Happiness Trap

Happiness Trap



  • Kirtan Kriya Yoga – Alzheimer’s society. Scientific studies shows it decreases the impact of
  • Tibetan Buddhism – Sadana
    • Prayers, mantras and then insight meditation.
    • Mantras done before the vispassana meditation and helps prepare.
    • Mantras can be done when really stressed out.
  • Review book Happiness Trap
    • Popularizes ACT – “Acceptance Commitment Therapy”
    • Designed to help people through depression.
    • Repackaged Buddhism for the general population using different terminology to attract a broader audience.
    • Excellent at identifying the keep “trap” of the practice ie. The goal is to be conscious of the thought stream, not to stop it.
    • Deals with acceptance in an interesting and powerful way.


Hopefully this is practical

  • Think of two circumstances that have caused you to suffer, one big one small.


Happiness Trap

  • “The world health organization estimates that depression is currently the fourth biggest, costliest, and debilitating disease in the world and by the year 2020, it will be the second biggest.”
    • ACT was created to deal with the epidemic by developing education and techniques instead of or in addition to standard therapy.
  • “We spend time worrying about things that do not happen”
    • Is this true for you?
  • “Our modern minds are continually warning us of rejection and comparing ourselves to the rest of society…   When we compare ourselves to these glamorous media creations.  We feel inferior or disappointed with our lives.”
  • “Thus, evolution has shaped our brain so that we are hardwired to suffer psychologically: to compare, evaluate, and criticize ourselves, to focus on what we’re lacking to rapidly become dissatisfied with what we have, and to imagine all sorts of frightening scenarios, most of which will never happen.  No wonder humans find it hard to be happy”.
  • “The other far less common meaning of happiness is living a rich, full, and meaningful life.  When we take action on the things that truly matter deep in our hearts, moved in a direction that we consider valuable and worthy, clarify what we stand for in life and act accordingly, then our lives become rich and full and meaningful, we experience it powerful sense of vitality.  This is not some fleeting feeling – it is a profound sense of a life well lived.  And although such a life undoubtedly give us many pleasurable feelings, it will also give us, or uncomfortable ones, such as sadness, fear and anger.  This is only to be expected.  If we live a full life, we will feel the full range of human emotions.”
    • “Live with cause and leave results to the great laws of the universe.” Zengetsu – a Zen master.
  • ACT
    • Acceptance – Not resisting the things we cannot change
    • Commitment – Working hard to commit to Values
      • Example : Value – be a caring, compassionate and helpful. Goal – end world poverty
    • Is your personal suffering due to living by goals not values?
  • “The good news is that, although we cannot avoid such pain, we can learn to handle it much better-to make room for it, reduce its impact, and created a life worth living, despite it.  This book will show you how to do it.  There are three parts to this process.  In part one you will learn how you create and get stuck in the happiness trap.  This is an essential first step, so please don’t skip it.  You cannot escape the trap.  If you don’t know how it works.  In part two, rather than trying to avoid or eliminate painful thoughts and feelings, you will learn how to make room for them and experience them in a new way that will reduce their impact, drain away their power, and dramatically decrease their influence over your life.  Finally, in part three, instead of chasing happy thoughts and feelings, you will focus on creating a rich and meaningful life.  This will give you a sense of vitality and fulfillment that is both deeply satisfying and long-lasting.”


Chapter 1 – Fairy Tales –

  • Myth 1: Happiness is a natural state for all human beings.
  • Myth 2: If you’re not happy, you are defective.
  • Myth 3: To create a better life, we must get rid of negative feelings.
  • Myth 4: You should be able to control what you think and feel



This is the way that the world is supposed to be and it is too often not the Utopia we would like.



One of the foundations of our resistance is our belief in the fairy tales.  We know how we would like our life to be and it is not like that.   “And they lived happily ever after.”


Chapter 2 – Vicious Cycles

  • The solution becomes the problem.   Suppose those attempts to get rid of your bad thoughts and feelings are actually making your life worse?  In ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy), we have a saying for this: the solution is the problem. We get angry at ourselves because we got angry and we know that we shouldn’t be angry.
  • Common control strategies.
    • Flight strategies. – Hiding-escaping –Distraction- Zoning out-numbing.
    • Fight strategies – Arguing – Taking charge – Self-bullying
  • These control methods become problematic when:
    • You use them excessively.
    • Use them in situations where they don’t work.
    • There are situations where they might apply, the problem is that we keep applying the same strategy to all situations even if the strategy is counterproductive.
  • If you love someone deeply and you lose that relationship-whether through death, rejection or separation-you will feel pain.  The pain is called grief.  Grief is a normal emotional reaction to any significant loss, whether a loved one, a job, or a limp.  And once that pain is accepted, it will pass on its own good time.


Chapter 3 – Six Core Principles of ACT

  • Mindfulness Skills
    • De-fusion techniques
      • Labeling thoughts and stories.
      • Singing your dramatization or narrative.
      • Takes the energy out of
      • Mindfulness
    • Expansion
      • Making room for unpleasant feelings. (Stopping the resistance)
      • Letting Go / Acceptance / Seeing a bigger picture
    • Connection
      • Being in present moment experience
    • Observing Self
      • Self-awareness – questioning our own behavior
    • Values
      • Leading our lives based on values
    • Committed Action
      • Making sure that our actions are aligned with our values.


Psychological Flexibility = Mindfulness skills + Values + Committed Action

We need to mindful to be conscious of what is happening.

We need core values to determine what is the best thing for us to do.

We need committed action to become the person that we want to become.


Psychological flexibility is the ability to adapt to a situation with awareness, openness, and focus and to take effect if action guided by your values.  It is the way that we can be resilient to life’s problem



  • Takes advantage of advances in psychology to
    • Explain why mindfulness can be so help
    • Identifies some traps of a mindfulness practice
    • Dharma from an American cultural perspective free from Eastern labels. New terminology – Connection – Awareness,  Expansion – letting go
  • Very little emphasis on a daily practice.


Website – BeingMindful.com  – Has an outline of the Happiness trap.  Class Notes tab


Questions – Think of the two ways you are suffering and answer these questions:

  • Is any of your suffering based on unrealistic expectations and fairy tales? For example:  I must be perfect.   Life isn’t the way I want it to be.  Life isn’t fair
  • Do you get frustrated with your monkey mind? Do you think that you are the only one?
  • Are some of the frustrations you face because you live your life by values or goals?