Dream. Hope is the bedrock of happiness. When we wake up looking forward to the day, next week, next year and our life to come, we experience joy. When a person is focused on fear, they don’t have time to dream. In fact, there are people who don’t even allow themselves to dream for fear they won’t achieve them. This is a shame. Our dreams should be expressed from the top of every mountain. It is why we are alive! We want to dream and chase dreams and feel purpose. So dream. Makes plans. Dream more. Imagine the life of your dreams and tell everyone, no matter how small or big they are. Your optimism will have a ripple effect on those around you and you will spread happiness and joy through your dreams alone. Happy Dreaming 🙂
It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Shutty.
Elizabeth Shutty is the co-founder of Deprogram Your Mind, an alternative media company that is waking up the world one mind at a time. Legacy media is in the business of selling fear; Deprogram Your Mind is in the business of empowerment. Money, Health, Culture and Spirituality. No corporate owners. No bullshit lies. We are based in Mexico City.
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 Kansas City and grew up in a traditional Midwest family. My mom stayed home to raise the kids and my dad owned an insurance company. We had family dinner at 6pm and went to church every Sunday. My days were riding bikes, swimming in ponds, summer camp, school plays and everything in between. Things pivoted when I studied abroad in Spain my junior year of college. That experience led me to teaching English in Mexico and later moving to Buenos Aires. I backpacked South America for a year and gained perspective, confidence and a deep sense of gratitude.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
By the time I moved to New York City, I had never worked in an office. A temp agency placed me in customer service at a large internet company and I was thrilled. I had seen the world but never the inside of a corporation. After a couple years, I was promoted to manage a portfolio of financial services brands. Some of my advertising partners made over 100k dollars a month and I was shocked to meet one in person and learn he had no employees, no office and no overhead. This was the day I learned about entrepreneurship. That partner became a friend and I asked for a job to learn his business from the inside. Together, we increased revenue and he sold the site for millions to a large media company. I give him credit for inspiring my career. He taught me that when you combine natural talent with hard skills, you are unstoppable.
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?
If my parents hadn’t paid for my college, I wouldn’t have been able to travel after graduating college. Traveling was my excuse to figure out who I was. Every young person deserves the time and space to learn who they are outside the institutions of family and school. Not only did my parents pay for my education, but they showed me how to trust someone you love:
Volunteering in Mexico? Sounds great, honey!
Backpacking alone for a year in South America? Have fun, sweetie!
Waitressing in New York City? We are so proud of you!
Some parents pressure their kids to become doctors, lawyers and corporate cogs, especially if they helped pay for college. I am eternally grateful my parents allowed me the freedom to pave my own way in life.
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?
When the publication I worked for was acquired by another company, I had strong opinions about their levels of competence. In my first meeting with the CEO, I blurted out my doubts. Whoops. I later learned she had planned to promote me but promptly fired me instead. I have no regrets because that exact same day, I landed my first two clients and within a month I was running a niche financial services affiliate marketing agency. Everything happens for a reason.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Your question brings me to my business today. For years I brokered advertising deals between financial service brands and financial education websites. Readers think they are getting honest education when it’s usually sponsored content from a financial service company. This is tragic when you consider that Americans don’t learn personal finance or how to invest in school. They “learn” from the institutions that see them as dollar signs.
When 2020 hit, I didn’t know who to trust. Legacy media is owned and operated by their advertisers and Big Pharma happens to be their top client. We were told we are helpless and could die at any moment. How is that helpful? They should have exhausted their resources to educate Americans on the importance of exercise, nutritious food, sunshine and healthy ways to alleviate stress. But similar to financial education websites, being honest isn’t lucrative.
My co-founder and I founded Deprogram Your Mind to capture the growing number of people who have turned their backs on mainstream media. Our goal is to empower audiences with a variety of perspectives on Money, Health, Culture and Spirituality. We’ll never tell you how to think. Instead, we provide you with multiple points of view and trust that you’ll make the best decision for you.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Social. Every client in my marketing agency came via word of mouth. My social nature has always been an asset. Today, I run a network of independent journalists and alternative media content producers. We meet every Thursday to share business strategies, tips to grow our audiences, ways to monetize content and so much more. I am a true believer that a rising tide lifts all boats.
