Tag Archive: optimism

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.


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)


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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Pessimists Don’t Die Peacefully In their Sleep

Researchers have begun looking at how mindset affects health. Their findings are telling.

Optimists live an average of 10.7 years longer but they enjoy 18 healthier years because the debilitating end of life diseases visit them much closer to the end than they do pessimists.

Illness likes to visit pessimists and illness likes to stay longer when it visits pessimists.

Science can tell us why this is true. Our immune system works best when we feel positive emotions. The decline in our immune function is instantaneous when we feel negative emotions. Decreased immune function equals increased illness and in later life, increased chronic illness.

Digestive function also suffers when negative emotions are felt. Sometimes it is an immediate response when someone throws up upon seeing a distressing sight. The lucky ones among us only have the experience of watching others do this in movies or reading about it in books. Others have first hand experience. More of us have experience with the stomach feeling upset almost immediately after hearing distressing news. Long-term negative emotion (often referred to as stress) leads to long-term digestive problems including a greatly increased risk of diabetes and of obesity.

Cognitive function also worsens with stress and the choices we make about things like foods, smoking, drugs, and alcohol are worse when our emotional state is worse.

Pessimists tend to develop chronic illnesses about 7 – 8 years before death, on average. Some do it far sooner and a few don’t suffer as long. When compared to optimists whose average pre-death illness is no more than two years, pessimists have it rough.

Pessimism effectively creates a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Most people think being pessimistic or optimistic is an innate trait. The truth is that both are simply habits of thought. Like all habits, they can be changed to healthier habits. Leaving pessimistic tendencies behind does not discard the essence of who you are–it allows the beauty of you to shine through in new ways. It also feels good.

We are experts in helping people who have decided they want to change their habits of thought successfully do so. Ask us how we can help you today.


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.

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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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Burnout in High Stress Occupations: Solutions

Employee Engagement

Recent studies have reported employee engagement levels at or below 30%. Traditional methods of employee engagement attempt to change the corporate culture and management in order to change the employees. But older wisdom tells us that true change must come from within. After decades of using the traditional approach with dismal results (30% of employees are engaged), isn’t it time to give another method a try? The results could hardly be worse.

Burnout in High Stress Occupations

Worldwide, burnout in high stress occupations is taking a toll and causing concerns. This is especially true in the healthcare industry where physicians and nurses are experiencing burnout with two dire consequences. 1) The care they are able to provide is lower as a result of the burnout, and 2) They are leaving the field and taking their years of training, hand in hand engagement burnout resilience-001expertise and experience with them.This is not good for the employees, the employers, or the public. Burnout and lack of employee engagement go hand in hand.

We need a better solution and there is a mountain of evidence pointing to resilience as the missing piece. Resilience stands alone as the most important factor in maintaining employee engagement.

“The failure or loss of resilience in physicians leads to burn-out, which is a major concern in medical centres because of its impact on health care.” (Eley et al, 2013)

If you step back and look at the relationship between employee engagement and resilience, it becomes easy to see why addressing engagement by attempting to change the environment instead of strengthening employees is failing.

Perhaps employers are reluctant to spend their resources strengthening employees who can leave the organization. I can see how easy that objection to strengthening employees could be made. I also see how short sighted it is.

Beyond a certain point, the work and work environment is far more important to employees than compensation. If that weren’t true, many occupations would have to pay a great deal more to get anyone to do the work.

Does management affect culture? Yes, of course. But a resilient employee can thrive under a bad manager because that employee will respond in ways that support his or her own continued engagement. Resilience relies heavily on mindset. With the last really bad boss I had, I developed several mantras that helped me remain engaged with the work and the company even though I had no respect or trust for the boss I had caught lying and deliberately wasting company resources. At the time I worked for one of what I call the “Big Box banks” and in my time there my bosses tended to last 6 – 8 months, then I’d report to the Senior Vice President until a new boss was hired. I loved working directly for the SVP because of the mutual respect we’d developed over the years. The main thing I had to do to remain engaged in my role was remind myself that the bad boss would be gone soon.

Okay, yes, that is over simplification. But the other perspectives I took to feel better all flowed easily once that one was in place. Did I thrive? Yes. In fact, it was while working under that boss that I was promoted to Vice President. I also did not stress about him after hours. If my mind began ruminating about what he had done that was irritating, frustrating or infuriating I would remind myself that he would be gone soon, which enabled me to let it go. Was he gone soon? Yes. In fact, I’ve noticed that most really bad bosses don’t last too long–not just for myself but also with friends and family.

Who suffers most under a bad boss? It is not the most vulnerable. I was a single Mom raising two children on my own. It is the one who believe the current problem is going to be permanent. The ones who worry not just about today, but about what it will be like working for that bad boss in six months or six years. It is those who do not believe they can do anything about the situation.

Interestingly, those same traits are associated with depression. Ruminating, anxiety, and unnecessary worry make someone vulnerable–not their life circumstances.

What Difference Does this Make?

If your employees are not resilient, adverse circumstances can quickly lead to a lack of engagement. You cannot control the circumstances the employee works under. There are too many moving parts. You have some control over these parts but no control over most of them. The employer cannot control whether or not the:

  • Employee gets adequate sleep before coming to work
  • Employee’s children are cooperative while they prepare for the day ahead
  • Employee eats breakfast
  • Employee argues with members of their family before coming to work (or even during work)
  • The morning commute goes well (millions of moving parts here including other drivers being rude, getting  a ticket, having an accident, car breakdowns, spilling coffee, heavy traffic, noticing weeds allowed to flourish in a neighbor’s yard, a song on the radio that makes the employee feel sad, flat tires, parking issues, and more)
  • Other employees are rude to the employee
  • Customers are rude to the employee
  • Employee likes the way coffee in the breakroom was prepared
  • Employee has minor illnesses or aches/pains (i.e. tension headaches, minor stomach upset, indigestion, sore muscles, etc.)
  • Employee is worried about personal finances
  • Employee is worried about a child being bullied, skipping school, having sex, drinking, doing drugs, smoking or other undesired activities
  • Employee is worried about the health of a personal relationship
  • Employee is worried about a loved one for an unlimited number of reasons
  • Employee feels loved or appreciated by anyone
  • Employee finds meaning in their work (this is a function of perception–not the role)

The above list may seem lengthy but it is far from an exhaustive list of factors that contribute to the employee’s performance on any given day. If the employee works with others, whether bosses, peers, or subordinates each factor would be multiplied by each of the people with whom the employee has interactions.

The bottom line is that the employer cannot control the work environment beyond a very limited scope. How the employee responds to the circumstances has a far greater impact on employee engagement than anything the employer can do. Resilient employees respond to life’s ups and downs in ways that allow them to bounce back. What is a deep valley to an employee who lacks resilience is a mere pothole to the resilient employee.

The Good news is

Resilience is a learnable skill. (Cloninger & Cloninger, 2011)

Resilience leads to desirable traits including:

  • Being responsible
  • Perseverance
  • Psychological and Behavioral maturity
  • Cooperation
  • Optimism
  • Self-direction

Resilience is associated with a lack of unnecessary worry, anxiety, and negative rumination.

Building A Resilient Culture

You can build a resilient culture that will support and encourage engagement by teaching employees skills that increase their personal resilience. Once taught, there will be a natural tendency to support and strengthen that culture.

We all know, intuitively, that we want to feel good. Resilience feels better than the alternative. Working with other people who are resilient creates an atmosphere that is positive and nurturing. There is less competitiveness within the organization and more cooperation toward accomplishing shared goals. There is a greater desire to better oneself because the belief that doing so will have a positive outcome increases in the resilient individual. There is greater focus on solutions and less frustration with problems.

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Maimonides

Teaching employees the skills that lead to resilience is like teaching them to fish. Once acquired the skills are used because using them feels better than not using them. In an organization where all employees are being taught the skills the opportunities for positive reinforcement will help them quickly develop new habits of behavior and thought. The way these skills are taught makes individuals more receptive to feedback about course adjustments than they were before.

If you’re not satisfied with your employee engagement numbers or you’re concerned about burnout, contact us today for a free consultation. You’ll be glad you did.

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P.S. The other great benefit with our program? The way we increase resilience also increases Emotional Intelligence (EQ), an essential trait of leaders who can go the distance.

 


A Happier Huffington?

I was delighted to read Arianna Huffington’s post this weekend about how the Huffington Post changed its policies to present the news in a more balanced light.

