How to Whip up Wellbeing with Five Brain-based Strategies – PS 063


Episode Introduction to Five Brain-based Strategies

In this show, Dr Judy Krings talks to us about coaching through the lens of neuroscience and how to make it easy. Her focus is on practical doable actions that are grounded in neuroscience. She offers us five specific brain-based strategies to whip up wellbeing.  

Knowing how our brains process data coming in and data existing already in our minds, hearts and  bodies can really help coaches and their clients, and not only coaches, but all of us.  Knowledge is power, as they say.  And having some knowledge about how our brain works, can only help us be more powerful!

It’s a welcome back to Dr Judy Krings. The first time Dr Judy was on the show, we talked about Revving Up Your Relationship Resilience: 7 Positive Psychology Tips to Make Love Last.  In that episode, (ps19) , which is one of the most popular shows, Judy walks us through seven positive psychology tips to make love last.  You might want to listen again, or read her book of the same title.  It’s a wonderful read.

brain based strategies - Judy at the HelmDr Judy Krings’ background is in clinical psychology, and, for many years now, Judy’s focus has been on  wellbeing and positivity as a positivity coach.  She teaches positive psychology through MentorCoach, LLC.  

As you listen in, you'll hear Judy's humor.  It is one of her top five signature strengths, and is also one of the five top brain-based strategies to whip up well-being. 

A Beam of Light Signaling a Career Trajectory

To start the conversation, I inquired into what might there have been in Judy’s early life that  influenced her to do the work she chose to do – particularly the focus on positivity and wellbeing and the sciences behind it.   You’ll be curious to learn that Judy’s interest in science, particularly psychology came to her literally as a beam of light.   She wanted to figure out why her dad was an alcoholic, and how she might be able to help him.

Seven minutes into the show, Judy makes a very clear distinction between what she used to do in the traditional clinical psychology field and how she now works as a positivity coach informed by neuroscience and the field of positive psychology.

Basics of Brain-based Coaching

Judy and I explore a range of topics at the start that include:

  • Why knowing how brain science works is important for coaches and how clients benefit.
  • What neuroplasticity is.  What facilitates neuroplasticity.  
  • Some of the reactions of her clients when she introduces neuroscience
  • Positive outcomes of these brain-based strategies

Every time you learn something new, you change your brain. When you choose new thoughts, adopt new habits, try out new behaviors, you change the structure of your brain.  The key is to keep practicing all this newness, so you strengthen the cells in the brain – neurons  – and thereby laying down a pathway to a new brain.   Just think about the amazing growth of our brains when we are young children.  Experiencing curiosity, novelty and wonder are natural to us in our early development.  

Our behaviors and our habits create changes in the brain by strengthening the neurons.  That works in the positive and the negative. So if you want to focus on well being, then the following five brain-based strategies will whip up your well-being.

Five Brain Based Strategies to Change your Brain for Good

Judy prefaces her explanation of the five brain-based strategies with the thought that these strategies sound easy.  Yet, we need mindfulness to make them truly effective and sustainable.  By that, she means we need to embrace them thoughtfully and with conscious awareness.  It goes back to practice, practice, practice.  It takes work and time to rewire the brain for good.

Embrace Novelty

  • Embrace novelty as your new best friend!  Remember, one of the proven ways to make a strength a habit is to learn to use it in a new way.  For example, in a relationship, change up the way you usually interact with someone by applying one of your character strengths.   You are developing yourself  in two very positive ways if you do that: you are strengthening your existing strength AND you are laying down new habits. A key word is stretch yourself to embrace novelty.

Experiment with LIfe

  • Be open and willing to experiment in life.  Let your inner kid out and play.  Let go of control!  Be messy!  Make mud pies! Screw up!  Accept failure! Your brain will get healthier. 

Be Curious

  • Pause and notice. Be mindful to look at life in a new way. Be more adventuresome. Take a risk.  Travel, if possible, truly helps to strengthen the brain because new interests get piqued, and curiosity is aroused.  Find something that arouses your curiosity.  Research the internet.  Get out of your old confining box!


  • Be grateful!  Gratitude and love of learning are the two top strengths that contribute most to feelings of well-being.  Reflect on life. Remember past happinesses and joys.   This is particularly helpful in challenging times – remember a time when you were at your peak and reconnect with those resources.


  • Stress less by harnessing humor.  Judy's humor shines through in our conversation:  ” Put away your pity pants and put on your big girl party pants or your big boy brawny bravado drawers, for you guys!”  Research shows laughter is a healer.  It also adds to longevity.  Cancer patients who watched funny TV shows lived longer than those who didn't.  Stretch your mind with laughter and your body with doing a crazy gratitude dance.  It helps to give your brain a break… and do something new!

