Marshmallows and Employee Wellness

Marshmallows and Employee Wellness
by Annette Gelhar
Remember all the recent studies about kids who are able to delay gratification in order to get an extra marshmallow, cookie or other treat? They go something like this: Children between the ages of about 3 and 8 are invited to choose whether to accept a treat right away or hold off for an extra minute or two in order to get 2 treats. Findings from these studies corroborate that the kids who choose to wait for twice the reward are also more successful later in life. Apparently, the self-discipline to delay gratification results in even greater rewards in adulthood.
Come to think of it, life is like that. Everywhere we turn, human behavior that results in an easy payoff or immediate comfort turns out to be untrue, impractical, morally unacceptable or downright harmful. Think slavery, smoking, fossil fueled vehicles, Bernie Madoff, credit card debt, grain-fed beef, and on and on.
Turns out even our treasured multi-tasking has been outed as a fraud. The frenetic behavior that made us feel smugly like card-carrying members of a technologically advanced culture, really isn’t that cool. We don’t multi-task—it’s not possible. We simply flip ever more quickly between multiple tasks, never mind effectiveness or personal wellbeing.
The “gotta have my marshmallow now” mindset carries particularly unfortunate consequences in business. Employers are conditioned to value earnings and ROI above all else. If some part of their business isn’t in line with that thinking, it’s replaced. Happy stockholders and holistic business decisions that don’t blossom into money trees overnight really don’t mix.
Some folks have gotten the evolutionary lesson though, and are taking roads less traveled for a more effective, long-term business outcome. One of the top examples of workplace wellness is the Googleplex in Santa Clara County, California, where Google employees enjoy recreational facilities once the exclusive domain of high-priced resorts: a gym, two swimming pools, and a sand-volleyball court.
Some smaller employers have now started setting incredible examples for their colleagues by taking the time to listen to their own common sense. They’re taking a look around at all the disjointed, quick-fix bandaids and contests passing for employee wellness initiatives and instead dedicating themselves to corporate wellness programs that approach people as the amazing, complex creatures they are. They’re looking at integrative health models and truly investing in their people, knowing the “two marshmallows” will be more than worth the wait.
Currently, workplaces are heavy with wellness programs no one will participate in without heavy monetary “incentives.” This sets up expectations for more of the same, and makes the employer with the most money able to lure the best people away with more generous monetary kickbacks. Have these employers moved the needle in terms of enlightening people on the need to take more responsibility for their own wellbeing? Have they decreased claims or premiums or increased productivity? Not a bit.
On the other hand, when you provide people programs that educate and support them to develop into their best selves you get employee loyalty, top performance and a reputation of being a great place to work. Oh, and primarily, people who now take responsibility for their health and due to their heightened understanding can be truly instrumental in turning our embattled healthcare system around. Will claims and premiums decrease and profits increase? What else could possibly result?
Disclaimer: Rarely will there be first-year ROI with this whole-person approach. But it’s pretty clear that, once implemented, the marshmallows will multiply exponentially. Here’s hoping more middle and small firms recognize these benefits and take the time to implement employee wellness programs that work.

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New ebook “The Complete Breath” by Jim Morningstar

Cover photo by Ari David Rosenthal ©Copyright 2010

For the serious seeker of free breathing…

This book is an encyclopedia of contemporary breathwork theory and practice by current luminaries in the field. Breath is the foundation for all life processes. To breathe well is to live well. In this book we will explore and learn the complete breath. This is a metaphor for the complete life – an existence marked by inner balance, outer poise and gratifying accomplishment.

The book’s purpose is to educated the public as well as professionals such as respiratory therapists, medical doctors, mental health clinicians, etc to the growing art and science of Breathwork. The book expands awareness and validates the potency of Breathwork as a healing modality. It has both practical appeal with exercises and stories of breathwork’s use as well as theoretical background and research.

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Another Inconvenient Truth?

by Annette Gelhar

There’s a statement that’s been buzzing around my brain for—years! EATING IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT. I believe our western society has slowly but surely become confused on this issue. Yes, we have over-consumption of meats, fats, sugars, processed mumbo-jumbo, high-fructose corn syrup and other stuff to blame for a multitude of ills, but there’s also THAT ATTITUDE.

