Slime During Grind Time

On Friday, December 7th, members of the MindWell pod in the Healthy Campus Initiative came together to put on a de-stressing event for students before finals head into full swing. The event was filled with fun, relaxation, and slime– appropriately named slime time during grind time.

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Yes, slime. That stretchy, goopy substance that many of us played with when we were little, and that Nickelodeon has made famous. Making and playing with slime has also been really big on Instagram for the past couple of years as it’s oddly satisfying to watch others play with slime.

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The goal of the event was to bring a pop of fun into students’ days, bring their minds away from the stress of finals and papers, and allow them to relax and have fun making something they could use to destress with at home while they’re studying. All of the students who stopped by our tables took home beautiful and fun globs of slime that can act as stress balls, or recreate the act of play when students want to take a mental break from their studies.

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About 100 Bruins stopped by the tables in front of Powell library in a span of three hours to make their own slime. The atmosphere at the tables was one of community, with many of the students talking about finals that they had just come from, papers they were heading to the library to write, or study groups they were going to.

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We asked the students to fill out a small evaluation sheet before they left the table with their cup of slime, many of whom gave sweet feedback in the comments section. Several remarked how fun the event was, others asked for us to do the event again or put on a similar one, and several others were just handwritten thank you’s. One of the comments was a combination of the ones described above stating, “Thank you for this event! It really helped me with de-stressing and not worrying about my finals. I hope you guys do this again!”

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It was an absolute delight for the MindWell pod to put on this event for students, and we hope there will be more to come. For those who weren’t able to stop by the table, or who just want to try making some slime, here are the instructions we followed:

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Prime Slime Anytime

Ingredients:

Elmer’s glue,  contact lens solution, baking soda, and any food coloring, glitter, or beads that you want to add.

Instructions:

  1. Pour ¾ of a cup of Elmer’s glue into a bowl
  2. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of baking soda
  3. Add 3 tablespoons of contact lens solution and desired amount of food coloring or glitter, and mix until slime begins to form
  4. Begin to knead the slime in your hands until it begins to firm. If needed, add more contact lens solution to make it less sticky.
  5. Add whatever other beads, more glitter, or even color that you want into your slime and have fun!

Enjoy some more slime photos below:

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Taking a STAND for Mental Health at UCLA

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The Depression Grand Challenge​ has taken many strides towards reaching its goal of cutting the rate of depression in half by 2050. As of last year, UCLA was “believed to be the first university to conduct a ‘​campus-wide mental health screening program​’, where it invited students to “check in” and offer them treatment within the study’s 8 week​ Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (iCBT)​ program if they showed signs of mild to moderate depression or anxiety. This multifaceted challenge encompasses many groups working towards the same goal through different approaches and focus areas. One of these groups is the ​Resilience Peer Network​ (RPN), a combination of UCLA undergraduate and graduate students that are trained to support their fellow peers as they work their way through the 8 week iCBT study. RPN just announced a new name for their resilience peer services, the STAND (screening and treatment for depression and anxiety) program. Once members have gone through the necessary training, they will officially become a STAND peer and are eligible to facilitate many different kinds of support groups, including one-on-one and group settings.

RPN teaches their Resilience Peers a number of tools to combat negative emotions and increase one’s ability to cope. The 8 week iCBT program has a different focus or tool to share with participants each week, such as developing an exercise routine, starting a mindfulness practice, hunting for positives, and shifting attention, to name a few. One of the wonderful things about the iCBT program is that it provides a holistic overview of mental health and offers a diverse group of tools which participants get to test out themselves each week to see what works best for them.

As a STAND Peer within the program, I have my favorite lessons and skills picked out, and I actively use them and share them with those around me. You don’t have to take my word for it though, you can try it for yourself:

Hunting for Positives:​​

We all have bad days, and, unfortunately, bad days will continue to happen to us in the future. We simply cannot control everything. Wouldn’t it be nice though if those bad days didn’t have to be all bad? The truth is that they probably aren’t, but we allow ourselves to get so caught up in our emotions and events of the bad day that it distracts us from appreciating the good parts of it that may just make the day seem not so bad after all.

Maybe you passed by some pretty flowers on your walk, or got to pet a cute dog, or you got a call from a loved one you haven’t heard from in a while. Those are all positives that deserve to be recognized and that could change the way you feel about a bad day. As you continue on throughout the rest of your day, I challenge you to hunt for positives and see how you feel when you turn in.

Practicing Mindfulness:​​

Numerous studies will tell you about the positive effects of practicing mindfulness, but these effects are more believable if you experience them yourself. Let’s try a short meditation right now to give you a bit of a break from your day. We’ll do a public places guided meditation focusing on body and sound that you can do wherever and whenever you have a spare three minutes. The ​transcript below​ is one of many mindfulness exercises available on the​ Mindfulness Awareness Research Center​ (MARC) website and is accessible to all UCLA students, faculty, and staff. Take your time to read through the meditation, and really focus on being present during this break.

 

“Begin this meditation by noticing the posture that you’re in.
You may be standing or sitting or lying down.
Notice your body exactly as it is.
And see if you can tune into any sensations that are present to you in your body in this moment. There might be heaviness or lightness, pressure, weight.
There might be vibration, pulsating, movement, warmth, coolness.
These sensations can be anywhere in your body.
And all you have to do is notice them.
Notice what’s happening with curiosity and interest.
Take a breath. As you breathe, relax. Not much to do except be fully present and aware.
Now let go of the body’s sensations, and turn your attention to the sounds inside or outside the room.
There may be all sorts of sounds happening.
Loud sounds, quiet sounds You can also notice the silence between the sounds.
But the sounds are coming and going.
Notice them coming and going.
One tendency of our mind is to want to think about the sounds.
To start to make up a story about the sound,or we have a reaction to it: I like it, I don’t like it. See if instead, you can simply listen to the sound.
Notice it with curiosity and interest.
The sounds are coming and going.
Now once again, notice your body standing, present or seated or lying down.
Notice any body sensations that are obvious to you.
Take another breath.
Soften.
And when you’re ready, bring your attention back into the room.”

 

How do you feel now? Take a bit of time to check in with yourself.

The above two tools are just a couple of my favorites that I learned through my involvement in the Resilience Peer Network’s STAND program. There is so much the Resilience Peers and the program have to offer, whether you’re looking to become involved through facilitating support groups or receiving treatment through the study. Learn more about RPN’s STAND program training and application process​ here​, or take the check-in survey to track your mental health here​.

 

 

Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.

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Meet Anusha Sadda, CAPS Student Advisory Board Member

Many people know about Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UCLA, but most people don’t know there is also a board of students working alongside them to provide the best mental health resources possible. This group of students is called the CAPS Student Advisory Board (CSAB). The board is made up of students from different organizations and backgrounds, who have come together to voice the concerns of their respective communities and to inspire change. (Any student can apply to be a part of the board, so if you have an interest in mental health, think about making your voice heard by applying for next year’s board! Keep an eye out for an application announcement.)

About Anusha: Anusha is a graduating fourth year Psychobiology major and Public Health minor and a member of last year’s CSAB board. She’s a mental health advocate because mental health affects all of us even if we don’t all have a mental illness. After graduating, she hopes to work as an analyst at a healthcare company and eventually go to graduate school to become a psychiatrist or work in community health. She prefers TV shows over movies, and if she could watch only one for the rest of her life, it would either be Grey’s Anatomy, or This is Us. She isn’t a fan of either cats or dogs, and if she had to have a pet, she would prefer a goldfish. She adores Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, and her life motto is “you can’t change the world, but you can change your world.”

 

Q: Tell me a little bit about the CAPS Student Advisory Board: how, why, and when was it created?

Anusha Sadda: Nicole Green, the director of CAPS, created CSAB in the 2016-2017 school year. She met with a lot of student groups and wanted a space for students to voice their opinions. She wanted to have a better idea of how to prioritize student needs, and she did that by hearing many different perspectives from some of UCLA’s students.

 

Q: Why did you want to join the CSAB last year?

AS: I was always involved with mental health groups on campus. I served as the campaign manager for All of Us, and I wanted to be involved with something that was more all encompassing. I wanted to learn more about CAPS, their staffing, finances, everything that played a role in making CAPS efficient and effective. It was a privilege making a difference for the students.

 

Q: What did the board focus on or accomplish last year?

AS: The biggest focus was the session limits at CAPS. There has been an increase in mental health service needs nationally, and we wanted to figure out what we would do with all of that demand.

 

Q: What specific things did you want the board to focus on? What concerns did you bring?

AS: I wanted to focus on educating students about what CAPS is, what resources there are, and using CAPS as an avenue to seek the right kind of treatment. Increasing awareness of mental health on campus was an important goal of mine last year. I wanted to create a collaborative effort, kind of like an umbrella, of all kinds of people focused on mental health that were coming from different campus groups, but that were coming together as partners to achieve a common goal.

 

Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to have this close interaction with CAPS?

AS: Not all students can advocate for themselves, and that leads to some people feeling like they aren’t represented. The CSAB board provides a way to bridge that gap, by having representatives speak for a community. The board is then able to hear their issues and address them. It’s also easier for students to talk to students, which helps create honesty and strengthens students’ relationship with CAPS.

 

Q: What do you think the impacts are of having a board run by students geared towards the benefit of students?

