Uplifting Relationships are the Key to Happiness: Podcast Ep. 5:1

Welcome to Season 5, Episode 1, which accompanies Chapter 5, Section 1, “Prioritize Uplifting Relationships.” In this episode, I:

  • introduce Chapter 5 and 
  • the happiness habits that you need to incorporate into everyday 
  • then discuss why uplifting relationships are essential for your overall well-being. 
5-1 Prioritize Uplifting Relationships

After reviewing the five steps to healing from anxiety, I remind you of the happiness formula. Get rid of the things that make you suffer, bring in the things that bring you joy, and practice those two every day. This season, I emphasize the why’s and how’s of the joy-bringing habits that can change your life.

“When a person is depressed, anxious, and not busy, the reptilian brain will inform the prefrontal cortex to find a problem.  It will look for something wrong so it ‘knows what to do’ because it’s trying to help you survive. When the monkey is looking for a problem––and it’s not really directed by you to find something productive, creative, or purposeful to do––then it’s going to find something negative (which, even if it is nonsensical, takes you out of feeling good).” – Dr. Jodi Aman

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Transcription of the Uplifting Relationships Episode:

Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is Season 5 of the “Anxiety, I’m So Done With You” podcast. This podcast is a teen and young adult guide to Ditching Toxic Stress and Hardwiring Your Brain for Happiness. If you’re new here, grab a copy of my book, Anxiety, I’m So Done With You! because this series is going section by section through it, going a little bit deeper, giving more examples, and telling more stories. This season follows Chapter 5, “Self-Care is the New Health Care.” This book promises to ‘hardwire your brain for happiness.’ This season I deliver on that promise. We focus on seven essential happiness-generating habits, contexts, activities, and practices for you to incorporate into your life to stay healthy, positive, and resilient to whatever life throws your way.

There’s a myth at play if you’ve been feeling bad for a long time. You might think that happy people are lucky and that you are not; that you are different. While context matters to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, your context is only partially determined by privilege, genetic expression, and random luck. The rest is determined by you. In this season, I show you how to harness that “you percent,” decolonize your self-care, and let your highest potential shine through all of the gook in your life. 

Thank you for listening, subscribing, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. Also, come hang out with me on YouTube and TikTok @DOCTORJODI where I give you practical tips for your brain, body, and spirit. Please spread the word about this book and series because mental health problems are skyrocketing, and I need you to help me turn the tide.

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Welcome to Chapter 5, Section 1: “Uplifting Relationships”

Welcome to this episode. We are starting season five. In Season 5, we’re talking about self-care. The habits of self-care that we need to use to take care of ourselves. Happy people aren’t just lucky, they don’t just get happy, and that’s it. It’s not as if some people are happy and others are not. That’s not how it works. Happy people actually generate their own happiness. Sometimes this is well integrated. You don’t really notice what they’re doing since it is so streamlined. And they may not feel like it’s a lot of effort. 

Then some people struggle. When you have anxiety and depression, it can feel like a lot of effort to generate happiness. Then, you feel different than other people. You’re thinking that those people are happy without trying too hard, and you have to work really hard to generate happiness. It feels like the universe has decided that you don’t deserve happiness because you have to work harder for it than everybody else. It emphasizes your difference. 

Listen, everybody, everybody deserves happiness. Everybody deserves it. But unfortunately, this is an unfair world. It’s not okay that it’s an unfair world, and we need to do things to change it, to try to bring justice to the forefront and not have it be so unfair. But it is still unfair. It is unfair; people don’t get what they deserve, which doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy of deserving it. 

Let me say that again. Just because you don’t get what you deserve doesn’t mean you’re unworthy. It just means that the world is unfair and that we have some work to do to make our world a better place.

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This season

Okay, that was a little bit of a tangent. This season will be different than every other season because I’m recording it live, which means it won’t be as tailored and neat and clean, but hopefully, it’ll be clear and exactly what you need. Maybe it’ll be a little bit more fun or a little bit more energizing. (Or maybe you’ll experience me as a little more accessible because you’re hearing me just be extemporaneous, which means I’m just speaking from the heart.) 

