By Angelina Garibay |Staff Writer|
The Declaration of Independence tells us that the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right.
I am sensing a definite lack of that pursuit here on campus with the lack of friendliness on student faces.
There is a visible slump in student’s attitudes around campus as the school year wanes.
Everyone started out fresh in September. We were ready to face the professors, the homework and the world.
During fall quarter, there were plenty of strangers looking me straight in the eye and smiling as we passed each other.
Now, there seems to be eye contact avoidance.
There is definitely an absence of smiling even when I do happen to catch someone’s eye.
Students are just shuffling to class with their eyes on the ground or their cellphones.
Sure, there are some groups chatting and laughing with one another, but on the whole, many people seem to be apathetic.
What happened to that fresh-faced group that was ready to take on the world last year?
Overwhelming stress and worry, that is what happened.
The seniors are so close to the finish line, they can almost taste it. They are focused and anxious to get their diplomas.
And, of course, there is the worry about the lean job market that they will have to dive into after graduation.
Students are weary, tired of studying and bored with vast amounts of reading. Then there are all those presentations and papers that are due.
The economy isn’t helping attitudes any. Gas prices are escalating. Tuition fees and textbook prices are likely to rise with everything else.
And, who knows what other personal problems figure into students’ attitudes?
There are many valid excuses for walking around without projecting a friendly attitude.
“I’m in my own little world, if people smile at me I smile back, if not, I keep walking,” said student Jessica Quintero.
That appears to be the consensus around campus.
Everyone is caught up in their own issues.
As a result, the friendliness levels here at CSUSB seem to be diminishing.
What is a student to do?
Mark Stibich Ph.D., a behavior change expert, says that smiling actually relieves stress.
He says it also releases certain chemicals into your bloodstream that affect you in a positive way, like a “natural drug.”
According to Dr. Cliff Kuhn’s research on smiles, there are even benefits from fake smiling. One of the perks is increased creativity, which all students need to succeed.
I think everyone’s preference would be to give and receive a real smile, but a fake one can improve the giver and the receiver’s attitudes.
Other studies on smiling have revealed that we are hard-wired to mimic smiles when they are directed at us. That makes them contagious too.
Let’s recap. More smiling, even fake smiles, will reduce stress, give a healthful high, others will copy my actions, campus atmosphere will improve and my attitude will too.
And, it’s free. Who can argue with that price?