Positive Psychology giant, Dan Gilbert advises in his book, Stumbling On Happiness, that when when one is unsure of what to choose, one should call for reinforcements; advice from others! There are SO many amazing lectures to attend at the upcoming International Positive Psychology Association’s 3rd World Congress, I’m not sure which ones to pick! So, I am inviting YOU to look over the schedule and make your suggestions. Of course if I go to the lecture you suggest, I will be talking about it at the upcoming Cutting Edge of Happiness talk (Saturday, July 8th, 9am to 1pm – click here for more info). Just look over the program in these following three pictures and leave your comments below – or you can also E-mail me at frank@saltlakementalhealth.com

IPPA Friday


IPPA Saturday









Thanks for all your help!


Frank Clayton, the Happy Therapist

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In Barbara Fredrickson’s book, Positivity, she lists only a few Happiness Habits that Sonja Lyubomirsky does not: Find Nearby Nature. I have found this to be especially soothing and relaxing. Between clients I often take 10 minutes to go over, slip off my shoes and walk barefoot in the grass. There are two nice shade trees and even a picnic bench. I go there at least once every weekday and I have never seen anyone else there using it (besides birds). It is a wonderful haven and helps me to connect with Mother Earth.

Frank Clayton LPC

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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

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Waking on the 4th and final day of the International Positive Psychology Association’s 2nd Congress was exciting.  More opportunities to learn but also I am going home today!  It’s been great to be here in Philadelphia, but as Dorothy said “There’s no place like home”.  When I offered to split a cab with fellow IPPA attendees, I got to experience reciprocity immediately when new found friend, David, told me that there was a shuttle that went from the hotel to the airport for a mere $10 AND I could reserve it for a specific time rather than potentially fighting the masses of not one but two conferences that let out at the same time.  This put any travel concerns to rest and let me relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.  Today was shorter than the rest with an opening by Richard Davidson, followed by two sets of break-out sessions, lunch then a joint finale with Richard Davidson and Barbara Fredrickson showcasing their best and brightest with cutting-edge research. Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 4

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Report from IPPA Conference, Day 3

Wow! What an absolutely amazing day! In case you’re just “tuning in”, today is day 3 of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association.
Here are the highlights:

  • Barbara Fredrickson (author of my #2 pick on Happiness, Positivity) talked about Love
  • Meeting Todd Kashdan and (what may be his last) talk at IPPA
  • Possible collaboration with positive psychologist and local, Lynn Johnson
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with a Positive Spin
  • Positive Computing
  • Meeting Jane McGonigal and using her on-line game to enhance Happiness 101
  • How much you think you can do something effects whether (and how hard) you try *
  • The use of strengths in therapy – the intermediate lesson *
  • Gala and the National Constitution Center *

* I will report on these tomorrow.

It was much cooler today. A blessing for my walk to my third download of information in the realm of positive psychology, a.k.a. Happiness! As I walked through City Hall in (literally) the heart of Philadelphia, I hummed a little tune. I was distracted by the richness and variety of the people as I walked. Per haps distracted enough by the suits, the homeless, the street venders, the skaters and the provocative dress, the song’s lyrics did not bubble to the surface until in the shadow of the Downtown Marriott. I murmured, “All you need is love. Bump-ba bump-ba bump. All you need is love. Bump-ba bump-ba bump. All you need is love, love – love is all you need.” As I realized I was humming a Beatles standard, I also realized that the topic of Barbara Fredrickson’s talk was “Love: A new lens on the science of thriving” Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 3

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Report from IPPA Conference, Day 2

Day two of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association was simply amazing.  I learned SO much!  At one point I laughed to my friend “Teacher!  My brain is full!”  Here’s a report of the day’s events:

It began with Ed Deci speaking about self-determination and its relationship to positive psychology – in other words: the self-fulfilling prophecy.  He showed scientific proof that believing that you are doomed and things will never get better can actually bring that about.  Using a simple analogy (of my own), if one is drowning and they really don’t think anyone will come to rescue them, they can behave based on this belief by not paddling and dying before help could arrive.  But Deci really wowed the crowd when he reported that studies repeatedly proved that external rewards kill off intrinsic motivation.  For instance, when we try to control our children either by giving them a reward for doing well (the carrot) or punishing them when they do not do well (the stick), we inadvertently are hindering our child’s innate love of learning!  You can bet I will be blogging more about this. Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 2

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Frank arrives at IPPA


It is very late (1:30am here in Philadelphia) so today’s report will probably be fairly short, but I have SO many exciting things to share with you!  Today was the first day of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association.  I was SO excited as I entered the downtown Marriott for the first time.  I saw a sign directing me up…. up…. (and away!)  Once in the right place, registration was a snap.  I was handed my IPPA bag and envelope (I felt like Charlie from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
One great surprise is that tomorrow (Sunday, July 24th) the IPPA is holding Special Interest Groups (SIGs) during the lunch hour.  There were several to choose from but I must say that I was happily shocked to see that Barbara Fredrickson will be hosting one of these SIGs.  She is the author of Positivity, which is my second highest recommended book (next to Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, The How of Happiness).  She will be talking on Monday and will be closing out the conference with Richard Davidson on Tuesday, but to get Barbara in small venue is quite a treat! Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 1
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In the PBS special “This Emotional Life”, host Dan Gilbert said that IF there was one key to Happiness it would be social connection. This has been indicated not just by studies by by meta-analysis (which is a study of studies). In Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, The How of Happiness she has “nurturing social relationships” as one of the Happiness Habits but also “social support” as one of the five HOWS of Happiness (you have a much better chance of succeeding in a lifestyle change if you have social support). In her book, Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson reports that studies have shown that spending time in nature can be one of the levers to raise positivity. So, I am excited about my opportunity to be firing on so many Happiness cylinders tomorrow as I go hiking tomorrow with a friend. It actually feels good right now just in looking forward to it – which I guess is employing another of Lyubomirsky’s Happiness Habits: Savoring Life’s Joys. That’s right – savoring can not only be savoring in the present moment but can also be relishing a memory from the past or envisioning good times in the future. See? There are many different ways to squeeze Happiness into your daily life.

~Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor

Why am I posting postives every day? In (the free class) Happiness 101 I teach about how to be lastingly happier. Writing positives each day is one of the techniques. Click here to find out more.

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Frank recommends: buy it in BULK

Barbara Fredrickson‘s book is a must-read for anyone who is serious about being happier.
Dr. Fredrickson was studying positive emotions even before Positive Psychology was officially formed. In fact, it was her research that got Martin Seligman so excited that he was running up the stairs two at a time, singing her praises. Positivity is jam-packed with research backed studies that will bring hope to the hopeless and broaden and deepen the level of happiness of even the happiest of people – including me! The most important message of the book: there is a “tipping point” of positivity. Dr. Fredrickson likens this to the transformation that ice takes on when exposed to a certain temperature – when ice becomes water. Her research proves that human beings have such a point when we transform from languishing to flourishing. Teaming up with other researchers, Dr. Fredrickson reported the exact tipping point to be 2.9013 to 1. Rounding up, she suggests that people strive to experience 3 positive emotions to 1 negative one. She reports that the majority of people have a positivity ratio of 2 to 1 and are considered to be languishing. Those experiencing a ratio of 1 to 1 (or lower) are usually diagnosed with depression. What is your positivity ratio? You can find out right now. But before you click on, two things: She suggests testing yourself often to get a true measurement of your overall positivity, so if you score low, don’t sweat it – you might just be having a bad day. Also, I (the “Happy Therapist”) scored in the languishing range myself. But the great news is that Dr. Fredrickson not only tells you what your score is, more importantly she tells you specifically how to raise your positivity score, that you may flourish! You can take the a self-test at www.positivityratio.com .

What IS “Positivity” exactly? Well, Dr. Fredrickson uses the word in place of “happiness”, deeming the word “happiness” as to broad and vague. “Positivity”, however is way of life stemming from joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love. She offers a new toolkit and specific exercises in her book on how to cultivate more of these feelings. Dr. Fredrickson also has a section on decreasing negativity, including how to deal with negative people. I personally loved the concept of “social aikido” (page 175).

My only criticism of Positivity is that Dr. Fredrickson at times offers so much research to support her points that one could get mired down in the data. I urge you to not let this dissuade you. There is true gold in Positivity and urge not only buy it, but buy it in bulk. You’ll want to give a copy to all your friends (and maybe even a few “enemies”). I will be using Positivity extensively in the next semester of Happiness 101. Join us.

Frank Clayton (a.k.a. The Happy Therapist)
Licensed Professional Counselor

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The How of Happiness

The How of Happiness

As a therapist, you might imagine, I have had many, many self-help books suggested to me. I have become more and more picky about what books I choose. The criteria I have come to use is that the author have something to back up what they are saying. The advice might sound great, but is there anything to back it up. When I find myself with a self-help book in my hand, I immediately flip to “About the author”. Is the author a professional in some capacity? As a person, what sort of credentials do they have to back up their claims? The second thing I look for is where did they come by their information? This can mean quite a bit more flipping, especially if you are looking for something that is not there. Usually if a book is backed by studies or empirical research, it will be easier to find. They will want you to know, “Hey! I didn’t just make this up!” The writing of professionals hailing from academia seemed to be much more steeped in scientific study, so I lean heavily in that direction. Former Harvard profession, Tal Ben-Shahar pointed out in his recently released DVD “Happiness 101” (which you can find at www.PBS.org) pointed out that the academics have the knowledge but have had little voice. He shared that the average academic journal is read by seven people. So, use these quick tips to cut through the clutter. Here are a few gems on the subject of Happiness I highly recommend. Click on the book to find out about buying the book or click on the author’s name to find out more about that particular author:

Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert

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