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What Happy People Know

Dan Barker

The thing about money is that no-one thinks they have enough. Survey asking people which of 13 basic elements of life they weer most satisfied with, money always came out bottom of the list. No-one feels 'rich', even when they are in top 1%.

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So should recognize that you are never going to be happy about amount of money you have, and rise above that feeling. You cannot win the battle, so figure out a way to avoid the fight.

Americans, in particular, are obsessed with money. 89% surveyed reckoned US 'too materialistic', but 90% wanted more themselves.

Most rich Americans are self-made, and they got there by sacrificing leisure and freedom. Unfree in that tied to work by fear of delegating, and unfree in that stuck in high-paying jobs they hate.

Happiness largely depends on yr expectations - if you inflate those, you're begging to be unhappy.

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TV, by showing people who are rich and happy, increases not only the desire for material status, but the idea that it will make you happy.

Change in attitude to both physical and mental health. In the past 'physical health' just meant curing diseases. But now realize that encouraging general health is best medicine. Mental health best served by finding ways to make people happy, rather than worrying too much about the details of personal anguish.

Two thirds of psychoanalysed patients fail to improve. The third that do, attribute it more to external factors or the relationship with the therapist, rather than any catharsis of emptying out their 'trouble bucket'.

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People change by building on their strengths, rather than by fixing their weaknesses. Try to make yr life better, rather than 'less worse'.

Happiness is not a thing by itself. It is the sum of 12 other qualities: love, optimism, courage, sense of freedom, proactivity, security, health, spirituality, altruism, perspective, humour, purpose.

Have to practice - if you wanted to get physically fit, you wouldn't expect results from just deciding.

One of the simplest and most effective things you can do to lift yr mood is simply to keep a pleasant expression on yr face.

Main expression of love is appreciation. Asks for nothing and gives everything. Spend 5 minutes, 3 times a day simply thinking of the things you appreciate - lover, children, food, memories. Focused meditation - my Top 5 Favourite People. Five Things I Love About My Daughter, Friend, Lover.

We live in a fearful society - we tend to approach each new situation with a 'What's wrong?' instead of a 'What's right?'

If trying to help someone, keep Qs constructive. Don't focus on negative. Don't ask a sexually-abused person 'When did it start?' 'How did you feel?'. Ask 'When in yr life did you cope with this best?' 'Who has given you the most help, and what kind of help worked best?' and 'Did you learn anything good about yourself from the ordeal?'

One of Martin Seligman's earliest insights was that having options and being able to make choices is the foundation of psychological health.

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Expts with dogs who couldn't escape mild electric shocks, 'learned helplessness'. Eve when later were free to move away from where they were shocked, they didn't.

This illustrates one of most powerful human abilities - we can alter the way we perceive the world. No matter how bad situation, you have the option to choose the positive perspective.

The Excuses:
1. I've been victimised.
2. I'm entitled to more
3. Someone will rescue me
4. Someone else is to blame

Most of us are looking for rescue. All we know is that something is missing from our life, and we can't possibly be happy until we find it. Usually men look for money to rescue them; women look for relationships. Multitudes of men dreaming that they will be happy when they have a million; multitudes of women when they have a husband. But of course the million is never enough for the guy, and the husband is never perfect enough.

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