A Hard Day(off)’s Work

Relaxing is Hard Work, Be Mindful During Your Off Time

beach-vacation

Time to relax

The weekend, the start of a vacation, the morning of a day off. These are all times when we often find ourselves asking the question, “What should I do today?” It’s the beginning of our hard earned time off and we want to make the most of it, though for most of us, coming up with something to do is only half the battle. Plans are set but having them go off without a hitch is another story. How you handle these ”hitches” can be the difference between having a fun and satisfying time, and spending the day frustrated at the little things that didn’t go quite right and wondering what could have been.

The ideal day/night off

What does your ideal day off look like? When a day off, a free evening, or even a vacation is on the horizon we want it to be perfect, filled with all the things that we want to do with that time. It might be fun with friends, a night on the town at your favorite restaurant, or even some quiet relaxation time with a book at home. So we make plans, it’s in our nature as humans living in a modern world full of things we want to do and enjoy when we have the chance. Plans give us something to look forward to and offer us structure in the process.

I know that when I have an evening during the week free of appointments and other obligations that life tends to throw my way, I think about the best way to spend that time. I think about how I will go straight home from work and try and maximize my time, and then I might make a nice dinner with the girlfriend and watch the next episode of “Stranger Things.” I think about how it will be the perfect opportunity to get to the next area in whatever video game I am currently in the middle of. Ah yes, that night will be awesome! But what if it doesn’t go as planned? If these things that I want to do don’t end up happening, or if my time with them is cut short, is my awesome time ruined, my chance for fun gone? It could be if I let it.

When your expectations are shattered the day is ruined

We can plan our time as carefully and as hopefully as we want, but that doesn’t mean that something won’t come up before we are able to realize our plans. I don’t know how many times I have been ready for a night like I was just describing and traffic causes me to get home late, a family member needs help with something when I get home, and dinner takes way longer to cook than planned. Next thing I know I look at the clock and my night is half over and I’ve barely touched the things that I wanted to do that night. This starts to put me in a bad mood. A bad mood! On my free night! How could this happen!? I finally get a chance to sit down with a game, but now all I can think about how my time is cut short and I begin to wonder how I could even enjoy the little time I have left. But we can’t think this way, time is a precious resource we can’t afford to waste it worrying about things that turn out differently than we expected them to. Whether it’s a free night or a 2 week vacation more full with planned activities and hopeful expectations, there are bound to be snags, things that pop up unexpectedly, that force us to take a right turn when this is not the route we planned. So what can you do to make sure that you still enjoy your time?

Go With the flow

There are enough uncontrollable variables throughout life without us sabotaging ourselves. When plans go awry it is important to not make things worse by being your own worst enemy. Salvage your time by being mindful of the moment, letting go of the things that you can’t control, and make the best of the situation. Even if you end up doing something other than what you planned at least you are enjoying your time to the best of your ability and by letting go of your expectations and going with the flow you prevent the inner animosity that comes with the frustration of well-laid plans going out the window. Don’t get me wrong, plans are nice and all, as is getting to do your favorite activities when those plans manifest successfully. But when life gets in the way and skewers those plans of yours, focus on making the situation the best it can be. It may not be what you had in mind, but you just might end up enjoying your off-time after all.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Suicide Prevention Week 2016

Suicide is non-discriminatory; it affects everybody regardless of gender, race, class, or age.  According to the World Health Organization, 1 million people attempt suicide per year, yet it’s still not commonly talked about.

A person who is contemplating suicide is in so much pain that they do not see any other feasible options.  Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems; the effect reaching far beyond the person who takes their life.

Suicide can be a symptom of depression; however depression is a treatable mental health illness that affects many people.   Many people may struggle with feelings of sadness and hopelessness but never act upon suicide.  Suicidal thinking is complex, so it is important to understand the warning signs to understand if the person needs immediate help.

A person who is struggling with suicidal thoughts may not know how to ask for help, they just want to stop hurting. You might feel uncomfortable bringing up the subject with someone you suspect may be suicidal, but talking openly about it, responding quickly, and offering support, can save their live.

Recognizing these signs and using the resources below may help you prevent someone from completing suicide:

Warning Signs:

  • Isolating behaviors, withdrawing from family and friends
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Decline in work or school performance
  • Being bullied
  • Recent death of a loved one
  • Increased mood swings
  • Decrease in activities
  • Giving away possessions
  • Change in sleep or appetite
  • Chronic mental illness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Acting impulsively
  • Seeking out lethal means
  • Having a plan
  • Having intent

Suicide Prevention Resources

National Resources:

Denver Metro Area Resources:

Hotlines:

Text Lines:

  • Text “GO” to 741741

 

To your wellbeing,

-Alea Makley, MA

Case Manager

The MINES Team

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Total Wellbeing: September 2016

 

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September 2016: Physical Wellbeing

Get Involved!

Man and Woman in Lotus Pose

Welcome to the September issue of TotalWellbeing! This month we circle back around to Physical Wellbeing. In February we talked about goal setting. How have yours been coming along? If you’ve found it hard to stay motivated you’re not alone. To help with this, look to friends and family for encouragement and shared goal setting/achieving. Feed off of each other’s achievements and hold each other accountable for getting out there and working towards your objectives. To make it even more fun check out the community resource section below for some great apps to help keep track of your activity and compete against your workout buddies! For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Last month on MINESblog we were in the Olympic spirit. There were certainly some amazing performances this summer in Rio from all around the world. Our CEO, Dr. Robert Mines couldn’t help but examine the psychology behind Olympic athletes and the immense pressure they have to endure while preparing for and competing in the games. In a second post, Dr. Mines also explored the importance of curiosity and its role in intelligence and life-log learning. If you like what you read, there’s always more great posts coming up so make sure to subscribe.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: Spiritual Wellbeing and Perspective

Last time we talked about physical wellbeing we looked at goal setting. We asked you what do you wanted to achieve, and how you planned to reach those goals. We hope that you were able to go out and set those aspirations for yourself, but now we ask another question. What will keep you striving to achieve what you set out to do in the long run? The key behind this question is motivation. Motivation, like most aspects of wellbeing, is a personal concept that is most definitely not a one size fits all sort of thing, and staying motivated can be just as hard as the work itself. The good news is that you do not have to go it alone. One of the greatest sources of motivation are the other people in your life. Strive to find the family members, friends, and co-workers that may also have some goals and hold each other accountable for achieving them. Ask each other how it’s going, give encouraging words, or even use an app to track progress and have a little competitive fun trying to outdo one another. Remember to keep the competitiveness on the light side. The goal here is to encourage and have fun so that you enjoy reaching your goals as well as watching other reach theirs.

Tips for you:

Are you looking to make your occasional strength class or Sunday spin session a regular ritual? Many casual exercisers want to sweat more often, but they struggle with finding the workout motivation to make fitness a part of their daily routine. Check out dailyburn.com’s motivation tips to give yourself a boost when you feel like you need a little extra pep.

Check Out Tips Here!

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

Social media and social apps make it a breeze to keep in touch with those you care about in your life. It’s great to be able to send someone a message or find out how they’re doing with a few swipes or key strokes. But did you know that social apps also make it easy to share each others’ workouts, goals, and activity? It’s a great way to stay motivated, have fun, offer encouragement and be encouraged, and maybe get a little competitive in the process. Don’t know where to start? Check out Active.com’s review of the 16 best fitness apps of 2016.

Read Review Here!

Don’t forget that PersonalAdvantage, your online benefit through MINES, has tons of great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer.

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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Psychology of Performance #58: Curiosity and Knowledge

I just finished a thought provoking and assumption challenging book, Curiosity, by Ian Leslie. I hope you get a copy and read it in its entirety. This blog addresses some, and  not all, of the important information presented in the book.

The tag line on the cover directly implies that performance is impacted by “the desire to know and why your future depends on it.”

Leslie describes three types of curiosity. “diversive curiosity” is the restless desire for the new and the next. Think scrolling through your cell phone apps such as facebook, twitter, emails, wordpress, and news feeds, while spending very little time on any one piece. The value of “diversive curiosity” is that it helps the exploring mind find the new and the undiscovered. Its ultimate value is helping us be curious enough to learn futher about a subject, to do a deeper investigationThe second type of curiosity is “epistemic curiosity.” It is a “quest for knowledge and understanding, it nourishes us. This deeper, more disciplined and effortful type of curiosity” is the focus of the book ( prologue, p.xx).

The third type of curiosity is “empathic curiosity.” This is “about the thoughts and feelings of other people. It is distinct from gossip or prurience, which we can think of as “diversive curiosity” about the superficial detail of others’ lives. You practice empathic curiosity when you genuinely try to put yourself in the shoes – and mind – of the person you are talking to, to see things from their perspective… (p.xxi).”

The relevance for psychology of performance in business is far reaching. Given the complexity of our business environments, advances in science and technology, and the exponential growth of knowledge. Organizations and individuals who are not curious will become obsolete or become further and further behind compared to those who embrace epistemic curiosity and life-long learning.

Leslie does us the same service Malcom Gladwell and other synthsis writers do by diving into the scientific literature behind the statements in the book. One area that is concerning is the role of core subject knowledge and the ability to be curious. Schools who teach process skills without content knowledge produce students who are less capable of the creative, cross-discipline insights and thinking required to solve the complex and diverse problems we are faced with. This body of research is counter to what has happened in many schools across the country. One has to have information in order to know whether one wants to be curious and learn more about it.  Leslie’s handrail was “knowledge loves knowledge.”

He adds an interesting case study related to Disney and Pixar concerning then-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner and co-founder of Pixar, Steve Jobs. Leslie looks at an interesting quote from Jobs stating that as Pixar was the creative organization producing one money making film after another while Disney was the distributor, Eisner only spent a little over two hours at Pixar rather than learning how Pixar was doing what it did and taking it back to Disney. Finally, after Eisner and Jobs left, Disney bought Pixar. If someone is out-performing you as an organization or individually, being curious as to how they are doing that could be a good process to go through rather than avoiding it, resting on the status quo, or other reasons for not learning more.

Leslie discussed breadth versus depth in knowledge and the need for both. He uses the concept of a “foxhog” (p.152). “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing” (p.151). A foxhog is one who combines deep knowledge of a specialty with broad understanding of other disciplines. Leslie also pays tribute to one of my favorite business people and writers, Charlie Munger, who is exemplary in his pursuit of knowledge outside of his field and in learning useful mental models from other disciplines. From a psychology of performance point of view, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet have performed at high levels in their field for decades.

In order to improve your performance over your lifetime, be epistemically and empathically curious, be a lifelong learner, apply what you know, and take action!

 

Please have a day filled with loving kindness and extend compassion and sympathetic joy to everyone you meet.

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #57: 2016 Olympics

The Olympics have officially opened! This is a wonderful opportunity to get an in-depth look at a number of psychology of performance variables and factors in addition to the sheer joy of seeing individuals and teams at their peak performance. Who could ever forget the USA Dream Team’s performance to win the gold in basketball? Rulon Garner’s gold medal win over Alexander Karelin in wrestling. Larelin was the defending gold medalist and had not lost in 13 years. Michael Phelps winning 18 gold medals and 22 medals over his Olympic career and coming back again this year. Historic moments such as Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 games in Berlin. This was when Nazi Germany saw him as a lesser human being because of the color of his skin. Ethiopian runner, Abebe Bikila, won the marathon gold in 1960, barefoot. Emil Zatopek’s winning the 5,000 meter 10,000 meter, and marathon in the 1952 Helsinki games after being told not to compete due to a gland infection. He had never run a marathon before. Jim Thorpe winning the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Stockholm games. The first female Olympians in the 1900 Paris games.

The actual list of mind boggling performances is almost endless. Over the next few weeks, we will get to observe upsets when the favorites were viewed as unbeatable, persistence in the face of pain from injury, and compassion and generosity of spirit. A great example of compassion in the moment of competition came when Canadian sailor, Lawrence Lemieux was in position to medal and stopped to help capsized competitors who were injured. We will see records broken and participants happy just to be there.

