Mental well being is Don’s business and he really knows his stuff. Nick and Don question why there isn’t more focus on the emotional well being of workers in the workforce, how to design the workplace and workforce of the future, and what it means to strive for authentic happiness. Can software or technology be built to assist in this movement towards better well being, or is this a process thing? Or, is it just adoption and awareness?
Don Fernando Azevedo received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Tennessee in 1988. He left graduate school with a strong desire to strengthen marriages and families.Dr. Azevedo worked as a clinician for more than 25 years in a variety of locations from war zones with the 101st Airborne Division in Desert Storm, to hospitals, to private practice. In early 2000, he accepted a challenge to enter the corporate world to find another way to apply psychological thought to the human condition.
In 2016, he founded Azevedo Family Psychology to evolve his positive, life affirming approach to delivering coaching and psychotherapy. In all the years of helping marriage, he also saw the devastation of divorce when done harshly. He has recently developed skills in Discernment Counseling to help marriages on the brink of divorce engage in the crucial conversations necessary to decide with confidence to undergo time-limited, focused, and behaviorally based marital therapy or to divorce in the most supportive way possible such that the two families that emerge from the divorce can live in peace and dignity. He supports marriages and families in the workforce by delivering key note speeches, seminars, and coaching to corporations on emotionally literate leadership. Along with his colleague, Dr. Don Adams, he has developed a new intervention strategy for relationships entitled The Emotionally Literate Couple. He lives in Cary, North Carolina with his wife of thirty two years. He has two children.
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NJ: Hey! How are you?
DA: I'm doing well.
NJ: Sorry about that. Yeah, I had the zoom like in my app it open it pushed the button and started and then realized it wasn't anywhere else. So, all right, cool. Well, welcome to the show done. Thank you still getting used to calling it a show and it's really basically a phone call with a video attached to it. But yeah in the intro I'm giving sort of as much of a bio as I can but love to hear from you what you're up to what you're working on kind of the the dawn elevator pitch.
DA: I'm a clinical psychologist at executive coach voice-over artist and entrepreneur. So obviously I like to do a lot of different things. But primarily my expertise is in human relations how people interact with one another develop relationships and resolve conflict.
NJ: Perfect practice makes perfect. I guess is another way to look at that. All right, cool. Well, let's like Jump Right In one thing that is special about our relationship is sort of the top fact that we meet monthly and talk as a part of a business. Group. I've do that. I've gained an understanding of the value of peer groups. What are your thoughts around kind of peer groups as a tool for personal and professional development. They are invaluable in the reason they are valuable is because they are folks who will hold you accountable who care about you, but are not in a romantic or familial relationship with you. They also tend to be folks who have similar interests like our particular peer group are all business owners and Ed.
They share the same challenges perhaps at different levels, but the the same kinds of challenges and can offer perspective on managing different situations that perhaps you should not arrive at on your own or with loved ones who don't have the same experience. Nice. Yeah, and this is you know, the show is next matters most and it's a large white Briella future of business technology and Entrepreneurship and it's I wouldn't say it's taken a different turn set of given sort of the rise of new Norm, you know, I will see with the pandemic but it's definitely placed a bigger focus on you know, what are we doing now to kind of get ready for the future and you know mental is a big part of that and you know part of your practice I think encompasses that or you know, it's a part of any relationship. I guess. Maybe you're the expertise talk to me about mental health club.
DA: So emotional Wellness is an aspect of mental health when we think about mental health. We often think about resolving illness back to some normal activity. But when we talk about emotional Wellness we're really talking about how do you build resiliency? How do you build a sense of positivity and encouragement for living in the world and emotional Wellness is something that most folks need to practice more. It's like going to the gym for your promotions. So how do you engage in emotional Wellness? There are a couple of different things to look at one is emotional literacy. This is being able to describe wage.
Various emotions that you experienced many of us are very aware of fear and anger. We tend to run away from sadness and we don't stay with George and love long enough. Those are the five kind of basic color emotions that there are our society certainly supports anger and the expression of anger. And if you're a male dog particularly anger for men, we're not really allowed to be afraid. We lose man points and a bunch of other things that are kind of ridiculous constructs, but feel a part of being a human being as a matter of fact, it's a major part. It's one of the more active emotions in humans sadness is a way of reaching out and connecting to other people and wage course, it's Joy is an expression of celebration of whatever's happening around you and love is a connection to another person or animal or thing because it brought us a sense of peace and serenity hopefully so those are the basic emotions the intensity level needs to be understood and then blending needs to be understood. How does how do they go together to make all of the colors of the rainbow or all of the colors of your emotions? So that's emotional literacy. Then there's a another aspect of it off are the elements of emotional resiliency these come from positive psychology developed by Martin Seligman brilliant guy who took who did both learned helplessness understanding depression and learned hopefulness understanding emotional Wellness. So there are five elements that go into either emotional resilience positive emotionality.
