Today I want to focus on happiness. Why? I am glad you asked. Most clients, when they come to counselling, they have as a goal to feel better. When asked, they respond “I want to be happy”. Although the therapist in me cringes when I hear that, because happiness can be so many things and is so different for everybody, I do understand people’s strive to happiness. Who wouldn’t want to be happy?
Posts tagged ‘Seligman’
On the danger that I am stepping on dangerous ground here, I am giving some pointers to the difficult area of parenting. Not that I am an expert in that field. Not at all! However, I know that many people worry about their parenting style. They are concerned whether they do it right by their children and end up with lots of self-blame for not getting it right. I’ve been reading the book ‘Authentic Happiness’ (by M. Seligman, 2002, Free Press). And it has a section on how to build positive emotions in children!
“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:
How can we link understanding how happiness is reflected in a person’s well being to the well being of society? Positive Psychology suggests that happy people have a great influence on society. Through their interest in and support of others, they make up a large number of volunteers, they are more likely to have a pro-peace attitude, and are overall more co-operative.
It has been common since the 60s 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 commonly accepted wisdom and experiences people had for a very, very long time. These beliefs are now challenged by discoveries made 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, they suggest that a more effective approach would be to ALSO focus on people's strength and virtues.