Kelly Clarkson’s “Meaning of Life” Video Is Here! Where Does It Rank Among the Singer’s Best Music Videos?

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Finding New Meaning in ‘Mean Girls’

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Game of Thrones: The Meaning of THAT Character’s Alias

Warning: Full SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season seven continue below.

Have you ever paused to think about how much names matter in the world of Game of Thrones? House names are clearly an important factor; surnames can mean life or death or wealth or poverty for those bearing them. The lack of a surname is important, too, as they use generic terms to identify bastards. And then there are the names of weapons.

Anyway, names have meaning. Davos tried to get Gendry to use a name other than his own after he took the boy away from King’s Landing in “Eastwatch,” and that alias might be a hint about the purpose of Gendry’s return.

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Celebrations, Rituals, and Constructing Meaning in Life

Written by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, Intentional Insights Co-Founder and President.

Series: Find Your Purpose

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This article first appeared on the blog of Intentional Insights, a nonprofit organization that empowers people to refine and reach their goals by providing research-based content to help improve thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns.

My family emigrated from the former Soviet Union to the US when I was 10, and our cultural heritage of ritual celebrations comes from that background. The most important Soviet celebration was New Year’s Eve, a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one. A few hours before midnight, close family and friends gathered together. There was always a big New Year’s tree with a bright red star on top, and a huge dinner table piled with delicious food. We socialized with each other, toasted to the old year, and had a great time. The last half hour before midnight was a time of rising anticipation and excitement, which built up until the last minute of the old year. Then, the conversations quieted down and everyone started counting off the seconds out loud – 60, 59, 58. The counting grew louder as the new year approached – 10, 9, 8 – until everyone was shouting – 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! We popped the champagne bottles and ate delicious Slavic candies. It was a great time, and one that was very meaningful to me.

When I moved out of my parents’ place, I also left behind our family ritual traditions. The one I missed most was New Year’s Eve. So did my wife and fellow Co-founder, Vice President, and Chief Empowerment Officer of Intentional Insights, Agnes Vishnevkin, whose family also emigrated from the former Soviet Union when she was 12. Thus, when we finally established a permanent household in Columbus, OH, in 2012 we decided to try to create our own family ritual for New Year’s Eve. We thought of what we felt as most important from our cultural heritage of celebrating New Year’s Eve, and concluded that what we really wanted was to be with people to whom we felt close. Therefore, we decided to throw a party at our place for the new circle of friends we made in Columbus. We also incorporated some elements from our Slavic heritage, such as Soviet champagne and candies. We even created a fun game, where party participants competed for who could popular the champagne cork the furthest up the staircase at our place. Although that game led to some wall and ceiling damage, the entertainment value was worth it.

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Photo from the personal archive of Gleb Tsipursky

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Photo from the personal archive of Gleb Tsipursky

This constructed ritual celebration carried a great deal of meaning for my wife and I. It speaks to the broader relevance of rituals and celebrations for gaining a sense of meaning and purpose. Research on rituals shows their importance in maintaining and transmitting cultural values, including what a specific culture perceives as the key elements of meaning and purpose. Scholars also highlight how rituals serve as a vital contributor to social bonding and community belonging, a key element of gaining a sense of meaning and purpose.

Religion has been one of the most common sources of ritual experiences, especially in the United States. This helps explain why religion is so deeply associated with meaning and purpose in the US. Yet religion does not have to be the main source of rituals, by far. My research on the Soviet Union, as this brief Youtube video indicates, describes how the government reconstructed traditional ritual celebrations along new lines after the 1917 Revolution. These rituals both served to help people enjoy themselves and find meaning and purpose, and also to further the government’s political agenda. Research by others on the Soviet Union and other authoritarian countries supports my findings.

Reconstruction of ritual traditions happened in capitalist states as well. For example, in the United States, the capitalist marketplace has been gradually commercializing traditional religious holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Consumerism has increasingly displacing the religious rituals involved, and Americans have grown more and more prone to celebrating Christmas and other holidays in a secularized fashion.

