Gillian Mandich- How To Be Happier Than Winning a 100 Million Dollar Lottery

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Today we’re talking to holistic health expert Gillian Mandich about how happiness impacts our overall health and success in life and how you can maximize your own happiness. Gillian is also an expert at working to overcome childhood obesity and diabetes by leading both children and adults away from the sedentary lifestyle.

How To Overcome the Sedentary Lifestyle

Gillian shares the sobering statistic that, if we continue on our current trajectory with childhood obesity and diabetes, this generation of kids will be the first whose parents actually outlive them.

Fortunately, we have a window of opportunity to intervene. Research shows that if you want to help the kid, you have to help the family because kids look to their parents as model of behavior.

Gillian also explains that the problem is a complex one with a strong mental health component. Bullying, stress, anxiety and depression are all factors in childhood health problems. This begs the question, how do you help so many people with a variety of different issues? The answer is to first go after the low hanging fruit.

Everyone can start modeling better behavior right away.

1) use a standing desk, 2) take breaks to get up and move and 3) remember that just a few minutes at a time throughout the day can make a huge impact on your health.

Gillian also points out the importance of empowering children. The Growing Chefs program, which teaches kids cooking skills, is a great example. Kids are empowered by cooking and visiting farmers markets, and then they have more self confidence and make healthier choices. It’s important that we give kids successes and wins in life so that they can feel good about themselves.

Gillian Mandich

How To Maximize Happiness Through Scientifically Backed Health Strategies

Gillian explains that about 50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genetics. And while genetics play a large role, practicing happiness allows people to uncover more ability for happiness than they realized they had.

Ten percent of our happiness is impacted by our everyday life. This is due to a concept called hedonic adaptation, or the slow adaptation of your body and mind to the environment. Over time, we adapt to what we are around and it doesn’t impact us as much as we think…kind of like getting into a very hot bath.

The other 40 percent of happiness – and this is the most important part — is skill based, which means you can work happiness like a muscle. Growing that muscle has a positive impact on your health.

Fortunately, there are many different ways to practice happiness, including the following:

  1. Develop a Gratitude Practice: Gratitude and happiness are highly correlated. You can practice gratitude simply by spending time each day thinking about things you are grateful for. Gillian points to a fascinating study that studied lottery winners For most winners, there’s a spike in happiness over the first six months, and a steady decline follows. People who practice gratitude, on the other hand, had a slow arc of an increase in happiness over time, ending up significantly happier in the long run.
  2. Smile: We are born smiling, which is confirmed by 3D imaging of babies in womb – it is our default setting. Gillian describes a study that measured the width of the smiles on baseball player cards and found that the widest smilers lived six years longer on average. Another 30-year-long study measured people’s smiles in their yearbook photos and found that the widest smilers ranked highest on standardized tests and well being, had the most fulfilling and lasting marriages, and were identified as most inspiring to other people. From a physiological perspective, it also has huge impact, as the physical act of smiling triggers two muscles that create a cascading positive physiological response. Best of all, smiling is available to all of us anytime for free, and you can start right now.
  3. Physical activity: The more you move, the happier you are; it’s as simple as that.
  4. Altruism: Doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy because it creates a positive feedback loop. A Harvard study showed that when you’re happy it extends three degrees of separation beyond you – the people around you also become happier. When you watch someone do something nice for someone else, it even makes you happier as an observer. Happier people live longer, have more cooperative relationships, perform better in groups, and are more likely to do charitable things.
  5. Have Compassion For Yourself: Learn the lessons from mistakes you’ve made, then forgive yourself and keep moving forward.
  6. Nurture Strong Relationships: A longitudinal study out of UC Berkeley showed that having close relationships is the strongest predictor of happiness above all else.

Make sure to check out…

Gillian’s Twitter

Gillian’s free eBook with lots of happiness research

Harvard study about how happiness extends 3 degrees of separation from us

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