Happiness Is Not The Goal: Resiliency Is



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I'm not happy, I'm cheerful. A happy woman has no cares at all. A
cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them. 
~Beverly Sills

Years ago I told a patient that my goal for her was not that she be happy.

She looked at me as if I had grown antlers all of a sudden. I had not gone nuts. She was ready to understand that the hallmark of mental health isn't happiness. It's resiliency; that quality that gives us the confidence that we can weather whatever life throws at us and be OK.

Would I be a good therapist if I said our goal in therapy was to be happy every day? No, it would be totally irresponsible. Do not trust anyone who guarantees you forever happiness or a sure win in the lottery. In both situations the odds just aren't with you.

What we can do in therapy is provide the tools to build and sustain a resilient self-esteem, one that allows flexibility and strength of spirit. Happiness is the great, big, fat cherry on top that we get to savor when we're in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. Resiliency is for all seasons.

Photo courtesy of Alight

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