Tag Archive: depression

How can I know what I want from life or why am I alive?

Advice about life and goals

I’m 23 yo guy. I just graduated with a major I don’t like (architecture), I got refused in an interview yesterday for a teaching job. even my love for my family is fading, they’re great, I am just not capable of loving. I have no life goal, I don’t know what I love in life. I feel like a dead man!

Dr. Joy’s Advice:

 

Please consult your doctor to check for depression.

Most people don’t have a life goal, especially not at 23. If they do, it usually changes many times over the course of their life. You’re holding yourself to a high standard and no one else is doing that (unless you have a parent who likes to find problems with you and fix them). If that is the problem being found, you’ve got a lot more going right than many 23-year-olds.

You’ve got a degree under your best. Okay, so you’ve decided you don’t like what you studied but the thing is many jobs require a degree but not a specific one.

What don’t you like about what you studied? You know what to avoid when you’re looking for jobs.

Were you really refused for a job, or was another candidate simply viewed as a better choice for that particular job? Some jobs have hundreds of applicants and to feel refused because they selected another candidate is being very harsh on yourself. Try seeing it as one step closer to getting a job. Also, even if you did crash and burn during the interview, you got some experience and you now know that you need to practice. Ask a family member or friend to give you mock interviews so you can practice and ask them to be hard on you so you’re ready for anything that comes up.

Many people don’t interview well and the cure is practice to gain confidence and seeing an interview as one out of many opportunities and trusting that the right opportunity will feel easy, not terribly difficult.

Many young adults your age are pulling further away from their birth family. It is not an unusual feeling. Non-human animals often leave their parents upon maturity and never return. I’m not saying you should do that, just that pulling away isn’t all that unusual.

Everyone, even you, is capable of loving. Your early life experience may have taught you to suppress emotions so they may be buried, but you are capable of love. Pay attention to how you feel. Tell yourself that you will notice your emotions. Emotions are not your enemy. They are actually designed to guide us toward self-actualization by feeling good when we’re moving in that direction and tell us we’re heading the wrong way with negative emotion.

Your post was brief but in many ways, it had elements that sound like catastrophizing or awfulizing, which is making a single incident (job interview) into a permanent and pervasive problem. Learning to see things as temporary situations will help you feel good. Nothing in life is permanent.

The “feeling like a dead man” comment makes me think that you’ve either been taught to suppress your emotions so you can’t feel their guidance (this is reversible) or that you’re depressed. In either case, I do encourage you to seek help. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to feel better.

I wish you all the best.


Your Programming is Like Pandora, not Spotify

With the online radio station Pandora, you can listen to music all day based on a single song you choose that represents the type of music you want to listen to. Your one song lets Pandora know the mood of the music you want and Pandora does the rest. With Spotify, you choose exactly which songs are in your playlist so nothing unexpected shows up.

Most people approach life as if they have to (and can) control what happens in their lives. They work for years instructing their children in the way they expect them to behave in the hopes that doing so will control their children’s behavior. They demand their spouse behave in specific ways, some even require their mates wear specific styles of clothing or hair. They insist their friends adhere to specific rules. They spend inordinate amounts of time attempting to get the government to do what they want it to do. They want their employer to behave in certain ways and expect specific responses to their work. For most people, these attempts to control are a lot of work for very little return.

Our children decide what they want and do it–eventually. Spouses who are initially willing to do things we want just to please us eventually resent the requirement. Friends find other friends who are more easy-going or their reciprocal demands become more than we are willing to do. Efforts to change the government, well, if it’s worked out well for you–send me a note. I’d love to hear your story.

It’s as if people think they can choose specific songs (behaviors/experiences) and that is all they will experience–as if life is like Spotify. But life is not like Spotify, we can’t pick and choose the exact experiences that will happen around us.

Life is like Pandora. We can choose how we will feel about what happens, we can choose between fear and excitement, between worry and trust, between love and hate and so much more. That’s great news if we know how to program in the type of song (emotions) we want to experience. But when we don’t understand how to program the type of experiences we want, life feels messy and confusing, hard and frustrating.

If you program your day for anger, you’ll have lots of it–all day long. Just like if you tell Pandora to play Machine Head – Ten Ton Hammer your day won’t be Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. Most of us have been taught to live as if our world runs by Spotify rules. It doesn’t.

You have to set the tone of your day. Or you can begin with just setting the tone of a moment and expand outward from there.

What kind of day do you want?

Top of the World

Top of the World – The Old Fashioned Way

Hot Rod Lincoln

Life is hard and then you die

When a Man Loves a Woman

How do you choose the tone of your day?

We all have emotional set points–emotional states that are our default emotional state. Horrible things can happen to someone and within two years they typically return to their pre-tragedy emotional state. Wonderful things, like marriage and winning the lottery happen and within two years people return to their previous emotional state.

But the reason they return to their original emotional state is not because of genetic predeposition. It is because emotional state is the result of habits of thought and most people don’t even realize they have the ability to change their habits of thought, much less how to do so. Like any habit, it requires time to change habits of thought. But with the proper skills you’ll be amazed at how much can change in three months.

Why bother?

If your chronic state is not positively focused (i.e. hopeful, appreciation, joy, enthusiasm, passion, interest, and other good-feeling emotions) it negatively impacts everything that is important to you–your physical, mental, behavioral health and relationships, your success, and even how long you live. Your life also just does not feel as good as it could.

One technique you can use to improve your habitual thoughts is to appreciate three things each day. Research has shown that appreciation helps more than a practice of gratitude for 66% of the people who use the technique. For many other ways, including a technique that helps you become an expert in setting the emotional tone of your day, see any of my The Smart Way books.

Jeanine Joy teaches, speaks and writes about human thriving. See more posts on LinkedIn and at Happiness 1st Institute.

If this helped you, please share so that others may be helped. Thank you.

If you want help learning to set the tone of your day, check out the classes we offer.


Prevention Saves Lives and Money


 

No, Giving People More Health Insurance Doesn’t Save Money” read the headline in a recent New York Times Article.


The reason preventative care is not saving money is that it is not true prevention. It’s early detection of illness and disease, not prevention in the true sense of the word.

True prevention would be Primary Prevention. Examples of Primary Prevention include washing one’s hands after engaging in activities that may expose one to germs and/or bacteria and before handling food. Another example is safe drinking water delivered to homes.

Primary Prevention is possible in healthcare. Primary Prevention is not early detection; primary prevention actually prevents the illness and/or disease from manifesting in the first place.

There is overwhelming science evincing that stress is at the root of between 67% – 99% of illness and disease (results of studies have varied). Even if it is just 67% it represents a tremendous portion of our healthcare expenses.

For 40 years the recommendations for stress management have been dose dependent and research is clear that when people need to reduce stress the most they are least likely to do so—even when they know engaging in dose-dependent stress reductions will help them feel better. The reason the vast majority of methods recommended are dose dependent is because they do not address the root cause of stress. Many recommendations increase stress, such as telling people to think positive without telling them how to do so. Another one is telling people to reduce activities when their life will not allow them to do so, which creates stress about how stressed they are.

