Smiling dogPositive #1: Smiling dog.  Every time I look at this little dog, I smile.  Why?  Because it looks like he is smiling at me!  He is so cute and always enthusiastic (aka: Happy!).  A happy dog makes for a great companion in good times and in times of struggle.

Positive #2: Google photo sharing.  I am very impressed with this feature in Google that automatically saves pictures taken on my phone to the cloud.  I took the above picture and then thought about getting the wires to hook it to my computer.  Then I remembered this feature, went to the site and there they were.  Incredible.

Positive #3: Ingress’ in game ability to communicate.  There’s a really cleaver feature within the Ingress game that allows me to communicate with anyone playing the game at whatever level I choose (5k, 10k, 20k, etc. etc up to GLOBALLY).  It also allows me to talk privately to my team, allowing us to coordinate game play.  Case-in-point – looks like a team mate needs help in Lehi.  I’m off!

 

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I saw the moon smiling brightly through the window. My head was filled with new ideas about Happiness – ideas that would have been lost if I had not woke. It also allowed me the time to write my positives, starting the day on the right foot.

Frank Clayton LPC

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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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“Doodlie da’d” When I get a text message my phone uses a tone called “tri-tone”. But when I got text message tonight my wife told me I’d been “Doodlie da’d” (that’s kinda the sound it makes). She cracks me up. I’m still smiling as I write this.

 

Frank Clayton, the Happy Therapist

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You won't believe what this picture is made of. Read on.

In Happiness 101, we have four rules:

No Blame

No Shame

No Guilt

No Complaining

We call these rascals “Happiness Robbers” a term coined by Marci Shimoff.  In short, blame, shame, guilt and complaining emerge when we are in victimhood and not taking full responsibility for our Happiness.  As with any good rule, we also have consequences for breaking the rule.  The three consequences are: 1) sing a happy song for one minute, 2) pay $2 to charity and 3) give 10 positives.  Having these consequences does two things – it raises student’s level of awareness of what they are saying and the positive energy of the consequence offsets the negative energy brought into the class.

Well, it seems that I broke my own rule.  I complained.

On February 20th, I posted an article called “No News is Good News” in which I complained.  I will not make matters worse by reiterating it here.  I also will make no excuses.  I will, however, pay up for breaking (what has become) one of the rules of my life.  So, here are my 10 positives:

1) I am thankful to the banana peel.  This natural protective layer helps to keep the banana fresh and ready to eat.  Banana peels have also raised the level of “happy chemicals” in millions of people by way of slapstick comedy.

2) I appreciate aluminum.  This amazing light-weight metal has been used in everything from building materials to the container from which I drink.  It is also recyclable!

3) This shirt I am wearing.  Does a great job of keeping me warm and from scaring people away.  It is a navy blue polo with a kangeroo over (what would be) the left breast pocket.  It reminds me of a wonderful trip to Coff’s Harbor Australia and of the great time at the Sydney Aquarium.  This shirt has also been a great conversation starter, which has helped me to better connect with others.

4)  That my eyes are getting better!  My last optometrist had the foresight (sorry, couldn’t resist) to NOT give my eyes as much power as they craved in my last pair of glasses.  This made my eyes work harder and at my last check-up, the doc (a different optometrist) said I needed a new prescription because my eyes got better.

5) Spell-check.  Microsoft Word’s spell-check helped me to figure out how to spell optometrist.  I’m sure Spell-check has saved me on countless papers, E-mails and resumes over the years.  Thank you, Microsoft!

6) My grey scarf.  ‘Never was much of a scarf man – until this year!  In years past I complained a LOT during winter because of the cold.  Ironically, I had plenty of warm clothing to wear but did not wear it.  Teaching Happiness 101 has helped me to take true responsibility for my Happiness and so I have been dressing warmer – including my grey scarf.  It is long enough and short enough.  It is warm and doesn’t scratch.  It probably saved me from a cold this year – I haven’t had one.

7)  My wife’s blue eyes.  I appreciate my wife VERY much, but I always choose to appreciate something different each time I count the positives.  She, of course, was the very first blessing I counted on my very first list.  Her eyes are beautiful and sometimes sparkle with mischief.  I appreciate the love they have mirrored back to me for over 22 years.

8 ) Raisins.  The raisins in my drawer really saved me tonight.  I forgot to bring something to eat.  I’m glad someone took the chance to eat a dried up wrinkled grape.  Where would Raisinettes be without them?  The same place my stomach would be right now: empty.

9) You Tube.  I really love logging into You Tube after a long day and stumbling on all kinds of amazing, interesting and  funny videos.  Olga Kay is my guilty pleasure.  She makes me smile and laugh – BOTH which are good for my Happiness.

