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Dr. Joel Wade, PHD

The Virtue of Happiness

By Happiness

(This is from my book, “The Virtue of Happiness”)

Happiness is not a smiley face, and a happy life is not a perfect Facebook profile of blissful moments and beaming selfies building on a continual upward trajectory.

We are biological, not mechanical; our minds are not computers – though some functions of our brains are similar. Our lives are full of rhythms, cycles of expansion and contraction, ebb and flow. Just as a tree will withdraw into itself beginning in the Fall and during the winter, dropping its leaves and growing its roots, then expands out with new buds, blossoms, and fruit in the Spring and summer, our bodies pulse with heartbeats, breaths, and cycles of sleep and wakefulness. We don’t remain in a continual state; and we cannot expect continual, uninterrupted happiness or success.

Our consciousness is organized around stories; including our own personal stories of tragedy and triumph, comedy and creativity, love and loss. We have some say in the nature of the stories with which we identify – to what degree we see ourselves as authors of our stories; to what degree the characters can learn and grow; what possibilities there may be for interesting plot twists – and this is one of the ways we can steer ourselves toward a better life, a better sense of ourselves: We can think of our lives within the context of a better story. Read More

Mastering Emotions, Moods and Reactions

By Emotions, Moods and Reactions


(This is from my book, the Mastering Emotions, Moods and Emotions Workbook)

Mastering our emotions, moods and reactions begins with understanding our fundamental nature as living, growing organisms. Our biological processes are full of rhythms, pulsations, flowing liquid and moving breath. Nature’s forces are powerful and enduring. If we try to fight against a powerful wind, we can be quickly overcome by it. But if we can accept, study, and harness those same forces, we can power a sailboat or a windmill. By stepping back and looking at the bigger picture of our own internal nature, we can more easily understand our own patterns and rhythms; and if we begin by accepting these as they are, we can use their power and direct them in ways that work better for us, rather than fighting against ourselves; against our own nature.

We begin our exploration with orienting to our biological nature.

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Gratitude: The Antidote to the Hedonic Treadmill

By Happiness

One of the – sometimes – unspoken expectations when we buy something is that it will, to some degree, make us happy.

We buy a new appliance, or a nice piece of furniture for our home, and it satisfies an idea we had that led us to buy it in the first place. Part of that idea is that the new oven, or couch, will make us happy.

We shop for a new piece of clothing, and we expect that we’ll enjoy wearing it.

Even a trip to the grocery store is often accompanied with an expectation that the food we buy will make for a yummy meal that we’ll savor.

We can buy gizmos like smart phones or Apple watches, and we expect they’ll improve, to some extent, the quality of our lives.

And each of these purchases usually does bring us some degree of satisfaction or pleasure… for a little while. Read More

A Simple Tool for Managing Emotions

By Emotions, Moods and Reactions

Getting overwhelmed or misled by our emotions is one of the primary sources of financial trouble, whether spending, earning, saving, or investing. Emotions are not simple, but sometimes there are simple actions we can take to manage complex things. Today’s column will show you a simple way to avoid getting overwhelmed by your emotions.

  • When people were treated for phobias, practicing this simple skill lowered their fear by over 18%, and their psychological reactivity by over 27%. They also were less constricted generally, shifting from feeling a sense of threat to a sense of opportunity.
  • When feeling stress, using this technique led to people having 40% fewer alcoholic drinks when they went to a bar or party than those who did not use this technique.
  • When feeling angry with someone, those using this technique were 40% less verbally and physically aggressive than those who did not.
  • Rejection brings with it actual pain. When feeling rejected those using this technique showed less activity in the parts of the brain connected to physical and emotional pain.

Using this simple tool can help us to deal with emotionally upsetting situations with a greater sense of calm and competence. Read More

An Internal Pathway for Clearer Thinking

By Emotions, Moods and Reactions

I’ve been focusing in these columns on the ways our emotions can interfere with managing our money and investing well. Today I want to talk about the positive state that we want to aim for most of the time – which will connect us with the emotional resources and clear thinking we need to make our best decisions.

Researchers like Steven Porges call it our social engagement system.

When we feel safe, and trusting, and relaxed, our heart rate and blood pressure lowers, and our heart rate variability increases – our heart rate rises a little on the inhale, and lowers on the exhale, and the difference between these is our heart rate variability. Higher heart rate variability is a good thing. This is all very beneficial for our immune system, our cardio-vascular system, our organs, and our overall health. Read More