As you see, rituals are not fixed – they are constructed and reconstructed over time, to fit people’s needs. So why not take matters into your own hands and gain greater agency by choosing rituals that help you achieve your own goals, including attaining a deeper sense of meaning and purpose? Think about what are the most meaningful elements of rituals for you. Then, consider constructing your own ritual tradition for yourself and others close to you, as Agnes and I did with New Year’s Eve. In another example from my personal life, my closest friend circle constructed our own ritual celebration of the Winter Solstice, called SolstApocalypse since we first celebrated it in 2012 when there was a widespread concern over Mayan Calendar’s prediction of an apocalypse. At SolstApocalypse, we affirm and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and growth over this past year.

Besides constructing your own rituals, you can also choose to join a community that has ritual celebrations that meet your personal goals. Currently, religious communities provide the large majority of ritual celebrations, but secular folks have more and more opportunities in local secular communities. Right here in Columbus, OH, the Humanist Community of Central Ohio offers secular celebrations of the Summer Solstice, the Winter Solstice, and other secular holidays. The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus provides a welcoming space for both believers and non-believers to celebrate secularized rituals from a variety of faith traditions. Over the last few years, secular folks have been organizing major national events, most prominently the New York Winter Solstice, but also events such as Darwin Day and a whole host of other secular holidays with ritual elements. If your own local secular community does not currently host such holidays, I would encourage you to show initiative and agency to organize such celebrations, on the basis of resources provided in the links given above.

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Image credit of Adam Lee’s “Daylight Activism” blog post

  • What kind of benefits, if any, did you get from rituals in your own background and cultural heritage?
  • Do you think you can gain a deeper sense of meaning and purpose from reassessing and revising your current rituals and celebrations?
  • If so, what steps can you take to achieve your goals? How can you engage your social circle and local communities in this endeavor?

P.S. For additional resources, check out this workbook with exercises on finding meaning and purpose using science-based strategies; this free science-based web app to evaluate your current sense of meaning and purpose; this free online class on finding meaning and purpose using science; and the wide variety of other resources on meaning and purpose available at Intentional Insights.

_________________________________________________________________

Did you find this post helpful? Support my ability to keep writing on Patreon!

Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders and organizations avoid disaster through science-based strategies for effective decision-making and emotional and social intelligence. He is a well-known scholar, entrepreneur, author, speaker, consultant, coach, and activist in these areas – for more information or to hire him, see his website, GlebTsipursky.com.

He runs a nonprofit that helps people use science-based strategies to make effective decisions and reach their goals, so as to build an altruistic and flourishing world, Intentional Insights. He also serves as a tenure-track professor at Ohio State in the History of Behavioral Science and the Decision Sciences Collaborative. A best-selling author, he wrote Find Your Purpose Using Science among other books, and regular contributes to prominent venues, such as Time, The Conversation, Salon, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He appears regularly on network TV, such as affiliates of ABC and Fox, radio stations such as NPR and Sunny 95, and elsewhere.

Consider signing up to the Intentional Insights newsletter; volunteering; donating; buying merchandise. Get in touch with him at gleb[at]intentionalinsights[dot]org.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Books of The Times: Review: ‘The Meaning of Michelle,’ a First Lady Unlike Any Other

Sixteen writers, many of them African-American women, share what it’s been like to witness Michelle Obama in the White House, in a new collection edited by Veronica Chambers.
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Here’s the Real Meaning Behind Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby, One More Time”

It's been more than 17 years since Britney Spears burst on the scene with her first single, "Hit Me Baby, One More Time"—and cemented school girl outfits, braided pigtails, and hot pink sports bras into…


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Finding Meaning in a Digital Age

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Photo credit: Joel Montes de Oca
“Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind, there would have been no reason to write”.

~ Joan Didion

I was at my parent’s dinner table. Before me was a worn journal of thin and discolored pages and a neat script that was gently fading away.

It was my grand fathers journal and now belonged to my father. I never knew my grandfather. He had died in the months leading up to my birth, and had named me in his final days even though there was no proof that the baby to come would be a girl. In the expat life I grew up in, I never got to visit the home he had lived in, the places he had frequented and the people who had been a part of his life’s journey.

