Psychological Self-Help

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In some cases, however, religion reinforces feelings of guilt and
the person becomes a martyr who feels he/she deserves punishment
or needs to endure unhappiness. They may feel so unworthy that life
only has meaning if they suffer great hardship and pain. Others think
they do not deserve to feel good; thus, if life is going well for them,
they quickly find a problem to feel badly about (see later discussion of
shame and guilt). Such people focus on the seriousness of life. Overall,
however, to most people religion probably gives more satisfaction than
The important point for the self-helper is that happiness and
depression are two somewhat independent dimensions--you need to
work on both decreasing depression and increasing happiness, if
unhappiness is a problem for you. Yet, it seems that trying too hard to
be super happy is like trying to be someone you aren't; that too may
be a bad idea. Instead, "To thine own self be true" while making
efforts to be happy: seek demanding, challenging work; exercise in a
fun way; do several pleasurable things every day and show your
happiness; nourish close relationships, and be good to others. 
Finally, a Buddhist friend would tell you to learn to accept the good
and the bad in life--accept and relish all of life (see irrational ideas and
determinism in chapter 14). This means recognizing the 6-year-old
inside each of us who wants the most attention and the biggest piece
of cake. This self-centered child part sees bad events as a personal
insult that shouldn't be happening, rather than as a naturally occurring
event. We must come to see that our I-don't-like-it attitudes create
our unhappiness, not the actual event. Why should getting just an
average piece of cake make us upset when many people are literally
starving and others are killing themselves by over-eating? Should
everything happen because we want it to? Of course not. Happiness is
based on the ability to take all the insults of life, without responding
with tension, sadness, or rage. Whatever has happened was
psychologically lawful. Accept it... and try to improve the future for
yourself and others. 
Martin Seligman’s Thesis on Happiness 
Psychology Finally Attends to Positive Feelings and Traits
Martin Seligman (2002) was once best known for his research of
learned helplessness, an important aspect of hopelessness and
unhappiness. He became interested in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in
which the patient is helped to look for evidence for and against his/her
own beliefs. His focus shifted to optimism. He has in recent years
become a leader of a new "Positive Psychology" movement which
underscores the importance of positive emotions and traits, especially
optimistic thinking, such as “I can manage.” 
Positive Psychology points out that applied psychology for over 50
years has focused mainly on psychopathology--disorders people will
readily pay to get rid of, such as depression, fears, anger, bad habits,
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