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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Ace Test Prep

It was a great day in Happiness 101.
The class has been growing so much that we outgrew my space! Last week we had 13 people with a record number of new students (four). Seeing that the class was growing bigger than my waiting room, I talked to Brent Dunn, CEO of Ace Test Prep, one of my neighbors where my office is located. Ace has two big classrooms there where they help people get ready for the LSAT, GMAT, MCAT and DAT tests. When I explained my “problem” to Brent, he was more than Happy to help out. He really likes that Happiness 101 is spreading Happiness and that it is something people can get for free during these challenging times. This deal was struck merely two hours before students would attend the class. It turns out it was a good thing we had more space because we had a record-breaking 16 students in class tonight! That included THREE new students (thank you meetup.com. So, I wanted to publicly express my appreciation to Brent – THANK YOU, BRENT! I also wanted to say “thank you” to the students of Happiness 101. It is a great honor to share the scientific data behind true Happiness. I appreciate you spreading the word, sharing your smiles and being my teacher at times.
What’s next? I’ve applied to teach Happiness 101 at the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning Center and maybe, just MAYBE streaming the class live on the internet. Did I mention that in August Happiness 101 is going SKYDIVING? In any case, Happiness is spreading through Happy Valley.
Frank Clayton, LPC
P.S. Just a reminder that the Unresolved Grief Group starts Wednesday, March 3rd and the Forgiveness Group begins Wednesday, March 10th. Both classes begin at 7pm

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On the issue of forgiveness, the founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman said “Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.”
In her book, The How of Happiness Sonja Lybuomirsky lists forgiveness as one of the 12 Happiness Habits, but admits it is the most difficult one to do.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about forgiveness. It is not to condone the offender. Forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself, taking back your own power, severing the control the transgressor has over you and your happiness. Understanding forgiveness is only part of the battle. We are not readily taught HOW to forgive. This Forgiveness Group will give participants an opportunity to learn more about forgiveness but more importantly HOW to do it.
Those wishing to attend the Forgiveness Group will need to consult with myself to ensure appropriateness and a good fit for the purpose of the group. This consultation will take 10-15 minutes and is offered free of charge. Cost of the group will be $25 for 1.5 hours of group time. This will be a closed group. This means that once it has begun, new people wishing to join will have to wait until the next group begins (apx six months). This group will meet twice a month, on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 7pm. Location: 220 East 3900 South #7, Salt Lake City. To arrange a consultation or if you have any questions, E-mail me at frank@saltlakementalhealth.com or call 877-476-6338 for recorded information.

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During the discussion about forgiveness on the October 6th Happiness 101 class, it became apparent that several members of the group had things they wanted to share on the subject of forgiveness; things that were on an emotionally deeper level. Since Happiness 101 is a classroom format we decided to keep the class discussion more on that level. The students did express a desire for a one-time group, specifically to discuss forgiveness on the aforementioned deeper level. Therefore, on Monday, October 26th, we will have a group therapy session to address any issues related to forgiving others. This will occur at my office (220 East 3900 South #7) at 7pm. This will be a paid event (Happiness 101 is a free class). To make it affordable, I will charge my standard fee for the 90 minute group, however, the fee will be evenly split among the participants. So, if 12 people show up, they will each pay $10 ($120) or if six people attend, they will each pay $20. The students seemed to like and appreciate this out-of-the-box arrangement and I like it because it creates a natural incentive to bring a friend. As always, you may call 801-262-0317 for recorded information.

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In our society we are urged to forgive but until the last few decades little had been written on specifically HOW to do that. What does it look like (actions)? What does it feel like emotionally? Unfortunately because we have not been taught how to forgive, it makes it very difficult to achieve and then we not only have the burden of ill feelings but we usually stack guilt on top of it.

In her book The How of Happiness, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky admits that forgiveness is one of the most challenging Happiness Habits to achieve, but has great benefits to Happiness. It IS difficult to strive for Happiness while dragging around all that baggage. Dr. Lyubomirksy writes, “Forgiveness is not reconciliation-that is, it does not necessarily involve the reestablishment of the relationship with the transgressor. Nor is it equivalent to pardon, which is a legal term and is something usually accomplished within the justice system, or condoning, which implies justifying, minimizing or tolerating the victimization or hurt, thus eliminating the need for forgiveness entirely. Forgiveness does not mean excusing, wich offers extenuating circumstances or a “good reason” (i.e., “He did it when he was high on drugs”) or denial of harm, which connotes the Freudian concept of repression, or an unwillingness to accept what had occurred. Finally, “forgive and forget” is a misnomer, inasmuch as forgiving does not involve a decaying of memory for the hurt. Indeed, truly forgiving someone involves contemplating the injury at some length while forgetting the injury would make that process rather difficult.”

