Feb 5, 2018
David begins with a brief discussion of the philosophy of happiness, including the ancient Buddhist idea that everything in the universe is transitory and constantly changing, including our positive and negative moods, so the idea that you will be hopelessly depressed forever, or endless happy, are both illusions. Happiness, or pleasure, are transitory, and can only be achieved at specific moments. However, you can significantly increase the number and duration of the happy periods in your life.
David briefly discusses research evidence that simply doing potentially satisfying and rewarding activities, whether or not you're "in the mood," can reduce depression and enhance feelings of happiness and joy in daily living. This simple treatment method, called "Behavior Therapy," was pioneered by Dr. Peter Lewinsohn, from the Oregon Research Institute, and has been shown to have significant anti-depressant effects.
One way of doing this is with David's famous "Pleasure-Predicting Sheet." It's pretty simple to use. As you can see from the link, it is a sheet with four vertical columns. In the first column, you schedule activities with the potential for pleasure, learning, personal growth, or helping others. You can include activities that are not overly time consuming or burdensome. In the second column, record who you plan to do each activity with. If you do the activity alone, put "self" in the second column, since you're never truly alone. You're always with your "self."
In the third column, predict how satisfying or rewarding the activity will be, on a scale from 0% (not at all satisfying) to 100% (tremendously satisfying.) Make sure you complete this column before you do the activity! And make sure you do it on paper, and not just in your head!
Once you've completed each activity, indicate how satisfying and rewarding it turned out to be on the same scale, from 0% to 100%. That's all there is to it!
Then you can compare the last two columns (the predicted and actual satisfaction). Sometimes, depressed individuals think that things they used to enjoy will be boring or unrewarding, so they give up on things, fail to answer the phone, and mope around at home in a state of hopelessness and self-pity. Of course, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy and a vicious cycle, because when you stop doing things, you will probably become more depressed, and then you'll be even more likely to give up doing things for pleasure. In contrast, when you do things, you may discover that many activities are more rewarding than you anticipated.
You can also compare the satisfaction you experience when doing things by yourself versus the activities you do with others. Many depressed people with the Love Addiction believe they cannot be happy when they're alone, thinking they must be loved to feel truly happy and fulfilled. David describes a woman who tested this belief, and made an unexpected discovery, after her husband rejected her for another woman. You can see her Pleasure Predicting Sheet if you click here.
Finally, David gives an example of how a depressed, perfectionistic medical professor made another unexpected discovery with a modified version of the Pleasure-Predicting Sheet.
The Pleasure-Predicting Sheet is one of only 50 to 100 methods that David has learned or created for defeating depression and anxiety. He doesn't see it as a complete treatment for depression, but it usually has some nice mood-elevating effects. Fabrice and I encourage you to try it this week, so you can let us know how it works for you!
Next week, we'll have another cool tool you can use to boost your happiness by overcoming procrastination!