BY SOPHIA SANCHEZ
If we google ‘college habits’, we get a list of good habits that college students should focus on for success. Then there are articles with lists of habits that successful students typically have. At the bottom are other suggested searches related to college habits which include study habits, healthy habits and the proverbial black sheep of habits – the bad ones.
Habits – the good, the bad and the ugly
After going through the stress of preparing, shortlisting, applying, and getting into college, the years at college are when students revel in the middle of an explosion of information. It’s when they learn from their faculty, peers and the ecosystem they are in. Through these years they form habits which range from the trivial, like using flash cards for making notes, to life sustaining ones like practicing meditation for reducing stress. If they admire a peer or a faculty member, students might actually imbibe one of their habits knowingly or unknowingly, however good or bad it is.
H is for Habits and for Happiness
Many of the habits formed in college aim for a life of success – good job, great money, and greater prestige via keeping up with the Joneses. The well internalized ones are carried through into life after college, sometimes without the person being aware of it. Unfortunately many of these habits do not bring happiness in their wake, turning people into statistics for studies on happiness or a lack thereof.
One of the most popular classes in Yale’s 300 year history was Psychology and the Good Life conducted by psychology professor Laurie Santos in 2018. One of the reasons she put together that class was because there was a study which showed that a large number of people were not happy and one sub-group which stood out and worried her was fresh graduates.
It’s perhaps time to unlearn goals like success in careers and society; and put happiness and cooperative living in their place. Success, money, and prestige will follow; instead of writing off happiness and well-being as collateral damage. So how does one find these habits to develop? Studies analyzed happy people and tried to find out what made them happy. It was simple – happy people were generally optimistic, enjoyed spending time with family and friends, were grateful for their lives, and enjoyed being physically active.
Create a new list
A college education must not become the goal of life, instead a college education must prepare a student for life, and a state of happiness must be the goal of our life. Therefore it must be interwoven into the very fabric of our everyday lives. As the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard states – we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.
Frequently, with pressures of money, more and more students try to build a repertoire of skills which will help them find the finest job with the best salary. What is frequently forgotten is that college is a safe place where interests must be explored and friendships made. This is a place where intellectually stimulating discussions that open the mind to possibilities must happen, eventually leading to the laying of a strong foundation of beliefs.
We carry our internalized habits into our fully adult lives, therefore it makes sense to develop habits in college which will help one stay happy and fulfilled through college and in later life. Here’s a working list for you to add to –
- Be optimistic
- Enjoy the real world company of friends and family
- Attend your lectures and use every opportunity to interact with your faculty/mentors
- Be physically active as far as possible
- Look around at Nature’s awesomeness
- Be grateful for what you have
- Offer your help where you can
Bio: Sophia is a newbie online ESL/EFL instructor. She is a passionate educator and blogs about education on her personal blog. She found her true calling — teaching — while she was juggling writing and a 9-5 desk job. When Sophia is not busy earning a living, she volunteers as a social worker. Her active online presence demonstrates her strong belief in the power of networking.