All will get to face the stress of competing on a world stage where terrorism threats are a constant worry, Zika virus looms in the background, and personal health and safety may be compromised due to water sanitation or local crime.

How they respond will be related to a number of psychology of performance variables and factors such as their mental preparation and resilience (beliefs, visualization, problem solving), their training (finding that fine balance to peak in their events at this time versus burning out before), their social support network (how their coaches, teammates, friends, family, and loved ones add positive (support, encouragement, role modeling winning behavior and attitudes, affection)versus negative energy ( distractions and nonproductive criticism), how their nutrition holds up, and what is driving them to succeed.

The stories will be unfolding! I hope you get a chance to watch and learn.

Have a day filled with equanimity  and extend loving kindness, compassion and sympathetic joy to everyone you meet today.

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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Total Wellbeing: August 2016

 

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August 2016: Spiritual Wellbeing

Get Involved!

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Welcome to the August issue of TotalWellbeing! This month we talk about Spiritual Wellbeing. This topic can be hard to define as it often means different things to different people depending on values, goals, beliefs, and background. But there is one aspect of Spiritual wellbeing that is common to us all and that is the drive to accept ourselves, the world, and our place within it. If you are feeling out of sync with yourself or the world around you it is important to take the time to meditate on the issue(s) that may be affecting you. While it is never a good idea to dwell on negative feelings, it is important to understand why we may be feeling them so that we can make changes, refine our values and understandings, and ultimately bring ourselves back into alignment so that we can feel better and move forward. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Much more information on a variety of topics is available on MINESblog. Here you can expect blogs, articles, and tips provided by members of the MINES Team. Last month you may have heard about a little game called PokemonGo. In case you didn’t notice it has been quite the social phenomenon, and we couldn’t help but look at some of the wellness and social psychology implications of the game, so check out what Ryan Lucas, our Manager of Engagement & Development, had to say about this latest craze. And of course we will have some more great articles coming up so make sure to subscribe.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: Spiritual Wellbeing and Perspective

To be at peace with your surroundings you must first be at peace with yourself. This is no secret.  If you are stressed, distracted, or otherwise out of alignment with yourself it is hard to focus on your day-to-day life. You may find yourself unable to enjoy certain activities, find it hard to focus at work, or find your productivity slipping, all because there is something on your mind that is distracting you, or making you question your values or purpose. When that happens it is important to take the time to self-reflect and think about why you feel this way. To help bring yourself back into a place where you feel satisfied and fulfilled on a spiritual level, it is important to take time for yourself. Relax, seek to define or re-define your values, think about how those values guide your actions in your day to day life, and consider how you can refine the aspects of your life that you can control and let go of the things that you cannot such as the values and actions of others, or the state of the world as a whole. Come to terms with these things and it will be much easier to come to terms with yourself and find inner-peace.

Tips for you:

One of the key ingredients to Spiritual Wellbeing is self-acceptance and mindfulness. The ability to be self-aware without being overly critical of yourself can be tricky but not impossible. The key is to get above the negative thoughts in your head that are keeping you from being fully present in the moment. Don’t try to stop negative thoughts, as that is almost impossible, instead simply try to accept them and let them pass without affecting you. Use these 8 techniques for self-acceptance to help practice.

Try the Exercises Here!

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

While Spiritual Wellbeing focuses on looking within, we can’t truly be at peace with ourselves unless we understand our place in the world around us. It is important to remind ourselves from time to time how we work within the grand scheme of things. A great way to do that is to get out and interact with other people and at the same time find purpose for ourselves by helping others. Volunteering and helping with community-based events is a great way to do this. Volunteermatch.com makes it easy to find opportunities in your area where you can reach out and make an impact in your own community.

Find Opportunities Here!

Don’t forget that PersonalAdvantage, your online benefit through MINES, has tons of great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer.

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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A Few Pointers on Supporting Your Transgender Employees!

