How to Be Happy...Scientifically Speaking

Posted by tonyoverbay

Tony breaks down Douglas Kenrick, PhD's article "7 Scientifically Supported Steps to Happiness," based off of Sonja Lyubomirsky's book "The How of Happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want." Sign up today to be the first to know when the next round of The Magnetic Marriage Course will launch

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[00:00:02] The. Come on in. Take a seat.

[00:00:21] Everybody, thanks for joining me on episode two hundred and eighty three. The virtual couch. Today we are going to talk about the science behind happiness, one of my favorite topics. But actually two things is happiness. In general, I love talking about happiness, the elusive goal of trying to find happiness in the most effective way. And I love evidence based models of psychology, so we're going to hit on all cylinders today and we're going to get right to it. It only took me two hundred and eighty two previous episodes to realize that I really do want to just get to the topic at hand, and I know I would use these excuses. I've got to pay the bills and that sort of thing. But hopefully, if you're finding me and you enjoy the content that I put out on the virtual couch that you'll dig a little bit deeper, go to Tony. I do have a magnetic marriage course that's about the start up and a recovery program and a book and all those wonderful things. But I want to get to the topic, although I just said that I think it's tomorrow, or maybe it's even today, and this will go out the day after. But my new podcast, Waking Up the Narcissism, which the trailer did get a tremendous amount of downloads and all those and all those wonderful things. So I'm grateful for that. But go find it, and it's part of the virtual couch network.

[00:01:26] And so we'll just leave that there. But today I'm going to talk about the science of happiness, and I'm doing what I. Here's the part where I feel very old, where I with the kids, I believe call a reaction video or reaction podcast. That sounds dramatic. But what I really am going to do is I'm going to talk about an article that someone wrote about a book. So I'm even two layers removed from the actual book itself. The book is a book called The How of Happiness, a scientific approach to Getting the Life You Want, and that is by a wonderful clinician named Sonia and its L y you, b o m, IRS, A, Y and I butchered this in a previous recording about 20 minutes ago to the point of where I started over. So Estonia live Barofsky her book. I just did it again, didn't I? I actually went and looked up YouTube videos of you speaking to see how people would pronounce her name. And I feel like people alluded to the fact that that they couldn't pronounce her name. And then they said, Hey, here's Sonya, and she has a great book. So I just did the same thing. But her book The Hell of Happiness, the article that I'm going to refer to, though, is by a professor of social psychology at Arizona State University named Douglas Kenrick, PhD. And he has a blog on Psychology Today called Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life, and it's a really good blog.

[00:02:55] The more that I looked at what Dr. Kendrick is doing, he he just comments on a lot of very interesting things as his own research. And so I'll have links to Dr. Kendrick's blog as well as this article seven scientifically supported steps to happiness. And that's what he wrote about Sonia's book The How of Happiness. So if you're thoroughly confused, that's OK, because the real point is we're going to talk about what Dr. Kendrick found is his top seven takeaways from that book The How of Happiness A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. And shockingly, if you follow all of the virtual couch for a little while, I am going to put the acceptance and commitment therapy spin on the how of happiness because I honestly, I look at these things where it says, here's how to be happy any article that is something to this effect. And I often then apply it as a therapist who has now been seeing clients for 15 plus years and who has done a dramatic shift in my own therapy model from cognitive behavioral therapy of Just Change Your thought and be happy to then realizing that that maybe doesn't work for a lot of people and a better way, in my opinion, is this acceptance and commitment therapy way or more like you're having thoughts and feelings and emotions because you're a human being? And so it's normal to have those thoughts and feelings and emotions.

[00:04:15] But now what do you do with them? And often one of the biggest challenges for happiness, in my opinion, is we're going after the wrong mark that too often we're doing these socially compliant versions of happiness where we say, I know I should be happy and therefore I should do these things that everyone else does that makes them happy. Or at least it looks like it makes them happy on social media, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, all those kind of wonderful things. And if they look happy, then I should be happy doing those things as well. But too often, again, a socially compliant goal is something that we do because we think that we're supposed to, or we think that if we don't do it, we're going to let somebody else. And I'm talking, let somebody down from a spouse to a parent to even even God. And so a socially compliant goal is a really deep concept to embrace. But it can be so liberating to say, Why am I doing these things? Why am I doing something that that I think will make me happy if I really feel at my core, it's not something that really matters to me. So let's go through these seven things, and I'm going to throw in acceptance and commitment therapy spin to them. And in the vein of a true reaction video or reaction podcast, I tried not to really do a lot of thought beforehand because I really just want to be in the moment as I read through these.

