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Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career





CBT

Jealousy

Depression

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Happiness

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POPULAR ARTICLES

Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

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Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

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Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

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Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

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Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank





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Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

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The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)--page 5

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Tap to Listen to Article
"...happiness doesn't come with fireworks and a parade. Instead, it sneaks in quietly as the night so that you don't realize it has been there for awhile."

How To Choose Which Intentional Behaviors to Pursue?

After reading about the intentional behaviors that contribute to happiness you may be feeling a little overwhelmed about what it takes to find happiness. However, keep in mind that you do not need to engage in all the above behaviors for happiness to find you. It is not even clear which are most important as some people find happiness in their sense of purpose in life whereas others might find happiness in their affiliation with others. However, as I said earlier there is overlap among the categories so that people who are highly focused in one area probably have strong influences in other areas as well.

VERY IMPORTANT: Do not try to change everything at once! If you try to do that, it indicates that you don't understand the first concept of not overvaluing happiness: To find happiness you must not seek it! Try to make just small changes in your life at a time.

To pursue intentional behaviors to increase happiness there are several important issues to consider: person-activity fit, initiating and maintaining effort, and the development of happy habits (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005).

1) Person-Activity Fit
The behaviors that influence happiness may vary from person to person. For instance, an extravert may find affiliation and group relationships as an appealing pursuit whereas an introvert might find a sense of purpose in quieter, more independent activities. What is important is to recognize your strengths and what provides you with a sense of satisfaction rather than trying to fit a mold created by others.

For example, I once had a client who had a passion for art but was pushed into the family business and spent her life doing office work. When I asked her why she didn't pursue art, she said her family had convinced her that she could never make a living in that area. However, she always felt that something was missing from her life. Doing something just because you are told you “should” is not likely to lead to happiness.

2) Initiating and Maintaining Effort
As I stated previously, happiness is simple but it is not easy. To create the conditions for happiness, effort is required. This can be an obstacle for many people especially because they may not receive immediate reward for their efforts. As I see it, the need for immediate gratification is a major problem in our society because it tempts people to focus on short-term rewards rather than long-term gains which are often directly opposed to one another.

For example, it may be immediately rewarding to have a piece of chocolate cake, but the weight gain caused by focusing on the short-term reward prevents the long-term reward of being healthier. Or, it may be immediately rewarding to avoid the discomfort of facing a fear but by avoiding the discomfort in the short-term, more pain may be experienced in the long-term. For example, a person who is afraid of failure may avoid developing goals where failure could occur, but in the long-term that person may also prevent success and end up leading a less fulfilling life.

Therefore, once you have identified intentional behaviors that are a fit for you, it may be necessary to identify how to incorporate these behaviors into your lifestyle. If you identify any obstacles to doing so, you need to develop a plan to overcome the obstacles so that you can engage routinely in the behaviors that will influence your overall happiness.

3) Development of Habit

Unfortunately it is human nature to adapt or become accustomed to the impact of certain behaviors so that if something feels good the first time, it may not have the same intensity of feeling the second, or especially the hundredth, time. Therefore, it is important to vary how the intentional behaviors are implemented so as not to habituate to the experience (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005). In other words, you want to develop habits that are not so routine that they lose their beneficial impact.

How can this be done? I think there are probably many ways but one that I find particularly suitable for this is the development of a mindful attitude. Mindfulness allows us to approach the same circumstances with the perspective of a fresh experience. For instance, you might see a certain tree every day on your morning walk. Without mindfulness you tend to become less and less aware of that tree. However, a mindful approach allows you to become more intimately aware of that tree in all its variations. Not only would you notice the impact of different seasons on the tree, but you might notice how different weather conditions affect the tree such as a dry day or a humid day, or you might notice the micro-environment of the tree such as the insects and birds that live there. A mindful approach provides you with a new experience every day that you engage in the habit of your daily walk. READ MORE: page 6

Intro to Secret of Happiness--page 1

What Is Happiness?--page 2

Is Happiness Possible for Everyone?--page 3

What Intentional Behaviors Can Influence Happiness?--page 4

How Do You Choose Which Intentional Behaviors to Pursue?--page 5

A Final Word About How to Know Happiness When it Finds You--page 6

"One of the most salient aspects I've noticed about unhappy people is that they are desperately trying to avoid negative emotions and in the process they feel miserable."

HAPPINESS IS AN ATTITUDE

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

HOW CAN WE BE HAPPY WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN?

For many years when my husband and I were first together I would ask him "When are things going to get better?" We were dealing with the usual stressors that couples face: not enough time, not enough money, and the inevitable random events such as family conflict, deaths of loved ones, illnesses and injuries. In addition, for most of our early years together I was in school and struggling with the balancing of demands of advanced education, part-time work, and a family. But I had the belief that we were working towards this perfect life that one day would emerge shining a rainbow of happiness forever over us. My husband, inclined more toward the practical, just answered my question of "When are things going to get better?," with "Another six months." That answer typically pacified me for awhile because I thought I could handle any amount of stress for six months. However, a point would occur when I once again I asked my husband "When are things going to get better?" Once again, he would answer "Another six months." This scenario occurred fairly routinely for many years.

However, fortunately during this time I had experiences that began to teach me about my expectations of life. In particular, when I was completing my internship at the Veterans Administration Medical Center I had the opportunity to work on the spinal cord injury unit. That experience forever changed my thinking. In particular, I was struck by the differences in attitude among the patients. My job was to psychologically evaluate each patient. Some of those I evaluated had a recent spinal cord injury and some were returning for follow-up visits. Every patient on that unit, however, had a life-changing injury. Never would they walk again and some couldn't use their hands or even needed assistance with breathing. Every one of them had sustained major changes and losses in their life. Some of them not only lost the physical use of their body, but they lost a girlfriend or wife who couldn't handle the situation, or a job that was part of their self-identity. Yet, what I noticed was that no matter what the losses were or the length of time since the injury, the patients could be divided into two categories: happy or miserable.

Those who were happy reported thinking such as "Yeah, this sucks, but I still have dreams. There are still things I can do. And I'm going to focus on those things." Those who were miserable made statements such as "This is so unfair. My whole life is ruined. I will never be happy." In obtaining the life histories of the patients, I saw that those who were happy had full and active lives, they had friends and jobs and were involved in activities. Whereas those who were miserable, often did nothing but stay in bed with little social contact and had more problems with bed sores and other ailments due to the inactivity. I was informed that even though spinal cord injury in itself does not reduce life expectancy, those who gave up tended to die at earlier ages from complications. READ MORE: page 2

How can we be happy when bad things happen?--page 1

How is the attitude of happiness a choice?--page 2

How is the attitude of happiness different from positive thinking?--page 3







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