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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Army Wife Talk Radio

Downloadable Re-play 

Jeanine Joy is very excited about being invited to be a guest on Army Wife Talk Radio on  October 5, 2015. She knows military wives often have it tough and don’t always receive the help or recognition they deserve.

The goals of the Army Wife Network resonate with her:

Our purpose is to motivate, inspire, and empower Army families worldwide to make the most of their military journey. We do this by providing helpful information, interviews, and tips that take the guesswork out of Army life.

In 2011, we offered my 40-hour happiness increasing and resilience-building program free to 1,000 veterans of the United States and our English-speaking allies. We are ashamed to admit that at the time we did not think to offer spouses or other family members access to the course.  That is an oversight that we will not make the next time we are able to make such an offer.  That oversight points to a common problem, one Army Wife Network seeks to address.

For now, we are immediately expanding our veteran’s discounts to military spouses and children.  Our programs are limited to mature 14-year olds and above (accompanied by a parent until age 18) unless it is a program offered in a school or at a religious institution. Younger children can certainly benefit, but it is important for parents to understand the techniques employed to relieve stress so they can support their children.

What Will The Show Cover?

 

It is never possible to know in advance what will be discussed on a live broadcast, but topics that may be covered during the show include:

  • A way to maintain a close relationship during long separations.
  • How to be supportive and practice good self-care when someone you love seems to change for the worse.
  • How to be resilient when you’re worried.
  • How to sustain friendships during times of high stress.
  • How to be honest and soothe children when their Father is away.
  • How to lessen loneliness.
  • How to make moving often easier on yourself.
  • How to reduce stress when you’re overwhelmed.
  • One way to make life less stressful everyday.
  • How to manage and avoid negative spirals when you can’t find a good-feeling thought.
  • How to be strong and get the emotional support you need.
  • Transitions between parenting and co-parenting—making it easier during and after deployment.
  • How to deal with your own anxiety and depression.

Jeanine Joy is making sure she has responses that are filled with practical techniques that can be used in real life and explained quickly enough to make the show rich with actionable techniques. She’d love to be part of a catalyst that creates an upward spiral for military spouses.

Additional resources are available at the Army Wife Network.

Also, feel  free to ask questions in the comments section below. We’ll do my best to respond to as many as we can.

 Listening Instructions

To listen to the show, broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on October 5, 2015, go to Army Wife Talk Network. You can listen from around the world over your computer. The show will also be recorded and available for download if you cannot listen when it is live.

Twitter

I won’t be able to participate on Twitter while I’m being interviewed. I’m just not that skilled at multi-tasking, I will respond after the broadcast.

@armywifenetwork

Hashtag: #armywife

@JeanineJoyJOY

The Army Wife Network has the following advice about using Twitter:

“It is very hard to keep up with a single conversation on Twitter. We use TweetChat as our aggregator. Via TweetChat you can follow our hashtag – #armywife – and view all posts associated with it. That way the conversation flows better. Simply visit TweetChat.com and login with your Twitter username and password. You’ll see a box with “hashtag to follow” and you’ll enter “armywife.” All of the tweets that have been posted with #armywife will show up. If you want to not miss posts while you’re doing something else, you can hit the “pause” button. To catch up, simply click “start.” To Tweet within TweetChat, simply type in the large box at the top of the screen. TweetChat will automatically add the #armywife so you are participating in the conversation. Clicking on the arrow icon lets you reply directly to someone’s tweet. The square “retweets”- essentially the Twitter equivalent of the Facebook share. The star “favorites” a tweet, functioning as a Facebook “like.”

Facebook

Join the conversation on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArmyWifeNetwork


Smoking Relationship to Stress

Smoking Relationship to Stress

You don’t want to smoke.

You know smoking is bad for you.

You’ve tried to quit. Maybe you’ve even quit–for a while.

Why is it so difficult for you to quit?

The answer may be stress.

Smokers are, on average, far more stressed than non-smokers and smoking reduces their stress. It’s a method of stress management that helps–some. But the long-term result is not good and the risks to your health increase stress.

The key is to reduce stress and then become a non-smoker. When your stress level is lower and you have skills to keep it that way, you won’t go back to smoking after you quit. Quit once. It’s far easier that way.

We can help. Contact us today.

Smoking Relationship to Stress


Your Programming is Like Pandora, not Spotify

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of day do you want?

Top of the World

Top of the World – The Old Fashioned Way

Hot Rod Lincoln

Life is hard and then you die

When a Man Loves a Woman

How do you choose the tone of your day?

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

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

Why bother?

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

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

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

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

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


Another Opinion: Retirement Adjustments

In my Another Opinion posts, I answer questions that were asked of syndicated advice columns–providing another opinion.

In the July 30, 2015, Charlotte Observer a recent retiree asked Amy Dickinson how to respond to the question, “What do you do all day?” The retiree stated he was feeling put down for no longer working full time and signed his letter – Retired and Happy

Amy’s advice was fine, as far as it went, “Use it to begin a conversation that might be interesting.” (paraphrased)

Going deeper with the answer would be of more benefit to Retired and Happy.

