Co-founders Colleen and Jason Wachob of mindbodygreen weave together science and soul in their roadmap to happiness in their book, The Joy of Well-Being.
“Only 12% of us would call ourselves very happy right now,” says Jason Wachob, co-founder and co-CEO of the lifestyle brand mindbodygreen and co-author of The Joy of Well-Being, “which is actually the lowest amount since the Wall Street Journal just started tracking this in the 1970s.”
Wachob’s goal is to guide people to healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives. He notes the metrics of health are pretty melancholy right now, and we’ve lost sight on how to actually move the needle on well-being.
What Does mindbodygreen Do?
That’s why he and fellow co-founder, co-CEO, and co-author Colleen Wachob decided to write their book. He says, “We want to bring it back to the basics of these time-tested practices where there's actually a lot of scientific agreement and they're accessible from both a time and resources standpoint to implement in our lives, because I think my biggest concern is there's a lot more wellness, there's a cacophony of voices on social media, but we're not getting any better.”
Colleen, who spent over a decade at Fortune 500 companies, suffered a pulmonary embolism in her early 30s that became an inflection point for the rest of her life. She muses, “Sometimes you have to have those breakdown moments to get to the breakthrough. And one of my greatest hopes in writing The Joy of Well-Being with Jason is that people can start to ask themselves, ‘When do I know it's time to change my life and not have to wait for these breakdown moments to really do an inventory of their lives?’ And The Joy of Well-Being is the roadmap that I wish I had when I was on the road to recovery about a decade ago to help me get to a well-lived life.”
What Does ‘The Joy of Well-Being’ Roadmap Look Like?
That roadmap includes helping you follow your awe instead of media-fueled outrage. Jason notes, “There's a study we reference in the book that Wharton did out of the University of Pennsylvania, where they analyzed the most emailed articles in the New York Times…And they looked at the articles and classified them by emotion to see if there were any commonalities. And indeed, there were. And the top three emotions were anxiety, awe, and anger. Number one was anger. Anger increased virality by 34%. In other words, anger drives clicks. Anger drives revenue, reads, watches, shares, listens, the whole gamut. I don't think the New York Times is particularly unique here. I think this is social media. I think it's media in general.”
So what can we do once we’ve taken the click-bait and are ready to troll the comment section?
Jason suggests pausing: “If there's something you see that angers you, as human beings, we have the ability to create space between stimulus and response. So generally, create space, as much space as possible, before you respond. Chances are, the more space, the better response you'll have.”
The realization that anger was essentially driving the internet is a big reason why Colleen and Jason decided to write their book. That, and the fact that within the wellness world, people were starting to fixate on longevity, that is, quantity of life, over quality.
Jason notes, “Your quality of life may deteriorate in your last 30 years. You may be miserable. You may be debilitated. You may be relying on a number of pharmaceuticals, walking in and out of surgery, dealing with a debilitating disease. So lifespan didn't really cut it. And then the segue was to the 2.0 healthspan. This idea of you want to extend your quality of life for as long as possible so you're mobile, fit, and healthy. And ideally you're doing everything you want to do for 99 years, 11 months, and 30 days, and then rapidly decline overnight or die of a heart attack. And we like this idea of joy span. You know, what's the point of being mobile, fit, and healthy, but if you don't have any friends, you're miserable?”
Simply Living a Long Life Isn’t Enough
According to the CDC, loneliness is linked to a slew of health risks, such as higher rates of depression and anxiety and rivaling the negative effects of smoking and physical inactivity.
Individual solutions aren’t enough for well-rounded health: we also need to think communally and globally. Jason expands the notion of health from personal, to interpersonal, to planetary: “We need to take care of Mother Earth. You can be really fit and healthy, but if you're living in a place that you can’t inhabit because of wildfires, because of forever chemicals, because of droughts, floods, that's really not fun for anybody involved. In the home, you could be doing all the right things: You could be exercising, eating right, doing all the right things, but if you're putting toxins into your home and your body, it kind of negates all the good stuff. And so there are multiple layers to green, but we absolutely believe it’s 100% part of living an ultimately happy and healthy life.”
Collective happiness isn’t about putting on rose-colored glasses, but rather is a pragmatic approach to creating time and space for what matters most.
We’re inclined to focus on our potential while neglecting our satisfaction. By turning our attention to our joy, we prioritize deep pleasure and happiness over fantasies of productivity.
Jason remarks, “I think we sign up for things that don't bring us joy and when push comes to shove, we also set unrealistic expectations. Part of the conversation is we believe in editing and not adding. And wellness seems to be like it's gotten out of control. It's all about adding more things and practices and protocols in your life versus this is my life, and let's edit so I can fit things in. And you know there are enough things that you can find things that you love and that bring you joy because when push comes to shove, you're gonna drop the thing that you just don't like. But if you love walking, you're gonna find a way to walk and you can fit it in with your day. “
Jason and Colleen want to reframe the conversation so editing our lives becomes less about restriction and more about intentional abundance, giving us time and energy to explore our joy. They suggest getting tactical and asking yourself, “Is my life about serving others? How am I helping people? What is it that I enjoy doing and look forward to at the start of the day?”
Sara Russell is the host of MUD\WTR's Trends w/ Benefits podcast.
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