What ever happened to “Honey, let’s go dancing this weekend?” Or, “Let’s go to a concert,” or bowling, hiking, visiting, etc. etc. Now it’s “Let’s go out to eat.” And if what we’re eating doesn’t deliver a mind-blowing jolt of flavor and look like a Mondrian on our plates, we’ve been short-changed. We’re not living “the good life.”

I just saw the movie “Forks Over Knives” last weekend. It makes the point that poor health can be prevented and/or reversed simply by diet. It lays it all out, from the huge China Study that conclusively links the western diet to chronic conditions to the government supporting the beef and dairy industry with propaganda about the need to eat meat for protein and dairy for calcium.

For the past six years, I’ve been eating a macrobiotic diet as a substitute for the standard chemo and radiation I was prescribed after breast cancer diagnosis. I took control. I dropped 30 pounds, and I’ve never been in better shape, from my gums, to my skin, right down to my colonoscopies.

My friends are curious. I’ve given several presentations about the diet. So why don’t I have more dinner parties to share my amazing little “secret”? Because I know most people will think the dishes I prepare are bland, leave out scary amounts of key nutrients, are an exercise in deprivation, are too difficult to cook or all of the above.

The meals are in fact, very easy and basic. I do remember the day I reorganized my kitchen to accommodate my new lifestyle. I went cold turkey. Out went the boxes of mac and cheese, the cereals, the ketchup, the soda, the frozen dinners and pizza. The grains and other dried foods fit into one cupboard, and the rest would be fresh produce in the fridge every day or so. I followed council of the US master of macrobiotics, Michio Kushi.

At first, my hands hurt from washing and chopping so much produce. I was washing pots and pans all the time. I had to plan for an extra half-hour to prepare my lunches (my choice) because I would no longer be “nuking” a frozen entrée or leftovers. Then there were the little nuggets of wisdom to integrate about all my new foods: eat indigenous produce, miso should be fermented at least a year, always rinse your rice, if you cook with kombu don’t add salt, stay away from nightshade vegetables, and so on.

Now I feel like Tom Cruise in the movie “Cocktail.” I can whip up a delicious meal from scratch without breaking a sweat. And speaking of sweat, I’ve doubled my old routine at the gym before I hit my old heart rate. I crave my new menu, and look forward to what I’ll make for breakfast to start each new day. And I’m continually frustrated when I hear about folks who just can’t seem to get away from their doctors’ offices or their expensive meds. What’s your idea of hardship—being sick, worried and paying your doctor, or taking charge and devoting more energy to creating your own wellbeing?

But that’s just my story. I’m not advocating the macro approach for everyone. Along with the “downsizing” of consumption and lifestyle brought on by the recession, there’s been a great deal of interest in “eating clean,” the “plant-based diet,” and the writings of Michael Pollen and Barbara Kingsolver. I’m waiting for the day that a trim and slim Paula Dean shows people how to make dishes for a plant-based diet. Just a good way to eat, not instructions for how to be the talk of your community by the weird food combinations you cook.

Our bodies are designed for wellness. All we have to do is help them along. You wouldn’t fill your gas tank with motor oil would you? Our bodies need real food, not chemistry. Go see “Forks Over Knives” and live simply and well, like nature intended.

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Innovations in Self-Healing

Innovations in Self-Healing

Norm Shealy, MD, PhD

Christine Hibbard, PhD

The Shift Network presents in partnership with the Institute of Noetic Sciences

The Next Evolution of Healthcare: Optimal wellness for you and our world

Hear Norm and Christine share a wealth of information on the latest non invasive healing techniques for some of the most serious disease challenges in our country. Learn about the four essential health practices and the self healing science of auto genetic training.

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Harnessing the Heart’s Power to Heal

Harnessing the Heart’s Power to Heal

Bruce Cryer

The Shift Network presents in partnership with the Institute of Noetic Sciences

The Next Evolution of Healthcare: Optimal wellness for you and our world

Hear Bruce Cryer, one of the originators of Heart Math, share some of the research based techniques which have brought healing programs to numerous clinics and hospitals around the country, helping prevention of heart disease through breathing and gratitude exercises.

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Good Healthy Fun!

