December graduates leave with advice

“Don’t worry. Be open.” is the crux of the message that Barbara Fredrickson delivered to graduates at UNC’s December commencement ceremony Sunday.

Chancellor Holden Thorp presided at the December 18 ceremony in the Dean E. Smith Center.

Fredrickson urged the graduates to be mindful of their present state. “More often than not, the present is a gift! A gift that – if you open to it – can trigger sincere, heartfelt positivity.

“The catch is that these gifts are so subtle that you can be completely blind to them if you’re caught up in worry. Worry makes you miss out on the subtle sources of beauty, intrigue, comfort, and kindness right here and right now that can light your path toward flourishing.”

Prior to the ceremony, 2,279 students had applied to graduate. Campus administrators estimate that 1,049 bachelor’s, 921 master’s, 298 doctoral and 11 professional degrees were awarded. The latter are from the schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.

As a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of UNC’s positive emotions and psychophysiology lab, Fredrickson studies how positive emotions affect people’s thinking patterns, social behavior and physiological reactions. Her research and teaching have been recognized with honors including the 2000 American Psychological Association’s Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology. She also directs the social psychology doctoral program.

Read Fredrickson’s speech here.

Watch the speech here: