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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Returning Saint Mary's director presents on happiness

Wednesday night, Saint Mary’s welcomed back Diane Fox, former director of the Office for Student Success, to present her lecture, “The Desire to be Happy & the Need to be Unhappy.”

“If you want to be happier, what are you going to do about it?” was the question Fox posed to her audience.

Fox’s lecture was an exploration of happiness and the emotional ups and downs of college. Fox’s anecdotes and personality brought joy to an otherwise taboo topic. Fox cited the Hallmark channel original movie, “The Blessing Bracelet” for a metaphor on gratitude.

“I watch Hallmark. If I wanted a tragedy, I'd watch the news” Fox jokingly said.

Fox based her lecture on the novel “The Art of Science and Getting Happier: Build the Life You Want” by Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey. Fox, like Brooks and Winfrey, embraces happiness and unhappiness as two things that coexist.

“Because I think it's necessary and people want to avoid [unhappiness]. It's a relatively new concept to embrace. You know, we avoid it,” said Fox.

Fox describes unhappiness as something to be thankful for. Fox explains in her lecture that happiness helps us to achieve enjoyment, satisfaction and purpose, which are the components of happiness she lists.

 “You're gonna struggle. You're not gonna like, you know, it's not gonna always be easy, but I think it's doable,” Fox said.

Attendees listen as visiting lecturer Diane Fox delivers a lecture on happiness throughout the college experience.

During her time at Saint Mary’s, Fox was constantly fielding questions about career, major and future success. She believes many of these worries from students are the fear of being unhappy in disguise.

“I think the students want to be happy. They think something's wrong with them. When they're not happy, it adds to their stress. I don't think they realize they have the power to be happy,” Fox said.

Fox reflected on her time at Saint Mary’s and how just as she watched students grow in intellect and maturity, she also saw them grow in happiness.

“Saint Mary's empowers women. I used to love teaching first years because they cry once a week. Sophomore year they get stronger. Junior year they hit their stride. And senior year they cry because they have to leave,” Fox remarked.

Fox discussed why the topic of happiness worked so well when addressing an audience of all women. Traditionally, women are taught to put other happiness in front of their own. Fox is here to combat that.

“I think women are givers. We're used to so often sacrificing ourselves for others. But I think it's important to realize too, that it's not selfish,” Fox said.

Furthering the dialogue around womens happiness and unhappiness, Fox does not shy away from how relationships play into the upkeep of happiness.

“And it's something that especially sometimes with college aged girls, they're looking for a mate that will bring them happiness. You don't need somebody else. They can be happy all by themselves,” Fox said.

Fox wants to enforce that happiness is not a destination, but a direction. Fox told the audience we should never aim to be happy, instead happier.

Fox said, “So I just think it's important to understand the concept [of happiness] so that they can apply and realize they can be very responsible for it. life's gonna be hard, bad things are gonna happen."

And the book talks about how people have illnesses and tragedies, but every day there's something you can do just a little bit to make you happier and happier, happier, happier.”