[00:05:27] So no one. Dr. Kendrick says from Sonia's book that his one of his biggest takeaways is do something nice for someone else. And he said when he asked, This is Dr. Kendrick. When he asked you to nominate her own favorite positive psychology findings with practical implications for other people's lives, she responded Do acts of kindness for others and, in other words, make someone else happier. She notes that there's plenty of research evidence that doing things for others makes you happier. And then, in Dr. Kendrick's blog, he has sent some links to some of that evidence based data. And I followed a couple of those studies and there are incredible studies. And so here's where I feel like the acceptance and commitment therapy piece comes into play if you feel stuck, if you feel like you're not even sure what to do. Now I often talk about and I did a podcast a couple of weeks ago of Let Values Be Your Guide. So if you have a value of curiosity or you have a value of knowledge or you have a value of connection with others and you're feeling down or you're feeling stuck or you're not feeling happy, one of the best things you can do is start to take action on one of those values, and I gave an example of being at a basketball game and feeling a little bit flat and then pulling out my phone and then looking up some to me fascinating data about the players on the court and finding out all kinds of things about them and then sharing that with the people around me.

[00:06:45] And so I literally was not trying to stop a thought. I was not trying to change a thought. I was not trying to say to myself, Why am I thinking these thoughts? Because I was just thinking them because I was in the situation that I was in. But then I turned and did something that mattered to me. I took action on that. So what I like about her number one, finding do something nice for someone else is it really does get you out of your mind. It gets you out of trying to think your way out of a thinking problem. So if you are feeling stuck or not happy and then you think. I can do something for someone else. I feel like that one is a pretty all encompassing goal in a positive way, meaning that I can implement my value into any type of helping someone else. So if I believe that helping something, someone else is to share a funny joke with them and I have a value of humor, and I'm not only tapping into one of my values, but I'm also making a connection with someone outside myself. If I have a value of service and then I run over and I just mow someone's lawn, so I'm doing something for them.

[00:07:49] Even if they didn't ask me to mow their lawn, then I'm doing something for someone else and I'm doing something of value for me. So I really like that first one. Do something nice for someone else, and I would encourage you to do something nice for someone else based on something that you find connection with. That sounds selfish, but it's not selfish. Selfish self care is not selfish, and I would put this one under the self care. I would put this one under the raising my emotional baseline of taking action and serving someone and doing it based on something that that really I connect with because and I'm going to think of an example on the fly here. If you don't really care much about someone's yard, you don't really like yard work. If you don't really, if you feel like you grew up in your parents made such a big deal about the yard being perfect that you have a negative association with yard work, but then you go serve someone else and then you do that by jumping in and doing yard work for them. There's a chance it's not going to be a bad thing, but there's also a pretty good chance that that would fall into one of those socially compliant goals. You're doing it because you think that you have to.

[00:08:52] And so that's going to rob a little bit of that moment or rob a little bit of you being present in that moment. So try to find something that matters, that is based on one of your values and then go out there and do something nice for someone else with that activity. Number two, Dr. Kendrick said one of his takeaways from her book The How of Happiness, is express gratitude on a regular basis. And he said this was this was another bit of well-supported advice that Sony gave in response to his query. And of course, he says that he's grateful for that advice. He said after the first time he read her book, his wife suggested that they institute a nightly ritual of a thankful list. And he said, we've been doing that for over a decade now before their son's bedtime reading. It's one of the highlights of the day, and in this book, she lists several ways that gratitude boosts happiness by helping you savor positive experiences. For example, as well as boosting your self-esteem, boosting social bonds and disrupting your negative emotions. Brilliant on all levels, this one is brilliant, and the science of gratitude is solid. I've done a couple of episodes on that, and I won't name the large corporation, but I get a chance now to do some trainings for large corporations, and there was one that they brought me on to do a video training. It was about the beginning and I'm close to the beginning of the pandemic and I did a video training with a lot of corporate executives for a very large corporation, and they wanted me to speak to the science of gratitude.

