Tag Archive: health

Time to Transform Education

Transform Education

Why Transform Education?

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it. 

While reading peer-reviewed journals that provided pieces of the human thriving puzzle, I kept coming across research demonstrating that when children are taught certain soft skills, the trajectory of their lives improved. Since diverting a child’s trajectory from prison, addiction, and poverty to better results meets my definition of increasing human thriving, I followed the threads. Each research article provides citations to earlier articles and later articles that cite the article are also easy to identify. 

What I learned both thrilled and angered me. It thrilled me because it is very clear that we can end the school-to-prison pipeline, significantly reduce the 1.5 million 17-year-olds who go to jail each year, and improve outcomes in positive ways. We can increase high school and college graduation rates and reduce the mental, physical, and behavioral ravages caused by chronic stress. 

It angered me because the research is conclusive that we now know how to help these children and prevent their suffering and we aren’t doing it globally or even nationally. This upset me so much I dedicated most of my time over the next year to clearly documenting the research and articulating a better way forward. That work culminated in a book titled, Our Children Live in a War Zone: Use the Power of Resilience to Improve Their Lives.

The book is designed to teach parents and teachers state-of-the-art social and emotional management skills so they can, in turn, teach them to children. Since we have not historically taught these skills, just being an adult does not mean an individual understands healthy ways of interacting. The high number of marriages that end in divorce is a clear testament to this truth. When we transform education we transform children’s lives away from poverty, hunger, violence, drugs, and hopelessness.

Children need us to transform education faster

A few schools across the country have implemented programs that teach these skills, although I have not yet seen any that incorporate the latest research about emotions. Even without being as comprehensive as they should be, the results they are attaining are phenomenal. The following video begins with the same quote I often use, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The video is R. Keeth Matheny of Austin, TX, at a Capitol Hill briefing held by Committee for Children, in collaboration with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), on the importance of effective social and emotional learning (SEL) at every stage of education, from early learning through college and career prep.

Extrapolating the from Austin High school data and assuming the same results across America would result in:

  • 24 million additional passing grades
  • 8.6 million fewer discipline referrals in American High Schools
  • 12 million more time-on-task for teachers

In addition to hard data, they also theorized that suicide and severe depression would be reduced. I can attest to that because after I taught a program in a local high school one of the student’s mother’s contacted me to tell me that her son disclosed to her that when I began teaching the class he was planning to die and the class led to his changing his mind. 

Failing 9th grade greatly increases the risk the child will drop out of high school. Failing 9th grade is highly correlated to drop outs. 20% of students currently never finish high school. Students who drop out are:

  • 3 times more likely to be unemployed
  • 4 times more likely to live their lives in poverty
  • 63 times more likely to be incarcerated

We need to transform education and workplace training

According to the video, 40% of employers said high school and college graduates are sorely lacking social and emotional skills, which makes them unready to function well in a job.

Employers have another choice–because social and emotional skills have never been taught in schools so none of your employees have as well-developed skills in that area as they could. When you consider the bickering and worse that often distracts from productive pursuits at work, the savings from increasing employees social and emotional skills can pay significant dividends. One of the benefits would be increased engagement.

It’s time for responsible federal and state policy makers to incorporate evidence-based data in public policy and school curriculums.

I checked on the bill (H.R.4509: Supporting Emotional Learning Act) introduced in 2014 and learned it has been stuck in the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education for nearly two years. Maybe the committee needs members who care about our children. Sitting on legislation that improves lives and saves money in the long-term via crimes not committed, poverty averted, and better mental and physical health is unconscionable. 

What do you think? Why would anyone stall legislation that would improve outcomes of children?

If you want to learn more about the research that supports social and emotional learning and strategies to teach your children or students, you can find everything you need right here.

A link to purchase Rescue Our Children from the War Zone is on the right side of this page. It contains 760 citations supporting the value of social and emotional learning skills and building resilience in children. 

While we’re transforming education, we should also let teachers decide how to run their classrooms and how to teach their students. They are on the front lines and they can read the room far better than someone who is not present. Teachers, like physicians, are paying a heavy price for administrative burdens and rules decreed by people who don’t do the same job. Teacher burnout causes students to lose many good teachers every year and causes teachers physical and mental health to decline. The book I co-authored on Burnout Prevention and Recovery, Resilience and Retention for the health care industry would be of great benefit to teachers as well.

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Understand Your Brain More = Thrive More

When you understand your brain more, you thrive more because your brain affects your perception.

Your perception becomes your reality.

You do not perceive an actual static reality. Two people standing next to one another do not see exactly the same world.

What I refer to as your vivid senses (because you have many senses that are more subtle) hear, see, smell, taste, and feel everything in your environment, but you are not consciously aware of all that data. Between your subconscious awareness and your conscious awareness is a filtering process. Everyone’s filtering process is unique and your filtering process is not static, it continually changes. The process is affected by many things, but there are several main filters that you have the ability to change that impact how you perceive your reality.

There are four main filters that have a tremendous impact on how you experience reality. If they are programmed for success, success comes easily to you. If they are not programmed for success, achieving success is a constant struggle.

One of the ways your filters impact your experience is by looking for things you are used to finding. Unless you change your programming to do something other than that, the filter just keeps sending information to the conscious mind that will feel like the other things you have been aware of.

Ever had a frustrating day only to go home to your family and found yourself frustrated by them. Perhaps in ways you later regretted because you can see that your mood affected your perception of their words and actions? That was the filtering process highlighting what you had been focused on–things that frustrate you.Perfect Rose

Here is a picture of a rose that looks perfect. If you appreciate its beauty, savor its aroma, enjoy existing in a world that can produce such a delightful rose, your filtering process will send other information to your conscious mind that will lead to your feeling appreciation, or savoring the moment. But, if you look closely enough, this rose has a flaw. Some people have programmed their minds so that they don’t see the beauty, they only see the flaw.

If you keep finding pictures with a flaw and focusing on the flaws you are literally training your mind to find exactly that–more pictures with flaws. If you deliberately focus only on what you like in pictures and as soon as you notice yourself finding something that you do not like you deliberately re-focus your attention on what you like, you will re-program your brain to find things you like.

Every brain is programmed. Their program is NOT based on “What serves your interests or desires best.” The programming is impacted by several major factors and what you have been focused on is one of the main factors your unconscious uses to determine which information to make you consciously aware of. All the factors can be consciously controlled or adjusted. The results are well worth the effort it takes.

Every area of your life, from your physical, mental, and behavioral health, your relationships and your level of success and enjoyment in life can be improved by understanding more about how your brain works.

Our programs provide you with the skills you need to reprogram all the main filters that impact every minute of your life so that they better serve your highest good. If you’re doubting that you are consciously unaware of information in your environment, perhaps the following Nose Blind Commercial will help you recognize how common it is for us to be unaware of information our senses detect.

Nose Blind Commercial

The commercial below is highlighting the filtering process making someone “nose blind,” one of many millions of examples of how the filtering process affects our perception of reality.[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDtGFaI27CM[/embedyt]


Stress GREATLY Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

Unless you regularly read Journal Articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, you probably still believe the relationship with food you were taught in school–the one that is most commonly believed.

If you or a loved one struggles with maintaining or attaining your desired weight, you need the rest of the story–the new information that shows that stress affects digestive functions.

If you eat more than you should (calorie wise) when you’re not stressed, your body is more capable of dealing with it and maintaining your weight than if you eat the exact same food when you are stressed. Stress reduces your body to respond to food in healthy ways. Over time, chronic stress can lead to diabetes and other digestive problems.

The same findings have been found in relationship to exercise. When you feel good and you exercise, it does you more good than when you are stressed and exercise.

What we eat changes based on how stressed we are. People are far more likely to choose unhealthy foods when they are stressed–even when they know what they should eat to be healthy and even when they have weight loss goals.

Stress interferes with our ability to stick to our goals.

If you want to be successful in attaining and maintaining your weight where you want it, you can’t ignore the stress in your life.

How do you know if you’re stressed?

Stress and happiness have an inverse relationship. Increased stress equals reduced happiness. Increased happiness equals reduced stress. If you’re not feeling a lot of positive emotion every day, you’re stressed. If you are frequently frustrated, jealous, envious, irritable, angry, depressed, or other emotions that feel worse than hopeful, you’re experiencing chronic stress. The amount is a matter of degree, but the research shows that stress has an immediate negative effect on your digestive, immune, cognitive and central nervous system function that, over time, leads to many chronic diseases.

At Happiness 1st Institute, we teach you how to deal with stress at the root cause, increase psychological flexibility and how to approach goals for the best possible outcome.

