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Thread: Can you force yourself to be happy?

  1. #1

    Default Can you force yourself to be happy?

    Outside of undue physical or emotional pain beyond the everyday aches and pains of normal living, it seems that unhappiness comes from wrongful thinking. People seek the guidance of a therapist to point out what is causing their wrongful thinking in the hopes of correcting the way they think. The path to happiness, then, is in changing how we think. This is something only we can do. If we eliminate the step of finding the "cause" we can simply work directly with changing the thinking. In other words, we should be able to achieve a higher level of happiness by thinking "happy" and actively seeking happiness in ourselves. This would not be a fixed level but more like an oscillating level of highs and lows, but at a higher base.

    If happiness is always due to forces completely beyond our conscious control then we are doomed to sit back and wait for these forces to make us happy, and seeking relief from our miseries is completely useless. I believe it is possible to "force" ourselves to be happier. Anyway, I think I'll put the theory to the test.

  2. #2

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    I think if I could force myself to be happy, I wouldn't have crippling depression.

    I can, however, force myself to do things that could better my depression. One of the strongest symptoms of depression is a lack of motivation, and it's that lack of motivation that disallows people suffering from it to get any aid. I guess in a way, yeah, I could really force myself to pick up my slack which in turn can make me happy. It's sticking to that that always turns out to be the hardest part, however.

  3. #3

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    Robin Williams is a perfect example of how it doesn't matter how much money you have, how many friends you have, how big your house is, depression can overwhelm people.

    I can't remember the last I've just had a moment in life when I'm just happy and nothing can get me down. It seems that there's darkness lurking its head around the corner ready to strike when you least expect it.

    I've been dealing with depression since I was a kid at a pretty young age. I've never really had any help with it either. My mother raised me and my sister by herself. She couldn't afford those kind of things. Yo be true I don't know if I could pour my life's woes on to some stranger.

    What does a psychologist actually do beside listen to your problems? I can imagine it now...

    How do you feel about that?
    Tell me more.
    Is that so?
    Anything else you like to talk about?

    What can these guys actually do to make you happier? I just don't see the point.

  4. #4

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    Your thoughts and your are thinking are only part of it. There is also your beliefs. You can get to where you believe a lot of negative things about yourself, the world, etc, think negative thoughts about these things, and day dream (imagine) about bad things happening (to yourself, or other people, etc).

    So if you are struggling with depression that won't go away, life can become a real struggle. You can believe negative things, horrible things, about yourself. And it can be automatic (like an involuntary thing like your heart beating) to think negative thoughts. To have your reactions to things (compliments, bad things happening, mistakes, etc) immediately be negative and without any effort.

    So if you want to change the way you think, you will also need to change what you believe. To do a really good job at this, you can end up needing to always be conscious of what you are thinking, and changing your thoughts when they become negative. This can easily exhaust all your resources. You can drain yourself of all your willpower. All your motivation. All your fight.

    Of course here I am talking about someone with bad depression and such, like myself. For whatever reason, I have very strong, self-defeating beliefs about myself that I can't seem to get rid off. I almost always react to things with negative thoughts. Even if I experience something positive and feel good about it and think good thoughts at first, the negativity that lives deep down comes to the surface and overpowers everything else.

    So it depends on what you are struggling with. I suppose it depends on a lot of things.



    Quote Originally Posted by MeTaLMaNN1983 View Post
    What does a psychologist actually do beside listen to your problems? I can imagine it now...

    How do you feel about that?
    Tell me more.
    Is that so?
    Anything else you like to talk about?

    What can these guys actually do to make you happier? I just don't see the point.
    For one thing, you need to find a good therapist (or great therapist) who you like and works well for you. I myself, certainly learned more about myself and others, and about dealing with my depression and anxiety. I got a lot of encouragement from my therapist, which helped. I have never felt (or believed) that I could talk to my parents about very much or that I could tell them anything. So having a therapist meant I had someone that I could talk to about a lot of things that I never had with anyone before and never felt like I could before.

    For anxiety, I learned new techniques to help lower it, and got a lot of encouragement about the things I thought up myself or read about, etc.

    And the things I learned from my therapist helped me become more aware of myself (who I am), my beliefs, and become more aware of my thinking and thoughts.

    You really do need to find a good therapist who really likes what they do and really works at trying to help people, and who you like and works well for you. Before I found my current one who is great, I had been to two others that didn't help me at all.

  5. #5

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    there is a lot that cognitive rehabilitation can do for depression and mood disorders, but it doesn't fix chemical imbalances of the brain or brain damage, It is very possible for some individuals to will them selves into happiness, and for others will power is not enough, there are lots of self help books one can try, along with talking to friends, but if all that fails please get help.

    - - - Updated - - -

    ok speaking from experience I can now say that sometimes the brain just isn't working properly and it is very hard to be aware of the dysfunction and it is common for people to be in denial. Depression can be a chemical imbalance of the brain that leads to irrational beliefs, in those kind of situations Im not sure will power alone or cognitive therapy is enough.

  6. #6

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    Psychology studies actually say yes. There's a measurable correlation between pretending to be happy no matter how you feel and winding up feeling happier.

    But more realistically, it's a tough one. I think we all have an idea of what might make us happy, some distant thing where you have the perfect relationship, perfect family, get to divulge all your secrets, etc. etc. And, well, the world is going to diverge from that perfect image because it's an imperfect world. On top of that, when you get into things like real depression or other mental illness, it becomes an ongoing trap where even really nice things no longer make people feel fulfilled, and they don't have motivation to try anything new or take the kind of actions that might make them at least satisfied with themselves.

