“Depression really spirals downward because a depressed mood makes negative memories come to mind more easily. These negative thoughts in turn set off a more depressed mood, which in turn makes even more negative thoughts accessible, and so on. Breaking the downward spiral is a critical skill for the depressed patient to learn.” (Authentic Happiness, M. Seligman, 2002, Free Press, page 210).
Building happiness is, however, not just important for depressed people, research is conclusive that everyone can improve on their level of happiness by checking whether you have ‘all the ingredients for a happy life’ in your tool box. Here are some ideas:
Since the 1960s it has become increasingly common that people visit a counsellor or therapist to talk about the problems and difficulties that trouble their lives. Beliefs like "…It has to get harder before it gets better” reflect widely accepted wisdom and experiences people had for a very, very long time. These beliefs are now challenged by recent discoveries by researchers that focus on what is known as 'positive psychology'. Without discounting the usefulness of traditional therapy that explores the problems people have and assists in finding new understandings or new behaviours, positive psychology suggests that focusing on people’s strengths and virtues is a more effective approach to combat depression and unhappiness.