion is that I feel like sometimes religious people will pray more than they act. I am more on the side of “God helps those who help themselves”. Thus, when we started reading the Jesuit Guide to almost everything, I really enjoyed the joke that is brought up about the different priests. In summary there are 3 priests in a basement and the lights go out. Two of the priests begin to pray for the lights to come back on, while the Jesuit goes on to fix the light. I really like this idea of religion being tied with education, and Jesuits being comfortable going out and actively making change.
Another important idea that I have taken from this book is that of the examen. I think that taking time to reflect is very important as it helps us grow closer in our faith, however it is also a great wellbeing practice. It has really allowed me to organize my thoughts, be thankful, and just relax for a little in order to stay more focused throughout the day. I have been doing the examen every once in a while, and it feels like an exercise that really encapsulates the overarching ideas we have learned in this course. During these moments of reflection I find a lot of peace in thinking about what I am grateful for. It is comforting to focus on the positives and to spend time thinking about what went well. In fact, the times that I have done the examen I have done the gratitude journal right after.
In terms of my personal religious life I like the ideas that Martin brings up about prayer. Some days I am in the mood to just pray and relax and destress, and I have found that listening to religious music or thinking about visuals has helped. On the other hand, if I feel like I need to pray intensely and really feel connected in my faith, then I will read a prayer over and over again. This, I now know is called lectio divina. It has helped to be able to categorize these different types of prayer.
What do you consider are the real takeaways from the chapter on humility and friendship?
Thinking about friendships I am drawn to the ideas that were presented during our discussion of PERMA. The reason that positive relationships are such a crucial part of wellbeing is because they are the foundation for all happiness. Areas like meaning and engagement are often times tied to other people. They begin to infiltrate every aspect of one’s life and play a critical role in wellbeing. Not only do friendships create this environment of love and positivity, but they also become a support system. Your friends become the people you care about the most and to paraphrase the research done by Harvard, people who have a friend they are comfortable calling in the middle of the night while they are crying are happier and live better lives. Friendships are built around compassion and as James Keenan says “compassion is the willingness to enter into the ‘chaos’ of another person’s life”(Martin 258). In short, they become family and this family becomes your lifeline. On the other hand, it is terrifying to think about how much trust is often put into the hands of friends. By playing such an impactful role in one’s life it is beyond horrific to think about how much damage they could cause or how different life without this support system would be. And unfortunately sometimes these friendships do end and a support system is taken from underneath you.
The framework that Martin lays out for healthy friendships is very concrete. Being rooted in humility and honesty is incredibly important. His focus on the humility is very interesting. Martin talks about the fact that friends will not solve all of our problems and you can’t solve all the problems of your friends, but he argues that recognizing this statement allows one to be there with friends and accept that while you may not be “powerful” enough to solve problems you can still be a support. Being humble and recognizing that you are not all “powerful” allows you to be in the chaos of another person’s life and be present and listen. This is often times the best solution. Furthering the idea of humility is the fact that friends fight. However, admitting one’s shortcomings and being humble is critical in nurturing healthy friendships. “In other words, you need to both apologize and forgive” (Martin 259). Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others is a practice rooted in humility; oftentimes through reconciliation friendships grow stronger. It is interesting to note that under this same framework of reconciliation Martin still has limits. He says that “almost always people have forgiven me and the friendship has grown stronger. But on one or two occasions, the person has not. Here I find it helpful to pray for the person and always be open to reconciliation, but also remember, once again, that just as I cannot force another person to love or even like me, I cannot force another person’s forgiveness” (259). In other words, while you can strive to forgive and be forgiven, at a certain point it is just out of your hands.
Honesty is important in friendships. I think that while the points that Martin makes are important, they are not anything special. Everyone is aware that honesty is fundamental for a healthy friendship. What really caught my interest, and ties in nicely with the idea of looking at the positive aspects of one’s life is gratitude. Martin says that friendships are something to be grateful for and often times when we think about happy moments or find peace during a stressful day it is in the context of friends. I really liked the statement Martin’s friends gives about friendships; “When I think about friendship, the first thing that comes to mind is finding God in all things” (264). As mentioned before friendships are a core part of wellbeing and learning how to keep them healthy is critical.
Why is getting enough sleep so challenging? What is your “sleep hygiene”? Has it changed since you got to college? What do you notice about yourself depending on how much sleep you got? Would you like to change anything about your sleep habits?
