PAXIS Institute


Everyone benefits from PAXIS Work

When we are working with schools, families, communities, governments, businesses, or leaders, we often start out with the “Suitcase Exercise” asking folks present to list all the good things they want people they care about—at home, at work, or in community—to carry in their “suitcases of life” and what heavy burdens they don’t want the same people to carry in their suitcases of life.

These lists are amazing and nearly the same all over the world—part of the genetic coding of what it is to be human. Then, we ask how they want the friends’ suitcases of the people they care about to be packed. The answer after a momentary stumble is: “the same things.”  And then we pose, “What about the Friends’ Friends’ suitcases?”  Immediately, folks say, “The same.”

Then we pose the deep question, “Why do you wish all of those other people” to have similarly well-packed suitcases for life?” The audience responds, “Because if they don’t have well packed suitcase for life, the people we love will be harmed. Both good and bad are contagious.”

This is the nature of our work, to leverage the unique quality of humans to be prosocial with others for which we have no kinship with—to leverage and maximize prosocial relationships everywhere so that everyone benefits.  This is what our scientific papers call, “The Nurturing Environments” model of nudging all…

  • to richly reinforce prosocial behavior,
  • to reduce toxic influences,
  • to limit problematic behaviors, and
  • to increase psychological flexibility

This is not a rosy, posy approach. It is grounded in the evolutionary paradox that human groups are a common pool resource where we can all benefit; or, the tragedy of the commons pool resource can occur with greed and avarice taking all—causing the collapse of the good…with violence, poverty, poor health, and perilous, insecure futures as the consequence.

If you survey all the good that is in your life or the lives of the people you care about and fully acknowledge your deepest fears, it is clear that our futures depend on good futures of others from the moment we are born to the day we die.

Thus, we at PAXIS when applying prevention science (our field of expertise), we don’t focus on a few, we focus on everyone so that all live and do well—at home, at school, at work, at play, everyday, everywhere, for everyone. Our futures require it.


The scientists and practitioners at PAXIS know that millions of young people and thousands of schools are achieving, acting peaceful, making healthy choices, and experiencing well being everyday. These successes are the result of best practices and those best practices need to be more widely shared. It is a PAXIS mission to find these best practices and share them with the greater community. The PAX Good Behavior Game (being used in multiple countries, states and communities) is an example of a practice that can make a world of difference.


Time with the people we love happens or not. Once gone, all we have are memories of moments. At PAXIS, we came to realize that productivity at home was equally as important as productivity in the workplace. We came to see that we could figure out ways for people to get things done that they have to get done, then the more time there is left for joy.

Parents today are challenged to raise their children without significant help from extended family systems, or from the community, by and large. There are few positive models for behavior for children. Media portrays a world that is scary and difficult. Many children witness violence in their neighborhoods and in their schools. At the same time, the workforce is spending more and more time working, in order to afford the same standard of living. Parents are looking for answers to simple problems as well as complex ones. "How much TV is too much TV?" "How can I make my child do homework without a fight?" "How do I keep my child safe while I am at work?" Answers can be found, PAXIS can help.


Communities across America have been held hostage by rising rates of youth violence, vandalism and substance abuse. People want to be able to take a walk after dark or send their child to the store without fearing for their lives.

There is solid evidence that concerted action within a community can significantly decrease all of those statistics, increase the sense of safety, and enhance community involvement and pride. At PAXIS, we are committed to developing solutions to difficult community problems, and to providing information, materials and training to bring more peace to our communities.


Between 1993 and 1999 over 800 workplace homicides per year were recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

A study, which focuses on findings from the 1994 and 1997 National Household Survey of Drug Abuse reported that --70% of illicit drug users, age 18-49, were employed full-time. 6.3 million of full-time workers were illicit drug users. 1.6 million of these full-time workers were both illicit drug and heavy alcohol users in the past.

The health-care industry reports that some organizations or businesses have 50% of their employees on medication for the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression.

Assaults, threats and sabotage by employees have become daily facts of life in many places of work.

With statistics like these it is no wonder why businesses may struggle with productivity. When people are dealing with drug use, mental health issues, or fear for personal safety they are less inclined to focus on their career.



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