Science-backed Tools to Dial-down Stress | Dr. Jenny Taitz

Jenny TaitzStress is a part of life. No way around it. But, it doesn’t have to own your life, IF you understand how to work with it. In fact, when we really get what’s happening when stress shows up, given the right tools and mental frames, it can even become an ally and source of energy. You can actually learn how to reset your system in the face of stress and come back to a place of calm and ease.

My guest today is Dr. Jenny Taitz, a clinical psychologist with decades of experience helping clients navigate stress, overcome burnout, and tap into resilience. She’s also an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA and the author of the new book Stress Resets: How to Soothe Your Body and Mind in Minutes.

In our conversation, Jenny shares insights from the latest research and her clinical practice on how we can reframe our mindset around stress to thrive in the face of life’s challenges. Rather than seeing stress as an enemy to be avoided, she explains how embracing it as an opportunity for growth creates a virtuous upward spiral.

Jenny reveals simple but powerful techniques you can use in minutes to recalibrate your thoughts, emotions, and physiology so you can meet any demand with agency and purpose. We explore tools like loving-kindness meditation to start your day centered, doing brief “chain analyses” to understand and short-circuit stress triggers, and leveraging social connections for support.

If you feel trapped in fight-or-flight mode, defeated by pressures big and small, or are simply seeking more purpose and calm amid life’s chaos, this conversation will equip you with science-backed strategies to rewrite your stress story and live aligned with your deepest values. Get ready to transform your relationship with stress and anxiety as you learn to tap into the strength within.

You can find Jenny at: Website | Instagram | Episode Transcript

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photo credit: Dawn Bowery

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Episode Transcript:

Jenny Taitz: [00:00:00] Stress is not a bad thing. Stress is the price we pay for a life that matters to us. There’s no avoiding stress. If you had a life that was devoid of stress, it would probably be really boring and disconnected from reality. And so stress is inevitable. Stress means that we’re facing the things that matter to us. We’re pursuing things that are meaningful, even exciting. I don’t want to minimize or sugarcoat this. Of course, there are people that are facing stress. That’s really difficult. Peace of mind is not life feeling easy, but it’s knowing that you can cope regardless of what shows up in your life. There is such freedom and liberation that comes from knowing that you can choose your behaviors regardless of how you’re feeling and what is coming up for you.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:00:41] So here’s the truth stress is just a part of life. There is literally no way around it, but it doesn’t have to own your life if you understand how to work with it. In fact, when we get what’s really happening, when stress shows up, given the right tools and mental frames, it can even become an ally or a source of energy. You can actually learn how to reset your system in the face of stress and come back to a place of calm and ease. And my guest today, Dr. Jenny Taitz, is a clinical psychologist with decades of experience helping clients navigate stress, overcome burnout, and tap into resilience. She’s also an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA and the author of the new book, Stress Resets How to Soothe Your Body and Mind in Minutes, which I think we all would love to learn how to do so. In our conversation, Jenny shares insights from the latest research and also her own clinical practice, and how we can reframe our mindset around stress to thrive in the face of a lot of life’s challenges. So rather than seeing stress as an enemy to be avoided, she really explains how embracing it as an opportunity for growth can create this virtuous upward spiral. Jenny reveals simple but powerful techniques that you can use in minutes to recalibrate your thoughts, your emotions and physiology so you can meet any demand with agency and purpose. And we explore tools like loving Kindness meditation to start your day centered, doing what she calls a brief quote chain analysis, which I found really fascinating to understand, and short circuit stress triggers and leveraging social connections for support. So if you feel trapped in fight or flight mode, defeated by big pressures, or are simply seeking more purpose and calm and made life’s chaos, this conversation will equip you with science-backed strategies to rewrite your stress story and live aligned with your deepest values. So really, get ready to transform your relationship with stress and anxiety as you learn to tap into a lot of inner strength around it. So excited to share this conversation with you! I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:02:55] Excited to dive in. You have been in clinical practice for long enough to see a lot of different, sort of like seasons of life and a lot of different people moving through seasons of life and more, sort of like larger scale what’s happening in culture. And you’ve written about different elements of what we experience, and stress is really the focus of your newest work and your newest book, The Stress Resets. A good starting point is really to understand when we’re talking about stress, what are we actually talking about?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:03:22] When we’re talking about stress, we’re talking about the kind of the mismatch between the demands that we’re facing and our resources. It’s those moments when you think it’s too much. I can’t you feel like the treadmill is just going too fast and there’s no no easily getting off. That being said, there are there’s so much that we can do. And one of the reasons I’m passionate about stress as a topic is because if we intervene early, it’s almost like preventative medicine. We prevent stress from spiraling into issues with anxiety and depression as we know it does when it’s left untreated.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:03:57] Yeah. So some of the words that you were just using to describe stress, it makes me wonder, do people always actually use the word stress when they’re experiencing stress? Or does this show up in sort of like by with other words like overwhelm or things like that?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:04:12] Yeah. Overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted. There are a lot of different words people use, but it usually describes some sort of mismatch between what you’re facing and your perceived ability to cope with it.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:04:24] Got it. Is stress always a bad thing is I guess, another big question of mine. You know, I remember reading the research on, I guess, sort of like where they bifurcate stress into what they, quote, call good stress and bad stress. Talk me through this a little bit.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:04:40] Stress is not a bad thing. Stress is the price we pay for a life that matters to us. There’s no avoiding stress. If you had a life that was devoid of stress, it would probably be really boring and disconnected from reality. And so stress is inevitable. Stress means that we’re facing the things that matter to us. We’re pursuing things that are meaningful, even exciting. I don’t want to minimize or sugarcoat this. Of course, there are people that are facing stress that’s really difficult, whether that’s taking care of a loved one that’s going through something or going through a period of unemployment or relationship difficulty or parenting difficulties. But there’s believing stress is bad for you, is bad for you. That is actually associated with premature mortality really significantly, studies have found, in looking at like 28,000 people, that believing stress is bad for you actually predicts dying from stress-related causes by 43%. And so stress in itself isn’t bad. And actually a lot of interventions that work really well for stress improve our stress mindset. The belief that we can grow like just because something’s really difficult doesn’t mean we can’t continue to evolve and face it strategically. And also, all those interventions also include really working on our physical appraisal of stress. Really. There’s a chapter in my book called Turning Your Knots into Bows and really seeing like what your body is doing, like, actually like your stomach feeling a little uncomfortable during a big opportunity doesn’t mean that your body is working against you. It means that your body is really working for you, and the ability to reappraise stress and your body’s stress response and your ability to cope are really imperative. And that’s not to say I’m encouraging that people go overboard and take on stress that they don’t need to take on or become really perfectionistic, but life is stressful, and trying to make it less stressful is is not really aligned with probably your life purpose.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:06:37] Yeah. I mean, that’s so interesting because it seems like a lot of people do wake up in the morning and a big part of their goal is, you know, how do I remove stress? How do I make it through the day with as little as humanly possible? It sounds like what you’re describing is, sure, maybe we can actually remove some stresses and maybe some isn’t, you know, like necessary. But if you think back to the way you described it in the beginning of our conversation, you know, it’s almost like there’s something that you perceive that needs to be done or something coming your way or something that happens, but you also don’t feel equipped or resourced to be able to actually handle that. You know, it’s it’s not necessarily the fact that there’s something out there that’s causing some level of stress, which actually is the negative part of it. It’s it seems like it’s the other part, which is the really the bigger issue, the feeling that you’re not equipped to deal with it and that that experience. And then as you described, your belief about your inability to handle it creates this spiral that just sort of like really gives it that feeling that we all experience as, oh, this is bad.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:07:38] Yeah. And you’re perfectly summing up the kind of the model that I talk about as what takes something difficult and makes it really stressful and overwhelming. And so the combination of facing something, getting lost in mired in really negative thoughts and. Then trying to avoid, because starting your day with a goal of eliminating stress means you’re probably procrastinating checking out. And those things are like high-interest credit cards. I mean, short-term easy, long-term, why the hell did I do this? And yeah, this this constant goal of checking out or making things better in the short term can really affect us in long-term ways. And so thinking more flexibly like this doesn’t need to be perfect. And also, no, this isn’t too much like I can do this for a set period of time. I can deal with this really difficult thing, like learning to cheer ourselves on and lean in and strategically face, rather than make things so much harder for ourselves and back out in ways that totally derail us from its from our life goals.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:08:42] Yeah, that makes so much sense. You know, as you’re speaking. Also, your thoughts on the way that our belief about stress becomes this compounding factor and literally affects our health and well-being outcomes. It sounds similar to me also too. I remember when I was reading some of the the sort of like early research on self-regulation or willpower, and they’re like describing this as a depletable resource, like you kind of start your day with your tank full and you end your day with not a whole lot left. And then there was a follow on research that showed that, no, actually, the more accurate thing was that your belief about whether it’s a depletable resource or not is much more determinative of whether it is, which I think so often we discount our beliefs about these experiences as just really important contributors. And that probably also would lead to that sense of a lack of control because like, you know, if we don’t believe it’s in our control, then it effectively isn’t. But if we shift that belief, then we’re really bringing it back in, even though that sounds a little bit woo and out there, but it sounds like the data really supports that.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:09:49] Yes. And the same holds true when it comes to managing emotions. If we believe we can manage them, we can. There’s really meaningful research around that. And I think the same is so true for everything, like believing whether or not we believe that our thoughts are things that we must listen to at all times, versus a lot of times being able to see them easily as spam. And so our kind of our meta cognitions and our beliefs about our ability to manage our emotions are so vital. And and this is something I certainly want people to really think about, because going through your life, hindered by core beliefs of I can’t cope and the world is too much for me, will really become a negative, self-fulfilling prophecy. And instead of trying to convince yourself otherwise, I think really just noticing that thoughts are just thoughts and we can choose our behaviors and then our behaviors will change our our reality and our inner narrative.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:10:41] Yeah, that makes so much sense. On your website, you actually have you have a stress calculator. And so I went through and I answer the questions, I think there were about a dozen questions, if I remember correctly. I was really curious to see my score because as I’m reading through the questions, I’m like, huh? Realizing that really in the last handful of months, there have been a lot of sort of circumstances that you would expect to lead to fairly high levels of stress. You know, some of the questions were things like, you know, over the last month, how have you been or how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly? Or how often have you felt that you were unable to control important things in your lives? And it was interesting for me because I got down to the bottom and my score was actually pretty low for stress. And I think it really reinforced what you’re saying here, which is that while I objectively was able to identify a whole bunch of circumstances where I felt like they, quote should have been high-stress events, and a lot of those circumstances, I felt like I had some level of agency in the process, like I had some ability to control my response to it, and I’m guessing that’s probably why I actually scored fairly low, while if I sat across from a dinner table from you and sort of like listed out the things that have dropped into my work and life in the last three months, you would have been like, wow! That sounds super stressful.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:12:00] Totally. And for people listening, the measure is called the Perceived Stress Scale, which is one of the most widely used ways to assess stress. And as the title alludes to, it’s a lot about perception and a lot about believing that you can cope. And again, this really speaks to the role of of course, we can’t choose the things that show up in our lives, but we can choose our response. And that makes a tremendous difference in how things play out for us. And one of the reasons that I include this on my, on my website is not to stress people out, but because I really value people’s time. And I also really value providing evidence-based tools. And so I want people who read the book to actually feel like their ability, their perceived stress score is going down because they’re more able to cope with the stressors in their lives.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:12:47] And also it gives some level of objectivity to, I mean, granted, you know, like your answers to the questions have got to be subjective because it’s based on. Your own experience, but it kind of gives you this like relatively a score at the end where you can. I feel like you can use that as a baseline or a benchmark, and maybe you try some of the interventions that we’ll dive into in three months later, you come back and sort of retest. And I’m curious whether you see that happening with people, you know, like where they’re able to effectively change their score over time through different techniques.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:13:18] Absolutely. Jonathan, so much of my practice with clients is having them measure things like depression, anxiety, positive emotions, anger, guilt, and seeing whether or not those improve with use of skills. Because one of the things that drives me crazy is someone telling me something like, oh, my doctor said I’m doing better, but I’m not feeling better, and I want there to be some sort of scientific way to gauge that rather than someone that, you know, is just speculating. And I also just want to normalize that. It’s there. Things happen to us, right? You could face a devastating loss or something really unexpected that could affect your score. So it’s not a saying that you’re not doing this good enough. If there are things that are affecting circumstances that are understandably affecting your life. But I want people to to know that there are ways to truly test out in the same way that you want to know. If you know you’re you’re budgeting correctly, you certainly deserve to have the same clarity and precision when you’re looking at how you’re coping. Yeah.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:14:20] You describe and you actually referenced a little bit earlier, some of the ways that we often cope or we try and deal with the experience, the feeling of stress in our lives. Take me through that a little bit more. What are some of the common sort of go-to’s for people that we default to, but maybe also aren’t as helpful as we think, and maybe even actually they’re not helpful. And and the opposite.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:14:44] What I’ve seen time and time again, and what I also can personally relate to, is when something upsetting happens to us, it’s human nature, unfortunately, to start ruminating, replaying, analyzing, not being able to put it down. Asking other people what they think. Venting, texting about it. So I think part of the ways we cope with things that are upsetting to us is overplaying them and trying to think our way out of them, and then also to do things to try to escape, which is understandable if you feel like you are, can’t stop thinking about it and you’re really tense and your body’s doing things you don’t like. It’s only human to want to make uncomfortable thoughts and feelings go away. But I really want to help people along the the trajectory to learn how to prevent themselves from multiplying stress with their minds, and also not letting stress create long-standing consequences. You know, it’s so easy to imagine something annoying happens at work, and then you send an aggressive text to your spouse, and then not only do you have a problem at work, you have a problem at home. And it went from something that was like five minutes at work and like five hours later, you’re still, you know, in the soup and the stew simmering over it. And there are a lot of things that we can do that are counterintuitive to prevent that.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:16:02] Yeah. I mean, when you think about that, also some of those go to behaviors that, you know, we’re just trying to in some way, shape or form. It feels like when we’re doing that, we’re grasping at certainty. We’re grasping at control because it seems like so much of the experience of stress is this experience of a lack of control. I see these things happening. I’m experiencing them, and I feel like I don’t have the ability to control. And I guess the distinction I want to tease out here is there’s a difference between controlling the circumstance itself versus controlling your response to it. And is the stress more about the former or the latter, or is it a yes?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:16:39] And I love what you’re saying. And the thing that I would respond is peace of mind is not like feeling easy, but it’s knowing that you can cope regardless of what shows up in your life. And so I think there is such freedom and liberation that comes from knowing that you can choose your behaviors regardless of how you’re feeling and what is coming up for you.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:17:00] Yeah, you describe some sort of like behavioral responses to it. Earlier you talked about procrastination, which I think a lot of people wouldn’t see, things like procrastination, um, as a response to stress. And maybe it’s not always, but it sounds like maybe, you know, for a lot of people, that is one of the ways that we deal with potential stressors.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:17:20] Yeah. And I think everyone needs to kind of do a little bit of an analysis and think through what their goals are and get really clear on those and think about how they might in their own lives take stress and multiply it. But I see this time and time again, interestingly enough, with people that are very perfectionistic and ambitious, when something they have something meaningful to do, it brings up, you know, you could call it anxiety, you could call it excitement, a certain level of energy. And then there’s some sort of interesting thing of like, this needs to be perfect, this needs to blow people away. And then obviously that’s not super motivating. That leads to this thought of like, I can’t it’s that’s not possible. It’s too much. And then browsing social media, getting more snacks than you’re actually physically hungry for and, um, losing a lot of time. And then it’s that much more stressful when you have less time to do it. And so I think really thinking about what you do in your own life, whether it’s during the day or before bed, um, the same sort of thing can come up at night. You feel so tired and you mindlessly are scrolling on your phone, which is another form of avoidance. And so it’s interesting how we kind of habitually do these things that just don’t serve us.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:18:30] Yeah. Do you think it would be an effective exercise then to almost like, you know, sometimes if you’ve ever worked with a nutritionist, generally one of the first things that they’ll do is like you’ll have a first visit and they’ll send you home with a food journal and they’ll kind of say, like, keep track of everything that’s going into your body for the next seven days before we meet again. Is there some version of of that? Like almost like a stress response inventory that would help somebody truly understand, like, let’s say like over the course of when I’m feeling these feelings, what seems to be my go to because my sense is probably most of us don’t know what our go tos are and whether they’re functional or dysfunctional.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:19:09] I love that, and I there’s a skill that I teach in the book and that I use with clients that I also personally use, that I feel like is really empowering and useful. And it’s called, you know, doing a chain. So I think the first thing is to take a step back and and start with what you do know. What is a problem? Behavior that I’d like to work on. I say that I’m going to, you know, work down at 6 p.m. and focus on my family or my enjoy my free time, and then I’m still catching up or going to bed feeling like a sense of guilt for not having done more and dread for tomorrow when I’m going to face the pile-up. And so really starting with what is the problem? And then rewinding the tape. And so starting from the beginning, like what, you know, where did this start and where did it end up? Because oftentimes we do a couple of things. When we face a slip-up, we write ourselves off like I, you know, it’s never going to work out. I can’t I can’t change. It’s like it’s not going to like I’m a lost cause or we overly simplified. Oh, no big deal. Yeah. I’ll do a total 180 tomorrow. Easy. I got this without being really specific and precise about exactly what’s going to change. And so if you can identify a problem behavior and then really compassionately without a lot of self-criticism, but with kind curiosity, rewind the tape from the beginning.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:20:24] What were the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that took place? You know, you could do this on a piece of paper on the left-hand side. Write the sequence of events on the right-hand side, write the solutions. And so it’s not just like, oh yeah, I’m just an idiot or got this, but you have like 50, you know, steps that you need to think through. Like, okay, maybe the best thing to do is not start the day with a break, but I need to earn my breaks. Maybe I need to really reframe the goal is not perfection, but sharing information. So we have like a whole host of things that we can do differently. And I think really doing some soul searching and thinking, what are the things that if, you know, if this week was going to be a week where I implemented a lot of meaningful changes into my life, what would look different? And then if you have a some sort of slip to use a chain, because the most of us, we need to repeatedly practice and be strategic and not try once and then then give up and fall into that what’s called the abstinence violation effect of if we have some sort of slip just writing ourselves off.