“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change – positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

MICHAEL BROWN SR., ahead of a grand jury decision in the case of his son Michael Jr., who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., this summer.

What could you do that would you make you happy? Right now? Today?

Benjamin Disraeli quotes

Happiness is not a bus stop! Simply standing there won’t do us any good—we have to step out and grab it ourselves. If you purposefully take actions like practicing gratitude, identifying and striving towards your goals, or treating others with kindness, over time, you’ll be happier. And there’s thousands of scientific studies to back it up!  (Source:

Need some inspiration?  Below Jonathan Fader, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, offers three key ideas.

“We all want to be happier: a simple sentence, only six words long. And yet every time it crosses my mind, it’s a powerful reminder of why my job—psychologist—even exists; every patient I work with wants my help in order to enjoy their life more. These individuals come from all walks of life, and each has his or her own story, but this desire is perhaps the only thing that they have in common with each other—and, for that matter with you or me. They all want to “be happier”.

So: what’s the number one thing you can do to make that happen?

During my first meetings with them, people often suggest large, sweeping changes to their lives. I could quit my job. I could leave New York. I could get back with my ex. I could shave off my beard.

All valid ideas. But here’s my suggestion: I could try to find more enjoyment in my life as it exists right now.

It is so clear that enjoyment of life is linked to so many other positive outcomes. Some point to the possibility that enjoying exercise will lead to better performancein physical activity. But are there things that you can do practice enjoyment? What concrete behavioral changes can you make to begin your quest to enjoy your life with more vigor?

Here are three ideas for you to practice:

1. Have a daily ritual around enjoyment

Upon waking, ask yourself, “What do I look forward to most today?” At the end of your day, ask yourself, “What was the most enjoyable part of my day and why?”

You could actually take it one step further and document your enjoyment ritual. Each night, you could write down one thing you enjoyed about your day on a slip of paper, and drop it in a jar. A year from now, empty the jar and re-read the slips. I love this method because of its double-pronged benefit: not only do you get to dwell on your enjoyment every day, but you can relive it all at once, long after the fact.

2. Whenever you eat try to focus on the taste of your food for just one minute.

What does it taste like? Try to identify the different sensations. Salty? Sweet? Bitter? Sour? If you are eating with someone, comment to them about each observation.

This tip comes out of the research which suggests that eating smaller portions of food with more mindfulness can increase your actual enjoyment of what you are eating. (Of course, the trick is the smaller portions–read my post on changing a behavior for that one!)

3. Put a reminder on your phone, computer or calendar that reminds you to enjoy whatever is most important in your life.

I have a small cartoon sticker of a shining sun that my daughter gave me that’s on my phone case. In the midst of any stressful day, it reminds me to focus on what I can enjoy and divert my attention from the rest.”

Jonathan Fader, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist. He is an assistant professor of Family Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and teaches in the Beth Israel Residency Program in Family Medicine in New York City/Institute for Family Health (IUFH). Dr. Fader is also a team psychologist to the New York Mets baseball team, writes a blog for Psychology Today entitled The New You, and is bilingual in Spanish.





How The Happiest Country On Earth Hacks Winter!

