An Interview with Gillian Mandich

Gillian is a Holistic Health Promoter and her personal mission is to educate people about evidence-based health information so they can lead a happy, healthy life. Today we will be talking about happiness, why so many people yearn for it and how people can achieve it.

 

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Hi Y’all, welcome to the All Inclusive Lifestyle show.

Mandy and I will be interviewing a special guest named Gillian Mandich.

Gillian is a Holistic Health Promoter and her personal mission is to educate people about evidence-based health information so they can lead a happy, healthy life. She is a teacher and the world is her classroom as she teaches health and wellness on a variety of platforms (university classrooms, TV, radio, podcasts, magazines, online, video, documentaries, etc.).

Gillian laugh’s hard, plays hard, works hard, and is always looking for life’s treasures in what might be someone else’s trash. She has a gravity about her that naturally attracts people, especially those that are positively polarized or have a high degree of optimism and gratitude.

Today we will be talking about happiness, why so many people yearn for it and how people can achieve it.

To learn more about Gillian visit her website http://www.gillianmandich.com/

Inspire to aspire,

KJ Simpson

Author & Life Coach

Get a FREE copy of my new book the All Inclusive Diet HERE

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Full Transcript

Hey K.J. Simpson here and welcome to the all inclusive lifestyle show very special show today because I have a cohost for the first time Mandy’s with me say hi Mandy to the all inclusive alumni. Hi everyone. And I also have a really special guest an extraordinarily happy guest. Her name is Gillian Mandich. And I call her the happy Doc and she is a holistic health promoter and her personal mission is to educate people about evidence based health information so they can lead a happy healthy life. A quote from her. She says she is a teacher and the world is her classroom. So she teaches in health and wellness in a variety of different platforms university classrooms TV radio podcast magazines online video documentaries etc. and she laughs hard she plays hard she works hard and she’s always looking for life’s treasures in what might be someone else’s trash. So I’ve known Julia now for a few years and I immediately found her interesting. She’s got that kind of personality that you just want to approach and talk to. She has this gravity about her that naturally attracts people especially those that are positively polarized or have a certain degree of optimism and gratitude like I do. And also Mandy does too. So you know all these things is how you feel when you’re around Jillian but what you see first big beautiful and authentic smile of hers. And I bet you’re smiling right now right Jillian. I am. Welcome to the all inclusive lifestyles show. Say hi to our guest. So there we’re going to have an amazing show.

 

We’re going be talking a lot about happiness and exactly what you’re up to in the world of education and health promotion and you know really changing people’s state state of consciousness. So I want to dive in deep about that but before I do that I want people to get to know you as a person. And I think the best question I can ask you is what is the most challenging life experience you’ve ever had to overcome.

 

How do I know start now. Oh yeah. Oh ok I’m so happy to be here. OK. So probably one of the most. Challenging life situations that I’ve gone through has actually been figuring out what I want to research and study. And so as you as you mentioned before I research happiness. So I in the Faculty of Health Science and I’m from Western University which is in London Ontario Canada. However my research background is actually childhood obesity. And so my master’s degree I was in child and youth health and I’m really passionate about studying and learning to help kids because I believe that children are future. And so I was looking at physical activity and sedentary behaviours and lifestyle nutrition specifically for childhood obesity that was my area of research. Then as I went into my Ph.D. We have to do what are called comprehensive exams which is essentially three months of stress and it’s been that way with the birth three months of my life because basically you’re given a topic and you have to read all the research on the topic and then you sit in a room with a bunch of really smart people and they ask you really hard questions for three hours and you pass or you fail. So while I was I was doing my research in preparation for my comprehensive exam slots in the second year of a Ph.D. in a Ph.D. as a four year program. So about halfway through.

 

I was looking at charAt focused interventions to address childhood obesity because basically when you look at obesity especially with children you really need to involve the whole family if you want to have a successful program. And I was looking at the results from these programs and they weren’t that stellar especially if you looked back at like a 6 or 12 months after the study was done a lot of the kids reverted back to baseline so they basically were where they started. And I found that really discouraging. And I was finding it really hard to keep studying something where my Ph.D. project would essentially be like a smaller version of some of these big studies that I’d read and even those results were that good when I started. I love words. I think you know words are self talk how we talk to others how we talk my mum’s so important. And I started catching myself in conversations I started noticing I would say I’m getting through my Ph.D. this is a means to an end. I’ve come this far I have to finish. I should really just get it done things like that and then I thought wait a minute why am I. Why am I saying these things I’m investing a lot of time and money and energy and resources. Why am I not doing something that I’m really passionate about. I felt like I was just dragging you know throughout the day just kind of going through the motions and so I ended up having to do something that was really difficult.