I was now about to enter his world, through the words that he had left behind. I smelled the mold of decades of wear and tear and touched the softness of the paper that had grown smooth with time. And within minutes, I was captivated by the power of the written word. It plays on the human’s mind’s capacity to time travel and carries us back and forth in a remarkable interplay of past, present and future. In the magical script before me, I was transported to another era, where guests arrived for no reason but to connect, and were forced to stay for dinner. An age where food was an everyday art, planned, prepared and enjoyed in the company of others. A time where people had the heart to pause their own lives in order to embrace each other’s struggles. All this was conveyed to me in the beauty of the words that flowed together to connect with the writer’s mind and understand the world they lived in. Reading the very words that my grand father had penned eons ago, I felt a strange kinship with him that stories about him had failed to impress.

That kind of writing seems to be lost on us today. The love for words, the agonizing over sentences and the ethical component of good writing that obliged us to pay certain kinds of attention to our experiences, seems to have succumbed to the speed of our times. We have gotten used to writing in bite-sized pieces for a public looking for ease and entertainment, and hungry for information. No wonder, there are nearly 200 million bloggers on the internet and a new blog is created somewhere in the world every half a second. Instead of adding to our collective wisdom, these writings are largely saturated with the vulgarities of human nature and the superficiality and impatience of our day and age. There are “3 easy steps” to whatever your imagination can conjure up, and endless trivial newsfeeds that shift miles in minutes and delude us into confusing meaning with information.

This deprives us not only of the skill of writing eloquent prose, it also inhibits us from delving deeper into what is truly important. Writing humbles us in a way that is vital for our character growth, by reminding us about the limits of the self and our appropriate place in the vast flow of life. Writing frees us from the tyranny of the ego, by helping us wade deeper into the unknown and making us comfortable with the unease of being stupid. For it is then that we let go of perceptions and beliefs that rein us in and truly open up to the magic of the world around us.

Writing also provides us with the courage to face what is happening while keeping our heart in the room. It allows us to choose suffering over safety like C.S Lewis in Shadowlands. Because suffering is not suffering when it is helps us find meaning in our experiences and make sense of our world. It is in staying with the pain of unexplainable circumstances and asking the questions that seem to have no answers, that we often arrive at the best possible response. After all life happens in living it, and meaning emerges not in our heads but in our journeys.

I saw all of this in the writings of my grandfather. His inner journey as he survived the partition of the Indian subcontinent, suffered the consequences of broken trust more than once, and yet never lost hope in the goodness of the human spirit. And I’ve seen it again and again in the writings of the greatest thinkers of humanity, whose wisdom is largely off the very internet that we see as our sole source of information. Their writing reflects deep thought on issues of human importance, such that T.S Eliot wrote no more than 150 pages of poetry in his entire career and James Joyce wrote Ulysses at the rate of a hundred words a day.

By undertaking an inner journey and understanding our own inner worlds, we are reminded that beneath all the layers of psychosocial patina lies a common humanity that shares the same pains, delights in the same joys, and lives for the same purpose. As Sherwin Nuland remarked in How We Die, “the more personal you are willing to be around the details of your own life, the more universal you are”.

And we are reminded too of the wonders of the inner world. For when we spend time contemplating on it, we find that we are all here to do good. It is what ensures our biological survival and brings us spiritual pleasure, if only we were to stop and consider it amongst all our worldly distractions.

It is not a privilege, reserved for a certain population amongst us. After all, the search for meaning is a universal human quest. Luckily life is difficult, mysterious and hard to understand. Andre Gide won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his “fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight”. We may never win the Nobel Prize. But by reflecting upon our experiences with intensity and writing about them with integrity, we can answer the call of the soul with the best possible response.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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Off the Couch and Out the Door: Finding Meaning in Midlife, One Adventure at a Time

Off the Couch and Out the Door: Finding Meaning in Midlife, One Adventure at a Time


Somewhere around middle age, inspired by his children and determined to overcome a life characterized by stress, ennui and more than one bad habit, Bob Foulkes sets out on his first big adventure. That Outward Bound trek through the Coast Mountains of British Columbia opened the door to a lifetime of adventures that have energized, enlivened and inspired him ever since. From marathons and triathlons to trekking and adventures of the heart and soul, Bob’s quests take us from beautiful locales in his own backyard to exotic destinations. He becomes an unapologetic adventure junkie, compelling him to places as far-flung as Morocco, India, Kuwait, Ukraine and more. Through animated detail and charming, self-deprecating humour, Bob shows us that, whatever our age, means or circumstances, everyone can have thrilling adventures. We just need a little discipline, a bit of enthusiasm, a dollop of common sense and, finally, a tiny push to get off the couch and out the door.