A Happier Huffington is welcome news.

I’ve written several times about the fact that the news does not report to inform, but to get ratings, in several posts on LinkedIn and on my website, Happiness1st.com, including this post on how worry is killing you–unnecessary worry. Research in the past showed the media that ratings improve when people are frightened. I’ve seen the direct research and Bernard Goldberg’s 2002 book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, clearly describes the bias inherent in media reporting.

Despite the well documented bias, most people say they watch the news to stay informed, not consciously recognizing that the news is very skewed toward the negative. There are far more things that go right in this world every moment than those that go wrong. The predominant view seems to be that the news provides an accurate portrayal of the reality of our world–a view that is factually inaccurate.

In my writing, I’ve been doing my best to educate individuals and organizations about the benefits of positivity and detriments of negativity (pessimism). Our bodies function far better when we are positively focused–so much so that positively focused individuals live, on average, 10 years longer and enjoy 18 healthier years because the debilitating end of life diseases come much sooner to negatively focused individuals.

Doesn’t make sense, you say? That is only because the research on how positivity and negativity affects the body has not reached mainstream awareness yet. The sooner the better, if you ask me. Our bio-physical processes are directly affected by our mood. Immune function, cognitive function, digestive function, mental health, and neurological function are all optimized by a positive emotional state and become dysfunctional when an individual experiences more negative emotions.

In my first non-fiction book, True Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo, I detail the link between health and emotional state and provide techniques that help individuals change to a more positive focus. In my first novel, Shades of Joy, I write at length about the potential for class action attorney’s to find fertile ground using the negative bias of the news and the known detrimental effects of negativity–which are worse than the impact of smoking cigarettes. Shades of Joy is currently with the editor and will be out later this year. I have been attempting to get legislators to introduce a safe harbor against such suits contingent on the media no longer taking advantage of the negative bias and providing public service announcements to educate the public about positivity and programs that teach the public how to benefit from the new knowledge.

Stress and happiness are two ends of the same continuum. In this post, I wrote about the potential liability to employers from this knowledge, which it can be argued they should know. I think the media has a similar potential liability.

Apparently the old paradigm about negative news selling, “If it bleeds, it leads,” has a flaw in an era when sharing of stories has a tremendous effect on their reach. New research has shown that we share more stories that make us feel good than those that make us feel bad. That is good news all around. As far as I know, Arianna Huffington is the first major news supplier to recognize this and adjust the policies of her organization to fit the new paradigm better. I hope others follow her lead.

 


Public Health Manipulation?

Public Health Manipulation?

While researching my upcoming book, Become More Resilient: The Smart Way, I came across some research that I find quite disturbing.

The research was attempting to determine the reason for optimistic bias and whether or not it could be eliminated by increasing the subjects information about the risk, for example, the risk of getting cancer.

They theorized that in order to get people to do the preventative behaviors that would lower their risk, they had to reduce their optimistic bias. In order to do that, they wanted to determine if the reason for optimism was to reduce anxiety, to maintain self-esteem, or to maintain a positive emotional state.

What they did not consider in this misguided attempt was that positively focused individuals (optimists) have a lower risk of cancer. If you take the total risk of the population and ask an optimist to accept that risk as his or her own, it would be an overestimation of the individual risk. Why?

Research has shown that the presence of positive emotions has a beneficial impact on the bio-chemical function of our bodies. Specifically,

  • Improved immune function
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Increased likelihood of making good decisions about behaviors (diet, exercise, alcohol, etc.)
  • Improved digestive function

The very health promoting behaviors the researchers want more of are more likely to be done by those who feel positive emotion than those who are pessimistic, stressed, or in negative emotional states.

Their idea of making people feel less optimistic, which would lower the degree to which they feel positive emotions, flies in the face of strong evidence that demonstrates that positive emotions provide a protective effect against chronic illness and dread diseases. The improved immune function translates directly into a lower risk of cancer, which is supported by the evidence. The presence of positive emotions reduces the risk of heart disease (the #1 cause of death worldwide) at least 50% and some newer research is showing 70%.

Negative emotions have been shown to reduce the likelihood of an individual engaging in health promoting behaviors. Even individuals who know exercise is good for them and will make them feel better readily admit that they forgo their usual exercise routine when they feel too stressed. Food choices vary by mood, which negative emotion highly correlated to the less healthy choices. Alcohol and drug use are the method of choice for millions who do not have the skills necessary to reduce their level of stress (negative emotions).

In addition to being misguided for the above reason, the research was not considering the underlying cause of optimism and pessimism. The questions they asked were never going to address individual differences. Optimism (and pessimism) are the result of habits of thought individuals developed and then continue to repeat throughout life (unless they elect to deliberately change their habits). Thoughts are influenced by underlying beliefs about the self, others, and the world combined with the way the individual perceived past experiences. The number of unique permutations possible cannot be accurately modeled in a simple theory of reducing anxiety, maintaining self-esteem, or maintaining a positive emotional state.

Every individual has unique beliefs about every topic. For example, with respect to one’s mother, there will be beliefs that pertain to Mom and money, Mom and food, Mom and shopping, Mom and education, Mom and alcohol, Mom and cleanliness, Mom and family, Mom and other siblings, Mom and transportation, Mom and flowers. The list is endless. An individual may feel good about some of the beliefs about Mom, and bad about others.

How you feel about each of those topics depends on the perspective you take. If Mom was very frugal you may feel guilty when you buy anything that you do not consider necessary—even if you are able to easily afford luxuries. There are many ways to handle every scenario. You could behave frugally, not enjoying the prosperity available to you to avoid the guilt. Some people self-sabotage their career or investments so they do not have enough funds to violate this internalized rule about frugality. There are dozens of ways to handle this underlying belief but the best way is to develop a belief that serves your highest good. That’s easy—when you know how. Attempting to understand why any individual behaves in a specific way is not easy, or necessary.

Human behavior cannot be understood in a simple construct with three reasons for optimism. My own optimism comes from a variety of perspectives—and deliberate conscious choices. First, maintaining a positive state of mind is important to me because I want to feel good. But I also know that doing so is the absolutely best thing I can do for my health and my relationships. I developed skills that enable me to do this very well on a consistent basis regardless of circumstances. I also found a solid platform for healthy self-esteem, one that does not require defense against attacks and that does not place my worth or value above that of any other—but also not less than any other.

The details, the thoughts that support a positive emotional state vary widely depending on the circumstances focused on in any given moment. We think about 60,000 thoughts each day. Each thought results in an emotional response that either feels better, worse, or the same as the prior thought felt. To attempt to classify 60,000 thoughts into three buckets and derive meaningful and useful information from it is an exercise in futility.

Citations for the statistics in this article are included in True Prevention—Optimum Health: Remember Galileo. Many of them are also in other blogs on my website.

Jeanine Joy teaches others how to develop beliefs that create sustainable positive emotions. Her programs increase resilience, optimism, happiness, self-esteem, internal locus of control, and help them develop supportive relationships. Her programs are available for organizations, schools, and individuals.


Corporate Wellness: Is Yours Missing a Critical Ingredient?

Corporate wellness

The Current State of Corporate Wellness Programs

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

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

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

Smoking cessation.

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

Weight Management/Obesity/Anorexia/Bulimia

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

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

Diabetes Disease Management

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

Physical Inactivity

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

Depression

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

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

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

Poor Diet/Nutrition

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

Chronic Stress

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

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

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

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

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

Employee Engagement

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

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

Turnover/Retention

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

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

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

Because I’m Happy”

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

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

Cognitive Ability

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

Absenteeism

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

Productivity/Presenteeism

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

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

Optimists are more successful than pessimists in study after study.

Sales

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

Ethics/Morality

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

Education Components

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attracting Quality

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

Creativity

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

Diversity

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

Resilience

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

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

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

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

Sleep

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

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

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

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

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

Final Question

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

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

corporate wellness


The Best Employee Engagement Solution

Employee engagement

The Best Solution for HR’s Biggest Problem: Employee Engagement

Or, more specifically, how to increase employee engagement and retention.

Low engagement can act like a virus, spreading discontent throughout your organization, reducing productivity and increasing undesired turnover. The success of an organization can be tied directly to the level of employee engagement–it affects every area of the business.

The number of employees who would like to leave their current employer was more than 1 in 5 according to a Career Builder survey earlier this year. With turnover costs for lower level employees over $5,000 and many times that for higher level employees, retention is of tremendous importance to the ability of an organization to succeed.

