Creating our Own Happiness

Hardships are common in life and although something one would want to avoid, adversity can have a positive affect on character. Overcoming adversity can lead to acquiring and developing new qualities such as self-esteem, persistence and self-control. Attending to and overcoming adversity builds self-confidence and research suggests that these qualities play a pertinent role when it comes to success in life.

A plethora of research points to certain personality traits as central to ones ability to manage social, occupational, and interpersonal stressors; however, problems can occur in the development of these traits. When a child is faced with overwhelming life challenges of which he or she has no control, it is unlikely to promote an environment where the child can learn persistence and self control, rather he or she is likely to learn helplessness or hopelessness. An environment consisting of continual crises creates an overwhelming feeling of adversity and can impact personality traits designed to foster autonomy, self-confidence, and hope. According to Gunnar and Barr (1998), prolonged stress can affect brain development and inhibit development of affect regulation and non-cognitive skills. The physiological response to too much stress can physically damage the developing brain and can be quite pervasive, leading to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, behavioral problems such as substance abuse, self-injury, and physical health problems.

The positive news is that our brains are capable of growing, learning, and changing throughout our lives. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy has proven an effective adjunct to treatment for individual suffering from Borderline Personality DisorderSchizophreniaBipolar DisorderDepressionAnxiety, Substance Abuse, and any individual who would benefit from learning skills such as affect regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness (Barlow, 2008).

The Dialectical Behavioral Therapy group offered at Hanbleceya assists clients with learning new ways to direct their internal dialogue to consciously address negative thinking patterns and bring awareness to how thoughts impact emotions. When discussing mental health, the topic is usually directed toward problems and ways to reduce anxiety or lessen depression. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy provides an opportunity for individuals to revisit the importance of creating happiness, instead of assuming it comes from decreasing our problems. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy teaches skills and techniques that foster awareness of control over our happiness. Individuals learn ways to improve their well-being through committing to important goals, meditating, building a conscious awareness of our actions toward others, promoting optimistic thinking and visualizing future goals, success, and accomplishments. When in a serene state of mind that is not buried in negative or pessimistic thinking, one is able to more clearly address and cope with adversity. Often, we are drawn to the assumption that eliminating life stressors or symptoms of mental health disorders will alleviate our problems; however, adversity arises in new and different ways throughout life and learning to overcome adversity creates new experiences fostering growth and awareness building on one’s repertoire of skills for facing many of life’s challenges.

Reference

Barlow, D. H. (2008). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders; A Step-By-Step Treatemnt Manual (4th ed., pp. 251-370). New York, NY: The Guilford Press

Gunnar, M., & Barr, R. (1998). Stress, early brain development, and behavior. Infants & Young Children: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Special Care Practices, 11(1), 1-14.