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Are you confused by the Happiness Movement?

Are you confused by the happiness movement?

Are you one of the people who believe the Happiness Movement is telling you that you should pretend everything is okay and ignore what is actually happening?  

Let me help you understand the research and what the happiness movement encourages and why.

Some people pretend to be outwardly positive but it is not how they really feel. It isn’t good for them. This group is small in comparison to other groups who are positively focused because they use skills to authentically feel positive emotions—they aren’t faking positive emotions.

Positive Psychology

Since Martin E. P. Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology encouraged psychologists to begin studying what makes humans do well instead of just studying pathology (things that have gone wrong). Great strides have been made in understanding how to thrive, or flourish, as Dr. Seligman refers to it. Human minds and bodies function better when we are positively focused.

Emotions and Emotion Regulation

Because of research, the very definition of the purpose of emotions has been re-defined.[1] We now know that the purpose of emotions is to let us know how stressed we are so that we can do something about it. Our minds and bodies are not designed to function optimally when we are chronically stressed. Negative emotion tells us that we are stressed. The worse the negative emotion, the more stress is being experienced. Positive emotions let us know that we are not stressed.

Emotions are a sensory feedback system designed to guide our behavior.[2] Because we have misinterpreted their meaning, partially because of research published in 1939, emotions weren’t (and for most people, still aren’t) serving the purpose for which they were designed.[3][

Basically, emotions serve a function similar to our other senses.When you eat something good for you, it tastes good. Many poisonous substances taste bad. When your stress level is good for you, it feels good. When you are too stressed, you feel bad.

When you touch something and it hurts you, you now that touching it is not good for you. In the same way, when your perspective about a topic hurts emotionally, the perspective you chose about that subject is not good for you. Note that it is your perspective, not necessarily anything wrong with the situation that determines if you hurt.

Finally, researchers in fields as diverse as medical science, sociology, biochemistry, psychoneuroimmunology, quantum physics, psychology, positive psychology, psychiatry, emotion regulation, motivation theory, organizational behavior, and more have added to the body of knowledge that tells us that humans have greater success in every area of life when they experience more positive emotions.

Authenticity is Important to Health

Authenticity is an important contributor to good health. Jobs that require emotional labor, such as putting on a positive front even when it is not authentic, lead to worse health outcomes for employees.[4], [5],  [6], [7], [8]   

The positivity movement does not encourage plastering a smile on your face when you are miserable. So, the Happiness Movement encourages you to use skills and strategies that allow you to authentically feel good more often.

Also, individuals who have more positive emotions live an average of 10.7 years longer based on two longitudinal studies that followed men and women for seven decades.[9], [10] Positively focused individuals do not spend as many years chronically ill before their death, even though they die at older ages.

As a result, we know, for sure, that positive emotion is good for us. 

Wellness Benefits of Positive Emotions

The Happiness Movement began when researchers began learning about the benefits of experiencing fewer negative emotions and more happiness. Positive emotions lead to better outcomes in every area of life. Positive emotions indicate you are not stressed which is good news for your health. When viewed from a long-term perspective your mental health should be your first priority.

Mental health affects every aspect of your life.The Happiness Movement is based on research that demonstrated the benefits of experiencing more positive emotions, which improves both mental and physical health.

Good physical health:

[11], [12]  

  • We automatically choose healthier foods when we feel good emotionally.
  • We are less likely to exercise when we are stressed, even if we know exercise will help us feel better.
  • We sleep better when we aren’t stressed and sleep is a critical component of good physical health.
  • We eat higher fat and higher calorie foods when we are stressed.
  • About 60% of people who still smoke cigarettes suffer from anxiety and use smoking to help them cope with anxiety.

Good behavioral health

  • People who are mentally healthy make more pro-health decisions about what they eat, exercise, sleep, and risky behaviors.[13]
  • People who are mentally healthy are less likely to become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, self-harm, and crime, and violence[14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19]

Better relationships including:

[20], [21], [22], [23], [24]  

  • Better romantic relationships
  • Better relationships with their parents
  • Better relationships with their siblings
  • Better relationships with their children
  • Better relationships with their friends
  • Better relationships with co-workers
  • Better relationships with bosses and subordinates
  • Better relationships with their neighbors

Increased success in:

[25], [26]  

  • Academics
  • Sports
  • Career

After reviewing all the research, the difference in lifetime earnings between the happiest and the least happy people is about $250,000. The interesting part of this is that we now know that happiness comes first. It is the reason I named Happiness 1st Institute as I did. When you’re happy first, every area of life is better!

You see that the Happiness Movement isn’t about wanting anyone to pretend they are happy. The Happiness Movement is about sharing the research about what makes human thrive with everyone. For that reason, we help people learn emotion regulation and stress management skills that increase the frequency of positive emotions. Although you’ll be more cheerful and easier to get along with when you experience more positive emotions, that’s not the reason for the Happiness Movement.

The most noteworthy aspect of the research that supports the Happiness Movement is that it doesn’t matter which branch of science you look at for evidence, research from all of them support the conclusion that increasing positive emotions improve health and well-being.

Primary Prevention

Preventative medicine is what the Happiness Movement is all about. Primary Prevention is something that is designed to prevent illnesses and diseases from developing instead of waiting for them to show up before attempting to deal with them.

The most affordable and effective method of improving the health and well-being of large numbers of people is via Primary Prevention. Clean drinking water and waste treatment plants are both forms of Primary Prevention because they prevent illnesses and diseases from manifesting. It’s the same reason you wash your hands before you prepare food and the reason you want people to cover their moths when they cough or sneeze. Primary Prevention is smart. The Primary Prevention encouraged by the Happiness Movement is the best of all because it prevents illnesses, diseases, and suffering and feels good, too!

For that reason, the Happiness Movement is about improving Public Health and well-being. Because all the new research has uncovered quite a few false premises that hamper success, education about the Happiness Movement is an important step.

Habits of Thought

Depending on where you are with respect to your mental health, putting your mental health first can mean many different things. Depending on your situation, taking care of your mental health can mean anything from going into a full-time resident program to deal with severe issues to simply deciding that you will prioritize your life in ways that support good mental health.

The first step is figuring out how you’re doing. Then make a plan to develop healthy habits of thought. We all think about 60,000 thoughts each day. Most of the thoughts we think aren’t thoughtful. That’s why it is so important to change our habits of thought. 

Fighting against individual thoughts doesn’t accomplish or change much. Steps you may want to take could include:

  • Developing Healthy Habits of Thought.
      • Defined as habits of thought that research has repeatedly shown lead to optimal outcomes in the above areas of life.
  • Avoiding or changing Unhealthy Habits of Thought.
      • Defined as habits of thought that research has repeatedly shown lead to sub-optimal outcomes in the above areas of life.
  • Developing or maintaining healthy self-esteem.
  • Develop or maintain an internal locus of control.
      • An internal locus of control is the belief that your thoughts, words, and actions affect the outcomes you experience,
  • Learn the new definition of the purpose and use of emotions as a sensory feedback system designed to guide you toward self-actualization.[17]
      • Learn how to apply the new definition of emotions to reduce stress and improve healthy habits of thought,[18]
  • Develop or maintain healthy relationships with others including:
      • Avoiding emotionally toxic environments and people.
      • Being willing to let go of unhealthy associations.
      • Making being happy as a higher priority than proving a point.
  • Establishing goals in every area of your life.
  • Self-compassion will help you feel better.

In conclusion, there are many paths that help you experience more authentic positive emotions.

Have more Fun

When you are mentally healthy, it is as if life’s rough edges are smoothed out. Life feels easier. It doesn’t mean you don’t face challenges. It means you are more capable of facing challenges and coming out whole and healthy on the other side of the challenge.

Your habits of thought can add to, multiply, subtract from, or divide the amount of stress you experience from a situation. Negative rumination adds to (and can potentially multiply) stress. When you learn how to regulate your emotions, you have more fun. 

As a result, the better you feel, the better other areas of your life become. People like to spend time with people who are happy. Many people avoid unhappy people. 

I’m sure you have noticed that not everyone responds to stressful situations the same way. People who do not become as stressed tend to be resilient. They are resilient because they have healthy habits of thought that make them feel more capable of dealing with life. Habits of thought can be changed. When an individual changes unhealthy habits of thought to healthier ones it creates transformational changes.

Unhealthy Habits of Thought

Life + Unhealthy habits of thought = stress

Unhealthy habits of thought include:

  • Catastrophizing (or Awfulizing)
  • Seeing problems as:
    • Permanent
    • Pervasive
    • Personal
  • Negative rumination or negative co-rumination

Healthy Habits of Thought

Life + Healthy habits of thought = less stress

Healthy habits of thought include:

  • Realistic optimism
  • Healthy self-esteem
  • Self-compassion
  • Using metacognition to think about what you are thinking and why and making adjustments to lower stress
  • An internal locus of control

The research and strategies that support the Happiness Movement can make your life more of what you’ve always wanted it to be–fun and happy. If you’re faking happiness, try real happiness and you’ll never go back to faking it.

Your life and your emotions are up to you. That’s not wishful thinking. It’s science.