 

I had switched supervisors I switched subject areas I had to build a whole new research committee and at Western where I was nobody was studying happiness and so I basically had to reach out to people at Berkeley and build my own research program there to really study something that I was passionate about and it was super scary especially as a student when you have to do all these things and talk to your supervisors and people at your school administration to do all these changes it’s really not easy and I’m so happy that I did because I get to study happiness and you know now when I go to school when I when I research things I’m so excited about it and it really energizes me and it makes me excited and motivated and curious and so you know really having to get honest with myself about what it is that I want and what it is that I don’t want and then taking the action required to get to that place was really challenging for me and now that I’ve done it it’s like you know once you’ve done something anything is possible. So I’m so grateful for that experience also because. Now I know that I can keep doing that and practice it and really fine tune and really I’m very clear on what I want to do and I don’t want to compromise on that.

 

You know we were talking pre show just about how much courage has to do with your potential level of happiness and that story just you know reaffirm that the fact that you know your challenging life experience was to have the courage to make all the massive moves in your program that you had to do and obviously that translated into happiness so you know I don’t know what comes first the chicken or the egg but you know perhaps you know courage is a big component of happiness in fact man he’s got a question about happiness.

 

I would you define happiness.

 

Good question Andy. This is actually a really cool thing to think about because without me giving a definition and I’m a researcher right. So I have to know what I’m studying. So we call them operational definitions and essentially you have to define all the terms that you’re going to study. So I do have a definition and I’ll get to that in a second. However at first. I know that both of you guys or any of you that are listening to this right now when I say happiness we all have an idea of what that means. It might be a slightly different definition for different people and one of the things that I love so much about happiness is it really is this common ground that transcends language it really connects us all because we all have this understanding of the feeling of happiness even if we can’t put it into words. So I just really love that and love that it’s universal no matter where you go in the world people experience the feeling of happiness. So in terms of my research how we define it. I use a definition that is actually from California from some research has researchers out there and essentially they look at happiness as having two components. So the first part is how you feel on a day to day basis because as you know throughout the day our happiness fluctuate. It’s not just we wake up and we’re happier we’re not. And then that’s what happens through our day.

 

There is that transition element where something good happens and we feel a little bit happier and then we get stuck in traffic and maybe not so much. And so there’s there’s that piece of the fluctuation of emotion throughout the day. The other piece is kind of this baseliner through line through. So as you guys know you’ll meet people and some people are naturally happier than other people. And so we all kind of have this sort of baseline set points of what our happiness is so we take that into account and then the fluctuations day to day and that together gives us the total sort of picture of what of what happiness is.

 

And of course you need to go to California to figure all of this out because the only Wanya maybe it’s the sunshine. We’re not really sure but they seem to be pretty happy out there and of course they’ve legalized certain herbes. So perhaps that has something to do with that as well.

 

Yeah. Now there’s a definite correlation there.

 

When I was out there there is people in green jumpsuits on Venice Beach and hustling need to go into their little clinics. But besides all that it sounds like you take a real scientific approach to happiness in the fact that can it be measured.

 

Yes yes absolutely. And. There’s you know it’s really hard because it’s the same as if I asked you to measure love like measuring feelings is a really tricky thing to do because I I find that sometimes language falls short. Right. We’re very limited by the words that we have to express our feelings. That being said a lot of researchers have come up with tool that questionnaires for example and we’ll ask a whole bunch of different questions and then based on the responses you score it and you end up with like an overall score so for example I just finished a study of Western at the University that was out with undergraduate students that I actually gave them four different tools to assess happiness. The one that called like the authentic happiness questionnaire or the Oxford happiness index things like that. So what happens is as a researcher someone will develop this tool and then they’ll test it with different populations and different age groups things like that. And once they find that it’s a valid and reliable tool so they’re getting the same results and the results are what they are looking to do it becomes a commonly accepted tool and then other researchers or myself for example will use those tools and that’s how we assess it.

 

Interesting.

 

I know that you have. I think you finished your dissertation have you not. I and like moments away. You know are you able to talk about the research study that I guess you’re concluding now.

 

Absolutely. I would love.

 

Yeah I’d love to know more about it. So yeah. What are the details with this research study.

 

So what I did for my project was so basically when you’re doing a Ph.D. You have to conduct your own research project. So what I did was I actually use videos that were created by colleagues of mine out at Berkeley in California. And then they were about 20 to 30 minute videos. And there was four of them. And so what happened is I enrolled undergraduate students from Westar and every week for four weeks they had to log on and watch one of the videos. So that was the entire intervention was for videos. And what’s really cool is that before the study started and after the study finished I gave them a whole bunch of questionnaires so the ones I was telling you about before the happiness questionnaires and then I also asked things like study habits drug alcohol tobacco use sleep patterns how much time is spending volunteering or doing nice things for other people. How much fun they’re having how their time management is a whole bunch of different questions and a lot of them health related and what super cool is that looking at the results from before they entered the study to after. I I saw a ton of different changes in health behaviors. Without even talking about health and an intervention. And what I what I love about that is that. Oftentimes when we think about healthy things those are sorry happy things. There are things that generally make us happier.

