Want to be happier? Do 'The Work'
Recent study suggests this self-help technique may really help.
In a world obsessed with dollars and cents, it's easy to equate money with happiness. But more and more, scientists are discovering that happiness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder ... Or to be more scientific, the mind.
Meet self-help guru Byron Katie. Her process, which she calls "The Work," leads participants through a series of steps to help them question the beliefs that make them angry, anxious and depressed. According to Katie's website, "The Work" has reached millions.
Many self-help leaders only have anecdotes to back up their techniques. But a recent study run by researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that Katie might be onto something.
Study participants enrolled in a "The Work" seminar. Researchers measured the participants' happiness levels by giving them questionnaires before the seminar started, after the seminar ended, and then six months later.
The scientists found that participants were happier and less depressed after attending the seminar. Not only that, participants remained as happy and sometimes even became happier after six months. The researchers noted that Katie’s methods were similar to cognitive behavioral therapy. Other meditative approaches are also gaining widespread acceptance. For instance, Oprah has long been popularizing "The Secret," a meditative self-help method focused on positive thinking.
Katie started on the path to became a self-help teacher when she realized that her thoughts, not her situation, were responsible for her happiness and sadness. “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn't believe them, I didn't suffer, and that this is true for every human being,” writes Katie on her website. “Freedom is as simple as that.”
She went on to create "The Work," a series of mental steps. The entire method is posted on TheWork.com, which offers a free 24-hour volunteer-run hotline, books and seminars. Following this technique, participants focus on a thought that makes them upset, such as “My husband doesn’t listen to me.” They then examine this thought through four lenses:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Participants consider their thoughts from different angles and settle on a more positive perspective.
"The Work has also helped me understand that I’m not my emotions," Anne Haug, who has been doing "The Work" since 2009, told From The Grapevine. "Something like doing the dishes can be a transcendent experience when I am fully present with it."
If this early study is any indication, "The Work" may really, you know, work.
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