Thinking Out Loud – Ep: 003 – Impact Vaccine

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Today, we discuss the impact vaccine that will inoculate us against all this pandemic uncertainty. We break apart the individual components that comprise flow, and we discover the keys to resilience!

Episode Transcript:

Andrew J Mason:

This is Thinking Out Loud, with Dr. Joe Currier. Episode Three, An Impact Vaccine to Manage Dis-ease

Andrew J Mason:

Welcome to Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. My name’s Andrew J. Mason, and this is the show where we hit the pause button on life, head to the locker room for some life changing halftime inspiration, and then zoom back in and grab the tactics direct from Dr. Joe’s playbook to pull it all together when we’re on the field. Each week we’ll hit a different topic, today we deconstruct the three culprits that prohibit our ability to get into that flow state, and introduce an impact vaccine that puts us back in the driver’s seat in the face of uncertainty.

Dr. Joe Currier:

This viral crisis is making a mess of our lives, personally, professionally, socially, economically, politically. Is nothing sacred in this pandemic? I invite you to think out loud with me. I will combine the conceptual with the practical how to’s, mainly how to respond, not react to the tsunami of negativity. When one reacts, you are playing a defensive game rather than creating your own proactive solution to any problem. My primary mission is to take a closer look at how and when to apply what I call an impact vaccine in the face of trauma. We need to manage dis-ease, the social emotional tension of uncertainty and isolation. We need to do this before it becomes a debilitating physiological disease.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Did you notice in this opening statement there are two contagions? The virus itself, and each individual’s response to uncertainty, worry, isolation, anticipating the what if’s and what’s next. These can create self-defeating, self-fulfilling medical conditions, dis-ease producing disease. On a physiological level, the body constantly seeks to maintain homeostasis. That’s a fancy way to say a natural balance. In order to operate in a healthy manner, the body has an army of natural combatants to destroy invaders and restore biological calm and equilibrium. There have been painfully dramatic times, like the Spanish flu, when nature exceeds the body’s capacity to resolve viral attacks. Which is when our medical scientific teams go to work. In the 1950s, Dr. Jonas Salk came to our rescue with a vaccine to kill the polio virus. That’s an example of professional heroics. There are many. I am totally confident that our current medical scientific team will soon discover and produce a vaccine to neutralize the coronavirus. Go team.

Dr. Joe Currier:

But remember, there are two contagions. It’s the second contagion that concerns me. When stress, the rate of wear and tear on the body, when stress surpasses what is called the body’s allostatic load, bad things happen. The allostatic load, it’s kind of like a fuse or a trip switch in an electrical panel. When the body reaches overload, watch out. The second contagion, again, the psychological forces, can be even more damaging than the first. Looking at the two contagions, it’s not the medical management that concerns me. Our medical first responders are better than ever. Frankly, it’s you and I that I worry about.

Dr. Joe Currier:

An impact vaccine is an inoculation against uncertainty, isolation, distress, ambiguity, and worry about the new normal. The current trauma has three primary origins. First, when nature goes outside of historic boundaries, I’ll explain. Second, when people hurt other people, and third, self abuse. The latter is not intended as self abuse, but it is. Remember there’s a difference between one’s intention and the impact of the choices we make.

Dr. Joe Currier:

We human beings are being assaulted like never before. The stats look like a lineup on the police drama Law And Order. Which of the three assaults is the current culprit? If we can identify the assault, we might find survival items to help face the problem. For example, the first assault, it’s kind of like a tsunami. Therefore, a life jacket and a raft could help. Oceanographers, seismologists warn individuals who are at the wrong place at the wrong time, “You better have that jacket and raft. There is a seismic tidal wave. An earthquake sends a shock wave of water that can drown who was ever in its path.” The first assault, well, in fact, it’s nature out of control. For example, when a virus jumps over the animal/ human barrier that has always, at least up until recently, stayed where it belongs. When this happens, we need medical vaccines to build antibodies to stem the tide against the that follows the barrier breach.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The second assault is like a robbery or a mugging. Hence, we need better policing and common sense laws or rules. The second assault, people hurting other people. How do I protect myself from an assault by you? Okay, I know you won’t rob or mug me, but you can like never before seriously injure me. If you let quarantine fatigue justify breaking the rules of common sense, I’m in trouble. So will you? Can I trust you to do the right things? Will you keep a social distance, not touch? Will you wash your hands, cough and sneeze into an elbow? I need you to follow smart rules, and I promise I will do the same to protect you and yours.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The third assault is within our personal control. In order to define it, I need a mirror to look the perpetrator in the eyes. My eyes and your eyes. You and I need to get real and take charge of what we can control. Thoughts, feelings, choices we make in light of the new normal. The whole reacting versus responding, or the opposite, to the ongoing bombardment of bad news. We need to maximize momentum and minimize drag. The third assault requires an honest look into a mirror. Only you and I on a personal level can halt the social psychological pandemic, dis-ease to halt disease. The impact of worry and distress can be as harmful as the virus itself. In fact, for the majority of people than heaven, while the coronavirus is dangerous, painful, disabling, for most it’s relatively short-lived versus the ongoing rate of wear and tear of worry, et cetera.