From a positive emotionality. Oh engagement. There. It is relationships meaningfulness and accomplishment. So the acronym is Perma off of emotions engagement relationships meaningfulness and accomplishment. So how do you get to the positive emotion? This is a bad attitude of gratitude really being aware of the things that are around you that you really appreciate. I work out in the early mornings and I get to see the sunrise at least six out of seven days a week and the Sunrise it's often beautiful not always sometimes they're clouds, but it's really beautiful and I and the birds when they come back in the spring those are beautiful things sewn notice and in the winter when you see the stars because it's dark when we're doing this that's another kind of beauty and stopping to appreciate those things throughout your day is one of the wage.
Positive emotionality that's just one thing. So I'll put that their engagement. This has to do if you've ever read the book flow and I can't pronounce his name, but it's about how well you're engaged in whatever activity you're doing. Are you doing things that Fascinate You So that time disappears and you're really connected to what you're doing the more often you're able to do that the more emotionally resilient you become because you're getting fulfilled its kind about pretty obvious connection. Their own relationships are necessary for human beings. We are a community-based creature. We need to be in relationship with other people for some you only need a few jobs for others. You need a big tribe to hang out with whatever is right for you living solitarily is not a particularly common human wage.
There's no right to set of values. They're the ones that fit for you and then your work will hopefully reflects those values and you will engage in meaningful activity. The last one is accomplishment and in America in particular, we don't do this very well. We don't stop and really celebrate the things that we get done that that are positive, you know, if we've gotten it done we're kind of next instead of 6 rating the the done part. The only part we pay attention to is when we can't get it done and then we beat up on ourselves. Well, that's not particularly helpful. What is helpful is celebrating birthday.
What you are able to accomplish just for a moment and I'm not talking breaking out, you know $1,000 bottle of champagne. I'm talking just being able to sit back and say wow. I got that done a yes or crossing it off the list and letting yourself smile because it's accomplished.
NJ: All right, I so yeah, I guess I should apologize because I basically asked you like an underpinning of your maybe entire field and professions and sort of summed up in a nonchalant way like a what what is it about, you know psychology that's cool. Right? So I should have maybe made that a little more specific. But you know, I guess I'm trying to relate back to you know, the future of stuff of business technology entrepreneurship and this is a tool. This is definitely a a tool that folks should have in their tool kit which is understanding some of these things and understanding how to build resilience, you know, and other people I've talked to, you know, knowing your story and kind of knowing your own place and and why you're there or people to do disc or Enneagram to say like I just bought the more I know about myself the more I can you know, in change or impact for the positive the way I interact with others to lead to better outcomes, but I feel like mental health is like sort of always overlooked.
Until it's a problem. It feels like that's always a sick care sort of thing as opposed to saying. Hey, like everything you just said because we know each other and I was going to even say Martin Seligman like you get introduced us to the English selam and that was like very like momentous in my own sort of like life of like, wow, it's more than just like a mono classic go like one goal of like happiness or winning. It's just it's everything. It's all those things that that in permanent, but it also is like, you know for me I was thinking for my kids like how do you build resiliency? What a nice exercise to do each day just like you go to PE or go to clubs do extra reading and I'm like, what am I doing to build resiliency? And then if I'm trying to share something with other people and resiliency is one of these things also just the awareness of everything you just said in terms of knowing that it exists than knowing that hey this is here and you should know it. You should pursue it more and pursue more knowledge than here cuz it's better. You are inside the better you're going to be able to achieve and to realize fulfilling job.
In the future. I don't know. I mean just comment. I'll take that and go wherever you want with it. But like why is it why does mental health like sort of or why was it at least seen as sick care off like the lack of it information or wasn't and I was like, I don't I've never I just haven't seen like people being like I'm investing into my mental health. If anything it was just like that's an excuse for knocking off a few hours earlier in their vacation like mental health day. Haha. It wasn't like no be serious about this cuz it really can impact your well-being and overall like wellness in the future.
DA: Well, so mental health has had a stigma because unlike illness physical illness which often has you incapacitated and you fall down and people have to come and take care of you when mental illness hits. It's sometimes quite large and behavioral eBay stand scary. So think of a person a bike or individual who's in a manic state who's running around screaming and engaging in Rapid sets of behavior, and they're a little intimidating or someone having a hallucination. They look possessed. So and that is actually how mental health was seen you're possessed by Devils. We don't understand how this is going. We don't understand how the brain works. So we're going to lock you away in mental health institutions. We're pretty sadistic doctors engaged in very torturous dog.
Treatments like ice baths isolation straitjackets, uh electro shock therapy many things that at the time were horrific in some things like electric shock therapy is actually evolved in is still used today, but at much lower voltages and much more targeted in the brain because we understand a little bit more about how the brain works and how mental health it works at least neuro chemically, so it was scary and people don't like school. So they push it away they try to ignore it and our our our culture is filled with language that says our emotions are bad and we need to get rid of them put a lid on it put a cork in it.
All kinds of statements like that that you have heard a million times are all about stop being emotional. I've worked I've consulted in companies where they often don't bring your emotions to work. That's not possible. It is not possible. They are part of who you are and they will go with you everywhere you go. That's like saying when you come to work go to the bathroom before you come here cuz you're not going to get to go to the bathroom until you leave right? Well eight hours most people need to go at least once a month not going to be able to hold it. Same thing with your emotions things are going to happen there in the the workplace that are going to trigger emotions that need appropriate expression. So just like you would want someone peeing in the middle of the workspace. You also don't want someone emoting in the middle of the workspace uncontrolled.
To do that though, you need emotional literacy. You need to be able to identify what emotion you're having know how to soothe yourself and then how to express it to the other person in order to build the relationship with.
NJ: Interesting. I want to hear from you about like if this was if you had your dream state and we're talking about the way that you know, the world is a happier place, you know, because everything is everyone's thriving and and the tools and the knowledge that you have are the way we'll get there, you know, take us on that sort of thought pattern and as I don't know if that makes sense or if you need some like use but you know, if everyone did more emotional literacy training as companies thought about this in a different way, we would all have more basic, you know respect for each other or we'd all be more resilient able to handle things and then therefore less less less more and more and more and yeah, it's all you know Utopia. How do we how do we get there dead?
DA: Access to clean water and good food. They get to sleep eight hours a night uninterrupted solid.
They worked forty hours or less in any given week so that they have time to dedicate to their family and their community. They have work that is Meaningful to them. So it matches who they are and how they operate in the world. They have the capacity to take no less than four weeks of vacation. At least one week every three months or two weeks in a row somewhere in there. And when we spaced out at the fridge and our back end of that two-week vacation.
The workload that they have is actually manageable in a forty hour or less work week and companies hire more people to accomplish the task if the test starts pulling over instead of reducing headcount and I'm trying to get the most productivity out of each individual and therefore keep the most dollars. That companies stop measuring their success solely on the amount of money that they make.
They start looking at what's the impact they have on all of the communities in which their their company has a footprint. If we had those that not just the beginning. I mean, I I can describe lots more things. But those things would lead to more physical health and the opportunity to create more emotional home because people would have time for a physical exercise to cook fresh food instead of eating processed food to to have solid relationships cuz they could spend time with their spouse or wage children or with their family members.
Time is an important thing and we spend most of our time working and we spend our best years working thinking that 1-month done will get to connect to people. Well, that's not how it works. We need to connect to people all along. It's a both and not an either-or.
NJ: Is there a is there a thought is there a top-down version of that too? Like where the more impact the more productivity or you know, the the more company can measure themselves by these other non returned to shareholders or whatever means the better something I mean, how do how do we fill in that blank?
DA: About how to measure the impact on a community or if everybody well, I've got two two things and you know one thought is in terms of getting a Utopia, you know, the four people to be able to you know advocate for themselves. They must first know what they're after, you know, like if I contain my work to this many hours long I should want to spend time with people because that's what gives me emotional well-being not working and just like paying this and then I retire later like individuals might have a lack of awareness of what they're asking for what they're not asking for what they want what they shouldn't want and because they don't they're not they're not self-aware that to me is could sort of like bottom up and if now that if everyone now has this education on wage well-being
And what is you know emotional Wellness they and everybody asks for it simultaneously all companies all jobs to use that as one category or all educational experiences are all whatever will adapt because otherwise, there's no market for four people that won't always happen cuz not everyone will become universally educated and what it means to be doing well or you know as to be happy to be filled to have purpose just to know that hey if I get more impact in my community, I'm going to be more productive on the job. If I get these vacations, I'm going to get more drive more Roi out of my work at working hours. So sometimes it's like well how does you know look at all the stuff of governments like well governments and control. The politicians are well, actually no, it's Corporate America off.
Go down that rabbit-hole but like sometimes some shit is top-down, right? So like are there things that you know are advisable to companies to say hey, encourage this because and then if you do encourage that thing you will likely see these benefits, you know, it shouldn't meaning because our wait for this to be an an abundance mindset for companies. Like hey, if you do this better things will happen. I'm sure so a top-down model of this is well first off structure your work the way I described so that people have the time to sleep have the time to interact with their families page courage them to go out and be in their community and to bring back the activities that they do in their community so that now your people are more vibrant than just workers allowed to do that improve your vacation policy so that people have the time to go off and replenish themselves encourage continuing education.
So offer these in in the work space or where people could go off for a day or two and get this information and bring that to the workplace. Here are things that you can do and as a company will throw a hundred dollars toward that but you have to throw money to it as well because people who invest in themselves are going to get more out of something then if it's bought for them a big believer in the more that you invest yourself in something the more you actually pay attention and learn it. So I'm a big one for kids helping to pay for their college education for working to get you know their bike or that kind of thing making some money themselves in a way that is reasonable. Right? Not that they have to earn the total amount of the biod but something that is within their capacity to do because they're now invested in whatever that thing is or whatever that knowledge is so companies could do all of the above.
Things and here's going to be the hardest part you talk about top down. The number one thing that creates culture in an organization is the modeling of the c-suite. How does the C sweet treat the next level down? And how does that mix level down treat the next level down and that's a trickle-down effect. If I treat every individual I interact with with honor and respect just because you've had that from me you will be more inclined to do that download the line and I can tell you to do it you won't do it. But when I demonstrate it, you're much more likely to do it off.
NJ: When I model how to resolve a conflict or how to to have a difference of opinion with somebody and then come to a conclusion, so we didn't even get the conflict. We just had a different view of how to get things done. I'm modeling this this kind of respect and honor and Humanity in the workplace we could start there if I could get every c-suite to start doing those things. We would improve the emotional health of lots and lots of people. Yep, and I don't I mean wage yeah modeling the way is a big kind of leadership tactic and I was going to make the joke of can you still yell at people with all caps on slack or is that sort of like that off and I'm not going to make this like all like commercially driven but there's something here like, you know, what does a more vibrant organization look like? And how does that do better off?
DA: I mean one simple commercial commercialization of this idea is you'll just get the best people and they'll you'll get the most out of your best people. So the the getting the best work out of the best people has to have some sort of geometric or exponential multiplier on the outcome of your business. So that's in and of itself that alone probably is enough and we can like not talk about it ever again. But God what about people who need more like, you know, if this was the shade company turn your company in to design the workforce and workplace of the future built around these principles of gentle or an emotional Wellness or something because it is there more to it than what I just mentioned which are the kind of obvious high-level, you know Hunters. The only thing I would add to it you said is it's not just the best people so you'll turn folks who are moderate performers into much better performers who work collaboratively with others wage.
You'll start adding intelligence instead of subtracting or dividing it and maybe even multiplied that intelligence. That's really what you're looking for is a multiplication of the capacity that you have. So, yeah, you can try and get the top 1% of the intelligence or creativity or whatever you're measuring that employee birthday. And that's a very small pool and so you're fighting a lot for it. But if you take the next 10% down there they may not be the absolute best. But if they work together in great teams, they'll accomplish more and if you take the next fifty percent so that includes some people who are lower than the average but you help them to have better relationships with one another and bounce ideas off of them, be creative and Innovative and anticipatory of what's going on in the future. Those teams will be way more productive than any of individuals that are at the top of that pyramid.
NJ: Yeah, so is this is this one of the most like kind of overlooked like company opportunities in our I don't know took time or in our genre, you know meaning like I'm thinking like well, we'll focus on you know, there's a sick. Okay, someone invented Six Sigma. It's like okay performance and measurement, you know, there's other things around, you know communication from their stuff separately around, you know, HR and supporting and and you know Parenthood and there's things that are like around nibble around the edges of things that lead to emotional Wellness, but as anyone focusing on that and is this like an opportunity in the marketplace, it's a huge opportunity job market place and no I don't think very many if any people are focusing on this and if they are they're not getting the the headlines.
So that it's it's known by lots of other people and in part it's because when you create this kind of atmosphere, it becomes harder and harder to measure. What's the direct impact you can measure it and things like there's lower turnover.
DA: You can measure it in the sense that people are productive but not super productive. I'm part of our whole issue about measuring productivity is if I'm an employee and I'm twenty-eight years old and I'm measuring productivity. I will sacrifice my family and myself to work harder in order to get the next phrase or to get the whatever. The next thing is for me. That's counterintuitive. And I've seen this on internships from business school so I coach with some business schools and people have gone off on internships to in this particular case High Finance places in New York and literally worked for three days straight. No sleep not eating well using lots of caffeine. I hope it's only caffeine. I am ruining their physical health and emotional health because they think they have to outperform everybody in this one year of internship to get a job. That's not wrong.
What we want but it is what a lot of those financial institutions cultivate. They kind of like watching the kids work that hard.
NJ: Anyway, I mean, we've talked kind of a decent bit about you know ways to apply some of this to the world in a higher impact and what what are your thoughts you think is next kind of in terms of you and your entrepreneurial Spirit Endeavors and and knowing that you do see people and can make the 121 impact, but you have this ability to potentially impact the masses. How what do you thinking for yourself that you're going to prioritize over the kind of near me that middle and long-term home for myself. I'm going to be working for a little bit longer. I would love to have the opportunity to work with corporations who are interested in this idea of emotional wellness and emotional resiliency. And if I you know, if a c-suite would come to me and let me work with that whole c-suite and think about how they could organize their company.
DA: Promote emotional Wellness, that would be a lot of fun for me and I think incredibly productive for a company. Um, so that would be great. I also hope to do more of these um video and podcasts, uh events to spread the word about. How how do you stay healthy? How do you improve your life emotional resilience in the world? I do a podcast now called the relationship road trip that's focused on how do you keep the relationships in your life healthy and happy and growing and these are not just your spouse or your kids but also your work relationships and your extended family members and the people in your community, too.
NJ: And so you have Mastery of this tool and so in that lens when you work with somebody as a coach, I mean what, you know talk me talk to me about that. Like how are you setting them up to say? Hey, I'm you know, I'm taking up like a functional doctor might have one thing like I'm going to look at your chemistry and I'm going to look at these things and and holistically we're going to get you like at most performance in terms of chemically, right or Diet exercise wage optimal things lowering health risks coming from your angle when you're working with somebody and taking a holistic approach how walk me through that sort of thought process and how you set them up for like a month. Here's where we want to go. And here's how we're going to get there. And here's our and this is these are the parts of that holistic approach that will take.
DA: So what I'm coaching somebody the key thing is is what are the what's the goal they want to achieve? I'm not the one in determining that goal. They are so if they establish here are the goals that I want I want to do this and this and this that I'm going to assess. Well. Where are you right now today Visa Vie the outcome that you want and they'll describe that back to me and I'll see if you actually hit this outcome. How would the behaviors you just described today look in the future.
And then we'll create a path of practice to go from where you are to where you want to be and I'll bring to the table skills that you can learn. It's a little like Physical Therapy wage if you will or even physical training if you go to a physical training coach and you say I want to have better upper body strength first thing they're going to do is measure. Well, how much can you curl and other things but how much can you curl they'll figure that out and say all right. Here's a regimen for you to improve your your biceps and hopefully your triceps or else your arms get really funky same thing with this. So you describe your current state and your future State and I give you exercises that you then Implement and I coach you along to get to that spot if you have trouble setting those goals. I'll listen to your story and pull from it the things I think you might want to do offer them to you and let you think about to those work for you. Cuz sometimes people came to me and they don't know really what the outcome is, but they don't like where they are.
And so fully describing that telling me the story often gives me clues to where they really want to go. Are you ever tempted to just answer that with one of these like dead obvious things that hey, I want a bigger upper body and you're like, well, what about, you know, cuz why do you want that because of this? Why do you want that because this why do you want that because well, are you really how emotionally well are you are you focusing on ultimately fulfillment and happiness or whatever, you know, and how are you ever tempted to just sort of like break it all down back to even that business school, right? Like I want to do this for my leadership. Why cuz I want more time like why what are the actions you're going to take its these? Well, couldn't you get some of that that fulfillment and that that happiness that well-being today as you get there. Does that start a creep into the your practice absolutely and it depends on the individual and what they're asking for and what's going on. But yeah, I'll bring in other things for them to consider like for instance.
Someone comes in to a physical trainer says I want a stronger upper body to do what right? How would that help you? What would it do for you? If you have that right now in what time would you experience the world? I'd be able to do rock climbing which I can't do now. That's right, huh as a practitioner. You probably can't make these statements wage. But you know, if you had to sit like if you had to just say some big, you know to eatables or headlines like, you know, better emotional Wellness leads to X, you know, what are things that are really young people's attention into this as a subject.
Greater emotional resiliency leads to Stronger relationships leads to better outcomes more Innovation and greater creativity.
NJ: Sorry. I put you on the spot again. So to me, here's the thing like for me everything that I pick up from you is new sometimes for the first time. It just becomes so obvious and flourish the book by dr. Sullivan was a huge sort of thing that allowed me to articulate some of those things and I feel like we're having this convo and it's like yeah. Yeah. Yeah, but it as it relates to the world, you know new entrepreneurs existing entrepreneurs people that are trying to innovate wage necessarily talking about the future of Health tag or delivery of care models or you know, new science breakthroughs like this, and I'm I'm sure because of your like expertise. You've got thoughts on some of those you can you know just comment on if you want but like to me it's like this is more like a untapped potential of like the of humankind. If you don't realize your own if you off shore up yourself, you're not going to be able to get to any place in the best way possible and why don't people I mean wise is like more obvious and and more resources more everyone being like a power of positive psychology o pirma like why is it everyone just like geeking out about this? Why aren't there like little permit trackers on your wrist? You know, what what's keeping us from being as mainstream as it probably should be.
DA: You know, that's a really good question and it's likely just because no entrepreneur has figured out how to capitalize on getting this word out and doing this kind of education. What are the entrepreneurial opportunities and it's not always like software Tech right and it could be coaching. It could be working with people and track it could be building a system that has some sort of, you know measurement in place so that people have a quantifiable peace as well as the qualitative. Peace. I mean, have you explain what the opportunities might be in that the opportunity could be software. It could be software that prompts you to be grateful prompts you to say thank you to people prompts you to recognize in more detail. What someone has done that's made your job or your life easier. It could be sauce.
Where that prompts you to hey, you know, you haven't talked to your friend this and a month. Maybe you ought to give them a call. It might be software and it says hey looking at your sleep, you've had less than six hours of sleep for 5 days in a row. How could you organize yourself to get a better night's sleep for the next couple nights at least something that would help us set goals and track them with us so that we stop and really think about how are we taking care of or emotional health? Yep. Now, I love that and I think you know, I was just thinking about for myself.
I'm not good at this at all. I'm not you know, I know all these tools like I remember them I'll get these little like, oh, yeah that was in the little anecdote, but you can't just read the same book over and over and over and I you know, there's even dashboard sort of overload like, oh man another freaking dashboard and even dashboard a product decide. Like how would one keep themselves? How should anybody or how could anybody keep themselves accountable? What should they be checking in on? What should they be sort of reflecting back or their systems calendar reminder of life is you know in Parma is a lot, you know, each one of those categories is a I mean the title of that then is a funnel that opens up too many pieces in each one.
