Dance like no one’s watching. This gets a bad rap for being overused or a bit ‘happy clappy’, but like our bodies need food — our souls need us to dance to our favorite guilty pleasure (all the time). Start in a place where you won’t feel pressure — in your kitchen for example, put on your favorite record and just let go. Scream the lyrics and shake your hips. When this feels good and your confidence starts to build, take it out of the house and let it live in the world. Sing at the top of your lungs when you’re stopped at the lights, dance down the aisles at the grocery store — this is your world, let it be your oyster. Trust me, just try 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 Daisy Mack.
Daisy Mack is a Breathwork and Stress Management Expert, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and Yoga Teacher who has found her purpose guiding ambitious, high-achievers to understand how to take a holistic approach to health, wellness, and self-care.
Prior to launching her wellness practice, Spiritual Mixtape, Daisy spent 15 years working in the high-pressure music industry. Her experience spanned as an agent at leading powerhouse WME and then as a North American VP for an entertainment conglomerate. Though her career was incredibly successful on paper, below the surface she felt disconnected and out of alignment with herself. It took breaking away from her old idea of “success” to finally tap into her true power. She has been featured in popular publications including WebMD Bustle, Authority Magazine, and many more.
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 grew up in North London in the 80’s and 90’s. Unlike other parts of the UK at the time, London was diverse in culture and had a mixing of social classes. This melting pot was a gift for any biracial child. It was the opportunity to grow up feeling proud of my blended heritage, while also giving me my own identity as a “Londoner”. At the age of 14 this was all turned on its head; I was awarded a full scholarship for a boarding school in Cambridge and I left all that was familiar behind, including my childhood.
At school there were many tearful moments — I experienced homesickness that felt like actual pain, but there were also times of great joy and wondrous self discovery (like taking my English A level on mushrooms — sorry, mom — they were legal at the time). As cliche as it sounds, the more adverse experiences did build character. However, in the grand scheme of things, I certainly don’t deem them as important as the loving start my parents gave me. It created a limitless feeling that no money or education can buy.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I have two “what’s”. They are siblings, one is called Psoriasis and the other is called Stress. My body is not compatible with either and finally admitting that is what spurred my change of career.
At 26, tired of the pain and the constant use of medications, I looked for more holistic approaches to handle the psoriasis. Diet change, acupuncture and therapy did help my skin improve, but I soon realized I was only treating the symptoms, not the cause. It took another eight years of dancing around it before I would really take stock and deal with my biggest trigger — Stress.
Fast forward eight years and I was now a VP at an entertainment company in Los Angeles — I had the salary and the status, but I was anxious, overweight and unable to sleep. My days at work were tough, bouncing from one crisis to the next. I was just about managing, then my dad’s cancer got worse and I simply couldn’t cope anymore.
I took the hard lessons I learnt from that period and I channeled them into healing myself. I thought because I had done it once with my psoriasis I could do it again. Let me tell you, my 30 something body didn’t rally in the same way it had at 26. Stress takes a huge physical toll on the body, not to mention the mind. For me to be well, I can’t just manage the stress — I have to find ways to live in harmony with it. This meant a full life overhaul — career, home, time… everything needed to be reevaluated.
Understanding and teaching stress relief methods to others is my calling in life. Now I get up every day with bags of energy. I am excited to learn and thrilled to share my experience with my wellness coaching clients.
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 husband and I met when we weren’t much older than kids so it’s fair to say that we have grown up together. While he has stayed consistent in his vision for his life and his business, my journey has been full of twists, turns and periods of poor health. I doubted myself many times, but my hubby has never felt this way. He has always been sure of my ability to succeed in every part of life — health, wealth and all the bits in between. Unlike how I have loved myself, my husband’s relationship with me has never been dependent on my behavior or accolades. I think it’s vital for us, as humans, to feel that sort of unconditional love. When you lose sight of the shore, it’s those connections that bring you safely back to harbor.
