Recovery Unscripted Podcast - Episode 4

Featured Guest: Michelle Gielan, Author, Broadcasting Happiness, and Lee Pepper, Chief Marketing Officer, Foundations Recovery Network

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For this special edition of Recovery Unscripted, Foundations Recovery Network CMO Lee Pepper interviews bestselling author Michelle Gielan live from the Recovery Results conference in Dallas. Michelle shares some of the psychological research behind her book Broadcasting Happiness and explains how we all influence others through our own positive or negative “broadcasts” in everyday life.

In this conversation, Michelle expands on the themes she shared during her opening keynote address at Recovery Results. Through her research at the University of Pennsylvania, she has found that the small, daily choices we make affect those around us in a positive or negative way, no matter who we are. As Michelle explains, “It’s not reserved for people with an official platform … we are all broadcasting information constantly.”

Unfortunately, we also face a barrage of negative news — not just in the media, but also ordinary negativity in our daily lives. Over time, this can affect our brains to believe that our behavior doesn’t make a difference. But it doesn’t have to be that way, Michelle says. “When we start to see that we have the power to create that positive change and our behavior will make a difference, it transforms what we do and how we approach our lives.”

Even something like stress doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. In her research, Michelle has found that, if we gain awareness of the presence of stressful conditions, we can make a conscious decision to calm our minds in that moment and turn it into a positive situation. “The more that we can see [stress], own it and use it, the more we reap the positive benefits,” Michelle explains. “When we hold in our minds that there can be some advantages to stress, then that helps us use it in a different sort of way.”

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Podcast Transcript: David Condos with Michelle Gielan

David Condos: Hello and welcome to this episode of Recovery Unscripted, a podcast powered by Foundations Recovery Network. I’m your host David Condos and I’m excited to have you with us today for a special edition of the show that features a conversation between Foundation’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lee Pepper and news anchor turned a positive psychology researcher, Michele Gielan.

In addition to founding the Institute for Applied Positive Change, Michelle is the author of Broadcasting Happiness, a bestselling book that explores the science of igniting and sustaining positive change. This episode was recorded live from the Recovery Results conference in Dallas, where Michelle also delivered the keynote address.

Now, here’s Lee and Michelle.

Lee Pepper: Michelle, thank you so much for joining us here at our first Recovery Results Conference here in Dallas.

Michelle Gielan: I’m so thrilled to be here, thank you.

Lee: Your opening keynote was an excellent choice for us on your topic on happiness. Referring to your book Broadcast Happiness, I just had a couple of thoughts I just wanted to get out and ask you some questions this morning. First is, you opened with, “We’re all broadcasters.” I wonder if you could take just a few moments and just comment on what that means to you and how do we become broadcasters?

Michelle: Yes, absolutely. What I came to see in the research that I did at the University of Pennsylvania on positive psychology was that this ability to influence others, both in a positive way and a negative way, it’s not reserved for people with an official platform. That we are all broadcasting information constantly. In your job, as a parent, as a teacher, as a leader, you’re constantly transmitting information to the people around you through what you say, through your non-verbals and those small choices actually have significant impacts on how people move through stress, change and challenges. They impact how people process their day.

When we see that power to influence others, we realize that we can make small changes for our personal broadcast and then influence others. It’s about the things that you talk about as far as what you see on the news but, more importantly, it’s how we look at our own lives. Are we grateful for things that we’re experiencing? Are we processing a challenge at work in a way that says, “I can overcome this. My behavior matters.”? Or do we say, “Oh, you know, I feel powerless. I feel helpless.”?

Those small changes not only influence mindset of others but also in our research, we find that they significantly influence business and educational outcomes as well.

Lee: You had a comment where you talked about a lot of us suffer from a barrage of negative news and not just news like on broadcast news but negative news in our business lives, at work. I wonder, how do we go about embracing the positive and not letting that barrage of negative sometime influence us?

Michelle: Yes, if we’re completely constantly bombarded by negativity at work and pieces of information that tell us, “Your behavior doesn’t matter. You can’t overcome this challenge. Nothing we do will make a difference.” Then our brain starts to believe that our behavior on all things doesn’t make a difference. That pervasive thought can be really cancerous in our work, in our families and what not.

When we start to see that we have the power to create that positive change and our behavior will make a difference, it transforms what we do and how we approach our lives.

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Lee: You referenced, I think it was called “positive mindsets”, and you had work optimism, positive engagement and support provisions. I wonder, when you talk about stress enhanced training, which I think was related to the second one, how do we translate that stress? How do we go about training ourselves to have a more positive attitude towards stress?

Michelle: Stress can actually be enhancing to the body and mind. Oftentimes when we talk about stress, we talk about it in a way that says, “Stress is bad for you and you need to fight or flee from any situation that could cause stress.” I don’t advocate looking for opportunities for more stress. When we are presented with a stressful situation, in our research what we found is that the more that we can see it, own it and use it, the more we reap the positive benefits.

The study that I referenced that we did at UBS, the people who were trained to recognize when they’re in a stress state and see the advantages that it actually can provide to the body and mind, experienced a 23% drop in stress related symptoms like headaches, backaches and fatigue. In a nutshell, what it’s about is saying, “Okay, am I experiencing stress right now? Can I relax my body? Can I calm my mind? Then, can I see that actually, stress can have advantages? It can make me more focused on what I’m doing. It can give me a burst of energy. It can help me reach my deadline more quickly.”

When we hold in our minds that there can be some advantages to stress, then that helps us use it in a different way. The training, in fairness, is three hours. I wish we had the time, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Lee: Well, I wanted to ask you this, how do people go about attending those type of trainings? Do we contact your institute or maybe give yourself a plug on how we find out about these?

Michelle: Yes, absolutely. If you reach out to our group, we have a group called Good Think, t-h-i-n-k. If you go to broadcastinghappiness.com, that will route you to the right place. Yes, our research institute, we do trainings. Also, the other thing that I should mentioned that I think it can be helpful tool for people is, we have the success scale publicly available. It’s a validated 30 question assessment that we’ve now used. We battle-tested it in organizations around the globe and it tests for those three greatest predictors of long term levels of success.

It looks at your levels of work optimism, support provision and positive engagement, positive engagement being your relationship to stress. I encourage everyone to go to broadcastinghappiness.com and take it because not only will you get your own scores, but you’ll also receive an interpretative report which gives you some ideas on what you can do to improve your scores if you’ve tested lower than you’ve wished for in a particular area.

Lee: Will there be a follow up book to Broadcast Happiness?

Michelle: I’m sure. I really enjoy the writing process mostly because I spent so long at CBS telling stories that I would have loved to have told them a different way or followed the people through the full arc of the story. Now, when I come across these other stories that are inspiring and motivating, of people who’ve transformed their lives using some of this research, I’m excited to eventually be able to put those into a book and tell them.

Lee: Great. Well, thank you so much, Michelle, for joining us this morning here in Dallas at the Recovery Results Conference. We really are honored to have you open up our conference.

Michelle: Thank you so much.