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Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in Featured | 5 comments

Connect & Thrive

Connect & Thrive

10155971_10153373204950729_698488450331868138_n(photo: Rupel Parmar)

Exercise Your Power to Connect with Positivity Resonance. Be Your Own Human Experiment


Sati is the Buddhist Sanskrit term for Awareness, Attention & Remembering


“You have to pay the toll! … It’s a smile and a story!” we said to the many travellers on a BC Ferry this past week-end. Maybe it was the sunny weather or maybe it was spending a week in a Yoga Retreat on Salt Spring Island.


Either way, the combination of Play, Novelty and Improv made our ride home this Father’s Day weekend a shared delight! Friends and strangers, WE were a force of creativity and joy!


Here is how our ad hoc experiment of human behaviour went.

As people meandered past where we sat on the boat deck, our human bridge (of 12 legs) would lift or lower with the smiles and stories of about 40 fellow travellers. Straddling our legs across the aisle of the ferry, the rules of our instada-game were that safe passage across our human bridge was only granted if the traveller smiled and told a story. What a hoot!

We heard stories of seals popping up around kayaks, a magical experience of phosphorescence, an extraordinary hike, and the conquering of a long bike adventure with very steep hills. We heard a moving reminiscence from one man who was returning from having attended the Celebration of Life for his sister. The sweet tale was about how his sister had taught his wife how to make the very  first meal she had prepared for him– fried eggs. (Which was such a heartfelt story that we all agreed to make fried eggs in her honor the next morning).


We had an Asian tourist claim his love for his “beautiful wife”. He actually came back through our human bridge a second time, in order to bring his Mother (who was visiting from Hong Kong) through the bridge-crossing experience! She didn’t speak English. But with her “beautiful” daughter-in-law to translate, we were told that “We are Happiness”. Well that sure made us happy:)


What I discovered through this game was that everyone loves to share stories. When we tell stories, we feel more connected and that connection whips up a positive mood state that we name “happiness”… and I think she was right. Starting with a handful of people, we literally whipped up bliss. So much so that many stayed and joined our human bridge. We became a ‘Movement’!


In brain research, when you fully appreciate a shared micro-moment of connection,this is called ‘positive resonance’. (Barbara Fredrickson, Love 2.0).

But guess what? ….a shared positive mood state is absolutely contagious. The certainly is how it felt when we replicated this story telling over and over again last Sunday!


The insight here is that we can all create our own mood states and influence those we care for just by practicing whatever we want to intentionally feel. Why is this so? There are functional and structural brain changes when we practice positive resonance.


I know it’s Thursday and you are probably getting excited for another week-end of sunshine and more sunshine starting tomorrow.. But what about looking for positive moments to share today?


Why not get your own human experiment going at work today? What will be your own windows of opportunity when you might practice positivity resonance?


Lets get the party started…Remember a positive moment right now. What feelings do you notice in your body? Does your stomach feel bubbly? Is your heart excited? Are you smiling?

What mood changes do you feel as you remember that moment of positivity? Who can you tell your story to?

Positivity resonance will make you happy, and can also relieve your pain!

(Think of the couple on the ferry who were in grief but upon telling their story their mood shifted, even for a brief time, into a shared joy remembering cooking lessons and knowing we would all be making fried eggs in the late sister’s memory).


In studies that compare the prevalence of chronic pain in 3rd world countries versus 1st world, it is the developed world that suffers pain the most! Research comparing chronic pain in 1st & 3rd World Countries The more we drive ourselves, avoid our feelings, or numb out immersed in technology gadgets,  the less healthy and connected we are becoming as a species.

By the way, the horse in the photo above was so thrilled to have us walk by his field. This photo captures an innate longing all species have for connection. Amazingly when we were leaving the next day, the horse had a finch riding on its back. I’ve never seen that before. We all find our way to connect.


Do you notice signs and symptoms of burnout in yourself or your partner – irritability, trouble concentrating, a general numbing?


Numerous studies reveal significantly higher prevalence of chronic pain in developed countries. Research comparing chronic pain in undeveloped countries


This may be because the more ‘developed’ we become, the faster pace of life we assume. The more disconnected we feel, the more anxiety we experience. Our brain, with its parallel systems, either engages ‘fight or flight’ or ‘soothe connect’ processes. The unhealthy brain actually looks for things that are wrong and therefore perpetuates its negativity bias.


In yesterday’s Globe & Mail, a longitudinal study of brain effects from Post Traumatic Stress was released Canadian Research released yesterday in the Globe & Mail regarding PTSD

When trauma happens in our lives, the brain encodes these memories to such an extent that we recall that experience and are impacted to a greater extent by future stressors, unless we actively practice to heal the brain from the original trauma.


So, what is the answer? Meditation, compassion therapy, practice connection, and slow your life down. If you do these, you will turn up your creativity, your sensuality, and you will deepen your relationships.


So how have you been feeling lately? How do you feel right now?


What is in the way of feeling your most alive, creative, sexually thriving best?


Kristen Neff at ‘The Faces’ conference I attended in Santa Fe last month, talked about the ways we can check in with ourselves. You can call yourself “open” if you find yourself able to cry, laugh and experience your own vulnerability. You are probably a little “closed” if you notice yourself feeling judgmental of yourself and others.


Whatever you are feeling… just sit back for a moment, close your eyes and allow your whole body to breathe… to soften.


Whatever feeling you are having in this very moment, be ok with it… just allow it to be what it is.


This makes sense of course. And can you give yourself permission to be open and closed some of the time.. happy and sad.. frustrated and gracious? Isn’t that why we were given emotional brains?


Dr. Neff’s study based on a  subjective study of university students, showed that 80% of people tend to be kinder to others, rather than to themselves and 2% said they were kinder to self than others. How about you? Are you kinder to others or to yourself? What opens up when you let judgment go and embrace curiosity?


If you have been hiding out in your computer, your cell phone, or your television lately, what do you notice about these habits. What need is being fulfilled? Is there anything you are avoiding? Is there anything missing in your life…in your relationship… in your career?


What would support you in avoiding this kind of life? What might be your first step towards change?


Try a new routine of driving home a different way. Maybe stop at the beach before you go home. Why not switch radio stations? What small new change will inject novelty into your day today?


I asked our small post yoga retreat group on the ferry, “what is the most daring thing you have ever done?” One person talked about scuba diving with sharks. He didn’t think about the risks. He just sat on the side of the boat and fell backwards into the water. Today he recalls it as a highlight of his life.


I talked to the retreat group about my experience swimming with dolphin off the coast of Costa Rica. I just dove in when all the others on the boat just watched. The dolphin circled me at the time… I didn’t think about the fact that dolphins can kill sharks and would certainly not have a problem bunting me to my death… but I dove into the experience and it ended up being, without a doubt, one of my own peak experiences over the past five years.


I have to admit the human bridge this past Sunday was my initiation. I didn’t think about it too much.. I just got it started and it evolved as we went along.


What new game can you initiate at work today? What daring conversation might you have with a stranger in the elevator?


What will be your own human bridge to greater resonance and connection? shutterstock_44851597

I would LOVE to hear about any challenges you initiate.









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  1. Hi Joanne, I am always delighted to see me email from you. You bring wonderful thoughts and ideas forward. You are a very kind person, and a treasure to those of us who struggle with depression and anxiety.

    Thank you for always “being you”.
    Best wishes,
    Roger Smith

    • Thanks so much Roger! It is such a delight to hear that. We all go through the range of experiences and feelings in our life.. and it is so nice to build compassion and caring in small ways. I’d say you are the treasure!

      all the best to you,

  2. Great to be able to stay connected from so far away Jo-Anne. The ferry and the Gulf Islands feel (and are) so far away from me here up in the Norwegian mountains where it is still snowing…(!) Loved the sound of your human bridge game.. 7 weeks here has been enough: time to re-connect. Isolation is good only up to a certain point I realize. Hope the card arrived and that all is well with you. Love Nina

    • Yes your card arrived.. how wonderful to see your adventure happening! Thanks so much for connecting.. looking forward to see you when you are back.

      Love Jo-Anne

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