Action for Happiness is a company in the United Kingdom whose sole mission is to spread Happiness across the globe.  They have developed a class called Exploring What Matters.  We will be one of the first classes in the United States and YOU can be part of it!  However, there are only 18 spots available!  There are potentially up to 4,000 people receiving this notification so if you are interested, jump on this right away!  The class is on a donation basis – which is great because we believe everyone deserves to be happy, not just those that can pay big money.  The class will be held at a location in the heart of Salt Lake City with easy freeway access and public transportation (including Trax!).  Class will be held for eight consecutive weeks on Saturdays from May 11th to June 29th from 11:30am to 1:30pm   Click here to sign up now.

Frank Clayton, The Happy Therapist

Read More →

Is Happiness 101 still FREE?  Yes and no.  Yes and no.

First, I want to thank you for all your support over the years.  As of this month, I have taught Happiness 101 off and on for EIGHT years!!  I have always insisted on keeping it free*.  It never seemed fair to me that a class that offers the very keys of Happiness should be held back from those who cannot afford it.  If I were charging the what my time is worth, the class would cost over $2,000.  Obviously, most people would not be able to afford that. So, I will keep Happiness 101 free – HALF of the time.  You see, I have discovered over the years that many people really WANT to pay for the class.  They do not feel good about not paying for it.  Therefore, every other class will be free*.  The classes in between will be paid classes. Students will pay $100.  The deposit in the free classes is also going up from $60 to $100.  So, this upcoming free class, beginning April 22nd, will be the last class in which students will only have to pay a $60 deposit.  Just to clarify: if a potential student is so stricken by poverty that they cannot afford the deposit, I have special arrangement to offer.  I will not leave anyone behind.  

We have had over three dozen people express interest in taking this Happiness 101 class.  But it is not on a first come, first serve basis. There are a number of factors in who gets chosen for the class.  A big one is readiness for change.  Are YOU ready for a change?  Are YOU ready for a Happier life?  Then    There IS still time to enroll in the April 22nd class but you must get in your application no later than Saturday, April 8th and 9pm.  To apply,  click here for more information.

* There is a $60 deposit.  If the student attends at least six of the eight classes, they get their deposit back at the end of class.  If the student cannot afford the deposit, arrangements can still be made.  E-mail Frank for more information.

Read More →

Happiness 101 June 6th – August 8th, 2015

We are very excited to have found a new Teaching Assistant!  Debra Patterson has joined the Happiness 101 team and is eager to helping the next group of students to becoming Happier!

The dates for the next semester of Happiness 101 are: June 6th through August 8th, 2015.  We will skip the weekends of July 4th and July 25th (in observation of Pioneer Day). Classes will be held on Saturdays from noon to 2pm.  The exact location of the class is only revealed to students who have been accepted into the class but we can tell you it will be located in the Salt Lake City area and will have easy access to freeways and public transportation.

If you are interested in becoming a candidate for the next semester, get your application in as SOON as possible.  You may find all the details you need at the Happiness 101 link.

If you have any questions, E-mail me at frank@saltlakementalhealth.com

 

Frank Clayton CMHC

The Happy Therapist

 

Read More →

Happiness 101 We are very excited to be on the lookout for a new member of the Happiness 101 team!   Before the next semester of Happiness 101 is scheduled, we need a Teaching Assistant.   The primary job of the Teaching Assistant is to ensure that students are following through on their home work and to help put together the report cards.

Requirements:

  • Has never been a client and never intends to be a client.
  • Competent with Facebook and E-mail.  Excel experience preferred.
  • Happiness 101 graduate (preferred but not required).
  • Reliable and good follow-up skills.

This is a volunteer position.  If you are interested, please E-mail me as soon as possible.  frank@saltlakementalhealth.com

Read More →

Next FREE class to begins Saturday April 26th, 2014

Happiness 101 works! – and we have the numbers to prove it!