In conclusion, if you are ready to feel better, my latest book, Mental Health Made Easy: Maintain and Restore Your Mental Health: Develop Health Habits of Thought, The Smart Way to Permanently Reduce Stress provides information about how to develop healthy habits of thought. You’ll like Mental Health Made Easy because it does double duty as both a book and a workbook.

Click here for more information on research that supports my work.

I love the Happiness Movement! I want to Help. What can I do?

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to regulate your emotions in healthy ways. 

The second most important thing you can do it to share information like this post with your friends and family. But don’t insist. If they aren’t ready, they will become more resistant the more you pressure them. 

Instead, learn the skills and then they will ask you why you’re so much happier or why your life is going better. That is the best time to share the information because that’s when they are receptive.

Because sharing this information is so important, in 2019 I am going to walk from Santa Monica, California to Charleston, South Carolina on an awareness walk. We’re calling this cross-country trek the Joy Walk because this knowledge increases the amount of joy in people’s lives. You can follow the planning and the walk at the link. We’ll set up special social media accounts and updates daily. 


Finally, during the Joy Walk, I want to talk to as many people as possible. We want to speak at colleges, universities, high schools, and to organizations and city counsels, medical and mental health professionals. I hope to see you along the way.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012, October 22). Children with Mental Health Disorders More Often Identified as Bullies. Retrieved from 

Baumeister, R. F., & Beck, A. (1999). Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty. New York: Henry Holt and Co.

Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., DeWall, C. N., & Zhang, L. (2007, May 16). How Emotion Shapes Behavior: Feedback, Anticipation, and Reflection, Rather Than Direct Causation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(2), 167-203.

Boehm, J. K. (2012, July). The heart’s content: The association between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Psychological Bulletin, Epub April 2012, 138(4):655-91.

Cheung, F., Tang, C. S.-k., & Tang, S. (2011). Psychological capital as a moderator between emotional labor, burnout, and job satisfaction among school teachers in China. International Journal of Stress Management, 18(4), 348-371.

Clark, P. (2010, April). Preventing Future Crime With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. National Institute of Justice Journal No. 265, 22-24.

Danner, D. D. (2001). “Positive Emotions in Early Life and Longevity: Findings from the Nun Study.” . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology., 804-13.

Dollard, J., Doob, I. W., Miller, N. E., Mowrer, O. H., & Sears, R. R. (1939). Frustration and aggression. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gardner, W. L., Fischer, D., & Hunt, J. (2009). Emotional labor and leadership: A Threat to authenticity. The Leadership Quarterly, 20, 466-482.

Garland, E. L., Fredrickson, B., Kring, A. M., Johnson, D. P., Meyer, P. S., & Penn, D. L. (2010). Upward spirals of positive emotions counter downward spirals of negativity: Insights. Clinical Psychology Review, 849-864.

Glomb, T. M., & Tews, M. J. (2002). Emotional labor: A conceptual and scale development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64, 1-23.

(2013). Conceptualizing Emotional Labor: An Emotion Regulation Perspective. In J. J. Gross, A. A. Grandey, J. M. Diefendoff, & D. E. Rupp (Eds.), Emotional Labor in the 21st Century: Diverse Perspectives on the Psychology of Emotion Regulation at Work (pp. 288-294). Routledge.

Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012, October 1). The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5), 427-440.

Joy, J. (2017). Mental Health Made Easy: Maintain and Restore Your Mental Health: Develop Health Habits of Thought, The Smart Way™ to Permanently Reduce Stress. Concord: Thrive More Now Publishing.

Lépine, J.-P., & Briley, M. (2011). The increasing burden of depression. Neuropsychiatric Disorder Treatment, 7(Suppl 1), 3-7.

Lyubomirsky, S., & Porta, M. D. ((in press)). Boosting Happiness and Buttressing Resilience: Results from Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions. In J. W. Reich, A. J. Zautra, & J. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience: Concepts, methods, and application. New York, NY, USA: Guilford Press.

McCarthy, B., & Casey, T. (2011). Get Happy! Positive Emotion, Depression and Juvenile Crime. American Sociological Associaion Annual Meeting. Las Vegas: UC Davis.

Okunda, M., Balán , I., Petry, N. M., Oquendo, M., & Blanco, C. (2009, December). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pathological Gambling: Cultural Considerations. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(12), 1325-1330.

Peil, K. (2012). (In press). Emotion: The Self-regulatory Sense. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, x(x), xxx-xxx.

Rosenberg, T. (2015, January 15). For Better Crime Prevention, a Dose of Science. The New York Times, p. The Opinion Pages.

Salami, S. O. (2007). Management of Stress among Trainee-Teachers Through Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2), 299-307.