Transgender discrimination in the workplace is a significant problem. In fact, approximately 90 percent of transgender employees report experiencing some type of harassment in the workplace. Almost 20 percent of gay and transgender employees report that they were passed over on a promotion or were fired because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.[i]  Over 60 percent of transgender employees make less than $25,000 annually.[ii] Shockingly, it is still legal in 32 states to terminate or deny employment to an employee based on their gender identity.[iii] About 40 percent of transgender employees are underemployed.[iv]

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are still a number of employer-sponsored health plans which do not cover gender reassignment surgery. The average cost of a gender reassignment procedure is $16,000. Additionally, if the employer does not allow the employee to utilize leave for treatments leading up to and including gender reassignment surgery, there is an even more significant cost to the transgender employee.

What can you, as the employer do to support a work environment that is open and inclusive to all persons, including transgender candidates and employees?

  • Champion support for an inclusive and diverse work environment at all levels of the organization with the loudest voices at the top!
  • Offer non-discriminatory health plans! Work with your plans to ensure that you have removed exclusions for gender reassignment transition and hormone therapy.
  • Be sure to include gender identity in your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Consider zero-tolerance policies.
  • Treat transgender employee(s) as an individual, offer them the opportunity to lead their transitional process with the organization including; communicating their name, pronouns, how they want to inform their colleagues, their timelines, and how they best want to be supported.
  • Include gender identity awareness in your trainings whenever possible; consider your diversity, respectful workplace, and civility trainings as starting places.
  • Incorporate gender identity and transition into your leave policies. Transitioning can be a lengthy process. Keep the dialogues going with your transgender employees. Offer time off and discuss support needs along the way.
  • Support looks different to everyone! It might be handy to put together a supportive tool-kit for employees intending to transition. This toolkit may provide explanations about benefits for transgender employees such as health insurance, leave, and employee assistance programs. The toolkit may also include information about how to talk to managers and colleagues about the transition, restroom information, and a contact person to support them as well as their team. Your employee may or may not use the tool kit but if the resources are there, then they will be able to utilize them if needed.
  • Consult with your Employee Assistance Program with any questions and support around transitioning employees, policies, language and resources. Support and help is available.
  • Utilize education and support to work through any personal concerns you may have regarding supporting transitioning employees. Supporting al lemployees equally is a legal responsibility.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Dani Kimlinger, Ph.D., MHA, SPHR, SHRM- SCP and Patrick Hiester, LPC

The MINES Team

 

[i] Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment. Data Demonstrate Need for Federal Law. By Crosby Burns and Jeff Krehely. June 2, 2011

[ii] 37 Shocking LGBT Discrimination Statistics. Brandon Gaille. January 14, 2015.

[iii] The Transgender Community by the Numbers. Marie Claire. Kenny Thapoung

[iv] Transgender Workers at Greater Risk For Unemployment and Poverty. Human Rights Campaign. September 6, 2013

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HEALTH INSITE: #POKEMONGO AND HEALTH

Intro

I know there are a TON of articles and posts that have surfaced in these 6 days since PokemonGO was released in the United States. The sheer volume of discussion around this just-short-of-a-phenomenon app is certainly surprising in many ways, though another very popular app that just recently was eclipsed in downloads, Tinder, also got a ton of press at the beginning – mostly for the questionable intentions of its users. In this case, you might be able to make a case for the questionable intent of the creators, but I’ll stay away from either of those as the crux of this post and use it as a jumping off point for what I see as valuable technology for the future of health intervention.

What is PokemonGO

pokemongo3

From NianticLabs.com

Loosely based on “Ingress,” PokemonGO is a marriage between Google spin-off Niantic and Nintendo’s Pokemon company. Both companies have, on their own, somewhat of a cult following at this point. While the platform that enabled Pokemon to flourish, Nintendo, has wider reception, both at this point, are not particularly popular on their own. I was actually never a big fan of either. There may have been Pokemon Pogs when I was growing up, but aside from that, I’m not intimately familiar with either. But this combination of geolocation technology and fantasy are not new at all. In fact, if you check out ARGNet, you will find a number of times when games have moved beyond their stated fantasy world and brought them into the real world. Even Cards Against Humanity’s 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit involved very real things IRL (In Real Life) that helped to solve a massive puzzle by contributing members.

But why is it so dang popular!?!