So, the covers what forgiveness is NOT, but what IS forgiveness? Forgivness it is a process. Like grieving, we may want to hurry up and get it over with. On Tuesday, October 6th, 7pm, we will go more in depth into Dr. Lyubomirsky’s book. We will have copies of The How of Happiness for you to borrow or buy. Happiness 101 is a FREE weekly class about Happiness – what it is and how specifically to achieve it through proven scientific methods. Call 801-262-0317 for recorded information or just show up: 220 East 3900 South #7, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Frank Clayton, LPC

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Frank Clayton before boarding for the skydive.

Frank Clayton before boarding for the skydive.

Have you ever just had a very strong feeling that a shift is coming? A change of the tide of your life?
That is how I felt the morning of July 24th.
I had spent several hours journalling, forgiving and releasing old baggage that no longer served me. I was ready to fly – and fly I did.
I was scheduled to arrive at Skydive Utah (in Erda) at 2pm. I showed up a little early. My wife was out of state. Yes, she knew about my decision to jump. Though she never said she was worried about her husband jumping from 13,000 feet, she did cheerfully insist that I call her right after the jump.
I sat through a 20 minute video, giving all the expected legal disclaimers and exactly how to “jump”. You see, in a tandem jump (where an experienced diver is strapped to your back) you don’t actually jump. You get yourself in position (toes over the thresh hold, grab hold of the shoulder straps (the “chicken wing”) then you let the INSTRUCTOR do the actual jumping. I don’t know why, but I took great comfort in this.
While I waited, I watched others jump. It was an amazing thing to watch. I later learned that some of those gracefully floating back to earth had only earned their certification to do so (solo) that very morning.
I felt a nervous anticipation. Most of my concerns were dispelled when I met “Fish”, my instructor. He was really nice, took very good care of me making very sure that I was comfortable. Fish was from South Africa and had recently married a fellow jumper. He had 3,400 jumps under his belt. I knew I was going to be okay.
As I said in the video, I honestly expected to become paralized with fear at any moment or lose my lunch as the time to jump grew near. Instead, I felt very happy, enjoying the moment. I savored the details. The other people that were preparing to jump. The beautiful scenary. I enjoyed the anticipation I felt before the jump. I would never have another first jump again. So, I enjoyed all of it.
At 13,000 feet, they opened the plexiglass door. The cold air hit me. I watched the others who, without hesitation moved to the door and wasted little time jumping. As each body left the plane, I knew my turn was coming fast.
To be continued.

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Everyone has  their own way of doing things.  The path of Happiness looks different for each person.  On July 24th I took a giant step toward happiness. A step from 13,000 feet above Erda (just west of Tooele). 

Since April I have immersed myself in the study of Happiness, primarily relying on the text from The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.  In the book, she does a GREAT job of offering specific, empirically based paths toward Happiness.  While she DOES touch on the issues of ceasing behavior that contributes to our unhappiness, in my opinion, that part of the equation is not emphasized enough.  Striving for happiness while thwarted by unhappy habits is counter productive.  So as part of this new beginning I took an honest look at my own behavior and realized there is a lot of room for improvement.  Rather than being deflated by this realization, I was excited!  For each unhappy habit I identified, I knew this was more weight I could let go and thereby become even happier.

First on the list was forgiveness.  As I have taught in the class, I believe forgiveness to be more a process than a finish line.  So, on the morning of the jump, I wrote down each person I felt any traces of resentment and forgave them – including myself.  Many of us were taught that we should forgive and move on, never to dwell on the offense again.  Some claim to have the ability to forgive major offenses quickly and easily, never to think of it again.  For the majority of people, this expectation only leads to guilt and frustration when feelings of resentment rise again.  You may have said words to yourself like “I thought I already forgave this person!  Why can’t I seem to let it go?”  So, as I took another step on the pathof forgiveness, I remembered that forgiveness is a process – that some of these people I have forgiven before and was open to the possibility that I may feel the need to forgive them again in the future.  That said, after four hours of journaling, I felt cleansed and ready to start a new chapter in my life as a happier person.

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MonkTwo monks spent time in prison where they were brutally tortured.  Years after their release they met on a road.  One monk asked if he had yet forgiven his tormentors.  The monk replied, “Never!  I will never forgive them.”  His fellow monk frowned and said, “Then I guess they still have you in prison.” 

There are many misconceptions about forgiveness – that it is a pardon or is in some way saying what happened was “okay”.  On the “Happy Hour” this week, we will discuss forgiveness further – about the process of forgiveness, when NOT to forgive and when TO forgive.  We will also talk about various styles of doing so.  Join us Monday, July 13th at 5pm.  “Happy Hour” is a class about Happiness offered free of charge via conference call.  The number to call is 1-309-747-2560  Access code: 951526#

~Frank

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Happiness 101 is a FREE class on Happiness.  I teach it in my office every Tuesday at 7pm.  We have consistently had around eight people per class and it is a GREAT group of people!  Here is a quick list of upcoming topics for the class

      June 23nd – Forgiveness.  What it is (and is not), WHEN to do it and how to do it

      June 30th – WORRYING, Part I – Several specific tools on how to STOP!

      July 6th –  WORRYING, Part II – How to make worrying your ally.  Worrying vs. Thinking

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