I recently attended the annual psychology day at the United Nations. It was interesting to see the different points of views of the presenters in terms of contributing to build a sustainable world with peaceful societies. Psychology is a powerful science that could not only help to have a better world but also to understand myself better. While I know this now, growing up I remember hearing only that psychology was something for very mentally ill people, not for students, workers or families. In senior high school, I started studying psychology for the first time. At that time in my life, I was experiencing rejection by my parents because they found out about my sexual preference. At the same time, I started in a new high school where I was bullied everyday by my classmates for my sexuality as well.

As I started the psychology class, I learned that behavioral theories and psychology studies can benefit human behavior in general. I was very interested. At 16 years old, I started reading advanced books including the DSM-IV (that is the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”), which for me was the bible of psychology. I wanted to know why my parents and classmates rejected me and treated me so bad and cruelly. I thought that by reading and learning all about human behavior I could find an answer for my problems.

When I graduated from high school, I decided to apply for psychology school. I was rejected the first time, but that didn’t stop me to believe in what I wanted to be. I applied again after a year and I was admitted. I was really excited to be around people who had the same interests as me, but also the fact that I was going to learn all about human behavior at a higher level. When I was in the fourth semester, one of my professors from psychometric taught me a valuable lesson which changed the reason I wanted to become a psychologist. She told me that, the solution to my problems was not in becoming a psychologist, because the real solution was inside of me all the time. On the other hand, I should think about helping others, make the world a better place by studying the problems societies are facing and coming up with solutions.

After that conversation, I started to think about everything she said and I realized that “The way I see and treat the world is the same way that the world sees and treats me.” I was still excited about studying human behavior but in an organizational environment. That’s when I decided to switch majors to Human Resources Management. After I finished my degree, I worked in payroll and recruitment, but it wasn’t until I started working more on motivation, performance, skills, training and development that I realized that it was possible to make a contribution to the world by understanding employees’ behavior from an organizational perspective.

When I was at the UN psychology day, I remembered all of these moments of my life, and I would say that it is very important to always have a spirit of service and helping others. Contributions are important, no matter if they are big or small. In the conference, the experts brought different perspectives. But in the end, what is important to know is that human beings are the most valuable resource to make this world better. Without them it wouldn’t be possible to have technology, infrastructure and many other things. We don’t need to be a psychologist to make this world a better place to live.

Written By: Ruben Rios

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The Institute for Latinx Health Equity is a growing collaborative of public health researchers, behavioral scientists, community leaders, capacity building specialists and social justice advocates. We strive to disseminate information about issues pertinent to health disparities and inequity. Follow us, join us, comment and add your voice to ours.

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