We all know that the same situation elicits different levels of stress in different individuals and that the amount is not directly tied to how devastating the situation appears to be to the individual. The reason some individuals experience lower stress is because their minds are programmed in ways that reduce their stress because of the perspective they take. All of us have minds that are programmed. Most of the programming is completed by age 6 and happens as a natural result of being alive. But it is possible to change the programming so that it helps us instead of hinders us. Doing so increases resilience while it lowers stress. The benefits also extend far beyond health care. Stress is a significant contributing factor to other socially undesired outcomes including crime  racism, teen pregnancy, divorce, and drop-out rates.

For healthcare, a positive mental attitude reduces the risk of heart disease by 50%. (Boehm, 2012) Heart disease is responsible for about 1/3 of all deaths.

Stress is a significant initial cause of mental illness.

Stress decreases our immune, digestive, and cognitive functions. Science evincing the speed of these changes using biochemical markers is definitive.

Provide society with the skills to reduce stress at the root cause and the financial benefits will far exceed the cost. The non-financial benefits will be even greater. If you don’t want to wait for society to distribute this life-saving and life-enhancing information, you can get it now in True Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo.

 


Smart Employers Know . . .

Smart Employers Know the effect of chronic stress on the success of their employees and therefore, their business.

The smartest employers are implementing programs that teach employees psychological flexibility that considers the human drive for autonomy and reduces stress far more than any of the dose dependent stress reduction methods.¹ ²

Smart Employers Know that focusing their efforts on Primary Prevention which is designed to prevent problems from occurring, rather than waiting until after they occur to address them, will always be ahead of those whose strategy is reactive.

Smart Employers Know that the level of stress most employees experience in modern society is typically enough to be in the harmful level. Our society routinely tolerates far higher levels of stress than is healthy, often wearing the level of stress tolerated as a badge of honor. This tactic is completely ignorant of the facts that living with chronic stress:

  • Decreases the function of our immune system, leading to more illness and earlier deaths
  • Decreases cognitive function, leading to more unhealthy decisions and a lower ability to solve problems
  • Contributes significantly to the high percentage of GNP we spend on health care while receiving poor results
  • Increases the chance of addictions
  • Is the leading contributor to mental health issues from depression, anxiety to bipolar disorder and more
  • Increases the prevalence of chronic diseases that rob people of a high quality of life far too often and at young ages
  • Significantly reduces the quality of relationships of all types, from spouses and children to co-workers and neighbors
  • Is the # 1 factor that prevents good results in:
    • Employee Engagement
    • Turnover
    • Absenteeism
    • Creativity
  • The impact of stress begin almost instantaneously and compounds over time
  • The risk of preterm delivery of our offspring when we’ve endured chronic stress for years
  • The negative impact on physical, mental, and behavioral health of our children

Smart Employers Know that employees who have been trained in psychological flexibility experience significantly lower harmful stress under situations that produce harmful levels of stress in those who do not deliberately use their ability to be psychologically flexible to reduce stress.

What could your team do that it is not doing now?

Contact us today to learn how we can help your team develop winning mindsets and the psychological flexibility it takes to go the distance and arrive healthy.

(704) 25 one -51 five zero

¹ Kashdan, Todd B., Psychological Flexibility as a Fundamental Aspect of Health, Clin Psychol Rev. 2010 November 1; 30(7): 865–878., doi:  10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.001,

² Gorin, Amy. A., Powers, Theodore A., Koestner, Richard, Wing, Rena R., Raynor, Hollie, Autonomy Support, Self-Regulation, and Weight Loss, Health Psychology, 2014, Vol. 33, No. 4, 332–339, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0032586

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Mental Illness – Will the Stigma Ever Go Away?

Guest Post: I decided to post Dr. Lynn K. Jones’ blog because it is the best summary I’ve ever read on this topic. I believe the key to eliminating the stigma is education and knowledge. When society realizes the cost of stigma they will be willing to let it go. (Reprinted with permission.) Link to her website is here. – JJ

The Stigma of Mental Illness – Will it Ever Go Away?

“Psycho.”  “Loco.”  “Insane.”  These are the words that we all grew up with to describe someone that was—well, perhaps, a little off.  Not only that.  When we talked about one of these people, we said it with contempt:  “He’s totally crazy!”

Tom Wootton heard playground taunts in his head when he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 45.  He flashed on a memory of everyone jeering at one of his classmates.  “I thought: If I am bipolar, then I must be crazy.  I just couldn’t accept that for a long time.”

Wootton is not alone.  “This self-stigmatization, the internalizing of stigma, is one of the most significant barriers keeping people from accessing mental health treatment,” suggests Patrick W. Corrigan, Psy.D., professor, Institute of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology, principal investigator of the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research and executive director of the Joint Research Programs in Psychiatric Rehabilitation.  Fifty-four million Americans, nearly one in five, have a mental health disorder and nearly two-thirds of them won’t seek treatment1 because of stigma.  That means that the playground stereotypes that affect our attitudes have consequences.  Often fatal consequences.

“An indication of how strongly held these beliefs are, is that many people would rather tell employers that they committed a petty crime and served time in jail than admit to being in a psychiatric hospital,” according to Amy Watson, MSW, PhD, previously the program director of the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research and presently assistant professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What is Stigma?

“Stigma involves setting apart a group in society and associating particular characteristics with them, which we think of as stereotypes,” says Beth Angell, MSW, Ph.D., assistant professor of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.  “In the mind of the public, having a mental illness seems to be associated with some undesirable attribute, for example the belief that people with mental illness are more violent than others or that they lack the competence to be able to negotiate social roles, such as working.

“It is difficult to know exactly how those stereotypes come about; they can be caused by lots of factors.  For many years people with mental illness were sequestered in institutions and hidden from society, having minimal contact with the public.  During the 1950’s – 1960’s we slowly began a process where we deinstitutionalized people with mental illness and they began living in the community.  As a result of that, a much more visible group of people with mental illness who needed help contributed to the public developing negative stereotypes about mental illness, such as violence or bizarre behavior.”

Not In My Backyard

The Santa Barbara, California woman who recently went on a killing spree is the type of image we often have fixed in our minds about people with mental illness.  These images don’t just come from the nightly news; they also come from popular dramas on TV.  The cameo that opens Law and Order, for example, is often a scene of a violence committed by a person with mental illness.

“We know that people with mental illness are statistically no more likely to be violent than persons without mental illness,” says Jack K. Martin, Ph.D., executive director of the Karl F. Schuessler Institute for Social Research and professor of Sociology at the University of Indiana.  “Unfortunately, the overwhelming perception about people with mental illness is that they are very likely to become violent.”

Martin recently completed, along with his colleagues at the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, the second of four studies on the impact stigma has on people with mental health problems.

The first study, completed in 1996, evaluated whether American’s attitudes about mental illness had changed, since they were last studied in 1950.  “What we found was encouraging and discouraging at the same time,” says Martin.  “People used to see the cause of the problem as something about the individual’s character.  It used to be that people would say: ‘This was God’s will.’  ‘These are bad people.’ ‘This was their punishment.’ They don’t say that anymore.  People now have an ability to explain mental illness accurately, defining it as a chemical imbalance or a genetic predisposition to mental illness, often triggered by stress; they have basically adapted a medical model. A real common point of view used to be that mental health problems weren’t treatable; people no longer believe that.

“At the same time, people unquestionably have high levels of willingness to shun people with mental illness and in particular, they don’t want to work with them and they don’t want someone who is mentally ill to join their family by marriage.  So while they have more clarity about where mental illness comes from, they really want to avoid any contact.”

Stigma Sticks

Why are the stigmas associated with mental illness so sticky–especially when people are more educated about mental illness?  More understanding should lead to acceptance, but “in fact there is evidence that people know much more about mental illness and that the stigma seems to be worse,” says Corrigan.

“Our work suggests that the biggest factor changing stigma is contact between people with mental illness and the rest of the population,” says Corrigan.  He is trying to understand how to get consumers to go public with their mental health problems.  The public needs to understand that many people with mental illness are functioning, fully contributing members of society.  To better understand how to do this, Corrigan has studied the gay movement, since they have been so successful in coming out.  “Just as the gay community had to realize that their power was increased as they came out of the closet, a similar realization needs to occur with people with mental illness.  They are reluctant to do it, for understandable reasons, but nonetheless that is what needs to happen.”

Wootton is someone who has come out.  He has written a book about his experience living with Bipolar Disorder, The Bipolar Advantage, is the president of his local Bipolar Disorder support group, has established a workshop program for people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and talks to groups several times a week about his mental health issues—both the pain and the progress.  He says that other people with Bipolar Disorder appreciate what he is doing—so that they don’t have to do it.  They feel too vulnerable.  They fear the stigma.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) realizes what an impediment stigma is to people in mental health treatment and have launched a “StigmaBusters” campaign.  One initiative is to get people with mental illness to speak out and they have provided the support and structure through their In Our Own Voice program. (See Sidebar.)

Just Like Anyone Else

Most people with mental health problems would not wish them on anyone.  But more and more we are beginning to recognize that people with mental health problems don’t just have problems—they also have talents that make real contributions to society.  Just like anyone else.

Wootton views his Bipolar Disorder as an “advantage.”   Before his diagnosis he was a successful software programmer and earned millions by working feverishly at a highly creative pitch—for months on end–thanks to his uncontained Bipolar Disorder.  Of course, he couldn’t sustain this and eventually hit a bipolar wall.  Now he strikes a balance between controlling his bipolar disorder while still benefiting from his creative talents.  This is a result of a combination of medication, therapy groups and what he describes as “ a lot of hard work.”   He also works with his doctors to calibrate his medication so that he is still able to tap into his Bipolar capabilities.  This means that he is somewhat outside what they consider his ideal range of functioning, but still within acceptable limits for him.

Or think of Monk, the endearing TV detective who is able to discern things beyond the reach of others on his police unit.  He makes no bones about the fact that his compulsive cleanliness can be a hindrance, but the good outweighs the bad.  He too, works on his issues in therapy, but he rejects medication.  With medication he feels good, but he loses his special talents.

John Nash, portrayed in The Beautiful Mind, won the Nobel Prize for the work he did in the field of mathematics all the while struggling with the delusions and paranoia of schizophrenia. He learns to live with and control his delusional friends, which releases the power of his intellect to change the world.

Examples like these are introducing the public to a broader view of the attributes of mental illness; a view that people with mental illness may bring gifts—not just problems.  Wootton adds that the message for treatment providers is that recovery is not overcoming mental illness, but harnessing it to preserve positive attributes.

Watson cautions that people with mental illness should be valued for who they are, including those that make everyday contributions like the rest of us.  “People with mental illness are mostly like everyone else with similar ranges of intelligence and talents and they should not have to be extraordinary achievers to be appreciated.”

“Many professionals are the bastions of stigma,” says Corrigan.  “Part of that might be because they tend to see people only when they are acutely ill.  When they are in recovery and acting in a way to challenge a stigma they are not with them.

“People with mental illness can and do recover.  It is contrary to what we all learned in graduate school, which is ‘once a schizophrenic always a schizophrenic.’  The long term follow up research suggests that 2/3 of people with intense schizophrenia can live successful lives; perhaps half of them will need job coaches or housing coaches for much of their life, but still people when they receive reasonable accommodation live pretty well with schizophrenia.”

Social Justice Challenge

The social cost of stigma associated with mental illness is high, because it translates into huge numbers of people with treatable mental illness not getting help.  In Martin’s research, 45% of people said that if they had a mental illness they would not take medication for it, even though they believe that the medication would work.  They are not worried about side effects.  “They are worried that if they do take medication that someone is going to find out and then they will have to suffer the consequences, including the disruptions of marital relationships and work productivity,” says Martin.

Is a society without debilitating mental illness out of reach?  It turns out it is not.  There is a pilot program in Norway, being led by Thomas McGlashan, director of the Yale Psychiatric Institute that reportedly has been so successful that people with schizophrenia are not living on the streets.  The key seems to be eliminating stigma.  When stigma is reduced and people feel safe coming out they get treated at the early onset of the illness, which greatly improves their outcomes.  The destigmatization campaign includes the education of students, primary care physicians and the general public.

So it is possible.  The Norway experience shows us that when stigma is substantially eliminated and a supportive health care system is in place, the rights of people with mental illness are protected.  When their rights are protected, people with mental illness can experience the full benefit of the progress that has been made in treatment without constraining their potential to contribute to our society.

Will the stereotypes of “psycho” and “loco” ever totally go away?  Probably not.  But we can reduce the impact of stigma and bring people to life-restoring treatment.   Everyone wins when people with mental illness are not just tolerated but appreciated for who they are and can be full participants in society.

1 Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, 1999.

SIDEBAR

Fight Stigma: Become A StigmaBuster!

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) StigmaBusters is a group of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world that seek to fight the inaccurate, hurtful representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes in an effort to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. The StigmaBusters’ goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.

Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive the NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online and in mental health centers, hospitals, universities and elsewhere. NAMI urges everyone to get involved: “Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.”

By going to www.nami.org you can find out more about NAMI StigmaBusters and how you can report stigma, and sign up to receive NAMI’s StigmaBuster Alerts.

 

In Our Own Voice: Living with Mental Illness is a recovery, education presentation given by trained consumer presenters for other consumers, family members, friends, professionals, students of all academic levels, and lay audiences.

A brief, yet comprehensive interactive presentation about mental illness – including video, personal testimony, and discussion enriches the audience’s understanding of how people with these serious disorders cope with the reality of their illnesses while recovering and reclaiming productive lives.

In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness was developed to provide a dialogue on the issues related to recovery from severe mental illnesses. The program is designed to provide a safe place for consumers to share the ups and downs of their recovery and learn from others.  A trained consumer presenter leads the discussion. The program educates everyone about the ongoing recovery issues we face and the fulfilling lives that can be achieved.

Consumers that have participated in the program say, “We give hope, we educate, we open minds, and we change attitudes. We help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness.”

NAMI reports that research studies have shown that the In Our Own Voiceworks and that there is a significant decrease in stigma against mental illness among audience members after seeing the presentation.

Find out more about bringing the In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness program to your community at www.nami.org.

Author:   Dr. Lynn K. Jones

Certified Personal and Executive Coach

 

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at theWurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concernedorganizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individual on achieving their reflected best selves.  An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment.

 

My thanks to Dr. Lynn K. Jones for granting her permission to reprint this article and extend the reach of the message.

Primary Prevention of Heart Disease: Infographic

Save Lives Save Money Prevent CVD

Primary Prevention Saves Lives and Saves Money

The six “risk factors” are symptoms. We must treat the root cause to achieve wellness.

Primary Prevention of Heart Disease

We spend billions each year fighting symptoms of heart disease (cardiovascular disease) while we ignore the root cause. Just like when you chop a tree down above the ground, when you treat the symptoms, it comes back. Science has clearly demonstrated the root cause in myriad ways but the old paradigm hasn’t changed. Until we change our focus to the real root cause of almost all illness and social problems, people will continue to suffer and die unnecessarily. 

To learn more read: TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo

To learn how to address the root cause in your own life (or that of your family or employees) contact Happiness 1st Institute about classes or register for one of the classes offered.

The Premier Programs all include a Money back Guarantee for individuals.

Think about how we view those in history who had all the evidence before them about something that would have helped them and ignored it. Well, when we ignore this, that is exactly what we are doing.

Wishing you a long, healthy and happy life.

                                Jeanine Joy

PS-Check out the other Infographics posted on this site for more information on how each of the so-called risk factors are actually symptoms–symptoms that all have the same root cause!

 


Stress Management = Primary Prevention

Stress Management = Primary Prevention

 

 Stress Management = Primary Prevention

One reason we are having so little success stopping the growth of public health and welfare problems is because almost all society’s efforts are directed toward the symptoms, not the root cause of the problems.

It is like getting a flat tire because you have a strip of spikes on your driveway, so you fix your flat tire, but then you drive over the strip of spikes all over again. The problems are growing because the root cause is not being fixed. No one who realizes that is what they are doing would do that. The reason Road spikes preventionsociety does not realize it is because we’ve been misled about some very basic things that affect our health and wellbeing. Not misled on purpose, but because people have believed a variety of false premises for generations and only now is science demonstrating the falsity of those premises loud enough that some people are beginning to recognize it.

Our parents, teachers, clergy, and others teach us what they’ve been taught without realizing that they were given false information. We are very lucky to live in this time when science knows enough about how our brains work–about things that go on below the level of conscious thought–things that can help us or hurt us, depending on how they are programmed to work.

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories about why the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer but the primary reason is that this underlying programming that literally affects our ability to see and recognize opportunities and solutions has been programmed in a more success supportive way. Since we learn much of the programming by age 6, it is passed on by our parents and other early teachers. If their programming is not supporting success, then our programming probably won’t either.

But…we now understand how to change the programming in ways that improve success in all areas of life. Relationships, health, success, well-being and other areas can improve dramatically when you change the programming your automated responses use.

Today, very few people are enjoying optimal programming of their automated processes. Even among those who are wealthy, there are relationship problems, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, depression, addictions, and more. It is difficult for someone who is not wealthy to imagine how someone who has that many resources can have so many problems–but the root cause is the same. Their automatic programming is not optimized.

Understand that consciously you are usually focused on one thought at a time, but your automatic processes may be doing hundreds of things each minute. They filter the information your senses pick up and provide only the information the automatic processes have deemed relevant to your conscious mind. The automatic processes do not pass information to your conscious mind that conflicts with your beliefs. If you begin shifting your programming and changing beliefs that aren’t serving your highest good, you’ll be as amazed as I was by how changing an underlying belief changes the world that your mind is aware of. Until you try it is difficult to understand or believe. Once you try it, it is blatantly obvious.

In our programs we teach our students how to decide how they want to program their automatic processes and how to change established patterns of thought to reduce stress in their life and begin thriving more.

If you’re not ready for a class, try one of my books. TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo addresses the issue from the perspective of health but the stress reduction techniques that help you reprogram your automated processes will benefit every area in the chart. When Only You Can Prevent Suicide was written to address the growing depression and suicide problem with a solution that can be applied globally. The current suicide prevention strategies wait until someone is at a crisis point and focus on the warning signs that an individual may be considering suicide. We can do so much better. The same strategies that can improve health can greatly reduce the potential someone will someday become suicidal. My knowledge of the truth about some of the false premises mentioned previously has helped me bring more than one person back from the brink of suicide when the person was at a crisis point.

In When Only You Can Prevent Suicide I also provide guidance about how to help someone who has attempted suicide or suffered a loss in their life. Oftentimes individuals do not express their care and concern at such times, not because they don’t care, but because they are unsure of what to say. At a vulnerable time like that, the lack of contact can be misinterpreted to mean lack of caring and make matters worse. If someone you care about has suffered a loss–whether it is loss of a job, relationship, loved one to death, status, or physical health–contact from you can make a big difference.

Because we tend to become accustomed to whatever our normal circumstances are–even when they are less than ideal–we do not realize how good life can become. Wouldn’t you like to know?

 

 


Workplace Stress: The New Asbestos?

danger stress

According to a research brief completed by Rand Corporation, “Approximately 730,000 people have filed claims for asbestos injuries in the United States through 2002. At least 8,400 defendants and insurers have paid $70 billion to settle these claims.”

That is less than 1 million claims and a 70 billion price tag.

About 100 companies have filed for bankruptcy because of their asbestos exposure.(1)

Why were companies held liable for asbestos? They knew the risk to employees (or should have because the risk was known) and they did not provide adequate protection for their workers. Rand states it this way, “Asbestos litigation, the longest-running mass tort litigation in the United States, arose as a result of individuals’ exposure to asbestos and the failure of many product manufacturers to protect their workers.”(2)

The risk to your organization from not protecting your employees from workplace stress could bankrupt your company.

It does not matter who you are, or how big you are because the pool of potential litigants expands as your workforce expands. Some of the more conservative estimates I’ve seen estimate that 26% of the population has unhealthy stress levels and that 70% of that is due to workplace stress. Let’s do the math.

314,000,000 x .26 = 81,640,000 x .7 = 57,480,000

People in USA x low estimate of those with unhealthy stress levels = 81.6 million

70% attributed to workplace stress brings the number down to 57.4 million

That equates to more than 78 times the number of asbestos litigants.

And, unlike asbestos, risk cannot be stopped by no longer using the product. Workplace stress risk will continue as long as the business is in business. The best you can do it mitigate it. The good news is our program takes stress management a giant step forward.

Pay Attention: Think Long-Term

The research is compelling. TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo touches upon many of the stress related illnesses including heart disease which accounts for 1/3 of all deaths. In early 2015, Stress Kills:Happiness Heals will tell the full story–not just the health impacts, but the social problems exacerbated by stress, including divorces, depression, and suicides.

If the potential of corporate liability due to workplace stress that employers know, or should know, are harmful to their employees mental and physical well-being does not make you afraid you need to talk to a risk manager. The potential threat is real. Once the research is clear and compelling, businesses are held to a standard that they should know the risks of placing demands on their employees that lead to chronic stress.Workplace Stress

Putting your head in the sand and ignoring the issue will not make it go away. But there are ways to manage the risk without doubling your workforce.

Stress management skills are not taught in school. The vast majority of your employees have no idea how to lower the stress they feel in any given situation. You already know some of them handle stress better than others, but not why.

The stress reduction techniques touted by most of the books and stress management teachers are dose dependent and stressed people are less likely to actually do them. It is not the reason they are stressed, stress decreases motivation. It is part of the problem. It is also part of your engagement problem. Employees who understood how to manage stress might find their environment challenging instead of stressful.

Face it, we cannot eliminate the stress from every job. Performing surgery is stressful, caring for a preterm infant with serious complications is stressful, regulations that increase and change frequently is stressful, taking up the slack from disengaged co-workers is stressful. Eliminating stress is not an option.

The connection between workplace stress and health is irrefutable. Already, in some large cities like New York and Los Angeles, police officers who die from heart disease–even if they are on vacation when they die–are considered work-related deaths. But stress does not have to involve real life or death situations for the human body to experience the negative health effects.

Long-Term May Mean… Tomorrow

The number of asbestos claims is a drop of water in the ocean compared to the potential stress claims from employees. The future that I’m talking about is not that far in the future. To those who are familiar with the state of the research connecting stress to mental and physical illnesses, it is already clearly visible. When will the first case be filed? It could be tomorrow. The evidence is compelling enough and accumulating on an almost daily basis.

What can you do to manage this risk?

The economics will not allow you to double your workforce to reduce the workload, so that is not an option.

Dose dependent stress management techniques like exercise, helping others, going outside,meditation, massage, yoga, and tai chi are dose dependent and the evidence that those suffering from the highest levels of stress are least likely to do them. The fact that they are not doing them is not a defense because evidence demonstrating that it is the high stress that makes it less likely just points the finger back at the cause of the stress.

There is a way to teach employees to manage the stress at the root cause that empowers them to perceive the stressful situation in less stressful ways. Why is this the best method? Because it addresses the issue at the root cause, it affects the entire experience. It shows the employee they have more control over their stress than they know. Increasing employee’s locus of control in this way has multiple benefits including improved health and engagement. That’s three boxes checked in one program.

  • Reduce risk of stress-related litigation
  • Improve Employee Wellness Efforts
  • Increase Employee Engagement

But the benefits do not end there. The program delivers considerably more. Relationships between co-workers (and their relationships outside work) improve because of what they learn in the program. This not only makes the workplace more harmonious, it lessens the amount of outside relationship stress that is adversely affecting the work day. This is not just romantic relationships, but also relationships with children, parents, and friends.

How much does relationship drama impact your organization’s productivity? How much of management’s time is spent dealing with personality conflict type issues?

There is another benefit. From years in risk management, I am well aware that some lawsuits employers have to defend against are for things that one employee interprets as threatening but another one would not even remember a few days later. It is the perception of the event, rather than the actual event, that creates the problem. Our programs provides employees with skills that enable them to perceive situations from perspectives that feel better to them. While it is never possible to quantify lawsuits avoided (a bane of compliance officers and risk managers everywhere), the dots can be connected and the relationship can be clear enough that the CFO will understand the benefits.

Let’s return to the wellness program for a minute. All those healthy habits you’re attempting to get your employees to do are hindered by high stress. In fact, the link between high stress and obesity has changed the paradigm of calories in – calories out = BMI. Stress affects how the body processes the food a person eats and increases the risk of obesity, which increases the risk of diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease. Stress also increases the risk of high blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Chronic stress also diminishes the effectiveness of the immune function, increasing the risk of colds, flu, and even cancer. All of this is already scientifically documented. Many of the citations are in TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health, but Stress Kills:Happiness Heals, which is in the editing stage expands the picture further.

Other Benefits

The benefits of our program seem too good to be true but the reason they are so expansive is because they address the root cause. Almost everything else that is done to improve health and stress today addresses symptoms, not the root cause. Now is the time to take action. There are other benefits from our program detailed throughout our website.

Take Action…Today

If this sounds frightening, it is. What can you control? Can you control the job responsibilities in a way that makes them not stressful? Can you control the work loads employees are tackling?

What you can do is empower them with skill based training that insulates them from much of the stress in their lives–both work-related and personal. This training would go a long way toward demonstrating that you took every possible precaution to help your employees. Of course, it should be combined with other  things you’re probably already doing, such as an EAP program. But when you wait for the situation to be at the point where most employees will reach out to an EAP, the stress has already caused damage.

We measure a variety of things in a host of different ways before and after the training, including stress, depression (expect about 10% of your employees to be suffering from depression in the pre-training testing), resilience, and emotional intelligence. You can choose to add other measures. The program is provided in large groups so the cost is surprisingly affordable. Smaller employers can combine to form a larger group to keep their costs reasonable. In large organizations, we have train the trainor programs.

Contact us today, sleep better tonight.

(1) http://www.crowell.com/files/List-of-Asbestos-Bankruptcy-Cases-Chronological-Order.pdf

(2) http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9155/index1.html


Corporate Wellness: Is Yours Missing a Critical Ingredient?

Corporate wellness

The Current State of Corporate Wellness Programs

Workplace wellness programs are missing the key ingredient to true prevention. They focus on early diagnosis, symptom and lifestyle management while ignoring the elephant in the room–the one common factor at the root of everything.

While meeting with a representative of a large regional health system’s workplace wellness division, I asked him what their solution was for addressing stress. He mentioned their EAP (employee assistance program) offered counseling but said that was all they had. He also said many employers recognize that stress has both a negative effect on worker’s health and on their contributions at work. He was excited by our program but when he took the information back to his employer they said they had all the knowledge they needed in-house. If that is true, why are they excluding stress management skills training from their workplace wellness program?

The research about stress is clear. Workplace wellness programs tend to focus on the same areas and stress management skills would help improve the results in every one of them.

Smoking cessation.

Stress plays a role in the ability of individuals to quit smoking and maintain their status as non-smokers. Anxious individuals find it the most difficult to quit. Anxiety and smoking behavior are highly correlated.

Weight Management/Obesity/Anorexia/Bulimia

Researchers have demonstrated that the old paradigm of weight management is too simplistic because it ignores the impact of stress on the digestive system. The digestive system does not function as well when an individual is stressed and chronic stress contributes significantly to the development of diabetes. Stress also results in unhealthy food choices. Food is the number one anxiety drug.

Eating disorders often have their roots in low self-esteem. The design of our program leads to increases in self-esteem, which could provide relief for those who have eating disorders and prevent their development by those who are at risk of developing an eating disorder.

Diabetes Disease Management

The impact of stress on the digestive function has been linked to the development of diabetes. In 2007, the direct cost of diabetes in the United States was 174 billion. Indirect costs included 2.6 billion for absenteeism, 20 billion reduced productivity during work for the employed population, 7.9 billion unemployment from disease-related disability, and 26.9 billion lost productive capacity because of early mortality. Stress also has a direct impact on adherence to recommended treatments.

Physical Inactivity

Stress levels affect whether or not an individual will be active and choose to engage in physical activities. Highly stressed individuals who do not have an ingrained habit of physical activity are unlikely to develop the habit while they are stressed. Despite the fact that physical activity/exercise is often recommended as a dose dependent stress reduction method, such increases in physical activity do not consistently help stressed individuals because they do not feel sufficiently motivated.

Depression

By the time depression has developed, the individuals has typically been suffering from chronic stress for a sustained period of time. We need to educate employees (and the entire population) that tolerating stress is not the appropriate response. Coping until we’re depressed is a strategy that has made depression an epidemic with 10% of the US population suffering from it, according to the CDC.

Why are they not recommending early intervention to address stress? Because they think it requires expensive one-on-one treatment and because of the ridiculous stigma’s associated with mental health. Stress Management skills are simple to understand and implement. They are simple enough that kindergartners can understand the basics. Adults are a little more difficult and take a little longer to teach because they have developed a lot of false premises throughout their life that hinder their ability to adopt strategies that come quickly and easily to younger children. But it is still far from something that requires expensive one-on-one treatment. I can teach auditoriums full of people how to manage stress in meaningful ways that have a positive impact on their work and home lives right away and continue to increase as the techniques are applied.

Even individuals who suffered from repeated bouts of depression have now reported that they have been free of depressive episodes since learning these skills.

Poor Diet/Nutrition

Stress and happiness are opposite ends of the same continuum. Researchers have linked happiness with better food choices. Individuals in the top 25% of optimism scores ate more fresh vegetables, salads, berries, fruit and low fat cheese that other subjects in a research report comparing optimism to dietary habits. A meta-analysis done by researchers at Harvard and published in 2012 concluded that positivity and optimism led to better food choices and better choices about risky behaviors. Our stress management program increases happiness, positivity, and optimism.

Chronic Stress

The common recommendations for managing stress are all dose dependent. That would be fine if there wasn’t a better way, but there is. Dose dependent stress management is the same as taking a prescription pill to manage the symptoms–it does nothing to affect the underlying cause. Dose dependent means you have to do it in order to receive the positive results and if you don’t do it, you don’t get any results.

Because our program helps individuals change the root cause of the stress, it functions more like a cure. It does not prevent bad things from happening, but the response is more resilient, emotional intelligent, and less stressful than it would have been before they learned to use the skills we teach. The way the individual responds to the same stimulus that may have once made him or her highly stressed may not be at all stressful once the techniques have been applied for a while.

We all know that everyone reacts differently to circumstances. What stresses one person out may be fun to another person. I’ve studied what makes humans thrive for two decades and then developed programs that teach individuals how to develop the habits of thought that help them thrive.

The frequently recommended dose dependent stress reduction methods include exercise, going out in nature, helping someone else, petting your cat or dog, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and massage. While these methods are a good “pill,” they do not provide long-term benefits with the exception of a consistent meditation practice. But even consistent meditation does not address stress at the root cause.

Some recommendations can be counter-productive. One commonly recommended stress reduction method is to discuss the problem with a friend. The outcome of that discussion can go either way. I definitely have friends who would make it worse by focusing on the worse aspects of the situation and reminding me of other bad situations like the current one. I also have friends who would be beneficial to talk to but I’ve never seen this type of recommendation come with recommended parameters for the discussion.

Employee Engagement

This is not a typical focus of Corporate Wellness Programs although the hope is that the program will be perceived in a positive light. Our program also helps engagement in a variety of ways. The first is that it helps create a more inclusive and positively focused employee base. Working with people who are energetic, focused, and optimistic creates synergy and an environment that makes being at work enjoyable. The way any individual views his employer or any other aspect of his life reflects how he views everything in life. Someone who is generally dissatisfied with life is generally dissatisfied with her work. The reason for this is because our habits of thought play a tremendous role in the aspects we focus on in every area of our lives. If we focus on the aspects that we don’t like, we’re not engaged. If we focus on aspects that we find exciting, our engagement increases.

The inherent nature of our program increases the likelihood that employees will focus on aspects of their jobs and the company that they like.

Turnover/Retention

One of the most frequently cited reasons for turnover is not liking the people. A working environment where relationships are harmonious, where workplace conflict is unusual, where conversations are fruitful, and others are supportive would be very difficult to leave. The techniques I teach can accomplish this type of shift in corporate culture. Individuals who understand how to use the skills can even ignore outright attempts to upset their equilibrium without feeling stressed or a need to retaliate. The techniques provide individuals with tremendous stability and equilibrium in their chosen emotional stance.

There is a song by Pharrell Williams that describes the steady emotional state:

“Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,Workplace Wellness: missing Ingredient
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold it back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time
Here’s why

Because I’m Happy”

I know, that to someone who is not generally happy the thought of being around a bunch of happy people is not very appealing but when everyone understands they can be happy and most are, the whole dynamic changes. Those who need a bit of help find it everywhere they look because one of the most natural and frequent behaviors those who learn to be happier demonstrate is a desire to help others do the same.

Research shows that positively focused people are kinder and demonstrate better corporate citizenship.

Cognitive Ability

Stress diminishes our cognitive abilities. The same person is smarter when happy than he is when stresssed. Do you want your employees to make better decisions? Teach them how to reduce the stress in their lives. You can keep the same employees and gain a smarter workforce.

Absenteeism

Immune function decreases as stress increases. Research has shown that the severity of colds and flu are directly tied to positivity, wth the most positively focused experiencing the fewest symptoms and duration of illness. The most positively focused have sometimes not developed an illness at all, even after being deliberately exposed to the virus. The symptoms are not just self-reports. One study in particular actually measured symptoms, going as far as to weigh used tissues so that the results would not be slanted by the more pessimistic attitude. The pessimists reported more symptoms but they also had more symptoms.

Productivity/Presenteeism

The level of productivity is important to employers. In all except the most mindless, repetitive occupations repeated research has shown that optimists produce more than pessimists.

Although you may believe optimism and pessimism are inborn traits, they aren’t. They are habits of thought and individuals can change their habits of thought to make their life feel better.

Optimists are more successful than pessimists in study after study.

Sales

There is very solid evidence that even less qualified optimists outperform more qualified pessimists based on traditional measures of qualification. If optimism is not one of the considerations for hiring your sales staff you are leaving a lot of untapped potential on the table. Teaching your sales staff our stress management techniques would improve sales.

Ethics/Morality

The research is very clear that ethical behavior improves as positivity increases. Think about it. When the economy dips, white collar crime increases. The same stress that reduces cognitive ability leads individuals to faulty conclusions that result in them deciding to commit a crime.

Education Components

There are a number of false premises that hinder individuals from becoming happier and less stressed. One of them is that they should just be strong when they are faced with stressful situations. But the advice, such as think positive and decrease the stress in your life, is worthless without teaching them how.

Stress adversely affects every system in the body fairly quickly. It is something that should be dealt with as soon after it is experienced as possible. I’ll give you an example. Jealousy creates stress in the body. I am almost never jealous of anyone about anything. I recognize that feeling jealous is my seeing someone else experience something that I want but am perceiving I can’t be, do, or have. Earlier today I learned a friend was at a lecture at Harvard on psychoneuroimmunology and I felt jealous. I told my partner to tell our friend I was jealous (he was going to see him before I did). But I manage my emotional state to a really good place. I had not felt jealousy in a very long time. It did not feel good. Within less than five minutes I realized what I was doing and said, “Why am I feeling jealous? Why do I think that is something I can’t do?” Very quickly my jealous was gone, replaced by an attitude of being delighted that I have friends who attend those types of lectures and can intelligently discuss such subjects. I also affirmed that there was no reason I could not also attend a lecture like that. My jealousy is completely gone and I am now excited about the next time I’ll see my friend. I’m looking forward to hearing what he learned and comparing ideas. I can even ramp my emotional state up even higher. I know this man’s heart wants to help a lot of people, especially those who are the last to receive help, whether here in the USA or abroad. I can think about what he might have learned that will help him do that and feel even more positive emotions. I’ll stop there but the process could keep going. I’ve already shifted from jealousy to a bit of a natural high just by changing my perception but I have not begun to tap the potential positive emotions I could milk from this situation.

Do, however, notice that the circumstances did not change. He is still the one who attended the lecture. The only thing that changed was the only thing I could change, my perspective about it. My emotions improved as I assumed a more empowered perspective. My body no longer feels stress from assuming an unhealthy perspective.

