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Happiness Book Club 2: Be kind to yourself

Vanessa King, positive psychology expert at Action for Happiness recommends a book every month to improve our happiness levels

by Psychologies

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Research shows that self-compassion is associated with greater happiness, optimism, curiosity, resilience, as well as reducing depression and anxiety.

Why? Self-compassion allows ourselves to be kind when suffering with perceived inadequacy, it also helps give us a sense of common humanity, recognising that pain and failure are unavoidable aspects of life for all humans.

Plus most of all it gives a balanced awareness of our emotions – the ability to face (rather than avoid) painful thoughts and feelings, but without exaggeration, drama or self-pity.

This month in the Happiness Book Club, I recommend we all read Self-compassion – Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind (William Morrow, £14.99) by Kristin Neff. A leading psychologist in the study of self-compassion, she says that if we think we’re the only person to not be good at something, it makes us feel inadequate and can lead to feelings of shame, which causes us to cut ourselves off from others.

In contrast, if we realise this is something everyone feels at times in their lives, it gives us a sense of being connected to others and enables us to have the same concern towards ourselves as we do for those close to us.

3 Questions to discuss at your book club this month:

1. If a friend is struggling with a challenge, how do you treat them?

2. If you are struggling with a challenge, how do you treat yourself?

3. Did you notice a difference, if so, why? 

Create your own Happiness Book Club at psychologies.co.uk/get-your-happiness-club-started

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Photograph: Corbis

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