Meet Dr. Scott Glassman. He is a PsyD is an author, psychologist, educator, and happiness expert. His innovative 7-week program A Happier You ® has been featured on Sirius XM, NPR, 10NBC, and CBS News. We have many ways to live optimally. A Happier You® is a seven-week program to increase joy and meaning in life. It combines a unique group of these pathways into a set of daily practices. They include spotlighting positive events, personal strengths, gratitude, love, and lightness in life.
About Dr. Scott Glassman: Dr. Glassman's journey toward A Happier You began as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1990s, when he began working under Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Karen Reivich on the Penn Resiliency Project. They were teaching middle school students in Philadelphia how to use cognitive-behavioral strategies to cope better with stress.
Dr. Glassman is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Health and Wellness section. He teaches and directs grant-funded wellness initiatives at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he trains students, faculty, and staff in Motivational Interviewing (MI), an evidence-based way of helping people change. He became a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) in 2012 and has presented on MI regionally and nationally to over 35 different organizations in the medical and behavioral health fields. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son and is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan.
Make sure to order your copy of A Happier You: https://www.scottglassman.com/book/
Learn more about Dr. Glassman on Twitter and Instagram @scottdavidglass
Dr. Scott Glassman 00:00
I trust that you have everything within you already to make healthy changes in your life. It's about discovering why you might want to do that. And how you might think of doing that. What's most important is what's going to be the best fit in your life, for making those changes. In my book, A Happier You, I call it the Flower Philosophy of Change. If you think about the seed of a flower, that seed has everything in it already to become that beautiful bloom. But what does it need, it needs the right conditions around it, it needs the soil, it needs the sunlight, it needs the rain, in order to bloom and we do that when we sit with others. We create those nurturing conditions through through our interactions through our conversation through our our unconditional positive regard. It's all about helping somebody become an explorer within themselves a discoverer of what's best for them.
Welcome to the Plant Based DFW Podcast weekly show with Dr. Riz and Maya. A show broadcasted from the Dallas Fort Worth area that focuses on lifestyle medicine. This is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a whole food plant based diet, regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management to treat, prevent, and oftentimes reverse lifestyle related chronic diseases that are all too prevalent. Every week they feature a guest who speaks on one of these lifestyle medicine pillars. This show is for you, the person who is seeking to improve your overall wellness and quality of life. So whether you are driving, walking, or relaxing at home, we hope this show will provide you one more tool for your wellness toolbox. Let's meet today's podcast guest.
Maya Acosta 01:47
Welcome back to another episode of the Plant Based DFW Podcast. This is Maya Acosta and today's topic of the day is happiness. And the expert that will speak with us about this topic is Dr. Scott Glassman. Before we move on to this episode, I want to remind you about the Lifestyle Medicine Conference that was supposed to happen in the Dallas area in November. Well, the conference is moving virtually and you can learn more about that at lmconference.org. Also this week, I will be attending a podcasters conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm very excited about that. And I'll keep you guys informed about all the things that I learned for podcasting. Scott Glassman PsyD is an author, psychologist, educator and happiness expert. His innovative seven-week program A Happier You has been featured on Sirius XM, NPR, 10NBC and CBS News. Dr. Glassman is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Health and Wellness section. He teaches and directs grant funded wellness initiatives at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he trains students, faculty and staff in motivational interviewing, an evidencebased way of helping people change. He became a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of trainers in 2012 and has presented on MI regionally and nationally to over 35 different organizations in the medical and behavioral health fields. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son and is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan. In this episode, we discuss Dr. Glassman's his new book titled A Happier You. In A Happier You. Dr. Glassman helps people find more joy and meaning in their lives. It teaches readers evidence-based skills to increase positive thoughts, feelings and actions in their lives. Rooted in positive psychology. It introduces practical ways to integrate personal strengths, accomplishments, gratitude, kindness, love, positivity catching and meaning into one's daily routines. If you're interested in Dr. Glassman book, check the link in the description box. It's titled A Happier You A 7-week Program to Transform Negative Thinking Into Positivity & Resiliency. I have been working the steps and I can tell you that I have a more positive outlook on life and I've been feeling so good. So I highly recommend the book. You can learn more about Dr. Scott Glassman by visiting his Twitter or Instagram account @Scottdavidglass and his website is Scottglassman.com. Thanks again for listening. Welcome Dr. Glassman.
Dr. Scott Glassman 04:29
Thank you so much Maya and Dr. Riz. It's fantastic to be with you today and to have an opportunity to talk to your audience about health, well-being and lifestyle. It's something as a psychologist that I've spent many years being interested in practical ways that we can enhance our physical, emotional, spiritual, social lives. So it's terrific to start this conversation and to kind of explore the territory a bit.