Essentially, we help you create the environment you need to be successful.

When corporate wellness programs begin addressing stress before it has manifested in a diagnosable mental illness, we’ll make real progress in preventing chronic diseases before they manifest.

Contact us today to enroll in upcoming classes or to arrange a corporate wellness program for your organization.

 

 

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity


Stressed Employees and Business Owners

Stressed employees and business ownersStressed employees and business owners

Helping Stressed Employees and Business Owners

Most stress reduction techniques taught provide temporary improvements and are dose dependent (you have to repeatedly do them to get the benefit), much like medicines that treat symptoms instead of curing the problem.

Our program teaches skills that create mindsets that are more adaptable and that actually experience less stress than untrained minds in the same circumstances.

The changes become permanent and life is less stressful thereafter.

Lower stress means more engaged and productive employees. This is a competitive edge that keeps increasing.

Because we address stress relief from the root cause, the benefits spread throughout the system (physical, mental, behavioral).

 


Stress Culture to Health Culture

Since the 1970’s, it has been widely recognized that stress is bad for our health. Researchers agree that at least 60% of illnesses and disease are the result of stress.

During the years since the 1970’s we have learned many details about the path stress takes and how it harms our physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Those pathways are helpful in creating pharmaceutical bandaids (which I know are needed by many people today). But, the reason they are needed is because the recommendations for dealing with stress have not changed or advanced much in the last 40 years. Oh meditation and yoga have moved out of the cult or woo woo classifications they once suffered and become more mainstream, but the root of stress is still not being widely addressed.

As Thoreau said,

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

If you substitute stress for evil, I would say,

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of stress to one who is striking at the root.

Happiness 1st Institute exists because I came to understand the root cause of stress and how to eliminate it and recognized the significant benefits to society’s around the world that could come from sharing what I had learned. Unlike much of the advice given today, eliminating the root cause of stress does not require anyone to give up activities they enjoy. In fact, doing so is counter to what reduces stress.

Addressing stress at its root is a perfect example of another old saying, one Ben Franklin believed,

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Addressing stress at its root is what we call Primary Prevention. It prevents the illness or disease from developing in the first place. Stress disrupts numerous functions critical to healthy living including immune function, cognitive function, digestive function and some central nervous system functions. It can also lead to adverse epigenetic changes that turn on genes that lead to adverse consequences. Cumulative stress (both pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy) have adverse impacts on duration of the pregnancy (causing pre-term births) and adverse outcomes including increased asthma, sleep and behavioral problems, and depression in the children.

A recent infographic produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) shows many of the adverse consequences of stress (although their solutions are not Primary Prevention–they address the symptoms of stress instead of the root).

The negative impact of stress on the body begins immediately. If you’re one of the people who doubt this, recall a time when you were nervous. Perhaps that good looking person you’d been hoping to talk to unexpectedly stepped into the elevator with you at the last moment. If that doesn’t do it, imagine you’re 11 years old when it happens. You remember the instantaneous perspiration, the sweaty palms, perhaps the blush that swept across your cheeks. How long did it take to have that reaction in your body? That was stress. Those are signs of stress you can feel immediately. What you don’t feel is the slowing down of your immune function and digestive function or the cognitive constriction of your ability to think clearly (or maybe you did feel that if that person stepping into the elevator made you tongue tied).

The negative effects begin immediately.

Stress Culture to Health Culture

Our bodies are designed to respond to stress and return to a relaxed state but our society’s beliefs and structure do not support that. We are trained to remain in hypervigilant states of worry, fear, and concern. We are trained to live with stressors like frustration, anger, grief, depression, hopelessness, irritability and more rather than deal with the negative emotions as they arise. Many people suppress their emotions. Others have felt them so long it has become their norm and they don’t realize that it is killing them–literally.

To truly move from a culture of stress to one of greater health and wellbeing for everyone we must begin using primary prevention to reduce stress. If we don’t, the epidemic chronic illnesses like Type II diabetes, heart disease, addictions, obesity and numerous social problems like crime will all continue to increase. Stress is the root cause and primary prevention is the only way to avoid the undesired outcomes. It is a significant factor in disparate outcomes, one that can be solved today.

We are designed to deal with stress when we experience the negative emotion. When we do, we thrive. When we don’t, we suffer. So do our relationships, our careers, and our level of happiness. New research has pointed the way to do this without having to give up what we love (or even family members we find difficult to love). We can have far greater control over our stress level than most have ever experienced. That’s what we teach at Happiness 1st Institute. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us for details on upcoming classes.


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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Aging is Optional

For years I’ve said, “Aging is optional.”

I said it before I read the research that demonstrates that our beliefs about aging impact how we age.

Understanding that my personal beliefs about aging affect how I age, I have deliberately looked for examples of what is possible. They’re easy to find when you expect them. I don’t have to look any further than the people in my life to find incredible examples of individuals living well long after most people would expect them to be weak, sickly, and physically compromised.

I came across this beautiful example of an 86-year old lady gymnast today and wanted to share it.

As you expand your belief about how well you can do in your 70’s and beyond, you set yourself up for a better experience. Research shows that how we think we’ll do at certain ages has a tremendous impact on how we actually do at those ages.

Essentially, your beliefs about aging are self-fulfilling prophesies. There is a placebo (or nocebo) effect from your beliefs about aging.

If you dread old age, if you see it as a negative time of life you are setting yourself up for a harder time than you have to have. One of the things we can do at Happiness 1st Institute is help you develop beliefs about aging that allow you not to take the unwanted options.

Who do you know that inspires you to enjoy life longer?

Are your current beliefs about aging serving you?


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


We Cannot See Reality

Does reality seem confusing?

Reality is fluid

We do not see reality. We see a filtered reality. Until this is understood, the rest of what we teach to help you thrive will not be accepted. We are taught that we see reality. We are taught that what we see is the same as what others see. Both of these are wrong. We each see our own unique reality. We merely assume others see the same reality we do.

If your response to this statement is disbelief, it would serve you well to loosen your belief that you perceive reality. This video will help you see that there are instances when you know your perception is not revealing the actual reality to you. The key is to realize that this is always true–it just is not usually as obvious.

Note: Despite the cover picture, this video is suitable for all audiences

After watching the video, ask yourself what other aspects of reality might not be as they seem. Ask yourself if you know the answer. Ask yourself if knowing the truth might help your life be more as you would like it to be.

There are filters that act below the level of conscious thought that greatly effect how your life plays out. They have immediate impacts on your health, relationships, success, and overall well-being. Your life can easily be much better than it is. Improvements come quickly when you learn how to adjust your filters, but they also build over time and continue even after your life is exceeding your current beliefs about what is possible for you. The better it gets, the better it gets.

If you would like information on our programs, please contact us for a list of upcoming programs or checkout the offerings or one of our founders books.

 


Children Can Thrive. Help Them. Learn How.

Children Can Thrive

Let’s focus on the solutions

  It is interesting to note the arguments back and forth about why some students do not thrive.

 Some stating it is the teachers fault if a student does not thrive.

 Some stating it is the lack of an interested adult in the home.

 Let’s get to the root of it. Either could make a huge beneficial difference.

 The true reason many students do not thrive is that they have developed beliefs that they cannot, or that their actions do not matter “Learned Helplessness”, or they have been told often enough that they are ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ or other lies. They have been labeled and are living up to the expectations put upon them. They have been judged as lacking and are living up to those expectations.

 Going backwards and trying to uncover where it originated is a waste of time and effort.

 Where time and effort belongs is in helping students understand that their actions do matter – that their life is not determined by their current circumstances.

 That others opinions do not have to be their own opinion. Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right”. Unfortunately we have ill informed parents and others who will label children and then the child begins to believe the label and perform to that standard.

 Society also does not understand that the happier you are the more intelligent you are. I know many are going to scoff at this statement but read further. Have you, or someone you know, ever been so stressed that you literally could not think?  Perhaps you put your head in your hands and said “Give me a moment, I can’t think”?  There is an example of an individual at a low emotional place not being as intelligent. Intelligence, creativity, and resilience exist along a continuum and increase in step with increases in happiness, positive emotions, optimism and positive expectation. There is a great deal of science behind this statement. Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.’s (UNC – Chapel Hill) book, Positivity, is probably the easiest read on the topic.

 Much of the world views happiness as a fluffy topic and as something that will come after a goal is achieved or as a transitory thing that feels good for a day.

 The happiness I am describing is defined as that deep sense of inner stability, peace, well-being, and vitality that is consistent and sustainable. It is not dependent upon circumstances but upon beliefs, expectations, emotions, and focus. Mindset is powerful.

