A scientific study proves self-care can only take you so far.
Forget meditation apps, Tony Robbins seminars and all-inclusive wellness retreats. Happiness’ business model is pyramid-shaped.
A research article in The Journal of Positive Psychology says happiness comes from “making others feel good, rather than oneself.”
Very in fashion with the pyramid scheme model: you can make your first steps towards happiness on your own — read self-help, maybe do some yoga — but if you really want to make it, get your friends and relatives involved somehow.
I think this is a refreshing pivot. Pyramid schemes used to be all about scammy tactics to trick people into buying over-hyped multivitamins and surface cleaners.
Now it could be the model that helps us understand what makes us happier.
Happiness’ secret ingredient is “relatedness,” researchers say
Relatedness is a basic psychological need.
Some people think if we were not restrained by laws and moral codes, society would immediately spring into a rioting rampage of rape and murder and robbery. But our brains are wired to feel good when we nurture a sense of collaboration and community.
We evolved to scratch each other's backs, and given how anatomically difficult it is to do it on your own, I believe Mother Nature wanted us to figure out we need one another after all.
Like in any pyramid scheme, happiness is rigged against individuality.
The researchers tested it: you can’t hack relatedness by sending good vibes back to yourself. And that’s why most happiness-seeking models don’t ultimately work: they lack this sense of community.
Self-help, for one, has ‘self’ in its title
That should be a red flag.
Although I’m not saying we should neglect ourselves. I eat healthily, meditate and exercise, get my hours of sleep and sunshine, and drink lots of water (and since that kidney stone catastrophe of 2019 I’ve been extra diligent with that last one).
I don’t think we could be physically and emotionally inclined to make others feel good unless we’ve done a bare minimum of self-directed work.
But you know. Self-care can only take you so far.
To keep improving your happiness levels, ditch the “self” and embrace the “help.” There’s no “I” in “next level.”
Can money buy happiness?
Getting the millions with a B is another one of those self-centered tactics that won’t work. It’s a pity some of us will remain skeptical right up until we’re crying in our Lambo.
Here’s the thing: material wealth only increases happiness as far as our basic needs go. Once those are satisfied, the Musk bucks and Buffet bills won’t make our lives any merrier.
Speaking of pyramids, do you know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
Money can take you into the first floor of the pyramid, the physiological needs, and up to the second floor, the safety needs.
But once there, there is no more material deprivation to relief. Money can’t buy a VIP ticket to the penthouse of that pyramid: self-transcendence. The pinnacle of human fulfilment, where we find ourselves transcending the ego and focusing on something bigger.
What about going spiritual?
Those who don’t know how to set up funnels to get rich may opt for detachment instead.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons why trying spirituality, studying Buddhism, going monastic, and meditating your way out of the illusion of the self.
But spirituality’s been capitalized into yet another product for the “Health and Wellness” aisle.
And if it were the ultimate solution, I’d expect Andy Puddicombe not to come back from the Himalayas after 10 years, meditating 16 hours a day, to create a subscription-based meditation app.
Some of us just crave the frenzy of the west. As for me, I’m a writer. I need to be one with everything, but through an internet connection — which I suspect is something the Himalayas are in scarce of.
Philosophy can make you wiser — and sadder
Tell me if a cheerful person could’ve come up with the trolley problem:
A runaway train is headed towards 5 workers on a railway line. The only way to save the workers is to operate a lever that would make the train go down a side rail. Problem is, there’s another worker on that one too. So, do you leave the lever untouched and have 5 workers killed, or do you switch the lever, killing the one worker on the side rail, but saving the other 5?
I get philosophy it’s meant to make us wiser, sometimes by testing our moral virtue with thought experiments. But it doesn’t work for me. I’d prefer to imagine the 6 workers and me over a barbecue.
In fact, it seems that if you drift too much into philosophical self-absorption, you’re bound to become depressive about existence. All for something that, in the end, no one cares about.
