Rebecca North

What’s the Real Key to Happiness?
August 16 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Is Your Self-doubt Real?

As I sat down with my bestie and a happy hour cocktail, she disclosed something: That dude she dumped in college got the boot because she realized he was gaslighting her. Have you ever been the recipient of gaslighting? It involves planting seeds of doubt. Ever have a conversation that turned into a one-sided argument and ended up with you apologizing? You leave blindsided and wonder, wait, what happened?

Gaslighting is challenging to identify, because some of the cleverest people employ this form of psychological manipulation. So how do you cope? Keep a detailed account of your conversations to prevent self-doubt. The best way to extinguish a gaslighter, though? Get the hell away.


There are situations throughout life that leave us confused, devastated, wondering what this big world is all about. France has been called the most depressed country in the world, with 1 in 5 French people admitting they’ve experienced depression. Like gaslighting, depression can creep up on you in subtle ways, including loss of appetite, social isolation, weight gain, apathy, and obsessive thinking. If you’re going over the same scenario in your head on a constant loop, consider seeking help. Don’t be ashamed, girl. Therapy’s cool.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Rebecca North, Author & Professor of Psychology

Rebecca North - or Becca for short - knows all about depression, gaslighting, and everything in between. After all, she’s a professor of psychology, so it’s kind of her thing. She’s spent her life’s work focused on happiness. It’s the thing we all want for ourselves and our loved ones - but how do we get it?

Becca’s been a Texas girl through-and-through. That’s where she earned her master’s degree in public affairs, and how she landed a very cool congressional fellowship. She says that her research and interests center on a question we all ask ourselves at some point: How can my negative experience turn into something good?

If your balloon has been deflated before, you might wonder if positivity could ever come from it. Becca’s still trying to answer this profound query. One of her studies might give a little insight.

She and her co-investigators had 315 undergraduate students write for 20 minutes a day, for four days in a row. The students were asked to write about the biggest problems in their lives. Using linguistic analysis, Becca’s findings confirmed some of the issues facing young adults, and reaffirmed the idea that life stressors differ between men and women.

Another study shows a few key elements that we should all incorporate. Individuals who reacted best to life stress and problems had used positive reappraisal, or the act of reframing stress as more positive. These individuals used more “we” than “I” statements, and certainly don’t employ many “you” statements, the way gaslighters do.

Becca’s quest to figure out the answers to the big question of happiness is just beginning. Before becoming a visiting assistant professor at Southwestern University, Becca held several teaching roles - one of which lasted about three years in Compton, California for Teach for America.

In her book, Your Hidden Superpowers, Becca says we all have a hidden superpower: We can approach tough moments and seemingly impossible situations differently. Take Becca’s lead by remembering that “failure” isn’t a bad word and that, in fact, failing can actually turn out to be a good thing.


Marissa Mayer:

"I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that's how you grow. When there's that moment of 'Wow, I'm not really sure I can do this' and you push through those moments, that's when you have a breakthrough."

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