Relating Happiness and Positive Psychology

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates

Volume 7, Number 1

January and the New Year is here. Did your make any New Year Resolutions this year? Have you been keeping them? Have you been trying? Why do people make resolutions and why aren’t they kept?

Often people make resolutions with the hope that a fresh start in the New Year will allow them to better themselves in some way; physically, mentally, spiritually, materially, and socially. And this is a good start with good intentions. In fact, improving oneself is one of the core values of health and happiness.

But like anything else, making change requires effort. We just don’t get better on our own. We have to work on it. And the effort and results we get are worth it. There is nothing wrong with sustained effort although old habits and other activities get in the way of our intentions to lose weight, read more books, go to our religious houses more frequently, and socialize with old friends.

You don’t really need a New Year to make changes. All you have to do is want to make those changes, commit yourself to doing it today, recognize that it takes effort, and then sticking to it when other life’s demands get in the way.

In this January E-Letter, we present information about Happiness and Positive Psychology, our Ask the Doc question relates to adult children who live with their parents, and our email of the month is about putting down the glass. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback.

Practice News

Dr. Joel Kimmel developed and presented a very successful program about father and son relationships, Boys 2 Men, on January 7, 2012 at Temple Beth Emet in Cooper City. He first met with the fathers and discussed their roles as models for their children. He next met with the sons and topics discussed included how to accept “no” and taking responsibility for their behaviors. This program is available to other organizations.

Group Therapy. Dr. Jim Kaikobad continues to runs a support group for teachers. While this group is full, he is starting another group for those who find great frustration in their jobs. If you are interested in more information, please call the office at 954 755-2885 and leave a message for Dr. Kaikobad.

Qualified Supervisor. Dr. Joel Kimmel has been certified by the State of Florida to supervise mental health counselors seeking supervision to meet the licensing requirements in Florida. If you or anyone you know needs a qualified supervisor to meet these requirements, contact Dr. Kimmel for further information.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. We have been certified by the Department of Children and Families, State of Florida, to offer the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, this 4 hour class is state mandated for divorcing parents of involved children. This course is intended to teach parents about the effects divorce has on children, to lessen the impact of difficult transitions, and to improve the ways they communicate with each other and their children. Our course is provided live and in small groups. Please contact our office at 954 755-2885 for further information.

Hoarding: We invite you to visit Denise Champagne’s blog about her experiences working with JZ, a hoarder. Her thoughts and pictures of JZ’s home are posted on the following site: We think you will find it very interesting and you can post your thoughts and comments directly to Denise.

Low cost counseling: Denise Champagne, M.S., is offering low cost counseling as a mental health intern. She is currently seeing patients and is available to take on new patients. This allows those individuals who cannot afford treatment to obtain it and allows her to get the required training. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling but just cannot afford it, please call the office and ask for Denise. All treatment provided by Denise will be reviewed and supervised by Dr. Kimmel.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on the relationship between happiness and positive psychology. Positive psychology is a relatively new field in psychology that complements traditional clinical psychology. Rather than looking at fixing mental health problems through treatment, positive psychology looks to find out what works, what are a person’s signature strengths, and how to use them to develop better states of well being including happiness. It is to make normal life more fulfilling rather than to treat mental illness. Happiness is not just the absence of sadness. Happiness is attained through growth, learning, resilience, and living by a core set of positive values. Some of these values include creativity, love of learning, bravery, integrity, love, kindness towards others, charity, repairing the world, leadership, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Positive psychology was founded by Dr. Martin Seligman. He uses the acronym PERMA to describe people as happiest when they have:

  • Pleasure
  • Engagement in an activity
  • Relationships with others
  • Meaning through a challenge or belongingness
  • Accomplishments and realizing one’s goals.

Tal Ben Shahar refers to actualizers as deep seated values such as education, family, chutzpah, and responsibility to the world, as contributors to accomplishments, happiness, and a general sense of wellbeing.

Happiness just doesn’t come to you. And contrary to popular thought, money doesn’t make you happy. If that was true, why do you know so many wealthy people who are miserable? No, happiness comes from living a life with certain core values and built on one’s personal strengths. These actions will bring you happiness:

  • Strengthen your family
  • Maintain your health and do not give in to addictions
  • Love and have intimate relationships
  • Exercise regularly and get enough sleep
  • Respect your own uniqueness and do not compare to others
  • Set and go after your goals
  • Engage in meaningful work and jobs
  • Participate in a group or organization
  • Be philanthropic and make the world better in some way
  • Practice gratitude and forgiveness
  • Continue to learn and grow

We offer the following information on Relating Happiness and Positive Psychology:

“What is it that makes people happy? The answer is progress. It doesn’t matter how great your life is, if you are not growing, expanding, you are not gonna feel fulfilled. It doesn’t matter at which stage in your life you are right now. Progress is happiness.”— Tal Ben Shahar

What to Know!

