This Year, Change to Thrive

As the new year approaches, many people are considering changes they’d like to make and who they’d like to be. It’s a great time to reflect on the possibilities – which changes can benefit us the most?

by James O. Prochaska, PhD, and Janice M. Prochaska, PhD

There are five behaviors that account for a majority of chronic diseases, disabilities, lost productivity and premature death. They are:

1. Smoking
2. Alcohol
3. Unhealthy eating
4. Inadequate exercise
5. Stress

Why are these behaviors so deadly and dangerous? They reflect five fundamental functions of life:

1. Breathing
2. Drinking
3. Eating
4. Moving
5. Feeling

When people are breathing, drinking or eating toxins, they put their bodies, their inner selves and often others at serious risk. When they are not moving enough, they are not removing enough toxins from their body. When they are feeling distressed, they are likely to be driven to other risky behaviors to reduce their distress. People who have serious addictions or mental illnesses are likely to die from these same behaviors – but 10 years sooner.

About 90% of adults in America have two or more of these risky behaviors. The vast majority want to change, but they don’t know how. They believe that change means taking action immediately – but the vast majority are not ready to change. They don’t know that change simply means progressing from one stage of readiness to the next.

That is why, as leading experts, we wrote Changing to Thrive. This book provides clear and effective guidance on how to change each of the Big Five behaviors. And there are other effective guides, like Interactive Journals from The Change Companies®, that can help people progress through the stages of change.

Our research has demonstrated that when people change one or more of these five behaviors, they not only enhance their health, they increase their happiness and their joy. They increase their social well-being and their work well-being. The best news is, of the people who change one or more of these behaviors, the majority progress from suffering or struggling to thriving.

Join the journey to a healthier life, a happier life and a life where you are thriving.

James O. Prochaska, PhD, is a developer of the transtheoretical model of behavior change. One of the most frequently cited authors in psychology, he has also authored Interactive Journals with The Change Companies®. He is the author of over 400 publications, including four books: Changing to Thrive, Changing for Good, Systems of Psychotherapy, and The Transtheoretical Approach. Dr. Prochaska received the Innovators Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association, and a Medal of Honor for Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society.

Janice M. Prochaska, PhD, led research and development teams for behavioral health and organizational change programs as CEO of Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Inc., from 1997 – 2015. She is one of the most widely published social workers and coauthor of Changing to Thrive. Dr. Prochaska has been recognized with an achievement award by Providence Business News as one of the Outstanding Leaders in New England.