Tag Archive: wellness

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

Burnout Prevention and Recovery

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

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

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

Designed to be easy

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

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

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

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

Build Resilience by applying Science

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

Healthcare Organizations Have Work To Do, Too

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

Why the Authors are Qualified to Write This Book

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

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

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

·         Collegial pressures

·         EMR/EHR

·         Practice economics

·         Insurance Companies

·         Human resource issues

 

People making their living off Physicians

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

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

Coping Skills Make a Difference

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

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

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

Stress Coping Strategies

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

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

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

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

World You Want

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

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

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

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

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

Preferred Future

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

 What the Preferred Future looks like:

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

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

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

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

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

      Low stress = High Happiness

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

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

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

  Employee Engagement has been high for years

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

  Relationships of all type are better, divorces are not common

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

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

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

What is emotional guidance?

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

What is metacognition?

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

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

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

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

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

There are some fundamentals informed by science, including:

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

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

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

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

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

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Understand Your Brain More = Thrive More

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

Your perception becomes your reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nose Blind Commercial

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


Stress GREATLY Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

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

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

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

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

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

Stress interferes with our ability to stick to our goals.

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

How do you know if you’re stressed?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity


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)


Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

As Thoreau said,

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

If you substitute stress for evil, I would say,

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

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

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

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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

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

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

The negative effects begin immediately.

Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

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


Primary Prevention of Heart Disease: Infographic

Save Lives Save Money Prevent CVD

Primary Prevention Saves Lives and Saves Money

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

Primary Prevention of Heart Disease

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a long, healthy and happy life.

                                Jeanine Joy

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

 


When Only You Can Prevent Suicide Giveaway Announcement

When Only You Can Prevent Suicide

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

Watch for updates.

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

 


Does Retaining and Motivating Your Employees Keep You Awake at Night?

Retaining and Motivating

Retaining and Motivating Employees

One of the greatest risks companies currently face is retaining their talent as the job market begins to feel safer to employees who have hunkered down during the down economy. They stuck with you–perhaps pulling double duty without raises–to help you weather the storm. Positions that were cut or not replaced meant a loss of institutional knowledge that now resides in the brains of fewer people, increasing the risk when key players decide to move on.

You are tasked with motivating and retaining these people. How can you do this within existing budget constraints with competing demands on corporate resources?

How do we accomplish these goals and so much more?

The root cause of motivation to do a good job and motivation to stay with a specific employer is related at the root cause. We understand how to provide employees with skills that help them self-manage their perspectives that results in better-feeling perspectives. These perspectives help you check all the boxes and a whole lot more.

For example, feeling appreciated is both a matter of the actual feedback and the perception of that feedback by the receiver. If the receiver has a negative voice in his head that refutes the truth of the positive feedback, for all intents and purposes it feels as if no feedback was given. Or,even worse, the negative voice can convince the employee that things are worse than they thought they were before the feedback.

Job Security is another area where perception really matters. I’ve worked along side people who were full of fear while I, with much greater financial responsibilities and less flexibility (i.e. single parent household) did not feel afraid at all. We provide employees with skills that help them form more realistic perspectives that invariably feel more secure. The most stable company cannot convince someone whose brain is telling them to be afraid to feel secure. The employee has to be empowered to find that perspective by understanding why they perceive it the way they do and providing skills that give them the option to find a better perspective.

Career Opportunities are part perception and part communication. I’ve seen employees leave a company where there were many opportunities but the employee perceived those opportunities as not available to her. It really boiled down to low self-esteem and self-selection as not a viable candidate–not lack of opportunity. Our program increases open communication and self-esteem.

When the root cause is addressed, the benefits flow throughout the system. We can even help you sleep better at night.


Workplace Stress: The New Asbestos?

danger stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pay Attention: Think Long-Term

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-Term May Mean… Tomorrow

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

What can you do to manage this risk?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Benefits

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

Take Action…Today

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

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

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

Contact us today, sleep better tonight.

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

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


TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo

True Prevention

A Path to Primary Prevention

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

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

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

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


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

The absence of negative emotions  presence of positive emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do you Want Better Employees?

Do You Want Better Employees?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is this shift?  Increased happiness causes:

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

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

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

The same employee is healthier when they are happier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How can employee happiness benefit your business?

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

Far more than most have ever imagined.

Happiness provides a solid foundation for success.

Do you wish your employees were smarter or more creative?

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

Would your life be easier if turnover declined?

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

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

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

Happiness is the answer!

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

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


Positivity Reduces the Risk of Needing Long Term Care

Positivity Reduces the Risk of Needing Long Term Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hiding after Heartbreak?

Living with a heart behind walls, bars, moats, and under lock and key is not really living.

You may feel that you are not strong enough to withstand another heartbreak and see no other alternative.

That, too, is natural.

You were never built to endure heartbreak and strong negative emotions for long periods of time. None of us were.

At the core of who you are you understand this.

There is a path that allows you to love as openly and freely as a young, trusting child without fear of pain or heart ache.

This path gives you the control over how you feel. No one else can hurt you or make you unhappy for more than a few minutes ever again when you understand this path and how to travel this beautiful path.

The control ill be yours and you will have tools to manage your own level of not only happiness but joy.

When you truly understand how this path works you will be able to love more openly and freely than most of the people on the planet. When you love you are lovable. Everyone from the grocery clerk to the staff at your dentists office to your mate will love interacting with you.

Break out of your self-imposed prison and live life as it was meant to be, full of love and fun and connection with others.

Class will teach you the keys to Golden Relationships, relationships with a partner that will last joyfully to the Golden (5oth) anniversary and beyond. Although the focus is on love relationships the class provides information that is key to good relationships of all types. Healing of past wounds and avoiding new wounds (but not from withdrawing from life) becomes far easier than you ever imagined with the knowledge and skills taught in our course.

Even relationships with someone who is out of your life can be healed, regardless of whether they are still breathing or not. Their presence is not required in order for you to heal.

Join us for a journey that will help you enjoy life in all its glory once more.

Classes are offered in person and on-line.

Contact us at Information@Happiness1st.com for information on upcoming classes.

For more information on the benefits of increased happiness and positivity see our website. Happiness1st.com


Negative Thoughts Kill Your Brain Cells

Negative Thoughts Kill (Brain Cells)

So many branches of science are demonstrating the benefit of positivity. Positive and optimistic thoughts are good for us — good for our health, our relationships, our success, and our very ability to think clearly.

I feel great appreciation for the scientists from so many different fields of study who have turned their attention to human thriving. Without their hard work and dedication I would not have been able to weave together a program that provides both the skills and knowledge needed for individuals to successfully think more positively.

I have heard that refrain for most of my life – “Be Positive” or “Look on the bright side” or “Don’t worry, be happy”?  It always sounded like good advice but I did not know how for a long time. As I learned how it became clear why so many people attempt to change in this area and fail — I learned the common reasons for not being successful and gathered the resources and knowledge necessary to overcome those common obstacles.

Information was gathered from countless bodies of knowledge. If it could contribute to the truth about how to create greater human thriving I was interested, passionately interested in understanding it.

The programs we offer stand on the shoulders of not one giant, but many giants who came before and without whom we would never have been able to create this magnificent program.

They have provided all the information necessary to help anyone thrive in ways they may have never believed possible. The program empowers individuals to succeed in their well-being, in their relationships, in their earthly pursuits, in following their passion, in understanding their purpose, in all that is important.

Today I happened upon another piece of the puzzle that I am going to share. I love it when science is presented in a clear manner that many people can relate to. I love the masterful way this material is presented. It starts out as if it is religious but it is not – any person of any faith, spiritual belief or atheism can find value in the message in this video.

But, as brilliant as the mind that created it is — he still includes a negative thought in his positive meditation – even though he intends for it to be a positive meditation. As he states, his deepest belief is compassion he pulls himself back to a negative thought by adding that he is not good at being compassionate. This makes it clear that even experts can gain by guidance — that learning to be positively focused takes both knowledge and skills. That is what we provide in our programs at Happiness 1st Institute.

Use the Contact Us area of our website to find out about the new and exciting classes that will help you build more brain cells as well as other products and services.


The Power of Appreciation

Is Happiness Wrong?

The Power of Appreciation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can have the life of your dreams.

