Amy Malin of Trueheart: “Say Thanks”

Say Thanks.: Express your gratitude by saying thanks to servers at restaurants, grocery store clerks, postal workers, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, teachers, taxi drivers and people who hold the door or elevator for you. As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, […]

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Say Thanks.: Express your gratitude by saying thanks to servers at restaurants, grocery store clerks, postal workers, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, teachers, taxi drivers and people who hold the door or elevator for you.

As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.

What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?

One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Malin.

For the last two decades, social entrepreneur Amy Malin has worked at the intersection of Hollywood and philanthropy with her cause agency Trueheart where she connected celebrities and purpose-driven brands to team up for great causes. Now, Amy and her husband Scott Malin are the Co-Founders of the Trueheart social impact search engine, which gives people a free and easy way for their searches to power donations to charity.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?

I was blessed with the most amazing Nema (Grandma), who taught me to be fierce in the pursuit of my dreams. Nema grew up in the 1920s, a time when women were told who they could be, so she wanted more for me.

Growing up, I watched as Nema was President of multiple non-profits. She volunteered her time to plan events, secure auction items and dial for donations to raise funds and awareness for important causes. I didn’t know it then, but watching Nema dedicate so much of herself to giving back inspired me in the most beautiful way.

In middle school, I started to really pay attention to the suffering going on around me. I read in my local newspaper that the homeless population in South Florida didn’t have the resources to help them get a job and transition back into society. I felt compelled to help, so I created a fundraiser called “Washing at the Y”. I collected spare change from family, friends and classmates to purchase a new washer and dryer for the local YMCA. I also collected donations of towels and toiletries, so the homeless could have a safe place to shower and change before job interviews.

Then, I spent two years conducting video interviews with homeless people on the streets of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. I got to know interesting people of all ages, races and walks off life, who fell on hard times and suddenly found themselves without a home. I produced a documentary to share their incredible stories, which ended up being used as a fundraising tool for a local non-profit. From these powerful experiences, I saw firsthand that all human beings need love in their lives. I felt a calling to help whenever possible and was determined to do even more.

At 19 years old, in order to escape a situation of domestic violence, I moved to New York with three suitcases and a few hundred dollars to my name. I decided to start my life over and become an entrepreneur. Growing up, Nema would always play Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” on her record player and the lyric “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”, always stuck with me. Making that move was one of the hardest and best decisions of my life. I started my business cold-calling companies and eventually a few people in entertainment gave me a chance to prove myself. I worked 24/7, hustling and grinding to make a name for myself. I made lots of rookie mistakes, but I graduated the school of hard knocks with some of the most valuable life lessons.

I always looked for opportunities to infuse a sense of purpose into everything I was doing professionally with my special events and PR firm. At first, people laughed and were resistant when I suggested we utilize a Grammy party as a way to raise funds and awareness for a great cause. But I didn’t back down, because I knew there were enough people in my industry who shared my passion for philanthropy. Thankfully, there were early adopters who agreed with me, and my cause agency’s parties and social impact campaigns always had that purpose, which put amazing non-profits in the spotlight.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Working in Hollywood for over two decades, I’ve met some incredibly talented and interesting people. I’ve been fortunate to be at film festivals, award shows, movie premieres, television tapings, sporting events and backstage at sold-out concerts. One of my favorite stories that I’ve never publicly shared until now, speaks volumes about the wonderful generosity and character of Grammy award winning artist Dave Matthews.

Early on in my career, I was handling PR for a reality star who was embarking on a music career. MTV flew us out to LA for a few weeks to tape one of their reunion specials. I set up music showcases and meetings with industry execs while we were in town. I coordinated a meet and greet at the lounge at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills where MTV put us up, and invited around a dozen music moguls and A&R execs. While my client and I split a bottle of still water, the gentlemen ordered champagne, fancy cocktails, dinner and dessert. The night was going great. Some of the music men expressed interest in my client’s new record and were excited about all of the media and marketing opportunities I created. Everyone thanked us for a great night, promised to be in touch soon and left around 11pm. The server dropped off a bill that was a few thousand dollars and I could feel all of the blood drain from my face. We thought the guys took care of their own tabs before they left, but obviously they didn’t. We were so confused as they all worked for the biggest record companies and had huge expense accounts. We didn’t understand why they would put us in such an awful position. We couldn’t afford to pay the tab and we sat there sobbing.

Sitting across from us was Dave Matthews and his amazing band. I was a huge fan of his and had been to ten of his shows. It turned out he’d met my client before at one of his concerts and he recognized her. He saw us crying and put two and two together. Before we knew it, he came over picked up our check and paid for the whole thing. He invited us to sit with the band and have dessert. He said he knew a few of the record execs and was disappointed that they would dine and drink and leave us with a huge tab. My heart was overflowing with gratitude. I expressed my sincere appreciation for his kindness and he said it was his pleasure and not a big deal. He told us how blessed he was to have an amazing career and such loyal fans that afforded him the opportunity to make a good living doing what he loves. Dave asked us to pay it forward and help someone else when we can. We spent hours talking, laughing and singing with the band.

Dave Matthews Band was in town to play a few shows at Dodger Stadium and they invited us to be their guests backstage. We rode on the tour-bus with them to their rehearsal and got to see how they put together an incredible show. They gave my client invaluable advice and tips on making it as a new artist. They were so kind and supportive and encouraged us to pursue our dreams. I’ll never forget Dave’s kindness and I’ll always remember him as an awesome human being.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

The late great actor Carrie Fisher once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ” This is an important lesson that every human being needs to learn. Carrying around hurt and pain has toxic effects on our bodies, minds and spirits. When we learn to let things go, we are making the conscious decision to not let our past affect our present and destroy our future.

I’ve had a lot of people hurt me personally and professionally over the years and for so long, I held onto the pain, almost wearing it like a badge of honor. But, what I didn’t realize was, I was investing so much precious time and energy revisiting these old traumas, that they felt fresh. I was basically reliving my drama and trauma and caught up in a vicious cycle. I was drinking a cocktail of sadness, anger, depression and anxiety on a daily basis. I was allowing bad people and traumatic events which were no longer a part of my life, to have a hold over it.

Understanding that I am safe, happy and in a good place now and none of these people and events from my past can hurt me anymore, has set me free. Happiness is a choice we all get to make when we wake up each morning. When you choose happiness the way you look at the world changes. You operate from a place of gratitude and your interactions with people, animals and the planet come from a place of joy and love.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?

I love Gavin de Becker’s book, “The Gift Of Fear.” Gavin’s personal story is inspiring and the career he’s had protecting celebrities and world leaders is fascinating. He’s the world’s foremost expert on personal security and he shares the important message of trusting your gut. By using our intuition and tapping into fear, we can learn to protect ourselves from violence. As a survivor of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking, I highly recommend everyone read this book to be equipped with the tools to spot the red flags and warning signs of an abusive relationship or a dangerous situation. The information in Gavin’s book has the power to save so many lives.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We just launched our #Search4Smiles campaign with our Trueheart social impact search engine. We’re blessed to have our friends Brian Austin Green and Sharna Burgess co-host this inspiring campaign which will help the global non-profit Smile Train continue to provide free cleft care to children in need around the world. Every three minutes, a baby is born with a cleft, and if left untreated can result in a range of potentially life-threatening conditions including difficulty eating, breathing, hearing and speaking. For the last 21 years, Smile Train has supported safe and quality cleft care, transforming the lives of more than 1.5 million children globally.

People around the world can search with Trueheart and have their searches power donations to Smile Train and the five other deserving non-profits that we’re supporting for the next year. By using the power of tech for good, we can help people transform their local communities.

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?

When I moved to NYC, the housing situation I organized fell through the day I arrived and I ended up at Grand Central Station at 10pm with three suitcases and no place to go. I was terrified and didn’t have any options. I remembered this super nice guy Brian Gordon who also worked in PR, lived in Manhattan. We only knew each other over the phone from collaborating on an event. I decided to call him from the payphone and ask for help. The universe was looking out for me, because he was home and was even kinder than I remembered. I cried and told him what happened and that I needed a place to stay. He said he’d come pick me up and that I can stay with him and his roommates for a few days.

Brian and his roommates took me out for dinner and made me feel so welcome in NYC, my new home. What started out as an awful and scary day, ended with me making a new friend and having a safe place to crash. It’s been many years since I’ve spoken with Brian. I’ve recently reached out so we can reconnect as I’d like to thank him again for the kindness he showed me long ago.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?

Gratitude is how we express appreciation for what we have in our lives and what people have done to help us. When we consciously count our blessings, we reflect on the positive things we are thankful for and we feel we have enough. Being content with what you have is the recipe for true happiness.

Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?

Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people are obsessed with trying to “Keep Up With The Kardashians.” If you are constantly comparing your life with somebody else’s, then you’ll never be happy with what you have. If you’re focusing on what you don’t have, then you’ll miss the daily opportunity to celebrate the blessings in your life. If you’re healthy and have a safe place to live, food in your belly and family and friends that love and support you, then you are truly blessed. One of the down-sides of social media, is that we’re constantly bombarded with stylized videos and photo-shopped images of an unattainable lifestyle. None of it is real…we’re being sold a fantasy so that we’ll buy more products that promise we’ll be sexier, slimmer and cooler. Our society is driven by consumerism. We’ve been told that having more things will make us happy and satisfied. But it is all a lie! Everything we need to be happy and fulfilled is already inside of us. We are enough!

Gratitude is a muscle that takes time and work to develop. You have to adjust your way of thinking from the negative to the positive to see that what you already have is enough.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?

