More Joy… Better Health… Improved Performance

By Stephen Walker, PhD ©2018


More Joy 

I view Joy as a mindset. 

Carol Dweck speaks to our developing a growth mindset and provides lots of suggestions on ‘how’ we might need to think differently in order to achieve that. Of course, like everything else, it begins with a choice.  And, our willingness to make that a “Conscious’ Choice”.  In order for us to make a conscious choice, our mind and our body must both be present in the NOW MOMENT.  Think Mind/Body/Now.

Another avenue toward achieving more Joy, can be found in Robin Vealy’s work on P3 Thinking. P3Thinking requires us to choose a sense of our “Purpose.”  Why are we doing what we’re doing?  She also requires that this choice must be conscious.  Dr. Vealy is adamant that we must be fully aware in the NOW moment of exactly what we’re trying to make happen, and, how we’re doing that….. (“Productive thinking”.) Finally, she encourages us to consider and be consciously aware of all the “Possibilities” we might just be able to create.

There is inherent optimism in these two approaches, and if one considers Albert Bandura’s promotion of employing a “Positive Self-Expectation”, then we are beginning to get traction on what might just seem like a feel-good idea. 

Finally, we must add the more recent work on Mindfulness. The work in this area supports our abilities to develop and nurture More Joy in our lives.  Not just through some airy-fairy idea, but through exercising thought discipline better enabling us to emphasize some things and reduce the focus we might have on the negatives in our mind.  Thought discipline in these circumstances may call for specific techniques like the “Pepsi Center Flush” or “Thought Pattern Interrupt” or other thought stopping methods.

Finally, I believe that we tend to find what we’re looking for.  As we shine the light of our consciousness on our environment and the people we surround ourselves with, we generally find what we’re focusing on.  There may be much, much, more to what we’re observing, but it is worth noting, that these things vary significantly.  More joy requires us to focus on more positive people, and a more positive psychological outlook, even an attitude of gratitude. 


Better Health

Better health is an equally tall order.  In this day of instant everything, delivery services for food, and whatever Amazon can bring to us, the world is at our fingertips.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that is a good thing.  Our exposure to natural environments is dwindling in favor of YouTube and Netflix, and, the threat to our amazing National Park system and National Monuments is palpable.

Many are concerned over our increased exposure to processed foods, GMOs and the deteriorating nutritional choices we have in our culture.  By making good nutrition, and solid food choices less available, we’re altering our long-term physiological health.

Then there is the reduction of young people exercising, playing outdoors, and the increasing influence of Smartphones on how we engage socially, physically, and in sport.  The increase in childhood obesity in America, pattern of youth sports participants specializing at younger and younger ages – only to drop out at 14 years, and, less emphasis on the epigenome is a concern.

Our genome can now be read and is readily available for those willing to plop down a few dollars to see what their risk factors might look like, or whether they might be able to trace their family’s history back to an important time.  Some people are particularly interested in specific dietary or whether a genetic link to a disease or condition might be forecast.

Scientifically, we have the knowledge base to support each person’s exploration of their personal genome, and, help them understand their risk factors for certain health conditions like obesity or heart disease, even Alzheimer’s.

We also have the ability to support each person’s selective manifestation of their genetic imprint, through the Epigenome.  The epigenome represents the many choices people make to either support the expression of a given genetic trait, or, to inhibit that same gene’s expression.  Our lifestyle choices can make a huge difference in our longevity, vitality, and whether or not we might be vulnerable through our daily routines.

Our goal is to help develop a set of healthy guidelines, and the skill set to make healthier choices thus enabling our friends, family and clients to not only understand their genome, but learn ‘how’ to inhibit the expression of some genes while enhancing the expression of others.  This study of the Epigenome and counseling to our clients to make healthier choices based on their genetic makeup.  Ultimately, our goal is to help each client experience better health through optimal levels of exercise and the development of health habits that optimally support each person’s quest for health.


Improved Performance

Health and Sport Performance Associates was founded through the provision of mental skills training better enabling athletes to realize their potential.  It is through the long-term recognition that each athlete must address each of these components to their performance.  They are each considered “Skill Sets” and serve to feature specific aspects of performance. They are:

  1. Developing an “Athletic Identity” – Is your sport something “you do” – or – is being an athlete “who you are”.
  2. Being Prepared – routines for readiness – Pre-performance Routines. Using routines to mentally prepare and review sport competitions.
  3. Self-Talk and Self Efficacy – How does self-talk relate to self-confidence and self-efficacy? Use positive self-talk in pre-competition routines and during competition in handling performance errors. Use “thought discipline” to redirect unproductive self-talk and reframe unproductive or negative thinking.
  4. Goal Setting – by focusing on the process vs worrying about the outcome, or product enables you to learn ‘how’ to properly implement the proper execution of the physical skills required to achieve those goals.
  5. Mental Toughness – Coping with Adversity, and Developing Resiliency – Addressing Challenges, Committing to your process, Developing Control/Sustaining Control, and Building Confidence are all skills enabling you to focus on the task, making you less susceptible to distractions.
  6. Coping with Setbacks and Managing Arousal is another. This skill enables you to understand “Grit” and to develop a “Growth Mindset”. These are key in properly focusing during your personal performance.
  7. Mental Focus, Concentration, and Distraction – You can’t be focused and distracted at the same time. Not only is mindfulness an exercise in focusing, but you can use technology in training (Neurotracker) as well.
  8. Imagery and Visualization – These are both forms of pre-performance routines, or, a review of “how” you might rehearse for a higher degree of excellence in your performance. After a poor performance, visualization can help you remedy a setback.  Running the scenario in your head before or after a performance, enables you to assess what worked and what still needs work.
  9. Performance States: Anxiety, Arousal, and Management of Strong Emotions. Being in the moment, Synchronizing the Mind and Body in the “Now Moment” helps enable you to manage your emotional state during a performance. The importance of BREATHING properly cannot be overstated.
  10. Constantly Reviewing and Upgrading your Mental Skills is a task every devoted athlete engages in. There is no end to the depth and breadth in application of our mental skills.

Each of these skills enable us to achieve levels of being, and performance, that reveals a better version of ourselves.  The work is ever present and remarkably rewarding, as we see our ability level and performances constantly improving.  But it is important to note, these things take time and practice.


In the words of 10 time NCAA Champion Coach, John Wooden (UCLA Bruins Basketball):

“First We Form Habits – then They – Form Us …. Our Minds is like a Muscle and we must Develop it”


For other articles on Health and Sport Psychology visit:

Podium features readable, credible and practical information on the best practices in applied sport psychology for athletes, coaches and committed parents of gifted athletes.


By Stephen Walker, PhD, NCC, CMPC, USOC Registry of Sport Psychology

Health and Sport Performance Associates, LLC

[email protected]                             [email protected]

5829 Niwot Road, Longmont, Colorado 80503  (Office) 303.530,4439

825 E. Speer Blvd, Denver, Colorado 80218  (Mobile) 303.931.7074






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