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‘Tomorrowland’ Is Full Of Wonder But Light On Meaning

“Tomorrowland” is forecasted to top the Memorial Day Weekend box office. The receipts won’t be nearly as hefty as last year’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” or 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6,” but the movie will nonetheless become one of only a few non-franchise properties to debut at No. 1 this summer. That’s even more of a feat given how much secrecy has surrounded the film since it was green-lit in 2011. Inspired by the futuristic region of Disney’s theme parks, “Tomorrowland” is a preachy take on the apathy with which humans have treated this planet. But it is not without a deep sense of wonder that director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”) presents his take on the state of the earthly union. (Bird co-wrote the script with “Lost” and “The Leftovers” co-creator Damon Lindelof, who also earns a story-by credit alongside Entertainment Weekly journalist Jeff Jensen.)

“Tomorrowland’ is a secret no more, however. The buzzy $ 190 million spectacle has two perspectives at its core: that of a young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson), a precocious kid who attends the 1964 New York World’s Fair to present the homemade jet pack he invented. A snooty judge (Hugh Laurie) dismisses Frank’s creation after seeing it leaves some functionality to be desired. But wait! An even more precocious young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) tips him off to an underground lair accessed via Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride, and there he finds a utopian kingdom that’s two or three stylized daydreams removed from the real world. Years later, an ageless Athena tracks down Casey (Britt Robertson), a teenager living with her hothead single father (Tim McGraw) and doting little brother (Pierce Gagnon), who does everything she can to protect the nearby NASA plant from being destroyed. Casey receives a pin that, when touched, transports her — and only her — to Tomorrowland, which she comes to discover has been commandeered by that same surly judge who dismissed Frank Walker years ago. Casey tracks down a much older Frank (George Clooney) and insists they rescue this futuristic mecca from doom.

george clooney

There’s a lot of plot in that paragraph, and even if it takes a while for it all to unfold, it only scrapes the surface of “Tomorrowland.” There are Big Themes about disregard and environmentalism and pissy worldviews and doomsday media culture and loss of imagination stamped all over the film. Most of them are too heavy-handed, even for a family flick. Still, we wouldn’t go so far as to say “Tomorrowland” isn’t worth your time. In fact, a lot of it is quite fun and quite refreshing given the tired tropes that both young-adult fare and summer blockbusters cannot escape.

Here are a few things that make Bird’s pageant worth your attention:

1. The three kid actors steal the show.
“Tomorrowland” has to contend with an unremarkable (possibly miscast?) George Clooney, who plays present-day Frank Walker, the cranky Tomorrowland alum who is now living in a secluded house bugged with so many whirling gizmos that it belongs in, well, a sci-fi movie. Clooney isn’t phoning it in, per se — he just doesn’t bring much to the table that any moderately gruff middle-aged actor couldn’t. Instead, count on the marvel of Britt Robertson, Thomas Robinson and especially Raffey Cassidy as the three charming kiddos at the film’s center. Robertson is its lead, despite Clooney getting top billing; she plays the young teen recruited to travel with Frank back to Tomorrowland. Robinson is a wide-eyed delight as the younger Frank in flashback scenes, and Cassidy — a Felicity Jones look-alike with small roles in “Dark Shadows” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” to her name — dominates the film as the enigmatic British lass who shepherds most of its action. Cassidy’s telling eyes are reminiscent of “Parent Trap”-era Lindsay Lohan, and she boasts the same confident comedic caliber to boot.

raffey cassidy

2. The world of Tomorrowland is deeply imaginative.
The moralizing themes of the titular tract — and the convoluted way the script presents them — weigh down the second half of “Tomorrowland,” but that only barely detracts from the stunning visuals punctuating what resembles a functional amusement park. Maglev trains look like roller-coasters zipping around a plaza of skyscrapers, while a pristine blue sky characterizes a utopia that’s both idealistic and utilitarian. Brad Bird and production designer Scott Chambliss (“Alias,” “Star Trek”) have created a landscape that begs for dreams to be dreamed and new horizons to be plowed.