In this episode, 

  1. I’ll introduce to you chapter five. 
  2. We’re going to talk about those seven habits from chapter 5 of the book. 
  3. I’ll introduce to you what contributes to happiness in your life  (especially the percentages of how important they are to what you feel, what you want to do, how you see yourself, how you have relationships —these affect everything! I share these happiness habits to show you the control that you have. 
  4. Then we’re going to talk about prioritizing uplifting relationships. 

All right, let’s go! 

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Chapter 5: The Happiness Habits

Chapter five is really important. Remember, there are five steps to curing your anxiety. They are 

  1. understanding it biologically, 
  2. learning the lies that it tells, 
  3. cultivating your control, 
  4. making peace with yourself, and then finally 
  5. practicing sustaining happiness habits. 

You’ll recall that the book’s subtitle promises you will hardwire your brain for happiness. And that’s what we’re doing in chapter five. Chapter five is going to be really important because there are things that you could do, and there are things that humans need in their life to be happy and healthy. And when I say happy and healthy, I’m not just winging it here. I’m talking about being physically healthy because how you are mentally affects your body, how you perform, your health, and how you relate to and care for your body. 

When addressing emotional wellness, we can’t leave out the physical body. Also, we have to include the mental body and the spiritual body. So let’s go over why I pick these seven habits to nurture all of these bodies. The first one is to prioritize uplifting relationships, and that’s about having community. This is not a surprise to any of you if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while; that community is something humans need. We are social beings. We need community. So we’re going to be talking about that in this episode. 

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I use the word prioritize here in these section titles because I want you to think about what is important. What are those non-negotiables to have in your life? When we say non-negotiable, we mean inflexible. We have flexibility in so many things, and flexibility is so good for us in so many ways. But sometimes we get flexible and procrastinate or put off or decide not to do things that are essential for our well-being, like moving our body, resting enough, and drinking enough water. These are essential.

They’re non-negotiables. You could have a morning routine and call that morning routine “non-negotiable” because you put in that routine things that you need to be mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy. It’s not literally non-negotiable because if you had a big exam, you might wake up early and get less sleep so that you could study for that exam. However, it helps to think of them as non-negotiable so that you commit to yourself to do what you have to do to keep yourself emotionally well.

Remember that Formula for Happiness that I told you about way in the beginning? 

Formula for Happiness

  1. You get rid of the things in your life that cause you to suffer. 
  2. You bring into your life the things that bring you joy. 
  3. And then, you practice those every day. 

That is what we’re doing in this chapter. We bring the things into our life that bring us joy, and then practice them daily. 

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Prioritize These Seven Happiness Habits

  1. Prioritize uplifting relationships
  2. Surround yourself with energizing atmospheres
  3. Move your body
  4. Take in holistic nourishment
  5. Get enough rest and relaxation
  6. Act with a higher purpose
  7. Engage in creative activities

The first one is uplifting relationships. The next one is energizing surroundings, so prioritize energizing surroundings. This includes your aesthetic surroundings, non-cluttered space, beauty, nature, and daily routine. 

The next one is movement. We need to move our bodies. They are meant to move. It’s harmful when we stay stagnant or still. All of our organs get pressed down if we’re sitting on the couch too long. Sitting too much affects our posture and detracts from our physical health, taking years off our life. 

We need to move our bodies! That message is out there everywhere. We know that we need to walk, run, dance, shake, exercise, and engage in physical activity almost daily. In that episode, I’ll share all the benefits, some benefits of movement, some that you probably don’t even know yet. (Hopefully, that will motivate you!)

The next habit is about whole nourishment. What do you taking into your body? When you think about nourishment, you primarily think about food. However, I’m also talking about any substances you ingest, medications, news that you’re hearing, any people that you’re around (whether they are positive or negative), social media, traditional media, or anything you are interacting with. 

Your energy mixes with the energy around you

Everything that you have in your surroundings creates some energy with which you interface. It’s either nourishing or harmful. Some of it’s benign, of course – benign means it doesn’t affect you at all. So, some of it’s nourishing, some of it’s benign, and some of it is harmful. Harmful things age you. I know you don’t have to worry about that because you’re so young, but aging you means they’re hurting you, right? They take away your vitality of life, and you don’t want that. That’s going to affect your mental health. 