Maya Acosta 05:00
You know, one thing that I find is sort of a missing component to change is understanding the psychology behind that. And the fact that you often talk about positive psychology and motivational interviewing it are, those are key components, I think, to creating change. I'm also excited that you'll talk to us about how we can become a happier us or A Happier You that is your program. Before we touch on any of those topics, can we learn a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? And has your background always been in psychology?
Dr. Scott Glassman 05:31
Yeah, so my background has always been in psychology, a clinical psychologist, and I've specialized in health psychology, positive psychology, and topics around motivation, and how to implement programs and different training for counseling students as well as medical students. I am at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. I teach there and have been also working with A Happier You a program, I developed that PCOM in 2017. Since since that time, bringing that to our faculty, staff as wellness, as well as our patients in that, in that program, we have three health care centers associated with PCOM. And one of the kind of backing up and where my journey to psychology began, I can really trace it back to, to middle school. In my, I think everybody kind of has struggles and personal challenges in life and times when, you know, we need professional assistance. And I had grew up in a family, which was pretty authoritarian and kind of the parenting style as well as a high emotion household and with a history of family depression. So when I went through a transition into middle school and began to struggle emotionally and socially a bit, I began to kind of thinking, thinking about what is wrong, you know, what are some things that are making me unhappy? And I think the focus for me has been, from that point forward at that point was, you know, how can we fix what's wrong? Versus how can we improve, that are our strengths and our best qualities and give ourselves and our environment more of what's right. And that really began to and I saw a number of therapists were very helpful, I got help at that point. With the love of my family and friends, fast forwarding to college, I went to the University of Pennsylvania, and being interested in psychology, as a eager eyed psychology major became connected with Martin Seligman's lab. And Martin Seligman, as you may know, is the founder of Positive Psychology, has done a tremendous amount of work in the area of optimism. And I began being a part of the Penn Resilience Project where we would go into middle schools in Philadelphia, and teach students how to use CBT, to become more resilient to stressors in their lives. And I really love that idea of not a pathology focused model of well being, it really resonated with me quite a bit and something I wish that I had had when I was younger and facing those emotional challenges. And then I got my master's degree, and worked in the field of substance use counseling, as well as mental health counseling for a while, before going back to get my doctorate in, in clinical psychology. I discovered through that process, this idea of motivational interviewing, and motivational interviewing became such a great match for who I was, I felt like inside and how I wanted to be with people how I wanted to help them through the relationship. MI is this evidence-based way, as you mentioned, Maya of helping people on their own, find the resources within themselves, to make successful changes and to live healthier, happier lives. So this empathic rogerian and I say, rogerian, it's thinking about unconditional positive regard for the people we sit with who are struggling with change, that we accept them unconditionally, no matter what they decide to do was such an important part that I felt like I had been kind of missing from my education up to that point. And so that just continued to the when you think about MI you're going to be moving into the idea of healthy lifestyle change because that's where it's evidence-based it really flourishes along with the field of substance use, and many other areas. So I became interested as I became a doctoral student in how how MI can be used with others to help them increase exercise to enhance diet, to improve engagement, and their primary care treatment became a part of the motivational interviewing network of trainers, and still always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to bring positive psychology more into the focus of, of what I was what I was doing. And so from there, thinking about Martin Seligman's work, thinking about research in the areas of gratitude and kindness and love that we could create a group program that was multicomponent. So it brought in a number of evidence based areas in the field of positive psychology in one, one program, together to give people the most number of choices, pathways to to improve how they were feeling, and also to connect socially in positive ways with others. And that became happier you in 2017. And since then, our program has been flourishing and we've continued to run it many times and trained facilitators through through Happier You. And now it's a self paced book that's coming out from New Harbinger in in November. So that's in a nutshell, that's kind of been my journey to get to where I am today.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 11:43
Well, I certainly have a lot of stuff there that's very interesting to me, something I heard you say which I'd love to hear more about you said, non-pathology based. Why did that appeal to you?
