PAS7: Does Praying for Happiness Actually Work?

“A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion”

What this actually means is that the study found that people who practice religion also happen to be statistically less depressed.

Originally I was going to cite many more places where I’ve read about how being religious can lead to being happier in general, but my better judgement decided against it. I don’t want to make a long controversial post full of “facts” and “statistics”, but I will continue with what I would consider to be less controversial: my opinion on the “religion” and happiness.

I do not think it’s possible for us to determine whether or not being religious can lead to people being “happier.” I think this for a lot of reasons. How exactly can you judge how religious someone is? How often they go to church, or how often they pray? Or how many sins they’ve committed? Or if they incorporate the Ten Commandments into their daily lives?

There are far far too many potential gray areas, and this goes with “happiness” as well. Both are so subjective and have so many different levels, determining a correlation between the two seems nearly impossible to me.

However!

I do think that people who are more SPIRITUAL (note: not specifically RELIGIOUS) are more likely to be happier. People who consider themselves spiritual typically use this as a way to find meaning in their life and feel like they have a purpose. The main difference to me between someone who considers their self to be spiritual normally has chosen this way of life, rather than religion which is usually instilled since birth or felt forced. I am not generalizing, you can most definitely chose your religion or totally connect with it and all that jazz! Spirituality has more to do with a personal connection with the world around you as well as yourself, where as religion usually insinuates there being a specific service and deity that the religion revolves around.

Spirituality does not have to be organized. It can be a different form for everyone; whether it be practiced in a group or personally, something you are learning about through readings or simply teaching yourself through living and experiencing the world around you. Being spiritual does not mean that you aren’t religious, you can definitely be both spiritual and religious.

It has also been written about that when a person’s mental health is poor, some doctors suggest becoming more spiritual. By turning inward and focusing on yourself, encouraging spirituality can help some depressed patients become more self aware and recognize their place in the world. The doctors often suggest “deep reflection… meditation.. [and] prayer,” all of which are very spiritual practices, not deriving from one specific religion. They even consider “maintaining stable family relationships and friendships” as a part of becoming more spiritual, which I would say definitely can contribute to becoming a happier person, just by following that one simple guideline.

This is sort of a food for thought kind of post. I didn’t want to delve too deep because I’m trying to keep my posts more light and airy than heavy and serious. Thanks for reading, hope you have a great week!

Works Cited:

http://www.miepvideos.org/Healing%20From%20within.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/08/14/want-sustained-happiness-get-religion-study-suggests/

My Essay PSAs

No More PSA

#WhoWillYouHelp PSA

PAS6: Can Money Buy Happiness?

According to both PBS.org and Time.com, yes.

But not in the Tom Haverford kind of way. Things may “be forever,” but buying lots of things has not been scientifically proven to make a person happier.

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Both organizations have agreed that having more money can lead to happiness if spent wisely. And by wisely, they actually mean on other people.

It’s simple really. John Grohol, author of PBS Article states, “Money can buy you happiness, as long as you give some of the money away, or use it for an experience rather than buying a product.”

I once went to a class on Happiness, and the professor told me nearly the same thing. We get more pleasure out of PLANNING the event rather than actually going to the event that may have cost a lot of money, specifically with vacations. Experiences definitely are more worth your money, in terms of happiness, than things. According to the Times article, 57% of respondents reported greater happiness from an experiential purchase where as only 34% said the same about a material purchase.

The following is a study taken from the PBS Article: “Finally, in a third study of 46 people, researchers discovered that participants who were directed to spend a small amount of money on others (either $5 or $20) reported greater feelings of happiness than those who were directed to spend the same amounts on themselves. Again, the dollar amount didn’t matter.”

This actually suggests that we have no choice but to feel happier when we are giving to others. This would explain why many people volunteer for no reason other than the fact that they love volunteering.

A Huffington Post titled “Here Is The Income Level At Which Money Won’t Make You Any Happier In Each State” acknowledges that once you hit a certain income level, the more bonuses you have afterward are meaningless in regards to your happiness. The article analyzes each state’s average income levels and determines the amount of income you need to be happy averages in our country at $75,000. This means that if you make over $75,000 (on average) the higher your income raises, your happiness will not be affected. I think it’s important to note here that while the article doesn’t mention this, if your income is BELOW this number it is more likely that you will be less likely because it would mean you are not making enough money to pay the average bills and have any money left over. If you do not have enough money to have anything left over or even to cover the bills, then obviously this will cause more stress on your life and most likely lead to unhappiness.

