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Session Title: The art of intrinsically driven joy and harmony
Speaker: Rose Borunda, CapEd Faculty Fellow – Emeritus, California State University
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Session description: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is this nation’s touted ideology. Yet, since 2000 there has been a decline in self-reported subjective well-being (SWB) (Sachs, 2019). This decline can be attributed to divisive politics, entrenched racism, climate crisis, and the psychological impact of a prolonged pandemic as a few of the factors that have fueled the debilitating symptoms of addiction, violence, suicide, tribalism, isolation while giving rise to “adolescent depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm… and a marked decline in SWB, apparently due in part to the astoundingly large amount of time that young people are spending on digital media: smartphones, videogames, computers” (Sachs, 2019, p. 126). With multiple external factors adversely impacting the people who live in what is considered one of the wealthiest in the world, to what extent, we must ask, are people taking responsibility for their own well-being? This presentation offers a contrasting orientation, “Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Harmony” (Garrett & Portman, 2006), of “well-being”, grounded in joy and harmony and applied to a personal, cultural, and interpersonal framework. A Cherokee narrative speaks of a father who shares with his son how people have ‘two wolves’ battling inside. One wolf possesses desirable qualities such as goodness and the other represents the antithesis. When the son asks which son wins the battle the father responds, “The One That You Feed” (The Tale of Two Wolves, n.d.) The viewer is prompted to determine which wolf they feed and, in doing so, to consider their responsibility for taking agency over their own well-being. Concrete examples (Borunda & Murray, 2019) are offered to enhance well-being by identifying simple acts that, on a daily basis, bring joy. In rediscovering behaviours that brought joy in one’s childhood, the viewer is encouraged to consider reintegrating intrinsically driven holistic joy into their lives. Given the debilitating impact of toxic relationships, the viewer is also encouraged to reflect upon the nature of their relationships and determine whether the interactions they have with others are healthy and sustainable. Taking agency for the nature of social and familial relationships may require shifts in who and how one engages with others. In doing so, instituting incremental steps toward establishing boundaries and even expanding one’s social circles to create more supportive and caring relationships will be explored. While larger life challenges in our lifetimes loom and make day to day living depressive and hopeless, this presentation reflects upon small acts that bolster well-being. In doing so, the examination of what brings joy and harmony is reviewed. By listening to uplifting music, taking walks in nature, committing acts of kindness and other behaviours that raise dopamine levels, we can shift our outlook and capacity to be not only resilient but loving and compassionate creatures. Taking inventory of the ideology that guides our lives compels us to consider the behaviours that follow. For this reason, this presentation is designed to increase simple acts that bring joy and expand circles of harmony.

Bio:  Professor Emeritus, Dr. Rose Borunda, taught in the Counselor Education program and the Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program at California State University, Sacramento. In her early career, she worked in the child abuse prevention field, served as a school counsellor, taught at a tribal college, and worked directly with tribal communities across the U.S. as a consultant for UC Davis Tribal TANF. Her three books and journal publications promote positive identity development and cross-racial bridge-building. During her tenure as a Professor at Sac State, Dr. Borunda served as Department Chair for the Counselor Education program, Interim Director and also then Associate Director for the Doctoral program. She currently serves as a CapEd Faculty Ed Fellow and continues to mentor students, write, and present.