AS: I think it shows people that CAPS is really trying to be the best it can be and tend to student needs. Their efforts are going above and beyond. Dr. Green is a very busy woman, and she takes the time to be present at all of the CSAB meetings because she really cares to hear from students. We want people to say what they want to say to the board and have their issue addressed.

 

Q: What do you hope future members of the board accomplish with the partnership?

AS: I don’t have a long term goal for the board, because we never know what is going to be changing in the future. All I care about is that students, staff, and faculty feel like they have the best mental health resources possible­­­— for the UCLA community to be happy mentally, physically, and emotionally.

 

Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.

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Yoga in the Community: Meet Carina Marcellas and Yoga for Flexible Futures!

The Healthy Campus Initiative funds a plethora of research and clubs on campus that are related to mindfulness and mental health. Yoga for Flexible Futures (YFF), a previous HCI Small Grants Recipient, is a club that teaches mindfulness, nutrition, and yoga to children at UCLA’s Community School in Koreatown. The club is composed of passionate bruins who advocate for teaching of mindfulness and fitness at a young age to help kids lead healthy lives in the future. I interviewed the current president of YFF, Carina Marcellas, to learn more about the club and the vision and passion behind their work. A club that rolls kids and yoga into one mat, what could be more exciting than that?

About Carina: Carina is a graduating fourth year double majoring in Italian and Anthropology. She loves yoga (unsurprisingly!), is teacher-certified in yoga sculpt, and is on the SET team at Corepower Yoga in Westwood. She’s also the special events intern at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) and is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. If she could only watch one movie for the rest of her life, it would be La La Land. Carina embraces her strong female identity—it’s even reflected in her choice of favorite actress, Emma Watson and her love of Hermione throughout all of the Harry Potter films. One of her life mottos is “be the energy you wish to attract,” which is a wonderful affirmation and reminder to be resilient and positive in all aspects of life. If you couldn’t tell from her list of accomplishments and personality traits, Carina is a shining star of YFF and an inspiring bruin.

Q: YFF has been an HCI Small Grants recipient in the past for the clubs connection to the MindWell Pod’s mission, how do you think YFF embodies what the Mind Well pod stands for?

Carina Marcellas: At the beginning of the quarter, we did a mindfulness activity with the kids with setting goals for ourselves. We had them set two goals for the quarter, one that was personal, and one that was yoga/mindfulness related. At the end of the quarter we gave everyone back what they had written down to see if they had met their goals. We wanted to plant the seed of setting goals to make that a familiar concept, and give them a sense of accountability. We showed them how to set intentions for themselves and then work towards maintaining them.

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Q: How do you think YFF bridges the connection between mental health and social justice?

CM: We try and make mindfulness accessible and engaging for the kids. We recently did a collaboration with a mentorship program where they partnered UCLA students with kids to help further connections and increase accessibility. It was also a conscious decision to have YFF bring its program to the UCLA Community School, because it’s important to expose kids to something that they haven’t been exposed to before. It allows us to reach a community that is different from the one that surrounds UCLA, one that doesn’t necessarily have the funds to have programs like this incorporated into the school curriculum.

 

Q: What is your favorite part about working with the kids?

CM: When you come in to teach a class every week and they remember you. It sounds silly, I know, but one time I met a girl and then the next week she wrote my nametag for me. It makes me feel important that they appreciate me. It makes yourself feel like what you’re doing is special. It also feels great to see them get excited to do it again as the weeks go by.

 

Q: How do you think this early exposure to mindfulness, nutrition, and physical/social well-being strategies will affect the kids in the future?

CM: Exposure to it at a young age is important, having the memories to look back on and keep with them as time goes on. It has an influence on them. They’re at a great age of learning and trying new things.

 

Q: Did you have a program like this when you were younger? How would that have affected how you live out your life now?

CM: No, it was all up to ourselves to stay active. I grew up in an area where everyone was really active, and it’s important to me and to my family. Yoga is more creative than other workouts, and I think that’s why I have a passion for it. It gives me something different than what I get from just running. I think that if you don’t have the strong foundation of exposure at a young age, it’s hard to carry it with you when you grow up.

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Q: What does it feel like to know that YFF and mindfulness are making a positive impact on the community?
CM: It warms my heart. We try so hard to get these positive messages out there. It’s easy to get caught up in the frustrations, but you get past it and become so incredibly grateful to be a part of something that has had so much impact. “Thankful” is a word, but I don’t think it can truly convey what I’m feeling. Being a better person and lifting each other up is such a rare thing, and we have to be thankful whenever we can do that for each other. I go there to teach the kids, but they also end up teaching me. Their energy and approach to life is what I want to feel all the time, and I feel like I have that mentality when I’m with them.

 

Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.

