Let’s face it – we’re stressed! The TV is alway on, dinner is late, eggs cost $7 a dozen, your prescriptions need to be filled, and the list goes on and on.
What if we could find some clarity? What if that sense of calm is already inside you, it just needs to be nurtured?
Finding how to get to an ultimate level of happiness, which they call “Life is Wonderful,” is the focus of the new book Wellness to Wonderful by Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman, the New York Times bestselling doctors behind The Forks Over Knives Plan, Forks Over Knives Family, and Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole. Pulde and Lederman have spent their careers treating chronic illnesses through diet and lifestyle practices and honed their thinking working at Whole Foods, where they teamed with legendary founder John Mackey.
Getting to Wonderful
At the core of Pulde and Lederman’s philosophy is a self-guided journey to your authentic self that brings about a sense of joy, safety, health, and well-being that reverses physical disease and everyday maladies, like stress, work anxiety, and feelings of isolation. According to actress, Jeopardy host, and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, the authors have created a system leading to “the next step to understanding your health and your potential in deeply transformative ways.”
Given the heightened anxiety many people feel, they are desperate to pop a pill or follow a fad to get healthy, but diets and lifestyle changes are challenging and get dropped faster than the New Year’s gym membership. Instead, Pulde and Lederman urge, the path to wonderful is paved by integrating authentic connection with family, friends, colleagues, spirit, and the natural world.
But, the authors caution, the path forward is not just a New Agey hop, skip, and jump to one’s inner self or tricking your brain into a facade of joy.
“The key to Life Is Wonderful is understanding that it is not about being happy all the time. It’s embracing life in its totality, with all of its ups and downs, that can make it wonderful,” write Pulde and Lederman. “It’s about finding joy even when you are uncertain, uncomfortable, sad, angry, scared, or grieving. The idea is to be intentional about where we place our energy and what we give attention to. Our circumstances may not change but our perception of them can, and in that way, we can make different choices that may impact outcomes.”
The transition, they explain, is to get “out of our heads and into our hearts.” In other words, as we focus on thinking, interpreting, and analyzing, we place creativity, exploration, and vision aside. “Our hearts, on the other hand, know that when we find joy within, everything else falls into place. The trust here is not in some ethereal magic but rather in the understanding that, when we are happy, we naturally lift ourselves out of a scarcity mentality and become more expansive.”
Working on this transition from head to heart is not easy and does not eliminate our struggles. But, our eyes are opened to the challenges and we give ourselves grace to confront them with new perspectives.
Wonderful at Work
Pulde and Lederman explore all facets of life, including how Life is Wonderful might be implemented at work. Their focus centers on overcoming isolation and finding ways to feel emotionally comfortable and safe.
To find joy at work, we must overcome the “state of artificial harmony” that we use to suppress our true selves to “get by.” They counter those covering mechanisms, explaining, “If our health and happiness are a priority, it behooves us to adopt a particular mindset at work that improves our resourcing and connection skills and allows us to eliminate the suppression that signals threat to our bodies.”
What Pulde and Lederman counsel is that people recognize their own needs and how they meet those needs, which is crucial for operating at our best.
“Ultimately, caring for ourselves in this way, day after day and moment by moment, allows us to show up at work as the best version of ourselves on a sustainable basis,” they explain. “Often simply connecting to our needs alone stimulates a sense of peace and safety in our bodies because it is less about meeting all of our needs immediately and more about being aware of their existence.”
As employees and colleagues, we find that eliminating artificial harmony and replacing it with compassion and authenticity creates “long-term satisfaction” and “long-term health.” Addressing real needs without judgment and criticism, they explain, cultivates trust “that everyone’s needs will be cared for as soon as time and capacity permits. It is within this approach to your work that Life Is Wonderful.”
Focus on What’s Right
In a world fixated on quick fixes and in a healthcare system that is teetering on the brink, Pulde and Lederman offer a different path in Wellness to Wonderful. For many readers, the journey will be an eye-opener and begin the quest to both question and proceed differently.
“Unlike what commonly happens in most medical visits, we don’t start by asking what’s wrong with you, we start by asking what does right look like? What would it take for life to be wonderful? Not perfect and not without ups and downs, but joyful, connected, meaningful, and ultimately wonderful. Many of us have not spent time thinking about who we are authentically, what is alive in us, and how we could feel fulfilled. Yet we believe we have a clear vision of where we want to be and what changes will lead us there,” they explain.
Joyful, connected, meaningful, wonderful – Not a bad objective, huh?