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Treating Post-Holiday Let-Down & Depression
Depression continuing education addiction counselor CEUs

Section 1
Defining Happiness and Perception of the World

CEU Question 1 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Introduction | Depression
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

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Deck the halls, peace on earth, good will to men, joy to the world. How often do you hear these phrases repeated at holiday times? But how joyous are the holidays truly for you?

On this track,
we will examine how your perception of the world defines joy and happiness in your life.

Think for a moment, and this may be a stretch, and I'll repeat this statement twice. "Your mind is already happy until you make it otherwise." I'll repeat this. "Your mind is already happy until you make it otherwise."

Think about this statement..."There is nothing neither good nor bad, but your thinking makes it so." What does that mean to you at the end of the holiday season? Are you confused? Think of an incident with a relative, friend, acquaintance, work associate over this past holiday season that had a less than desirable outcome. Is it your thoughts or evaluation of the circumstance that actually made it good or bad? Isn't it a relief that it is your perception of a situation or in short the way your thinking coats your world, so to speak, which creates your reality?

If you have never thought about this before, the idea that your perception creates your reality may come as quite a shock to you. However, it could be a source of relief because as you are well aware, you have little control over much that occurred in this past holiday season, yet you have complete control over your thinking.

Do you agree?

But it is not quite that simple, is it? I have concluded the key to happiness is not to merely fill your mind with good or positive thoughts. However, the key is to look at your thinking which coats your reality.

Here's something else you may have never thought of… your world, holidays included, has surprisingly little effect on your happiness until you coat your world with your thoughts and give meaning and assign a meaning to what happens to you.


Let me prove my point. Think about a gift you really wanted to give to someone this past Christmas season and it didn't turn out exactly the way you had planned. Maybe your 9 year old daughter turned up her nose at the sweater that wasn't in the exact color that is popular with all of her friends. Or maybe you were hoping you could buy that electric bed for your ailing mother but had to opt for a Poinsettia that fit into your budget better.

The facts are the facts, your daughter did not like the sweater and your mother did not get the electric bed. But what are your thoughts about these facts? Did you have thoughts like, "sometimes I really almost hate my daughter for not recognizing the efforts that I put in to making a nice Christmas for the family." You end up feeling angry, bitter and depressed. However, what if your thoughts were, "I'm just grateful I can provide gifts for my family."

Do you see how this shift in perception shifts your mood? What about the electric bed for your disabled mother that you couldn't afford?

Instead of getting angry at yourself that you didn't opt for the promotion in another city and could be making more money now to buy that electric bed, what if your thoughts were, "She was perfectly happy with the Poinsettia. Actually, she never even mentioned that she even wanted an electric bed in the first place. That was my idea."

Take a minute to turn the CD player off and think of how your perceptions or self-talk regarding an event this past holiday season has coated your world. How could you see the situation differently or change your perspective?

Once an idea is thought, that idea becomes part of your perception and thus becomes part of your reality. In a sense that thought becomes the eyes through which you see the world. That idea determines what you choose to notice and what you choose to overlook. Your thought itself, and not its object, provides comfort. Your thoughts give support. Your thoughts give you hope. Your thoughts give you self confidence.

However, obviously the opposite can also be true. Your thoughts can take away happiness, not give support, take away hope or destroy self confidence. Yet this is an extremely difficult insight for most of us, myself included, to practice. We simply are not in the habit of looking exclusively at thoughts alone, and so there is a profound tendency to confuse what we see with how we are looking at what we see.

Most of us give lip service to the thought that happiness is a state of mind. By lip service I mean we say it, we understand it, but we do not practice it. So why do most of us fail so thoroughly to change our state of mind and be happy? Could it have something to do with criticism? Is criticism of yourself and other keeping you from being happy?

Technique: Criticism Analysis
Here is a "Criticism Analysis" exercise to try. Think over these thoughts carefully.
Thought #1. All criticism actually attacks the criticizer rather than those being criticized.
Thought #2. Criticism attacks the criticizer because it destroys your happiness.
Thought #3. Somehow if you feel that criticism of others acts to attack yourself it appears to threaten our worth as a person.
Thought #4. Do you have a secret thought that goes something like this, "I believe that I am thought more highly of when I have seen to it that someone else is belittled?"

Venting Strategies
Instead of venting your wrath at someone that should have, would have, could have done something, how about trying the harmless options of beating pillows, screaming as you drive on the interstate by yourself, going for a walk or other physical things that may release body tension? How about trying to clarify your feelings? These forms of holiday "acting out" or releasing do not stir up other people and perpetuate the cycle your criticism and lack of happiness.

On this track, we discussed how your perception of the world defines joy and happiness in your life, as well as a "Criticism Analysis" exercise and venting strategies.

The next track will discuss with "Is Forgiving possible?"

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Bardeen, J. R., & Fergus, T. A. (2020). Emotion regulation self-efficacy mediates the relation between happiness emotion goals and depressive symptoms: A cross-lagged panel design. Emotion, 20(5), 910–915. 

Phillips, J., De Freitas, J., Mott, C., Gruber, J., & Knobe, J. (2017). True happiness: The role of morality in the folk concept of happiness. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(2), 165–181. 

Raila, H., Scholl, B. J., & Gruber, J. (2015). Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses: People who are happy and satisfied with life preferentially attend to positive stimuli. Emotion, 15(4), 449–462.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 1
Your world, holidays included, has surprisingly little effect on your happiness until you do what? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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