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Fearing Hope

Tyler has been talking with me for over a year about how much he hates his job. He’s underpaid and underappreciated and his friends and colleagues continually assure him that he can find something better. His resolution for the New Year was to find a new job, but week after week he arrives at his…

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Bad Attitudes

One of the great secrets of life, and a central insight of cognitive therapy, was summed up in a simple way two thousand years ago by the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” Most of us assume, most of the time, that when…

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Single on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here again, a day that is pretty tough for a lot of single people. So many of us have uncritically bought into the notion, almost universally assumed in popular movies, music, and books, that romantic love is the One True Road to happiness. Life doesn’t really begin until you meet your…

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The Shadow Side of Social Media

In the last few months a number of people have told me that they’re taking breaks from Facebook (or other social media) because they believe that it’s making them increasingly unhappy; and I’ve been looking into what the research says about the effects these media have on emotional well-being. The studies show that when we…

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Happiness Isn’t Enough

In September 1944, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist in Vienna, was transported to Auschwitz along with his pregnant wife and parents. By the time the camp was liberated, they had been murdered, but he had survived. Soon after being freed, he spent nine days writing an account of his experiences and what he’d learned…

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If it’s Worth Doing, it’s Worth Doing Badly

Stan has come into therapy to decide whether to break up with his boyfriend, Michael. He loves Michael, and feels loved in return, but he’s finding so many imperfections in him that he’s afraid that he’s “settling.” Michael isn’t well-read, he’s politically naïve, his tastes in music are limited, and so on. Stan suspects that…

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Overcoming Chronic Resentment

Q: I’ve been with my husband for almost fifteen years. We don’t have any major problems like physical abuse, or cheating, or drugs. I really love him and I know he loves me, But I keep wishing he would be different than he is. I find myself resenting him all the time for little ways…

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Can Meditation Help With My Depression?

Q: I’ve been dogged by times of really intense depression for most of my life. Anti-depressants have helped some, and I’ve been in and out of therapy for years, but it’s still a struggle. I know you’ve written about meditation in the past. Do you think it could help me with my depression? I’ve tried…

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Holding On to a Toxic Partner

Q: My close friend Mark (that’s not his real name) – fell in love with someone nine years ago – I’ll call him Sam. Sam has done nothing but harm to him. He can’t hold down a job, even though Mark spent a lot of money he doesn’t have for schools and training programs for…

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Generosity and Well-Being

If you’re having a bad day, what is the best way to boost your mood? Will you be more likely to feel better if you do something to treat yourself, or will you feel better if you focus on doing something nice for others? Psychologists have actually researched this question, and have come up with…

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