The next episode is about rest. Humans need rest and relaxation. We need some time to rejuvenate and restore ourselves.

Five-six is prioritizing a higher purpose. Having a purpose is necessary! Having a purpose is one of the three things that Dan Buettner of Blue Zones says control your Happiness and longevity. Without a purpose, people feel untethered, unworthy, and out of control, without direction or guidance on what to do and how to proceed in life. We need a sense of purpose so we know that we matter in this world. 

When we don’t, we feel terrible and untethered, unloved, unlovable, unworthy, and on and on and on. That’s another reason why I used the word priority. Because when we are anxious or depressed, it takes up a lot of our brain space. When it takes up all that brain space, it’s taking away from other things we could do that feed our soul, nurture our relationships, bring us joy and happy memories, and fulfilling opportunities. Those get subjugated whenever you prioritize what the anxiety says that you “need to do today” or what the depression says “you can’t” do. The depression and the anxiety want us to prioritize those, but that’s not good for us. 

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What would you rather spend your time doing? 

What would you rather spend your time doing? (I know the answer: you would rather not be anxious or depressed because they suck!) You probably want to spend your time on the things that you love and that you want to prioritize. 

I learned this by working with people with anxiety: when something is important enough, people can overcome their fear. For example, I had this young client. She was about eight years old, and she had a trauma in her life that had to do with fire. And after that, she was afraid of all fire equipment, even exit signs, fire alarm switches, or fire extinguishers. If she was in any public building and saw any of these things, it would trigger a panic attack for this little girl. This, as you can imagine, prevented her from enjoying many activities or even deciding to do many things because she didn’t want to be near any fire equipment. 

One day, she went to work with her mom, so she was in a public building, and obviously, these things were around. That day she was hungry enough to walk past all of this fire equipment to get herself some cookies from the vending machine. She overcame that fear because there was something that had a higher priority. 

You need a priority

Standing up to anxiety is so much easier when you have something that you consider more important than doing what it says. Here’s another one. Sometimes people have a lot of anxiety about going to school, so it makes it really hard to go to school. But if there’s something that is important that day at school, something that’s going on or somebody’s birthday or a test that you have to take, or you’re giving somebody a notebook or something, that makes it easier to go to school. We need a priority, to face those fears and get over those fears. Purpose gives us priority. 

The last episode of season 5 prioritizes creativity. We need creativity in our life because it charges us up. They lift us up, give us a purpose, and enhance our relationships with people because we’re doing the activity with another person, making connections, or gifting something we’ve made. Humans have a significantly evolved, problem-solving brain. When you use that problem-solving brain to do something creative, it enhances, stimulates, and strengthens it, decreasing your anxiety and depression. 

When a person is depressed and anxious and is not busy, the reptilian brain will inform the prefrontal cortex to find a problem. It will look for something wrong so it ‘knows what to do’ because it’s trying to help you survive. When the monkey is looking for a problem––and you’re not directing it to find something productive, creative, or purposeful to do––then it’s going to find something negative (which, even if it is nonsensical, takes you out of feeling good).

Dan Buettner is the author of Blue Zones

Dan Buettner is the author of Blue ZonesBlue Zones is a huge research project from National GeographicNational Geographic is a magazine that you might not know about, but that’s been around for a really, really long time. They studied societies around the world where populations lived the longest. (Not so coincidentally, people who lived the longest are also the happiest, so their research is pertinent to us.) 

The study tried to identify the correlations between longevity, Happiness, and these locations. Dan figured out three things that all of these happy-long-living people had in common. One is life satisfaction. Two is a sense of purpose. And three is a pleasure. That confirms what we want in our life, too, right? We want to be satisfied with our life, we want a purpose, and we want some pleasure. So we’re with you, Dan, we would like that, too! 