 

And so in terms of health for example if I was to say to one of you listening you know you really need to eat five servings of vegetables every day because it’s good for you and it’s going to improve your health and your energy and you might say OK Julian I understand your research that and you probably know so maybe I like I’m doing air quotes should eat five vegetables for example. However if I said to the same person. What foods make you feel really good. What when you eat it. Do you feel energized. Do you feel really vibrant you don’t feel sluggish or clammy cloudy you know brain fog oftentimes the people that are foods that are healthy anyway because those foods make us feel good. If the person. Was doing it because I told them to as opposed to they chose it because of how it makes them feel if I was to follow up with that same person you know a few weeks or a month later chances are the person that picked it because of how they felt might be more likely to be doing that still as opposed to someone that was told to do it because it’s good for their health. So what I love is that in terms of health promotion you know we all want to live the best life ever as healthy as we can as vibrant as we can. And so when we look at like the low hanging fruit what we can study and focus on to have the biggest bang for your buck in terms of overall health improvement happiness really is that essentially like every good thing in your life is better Raemer happier. And it also acts like a buffer to help mitigate some of the more stressful or you know anxiety causing moment happiness can actually act like a buffer.

 

So it doesn’t have physiologically even as profound an effect on your body.

 

Let’s talk about that. You know physiology and I guess our emotionality in how to work together I guess you know that’s that cliché mind body spirit. You’ve gotten an extensive background in exercise health promotion fitness.

 

You know you’re a workout queen. I’d really like to know what you’re up to in that regard. And also you know is there any research that shows that the level of happiness increases Lee when people are exercising regularly.

 

Yes absolutely. I love that you’re asking this question because what’s really cool about exercise particularly is that there’s kind of you it almost like a double happiness boost because when you exercise your body releases endorphins or the feel good hormones that you know that runner’s high that you experience are when you get that euphoric feeling after a workout. So when your body releases endorphins you feel good you feel happy. So you get that physiological boost at the same time when you start exercising you start feeling more confident right in your body you start to be stand a little bit taller or you like the way you look a little bit more maybe because you’re really connecting with your moving your body and you’re honoring your body. You start to feel good in your body not confident. That is up were happier as well. So it’s kind of like the same time you get a boost from both angles. Yeah all the really cool. Going. There were researchers that did scans of a bunch of different participants brains and what they found was that the same areas of the brain some of them that are activated when you exercise are the same areas of the brain that have activity when you’re happy. So. Your brain is getting that activity either way so it doesn’t know if it’s moving it the activity is there because you’re exercising or because you’re feeling happy. So if you’re not feeling happy and you stimulate that part of the brain that part of the happy part of your brain is also getting me which is.

 

Really just amazing and I’ve heard other research studies too where you know they can get people to have their brains light up the same as maybe someone would if they were to take cocaine for example you know doing other types of activities or even you know have them imagine that they’re there you know and eating an apple.

 

And the same part of the brain that would light up if they were actually eating the apple has the same effect. And I thought that was just like just out of this world to be honest with you that the brain actually can be almost trained right that a lot of times I think you know we think that we’re we’re separated you know from controlling our emotions and controlling our thoughts and these kinds of things. But you know research is showing that we do have a lot more control than we really think.

 

We absolutely do. Can I join here. Fun fact. Yeah. So there was a really big research study done that looked at our total capacity for happiness and what they found was that about 50 percent of our happiness is genetically determined. So what that means is that our parents basically decided about 50 percent of her happiness for us. So some people were naturally born happier than others. And that only accounts for about half of our total happiness. Ali and I have finished. This is as people find shocking. Only about 10 percent of our happiness is determined by our environment and our life circumstances. So that’s. Where we work where we live what we do our friends our relationships only affects about 10 percent of our happiness. And this number often I know somebody’s listening you’re probably thinking like what’s you know my kids are misbehaving or you know my husband drives me crazy or whatever it is. What happens. There’s this psychological concept called Dornoch adaptation. And what that concept tells us is that basically when you live the same thing every single day. So in this case for example your life. We all show up your life every single day. We kind of get used to it so we kind of we adapt to it. It’s almost like if you grow up next to a train track after a while you don’t even hear the train going by anymore. You just get used to it. So what’s really cool about the study is that that remaining 40 percent. That’s the piece that’s fully within our control.

 

So that’s the piece that no matter what you were born with no matter where you live no matter where you work any of those things that piece of our happiness is fully within our own control. And so just like you go into the gym to work your muscles to get stronger and learn skills that are highly correlated with happiness that help to build your happiness muscle kind of idea. So really all of us have this personal power and the personal responsibility to really focus on and build that piece of our happiness for ourselves.

 

Well it is really cool and Mandis just poking me here and writing something that depression depression.