MindWell Megie

It’s Yanni, okay? How an internet divide reflects the need for cultural introspection

How can we become more aware of ourselves while holding space for other’s point of view? Photo credit: Anna Caitlin Photography.

 

I hear Yanni, or Yanny. I’ve seen it spelled both ways. I have no flipping clue how you would ever hear Laurel. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this. Then come on back now, ya hear?…See what I did there?).

Sometimes the universe hands you a nice, clear example. Last week, as I prepared a presentation on multicultural assessment, Reddit delivered with an audioclip that set the internet ablaze. People heard the same clip, but perceived the message in a vastly different way. Setting aside the science of frequencies, this clip highlighted individual difference and the lenses through which we perceive the world. My lens was Yanni, maybe yours was Laurel.

Awareness of ourselves is vital for moving towards cultural competence. How do I see the world? What cultural lens am I using? Sue and Sue define culture as “all those things that people have learned to do, believe, value, and enjoy in their history. It is the totality of ideals, beliefs, skills, tools, customs, and institutions into which members of a society are born.” Each of us have our specific layer of lenses, creating a kaleidoscope through which we view the world.

In my life, what lenses do I use? Do they get in the way? How do they affect those around me, the patients I serve, my supervisors, myself? How can I increase my awareness and knowledge of these lenses, learn to talk about them with others, recognize a blind spot, notice a smudge that I want to clean in order to see differently? (Give me time, I can beat a metaphor to death).

As someone who was raised in the dominant culture (I identify as a white, cis-gendered, straight woman) and considers themselves an ally, I feel powerless at times. I want to know what “to do” to better the world, my community, the people I serve. It took me a long time to see that this desire in and of itself is my culture. I was raised believing that I could change things for the better, and if you see a problem, work to fix it. But for topics like multiculturalism, allyship, privilege, etc., the end result is not clear. What would be useful? Can someone tell me how to go about navigating the nuanced terrain of diversity…a list would be particularly lovely.

For me, this journey towards increasing my knowledge of diversity has included quite a bit of embarrassment. A lot of, “Oh my gosh, I have totally said/done that before.” This journey is not about me showing other groups or people that I am with them, but about looking at myself and taking personal responsibility. That whole, “put on your mask before assisting others” idea. So, for all of you list-lovers like me, here is a cultural introspection “to do” list:

  • Be curious.
  • Use tools.
  • Find your group.
  • Be kind.

One. Be curious. Curiosity is vital to increasing awareness and is one of the best ways to learn about yourself. Well, actually, siblings or honest friends are also helpful (see number three). Be curious about your viewpoint, why you think the way you think. Additionally, be curious about the experience of others. You will never know if someone hears Laurel or Yanni unless you ask. Be curious, but don’t push.

Two. Use tools. There are various consciousness-raising tools available. I prefer those that allow for, and expect, intersectionality. My personal favorite, the Social Matrix (page 40), was created by Jodie Kliman, Ph.D. It allows you to explore the ebb and flow of privilege and marginalization within yourself and your own social landscape. Working with this matrix, I saw my privilege in a new light and it allowed me to “do” something. This knowledge changed me and changed the way I move in the world. Take a look. I encourage you to fill out the matrix for yourself. Next, fill it in for someone you think you know well. Then talk about it. Where were you spot on? Where did you miss the mark? This brings us to three.

Three. Find your group. One that allows vulnerability. Where you can have challenging conversations, be called to the carpet, and learn to handle the feelings and thoughts about yourself when you “step in it.” The road to increasing your cultural competency is a long one. Actually, I hope I’m the not the first to say this, but this road doesn’t end. We never “become” culturally competent, but can continue to strive towards it. Basically, don’t go it alone.

Finally. Four. Be kind. To yourself and to others who are working to increase their own awareness. This stuff is hard. Embarrassment, shame, and guilt will be some of the hardest hitters on this journey, followed by anger and sadness. Each is important to feel and move through. Therefore, kindness is vital. As the Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

 

Megie Shean is a postdoctoral fellow in the Clinical Neuropsychology of Trauma and Resilience Track at UCLA’s Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavior. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at Pacific University and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Vanderbilt University/VA Tennessee Valley Internship Consortium. Her clinical interests include Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and the use of complementary and alternative treatments.

 

Peter Whybrow in HCI Blog

Eudaimonia Honoree Spotlight: Peter Whybrow

For the second year in a row, the Healthy Campus Initiative is hosting the UCLA Eudaimonia Awards. This year’s ceremony will be held tonight, April 24th, after a TEDxUCLA Salon on the subject of altruism at the Pauley Pavilion Club.  What is eudaimonia? It’s human flourishing, living a good life, prosperity, happiness, and how people live to achieve these goals. The ceremony will honor remarkable people in the UCLA community for living lives rich in meaning and purpose. One of the honorees is Dr. Peter Whybrow, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, physician-in-chief at the Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, and author of the book The Well-Tuned Brain.