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3. Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key make fun cameos.
The film’s action, centered on a world where collective humanity has shrugged off things like climate control and space exploration, kicks into high gear once Casey (Robertson) leaves home to figure out why she ended up with a mysterious yellow pin ornamented with a blue “T” that transports her to the faraway Tomorrowland. She finds a Texas memorabilia shop looking for the same item on eBay, and after traveling there, meets the kooky married owners whose robotic mannerisms quickly raise suspicions. They’re played by Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key, both game to embrace the silliness of their scene, which whips out the laser guns as soon as it’s clear that these two are not what they seem. Cue clever “Star Wars” allusions throughout.

4. This is a rare non-franchise blockbuster with a great female role model at the center.
“Tomorrowland” is technically an existing property, but it doesn’t squeeze into the same franchise category as, say, “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent,” two recent literary adaptations with stellar female leads. We know nothing about the “Tomorrowland” players before the movie’s first frame, which makes it all the more rewarding to take this journey with the ambitious Casey at its helm. That shouldn’t need to be something we celebrate, but considering last year’s highest-grossing non-franchise film with a female lead was the very silly “Lucy,” it is. Vulture’s David Edelstein called this the “anti-‘Hunger Games,'” and that makes sense. Katniss Everdeen is worth rooting for, but it’s nice to spend time with a heroine whose action sequences don’t involve killing other kids or contending with the “faction” to which she must subscribe. That isn’t to say the “I’d Love to Teach the World to Sing”-style ending works, but it does add a certain freshness when a movie doesn’t need to position the female protagonist in terms of her willingness to take no prisoners or contend with “Fault in Our Stars”-esque tragedy.

britt robertson

5. Brad Bird and Co. do what most high-voltage blockbusters don’t: They manage not to overclog the action.
If there’s any reason to bypass comic-book movies — and apparently there aren’t many reasons, given their box-office stamina — it’s because most of them borrow the same plot beats and resort to similar cycles of endless action sequences sandwiched by slight exposition. But the action in “Tomorrowland” remains secondary to the plot. The script doesn’t shy away from letting its characters talk, and even with glaring contrivances, it feels like (depressingly) new terrain to see a contemporary summer blockbuster grant its characters the space to think and breathe and brainstorm. That part of Bird’s approach marks another quality that sets it apart from the many YA franchises serving action ahead of characterization.

“Tomorrowland” opens in wide release on May 22.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Chloë Grace Moretz And Michelle Obama Give ‘The Hunger Games’ New Meaning

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, unless you’re Chloë Grace Moretz.

In Funny Or Die’s new parody of dystopian films, the actress finds herself on the receiving end of some strange advice from a medical professional while the rest her classmates gorge themselves on junk food. She’s accidentally stumbled into the “snackpocalypse,” where carrots are seen as threats, and the words “healthy eating habits” are verboten.

Although the fake trailer closely mirrors the plot of “Divergent,” it also tips its hat to “The Hunger Games.” First Lady and healthy eating advocate Michelle Obama even makes an appearance.

Give the star-studded parody a watch, above.
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When the Journey to Happiness Stalls, Try Focusing on Meaning

In college, I thought I could study my way to being perpetually happy. I figured I had all the prerequisites needed for a happy life: a supportive family, good friends, a good education and the world ahead of me. I read countless books on happiness, became a psychology major, practiced smiling 20 times per day and even wrote my senior thesis on Martin Seligman’s work about “learned optimism,” or how to see the glass as half full. Yet I found that the more I focused on trying to be happy, the more elusive it felt.

It appears I’m not alone. Recent psychology studies have suggested that if we doggedly try to focus on happiness, it can impede our ability to be happy! In their article “Can Seeking Happiness Make People Happy?” Mauss and colleagues contend that people who highly value happiness end up setting happiness standards that are difficult to achieve. [5] When they don’t attain these high standards, they feel disappointed, “paradoxically decreasing their happiness the more they want it.”

So where do we go from there? Two experiences during my residency training to become a psychiatrist profoundly helped me on my own journey. The first was becoming familiar with meditation, which enabled me to take pressure off my quest for perpetual happiness. And the second was asking myself a slightly different question than “how can I be happy” that steered my journey toward values and meaning.

