Science

Positivity is at the root of human thriving. Science from every discipline combines to demonstrate the big picture.

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.


Smoking Relationship to Stress

Smoking Relationship to Stress

You don’t want to smoke.

You know smoking is bad for you.

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

Why is it so difficult for you to quit?

The answer may be stress.

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

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

We can help. Contact us today.

Smoking Relationship to Stress


Adult Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Stress GREATLY Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity Risk and Poor Results

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

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

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

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

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

Stress interferes with our ability to stick to our goals.

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

How do you know if you’re stressed?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stress Greatly Increases Obesity


Prevention Saves Lives and Money


 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stress is a significant initial cause of mental illness.

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

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

 


Personality Models: The Flaw

Personality Models: The Flaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chronic Emotional State is the result of habits of thought.

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

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

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

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

What we do and why

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

Long-term vs. Short-term Goals

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

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

Recommended Research Direction

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

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

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

As a starting point, I suggest the following questions:

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

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

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

 

 


Beating Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] (Wittayanukorn, Qian and Hansen)

[2] (Dockray and Steptoe)

[3] (Hidaka)

[4] (Martin and Dahlen)

[5] (Martin and Dahlen)


Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

As Thoreau said,

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

If you substitute stress for evil, I would say,

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

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

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

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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

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

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

The negative effects begin immediately.

Stress Culture to Health Culture

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

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

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


Pessimists Don’t Die Peacefully In their Sleep

Researchers have begun looking at how mindset affects health. Their findings are telling.

Optimists live an average of 10.7 years longer but they enjoy 18 healthier years because the debilitating end of life diseases visit them much closer to the end than they do pessimists.

Illness likes to visit pessimists and illness likes to stay longer when it visits pessimists.

Science can tell us why this is true. Our immune system works best when we feel positive emotions. The decline in our immune function is instantaneous when we feel negative emotions. Decreased immune function equals increased illness and in later life, increased chronic illness.

Digestive function also suffers when negative emotions are felt. Sometimes it is an immediate response when someone throws up upon seeing a distressing sight. The lucky ones among us only have the experience of watching others do this in movies or reading about it in books. Others have first hand experience. More of us have experience with the stomach feeling upset almost immediately after hearing distressing news. Long-term negative emotion (often referred to as stress) leads to long-term digestive problems including a greatly increased risk of diabetes and of obesity.

Cognitive function also worsens with stress and the choices we make about things like foods, smoking, drugs, and alcohol are worse when our emotional state is worse.

Pessimists tend to develop chronic illnesses about 7 – 8 years before death, on average. Some do it far sooner and a few don’t suffer as long. When compared to optimists whose average pre-death illness is no more than two years, pessimists have it rough.

Pessimism effectively creates a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Most people think being pessimistic or optimistic is an innate trait. The truth is that both are simply habits of thought. Like all habits, they can be changed to healthier habits. Leaving pessimistic tendencies behind does not discard the essence of who you are–it allows the beauty of you to shine through in new ways. It also feels good.

We are experts in helping people who have decided they want to change their habits of thought successfully do so. Ask us how we can help you today.


Smart Employers Know . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(704) 25 one -51 five zero

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

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

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Aging is Optional

For years I’ve said, “Aging is optional.”

I said it before I read the research that demonstrates that our beliefs about aging impact how we age.

Understanding that my personal beliefs about aging affect how I age, I have deliberately looked for examples of what is possible. They’re easy to find when you expect them. I don’t have to look any further than the people in my life to find incredible examples of individuals living well long after most people would expect them to be weak, sickly, and physically compromised.

I came across this beautiful example of an 86-year old lady gymnast today and wanted to share it.

As you expand your belief about how well you can do in your 70’s and beyond, you set yourself up for a better experience. Research shows that how we think we’ll do at certain ages has a tremendous impact on how we actually do at those ages.

Essentially, your beliefs about aging are self-fulfilling prophesies. There is a placebo (or nocebo) effect from your beliefs about aging.

If you dread old age, if you see it as a negative time of life you are setting yourself up for a harder time than you have to have. One of the things we can do at Happiness 1st Institute is help you develop beliefs about aging that allow you not to take the unwanted options.

Who do you know that inspires you to enjoy life longer?

Are your current beliefs about aging serving you?


Burnout in High Stress Occupations: Solutions

Employee Engagement

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

Burnout in High Stress Occupations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Difference Does this Make?

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

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

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

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

The Good news is

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

Resilience leads to desirable traits including:

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

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

Building A Resilient Culture

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

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

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

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

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

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

(7O4) 25I…5I5O

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

 


Verbal Abuse Worse Than Physical Abuse?

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

Verbal Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact us today to see how we can help.