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

Comments are welcome.


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. 


Go Confidently in the Direction of your Future

Go Confidently in the direction of your future

Live the life of your dreams

Learn how in this course, designed to increase resilience, self mastery, optimism, happiness, emotional intelligence, and well-being.

The same skills and knowledge can help you improve all your relationships.

You will feel more empowered and feel more confident in your ability to succeed in anything you set your mind to.

Young adults face many challenges. You are making decisions about your future both when you choose a college and when you decide whether or not to participate in particular activities.

For some, peer pressure exerts undue influence and leads them away from their real goals. This class will help you feel more confident about where you really want to go and what you want to do. The tools provided are effective, even in the moment, to help you stay on track.

Science has demonstrated that increasing happiness literally makes you smarter. You will do better on examinations, including the SAT, when you are happy than when you are not happy.

Your decisions about exercise, nutrition, getting adequate sleep and even crime and substance abuse will be healthier when you experience generally positive emotions.

Depression is at epidemic levels around the world and the rates are especially high for teens and young adults. The good news is that you live at the perfect time. Many branches of science have been exploring happiness and resilience. We have taken the best of that leading edge science and used that knowledge to develop our courses. We believe this class will equip you with skills and tools to greatly reduce your risk of depression and which would shorten the duration of depression should it still occur.

It has been shown that depression during pregnancy has many adverse impacts on the baby including sleep and behavior problems, depression and asthma. These scientific findings point to the importance of learning these skills. In fact, depression has been shown to be a risk factor for teen pregnancy.

The benefits provided by this class have been shown to increase many life skills that make the difference between a mediocre life where dreams are put aside and one where thriving is the order of the day.

We want you to thrive. We know you can. All you need is some knowledge and skills.

Almost every other course you have ever taken has been focused on providing you with knowledge that it has been determined will help you please others. This course is focused on empowering you, giving you the tools and knowledge you need to be successful. Some would say this is selfishly oriented. We (and science) disagree. When you are capable of managing your own life you require fewer resources from others and science has shown that when individuals are happy they are far more likely to help others. The bottom line is that science has shown that an individuals happiness does not just benefit that individual but also his or her family, friends, co-workers and community.

Your very capacity for kindness and ability to love will increase.

The benefits of increased happiness are tremendous. You will learn why relationships are easier when you are happy.

Happiness also provides health benefits including 50% risk reduction for heart disease, reduced risk for some cancers, reduced risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s, improved immune function, fewer colds and flu and so much more. See our website for more information on the scientifically proven benefits.

Many will tell you to be more positive. We do not just tell you, we show you how.

 

We have over 50 skills and techniques that can be used to increase your happiness in the moment and to become happier naturally for the long-term. Some of the techniques can also be applied to improve your results in sports.

Taking this class is a wise decision. Your life will be better because of it.

Please click on our program tab for additional course information and  to register for this life changing program.

The terms we use to refer to areas the class will benefit are defined differently by different people. This is especially true of happiness. Our meanings are reflected below.

Happiness is a deep sense of inner stability, well-being, peace and vitality that is consistent and reliable.

Resilience is an individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity. Increased resilience helps individuals recover from setbacks (illness, depression, adversity, etc. ) faster than they would without the coping strategies that our course strengthens.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to effectively understand oneself and others which impacts the ability to relate well to people and higher EQ levels help individuals be more successful in meeting the demands and pressures of life.

Optimism is an inclination to project a positive point of view upon actions and events and to anticipate favorable outcomes. Optimists tend to be much more successful than pessimists and to experience better health throughout life.

Self Mastery is the ability to be aware of your emotions and rule them rather than have them rule you. Self mastery is the ability to make the most out of your physical, mental, and spiritual health, to be the best you can be.

Well-Being ~ high levels of well-being mean that we are more able to respond to difficult circumstances, to innovate and constructively engage with other people and the world around us. As well as representing a highly effective way of bringing about good outcomes in many different areas our lives, there is also a strong case for regarding well-being as an ultimate goal of human endeavor. It contributes to the individual ability to realize his or her own potential, to cope with the normal stresses of life, to work productively and fruitfully, and the ability to make a contribution to her or his community.