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Let’s get happy


High school students are put under an immense amount of pressure nowadays. Teens are constantly stressed about their GPA, SAT, ACT, clubs, sports, and are constantly asking the question: Am I doing enough to get into a top college? This incessant pressure and stress has consequently lead to increasing statistics of teens suffering from mental illnesses. However, the question is how can we help these teens? How can we get them happy?

“More than 1 in 20 US children and teens have anxiety or depression”

– Wolters Kluwer Health,Science Daily

I am working with the Mental Health Matters (MHM) club in my school to answer this question, and work towards giving these students strategies to work on improving their mental health. Within my research, I was inspired by a quote from one of my now favorite Ted Talks, with speaker David Steindl-Rast talks about how all of us are united by once central desire “There’s something we know about everyone we meet anywhere in the world, on the street, that is the very mainspring of whatever they do and whatever they put up with. And that is that all of us want to be happy. In this, we are all together. ” The desire to be happy is what unites us all, but what does happiness really mean? In the Positive Psychology world, we find the word happiness to have lost it’s meaning. What we are concerned about is something called well-being, which can be measured by your relationships and feeling as if you have a greater sense of purpose.

Practicing gratefulness is the answer.

The approach that is most recommended for helping those with mental illnesses ,to ‘get happy’, is positive psychotherapy. Positive psychotherapy has to do with well-being therapy, with exercises that work on building positive emotions, character strengths, finding meaning in life, and creating an optimistic mindset. The five pillars of well-being include:

Positive emotion
E
ngagement 
R
elationship
M
eaning
A
ccomplishment

These elements of well-being can be improved through gratefulness practices in particular. They can not only improve your mental health, but also prevent mental illnesses, and help people suffering from mental illnesses. Mental illnesses that plague so many teenagers today such as depression and anxiety, stem from a pessimistic mindset and disturbed sleep. Neuroscience research proves that practicing gratitude over time can rewire the brain to create a more positive outlook and improve your relationships, two of the key parts of well-being. So I want to teach the members of MHM different gratitude practices to tackle.

“In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize … Gratitude has the power to bring hope,”

– Researcher Robert Emmons

Gratitude Journaling

  1. Select your journal with care: Pick a journal you love the look of, and it will make you more likely to stick to the routine
  2. Create a ritual: examples could be lighting a candle, drinking a cup of tea, or taking a bath.
  3. Express your gratitude: Spend a few minutes each night jotting down three to five highlights from your day. In the morning if you would like to start you day of with your journal you can read your entry from the night before.
  4. Celebrate quality: instead of focusing on how many items are on your list, think about the quality of gratitude you are giving to them. Writing one meaningful thing is better than trying  to come up with 5 for the sake of it.
  5. Schedule a time to write, make it a routine!

Gratitude Meditation

  1. Find a calm, relaxing place where there will be no distractions.
  2. Focus on your breathing and don’t worry about the time.
  3. Then, reflect on both positive and negative emotions and events that pop up in your mind.
  4. Note: Do not force yourself to do these meditation sessions. Each session should be naturally structured.

Mental Removal of Blessings

  1. Imagine your life without common or ordinary things in your life: memorable events, relationships, items, and more.
  2. Reflect: Would your life be better without this? Worse? Different? Reflect on why that thing matters to you.
  3. Excellent way to combat “habituation,” our tendency to take things for granted.
  4. “Mentally remove a good thing or person from your life, and you’ll experience a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation for them.

Through my preaching and promoting of well-being and gratitude practices, I recognize that it might be difficult to give these practices and theories a try. However, it should be recognized that working towards improving your own well-being and helping those around you is vital. This has been recognized by the UN as their third Sustainable Development Goal: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages. Furthermore, the promotion of well-being needs to become world-wide, but before we can get there it starts with people like you and I.

