How Music Connects Us – Eric Whitacre at TED with ‘Sleep’

How Music Connects People – Eric Whitacre at TED with ‘Sleep’

The human spirit is lifted through music, regardless of proximity or time.

As much as I hate to admit it, life is about relationships and connection.

Happiness, our satisfaction with life, is strongly related to quality relationships.

Relationships hinge on connection.

Music connects us. Music brings us together.

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.

For a FREE PDF copy of John’s award-winning self-help book on proven exercises to increase human connection, to turn down the volume on negative emotions and ways to turn up the volume on positive emotions, including mindfulness tips, visit Click on the yellow book icon and enter your name and email address for instant access!

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There is also a full 10 week course on Positive Psychology of Anger Management available at the same site for the ridiculously low price of $297.

Kids – Learn Your Math Skills! Numeracy Skills Linked to More Wealth

From Science Daily…

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2010) — Couples who score well on a simple test of numeracy ability accumulate more wealth by middle age than couples who score poorly on such a test, according to a new study of married couples in the United States.

Psychology of wealth, success and happiness

Researchers found that when both spouses answered three numeracy-related questions correctly, family wealth averaged $1.7 million, while among couples where neither spouse answered any questions correctly the average household wealth was $200,000. Numeracy is the ability to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts, and are skills typically learned during school.

“We examined several cognitive skills and found that a simple test that checks a person’s numeracy skills was a good predictor of who would be a better family financial decision maker,” said James P. Smith, a co-author of the study and Distinguished Chair in Labor Markets and Demographic Studies at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. The other two authors of the study are John McArdle of the University of Southern California and Robert Willis of the University of Michigan.

Researchers found that choosing the wrong person as a family’s primary financial decision maker can have consequences. While families choose the less-numerate spouse less than 20 percent of the time, when this does happen total household wealth is lower.

The findings are published in the November edition of The Economic Journal.

The study relied on a sample of married couples from the Health and Retirement Survey, a nationally representative survey of Americans at least 50 years old that includes high-quality measurement of family wealth and tests of cognitive ability of both husbands and wives. The Health and Retirement Survey is funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers say the skills needed to make successful investment choices are among the most cognitively demanding that a family has to make, especially as they get older and assume greater control of decisions about their wealth, pensions and health care.

The new study is one of the first to examine who makes these financial decisions for a household, how that selection is influenced by couple’s personal attributes and the relative cognitive abilities of both wives and husbands.

In addition to studying numeracy skills, the study also examined the impact that other cognitive skills, including memory retrieval and intact mental status, may have on financial outcomes. Researchers found the other cognitive functions studied had far less influence on a household’s wealth.

Other findings from the study include:

• As the numeracy score of each spouse rose, the percent of a family’s portfolio held in stocks increased.

• A man was the financial decision maker in 62 percent of the households studied. This male preference was particularly pronounced when the husband was older and more educated than his wife.

• Selection of the husband as the financial decision maker was more sensitive to a husband’s numeracy ability than it was to the numeracy skills of the wife. Even when a husband scored zero in his numeracy test, there was essentially a 50-50 chance that he would still be selected as the financial decision maker. This male bias in choosing the financial decision maker has been declining over time so that it is smaller among younger couples in this age range.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging to RAND, the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan.

1. James P. Smith, John J. McArdle, Robert Willis. Financial Decision Making and Cognition in a Family Context. The Economic Journal, 2010; 120 (548): F363 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02394.x

RAND Corporation (2010, November 10). Couple’s numeracy skills linked to greater family wealth, study finds. ScienceDaily.

Study your math! Study your math! Study your math!

To life, love, laughter and wealth!

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

For a free PDF copy of the award-winning self-improvement book on positive psychology and optimal human functioning, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, visit and enter your name and email address for 216 pages of the latest tools to manage your mind. This book includes tools to turn down sadness, stress, anxiety, guilt and anger. What’s more it includes tools to turn up the volume on curiosity, joy, pride, love, compassion and relaxation. It’s the key to your courage, success, wealth and happiness.

Peace of Mind, Meaning Leads to Better Health for Less-Educated, Study Finds


Peace of Mind Closes Health Gap for Less-Educated, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Oct. 25, 2010) — Psychological well-being is powerful enough to counteract the pull of socioeconomic status on the long-term health of the disadvantaged, according to a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lack of education is a powerful predictor of future poor health and a relatively early death. But among people whose formal education ended with a high school diploma or less, positive psychological characteristics such as meaningful relationships with others and a sense of purpose have a strong connection with lower levels of an inflammatory protein connected to an array of potentially deadly health problems.

“If you didn’t go that far in your education, but you walk around feeling good psychological stuff, you may not be more likely to suffer ill-health than people with a lot of schooling,” says Carol Ryff, UW-Madison psychology professor and co-author of the study, which appears in the current online edition of the journal Health Psychology. “Low educational attainment does not guarantee bad health consequences, or poor biological regulation.”

The researchers measured levels of Interleukin-6 in participants in the Survey of Midlife in the United States, a now 10-year-long study of age-related differences in physical and mental health.
“High levels of IL-6 are associated with many kinds of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers and other health problems,” says Jennifer Morozink, a UW-Madison psychology graduate student and lead author of the study. “These positive psychological characteristics all moderate the level of IL-6 for people without much education.”

Less-educated people who scored high on measures of general happiness or self-acceptance or who felt that the circumstances of their lives were manageable showed levels of the inflammatory protein comparable to similarly satisfied, but highly-educated peers.

The results are significant, according to Ryff, because they reinforce a new angle on eliminating the wide gap in overall health between the well-to-do and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

“Other research shows that these psychological factors respond well to intervention,” Ryff says. “Therapies exist that give people the tools to keep all these psychological characteristics working in their favor. They’ve been shown to keep people from falling back into depression and anxiety, which we know means bad things for their health.”

The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging and included UW-Madison psychology professor Chris Coe and Institute on Aging scientist Elliot Friedman, melds two new directions in research: a focus on why socioeconomic inequality has such detrimental health effects for have-nots, and a shift toward scrutinizing the health impacts of positive psychological attributes, in contrast to decades of research linking psychological disorders and maladjustment to poor physical health.

“There’s a far richer understanding of how people get these strong psychosocial characteristics than there was not that long ago,” Morozink says. “There are studies of the brain showing people with higher levels of well-being react differently to negative situations.”

Environmental factors are also important in developing resiliency in the face of trying circumstances.

“Attentive parents, strong role models and feeling engaged in and important to their community could contribute a great deal to these psychological characteristics,” Ryff says.
Journal Reference:
1. Jennifer A. Morozink, Elliot M. Friedman, Christopher L. Coe, Carol D. Ryff. Socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of interleukin-6 in the MIDUS national sample.. Health Psychology, 2010; DOI: 10.1037/a0021360

For a FREE PDF copy of the award-winning self-help book on how to create more positive psychological resources in your life, visit In exchange for your email and name, you will receive an instant free copy of John Schinnerer’s fantastic self-help book Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought

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!