The Key to Success, Longevity and Health – Mindset

Dr. John Schinnerer shares the secret of the power of mindset. Numerous studies are pointing to the importance of the proper mindset in a variety of areas such as diet, exercise, aging, vision, success, intelligence, pain, stress and anxiety. Check it out!

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 (…

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 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

Positive Emotions Enable You to Think More Creatively


ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2010) — People who watch funny videos on the internet at work aren’t necessarily wasting time. They may be taking advantage of the latest psychological science — putting themselves in a good mood so they can think more creatively. 

Positive moods at work spark greater innovation 


“Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking,” says Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. She and colleagues Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda carried out a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. For this study, Nadler and her colleagues looked at a particular kind of learning that is improved by creative thinking.


Students who took part in the study were put into different moods and then given a category learning task to do (they learned to classify sets of pictures with visually complex patterns). The researchers manipulated mood with help from music clips and video clips; first, they tried several out to find out what made people happiest and saddest. The happiest music was a peppy Mozart piece, and the happiest video was of a laughing baby. The researchers then used these in the experiment, along with sad music and video (a piece of music from Schindler’s List and a news report about an earthquake) and a piece of music and a video that didn’t affect mood. After listening to the music and watching the video, people had to try to learn to recognize a pattern. 


Happy volunteers were better at learning a rule to classify the patterns than sad or neutral volunteers. “If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you to do that,” Nadler says. And music is an easy way to get into a good mood. Everyone has a different type of music that works for them — don’t feel like you have to switch to Mozart, she says. 

Nadler also thinks this may be a reason why people like to watch funny videos at work. “I think people are unconsciously trying to put themselves in a positive mood” — so that apparent time-wasting may actually be good news for employers. 

For the latest ways to create more positive emotions in your life (and to turn down the volume on negative emotions), visit for a FREE PDF version of John’s award-winning book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought. Just enter your name and email on the opt-in page for your complimentary copy!


For free cutting edge anger management videos, visit the Positive Psychology and Anger Management blog at

Journal Reference:

1.    Ruby T. Nadler, Rahel Rabi, John Paul Minda. Better Mood and Better Performance: Learning Rule Described Categories Is Enhanced by Positive Mood. Psychological Science, 2010; 21: 1770-1776 DOI: 10.1177/0956797610387441


New Thinking Occurring Amidst Recession Pains – New Florida State Study Says

Florida State University issued the following news release:


Americans Rethinking Role of Work Amid Painful Recession, Says Researcher


Widespread layoffs and other job changes associated with the Great Recession have caused workers to question career-related sacrifices, including time away from family, less leisure time and fewer self- improvement activities.


Those are some of the findings of a recent study conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business, and research associates Tyler Everett and Stuart Tapley.


They examined the recession’s role in changing employees’ thoughts about work, commitment to their families, and the pursuit of a more balanced lifestyle.


“The objective of the study was to see if we could identify shifts in thinking, as well as the causes of these changes,” Hochwarter said.


Opinions gathered from more than 1,100 full-time employees, across a range of occupations and career stages, showed the following:


* 48 percent reported that the recession increased their appreciation of family;


* 37 percent reported that the recession promoted thoughts that work isn’t as important as it once was in the grand scheme of things;


* 49 percent admitted that the recession helped them recognize the value of people over things;


Work life balance shifting with economic winds

Work life balance shifting due to economic times


* 23 percent indicated that the recession increased awareness of an over-commitment to work at the expense of family and recreation;


* 42 percent confirmed that most of what happens at work is out of one’s control regardless of commitment and effort; and


* 43 percent agreed that the recession increased motivation to be a better person rather than just a better employee.


Finally, more than 70 percent of employees acknowledged that most days at work “seem like they will never end” — a commonly held belief in work settings where increasingly more time and output is expected with less support and fewer guaranteed rewards.


The study also indicated that recession-related stress tends to manifest differently in men and women.


“Digging a little deeper into the data, it was evident that men’s reflective, and often remorseful, thoughts were driven by recession-related job insecurity and its subsequent role in encouraging hostile work treatment,” Hochwarter said.


He suggests that it is common for work stress to push employees to places that they would not otherwise go, both in terms of thoughts and actions, when it reaches intolerable levels.


Such stress is apparent in the comment of one study participant, a 48- year-old manager of a production facility who was laid off by his longtime employer.


“I broke my back for this company, missed my kids growing up, and for what?

Nothing!” the man said.


Women’s thoughts, on the other hand, were triggered by conflicts between work and family obligations.


Women reported that job obligations have increased in recent years — both in terms of time and energy — resulting in fewer hours engaged in family life.


The researchers cast these findings in a positive light, however.


“The fact that many employees spent time evaluating the importance of non-work factors may be the first step in reducing the stress associated with imbalanced lives,” Tapley said.


“Many of the people that we talked to felt that having less faith in work afforded them opportunities to direct more faith toward other often-neglected areas of life, and in most cases, it was family and friends,” Everett added.


The balance-seeking trend will likely continue as more Millennial Generation employees — those born roughly between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s — enter, and influence, the work force.


With more than 70 million cohort members, Millennials offer a unique perspective, one in which work shares equal (or lesser) status with other important aspects of life such as friends, family and leisure.


Comments made by a 44-year-old accounting director, who experienced drastic changes in terms of responsibility and pay in recent years, characterize study results and conclusions: “I’ve learned a lot from the younger people we hired here in the past few years. I’ve learned that there is a big world out there away from work where there are fun things to do and people who care about me not because I pay the bills, but because I’m Dad. I wish management around here would take their lead, or better yet, let them run things. Everyone would feel less stressed out!”


For more information on managing emotions during these difficult times, head to for a free PDF copy of John’s award-winning self-help book, Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought.


To life, love and laughter,


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.



Fulfilling Life Exercise

The Fulfilling Life Exercise

Think about your own life for a moment.
Ask yourself, what would a fulfilling life be like for you?

Write a short story about what a fulfilling life would look like for you?

What would your top 5 values be?

What would you be doing at home? At work?

What would your relationships look like?

Would you change any personal characteristics (e.g., physical, mental, emotional)?

What is it that would make you whole and content?

This is much different than asking “What do you want?”

We’re talking about the search for personal fulfillment.

Most people when answering this question look at what they have…what they don’t have… and see a gap …and then look for things to fill the gap. It may be the obvious – a higher-paying job, a wonderful marriage, more money, a promotion, a successful business and so on.
Unfortunately, the happiness derived from HAVING such things is fleeting. I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your own life. You’re ecstatic when you buy a new car. Then the ecstasy fades after a few months.  This same thing happens with relationships, homes, promotions and major purchases.

As long as we are looking for ways to HAVE a fulfilling life, we will only be temporarily fulfilled. Many of us think that more money is the answer. Yet, look at the lives of lottery winners. Most of them have continued to be plagued by the same host of problems that they had prior to becoming wealthy. In fact, for many of them, their problems have been magnified! I know of one couple that said they wished they had never even won the lottery as it led to greater problems, addictions, and eventually divorce.
A different framework is needed through which we view life, a different way of viewing fulfillment. Ask yourself what it would take for you to BE fulfilled.

This minor difference in wording implies that fulfillment is enjoying the journey, not merely a destination. This doesn’t mean that you will stop wanting things. Just that the things are mere expressions of fulfillment, not the means to fulfillment.

This means that we can be fulfilled even in the midst of difficult situations. Fulfillment means that you are fully alive and in synch with the different energies of the universe. It may be described as being in harmony with the environment around you. It also involves living in synch with your personal values. It may involve keeping your cool while others are losing theirs. Everyone’s definition of fulfillment is unique and changes constantly.

And this is largely what coaching is about – inviting clients to look closely, not merely with their brains, but with their heart, soul and intuition, at themselves, in areas which are familiar, but viewed with new lenses, and at places that have never been looked at before.

The famous psychologist, Erich Fromm wrote, “”Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself.” The way in which we give birth to ourselves is by listening to and following our dreams.

How to Access Your Dreams: 

Ask yourself…

  What would make me happy?

  Why would it make me happy, and why is it important to me?

  How will it benefit other people?

  When do I want it to happen?

Keep a journal by your bed to write down your thoughts and feelings. Over time your dreams will reveal themselves to you. As they do, your passion, happiness and engagement with life will soar. Enjoy the ride.

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.
For a free copy of my award-winning self-help book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, visit the site above, enter your name and email and receive an instant complimentary copy. Begin improving your life today!