Jacob Kearnes Of Greenif-i: “Connect with nature”

Of course, my first suggestion would be to connect with nature. Research shows that it can quite literally change your mood and reduce any negative emotions that you may have. This is especially helpful during current times. By spending the majority of our time indoors, we’re depriving ourselves of this essential connection that is vital […]

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Of course, my first suggestion would be to connect with nature. Research shows that it can quite literally change your mood and reduce any negative emotions that you may have. This is especially helpful during current times. By spending the majority of our time indoors, we’re depriving ourselves of this essential connection that is vital for our health and mental wellbeing. Despite what’s going on in the world, if you can prioritize getting outside every once in a while, you’ll feel much better for it.


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 Jacob Kearnes.

Jacob is a graduate of the University of Wollongong and founder/CEO of Greenif-i. Through starting his company, Jacob did extensive research into the science behind how spending time in nature can significantly improve our overall health and mental wellbeing. Greenif-i seeks to improve the lives of their customers by raising awareness for the importance of this essential connection with nature and helping them achieve some of the benefits from home through their plant subscription.


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?

Thanks for having me! I grew up in a small rural town in Australia and was an only child raised by my single mother. I had what I needed because my mum worked a lot of jobs but we didn’t come from much money. Growing up I was always interested in how I could make more money to buy the things I wanted. When I was a kid I used to buy things off eBay and try and sell them for a higher price, really just finding any way I could to make some extra cash. I even shaved my hair when I was about 10 in exchange for a big tub of lollipops. I then went on to sell raffle tickets in my neighborhood for it. I remember making a few hundred dollars off that which was a lot of money at that age.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Initially, I chose to pursue a career in business for money. I’ve always known I wanted to have a better life for myself and those around me. However, since starting out my motives have changed slightly. I now realize it’s more valuable to do good for the world and to be kind to others. I still want all the freedoms that money can provide, but it’s the change I can make with that money that motivates me now.

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?

The person who has supported me the most would definitely be my mum. She’s always the first person I go to if I ever need help or advice with anything. When I was still in school she made the decision to leave our small hometown and move to a coastal town near the city. This gave me a lot more opportunities for university and work experience. She was always supportive and encouraging when I was first starting out in business, which was very helpful.

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 wouldn’t call anything a mistake if it taught me a lesson, but the one thing that comes to mind is when I first started my career in business. I saw a lot of fake ‘gurus’ who made it seem easy and decided to spend most of my savings on starting my watch brand — Archer Benson. I definitely don’t regret starting it, as it taught me a lot about marketing. I do wish however, I spent a bit more time learning what makes a successful business and realizing that it’s not always as simple as setting up a website and running some Facebook ads.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The most exciting thing I’m working on right now would be my company — Greenif-i. We aim to create awareness of the importance of regularly connecting with nature and help our customers do this through an indoor plant subscription. Essentially what we’re trying to do is bring the Japanese art of forest bathing (Shinrin Yoku) into our customer’s homes. There has been extensive research into the amazing health benefits that spending time outdoors can provide, but it’s something most of us don’t do nearly as much as we should.

Research shows that spending time in nature can significantly improve our mood due to microbes in the soil (known as mycobacterium vaccae) that act as a natural anti-depressant. Being in a natural setting can also improve our creativity and problem-solving skills as well as decrease our cortisol (stress hormone) levels which reduces stress and anxiety.

Regularly immersing ourselves in nature can also significantly improve our immune functions as a result of a natural compound released naturally by trees known as Phytoncides. Exposure to this compound can increase our Natural Killers Cells that are responsible for fighting off cancer and infections by as much as 50%.

It really is a natural remedy for a lot of common problems so I definitely think we can help a lot of people by raising awareness for this and also helping our customers achieve some of the benefits at home with our plant subscription. We’ve also partnered with a company that will be planting a tree for every sale we make. Greenif-i is exciting for a lot of reasons as we get to help people live a happier and healthier life as well as reduce the impacts of global warming through planting trees!

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?

I think the most important trait I have is my curiosity. I want to understand the way things work and why they are the way they are. The first step towards becoming successful at anything begins with learning. When launching my first business, I thought it was great. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t making many sales. So I went through a period of learning where I listened to podcasts, attended online events and read as much as I could about marketing, business and sales. That lead me to a point where I realized everything I was doing wrong and what I needed to do to fix it. You constantly need to be learning if you want to become successful.

I also think my ambition has allowed me to be in the position that I am at a young age. I’ve always done things big and when I start something, I always do it to the best of my ability. When I had the idea to start Greenif-i, it was never about making a few sales here and there. My goal to start with (and still is) was to have my plants in every home in Australia and expand into other countries. Of course it’s unrealistic to expect them to be in every home, but it gives me something to strive for.

Lastly, I think that my determination has been crucial in order to stay focused. It’s not easy to commit to something and not lose track, especially in the beginning. I’m always thinking about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. It brings me great joy thinking about the people we are helping and the trees we’ll be planting along the way. I’ve always been determined to get the most out of life and share that with the people I love.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?

