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How to cultivate a positive mindset: Affirmations

According to Shawn Achor, we can rewire our brain.  Shawn is the author of The Happiness Advantage. He believes that in some fields, we are trained to look at the problems that need solving, the injustices that need righting, and stresses that need to be managed.  The more we focus on the negatives, the more we miss out on the positives.  It takes practice and focus to train our brains to scan for the positives.

The Power of a Positive Effect

When our brains constantly scan for and focus on the positive, we profit from three of the most important tools available to use:  happiness, gratitude and optimism.

Increase Happiness

In a study by Seifert and Patalano (2001), participants who wrote down three good things each day for a week were happier and less depressed at the one-month, three-month and six-month follow ups.  Even after stopping the exercise they remained significantly happier and showed higher levels of optimism.   What happen?   They got better at scanning the world for good things to write down, the more good things they saw, without even trying, wherever they looked.  

Improved Health

Another study by Burton and King (2004) found that when people wrote about positive experiences for 20 minutes 3 times a week and compared to control group who wrote about neutral topics the results were revealing. The first group experienced larger spikes in happiness, but three months later they even had fewer symptoms of illness. Think about that, few reported symptoms of illness.  Now, we are talking about something powerful in the healthcare world.

 Take aways for coaching:

  • We may be wired for looking at problems and what needs to be fixed
  • It takes focus, intention and practice to look at what is working, the positive
  • It takes a mindset to look for the positives and affirm those to clients
  • It has been demonstrated repeatedly the power of finding and sharing the positive to our clients, patients, employees and team members.

Transform Conversations.  Transform Healthcare.

Dr. Becky Lang


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“Dr. Lang’s training provided me with a better understanding of the motivational interviewing process. The skills I learned from her training have helped me feel more engaged and thoughtful when listening and talking with those around me. Dr. Lang is energetic, knowledgeable, passionate and provides a great learning environment.”

Nancy AdrianseBSDH, Oral Health Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association

“The training I received in Becky’s motivational interviewing class was invaluable. It laid a wonderful foundation for me to effectively empower my patients to develop and implement positive changes for their health. Becky created such a nurturing, nonthreatening environment that allowed me to freely learn and practice. This is certainly a class I can recommend to anyone wanting to learn to assist others with behavior changes.”

Robin GeorgeRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“At the YMCA, we have worked with Dr. Becky Lang for over a decade now to help us shift and shape our culture. As an organization committed to strengthening our community, the coaching and training skills that Dr. Lang has provided have helped us immensely. With her education and guidance she has helped us establish a culture that focuses on building meaningful relationships with our members, focusing on their needs, and coaching them towards success in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Lang has trained all levels of our staff from our front line Wellness Coaches to our Executive Directors and Leadership Teams. Her on-going support has allowed the coaching-culture to come alive in our organization.”

Kim Stewart Kim Stewart Director of Operations, YMCA of Greater Des Moines

“The training Becky provided has been one of the most rewarding nursing experience I have had in 30 years. The style of interviewing and teaching patients is rewarding and positive. Her techniques drive the sessions to be more personal and patient-centered. Through Becky’s teaching, I was comfortable to practice and get familiar with the motivational interviewing process. Becky is an exceptional trainer and I recommend her training to all health coaches and educators.”

Sandy LovelessRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“The motivational interviewing techniques Becky teaches allow patients to set goals and work toward changes that are important to them. Patients feel in control of their own health and allow me to be in a more supportive roll. Becky has a positive and uplifting spirit that makes her classes extremely enjoyable.”

Tyra CarltonRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“Rebecca Lang was a respected colleague who diligently served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of students over her long career at Grand View University. I had the distinct pleasure to work with Becky and regularly witness her vocation to Wellness education. She motivates those around her by a strong and genuine commitment to a lifestyle which promotes health and well-being.”

Katharina TumpekPhD, Professor and former Chair, Dept. of Health Promotions, Grand View University

“It has been a pleasure to work with Becky Lang over the last 25 years. Within a variety of contexts in the wellness arena, I have witnessed Dr. Lang’s mastery as a wellness educator, a health coach, a professor, and, most recently, as a health coaching trainer. I could go on at length about Dr. Lang’s passion, enthusiasm, high energy, wisdom, and deep knowledge in health promotion and behavior change. One of the attributes that impresses me most, though, is her ability to create a relaxed, fun, interactive, and content-rich training environment. Her refreshingly supportive, inviting, and empathic style of training and coaching allows learners to take risks, experiment, try on new skills, and participate authentically in role play exercises without feeling awkward and intimidated. Through Dr. Lang’s coaching and training, people learn–often more than they imagined.”

Jill NorrisRN, MPH, PCMH-CCE, Director, Care Management, University of Iowa Health Alliance