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

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.

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.

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.


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)

Stressed Employees and Business Owners

Stressed employees and business ownersStressed employees and business owners

Helping Stressed Employees and Business Owners

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

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

The changes become permanent and life is less stressful thereafter.

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

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


Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

As Thoreau said,

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

If you substitute stress for evil, I would say,

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

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

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

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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

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

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

The negative effects begin immediately.

Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

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

Employee Respect: Who Gets It?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smart Employers Know . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(704) 25 one -51 five zero

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

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

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Perfectionism Harms

Perfectionism Harms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This same type of perfectionism increases the risk of burnout.

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

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

Burnout in High Stress Occupations: Solutions

Employee Engagement

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

Burnout in High Stress Occupations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Difference Does this Make?

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

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

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

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

The Good news is

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

Resilience leads to desirable traits including:

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

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

Building A Resilient Culture

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

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

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

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

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

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

(7O4) 25I…5I5O

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


Primary Prevention of Heart Disease: Infographic

Save Lives Save Money Prevent CVD

Primary Prevention Saves Lives and Saves Money

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

Primary Prevention of Heart Disease

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a long, healthy and happy life.

                                Jeanine Joy

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


Curiosity is a Super Power

Curiosity is a Super Power

Sometimes, when someone comes into a conversation I’m having halfway through, they think I’m crazy or that the world I visualize will never exist but generally, if I can begin at the beginning with someone whose mind is not so closed to possibilities that a crow bar is needed to open it up enough for a breath of fresh air to blow through, I can lead them, step-by-step through the very logical steps to the point where they can see it too.

For quite a while after I realized that I had figured out each step and that there were no more missing bridges between what we know and a world beyond what most believe we could ever create I questioned why it was me. Like always, when I ask a question continuously, the answer comes. I remember the excitement I felt, to the core of my Being, when I saw an Einstein quote, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Now, I’d always thought of Einstein as a genius of the greatest magnitude and revered his mind. When I saw this quote, it resonated with me because it said exactly what I felt about myself. I had a burning question, “What makes humans thrive?” that I sought clear answers to for more than a decade. Each piece of the puzzle gave me greater clarity and created many related questions that I sought answers to.

I had not seen my journey as allowing my inner, curious child to explore. I had seen it as more important and more serious than that because the journey began by knowing how much difference resilience could make in a life and a keen desire to help others become more resilient. When I began this journey I had no idea that the same root cause would improve every area of life or the far reaching consequences it could have not just for individuals, but also for society. If I had, I am sure I would have thought myself incapable of finding the answers or helping the world see the light of truth. But a funny thing happens when you learn things that will help someone else, your motivation to give that information to others, to help them thrive more becomes an insatiable desire–a desire of the best kind–because when I satisfy my desire I help others.

I came across this little video today and for those who can’t imagine the world I am sure is possible, I hope it might help you see that it may be more possible than you realize today. There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher appears. I want to help everyone, especially those who aren’t thriving, but until the student is ready I can’t help. What is required to be ready? A willingness to ask “What if…” and “Could this be true?” instead of a mind that is closed to the possibilities.

A Happier Huffington?

I was delighted to read Arianna Huffington’s post this weekend about how the Huffington Post changed its policies to present the news in a more balanced light.

A Happier Huffington is welcome news.

I’ve written several times about the fact that the news does not report to inform, but to get ratings, in several posts on LinkedIn and on my website,, including this post on how worry is killing you–unnecessary worry. Research in the past showed the media that ratings improve when people are frightened. I’ve seen the direct research and Bernard Goldberg’s 2002 book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, clearly describes the bias inherent in media reporting.

Despite the well documented bias, most people say they watch the news to stay informed, not consciously recognizing that the news is very skewed toward the negative. There are far more things that go right in this world every moment than those that go wrong. The predominant view seems to be that the news provides an accurate portrayal of the reality of our world–a view that is factually inaccurate.

In my writing, I’ve been doing my best to educate individuals and organizations about the benefits of positivity and detriments of negativity (pessimism). Our bodies function far better when we are positively focused–so much so that positively focused individuals live, on average, 10 years longer and enjoy 18 healthier years because the debilitating end of life diseases come much sooner to negatively focused individuals.