You can't look at that every single day. Like did I do my P my email, you know relationships? What about this accomplishments? Like these are things that happen over time. But if you lose track you kind of lose maybe the adherence to say, you know, fulfilling all of those buckets and all those pieces of the pie. How should how could people stay on track with this?
It's like creating the habits that you need. So if you think about driving a car, it's an amalgamation of many many subroutines off that when you're first learning you have to pay real close attention to like how much am I turning the wheel? And what effect is that having on a car? Am I seeing what's in front of me? And what's behind me how much pressure am I putting on the gas pedal? Where's the brake are my lights on my windshield wipers on how much windshield wiper you know, lots of different small things off that end up becoming habit and subroutines so that you can drive and not actually pay attention to what you're doing any more you can hold complex conversations or sometimes it happens for me. I'm thinking about something really hard and I will drive someplace automatically and not actually remember the route that I had taken which is a little scary, but that does happen. I have to admit um, and I usually I've gotten there safely every time this actually happened yesterday. I was supposed to be going to one place but it was part of the route to going to my office and I realized as I was three-quarters of the way to my office and I wasn't intended to go to my office and had to turn around and come back but I was driving on automatic because I was thinking about a bunch of other things after you've already sitting at the office, you know, waiting for your next meeting to show up for you realize and then two days past know I didn't get quite that lost. Okay, so if you picked one or two things and then work them until they were a habit like brushing your teeth.
What would those one or two things be it might be the attitude of gratitude practicing gratitude with the people around you and with the the experiences that you have thought it might be taking the time to breathe and check in with your body. What am I feeling? What are my emotions? What are my thoughts doing that two or three times a day? Right? We have other habits. We eat two or three times a day some people four or five times a day. We most people brush their teeth in the morning in the evening some people after every meal. Those are habits.
Build the Habit how old that happen over a long period of time and when something becomes a habit then you get to add another thing and then you get to add another thing. So if you start with your very young children teaching them about gratitude in a way to do that is around the dinner table at night go around and say hey, what are what are three things that you really liked about today?
It will become habit for them. You know, which friends did you talk to who today? Well now we've got related most positive emotionality and relationships coming out right there at the table.
NJ: I mean like many entrepreneurs I had what I thought was a great idea didn't really go anywhere but it was with my I think oldest son is nine wanting to like start a company doing the ww.w. Looks like what went well sounds like let's make a notebook line called ww.w sort of like weird interaction with the internet, but it's really a notebook and then kids would write it down. It's like so we're just going to sell notebooks. I'm like, yeah, but it's going to be w w w it's going to be like right three things that went. Well cuz you're building resiliency and I'm like near by practicing gratitude. So there could be you know, there's some like I'll do my best to like you this up in the intro because I think about you know, there's a lot of awareness that I have around this subject that I think is just under recognized and underappreciated sort of in the marketplace meaning there's not, I mean, how are there that many like digital whole self coaches, you know, like there's always there's digital assistants digital physical trainers digital medicine, but this could be something where you need technology and a human to help keep you on track and ask you these things and it's like it's a lifelong practice. It's not a take this pill. It's not a cut out the fatty, you know, whatever things cut out carbs, you know, it's sort of like it's a lot of stuff and it's a practice and routines but why I mean I asked you this maybe there's just no answer right now, but why why is this so awful quiet? There's so many so much more like messaging and and like products geared at this and and Industries or services or like, you know resellers, you know, like it's still, you know, whole self off coaching system. Like why doesn't that isn't that really popped off?
DA: I just I really think that no one has seen the market potential for it, and it's hard. So it's hard to do there are some things out there. So there are mindfulness apps that help you meditate and bring more mindful of your experience in the world more in the present. A lot of our culture pushes us either to be in the past or the future and both of those places are our experiences of mental disease actually. So if you're too far in the past you you tend to be depressed because you're looking at all your failures failures and all the things you wish you could have done different, So looking into the past leads to depression. If you look into the future you tend to catastrophize and think about the bad things that could happen and actually bring them in and experience them as if they're happy.
Right now that's anxiety. So our culture doesn't actually have us live in this moment and pay attention to the people that were actually with in whatever moment. We are no matter who they are off from the person serving your table at a restaurant to your closest friend or your spouse. We don't emphasize that as important month. And so this is not an area that has become marketable. Our emotional health has not been important.
NJ: Yeah, I think that's maybe hopefully well I was going to say maybe more profound than we even kind of know what I think as we sort of let this conversation unfold and then follow on, you know, there's something about I mean people love headlines, you know, so like this is how you know, this is the new wave of Health, right? So like as all this other health stuff gets so much better and smarter and there are devices and as remote monitoring and there's digital digitalization and transformation. You know, now there's maybe a room that's kind of this other wave of Health to take hold and I mean, how can it not be anyways just because I'm on that mean this is your like you live this every day. So maybe I'm sorry if I'm kind of just like home stating maybe what you think all the time, but to me, I'm like this is just so obvious and even you know to put my business owner had on my entrepreneur had I need more practice in those.