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?
Like everyone in Covid, I have had a Zoom learning curve!
I really cut my digital teeth teaching yoga virtually in the Cancer Support Community in Redondo Beach. I once led a whole sound bath with the mics switched off and similarly, I did a whole dance to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off without sharing audio with the class. Both times, they just sweetly and patiently waited for me to finish. My lovely students never berated me and they never stopped coming. One mistake (or even two) is not the end of it all. Please remind all recovering perfectionists of that.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m turning my practice, Spiritual Mixtape, into a book. I can only coach so many people in a day, but if my method is in a book people can have access whenever they need it. Transformation is far easier with accountability and support so I am working on making the book easy for readers to do in book groups.
When the world opens up a little more, I plan to write a piece about the healing practices of my ancestors. There’s so much wisdom from the East that has been lost to time.
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?
Vision — I have a clear vision of how I want my work to impact people. This isn’t just about goals, it’s about a raw energy that the clients can use for their own transformation.
Courage — Understanding that my cause is far greater than me spurs me on. That’s so important in the lonelier moments and I have found that growth is always at the end of the more challenging periods.
Beginners Mindset — I have to be open to learning and adapting. If I never get stuck in what I think I know, then my practice will always be improving and evolving.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
It’s my mission in life to help people find a more holistic approach to their health, wellness and self care. In my work as a coach, I have found the number one reason people hire me is because they have lost connection with their sense of joy. It’s so easily done. In my own life, it took redefining my own ideas of success before I stepped into true and long lasting happiness. When I did, my health dramatically improved — my chronic psoriasis cleared for example.
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?
Privilege and opportunity give you choices, but not all of those result in happy endings. In Sheena Iyengar’s Ted talk “The Art of Choosing”, she described a study conducted on American and French parents who had to make the terrible choice of taking their infant off life support. In France, this decision is made by medical professionals, while in the States the decision is solely left to the parents. A year later, the parents were asked how they feel — the French Parents were able to “reframe” the tragedy, while the American parents harbored wholly negative feelings.
Sometimes, the freedoms we crave can create cages in our thoughts. While illustrating this with a life-or-death scenario is extreme. It does show that when our choices bear negative results, doubt can cloud the outcome which leaves us depleted and lacking in joy.
Personally, I don’t believe taking choices away would help create happiness. Instead, I think understanding how to appreciate the outcome of our choices without judgement of the end result, is essential to finding true happiness.
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?
The biggest myth I have found in my personal life and in my business is that happiness come from an external source. Happiness is an emotional state that is characterized by feelings of joy as well as fulfillment and contentment. While external factors like a new car or a job and even a romantic relationship can create good feelings in the moment, they are fleeting. Think of how it would feel if they were to suddenly be taken from you. You would experience a sense of loss and possibly sadness. When happiness comes from within it cannot be taken away from you. In fact, your sense of happiness and wellbeing becomes more resilient to the external changes around you. It even becomes a support system during the more challenging periods of your life.
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?
Have you ever lost something and the more you search, the more helpless the endeavor seems? Then just as you stop, move your attention to a new task, like magic your keys, glasses etc. materialize. I think the very act of trying can make us blind to the thing we seek.
Happiness is not a place that can be found. It is a state of being we create within ourselves over time and it needs several factors to exist. It needs a healthy body and a clear mind. It needs connection and community. And it needs yin to its yang — this means we need our sad moments so we can (more fully) appreciate our good moments. In our current society, I believe this is a hard truth we don’t embrace. We numb out our difficult feelings which makes achieving happiness an even greater challenge.
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.)
- Dance like no one’s watching. This gets a bad rap for being overused or a bit ‘happy clappy’, but like our bodies need food — our souls need us to dance to our favorite guilty pleasure (all the time). Start in a place where you won’t feel pressure — in your kitchen for example, put on your favorite record and just let go. Scream the lyrics and shake your hips. When this feels good and your confidence starts to build, take it out of the house and let it live in the world. Sing at the top of your lungs when you’re stopped at the lights, dance down the aisles at the grocery store — this is your world, let it be your oyster. Trust me, just try it.