 

Yeah. So this is interesting because you’re saying that 50 percent is genetic.

 

So what is your thoughts and sort of you can give us some examples or research on people that suffered depression and on you know the medications that are being prescribed these days and you know it sounds like it 50 percent is genetic then there might be a strong case for you know people having a genetic depression and there’s no way out because you know it’s in the genes. It’s it’s the messaging that you know is already sort of encrypted in. So you know is Zurer away is that 40 percent flexing your muscle you’re talking about something that you know can compensate for for half of of know potential happiness.

 

Yeah this is a really great question and I think it’s a really important conversation to have to especially around happiness because yes there is definitely a biological component to our happiness. If our body is not producing their Ritalin or dopamine no matter how many affirmations we do no matter how much gratitude we write or gratitude journal every day. If the physical structures aren’t there we definitely need to explore different opportunities with medical healthcare professionals to figure out what’s going on. So that is definitely effect. And on the other side in terms of genetics first of all what our parents give us isn’t necessarily what’s expressed in rates of gene expression varies from person to person. So it’s very possible to say your mom suffers from from depression. You may have the genes for it and they might not be expressed. Also one of the thing especially with childhood obesity that was really interesting because in that particular one not a lot of childhood obesity cases are actually fully genetically determined. A lot of it is more on the lifestyle side and what happens is growing up are we look at our parents and we’re like sponges as children or whoever is raising us. And so if one of our parents for example you know has suffered through depression as we were growing up we might see that and start to model that behavior. It might even be subconscious. So sometimes there’s a genetic component sometimes that’s more a modeling or learned behavior component and sometimes it’s a combination of the two.

 

And I think what’s really important to remember through all of this is that no matter where any of you are today or no matter how you’re feeling right now because we have that 40 percent piece that is a skill based learned activity no matter what else is going on no matter what happens with your genetics if you have predispositions to different things or not you can still work at your happiness muscle and feel a little bit better every single day. So I think that’s a really empowering idea to you because oftentimes. Especially in terms of happiness the mentality is you know it’s almost like a destination to arrive. I will be happy when many fill in the blanks when I get the job when I get to a certain part. When I make so much money when I do this when I do that whatever it is as opposed to recognizing that happiness is a practice. It’s really something that we have to choose every single day to work on. And that’s where you really get the most benefit and the most long term long lasting effects especially your health.

 

Really really great also in terms of like how would you go would you advise people that live in a climate where the weather might not be so great. You know it’s always raining or it’s always snowing. What would you recommend in terms of increase in their happiness.

 

Yeah I’m sitting here in Toronto today and we’ve had like it’s been freezing cold like minus 30 Celsius for the past two weeks. I totally know what you mean you don’t want to go outside. So. I think that especially if you’re somewhere that has like you know long winters long dark nights looking at different things like getting getting some lights in your house or maybe taking some vitamin D supplementation. If that’s something that you talk your doctor about and. Can be really beneficial. Also I think that. No matter where you are no matter what climate you’re in it’s really about I think probably for me one of the biggest practices that has had the most profound impact on my personal happiness in the winter in the summer in the rain and the cold. I feel like a Dr. Seuss book and I just love them. It’s really focusing on gratitude. Yeah. Ratatouille and happiness are highly correlated. And what that means is that oftentimes when people start focusing on gratitude their happiness increases. And to such an extent that there was a research study done with lottery winners. So not surprising the researchers found that when people won the lottery they got happy friends. That’s not new or shocking information. However they followed those same lottery winners for six months after they had their big win and what they found was that over time their happiness was slowly decreasing. And that’s because of that concept I talked about earlier that hedonic adaptation.

 

Yes where we get used to what we have so we’re super excited we’ve been all this money and then we kind of have the money and then we’re not. We don’t wake up every morning after that as excited as the day the lottery. In the same research study they took a separate group of participants and they asked them to start a gratitude practice. What I mean by that is that these participants every day had to write down three things that they were grateful for that it does open up a piece of paper open up a journal open up a book and write down 3 things you’re grateful for. At the beginning of the study this group they weren’t that happy. However they also followed the script for six months at the three month mark so halfway through the study the people that had started practicing gratitude and the lottery winners their happiness levels were the same at six month periods at the end of the study. The people that practiced gratitude were statistically significantly happier than the people that won the lottery. So what’s really cool about that is that you know we can’t control a lot of things in our life like if we win the lottery or not. We can all control if we’re going to take two minutes every single day to write down three things that we’re grateful for and by doing that we can have these huge boosts in our happiness beyond what we would have if we won the lottery. The. Nickel.

 

That is just amazing and it’s sort of like I was saying how you know studying the brain now now that we have this imaging capabilities you know with brain scans for example and just showing how the brain responds to different stimulus and how it’s sort of it is it’s relying on us in our perception right.

