Time to Transform Education

Transform Education

Why Transform Education?

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it. 

While reading peer-reviewed journals that provided pieces of the human thriving puzzle, I kept coming across research demonstrating that when children are taught certain soft skills, the trajectory of their lives improved. Since diverting a child’s trajectory from prison, addiction, and poverty to better results meets my definition of increasing human thriving, I followed the threads. Each research article provides citations to earlier articles and later articles that cite the article are also easy to identify. 

What I learned both thrilled and angered me. It thrilled me because it is very clear that we can end the school-to-prison pipeline, significantly reduce the 1.5 million 17-year-olds who go to jail each year, and improve outcomes in positive ways. We can increase high school and college graduation rates and reduce the mental, physical, and behavioral ravages caused by chronic stress. 

It angered me because the research is conclusive that we now know how to help these children and prevent their suffering and we aren’t doing it globally or even nationally. This upset me so much I dedicated most of my time over the next year to clearly documenting the research and articulating a better way forward. That work culminated in a book titled, Our Children Live in a War Zone: Use the Power of Resilience to Improve Their Lives.

The book is designed to teach parents and teachers state-of-the-art social and emotional management skills so they can, in turn, teach them to children. Since we have not historically taught these skills, just being an adult does not mean an individual understands healthy ways of interacting. The high number of marriages that end in divorce is a clear testament to this truth. When we transform education we transform children’s lives away from poverty, hunger, violence, drugs, and hopelessness.

Children need us to transform education faster

A few schools across the country have implemented programs that teach these skills, although I have not yet seen any that incorporate the latest research about emotions. Even without being as comprehensive as they should be, the results they are attaining are phenomenal. The following video begins with the same quote I often use, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The video is R. Keeth Matheny of Austin, TX, at a Capitol Hill briefing held by Committee for Children, in collaboration with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), on the importance of effective social and emotional learning (SEL) at every stage of education, from early learning through college and career prep.

Extrapolating the from Austin High school data and assuming the same results across America would result in:

  • 24 million additional passing grades
  • 8.6 million fewer discipline referrals in American High Schools
  • 12 million more time-on-task for teachers

In addition to hard data, they also theorized that suicide and severe depression would be reduced. I can attest to that because after I taught a program in a local high school one of the student’s mother’s contacted me to tell me that her son disclosed to her that when I began teaching the class he was planning to die and the class led to his changing his mind. 

Failing 9th grade greatly increases the risk the child will drop out of high school. Failing 9th grade is highly correlated to drop outs. 20% of students currently never finish high school. Students who drop out are:

  • 3 times more likely to be unemployed
  • 4 times more likely to live their lives in poverty
  • 63 times more likely to be incarcerated

We need to transform education and workplace training

According to the video, 40% of employers said high school and college graduates are sorely lacking social and emotional skills, which makes them unready to function well in a job.

Employers have another choice–because social and emotional skills have never been taught in schools so none of your employees have as well-developed skills in that area as they could. When you consider the bickering and worse that often distracts from productive pursuits at work, the savings from increasing employees social and emotional skills can pay significant dividends. One of the benefits would be increased engagement.

It’s time for responsible federal and state policy makers to incorporate evidence-based data in public policy and school curriculums.

I checked on the bill (H.R.4509: Supporting Emotional Learning Act) introduced in 2014 and learned it has been stuck in the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education for nearly two years. Maybe the committee needs members who care about our children. Sitting on legislation that improves lives and saves money in the long-term via crimes not committed, poverty averted, and better mental and physical health is unconscionable. 

What do you think? Why would anyone stall legislation that would improve outcomes of children?

If you want to learn more about the research that supports social and emotional learning and strategies to teach your children or students, you can find everything you need right here.

A link to purchase Rescue Our Children from the War Zone is on the right side of this page. It contains 760 citations supporting the value of social and emotional learning skills and building resilience in children. 

While we’re transforming education, we should also let teachers decide how to run their classrooms and how to teach their students. They are on the front lines and they can read the room far better than someone who is not present. Teachers, like physicians, are paying a heavy price for administrative burdens and rules decreed by people who don’t do the same job. Teacher burnout causes students to lose many good teachers every year and causes teachers physical and mental health to decline. The book I co-authored on Burnout Prevention and Recovery, Resilience and Retention for the health care industry would be of great benefit to teachers as well.

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Help Your Child Create an Empowered Positive Mindset

Help Your Child Create an Empowered Positive Mindset

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

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

Partial translation:

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

I apply myself daily.

I study.

I ask questions when I don’t understand.

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

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

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

I accept responsibility and I love the challenge.



What I would change:

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

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

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

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

I love my empowered positive mindset”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Army Wife Talk Radio

Downloadable Re-play 

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

The goals of the Army Wife Network resonate with her:

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

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

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

What Will The Show Cover?


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

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

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

Additional resources are available at the Army Wife Network.

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

 Listening Instructions

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


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


Hashtag: #armywife


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

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


Join the conversation on Facebook:

Graduate Summer Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verbal Abuse Worse Than Physical Abuse?

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

Verbal Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Private Schools and Suicide

Private Schools and Suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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

Primary Prevention

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verbal Abuse

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

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

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

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

Resilience is a Learnable Skill

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

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

Public Suicide Prevention and Awareness Meetings

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

Emergency Numbers

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

Someone wants to help you. Please call

International Emergency Numbers

Australia 000

New Zealand 111

Fiji   000 or 911

United Kingdom  112 or 999

Ireland      112 or 999

Turkey   112

Switzerland  112

India  102

Hong Kong 999

Israel  101 or 112

Japan   119

Nepal  102

UAE   112

Brazil  192

Costa Rica  911

S. Africa   112, 10 177

China  120

Philippines  117 or 112

Education is Prevention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education is Prevention

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

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

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

Why attend these meetings?

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

Why am I offering these meetings for free?

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

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

I am actively seeking:

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

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

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

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

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

How Fast is Worry Killing You?

How fast is worry killing you?

Worrying causes stress. You could say worry is a form of self-induced stress. When you feel negative emotion of any type, it creates stress in your body. Worry can be a slight worry, such as a worry about whether you left the coffee pot on as you drive to work or it can be a continuous concern for the welfare of those you love.

When you worry, as soon as you feel worried, a bio-chemical change occurs in your body. These changes affect every aspect of your body, including your immune system, cognitive function, central nervous system, and digestive function to name a few. This creates a pathway for illness and disease.

The digestive function disruption, when it is continually disrupted with chronic stress from any source, including habitual worrying, becomes dysregulate greatly increasing the risks of obesity and diabetes and lowering its ability to deliver nutrition from the foods you eat to your body.

The effect on your immune system is worse. Your incidence of cold and flu will not only be more frequent, the episodes will be more severe. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The risk from cancer and even Alzheimer’s increases as immune function declines. An attitude of positive expectation reduces the risk of developing heart disease by 50% (Boehm, 2012). The risk of other diseases also increases.

Why do you worry? What is worry? In many cases worry is a lack of trust. In many cases it is not a conscious lack of trust, but a habitual one. For example, if you worry about the welfare of your child when he or she is not with you, perhaps your young adult child, where you have no control over the outcome you may believe your worry is love, but it is really indicating that you do not trust your child to take care of him or herself. That worry may make the child doubt him or herself, lowering self-esteem, which increases the risk of becoming a victim.

Additionally, this child you love may someday die earlier for two reasons. Today the research linking the detrimental effects of chronic stress, including chronic worry are not widely known. They are known in the halls of academia where the research has been found, but the public has not yet embraced this new knowledge that changes the way we look at healthy behavior. But if you’re worrying about a twenty-something year-old, he or she will someday understand that your early demise was partially because of worry you did about his or her welfare. Now, an emotionally healthy person will realize that she was not responsible for how you thought about her, and whether you trusted her to do what was best for herself. But if that level of emotional intelligence is not achieved, he may feel guilty about how much you worried on his behalf. Guilt is another negative emotion, one that if it is chronic, will cause the same bio-chemical chain reaction described above for worrying. Thus, your habit of worrying has the potential to rob not only you of years of healthy life, but also rob the person you are worrying about.

Now, let’s consider a major cause of worry—projecting things we see reported on the news as likely scenario’s for us or are loved ones. Is this a valid concern? Yes, to the extent that bad things happen in the world. No as far as the likelihood that they will happen to someone you love. For example, most parents worry about their child being abducted by a stranger. The risk of this is 1 out of 1.5 million children. A woman I am citing in my upcoming book, Stress Kills:Happiness Heals, figured out that a child would have to be left outside unattended for 750,000 years in order to make the risk 1 out of 1. Why do we fear this so much?

Most of us believe the media is here to inform us of life during our times. But the truth is that the media did research to see what makes viewers watch more. How does the media make money? Ratings, based on the number of viewers. What is their job? It is to get good ratings. Nowhere in that job description is there anything about informing us. If that were their goal, they might report how many millions of people made it home tonight and every night instead of scouring the planet for the worst of human experience and piping it into our homes.

Look behind the veil and see that when the media pushes that into your living room, they are doing their job, because the research showed that frightened viewers watch more news.

Remember, the first thought you have and the emotional response you have to the thought does not mean the thought is true or even likely. Negative emotion only means that the perspective of the thought is different from what is desired from the situation. The emotion does not give the potential greater validity, unless and until you let it take root.

Now, I’m not saying tragedies don’t happen. But the likelihood of one happening to you or your loved ones is extremely small. The likelihood of you having negative health outcomes from habitual worry is large.

Worry is not love. As stated earlier, worry indicates a lack of trust.

There are other factors at work here as well. When you continually worry about someone, it can diminish their confidence. Research into who criminals choose as victims shows that a lack of confidence greatly increases the risk of becoming a victim.

Is your loved one of such low intelligence that he cannot make good decisions about where to go and who to go with?

Or is your loved one just as concerned about her own wellbeing as you are and consciously making good decisions that make her safer?

Remember, the survival instinct is strong in each of us almost all the time. There are some exceptions when life feels too difficult, but that is often more a lack of resilience than a truly horrific life. My recent book, Prevent Suicide: The Smart Way increases resilience, a strong protective factor against suicide. But outside the arena of suicide (which is a temporary state of mind that will pass if given the opportunity to do so), we all have a strong natural self-preservation instinct. Combine intelligence, some common sense and this survival instinct and the risk we won’t always make it home safely is very small.

There is another pathway that being distrusted can lead to increased risk. It does not feel good when you aren’t trusted—even when the distrust manifests as worry. This can lower self-esteem and also mood, both of which are risk factors that make it more likely someone will drink and/or experiment with drugs. These will increase the risk of something to worry about happening, but the root is not the drinking or drugs, it is the lack of trust that made the person seek solace in those things.

It’s Christmas Eve. Many families will be gathered today. Many families whose conversations do not go very deep. Oh, they love one another, but they don’t know one another. Instead of worry, show your loved ones love and trust. Let them know that you’ve been misled by the media and maybe also by your own experiences in the world you lived in at their age, or the naiveté you had at their age, but you’re now going to do your best to trust more and worry less.

If you’re worried that someone is at risk, instead of worrying, take action. Tell them you are worried and that it is your life experience and your personal history and habits of thought that make you worry but they could help you overcome that by sharing with them what they do to protect themselves.

If a relative were to ask me that I would be happy to share the multitude of ways I manage my life and actions to be safe, from locking my doors to planning where I go and when I go, to wearing sensible shoes if I am out alone, to being aware of my surroundings, etc. You may be surprised at younger ladies, many of them seldom go anywhere alone, partly for social reasons but I think also because they feel more comfortable having a friend along.

Have real conversations—not surface ones. It will build stronger relationships which research shows improves your health.


Are You an Adult?

[l2g name=”” id=”869″]Are you an adult?

When did you become one?

Was it overnight when you reached a magical age? 18? 21? 25? 30? Older?

Or do you still feel like you’re faking being an adult—that there are secrets someone forgot to tell you that will make you actually feel grown-up?

Being an adult today can be very difficult but it does not have to be.

One reason being grown-up is so hard is because there are a lot of false premises taught by society. It’s not their fault. Really, it’s not. Your parents, teachers, and religious leaders were taught the same false premises.

Understanding what is truth and what is not can make the difference between a life filled with inner and outer struggles and one in which you flourish. Would you like to live a life where you can pass the truth on to those you love and help them flourish, too?

One of the false premises drilled into almost everyone’s head is that making a mistake is BAD. We’re taught making a mistake means you are less than others who do not make that mistake.

Can I be quite frank?

That whole concept of making a mistake being bad is bogus, utter BS.

That single concept keeps so many people in society “in their place” when they could be thriving so much more.

Making a mistake is part of the process of success. If you never take one or our programs or read one of my books and you just plant that belief firmly in your mind, your life will be better than it would have been with a belief that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs.

One of the big computer companies had an employee who made a mistake that resulted in the company losing over 6 million dollars. When the mistake was discovered, the employee’s manager wanted to fire him. The CEO forbid it stating, “I just spent over 6 million training him to succeed.”

I don’t expect you to make a mistake of that magnitude, but reframe your mistakes (past and future) as learning experiences and it will serve you well.

The key is to take the lesson. If you are beating yourself up for making the mistake you’re not learning the lesson—you’re just reinforcing a belief that you should not make mistakes.

Another reason being an adult can be so difficult is we are trained to believe that adults act certain ways and that they know things. Well, they do know things. But not all of them know the same things. Everyone on this planet knows things you don’t know and you know something no one else on this planet knows.

I don’t know what those things are but I do know those statements are true. You can check it out for yourself. Start asking people you encounter what they know that you probably don’t know that they think you might benefit from knowing. If they ask, (or even if they don’t, depending on your personality) share something you think will benefit them.

The long-winded point I am making is adults don’t know everything. I read and study voraciously in the field of human thriving. Because I teach and interact with others on this topic, it is very common for people to ask me if I have read a particular book or research paper. Often the answer is no. I have been studying this subject for decades! I am a fast reader. I spend far more than 40 hours a week in this field. This is my passion so working is fun—it is common for me to spend as much as 80 hours a week in pursuits related to human thriving. Yet I continually meet others who have a tidbit that I didn’t have.

You don’t have to know everything. You’ll never know everything. You could live to 100 with a sound mind and still not know everything. Do you know how much new information is created every day? How much new research is completed? How many new products developed? How many new people show up in the headlines?

Don’t try to know everything. Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing something. Being an adult does not mean you have to know it all.

But being an adult is easier, far easier, if you become comfortable asking questions.

Despite the fact that I don’t know everything, I know a great deal. In fact, I know the secrets to human thriving. Over the last several years there has not been a question anyone has asked me on the topic where my answer has failed to provide helpful and clarifying information. Sometimes so helpful it is lifesaving and often it is life changing.

Earlier this year I wrote a novel where the main character, Maia, demonstrates mental processes that increase thriving. Imagine my surprise when Maia, (who was really writing herself as I wrote the book) wrote four training manuals while she was in the novel. I’m already receiving requests for the manuals even though the first novel has not yet been published.

I hope the tidbits I shared above help you be easier on yourself about being an adult. I would like your help. I would like your questions.

Have you ever watched the movie, Pay It Forward?

Have you wanted to do something to help the world and the people who share it with but you but did not know what to do?

Did helping seem like an overwhelming task?

I need your help to help the world and all I am asking for are your questions.

I would like you to send me questions Maia can answer to create the training manuals referenced in the novel.

Please send me your questions or post them in the comment section. Any question is welcome. If you have the question, it is likely the answer will help you and others. I’ll also post as many answers as possible here and on my main website.

Thank you for helping me write books that will benefit all of us. If you want to help even more, please share this with your friends.

Thank you. I appreciate you more than you know.


♥ Jeanine Joy

For more techniques on defusing stressful thoughts so you can relax and enjoy the holidays, try one of my books.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post and hope it provided value to you. On LinkedIn, I regularly write about Happiness, Stress Reduction, Human Thriving, Primary Prevention, Health and Wellness, and more. If you would like to read my regular posts then please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and feel free to also connect with me via Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Please consider sharing this information with your network if you found it valuable, they may also find value in what I have written.

Here are other posts I have written for LinkedIn Pulse:

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.

Available Now

Coming in 2015

Better Empathy

Empathy and animals

On another post, Is Happiness Wrong? I was asked a question about empathy. Although I answered in the comment section, the formatting is limited in that venue and this is much easier to read.

Here is my definition of happiness:

“The state of happiness we are referring to doesn’t require a constant state of bliss. It is a deep sense of inner stability, peace, well-being, and vitality that is consistent and sustainable. Awareness that one possesses the knowledge and skills to return to a happy state, even when not in that state, is a critical component of sustainable happiness.”


So it is not a perpetual state of happiness that is recommended. That would necessitate some inauthentic responses at times and authenticity is extremely healthy. In Remarkable Recoveries one common thread of individuals who experienced spontaneous recoveries from terminal illnesses was a decision to be more authentic. There is enough evidence about the benefits of authenticity in the research that I always recommend individual’s be authentic.

Better EmpathyEmpathy

It is possible for something to occur that takes one out of the state of happiness, but when they have the skills and have used them often enough that they know they have enough mastery to be able to know the path back to happiness they never really dip below hopeful for long. Hopeful is a pretty healthy emotional state, far better than despair and considerably better than frustrated or other upset emotions.

Better empathy requires finesse. For most people, empathy requires that the person “understand how the upset person feels.” So, for example, let’s say they’ve just found out that someone treated them unfairly (perhaps promoted someone else when they believe they deserved the promotion or cheated on them in a relationship.” I’ll use the cheated on analogy as I explain further because most people can relate to relationship issues.

So, someone is emotionally upset about being cheated on. As their friend, we’re taught to feel empathy for them. This translates into finding out the nitty-gritty details of the transgression and feeling indignant anger and hurt for them by attempting to feel as they feel and validate the feelings they feel.

One of the first things my students learn is that you feel what you feel, no outside validation is necessary. If you feel it, then it is your emotion. You own it. It is the result of your perspective on the topic on which you are focused. There are many other perspectives that could be chosen—millions in fact.

What most people do is take the emotional hit and then make it worse.

I trusted her and love her and she cheated on me.

Choose from millions of thoughts that make it worse:

I’m a horrible judge of character to marry a woman who would cheat on me.

I’ll be alone the rest of my life because I’ll never be able to trust anyone again.

I don’t want to lose her, I don’t want to be alone.

Will I get to see the kids often if I divorce her or will I have full custody and how will I manage that?

What is wrong with me that she was not satisfied with me?

The list of potential thoughts that feel even worse goes on and on.

If you go right there with your friend, you’re feeling anger and despair right along with him. In that emotional state your cognitive abilities decrease. You’re less able to help him find solutions to the questions that are plaguing him. (I’ll ignore the negative health effects for the purposes of this conversation but they are there.) As you enter that emotional state, emphasizing with him, you are also projecting lower expectations about his future prospects to him than you would from a higher emotional state where you would have a broader viewpoint.

That is why I don’t encourage empathy—and especially not long-term empathy. What I recommend instead has several benefits to both people.

First, a word about this. I think it would be very difficult for anyone raised on our current society to not feel empathy for a friend who has experienced something unwanted. It is the duration you’re willing to tolerate the lower emotional state to feel as they feel that I encourage you to shorten—drastically.


Researchers have looked at empathy and found some surprising results. The negative emotional hit that someone who is feeling empathy feels is often worse than the negative emotional hit the person who is actually experiencing the loss feels. The person in the actual situation begins accepting the situation almost as soon as they experience it. The researchers looked at individuals who had lost a child in a natural disaster—a devastating experience. But once it happens, the parent begins the process of accepting the loss whereas the person empathizing with the loss does things like imagine how awful it would be if that were to happen to them and their child.

Researchers have also looked at and recorded the body’s responses to pain and the watchers’ negative hit is worse than the person who, for example, hits his thumb with a hammer.

I found the research interesting and eye-opening. Our imaginations are powerful and when we are the observer, our imagination is able to make our emotional response worse than that of the person actually experiencing the loss.

Other research demonstrates that our pets are mood lifters. When you’re emotionally upset your dog or cat is likely to notice but they will not join you in your low emotional state. Our family dog will sit with anyone who is emotionally upset, seeming to offer comfort, but the moment she senses the person might be ready to feel better she’ll try to start licking them and it always works.Empathy and animals

See The Potential Benefits

For example, one of my friends lost her job in the past year. Upon hearing her news I was upset for her—for something less than about 60 seconds. I have trained myself to see the silver lining so my mind automatically goes to thoughts that feel better, in this case they included:

She hated that job anyway and would have probably stayed too long, continuing to be unhappy for long periods of time each day. It was hurting her health and now she will find something better. She is a well-qualified professional in her field. I am confident she will find something she likes better and could even lessen her long commute and make more money. This is going to turn out well for her. In fact, Joe was telling me he was looking for someone for a similar position last time we talked, I’ll introduce them. Joe would really appreciate her talents and I think they’d work well together.

If I had stayed in a state of empathy, feeling angry on her behalf, it might have been days before I recalled the fact that Joe was looking for someone. I would also not have been in a position to help her remember that she is talented and well-qualified and the fact that her former employer did not appreciate her does not mean she isn’t. The employer could have had myriad reasons for letting her go that had nothing to do with her talent or skill. Perhaps he wanted someone he has a relationship with or a familial relationship. It does not matter. It could have been that her dislike of the work did impact her performance (almost certainly somewhat true), which does not say she would not be highly competent in another role, but that the structure of that particular position did not suit her strengths and/or personality.

In a broad sense, what I encourage in lieu of empathy after that first hit that is pretty inevitable is to look for the silver lining and then help the person see it for herself. See the potential the person has for wellness, for great relationships, for success. See it so clearly that you expect that for them. I won’t go into it here, in True Prevention—Optimum Health: Remember Galileo I expand on it, but research has shown that we have the ability to influence others significantly with our expectations of them.

The ability to see the person fully recovered from whatever is wrong serves them far better than you feeling as they do—despair, hopelessness, anger, resentment, jealousy, rage, frustration, fear, etc.

When you emphasize and feel as they feel your cognitive abilities restrict and you see the world as they do—from a narrowed viewpoint—a viewpoint that cannot see the good possibilities in the future.

When you see the person for their expectation, your emotional state remains at a higher level and you have the ability to influence them to move in a better-feeling emotional direction.

I’ve been doing this for quite a few years and my older friends, ones who pre-date when I learned the root cause of what makes humans thrive, have not all adopted these strategies. It really is most difficult to teach people who knew you before you were an expert. I understand why. The point is that I do spend time with people who do not do as I do. They seek me out when they are troubled because they have learned that I help them find a way to feel better. Seeing the good possibilities feels better than having the negative emotions validated via empathy. I don’t judge their emotions. Emotions are responses to thoughts that we think that assume a specific perspective. We have the ability to change our perspective and feel better but most people assume when they feel a thought that feels bad that it is both true and the only way to look at the situation.

If the emotional response to the thought feels bad there is always a better-feeling way to look at the situation.

Helping someone see their potential when they can’t see it is a gift.

I’ll go back to the imaginary friend I created for the example who found out his wife cheated on him. One of the very first things I go to when someone’s relationship rules are violated in this way is reminding the person that the desire they have is for a relationship with integrity with someone they trust who agrees to the rules for the relationship that they desire. They obviously did not have that and now they know. They did not have that before the actual cheating occurred because if they did the person would not have cheated. I also help them see that the cheating has nothing to do with them—it does not say they are not a good partner. The cheating was about the person who made the decision to take that action. Our behavior is always the result of a combination of things including our current emotional stance. I’ll share with them examples of so many people whose first marriage ended and after a while they find that they are delighted with the outcome. I’ll share my own story about how devastated I was when my first husband cheated and continue on to several years back when I wrote a thank you letter to the other woman. At the point in time that I realized how much better my life had become than it ever would have had I remained married to him, I felt gratitude to her for taking him off my hands. My method gives home when the person is feeling hopeless. It uplifts. It helps the other person see the possibilities for his or her future in a better light than they would achieve quickly if all I did was feel anger with them and validate their current emotional state.

If we feel an emotion, it is a valid response to the thought we are thinking that received that emotional response. The emotion is valid. However, it is not the only possible perspective, even about that topic. Our emotions indicate whether our thought on that topic is serving our highest good. If the response to the thought feels worse, it is moving in the wrong direction. If the response to the thought feels better, it is moving in the right direction.


None of this means that you treat the others’ emotions as wrong. It does not mean you do not care or are not concerned for their well-being. It means that you have a clearer view of a path, or paths, that will help them recover from the loss faster. Your holding this expectation of them, even just in the privacy of your own mind, can increase the other person’s resilience. You can help them bounce back faster.

It requires sensitivity as to when you speak about those paths. It is not appropriate to speak of them when the person is not yet receptive. It is best to begin in a general place (even if you have specifics in mind). For example, I know you’re a strong person. I know you’ll get through this. You have a lot of friends who are willing to help you. You are not alone.

Often, the mere act of holding someone and giving him or her space to experience their current emotions is all you can do in that moment. But rather than drop down into their emotional state while you hold the person, do your best to see the potential for a better future.

Our society tends to hug too briefly for the therapeutic benefits. An 18-second hug feels long to most westerners but that is how long it takes for a wonderful chemical cocktail to be released by the body that is soothing and healing.

Sometimes I will write down the potential I see in the other if the person is not ready to hear about the silver linings I see. I may or may not ever share what I write but what it does is strengthen my expectation for their recovery in a way that helps to make my expectation more dominant. This has a beneficial effect on them that is explained in my book based on something quantum physicists have discovered.

It’s not much different than what many parents do naturally when their child has suffered a disappointment. Although some parents become angry and belligerent when their child does not attain a desired role in the school play, many will be sympathetic while also recognizing the learning opportunity. They may feel glad that the child is learning that while disappointments can feel painful, they live through them and they do feel better in the future, while the parent is around and able to provide comfort. The parent that knows the child who is hurting (because her best friend invited someone else to go with her to the circus) will feel better and will have a lot of fun times in her life is of much greater value to the the child than the parent who feels anger, resentment, and jealousy on behalf of the child–the empathetic response. I think it is easier to see the type of stance I recommend when we look at parent-child relationships but it works equally well with friends and even with strangers the news media places in your home.

It also is not that you won’t work toward solving the problem is there is something you can do. The perspective many people seem to convey is that we have to be empathetic to solve the big problems–the families living in war zones, hunger, poverty, and other adversities people live with around the world. But we’re smart creatures. We don’t have to steep ourselves in how it would feel to know we’d like to do something about these problems. It is immediately apparent that peace, plenty of food, abundance and other pleasing circumstances would be better for everyone. Einstein said:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

When we look at a problem in the way I recommend, we immediately turn our attention toward solutions. Empathy, the way much of the world encourages it, keeps us focused on the problem.  You have to focus on solutions to solve problems.

Let’s look at this from another angle. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another but our society encourages going to the lowest common denominator with empathy. A situation where both people feel the emotional state of the one who is at the lowest emotional point. What I recommend is, when the person in the lower emotional state is ready to reach for a better-feeling emotion, that the one who sees the potential be the one that is empathized with. This process raises the emotional state of the one who is in the lower emotional state.

Cautionary Note

I will add a cautionary note here. Anger, rage, and vengeful thoughts feel better than despair, depression, and hopelessness. The key with thoughts that elicit those emotions is to see them as steps on a path to even better feeling emotions and not to act on the better-feeling thoughts that elicit those emotions. Just stabilize yourself in the more empowered emotions and then reach even higher to frustration instead of anger, to blame instead of vengeance. The more empowered a thought is, the better it will feel.

Although this explanation is long, it is not complete because there are nuances that really help a person develop the skills to become more naturally positively focused. True Prevention—Optimum Health: Remember Galileo provides many of those nuances as well as techniques that help individuals develop the skills. I also teach classes around the world, in person and online, to help individuals develop the skills that lead to greater positivity and sustainable happiness.

The only real way to understand these skills is to use them yourself and feel their resonance. Just as you cannot imagine precisely what it is like to play a violin if you’ve never held one in your hands, these skills are best proved to yourself by yourself by using them and paying attention to how you feel.

Children Can Thrive. Help Them. Learn How.

Children Can Thrive

Let’s focus on the solutions

  It is interesting to note the arguments back and forth about why some students do not thrive.

 Some stating it is the teachers fault if a student does not thrive.

 Some stating it is the lack of an interested adult in the home.

 Let’s get to the root of it. Either could make a huge beneficial difference.

 The true reason many students do not thrive is that they have developed beliefs that they cannot, or that their actions do not matter “Learned Helplessness”, or they have been told often enough that they are ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ or other lies. They have been labeled and are living up to the expectations put upon them. They have been judged as lacking and are living up to those expectations.

 Going backwards and trying to uncover where it originated is a waste of time and effort.

 Where time and effort belongs is in helping students understand that their actions do matter – that their life is not determined by their current circumstances.

 That others opinions do not have to be their own opinion. Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right”. Unfortunately we have ill informed parents and others who will label children and then the child begins to believe the label and perform to that standard.

 Society also does not understand that the happier you are the more intelligent you are. I know many are going to scoff at this statement but read further. Have you, or someone you know, ever been so stressed that you literally could not think?  Perhaps you put your head in your hands and said “Give me a moment, I can’t think”?  There is an example of an individual at a low emotional place not being as intelligent. Intelligence, creativity, and resilience exist along a continuum and increase in step with increases in happiness, positive emotions, optimism and positive expectation. There is a great deal of science behind this statement. Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.’s (UNC – Chapel Hill) book, Positivity, is probably the easiest read on the topic.

 Much of the world views happiness as a fluffy topic and as something that will come after a goal is achieved or as a transitory thing that feels good for a day.

 The happiness I am describing is defined as that deep sense of inner stability, peace, well-being, and vitality that is consistent and sustainable. It is not dependent upon circumstances but upon beliefs, expectations, emotions, and focus. Mindset is powerful.

 Not only does happiness contribute beneficially to the ability to learn but to health, relationships, and success. There are even studies showing that it has a positive impact on reducing crime, alcohol and drug abuse and even teen pregnancy.

 Right now the research on this topic is scattered across many silo’d fields including positive psychology, neuroscience, behavioral theory, sociology, quantum physics, resilience, emotional intelligence and more.

 I have a passion for the topic and have been researching it for years. I have never cared which field had relevant research which has resulted in a connection of the dots in a way that brings the knowledge being gained in many fields together.

 Using techniques to empower students, to help them achieve a positive expectation and focus and ensuring they have skills to bring themselves back to that point if they get a bit off path would make such a tremendous positive impact on their lives and future potential.

What are the real basics?

What are the real basics?

Reading, writing, and arithmetic is what most people think of when they hear ‘back to basics’ in education.

Like many things, the common belief about something is often an unexamined belief that was formed and accepted by many others without giving it real thought.

Are these subjects really the basis of creating citizens who will contribute to society in the future?

I am not saying that these subjects are not important but are they the most important contributing factors to becoming successful adults?

What do I mean by successful adults?  Let me define that first. A successful adult, according to my definition, is an individual who is self-sufficient and contributes positively to others and society. Self-sufficient encompasses self-motivation. Contributes to others and society means their actions are beneficial beyond their self interests.

For example, having a job or running a business creates a contribution to others. As an employee, there are typically many contributions including to the employer, customers, co-workers as well as your family (by supporting yourself and possibly your family), and society (by being a contributing taxpayer). Contributions can extend well beyond these examples, but these basic ones are pretty universal.

Self-sufficient does not mean an individual who does not establish and maintain connections to others. Symbiotic relationships are healthy and increase the ability of an individual to be successful.

Are there factors that are more basic than reading, writing, and arithmetic?

I believe there are.

For many years, there has been a push to help children develop self-esteem. Many of these programs have not understood the nature of self-esteem and how it is really developed.

Not having an opportunity to fail or loose is a grave disservice to children. It is far more important to have those experiences and learn that failure is another name for a learning opportunity. Losing is an opportunity to learn that life does not end because you did not win today. In fact, learning to rise up again after losing and that losing can actually prepare you for greater success than you would have ever experienced if you had never lost develops resilience.

Another problem with using contrived self esteem builders is that children are not stupid. They can tell when someone really means a compliment and when they are saying it just to try to make them feel better. Think about it. They can read the truth. If someone feeds you a line to ‘build you up’ and you know they have made it up could you not think “there must not be anything true that is good enough to say so he/she has to make up something”. While not every child would have this thought process, some would. For those children such actions are especially detrimental. What happened to “Honesty is the best policy”?  Where did we loose sight of that?

If I had a magic wand I would stop all the false self esteem building that goes on everywhere, in schools, homes, on the sports field, and in work places. Most of communication is non-verbal and most people know on some level whether the person offering the compliment is being honest. They may not read it clearly but it will feel “off” on some level.

False compliments teach children that the person offering the compliment cannot be trusted.

True self esteem comes from understanding yourself, your own worth, from a platform of understanding that everyone has great value and worth and it is, in fact, their unique perspective that creates that value. No one else in the world perceives the world exactly as they do. It also comes from understanding that bad behavior does not make you bad. Bad behavior is a symptom of being in a negative emotional state. Individuals who are in a generally positive state of mind are not bothersome (from their behavior) to society.

In fact, building a child up by comparing to others, teaching them to rely upon a positive comparison to others does an even graver disservice. Our comparison should be “Are we growing?”, “Are we more than we were yesterday, last week, last year, last decade?”, “Am I moving in the direction of that which I want to become?”. When we teach children to gain their self-worth by comparing themselves favorably to others we are actually putting some of them in an early grave. Yes, I know this is a very bold statement. I base it upon research that shows that health, well-being, and longevity is lower when the income disparity is greater than when it is closer together combined with research about the health benefits of positivity.[i]  This is not an inherent problem with varying incomes. The problem rests with the emotional result of comparing oneself with others and deciding that you are less than another.

