People are impressed with my steel-trap memory, but really most of us have the same ability - we just need to clear out the white noise and focus on what people are saying. The first step in effectively listening to someone is to clear out the white noise that takes up your brain's active space during a conversation. It's not easy - in fact, it's one of the hardest things you'll do when talking to someone. Because, let's face it, 90% of the problems you have in conversation are directly related to not feeling comfortable. Those thoughts are the direct reason for that discomfort and making them stop is a process. This chapter is loaded with information on how to build rapport and convince people to let you into their little world in the form of a conversation, but eventually you must learn how to invite them into your world, which honestly can be much harder, especially if you're uncomfortable sharing those details about yourself. This is where your internal voice goes to town, psyching you out about what it's okay to say, what it's not okay to say, and what the other person will think about all of it. I could tell you to relax and be yourself, but there are boundaries that need to be adhered to. Forget those boundaries and it's easy to scare other people away. Over the past fifty years, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has created a major revolution in the field of psychotherapy. Different from psychodynamic therapy, which essentially was based on clinical observation and experience, CBT has its roots in both research and clinical observation. The research makes use of basic information about how we as humans think, feel, and act, and it provides evidence of how this can all be put together in successful clinical treatments. What the research has shown is that CBT works in helping individuals deal with problematic emotions, such as anxiety and depression, and improve not only their interpersonal functioning but also their views of themselves. In my own professional situation, where I have spent over fifty years teaching and supervising clinical psychologists, conducting research on psychotherapy, and practicing CBT, I feel confident that treatment works when I see it in the research literature and when I see it clinically. In essence, research and clinical observation provide converging views of how to understand the problems that we face as human beings and how they may be remedied through therapeutic intervention. You may have a very difficult time following through on your goals, especially if you feel depressed. Perhaps you even gave up on making goals. You might be canceling plans, keeping to yourself, spending more time watching TV, escaping through the Internet, and procrastinating on whatever takes more effort than the bare minimum. Without a doubt, opting out of your typical routine and only doing the bare minimum helps ease the pressure you feel in the moment. But you also start a vicious cycle: as you do less, your to-do list grows longer, stress accumulates, and more stress makes it even harder to get going again.

With this tactic, you lose opportunities to experience moments that make you feel good--even for a few seconds or a few minutes. To make matters worse, you may criticize yourself for being lazy, feel confused about what is happening, or feel guilty for not caring like you used to. Activating Happiness can help you break the cycles of habits that keep you stuck, while addressing the fact that getting up and going again is way easier said than done. You will learn skills to help you function alongside--or in spite of--feelings of depression. In so doing, you can slowly bridge the gap between your current behavior and what you'd like to see yourself accomplish. The result is that you will create more moments of joy and meaning in your life. As you practice making steady progress toward your goals, you will spend more time acting in alignment with what you value. In turn, these choices promote uplifting moments of contentment and joy, and help you view your life as meaningful. The principles will also teach you to strengthen relationships and stay on the path to wellness by celebrating your accomplishments with others. Activating Happiness will help you build meaningful moments in your daily life by guiding you through five principles. These chapters are offered as a sequential path to guide you one step at a time. There are four bipolar disorders that comprise this depressive and elevated mood experience. Those who have a bipolar disorder have a fluctuation of moods, some ranging to the extremes of human experience, from despair to mania--while other symptoms are less intense in their arc. The experience of bipolar disorders involves a greater fluctuation of moods than do unipolar disorders. Because of Bipolar I disorder is the most serious of the bipolar disorders and is diagnosed after at least one episode of mania. Mania is defined as an elevated mood where euphoria, impulsivity, irritability, racing thoughts, and decreased need for sleep significantly impair judgment and daily functioning. Children or adults with bipolar I disorder typically also have a major depressive episode in the course of their lives, but this is not needed for initial diagnosis. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by at least one major depressive episode and an observable hypomanic episode. Hypomania is a milder form of elevated mood than is mania and does not necessarily impact daily functioning. Sometimes called "soft bipolar disorder," the symptoms are less intense that bipolar I, but more chronic.