Using scientifically validated instruments, students of Happiness 101 show a decrease in depression and increases in their happiness, optimism, belief that they can make a positive impact in their own life and self-esteem. The evidence is so compelling we are working toward getting published in the Journal of Positive Psychology!

Here are some testimonials from a recent class:

“Happiness 101 helped me cross the bridge between understanding that attitude change is possible to experience attitude change.”

“I feel much happier now that I have taken this course.”

“[The] Self-Esteem [portion of the class] was a HUGE eye opener for me and one of those moments in life where it is a light bulb moment.”

“I have looked myself in the mirror and found so many things that I have loved about myself that I didn’t know existed.”

“I appreciated discovering more of my negative thinking errors and taking more responsibility for them.”

“I have learned that I have always had happiness inside of me and I always knew what made me happy.”

“It was humorous, enlightening, challenging, and affirming.”

“REALLY appreciated learning about self-esteem!”

“I usually don’t do well with change but the knowledge. I have now gets me excited to move forward with a clear mind and I am ready to see what the future has in store for me.”

“Since starting this class I’ve learned so much about myself and how I can become happier.”

“I have really enjoyed this class. I have seen a change in me.”

The next Happiness 101 class will be held on Saturdays April 26th to June 14th from noon to 2pm. Click here to find out more about Happiness 101.

Frank Clayton, The Happy Therapist
Clinical Mental Health Counselor

Read More →

IPPA’s 3rd Congress Day 1

What an absolutely amazing day!  And it’s only the first day of the International Positive Psychology Association’s Third World Congress!

It’s rather difficult for me to describe what it is like to (on these rare occasions) be with my own kind.  By this I mean that people really enjoy learning about Happiness from me in Happiness 101 but there aren’t other “faculty” to really talk to.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons I really enjoy teaching the class and public speaking – I just LOVE talking about it!

It started in the van ride from LAX to the hotel.  Four of us were there for the congress.  Now, regular (“normal”?) people usually need some sort of legitimate reason to strike up a conversation.  Not us!  Not when we’re in close proximity like that.  Suddenly I was among my people again.  People who completely get it.  There was Paula the school administrator from Rhode Island who is using positive psychology to bring hope to those just entering the job market.  Misa was the student from Washington state and figuring whether positive psychology will be her niche (she’s already got the bug, I can tell).  There was Evona who was of Polish decent (complete with the accent) using positive psychology as a business coach in Philadelphia.  Now, mind you, I was running very, very late for the pre-conference talk by Barbara Fredrickson.  I would never say something as blasphemous that I did not care about missing one of THE giants in positive psychology speak…. let’s just say that I was using Flow (a concept well established in the world of positive psychology) as an amazing distraction.  Paula, Misa, Evona and Frank.  Strangers only moments before.  Felt like family.

I truly was fabulously late for Dr. Fredrickson’s talk about genes and how they play a roll in Happiness.  Listening to people of this caliber is amazing and wonderful and also challenging.  I have a genius IQ.  I am a smart guy and I had to literally strain my brain to fully comprehend what she was sharing with us.  I could feel the vein in the middle of my forehead shudder and twitch as I strained to comprehend.  She was purporting that we are hard wired to strive for Happiness but not quite in the way we thought.  She compared Hedonic Happiness with Eudainomic Happiness.  Basically this was comparing the kind of Happiness in which we are only concerned with ourselves vs. the kind of Happiness we achieve when helping others – and why sometimes philanthropy (giving, volunteering) doesn’t bring us Happiness.  After it was over, she was mobbed much the way actors or rock stars might be.  I’ve had my picture taken with before and I was sure I would again before the Congress was over, so I decided to find my hotel – instead I found a friend.

with Patrea

with Patrea

Patrea and I met at the 2nd World Congress.  She is from Australia where she works as a Positive Psychology Therapist.  It was like finding the friend you made at Disneyland but only seems to materialize there AT Disneyland.  She is a wonderful person to share the experience the Congress.  We gabbed away and compared notes, excitedly asking one another which workshops we would attend (there will be 114 presentations in the four days – a lot to choose from!)   We also got caught up, like friends do.  I don’t think we stopped talking until the presenters started speaking.  Sometimes the talking was not necessarily to each other.  We would randomly strike up conversations with the nearest attendee.  Name badges tell your name and where you’re from.  Sometime geography alone was reason enough to talk to new friends.