[00:10:18] And at that time, it wasn't that I didn't believe in the science of gratitude, but I hadn't really invested a lot of my own time in studying research, and it didn't take long to find that research that the Kendrick's talking about here. It really does show that there are so many positive effects to expressing gratitude and where I throw the acceptance and commitment therapy layer over this is to express gratitude for the things that you really feel a connection with or the things that you really appreciate. And I like how in this in the article where he talks about this thankful list and that it helps you boost your self-esteem, build social bonds and disrupt your negative emotions. And I really like that phrase disrupt your negative emotions. So it's not saying try to control your negative emotions or stop your negative emotions, but it's saying, Hey, I see you negative emotion today might have been a pretty crummy day, but give me one thing that you're grateful for. And if you were grateful for the opportunity to spend time with your spouse, then express that. And I'll give you an example. So yesterday was Labor Day here in the U.S., and I did come in and I did a little bit of I saw a couple of clients had some work to do, recorded a couple of things for some future projects and then went home and went on a bike ride with my wife and we.

[00:11:30] We covered twenty something miles. It was a hundred degrees. We vowed we'll never do that again because it was a little bit too hot. But man, we had an amazing shared experience of going through this challenge together and we were cracking jokes. We were up, we were down and it was just this amazing connected experience, even though the experience itself was really difficult. And so I love expressing gratitude to my wife for her adventurous nature, our willingness to have this shared experience. And so I was truly grateful for that and I was grateful for that. It was something that really mattered to me. I could say, Hey, I'm grateful for the way that wiped off the counters last night, which I am grateful for, but I feel like that's one of those things that we do just to make sure that we end the evening with a clean home and the emotional peace that comes with that. But I was really grateful for the shared experience that we had around this activity. And so it really does help you build this social bond or disrupt negative emotions. If I was feeling a little bit flat last night, which I was because back into the grind today and long hours and a lot of things coming up ahead, I was just grateful to be able to spend that time doing some meaningful activity based on a value even of fitness that I have with someone that I really cared about.

[00:12:44] Number three. Cultivate an optimistic outlook on life, and I really feel like the wording here is very key. Cultivating an optimistic outlook on life, I know we can talk about the people that are optimists, people that are pessimists. People look at the glass half full or glass half empty. But that's why I enjoy cultivate, because if it is something that doesn't come natural to you, if just exuding positivity or looking at the glass as half full isn't something that comes natural, then you can absolutely notice that note that don't beat yourself up about it and then start to cultivate an optimistic outlook. So if you already follow those first few things we've talked about, if you're doing something for somebody else that really matters to you and you're keeping a gratitude list or being a little more thankful about something each day, and I feel like that's part of the steps of cultivating an optimistic outlook on life. In his article, Dr. Kenrick says that Estonia has done research with a woman named Laura Queen, who herself conducted research in which people imagined their best possible future selves. So what would you be doing in 10 years if everything went perfectly in your life? It's worth trying for yourself if you are listening right now to do it yourself.

[00:13:51] If you just sit back for a second and this isn't going, I'm not going to try to trick you and say, Aha, well, then do all those things if that's what you really want, but just step back and do a little bit of a visualization of what would you be doing in 10 years if everything went perfectly in your life? And the research suggests that imagining an ideal future actually increases your inclination to persist toward those goals and then to cope a little better with step backs and back to my world of acceptance and commitment therapy. Oftentimes, I will have someone do exactly this. One of the ways when people say that they're not really quite sure what their values are when I love preaching, let values be your guide. Turn to a value based activity when you're feeling down. Don't try to think your way out of a thinking problem. All of those wonderful things, all those things I love saying. People will often say, Well, I'm not really sure what my values are, and I understand that. And even the the security of what your values are is a story that your brain is holding on to. Because if I can ruminate and wonder and worry about, I don't even know what my values are, then what I'm not doing is taking action on trying to figure out what my values are.