Simply put: it’s fun to play. In Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken and in her TED talk Gaming can make a better world, she covers why gaming can be so much fun and how it can be used for more than just checking out from reality. For those that don’t know what makes a game, there are 4 rules for game-making:

  1. It has to be fun
  2. There are rules
  3. There has to be feedback
  4. It has to be voluntary

And PokemonGO handles these splendidly. If you are able to suspend seriousness and simply play the game, you get the cute characters of Pokemon as if they are in your own world. And then you have to interact with them. There are rules and while you don’t necessarily know them as a newbie, you pick them up rather quickly because there is a lot of feedback as you fail. And voluntary? At over 50Mb to download, significant battery management, dedication of time to the task, and a VERY serious draw on device memory, you’re making a conscious decision to volunteer your time to the goal “gotta catch ’em all.”

How does it work?

Relying on Niantic’s successful incorporation of layering fantasy graphics on Google’s mapping technology, your movement within the real world is translated to the world of PokemonGO. With real world locations acting as stops, real world walking moving you toward Pokemon, and real world feedback as you navigate around obstacles to find these critters, the technology is immersive while being a bit of a “screen suck.” You swipe and click the screen throughout the game to engage different activities (preferably once you’ve stopped moving!) and try to level up through the game.

A word on design

Despite the fact that there are no real instructions on how to use the game, it is incredibly easy to use and intuit as to the next thing you need to do in the game. In the case that you get jammed up, you can always talk to a friend about what they have experienced. And that conversation results in extended conversations about what you’ve seen, done, and enjoyed; even sharing what your highs and lows have been.

Laying the fantasy world on top of the real world allows for the interaction between real and false worlds to transcend the experience of the individual. While it is not necessarily a new technology, it certainly hasn’t been used to this level across a population of people. Look no further than the people walking around parks to see how pervasive this game has become.

Security

Besides the clear security issues that one might expect with an app that logs one’s location, we’ve seen articles that highlight a number of, sometimes false, security concerns that may or not may reveal private details about someone. For example, Instagram’s geotagging feature might reveal that the user is nowhere near home; meanwhile, there have been users that have been vandalized by their Uber driver because they were recently driven to the airport.

While there is only one clear security issue derived by the PokemonGO app, other than the iOS opening that created access to Niantic for the complete control of the users’ Google account (which was quickly remedied within the first five days of operation) PokemonGO does not have the hallmarks of issues, inherent to the app, that many others have had. The one condition to this that I would offer is the use of Lures at Pokestops, which allow for control over the fantasy world for other players as well. This is intended to allow you to attract Pokemon and potentially meet other people, but as you can imagine, that might cause a problem if someone wanted to maliciously use that tech to lure users more than Pokemon. You can’t see other users. You can’t lure those users (unless it’s discovered that incense works beyond the user – which, as of yet, it hasn’t). And until you can hack the database, which, as far as I, know never happened with Niantic, the users are relatively safe.

Health hazard or opportunity

So what are the real opportunities or hazards for this app. Truth is that we’ll likely see more and more stories about the extreme situations like a robbing in O’Fallon, IL that used the technology to target individuals (disproved in this case but could have been a Lure) and a young woman finding a dead body near a stream near her home. But truth is that this has created an engaged population, regardless of age, that is regularly walking through areas that they don’t regularly. And is that bad? We live in a country that is SO LARGE that we don’t inhabit more than 90% of the mass, and yet we have SO many opportunities for exploration for a nation of explorers.

Maybe it is. There are maybe some places that we don’t go and that’s okay. But for the large majority of people playing this game, it seems that it runs through the normal course of daily activity, or just slightly more.

What can it potentially do?

Gamification

Without going too deep into what the values of using gamification are here (feel free to read more here), it is certainly becoming more commonplace to bring this theory into regular technology for deeper interaction with users. The reason that gamification can be such a powerful tool in the capture of behavior change is that it seemingly separates the activity’s goal from the activity’s work by creating an intervening level of excitement with the user. This is done by initiating what is known in psychology as Flow.

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From Gamasutra.com, link below

Flow is the state where the skill meets the difficulty that the user is presented with in a maximally optimal position to engage.