AF: What is something unexpected or something that we may not know about you?

PW: I grew up in the rural countryside in England. I spent most of my young life wandering around by myself and with friends, riding bicycles, working on the local farm, and generally becoming enchanted by the countryside and nature. This is how I got into studying biology and endocrinology, and later psychiatry. These experiences triggered in me a real appreciation of the human within the place of the world.

AF: What does eudaimonia mean to you?

PW:It gives you purpose in life, but it doesn’t just happen. It only comes through hard work. [Eudaimonia] is not something that descends on you, it’s something that you really have to work at. The natural state of the human mind is not just joy and happiness, in fact, it’s instinctually driven, self-interested, focused on the first term, and ruled by habit. Most people don’t sit around enjoying the sunny day, they’re flying around all over the place. The important thing to remember is that eudaimonia comes from a true understanding of the world and awareness of it.

We have wonderful powers of reason and personality, but we don’t use all of that in the world. A lot of imagination is fed to us through technology, and I’m a strong believer that we need to pay attention to the human world, to the natural world, and out of that grows a sense of responsibility and character that then brings harmony and a joy of living. That’s why we have to work hard at it, we have to override this sense of self interest and the way in which we are built.

AF: What advice would you give to someone looking for meaning and purpose in their life?

PW: It doesn’t happen naturally. If you follow Adam Smith’s cardinal values: fairness, benevolence, and prudence, it builds character, and if you have character, in the long run, I submit you will have eudaimonia. You will be flourishing because you have joy in yourself and all the things you do for other people. Being attached to others allows you to find this sense of balance that eudaimonia applies.

AF: Time is often a barrier for wellbeing for students and many others. Any advice on prioritizing wellbeing amidst a busy schedule?

PW: That’s true, but it’s only because they make it so. Self-regulation is not done all by yourself, of course, it’s learned from the people you grow up with, your parents, and significant people in your environment. But self-regulation comes from a thoughtful understanding of the way in which individuals are and then recognizing the priorities of what is good for them and what is not good for them, and that is what wellbeing is all about. So when you say that time is often a barrier to wellbeing, I don’t believe that. The misuse of time is a barrier to wellbeing, but you’ve got to learn how to self-regulate yourself to use time appropriately. Unfortunately, we live in times which that does not easily happen. You can’t cultivate eudaimonia in a debt-fueled consumer society where material gluttony is in fact the order of the day. We want more, we want our machines to go faster. We are our own worst enemy. It’s not just the marketplace, it’s the way we have interpreted the market place.

AF: What gives you purpose in life?

PW:  The joy of humans. Not only knowing yourself, but in the ways that you extend yourself to others in ways that are pleasurable and valuable to them, and very giving to one’s own self.

Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.

Madison Feldman

Eudaimonia Society Spotlight: Madison Feldman

Madison Feldman is a third-year undergraduate student at UCLA studying Geography with a Conservation Biology and a Geospatial Analysis & Technology double minor. Along with classes, Madison works as the Undergraduate Coordinator for HCI, gardens at the jane b semel HCI Community Garden and DIG UCLA Garden, and enjoys ocean sports, such as dory boat and beach volleyball. She also hosts the show Groovy Smoothie on UCLA Radio every Thursday at 10 a.m. to talk about the environment, food, health, and other passions of hers.

Madison was nominated for the Eudaimonia Society because she is high energy, enjoys life, and spreads that energy to those around her. She also manages to check-in with her peers and support them in both personal and professional ways.

To Madison, eudaimonia means being in her flow: “When I’m connecting different people to different resources and opportunities that I think could benefit them and that they’re passionate about, that’s when I feel like I’m in my flow. That’s what gives me passion, or ‘sustained happiness.’”

Madison mentions there are many resources on campus she loves sharing, including HCI’s student grants program and volunteering opportunities. “Almost like a megaphone, if I find out about an opportunity to volunteer at a school, I try to share that with as many people as possible. I’ll tell people, ‘Oh, are you busy this day? You should go!’ So I’ll just bring up current events and activities people can actively participate in and share that with them.”

In order to accomplish her goal of sharing resources, Madison mentions that talking to people is incredibly important for her. “If you don’t talk to people then you don’t know what their interests are or what their passions are, so you can’t really connect them to anything,” she says. “So, that’s important, just being able to talk to people. I know I always make awkward eye contact or make weird faces or noises sometimes because it’s kind of scary to talk to people you don’t know. But I think that the payout of putting yourself in a situation where you have to reach out and say, ‘Hey I like your jacket!’ and you start talking and, I don’t know, it’s just willingness to be open to other people. It’s terrifying, but I think it really helps you be able to engage with other people and find out what’s important to them.”

