Happiness discussed as part of Oz Talks program run by P2P

Director of campus ministry for the Newman Center, Michael Huynh, asked students to think about what makes them happy at Wednesday’s Oz Talk.

Huynh presented the “What Makes You Happy” Oz Talk on Oct. 10 in the Mackin main lounge. He presented to students on the foundations of what science shows makes people happy and healthy, first showing a TED talk given in 2015 by Robert Waldinger titled, “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.”

In the TED talk, Waldinger cited the Harvard Study of Adult Development, of which he is currently the director.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the longest-running scientific studies on human adults and is still running today, according to the Harvard Gazette.

The study began in 1938 with a group of men in Boston. Some were from Harvard, others were from the poorest areas of the city. Former President John F. Kennedy was one of the Harvard men to be studied.

The research sought to track everything about the men’s lives with a series of interviews, questionnaires and medical scans of their bodies. The original members of the study are in their 90s now or have already passed on.

According to Waldinger, the data from the study has shown that meaningful relationships are proven to have more bearing on overall happiness than any other factor. People who reported higher levels of happiness in their 50s subsequently reported better health and satisfaction in their 80s.

After the TED talk ended, Huynh got back up in front of the group and asked them to reflect on what they thought made them happy.

Huynh told a story of what made him reconsider what made him happy. As a teenager, he went on a service trip to a very poor country and met a family living in a school bus. That family, even though they had nothing, were so content in what they had, and Huynh said he reflected on what he needed to care about after seeing their priorities.

Huynh then opened the platform for students to ask questions. One student asked how to find happiness with social media. Huynh replied with another question, asking what the depth of a relationship through social media actually is and if there is a genuine connection in that relationship.

“Do we find happiness within, or do we always look for approval?” Huynh said.

Huynh said he decided to cover the topic of happiness because he believes everyone wants to be happy.

“Everyone has a different idea of what [happiness] might be, so I just threw out some open-ended questions to get people thinking about that,” Huynh said.

The Oz Talks program had requested that Huynh present a talk with them.

“I give talks in classes all the time, and my work at the Newman Center is about these kinds of topics,” Huynh said.

The Oz Talks program is run by Peer2Peer, a part of the Oswego State Counseling Services Center, that focuses on mental health and wellness for students by opening up topics students may not be fully aware of. Oz Talks is managed by peer educators, like Darian Fenton, who is in her first year with the program.

“I think a lot of students don’t have the opportunity to have these kinds of topics discussed in their lives,” Fenton said.

The next Oz Talk, “Masculinity and Mental Wellness,” will be given by director of campus life, Earnest Washington, in Oneida Hall on Oct. 24.

Photo: Alexander Gault-Plate | The Oswegonian