 

As you said words are important is what we’re telling our brain. You know what we’re choosing to focus on. You know even know with our own vision what we’re looking at why is disturbing movie last night speaking.

 

Oh yeah. What you choose to look at or watch in this case and I was telling Mandy that we just can’t watch those movies anymore. It just had you know some really nasty things birds and.

 

And corruption and a lot of violence rape even. And it really disturbed me and I did this morning I went and I got out my my my cable reference guide all the channels that I could potentially have and now I’ve got the history channel National Geographic.

 

Weird Animals of it all these adults just because I really think that your brain basically is that sponge and it will basically soak up anything that you’re going to give it. May it be positive or negative.

 

For sure. I love that you just said that to Chris because like so often we go through the day and we just consume information we consume media we know we turn on the TV in the morning we listen to the news and then we’re walking through and we read our Instagram feed or Twitter feed or whatever and we consume all this information without really paying attention to what it is. And I mean how many of you listening out there have opened up your Facebook started scrolling through your news feed and then not felt as good as when you started. Right. And so I think exactly what you did that’s really empowering because you’re taking control of your environment. You’re choosing what you want to see and what you don’t want to see and that’s going to have a really good effect on your happiness. I think that’s an amazing practice.

 

So what do you do in regards to media like I know that you’re featured on plenty of media media radio TV et cetera et cetera. But you know how do you consume it yourself. Did you limit yourself to what exactly position you have with Facebook social media with TV all these medias.

 

That’s a really interesting thing because media is such a powerful tool for a lot of good. And at the same time it can be the complete opposite. Right. And so so for myself personally I do not I don’t watch TV. I don’t watch the news. I don’t. I don’t do any of that because I just I intentionally want to create an environment around me where it’s setting me up to be happy. And by watching the news all the time it really doesn’t bring me so I limit as much as possible any of that kind of stuff. Another thing is that in terms of social media I so I taught a course at Western University called Pelton’s social media. And in the course we looked at all sorts of different social media platforms and how their news especially in the health space and I made this one slide and it was a picture of Spiderman and it said With great power comes great responsibility. And essentially that is my view of social media. It is a tool that we can absolutely leverage for a lot of good. And at the same time there’s a level of responsibility there that each of us has to take in order to use that tool for good because it can go to the other end to where you start schooling through your needs and you start comparing yourself to what you’re seeing and you don’t feel good or you feel bad or whatever is going on. So I really try to use that as a tool.

 

I think it’s a great way to communicate with people all over the world you know like yesterday for example with Blue Monday. So it was the day that people called the saddest day of the year hadn’t within them actually the day that a travel agency made up back in 2005 to try to sell people hahaha. And so I did the whole media I do media circuit every year on this day explaining that no this isn’t a real thing and that isn’t based on science and the media is a tool to allow me to share that message with a bunch of different people I essentially see media sometimes as a classroom. So instead of teaching diversity I’m teaching where I gets in people’s living rooms or while they’re driving in the car or you don’t listen to the podcast all of that and it’s a positive thing. Like every one of your listeners they get to learn amazing information and hear the conversations that you’re having with people and pulling out those nuggets that they can apply to their life. So absolutely. It’s amazing. And at the same time I think that really noticing checking in with how you feel after you consume media is a really practice that’s going to help you hone in. So if you check in and you feel good then that’s probably something that you want to keep doing and if you check in and say You’re watching the news and you watch them horrible whatever was on the news that day and you don’t feel it’s good then that’s a good thing to know. Maybe I don’t want as much of that media and start to figure it out from there.

 

So maybe you feel some mo ish totally right. Yeah. So you may want to fill in our listeners on what clear. I don’t think so yeah it is as a word that they’re going to bring into the Webster dictionary. But yeah what is formal.

 

So that’s the fear of missing out. It’s an acronym fear of missing out. And so a lot of times what will happen is someone will say for example open up Facebook and they’ll see all their friends were out for dinner the night before and they had to work or they stayed home. And so then they start feeling badly because they feel like they’re missing out on all the fodder that they’re seeing on social media. A lot of times what I see and I talk to a lot of people is this idea of social comparison where we look at someone’s picture say for example they’re out for dinner or they celebrate the anniversary and they’re on a vacation and you see them. They’ve just won an award. They’ve published a book whatever it is and you see their bright shiny moment you see them standing there with a big smile. And then you look around at your life and your house and you have dishes to do their laundry today. Brush your hair yet a day and you start to feel like your life isn’t as good. And yet we have to really keep remembering that social media. Is. What people are choosing to share with us. That’s just their front story. They can filter the pictures with Photoshop these days we were talking about this earlier right. You can create anything you want and when you start looking at something that is just a snapshot of a moment in time in that moment in time might not even be real or can be filters on it or whatever’s going on. And you compare that to your everyday life.