When asked about how she balances school, work, and her healthy lifestyle Madison says, “I’m working on improving that!” Primarily, she recommends “just knowing what your limits are, learning about yourself, and respecting the standards that you set for yourself.”

Specifically, Madison recently joined the swim team. She says it’s “helpful because independently working out can sometimes be difficult. I like to be on a team. Being accountable to go and see my team and go to a scheduled workout is really helpful to get workouts and exercise into my regular schedule. And this quarter I’m also just working on more alternative workouts: instead of walking I can run to class or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just something to help me get exercise, that’s how I feel balanced with my work.”

Madison also acknowledges that sleep is really important. “I go to sleep early and I wake up early. I guess I’m a morning person. Ideally, I would love to go to sleep at like 9, or even 10, and then wake up at 5 in the morning and do my work because that’s when I feel focused and there’s less distraction.” Part of her self-care is setting boundaries of when she needs to leave to go to bed: “If I’m in a situation that has me out really late, I’ll be like ‘it’s time for me to go,’ standing up for myself and saying I have to leave now.”

Another helpful tip Madison gives for living a healthy life amidst a busy schedule is meditating: “Right when you wake up, instead of going right to starting your work or doing whatever, which is what I usually do, waking up, stretching, [meditating] and then entering the real world. That’s something I’m working on.” Overall, Madison says living a healthy life with a busy schedule is mostly about “being flexible and adaptable” and understanding that “it all takes practice.”

Madison’s passion of helping connect people to resources expands to her goals after college. Interested in conservation, Madison wants to do research in Costa Rica and eventually go into coastal conservation and outdoor education and science. “Raising people’s awareness about conservation is where I see myself fitting in. Like, bringing awareness to things, now bigger than just a resource but it’s more on the larger natural scale. It’s kind of using that skill, that interest of mine, to connect people to resources about what’s happening around them.”

The advice Madison would give to someone looking for purpose in their life is to just explore. “I think the best way to grow is to keep taking steps in a direction and then once you get to the dead end of that, turn, and see if there’s another direction and take that. Because I’ve taken so many random classes, I’ve gotten injured, there’s been a lot of paths that I thought I wanted to take, like becoming an RA for example. I really wanted to become an RA and I didn’t get selected and that led me to working with HCI. There’s a lot of stuff, like being injured in one sport led me to being a rower and then I was recruited. So there’s just a lot of things that feel like, ‘Oh my gosh this is horrible!’ but you have to keep trying something. Keep going!”

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Madison will be inducted into the UCLA Eudaimonia Society on April 24th, as part of a TEDxUCLA Salon on altruism, hosted by the MindWell pod. Click here for more information about the event and for tickets.

Aurora Finley is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in English. Along with blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she is the Sexperts Executive Director for the 2017-18 academic year. She is also a regular volunteer for UCLA’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and blogs for the online UCLA Odyssey community.

Eudaimonia Award Winner Louis Tse

Eudaimonia Award Winner Spotlight: Louis Tse

Aristotle distinguished hedonia, the brief, fleeting happiness derived from immediate satisfaction of drives, from eudaimonia, the sustained happiness that comes from living a life rich in purpose and meaning. The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative Eudaimonia Society was founded to recognize members of the UCLA community who exemplify Eudaimonia and inspire others to seek their own Eudaimonic well-being. Louis Tse, the recipient of the 2018 Eudaimonia Award, exemplifies Eudaimonia through his incredible personal efforts and dedication to others.

Louis grew up in Arizona where he first realized his fascination with engineering and service by volunteering at local museums. In the spring of 2016, Louis Tse earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA and now works at NASA’s Jet Prepulsion Laboratory (JPL). Currently, he’s working on building a spacecraft to study planets in our solar system, including earth.

His efforts at UCLA’s campus were no less ambitious. Louis’s student-run Bruin Shelter program best exemplifies his pursuit of Eudaimonia. The Bruin Shelter, which launched in Fall 2016, seeks to house college students experiencing homelessness in a safe and welcoming environment. It is the only shelter in the nation exclusively for individuals pursuing a degree in higher education and one sustained through collective, communal effort. As a student, Louis formed connections with other student organizations, such as Swipe Out Hunger, and the Fielding School of Public Health, who both shared his vision of creating a safe haven for students with no other options for housing. In order to fund the establishment of the Bruin Shelter, Louis Tse lived out of his car to save on rent money. As Executive Director of Bruin Shelter, he’s currently working to increase the capacity of the facility and acquire resources that will sustain the project’s growth. I had the opportunity to sit down with Louis and ask him how he strives for purpose.

