The To-Do List Guaranteed To Make You Unhappy

"If only we'd stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time." ~Edith Wharton

While reading this thoughtful article from Lifehacks, I was reminded of how much pride we take in our daily to-do lists and particularly, the emphasis our culture puts on productivity. Busy and efficient people we are, but would we be happier if we made a habit of practicing the not-to-do list more regularly?  Everyone has some kind of idea about how to find bliss and happiness -- 5 tips, 10 tips, and so on (I'm guilty of this!). It makes you wonder if all the positive, happy speak has an unintended consequence and is leaving us feeling defeated and in a place of despair. Is the struggle to be happy bringing us all down?  If any of this resonates for you, then perhaps you may find some wisdom in this "working backwards" approach.  The post suggests that tallying up how much we actually do in our daily lives that makes us "unhappy" is a place to start. My personal favorites are: 3, 4, 5 & 7. Find your own (and you may even think of more to add!). Once you tally up, then the task may be to figure out how these behaviors serve you and why you need them. That is a goal of therapy for many--to get to the root of misery and find ways to change. For those of you who want to try a different way to understand and manage your life, research radical acceptance, which is an important aspect of DBT therapy. I found these passages in my DBT workbook late one night while doing some research:

"Radical acceptance means that you accept something completely, without judging it. For example, radically accepting the present moment means that you don’t fight it, get angry at it, or try to change it into something that it’s not. To radically accept the present moment means that you must acknowledge that the present moment is what it is due to a long chain of events and decisions made by you and other people in the past. The present moment never spontaneously leaps into existence without being caused by events that have already taken place..."

" also creates an opportunity to respond to that situation in a new way that’s less painful for yourself and others. In many ways, radical acceptance is like the Serenity Prayer, which says: 'Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.'"

...inhale, exhale. Pause.

Some helpful psychotherapy techniques to address depression and anxiety with your therapist are: Cognitive Therapy for depression; CBT to change behaviors; Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT to understand, regulate emotions, communicate effectively and learn more adaptive coping skills; Mindfulness and (ACT) Acceptance Commitment Therapy to radically accept "what is" in your life and Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy to dig around in the unconscious should you care to. Please enjoy... Ten Recipes For Guaranteed Unhappiness - Lifehacks and check out the book  Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook available on Amazon, in print or for your Kindle, by authors Matthew McKay, Jeffrey Brantley and Jeffrey Wood.

Practice acceptance, try compassion and change what you can. Take care, KS

Kim Seelbrede is a former Miss USA and a New York City psychotherapist, coach, consultant and EMDR therapist who specializes in a holistic approach to therapy and coaching, working with adults, adolescents and couples. Kimberly is trained to collaborate with you in developing the insight and coping skills to address many concerns including: relationships, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, self-esteem, self-harm, ADD, ADHD, social difficulties, adolescent challenges, family issues, underachievement, perfectionism, identity and sexuality concerns, addictions, compulsions, OCD, binge eating, PTSD, trauma, transitions, life purpose, spirituality, health concerns, weight management, stress management, performance problems, life balance, meditation and mindfulness support.  Please email her to arrange a consultation in her Manhattan office or online via Skype. 

Kim completed her graduate studies at New York University and has advanced post-graduate psychotherapy training and also holds an advanced certificate to practice EMDR therapy as well as specialized training in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), DBT skills, Non-Violent Communication (NVC), and applies the work of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and her training with The Gottman Institute in her work with couples. She Is a registered yoga therapist (200 + 500 RYT) trained with the Urban Zen Foundation.

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