“Like anything we want to rely on”, Kris Whitehead of New England Custom Remodeling and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Like anything we want to rely on, we have to be willing to practice until it becomes an automatic response. It’s certainly easier to practice when we aren’t stressed so we can graduate to practicing the same strategies when we are. To me, the bottom line is that I may not be able to always […]

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Like anything we want to rely on, we have to be willing to practice until it becomes an automatic response. It’s certainly easier to practice when we aren’t stressed so we can graduate to practicing the same strategies when we are. To me, the bottom line is that I may not be able to always control what’s happening, yet I can ALWAYS control how I perceive it. I also believe it’s why few people win at their goals, no matter what comes against them, and so many never make it when things start to get tough.

As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.

What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?

One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness ” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kris Whitehead.

Kris Whitehead: Creator of Activating My Purpose, CEO of New England Custom Remodeling, and Founder of ICONIC Alliance. Kris’ mission in life is to empower tomorrow’s leaders TODAY with leadership mindset, business fundamentals, and cutting-edge marketing. Kris has helped thousands of clients find their purpose and live it fully in every aspect of their lives. Kris is a contributor to Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications sharing “HOW TO WIN, In the Trenches.” He is also a loving husband and father to 3 young adults who are making an impact on the world themselves

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?

At the age of 24, I was working for a corporation about 100 hours per week. I was invited to go see a motivational speaker along with upper management, and half way through the program I looked down the row and the District Manager and I were the only ones awake. The seven other managers were completely zonked out. I was surprised because I felt this gentleman was speaking directly to me, and I couldn’t fathom why they couldn’t stay awake.

After the event, I asked the DM what the ascension path was in the company, as well as the potential pay structure.

Although I was impressed by the strong 6 figure income potential, I was taken aback when he told me he worked 6 to 7 days per week for it. I realized immediately that he worked as much as I did, albeit for more pay.

From what the speaker had just shared and the vision it created for me, I could not justify giving that much time to a company for the remainder of my working career. The money wasn’t worth it and working with others who weren’t even motivated enough to stay awake when someone was pouring into us all was extremely disturbing.

I literally began thumbing through the yellow pages, calling all real estate companies I could find to begin a lawn mowing business. By some miracle, a broker answered the phone and said he didn’t need any lawns mowed, but he did need a countertop installed. This began my career in remodeling homes.

That was 23 years ago and we run a very successful design/build company in New Hampshire.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In 2009, I began to realize that I was called to do more than just own a remodeling company. It seemed I invested as much time in helping our employees become “better.” Not just at their jobs, rather holistically. We focused on faith, family, fitness, and finances.

I saw that I had the potential to help many more people than in our small company alone. I began to dream of standing on stages, motivating others as I had been so many years before, and quite honestly, I was terrified as well as compelled to find out how it might be accomplished.

This led me to learning about this new thing called “social media” and I began networking with others from around the world, learning common struggles as well as solutions to them. I simply began sharing these messages of hope online, with no regard for renumeration, and low and behold, I now speak on stages and coach high performance clients who, in turn, take the information and share it with their communities. I am beyond blessed to have found a way to spread the message of living in abundance in all aspects of life, as well as encouraging others to take the leap of faith to truly live out their major life purpose here on earth.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“If you help enough people get what they want, you get what you want.” -Zig Ziglar.

This is my favorite quote because I have always naturally been a giver. What I had to learn to overcome was the feeling of martyrdom from NOT receiving what I expected in return. Even though I seemed to have a strong “go-giver” muscle, I realized that my expectations led me to taking calculated risks with a return in mind, even though I fooled myself into thinking I was being magnanimous, when actually I was only manipulating others in the process.

Once I began to really dive deep into who I wanted to be, what I wanted, and trusting that I would always be provided for if I truly helped others with no expectations, the game began to change for me. It began with REAL friendships, developed into respect in business, and has finalized in having a network around me that wants to see me win as much as I help them win.

It was difficult and painful to learn that I was the cause of my own suffering, even more difficult to kill my ego, and boy has it been worth every second of the discovery process.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?

Gosh, I read at least 3 books per month, so that’s a tough one. The one that comes to mind right now is #75hard by Andy Frisella. It’s a blend of his life story and the dividing line between those who do, and those who do not. I like the book because it showed me that knowing what I want is key. Doing the work is how I get there, and never quitting is how I KNOW I will eventually receive my goals.

It is a mental toughness book. It allows for zero excuses and allowed me to ask some tough questions like, “Am I doing everything I can do to assure my success, or am I making excuses?” I highly recommend anyone read it.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am! I am an Executive Coach for Apex Entourage, a high-level program with 6–10 figure earners in it. We currently have just under 100 members and it’s my job to help each of them find harmony with their family, fitness, faith, and finances. We teach the nuances of social media marketing, how to become a true influencer in your marketplace, and how to manage a lifestyle that is in harmony with doing so many things on a massive scale.

It’s been amazing to work with clients who are struggling and see them level up and not only crush the business goals they have, and truly represent what winning looks like at all times!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My first mentor, Lonnie Robinson. I met him online and we began a dialogue. He didn’t rush me or brush me off when I was inquisitive about coaching. Instead, he took time to get to know me, what I wanted, and even helped me in a classic “go-giver” fashion.

As I implemented his training, we eventually became business partners. I owe a debt to him that money cannot repay because he showed up at a time I was really confused and scared about reinventing myself. We’ve gone on and sold millions online together, but our mentor/mentee relationship morphed into a respect for each other as individuals. It has helped me be a better husband, father, friend, and boss to those in my circles. It’s where I learned that Alignment always beats assignment, meaning who I am surrounded by influences my outcome way more than what I choose to do for a profession.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?

To me, gratitude is a way of life. It’s not something I do, nor is it something I possess. I’ve found it to be with me as long as I continue to evolve my perceptions toward my definite major purpose.

What I mean by that is I had to keep the MAJOR vison of my life in mind, regardless of any temporary setbacks. When I did define that purpose, I found it not to really be about me so much. No longer was it about my material possessions or even about my “wants” at all. I began to see it was truly about focusing on making our world a better place.

I began to learn that in order to do so, it has to begin and end with me. My thoughts that eventually become my actions.

If I can take the time to make sure that I am doing all I can to remain in integrity to my core values, I can also remain grateful for just being able to have the presence of mind to do so. I realize that I can change the world by changing the only thing I actually control, my mind, and how I perceive any situation that comes my way.

By changing my perception that the Universe is conspiring FOR me, and things are not happening TO me, I am able to remain grateful no matter the circumstance…because in due time, I will understand WHY this situation came to pass.

Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?

I believe that too many people feel their way into actions, instead of acting their way into feelings. Somehow, when our emotions tend to rule our beliefs, we begin to find information to justify how we feel. We lose our critical thinking capabilities.

As we justify our emotions, we have already determined an outcome, even though we pretend to ourselves that we aren’t in control of it.

I believe that people don’t feel gratitude because they haven’t taken time to know what they truly want. When you don’t know what you really want, you’re not willing to do things that are perceived as hurtful, because only a fool would intentionally feel pain without a purpose behind it. The pain gets people to quit, and the mind rationalizes that they didn’t deserve it, won’t ever have it, etc.

It can be awfully hard to practice gratitude from this reference point because it seems like it’s putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. “Sure, I can pretend everything is okay, but it really isn’t,” kind of scenario. From that rationale, I think people pride themselves as being realists as a method of relieving the pain of a world they have no control over.

Gratitude requires discipline, and like a garden, its fruit takes time to be realized. That can be a hard pill to swallow when someone is feeling pain in the moment.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?

I believe gratitude is the precursor to joy. There is a big difference between happiness and joy too. Happiness is usually triggered by external circumstances, whereas joy is an internal experience. External things can be pretty hard to control, so happiness is fleeting. Internal things, like my thoughts and my perception of my thoughts, can be controlled through practice. It means that NO MATTER the circumstance, I can have joy when I focus on gratitude.

Like anything we want to rely on, we have to be willing to practice until it becomes an automatic response. It’s certainly easier to practice when we aren’t stressed so we can graduate to practicing the same strategies when we are. To me, the bottom line is that I may not be able to always control what’s happening, yet I can ALWAYS control how I perceive it. I also believe it’s why few people win at their goals, no matter what comes against them, and so many never make it when things start to get tough.

Most importantly, I believe that gratitude can lead you to your major life purpose while you’re here on earth. I truly believe that most people have no idea what they really want in life. Don’t believe me, just go ask your spouse what they want to eat for dinner tonight. You’re more likely to get what they don’t want, rather than what they want. It isn’t because they’re being obstinate either. Most of us have been programmed from a very young age that we can’t have or don’t deserve what we want. We were told to be practical, or we’re not good enough, or some other malarkey because our guardians were told the same from their parents.

We were told to follow the rules and it’ll all work out. So, over time, we lost sight of what we want and began focusing on what other’s expect. Although I get it, it never settled with me. I once thought I was depressed in my 20’s only to learn that I was actually bored. I was bored because I was trying to be something other than me!

Maybe you have felt the same…I’m here to suggest that somehow, someway, when you truly begin to focus on what you’re grateful for, that mirror of reciprocity begins to shine back at you. Since you FIRST defined that gratitude, what shines back is a perfect reflection of your intentions and as you feed it, it will continue to grow. You may even surprise yourself and become content with knowing why you’re here among 8 billion people and what makes you a meaningful specific in this world.

Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?

There are so many wise sayings about living in the moment and although we all understand the concept, I believe very few people actually live in the moment consistently. Practicing gratitude has a way of forcing us to focus on what’s truly important. It has a way of requiring us to live, feel, and decide to make THIS moment one we’re consciously shaping for our own good. To me, this just comes down to doing the work of personal development. It’s really okay to practice gratitude by reframing the benefits of a situation (positive or negative) even if no tangible benefit is seen or even felt while you’re practicing it.

The habit of practicing gratitude consistently will continue to have you slow down, check in with how you feel, and empower you to CHOOSE how you will make THIS MOMENT one for your good. If you string enough of those moments together, you’ll have a pretty awesome life.

I wish I would have learned a long time ago about acting my way into a feeling. As I’ve gone through a lifelong pursuit of personal development, I have become acutely aware that most people feel things and then base their actions on their feelings. I witness how often it leads to false assumptions and undesirable results. As I began to work on creating predictable results in my personal life and business life, I saw how vital it was to have and maintain my end goal in mind, and make as many of my actions congruent with the result I want.

The only way I have been able to do it is by practicing gratitude. Instead of allowing negative experiences to shape how I act, I act like the person who’s already living with the results I desire. It’s as simple as responding to situations instead of reacting. Practicing gratitude allows me to FEEL those results even when the reality I’m dealing with presently isn’t aligned with them. That quick, now autonomous response of gratitude, shifts me from FEELING the pain so acutely and instead observe it for what it is…just a temporary impediment to the path of joy and harmony I am intentionally creating.

Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?

1.) Act your way into feeling — The simplest story I can share is the time I was 9 years old. I had poison ivy on my arm pretty badly. I was staying at a buddy’s house and I was having trouble sleeping because I wanted to scratch it so badly.

He told me to rub it instead of scratch it.

Being 9, I thought it made sense, so I rubbed it until I feel asleep. The next morning, it was inflamed beyond words. See, I felt the itch and I justified the scratch. Gratitude works in the opposite way. When I know what I really want, (the itch to stop) I’m willing to pass on the temptation to itch it, (bad attitude that doesn’t serve) to get the goal I want to achieve.

2.) Practicing Gratitude leads to Joy — So many times in my life, just when I thought there was no hope for rescue, an opportunity “miraculously” appeared. At first, I gave it to chance, but over time, I began to realize a pattern. Every time I had no hope left in myself or anyone else, I went to my higher power. It was all I had left to NOT end it all or fall into the dregs of living a life devoid of my goals and dreams.

I began to see how once my hope was restored in giving the problem away to my understanding of God, I felt peace. I became grateful…and then, as if by magic, opportunity always followed. It was a hard lesson to learn because it required faith in something my mind couldn’t understand. Now, whenever I am down, I begin with the end in mind, and immediately look for the equivalent benefit to the pain. It seems that attitude of gratitude is THE key to growing through whatever situation I’m faced with.

3.) Living in the Moment — I was forced to live in the moment when I found myself without work and unable to pay my bills about 10 years ago. I had nowhere to go, no one to listen to me, and I was forced to be still. I highly recommend hearing the call before you’re forced to learn. 😉

Anyway, I learned that my lack of abundance attitude, and victim mentality was the root of my misery. I realized that I wanted all of the glory without doing the hard work of covering my blind spots. I realized that I had to learn to trust others, and to do that I had to learn to trust myself first.

Now, I invest a lot of time in the moment. I try to make each moment count because I realize that my moments are finite, and stringing enough beautiful moments together is how I will have a life well lived.

4.) Gratitude Allows You to Dream Bigger — Once I began practicing gratitude as a default, I gave myself room to observe my emotions instead of reacting to everything. This gave me the time to ask myself, “what do I really want?”

As I got clearer on what I wanted and ultimately solidified it into a definite major purpose, I charted a course as best I could to get there. I also began trusting that whether I understood what was happening in the moment or not, that it was ultimately for my benefit. As the wins began to rack up, I was able to increase the frequency of my gratitude and ultimately look back and see that I am growing in the direction of my dreams.

Today, I understand that the only thing holding me back from anything I truly want in life is me. I am grateful because I know if I do the work, I can have what I want.

5.) Gratitude Leads You to Your Major Purpose in Life — To me, there isn’t a better feeling than knowing I am unique and have something to offer others in this lifetime. It makes me feel special. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel…well, grateful!

I was able to find my purpose by practicing gratitude. Like any muscle, the more I exercise it, the stronger it gets. It has lead to living a life where I can lay my head down each night and feel joy and contentment because I know that I have a reason to exist.

I want everyone to feel that way because I believe it’s true. Gratitude is truly that important to finding yours.

Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?

YES! Take a moment to humble yourself. Realize that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling. It’s your choice how long you continue to feel that way. At any moment, you can choose to find things that you are grateful for. I practice gratitude for 5 minutes per day, every morning, as a way to prime my mind to be receptive to the opportunities that are ever-present.

If you’re feeling stuck, admit it, and work on raising your vibrational frequency by focusing on what you love and are grateful for. It quite simply works if you work it.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?

Podcasts- Fearless Happyness with Max Nijst

RealAF- Andy Frisella

Rewire- Ryan Stewman

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I have, it’s called ICONIC ALLIANCE and APEX ENTOURAGE. We help people live the most elite version of themselves.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?


Iconic Alliance —

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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