If you missed the first half of this post, please click here.  If you’d prefer to start at day one, click here.

Happy Therapist Frank Clayton with SuperBetter Hero Jane McGonigal

To be perfectly honest, I was so excited about my exchange with Jane McGonigal, I had trouble focusing in the next workshop (which I was running late for since I had been stalking Jane).  Too bad too because the talk focused on self-efficacy.  This is not a measurement of how well you can do something, but a measurement of how well you THINK you will do something.  Obviously if you do not think you are capable of climbing from the hole of depression, then that will effect how hard you try (if you try at all).  The presenter was heralded as an expert with so many accolades, the person introducing him had to skip that or there would have been no time for the presentation itself.  He was well-polished with Powerpoint slides popping about every minute.  However, there was virtually no interaction with the audience – not even at the end.  The information itself was well-researched and thorough – TOO thorough.  I am a pretty smart guy but this stuff was even over my head.  I am grateful that I will have the opportunity to later go over the slides again and hopefully be able to better absorb it.  One thing is clear: our self-efficacy is a very important piece of motivation, especially when it comes to happiness.  One thing I did get out of the talk is that self-efficacy can be measured and improved upon. Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 3.5

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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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In my experience as as a counselor, I find poor communication to be the culprit in most marital strife. As part of that miscommunication is: the signal sent is not necessarily the signal received. One of the most damaging of these miscommunications is a distortion in the language of love. Take a moment to consider:
How do you really feel love? Think of times where someone has done or said something that REALLY made you feel loved.
Conversely, how do you express love? If you want someone to know that you really love them, what do you do or say?
Suppose the way you say “I love you” is via gifts but the way your mate feels “I love you” is by spending quality time? Then your gift may not be appreciated and worse yet your mate may not feel loved. Maybe said mate is trying to tell you “I love you” by asking to spend time together, but you are too busy earning the money to buy the gift which you hope will let them know how much you really love them. In the meantime your mate may feel unloved.

The 5 Love Languages


In his book, The 5 Love Languages , Gary Chapman does an excellent job of explaining the five different languages of love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts and acts of service. On his website (www.5lovelanguages.com) you can take a brief test to find out what your primary love language(s) is/are. You can find his book at the local Borders or Barnes & Noble. I recommend reading it together. You can (literally) get on the same page, Kindle and rekindle the flames of love in no time.

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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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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Grief is tough. Two of the toughest parts of grief is feeling alone and not knowing how to grieve. In our fast-paced world, we are given very little time to work through our grief. This can leave us feeling like we “should be over it by now”. There are a lot of right ways to grieve. The only real way to do it “wrong” is to attempt to avoid it. Ironically and sadly, this prolongs the process. I have worked with many people recently who are struggling with unresolved grief. Specifically grief over the death of a loved one that occurred over a year ago and they are having difficulty getting past it. This unresolved grief obviously thwarts efforts to be happy.
To alleviate feelings of isolated, lonely grief and to help educate mourners on the process of grief, I offer the Unresolved Grief Group. Most of the work done in regards to grief occurs outside of the therapeutic arena. Therefore, this group will be offered once a month, to give mourners an opportunity to do the work needed between groups.
This will be a closed group. This means that once the group has begun, newcomers will not be allowed into the group. Those who attend are making a commitment to show up each month for 12 months. Group members must be screened by me to determine whether the person is appropriate and a good fit for the group. Such a consultation will be 10-15 minutes in length and that consultation will be free of charge. The cost of the group will be $25 for each group which is expected to last approximately one and half hours. The group will be held at my office (220 East 3900 South #7) on the first Wednesday of each month. To set up a consultation or if you have any questions, please E-mail me at frank@saltlakementalhealth.com or call 877-476-6338 for recorded information

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Sleep deprivation can definitely impede on your Happiness. In his book The Promise of Sleep (Dell, 2000), professor William Dement of Stanford University School of Medicine states that if American’s got just one more hour of sleep each night our “sleep sick” society would be much healthier and happier (Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness).
If you have difficulty sleeping, I prescribe some of the techniques we use in Happiness 101:
* Be mindful -of what you are doing or not doing that may be contributing to poor sleep
* Recognize what you have control over and what you do not. For example, staying up to watch Dave or Jay are within your control. What time the sun rises is not in your control.
* Make a plan. For instance, “I will turn off the T.V. at 10pm”.
* Implement the plan. “Do, or do not” and take full responsibility for that decision.

To help you recognize some of the little things you may unwittingly be doing to undermine your ZZZ’s, I direct you to sleep hygiene. There is much out there written on the subject. You have but to look. Please take care of yourself. Sleep and feel happier.
~Frank Clayton, LPC

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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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