I think that it is hard to get enough sleep with all of the work that we are expected to do. Not only do we have to read, study, and do homework, but being in a new environment we also have to find people to hang out with and spend time creating friendships. In doing this, sacrifices need to be made and the one that falls at the bottom of our list of priorities is sleep. With the competitive culture at Georgetown it is oddly considered that “sleep is for the weak”. There is a false belief that the less sleep you get the better your grades will be or the more successful you will be. Also, when we finally get to bed or make it back to our dorm early, often times we spend this time watching a show or playing on our phone and before we know it an hour or two have passed.
Despite all of this I have found myself getting more sleep on average than I did in high school. Having to go to school for 8 hours a day, a lot of that time was wasted. Now, I feel that I can organize myself better and use my time more effectively. My sleep hygiene currently consists of going to bed between 11:30pm-1am and waking up between 8am-9am. I have found that I feel more rested throughout the day and am able to focus more on my work. Once or twice a week I find myself staying up very very late. On these days I find that the later it gets, the harder it is to work and the longer it takes me to finish my work. Apart from this, the day after is brutal. I typically wake up with a small headache, I slump to my morning class, I struggle to keep my eyes open, and overall my mood changes. I was so used to being sleep deprived during high school that I am just now starting to truly recognize the value of sleep.
I would like to start going to bed and waking up a little earlier. Even just going to bed at 11:30pm and waking up at 7:30am would give me time to eat breakfast before class, go to the gym, or get some work done before class. I would also like to narrow the time frame I go to bed at. In other words, I would like to start going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Even on the weekends I would like to wake up at a reasonable time. Some Saturday or Sunday mornings I wake up past 11am and feel that I have wasted my entire day. Of course I like to sleep in during the weekends, but I think that waking up around 10 am will help me feel more productive during the weekend. Finally, the most important habit that I would like to change or develop concerns my phone. I would want to stop using my phone before going to bed, and I want to break the habit of checking my phone the second that I wake up. I have read a lot of studies concerning the negative effects of blue light before bed, and I think that developing a habit of leaving my phone on my desk rather than right by my bed will allow me to get a more restful sleep.
What did you learn about yourself and others from the emotional intelligence assessments?
According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people”. I think that this is an incredibly important skill to have. For me, it is analogous to grit. I feel that emotional intelligence is sort of like emotional grit. It is the ability to control your feelings and be mentally strong enough to think rationally and harness your emotions in positive ways. More so, I think that while your emotional intelligence and your intelligence quotient are complements to each other, that emotional intelligence is more important. No matter how intelligent you may be, not being able to manage your emotions and harness them in positive ways is an extreme deterrent to success.
For me, I realize that emotional intelligence manifests itself strongly when I am doing homework that I do not have any passion for. It is during these moments that my mind wanders into fantasies or into overthinking everything around me, and before I know it 30 minutes have passed and I have not even made a dent in the amount of work that needs to get done. Emotional intelligence is key in situations like these. It is being aware that at this moment in time all of your emotions should be focused on doing well on this assignment, because thinking about those other worries will not get accomplish anything. This is a constant struggle in trying to get work done and not falling into the trap of procrastination.
Another thing that I have learned from emotional intelligence as it relates to my life is during stress filled moments. Specifically in school, I have seen the values of emotional intelligence. When life gets stressful or a bad grade comes back often times my mind goes into a spiral of bad thoughts, eventually leading to an over exaggerated conclusion. During times like this it is important to be aware of my emotions, think logically, and manage them correctly. This could be in the form of using my stress and adrenaline to create a plan to do better, rather than using my stress and adrenaline to put me in a stress filled state.
In terms of emotional intelligence as it relates to other people, I think that it is a very important, yet innate, skill set. I find this skill to be very innate within everyone. Friendships are built around this. When you are stressed or having a rough time, you go to your friends to cheer you up or calm you down and vice versa. And when this happens you tacitly follow the same steps laid out in the definition of emotional intelligence. You become aware of their emotions, you help them think rationally, and then you manage their emotions into something more productive. It is important because cheering someone up or calming someone down is crucial to well-being. Often times going to talk to friends or family is the only place that one can find solace. Especially in a state of extreme sadness or stress, oftentimes our judgement is fogged and we cannot think rationally. It is up to our friends or family, then, to guide us back into rational thought.
Relationships are so important. Yet they can be challenging. When reflecting on the content from this week, what stood out for you?