Dr. Scott Glassman 11:53
Yeah, it appealed to me. Because when we become more problem focused, sometimes we ignore, or we miss somebody's existing resources and attributes, because we're looking at, you know, why this happened? If it's a trauma, the source of the trauma, negative emotions associated with that negative thoughts, how do you change a maladaptive thought like, it's all my fault? Let's, let's look at that thought and, and see what the evidence is against that thought. And that certainly has its place absolutely. And at the same time, I think we're missing an opportunity to create upward spirals. Barbara Fredrickson is a wonderful researcher in the area of positive emotions. And she has a theory called Broaden and Build. And essentially what, what that means is when you feel good in some way, it makes you more flexible, as a thinker, as a problem solver. And you're more likely then to think of new directions, new ideas, pull in more social resources into your life, spiritual, physical resources that are positive, and support your well being. And as a result of bringing in these other resources, you end up feeling more positive feelings, more positive emotions, and then those emotions opening you further. And so you see the positive feedback loop. And I think sometimes if we get, if we're too pathology, focused diagnosing, here's how you change or fix what's wrong, we may miss opportunities to capitalize on somebody's existing strengths, their their wonderful attributes.
Maya Acosta 13:35
That's a good point.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 13:36
Ya no I really liked that. I mean, that's why it did catch my ear, is it's not saying, Hey, we have to fix a particular problem. But let's build a you know, kind of build a better structure. And, and, and it sounds like the way you were describing it, it kind of is kind of exponential builds and grows, and it just keeps getting bigger and better.
Dr. Scott Glassman 13:54
I'll give you an example of you know what that might look like. In our program, in the second week, we have people talk about their successes, their accomplishments in life, as well. And they can be very small, an accomplishment, the way we see it, a small wind could be getting out of bed in the morning when you don't want to or cooking yourself a nice meal or nurturing yourself in some very small way. But that is a win and that that can be considered an accomplishment. When people together and we've noticed in our group share their accomplishments as well as their perceived character strengths, it really leads to this idea of a social spark of positivity that other people then begin to think about their successes, their accomplishments in a in a positive way in a validating way. It's an approach that's been looked at in positive family therapy called capitalization which is the celebration within the family system of what good things did you do what what were your accomplishments as a way of reorienting families and systems away from the negative ruminative who did what to me types of traps.
Maya Acosta 15:04
Dr. Glassman I feel like you're speaking my language in so many ways and that I can identify with some of the things that you've spoken about. I myself, was very interested in going into clinical psychology that was just something that started very early on in my own life in high school, I think that was when I had a counselor who was pulling me out of class once a week and offered a group support, setting it at a high school level. And this was many years ago, but I myself had a lot of childhood trauma, I definitely qualify under that ACES list. Well, I've had a history of different programs that I've tried. And coaching, the way that I'm approaching it now is really working for me. And it falls along the lines of what you're emphasizing positive psychology, focusing on the strengths, focusing on breathing, focusing on gratitude, all the other things that we can pull from, rather than going down that spiral, like you said, focusing on the things that have kept us kind of stuck.
Dr. Scott Glassman 16:05
Yeah, thank you for sharing that Maya, because it really points to something I haven't talked about yet which which is so key to me, personally, as a psychologist and in the program of happier you, which is mindfulness, which is our what is our ability to pay attention to the present moment of our experience and as like a kind of observer, as a gentle, curious observer to whatever is happening within ourselves and outside of ourselves. And why that's been so important for me in 2004, I was in a car accident, rear ended and began experiencing really debilitating back pain. Never had experienced anything like that before, and was becoming quite depressed around it and not really sure kind of where to turn because that I wasn't getting a lot of answers from, from doctors about what what could be done. I found Jon Kabat Zinn's book Wherever You Go, There You Are, and discovered mindfulness. And the idea that mindfulness, that we can change our relationship to difficult experiences by holding it in a compassionate, kind, attentional cocoon was revolutionary for me, and really began to show me that I can change my own physical suffering by using this capacity of a different capacity of attention. And since that point, I became interested in how can you use mindfulness a little bit more directively? Can we use the same capacity to expand present moments by aiming the spotlight on good things that happen to us holding it's I like the analogy of holding a firefly in your hand. That could be a good moment, somebody said something really nice to you that you weren't expecting, held the door open for you. It could be anything really that happens in your life? And can you turn it over and see the light of that and be filled with the good feelings that you're worthwhile that the world is a positive place and all of the other good thoughts that could come along with asking yourself gentle questions about a single moment in a mindful way? What was I hearing, were there birds singing, was it sunny out, like as we explore the the sensory landscape of what that moment is, the more we do that, the more we're building those positive upward spirals that Barbara Fredrickson talks about. So that is the core skill that we teach in A Happier You in the first week is how to use mindfulness, and then pivot to using it in a way that's not just every looking at everything, but then bringing magnifying the best of who we are the best of what happens to us in a very intentional way.
Maya Acosta 19:09
When we're caught up emotionally in a moment, and we're overwhelmed by that emotion and it feels chaotic, you need that something that will help you ground. And it sounds like the tools that you're offering it are exactly that in that moment where can you find beauty? Or can you do a breathing exercise or be a little bit more present so that you're not overwhelmed by the emotion and I'd love for you to kind of talk a little bit more about positive psychology. But before I do that, I just kind of wanted to do a little bit of the definition of motivational interviewing because I love to promote lifestyle medicine. So according to the handbook Dr. Beth Frates Handbook on Lifestyle Medicine, she says that motivational interviewing is a critical technique that lifestyle medicine practitioners need to master. In general MI as you've said, is defined as a collaborative conversation style for strengthening an individual's motivation and commitment to change. But yeah, basically, it's you're working closely with an individual to create positive change. And can you explain also what positive psychology means? Because it's really perspective, but also choice words, right?
Dr. Scott Glassman 20:23
Absolutely. So, positive psychology. And I'll come back to motivational interviewing too, because that is so central to lifestyle change, and gives us the tools as practitioners to be, I think of great help to people. Positive Psychology is the study of human flourishing. It's the study of how we can become our best selves. And anything that goes into our strengths, our good experiences, creating wellness, accentuating and enhancing what we attributes that we already have within us, versus having more of a deficit, focus or problem oriented focus. So that's how I would define positive psychology. It's looking at how can we be? How can we live optimally? How can we grow in in the best way possible. And motivational interviewing has the same spirit to it. Because when you sit with somebody, and you are listening carefully, and empathizing with, where they're coming from, if they're struggling, let's say with quitting smoking, for instance, and, you know, I began my motivational interviewing, work with adolescents at the Children's Hospital Philadelphia and helping them cut back or quit smoking. And when you're sitting with somebody who's struggling with such a, such an addictive behavior, the idea that you're not pressuring them, or not trying to force them to do anything that they're not ready to do, you're respecting their freedom of choice, their autonomy is a powerful way of saying that, I trust that you have everything within you already, to make healthy changes in your life, it's about discovering why you might want to do that, and how you might think of doing that on your on your own. And certainly as an as an expert in health behavior change, I might have some ideas, but what's most important is what's going to be the best fit in your life, for making those changes. And I just think that's such a, I, in my book, A Happier You, I call it the flower philosophy of change. And the reason I call it that is that, if you think about the seed of a flower, it had that seed has everything in it already to become that beautiful bloom. But what does it need, it needs the right conditions around it, it needs the soil, it needs the sunlight, it needs the rain, in order to bloom, to grow. And we do that when we sit with others, we create those nurturing conditions through through our interactions through our conversation through our, our unconditional positive regard, through our empathy, through our acceptance, through our affirmation through deep validation and care and love. It's really a kind of love, that you sit with somebody in that way non-possessive love. So you're not trying to impose your own ideas of where, where you think somebody should go. It's all about helping somebody become an explorer within themselves, a discover of what's best for them.
Maya Acosta 23:34
It's what you talked about is really self-empowerment, right? Like empowering the individual, just like you said, like everything that has seed, everything that we we need to overcome and to be successful and to move forward is found within us and you yourself help find a healthy individual find that discover. I like the idea of being an explorer.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 23:59
This is very interesting stuff because as a surgeon who treats diseases that are very much lifestyle related. And I operate on patients and fix their blood vessels and and then traditionally, we would just tell him, okay, you need to stop smoking, you need to eat right and exercise. Okay, see in three months, and three months later, they're not doing any of that. And you know that it my exposure to some of the different approaches came through lifestyle medicine, in motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and I find myself a much more compassionate physician now with them and my approach is a little is very different. It's not a little different. It's very different. I in trying to engage them to be partners in their own health. And unfortunately, I don't get to spend the kind of time with them as a surgeon. Their visits are very short and we will talk about things and but we do address these lifestyle issues. And these are nice techniques and something that I wish I can incorporate more of, into my practice.
Dr. Scott Glassman 25:06
I love that you said that you, you embrace compassion because people change or want to change in the context of compassionate relationships. They we we want to change with our health care providers by our side as companions versus from a hierarchical or patriarchal perspective, top down perspective. So that that really struck a chord in me, and that the idea of telling somebody what to do versus listening to what they're ready to do. And there's a there's a very big difference between the two. And as you've pointed out, Dr. Riz that telling somebody what to do oftentimes backfires because they haven't felt understood, and they haven't felt cared for in the relationship.
Maya Acosta 25:54
You know, Dr. Glassman, now that we're talking about this, Dr. Riz was saying that it's difficult for us to devote time to patients, especially people that have advanced cases and may not be as open. So we have found that the podcast gives us a pod, a platform so that individuals in their own time can listen in on this content, can you give us a glimpse about your book, we've had the opportunity to look through it as well. But can you tell our listeners what to expect when they sign up or purchase your book and you say this coming out in November?