 

Then of course you’re going to feel bad or sad or like you’re not enough or whatever it is really I think part of our power in social media especially as consumers of social media is really limiting how much we’re comparing and being taking the pressure off of ourselves because what we see are just those bright shining moment and it’s not everybody’s everyday. And so knowing that you can really help to give some perspective to to how we consume social media.

 

Now is the research out there right now that is is proving that social media is causing depression especially with you know the I guess what your generation would be the younger generation younger than me anyways the the X Y I’ve sort of lost the millennials.

 

Yes. Those those people over there. So is there any research out there showing that there is more depression which they are pointing out social media being the cause culprit of it all.

 

So this is this is the fun conversation we get into in research because especially with something like this it’s very challenging to study and to draw cause and effect. Right. We can’t. It’s really hard to say X causes Y in this situation because there’s so many variables that you have to look at. So oftentimes you’ll hear what it’s called correlational research. So researchers will study two things and notice that when one goes up the other goes up or one goes down the other goes down or vice versa. And so in that case we say it may cause it is related. So absolutely when we look at especially the younger generation and I can speak specifically to university students because I was just diving into that literature recently and. I think that one of the really important pieces to remember is that you would you want to guess how many hours a day. University students right now in Canada are spending online protests 9.

 

10 and Caywood Ithaka 10. Wow. We’re going to see six.

 

Oh you right. That’s right in the middle it’s about eight hours. Wow. Eight hours a day.

 

So that’s really significant given that the only 24 hours in a day so eight hours I can just imagine if they take their phone they’re flipping through now Feagin saying you know who’s doing what and how they’re they may or may not be doing that so badly.

 

So it’s kind of like navigating this whole new world like for example I was telling you that social media of course Western just like created that course course wasn’t even available when I was an undergrad. It’s becoming this thing that we really have to learn and to educate because I mean especially when you look at a teenager like. When they get a cell phone at age 12 or age 14 or whatever it is. And they have free reign of whatever they want unless you’ve got the parental controls and things like that on your home. And so it’s this whole level of education that really has to happen to teach especially the younger generation about how to use social media and use that tech elegy for good. You know they’re lucky. I remember when I used to have to do a research project like going down to the library and photocopying the encyclopedia. Like you guys remember that scene here. Right now they can just open up Google and buy it whatever they want. So there is some good there is bad at the whole new uncharted territory. And I think things are really growing and evolving and I and I do have to say that I am encouraged because I do see a lot more positive responsible social media discussions being had talks you know you see people posting you know unfiltered pictures or you know saying this isn’t real. We’re having those conversations more and more so I think that I am encouraged to what’s happening and it’s a really important thing to to be aware of.

 

I want to ask you Have you done any research on addictions you know drug alcohol you know sort of those are typical talked about addictions and sort of social problems that we have out there. Obviously it’s a problem I had to and I just want to know if have you done any research in regards to you know the happiness component I guess and how correlates with depression and also addiction.

 

I have to I haven’t personally done any research looking at addiction especially in terms of happiness. I have read a little bit and oftentimes especially in the cycle of addiction and we’re going after that dopamine hit the next high whatever it is whether it be a drink or the next card game that you’re playing or even work or whatever the thing is that we’re that we’re kind of caught in this cycle and we’re essentially looking for is that feeling that that feeling of feeling really good. Right and we’re sort of trusting that. And so I’m not sure actually be really interesting to look into rate of happiness especially people that are getting help for their addiction or something like that to see what that would look like.

 

So I haven’t I haven’t seen any of that that piqued my interest my Guria and how I could just tell you from my own personal experiences that you know drugs and alcohol were my shortcut and we know that the brain looks for shortcuts.

 

Our brain is pretty simple it’s here to have us survive another day. And if we can survive you know with more pleasure than pain then it will figure it out. And you know I just figured out that there was a shortcut to get to that pleasurable state. And then I wanted to stay there I wanted to stay there all the time and it was easy to get there and stay there with substances. And yeah that was basically my dilemma right. That I had to you know basically transfer my entire life in order to to find other areas of pleasure the areas that I found you know had had the same effect on my brain was meditation. I’ll never forget this I was having a lot of difficulty and had lawyers involved in my life and I was sitting down on that in a board room was a bunch of lawyers around me and for the first time I just took a deep breath and you know what I craved. When I craved meditation. Now that never ever happened to me at this point I was getting straight and sober. And you know I compared to other situations high stress situations that I’ve been in and I always craved the drink I always craved the drug. Now the first thing that came to my mind and now I was creating meditation.

 

You know I just I just wanted to go home. I was sitting on meditation chair and I wanted to breathe deeply and just you know relax so you know that that was a transformative moment for me and it really had me start to understand you know how my brain works essentially.

 

Right. And of course you could go even deeper and explain it with all these neuro chemicals and you know exactly what’s going on in my brain. But you know just from a practice standpoint not practicing substance abuse and practicing meditation. My brain didn’t know the difference. And I just was really incredible for me to find first of all right.

