Smarts and Stamina: Flourishing for Busy People

Last week, fellow MAPP graduates, Marie-Josee Shaar and Kathryn Britton published their new book: Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and PerformanceI was honored to have been asked to write the foreword for their book. This week on Psychology of Wellbeing, I share with you the foreword I wrote for them.  I hope it inspires you to buy the book.  The book includes over 50 actionable steps to improve your wellbeing, and any one of them would be worth the cover price.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” –Lao Tzu

If you are like me, you know what it’s like to be busy.  I don’t want to say I take too much on, because I truly try to limit what’s on my plate to those things that are most important to me.  But somehow, my plate gets filled with lots of things . . . and they’re all important to me. 

I’m a devoted husband and father of two young boys (very young—number two isn’t even born yet!)  I’m a corporate director of spas for a Fortune 500 company, one of the largest hospitality companies in the world.  I write a weekly article on my wellness blog at and a monthly magazine column for Organic Spa Magazine.  I’m teaching a course on Positive Leadership through University of California at Irvine.  I exercise regularly so I can continue to pursue my favorite leisure activities: playing beach volleyball and surfing on summer weekends in Long Island.  I’m studying French (my wife’s native tongue.)  And I’m a voracious reader and student of psychology.

Being busy is not a bad thing.  Especially when you are busy doing things that you love to do.  I enjoy being busy and love the challenge of trying to squeeze everything out of this life that I possibly can.  But it isn’t easy.

Living a full life comes with its own requisite set of challenges.  How do you maintain the energy to do everything that you need to do (and do it well?)  How do you maintain balance between competing priorities?  How do you live a busy, challenging and meaningful life in a way that enhances your health and happiness rather than depleting it?

Marie-Josee Shaar and Kathryn Britton have found the answers to these questions in the interplay between four simple words:  sleep, food, mood and exercise.  Our habits around these four inter-related elements of our lifestyle are the underlying drivers of our health, happiness, productivity and performance. 

Sleep, food, mood and exercise.  It seems obvious, but for the last 50-100 years health and wellness professionals have focused exclusively on diet and exercise as the key components of a preventative healthy lifestyle.  New research is proving that they were missing half the equation.

Sleep, food, mood and exercise.  It sounds simple, but none of these four components can be looked at in isolation.  What is important are the complex interactions between each of the four and how they affect the physiological chemistry of the body and the brain.  Is lack of sleep affecting your energy level and making it difficult to exercise?  Are emotional reactions tipping the chemical scales in your body and affecting your diet?

Marie-Josee and Kathryn have been studying these complex interactions that drive mental and physical health.  As a fellow alumnus from the master program in applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, I know that they have studied the science behind human behavior and performance from some of the top researchers and academics in the field.  And through their coaching businesses, they also have hands-on experience applying their research to get results that are personally and professionally meaningful to their clients.

Marie-Josee and Kathryn also practice what they preach in their own lives.  Both women are busy with a variety of meaningful projects.  Kathryn, in addition to being a consultant that coaches individuals as well as organizations to improve wellness, is also an adjunct professor at University of Maryland, associate editor of the successful “Positive Psychology News Daily” blog, and an avid science and history buff. 

Marie-Josee is certified as both a personal trainer and a nutrition and wellness consultant.  In addition to developing wellness retreats for hospitality businesses and educating coaches on new ways to approach wellness for their clients, she writes a monthly newsletter for her “Smarts and Stamina” website, and is frequently invited to speak on podcasts, radio shows, or at workshops and seminars.  She is also a fitness enthusiast, regularly doing yoga, hiking, cycling, swimming, and just about anything else that will get her body moving.

Both are academically brilliant, professionally successful, and adored by loving husbands.  Marie-Josee is vivacious and energetic, a perfect role model and advocate for positive health.  Kathryn is creative and disciplined, bringing an analytic mind from a successful career as a software engineer and inventor to her research in positive psychology. Together, they make a powerful team–expert coaches for the game of life.

In this book, these two dynamos are the perfect guides to help us all find more energy, better relationships, greater accomplishments, better health and more.  Inside, they distill what they have learned about sleep, food, mood and exercise into real actionable steps that anyone can take to bring their health, wellbeing and performance to new levels. 

Unlike many other books on the market, the information they have compiled is based on the latest research on human wellbeing.  But this is not a book about research . . . it’s about action.  It’s about simple action that you can start taking today, to make a big difference in how you feel and what you achieve.  I know we’re all busy, so let’s get started.  The first step is the easiest one . . . just turn the page.

OK, since you are reading this on my blog, you can’t just turn the page.  You’ll have to buy the book to find out what happens next.  But to make it easier for you, Kathryn and Marie-Josee have agreed to give TPOW readers a 15% discount.  Just visit this website: and use this code: 47RF6DUC.

References and recommended reading:

Shaar, M & Britton, K. (2011).  Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Performance.  Positive Psychology Press.


6 Responses to Smarts and Stamina: Flourishing for Busy People

  1. Louisa Jewell September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Once again Jeremy, you are able to capture the essence of something so clearly and eloquently. I have read the book and I found it so full of great ideas for myself and my organizational clients. It is not preachy at all but rather focuses on small incremental changes you can make to your habits. I have already tried some new ideas that I have added to my life repertoire which sounds very familiar to yours. I recommend everyone go out and buy this book and buy one for your children too. These habits should be taught early.

  2. Lucy Hone September 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Thanks Jeremy for the prompt to buy this book. I’ve just ordered it so am now very excited to know Kathryn and Marie-Josee’s work will soon be winging its way to New Zealand. Hoping to incorporate some of their actions in to the PP part of THRIVE™ – the outdoor group structured exercise program I’m creating/testing for my PhD.

  3. Marie-Josee Shaar September 22, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    It really was an honor to have you write the foreword of our book, Jeremy! Not only are you a beautiful and eloquent writer, but you really know how to make people think. There is no doubt in my mind that your magic touch will generate more interest for the book, and I thank you again for having accepted to help us that way.

    Louisa, Lucy – thank you for the support! We love that you are trying our suggestions in your own lives, but also that you are willing to share our work with others. That’s really meaningful to us.

    Thanks to all 3 of you for spreading the SaS message! We are truly grateful for it! 😉


  4. Jeremy McCarthy September 24, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you all for your comments. Louisa, I also enjoyed your wonderful book review at Positive Psychology News Daily:

  5. Jeremy McCarthy December 26, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I’m doing a holiday book givewaway on my blog this month and Lucy Hone just won two books on sleep research for her comment on this article. Congratulations!

    Lucy, I will reach out to get your mailing address! Thanks!

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