So I needed to lie need like a constant reminder. You know, I would pay for something that's a service or a tool or coaching or digital coach or whatever because and you because you don't even know you know how long it's going to takes years to build your practice and then realize the outcomes but the outcomes that we sort of Hint it to aren't just singular. It's not like and then sales went up 25% off cuz that's actually missing the whole point. The point is I thought I wanted sales cuz I wanted this other thing because really I'm searching for like my own fulfillment in my own well-being. So what if I can get well-being with success and accomplishment as a subset of that or as a bit large component, but I still want all those other components cuz that without the other, you know, just accomplishments about you know, healthy relationships and healthy like, you know emotional, you know, attachments and healthy, whatever isn't enough. It's sort of like, it's lonely right? So, I don't know I think in in strengthening one's home.
Personal Wellness just has so much like potential to unlock for individuals as entrepreneurs as businesses to impart that on others and help encourage it, you know, I wonder if I'm home. Anyway, we're in the midst of covid-19. See these aren't live but this is mr. Covid-19. We're you know, there's kind of civil unrest I guess around many things going back hundreds of years with like race relations and whatnot triggered by some of the events and it's like man, if only some of these things were already, you know common practice with you know, emotional Wellness would how would we be able to relate with each other? How would we be as you know, how do we be able to we would have that resilience more so to be able to adjust and adapt, I mean in terms of trends that you're seeing what our trim package whether it's outside of your sphere in terms of your practice, but you're seeing stuff. You see kind of emotional well-being as an opportunity that could be applied to some of the things or their Trends in your own perhaps you can log as much but you know that you're seeing kind of on macro levels that you think are are worth, you know mentioning.
DA: Well, if if you remember I talked about one of the top down things is modeling. We have no leadership in this country that is modeling emotional health. None, none not in any part of our government. Is there anyone or any set of people who are modeling emotionally healthy ways of dealing with challenges in the world. What we model is combat. What we model is scarcity. What we model is how do I get mine back regardless of the effect on you?
So think about that when you read the headlines next about what our leadership is saying and doing it really is about scarcity. It really is about I need to get mine and I don't care whether or not you get off.
Well, if the modeling is like that we're fighting a huge uphill battle to say to folks who are already struggling with if my financially secure we have the highest level of unemployment in the longest time. One of the things that provide security to a person is to have meaningful work that pays you a meaningful wage wage and there's no reason why we can't have meaningful work that pays a meaningful rate wage and still make a profit for the people who are owners in in that company.
But to do that our leaders have to have courage and they have to demonstrate emotional health and positive emotionality and the capacity to resolve problems in relationships instead of going and grabbing their laws and saying because I have the power to do this bam. There it is.
NJ: How are you living this yourself? And it doesn't have to be like for today, but over the years as you've honed the skill and now you are aware of that. I've hope I mean obviously hopefully you don't just lay it all out in the field and then completely ignore it when you go home. It's you know ingrained in your your DNA hoping my the picture in my mind, but what are some easy things off, you know similar experiences that you can share obviously of where you've you know, made small adjustments to improve your kind of emotional Wellness.
DA: Well in all the companies I've ever run one of the practices that every whatever our weekly meeting is where the entire team comes together and says I've run small businesses. So I don't thousands of people I have tens of people but when we come together to set agendas and and move forward as a company that we always start with appreciations off and the intent here is is that each person needs to find something that someone else has done that's made their life easier and to report it Behavior Ali this is the behavior you're the person engaging in and this is the effect it had on me or on the company or on our clients and I got people you know, this is every week at least one day a week. They're paying attention to this.
I practiced myself going around to all of my employees periodically and noting what they've done. Well that's moved the company forward ideas that they brought to the table the way that they've executed wage attention to detail any of those things and I hand it to them with behavioral specificity. Not only in what they did but on the effect that it had on the company.
1and then as appropriate I even reward that with time off for with money depending on what the person wants or sometimes Awards cuz some people like having a certificate or a an award it's just on with the person likes as a reinforcer Ur, but those are things that I've done with every company because what I want is an environment where people invite people to engage with them to solve problems and to to innovate
NJ: What about personally? Have you done anything to kind of I remember like one story you mention of like wearing a clown outfit or something on the way home. What is there something that one or I mean, I don't know. It's going to be a cliffhanger if you don't subscribe that but that or something like that where you like kind of had a moment of realization in Awareness that you then make you took action and hence, you know improved results.
DA: So when I was younger and my children were younger I was doing primarily clinical practice and sometimes that can get heavy the stories that I hear wage throughout the day can weigh heavily on your heart and I don't want to bring that home. So I have a commute usually it's about 20 minutes.
Where I have the opportunity to gather myself to shift from being clinical psychologist business owner to Father husband done. Sometimes that was really hard. So I needed something that would knock me up out of myself. So I had a clown nose that I kept in the glove compartment off and if the beginning of the commute I would put the clown nose on and then drive it along slowly stopping it as many stoplights as I could looking around at people as if there was nothing on my face off and children would laugh and point and get their parents to look parents would drive away quickly. Any response made me smile any response took me out of that whole day of hearing difficult stories and into this playful more open connected to a a wider world and log
For my children when I got home, that's powerful. Yeah, I love that one. And you know I've set that's very relevant for me with the young kids and wanting to be able to shift shift gears are being aware that like, hey Stewie's Chuy's used to carry this right on in without you know, creating that separation. Um for I want to kind of keep it somewhat on time. But if you have a short way of saying this guy down this a whole other can of worms, but you know putting yourself first name is a trend and yeah, just yeah, you've got your business your employees your ideas your spouse your kids your friends, you know, why that sent you that you just named a lot of interested parties and you didn't talk about yourself putting yourself first can seem selfish like well, you know, I'm at do my own needs first, like we're that all these people that meets
What sort of the mindset that you would share with people on why you put yourself first or any kind of thoughts around around making sure that you're taking care of in order to help care for em tend to others.
Well in every relationship you will ever have in your entire life. You are always present. If you don't take care of yourself, you're not really capable of being in relationship or caring for other people or at least not for very long. If you don't take care of yourself, you'll Fade Out this is just like when you get on an airplane, if anyone could ever get on an airplane again, the stewardess or the flight attendant. That's the correct term. I'm an old man. Give me a break down and says if you're traveling with children and we experience decompression put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then take care of your children, but what they don't explain is if a you don't do that, right, if you don't take care of yourself first and you go to do this for your kid and your kid struggles in any way you become a Noxxic and when that happens your dexterity goes to zero your cognitive functioning diminishes over time and you will stay conscious long enough to watch your child pass out before you pass out. Right and hopefully you'll survive because they'll get low enough then you can breathe again, but you might not so if you take care of yourself first, you've got the oxygen you have plenty of time your kids struggles. You can still get that oxygen mask on them. So that metaphor is around if I take care of myself, then I'm in a better place to take care of the relationships I have with everyone else.
NJ: it's another I'm saving all these amazing little gold nuggets to the end. I guess last thing and then we'll break and I'll I definitely like in a very appreciative and grateful for you to spend time here going through things that you already know that you actually already talked about in forums that I've been in so it's kind of repeating things that are maybe you know second nature to you. But to me, I'm like I feel like there's there's more awareness around this more opportunity to unlock for individuals to be their best selves and you know, therefore, you know, companies etc, etc and population. Well being, you know with health, it's funny cuz it's like oh population Health improved population Health, like well, what if everyone's miserable, you know, like if you did you really helped or did you just make a bunch of healthy miserable people in the world still sucks. So this is a huge kind of category that I think as we have more conversations and as others have more conversations, I think more wage.
Fidelity what kind of come there, you know, like it'll get more into focus and this is what's needed and why and how we get actionable cuz if it's not super actionable people might suspect that was a cool combo put yourself first, you know next is like damn and we talked for an hour for that person get that 30-second kid, but I think there's way more there to unpack are there resources if it's a somebody who's like, either like re listen to this read the huge book of flourish by Martin Seligman or like go to a website or like is it a is it Googling emotional wellness and resiliency life where what our resources people should use if they're like, I'm interested in this. I mean the book is a good resource and looking at booking up, or I don't know. Where would you send people as a kind of a back order?
DA: Looking up emotional resilience will get you plenty of websites seligman's website authentic happiness, Um is another great website. There's actually a society for a positive psychology. I think it's the International Association of positives technologists iapp. I think is what it is. I may have that wrong folks, you know, but you can look it up. It's an International Association and it's about positive psychology. So I will find it somehow.
All those who got great websites. If I had to give you a smaller book that would give you a better perspective about how the way that you tell the story about your life to yourself makes a huge difference. It would be Victor. Frankl's Man's Search for meaning. And what that book is essentially says is the story We Tell ourselves about the experiences. We're having. Create the impact. More than the event itself.
NJ: Cool, I'll definitely read that and I had I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that this morning like with my nine-year-old for some reason we kind of got into the story wage. Like why make your bed if you're just going to mess it up tonight, and I'm kind of like well why make your bed if you're eventually going to like live on a planet where the sun goes out and we're all wiped out anyway, you know, so it's like come on. I like it. Here we go. So it's like cuz there's a purpose there's meeting there's there's more to it than just like we exist and we're blips and then we're nothing so that mean I heard you say Man's Search for meaning and maybe goes on that little bit of a search this morning over crying in my coffee or I was just sort of like stop fighting every chore. I'm not sure. Okay. Well on that note, you know, God let's wrap up and thank you for joining. Do you have any of your own links or cites or references and you'd like to point people to you know, also post those.
DA: Okay. So I do a podcast a weekly podcast called the relationship road trip. You can find it wherever you get podcasts or at agerelationshiproadtrip.com. My website is if you know Family Psychology has lots more information and other resources that you can find there and a Blog that I post a variety of topics about mental health and psychology.