AYINDE J. STEVENS
Student Voice Editor
On Thursday, September 26, the New Social Engine (NSE) held an event called “How to Get High Naturally” discussing alternative ways to abusing drugs and alcohol. The event’s name was based off the title of the first chapter in comedian Matt Bellace’s book, “A Better High.” Just like in his book, Bellace explained to the attendees how you can truly get high without using substances such as marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, or any other forms of self-destructive behavior.
The event took place in the Rutherford Room in the Ferguson Recreation Center. Bellace came to speak to students about safer ways to get high based on his experiences not only as a comedian and author, but a clinical psychologist and the inspiration for NSE as well. The NSE itself is a club dedicated to providing substance-free fun for students and invited Bellace to come host the event for the fifth time at the Florham campus.
Although the turnout was not as large as NSE advisor Dave Bratton and the rest of the club expected, he decided to start the event anyway. What made the event unique from the previous times it was held was that one student decided to have circle seating for the discussion.
Bellace explained that what he does as a clinical psychologist is to help people with their addictions and cravings using mindfulness teachings. His teachings stem from science, social interaction and psychology, in addition to basic common sense. While some components might seem similar to New Age philosophy, many of Bellace’s points included everyday activities such as reading, running and going to the movies; all of which have been proven to help reduce stress and give off a natural high.
“It sounds corny, but it works,” he said.
Bellace admitted that young adults are often pressured into situations they might not want to be in, but that “students need to be aware of.” It is exactly those situations, such as feeling like they have to drink or do drugs, that inspired Bratton to create NSE here at the College at Florham. It was made for students who just want to enjoy themselves without the pressures of substances.
Bellace used an example from his personal life to prove how effective the mindfulness treatment can be. While going out with his wife and children for ice cream, he was caught making an illegal U-turn and the officer wasn’t going to let him out of the situation.
Bellace told the students that the “old Matt” would have gotten nasty at the officer, but instead he decided against it. He actively put the incident behind him and decided to forget about it. Besides, “You can’t be angry while eating ice cream,” he said.
The discussion then turned to the audience’s own experiences; each member took a turn explaining to the group what they do to get their natural high. One student said he likes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while another does extreme activities such as swimming with sharks and skydiving to get his “natural high.” Another student, junior Ashley Mascola likes to sing and even gave her rendition of the jazz song “Lullaby of Birdland,” made famous by singer Ella Fitzgerald. This inspired Bellace to use his iPhone to briefly play songs that convey emotion, including “Someone like You” by Adele and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.
Freshman Michael Fine said, “It was a nice surprise for it to be an individual experience,” in that he enjoyed the smaller, more intimate setting as opposed to Bellace’s usual routine.
Despite the low turnout, Bellace remarked that it was one of the best presentations he has ever given.