In our first blog, we discussed how individuals who seek to recover are having their health and well-being damaged, not only by substance abuse or mental illness. Damage is also being done by two or more of the Big 5 behaviors that account for 70% or more of chronic disease, disability and premature death. These individuals are likely to die from the same Big Behaviors as most of us, but they die 10 years sooner.

We talked about how essential it is for these individuals to participate in Holistic Recovery programs that include recovery from each of their Big 5 threats to their health and happiness. We reported that there are simple strategies that we recently discovered that can help professionals and the public simultaneously change two or more of the Big 5 behaviors with less time and effort but greater success.

What we didn’t report was that besides reducing multiple negative behaviors they can simultaneously increase multiple domains of well-being. Enhanced physical well-being, emotional well-being, social well-being, and work well-being can be additional prizes and surprises that accompany changing more than just one of the Big 5 behaviors.

We and our colleagues were the ones who were first surprised by the huge impact our multiple behavior change strategies had on a large population with more than four risk behaviors and almost four chronic conditions. Their health improved significantly; their happiness improved even more; and their functioning at home and work improved.

What we were most concerned about was that the majority of the 4,000 individuals from 40 states were suffering or struggling in life with only a minority thriving. The only time we saw such a profile in the U.S. was after the economic crash of 2008. It took the federal government 12 months and $700 billion dollars to help the majority to be thriving again. With just a total of 60 minutes on the phone or online we helped the majority of our participants to be thriving within six months.

In our new book, Changing to Thrive, we include mini guides that provide the principles not only for changing single or multiple Big 5 Behaviors, we also include guides for helping individuals progress from suffering or struggling to thriving in life. So many people in need of recovery not only need help with the Big 5 risks to their health. They also need help with enhancing multiple domains of well-being. Our most prized goal for our new book is to help professionals and the public apply principles of change that can dramatically reduce suffering and struggling while increasing thriving as a special way to recover.

We welcome your thoughts and experiences around reducing suffering and struggling and increasing thriving.

Our next blog will build on thriving to recover.