[00:14:58] One of the best things you can do if you're unsure of your values is just walk outside and start talking to people and you are going to start to find out what really matters to you, whether it's what you like talking about, what you don't like, talking about, what you like doing or what you don't like doing. But one of the things that can keep us stuck is sitting and trying to think about that where we feel like I have to figure this out before I go out and discover my values, when in reality, going out and doing or going out and trying to figure out values is actually the way to do so. You can bring all your negative thoughts along with you, if you'd like or not even your thoughts along with you. So imagining this ideal future self again actually increasing people's inclination to persist toward their goals and cope with setbacks is that sometimes I'll even say, Hey, tell me about somebody that you really care about somebody you really connect with somebody that you really look up to. And what is it about that person that you connect with or that you look up to? And that will often help you understand what those values are? Grandpa, that you really admire? What is it you admire about grandpa? Is it because grandpa really kindly speaks his mind? Does he say the things that you wish everybody would say at the family reunion? And if you say, well, he can get away with that because he's older? Well, then we're maybe using to this.

[00:16:14] You have to be older to be able to really express yourself or be authentic. So often, if you can visualize where you want to be in 10 years, it's a little bit of that same concept. If I can visualize that, I want to be retired on the beach with my wife, which I really do. Then when I'm feeling down or stuck or lonely or flat, then what are those things that I could do that would just even start to point me in the right direction? That might get me closer toward that goal of in 10 years walking on the beach with my wife? Ok, let's go to number four. Four is a very, very good one. Avoid invidious social comparisons. So Sonia's own research suggests that happy people are pretty oblivious to other people who seem to be doing better than them. That's hard to do. I recognize that it's very hard to do. Dr. Kendrick says on the other side of the coin, materialistic attempts to keep up with the Joneses or the said Gates's are actually a great way to make yourself feel even more depressed. And he has a list of research articles that speak to that, and I think that that is so true. I talk often when I get to speak about how did we get to the point where we can feel more depressed or more anxious? How do we get that way? And a lot of times in just a real quick version or a simple version or answer that is that our brains were designed initially not to be a feel good happy device, to be a killed device that we evolved from this mindset of.

[00:17:43] If we turn the corner and we aren't prepared that there could be a saber tooth tiger or a wooly mammoth or a band of marauders or thieves. So things like anxiety are there as a warning that they're there so that we will be on the lookout and always weary and ready of things that may happen even though now. Our modern minds have evolved to the point where we're worried about everything under the Sun, we're worried about losing our job or falling into poor health or getting a ticket or any of those things. And so we're so worried about things that we find ourselves often in this constant state of anxiety where our brains are right on the edge of fight or flight. And so even more so, we're designed to deal with with emotion and concert with another human being, one of my favorite quotes of all time. And in doing so, we're so afraid that we will get booted out of a relationship booted out of our family, booted out of our culture, our society, that we're constantly trying to read the room and see what other people are doing because we feel like if we can still fit in that we're not going to be rejected or kicked to the curb because in doing so, we still have this primitive brain that says I'm on my own.

[00:18:56] I'm going to be devoured by wolves. Maybe not literal wolves, but maybe figurative wolves. So we are just comparing ourselves constantly to all those around us, and we've made it really easy to do that through social media. I'm not trying to say get off the social media, that sort of thing. You might be watching this on YouTube right now, but I feel like the big takeaway there is do your best to notice that you are seeing other people, and I might be noticing that I'm doing the comparison thing, but when I recognize that, then just try to move back being present because the only thing I have control of is me is my life and the actions that I can take notice there even said the actions thoughts are just going to come. That's one of the most fascinating things about the human brain is we're going to think things constantly. Things are going to pop into our minds and we just give things. We give our thoughts so much. We give our thoughts so much attention or we assign such a meaning to our thoughts when in reality and thoughts just happen, our thoughts or our thoughts, are our thoughts.