Doesn’t make sense, you say? That is only because the research on how positivity and negativity affects the body has not reached mainstream awareness yet. The sooner the better, if you ask me. Our bio-physical processes are directly affected by our mood. Immune function, cognitive function, digestive function, mental health, and neurological function are all optimized by a positive emotional state and become dysfunctional when an individual experiences more negative emotions.

In my first non-fiction book, True Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo, I detail the link between health and emotional state and provide techniques that help individuals change to a more positive focus. In my first novel, Shades of Joy, I write at length about the potential for class action attorney’s to find fertile ground using the negative bias of the news and the known detrimental effects of negativity–which are worse than the impact of smoking cigarettes. Shades of Joy is currently with the editor and will be out later this year. I have been attempting to get legislators to introduce a safe harbor against such suits contingent on the media no longer taking advantage of the negative bias and providing public service announcements to educate the public about positivity and programs that teach the public how to benefit from the new knowledge.

Stress and happiness are two ends of the same continuum. In this post, I wrote about the potential liability to employers from this knowledge, which it can be argued they should know. I think the media has a similar potential liability.

Apparently the old paradigm about negative news selling, “If it bleeds, it leads,” has a flaw in an era when sharing of stories has a tremendous effect on their reach. New research has shown that we share more stories that make us feel good than those that make us feel bad. That is good news all around. As far as I know, Arianna Huffington is the first major news supplier to recognize this and adjust the policies of her organization to fit the new paradigm better. I hope others follow her lead.


What Do Lack of Employee Engagement, Altruism, Volunteerism have in Common?

What Do Lack of Employee Engagement, Altruism, Volunteerism have in Common?

They are all symptoms of the same root cause.

Our behavior is closely connected to our emotional state. Almost every beneficial behavior increases when an individual feels good emotionally and worsens when the individual feels less than positive emotions.

Our chronic emotional state, which is our dominant emotional state, affects how we perceive the world around us. Below our conscious level of awareness, the inputs from our senses are sorted and only some of the information is passed to our conscious mind. Our senses receive so much information the filtering process is necessary. Much of the information is irrelevant. If you continuously felt every place your clothes touch you skin, it would make it difficult to think about other things.

These filters make a lot of decisions before we are even aware the information is available–deciding what to send to the conscious mind and what not to send. One filter is based on how we feel emotionally. There is more than one filter that uses emotion. Your current mood is the basis of one filter. Have you ever noticed that when you’re angry you suddenly remember other things you were angry about in the past that are like the thing you are currently angry about–things you haven’t thought about in a while.

Another filter is based on your chronic emotional state. Your chronic emotional state is simply the emotional state you’re often in. Some people might even consider it their personality–it isn’t, but it can seem that way because our chronic state is based on habits of thought that most people do not change throughout life. We even have archetypes, such as the Drama Queen that represent a chronic emotional state characterized by frustration, irritation, impatience, being overwhelmed and frequent disappointments.

Because of the filtering process, someone who is frequently frustrated will focus on areas of life that are frustrating while ignoring areas that would be easy to appreciate. Likewise, someone who is frequently angry will focus on things that make her angry–even when there is much to appreciate in her environment. Someone who is frequently in a state of appreciation will focus on things he appreciates and be less aware of things that would make him frustrated or angry.


Being engaged at work requires interest in and a desire to do the work with a positive attitude. Someone whose filters are continually highlighting less than positive aspects about their job, their performance, their boss, their co-workers, and the company they work for will find it difficult to be engaged at work. Even when the company makes an effort to make sure they provide a good work environment, the employee’s filters continue to primarily highlight the negative more than the positive.

The recent economic downturn shifted a lot of people who were more fearful than usual during the downturn, to a lower chronic emotional state. At that same time, many companies had to ask employees to do more with less. It is not surprising that Gallup is reporting low employee engagement numbers worldwide. In Gallup’s most recent report only 30% of American workers were engaged, 20% were actively disengaged and 50% were not engaged. The annual cost estimated by Gallup for the actively disengaged workers lack of engagement was 450-550 billion dollars.

Better Managers

Gallup’s recommendation include improving management but even a wonderful manager will not be perceived as wonderful by an employee whose filtering system is highlighting the worse–or interpreting the manager’s words and actions in a negative way.

Praise of an employee’s work is easily received by an individual who is in a state of appreciation. Praise the work of an employee who is chronically frustrated and the employee may misinterpret it to mean you’re getting ready to ask for things that are frustration (buttering up instead of honest praise). The manager cannot control this. The emotionally intelligent manager may be more aware of what is happening and able to get through the filters for some frustrated employees some of the time–but it is the hard way of going about it.

