The FUN Habit

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Did you know that research tells us that we all should strive to get TWO HOURS of enjoyable leisure activity EVERY SINGLE DAY?! When I heard that statistic, I was shocked!

We focus so intently on performance, optimization, and striving. We focus on how much we can get done and how to increase that amount. And we forget that life is meant to be fun as well.

This week we’re speaking with Dr. Mike Rucker. He is an organizational psychologist and charter member of the International Positive Psychology Association who has been academically published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management and Nutrition Research. His ideas about fun and health have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Vox, Thrive Global, mindbodygreen, and more. He currently serves as a senior leader at Active Wellness.

Additional Resources:

  1. Episode 0143: Dr. Steven Hayes
  2. The Happiness Trap
  3. Connect with Michael
  4. Pre-order The Fun Habit

The Reason Why People Don’t Want to Return to the Office

COVID caused major disruptions in everyone’s lives. As we adjust to living in a post-pandemic world, many employees are resisting the idea of returning to the office. It’s not the office itself that’s the problem. It’s what it represents.

COVID abruptly and dramatically altered our worlds. As we learned to work from home, among other changes, we also began to re-evaluate our lifestyles. While the pandemic certainly brought about many unbelievably difficult challenges, it also caused us to reflect on our lifestyles, which were stressful and unfulfilling for many. It showed us that we do not necessarily have to live and work the way we were before. 

And that insight was freeing to a lot of people. 

As we adjust to life and work in a post-pandemic world, that means returning to the office for many workers. Employers have been surprised at the resistance that many employees feel about returning to in-person work. Dr. April Seifert, Peak Mind co-founder and social cognitive psychologist, explains why so many people are resistant to the idea of going back to the office full-time.  


The Trouble With Passion

“Follow your passion!” How many times have you heard that? How many people have you spoken to lately who are either quitting their jobs or thinking about quitting because they lack passion? Many would argue that this is one of the biggest drivers behind “The Great Resignation” that we’re all hearing so much about these days.

But, what if there’s a problem with following your passion?

This week’s guest, Erin Cech is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Her research investigates how seemingly benign and taken-for-granted cultural beliefs reproduce workforce inequalities.

In her recent book “The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality,” Erin teases apart some of the hidden issues with searching for passion and fulfillment solely from your job. She talks about how:

  1. Searching for passion can perpetuate societal cycles that promote inequality
  2. Our sense of identity can become wrapped up in our job and can suffer when we are laid off or experience a big shift in our careers
  3. Our passion is something that can be cultivated and fulfilled in MANY ways in our lives, and by focusing solely on our jobs, we limit ourselves.

We have a great discussion at the end about the micro- (individual) and macro- (societal) shifts that could occur to help all of us experience more passion and balance in our work. You won’t want to miss it!

Additional Resources:

  1. Finding Flow at Work (Peak Mind blog post):
  2. Designing Your Work Life (affiliate link):
  3. Episode 0318 Psych Strength & Flexible Work Arrangements:
  4. Buy Erin’s Book (affiliate link):
  5. Follow Erin on Twitter:

Pursuing your passion can be a challenge when we live in our comfort zone. But how to find your passion in life and your career path could lead to your dream job and living a life more fulfilled with friends and family. A career coach might advise you on how to discover your passion even in a job you don’t love. If you spend time following a strategy step by step to surface your true passion, it will be hard to describe the feeling of excitement living and working within your passion over the long term.


Zero Sum Bias: Insight Gained from Competition

Depending upon whether you’re a football fan or not, or whether you’re one of our community members from the U.S., you may or may not realize that today is the Super Bowl. The biggest football game of the year. A display filled with athleticism, hysterical commercials, and competition.

This event got me thinking about the nature of competition itself and how it can become twisted and entangled in our minds. In fact, our competitive feelings can reveal powerful insights about what we desire, fear, and value. 

Let’s be honest.

For most of us, if we’re being honest, we’ve felt jealousy, resentment, anger, or a similar emotion toward someone who has something we want.

Career success.

Financial stability.

A certain body shape / size.

A certain type of relationship.

Many times, we begin to feel competitive toward that person – looking for reasons why we deserve what they have. Why they don’t deserve what they have. 

These feelings of resentment, anger, and hostility come from a very basic cognitive bias that is baked into the fabric of our minds: The Zero Sum Bias.

Zero Sum Bias

It’s worth getting a little technical for a minute to tease this apart. A “Zero Sum” situation is one in which one person’s success must be balanced by another person’s failure. It’s a situation in which there is only a finite amount of resource to go around, so if one person gets some of the resource, there’s less left for other people. 

The Super Bowl is a great example. Only one team can win. There is exactly ONE trophy to be handed out. One team will get it, and the other team won’t. 

On the flip side, a “Non-Zero Sum” situation is one in which the success or reward of one person isn’t dependent on the success or reward of another person. Everyone can “win.”

Traditionally, grades or marks in school are a great example. In theory, every single person in the class could score high on an exam if they answer all of the questions correctly. One person doesn’t have to fail simply because another person got a perfect score.

