Do You Choose Happiness?

    One time, I was having an argument with the speaker standing in front of a crowded assembly. The argument was taking place in my head rather than out loud as I didn’t quite have the energy to actually engage in a discussion right then. I thought that perhaps it would be an even better idea to present it to you to see what your thoughts would be. The speaker was making a case for happiness and I certainly can’t argue with that. He reminded us that wisdom requires that we be happy. He shared research that happy people get the job done better than unhappy ones and noted that the last decade and a half of research in “positive psychology” has led to many fascinating outcomes supporting this. He argued that people try too hard to get to the next goal and then the next, thinking mistakenly that when they only reach their goal they will be happy. This is not true, he admonished: Happiness comes from the process of living your life, not from getting to a goal. I couldn’t argue with any of that. Then he said that happiness is a choice. Some people choose to be unhappy. And that is where I part company. I could immediately think of two classes of people who are unhappy but not by choice: People who have serious troubles in their lives and people who are stuck in a cage of unhappiness that they don’t know how to get out of. In fact, I completely believe that these two categories cover every single person who is unhappy and that there...

Book Review: You Can Feel Good Again (For Depression)

A fellow therapist recommended Richard Carlson’s book, You Can Feel Good Again: Commonsense Strategies For Releasing Unhappiness and Changing Your Life. I had asked her because she is a sex therapist and a couple I was seeing had a particular sexual issue. They did not want to change therapists, so I searched out the best possible advice that I was aware of. Instead of some complicated, family-of-origin work, which is what I expected, she recommended a book which falls into the Cognitive Behavioral approach. Now, here is the interesting part, before I get into the details of this book. The book is really targeted at combating depression and I told a client to read it whose depression didn’t seem to want to leave her. She read it and perkily texted me that she was doing fine and happy. So, whatever negatives I will say about this book — and there was really only one — I recommend it. I recommend it for –obsessive thoughts –depression –self-punishing thoughts –low self-esteem Highlights The author’s premise is that we control our thoughts. Thus, any negative thoughts we have are of our own invention and ought to have zero power over us. That makes complete sense to me and is in line with my work (which says that feelings are within our control because they begin with thoughts. On the other hand one of his points is that if you happen to be depressed, don’t think because that will make things worse. A wonderful point is that we are all capable of healthy thinking. In fact, before being messed up by adults, children...
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