Tag Archive: mental health

Burnout Prevention and Recovery, Resilience and Retention Evidence-based, experience-informed, root cause solutions

Burnout Prevention and Recovery

When we were asked to participate and be a resource to the NC Consortium on Physician Resilience and Retention ( a Committee of the NC Medical Society), we were moved to develop a white paper for an upcoming meeting. We began pulling research on burnout. Jeanine’s dissertation was on Employee Engagement so she was very familiar with the other end of the spectrum. Within two days, 300 journal articles had been identified. At that point we knew it would have to be a book; not just a white paper.

After reviewing over 500 articles, we elected to address, burnout prevention and recovery through two distinct lenses:

  1. What an individual can do to protect themselves and/or recover from burnout, and,
  2. What healthcare organizations can do, individually and collectively, to prevent burnout and help employees recover from burnout syndrome.

Designed to be easy

Recognizing that both physicians (read as “all providers of care”) and healthcare organization executives are busy and may not have time to read the entire book, we wrote the book so that a physician who just wants to know how to prevent or recover from burnout can get all the information needed without having to digest the full text of information for the healthcare organization. The information for the healthcare organization executive or manager who wants to know what the organization can do also stands alone.

Executives may want to review the section for individuals because training your staff to understand the knowledge and skills presented there will increase resilience, emotional intelligence, and create a more positively focused workforce. It will also help them deal with daily stressors in your role including workplace politics.

A brief overview of the problem with current statistics about burnout is provided at the beginning.

The Appendices have questionnaires for burnout, depression, coping, and anxiety.

Build Resilience by applying Science

The section for physicians provides actionable steps that increase resilience, self-compassion, and foster development of healthy habits of thought. The research consistently shows that this is the difference between those who are burned out and those who are not–not the amount of stress inherent in their role.

Healthcare Organizations Have Work To Do, Too

The need for resilience does not mean that there is not a great deal of work that can and should be done by healthcare organizations to make the work environment less stressful and more supportive of the physical and mental health of its employees. Some of that work could be done quickly in organizations that are motivated. Much of the organizational work will require concerted actions between organizations to change the environment including legal, regulatory, and payers.

Why the Authors are Qualified to Write This Book

Dr. Joy’s prior books on Employee Engagement, Suicide Prevention, and Resilience, her dissertation on empowering employees, and years of research on building resilience prepared her to write this book. She asked Phil Geissinger to join her to add his expertise on the leadership and management of healthcare organizations and the many burdens that have been added to the roles of healthcare clinicians over the last several decades because she knew his insights would focus on how to accomplish what has to be done in ways that reduce the likelihood of burnout.

It is clear that healthcare organizations and care providers must act to prevent and recover from burnout. Physicians experience stress from:

·         Lack of time ·         Financial Pressure ·         Lack of purpose and meaning
·         Malpractice costs ·         Long Hours ·         CME
·         Paperwork ·         Board Certification(s) ·         Erosions of Autonomy
·         Work-Life Conflicts ·         Inadequate sleep ·         Business of Medicine
·         Secondary Trauma

·         Collegial pressures

·         EMR/EHR

·         Practice economics

·         Insurance Companies

·         Human resource issues

 

People making their living off Physicians

One key aspect that enhances the ability of the approach to burnout applied is the change in the purpose of emotions that was validated in 2007. Understanding and applying the new guidance on the purpose and use of emotions make it much easier to develop resilience and to understand how to use cognitive restructuring to reduce stress. We expect healthcare providers will find it helps them help their patients.

Learning advanced and transformational coping skills means physicians and other healthcare providers experience less stress on a daily basis. Chronic stress leads to burnout and the adverse physical and mental health outcomes associated with burnout. 

Coping Skills Make a Difference

People will use the best coping mechanisms available to them but if they don’t know how to use healthy coping strategies they will use a coping strategy they can access–even if it is maladaptive or dysfunctional. Primary Prevention for maladaptive and dysfunctional coping strategies such as drugs and alcohol requires training in healthier stress management strategies.

When you know good coping skills you don't use bad ones

You’ll find it interesting that most of the commonly recommended stress management strategies are dose-dependent palliative strategies. 

Stress Coping Strategies

Our book, Burnout: Prevention and Recovery, Resilience and Retention, is available on Amazon. Both Phil and Jeanine are available for keynote presentations and training to reduce burnout and provide the other benefits described in their book.Please let us know if you are interested in discussing training or speaking needs that we provide.

Burnout prevention and recovery can be easy, permanent, and relatively quick when the plan is based on research.

Together, we will make working in healthcare better for everyone which improves patient care and outcomes. 

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What Does The World You Want Look Like? Feel Like?

World You Want

What Does The World You Want Look Like? Feel Like?

Have you ever asked yourself what you want the future to be like and given it extensive thought? Have you looked into the scientific research to see what we already know how to accomplish? Have you shifted outside your comfort zone in an effort to move the world more toward your preferred future?

Five years ago I left a nice cushy executive position in Corporate America because I learned that there were possible futures that I liked far more than current reality, futures science had already demonstrated were possible. It had become my passion and still burns brightly within me.

But I can’t create this future, the world you want, alone. It will take a dedicated group of individuals who are willing to be considered weird or out of step with the rest of humanity (until they catch up). But that’s okay, because as soon as you learn the skills that lead to this preferred future blending in will no longer be something you strive for.

The future we can have is so wonderful for everyone. The way I see my Preferred Future is described below. 

Preferred Future

Everyone on the planet understands how to use The Smart Way metacognitive processes in conjunction with emotional guidance to improve their own life.

 What the Preferred Future looks like:

Being happy is normal. Unhappy people stand out and attract others who help support their efforts to become happier using The Smart Way

It is rare for anyone under 25 to be incarcerated because:

  • They aren’t committing crimesCrimes is a way to feel more empowered and they already feel empowered
  • They aren’t using drugs to feel better—because they already feel good
  • Recidivism is also lower because incarcerated individuals are also learning how to use The Smart Way
  • Our biggest prison problem is what to do with all the newly empty prisons

  Heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and psychosis are rare

  • Almost everyone is an expert at managing stress to low levels

      Low stress = High Happiness

  • The path from stress to unhealthy biochemical and low immune function are fully understood
  • The negative impact of stress on digestion is understood
  • The benefit of increased pro-health behaviors that comes with lower stress is received fully
  • Individual resilience is much higher than today due to metacognitive stress reduction skills

  Racism and Discrimination is something old people remember from their youth.

  • People understand they can’t think badly of others and feel good
  • People are committed to feeling good because when they feel good they are good

  Employee Engagement has been high for years

  • People know how to align their work to their purpose
  • People understand that trusting increases trustworthiness
  • People are reaching for bold, inspiring goals because their encouraging guidance is understood

  Relationships of all type are better, divorces are not common

  • Without the financial burdens of the problems solved, everyone can enjoy a better quality of life without working as hard or long
  • People know how to repeatedly fall in love with their spouse
  • Lower stress = better moods, better moods = appreciate one another more

What is The Smart Way(tm) metacognitive processes in conjunction with emotional guidance?

The Smart Way is a collection of advanced and transformative evidence-based, experience-informed strategies that help individuals actively use self-regulatory metacognitive processes known to promote good mental health and lower stress in combination with emotional guidance.

What is emotional guidance?

In 2007, researchers recognized that the purpose of emotions scientists had accepted as true for eighty years was inaccurate and that the purpose of emotions is to provide guidance leading us toward self-actualization and away from danger. Because science misunderstood the function of emotions for so long, almost everyone alive suffers from responding to emotions in ways that inhibit their ability to thrive. Learning how to accurately interpret and respond to emotional signals has immediate and profound effects that improve one’s quality of life.

What is metacognition?

In the simplest terms, metacognition is thinking about thinking. The Smart Way is thinking about thinking by someone who understands how the mind works, prioritizes information, how the mind becomes and sustains biases, and techniques that quickly lead to more productive perspectives about whatever the person is observing.

Everyone’s brain is programmed. Psychologists believe most programming is complete by age 6. Most people’s brains are programmed by default—their environment determines much of the programming regardless of the helpfulness or harmfulness of the programming. The Smart Way empowers you with tools that you can use to reprogram your mind so that it is more helpful and less harmful to your success in anything you choose to do.

Are any fundamental principles included in The Smart Way or is it just science?

There are a number of principles I believe become self-evident when one begins using The Smart Way including:

  • Your mental programming, more than any other factor (gender, race, education, religion, age, etc.), is what limits you or helps you thrive
  • Your mental programming can be changed at any time, even in old age
  • At their core, everyone is good. No exceptions.
  • Behavior and emotional state are intricately linked. Undesired behaviors are primarily the result of disempowered emotional states
  • People who know how to achieve and sustain good-feeling emotional states behave better
  • Stress (which flows from mindset) is the root cause of over 90% of the world’s troubles
  • Stress, according to researchers, is responsible for 65 – 95% of all illnesses and diseases because psychological stress affects the immune, endocrine (digestive), cognitive, and central nervous system in adverse ways.
  • Psychological stress is the result of mindset and habits of thought far more than it is the result of circumstances

There are some fundamentals informed by science, including:

  • Psychological (mental) stress changes a person’s biochemistry—increasing stress levels in the body, depressing immune system, cognitive, digestive and central nervous system function

  You will note that The Smart Way goes beyond tolerance to Diversity Appreciation, which is actually easier to achieve because the approach flows with human nature, not against it.

This is not an idealist’s dream. Evidence-based research supports the fact that this potential is our for the taking–if we are brave enough, bold enough, and determined enough to make it happen. 

What would you give to ensure your children and grandchildren could live in a world like this? In the world you want?

What would you be willing to learn? Who would you be willing to tell?

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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]


Teach Children the Right Skills Once. They will Benefit for Life

Teach Children the right skills once and they will benefit for life.

Research shows that teaching children stress reduction (resilience building) skills has a significant positive effect on outcomes longitudinally. Even children who are not expected to do well because of early hardships do better than expected if they learn these skills. Improvements seen include:

  • More likely to graduate from high school
  • More likely to go to college
  • More likely to graduate from college
  • Less likely to abuse drugs
  • Less likely to abuse alcohol
  • Less likely to commit crimes
  • Less likely to smoke cigarettes
  • Less likely to have a baby during teens
  • Less likely to die from street violence
  • Less likely to become depressed
  • Less likely to commit suicide

What do parents want that isn’t on that list? Why aren’t we teaching this to all children?

These skills create beneficial habits of thinking that reduce stress throughout the lifespan, regardless of the source of the stress.

For the citations, see Our Children Live in a War Zone.

Give your children a better chance at success. Learn the skills that matter and share them with your children.

I am very excited about the release of Our Children Live in a War Zone,  A Plan to Bring Peace to our Homes, Streets, and World on November 24, 2015. Now parents and teachers don’t have to wait for the government to implement programs that will improve the lives of children. They can learn the skills and teach the children they nurture how to be more resilient and less stressed today.

Jeanine Joy teaches, speaks and writes about human thriving. She is an expert in teaching people how to adjust their mindsets in any way they deem helpful in reaching their dreams and goals.  Her books are available here.

If this helped you, please share so that others may be helped. Thank you.
For more of my articles on LinkedIn and at Happiness 1st Institute.


Your Programming is Like Pandora, not Spotify

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of day do you want?

Top of the World

Top of the World – The Old Fashioned Way

Hot Rod Lincoln

Life is hard and then you die

When a Man Loves a Woman

How do you choose the tone of your day?

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

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

Why bother?

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

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

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

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

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


Prevention Saves Lives and Money


 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stress is a significant initial cause of mental illness.

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

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

 


Beating Depression

Beating Depression, The Smart Way, is easier than you may have been led to believe.

The stress of feeling powerless is insidious—it robs us of motivation. It makes life seem hopeless. The current rate of depression (globally) is 350 million people of all ages[1]. In the US alone, the health care costs for depression for adults were 22.8 billion in 2009.

No one wants to stay depressed, but in that emotional state, it can be hard to think of a thought that feels even slightly better.

I reject the concept of a chemical imbalance causing depression in isolation.

Gradually, our brain chemistry becomes conditioned to react to negative stimuli in a particular, predictable way. One thing’ll go wrong and it’ll automatically switch on its blender and mix us that black cocktail, the ol’ doomsday daiquiri, and before we know it, we’re soused to the gills from the inside out. Once depression has become electrochemically integrated, it can be extremely difficult to philosophically or psychologically override it; by then it’s playing by physical rules, a whole different ball game. Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

Prolonged chronic stress and/or a major stressful event must play a part in almost every case of depression. Depression is more difficult when the physical body has been trained to respond to adverse circumstances in a certain way, but it can be overcome. It is amazing how much progress can be made when one-step is taken at a time. If we begin addressing chronic stress in a healthier way, the epidemic levels of depression will be greatly reduced. If all the cases with unmanaged chronic stress as the root cause are eliminated, we’ll see more clearly any that have other origins, which will speed solutions for them.