  • Happiness is a state of enjoyment described by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy and positive psychology tries to identify what happiness is, what makes a person happy, and how it can be achieved
  • Positive psychology is a discipline built on identifying strengths and using them to sustain and increase levels of well being and happiness
  • Positive psychologists look to find and nurture “what goes right”  to make normal life more fulfilling and not just to treat mental illness
  • Positive psychologists seek to identify states of pleasure, happiness, values, strengths, virtues, talents and teachings that can be promoted by social systems
  • The focus is on promoting mental health and happiness not just treating mental illness
  • The Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook identifies the following 6 virtues as psychological traits that lead to happiness:
    • Wisdom and Knowledge: such as creativity and love of learning
    • Courage: such as bravery and integrity
    • Humanity: such as love and kindness
    • Justice: such as fairness and leadership
    • Temperance: such as forgiveness and humility
    • Transcendence: such as gratitude, hope, and humor
  • In the workplace, happy people get more job interviews, are seen by their supervisors more positively, show greater performance and productivity, and manage others better
  • The founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, uses the acronym PERMA to describe people as the happiest when they have: Pleasure, Engagement (in an activity), Relationships, Meaning (in their lives), and Accomplishments
  • Positive psychology research findings indicate:
  • Money doesn’t buy happiness; spending money on others makes people happier
  • Work is important to happiness especially when it is purposeful and meaningful
  • People can learn to be happier by developing gratitude, forgiveness, and optimism

What to Do!

  • Develop close and meaningful relationships and practice love and intimacy
  • Exercise regularly and get enough sleep
  • Select goals and strive to achieve them
  • Appreciate and communicate regularly with family
  • Do work that you can engage in and find meaningful
  • Focus on the future and let go of the past
  • Join groups and make new friends
  • Do some activity in some way to make the world a better place
  • Be grateful for what you have and help others; be philanthropic
  • Practice moderation and not addictions and compulsions
  • Do not compare yourself to others and what they possess; enjoy what you have
  • Seek professional help if you are unable to increase happiness in your life

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

PA writes: We live in a retirement community. Down the street, our neighbor lives with her husband and her 39 year old son. He doesn’t do much more than work at McDonalds. He seems to have no ambition and they seem okay with it. This is not really a problem for me but is causing a lot of talk on our street. Is this healthy? Can you explain why parents would allow their middle aged son to live at home?

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies….The primary job of parents is to prepare their children to function independently in the world. Children as they grow up are usually taught the knowledge and skills to become self-sufficient citizens. However, this often goes awry. Many adult children have very unreal expectations about their capabilities in the real world. When they are unable to succeed, they often return to the nest for help. However, there is a difference between helping and enabling. Helping allows for support of the person but enabling reinforces a person’s dependency. Many parents fall into the trap of enabling their children who return home, possibly because of their own emotional needs and feelings of emptiness. As their needs are met, they do not push the adult child out of the nest to meet the challenges of independence. While they may think they are rescuing them from their choices and behavioral consequences, their enabling actually weakens their adult children.

Another reason why adult children live with their parents is because they have learned an attitude of entitlement and believe they deserve a good life without having to work for it. Called the “whine factor”, these adult children complain about how much everything costs and that they deserve to live in the lifestyle they are accustomed to. This is often reinforced by parents who provide gas, food, lodging, clothes, laundry services, family trips, etc.

A third reason that adult children live with their parents is to help take care of them, especially if they are aged, and may not really be dependent upon them. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case on your street.

While I can’t say what exactly is going on in that home, like millions of other parents, they may be making it way too comfortable for their son to face the real world. If this is the case, as long as they continue to enable him, they will believe they are rescuing him by solving his problems, providing an entitled lifestyle, and allowing him to avoid dealing with the real world. Only when he can face the consequences of his own choices and actions, he will grow to become independent. The parents must set boundaries and expectations for their son in order for him to face the real world.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Dave W. for sending us the following email:


The Professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students “How much do you think this glass weighs?”

’50 gms!’.. ’100 gms!’.. ’125 gms’ …the students answered.

“I really don’t know unless I weigh it,” said the professor, “but my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?”

‘Nothing’ …the students said.

‘Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?’ the professor asked.

‘Your arm would begin to ache’ said one of the students.

“You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?”

“Your arm could go numb; you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to the hospital for sure!” …ventured another student and all the students laughed.

“Good. But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?” asked the professor.

‘No’, was the answer.

“Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress?

The students were puzzled.

“What should I do now to come out of pain?” asked professor again.

“Put the glass down!” said one of the students

“Exactly!” said the professor.

Life’s problems are something like this.

Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem OK. Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache. Hold it even longer and they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything.

It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, but even more important is to ‘PUT THEM DOWN’ at the end of every day before you go to sleep…

That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh and strong and can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way!

So, when you start your day today, remember to ‘PUT THE GLASS DOWN TODAY…

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

Till February…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.