Enacting a Positive Change

This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

Women Living Well - 2004

Student Papers

On Serendip

Enacting a Positive Change

Kat McCormick

Throughout this course, we have been involved in a continual discussion of positivity and its impact on our stress levels and mental state. According to Reggie Jones, positive stress can encourage students to strive for a goal and achieve at their maximum potential which negative, chronic stress can cause students to feel apathetic and unable to control their own lives. Negative stress has many symptoms which overlap with depression, suggesting that negative stress can trigger depression. Conversely, positive stress has many consequences which are strikingly similar to those described by Professor Cassidy when she spoke about the benefits of a positive mental state. This suggest that some positive stress is necessary to put humans into a positive mental state.

We have the highest positive mental state when we feel as if we are useful and can be depended on to complete some specialized tasks. In this state, we have a sense of purpose, and take pleasure in fulfilling that purpose. It is important to carefully examine the attributes that are associated with a positive mental state if we are to change our own behavior as a student body to reflect a more positive mental atmosphere. Each student, in this case, need to move individually towards valuing a more positive mental state, and therefore value positive stress and encourage other student to reflect on and talk about their stress in a more positive light.

Realistically, this would require students to deal individually with the negative stress that they were experiencing. Currently, I think students use their peers as "Purge Receptors", or places where they can dump everything negative that is affecting them at the moment. By talking about and sharing their negative stress levels, students feel that they are not alone in their struggles. But to some degree, this approach backfires and in stead of feeling companionship, students feel that there is negative stress overpowering the entire community.

I think the way to stop the culture of negative stress is by changing the direction of student conversations at Bryn Mawr instead of rescripting them entirely. Students will always talk about work, because it is the main component of their lives as students. But students can change the way that they look at the volume of work, both individually and in the community at large, and look upon it as something that the students do to prove themselves at this institution of higher learning. The volume of work, and thus the stress, is what sets us apart and transforms us from what we were in high school into what it is that we envision ourselves as being in the future. This way of considering and talking about our stress is very positive: as our badge of honor, and our vehicle into becoming whatever it is we want to become.

Realistically, the change must be a slow one and must start by changing individual perceptions. This does not require students to stop talking about their work, but it does require them to change the way they talk about their work. Personally, this course had made me hyperaware of the comments that I make on an everyday basis, and it has been my struggle to change that. I hope the change that I have made is permanent, and I see that in my friend group, the more that I talk about stress positively, the more others start to see their own stress positively as well. I think it is a change that can be made, particularly in the Bryn Mawr culture, and it is one we should be striving for, both individually and as a community.

| Women Living Well: Mind and Body | Center for Science In Society | Science and Culture | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994-2007 - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:17 CDT