Wrapping Up

With awareness of these five brain-based strategies to help whip up your welling-being, next step is to make a plan about how to use them.  Imagining a positive future where you project yourself into the future,  you are creating new thoughts and by taking action you are developing new habits and strengthening new neural connection to change your life. 

As we are aware, often the plumber’s house leaks, or the shoemaker’s daughter has no shoes, Judy transparently offers that applying these brain-based strategies starts at home.  As a coach, being mindful of one’s own growth, requires self-compassion and kindness to oneself.

Go for it. Life is short. Your brain will thank you for it!

How to Connect with Judy

Judy's website Coaching Positivity

Judy on Google+

Judy on Facebook

Judy on LinkedIn

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Self Awareness and Values Development, With Stephan Thieringer – PS030

Positivity Strategist Podcast guest Stephan Thieringer is truly a global citizen. From his experiences as an executive and entrepreneur in hospitality, venture capital, tech startups, mergers and acquisitions, he now focuses on leadership and executive development, with a strong emphasis on radical self awareness and values development. His business tag line is “Because Building a better You is Good for Business.”

Episode Overview

Radical Self-Awareness and the process of how to arrive there is the focus of my conversation with Stephan Thieringer. It’s a personal innovation story. Stephan talks about the importance of acting versus reacting and the level of awareness that’s required around the decisions we make every day.  We are required to make choices, both personal and professional, constantly in all contexts:  communications, relationships, finances,  priority management etc.  Another piece of Stephan’s story is, in fact, the power of “our story” and how we construct it.   Does our story support us or does it lead to self sabotage, fueled by limiting or false beliefs?

Episode Introduction

Self Awareness and Values Development with Stephan ThieringerMy guest, Stephan Thieringer’s professional journey includes starts and stops in hospitality, venture capital, tech startups, mergers and acquisitions, and in global education in Australian, South East Asian and North American markets.  All these experiences have shaped him. He has been featured in business and education publications such as EduTech, Business Week, the Financial Express, the Hindu Times, NYT, Boston Globe, Times of India, the Wall Street Journal  and the Boston Business Journal.  He’s also an Adjunct Professor in the  Faculty Management & Entrepreneurship, Suffolk University – Sawyer School of Business in Boston.

Stephan has a strong and public voice for innovative thinking about the nexus of business, strategy and education, with a proven track record of making a difference.  He received the World Education Award for “visionary leadership in impacting economic development” in 2012.

Bulldog Approach

Stephan’s website is The Human Innovation Garage with a tag line “Because Building a better You is Good for business.” The featured image on his website is the bulldog.  Why?  For Stephan, the bulldog stands for

“A direct, no bull, and blatantly honest approach”

Stephan:  Bulldogs are friendly and warm, and they have and intensity – all of which is needed in our world today.

Stephan practices what he preaches. His own story reveals that one thing had become front and center to own “detriment”.  He values transparency and honesty. His personal story is one of self awareness and values development: there came a fork in the road for him.  He had to confront who he was in the world: his own values and what he stood for Vs the direction in which the company (Board) was heading.  His own integrity and values had him take a big career move.

Self-Awareness and Values Development

Stephan came to a radical self awareness about himself, his gifts, his passions, his value to the world and now makes a living out of what he loves to do.

From his own experience and learnings, he makes it his business now to help leaders (and he has a very clear definition of leadership, as distinct from management.  We have a lively conversation about that, perhaps colored by our respective European and Anglo-saxon cultural imprints).

Listen in to our conversation to find out how Stephan helps leaders and teams find what drives their businesses, focus on their own values development, and acknowledge ways they can better manage themselves and communicate more effectively, and also be able to support and inspire each other.

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Social Impact

Stephan talks about the need to move beyond lip service, especially when it comes to investors talking about “social impact” and the motives of investing in projects and initiatives in the developing world.  He fully appreciates the need for follow-though to make a true, sustainable difference in the world.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

As a generalization, we all believe our own bull – we get very serious and intense in defending our own worldview. We become the “unlovable” side of the bulldog!  We react or respond to situations from our habits, some of which serve and some don’t.

“Don’t you know who you think I am?” is a question Stephan bamboozles his friends with.

Humility and vulnerability are qualities which great leaders demonstrate with grace and ease. The task of leadership is to be of service and support.