What leads to engagement?

Workers who are dissatisfied with their jobs. Let’s chat about that for a moment. Presumably, at one point the employee was satisfied unless they were desperate for a job, any job, when they accepted the one they have. What changed? Often the employee became dissatisfied with one or more aspects of the role or the company and focused on the negative aspects until the perception of the job matched the perspective about a few undesired areas.

In many cases, this is changeable. It’s a matter of tipping the scale back in your favor and we know how to do that.

Dissatisfaction with advancement opportunities is another reason good talent leaves. It depends on the business model, but this is something that increased creativity can sometimes solve. The techniques we teach facilitate changes that increase creativity. That’s worth talking about.

Being highly stressed is another reason employees look for greener pastures. The skills we teach address the root cause of stress, easing that burden without requiring a change in circumstances. That’s powerful.

54% of the employees who have no intention of leaving their current employer cite liking the people they work with as the number one reason they won’t leave. That’s huge.

What makes co-workers enjoyable to work with? Kindness, collaboration, inclusion are a few of the words that come to mind and our techniques increase everyone of them. Research shows that happier, less stressed people are kinder to one another–even to strangers. They also demonstrate better corporate citizenship. The techniques we teach hit interpersonal conflict head-on and create employees who are able to get along with a wide variety of people and enjoy one another more. That’s gold.

Because our strategy addresses the root cause of so many problems, it improves the entire system.

Talk to us. We can help.

 


Self-Help with a Scientific Foundation; Suitable for Corporate Environments

Self-help with scientific foundation for companies

Helping to Create a Better World…

Until now, self-help and corporate environments have not been good friends. Happiness 1st Institute bridges the gap with scientifically supported stress reduction, optimism increasing skills that are both practical and effective.

The programs we offer are groundbreaking in numerous ways.

The tremendous benefits of decreasing stress and increasing optimism are great for employees, employers, and even customers. Employers benefit from increased engagement, reduced conflict, increased cognitive abilities, and increased emotional intelligence. Employees gain practical skills that make life feel more enjoyable without requiring circumstances to change. The skills improve their relationships at work and in their private lives. They also gain health benefits because stress decreases immune function which helps their bodies natural defenses keep them healthier. Customers prefer to deal with happy and positive employees so their level of satisfaction increases.

If you have salespeople, you may already know that optimistic sales people outsell even better qualified pessimists.

Our program checks all the boxes because the root cause of so many undesired things is the same — chronic stress.

Empowering employees with practical skills that enable them to reduce stress in every area of life, they become happier, more satisfied, healthier and smarter. Yes, smarter. Research is very clear that stress reduces cognitive function and optimism increases it.

Reducing stress has benefits that make many other things easier. Stressed bodies do not process food as well as bodies that are not stressed. Weight management is no longer defined as calories in–calories out. The new definition considers stress and mood, both of which impact how the body processes food and the food choices a person will make, with improved mood associated with healthier food choices.

Chronic stress is often the factor that leads to unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse, risky lifestyle behaviors, and even makes quitting smoking more difficult.

Ignoring chronic stress, or wearing it as a badge of honor–a common unhealthy habit–can lead to depression and other negative health outcomes. It increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes among other things. TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo. Wellness from the Root Cause for the 21st Century provides citations that support the statements in this post.

Our society is operating with inaccurate information about the effect of stress and about how much stress is healthy (or not terribly unhealthy, to be more accurate). The decrease in immune function happens quickly enough that researchers have been able to measure changes in very quickly after a stressor is introduced to research subjects. We now know that the negative impact to the immune function, cognitive function, and endocrine systems happen quickly. Stress is not something to “let go” for a while and deal with later. Good stress management requires us to be aware of the increase in stress level when it happens and make smart decisions to proactively apply the stress management skills.

The skills we teach are not the dose dependent techniques commonly recommended. While those do help stress levels, their dose dependent nature has a few pitfalls. The first is that they do not provide long-term benefits. The second is that those who need them the most are least likely to do them. The third is that they treat the symptom, not the root cause of stress. Exercise, helping other people, going outside, petting your cat or dog, and the other most frequently recommended methods are best for short-term relief. For long-term benefits, a skill based approach is best. Even meditation, which varies between dose dependent for those who do not have a consistent practice to providing some long term benefits to those who use it consistently, does not address the root cause of stress.

That is actually good news because that means the best we knew to do in the past has been improved upon, making the potential for good outcomes better than it’s ever been. We refer to our program as self-help with a scientific foundation because each individual is responsible for applying the skills to their own life. But the greatest thing about our program is that applying the skills provides positive emotional feedback each step of the way–creating intrinsic motivation that results in priceless benefits for everyone.

Ask us how we can address your businesses pressing concerns. We’re glad to help.


We Cannot See Reality

Does reality seem confusing?

Reality is fluid

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

The absence of negative emotions  presence of positive emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do you Want Better Employees?

Do You Want Better Employees?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is this shift?  Increased happiness causes:

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

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

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

The same employee is healthier when they are happier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How can employee happiness benefit your business?

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

Far more than most have ever imagined.

Happiness provides a solid foundation for success.

Do you wish your employees were smarter or more creative?

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

Would your life be easier if turnover declined?

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

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

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

Happiness is the answer!

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

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


How to be in the Flow at Work

More Great Days at Work

 

You know those days when everything just seems to go well?  You feel good, you feel like you look good, inspirations come to you, the day just flows?

Think about those days. Aren’t they the ones when you feel happy?  The day when you have a smile on your face when you get out of bed for some reason, something you were thinking about that makes you feel happy, some event you are looking forward or an encounter with someone that you are remembering with pleasure or looking forward to?

Now think about the days that seem like Murphy’s Law “If it can go wrong, it will” would be an accurate description of the day. Aren’t those days the ones when you did not feel all that great when you started the day?  Sure, maybe you stubbed your toe, but even before then, were you thinking about having to do something you did not want to do or trying to figure out how to do something you wanted to do but did not think you could?

How happy you are impacts greatly the type of day you have, which impacts the type of week, month and year you have.

Most people believe that some people are just naturally inclined to happiness more than others but that is a myth. It is something society has reached a false conclusion upon and most people buy into it.

Happiness can be learned. I don’t say it can be taught because the student must do the work; no one can do it for them. But, if the student is willing and has a desire to be happier and a belief that it is possible anyone can learn to be happier.

How happy can someone learn to be?  Very, very happy, joyful even is quite possible and it does not matter where the student is when they begin. They can get there. The 2nd best news, after knowing that anyone can learn to be happier is that the life circumstances of the individual desiring to be happier do not matter in the level of happiness that can be achieved.

However, life circumstances can improve greatly when the person becomes happier.

Not only can greater levels of happiness be reached by learning how to be happier, they can be maintained at a higher set point than they were before the individual learned how to deliberately choose happiness.

Why would an employer care about the happiness of employees?  There are myriad reasons but two areas are of high importance to employers.

There is a scientifically documented positive correlation between employee happiness and productivity. There is also a scientifically documented correlation between happiness and wellness.

Employers want productive employees. They also want employees who come to work and employees who tend to be healthy. Happiness is far more effective than gym membership benefits and other wellness initiatives offered by many employers.

A happy employee who feels good and feels good about himself or herself does not need to be incented to be physically active. They will feel like doing those things because the idea of doing them will feel good to them in ways it does not feel good when they are not happy or do not have a good self image.

It is not necessary to have a model-perfect body to feel good about oneself. Someone who does not feel good about themselves has thoughts flowing through their mind like “Why should I bother?  I won’t get a date with _____ anyway” or “I am uncomfortable going to a gym because I don’t like being looked at and I don’t like what I think others think when they see me there.”

Someone who is happy will have very different thoughts. “It feels so good to move my body. I really enjoy coming here. I don’t know why I did not do this sooner but I am glad I am doing it now.”

One of the major changes learning to be happy creates is a switch in the thoughts we think.

Additionally, recently there were 17 states that had passed or had pending legislation to protect against work place bullying. The consistent aspect of the legislation is putting the onus on the employer to prevent such behavior. When we really think about this we realize that, except in the most egregious of situations, bullying is in the eye of the receiver. Unfortunately, the legislation is not seeing it from this angle and puts employers in a somewhat untenable situation. While a co-worker or even a boss could say something to a happy person and it would be perceived as that person trying to get their way, perhaps being pushy but certainly nothing to call Human Resources about much less hire an attorney over whereas another employee, perhaps one who generally feels like a victim, experiencing the same circumstances would feel very bullied. This legislation seems to put employers in a powerless situation.