Gratitude literally increases happiness. When you shift your mindset to focus on all of the things you are thankful for, then your physical and emotional health improves, your relationships deepen and you achieve greater success in your career. Practicing gratitude makes us feel more grateful. Studies show that gratitude is closely correlated with optimism and the better outlook we have on our future has been shown to increase our lifespan by a few years.

Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?

Gratitude is the attitude for positive mental health. When we express gratitude, we become stronger and more resilient. Everyone is going to get knocked down in life, but if you have a grateful and positive attitude, then you can bounce back quickly and not dwell on negative feelings that can lead to anxiety or depression.

Being grateful for what we have now can help us find closure with painful memories and traumas from our past. If we can flip the script and focus on the lessons learned and the strength we gained from our experiences, then we can reclaim our power and not let our past define our present our destroy our future.

Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?

Here is the link to my video:

There are many ways you can leverage the power of gratitude to improve your overall mental health.

Here are five simple and free strategies to express your sincere thanks which also have the benefit of making you feel more content. Everybody wins! ☺

#1. SMILE!: According to Professor Tina Forster, head of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU), City University London, “We have shown for the first time that early neural processing of other’s faces is modulated depending on our own facial expression. Our work shows support for the colloquial phrase that ‘if you smile, the world will smile back to you’, as when other people smile we found that participant’s brains process a neutral face as if it was smiling.” Smiling is good for your mental health and it’s good for the world. Even if you’re wearing a mask to stay safe, although other people can’t see your pearly whites, when you smile there is a kindness that is conveyed in your eyes.

#2. Say Thanks.: Express your gratitude by saying thanks to servers at restaurants, grocery store clerks, postal workers, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, teachers, taxi drivers and people who hold the door or elevator for you. Say thanks to your family and friends in person or with handwritten notes. My dear friend Tristan has sent me the most beautiful cards on random days to say how much she values our friendship. It felt so wonderful to be acknowledged and appreciated. This one kind gesture brightened up my day!

#3. Pay It Forward: I’ve always believed that small acts of kindness create a ripple effect of goodness in the world. Pay forward your blessings by doing something nice for someone you know or a stranger, just because you can. It feels great to do it! Cover the toll for the person behind you, buy coffee for the next customer in line, cook dinner for your neighbor, watch your friend’s baby so she can take a much deserved nap or donate blood at your local hospital.

#4 Adopt A Furry Family Member: One of the best things that ever happened to me was adopting my late beloved dog Roxie. Even though technically I rescued Roxie, she really rescued me. We both had been abused and suffered similar PTSD issues and we helped each other heal. Roxie was there 
for me on every tough day and to celebrate life’s most beautiful moments. There are millions of dogs and cats in need of a safe and loving home. Our furry family members provide unconditional love and support. Having a pet also has great health benefits. The companionship helps to manage depression and loneliness and reduce stress. When you’re out on walks with your dog, you’ll be getting more exercise and meeting people which could lead to new friendships for you both. Plus, playing with your dog or cat will lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.

#5. Stop And Smell The Roses: Take time every day to walk in nature and appreciate the incredible wonder of our beautiful planet. If you pass by beautiful flowers, smell their magnificent fragrance. Studies show that people who spend time in nature, are happier, healthier and more creative. Nature is a powerful antidepressant.

Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?

I’ve read a lot about the power of breath to keep you centered and calm. Last year I ordered the The Shift and it has been a great tool to help me de-stress. The Shift was inspired by Japanese monks and it is a natural way to slow your exhale and reduce stress. Within two minutes, the longer exhales activate your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your mind and body.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?

Hot yoga has been a powerful tool for me to practice gratitude. I feel centered, calm, relaxed and at peace when I am on my mat. I feel grateful for the opportunity to take care of my body, mind and spirit with a community of people who share my passion for living a purpose-driven life.

The meditation app Calm is wonderful to guide you through gratitude meditations. Quieting your mind from distractions and being present is a powerful mental health tool.

I also recommend spending five minutes a day writing in a gratitude journal. The act of writing down the things you appreciate reinforces your positive outlook and makes it a habit, which is a powerful way to subconsciously become a part of your daily routine.

A few years ago, our family created a Blessing Box. We each wrote down five things we are thankful for on slips of paper. At dinner, we would take turns drawing a blessing from the box, reading it out loud and discussing how blessed we feel.

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’m proud to say that my husband Scott and I recently launched our big idea to bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people with our Trueheart social impact search engine. We strongly believe that we can use the power of tech for good and unite people around the world to transform our local communities. Our movement is inviting people ages 8–80 years old to search with Trueheart on their mobile phones, tablets and computers, so their searches can power donations to the six deserving charities we’re supporting this year. For companies who want to engage their employees in giving back, it is free and easy to make Trueheart your official search engine. Plus, we can provide a dedicated link so companies can see the measurable impact they’re making by joining our community.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

We invite you to follow our journey @WeAreTrueheart on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and search with us to change the world.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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