 

 

Frank with "Mike" Csikszentmihalyi

Frank with “Mike” Csikszentmihalyi

Patrea is quite brash and she commandeered two seats right up front.  Aside from the reserved seats, they were literally THE best seats in the house!  Jane McGonigal (who uses positive psychology to create games to make the world a better place (see Super Better) breezed right by me.  I noticed that Mihay (“Mike”) Csikszentmihalyi (the father of the Flow concept) was only a few feet away – unguarded.  I asked for a picture and he graciously agreed and chatted for a moment.  Martin Seligman (the father of positive psychology itself) and Roy Baumeister talked for the majority of the Congress’ kick off.  I was truly blown away.  The concepts that these giants in positive psychology shared with us lead me to say the word “Wow!” and embarrassingly high number of times on my video immediately following.  They spoke eloquently and convincingly about:

How our language can indicate our negativity and accurately predict heart attack.  They were able to do this with scientific methods using a method called “coding” language on Twitter.  He also shared with us language that can make you more hopeful and optimistic – which according to their study will reduce the risk of heart attack!

Both Seligman and Baumeister both talked about the  science that demonstrates the importance of thinking about and conceptualizing a bright(er) future.  No future?  No hope.

 

More soon.  It’s after 2am.

Read More →

It is easy to feel powerless against the recession. Headlines are rife with doom, and we have control of almost none of it: unemployment, the housing market and the national debt. In this constant stream of negativity, it is easy to focus on what we do not have control of and forget about what we do have control over.

How can one person feel worried sick while the next person is not? Why is one person depressed about the layoff while the next person is actually happy about it? The answer lies not in the circumstances but how we handle it.

I, myself, have been laid off during this recession, and I have struggled with depression and pessimism for most of my life (see “My Story: From Suicidal to The Happy Therapist“). Therefore I can deeply empathize with clients and students who tell me their story, which is usually peppered with words like “stuck,” “trapped” and “can’t.”

It is important to acknowledge sadness, hopelessness and worry. These feelings are not merely uncomfortable emotions — they are guideposts to feeling better; a divining rod to their belief system. In the very first class of Happiness 101, I tell students not to slap a plastic smiley face over their pain but to feel it and learn from it.

Positive psychology teaches that each emotion is feedback to us about our underlying belief system. It is here that we find choice and empowerment. For instance, if a man feels shame because he was swept away by the latest wave of layoffs, he might have an underlying belief like “If I am not providing for my family, I am a failure.” You will notice this belief statement leaves little room for extenuating circumstances — for instance high unemployment rates.

We do not have control over the world or national economy, but we do have control over our own belief system. In this example if the man replaced his belief with “As long as I am doing my best, I am okay,” instead of feeling shame, he might not only feel hope but possibly pride because his focus is on his efforts and not the outcome.

Whether suffering job loss, death of a loved one or a personal failure, we can always choose how we weather the storm. In his famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

James Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sail.” You might imagine that one person who believes he is helpless against the storm of the recession would have a very different feeling than the person who believes, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” (“Invictus,” William Ernest Henley)

After people have told their story and properly honored their feelings, they might be open to discussion about what they do have control over, rather than lamenting about what they do not. In the above example, this hard-working American had no control over being laid off. He can continue to apply for jobs but have no control over call-backs. He can do well in the interview but still not get the job.

Research has proven (Dan Gilbert, “Stumbling on Happiness”) that when people feel that they have no control, depression often follows. This is why it is important (at the appropriate time) to turn discussion toward what one does have control over.

