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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Tonight on my way home, I found myself behind a slow driver. As I am becoming ever more mindful I recognized the feelings that began to swell within my heart and used the 8 steps to Happiness. I became mindful and asked myself whether getting irritated is what I really wanted. When a resounding “no” filled my brain I thought of other reactions I might have. Then I chose to bless the driver and have compassion in my heart recognizing that one day I might drive that slow and would hope that others would have compassion for me. Today I appreciate the slow driver that taught me patience and empathy and gave me another opportunity to demonstrate a new, happier way of thinking.

Frank Clayton, the Happy Therapist

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Suppose you just got the news. The doctor told you that you have 24 hours to live.
What would you do? How would you spend that last 24 hours? I bet you wouldn’t be fretting over the phone bill being a day late. My guess is you would not waste one minute on argument – not even for the principle of the matter.
Would you have any regrets?
If you had known that THIS was going to be your last day on earth, would you have lived your life differently?
Would you have looked deeply into the eyes of your loved ones when you said “I love you” for the last time or would have been the way you said it last time? When WAS the last time you told the people you love how much you actually care?

NOW, suppose in hour 23 (of your last 24), the doctor calls, apologizing profusely about mixing up the charts and announcing that you are not only NOT going to die today but by all accounts you are expected to live a long, healthy life.
Would your perspective change? Would you live your life from this day forward with a new appreciation?

It is honestly not realistic to live completely every day as if it were your last (Dan Gilbert explores this hypothesis at length in his book, Stumbling on Happiness). In fact, to do so would be to throw away one of humans most profound (and recent) gifts: the ability to plan into the future. According to Tal Ben-Shahar in his book, Happier, the way to true Happiness is to plan for the future and strive for our goals but to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Would your life be different if you thought you were dying and got a second chance? I invite you to sit with this notion. Not just finish reading this and go back to your life. Rather than EXPERIENCING the heart attack, car wreck or other unforeseen disaster, why not get your new lease on life RIGHT NOW? Pretend! Live the next 24 hours as if they were your last (nothing illegal or anything that would hurt another person, please) and then live the rest of your life with a fresh perspective.
Ready? Your new life begins in three….. two…… WON!

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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How would you like to enjoy your food much more while consuming far fewer calories?

Now, before I go any further I must say that I am not a dietician. I don’t even play a dietician on TV. But I do know a thing or two about Happiness. I can tell you that most people eat their food mindlessly, not truly tasting their food. I can also tell you that studies have shown that your enjoyment between your first and second bite of food plummets significantly (Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness). By the time you get to bites three and four, your mind is probably drifting to the day ahead or the day behind. So you are consuming a lot of food (and calories) with minimal pleasure. Why not try the Happiness Diet? I suppose we could also call it the Mindfulness Diet. Before you partake, look at your food. Notice the details, the contours, the difference from one side of the food to the other. If you won’t be breaking any major laws of protocol, touch your food. Close your eyes. “Listen” with your fingers. Once you have thoroughly examined your cuisine, take a bite of food and savor it. What is its texture on your tongue? Is your tongue having different experiences on the tip vs. the top vs. the sides? Though I am not a doctor either, it is widely known that different parts of the tongue experience food in different ways (see this article on Thinkquest on taste). Is there a smell that wafts from your food? Be sure to savor the aroma as well. You get the idea. There are five senses – use them. Experience the food. Simply by being mindful, you could experience more flavor in one bite than you could otherwise enjoy in an entire meal.

Savoring life experiences is just one of twelve Happiness Habits dished up by Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, The How of Happiness. Buy it here and/or read my review here. Join us for Happiness 101 to learn how to enjoy life more with a fraction of the effort.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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Many people give themselves permission to be mean to themselves.

Suppose you were walking along in a park and you heard one person saying things like:
“Who do you think you are?”
“Nobody likes you.”
“Go ahead and try it! You’re going to fall flat on your face.”
“You’re fat.”
“You suck!”

Toxic stuff, huh? You would probably be appalled if you heard another person say these things out loud to another person. You might even say something, “Hey! Leave him alone!” Most likely the hateful words would leave an impression on you – one that might last throughout the day. You might ask yourself, “How could someone be so cruel?”

If you are like most people you think things like this to yourself often. Why? Well, there are several reasons which I will discuss at length in the Happiness 101 class on June 7th called Befriending Your Inner Critic. Not only will you learn to identify your inner critic but instead of shutting it off, you can actually make it your ally! For now, I ask you to just be aware of this voice that says these awful things to you. What does it sound like? When is it most likely to spew its negativity? Though it sounds like the voice of authority, it is not in charge. YOU are. On June 7th, I will help you regain control over this important part of your life.

