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Happiness is Not Your Mind’s Job (But You Can Be Happy Anyway)

In my experience as a psychologist, I’ve noticed that our biggest obstacles are often the thoughts and feelings inside our own heads. I’m not referring to the figurative old trope about self-confidence. What I mean is that we treat thoughts and feelings almost as if they were physical objects. They can seem to coalesce into a wall that stands between us and happiness.

I meet people every day who feel they must eliminate sadness before they can do things that bring joy, or eradicate anger before they can behave graciously, or even that they should prevent optimism in order to avoid disappointment.

It’s natural to think that way because that’s how we handle obstructions in the real world. We clear trees before building a house, and fix flat tires before driving. But that strategy fails when we apply it to thoughts and feelings. They are not objects that we can manipulate. Even if we could throw them away, the mind would just give us more.

Read the rest of the blog piece on The Huffington Post

Shawn T. Smith Psy.D. is the author of The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic, and What We Can Do About It

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