Write down three good things in your life every day to improve your Happiness. That is what Martin Seligman suggested based on his research about Happiness. Being the founder of Positive Psychology and the former president of the American Psychological Association, he can be considered a very reliable source. So three positives is good. Five positives are even better. In their publication Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough discovered that super-sizing the number of blessings you count each day has even more benefits. This why we encourage students in Happiness 101 to do this as a “Home Opportunity” (we don’t like to call it Home WORK, because that sounds too much like “work”).

I used to write my five things in my journal every day but then one day on a whim started sharing them on Facebook. Then I realized I have an internet presence in five different places, so why not spread the love?

For the other four positives, go to:

Happiness 101 Facebook Fan page
Twitter account)
My Facebook page
YouTube
Happiness 101 MeetUp.com page.

Feel free to share your own positives – here, there or everywhere.

~Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor

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By request, I have started posting my five positive things on Facebook again. It is a lot of fun sharing the positives. There is SO much for which to be grateful. An interesting phenomenon has occurred when I express gratitude for the things that do NOT happen. For instance, when I write “I am glad I did not get into a car accident today” I am frequently met with, “Did you have a near miss?” The answer is “no”. I did not have a near miss. Isn’t it an interesting reaction though? Must we have a near miss to appreciate what we have? Most of the time this is exactly what we (human beings) do. We take for granted the blessings all around us – not because we are an ungrateful by nature. It is due to a trick our brains play on us called Hedonic Adaptation (Sonja Lyubomirksky, The How of Happiness) also known as the Hedonic Treadmill (Barbara Fredrickson, Positivity). It’s just a fancy way of saying “We get used to it”. There is a remedy for Hedonic Adaptation: Gratitude. Just by taking a few minutes each day to stop and think about the many things we have to be grateful for can help us to appreciate them without the “benefit” of a near miss. Writing down five positives per day has proven (Martin Seligman, Emmons and McCoullough) to reverse the course of a downward spiral. If you are a bit rusty on counting your positives, I offer eight different ways to do so in the article Building Your Positive Muscles. There you will learn new ways to appreciate what you’ve got BEFORE it’s gone.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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Assertive Stance

Assertiveness got a somewhat bad rap in the 70s. What they were calling assertiveness in the workshops of that decade leaned heavily toward aggressiveness. The goal of true assertiveness is not to assert your will upon another – which is more the “I win, you lose” scenario (aggression). Emmons and Alberti do a wonderful job of explaining this important distinction in their book, Your Perfect Right. This is my go-to book when addressing the issue of assertiveness in therapy. They give many examples to help you look for the win/win solution and give clear language to help you speak and behave in a way that feels respectful not only to the other person but yourself. In Happiness 101, I talk a lot about choice and how every day in big and small ways, you can make choices that take you either closer or further away from Happiness. Of the four styles of conflict communication, assertiveness is the only option in which everyone wins. A collaborative, respectful approach is obviously the choice most conducive to Happiness. Join us on Monday, March 29th at 7pm for the free class Happiness 101 where I will go into more depth, giving you tools you can use right away to improve your relationships and, yes, be Happier.
Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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