Also, managers have the same sorts of brains with their own filtering system. Many of them were affected by the economic downturn.

It is not just the people who were directly affected whose chronic emotional state slid lower. The level of fear rose in many people who never experienced negative economic impacts from the downturn.

Altruism and Volunteerism

Countries with low employee engagement also report low rates of altruism and volunteerism. Researchers have already linked good corporate citizenship, altruistic behavior, volunteerism, and kindness to strangers to positive mood. Researchers have found that when people feel good, they do good. Being kind can also promote a sense of community, which is known to increase engagement.

When someone does something nice for someone else, more kind behavior is inspired by feelings of gratitude.

There is some evidence linking guilt to positive behavior and some charities attempt to guilt donors into giving but this is not recommended because guilt causes stress that is associated with negative health outcomes. Guilt is more about restoring a perceived imbalance -1 + 1 = 0, a zero sum game. Whereas pure altruism adds value to the world.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is one of the reasons employee engagement is so beneficial to employers. Positive mood is associated with greater intrinsic motivation.

The Effect of Resilience

We all know that one person can remain engaged even under the most trying of circumstances while others engagement rapidly declines when stressors are present. Resilience is a critical trait in the workforce. Without resilience employees will not function well when something makes them lose their mental-emotional balance. No one can control what happens to them during their life, marriages fail, loved ones die, people become ill and require care or perseverance to get through difficult treatments, business struggle and sometimes our fears about safety, for ourselves, our family and even our country seem eminent. The ability to bounce back and function in the aftermath of such events is crucial.

Every business continuity plan requires employees to be able to act. If the employees are not resilient, some of them will not meet the challenges. Resilience is a skill that can be built in advance–a skill that increases when positivity is increased.

Employee Wellness

Another area that Gallup links to increased engagement is higher levels of employee wellness. That is no surprise to me because wellness goals are far more likely to be achieved in the positively focused individual.

I’ve already outlined the link between chronic stress, positivity, and wellness program outcomes in The Key Ingredient Your Corporate Wellness Program is Missing and a few other articles (links below) so I won’t elaborate on them here. Increasing positivity improves the root cause of wellness. For a full discussion, see my book TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo.

The Root Cause

The root cause of engagement, altruism, volunteerism, intrinsic motivation and resilience can be traced directly to chronic emotional stance. With the right skills and tools, improving chronic emotional state is easy. It is a new approach to engagement and wellness. Prepare for results that exceed expectations.

Twenty years of cross disciplinary research has gone into developing and fine tuning our methods. The early adopters will achieve significant advantages over their slower competitors. There is nothing to lose and much to gain. We offer a free consultation to businesses and for individuals, our premier programs come with a money back guarantee. Call today for a better tomorrow.


Jeanine Joy is an author, speaker, and CEO focused on improving human thriving. For techniques on defusing stressful thoughts so you can relax and enjoy life more, try one of my books or programs. Also watch for a book focused on optional aspects of aging and not taking those options. It may be late 2015 or 2016 before that one is out but it will address this issue in more detail.

Please consider sharing this information with your network. If you found it valuable, they may also find value in what I have written.

I wish for you many blissings. (Blissings = blissful blessings)

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

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Workplace Bullying: New Rules Heading Your Way? (CA, NY, NJ, US Virgin Islands)

workplace bullying

Workplace bullying legislation backed by The Healthy Workplace Campaign has been introduced in 26 states. Legislation is currently pending in New York, California, New Jersey, and the US Virgin Islands.

The language of each bill varies somewhat but the core language is fairly consistent based on a model bill provided by Senate Bill 3863 in New York begins by stating some of the reasons the state feels the need to provide protection against workplace bullying to employees.Workplace bullying

“The Legislature hereby finds that the social and economic well-being of the state is dependent upon healthy and productive employees. At least one-third of all employees directly experience health endangering workplace bullying, abuse, and harassment during their working lives. Such form of mistreatment is four times more prevalent than sexual harassment alone. Workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment can inflict serious harm upon targeted employees including feelings of shame and humiliation, severe anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, impaired immune systems, hypertension, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

After stating that existing laws do not provide adequate protection and recompense for individuals who cannot prove that the abuse falls under a protected class, the language goes on to explain:

“The purpose of this article shall be to provide legal redress for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically, or economically by deliberate exposure to abusive work environments and to provide legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of employees at work.”

Q – What is “abusive conduct”?

A – Acts, omissions, or both, that a reasonable person would find abusive, based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct, including but not limited to:

  • Repeated verbal abuse such as:
  • The use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets
  • Verbal, Non-verbal, or physical conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature
  • The sabotage or undermining of an employee’s work performance

If an employee’s known psychological or physical illness or disability is exploited, it shall be considered an aggravating factor (read: stiffer potential legal liability).

A single act will not normal constitute abusive conduct unless it is especially severe an egregious.

An “abusive work environment” is when an employer or one or more of its employees intends to cause pain or distress to an employee, and subjects that employee to workplace bullying that causes harm.

Bullied employees are granted protection against retaliation or “adverse employment action” under the proposed legislation in New York.

Employee’s whose request for assistance with bullying behaviors in the workplace are not addressed will be considered constructively discharged if they have reported the conduct and appropriate actions were not taken.

The potential penalties to an employer are significant and depending on the unique circumstances may include any relief the court deems appropriate including, but not limited to, reinstatement, removal of the offending party from the work environment, reimbursement for lost wages, front pay, medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering. It concludes by stating that remedies under this law would not preclude remedies available under other laws. So, for example, if someone is a member of a protected class, he or she might be able to seek damages under existing legislation and this new legislation, if it passes.

Although the proposed legislation has not yet been made into law, I believe it is one egregious and well publicized bullying situation away from being passed in a similar form in many states. The bill is being pushed by a grassroots effort that could quickly grow as the result of social media.

The term, “going postal” originated when workplace bullying hit a crisis point. The documentary, Murder by Proxy, details what led to the Royal Oak Post Office murders in 1991. If a similar situation were to occur today, I believe the grassroots efforts would reach a crescendo and states would quickly pass legislation in response to the public outcries. If this were to occur when elections were on the horizon, employers could find themselves subject to anti-bullying legislation almost before they’ve had time to read the rules, much less take steps to ensure compliance and to mitigate their risks.

Murder is the number one cause of workplace deaths for women.

But workplace bullying does not have to near the level of murder before the employer is liable for significant damages.

Today, Google returns eleven million results for the search term workplace bullying. The Huffington Post has run multiple articles on workplace bullying during the past few years. As awareness grows, the likelihood that an employee will complain about mistreatment increases. That is a good thing because that mistreatment has numerous negative effects on the organization. Productivity, worker health, creativity, engagement, and turnover are all negatively effected when workplace bullying is occurring. Being aware of it is important to the health of the organization. But, you have to be prepared to act on what you know because the potential an employee will file suit and win increases with your awareness and with the employee awareness that the states are recognizing the negative impacts on the employee.

We have moved to a culture that values collaboration and does not tolerate the mistreatment of the employee in the ways that were once considered acceptable. If your organization’s culture is not keeping pace with cultural change it is only a matter of time before it pays a price. That price may be loss of your best talent to a more advanced organization or a lawsuit that could have devastating effects on your company’s future.

Harassed Employees Can Get Help Now

The US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) already provides a requirement that employers provide a safe work environment. OSHA provides a hotline and a form for employees to request assistance by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to your local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an employee are more likely to result in an inspection.

OSHA provides additional information for both employers and employees.

Note: Employees who observe harassment (but are not victims) should not stand by and do nothing. Standing by and allowing bullying could lead to the loss of your job–either because you did not act or communicate what you observed or because your company has to let people go or close its doors when it is hit with a valid complaint and resultant penalties.

International Workplace Bullying Laws

Sweden passed their Victimisation at Work act in 1994, almost twenty years ago. Great Britain has also passed legislation, with their Protection from Harassment Act passed in 2001. Canada, France, Australia, and Iceland also have legislation in place.

Follow me to see the update when I post the second and third posts in this series. I will provide steps the employer can take to reduce workplace bullying in their organization and afford some protection against potential claims and the disruption that can occur when employees are harassed. I will also provide some background on how individuals (both bullies and the victim) may experience these situations and warning signs.

Contact us to learn about how we can help you reduce workplace bullying.

Is Happiness Wrong When Some People are Suffering?

Is Happiness Wrong?

Recently someone told me I should not be happy because there are people in the world who are suffering.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this. Is happiness wrong?