 

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/can-money-really-buy-happiness

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/can-money-really-buy-happiness

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/can-money-really-buy-happiness

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/can-money-really-buy-happiness

http://time.com/3545709/money-can-buy-happiness/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/map-happiness-benchmark_n_5592194.html

RCL: Ted Talk Analysis, Music Therapy

“When Meds Fail: A Case For Music Therapy”

1.The main theme of the speech is that music therapy is important in all phases of life and can help everyone in some way. He does a good job at explaining how he thought that music and medicines were a “fork” in the road instead of an intersection.

He made some great points, such as pointing out that we are all rhythmic, through our heart beats, breathing patterns, and sleeping cycles. Using these examples, he really connected with the audience to show how connected people are to music. After this, he talks about how music is a connecting bond, and it works because he had already established how we can all connect to music.

The main focus towards the end of his speech is that music effects people from the beginning of a person’s life. His desire to have the crowd sing a song at the end was ineffective because they not only didn’t know the song, but now also know that it’s the song he sang to his daughter as she died.  I see where he was going with the usage of song, but it was more uncomfortable and sad than a good ending.

2. He starts the presentation by singing — no explanation, no words said before he begins singing a song that no one knows the story behind or the meaning to. Then he explains the story behind the song and his usage of song as an introduction becomes much more effective almost immediately. I am fairly sure that during a speech, you would absolutely never start off by singing, especially for the lengthy amount of time (around a minute) that he does in this Ted Talk. However, for a presentation, you can really do anything to catch the audience’s attention, and the singing feels more appropriate than it would if used in a speech. This shows that a speech is a bit more formal than a presentation. Because he used more pictures and personal stories, I would say that this learns more towards presentation.

RCL3: Bad Ad

Cheat on your girlfriend

“Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout”

This ad is insinuating that your personal relationship is not as important as getting gains at the gym. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s not how the majority of people prioritize, Reebok.

Not only are the the appeals in the ad are very inappropriate, but also the argument is unethical!  Also, there is a clear target at men, making this a clearly disrespectful and sexist ad.

First, it is inappropriate to suggest that a company would condone cheating in any way. A person’s personal relationship is their business and their business alone, and the fact that reebok would insert itself into your personal decisions seems to me like the company lacks the common sense when seeing where their opinions are appropriate.

As most would agree, implying that cheating on anyone in any sense is not okay. Cheating on a workout, while you could argue that it’s still a form of “cheating,” it isn’t nearly as dishonest and harmful to personal relations as cheating on someone you’re in a relationship with. The argument itself suggests that cheating on your girlfriend is more acceptable than cheating on your workout schedule, which is completely unethical. On one hand, cheating on your workout schedule would mean you are cheating yourself, only hurting yourself in the long run. On the other hand, cheating on your girlfriend ends up hurting both people almost immediately, and could have very serious repercussions. In my opinion, relationship > your workout.

Lastly, there’s the issue of how the ad makes it seem as though your “girlfriend” doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, at least not when compared to your abs. The use of the world “girlfriend” is clearly disrespectful towards women. It suggests that a man’s manliness is first comes from his physical appearance and strength, and then, maybe, from his woman. This is not an okay message to be spreading, Reebok.

Thankfully, the ad was taken down within a month.

PAS5: Pope Francis’ Rules on How to Be Happy

So, as I’m sure we all heard, Pope Francis hit up my home town Philadelphia this past weekend. All my friends and family back home wanted to talk about was how they had not a 3 day weekend, not a 4 or 5 day weekend, but… wait for it… a SIX DAY WEEKEND. That’s enough to make ANYONE happy.

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Along many Pro-Pope Francis articles, I stumbled across this list of “The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life.”

  1. “Live and let live.”

Most people claim that this parallels the Rome saying, “”Move forward and let others do the same.” I take this as a reminder to not get caught up in other people’s lives, and remember that what others chose to do is honestly not your business. Whether it’s jealousy or inserting yourself where you are not needed, live and let live totally applies and will help you focus more inward instead of outward.

  1. “Be giving of yourself to others”

“… if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.” I whole-heartedly agree that we are happier when giving ourselves to others. It’s very similar to the idea that giving is better than receiving. Extending this argument to emotions, it’s unhealthy to lock yourself away from people and never open up to anyone.

  1. “Proceed calmly.”

Anxiety hits everyone eventually, some more hard than others. Finding a way to calm yourself and figure out your happy place is critical in living a “happy” life. I would say it’s more important to make sure you are feeling good and calm than being stressed and frantic over any assignment. It’s just one assignment; nothing is ever worth fretting too much.