Dr. Scott Glassman 26:29
Yes, coming out in November, but you can pre order it now off of off of my website. But let me talk about the the program. It's a seven week program. And we take the best evidence-based areas from the field of positive psychology. And each week focus on a different one of those areas as a skills training approach to well being and happiness. And we begin in week one, I'll just kind of outline the program a bit. In week one, helping people reorient themselves to what's good that's happening in their lives during the week. So we would ask people to just write down or catch in some other way, something good that happens to them. Could be anything could be related to work, or family or something else, really anything at all, and begin to pay attention in in a very in-depth way to what happens by asking themselves deep dive questions. What was I doing in that moment? What was I thinking? What was I feeling? And this is this spotlighting process is based in that mindfulness that we were talking about. And we then jump into week two, after having help somebody practice those skills of shifting their attention to the good things in themselves in life, to looking at what are their unique strengths, and what are their accomplishments. And after week two, we move into gratitude, there's a good deal of evidence that gratitude practice can enhance both our emotional well being, as well as our physical well being, we may be more likely to sleep better have more energy, as a result of practicing gratitude. We may you know, also thinking about our relationships, they may be stronger as we express thanks and get in touch with the gifts in life from a fullness mindset versus a deficit mindset. Then from week three, we move into lightness, humor, playfulness. So the lighter side of life has a lot of health benefits. Dr. Riz you probably know this, for from your own practice and expertise, but that when we laugh, our hearts work better. You know, we also can extend our lives longevity is of impacted by how much we're able to laugh, our immune functioning can be improved from laughter So we help people access the lighter side of being in week and week four. And then moving into week five, we talk about enjoyable and meaningful activities. So kind of what fills your days that gives you joy, or brings meaning or both. Are there ways that you feel you are connected with your values and how you are aligned with what you do every day and your relationships. And week Six, we enter the realm of kindness. She again has an emerging evidence-base that when we help others, it's good for our social well-being it's good for our emotional lives. It's good for our physical, our physical lives as well. And finally, in week seven, we turn to love and thinking of deep caring, how can we help people expand the boundaries of love. Channeling love toward people that you may have had some difficulty with is one of the exercises that we incorporate into into week seven, along with identifying an affections map. So there's so many prompts in our life that bring us feelings of deep caring could be a pet, could be something we were given that a photograph from long ago, there are portals into loving our loving nature. And really what underlies each one of these pathways, each of these seven pathways is love, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a force that holds us together. And we become our best selves. And we grow and flourish like we were talking about through motivational interviewing. By having that kind of unconditional caring, and fostering that and trying to make that grow versus a critical or, you know, negatively focused center of awareness and center of center of being. So we're really in A Happier You teaching skills. And we're also teaching a heart set and a mindset, which may be really different for, for some people who have been used to negative environments, used to the negativity effects where we're pulled in by who did what to me, and you know, who's to blame for this and looking at the news each night, you know, maybe a flood of negative news stories that just keep us trapped in that cycle. So one of the things I just would want to add to what our program is about, it's not about forced positivity, some people ask, well, you're just trying to tell me to be happy, and just saying, ignore all the negative stuff and the stress and, you know, not being respectful of past traumas. And that's not what we're saying at all. And, in fact, we welcome any kind of negative feeling that may arise during the course of that program, we would encourage participants to hold that within a compassionate loving space, as an observer, so using the mindfulness skill, to not add fuel to the fire, so to speak, but to allow that fire to die down to an amber. And at some point, asking, we encourage our participants to ask themselves a gentle question, is it is now the time to pivot? Or can I pivot to something that's related to a personal strength of mine? Can I find a personal strength in the trauma that I've overcome or the stressful event that's happening in my life? Maybe I pivot to gratitude, or maybe I pivot to watching a funny show. distraction, can be a wonder listening to music. So the pivot point is, we love the pivot points. But we also are deeply respectful to the fact that the full range of human experience incorporates the negative aspects and the positive aspects. We're not whole without, without both of those.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 32:42
It sounds like this is a, the approaches, you know, kind to use a common phrase, the glass is half full approach to life. But it doesn't mean that we don't experience the other things, and we just ignore it. Right. So I'm glad you address that. The other, there's something you talked about. And it made me think about the psychology of physical health. And that's really important to me, because I do deal with physical health, you know, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and I do I operate on a lot of patients, and I discussed with them about, or in general, my feeling is, um, there is a psychology to your health. And the stronger you are, psychologically, the happier you are, the more confident you are going into these things, the better your health is going to be. And health does affect your immune system, your recovery, it affects your mental health does affect so many aspects of your physical health.
Dr. Scott Glassman 33:44
And especially if you are struggling with chronic diseases, you know, chronic pain, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Jon Kabat Zinn really found some wonderful results of using mindfulness to help people reduce the severity of perceived pain and the dysfunction that that pain was causing in their lives, which is, which is pretty incredible that we can just through the power of helping somebody shift their attention to these positive pathways, that we are changing physiology, we're changing where there's a theory, Dr. Riz you're probably familiar with the Gate Control Theory of Pain, where we can close the gate of pain signals that are flowing upward to our brain by engaging in positive experiences. We're not we're kind of closing off the funnel of those signals from from our body, which is, which is incredible that we can do that.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 34:45
Yeah, it's I mean, I do believe in that in just my personal experience with so many different people and how they experience pain. You know, the same thing might be very painful to one person and not so painful for the other. That tells me there's something about the way people experience that pain that they can channel it in a different way, they can turn it off, or they can experience it differently. So the hardest part about that, to me is, how do you bottle it? You know, how do you quantify this, this qualitative and subjective thing? And how do you teach people to to manage it?
Dr. Scott Glassman 35:20
I'll give you a couple of examples that come to my mind. One was study that asked people to imagine a blue analgesic or numbing stream flowing through their body. And what they were asked to do was to direct that blue numbing stream to the place in their body that hurt the most. And they found just with this imagery exercise, that their ratings of how much pain there were in at that location significantly decreased. So and other other interventions have been white light. So it doesn't really quite matter what the specific image is, some people may not like a blue stream, or you know, a white light might be more appealing for others. It is the top down processing of imagery that changes the the sensory threshold for for individuals who cope with chronic pain. So I'm so glad that you brought that up. It's it's a really important area.
Maya Acosta 36:16
You mentioned the week, I think, is week three, when you cover the playfulness of it all. And I was thinking, you know, 2020, a lot of us forgot to be a little bit light. I mean, it was difficult for many of us to go through 2020. That aspect of being playful of laughing, of just allowing ourselves to just kind of let go of everything else. Can you talk about those physiological changes that happen when we allow ourselves to experience being in that mindfulness or gratitude or just playfulness? What is happening that immediately we see, we experienced physiological changes?
Dr. Scott Glassman 36:56
Just to linger a little bit on the lightness piece of it, the laughter piece of it, anytime that we can be playful during the pandemic, we've all been so isolated, and they're seeing absolutely Maya. So agree that we've had a lot of less opportunities to kind of spark our, our play for lighter side, there's been so many heavy things that we've had to contend with over the past year and a half. In my book, I talk a little bit about doing kind of a playfulness inventory, our humor inventory, as comprehensive as you can making lists of things that make you smile, that are amusing, that are playful, because a lot of times we've lost touch with what they are. And we just need a little bit of a structure around bringing the menu back. So what comedians do you like, what board games did you use to play maybe that you've you haven't played in years, perhaps, is there. And it's really interesting, because there was a researcher by the name of Robert Irvine, who studied humor and laughter, and basically followed people around with a tape recorder. And when they laughed, he would, he would record them laughing and kind of study the naturalistic properties of like, what what is the function of laughter. And he found it's, it's fascinating. The function of laughter and humor was to bond people together to connect us. It's kind of the social glue was one of the major major features that that he found. So in my book, I encourage people to think about other people that you tend to laugh with more often. And can you schedule opportunities to either you know, text or have a conversation or, you know, be in their physical presence, so that naturally, spontaneously, you may just laugh about something that happened during your week. And that's what Robert Irvine found is that people weren't laughing, because they're telling jokes. They were just laughing because they were explaining just something that happened to them that didn't seem like just funny on the face of it, but then they ended up laughing with a friend or acquaintance that they were talking to. So I think that's such a, such an important piece of, of what the our human nature is, it isn't all to be heavy, weighed down and serious things it is to play. It's there's a playful aspect of that, you know, I was watching a wonderful film called my octopus teacher. I'm not sure if either of you seen that,
Maya Acosta 39:22
oh, it's on Netflix.
Dr. Scott Glassman 39:23
There's a scene. It's about a naturalists Craig Foster's relationship with with a wild octopus that he encounters in South Africa and in the kelp forests. And he spent so much time in that environment and watching and participating in that ecosystem that he noticed one day the octopus was kind of close to the surface of the water and there was a school of fish and the octopus would send up a chemical and and scatter the the school of fish now the octopus would maybe eat fish. And he said, Well, maybe he's just, she's just trying to catch fish. It was a she trying to catch fish. But in reality, that wasn't the aggressive kind of predatory type of behavior that he had observed from her when she was actually hunting food. So he was left to conclude their ending, when you watch it on film, it's, it's very clear, the octopus is playing with the school of fish. And I think the same as is really true for us.
