Fifty years of research on depression may have done a
disservice to people aiming to move out of the dumps and into a happier state of
mind. Brendon Burchard, a New York Times bestselling author and one of the most
followed personal development coaches in the world, recently called out the
history of depression studies at his High
Performance Academy in San Diego, California.
Burchard notes the research, while valid and reliable by
scientific standards of operation, focused on norms established by studying college
students. Therefore, the base group, he contends, is not a sound one for
understanding ‘high performance’ and what leads people to be happy and
fulfilled (Burchard, 2016). To truly gain
insight on joy and happiness, Burchard investigates the outliers, those who are
‘abnormal’ and perform at an advanced level outside the average.
Traditional Psychology Examine What is Wrong Rather Than What is Right
Mental illness and other psychological difficulties were the
focus of traditional psychology. Now, in contrast, there exists a strong and
relatively new movement to examine Positive Psychology, or the study of healthy
mental states such as happiness, purpose, and depth of character.
About ten years ago Martin Seligman, the father of Positive
Psychology, began putting a voice to changing what psychology is known for:
rather than the disease model and studying what’s wrong with people, he
fostered exploring what’s right and what makes life worth living (Talk, 2004).
Seligman does not deny the good that came from traditional
psychology and the disease model. The research yielded better classifications, treatment,
and according to Seligman helping ‘miserable people be less miserable’ (Talk, 2004).
What Seligman and his team deemed not so good about the experiments
was the failure to examine and comprehend what worked well about human strength
and depth of resolve. He said psychologists ‘forgot about improving normal
lives and a mission to make relatively untroubled people happier, more
fulfilled, and more productive’ (Talk, 2004).
Positive Psychology Paving the Way to High Performance
From the Positive Psychology movement along with research in
neuroscience, physiology, productivity, and persuasion, Burchard created High Performance Academy, a
well-attended four-day seminar on achieving and sustaining success. ‘If you
can’t master your mind, your body, your ability to get things done, and your
ability to influence others to help you on your journey, then you’re stuck
forever in mediocrity. But master those things, and life changes forever and
high achievement is yours’ (Burchard, Brendon.com, 2016).
Sustained happiness is possible according to the positive
guru who recently trained Oprah Winfrey’s staff on his high performance
formula. Burchard believes normal people don’t have depression, they generate
depression. And, he espouses this shift from depression to happiness is tied
specifically to how people view the three main time periods in life: past,
present, and future.
Too often, people decide their current happiness based on
what occurred in days gone by. People form judgements on current events after
filtering them through the past which is something they have no control over
changing. Burchard believes people limit themselves when their ‘self talk’
ruminates on the past. Maturity, he reveals, means letting go, accepting what
happened, finding the marks of satisfaction, and creating fondness and
gratitude for what the past contained.
Getting Beyond Self
In a recent article in Psychology
Today, Clinical Psychologist, Director of the American Institute for
Cognitive Therapy and author of The Worry
Cure, Robert Leahy, Ph.D. says ‘awe is the opposite of rumination; it
clears away inner turmoil with a wave of outer immensity’ (Flora, 2016).
Being in awe initiates a shift from ‘it’s all about me’ to ‘it’s not about me’.
The article describes how nature and the outdoors produces this shift. Awe can
be found in the birth of a child or in a beautiful sunset with extraordinary color.
Leahy also indicates experiences of appreciation and
gratitude are found in spiritual dwellings of worship where prayer, music, and
even architecture combine to move people outside of self (Flora, 2016). Similarly, Daniel
Smith, author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of
Anxiety, describes how he relieved himself of ‘morbid self-involvement’ by
seeking spiritual encounters during a difficult time by resting under a tree
each day for months near his New York City apartment (Smith, 2012).
Appropriate Expressions of Self
Expressing self well hallmarks Burchard’s view of happiness
in the present moment. Disclosing dreams and frustrations and speaking openly
reflects a life that works, he says. Burchard encourages his attendees to stop
being so scared to demonstrate more caring. It’s losing self in a loved one’s
eyes and expanding the sense of conscious connection. The author charges his
audience to be givers rather than takers who intentionally bring delight to
others (Burchard, Happiness, 2016).
Happiness in the future does connect to the present
according to Burchard. Most people can look forward to the future because of
the positive regard they have for today. When people face victory as well as
tragedy with a sound approach, the future equates to the same attitude of
optimism rather than depression.
Finally, Burchard insists future happiness also means having
a ‘role model’ mindset in the present. At the end of life, it is too late to
think about leaving a legacy. Therefore, adopting the objective to be a living
example yields a future happiness built by being consciously focused in the
here and now (Burchard, Happiness, 2016).
Burchard, B. (2016, March 13). Brendon.com.
Retrieved from www.brendon.com: www.brendon.com
Burchard, B. (2016). Happiness. High Performance
Academy. San Diego: Brendon Burchard.
Flora, C. (2016, March/April). It's not about you:
the real antidote to negative thinking is the wondrous immensity of the
external world. Psychology Today, pp. 48-56.
Smith, D. (2012). Monkey Mind: A memoir of
anxiety. New York City: Simon & Schuster.
Talk, T. (2004). Martin Seligman: The new era of
positive psychology [Recorded by M. Seligman]