Humans use labels to describe ourselves. Many labels are attached to us even before we’re born (i.e. our age, racial heritage, socioeconomic class, etc.) Others labels are attached to us as soon as we’re born (gender, healthy, unhealthy, fussy, good, etc.). This pattern continues throughout life.  We then internalize those labels and use them to define who we are. Our self-esteem is often tied to the labels we accept as self-defining. Life is a series of stages that we pass through. We define ourselves by the labels attached to us at specific stages (student, adult, single, married, divorced, doctor, graduate, lawyer, businessman, athlete, parent, retiree, etc.)

When we transition from one stage (label) to another it is important that we stop judging our worth based on a label we have outgrown.

  • The former student who continues to judge herself by always being right becomes afraid to take risks she should take because she is still attempting to get straight A’s. As a businesswoman, she has to learn to take risks if she wants to succeed.
  • The newly married individual can experience significant adjustments such as making sure the plans he makes don’t conflict with his wife’s plans.
  • The college football linebacker has to adjust his diet when he gets a desk job because he is no longer burning as many calories.
  • The working woman decides to stay home to raise her children has to adjust her perception of self or she will be frustrated at the lack of intellectual stimulation and adult interaction she receives, which can result in her seeming needy to her spouse who is still going to an outside job each day.
  • The wife whose stay-at-home husband returns to the workforce after the children go to college must adjust her expectations about the chores he will continue doing at home, or he will feel overburdened.
  • The recently disabled individual must adjust the basis of his self-worth if it was tied to his physical prowess or face extra and unnecessary problems with plummeting self-esteem on top of dealing with the physical challenges.

The recent retiree who feels a bit defensive when people ask him what he does all day is reflecting that he feels less valuable now that he is no longer going to working. Seniors have significant value that is unique to them–the wisdom each of us gains from life experiences. He is simply using old criteria to judge the worth of his current activities. A simple adjustment in the basis for his self-worth will enable him to see the question about how he spends his days as the innocent conversation it is and not a condemnation of his choice to retire. It may take a little work to adjust the basis because many of us are taught that we are only valuable when we are contributing through work, but a change of perception is possible and will make life better for him.

Until he makes this shift, he will have difficulty taking this common question into stride, despite his great answer, “Whatever I want.” He’ll enjoy his ability to do whatever he wants far more when he’s not fighting a sense that his value as a human being is less because he is retired. It’s not.

 

 


Stressed Employees and Business Owners

Stressed employees and business ownersStressed employees and business owners

Helping Stressed Employees and Business Owners

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

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

The changes become permanent and life is less stressful thereafter.

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

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

 


Empower Yourself

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

Default programming is not optimal programming.

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

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

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

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

Empower Yourself

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

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

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Call for Peace

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

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

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

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

Happy people aren’t killing anyone.

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

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

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

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

Anger does not validate the rightness of your stance.

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

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

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

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

Anger comes from a dis-empowered perspective.

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

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

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

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

Politicians and soldiers do not bring true peace.

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

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

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

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

If you feel the Call for Peace:

The first step is to recognize what emotions are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say easier, because we can already to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography

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

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Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

As Thoreau said,

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

If you substitute stress for evil, I would say,

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

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

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

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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

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

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

The negative effects begin immediately.

Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

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


Resilience and Mental Health for Nepal

Resilience and Mental Health for NepalResilience and Mental Health for Nepal

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

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Employee Respect: Who Gets It?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smart Employers Know . . .

Smart Employers Know the effect of chronic stress on the success of their employees and therefore, their business.

The smartest employers are implementing programs that teach employees psychological flexibility that considers the human drive for autonomy and reduces stress far more than any of the dose dependent stress reduction methods.¹ ²

Smart Employers Know that focusing their efforts on Primary Prevention which is designed to prevent problems from occurring, rather than waiting until after they occur to address them, will always be ahead of those whose strategy is reactive.

Smart Employers Know that the level of stress most employees experience in modern society is typically enough to be in the harmful level. Our society routinely tolerates far higher levels of stress than is healthy, often wearing the level of stress tolerated as a badge of honor. This tactic is completely ignorant of the facts that living with chronic stress:

  • Decreases the function of our immune system, leading to more illness and earlier deaths
  • Decreases cognitive function, leading to more unhealthy decisions and a lower ability to solve problems
  • Contributes significantly to the high percentage of GNP we spend on health care while receiving poor results
  • Increases the chance of addictions
  • Is the leading contributor to mental health issues from depression, anxiety to bipolar disorder and more
  • Increases the prevalence of chronic diseases that rob people of a high quality of life far too often and at young ages
  • Significantly reduces the quality of relationships of all types, from spouses and children to co-workers and neighbors
  • Is the # 1 factor that prevents good results in:
    • Employee Engagement
    • Turnover
    • Absenteeism
    • Creativity
  • The impact of stress begin almost instantaneously and compounds over time
  • The risk of preterm delivery of our offspring when we’ve endured chronic stress for years
  • The negative impact on physical, mental, and behavioral health of our children

Smart Employers Know that employees who have been trained in psychological flexibility experience significantly lower harmful stress under situations that produce harmful levels of stress in those who do not deliberately use their ability to be psychologically flexible to reduce stress.

What could your team do that it is not doing now?

Contact us today to learn how we can help your team develop winning mindsets and the psychological flexibility it takes to go the distance and arrive healthy.

(704) 25 one -51 five zero

¹ Kashdan, Todd B., Psychological Flexibility as a Fundamental Aspect of Health, Clin Psychol Rev. 2010 November 1; 30(7): 865–878., doi:  10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.001,

² Gorin, Amy. A., Powers, Theodore A., Koestner, Richard, Wing, Rena R., Raynor, Hollie, Autonomy Support, Self-Regulation, and Weight Loss, Health Psychology, 2014, Vol. 33, No. 4, 332–339, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0032586

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Mental Illness – Will the Stigma Ever Go Away?

Guest Post: I decided to post Dr. Lynn K. Jones’ blog because it is the best summary I’ve ever read on this topic. I believe the key to eliminating the stigma is education and knowledge. When society realizes the cost of stigma they will be willing to let it go. (Reprinted with permission.) Link to her website is here. – JJ

The Stigma of Mental Illness – Will it Ever Go Away?

“Psycho.”  “Loco.”  “Insane.”  These are the words that we all grew up with to describe someone that was—well, perhaps, a little off.  Not only that.  When we talked about one of these people, we said it with contempt:  “He’s totally crazy!”

Tom Wootton heard playground taunts in his head when he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 45.  He flashed on a memory of everyone jeering at one of his classmates.  “I thought: If I am bipolar, then I must be crazy.  I just couldn’t accept that for a long time.”

Wootton is not alone.  “This self-stigmatization, the internalizing of stigma, is one of the most significant barriers keeping people from accessing mental health treatment,” suggests Patrick W. Corrigan, Psy.D., professor, Institute of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology, principal investigator of the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research and executive director of the Joint Research Programs in Psychiatric Rehabilitation.  Fifty-four million Americans, nearly one in five, have a mental health disorder and nearly two-thirds of them won’t seek treatment1 because of stigma.  That means that the playground stereotypes that affect our attitudes have consequences.  Often fatal consequences.

“An indication of how strongly held these beliefs are, is that many people would rather tell employers that they committed a petty crime and served time in jail than admit to being in a psychiatric hospital,” according to Amy Watson, MSW, PhD, previously the program director of the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research and presently assistant professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What is Stigma?

“Stigma involves setting apart a group in society and associating particular characteristics with them, which we think of as stereotypes,” says Beth Angell, MSW, Ph.D., assistant professor of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.  “In the mind of the public, having a mental illness seems to be associated with some undesirable attribute, for example the belief that people with mental illness are more violent than others or that they lack the competence to be able to negotiate social roles, such as working.

“It is difficult to know exactly how those stereotypes come about; they can be caused by lots of factors.  For many years people with mental illness were sequestered in institutions and hidden from society, having minimal contact with the public.  During the 1950’s – 1960’s we slowly began a process where we deinstitutionalized people with mental illness and they began living in the community.  As a result of that, a much more visible group of people with mental illness who needed help contributed to the public developing negative stereotypes about mental illness, such as violence or bizarre behavior.”

Not In My Backyard

The Santa Barbara, California woman who recently went on a killing spree is the type of image we often have fixed in our minds about people with mental illness.  These images don’t just come from the nightly news; they also come from popular dramas on TV.  The cameo that opens Law and Order, for example, is often a scene of a violence committed by a person with mental illness.

“We know that people with mental illness are statistically no more likely to be violent than persons without mental illness,” says Jack K. Martin, Ph.D., executive director of the Karl F. Schuessler Institute for Social Research and professor of Sociology at the University of Indiana.  “Unfortunately, the overwhelming perception about people with mental illness is that they are very likely to become violent.”

Martin recently completed, along with his colleagues at the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, the second of four studies on the impact stigma has on people with mental health problems.

The first study, completed in 1996, evaluated whether American’s attitudes about mental illness had changed, since they were last studied in 1950.  “What we found was encouraging and discouraging at the same time,” says Martin.  “People used to see the cause of the problem as something about the individual’s character.  It used to be that people would say: ‘This was God’s will.’  ‘These are bad people.’ ‘This was their punishment.’ They don’t say that anymore.  People now have an ability to explain mental illness accurately, defining it as a chemical imbalance or a genetic predisposition to mental illness, often triggered by stress; they have basically adapted a medical model. A real common point of view used to be that mental health problems weren’t treatable; people no longer believe that.

“At the same time, people unquestionably have high levels of willingness to shun people with mental illness and in particular, they don’t want to work with them and they don’t want someone who is mentally ill to join their family by marriage.  So while they have more clarity about where mental illness comes from, they really want to avoid any contact.”

Stigma Sticks

Why are the stigmas associated with mental illness so sticky–especially when people are more educated about mental illness?  More understanding should lead to acceptance, but “in fact there is evidence that people know much more about mental illness and that the stigma seems to be worse,” says Corrigan.

