Keep it light. Don’t take life so seriously, and don’t forget that laughter really is great medicine. The reality is that all of us have challenges. Life ebbs and flows, so why take it all so seriously? Life is an adventure that is meant to be enjoyed. Laugh at every opportunity and find the positives in every situation.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Brian Wind. Dr. Wind is a recognized leader in clinical psychology with over 15 years of experience. He’s co-chair of the American Psychological Association, adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University and a clinical executive at JourneyPure — a healthcare company with 20+ locations across the country. He also curates wellness events for the After the Impact Fund. The non-profit organization helps create meaning for those previously in high demanding work environments, including retired veterans, professional athletes and executives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I grew up in a very large family. Everything seemed great from the outside. On the inside, there were high levels of dysfunction. I learned from a young age how to hide in plain sight. The realization that other people were silently suffering in the same way and the desire to better understand the irrational behaviors that were happening in my childhood house led me to the field of psychology.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
My personal story of recovery is pretty interesting. I lived in active alcohol addiction for years, which included multiple stints in jail. All the while, I was earning my doctoral degree.
Luckily, I was eventually able to find recovery. I helped co-found JourneyPure to help those in the same situation, including a program specifically for professionals — doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Living in active addiction, you make so many mistakes. I wish these mistakes were funny and anecdotal, but they were mostly sad and destructive.
The biggest take away is to never let ego get in the way. Reaching out for help is always better than trying to convince everyone that you’re functioning. Having my Ph.D. didn’t make me immune to alcoholism or better than anyone else that struggles with addiction. We’re all fighting the same fight, and it’s a daily commitment.
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 father has 30 years in recovery. He modeled how to live a life of integrity to me in a way that no one else could. Without him, his unflagging support and his mentorship, I would not have gotten into recovery myself. I could very well have been dead by now. Thanks to him, I’m here living with purpose and helping others do the same.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Burnout is a very real concern in this field. The stories you hear can start to weigh on you, and you put so much in to each and every patient.
Self-care must be a priority. Those we serve only benefit to the degree that we are healthy and balanced in our own lives. Self-care means different things to different people, but involves a sense of balance of the mind, body and spirit. The simple habits matter. Establish an exercise routine. Build a network of people who will listen to you and respect your viewpoints. Eat healthily. Drink water. Get plenty of sleep.
Though this is advice we give out, we tend to overlook it in our own lives. If you want to help other people, you first must help yourself.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Organizational wellness is critical. Treat the organization as its own entity and create an environment in which the organization itself can thrive. This means…
· building a cohesive and strong leadership team.
· creating clarity with regard to the company’s mission, vision, and values.
· delivering communication in a clear and unambiguous manner.
· helping teammates to feel supported and encouraged, such that they are able to effectively perform fulfill their duties.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?
Retirement can cause dramatic drops in self-esteem. You’re coping with a loss of your career identity, which is also where you might have had most of your social interactions. If you expected to be happier with less stress and instead feel sad or less fulfilled, the misaligned expectations make things worse.
(Choose) Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Connect with others. Especially other healthy people. Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Interpersonal connectivity is the antidote to much of what ails us.
2) Maintain a sense of spiritual fulfillment. Having meaning and purpose in life must be sustained. Everyone can practice spirituality however they chose, but we are spiritual beings. Prayer, meditation, service, exercise, nature… all of these can be used as ways to find spiritual fulfillment.
3) Engage in self-care/self-improvement. Each of us remains a “work in progress” throughout the lifespan. Neglecting attention to self is a dangerous pitfall. There is only upside to being diligent about self-improvement. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
4) Participate in service work. Serving others is often the most rewarding and fulfilling part of life. It is a form of self-development. By participating in service work, you focus your attention on something other than yourself. When you focus on others, your problems get smaller and your perspective on life changes. Helping those less fortunate than you is a clear path to happiness and gratitude.
5) Keep it light. Don’t take life so seriously, and don’t forget that laughter really is great medicine. The reality is that all of us have challenges. Life ebbs and flows, so why take it all so seriously? Life is an adventure that is meant to be enjoyed. Laugh at every opportunity and find the positives in every situation.
In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
1) Things are rarely as great, or as awful, as I predict them to be.
2) Too much of anything is bad for me.
3) I can empower my gut by trusting it.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The lessons therein taught me that life has some fairly simple laws of attraction. The type of energy I put out into the universe will dictate the type of energy I draw toward me. This became a powerful lesson for me in early recovery.
I recall a time in early recovery trying to convince others (both personally and professionally) that I was sincere and trustworthy. I felt defeated, hopeless and alone when it occurred to me that changing my outlook might make a difference. By way of support from close mentors, I made a conscious shift toward optimism and overall positive energy in virtually every aspect of my life. The result was dramatic.
Things fell into place for me within a few months in a way I could not have imagined. On a daily basis, I continue to search for way in which I might impact situations, events and people in a positive way.
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’d call it the “Positive Presence” movement. It involves re-framing interactions with others. For select times each day, we’d only make positive comments to others. Affirmations, compliments, encouragement, and even putting a positive spin on conflict with others. Imagine how contagious it would be. Imagine the impact.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“We make a living out of what we get, but we make a life out of what we give.” (Winston Churchill)
This quote hits home to me in my darkest hours. When I am focused on myself, when I tend to brood or when self-pity or resentment rear their ugly heads, turning my attention toward others and finding a way to be of service restores me to feeling a sense of fulfillment in my life each and every time, without fail.
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 if we tag them 🙂
The Avett Brothers — their energy, music, and lyrics speak to me in a way that makes me grateful for their presence in the world.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!