The Janine Bolon Show with Nate Rifkin and JoAnna Brandi: The use of Meditation to Achieve Contentment

The Use of Meditation to Achieve Contentment with Nate Rifkin and JoAnna Brandi

Nate Rifkin

Nate Rifkin found himself at the end of his rope after failing at business, going tens of thousands of dollars into debt, and struggling with suicidal thoughts. After turning his life around and becoming a leader in the field of business, he has written marketing campaigns that have generated tens of millions of dollars in sales. He has prospered by combining ancient mystical practices with modern strategies for living. As a spiritual explorer, he dedicates himself to the Daoist mystical tradition, and is studying to become a Daoist priest and gain his doctorate in Chinese Energetic Medicine. He is the author of The Standing Meditation. He currently resides with his wife in Golden, CO.

Previous interviews

The Practical Wellness Podcast

XL 10-Minute Leaders YouTube Video

Anchor.fm / Elisabeth Axiak/ Episode 38: The-Standing-Meditation

Nate’s Website: www.naterifkin.com

JoAnna Brandi

Since 1990, JoAnna has been helping companies create happy, engaged, and high performing  employees who are dedicated to providing “Exquisite” Customer Care.

She is author of two books on Customer Loyalty and the illustrated gift book “54 Ways to Stay Positive in a Changing Challenging and Sometimes Negative World”

She is the Creator of The Practice of Positive Leadership E- Course and a self-study training  program in the “The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care.”

She is a Certified Chief Happiness Officer through Florida International University and a graduate of Dr. Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching program. She is certified in Neuro Linguistics, The Art of Empowerment, and Applied Creative Thinking.

She teaches workshops on Positive Leadership and does Positive Leadership Coaching for individuals and groups. She has served hundreds of organizations both large and small in all kinds of industries in for-profit and non-profit sectors.

JoAnna serves a diverse group of clients in many different capacities, in large companies and small alike in both the for profit and not for profit sectors..

She has been a highly rater speaker for Vistage, an international organization of CEOs for over 23 years. She is a highly rated speaker at conferences all over North America.

She specializes in creating more positive, value based and strengths-based workplaces where employees are motivated, and customers are happy and loyal. She helps her clients activate the link between positivity and profitability creating “great companies to work for and do business with.” 

Reach JoAnna

https://www.facebook.com/ReturnOnHappiness

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannabrandi/

https://twitter.com/KeepEmHappy

https://www.instagram.com/joannabrandi

Author’s Facebook page: JoAnna Brandi – Home

Transcript of the Show

Bryan Hyde
Welcome to the Janine Bolon show, where we share tips from around the globe as we guide practical people with their finances using money tips, increase their incomes through side businesses, and maintain their sanity by staying in their creative zone.

Nate Rifkin
I started learning about meditation, specifically Taoist meditation. And gradually, I started to turn my life around inwardly. And then outwardly, things started to fall into place. It was like the missing link that made all that self help stuff I was trying actually finally start to work and that’s why I wrote the book.

Janine Bolon
Yes, thanks for letting us know about all that because one of those things where you said you were in the fetal position, silently crying on the floor actually mirrors an experience I had where I was being given a divine dispensation and I did not want to move forward with that divine dispensation. And I ended up in the fetal position on my floor trying to breathe like they were I was being shut down my breathing. And finally I squeaked out, okay, I’ll do it. And boom, immediately I was able to breathe everything was fine. It was just God just like really crunching down on me like you will do this you you came to this planet to do this and it was very scary. Very scary time. So you talk about that. So where do you want to go your book is so loaded with wonderful information. I didn’t know if you wanted to talk about the breathing techniques or the four pillars of Taoism. You know, what do you want to do? Let’s take take us somewhere.

Nate Rifkin
Hey, you know I two things one, I’d love to start at the four pillars. And before before we get there though, I’d love to I’d love to comment on what you said, I loved what you said, because I’m sure a lot of your listeners are studying what it’s like to be on the spiritual path. And they’re on it themselves, of course. And we often think it’s all fun and roses, but oftentimes it could be, it could be very, very painful, especially when we’re being, shall we say, strongly guided somewhere.

Janine Bolon
In my case, it was I was ignoring everything. So they’re like, shut down or breathe and boys, she’s not paying attention.

Nate Rifkin
So but so glad you brought that up. Because because I feel like a lot of people, they might be going through something and they think, Oh, I’m bad, it’s all going wrong, when in fact, what’s going on to say really are they’re being grown and pushed forward. So anyway, that’s, that’s what I want to say they’re perfect. Um, but but with the four pillars, when I started diving into Taoist meditation, you know, previous to it, I thought meditation was like, okay, just sit and try not to think. I mean, here in the US, oftentimes, the our study, or what is presented to us about meditation is so watered down, it kind of renders it useless. And I’m glad meditations getting out there. But I, when I start to learn the nuances of it, that’s when things start to really crack open for me. So the four pillars are attention, intention, sensation, and imagination. And it might sound a little complex, but it’s actually pretty simple. Let’s start with intention, your intention is you’re going to you want, what’s your purpose, you’re sitting down to meditate. So why you need to choose something that resonates with you, attention is where you put your focus. Now, what you want to do is put your focus on the sensations going on in your body. So there’s that third one sensations, because when you put your focus there, you start to direct your mind from looping, looping thoughts into the feelings of your body, you become receptive, rather than problem solving and anxious. Because our brain is beautifully designed to solve problems. The trouble is when when we lose control the steering wheel, that’s when our anxiety grows out of control, and oftentimes, frustration, depression, as well. And the final one is imagination. Because meditation isn’t, it doesn’t just have to be by blanking out. It can also be a very dynamic exercise where we’re guiding the energy of our bodies, which is huge and whole mystical traditions. So those are the four pillars, and I think they make if someone’s like, oh, I tried, I tried just sitting there and nothing was happening. I think those four pillars could really help someone, even if they have a busy mind.

Janine Bolon
Well, I love what you use in one of your metaphors, where every time you sit down to meditate, it’s like stacking a piece of rice paper, one on top of the other. Now I was raised in my elementary school years in Japan. And so rice paper is very well known to me, I know how thin it is. So as you were talking about, you’re building up those that stack of rice paper, and then you could have a really strong, intense emotion, and that’ll set fire to it. But you’re not really starting at the beginning again, are you you’re just learning, you’re just learning how to kind of control those crazy emotions that can run roughshod over your mental piece.

Nate Rifkin
Yeah, I love that. And that’s from one of my teachers, Dr. William Wells, Jr, the the stacking of the rice paper, because the idea is, every time you sit down and meditate and do this inner work and build your energy, it’s like stacking a little thin piece of rice paper, you could barely see it. It’s translucent almost. But as you stack them up and up and up, the stack gets bigger and bigger and bigger and eventually can grow into a tower and you’ve really accomplished something. Now, my teacher used that metaphor, because when you sit down and meditate for a few minutes, you might get up and be like, well do. Did I really change anything? I don’t know. It’s like you did you added that little bit of paper. The trouble comes when you walk outside your front door and you might step on your neighbor’s dog poop, but then you start flying into rage. That’s like setting that rice paper on fire. Now, that’s not this, it’s not a shaming thing. I’m not trying to say it’s like, Oh, you got to walk around, always feel good. I gotta I gotta manage my energy. I don’t want to burn away all the juju I built up with meditating. It’s just a, it’s just a teaching device to show how delicate you know, our walk with energy can be and all and there’s there are no ordinary moments. To quote Dan Millman. There are no ordinary moments, they can all be special. And you want to treat them all as sacred to really walk this path.

Janine Bolon
Kind of right out, of course in miracles, you know, when you really start paying attention. One of the things I love about Nate is he has read so many different books and the fact that he literally came upon the standing meditation, this very ancient practice and he uses it in this modern world was quite amazing. If you don’t mind go ahead and give us your website because you You offer videos, we’re talking about the standing meditation. But you’re more than willing to give videos to people on how to do it correctly. So if you would say your website for us.

Nate Rifkin
Oh, sure, websites, it’s just my name. www.naterifkin.com. Yeah, and the the link to the actual videos and how do these practices there, bare I don’t know the exact year off the top my head. They’re buried in the book somewhere. But anyone who grabs the book, it’s if you just go to the site, and you’ll see the video right there.

Janine Bolon
And for those of you who are writing this down, because I have those sorts of listeners, the way you spell Nate’s name is N as in November A T E Rifkin is R I F K I N as in November, so go ahead and go to the website. But I highly recommend his book, even if you’ve tried meditation multiple times, and you’re just like, Oh, nothing works for me. He was kind of at his rope with that as well. Talk to us a little bit about the breathing aspect, because that was something that intrigued me that’s a little deeper into the book.

Nate Rifkin
Oh, it Yeah, it’s, it’s crucial. It’s absolutely crucial because the way we breathe can change the hormones of our body, it can change our emotional state. And one of the exercises I love to do is place one hand, I place one hand on my belly, like right above my navel, and one hand on my chest. And when I breathe, I make sure that the hand on my belly rises and falls with my breath, and that the hand on my chest remains more stationary. This gives you automatic, like real time feedback to make sure you’re breathing deep into your belly. Now, and this has all kinds of benefits. Number one is you’re guiding the energy downward. So again, remember like looping, looping thoughts. That’s like condensing and spiraling the energy in your in your conscious mind. This brings it down to your belly, it grounds you and you can do it anytime, anywhere. And it’s and it’s also a wonderful way to help process emotional trauma. Because when we go through a trauma, it this it’s coupled with that sort of panic induced shallow breathing because we’re in fight, flight or freeze mode. By breathing deeply, it gently guides us back out of that. So it’s a wonderful practice.

Janine Bolon
Thank you so much Nate Rifkin, everybody, go to his website, get his book, The standing meditation be back shortly.

Janine Bolon
Hello, this is Janine Bolon. And welcome to today’s show. I am thrilled that we have today somebody who can help us with all the craziness that’s going on in the world today. And every time you turn on the news, it’s more good news, isn’t it? It’s just it just keeps getting better and better. Right? Well, I wanted to introduce you today’s guest, who is JoAnna Brandi, and she’s written books, she has online courses, she works with folks that are in schools and corporate America. Let me give you a little background on JoAnna about how she can help you with where you are in life today. And that is in since 1990, JoAnna has been helping companies create happy, engaged and high performing employees who are dedicated to providing exquisite Customer Care. Now you may be thinking, hey, but I don’t have a business or I’m not part of a corporation. I’m a self employed person, or I’m retired or what have you. Don’t worry. She’s also the author of two books that are really important on customer loyalty. And she has a beautiful illustrated gift book that is 54 ways to stay positive in a changing challenging and sometimes negative world. And believe it or not, that was written and produced before 2020, and she was already talking about this message. Now she is also the creator of the practice of positive leadership ecourse, and she’s a certified chief happiness officer through the Florida International University, and a graduate of Dr. Martin C Coleman’s authentic happiness coaching program. She is also certified in neurolinguistics, the art of empowerment, and the applied critical thinking I’m sorry, applied creative thinking. She teaches workshops on positive leadership, and does positive leadership coaching for individuals as well as groups. She has served hundreds of organizations both large and small in all kinds of industries for profit and nonprofit centers. She specializes in creating more positive value based and strength based workplaces. Wouldn’t that be nice for where you work right? Where employees are motivated, and customers are happy, and loyal. She helps her clients activate the link between positivity, and profitability, creating great companies to work for and do business with. So I know that with what we’re talking about with JoAnna, that she’s very focused on the corporate world. But trust me, she has points for you that we are lucky enough that we get her on three segments of our show today, she’s going to be talking about individual happiness, as well as the 52 ways to help yourself in a negative world. So thank you for being with us JoAnna, it’s lovely to have you on the show.

JoAnna Brandi
My pleasure. My pleasure.

Janine Bolon
So talk to us a little bit about this Chief Happiness Officer. I mean, come on, chick. What’s that all about? Tell us we want the story.

JoAnna Brandi
You know, if we were in Europe, right now, you would see that is a very popular title. People are being certified as Chief Happiness Officers all over the world, because guess what? The workplace has finally figured out that when employees are happy, they work better. When people love coming to work, they do a better job, they, they go out of their way to help the customers, they go out of their way to help one another, the science of happiness has made it into business. And that that just thrills me, because I was teaching all of this stuff, before I ever even knew that there was science behind it.

Janine Bolon
Yeah, and you know, a lot of people see well, you know, you just have to go to work, right? I’m sorry, just what is it man up, you know, grit, your teeth, push through, you know, whatever you have to do to bring the money in. So now you’re saying, well, this isn’t just a nice thing to have. This actually has science behind it. So talk to us a little bit about that science?

JoAnna Brandi
Well, before I talk about the science, let’s talk about this thing that’s happening in the workplace right now that’s being called the great resignation. People are leaving their jobs in droves. And one of my colleagues said to me recently, maybe it’s not the great resignation, maybe it’s the great realization, you know, the the realization that maybe I don’t have to work in a place that makes me unhappy, or stressed out or exhausted at the end of the day. So that’s something that more and more individuals are figuring out. And, of course, it’s easier to start your own business than it ever has been before. It’s easier to start an online business or things like that. So people, especially young people are saying no, to these stressful workplaces, where they’re not acknowledged, where they’re not appreciated, where they’re where they’re not, where they’re not valued. And we all deserve to be valued for our work.

Janine Bolon
I totally agree with that. And that’s one of those things that I remember back in 1996, when I dropped out of corporate America to work at home, people were just like, oh, my gosh, you know, I’d gone off the reservation, as far as they were concerned, I was totally rogue, you know, oh, my gosh, what do you do? And now I feel like everybody’s joined you and I’s party, because you and I’ve been doing this for a while. And now they’ve joined a party about oh, you know, this working from home is great stuff. I said, Yeah, well, the first month that I started working from home, I saved myself $4,000. And if anybody wants to know what that budget was that I had saved myself, $4,000 on, I’ll be glad to let you know about childcare expenses, dry cleaning bills, commuting expenses, insurance, because my insurance dropped because I wasn’t commuting an hour and a half away from from home to go to the job. So there were huge benefits to staying at home. Now most people already know this. So we’re gonna go ahead and bring JoAnna and a little bit more on, it’s not just nice to have this great resignation or realization that people are having is it is nice to be known for your work. So what else do you want to share with us that’s been happening in this post pandemic world soon to be post pandemic world.

JoAnna Brandi
It’s soon to be hopefully soon to be, I think there was part of the realization is that we now understand that people need to feel good at work, they need to feel important, they need to feel valued, they need to feel appreciated, they need to, they need to have the opportunity to do what they do best. We all want to work in our strengths zone, instead of our weakness zone. And when people are not when when leaders don’t help support people in getting into their strengths, people become disengaged. That’s what disengagement is about. You know, you’re not you’re not using me for what I’m best at. You’re trying to shove me into this job description, rather than finding out what my talents are and using the best of me, and I think I think both bosses and employees are really realizing that right now. And I think that the science is so strong, which is beautiful to me, because there’s not there’s no denying that people perform better when they are in a positive state rather than a negative state. We know from Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, that there’s a tipping point between languishing in flourishing. And when you have three times more positivity than negativity, you begin to flourish. Well, businesses have gone on from there and have found out when you’ve got five times more of that positivity than negativity, you become a high performing organization. So when people are celebrated and appreciated, they come to work raring to go.

Janine Bolon
Exactly. And back to our point about working from home. And that sort of thing. I just also wanted to talk about people forget the safety factor. I remember, as a woman working in a male dominated industry, I was an Analytical Biochemist, the safety factor of being able to work from home, that I am always with other people. So everyone behaves when we’re on a Zoom, because if you’re not behaving on Zoom, not only is it recorded, you have the opportunity of it being blasted a bunch of riot I never. But as a single woman, that’s what I like to talk about. It’s like I love Zoom, I love being on mult having multiple people, I let people know when they’re being recorded that sort of thing. So if I have a situation where I’m getting uncomfortable or not feeling safe, I can hit the record button and that kind of stops that behavior very, very quickly. So there’s that aspect as well. And you don’t always have that in a work environment, unless you have a leadership like you’re talking about that actually wants to create an environment of positivity. So talk to us about this positive leadership. What exactly is that?

JoAnna Brandi
Well, those are people that actually use the skills that coming out of positive psychology that show us a roadmap for creating that type of a culture because everything, everything boils down to culture, everything boils down to culture. If that’s the that’s the environment that you’re working in. So as you begin to have more positive communication, create a more positive climate, create, create an environment for people just simply feel good about coming to work, and they’re willing to move out of their comfort zone to get into their stretch zone. Because as a leader or manager, you’re not putting them first in their panic zone, which is I know what my experience was like in the corporate world. Yeah, I was recognized as somebody who was smart, but it was more of that she looks smart. Let’s throw in the pool and see if she can swim. So I was always in over my head. Yeah, I survived. Yes, I actually did well, but I was always under stress. I was in trouble sleeping. I had before I left the corporate world, I had an ulcer, because of the environment that I was in all the time, people should be able to go home at night with energy left over for their kids.

Janine Bolon
Right? That would be lovely. When there are times that anxiety level is so high. So talk to us a little bit about anxiety levels and how you can move into a more positive situation. I’ve heard you talk about things like positive deviance and positive spillover, spillover. Okay, I’ve heard you use those words helped me out here, girlfriend, what exactly are you talking about?

JoAnna Brandi
Well, positive spillover merely means that when you create this positive culture, it spills outside the company, it goes home with people. It goes spills out to your suppliers when you’re a positive company to work with. It spills out into your community. I have every time I do I do a lot of these CEO workshops for an organization that I’ve been with for 24 years. And every time I do a workshop, I have this thing that looks like a mind map, but it’s not is actually a future map. And in the center, we put the word positive culture, and then we get people to write down what happens. What’s the next step? What happens if you have a positive culture? Well, you have positive customers, what happens if you have positive customers, they come back and they buy more often, they tell more of their friends. They do good word of mouth advertising for us, right? So you get you get that you get you get this I the only thing I call this a spillover. It’s like a ripple effect. It’s like a ripple effect. Because when that’s going on inside, it starts going on outside with everybody that’s touched.

Janine Bolon
I would like you guys to stay tuned. After the break, when we come back with JoAnna Brandi Certified Chief Happiness Officer, also a author of “52 Ways to Stay Positive in an Ever Changing World.” We’ll talk more about that as well as positive deviance and what those things are, and how on earth do you get started in your rather unusual career? We’ll have this and more. Stay tuned. Can’t wait to chat with you again after the break.

Janine Bolon
Welcome back. This is Janine Bolon. And with us today we have JoAnna Brandi Certified Chief Happiness Officer, as well as author of “52 Ways to Stay Positive in an Ever Changing World.” Isn’t that amazing? I think it is. We were speaking before the break about positive deviance and positive spillover. And we were trying to describe what are those things and positive spillover is when you have a corporate environment that is positive enough that it spills over not only to people going home as employees and sharing that positivity with their families and their children, but also the customers at the other end of the line, that are also staying loyal, and to that company because of that positive spillover. But tell us now, about that positive deviance. I’ve heard you talk about these things in your lectures and stuff. What on earth are you saying?

JoAnna Brandi
I you know, I love that term so much, I have to giggle every time I say it’s so good. If you think about the traditional bell curve, you know that we look at it in business, it’s got a big hump in the middle. It’s the bell curve of what they call normal distribution. Well, if you were to take two slices off of either end, let’s imagine that on the left side, there are the people that are poor performers. In the middle are the average performers, which is the largest group, right. But on the right side, as that curve comes down. There’s another sliver. And those people are positive performance. So they’re positively deviant than the norm. So a positively deviant business is one that is asset focused. They’re always looking at what’s right, as opposed to what’s wrong. They’re always asking questions about what they want to create, not what’s broken. So this positive deviance is also very value based, virtuous value birth based because people talk about values, they have a set of values that they live through, and they engage their employees in. So being positively deviant means that you’re doing something that’s outside of the normal. It’s just that it’s in a very different way, because it’s focused on the positive. I love the the image of the Helio tropic effect. If you get a plant, and you put it on a table in the middle of the room, you come back a day later, and the plant has turned itself around. So it’s facing the sunny window. That’s the it’s called the Helio tropic effect, and human beings do the same thing, every living thing will turn towards the light.

Janine Bolon
And that’s one of those things that is so very important in any day and age where we have anxiety levels higher than they have been in decades. And we have stress management techniques that no longer serve us. So I would just love it if you would chat with us a little bit about those individuals and their happiness factor. Because people are always saying things like, just focus on what’s good and write positive affirmations and stuff. Sometimes the anxiety when you’re in that moment is so high, and that’s where your neurolinguistic work is so powerful, because you haven’t not only in the book, but I always see it when every time you’re speaking you’re using that. So talk to us a little bit about when you’re in that moment of stress or anxiety, some things that can kind of just self soothe a little bit, give you a little bit of comfort.

JoAnna Brandi
Well actually, these days, one of the things that I’ve been teaching to actually to a group I just finished work when we did a six week program on happiness. I taught them a technique called havening, which I have fallen in love with. And it’s a way since you use the word soothing. It’s a way of self soothing, and that’s literally taking your own hands, crossing them over on your shoulders, and then pulling your hands down on your arms and all the way out to your hands, letting your hands touch each other. And you just do that over and over again. And what that does is it brings the cortisol down in your body. So I have been partial to that one technique for a while because it feels so good. I also live in Florida where I rarely have sleeves on. So I it’s skin on skin. It’s that feeling it’s what you would do to a child. It’s how you would help a child if a child was in distress, you would be literally pulling that stress off their body but this is a very gentle touch. Another thing of course is to breathe. I don’t think I can stress that quite enough. That when you’re feeling that stress that you can stop the stress the same way that people that are trained in firefighting and EMT and all of that, there’s something called the square breath. So you would breathe in for four, hold it for four, breathe out for four, and then hold that breath out for four. You do three or four rounds of this, what you’re doing is you’re first calming yourself down. And then it’s easier to ask one of those questions like, Okay, what’s right about this situation? Is there? Is there a way I can reframe this situation? Is there anything in this situation I can laugh about? If this was a comedy? How would that look? It’s, it’s, it’s a way of working with your mind, in in a different fashion than we’re normally used to. Because normally, because of the way the body and the brain work normally, that once once those negative thoughts start, they’re really hard to get rid of, because they become automatic. And we think about 60,000 thoughts a day. And of those 60,000 thoughts. That’s about 95% of what we thought yesterday. So we’re thinking the same repetitive thoughts over and over again. And the estimates are about 80% of that is negative. So we have to really adopt the idea that we can’t believe everything we think, because a whole lot of what we think, first of all, doesn’t even belong to us, we’re just picking it up, or picking it up from somewhere, either energetically or we’ve been watching the news, or we’ve just seen something that frightens us or stimulates that, that anxiety response in us. So we have to be I think we have to be super, super careful what we allow to come in, because there’s so many channels these days.

Janine Bolon
Well, and one of the things that really just intrigued me as I was looking over your different programs and your book and all was this five part formula that you kind of educate people on on how to become a positive energizer. And of course, I immediately think of the Energizer Bunny, because I’ve been accused of being the Energizer Bunny, because I’m always going and going and going, and people are just like, You’re kidding me. But I was just like, this is part of what you do with your link, you know, from positivity to profitability. But you also talk about this five part formula, and so I didn’t know if you could share just a few of those parts with us today.

JoAnna Brandi
Well, that’s what I referred to before about positive communication and positive climate, positive relationships and positive meaning and positive deviance. And when you put them all together, you get the formula for creating a more positive organization.

Janine Bolon
Well, I didn’t know what that positive energizer was, though, because that’s a title I was like,

JoAnna Brandi
Well, I’ll tell you where that came from, some of the research that’s being done out in the University of Michigan, with one of my teachers, Kim Cameron, talks about the fact that when a leader does these things he does these very things is always looking for the positive is asking questions that are empowering, is supporting people and appreciating people. When when that happens, that person becomes what he calls a positive energizer, because they’re able to have they have more influence, they have four times more influence than any other leader. Because people are so energized in their presence, that it spreads. you know, emotions are contagious. So if I’m energized about a project, and I’m excited about a project, and I’ve been just getting some praise, and I’m feeling good, because my boss notices what I’m doing, when I’m doing something right, then I’m going to be more energized, and that’s going to pass along to other people. We we don’t really pay attention to the fact that emotions are contagious, but they are so contagious. And one thing that I heard a lot when I was working a lot as a consultant, I’d be sitting with people in the organization, I always said you would ask them the question, you know, what’s it like working here? And then I’d ask a few other questions. And there was, there was something I heard over and over again, that was really spooky, because it was said the same way. How come they never notice when I’m doing something right? But when I’m doing something wrong, they’re all over me?

Janine Bolon
No, that is a frequent and common lament. I’ve heard that frequently with people.

JoAnna Brandi
And I think that’s what empowered me to figure out a solution for that. And positive leadership is the solution for that because we’re teaching leaders to look for the things that are going right, and then to expand on them. It’s the ability to create more capacity, whether personally in your own life, create more capacity for positivity. And that’s challenging for some people, like me because a good portion of our ability to be positive is genetic. So if it’s 50% genetic and you’re not born on I, when I display it with a slide, I have a pizza, and I’ve got a line going across, you know, like half of the pizza, is genetic. And we know it’s not exactly 50%, but it’s close. So if if half of your happiness, there’s a happiness set point, if half of it depends on your genetics, and you’re not born happy, you got to be really good at them taking care of the things you can control.

Janine Bolon
And that’s all about that locus of control is the locus of your control internal or external. And you don’t have to live too long to realize there’s only one area in life you have total control over, and that’s you. And even then, let’s go back to that point you made. Don’t believe everything you think I mean, I don’t want to gloss over that too fast. I mean, don’t believe everything you think. Are you kidding me? Yes, we are not joking. It is important. So tell us those numbers again, before we sign off for this segment. And that was you had those numbers of how many thoughts we have a year, and then or a day. Yeah, how many thoughts we have a day

JoAnna Brandi
60 to 80,000 thoughts a day. And 95% of those thoughts have the same thoughts as yesterday, and 80% of those thoughts are pretty much likely to be negative.

Janine Bolon
And so I would love for you guys to stick around with us for the next segment. Because there are multiple things JoAnna is going to walk us through not only her book, 52 ways to stay positive, okay, that’s not the direct quote, but 52 ways to a positive and a negative world. That’s not exactly the book title. But that’s where the emphasis is. But we’re going to be describing the book, some of the ways that you can help with your happiness factor, but my favorite, how to outsmart your happiness step point, I’m going to dig a little deeper into this. Don’t believe everything you think, because I wanted to express a little bit more with JoAnna about how just changing some of your thoughts, like even if it’s four or five thoughts, that you are making more progress than if you just live by default. And so we’re going to talk about that a little bit more how to outsmart your happiness set point with JoAnna Brandi, do stay tuned, we will see you after the break.

Janine Bolon
Welcome back, I’m Janine Bolon. I’m sitting here with JoAnna Brandi. And she is a Chief Happiness Officer, if you will. And I just wanted to chat with you about the most important thing. I think that we have said in this interview today. And that is don’t believe everything you think. I know I talked about it right before the break. But I think it’s important to emphasize these points, because you’re often said are told don’t believe everything you hear, don’t believe this, don’t believe that. But everything you think. Alright, talk to us a little bit more about this, JoAnna, because you got some great stories on this one.

JoAnna Brandi
I know, you know. And it’s it when I first understood the concept. It was it was such cognitive dissonance because I was, you know, raised in a time where I think, therefore I am. So everything I thought was me. And to hear that maybe I shouldn’t believe what’s going on in my own head was absolute heresy that put me in a tether for weeks, while I began to understand what it meant, and why it was important not to believe every random thought that came through my head. Because we’re not even control of all our thoughts. We picked them up from other places, you could walk through the supermarket and pick up stuff, right? Because we are we’re energetic beings, we pick up other people’s energy. So someone else could be having negative thoughts, and you can walk right by them, and boom, they pop up in your head, and you don’t even know why. So it really, it really is important that we allow ourselves to understand that we really can’t believe everything we think. So if we’re working on a project, and we we say something negative to ourselves, and I’m pretty good at this. So I’m so dumb, or I can’t get this done. Or I’m not going to get this done in time or something like that. That’s baloney. That’s that’s an old thought. That’s an old pattern. That’s what’s running through your mind. So it’s really important to learn to challenge your own thinking. Is that true? Is that really true? How can I know that’s really true. There’s a great body of work by Byron Katie, that that just asked these questions, teaches you how to challenge your thinking. It’s so important.

Janine Bolon
Well, it’s one of those things that when we when we talk about it, I read Rene Descartes, which is the one who’s you know, I think therefore I am, and I read his, I read his books and and I remember that the guy spent three months in solitary confinement of his own choosing, in a cabin deconstructing everything that he had ever learned. Because when he started traveling and he started moving around the planet in his day, he started realizing a lot of his own ideas or things he had been taught were totally wrong. So he was deconstructing to the end, then what people say is he deconstructed to the greatest lie we have, which is we think when we are thinking, we think that that’s us who’s talking in our own head, but and that is the core right? It’s right there. Poor Rene, he did three months, but he’s didn’t quite get deep enough. So let’s talk about the positive part of how do we outsmart our own happiness set point, and you have this wonderful story about a woman who took an extreme, extreme, you know, and I would like you to share that story, please.

JoAnna Brandi
I will, I will because I think it’s important to hear, and this is an incredibly smart woman, a public speaker, a writer, a consultant, but she decided she wanted to start paying attention to her negative thoughts, so she made them very visible. She, she took a Sharpie, and every negative thought she had during the day, she wrote it down somewhere on her body. And by the end of the day, she was covered in ink.

Janine Bolon
And this is something I mentioned,

JoAnna Brandi
I, I’ve done it only on my wrist, or you know, off the side, but it’s like, well, no, I can’t quite do that. She went on public like this. And, and she wanted, she really wanted to get it into her head, that she can’t believe what she thinks. Because it’s not true. There’s a ton of evidence that she’s smart, there’s a ton of evidence that she’s worthy, there’s a ton, there’s a ton of evidence for each one of us, that we are the positive version of ourselves. But for some reason, and for some people, it’s you know, early childhood, upbringing, religious upbringing, parental upbringing, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. But as adults, we want to challenge our own thinking. So a couple of things we can do, we can change our circumstances which are, that’s 10% of our happiness set point. So maybe we’re in a job we don’t like we can get a different job, maybe we’re in a living situation we don’t like we can get into a different living situation. But the things that really make a difference as far as circumstances is whether or not you have faith in something outside yourself, which is extremely important. Whether or not you have a social network, we’re finding out that’s really finding out from COVID is the importance of having social interactions of having other people that care for you and about you really, really important, not only in the workplace, but definitely in our in our personal lives. And the other thing that we can look at is what our 40% of our happiness comes from our habits are, are things we have control over our habits, our thoughts, what we take in what we take in visually what we take in auditorily. And sometimes even our food, right, the things that we have control over. So if you are part of the group that is you know, not genetically happy, I happen to be part of that group, I still have 40, 50% of stuff I can work on. If you are blessed with the genetics that make you make it easier for you to be happier, good for you spread it around. But people like me have practices, I have positivity practices, I work on my gratitude. I do an exercise at night called three blessings and I say things that happen during the day that I would consider blessings or goodness, and write down why they happened or how they happened or just expand on them a little bit. I work with the power of intention, setting an intention in the morning. And then because when when you focus your intention and your attention, you’re more likely to get what you want. So it’s it’s all these things are really a function of mindfulness, of making that choice to say, I want a happier life, I want more happiness in my life. So you can do those kinds of things. You can change your filters, you know, we all look at the world through filters, our belief systems, our attitudes, our assumptions, our experience or expectations. We can change those filters, we can change our expectations. We can change our attitudes, we can change our beliefs. There are so many things that we can look at to say, is this in alignment with how I want to live my life

Janine Bolon
And that is where progress is really made as a positive leadership coach that you are for these amazing organizations and and I know you work with churches and schools and temples. One of the things that I just find incredible is when you really start focusing in on what you’re thinking and what your internal dialogue is, you know, you’ve heard that thing, change your thoughts, and you’ll change your life. That isn’t just a saying. I mean, that is really true. And if you sit down and actually start recording how often you say a negative thing, and then you dive into is that true, one of the things that I stumbled into by accident was, I was still carrying around a negative thought that had been told to me when I was six. It is totally not appropriate decades later. I’ve grown since then it’s like, it’s like, it totally took, you know, took away. And so once that changed, it was amazing how my life changed. So let’s talk about the other amazing thing about you, JoAnna, and that is your book 54 ways book. That’s kind of the short term. But let me give you the official title. Now, since I messed it up last time. “54 Ways to Stay Positive in a Changing, Challenging and Sometimes Negative World. Talk to us about number one, why on earth 54? And why did you decide to write this crazy book long before 2020 ever happened?

JoAnna Brandi
You know what I was giving a seminar in New Jersey. And I was teaching a group of customer care professionals about how to do a better job of taking care of themselves and their customers, because I always focus on them, too. And somebody I talked about something about a negative world, this goes many years back, and a woman in the back raised her hand and she said, Well, JoAnna, how do you stay positive in a negative world?

Janine Bolon
Game on we call that challenge accepted

JoAnna Brandi
That was game on and at that time, I was I was working with that company on a long term contract. And we were doing hold your breath on this one audio tapes every month that we sent out to the employees. And I said, You know what, that is a great question. And next month, in my audio segment, I am going to teach you 13 ways to stay positive in a negative world. Well, I became fascinated with it. Because every month now I could write 13 more. And before you know what I had a whole bunch of these things. And then I went, Oh, somebody make a nice book. So I I started cleaning them up and started asking other people, what do you do to stay positive. And then I took them to a friend of mine who was a Publisher, and he said to me, they need pictures. This book needs pictures. So I literally carried the manuscript for four years looking for an Illustrator, and I met lots of them. But none of them were right. Until one day, I sat down at a direct marketing meeting here in Florida, next to a wonderful woman, the late JoAnne Goldsmith, who said, you know, I can illustrate that for you, and I said, wonderful, I rip the I had my literally, I had it in my briefcase, I took it out of my briefcase, and I said to her, let’s just try a few. And this dear woman meditated every one of these things. When it came time to finish the book and get it published and all that kind of stuff, we settled on the number 54. JoAnne was Jewish, and I think I had she said it has to be a number that that it’s the number 18 is behind. So it had to be a number that was in it for her, it had to be in a number line with that I was fine. I got many more in the drawer. So we did that. And then another friend of mine who is also passed from this world at this point, and we dedicated the first run of the book to her. Um, she said to me, that’s not fair to say it’s a negative world, it’s only negative sometimes. Interesting. So I changed the title to “54 Ways to Stay Positive in a Changing, Challenging and Sometimes Negative World.” So I have two dear friends reflected in this. And then the last time I republished it, which came to me in a meditation. I was told to go republish this book. I did not know my Illustrator would pass away. So

Janine Bolon
I I’d love to learn more. We got to have you back on the show. But real quick before we have to leave. How does someone get ahold of you, JoAnna?

JoAnna Brandi
I’m JoAnna, [email protected]

Janine Bolon
Thank you so much, because I did not want to leave this segment without somebody knowing how to get a hold of you. Thank you so much for being with us today.

JoAnna Brandi
Oh, I love working with you Janine. This is always so much fun.

Janine Bolon
We’ll have you back on 54 Ways to Stay Positive people. We’ll see you next time on The Janine Bolon show. We broadcast every Sunday from noon to one on AHNC talk to you soon.

Bryan Hyde
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