 

And then actually to to grow with I’ve been practicing now for probably since I’ve been sober you know six seven years now and I want to ask you you know do you have any meditative practices mindfulness you know things that you do to give you that sense of peace contentment relaxing feelings.

 

Yes absolutely. I’m gonna say I celebrate you for sharing that story and her for doing the work to interrupt the patterns to reprogram your brain to have gone through what you’ve gone through and remember how earlier I was talking about how happiness is like a muscle. And we have to work at it and over time it gets easier and easier. Did you find that as you continued in your meditation practice it did get easier and easier less likely wanted to reach for that drinker those drugs and then more and more of the meditation. You as you go.

 

Five minutes over five minutes is the marker. If I can just sit still and just let my mind go crazy you know what I mean just like this. This a dog with rabies you know you’re funny all over the place is slobbering and you know thinking this thought not thought and this fear.

 

And this is you know pain pleasure all these different types of fuel if I can just get through five minutes after that I just opened up into this new space right where I need to be because this you know brings me down to earth it grounds me and Rosie as they say and in the school of meditation’s. Oh yeah for me it’s really is just five minutes. And I love that you brought up meditation to you because I think so often when we think about happiness we think of that person who won the lottery jumping for joy or something it just got like a touchdown at a football game or something not really ecstatic energized very loud. Expression of happiness.

 

And what what’s important to remember is that happiness actually can be expressed in so many different ways. And I know for myself personally from my happiest moments are. After I’ve sat in a beautiful meditation. And that he looked at me like I’m calm I feel serene and yet I feel very happy at the same time. So I think bearing in mind that happiness can be expressed in a variety of different ways. And like you I think meditation is a huge huge practice that can boost your happiness. And I know it does for me personally I like to start my day with meditation every day because I feel like so often when we wake up in the morning the alarm goes off and then you go go go go and you’ve got to get breakfast and get out the door. And what I love about meditation and taking even if it’s five minutes like sometimes my meditation is five minutes. And I love that because I’ve intentionally taken a pause before I start my day. So I have that moment without the chaos without the stress of being Wajdi with my to do list for the day experiencing that. And I find that it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day when you’re able to take time especially in the morning for a few minutes to pause and to breathe and to connect with your friends and connect with your body. And then to to start it from there. So sometimes I’ll meditate at night too and meditation is hard for me.

 

It’s still I’ve been doing it for years and I still really actively have to work out and I mean I’ve done like for yoga teacher trainings I guess the value of meditation and I know how good it makes me feel and still it’s a real struggle. And I continue to do it because I want to choose that for my life. And and it’s a choice. And sometimes you might not want to do it and you do it because the other thing at the end of meditation you never like feel that it’s so kind of like a work memory you might not want to do in the beginning with and you never regret it either.

 

Yeah it’s really contrary to you know I think how our society is is taught to be and to be huge in the sense that we’re doers and we’re not doing much when we’re meditating.

 

So it’s very difficult for us to to you know change our belief system that sitting and literally doing nothing is actually productive. So counterintuitive you know I’d love to write a book and of course if there’s any research I’ll be coming to you are called the great human paradox that you know everything is a contradiction you know as we look at the world and think it is this is it actually is that it’s something you know in some cases completely opposite as it is with meditation. Sure for sure especially like our society rewards busyness and we value productivity.

 

And with meditation there is no output of that they simply in that moment and so oftentimes that we don’t value it is through the programming from from our from our culture. And so I think yeah absolutely. And meditation and the benefits extends beyond how you feel in that moment and you look at concentration focus memory problem solving creativity all of these things you see significant because when you meditate.

 

So what’s the future going to look like for you. You know I call you the happy dark. Is that something that you’re going to pursue.

 

You know for years to come or are you starting to become interested in other subjects perhaps you see yourself taking a different direction like what does your future look like. As you I guess I’m finishing basically your dissertation you’re going to be you know doctor and rich pretty pretty soon and yeah we’re were where do you see yourself going after your Ph.D.. So to be honest I’m not totally sure I I know that.

 

I do things that bring me joy and that I love to do and one of the things teaching and sharing and research and you know I’ve been in Western for 10 years I spent a decade learning how to research and how to ask good questions and how to be curious and how to be open minded. And so I really am kind of open to letting that evolve as it does. Oftentimes you know one research study or one area of research or interest leans to another into another into an delight. Now that quote T.S. Eliot or who it is they say you know you feel like nothing changes. And then looking back day by day you feel like nothing changes when looking back everything’s different. Kind of like my path up to this point to studying happiness. You know I started my undergraduate degree wanting a mouthful and so I think that more so much what it’s going to look like. I focus on the feeling how I feel exactly. Whatever it is I know that I’m going to feel energized that I feel creative that I’m going to feel happy that I’m going to feel all of those emotions and however that manifests itself whatever that looks like a kind of I’m open to that.