Good stress management has the ability to address both prolonged chronic stress and a major stressful event. The way we perceive an event determines how stressful the event is to our minds and bodies. We have far greater control over how we perceive events than most realize. At Happiness 1st Institute, we teach how to develop and use skills that lower stress.

In True Prevention–Optimum Health, I describe how mood affects our body chemistry—it can make exercise and food either more or less beneficial. Stress also decreases the effectiveness of our immune system.[2]

Stressful life events often lead to depression.[3] However, if evaluated at a deeper level we see that not everyone reacts to the same type of circumstances in the same way. Some become depressed, others are energized toward action. It is the individual perception of the situation that determines the level of stress. Learning how to manage stress reduces the strain caused by life’s uncertainties and calamities. Individuals who do not experience the event as highly stressful will not be tossed into depression.

Depression has its direct costs to an individuals, families, employers and health care system as an illness. It also carries many other costs. Cognitive abilities diminish as emotional state decreases. The same employee is not capable of the same level of thinking when depressed as she is when not depressed. The same employee is not capable of the same level of thinking when stressed as he is when he is not stressed. What is being lost because an employee is too stressed to see the perfect solution to your company’s biggest issues? What is not being invented because the person who could imagine the solution is too stressed to think at the required level?

Positive reappraisal has an inverse relationship with depression. In other words, individuals who use positive reappraisal as a coping mechanism are less likely to become depressed than those who do not use this coping style.[4] They also experience less stress from similar events than individuals who do not use this technique. The main goal of the techniques provided in all The Smart Way books is to develop positive reappraisal skills.

Individuals who self-blame, blame others, ruminate, and catastrophize are more likely to experience depression, anger, and anxiety.[5]  Fortunately, these are just habits of thought and can be changed with the right techniques. They are not who you are, they are who you are being at the time–something you have the ability to change.

If you often feel stressed or are depressed or have experienced depression in the past, one of the best things you can do to improve your future is learn positive reappraisal skills. Individuals who develop this skill feel more in control of their lives and have better outcomes.

Pick up one of my books today or enroll in a course at Happiness 1st Institute. You’ll be glad you did.

[1] (Wittayanukorn, Qian and Hansen)

[2] (Dockray and Steptoe)

[3] (Hidaka)

[4] (Martin and Dahlen)

[5] (Martin and Dahlen)


The Smart Way: What is it?

People frequently ask me, “What do you mean by The Smart Way?” Today, while reading some research on happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and one of my favorite Psychologists, Ed Diener the way they described their research helped me create the briefest explanation ever of the difference between The Smart Way and The Common Way.

Most of the world lives their lives using The Common Way. It’s not because they lack intelligence. It’s simply a lack of knowledge. It’s what they don’t know they don’t know.

The diagram below shows the difference. The Common Way is passive. Life happens to you. When you apply The Smart Way, it begins feeling like you have some control over how you experience life. It’s a more empowered way of viewing your reality and experiencing your life. A life lived using The Smart Way feels better than a life lived The Common Way. The results of your efforts are better when you use The Smart Way.

The Smart Way is at the root cause of human thriving. Because it is at the root, every improvement affects many branches (areas of life).

I’m pragmatic. I like things simple. I like things that work. I don’t like reinventing the Beams radiate from a sillouette of a headwheel if I already have a solution that works. I love helping people thrive more. I love sharing the knowledge I’ve found in my search for answers to the question, “What empowers humans to thrive?” I don’t want to just help some people. I want to help everyone I can possibly help. The Smart Way works. It increases the frequency of positive emotions an individual feels.

What good is feeling good?

Turns out feeling good does a lot of good. It improves your physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral results. It is less stressful and stress is at the root of most illnesses and diseases. Happy people aren’t committing crimes. In fact, people commit crimes because they are so stressed about their situation that the only way they can perceive of feeling better is through the commission of a crime. Only happy people can feel at peace with others.

Once I identified the root cause of human thriving, I began building bridges that would help people understand and, more importantly, use the knowledge to make their own lives better. I created bridges that helped individuals who were religious to understand how The Smart Way fit with their worldview. I created bridges that helped individuals who want a scientific basis to understand the science that supports The Smart Way.

In The Smart Way books, all the basic elements of The Smart Way are included, plus information relative to the subject of the book. As I find more supporting research, I add it to the newer titles. I change examples based on the subject of the book. But if you have one, The Smart Way book, you have all the key elements of any book in the series. I don’t reinvent the wheel for each subject because the root of thriving in all of them is the same.Experience Life The Smart Way

Today only one The Smart Way book is published, but four more are in the pipeline. So remember, if you have one The Smart Way book you don’t have to buy others. It might be easier to figure out how to apply it to the subject of the book and if you want it to help with that, it’s worthwhile. But if you have one and you’re not thriving more you read the book instead of studying it and using the techniques. Try them. You’ll like it.

Prevent Suicide: The Smart Way is available. New books about building resilience, reducing crime, improving health, and improving relationships are in the works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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).

 


Empower Yourself

Your mindset is really programming, specifically it is how your brain is programmed. We all have programming and most of it was created by default, by our experiences, upbringing, thoughts, examples, and conclusions. All these things shaped our mindset.

Default programming is not optimal programming.

Realizing that your programming may be hindering your success in all areas of life and that you can change your programming are the two most empowering things most people can learn.

Understanding this is the 1st step to changing your mindset.

Your mindset creates filters that determine which of the millions of bits of information your senses pick up are made available to the conscious mind. The unconscious mind processes millions of times the information the conscious mind is ever aware of. When you change your mindset, your filters change and the world literally changes–not because anything actually changed other than your perception.

You can’t live a great life with sub par programming.

Empower Yourself

If you’re ready to improve your programming, contact us.  We have the best techniques and can help you understand how changes will change your outlook so you can decide for yourself what programming you want in your head.

Jeanine Joy is an inspiring and life-changing author, speaker, and scholar. The purpose of her life is to seek out knowledge that increases human thriving, create explanations and processes that provide practical ways for individuals adopt strategies that enhance their lives. Her programs, books, and speeches empower people to fulfill their dreams and enjoy more loving, happy, and successful lives. Her ultimate goal is to help create a better world for everyone.

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Call for Peace

Call for Peace (Re-printed from a post originally posted on House of Peace and Love for All)

Learning about senseless tragedies saddens me deeply because there is a better way and because the pain that a senseless tragedy leaves behind creates ripples that can lead to more pain.

I am saddened by the recent loss of life in Charleston and saddened by the suffering of the families and saddened that we still live in a world where the connection between emotional state and behavior is not understood enough that someone who is angry is helped to find a better emotional state.

Anger that persists is a form of mental illness. It may not be a diagnosis code in the DSM, but it is a form of mental illness, or perhaps more accurately, a lack of skill in dealing with emotions.

Happy people aren’t killing anyone.

People who are unhappy and trying to find a way to feel more empowered kill people. Unhappiness can range from jealous all the way down to anger, rage, and depression.

Behavior is entwined with emotional state; it cannot be separated.

Emotions are indicators that we should take action. Joy is an indicator to continue doing what we’re doing with the way we’re perceiving our current circumstances.

Anger is an indicator that we’re harming our self if we continue perceiving our current circumstances in the way we are currently perceiving them.

Anger does not validate the rightness of your stance.

Anger merely tells you that your current thoughts do not support your long-term goals.

Your anger may feel justified. It may even be justified according to large numbers of other people. It is still hurting you.

Anger is better than depression, but it is not a good home. It is not even a good place to visit frequently.

It is not an emotion to allow yourself to steep in because doing so clouds your thought processes and frequently leads to actions that create more anger.

Anger comes from a dis-empowered perspective.

The best response to anger is finding a more empowered perspective from which to view the situation.

I was saddened to learn that the shooter in Charleston hoped to begin a race war in America. I am gladdened to see the response.

I heard Malcolm Graham speak on the news about the loss of his sister, Cynthia Hurd, saying that we need to learn to live together peacefully and my heart soared. To hear someone with a loss so close to his heart calling for peace tells me that we are closer than I thought.

Why does it make my heart soar? Because peace and harmony are possible. There is a way to live peacefully in the world even before everyone is doing so. In fact, peace can only come one heart at a time.

Politicians and soldiers do not bring true peace.

True peace only happens when individuals’ hearts have peace within them.

Hearts filled with anger and bitterness lead to senseless tragedies decades after peace has been declared by politicians and soldiers.

The path to peace is one of learning the real meaning of emotions. They are guidance from God letting us know how close to the way God sees the situation we are perceiving it. When we’re joyful, we are perceiving the situation the way God perceives it. When we are in love we are perceiving the person the way God perceives the person. When we are frustrated we are perceiving the situation differently from the way God is perceiving it. When we are angry we are even further from God’s perspective of the topic than we were in frustration.

The worse the emotion feels, the more variance there is between our opinion of the situation and God’s opinion of the same situation.

If you feel the Call for Peace:

The first step is to recognize what emotions are.

If you want a religious view on the topic, see the quotes in the Bibliography and if your worldview is not represented, look to the scriptures for your faith and find it there.

If you want a scientific view on the topic, see the publication by Katherine Peil in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, also cited in the Bibliography.

The second step is developing skills that empower us to see more in line with the way God views the world by developing mental agility that helps us take different perspectives.

The third step is to put peace in your heart. The first two steps are necessary first because you must release the resentment, anger, and other strong negative emotions before you can truly feel peaceful toward all others. This seems an impossible task before you understand the link between emotions and behavior and develop the skills that enable you to see the world more as God sees it.

When you understand those things and use them, putting peace in your heart feels like the natural thing to do.

As I said earlier, happy people aren’t killing anyone. People who feel dis-empowered and are trying to regain some of their power are the ones who do those things. What they need is a better way to feel more empowered. The first two steps above are that way.

But society needs to recognize what negative emotion represents and help those who get stuck in negativity take the first two steps. The more the understanding spreads, the easier it will be for even strangers to help someone who is in a low emotional place.

I say easier, because we can already to it.

We can give a smile to someone who needs one. We can offer encouraging words to harried Mom’s while we are waiting in line or grocery shopping. We can hold doors open for others and show that we value their humanity. We can be kind for no reason other than being kind feels good (when it is what we want to do).

Those things can help momentarily. But learning the connection between behavior and emotion, what emotions really are, and how to take different perspectives that allow us to feel better without requiring any circumstances to change in that moment help permanently.

One way to make a horrible situation feel better is to give it a different meaning. It is not my place to decide for any other what meaning to give any situation, especially not for the families, friends and church that lost so much. But I can and do encourage others to take Malcolm Graham’s call for peace to heart and I know that along that path is where the greatest solace and meaning will be found, as well as the best world for the future.

If I can be of help in building peace in your community, please contact me.

My heart goes out to the families of Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson.

This post, written by Jeanine Joy, was re-printed from a post on House of Peace and Love for all. Jeanine Joy is the founding minister of House of Peace and Love for All.

Bibliography

(Al-Qur'an), T. (or of the soul which is secure of its salvation, and free from fear or sorrow.). By this the reader will observe that the Mohammedans are no strangers to Quietism. Others, however, understand the words of the soul, which, having attained the knowledge of the truth, rests satisfied, and relies securely thereon, undisturbed by doubts; 
Bhagwath gita.  The Lord's mercy is therefore available both in the form of the instructing spiritual masters and the Supersoul within the heart...
Bhagwath gita. The Supersoul within everyone's heart, directly gives us guidance...the spiritual master in the heart, gives direct inspiration.
Proverbs 16:9.  A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Bible.
Proverbs 3:5.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Bible.
 Buddhist teachings.  Wisdom is born of meditation deep, But lost by mind's distraction; knowing these Two paths of loss and gain, so let him live, Let him so direct his life that wisdom may increase. 282.
Confucius. By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.
Peil, K. T. (2014). Emotion: The Self-regulatory Sense. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 80-108.

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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.


Resilience and Mental Health for Nepal

Resilience and Mental Health for NepalResilience and Mental Health for Nepal

Nick Stockton wrote an excellent article highlighting the importance of addressing mental health issues after a diaster, Let’s Stop Nepal’s Mental Health Crisis Before It Happens. Prevention before something happens is Primary Prevention and if you’ve been following my blogs or attending my classes, you know that is the main focus of everything I do.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This old adage is true with health. We do it routinely in many areas of life but its potential to improve life is overlooked in many areas. Hand washing is a form of Primary Prevention. So is adequate sleep, good nutrition, and an optimistic outlook.

In his article, Nick quoted Richard Mollica, director of the Harvard Center for Refugee Trauma. He has been “a pioneer in bringing attention to the mental care of people who have lived through mass violence, civil war, torture, and natural disasters.”

“Mentally traumatized people have shorter, more sickly lives, You may not die at first, but you will die 20 years after a catastrophe from diabetes and stroke.”

He’s right. Stress Kills–literally. Without relief the increased stress from the earthquakes will result in immune and digestive systems with significantly impaired function. The increased stress will cause more pre-term births of infants whose chance of a healthy life (or even survival) is lower than it could be.

There is a way to empower people to take perspectives that support mental health. Some mental health professionals have described it as a form of DIY (do-it-yourself) CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). The reason this would be such a beneficial approach in Nepal and other disaster areas is that large groups can be taught the techniques simultaneously because the individual applies the techniques to them self (there is no need to spend hours or days of one-on-one time trying to explain how you’re feeling to someone else. The individual is taught to recognize the difference between more and less mentally healthy habits of thoughts and consciously choose the healthier one. The choice is easy because it literally feels better than not making it. The only form of health focused self-improvement that does not require pain for gain. It’s been successfully used to reduce even long-term ingrained PTSD.

The long-term negative effects can be minimized. Our programs teach these skills. If funding is provided, we are willing to go to Nepal and do all we can to avoid another tragedy for this quiet country.


Employee Respect: Who Gets It?

The approach the solution to employee engagement has been taking is misguided. Ask yourself why engagement numbers are down to 30% levels according to recent Gallup surveys. Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently surveyed 20,000 employees worldwide and half of them feel disrespected by their bosses.

If you’ve ever watched Criminal Minds or countless other shows, you know that it is not the intent of the communicator but the reception/perception of the receiver that determines the message that is communicated. Someone who feels disrespected frequently (by teachers, family, friends, society) will not feel respected because the boss is careful about how he or she communicates.  Often, these individuals do not respect themselves so they certainly don’t expect others to respect them. They want it–absolutely they want it. They want someone to come along and give them respect and magically make them feel better. They don’t know that they can’t feel respect until they respect and like themselves. They allow a negative string of self-doubt to tarnish their existence.

Until they respect themselves they can’t feel the respect others show them. Ask anyone you know who has made amazing progress in their life what made the difference for them. They will tell you that it was when they changed their perception about them self. People treat us as we expect to be treated. We give off clues and when we do not respect ourselves we might as well have a neon sign floating above our heads letting others know. It is obvious to anyone who does respect them self. It’s obvious because they know what they are willing to tolerate and what they are not willing to tolerate.

I had my own journey where I went from not feeling worthy and not thinking I was good enough. When I changed my own view of myself, the way everyone else treated me changed. I mean everyone. From bosses/employers, to significant others, my children, my parents, and even the clerk at the grocery store. It felt magical. When I changed me, the non-verbal clues I sent that others read (often unconsciously) changed.

Few people in our society truly feel worthy of self-respect. They have negative voices in their heads constantly criticizing themselves. Or maybe, like me, they were taught they had to earn respect but never given a way to calculate when that task was complete. If you have to “earn it” how do you know when you’ve done accomplished it? I had long since earned a lot of things before I began believing I had earned them. When I changed my belief from “I have to work hard and prove myself before I can have that (respect, executive promotion, six-figure salary, nice house, etc.) to I have earned this and I deserve this, it all came. In the space of two years my entire life changed and all those things I had been striving to prove myself worthy of came quickly and easily.

I’m not special. I’ve seen other people change their beliefs about their self and their life changes, too. I help people make this transition and I see the changes they experience as a result. No, I am not special, but I am worthy. Everyone else is worthy too, but so many just don’t know it.

You have to believe you deserve respect. So many don’t. I wish everyone could learn to respect themselves. You have friends who don’t, maybe you don’t either.

You know the friend, the one who is amazing and inspires you,yet when you compliment they wave your accolades aside as if their accomplishments are nothing or flawed. I’m not talking modesty here. You know him or her. The one who truly does not believe they are worthy of the praise you’ve giving them. That businesses continue attempting to make this about the manager and about changing the manager baffles me. It is the employee who needs to learn they are valuable and worthy of respect so they can actually receive it. Until they do, they have an energetic wall up that blocks them from perceiving the respect they are shown.

Helping employees value and respect themselves will enable them to receive the respect their boss feels toward them. It will also make the bosses respect more authentic because how you treat yourself is usually reflected in how others treat you.

It is possible to decide how you will treat others and treat them that well regardless of how they feel toward themselves but that takes a lot of work and few people consciously make that choice. I saw a video earlier today that reflects how few consciously make that choice. First, a disclaimer, I do not believe that clothes make the person, but in many cases the person who does not respect themselves does not dress well–it is an indicator of how the person perceives him or herself. It’s not always true–sometimes people dress especially well to cover up insecure feelings–but it is true often enough that many people will make assumptions about a person based on their attire. And sometimes, the very secure will dress for comfort because they are not seeking approval from others. Now, for the video:

It’s clear in the literature across the ages, from the greatest thinkers of all time to scientific literature being produced in the best Universities of the 21st Century. You have to respect yourself first.

Working on management has limited returns for employee engagement because it treats a symptom, not the root cause of the problem.

Give employees the knowledge and skills they need to increase their self-respect.

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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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Chapel Hill Shootings

Chapel Hill Shootings

I am currently taking a Positive Psychology course with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at UNC-Chapel Hill. I made the following post in our class forum but wanted to share it here as well.

This news is so sad. Every life has value and at any point someone can begin contributing enormously to society. It sounds as if those the world lost were already doing that and there is no reason to believe they would not have continued to do so for decades. The magnitude of loss, of their young lives and the potential good they would have done, saddens me enormously. It also saddens me that this may increase the feeling of those who share the faith of the deceased that the world is not always friendly to those of their faith. I want my voice to be one they hear that says for me, that is not at all the case. I am not at all religious but I am 100% spiritual. I have no doubts about the existence of God, I just see no reason to attempt to impose my faith on others. I’ve met many Muslims here in the US and in my travels around the world. They are as human as everyone else, as valuable as everyone else, and as welcome in my world as everyone else. I believe most of the world believes this.

The man who is in custody was obviously not living in a positive emotional state. Behavior and emotion are inexplicably linked. There are other variables but happy people do not do the types of things he did. Allow this to reinforce your desire to find and sustain as much positive emotions in yourself as possible and for those who wish to help others, allow it to reinforce the importance of this work. Because of the tie between behavior and emotion I truly do not believe there is any more important work to be done–especially when you consider the health and mental health benefits that are also linked to positive emotions.

Today the world ignores this link and I believe that when we begin consciously recognizing it we will be able to predict those at risk of this sort of behavior with more ease and develop interventions to prevent them. I believe that teaching children, from a young age, how to develop and maintain more positive emotions will prevent so much that we do not want in the world.

Just as Candy Lightner created MADD to make sense of a tragedy, we can use this to increase our impetus to create a better world for all. Together we have more than enough power to create the momentum required to effect great positive changes. We cannot change what happened but we can give it meaning that feels better than that of a senseless tragedy by using it to fuel our desire and work toward building a better world.

My condolences go to not just the family, but the world, because the loss of these young individuals is a loss to the world.

Namaste,

Jeanine

For those of you who are reading this on LinkedIn or my Website, I urge you to gain skills to achieve and sustain positive emotional states. It matters.


When Only You Can Prevent Suicide Giveaway Announcement

When Only You Can Prevent Suicide

Coming Soon: I’ll be giving away 10,000 electronic copies of When Only You Can Prevent Suicide.

Watch for updates.

Please share. It may save a life.When Only You Can Prevent Suicide

 


Robin Williams Can Leave an even Greater Legacy: Eliminate Stigma

President Obama on the passing of Robin Williams:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest in peace Robin Wiilliams.

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

 


What are the real basics?

What are the real basics?

Reading, writing, and arithmetic is what most people think of when they hear ‘back to basics’ in education.

Like many things, the common belief about something is often an unexamined belief that was formed and accepted by many others without giving it real thought.

Are these subjects really the basis of creating citizens who will contribute to society in the future?

I am not saying that these subjects are not important but are they the most important contributing factors to becoming successful adults?

What do I mean by successful adults?  Let me define that first. A successful adult, according to my definition, is an individual who is self-sufficient and contributes positively to others and society. Self-sufficient encompasses self-motivation. Contributes to others and society means their actions are beneficial beyond their self interests.

For example, having a job or running a business creates a contribution to others. As an employee, there are typically many contributions including to the employer, customers, co-workers as well as your family (by supporting yourself and possibly your family), and society (by being a contributing taxpayer). Contributions can extend well beyond these examples, but these basic ones are pretty universal.

Self-sufficient does not mean an individual who does not establish and maintain connections to others. Symbiotic relationships are healthy and increase the ability of an individual to be successful.

Are there factors that are more basic than reading, writing, and arithmetic?

I believe there are.

For many years, there has been a push to help children develop self-esteem. Many of these programs have not understood the nature of self-esteem and how it is really developed.

Not having an opportunity to fail or loose is a grave disservice to children. It is far more important to have those experiences and learn that failure is another name for a learning opportunity. Losing is an opportunity to learn that life does not end because you did not win today. In fact, learning to rise up again after losing and that losing can actually prepare you for greater success than you would have ever experienced if you had never lost develops resilience.

Another problem with using contrived self esteem builders is that children are not stupid. They can tell when someone really means a compliment and when they are saying it just to try to make them feel better. Think about it. They can read the truth. If someone feeds you a line to ‘build you up’ and you know they have made it up could you not think “there must not be anything true that is good enough to say so he/she has to make up something”. While not every child would have this thought process, some would. For those children such actions are especially detrimental. What happened to “Honesty is the best policy”?  Where did we loose sight of that?

If I had a magic wand I would stop all the false self esteem building that goes on everywhere, in schools, homes, on the sports field, and in work places. Most of communication is non-verbal and most people know on some level whether the person offering the compliment is being honest. They may not read it clearly but it will feel “off” on some level.

False compliments teach children that the person offering the compliment cannot be trusted.

True self esteem comes from understanding yourself, your own worth, from a platform of understanding that everyone has great value and worth and it is, in fact, their unique perspective that creates that value. No one else in the world perceives the world exactly as they do. It also comes from understanding that bad behavior does not make you bad. Bad behavior is a symptom of being in a negative emotional state. Individuals who are in a generally positive state of mind are not bothersome (from their behavior) to society.

In fact, building a child up by comparing to others, teaching them to rely upon a positive comparison to others does an even graver disservice. Our comparison should be “Are we growing?”, “Are we more than we were yesterday, last week, last year, last decade?”, “Am I moving in the direction of that which I want to become?”. When we teach children to gain their self-worth by comparing themselves favorably to others we are actually putting some of them in an early grave. Yes, I know this is a very bold statement. I base it upon research that shows that health, well-being, and longevity is lower when the income disparity is greater than when it is closer together combined with research about the health benefits of positivity.[i]  This is not an inherent problem with varying incomes. The problem rests with the emotional result of comparing oneself with others and deciding that you are less than another.

There are many skills and tools children can use to self manage their emotions and help themselves feel better when something makes them feel badly. They are empowering and can create a stable platform of well-being for the child.

Unfortunately, families, schools, religious institutions, and society all tend to direct the child away from their inborn guidance to less reliable outside sources. All of us are born with an emotional guidance system.[ii]  The unfounded belief that without external guidance individuals would behave poorly is partially at the root of this tendency to train our children away from their own guidance system. Again, science does not support this belief. It is clear that when individuals feel better they behave better. The socially unacceptable behaviors stem from negative emotions that individuals do not know how to improve. I am working on another paper that addresses this topic. The working title is “The Importance of Understanding Emotions”. When we train children away from following their emotional guidance system we take away their compass.

When a child does not believe they have the ability to change how he or she feels their ability to learn is diminished. Some children learn from their environment that their actions do not matter so they give up. This belief is never a truth and the belief can be changed. Changing that belief is far more important than efforts to teach the basics. In fact, this belief, in my opinion, is a factor that contributes greatly to those children who do not seem to make progress regardless of the resources sent their way. Learned helplessness must be unlearned before progress can be made. When learned helplessness is overcome the potential for post traumatic growth is tremendous.

Unfortunately, there are environments where children are told many untruths by adults in their lives. Some examples are that they are stupid, dumb, will never amount to anything, and other statements along those lines. There is some possibility of helping adults understand the impact they can have on their children (and children in their lives) with such statements but I believe the larger opportunity is to help the children understand that they do not have to define themselves by the opinions of others. They can make up their own mind about who they are and what their potential is. What the child believes will be a self fulfilling prophesy. The evidence is clear that we do not exceed our expectations.

The impact of the placebo and nocebo effect sheds some light upon the power of belief to determine outcome.

So, if we want a level playing field for children we need to empower them. We need to help them understand that they have an emotional guidance system. This system is actually highly personalized. The guidance is based upon the desires of the individual. For example, someone who wants to marry young and have children will receive different guidance than someone who wants to delay children and pursue a career or more education. Life teaches us what we prefer, often by showing us what we do not desire. Once that personal preference is determined our guidance system will guide us in the direction of our desires.

We all have what I call 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 rude to someone we create a “Higher Self” that is nicer. If someone is rude 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.

Our guidance provides us positive feedback in the form of better feeling emotions when we are moving in the direction of our Higher Self and negative emotions when we are moving away from our Higher Self. The Higher Self represents your best current potential. That includes your best behavior. So you see, if children understand how to listen to and understand their emotional guidance they will always move in the direction of becoming more. Many of us do this anyway because even when we do not understand we have guidance the guidance has a strong influence. It is just a far straighter line towards where we want to go when we understand and consciously follow our emotional guidance.

We are born with the innate tendency to move in the direction that feels best. It is when you have conflicting information that things become confusing. For example, take a teenager who feels love for another but that person does not, for some reason, satisfy the parents’ standards. Now the teenager, who does not know he or she has guidance, is trying to please the parents, trying to please this person he or she loves, and being called by the guidance. This creates conflicting feelings. If the teen and the parents understood that the emotional guidance system always called you towards your best potential self, I mean really understood this and trusted it (the way they would if they understood they also had guidance and that it was reliable and trustworthy), they could trust the teenager to follow the guidance. In fact, if the parents would check in with their own guidance they would feel that the better feeling place is allowing the teenager to decide. The angst they feel at the person they have judged as inappropriate in some way is because they are moving in the opposite direction of their own Higher Self when they make that judgment. Their own guidance system is wise enough to know that their child has his or her own guidance and that the guidance the child receives from the internal system is more reliable than their guidance. This is a huge hurdle for many to overcome. Most believe the child requires our guidance. Social institutions have inserted themselves between individuals and their emotional guidance. A parent can learn to trust that his or her child has guidance and accordingly. When this is done the relationship between parent and child becomes so much more loving.

Science has already shown that cognitive ability, creativity, resilience, and success increase along a continuum with increased positivity. Likewise, self mastery and emotional intelligence would be increased with an understanding of the emotional guidance system. Science has also shown that many social problems are positively impacted by increased positivity including reductions in crime, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse.

Our emotional guidance system guides us to better feeling emotional states and provides unfailingly accurate answers to what would feel better for us.

Helping children understand their own emotional guidance system and that with an understanding of the system they will be guided to whatever they decide is best for themselves. The system does not care if someone else has said the child “can’t”, as long as the child believes in his or her own ability the system provides guidance.

There is another factor that comes into the mix and that is the filters in the brain each of us have. Each of us has a brain that is programmed and our brains are good at following our individual programming. Our beliefs form part of the programming system. Problems arise if the child comes to believe that he or she “can’t”, can’t read, can’t learn, can’t survive, can’t be successful, can’t amount to anything, the filter will take that belief into consideration. The emotional guidance system will be wiser than this programming. It will give clues by making such thoughts feel awful while thoughts of “I can” will feel better. A child who has had one or more experiences that have created an “I can’t” belief can overcome this belief by understanding the emotional guidance system and how to read it and then checking this belief against the response from the emotional guidance system.

“I can’t” beliefs belong to a class of beliefs called “Limiting Beliefs”. The child (or adult) will not generally check a limiting belief against the guidance system by asking the right question because of the brain filtering process. This is an area where a little help and guidance from social institutions would be very worthwhile. Upon noticing that a child (or anyone) makes comments such as “I can’t” or “I want to but” encouraging the child who understands their emotional guidance system, its accuracy and utter trustworthiness to check in with their own guidance as to the truth of the “I can’t” or the “but statement” the child will quickly have irrefutable evidence that their guidance says otherwise.

Teaching a child to follow his or her own guidance is pretty simple. It is as simple as the children’s game you may remember playing. It was a game that could be played almost anywhere. An object would be hidden and someone else look for it. The person who knew the location would say “You’re getting warmer” if you were getting closer to the object and “You’re getting colder” if you were moving away.

Emotional guidance works the same way. While it does feel different to move from despair to anger than from anger to frustration or from hope to joy each of these steps is a step in the right direction, each is “Getting warmer”. The common aspect is that the feeling of relief (a releasing of tension or stress) is felt in each of these steps. The emotion that is in the warmer direction always feels better than the one that is further away.

Emotions come to us in response to our thoughts. If I think about something pleasing (past, present, or future) I will have positive emotional guidance. If I think about something unpleasant (past, present, or future) I will have an emotional response that feels worse. I can think about someone or something and focus upon an aspect that feels good or a different aspect that feels bad. My guidance tells me which is more like my Higher Self by giving emotional feedback.

It is not difficult for a child, even a young child, given information about his or her emotional guidance system to check it out for his or herself. Asking questions about what feels better will elicit answers.

Unfortunately, I did not know about the emotional guidance system when my children were young so I taught them to rely upon my guidance (which was also not always based on listening to my emotional guidance system). But today when one of my young adult children ask me “Should I do __________” my response is to direct them back to their guidance. “How does the thought of doing that feel?”   “How does the thought of not doing that feel?”   I have found I also have to give them permission to put their guidance ahead of other considerations. For example, my youngest daughters friends wanted to go to a club. She asked me if she should go. I asked her what her guidance said and she said it felt better not to go. Then she said “But my friends want me to go”. She was wanting to take into consideration that external guidance (what her friends wanted).

I explained to her that her emotional guidance system knows all her goals and desires including her desire to be friends with these individuals. Her guidance would take all her priorities into consideration when providing the guidance. She was getting a clear “Don’t go”. Her guidance knew her friends were not going to stop being her friend just because she chose not to participate in this one activity with them. Her brain could have created all sorts of false fears and worries of how they would react but her guidance KNEW that it was not only fine but best for her long term goals and desires not to go.

I encourage you not to take my word about this emotional guidance system. You have your own. Begin asking yourself “What feels better?”. Begin listening and see what it is telling you. Begin following it on little things and build your trust. It takes much more for an adult who has been trained to listen only to the brain to begin to trust this emotional guidance system than it does for a child.

Children are born listening to their emotional guidance. How do you think they so quickly go from crying to laughing when tears are still wet on their face?  Their guidance calls them and they listen. But children are not here long when we begin telling them to listen to outside guidance. Listening to these others is not very harmful if they are following their own guidance and in good emotional places (other than it teaches them not to listen to their own guidance which is very life-limiting) but most of the time that is not the case. Sometimes it is far from the situation. It also teaches them to take their cues as to their worth and value from outside sources, sources that may have a much lower view of their potential than their emotional guidance system KNOWS. As they begin accepting a view of their worth that comes from outside themselves they become vulnerable. If those around them hold them in high regard things can go well. But if those around them tell them they are not smart and they do not know how to check this statement against their own guidance they may begin believing that this other person is right.

Think of the utter empowerment of the child who understands his or her own emotional guidance and understands that good behavior is found in good feeling emotional states and poor behavior is found in lower emotional states. This wise child is told by another student “You’re stupid”. The wise child can, if he has any concern at all about the validity of this statement use his guidance to check on it. Checking is as simple as asking “Does it feel better to believe I am stupid”? or “Does it feel better to believe I am smart”?  A child that has learned the trustworthiness of his emotional guidance system will immediately know that the statement is not accurate. There will be no reason to dwell on it, no reason to ruminate upon it, and certainly no reason to adopt it as his own belief and make it into a self-fulfilling fantasy.

But let’s look further. This child has also been taught about the relationship between emotional state and behavior. What will the child equipped with this knowledge know?  The child will know that the child who made this comment is not in a good emotional place. Now, the child who was called the name will not have gone to a negative mindset because of the name calling because he had a quick, easy, and accurate way not to take it personally. To, in fact, KNOW it was not personal because it was not a true statement about their person. But the child knows that the other child would not have said that from a good feeling state. Could that child then feel empathy for the child who lashed out from a negative state, enough empathy to do something to try to help that other child move to a better feeling state?  I believe a child equipped with this knowledge not only could but often would.

  • It is a fact that we have an emotional guidance system (EGS).
  • It is a fact that we behave better when we are in better emotional states.
  • It is a fact that our EGS always guides us to better feeling states.

Sometimes, in this paper, I use KNOW and KNEW in all caps. This is to highlight the fact that KNOWing is a sense. A sense an individual can read as accurately as what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. In fact, a developed ability to read ones EGS is the most accurate sense we have. The other senses are more colored by the filters in the brain which can alter perception.

There is one more false premise I want to address before I conclude this paper. The belief that our inherent nature is competitive is false. Our inherent nature is cooperative and when we follow our guidance we are very cooperative, especially when we reach and often maintain high emotional states of well-being.

Our bodies are made of 70 trillion or so cells, all of which cooperate beautifully together. There is mounting scientific evidence of our connection with all others. When attempts are made at the quantum physics level to study separate entities they find we are all connected at that level. Only at the level of our natural sight are we perceived as separate.

Your EGS is aware of this connection and of the deep rooted desire to cooperate and live harmoniously with others.

In conclusion, helping children understand their own emotional guidance system and the impact of emotional state on behavior would create a platform that would facilitate an excellent learning environment. It would mitigate the impact of negative home environments to a great degree. In my opinion, this is the most important basic of basics.

I could write entire books about the positive changes that would be brought about by this approach. For example, teenagers tend to put great stake in their friends’ opinions. (By the way, this is because we taught them to look outside themselves for guidance when they were young.)  We have the choice to teach them that it is their choice whether they buy into another s opinion of them or form their own. We can teach them that they can be anything they want to be if they believe in themselves but if they do not believe in themselves they will be only what they believe they can be.

By teaching them to put less emphasis on negative outside input and to be kind to themselves with their own internal conversations they can be in a better feeling place. If they know their emotions are their own personal guidance, how to read it and listen to it, outside influences that are in the opposite direction of their Higher Self will be minimized. If we do this at a young age by 9th grade they will be doing so well dropping out won’t even be on their radar.

Note:  The science that demonstrates that emotions are a sense (like taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing) has newly been put together by Katherine Peil based on solid research conducted by many others in many fields (10 pages of citations). She connected the dots and saw clearly what others had either failed to see or were not brave enough to report. There is a saying that science moves forward by funeral because old ideas and paradigms are clung to for the sake of having been right. I commend her for her bravery in publishing these very important results and appreciate to the core of my being her willingness to do so because, having known about and understood this emotional guidance system for quite some time, I have contemplated the benefits society could reap if many others understood it.

There are those who have KNOWN and understood this emotional guidance system for a long time and understand how perfect it is and how beneficial it is when followed.

Recently there was a movie called Limitless. The basic story line was that someone developed a pill that, when taken, allowed the brain to function more fully. Following the emotional guidance system has results similar to those in the movie without the need for a pill.

Let’s get the real basics in place.

© Jeanine Broderick, 2012

Citations:

[i]  The research has been clear. It is not that the lower incomes have too few resources. This has been determined by looking at research subjects in areas with less income diversity, same cost of living, and looking at the lower end of the income. For example, in an area where incomes are between 50,000 – 60,000 (fairly close) the longevity is about the same. In another area where incomes range between 50,000 – 120,000 with the same cost of living those near the lower end of income have worse health, well-being and even higher mortality (worse than that of the ones with the same income in an area with less disparate incomes). It is the adverse comparison of self to others that creates the negative emotions that contributes to the lower level of health. Positive emotions, optimism, and happiness are linked to a 50% risk reduction in cardiovascular disease and benefits against many other diseases. Essentially, by negatively comparing themselves to others they bring on their own negative emotions, which then creates the lack of well-being.

[ii] Peil, K. T., Emotion: A Self-regulatory Sense, published in Biophysical Psychological Review, 2012, (Northeastern University; Harvard Divinity School; EFS International)