Chapel Hill Shootings
I am currently taking a Positive Psychology course with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at UNC-Chapel Hill. I made the following post in our class forum but wanted to share it here as well.
This news is so sad. Every life has value and at any point someone can begin contributing enormously to society. It sounds as if those the world lost were already doing that and there is no reason to believe they would not have continued to do so for decades. The magnitude of loss, of their young lives and the potential good they would have done, saddens me enormously. It also saddens me that this may increase the feeling of those who share the faith of the deceased that the world is not always friendly to those of their faith. I want my voice to be one they hear that says for me, that is not at all the case. I am not at all religious but I am 100% spiritual. I have no doubts about the existence of God, I just see no reason to attempt to impose my faith on others. I’ve met many Muslims here in the US and in my travels around the world. They are as human as everyone else, as valuable as everyone else, and as welcome in my world as everyone else. I believe most of the world believes this.
The man who is in custody was obviously not living in a positive emotional state. Behavior and emotion are inexplicably linked. There are other variables but happy people do not do the types of things he did. Allow this to reinforce your desire to find and sustain as much positive emotions in yourself as possible and for those who wish to help others, allow it to reinforce the importance of this work. Because of the tie between behavior and emotion I truly do not believe there is any more important work to be done–especially when you consider the health and mental health benefits that are also linked to positive emotions.
Today the world ignores this link and I believe that when we begin consciously recognizing it we will be able to predict those at risk of this sort of behavior with more ease and develop interventions to prevent them. I believe that teaching children, from a young age, how to develop and maintain more positive emotions will prevent so much that we do not want in the world.
Just as Candy Lightner created MADD to make sense of a tragedy, we can use this to increase our impetus to create a better world for all. Together we have more than enough power to create the momentum required to effect great positive changes. We cannot change what happened but we can give it meaning that feels better than that of a senseless tragedy by using it to fuel our desire and work toward building a better world.
My condolences go to not just the family, but the world, because the loss of these young individuals is a loss to the world.
For those of you who are reading this on LinkedIn or my Website, I urge you to gain skills to achieve and sustain positive emotional states. It matters.