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Tony interviews Michael Rucker, Ph.D. In 2016, Michael experienced a series of serious setbacks that caused him to challenge the tools he had built over the previous two decades as a student of positive psychology. Ultimately finding himself “unhappy, a bit lonely, and burnt out,” Michael critically evaluated modern approaches to happiness. He quickly realized how much misinformation was being spread, and that caused Michael to spend the next few years researching the evidence-based practices that ultimately led him to discover the real way to “invite more fun and joy” into his life. Michael's book, “The Fun Habit: How the Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life,” https://amzn.to/3jAtln8 is the result of his journey. You can learn more about Michael at his website https://michaelrucker.com/

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Transcript

Tony: Okay. Mike Rucker, welcome to the Virtual Couch

Mike: Thank you so much for having me. 

Tony: Yeah, no, I appreciate you coming on, and this is the part where I think it's that funny thing where I go find your background and you've done so many things, so I'm going to sound like an egomaniac for 15 seconds, but I get a fair amount of people that want to come on the show with the publicists and promoting books and I can't lie, I don't read a lot of them because a lot of them, I'm a transformational meditative life coach who wants to help you get the best out of, you know, all this stuff. But man, right out of the gate, you had me sucked in because I'm a big fan of fun and then I responded right away, and then you were kind enough to send a galley copy of the book, and I just, I love it. And then I go on your website and realize, okay, you're throwing me a bone by coming on my podcast. So I really, I appreciate your reaching out. You've done a lot of pretty amazing things.

Mike: Thank you. No, I, and again, I'm grateful for just having the opportunity, but I appreciate that. 

Tony: And what I really like and I want to just kind of sit back and have you share your background because what I love is when people are going to hear all that you have gone through. I love that in your book, on your website, it sounds like, oh well you've got it made. You've kind of figured out life. And so I feel like, boy, you've got the experience to speak to the pursuit of just this happiness or joy or feel good feelings maybe isn't quite what it's panned out to be. 

Mike: I kind of generally jump into the story. Around 2007, I was introduced to Marty Segelman’s work. And for folks that don't know who that is, he's sort of the person that brought positive psychology to the forefront. It was really the grandfather of this concept called flow, that's commonly talked about but I was coming out of a mentorship program from a clinical psychologist by the name of Michael Jervey. He remains a trusted mentor to this day and was kind of focused on peak performance and thought, I hadn't done my academic work, my postdoctoral work yet, but was trying to figure out where did I want to put my dent in the universe? And around that time I was invited to become a charter member of the International Positive Psychology Association because that movement was really growing right between the years of 2007, 2009. And I just drank from that well, and a lot of those tools and strategies, kind of coupled with over quantifying my tactics, were really successful up until 2016. I love to talk about it. I love to use them, in the rear view mirror I can say I'd over optimized my life, but at the time it felt like it was a warm glove that I was doing everything right. And then what happened was in 2016, my younger brother suddenly passed away from a pulmonary embolism, and that just kind of knocked me on my butt. And so I had low level anxiety up to that point, but I had been able to mitigate it fairly well through endurance exercise. And so this next event doesn't correlate to my brother's death, but it was just a misfortune that happened in the same timeframe. I found out quite suddenly that I had advanced osteoarthritis probably due to an injury and would have to get a hip replacement. And because it was at such a young age that I couldn't ever run again. 

Tony: You're a two time Ironman.

Mike: So I did it, you know, sort of my own way. But yeah, I was able to complete two of them. I mean, I've really enjoyed the sport as an amateur. I think I've always kind of had that insight to really enjoy the activities that you're doing. Obviously I've brought science to the forefront in this book, the Fun Habit, but it was also a medicinal activity for me, right. I mean, I think it's certainly in my experience, been better for me to mitigate anxiety through exercise rather than pharmaceutical intervention. But that particular method that was really habituated in my life was taken away. 

Tony: I know that you and I don't know each other and I have to say, with my audience, and I feel like that's why they're going to appreciate this so much. I talk often, I'm an ultramarathon runner and a dozen or more hundred mile runs and that's been what I thought was my, who I was. And I tore my meniscus and it's shredded like chicken according to the surgeon. And so I've been processing this a lot, even with my own audience over the last two or three years, of not being able to get that and not even realizing what medicine that was, the ultra running and the endurance. So that's why I really appreciate what you're sharing there, because that's a big thing to take away when somebody used that as a coping mechanism. 

Mike: It's twofold, right? That we can both kind of empathize with each other is that one, it's this tool that was fairly successful and someone essentially took it out of our toolbox and smashed it in front of us, right? But then ultimately there's a big loss, right? Because that was, you know, what I've come to discover, I don't think I had this type of awareness back then, but what really lights us up, especially when we're not chasing happiness, is the connection to that activity, right? And so for me, I really did have a true love for running, not necessarily biking and swimming although I've been trying to develop that with cycling because I really do enjoy using my Peloton now as an alternative method. 

Tony: We are the same cloth, Mike. We have to do a whole separate podcast on that because I have, I have the padded shorts now, the whole nine yards. So that’s kind of funny.

Mike: Yeah, so, and then the third kind of piece was having, sorry. My wife got an opportunity that took us out of California. So we were born and raised, both her in Southern California and myself in Northern California. But all of our friends and family, our support network was there and she had just supported me through my doctoral work while having two children during that period. And so it's not like I look at relationships as, you know, that there's any sort of equity that you have to pay back, but certainly, I did feel indebted for her having my back. And she got this job opportunity in North Carolina and that moved us away from friends and family and so, to make a long story short, I still wanted all these tools of positive psychology to be successful because I had in the past, and the more I tried to chase happiness, the less happier I was becoming, and I didn't understand why. And serendipitously through that period, there was emerging research. One researcher that I always quote, her name's Dr. Oursmouse, out of Cal Berkeley, but there's others. But her studies have been replicated, is that, especially in the western world, folks that are overly concerned with being happy. So not necessarily valuing happiness, right? I think all of us want people to be happy and flourish. That's not problematic at all. So I'm, I always try to be clear about that distinction, but folks that are overly concerned, so the metaphor or the illustration I like to use, and it applied to me at that time is that you see happiness over in the horizon and you identify where you are and you see the delta, the space in between the two. And you allow that space to start to bleed into your identity, right? Like, well, happiness is over there. And even though you're doing things actively to try and get there, you always see the space. You start to perseverate on the space. And that subconsciously starts to help you identify as being unhappy and you don't understand why, to the point if you believe the research that it can actually lead to mental illness.

Tony: Which I do agree and it's funny because I feel like that, I'll be happy if, or I'll be happy when I like that example because that I'll be happy when is always on the horizon. And in the cases where somebody gets there, well, I'll be happy when I make six figures, but then they get there and, okay, that must not be it. I need a million bucks, so I'll be happy when the kids are out of the house. So I'll be happy when I have six pack abs. So I like what you're saying because in your book you talked about we're so good at anticipating, I mean, is that part of that?

Mike: Yeah. Anticipating, adapting and comparing, and that's exactly it. In literature we call that the hedonic treadmill. But I'm at, you're spot on. The idea is if you believe evolutionary science, and I, I think, they make a sound point. We weren't meant to be in that state all the time because if we were, we would be satiated and bored and kind of lazy. And so those tools psychologically are meant to motivate us into certain behaviors. Now, once we become mindful of it, and get kind of, you know, figure out how to navigate our monkey mind we can have better control, right? But when you're sort of lost in that sea, it can become extremely problematic. And that's what happened to me. 

Tony: I'm curious, does that research, because I want to interview her now. Because I'd love that in the ACT research I love, they talk about the brain as essentially a don't get kill device. And so it wasn't designed to seek pleasure all the time. And I like to make the joke of, we had to have a court jester. I mean, they used to have to literally have somebody come in and hey, right, five minutes, be happy. And if he wasn't good at it, they'd kill him. And so, I mean, that just is not our default. And then I feel like when we go to rest, our brain goes to worst case scenario. And I like what you're saying. I feel like in evolutionary biology, they talk about that because if we don't anticipate danger, then we're going to all of a sudden walk around a corner and there's gonna be a saber tooth tiger to kill us. So our default goes back to this negative. 

Mike: Yeah. No one's given me the prompt to really jump deep into the weeds and so, I'll be careful here not to do that too much. And I say that to the end of the book because it is kind of sticky, and also not an area where I have an immense amount of expertise. But I was fascinated by the fact that almost all of our biological symptoms, that is the number one goal. And why that becomes problematic means that even from a psychological standpoint, we never want to accept that. And so, yes, the reason why I had to kind of back into that is that if we do and use the limited finite component of time as a motivational tool, it becomes extremely effective. Everyone that has an intimate sort of relationship with knowing that we have a finite time here on earth essentially changes the way they live because they look at everything as an opportunity. Right? Where the treadmill metaphor becomes problematic is we sort of think that the treadmill is never going to end. And that is really, our modus operandi right now with our brain, because our brain doesn't want to think we're going to die again. Every system is meant to sort live, you know, avoid death. 

Tony: Okay. Can I stay in the weeds with you? Because I've never talked about this out loud, but one of the things that broke my brain for a minute is in the book, there's Sapiens and there's one called Homo Deus by the same author.

Mike: Oh my gosh, Sapiens is hands down what changed my life. 

Tony: Have you read the follow up? 

Mike: I haven't yet, it's been recommended, but with Sapiens, because I know you're going to get into it, but just in case we had a divergent path for me where I woke up was because I was kind of lost, from a spiritual standpoint and in some other ways as well. And when you get done with Sapiens, you know, I'm not one of those Elon Musk types that believe we live in a matrix. But you do realize that every social norm in our lives that kind of dictates the way we operate was made by man. You believe that book like, holy cow, money is fake, government and corporations are fake. You know, maybe God exists as a universal law. But religion and dogma around it are made up, and then you're just like, every single thing that's not tangible, has essentially been created by us. And you can start to then figure out the rules.

Tony: No, it's so good. And I will absolutely keep all this in because, and then I think some of the people are going to think, okay, and then we need to go watch YouTube to see if they put on tin foil hats at this point. And we're not, because I feel like if you want the, you know, I went from Sapiens to one called On Being Certain, and that one's another one where he is like, hey, our brain seeks and craves certainty, and that's why we ruminate and fixate on things and how adorable that is because we have to accept the fact that maybe there isn't certainty and he goes into challenging the way that our brain works and remember things and so we need to stop ruminating and thinking and just start doing. And he has this comment where he says, basically we're 3 billion neurons walking around just reacting to things and trying to make sense of it. But we think it's the other way around. I'm going to make sense of things and then do, and so. Then I'm in a full blown existential crisis, you know? But then eventually you'll land the plane with man. Then Deus comes around, Homo Deus and the part that broke my brain, Mike, was he said, eventually we are gonna solve death, that's the next frontier that people are trying to do in the brand new world. And he talked about, I think he even said Google, 20% of their funds are going into companies that are trying to extend death. And it freaked me out a little bit when he said something like, I think people, I don't know how old you are, I'm 53. So we might be the last generation that gets old is the way he's proposing it. But then he said this thing that blew my mind where he is like, but if all of a sudden death didn't matter, then people wouldn't really live. So I like what you're saying, because then he said if leaving your house was a chance you would die and now you're going to miss out on, who knows, thousands of years? And I all of a sudden think of that movie Wally, where we're all just sitting in these chairs and having virtual reality experiences. Because I don't want to go outside because I might get hit by a truck or that kind of thing. And so, and I couldn't understand what he was saying at first, but I think it's exactly what you're saying, where the fact that we know we will die is our opportunity to live and then I'm back, then I'm out of my existential crisis. And now let's do it. Right? 

Mike: Yeah. I think going back to neuroscience, that pair as well, I'm a big fan of Lisa Feldman Barrett, and what she's been able to do is make a strong case that we're not cause and effect beings, we're more predictive beings because I think, I believe that's true. Yeah. It becomes really true when you look at how dopamine was positioned and how wrong we were. Right? Dopamine isn't a pleasure chemical. It's really an excitement chemical. We know that dopamine gets released, you know when we anticipate that. And so once you figure that out, and that's like, we're having a lot of fun here. So for me, yeah, I love to build systems, right? I still like to kind of understand my world. And again, that's why Sapiens was so interesting, like wow if you figure out how the rules were developed, then maybe you figure out the map but then can start to explore the territory as a work. So I paired that with something completely outta context, Annie Duke's work, with regards to predictions and that, how once you start to place good bets, if we are predictive machines, then let's look at our choices through the realm of probability rather than our anxious minds, which have both kind of shared, you know, where it's like, I think this is going to happen. No, there's a spectrum of things that can happen and let's plan for the ones that have a high probability. And that's really helped me.

Tony: I love it. I know this is so good I think my audience is going to resonate with this, Mike, because I feel like this is the stuff I just talk about incessantly on when I have my individual episodes or so I'm, grateful for you going on this path because I feel like once the, it goes back to that paradox of I feel like the whole mental health industry, and that's what I'm in, is almost, we're teaching the opposite of what feels natural. And I think it goes back to, because what feels natural is the brain saying, hey, I'll do, I'll just keep doing the same thing because at least I know what that feels like. And I can live, but in reality, you know, and that's where we keep putting everything off till later and later. And eventually I like what you're saying, what it feels like to be me is I'll do it later. And eventually I didn't do it. 

Mike: I think another thing that I've stumbled on, I'm still struggling a little bit to say it in an eloquent fashion. But I think especially your audience sort of understands psychology and probably to some degree psychiatry, is that we know that any of these interventions to some degree some work faster than others. And obviously benzos might work in real time. But for a majority of effective interventions, they take time. We need to build this health equity, right? And so an argument I make in the book, but it's not an as salient sort of bullet point way. You know, when you start to index fun activities, things that really light you up and where you're able to understand and actualize that you have some agency and autonomy even in a state where you might be in negative valence, which just is a fancy way of being in a bad mood, those become the building blocks, right? Those start to have an additive effect. And unfortunately, you're never going to be able to say in that day, this didn't really make me happy because it really is a long body sort of initiative. It’s a long game.

Tony: It is long, can I read, are you familiar with a book called The Buddha Brain by a guy named Rick Hanson? 

Mike: I’m not familiar.

Tony: And my audience will probably go, I can repeat this with my memory, but he says, as much as the body is built from foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences you have, the flow of experience, gradually sculpting your brain, thus shaping your mind but he says, some of the results can be explicitly recalled, like, this is what I did, this is how I felt, but most of it remains forever unconscious. And that's called implicit memory. And I think it's exactly what you're talking about. He said, include your expectations, models of relationships, emotional tendencies, general outlook. It establishes the interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you based on the, and this is the part that I feel like is not a good sales pitch, the slow accumulating residue of lived experience. So it turns out it takes a while to create that interior landscape, but it can be one way or the other.

Mike: Yeah. I think, you know, again, kind of geeking out on it, we're starting to understand from learning models that all of this is really a way to coalesce very nonlinear ideas. Right? And so through the act of neuroplasticity, which was really looked at more as a way to build cognitive reserve or cognitive decline. But what has it advanced in folks that are studying that is like, wow, over time these neural networks really are way more complex than we ever thought, right? Like, there are regions of the brain that act as biology landmarks, but we now know that all of them have a synergistic sort of method of working together and everything is way more interconnected than we thought. I mean, we're really geeking out now, so outside the realm of the book. But it is neat. I got to talk to this amazing neuroscientist for the book. His name is Blake Porter. And another thing that blew me away are these neurochemicals that we often talk about that do have an immense amount of influence on how we perceive the world are also used for a host of other things.

Tony: Do you talk about oxytocin? I mean, is that one of them? Because I don't know enough about it, I just know it's called the cuddle hormone but is that one of them that we don't understand enough about? I didn't mean to cut you off.