 Not only does happiness contribute beneficially to the ability to learn but to health, relationships, and success. There are even studies showing that it has a positive impact on reducing crime, alcohol and drug abuse and even teen pregnancy.

 Right now the research on this topic is scattered across many silo’d fields including positive psychology, neuroscience, behavioral theory, sociology, quantum physics, resilience, emotional intelligence and more.

 I have a passion for the topic and have been researching it for years. I have never cared which field had relevant research which has resulted in a connection of the dots in a way that brings the knowledge being gained in many fields together.

 Using techniques to empower students, to help them achieve a positive expectation and focus and ensuring they have skills to bring themselves back to that point if they get a bit off path would make such a tremendous positive impact on their lives and future potential.


The absence of negative emotions ≠ the presence of positive emotions.

The absence of negative emotions  presence of positive emotions.

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

“The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight,” said lead author Julia Boehm, research fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health.

Chronic positive emotions, optimism, and happiness provide benefits that increase vitality and longevity but also benefits that improve relationships and even success.

Over the years I have found that many individuals accept their current emotional state and have no idea how to change it.

They attempt to be stoic and insist they are “OK” but being OK does not afford the health benefits that happiness does. Nor is it healthy for relationships and it does not contribute to the level of success you experience. We are not in a contest to see who can suffer or endure the longest. In the long run there are not prizes for ignoring your emotional state and toughing it out.

Many see weakness in asking for help yet the path to happiness is often not clear and quick fixes seldom work.

It is possible for anyone to enjoy more positive emotions, optimism and happiness if they know the skills and knowledge that helps them. Often skills are given without the knowledge so people give up because of the lack of knowledge. Sometimes the knowledge is given without the requisite skills.

When you have the whole puzzle the path to happiness is easy to navigate and there is truly no end to how happy an individual can become.

Once you are on the right path it becomes easier and easier as if circumstances are bending over backwards to help you. Those days when things are easy and things seem to fall into place easier than they used to is one of the symptoms you will experience continually as you move toward greater happiness. There are scientifically proven reasons for this and if you take the class you will understand those reasons.

The best health benefits are derived from the higher emotional levels which you would experience as things like love, appreciation, joy, enthusiasm, eagerness, interest, passion, awe, inspiration and so forth. If you are in a low emotional place you won’t get there overnight but you can get there and there are health benefits every step along the path. There are also benefits to your relationships and other activities as well.

Contented is not at the highest levels. It can make a good emotional resting place for a while but many people stop there, because feeling content is not a bad feeling, they stop moving toward the better feeling emotions. The trip is so worth while.

Many people have been taught to put others needs before their own and use that as their excuse to ignore their own emotional needs. Yes, you do need to be happy. Why do you think bodies function better when the person living in it is happy?  That evidence is clear and compelling.

So, let’s look at it from the perspective of helping others. The following is based upon scientifically proven benefits of increased positivity.

“When you are happy you are at your best. You are in the best health. You are in the best mood. You are able to think with greater clarity. You are able to see solutions to problems far more readily. You need less from others (pumping up, assistance of all types, etc.). You contribute more by being happy so being happy is a priority for you. When you are happy you contribute to others by inspiring them to happiness. You contribute to others because when you feel great you want to help others feel just as wonderful. Sometimes, when someone feels rotten it makes them feel better to see someone else feel rotten too or see someone who is even worse off then they are. When you are happy it lifts you even higher to help others up and you gain no happiness or relief from their not being in a good place. Minding your happiness is minding your health because when you are happy you will be inclined to make good decisions about your diet and exercise and other habits. Happiness reduces the stress on your body and enables it to more easily maintain or regain its health. Your happiness is good for you and good for the world. Happiness is the path to peace.”

Studies have shown that increased happiness actually reduces racism and increases corporate citizenship.

Aren’t the benefits of happiness the things you want to see in the world?  Healthier people being nicer to one another, family and strangers alike?  Children confident in themselves – not fake pumped up self esteem – but real, they understand to the core of their being that they can be successful, that they can find solutions to problems, that they can decide to pursue their dreams?  Better relationships among people and even peace. In our class you will understand the relationship between peace and happiness.

Interested in our classes?  We are accepting enrollments for new classes now.


Do you Want Better Employees?

Do You Want Better Employees?

 

The benefits of increased happiness include increased intelligence, creativity, emotional intelligence, resilience, and improved health, relationships and well-being.

At Happiness 1st Institute, we know how to teach individuals to increase their level of happiness with tools and techniques that make the increased level of happiness easily sustainable.

All the goals of corporate wellness programs (and much more) can be accomplished by increasing the happiness level of employees.

Many businesses have been using well-known methods to obtain a competitive advantage. New scientific breakthroughs are changing the definition of the best way to gain competitive advantage. At Happiness 1st we use information supported by recent scientific studies to help businesses gain a competitive advantage by developing the most valuable resources that they already have – their employees. Our methods will increase productivity, sales, engagement, and retention while reducing health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover. This can be done with a minimal investment of time and resources, yet the returns are fantastic. This has been shown over and over again in businesses ranging from insurance sales to high tech engineering to law enforcement. The theory of developing employees’ strengths toward a culture of hope, confidence, resilience, optimism and happiness makes sense, and the benefits have been proven by scientific research.

This is not a program that requires managers to offer compliments and be the motivator of employees.

Everyone wants to be happier. Increased happiness in employees confers great benefits on the employer. When an employee begins feeling happier the employee is self-motivated to continue practicing the skills we teach because it feels good. These skills work for anyone willing to do the work. Pessimists can learn to have a more optimistic outlook.

Plato said it best in The Republic when he wrote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” During these challenging economic times, employers are seeking alternative solutions to control rising health care costs in order to maintain market share and profitability while continuing to provide benefits their employees rely upon. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, employee health care costs are rising at a rate of 6.9 percent annually, which is two times the rate of inflation. Health care spending in the United States represents 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the average cost of care for each person in the United States is around $7,900 per person.

Much of the burden for covering the cost of care for employees falls upon employers. In 2008, the annual premium for an employer health care plan covering a family of four was $12,700. This was the first year that the annual employee health care premiums surpassed the gross pay of full-time, minimum wage workers at $10,712.

Other more inventive employers are actively looking for alternative ways to reduce health care costs through a variety of cost cutting methods. Corporate wellness programs are quickly becoming the solution of choice with an average return of $3 for every $1 spent. There are many reasons employers choose to offer employee wellness programs. While the return on dollar spent is an average of $3 the programs are not as effective as they could be.

New scientific findings are causing a paradigm shift that feels as big as the shift from believing the Earth was flat to round. These findings are neon signs pointing to a fairly simple strategy that is scientifically proven to work and achieve the goals hoped for from a corporate wellness program.

What is this shift?  Increased happiness causes:

Improvements in health including fewer illnesses, less severe illnesses when there is illness, and quicker recovery.

  • Significant reductions in absenteeism
  • Significant reductions in turnover
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased clarity of thinking
  • Increased ability to make good decisions and good evaluations of facts

The same employee is literally more intelligent and more creative when they are happier.

The same employee is healthier when they are happier.

The same employee has better relationships with others when they are happier.

Think about how good it would feel to come to work every day and feel good yourself and work with others who feel good. Staying in such an environment would be very attractive to employees.

We love sharing with businesses, organizations, governments, veterans and individuals information about the scientific studies that show that every goal of corporate wellness programs (and then some) is addressed beautifully by increasing the happiness level of employees and that there are proven methods of not only increasing employee happiness levels but sustaining them.

Please visit  Happiness 1st for more information on the science behind happiness and how to enroll in our classes.

Scientists have also shown that happiness can be learned through development of new skills.

The benefits of happiness are too great to list here. Here are some results of increased happiness:

  • Happy sales people do much better than even more qualified but pessimistic sales people in sales and their turnover is lower.
  • One company experienced a 1.5 day per month per employee reduction in absenteeism with 1,000 employees (18000 days a year equivalent).
  • Being happy vs. unhappy contributes more to longevity than smoking status!
  • Intelligence (IQ), creativity, emotional intelligence (EQ), and resilience all increase in tandem with increased happiness.
  • Even when they become sick, happy people recover faster and do not experience as many symptoms as an unhappier person with the same illness.
  • The higher level of emotional intelligence means less time dealing with petty grievances that steal valuable time.
  • Happy people see solutions more than problems.
  • All relationships tend to improve with increased happiness, so the impact at work from turmoil at home lessens.

Imagine working in an environment where employees have learned happiness skills. How difficult would it be to leave such an environment for one where that training had not been provided?

We need many things to make our company one of the leaders that comes out of the decline in a great position to thrive.

We need intelligent leaders with creative solutions and high levels of emotional intelligence.

We need to retain our key employees. Turnover is one of the biggest risks during recovery.

We need competitive edges. Happiness is a huge competitive edge and it increases the chances of developing other creative and inspired competitive edges.

Is it time to lift your company out of the doldrums?

Get Happiness 1st Institute to help you capture these benefits of happiness.


How can employee happiness benefit your business?

Happiness?  What does happiness have to do with your business?

Far more than most have ever imagined.

Happiness provides a solid foundation for success.

Do you wish your employees were smarter or more creative?

Do you long for healthier employees who are at work more often?

Would your life be easier if turnover declined?

Can you imagine a work environment where co-workers get along with one another fairly well?

Do you want your customers to be delighted after encounters with your employees?

Some people are just naturally energizing to be around. Happy employees are likely to be that way.

Happiness is the answer!

Scientists have been studying happiness and found that happiness contributes to success rather than being caused by success.

The same individual is smarter, healthier, more creative, more resilient, and has higher emotional intelligence when he or she is happy than when unhappy.


Positivity Reduces the Risk of Needing Long Term Care

Positivity Reduces the Risk of Needing Long Term Care

For many the fear of being unable to care for oneself is greater than the fear of death itself. Most of us accept that we are not going to live forever but we hope that the end comes in very old age and that it is not preceded by a period where we are not able to care for ourselves or are living in pain.

Science has been studying the benefits of positivity for a few decades now and the findings have clearly shown that a generally positive person, on average, (all other factors being equal) lives an average of 10 additional years than the person who is a generally negative person.

But beyond that, despite living longer, the positively focused individual has fewer years of life with chronic debilitating diseases. 

Isn’t that what we all want?  A long life in which we are able to enjoy living in our bodies?  Blessed with health and vitality?

The purpose of this article is not to depress those who are generally negative and/or pessimistic. Science has also shown that individuals who chose to and who are equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to become more positively focused and optimistic can do so. 

It is not something that an individual can generally just decide to do and succeed because their neuro-pathways have been trained in the habits of thought they have been thinking. But it is not hard to change when the knowledge and tools are known. It is also a very fun thing to do. Perhaps, for someone who has been negatively focused, the most fun thing they have ever experienced.

Science has also shown that the absence of negative emotions is not the same as the presence of positive emotions. It is the presence of positive emotions that is associated with the health and well-being benefits.

Decreasing negativity even a little improves health and well-being, but the further the individual progresses toward feeling positive emotions the greater the benefits they derive.

It does not matter how many attempts an individual has made to be more positive they can do it with the right tools. Most programs do not provide all the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed. There are pitfalls along the way that will cause someone who dos not know about them to feel they cannot become more positive or that they have failed. The trick is recognizing the pitfalls and saying to yourself “Oh yeah, I knew this might happen, it does not mean I cannot do it. I have tools to help me get past this hurdle and when I do it will be wonderful.” 

We have continuously searched for new information across many disciplines including positive psychology, neuroscience, resilience, sociology, emotional intelligence, quantum physics, psychoneuroimmunology, and behavioral science over many years. Our confidence in the tools and knowledge we have woven together is such that our classes come with a money back guarantee.

Most people do not succeed because they try one tool and then another or learn one piece of the puzzle and apply it but do not see the results they desire so they give up. Perhaps making multiple attempts over years but not using a masterfully developed plan.

Life is better in so many ways when you are positively focused, optimistic, and happy. Every day contains more life, energy, and vitality. 

Living in a negative and pessimistic state feels like having a thorn in the bottom of your foot and just putting up with it, allowing it to impact your experiences. You don’t realize how good it was without the thorn until it is removed and you wonder “Why didn’t I do this sooner”?

Increased positivity reduces the risk of your needing long term care but it does so much more. Relationships are better. Your immune system functions better. You thinking is clearer and your level of creativity increases. Success is easier to attain. In another study the incomes of optimistic and pessimistic individuals were tracked from college and for 20 years after college. The earnings of the more optimistic individuals were significantly more 20 years later.

While we cannot guarantee that you will never need a nursing home if you increase your level of positivity the science is clear that it reduces the risk.

How do you want your grandchildren and great grandchildren to remember you?  Positive and able to enjoy life with them or ?

If you have a daughter do you know that the daughter often pays a heavy price caring for her parent(s) who need care?  Often giving up her own career aspirations and sometimes attempting to balance the care of a parent while still raising her own children. If you won’t do it for yourself, will you do it for your daughter?

The sooner you begin this journey the sooner you will begin enjoying life more. Even if you are young, there are benefits to your children who are living at home to your increased positivity. We discuss these in greater detail on our website.


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


Two Kinds of Happiness

Two kinds of happiness

There are two kinds of happiness. One is transitory and the other is sustainable.

The transitory type of happiness is the one many people think of when they think of happiness. Our advertising community promotes this type of happiness. The current Coco-Cola advertisement  is one example. The ad conveys that if you drink Coca Cola you will be happy.

Another ad campaign indicates that traveling to Costa Rica will make you happy.

Yet another ad indicates that having the right shoes will make you happy.

Because I am tuned into and understand happiness I notice this type of misleading advertising often.

The message people receive is to look outside themselves for happiness. That what they own, or do, is what will make them happy. There is nothing wrong with desire. It is natural and provides a natural, intrinsic form of motivation. It is our perception that achieving the desire is the basis of our happiness that prevents so many from ever achieving more than momentary bits of happiness.

Happiness, true happiness, provides life promoting benefits to all our bodily functions: brain, immune system, chemical balance and so much more. It is far too important to allow these misleading and damaging infomercials for momentary pleasure to continue.

It is true that a new car will make you happy, for an afternoon (maybe even for a week). But this type of happiness requires constant care and feeding. It is actually a prison. It can only be sustained with constant attention.

Research supports this. Even big life events such as your own wedding or a long awaited promotion provide only transient happiness.

We ask ourselves, is that all there is?

The empty feeling that accompanies the disappearance of the transient happiness, especially after achievement of a long sought prize, can be devastating.

Fortunately, there is a different type of happiness. This second type of happiness is sustainable without the need to constantly feed it with new achievements, acquisitions and relationship highs.

Those things help maintain it but this second type of happiness is more about how an individual perceives life. It about whether the glass is half full or half empty but with a deep understanding and deliberate choice to look on the bright side. Anyone, even life long pessimists, can learn to view life more optimistically.

Why would you want to do this?

Well, first and foremost, life is just more fun and feels better when you do. Isn’t that why you do everything you do, because you believe you will feel better if you do it (or in some cases if you do not do it)?  You want that promotion because you believe you will feel better if you have it than if you do not have it. You want the new car because that feels better than driving an unreliable old car. It is at the root of all your decisions, whether conscious or not.

But there are many more benefits. The last 20 years some scientists have turned their attention to studying human thriving. The findings have astounded them and are great news for us. Positive emotions, optimism, and happiness confer tremendous benefits in the form of improved health and immune function, better relationships and greater success. Information about these benefits and scientific citations supporting them are available on our website, Happiness1st.com.

Learning how to develop and maintain the sustainable type of happiness is fun and easy with the right knowledge and tools.

Jeanine Joy is the Founder and President of Happiness 1st Institute. We teach the skills that lead to sustainable happiness–the kind that can extend your life and more importantly, the number of healthy years in your life.


The Power of Appreciation

Is Happiness Wrong?

The Power of Appreciation

At this time of the year I often wonder if putting aside a single day a year for Thanksgiving serves us. I find that a life where I look for things to appreciate every day is so much richer and fuller than when I used to focus on that activity only on the 4th Thursday in November when Thanksgiving is practiced in the USA.

When we focus on things to appreciate each day many factors aid us in their discovery. The very way our brain is structured ensures that we see more of what we look for. This means that when we look for things to appreciate we see them – in our families, in our friends, in our communities, in our world and in ourselves. This one act, appreciation, is a very high emotional state that enriches the life of anyone who makes it a habit. Love and appreciation are so close emotionally they are hardly discernable one from another. A conscious decision to appreciate can lead to a life that is more wonderful than can be imagined by someone who has not done so.

While it is lovely to have a day that is focused on thanksgiving, to enjoy family, friends, and feasting; it is far more wonderful to appreciate each and every day.

What can be appreciated?  There is so much. It is everywhere. Right now I can hear the birds singing outside. Their song is lovely. That takes me to thoughts of appreciation that I live somewhere that allows me to hear the sounds of nature. Right now my daughter’s puppy is nestled against my legs enjoying just being close to me – something she demonstrates daily. That brings me to thoughts about how her puppy wakes each day with enthusiasm and joy. She reminds me to awaken with that same amount of enthusiasm and eagerness for the day ahead.

