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 frank@saltlakementalhealth.com

IPPA Friday

 

IPPA Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for all your help!

 

Frank Clayton, the Happy Therapist

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Article published in KSL by Frank Clayton, LPC

SANPETE COUNTY — As families gathered in the auditorium of North Sanpete High School in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, they began to discuss the recent rash of suicides in Sanpete County in December of 2011. The small gathering of people were able to recall six suicides in just the last three weeks. The consensus was swift and unanimous: “It has to stop.”

In record time, the small band of citizens planned a candlelight vigil to raise awareness of the growing problem in Sanpete County. Sisters volunteered to organize the vigil, a brother created a Facebook page, a therapist started a grief group and an army of one delivered flyers from one end of the county to the other. The press was contacted.

The mission: Break the silence. The message: Talk about suicide. Ask the question, “Are you suicidal?” Get help.

Utah needs a lot of it. Recently, the Center for Disease Control revealed that Utah ranks No. 1 in terms of the number of residents contemplating suicide. The Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program reported that Utah has the eighth highest rate of suicidefor adults in the nation, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for Utahns ages 15- 19.Therural areas have a significantly higher suicide rates: namely Sevier, Piute, Wayne, Tooele, Carbon, Emery, Weber and Morgan Counties as well as the Glendale, Ben Lomond and Tricounty areas.

The numbers are staggering, but the grief etched into the faces of those people at North Sanpete High School was overwhelming.

Two weeks later, I stood before the Main Library in Mt. Pleasant, adding my candle to the light of nearly 100 residents of Sanpete County. As with all tragedies, they want to know why — why are their loved ones dying? It’s a fair question with an unfair answer: We do not know.

What we do know is that suicide is preventable.

We know what to watch fordepression, drug or alcohol use, moodiness, irritability, giving away prized possessions, anger, isolation, recklessness and language indicating hopelessness, feeling trapped, and considering suicide as an option. We know that a person who takes their life has usually had a crisis within two weeks and is likely struggling with one or more problems with things like physical health, employment, finances, with the law or at school. We also know that there is often easy access to firearms and pills.

We know that help is a phone call away: 1-800- SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and the Trevor Project hotline for LGBTQ teens at 866-488- 7386.

We also know that when one person takes their life, it can lead others to follow suit. A young woman at the candlelight vigil shared that she attempted suicide two weeks after her cousin died by suicide. She said, “I thought if he could do it, so could I.”

As counselor Monte Hauck said, “People simply don’t know how to handle things, so they try to take care of a problem the only way they could.”

It is true. When one is thinking of taking their own life, they might see it as the only option — the only way to make the pain stop. This is a result of what positive psychologists call a downward spiral. The further down the hole one goes, the fewer options they perceive — even though, objectively, there are many, many, many alternatives to suicide.

Science has revealed a shockingly simple antidote to the downward spiral: counting your blessings. When one is in the clutches of the downward spiral, pessimism is rampant. By identifying a few positives, one can start to realize that life is not so bad and there is hope. The journey of the upward spiral begins.

Research has proven the pull of an upward spiral to be just as powerful as a downward spiral. Using the “three good things” intervention, the father of positive psychology Martin Seligman helped 94 percent of his depressed participants rise from the level of severely depressed to either moderately or mildly depressed in only 15 days. Considering that this was the only intervention used in the study and that it takes only a few minutes a day, the results are nothing short of miraculous.

This exercise is a staple of Happiness 101, a class using methods proven by empirical research to restore hope, lift depression and offer alternatives to suicide. The free class —which is now awebinar, also offered free of charge to help reduce suicide in Utah — uses simple yet scientifically-proven methods and techniques to help those in the grips of depression see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. For instance, when one makes a pessimistic statement, using the technique of disputation quickly and easily loosens the grip of pessimism. If one thinks, “I’m doomed,” and that thought goes unchecked, then one will have the emotional experience of hopelessness. However, if one simply asks oneself, “Is that really true?” the dark clouds of pessimism are easily broken, allowing hope to shine through.

