She’s finally learned how to think, and now Wellness Coach Debra Duxbury is sharing her knowledge with others.
Duxbury engaged an audience of over forty senior citizens on Inauguration Day in January at the Senior Lunch & Learn Program held at the Jewish Community Center in Marblehead. She shared data from research on what makes people happy and the impact attitude and positive thoughts can have on our health.
Attitude plays a big role in happiness, according to Duxbury, and she’s got the numbers to back that up. “The things we think make us happy, a new house, cars, money, only account for ten percent of our happiness. Fifty percent is based on genetics. The other forty percent is attitude.”
In 2015, Duxbury enrolled in an eleven-month program at the Kripalu Center For Yoga and Health. After completing the course, she obtained her certificate in Positive Psychology, an evidence based study of happiness. Now she has her own Marblehead based company, Stay Well Coaching, and travels and gives presentations on positive psychology. She uses positivity and character strengths to help people embrace who they are.
“Positivity training has taught me to look at what’s right about my life.”
Research is changing the way experts think about happiness. “We’re beginning to realize our thoughts are part of who we are,” explained Duxbury. “Our body follows what our minds are telling us. Our brain is not wired to be happy. It’s wired for how to survive. We’ve been trained to look at what’s wrong with our life. We’re always looking at what we need to improve.”
Duxbury asked the group at the JCC for examples of the stresses around us. Children, health, work, news, politics and aging topped the list offered by the audience. Then she asked what they were grateful for each day, and participants were surprised to find several of the subjects on both the list of stresses and the grateful lists. This, explained Duxbury, relates to attitude.
In her hour-long presentation, she distributed handouts on character strengths from VIA (Values In Action). She demonstrated positive ways to use these strengths by showing a short video, Kindness Boomerang. After viewing the film, several attendees volunteered to talk about their strengths and what makes them happy.
Joan Goshko of Marblehead said, “Walking to the beach in the morning is my biggest delight.”
Swampscott resident Jan Boyd likes listening to the Dalai Lama. “When you show compassion to others, it helps you,” she explained.
In her coaching, Duxbury uses Keys to Positivity. One important key she stresses is, “Know that every moment you have a choice. We make big and little choices all the time. We need to see the big picture. Look for the benefit.”
In closing, she left the audience with one last key. “Be grateful for three things that happened that day.”
With a Masters Degree in Applied Psychology in Management Science, Duxbury taught corporate training in influence, leadership and soft skills programs. After thirty years, it was time for something else. She asked herself, “How can I help keep positive thoughts so I can stay healthy?” That led her to positive psychology.
“Our Senior Lunch & Learn is our newest program specifically for seniors,” said Sara Ewing, Adult Programming Director at the JCCNS. “On the third Friday of every month we host a growing senior crowd to enjoy speakers on a variety of topics and stay to socialize over lunch.”
Lina Rehal is a freelance writer and independent author. Visit her website, www.thefuzzypinkmuse.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.