As a counsellor using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) on a regular basis, I always enjoy sharing concepts that I come across that are interesting and have also had a personal impact on my life.
One such concept, that I try to remind myself of regularly, is the concept of the “Happiness Trap”. I have to admit, before my work with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and ACT, I was probably in the same boat as many, in maintaining the belief that life is only “good” if we are feeling happy, excited, and full of laughter all the time. Although we may wish this for many of our loved ones and self, the reality of life indicates that just experiencing positive emotions, all or even the majority of the time, is not realistic.
Take for example raising children. To say that being a parent means you are experiencing “feel good” moments and feelings all the time probably would make most, if not all the parents reading this, giggle to themselves. As a parent, you are sure to go through times of happiness and excitement, but there will also be times of sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger and frustration. All emotions are not everlasting and what this concept is trying to do is to help us to realize that living a full and meaningful life doing the things you want to do, while making room for our ever-changing emotions, can help lead to healthy and balanced life.
This concept has not only opened my eyes, but also those I work with, in changing our perspectives on life and what we would like to get out of it. In part, this concept highlights the use of acceptance. Acceptance that as humans, our actual “normal state” consists of an ever-changing flow of emotions, just like the weather. It also reinforces the fact that when we do have to deal with negative emotions, that’s ok! We do not have a character defect because we are not happy all the time and we do not have to let a change in emotions dictate what we want to accomplish on any given day.
I hope this concept helps you open up to the wide range of emotions we as humans all get to experience throughout life!!
To find out more about this concept I have attached a video by Russ Harris below.
- Concept Sourced from “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris