Published on KSL
Let me start by saying a person should never, never, never go off their medications without talking to their prescriber. It is dangerous and potentially lethal.

According to the Behavioral Risk-Factor Surveillance System, Utah is currently the happiest state in the union. It is also one of the saddest. Utah sits right in the middle of the “suicide belt,” which stretches along the Rocky Mountains from Wyoming and Idaho, through Utah and Nevada and down to Arizona and New Mexico. As of 2008, the mortality rates gathered from the U.S. census indicated that Utah ranked ninth in the nation for suicides. In September 2010, the Utah Department of Health declared that Utah was the fourth greatest consumer of antidepressants in the nation with 12.71 percent of residents being prescribed antidepressants.

The problem is that these medications do not work on most of the consumers to whom they are prescribed. Continue reading Antidepressants don’t appear to work for most Utahns

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There was a student in Happiness 101 tonight that really made my day. We’ll call her “M.”, just because I don’t want to embarrass her. Tonight was her third time in the class and she said the class has made a huge impact on her life. She said she did not realize that her choices could effect her Happiness and that embracing that concept and putting it right to work has made all the difference. M. also shared how she was amazed at how writing down the five positives per day can have such a positive impact. M. helped remind me why I teach Happiness 101 and the real effect that it has on real people. Thank you, M.

~Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor

Studies have shown that writing five positives per day can decrease depression. This is one of them. This is just one of the tidbits from (the free class), Happiness 101. For more positives, click here..

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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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In my previous post (Be Right or Be Happy) I invited you to join us in the ranks of optimists. Well, last night I found out, I am not an optimist. In fact, I am “severely hopeless” according to the Optimism Test found at www.authentichappiness.com It might be tempting to dismiss the findings but actually I think it’s accurate. This could be one of the more important findings of my own path to be happier. You see, Martin Seligman purports that optimism can be dissected into two parts permanence and pervasiveness. So, when things go wrong, do you say something like “I’m so stupid!”? Can you see the pervasiveness and permanence of this label you have slapped onto yourself? In contrast, “Sometimes I do really stupid things” leaves room for hope. Okay, you made a mistake but are not damning yourself for all eternity. The latter statement also gives wiggle room that sometimes you do things right too – so it is not pervasive. These differences are subtle but significant. So, in taking the test and honestly looking at how I respond to such boo-boos, I am quick to judge myself harshly. This is GREAT! I feel the way I imagine kids who have struggled with a learning disorder might feel when being diagnosed: on the one hand, it’s difficult to be diagnosed as “severely pessimistic” but now I can DO something about it! Now I can make a conscious choice to start watching my self-talk and (out loud) language more carefully for words like “never”, “always” and labels. I can replace these words with more optimistic choices such as “sometimes” or “maybe”. While I’m dissecting optimism and pessimism, I offer one last tidbit courtesy of Sonja Lyubomirsky. In her book, The How of Happiness, she adds one other dimension to the mix: internal vs. external. Do you blame yourself or external circumstances? Let’s look at two examples:
You lost a race. Your response:
A. I’m a loser
B. It wasn’t my day
In the first example, it is permanent, pervasive and internal. The second statement is temporary, transient and external.
Are you a true optimist? Take the challenge: go to www.authentichappiness.com

A final thought about your words, care of that prolific writer, Anonymous:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor
Aspiring Optimist

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If you had to choose to between being right or being happy, which would you choose?
For some people, being right is extremely important but is it more important than being happy? Sometimes happy people are accused of not living in the “real world”, that they wear “rose colored glasses” or of being a Pollyanna.
There is actually some validity to this accusation. In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman writes of an experiment in which participants were asked to turn on a light. Sometimes the light went on and sometimes it did not. Those who scored higher on the optimist scale predicted that the light would turn on more than the realist and they were wrong more often because of their optimistic leanings. So the optimist has more hope than the realist. But would you rather be right or be happy? Thankfully the question is not that cut and dried. It’s not all-or-nothing, black-or-white. Yes, the realists were more accurate but not by a landslide. So, would you rather be right and be less happy or be more hopeful and be more happy?
There are a many more implications to this question than first meet the eye. Studies have proven that optimists are happier, have a better quality of life and enjoy better health.
Viktor Frankl was a psychologist before being thrown into the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. In the middle of the most horrific of studies in human behavior, Frankl calculated that when prisoners lost hope, they were dead within two weeks. Was there reason to give up hope? Plenty. Statistically, the chance of getting out of there alive were extremely poor. But the optimist lived longer purely because of his more optimistic point of view.
So, now you get to decide: where on the continuum of hope would you like to live? If you are a realist, you would be willing to let go of your death grip on reality in favor for a little more happiness, opting to be an optimistic realist. Or go even a little further into optimistic territory adopting the title of a realistic optimist. My hope is that you will join us among the ranks of optimists. Wherever you find yourself on the continuum, I hope you are doing so as a conscious choice. Choice is a drum we beat a lot in Happiness 101. One choice you could make would be to pick up Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness. One of her twelve Happiness Habit strategies is Cultivating Optimism. Another choice you could make is to join us in Happiness 101. It is a FREE class about Happiness I teach every Monday at 7pm. Click here to check out the upcoming class schedule or call 877-476-6338 for recorded information.
~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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No news is good newsThe 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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