Augmented Reality

One of the best arguments for, and against, augmented reality that I’ve seen is nicely packaged in the form of this short film:

While there are many opportunities that augmented reality potentially brings to the table with regard to the mundane (paying your tab at a restaurant, preparing food, even exercising like PokemonGO has been credited with) there are also potential dangers to these augmentations. With regard to PokemonGO in its current version there’s certainly no actual human interface except through the handheld device. While it can influence behavior by incenting the user to do one thing or another, it cannot override human decision making. Yet.

But let’s set aside the potential for danger for a moment to consider how immersive PokemonGO has become for its users and how another user interface might have a significantly decreased reliance on the “phone” to play the game might actually allow for it to become more of a background activity, rather than what one is actively doing. In PokemonGO, the user is staring at a screen trying to find where the leaves are moving and that’s partly because of the limited amount of time most devices can actively “play” the game. But if, say with a device like Google Glass, you could be hunting Pokemon all day long? What if, rather than having to seek out Pokemon in a thirty minute “hunt,” you were hunting all day? Tracking steps all day to incubate eggs? Regularly checking into PokeStops and learning about those locations?

There are certainly risks, and those need to be mitigated. But there’s definitely a lot more opportunity too.

Teams

When you are strong enough to actually do battle at a gym, you pick one of three teams to join. These have their own internal meanings to the game and once you’ve joined a team, you can rely on those other team members for support in controlling gyms and help with training your Pokemon.

One thing that is currently lacking in this first version of the game is the ability to bring in one’s pre-existing social network. Because you must log into the game with your Gmail account or a Pokemon.com account, the audience is potentially limited when it comes to mining the available social network data that might be available with, say, a Facebook login. Then you could invite your friends to join your team in the search for Pokemon. You could actually provide each other with tactical and strategic support in quests as well as provide emotional and physical support in reaching goals. Our social networks are significant in our health decisions, and forcing users into only having the option of the three team options in the game – which are highly contrived and not very useful on their own, so far as I can tell – there are additional opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of the platform for health behavior generation.

Socio-environmental disturbance

One thing that is for sure: there are a lot of people I’ve watched over the past few days playing this game. Will it last? I’m not sure. But watching two people who are running around a park together while staring at their phone certainly acts as a pattern interrupt for me. I’ve watched as someone stared at their phone and walked around corners, and down streets, trying to engage the PokemonGO world largely oblivious to their surroundings except for what is represented on the screen. And when you see someone doing that, it definitely has a similar impact to the way that we all responded when Bluetooth headsets and wireless earphones became popular for holding mobile phone calls in the public.

Yes, it’s a pattern interrupt. And yes, it was extremely annoying when phone calls made it out into the general public, seemingly creating dialogue that only existed in the speaker’s head. But that has become so normalized now, I can’t imagine there won’t be a possibility of a similar normalization of that activity. And once normal, adoption will likely go up, not down.

Why is this important?

BmsB9w6 - ImgurThese are not the Pokemon you seek

While the PokemonGO craze has blown away the expectations of the game-makers, and frankly any Ingress user is probably also doing the, “I was geocaching before it was cool” thing right now, this does start a discussion about how we can better leverage the technology that is already available to us to change our behaviors in small, although ultimately significant, ways.

Just the beginning…

…but an important one. Critical events like this are rare in helping to shape how we want our world to look. Each of us has the capacity to impact the way that we want to engage with our communities and our technology. What do you want your world to look like? Or, more precisely, what do you want which of your worlds to look like?

To our health,

Ryan Lucas
To stay ahead on topics related to this, follow me on Twitter @dz45tr

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Total Wellbeing: July 2016

 

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July 2016: Financial Wellbeing

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piggy bank brownWelcome to the July issue of TotalWellbeing! This month it’s time for everyone’s favorite topic, Financial Wellbeing. Smart, informed decisions are the key to building a financial foundation that you can grow from. Spend, save, and invest in smart ways. Be critical of information sources and be sure people you talk to have your best interest in mind. Be patient, save where you can and we promise small steps now will add up down the road. To help we have provided a retirement calculator and links to a community-based service-trading site to help you leverage your skills and save a buck while you’re at it. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Much more information on a variety of topics is available on MINESblog. Here you can expect blogs, articles, and tips provided by members of the MINES Team. Last month was Pride Month and we had a great article on how employers can support their transgender employees and make sure they are providing a safe and accommodating environment. We will continue to post regular and relevant material here so follow us if you’re not already.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: FinancialWellbeing and the Future

Financial Wellbeing is about making informed choices and building a foundation that you can grow from. It is important to consistently make the best decision possible with the information you have. That said, you also must make sure the information that you are basing your choices on is quality information and not coming from somewhere that does not have your best interest in mind. Even financial advisors can sometimes give poor advice or have ulterior motives, so take anything you hear with a grain of salt until you can do your research. Be smart, be patient, and don’t outspend your means.  Over time you will slowly but surely put in place a financial foundation that you can further build upon and use to perpetuate your life.

Tips for you:

Financial planning is unique for everyone. Different income, circumstances, and goals mean everyone needs something a little different. There are self-help tools and calculators all over the place to help you analyze and plan. Charles Schwab offers one such tool on their website to help plan for retirement and offers financial planning if needed.

Check It Out Here!

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

When we think of buying power, most people think of tangible assets such as money and items of value. But what about skills, knowledge, and expertise? Are these not valuable too? What if we could trade these things to others in exchange for their skills, knowledge, and expertise? Well you can! Simbi.com hosts a whole community of thousands of people doing just that. Think you have something to offer? Check it out!

See What Simbi Offers Here!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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Total Wellbeing: June 2016

 

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June 2016: Occupational Wellbeing

Get Involved!

Death_to_Stock_Photography_BodyTruths_9Welcome to the June issue of TotalWellbeing! This month we discuss Occupational Wellbeing. We’ve all heard the concept of work/life balance before, but when you think about it, isn’t work part of life? In fact, many of us spend a substantial amount of our lives at work. This way of looking at it highlights the importance of supporting ourselves and our goals while at work rather than just putting our lives on hold when we clock in every morning, or night depending on your schedule. Maintaining perspective on your ambitions and goals while at work is critical to maintaining occupational wellbeing and avoiding burning out. Look for opportunities at your job to grow and support your mind and body. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

MINESblog saw some interesting posts last month, it being Mental Health Awareness Month and all. We looked at the mentality and systemic causes of bullying and why it is important to treat even bullies with empathy. Next in our latest Psychology of Performance post we explored the critical interplay between innovation and maintenance within an organization and how our assumptions on these concepts need to be updated. Finally, we discussed the importance of family involvement in the therapy of children with a mental health diagnosis.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: Environmental Wellbeing and the Future

Occupational Wellbeing is about balance, usually between work and life, but life doesn’t stop when you arrive at work and start again when you go home. To properly support occupational wellbeing many of us can’t afford to put our life on hold while at work. Think about ways to develop yourself while on the job. Ask yourself in what ways your job can help you learn new skills, how you might be able to connect better with co-workers, and identify opportunities to support your health and wellness in other areas while at work. Stay connected with co-workers to avoid working in a secluded environment if possible, set goals you can achieve at the workplace to work towards in order to give yourself something to strive for both personally and professionally. Stay connected with the outside world as well. While on break, check in on family members or take a moment to yourself to read, play a quick game, or study something new you are learning. Make the most of your time while at work as well as at home and you will be more satisfied with both.

Tips for you:

Making work/life balance work for you is important. No two people have the same set of circumstances and demands, so figuring out what works best for you is crucial. Work-life balance, says Nigel Marsh, is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. Marsh lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time, and productivity — and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.

Watch Talk Here!

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

If you are successful and happy that is a great thing. You know what else is great, when those who know what it takes to be happy and successful share their knowledge and help others achieve. A great way to do that is through mentoring. Did you know that through www.Micromentor.org you can sign up to help mentor young professionals and help them get a leg up in their careers? If you’re a young professional, you can find a mentor here, too! Check it out!

See how you can help!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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