Maya Acosta 40:34
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 40:35
You know, we haven't talked about this, but I'm a big energy person. I like the energy that's in the room or the energy that a person has, I'd love to hear what you have to say about energy in general, you know, what are your thoughts on it?
Dr. Scott Glassman 40:47
So one of I would consider him one of my spiritual teachers, I haven't met him personally, but Eckhart Tolle talks a lot about the, the energy of presence, the energy of now and the merging into the present moment. And certainly, we can become aware of our wavelength, you know, are we in a negative emotional state, a neutral state or a positive state? And I think it comes back to and it also can be more the you may have some days, I would consider myself more of an introvert versus an extrovert. So some of us are energy tends to be really more of a solitude, type of energy are inward directed and other times for other people, it may be outward directed energy, and really people who need others to have their best kind of energetic field going. So I think it's really important, I think, even more important is to recognize what are my what wavelength Am I on? What frequency do I need to kind of vibrate at, in order to be my best self, my most authentic self and be closest to what I feel I need, if it's, you know, seeing people every day being super active out in the world going to concerts? Or is it you know, the Emily, Emily Dickinson being kind of solitude focused, artistic, really enjoying privacy, that kind of internal energy, which can also be very, very vibrant. It's not a difference of necessarily intensity, as it is kind of what's, what's the best fit for you.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 42:33
It sounds like you know, happiness is an individual thing. And it's different for every person. It's kind of then up to each person to try to find out what is important to them.
Dr. Scott Glassman 42:43
Absolutely and that's why I wanted to present not just a single pathway to happiness, but there, it's a menu. And somebody may go through A Happier You read the book and say, you know what, I really love week three, which focuses on gratitude, gratitude practices, the one pathway that I have to go to, every day I do or another person may read the book and find its personal strengths and successes. Maybe they've lived in, grew up in a household, which was very, you know, non recognizing of accomplishment and denigrating of one's ability. And so that pathway is particularly powerful for that person. Other people, humor lightness, so it's it really is individualized. And we can use combinations. And I think one of the most powerful things that we teach in our program, is the ability to flexibly shift among the areas depending on what we need for the day. Because all of those if you pass white light through a prism, you'll see that white light is composed of many different colors. And happiness I see is the same thing. And it's just about which colors do you want in this moment? Or which colors do of have happiness do you want to experience right now?
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 44:01
Do you know of studies or have you conducted any studies where you've put a group of people through programs like this, and and then been able to, in some way, measure the change in their happiness?
Dr. Scott Glassman 44:13
Yeah, so there are a number of meta analyses which look at positive psychology interventions PPI's and some, a lot of them are single component as what we found, you know, so it might be write a gratitude letter. And then it's kind of a pre post, you know, how does writing a gratitude letter and maybe sharing that letter effect mood and a number of other psychological variables. Other interventions are like Happier You are multicomponent and there's some evidence there's emerging evidence that having more components in your intervention more choices or more of a, you know, a stepwise protocol through different areas can have larger effects, but overall positive psychology is still, you know, an emerging evidentiary field right now we are studying A Happier You with medical students at PCOM and looking to see whether this, the social catalyst through these seven pathways of positivity and wellness and celebrating the good in life can affect levels of mood, optimism, quality of life, subjective happiness, and a number of other areas. So, still something that's being explored, I would say the areas that consistently seem to be getting more support would be gratitude related interventions. We've found some evidence too that what do people like about Happier You the most, many people say they love the gratitude component of of the program. But again, that you know, that definitely can vary.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 45:54
I'd hate to be the control group of those medical students. They'd be the ones not getting any, any benefits out of the study? What about charity, volunteering? Where does that fall in, in, in happiness, I hear a lot about giving, being of service can make you happier.