In the meantime, use the formula we use in Happiness 101:
Be mindful – be aware of the voice of the inner critic
Explore your options. What choices take you further away from happiness and which bring you closer? You can let the inner critic spew on or you can DO something about it.
Make your choice.
Implement your choice.

My hope is that you would put a stop to the internal abuse. One suggest is you can think or say “Stop!” – the same thing you might do in the scenario above.

Please. Be kind to yourself – at LEAST as kind as you would be to a stranger.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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Once upon a time, I worked at a residential treatment center (RTC) for teens. When parents reached a point where they did not know what to do with their child and felt that their kid was in danger of hurting themselves or others (through a variety of means) – in other words they were at their wit’s end – they would send them to such a facility. It was here that I saw first hand what a fundamental shift can happen when one focuses on the positive rather than the negative. At this RTC there were four different houses. One of the houses was struggling significantly. The staff were burned out and there was a great deal of acting out behavior by the youth. A nurse there said she could feel the negative vibe emanating from the house. Something had to be done. The powers that be decided to rotate the staff so that the teens had a fresh new team to work with. Before day one, the staff huddled and decided that they were going to do two things: enforce the rules and accentuate the positive. In other words they were going to focus on what was RIGHT instead of what was wrong. Three days later, the aforementioned nurse said when she walked into the house, she knew a significant change had occurred. The students were more than just compliant they were happy, courteous and kind to one another. They did their chores with little complaint and began complimenting one another as staff had done to them. Not surprisingly, the staff was happier too. From this movement sprouted the Positive Difference Program. When staff saw students going above and beyond, they gave them a Positive Difference card, describing how they had made a positive difference. Attached was a ticket that allowed them to participate in a drawing for prizes at the end of the week. Though initially cards were only given from staff to students, it was not long before students wanted to give them to each other. It went so far that students wanted to give them back to staff and to their parents. As you may imagine that within a month’s time, the house had gone from one with a bad reputation to being the house everyone (staff and students alike) wanted to be.
This idea was started by one person. One person that decided to focus not on what was wrong, but what was right; to compliment rather than criticize. It radiated out and changed their focus. It changed their entire way of thinking and permanently changed lives.
What do YOU focus on? What impact do you make? Because whether you realize it or not, you already impact others. Is it a positive one or a negative one (or something in between)?
YOU can make a positive difference – in your immediate family, your extended family, your work, your friends your church and beyond – even strangers on the street.
Be aware. Decide. Act.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

P.S. Attached is a short movie by Kurt Kuenne showing how one person can make a big difference

Validation

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In her book, Happy For No Reason, Marci Shimoff purports that everything we do can take us a little closer to Happiness, or a little further away. Nearly one year after I began studying Happiness, I still find this to be true AND have a lot more scientific evidence to back it up. The music you listen to, the clothes you wear, to complain or compliment or compare ourselves to the Jones’ – all of these things have an effect on your Happiness. The good news is that if you are willing to listen, there is a voice inside you that knows. It is LISTENING to this voice that we often fail to do. The nutshell version of Happiness 101 is to raise your level of awareness of these decisions we make, decide whether they are making us happy (or not), then choose what to do about it. So, on some level you know that choosing the burger over the veggies is a step away from Happiness, but we often choose the immediate gratification over Happiness. Is racing home making you Happy – or would it feel better to Happily share the road, feeling good about letting people in your lane? Water or soda? What does your GPS tell you will make you happy? You have it. It’s in there. Listen to it. You’ll be Happy you did.
~Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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TextingSocial connectedness is one of THE biggest predictors of Happiness. Just to be clear, the connection I am speaking of, does not involve wires. It seems more and more common to see people sitting at a table, staring intently NOT into one another’s eyes but to their phone. There is great irony in having such a passion for communicating with one another electronically while ignoring the person we are with. It seems that the more we plug into cyber space, the more we unplug from one another. Not only is intimacy lost, but miscommunications are rampant. For instance, sarcasm does not translate well in typed form and often the message intended is not the message received. Only a fraction of our communication is the exact words used. Most of it comes from the tone, volume, and cadence of what is being said not to mention non-verbal communication. In my practice, I hear more and more couples arguing about issues that started in text, E-mail or something written on Facebook. Arguments that may have never started if they were just communicating with one another. Again, social connections are SO important to our Happiness and communication is a key element of our connection with others. I ask you to consider these points and make a conscious decision of how you want to handle this 21st century problem. My vote would be to PUT THE PHONE DOWN, look into the face of your friend or loved one sitting across from you and talk to them. That person and your connection to them is one of the ways you can live a happier life.

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