Teddy Tollin (TT): How do you balance passion and taking care of yourself in your life?

Louis Tse (LT): My passion has become inextricably intertwined with my well-being. When students are concerned with their immediate safety, where they are going to live, or get their next meal, that begins to override the other kinds of well-being in their life, including academic performance. Their safety and success is the wellspring for my well-being.

TT: What does Eudaimonia mean to you in your life?

LT: It is a great modern tribute to caring for a whole person.

TT: What gives you purpose in life?

LT: I co-founded Students 4 Students, which is a shelter for college students in Los Angeles experiencing homelessness, and it is run entirely by UCLA students. In a larger sense, I find a tremendous feeling of purpose from providing a ballast in our community for people who need it most. It’s not simply the struggles of these students that have moved me; it is their durable optimism and unflagging determination.

TT: What advice would you give to someone looking for meaning and purpose in their lives?

LT: I recommend reframing the earnest idea that we have a stake in one another, as a contract with oneself to be renewed each day. If enough people act upon this thought, we can make meaningful progress in helping people live their lives with dignity and respect.

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Louis will be honored as the recipient of this year’s Eudaimonia Award on April 24th, as part of TEDxUCLA Salon on altruism, hosted by the MindWell pod.

Teddy Tollin is a third year Geography major and Geographical Information Systems minor at UCLA. Besides working at his position as the BEWell pod blogger, Teddy is a member of the Transfer Student video team, Co-Chair of the Built Environment Public Health Coalition, and is passionate about Urban Planning.

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Psychology of Hate

We are experiencing an increasing level of hate in our society.  Hate fuels the cancerous divisiveness and polarization which now infect virtually every part of our lives. This culture of hatred will have serious effects on both our national and individual emotional, psychological, and physical health.   

We cannot be a strong and healthy nation if we consider hate an acceptable aspect of our daily life. Hatred has the destructive power to permanently damage the nation’s emotional psyche and core values.  

History tells us how hate can be exploited to lead an entire nation to commit unspeakable crimes against a particular racial, religious, political, or ideological group.   

It is time to sound the alarm.

The problem is we know very little about the nature and workings of hate and what we as a people can do about it. While anger can be resolved and fades with time, hate at its extreme is an enduring, inflexible state, an all- consuming set of raw emotions.

If hate is left unchecked, it intensifies from intolerance to a wish to annihilate the other. Hate strips us of our humanity. Hate eliminates the ability to show empathic concern for the injustice done to others. Hate numbs the guilt and shame that we should feel for our prejudiced behavior. Most importantly, it eliminates our ability to understand why we feel this hatred and how to eliminate it by addressing the real issues that gave rise to it.

It strikes at the core of our humanity.

People who hate tend to think, feel and behave from an “in-group” versus an “out-group” mentality.  They have no hesitation to stereotype an entire “out-group” (Steward, T. L. et al., 2003). The “ins” use the “outs” as scapegoats for the social, economic, and political woes of the community (Brewer, M., 1999).  The “ins” use this as a way to justify the treatment of the “outs” in a degrading manner and to ostracize the “outs” from the lives and the community of the “ins”. In her blue eyed and brown eyed study, Elliot et al., 2002 showed that when the blue eyed subjects were severely discriminating and degraded them and made to feel like outer groups in society, it was too much for some that they left the study.

The underlying insidious presence of contempt and disgust – a deep dislike for the other who is considered unworthy of respect or attention – appears to play a major role in intensifying fear and anger into a vicious, annihilating feeling of hate. Disgust of another instinctively makes us recoil and distance us from them (Taylor, K, 2007). Contempt is a disdain associated with the other being less worthy and inferior and, therefore, not entitled to certain rights and opportunities that are reserved exclusively for the “ins” (Sternberg, R.J. 2017).   

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Extreme hate, unfortunately is deep seated and cannot be easily overcome. For people whose hate is not all-consuming, here are some preliminary steps that might be helpful for decreasing hatred in our lives.

The first step is to understand that hate is extremely destructive, whichever way you cut it, by recognizing the serious threat that hate creates for our personal, communal, and national well-being.   

Next, learn to spot stereotyping, scapegoating, and de-humanizing behavior in ourselves, in others, and in certain leaders, so that we can start challenging such prejudiced verbal and non-verbal behavior.  

The unravelling of the sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein has created a collective outrage in society and put in place an entirely new set of norms. The same opportunity exists for us to do this with hatred and hate mongers.   

So, when you find yourself blaming an entire group, challenge that perception by conducting a comprehensive analysis of your behavior. What is the evidence that the “outs” are responsible for a particular situation or for the acts of a few?

While reducing prejudiced behavior is a great start, reduction alone does not prevent such behavior from returning.  The change in our behavior as a society can only be sustained if we challenge the underlying beliefs and assumptions that maintain this toxic behavior.  