In session, I challenge phrases like “I’m in a rock and a hard place,” “there’s nothing I can do” and “I am trapped.” Invariably I find that there are many choices — all at varying degrees of attractiveness.

For instance, the unemployed man might believe that his only option is to just keep applying for (local) jobs and pray that something comes through. When brainstorming, he might find several other options including: filing for bankruptcy, taking a job out of state, renting out the basement, filing for unemployment, asking for loans from friends, moving in with mom and dad and/or starting his own business. This man might find all of these options to be unsavory, but I have found that depression immediately begins to loosen its grip when we explore what is possible rather than lament over the lie that “there is no hope.”

We may not have control over the economy, but we do have control over our pessimism. If you believe that you are born pessimistic, I would like to point out that this too is a belief. Ironically if you believe yourself to be a born pessimist, you will behave accordingly, making no effort to change. Pessimism can not only poison one’s attitude toward braving the economic storm but it can adversely affect decisions that might have helped to pull you out of it.

For instance, if one says, “What’s the point in applying for the job? I’m not going to get it anyway” and he does not apply for the job, then his prediction comes true. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.” Hope is always a choice.

I have documented the progress of dozens of students and found that those who make the greatest progress are those who turn from hopeless to hopeful during the eight-week course. You can test your own level of optimism at www.authentichappiness.com and start improving your outlook by taking your cues from the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, in his book, “Learned Optimism.”

Cultivating optimism is just one of 12 scientifically proven happiness activites suggested by Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, “The How of Happiness.” Others include:

  • Expressing gratitude
  • Practicing acts of kindness
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Savoring life’s joys
  • Practicing religion or spirituality

Focusing on these activities (which you do have control over) will help you to feel empowered. Focusing on what you do not have control over will likely lead you to feel helpless and disempowered. There is much in this world over which we have no control — including the recession — but we always have control over our own positive attitude. The Nazis could not take it from Viktor Frankl. The recession can not take it from you. You always have a choice.

Frank Clayton, LPC

Read More →

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn AchorI am very, very picky about recommending books about happiness or positive psychology. At a minimum the books must be able to back up its claims with scientific evidence. Therefore my recommended reading list is only one page long. Not only did I add The Happiness Advantage to the list, but it bumped Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity out of the #2 slot, just behind the text we use in Happiness 101, The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. In short, it is a fantastic book!

Though The Happiness Advantage is rife with scientifically backed information, Shawn Achor manages to present this information in fun, interesting ways. The seven principles he teaches in the book are easy to understand but even more importantly are easy to remember. Even before the last page was turned, I was using his techniques to improve my life. Let me put this into perspective for you: I am the Happy Therapist and have been teaching Happiness 101 for over three years and there was information in this book that I had never been exposed to and/or methods that had never been explained in such a direct, doable manner. I highly recommend The Happiness Advantage.

I will be referencing The Happiness Advantage a lot in the upcoming Happiness 101 class. I found that all seven principles could easily be woven into the class. The stories Achor uses to drive home his points are engaging, memorable and entertaining, making it a fun read. He is a great presenter as well. Click here to see his TED video. Whether via book, video or live presentation, I highly recommend you get a Happy, healthy dose of Shawn Achor any way you can get him.

~Frank Clayton, LPC

Read More →

The Happiness Consultation is designed for people who want to be Happier fast and/or have a schedule that makes coming to Happiness 101 difficult. It is also convenient because consultations can be done in the comfort of your home via telephone.

  • You will receive a copy of the text used in Happiness 101
  • Track your level of happiness and depression
  • Discover your innate personal strengths
  • Create a Happiness Plan tailor made for you
  • Receive a total of one hour consultation with a professional specializing in Positive Psychology

Cost is only $100! Cash, check, credit-cards and Pay-Pal accepted.