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:21:27] Tell me more about that, because I guarantee I have experienced that and sort of like done it to myself. And a lot of people listening have experienced that moment where it’s like, oh, I’m committed to this thing, and I want to develop this new habit or ritual behavior that’s, you know, like healthier for me, that supports my well-being. And then you’re like, you’re three days into it and you’re like, you completely have have abandoned whatever it is that you said yes to. And then you start basically saying, well, I guess that failed, or I guess that’s over. And then the shame and blame cycle comes in. What’s really going on there? And are there mechanisms that we can put in place to try and like, pull ourselves out of that kind of spiral?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:22:06] Yeah. And this this is one of my favorite things to talk about. I’m so excited to talk about this with you. But I think the first thing is even just looking at our beliefs about a setback is that does that mean game over? I need to give up, or does that mean is that part and parcel of change? And interestingly enough, in looking at people that are working on smoking cessation, quitting smoking, number of failed attempts actually predicts successful smoking cessation. So if you’ve never tried to quit smoking and I’ve tried ten times, everybody better bet on me than I’m going to be more likely to give up smoking. And so I think really realizing that change is not necessarily linear. And by doing this thing of chain analyses, behavioral analyses, really getting into the weeds the same way a coach would rewind your tape if you were trying to work on your athletic performance and go through in really specific detail, like what can be different? Getting really into the weeds about, like what were the different stretches you did, what were the different dietary things you could tweak? You know, maybe you need to have a bigger breakfast, maybe you need a smaller breakfast, you know, really get into it. Because I think a lot of us, rather than seeing ourselves as works in progress, write ourselves off and there’s a lot of room. And so when you do a chain, you even start before the thing. It’s like what made you more vulnerable. And so that gives us information, because if we’re starting the day on poor sleep, haven’t eaten, running late, haven’t made our beds, you know, the small things make a big difference. But to really be strategic, it’s like on a personal note, I oftentimes I, you know, people in my family would say that I’m always late.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:23:43] And when I look at that, I could go into different things. I could think, oh yeah, like I’m just always late. Everyone needs to accept it. Or I can think, you know what? Let me take a look at that. And when I rewind my tape, I tend to get overly optimistic. Oh yeah, I have time for just one more thing or there won’t be any traffic. I have a lot of luck when it comes to finding parking, but really looking at those steps, and I take a lot of pride in saying that I’m now a very punctual and I a lot of it is just connecting the dots after doing a chain like the thought of like, oh yeah, no big deal, I’ll get a cup of coffee. Who cares if it’s like two more minutes? You know, the line’s a little longer than I anticipated. It’s like, no, no, no, no, I am really committed. So. I’m really clear that, like, I would never want someone to feel disrespected by being me being late. The guilt of carrying the coffee and being two minutes late isn’t worth the caffeine. And instead, like, you know, there’s a host of things I could have done ahead of time from really recommit to the behavior to seeing the night before and have it in the fridge or, you know, set my alarm earlier. And so that’s a very silly example. But these are doing a chain is one of the most sophisticated ways to behavior change. Because again, you unearth ten solutions rather than an overly simple or overly complex one. And this is the thing that I’ve seen my clients use to transform lifelong problems into manageable, workable solutions.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:25:04] Mhm. That makes so much sense. And by the way, I think we’ve all experienced and probably been on both sides of that experience when either like, you know, like you’re waiting for somebody and they show up ten minutes late with a cup of like piping hot coffee in their hand and they’re like, I’m so sorry. Yeah, but you had time to stop and get your coffee so you could have actually been. And we’ve probably been on the other side of it too. Yeah. Like we’re like we’re like, we’re like, I’m going to go grab my coffee.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:25:28] And then also, Jonathan, I love that you’re saying that because that I think speaks to this problem that we all have of putting such a premium on instant gratification versus like our deeper virtues and our values. And one of the things that I’m really trying to help people do is like really turn from like the, the short term short-sighted to the long-term big picture and stress does something with narrowing our focus to make it quick fixes. And what we need to do is really take a step back and look for what’s what actually matters.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:25:57] Yeah, that shift in horizon is so important. Before we leave the idea of a chain, though, I’d love for you to get a bit more granular. So somebody listening to this and like, oh, that that actually sounds like a really interesting technique or strategy. Give me a little bit more step-by-step on how somebody might sort of like start to step into that type of exercise. Sure.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:26:14] So the first thing is getting really clear on your vulnerabilities. What made you more vulnerable? It could be something from today. Could be something from your past. Could be. Yeah. So to really do some soul searching of like what what are some of the things. So let’s just say the, the thing was being what do you want the problem to be saying something rude to someone you care about.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:26:37] Sure. Or um, you have a really tense like there’s an argument or something like that at work. Would that work?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:26:45] Sure, sure. So vulnerabilities could be anything from being in a previous tense work environment, where that there was a lot of ways that don’t align with how you want to show up at work. It could be you’re not getting enough sleep, not having enough nourishing activities. Over. In the past few days, you’ve been just kind of going through, you know, work, work, work and not enough things. So there’s so really looking at what are the things that made me more at risk today than other days. I’m still fighting a cold. I got bad news about something and my family. And so what doing really like an inventory of what are the things that made me more at risk because then that means like, no, like then you could look at that and realize like, hey, I need to make sure that I have like one social plan a week, even if it feels like I can’t or I need to really double down on like my sleep and I’m going to set a sleep alarm on my phone because me just saying I’ll go to bed earlier tomorrow, it hasn’t really worked for me. So the first step is looking at what made you more susceptible to falling into this in the first place, then looking at the prompting event. What was like the tipping point? Where did it this go from possible to probable? Where did this become more likely and what can you do about that? So maybe the thing at work you didn’t assert yourself earlier, you didn’t clarify expect, you know, expectations earlier. Whatever happened, that kind of set the chain in motion. And this takes a little bit of exploration of really thinking about, like, where did this go from becoming pretty likely that that I would fall into this thing that I’m really trying to work on and then really dissecting, like, what were the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that took me from the prompting event to the problem behavior of saying something in a tone I didn’t like to a colleague that didn’t feel professional or in line with who I want to be.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:28:36] Um, and so really going through all of that and then on the and then the consequences is also really important to be mindful of, like after the problem behavior, like what are the consequences. Because again, we want to really remember that what feels natural or instinctive in the moment, we can, can really hurt us and have long-term consequences. And then on. So that’s all on the left side of a piece of paper. And then on the right side going through as much as you can. And of course you might not be able to change the prompting event. You might not be able to change certain vulnerabilities, but we can think about certain things that we can do. And this opens up like so many, so much a whole buffet of solutions rather than writing yourself off. Off or overly jolly and saying, oh yeah, tomorrow’s going to be a whole new day. But to really and again, I do these all the time on myself. They don’t take very long. And it’s really helpful to just and you could do this with anything. And again I think problem behavior sounds kind of dramatic. But it’s even around things like I want to meditate and I want to commit to 20 minutes. And I notice that if one of the things I’ve noticed through my chains is if I don’t do that before 9 a.m., it might not happen. And so it gives us really specific guidance on what to to do tomorrow.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:29:53] Yeah. I mean, that’s so interesting because what you’re describing, you know, there are a number of aspects. You know, on the one hand it’s you’re helping to understand yourself better, not just what was the immediate moment or circumstance that that gave me this feeling of being stressed or where there was, you know, some adversarial experience or something that was negative, but also what were the circumstances that led up to that, both outside of me and my body and maybe my control, but also internally, like what were my own? And I think a lot of times we don’t look at that, you know, like, did I sleep three hours last night instead of six or 7 or 8 or, you know, like, am I still carrying an argument for three days ago? And it’s like there’s this baseline level of agitation that I’m bringing to it. And it’s so interesting to sort of like do a quick exercise like you’re describing to really just better understand what’s happening and what what led you to feel the way that you felt. And then at the same time, setting up these sort of like, well, if then type of scenarios, you know, like, well, what can I do now? Now that I understand it better? It sounds like there are two things here and tell me if I have this right or not. One is what can I do now to kind of like deregulate whatever negative experiences I’m having in the moment, but also then longer term, what might I think about doing or what habits or routines or rituals might I think about, like starting to create to see if I can set experiences like this up in the future differently, so that they lead to a different feeling and outcome. Does that make sense or did I?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:31:25] Exactly, exactly. And I just want to also make sure that I give credit where credit is due. So this technique is used in dialectical behavior therapy, which is a gold standard treatment for people who struggle with intense emotions and impulsive behaviors. And this is for people that really feel like their emotions reach higher heights and last longer than other and other people, and who really struggle with impulsivity. And so for people thinking like, oh, this sounds nice, but would never work for me, like this works for people that tend to get stuck in problem behaviors. And again, this is used in sport psychology. And this is really a big part of any and all behavior therapies. And it’s really about being really mindful every step of the way. And I also just love that this coming back to what we were saying about perceived stress, this really gives you a practical way to boost perceived coping. And I again, this is one of the things that I feel like people say they can’t stick to their resolutions, but like I can guarantee that if you use a chain, you will be much, much closer. And that could even be one of the link in your chain of you had a slip-up and then you told yourself, screw it like that doesn’t really matter. Any one other thing that I think is so powerful about chains is if you think about it, hope isn’t just a feeling, it’s also a behavior. And it’s so easy to feel hopeless if you just write yourself off or life off. But doing a chain can be a really practical way to increase your hope in a way that’s not too optimistic or really realistic.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:32:59] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It also brings it back to, you know, you mentioned sort of like the notions of self-kindness and compassion. And I would imagine, like some folks who may be listening to this are saying, okay, so rationally I get this, but the minute I start listing things out, okay, so I slept three hours instead of six. I’m such a wreck. Like, why can’t I sleep better? I’m like the worst sleeper. And then like, they list the next thing and immediately like with each thing that led to a triggering experience or event or a stress that somebody may bring to that very experience, this level of just shame and self-judgment and, and a complete lack of self-compassion or self-forgiveness at literally everything that they do that they start listing out that might have led to this experience. Then they start piling on judgment after judgment after judgment. It almost becomes like this doom spiral just starting that first list on the left side of the page. And do you ever see the experience of people going through that, the creation of the chain and having a really negative self-view and an inability to forgive themselves, having that actually pile on when they’re doing that part of the exercise?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:34:10] You see, Jonathan, I see the opposite. When people look at the tape, it’s like, oh, this had to be this way given x, y and z. Oh, interesting. And so it’s kind of this normalization. I’m like, oh my goodness. Like, this makes so much sense that given these factors, this was the outcome. It’s like I followed the playbook of snapping at someone or being late or falling into substance use again. And it had to be this way, given this sequence of events. So I think there is a way to look at it that can actually fuel self-compassion. And so many of the the resets and buffers, as I call them in my book, you really have to use in tandem, you have to kind of stack them. And so for people that do struggle with being self-critical, technique that I like when it comes to that is is really looking at the pros and cons of being really self-critical versus being self-compassionate. And so you might need to do a little bit analyzing, like what are the upsides of being a little kinder to myself? What are the upsides of being critical and the downsides of both? Because if you have a long-standing habit of being really hard on yourself, you might need to do a little bit of soul searching on whether or not that works for you, and if that’s helping you move towards your goals and doing that in tandem with then trying to do this. Non-judgmentally, because the evidence is pretty clear that self-compassion is a stance that nicely accompanies change, and self-criticism kind of is more likely to lead to us giving up.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:34] Yeah, and it is interesting that most people actually, once they walk through, oh, these are the sort of preconditions to me having a stressful experience. It’s almost like, oh, well, that makes so much sense now. Yeah. But and then evaluating if you’re piling on self-blame or judgment or shame, like how’s that working for you? It’s kind of like the question it sounds like you’re asking. I would imagine most people realize that it’s really not working for them, that like taking the opposite approach would make them feel a whole lot better and probably lead to better outcomes just in their life, in their relationships.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:36:07] Exactly.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:36:08] You brought up also this notion that and I don’t want to lose this, that stress can also be a precondition for growth. And you write about this in the book as well. Take me into this a bit more, because I think a lot of people would struggle with that.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:36:23] Can you think that we want to pursue in our lives that’s meaningful is probably also in part stressful? You know, having a family, being successful in your career, making a difference. All of those things are both probably aligned with your life purpose, but also really stressful. And also how we react in the face of stress. We can either spark a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle. And so really seeing stressful things that happen, like your kid throwing a wild temper tantrum that last for hours, that is your chance to, like, really embody your values as a parent and person. Whereas then being like, really pleasant and cooperative is really less of a workout for your values. And so seeing that stress is almost like these mini tests that we face in our lives, are we really regulating our emotions? Are we living the way that we want to live? Are we facing what matters? I mean, everyone can think of probably everyone that you admire is doing things that you would probably find really stressful. People that are giving TED talks, that seems really stressful. People that are. Yeah, being really courageous and helping the world and speaking out, those things are all really stressful. And again, I’m not saying take on a lot more stress or sign up for more than you can handle, but I think we need to really normalize that. Stress will happen while living a meaningful life, and some hardship is actually breeds resilience.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:37:47] And yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. I teach at UCLA and I had to go for my annual TB test, and I was just seeing all these students studying for exams in medical school thinking like, wow, they are doing something. I felt like this surge of stress for their stress, um, and just a reminder of like the stress that I experienced in graduate school and thinking like this is like both things. This is so understandably like stressful. Like they looked like they hadn’t slept in days and they were poured over big textbooks. And, you know, probably most of us wouldn’t even be able to read some of the terminology in their textbooks. And they have to memorize all this. But also, like, this is so exciting. These people are living something that they’ve dreamed of, and they’re going to make a difference in in saving people’s lives. And so I think being able to see and again, like for some people listening, maybe you’re thinking like, this isn’t the stress I face is really hard. It’s walking through a family crisis or trying to crawl out of financial duress. And that’s not as exciting or joyful. But but I think really seeing that in stress is an opportunity to to show up in the way that we want to show up. And the real test of that is when it’s hard, not easy.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:38:57] That makes a lot of sense. I mean, it also raises what you just described that scenario. So like watching these med students go through like what I’m sure be a really stressful experience for them, even though it’s laden with purpose and intention and excitement and energy. Is there a phenomenon that you could loosely label vicarious stress? And I’m thinking more broadly in the world right now, like so many of us open our eyes in the morning and at some point we check the. News, and we see so many things going on in different parts of the world, and maybe it’s not affecting us in our day-to-day right now, but knowing how brutal some of the experiences that are going on around the world are at this moment in time. Being sentient, feeling human beings, can we vicariously experience the stress of others, and is that a real thing? And if so, is it similar to as if those stressors existed in our own lives?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:39:49] Yes. So stress is contagious. And so, as you probably can think about in your own life, times that someone was really stressed and kind of dumped it on you, you did probably catch it. It can be really stressful. We all have when we’re empathic, we could kind of feel other people’s emotions. So this is a really big thing that I want people to walk away with. I think sometimes self-help gets a bad reputation as being kind of selfish or for you, but learning to manage your stress also is helpful for those around you. And there are a lot of strategies we can use when we’re trying to manage stress in the world. But in our inner circle, learning to manage stress can also prevent you being stressed and being stressed. Compounding this stress compounding.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:40:32] Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. I remember reading research on what was described as emotional contagion, like people in leadership roles and like they would show them either images of puppy dogs and really happy things and send them back to a team, or they would show them really horrific images that put them in a very emotionally down and alarming state. And and the state of those leaders literally infected the people on their teams. It sounds like you’re saying the same thing exists with stress. You know, you can kind of transmit it to other people. So if you’re a leader, if you’re a parent, or if you’re a teacher or a caregiver, we really need to think about this not just for ourselves, but also for those who may be around us on a regular basis, who we know that we’re going to affect in some meaningful way.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:41:12] Exactly. And leaders that have a better stress mindset or feel more able to manage their stress and have better appraisals of stress, do have teams that are less stressed. Yeah.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:41:23] So we talked a bit about the chain and some of the reframes that you described. Take me deeper into some of the resets that are the most common go to tools for you.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:41:33] There are so many and different tools work for different people and different situations. I really love a lot of the resets that help us think more flexibly. And so I think a really important first step is starting by anchoring, really putting your feet flat on the floor and doing a quick three-point check. What am I thinking? What am I feeling in my body right now? What am I doing? Coming back to what’s helpful in the moment? Because a lot of times when we’re stressed, we’re going like 100 miles an hour and there’s not a lot of room for damage control. But if we can get down to 15 miles an hour or five miles an hour, we can be more intentional. And there’s yeah, there’s a lot at each point in terms of our thinking, our feeling in our body and our behavior that I walk through, how to improve and change. And, you know, one of my favorites when it comes to the mind resets is a lot of times we have thoughts again that are like spam and being able to play with your thoughts. Just seeing them is like writing in the sky or singing them to a song. If every morning you think like I can’t, you could sing that to an upbeat song. And that’s kind of a reminder that that’s just something that your mind does, rather than something that needs to govern and dictate how you spend your day. And yeah, I’m happy to walk through different, different resets along the path. But all of these are designed to break free of ruminating and behaviors that you you’ll pay a price for, and you don’t want to define your life.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:43:01] I’m curious also about simple changes in language, because it seems like so much of this is the story that we’re telling ourselves about stress. So things as simple as the reframe between I am stressed versus I’m feeling stressed. Is there a meaningful difference in that?