Genetic Code: 40%

In the study, they realized what contributes to a person’s Happiness and longevity. Forty percent of it was their genetic makeup (genetic code). When things happen to you, they affect your genetic code. And so it affects our body in different ways and our mind in different ways. That’s 40%. What we know now from the study of epigenetics is that we do have some control over healing that genetic damage caused by toxins and traumas that we experience. Also, many studies are currently looking at the effects of ancestral trauma, the trauma that happened in previous generations. There’s an interest in healing ancestral trauma with epigenetics. It’s cutting-edge studies that are helping us understand the genetics that control 40% of our Happiness. Knowing this will help you know your genetics are not totally out of your control. 

There are things that we can do. I can’t remember which episode we’ll talk about that, but let me mention it a bit now. Scientists know that certain frequencies heal your genetic code. It heals the aging part of the genes. When you get older, the ends of the DNA fray. That can be healed, helping us feel better physically and mentally.

Luck is 10-15% of Happiness.

Dan Buettner also found that 10 to 15% of our Happiness has to do with luck. You may have assumed that your genes and this 10 to 15% of Happiness that is informed by luck is something that you can’t control. But don’t forget; luck could be good or bad, right? Good luck or bad luck. 

So within that 10% (or 10 to 15%) of the luck that contributes to your Happiness and your life, there is some good and some bad. Also, some is benign. Plus, some of your lifetime amount of bad luck you have already experienced. It’s done! 

That idea gives me hope. Anxiety makes you feel like luck is random and out of control. That gives it more meaning like it’s everything that matters. Anxiety makes you feel like 100% of everything is just luck and you have no control. That’s what the anxiety wants you to think because then it gets to wreak havoc on your life and gets to have control over you. However, anxiety can’t last, reign, or be in your life when you feel empowered. It needs you to feel out of control. 

45 to 50% is you

So 40% is genes, 10 to 15% is luck, and then the other 45 to 50% is you. The “you” percent. That’s your personal agency––all of your unique skills and abilities you use to respond to your life. You have 100% of control over this––your response to what happens to you. Maybe you can’t control everything. However, you have 100% of control over the thing that matters most: You percent. 

This whole chapter is dedicated (and most of the book) is dedicated to that you percent, so that you can feel empowered and good about where you want to go and what you want to do to create a life that you want to create. You can do that.

Back to Prioritizing Uplifting Relationships. 

Humans are social beings who need relationships to thrive. We cannot thrive in isolation. Instead, we despair, go downhill, and decompensate in isolation––in huge ways. I hope to have convinced you that during this podcast series, one of the worst things that you could do for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health is to be in isolation. 

That’s why COVID-19 had such a powerful impactful on us. At first, when we went into quarantine at the very beginning of Covid, people’s anxiety went down. One reason was that they didn’t have social anxiety anymore. But also, even though they were isolated, it felt like everybody was isolated. People who may have felt isolated for a long time felt like they belonged for the first time. Before the pandemic, they felt different, isolated, and very, very alone. And when the pandemic hit, at least when it first started, it felt like, “Oh, I’m the same as everybody else.” 

It made people feel they were part of something. People want to feel part of something. We want to belong. And even in our isolation, we belonged because everybody was in the same place. Of course, then it got old pretty quickly, and the drastic isolation started to affect us seriously negatively, like with our dopamine. When dopamine is not released for a while, which happens with extreme boredom or isolation, we lose interest in pleasure. Without stimulation, humans feel worse and worse and soon do not care if they ever feel better. That was a massive problem during the pandemic. 

Influence of Technology on Relationships: Decreased Physical Contact

Another thing, our phones do this, right? We’re not seeing each other in real life as much as we used to. We do have relationships. We have relationships with people online. But it’s not the same as relationships that we have in real life. We’re not seeing all of the body language that people use or all of their facial expressions. Even if we’re on video chat where you could see some of that stuff, you’re still missing a lot of the interaction. One of the biggest things you still need is touch. 

Humans need touch. 

They are the only primate on this earth that don’t use social grooming. Social grooming is when apes and chimps pick and eat bugs off each other. I know that’s really gross, but there’s a purpose to this more than just getting rid of the bugs. It decreases their fight or flight. So all animals have that fight or flight, at least down to the reptilians, because we call it our reptilian brain. So when these primates experience fight and flight, they use social grooming to decrease their stress and increase the GABA hormone, so the adrenaline decreases. It relaxes and regulates them.

