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“Borrow wisdom from others.” With Beau Henderson & Dannie De Novo

I think it is difficult to remain mindful without incorporating a meditation practice into your routine. I use my daily meditation to check in on my body, on my mind, and on my spirit. I use meditation as a means of listening to what is going on inside of me and quieting the noise from […]

I think it is difficult to remain mindful without incorporating a meditation practice into your routine. I use my daily meditation to check in on my body, on my mind, and on my spirit. I use meditation as a means of listening to what is going on inside of me and quieting the noise from outside. I use meditation to connect with the Universe and feel as though I am part of something expansive, timeless, and good. It is a great way to develop clarity, creativity, and a sense of peace.


As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dannie De Novo.

Dannie De Novo is the international bestselling author of the book Get in a Good Mood & Stay There. She is the host of the successful podcast, The Dannie De Novo Podcast, as well as a personal and corporate mindset and success coach who often appears on TV as an expert on happiness, combating loneliness, and managing fear and anxiety. Dannie has successfully helped coaches, athletes, entrepreneurs, consultants, designers, political candidates, and even parents attain the success they had been so doggedly trying to achieve but continually failed to do so without the help of strategic coaching.


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?

From most people’s perspective, I had a good life. Prior to becoming a mindset coach, I was a lawyer and had a good job. I was married, owned a home, and had a baby girl whom I adored, but aside from the time I spent with my infant, I was utterly miserable. The truth was that I had suffered through a very long and traumatic depression in my teens and twenties, and in the back of my mind I always feared to slip back into something similar. However, now I had a baby and I knew I had to be there for her, so I pretended to be healthy and functioning while really, I was slowly dying inside.

One evening I was at home making dinner. I was mindlessly stirring a pot on the stove, entrenched in negative thoughts about my day. My baby was sitting on the kitchen floor playing with a bunch of old wooden spoons and plastic bowls I had given her. As I continued to stir, I happened to glance down at her. She knew I was watching her, and she picked up one of her bowls and a spoon and began stirring just like I was stirring. She beamed at me with her huge brown eyes as if to say, “See? I’m just like mommy.” She was so proud of herself.

I beamed back at her, also proud. But then, I had a crushing wave of nausea pour over me. It was so strong I had to sit down. I suddenly realized that my daughter was copying everything that I was doing. I was her main role model, and I was teaching my daughter how to become a very depressed, lonely, unhappy, and unfulfilled woman. Just like mommy?! I couldn’t allow that to happen to her.

So, I set out on a mission to learn how to become a happy, fulfilled, mindful, successful, loving, and vivacious person so that I could teach my daughter how to do the same. My book Get in a Good Mood and Stay There is a compilation of the ideas, exercises, practices, and mindset techniques I tried out and ultimately adopted to go from living in a numbed-out, tired, and listless state to living as a happy human being.

Once I got immersed in personal development and growth, I looked around and saw so many souls struggling with the same issues. It soon became clear that I should not only be teaching my daughter all of the amazing things I had learned and implemented, but that I should also be teaching others who needed a little help with their own journeys toward happiness, love, and healing. I now share my techniques and experiences with others as a mindset coach, writer, and speaker.

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

Many interesting and exciting things have happened since I started my career. I have become an international bestselling author and now have a successful podcast. Because of these things, I have been able to speak with influential and interesting people all over the world and formed connections and friendships with amazing souls. These things never would have happened had I not begun and continued to develop this incredible career.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

In the year 1775, General George Washington of the Continental Army had been woefully defeated in New York City by the British Army. The colonists’ cause was unraveling before his eyes. The majority of his men had no shoes for the winter, and they were hungry, tired, and cold. In December of that year, Washington’s enemy was hauled up in quarters just across the Delaware River expecting to begin a holiday and winter break from the war. Washington saw an opportunity.

He ordered his troops to cross the Delaware River. However, it was night, during a massive blizzard. The men could not see two feet in front of them, nor did they ultimately know where they were going. In order to help with this, Washington advised each of his officers to put a white paper in their hats as a signal both to those officers to lead from the front and to the troops to follow their assigned officer. With this added safeguard in place, every man successfully crossed the river that night, leading to a surprise attack the next morning that allowed Washington’s army to take the city of Trenton.

