It’s not just big choices that can radically change our lives—sometimes it’s the small ones. Activating Happiness offers powerful, evidence-based strategies to help you conquer low motivation, nix negative moods, and defeat depression by actively making positive choices in small, everyday moments.
If you have depression or just suffer from low mood and lack of motivation, you know that your life isn’t going to change with one grand, sweeping gesture. But you can make important decisions every day—whether it’s getting off the couch and going for a walk, signing up for a course in pottery or screenwriting, or just setting aside some time to meet and chat with a good friend over coffee. These little things won’t change your life all at once. But over time, they will shape the way you live and see the world and keep you on a path to wellness.
In Activating Happiness, you’ll find solid strategies based in behavioral activation and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help you break the cycle of avoidance, guilt, shame, and hopelessness that can take hold when you’re feeling your lowest. Using this guide, you’ll find little, doable ways to “show up” to your life, get the ball rolling, and start really feeling better, instead of just reassuring others. You’ll learn to set healthy goals for your body like eating and sleeping well, as well as healthy goals for your mind. Most importantly, you’ll discover how to view your life through the lens of your own deepest values, which will spark a commitment to real, lasting change.
The best thing about change is that you can start anywhere. By building a life—moment by moment—of rewarding behaviors that correspond to your values, you have the recipe for getting and staying well at your fingertips. This book will guide your way.
"Rachel Hershenberg writes with authority and compassion as she presents the best techniques for moving toward a life we love. For years I've been writing about these principles and using them in my clinical practice, and still I learned a tremendous amount from Activating Happiness about the best ways to help people get unstuck. I also benefited personally from this powerful and practical book, as countless readers no doubt will, too."
--Seth J. Gillihan, PhD, author of Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks
"In her delightfully written and easy-to-read book, Activating Happiness, Rachel Hershenberg, a talented psychotherapist and depression researcher, offers five basic principles for counteracting low motivation, depression, or feeling stuck. The book is rich with strategies and techniques that people will find enormously doable, helpful, and effective when they feel depressed or want to prevent a downward depressive spiral. Readers of the book will quickly appreciate Hershenberg's encouragement to engage in activities that truly matter, savor the experiences, and use them to create the life one desires to lead. By following the evidence-based yet very practical recommendations and using the structured activities offered in the book, people will find themselves living a more value-driven, meaningful, productive, and enjoyable life."
--Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, professor and vice chair in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and past president (2014) of the American Psychological Association
"Rachel Hershenberg has decoded the latest science to uncover a secret that's easy to miss: to beat depression, it's not enough just to control negative emotions--you have to instill positive emotions as well. In Activating Happiness, Hershenberg walks you through several simple and doable strategies that just may be the step you've been missing in your battle with depression, low motivation, apathy, or other negative mood states. Take her advice to heart; your emotions will thank you for it."
--David F. Tolin, PhD, ABPP, author of Face Your Fears and Doing CBT
"In Activating Happiness, Rachel Hershenberg sets a new standard for self-help books. Writing in a style that is both highly informative and cleverly engaging, Hershenberg is able to demystify the behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal processes that can 'lock' people into depressive states, and provide a step-wise guide to a way out of the darkness. This is psychoeducation at its best!"
--Michael Thase, MD, professor of psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and physician at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center
"In Activating Happiness, Hershenberg provides a treasure trove of simple tips and strategies, along with examples and exercises for enhancing well-being that are based on heavily researched, cutting-edge scientific principles. The chapters are thoughtfully sequenced to teach practical skills, one step at a time, which can then be integrated together to address some of the most common issues that many of us struggle with at various points in our lives. A great resource--for both mental health providers' self-help resource libraries and for the providers themselves!"
--Simon A. Rego, PsyD, ABPP, chief psychologist and associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York, NY