Positive Emotions Unlock Anger, Boost Innovation and Improve Physical Health

The evidence is mounting…

evidence that positive emotions exist for a reason…

evidence that evolution has selected positive emotions for specific reasons that help our species – reasons that help you in every area of your life.

Positive emotions include feelings such as awe, curiosity, gratitude, compassion, calm, love, joy, interest, passion and happiness.

Evidence is mounting to support the importance of cultivating positive emotions for success in a variety of areas in your life.

Creativity, Innovation via positive emotions

A comfy nesting bed with egg pillows

At the beginning of every session with a new client, I make a point of sharing a short, humorous video clip. One of my personal favorites is the popular Mother’s Day video by Barats and Bereta (www.BaratsAndBereta.com)…

The reason for sharing a humorous video with new clients is three-fold.

First, the funny video unlocks any negative emotions the client may be holding onto such as anger, irritability, anxiety or sadness (Fredrickson, The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions, 2004, The Royal Society).

Second, those few, fleeting moments of laughter, mirth and smiling  reduce depressive symptoms and improve your well-being and  satisfaction with life (Sin & Lyubomirsky, Enhancing Well-Being and Alleviating Depressive Symptoms With Positive Psychology Interventions: Practice-Friendly Meta-Analysis, JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY: IN SESSION, 2009).

Positive psychology of innovation

Combination stairs and slide for young ones

Third, science has known for over a decade that chronic anger, anxiety and depression put you at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease (Suls & Bunde, Anger, Anxiety, and Depression as Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease, Psychological Bulletin, 2005). Most people go through life with the sympathetic branch of the ANS stuck in the ‘on’ position. The sympathetic branch is similar to the gas pedal in a car. Negative emotions (along with stress, exhaustion, and lack of exercise) activate the sympathetic nervous system which leads to increased heart rate, pulse and higher levels of cortisol into the blood stream. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response.

On the flip side, positive emotions activate the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which acts like the brakes on a car.  The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is in charge of calming the body, reducing heart rate and pulse, and bringing the body back to a resting state. The extent to which you can activate your PNS predicts your emotional and physical health. It is intimately related to how well you can self-regulate your own emotions.

Lower levels of PNS activity are related to higher levels of depression (Chambers and Allen, 2002), anxiety (Friedman and Thayer, 1993), aggression (Beauchaine and others, 2007), and hostility (Virtanen and others, 2003).

On the other side, higher levels of PNS activity are associated with better psychological flexibility, health and resiliency. Individuals with higher levels of PNS activity are related to more resiliency to stress (Britton and others, 2008) as well as greater mental health in children in the face of chronic conflict between parents at home.

Gum shoe - outside the box thinking

How do you come up with such an idea? Start with passion and curiosity

Importantly, the frequency with which you experience positive emotions is related to a more active PNS. Individuals who were shown humorous video clips demonstrated faster heart rate recover after experiencing intense negative emotions (Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998). In addition, simply asking people to think about a time when they felt grateful activated the PNS.

Other ways to ‘turn on’ the PNS include exercise, laughter, mindfulness, massage, yoga, walking your dog and taking fish oil.

Positive psychology John Schinnerer PhD

You’ve gotta’ be inspired to come up with a bedroom like this! 

The success I’ve experienced with clients in my private practice is directly related to how well I can make them laugh. With laughter comes opportunity…

opportunity to unlock stale old anger,

opportunity to teach critical new skills,

opportunity to think outside the box, and

opportunity to transform your life for the better.

How do you proceed from here?

Begin to become more aware of the percentage of time you spend in a positive emotional state as compared to a negative state. This simple realization, this basic level of awareness will begin to produce massive tectonic shifts in your life. And you will reap the benefits…on a number of levels…physical, relational, and emotional.

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.

Award-winning author of Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought (for a free PDF version, visit http://www.GuidetoSelf.com and enter your name and email address)

Award-winning author of The Shrunken Mind – the blog on positive psychology

Free online anger management classes which incorporate humor and positive psychology at WebAngerManagement.com

Sick at Work and Miserably Unproductive – Hidden Cost of Presenteeism

From ScienceDaily…

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2010) — Some scholars estimate that presenteeism, a relatively recent buzzword that applies to people who are less productive at work because of health issues, costs employers as much as three times the dollar amount as absenteeism in terms of lost productivity.

Presenteeism - sick at work and unproductive

But researchers at University of Michigan believe those numbers may be inaccurate. A new opinion paper suggests that the tools for measuring and quantifying hours of lost productivity and translating those hours to dollars are unreliable and don’t capture the entire presenteeism picture, said Susan Hagen, an analyst from the U-M School of Kinesiology Health Management Research Center (HMRC).

Because of this, the HMRC has suggested a three-year moratorium on its studies of presenteeism that translate hours of productivity loss into financial or dollar equivalents.

The HMRC defines presenteeism as reduced productivity at work due to health conditions such as asthma, back pain, allergies or depression.

“It’s hard to be 100 percent effective every moment you’re at work,” Hagen said. “We’re talking about the lack of productivity that stems from a health condition, or because you’re worried about your health.”

One of the challenges in measuring presenteeism is that all the measurement instruments use self-reported data. This means you’re depending on employees to report they aren’t working as effectively as they could be, due to their health.

“There are all kind of estimates as to how often it happens,” Hagen said. “The estimates can vary so widely. Some studies say that most workers don’t have any presenteeism, while there is other research that suggests most workers experience presenteeism to some degree.”

Another big problem is that there are so many different measuring tools, and each tool may measure presenteeism in a different way. Also, not all health problems affect workers in the same ways. For example, a person may have allergies for two weeks in May and feel horrible, but the measurement instrument could take that two weeks and expand that bad experience to 12 months. This process vastly over-reports the illness and thus, the hours lost and the subsequent financial loss.

“Almost everybody believes in the concept of presenteeism but maybe some of those calculations based on those early measurements aren’t accurate,” Hagen said.

“Our concern is that organizations may be making financial or future decisions based on data that may not support those decisions,” Hagen said.

The paper appears in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

University of Michigan (2010, November 10). Sick at work and surfing the net? You’re not alone — or are you?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/11/101109152943.htm

To life, love, health and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder of Guide to Self, Inc.

For a complimentary copy of the award-winning self-improvement book on latest ways to turn down anger, anxiety, sadness and guilt, visit http://www.GuidetoSelf.com and enter your name and email. This top self-help book (Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought) outlines the latest tools to manage your own mind, turn up the volume on love, joy, hope, interest, passion, curiosity, awe, self-compassion and more. Managing  your mind leads to greater physical health, better relationships, more enjoyment in life and healthier relationships. What’s not to like?!

The Secret to Success is Happiness

I spent my day Sunday creating an uplifting, elevating, and inspiring video which shares a bit that studies have shown about happiness, success and life satisfaction.

I was all pumped up after finishing this video last night. And I showed it to my wife.

After watching it, she turns to me and says, ‘In that case, SHOULDN’T you be happier?!’

Ouch, called on  my own stuff. However, the idea is not an absolute happiness. The idea is relative happiness.

We all start from different places in terms of our genetic set point for happiness. It just so happens that my set point was at a 1 or a 2 on a 10 point scale when I began my journey. So the fact that I’m now at a 6 or 7 is a massive improvement. On top of the fact that we have four children which makes the journey a little more volatile as at times it feels like you are only as happy as your least happy child (line from TV show The Middle). So we all need daily reminders like this in our lives!

Please take a look and let me know your thoughts. Please leave a comment below if it resonates with you.



Inspirational, Joyous, Elevating, Positive Video to Act as Great Daily Reminder of What is Truly Important.

The goal of life is happiness. Strive for happiness despite the inevitable vicissitudes of life!

FREE Copy of the Best Self Help Book of the Year!

I’m kicking off the launch of my new video blog at drjohnsblog.wordpress.com. And to make the announcement fun for all, I thought I’d offer a FREE copy of my book Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought.

It’s all about how to quiet the voices in your head, turn down the volume on negative emotions and turn up the volume on positive emotions, click here for instant access!

So if you want a free PDF version of some of the latest proven tools to manage your mind, the latest methods to increase your happiness via positive psychology, the greatest tips to manage your anger, check it out! Click here for a fantastic freebie!



Rediscover Passion and Happiness In Your Life

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Guide To Self, Inc.
My passion is looking for scientifically proven tools to:
1)    Turn down the volume on negative emotions (e.g., anger, fear, sadness) and
2)    Turn up the volume on positive emotions (e.g., contentment, joy, love, curiosity, amusement, interest, relaxation, pride)
Only in the past few years has the field of psychology recognized
1)    The significance of positive emotions
2)    That we can teach sustainable happiness and meaning in life
3)    Why it is critical that we learn to turn up the volume on the positive.
Over the past 100 years, psychology typically asked ‘what’s wrong with you?’ Or ‘What’s your underlying problem?’ This is a mechanistic approach similar to how you would approach a car that is not running properly. What is broken? Identify the broken part. Replace the old part with a new part. We aren’t as simple and straightforward as a car, however.
In my experience as a speaker, an author, a psychologist, a coach, a person with depression, and a person with social anxiety, I have come to the conclusion that we’re all a bit crazy. And that’s okay. It’s our idiosyncrasies and oddities that make us human and loveable. Besides, I’m not shooting for ‘normal’ and hopefully you aren’t either. I’m aiming for something way beyond normal. I am aiming for purpose, passion, meaning.
My goal is to change the emotional landscape for men. I want to change how men view their emotions, to help them understand that emotions are a normal part of life. We all have them. Emotions are not feminine. They are human.
And, here’s the most important part. Emotions are manageable. Once we learn to manage them, we become extremely powerful because we are coming from a place of authenticity and passion. Then our message resonates with others at a very deep level. And so we begin to change the world one person at a time – a ripple effect if you will.
So let me ask you this…
What are you doing now that you are passionate about?
What gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
What would you enjoy doing even if you weren’t paid to do it?
What are you really good at that also energizes you?
In this day and age, there are no questions which are more important. Research has shown that only a mere 10% of people in the United States are leading thriving, happy, meaningful lives. Think of how much better the country would be if we brought that number up to 20%. We’d have higher productivity, more creativity and innovation, greater employee engagement, better parenting, and a happier place to live.
The best news is that research is now being done at top universities around the world to discover exercises that can help us to sustain positive emotions such as happiness, contentment and love. Research has shown that, no matter how old we are, we can change our behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Studies are coming out daily demonstrating ways to discover meaning and passion and strengths.  So let me share some of the wisdom that is coming out lately on happiness and purpose.
How do you foster positive emotions?
Part of sustaining positive emotions is attitude; part of it is practicing exercises that have been shown to have a positive and lasting impact on your mood.
How do you go about changing your attitude to one that is more positive?
When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is loving it all.
Unconditional love is the intentional conscious decision to look for the best in people, other living creatures and any part of nature. Albert Einstein had a brilliant quote, ‘The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.’ Other people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. By noticing the good in others that surrounds us daily, we can lift up not only ourselves but others as well.
1.) Seek Out the Good in Others: Actively look for good traits and noble deeds in other people. Only use positive and supportive language. When you compliment other people, be specific about the behavior you are praising. For example, rather than saying “Nice work,” you might say, “Hey, you did a fantastic job closing the sale with Ace Hardware!” Remind those around you of their unique talents on a daily basis.
2.) Become More Aware of Your Internal Tapes: Watch the internal conversations that take place in your head. Challenge every negative thought that you have. Let go of your negative judgments about others AS WELL as yourself. Judgments are deadly. Judgments create negative emotions such as guilt and shame and tear down self-esteem. Judgments are unfair. You can never be aware of the circumstances that have led another person to a particular point in their life. So you are never in a position to judge their actions and decisions.
3.) Self-compassion: Go easier on yourself. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings. Picture yourself as a small child. Now picture yourself parenting yourself. Forgive yourself as you would like to have been forgiven as a child. Mistakes are merely learning opportunities. Fail your way to success!
4.) Recognize Strengths: Few people have an idea what their strengths are.
Discover your strengths. What do you do well? What are your talents? Once you begin using your strengths every day at work, you will increase the degree to which you are engaged at work. Being engaged in work is similar to being in the ‘zone’ for athletes – you are more satisfied, time flies, creativity flows, and your talents are maximized.
Exercises To Help Foster Positive Emotions
To begin: Think about what you excel at. Think about the activities where you lose track of your ‘self’. Become more aware of these areas.
1.)  Discover Your Dreams:
Ask yourself…
 What makes me ‘really’ happy? (Go outside of your comfort zone!)
 Why is it important to me?
 How will it serve other people?
 When do I want it to happen?
 What is the first teeny, tiny step I need to take to make it happen?
2.) Blessings Exercise:
Every night write down 3 things that went well for you that day, even if you have had an awful day. You can still find 3 things that went well. Write them down and then write why they went well. This is a very simple exercise that has been proven to improve your mood on a long-term basis. It is an easy yet powerful way to shift your thinking from focusing on the negative to becoming aware of the positive in your life.
The benefits of cultivating more positive emotions are vast: a longer life span, greater success at work, higher quality of relationships, and increased productivity, just to name a few. So get comfortable in your discomfort. Take a chance. Step outside your comfort zone. You’ll be happy you did!
To book Dr. John for a speaking engagement, coaching or training, call now. (925) 944-3440. Or visit the website at http://www.GuideToSelf.com.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi
About the Author

Dr. John Schinnerer holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Schinnerer has been an executive, speaker and psychologist for over 12 years. Dr. John Schinnerer is Founder of Guide To Self, a company that coaches executives to well-being and success. Dr. Schinnerer wrote the award-winning, “Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought,” which is available at Amazon.com. His blog, Shrunken Mind, was recently recognized as #1 in positive psychology on the web by PostRank (http://drjohnblog.guidetoself.com) and as one of the Top 100 blogs on the web by The Daily Reviewer. Dr. John Schinnerer hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a daily prime time radio show, in the SF Bay Area.   Dr. Schinnerer’s areas of expertise range from positive psychology, to emotional awareness, to anger management, to executive coaching. His offices are in Danville, California.