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What makes you happy?

Have you ever heard the term ‘horizontal thinking’? It’s relatively new to me too. I first came across this term in an article by Elizabeth Gilbert, an author I love. It refers to the spiral thinking that goes on in our heads when lying in bed, as we go over aspects of life which we never imagined we’d experience, or any other thoughts, fears and/or mental states we find ourselves in.

I am quite a culprit of this horizontal thinking business. I actually think I improved the technique since I can even do it vertically! Luckily, I also devised a plan to pull myself out of such states and, for this, I am thankful for so much – to the education I was privileged to receive and which I continue to pursue; to the families and people I work with, who believe that change can happen and therefore commit to therapy; and to all my family and friends, particularly my mom who always taught me to wake up and dress up (for those who know me…in woollies and boots) every day, no matter what you’re asked by life to face.

One of the most important lessons I learnt when studying family therapy is “privilege”. Google defines privilege as an advantage not enjoyed by everyone. MacIntosh (1988) defined it as a benefit or advantage given to social groups because of their dominant or normative ethnic location, not by work or merit. But learning about privilege is not enough. The hard work comes when you apply it to yourself and your life – identifying in what ways you are privileged, hence knowing when to remain humble and, in areas where you’re not privileged, not allowing life’s struggles to transform you into someone who you don’t want to be.

Every day is an invitation for self-reflection, an invitation to tap into the resources we have (and we all do have resources) to make those changes in our life that lead to growth and, very importantly, to look at our relationships and invest wisely in meaningful ones. Nowadays, happiness is the subject of a lot of popular discourse. For instance, ‘happiness is found within’, which we hear quite a lot, as if we just need to switch on an internal switch in order to feel happy.

After having this conversation with my thesis supervisor, Dr Charlie Azzopardi, I decided to run this question by the families and individuals I work with:

“What makes you happy?”, I asked.

I’m not going to say I was surprised, because I wasn’t, but I was definitely delighted with the responses I received. Hearing responses such as – ‘Happiness is seeing my children/partner, parents/siblings/friends happy’, or responses which indicate that they’re surrounded by relationships that are alive, not without struggles, but that they’re experiencing life with significant people by their side.

Obviously, my mini research is far from being evidence-based, or representative of any population. Still, however, I invite you to do some research of your own, starting by asking yourself: “What makes me happy?” See what comes up and, if you like to make new year’s resolutions, or resolutions at any time of the year, keep that response in mind.

Charlene Borg

About Charlene Borg

Charlene works with individuals, couples and families, with a special interest in relationships, this being manifested with one’s own self, romantic connections and family relationships. Her belief is that the relationships a person is surrounded by, are a powerful indicator of positive life outcomes. With this in mind, she aims at building significant therapeutic relationships with the people she works with. Charlene has over 20 years experience working with families of disabled individuals, including organising support groups and workshops in the field.

TherapyPacks Terms and Conditions

1. TherapyPacks come in bundles of 5 or 10 sessions. Prices of bundles:

  • 5 sessions – €270 – must be utilised within 3 months from date of purchase
  • 10 sessions – €520 – must be utilised within 6 months from date of purchase

2. Bundles are not transferable. This means they cannot be used by, or gifted to, anyone else but the person whose name is listed as the TherapyPacks bundle holder.

3. Bundles which are purchased for Couples Therapy and Family Therapy can only be used by members of the couple or family with one therapist. If members of a couple or family decide to take up individual therapy with another therapist, the bundle will only apply to sessions with the therapist originally referred and cannot be also used for the individual sessions with another therapist. Exceptions will be made if the original therapist is unable to see the client or family and the couple or family are referred to another therapist. After referral, the same conditions will apply.

4. Bundles are valid for a limited time period, as listed above. This means that the bundles will expire once the respective time period has elapsed. Any sessions not utilised within this period will be lost. This means that a refund will not be given for unused sessions. Start date commences on date of purchase of bundles.

5. Bundles are only valid for full price sessions (charged at €60) and not for sessions with trainee psychotherapists, reports or assessments.

6. Full payment needs to be made on purchase, via bank transfer, cash or credit card.

7. Management reserves the right to terminate or suspend the use of the bundles. Reasons for such are at the discretion of the clinic.

8. Refunds or extensions of time period within which bundles may be used is at the discretion of management and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

9. Management reserves the right to modify or replace the terms and conditions. In such circumstances, clients will be given adequate notice and time to adhere to such.

10. The clinic’s cancellation policy is applicable also to bundles. Late cancellations or no shows will result in the forfeit of a session within the bundle allocation.

11. Responsibility for ensuring timely use of session bundles remains that of the TherapyPacks bundle holder or, in the case of a minor, their carer/legal guardian.