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:43:18] Labeling your emotions is a really powerful way to regulate them. And so even just noticing that and diffusion is another thing I talk about. So being able to get some working distance. So what you’re saying is I’m feeling is creating a little bit of distance. You’re putting it a few feet ahead of you rather than you’re swimming in the sea of that.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:43:36] I mean, it seems also that part of what was would be going on. There is a shift between identity and experience. It’s almost like when you say, I am well, like, this is my identity is that of a stressed human versus like, I’m just a person and I’m feeling I’m having this experience or I’m feeling this emotion. Is that functionally the same thing as like what you’re describing as creating distance between it?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:43:59] Yeah. And one thing that people can listen, can even try is even just seeing if you’re feeling intense emotions, even just noticing. I’m in emotion mind. Like right now all of my thinking is governed by intense feelings, rather because we can drive ourselves crazy by feeling intense feelings than having thoughts that exacerbate those emotions, taking them very, very seriously. But if we categorically can just see that emotions are kind of running my view right now, I’m not even going to get into believing those thoughts because I know categorically, like, I’m overheated, I’m not going to get lost in that.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:44:37] One of the things you talk about also is the relationship between these experiences experiencing stress, the way that we behave and also our values like who we are in the world, really understanding what’s important to us. Take me into that relationship a bit more.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:44:55] One of the things that will motivate us most is getting really clear on what matters to us, and this is something that also gives us a sense of agency and control. And again, we don’t want to feel like life is happening to us, but like we have some sort of say. And remarkably, studies have found that doing brief exercises where you write about your values can correlate with long-term academic achievement and narrow achievement gaps. And so getting really clear, because I think we need some sort of way to stay motivated when things get hard, and pinpointing your values and having ways to check in around those can help us manage our emotions and stay on the course.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:45:32] Yeah. I mean, do you find that this is that simply doing the exercise, which is and I think so many of us have done some form of values exercise, which generally is like some variation of, well, like what’s really important to you when it comes to the way you live your life, the way you make decisions about like big things. And often we get presented with like a list of things to choose from, like friendship, creativity, honesty, things like this. Have you seen that? Simply like if you do one of these exercises and you’re like, here are my top five values that simply knowing them, having done that exercise, and knowing these are the five things that are important to me. That’s enough to make a meaningful difference. Or that is, do we need to fold these into some sort of regular ritual or practice to keep reacquainting ourselves with this, to really make it matter?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:46:17] I think making this part of your daily routine is, is or, you know, something that’s clear that you’re leaning on daily and. So I, I’m imagining so many people listening, have done a lot of these kinds of exercises, and I want people to have something that’s fresh. And so I try to go through some things that struck me as really personally helpful and have worked well with my clients. And so doing something like thinking about, you know, if tomorrow I woke up and a miracle had happened, what would my life look like? What are three specific steps that I could take to inch closer to what that looks like? Remarkably, in a study where people were on wait lists for psychotherapy, people that were asked this miracle question and also told by the research assistant that asked them this question that they believed, and then that they could make these changes. They had increased hope and reduced anxiety and and so really getting concrete and specific. So it’s not just like I care about my family and I want to make the world a better place, but really being very specific, like what are the steps? And I also like this exercise called a matrix, which I talk about in the book, which is getting really clear. Like you have a bidirectional arrow. What do you want to move towards? What do you want to move away from and have that like, you know, on a screenshot on your phone or a post-it on your laptop? Because values and theory are as meaningful as specific choices that you make throughout the day. And so there’s a lot of ways to make this part and parcel of your the conversation you’re having with yourself throughout the day and what you’re working towards. And it is a challenge to stay mindful of these and hard moments, but there are certainly ways to move them closer.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:47:50] Yeah, and I love the notion of what you’re sharing is sort of like connecting them explicitly to a desired outcome or end state, so that you can kind of anchor them in that. And rather than just saying, like, these are five things or these are three things, it’s sort of like saying like you’re describing a values exercise, which also brings a level of like action taking and agency to it in a way that I feel like often is left out of those exercises.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:48:14] Yeah, I want these to be to actually change your life rather than live on a piece of paper.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:48:20] We’ve been talking a lot about some of the things that we can think about and do ourselves. But you also think and talk about and write about the role of social support, the role of actually like saying yes to other people around us when we’re experiencing stress or when we’re desiring change or experiencing intense emotions, and we want to move through them with more ease. Talk to me a bit more about the importance of having people around you to support you through it. And also, are there, quote, good or bad people to have around you doing these moments?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:48:53] Yeah. So people having social supports is a huge stress buffer, something that reduces our stress. And interestingly enough, the person who created the Perceived Stress Scale, Sheldon Cohen, also spearheaded a study which found that the larger your support network, the lower the risk of you catching a common cold, which is pretty counterintuitive. Um, and so that just speaks to how having social support is such a vaccine in your life, um, physically and emotionally. And certainly we want people in our lives that help us with what we need. And a lot of times, people in our lives might say the wrong thing or give us advice when we want validation. And so some of the things that I talk through include with my clients and I use personally and also teach in the book, is how to assert yourself in ways that improve our relationships. Because I think a lot of times people either write people off or write themselves off. And again, we might need to do some coaching and think about how to appropriately, warmly let people know what you need and what your hopes are. And in a way that’s warm and also clear and a win-win. Rather than putting someone on the defense or making yourself feel bad.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:50:07] It seems like a lot of us think about those relationships either as just, you know, we need people who are just there for us no matter what. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s almost like, you know, we’re looking for accountability police. But it seems like there’s a much broader spectrum, sort of like the way that we need people to step in and support us. And depending on what we’re going through, I’m so fascinated by the relationship between social support and health, mental and physical health outcomes. I think the data is just piling up there on how critically important it is to all aspects of life. And and it’s, you know, compounded by the fact that loneliness rates are so much on the rise right now and have been for literally the better part of a generation. Do you, in your experience, do you see that there is a correlation between the increase in the experience of loneliness just reported society-wide and the increase in the reports of sustained stress and also, um, worse mental health outcomes?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:51:07] Absolutely. And one of the things I my whole thing is like to not get into this catastrophic thinking and worst case scenario, but also to think of small things we could do in minutes that can change things. And so some of the things that have surprised me is doing something as simple as there’s a. Study that found that acting more extroverted when you were at Starbucks actually improves your mood. And even if you’re identify as more introverted and so small like small interventions can make a big difference. So improving your casual relationships, learning someone’s name if you see them repeatedly, not being embarrassed to say, hey, I forget your name, can you remind me? And then calling them by their name. If you see them every day in your apartment building elevator, small things can make a really big difference. And I have a lot of clients that at certain periods of times and at certain times in their lives, they’ve they haven’t had a lot of social support. And there’s actually something called a warm line, which is available in 40 states, where you can call and talk to someone who’s trained to listen. And this isn’t a crisis hotline. You don’t need to be in crisis. This might just mean that you need a human voice to hear you out and make you feel like you’re you matter and you’re heard. And so while there is a problem of loneliness, there are also solutions that are available to us within minutes.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:52:25] Yeah, that makes so much sense. I have a friend, um, who started an organization where she trains people around the world to basically just set up two chairs in public spaces purely for people to sit down and be listened to, you know? And she literally will train people how to listen, you know, how to actively listen to another person. And I feel like that is such a rare experience these days where we’re just we’re personally so in our heads and then we like the pace of life has gotten so fast that the opportunity to literally just sit down and share what’s on your mind and know some somebody will be opposite you with you, like giving you their full attention for as long as you need to actually share what’s in your heart and mind. It’s so rare these days that when we experience it, it’s almost like this blessing or like a gift, which is both good and bad. It would be nice if it was just so common that it was just an everyday thing, and it was just normal and expected. But I feel like it really, it’s so rare these days that it’s not.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:53:26] Yeah, and along that note, I think it’s so helpful for us to kind of take a look at how we spend our time. And if we’re spending a lot of time texting, rather than meeting someone for coffee or sending messages on social media or scrolling on social media, rather than meeting someone for a walk or a meal to really think through. Like, what are the most nourishing ways that I can tap into social support? Versus what are some of the ways that I habitually try to get my needs met, but that don’t feel all that fulfilling?