Around the world, and especially in China (where I live), there is still a large stigma around mental illness. Within Chinese culture in particular, most locals do not grant mental illnesses and psychology any truth. It is a common belief that mental health is standard and any symptoms someone (i.e. depression, anxiousness) has are by choice. Therefore, within my research and presentation I knew I wanted to highlight the neuroscience research and proven benefits of gratitude practice, in order to hopefully remove some of that stigma and disbelief. Hitting the points that gratitude practices have been proven to improve physical health: healthier heart, better sleep, live longer; improves relationships, life satisfaction, and GPA. As well as improves mental health: let you see past the anxiety, build confidence, helps you be more optimistic, alleviates stress. Overall, practicing gratitude will improve your well-being and help those with mental illnesses.


https://flipgrid.com/ec60e36c

https://flipgrid.com/ec60e36c


Read about how working on well-being has helped others: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/magazine/why-are-more-american-teenagers-than-ever-suffering-from-severe-anxiety.htmlhttps://medium.com/@lifesnewnormal/gratitude-with-mental-illness-5f87a8855043

Read more about gratitude: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_teach_gratitude_to_tweens_and_teens https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gratitude.html https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-exercises/

Citations: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UqRKfgGhMGbuPejn21riWrU6ZqVEh-LDBfulpXbmcAo/edit?usp=sharing

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COMMENTS: 16
  1. April 25, 2019 by Hurley

    Hey Angie, nice work!

  2. April 25, 2019 by Anthea Wong

    Hi Angelina! I loved how you mentioned that in order for “the promotion of well-being needs to become world-wide, but before we can get there it starts with people like you and I”. I think that it is very important for people to understand how their actions can lead to big changes in the future. Great work!

    • April 27, 2019 by Angelina Josephine Kline

      Thank you Anthea! I appreciate your response and totally agree, thanks for your kind words 🙂

  3. April 26, 2019 by Lilly.Whitner

    Hi! Really well-done page! Your introduction really caught my attention — this topic is super relatable to juniors and seniors! I also had never heard of a lot of the gratitude practices that you recommended; I look forward to giving them a try!! I also think it was important for you to acknowledge the stigma around these issues around the world. All in all, really well done!

    • April 27, 2019 by Angelina Josephine Kline

      Thank you so much Lilly, that means a lot to me. I am a senior myself, so I think that might be part of the reason! I am so happy that you are giving them a try, if you feel comfortable I would love to hear how that goes in the flipgrid! The code is ec60e36c. Thanks for your response!

  4. April 27, 2019 by Jena Thorne

    Angelina, what a beautiful and impactful webpage! Your message about uniting through happiness is very powerful, and I loved the ideas on different approaches to gratitude. I have been struggling to keep a gratitude journal because I know it is good for me, but sometimes it is the last thing I feel like doing! But, with your article, I am reinspired to keep it going!

  5. April 27, 2019 by Heather Gadalla

    Hi Angelina! I absolutely loved your project. I think the message you sent out was done very thoughtfully and you certainly captured my attention in the introduction! I’ve always been interested in gratitude journalling but have never actually started one myself. After reading this page though, I think I will start as soon as possible! Thank you for drawing attention to such an important issue and the stigma surrounding it. 🙂

    • April 28, 2019 by Angelina Josephine Kline

      Thank you so much! I honestly think that gratitude and working on your well being no matter your mental health status, is not only vital but rewarding. Good luck with the journal!

  6. April 28, 2019 by Angelina Josephine Kline

    Wow, it makes me so happy that my article helped you. You got this!

  7. April 28, 2019 by Madi

    Hey Angelina! Love this project and the ideas you presented to help us be more happy! I especially like the Mental Removal of Blessings! Not only would that help me recognize what good things I have in my life, but it would also allow me to recognize negatives or stressors that I may not have noticed before. I’m going to try out all the ideas you showed us. Which one is your favorite?

    • April 30, 2019 by Angelina Josephine Kline

      Hey Madi! Personally, my favorite is mental removal of blessings, I find myself practicing that one more often. However, I think when I am stressed or overwhelmed gratitude meditation is a little better. I used to also practice breathing which helps a lot as well! I love that you’re going to try them out, have fun, you’ll know which one works best for you. Thank you so much for checking this out and your kind words 🙂

  8. May 02, 2019 by Juliette Gaudreault

    Hey Angie! I really liked the project and think that it is very important to be spoken about! As you said, there is still, around the world, a stigma with mental illnesses and glad that we can hear from a high school student, your thoughts and opinions on the topic. 🙂

    • May 02, 2019 by Angelina.Kline

      Thank you Juliette!

  9. May 04, 2019 by Krish M Sheth

    Dear Angie,
    I would just like to say that your page changed my perspective. It helped me understand how to help others, as well as myself. THank you!

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