  1. “A healthy sense of leisure.”

Here, Pope Francis is referring to “the pleasures of art, literature, and playing together with children.” He claims that these pleasures have been lost. Following my previous Passion Post, I would have to agree. It’s super important to find forms of entertainment that are conducive for your mind and entertain you, such as reading or playing an instrument. These serve as an outlet and help you remember to be calm as well!

  1. “Sundays should be holidays.”

Now obviously many who read this will disagree, but disregarding the underlying religious tones, I certainly like the concept of having one day as a family day, or a day to take the time and think about what you’re grateful for in your life! Remembering or acknowledging all of the positive things in your life or even in your past week have been proven to make people happier, because they’re highlighting what’s good in their life instead of focusing on the negatives. Taking one day each week to reminisce and potentially even FaceTime your family definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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  1. “Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people.”

In other words, inspire those younger than you, and instead of simply complimenting them on their brightness, become a mentor to them. Helping the next generation will both make you feel better, and also create a better world. Who wouldn’t be happy about that? I took this as a reminder to volunteer or do community service, at least every once in a while.

  1. “Respect and take care of nature.”

Pope Francis talked a bit about how we are harming the earth each day, almost causing the Earth to “commit suicide.” I really enjoyed this quote from one of the pamphlets of a church he spoke at: “The air we breathe out is the air we will re-inhale. This is true spiritually, psychologically and ecologically. We can’t be whole and happy when mother earth is being stripped of her wholeness.” He’s pointing out us that what we give is what we get, and right now, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by destroying the place we call home.

  1. “Stop being negative.”

“Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down.’” This one is pretty obvious; hurting others does nothing for you or your happiness. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t speak and potentially harm other’s happiness.

  1. “Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs.”

We can and should cherish our own beliefs, but they are ours and ours alone. We have no right to assert them onto others. This will not result in a friendship, but more likely someone who dislikes you or will avoid talking to you… that won’t make you very happy at all.

  1. “Work for Peace”

“ Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive and dynamic.” Pope Francis ended his list with a classic wish: world peace. You can work on this in your personal life by incorporating many of the previous tips into your daily lives: stop being negative, don’t proselytize, and live and let live.

Sorry with the length again guys, but with the Pope being such a hot topic I couldn’t resist writing about his tips on how to be happier!

If you want, give me an idea on what you’d want to hear about and how it affects your everyday happiness! Right now my ideas for next week are money, amount of sleep, or “treating yourself” aka putting yourself first. Hope you enjoyed!

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You can read where I got my information from, and other analyses of the Pope’s 10 Tips for Being Happier Below:

http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2014/in-latest-interview-pope-francis-reveals-top-10-secrets-to-happiness.cfm

http://thehigherlearning.com/2014/07/31/the-pope-just-released-a-list-of-10-tips-for-becoming-a-happier-person-and-they-are-spot-on/

PAS4: Staying “Connected”, Becoming Addicted, or Simply Avoiding Reality?

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Take your pick, or pick your poison?

Because social media is a fairly recent subject, I assumed there wouldn’t be much research done on its possible effects on happiness. Boy was I wrong.

All the different types of social media share an essential common goal: to connect people. No one wants to be “disconnected” or in other words, left out because they “didn’t see that Twitter war.” People naturally fear being alone; we can’t stand the idea of being lonely. We have made it so that you almost cannot participate in a conversation without knowing about what happened on the latest TV show or the most recent Vine trend. This constant need to keep up with social media happenings can cause anxiety for many people because there’s just too much to keep up with, and lead someone to be left out of discussions.

I’m sure everyone reading this has a preferred method of social media, or claims to not prefer any at all. Don’t act high and mighty, some of us truly cannot escape our addiction – that’s right, it is possible to become addicted to social media. When people begin to login and check social medias many times a day due to boredom or wanting a distraction, they form habits that become nearly impossible to break. Along with this, they begin to think they need to be informed, again because of our fear of being left out or alone. Because of the variety of forms of social media, most people feel like their words are private and mean something if they post it in their preferred platform. The positive feedback from other people through the form of “likes” or comments tends to lead to addictive qualities, because we all crave approval. There is even a scale that researchers have made to indicate whether or not you are truly addicted, called the Berge Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS).

In my humble (and potentially totally incorrect) opinion, teenagers convince themselves that it’s normal to have check all of their social medias, and have whichever one is popular. For a while last year at my school, Ask.fm was CRAZY popular. Everyone decided they need to make their own account, despite the fact that the vast majority of the questions people received were not even questions, but just hateful comments directed towards them. Jimmy Kimmel even has a segment where celebrities have to read cruel Tweets directed towards them out loud, to show that this form of online bullying happens to literally everyone.