Dr. Scott Glassman 46:14
Yes. So there's evidence that helping others can help you feel calmer, have less depression, it's you can feel more energetic, if you help others. And helping actually can ignite the parts of our brain that are pleasure oriented centers. So there's something about that, to not being the recipient of the help but actually helping, which you might think the opposite like, if I'm, if I receive help, that that's going to feel better than actually volunteering or, or helping somebody. So I'm there I'm trying to think there's one study on of individuals with multiple sclerosis sclerosis, who when they helped others, they reported feeling better physically, which was, you know, really interesting. And so there is something you might, we don't maybe understand quite all of the mechanisms around giving of ourselves in that way. But I think it goes back to a basic human need from self determination theory. Self determination theory proposes that we have three basic human needs. One is autonomy to make our choices freely. One is relatedness, connecting to others in meaningful ways and caring ways. And I think it's that second need to connect with others, which helping really, we are interdependent, we are in this world, one large community, and we rely on one another, to for nurturance. Support emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially. So I'm really excited that that research is, is coming out, because maybe that will encourage more of us to get involved with volunteerism to, to just ask yourself each day, what's something I can give to others we and week six, and A Happier You. It's all about kindness, we focus exclusively on kindness, it's kind acts for others and kind, kindness towards yourself. One study, One study showed it didn't matter who you were kind to you, if you didn't, how closely you how close you were with the person that you were kind to didn't really have much of an effect. So the same power of being kind to a stranger, buying, buying them coffee, you know, and then then passing along that favor to other people can be an example of that, too.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 48:37
I find that an act of kindness towards the stranger sometimes has more of an impact psychologically, because you're kind of always kind to the people around you, the people you see daily, your family, your friends, but to step outside of your box or your circle and be kind to someone where there's absolutely no, there's not going to be any payback. There's no there's no obligation. And so you're doing it just for the note no other reason than to be kind, I find that to have more of a psychological impact.
Dr. Scott Glassman 49:06
And a physical impact because one study using MRI's, looked at the effect of surprised being surprised recipient, recipient of a gift of something good. And there were more there was more activation and nucleus accumbens and part of our brain. So it's just that pleasure center because it was a surprise, it was unexpected. So I think that there that there's that physiological correlate to what you're pointing out psychologically that happens if we can in Happier You, we tried to capitalize on that by having this activity where you hide kind notes somewhere in your house for people to find about them. So you like might open a cabinet and there's a posted that somebody you live with is put there as being just a compliment. And it's the surprise, right? That's that's using the evidence base of kindness, the physiological side of it, as well as the psychological side to strengthen relationships and to have those, what I like to call in what's been called literature, those light bulb moments, those light bulb emotional moments that really spread a sense of positivity well being further than some other moments in our day.
Maya Acosta 50:16
And the world can use a little bit more kindness.
Dr. Scott Glassman 50:19
If I could just spotlight just one quick thing about that Maya is the intention that you had within you the intention and the impulse to be kind and generous in that way. And from A Happier You perspective, from a spotlighting perspective, not so much that maybe it was a missed opportunity, but that you cultivated within yourself, that desire in that moment arose to intended action. And I'm guessing that that will come out more and more and where you do have the, the resources and the opportunity and the things around you to make that happen.
Maya Acosta 50:56
And this program that you put together, I love that you use the word menu, it's a menu, but you've put it all together for us to sit and do our own homework sort of and to put our list together of what works and what are our strengths and what brings, you know, how can we be more mindful? How can we be more playful? It we're putting it together like a recipe, like what you said, so that we can have this awareness in our lives on a regular basis. So maybe you can share with our listeners, what are your programs? How can they already pre-order your book and learn more about you, in general, like your Facebook, social media.
Dr. Scott Glassman 51:33
You can go to Scottglassman.com is my website. And if you click on the book link, you can preorder from bookshop.org, every pre-order, they donate some money to independent bookstores. And so we can support independent books, bookstores, across the country, through through that initiative, as well as coaching so I do offer coaching sessions, which you can find on my website as well. If you would love to follow me perhaps and get more tips around positivity and wellness and well-being happiness @ScottDavidglass is my Instagram, and my Twitter handles. So we'd love to connect with you, if you just want to DM me on Instagram, very open and loved loves to talk to anybody who's interested in positivity, happiness, lifestyle change, it's it's a passion of mine. And it connects me with with the world and doing my part as much as I can to help others realize them their best selves feels like it's become my mission from when I was very young. It's like that it was in the seed. And now I feel so fortunate to, to be on your podcast today to kind of share that that flourishing in my own life. So I feel very fortunate for both of you. on my end Dr. Riz for, you know, for the time that we've had together today in the conversation. It's been wonderful.
Maya Acosta 52:54
Yes. And same here. I mean, this is what we want to promote as well. This is what we'd like for people to feel empowered on how they can create change.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 53:03
You know, I want to thank you, I've really enjoyed this. I think our audience is really going to enjoy this. Yes. It's going to stimulate people's
Dr. Scott Glassman 53:11
The more we can create these kinds of events to raise awareness about how we all can contribute to personal well-being and social well-being and well being in our communities is so it's so needed right now. We need that more than ever. So yes.
Dr. Scott Glassman 53:24
All right. Well, thank you very much. Thank you so much and best wishes to you both good health to you.Take care.
Maya Acosta 53:31
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