Be in the here and now. Most of us tend to live in the past , present problems or future. It’s really important to become aware of your thoughts and observe them for what they are. It’s not easy but we can learn how to. Be mindful, accept them and stop resisting them. When we learn to observe them from a distance, we learn to detach. We can get back to focusing on the here and now, the present- what we are doing.
As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Roula Selinas.
Roula Selinas is an author, inspirational speaker and mentor. Roula’s tenacity is evident in the huge adversity she has faced with cancer, setbacks, and complications, both physical and emotional challenges. In 2007 Roula’s life was turned upside down being diagnosed with leukaemia and then a secondary cancer from the treatment. What could have easily broken her made her stronger. Having triumphed in the face of adversities Roula speaks on empowerment to help others achieve their goals.
She shares resilience techniques to inspire and empower you to overcome self limiting beliefs , challenges and life’s hardest hits and transform your life. Roula has spoken at Herstory Global Women’s Empowerment conference in Sydney, the Ignite International stage, radio, libraries and other platforms. She was a finalist in Queensland’s prestigious Arch Williams, Brisbane speaking competition in 2017 and 2018.
Roula is the administrator for Australia in one of the largest global writer’s forums Motivational Strips and was awarded the Australian writer and poet for literary excellence by Motivational Strips and India Governments premium literary institution of ‘Gujarat Sahitya Academy’ (Under State Government of Gujarat) during India’s 74th Independence Day. The honour was conferred on Roula for her literary excellence and contribution to world poetry. Roula has an administration, bookkeeping and customer service background. Retail and small office management experience. Life skills counselling HH Dip (L.S.C.) Certificates in Business, Property and Administration.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Sydney, we lived in Dulwich Hill in my Uncle’s house with their family. Then we moved when I was almost two years old to Wagga Wagga, a little country town where they ran a fish and chips shop with their friends. They saw opportunity and moved to Haberfield when I was three; this is where I remember spending my childhood years. My parents ran a ‘milk bar’ called the ‘HMD Milk Bar’ short for Home Made Delicatessens seven days a week. We lived on the premises; it had all the basic necessities and a decent sized yard to play in. It was a popular shop in a strip of businesses in a nice neighborhood.
I had two brothers, John was four years older than me and Tony was seven years younger. I was a bit of a tomboy as well as a girly girl. We’d play cowboys and Indians, army games, touch football and soccer. I would play with my brothers and neighbours. I was quite good at soccer and played in school my teacher wanted me to play after school in the team but my Dad wouldn’t have a bar of it. ‘That’s a boys sport’. I would watch my brother train in karate at the hall in the back of our house, mesmerised. I wanted to do karate, but again I got ‘that’s not for girls’. Oh how things have changed his granddaughter plays touch football now and he couldn’t be prouder. There were parks close by where we would spend hours playing and hanging upside down on the monkey bars or swirling round and round on the witch’s hat. I was very active and would spent hours outdoors riding my bike, and later in my teens roller skating or skateboarding.
I spent my quiet time devouring books and would get lost in the world of fantasy. My favourite author was Enid Blyton at that time and the library was right at the back of our house, I would visit it often. I loved watching all the popular shows Jeanie, Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman and would make believe I had their powers. Because my parents were always busy working we learnt how to entertain ourselves.
I went to Greek school till the end of primary and learnt how to read and write Greek. I had a lot of relatives and family friends and I was close with my cousins. We had lots of outings and big get-togethers. My parents were very strict more so because I was a girl as my brothers had a lot more freedom than I ever did. In those days it was very different.
I went to Haberfield Demonstration School, starting school not being able to speak English very well, because Mum insisted on talking to us in Greek. I had to attend special English classes despite this setback I finished in the top ten as the seventh smartest in school and went on to Fort Street a selective high school in Petersham. It was a friendly neighbourhood with many customers that lived in and around the area including local ministers, mayors, senators and police all befriending my family and looking out for each other; they were very helpful and protective towards my family. In those days you were allowed to have guns to protect your business. The area was filled with many Italians. It was a very popular shop with schools close by and became the local hangout for kids and teens after school especially when they installed pinball machines and space invaders games. I would play pinball and space invaders for hours and even got to challenge some older customers.