In cyclothymic disorder, there are numerous hypomanic periods, usually of a relatively short duration, that alternate with clusters of depressive symptoms. The sequence and experience of these symptoms do not meet the criteria of major depressive disorder or bipolar I or II. The mood fluctuations are chronic and have to be present at least two years before a diagnosis of cyclothymia can be made. Many individuals with cyclothymic disorder eventually develop bipolar disorder I or II. For symptoms that don't align with the above-mentioned disorders or follow a different pattern of euphoric and dysphoric symptoms, "bipolar disorder not otherwise specified" may be used as a diagnosis. Researchers and professionals believe that bipolar disorder has a spectrum of experience and expression--and that current diagnostic manuals may change as research better defines bipolar disorders. You find nothing. In all that collection of mental hardware in this endless stream of ever-shifting experience, all you can find is innumerable impersonal processes that have been caused and conditioned by previous processes. There is no static self to be found; it is all process. You find thoughts but no thinker, you find emotions and desires, but nobody doing them. The house itself is empty. There is nobody home. Your whole view of self changes at this point. You begin to look upon yourself as if you were a newspaper photograph. When viewed with the naked eyes, the photograph you see is a definite image. When viewed through a magnifying glass, it all breaks down into an intricate configuration of dots. Similarly, under the penetrating gaze of mindfulness, the feeling of a self, an "I" or "being" anything, loses its solidity and dissolves. There comes a point in insight meditation where the three characteristics of existence--impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness--come rushing home with concept-searing force. You vividly experience the impermanence of life, the suffering nature of human existence, and the truth of no-self. You experience these things so graphically that you suddenly awake to the utter futility of craving, grasping, and resistance.

In the clarity and purity of this profound moment, our consciousness is transformed. The entity of self evaporates. All that is left is an infinity of interrelated nonpersonal phenomena, which are conditioned and ever-changing. Craving is extinguished and a great burden is lifted. There remains only an effortless flow, without a trace of resistance or tension. There remains only peace, and blessed nibbana, the uncreated, is realized. Here's what happens. You feel uncomfortable sharing any information about yourself, so you pull back, lock it all up, and don't say a word, even though your conversation partner is interested in learning more. For example, I've worked with many people who are hopelessly unable to network with their colleagues at events designed for networking. They go into the conversation not wanting to talk about themselves, feeling embarrassed that they may be bragging or going on at too much length about what they do. It's a bad habit, because a lot of people do want to know what you do - at least to some degree. They need to have an impression of you as a whole if they are going to contact you in the future for work related needs. Exchanging this kind of information is how the business world works and if you're out looking for a date or a friend, it's even more relevant to the conversation. You need to be willing to give away bits and pieces of yourself in conversation so that you can build an impression upon your conversational partner and they can understand your motivations and interests more readily. When you are trying to get yourself to do something "optional"--that is, it can be postponed to another day--are you really going to do it if you're exhausted, hungover, hungry, or completely overwhelmed? When you are depressed or struggle with low motivation, excuses are wolves in sheep's clothing--enemies disguised as friends. They offer easy ways to say, "I couldn't possibly do that now." In contrast, regular routines for basic self-care provide you with physical and emotional energy, promote your ability to think clearly, and help you choose wisely. When you want to tackle life goals that are technically optional, yet are consistent with your values, you will be more poised to follow through if you first energize your body and your mind. This principle is devoted to building healthy habits for sleeping, exercising, eating, watching your substance intake, and relaxing. These behaviors then smooth the path to meeting other life goals.

While a side benefit, I do want to point out that these habits have an inherently antidepressant effect. The moments when you say "I'll take care of it later" are moments when you turn away from your goal, and typically happen because you're trying to avoid some type of discomfort. In the short term, these ubiquitous microprocrastinations make you feel more comfortable. Problem is, when you delay, delay, delay, then stress or guilt can pile on and, more to the point, you don't accomplish what you seek to accomplish. It's helpful to understand those moments when you want to do something like clean the garage, then decide to do it tomorrow and instead read news headlines on your phone. The thinking that leads to this choice happens quickly, so I will help you break it down. Soon you'll be able to identify the emotions that get kicked up, drive the decision, and lead you to avoid, delay, or put off to another day. In this principle, you will gain awareness of your habitual "flee" button, practice hitting "pause," and cope more flexibly with discomfort so that you don't automatically throw your plans out the window. As you identify daily activities you'd like to accomplish, you will more successfully follow through if you have them planned on a calendar. A vague idea about how to spend a day is an invitation to get lost in YouTube videos and Wikipedia searches. By planning activities ahead of time and scheduling when you'll do them, you harness a core component of productivity. The less you have to do, the less you do. The busier you are, the more efficient and productive you are. In this principle, you'll draw upon your values to brainstorm additional activities that you can schedule. Then you'll learn to plan and track your activities. And because showing up for what you planned is easier said than done, you will use skills from earlier principles, as well as some new ones, to increase the likelihood of successful follow-through. When a child or an adult moves through identifiable traumas or stressors, and reports depressive symptoms, "adjustment disorder with depressed mood" is diagnosed. Criteria for ADDM is met if symptoms occur within three months of the identified trauma and do not persist longer than six months. Mood disturbances often accompany medical conditions. For example, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can spike irritability.