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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Feeling Depressed? 3 Steps to Happiness

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 6th 2009

running man In a famous quote, author and tireless peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh said, "There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way."

In the world of therapy, sometimes I ask people to consider 3 steps to get themselves out of a rut.

First, I ask them to think of times when they were feeling well and ask them what they were doing? How were they thinking? Some say:

I was taking more walks

I was talking to friends more

I was more hopeful about the future

I was playing guitar more

I was waking up earlier

I was doing more yoga

I was eating healthier

I was smiling more

Etc...

Second, I tell people to integrate these activities into their calendar. Not in an effort to fake it until you make it, but because our bodies, thoughts, emotions, and behavior are interlinked to cultivate our experience. Therefore, if we change one, we can affect them all. In changing our behavior to reflect behavior that is experienced when we are feeling well, we can influence the other three in a positive direction.

Third, notice automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) such as "this is stupid" or "this will never work" or "what's the point". When you notice them, know that they are a product of not feeling well and are not facts. The gently redirect your attention back to the behavior.

Try it out, don't take my word for it, and let your own experience be the teacher!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    confused? - jen - Jul 14th 2009

    i dont think im depressed but maybe lost i used to be such a happy bubbly person but now im just down all the time the smallest things upset me i spend alot of time by myself shutting out the rest of the world just because  i dont want people to see wat iv turned into i wana be happy agen i wana be me!!!

    please help me

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