For this week, the most impactful reading for me was the article titled “How Friendships Change in Adulthood” by Julie Beck. Beck observes how friendships change as people grow up and what causes friendships to remain tight. Transitioning into college, I think that Beck makes a lot of important observations that are applicable to my life right now. She talks about our priorities and how friends fall at the bottom of our relationship hierarchy. She also mentions that as young people move, friendships remain supportive but change because of distance. Going away to college is the first time this type of change is typically seen in someone’s life.
Most of my friends have spread out all over the world. From Mexico City, to London, to Austin, to New York, the majority of my friends have been scattered all over the globe. Naturally, this means that our friendships have drastically shifted. Knowing that this separation was coming, my friend group and I spent almost the entire summer with each other. Getting breakfast, traveling during the day, and having long talks at night we rarely spent time apart. Upon going to college we went from seeing each other almost 24/7 to being in completely different time zones. So currently, we are in this transitioning period of keeping old friends and making new friends. Beck describes the process of keeping important old friendships while making new ones as the healthiest choice when moving away or growing up.
I really liked her article because she does not sugar coat anything. She illustrates the changes of growing up and the difficulties that come from it. She mentions how sad it is to know that people who were once incredibly important in your life may now almost be a stranger to you. She says that social media may be the only reason you are still “friends” with someone who you used to be close with a long time ago. However, she also says that the friendships that are truly meaningful will change as we transition into adulthood, but will not fade away.
I also really like the point she makes about college friendships. She mentions that friendships from our childhood were based on who lived around us and were with people we liked to have fun with. However, these friendships were really just important in “discovering [our] identity, and learning what it means to be intimate” (Beck). As we transition into college, Beck argues, that our identities are much more solidified and we are more secure in who we are. This creates more meaningful relationships with people that genuinely relate to.
Overall, I think that relationships are an extremely important topic to talk about during this transition. It is important to realize how friendships are going to change. I think that it is very applicable to my life because there are friends from back home that I want to keep close, yet I am cognizant of how things are going to change. As sad as the realization of leaving friends behind may be, the things that come from growing up are better.
Do you know people who use drugs to get an extra “edge”? Do you think that it is “cheating” to use drugs to keep you up so you can get more work done?
In high school I knew a lot of people that took study drugs very often. They would take Adderall or Vyvanse on a weekly or daily basis. Especially during junior year when everyone was stressed about college applications or standardized tests, it seemed as if almost everyone was on one form of a study drug. At Georgetown I have not been exposed to many people who take it. I have heard about it a little, but no where near to the extent that I saw it in high school. It might be that it is not as prevalent here or, perhaps, people are still new to the school and have not been as open about their use.
Personally, I do not think that taking study drugs is cheating. I really enjoyed the documentary, because I think it did not shy away from the “benefits” of adderall. Multiple times they talked about the increase focus that people feel when they take adderall and how much more productive they are. Very little did they talk about the physical harm that comes about from adderall. However, in concluding the documentary they did talk about the psychological side effects of adderall. Primarily, they mentioned that adderall essentially takes your personality away from you. Most of the people they interviewed mentioned that when they were on adderall they did not feel as funny or at peace with themselves. In short, adderall makes you more productive at the expense of your identity. To me, adderall may not be cheating, however this increase productivity at the expense of psychological change is not worth it.
When I think about the morals of study drugs I think about the Beatles. I would argue that most people worldwide like the Beatles or at least are familiar with the band. They often times did LSD in order to feel more creative when writing their music. Although the comparison has some flaws, both the students and the Beatles take one substance or another to help them with their work. Similarly, albeit much worse, this boost of creativity from LSD comes at the expense of potential psychological harm.
Overall, I do not think that taking adderall is a form of cheating, however I do think that the harms that come from it are extremely dangerous. As adderall usage continues to increase, more students feel the need to take it in order to stay on par with their companions. I strongly believe that this culture needs to change. Adderall should be prescribed much less and the knowledge of the dependency and harms of it should be more widespread.
What was the major takeaway for you from Prof. Comer’s talk? What can you do to make sure you manage your money well — once you start making some!
I was very shocked when Professor Comer mentioned that it is not just people that struggle to make ends meet that often go bankrupt. In fact, many times it is those who have millions of dollars that often end up filing for bankruptcy. Professor Comer mentioned that a big reason for this was due to the fact that people with a lot of money often times underestimate how much products truly cost. This is to say, they do not fully comprehend the amount of money that they will end up paying for things that they finance. Lottery winners are often times subject to this type of bankruptcy because they spend a lot of money very quickly without putting much thought into it. They may buy a house or a car that is listed at one million dollars, however based on their financing options they end up paying almost twice that amount. When big purchases like this are made they can easily drive someone to bankruptcy. I found it very interesting to see how Professor Comer used specific examples to show just how high prices can go up based on seemingly low APRs. And it is not just houses or cars that this is seen in; the website he showed us for renting products until you pay them off as well as the short term loans, were very impactful. At face value they look like very solid deals, however when you truly understand how much you end up paying you quickly realize how much the negatives outweigh the positives.
