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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

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Beyond the Want

Posted By Dr. Lana M. Saal, EdD, MCHES, CWP, CTTS, Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Perhaps one of the strongest expressions of want hails from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, when Veruca Salt bellows out, “I WANT IT NOW!” Whereas she had her rich parents to buy or get her anything in an instant, most of us don’t have that privilege. Ah, but like Veruca, we do have our “wants” in life.

We want cars, clothes, nice homes, and a multitude of other tangibles. We want to lose weight, become healthy, or get more organized. We want people in our lives and our kids to be safe and successful. We want to start a new career (or retire), travel, be in places, to accomplish, or to be happy. 

Want, by definition, is a verb and kick-starts thoughts of potential action. When we think or speak that very word, meaning to have a desire to possess or do, in essence, what we are saying to ourselves, or out loud, is, “Yes, this is something I yearn for.” 

We think of our wants as something we could achieve, maybe, down the road—eventually perhaps. From the spark of the thought of a want, what happens next in our mind is a mental conversation. Within a matter of a few seconds, the human brain adeptly and quite comfortably goes to a litany of reasons why that want is not possible. We quickly create a mental list of all of the excuses (let’s call them choices) as to why our wants seem unobtainable. Impossibility reigns over possibility.

Did you know humans are actually wired to be more comfortable with the negative? There is actually an increased surge in electrical activity from thoughts that are negative that occur within the brain. This stems back to the fight or flight response, whereas danger (negative) would prepare the human body for what may possibly threaten life and living. The mind and body are more on guard, ensuring survival.  The brain has learned to be more comfortable in this state. In modern day life, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by the downbeat, rather than the good.

Understanding the why behind how we react or respond is essential to understanding human nature and creating change.  

It’s not that we are unable or incapable of achieving our wants. Not at all. Rather, we need to first start with an awareness of patterning that has occurred throughout life experiences. The “I can’t rant” is a louder voice than the one that compels us to believe in ourselves. We often stay stuck in doubt and fear rather than move sure-footedly toward achieving our wants.

There is a brain-based ability called neuroplasticity, which is an adaptive patterning by the mind. This has historically worked against us through repetitive, old, negative thought patterns. The more we act or behave in a certain way, the more those pathways become imprinted in the brain. Researchers, practitioners, and adapters are finding this brain malleability can actually work in our favor if we simply change the thought processes. 

The human mind can change its physical structure and mode of thought processing, based upon our own input of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Gone now is the decades-old belief that the brain was fixed and not capable of learning, changing, or growing past a certain age.

In seeking the hearts’ desire, work toward shifting the thought processes of the mind. Within those first few moments, shift the internal dialogue to replace the tendency toward negatives with more positive and affirming thoughts and statements. It’s akin to flipping a light switch (which provides an excellent visual reminder for all of us). Though this incredibly powerful step starts with small achievables, know you are rewiring the brain. This how we start to go beyond the want. 

Lana Saal holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Master’s in Health, and Bachelor’s in Nutrition; Certified Wellness Practitioner (CWP) through the National Wellness Institute and certifications as Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing; and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS).

Tags:  Behavior Change  Emotional wellness  Mental Health  Mindfulness 

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Just say NO to New Year’s Resolutions and YES to Change!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A simple search for New Year’s Resolutions on the internet and you’ll get bombarded by lists of why they don’t work. If you want four, or six, or eight, or even 15 reasons, the internet has a blog, an article, or a post for you. There are also statistics. A third fail in the first week, 75% fail by the end of January, 88% fail overall. The landscape is pretty grim.

Yet, as members of the wellness community, we see change happen every day. We see changes that make people healthier and more, well. So the issue isn’t resolving to change. The thing is…how we resolve to change. One article mentioned that resolutions are often about what we think we should do, not what we want to do, and so they fail (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/new-years-resolutions-dont-work-heres-why.html). That writer might have a point. After all, our commitment levels are influenced by our needs and wants.

Wellness experts have also found that many resolutions are too broad. For instance, there is a difference between resolving to lose weight and resolving to eat more greens at every meal. One is a very large and unspecific goal. The other is a specific strategy to reach a goal which makes it more manageable.

If you insist on having a New Year’s Resolution, here are a few tips inspired by PsychCentral.com (http://psychcentral.com/lib/rethink-those-failed-new-years-resolutions/00018625).

First, consider starting before New Year’s Eve! The resolution is about change, so timing shouldn’t matter. If you need to give yourself “free” days around the holidays, remember a one- or two-day break doesn’t mean failure. Change is long term and you can always pick up where you left off.

Then set small, doable, intermediate goals. Take the example about losing weight above…what can you specifically do to get your diet or exercise on track?

Make a plan for these specific changes. If your resolution is to be more social, how are you going to implement that plan? Who will you call? Do you want to set a goal for at least one weekly outing?

Go public. Tell people about your plan so they can support you and check in on you. Everything is easier with support.

Keep track of your progress. If your goal is to have more occupational wellness, what are steps you need to take to achieve that goal. Write them down with an estimated timeline and check off each thing you have accomplished.

Set up a compatible reward system. Once you check off progress points to your goal, give yourself a reward. From the school-inspired gold stars to a new kitchen gadget, rewards big and small are a symbol that we have accomplished something. Allow yourself moments to enjoy your own accomplishments. 

Tags:  Behavior Change  December 2014  Emotional  Physical 

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February Inspiration – Choices

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014


We are our choices.
― Jean-Paul Sartre

We don't get to chose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it.
― Kami Garcia, Beautiful Darkness

We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.
― Ken Levine

If you choose to not deal with an issue,
then you give up your right of control over the issue
and it will select the path of least resistance.
― Susan Del Gatto

Whatever you decide, don't let it be because you don't think you have a choice.
― Hannah Harrington, Saving June

I fell in love with him. But I don't just stay with him by default as if there's no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
― Robert Frost

Tags:  Behavior Change  Choices  February 2014  Inspiration  Wellness 

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Quotes for the New Year

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

Follow the Yelloe Brick RoadThis is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.

- Taylor Swift


And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.

- Rainer Maria Rilke


No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!

- C. JoyBell C.


Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

- L. Frank Baum


Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

- Carl Bard


Now I've gone for too long
Living like I'm not alive
So I'm going to start over tonight
Beginning with you and I

- Hayley Williams


Even seasonal situations can bring with them lessons that last a lifetime. If the love doesn’t last, it prepares you for the one that will.

- Mandy Hale

Surrender...sacrificing my life or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed.

- Rick Warren


It took me a very long time to accept that an ending was really just a new beginning.

- Charlene May


I read about history I don't repeat it.

- nechantenique

Tags:  Behavior Change  Inspiration  January 2014  New Beginnings 

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Inspiration: Inspired by Independence Days and Patriotism Everywhere!

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, June 28, 2013

Freedom"Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation and freedom in all just pursuits." – Thomas Jefferson

"Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose." – Simone Weil

"On life's journey
Faith is nourishment,
Virtuous deeds are a shelter,
Wisdom is the light by day and
Right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him;
If he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom." – Budda

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom." – Albert Einstein

"For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?" – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty." - Louis D. Brandeis

"As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery.
We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace.
The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as
anger and attachment, fear and suspicion,
while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility
are the sources of peace and happiness." – Dalai Lama

"The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves." - William Hazlitt

"Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus

"In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Ask not what your country can do for you...but what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy

"We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – William Faulkner

"The constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness, you have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

Tags:  Behavior Change  Emotional  Freedom  Inspiration  Intellectual  July 2013 

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Fun Facts on Behavior Change (Jan. 2013)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, December 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's resolutions are often made, but many people wonder how to be successful in changing behavior. January's Fun Facts column includes information on behavior change and how to be realistic in overcoming unhealthy behaviors. For more information on behavior change, please see the Guide to Behavior Change.

  • Examining current health habits and wanting to change is important before choosing a target behavior. Understanding which aspects of your life are negatively influencing your health and wellness is important before acting upon your New Year's resolution.
  • Be realistic in your goal. Any behavior change can be difficult, so focusing on a small goal first provides less room for failure. Choosing multiple resolutions at once or beginning with a large health change can cause more stress and be discouraging.
  • Think about how your resolution affects your health and wellness and how changing it will transform your life. If you do not change this behavior, willyou have increased health risks? Are you changing this behavior for yourself or someone else? The greatest successes in behavior change stem from self-motivation and changing for yourself.
  • If you are motivated to change a challenging behavior that interferes with daily living, but have difficulty accomplishing it on your own, do not be afraid to seek help. Medical professionals are great resources to assist in being successful in a targeted behavior change.
  • Recognize the short- and long-term pros and cons of the behavior. Write out how not changing the behavior can affect you positively or negatively and how your life will be affected if you accomplish your resolution. In order to be successful in behavior change, the benefits of changing should be more influential than the cost of giving up the habit.
  • Self-confidence plays a huge factor in one's belief of success. If you have confidence in yourself and believe you can conquer your resolution, themore effective you will be at overcoming your unhealthy behavior.
  • Use past mistakes to benefit your future. Do not be discouraged by past trial and errors, but instead learn from the mistakes that were made. Understand what the barriers were that lead to failure and prepare for them for your current goal. Before attempting to change, discover ways you canovercome the barriers so you do not make the same mistakes for this New Year's resolution.

Article by Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

Reference: Fahey, T. (2011). Introduction to Wellness, Fitness, and Lifestyle Management. Fit & Well. Retrieved on December 11, 2012, fromhttp://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/dl/free/0073523720/581906/Chapter_1.pdf

Tags:  Behavior Change  Emotional  Fun Facts  January 2013  Physical  Social 

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Declaration of MY Independence (December 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, October 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

Every year millions of Americans set new goals, write down their wants, and decide that this year, is a new year. Every year millions of Individuals set New Year's Resolutions. This saying has lost all true meaning when analyzed. After asking family and friends, most people could conclude that last year's resolutions have gone unresolved and unnoticed. That is why this year things are going to be different. This year were starting the Declaration of MY Independence.

It's time the millions of people who want to change something about themselves or their lives really make that change. In a recent study, 40-45 percent of Americans make a New Year's Resolution. Of those 75 percent will continue their efforts past the first week, 71 percent past the first two weeks, 64 percent after one month, and 46 percent after six months.

We want to get people away from the idea of a "New Year's Resolution" And move towards real change. Let's face it, this isn't about doing something for 2011, it's about doing something for yourself and making a change in your life. So, we want it to last well past 2011.

The first thing is to set that goal. It might be aiming to lose the first twenty pounds you have been dying to get rid of, or maybe it's losing the last twenty. It may be to quit smoking or exercise more. It may simply be to eat more fruits and vegetables. Every goal, no matter how small, is worth something. But do remember, when making these goals, we do want them to be realistic. Losing 100 pounds may not be the place to start. Think about losing the first twenty and then working from there.

After a goal is set, formulate a plan. Make a Declaration of MY Independence so everything is set in stone. When something is written down, the likelihood of itt happening is much greater. Also, set a time line. Make a calendar or spreadsheet to make dates more concrete. Don't write, Eat more vegetables, instead write, eat a serving of carrots on Tuesday, broccoli on Wednesday, and so on.

Put pressure on yourself, but remember everyone screws up. Don't get down on yourself for not making your morning workout or for eating that extra piece of pie. Just move on from your slip and try not to let it happen again. Many people, after they have a mix up, end up giving up on their entire program and might even forget all the progress that they have already made.

Also, some people find it helpful if they set rewards for themselves if they achieve their goals or if they continue to stay on the right track. Remember, these goals don't have to be, I get to eat an extra piece of pie, they should be something more like, I get to buy myself a new dress, or I get to buy that new kitchen appliance I want. This way the goals are not directly linked with the goal in mind, and they don't undermine the goal, but act as their own reward.

Now it is time to write it down or think about the goal that you have been dying to achieve. Make sure it is something that you truly want and something that is achievable. You can use our attached sheet to fill out some simply questions, or write it down in your journal or planner. This is about you. It's your turn to make a change and it starts today. Take back your independence and give yourself the freedom to make real change! Say good bye to failed New Year's Resolutions and say hello to YOU!

Declaration of MY Independence

I, _____________________, am declaring that I am going to make this change in my life:

The reason I want to make this change is for the following reason(s):

I am going to achieve my goals for doing the following:

I am hoping to achieve my goals by this date:

My reward to myself for achieving this goal is:


Tags:  Behavior Change  December 2010  Emotional  Intellectual  physical  Resolutions  Social 

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Behavior Change Resource Series: Social (May 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, May 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

Social, this dimension of wellness encompasses the concepts of beneficial impacts, communication, and actions within the communities and environments we coexist in. Consider the different communities you are a part of and the environments in which you participate.

To get a better idea of all that you impact and that impacts you, begin to examine your life in the environments where you spend the most time and move towards environments you rarely spend time in, for example: home, work, public spaces, and nature. You can even consider the environments which you rarely are in, for example: a once a year vacation spot. Environments describe more than the natural environment of the earth we live in. Environments are different in our homes than they are at our jobs. Some actions may be acceptable or commonplace in one but not the other.

Next examine the different communities you contribute to and are affected by. Your: family and friends, neighborhood, town or city, state, nationality. These communities also cover different groups you might be a part of. These could include: support groups, sports groups or teams, religious affiliation, even communities which seem to have little to do with your life can affect you. An example would be the friend of your spouse. They may not be your friend directly but if your spouse discusses friends with you then they are impacting your life.

These exercises will give you a better picture of how wide your web is and what environments and communities might have an effect on you. It is very important to try to increase the quality of communication in our communities and the impact of our actions on our environments.

Test your environmental impact at: http://www.myfootprint.org/en/. Once you have taken the quiz, be sure to visit Reduce Your Footprint for ideas to lessen your impact at: http://www.myfootprint.org/en/take_action/reduce_your_footprint//.

This website gives some great tips on successful communication with others: http://www.ncsu.edu/health_promotion/Stress/communication.html

This website: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm addresses nonverbal communication skills.

The National Wellness Institute offers the following tenets to strive for physical wellness:

  • It is better to contribute to the common welfare of our community than to think only of ourselves.
  • It is better to live in harmony with others and our environment than to live in conflict with them.

Tags:  Behavior Change  May 2010  Social 

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