There are many skills and tools children can use to self manage their emotions and help themselves feel better when something makes them feel badly. They are empowering and can create a stable platform of well-being for the child.

Unfortunately, families, schools, religious institutions, and society all tend to direct the child away from their inborn guidance to less reliable outside sources. All of us are born with an emotional guidance system.[ii]  The unfounded belief that without external guidance individuals would behave poorly is partially at the root of this tendency to train our children away from their own guidance system. Again, science does not support this belief. It is clear that when individuals feel better they behave better. The socially unacceptable behaviors stem from negative emotions that individuals do not know how to improve. I am working on another paper that addresses this topic. The working title is “The Importance of Understanding Emotions”. When we train children away from following their emotional guidance system we take away their compass.

When a child does not believe they have the ability to change how he or she feels their ability to learn is diminished. Some children learn from their environment that their actions do not matter so they give up. This belief is never a truth and the belief can be changed. Changing that belief is far more important than efforts to teach the basics. In fact, this belief, in my opinion, is a factor that contributes greatly to those children who do not seem to make progress regardless of the resources sent their way. Learned helplessness must be unlearned before progress can be made. When learned helplessness is overcome the potential for post traumatic growth is tremendous.

Unfortunately, there are environments where children are told many untruths by adults in their lives. Some examples are that they are stupid, dumb, will never amount to anything, and other statements along those lines. There is some possibility of helping adults understand the impact they can have on their children (and children in their lives) with such statements but I believe the larger opportunity is to help the children understand that they do not have to define themselves by the opinions of others. They can make up their own mind about who they are and what their potential is. What the child believes will be a self fulfilling prophesy. The evidence is clear that we do not exceed our expectations.

The impact of the placebo and nocebo effect sheds some light upon the power of belief to determine outcome.

So, if we want a level playing field for children we need to empower them. We need to help them understand that they have an emotional guidance system. This system is actually highly personalized. The guidance is based upon the desires of the individual. For example, someone who wants to marry young and have children will receive different guidance than someone who wants to delay children and pursue a career or more education. Life teaches us what we prefer, often by showing us what we do not desire. Once that personal preference is determined our guidance system will guide us in the direction of our desires.

We all have what I call a “Higher Self” or an “Ideal Self”. We create this self as we live and make decisions about who we really want to be. If we are rude to someone we create a “Higher Self” that is nicer. If someone is rude to us we create a “Higher Self” that others are nicer to. This Higher or Ideal Self” calls us. The Higher Self has achieved all the dreams we have dreamed and our job is to move in the direction of the Higher Self we have created through the living of our life. The “Higher Self” is not a stagnant ‘ideal’. It is ever evolving as we experience life. The “Higher Self” is unique to each of us. No two of us want the same exact things although there are many commonalities.

Our guidance provides us positive feedback in the form of better feeling emotions when we are moving in the direction of our Higher Self and negative emotions when we are moving away from our Higher Self. The Higher Self represents your best current potential. That includes your best behavior. So you see, if children understand how to listen to and understand their emotional guidance they will always move in the direction of becoming more. Many of us do this anyway because even when we do not understand we have guidance the guidance has a strong influence. It is just a far straighter line towards where we want to go when we understand and consciously follow our emotional guidance.

We are born with the innate tendency to move in the direction that feels best. It is when you have conflicting information that things become confusing. For example, take a teenager who feels love for another but that person does not, for some reason, satisfy the parents’ standards. Now the teenager, who does not know he or she has guidance, is trying to please the parents, trying to please this person he or she loves, and being called by the guidance. This creates conflicting feelings. If the teen and the parents understood that the emotional guidance system always called you towards your best potential self, I mean really understood this and trusted it (the way they would if they understood they also had guidance and that it was reliable and trustworthy), they could trust the teenager to follow the guidance. In fact, if the parents would check in with their own guidance they would feel that the better feeling place is allowing the teenager to decide. The angst they feel at the person they have judged as inappropriate in some way is because they are moving in the opposite direction of their own Higher Self when they make that judgment. Their own guidance system is wise enough to know that their child has his or her own guidance and that the guidance the child receives from the internal system is more reliable than their guidance. This is a huge hurdle for many to overcome. Most believe the child requires our guidance. Social institutions have inserted themselves between individuals and their emotional guidance. A parent can learn to trust that his or her child has guidance and accordingly. When this is done the relationship between parent and child becomes so much more loving.

Science has already shown that cognitive ability, creativity, resilience, and success increase along a continuum with increased positivity. Likewise, self mastery and emotional intelligence would be increased with an understanding of the emotional guidance system. Science has also shown that many social problems are positively impacted by increased positivity including reductions in crime, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse.

Our emotional guidance system guides us to better feeling emotional states and provides unfailingly accurate answers to what would feel better for us.

Helping children understand their own emotional guidance system and that with an understanding of the system they will be guided to whatever they decide is best for themselves. The system does not care if someone else has said the child “can’t”, as long as the child believes in his or her own ability the system provides guidance.

There is another factor that comes into the mix and that is the filters in the brain each of us have. Each of us has a brain that is programmed and our brains are good at following our individual programming. Our beliefs form part of the programming system. Problems arise if the child comes to believe that he or she “can’t”, can’t read, can’t learn, can’t survive, can’t be successful, can’t amount to anything, the filter will take that belief into consideration. The emotional guidance system will be wiser than this programming. It will give clues by making such thoughts feel awful while thoughts of “I can” will feel better. A child who has had one or more experiences that have created an “I can’t” belief can overcome this belief by understanding the emotional guidance system and how to read it and then checking this belief against the response from the emotional guidance system.

“I can’t” beliefs belong to a class of beliefs called “Limiting Beliefs”. The child (or adult) will not generally check a limiting belief against the guidance system by asking the right question because of the brain filtering process. This is an area where a little help and guidance from social institutions would be very worthwhile. Upon noticing that a child (or anyone) makes comments such as “I can’t” or “I want to but” encouraging the child who understands their emotional guidance system, its accuracy and utter trustworthiness to check in with their own guidance as to the truth of the “I can’t” or the “but statement” the child will quickly have irrefutable evidence that their guidance says otherwise.

Teaching a child to follow his or her own guidance is pretty simple. It is as simple as the children’s game you may remember playing. It was a game that could be played almost anywhere. An object would be hidden and someone else look for it. The person who knew the location would say “You’re getting warmer” if you were getting closer to the object and “You’re getting colder” if you were moving away.

Emotional guidance works the same way. While it does feel different to move from despair to anger than from anger to frustration or from hope to joy each of these steps is a step in the right direction, each is “Getting warmer”. The common aspect is that the feeling of relief (a releasing of tension or stress) is felt in each of these steps. The emotion that is in the warmer direction always feels better than the one that is further away.

Emotions come to us in response to our thoughts. If I think about something pleasing (past, present, or future) I will have positive emotional guidance. If I think about something unpleasant (past, present, or future) I will have an emotional response that feels worse. I can think about someone or something and focus upon an aspect that feels good or a different aspect that feels bad. My guidance tells me which is more like my Higher Self by giving emotional feedback.

It is not difficult for a child, even a young child, given information about his or her emotional guidance system to check it out for his or herself. Asking questions about what feels better will elicit answers.

Unfortunately, I did not know about the emotional guidance system when my children were young so I taught them to rely upon my guidance (which was also not always based on listening to my emotional guidance system). But today when one of my young adult children ask me “Should I do __________” my response is to direct them back to their guidance. “How does the thought of doing that feel?”   “How does the thought of not doing that feel?”   I have found I also have to give them permission to put their guidance ahead of other considerations. For example, my youngest daughters friends wanted to go to a club. She asked me if she should go. I asked her what her guidance said and she said it felt better not to go. Then she said “But my friends want me to go”. She was wanting to take into consideration that external guidance (what her friends wanted).

I explained to her that her emotional guidance system knows all her goals and desires including her desire to be friends with these individuals. Her guidance would take all her priorities into consideration when providing the guidance. She was getting a clear “Don’t go”. Her guidance knew her friends were not going to stop being her friend just because she chose not to participate in this one activity with them. Her brain could have created all sorts of false fears and worries of how they would react but her guidance KNEW that it was not only fine but best for her long term goals and desires not to go.

I encourage you not to take my word about this emotional guidance system. You have your own. Begin asking yourself “What feels better?”. Begin listening and see what it is telling you. Begin following it on little things and build your trust. It takes much more for an adult who has been trained to listen only to the brain to begin to trust this emotional guidance system than it does for a child.

Children are born listening to their emotional guidance. How do you think they so quickly go from crying to laughing when tears are still wet on their face?  Their guidance calls them and they listen. But children are not here long when we begin telling them to listen to outside guidance. Listening to these others is not very harmful if they are following their own guidance and in good emotional places (other than it teaches them not to listen to their own guidance which is very life-limiting) but most of the time that is not the case. Sometimes it is far from the situation. It also teaches them to take their cues as to their worth and value from outside sources, sources that may have a much lower view of their potential than their emotional guidance system KNOWS. As they begin accepting a view of their worth that comes from outside themselves they become vulnerable. If those around them hold them in high regard things can go well. But if those around them tell them they are not smart and they do not know how to check this statement against their own guidance they may begin believing that this other person is right.

Think of the utter empowerment of the child who understands his or her own emotional guidance and understands that good behavior is found in good feeling emotional states and poor behavior is found in lower emotional states. This wise child is told by another student “You’re stupid”. The wise child can, if he has any concern at all about the validity of this statement use his guidance to check on it. Checking is as simple as asking “Does it feel better to believe I am stupid”? or “Does it feel better to believe I am smart”?  A child that has learned the trustworthiness of his emotional guidance system will immediately know that the statement is not accurate. There will be no reason to dwell on it, no reason to ruminate upon it, and certainly no reason to adopt it as his own belief and make it into a self-fulfilling fantasy.

But let’s look further. This child has also been taught about the relationship between emotional state and behavior. What will the child equipped with this knowledge know?  The child will know that the child who made this comment is not in a good emotional place. Now, the child who was called the name will not have gone to a negative mindset because of the name calling because he had a quick, easy, and accurate way not to take it personally. To, in fact, KNOW it was not personal because it was not a true statement about their person. But the child knows that the other child would not have said that from a good feeling state. Could that child then feel empathy for the child who lashed out from a negative state, enough empathy to do something to try to help that other child move to a better feeling state?  I believe a child equipped with this knowledge not only could but often would.

  • It is a fact that we have an emotional guidance system (EGS).
  • It is a fact that we behave better when we are in better emotional states.
  • It is a fact that our EGS always guides us to better feeling states.

Sometimes, in this paper, I use KNOW and KNEW in all caps. This is to highlight the fact that KNOWing is a sense. A sense an individual can read as accurately as what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. In fact, a developed ability to read ones EGS is the most accurate sense we have. The other senses are more colored by the filters in the brain which can alter perception.

There is one more false premise I want to address before I conclude this paper. The belief that our inherent nature is competitive is false. Our inherent nature is cooperative and when we follow our guidance we are very cooperative, especially when we reach and often maintain high emotional states of well-being.

Our bodies are made of 70 trillion or so cells, all of which cooperate beautifully together. There is mounting scientific evidence of our connection with all others. When attempts are made at the quantum physics level to study separate entities they find we are all connected at that level. Only at the level of our natural sight are we perceived as separate.

Your EGS is aware of this connection and of the deep rooted desire to cooperate and live harmoniously with others.

