Psychologists’ new book has tips on how to unlock happiness


By Claire Harlin

It’s not uncommon for people to experience emotions from everyday events, but when those emotions aren’t resolved, they can greatly shape a person’s beliefs and behavior for life.

That’s much of the premise behind Peter Lambrou’s new book “Code to Joy,” which he co-wrote with George Pratt. Both Lambrou and Pratt hold PhDs and are clinical psychologists in practice at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.

Lambrou and Pratt have developed an approach to being content that seeks to recode the “blocking beliefs” that often stand between people and total happiness.

“Sometimes the subconscious mind can rule the conscious mind,” said Lambrou, who specializes in hypnotherapy and psychotherapy for anxiety, phobias and weight loss.

Lambrou said he studied journalism as an undergraduate, and then entered the field of psychology full-force, already having co-authored a book on self-hypnosis before deciding to get a degree in the field and practice clinically.

The authorship opportunity arose in 1982 when Lambrou attended a self-hypnosis workshop by psychologist Brian Mogul Alman, who contracted him to write the book. It focused heavily on the self-hypnosis process and Lambrou’s own path to discovering it. “Self-Hypnosis: The Complete Manual For Health and Self-Change,” has sold more than 250,000 copies over the years.

Lambrou said the first book was “pivotal,” and he has since continued writing. He has authored another book on acupressure titled, “Instant Emotional Healing.”

His new book, “Code to Joy,” is his third release. The “code” in the title refers to the thoughts and beliefs installed in our bodies that we must sometimes change.

“One must take a life-limiting belief and flip it around so that it reflects the truth,” said Lambrou. “Sometimes that comes in the form of an affirmation.”

Many of the instilled beliefs that keep us from being happy are formed by “micro-traumas” that occur in our childhoods, Lambrou said.

“A person in early times of life doesn’t always have the context to understand certain traumatic experiences like an adult would,” he said. “As adults, it’s too late to change what has been imprinted; in our early years, we get imprinted with no filter.”

These micro-traumas are not always completely tragic, but they are impressionable. He shared the example of a patient who used to help her aunt with cleaning, and then her aunt gave her a quarter. Her mother, however, criticized her for taking money from family, and that patient later in life has trouble in business because she finds it difficult to take money from others, and she views her clients as family.

Lambrou said he has also seen feelings of abandonment result from custody battles that took place in childhood, or feelings of perfectionism and inadequacy result from people who grew up in strict environments. In the book, Lambrou provides an extensive list of possible scenarios; all gathered from patients’ experiences he has observed during his decades of clinical practice.

“Micro-traumas are like small, little cuts that occur and seem insignificant, but they can really shape a person’s beliefs of themselves later on,” Lambrou said.

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