Mike: Well I think we're starting to understand it more. The context of what I'm going to share applies to that as well. It does a lot more than we talk about with regards to reduction is science, right? So we'll say yeah, more serotonin is supposed to make us happy. And you know, there was just an interesting paper in nature that refutes that. And I think you have really smart people and the truth is probably in the middle, right? Another thing is these neurochemicals have a huge impact on our stomach and the way we digest things. That's often why folks that are on SSR eyes either lose weight or gain weight, and we don't necessarily know what's going to happen because it's, you know, this is, so, we're so in the weeds right now. But what I'm saying is that all of this does tend to have these big synergistic effects and they will be specific to your biology. So that's where things get really heady, right. We talk about it like, hey, you do this and this is going to happen, but that's rarely the case. 

Tony: Right. So I love more psychological flexibility or flow like you're talking about. So, here's what I'll do, man let's just have an episode down the road and we will just, Mike and Tony geek out. So, I won't be able to promote the book because I really enjoyed the book. So you're in North Carolina, I think is where I probably took you down a rabbit hole.

Mike: So essentially what I discovered was that, again, chasing happiness is problematic, right? And so, once that was validated through the research that I was finding, and then I self actualized like, holy cow, I’m my own worst enemy with regards to what's happening to me. I was like, well, there's gotta be something I can do, right? And so I had just finished up work on workplace wellness and I realized that one of the biggest levers with regards to wellbeing, which is well studied in the workplace, but not necessarily at the individual level is autonomy, right? Is the ability of giving employees more control over the domain. And I said, well, if that's the case, how can that be applied to the south? Because, and once I started to dig in, there's a lot of research to suggest that as adults we do habituate our lives. We do think that, you know, we begin to lose control and then also, especially here in the west, we're sort of driven by the sense of duty. You know, there are various reasons for that. Some people believe it's sort of a relic of the puritan work ethic. Our lives have gotten extremely more complex because when we lived in a time where work was primarily algorithmic, meaning that we made things and we sort of understood what was desired by us and we knew when our workday ended, we could have this transition ritual and really enjoy our leisure time. Like, work is over, and now I get to play. And we know that play and that type of leisure is extremely important to keep up our vitality. And so what I kind of realized is, holy cow, we have completely forsaken our agency and autonomy. Let me experiment with what happens if I take that back because I want to live a joyful life and that was sort of, you know, I always kind of positioned as the light bulb, but it was more of a slow awakening. Right? You know, over time I started to take control of one hour, two hours and go. I'm not trying to solve for happy here. You know, these aren't things that I have to do. Let me celebrate that. I get to do them. And so instead of sort of trying to unpack what was wrong and be stuck in these periods of introspection and trying to solve something, I just went out and started enjoying time with my friends. And I know as simple as that sounds, it had these huge impacts and so that's where I think people are really resonating with the book because again, it's something that someone can really do, within five minutes if they sort of need to understand how complex the barriers are to get there because we don't like change a lot of the time. We habituate our behavior. Adding new things often times becomes difficult. And so a lot of times the work that people need to do right up front is actually figure out what they can take off their plate first and need that space.

Tony:  And I love, I talk about when somebody will do that, they'll get the little dopamine bump of okay, but then I say, now listen to all the “Yeah, Buts” that come in. Well, yeah, but I need to do this. Or, yeah. But somebody well thinks I shouldn't or, so I'll do it later. I'll figure it out later. And then later.

Mike: No, that's exactly right. I think especially as busy adults, we'll fill our time if we're not deliberate about it. And so taking that type of control, again, as simple as it sounds, nobody really does this. But once you've freed up your schedule, actually schedule it. We've been sort of socially conditioned that our calendars are immutable, but they're primarily filled with work obligations or, for parents, oftentimes children's obligations. Like make it an obligation to reconnect with one of your best friends or to do an activity that you know, really lights you up. And then, another thing that becomes problematic and again, it goes back to this concept that I'm trying to figure out how to package to say more eloquently, but it is really this issue of equity, right? So one of the constructs that I think becomes difficult for especially parents, is this idea that oh, I can't do anything on a school night because that's just not how people do things, right? Like, no, you can go take dance classes Wednesday night, that's okay. And yeah, and once you're able to do that, there are two things that happen, right? One, it often comes from a place of guilt, but like, I won't be there for my kids. Well, were you there for your kids when you were so exhausted that you popped down on the couch and watched two hours of Netflix, that wasn't really time spent with your kids? So either be honest about that and actually spend time with your kids. Or realize that you're not doing anything restorative. Like essentially oftentimes when people do, sort of plop down on the couch, they're also on their phones. So it really just becomes an extension of work anyways. And so, changing out those types of activities is something that really lights you up and is completely separate from your sense of duty, starts to build more vitality into your life. The problem is you need to do it for like two or three weeks. So that's kind of the second hump, right? You don't actualize the benefit, but that time that you thought would burn you out, but I'll be so tired at work on Thursday, that's just not empirically true.

Tony: Okay. I'm glad you said that. Because I feel like that's a, yeah, but, and I feel like when people are saying, but I, but I am, but I am tired. And that's where sometimes I feel like it's so hard to get somebody to self confront with that.

Mike: Yeah just try it, right? Yeah. Self experiment, but you gotta do it for two to three weeks. Change is difficult. We create, you've discussed this, at least in the episodes that I've heard, about the issues of cognitive load, right? And so you add that extra burden, the change is going to be difficult at first, the storming, norming, forming process, you know, joining a new group. So all of it's going to seem kind of uncomfortable, especially for introverts. But that doesn't necessarily mean you don't do it.

Tony: No, I love that. I like what you're saying. I call it my emotional baseline theory where, you know, when your baseline's low, you're going to respond to everything different, but all the stuff's still coming at you and self care raises your baseline and you show up different. And so I think what you said a minute ago, I so appreciate where if somebody's sitting on the couch, they, they're not, are they being honest with themselves about what they're doing with their time? And 100% love what you say, because if I took that time and did something that raises my baseline, then I actually show up better as a parent, or whatever that looks like. And people all of a sudden need permission to do it, which I think is kind of interesting and that's why I think that concept gets brought up a lot. And I think your book is like a giant thing of permission, you know? Because you look at your background and then your experience and that's why I got kind of excited about this.

Mike: No, I think that's right. And so what I'll suggest to someone that you know is showing a lot of resistance against that is, look, there's 168 hours in the week, just pick one. Because changing out one hour isn't difficult, right? And if someone really wants to do the work, a time audit is an amazing sort of illuminating activity. Again, 168 hours like that is, it's not that fun to do. I admit that, but you know, if you can approach it with a level of curiosity, you are always amazed that, oh my goodness, I have habituated this behavior. Time is this really rubbery thing. Right. And it becomes interesting where you don't realize you're wasting time. Because when you're in those moments that aren't really encoding new memories, they just fly by. It's not flow by any sense, but when we reminisce back on them, they kind of get condensed as one memory. So we actualize them in a really strange manner where, where you think, we're kind of led to believe through cognitive error that , oh, I'm just passing time. Where when you start to encode richer experiences, those are the things that start to light you up because now you have a whole tapestry of really cool stuff. And the thing is, this might be worth the people that kind of kept with us during the weed part. The fact that we now know that the brain is a predictive, more than a cause and effect, that allows us to make better predictions. Like, I know I'm going to have fun, so I want to do the thing. Rather than that prediction like, well, this is not going to be that great, so I'm just not going to do it, it kind of falls into Carol Dweck's work, right, with regards to the problematic aspect of a fixed mind.

Tony: I'm reading one called the Expectation Effect right now, and it has some crazy stories about the expectation in our mind. As a prediction engine, they have one amazing one where a guy was taking placebo in a drug trial. And then he didn't know he had the placebo, didn't know how the drug trial worked. And he went into a coma because he overdosed. And so he's blacking out. He gets to the hospital, they break the double blind study and then the doctor says, you're okay. It's like sugar pills. And then he is okay. So I thought, man, look at how powerful the brain is. Where this guy takes 30 m and ms basically, and then he is ready to stroke out. And then until somebody tells him, that really wasn't medication. I mean that, that power of the brain in that way. So, man, if we can tap that into, I'm going to have a good time. I mean, it's kind of crazy. 

Mike: Yeah. The one that fascinates me,  I think I got access to it in Daniel Pink's Drive, but I could be wrong. Is that story about the study in the UK where they pulled a bunch of teachers within the class that the kids were all gifted even though they were average students. And then, and then all of a sudden, by the end of the year, they were all exceptional students. I mean, you know, this stuff is just so profound and, you know, I wish we used it more.

Tony: Well, is it on your website? I can't remember if you talked about it in your book or the website, but you've got some new activity is it every month or quarter? And you're again, intentionally just doing things, which, even if they aren't things that you have a passion for. I mean, is that part of what this is about.

Mike: It's not part of the book. It's something interesting I did in 2007 and I did it just because I like to kind of create these systems as I discussed before. I guess it was more radical than I initially believed. Like for me, I just wanted to continually keep my saw sharp. I think I might have just read Steve and, you know, I was like, oh, let me come up with something simple where the bar is low enough, I know I'll do it. And so I committed for 25 years to interview two people a quarter, do something kind of out of my comfort zone or fun every quarter, and then donate time and money, the idea there was I wanted to give one year of my life back. And so, I initially did it with just friends and family, as a way to commit to it, you know, like, hey, I'm going to email you every three months and let you know how it's going and I'm halfway through now. And I guess a lot of people are finding value in that story because they're like, you know, for me it was just a simple system, and obviously just doing a few things every three months isn't hard. But again, it goes back to that topic of equity, right? Like I guess now that I have stuck with it and I'm halfway through and gotten to talk to over a hundred amazing people, that's certainly been enriching, you know?  I've had a lot of fun along the way too, because of these prompts to do that, you know? 

Tony: Yeah. I apologize because I took you in the weeds so long that we only have a couple more minutes left for me but, I mean, I couldn't endorse the book enough and I'll have links to everything. And I want you to come back on and I'm going to, I had reached out to Mike before and I want him, I want to try to make him laugh. So we're going to do that as well but where do people find you, and kind of share all of your information cuz , your website alone was really fun as well. I mean, you got a nice, I like the video of the analogy going down the river and the boat. I mean that one really spoke for me. There's just a lot of good info. Yeah. So where do people find you? 

Mike: So my website is michaelrucker.com. The book, the Fun Habit, is available for pre-order now unless you're listening to this after January 3rd, 2023. And then it's available for sale wherever you enjoy buying books. And I play a little bit on social media, perform better on Twitter and the Wonder of Fun on Instagram.

Tony: Okay. All right, Mike, are you ready? 

Mike: I don't, like I said, I'm the worst joke teller which is ironic. 

Tony: Well, the name of the book though. Fun. I mean, so, right, but no pressure here. And I just think this is fun because I have a, I talk about humor as a value and one of the big things that I've enjoyed is even when I first was a therapist, I thought, well, I have to be a real therapist and I can't be funny or crack jokes. And then I thought that was going against what my values are and then the more, yeah, I use humor every now and again somebody will say it's silly and I kind of don't care. Not in a bad way, you know.

Mike: No, I mean, I have got dug into the lack of research for obvious reasons and it's so interesting how many benefits there are to it. I mean laughing yoga is there for a reason.

Tony: I didn't know that. I didn't know that was a thing. 

Mike: Yeah. And it's not just hokey, I mean, again, there's some good, it's not just an anecdotal practice. So anyways, I'll do my best. 

Tony: Okay. So, I'll go first. I'll try to make you laugh, and trust me, these are not, now I feel pressure because they're not hilarious jokes, but you know, I feel like the pressure of, okay. I'll do two, two of them. Okay man. Now I feel pressure to find a good one. Here we go, alright, Mike Rucker, try not to laugh. My dad unfortunately passed away when we couldn't remember his blood type. His last words to us were, be positive.

Mike: Not gonna work. My wife's B positive, so. 

Tony: Okay. That was good. You're good. All right. Right. Here we go. Okay. Okay. I'm gonna try one more time. You might be the first person to then not laugh, and that was hilarious. Here we go. All right. Mike Rucker. Try not to laugh. I lost my job at the bank on my very first day. A woman asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over. 

Mike: All right, you got me. 

Tony: Oh, no. I think that you were, that was a courtesy laugh. Okay, here we go. All right, I'm ready. 

Mike: So this one's a little bit provocative, but I know you have a background in MFT, so, and I usually use this one to cheer up my friends that are going through a really tough time. Again, it's meant to be with levity, not meant to be sharp. Okay. Why is divorce so expensive? 

Tony: Well, I don't know this one.

Mike: Because it's worth it.

Tony: Just coughing.

Mike: That's my best one. 

Tony: Okay, great. Absolutely done with levity, of course, as a world renowned marriage therapist, that, you know, that's great. 

Mike: Are the edges sharp enough? This isn't, this is too on pc, but I figured, you know, it's good. It's good. 

Tony: That clip might not go in as in the reel of announcing my magnetic marriage course. No, but. But it might go on my Waking up to Narcissism podcast, you know? So you never know.  

Mike: Do you want the dumb dad one that it was? Where is happiness made? At the satisfactory.

Tony: I don't know. Okay. That's, I, I like those jokes. I'm not gonna lie. So that was pretty good. Mike, what a pleasure. And, and this will go out before January, so people pre-order the book. I mean, I have it, and it really is, it's really good. I really enjoy it, but your website has a lot of good stuff there, and so I recommend people sign up for your newsletter and there's a lot that, and you've got a little mini course there as well, right?

Mike: Yeah, yeah. Anyone that signs up will get access to that for sure.

Tony: Okay, cool. Okay. And then I would love to talk to you again down the road. All right. Thanks a lot, Mike. Thank you. 

Tony is the interviewee on Michaela Renee Johnson's "Be You Find Happy" podcast. From the show notes on Michaela's episode, "Ha, got your attention. If you're asking yourself that you're probably not, but you might be in a relationship with someone who is "less emotionally mature." It seems narcissism is on the rise but is it? More and more people are waking up to toxic relationships no doubt and leaving one of these relationships in the words of Doctor Ramani is like "hugging a porcupine, you've got to do it carefully."

In this episode, you'll get to meet Tony Overbay, a marriage and family therapist who helps couples and families who are Waking Up To Narcissism (podcast) and the Virtual Couch (podcast). You'll walk away with insights and tangible tips on how to move forward in this."

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Quotes

#1- “When a healthy, emotionally mature person like you in this scenario is now able to do, and be, and grow, and flourish, guess who now can also give their kid a secure attachment and external validation? It's the healthy parent.” -Tony

#2- “It's really interesting to see how people think they're doing something for the kids, or they think they're doing something for the right reasons. And maybe that's the necessary reason, but there's always another option.” -Michaela

#3- “I've come to realize when people do extract themselves out of these relationships, they flourish. You're talking about that loss of sense of self, and it's after you deal with the loss of time, right? Because that's a big thing. And sense of self, that's a big thing. Then you start to see them doing amazing things that were probably hopes and dreams that they'd had for years that they didn't allow themselves space to do at all. Or, they weren't allowed space because they were threatened or you know, et cetera.”  -Michaela

#4- “It's normal to find this codependency and this enmeshment. But then when we start going through life and we start having jobs, and kids, and opportunities, and loss, and growth, now all of a sudden, of course two people are going to start to have two different experiences. And so in an emotionally mature relationship, they're going to both be able to express them and explore those emotions. That is going to be where growth will occur.” -Tony

#5- “‘What is the intention?’ It's a question that I have to ask myself frequently while migrating through various different relationships because I feel like sometimes it's this interesting juxtaposition of trying to allow myself the freedom of expression and feeling that I'm having, and not gaslighting my own emotions.” -Michaela 

#6- “I spent 12 years of my life fixing myself to fit into a mold that was never good enough. That was my story. And I allowed it. Why? And then I think, okay, in what ways do I need to ‘unself’ help, but in what ways do I need to continue to self-help to grow from this experience?” -Michaela 

#7- “I feel like we can all take ownership of ways or places that we’re emotionally immature. And that's what I love about the highly sensitive person or the empath who finds themselves in this trauma bond or this, they call it,  human magnet syndrome with a narcissist or a severely emotionally immature person. The nice person almost inevitably thinks, wait a minute, am I the narcissist? My number one rule is no. Because you literally asked yourself the question which means you're not.” -Tony

Tony breaks down Douglas Kenrick, PhD's article "7 Scientifically Supported Steps to Happiness," https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/202109/7-scientifically-supported-steps-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 http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic

#happiness #science #therapy #virtualcouch #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

--------------------- TRASNCRIPT --------------------

[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 Betterhelp.com 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 Betterhelp.com 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.