Based on this, the biggest lesson that I took from Professor Comer’s talk was to organize myself well. I think that it is very important to stay organized with my finances and be able to draw up a concrete budget. I was able to create a weekly budget for myself and it is something that I want to keep updating as my financial situation changes over time. Being organized with how much money is coming in and how much money you can safely spend is important for being financially stable. Often times even the small things such as eating out frequently can add up, and if they are not reported immediately the amount that has been spent can sometimes shock you.
I also found what he said about truly understanding every part of a deal before making it to be very helpful. Understanding the positives and negatives is very important in discerning whether or not it is worth taking the deal. Especially when deals are made with financing options, it is important to be able to understand what the true price will come out to be.
Apart from staying organized with my money, I want to be able to understand basic finances in order to be fully aware of how each purchase will affect me in the short term as well as the long term.
What do you think it would take for more people to behave with integrity?
People criticize stricter rules as being a bad way of approaching things like cheating. They think that rules do not create a strong sense of ideals such as integrity, however, rules are often times more effective. After looking at the demographics of people who cheat and the benefits that they see from it, there are true “positives” that come from cheating. In order for people to behave with more integrity these very high rewards need to be abolished. The reasons that people risk so much in order to cheat is because the reward from successfully cheating is very high. However, I suppose that by having this reward abolished people would not cheat due to the low reward not by an increase in integrity.
I think that in order to have people behave with more integrity this would have to be an ideal imposed on people at a very young age. Similar to our discussion on ethics, these ideals really do not make an impactful change in a person’s attitude unless they are imposed at an early age. Just how the effectiveness on business ethics courses being taught at a late stage in a student’s academic journey is very low, attempting to teach a person integrity at a late age is also very ineffective. The best way to make people behave with more integrity is by imposing these ideals at a young age. I think that by presenting these ideas early on they will truly become an integral part of a person’s being. For example, I think that many youth sport teams provide a great setting for these sort of ideals to start to be imposed on children. Youth sport teams already impose values such as work ethic and teamwork, and could very easily begin to also impose the value of integrity into the way they train and compete. While imposing this value at a very young age is the ideal route to take, I also think that we could get people to behave with more integrity by constantly bringing up powerful anecdotes where integrity has played a crucial role. There are many situations where carrying oneself with integrity has turned out to be a lot more beneficial in the long run. By illustrating these situation I think that we can get people to behave with more integrity.
Reflect on your own personal journey with flourishing this semester.
How has the journey been? What will you carry with you into the future?
I started the flourishing course not knowing what to expect. I decided to take the course based on a recommendation from an upperclassmen, however, I really did not know how the course would be formatted nor what would be covered. In fact, I thought that it would be very similar to what we experienced during NSO. A very long and forced lesson on a variety of topics. However, this was not what I experienced.
I really enjoyed every aspect of the flourishing course. From the fact that we had two professors that contributed different viewpoints to well-being, to the fact that we were broken up into small peer mentor groups to better digest the information, I found that the structure of the course was very nice. Moreso, I very much enjoyed all of the guest speakers that we had the opportunity of hearing. I think that they were a great compliment to the course as they are experts working directly in their respective field. The guest speakers made it very easy to see how each topic we covered was very applicable to real life. Also, I really enjoyed the book that we started the course with. I think that by understanding PERMA we were given a very helpful and concrete foundation upon which we were able to continue building. I found that by understanding PERMA I was more aware of my surroundings. I was able to take step backs from my life and ask myself what areas of PERMA I could work on and how.
Of all of the information that we covered throughout the semester, the ideas that I will take with me are sleep, PERMA, and emotional intelligence. After studying sleep I realize how important it truly is to well-being and academic success. Ever since covering this topic I have begun to prioritize sleep and be more cognizant of what time I go to bed and what time I wake up, even on the weekends. As mentioned before, I think that PERMA is an essential part to the flourishing course. I will definitely keep these ideas in mind and refer back to Seligman throughout my time in Georgetown and thereafter.