074: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#1: Do Something Rewarding

Note: I am republishing this because I published it in the wrong category last time. You have likely already received it, and if so, ignore this version, as it is the same. I apologize for my error! david

Use the Pleasure-Predicting Sheet!

This will be the first of Feeling Good Podcasts on five specific things you can do to boost your happiness. The topics will include:

  1. Use the Pleasure Predicting Sheet (today’s program)
  2. Do Something You’ve been Putting Off: the Anti-Procrastination Sheet
  3. Confront a Fear
  4. Boost Your Self-Esteem
  5. Resolve a Conflict with a Friend

David begins with a brief discussion of the philosophy of happiness, including the ancient Buddhist idea that everything in the universe is transitory and constantly changing, including our positive and negative moods, so the idea that you will be hopelessly depressed forever, or endless happy, are both illusions. Happiness, or pleasure, are transitory, and can only be achieved at specific moments. However, you can significantly increase the number and duration of the happy periods in your life.

David briefly discusses research evidence that simply doing potentially satisfying and rewarding activities, whether or not you’re “in the mood,” can reduce depression and enhance feelings of happiness and joy in daily living. This simple treatment method, called “Behavior Therapy,” was pioneered by Dr. Peter Lewinsohn, from the Oregon Research Institute, and has been shown to have significant anti-depressant effects.

One way of doing this is with David’s famous “Pleasure-Predicting Sheet.” It’s pretty simple to use. As you can see from the link, it is a sheet with four vertical columns. In the first column, you schedule activities with the potential for pleasure, learning, personal growth, or helping others. You can include activities that are not overly time consuming or burdensome. In the second column, record who you plan to do each activity with. If you do the activity alone, put “self” in the second column, since you’re never truly alone. You’re always with your “self.”

In the third column, predict how satisfying or rewarding the activity will be, on a scale from 0% (not at all satisfying) to 100% (tremendously satisfying.) Make sure you complete this column before you do the activity! And make sure you do it on paper, and not just in your head!

Once you’ve completed each activity, indicate how satisfying and rewarding it turned out to be on the same scale, from 0% to 100%. That’s all there is to it!

Then you can compare the last two columns (the predicted and actual satisfaction). Sometimes, depressed individuals think that things they used to enjoy will be boring or unrewarding, so they give up on things, fail to answer the phone, and mope around at home in a state of hopelessness and self-pity. Of course, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and a vicious cycle, because when you stop doing things, you will probably become more depressed, and then you’ll be even more likely to give up doing things for pleasure. In contrast, when you do things, you may discover that many activities are more rewarding than you anticipated.

You can also compare the satisfaction you experience when doing things by yourself versus the activities you do with others. Many depressed people with the Love Addiction believe they cannot be happy when they’re alone, thinking they must be loved to feel truly happy and fulfilled. David describes a woman who tested this belief, and made an unexpected discovery, after her husband rejected her for another woman. You can see her Pleasure Predicting Sheet if you click here.

Finally, David gives an example of how a depressed, perfectionistic medical professor made another unexpected discovery with a modified version of the Pleasure-Predicting Sheet.

The Pleasure-Predicting Sheet is one of only 50 to 100 methods that David has learned or created for defeating depression and anxiety. He doesn’t see it as a complete treatment for depression, but it usually has some nice mood-elevating effects. Fabrice and I encourage you to try it this week, so you can let us know how it works for you!

Next week, we’ll have another cool tool you can use to boost your happiness by overcoming procrastination!

Fabrice and I hope you enjoy our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!


At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.



7 thoughts on “074: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#1: Do Something Rewarding

  1. When I was writing down my activities I kept thinking of more fun things to do and this made it even more enjoyable. And most of the things I chose for activities were relatively simple and fun: Crossword puzzle, cook dinner, fix truck battery, etc.

  2. Hi David,

    I loved the podcast. You always get me to think philosophically. Five days of happiness per week sounds like a good goal or metric. It definitely is something to strive for and certainly relieves the disappointment that may come from unrealistically striving to be happy all of the time. I also like the concept of scheduling times to do fun things. As I face the challenges of caring for an elderly mother and maintaining her rental property while working a full time job, I will be sure to schedule enjoyable, life affirming activities.

    At the risk of making a “should” statement, I often wonder if I actively count all of my blessings (Health, shelter, freedom, overcoming so many phobias and anxiety, seeing dear friends overcome health problems and addictions), if I COULD be more passionate about life. I call this the “George Bailey” or “Scrooge” effect. They didn’t realize how wonderful life really was until they almost lost it. I have to find an exercise to focus on the great things, without denying the challenges. Do you think the daily mood log is appropriate in that regard?


    • Thanks, Rob, I really agree with you. We sometimes just don’t notice what is wonderful about life. One thing that helped me was having Obie. Sometimes when I was on a trip I would say to myself, “Remember how much Obie loves it when you go for a walk with him outside.” Then, when I’d come home from the trip, I would make sure I took some walks with Obie. They were always kind of like being in heaven. When we lost him, I was sad, and I’m still grieving his loss, and always will–but I have no regrets at all, just fond memories of my best friend, and how wonderful it was to just hang out with a (formerly) feral cat. David

  3. Thanks David. I love cats and its amazing that you could get your kitty to go on walks with you! Obie must have been one in a million, but I have to give a lot of credit to the G.O.A.T. for transforming a wounded, scared, feral cat into a companion that goes on walks with his owner.

  4. Your broadcast and your books dear Dr. Burne profide me with such unique tools in order to help others as a life coach and to view depression from different prospective .
    I feel very bkess because I start every morning with the prayer that only couple years ago start to make sense for me : thanks God that I can see, smell, … work, have love and be loved, have a family,…
    As soon I stop to take anything for granted , I start to appreciate and enjoy what I am having .
    My other tool to be happy is as soon I am not in a good mood – learn to pay attention to my thoughts ( my biggest achievement ) I will go to dance ever at work for 30-40 sec and this change my mood right away.
    Thanks a lot for your knowledge and inspiration
    Good luck
    Let God bless you with your family

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