Before I started to meditate, I thought I was failing every time I had an unpleasant thought, be it unhappiness, loneliness, anger, anxiety, or frustration. With meditation, I slowly learned that those feelings are part of the package of life. Instead of trying to push the feelings down only to have them pop up (often at unexpected and sometimes pretty inconvenient times) or develop self-sabotaging distractions to ease my troubles, I learned to just accept the unpleasant feelings — to sit with them while they ebbed and flowed in my mind. The more I sat with feelings, the less threatening they felt. And I discovered I need not beat myself up every time a negative thought or feeling popped up. In other words, I stopped adding to my misery by judging myself when I felt miserable.

When I stopped asking myself, “How can I be happy?” an unexpected new question popped up, which was, “How can I be happy with myself?” It started with learning an unconventional technique to relieve emotional distress called the Emotional Freedom Technique. As part of this technique, my teacher asked me to repeat the self-statement, “Even though I have this pain, I deeply love and accept myself.” I hesitated. Was that true? Did I “deeply love and accept myself?” I was embarrassed that with all the introspection I’d done, I hadn’t asked myself that question before. And I was also disturbed that when I did answer it, my answer was a hesitant, “Umm… maybe?” It pushed me on my journey to figure out what I could do to make that self-statement feel truer to me. I began to figure out what I valued, so that when negative feelings came up, I could still work towards things that were meaningful and affirming for me.

There is a type of therapy I recently discovered that makes me feel like I might have re-invented the wheel with my two transformative experiences. It is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT encourages people to accept what is out of their personal control (such as depression, chronic pain, external events like economic downturns or disasters, etc.) and commit to taking actions that are in accordance with their central values. ACT assumes that even when people are experiencing a great deal of pain, there’s an opportunity to find meaning and purpose. The therapy teaches people how to accept painful feelings that are out of their control using mindfulness (a meditative practice involving paying attention to our experience in the moment), and shows people that pain can sometimes help with crafting rich and meaningful lives.

In my work as a psychiatrist, I often focus on reducing or eliminating symptoms, such as those that come with depression and anxiety disorders. ACT, instead, aims to change a person’s relationship with his or her thoughts and feelings so they are no longer seen as symptoms. In his book ACT Made Simple, for example, Russ Harris makes an analogy to a plant we might judge as an “ugly weed” in our garden that we just can’t get rid of. If we view this plant as a menacing, ugly weed, we’ll spend a lot of mental energy feeling upset, frustrated, maybe embarrassed about it, wishing it weren’t there, etc. But if we view the plant as an unfortunate fact of life, common to the native environment, then we are free to not waste mental energy on it. This leaves us able to better focus on what we find meaningful.

Although ACT still has a limited research base, there is some evidence that it can be as effective in the treatment of depression as CBT; there is also evidence of its effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders and chronic pain. One proposed mechanism for the effectiveness of ACT is that it helps decrease what has been called “experiential avoidance.” When we attempt to avoid negative thoughts and feelings, not only do we often fail, but we can actually come to feel greater anxiety and distress. By decreasing our experiential avoidance, we can feel a reduction in distress, and move more easily toward what we value in our lives.

So if you find yourself bogged down on your path to happiness, it may be time to pause and refocus. Instead of tormenting yourself with, “Why can’t I be happy?” you could try to be present with all the feelings you’re having at this very moment, good, bad, and ugly. And then use the mental energy you save to figure out what you value in life. One question that I particularly like is, “When I’m 80 years old, what do I want to look back and say about myself?”

It’s a big question to ask. One thing I can now say for myself is, “Even though I was tired and a little achy, I still wrote that article about meaningfulness.”

For more on ACT: http://contextualscience.org/act

References:

1. Churchill R. Third wave cognitive and behavioural therapies versus other psychological therapies for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD008704. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008704.pub2.

2. Forman EM, Herbert JD, Moitra E, Yoemans P, Geller PA. A randomized controlled effectiveness trial of acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive therapy for anxiety and depression. Behav Modif 2007. 31: 772-799.

3. Harris, R. (2009) ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

4. Hunot V, Moore THM, Caldwell DM, Furukawa TA, Davies P, Jones H, Honyashiki M, Chen P, Lewis G,

5. Mauss, I. B., Tamir, M., Anderson, C. L., & Savino, N. S. Can seeking happiness make people unhappy? Paradoxical effects of valuing happiness. Emotion 2011. 11: 807-815.

6. Seligman, M. (2006). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Vintage Books
GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
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