Quality of Life Therapy (QOLT) has been used as a positive psychology intervention to promote happiness and wellbeing and has also been shown to be an effective treatment for depression*#. One of the core techniques of QOLT that you can use to boost your life satisfaction and thereby increase your happiness is the CASIO model. The five strategies in this model target satisfaction in important areas in one’s life, with satisfaction defined as one’s subjective evaluation of the degree to which one’s most important needs, goals, and wishes have been fulfilled. The acronym CASIO stands for:
- Objective Circumstances of an area in life
- Attitude or perception of an area
- Standards of fulfilment for an area
- Importance placed on an area for one’s overall happiness
- Satisfaction one experiences in Other areas not of immediate concern
To apply this technique, first identify areas of your life you are unhappy with and want to change and then use the five strategies below to enhance happiness in those areas of your life.
1. Change your circumstances
This involves changing the objective circumstances of a particular area in your life. Circumstances include the specific characteristics of an area. For example, if work is an area that you want to focus on, then circumstances in that area include pay, job security, surroundings, relationships with co-workers, availability of resources, supervision, etc.
If you are unsatisfied with one or more areas of life, then the first strategy would be to brainstorm solutions to change your circumstances in those areas, which are amenable to change. For example, if relationship is an area of concern, then seeking couples counselling would be something to consider.
2. Change your attitude
Sometimes the circumstances may not lend themselves to change or the change is prolonged. In such situations, use the second strategy of changing your attitude about the situation in order to correct any underlying irrational pessimistic thinking. Two questions are helpful in this context:
- “What is really happening here?” This question will help you assess if a situation is really as bad as you are making it to be, i.e., are you misperceiving a situation.
- “What does it mean to me?” This question will help you assess if you are misinterpreting the implications of a situation for your well-being.
While the first strategy of changing one’s circumstances focuses on changing the objective reality, this strategy focuses on changing the subjective reality. One’s perception about a situation may not be based on facts and, therefore, be inaccurate. For example, if your co-worker doesn’t respond to you greeting them “Good Morning,” then does this really mean that they are ignoring you on purpose? Sometimes your situation may be supported by facts, but your perception of the consequences may be irrational. For example, if you had a recent break-up, then it doesn’t mean that you will be a failure in all your relationships and are unlovable.
3. Change your goals and standards
You may have to reset your standards up or down based on a situation. For example, if individuals face irreversible serious medical problems, then it would help lowering expectations for fulfilment in key areas of their life to maintain their satisfaction with life. Regarding goals, the key idea is to set realistic, but challenging goals for each area of life that you care about.
Focusing on process goals or standards that are within your control rather than outcome goals or standards will help you soften your tough goals and standards. It will also make the journey toward your goals more fulfilling. Resetting one’s goals and standards is particularly helpful in reducing depression as people prone to depression are often plagued with impossibly high standards, no matter what the circumstances are in their life.
4. Change your priorities or what is important
This strategy involves re-evaluating your priorities and emphasizing those areas of your life that you have control over and de-emphasizing those areas of your life that you cannot do much about. For example, if you have chronic medical conditions, then it may be helpful to emphasize other areas such as relationships or work. This, however, doesn’t mean that you ignore your health; rather the focus is on shifting priorities.
5. Boost satisfaction in other areas
If you put all your emotional eggs in one basket and try to derive happiness from one particular area of your life and something goes wrong with this area, then you are likely to feel depressed. To maximize your happiness, spread your need for fulfilment across all the areas of your life, even ones that are not of immediate concern or that you did not consider before.
*Frisch, M. B. (2006). Quality of life therapy. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
#Grant, G. M., Salcedo, V., Hynan, L. S., Frisch, M. B., & Puster, K. (1995). Effectiveness of quality of life therapy for depression. Psychological Reports, 76, 1203-1208.