Welcome to Joy Lab!: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Joy Lab podcast, where we help you uncover and foster your most joyful self. Your hosts, Dr. Henry Emmons and Dr. Aimee Prasek, bring you the ideal mix of soulful and scientifically sound tools to spark your joy, even when it feels dark. When you're ready to experiment with more joy, combine this podcast with the full Joy Lab program over at JoyLab.coach.
Henry: Hello, I'm Henry Emmons.
Aimee: And I'm Aimee Prasek. So welcome to Joy Lab. Here at Joy Lab, we infuse science with soul to help you uncover joy. To do that, we focus on building the elements of joy, the positive emotions and inner states that become the building blocks for a joyful life. The element for this episode is inspiration. I really love that we focus on this element in January because to me, it is almost [00:01:00] the opposite energy compared to New Year's resolutions.
Simply looking at the word itself, the essence of the word inspiration is to inspire. It's literally the act of breathing in. Basic, necessary act of letting something fill you up. So I see this element as an invitation, here as we embark, perhaps if you're listening at the beginning of 2023, uh, to come back to your core with inspiration, to open up to the nourishment around you and take in what you really need.
When I think of resolutions, on the other hand, I am just like all set to write down a list of what I need to fix about myself, what I need to stop doing to reach that "new me" ideal that I've sketched out, you know, based generally on some societal pressure. And don't get me wrong, if resolutions are your thing and you love 'em [00:02:00] and they fill you up, and they help you positive changes, then go ahead.
But if you are interested in another option that might motivate more nourishing and lasting changes, I think working with this element of inspiration is super powerful.
Henry: Yes, I, I agree. I think, that both those terms, uh, inspiration and resolution, have to do with change, they just seem to come at it from two very different directions.
I used to be more inspired actually by making resolutions. I was kind of into that for several years, and there still is an element that I really appreciate about it.
There's this sense of tenacity or grit, and I, I do admire that, that some people have more than I do at this point in my life. But, uh, , but now I, I share your feelings about resolutions. Aimee. I, I, [00:03:00] I have come to feel like there's sort of a duty, you know, like, there's something I have to do if I have resolved to do it.
You know, especially if I've promised someone else that I'm going to do it. So there's often this message that there is something wrong with me that I need to improve. I'm not saying I couldn't use a little improvement either.
Aimee: I agree Henry, not with the idea that you could use improvement, of course. Makes me think of, uh, Mr. Rogers, he would sing: "I like you as you are. Exactly and precisely. I think you've turned out nicely." To you, Henry, and to everybody listening. Um, but I also agree that, uh, grit, you know, that energy of grit, um, that comes with resolutions often that can feel really good and it actually can inspire some quick movement.
But I think [00:04:00] one problem, that can come in when that kind of fuel is behind, sort of a base belief that we're flawed, deficient or coming up short, if that is a fuel, moving those beliefs, it can become this gritty, aggressive, kind of desperate energy coming at ourselves. Like a brutal military training and the enemy we're training for is ourselves, which is kind of terrible and those false accusations coming ourselves are just false. That's one of the underpinnings of Joy Lab. We are not broken. We do not need to be fixed in order to feel joy.
Henry: That's right. So, we have decided that our first resolution, the starting point for our new year is that we do not need to be fixed. I really do think that gives us a stronger foundation for [00:05:00] actually being inspired than this notion that we somehow have to try to be better. Now, this is just such an important, key concept for us here at Joy Lab.
It's really one of our core foundational beliefs. So we believe that starting from. Is a lot more inspiring than starting from pathology or what's wrong. So Aimee, I think this is a great time to revisit one of the original inspirations for Joy Lab. It's called the Broaden and Build Model, and you are so good at describing it. Why don't you give us a summary of it?
Aimee: I do love this model. Um, this is coming from Barbara Frederickson's work and her colleagues. So the basic idea is that practicing these positive emotions and inner states, like the ones we work on here at Joy, Lab, [00:06:00] create a more flexible and expansive way of thinking and moving and interacting with ourselves and the outside world.
That's this broadening effect. They allow us to build up resources that improve our resilience and overall mental and physical health in big ways. That's the build effect. And so as we practice these emotions and inner states, they continue to build, they create these new pathways in our brain. Uh, they created durability, that makes it more likely that they'll show up in the future with less effort and they start to sort of rebalance our baseline. Uh, this model also notes something called the upward spiral that we talk about a lot here, and the spiral is actually sort of more immediate than the rebalancing, I just note noted.
Like moment to moment benefits, but that also fuel more lasting behavior change. So the upward spiral means that when we practice [00:07:00] these emotions and inner states, they can immediately promote more healthy behaviors like drinking more water or exercising. I mean really anything positive for mind or body, which then helps more positive emotions and inner states rise up more often.
Which then promotes more healthy behaviors. You get the picture, it just keeps going. They all fuel each other. It's sometimes referred to as, um, reciprocal causality. Everything is kind of fueling each other in this positive direction. I think what I also love about this model is that it's not saying that we should be positive all the time.
The model is built on the power of positive emotions that show up in contextually appropriate ways, which is actually both sort of the opposite of toxic positivity and toxic negativity. When we sort of rigidly hang onto either positive or negative [00:08:00] emotions, regardless of context. And, and it's also saying that we can practice and ignite this stuff, we can self-generate positive emotions.
So we don't have to just wait for good things to to happen. And I think this is really essential because it's easy to get caught up in negative emotions which keep us closed up and unable to expand what we see, what we think, who we connect with, how we problem solve. Because we're working from survival mode, which is good when we need it, but it's really limiting and exhausting when it's all that's turned on. And often that's where we give all our focus. You know, trying to make these bad feelings go away. It's like playing a game of whack-a-mole with our stress or negative emotions, just trying to push it out, shove it away. We give them all our focus. We try to knock them out or ignore them.
But this [00:09:00] model, this broaden and build model, gives us another path. A path on how we can live more in tune with life. To take sort of what reigns we can to feel better more often, and to even flourish. Which is really for me, the same as how we describe joy here in Joy Lab. It's a state of authentic flourishing.
Henry: Nicely done.
Aimee: I know. I love it so much! I love that model. So empowering.
Henry: Yeah, it is. We've, we've talked before about how much emphasis is given in the world of mental health to what's wrong. And I think a lot of people learn to identify themselves with their pathology, you know? I'm depressed or I'm just an anxious person. In over 30 years as a psychiatrist, I found that people are much more hopeful and they just do a lot better if they recognize how [00:10:00] much they are already doing right. You know how resilient they already are. So one of the things I've really tried to emphasize in my books and my clinical work is that these things that we call anxiety and depression are not all alike. You know, it's, it's not one size fits all.
Aimee: Yeah, I think that kind of pathology pushing was what drew me into this work of integrative health and resilience, actually. I vividly remember seeing a psychiatrist at my undergrad university and told them that several folks in my family had died of suicide, and they replied,
"Well then you'll need to be on antidepressants your whole life. You'll have depression whether you like it or not. Those are your genes, genes."
And my thought was F you. The psychiatrist had spent like five minutes with me. What do you know? My second, after a pause, thought was [00:11:00] okay, that's fine. But I, if I have to take meds for the rest of my life, that's fine, but I'm not going to let that person tell me that a predisposition or a label holds all the power. That I have absolutely no control in how I feel.
I knew that wasn't right. That's why I'm so passionate about what we do here, I think. Why Henry and I are so passionate, we've studied it, we've seen it, practiced, it, felt it. We've obsessed over models, around it, and when Henry started Natural Mental Health, I forced him to let me be part of it. And so our, our Joy Lab program and, uh, podcasts actually live over there over at Natural Mental Health, NaturalMentalHealth.com.
And in addition to all that we do here at Joy Lab, Natural Mental Health offers tons of resources for common mental health challenges, like struggles with mood, anxiousness, or sleep. And we know [00:12:00] there is so much information out there about self care, diet, nutritional products, many of the things that are within our hands, but it can be really hard to make sense of all that information or know which practice or style of eating or supplement to try.
And one of the tools over at naturalmentalhealth.com is a quiz to help sort this out by giving you what we call a resilience type. I love this quiz. So based on your answers, you can line up with the wellness approaches, nutrients, even mindfulness practices that might be best suited to your type, or at the very least, are really great places to start so that you can ignite some inspiration and feel a bit better more quickly.
Uh, this is a free quiz. I'll put a link, uh, to it in the show notes. I encourage you to check it out. We think it will be really helpful, and all based on this belief that you are not broken and you can create positive changes from [00:13:00] a place of strength. So Henry, these types are really based on your work, this big body of work.
Um, so can you give us a brief explanation of it.
Henry: Sure, I'm happy to. So I was trained in, you know, modern, Western medicine with a really strong focus on neuroscience and brain chemistry. I've got a really solid background in that, but early in my career I was also really interested and influenced by medicine, which, you know, developed centuries ago really in, in India, and then also by Buddhist psychology.
So I think they have a very helpful way of thinking about mind-body subtypes. That's my word for it And it's more than I can explain right now, but, but it lined up I think, really neatly with what I was seeing [00:14:00] in my patients. So it was clear to me, pretty early on, that depression, for example, shows up in very different patterns and anxiety does too. And our diagnostic terms, you know, the modern DSM, they're just too broad really, to make these distinctions, and yet I found it very helpful to have these different distinctions in order to choose the best treatment for my patients. So really briefly, I see people tending to show up with one of three distinct patterns.
The first is that that some tend to be more anxious, a lot of worry, and a tendency to maybe grasp for something that they think is missing and that will fill them up. Others are more agitated so they feel kind of moody, or they wanna push things away [00:15:00] because they're irritating. And then there are still others that are more sluggish with kind of loss of motivation or, or just wanting to shut down. And I believe that these patterns do reflect different imbalances in brain chemistry. But also unique imbalances in things like lifestyle, diet, you know, even, deeper things like the psyche or the soul. And these imbalances, I think, are hugely affected by these really common problems. We talk a lot about and trouble sleeping, so those factor in as well.
And we, we factor those into our, our quiz, you know, and trying to help find out what's most, gonna be most helpful for people. So the point in understanding if you have one of these imbalances, it's not to judge yourself, but it's to come up with [00:16:00] solutions that are really well suited to you at this moment in time.
And as we were saying earlier, it, it just works better to start from a foundation of strength and personal resources. So we focus, instead of what's wrong, we focus on what we call these resilience types. Now there are six of them, and we don't really have time to talk about them all in detail, but if you do know your type, you will get a much better sense of what you need to do to nourish yourself back into balance, and then to stay in balance.
And like Aimee said, even to flourish. So Aimee, I know you've taken the quiz. You want to tell us what type are you?
Aimee: Yes, I am the Creative type. So for me, this type, my resilience and inspiration are [00:17:00] generally more easily supported through my curiosity, from brainstorming, expansive thinking, uh, engaging with others to solve problems. Uh, I love to innovate, consider new possibilities, ideas. It's like this fun thinking stuff.
And us creative types, after you guys take the quiz, um, those of you creative types, maybe you're gonna resonate, especially right here... we can keep thinking and creating all day and all night. Actually with a bit of caffeine we can create like wild and inspire others to join us. It's this fun, expansive energy, and what I think is really helpful about understanding our resilience type, as Henry's noting, we can see how those same wonderful tendencies can swing too far and we can get outta balance.
So overthinkers are listening... probably relating right here. We can ruminate, worry, think all day and night, burn ourselves out because [00:18:00] we just don't slow down and take a break. And this creative type can actually swing toward that pretty easily. So we have to be aware and practice pausing and resting and caring for ourselves just in the moment without trying to create something, All. The. Time. Which I can veer into. So I really like this understanding of resilience as well because, coming back actually to our resolution here, the idea is that you do not need to be fixed. Instead, we're recognizing how common it is, that the ways we get out of balance can often be our strengths, just taken to the extreme.
I love that invitation then, that instead of fixing, uprooting everything, which might be the tendency as well with us creative types, uh, we can soften a bit, practice some awareness, infuse some positive [00:19:00] inner states, step back, and then come to those same balanced strengths that we already have and let them take shape in healthier ways.
So what's your resilience type, Henry? Is it the same?
Henry: Uh, you know, I have a lot of that in me too, you probably know. Um, you know, I, I think fundamentally I am an Enthusiastic type. So what that means is that it's, it's my nature to get excited about things and to have lot of interests all at once, and to pursue those interests all at once.
So when I'm living in balance with my nature, then I think I can be warm, kind of lively, animated, I think I'm pretty fun to be around.
Aimee: I agree.
Henry: Yeah, at least that's my belief, and I'm sticking to it.
Aimee: Own [00:20:00] it.
Henry: So you know, it's, but it's not hard to imagine if you're listening that an Enthusiastic type can get out of balance pretty easily. So I cannot tell you how many times I have overdone it. it. Pursued too many fun things at once. Tried to stuff too much into an already busy schedule.
I'm sure some of you listening can relate to that. My wife used to threaten to put a sticky note on my forehead saying just the word "No." I, I didn't do it cuz of course, if it was on my own forehead, I wouldn't have seen it. And it wouldn't have, wouldn't have worked.
Aimee: You would've crossed it out and wrote maybe. Yeah. Sure. I'll it a try.
Henry: I would have just ignored it. but, you know, it's really been helpful for me to [00:21:00] see that thriving and struggling are just kind of on the same continuum. Different sides of the same coin. It's kind of like, like the yin and yang, uh, image. So it's not that there is something wrong with me. I've just allowed myself to swing too far in one direction.
Now, even with this awareness, I am still not very good at saying no to things that I want to do, but I'm okay with it now because, for one thing, I've really learned to look for early signs of imbalance, and I have developed some skills to get myself back on track just a lot more quickly.
Aimee: Yeah, that continuum is really powerful. I like that visual reminder because, it, it also, there's a center there. It's accessible for all of us cuz we're moving through on that space. I think [00:22:00] what's also great here is that these resilience types can help us fire up some inspiration, some motivation to take the steps we may need to come back to balance.
I think a really good way to do that is to actually return to our elements of joy to see which you align with most. Which ones um, like just kinda spark something for you. So if you're in the Joy Lab program, this is easy. You can go back to your experiments, uh, for that element and play in there. And even here at the podcast, go back to an episode that focuses on an element you feel connected to.
And it will likely stoke some inspiration for you. This strategy aligns with something in behavior change called harmonious passions. Um, I'll talk about this in the future episode. I know!
Henry: I love that term!
Aimee: Right? Yeah. So we'll talk about that later cuz just initially it's, yeah, I wanna, I wanna do that. I want harmonious passions.
Um, and we [00:23:00] all have them. Even if you feel like there's not something that sparks you, we all have these harmonious passions. Um, our resilience types can help us identify those I think as well. So we can choose these practices that come easiest for us, quite honestly, that give us some feel-good, quick wins, and that fire up inspiration to care for ourselves in essential ways. Then the upward spiral starts moving . So for us creative types, the elements of joy that might be easiest for us to practice... curiosity and fun, right, right away, those pop into my mind. With our Joy Lab program, I might do a few experiments from those areas to help me come back to some balance and stoke some inspiration to work on the elements that might be harder for me, like gratitude, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
Even outside of the program though, I might do something creative that lets my brain rest like coloring or baking [00:24:00] or something that's fun that also lets my brain pause like a group exercise class or a board game with someone. maybe you use your resilience types in the same way, Henry like kind of as a bit of a compass to help, you know what to do next?
Henry: Yeah. You know, I think it's, it's helpful to me to think of them as sort of an antidote. You know, when I start swinging out of balance, this is something I can, I can use really quickly to counter that and can I bring myself back. But remember, I'm an enthusiastic type, so I like all of them. But there are some that I know are better for, kind of balance, rebalancing me, bringing me back. And I, I think for me those are things like, like practicing equanimity or awe, or simply savoring.
That's a really, really good one for me. It's so kind of tactile and, concrete. [00:25:00] So to remind myself, you know, that I, I can slow down. I can take in just a few things more deeply and get some real satisfaction from them. I don't have to do everything.
Aimee: Yeah, you know, I know who to ask when I wanna play board game though, or something. I'll ask my enthusiastic friends cuz they just can't say no. I'll just bring them in. So it's nice to know your friends resilience types too. So I hope you all head over to that resilience quiz and see your strengths.
And what you can leverage in nourishing ways to create change. We know it can be tough though, and we'll address some of those obstacles and strategies in the next two episodes. Until then, I want to leave you with some inspiration from Pema Chodron:
"Our true nature is like a precious jewel, although it may be temporarily buried in mud,
it remains [00:26:00] completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it."
Thanks for joining us!: Thank you for listening to the Joy Lab podcast. If you enjoy today's show, visit JoyLab.coach to learn more about the full Joy Lab program. Be sure to rate and review us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.