Already at Pursuit of Happiness, we have created mental health checkups in an effort to prevent debilitating conditions from taking root. This is a fantastic first step in combating a world of suffering.
Putting the brakes on suffering...
Already in the world of psychotherapy, we have Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy; the leading type of therapy that offers the best chance at making therapeutic gains in the least amount of time. CBT aims to alter the way a person perceives the world. It does this through mastery of thought, or conscious choice in controlling in which way thoughts are shaped. Once control of these thoughts is exercised, it will profoundly influence the way someone feels, which in turn can influence behavior. So:
Thoughts > Emotions > Behavior
As an example: Let’s say that I get up from typing this blog entry, trip over something and knock a tooth out of my head. If I’ve been down on my luck, the thought that might pop into my noggin would be, “Why does this always happen to me?”
Let’s take a moment to analyze what it means to make that statement. The assumption is naturally emoted out of this question, and the assumption is that you are the kind of person that bad stuff happens to, and thus, you are a bad person yourself. Of course this is a simplification of what is often a more complex issue. But for our purposes this poses a sufficient base.
Now, if I allow myself to buy into the assumption that this sort of thing (in this case a tooth-rattling accident) always happens to me, this cognition will cause me to feel pretty bad about myself. I may feel worthless, not good enough, and because of this I will likely become sad or angry. Once I am sad or angry, my interactions with my friends and family will be much less expressive. I will react to the stimuli in my world in an impoverished way, easily explained because I’m not feeling good, and if I’m no good I might as well act bad cause what does it matter anyway?
Out of those three things, the one and only thing that is within our control is our thoughts. We can’t just changed our behavior, because we feel bad, and anytime people feel like that there is a greater tendency to lash out. We can’t just say to ourselves that we should just feel happy, because our poor mood is already established in the modus that we are a poor person, and obviously nobody enjoys being a poor person. But we do have an ace in the hole in this triumvirate of human behavior. We are expressly in control of the thoughts that we allow ourselves to buy into. This freedom is granted to us through consciousness, one of the great philosophical, and some would argue cosmological, mysteries of our existence. Consciousness, whether you choose to believe in it or not, allows that you are able to exert some control over the course of your life. This is the key factor, the bedrock illuminator, the crux, of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, the assertion that you are ultimately in control of the thoughts that comprise your condition.
Pursuit of Happiness
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