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the happiness trap

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  • the happiness trap

    I've just been reading a book called The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris. It's sort of a self help book, but not a typical one. It's based around the idea that no emotions are 'good' or 'bad' but simply either pleasant or unpleasant. so for example, it's not 'bad' to feel anxiety, it's just a feeling that everyone gets. The book then goes on to give you strategies for dealing with emotions. it's summarised by the acronym ACT: accept your internal experience, choose a valued direction, take action. In other words, you don't wait to feel good to make positive changes in your life, you find what you value and take immediate action towards your goals, regardless of whether you feel frightened, anxious, depressed etc.

    Has anyone else read the book or are familiar with the concepts? I have some questions about some of the ideas, but there's no way of getting feedback via the internet that I can see. Apparently more psychologists are using the methods, so it could be possible some people have encountered it. any thoughts?

  • you don't wait to feel good to make positive changes in your life, you find what you value and take immediate action towards your goals, regardless of whether you feel frightened, anxious, depressed etc.
    If you think about it, our lives are filled with negatives just based on man made decisions and pain, a death, loss of job, loss of a friendship... So given that, imagine, waiting to feel good to make a change, doesn't make sense does it. Finding what you value and go and get it, regardless is only going to make you believe and if you believe you can succeed.

    In addition, all the negatives don't appear to be so bad all of a sudden because passion comes into your life as well as a meaning to live, a goal to aim for and an understanding of that negativity.

    I do not see it as a trap at all, rather the right move forward.


    • Good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, it all means the same thing. Good and pleasant = desirable, bad and unpleasant = undesirable. This is not a new concept and has been bandied about for years and years. Coping skills remain the same and the acceptance of such feelings into your everyday life remain the same. What you do with and strategies for those feelings to enhance or reverse them remains the same. There is probably some good information in the book, I just wouldn't be rushing out to purchase it given that I already have about 6 similar ones on my bookshelf.
      That which we forget may as well never really happened.


      • Originally posted by CHANDLERS WISH View Post
        I do not see it as a trap at all, rather the right move forward.
        Sorry, I probably didn't explain properly, what you just said is what the book is promoting. the author is saying that typical psychological approaches are a trap (as in positive thinking, he thinks the more you try to be happy, the more unhappy you become) instead he's saying accept the 'negatives' as a part of life, and pursue the things you value.

        He's got a lot of good things in there, and even though I suppose it seems like conmon sense, it's surprisingly new ideas to me, especially the parts about dealing with feelings. I have never been told how to deal with feelings, and have spent years bottling them up, so it's nice to be told I can feel what I am without guilt.


        • Do you fall to the trap of assuming that your single purpose in life is to be productive? Discovering your personal bliss may include accomplishment, but the full, balanced scope of your existence may include times where being lazy is just as appealing. Here are some tips for enjoying free or affordable fun, all the while displaying a marked lack of productivity.


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