Or as Plato put it: “That man is wisest who, like Socrates, realizes that his wisdom is worthless.”
Self-centric tactics out of the way — how do we make others feel good?
Here’s how I’m doing it: I don’t try to force it. Because that would be inauthentic, right? That would be the ol’ self-centric impulse showing, trying to hack my way to greater happiness.
Instead, if the opportunity to make someone else feel good presents itself naturally, I take it.
Even the little things can make an impact. In one study, researchers approached people that had just park their cars, gave them a few quarters, and told them to either feed their own parking meter or the meter of a stranger. Participants showed a greater lift in happiness levels when they fed others’ meters.
But again, it’s the genuine gesture, not the quarters, that made them feel good. It’s the magic of relatedness, available to everyone and everywhere.
You don’t need a researcher approaching you on the street after parking your car. Just get your head out of your ass and pay attention to these opportunities.
One final tip from the pyramid scheme canon
Just recruit five people.
You know how it goes: make five people feel good, because if they make five more people feel good, and then those make five more people feel good…
It sounds like an impossibly large chain, but if you do the math, you’ll see we can repeat this cycle only 14 times. After 14 cycles, you run out of people on the planet. That shows the true, shady nature of pyramid schemes — but also, how easy it could be to spread The Good Vibes.
So now you have a legitimate reason to message your aunt on Facebook, without any pressure to segue the conversation into selling her a disinfectant.
Go make those five people feel good.
By Loudt Darrow
Photo by arash payam on Unsplash (modified by author)
I was standing by the lake one windy morning watching the waves crash up against some rocks and the ripple effect that followed. The wave hit one area and cascaded long the others closer to where I was standing. It was beautiful, full of energy and at the same time made me realize that this can be translated into how one negative thought tends to release a series of more negative ones. This seems to happen to ‘feed’ or confirm the first one. I have found that negative thoughts hate being alone ... they look for company.
In my own personal experience as well working professionally in the arena of personal growth and development, I all too often witness how this unfolds.
I am not a therapist or neuroscientist so cannot speak scientifically. Having said that I have enough evidence after 16 years of working in this area to be able to say the patterns are there.
It strikes me that our minds do not like to give up the negative thoughts. Our brain looks for further thoughts to confirm this 'truth'. The thought might be far from true now in your actual present-day reality, yet we treat it as absolute truth in our thinking. From what I witness these beliefs come from emotions, more often than not emotions from the past, even recent past (last job, last relationship). Our behaviour follows our thinking, so our behaviour will act upon what we think and therefore believe.
For example: If you believe you are not very good at something chances are you will act this way. Instead of taking the approach to learn how to, or improve, you shy away from it.
Of course, the very first step must be being aware of this thought pattern and the resulting behaviour. To make any changes it is vital to be aware of a pattern. If it turns out to be limiting belief that is holding you back this belief is best challenged and reframed. If is is there due to lack of clarity you know to get more clarity.
In order to stay calm and grounded it requires certain behaviours that feed being calm.
Each person will have their own requirements. What you as an individual need to feel calm will most likely differ from someone else’s needs. Each has their own interpretation of success as well as what feeling calm and grounded means to them.
Based on my own personal experience this also changes depending on our age.
I know when I was 30 my focus was very different to 40. At 30 I was focused on creating my family and being a wife and mother. At 50 I noticed that feeling fulfilled was my new goal and turning 60 was fabulous as I had completely grown into my skin by then and was more than happy to focus on my core values and needs. The 'older age' goal is answering the question ‘how do I want this chapter of my life to look and feel’… This one is still work in progress so watch this space.
Tips for what comes next
If you find yourself lost in a negative thinking pattern regarding an issue, observe any common denominators that kick the first thought off. What sets those wheels in motion? What happens next? Observe yourself, raise your awareness to your patterns.
Is it a recurring situation, a recurring interaction, an issue left unresolved, a lack of clarity?
It could be a number of things. Get to know yourself to find out what exactly it is.
It is worthwhile to observe what comes next. Which thoughts follow, how do you act, react, behave, or deal with it?
Always remember to be patient and kind with yourself during any process of growth or change.
by Suzie Doscher:
Coaching for Personal Development: Life Coaching and Executive Coach, Self-Help Author
Photo credit: Pexels and Shutterstock
I remember doing a Self-Esteem exercise while I was studying to become a coach. What I loved about the Noble Manhattan Coaching training was that we had to do all work on ourselves.
Talk about furthering your own personal growth and development.
How could I work with clients if I had did not know and experience all the growth myself.
I loved the changes that I was making to my own behaviour patterns as I was learning how to apply them professionally.
16 years later I still believe it to be the best coach training - even if I had not become a professional coach. The benefits from doing the work for myself improved the quality of my personal and professional life no end and still does.
Self-esteem evaluation Exercise
Answer the following questions, giving each one a score out of 10 using the following scale:
Totally agree with the statement
As it is out of a total possible high score of 10 you will gain an insight into where your self-esteem is at.
If you want to start with some self-coaching consider these thoughts:
1. The Present
Eckhart Tolle refers to living in the now, which means being able to see and feel what your life is in the present moment.
The present-day buzzword for this is to be mindful by practicing mindfulness.
Standing in a beautiful park, by a calming body of water, or attending your child’s school play or other family event, and actually seeing the trees, feeling the flow and energy of the water, enjoying the play or event while feeling joy instead of being lost in your thoughts (which are taking you elsewhere) is experiencing the now, the present moment, being mindful of that very moment.
Thoughts can propel you into an entirely different location even if you are not there physically. It seems odd that we do not just naturally live in the now. After all, almost everyone would agree that the present moment, the now, is all we have.
When you are able to live in the day life becomes more relaxed and enjoyable. You empower yourself by influencing what you can influence.
This becomes a powerful technique to step out of stress.
This is not to say you should never think of the future and plan to reach your goals and avoid pitfalls.
It is more about how this is done. Keep your energy where it is needed - in the day.
Examine your present-day reality and determine what is working and what is not working.
Explore what you can influence and what not.
Miscommunication can happen in any relationship, whether it’s personal or professional. And when it does, it’s important that we step back and acknowledge how we can communicatemore clearly going forward. This is a topic we discuss in our book, Your Time to Thrive, where we use science, storytelling, ancient wisdom, and practical advice, to help readers improve their health, happiness, and sense of purpose.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us the words and phrases that help them communicate more effectively and mindfully. Which of these phrases will you start using?
“Tell me more.”
“I have learned to use appreciative inquiry to gain trust and open communication in personal and professional relationships. Phrases like, ‘Tell me more…’ or ‘What are you trying to achieve and how can I help you?’ create the feeling of inclusion and partnership to facilitate a two-way communication.”
—Isabelle Bart, social entrepreneur and coach, Orange County, CA
“Help me understand.”
“I find that everything is more effective when presented as an offer. This is especially helpful when presenting an opposing view. For example, I’ll say, ‘I’d offer that it’s more important to hire based on who is the best fit for the team than on experience. The reason is….’ I’ve also found that when people are nervous to speak in meetings or presentations, this simple opening helps because offering feels better than trying to prove yourself.”
—Pam Reece, leadership and wellness consultant, New York, N.Y.
“Do you want me to simply listen?”
“To encourage empathy and clarity in my conversations, I often find myself asking, ‘Can I share something about that with you or did you just want me to listen?’ Sometimes, people just want to be heard and are not looking for feedback, so this helps to gauge if they would like another perspective or not, and leaves the person feeling heard and cared for either way.”
—Julie Demsey, hypnotherapist, coach, author, Sydney, Australia
Many people grow up pretty confused about their emotions and how they work. So, understandably, they tend to simply avoid what feels bad and hold onto what feels good.
The problem is…
Making decisions based on how you feel is a recipe for both failure and unhappiness.
On the other hand, emotionally sophisticated people have a more nuanced understanding of how emotions work. And the better you understand your emotions, the easier it is to work with them in a healthy way.
Emotional sophistication means having a deep understanding of how your emotions actually work.
If you want to cultivate a healthier understanding of your emotions, these 6 habits are a good place to start.
1. They’re Curious About Their Own Mind
One of the most powerful words in the English lexicon today is “trigger.” We are finally accepting that there is a spectrum of internal and external influences that can legitimately take us off course. We understand that a person, place, object, event, even a smell can trigger an emotional response so potent, we can be transported back to a trauma we’ve worked hard to forget, or come to terms with. These triggers can threaten our well-being and disrupt feelings around our core values. They can appear out of nowhere and make us feel powerless.
As an aspiring leader, a trigger can become your biggest obstacle. A strong, effective leader needs to be able to identify their emotional triggers, understand what can set them off, and steel themselves when these triggers threaten to topple everything they’ve worked for.
Here are some strategies to help you identify and deal with those triggers so you can grow and develop into the leader you are meant to become.
What’s your most cherished value? We all have driving forces that keep us inspired and motivated, whether it’s supporting our loved ones, giving to those in need, finding fulfillment in our work, or making a difference in our community.
Determining your most cherished value and using it to your advantage can drastically change your approach to your work, infusing you with additional internal motivation, says Rebecca Greenbaum, Ph.D., professor of human resource management at Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations.
That’s where value triggers come in. Value triggers are items that represent something that matters deeply to you — for example,
Finding It Difficult to Fall Asleep?
Thoughts that are keeping you awake clearly want some attention. Otherwise, they would not still be lurking around in the back of your head, keeping your mind and body from unwinding and relaxing into a good night’s sleep. Ideally, sleep helps process our emotions. I look at a good night’s sleep as comparable to an effective filing system – while sleeping, your mind files what needs to be kept and your emotions discard anything unnecessary.
Your emotions then have time to settle, and your intuition has a chance to speak to you. A good night’s sleep allows for a fresh mind, the possibility of a new approach, to start the day feeling more balanced.
Thinking habits and problem-solving skills, no matter how good and effective they are, do not always allow for the mind to be at peace every night.
If you’re stuck tossing and turning once your head hits the pillow, these tips can help.
There are few things more frustrating than getting in bed after a long, tiring day only to realize your brain isn’t ready for sleep. You know those nights: Despite how exhausted you feel, your mind is off ruminating on tomorrow’s to-do list, your uncertainties about the pandemic, or whatever other worries are real for you in that moment. While you’re in the heat of tossing and turning, sleep can feel like a hopeless reality — but fortunately, that’s rarely the case. There are plenty of in-the-moment strategies that can help us kick our worries out the door so we can get the rest we need and deserve.
We asked our Thrive community to share their go-to strategies that help them fall asleep when they’re stuck tossing and turning. Which of these tips will you turn to the next time you can’t sleep?
by Thomas Oppong
The world’s greatest thinkers problem-solvers and decision-makers rely on a set of principles, shortcuts, frameworks and smart tools to cut through complexity, difficult decisions and life-changing obstacles.
These are a few of my thinking principles. I use them to improve and upgrade my intellectual life. All of them will help you think better, and I hope they inspire your own intellectual curiosity. Each thinking model offers a different framework that you can use to look at life.
Feedback will always be ineffective if the recipient doesn’t understand it. Here’s how to make sure your conversations always achieve the intended result.
How effective are you at giving feedback?
When managers answer this question, they often describe how and how often they deliver feedback to their employees: timely, direct, actionable, contextual, continuous. As long as the feedback is delivered often enough and directly enough, we reason that it’s effective.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab titled “ Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It?” provides a grave reality check. Their research shows that many managers deliver inflated feedback unintentionally, and often think they’ve been much more clear then they have been.
Indeed, in one study mentioned in the article conducted at a multinational nonprofit organization, Schaerer and Swaab observed that “the employees perceived feedback as being more positive than their managers thought they would.” When the feedback became more negative, the understanding gap widened.
Every summer, many people put aside their work, daily stresses and responsibilities and escape on a vacation, somewhere far away from reality. It may be a secluded retreat in the mountains, a camping trip with the kids, an arranged tour in another country, an Alaskan cruise, or days relaxing at an exotic beach or resort.
However, with the current pandemic including social distancing and travel restrictions, along with financial constraints for many, those plans may have to be temporarily shelved. But the desire to escape reality – for just a bit – is very much alive. So, with many people remaining in their homes, how can that off-work journey happen? We have some tips for making the best of the situation and creating cherished vacation memories without ever leaving home. It’s called a staycation.
What’s a staycation?
by Suzie Doscher, Executive Coach and Life Coach for Personal Development, Self-Help Author
How can companies best support their employees during these difficult and challenging covid related times?.
Working from home has added some extra issues to deal with.
Individuals benefit from support dealing with:
(Coaching is not a substitute for counseling, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, mental health care or substance abuse treatment)
Life is a great teacher — but no one gets a complete set of rules they’ll need for a better life or career.
Somehow you’re just supposed to know that building better and meaningful relationships can do more for your health and help you live a happier life.
Albert Einstein once said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
There are no universal truths in life but there are fundamental skills that can help every functioning adult thrive in life. Those skills can be acquires with experience and time. Success is subjective but whatever your definition of success is, these essential skills can help you achieve it faster.
When to trust your gut and when to double-check with your rational mindAlbert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Ever been asked to say a few things about yourself? Perhaps you said you’re a good communicator, attentive to details, or a team player. The point being, we all define ourselves in a certain way.
Here’s the paradox, though; It’s not what you say that is an accurate representation of who you are, but rather what you show yourself to be. That’s how people judge you. They respond to the image you project. As such, it’s critical to focus on what you do rather than what you say.
If you want to sell yourself to the world in an authentic way, focus on these four really small things because they say a lot about you. This way, you’re guaranteed to make a lasting impression and command respect from people.
By Caroline Bologna
There's research to suggest some genres of music are better for productivity than others. As many of us continue to work from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen big shifts in the way we conduct business.
Without the background noise of the traditional office setting, many people have implemented music into their work days to fill the sound void and break up the monotony. Others have turned to music to help drown out the chaos of their home lives while they work.
Music can help stimulate the senses and get the creative juices flowing. A 2005 study linked listening to music while working with quicker and higher-quality results. But research has also shown that some kinds are better for different work contexts than others.
By Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., Psychotherapist in Private Practice and Author of 40 books.
A surge in coronavirus cases nationwide has led to more restrictions. And people are struggling with how to deal with social isolation from friends and loved ones and how to live with school closings, rethinking holiday celebrations and working remotely. These hardships have led to public mental health challenges on a massive scale. There is a small bit of good news, though, about a remedy we all have at our fingertips to mitigate pandemic worry and frustration. A growing body of research indicates spending time in natural green spaces — parks, woodlands, mountains and beaches — has healing properties and underscores the value of exposure to nature for your mental and physical health during pandemic restrictions.
By Diana Raab, PhD, Award-winning author/poet/blogger/speaker
I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” ~ Hermann Hesse
The way in which you deal with the stresses and our ‘new norm’ bestowed on us by the pandemic, could be an indication of how resilient you really are. Resilience is defined as the ability to withstand or recover from difficult situations. It’s the ability to ‘spring back,’ in spite of all odds. It’s how you’re able to restore equilibrium in your life during or following upheaval. In recent months many of us have encountered many new challenges, personal, economic, psychological and/or emotional, and it’s certainly a good test of resilience.
By Suzie Doscher, Executive Coach & Life Coach focusing on Personal Development,
When a company focuses solely on reaching targets and continually pushes employees to reach these goals, the side effects often result in a high turnover and burnout rate.
Ironically, this can cause the company NOT to achieve its targets in the desired timeframe. Pushing too hard in one direction results in an inevitable push back from the opposite direction. This is a law of nature that applies to the business world as well.
Stressed employees trying to reach sometimes unrealistic or unnecessary targets tend to operate at half of their capacity. They start to make mistakes and lose track of the details amid their overwhelming work schedules. They tend to suffer physically exhaustion as well. All of this hurts productivity, the very thing the company is trying to increase.
By Karen Bridbord, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist and Organizational Consultant
When I wrote about the inflection of workplace culture back in May, I was expecting the pandemic to be a distant memory by now. Remember when we all thought it was going to last three weeks? Yet today, six months into the most significant global health crisis of our lifetime, we find ourselves still grappling with uncertainty.
Instead of creating new rituals to uplift and ground us as we find ourselves, as I recommended in the beginning of the pandemic, we now must find a way to sustain ourselves. We’re collectively exhausted. This pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint, and we need to act accordingly. This includes adjusting our company values and how they’re operationalized in our organizational cultures.
By Sweta Bothra, Lead Therapist at InnerHour, a Mental Health Platform
What kind of mindset do you have? Is it one that drives you to become the best version of yourself, even when times get tough?
A mindset can be defined as the way in which a person perceives themselves and the world around them. Your mindset can hugely impact your behaviours, ideas and choices you make when it comes to your goals. It can even affect your work, relationship with others and daily routine. Ultimately, the kind of mindset you have defines you who are and who you can become.
There are two types of mindsets – fixed and growth. Let’s look at each in a little more detail.
By Ryan Frankel, Founder, CEO at This App Saves Lives
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash
Entrepreneurs are notoriously driven. We are laser-focused souls, keen on achieving our objectives and willing to overcome mountains of challenges in order to do so. And while the rigors and joys of entrepreneurship ebb and flow throughout the lifecycle of a business, we’re all too familiar with periods of tremendous stress and moments when it’s unclear how we will bounce back from the latest challenge.
Having a healthy outlet for stress release is critical to coming back recharged day after day.
For me, this has always been taking part in endurance fitness events such as triathlons, running races or cycling trips. And yet several years ago, I found myself literally physically broken after sustaining a ...
by Suzie Doscher
This is a big topic and unique to each person depending on what exactly your self-sabotage routine is and how it shows up. Have you ever wondered just how much you hold yourself back and / or limit yourself with self-sabotaging behaviour patterns?
Self-sabotage can be described as running interference on yourself. I suggest ‘awareness’ is the first and most important step towards dealing with it – the awareness of this patterns existence. Everybody has an inner saboteur’; the ‘inner critic’. Think of the times when you have asked yourself “Why did I do that?” I like to think of self-sabotage as ‘a virus in the software,’ The job is to get rid of it and run a new program. Healthy routines are those that move your life forward, such as maintaining some kind of equilibrium, maintaining your physical and mental health.
A routine becomes sabotage when it keeps you stuck in the same place, treading water, not moving forward. What started these self-sabotage routines and where they come from is well researched in psychology.
by Suzie Doscher, Executive Coach and Life Coaching focusing on Personal Development, Self-Help Author: Balance - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments
Coaching your team? Add this skill to your coaching style – being non-judgmental.
There is an abundance of articles on being a coach to your people. I enjoy reading the quality information provided by the Harvard Business Review.
The desire to increase, enhance or maintain the quality of work, and in some cases even the quality of life at work, is evident.
The article in the HBR: Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach. But They Can Learn, offers wonderful insights on what coaching is all about and aims to achieve.
Your responsibilities include leading, motivating, inspiring and with your coaching you hope to further their growth, development and enhance their skills.
Raise your self-awareness with this: