From the Editor: Pushing for Rider to teach positivity

College has its fun-filled moments, but then there are other times when work becomes overbearing and our schedules overflow. We start to lose focus and become unsure of how to handle times of intense stress. Learning about how to help ourselves psychologically and why our brains go into a frenzy might be a solution to make us happier and calmer.

Rider should implement classes that teach students how to live happier lives and make positive social connections.

Rider offers an upper-level course on positive psychology during which students learn the ins and outs of human strength and positive emotions. Toward the end of the course, students delve into domains that are relevant to their lives at school, at work and with family, but there is no course that focuses completely on making students happy.

The Psychology Department has a course under review as a social science that would be named “Psychology: The Science of Well-Being.” The proposed course poses the question, “How do we make a good life?” In this 100-level course, students will be taught how to examine motivation, intellect, relationships and self-respect. From this, they will see how those qualities lead to a healthy lifestyle that contributes to happiness, well-being, and social and academic flourishing.

The goal of this class is to have students leave with a better understanding of themselves, with connections to others and a sense of how to apply their independent knowledge to their personal goals and relationships.

The Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee on Academic Policy will vote on whether or not to implement this proposed course on Feb. 22.

Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale, decided to create a course called “Psychology and the Good Life” because she said she figured that these Ivy League students dedicated most of their lives to academics and structure.

Within a week of the class being posted, 25 percent of Yale undergraduates signed up for it. The class had to be moved from an 800-seat room to a 2,650-seat auditorium, usually used for symphonic performances.

Santos focuses on six principles throughout the course: spend time and energy in the right ways, take time to express gratitude, do nice things for others and communicate, find time to be mindful, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and practice the happiness behaviors everyday. She takes note of the students’ habits changing; many procrastinate less, show more gratitude and gain social connections. It is the most popular class that has ever been offered at the university, according to The New York Times.

Yale is one of the toughest schools in the country, but all college students face similar social and academic pressures that can lead to unhappiness. While learning the principles of microeconomics and concepts of philosophy are important, achieving happiness is something students may struggle with, and that might be why these kinds of classes are in such high demand.

Anne Law, a Rider psychology professor, said the proposed course for Rider is very similar to the one offered at Yale, and she hopes to incorporate mindful practices like meditation into the curriculum.

Universities in Canada are offering classes that teach lessons of community compassion, qualities that may have gotten lost along the way to academic success. Our sleep, mental health and social connections are all things that keep us sane, and these aspects are emphasized through this type of course. We may, at times, become so academically focused that we don’t even realize how unhappy we are.

A class that focuses on positivity and happiness can serve as a much- needed escape for students. Aside from a long, tedious lecture, students may be able to open their minds and expand their awareness, leading to a more content life.

Students transitioning from high school to college often complain that they are not taught life lessons like how to put air in a tire or how to fill out a W-2 form, but no one teaches us how to be happy either. Education about mental health is extremely necessary at all stages in our life, whether we are stressed about exams or cramming in 40-plus-hour-work weeks once we graduate.

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Hayley Fahey.

Printed in the 2/21/18 issue.

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