Guest: Jonathan Robinson
Guest Bio: Jonathan Robinson is a psychotherapist and the author of “Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance, and Joy into Your Life.” He’s has appeared on Oprah and CNN.
Jonathan Robinson discusses the benefits of finding happiness in order to live a healthier life.
Health Professional Radio
Neal Howard: Hello you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. So glad that you could join us today. No matter who you are, no matter what’s going on, we all want to be happy. Our guest in studio today, Mr. Jonathan Robinson, is a psychotherapist and the author of “Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance, and Joy into Your Life.” How are you doing today Jonathan?
Jonathan Robinson: I’m doing really good Neal.
N: Thanks so much for joining us. As the author of a book about happiness, “Finding Happiness Now,” as I said we all want to be happy but everything that’s going on the national front and in our personal lives, sometimes it’s extremely hard to find and maintain some level of happiness.
J: Well that’s true and that’s why I have made a career of looking for the easiest and most effective ways to help people get out of anxiety and stress and into joy, gratitude and the feelings that a lot of kids have. It’s not that unusual and that we’re born pretty happy but a lot of times as we get older we fall into emotional lapse or we get to lose that sense of joy.
N: We’ve all got lots of things to do, we’ve got places to go, people to see, we’ve got money to make, bills to pay. Just how important is happiness when it comes to our health? I mean, if we’re a little blue, it’s not a deal breaker. How important is being happy on a regular basis?
J: We don’t have to be happy all the time but what I find that most people, their lives have a lot of stressors – basically not experiencing high degrees of happiness on an ongoing basis. And studies show that happy people actually live 9 years longer than unhappy people – that’s a lot of years. They also make almost a million more dollars over the course of their lives in the same jobs as unhappy people, so it has a big effect and also happy parents tend to raise happy kids so it’s really a priority but most of us have been hypnotized to think that the best way do to it is to make more money or to get the right relationship. And the studies show that that really doesn’t work very well.
N: I heard you mentioned that happy people earn more money upwards of a million dollars, I guess throughout their lifetime as opposed to a person who’s relatively unhappy. Now we’ve heard of the claims about undergraduate degree will allow you to earn this amount of much money more than a high school graduate. Are you saying that we’re more motivated to earn or things normally come our way or because we’re walking around with a smiling face, people give us opportunities?
J: All of the above. I mean, would you rather have a co-worker who is depressed and gloomy or somebody who has a very positive with a can-do attitude? People who are happy tend to attract good things to them and you also develop relationships and a lot of business is about doing a business with people you like and you trust. So this ongoing effect seems to be about the same effect as if somebody goes to four years of college which also leads to about a million more dollars over the course of their life. But hey, four years of college cost a lot and there’s a lot of time and effort, sometimes people can tune into feeling better quickly and easily and that’s kind of what my focus has been.
N: Have you seen anything that resembles mental illness or some type of clinical depression or something of that nature when it’s someone that needs to find a way to get some happiness into their lives?
J: Absolutely. You know, about 15% of the nation’s currently on anti-depressants. And anti-depressants are expensive and have been shown that for mild or moderate depression, they don’t work at all above placebo effect. So people are taking these pills that cost a lot and have unpleasant side effects that really don’t work. So it’s sad that most people don’t know these simple methods that can really boost their happiness level in, say, a minute a day. And some of them have been put into scientific scrutiny that show that they are much effective than anti-depressants. So my mission has really been to try and get the greatest hits of the happiness boosting methods that have really been shown by science to work and put them all in one book and that’s why Oprah has devoted some shows to it and I’ve gone a lot publicity because bottom line is they do tend to work.
N: Now with 15% of the nation’s population, as you say, being prescribed and actually taking anti-depressants. If you’re depressed and you take a drug for it, why aren’t we happy?
J: Because happiness, think of it as a skill. If you want to learn tennis, you won’t take a pill for it.
