You Shouldn’t BE Happy

In Alison Beard‘s article, The Happiness Backlash, in the July-August 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, it is clear to me that she makes herself more unhappy by believing she should be happy when she isn’t. You shouldn’t be happy, you can be, but it’s not a should.

I wanted to share my comment on her article with you because I think what she is doing is common and it increases misery.

This is a modified version of what I wrote to Alison. Quotes are excerpts from her article:

Your premise that you should be happy is false, “The huge and growing body of happiness literature promises to lift me out of these feelings. But the effect is more like kicking me when I’m down. I know I should be happy.”

“Social scientists tell us that even the simplest of tricks—counting our blessings, meditating for 10 minutes a day, forcing smiles—can push us into a happier state of mind.” The reason their simple tricks are not effective at increasing long-term happiness is that they address symptoms of unpleasant feeling moods, not the root cause.

Your emotional state is not dependent upon your life circumstances and is especially not dependent upon a comparison of your life and those of others–if you have developed psychological flexibility.

Your emotional state is the function of two major things and some less important things that affect it.  The first is whether you’re moving toward your unique personal goals. It does not matter what those goals are. They could be to become the richest person on the planet or to become a stay-at-home Mom who has time for bubble baths each or simply someone who has time to get enough sleep or the ability to get enough food for one day, or any other goals that are meaningful to you. If you’re moving in the direction of your goals, you feel much better than if you’re moving away from them. If you’re staying equal distance (not toward or away) your emotion varies by how long you’ve been there and how far you are and whether you believe you’ll ever get there. That brings us to the second major factor–mindset.

Mindset is, to me, the habitual pattern of thoughts that an individual usually uses. Because they are habits, they are the default mode of that individual. Like all habits, they can be changed, but not by simple tricks in a few minutes. Habits of thought include many things, but one that is important to this topic is whether a person tends to react to situations with appreciation, irritation, frustration, anger, envy, despair, etc.  Our chronic emotional state is the product of our habits of thought. Two people can have the exact same meal with the exact same waiter at the same table and one can thoroughly enjoy it while the other is frustrated because he finds it lacking in many ways. Both are right, from their personal perspective. We can choose the perspective from which we view any situation. It’s a function of psychological flexibility and a key element of resilience, both of which strongly support good mental health (even following trauma), good relationships, and greater success in all areas of life. In fact, research shows that being resilient before experiencing a trauma (and even learning resilience afterwards) can lead to posttraumatic growth instead of PTSD. It’s not just our veterans that experience PTSD. It can be the result of accidents, crime, and even giving birth.

Other factors come into play. The level of your personal resources such as adequate sleep, nutrition, hydration and whether your body is in pain or ill will affect your emotional state and your behavior.

There are no shoulds in happiness. You are where you are. Should-ing yourself will usually make you feel worse. You can choose what to do from where you are and if being happier is not important to you, leave it to those who want to be happy. It’s not difficult to be happy while pursuing goals that are important to us personally if our habits of thought aren’t sabotaging us.

New research, published in Global Advanced in Health and Medicine informs us that emotions are sensory feedback from a sensory system that even one-celled organisms have, which guide us away from danger and toward self-actualization (Peil, 2014).

Don’t worry if what you’re doing is not the same as what others are doing. They may not want what you want. We are all beautifully unique and life is more fun when we don’t think we have to embrace things others are embracing that don’t appeal to us.

Best wishes to you on having the life you want.

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.

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.


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Students and Stress

 Students and Stress–most of the stress is optional if you have the skills.Stressed Students at desk flyer

Stressed Students at desk flyer

Interested in learning more? Sign-up for one of our FREE, no risk, no pressure introductory evenings where we give you helpful information that can help you and information about programs that can help you change your life to what you want it to be in every area.

http://www.happiness1st.com/events/introductory-evening/

 

 


Believe in Yourself

Our Gifts

Everyone has gifts they have the potential to give the world, their community and their family. Too often these gifts remain hidden because we do not believe in our ability or our potential.

If you ever discourage a dream–your own or someone else’s–ask yourself what gifts your discouragement may be holding back from the world.

Humans have an amazing capacity to rise to the occasion when given the chance. Without hope of success, we don’t give ourselves the chance.

If this post can inspire even one person to at least try to follow one of their dreams, it has succeeded.

We barely know what hidden depths lie in ourselves. So often people are surprised by what they are capable of given the opportunity (or sometimes, the challenge). How can we possibly know what another could do?

Believe in Yourself

Christopher Maloney did not believe in himself for years. He filled out the application to be on X-factor five times and then tore it up because he did not have enough faith in himself to be on the show. Others discouraged him and told him he was not good enough. Finally, after moving in with his Nan to take care of her, her faith convinced him to try. Here is the result:

One of my teachers once said something that I think is totally appropriate to say to everyone, “What right do you have to deprive the world of your gifts?”

Magic happens when you believe in yourself.

The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking. Motivational Background
The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking. Motivational Background

What would it take for you to believe in your dreams? Whatever that is–Do it. Trust yourself.

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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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Graduate Summer Reading

Summer Reading!? I graduated. I don’t have to do any summer reading.

If you’re thinking that, you’re on the path to failure.

There is more new information every day than any one person can keep up with. You don’t have to know it all, but if you don’t make an effort to keep up with information in areas that interest you, you’re living in the slow lane.

So choose a career that excites you because that will make keeping up pleasurable. That is one of the big keys to success.

Beyond keeping up in your chosen field, creating a winning mindset is even more important to your success in life…in your relationships, in your career, and in your choices. That is what I encourage new graduates to read The Magic of Thinking Big

Yes, it’s an old book but it is timeless if you add zeros to the “big” salaries. The advice is sound and for almost everyone raised in the typical educational institution, it will change the way you think in positive ways. In school you were asked to conform but nonconformist thinking is the thinking that solves problems. Conformists are still looking at problems and believing they are roadblocks when successful thinkers are seeing the opportunities inherent within the solutions.

Pick up a copy and start your summer reading today. It may be the most valuable $10. you ever spend.

Oh, and don’t forget to have fun this summer. It’s important.

Best wishes for a future that is more than you dream of it being.


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.


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.