Tag Archive: pessimism

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.


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.


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.

 


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.


Two Kinds of Happiness

Two kinds of happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We ask ourselves, is that all there is?

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

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

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

Why would you want to do this?

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

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

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

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


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.


What will it take to Wake You Up?

What Will It Take to Wake You Up?

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

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

The scientific evidence of this is clear.

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

Are you still harboring resentment towards a long ago wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We hope this article stimulates discussion. If this article stimulates thoughts, questions, or comments please post them below. The comments are moderated so they will not appear immediately. Comments and questions are taken seriously. By sharing them here rather than sending them by private mail you share with other readers and not just the author. All comments are read and all earnest questions are responded to. If you have something to say that truly applies only to you and me then send me an email. Please feel to share this article with others using the share buttons or by sending them a link to this page. Comments that are not related to the topic of this website or that are blatant advertisements are deleted to preserve the integrity of the site. We look forward to your feedback. If you would like to register for or are interested in additional information on our classes, one-on-one coaching, or speakers for your event please contact us. 


An Open Letter About Optimism

An open letter about Optimism

Is the glass half full or half empty?

For many years we have just taken our ‘seemingly’ natural slant toward optimism or pessimism as a fact of life, as something that is an intrinsic part of ourselves, unchangeable.

Those with a pessimistic attitude have not fought against or resisted their ‘seemingly’ natural state, believing it unchangeable and probably not all that important.

Science has now shown us that we do have control over whether we are optimistic or pessimistic. If we decide to change ourselves we can do so. Both outlooks are merely habitual patterns of thought.

Science has also shown us that there are many benefits to being more optimistic than pessimistic. These benefits, in general, include:

Optimists are healthier

Optimists live longer

Optimists are better salespeople

Optimists are more successful in most endeavors

Optimists are not as susceptible to depression

Optimists have better relationships

The saying “Blondes have more fun” might be more accurately stated as “Optimists have more fun”.

So, what can you do about it?

You can  take our Keys to Happiness course which not only increases happiness but optimism, emotional intelligence and resilience. The course is fun and easy and will give you all the skills and knowledge necessary to shift your focus from being pessimistic to optimistic.

Does your pessimism serve you in your profession?  One of the other benefits of our course is that you can choose to be flexible. You can focus upon becoming more optimistic in your personal life while retaining your professional skepticism. The two can cohabitate successfully when you consciously choose this path. Even if your pessimism serves you in some aspects of your profession it is not benefiting your relationships with co workers, bosses and employees. You can fine tune your optimism/pessimism switch so that the attitude that is most beneficial to you in the moment is the one you apply.

Pessimists may have difficulty believing they can change or that this course will be helpful. Feel free to check out our Science section where citations from many studies are provided. You can use the citations to locate and read the studies. You will also be able to see for yourself as students answer a questionnaire about optimism and pessimism at the beginning and end of the course to determine their progress.

Deciding to take the course is a small investment of time and money that has the potential to improve your life experience in countless ways.

If you would like to be happier, if you would like to feel less trepidation, fear, anxiety, worry and concern take the class.

If you tend to focus on the negative aspects of your family and friends take the class.

If you have dreams and goals that you believe are impossible to reach take the class.

You will be happy you did.

Best Wishes for a happy life,

Jeanine Joy, President

Happiness 1st Institute

www. happiness1st. com

PS:  Recent findings show that optimism is a trait associated with a 50% risk reduction in the nation’s # 1 cause of death, cardiovascular disease.