“Our work suggests that the biggest factor changing stigma is contact between people with mental illness and the rest of the population,” says Corrigan.  He is trying to understand how to get consumers to go public with their mental health problems.  The public needs to understand that many people with mental illness are functioning, fully contributing members of society.  To better understand how to do this, Corrigan has studied the gay movement, since they have been so successful in coming out.  “Just as the gay community had to realize that their power was increased as they came out of the closet, a similar realization needs to occur with people with mental illness.  They are reluctant to do it, for understandable reasons, but nonetheless that is what needs to happen.”

Wootton is someone who has come out.  He has written a book about his experience living with Bipolar Disorder, The Bipolar Advantage, is the president of his local Bipolar Disorder support group, has established a workshop program for people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and talks to groups several times a week about his mental health issues—both the pain and the progress.  He says that other people with Bipolar Disorder appreciate what he is doing—so that they don’t have to do it.  They feel too vulnerable.  They fear the stigma.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) realizes what an impediment stigma is to people in mental health treatment and have launched a “StigmaBusters” campaign.  One initiative is to get people with mental illness to speak out and they have provided the support and structure through their In Our Own Voice program. (See Sidebar.)

Just Like Anyone Else

Most people with mental health problems would not wish them on anyone.  But more and more we are beginning to recognize that people with mental health problems don’t just have problems—they also have talents that make real contributions to society.  Just like anyone else.

Wootton views his Bipolar Disorder as an “advantage.”   Before his diagnosis he was a successful software programmer and earned millions by working feverishly at a highly creative pitch—for months on end–thanks to his uncontained Bipolar Disorder.  Of course, he couldn’t sustain this and eventually hit a bipolar wall.  Now he strikes a balance between controlling his bipolar disorder while still benefiting from his creative talents.  This is a result of a combination of medication, therapy groups and what he describes as “ a lot of hard work.”   He also works with his doctors to calibrate his medication so that he is still able to tap into his Bipolar capabilities.  This means that he is somewhat outside what they consider his ideal range of functioning, but still within acceptable limits for him.

Or think of Monk, the endearing TV detective who is able to discern things beyond the reach of others on his police unit.  He makes no bones about the fact that his compulsive cleanliness can be a hindrance, but the good outweighs the bad.  He too, works on his issues in therapy, but he rejects medication.  With medication he feels good, but he loses his special talents.

John Nash, portrayed in The Beautiful Mind, won the Nobel Prize for the work he did in the field of mathematics all the while struggling with the delusions and paranoia of schizophrenia. He learns to live with and control his delusional friends, which releases the power of his intellect to change the world.

Examples like these are introducing the public to a broader view of the attributes of mental illness; a view that people with mental illness may bring gifts—not just problems.  Wootton adds that the message for treatment providers is that recovery is not overcoming mental illness, but harnessing it to preserve positive attributes.

Watson cautions that people with mental illness should be valued for who they are, including those that make everyday contributions like the rest of us.  “People with mental illness are mostly like everyone else with similar ranges of intelligence and talents and they should not have to be extraordinary achievers to be appreciated.”

“Many professionals are the bastions of stigma,” says Corrigan.  “Part of that might be because they tend to see people only when they are acutely ill.  When they are in recovery and acting in a way to challenge a stigma they are not with them.

“People with mental illness can and do recover.  It is contrary to what we all learned in graduate school, which is ‘once a schizophrenic always a schizophrenic.’  The long term follow up research suggests that 2/3 of people with intense schizophrenia can live successful lives; perhaps half of them will need job coaches or housing coaches for much of their life, but still people when they receive reasonable accommodation live pretty well with schizophrenia.”

Social Justice Challenge

The social cost of stigma associated with mental illness is high, because it translates into huge numbers of people with treatable mental illness not getting help.  In Martin’s research, 45% of people said that if they had a mental illness they would not take medication for it, even though they believe that the medication would work.  They are not worried about side effects.  “They are worried that if they do take medication that someone is going to find out and then they will have to suffer the consequences, including the disruptions of marital relationships and work productivity,” says Martin.

Is a society without debilitating mental illness out of reach?  It turns out it is not.  There is a pilot program in Norway, being led by Thomas McGlashan, director of the Yale Psychiatric Institute that reportedly has been so successful that people with schizophrenia are not living on the streets.  The key seems to be eliminating stigma.  When stigma is reduced and people feel safe coming out they get treated at the early onset of the illness, which greatly improves their outcomes.  The destigmatization campaign includes the education of students, primary care physicians and the general public.

So it is possible.  The Norway experience shows us that when stigma is substantially eliminated and a supportive health care system is in place, the rights of people with mental illness are protected.  When their rights are protected, people with mental illness can experience the full benefit of the progress that has been made in treatment without constraining their potential to contribute to our society.

Will the stereotypes of “psycho” and “loco” ever totally go away?  Probably not.  But we can reduce the impact of stigma and bring people to life-restoring treatment.   Everyone wins when people with mental illness are not just tolerated but appreciated for who they are and can be full participants in society.

1 Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, 1999.

SIDEBAR

Fight Stigma: Become A StigmaBuster!

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) StigmaBusters is a group of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world that seek to fight the inaccurate, hurtful representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes in an effort to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. The StigmaBusters’ goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.

Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive the NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online and in mental health centers, hospitals, universities and elsewhere. NAMI urges everyone to get involved: “Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.”

By going to www.nami.org you can find out more about NAMI StigmaBusters and how you can report stigma, and sign up to receive NAMI’s StigmaBuster Alerts.

 

In Our Own Voice: Living with Mental Illness is a recovery, education presentation given by trained consumer presenters for other consumers, family members, friends, professionals, students of all academic levels, and lay audiences.

A brief, yet comprehensive interactive presentation about mental illness – including video, personal testimony, and discussion enriches the audience’s understanding of how people with these serious disorders cope with the reality of their illnesses while recovering and reclaiming productive lives.

In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness was developed to provide a dialogue on the issues related to recovery from severe mental illnesses. The program is designed to provide a safe place for consumers to share the ups and downs of their recovery and learn from others.  A trained consumer presenter leads the discussion. The program educates everyone about the ongoing recovery issues we face and the fulfilling lives that can be achieved.

Consumers that have participated in the program say, “We give hope, we educate, we open minds, and we change attitudes. We help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness.”

NAMI reports that research studies have shown that the In Our Own Voiceworks and that there is a significant decrease in stigma against mental illness among audience members after seeing the presentation.

Find out more about bringing the In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness program to your community at www.nami.org.

Author:   Dr. Lynn K. Jones

Certified Personal and Executive Coach

 

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at theWurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concernedorganizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individual on achieving their reflected best selves.  An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment.

 

My thanks to Dr. Lynn K. Jones for granting her permission to reprint this article and extend the reach of the message.

Perfectionism Harms

Perfectionism Harms

People wonder why so many people fail to thrive in modern times. One reason is we have widely accepted but inaccurate beliefs about many things that affect our well-being on a regular basis.

Our classes overturn a few dozen of these false premises. Today I’m writing about perfectionism. It is commonly accepted as a positive characteristic to be admired and developed, perfectionism is often praised.

It is true, there are some benefits that come from pessimistic tendencies. I’m just not sure they are worth the price the individual pays. It varies on an individual basis, and we have to look at the underlying reason the person attempts to achieve perfection to know whether it is harmful on an individual basis. If it is a critical task, for example, brain surgery, perfection is essential to task. The brain surgeon who has perfected her craft but can allow herself to not be perfect in other areas of life, whose perfection is dictated by the necessity for perfectionism, is far less likely to suffer the negative consequences of perfectionism. In fact, I would not describe such a person as a perfectionist.

Another brain surgeon, just as skilled, who also demands perfectionism from his children, spouse, home, attire, and public persona is at risk of the negative consequences of perfectionism. The pervasiveness of the tendencies indicates that the underlying reason for the characteristic is not healthy. This type of pervasive perfectionism causes persistent high stress on the body and mind of the individual.

One of the very common, but not well-known, risk factors for suicide is this sort of perfectionism.

“…high Persistence and Harm Avoidance are predisposing traits for burn-out in healthcare professionals who are often overly perfectionistic and compulsive, predisposing them to anxiety, depression, suicide and burn-out.” (Stoyanov and Cloninger)

The perfectionistic tendencies result in this person hiding their discomfort and angst. Often it is the type of suicide that surprises those closest to the individual. They hide their symptoms and then apply their desire for perfection to their attempt at suicide, which increases the death rate from those attempts.

This same type of perfectionism increases the risk of burnout.

Perfectionism is not a fixed personality trait. It’s not easy to change if you don’t have the key but with the key it is relatively simple to change. Many people simply believe that is how they are–an integral part of their personality–part of what makes them who they are. That is not true. It is a reflection of the fact that these tendencies develop at a young age, not of the immutability of the characteristic.

If you are a perfectionist who demands perfection in all areas of your life, your life is far more stressful than it should be and far more stressful than it has to be. That is a less than perfect life. We can help you relax and enjoy your life more without giving up the quality you demand of yourself in the areas where it is important. Any of our premier programs would help you and those you love enjoy your lives and one another more fully.


Burnout in High Stress Occupations: Solutions

Employee Engagement

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

Burnout in High Stress Occupations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Difference Does this Make?

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

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

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

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

The Good news is

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

Resilience leads to desirable traits including:

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

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

Building A Resilient Culture

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

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

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

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

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

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

(7O4) 25I…5I5O

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

 


Verbal Abuse Worse Than Physical Abuse?

Resilience alters the outcome of childhood trauma and abuse in a positive way. This is important because the level of abuse (physical, sexual, and verbal) is over 30%. Recent research has also demonstrated that verbal abuse often has the worst long-term negative impact. This seems counter to what we feel the greatest revulsion to, but when evaluated for the day-to-day life-long effect, this outcome begins to make more sense.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal (psychological) abuse tends to create repetitive negative thoughts. Depending on your age, imagine a record, CD, or MP3 playing over and over again, undermining your ability to believe in yourself or even like yourself.