 

And it’s really I focus on the feelings and you know what you just said there.

 

Especially from someone like you with all of your education where you know in our society we’re supposed to know you know who we are and what we’re good at and where we’re going in all of these things and you’re basically saying well hey I’m going to follow my heart or I’m you know I’m going to follow the energy or the good feeling or you know what brings me happiness and joy. But you know I’ve been experimenting with that myself. And sometimes you know I don’t have the answer I don’t have the five year plan. I don’t have the perfect mission statement or sentence to tell everyone that I know exactly who I am and where I’m going. But I do know where the good feeling is and the vibe and I’m attracted to the vibration and I’m starting to trust myself enough to follow that path. And I’m telling you that was very very challenging for me. You know I guess I’m like a lot of people a control freak and you know just trying to have the answers for every possible outcome rather than just you know listening to my heart my soul my spirit or just you know feeling you know where the good energy is. And following that. And that’s where I’ve been letting go essentially. And I’ve got a lot more control control over me and the way I feel ok with practicing less control out there and sort of portraying everyone else that hey you know I’m the man and I got this you know I mean maybe I don’t have a lot of the answers. Again I just I know where the good vibe is for me anyways.

 

Yeah for sure it’s like Joseph Campbell 13 a valuable lesson the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

 

Very very challenging for us. The Holy Yeah you know with our high paced lifestyles where we’re supposed to have all the answers. But I think back to there’s a conscious shift a lot of spiritual teachers that I befriended over the years it has helped me you know basically curb or beat or win over alcohol and addiction and they were all saying that you know the the consciousness or the way that we are thinking and believing is is changing and we’re we’re noticing you know these higher vibrational feelings like happiness and we’re paying attention to them a little more we’re we’re we’re searching we’re seeking for them.

 

And I think that is just incredible what you’re doing. I just love when you almost bring East and West together you’ve got you know that Eastern philosophy which is ancient which sometimes for our Westerners it’s hard for us to grasp. You know where’s the evidence where’s the empirical evidence right. But I just love how you’re getting involved in this and bringing some of that evidence to us so that we feel a little more comfortable you know talking about you know peace happiness joy contentment in all these things that we’re all craving right but. You know we’ve got people like you that are really you know researching it and telling us some facts that we can hold on to and feel confident boats a boat you know us searching seeking and finding happiness.

 

Yeah I mean even like ten years ago the idea of the three of us having this conversation wouldn’t have even been in California. Now there’s like a whole section in the bookstore on how high. Like you’re really seeing this shift in conversations and what people are talking about. I mean people vote with their dollars right if people more wanting. They wouldn’t be spending the money on it. We will see it. And we are so I you know I think that that’s really encouraging to you that the people are starting to really focus on what what are your what are my priorities what’s important to me what kind of life I want to live how do I want to feel what do I want that to look like and how I get a great job.

 

It’s amazing. So I want to let our listeners know where they can find you. Learn more about what you’re up to maybe how you can help them. So where are you out there on the internet. Maybe your Web site and some other sites and things that you’re doing that you can share with our audience.

 

Yeah my Web site probably a great place to go it’s kind of a hub. Everything you can find from there and my Web site is my name really manage that G I L L I am M.A and D I C H dot com. So from there you can find all my socials and stuff and if some listeners want it to. I talked about that 40 percent of our happiness being a skill based activity. I actually wrote an e-book and it’s free for download on my website that has 5 evidence base things that you can do today to help you spot that happiness 40 percent that have helped build your happiness muscle so totally break down what it right off the main page about what to say and it’s actually for those of you that like research. I’ve actually linked up the studies to see if you can read my summary that’s really it’s a short book. Each thing is one page and then if you want to go and follow the links you can actually pull the the real research to set up Konicov. Yeah everything is there and if any of you guys have questions or comments or anything like that. All my social media handles. I’m on like all the social medias and it’s all my name. So all at Jilian.

 

It’s amazing. So I love what you’re saying. I love that you’re bringing again all of this education to media into podcasts and to social media.

 

I really think that you know if we start looking at education especially you know a lot of my listeners are around my age you know. Maybe they’re in their 40s or 50s. And sometimes you know we we stunt our growth. And I think when we’re growing we’re happy and I know that when we’re learning McCaig we’re growing and we potentially could be a lot happier. So fazer coming on the show and just educating us on happiness and again just feeding you know my listeners and Mandy and me on something that we really need to focus on because I think we have a little bit more control over it than we thought we did before it’s the H word. It’s not the F word which I keep seeing on bookshelves recently too if we’re talking to my happiness. This is Gillian Mandich She’s going to be Dr. Mandich very very soon. Check her out on the Web site. Get that free e-book download again. Julian thanks for being on the show. Be happy. Or maybe maybe this is the right time.

 

Don’t worry be happy and inspired to aspire.

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