Private Schools and Suicide

Private Schools and Suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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

Primary Prevention

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verbal Abuse

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

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

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

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

Resilience is a Learnable Skill

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

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

Public Suicide Prevention and Awareness Meetings

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

Emergency Numbers

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

Someone wants to help you. Please call

International Emergency Numbers

Australia 000

New Zealand 111

Fiji   000 or 911

United Kingdom  112 or 999

Ireland      112 or 999

Turkey   112

Switzerland  112

India  102

Hong Kong 999

Israel  101 or 112

Japan   119

Nepal  102

UAE   112

Brazil  192

Costa Rica  911

S. Africa   112, 10 177

China  120

Philippines  117 or 112


Primary Prevention of Heart Disease: Infographic

Save Lives Save Money Prevent CVD

Primary Prevention Saves Lives and Saves Money

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

Primary Prevention of Heart Disease

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a long, healthy and happy life.

                                Jeanine Joy

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

 


Curiosity is a Super Power

Curiosity is a Super Power

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

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

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

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


Public Health Manipulation?

Public Health Manipulation?

While researching my upcoming book, Become More Resilient: The Smart Way, I came across some research that I find quite disturbing.

The research was attempting to determine the reason for optimistic bias and whether or not it could be eliminated by increasing the subjects information about the risk, for example, the risk of getting cancer.

They theorized that in order to get people to do the preventative behaviors that would lower their risk, they had to reduce their optimistic bias. In order to do that, they wanted to determine if the reason for optimism was to reduce anxiety, to maintain self-esteem, or to maintain a positive emotional state.

What they did not consider in this misguided attempt was that positively focused individuals (optimists) have a lower risk of cancer. If you take the total risk of the population and ask an optimist to accept that risk as his or her own, it would be an overestimation of the individual risk. Why?

Research has shown that the presence of positive emotions has a beneficial impact on the bio-chemical function of our bodies. Specifically,

  • Improved immune function
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Increased likelihood of making good decisions about behaviors (diet, exercise, alcohol, etc.)
  • Improved digestive function

The very health promoting behaviors the researchers want more of are more likely to be done by those who feel positive emotion than those who are pessimistic, stressed, or in negative emotional states.

Their idea of making people feel less optimistic, which would lower the degree to which they feel positive emotions, flies in the face of strong evidence that demonstrates that positive emotions provide a protective effect against chronic illness and dread diseases. The improved immune function translates directly into a lower risk of cancer, which is supported by the evidence. The presence of positive emotions reduces the risk of heart disease (the #1 cause of death worldwide) at least 50% and some newer research is showing 70%.

Negative emotions have been shown to reduce the likelihood of an individual engaging in health promoting behaviors. Even individuals who know exercise is good for them and will make them feel better readily admit that they forgo their usual exercise routine when they feel too stressed. Food choices vary by mood, which negative emotion highly correlated to the less healthy choices. Alcohol and drug use are the method of choice for millions who do not have the skills necessary to reduce their level of stress (negative emotions).

In addition to being misguided for the above reason, the research was not considering the underlying cause of optimism and pessimism. The questions they asked were never going to address individual differences. Optimism (and pessimism) are the result of habits of thought individuals developed and then continue to repeat throughout life (unless they elect to deliberately change their habits). Thoughts are influenced by underlying beliefs about the self, others, and the world combined with the way the individual perceived past experiences. The number of unique permutations possible cannot be accurately modeled in a simple theory of reducing anxiety, maintaining self-esteem, or maintaining a positive emotional state.

Every individual has unique beliefs about every topic. For example, with respect to one’s mother, there will be beliefs that pertain to Mom and money, Mom and food, Mom and shopping, Mom and education, Mom and alcohol, Mom and cleanliness, Mom and family, Mom and other siblings, Mom and transportation, Mom and flowers. The list is endless. An individual may feel good about some of the beliefs about Mom, and bad about others.

How you feel about each of those topics depends on the perspective you take. If Mom was very frugal you may feel guilty when you buy anything that you do not consider necessary—even if you are able to easily afford luxuries. There are many ways to handle every scenario. You could behave frugally, not enjoying the prosperity available to you to avoid the guilt. Some people self-sabotage their career or investments so they do not have enough funds to violate this internalized rule about frugality. There are dozens of ways to handle this underlying belief but the best way is to develop a belief that serves your highest good. That’s easy—when you know how. Attempting to understand why any individual behaves in a specific way is not easy, or necessary.

Human behavior cannot be understood in a simple construct with three reasons for optimism. My own optimism comes from a variety of perspectives—and deliberate conscious choices. First, maintaining a positive state of mind is important to me because I want to feel good. But I also know that doing so is the absolutely best thing I can do for my health and my relationships. I developed skills that enable me to do this very well on a consistent basis regardless of circumstances. I also found a solid platform for healthy self-esteem, one that does not require defense against attacks and that does not place my worth or value above that of any other—but also not less than any other.

The details, the thoughts that support a positive emotional state vary widely depending on the circumstances focused on in any given moment. We think about 60,000 thoughts each day. Each thought results in an emotional response that either feels better, worse, or the same as the prior thought felt. To attempt to classify 60,000 thoughts into three buckets and derive meaningful and useful information from it is an exercise in futility.

Citations for the statistics in this article are included in True Prevention—Optimum Health: Remember Galileo. Many of them are also in other blogs on my website.

Jeanine Joy teaches others how to develop beliefs that create sustainable positive emotions. Her programs increase resilience, optimism, happiness, self-esteem, internal locus of control, and help them develop supportive relationships. Her programs are available for organizations, schools, and individuals.


Are Erectile Dysfunction Commercials causing ED? Nocebo Effect.

[l2g name=”” id=”901″]The erectile dysfunction commercials are spreading misinformation that may be harming you.

I think most people are familiar with the term placebo. It is a beneficial effect from what the taker believes is a drug but is in reality a sugar pill. The placebo effect represents the mind-body influence from the belief that the pill is a drug and is beneficial.

The mind-body effect can be beneficial (placebo) or adverse (nocebo).

There are documented cases of the mind-body connection causing harm up to and including death. There have been a number of documented cases where someone was diagnosed as terminally ill with a short time to live and after the person died as expected, the autopsy showed the person had been misdiagnosed and did not have any physically determinable cause of death.

When Mom would kiss your boo-boo to make it better, that was a placebo effect.

There are literally books written documenting placebo and nocebo effect as well as research in the literature at many Universities.

I do not watch a lot of television but I do watch Blue Bloods. Tonight they had a commercial for an ED drug at least twice during the show during which they quoted a statistic that I believe is blatantly false and if not blatantly false, relayed in a very misleading way. The commercial states that half of men over age 40 have ED.

That sort of information can have a very negative effect if the man begin expecting problems with ED. There is a lot of research that shows that your expectations about age affect how you age. Individuals who perceive aging in a positive light, using words like experience, wisdom, etc. age better than those who associate words like decline, weakness, etc. with aging.

There are consistent reports in the research of negative expectation causing negative outcome as it relates to both health and aging in general.

I’ve seen other research that has indicated that intimacy in the 40’s, 50’s and beyond is better. Children are getting older (if they aren’t gone) so there is less risk they will interrupt and they are out of the house with greater frequency. Other research has talked about the benefit of no longer worrying about pregnancy at older ages.

I urge you to turn the volume off when these commercials come on. Or, if you happen to hear this message, immediately tell yourself you won’t be one of the ones that needs a little purple pill. If you believe you’ll need it, you probably will. Belief has a powerful influence over mind and body.

There is nothing wrong with help if you need it, but there is no reason to let yourself fall into their attempts to make you believe it is inevitable.

Also, do not allow a single incident convince you that you have a problem. Many factors beyond age can impact function including stress, illness, alcohol, drugs, fatigue, and relationship discord. You will be better served by attributing it to a temporary issue. If your immediate reaction is that your glory days are over you’ll probably need the purple pill.

The absolute best foreplay is appreciating your partner.

This is not the only commercial I’ve heard that plants seeds of weeds in the mind. It is easy to prevent its growth if you do it right away and refute the applicability of their message to you. If you wait until it has developed roots it will be more difficult to convince yourself that it was a temporary problem.

What you believe matters. Do your best to believe what will give you the best possible life.

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

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.

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

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

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Is Happiness Wrong When Some People are Suffering?

Is Happiness Wrong?

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

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

Here are mine:

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

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

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

Let’s take these one at a time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy citizens are good for society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think? Is Happiness Wrong?

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

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


Happiness and Stress are two ends of the same Continuum

Happiness and Stress Continuum

Chronic stress can lead to debilitating diseases and shorten your life by a considerable number of years. In one large longitudinal study that followed the participants for life, the negatively focused participants had 18 fewer healthy years. They not only died about 10 years earlier, they also spent about 8 years being sick when the positively focused participants were able to enjoy 18 healthier years. In the positively focused group the debilitating end of life diseases came at much older ages and much closer to the time of death.

Sometimes people don’t want to live longer because they don’t want to linger in unhealthy bodies. If you tend to be negatively focused, stressed, and unhappy your chances of living more unhealthy years is much greater.

Every bit of that is a choice you make. Focusing on the negative is a habit of thought that can be changed. Stress is not a matter of the situation, but of how we respond to the situation. There are skills that can increase your resilience, emotional intelligence and decrease (literally) the amount of stress you feel without changing the circumstances.

The great news is that when you decrease stress, happiness shows up. In recent years there has been a great deal of research on the benefits of happiness. Guess what? They are the same as the benefits from reducing stress. Why? Because stress and happiness are two ends of the same stick, they are on the same continuum.

High stress decreases your brain function. You’re literally not as smart when you’re stressed as you are when you’re not stressed.

In other words, you’re smarter when you’re happy.

High stress diminishes your immune function.

In other words, when you’re happy your immune system is working well.

Your digestive function, endocrine system, and more have the same relationship with stress and happiness. When stressed they don’t work as well, and when happy they are at their optimum.

Even the decisions you make about risky behavior, exercise, food, and sleep are better when you’re happy and worse when you’re stressed.

Many undesirable behaviors are simply attempts to reduce stress by someone who does not know a healthier way.

TRUE Prevention–Optimum Health: Remember Galileo gives you techniques to reduce stress and increase happiness. We also have online and in person classes to teach these techniques to groups.

Give yourself or your employees the gift of greater well-being.