How ‘hygge’ can help you get through winter

The vague cultural concept doesn’t translate easily into English, but it has helped Denmark become the ‘happiest country on Earth’ despite long, dark winters.
cabin on a snowy night
“Hygge” may sound alien outside Scandinavia, but its ethos of coziness and camaraderie could warm up winter anywhere. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Denmark is the happiest country on Earth, according to the United Nations, which may seem odd for a small, subarctic kingdom where the winter sun often sets before 4 p.m.
Yet Danes are almost defiantly merry. Not only did their country rank No. 1 in both the 2013 U.N. World Happiness Report (WHR) and the inaugural 2012 edition, but it has topped the European Commission’s well-being and happiness index for 40 years in a row.
So what’s behind all this boreal bliss? It’s partly a regional phenomenon, since the U.N. also lists Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Sweden among its five happiest countries, along with nearby Switzerland and the Netherlands. But Denmark stands out even in euphoric Northern Europe, suggesting the country has an emotional ace up its sleeve.
Denmark isn’t short on reasons to be happy. Its population is only about 2 percent of the United States’, but its per capita gross domestic product is four spots ahead of the U.S. at No. 6 in the world. Its citizens enjoy easy access to health care, low crime, high gender equality and relatively clean air (half of Copenhagen residents commute by bicycle). They also get at least five weeks of paid vacation per year, which probably helps morale.
But beyond all that, Denmark endures dreary winters with the help of an arcane cultural concept known as “hygge.” It’s not an easy word for outsiders to pronounce — it sounds sort of like HYU-gah — and it’s even harder to translate. Hygge apparently has no direct analogue in English, and related words like “coziness,” “togetherness” and “well-being” only cover a fraction of its nebulous definition. Still, in hopes of shedding light on Denmark’s world-class happiness, here’s a closer look at the hazy nature of hygge.
 Cold hands, warm heart
Hygge, originally a Norwegian word for “well-being,” first appeared in Danish near the end of the 18th century, according to Denmark’s tourism bureau. It has evolved into a big part of Danish life since then, absorbing connotations over time like a semantic snowball. The dark winters of Denmark helped turn hygge from a mere word into a kind of cultural panacea, manifested in various ways to buffer Danes against cold, solitude and stress.
“In other languages the word for hygge or coziness is more a physical thing, and hygge is more a mental thing,” explains Lotte Hansen, a library science student from Aalborg, Denmark, who’s interning at the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. “It’s like a feeling, and it’s big at Christmastime. The candles, the food, being with your family.”
“It’s not only Christmas, though,” she adds, noting hygge is a pervasive, year-round spirit. “It’s like a mood you have. We can see hygge in many things, in many situations.”
This flexibility of hygge is a major reason why English words like “cozy” don’t do it justice. “Coziness relates to physical surroundings — a jersey can be cozy, or a warm bed — whereas hygge has more to do with people’s behavior toward each other,” writes author Helen Dyrbye in “Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes.” “It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality and contentment rolled into one.”
Danes don’t have a monopoly on these concepts, but they do take pride in their holistic way of looking at them. It’s not unlike the American idea of thankfulness around Thanksgiving and Christmas, which refers to a general sense of gratitude as well as the implied presence of family, festivity and homemade food. Yet while holiday cheer doesn’t last all year for many Americans — despite its potential health benefits — hygge has become embedded in the Danish consciousness.
“My feeling is that American life is so rushed that we often forget about doing things and creating these events of hygge,” says Michele McNabb, librarian for the Museum of Danish America. “Americans vary so much in their family connections and friend networks, but you have to slow down for it. Hygge is not something you can do in a rush.”
How to hygge
The word is useful as a noun or a verb, McNabb adds — “you can hygge by curling up on the sofa with a good book” — and as an adjective by converting it to “hyggeligt” (HYU-gah-lee). It generally has a social component, but there are wide-ranging interpretations across Denmark, allowing it to describe anything from a person or a building to an abstract ambience or sentiment. And for Danes who travel or move to America, the lack of a clear English translation can feel linguistically limiting.
“It’s often connected to some social thing, but also a house can be hyggeligt, or different places can be hyggeligt,” says Hansen, who came to the U.S. from Denmark just a few months ago. “We use it really often. When I came over here, I had to take a moment to think, ‘What word can I use to describe this when I can’t use hygge?'”
Of course, it’s hard to pinpoint how much hygge fuels Danish happiness, but as the U.N.’s WHR points out, mental health and social support are known to affect national well-being. “Mental health is the biggest single factor affecting happiness in any country,” Columbia University’s Earth Institute reported after the first WHR release in 2012, adding that “stable family life and enduring marriages are important for the happiness of parents and children.” And while happier countries tend to be rich, it noted, “more important for happiness than income are social factors like the strength of social support.”
If Denmark’s happiness really is a product of hygge, as the country’s tourism website suggests, maybe it could be exported to less jubilant nations? The U.S. ranks No. 17 globally in the 2013 WHR — behind both Canada and Mexico, as well as Panama — but perhaps an extra dose of hygge could lift American spirits a bit?
“I think it should be universally adapted,” McNabb says. “I’m sure in other cultures there are some things that are similar. I just think the busier our lives get and the more on-call we are 24/7, there’s a tendency to overdo things and be overstressed. The concept of carving time out for simple things is very important.”
Russell McLendon is science editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.


