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This page is about how self-compassion and mindfulness and skills such as forgiveness, kindness and compassion can help us with depression and anxiety.
Therapy is about helping people to be happy
I have spent the last 18 years helping clients in my therapy practice to with a variety of different issues. Regardless of what they show up at my door talking about, they all want the same thing: happiness.
In my quest to learn all the research, tricks, strategies, and methods to help my clients, I stumbled upon the realization that happiness is all anyone wants. I'm no different from my clients, I want to be happy too! I honestly never thought of things so simply.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” Aristotle
Aristotle agrees with me! It doesn't matter who you are. The purpose of life is to be happy.
When I realized this, I thought about my education, my need to diagnoses my clients perfectly, define their problem concisely, create treatment plans, and then create goals that I would measure to see if I had helped my client the way I should. I worked so hard to be a good therapist, to understand the research, to apply the theories and to keep up to date on everything I needed to know that was happening in my field. Somehow all the things I thought would make me an excellent therapist and make my clients happy, just weren't enough. What I really needed to learn more about was simply how to be happy.
Below are some basic rules about happiness. Hopefully you will chose to explore more in the pages linked below.
False beliefs and assumptions about who you are or who you should be often lead to unhappiness. These beliefs are learned from society and your parents.
“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.”
Anthony de Mello
Perhaps you believe you should always put others needs first, or that you always must say yes, or you should be skinny, or a perfect provider or a perfect housewife. This is an example of how false beliefs and assumptions can lead to unhappiness. Learn more about that in the pages linked below.
False beliefs about what brings happiness can lead to unhappiness.
Stephen Covey often explains the quest for happiness in this way. If you are given a street map of a city where you are trying to find your way to a certain point, it should help you get to your destination. Suppose however, that you are given the wrong map? That will help you make a bigger mess of it than if you didn't have one at all. How can you learn how to be happy if you have the wrong map?
All the happiness research tells us that many of us do have the wrong map. So many of those things we think we need to do, and to feel, and to have, to be happy are wrong. Oh no!
We have to be able to observe and change our course when we are unhappy not keep doing more of the same
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
We keep doing the same thing , though, like a hamster on the wheel. We don't question the error of our habitual ways, or our map. We stubbornly hang on to that map and blame ourselves when we can't get to our destination.
Why are we so unhappy?
Why cant we learn how to be happy?
We don't even consider the map could be wrong! Often, it is. In fact, sometimes it's a map to unhappiness.
Know yourself and your values. Live your life with intention, consistently with those values, everyday. Get the Map right.
You have to put up with some discomfort to lead a happy and fulfilled life. Avoidance and pleasure seeking wont cut it.
Another mistake we make is seeking immediate gratification, avoiding all discomfort and pain, and forgetting that just because something feels good doesn't mean its good or right, and just because something feels bad doesn't mean its bad or wrong. You can learn to recognize these patterns and help yourself to make better choices.
Cultivate Gratitude and present orientated focus
Happiness is here, right now. If you think its somewhere else and chase after it, paradoxically you give it away. Gratitude and presence bring happiness.
Often my clients are working frantically to get something they think will make them happy. The right job, house, husband, or child. In the moment they are sacrificing joy to get what they think will make them happy. Guess what? It rarely does. Unless we are talking about food on the table, a home to live in , or just enough money to get you what you really need, all those things you think will get you happiness won't. It hasn't worked before has it?
Being unable to be grateful and content with what we have and thinking that the grass needs to be greener is a huge source of unhappiness. The research bears this out.
On this website I will share all that I have learned, and all that I continue to learn about happiness from the research, from my clients and from my own life experiences.
If you are like most of us, each day it is a struggle to be happy. You can learn how to be happier, change the map you have and set a different course for yourself if you are willing to make changes.
How do we define happiness
Art: Happy by Roarysea at deviantart