[00:19:58] And so the more that we just recognize the thought. Don't beat ourselves up about a thought. Don't even try to stop a thought. Just notice it, but then take action on the things that matter to you. And we in one more note on that. Yeah, we're trying to compare ourselves with everybody around us because we feel like if I don't fit in, I've got this inherent fear that in the group or the tribe or the society will boot me out. And we not only do that, but we compare ourselves to this fictional version of ourselves that we may never even become. This is that I'll be happier if I'll be happier. If I make a million dollars, I'll be happier. If I have a really cool car, I'll be happier if I have six pack abs or a bushy head of hair or whatever that is, when in reality we may get to that point and then realize, Oh, that wasn't it. So we need to do our best to avoid these social comparisons or even comparing ourselves to this person, this idealized version of ourselves. And we need to really realize that the more we can just be OK and comfortable in the present moment and turn to things that matter. That's really what's going to boost our emotional baseline and happiness. I got a couple more here. Number five Dr. Kendrick says he really appreciated from Sonia's book The Concept of nurturing your relationships.

[00:21:08] So he says, make time to be with friends and family members, and if you can, without your electronic devices, pay attention to them, let them know what you like about them and when something good happens to them. Be sure to share in their positive outcomes, everybody. Again, we are social creatures at nature, even if we feel like it is difficult for us to be social, but we crave this social connection. And so look for shared experiences. Have you seen a movie that you can communicate about? Are you watching the same shows or what are your thoughts about different things and and share these things with curiosity? So he says, when something good happens again, be sure to share in their positive outcomes. Practice saying this is so good practice, saying, I see your point if you have minor disagreements about the news or who should wash the dishes, for example. And this is where my magnetic marriage course or in any of the things where I get to go, talk about really having a connected conversation, and I lay out my four pillars of a connected conversation. The first one is assuming good intentions that no one wakes up and thinks, How can I hurt my partner or my parent or? And again, even if you feel like that's the case, this is the formula to be able to have the conversation and the goal of the conversation is to be heard. So if I assume that no one's trying to hurt me and number two is I can't just flat out say you're wrong, even if I think they're wrong or I can't even put out that vibe of, I'm not buying this if I don't buy it, because the goal is to stay in the conversation and the pillar three is ask questions before making comments.

[00:22:37] Tell me more about that. Let me let me know. Help me find my blind spots and for staying present and not running back through my bunker and not going into victim mode. Not saying, OK, well, I guess my opinion doesn't matter which we so often do, and the reason I lay out those four pillars when it comes to this is when Dr. Kendrick saying practice, saying, I see your point. Oh, now we're sniffing around the concept of empathy. So tell me more. I'm going to assume that you aren't trying to hurt me. I'm going to assume that even if you have a different opinion than mine, that that comes from somewhere. And so that's going to lead me to say, Tell me more. I'm going to have more curiosity toward your experience. And it might even invalidate my own experience. But being able to stay present in what he says is saying, I see your point will help you stay present and learn more about somebody. And even you can feel there might be some tension. But again, I say often we're so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether.

[00:23:34] And one of the things that we can do when we're communicating with somebody else is be aware that we might start to feel a little bit invalid of invalidation because that's part of the human experience. So, Dr. Kendrick says a classic study of long lived Sardinian Okinawans and Seventh Day Adventists found those diverse groups had several things in common with putting family first and keeping socially engaged at the top of the list. Another study by WEEING and Jeffrey found that people who started a weight loss program who paired up with a friend lost substantially more weight and kept it off as compared to those who went it alone. And the author of the book How Happiness Sonja Lyubomirsky had to quote learn to forgive as a separate point, but it's certainly a powerful tool for maintaining relationships because. Yeah, this is funny, you said, because unlike you and me, our friends and relatives all occasionally screw up. Hey, two more to go. Number six, enjoy your work, the actual. And he says this actually collapses two of Rusty's happiness activities, doing more activities that truly engage you, that he says that she says it put you in flow and committing to your goals. And he said, as he's noted in more details and one of his earlier posts, people who work hard actually enjoy their jobs and experience their work more like play. Trying to get by with the least effort is a formula to make work more and more work than play.

