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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for all your help!
Frank Clayton, the Happy Therapist
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In Dan Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness, he advises that when faced with a decision, always seek out the advice of trusted friends or colleagues. I did just that with a big decision. Not only did this friend/colleague give me the advice, she backed it up with specific rationale. I feel very grateful for this friend and her good counsel.
(Note: I know I am being vague but until I am ready to make announcements, that’s how it has to be)
Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor
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As I stood before the row of printers, I felt daunted: which printer do I buy? Two that looked to me to be the same were $100 different in price. What brand? What features? Barry Schwartz has a great video on www.ted.com about choice. He talks about how because now there are so MANY choices we can feel overwhelmed. He goes on to say that we often end up leaving the store with what we THINK is the best purchase, but second-guessing ourselves. Dan Gilbert offers a solution to these conundrums in his book Stumbling on Happiness. The answer is simple: ASK Ask someone who is knowledgeable and/or someone who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. Enter Russ. I didn’t know it until later, but Russ was a manager in the store. He approached me and offered his help. We talked brands and prices and features. One of the best tips was to buy a brand that doesn’t gouge on the price of ink, namely Kodak. Not only are the ink cartridges affordable, they have adopted every Kodak printer to use the same ink cartridge. Yea!! No more trying to remember which numbered cartridge fits which printer. Not only that, Russ directed me to a model that had just come in, differentiating it from the Kodak model they were going to stop carrying. Win. Win. Win. Not only that, Russ personally took me up front, opened a register and checked me out himself. Because of Russ, I left Sam’s Club feeling very, very good about my purchase. Thanks, Russ!
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!
Licensed Professional Counselor
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The How of Happiness
As a therapist, you might imagine, I have had many, many self-help books suggested to me. I have become more and more picky about what books I choose. The criteria I have come to use is that the author have something to back up what they are saying. The advice might sound great, but is there anything to back it up. When I find myself with a self-help book in my hand, I immediately flip to “About the author”. Is the author a professional in some capacity? As a person, what sort of credentials do they have to back up their claims? The second thing I look for is where did they come by their information? This can mean quite a bit more flipping, especially if you are looking for something that is not there. Usually if a book is backed by studies or empirical research, it will be easier to find. They will want you to know, “Hey! I didn’t just make this up!” The writing of professionals hailing from academia seemed to be much more steeped in scientific study, so I lean heavily in that direction. Former Harvard profession, Tal Ben-Shahar pointed out in his recently released DVD “Happiness 101” (which you can find at www.PBS.org) pointed out that the academics have the knowledge but have had little voice. He shared that the average academic journal is read by seven people. So, use these quick tips to cut through the clutter. Here are a few gems on the subject of Happiness I highly recommend. Click on the book to find out about buying the book or click on the author’s name to find out more about that particular author:
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert
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Why aren’t we happier? There are a few reasons why people are not nearly as happy as they think they should be. One of these reasons is comparison. Here is a personal example. Everyone I knew had a cool new phone, so I wanted a cool new phone. So, I went to the phone store and found one that had lots and bells and whistles and gadgets and doohickeys! My techie geek glands kicked into gear and I started salivating and my eyes glazed over and I said “I want THAT one!” I was SO excited! I couldn’t wait to get it home and start playing with my new toy. Which had a very thick instruction booklet. In fact, here were online tutorials where I could learn how to use my brand new doohickey! There were so many thingybobs on my doohickey that before long I was frustrated. “I just want to make a call!” I shouted at the phone (though no one was listening). So, the phone was so complicated that it took me months before I had read enough of the instruction booklet, watched enough tutorials and called technical support enough that I felt comfortable even using the phone, let alone take pictures, E-mail with it and listen to my favorite music on it. The BEST feeling I had about that phone was in the store! So, what I thought was going to make me happy, didn’t! Before I go on, think about YOU. Think about your own life. How many times did you get what you wanted and it turned out that wanting was a better experience than having? Maybe it wasn’t with something as material as a phone. Maybe it was the job, or your spouse or having a child. Please take a moment to reflect before reading on.
So, back to the question, why aren’t we happier? Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness explains it like this, “The comparisons we make when we  estimate how much we will like things are not the same comparisons we will use when we consume them. This problem of shifting comparisons can bedevil our attempts to make rational decisions.” Using my phone as an example, I thought I would REALLY like it because it had all kinds of bells and whistles. But when I actually used the phone, I didn’t want bells and whistles, I wanted a phone that I could use easily. People do this a lot and this is one of the reasons I so enjoy teaching Happiness 101. I enjoy educating people about what will actually make them happy instead of what they THINK will make them happy. This Saturday, is Happiness 201. Yes, TWO-oh-one! After this four-hour workshop, you will walk out with a PERSONALIZED PLAN FOR YOUR HAPPINESS! I only teach this class every six months or so and it is only $50!! Well, it is $50 if you pay in advance. It’s $65 at the door and Saturday is sneaking up fast. So, “the door” is the one on my office – at 220 East 3900 South #7, Salt Lake City or if you are interested in paying in advance send me an E-mail at email@example.com or you can send me a message on Facebook. You can’t miss me, I’m the one with the big smile on his face!