It was a happy carefree time in my life where things were simple, I remember it fondly. We moved to Brighton Le Sands near the beach when I was almost 13 and I changed school and made new friends. Although my parents were very busy trying to provide for us, I felt loved and safe.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
After I got cancer I wanted to write a book to help people overcome crisis, and their darkest days to have hope that things do get better if we are committed and determined. We can thrive again. Stronger, You Can Overcome and Bounce Back from Adversity is a 7 step guide to heal from within was published in 2015. I became a speaker and since then my mission is to help others, inspire and empower them to have self-belief and learn tools to reach their goals. We can overcome life’s hardest hits and our biggest challenges. I am living proof of this.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My parents are my rocks they were there for me during my hardest times. I read a lot of books and got inspiration from many authors. Leon Nacson from Balboa Press was very helpful in publishing my first book. Rostrum GC Club 27 was very encouraging and offered a lot of support when I started public speaking and so did Sam Cawthorn from Speakers Institute.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I never had a book launch I was going through a very traumatic time as I had separated from my husband and family unit break down, I moved house three times and was dealing with some setbacks. It would of been better to have a book launch to promote the book but I had too many things going on.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Find what you love to do and don’t be afraid to take action. It’s really important that you love what you do because there will be many obstacles along the way.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There are so many books that made an impact on me. Anthony Robbins ‘Awaken the Power Within’. I attended his seminars and he is such a great influencer and a lot of the things he teaches resonated with me. Jim Rohn, Napoleon Hill, Florence Scovel Shinn, made a big impact on me and resonated with me. I have read their books over and over. Every time I read it I understood it better, or it just reminded me.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
‘Stand Guard at the Door of Your Mind’ Jim Rohn. It’s really important what you let into your mental computer as this affects the way you feel, which determines your outcomes. I’ve been through very dark days in my life, losing my friend, in school my brother and also when I was going through cancer twice and the separation from my partner of 28years and the family unit after cancer. This resonates with me because we can manage what we let into our mental computer. We can become aware of things so when we recognise when we are having negative thoughts we can slowly change them back to better feeling thoughts. We are human and we have a range of emotions, awareness is key to changing what we let into our mind and what we focus on.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I have finished a children’s book now I’m looking for a publisher. It’s a fiction/fantasy adventure for childrenaged5–9 years old to spark their imagination it’s filled with life skills and resilience skills. Our young ones need to learn these skills as young as possible because life is not easy there are many problems, obstacles and challenges to overcome in life some very severe and devastating. It will help them cope with life, get through challenges and have self-belief. Learn to visualise and have faith they can achieve things.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
It’s so important to create good habits as small habits daily create big changes in our life. If they are good habits it will lead to success and wellbeing. After cancer, I suffered from chronic fatigue and I had to build myself up physically and mentally. Although I was always fit and strong, I was so weak from the treatment. So we start small and build it up, creating good habits like eating well and making time to exercise, being mindful of our patterns will help us get to the place we want to be and have us feeling the best we can.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
They have played a huge part. I am a very disciplined and motivated person. I like to have goals and work out ways to achieve them. I have tasks I want to achieve each day and try to do that, if not there is always tomorrow. I try and be mindful of my habits because I know what I do today, I will see or reap tomorrow.
I have always looked after my fitness and health and what I ate so this is a priority for me from way before I got cancer.
I don’t like the way I feel if I am sluggish or tired or low on energy. So I try and incorporate things into my life that will make me function at optimum level. I have had so many drugs pumped into my body from the treatment during cancer and I have had to deal with chronic fatigue, being weak, weight loss and so many issues. So for me I am mindful of having good habits. I do have cheat days and I allow myself to eat whatever I want and I don’t exercise everyday. I am mindful of having good habits and patterns so I can be the best version of me, feel happier and healthier. I have learnt to listen and read my body and if I am tired I need to slow down.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
- Find out what you want.
- Work out what you will have to do to get to the place you want or achieve your goal.
- Set a plan of action and start small and build on it. It’s really important to start and not continue to procrastinate. Set a date to start and stick to it.
- Find out the why. Why is it that you want to achieve the goal? It’s really important to have a why. What will it do for you, how will it make you feel? How will you feel if you don’t achieve it?
- Once you work out your why and how important it is to you, commit to making a decision.
- Starting is the hardest part, once the habit is formed it gets easier. Then when you see progress it gets easier it becomes part of your life.
- How to stop bad habits, is when you recognise you feel bad doing what you do, you don’t enjoy it anymore it’s time to stop.
- It takes discipline to stop a bad habit, if it goes against what you’re trying to achieve for eg. if you keep on eating junk food or fast food, but you want to lose weight, it’s counteracting what you’re trying to achieve. So find out your why. Why is it that you want to achieve it? That’s a powerful motivator to stop the bad habit that is stopping you from achieving what you want.
Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.
- Take time to rest or sit in a quiet spot for 15 minutes or more, during a lunch break or during the day, depending on your schedule. Sit in nature, meditate, have a lie-down. Your important to look after you, don’t ever feel guilty about it. If you don’t look after you who will? After cancer, this was an important lesson I learnt and I look after me because I am a better person for it.
- Exercise or do something active — I find I cope better with things when I exercise. Doing yoga, going to the gym or walking helps my mental and emotional state and I feel better for it and I find I am in a much better mood. Also I am not as anxious or stressed, so for me exercising helps me mentally as much as physically and emotionally. So whether it’s zumba, kayaking, getting on your bike or walking do what you enjoy.
- Eat well, eating well helps feed our cells and gives them the nutrients they need to perform at optimum level. It helps us focus and function more effectively and helps improve our stamina so we have more energy and don’t feel sluggish or sleepy.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Start small. As I mentioned I was incredibly weak and had lost so much weight and I also had chronic fatigue for years. Start making small changes to incorporate into your lifestyle and build from there.
It really is important to start small because we don’t want to turn ourselves off. When we start small a few times a week we will start to feel better and it will start to become a habit. It takes 21 days to build a habit and you will notice a difference, then it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.
- Exercise as often as you can keep active, it raises dopamine levels which makes us feel happier, and cope better with stress and anxiety. It will help you have more energy and stamina to perform better.
- Eat a balanced diet, it’s so important our diet is filled with wholesome food at least 70% to feed our cells so we can have more mental and physical energy and work to our optimum level. You will find a huge difference in your energy levels and you will feel better. I don’t like to feel sluggish or tired. After having chronic fatigue it’s really important for me to feel good, have more energy and be able to focus better.
- Practice being in the moment, we get so caught up with things we have to do, our problems or focusing on the past or future. Try to bring your awareness to the here and now. It also helps us focus on what we are doing in the present moment and perform better.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.
- Let things go — don’t sweat the small stuff it’s not worth it. I have learnt not to waste my time on trivial petty things and waste my energy on them
- Be in the here and now. Most of us tend to live in the past , present problems or future. It’s really important to become aware of your thoughts and observe them for what they are. It’s not easy but we can learn how to. Be mindful, accept them and stop resisting them. When we learn to observe them from a distance, we learn to detach. We can get back to focusing on the here and now, the present- what we are doing.
- I find I can concentrate longer and better when I eat well, I feel clearer and I am more productive.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Try to be mindful and aware of what you are thinking. We have so many thoughts during the day, many of them are negative. The more aware we become the quicker we can learn to change them or just observe them and then move on.
Awareness is really important to make changes in our lives and help develop more positive habits.
Resisting things doesn’t make things go away. Hiding our pain with alcohol or drugs makes the pain go away for a bit, but it’s still there. You may want to try a meditation technique to observe your negative or painful thoughts and acknowledge them and send them on their way, you are not your thoughts. That is what happened in the past, let them go. You may want to write things down in answer to your thoughts and let that go out into the Universe. When we deal with things from within we heal and grow and evolve.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry, I try to have something to eat before I go shopping and plan what I am going to be cooking that week.
As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
I go with the flow a lot more these days. It really is about trusting your intuition and your gut instinct and just following that. I did not plan to be an author, speaker or to be studying a Diploma in counselling right now, I am just going with the flow and this is where life is taking me. So listen to yourself and your intuition and go with the flow of life, even if it’s scary or you don’t think h you can do it.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
It’s really important to teach our children life skills and resilience skills. I had to learn all these things myself through years of study and also through life experience. It will help decrease suicide, help with mental health and give them the tools they need to cope with life, because life is not fair and it’s not easy. There are many obstacles and challenges to reach what we want in life.
My resilience program would be in schools as part of the curriculum and my books would also be available in primary and high schools, universities as part of the curriculum across Australia. To help arm children and teens with life skills and resilience skills to be able deal with life better. Our children are our future these skills need to be taught as young as possible because life is not fair, or easy, it’s full of challenges and obstacles. Achieving our dreams and goals also has many obstacles and challenges to overcome.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Either Anthony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey. Both have been through a lot of adversity and have given back so much and helped people. They are so inspiring and have achieved so much.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
and they can subscribe to my website www.roulaselinas.com and YouTube channel under Roula salinas
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.