Tony shares why values are so important, and how a thought truly is simply a thought...thoughts do not always lead to action. He also describes the most effective thing to do when you're feeling down, lonely, anxious, depressed, or any other feeling. You can find Russ Harris' values worksheet here https://psychwire.com/harris/resources

--------------- TRANSCRIPT ---------------

[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to take, I don't know, 300, 400 of this morning's episode of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am very calm and being very present now as I have continued to ruin and take after take of simply trying to say hi, how are you doing? As I have been distracted or had a coughing fit or had to clear my throat or literally then forgot what to say. So this time I am determined to stay the course. So welcome aboard. Welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch. And today we're going to talk about values. I talk about values so much that if I look at there was my throat again, I swear to you, I could I could stop right now and start over again. But instead, watch this. I'm going to pause. Well, that was a good one. I just cleared my throat like nobody's business. But I talk often about values. And probably now the most consistent email I receive is can you give me a link to this values worksheet that I talk about often? That is by my favorite author, Ross Harris, who is author of The Happiness Trap and the Confidence Gap and Act, made simple all of these amazing acceptance and commitment therapy books. And I have a little copy and paste there. So if you if you want to, you can reach out contacted Tony Overbay dot com or go through the website and I'll send you a link.

[00:01:31] But you can also find the link on site Wired.com. You can find it in under additional resources. But I talk so often about values and the importance of finding your values, determining your values, that that really guides you in the direction that you need to be. That I really wanted to go through and take a look at what that looks like when you're trying to find or figure out what your values are because they're significant. Let me let me kind of go over that again. So when you find out or determine what your values are, those start to point you in a direction, a new direction of where you want to go with your behaviors, where you want to go with your thoughts, and even just trying to figure out what your values are or what's important to you is a pretty mind blowing experience. Here's why. It may sound like you already kind of know what matters to me, but do you when I have clients in my office one on one, one of the first things I like to do is go over this values checklist, because so often our values that we think are important to us are really things that are carried over from our parents or from our teachers at school or from a neighbor or from our siblings or from our religious community. And they're those things that we feel like we are supposed to care about are supposed to do.

[00:02:38] And what I think is fascinating, when you do a deep dove on your own personal values is that they're very unique and personable, personable, personal to you because of all of the experiences that you've gone through in life. And I've probably said this so many times that it gets old for somebody that's listening to a lot of my episodes. But let's just take a look at honesty. For example, if you grew up in a home where your parents, one or both were brutally honest to the point of where they said, you absolutely look horrific and what you're wearing, or today when you gave a talk in church, I can't even believe that I call you my kid, which those are very real examples that I hear on a fairly regular basis of people growing up saying, well, you know, at least I knew where they stood, that my parents were honest, but oftentimes it came with a cost of that person's self-esteem or their confidence. So if you grew up in a home where people had this brutal honesty, then you may not have a value of that absolute brutal honesty. You may have more of a value of compassion, or if you have a value of connection with others, then you may say, I think you look pretty good, or I think that not that talk was was great.

[00:03:47] I love this part where you said this one thing, this story that you told that was fantastic because it might not be in your nature. It may not be a value of yours to then tell somebody really what you think, what you think deep down in your soul about what they look like right now or what they're wearing. And I'm not saying there's any good or bad or any right or wrong value. That's the fascinating thing about values. They just are they're there because of all the experiences that you've gone through as a kid. You know, if somebody has some deep abandonment or attachment issues in their life, then they may really have this value of connection. They desperately want to connect with people, but they may not know how. So sometimes just identifying and accepting that you have this deep value of connection with others, that that becomes a really important direction to guide your life. So if you have this value of connection, but then you are afraid that you may not know what to say in a particular moment, then that I'm worried. I may not know what to say in a particular moment becomes this story that your brain is telling you and you then hook to this story. If used this story, you believe this story, even though it's just a story, it's just a thought in your head, and then that keeps you from trying to connect with others.

[00:04:56] So it's so important to determine what your values are. So in that scenario, let's say that you really have this deep core value of connection with others. But again, you're afraid you're afraid that you might say something silly, that you might stumble on your words, that they might not think that you're smart. And so let's say that you are. Going into a new environment, you were starting a new job or you're heading off to school and now you have this opportunity to talk to people or connect with people, that's at your core. That is your deepest desire and value in life is to connect with others. So you think I'm going to go talk to those people then? And that gives you a little bit of a bump of dopamine. You get pretty excited about it, but then just take a pause and watch all those stories that your brain tells you. Your brain starts to say, I don't. They're going to like you, you know, or you haven't had a lot of success with this in the past. So why is this going to be any different? So if you believe or buy into any of those stories, then guess what? You don't have to go try and connect with that person. And if we just take a step back again, your brain is kind of wired for survival and survival at a real primitive level.

[00:05:57] Your brain wants the path of least resistance. It knows what the current situation looks like. It knows what it looks like or feels like to say, I'll try to talk to somebody later. It knows what it feels like to say, I'll sit this one out. But what it is afraid of is this fear of if I go over there and make a fool out of myself, then things might actually be worse. And that's going to that's going to require a lot of emotional calories and energy. And I might not get a payoff for it. So your brain saying, hey, how about we sit this one out again? Is this concept of experiential avoidance? I'll find other things to do right now. You know, I'm going to I want to do my laundry. I'm going to I'm going to just watch a few more videos on YouTube or open up the Tick Tock app or something like that. And tomorrow tomorrow I'm going to connect with those people. I mean, how many times do you say that to yourself? That I'm to do it later or even in the grand scheme of things? I'm going to do it when the kids are out of the home. I'm going to do it when we're in a better financial situation. I'm going to do it when I have lost a little bit of weight or any of those type of things.

[00:06:56] So we're designed to just kick that can down the road to put things off. So as soon as we identify what our values are now, we start to take action toward our values or activities based on our values. And your brain is still going to try to talk you out of it. But at least now we have a direction to go and that's where we can really do some good work. So if I'm going to start moving toward a connection with somebody but my brain says you may not know what to say or they might not think that you are very smart at this point, then we're not even trying to argue that. We're saying, OK, all right. I appreciate your warning brain. You mean well, but that isn't a very workable or that isn't a very productive thought toward my Value-Based Goal of connection. That's why the identifying of values becomes so important. So I wanted to walk you through what that looks like when you pull up this values list. So this values list from the sites like Wired.com says, a quick look at your values. And right in front of me, I have the 60 value version. And the reason I picked that one, they have a 60 value version and a 40 value version. Alfonsin clients the 40 value version, but the 60 value version has a really nice explanation. At the top, it says, values are your heart's deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being.

[00:08:06] Values are not about what you want to get or achieve. They're about how you would want to behave or act on an ongoing basis, how you want to treat yourself or others or the world around you. And I feel like there's some real significance there. The significance in that values are not about how they're not what you want to get or achieve. They're about how you want to behave or act. And I was doing a little bit of a values exercise or values workshop that I found. And I found this through a training that I was doing. And I'll have a link to this, but I am drawing a blank. You can see me stumble here on trying to figure out or remember who the author was that provided this worksheet. And I will find that I feel so bad. But she said that values clarification worksheet. She said, before you begin to identify your values, remember that they're unique to each one of us and you get to choose them. And you may have learned your values, like we said earlier, from your family, your community culture, your country, your religious or spiritual traditions or your friends. However, you are not required to share values with them. And I think that's so important and is so is so simply and easily and wonderfully stated that just because your parents value something or your religious community values something, that doesn't mean that you have to value that thing.

[00:09:22] You value what you value again because of your experiences. And so when she says, however, you're not required to share values with them, values are typically going to elicit one or more of these following feelings, a sense of purpose or vitality or connection or contentment, fulfillment, warmth or meaning. And if you don't feel at least one of those things, it's most likely not a core value of yours. And she says, include all aspects of what's important to you, all shades of you, values that are similar and values that are in contrast to one another. And I think that's important. You can have a value of compassion, but you could also have a value of authenticity or you could have a value of justice, even though you also have a value of connection. And some of those can seem like they are conflicting values. And we'll talk about that here in a little bit. Values, and this is why I brought this up. She talks about values being like directions that they can't be achieved. So if you can get it or you can have it. And it's not likely a value, so if we're talking about money, if my if people want to say I have a value of getting rich, then that that really isn't a value.

[00:10:20] That might be a goal. That might be a direction to go, but it's not a core value if you can get it. If I become rich, you know, whatever that looks like, then it's not really a value I could have a value of being authentic, a value of cooperation, a value of courage, value of fairness, a value of fitness or flexibility. And we'll talk about those. But really ask, what about this particular value or what about this thing is important to me. And here was the part that I thought was so brilliant. She talked about no core values, that values don't necessarily exist in a hierarchy of most important to least important, that it really boils down to the context of the moment. And in that context or moment, that will really determine what value is the most workable for you to focus on or the most productive for you to focus on. And we'll talk about that will give some examples here. So I want to I want to challenge you if you right now have no idea what your values are. Of course, I would like for you to get this worksheet or that I'm talking about and have a link to it in the show notes so you can email me and I'll look for you even to start to think about what really matters most to you, what really gives you this sense of meaning or purpose or connection or fulfillment.

[00:11:26] And then watch your brain immediately say, but yeah, but here's why this wouldn't work for me or here's why. And those are all just your brain. Bless its little pink, squishy heart, trying to protect you or trying to just keep you safe or trying to make sure that you don't make a fool out of yourself or you don't embarrass yourself because the brain is again, this this just stay alive, don't get killed device. And I think it's so brilliant when you think about that concept of your brain. It really is working off of some faulty information, which sounds crazy because it's your brain. I have one. You have one. We all have one. But the brain is saying that if I can just work less, if I can just conserve my energy, then I've got a good shot of living forever because your brain wants to live forever. It's this organ that if it dies, it dies. I mean, we can talk about soul and we can talk about the afterlife. We can talk about all those things. But your poor brain is saying, I got one shot at this, you know, and then and then I am then I am done. So I want to hold on for dear life, literally. So what your brain is doing is that saying if we don't have to put ourselves out there too much, then we have a better chance at living.

[00:12:28] But again, that's a false premise. So and this goes into that whole concept of why we develop habits. If you think about tying your shoes, as soon as you learn to tie your shoe, you don't think about tying your shoes at all or you don't think about backing the car out of the driveway or you don't think about buttoning up a shirt. Those become habitual, those become habits, and they're put into a little part of your brain called the basal ganglia. It's the habit center of your brain. And if you were to look at how much electrical activity your brain uses when pulling from that habit center, it's it's minuit. It's infinitesimal. So in that scenario, your brain wants to do whatever it can to make something habitual, whether it's a thought or behavior, whatever that is, put it into that habit center. And then when your brain sees cues coming, then it says, load up this habit because this whole process is going to use less electrical activity and therefore we're going to be able to live forever. So let's try to get as many things as we can as habitual. And the way it's going to do that is even to to kind of trick you into these things of saying, hey, we'll do that thing later, because that thing sounds pretty scary. But for right now, let's just focus on something that we know. Let's focus on the known.

[00:13:34] We know tick tock. We know YouTube, we know sleeping. We know watching episodes of the office. So let's do that today. And then I promise you tomorrow we'll take a look at whatever that new thing is that you want to do. And then we believe our brain. We trust our brain and we say, OK, brain sounds like a good idea. That's right. We'll tackle that tomorrow or you're right. I think I do deserve a little bit of tick tock time right now and I'm going to spend some time there. So when you look at it that way, I think that will often help us understand that there's nothing wrong with us. This is just the way that we're presenting. This is a survival mechanism. This is how we're wired. This is our brain thing. And it's doing us a favor. It thinks it's doing us a solid. So let's get back to this quick look at your values. Oh, where I was going when I was talking about that is if you aren't sure what they are, I want you to get this worksheet out or when you start thinking about things that really matter to you or what really you feel a meaning or sense of purpose around and then watch your brain, bless his heart, try to talk you out of those things that. Well, yeah, but this doesn't really matter. Or you shouldn't think that even your own brain is going to shoot on you.

[00:14:37] Nobody likes to be shown on. And so as you develop these or even want to start testing to see if these things are your values or not, this is why I love this point that she said in this worksheet that there aren't there isn't really a hierarchy of values most important to least important. We just need to start doing. And we spend so much of our time thinking and we try to think, think, think, think our way through things. We try to think our way out of thinking problems. We ruminate, we fortuneteller, we worry. And all of that is a lot of thinking. And we get to the point where we feel like I just have to figure this out. But in reality, we spend far too much time in that. And not enough time and doing but here's the caveat to that is it really does help. I was going to say it matters. It matters. It really does help if you know what to do. So you can start thinking and get yourself anxious and you can practice mindfulness and you can bring yourself right back to the present moment. You can notice that you're thinking you can turn to your breath, you can get yourself right back into the moment. But now what? Because when you let your foot off the gas of trying to be present, you're still in that same situation often.

[00:15:43] And so your brain says, hey, how'd that work, champ? You know, it didn't. So let's get back to worrying. Let's get back to ruminating when in reality, if you can bring yourself back to the present moment and now take action on a value of value based goal or value based activity, you're starting to create this nice new neural pathway in your brain that when I start to worry, when I start to fear, when I start to doubt, when I start to get anxious, when I start to feel depressed, when I start to do any of those feelings or those those thoughts come into my mind that I'm going to notice them. I'm not going to judge I'm not going to try to push them away. I'm not going to try to change them magically. I'm going to recognize them. I'm going to acknowledge that thought. And then I'm going to just gently set the rope down to the tug of war with that thought of why am I thinking this? I shouldn't be thinking this. Don't think this thinks something else. Instead, all of those are just that's that's that same pattern that's kind of kept us stuck. Where we are. Where we're going to do is we're going to acknowledge the thought, recognize the thought, drop the rope of the tug of war with that thought and then gently move towards some value based action.

[00:16:45] Let me give you an example of this. This happened over the weekend. I was in Vegas, Las Vegas, with my wife and my oldest daughter, Alex, and my son in law, Mitch. And we were at the NBA Summer League games, which are so much fun. So you're in this arena and you're just watching game after game and it's these future NBA professionals. And so they're young and they're exciting. And you get to sit really close to the court and it's game after game after game. So if you're a basketball fanatic, which I am, it's just it's such a fun time, but we're all human. So after about the second or third game and you're sitting there and maybe you're your butt starts to fall asleep a little bit, you are starting to think, OK, I'm kind of getting a little tired of of eating the concessions from the the arena. And and so there was a moment that came over me where I just felt a little bit flat because I'm human, even though I love what I'm doing, I love the people around me. But I just noticed I was kind of feeling flat. So here's what that looks like. I notice that I'm feeling flat. And when did I notice that? I noticed that this is going to sound silly, but I noticed it when I noticed it. So I was sitting there and I was just not really communicating with those around me.

[00:17:52] And I was watching this game, but I really wasn't into the game. I wasn't participating actively watching the game. So I recognized it, noticed that that came to my attention. I didn't say, man, what's wrong with me? You know, you're here. You've got your family around you. This incredible you should be more excited about this. You should be more grateful because that's too often what we do. And that then starts to put a lot of pressure on us. It starts to lower our emotional baseline. It starts to raise our stress level. We start to think, I mean, I can't even come to Vegas on a vacation and be present. What is wrong with me? Nothing. You're human. We have a bunch of thoughts and emotions and feelings all throughout the day, all throughout the hour, even at times, all throughout the minute. So when I recognized that I was feeling a little bit flat, then I noticed it. I acknowledged it. Oh, I'm noticing that. I'm feeling a little bit flat. That's interesting. And so then I turned to a value of curiosity, a value of knowledge. These are two of my my main values, say one of the his core values, even though I just told you that this one author says there aren't any core values, but these are values that really are important to me, especially in that moment and in that context.