- Passionate. Waking up excited to work is the key to success. I know it’s cliché, but facts are facts 🙂
- Disciplined. Success doesn’t happen overnight and many entrepreneurs will tell you it comes so slowly that they didn’t even notice when they’d made it. Be intentional, set goals and measure progress on a constant basis.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
I think some people are born with a default state of joy and I happen to be one of these people. Of course I get sad and angry, but my default is joy. Humans are energy at our core. When you drill down into the tiniest atom that comprises the tiniest human cell, there is nothing but energy. Energy is always in motion and bouncing off other energy. In the book, Power vs. Force, Dr. Hawkins proves that the energetic frequency of one person has a direct impact on the energetic frequency of another. For as long as I can remember, people have subconsciously used me to increase their own energetic frequencies. They may feel looming dark energy and get the urge to call me or pop over to say hello. Our energies interact and they will hang up or leave my house feeling better. It sounds strange but everyone has a spiritual role to play in the universe and this is mine.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?
Sure. Americans are given a script for how to live and we call it The American Dream. Go to prom, take on debt to go to college, get an internship, land a job, climb the corporate ladder, get married, take on debt to buy a house, have kids, use credit cards to go on vacation, invest in retirement accounts, keep climbing the corporate ladder, retire, travel and then die. I founded Deprogram Your Mind because cultural programming such as The American Dream doesn’t nurture our natural creative spirits. It doesn’t encourage individuality and zig-zagged life journeys. Instead, we are given a literal formula to follow. Millions of Americans live in accordance with The American Dream instead of aligning with their souls and expressing its authentic desires. For that reason, I’m not surprised America ranks #19 on the chart of happiness. When the soul is stifled, the human won’t feel peace.
What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
- Someone else can make you happy. Hollywood perpetuates the idea that romance makes you whole. No one is responsible for your happiness but you. My parents have been married 40 years and it works because they are happy and fulfilled as individuals first. Joining forces just makes life that much sweeter 🙂
- Happiness is forever. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, just like pain and sorrow. It is silly to assume that because you are happy today, you will be happy forever. I recommend readers exercise their happiness memory muscle. For example, I live in a city with the most beautiful trees. I often stop and stare in awe at these trees, feeling a moment of happiness and sealing it with a smile. For you, happiness could be a cup of coffee on a rainy day. The exercise is to feel, acknowledge and store the happy moment while you’re in it. Then, when life takes a wrong turn, your happiness memory muscle will be strong so you can still feel happy moments and resist the all-consuming doom and gloom.
- Happiness equals reality minus expectations. I stole this from Mo Gawdat, the author of Solving for Happy. Mo’s son died tragically and when he was in extreme pain, Mo studied the energy of his emotions. He concluded that happiness hinges on the presence of expectations. If we all lived alone in the woods, we would find joy in the river and happiness in the clouds. Modern semantics stresses the importance of finding “happiness” but doesn’t actually define it. So we use movies and songs and books to set our expectations for what happiness should feel like. Many of us had grand plans for 2020. We were given a choice to release all expectations and live in reality, finding happiness where we are — or succumbing to sadness because our expectations were not realized.
In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
People make mistakes when seeking happiness because they consult their heads and not their hearts. For example, a friend of mine made several million dollars in crypto and was surprised that he felt nothing. He was the type who chased money for a living and could have sworn this kind of money would have made him happy. Classic, right?
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)
Absolutely and apologies if some of these sound generic, but the truth sometimes needs to be said a thousand times to fall one just one set of ears.
- Exercise. Our culture embraces therapy to work out our thoughts and emotions. That said, Mother Earth gave us a physical body to serve as the ultimate, free therapist. When we experience anxiety, our nervous system jumps in action to make us sweat and cause our heart to race. Many people respond to these sensations with fear. But, if they exercise, they will experience the same sensations and eventually stop associating them with fear. The brain is capable of re-wiring and learning anything, but we can’t forget how intrinsically connected the brain is to our body. Daily exercise is essential to moving around emotions, processing thoughts and projecting happier thoughts.