There is hope. Suicide is preventable. If you are thinking of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE.

To view the article complete with related stories and comments, go to KSL.

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Report from IPPA Conference, Day 3

Wow! What an absolutely amazing day! In case you’re just “tuning in”, today is day 3 of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association.
Here are the highlights:

  • Barbara Fredrickson (author of my #2 pick on Happiness, Positivity) talked about Love
  • Meeting Todd Kashdan and (what may be his last) talk at IPPA
  • Possible collaboration with positive psychologist and local, Lynn Johnson
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with a Positive Spin
  • Positive Computing
  • Meeting Jane McGonigal and using her on-line game to enhance Happiness 101
  • How much you think you can do something effects whether (and how hard) you try *
  • The use of strengths in therapy – the intermediate lesson *
  • Gala and the National Constitution Center *

* I will report on these tomorrow.

It was much cooler today. A blessing for my walk to my third download of information in the realm of positive psychology, a.k.a. Happiness! As I walked through City Hall in (literally) the heart of Philadelphia, I hummed a little tune. I was distracted by the richness and variety of the people as I walked. Per haps distracted enough by the suits, the homeless, the street venders, the skaters and the provocative dress, the song’s lyrics did not bubble to the surface until in the shadow of the Downtown Marriott. I murmured, “All you need is love. Bump-ba bump-ba bump. All you need is love. Bump-ba bump-ba bump. All you need is love, love – love is all you need.” As I realized I was humming a Beatles standard, I also realized that the topic of Barbara Fredrickson’s talk was “Love: A new lens on the science of thriving” Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 3

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Frank arrives at IPPA

 

It is very late (1:30am here in Philadelphia) so today’s report will probably be fairly short, but I have SO many exciting things to share with you!  Today was the first day of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association.  I was SO excited as I entered the downtown Marriott for the first time.  I saw a sign directing me up…. up…. (and away!)  Once in the right place, registration was a snap.  I was handed my IPPA bag and envelope (I felt like Charlie from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
One great surprise is that tomorrow (Sunday, July 24th) the IPPA is holding Special Interest Groups (SIGs) during the lunch hour.  There were several to choose from but I must say that I was happily shocked to see that Barbara Fredrickson will be hosting one of these SIGs.  She is the author of Positivity, which is my second highest recommended book (next to Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, The How of Happiness).  She will be talking on Monday and will be closing out the conference with Richard Davidson on Tuesday, but to get Barbara in small venue is quite a treat! Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 1
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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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snobLast night I was scouring the internet to find good websites to set up as links on my website (www.saltlakementalhealth.com). I was VERY picky! Maybe even TOO picky. But there is SO much information out there about Happiness that is not based on empirical evidence or scientific study. Much of it is happy people who believe that because they are happy that they know the secrets to happiness and so they launched a website and wrote a book and they urge us to do what they did to find true happiness. There are also some sites focusing on happiness, but it seems that there chief goal is to get you to buy their product. Now, don’t get me wrong. I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to go out and spread happiness. I was just very choosey about the links I put on my site. My hope is to give you nothing but the best that you may not only live happier but do it by using what really works. Here are my picks:
Authentic Happiness is an amazing site – chock full of goodies including self-assessments by Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology.
Get Happy.net was put together by Michael Fordyce one of the first to start the formal study of happiness.
Happier – An extremely good site with lots of resources
Happy News – A steady stream of good news. How refreshing.
The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin gives her first hand account of her year long journey on the path of happiness
The How of Happiness – Instead of picking the actual site (www.thehowofhappiness.com), I chose Sonja Lyubomirsky’s faculty site because not only does it give you a link to more about the book (which is my #1 pick) but this site offers links to papers, talks and a peek into the cutting edge of happiness research.

So, have I become a Happiness Snob? Perhaps. But I would rather be too picky than give you anything but the best.
Frank Clayton, LPC

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The How of Happiness

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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What IS love exactly? How does it work? Are there reasons we love whom we love? Or is our love “unconditional”. If your love is unconditional, what exactly does that mean? Does it mean you will tolerate any behavior? Obviously much has been written on the subject of love. The founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, purports in his book Authentic Happiness that we love others for a particular combination of strengths that we hold dear. For instance, if we value honesty and our friend or partner exhibits honest behavior, then more tumblers in the key of love fall into place. Seligman lists 24 strengths that play a part in our feelings of friendship and love. You can test go onto Seligman’s site, www.authentichappiness.com and measure your strengths. Invite your significant other to take it too. It’s a great way to get to know each other better.

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Happy guyOne of Martin Seligman’s chief criticisms of the psychological community is that it focuses on the negative and what is WRONG. As the founder of positive psychology he encourages us to accentuate our strengths and virtues. So, in my own little way, I propose that we create a new diagnosis, one that focuses on the positive. The Diagnositic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV) is considered to be THE bible of psychology with approximately 950 pages offering the specific criteria for various DISorders. On page 356 you will find the criteria for a Major Depressive Episode. But no where will you find a diagnosis about Happiness, for it is not a DISorder. So, I have taken the criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder and turned it into the criteria for Major Happiness Order (an “order” must be the opposite of a “disorder”, right)? Here, then, is the criteria for MHO:
A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present the same 2 week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) happy mood or (2) interest or pleasure.
Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition or mood-congruent appreciation for reality.
(1) happy mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated either subjective report (e.g., feels happy or fulfilled) or observation made by others (e.g. appears smiling).
(2) markedly increased interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated either subjective account or observation made by others).
(3) stable weight with a healthy appetite.
(4) sleeps well nearly every day.
(5) psychomotor stability nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of stability).
(6) adequate energy nearly every day.
(7) feelings of worthiness or adequate self-esteem (which is based in reality) nearly every day.
(8) increased ability to think or concentrate, or decisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
(9) recurrent thoughts of life (or the joy of living), recurrent life-affirming thoughts with a specific plan for committing to life and the pursuit of happiness.
B. The symptoms do not meet criteria for a Joyful Episode
C. The symptoms cause clinically significant enjoyment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of substance (such as drug use or medication) or general medical condition.
E. The symptoms are not better accounted for by Betrothment, i.e. after marriage to a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked improved functioning, preoccupation with blessings and worthiness, life affirmations, a clear, reality-based view of life and normal psychomotor functioning.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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less than two minutes a day to be happier!

less than two minutes a day to be happier!

The founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, took a group of severely depressed people. He asked them to do one activity per day that took them less than two minutes per day. In 15 days 94% of participants improved to moderately or even mildly depressed. What a great success! What was the activity? To write down three positive things per day. Click here to see Dr. Seligman speak about it himself! It did not need to be something the person did – some sort of success. It could be anything positive. In the Happiness 101 class it has been wonderful to hear the success stories. Many “students” have found that they start noticing the positives all around them – not just when they sit down to write their list, but throughout the day. Give it a try. Share YOUR list with us here.

Here’s mine for this week:
Utah – it has been a wonderful place to live
The hair on my right arm (keeps me warm in the winter months)
Walnuts (rich in happiness inducing Omega 3s)
The soldiers who guard my freedom daily
My friend B.S. (no, really! That’s his initials, I swear)
The biological mechanism that allows me to understand what it is I am seeing
My cat’s voice (he greets me home every day)
The little plastic frog my mom gave me
Whoopi cushions (they have given us many laughs and released happy chemicals)
The Hollywood walk of fame
Sea shells (they can help you hear and smell the beach even when you’re in Utah)
The gift of loneliness (it is to being social as hunger is to food)
The letter P (how could we tell _eo_le we are ha_ _y?)
Ancient Rome (how might civilization today look different had it never been?)
Mark Twain (love his dry wit)
Pluto (thankful it’s doing the job of the coldest planet so Earth doesn’t have to do it)
Phlebotomists (you’ll thank them one day)
Sonja Lyubomirsky (author of The How of Happiness)
Martin Seligman
The song “Shout” (makes me at LEASE wiggle my toes (if not outright dance) every time)

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