Good Healthy Fun!

Share your “Inspirational Incident,” “Healthy LIving Tip” and/or “Good Humored Story” with others by clicking on a category and then “Leave a Reply” with your sharing. Through sharing we grow from the grace given each one of us. Your willingness to share is a positive contribution to the world we choose to create together.

Reply to a sharing posted. Let us know how this sharing positively impacted you. This builds on the energy and generates more inspiration for us all.Your sharings will be posted within 24 hours. Each month the sharings in each category with the most replies to it will be archived in our monthly Interactive Sharings.

Share your “Inspirational Incident”

Share your “Healthy Living Tips”

Share your “Good Humored Story”

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The Power of Lifestyle Changes

The Shift Network presents in partnership with the Institute of Noetic Sciences

The Next Evolution of Healthcare: Optimal wellness for you and our world

The Power of Lifestyle Changes

Dean Ornish, MD

Hear Dean Ornish, MD, recount the miraculous effects research is showing as a result of a simple lifestyle change program and the even more miraculous results of his decade long efforts to get congress to approve payment for this program through Medicare.

Posted in Audio offerings, Interviews, Wellness leaders | 3 Comments

Burning Up or Burning Out?: Inspiration, Health, and Living a Bright Life

Burning Up or Burning Out?: Inspiration, Health, and Living a Bright Life

Joan Borysenko, PhD

Bernie Siegel, MD

The Shift Network presents in partnership with the Institute of Noetic Sciences

The Next Evolution of Healthcare: Optimal wellness for you and our world

Hear two of the most well known integrative healers share there techniques for keeping caregivers fresh and vital in their work. They eloquently present with humor and heart, while citing some overwhelming facts on how the patient/doctor relationship is the medicine.

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February/March InWellnessToday eNews

View our February/March issue of InWellnessToday eNews and Community Calendar.

Enjoy articles:

8 Reflections on Self-Responsibility and Love

Former Construction Contractor Now Focuses on Inner Structures – Get Centered

How Sexy Are You?

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Contribute to Reflections on Wellness with Deb Karpek

Your Thoughts?

If you would like to share your thoughts and have them included in the next issue of “Reflections on Wellness with Deb Karpek” please send them to Deb at by the 15th of the month. It is our intention to make this column informative, inspirational and fun! Keep it short (200 words or less), don.t think too much and write from your heart! Let’s share our thoughts and habits and learn from one another.

Next Issue will focus on “Self-Responsibility and Love.” Reflections on this topic from our assessment tool, the Wellness Inventory:

“Wellness is like a bridge supported by two piers. Each pier is crucial to the bridge’s integrity just as the two principles of self-responsibility and love are fundamental to the process of wellness. In each case, the piers support a connection between two separate places, allowing for movement back and forth. This freedom to move between different places or attitudes, rather than rigid attachment to any particular one, is the hallmark of wellness. Self-responsibility and love are primary expressions of life energy. Together, they form the foundations of wellness, and encourage the free flow of all other types of energy. If either principle (or pier) is weakened, living harmoniously (or traversing the bridge) becomes more difficult. When both are strong, energy dances back and forth, and the crossing is easy.

Self-Responsibility Means:

  • Discovering your real needs, and finding ways to meet them directly
  • Realizing that you are unique and the expert about yourself, and
  • Expressing yourself, both your ideas and feelings, in ways that effectively communicate to other people who you are, what you need, and what you know.

Love Means:

  • Listening to your own heart—treasuring your uniqueness and your inner wisdom
  • Experiencing yourself as your own best friend, and remaining faithful to yourself, especially in the rough times, and
  • Realizing your connectedness with all things.

With love and self-responsibility as the foundations of our being, living and wellness are synonymous.

Wellness is a dynamic process because there are seeming contradictions to be resolved, apparent oppositions to be integrated, infinite shades of gray from which to choose. Even though you are connected with everyone else, you are also very much alone, and singularly must make your own life and death decisions. This section explores how to live your life with self-responsibility and love, so that any burdens can be transformed into opportunities, and questions become the impetus for experimentation, for learning, for trusting, and for loving this magnificent and paradoxical creation—yourself.”

He not busy being born is busy dying.
- Bob Dylan

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