Next FREE class to begins Saturday April 26th, 2014

Happiness 101 works! – and we have the numbers to prove it!

Using scientifically validated instruments, students of Happiness 101 show a decrease in depression and increases in their happiness, optimism, belief that they can make a positive impact in their own life and self-esteem. The evidence is so compelling we are working toward getting published in the Journal of Positive Psychology!

Here are some testimonials from a recent class:

“Happiness 101 helped me cross the bridge between understanding that attitude change is possible to experience attitude change.”

“I feel much happier now that I have taken this course.”

“[The] Self-Esteem [portion of the class] was a HUGE eye opener for me and one of those moments in life where it is a light bulb moment.”

“I have looked myself in the mirror and found so many things that I have loved about myself that I didn’t know existed.”

“I appreciated discovering more of my negative thinking errors and taking more responsibility for them.”

“I have learned that I have always had happiness inside of me and I always knew what made me happy.”

“It was humorous, enlightening, challenging, and affirming.”

“REALLY appreciated learning about self-esteem!”

“I usually don’t do well with change but the knowledge. I have now gets me excited to move forward with a clear mind and I am ready to see what the future has in store for me.”

“Since starting this class I’ve learned so much about myself and how I can become happier.”

“I have really enjoyed this class. I have seen a change in me.”

The next Happiness 101 class will be held on Saturdays April 26th to June 14th from noon to 2pm. Click here to find out more about Happiness 101.

Frank Clayton, The Happy Therapist
Clinical Mental Health Counselor

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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 frank@saltlakementalhealth.com

IPPA Friday

 

IPPA Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for all your help!

 

Frank Clayton, the Happy Therapist

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It is easy to feel powerless against the recession. Headlines are rife with doom, and we have control of almost none of it: unemployment, the housing market and the national debt. In this constant stream of negativity, it is easy to focus on what we do not have control of and forget about what we do have control over.

How can one person feel worried sick while the next person is not? Why is one person depressed about the layoff while the next person is actually happy about it? The answer lies not in the circumstances but how we handle it.

I, myself, have been laid off during this recession, and I have struggled with depression and pessimism for most of my life (see “My Story: From Suicidal to The Happy Therapist“). Therefore I can deeply empathize with clients and students who tell me their story, which is usually peppered with words like “stuck,” “trapped” and “can’t.”

It is important to acknowledge sadness, hopelessness and worry. These feelings are not merely uncomfortable emotions — they are guideposts to feeling better; a divining rod to their belief system. In the very first class of Happiness 101, I tell students not to slap a plastic smiley face over their pain but to feel it and learn from it.

Positive psychology teaches that each emotion is feedback to us about our underlying belief system. It is here that we find choice and empowerment. For instance, if a man feels shame because he was swept away by the latest wave of layoffs, he might have an underlying belief like “If I am not providing for my family, I am a failure.” You will notice this belief statement leaves little room for extenuating circumstances — for instance high unemployment rates.

We do not have control over the world or national economy, but we do have control over our own belief system. In this example if the man replaced his belief with “As long as I am doing my best, I am okay,” instead of feeling shame, he might not only feel hope but possibly pride because his focus is on his efforts and not the outcome.

Whether suffering job loss, death of a loved one or a personal failure, we can always choose how we weather the storm. In his famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

James Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sail.” You might imagine that one person who believes he is helpless against the storm of the recession would have a very different feeling than the person who believes, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” (“Invictus,” William Ernest Henley)

After people have told their story and properly honored their feelings, they might be open to discussion about what they do have control over, rather than lamenting about what they do not. In the above example, this hard-working American had no control over being laid off. He can continue to apply for jobs but have no control over call-backs. He can do well in the interview but still not get the job.

Research has proven (Dan Gilbert, “Stumbling on Happiness”) that when people feel that they have no control, depression often follows. This is why it is important (at the appropriate time) to turn discussion toward what one does have control over.

In session, I challenge phrases like “I’m in a rock and a hard place,” “there’s nothing I can do” and “I am trapped.” Invariably I find that there are many choices — all at varying degrees of attractiveness.

For instance, the unemployed man might believe that his only option is to just keep applying for (local) jobs and pray that something comes through. When brainstorming, he might find several other options including: filing for bankruptcy, taking a job out of state, renting out the basement, filing for unemployment, asking for loans from friends, moving in with mom and dad and/or starting his own business. This man might find all of these options to be unsavory, but I have found that depression immediately begins to loosen its grip when we explore what is possible rather than lament over the lie that “there is no hope.”

We may not have control over the economy, but we do have control over our pessimism. If you believe that you are born pessimistic, I would like to point out that this too is a belief. Ironically if you believe yourself to be a born pessimist, you will behave accordingly, making no effort to change. Pessimism can not only poison one’s attitude toward braving the economic storm but it can adversely affect decisions that might have helped to pull you out of it.

For instance, if one says, “What’s the point in applying for the job? I’m not going to get it anyway” and he does not apply for the job, then his prediction comes true. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.” Hope is always a choice.

I have documented the progress of dozens of students and found that those who make the greatest progress are those who turn from hopeless to hopeful during the eight-week course. You can test your own level of optimism at www.authentichappiness.com and start improving your outlook by taking your cues from the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, in his book, “Learned Optimism.”

Cultivating optimism is just one of 12 scientifically proven happiness activites suggested by Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, “The How of Happiness.” Others include:

  • Expressing gratitude
  • Practicing acts of kindness
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Savoring life’s joys
  • Practicing religion or spirituality

Focusing on these activities (which you do have control over) will help you to feel empowered. Focusing on what you do not have control over will likely lead you to feel helpless and disempowered. There is much in this world over which we have no control — including the recession — but we always have control over our own positive attitude. The Nazis could not take it from Viktor Frankl. The recession can not take it from you. You always have a choice.

Frank Clayton, LPC

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I bought a new guitar book today from B&N. It’s got some good stuff in it – Hit from yesterday and today (that sounds like a radio station tag line, doesn’t it? But it’s true). I had so much fun trying out different songs that two hours went by without me even noticing. I never thought that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would find it’s way into a positive but it did. I laid the rhythm down with the looper then picked out the lead and played over the top of it. I would also include the fact that I appreciate living in a house (vs. an apartment or condo) so I can play it LOUD! That part is big enough to deserve it’s own positive though. “Flow”, by the way, is a term in Positive Psychology referring to enjoying something so much that you lose all track of time. What’s YOUR flow activity?

Frank Clayton LPC

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I did Kung Fu for 7 years. This was here in Salt Lake but before I became the Happy Therapist. Today I went back at the age of 47. I noticed a LOT of changes in my attitude. I used to run myself down for not doing things perfectly or for not doing as well as others. Today I was genuinely proud that I showed up and stuck with it. I remember I used to beat myself mercilessly in my head just when I needed to encourage myself. Today I found that I not only had optimism during the hardest moments but actually a sense of humor! Today I am eternally grateful to Positive Psychology and how it has truly changed my life.

Frank Clayton LPC

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As I have mentioned before, I really like a game called Dominion. the more I play it, the more I discover that there are many different styles and strategies. I try this way and that way. I don’t give up easily on one strategy, I try and try to really give it a fair chance to see if it will pan out. Hey! I just realized that I am using the eight steps of Happiness to do this! I guess this positive psychology stuff is coming so naturally that I don’t even think about it any more. and HEY! That’s a sign that it’s become a habit! Wow! (I honestly didn’t intend for this to be a progress report when I started writing this short paragraph 🙂 )

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1010&sid=16189186

Frank Clayton LPC

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I really enjoyed the anticipation of seeing the movie. I told my wife I couldn’t remember the last time I was that excited about a movie. The movie’s content also sparked some great conversation between she and I. She pointed out that Batman’s true power is not in his money, his gadgets, his brains nor his brawn. His true strength his resiliency of spirit. I am also grateful that I chose to watch it at the midnight showing on opening day before……. ’nuff said. Oh! ‘Said conversation also lead to some realizations as to how positive psychology has effected my way of thinking. How cool is that?

Frank Clayton LPC

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Today I had fun creating a profile on ted.com and commenting on some of the conversations. I even got a thumbs up for my comment about adult play grounds. It is so wonderful to be in a position to correspond with people from all over the world about favorite subjects – such as Happiness/Positive Psychology 🙂

Frank Clayton LPC

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Student of positive psychology and innovative gamer, Jane McGonigal used her creativity and skills as a gamer to overcome a very challenging situation. She shares her gift with us in the game SuperBetter. I got special permission to use Superbetter for students of Happiness 101 before it was officially released. Now not only is Superbetter available in the website version but is now as close as your phone. She teaches the principles of Positive Psychology in a fun way! Your strengths are your super powers and the villains are your problems or symptoms. You can even get real friends to help you by making them allies. I am really grateful to Jane for giving her gift free if charge but even more so for making it so easily available as an app on my phone. Whoo hoo!

Frank Clayton LPC

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I am thoroughly enjoying teaching this semester of Happiness 101. This particular class has demonstrated an especially high degree of motivation. Many of the students reported going WAY above and beyond even though the class challenges students a lot of home opportunities (work). Most of the students are reporting (in one way or another) that they are seeing a great difference and we’re only two classes into an eight week course. I feel truly blessed to be able to pass along the amazing findings of positive psychology – especially when the students are so eager to learn. I feel fortunate to be part of it.

Frank Clayton LPC

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