In conclusion, helping children understand their own emotional guidance system and the impact of emotional state on behavior would create a platform that would facilitate an excellent learning environment. It would mitigate the impact of negative home environments to a great degree. In my opinion, this is the most important basic of basics.

I could write entire books about the positive changes that would be brought about by this approach. For example, teenagers tend to put great stake in their friends’ opinions. (By the way, this is because we taught them to look outside themselves for guidance when they were young.)  We have the choice to teach them that it is their choice whether they buy into another s opinion of them or form their own. We can teach them that they can be anything they want to be if they believe in themselves but if they do not believe in themselves they will be only what they believe they can be.

By teaching them to put less emphasis on negative outside input and to be kind to themselves with their own internal conversations they can be in a better feeling place. If they know their emotions are their own personal guidance, how to read it and listen to it, outside influences that are in the opposite direction of their Higher Self will be minimized. If we do this at a young age by 9th grade they will be doing so well dropping out won’t even be on their radar.

Note:  The science that demonstrates that emotions are a sense (like taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing) has newly been put together by Katherine Peil based on solid research conducted by many others in many fields (10 pages of citations). She connected the dots and saw clearly what others had either failed to see or were not brave enough to report. There is a saying that science moves forward by funeral because old ideas and paradigms are clung to for the sake of having been right. I commend her for her bravery in publishing these very important results and appreciate to the core of my being her willingness to do so because, having known about and understood this emotional guidance system for quite some time, I have contemplated the benefits society could reap if many others understood it.

There are those who have KNOWN and understood this emotional guidance system for a long time and understand how perfect it is and how beneficial it is when followed.

Recently there was a movie called Limitless. The basic story line was that someone developed a pill that, when taken, allowed the brain to function more fully. Following the emotional guidance system has results similar to those in the movie without the need for a pill.

Let’s get the real basics in place.

© Jeanine Broderick, 2012


[i]  The research has been clear. It is not that the lower incomes have too few resources. This has been determined by looking at research subjects in areas with less income diversity, same cost of living, and looking at the lower end of the income. For example, in an area where incomes are between 50,000 – 60,000 (fairly close) the longevity is about the same. In another area where incomes range between 50,000 – 120,000 with the same cost of living those near the lower end of income have worse health, well-being and even higher mortality (worse than that of the ones with the same income in an area with less disparate incomes). It is the adverse comparison of self to others that creates the negative emotions that contributes to the lower level of health. Positive emotions, optimism, and happiness are linked to a 50% risk reduction in cardiovascular disease and benefits against many other diseases. Essentially, by negatively comparing themselves to others they bring on their own negative emotions, which then creates the lack of well-being.

[ii] Peil, K. T., Emotion: A Self-regulatory Sense, published in Biophysical Psychological Review, 2012, (Northeastern University; Harvard Divinity School; EFS International)

Are You Passionate About the Well-being of Your Family?

Are you passionate about the well-being of your family?

If you are you will want to know about the research results that are slowly (too slowly in my opinion based on their importance) making their way out of the scientific research facilities and into the knowledge bank of both scientists and non-scientists in other fields.

The new research points the way to improved health, well-being, relationships, emotional intelligence, creativity, cognitive ability, decision-making, resilience, immune system function, depression. as well as reductions in racism, substance abuse, crime, teen pregnancy, and other social concerns.

One thing that can improve your relationships, your health, and your success?

One would think this information would be shouted from the rooftops.

The science is very solid. The proof is in.

Why isn’t it being talked about on every channel?  I don’t know.

Science, I have learned, typically progresses slowly in adopting new ideas and beliefs.

Although they don’t tend to chop off their heads for radical new ideas these days the fear instilled about moving too far away from the norm is not far from that which a potential separation from ones head would invoke. New research in one field often takes years to reach professionals in other fields. There is a saying “Science progresses one funeral at a time.” — Max Planck

Many people are under the misconception that current scientific theories come to prominence in science because the new discoveries changed the minds of the old guard through proofs and experimentation. Closer to the truth is that, proof and experimentation changed the minds of younger scientists, and only when old guards die off, the new theories rise to take their place and make prominent the new theory. This is true even when the old beliefs are proven clearly false. Much of the progress we see (for example, advances in medical advances), comes not from science but from business building on science.

When actions can affect human well-being or change the world, that pace is entirely too slow. The information that has come to light can literally improve health and well-being significantly,  reduce crime, reduce racism, reduce substance abuse, reduce teen pregnancy and, it is my belief that it is the path to peace.

When evidence from different scientific disciplines is combined the science is solid and compelling.

Positive emotions, optimism, and happiness provide these benefits and much more.

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

Science has even shown that pessimists can become more optimistic and our own level of positive emotions is within our control.

All it takes is a little knowledge and a few skills to manage your emotions to a place where you can benefit from increased positive emotions, optimism, and happiness.

New research from Harvard even shows us why the benefits of positivity are so great. Our bodies were not designed to tolerate negative emotions for long periods of time. We were designed to respond to negative emotions the way we respond to other sensory input, by making changes to make things more comfortable for us. We do not leave our hands on a burning stove and ignore the pain. Neither should we ignore negative emotions. We are supposed to feel good most of the time. The research is available at

In addition to the typical flight and fight responses we all know about there is something called a “Right Response” (RR) described in this scientific paper that is most appropriate to most situations humans encounter in their day-to-day lives. Learning how to use RRs provides a level of self-mastery over ones emotions that is followed by thriving.

Positivity has a better impact on longevity than whether an individual smokes or not. How passionate are you about making sure your children do not take up this habit?  If you put that much passion into helping them develop skill at RRs you will benefit them far more and they are more likely to make good decisions including the decision not to take up that habit.

Classes that teach Right Responses are available. See our website for details.

© Jeanine Joy, 2012-2014

President, Happiness 1st Institute

Empty Nest Getting You Down?

Empty Nest Getting You Down?

Enjoy It Instead.

There is so much to enjoy and appreciate about being an empty nester.

My daughters come and go right now. One finished college a year ago and is now pursuing her dream of being a massage therapist attending school in Sedona, AZ which is 2,000 miles away. She wanted to be a massage therapist before college but she did college to please me and was four hours away then.

My other daughter is away at college in her 1st senior year. She changed majors this Autumn so she will have more than one senior year.

When they first went away I soothed myself with the knowledge that I did my best to raise them to make good decisions and be good people (according to my definition of good). I had to trust that the work I had done was enough. I knew that I had not always been perfect (far from it many times) but that even that prepared them to go forth and thrive.

I also find that I enjoy them and their blossoming so much more because I do not hold up an idea of who I want them to be and compare who they are to that idea. Instead I look at them and look at their positive attributes. In this way I see so much potential and am sometimes overwhelmed at how well they do when I let go. In fact, I have seen that they do better than I would have encouraged them to do – by following their own dreams and passions.

Trust. Trust that you have done your job. Trust that they know you are always there and will always love them – even after you depart your body that love will be there to strengthen and uplift them.

As my daughters became young ladies I began giving myself the freedom to pursue my own passions so by the time they left I was absorbed in my own pursuit of understanding how to help humans thrive. This had a double benefit. I know my children have benefited from the knowledge I gained along this path and the example I have set. It also gave me an entire world to love, appreciate and uplift.

I look forward to the unfolding of the future. I hope for grandchildren but not too soon but also know that I can find “grand babies to love, spoil and return” anywhere so I do not feel a need to pressure my daughters into having children. Their choices are theirs to make. There is no need to please or satisfy Mom.

There are things you can do, such as keep a journal where you express your love of them. You can give them these or keep them for them to find eventually and what a gift that would be.

You have 24 hours every day. In those 24 you sleep about 8. In the 16 remaining you have choices about what to focus upon. When you think of your children you can think about their absence or about their thriving. You get to decide. One feels better and the other not so good. Why would you choose to feel less than you could?

Be kind to yourself. Read books you have wanted to read. Eat what you want to eat instead of catering to varied desires of children with vastly different food tastes (mine were born to be opposites). Take long walks. Take bubble baths. Nurture friendships with others who are positively focused.

Although dogs and cats are wonderful unless you have no desire to travel or a readily available pet sitter I do not recommend getting a pet at this stage.

Since my girls left for college I have been to Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Alaska, a Panama Canal cruise, Barcelona, Venice, a Mediterranean cruise, several Caribbean cruises, Cabo San Lucas and many other trips. I love to travel and have developed friendships around the world since my children went to college. My youngest has her dog at home with me and arranging care of her when I travel keeps me home more than I would be if she was not a consideration.

You can be a great Mom or Dad and not suffer at their doing the natural thing – growing up and being on their own.

I look forward to a future when they come for visits with their partners and their children and think about how I want those times to be. In fact, I make decisions based on maintaining the great relationships I have with them to facilitate that future vision. The new home I am planning considers their comfort on visits – not only theirs – but sufficient privacy so that a partner will feel comfortable having a nice long visit and so that grandchildren will have enough freedom in Grandma’s house to feel welcome and comfortable yet allow me to have a home with adult treasures.

Make a list of things that feel good when you think about them. If you find yourself dwelling on the absence of your children pull out the list and re-direct your thoughts to something that feels better. In time this will develop a new habit of thought and you will no longer have to consciously make that effort. If you are consistent three months should be more than adequate. But, you will feel better in minutes – as soon as you re-direct your thoughts. It is the habit that takes time – don’t worry about the long-term – just take steps to feel better in the short-term and the long-term will take care of itself. One day you will realize it has been ages since you had  unhappy-feeling thoughts about your children growing up.

If you are finding this transition less than enjoyable contact us. The same journey can be heaven for one and hell for another – their perspective makes the difference. Our programs are designed to make the journey not only more enjoyable but understandable. The journey to a better-feeling outlook can be easier than you’ve ever imagined and its very nature will strengthen your relationships.

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

You can enjoy your life at any stage.

Please consider sharing this with your friends and family. You never know who you may help by passing it on. It is a random act of kindness that can ripple outward and bring humanity one step closer to peace.

Comments are welcome

Senseless Tragedies: Prevention

Corporate wellness

Root Cause of Senseless Tragedies

Prevention: One person at a time


This publication represents the first installment in Happiness 1st Institute’s series of White Papers on the importance of understanding emotions. The papers in the series are intended to offer plain-English descriptions of the foundational elements of the importance of understanding emotions, as well as insights and practical steps you may consider for incorporating the concepts within your own organization or life. In the following pages, you will find a discussion of concepts necessary for understanding emotions an integral part of managing their impact. We believe application of these concepts will help create what we consider the epitome of enlightened emotional management.

The subject was the focus of my thesis and my later book based on my thesis, Is Punishment Ethical? We have the ability to stop crimes before they occur, before anyone suffers because of them and before someone irrevocably changes their life into one where they will be incarcerated. Why aren’t we doing it? Let’s do it. Step 1: Learn about the solution until you see it as clearly as I see it.

Keep in mind that the application of these concepts is new information for most. The study of human thriving is a relatively new area for scientific discoveries as prior efforts focused more upon decreasing the impact of problems instead of enhancing potential. This addresses the root cause of many unwanted things by creating an environment of thriving in which those undesired elements cannot flourish. Most current programs – for health, mental health, societal problems, relationship problems are directed at treating symptoms. This is directed at the root cause.

Open communication is a key characteristic of a educating others on these concepts. Consider sharing this whitepaper with other executives, board members, and key managers in your organization as well as important people in your life and the lives of your children. The new understanding of emotions has the potential to beneficially impact the world. The more information that is shared the faster those benefits can be enjoyed by people around the world.

When actions can affect human well-being or change the world, it’s not business as usual. New research in one field often takes years to reach professionals in other fields. The information about emotions coming out of may areas of science have the potential to positively impact health and well-being around the world, as well as many social issues including substance abuse, teen pregnancy, crime, recidivism rates, productivity, divorce rates and depression. We believe it is contains the keys to peace.

The issues and concepts outlined herein should provide an excellent starting point for a crucial dialogue on enhancing your organization’s understanding of emotions. For additional information, visit

We are available to provide classes, private consultations as well as coaching services and collaboration with schools, prisons and non-profits.

LabelsMohawk Boy with Aerosol Can

Humans label by characteristics, behavior, and appearance. We then apply judgments based upon the labels we assign to others and ourselves.


Labels save time and help us navigate life but they can also greatly diminish outcomes.

Individual behavior varies largely due to the current emotional state of the individual. When we judge based on behavior without an understanding of the impact of emotional state on behaviors, individuals at lower emotional states tend to be judged harshly and their potential greatly underestimated.

For example, the same individual feeling despair would not respond to the same situation the way he or she would when happy.
Impact of Emotional State

In order to see the true potential in others the link between emotional state and behavior must be understood and considered during our interactions.

An individuals current emotional state has significant impacts on all of the following:

·         Behavior ·         Intelligence ·         Emotional Intelligence
·         Health ·         Well-being ·         Resilience
·         Relationships ·         Motivation ·         Creativity
·         Decisions (including lifestyle, i.e., diet, exercise, alcohol, drugs, and risky behavior)


In general, you can assume that someone behaving in undesirable ways has negative emotions that have not been responded to in of the three constructive methods.

The best response to most negative emotion in modern society involves ‘Right Responses[A] (RRs). This involves some action or a deliberate and conscious change in mindscape.

Emotions provide information to guide us. The other two appropriate responses are Fight (non-violent assertive resistance) or Flight. Suppressing or denying emotions is dysfunctional and leads to many other problems.

Ignoring a negative emotion is just as unhealthy as putting your hand on a hot stove and leaving it there to burn while ignoring the pain inflicted. Pain is information that tells us to take some action. Likewise, emotions are guidance that helps us recognize unhealthy thoughts or circumstances.

If we are judging an unhappy person based upon their behavior we are not seeing their potential. When we see their potential we are more likely to inspire them to achieve more of their potential. Potential is a terrible thing to waste.

In general, emotional states can be defined (broadly) with the following feelings:

Emotional Guidance Scale (EGSc)

Sweet Zone

·         Joy ·         Appreciation ·         Freedom
·         Empowered ·         Love ·         Awe
·         Passion ·         Enthusiasm ·         Eagerness
·         Happy ·         Positive Expectation ·         Belief
·         Inspired ·         Trust ·         Faith
·         Optimism ·         Serenity ·         Satisfaction
·         Fulfilled

Hopeful Zone

·         Hopefulness ·         Gratitude

Blah Zone

·         Contentment ·         Boredom ·         Pessimism
·         Apathy

Drama Zone

·         Frustration ·         Irritation ·         Impatience
·         Overwhelmed ·         Disappointment

Give Away Zone

·         Doubt ·         Worry ·         Blame
·         Guilt ·         Discouragement

Hot (Red) Zone

·         Anger ·         Revenge

Powerless Zone

·         Hatred ·         Rage ·         Jealousy
·         Insecurity ·         Fear ·         Unworthiness
·         Grief ·         Depression ·         Despair
·         Powerlessness ·         Learned Helplessness ·         Guardedness
·         Hopelessness


Emotions and Thoughts

Emotions are the response to thoughts. This fact is easily demonstrated by taking someone through a guided visualization of scenes designed to elicit emotions. As the scene changes the emotional state changes.

There are actually three levels of emotions. The most basic are felt below conscious thought. For example, if the hairs on the back of your neck stand up because of a danger you have not yet consciously been aware of that is the most basic level.

The second level consists of simple emotions that come in response to actual thoughts. For example, fear is one such emotion.

The third level is also emotions that come as the result of conscious thoughts but the thoughts are more complex, the responses are not necessarily inborn responses but trained by external third parties (parents, church, society, teachers, etc.). For example, shame. A baby and small child have no shame about their body when they are naked. This emotion is taught by third parties and would be considered a complex emotion.

Emotions are information that we are designed to be acted upon. When third party imposed negative emotions do not provide a path to better feeling emotions they set the stage for all sorts of problems including behavioral, emotional (See DSM), and health. We were not designed to suffer negative emotions on a long-term basis and when we endure them we do suffer.

Emotional Set Points

Emotional set points impact how an individual will feel in response to stimulus. For example, someone who is experiencing a lot of frustration will find more things that are frustrating in new circumstances and a person with a generally hopeful attitude will notice aspects they find generally hopeful in new situations.

Reticular Activating System (RAS)

The emotional set point is assisted by the Reticular Activating System (RAS) Filter in their brain. The RAS  Filter sifts external input based on filters such as:

  1. Beliefs held by the individual
  2. Expectations of the individual
  3. Emotional set points of the individual[B]
  4. Focus of the individual

This filter only passes some information to the conscious brain and filters out a great deal of information that our senses record. This is beneficial because otherwise we would be overloaded with too much information.

However, the filters have often been programmed in ways that do not serve the individual well.

Beliefs & Limiting Beliefs

For example, if someone has a limiting belief the filter will keep information from passing to their conscious brain, thus, their ability to overcome the limiting belief is blocked or minimized.

Many individuals RAS filters are impacted by a belief that their actions will not make a difference. This condition has been termed “Learned Helplessness.” Individuals with this condition will not take actions that others (who do not hold the same limiting belief) clearly see would make a difference for the better in their life experience. They literally don’t see some beneficial actions as possibilities because their filter holds back the information. Even if they see the actions as possible their RAS filter does not allow them to imagine the potential benefits of the positive actions the way someone in a more hopeful mindset could. The RAS filter does not allow the information that conflicts with the current beliefs, expectations, and emotional set point to flow to the conscious mind. The filter does not do this out of malice or because the person lacks worthiness or societal value. The RAS filter is unbiased in that way. The belief that their actions will not make a difference results in the filter not placing opportunities (or their potential beneficial outcomes) in their conscious mind.

Learned Helplessness can apply to life in general or to a specific subject or subjects. For example, someone who does well in one area may feel paralyzed in another . This indicates that on that topic they have developed a belief that their actions will not matter.

The detrimental impact of learned helplessness are often seen in long-term poverty, addictions, and remaining in dangerous relationships.

Learned Helplessness is an example of being at the lowest end of the Emotional Guidance Scale. This belief can be changed. When the belief changes the individual will begin seeing the opportunities. The potential for positive change is amazing.

There are as many limiting beliefs as there are individuals. The best way to overcome them is to decide what beliefs would serve you best, not to try to figure out what beliefs may be limiting to you.

The filtering effect results in your conscious mind not receiving information that contradicts your beliefs so it is difficult for you to identify your own limiting beliefs. Reading inspiring books such as “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz or “Unlimited Power” by Anthony Robbins can help identify beliefs that could be beneficial to positive motion forward. A contemporary book that is good is “Infinite Possibilities” by Mike Dooley.

Another technique is to write about your life and then ask someone else to read what you have written and help you identify limiting beliefs.

One key to identifying limiting beliefs is to look for statements with “but”. I want to, “but”, followed by some reason the individual believes he or she is limited and cannot do as desired.

Many people will argue for their limitations quite vehemently. It is best not to point out limiting beliefs unless someone is asking as they will just take a stronger position in defense of what their life has shown them to be true. If they do not understand the role of their RAS filter they won’t understand why they see so much evidence supporting their position even though their position is only true for them because of their belief. Those with different beliefs have different experiences.


Expectations will also impact what the RAS filter allows through to the conscious mind. This has a tremendous impact on perception of others. For example, if one has formed a negative impression of an individual, he will expect to see behaviors that reflect his negative impression. It will be difficult for him to see progress, especially in the initial stages of change.

Perhaps the best advantage of understanding that our expectations color how we see others is that, once we understand this, we can see people clearly. Instead of seeing people as colored by our previous experience, we allow ourselves to develop new expectations and we will be able to see others in a different light.

If you have defined someone or something (to yourself) by their potential, your expectation (filter) will look for evidence of becoming more of who they can be. Whereas, if you have defined them (to yourself) as someone with bad behavior your filter will look for further evidence of bad behavior and ignore improvements or change.

Emotional Set Points

The emotional set point of the individual will impact what gets through the RAS filter. The filter trusts that you are intelligent and deliberately determining your focus. So, in essence, if you are frustrated often (by traffic, by co-workers, by your family, friends, and house, by spilling the coffee or tripping on something, etc.) your filter says “Oh, she/he wants to feel frustration. Look here …. here is something else that is frustrating. Oh, and look here, this is also frustrating.”  Again, there is no malice. Your filter assumes you understand that you get more of what you focus upon.

Let’s take an example of this. Two individuals can go to the same restaurant, have exactly the same food, prepared in the same way to their specifications, even sit in the same place and have the same server. One who has been focused on enjoying life can have a wonderful time. The one who has been predominately frustrated will find things about the experience that are frustrating that the individual focused on enjoying life does not see (because their filter does not highlight the things that are frustrating).

The ‘big deals’ will still show up. This is not about burying ones head in the sand. It is about, however, having a positive bias on life. When you expect things to go well your filter will show you evidence of things going well. Is it a ‘big deal’ if your waitress takes two extra minutes to refill your water glass?  If your focus is on enjoying life you may not even notice until she is there pouring the refreshing water – you will notice in time to thank her. If you are living in frustration you will notice that your water glass is getting low and as soon as it is empty you will feel frustration that it has not been replenished.

This is just an overview of how the various factors impact the filter.

Emotional State – Impact on Behavior

When you understand that higher emotional states equate to more desirable behaviors you will understand the importance of focusing upon helping the person move to higher and higher emotional states. Punishments tend to keep people at low emotional states and progress is very slow, if it happens at all. Helping someone with undesirable behavior feel better goes against what almost everyone has been taught from a young age. On the other hand, when you look at how things really unfold you will understand that this is the only path to permanent improvement and I will even say, eradication of much of the socially unacceptable behaviors (in time when this is understood by the masses).

Regrets & Self-criticism

Often the greatest punishments come in the form of negative self-talk.

While it is good to have a conscious about our own behaviors,  understanding that we re-create ourselves throughout life and being self-critical about past mistakes just keeps us from moving forward.

When I encounter someone who has deep regret over a past decision I often ask them “If you were in that situation right now would you make the same decision?”. The answer is frequently an adamant “no!”.


My response is then “Clearly you are no longer the same person who made that decision/mistake. Why punish your current self for who you used to be?  The person you are today would not do that action so why punish the person you are today?”

I believe fully understanding this not only provides relief from self condemnation but inspires others to want to continue forward motion and become even more.

Although it is a subject for another paper, long-term guilt and regret have negative health consequences.

“Higher” or “Ideal Self”

We all have a “Higher Self” or an “Ideal Self”. We create this self as we live and make decisions about who we really want to be. If we are mean to someone we create a “Higher Self” that is nicer. If someone is mean to us we create a “Higher Self” that others are nicer to. This Higher or Ideal Self” calls us. The Higher Self has achieved all the dreams we have dreamed and our job is to move in the direction of the Higher Self we have created through the living of our life. The “Higher Self” is not a stagnant ‘ideal’. It is ever evolving as we experience life. The “Higher Self” is unique to each of us. No two of us want the same exact things although there are many commonalities.

This differences in individual desires is another area where greater understanding would serve us well. We perceive the actions of others through our own lenses. If our dream is to be married to the same partner for 50+ years we may not be able to understand the perspective of another who chooses not to marry. Understanding that we each have unique desires and perspectives and that this is a wonderful thing would help not only personal relationships but national relationships. We can desire what we desire (we actually can’t help but desire what we desire) because our life has shown us that is what we believe is best for us. However, when you look for someone else to validate your desires and dreams you are asking if your desire and or dreams satisfies their perspectives which really have nothing to do with your own.

Where we are the same is that the higher we get on the EGS the better our behaviors become from the perspective of treating others well.

Violent criminals sometimes appear happy at their own actions but what is being witnessed is a sense of relief they feel in moving up the scale from somewhere in the vicinity of despair (which feels totally powerless) to somewhere like revenge where some of their power has been taken back. Their seemingly positive emotions are not joy, appreciation, or love. They are a sense of relief.

It is not necessary to commit violence in order to move up through the hot (red) zone and stabilize oneself at higher emotional set points. In fact, violence does not usually happen until they have tried to move up and someone or society has sent them back down, repeatedly.

It is quite possible to move up from despair and hopelessness through anger, rage, and revenge just using thoughts. Actions are not necessary to move up the scale. A guide in this process is often helpful.

It may seem that I am blaming those who have held others down or pushed them back down for their resulting violent behaviors. In actuality, I am not interested in trying to figure out who is to blame. Someone taught the person that pushed them back down beliefs that punishing them and limiting their power was the right way to act and the person who taught them learned it from another and so on back through time.

Your higher self says “Yes You Can” and you can verify this by thinking (and believing) “I can” and feel your emotional response to it. Your emotional response will feel better than it will when you think and feel “I can’t”

                         Yes, I can!

A Better World

My interest is in a better world for everyone going forward. I cannot impact or change the past but I can impact and change the future.

What is clear is what has been done in the past has not worked well for many members of the human race.

Understanding how our emotions impact our behavior and focusing on helping one another reach and sustaining ourselves at higher emotional levels will have a tremendous positive impact on the future.

Success requires that we set our intentions on the loftier goal of creating a better world and cling less to the ‘need’ to have been right in our opinions and judgments in the past.

Celebrate knowing new knowledge rather than regreting what you once did not know. Everyone has always done the best they could in the moment. Even when ‘the best in the moment’ is not good, it was the best possibility for them in that moment. Their best in other moments could be better.

There is never a time in this life when we know everything. Like children who gain new knowledge as they learn to walk, we are continuously gaining new knowledge as we live and are exposed to new concepts, ideas, experiences, and scientific discoveries. Embrace the new knowledge and leave any regrets for what you once did not know in the past. If you know enough to regret something now the person you are also knows better than that person you used to be knew. Love who you are and who you are becoming.

Benefits of Increased Positivity

When individuals reach a sustainable place in the Sweet Zone one of the first things almost everyone does is exhibit a desire for others to also enjoy that sort of emotional stability.

There are many processes to help individuals move up and to stabilize at higher emotional set points. At Happiness 1st Institute we teach over 50[C] processes to help individuals manage their own emotional set points.

We are not speaking of transient forms of happiness that are usually based upon some event, possession or other person. We are speaking of a type of happiness that provides a deep sense of inner stability, peace, well-being, and vitality that is consistent and sustainable. This sort of happiness is available to anyone who gains a greater understanding of self.

In addition to the behavioral benefits to society, there is a great deal of research that supports the benefits of happiness for individuals, their family, friends, and society in general. These include: happiness leads to greater success (Harvard Study), greater longevity (Nun study), improved health (too many studies to list – see our website for many citations and examples), better relationships of all types (again, too many studies to list), higher earnings (too many studies to list), lower crime and substance abuse[D], and increased intelligence and creativity (especially see Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.’s work and her “Broaden and Build” theory in either her research or her book, Positivity).

The type of happiness we are talking about is different. It is being who we are authentically, at our core, connected to our Higher Self and focused upon becoming as much like the Higher Self we have created as we can. This type of happiness increases resilience and gives us confidence to pursue our dreams. It does not require continual happiness but the knowledge, desire, and sureness that you can easily and quickly return to that state using skills and knowledge is always present. You are in control of you and your responses to life.

Purpose of Emotions is Guidance

Emotions are guidance. They let you know whether you are moving in the direction of becoming more like your “Higher Self” or away from who you have decided you want to be.

Think of it like the children’s game of finding a lost object where clues of ‘you’re getting warmer” or “you’re getting colder” are given and it becomes simple to follow your guidance. Positive emotions mean you are moving in the right direction and negative emotions indicate you are moving away from your goal.

Appreciate the emotions for the guidance they are.

The ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is a view of ourselves at our best having achieved our greatest (believable) potential. This ‘Ideal self’ taps our passions, our values, and our past achievements.

“A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.”

~ Marcus Aurelius

“There is nothing noble about being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”

~ Hindu Proverb

This ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is different from the ‘ought self’ that is the construct of things you believe that you should or ought to do based on expectations and requirements of others.

The ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ motivates you from within. The ‘ought’ self is using external criteria to motivate and may or may not be in alignment with your true goals.

What is the difference between your ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ and who you usually are in your day to day interactions?  The ‘gap’ has a lot to do with what you believe you are capable of being. There is always a gap because the ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is a moving target and this is a good thing. Some of the greatest athletes of all time focused on moving toward their ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ and continued to improve even when they were great. The ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ is a self-created self that is the best you can imagine being in any given moment. As long as you are moving in a direction that is closing the gap you can feel joyful.

Take the idea of the ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ and then look at the EGS. You will be able to easily see that the ‘Ideal or Higher Self’  is calling everyone up the scale. Our ‘Ideal or Higher Self’ lives at the high end of the scale, loving and appreciating.

You will also see that the higher you go on the scale the more empowered you feel. The lower you are on the scale the more powerless you feel.

When you feel more empowered you can often see many paths to your goals (which is why science has found that

individuals are more creative and intelligent when they are happier) – their filter has been set with a greater belief in their abilities. Therefore, they see more ways to achieve their goals.

When someone is held down, either by society or their own limiting beliefs the pull

to regain some of their power and to move up the scale gets larger and larger. When the only path(s) that are visible to the individual are ones that society abhors, they will take those paths if and when that pull becomes stronger than any resistance they have to those actions.

At the lower levels often the only path visible that will allow the individual to regain some of their personal power is a path that would never be chosen if they saw another path.

The above point is so important for understanding. Because of the feelings of being powerless the path(s) to regaining some power seem very limited. Perhaps they have tried repeatedly to regain some power in more acceptable ways but have not been understood so they were pushed back down. Over time this would result in a belief that those more socially acceptable paths are not the way because they did not work. As that happens repeatedly the paths that remain open become more appealing. Paths that would never have been considered if the socially acceptable paths had not been blocked begin to seem like the only option. Feelings of desperation begin to work on the individual until they become causative to  actions. They do feel relief in those actions even when the consequences can be potentially terrible.

When society begins helping individuals move from feelings of powerlessness to better feeling places, rather than pushing them back down (because they are easier to handle in depression, despair, and helplessness than in anger or revenge) we will see massive positive changes in our crime rates. Eventually we will have the nice problem of trying to figure out what to do with all the excess capacity in our incarceration facilities.

We will see thriving among those who previously were thought to have no hope. We will see the gap for those children who today still seem unable to achieve begin to close as we help them overcome learned helplessness.

We will see massive amounts of post traumatic growth. The individuals who have come from disempowered situations who learn how to manage their own place on the EGS will be huge beneficiaries of post adversarial growth. By their experiences they have created a “Higher Self” that is far greater than the one created by someone who has lived a mild life. When they understand how to move in the direction of closing the gap consistently and deliberately we will be amazed and delighted.

Emotions are literally guidance from one of our senses. The concept of ‘five senses’ is a fallacy. We have far more than five. New research from Harvard, courtesy of the brilliant mind of Katherine Peil, and ten pages of cross disciplinary scientific research cited in her paper, Emotion: A Self-regulatory Sense, demonstrates clearly that our emotions are a sense. In fact, her position is that emotion is our oldest sense and she uses molecular biology and the biophysical processes of living systems to lead us step-by-step through this idea.

Our emotions are output from a hitherto unrecognized sense. In fact, the emotional sense is present even in simple organisms. It appears the function of the basic ‘negative’ emotions are information that helps us keep our bodies safe. The function of the positive emotions is to point us toward self-development and well-being.

The difference between the simple organisms and most humans is that they actually listen to and respond to their emotional sensory output.

Humans, on the other hand, have a tendency to ignore emotions. to suppress them, and to suffer the negative consequences of doing so in lives that are not as robust as they could be.

There is no benefit to us in ignoring the output from our emotional system, it is providing information which will improve our lives if we act upon it appropriately. Ignoring output from the emotional system leads to senseless tragedies.

Ignoring negative emotional output is no different than ignoring pain from our sense of touch. We would not put our hand on a hot stove and notice that our hand was burning and leave it there to continue to burn. When we ignore or suppress negative emotions it is no less harmful to our well-being than leaving a burning hand on a hot stove.

Emotions are information designed to guide us.

Proper Response to Emotions

The best response to most negative emotion in modern society involves ‘Right Responses[E] (RRs). This involves some action or a deliberate and conscious change in mindscape.

In an early version of K. T. Peil’s paper (Global Advances in Health and Medicine, March 2014), she stats “the modern behavior toolkit includes a creative approach response as well as avoidant reactions to emotional distress. When feeling out of balance, we can take flight or fight in defense, or we can capitalize upon our neural endowments, stay in approach mode and correctively “right” the problematic agent,  Indeed, the RR should be the first choice reaction and constitute the greatest percentage of all corrective responses. But, if despite such efforts, unacceptable environmental conditions persist over time, then more assertive and aggressive (yet non-hostile) confrontational “fight” responses become appropriate, until finally a “flight” to more habitable and just environments becomes the only viable options. But whether the situation dictates a Right, Flight, or Flight response, the primary objective is to immediately identify and reduce the internal or external environmental conditions that are triggering the distress in order to self-preserve.”

Emotions are guidance and we were never designed to tolerate negative emotions for longer than it takes to complete our corrective action. That is why the many benefits of positivity are coming to light as we study positive emotions. We were designed to feel good. We were also designed to be good, which we are when we feel good.

Societal systems designed to make us feel bad and maintain that negative state are fighting against our very nature. These same systems literally create the very undesired behaviors we want to avoid.

Right Responses can be taught with knowledge and skill to become the default mode of response. Happiness 1st Institute focuses upon doing exactly that in our classes.

Morals and Values

Morals and values do have a place in the structure of things. Someone with a strong moral fiber who is repeatedly pushed to the low end of the EGS may choose options other than violence against others. Suicide is one of the options that can be more palatable to such an individual (slow or fast – in other words drugs and alcohol or those actions we currently call suicide). There are so many variations that influence the path(s) that will become acceptable and there is really no reason to analyze them extensively. Our time is much more productively spent understanding how to help individuals move up the scale where the subject of what path they would choose from a position of powerlessness is irrelevant.

Substance Abuse

In most cases, drugs and alcohol begin as a way to feel better. Individuals who know how to feel good by managing their own place on the EGS tend to drink far less. I have a large social network of such individuals and often vacation with them. Drugs and alcohol are not a big factor in our fun for the vast majority of us. We are high on life.

Drugs and alcohol are a form of self-medication. Whether addiction becomes an issue or not, learning to consciously and deliberately respond appropriately to emotional guidance can help any individual make healthier choices.

Peer Pressure

I can hear protests “What about peer pressure?”. Think about it?  Isn’t giving in to peer pressure an attempt to feel better?  To feel more accepted?  To feel a part of something more?

Emotion can affect decisions about risk-taking in all age groups, not just adolescents, the emotion doesn’t necessarily have to be triggered from the decision situation itself even, for example. if you’re angry about an argument, you might later drive too fast on the highway.[F]

Our emotions provide guidance but what has been happening for a very long time is that the children (who are born knowing how to be joyful) are taught to pay attention to pleasing others instead of following their natural guidance. Parents, teachers, ministers, and peers say “Do this so I will feel better” and because the pressure is intense they eventually begin using others as their barometer about how to behave. This is very problematic if you are trying to please more than one other person and even more problematic if one of those people is inconsistent in what pleases them.

Society has developed a belief that without external guidance our behavior would be unacceptable. Recent findings in positive psychology refute this premise. When individuals are in a positive state they exhibit not only behaviors that society requires as ‘socially acceptable’ but behaviors that go far beyond the minimums with altruism and cooperation increasing substantially when higher levels of positive emotion are present.

Helping children understand that listening to their own emotions is important. We often speak of animals having instincts and humans having intellect. We (humans) do have instincts but we are trained not to listen to them. We all have guidance coming from within and we can hear it when we quiet our minds. What most do not do is listen to it or understand how it communicates. Our minds are powerful and important but our hearts are even more intelligent. The HeartMath Institute conducted a study that showed the heart registered responses in a predictive manner, while the brain responded after the fact to the same stimuli.[G]

Our bodies have great intelligence. We often take them for granted and overlook the intelligence of our bodies. They know how to take a single cell and turn it into a full grown human. From that single cell all the other cells are formed, ones that are eyes and ones that are toe nails. They know how to take nutrients from food and nourish our cells. They know how to regain balance when many undesired elements are introduced. When we listen to our guidance we will also receive information about what our bodies are asking for to maximize our vitality.

Studies are revealing that we make healthier choices when we feel positive emotions.[H]

Make Decisions When you Feel Happy


The first step is to spread the knowledge of how to understand and use our emotional guidance systems for our own benefit and the benefit of others. This must include a deep understanding that helping those who are not behaving in acceptable ways increase their level of positive emotion is the path to their becoming productive and contributing members of society.

Pain Management

So much of medicine treats symptoms. It has been shown repeatedly and conclusively that positive emotion and optimism treat the root cause of both life threatening illnesses including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s as well as illnesses that are usually less threatening such as the common cold and flu.

Positive emotion can also have an immediate impact on pain. Someone who has chronic pain that comes and goes will notice, if they pay attention, that when their emotions are more pleasant their pain decreases. The opposite is also true, the worse the emotional state, the greater the pain. According to Dr. Scott, Chief Nursing Officer of Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, Georgia, they noticed this when they became cognizant that requests for pain medicine decreased during afternoon football games prompting the hospital to add ESPN to the channels available to patients[I].

Science has come a long way in proving the many benefits of happiness over the past two decades but they have not come close to understanding the potential impact on human thriving that is possible. This will be realized when the topic of this paper has become common knowledge.

We are on the brink of seeing the dreams of many generations become reality. Let’s go.

Jeanine Joy’s upcoming book, Stress Kills: Happiness Heals will provide a clear path to the vision explored in this White Paper. Watch for it in book stores in the autumn of 2014.

Please consider sharing this with your friends and family. You never know who you may help by passing it on. It is a random act of kindness that will ripple outward. This information is too important to move forward at the speed of science – Pass it on and help create a better world sooner.

[A] See:  Emotion: A Self-Regulatory Sense, K.T.Peil

[B] Each individual has an emotional set point on each topic. For example, emotional set point about Mother may be different on topic of money than set point on topic of food and so on. However, people tend to live in the same emotional range across a variety of topics.

[C] See separate list of processes.

[D] University of California – David (2001, August 22). Happiness can deter crime, a new study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2012, from

[E] See:  Emotion: A Self-Regulatory Sense ( by K. T. Peil, Harvard, 2012

[F] Association for Psychological Science (2011, July 27). Who takes risks?

[G] Rollin, McCraty, Mike Atkinson, and Raymond T. Bradley, “Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition. Part 1: The Surprising Role of the Heart,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 10(1) (2004), pp. 133 – 143

[H] The Heart’s Content: The Association between Positive Psychological Well-Being and Cardiovascular Health,” Julia K. Boehm and Laura D. Kubzansky, Psychological Bulletin, online April 17, 2012, Published by the American Psychological Association, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of  Happiness 1st Institute. Happiness 1st Institute is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business  Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional.. Happiness 1st Institute, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

© 2012-2014 Jeanine Joy All rights reserved.

[I] Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2012

Do You Love Your Child? Really?

Do You Love Your Child?  Really? Unconditionally?

Many parents believe they love their child but they actually love an image of what they want their child to be more than the child.

Parents form an image of an ideal son or daughter in their mind. They often begin forming this image long before the child is even conceived.

Once the child arrives the child is compared to this “ideal image” and judged by how well the child meets or fails to meet the expectations of this ideal.

I see this played out in countless ways by countless parents.

To me the saddest parts are:

  1. The parent really wants to love their child but does not know how – they only know how to compare the child to their ideal – approving when the child matches the preconceived image and disapproving when the child differs from the image.
  2. The parent does not really know their child.
  3. The child feels pressured to become the “ideal” which may have nothing to do with what would allow the child to thrive in the best possible ways.
  4. The child feels the love of the parent must be earned.

I see parents with intelligent young children who are very capable of making good decisions for themselves insisting that the child do as the parent believes best (based on the “ideal image”) rather than who the child really is.

Even children who have made good decisions again and again are pressured into decisions that are not right for them by parents who love the “ideal” child instead of seeing the beauty of their own child with the individual traits and characteristics that make that child unique.

These children are chastised for making decisions that do not conform to the “ideal” even when they are making what is clearly a correct decision to observers.

The parents don’t see themselves as loving an ideal. They truly believe they love their child but the “best for the child” in their eyes is to follow the ideal they have constructed in their own minds instead of what would best suit their unique child.

Recently, I watched a man with two beautiful, intelligent, interesting, and delightful daughters reduce one to tears through his insistence that she made a mistake in a decision that, to anyone who knows the full situation, sees she made great decisions. Only someone comparing her to an image that has nothing to do with who or what she is would see it otherwise.

Instead of getting to know and love who his daughters are he projects a stereo-type of what he wants and then judges them based on whether or not they live up to his expectations. As a young man, he did as his parents wanted him to do instead of following his own desires and still expresses regrets about the things he did not do as a young man to please his parents yet he is attempting to repeat the same scenario’s with his daughters. Just because he acted to please his parents who were comparing him to their own “ideal son” does not mean it was the best course of action for him at the time nor does it mean he should or must continue the chain of pain and insist his daughters follow his desires instead of their own dreams and desires.

We are taught to honor our parents but at some point our parents must honor who we are and allow us to do what suits us best. If you are continuing this chain of pain in your own life ask yourself how your life might be different if your parents had supported who you were instead of judging you based on how you lived up to what they wanted you to be?  How many generations of pain do you want that to continue?  We each get to live our own lives but we do not live our children’s lives for them – that is their job, their life.

Is it time for you to give some serious, inward thought to what you want rather than what you had in your relationship with your parents? What would have been better? Would it have been better if they just loved you and you knew they always loved you no matter what choices you made? If they trusted you to make the determination of what was best for you? You have guidance (all of us do) that guides our lives to the best they can be.

The guidance tells us what is best for ourselves. It does not tell us what is best for anyone else, including our children. When you teach your children to listen to you instead of their guidance you are leading them away from the absolute best guidance they can have, the guidance that is aware not only of all their hopes and dreams but of also the path of least resistance to fulfillment of those dreams.

Both science and all major religions speak of this guidance although many are not as clear about the message and guidance as our programs.

When we second guess our children it only serves to undermine their confidence and, when they want to please parents who are comparing them to an ideal, makes them sad that following her own guidance makes the parent unhappy.

Parents (and other adults – Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc.) could have a much better relationship if they focused on knowing who the child really is, what are their hopes, dreams, and heartfelt desires?

We all tend to assign the same reasons to others actions that we believe we would have if we had taken those actions but we are seldom right about the reasons we assign — not just you — all of us are woefully inadequate in figuring out why another does what they do — because it is complex and based on ALL that they have lived. Even two people growing up in the same household experience it differently because of the “back stories” they assign. I go into this in detailed explanations in my book. Far better to ask, without judgment, but with curiosity and a desire to understand.

What do you want with your children? Do you want to be a distant authority figure that they try to please or do you want them to really know you and you to really know them? As you project what you want on them you close the door to their being able to openly be who they really are with you. Is that what you want? To not know them but just know how much they live up to, or fail to live up to, what you want them to be? Do you not trust them to be very wonderful if they choose their own path? Look at their accomplishments so far.

Given the belief that they are loved for their wonderful and unique selves children will make good choices. Won’t it be interesting to see what choices they make going forward?

Look inside yourself. Think about your children and their choices so far. How much influence do you really believe a parent can have on whether they choose to do things we do not want or things we want? How many parents do you know who have raised several children who turned our well but one who insisted on making bad choices? Parental influence really does not have that big of an influence. What it does do, however, is influence the relationship between the parent and child. When the parent attempts to control (an impossible task – completely out of the parent’s control) rather than loving unconditionally (an achievable goal that is totally within the parent’s control) the relationship suffers. Can you find a place inside yourself where you can trust your children? When you think, “My children are smart and make good decisions” does it not feel better than “I have to second guess the decisions my children make and point out when I think they have made a mistake”? Which thought feels better?

Do you not believe that your child’s guidance, which considers all their hopes, dreams and desires, does not contain a desire to please their parents – to have good relationships with family? I know it does. I know their guidance considers all the factors they want to consider without them having to spend a decade figuring it out.

When I tell my children to do what their guidance tells them to do I know that guidance is going to consider their desire for a good relationship with not only me but with others in their life. I do not have to assert my desires on them, I can trust that their guidance, just like my own, just like yours, just like everyone’s — is always pointing out the best path for them.

I hope that this helps you build deeper relationships with your children by trusting them more. Set an intention to love your child – whoever that is – not your ideal child. I would love to hear how this decision changes your life and your relationship with your child.

We hope this article stimulates discussion. If this article stimulates thoughts, questions, or comments please post them below. The comments are moderated so they will not appear immediately. Comments and questions are taken seriously. By sharing them here rather than sending them by private mail you share with other readers and not just the author. All comments are read and all earnest questions are responded to. If you have something to say that truly applies only to you and me then send me an email. Please feel to share this article with others using the share buttons or by sending them a link to this page. Comments that are not related to the topic of this website or that are blatant advertisements are deleted to preserve the integrity of the site. We look forward to your feedback. If you would like to register for or are interested in additional information on our classes, one-on-one coaching, or speakers for your event please contact us.