The Best Day Ever

The Best Day Ever

Turning Sunday Funday into a lifestyle.
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My friend and I had one of the best days ever last week.

The weather was incredible, the sky was blue with fluffy clouds, and the air was hot with a chilly breeze. We spent the morning in class and did better than expected on our tests/quizzes, ran a few errands, ate lunch at Chipotle, and headed to our favorite coffee shop to study. Suddenly 1:00 in the afternoon turned into 6:00 and the employee was asking us to leave. We got in the car, drove back to campus during golden hour, and decided to take the long way home after we parked.

We could not stop talking about how perfect the day had been. We had to tell everyone. I texted my mom and told her how happy I was, we went to a friend’s house and spread our jolly cheer with them, we ran into a friend en-route and told him all about the events of the day, we posted about it on our Snapchats, and then stopped by another friend’s dorm. He played guitar and I sang some of my favorite songs. We finally decided that it was time to head home at around 10:00 and spent the rest of the night studying together and talking about how happy we are to be living this life.

Even though my friend gives credit for her perfect day to the weather, I think that we could have had just as much fun in the rain.

Too often, we let little things take over our day. We see one thing that isn’t going the way it is supposed to, and suddenly the day is not perfect. We let a rainstorm or a bad grade on a quiz or sleeping through the alarm or our favorite restaurant being closed dictate the course of our day. By doing this, we are letting the enemy have his way. We are letting him creep in by being disappointed when things don’t go as we expected.

When I received my test grade that morning, I immediately thanked Jesus. When I walked out of the building and felt a cool breeze whisk through my hair, I thanked Jesus. When each song playing in my headphones at the coffee shop ended, I thanked Jesus. I continued thanking Him for the things that made that day perfect. Psalm 118:24 says that this is the day that the Lord has made. God has His hand in everything that occurs in our every day.

Every cool breeze, every spilled drink, every golden sunset, and every failed quiz. Just as He was all up in the middle of my perfect Wednesday, He will be all up in the middle of the worst day that I experience.

We have the opportunity to be light in a world that is often overcome by darkness. We have the ability to make the most of every day by being thankful for it. Wake up and thank Jesus for another day on His beautiful earth because each day comes with an incredible number of chances to build His kingdom. Our lives on earth are a gift and we have been put here to be used by our Creator.

Why aren’t we taking advantage of this incredible gift each and every day? He has placed us in cities near beaches or mountains or in the countryside surrounded by dogs and squirrels and dolphins. He has given us communities and families and swarms of people that love us. We get to live as bright lights for the kingdom and as children of the Creator of it all.

The greatest love of all is ours and the victory is won. Hallelujah because our God is alive – what a good reason to be happy! That should be the determining factor instead of all of the things that make up a "bad day". Adopt a new mindset and make every day your best day ever.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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5 Ways To Find Your More Sustainable Self

Plastic is out.

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The year is 2018 and plastic is finally going out of style. Due to media coverage of the horrible effects of plastic such as this video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nostril or this whale with 20 pounds of plastic in its stomach. Businesses and consumers are becoming more aware of the waste they produce through the products they use.

But it is not enough.

Every day in the United States more than 500 million straws are used. Plastic straws are not recyclable and contribute to horrible circumstances such as this large mass of plastic in the Caribbean.

My purpose in this article is not to tell you to buy another Contigo water bottle or carry a bowl with you everytime you go out, but I want you to be more aware of your responsibility as a citizen of this Earth and understand the consequences that your everyday convenient use of plastics have on your home and on future generations.

Here are 5 steps you can take to become more sustainable.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw

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