[00:24:57] This one's good. This one's really good. Let me tell you where my mind goes with this. So I did 10 years in the computer software industry didn't really enjoy it, and at the time, I didn't really realize that I wasn't enjoying it. I just thought, this is the way that life works. So over time, get my early thirties, go back to grad school, get my master's in counseling, started doing some part time counseling and then over the course of the next few years, realize, Oh wow, this is what it feels like to really enjoy your job and to really be passionate about your job and to feel like I can't wait to learn more about my job and I can't. I like talking with other people that that like their jobs, and I like helping people find jobs that they actually like. And there's a cliche that I would hear often in my office where people would say, Well, I'm not happy in my job, but I work to. I live and does that one go? I work to live. So I work. Then I can do things fun at night or on the weekends, which I understand. And if that is where someone is, I can understand that being the goal. I started to find that too often the people that really felt like they weren't connected in their day to day lives with their jobs were hitting the night or the weekend, and they felt a little bit more out of gas.

[00:26:07] So but then they would be able to say, Well, I'll do something better next week. So then they would have that experiential avoidance of kicking the can down the road. And it wasn't until I really, really realized and embraced how much I enjoy my job and started to realize that that when people really do find something that they care about, something that they're pretty passionate about, but then they really do enjoy going to work. And so that cliche that I would hear in my office that I don't if I started doing it for a living, whatever it is, if it was something that I enjoyed, then it would no longer be fun is I feel like it might be a story that our brain is trying to convince us or tell us or hook us to. Because if we buy into that story or we hook to that story or thought, then we don't really have to put ourselves out there and risk the potential that we may actually have been missing out on doing a career that we didn't necessarily care for. And I realize that might not have made as much sense as I wanted it to. But my point is that when people really start to say, you know, I'd really like to do, let's say, therapy, I'd really like to be a therapist.

[00:27:07] I really like to be a writer. I'd really like to be a teacher. But then they say, But man, if I did that and it would take all the fun out of it, well, that's where I feel like that might not be the case. And actually, I'm not. I'm saying that might not be. I'm living this example of doing something that I really feel passionate about. So I really enjoy it. So if I need to work and enjoying my work is actually not a bad thing. So that's exactly what he said. Again, I'm enjoying your work, so I feel like there's a lot there. And when he talks about doing more activities that truly engage you or put you in flow. This goes back to what I started talking about at the beginning of this episode of If you find yourself doing things that you think you are supposed to be doing, that is a socially compliant goal. And your motivation for that is going to be pretty weak and ineffective because it goes against your whole sense of self or this process of unfolding or becoming yourself. Even to the point of where, if you are doing exercise that you don't really care about, I've had many people say, I've heard you talk about running and I've tried running, and I don't really like running, but I guess I need to do that. Well, what kind of experience are they going to have with running? They're not going to like it at all.

[00:28:14] And so then they get to even beat themselves up more of saying, Man, I can't even do the activity. That would be good for me. I don't really like it. And I find I go back to yesterday, my wife and I doing twenty six or seven miles or whatever it was through the Northern California Woodhill foothills and a hundred degree weather and and we were doing it on these road bikes. And I went decades, probably where I just pooh poohed the idea of getting on a road bike because I love running. And the more that I was enjoying the shared experience with my wife and the more we got out on the bike, the more that I really have learned to really embrace and enjoy that. But I'll tell you before the last probably six months or a year that I really enjoyed writing this road bike with my wife. If I went out on a bike ride, I felt like I know I should like this, but I really don't. Then I would feel like what's wrong with me? Where in reality, we need to start with, what do you enjoy? And if it isn't cycling, if it isn't running, what is it? Do you like the high intensity interval training? Do you like the bootcamp kind of classes? Because that might be the thing. And to me, those are, I don't know, they're a little bit terrifying because I.

[00:29:19] I'm not going to do them right. But the more I accept the fact that I don't have to do them more, it might be a little bit more willing to try or engage. But if I'm feeling like I have to like running or I have like cycling or have to like the camp of classes in my own brain is going to say, number one, I don't have to do anything. And then number two, I might be looking for more of these reasons why I don't connect with that group or I don't connect with that activity. So enjoying your work, enjoying your play, enjoying your hobbies, find the things that really matter to you. And I like that's where in this book, they talk about putting you in flow or feeling like this is something I'm really flowing with or I'm vibing with or I'm enjoying. So the last one that he talks about is take care of your body. And he says Loomba has a few subcategories, including getting regular exercise. Just talk about that learning to meditate and simply acting like a happy person going out of your way to smile and laugh, for example. So he says, go ahead and try it. Run around the house for 10 minutes and sit in the Lotus position for 10 minutes, then hold your face with a smile while you do it. That might be trying to get the best of all of those worlds in a very quick, very quick action.