Did you ever have somebody play with your hair? Doesn’t it relax you? When someone’s like just gently playing with your hair, it feels so good. That is the same aspect of social grooming; it relaxes you and makes you feel nurtured, cared about, and safe. We are the only primates that don’t use this process, but we need this process!

We need touch. 

Young people especially need touch because it helps them regulate their emotions. There are so many things that you’re going through trying to become an adult. If you’re an adult listening to this, you might have witnessed teenagers always hugging each other. They’re always doing cuddle puddles. They crave touch. However, isolation takes them away from the opportunity for physical contact. I’m repeating myself from other episodes on purpose since this might be the first episode you’ve listened to! Also, we need this repetition, right? Anxiety repeats itself, it repeats itself, repeats itself, and repeats itself! So we need this information repeated. Plus, I give you so much information in these episodes that I don’t know how you remember it. Please listen to them again and again!

Humans want to be seen. 

We are only a “self” in a relationship. We need uplifting relationships to reflect back who we are. And if you’re around people who are positive and care about you and love you and see the good in you, it feels different than when you’re around people who don’t see you, who don’t care about you, who are selfish, or who are mean to you. 

We want to matter and be cared about. We want to be seen for who we are and how we want to be seen. If you’re around people who put you down, that’s going to affect how you feel. That doesn’t mean we can’t affect ourselves or we can’t have compassion for ourselves. We need to have compassion for ourselves. But, to do that, we’re drawing on those good relationships. Even if we’re alone at the moment, I mean.

Kobe College Research Project on Kindness

I wanted to call your attention to one more thing I mentioned in this section of the book, which is the Kobe College research project because it just blew me away. I’m so interested in this phenomenon. Researchers tool 75 student participants and split them into two groups. To one group, they said, do nothing and rate your happiness levels. And to the other group they requested that at the end of their day, they write down any acts of kindness that did that day. They told them not to try to do anything different than they normally would, just write down if they did something kind. 

After whatever the amount of time of the research study was, the group that wrote down their kindnesses reported more Happiness and pleasure, and had an increased sense of purpose, just by writing down and noticing what they had done. 

Remember, we have this deficit mentality culture. We constantly look at our deficits and what we don’t do. And so when we, on purpose, look at what we do, either for others, for ourselves, or for a goal, it impacts our relationship with ourselves. This affects our happiness, our decisions, and how we perform ourselves in life. Our happiness affects how we perform. Perform – I don’t mean perform in terms of perfection, “perform” meaning how you act in the world. How you “present” is a better way to say that. 

Kindness doesn’t cost anything.

it is so valuable to us to be kind to others. And it feels so good. Another example of how kindness benefits you is when you’re talking about tolerance and inclusion. For example, racism is a problem for everybody. For sure, people of color suffer the worst consequences of racism, but people who identify as white are also negatively affected. Racism is led by fear, which makes people feel powerless and leads them to seek power over others. That’s not a well person. So creating an anti-racist society is good for everybody. Act with kindness, tolerance, tolerance of LGBTQIA+, tolerance of people who are different than you, or people who live with disabilities. Be understanding, uplifting, compassionate, and gentle to all beings. 

You don’t know what someone else is going through in their day, so your little bit of kindness, a smile, holding the door, helping somebody pick something up, or a compliment could change a person’s day and potentially their life. Kindness saves lives! So never hesitate to be kind.

Thank you for reading Prioritize Uplifting Relationships

Thank you so much for listing to this episode of Anxiety… I’m So Done with You! with me, Doctor Jodi.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. We talked about what’s going to go on in Chapter 5. We talked about 

  • what matters most to your Happiness. 
  • my Formula for Happiness. 
  • relationships and why they are so important in your life. 

Thank you so much for commenting, subscribing, listening, sharing, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. I really appreciate you. While you’re waiting, come hang out with me on YouTube and TikTok @DoctorJodi.

Thank you so much for joining me in this season. I appreciate your subscribing, commenting, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. Get ready for Chapter 5, Section 2: Prioritize Energizing Surroundings. Read or listen to that, and I will see you there. In the meantime, hang out with me on YouTube and TikTok at Doctor Jodi

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