- Nutrition. What we put into our bodies has a dramatic impact on how we perceive reality. Processed food is not designed to nourish you, it is designed to deliver profits. Our government and health agencies have incomprehensibly failed at educating Americans on basic nutrition. Do you know which essential minerals and vitamins your body requires? Do you know in which foods those essential minerals and vitamins can be found? Every human on Earth should be formally given this information. If corporations can teach us how to use an iPhone, public institutions can teach us nutrition. Your body is the vessel in which you experience life. It is imperative you protect and care for it in order to live on a higher vibration.
- Authentic relationships. To live your happiest life, nurture your authentic relationships. We all have people in our life that don’t support us or share our values. That is fine. However, to experience true joy, you should make it a priority to find people with whom you have a genuine bond. Forget age, race, location and background. What matters is how they make you feel. You should feel comfortable in your skin, peace in your heart and understood as a person. With them you are authentic. Even if you only have one authentic relationship in your life, that is one more than most. Consider yourself lucky and nurture that relationship with all your heart.
- Access to your heart wisdom. Ancient civilizations considered the heart the most intelligent organ in the human body. Today we idolize the brain but could the ancient Chinese and Greeks had been on to something? In my opinion, true joy and happiness can only come from our heart. The problem is we have forgotten how to hear it. When it comes to love, we show signs of heart wisdom, but when it comes to daily life, we seem to be lost. According to HeartMath, feelings of frustration, anxiety or sadness actually distort the neural messages going from the heart to the brain. Whether to quit our job or not, for example, is a mystery because the stress from the job is restricting your brain from hearing the wisdom in your heart. This is what I mean by dark energy and fear perpetuates dark energy and fear, including within our own bodies. There are techniques to calm neural messages from the heart to the brain and I recommend checking out HeartMath’s YouTube channel to learn more.
- Dream. Hope is the bedrock of happiness. When we wake up looking forward to the day, next week, next year and our life to come, we experience joy. When a person is focused on fear, they don’t have time to dream. In fact, there are people who don’t even allow themselves to dream for fear they won’t achieve them. This is a shame. Our dreams should be expressed from the top of every mountain. It is why we are alive! We want to dream and chase dreams and feel purpose. So dream. Makes plans. Dream more. Imagine the life of your dreams and tell everyone, no matter how small or big they are. Your optimism will have a ripple effect on those around you and you will spread happiness and joy through your dreams alone. Happy Dreaming 🙂
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
Feeling down and being clinically depressed are two different things, so I will answer how to help someone who is feeling down: Listen to them. Whether you go to their house or call them, give them your ear however you can. Humans need validation. They might not know why they are feeling down but being given the space to feel down and express it to another human being validates their experience. If things are really bad, consider a “care package” of books, podcasts and movies that highlight a person who climbed out of a hole. The Seat of the Soul is a great book, The Dawn Wall is a great movie and Oprah’s interviews on YouTube with Eckart Tolle are amazing.
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.
My movement has already started and it is a belief in the individual. Collectivism does not and has not (ever) encouraged creativity and fostered the unique differences that make each of us special. Today’s culture is pushing collectivism because it makes life easy. If we follow The American Dream and take out mortgages and be cogs in a corporate machine — life is good, right? The answer depends on how honest we want to be with ourselves. Our movement encourages creativity, self-exploration, debate, independent thought, discovery and critical thinking. We reject the notion of being told how to think and how to live in order to make the collective happy. Join our movement if you feel the same way. Not everyone does.
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 🙂
I live in Mexico City so a lunch may be tough (!), but I’d love to speak with anyone who sees the shift happening in America the way we do. Someone who believes in decentralized flows of information and understands the value in debate for human evolution. Life and humans have mixed with technology and made the world very complicated. The gut reaction for those in power is to consolidate and organize centralized systems of government, money and information. I understand this response but disagree. I envision a future that empowers the individual and decentralized systems of government, money and information. So with that, I would love to speak with an investor who is interested in learning more.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!