Dr Tim Sharp is Australia's very own 'Dr Happy', at the
forefront of positive psychology movement and founder of the
Happiness Institute. He developed the curiously-named "Happiness
Diet", which argues that "rather than waiting until you succeed to
feel good, it's far more effective to feel good first and
turbo-charge your chances of success". The Happiness Diet turns on
its head what Dr Sharp refers to as "the tyranny of when"… I'll be
happy when I lose weight.
Your "eureka moment"?
The epiphany that triggered my move into positive psychology and
the establishment of The Happiness Institute occurred when, working
as a clinical psychologist (which
is my background), I was in session with a client, preparing her
for discharge and I realised that although she was no longer
"depressed" she wasn't really "happy"! I couldn't help but think I
wasn't doing enough for my clients to really help them live their
best possible lives.
What's your take on happiness?
Real happiness is much more than just the absence of depression
or distress; it includes, not surprisingly, minimising and/or
managing negative emotions such as depression and anxiety (we can
never totally eliminate these) but it also, importantly, includes
the promotion and fostering of positive emotions such as happiness
and joy, satisfaction and pride, calm and contentment. All of these
are important in different ways and so it's important to value the
full range of positive emotions (not just happiness). Why are
positive emotions important? Because the research clearly shows
that happy people are healthier, have better quality relationships
and they perform better in every area of life!
Happiness is as much aboutdoing goodas feeling good: how
do you "pay it forward"?
By understanding the difference between real and meaningful
happiness… and selfishness. The happiest people know that other
people matter (and good quality relationships) are vitally
important for health and wellbeing. Accordingly, they devote time
to caring for the important people in their lives because they know
that what's good for others is, more often than not, good for them.
We need to break down the false
dichotomy between selfishness and selflessness; rather, it's
more helpful to think of the two constructs as mutually compatible
and reinforcing. Accordingly, paying it forward is ultimately, a
way of paying oneself!
What are some of the major causes of
They are many and varied, but the top few would probably be
(problems with or stresses and strains associated with) finances,
relationships, work and health. The good news, however, is that all
of these can be resolved with conscious and considered action,
and/or (in some cases) professional assistance.
Best advice you've ever been given?
Oh, there's been so much! But if I had to choose just one thing
it'd probably be: there is nothing either good or bad except
thinking makes it so. Our attitude determines so much: get it right
and the rest will follow.
[This article was originally published in Diabetes Queensland iQ