Luv, Happiness, & Dynamite

“We just hope the world gets more positive, and be happy. That’s our goal.”

RM speaking about BTS’ new single Dynamite, USA Today

Recently, I presented a piece of writing on BTS and positive psychology at an online ARMY conference. In describing different approaches that a positive psychology perspective could offer for understanding and amplifying BTS’ positive influence, I purposefully excluded positive emotions as a major topic. That was a mistake. I was trying to avoid the (understandable, incorrect) perception that positive psychology is only interested in “surface-level happiness”—that it’s only about feeling good. But by doing so, I played into a pattern that I actually want to reject: the undervaluation of joy.

Dynamite is an explosively happy song, and the music video is bursting with exuberant dance-around-your-bedroom and rainbow-firework energy. It’s a timely reminder that “just feeling good” is actually much more important and impactful than the pleasantness of the fleeting emotions themselves. Dynamite is a testament to the fact that we ought to take happiness, and the things that bring us happiness, seriously.

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BTS and positive psychology: New pathways for exploring BTS’ effect on well-being

I presented a virtual booth (short paper) on the topic of “BTS and positive psychology: New pathways for exploring BTS’ effect on well-being” at Rhizome Connect, a virtual social and scholarly event for BTS fans. The conference took place August 7 – 16, 2020 and was presented by the Rhizomatic Revolution Review, a peer-reviewed publication about BTS.

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The Magic Shop, part 3: Magical Healing Therapy

Read part 1 (Psychodrama) here. Read part 2 (Manifestation) here

Minutes before the introduction to the Magic Shop concert described in part 2, as fans wait for the official livestream to begin, a different set of messages appear. The screen is framed by the title “Magical Inquiry” at the top and a footnote that reads “Make you Feel better Magical Healing Therapy.” The instrumental of “Magic Shop” plays in the background. A series of questions are revealed, slowly, one after the other. First, “What is your name?” Then, “How old are you?” It continues: “Where are you from? What is your interest? Who do you love the most? What is your favorite song? What is your dream? When is your happiest moment throughout the day? What is the most disturbing memory in your life? What is the most important memory in your life? What is the concern that you’d like to share? The magicshop is ready to hear them all.”

If BTS’ reason for being is to manifest positive change by comforting and healing their fans, this series of questions is a good illustration of how that magic works.

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The Magic Shop, part 2: Manifestation

Read part 1 (Psychodrama) here.

A doorbell rings once, twice, three times. Text appears on a backdrop of what looks like a starry night sky. A soothing voiceover begins to read the words in English: “Welcome to the magicshop. Any worries you’d like to share? Any wish you’d like to make come true? The magicshop will be your guidance. But first, I will need your keys. Concentrate on opening the door to the magicshop. Keep calm and relax. Take a deep breath.” The soft background music transforms into a recognizable melody from the song “2! 3!” The voice continues: “Empty your minds and focus. Imagine a door leading to your minds. What you want the most stands behind that door. Just believe. And your magicshop will come true. Are you ready? I’ll show you.” The concert begins.

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What it means to matter

Welcome! Although I have previously written about games and psychology, I consider this my first blog post in a new series about the connections between my favorite topics: video games, positive psychology, and the pop artists BTS. 

In May, I went to both nights of BTS’ Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour at the Rose Bowl. At the second show, in his speech before the final song, Kim Namjoon declared that “tonight, we are one.” It was absolutely true. In that moment, I felt that he was speaking directly to me, in a far-off section among tens of thousands of other fans in the stadium, while also knowing he was speaking directly to all of us.

One week later, I attended commencement with my family and classmates and officially earned my master’s degree. And yet, none of the speakers made me feel as understood and recognized and valued as I’d felt at the concert. I was struck by the contrast. As a celebration, there is no comparison, but the difference goes beyond which was more fun to attend. Why did I derive so much more meaning among a highly diverse crowd of strangers than from a ceremony that is supposed to speak directly to my experiences from the past two years?

Equipped with lingering online access to university library resources, I started to research the psychology of mattering. I quickly found that to understand anything about mattering is to understand something about meaning.

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