Here are mine:

I have researched happiness for many years and understand that happiness is not the result of success or good health. Yes, those things help. But the research is exceedingly clear that individuals who are positively focused enjoy better health, better relationships, better mental health, and more career success. When you’re happy first, good health, great relationships, and success follow.

Happy people are literally smarter. The same person scores better on the SAT exam when he is happy than when he is not happy.

So, if we want to solve the world’s problems, it seems to me we want the happiest possible people working on the solutions because they are the ones who are more likely to find them.

Let’s take these one at a time.

The disease burden in the world creates a tremendous financial strain on every economy, it not only costs money to treat but also creates losses from lower productivity. Our immune system works better when we are happy. The Grant Study showed that a positive outlook delayed death by more than a decade and reduced the number of years with chronic and debilitating diseases by eighteen years because the dreaded end of life diseases came much closer to death.

That alone would be a tremendous boon to the economy. Diabetes, stroke, depression, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even the common cold and flu are less likely to happen to someone who has a positive mental focus.

So, from a health standpoint, I say the more happy people the better. From a health standpoint my happiness benefits a lot of people beyond myself because it lowers the risk of my adding to the disease burden.

As researched in the Harvard Men’s Study, whether the graduate was positively focused or not meant more to his eventual success than his Harvard education. The negatively focused Harvard graduates were much more likely to become alcoholics, to divorce, to commit suicide, to experience business failures, and more than their positively focused classmates. Even though we live in an era where prosperity is beginning to be viewed as somehow undesirable by some who believe that one person’s success lessens their chances of success, I think most would agree that a business failure hurts not only the business owner but also the employees who are left without jobs. I don’t see much argument from society that not being an alcoholic and a lower divorce rate are both beneficial to society.

For the good of society, the more success the better. One person’s success does not diminish your chances of success. Today the real root cause of wealth is a well executed good idea.

Happy people are more likely to marry and more likely to remain married. Happy people have better relationships of all types–at home, work, in the neighborhood. Extended outward this even plays out in research that demonstrated unhappy people are more likely to commit crimes–something that is very bad for relationships. Happy people are more likely to be kind to strangers, to help someone in need, and display better corporate citizenship. I don’t think anyone would dispute that these are all pro-social benefits.

Happy citizens are good for society.

Now, if you were taught the false premise that happiness is the result of circumstances or that it is something you must chase, you may feel that this is sort of like someone sticking their thumbs in their ears, wiggling their fingers and saying “Ha Ha, I’m happy–you’re not.”

But the truth is that it is not circumstances that determine happiness. You can be sick and poor and worried and find a perspective that makes you feel hopeful and in the moment you find that hopeful thought and believe in its possibility, you feel better. In that same moment, your immune, cognitive, digestive, and endocrine system functions begin improving.

As your cognitive function improves, solutions you could not think of just minutes before occur to you.

Your happiness is determined by the perspective you take about your current circumstances.

It is possible to feel positive emotion even in the midst of a bad situation by finding the silver lining.

I’ve been studying what makes humans thrive for a very long time. I know how to help people thrive. I am best able to do that when my cognitive abilities and my health are in top form. My cognitive abilities and health are best when I am happy.

Therefore, I believe my happiness benefits me and all those (the world) that I am set on helping.

The old paradigm said, “You shouldn’t be happy until someone else/everyone else is happy.” But that paradigm did not have the benefit of the information researchers have published in the last few decades. The research leads us to a new paradigm, “If you want to help others, maintain your happiness as best you can because you will have greater clarity of thought and be in a better position to identify solutions.”

Thinking about the problems others are experiencing increases my stress level, which decreases my cognitive abilities, decreases my immune system function, my digestive system, endocrine system and mental health. I don’t think that serves anyone well.

What do you think? Is Happiness Wrong?

The research on happiness and health as well as techniques that help you develop the skills that allow you to be happy even when your circumstances are less than ideal are provided in True Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo. Right now I am working on an expanded follow-up to True Prevention (Stress Kills:Happiness Heals) that takes the conversation into uncharted territory applying the principles to eliminating disparate impact, creating peace, eliminating racism, education, and more. If you prefer classroom style learning, we provided classes in person and online.

When the research became so clear and compelling to me, I named my company Happiness 1st to remind myself and my clients that when you’re happy first, everything you want is easier to achieve.