Trying to Be Happy Might Be Making Us Depressed

sadYou don’t have look farther than your Facebook wall or a news site these days to get a face full of “5 Easy Ways To Be Happy.” As a society, we have no shortage of advice on how to improve your mood or tackle symptoms of depression. With lures like “simple” or “fast” dressing our headlines, readers have every reason to believe that with the knowledge and the motivation, there is no limit to their happiness. Right?

If everything about mental health were as easy as we claim in titles, therapists like myself wouldn’t be the neurotic (yet obviously endearing) creatures that we are. As difficult as it is to admit, focusing on happiness has about as much to do with being happy as staring at a broken leg helps to heal it.

I love it when a good psychology text spins our way of thinking about mental illness into a different orbit. Jonathan Rottenberg’s The Depths changed how I think about my own self-improvement schemes and how I talk about happiness with my own clients. While self-help gurus may have the best intentions, Rottenberg warns that our extreme focus on good mood as the goal actually does us a disservice. “Setting a goal to become happier is like putting yourself on a treadmill that goes faster the harder you run,” he writes.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post here.

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