    My belief is that, no matter how unhappy you are, it's always worthwhile looking for a silver lining in your life. Cheesy as hell, yes, but still worth doing. Every situation has moments of beauty, of truth, of pleasure if you look for them. They can be fleeting, like the moment when the sunrise turns the sky that gorgeous orange-pink color, but they're there if you look for them, even in really mundane things. And I think happiness isn't a static state either. It's finding the joy in the everyday while striving to always make things better for yourself, those your care about, and the world at large.

    Also, a big part of happiness is that humans are social animals. Too much time locked up alone isn't healthy, even if you are afraid of other people for one reason or another. Which, actually gets to what I want to say in response to the quote below...



    Quote Originally Posted by MeTaLMaNN1983 View Post

    What does a psychologist actually do beside listen to your problems? I can imagine it now...

    How do you feel about that?
    Tell me more.
    Is that so?
    Anything else you like to talk about?

    What can these guys actually do to make you happier? I just don't see the point.
    Someone who just listens and is there to try and help you, rather than judge and condemn you can be a godsend all by itself. But a good psychologist can do more than that. They can work with you to create strategies to cope with everyday life, new goals, different things to practice and work on that will make you feel like you're making progress towards being better off. A psychiatrist (as opposed to a psychologist) also has the ability to prescribe medications. I'm always somewhat wary of strong drugs, but if a person has a serious chemical deficiency or imbalance, that can be the cause of them feeling terrible and there are ways to correct the problem that they ought to use. The point of drugs isn't to escape your problems, but rather to help people with severe illnesses get the health and energy that they need to solve their problems.

  7. #7

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    I heard about those drugs saying people with thoughts of suicide shouldn't take it or something. I've often thought of suicide, some times out of the blue. Maybe one day if I can afford to go to one, I can get checked out.

  8. #8

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    Feeling happy or depressed are both self reinforcing cycles.

    If someone is just having a tough time and feeling depressed (as an emotion), then yes, they can force themselves to feel happy. It won't directly make them happy, but going through the motions will tend to result in feeling better, which will result in doing things that make them happier, etc.

    If someone is actually Depressed, then acting happy isn't going to be completely effective without correcting the chemical imbalance. Though drugs alone probably won't help much either. It needs to be reinforced with behavioral strategies as well. Otherwise it's just treating the symptoms.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumball View Post
    I can, however, force myself to do things that could better my depression. One of the strongest symptoms of depression is a lack of motivation, and it's that lack of motivation that disallows people suffering from it to get any aid. I guess in a way, yeah, I could really force myself to pick up my slack which in turn can make me happy. It's sticking to that that always turns out to be the hardest part, however.


    Quote Originally Posted by MeTaLMaNN1983 View Post
    I can't remember the last I've just had a moment in life when I'm just happy and nothing can get me down. It seems that there's darkness lurking its head around the corner ready to strike when you least expect it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sarevok View Post
    Your thoughts and your are thinking are only part of it. There is also your beliefs. You can get to where you believe a lot of negative things about yourself, the world, etc, think negative thoughts about these things, and day dream (imagine) about bad things happening (to yourself, or other people, etc).


    Quote Originally Posted by Aby View Post
    there is a lot that cognitive rehabilitation can do for depression and mood disorders, but it doesn't fix chemical imbalances of the brain or brain damage, It is very possible for some individuals to will them selves into happiness, and for others will power is not enough, there are lots of self help books one can try, along with talking to friends, but if all that fails please get help.


    Quote Originally Posted by ArchieRoni View Post
    Psychology studies actually say yes. There's a measurable correlation between pretending to be happy no matter how you feel and winding up feeling happier.

    But more realistically, it's a tough one.


    Quote Originally Posted by irnub
    If someone is just having a tough time and feeling depressed (as an emotion), then yes, they can force themselves to feel happy. It won't directly make them happy, but going through the motions will tend to result in feeling better, which will result in doing things that make them happier, etc.
    Obviously I'm cherry picking quotes here to support the main thrust of my post.

    I don't mean to downplay depression as if it isn't a serious problem. There are no doubt physical things that can cause chemical imbalances that can lead to depression. Still, one of the main tools I hear about for combating depression is some kind of cognitive therapy. This therapy is aimed at getting you to consciously change how you think. Brain chemistry seems to be a two way street. Your chemistry affects your moods but your moods also affect your chemistry. (I'm not an authority on this)

    About 20 years ago I had an anxiety attack one night while I was at work. It felt as if my mind had somehow pulled back from it's normal position inside my head. The fear that I was actually losing my mind was overwhelming. The next day, in a panic, I tried to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist and was told I needed a referral from a therapist first. Got in to see a therapist and at the first visit had another anxiety attack while describing to him what my first anxiety attack was like.

    In my second, and last, visit the therapist basically told me "don't worry, be happy". That really pissed me off. Here I was at death's door and he was quoting cheesy song lyrics to me. I spent the next couple of months constantly fending off the waves of anxiety that threatened to overpower me. I lost my appetite and lost weight without even trying; the only time that has happened to me.

    After a while I got tired of constantly fighting anxiety so I finally said "f**k this" and decided to enjoy a nice big meal again. That was the turning point as I began to realize the therapist's advice was right. I still sometimes feel depressed or anxious - that's life.

    If consciously moving in the direction you believe will make you happier can, in itself, increase your happiness, why not just do it? Don't analyze... DO! That is what I'm trying to achieve at this moment in my life. Sure, it takes energy to move towards happiness, but you are lying to yourself if you think depression doesn't also take energy. It kind of boils down to what areas you want to apply your energy to.

  10. #10

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    In my experience I hate being fake around others. I do it all the time because I grew up going to a lot of therapists and shrinks and I don't want my family to think I'm not doing well

    Ihave spent years forcing myself to look happy but it's bit the same as being happy

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