Ditch The GDP Or Include The GPI?

 The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Measures The Profit of Doing Business, The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) Also Measures The Costs Involved In Doing Business.

The Guardian journalism smiley face

Bhutan’s gross national happiness and Vermont’s genuine progress indicator are both metrics which measure a nation’s success on metrics that go beyond purely financial. Photograph: Alamy

Double-entry bookkeeping is a bitch. I remember the first time I envisioned starting a retail business, picturing all the money I’d make before a mentor taught me the basic costs of doing business. After calculating expenditures for rent, paying staff, and overhead, I learned why it’s so critical to understand the difference between net and gross profits.

This fundamental tenet of business hasn’t been incorporated into the basic measure of value the world has used for almost eight decades. By definition, the gross domestic product evaluates gross measures to determine the supposed success and happiness for a country and its citizens. Never mind the ethical issues, as recently reported, that countries such as the US and the Netherlands are factoring in revenue from prostitution and drugs into their GDP estimates.


On a basic accounting level, GDP measures haven’t historically reported the costs of doing business in areas like the environment or employee wellbeing. And in a world of finite resources, where potable water or the amount of stress a worker can handle have limits, businesses and lawmakers alike are beginning to recognize the urgent need to move beyond GDP metrics to better measure what matters in our world and lives.


These new metrics and a focus on pragmatic change were the primary themes of the recent Happiness and Wellbeing Conference held in Burlington, Vermont last week. Subtitled “building a national movement”, the event featured dozens of scientists, lawmakers, psychologists, economists and statisticians all focused on how to foster metrics that better measure the full breadth of citizen wellbeing beyond a primary focus on wealth.


A specific measure discussed at the conference immediately relevant to the business world is the genuine progress indicator (GPI). While a great deal of attention has been paid to gross national happiness (GNH) created by Bhutan, the GPI features a similar focus on measuring multiple areas of wellbeing beyond financial metrics. As John de Graaf, a speaker at the conference, noted in a recent article for Truthout, Building A Movement for Happiness, the GPI has now been adopted by the state of Vermont: “Its legislature, with support from Democrats, Republicans and Progressive Party members, has established a state GPI, that uses some two dozen measures of health, wealth, education, leisure and sustainability to measure progress.” Maryland has also incorporated GPI into state measurements of wellbeing, and features an excellent videoexplaining how it works.


“GPI is basic double-entry bookkeeping.” Eric Zencey is a fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics and coordinator of the Vermont GPI Project. As he noted: “Any business person knows you have to deduct costs of producing benefits from the value of the benefits you produce—you have to look at net, not gross. Under GPI, policy makers will have to establish regulatory, licensing and taxation regimes that require companies to cover these costs instead of continuing to let companies impose them as an unlegislated tax on the populace as a whole.”

The good news for businesses is that double-entry bookkeeping offers new opportunities for revenue. By taking a wider measure of wellbeing, companies are improving profits in areas such as increasing employee wellbeing at work as noted in the second annual World Happiness Report: “Harter et al. (2010) found in a longitudinal study of ten large organizations that worker engagement makes a difference to productivity. Work units in which employees were satisfied and otherwise felt highly engaged with their work led to improvements in the bottom line, measured in terms of revenue, sales, and profit.”

Other speakers at the Conference such as Laura Musikanski, co-organizer for the event and executive director for The Happiness Alliance emphasized the benefits from gross national happiness and other measures, as it’s being adopted in the US. A former executive director for Sustainable Seattle, Musikanski has created a GNH Surveythat more than 30,000 people have taken in under two years. It features hard data about multiple domains of wellbeing in an interactive page on her site. The survey is being used by dozens of cities and organizations around the US, including businesses such as Place of the Future, where founder Mika Kim incorporates the GNH Survey as part of her work. “With the research conducted to date with the GNH Index Surveys in workplaces, we were able to make a determination of the direct correlation between productivity and worker happiness with a finding that the number one issue is time balance.”

It’s time to move from gross to good. While adopting GPI or GNH metrics will take some adjustment, growing evidence highlighted at the conference is proving the net gain of measuring wellbeing beyond wealth, and the happiness that results.

John C. Havens is the founder of The H(app)athon Project and author of the book, Hacking Happiness – Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World


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As Co-Founders of HIPinthe253, Kate and Chiara are thrilled to be counted amongst such an array of Happiness and Well-Being enthusiasts!  Look who’s presenting along with us at the 5th Annual conference: HAPPINESS & WELL BEING: BUILDING A NATIONAL MOVEMENT.  We’re headed to Vermont this week to join in and learn from each other.  Check out our new best friends in the making:    GNH 2014 -Speakers

Here’s the Program:  GNH 2014 Conference Program

And here’s OUR workshop:  

HIPinthe253 (The Happiness Initiative Project in area code 253) Meets the GNH to Redefine What Matters – Chiara Wood and Kate Stirling

       How do we rally our local communities around this global movement to create an economy grounded in measuring what really matters? Our workshop offers three vignettes to engage us in role-playing different presentations we can then modify for use in our own communities. These vignettes are designed to enlighten, educate, entertain and enlist local support for our various projects.            

    The vignettes are built around these key ideas and research findings: 1) What contributes to our happiness and well-being?, 2) How does GDP deviate from measuring happiness and well-being?, 3) How does the US happiness and well-being rank against other countries? We offer strategies geared to different audiences (from youth to the local Chamber of Commerce) and a variety of methods (from data to movie clips).

     If you are already familiar with this material, our workshop will help you refresh and encapsulate it to work with your community. If this is new material, we trust you’ll come away inspired by what it offers. We will also include a segment on the challenges of building a local coalition, so that workshop participants can share their own experiences and concerns. 

 HOLD ON Vermont!  Here come The HIP Chicks from The 253!

How Happiness & Well Being Won The Super Bowl

Russell WilsonCredit: Photograph by Peter Yang

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Changing Football One Positive Thought At A Time.

“IT’S DIFFERENT HERE,” Pete Carroll says. “Have you noticed?” It’s hard not to. At 9 a.m. on the first Sunday of training camp in Renton, Wash., high-performance sports psychologist Mike Gervais, dressed in a navy Seahawks hoodie and white baseball cap and flashing more enthusiasm than is rational at this hour, welcomes players into a meeting room at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. This place used to be the site of a coal tar refinery; now it’s the happiest, greenest campsite in the history of the NFL. Gervais is about to lead a meditation session and, as he always does, instructs the players to hit record on their phone voice-recorder apps and to close their eyes. Then he starts guiding them: “Quiet your minds,” “Focus your attention inwardly” and “Visualize success.”

This is the Pete Carroll experience we always hear about. After flaming out as an NFL head coach, Carroll rebuilt his rep as an ultracompetitive buddy coach at USC. But beneath the perpetual smile was a guy who thought, more than anything, there was a better way to win. Meditation is only part of it. After Carroll was fired by the Patriots following the 1999 season, he agonized over what he’d do differently if he landed another NFL head-coaching job. Almost every day for the better part of a decade, while leading Southern Cal to seven top-10 finishes and one BCS title, he jotted down do-over notes. His dream was to fundamentally change the way players are coached. The timeworn strategy is, of course, to be a hard-ass — think Bear Bryant banning water breaks, Vince Lombardi screaming and yelling, Mike Rice throwing basketballs at players’ heads, Nick Saban berating his team on the sideline. Carroll craved a chance to reimagine the coaching role in the NFL. “I wanted to find out if we went to the NFL and really took care of guys, really cared about each and every individual, what would happen?”

Now, three and a half years into his tenure with the Seahawks — with a 91-man roster that includes only four players who have been with the team longer — he can truly start to answer that question.

On this Sunday morning, it starts with meditation with Gervais, whom Carroll began to integrate into the program in 2011, at first working on the fringes as a consultant, then becoming a sideline regular last year. For the newcomers to his sessions, Gervais keeps them short, about six minutes. For those with some experience, he prepares longer, more individualized meditations. No one is required to be here, yet about 20 players show up at various times every week to breathe in, breathe out and open their minds. The entire roster also participates in yoga class, which players enjoyed so much last year as an optional activity that the staff decided to make it a mandated part of player workouts this year.

The big idea is that happy players make for better players. Everyone in the facility, from coaches and players to personal assistants and valets, is expected to follow Carroll’s mantras regarding positivity of thought, words and actions. “Do your job better than it has ever been done before,” he tells them. Yelling and swearing are frowned upon, and every media interview with a player or coach ends with a thank-you to the reporter. And in a trial program entering its second year, a group of 15 to 20 players is undergoing Neurotopia brain-performance testing and has worked with Gervais to create status profiles — updated every week on an iPad app — of what’s going on in their lives, how much sleep they’re getting, their goals and how they’re dealing with stressors.

Even as we re-examine the mental health of players in this kinder, gentler era of the sport, this is a bizarro football world. It certainly helps that Carroll has found a kindred spirit and advocate in second-year star QB Russell Wilson, who schedules individual weekly sessions with Gervais. “We do imagery work and talk about having that innovative mindset of being special,” Wilson says. “We talk about being in the moment and increasing chaos throughout practice, so when I go into the game, everything is relaxed.”

Then he repeats what Carroll says all the time, what everyone around here says: “I talk to guys on other teams, and other teams aren’t like this. We do stuff different here.”

Meditation? Yoga? No yelling or swearing? Russell Wilson is on board.
AT THE NFL Rookie Symposium in June, Chris Ballard steps to the podium. Ballard, the director of player personnel for the Chiefs, has a harsh message for the recent draft picks. “Most of you will not be in this league three years from now,” he begins. Later, he adds, “Nobody cares about your problems. The fans don’t care. The media doesn’t care. And ownership doesn’t care. They care about results.”

These words are spoken seven months after a Kansas City player, Jovan Belcher, shot his girlfriend nine times, then drove to the team facility and killed himself in the parking lot. But in what remains a suck-it-up NFL culture, that speech could have been delivered by almost anybody in the league.

“He was treating them exactly how they feel, like objects,” says Jimmy Stewart, a licensed family therapist who works with athletes and military personnel dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Stewart is a former defensive back with the Saints and Lions, and when he left the league in 1980 he was an emotional wreck and an alcoholic. “The four years I played pro football were some of the most horrendous of my life,” he says. “I cried alone. I was frightened. I badly needed somebody to talk to, and I know so many guys today who feel the same way.”

After retiring, Stewart earned a master’s degree in counseling and went on a crusade to improve the mental health of athletes. In the past few years, he has lobbied the NFL and several teams, including the Chiefs and Saints, to embed psychologists within their coaching staffs, similar to what the military does. He says that his calls largely go unreturned and that even when teams do call him back, he is often met with arrogance and a “we’re doing enough” attitude. So when Stewart hears details of what’s happening in Seattle, he begins to cry.

“Talking about concussions is important, but players are not committing suicide just because they have CTE,” he says. “They are committing suicide because they refuse to be vulnerable. CTE can cause symptoms of depression, but it’s isolation and invulnerability that causes you to commit suicide. With Belcher, the only way you have a chance with him is if every day you have a coach and a psychologist asking, ‘How are you feeling today?'”

Tickets for Seahawks training camp routinely sell out.
In Seattle, there’s an entire staff expressly designed to look out for players. It’s headed by Sam Ramsden, the team’s longtime trainer who’s now the Seahawks’ director of player health and performance. The staff also includes Maurice “Mo” Kelly, the director of player development, who acts as a liaison between players and management; Dirk Eldredge, a life skills consultant/addiction counselor, who helps players transition to the NFL and prepare for when they leave the game; and Gervais. By Carroll’s orders, rookies receive special attention to help them assimilate.

“It hit me that in our days at USC, many of our players were drafted high, but a lot of them didn’t do very well in the league,” Carroll says. “They would come back to visit campus and say: ‘It’s hard-core. You don’t know anybody. You go home and you’re by yourself. You don’t feel connected at all.’ We had reached guys at a different level that allowed them to perform at a high level. And when they left us, they didn’t have the support to carry them through.”

All Seahawks players are encouraged to use the support staff the way employees in the business world rely on a human resources department. Depressed? Worried about a loved one? Sick pet? The staff wants to hear about it. And if a player is dragging at practice, a coach will be proactive and ask why — instead of jumping to conclusions and berating him in front of his teammates. That includes assistant head coach Tom Cable, the former hothead coach of the Raiders. “I always coached how my coaches coached me,” he says. Working alongside Carroll, 48-year-old Cable says he finally feels as though he’s working with players the right way. “If I go ballistic on a guy because he dropped his outside hand or missed an underneath stunt, who is wrong? I am,” Cable says. “I’m attacking his self-confidence and he’s learning that if he screws up, he’s going to get yelled at. If you make a mistake here, it’s going to get fixed.”

One way or another. Last year Ramsden started screening struggling players’ blood panels, looking for deficiencies in certain amino acids that act as important indicators 
of whether a person lacks sufficient levels of dopamine and serotonin. He’s looking for why players get into a funk, not just how to shake them out of it.

If a physical solution isn’t found, Ramsden, Gervais or another staff member talks players through their problems. And Carroll has empowered his team leaders to reach out to players who might not connect with a 62-year-old white surfer dude. “Coach Carroll listens to his players,” says veteran running back Michael Robinson. “But you need the right mix of older guys who get it. Pete can’t be in the locker room all the time, and the head man won’t resonate with everybody.”

Make no mistake, it’s not hard to find detractors. QB Matt Flynn, Seattle’s big free agent signee a year ago, criticized Carroll’s style on his way out the door for Oakland this spring. “The way I look at it, leadership and being that guy is: Don’t be someone you’re not. Don’t be a hoorah guy jumping around and clapping your hands if you’re not that guy,” Flynn told the Los Angeles Times. “Makes you look desperate. Makes you look silly. That’s not me.”

Critics in the league also point out that the concepts of “new age” and “PED abusers” don’t exactly mesh. Since 2010, Seattle has had a league-high five failed drug tests, and that doesn’t even include Richard Sherman, whose suspension was overturned on appeal. Most of the positives reportedly were for Adderall use, although as Jim Harbaugh, coach of the division-rival 49ers, pointed out in June, the NFL is prohibited from commenting on the nature of the flunked tests. “You’re taking somebody at their word that I don’t know if you can take them at their word, understanding the circumstances,” Harbaugh said.