Make a list of evidence for and against your own beliefs and assumptions. Based on the conclusion of the analysis, replace your maladaptive beliefs and assumptions with ones that are more realistic and adaptive.      

To go deeper, ask yourself what are the origins of such beliefs? Try recalling the earliest time in your life when you experienced hate towards a significant person?  It won’t take long to figure out how these unprocessed feelings are projected to the out-group.

Now that you know that your beliefs and assumptions about the “outs” may be biased, take concrete steps to re-educate yourself by reading and watching objective based information. Evaluate the issues from the viewpoint of both sides – don’t just listen to what you would like to hear from CNN or Fox alone.

If you want others to hear and to understand your legitimate grievances, you must also understand theirs. Reach out to members on the other side and genuinely listen and try to appreciate their perspective by putting yourself in their shoes. The capacity to do so will allow you to change your beliefs where you are misinformed or wrong.

Each one of us needs to initiate change in our own behavior before we can expect society to change.

In a democratic system such as ours, holding opposing beliefs and views is not the real issue. The problem is intolerance and feelings of outrage at the “outs” with little regard for their rights, which are protected by the constitution – as are your own rights. Our system provides the ballot box, the judiciary, and the legislature, which relatively few nations in the world enjoy, as the final place to settle our concerns and differences.  

It, therefore, behooves us to make a resolution to reclaim our humanity and not allow ourselves to be caught in the whirlwind of hate being spewed in our country.

Lobsang Rapgay, PhD is a Sherpa-Tibetan American and Assistant Adjunct Professor, and researcher in the Department of Psychiatry UCLA. He has a private practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

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How to Meditate

Have you ever thought of trying meditation but been intimidated or confused about how to get started? The basic principles of mindfulness meditation are not complex and can be learned.

To meditate we use our normal ability to direct our attention. We direct our attention all the time –for example, paying attention when reading a text. Admittedly, in meditation we use our attention in two somewhat unusual ways.

  1. First we decide to place attention on a “neutral” part of experience (“neutral” meaning something real, but not very stimulating) such as the sensation of the breath. Focusing on the breath works to calm the mind and body. It takes effort because we are trying to focus on something that is not pulling at our attention. It is a continuing decision to keep trying, and it definitely can be done. Most meditation methods begin one way or another with this type of activity: deciding to place the attention on something neutral (a “home base” for attention) and then we continue to do it for a while. It gets easier with time.
  2. Try as we might to stay with the breath, at some point we will realize that our attention has been drawn elsewhere. Here we use our attention in the second way. We simply take notice of what has pulled our attention – often thoughts and images, that is, normal mental activity such as planning for lunch, mulling over a paper we are writing, or thinking about a problem we have – but without trying to get rid of it or control it. We practice being aware of what pulled our attention away without forgetting the core activity we are doing. Just notice – and then continue the meditation by simply shifting the attention back to the breath. We do not have to get rid of any of the distraction, it may pull our attention again, and that is normal. In doing this we can begin to see how helpful it is to bring awareness carefully into all aspects of our experience.

The model of a pendulum is one way to think about meditation– we decide to place our attention for a while with the breath or some other neutral home base. When we notice the attention has been pulled away from the home base, we remember to include and give some attention to whatever it is for a few moments, and then return back to the breath. Back and forth. No rush. Even though the method is simple and do-able, it takes patience — and it does get easier with practice.

Mindfulness meditation is a combination of “something to do,” directing attention to the home base, and giving yourself permission to simply be aware of what presents itself.

With emotions, we try to feel the palpable physical sensations often felt in the chest or belly. These sensations are normal components of our emotions and this practice is especially helpful with difficult emotions like anxiety, fear, and anger. We shift attention from the thoughts to the sensations in our bodies. For many of us this can takes practice, but is a valuable skill we can develop. We begin to see for ourselves that we have within our own awareness a powerful tool – we can have more freedom in the midst of difficult emotions even when they do not automatically go away.

 This mindfulness meditation method is not complex and can be learned and practiced. At UCLA there are many opportunities to practice mindfulness meditation. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) offers a number of resources including:

If you are interested in delving more deeply, I will also be teaching a 4-credit course (PSYI 175: Mindfulness Practice and Theory) in Summer Session A 2018. The course will cover the basics of mindfulness as well some philosophical and scientific issues related to mindfulness. You are welcome to contact me for questions about this course, mindfulness, or any related topic.

, Ph.D, is the Associate Director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) and and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He has been teaching mindfulness meditation for over fifteen years, including the UCLA MAPS courses as well as a summer undergraduate course at UCLA (Psychiatry 175: Mindfulness Practice and Theory).