Trust, Fear and Self-Sabotage

“I can’t trust other people”  scores high among the inhibitors that impede growth and values development.  Micro-managing is a detriment to good performance and developing strong relationships.

Listen to Stephan provide some tips about how you can make some positive changes that will help not only your own performance, but will ripple through relationships and business outcomes.

Truth, Clarity, Honesty

Our conversation around getting people engaged so there are few surprises provides valuable insights. When employees have awareness about their organization’s strategic direction, meaning people are valued as part of the fabric of a business, they become far more accepting of any hard decisions that have to be made – such as changes in areas that impact their own lives.

Hope for a Positive Future

People are our hope for a brighter future.  It’s encouraging to hear Stephan’s optimism about the future of business and the world.  He celebrates that we are increasingly more open and more accepting of difference.  Crowd and cloud intelligence are holding people collectively accountable.

How to Connect with Stephan Thieringer

Appreciative Investing with Ed Jacobson – PS004

Episode Summary

Ed Jacobson In this episode, my special guest is Ed Jacobson, PdD, MBA.  What’s special about Ed is his one of a kind Appreciative Financial Planning program.  He has carved a niche among Financial Advisory Companies to train and coach them to connect more deeply with their customers and strengthen sustainable relationships and partnerships.

Ed Jacobson is a psychologist, business coach, consultant, and speaker,  based in Madison, Wisconsin. Ed’s professional life  is rich and varied.  He’s served as an academic, a community mental health executive, a consultant in one of the big global firms, and for 15 years has he has focused his gifts in the financial advisory community.  Ed’s also a published author, and he continues to write, train, coach, speak  on the topics of positivity, emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry, neuroscience.

Ed poetically describes his first encounter with Appreciative inquiry as as his creation myth.  It was 1997 at an organization development network conference where he heard David Cooperrider speak about his work in Appreciative Inquiry (AI). It was fascinating to Ed, as it was so unlike any other change method.

Transformational Insights

His greatest insight came from Cooperrider saying:  “organizations move in the direction of the first question asked.”  That was the shift Ed had been waiting for.  It was a true transformation point for Ed that was a deep truth, and it collided with all that he had been trained in as a psychologist and and MBA.  It was clear to Ed, this perspective applied equally to individuals as it did to organizations.

To be true to oneself

This new experience and awareness felt so right for Ed. In order to be true to himself, he had to follow through. For any of us to be true to ourselves, it means a commitment, a vision and a drive.  AI became Ed’s beacon.

Around the same time, he met and became friends with with George Kinder, founder of Life Planning Institute that brought life planning into financial advisory services.  This meeting opened up the opportunity for Ed to bring his beat into this space – the appreciative perspective to  financial advisory services.

Appreciative Investing with Ed JacobsonAppreciative Financial Planning

Ed marries the 6 steps of the CFP Financial planning standards with the Appreciative Inquiry principles and process, bringing appreciative/positive interviews at each step of the CFP process, to address the strengths and aspirations of the clients.  Ed “appreciatizes” the CFP planning process.  There’s a shift towards refocusing and understanding what is “real”, that is, the human side is to be valued as equally real as the number crunching side.

What is Positivity to you, Ed?

“It’s a way of looking at the world – world is not just out there, but it’s within yourself.  It begins at home – inside.  It’s an abiding belief system, which is more effective and satisfying than not having this belief. It leads to greater wellbeing, however you describe it.  It’s the best bet. There are tools, practices, techniques:  it’s research derived and verified; and it’s evidence-based.”

Steps to integrate positivity into your life

  1. Self – check: A quick process, taking a fraction of a second to determine how do I act in that momen – am I being authentic, congruent in the moment?
  2. Pause to rest in moment of silent space to consider the choice points of what might come next.
  3. Give ourselvs the space to choose:  Viktor Frankel quote :

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Dealing with negativity

  • Do the quick gut check about my own learned behavior.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s view – express empathy
  • Wait – let other person process
  • Suggest there might be other ways to look at it.
  • Limit contacts with people who are negative

Reminder of Jane McGruger Watkins’s great insight that if we encounter someone who has difficulty seeing anything positive in a situation, we can suggest to them that since they’ve painted a really clear picture of what isn’t working, it usually means they have picture of how it should be, of how things should be.  Ask them to paint me that picture.

Ed’s Workshops

  1. Positivity Skills for Professionals and other human
  2. The PATH Group
  3. Leadership Mastery ToolKit
    • Executive Mindset
    • Group Communcation
    • Integration of Positive Approach, Systems Thinking

Links Mentioned in this Episode


I'd love to hear from you!

Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message!

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