Dr. Joe Currier:

I often use metaphors to make a point, but when I say impact vaccine, I am not talking metaphorically. I am looking to build real wellness, high-level wellness and peak performance through a mind-body inoculation. Impact vaccine is introducing social emotional antibodies. I said it before, not antibodies as in against are attacking the body, merely reversing the energy sequence from body-mind to mind-body.

Dr. Joe Currier:

You are what you think. Our mind needs to be more involved in leading with clear folk solutions, rather than hiding and catastrophizing in the face of distress. The need for an impact vaccine adds this third antibody that will protect the body over the long run. Our goal is to convert, not eradicate tension. Stress is a life constant. It’s our impact vaccine that will create healthy tension, from distress, negative impact, to eustress, E-U-S-T-R-E-S-S. Positive forces that halt to cause and effect deterioration between internal and external forces.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So in the face of this current pandemic, and whatever else comes our way in the future, our mission is to identify and manage dis-ease, psychosocial forces, before it becomes disease. To flow is to remain focused, mindful, relaxed, and in control. For this direct viral invasion, I am waiting for our courageous army of scientists and first responders to bring us a medical solution to inoculate against the disease. But remember, tsunami’s coming too. The second wave is the mind body-response, which can be bigger and more devastating, just like a real tsunami. Up to this point, we have been reacting, not responding, which means we are facing a unique historic moment, when our world as we know it seems to be falling apart. We’re letting microscopic forces intimidate and defeat us. We’re the survival of the fittest. We need to respond, not react. And therefore, I’d like to take a look at the psychology of flow.

Andrew J Mason:

Dr. Joe, in the first podcast you tapped into the idea of flow with your friend, and about how during World War II, he responded to the horrors that he faced by choosing the third flow option instead of fight or flight. But you have your own spin on this, so when bad things happen to you, how do you respond?

Dr. Joe Currier:

When I meet conflict, danger, unresolved emotions, and even when I finally had cancer, I added Les’s model to the advice of my dear mother. You young ones may not know it, but when I was a kid in the 40s, the 1940s and early 1950s, like many other kids, I was encouraged to save for a rainy day. I had my own bank book, a savings account, and my mom would say, “Earn money, enjoy some in the moment, and save some for a rainy day.” Over the years, I applied this philosophy to a mind-body life account, a flow account.

Andrew J Mason:

That’s an interesting idea. Using flow almost like a bank account that you can build and save into for when times get difficult. Okay, so do you have any examples of this?

Dr. Joe Currier:

When my mom passed, I managed the grief of her death first with tears, and later with stories of gratitude for the memories, and lessons on how I might show up for my younger ones. When I became ill with annoying flu or cold, or later bouts with cancer, giggles and hugs where the prescriptions that diminished the pain and caused me to look forward, not backwards.

Andrew J Mason:

Well said. Now I do want to get to the list of things that comprise this state of flow, and I know it’s important, but a one final question about this account before we head there. Is this flow bank account, the goal for it, is it to maintain maximum happiness? I mean, is happiness the accumulation of all of these elements?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Happiness is a primary want and need, I think, of all human beings. But I believe that happiness is not a goal in and of itself. It is the outcome of life lived with passion and purpose.

Andrew J Mason:

All right, very good. So let’s get back to these elements. I know we sort of snuck in the first element in Episode One, Belly Breathing. And in fact if folks missed that episode, we really just encourage them to head back there, and even roll through, there’s an entire exercise that Dr. Joe provides. It’s so important. But what about element number two?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Time poverty is next. Instead of stressing out, running from event to event, feeling trapped, feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and under constant pressure, time management strategies and habits or the order in the moment. Prioritize, plan, execute, with time for me, myself, and I. Remember, you’re the goose that lays the golden eggs. If you’re not well, we’re not well. Third, look into what we call the worry window. Your worry window. Using a four box matrix, consider the variables. First, is it important? Next, can you control it? When something is judged as truly important and you can do something constructive in the moment to positively impact it, that’s a green light for action.

Dr. Joe Currier:

To the other extreme, when something is not important, and you can’t do much about it, not much to affect a positive outcome, that is not in your best interest. You might want to flow. Automatic negative thoughts, what are called ANTs, they’re toxic forces. They begin as survival mechanisms, watching out for danger that may be lurking in the shadows. The problem is that they develop a mind of their own.

Andrew J Mason:

Okay, so I know we’re not down the list yet, but let’s camp out here for just a second. Why is this element, automatic negative thoughts, so insidious?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Victor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, teaches that everything can be taken from us except one final freedom: To choose how I respond. Remember the principle, stress is not an event, it’s my perception of an event. In my book, Excuses… EXCUSES: Why Aren’t You Healthier and more Effective? Why not investigate and better manage what we call necessary lies? The things you tell yourself to justify self-defeating thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.

Andrew J Mason:

Okay, that makes sense. What’s next?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Next, we want to build what we call adaptation energy. That is, energy a person expends when subjected to severe emotional and physical trauma, Hans Selye frankly had GAS. No, no, no, not that type. He shared what he referred to as the General Adaptation Syndrome. Three stages, alarm, resistance and exhaustion. The last is otherwise known as burnout, and we need to prepare ourself and strengthen ourself to be able to stay focused during difficult times.

Andrew J Mason:

Hey, let’s stay here for a second. I don’t want to get too off the beaten path. I do believe that this is related, though. Do you have any real life examples of how we do that? How do we stay focused?

Dr. Joe Currier:

The first, stress management. You know, check your EQ. Most of us know our IQ. We learned that early on in school, but how is your emotional intelligence? Build a proactive strategy in response to the fact that stress is not an event, it’s my perception of an event. My mind, my emotions, my life. So stay focused on your emotions, your feelings. Remember there are four, and only four, primary emotions. There is joy or happiness, sadness and pain. These are meant to connect us. And then the survive mechanisms, which are fear and anger. So stay focused to remember you have to manage your emotions. Don’t let them manage you.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Next, surround yourself with authentic, positive people. I mean no disrespect and I know it’s not easy, but it’s important to avoid toxic individuals who drain your energy. If you can help, them to reframe and go from negative to positive. But be careful of toxic individuals.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Third, sound comfortable, uninterrupted sleep. I believe it’s six to eight hours that are recommended. Be careful with alcohol intake near bedtime. For some of us, it interferes with what is called REM sleep. Rapid eye movement, which is dream based. Our dreaming helps to recharge our brain. Next, gratitude. Take time to journal and reflect on and celebrate what you have. The good things, the kind people. What has happened in your where you could stop, take a breath and say, “Thank you.”

Dr. Joe Currier:

Next, let go of the negative past. Forgive, mend, heal. If you can’t do those, at least let go and move on. Remember the saying, when you’re stuck in hatred, dig two graves, one for your enemy and one for my own self. Next, we have the focus on physical energy, exercising and playing. Hear that word? Playing, regularly. Aerobic activity three to four times a week. That’s where the cardiovascular strength comes in. Next is to stretch and strengthen the muscles, arms, legs, neck, your back.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Next is the spiritual practice. A higher being, if you believe and I hope you do, and or reflect, journal and center your self. Two words. Your authentic self, with belly breathing and visual imagery.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Nutrition gatekeeper is the next one. Consciously select your diet for both quantity and quality. Eat slowly. Focus on taste and texture. Remember, you are what you eat. Is that a scary thought? Also, please with alcohol, be careful. Drink in moderation.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Lastly, how is your laugh life? Laughter, enjoy are fun and powerful medicines for mind and body. You don’t necessarily have to be funny. You have to see funny. Comic vision. Keep your eyes open, especially when you’re feeling troubled. Giggles and hugs help in the face of stress. Again, it’s so important.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So in closing, for those of you who are investing in longterm relationships, one more point, I have a bit of a shopping list for you. If you want to continue on the road in your relationship and build something very special. One, stay cute, not entitled. Second, don’t worry about who is right. Look for solutions to any problem. Third, keep your cape handy. One never knows when a hero is needed. Fourth, love is important. It always is, but like is the ballast that keeps a relation ship afloat. Fifth, and good times and in bed, please don’t ever stop dancing.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So on your way, dream big. In this world, you are largely defined by your dreams. By what you want, really want. What you desire shapes everything about time, effort, and your sense of self, your true authentic self. No one can stop you from pursuing your dreams except you. When you are clear in your thinking, and don’t make excuses or act like a victim, you can find a path to your true dreams, at least an important part of your dreams.

Dr. Joe Currier:

For example, if you’re five feet tall, you probably will not be successful as a professional basketball player. But who knows? But I’ll tell you this, that shouldn’t stop you from being a great coach, sports writer, or frankly a peanut vendor in the upper decks. It’s your choice. Get in the arena, opportunity is waiting.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Growing older, that’s mandatory. Growing up is optional. Please keep your inner child alive and well, and don’t be stingy. Share a giggle and a hug.

Andrew J Mason:

That’s awesome. I’d like to say if people weren’t inspired by something that you said, then they just weren’t listening at all. And our thanks to all of you for listening as well. We’d love it if you would just continue to subscribe, like, share anything that you can do to get the word out about this wisdom that Dr. Joe is sharing with the world, it’s so important. And until next time, this was Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. Leadership transformation, growth acceleration.