Mental Health Self-care

This is how to rewire your brain for happiness: 4 secrets from research

“Thoughts determine feelings.” Remember that. Make a note. Get a tattoo.

This is an awesome article which can apply to anyone, at any age. Especially teens.

By Eric Barker,

Someone compliments you and you think, “They don’t mean it.” Something good happens and you hear, “I don’t deserve this.” You’re meeting new people and it’s, “They won’t like me.”

And you usually accept those words because they’re coming from inside your head. It’s like the horror movie where the calls from the killer are coming from inside the house.

These are called “automatic thoughts.” And they suck. But we all know the answer: you just need to think happy thoughts, right? Wrong. Let’s get our psychology lessons from somewhere other than Instagram memes, alright? “Think happy thoughts” doesn’t help unless you don’t need help.

From The Confidence Gap:

Their study, entitled “Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others,” … showed that people with low self-esteem actually feel worse after repeating positive self-statements such as “I am a lovable person” or “I will succeed.” Rather than being helpful, these positive thoughts typically triggered a strong negative reaction and a resultant low mood.

So when you’re really feeling down, happy cliches won’t cut it. Nope. So we’re gonna need to science the hell out of this one. We need to rewire your brain, bubba.

From Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders:

This new approach— cognitive therapy— suggests that the individual’s problems are derived largely from certain distortions of reality based on erroneous premises and assumptions. These incorrect conceptions originated in defective learning during the person’s cognitive development. Regardless of their origin, it is relatively simple to state the formula for treatment: The therapist helps a patient to unravel his distortions in thinking and to learn alternative, more realistic ways to formulate his experiences.

It’s not hard or expensive, but it’s gonna take some practice. (Look, if you can spend 10 minutes taking a Facebook quiz to find out which Harry Potter character you are, you can spend 5 minutes a day to live a happier life, alright?). And once you get good at this it won’t just make you happier — these techniques are proven to help with all kinds of issues from procrastination to anxiety to anger.

From Thoughts and Feelings:

Challenging automatic thoughts is a powerful way to counter perfectionism, curb procrastination, and relieve depression and anxiety. It is also helpful in treating low self-esteem, shame and guilt, and anger. The techniques in this chapter are based on the cognitive therapy of Aaron Beck (1976), who pioneered this method of analyzing automatic thoughts and composing rational comebacks to refute and replace distorted thinking.

We’re gonna get some solid answers from Dr. Matthew McKay’s “Thoughts and Feelings” and even roll psychologically old school with UPenn professor Aaron Beck’s 1979 classic “Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders.”

Let’s get to it…

Cognitive Therapy 101

“Thoughts determine feelings.” Remember that. Make a note. Get a tattoo. This powerful idea goes back thousands of years to the Stoics. Aaron Beck even quotes Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus (the Biggie and Tupac of Stoicism) in his book.

From Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders:

If thou are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thine own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now. – Marcus Aurelius

“Always trust your feelings” sounds sweet but you wouldn’t tell that to someone with a phobia, a hoarding problem, or — god forbid — homicidal impulses, would you? No. Teenagers and golden retrievers are excellent at blindly following their feelings but neither are regularly consulted on their decision-making skills. Continue reading…

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