J: Well happiness is a skill that involves some learnable things such as how to have better or deeper relationships, how to have a better sense of purpose or a clearer sense of purpose, how to bring more pleasure into your life, how to find activities that help you to connect within to the joy. And most people, the good news is some ways most people don’t know any of these methods or not doing any of them. And there’s a lot of them out there, you don’t have to use all of them, just find one or two things that really work for you and it makes a big boost. Let me give you an example, doing acts of kindness for a stranger or friend dramatically boost your own happiness level. That’s something you can do, it doesn’t take a PHD to do that and people don’t know that it has that effect. But when you try it out a few times, you notice that kindness is little bit like chocolate, it’s addictive and it makes you and other people feel better. There’s also, in my book I give the 50 most known best methods that can be done in under three minutes. And the reason I give so many methods is because what works for one person may not work for another person, but all you really need are a couple of things that will help you get out of emotional things into better feelings, and it’s like a friend that once you have that, you have it for the rest of your life.
N: Now you’ve appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, you’ve appeared on national television, numerous radio appearances just like this one. What was it that made you decide to actually write a book about finding happiness?
J: Well depression runs in my family. In fact it practically gallops in my family, and both my brother and sister have been in mental hospitals for depression. I had a deep depressive episode when I was a teenager and I saw that these methods really work but most people don’t know about them. So I decided to write a book, first use the methods, find the ones that really worked because a lot of them don’t. So I read hundreds of self-help books, did all the workshops and found every now and then that there is something I was so easy and effective that even a lazy person like me would use it. So then I decided to write a book and in fact I’ve written several books but this is I think my favorite because it has all the best methods in one book. And I find that a lot of people are hungry for this. Life is stressful, life is difficult in this fast paced culture we live in or ‘cult’ as I call it because it’s a cult full of culture that really guides us to finding happiness in ways that are very inefficient. We’re taught so much that money is gonna be the key to our happiness level but studies show that once you’re middle class, more money does not make people happier, but there are things that have been shown to really be effective. Let me give you another example if I can.
J: Many years ago, I went to India to meet a guru who supposedly had a magical phrase or mantra for helping people feel gratitude. Well gratitude is a really wonderful feeling. So I travel all the way to India to meet this guy 18,000 miles and then you risk your life driving in India.
N: Oh yeah.
J: And once I arrived in Ashram, I had to wait you know six hours to meet him and I’m jetlag and …. finally I get chance to meet him, and say, “Please tell me what your mantra is or your phrase is for helping people feel gratitude.” And he said in his deep Indian accent, “Ah yes my mantra is the greatest mantra on earth. It will make you feel overwhelming gratitude.” And he leans and whisper it to me and he says, “Whenever possible, repeat the following words in your head. The mantra I give you are the words Thank You.” So I said, “That’s it? I traveled 18,000 miles to get here you know. Thank you, that’s it?” He said, “Not ‘that’s it.’ It’s the mantra you have been using and that mantra makes you feel like you never have enough. My mantra is Thank You, not That’s It…”
J: Well I was really pissed off but I traveled so far that I figured I would actually do what he said. And he said you really have to say it from your heart, you can’t just say it from your head and he said with each thing that comes to you in your life, say it from your heart ‘thank you.’ And you’ll develop this momentum of recognizing the blessings in your life. So I went to my hotel, I got a taxi I said ‘Thank You’ for the taxi and thank you for the air-conditioning in the taxi. And when I got to my hotel, I took a shower, ‘Thank You’ for the shower. Nice hot water, it was great. Then I got a meal, ‘Thank You’ for this food, thank you for the clean water. I kept going on and on trying to say it from my heart and within an hour, I had tears of gratitude going down my face because you and I have so many blessings in this modern world from the internet to cellphones to 500 channels on TV. But if you don’t pay attention, if you don’t feel any gratitude for any of them, then it all becomes worthless. But you and I live better than billionaires lived 15 years ago with better healthcare, more entertainment. Anything in internet and yet if you don’t have a very simple method to tune into that reality, then you can end up feeling depressed and stressed out which is how a lot of people feel.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been a pleasure talking with Jonathan Robinson in studio today, the author of “Finding Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance, and Joy into Your Life.” We’ve been here talking about how simply finding a way to be grateful for the blessings that we have in this life goes a long way in cultivating a happier healthier mindset and thereby healthier lifestyle. It’s been grate having you here with us today Jonathan.
J: Very happy to be here.
N: Transcripts of this program are available at hpr.fm and also at healthprofessionalradio.com.au