However, helping employees learn to be happy can totally remove that “I am a victim, I am powerless” attitude toward life that some individuals have developed. This would directly impact how the individual would respond to the same circumstances which would reduce the likelihood of them feeling they had been bullied.

Another major benefit of happier employees is better customer interactions. Don’t you love it when the person who serves  you is happy?  Whether it is the waiter or waitress, the airline steward, the receptionist who takes your call, or anyone else you interact with?

Think about the impact on your business if your employees begin smiling more often with genuine smiles. Happy people tend to feel more caring toward others so customers would feel more genuine warmth when the employee asks “How are you?”  The benefits of happier employees are vast. Also, it is very difficult to complain about someone who is very pleasant to you, even if they happen to make a mistake the customer is more likely to not make a big deal about it as long as it is resolved.

I want to circle back to the beginning now. To those days that just go well. Don’t the good ideas just flow to you on those days?  Imagine managers who deliberately tune themselves to a happy state and have those days routinely. Where the solutions appear almost before the problem is fully known. Think how smoothly your business would run with managers like that. You don’t need new managers to have that; you just need the ones you have to learn to be happier.

The positive impact on your employees and your business are assured when your employees learn to be happier.

Why does anyone do anything?  In the final analysis, they do it because they believe it will make them feel better. Even the individual who goes to a job they hate every day does so because they feel better getting the paycheck than they would if they did not get the paycheck. 

Happiness is equal to the highest of human desires. Only being authentic and love rank as high as happiness in study after study. Happiness consistently outranks wealth, success, fame, status, attractiveness, sex, health, and enlightenment in the same studies.

Many studies are cited on our website. 

Classes are offered in person and on-line. Everyone who does the work and is willing to believe they can be happier will experience a sustainable increase in the level of their own happiness. Prices vary based on class size and method of delivery. In person classes away from the Charlotte, NC area are available for groups. Classes can also be designed with a mix of both in person and online delivery. Individualized coaching sessions are also available and can be very beneficial for anyone enduring severe situations including severe health issues. Attitude can be everything in successfully overcoming health issues and individual coaching can contribute greatly to a positive attitude. 


All-in-one Wellness Programs are Flawed, Incomplete

Workplace Wellness: missing Ingredient

All In One Wellness Programs are Flawed

Right now I am giving companies the benefit of the doubt when they promote an “All In One Wellness Program” and a review of the program reveals that it does not contain a substantial element to decrease stress (or increase employee positivity and optimism, which is essentially the same thing).

Why am I giving them the benefit of the doubt?

Because much of the information and research on the benefits is still silo’d among various branches of science. It is only my deep and burning passion for the subject that has led me to look across disciplines and see the whole picture.

It is still common for me to read research and books from that indicate about some findings “But we don’t know why” when I do know why from research in another branch of science.

Also, even if they are aware of some of the stunning scientifically proven benefits (such as 50% risk reduction for the number one killer, cardiovascular disease just knowing the benefits does not help they much if they do not know how to help people become more optimistic and positively focused. With depression rates at epidemic proportions worldwide it might seem futile to consider this path but that is a false premise.

Classes have been developed classes that can teach anyone with the desire how to increase their level of optimism and positivity. It is not hard and or expensive to do. In fact, when the benefits are weighed against the cost it is cheaper than dirt.

A combination of knowledge and skills has been masterfully woven together to create classes that not only increase positivity and optimism but also many other aspects that are beneficial to employers such as emotional intelligence and resilience.

The results address not only health care issues such as costs, absenteeism, and presenteeism but also increase productivity, reduce turnover and employee bickering and improve relationships of all types.

Utilizing many evidence based skills these classes have been carefully crafted to benefit each individual in ways that are suitable for them.

When you consider that increased positivity and optimism have greater health benefits than quitting smoking or losing weight and that a more positively focused individual is more likely to be self-motivated to make good choices about nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and sleep the benefits of increased positivity double.

So, for now, they get the benefit of the doubt.

What do those who adopt a program to increase employee optimism and positivity get?  They get a competitive advantage that will propel them ahead of other companies who are late adopters.