Through my research for my company, I learned a lot about why we are drawn to nature and how it makes us happier. It makes sense when you look at human history. As a species, most of our time here on earth has been spent in nature as hunter-gatherers. For millions of years, we relied on nature for our survival. Although convenient, our current way of life can be detrimental to both our physical and mental health. Spending so much time indoors surrounded by computer screens takes a toll on us It’s important to remember where we come from and get back there every once in a while.

On a more personal level, I strive to constantly learn how I can be the happiest version of myself. I recognize how lucky I am to have been given a shot at life and am constantly learning about what makes me happy.

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?

I think there are several reasons contributing to why the US ranks so low despite being a developed country. To start with, society is facing increasing levels of social media addiction in younger generations, leading to high levels of depression and anxiety. There is also unprecedented levels of loneliness which not only leads to anxiety and depression but also takes a significant toll on your physical health. In addition, I think that the large wealth inequalities, as well as addictions such as gambling, alcohol and other substances, are detrimental to the overall happiness of the US.

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?

I think it’s important to understand that finding joy is a constant and often lifelong process. It’s not something that can easily be achieved and you always need to be working on it. It’s also important to be forgiving towards yourself if and when you go through a period of time where it’s harder than usual to achieve the level of happiness that you strive for or might of once had.

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?

I think people rely far too much on external factors as a source of happiness. It’s great if you have everything you want in life, but you can be the richest man in the world and still be miserable. Although cliché, It’s important to remember that happiness truly does come from within.

A common mistake I see people make is thinking they will be happy as soon as they achieve whatever it is that they are trying to achieve. For example, someone might believe that as soon as they reach a certain point in their career, they will become happy. But what happens if they lose their job or their company goes bankrupt? Their happiness will fall apart because they’re relying on factors that are out of their control. If you instead focus on how to make yourself happy regardless of what the circumstance you find yourself in is, it will be a lot easier for you to maintain that happiness.

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.)

Of course, my first suggestion would be to connect with nature. Research shows that it can quite literally change your mood and reduce any negative emotions that you may have. This is especially helpful during current times. By spending the majority of our time indoors, we’re depriving ourselves of this essential connection that is vital for our health and mental wellbeing. Despite what’s going on in the world, if you can prioritize getting outside every once in a while, you’ll feel much better for it.

My second tip would be to practice the art of gratitude. We often get so hung up on the things that we don’t have, we forget about the things that we do. It’s very important to remind yourself of the basic things that you can be grateful for such as food, clothing and shelter, as there are many people out in the world who don’t have these things. No matter how bad life may seem, it could always be worse. Research shows that writing down 5 things you are grateful for each day can significantly change our outlook and cause us to focus on the good in our life, rather than the negatives.

Thirdly, I think it’s very important to remember that you’re going to have bad days sometimes and be forgiving and understanding towards yourself when this happens. It can be easy to get mad at ourselves if we fall into a period of days, weeks or even months where we don’t feel like ourselves. It’s important to acknowledge this instead of feeling bad about it, otherwise, we can fall into a spiral of sadness and frustration. This is especially important if the things around us are going well, yet we can’t seem to shake the negative emotions that we can become trapped by.

My next piece of advice would be to make time for the things that we love and that make us happy. It sounds obvious, but during hard times it can be difficult to find the energy or motivation to do the things that we know will make us feel better. By prioritizing things such as exercise, meditation and healthy eating we can help ourselves bring joy to our lives even during turbulent times. If you find it difficult to do these things, start small. Often one accomplishment can give us the motivation to do the next, and then the next.

Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult in times such as these is making time for human connection. An often overlooked part of being human is our biological need to connect with others. Loneliness is a mechanism that we developed through our evolution, as being a part of a group was imperative to our survival. Although we are living in the most connected time in human history, an unprecedented number of us feel isolated. This has a significant effect on our health and mental wellbeing and is important to address before it becomes chronic. Reaching out to old friends, making time for those we love and prioritizing a regular connection with others is crucial for our wellbeing.

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?

It’s important to let that person know that they’re not alone. A simple conversation can do wonders. Offer them advice and encourage them to take up healthy habits that can improve their mental health. Even if they don’t take it, just knowing someone cares enough to check in may help them. Although, it helps if you keep them accountable. Depending on the circumstance, it might be helpful for them to keep a journal, practise gratitude or learn how to meditate. For example, making them accountable for meditating 10 minutes each day may significantly help their mental wellbeing. Encourage them to get professional help if they need 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.

The movement I’m trying to inspire with my company is to simply get outside and spend more time in nature. Although convenient, our modern way of life can be detrimental to our health and we often sacrifice our health and wellbeing to meet our other obligations. By making time to connect with the natural world, we can feel better as well as reduce the chances of developing adverse health conditions.

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 would love to get the chance to meet with Davie Fogarty and learn more about his amazing brand The Oodie. He’s a very big name in e-commerce and does a lot to help other founders. We have a very similar mindset in the sense that we both want to build amazing brands that will make the world a better place so it would be great to get the chance to have a chat with him.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can check out the amazing work we’re doing over at Greenif-i. We post articles on topics such as nature, health, mindfulness and plants!

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!

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