[00:18:58] So when I noticed that I am feeling flat, I acknowledged it. I didn't push it away. I made room for it. It's right there. It's right beside me. This feeling of being flat. I didn't judge it. I didn't try to say what's wrong with me? You shouldn't feel this way. You should think something different there. It's just a thought. So when I noticed that thought, I pulled out my phone and this this value of curiosity or knowledge kicks in and I love nothing more, then all of a sudden I start picking out players and I just start to Google them and I start to read about them and I start to learn about where they're from, how many years they played in college, how how tall they are, how many how many years have they been trying to make it into the NBA? I remember at one point I was pointing out something to my son in law where I noticed, OK, this particular guy, he missed a few games of his college career because he fled the scene of a of an accident. And I thought that's that's interesting that I'm clicking on the news article about it and I'm reading more about it. And it's just something that's fascinating. Or you or I see another player and he it was kind of funny. He had a very, very deep look, like a fake tan and some bleached hair.

[00:19:57] And we said, OK, let's find out that guy's story. Find out that he's a thirty year old from Russia who's tried to make it into the NBA several times. And so then that becomes a fascinating story. Then I Googled him. Last name's Tima. He was a 2014 Lithuanian dunk contest at. Champion, so how fun is that? Then he hits a couple of shots, the crowd gets excited and all of a sudden I feel like I have this this not a connection, but I, I just have this awareness or this knowledge more about this particular player. So I want to go back to that then. So when I'm noticing that I'm feeling flat, I don't judge it. I don't I don't try to change the thought. I don't try to push the thought away. And why is that significant? Because if I try to say why, why am I thinking this, then that's a negative. That's given some negative energy that's going to lower my emotional baseline. Why am I thinking it? I don't know. Because I'm thinking it. Because my brain said, here's a thought. Our brains do that constantly. Our brains do that all day long. Here is a thought that thought can lead to an emotion, but that does not have to lead to a behavior. And that's one of the things that I think is so amazing about acceptance and commitment therapy. Our brains, it's not this mechanistic model.

[00:21:01] We can't just simply change a thought and have it lead to a different emotion or different behavior. That's one of the things that we read often. I even have a chapter of a book called Act Made Simple, and it has a piece. This is by Russ Harris, where he says, Shattering the illusion that our thoughts control us. He said one of the key insights that we want our clients to get is that our thoughts do not control our actions, that thoughts have a lot of influence on our actions when we fuze with them, when we give them too much meaning, he said. They have less influence when we diffuse, he said. Once a client understands this, it enables us to do brief interventions like these. If a client says, I don't think I can do it, the therapist said, Can you have that thought and do it anyway? Or the client says, Well, I just know this is going to turn out badly. The therapist says, well, if that's what your mind's going to tell you, can you tell your mind? Can you let your mind tell you that and still go ahead and do whatever it is that you want to do? And so he gives a couple of examples. He said, if our thoughts and feelings actually controlled our actions, where would we be? He said, think of all those angry or resentful or vengeful thoughts and feelings that we've had just because we're human.

[00:22:05] When we thought negative things about people, he said, remember all those nasty things that you thought about saying or doing to people that you were angry with me, with a guy that cut you off somebody and that's rude in front of you in line. But imagine if those thoughts and feelings had control their actions. What if you really had gone and done all those things that you've thought where we all be of our thoughts and feelings control our actions. And he says, you know, wait for your client to answer. A lot of times they'll say in prison or in the hospital or dead. And so then you often as a therapist, want to bring up have you ever had thoughts and feelings that you didn't act on? For example, have you ever had the thought, I can't do this, but you want to and did it anyway? Right. Or do you have those thoughts about yelling at somebody or leaving your spouse or quitting your job or, you know, getting angry with your kids or calling in sick, but then you don't act on them? Do you ever feel angry but on the inside of you act calmly on the outside, or do we feel frightened but you act confidently? I mean, I had that example even just over the weekend when we were traveling and going to the airport. We run a little bit late later than I would like to.

[00:23:06] So in my mind, I saying, oh, my gosh, I'm going to miss the plane. I can't believe I to do this. I need to speed and all those are just thoughts. What did I do? Stayed present, stayed calm, had a great conversation with my wife on the way to the airport and we made it. I completely forgot about all those thoughts, those fears, those worries, that anger. So Russ Ariston says, Did you ever feel like running away from an awkward or stressful situation, but you stayed. So what does that show you? Do your thoughts and feelings truly control your actions, or do you have a choice on how you act? And I remember one of the first things I learned, and he touches on this when I was learning about act, is this it's called the I can't lift my arm metaphor. The therapist says, and I could do this for all of you right now. I would like you to silently repeat to yourself, I can't lift my arm and say it over and over in your head. And as you're saying it, lift up your arm. And if I'm if you're doing this in my office, usually I wait a little bit and there may be a slight pause for a second or two. And so then you do mention so you you can lift your arm up, even though your mind says you can say, did you notice how you hesitated, though? We are so used to believing whatever our minds tell us that for a second there we kind of maybe even actually believe it.

[00:24:12] But now repeat yourself. All right. I have to stand up and as you say it, stay seated. So your thoughts do not mechanically control your actions, your thoughts have they have influence on your actions? But I will. I love that concept of just because we think it doesn't mean that we have to do it. And and once we understand that concept, then oftentimes you say, well, what do we what do we do then? And this is where I love that we're going to find something that matters to us and we're going to start to take action and do it. And our brain will even say, what if that's not the right thing? And then that's. And now I hope that you have a context from what we were saying earlier that, oh, bless my brain's heart. Yeah, it might not be the right thing. Not even arguing if that's a true or false statement, is that a productive thought toward taking action on something that matters to me? So I really believe that when you start to figure out what matters to you and that can be fluid and what matters to you can change. And so the key is just to start taking action.

[00:25:10] And once you start taking action on something that matters to you, you'll see if that really matters to you. So go back to this example that I have of I love nothing more than just Googling things. I love information. I have such a value of curiosity that it can almost be overwhelming at times. I could be in a session with somebody and you add that value of curiosity to attention deficit disorder. That could be trouble. And I will tell clients often, OK, I love what you just said to me, but I'm dying to Google it right now and find out more about it. And I love that some of the clients that I work with are saying, oh, I'm thinking the same thing, so let's let's Google it. You know, they pull out their phone. I've got my iPad. We have this value of curiosity or value of knowledge. But if you are sitting there in an arena and you start to feel flat and then you say, oh, well, Tony has this value, curiosity or knowledge, I think I'll pull out my phone and see if that works for me. And if you just don't care, you don't have interest in that, then note it. There you go. You have some some data to work with. OK, maybe that's not my value. If you have a value of just connection with another human, then when you notice in a moment that you're feeling down or flat or blue and you have this value of just connecting with another individual, then turned to that individual and start asking them questions, they.

[00:26:20] Are you enjoying the game or what do you like about this in particular, or have you ever done this before? Did you ever think about playing basketball or what must it be like to be a basketball player and have access to this money? Or, you know, what would it look like to be seven feet tall and have to duck under doorways or so? But I'm asking those questions because I have this value of a connection. And then if you're hearing me say that and now you say, OK, I'm in a similar situation and I don't really want to Google anything on my phone or I start asking people questions, and that isn't very satisfying either. Maybe you really just have a value of a presence and you just want to be there. And so when you notice you're feeling blue now, pay particular attention to the sounds around. You hear the ball bouncing on the court, hear the shoes squeaking on the floor, hear the buzzer, hear the people buzzing around, listen for conversations around you, because that might be something that really matters to you. And the cool part about it is we are all different. We're all going to have different things that matter more to to you than they do to me and and you.

[00:27:19] It's your goal to start really figuring out what those values are so that when you are in your head, when you are anxious, when you are depressed, when you are flat, when you are feeling any of those feelings, instead of saying, what's wrong with me, nothing, you're human. Instead of saying, OK, I need to think something else, here comes psychological reactance. That instant negative reaction of of being told what to do if you tell your brain, do not think about being blue right now, I should be more happy. Your brain is going to say, oh, I'll be blue, I'll do whatever I want. It's that whole thought suppression, peace that don't think about chocolate ice cream right now. You all just thought about chocolate ice cream and don't don't put sprinkles on it, whatever you do. OK, there you go. Some sprinkles on your chocolate ice cream. Your brain is so wired for this reactance that it is going to do whatever you tell it not to do. So instead, we recognize a thought. I notice I'm feeling blue. OK, that's that's it. It's a thought. It's a feeling. You can label it. You can notice that I'm feeling blue and I can label that is OK thinking that's what I'm doing. I don't have to judge it. I don't have to push it away. I don't have to change it. I don't have to say it man.

[00:28:27] OK, whenever I feel blue then I need to think, OK, no, you're happy to be here because you can do that and you can drill that drill into your head as many times as you want. And then if you then notice you are feeling blue and then think, OK, I need to be grateful, I'm here. But if that doesn't shift your energy, then guess what? Now you get to do. I can't even do the tool you need to say to yourself, I can't even do the tool right. What's wrong with me? Nothing. You are human. We're using the wrong tool. We're using this tool of trying to figure things out. We're using this tool of trying to think our way out of a thinking problem when the real tool to use is noticing the thought and noticing the feeling, noticing the emotion. There it is. And then just gently move away from it and take action, take action on something that matters to you. And if you realize, OK, I thought that I really cared about friendliness, you know, that's one of the values on this worksheet, friendliness to be friendly, companionable or agreeable towards others. But if you found that man, I really find that I'm not as friendly as I once thought I was. There is nothing wrong with you. Noticed, there are a lot of values. We all have a different connection to these values based on all the experiences that we've been through.

[00:29:32] If you have been continually burned and trying to be friendly to people throughout your lives or if you grew up with parents that said do not talk to strangers, whatever you do, don't do it. It's scary. It's a scary world, then that value of friendliness may not be intrinsic. It may not be something that is deeply rooted within your core. And that's OK. I have on this list there's one fairness and justice, to be fair. And just to myself or others. I love when you get to process this values list with other people because that's one where it is. OK, if you don't feel this deep compassion of fairness or equality, it's hard to say that out loud because we feel like we're doing something wrong. But if you have more of a feeling of empathy or compassion, then you may not feel like that is not fair and it needs to be fair, whatever that is. If you're if you're one who sits back and says, well, I mean, it's OK, I a lot of things aren't fair, I accept that, then that's OK. That's how you feel. And if you also feel like, OK, it's not fair, I got to do something about it, even though it's not about me. That is one of your values. That's OK. I have a tremendous value of humor. I love being funny.

[00:30:40] I love cracking jokes. I love trying to see the humor in a situation. And I talked about this on a podcast a few weeks ago, but I was working with a client who has a value of humor. But they realize that in their profession and in their home right now, they they aren't able to exercise that value of humor. They're worried their brain has them hooked on this thought that if they are funny in their job, that people won't take them as seriously and therefore people will not respect them and won't want to come see them. And that's a hard place to be, because if at your core you are stuffing down your your humor and your fun and this value of humor as part of your connection, then be funny, because that is how you are going to be more of yourself and for being more of yourself. Your emotional baseline is going to raise and you're going to present as more competent. And if you present as more confident people around, you are going to feel that energy and you are going to be around people that want to be with you and you are going to want to be with those people. If somebody says I can't go to you as a professional because you are too humorous, then that's OK. Bless their heart. This is where that concept of differentiation comes into play, where differentiation again is where one person ends and the other person begins.

[00:31:52] We are all different, unique individuals. And so when we recognize that we can be interdependent, not codependent, we can we can realize that my best self is to be me. Even if there are people that disagree or even if there are people that are going to invalidate my experience. I mean, I've heard often and this is funny, I remember early on when I started putting out my podcast and somebody would hear it and they would come to me as a client and I had more than one person say, and I didn't know if I could deal with your energy. And I remember a couple of times feeling like, oh, I should not be as energetic. And I thought, oh, no, that's who I am. And then I would often say, OK, I appreciate you sharing that. And if you feel you can't deal with my energy, then no problem. I understand. And let me try to get your referral, because I want you to find a connection with a therapist that you can connect with. And I might not be everybody's cup of tea. I really might. And guess what? That's OK. And in that vein, how often do we spend our lives really trying to figure out who do I need to be and these particular situations to be liked and how difficult is that? But if we're finding our values with this whole episode is about today, we find out really what matters to us and then we act on those values and we take action and we start to move toward those values instead of worrying about what really other people are thinking while we take action on our values or we notice that we're worrying about what other people are thinking and we think our brain for that worry and we drop the rope of that tug of war of trying to really determine, oh, man, should I think should I be this way, should I not be this way? And we start taking action on our values.

[00:33:21] We are going to start to thrive. And that is a whole different relationship with yourself and with others that I worry that people don't even know what that's like. And I recognize now when people are coming into my office and I'm drilling them with this, you know, learn your values, take action on your values, invite your thoughts and emotions to come along, that to me, it just makes so much sense because it makes sense because that's what I've been doing for so long. But to somebody new there, they're still worried about how they say something or what they say or what have they say, the wrong thing. And man, bless your heart, that is a hard place to be because that that alone takes up a lot of emotional energy and calories.

[00:33:59] And too often I feel like that's why your brain says I'll do it tomorrow, because it's scary and it's new. But ironically, when you get to that point where you are living more of an authentic life based on your values and your learning, that the more you turn toward those things that matter to you, the more confident that you become and the more confident you become, the more you're running in circles with people and ideas and things that matter to you, then it's a lot easier to sit with that and validation. If somebody is going to tell me that they disagree with one of my podcasts or one of my. He's one of those things, no problem. I'm grateful that they that they're thinking about whatever the topic is that I'm talking about. That's wonderful. Thank you. But if they're saying I think you are wrong, then, OK, that's great. Like, tell me more. But at the end of the day, I'm the only one driving my ship. And so in that scenario, I can take the information and I can do with it whatever it really whatever I want to do with that. And if I want to take a look at it and say, man, maybe, maybe they've got a good point, I think I'll take a look at that. That's awesome. But I don't have to feel like I should change what I'm saying. I shouldn't say these things because what if what if that makes me look bad? No, this is how I present.

[00:35:09] So I know I don't want this to go too long. I didn't get into a lot of the other. I didn't get into a lot of values. Maybe we'll carry this to a part two. Or maybe you've got enough information now that if you go get that values worksheet, that you'll see some of these other values, you know, a value of engagement to be fully engaged in what I'm doing, a value of fitness. I love this one. I do push ups now between every set that I can throughout the day. And because I have a value of fitness, you know, instead of saying I got to do two hundred pushups a day, I have a value of fitness in the vehicle that I use is push ups during the day. So then some days I might do 100, some days I might do 400. It doesn't it just I take action on my value or their values of, like I say, kindness. There's a value of order to be orderly and organized. I do not possess that value. And that's OK. When people have a value of order to be orderly and organized, that they may they may want to have a more clean work environment or more clean home. And if their spouse doesn't share that value, that's OK. But if it matters to you, take action on it.

[00:36:12] If you have a value of responsibility to be responsible and accountable for my actions, a value of supportiveness, to be supportive and helpful to others, I mean, there's so many of these values. None are wrong. None are right. They just are. And as you find out, the ones that matter to you and take action on them, it is going to raise your emotional baseline and you are going to start to have this energy in this connection with yourself, with your universe, with God, with other people. And that is going to then rub off, you know, that is going to let your light so shine again. Back to this Marianne Williamson poem. Who are you to to to shrink so that you will not so that others won't feel uncomfortable around you. You know, we're all children of God and we're meant to to shine so that then those around us will be lifted. And so find out what matters to you and take action and repeat that process. And on the road to taking action, remember, you are at point A or C or F or G, and we don't know what point Z looks like yet to get dizzy. He had to go from H to I and I to J and JDK, and that's a fantastic and an amazing experience to go along that journey and figure yourself out, even at the cost of feeling a bit invalidated by those around you.