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This, along with many other reasons, is why I believe social media affects people’s happiness, but in a negative way. People can become upset when other’s “unfollow” or “unfriend” them, blocking them from seeing parts of their life that they are willingly sharing with the rest of your friends or classmates. This can make people feel unworthy or inferior, leading to a negative self esteem.

Along with this, it’s easy to forget that people’s online personas are not who they are in real life. They’re exactly that: online personas. We can be whoever we want to be online. Now, I’m not promoting you go and catfish anyone. I’m suggesting that people tend to only post and want people to see things when they are happy, therefore their online page or profile will mainly consist of them doing or saying things that they are proud of or make their life seem grand. We will almost never sit down and willingly share with the world something like

If anything, I think people who are unhappy tend to spend a lot of their time online. People like to think of it the same way as music; it gives you an outlet, an escape. While venting on a private blog or getting out your frustration by watching some funny vines is great, most teens are not doing those things. Instead, they are spending their social media time obsessing over the façade of other’s online lives or avoiding their physical, very real life. While it is an “escape” in a sense, social media tends to be used in the wrong way, making the escape very temporary.

I’m sure we’ve all heard from either our parents or other adults that if we put our phone down and actually looked at the world around us, our lives would be so much different. I heavily encourage you to go one lunch conversation, one study session, one dinner date or one night out with your friends without looking at the updates on your phone. While you may feel disconnected, by the end of the time you will probably feel closer to the person you shared the experience with, because it’s so rare for our generation to do something without feeling the need to document it by either texting others or taking photos of it. I’m sure this all sounds pretentious, but I promise you my best family car rides and most fun dinner dates with my friends are those where we agreed to put our phones aside and on silent, and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Thanks for reading! Sorry this was so long this week. I’ll keep it brief next time.

Research (The TIME Article is really good!!)

TIME: This Is Your Brain on Facebook

Medical News Today: Social media: how does it affect our mental health and well-being?

New York Times: Does Technology Affect Happiness?

Edge: Social Networks and Happiness

RCL2: Rhetorical Analysis and Silko Essay

A contextual analysis is fairly straightforward: you focus on the context of the artifact, opposed to the text. This refers to the background of an artifact: the politics behind it, the culture and historical setting that was relevant when it was created. A contextual analysis requires you to take a step back and look less at what is in front of you and more of what went into its creation.

A textual analysis focuses more on what is actually in front of you and what you can see in the artifact. Most people in our class did a mainly textual analysis of our artifacts, debating the use of egos / pathos / logos, and talking about what message the creators were trying to get across.

Silko obviously tells the story from a very emotional stand point. “It is no use; borders haven’t worked, and they won’t work,” she says strongly in the essay. Her standpoint is very biased  due to her cultural roots starting “on the Laguna Pueblo reservation.”  In my opinion, she wanted it to be clear that in this case, the dog — an animal — is kinder to her people than the officers. The dog let them go, even when Silko had drugs, even when the officers clearly wanted the dog to find something, anything. On the contrary, the people — humans! — are desperate to find anything to have a reason to stop Silko’s people. The contrast is sharp here, almost comparing people to animals: viscous and ready to pounce if given a reason.

 

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According to CNN, Donald Trump stands by his notion that he will build a wall across the boarder of Mexico. Not only will he physically build this ridiculous wall, but he has convinced himself that due to his stellar negotiation skills, Mexico will pay for it.

With this being said, I do think we have grown since 1994; proof of our growth is actually seen in the country’s response to Trump’s comments. The vast majority of shows on that night were ferociously attacking him. If you look up the quote in the GIF above, you will almost only find articles mocking the statement and his platform. Because of this, I think we have grown as a country and are doing better at not generalizing, partially due to looking at Trump and realizing how ignorant it sounds. So thanks, Trump.

 

PAS3: Exercise Equals Endorphins

Exercise equals endorphins. Endorphins equal happiness!

“Happiness lies, first of all, in health.” -George William Curtis

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Today I’m going to talk about the importance of physical health and the role exercising plays in contributing to your happiness as a whole. Your physical health definitely affects your mental health, positively of course, and its effects are more significant than many want to believe. It’s easy to say that TV, lounging around, and eating junk food all “make you happy”, but when it comes down to the science… That just isn’t true.

