It is almost impossible to name all of the things that cause university students stress. Between homework, exams, roommate issues and financial pressures, it is easy to get stuck in an emotional rut. Where does happiness come in?
Wednesday, students learned how to regain control of their emotions and manufacture happiness for themselves in an intimate Create Your Own Happiness workshop.
WSU Wellbeing graduate assistant Jason Wu led the workshop.
“The idea came from a conglomerate of people working with the Wellbeing program and UREC. They chose me to work on it because of my background in the counseling psychology program,” Wu said. “The purpose of this workshop is to promote the central view of positive psychology and to help people find and create their own happiness.”
Wu explained that while multiple workshops are available on campus for students, Create Your Own Happiness is one of the first to promote the central theories of positive psychology.
“I have read that some psychologists believe that depression has become a generational epidemic, so it makes sense to bring this type of workshop to the university. If anything, this helps spur the positive psychology movement that is happening right now,” Wu added.
The presentation stressed that the key to happiness is not worrying about circumstances beyond personal control. Instead, happiness lies in intentionally choosing to partake in mood-improving activities day-to-day. For this technique to be successful, commitment to giving the time and effort is essential.
Wu explained seven ways to create happiness, which included giving and altruism, fostering gratitude, forgiveness and staying healthy, among other things. Focusing on what specific unique things make someone happy and indentifying negative thoughts are also very important.
Simple things such as volunteering, smiling, choosing to skip instead of walk and keeping a private journal were also suggested along with finding cost effective ways of finding happiness.
Many psychologists study the roots of happiness. One psychologist Wu mentioned was David G. Meyers, a professor of psychology at Hope College in Michigan. Meyers discussed how happiness is in the control of the individual in Yes! Magazine.
“Optimism, self-esteem and perceived control over one’s life are among the traits that mark happy experiences and happy lives. Happy people typically report feeling an internal locus of control — they feel empowered,” Meyers said.
Another psychologist mentioned in the workshop was Dr. Martin Seligman. Seligman explains happiness as a mathematical equation.
“H = S + C + V where H is your enduring level of happiness, S is your set range, C is the circumstances of your life and V represents factors under your voluntary control,” Seligman said in his book Authentic Happiness.
A participatory element of the workshop was present throughout the presentation. Periodically, the group would take a break and do short exercises such as brainstorming things that could lead to immediate gratification and happiness in the future.
Those who shared with the group said that things such as spending time with their families, playing sports and getting their homework done on time were sure to boost their moods.
When it seems that the karmic cards are stacked against college students, the Create Your Own Happiness workshop gave students the tools to fight the blues.