My thoughts of appreciation turn to those closest to me, my partner, my children and my closest friends. There are so many aspects of them to appreciate. The warmth and comfort of my home is something I appreciate each day especially like now, when the sunshine is flowing through the windows.

Thoughts of appreciation invariably bring me to a conversation with a bank president I was coaching a few years ago and when I suggested a practice of consciously appreciating three things every day he asked (in the midst of the financial downturn), “Can I start with just one?  It is rather hard to find three things to appreciate right now.”  I responded by asking him if he had food on his table when he sat down to dinner the previous night. Of course, the answer was yes. Then I asked if he had a table that his plate sat upon. It becomes obvious that we are surrounded by things we can appreciate if we make that choice.

Our society has been trained to appreciate the “big” things. Things like our team winning the championship when there are so many things to appreciate on the way to the championship. Every game there is new knowledge gained, encouragement and supportive words are offered to one another. Skills are honed. Lessons are learned. Life goes on in the background of the game – babies born, relationships beginning or deepening; all of these have aspects to appreciate.

What exists in your life that you can appreciate?  Make a decision to deliberately find at least three things to appreciate every day between now and the end of 2012 and see how different (better) your life feels. See how your relationships deepen and every day seems to hold more blessings.

This is not about wearing rose colored glasses. It is not that you won’t see something that is not as you desire it to be. It is seeing with eyes that look for the good instead of eyes that look for the flaws. Both realities exist and are accurate. It is the stance of the perceiver that makes the difference.

Some say it is not realistic to have a positive focus but let’s be real about that. If there is something, say a relationship, where 99% of it is working perfectly, brilliantly and beautifully but 1% is out of whack – is it realistic to look at 1% and assert that the whole is broken?  Or is it more realistic to look at the 99% that is working wonderfully and believe that the 1% is something that can be addressed and does not ruin the 99% that is working.

Deliberately deciding to be in a state of appreciation does not mean you ignore and do not deal with things that need tending. It does mean you do not color your whole life with the outlook that because there is one thing wrong everything is wrong.

The 1%/99% can be applied to any area of life – health, relationships, career, home, body, vacations, etc.

We can enjoy the journey even when the road is bumpy and rutted if we make a decision to look for things that are good during the journey.

Many have been trained to see life in ways that make the journey far less enjoyable than it could be. The same journey can be heaven for one and hell for another – their perspective makes the difference.

Our programs are designed to make the journey not only more enjoyable but understandable. The journey to a better-feeling life can be easier than you’ve ever imagined.

Contact Us  for information on upcoming programs or to be the first to learn the details of our new portable CD programs coming soon.

You can have the life of your dreams.

Please consider sharing this with your friends and family. You never know who you may help by passing it on. It is a random act of kindness that will ripple outward.

Comments are welcome.


Senseless Tragedies: Prevention

Corporate wellness

Root Cause of Senseless Tragedies

Prevention: One person at a time

 

This publication represents the first installment in Happiness 1st Institute’s series of White Papers on the importance of understanding emotions. The papers in the series are intended to offer plain-English descriptions of the foundational elements of the importance of understanding emotions, as well as insights and practical steps you may consider for incorporating the concepts within your own organization or life. In the following pages, you will find a discussion of concepts necessary for understanding emotions an integral part of managing their impact. We believe application of these concepts will help create what we consider the epitome of enlightened emotional management.

The subject was the focus of my thesis and my later book based on my thesis, Is Punishment Ethical? We have the ability to stop crimes before they occur, before anyone suffers because of them and before someone irrevocably changes their life into one where they will be incarcerated. Why aren’t we doing it? Let’s do it. Step 1: Learn about the solution until you see it as clearly as I see it.

Keep in mind that the application of these concepts is new information for most. The study of human thriving is a relatively new area for scientific discoveries as prior efforts focused more upon decreasing the impact of problems instead of enhancing potential. This addresses the root cause of many unwanted things by creating an environment of thriving in which those undesired elements cannot flourish. Most current programs – for health, mental health, societal problems, relationship problems are directed at treating symptoms. This is directed at the root cause.

Open communication is a key characteristic of a educating others on these concepts. Consider sharing this whitepaper with other executives, board members, and key managers in your organization as well as important people in your life and the lives of your children. The new understanding of emotions has the potential to beneficially impact the world. The more information that is shared the faster those benefits can be enjoyed by people around the world.

When actions can affect human well-being or change the world, it’s not business as usual. New research in one field often takes years to reach professionals in other fields. The information about emotions coming out of may areas of science have the potential to positively impact health and well-being around the world, as well as many social issues including substance abuse, teen pregnancy, crime, recidivism rates, productivity, divorce rates and depression. We believe it is contains the keys to peace.

The issues and concepts outlined herein should provide an excellent starting point for a crucial dialogue on enhancing your organization’s understanding of emotions. For additional information, visit www.Happiness1stInstitute.com.

We are available to provide classes, private consultations as well as coaching services and collaboration with schools, prisons and non-profits.

LabelsMohawk Boy with Aerosol Can

Humans label by characteristics, behavior, and appearance. We then apply judgments based upon the labels we assign to others and ourselves.

 

Labels save time and help us navigate life but they can also greatly diminish outcomes.

Individual behavior varies largely due to the current emotional state of the individual. When we judge based on behavior without an understanding of the impact of emotional state on behaviors, individuals at lower emotional states tend to be judged harshly and their potential greatly underestimated.

For example, the same individual feeling despair would not respond to the same situation the way he or she would when happy.
Impact of Emotional State

In order to see the true potential in others the link between emotional state and behavior must be understood and considered during our interactions.

An individuals current emotional state has significant impacts on all of the following:

·         Behavior ·         Intelligence ·         Emotional Intelligence
·         Health ·         Well-being ·         Resilience
·         Relationships ·         Motivation ·         Creativity
·         Decisions (including lifestyle, i.e., diet, exercise, alcohol, drugs, and risky behavior)

 

In general, you can assume that someone behaving in undesirable ways has negative emotions that have not been responded to in of the three constructive methods.

The best response to most negative emotion in modern society involves ‘Right Responses[A] (RRs). This involves some action or a deliberate and conscious change in mindscape.

Emotions provide information to guide us. The other two appropriate responses are Fight (non-violent assertive resistance) or Flight. Suppressing or denying emotions is dysfunctional and leads to many other problems.

Ignoring a negative emotion is just as unhealthy as putting your hand on a hot stove and leaving it there to burn while ignoring the pain inflicted. Pain is information that tells us to take some action. Likewise, emotions are guidance that helps us recognize unhealthy thoughts or circumstances.

If we are judging an unhappy person based upon their behavior we are not seeing their potential. When we see their potential we are more likely to inspire them to achieve more of their potential. Potential is a terrible thing to waste.

In general, emotional states can be defined (broadly) with the following feelings:

Emotional Guidance Scale (EGSc)

Sweet Zone

·         Joy ·         Appreciation ·         Freedom
·         Empowered ·         Love ·         Awe
·         Passion ·         Enthusiasm ·         Eagerness
·         Happy ·         Positive Expectation ·         Belief
·         Inspired ·         Trust ·         Faith
·         Optimism ·         Serenity ·         Satisfaction
·         Fulfilled

Hopeful Zone

·         Hopefulness ·         Gratitude

Blah Zone

·         Contentment ·         Boredom ·         Pessimism
·         Apathy

Drama Zone

·         Frustration ·         Irritation ·         Impatience
·         Overwhelmed ·         Disappointment

Give Away Zone

·         Doubt ·         Worry ·         Blame
·         Guilt ·         Discouragement

Hot (Red) Zone

·         Anger ·         Revenge

Powerless Zone

·         Hatred ·         Rage ·         Jealousy
·         Insecurity ·         Fear ·         Unworthiness
·         Grief ·         Depression ·         Despair
·         Powerlessness ·         Learned Helplessness ·         Guardedness
·         Hopelessness

 

Emotions and Thoughts

Emotions are the response to thoughts. This fact is easily demonstrated by taking someone through a guided visualization of scenes designed to elicit emotions. As the scene changes the emotional state changes.

There are actually three levels of emotions. The most basic are felt below conscious thought. For example, if the hairs on the back of your neck stand up because of a danger you have not yet consciously been aware of that is the most basic level.

The second level consists of simple emotions that come in response to actual thoughts. For example, fear is one such emotion.

The third level is also emotions that come as the result of conscious thoughts but the thoughts are more complex, the responses are not necessarily inborn responses but trained by external third parties (parents, church, society, teachers, etc.). For example, shame. A baby and small child have no shame about their body when they are naked. This emotion is taught by third parties and would be considered a complex emotion.

Emotions are information that we are designed to be acted upon. When third party imposed negative emotions do not provide a path to better feeling emotions they set the stage for all sorts of problems including behavioral, emotional (See DSM), and health. We were not designed to suffer negative emotions on a long-term basis and when we endure them we do suffer.

Emotional Set Points

Emotional set points impact how an individual will feel in response to stimulus. For example, someone who is experiencing a lot of frustration will find more things that are frustrating in new circumstances and a person with a generally hopeful attitude will notice aspects they find generally hopeful in new situations.

Reticular Activating System (RAS)

The emotional set point is assisted by the Reticular Activating System (RAS) Filter in their brain. The RAS  Filter sifts external input based on filters such as:

  1. Beliefs held by the individual
  2. Expectations of the individual
  3. Emotional set points of the individual[B]
  4. Focus of the individual

This filter only passes some information to the conscious brain and filters out a great deal of information that our senses record. This is beneficial because otherwise we would be overloaded with too much information.

However, the filters have often been programmed in ways that do not serve the individual well.

Beliefs & Limiting Beliefs

For example, if someone has a limiting belief the filter will keep information from passing to their conscious brain, thus, their ability to overcome the limiting belief is blocked or minimized.

Many individuals RAS filters are impacted by a belief that their actions will not make a difference. This condition has been termed “Learned Helplessness.” Individuals with this condition will not take actions that others (who do not hold the same limiting belief) clearly see would make a difference for the better in their life experience. They literally don’t see some beneficial actions as possibilities because their filter holds back the information. Even if they see the actions as possible their RAS filter does not allow them to imagine the potential benefits of the positive actions the way someone in a more hopeful mindset could. The RAS filter does not allow the information that conflicts with the current beliefs, expectations, and emotional set point to flow to the conscious mind. The filter does not do this out of malice or because the person lacks worthiness or societal value. The RAS filter is unbiased in that way. The belief that their actions will not make a difference results in the filter not placing opportunities (or their potential beneficial outcomes) in their conscious mind.

Learned Helplessness can apply to life in general or to a specific subject or subjects. For example, someone who does well in one area may feel paralyzed in another . This indicates that on that topic they have developed a belief that their actions will not matter.

The detrimental impact of learned helplessness are often seen in long-term poverty, addictions, and remaining in dangerous relationships.

Learned Helplessness is an example of being at the lowest end of the Emotional Guidance Scale. This belief can be changed. When the belief changes the individual will begin seeing the opportunities. The potential for positive change is amazing.

There are as many limiting beliefs as there are individuals. The best way to overcome them is to decide what beliefs would serve you best, not to try to figure out what beliefs may be limiting to you.

The filtering effect results in your conscious mind not receiving information that contradicts your beliefs so it is difficult for you to identify your own limiting beliefs. Reading inspiring books such as “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz or “Unlimited Power” by Anthony Robbins can help identify beliefs that could be beneficial to positive motion forward. A contemporary book that is good is “Infinite Possibilities” by Mike Dooley.

Another technique is to write about your life and then ask someone else to read what you have written and help you identify limiting beliefs.

One key to identifying limiting beliefs is to look for statements with “but”. I want to, “but”, followed by some reason the individual believes he or she is limited and cannot do as desired.

Many people will argue for their limitations quite vehemently. It is best not to point out limiting beliefs unless someone is asking as they will just take a stronger position in defense of what their life has shown them to be true. If they do not understand the role of their RAS filter they won’t understand why they see so much evidence supporting their position even though their position is only true for them because of their belief. Those with different beliefs have different experiences.

Expectations

Expectations will also impact what the RAS filter allows through to the conscious mind. This has a tremendous impact on perception of others. For example, if one has formed a negative impression of an individual, he will expect to see behaviors that reflect his negative impression. It will be difficult for him to see progress, especially in the initial stages of change.

Perhaps the best advantage of understanding that our expectations color how we see others is that, once we understand this, we can see people clearly. Instead of seeing people as colored by our previous experience, we allow ourselves to develop new expectations and we will be able to see others in a different light.

If you have defined someone or something (to yourself) by their potential, your expectation (filter) will look for evidence of becoming more of who they can be. Whereas, if you have defined them (to yourself) as someone with bad behavior your filter will look for further evidence of bad behavior and ignore improvements or change.

Emotional Set Points

The emotional set point of the individual will impact what gets through the RAS filter. The filter trusts that you are intelligent and deliberately determining your focus. So, in essence, if you are frustrated often (by traffic, by co-workers, by your family, friends, and house, by spilling the coffee or tripping on something, etc.) your filter says “Oh, she/he wants to feel frustration. Look here …. here is something else that is frustrating. Oh, and look here, this is also frustrating.”  Again, there is no malice. Your filter assumes you understand that you get more of what you focus upon.

Let’s take an example of this. Two individuals can go to the same restaurant, have exactly the same food, prepared in the same way to their specifications, even sit in the same place and have the same server. One who has been focused on enjoying life can have a wonderful time. The one who has been predominately frustrated will find things about the experience that are frustrating that the individual focused on enjoying life does not see (because their filter does not highlight the things that are frustrating).

The ‘big deals’ will still show up. This is not about burying ones head in the sand. It is about, however, having a positive bias on life. When you expect things to go well your filter will show you evidence of things going well. Is it a ‘big deal’ if your waitress takes two extra minutes to refill your water glass?  If your focus is on enjoying life you may not even notice until she is there pouring the refreshing water – you will notice in time to thank her. If you are living in frustration you will notice that your water glass is getting low and as soon as it is empty you will feel frustration that it has not been replenished.

This is just an overview of how the various factors impact the filter.

Emotional State – Impact on Behavior

When you understand that higher emotional states equate to more desirable behaviors you will understand the importance of focusing upon helping the person move to higher and higher emotional states. Punishments tend to keep people at low emotional states and progress is very slow, if it happens at all. Helping someone with undesirable behavior feel better goes against what almost everyone has been taught from a young age. On the other hand, when you look at how things really unfold you will understand that this is the only path to permanent improvement and I will even say, eradication of much of the socially unacceptable behaviors (in time when this is understood by the masses).

Regrets & Self-criticism

Often the greatest punishments come in the form of negative self-talk.

While it is good to have a conscious about our own behaviors,  understanding that we re-create ourselves throughout life and being self-critical about past mistakes just keeps us from moving forward.

When I encounter someone who has deep regret over a past decision I often ask them “If you were in that situation right now would you make the same decision?”. The answer is frequently an adamant “no!”.

 

My response is then “Clearly you are no longer the same person who made that decision/mistake. Why punish your current self for who you used to be?  The person you are today would not do that action so why punish the person you are today?”

I believe fully understanding this not only provides relief from self condemnation but inspires others to want to continue forward motion and become even more.

Although it is a subject for another paper, long-term guilt and regret have negative health consequences.

“Higher” or “Ideal Self”

We all have a “Higher Self” or an “Ideal Self”. We create this self as we live and make decisions about who we really want to be. If we are mean to someone we create a “Higher Self” that is nicer. If someone is mean to us we create a “Higher Self” that others are nicer to. This Higher or Ideal Self” calls us. The Higher Self has achieved all the dreams we have dreamed and our job is to move in the direction of the Higher Self we have created through the living of our life. The “Higher Self” is not a stagnant ‘ideal’. It is ever evolving as we experience life. The “Higher Self” is unique to each of us. No two of us want the same exact things although there are many commonalities.

This differences in individual desires is another area where greater understanding would serve us well. We perceive the actions of others through our own lenses. If our dream is to be married to the same partner for 50+ years we may not be able to understand the perspective of another who chooses not to marry. Understanding that we each have unique desires and perspectives and that this is a wonderful thing would help not only personal relationships but national relationships. We can desire what we desire (we actually can’t help but desire what we desire) because our life has shown us that is what we believe is best for us. However, when you look for someone else to validate your desires and dreams you are asking if your desire and or dreams satisfies their perspectives which really have nothing to do with your own.

Where we are the same is that the higher we get on the EGS the better our behaviors become from the perspective of treating others well.

Violent criminals sometimes appear happy at their own actions but what is being witnessed is a sense of relief they feel in moving up the scale from somewhere in the vicinity of despair (which feels totally powerless) to somewhere like revenge where some of their power has been taken back. Their seemingly positive emotions are not joy, appreciation, or love. They are a sense of relief.

It is not necessary to commit violence in order to move up through the hot (red) zone and stabilize oneself at higher emotional set points. In fact, violence does not usually happen until they have tried to move up and someone or society has sent them back down, repeatedly.

It is quite possible to move up from despair and hopelessness through anger, rage, and revenge just using thoughts. Actions are not necessary to move up the scale. A guide in this process is often helpful.

It may seem that I am blaming those who have held others down or pushed them back down for their resulting violent behaviors. In actuality, I am not interested in trying to figure out who is to blame. Someone taught the person that pushed them back down beliefs that punishing them and limiting their power was the right way to act and the person who taught them learned it from another and so on back through time.

Your higher self says “Yes You Can” and you can verify this by thinking (and believing) “I can” and feel your emotional response to it. Your emotional response will feel better than it will when you think and feel “I can’t”

                         Yes, I can!

A Better World

My interest is in a better world for everyone going forward. I cannot impact or change the past but I can impact and change the future.

What is clear is what has been done in the past has not worked well for many members of the human race.

Understanding how our emotions impact our behavior and focusing on helping one another reach and sustaining ourselves at higher emotional levels will have a tremendous positive impact on the future.

Success requires that we set our intentions on the loftier goal of creating a better world and cling less to the ‘need’ to have been right in our opinions and judgments in the past.

Celebrate knowing new knowledge rather than regreting what you once did not know. Everyone has always done the best they could in the moment. Even when ‘the best in the moment’ is not good, it was the best possibility for them in that moment. Their best in other moments could be better.

There is never a time in this life when we know everything. Like children who gain new knowledge as they learn to walk, we are continuously gaining new knowledge as we live and are exposed to new concepts, ideas, experiences, and scientific discoveries. Embrace the new knowledge and leave any regrets for what you once did not know in the past. If you know enough to regret something now the person you are also knows better than that person you used to be knew. Love who you are and who you are becoming.

Benefits of Increased Positivity

When individuals reach a sustainable place in the Sweet Zone one of the first things almost everyone does is exhibit a desire for others to also enjoy that sort of emotional stability.

There are many processes to help individuals move up and to stabilize at higher emotional set points. At Happiness 1st Institute we teach over 50[C] processes to help individuals manage their own emotional set points.

We are not speaking of transient forms of happiness that are usually based upon some event, possession or other person. We are speaking of a type of happiness that provides a deep sense of inner stability, peace, well-being, and vitality that is consistent and sustainable. This sort of happiness is available to anyone who gains a greater understanding of self.

In addition to the behavioral benefits to society, there is a great deal of research that supports the benefits of happiness for individuals, their family, friends, and society in general. These include: happiness leads to greater success (Harvard Study), greater longevity (Nun study), improved health (too many studies to list – see our website for many citations and examples), better relationships of all types (again, too many studies to list), higher earnings (too many studies to list), lower crime and substance abuse[D], and increased intelligence and creativity (especially see Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.’s work and her “Broaden and Build” theory in either her research or her book, Positivity).

The type of happiness we are talking about is different. It is being who we are authentically, at our core, connected to our Higher Self and focused upon becoming as much like the Higher Self we have created as we can. This type of happiness increases resilience and gives us confidence to pursue our dreams. It does not require continual happiness but the knowledge, desire, and sureness that you can easily and quickly return to that state using skills and knowledge is always present. You are in control of you and your responses to life.

Purpose of Emotions is Guidance

Emotions are guidance. They let you know whether you are moving in the direction of becoming more like your “Higher Self” or away from who you have decided you want to be.

Think of it like the children’s game of finding a lost object where clues of ‘you’re getting warmer” or “you’re getting colder” are given and it becomes simple to follow your guidance. Positive emotions mean you are moving in the right direction and negative emotions indicate you are moving away from your goal.

Appreciate the emotions for the guidance they are.

The ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is a view of ourselves at our best having achieved our greatest (believable) potential. This ‘Ideal self’ taps our passions, our values, and our past achievements.

“A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.”

~ Marcus Aurelius

“There is nothing noble about being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”

~ Hindu Proverb

This ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is different from the ‘ought self’ that is the construct of things you believe that you should or ought to do based on expectations and requirements of others.

The ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ motivates you from within. The ‘ought’ self is using external criteria to motivate and may or may not be in alignment with your true goals.

What is the difference between your ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ and who you usually are in your day to day interactions?  The ‘gap’ has a lot to do with what you believe you are capable of being. There is always a gap because the ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is a moving target and this is a good thing. Some of the greatest athletes of all time focused on moving toward their ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ and continued to improve even when they were great. The ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is a self-created self that is the best you can imagine being in any given moment. As long as you are moving in a direction that is closing the gap you can feel joyful.

Take the idea of the ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ and then look at the EGS. You will be able to easily see that the ‘Ideal or Higher Self’  is calling everyone up the scale. Our ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ lives at the high end of the scale, loving and appreciating.

You will also see that the higher you go on the scale the more empowered you feel. The lower you are on the scale the more powerless you feel.

When you feel more empowered you can often see many paths to your goals (which is why science has found that

individuals are more creative and intelligent when they are happier) – their filter has been set with a greater belief in their abilities. Therefore, they see more ways to achieve their goals.

When someone is held down, either by society or their own limiting beliefs the pull

to regain some of their power and to move up the scale gets larger and larger. When the only path(s) that are visible to the individual are ones that society abhors, they will take those paths if and when that pull becomes stronger than any resistance they have to those actions.

At the lower levels often the only path visible that will allow the individual to regain some of their personal power is a path that would never be chosen if they saw another path.

The above point is so important for understanding. Because of the feelings of being powerless the path(s) to regaining some power seem very limited. Perhaps they have tried repeatedly to regain some power in more acceptable ways but have not been understood so they were pushed back down. Over time this would result in a belief that those more socially acceptable paths are not the way because they did not work. As that happens repeatedly the paths that remain open become more appealing. Paths that would never have been considered if the socially acceptable paths had not been blocked begin to seem like the only option. Feelings of desperation begin to work on the individual until they become causative to  actions. They do feel relief in those actions even when the consequences can be potentially terrible.

When society begins helping individuals move from feelings of powerlessness to better feeling places, rather than pushing them back down (because they are easier to handle in depression, despair, and helplessness than in anger or revenge) we will see massive positive changes in our crime rates. Eventually we will have the nice problem of trying to figure out what to do with all the excess capacity in our incarceration facilities.

We will see thriving among those who previously were thought to have no hope. We will see the gap for those children who today still seem unable to achieve begin to close as we help them overcome learned helplessness.

We will see massive amounts of post traumatic growth. The individuals who have come from disempowered situations who learn how to manage their own place on the EGS will be huge beneficiaries of post adversarial growth. By their experiences they have created a “Higher Self” that is far greater than the one created by someone who has lived a mild life. When they understand how to move in the direction of closing the gap consistently and deliberately we will be amazed and delighted.

Emotions are literally guidance from one of our senses. The concept of ‘five senses’ is a fallacy. We have far more than five. New research from Harvard, courtesy of the brilliant mind of Katherine Peil, and ten pages of cross disciplinary scientific research cited in her paper, Emotion: A Self-regulatory Sense, demonstrates clearly that our emotions are a sense. In fact, her position is that emotion is our oldest sense and she uses molecular biology and the biophysical processes of living systems to lead us step-by-step through this idea.

Our emotions are output from a hitherto unrecognized sense. In fact, the emotional sense is present even in simple organisms. It appears the function of the basic ‘negative’ emotions are information that helps us keep our bodies safe. The function of the positive emotions is to point us toward self-development and well-being.

The difference between the simple organisms and most humans is that they actually listen to and respond to their emotional sensory output.

Humans, on the other hand, have a tendency to ignore emotions. to suppress them, and to suffer the negative consequences of doing so in lives that are not as robust as they could be.

There is no benefit to us in ignoring the output from our emotional system, it is providing information which will improve our lives if we act upon it appropriately. Ignoring output from the emotional system leads to senseless tragedies.

Ignoring negative emotional output is no different than ignoring pain from our sense of touch. We would not put our hand on a hot stove and notice that our hand was burning and leave it there to continue to burn. When we ignore or suppress negative emotions it is no less harmful to our well-being than leaving a burning hand on a hot stove.

Emotions are information designed to guide us.

Proper Response to Emotions

The best response to most negative emotion in modern society involves ‘Right Responses[E] (RRs). This involves some action or a deliberate and conscious change in mindscape.

