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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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The news came on right after the opening ceremony of the Olympics and the first thing they reported were the two FLAWS in the performance. Wow. The news is negative enough but here was an opportunity to focus on the positive but the “news worthy” part were the mistakes. Not only that, they broke away from telling us more about the Olympic mistakes to tell of a local death. So, they actually are teasing the audience into watching longer so we can hear all about the blunder. Have you noticed the teases? A couple of days ago the weather man said a big storm was on the way, but he made a point of teasing us “Will it effect your morning commute” or will it be in the afternoon? He won’t tell us now, he’s going to tease us through the commercials. Often we are getting teased with bad news. Why do we take the bait? I could go off on a whole rip about that but for now I will ask you to think about YOUR reason.
Not surprisingly, studies have shown that watching the news contributes to depression. One researcher, sociologist John P. Robinson, who was involved in a Massachusetts 30 year study on the topic of television and its effect on our affect said, “TV doesn’t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does. It’s more passive and may provide escape – especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.” So, no big shock there but I try hard to always back up my rants with scientific data – something BEYOND my own opinion.
The last reason I don’t watch the news is because there is nothing I can DO about most of the news I hear about. Someone was killed – “That’s terrible.” A Holladay convenience store was robbed – “How awful.” Okay, yes, now I know about it, but what am I supposed to DO about it? I wish they had news that just talked about the things I can do something about. Occasionally there is a morsel of something *I* can do about, such as an Amber Alert or giving to Haiti but what is interesting is that I usually hear about these opportunities through the grape vine. You might say “Well, what if everyone did that? No one would be informed.” True. I’m not in charge of everyone’s happiness, however – just my own.
One alternative I have found to televised news is reading headlines on news websites. This way I can pick and choose my news and don’t have to get teased through commercials. Not surprisingly, I do gravitate to HappyNews.com and would recommend it to anyone that would like to focus on what’s RIGHT with the world.
~Frank Clayton, LPC
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Dear Dr. Lyubomirsky,
Words cannot convey what a thrill it was to receive your comments on the book review of the How of Happiness. I don’t know how much you had a chance to look at the website, but I have been teaching a class called Happiness 101, based largely on your book. Actually at one point I was teaching the class THREE times a week: once in the private practice, once as a conference call and once at my “day job” working at an adult day treatment unit. On September 12th I will be teaching a workshop based heavily on the book as well (I am calling it Happiness 201). I bought several copies of the book to give to participants of the class. I also direct people to your website (www.thehowofhappiness.com) whenever possible – including a link on my website (www.saltlakementalhealth.com) and my Facebook fan page (also called Happiness 101). I think anyone that is serious about being happier should start by reading your book. Looking to the future, I am hoping to teach Happiness 101 as an accredited class. Your book will be required reading.
Specifically, I so vehemently support your book because it is empirically based. I have picked up so many books in which the author is talking a good talk but find myself repeatedly asking “Where are they getting this?”, “What do they have to back this up?” In most cases I found their assertions to be subjective and therefore questionable. I also very much enjoy your style of writing. It is packed with information of happiness related studies while remaining down-to-earth and personable – a challenging balance to acquire! It is almost painful to see it sitting on the self-help shelf along with all the other books about happiness. Books like yours should have some sort of seal or special marking setting it apart from the others. I personally have two copies of your book. One to read and one to underline, highlight and scribble in the margins. I think every inch of white space has notes on it – even the cover!
It has been amazing to see the transformation in the “students” of the Happiness 101 classes. They are becoming Happiness ambassadors; teaching their friends, family and co-workers how to be happier. At the adult day treatment unit, many of the people I work with have been severely depressed for many years. Now most of them smile and eagerly share each week about the positives in their lives. We usually start the class by dancing to an upbeat, positive song. This week we got every single person on their feet – over 30 of them! They have HOPE, where they had none before. These are people with severe mental illness but because of your book, they have realized they have choices they can make to make their lives better. In turn, they inspire others – not only other clients but their friends, family members and even staff. After all, it is difficult to gripe about our problems when we see someone suffering from a severe mental illness making better choices and improving their lives. My “students” are an inspiration and many times my teacher.
I am incredibly excited to hear you are writing a new book! I will do everything I can to spread the word about the Happiness application for the iPhone (www.livehappyapp.com). What an amazing idea!! I’ll become a fan on Facebook, put a link on my website, tell my “students” and of course put the app on my own phone.
Your research and your book is changing many, many lives. Thank you SO much.
Frank G. Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor
The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky