Progress, Not Problem Focus Essential

As I listened to the April 30th 2021 Friday Morning, NYT Daily Podcast,”Odessa, Part 4: Wellness Check“, I was stunned at their focus and how it seemed to relate to life. At the end of April 2021 there is hope that we are coming out of the pandemic. This 4 part NYT Daily Podcast has described the experience of a High School in Odessa Texas during the last half of 2020 as they attempted to have in person classes during the pandemic.

I enjoyed the podcasts focus on the progress they made to have school despite difficult times. I was then confused when their ending question was, “What is the permanent damage that has been done?”. They also stated they were asking this question about the impact on these 17 year old students.

I stopped walking as I was listening because I realized it related to me and my story. At 17 years of age I was the passenger of a car that collided head on with another. Despite difficult times because of the accident, I carried on. What was my option? In my incident, the driver and the other 2 passengers were killed and I suffered a severe head trauma that left me comatose. The Odessa podcast shocked me because I wondered why they were asking about the permanent damage being done instead of how and why some did well and how how they can do better.

If you are interested, more about my accident and its impact on me, it is described in the linked Positive Health tab here and at the top of the page. The link opens to the essay: The Power of Positive Health: Why I am so passionate about Wellness.

In my recovery, I also wondered, “What is the permanent damage done?” I am sure there is some, however it it is not where I focus. I focused then and still do, on discovering how I could make progress. This focus was possible because of the significant positive help from family and friends, most especially my parents. Can you have this type of influence on your family friends and or organizations.

A progress, not problem focus is helpful because my success, and the triumphs of anyone, come about by finding ways to do better or more good. Progress cannot develop evolve or happen, unless by accident, by only learning how to experience less bad. Bad or difficult things will happen, they are inevitable, however we will only be capable of overcoming those difficulties if we have a capacity that enables us to adapt and “carry on” in a better way. Searching for permanent damage will not enable us to do better or have more capacity. To move forward we must develop our capacities and enhance our collaborations. It is also valuable to remember the self-worth reinforcing feelings accomplishment generates, especially through trying experiences, by focusing on progress, not problems.

As noted often on this blog, research from my work and that of many scientists has documented how it is more effective and powerful to generate more good, or comprehensive improvements, than it is to diminish bad. Even though less bad may not be the focus, it is often the complementary side effect. For instance higher quality products and services generated by quality management methods also result less bad in the form of in lower costs and less waste.

The most notable proponent and promoter of quality management methods can be seen from the work of world changing quality management Dr. W. Edwards Deming. His promoted quality methods provides a processes to generate more good and as a secondary benefit, less bad. His quality management methods are relevant and useful everywhere because as he stated, by doing things this way, “everyone wins”. I prefer everyone benefits because if someone wins, it suggests there are also losers. Quality management methods like paneugenesis helps everyone and everything benefit. If it does not, it is not being done correctly.

Dr. Deming’s work is certainly foundational to what I do. A foundational principle of quality management is continual process improvement. I have translated these quality management techniques to wellness and lifestyle process improvement. My work has also shown the most effective way to generate more good and practice paneugenesis is to work toward creating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Shakespeare provides another related perspective when he explains that there’s not good and bad, it is just what we label it. For this situation, we should choose progress, not problems

The labeling perspective is also shared by Ben Saunders who trekked the South Pole. At the end of his Ted Talk, “To the South Pole and Back – the hardest 105 days of my life”, he suggests we focus on progress

“Happiness is not about finish lines…If we can’t feel content here, today, now, on our journeys, amidst the mess and the striving that we all inhabit, the open loops, the half finished to-do lists, the could-do-better-next-times, then we might never feel it.”

Ben Saunders

If we truly want to make progress and overcome problems as necessary side effect, our focus has to be on progress, not just problems. Please share how you focus on progress and how this has helped. Thank you for all you do to help all of us make progress!

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Build a Net Positive Life for ALL

Life is full of positive and negative events. Both are necessary. The goal is to end up with more good than bad. Evolutionarily speaking we are more reactive to negative events, possibly because avoidance of those events was necessary or survival. The preference for negative events was documented by many researchers. These researchers also identified the need for positive interactions in our life to outnumber our negative events by about 3. The 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative events was necessary to have net positive life according to Barbara Fredrickson’s and the Losada line, Corey Keyes with the Mental Health Continuum and many more. These findings replicated and documented the the original findings by Kahneman and Tversky that showed our innate tendency to be risk averse and to have what they termed loss aversion because negatives, or losing something, was more impactful and meaningful than the positives of a possible gain. 

This means to create a Net Positive Life, we must cause good, do good and help many. To have a net positive life, we must consistently work at better ourselves, as we help others and our environment. In other words, the +3 life I discuss from selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions relates to how we can have a net positive life and exceed expectations:

These points were driven home again from my reading of the fantastic work by Bradley and Taylor in “The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More is Getting Use Less”. A book I strongly recommend you read. In the book they use powerful data to document how we are all in this together, and we do best when we help each other. With powerful clarity, they document something we all already innately know, better health cannot be achieved through medical means. They end the book with:

To that end, an ever-growing body of literature suggests that broadening Americans’ historically narrow focus on medicine in pursuit of improved national health may ultimately hold the key to unraveling the spend more, get less paradox.

While medicine is good at medical care, America does have the best emergency care, our lives and health are not linear, they have multiple causes. These multiple causes mean we need to also, if not primarily, focus on the social, behavioral and environmental non-medical determinants of health because it is more effective at improving quality of life as it also decreases the need for medical care.

Throughout history, America has made an attempt to support and improve non-medical care with community health centers, HMOs, and now ACO’s. Unfortunately, the power of the medical lobby and their concern over losing paying patients caused these efforts to be watered down to a focus on medical care. Without question, medical care is crucial for specific illnesses. Medical care is vital for acute, short term care, I am alive because of it. However a larger content is more predictive and necessary to improve public health. Bradley and Taylor also show us many successful efforts in America that resulted in better health. These attempts also were significantly less expensive and better for all involved. 

America Actually Spends Less On Healthcare

With clarity, they demonstrate America does NOT spend the most on healthcare if you account for all the factors associated with health, not just medical care. Medical care and social services are interrelated. Nations that spend more on social services enjoy a higher quality of life and better health and spend much less on medical care – because it is not needed. America spends the most on treatment and rescue care because America’s system neglects the social, behavior and environmental determinants of health.

America’s neglect of social, behavioral and environmental determinants of health has resulted in very bad outcomes. Despite spending so much on medical treatment, America lags other peer nations in 

  • Life expectancy
  • Infant mortality
  • Low birth weight
  • Injuries and homicides
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),
  • HIV Aids
  • Drug related deaths
  • Obesity, diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Chronic lung disease, and
  • Disability rates

Quite an indictment of our current system. Medical care is good at treating disease, what it is designed to do, it is not good at creating health, it is not designed to do that, medicine is about eliminating disease. We must remember health is the PRESENCE of physical, mental and social well-being and NOT MERELY the absence of disease and infirmity. The movie, “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare” by Shannon Brownlee demonstrates this in stunning clarity.

To build a net positive life for ourselves and our nation, we must generate comprehensive improvements by engaging in more social, behavioral and environmental interactions that facilitate health for all. I look forward to hearing about your selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions that help everyone and everything benefit.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Habits Can be and Should be Good

Judson Brewers excellent book, “The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to smartphones to love – why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits” and his TED Presentation, “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit” is focused on ending bad habits. Ending bad habits is helpful, however creating good habits can be even better because they help us improve.  We can create good habits by intentionally taking action to develop specific helpful behaviors.

Dr. Brewer shared many great insights in his book.  One I found important was when he suggested rather than focusing on our craving, a desire to do something, a bad habit we should instead become curious and discover what is happening.  He suggests doing this so curiosity becomes our habit.

My focus has been on how to develop good habits that improve our life.  I have focused on habits because habits require a lower cognitive load and therefore provide us with greater capacity and potential to excel. For example, I just came back from swimming.  I have been a swimmer most of my life and I am able to swim and do laps habitually, it does not take conscious effort to swim.  Since I do not need to devote my mind to the task of swimming, I can think about other things.  Luckily, many of my ideas or answers to questions I have come to me when I swim. I discuss this idea of having more capacity at my Capacity Enables Creativity and Crisis Mitigation post.

Another insight Dr. Brewer shared that I found enlightening was how he discussed what I term, Selfish, Selfless, Synergy. If interested, see Experts & Joey Explain Benefits of Selfish/Selfless/SynergyMaking a Symphony with Selfish, Selfless, SynergyBiology & Evolution Make Us Selfish, Selfless, & Synergistic, and many more.  My point has always been that being selfish is being selfless or that they are these ideas may be the same.  If you are interested in this perspective, Bill Clinton and Joey explain in the video’s below.

Dr. Brewer however clarifies the idea of being selfish and or selfless.  He suggests acts are selfish when they are done for external or extrinsic rewards and selfless acts are when actions are taken for intrinsic reasons.  For example, he suggests holding the door for someone to get a “Thank you” in return is selfish and holding the door for the intrinsic reward of feeling good for is selfless.

My thoughts about this are that there is overlap and both methods provide a reward. Dr. Brewer however helped clarify how we think about rewards for our actions may help make our actions more consistent with our intentions.  Research by ETbHiggins would also suggest a consistent self-regulation style will also improve performance of those actions.

It also seems that  intrinsic rewards can also be extrinsically rewarding at a later time, thus an overlap.  It is also likely most of us know this at some level, even though we mostly do an action for intrinsic reasons.  I hope this fits with my idea that money must follow, it should not lead. That is we should do good, and in time if our good provides value, we will be rewarded beyond just feeling good for doing good.  After all, if we are not rewarded over time, we could not continue engaging in those actions.  Does that make sense?  In addition, research to date seems to suggest we will perform better and create more value when intrinsically driven than if driven for extrinsic reasons.  A great amount of research supports this contention.

All in all it seems this could also support the idea of paneugenesis.  That is we should focus on creating all good and can feel good for doing good because practicing paneugenesis is to generate comprehensive improvements for everyone and everything by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions.

Please share your thoughts.  I recommend you read Dr. Brewer’s book and Practice Paneugenesis to create all good so everyone and everything benefits.  Doing so should also help you feel good for doing good!

If interested, you can see other posts I made about this concept at Everything Happens for a Reason! Make it Good!Do Good or Don’t Do Bad – Does it Matter? and others.

Make it a Great Week!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Contact me at:
Email: BeWellr@gmail.com

Create All Good – Paneugenesis – in Prisons?

Is it possible to use selfish, selfless, synergy to create all good and generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits in prisons? Germany’s new approach to prisons, the same country that created and used concentration camps to break people, now uses a dramatically different approach that may benefit society. The first section of the 60 Minutes video below shows their recent presentation about how they are jailing people in Germany.

This new approach that helps people learn how to be to contributing members of society, rather than punishing them, shows promise. This approach also lines up with Steven Pinker’s findings that suggest society is becoming moral, see this post.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this development. Make it a great Holiday!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Wellness is the “Opposite of Loneliness”

I was moved by Marina Keegan’s amazing final essay at Yale. Tragically she was killed in a car crash a week after graduating, she was 22. She created the essay below for a special edition of the Yale Daily News edition that was distributed at the class of 2012’s commencement.

I inspired because I realized this is what our world should be and what we all want. It is like how I feel when I attend the National Wellness Conference every year. This means making the world a place where we become the best versions of ourselves.

As she shares, it is not about just being comfortable but about progress, as shared in a previous essay, Is Wellness Progress?  My push is that we all need to enlarge our circle include all living things in creating progress so we generate improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Enjoy…

Marina’s essay

Screen-Shot-2014-04-07-at-2.48.26-AM

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.

Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse — I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.

But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.

For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at EST EST EST. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS, probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.

We’re in this together. Let’s make something happen to this world.

Hard to say it better than that. Lets work together for progress by generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

 –

Scaring Doesn’t Work – Focus on Better! 👍🏻

Energy and Environment
James Hansen’s controversial sea level rise paper has now been published online

For years I have been hearing about problems associated with sea level rise. It seems they are trying to scare us into action. Scaring however has been shown time and time again when removed by time, it doesn’t work. Scaring may create an immediate reaction but it does not lead to the long-term change and dedication needed. Movement toward a better outcome and a better world – something everyone desires – does manifest commitment, adherence, and better performance.

Of course a sea level rise would be a problem, however, instead of focusing on what to do make a better world, most of these articles, including one linked above, focuses on who agrees or does not agree this will happen. Who cares? If it happens we all lose, nobody benefits. Instead why don’t we think about how to make things better in ways that are helpful to enabling everyone and everything to benefit.

As I learned last week and posted here, we have the technology and know how to have a better world without reliance on fossil fuels, what many say is the main culprit  in global warming.  My point, however is that even if all the experts are wrong and it is not fossil fuels that are causing the problem, the solution toward a more democratized, stable, fulfilling world is more likely if we decarbonize our economy. Why shouldn’t we move in that direction to make things better.

In other words, lets stop arguing about what is the cause and instead just focus our efforts on how to generate comprehensive benefits by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. This means creating all good or the practice of paneugenesis with selfish, selfless, synergy (described in video below). I look forward to how we can create more good, not just less bad – also in previous post. Make it a great day, year, life! If you want to learn more, you can review this longer presentation.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

My Sister Practiced Paneugenesis and Everything Benefitted!

As you know, paneugenesis is a selfish, selfless, synergistic actions that create interactions so everyone and everything benefits. I was happy to learn that my sister, Holly Hennessy, who is  Vice Principal in California is practicing paneugenesis by leading a 6th Grade class in a real life civics lesson. She and the students took time to make a local park more beautiful so everyone and everything benefits. Those that participated realized they could make a difference and that their actions matter. Read more about what and how they did it here.

Bellflower students keep Carruthers Park beautiful

Students from Woodruff Elementary and Bellflower Middle School raked wood chips in fitness areas at Caruthers Park on Friday, Jan. 30, as part of a service projected dedicated to beautifying the 20-acre Bellflower city park. Courtesy

See athttp:/http://www.presstelegram.com/lifestyle/20150207/bellflower-students-keep-carruthers-park-beautiful

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Create selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions

so everyone & everything benefits!

Selfish Selfless Synergy In Action

The selfish, selfless, synergy or the practice of paneugenesis which is done by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits is something anyone can build into their life. Of course one of the greatest benefits is the self-worth or good feelings about oneself that is generated by creating such actions beyond the benefits afforded everyone and everything. In the TED presentation below by Aziz Abu Sarah he explains how tourism can make the world a better place – yes tourism!

The examples he provides supply excellent examples of how he is making the world better in his own unique way and  may help you think how you could do it in your way. It is the action we take that provides the evidence about ourself we need to feel good. Happiness does not just happen nor is it the our default state. As Martin Seligman in Authentic Happiness, Flourishing and other publications & Tal Ben-ShaHar in Happier and other publications has shown, happiness has to be earned by doing something. Unhappiness on the other hand requires nothing. If you don’t do anything, unhappiness is the outcome most likely.

Enjoy this presentation on Aziz is using Tourism to create Selfish, Selfless, Synergy:

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

I look forward to hearing about how you use selfish, selfless, synergy to generate All Good by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits!