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Positive Psychology for Wellness Pros
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Please Don’t Be Normal

Please Don’t Be Normal

UnwellHave you ever noticed that what we consider to be normal today is really anything but? Normal usually means sleep-deprived, overfed yet under nourished, overstressed and inactive. Let’s take a closer look at the current lifestyle of the average American adult, and then let’s talk about what we can do about it.

Sleep: According to the National Sleep Foundation, Americans now get an average of about 6.7 hours of sleep on a typical weekday. That’s roughly an hour of deficit each day. The cumulative sleep debt generated brings about quasi-endless undesirable consequences, from cardio-vascular disease to higher stress and lower cognitive performance.

Food: Harvard’s School of Public Health tells us that normal today is limited to only 3 portions of fruit and vegetables. Compared to the recommended 7-13 servings daily, our vitamin and fiber deficiencies are quite large, bringing about greater likelihood of gastrointestinal disease, high blood pressure and cancer, amongst others.

Mood: A very common theme today across all age groups is the feeling of being spread too thin. All generations say their stress levels are too high to be healthy, and the Stress in America Survey findings show that stress is still on the rise. High stress is associated with depression, weight gain, insomnia and even brain cell loss, to name only a few consequences.

Exercise: Study after study have shown that over 80 % of Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week. While it is considered normal to be inactive, we’d like to ignore the many resulting outcomes, including decreased cognitive ability, increased incidence of depression and accelerated aging process.

In short, normality is a sure road to mediocrity. But together, we can change it.

Promoting Health Is Sexier than Compromising

Think back to the ‘80s, when sitting in the smoking section of a restaurant was the courteous thing to do when there was even just one smoker in a party. Then towards the ‘90s, that norm evolved into the smoker accepting to sit in the non-smoking section out of respect for his smoke-free peers. And today, smoking as a whole is forbidden in most restaurants throughout North America. So with continued education, changing behaviors and clear expectations, we can shift the needle.

As wellness enthusiasts, we can lead the way. So let’s be intentional, bold and brave when it comes to our sleep, food, mood and exercise. Let’s stop equaling down, compromising and following the crowd. Let’s create new norms – ones that will carry us forward towards greater health, happiness and performance.

MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds


MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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