HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

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Emotions Prompt #2

The quote, as I understand it, is very straight-forward and pretty easy to understand. What Henry David Thoreau was trying to say is that happiness isn’t an object you can simply obtain like money or groceries. If you were to seek happiness out, the search itself is preventing you from being happy. Happiness is something that is subjective. It’s different for every person, and so what makes one person happy may make another person uncomfortable or even angry. You can’t live your every day life expecting life or anything in your life to just give you happiness. Maybe this will sound a bit harsh, but “life” doesn’t owe you anything.

Though, as harsh as it may sound, people are more in control of their life than they think. If they want to sit around twiddling their thumbs complaining about trivial things like how their life is horrible because one little thing happened that day, and talk about how “Why can’t I just be happy?”, well the answer is you certainly can. However, the attitude above is a depiction of someone who is choosing to not be happy. Now, understandably, there are people out there that have genuine struggles to face. For them, of course it is a challenge, but many are still able to be happy and have talked about it in interviews. Everyone has bad days. Maybe you were dumped and you really loved your significant other, or you totaled your car, and the repair costs aren’t affordable. These things happen, and they’re devastating, but that’s no reason to give up on ever being happy. That’s where the mindset of “I must pursue happiness” begins.

On the contrary, there are people that are very fortunate and yet still complain about everything. It’s simply an outlook. Happiness is something that comes naturally. What does that mean? Well, it means the less you expect, the more pleasantly surprised you’ll be. As you learn to let go of this “pursuit”, you’ll naturally do things you like, you’ll fall in line with people you get along with, and you’ll generally be a happier person. At least that’s how I’ve seen things for a while now.

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Emotions (Prompt #1)

I disagree that that statement and unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence should mean that the United States and its inhabitants are the happiest people on earth. It seems like a bit of a fallacy statement. Sure, it states that we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But reading it for what it means and not how it looks is important. We have the right to pursue happiness, to chase after it and hopefully capture it. This does not mean that we should or are or will be the happiest on earth by any means. I do not think some words (although very important words) will suddenly make you happy just because it says you have the right (I wish it were that easy).  It is up to you, your support group, your choices, your outlook on life, emotional intelligence, and probably another hundred things that make your happiness. Not all of them are even controlled by you; your childhood, romantic experiences, family relations, education, and even media can also affect your outlook on life and how happy you are. These are things that we as a nation and people can help change to make happiness more achievable. A united and supporting nation with the right amount of trust and nationalism for its government (with mutual trust and a watch on the government) could help this.

I do think that there are some good lessons and words of wisdom that we as a nation can learn from the danes however. I have noticed that in America, especially the United States – there is a kind of culture of expectation. We expect people to meet our expectations and get upset when that does not happen. Granted, like most generalizations, this is not always the case, but it is a trend and common. In other countries, asking for your food to be remade or demanding a refund is very rude and not tolerated, but in the United States it is expected. Americans generally expect things to revolve around them, which is not always good. I myself think individualism is a great thing, but like most things – in too large a dose it can be bad. I think only thinking about yourself and never the greater good is not a healthy way of thinking – both for yourself and others. The opposite is true as well, in many religions it stresses to think mostly for the group and not for yourself – which is unhealthy too. I think a good medium is best, being an individual but also concerned for the community and greater good. I think adopting this would help our outlook to be more positive and happy.

What the Danes think as far as setting their expectations low has some good lessons as well, as long as it is not taken too far. If you are always expecting the best then you will surely be disappointed and unhappy. In contrast if you always expect the worst you will have a poor outlook on life and be unhappy and pessimistic. I feel that most things boil down to finding the right amount, and that is what life is all about – finding the right amount of everything. So, setting your expectations low may help you be happy, but can also be bad if they are too low. Aiming for no expectations is the best in my opinion and leads to a more positive outlook on life. I certainly struggle with that myself, being a more neurotic person among other things, but as long as you are trying – well, that is all one can do.

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Emotions Prompt 4

Although I do not use as much emoticons (as I did in high school) I do use a good amount. I like to use things like hearts and smiley faces. I like to see these emoticons as effort into texting or messaging. I never usually use them in emails because email is usually for formal messages. Texting on the other hand is different. When I use emoticons I explain it as putting effort and not having a text message “dry”. If these were taken out I think that people would think I am lacking effort but that is only my thought. For the most part I usually write to people pretty formally the emoticons is just to show some emotions and put in effort. I really like to put in the effort even sometimes by using the new dumb emojis. It is sometimes a joke but I can also use it as a real emotion. The emoticons are usually for positive use, never really negative.

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Emotions (Prompt #6)

The silence was deafening.

Only the sound of my high-strung heart was audible. Ahead of me was pure darkness and the blinding lights that focused everyones’ attention on me. I mustered up as much fleeting courage as I could, and brought the microphone to my lips. My heart was ramming itself against my tight chest. It wanted out; but I stood my ground. I was not leaving this stage without a fight. I was dead set on defeating my life-long fear, stage fright. I knew the words that were to be sung like the back of my hand. All I had to do was open my mouth and let the music pour out. So I did. I took an immense gulp for air as I dove headfirst into the sea of fear. My body and mind knew what to do. They gained control of my doubts, they let my worries go. After I let the first line out, I was no longer in control. The stronger, braver version of me embodied my heart and soul. It did not feel like the real me belting those notes out or standing on that stage with thousands of my high school classmates gaping at me. I was singing the notes like I had never sung them before. I was stringing powerful emotions and passion into the music like never before. The energy of the crowd that was covered in a blanket of darkness below empowered me. But it was only me and the music. I lost my nervous self somewhere in it. When the song was over, I was swarmed with the sound of roaring applause. I was utterly elated knowing I had just conquered one of my biggest fears.

Losing control of my behavior and emotions does not always have to be a bad thing, sometimes it is best to just shake off the stubborn doubt and trust. I trusted in the fact that it will be okay in the end. In this case, losing control did me well. My buried, braver self took over; the self I did not even know existed.




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Emotions: Prompt 2

Upon reading the aforementioned quote from Henry David Thoreau, I came to a sudden realization that I’ve been living by his philosophy for years. Whenever a friend is in need of relationship advice, I tell them: “Stop forcing happiness. Just have some patience and let things happen naturally.” That’s not to say that I’m a sappy hopeless romantic either—this can apply to anything, really. With enough patience and optimism, I firmly believe that positivity can eventually gravitate towards you.

Going back to the romantic connotation of the quote for a second, I’ve seen some great success in this method. Coming to college single, curious, and ready for whatever life throws at me, I decided to (attempt to) come out of my shell a bit more. I’d go to freshman events, I’d join groups of people, and I’d work up the courage to approach individuals and start up a conversation. This “social streak” didn’t last very long though. I quickly gave up and retreated to the safety of my room. Then one day I decided I’d at least attend a movie night in my residence hall with a small group of people. Little did I know that I’d meet my future girlfriend there. Just when I stopped searching for a better social life and friend groups, I find someone who would bring me unimaginable happiness for one year and counting.

Gushy romance aside, Thoreau’s philosophy can be applied to other areas of life such as my future career, for instance. This school year, I’ve applied to several summer internship programs around the state. Anyone who’s applied for a job or internship knows how nerve-racking the wait is. Will I get in? Do I have enough experience? Did my cover letter convey my passion thoroughly enough? These are questions I often found asking myself in the process. As the weeks go by, I get rejected from one program after another. As hope fades, I decide to let go of my stress and leave things to chance. Stress won’t increase my odds, so why bother? Just let it happen naturally.

Whether it’s romance, careers, family, or friendships, patience is key in developing strong bonds and achieving amazing opportunities. Some things can be chased; but others will find their way to us in time.