[00:30:29] But taking care of your body and it isn't an all or nothing thing. I think too often we feel like we have to go completely and eat clean and exercise every day and do mindfulness and yoga. But we're definitely talking progress and not perfection when it comes to this sort of thing. If I could, I feel like I've already gone into enough detail and find exercise or activities that work for you. That's a great place to start. And I know for a while I was really talking about my acceptance and commitment therapy model that I embrace. It has led me to do far more push ups every day than I've ever done in my entire life. And I feel like that is a really good place to start. Is this concept of I went forever of saying, OK, do the one hundred pushups a day do a hundred push ups a day challenge or get the app about 100 pushups a day? There's websites about a hundred push ups a day and download the training guide that says, here's how you're going to get to the point where you can do a set of one hundred pushups. And I failed. I didn't complete that four years. And then the more I was embracing acceptance and commitment therapy and I was taking a look at what goals look like and the acceptance and commitment therapy realm.

[00:31:35] And instead of having the goal of even doing 100 pushups a day, instead, it was having a value of fitness and then push ups for being more of the vehicle. And so I went from feeling like I have to do one hundred a day. So if I found myself at some point in the day and I was far from doing one hundred and I would just kick the can down the road, well, I'll start tomorrow and if I forgot to do them tomorrow, then I might say, well, this week's out because it's already Tuesday or Wednesday, so I'll start again next Monday. That one sounds familiar. If I started to say, OK, I have a value of fitness and I just want to do something every day. Then in reality, it could be it could literally be five push ups. And I could say to myself, I accomplished that goal of taking action on my fitness every day. Now our brain is going to say only five push ups. It doesn't really matter. And that's where I love in the acceptance and commitment therapy world. We don't even argue with our brain on that that point, we can easily say. Very good point, brain, but not a productive thought toward my value based goal of doing something with fitness every day. So what happened there was I start doing OK, one set of 20 and one set of twenty five. Then as a client would leave my office, I would gently close the door, do maybe another set and then another set.

[00:32:48] And then it took a little longer than I thought. It took a few months for this to really change the deeply rooted neural pathways of my brain. The point of now, my path of least resistance is as a client is walking out the door, even if I can see the next client in the waiting room, I give them a little hate, be there in a minute and gently close the door and then do push ups. So now, instead of going years to where I could never figure out how to get myself to make it to at least one hundred a day now on a regular basis, we're doing 200 or 300. And so taking care of your body, first of all, finding the things that really matter to you. And then I believe it's often it's often better to just set a goal of doing some of that activity daily. And you may even only end up doing one pushup and your brain will say, we only did one. And that's where we get to say we're not even arguing that the goal was to do something every day because that we think in terms of black and white or all or nothing thinking. But we really need to learn to embrace a little bit more of that ambiguity or that gray area. So my gray area can be I could do some days where I do honestly forget or I'm rushed for time, and so I might have a session that goes a tiny bit longer than I had anticipated.

[00:33:58] And somebody else is right there waiting, and I know that they have a lot to process. And so there are times where I can say I'm setting the boundary, closing the door and doing a set of push ups and other times where I say what people do and people things, we're all human. And so I might only get 50 push ups done one day or maybe even twenty five. But over time, it's going to become more of this. Deeply rutted, narrow pathway of taking action on the things that really matter and that becomes the norm. So take care of your body, figure out what that looks like for you, whether it's running or biking or eating or in, or if it's a little bit of all the above and you're just introducing a little bit more each day of things that really matter to you. And I'll end with this. I talk about the concept of meditation and mindfulness often. But I'll just give it my speech in closing, and hey, look at this, I totally forgot to. If you are struggling with your mental health and it's hard to get in to see a counselor right now, which is the truth which I love, I love the concept or the idea that mental health, the stigma around taking care of your mental health is slowly dissipating.

