Rethinking the “Average”

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My Mom sent me this video yesterday. Full of quick witted jokes and profound musings about the question of the “average,” Shawn Achor’s TED talk tells us that we can change our formula for happiness and success–taking control of our reality. This optimistic view of the power of optimism is very American. And yet, it calls for us overturning many of our current systems that work against this happiness. His thoughts might be applied to our education system, our work world, our home lives, and the paths and goals constantly   directing the grooves of our minds.

Achor reminds us of the expectations that I spent so much time analyzing last summer with the exploration of Emerging Adulthood (see the section in this blog titled “Electronics, Emerging Adults, and the Environment” for more on this.) We believe that we will work hard, be successful, and then find happiness. Achor argues that we should reverse this process–becoming happy and positive first and then finding success. We need to relive positive experiences, meditate, and get through the cultural ADHD our society has created. We need to study the outliers instead of the norm–redefining the average with a revolution.

Watching this inspiring video, I see the connections between my studies of the Abnormal, the Education system, Psychology, American culture, and my weekly long discussions with family and friends. This makes me happy. As Achor points out, I am motivated by my own reflections, connections, and positivity. Despite the worries of being “on track” for graduate school and resume building and making the most out of an experience abroad, I am learning to take one day at a time.

Last night I lay in a darkened room on a doubled up black yoga mat. I listened to 6 others breathe deeply around me–covered in various shades of fleece blanket as the soothing Irish accent of our yoga instructor urged us to give up 90 minutes to the practice of “knowing” our bodies. We were schooled in living completely in the moment (for a price of only 54 euros for 6 weekly sessions.) I was horrible at it. I found my mind drifting to thoughts of coffee and scones and lists of the assignments I had left to complete before the fateful finals week of April 4th.

Ankle joint, breathe in, stretch through the toes, how much have I spent on lattes this week? Would it be “bad” to put off that paper about landscape in a Hilary Mantel novel until next week? Where are we mountaineering on Sunday? Should I blog about tutoring today? Andi! Stop. Toes.

Harnessing Achor’s guide to happiness, I will learn to channel and accept these tangents. He offers me an idea for a healthier sort of control. Admittedly, control is something I can’t seem to give up in my life. Maybe (just maybe) if I’m happy when I graduate from St. Olaf College and I’ve “found myself” to some extent, everything will work out for me.

Then again, isn’t that what every other generation seems to criticize us for? The impracticality of self-searching and too-high expectations for the “real” world of work?

I guess I’ll take my chances.

This entry was posted in "Electronics, Emerging Adulthood, and the Environment" Summer Research, Education in the U.S., Sociology SP635 at NUI Galway: The Abnormal., Tutoring at Scoil Bhride, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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