E-mail me to arrange for your Happiness Consultation today

Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor

Read More →

SALT LAKE CITY, Frank Clayton, KSL Contributor — In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl noted that one thing the Nazis could not take away from their captives was their attitude. Mindfully choosing your attitude and thereby your subjective experience is one of the cornerstones of my class, Happiness 101. I pound, “You always, always, always have a choice!” Unfortunately, many people are either unaware of the unhappy choices they are making or unaware that they can make a different choice. I will use the holiday season as an example.

I have heard people complain about various aspects of the holiday season that they dislike. “Ugh! I have to go Christmas shopping.” “I hate putting up the tree.” “Christmas is so commercial and superficial!” You can almost hear them say, “Bah-humbug!” In each of these scenarios, choices are being made. The person might believe “this is just the way it is” and therefore make no effort to change their subjective experience. They might not be aware that this is an attitude they are choosing.

There are things that we as human beings have control over. The most overlooked of these is our belief system. We have beliefs about virtually everything. Once those beliefs are put into place, they are usually accepted at least subjectively as the truth. We base our decisions and experience our lives based on these “truths.” If you believe “life sucks” then that belief is going to permeate throughout your life. Likewise, if you believe “like is amazing,” that too will greatly effect your life. In the KSL article, the Eight Steps to Happiness, I offer a specific method to changing your subjective experience. This works well to change deep-rooted beliefs but also behaviors which effect our happiness daily.

Research has found that we make better decisions when we solicit feedback from others (Dan Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness). In that Christmas spirit, I asked some of my Facebook friends for suggestions on how we might turn these unhappy holiday experiences in to happy ones. Here were some of the suggestions:

To make Christmas shopping more enjoyable, Diane and Ericka suggested shopping online. Mrs. Roundy said to keep things in “perspective …. people watch, go with a trusted friend and enjoy lunch. Also, give yourself more time.” I especially liked Cat’s comment, “Instead of focusing on how ‘I’ feel, I try to think of others and how they might be feeling. Who are they, who are they buying gifts for, do they seem happy or harried? When I smile more and ‘get out of myself’ more, it’s a different experience.”

For those that may sour Christmas with a belief that it is superficial, Kelly suggested that we “focus on ‘the reason for the season’ — give gifts of time or homemade.” Ms. Barney thought we should “Make handmade cards and write to the people you care about and tell them why you are grateful to have them in your life. You could include a ‘coupon’ redeemable for an act of service or spending time with them in the coming year.” Lisa said it well, “If I connect with the concepts of generosity in giving and in seeing God/joy in the faces of strangers and allow the birth of joy and light within me, I will enjoy the entire month.”

To put the joy into decorating the Christmas tree, Mrs. Potter suggested removing the step of putting on the lights by purchasing a pre-lit tree. Valerie suggested the personal touch, “We buy a new ornament for loved ones each year and make it a personal happy experience.” This would spark a walk down memory lane of Christmases past and the wonderful experiences found there. Kelly suggested adding “family, music, tradition, treats” to the decorating experience. Catalina thought outside of the Christmas box by luxuriating in a Christmas free of decorations.

I especially like Catalina’s suggestion because it puts choice back into the holiday season. If we believe that we have to do something, there is often a heavy sense of obligation and possibly resentment. Reframing a “have to” into a “get to” can make a small but powerful difference. Do you really have to go Christmas shopping? No. You could choose not to participate. You may ultimately choose to do so anyway but just recognizing that you have a choice can be enough to rekindle the holiday spirit.

If having a happy holiday season were a choice, what would you choose? Since it is a choice, I invite you to explore your attitudes and behaviors. Use the Eight Steps to Happiness to become mindful of choices you might be making that lead to holiday grumpiness. Develop a robust pool of alternatives that might lead to a happier holiday. Make a new choice. If you do not like the result, you are still probably better off than you were when you started and you can always go back to your brainstorming pool to make another choice. Use this method to have a happy holiday season. But why stop there? You can choose a happy new year and a happy life. It is, of course, your choice.

Read More →