[00:37:24] Bless their heart, they mean well, even when they're saying things that feel like they don't meanwell. But you are the ultimate ultimately the captain of your own ship and the one who is in charge of your life. And as you find out what matters to you and take action, I promise you that you will start to just radiate or eliminate this energy in this, you know, raising the waters around you. And I have said so many cliches right now. So I will end by saying find that values worksheet, reach out to me, I'll put the link in the show notes or go to Wired.com and find out in the additional resources, the values worksheet. I am so grateful for every one of you that that listens where the downloads are millions and millions of downloads. That blows my mind every time across every country and every land. And it just it just makes me giddy. The feedback that I see, the emails that people send are phenomenal. I'm trying my best to get back to them. And I just think you spread the word share this episode. If if you really felt something here, if it mattered to you, follow me on Instagram, trying to do a few more quotes there. My magnetic marriage course, the next round is coming soon and it is amazing. And there are so many good things to come. And I'm grateful for each one of you. And taking us out, as per usual, is the wonderful, the talented Aurora Florence with her song.

[00:38:35] It's wonderful. Have a great day. Investor emotions flying past our heads and

[00:38:47] Out the other and the pressures of the daily grind it would have. Must have placed in rubber ghost voting past midnight, and they push aside things that matter most to. Sales of discount price opportunity, the chance to

[00:39:50] Take use that word.

[00:39:55] It's always on the back burner until the can afford to. I always pushed

[00:40:02] For the shot of. My. So. Face.

[00:40:43] Develop this stuff, don't explode and allow the.

Tony discusses the 4 Steps of Differentiation from the article "Psychological Differentiation" from https://www.psychalive.org/psychological-differentiation/ The 4 Steps are based on the work of Dr. Robert Firestone from his book "The Self-Under Siege: A Therapeutic Model for Differentiation," Visit http://tonyoverbay.com to sign up for Tony's newsletter and to find out more about his programs for couples communication, parenting, pornography recovery and more. You can find Russ Harris' values worksheet here https://psychwire.com/harris/resources

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

#differentiation #life #therapy #virtualcouch #tonyoverbay #tonyoverbayquote #quote #podcast #podcasting #acceptancecommitmenttherapy #motivation #coach #addictionrecovery #narcissism #happiness #behappy #mentalhealth #wellness #recovery #selfcare #anxiety #relax #mindfulness #happy #depression #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #psychology #MadeWithDescript #DescriptPro

Have you ever felt like you’re in a vicious game of tug-of-war with the struggles in your life? Afraid that if you don’t pull hard enough you’ll fall into the bottomless bit in front of you? What would happen if you dropped the rope in the tug-of-war with anxiety, depression, or fear? Or have you heard the metaphor about the person in the hole? The person is smart, capable, hard-working, but what if they have the wrong tool at the bottom of that hole, a shovel for example. You can be the smartest, most hard-working person in the world, and having a shovel in the bottom of a hole isn’t going to get you too far. Sometimes a good metaphor can go a long way in helping explain to others, or even better yet, to ourselves, the struggles we may have on a day-to-day basis.

In today’s episode, Tony shares Brian Pennie’s article “How to Avoid Psychological Traps - 3 Metaphors that Lead to a Lifetime of Happiness,” https://medium.com/swlh/avoid-psychological-traps-by-embracing-these-powerful-metaphors-3be3a87cc9f1

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

-------- TRANSCRIPT --------

[00:00:00] Ok, quick story time last week, it was last Friday, to be exact, I woke up and I just hopped out of bed, felt like a good morning. I had worked out the evening before I had taken a shower before I went to bed. So I woke up. I walked immediately into the bathroom. I wash my face. I got dressed and I jumped in my car. I was headed to my office. And to be fair, I get in really early and I typically start with clients somewhere around six or seven in the morning. So I try to get in around four, four, 30 that we can have time to write or record or create or catch up. And it has long been some of the best time of my day. It's nice and it's quiet and about halfway to my office and it's only fifteen minutes or so from my house. And then if you have a car, a newer car, but it will anticipate where I'm going to go on the little navigation system. So it often tells me, hey, you're 14 minutes from work, traffic's clear. Here's your anticipated arrival time. And so I just happened to glance down and notice that my anticipated arrival time, it says I will get to my office at two thirty two thirty in the morning and suddenly I could not make sense of the morning.

[00:01:00] Didn't I get up when my alarm went off like I normally do? And I had obviously looked at my phone because I was listening to an audio book and my headphones on my way out the door getting to my car. And so I bring up my alarm app at that time. And sure enough, there was an alarm set for three fifteen with a backup alarm set for three thirty, which honestly led to even more confusion. So long story that well, even longer. And by the way, that is one of my favorite lines, because as somebody who listens to people's stories for a living, the phrase long story short, when I'm often thinking, well, let's be honest, this story is going a little bit longer than that, and that is exactly what I'm doing. But so long story even made longer. I get to my office and I'm immediately met with am I starting to lose it mentally or what just happened? And I eventually came to just a little bit of acceptance, as in, well, that happened. That's pretty interesting. So where are we going on today's episode? Is it acceptance now? It's not it. I've done a lot unacceptance of saying will that happen? Or early risers versus night owls. It's not about that either, although that would be a good episode.

[00:01:59] I haven't done one on that in over three years. And there's actually a lot of fascinating data there. But this was simply just a story, the end and just isn't that interesting. And have you ever done something like that or. I'm I guess I'm just looking to have a shared experience with people that are listening to my podcast or share a laugh. But no, on today's episode, it's on a particular type of story that can be quite powerful. Today, we're going to talk about the power of the metaphor, because I ran into one last week in session and honestly, it was difficult not to then try and thread this metaphor into everything that I'm currently working with. And there are a lot of metaphors in the particular type of therapy. I love acceptance and commitment therapy, but for some reason I've been almost afraid to embrace the metaphor. So we'll talk about that. We're going to talk about some metaphors that that may really help. Is a matter of fact, we're going to talk about three metaphors that according to an article from Medium Dotcom by a writer, Brian Penning, PhD candidate is these are three metaphors that can lead to a lifetime of happiness. So that's pretty promising. Right. So we're going to cover that and so much more on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:03:21] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:03:28] All right, hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and sixty nine of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. A licensed marriage and family therapist and certified mind will have a coach and writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, which is an online pornography recovery program that is helping people of all walks of life turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism, put it in the rearview mirror and all done in a strength based hold the shame, become the person that you always want it to be the way. So if you're interested, go to Pathbackrecovery.com and download. There's a little ebook there, another small incise e-book, but a short e-book that will describe five myths that people make often when they're trying to put things like pornography in the rearview mirror. So check that out at Pathbackrecovery.com and go to Tony Overbay Dotcom. Still, there's a free parenting course. Another round of the magnetic marriage course is coming up soon. So go to Tony over made. I come to find out more. So let's get to today's episode, today's topic. This is on three metaphors that lead to a lifetime of happiness by Brian Pinny. And I'm pretty sure that I've got the name correct, but it's Penny spelled P in in IHI. And honestly, I went into a deep dove on just wanting to give him proper attribution because this is from a medium dotcom article. But I know that a lot of people you can submit articles to places like Medium Dotcom, they'll cover them if they if they like the content.

[00:04:43] But it isn't that Brian writes for Medium. But if you go to Brian Penney and that's Brian P in ICOM, he's a he's a fascinating person. Just quickly on his about, he says, hi, my name's Brian Penny. I'm the I'm an author. I'm a speaker. I'm a PhD candidate, university lecturer and a life change strategist. And he says, my life used to be very different. However, on October 8th of 2013, I experienced my first day clean after fifteen years of chronic heroin addiction. So very fascinating person. But he wrote this article called How to Avoid Psychological Traps, which are three powerful metaphors to help you see more clearly. And so I mentioned in the introduction that in the therapy model that I love acceptance and commitment therapy. They use a lot of metaphors and I have stayed away from using metaphors. And it's one of those things where I wasn't exactly sure. So I had to do a little bit of exploration today and why. And I did an episode on my podcast. It was quite a while ago where I talked about the power of story and how important or powerful a story can be. But that I think as a couples therapist and we're talking a thousand couples down down the road later where I watch, often people use a story almost in a weaponized way.

[00:05:52] Again, I love stories that tell stories all the time. I hear stories that's that's part of, again, how I make my living. So I was trying to actually think of a good example. So here's one that is very real. It's one that comes up in couples therapy. So if you are a couple that I have met with and you think, oh, my gosh, she's talking about us, I'm really not. That's how common the story is. It's very common. So in most every kind of scratch that, I'm going to say pretty much every couple's relationship I work with, there is a higher desire partner and a lower desire partner when it comes to physical intimacy. And listen to the way I'm phrasing that when it comes to physical intimacy, a higher desire, lower desire. Sometimes I realize that I try to allude to things as if my podcast is being piped into Mrs. Johnson's third grade class. So let's just be honest here. I'm talking about sex and couples. And so typically I find that one of the spouses would like to have sex more often than the other. And stereotypically, by a pretty wide margin, the man typically wants to have more sex than the woman. So here's the way a story can be used in this situation. And I don't want to sound dramatic, but almost weaponized to a point. So the example will be given that the couple will be outside working in the yard or they will be in bed at the end of the day or they'll be on a road trip.

[00:06:59] And the wife in the situation, the lower desire partner, will ask the husband if they will do something for them. Will they stop at the next rest stop because the wife wants to go to the bathroom or stretch your legs or get a drink or if they're working in the yard and the wife is thirsty, will the husband run in and get her a drink of water? Or if they're laying in bed and the wife forgot to check the back door to see if it's locked, would the husband mind going downstairs to check those scenarios? He may not really be interested in doing these things, but he says he's happy, too. And then when he then asks for sex, at the end of the day, the wife might respond that she is too tired or she's felt like she's been pawed all day by little kids. So she's just a little bit physically overwhelmed. And could she get a rain check? So the husband in the scenario will tell the story, oftentimes staying in the hypothetical, but saying that he would be more willing to get that he's more than willing to get the glass of water or check the door locks or stop at the next rest stop, even if he doesn't want to. So then why wouldn't his wife want to have sex with him even if she doesn't want to? So to the point where then she's off saying, OK, you're comparing apples to oranges or those kind of things.

[00:08:02] And trust me, I hear him. I understand where he's going, but I watch the wife in the scenario typically go pretty flat with her affect your mood. She may turn away from him. She may shut down. All of a sudden she's not leaning and she's not saying tell me more. So that's where I see stories tend to go sort of south, yes. The intentions are not there to hurt their spouse. My pillar, No. One of my four pillars of a connected conversation. But the husband in the scenario doesn't quite know how. To get his point across that he would really love or desire more physical intimacy or he's he's tried simply stating that, but he feels like that hasn't gone so well. So the story is often used to try and tell a partner that they don't understand that they are the ones doing it wrong like my buddy Preston Pugmier says they're often doing that, telling that story with their elbow kind of bump in their partner, saying, listen, like this is something that you need to do. This is something you need to do differently. And so now what is the answer to this scenario? Because I truly do hear it so, so often. I think that is going to have to be a separate episode because there is a lot to unpack there.

[00:09:04] But my point being in this type of story, if the wife is being told that she isn't doing what her husband would like him to do, and then by telling that in story form, well, now she's got to do what he's asking. And again, the genders can be completely switched. The scenarios can be a husband not feeling appreciated for being at work so much or a wife might not feel appreciated if she stays at home with the kids or if she is the more empathetic parent. But what I hope that you can get from these examples are when stories are used a bit more in a again, not trying to make a dramatic use of the word, but any more manipulative fashion. And again, bless the storyteller's heart in this scenario, because ultimately it boils down to an attachment issue to someone not feeling heard or like they don't really know how to be heard. So they hope they try to tell a story to their spouse to hear them or to understand them. But I think I watch that in sessions where someone's trying to find a creative way to say, hey, I think you're wrong. And so I know that that's not what stories are all about. But in acceptance and commitment therapy, there are a lot of metaphors. And I know I can understand why, because I find myself using bits and pieces of them. But over this past week, I have have a couple of people that I'm working with on a pretty specific issue.

[00:10:12] And I've been looking at how to implement acceptance and commitment therapy into their treatment. And in particular, it's around some symptoms of OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, because acceptance and commitment therapy is is a relative new kid on the block on how you treat OCD with acceptance and commitment therapy. But there's a lot of cool data that talks about how to do that and within each session individually. And so in one of the sessions and some of the notes that I had by a very, very well known ACT researcher, Michael ToHegg, who I actually have reached out to, and he's he's agreed to come on the podcast I'm kind of fascinated by. But in this particular data that he's sharing about how to deal with acting OCD, they have a very powerful metaphor of basically called the it's the metaphor of the person in the hole. So we're going to get to that one in a minute. But back to the Bryant Pene article. So he says that he quotes a few people here that are talking about metaphors. Robert Frost, which is a famed author, he says, unless you're educated in a metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world. And in John F. Kennedy speech about the space race, he announced that America has tossed its cap over the wall of space and Brian says JFK used this metaphor as a declaration for taking charge of the race.

[00:11:22] It's a beautiful turn of phrase that epitomizes the power of metaphors. But metaphors can also have many purposes. As Bryan points out, they can be used to enhance writing, make persuasive arguments, motivate people. They can serve as symbols, or they can help you memorize information or even explain abstract concepts such as life and love and success. And he gives a couple of examples of that. Pablo Picasso said, Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life or Shakespeare. This is a famous one. All the world is a stage and all the men and women are merely players. Or one of Warren Buffett's famous metaphors, as he says, predicting rain doesn't count, but building arks does. So I think when you hear those metaphors, you get a sense of what that person really believes, maybe what they stand for. So at its core, then, these metaphors are figures of speech that are used to compare two completely unrelated things. And because of that, they can be very powerful and explaining very abstract concepts, especially in psychology, such as things like anxiety or resistance or suffering or that sort of thing. So based on Bryan's PhD research and his work with acceptance and commitment therapy, he listed three very powerful metaphors that will help people avoid psychological traps. Now, one of the first ones is one that I have mentioned before, and it's one that I will go back to often, which is talking the metaphor is fighting with an anxiety monster.

[00:12:43] So here's how this one goes. If you ever struggle with anxiety, he says, I'm guessing you've tried to fight back. However, fighting back only tends to create more anxiety. So what do you do? A great metaphor to explain. This involves a tug of war with an anxiety monster. So you are holding one end of the rope and the monster has the other. And in between of you lies a bottomless pit. So not surprisingly, you pull as hard as you can, but that monster is pulling very strong, too, and that's bringing you closer and closer to the pit and you feel like you have no way of winning. So what do you do when you're fighting this anxiety monster, when you've got this tug of war against this anxiety monster and there's this bottomless pit between the two of you, you simply drop the rope. So, yeah, the monster is still there, but you're no longer in a struggle with him. And so in this metaphor, it's the same anxiety that when you drop the struggle, you steal its power. So that's where I was going a little bit earlier, making the joke about it. Today's episode about acceptance. And when you drop the rope of the tug of war with fill in the blank, oftentimes we feel like, well, then I'm just resigned myself to a life of feeling very anxious.

[00:13:47] But I believe it's quite the opposite. Once you drop the rope of the tug of war, that's when you can really start looking for you can start looking for change because looking for treatment, you can start looking for something else that may help because we're so consumed or obsessed with that that tug of war of fighting against this anxiety monster that that we're often just perpetuating the same patterns are doing the same things. Which leads to my the second metaphor that Brian mentions on here, and this is the metaphor that I ran into in this acceptance and commitment therapy and OCD treatment plan that I've been using a little bit more of the last week or two. It's called The Person in a Whole Metaphor. And I'm going to give you the very short version that Brian has in this article. And I'm going to take you over to the a little bit of a longer version. I want to comment on that a bit. So the person the whole metaphor, he says many people resist change. They might genuinely want to change, especially if they're struggling, but often they persist in the very behavior that caused their problems in the first place. So he says a person in a whole metaphor describes the best. A person aimlessly wanders into a field full of holes, disoriented by past experiences. They fall into a big one and the sides are steep and they can't get out.

[00:14:57] But they were lucky. They had a toolbox with them and without thinking, they take out a shovel and they try to dig themselves out. And so this obviously doesn't work. So they start digging with greater intensity. But this just leaves them deeper in the hole and feeling dejected. They give up and suddenly, like a blessing from the skies. A person walks by with a ladder and they throw it into the hole. So finally, some luck, but what do they do? They pick up the ladder and they try to use the ladder to dig themselves out of the hole. So he says maybe it's the people pleaser who keeps saying, yes, it kind have been there, or a workaholic who continues to work 70 hours per week or a person with social anxiety who refuses to leave the house. So for individuals who are stuck in these situations, this metaphor can help them to better understand their problems and hopefully help them change their ways. OK, so let me do a take two now on that same metaphor. So I'm going to turn to this document by Michael ToHague. And this is from a an act and OCD treatment plan. And it's that same person in a hole metaphor, but it goes a little bit deeper. And so I want to I want to dig a little bit more into this one. So he says imagine that you're placed in a field wearing a blindfold and you're given a little bag of tools and you're told that your job is to run around blindfolded and live your life.

[00:16:09] So you start running around and sooner or later you fall into this big hole. Now, one tendency you might have would be to try and figure out how you got in the hole, exactly what path you followed. And you might tell yourself, I went to the left that went over a little hill and then I fell in, etc. And in one sense, that might be true, that you are in the hole because you walked exactly that way. However, knowing that is not the solution to knowing how to get out of the hole. And furthermore, if you had not done exactly that and you'd gone somewhere else instead in this particular metaphor, you might have fallen into another hole anyway, because unbeknownst to you in this field, there are countless widely spaced fairly deep holes. So he says, anyway, you're in this hole blindfolded. And probably what you would do in such a predicament is take that bag of tools you were given and try to get out of the hole. Now, just suppose that the tool you've been given as a shovel, so you dutifully start digging or pretty soon you notice that you are not out of the hole. So what do you do? You try digging faster or with bigger shovelfuls or with a different style, more different and better. More different and better.

[00:17:09] But all of that makes no difference because digging is not the way out of the hole. It only makes the hole bigger. And pretty soon this hole is huge. It has multiple rooms and halls and caverns and it's more and more elaborate. So maybe you stop for a while and try to put up with it and that doesn't work. And you're still in this hole. And in this particular example, Michael says this is what this is like. What has happened with your anxiety? That anxiety can get bigger and bigger and it's become the central focus of your life. And, you know, all this hasn't worked. But he says what he's saying is that it can't work. He said you absolutely can't dig your way out of the hole, that that would feel hopeless. That's not to say there's no way out of the hole, but within the system in which you have been working, no matter how much motivation you have or how hard you dig, that isn't the way out. And he says this isn't a trick. There's no fooling. And he says, you know, that sense you have when you're stuck and that you came here to help fix it. He says, well, you're stuck. And this is what I think is so powerful about this metaphor that he said that in the system which you're working, there isn't a way out. So the system, the way you're doing it right now and he said things that you've been taught to do aren't working, although they may work perfectly well somewhere else.

[00:18:19] This is where I watched a little bit of a light bulb moment come on for some of my clients. So the problem isn't and the tools it's in the situation in which you find yourself using them, and so what's significant about that is you can have someone is it is an extremely hard worker and that tool of hard work, that that quality is a wonderful quality. But you can see how that could be even more frustrating because hard work with a shovel in the bottom of a hole is just going to allow you to dig a deeper and more elaborate cavernous hole so that shovel plus hard work is not going to get you out of that hole. And so I thought about this. And so I work a lot with people that have addictive behaviors, compulsive behaviors, impulsive behaviors. So take that one of when I work with people that are struggling to put pornography behind them, that turn to pornography as a coping mechanism, because I've done plenty of episodes on that. There isn't an actual diagnosis of pornography addiction, that it's more of an impulse control issue or a compulsive sexual behavior issue. And the difference between compulsive behavior and impulsive behavior is compulsive, is premeditated, impulsive is not. It's In the moment, you can even have people that get the compulsive nature of a problem down and feel like they're in a really good place.

[00:19:31] But then because of some triggers, there's a great acronym, hault, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Then they may fall prey to the impulse and then turn back to this this problem that they've struggled with in the past or something that they want to do no longer go again back to somebody turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. So a lot of times people in that scenario that I'm working with are very religious people and they really want to be the best people that they can be. And so they find themselves. And I feel like the shovel in their lives is there wanting to be even more more righteous. You know, again, like Michael Tohig says, it's bigger. It's better, it's more so they may pray more, read their scriptures more, and then they find themselves not really addressing the problem of what I say is filling these voids in their lives. What are why are they turning to pornography as a coping mechanism? And I feel like these voices I've identified as they might not feel connected in their parenting or in their marriage or their health or their faith or their career. And so they're they're using the wrong tool. So they're using a tool that is a wonderful tool. It's great to to dig more into your spirituality or to feel like you are truly in in tune with God and that you're living the life based on the values and gifts and talents and abilities and all of these things that you've been given.

[00:20:49] That's a wonderful thing. But doubling and tripling and quadrupling down on that religiosity, is that the answer? Is that the right tool to get you out of this hole or is that a shovel? Is that an absolutely wonderful tool, but not the correct one for getting out of this hole? Now, I feel that's the case because this is where I feel like people then feel like they need to to feel worse. They need to beat themselves up. They need to guilt themselves, shame themselves. They need to go down that path. But that's the path they've been going down for. Who knows how long that has kept them in the place that they're at right now. So that's the shovel in their lives. So the harder they dig, the worse they try to make themselves feel about the behavior that they're doing. If that was the solution, they'd already be out of the hole. So they need a different tool. And that's why I love this this metaphor. I go back here and then to this example, I said, so the problem is not in the tools, it's in the situation where you find yourself using them. So he says that you may go to the therapist wanting a gold plated steam shovel and he says, I can't give it to you. And even if I could, I wouldn't, because that's not going to solve your problem.

[00:21:52] It would only make things worse. He said that if a client asked for a way out of the hole, you respond with something like your job right now is not to try to figure out how to get out of that hole. That's what you've been trying to do all along. Your job is to accept that you are in that hole and in the position you're in right now. Even if you were given another thing to do, probably wouldn't work, because the problem is not the tool. It's the agenda. It's the digging. If you were given a ladder right now and this is my favorite part of this and alluded to it in that short version of the metaphor, but he said if you were given a ladder right now, it wouldn't do any good. You're only trying to dig with it. And ladders make terrible shovels. So if you need to dig, you've already got the perfectly good tool already back of this turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. If shame, if making yourself feel like a horrible piece of garbage was the right tool, you'd already be out of the hole. We all would. I mean, and that's where I always say when I wrote my book, I worked with fifteen, sixteen hundred individuals now on compulsive sexual behaviors, impulse control disorders, turning away from pornography as a coping mechanism. And I am 0 for sixteen hundred and shame being a component of recovery.

[00:22:50] So that's not the right tool. The problem is not the tool, it's the agenda. Again, ladders make terrible shovel. So if you need to dig, you've already got the tool to do so and you can't really do anything else until you let go of the shovel and you let go of digging is the agenda. You got to make room for something else in your hands. And that is a difficult and very bold and scary thing to do, because the shovel in our lives often appear to be the only tool that we have. So sometimes we feel like if we are going to let go of the shovel that then we are doomed to stay in the hole forever. And the reality is, I can't reassure you of that. But nothing I say right now would actually help ease the difficulty of what? I'm still talking to my client right now of what the the situation is that they're in or what has brought them there. But Michael says in this analogy or this metaphor, he says your best ally is your own pain. And the knowledge that that has not worked using that shovel in the bottom of that hole has not worked. And haven't you already suffered enough? Are you ready to give up the shovel and do something else? So that is what I find absolutely amazing about that metaphor in particular. So one more metaphor. Brian mentions one called First and Second Dart, and I was not familiar with this one, and I really do like this one.

[00:23:59] I think it's starting to go around the concept of primary and secondary emotions with a little bit more here. So he says life is full of challenges and most of which we have no control over. So this might sound disheartening, but realizing this is a source of strength. Why? Because it's not the challenge itself, but it's our reaction to it that causes most of our problems. And this we can't control we can control our reaction. So he said this concept is best explained by a Buddhist metaphor based on first and second parts. So first start, first starts are inescapable. Pains that life throws at us might be like emotional pain, like a tough breakup, a lost opportunity, or the death of a loved one. Or it might be physical pain, like a sports injury or putting your hand in a hot stove. He says these unavoidable pains are the essence of human existence. And if you live and love some of these will fall on your doorstep. I'll tell you, my wife and I are going out on a run on Saturday and I rolled my ankle so bad I haven't rolled my ankle in a while and I have horrible ankles. That's been one of my biggest problems. The trail runner is just sprained ankles constantly and we go out there. Haven't rolled on a long time.

[00:24:59] I rolled it so bad that I failed. I got down to the ground. I was really angry and upset and frustrated and we had to walk back and it was so frustrating. So but I love how he's saying that, that if we are going to live our lives, then we're going to run into these these first starts and that's going to be OK. So he says in reality, however, most of our problems are not caused by first darts. They're caused by how we respond to them. Second darts are the darts we throw at ourselves. So these are our own reactions to first starts and this is the source of much of our suffering. So he says, consider this example. You stub your toe on your child's toy. That's the first dart. It's just inevitable it's going to happen. The second dart, though, anger follows and it follows immediately. And he throws out here, why the heck did you leave that there for and for second darts, Second darts frequently trigger more second darts, because now you feel guilty about your anger and miserable about your guilt. So now you're wrapped up in your misery and then what do you do? Sometimes you take it out on your spouse. So these second reactions are so much more common than you think you know, he says. How many times have you brought them morning traffic into work? How many times have you brought work problems home for dinner? This is the essence of suffering secondary reactions to painful events, which are often more destructive than the original experience.

[00:26:10] So what do you do? Instead of resisting first darts, you should accept them completely if you do have a tough break up or you lose out on a great opportunity, he says. Accept that and move on because it's our resistance the pain it causes are suffering. And I know I know Brian would say this. I know any any therapist would say, I know it's not just that easy. I'll tell you if I go back to this twisting or rolling my ankle on Saturday example, my that was the first dart. I mean, it's it happens. It's life. I could try to figure out why or blame things on it. There's a little rise in the road, but I ran there plenty of times. But that was my first dart. My second part was I got really, really angry. I got really frustrated. And I was I was sitting on the ground. I kind of think I went to hit the ground. I was like, man, you know, because I immediately went to this. That's going to take forever. I'm not going to run for a while, 51 years old. But if I don't recover as fast, you know, I just thought all these things and I was very frustrated and and I realized that I did almost start getting into the second darts, beat myself up and said I had to just have some acceptance.

[00:27:11] And so we walked home and and I was able to pedal around a little bit on the peloton bike and it was fine and and it hurt a little bit the last later that day, a little bit yesterday. Feeling a little bit more today, but just more of that acceptance, because I don't want that I don't want to throw that second dart at myself or those around me. I don't want to go into victim mode or pity party. It's just acceptance. So those things happen and we'll kind of roll with the punches. We'll go from there. So not resisting those first darts, those things are going to happen, but being aware of the second starts and and how much more destructive those can be. So the take away message of these three metaphors metaphors have the power to persuade the masses, motivate armies and help writers to create beautiful prose. Bryan says they can also help people understand abstract concepts. And as a result, we can often then avoid these psychological pitfalls and psychological traps that we often fall into. So the next time, here's the summary, right? The next time you find yourself fighting with life, then drop the rope of the tug of war with whatever the the event is, the anxiety monster, the depression monster, the whatever it is, just drop the rope with the tug of war, you can drop the rope with a tug of war with your own brain fighting against yourself.

[00:28:18] And next time you find yourself digging to get out of your hole, then think, OK, I'm literally digging in this hole, trying to get out of it. So I need to look at. Something different, because I might be the world's most determined digger, I might be the my shoulders may be broad and strong, which might help me to dig even faster and bigger shovelfuls of dirt. But is that the wrong thing for this particular situation? And the next time you find yourself resisting first darts, just accept them. One of the greatest diffusion techniques you can say to yourself is just, well, that happened. And it can feel you can feel embarrassed, you can feel ashamed. You can feel all those things that are kind of but but you can acknowledge those feelings, but you don't have to react to them. You know, you can thank them for being there. They've all served maybe a purpose in the past, but just accept those first thoughts completely. So I hope that you had a little bit of a different view on the idea of metaphors and maybe you'll start looking for some more of those metaphors that might help you in your own life now. Again, I will always throughout the warning. We're not trying to weaponize metaphors and telling someone else that they need to do this, as my buddy Preston took my office as a hobby. And listen to this with your elbow listening one to elbow your spouse and say, yeah, I think you need to listen to that one in particular.

[00:29:27] So take a look at what what you can do to help put yourself in a better situation. And then, sure, you can share your hey, I feel like this metaphor really spoke to me, but that doesn't mean that it's going to necessarily speak to those around you. But there are plenty of metaphors in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy. As a matter of fact, I think there's entire books that are about metaphor and act. So don't be surprised if I might share another one from time to time or if you have particular metaphors that have worked for you in your life. I'd love to hear them shoot me an email at contact@tonyoverbay.com. OK, have an amazing week. I'm going to have a bonus episode a little bit later on this week because I've just got a lot of stuff I really want to get out. And if you have additional questions, just head over to TonyOverbay.com or email me at contact@tonyoverbay.com. And taking us out per usual is the wonderful, talented Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. So we'll look at this if anybody's even still listening. Betterhelp.com/virtual couch. Ten percent off your first month. Go, go find some help. I could do a much better ad than that, but if you listen to me for a while, you know, betterhelp.com betterhelp.com/virtual couch. Let's get back to the song I wrote for us. It's wonderful.

Tony shares his takeaways from Mark Travers, Ph.D. article from Psychologytoday.com “3 Happiness Tips From This Year’s World Happiness Report.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/202104/3-happiness-tips-years-world-happiness-report?collection=1160830Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

----- TRANSCRIPT -----

[00:00:00] So almost thirty one years ago, shortly after my wife and I were married, we moved into the Clover Land Apartments in Murray, Utah, and I remember the big debate was where we willing to pay more than three hundred dollars a month in rent. We had found a few apartments and other areas of Salt Lake for I don't I remember it was around two hundred and fifty or two hundred sixty dollars a month, but these were in a slightly nicer area than we anticipated. And I believe that we found a middle floor of this three storey apartment complex and we signed up three hundred and ten dollars a month. And I wasn't quite the ultra marathon runner that I eventually became, but I did get out running on a fairly regular basis. And there was a bank near our apartment. I don't remember what branch or what the name of the bank was, but I remember running past the bank on the way out when I would leave the apartment for a run and then I would circle back around on the way back, sometimes doing multiple laps around the bank. And over time, I know that I would waste hours and hours and miles and miles of dreaming, of finding money in the bushes and the trees near the bank and wondering if maybe money just blew out of people's hands or perhaps somebody fell and they dropped stacks of money.

[00:01:06] And over the year or two that we live there, I found exactly zero dollars and no sense running by the bank. And it was years and even decades later when I heard stories like this one. And these stories are out there. This one is from Runners WorldCom. It's titled When Running Pays Off Craig Davidson. Sixty for Phenix recently passed two unusual milestones. The first is an epic run streak, 40 consecutive years of daily running, which he hit on November 4th. And during that streak, he covered two hundred and seven thousand four hundred and twelve miles, more than double that of some cars. He currently ranks 20th on the list of active U.S. streakers maintained by the United States running streak association. And if you're like me, I think streaker of something other than people that have a running streak. But then the article goes on to say, A few days later, on November 13th, he picked up 47 cents to put him over the ten thousand dollar mark for money found on his runs. He's discovered at least one penny every day on his run since April of nineteen eighty three.

[00:02:02] More than thirty five years of finding cash on the go. Does he consider his run incomplete if he doesn't find money? The interviewer asked why it hasn't happened yet. He told Runner's World that day may eventually come. I'm always looking down so I don't trip and fall anywhere. I don't go searching for the money, but it's out there on the ground. Davidson doesn't make a point of seeking loose change, but he said intersections can be fertile ground for spotting a few coins, convenience stores or gas stations by the driveways, he said. They're so hit or miss, sometimes you find it the most unlikely places. Over the years, he's found three one hundred dollar bills, plus a fifty dollar gold coin. The sheer number of miles he logs increases his odds of cashing out. He typically runs five miles every weekday morning, thirteen on Saturdays and Sundays, getting up early to beat the desert heat. He has treasured a running group and friends. He's been meeting for morning runs for thirty five years. They joked to newcomers, watch out for Craig, who makes frequent incidents. Not so quick. Find ten grand. But for about twenty years I ran for.

[00:02:58] We weekend, so it was with.

[00:03:02] This is my home because

[00:03:04] My I was pretty sure to set aside.

[00:03:10] On this one, I saw multiple bills just lying on the asphalt, and as I approached them, I thought, this is it drug heist gone bad or did the bad guys throw the money out of the window as they were evading the cops? Would this be enough to start a savings account for my kids at that time or pay for some equipment to possibly start a podcast? Or can I finally get those hair plugs that I've been dreaming of? I'm kidding about that part. Although the days. Right. Seriously, maybe thought about the hair plugs weren't this far in my rearview mirror, as I would like to think. But I approached the bills on the ground. I bent down to see what my haul would be. There was not just one or two, but there were three one dollar bills on the ground and a wallet. So three dollars. And I knew they were going to go right back in that wallet as I would do everything I could to find the owner. And that turned out to be pretty easy. The driver's license was in the wallet and it turned out to be a high school kid that my friends knew. And I just asked them to reach out to the kid and return the wallet. And just for fun, I threw twenty in the wallet because I thought it might be funny for the guy to lose his wallet and to not only be surprised and relieved that somebody returned it, but also to be equally surprised that it contained more money than maybe he remembered that it did actually never heard if he was surprised or even noticed the extra 20 bucks.

[00:04:18] But where Craig Davidson is up 10 grand, I'm actually down twenty dollars in over two decades plus of running. One more quick story. On another occasion, I was in Tokyo on a business trip with a couple of colleagues and one of them left their laptop computer in a Japanese sandwich shop. And they remembered it a couple of hours later. And I remember we all panicked and we retrace our steps. So we made it back to the shop and there it was in the booth with new people sitting by it, just eating sandwiches. And my Japanese business partner, Yoshida san, promised us the entire journey back that it would be there. And he said at that time that he felt sad, that he didn't feel the same would be said if we had left that laptop sitting in a city in our own country. So today, I want to talk about an article by Dr Mark Travers from Psychology Today called Three Happiness Tips from this year's World Happiness Report. I don't even know if you knew there was a World Happiness report. And we have a list coming up with the three tips that I believe speaks to so many of the concepts that I really enjoy talking about, both in therapy here on the couch and as well as on the podcast.

[00:05:17] So stay tuned to see if there are areas in your life that you can adjust or tweak or even just start to be aware of that add a little more happiness to your life. One of them has to do with finding a wallet. Or do you feel like you could trust that if you lost your wallet that it would be returned to you? There's the tie in to the intro. So we have that and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch. Hey, and before we dove in and I will be brief, you truly do deserve to be happy, especially with all of the things that every single one of us has been going through the last year or a year and a half. And as the stigma around addressing mental health concerns continues to erode, now is the time to find a licensed trained therapist or counselor that can help you with a variety of issues that you might be struggling with from anxiety and depression to OCD or just overall feelings of disconnect or a lack of purpose. You can head directly to Betterhelp.com virtual couch to get connected with a licensed therapist or a counselor who can meet you where you are at, meaning meet you via email or text or phone call or a video session.

[00:06:18] And you can even start speaking with somebody as soon as 48 hours. And I have to tell you, as a practicing therapist, that is invaluable right now. I get so many referrals each day that unfortunately I don't have the bandwidth to be able to help. So please don't wait another second. Go right to Betterhelp.com virtual couch. You'll get ten percent off your first month services over. Well over a million people have found success in the service of Betterhelp.com. They have sliding scale options. They have a very, very good intake process that puts you with a therapist that matches your needs and even your style. So if for any reason you don't find a fit with your therapist or counselor, Betterhelp.com slash virtual couch makes it easy to to not it's not awkward to choose another therapist. It's not it's not them to you or it's not you. It's them. However that line goes. So do yourself a favor. You deserve to get the help. You need to make you a better you to help you raise your emotional baseline and put you in a position to be a better husband, a better wife, a better mother, a better father, better a better employee, better employer. But you deserve it. Go do that right now, Betterhelp.com says virtual couch.

[00:07:22] And let's get to today's episode. Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and sixty two of the virtual couch.

[00:07:36] I'm your host, Tony over me. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified mind coach. I'm recording this one life. So we're going to go where you going to go with it? Coach, coach, therapist, podcast host, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and Online Pornography Recovery Program that's helping people reclaim their life from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anybody else that you know is looking to put that in your rearview mirror, no shame. Go to Pathbackrecovery.com. There you'll find a link to a book, five myths that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. And let's let's get the Today show. Let's do this. I'm really excited about today's. Did you know there was a World Happiness report? That was something I have heard of over the years. It's been something that has been put out yearly for quite some time. And each year, this World Happiness Report provides a comprehensive ranking of the happiest countries in the world. And for the fourth year in a row, it's kind of fascinating. I want you to think right now, what country would you assume is the happiest country in the world? Well, if you guessed Finland, you are right. And that is for the fourth year in a row, Finland earned the ranking as the world's happiest country, with Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands not far behind.

[00:08:49] And this is an article from Psychology Today. And the article, as I mentioned in the introduction, is by a Dr. Mark Travers. And so all credit to Mark Travers in putting this information together. And so but I want to do I think a long time ago I did a what I thought was a reaction video or reaction podcast. So I have read over this and I got a couple of notes jotted down. But I just want to talk about these three insights from the Happiness Report, and I've got many more thoughts on that. So so what Mark says is while there is much to be gained from a country by country comparison, another way to read the report, he says, is to look for the hidden nuggets of insight that we can use to become happier in our own lives. And here are three insights from this year's report that he said should not be overlooked. So just as I talked about in the intro, he said, Incyte, No. One benevolence matters more to happiness than salary. Now, benevolence, what are we talking about? He says the data clearly shows that people are happier in societies where there's a high degree of trust between people. And one way we know this is from a hypothetical benevolence question included and the World Happiness Report. And I would love for you, just to be honest with yourself here, just check yourself internally.

[00:10:00] And I actually had a session recently where someone had been sent to things from a giant large retail organization to expensive things. So the company had accidentally sent them a second thing. And we had a we had a kind of an interesting conversation during the session about what they wanted to do with that second thing. Now, some would immediately say send it back. Others would say, well, the owner of this company is worth billions and billions of dollars and what do they care? And so, you know, everybody has their own experiences or their own interpretations of what they would do. And what might seem crazy to one might seem completely in right in line for another person. So what would you do in this scenario and this hypothetical benevolence question? So the question reads, imagine that you lost a wallet or a purse that contained two hundred dollars. Please indicate how likely you think it would be to have all of your money returned to you if it was found by somebody who lives close by. And I've heard of many situations where somebody will get something returned, but it will not have money in it any longer and or people just don't get anything returned. My wife and I were in Salt Lake City over the weekend, which that was a story I was going to talk about. And just briefly, I was able to go speak at the Generations Utah Mental Health Association conference on the gun, the topic of I believe it was called spiritual trauma or faith journey, faith, crisis and mental health and evolving conversation.

[00:11:25] And it was it was an amazing opportunity. It was an amazing time. I hope to be able to have access to that presentation and and be able to host or post some highlights from that at some point. But if you're a medical mental health professional and you work in that world of faith journey or faith crisis or that sort of thing, shoot me a note at Contact@tonyoverbay.com and I can maybe share some of those notes with you. But we were talking about a situation where there with my mother in law having an amazing time and we were talking about a situation where my wife had left, I think it was her purse somewhere and just someone had just returned it very kindly had contacted her. My wife tried to give them a reward. The person said no. They were just happy that she was able to get her property back. And we were having a great conversation because she said that she you know, this is a while ago and she she felt bad. But just the way the person looked, I mean, we make judgments. We try not to judge when we make judgments. We're we're kind of program that way. And she just said, man, I just I would not have made the assumption or assume that this person would have contacted me, gone through all the trouble to contact me and then give it back.

[00:12:29] And the wallet was still intact and everything was there, so. But but again, imagine that you lost a wallet or purse that contained two hundred dollars. How likely do you think you would be that you would get all that money returned to you if it was found by somebody that lives close by or even think about that situation where if you found the purse or the wallet and it had two hundred dollars, would you take the two hundred dollars and say, hey, I just found it here without money, but here you go. Or would you just take the money and not even worry about it at all? Or would you, would you leave it altogether, just walk by. Well the next person will do something with it. Or would you take that and do everything you could to return it. So people who think that their lost wallet is very likely to be returned with all the money or approximately one point happier on a zero to 10 happiness scale, and that is significant when you're talking about zero to 10. We're talking about a 10 percent bump in happiness as that represents the average happiness difference between citizens of Finland, again, ranked number one in happiness and the Czech Republic ranked 16th, or citizens of the United States that are ranked 14th and Mongolia ranked forty fifth.

[00:13:32] So another way to quantify the effect of societal benevolence on happiness is to compare it to other factors that influence happiness. So here Mark points out the researchers estimate that benevolence carries more than twice as much weight is what would be expected from doubling one's annual salary. In other words, salary matters. But living in a benevolent society matters more and quite a bit more because we often do think that, well, if I had more money, I would be happy. And I know that can sound cliched, that money doesn't buy happiness. I know there are also a lot of clever things that say doesn't buy happiness, but it buys like cool toys or I forget how the saying goes. And I remember doing an episode a long time ago that there's of course, there's data for everything and research that showed the percentage of happiness gained per dollar over a certain amount. And that threshold or that dollar was probably lower than a lot of people would think. I think it was 70, 80 grand a year. And the theory was that the more money from that point that the rate of happiness did not increase dramatically, but it actually started to level out and then go down. So he says that there is a happiness bonus when people get a chance to see the goodness of others and action and to be of service themselves, say the researchers.

[00:14:43] So we have within us one of the things that drives happiness is seeing the good in people, seeing the good in nature. We have this default to truth a lot of times is what it's called. And when we see that or when we have an opportunity to be of service ourselves. So INSIGHT number two, employment is paramount even during a pandemic. And here's what we're going to start to riff a little bit. A large body of research suggests that having a strong sense of purpose is vital to our psychological well-being. One of the core ways we derive our sense of purpose is from our jobs. So it should come as no surprise that unemployed individuals exhibit slightly or significantly, not slightly significantly lower levels of happiness and significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression than individuals with part time or full time jobs. So the research found that the life satisfaction of employed people was approximately one point two points higher on this zero to 10 life satisfaction scale. And furthermore, employment was one of the strongest determinants of life satisfaction during the pandemic. The recent the pandemic, in some cases, countries that were more effective in keeping their citizens working, especially their low skilled workers, showed more psychological resilience through the pandemic. So I want to riff on this one before we get into INSIGHT number three.

[00:15:56] So a few different thoughts. When we talk about employment, I think that we need to even look at what does that mean by employment? In my opinion, if someone is a stay at home mom, that that that is absolutely viewed as their job. So if they are finding a sense of purpose in that job, then that would come, I believe is one of those indicators of a higher level of happiness if they find a sense of purpose. Now, not to sound like this is a big controversial take, but I still remember one of the first clients I met with years and years ago who was a stay at home mom, but that wasn't what she really wanted to do. And she felt bad about that. Her kind of her society, her family pressures her. The people that she spent the most time with, they put a significant value on her as a is women who stay at home mothers. And I have to tell you, I grew up with the stay at home mom. My wife has been a stay at home mom. I have so much empathy and compassion and gratitude for the plight of the stay at home mom. But I remember when this woman said, I know I shouldn't want to work outside of the home. And I even remember then when I didn't have all my don't show it on yourself skills that I remember thinking, well, why why shouldn't you want to do that? If that's something you want to do, then let's talk about that.

[00:17:09] Let's explore that. And this was in the initial days of where I was putting together data on my emotional baseline theory, which again is that you the higher you can get your emotional baseline, the better position you are in to be a better fill in the blank mother, husband, wife, employer, employee, person, servant, whatever that is that when you. You feel like your emotional baseline is low, it is more difficult to be present or stay engaged, and the more work that I've done with acceptance and commitment therapy, now these these principles come into play that are just truly amazing, the principle of socially compliant goal. If I am actually staying at home, let's take the stay at home mom. If I'm a stay at home mom and I'm doing it because I think I'm supposed to or I will let someone else down, then by definition that fits into this category of a socially compliant goal. And as Dr. Steven Hayes, founder of says, your motivation will be weak and ineffective because that goes against your own process of unfolding, which means that if you if you want and desire to be a stay at home mom, then then, man, embrace it and own it and you will find that sense of purpose. But if you feel because of all of your experiences that have led to that point in your life, your nature and nurture and birth order, DNA and abandonment, rejection and hopes and dreams and all the things that you saw modeled, if that puts you in a spot where you feel like, no, I want to I want to have these values of, I don't know, adventure, knowledge or whatever they are that you feel like I want to have a career, but then you are a stay at home mom because you feel like you're supposed to, then that can be difficult.

[00:18:43] I'm not saying it can't be done, but that can be difficult, because when you start living life by a socially compliant goal and again, going back to that, by definition, motivation is weak and ineffective because it goes against your sense of self or unfolding, then that leads to another one of the parts of acceptance and commitment therapy that I find fascinating is this concept of experiential avoidance, which means that when you don't really feel connected or have a sense of purpose, instead what we do is we find so many different ways to avoid so many different ways to just occupy our mind with other things, because we don't necessarily feel like a sense of purpose or engaged in the thing that we're doing. Again, in this scenario, we're talking about if someone truly doesn't feel at their core like they want to be a stay at home mom or what I work with constantly, I want to say all the time, but I don't want to do all or nothing.

[00:19:30] Statements are people that are underemployed or they are they are they feel like stuck in a job. They've got the golden handcuffs or they feel like it is just not what they want to be doing. So their entire job, their nine to five or sometimes even more, they are living in a socially compliant world on a day to day basis. So they're doing a job. They don't find a sense of purpose. And so in doing so, they are consistently, experientially avoiding looking for anything other than what they feel that they need to be doing or they're supposed to be doing by nature of what their job is. And then what that leads to is they typically get to the early afternoon or that sort of thing. And at that point, it's like, you know, I'll I'll do this tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day and tomorrow I'm going to I'm going to kill it. But for now, I'm going to spend a little more time on the Internet or play another game or on social media. That's experiential avoidance. When somebody is living a sense of purpose, when they are just loving their day to day their job, taking care of their kids, studying, learning, whatever it is, if they are if they are really living true to their values, then you don't want to experience a void.

[00:20:35] And I can tell you, I have been there, literally been there. I spent a decade in high tech and I just thought, this is this what I do? But I didn't find high tech is my passion. I mean, I love going to Japan, some of those kind of things and going to trade shows. And I presented all over the world. I love the part where I got the present. I got to speak and get excited about things. But those negotiations in that day to day and meeting with other tech people, that that was not my sense of purpose, which then would would definitely lead to experiential avoidance, where it was just trying to drag out a day to get to the end of the day. And but tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm on it. Tomorrow I'll do I'll do better. Or if it was, I always make the joke that if it's it's why we make it the Wednesday and you still haven't really accomplished a lot now Monday, you know, just like we do with diet or exercise or you can't start in the middle of the week. But Monday, that's a new day. And all of a sudden, if it's the 16th of the month and it's like next month, I'm on it, or if it's the month of July, then it's next year, I'm going to kill it next year.

[00:21:31] So that concept of experimental avoidance is just so it's almost ingrained in us because we really want to, as this happiness report talks about, we want a sense of purpose. That's one of the biggest drivers of happiness. But sometimes we don't even know where to start or we feel stuck in our jobs. There are people that I work with on a regular basis that they're they're paid pretty well. And so they feel like, well, I put myself in this position where what am I supposed to do now? That's a whole other podcast for a different day. Because if you really do feel stuck, well, then we need to identify your core values and try to work them into the job that you're in now and have some really cool examples of that. That sound like I've purely made them up examples of people that have had some value of of a connection or of kindness, and they've been able to implement that into the workplace by starting new programs, even within a large corporate environment that really give them that sense of purpose. So that, number two, employment is paramount even during a pandemic can mean anything from having a job. They. You don't necessarily feel a sense of purpose or connected to or if you feel like the things that you're doing on any given day to day situation, don't really speak to your core values that in that scenario, then you are looking for just ways to make it through a day, not ways to thrive during the day.

[00:22:51] OK, insight number three. This one has a list. So I'm going to I'm going to bust through this one pretty quick. But inside number three, he says a pandemic may change the way we work, but it doesn't change what makes us happy in our jobs. So the researchers investigated what makes people happy at work. And specifically, they looked at the extent to which the workplace happiness was defined by the following 11 characteristics. So I'm going to go through these. I'm going to throw some nice, good old therapeutic principles. And I will tell you, I can already anticipate that they are all pretty much all going to be based on acceptance and commitment therapy principles or maybe even some four pillars of a connected conversation principle. So the 11 characteristics, number one, feeling like we achieve our goals at work. And I think that this one speaks back to that sense of purpose. And so talk about goals. And I've been working with a buddy of mine, Neal Hooper, who has an online program. He has a podcast, The Happiness Playbook. And Neal and I have been doing a lot of work around the concept of goals. I am fine. I am a fan of goals, don't get me wrong. But I feel like so often we're we're putting these goals in front of us that we really don't find a real passion behind or we don't find real purpose behind.

[00:24:01] So we may put a goal. And this is where I talk often about the acceptance and commitment therapy view of a New Year's resolution. So if somebody says I have a goal to run a marathon, but at their core, they they hate running, they don't want to run, then that is going to be one of these socially compliant goals. They put this goal in front of him. That isn't something they really even believe in. Now, if their goal is to exercise daily now, that's a goal that is a little bit more tangible or easy to achieve because that can mean anything. That can be push ups, sit ups. That can mean weightlifting. It can mean an elliptical trainer, a rower running. It can be anything. So feeling like we achieve our goals at work is one of these characteristics that's key to finding happiness. So I would challenge that. Are you going after goals that you truly believe in or that matter to you? If not, your motivation is going to be weak for those. So in the work that Neil and I have been doing, in particular, we have been looking at setting Value-Based goals. That's absolutely essential. And then when and I don't want to sound so dramatic, but when not if you you may not succeed on a daily basis on achieving these goals, then what do you do with that information? You don't beat yourself up.

[00:25:12] You don't shame yourself. You kind of notice what are the things that have kept you from continuing to move toward that goal and you reevaluate and you and you get back on the horse, you're resilient. No. To having a clear sense of purpose. So I think this is what I was speaking to a little bit in that second point or that second thing. We talked about having a purpose so that clear sense of purpose is important. And how do you find that sense of purpose? Again, you are the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. So you need to really be able to sit and tap into what is important for you. And I talk about this so often, but one of my favorite exercises to do with clients is to go through a list of values and to do a one on one with the client, not even to have the spouse in the room, because we find that we all have different values. And I was talking with someone recently and they have a value. One of the values on this value list that that I often refer to is it's fun and humor. Now, for some people, that isn't a value.

[00:26:11] You might enjoy a little humor, but to this person, they're funny. They enjoy humor. Humor not only can diffuse an intense situation, but they feel like it's a good way to break the ice or to communicate or to really to really connect with somebody. But because of some situations in their life right now, they realize we're going through this list and we hit that fun and humor. And that is a definite core value. And I love this point. Then they stopped and said, I don't think I'm living my values right now. So we took a look at their current work environment. And inserting humor is an area that they could do right now. They can start to insert their value based goal into their current environment. So and honestly, if you're working with me in therapy, I use a lot of humor. And I remember when I was a brand new therapist and I remember when I felt like I have to look or act like a therapist would. I remember feeling at times like, oh, I can't say that joke right now or I shouldn't use humor right now. And I remember thinking, no, I'm that's a that is such a deep core value of mine that I have to be myself. Now, if the person doesn't like that I use humor, then I also have to be able to accept that and not try to convince them that no, no, you don't get it.

[00:27:17] Like, I'm really funny, you know, or trust me, this will help. If that person doesn't connect to that style, then I need to be able to sit and be comfortable with that invalidation. And that's OK. When I was speaking at this conference over the weekend or it was Monday of this week, it was. It was so fun because I still find myself getting ready to speak and this thing was going to be broadcast worldwide streamed and there were people in the room and I'm talking about a somewhat controversial topic for some. I love talking about mixed faith, marriage and stages of faith and spiritual journeys and all of those things. But I remember I still had that really brief moment where I almost thought I couldn't be funny or I couldn't crack jokes. And instead I thought, no, that's this is who I am. And so the first thing I did was I made a joke. There's a I have to link to this at some point. But when I was promoting my free parenting course, there's a nice way to throw a plug in there. Right. You can go sign up for it. Right now, it's on my Tony Buy.com. It's a parenting positively, even in the not so positive of times. And it's based on the nurtured heart approach. And again, it's free. But I was promoting that on a local news station.

[00:28:21] Good day, Sacramento, I believe it was, and the clips out there. But right before I go on, they've got you waiting and I'm listening to the anchor and the anchors interviewing someone who they wrote a book or they were talking. It was Elmo's dad. Elmo from Sesame Street's dad is on the screen. And I forget he's talking about something awesome, like don't bully people or something. And I am here. I've got 90 seconds to promote a parenting course on TV and and I'm excited. I'm ready. And I start thinking, I didn't know Elmo had a dad. And then thinking, darn, you do not do not. When they cut, you don't say anything about Elmo's dad. Don't say anything about almost dad. You got 90 seconds to promote your parenting program. It can help people. It can. And there like now here we go to Tony Overbay and he's got a free parenting course. And my first thing out of my mouth, I don't know, Elmo had a dad. And so then 30 something seconds of my 90 second spot. We were cracking jokes about Elmo's dad, but didn't know we had a dad. And what did that do? I felt actually like I was more true to myself and I had a lot of wonderful feedback. And and if somebody decided I'm not taking that parenting course because that man made a joke about Elmo's father, then bless their heart, that's OK.

[00:29:34] But I had to be true to myself. So having a clear sense of purpose is the second characteristic of workplace happiness. The third one is feeling appreciated, and that's one where I feel like everyone wants to be heard every well. And this one goes along with number four, which is feeling a sense of belonging. So three and four, feeling a sense of purpose or feeling a sense of belonging and feeling appreciated. And so everyone wants to feel like we matter. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to know that somebody cares about us, that they have our back. Because this goes back to if you want to go deep into evolutionary biological parts of the brain where we feel like if we're not appreciated, if we feel like we don't have a sense of belonging, that we're going to be abandoned. This goes back to our deep childhood abandonment wounds. And we feel like if if people aren't if I don't feel part of this group or clan and I'm booted out, then I might be devoured by a saber tooth tiger. So we really want to feel appreciated in the sense of belonging. We want to be part of a tribe or a group which can be so difficult when we may feel like our group isn't there for us. Number five is having time and location flexibility. And again, I told you, I'm going to react a little bit.

[00:30:36] I read through this list and I decided that I would not put too many notes here because this one I was about to say I can be completely wrong. I'm just stating my opinion in the moment. But having time and location flexibility, there's a part of me that feels like this is that psychological reactance component of psychological reactance. Again, is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. So sometimes I feel like if we're saying you need to be here at this time, our own brain at its core wants to say, no, I can do whatever I want. So I feel like maybe this one speaks of being able to have time and location. Flexibility gives us a sense of freedom and a sense of we're not chained down or we're not. If things come up that we have the freedom to be able to to float, to do what we need to do, that is best for us. Number six, working in an inclusive and respectful environment. And I think that one could probably even go back to the three in the four appreciated sense of belonging, working in an inclusive and respectful environment. We want to be heard. We want to be respected. We want to feel like we matter. We want to feel like our and our opinions are important. Or at least listen to number seven, the seven seventh characteristic of workplace happiness, learning at work.

[00:31:40] And I feel like I often this is maybe a little bit of a side tangent, but I feel like in working with people, oftentimes people say I just want to have a job where I don't have to do anything or I just do the same thing over and over. So at least I know what's expected of me. And I hear people when they say that until then you actually get somebody that's in that position where they feel like they they miss this opportunity for growth or they may be good at a repetitive task, but they want more. I mean, I have literally found this even in working with surgeons who who do the same procedures over and over. Now, for some, it's an amazing thing, but for others, they may feel like I'm not I'm not I'm not scratching that itch to learn a true story. But back in my technology days when I left technology, I actually owned part of a nut and bolt company. And it was a fascinating technology. And I traveled a lot with a business partner. And Hunan, who recently passed away and I've never talked about him, but it's been I don't know if any of his family listened to my podcast, but to give a big shout out to my my buddy Mark Doyle, who passed away recently, I really miss him. But this we would we would go tour these facilities.

[00:32:49] He's not in both facilities. And I remember going to this one at one point. And this company there was a guy there and he had a notepad on on a table for his elbow and all he was all he was doing. But what his job was, was just separating these these nuts and looking for imperfections. And he had been doing that for thirty five years, showing up every morning in this repetitive task. So for him, he loved doing that. He found a sense of purpose. He had some headphones on. But for a lot of people, you really do want to learn at work. And I found that's been one of the most wonderful things I did not anticipate about my current job when I did make the move to be a therapist is being able to continually learn to to learn the latest. I mean, I've been seeing couples for years. I've seen over a thousand couples. I love the concepts around F.T. emotionally focused therapy. But in creating this magnetic marriage course I've talked so much about recently, I, I came upon the really the depth of the the concept of differentiation. And that's been something that I've been implementing in my own life and even had experiences where I had some aha. Moments around differentiation that I probably talk about in a later episode just this past weekend and interacting with some extended family.

[00:33:59] So I feel like, you know, in this 11 characteristics of workplace happiness, learning at work is significant. Number eight, having a manager who helps us succeed. And I feel like we can start to get this pattern going of where we want to, having a manager who helps us succeed. We want to be heard. We want to know that we matter. We would know that our opinions matter. And I've used my four pillars of a connected conversation, even in doing some corporate training, where even if the manager maybe disagrees with what the employee is suggesting, that it's still important to recognize that my four pillars, that that person is not saying something to hurt anyone, you can't immediately put out the message of you're wrong and pillar three, ask questions before making comments. So if somebody says at work, I really feel like it would be great if we did something different. I guarantee you that having a manager that says, OK, even if it's something that that manager feels attacked on, that they know that that person didn't wake up in the morning and think, oh, I'll let my manager have it today and tell him I think this is what we could do better or this is what we're doing wrong. But no, to kind of say, OK, they are not trying to hurt me. And number two, I can't say that's ridiculous or I'm going to shut that person down.

[00:35:07] They're not going to feel like they can open up to us or be their best selves. So even as a manager in that situation, not saying that's ridiculous, but moving into my pillar, three questions and comments and saying, hey, tell me more, maybe help me see my blind spots or tell me where you came up with that idea or what you're sharing with me right now. And then pillar four is staying present. So that manager in that situation can't go into victim mode and say, OK, fine, I guess I guess you can just do whatever the heck you want. And it doesn't matter that I'm your manager now. It's going into victim mode that's wanting that person to now come rescue you. So I even feel like having a manager who helps us succeed falls into this, having trying to figure out how to how to have a connected conversation with somebody at work, number nine, being paid fairly. That one, I think somewhat speaks for itself. I think there's also we we all want to we are doing comparisons. We we're comparing ourselves to others in our group or tribe because we feel like if for some reason that we are less than that, that we may eventually be on our way out from the group, that we might be abandoned. And as I've talked about in many, many podcasts, and if I had more time, I would do it right now.

[00:36:11] But my my big favorite abandonment and attachment speech. But as we move into adulthood, we have to recognize what an abandonment wound looks like, that when people don't respond the way we would like for them to say, let's say that if we aren't being paid fairly, then we immediately go into the what's wrong with me might not as valuable. Am I not lovable who may not in my broken and but but so that being paid fairly, I think speaks on a lot of different levels to success in the feeling, happiness in the workplace. No one is feeling supported. I think that's that part where again we all want to know that we, we are cared about that we matter that maybe I'm going a little overboard with the EFT principle here, but that we're loved, that we're supported in the workplace, that we know that someone will hear us, that they will listen to us, that we won't be shut down or manipulated. And no one is trusting our colleagues. And that's that's the eleventh characteristic of workplace happiness, trusting our colleagues, because we want to be able to know that we are in a supportive environment, that we're not we don't have to be as protective, that we can be more open, that we can be more radiant with our energy, and that we can express ourselves and know that our colleagues or or we can trust them and that we know that they they are not going to take advantage of us, that that is a workplace happiness que for sure.

[00:37:26] So wrapping things up, they found in the top four drivers of workplace happiness where belonging flexibility in. Elusiveness and purpose and interestingly, he says, having a helpful manager was the characteristic least correlated with workplace happiness. So really we have this deep desire from within to find meaning and purpose and expression and value. So while having a good manager is important, they pointed out that that's the least correlated with workplace happiness. So a lot of these are really these things that come from within. Furthermore, the researchers tracked employees responses to these questions over the early months of the pandemic. And from December twenty nineteen to June twenty twenty, they found little evidence of the pandemic influenced the drivers of workplace happiness. For instance, there were no changes in the order of the 11 characteristics listed above from December to June. So the authors concluded that even in turbulent times, the well-being of workers is highly dependent on the consistent and fundamental driver. So as a result, organizations that cultivate workplace environments to foster and sustain these drivers in good times may also be better prepared to withstand labor market shocks and support employee well-being in times of economic uncertainty. So that's all the time we have for today. I hope that you were able to pull a little something out of this of what does bring you joy or work in the workplace or in life, because this is from the World Happiness Report that how about we all try to take something from this list today or something that you've heard today and see if you can implement it in your daily life? Are you living by a sense of purpose or are you aware of what your core values are? If you're not, should be an email contact@tonyoverbay.com.

[00:39:00] I can send a link to you of place online that I often point people to where they can. There's a find your values exercise and that might be the place I would start is really tap into what are your core values? Are you living by those values? Does your job touch on those values? And if not, can you work those values into your job? That might be a good place to start. And and just know that one of the other themes here is you're not broken, you're human. So you have all the thoughts and feelings and emotions you do because you are you and I got to be honest, it's pretty awesome that you're you. But let's make sure that you agree with that. So we're have a great day as taking us out. Per usual is the wonderful the talented Aurora Florence or the song just had a perfect time of year. It's wonderful. All right. Have a great week. I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

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