Happiness is a decision

Happiness, to many people, is often related to wanting a different reality in the future.  Some examples include better finances, improved relationships, more travel, a newer car, or being more confident. What this suggests is that we wait for conditions to change before we will be happy.

The problem with this thinking is that we begin to not appreciate the good we have in our lives. Instead of being grateful, we end up chasing something that we don't have. We don't appreciate the here and now, the relationships that we have, the successes we have achieved, or the beauty that exists around us. This mindset hinders our happiness.

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Focus on the positive - a neuroscientific approach

Studies show that positive emotions (and, by extension, happiness) benefit people more than promoting welfare. The cultivation of positive emotions, such as joy, optimism, and hope, promotes an expansive, tolerant and creative mindset. This leaves us open to new ideas and experiences.

Neuroscience and psychology consider this essential to improving our performance, achieving our goals, and increasing our happiness. It's the difference between our brains working with us or sabotaging us. In this view, when our mind works in a positive way, the result is that we are in control of our lives, using it in a beneficial way.

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Lack of mental health services in South Africa

There is an increasing demand for psychological care in South Africa. It is estimated that one in six people in South Africa suffer from depression or anxiety. This does not include more serious psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia. Conversely, there are only 1,12 psychiatrists, 1,28 psychologists and 1,6 social workers per 400,000 people in South Africa. And, of the 100,000 beds in public hospitals, only 18 are allocated to patients with mental health problems.

To say that this is a national crisis would be an understatement.

South Africa is a country where poverty is a real problem, and many people in the country live below the poverty line. Of the mental health professionals and services available in the country, most...

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Having depression doesn't make you a murderer

Germanwings flight 9252 and Andreas Lubitz have drawn attention to depression and its possible link to murder-suicides. This has become a controversial topic amongst psychologists, with many against this somewhat unfounded assumption.

So is there sufficient data to support the claim that depression triggers murder thoughts and actions?

Insufficient research has been conducted on the correlation between depression and murder-suicides. Some of the stats indicate that of the 19 million Americans who have chronic depression, only between 0.1% - 0.3% commit murder-suicides, with this rate remaining fairly stable. Other research suggests 2% - 5%. And, for those who do commit murder-suicides, depression alone cannot explain it, with complex and multiple factors contributing towards their actions. These include what their relationship was to the victim or victims, any past or current substance abuse, revenge fantasies, criminal history, and bullying, to name some examples.

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The psychological impact of our words

Words. We use them everyday. They allow us to express our thoughts, have a conversation with our friends, and even write a letter to someone. But words have a another significant purpose. And they relate to our emotions.

The words that we use have a psychological effect on how we feel and behave. A lot of research into how we process our words backs this up. The sum of this research shows that our brains can distinguish both our positive and negative language from other forms of our vocabulary. which it then uses to give meaning to our emotions, how we feel, the quality of our relationships, and our overall sense of self. As Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman suggest, "a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress."

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