Alum Positivity Illustration

Illustration by Angeli Leong

Ever since the pandemic started last March, society seemed to reach a reluctant conclusion regarding their mental health: people are bummed out. With the amount of social interaction people receive plummeting to an all-time low, finding ways and motivation to maintain a positive attitude has been tough for a decent amount of people. 

On March 15, Lisa Dimino White, a Longwood University alumni who graduated back in 1998, gave a PowerPoint presentation via Zoom entitled “Change Your Focus; Change Your Life” which demonstrated multiple strategies on how to find happiness.

At one point, White explained, “A Burst of Joy is whatever you can do that makes you happier and gives you a slight mental health break.”

This event was hosted by the Longwood Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Promise16. The latter club is a Longwood organization dedicated to mental health and suicide awareness. There were approximately 45 people in attendance. 

White elaborated on how she has become known as ‘The Joy Seeker’. Throughout the event, she discusses several positivity methods that she called ‘Bursts of Joy’, a concept explored in her book “Bursting with Happiness”, which is now for sale on Amazon.

When asked what was a ‘Burst of Joy’ in his case, Jackson Malsam, the president of the Promise16 club at Longwood, commented, “A burst of joy for myself, I think, one is Taco Bell. Taco Bell is my favorite place to eat. I try not to eat out much. It’s a cheat day kind of a thing, outside of school food.”

White began the presentation by telling a story about going roller skating at night with her husband when she almost considered skipping out and staying home, which caused her to reflect on her roller skating as a child. She fell and broke her wrist. Instead of solely dwelling on the injury, she chose to focus on how kind people were to her during her recovery.

After telling this story, she asked everyone to rank how they felt on a scale of 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Most students' responses ranged from 5 to 7 at the beginning. White challenged herself to raise those numbers by the end of the presentation. 

Later on, White addressed the concept of college students dealing with distress during the pandemic.

Malsam also said, “Positivity has given students something to look forward to; it’s acting as a guiding light. It shows that this is something that will end even if it takes a little longer than we expected.”

White discussed some of her own ‘Bursts of Joy’, which included football, a topic she wasn’t interested in on her own. She then described how one night she talked with some friends and asked about the basics of how the sport worked. As another positivity method, she decided to be open to new possibilities and explored the idea of giving new things a try.

Spending time with her children in quarantine was another topic utilized for positivity. This related to a method White called ‘Concentrate on other people’s happiness’. She realized that playing ping pong as well as watching and making videos on TikTok with her two children helped kill time in a productive and joyful way. 

She shared a couple videos during the presentation that she made with her daughter. One involved them both trying to flip their hair back like Beyonce. 

Malsam mentioned one of White’s methods that he preferred: “Starting the day off on something positive. Changing the mindset for one positive thing that will happen to start the day.”

This was the first time that Promise16 held a guest speaker event. Malsam also admitted that they would like to host events like this once or twice a semester from hereon.

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