Happiness is the subject of thousands of articles, podcasts, and scientific studies. Yet all this focus on happiness doesn't seem to be making people any happier. In fact, the more they try to be happy, especially by fighting to get rid of bad feelings and cling to good ones, the more unhappy people often become.
My guest would say that the first step in escaping this negative cycle is redefining what happiness even means — thinking of it not as a state of feeling good but of doing good.
His name is Russ Harris and he's a therapist and the author of The Happiness Trap .
Today on the show, Russ explains how struggling against difficult feelings and thoughts just makes them stronger — amplifying instead of diminishing stress, anxiety, depression, and self-consciousness — and how simply obeying your emotions doesn't work out any better. He then unpacks the alternative approach to happiness espoused by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. With ACT, you allow both hard and pleasant feelings to coexist, and unhook from the latter so that they no longer jerk you around. This allows you to focus on taking action on your values to create a meaningful, flourishing life, or in other words, real happiness.Resources Related to the Episode
- AoM Podcast #614: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life With the Founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Steven Hayes
- AoM Article: From Overwhelmed to Empowered — How Labeling Your Emotions Can Help You Take Control