But here’s the thing, psychological research shows us that collectively, we all are subject to something called the “Zero Sum Bias.” When a situation involves a reward or an outcome that we desire, we’re more likely to believe that the reward or outcome is scarce and finite, and we see the situation as a zero sum situation. 

To put it another way, if we see someone else get something we want, our Zero Sum Bias kicks in and makes us believe that we’re less likely to get that thing, simply because someone else already has it. Even if the thing they have isn’t actually scarce or finite. Even if it’s abundant and available for anyone to have.

Life is rarely a Zero Sum Game

If you go back up and re-read the list of jealousy-provoking situations above, you’ll notice one thing: none of them are zero sum situations. 

Does your cousin’s career success have anything to do with your likelihood of career success? No.

Does your neighbor’s financial stability have anything to do with your own? No.

If that Instagram influencer has the “perfect body” does it mean that you can’t? No.

You get the picture. 

Yet, because of the Zero Sum Bias, we get competitive, resentful, jealous, angry, and hostile toward people who have what we want. 

Now before you get down on yourself for this, let’s all remind ourselves that the Zero Sum Bias is a natural, normal way our minds have evolved to process and understand the world around us. Sure, it’s not “correct,” but it’s very common. We all deal with it.

Once we can accept that, and once we can be open and honest about our own hostile and competitive feelings, we can actually learn something from them! Read on.

Learn from your competitive feelings

Be on the lookout for situations where jealousy, resentment, anger, and hostility arise. 

Ask yourself if your own success or ability to achieve truly does depend on what that other person has achieved.

Many times, the answer is no.

Then go a step further. Ask yourself what it is you truly desire. If you’re feeling competitive or jealous about another person’s success, Zero Sum Bias would tell us it’s because you desire what they have. 

That is a powerful insight!!

Once you know that, you can take a more proactive, intentional stance toward setting a real goal to move in the direction of that thing you desire. 

If your neighbors are putting in a pool and you’re jealous about their financial security, be honest! Of course you want to feel financially secure!

Then, take some time to decide what you’re going to do about it. Competition won’t get you what you want in a non-zero sum game. You can’t compete with your neighbor to “win” the pool they’re putting in.

But, you can take intentional steps to improve your financial situation in your own life. How are you going to move in the direction of becoming financially secure yourself? What steps can you take, even if they’re small.

Turn negative emotions into insight

So many times, it’s our negative emotions that can teach us powerful insight about ourselves, and this is one of those times.

If you pay attention, you’ll likely uncover what it is you actually want, and you’ll be more likely to move in the direction of getting it.

If you want to learn more about your mind’s natural biases, how they can affect you, and, more importantly, what to do about them, you’ll love our signature psychological strength building program, Ascend. Check it out and learn how to make your mind work for you. 


Manage Energy, Not Time

I have a confession: I am an efficiency junkie. As a mom of 2 young kids and the co-founder of 2 businesses, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to manage energy, not time.

Now, maybe your specific circumstances aren’t exactly like mine, but I bet we’re similar in that we’re both looking for ways to balance the responsibility of life with the spaciousness and joy of ‘the good stuff.’

Said another way, how do I take care of my responsibilities and manage to feel good along the way?

I wanted to share some insight I stumbled upon recently that has really helped me re-think my approach to my list of responsibilities.

Time Management

Time management is a hot topic. A quick Google search returns over 3.8 BILLION results. We’re all searching for the way to get more done in the 24 hours we each have in our day.

But, therein lies the problem! Time is finite. We each only have 24 hours in a day. No matter how we ‘manage’ it, we can’t make more. 

Beyond that, even when we try to reclaim time, we typically resort to reclaiming it from critical activities like sleep, exercise, socializing, and hobbies. 

If my goal is to accomplish my responsibilities while feeling good, taking time away from the things that help me feel good is certainly not the way to do it!

Manage Energy, Not Time

Tony Schwartz is a new author I’m in love with. He wrote the book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy Not Time. He is also the CEO of The Energy Project. 

In his work he points out that time is a finite resource, and no matter how much we try to ‘manage’ it, we can’t make more.

In contrast, energy is renewable. 

We can use specific tactics to boost our energy and our stamina to make sure we can perform at our peak while feeling good along the way.


Here are the 3 areas he points to as ways to boost our energy and our stamina to get things done.

1. Physical Energy

Rituals that help you renew physical energy include the major health-promoting behaviors we all know are important:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising
  • Drinking water
  • Sleeping enough

But, he also points to the ritual of taking regular breaks to give our body a chance to reset and rejuvenate.

2. Emotional Energy

The second set of rituals revolves around emotional regulation. This aligns nicely to the emotional intelligence literature, whereby you cultivate 2 sets of skills:

  • The ability to recognize your own emotional state
  • The ability to use tools and interventions to augment your emotional state

Schwartz points to rituals like deep breathing, to stave off the fight-or-flight emotions we as humans are so prone to experience.

He also points to rituals like gratitude and appreciation as a way to boost positive emotion. 

On both ends of the spectrum, putting ourselves in an optimal emotional state gives us the stamina and energy boost we need to perform at our best.

3. Mental Energy

As we get busier and busier, many of us resort to the same tactics in an attempt to get more done: we multitask.

As it turns out, research has shown that multitasking isn’t actually possible, even though we feel like we’re doing it well. 

Rather than helping us get more done, multitasking actually over-taxes our mental capacity, making us less capable of persisting for periods of time and less capable of focusing on any one task at hand. 

We’ve talked many times about our limited cognitive resources as human beings. If there’s one way to over-deplete these resources, it’s to multitask.

Establish Your Rituals

What I thought was most helpful about Schwartz’s 3-part framework is that it was so comprehensive about the way it views energy management.

It gives us a very holistic way to help ourselves feel better as we go about the responsibilities of our lives.

So, try it!

Think about each of these 3 categories of energy, and develop your own rituals around boosting energy in each category. Put these rituals to work in your life, even if it’s difficult at first. Become a master and manage energy, not your time.

Give it a try, and let me know how it went.

For more help designing the specific rituals and routines that truly work for you, check out our mini-course, Self-care [by Design].

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been at my desk for quite a while, and I’m going to head out to take a walk to recharge.

“The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story.”
― Tony Schwartz

 Saying ‘No’ to ‘Hustle Culture’

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Being ‘busy’ has become a badge of honor in our society – signaling to other people, and to ourselves, that we’re valuable, in demand, and hard-working. But, at what cost?  

Younger generations have abandoned the concept of working 40 hours a week, encouraged to “hustle harder”, “rise and grind” and encouraged by success stories from multi-company CEOs like Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk. It’s changing company cultures too with flexible work hours, and more and more working from home. However, the effects of a poor work/life balance can have adverse outcomes on mental health as they find themselves working long hours and struggling to distinguish the split between professional and personal lives.

Today on the podcast, we’re diving deep into ‘hustle culture.’ We’re talking about the surprising roots of where it came from, the impact it has on our behavior and whether we’re behaving in alignment with the type of person we want to be, and some practical tips to say ‘no’ to hustle culture. 

As we find ourselves becoming more and more squeezed by our schedules and responsibilities, it has never been more important to find ways to create space, ease, and balance in our lives. Listen to this episode to learn how. 


Life Design: Are You Spinning Your Wheels? 

Before I learned about Life Design and before I got serious about applying the science of happiness in my own life.

I used to wear busy like a badge of honor.

          “How are you?” my mom would ask.

          “I’m so busy! I’m working a ton, and I have to blah blah blah.”

I was on my way to burnout.

That was in the Before.

Now, I reframe problems, how I spend my time, and how I approach life. I am mindful of expectations and pressures and whether they are ones I want to adhere to or not. I am more intentional about and braver with my choices. That said, I am not perfect.

I am a human with a human mind, and I fall prey to its traps still. An eye-opening concept I recently encountered is action v. motion. As much as I like to tell myself that I spend my time in ways that really matter, that I’ve made big changes since those brink-of-burn-out days, I have a lot of work yet to do. I find myself slipping into motion more often than I ‘d like to admit. Perhaps you do, too.

Motion v. Action

  • Motion is running on the treadmill while action is running to a place you want to go.
  • Motion is brainstorming ideas for all the blog posts and videos you want to create, while action is actually writing or filming one.
  • Motion is researching new jobs online while action is applying for one and advancing your career path.
  • Motion is planning out that tough conversation you need to have while action is having it.
  • Motion is worrying about everything that could go wrong while action is finding a solution for an actual problem and letting go of the things out of your control.

Motion is busy work, whereas action leads to an outcome. Part of your life will be spent on both. Motion takes up a lot of time and energy. It gives us a sense that we are being productive, that we are doing something or making progress, but it’s really just spinning our wheels because motion will not produce a real result. Moreover, it’s a subtle avoidance tactic. It may allow us to avoid saying no or making tough choices about what really matters. It may allow us to avoid confronting uncomfortable thoughts or feelings or being honest with ourselves. Motion allows us to avoid doing the really hard work, taking chances, failing, and, ironically, succeeding.

Action, on the other hand, leads to a real, tangible result or change. While the outcomes may not always be positive or ideal, they’re likely to be useful. Even full-on failures offer valuable lessons that we can use to grow. Through action and the resulting experience, we learn what works and what doesn’t, whether that’s in business, relationships, hobbies, or happiness.

I can’t help but believe that dedicating more time and energy to values-driven and effective action while wasting a little less on motion is going to make a noticeable difference in my life experience. What about yours?

Ready to make a change?

If you’re interested in getting off the proverbial hamster wheel and learning about Life Design, you may be interested in our ASCEND program. There’s an entire module dedicated to Life Design. You’ll learn the principles and process that have been so transformative for us. 

“Never confuse motion with action.”
– Benjamin Franklin