- Go in… And create a loving bond with your mind. If you don’t want to cuddle your mind like you cuddle your best friend then making happiness last in your life will be an arduous task. If our inner landscape is full of self-love then our experiences in the outer world will be more pleasant and in time a sense of wellbeing is established. People find different ways to cultivate the bond. In Covid, I renewed my childhood love of doing jigsaw puzzles. I had long ago put this aside, as I didn’t want to be considered boring or old fashioned, but when looking for off-line things to do in the first lock down, I stumbled back to puzzles. I found them so meditative and relaxing, which was exactly what I needed in the midst of huge societal change and frankly, so much fear. In The Ultimate Happiness Prescription Deepak Chopra says “When you know yourself, you access happiness at its source. But most people confuse themselves with their self-image”. So, let’s take this advice and work past our limiting self-image and all the things it tells our minds they shouldn’t be doing and instead find the ways we can nurture our stressed out minds.
- Explore the holy trinity — breath work, visualization and meditation. So much of finding happiness starts from within. With the Holy Trinity, we are feeding our body, mind and imagination. When used correctly these three activities are the exact tools we need to enhance and deepen our bond with ourselves and indeed grow our inner landscape from a few trees to a whole forest.
- Cultivate resilience. Most of us were not taught how to deal with life’s difficult emotions. Social media is a great example of that, raise your hand if you have felt jealousy, anxiety or loneliness from scrolling through your feed? How can a simple picture of someone else’s life affect you so greatly? The answer is pretty easily if your inner world is built on fragile concepts of self-image. How do you develop the resilience muscle? You start by working on your mindset. You are not the same person today as you were yesterday. Nor will you be tomorrow. Let your mindset have the same growth — what you can’t do today, you can do tomorrow. Then accept the idea that, in life there will be pain and suffering, but that you are capable of surviving it.
- Connection to others, animals and nature. Experiencing ‘meaning’ in our lives is like a vital sign. Understanding that we are connected to others and to something bigger than ourselves is essential to finding joy. We are a tribal species. We are meant to exist in groups with everyone performing their specific role to make the village stronger, happier and better. In our autonomous society we have lost that connection, but our hearts still need it. It gives us a purpose. I volunteer at the Cancer Support Community in Redondo Beach. I teach a weekly yoga class and every time we finish, I feel a glow radiate from me. I went into the experience thinking that I was giving back to the community, but I really feel that what I gain is far greater than the time I put in. Emily and Amelia Nagoski talk about a “Bubble of Love” in their book Burnout : the Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle which expands on this idea. Each of us has a unique way to feel connection. For me, my bubbles are teaching yoga and walking my dogs with my husband. I urge you to find your love bubbles and make them part of your daily life. Through them you will find happiness, joy and your ability to weather whatever the storm may be.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
Listen. If someone is down, they may just need an outlet and your ears could be the very thing that makes a difference. Listen to understand, not to respond and be compassionate with all that they say, like my dad used to say “a problem shared, is a problem solved”. If you find that the issues your friend is facing are more serious then suggesting specialist help is the best call. Depression can be a scary and lonely process — offering to drive someone to see the doctor or therapist is a really kind way of showing your support without interfering with their own recovery.
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.
Let’s just all learn to breathe properly. We’d be calmer and kinder if we did. Check out James Nestor’s book Breathe if you want to know more and then get to your local yoga class for some training.
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 🙂
Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I mentioned their book on Burnout above. I just love it. They seem like great people to share ideas with and really just to have on your side. If you guys read this — thank you, your book is a gift.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’d love to hear from more people — my website is above, but for daily interactions please go to my instagram.
I’m really excited to hear from you.
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!