Psychological abuse of a child is a pattern of intentional verbal or behavioral actions or lack of actions that convey to a child the message that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value to meet someone else’s needs.”

For the most part, Americans tolerate far higher levels of psychological abuse than are healthy. We welcome television shows into our home where abusive behaviors are modeled and often considered humorous. Just because such behaviors are common does not make them healthy. Our paradigm about healthy behavior needs to shift and education is the key. Many of the parents are merely repeating the behavior they witnessed as children or are emulating what they’ve seen on television with no awareness of the long-term consequences to children they love and want the best for. It is lack of knowledge, not lack of goodness, that leads to most psychological abuse. We remain silent when we witness parents demeaning their children in public. We do not have acceptable social interventions to help educate others about the potential long term consequences of their behavior.

I will probably always remember a young Mother in the grocery store telling her toddler how stupid he was for putting a can of food she had sat next to him in the cart into his mouth. There are times when I will say something but other times, such as that one, I felt any effort to educate her would be met with repudiations and possibly resentment for my interference. I was tired that day but what will be the long term consequences to that child of his Mother not knowing the damage she was doing by labeling her son stupid? Humans live up to the expectations others put upon us (Pygmalion effect (PDF)).
The damage is made worse by our tendency to teach our children to hide their feelings, to “keep a stiff upper lip” or “be strong.” There is nothing wrong with being strong but everyone needs a time and place where they feel they can safely release pent-up frustration, emotional hurt and anger or it becomes an infected wound that will eventually cause greater problems.

If the following behaviors are commonly tolerated in your home, consider modifying the behavior.

  • Frequent yelling or screamingVerbal Abuse
  • Using “the silent treatment” on family or friends to show displeasure or disappointment
  • Negative comparisons to others
  • Treating one another as if the person does not have significant value or worth
  • Destroying treasured possessions or memories
  • Mind games designed to make the victim question his or her sanity
  • Misplaced blame (i.e. blaming a child for a parent’s problems)
  • Sabotaging a child’s plans (such as withdrawing permission for a desired activity or making plans that interfere with the activity without a good reason and/or to deliberately interfere with the child’s ability to enjoy the activity.
  • Showing favoritism is a form of discrimination and can have life long consequences to self-worth to the disfavored child and neuroticism for the favored child.
  • Inappropriate conversations with children about other family members that create distrust, emotional pain, etc.
  • Compulsive lying and denial of promises madeVerbal Abuse
  • Deliberately painting the child in a negative light to others
  • Teaching the child to perceive the world in ways that will interfere with success (i.e. encouraging racism)
  • Encouraging socially or legally unacceptable behaviors (i.e. violence, bullying, alcohol and drug use, theft, lying)
  • Rage and ridicule of the child or of other members of the household
  • Isolating the child from appropriate social interactions
  • Too much or too little control over the child for age and development level (leaving the child alone for long periods of time or sitting with an older teen for hours every night supervising homework completion
  • Repeated and frequent sarcasm
  • Setting unrealistic expectations and then demeaning the child for not meeting the unattainable expectations

In time our society will recognize the undesired consequences of these abusive behaviors. All mentally healthy parents want the best for their children. Those with less than optimal mental health also usually want the best for their children but do not understand how to provide the nurturing environment. It is not that parents with the most emotional and mental damage do not want the best for their children so much as it is their own needs are far from met so meeting those of a child is beyond their ability unless and until their needs are addressed.

Many of our television shows demonstrate psychologically abusive behavior as if it is normal behavior. Well, it may be normal in our day and age but at some point in the future it will be widely recognized for the dysfunctional behavior it is.

You and your family will benefit from recognizing it sooner rather than later.

If you recognize some of these behaviors as your own but believe you cannot stop, please seek help. Professional help can work wonders when the individual is motivated to change. If you’re more inclined to seek improvement through learning, one of our classes will provide the information you need to know so that you can change ingrained behavioral and thought patterns. Behavior is largely the result of habit. When you understand how to successfully change the habits, you can change anything about yourself that you wish to change.Verbal Abuse

You don’t have to live with that negative voice in your head. It is not who you are. You are worthy of more, of a better life than you can enjoy with that repetitive negativity robbing you of your joy.

Children know at a very young age when the words hurt. When a child this young is covering his ears in response to the words being spoken it is a sign that the way the child is interpreting the words is damaging his self-esteem.

Healthy self-esteem is critical if the child is to fulfill his potential in life. It is much easier to sustain healthy self-esteem than it is to build it back up after it has suffered damage.

You want the best for your family. If behavioral patterns in your home do not support the best outcomes, take action. You are not stuck. Improvement is possible–but not if you continue doing as you’ve always done. Changing the outcome begins by changing behavior.

Contact us today to see how we can help.


Private Schools and Suicide

Private Schools and Suicide

The findings about whether private schools provide some protection against suicide are mixed.

A 2014 study of 8407 children found than 10.1% of privately educated students thought about committing suicide and half of those (5.2%) made plans to commit suicide. More than half those who made plans attempted to commit suicide (2.8%). If these numbers seem If these numbers seem abhorrent to you, you’ll be shocked to learn the frequency was about half what the researchers found for publicly educated children.

An earlier study at Texas State University found that private schools did not provide protection against suicide.

The answer is it depends on the child and the things the child finds the most stressful. Certainly students who attend private schools (both secular and religious) attempt suicide, like Matthew Cline. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14 year olds.

Suicide is also contagious. When one child chooses to end his or her life prematurely other teens can view suicide as a way to end their emotional pain. Davidson, North Carolina, an upscale college town suburb of Charlotte has seen more than its share of suicides in recent years. Other towns have also experienced clusters of suicides. The way suicide is reported impacts the contagion effect. Not only is what one’s friends do important, this Princeton study found that what friends think is important.

There are many quotes about choosing one’s friends wisely because the company you keep determines who you become. The quantity of quotes, all with the same message, points to a basic truth.

Primary Prevention

Most suicide prevention efforts focus on the crisis point, but research clearly demonstrates that protective factors can be developed and that the earlier prevention efforts are made, the more effective they are. All prevention efforts are important but my work focuses on Primary Prevention. What is Primary Prevention (other than something that deserves much more attention than it currently receives?)

Primary Prevention is addressing potential problems early enough that the problem they are designed to prevent never occurs. When you wash your hands you are practicing Primary Prevention against the spread of disease and bacteria. When you brush your teeth you are practicing Primary Prevention of gum disease, rancid breath, and even heart disease. The factors that distinguish Primary Prevention is that:

  1. It is designed to prevent a problem
  2. It occurs when prevention is easiest and more likely to be successful
  3. Unlike treating symptoms after the problem develops, Primary Prevention is a cure that works before it is necessary

There are two ways to address suicide prevention before the crisis. One is to educate the public about suicide warning signs and risk factors and provide information about when to act and what to do. The goal of this type of Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education is to help friends, families, teachers, and religious leaders identify a risk before the crisis point. Most of the published articles make a cursory attempt to provide this education but they fall far short of providing information on the 40 different warning signs. The typical article lists about five. They seldom provide information about what to do and when to act when someone notices warning signs.

We don’t think a list of five warning signs is adequate. Even a list of 40 warning signs without an explanation is inadequate because it leaves too much open for interpretation or misinterpretation with deadly consequences. For this reason we are holding Public Suicide Prevention Meetings to educate and empower parents, educators, public servants, health care providers, religious leaders and friends can be part of the prevention effort.

The other way to address suicide prevention is true Primary Prevention. Researchers have repeatedly found that resilience provides protection against suicide. Researchers have repeatedly associated resilience with life-long positive outcomes in areas as wide-ranging as career success, mental health, physical health and good relationships. Scientists from many disciplines agree that resilience is a learnable skill. Resilience alters the outcome of childhood trauma and abuse in a positive way. This is important because the level of abuse (physical, sexual, and verbal) is over 30%. Recent research has also demonstrated that verbal abuse often has the worst long-term negative impact. This seems counter to what we feel the greatest revulsion to but when evaluated for the day-to-day effect, this outcome begins to make more sense.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal (psychological) abuse tends to create repetitive negative thoughts. Depending on your age, imagine a record, CD, or MP3 playing over and over again, undermining your ability to believe in yourself or even like yourself.

Psychological abuse of a child is a pattern of intentional verbal or behavioral actions or lack of actions that convey to a child the message that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value to meet someone else’s needs.”

For the most part, Americans tolerate far higher levels of psychological abuse than are healthy. We welcome television shows into our home where abusive behaviors are modeled and often considered humorous. Just because such behaviors are common does not make them healthy. Our paradigm about healthy behavior needs to shift and education is the key. Many of the parents are merely repeating the behavior they witnessed as children or are emulating what they’ve seen on television with no awareness of the long-term consequences to children they love and want the best for. It is lack of knowledge, not lack of goodness, that leads to most psychological abuse. We remain silent when we witness parents demeaning their children in public. We do not have acceptable social interventions to help educate others about the potential long term consequences of their behavior. kid does not want to listen

I will probably always remember a young Mother in the grocery store telling her toddler how stupid he was for reaching for putting a can of food she had put next to him in the cart into his mouth. There are times when I will say something but other times, such as that one, I felt any effort to educate her would be met with repudiations and possibly resentment for my interference. I was tired that day but what will be the long term consequences to that child of his Mother not knowing the damage she was doing by labeling her son stupid? Humans live up to the expectations others put upon us (Pygmalion effect (PDF)).
The damage is made worse by our tendency to teach our children to hide their feelings, to “keep a stiff upper lip” or “be strong.” There is nothing wrong with being strong but everyone needs a time and place where they feel they can safely release pent-up frustration, emotional hurt and anger or it becomes an infected wound that will eventually cause greater problems. For more information on psychological abuse, see this post.

Resilience is a Learnable Skill

Resilience can be increased with learnable skills. The long term effect of resilience is lower risk of suicide, greater likelihood of educational and career success, better relationships, improved mental, emotional and physical health. Resilience also improves the chances of a favorable outcome following trauma. While we are all familiar with PTSD in combat veterans, it also frequently affects victims of accidents and violent crimes. Well developed resilience increases the chances an individual will bounce back from such events and from other less traumatizing events such as the loss of a job, end of a romantic relationship and the death of a loved one. The faster, easier recovery lessens the risk of other undesired outcomes such as drug and alcohol abuse.

Developing resilience is the best form of Primary Prevention against suicide. We offer courses for children and adults that teach these skills.

Public Suicide Prevention and Awareness Meetings

Please attend one of the scheduled meetings. They are free and they could save a life.  If you are an educator, religious leader, business leader, public servant or health care worker please attend both for your own knowledge and to evaluate whether you would like a presentation for your organization. I will accommodate as many requests as I can to bring this valuable information to our community. Every attendee will receive a copy of  Prevent Suicide: The Smart Way.

Emergency Numbers

If you are thinking that maybe you’d rather be dead or that those you care about would be better off if you were, call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor. Or, call your doctor, dial 911, or go to an emergency room. For a free detailed booklet on depression and its treatment, go to:  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml

Someone wants to help you. Please call

International Emergency Numbers

Australia 000

New Zealand 111

Fiji   000 or 911

United Kingdom  112 or 999

Ireland      112 or 999

Turkey   112

Switzerland  112

India  102

Hong Kong 999

Israel  101 or 112

Japan   119

Nepal  102

UAE   112

Brazil  192

Costa Rica  911

S. Africa   112, 10 177

China  120

Philippines  117 or 112


Education is Prevention

Time after time I see grieving survivors say, “If only I’d know…” and “We had no idea…”

It’s true. Family and friends often have no idea that their loved one was contemplating suicide before a tragedy occurs.

I think there is a misconception that this frequent occurrence means we can’t know…which is rarely true.

An educated eye views things differently than an uneducated one. This is true in all areas.

People sometimes sell art worth millions for a few dollars at a garage sale. The sellers isn’t stupid, he merely has uneducated art eyes.

Doctors sometimes misdiagnose patients because they do not recognize the combination of symptoms the patient is presenting while another doctor, who is familiar with the symptoms, recognizes the problem almost immediately. A local woman came down with flu like symptoms while at Myrtle Beach. The doctors missed that she had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever because it’s not a problem at the beach. She died. Doctors in areas where Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is more common recognize the symptoms.

There is so much to know in today’s world. No one can know everything. But we can choose to know things that may be highly important to our life long happiness.

I absolutely loved the movie Avatar but in less time than it took me to see it the second time (which was not nearly as good in 3D as it had been in Imax) I could attend this meeting and learn the 40 different warning signs for suicide.

Education is Prevention

In these free Community Suicide Awareness and Prevention meetings attendees will learn:

  • 40 Warning signs that someone may be suicidal
  • 50 Risk Factors that increase the risk of becoming suicidal
  • Protective Factors that are skill based and learnable
  • When to take action
  • What actions to take when it’s time to act

Some of the Risk Factors/Warning Signs will surprise you as they are commonly considered beneficial characteristics.

Why attend these meetings?

  • With educated eyes you can perceive warning signs that you would otherwise miss
  • Over 1,000,000 people attempt suicide in the USA each year
  • About 42,000 people die from suicide each year
  • Local children as young as age 9 have been suicidal
  • 20 – 25% of adults in the US have an episode of depression each year
  • People try to hide their depression because of the stigma associated with mental health issues
  • We can make a difference, education is the first step
  • Suicide is contagious
  • No one ever wants to suffer this loss, but experiencing it when you learn you could have done something that might have changed the outcome is even worse.
  • 1,200 North Carolinians will die from suicide this year, or will they? Education is prevention.

Why am I offering these meetings for free?

  • I’m tired of seeing the lives devastated by preventable suicides
  • Everyone else seems focused on waiting until the crisis occurs to provide prevention. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  • I’ve saved lives because of the knowledge I share at these meetings, it matters

Meetings are currently scheduled in Huntersville, NC and everyone is welcome to attend.

I am actively seeking:

  • Venues where I can provide these meetings at low/no-cost
  • Groups who would like me to present this life saving information
  • Volunteers to assist with check-in, etc. at the meetings
  • Donations to help defray the cost of the meetings (They can be made through the non-profit I co-founded, Achieve Affinity)
  • Help sharing the availability of these meetings (with your friends/family and media contacts)
  • Your attendance at the meeting

I am willing to travel to provide this information to groups. Please contact me if you would like me to do so.

PS – Do not let yourself believe that suicide could never affect someone you love, or someone they love. If you believe this, ask your family if they know someone who has attempted suicide.

PSS – I, in no way, mean to blame family members or friends who have lost someone to suicide. I am not aware of other any programs that teach the life saving information given in these meetings. If they did not have educated eyes they were not able to help.

Jeanine Joy is the author of Prevent Suicide: The Smart Way and other books focused on Primary Prevention (prevention designed to prevent the problem from ever manifesting). She is the founder of Happiness 1st Institute, Co-Founder of the non-profit, Achieve Affinity and Founder of House of Peace and Love for All.


Chapel Hill Shootings

Chapel Hill Shootings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste,

Jeanine

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


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.