I’ve been using these methods for years but it is not much more difficult for a novice to shift perspective and gain similar advantages.

We need to change our tolerance of stress. We need to help everyone understand that they should do what they can as soon as they can. It makes all the difference.

There are other false premises that interfere with optimal health that our program identifies and changes.

Attracting Quality

Attracting quality employees is critical to the success of your business. The iconic work cultures of our era will not have anything on a company that has incorporated the techniques in our program. You’ll have your pick of the best of the best–provided you provide a healthy work environment with opportunities to advance. Our program won’t change what your company does, only how it does it. There is another benefit I have not yet mentioned, that can help create an irresistible work environment.

Creativity

Creativity is just like cognitive ability as it related to stress. Creativity increases as happiness increases and decreases as stress increases. Ideas flow more readily to individuals who are positively focused. There is a second advantage that comes from our program that relates to this area. Many good ideas are wasted because the person who thinks them is afraid of how others will perceive the idea. Our program increases self-confidence and also the ability to feel good even if someone does not agree with us. The impediments that cause many good ideas to die before they are born is eliminated.

Diversity

Even diversity is positively impacted by our program. Research shows that positively focused individuals are naturally more inclusive. We have the ability to take your diversity initiatives to a higher level.

Resilience

We spend a lot of time planning for business continuity in the event of problems from busted water lines to epidemics and wars. But we tend to ignore the fact that people are required to execute those plans. In the disaster planning milieu, we assume people who are not directly taken out by the disaster will be functioning in their assigned roles. We forget that different people respond to stress in different ways and that the stress of a disaster could take out people who are not affected by the direct cause.

The best disaster plan you can create is worthless if your employees lack the resilience to persist during a disaster. Can they fulfill their duties in the midst of so much uncertainty?

I would far rather have resilient people and a mediocre plan than a great plan and staff with mediocre resilience levels. The resilient individual will retain the ability to think in dire circumstances that will be lost to someone who is less resilient. The best planning cannot predict all the variables. The resilient individual will be able to respond in the moment–when it counts. Those hero’s we love to watch on TV, who come through when bullets and bombs are all around? They’re resilient. Whether you adore MacGyver or Jack, it is their resilience that makes them able to persevere. My Dad tells me, Jeanine you could fall into an outhouse and you’d come out with a diamond ring. He has seen me repeatedly respond to circumstances that would devastate less resilient individuals in ways that make the outcome better than if the adversity had never happened.

Our program increases individual resilience, the ability to bounce back will be improved. It won’t matter if the strife is at work or personal, it will not drag them down as long as it would have without our training.

Sleep

Stress can adversely affect the ability to get a good night’s sleep in a number of ways. Stress can cause individuals to stay awake worrying about problems and it can cause them to wake up too early and be unable to go back to sleep. The stress of too many competing priorities can result in individuals simply not giving themselves enough time for adequate rest.

This is a significant concern to employers. Sleep deprivation can lead to more mistakes, including accidents. Inadequate sleep increases the risk of an automobile accident by three times.

Stress management skills reduce stress, allowing individuals to benefit from a better night’s sleep.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Our program increases EQ in three of the four key areas because of the way the program is designed.

Final Question

Does your corporate wellness program offer a stress management solution that satisfies your needs? Does it address stress at the root cause? Why not?

Contact us today to learn more about how Happiness 1st Institute can help your company achieve a lot more of its potential.

corporate wellness


Robin Williams Can Leave an even Greater Legacy: Eliminate Stigma

President Obama on the passing of Robin Williams:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But, he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”

I would add to this that Robin Williams will be an instrumental part of removing much of the stigma associated with mental health issues–opening the way for more to achieve greater mental and emotional health.

People will ridicule and stigmatize strangers but there are so many who love Robin Williams whose attitude about seeking help will change because they will understand that if society had been different, if we had deeper conversations with one another, if we understood more, Robin Williams might have received the right help at the right time.

This shift in the stigma associated with mental/emotional health may become Robin Williams’s greatest legacy. Let’s make it so.

He can’t do it alone but with the help of those who love him there has never been a better time.

We live in a world where people in emotional pain suffer in silence. Their pain affects everyone. Mental health affects physical health, behavior, relationships, and cognitive abilities.

The origin of the stigma came from fear about the cause of mental illness and the inability of healers to cure it. Today we know more and can do more. It is time for everyone to understand the mind-body connection and how to attain and sustain better emotional and mental health. We have the tools to accomplish this—now it is time to educate, to help everyone understand how much difference it makes and how simple it can be to feel better.

Think about what you would have wanted for Robin Williams if you had known the pain he was in. Make a decision that you’ll be supportive of eliminating any negative bias you may have toward mental and emotional health issues.

Make a decision to give a smile to those who have none and a hug to those who need one. Compliment more, criticize less. Be open to deeper conversations. Learn more about how to decrease stress and increase happiness–they are opposite ends of the same stick. 

This great man, with a great legacy, has the potential to become even greater.

Rest in peace Robin Wiilliams.

P.S. I ran across an excellent write-up about stigma by Dr. Lynn K. Jones. You can read it Dr. Lynn K. Jones Stigma write-up.

 


TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo

True Prevention

A Path to Primary Prevention

In the future, humans will view modern medicine as little better than we view the healing practices of the middle ages. Science evincing that we currently treat symptoms, not the root causes of illnesses, exists. True Prevention: Remember Galileo takes up the challenge of building a bridge to the future where prevention is done at the root cause. In layman’s terms, practical solutions are provided to improve human thriving now. We remind readers to remember Galileo because the tendency to resist information that conflicts with what we believe we know persists. History reveals humanity repeatedly delays the benefits of many significant advances due to this resistance to new ideas. The life enhancing benefits revealed in this book are too great to ignore.6-back cover TRUE Prevention FINAL Georgia font regular 16 FINAL

Step-by-step, Ms. Joy guides us through information supporting a new approach to health and wellness with far reaching implications. Pulling information from a vast array of scientific fields including biology, chemistry, neuroscience, quantum physics, sociology, cultural anthropology to positive psychology, criminology, and more, the pieces of the puzzle snap into place revealing the potential for a far better world than most of us can imagine.

In science, the Parsimony Principle requires us to choose the simplest scientific explanation that fits the evidence. When an incorrect or incomplete theory has become accepted as truth, its complexity increases over time as exceptions and modifications are made to make new information fit the existing theory. Current explanations for illness and disease are rife with exceptions because they address symptoms instead of the root cause. The solutions put forth herein are the opposite, beautiful in their simplicity and ability to explain the myriad exceptions that plague other perspectives.

True Prevention is filled with clarifying concepts and practical steps that will help corporate wellness programs, physicians, and individuals achieve a clear understanding of where to focus their energy for optimum health.


Are You Passionate About the Well-being of Your Family?

Are you passionate about the well-being of your family?

If you are you will want to know about the research results that are slowly (too slowly in my opinion based on their importance) making their way out of the scientific research facilities and into the knowledge bank of both scientists and non-scientists in other fields.

The new research points the way to improved health, well-being, relationships, emotional intelligence, creativity, cognitive ability, decision-making, resilience, immune system function, depression. as well as reductions in racism, substance abuse, crime, teen pregnancy, and other social concerns.

One thing that can improve your relationships, your health, and your success?

One would think this information would be shouted from the rooftops.

The science is very solid. The proof is in.

Why isn’t it being talked about on every channel?  I don’t know.

Science, I have learned, typically progresses slowly in adopting new ideas and beliefs.

Although they don’t tend to chop off their heads for radical new ideas these days the fear instilled about moving too far away from the norm is not far from that which a potential separation from ones head would invoke. New research in one field often takes years to reach professionals in other fields. There is a saying “Science progresses one funeral at a time.” — Max Planck

Many people are under the misconception that current scientific theories come to prominence in science because the new discoveries changed the minds of the old guard through proofs and experimentation. Closer to the truth is that, proof and experimentation changed the minds of younger scientists, and only when old guards die off, the new theories rise to take their place and make prominent the new theory. This is true even when the old beliefs are proven clearly false. Much of the progress we see (for example, advances in medical advances), comes not from science but from business building on science.

When actions can affect human well-being or change the world, that pace is entirely too slow. The information that has come to light can literally improve health and well-being significantly,  reduce crime, reduce racism, reduce substance abuse, reduce teen pregnancy and, it is my belief that it is the path to peace.

When evidence from different scientific disciplines is combined the science is solid and compelling.

Positive emotions, optimism, and happiness provide these benefits and much more.

The absence of negative emotions is not the same as the presence of positive emotions.

Science has even shown that pessimists can become more optimistic and our own level of positive emotions is within our control.

All it takes is a little knowledge and a few skills to manage your emotions to a place where you can benefit from increased positive emotions, optimism, and happiness.

New research from Harvard even shows us why the benefits of positivity are so great. Our bodies were not designed to tolerate negative emotions for long periods of time. We were designed to respond to negative emotions the way we respond to other sensory input, by making changes to make things more comfortable for us. We do not leave our hands on a burning stove and ignore the pain. Neither should we ignore negative emotions. We are supposed to feel good most of the time. The research is available at www.emotionalsentience.com.

In addition to the typical flight and fight responses we all know about there is something called a “Right Response” (RR) described in this scientific paper that is most appropriate to most situations humans encounter in their day-to-day lives. Learning how to use RRs provides a level of self-mastery over ones emotions that is followed by thriving.

Positivity has a better impact on longevity than whether an individual smokes or not. How passionate are you about making sure your children do not take up this habit?  If you put that much passion into helping them develop skill at RRs you will benefit them far more and they are more likely to make good decisions including the decision not to take up that habit.

Classes that teach Right Responses are available. See our website for details.

© Jeanine Joy, 2012-2014

President, Happiness 1st Institute


An Open Letter Regarding Depression

An Open Letter Regarding Depression

Depression has reached epidemic levels worldwide including in America with 1 in 10 individuals having experienced depression. [a]

Depression has become rampant among young adults of college age individuals. [b]

According to the World Health Organization “Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850 000 lives every year. ”

Depression is the 2nd leading cause of  disability in ages 15 – 44 and the 4th leading contributor to years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and loss of productive life due to disability and affects 121 million people worldwide. [c]

Other studies have shown that depression in Mom’s to be increases the risk of both behavioral and sleep disorders in the baby, seems to predispose the child to depression and increases the risk the baby will have asthma.

The following findings were included in the National College Health Assessment Executive Summary from the Spring of 2011

College students reported the following experiences at some time during the past 12 months:

Felt things were hopeless                                                  45. 1%

Felt very lonely                                                                   57. 3%

Felt very sad                                                                      61. 1%

Felt so depressed it was difficult to function                      31. 1%

Felt overwhelming anxiety                                                 50. 6%

Felt overwhelming anger                                                   37. 1%

Seriously considered suicide                                               6. 4%

The above statistics are the result of almost 120,000 surveyed students representing a cross section of society attending 129 different post secondary institutions. Depression is an equal opportunity illness impacting people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

The statistics reflect a generation that does not know how to be happy.

Happiness is not the momentary good feelings one associates with various activities such as receiving a good grade, a smile from that cute co-ed, receiving a long-desired gift, or a pleasant surprise, shopping, a good meal, or other physical pleasures, or any other thing that brings what we call ‘momentary pleasure’. The happiness that Happiness 1st Institute teaches is far more substantial and sustainable than those momentary pleasures. This happiness is deeper and comes from the very way we think about others, about life, and about ourselves. This happiness is not dependent upon outer circumstances or upon factors over which individuals have no control.

For example, a student receiving a poor test grade who has not had the training we provide could have many different negative responses all the way up to and including ‘giving up’ on the class or even on life.

A student receiving a poor test grade who has had the training would be able to see a path to doing better next time. The student would accept full responsibility for the grade but would not crucify him or herself over it. Students who have taken our classes understand that we all learn from failure and within every failure is an opportunity for greater knowledge and success. Perhaps it is that this particular professor’s exams are more difficult than most so more time will need to be devoted to preparation while a negatively focused student might use a broad brush and use the poor grade to paint him or herself as a failure who can’t do anything right.

Likewise, in matters of relationship a student who is negatively focused might take the end of a romantic relationship as there being something inherently wrong with him or her rather than it being just not a good match for them.

Our programs have helped our students overcome depression. It is not that we teach that no improvements are necessary. Quite the contrary, we empower students by teaching them that we all continually improve throughout life but that deciding to improve in an area does not require one to denounce their current state. The best example is a toddler learning to walk. The toddler does not criticize herself for not yet knowing how to walk. The toddler keeps trying until he has mastered the art of walking never doubting that he will succeed.

For some reason much of society stops seeing the progression of improvements throughout life as natural and deems room for improvement as indicative of a flaw rather than room for additional growth. This type of thinking results in negative self-talk that does not serve our higher good and can lead to anxiety and depression.

While we cannot guarantee that a student having completed our training will never experience depression we firmly believe that our training greatly reduces the risk of depression and that it can have a positive impact on those who suffer from depression.

Scientific studies have shown that increasing optimism, which is one of the outcomes of our program, can relieve depression and reduce its reoccurrence and new evidence has been coming in that shows that training like ours can help prevent depression.

An individual who is suffering from depression would need to be somewhat more diligent in applying the tools and techniques that we teach because their thought paths would work against them in the beginning but the gains would have even greater benefit than those experienced by someone who is not depressed. The best thing is that, as they use the tools and techniques, improvements would come right away and continue to increase over time. The processes are not something you have to do for many days, weeks or months before feeling some benefits.

It is our sincere desire that the reports of depression decrease worldwide as the result of the skills and techniques we teach becoming more widely known and understood.

We have an oppotunity to improve the lives of multiple generations by increasing the happiness of young adults now. Let’s get going.

Disclaimer

We cannot and do not recommend anyone suffering from depression forgo traditional forms of help while attending our classes; those decisions are best left to you and your medical providers.

[a] Healthline, What is Depression, Retrieved on December 8, 2011, from http://www. healthline. com/health/depression-overview

[b] National College Health Assessment Executive Summary (Spring 2011), Retrieved on December 8, 2011, from http://www. acha-ncha. org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSummary_Spring2011. pdf

Tartakovsky, M. (2008). Depression and Anxiety Among College Students. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 8, 2011, from http://psychcentral. com/lib/2008/depression-and-anxiety-among-college-students/

[c] World Health Organization/Mental health/Depression, Extracted on December 8, 2011 from http://www. who. int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/