The Happiness Trap

The Happiness Trap is a self-help book based on ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy).

It starts with a simple but profound message. Humans are not happy to be default. They are not designed to be happy. Happiness is not required to continue the species along. So if you’re not happy with your life, that might just make you completely normal.

It puts aside things like cognitive therapy, point out that we have a lot less control over our thoughts and feelings than we would like to think. Instead it focuses on accepting negative thoughts and feelings (indeed, it claims all feelings are just feelings, rather than good and bad ones).

The techniques it teaches including connecting with the world around you and accessing the observing self. Which is a fancy way of saying mindfulness, being in the moment rather than over-thinking life.

It gives you exercises to do, and tells you off if you do not do them! I stopped reading the book for maybe two months because it said I could not continue until I had done one the exercises and I did not want to go back and do it. When I did, it turned out it was really easy. As are almost all of the exercises – they are designed for busy people. This is kind of stupid really, how can I be too busy to look after my health? But I also suspect many of us all into this trap.

The end of the book is a little more strange. It has a section about how ACT is not a religion. I know that. But stating it puts up a red flag against the book’s version of ACT (Scientology isn’t a cult remember…).

Then it talks about connecting with your values, the things you think are genuinely important in life and pursuing those. This is a good thing to do, but not something I expected in a book about managing my feelings and anxieties.




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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 4th, 2015 at 10:28 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.