The most recent suspension came in May, when second-year pass rusher Bruce Irvin tested positive, reportedly for Adderall, and received a four-game ban. Carroll met with Irvin, then with Robinson, who called a team meeting and challenged his teammates to hold themselves accountable not only to coaches and league rules but to one another. “The fact that that happened to Bruce is a gift for the next guy,” Carroll says. “He made a poor choice and got hammered by it so the next guy won’t have to go through that.”

THE EVOLUTION OF the Seahawks began on Jan. 11, 2010, the day Pete Carroll brought his sunny disposition to rainy Seattle. When asked to encapsulate his life philosophy, he answers with two words, the same ones that hang on a banner above the practice field: “Always compete.”

The Seahawks’ training facility has everything, including an on-site barber and top-notch nutrition.
To implement that philosophy in Seattle, Carroll knew he needed the perfect partner. From a stack of GM candidates, Carroll zeroed in on John Schneider, who, although only 38 at the time, had already built a reputation around the league as a scrappy, relentless, outside-the-box thinker as the director of football operations for the Packers. When Schneider was a junior at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, he wrote an impassioned letter to Packers GM Ron Wolf explaining why he’d make a great scout. An intrigued Wolf brought him on as an intern that summer in 1992, and Schneider has been working in the league ever since. Says Carroll of their partnership, “I was going to make this a great relationship, a famous relationship of cooperation and coordination.”

In their first four months together, before their families joined them in Seattle, the two men “brothered up,” as Carroll calls it. They slept on their office couches, pored over the roster and folders of draft prospects, and shared control of the stereo. In the early days, they worked to the Grateful Dead; as the draft neared, they ditched the Dead for the Doors.

They needed that time together to execute a radical roster overhaul — more than 200 player moves that first year and more than 500 by the end of 2011. Carroll and Schneider wanted guys who truly bought in, and they weren’t interested in begging for converts. On the first day of meetings in 2010, Carroll asked players to stand up and choose a new seat, to take a fresh perspective as they started a new season. “One guy in the back of the auditorium didn’t switch seats,” says Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks’ starting quarterback that year. “He was a big-money guy, a starter. And he was gone a week later. Pete didn’t care about the seats. He just wants to know who’s with him.” Another time during that first camp, Carroll turned off the facility’s air conditioning because he wanted to see who would complain about the heat. The coach does not like whining. In fact, it’s Rule 2 of his three decrees: 1. Protect the team; 2. No whining, no complaining, no excuses; 3. Be early.

Carroll’s group prides itself on finding positive players, and that is never more evident than in the team’s draft preparation. Carroll, Schneider and the scouting department look at the same physical traits every other team evaluates, but they might value interview sessions more than any other team in the league. They pay close attention to a potential draft pick’s word choices and any negative language or finger-pointing. They want to hear accountability and optimism. Before the 2010 draft, Seattle was in the market for a franchise left tackle in a draft deep with left tackles. But among Trent Williams, Russell Okung, Anthony Davis and Bryan Bulaga, Okung was the guy who stood out to Schneider and Carroll. How did they ultimately decide he was worth the No. 6 pick and a $48 million investment? By taking him bowling and watching him roll a woeful 63. Okung played hard, and when Schneider rolled the exact same score, Okung smiled and asked for a rematch. He was a living, breathing gutter-ball-rolling embodiment of the personality blend of upbeat and fiercely competitive that the Seahawks wanted to draft.

It’s also no coincidence that Wilson, the 75th pick in the 2012 draft, is a Seahawk. After all, he has a track record of setting and reaching goals. In 2011, after graduating from NC State, Wilson decided he wanted to spend his last year of eligibility playing for Wisconsin. So he faxed a letter to then-Badgers coach Bret Bielema stating that he wanted to come to Madison, win a Big Ten title, be the conference QB of the year and go to the Rose Bowl. Bielema was impressed by the QB’s resolve, welcomed Wilson and then watched as the fifth-year senior checked off every item.