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:53:56] So much of what your work offers, and especially this new book, is really about sort of like short interventions that can make a meaningful difference. If you were to say to somebody, okay, so you have a brief morning routine, a brief evening routine, and one tool to use throughout the day, or one technique to use in more of like an intervention, sort of a status. What would be one thing that you think would be just incredibly powerful to drop into the morning routine, one thing to drop into the evening routine, and one thing to really just focus on as like a first thing to try on an interventional basis at some point throughout the day.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:54:37] I think for the morning routine to get really clear on what matters for you today, because I think a lot of times we just are kind of mindlessly facing the day. But to really try to break down, what are the things that you want to do that to make a difference in your life, in the lives of people around you, to have a really clear intention and to also really like starting the day with a little bit of morning sun and slow breathing because it’s so easy to start the day dreading what’s ahead. Going from news site to news site and feeling like you have more to face than you have the bandwidth to face. And coming back to what we talked about with other people, I also really want to highlight that. But when we need social support, I also want to invite us to all think about the people around us that might benefit from our patients and our kindness and our ear, because the people around us also might be going through things and for people to show up for us, we also need to show up for them and blown away by how simple things can make such a profound difference. There’s a famous study that found that psychiatrist Jerome Motto found that following up with people just sending I was thinking of you. I hope you’re doing well. After a psychiatric crisis actually significantly reduced that person’s risk of dying by suicide. And we often overestimate how much we need to do and underestimate how a little goes a long way. And so not only do we want to be able to have the courage to call someone when we need a friend, but we also want to preemptively think about who might need us. This is another great way to reduce stress. Doing things to contribute is a big way to feel like you’re having a positive say in your life and the lives of others.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:56:24] Yeah, that makes so much sense. And yeah, I know Adam Grant and others have written about and the givers glow, you know, and even and that could be that little thing like, hey, just thinking about like, a simple note like that. I love that, you know, we’re talking about a five-second act that can make them feel a lot better. But also we get the benefit as well, you know, like knowing that we’re giving to others and.