When your body crosses over from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state, it’s suddenly operating without enough oxygen to satisfy the muscles and cells screaming out for it. This is when the “runner’s high” occurs. I know what you’re all thinking: Ang no! I don’t run. I will never run. Running is disgusting.

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Chill, fam, I agree.

There are about a million different ways you can “exercise” without even really realizing you’re working out. Dancing, walking around PSU, biking, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, parkour…

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Personally, I don’t love running. I’m super slow, definitely a preacher of the “No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch” saying, even if it’s just to boost my self esteem for my ten minute mile pace. I became more active freshman year of high school upon joining my school’s volleyball team, and have gotten progressively more into personal fitness each year since. I bought a gym membership here at PSU and I’ve got to say these classes are the brightest part of my day! I highly encourage all of you to get up and try “Power Remix”: a forty five minute class that is mainly dancing but incorporates moves like squats and jumping jacks to remind you that you’re really working your body — not that you’d forget when you wake up the next morning unable to trek the hill from South campus to the Business Building.

If you’re #TeamiPhone, you’ll find a little app with a pink heart (that you are unable to delete so I’m sure you all have it!) that is labeled “Health”. This app can track everything, if you let it, but the most important thing (to me) to track is your steps. Though you may be dying for a Fitbit, there are alternative (free!) ways to track your steps each day! The health app tracks your steps without you doing anything at all, and you can see a chart of your levels of activity for the past week / month / year. I can almost without a doubt promise you that your steps will have SKYROCKETED in August upon arriving to PSU, at least mine definitely have.

Exercise not only leads to physical health but it also makes most people feel proud if done consistently, and generally have a more positive self image. Achieving personal fitness goals as well as improving the way we see ourselves because we know we are working on our appearance as well as our health. I may continue this topic next week because it’s so wonderful. Love yourself love your body be happy! Try something new this week!

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PS IF YOU JOIN APOLLO WE ARE HIKING MOUNT NITTANY SUNDAY! FUN so you should join!

Links to Research:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/exercise-happiness2.htm

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33154510

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/09/17/25-ways-to-exercise-without-realizing-it/

 

PAS2: Music as Medicine

The word music is very vague, and honestly gives each person a different thought under the umbrella term of “music.” It might make you think of concerts, or physically playing an instrument, singing, or just your favorite radio station. Music takes many different shapes and form that each requires different levels of action from the person involved. Simply listening to your favorite song requires little to no real concentration on your part.

Over the past four years, I’ve played piano as a personal hobby, been a part of All City Choir (which is a selective group of high school singers from schools all around Philadelphia), and sang in an acapella group. All three of these activities have brought me very different senses of joy. There is a real difference in feeling from when you are creating music from an instrument and when you are solely listening to music, but both evoke good feelings.

There are even significant differences between listening to music on your iPod and being at a concert. In one case, you are alone and not playing an active part in your music, yet most people I’ve asked would say this is what they think of when they are asked if they “like music.” Many people I’ve talked to say that their preferred way of “experiencing” music, they say just listening to their favorite song or playlist. Scientists have found that after just fifteen minutes of listening to music, listeners begin to release dopamine, an endorphin that helps cause happiness.[1] This begins to help us understand why even the effortless act of listening to a special song can evoke chills, tears, or the sudden urge to move your feet!

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As I mentioned before, there are various ways a person participates in music. The act of making and creating music stimulates the brain. Time even mentioned it in a recent article:

“When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony.”[2]

I can say from personal experiences within both my sixteen people acapella group and being a part of a two hundred person All City Choir that harmonizing is one of the most magical feelings in the world. I hope to join an acapella group here on campus at some point within the next year. Recently, I joined Music Therapy Club, and am really very excited to begin to go on trips where I can watch the effects of music therapy in real life as opposed to just reading about it while doing research. Researchers have even suggested that doctors begin to look at music therapy as a form of medicine for those battling ailments like depression or conditions like ADHD. If it involves the brain, I’m a strong believer that music cannot possibly hurt progress in curing diseases.

 

Music therapy and music as a way of helping people to become happier is very special to me because I am hoping to either start for or work for a business that uses music to sooth either elderly patients or help develop better learning skills for children with ADD or ADHD. I think that music helps people find a voice who can’t always find the right words and opens doors in the mind that would have had a hard time being opened otherwise. Music helps make connections for kids with math, reading, verbal skills and everyday social skills. Music has always played a special role in my life and I think we as a people just haven’t done enough research regarding it to find out all of its potential.

 

[1] http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/music-dopamine-happiness-brain-110110.htm

[2] http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/