How to be happier and more resilient in two hours |

How to be happier and more resilient in two hours

A free class offered this week in Steamboat Springs is aimed at increasing everyone’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A free class offered this week in Steamboat Springs is aimed at increasing everyone’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity, said Tom Gangel, operations manager for Mind Springs Health.

The class also provides people with tools and strategies for increasing everyday happiness.

“It’s a two-hour class — it’s not going to change your life completely,” Gangel said, but it will provide techniques to get people thinking about how they can change their brains — and change a highly stressful or negative outlook into one with more positivity and hope.

And learning those brain-training techniques can lead to longer lasting impacts, he said. Research shows brains can and do change — even old brains.

If you go

What: Mind Springs Health Happiness and Resiliency Class
When: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20
Where: Mountain Valley Bank at 2220 Curve Plaza in Steamboat Springs.

The Happiness and Resiliency Class will be held 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at Mountain Valley Bank. A second class will be held 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Craig at Northwestern Community College.

The classes are held across the 10 counties served by Mind Springs and have gotten a positive response thus far, Gangel said.

Across the region, Mind Springs Health provides counseling and therapy for mental wellness and assists individuals and families dealing with and recovering from substance abuse and addiction.

Participants are encouraged in to fill out a free character strengths analysis prior to the class. The survey can be found at

The classes focus on the roles that character strengths, positive coping skills and resiliency play in our lives and how developing these skills in ourselves and our families can increase happiness.

The class utilizes the latest research, psychology and techniques — known to be effective among mental health professionals — and shares those skills with the larger community, Gangel said.

Ideally, happier people, and people who can more quickly overcome adversity, he said, are less likely to fall into some of the issues that plague mountain communities, from substance abuse to suicide.

Research shows that about 50% of happiness is attributed to genetics, Gangel explained, and who you are as a person. About 40% can be attributed to intentional things — like focusing on things you are grateful for and training your brain to look for good things instead of just seeing the bad. Only about 10%, he said, is dependent on the material things, and “what you have in life.”

In terms of resiliency, Gangel referred the research around Post Traumatic Growth, which is defined as experience of individuals whose development, at least in some areas has surpassed what was present before the struggle with crises occurred.

The idea is to help people learn how to not only “bounce back” after something difficult, stressful, traumatic or a major loss, but to grow from it, he said, and come out of it stronger.

We all face adversity at some point, Gangel noted, and some people can truly benefit from training in how to grow as a result of that adversity.  

Mind Springs also offers free Mental Health First Aid classes across the region, which is a an evidence-based, public health training program that teaches participants the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges or crisis, what to do in an emergency, and where to turn for help. … Research has shown that the training reduces stigma, enhances behavioral health literacy, and improves participants’ behavioral health.

Those classes are aimed at creating awareness, Gangel said, about what other people in the community may be going through, and how best to help or intervene to prevent a crisis.

For more information about the mental health first aid classes (only held outside Routt County for the remainder of the year), visit

Attendees can register for the Feb. 20 class here. For more information, contact Marcia Randol at or 970-384-3049.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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