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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Setting strong, realistic, do-able goals is SO important when it comes to Happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky named going after goals as one of the 12 Happiness Habits (The How of Happiness). Because this is so important, I invited Life Vision guru Ann Webb to the Happiness Boost internet radio show. It aired this morning. Ann was very generous in giving specific tips on not only how to make a good goal but how to see it come to fruition. You can listen to the show on BlogTalkRadio and you can find out more about Ann and exactly how she helps people to realize their goals on her website,

Frank Clayton, LPC

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Once you have chosen your goal, here are some tips for success:
“Do, or Do Not”. If you’re going to make a New Year’s Resolution, then DO IT and do it right! Be crystal clear about what it is that you want and why. Is it REALLY what you want – or something you THINK you should want. If you are not properly motivated to complete your goal, you will probably not have enough commitment to see it through.

Keep your goal in front of you. It’s simple. If you can’t remember your goal, you’re not going to accomplish it. I suggest that you find a way to keep your goal in front of you. I have a list that I use every day. If I want to add a new goal, I simply add it to my sheet. If you don’t keep a to-do list, you can keep your goal in front of you by making it the wallpaper on your phone or computer, make it your password or do it the old fashioned way: write yourself a reminder note. ‘Just make sure you move it around – if you don’t keep it fresh, you’ll stop “seeing” your reminder.

Reasonable Resolution: Start out small. Make it almost ridiculously easy. If your goal is to work out every day, start by walking at a leisurely pace for five minutes. It’s not about the sweat and it’s about the habit. You can always expand on your time and intensity later.

Make it Fun/Enjoyable. If there is any way to make your New Year’s Resolution fun or enjoyable, actively seek out a way to do so. Honestly, I do not enjoy exercise. But I do enjoy video games, which why I use my Wii to stay in shape. Find something that works for you and your goal.

Variety. Whether you want to eat healthier food, make more friends, exercise or have more fun, variety, as they way, is the spice of life. When things get rote or boring, we are more inclined to stop doing them. Don’t wait for it to get old. make a plan from the beginning to keep it fresh.

Be smarter than yourself. Try not to get yourself in a position where you’re white-knuckling. Make a plan to outwit your “present self” later. In the moment, your “present self” might think “one donut won’t hurt” and ruin your diet. Outsmart yourself by not buying the donuts in the first place. Beware of “seemingly unimportant decisions” or SUDs. You can usually tell a SUD because the words “just” or “only” is probably in the sentence. “I’ll just have one” or “I’ll only drive by the liquor store”. You know yourself. Plan for weak moments.

Give in – ONCE in a While. If you are too militant about your goal, it may suck all the fun and enjoyability out of it. So, if it is appropriate, PLAN to give in once in a while. I say PLAN because it is too easy to let your “present self” entice you to give in during a weak moment. If you’re really crafty, you might even use your “give in” as an incentive. For instance, let’s say that you have committed to stay within your budget. You could give yourself permission to spend some extra money on yourself if you stay within your budget for a month.

Support. Support is one of THE key predictors of success. In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky lists Support as one of the five keys of Happiness. Friends and family can offer informational support (tell you about support groups, or good books), emotional support (encourage you to keep going if you lose confidence, share in your struggles and triumphs) and tangible support (lend you a book or give you a ride to a class). Accountability is a huge piece of support. It’s one of the reasons Weight Watchers work. Sometimes accountability is one of the primary reasons and benefits my clients come to therapy. You can succeed by telling others about your goal and/or enlisting an buddy to help you succeed.

If your goal in 2011 is to be Happier, join us in Happiness 101. The next semester starts January 12th. Click here for details.

Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor

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January 22nd and 23rd

January 22nd and 23rd

If you were to start a journey destined for “happily ever after”, how would you plan your trip? Where exactly IS “happily ever after”? Is it on the map? What does it look like and how would you get there? To get where we are going, we must know where it is and how we are to get there. In Happiness 101 I teach what happiness is and give a specific road map on how to get there. Most of the classes have been geared toward teaching individuals how to be happy. After all, it is difficult to be happy in a relationship, if one does not first know how to make one’s self happy. Studies (Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness) show that being happy takes thought (mindfulness) and effort – to consciously make decisions that will bring you happiness. This too is the way to “happily ever after”. Many marriages float along on a current easily jostled by moods, events du jour and life changes. Business man Harvey MacKay said people “don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”. There are many business basics that can be applied to relationships. This is the foundational concept of Dino Watt’s Business of Marriage” workshop.
Dino Watt

Dino Watt

Think about it: Would a marriage not fair better with a specific plan for success. How about regular “meetings” where you could discuss how the relationship has gone thus far and what direction you would like to go – together, as a couple. Do you even know the aspirations to which your significant other is currently striving as an individual? How might those plans effect you? In this planning, communication is crucial. Therefore, Dino has invited me to teach about the basics of communication; to make sure the signal sent is the signal received. When I work with couples in my private practice we usually find miscommunication to be a basic part of the problem. In a very short period of time, you will learn how to communicate effectively and have the opportunity to practice it and use it in your daily life immediately. This technique is ideal when you do not feel heard, have difficulty saying what you want to say and dealing with irate people. I use this technique in my daily life as a therapist, a friend and a partner. Join us for “The Business of Marriage” workshop, Friday, January 22nd (starting at 9am) and Saturday January 23rd. Cost is merely $198 PER COUPLE! Plus you can get $50 off just by going to and use the discount code: Happiness101. This workshop is not only for those in relationship. It is also for people that want to be in a good healthy relationship. In other words, everyone is welcome! See you there.

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On October 20th, Happiness 101 will explore that Happiness Activity of committing to your goals. So, it seemed appropro to go over a few of the basics of goal setting:
* Measurable – It’s great to say I want to complain less, but unless the goal is measurable, it is difficult to know when you have crossed the finish line. If you said you want to decrease your complaining by 30% or down to less than 10 times per day THAT would be measurable.
* Time line – A good goal involves some kind of a time line. It might be a day or a week or it might be a year but there should be some kind of reasonable time set at which time you measure your success. Then if you need more time, simply set a new review date. Repeat until goal is complete.
* Attainable – To set yourself up for success, you want to make sure your goal is something you can reach. The “reach for the stars and you’ll at least hit the moon” is great but setting a goal you can actual complete is critical. This brings up another important point about whether the completing the goal is actually within your control.
* Is reaching your goal withing your control? If you set a goal to lose five pounds – is that within your control? How about a goal to get eight hours sleep? Much of this depends on the individual. If one has a thyroid problem or a newborn in the house, achieving these goals might feel very frustrating. If your goal was to work out for 30 minutes three times a week – THAT is more in your control than what the scale might say. Or you will go to bed at 9pm six out of seven days per week. With a newborn in the house, you might feel that you have little control over what time you wake up, but going to bed at a decent hour sets you up for success. Notice I did not say “go to sleep” – I wrote “go to bed”. If you have trouble going to sleep, I’m sure you can appreciate the difference.
* Baseline – To start, make sure you have some sort of measurement of where you are starting. For instance, if you want to lose five pounds, how would you know you had lost the five pounds unless you know how much you weigh now? If you want to complain less, you might spend a day counting the number of times you complain so you would then know later (when you count again) whether you are, in fact, complaining less.
* Accountability – I suggest telling someone about your goal and make a commitment to check-in about the goal at a certain date or even every week. This is one of the reasons Weight Watchers works so well.
We will discuss the issue of goals further in Happiness 101 on Tuesday 7pm at my office: 220 East 3900 South #7. Call 801-262-0317 for recorded information

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