[00:35:01] But the problem is it's dissipating across the entire world, and there aren't exactly enough therapists and counselors to go around. But you can find therapist and counselor online, and so go to virtual couch. You'll get 10 percent off your first month's treatment, and you can easily or quickly get matched up with a therapist that you maybe, maybe don't work on OCD or anxiety or depression or that sort of thing. And you can pick in the assessment process the type of therapist you're looking for, the kind of things that they practice and the things that you're dealing with, and they can make a good match for you for any reason. That's not a good match. It's really easy online to say, Hey, that wasn't a fit and help me find a new pair. So virtual couch, I would highly encourage you to go take a look at that. But mindfulness, if I can just leave with one one deep concept here of the process of mindfulness is not trying to clear your mind of thought. And I run into that so often where people say, Hey, I know I'm supposed to do mindfulness or meditation, but I just can't clear my head. I can't stop thinking about things. And that's where I often just want to say, Yeah, most people can't. I don't know people that can. The concept of mindfulness and mindfulness practice, and I don't get paid for this one.

[00:36:12] There is no affiliate program or that sort of thing, but I use the Headspace app and I try to use it as often as I can, and that might be three times a week. One week it might be five times a week the other week. And every now and again, we're pulling all seven days in a week. But the concept is is brilliant when you have this guided meditation experience, and I have this wonderful British guy named Andy talking me through the in through the nose out through the mouth breaths. What's that doing? It's starting to lower my heart rate, so it's removing that cortisol from my brain, that fight or that fight or flight response. First, the lesson or lower? And I get myself really in touch with my breathing. And what am I thinking about when I'm thinking about breathing in and saying the words in and breathing out and saying the words out in my brain that I'm not thinking about the things that I was thinking about. That makes sense. So I haven't stopped thought, but I brought myself back to the present moment and I'm thinking about my breath going in through my nose and out, through my mouth, through my mouth. Or you may start doing the end through the nose out through the mouth breathing. And then there will be silence on your meditation app and your brain will just start to go.

[00:37:18] It will start to pick up. You'll start to think and think and ruminate and wonder and worry. And then in the Headspace app and might say, OK, now I can do a little body. Feel your back against your chair, your butt against your seat, your feet on the ground. And so what are you doing? You're thinking about those things, not things that you were worried about ruminating about. So it's not trying to get rid of or clear your mind of all thoughts, but it's training your brain. We're talking good old muscle memory, your training your brain that when I start to find myself ruminating or worrying or trying to think my way out of a thinking problem that I can literally just get to the point where I can sit up straight in my mind. I'm already finding myself doing the breathing, and my heart rate is starting to lower and my cortisol levels are starting to recede. And the more you do that, the more your brain is looking out for you. So it knows when your heart rate is starting to elevate and you're starting to ruminate or worry that your brain already knows what's going to happen. It already says, Oh, this guy is going to bring himself back to the present pretty soon, so let's go ahead and start preparing that. And so even just that concept alone and help bring you back to the present moment far quicker than you ever even knew was possible.

[00:38:23] But it can take time to get to that point of practicing meditation, where your visceral response or your brain is literally out there thinking ahead, your emotions are out there ahead of your logic or your rational, rational thinking. So I highly encourage you to learn to meditate. And so today, what do we learn? The seven things do something nice for somebody else. Express gratitude on a regular basis. Cultivate an optimistic outlook on life. Avoid invidious social comparisons. Nurture your relationships, enjoy your work and take care of your body. And that's the seven of the scientifically supported steps to happiness, according to Douglas Kendrick, professor of social social psychology at Arizona State. And he's talking about the book by Estonia. Liam Risky, professor at the University of California Riverside and author of How Happiness A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. So I highly encourage you to go find Douglas Kendrick's blog on Psychology Today. I'll have a link to that, as well as the book How Happiness The Scientific Approach to Getting the Life We Want. All right, I hope you have an amazing week, and next week I already go find the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, and next week I have an interview with my daughter McKinley, who's coming back on the podcast, and it hasn't really, really kind of exciting things to follow up on. So until then, have an amazing week and I'll see you next time.

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