Let’s Talk About Happiness


Happiness, we can say, is elusive. The more we chase it, the more it seems to evade us. There are entire industries centered around procuring it, a society seemingly adept at supplying it (instantly), and yet, we still don’t seem to be happy enough.

But this is also why clinicians should be talking about happiness.

Several things change when we are happier. Our physical health improves (Deiner et al., 2017). We become more generous (Soyong et al., 2017). And, most interestingly, one thing that happiness doesn’t change (or isn’t changed by) is how much money we make. In a survey of 1,519 people, Paul Piff of the University of Irvine along with Jake Moskowitz asked participants a series of questions about their household income, and their tendency to experience several distinct emotions that are considered to make up the core of happiness: awe, amusement, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love, and pride. While people at the higher end of the socioeconomic spectrum experienced emotions that focused more on themselves and their accomplishments, those on the lower end, were more likely to experience emotions that focused on others, such as compassion and love (Piff & Moskowitz, 2017)

Concludes Piff, “These findings indicate that wealth is not unequivocally associated with happiness” (Piff, 2017).

Piff’s research uncovers just one of the many myths associated with happiness. Happiness, it turns out, is also not linked to fame, popularity, or even the decisions to marry and have children.

However, what happiness does do is improve how we function on a variety of levels. Not just do we feel better when we are happier, cognitive function, memory, creativity, problem solving, and social and emotional awareness are all enhanced by positive emotions. And all of this matters when we are facing the kinds of problems that might cause us to seek professional help. In fact, one study found that through adopting a more realistic approach to life and allowing for a broad range of emotions – one that includes anger, frustration, and sadness – people’s happiness levels improved (Tamir, et al., 2017).

Instead of trying to sidestep the many emotions that seem to contradict happiness, and looking for happiness in the externals – the new car, job, house, or partner – we’d be better off embracing all of our emotions including the idea that happiness isn’t about just putting on rose colored glasses. Happiness, rather, doesn’t ignore the problems we face. Instead, it helps us solve them and give us the necessary boost of energy to do so. It may not be that elusive after all.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Finding Happiness: Positive Interventions in TherapyFinding Happiness: Positive Interventions in Therapy is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that explores the concept of happiness, from common myths to the overriding factors that directly increase our feelings of contentment. We will start with a discussion on why you, the clinician, need to know about happiness and how this information can help in your work with clients. We will then uncover mistakes we make when trying to attain happiness and look carefully at the actions we take and the beliefs that do not just obfuscate our happiness efforts, but often leave us less happy. Next, we will explore the ways in which our mindset influences our feelings of happiness and the many ways we can fundamentally change our levels of well-being, not just immediately, but for many years to come. The final section of this course contains exercises you can use with clients to cultivate and sustain a lifelong habit of happiness. Course #40-45 | 2018 | 57 pages | 25 posttest questions

Leveraging AdversityLeveraging Adversity: Turning Setbacks into Springboards is a 6-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients face adversity from a growth perspective and learn how to use setbacks to spring forward, and ignite growth. While clients can seek the help of a psychotherapist for numerous reasons, one thing that all clients face is adversity. Whether in their own lives, or within the training program itself, adversity and setbacks are inevitable. And how clients handle adversity often colors not just their ability to move past it, but also their success in therapy. Packed with the most recent data on post-traumatic growth, behavioral economics, and evolutionary psychology, this course begins with a look at just what setbacks are and how they affect us. Clinicians are then introduced to the concept of “leveraging adversity,” that is, using it to make critical reconsiderations, align values with behavior, and face challenges with a growth mindset. The course then addresses the five core strengths of leveraging adversity – gratitude, openness, personal strength (growth mindset), connection, and belief – and provides numerous exercises and skills for clinicians to use with clients. Included are 25 separate handouts clinicians can give to clients to cement core concepts from the course. Course #61-03 | 2018 | 92 pages | 35 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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