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Author helps others find 'everlasting happiness'

Joanne Veeck turns passion for positive psychology into chapter for book
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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On a random day about 15 years ago, Joanne Jeffers Veeck decided to re-examine an old interest. That interest was psychology, a subject matter she studied during one year of graduate school at San Francisco State University. She hadn’t finished the degree but the topic continued to fascinate her through the years. Around that time, Veeck also dusted off a set of books about positive thinking, given to her a few years before by her father as a Christmas gift. As she further embarked on her journey, she learned about positive psychology, which she describes as not the “doom and gloom” of focusing on the past and origin of personal issues — but on opportunities in the future. “With positive psychology, you don’t really care about the past,” Veeck said. “You take the person you are today. Let’s not talk about what’s bad in you, let’s talk about what’s good in you.” In the following years, this modern approach to psychology and achieving everlasting happiness became her passion. “(Before this) I would have considered myself your basic, average (person) stressed out about unimportant things,” Veeck said. “This changed my life. All of the sudden I realized there is very little I wouldn’t be able to handle.” Veeck, now 55 years old and a mother of two living in Loomis, became a motivational speaker and co-authored the recently released book, “Stepping Stones to Success: Experts Share Strategies for Mastering Business, Life and Relationships.” The book features interviews with 19 experts in the field of health, happiness and total body well being, such as Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield and Dr. Denis Waitley. The goal is for readers to experience positive and life-altering changes through what the authors call time-tested strategies. Veeck’s chapter focuses on her belief that happiness can be taught. People can learn how to discipline their minds, change their thoughts and adjust their attitudes to draw on inner strength and virtues to thrive. “If you choose one day that your path for your life is happiness, it’s there,” Veeck said. “But you have to open your mind. It starts with your mind.” Born in Palo Alto and raised all over the United States and in Mexico City, Veeck graduated from the University of the Pacific with a degree in education and a teaching credential. She later moved to San Francisco to study psychology and child development. In 1984, her father George Jeffers started a family business so Veeck dropped everything and moved to Sacramento from Marin County to help run PriceLess Drug Stores. She worked for the retail drug store chain for 24 years, several of those spent as vice president of the company. Veeck said her father was an amazing businessman who deeply inspired her. She observed how he interacted with people and the compassion he showed. He’d call his employees the “greatest cashier” or the “greatest office manager,” to encourage them to be the best they could be, she said. But in 2006 her father passed away and the family soon sold the business. The change gave Veeck a chance to devote more time to acting as a motivational educator in local middle schools and high schools to teach lessons for happiness. Her first talk, called “Happy Hour,” took place at Warren T. Eich Intermediate School in Roseville in 2001. In 2008, she completed 20 speaking engagements, earning a spot as a member of the National Speakers Association. “I knew I had a calling to help folks realize their incredible potential and creativity,” Veeck said. Janelle Hankins, a 33-year-old mother of three in Loomis, has attended one of Veeck’s seminars. “I learned to let go of the negativity I was carrying with me from my past,” Hankins said. “I was able to re-examine bad experiences from my past and find the positive in them.” Hankins said she also felt inspired to try new adventures and has since hiked Half Dome in Yosemite, gone whitewater rafting and is currently learning Taekwondo. Thursday afternoon, Veeck stood outside Borders in Roseville — where she has an upcoming book reading event — and talked to passersby about her passion. Two of those people were Michael and Deborah Dunn, who have both attended several motivational seminars through their jobs. After a long conversation, Veeck gave them a copy of her book. “We’ll read it,” Deborah Dunn said. “You can always find at least one thing that you can take away with you. Even just one thing is of value.” Veeck said talking to people is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work, especially when she deals with individuals struggling with emotional suffering who need a positive outlook on life. “I am able to really help them,” Veeck said. “It’s real. It’s not just words.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- What: “Stepping Stones to Success: Experts Share Strategies for Mastering Business, Life and Relationships” book reading and signing with co-author Joanne Jeffers Veeck When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4 Where: Borders, 2030 Douglas Blvd. in Roseville Cost: Free Info: Visit www.jjhappyhour.com