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The Upward Spiral is a fascinating and helpful book. Neuroscientist Alex Korb demystifies the intricate brain processes that cause “the blues” and offers a practical and effective approach to getting better. Based on the latest research in neuroscience, this book provides dozens of straightforward tips we can do every day to rewire our brain and create an upward spiral towards a happier and healthier life.

This book mixes easy to understand information on the brain processes and the neuroscience behind our emotions, thoughts and actions and everyday steps we can do to alter brain activity and chemistry to feel more wellbeing. Seeking professional help is always a possibility.

Reading this book could not have come at a better time. Many of us are still experiencing a cold, snowy and long winter that seems like it will not end. In addition to getting exercise, sunshine (hard in the winter), eating fresh fruits and vegetables, getting a massage, seeking professional help if indicated, the one recommendation that Korb discusses at full length is gratitude. The research on the powerful and long lasting effect of gratitude can’t be minimized.

In his research, he found gratitude:

  • Increases social support
  • Our social interactions are more enjoyable
  • Decrease depression symptoms
  • Improved physical health
  • Boost serotonin (focus on positive aspects of our lives)
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves our view of the future
  • Our appreciation of humor

Actions to Activate our Gratitude Circuit:

1. Write a detailed thank-you letter. Think of someone who has been especially kind to you – a friend, family member, co-worker, teacher, manager, mentor – whom you have not properly thanked. If possible set up a time to meet and give them your note/letter. Research show that this activity had increased levels of happiness even two months later.

2. Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes every day to write down three things you are thankful for. Try doing it at the same time every day. Many people like to do this at night. It could be as simple as your cup of coffee, your dinner, for having a warm place to live.

3. Be grateful when you wake-up. When you wake up think of one thing you are looking forward to: cup of coffee/tea, the sunrise, sunset. Do this before looking at your phone and social media.

4. Take a deep breath. Take a long deep breath in. At the top of your breath, pause for a moment to think, “I am grateful for this breath,” then let it out slowly.

Which one of these actions are you already doing? Which one will you implement today? We can’t control the weather and we can begin to rewire our brain for more health, happiness and wellbeing. It’s based on science.

If you know of others, perhaps your leadership team or a friend, who would be interested in learning more or receiving this and other blog posts, please feel free to forward to those individuals.

If you are interested in bringing me to your organization for a refresh training or coming to a public training, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a comment or email at beckylang@icloud.com.

If you want to follow me on Facebook go to LifeStrategies.

Tranform Conversations. Transform Lives.
Dr. Becky Lang

“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