After being drafted by the Seahawks in the third round last year, Wilson told Carroll, “I can be the starting quarterback on this team.” The QB also gave a new list of goals to the Seattle coaches and hung a copy in his locker. His list ranges from daily objectives (“Always believe in myself”) to what he calls his legendary goals (“Win multiple Super Bowls”). And this was compiled before he was named Seattle’s starting quarterback. Says Wilson: “I truly believe in positive synergy, that your positive mindset gives you a more hopeful outlook, and belief that you can do something great means you will do something great. I believed that before I got here, and the crazy thing is, Coach Carroll and our football team believe it too.”

A DJ spins music during training sessions.
On Day 1 of minicamp in Renton, Carroll pulls on receiver gloves and throws with an equipment manager as Macklemore thumps through overhead speakers, courtesy of the team DJ. Once practice starts, Carroll rarely stops moving, disappearing into huddles and racing across the field to high-five a defensive back for breaking up a pass. Gervais wanders the sideline much the way he does on Sundays during the season, stopping to chat with whoever walks his way. Intense offensive line drills end with combatants pulling each other up: “Stay positive,” players say to each other. “Put yourself into a mindset of greatness.” A touchdown catch brings hoots and hollers from the sidelines, as if the Seahawks had just won a Super Bowl.

Reality sets in after practice. Reporters confront players with questions about Irvin’s suspension and Harbaugh’s comments on PEDs. “We just want to keep it positive — always,” says cornerback Walter Thurmond. Adds receiver Doug Baldwin, “Our prefrontal cortex doesn’t reach maturity until age 25.”

Later that afternoon, Carroll lights up when informed of Baldwin’s unusual answer. “That is when your brain develops and you take a step forward in maturity,” he says. “Him telling you guys that — that’s a look into our relationship.”

HERE’S THE THING about the Seattle experiment: It’s only the beginning of what the Seahawks intend to be a total revamp of the way a football franchise approaches the physical and mental well-being of everyone in the organization. Team chef Mac McNabb feeds the players fruits and vegetables from local organic farms. He takes any leftovers to a nearby family-run farm to feed free-range chickens, which are raised specifically for the Seahawks cafeteria. Ramsden and Gervais spend their spare time attending conferences, meeting with nutritionists and sleep experts, and, judging by the mound of boxes in Ramsden’s office, buying any new tech gadget that could be the next breakthrough in maximizing athletic performance. At the start of last season, Ramsden gathered data on most of the Seahawks, including blood and vision analyses and sleep and conditioning profiles. At practice, player movement is tracked via GPS so the team can monitor workloads. Ultimately, Ramsden would like to have players and coaches wear wristbands to track sleep habits and, when necessary, adjust practice schedules to maximize rest. (Can you imagine Bill Belichick sending everybody home from practice early to catch up on shut-eye?)

The Seahawks hope to one day have daily mental health check-ins to monitor players’ off-the-field problems. Owner Paul Allen, no stranger to innovation, has indicated that he wants his MLS franchise, the Seattle Sounders, to follow the Seahawks’ model.

For now, though, the next step is getting everybody on the meditation bandwagon. “Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” Okung says. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

After last year’s crushing playoff loss to the Falcons, Wilson did just that. Walking off the field alongside his teammates, he felt the darkness creeping in as he entered the stadium tunnel. Then he stopped for a moment and closed his eyes. Instead of fixating on what could have been in the 30-28 defeat, he began to visualize what could be. “We have a bright, bright future,” Wilson thought in the belly of the Georgia Dome. “The Seahawks can be special for a long time.”

On the team bus, he made a beeline for Carroll, unable to keep his vision to himself. Then he paused for a second, not wanting his optimism to be confused with a lack of accountability for the loss. He began slowly before Carroll cut him off. “Man, that’s just what I was thinking,” the coach said. “Let’s not just win one Super Bowl. Let’s win multiple.”

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Sept. 2 NFL Preview.

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