Maninder MatharuLet’s forget about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a moment. What would make you the happiest version of yourself? I’m not referring to the cliché milestones of getting your first apartment or seeing your first concert. What needs to happen so that when you are presented with a challenge, you are able to give it your undivided time and energy? People are often searching for a way to be content with their present lives. Those who succeed don’t get distracted by their troubles.

For the first two years of my undergraduate career, I was unorganized and confused about my priorities. Since observing the following lessons, I am more satisfied with my life. Here are my four keys to happiness as a STEM major.

1. Your first priority should be to organize your priorities
I am sure that you have dozens of things on your plate. Make sure you know which are important and which are unnecessary. There are some things, like the DAT, which require all of your focus. It’s easy to see that watching Netflix for three hours straight isn’t a high priority, but what about your other obligations? Make a list of all the obligations, hobbies and people that demand your time and attention. Put the list in order of your priorities as they stand right now. Sure, your family may be your number one priority, but passing your biochem final may have a more serious time constraint.

2. Know your most valuable resource
Time is priceless. When I consider my plans for the day, I calculate how much time each of my tasks deserves. If I end up wasting my time, it stings because I know I have to cut time from a more important task. Carefully decide what deserves to receive your attention.

3. Don’t be afraid to learn about yourself
Spend some time alone to get to know yourself. Learn about what inspires you and what you dislike. Discover your talents and ambitions. What strengths can you use to your advantage? What qualities would you like to improve upon? Self-discovery can lead to confidence and will make you a better-rounded applicant.

4. Spend time every day taking care of yourself
It should come as no surprise to predental students that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Allow a specific amount of time per day to exercise and keep a well-rounded diet.

Lastly, spend time doing whatever keeps you relaxed. A happy and confident student will always do better than their nervous and jittery counterpart. If you have studied relentlessly for a final exam and are given the opportunity to go have fun for a few hours, give yourself that mental break. Never go to sleep upset, and always tackle your challenges with a positive mindset.

- Maninder Matharu, Maryland '17