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SALT LAKE CITY — Many times on a Friday in our newsroom meetings, somebody says we need to wrap up the week with a happy story. Well, we found one, literally.
Frank Clayton is a professional counselor in Salt Lake who teaches a class called "Happiness 101."
"One thing that I do, that I pound on in the class, is everything is a choice. We can always choose our attitude, no matter what's going on," Clayton said.
Clayton's office is full of books about the subject; and for the last couple of years, he's taught a class about it — a class he's expanded online as well.
But being happy, and defining it, isn't easy.
"Happiness is so subjective, it's very, very difficult (to define)," Clayton said. "I mean, how can I tell you, 'Oh, if you just do this, this is what will make you happy'?"
Clayton says one way to approach a happier state of mind is to look for the silver lining. He took a few current events as examples.
We have a big snowstorm coming in this weekend. Some people might dread the thought, but Clayton takes a different approach.
"One of the things I'm grateful for is the timing. It's coming in on a Friday night, allowing us to stay inside tomorrow and be warm and cozy," he said.
More from Frank:
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Skiers, of course, will be happy at the improved snow conditions once the storm moves out.
Professional basketball lovers are no doubt very unhappy with the continued delay of the start of the NBA season. For some, no season is terrible. But for others, Clayton says, "Maybe all the basketball widows in the valley are ecstatic: 'Woo-hoo! I get my husband this year! This is fantastic!'"
We've always heard that laughter is contagious. Clayton says happiness acts in a similar way, saying it spreads like "virus."
And Clayton is more than happy to infect the state of Utah. "When you become happier, it doesn't just affect you, it affects your friends, and your friends' friends, and your friends' friends' friends," he said. "Scientifically, they've been able to prove that it has that big of an impact."
In his 8-week long "Happiness 101" classes, students are tested as to their level of happiness at the beginning. They are then tested again at the end. Attendees will also participate in various exercises, watch videos and read various books the subject.
Clayton says he's always been fascinated by the subject, since it varies so much from person to person. And he's also concerned about the high rates of suicide in Utah, conducting online webinars to extend his reach.
"So, I figure for every single person that I am helping, I'm not just helping that person, I'm helping to spread a virus of happiness," Clayton said. "And with the high suicide rate in this state, we need to do something."
CLICK HERE for more information on the Happiness 101 class.