Shani, A., Uriely, N., Reichel, A., & Ginsburg, L. (2014). Emotional labor in the hospital industry: The influence of contextual factors. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 37, 150-158.

Stutzer, A., & Frey, B. S. (2006, April). Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married? The Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), 326-347.

Vaillant, G. E. (2012). Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study.


[1] (Baumeister, Vohs, DeWall, & Zhang, 2007)

[2] (Peil, 2012)

[3] (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Sears, 1939)

[4] (Cheung, Tang, & Tang, 2011)

[5] (Gardner, Fischer, & Hunt, 2009)

[6] (Glomb & Tews, 2002)

[7] (Gross, 2013)

[8] (Shani, Uriely, Reichel, & Ginsburg, 2014)

[9] (Danner, 2001)

[10] (Vaillant, 2012)

[11] (Danner, 2001)

[12] (Lépine & Briley, 2011)

[13] (Boehm, 2012)

[14] (Lyubomirsky & Porta, (in press))

[15] (McCarthy & Casey, 2011)

[16] (Rosenberg, 2015)

[17] (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, Sawyer, & Fang, 2012) 

[18] (Clark, 2010) 

[19] (Baumeister & Beck, Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, 1999)

[20] (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012)

[21] (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, Sawyer, & Fang, 2012)

[22] (Okunda, Balán , Petry, Oquendo, & Blanco, 2009)

[23] (Stutzer & Frey, 2006)

[24] (Lyubomirsky & Porta, (in press))

[25] (Garland, Fredrickson, Kring, Johnson, Meyer, & Penn, 2010)

[26] (Salami, 2007)

My latest book, Mental Health Made Easy: Maintain and Restore Your Mental Health: Develop Health Habits of Thought, The Smart Way to Permanently Reduce Stress provides information on how to develop healthy habits of thought.

(c) Jeanine Joy, 2018

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

Burnout Prevention and Recovery

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

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

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

Designed to be easy

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

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

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

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

Build Resilience by applying Science

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

Healthcare Organizations Have Work To Do, Too

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

Why the Authors are Qualified to Write This Book

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

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

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

·         Collegial pressures

·         EMR/EHR

·         Practice economics

·         Insurance Companies

·         Human resource issues


People making their living off Physicians

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

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

Coping Skills Make a Difference

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

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

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

Stress Coping Strategies

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

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

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

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Academic Burnout Solutions

study life goals advice

Dear Dr. Joy: How can I study for 10+ hours a day without getting depressed and how can I make myself get used to it?

How can I study for 10+ hours a day without getting depressed and how can I make myself get used to it?

Q: I must study continually for 10 months non-stop, then I have exams in 7 subjects (only one exam for each in those 10 months) and the results will determine my future. I’m supposed to study +10 hours a day and I’m not used to such hours.

Alright, yes, I’ll admit it. I’d love to have an advice column. I’m receiving requests on Quora to answer more questions than I have time to answer. I’ve decided to start publishing my answers here. 

Dr. Joy’s advice:

If you find a way to relate to what you are studying and see it as an opportunity for rapid personal growth instead of a test that determines who you will become, it will be interesting.

Over the past six years, I’ve spent many months where I studied far more than 10 hours a day doing research for my books but I connected the reading/studying I was doing to my ultimate goal of helping people thrive more which gave it meaning that energized me to do more. Poke at the way you’re thinking about this and try to find different ways to look at the situation.

Find thoughts that feel better and then reinforce those thoughts so they become your main way of perceiving this situation. 

10 Hours is not as long as it sounds

Also, 10 hours sounds like a lot but it isn’t. Most workers have a commute to the job, work 8 hours and then have a commute home. After they do all of that many of them still find time to raise a family, fall in love, volunteer in their community, read for pleasure, and more. #1 is giving up the television and you’ll be amazed at how much time you have. Also, do take breaks to stand up, stretch, breathe deeply. The refreshment of that will more than make-up for the time it takes.

In good weather take the time to study outside.

Also, lessen the “determine your future” bit of this. It may determine your immediate opportunities but YOU determine your future. You aren’t creating a finished product through your studying efforts. You will never be a finished product. Humans continually evolve and grow. Some humans who became wildly successful didn’t even begin the activity that made them household names until they were past the age when most people retire. So let go of the “will determine my future” belief and make this a time of developing you into someone who knows more than you know today.

I wish you all the best.

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

World You Want

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

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

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

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

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

Preferred Future

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

 What the Preferred Future looks like:

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

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

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

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

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

      Low stress = High Happiness

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

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

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

  Employee Engagement has been high for years

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

  Relationships of all type are better, divorces are not common

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

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

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

What is emotional guidance?

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

What is metacognition?

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

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

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

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

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

There are some fundamentals informed by science, including:

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Would You Settle?

Why Settle?

Why Settle?

You Don’t Have to Settle: Content ≠ Happiness

Content ≠ part of happy. Moving toward goals/desires with the belief that you can achieve what you wish to achieve = happy.

 Enjoy the Journey

Joseph Campbell

To understand contentment, imagine the first 5 minutes in a hot tub = content/relief. But if you had to stay there forever (content) you’d soon be bored and want to do something.

Humans are energized when we are moving toward what we desire with positive expectations.

Content is on the road to happy if someone is a low emotional state, but it is not where happy lives.

At Happiness 1st we teach you advanced and transformative skills that ensure you won’t have to settle for less than what you want.

Why Settle when you don’t have to?

You can achieve the dreams you dream.

You can become the person you want to be.

You can live the life you want to live.

You can do all this with integrity and while being a force for good in our shared world.

The only thing between you and what you want is a lack of knowledge or a confidence in yourself; both of which can be solved by increasing your skills.

The most important thing you can do is believe in you.

The next most important thing you can do is believe in the goodness of others. 

When you expect people to be good they will delight you with their goodness. Your expectation of their goodness has to be stronger than their expectation of something less and you will experience their goodness.

Your expectation of your own goodness works the same way.

What do you expect from yourself?

Could you expect more?

Why settle when you don’t have to?

All the best to you.

Help Your Child Create an Empowered Positive Mindset

Help Your Child Create an Empowered Positive Mindset

This Father is helping his son get the right mindset for his day. The right mindset is what makes the difference between success and failure.

This Dad is doing a better job than 99% of the parents I’ve ever seen (including me). I would change the wording a bit (see below).

Partial translation:

I’ll be educated by my teachers and empowered by my teachers with the tools to be successful within my community and throughout the country.

I apply myself daily.

I study.

I ask questions when I don’t understand.

When I’m confronted with a problem or a conflict I think before I react.

I ignore all negative influences in the classroom and throughout my school day.

I am extremely proud to be the next generation of Christian leaders.

I accept responsibility and I love the challenge.



What I would change:

I would not say “empowered by my teachers.” This says the power is the teachers to give. It’s not. The teacher can offer the knowledge. It is up to us whether or not we take the knowledge and how we apply it today and in the future.

Here is an example of what I would say instead of the “empowered by my teachers” line:

“God will bring me teachers who know what I need to know and who know how to help me learn what will help me the most. By continually learning, I will have the tools to be successful in my community and throughout my country.

I will appreciate my teachers for all they do for me.

I love my empowered positive mindset”

I absolutely adore that he ends with Peace and the power with which he says it.

This can be modified to suit any religion or to be non-religious.

Learning Psychological Agility in Groups


Most psychological work is approached from a one-on-one basis. This makes it expensive and there is a shortage of practitioners available to treat the epidemic level of mental health issues that prevalent in our societies.

That is why I speak from the stage and why I do very little one-on-one coaching. The highest and best use of me is writing books and speaking from the stage where I can help far more people than I can with one-on-one work. That is why, when I decided to obtain my doctorate, I chose to study at the University of Sedona where a degree in Pastoral Counseling Psychology was offered. I do not consider myself religious, but my faith that God (or Source) is omnipresent in each life is solid. Since I am not religious, the undergrad work at the University of Metaphysics was perfect for me. Following completion of my 2nd Bachelor’s, I was ordained by the International Metaphysical Ministry.

When I compare the work I did and the knowledge pursuing my doctorate in Pastoral Counseling Psychology to the usefulness of the knowledge gained studying for my first Bachelor’s in Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento it makes me wonder where I would be if I taken a different path, but I have no regrets. The life I lived as a result of the first degree adds breadth and depth to the work I do now.

Understand Your Brain More = Thrive More

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

Your perception becomes your reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nose Blind Commercial

The commercial below is highlighting the filtering process making someone “nose blind,” one of many millions of examples of how the filtering process affects our perception of reality.[embedyt][/embedyt]

Anger is Optional

Anger is Optional

Can I share a little story with you?

The story is about the first time I really recognize how different I was after I reconditioned my mindset. At the time, my home was about five years old of this incident I’d been in my brand new home about five years (I’ve been here 11 years now). A friend was my kitchen getting a treat for my dog. He leaned on the cupboard door while he bent over to look into the cabinet.I was in the next room when I  heard a sudden large crash. The cherry cabinet door had broken in half under his weight. He sheepishly looked at me, expecting an explosion. I could tell he expected me to be angry, very angry. Many would say I had a right to be angry. But I knew something that most people still don’t know. I know that anger is not healthy for me, not in the moment, and not long-term. I have deliberately reconditioned my mind, over a period of years, to the point where I’m not sure what it would take to get me really angry. Certainly not something that is fixable.

Instead of angry, my mind went immediately to thoughts like it’s just a door. I’m glad he wasn’t hurt I’m sure it’s fixable.
Ten minutes later, he was still waiting for an explosion that never came.

I remember realizing that the old me would have been angry. The old version of me would’ve interpreted the accident to mean he was disrespectful of my home. That thought would’ve just made me more angry with my guest . I would’ve worried about how much it would cost to repair the door. The old me would’ve worried about whether or not I could even find someone to fix the door. The old me would have stressed about having one more thing on my to-do list.
The old me would have been angry for a good while area the old me would’ve told others about a half a dozen times while fanning the flames of my anger again, making myself feel horribly.

The new me thinks it is no big deal.

I had been deliberately working on my emotional stance for a few years at that time, so my automatic response was substantially different than the one I had been conditioned by society to feel in such circumstances.

The new me sees much more clearly.

If I had been angry, would that have fixed the door?

If I had been angry, would that have helped or hindered my friendship–a friendship I value?

If I had been angry, would my friend have been more likely to fix or have the door repaired? Believing this would be evidence that I did not trust my friend to do the right thing. Is that the sort of friendships I have? No.

If I had become angry it would not have served a purpose and it could have interfered with my personal goals, such as to maintain a good relationship with this friend.

Understand that this is not suppression of anger (which is not healthy). It is seeing the situation with greater clarity in a way that allows me to be aware of the best response for all (and especially the best response for me) to the circumstance in the moment the experience is happening.

This is just one of thousands of examples of how learning how to re-program your mindset to healthier habits of thought can improve your life.

If you would like more information, please contact us or register for one of our programs. Anyone can do as I’ve done.

Oh, the door? You can’t even tell it was ever broken.Anger is Optional

How to Open A Tightly Closed Mind

Four and a half years ago when I first launched Happiness 1st Institute, I was a lone voice talking about the benefits of happiness to employers. (Well, not totally alone, but for many business people, I was the first person to ever present some of the benefits of positivity in the workplace to them.)

I had not thought about a man I encountered in LinkedIn groups back then for several years. Today, I saw him posting, still adamantly insisting that “An employer is not there to help anyone. they exist to make a profit.” I was struck by how little he had evolved despite how pervasive the message that happy employees are good for business has become. Happy employees are healthier, think with greater clarity, solve problems more easily, experience fewer negative life events (i.e. divorces and custody battles that spill over into the workplace), have fewer accidents (at work and away from work), have better work relationships (and better home relationships), receive better customer satisfaction ratings, and a whole host of other benefits.

In some cases, an individual who has firmly established beliefs about a topic becomes very close-minded to new information that conflicts with what he has believed for a long time. Unless and until that individual decides the way he is doing things is not working as well as he’d like and opens his mind to the possibility of learning something, no amount of conversation will be of benefit. In fact, such discourse tends to make the person dig his heels in more.

Many people put having been right in the past far above being right now.

We see evidence of this in every area of life that evolves, especially areas that evolve quickly during a lifetime. Some changes are so gradual that the short human lifespan does not really have to adjust to keep up. Other areas evolve faster and people either adjust or become dinosaurs. Fortunately, most people adjust fairly well during the course of their career.

If you find yourself defending your position on a topic more and more often, you may find that if you can ask yourself if the filters in your brain that are literally designed to prove your own beliefs to you by filtering out information that contradicts your beliefs might be causing the problem. I don’t ask that anyone change a belief based on someone else’s say-so. But you can test this yourself without actually changing the belief.

When your belief is absolutely adamant with no wiggle room, your mind will not show you evidence that you may really need to see that contradicts your belief. Instead of being so adamant, begin asking yourself, “Is there some information I am not aware of that would be of benefit to me in relation to this topic?” You can do this in the privacy of your own mind. No one else even needs to know you are doing it. You have nothing to lose. If there is nothing you need to know, nothing will change and you just spend some time asking yourself for clarity for several days or weeks. If there is information that would help you that your filters are marking as irrelevant when it is actually relevant, you’ll be better off knowing about it.

Think of the filters in your mind like a door. When your beliefs are adamant with no wiggle room, that door is padlocked closed. Nothing that contradicts those beliefs will make it through to your conscious mind. If you see something that contradicts such an adamant belief, your mind will create a backstory that explains the information in a way that keeps it consistent with your existing beliefs. These backstories can become very convoluted.

Those convoluted back stories can include things like it being the girls fault that a guy beats her when he drinks. Studying criminals and psychosis reveals the capacity of our minds to create fictions that enable us to maintain our beliefs. Most people do not develop such elaborate back stories, but we all have beliefs our back stories encourage us to continue believing and most people have at least a few beliefs that aren’t serving their highest good.

For example, I was reading an APA study that indicated 38% of the people in their survey experience stress when they think about money. Money is a pervasive part of our lives. We trade money for things we need like food, housing, clothing, and transportation. The beliefs they have developed about money are contributing to the stress they feel when the subject comes up. With a subject like money that is almost impossible to avoid, working to soothe the discomfort is a very productive and worthwhile endeavor.

You don’t have to open the door wide and let just any new belief in. You can simply unlock it and open it enough to let you see what is beyond the door. You can even leave a safety chain on because you can always go back to supporting your initial belief fully.

If you find yourself arguing with more and more people, defending a belief you’ve had for a long while, consider trying this. I’d love to hear your stories and promise not to share your name with anyone. I often see increasing family discord because of established beliefs that are not allowing the individual to keep up with the times. If you recognize this person as a member of your family, stop arguing with him or her. The more you argue, the more they will defend the position they believe.

You have two choices. One is to decide that your relationship with that person is more important than their opinion about the subject of your discord and just let it go. The second is to be very wily and help them open their door just enough for them to see what is beyond that locked door. This method takes time and you can’t do it directly. You have to find a back door. I’ve always been able to find one for my family and for my students, but the back door will vary by subject and the situation. It is easier to get in the back door if you first let go of any need to be right and any need to prove you are.

Life is considerably more difficult when we cling to old beliefs that have outlived their usefulness.

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.
Please click for more of my articles on LinkedIn and at Happiness 1st Institute.

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.


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.


Hashtag: #armywife


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 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.”


Join the conversation on Facebook:

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

Adult Play









Changing the way we think about play in relationship to being an adult can greatly increase physical activity during the adult years. The paradigm through which society currently views play is that it is something children do–when you become an adult, play stops (or moves to adult-only activities). We’re forgoing a lot of fun and many health benefits by perceiving play as for kids.

Adults can enjoy play if they give themselves permission and don’t allow it to interfere with their self-definition as an adult. We all define ourselves and the behaviors that are appropriate for us, though many do not do it consciously. There are tremendous benefits of deciding for yourself, instead of allowing society to dictate to you, what is appropriate for you.

See if you can increase the fun and reduce the stress in your life by playing. Try it, you’ll like it.
Make Play OK Physical Activity v022014 Final

















Stress GREATLY Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

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

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

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

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

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

Stress interferes with our ability to stick to our goals.

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

How do you know if you’re stressed?

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

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

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

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

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



Stress Greatly Increases Obesity

Prevention Saves Lives and Money


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stress is a significant initial cause of mental illness.

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

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


Personality Models: The Flaw

Personality Models: The Flaw

Can greater accuracy and completeness of personality models be obtained using emotional state data? I believe it can.

Existing personality models seem to explain behavior because most individuals maintain a relatively consistent chronic emotional state throughout life.

Emotional State (ES) is a way of referring to the emotion someone is feeling in-the-moment. (i.e. happy, sad, depressed, hopeful, hopeless, frustrated, angry, anxious, eager, etc.)

Chronic Emotional State (CES) is the set point, or emotional state a specific individual tends to return to repeatedly in the absence a significant reason to feel otherwise.

The behavior individuals exhibits is tied most closely with the current Emotional State. The personality model research I’ve reviewed looks at behavior, but not emotional state at the time the behavior is observed. Self-reports of behavior also do not gather data on emotional state at the time of the behavior.

An individual whose Chronic Emotional State is happy exhibits behaviors consistent with that Emotional State. There will be variances due to occasional lower Emotional States and during times of resource depletion (i.e. illness and sleep deprivation). High stress will cause temporary changes in Emotional State.

The consistency of Emotional State is well documented in the scientific literature. Lottery winners, newlyweds, and newly disabled individuals typically return to their Chronic Emotional State within two years after these significant life changes. The reason for the stability of Chronic Emotional States is not because it is genetic or a fixed human trait.

Chronic Emotional State is the result of habits of thought.

Why isn’t this commonly recognized? First, because researchers do not tend to explore individual difference at the level of thought. The work would be extremely time-consuming and would lack consistency because at the level o thought the uniqueness of each one of us becomes very apparent. Even two people who make identical choices follow very different thought processes to reach the decision.

Secondly, because habits of thought are habits–but not recognized as such and we are taught our personalities are who we are, few people change their thought patterns. Many people have a fear that if they change their personality they will no longer be the same person. Some fear they will no longer know their self. The truth is, those who deliberately change their habits of thought know their self better than they ever did before they experienced the liberating power of changing habits of thought that weren’t serving them well.

Like any habit, changing habits of thought takes commitment and does not happen overnight.

Patience with oneself is required, but the knowledge and establishment of realistic expectations about how long it takes to create new habits of thought is not readily available. While we can think, and can even believe, new thoughts immediately. But even when we believe something that opposes our former habits of thought, the old habitual thoughts will continue coming to mind until the thought-paths that supported the beliefs are allowed to diminish and new thought-paths that support the new belief are developed. Until this process is completed, you may find yourself thinking (and in the early stages) even speaking things you no longer believe. It’s just old programming that is still stronger than the new programming you’re creating. It’s natural and it does not mean you can’t change the habit of thought, just that the process is not yet complete.

What we do and why

We do what we believe will feel better, via it is via approach or avoidance.

Long-term vs. Short-term Goals

Whether we’re looking long-term or short-term when we make decisions about what will feel best depends on a variety of factors, but mostly on which ones we’ve focused on more. If long-term goals aren’t given a lot of airtime in our mind, short-term goals will steer our decision-making because we have not created thought-paths to thoughts about the potential consequences of our actions as they related to our long-term goals.

Focusing on long-term goals increases the consideration we give the consequences of our words and actions. However, it is important that the goals be our own–not goals others attempt to impose upon us.

Recommended Research Direction

If personality trait researchers would begin collecting data about mood (Emotional State), they would see more clearly why inconsistencies between their models and research findings continue to appear. The connection between Chronic Emotional State and behavior would become more apparent.

If personality trait researchers did a study where they collected the usual data and mood and then put the study group through my 40-hour program where they are taught the effect habits of thought may have on their lives and how to develop new habits of thought that support their ability to thrive more in all areas of life, they would be amazed at the results. By collecting the usual data and mood before and after (at the end of the course, 3-months post course and 1-year post-course), they would see clearly why there are so many inconsistencies.

An additional step that would be labor intensive but provide very valuable insights would be to collect and analyze answers to brief essay questions before the course and again one year later. Using questions that pertain to common life events would provide significant insights to the value to individuals and to society of empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills that allow them to deliberately change their habits of thought.

As a starting point, I suggest the following questions:

Instructions: Read each question and imagine yourself in the situation described. Write the first thoughts that come to your mind. There are no wrong answers. When it asks “What do you do,” your answer can reflect what you think because thinking is doing something. Biological functions (i.e. go to the bathroom) should not be reported unless they are related to the emotional state you’re imagining. Please limit your answers to 300 words, but be sure to answer each element of every question. Thank you.

  1. You are in a restaurant. Your spouse/date/significant other is late meeting you and has not called or texted. What do you do? A) When s/he is late (immediate response)? B) How do you feel (emotion)? C) If you wait, what do you do while you wait?, and D) When you see him/her, what do you do?
  2. Your boss gives an assignment you wanted to someone else. What do you do and how do you feel?
  3. You’re in a bad mood. A) What do you do and how do you feel? B) Define bad mood as it personally applies to you.
  4. You’re given an opportunity that requires you to do something that makes you anxious, but doing this could lead to something you want but don’t know how to achieve/get otherwise. The thing that makes you uncomfortable is legal, ethical and moral. What do you do and why?
  5. You want two things that seem to conflict. You don’t see how you can have both. What do you do and why?
  6. Someone is rude to you. A) Describe the situatiorgiveon. B) What do you do? C) Why?
  7. You disagree with someone close to you (i.e. parent/sibling/spouse/child/sibling/long-term best friend). How do you feel and what do you do?
  8. You find someone’s wallet and there is cash in it. What do you do and why?
  9. Someone who hurt you a long time ago asks for forgiveness. What do you do and how do you feel?
  10. You decide you want something you have no idea how to get or achieve. What do you do and how do you feel?
  11. You have company over and the dog eats dinner before it is served. What do you do and how do you feel?
  12. You’re on your way home from somewhere that you go frequently and you miss your turn. What do you do and how do you feel?
  13. Before you go to sleep at night, how do you usually feel and what do you usually do?
  14. When you wake-up in the morning, how do you usually feel and what do you usually do first?

I would be happy to participate in research with any interested researcher.



Beating Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] (Wittayanukorn, Qian and Hansen)

[2] (Dockray and Steptoe)

[3] (Hidaka)

[4] (Martin and Dahlen)

[5] (Martin and Dahlen)