Click to see the art and the artist

10) Lint.  Hmmmmmmmmm  okay.  I’ll admit, I’m stretching on this one.  But that’s good!  It helps to stretch my positive muscles to think of how I could be grateful for lint.  Well, if we had no clothes, we would have no lint – so I can be VERY grateful to have clothes that made the lint.  But appreciating the lint on its own merits….. (stretching) I know!  If there was no lint, then there would not have been a need to invent a lint trap.  So inventing the lint trap put food on the lint trap inventor’s table.  I think his name was J. Ross Moore (yes, I tried to look it up).  Oh, one more reason to be grateful for lint: would you believe lint art?!?!  I just discovered this just now.  Wow!  Go Heidi Hooper!! Her art has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Wow!

I must say, writing those 10 positives and spending the time to write about and really appreciate these 10 things really lifted my spirits. Give it a try and please share your answers.

~Frank Clayton, LPC

Addendum:
Bonus!
11) Learning about Heidi Hooper and her amazing story of how she came to make her art out of lint. Click here to see the You Tube video of Heidi Hooper and how she turned her pain and her lint into art! Thank you again You Tube.

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Is this person genuinely happy?

Is this person genuinely happy?

In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman (or as I have started calling him, “Uncle Marty”) describes a study in which trained psychologists attempted to predict whether people would lead happy lives just by looking at their yearbook photo. Dacher Keltner and LeeAnne Harker studied the photographs of 141 women graduating from Mills College in 1960, specifically looking at their smile. A man named Guillaume Duchenne discovered specific markers of a genuine smile – namely the corners of the mouth turn up and the corners of the eyes crinkle – like crow’s feet. It turns out that the muscles that control these movements are difficult to control voluntarily and therefore are a good indicator of genuineness. They referred to the women with the less genuine smile as the “Pan American smile” – after stewards of the now-defunct airline. Do you suppose if they were truly happy and sporting the Duchenne smile that the airline would still be around? But, I digress. 30 years after the yearbook pictures were snapped, Keltner and Harker found that, indeed, the graduates sporting the Duchenne smile were statistically happier, reporting more personal well-being than the Pan-American smilers. Now, this of course does not mean if you were not genuinely smiling for your yearbook photo that you are doomed to a life of despair. On the contrary! It’s never too late! Studies have shown that your body has a biological reaction when you smile – Duchenne or even the “why do I have to pose for this picture” fake smile. Your body does not know the difference and so it releases chemicals into the pleasure center of your brain. So, smile more! It feels good to you and you will often find that people are friendlier and may even smile back. Or if nothing else, we can take our cues from Ziggy, “Smile! People will wonder what you’re up to.” ~Frank

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madRight now, I feel angry. I won’t bother with the details but rest assured, I am very, very angry.
Does this mean I am no longer a happy guy? No. It means that right now I am experiencing anger.
Ever the therapist (even in the midst of this anger) I take my cues from Tal Ben-Sharar, the professor teaching happiness at Harvard. In his book, Happier, Professor Ben-Sharar purports that all of our feelings are valid and that to resist these natural feelings is to continue to be snared in them – or you may have heard it phrased “What you resist, persists”. So rather than “shoulding” on myself and telling myself “You’re the Happy Therapist! You shouldn’t feel anger!” I am feeling it. I notice that as I gave myself permission to feel what I am feeling at this moment, I felt intense anger for several minutes and gave myself permission to vent. I further noticed that the feelings are disappating surprisingly fast. I couldn’t keep up that initial level of anger even if I wanted to. I feel better. Not calm. Not cool. Not “over it”, but definately better.
I share this experience with you to help dispell some of the myths of Happiness. Being a Happy person does not mean that I/we go about with a cartoonish smile painted on our face at all times. Happy people get over feelings such as sadness or anger faster than their unhappy counterparts (Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness). Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go scream into a pillow.

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Happy PillWhen struggling with symptoms of depression the first step is to rule out medical reasons.

I have permission from my client to tell the following story. Just the same I have changed his name to preserve his anonymity. I had been working with “Mike” for a few months and I just did not feel like we were getting anywhere with his depression. Then one week he came in for his appointment – he seemed like a changed man! He was smiling. His affect was brighter than I had ever seen it and he seemed much more at ease with himself. As soon as we were comfortably situated in our respective spots I asked him about the change. He said he had gone to his doctor for his annual check up. They found that he had a severe vitamin D deficiency. He had been on the supplements only a few days and his smiling face was the result. When I see him now he refers to his life before and after vitamin D. If ever I was a skeptic about vitamins before Mike, I certainly am not now. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels and your thyroid.

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