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:56:45] The benefits are huge. And looking at older adults, those who do things to help people in their family, if it’s with a little caregiving or cooking or errands, that actually increases their longevity.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:56:56] Yeah, it’s so amazing how some of the simple things really make a meaningful difference. I’m always looking at the levers in life, like, what are the simple things that we can say or do that make an exponential difference on the other side of it? And those things sound like falls into that bucket. So I’m going to come back to that other question. Then we’ll kind of wrap up. So if somebody’s listening to this and they’re kind of thinking to themselves, it would be kind of cool to some sort of really simple morning practice or ritual, maybe like an evening practice or ritual to and just a little something to do to, to set up their day a little bit better so that maybe anticipating that that might be stressful, things coming their way, they’re just a little better able to handle it. And then to close out the day in a way where it feels like they can maybe kind of let it go a little bit more easily and know that they’ll be able to sleep a little bit better, maybe, and step into the next day with a bit of a cleaner psychological slate. What are some things that people could think about dropping into either that morning or evening practice?

 

Jenny Taitz: [00:57:55] There are so many to choose from and different ones work for different people, but some that I have found really helpful, especially if you tend to be self-critical or overthink. I love a brief loving-kindness meditation in the morning. A lot of times we start our day focused on the news, focusing on the pile-up of things we have to do, kind of dreading the day ahead and beating ourselves up, maybe. And really starting the day with an infusion of self-compassion is such a nice way to start. So maybe getting a old fashioned alarm clock, not having your phone wake you up, and then feeling tempted to scroll, maybe sitting outside for a few minutes because there’s something about morning sunlight that can help us with sleep and energy, and doing a brief, loving-kindness meditation. I really love the mindfulness practices that Sharon Salzberg has popularized of Be Happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I live with ease. And there’s a whole series of people that you practice loving kindness towards, someone that naturally evokes those feelings yourself, someone that you care about that’s going through a hard time, familiar stranger, someone that you see at the grocery store, your Amazon driver or someone that you’ve come across in your office building and someone slightly difficult. And then all beings. And so I think really starting the day, connecting to yourself with kindness and being mindful of others is a really nice way to start the day. And I also really like ending the day with slow breathing, breathing in for five seconds and out for five seconds. Doing coherent breathing. There’s something about breathing slowly that is a really nice way to create relaxation and quiet the mind. And I think throughout the day these things. Art is instantly alluring, but they have profound changes in terms of our nervous system and the way we behave and live our lives, and the way we can touch the lives of others as well.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:59:48] Yeah, I love that. And it’s funny you mentioned Sharon. I start every morning with a meditation and often, um, there’s a 15-minute guided loving kindness meditation that Sharon has in a number of different places I have on my device, and I will often start with that, with her voice and her words in my head just guiding me through it. And it really does set your day up differently. I know there’s research on that as as well as it creates a, you know, the the upward spiral of emotion and closing out the day with breathing, I think is really nice. It helps down-regulate your nervous system and just kind of let you settle into a chiller place. It feels like a good place for us to come full circle in our conversation as well. So in this container of Good Life Project., if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?

 

Jenny Taitz: [01:00:30] To live a life where your emotions are not driving and you feel a sense of purpose and ability to recalibrate regardless of what shows up in your life.

 

Jonathan Fields: [01:00:39] Mmm. Thank you.

 

Jonathan Fields: [01:00:41] Hey, before you leave, if you love this episode Safe bet, you’ll also love the conversation we had with Stephen Porges about the Polyvagal theory and the importance of psychological safety. You’ll find a link to that episode in the show. Notes. This episode of Good Life Project. was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and Me. Jonathan Fields Editing help By Alejandro Ramirez. Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and special thanks to Shelley Adelle for her research on this episode. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven-second favor, and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields, signing off for Good Life Project.

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