In an early version of K. T. Peil’s paper (Global Advances in Health and Medicine, March 2014), she stats “the modern behavior toolkit includes a creative approach response as well as avoidant reactions to emotional distress. When feeling out of balance, we can take flight or fight in defense, or we can capitalize upon our neural endowments, stay in approach mode and correctively “right” the problematic agent,  Indeed, the RR should be the first choice reaction and constitute the greatest percentage of all corrective responses. But, if despite such efforts, unacceptable environmental conditions persist over time, then more assertive and aggressive (yet non-hostile) confrontational “fight” responses become appropriate, until finally a “flight” to more habitable and just environments becomes the only viable options. But whether the situation dictates a Right, Flight, or Flight response, the primary objective is to immediately identify and reduce the internal or external environmental conditions that are triggering the distress in order to self-preserve.”

Emotions are guidance and we were never designed to tolerate negative emotions for longer than it takes to complete our corrective action. That is why the many benefits of positivity are coming to light as we study positive emotions. We were designed to feel good. We were also designed to be good, which we are when we feel good.

Societal systems designed to make us feel bad and maintain that negative state are fighting against our very nature. These same systems literally create the very undesired behaviors we want to avoid.

Right Responses can be taught with knowledge and skill to become the default mode of response. Happiness 1st Institute focuses upon doing exactly that in our classes.

Morals and Values

Morals and values do have a place in the structure of things. Someone with a strong moral fiber who is repeatedly pushed to the low end of the EGS may choose options other than violence against others. Suicide is one of the options that can be more palatable to such an individual (slow or fast – in other words drugs and alcohol or those actions we currently call suicide). There are so many variations that influence the path(s) that will become acceptable and there is really no reason to analyze them extensively. Our time is much more productively spent understanding how to help individuals move up the scale where the subject of what path they would choose from a position of powerlessness is irrelevant.

Substance Abuse

In most cases, drugs and alcohol begin as a way to feel better. Individuals who know how to feel good by managing their own place on the EGS tend to drink far less. I have a large social network of such individuals and often vacation with them. Drugs and alcohol are not a big factor in our fun for the vast majority of us. We are high on life.

Drugs and alcohol are a form of self-medication. Whether addiction becomes an issue or not, learning to consciously and deliberately respond appropriately to emotional guidance can help any individual make healthier choices.

Peer Pressure

I can hear protests “What about peer pressure?”. Think about it?  Isn’t giving in to peer pressure an attempt to feel better?  To feel more accepted?  To feel a part of something more?

Emotion can affect decisions about risk-taking in all age groups, not just adolescents, the emotion doesn’t necessarily have to be triggered from the decision situation itself even, for example. if you’re angry about an argument, you might later drive too fast on the highway.[F]

Our emotions provide guidance but what has been happening for a very long time is that the children (who are born knowing how to be joyful) are taught to pay attention to pleasing others instead of following their natural guidance. Parents, teachers, ministers, and peers say “Do this so I will feel better” and because the pressure is intense they eventually begin using others as their barometer about how to behave. This is very problematic if you are trying to please more than one other person and even more problematic if one of those people is inconsistent in what pleases them.

Society has developed a belief that without external guidance our behavior would be unacceptable. Recent findings in positive psychology refute this premise. When individuals are in a positive state they exhibit not only behaviors that society requires as ‘socially acceptable’ but behaviors that go far beyond the minimums with altruism and cooperation increasing substantially when higher levels of positive emotion are present.

Helping children understand that listening to their own emotions is important. We often speak of animals having instincts and humans having intellect. We (humans) do have instincts but we are trained not to listen to them. We all have guidance coming from within and we can hear it when we quiet our minds. What most do not do is listen to it or understand how it communicates. Our minds are powerful and important but our hearts are even more intelligent. The HeartMath Institute conducted a study that showed the heart registered responses in a predictive manner, while the brain responded after the fact to the same stimuli.[G]

Our bodies have great intelligence. We often take them for granted and overlook the intelligence of our bodies. They know how to take a single cell and turn it into a full grown human. From that single cell all the other cells are formed, ones that are eyes and ones that are toe nails. They know how to take nutrients from food and nourish our cells. They know how to regain balance when many undesired elements are introduced. When we listen to our guidance we will also receive information about what our bodies are asking for to maximize our vitality.

Studies are revealing that we make healthier choices when we feel positive emotions.[H]

Make Decisions When you Feel Happy

Education

The first step is to spread the knowledge of how to understand and use our emotional guidance systems for our own benefit and the benefit of others. This must include a deep understanding that helping those who are not behaving in acceptable ways increase their level of positive emotion is the path to their becoming productive and contributing members of society.

Pain Management

So much of medicine treats symptoms. It has been shown repeatedly and conclusively that positive emotion and optimism treat the root cause of both life threatening illnesses including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s as well as illnesses that are usually less threatening such as the common cold and flu.

Positive emotion can also have an immediate impact on pain. Someone who has chronic pain that comes and goes will notice, if they pay attention, that when their emotions are more pleasant their pain decreases. The opposite is also true, the worse the emotional state, the greater the pain. According to Dr. Scott, Chief Nursing Officer of Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, Georgia, they noticed this when they became cognizant that requests for pain medicine decreased during afternoon football games prompting the hospital to add ESPN to the channels available to patients[I].

Science has come a long way in proving the many benefits of happiness over the past two decades but they have not come close to understanding the potential impact on human thriving that is possible. This will be realized when the topic of this paper has become common knowledge.

We are on the brink of seeing the dreams of many generations become reality. Let’s go.

Jeanine Joy’s upcoming book, Stress Kills: Happiness Heals will provide a clear path to the vision explored in this White Paper. Watch for it in book stores in the autumn of 2014.

Please consider sharing this with your friends and family. You never know who you may help by passing it on. It is a random act of kindness that will ripple outward. This information is too important to move forward at the speed of science – Pass it on and help create a better world sooner.

[A] See:  Emotion: A Self-Regulatory Sense, K.T.Peil

[B] Each individual has an emotional set point on each topic. For example, emotional set point about Mother may be different on topic of money than set point on topic of food and so on. However, people tend to live in the same emotional range across a variety of topics.

[C] See separate list of processes.

[D] University of California – David (2001, August 22). Happiness can deter crime, a new study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://www.sciencedily.com/releases/2011/08/110822091859.htm

[E] See:  Emotion: A Self-Regulatory Sense (www.emotionalsentience.com) by K. T. Peil, Harvard, 2012

[F] Association for Psychological Science (2011, July 27). Who takes risks?

[G] Rollin, McCraty, Mike Atkinson, and Raymond T. Bradley, “Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition. Part 1: The Surprising Role of the Heart,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 10(1) (2004), pp. 133 – 143

[H] The Heart’s Content: The Association between Positive Psychological Well-Being and Cardiovascular Health,” Julia K. Boehm and Laura D. Kubzansky, Psychological Bulletin, online April 17, 2012, Published by the American Psychological Association, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of  Happiness 1st Institute. Happiness 1st Institute is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business  Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional.. Happiness 1st Institute, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

© 2012-2014 Jeanine Joy All rights reserved.

[I] Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2012


What will it take to Wake You Up?

What Will It Take to Wake You Up?

Positive emotions are required for your body to function at its peak performance.

Being stoic or tolerating being in a negative state of mind often is unhealthy.

The scientific evidence of this is clear.

We need to care for our bodies and part of caring for our bodies, even more important to their health than whether or not we smoke, is that we enjoy positive emotions often.

Are you still harboring resentment towards a long ago wrong?

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.” – Buddha

Are you holding on to feelings of not being loved enough at some point in your life?  That part of your life is over and only your thoughts about it are keeping it alive.

Are you refusing to forgive, believing that they do not deserve your forgiveness?  The one you benefit by your forgiveness is you.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes

Are you loving yourself?  The often quoted verse is “Love thy neighbor as thyself” but many people treat themselves worse than they would their worst enemy in the conversations they have in their own minds and in the mirror. Remember to love yourself. You really cannot love others if you do not love and accept yourself.

You do not have to judge yourself as lacking to decide to improve or change something about yourself. It is perfectly acceptable to be fine as you are and decide to improve something to make yourself even better. Self acceptance means you recognize that you are evolving and becoming throughout life. If you are not all that you desire to be today there is always tomorrow when you will be more than you are today.

Do you spend your commute time angry at the situation?  You can make it enjoyable with a little thought and effort.

Do you go to a job you hate every day?  There has to be some aspect you can focus upon that will feel better to you.

Decisions are powerful. We can show you the decisions you can make – without any circumstances changing – that will help you be happier. Circumstances have a way of changing to match your state of happiness.

Science has shown that happiness contributes positively to good health, to success and to good relationships.

Ask us how we can help you by contacting us. We have answers that address the root causes and result in real progress towards your dreams, desires, and goals.

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