The Happiness Quotient

by Kristen McClure

In the news this week is an article about, Dr. Tom Stevens , who created a formula he calls our Happiness Quotient (HQ). This formula has been shows to predict peoples happiness within 75 percent accuracy.

More info on HQ


Dr Stevens found that traditional values, such as the belief in love being unconditional, that you should contribute and be connected to the world, that you should behave with integrity, were correlated with happiness. Interestingly enough I have found that most clients have these values in common. The trick is getting clients to identify their values and then encouraging them to live consistently with their values.

Also correlated with happiness are our core beliefs. Found to be associated with happiness are optimism, a belief that you are valuable, a belief that you control and are responsible for your circumstance, and a low sense of anxiety or fear.

Having good life skills such as being able to plan ahead manage your time, cope with your emotions, and motivate yourself were also all positively correlated with happiness.
His research is important because all of these skills can be learned if they are not already present.

In fact in my work with clients I will often focus on using strategies to help clarify and develop values beliefs and skills so clients can live more consistently with them. I use Acceptance and Commitment Based Therapy ( ACT). Acceptance frees us from focusing on the past and enables us to meet our present challenges with a clearer head. Commitment is a focus on living your life in a way that brings you happiness by consistently making choices based on your positive values and core beliefs.

ACT teaches you to make choices not based on how you feel, but in spite of how you feel, if it is consistent with your values.

ACT is an evidence based cognitive behavioral therapy summed up below:
As a simple way to summarize the model, ACT views the core of many problems to be due to the acronym, FEAR:
• Fusion with your thoughts ( What you think is not real or true, necessarily)
• Evaluation of experience ( Judging as good and bad)
• Avoidance of your experience ( Judging causes you to avoid)
• Reason giving for your behavior (Excuses and a continuation of the cycle)
And the healthy alternative is to ACT:
• Accept your reactions and be present ( mindfulness, no focus or sticking in the past)
• Choose a valued direction ( based on your own beliefs that you personally hold, and nothing else)
• Take action ( wisely)

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