The moral of the story — lead from the front. You cannot expect those around you to be persuaded to take risks and try new things when you are hiding out in the rear. Be seen. Take risks. Be heard. Signal others to follow. This will yield extraordinary results.

In order to create an amazing work environment, always lead by inspired, authentic example. Work on your own self-development and mindfulness every day. Work on your own happiness. Stay focused on your passions in life. These are not attributes that you can fake. When you, as a leader, are truly living a happy, healthy, balanced, productive, and energetic life, those who work around you will be compelled to follow in your footsteps.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Growing up, I never saw my father read very often. I knew he read, but he rarely read books in front of me. However, once when I was very young, I noticed that he started carrying a book back and forth to work with him every day. I thought that the book must be something very special for him to carry it with him just so he could read it whenever he had time. One night, I asked him about the book. He seemed surprised that I had noticed it, but he pulled it out from under his coat and showed it to me. My dad let me try to read a couple of pages. I had only started reading and couldn’t understand much, so I asked him what it was about. He told me he was reading it to become stronger. I didn’t see the book after that night.

My father passed away some time ago. When I was going through some boxes of his things, I found his book, Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life by David J. Rogers. I remembered him having it after all that time, and having been close to my dad, I was happy that I could now read it and understand more about him. When I opened the book, I saw that he had highlighted a few passages. I felt like this was a gift — more insight into a man who had taught me so much, and it seemed, was still teaching me. This is what he had highlighted, “Your most effective fighting weapons are always inside you — your attitudes, spirit, will, energy, power, knowledge of strategies and strikes and your driving commitment to move forward, always forward.”

I read through the entire book, noting all the highlighted sections. There are parts of the book with which I do not agree but that sound strongly like my father at times. There are parts, like that one highlighted passage, that resonate with me just as they had with my dad.

This book gave me great insight into my father, a quiet man who often didn’t make his feelings known. It showed me the mindfulness ideas he had gotten right and things he maybe didn’t understand as well. If anything, it showed me where I might have developed a lot of my early beliefs about myself and helped me shift my mindset.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Put simply, mindfulness is awareness. More completely, mindfulness is the perpetual state of conscious awareness of one’s body, behavior, emotions, thoughts, and spirit. When you are mindful, you are able to pick up on any discrepancies between any of those planes of being. For example, if you decide you want to start eating a healthier diet, but all you ever seem to consume is junk food, being mindful would help you understand why your thoughts aren’t matching your behavior. Once you are aware of the divergence, you can monitor and control your behavior to match your thoughts. When you are able to maintain awareness in all planes, moment-to-moment, and correct any inconsistencies among them, you will begin to understand the meaning of being in true alignment, which will lead to a great sense of freedom and peace. When you are mindful, you are living in the present moment. You aren’t controlled by the confines of the past nor the anxieties of the future.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

When I am mindful and in alignment, I am calm. Problems seem less complicated. I see more good in the world and I want to be a part of that good.

When I am mindful, I am clear-headed. I make good decisions and I make them effortlessly.

When I am mindful, I take better care of myself. I eat well. I exercise. I sleep better. I am more energized.

When I am mindful, I am more open to my intuition and more apt to follow my heart. This leads to greater happiness.

When I am mindful, I am more compassionate towards other people. I listen more. I understand people more. I am engaged and empathetic.

When I am mindful, I am more child-like. I am creative and I utilize my imagination.

When I am mindful, I enjoy the simplest of things. I am grateful for my life.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Meditation

Meditation is the most important meal of the day. I meditate as soon as I wake up. It is a non-negotiable part of my day and I will honestly lock myself in the bathroom to do it if need be. It is that important.

I think it is difficult to remain mindful without incorporating a meditation practice into your routine. I use my daily meditation to check in on my body, on my mind, and on my spirit. I use meditation as a means of listening to what is going on inside of me and quieting the noise from outside. I use meditation to connect with the Universe and feel as though I am part of something expansive, timeless, and good. It is a great way to develop clarity, creativity, and a sense of peace.

The more frequently I practice meditation, the more the effects sustain themselves throughout my day and throughout my life. The good news is you don’t have to devote more than a few minutes each day to meditation and you don’t have to be perfect in your practice. Keep it simple. Focus on your breath. Focus on a mantra or affirmation. Focus on the quiet. Be mindful of the feelings, thoughts, and ideas that arise during your meditation.

What your practice should be is meaningful for you. With meaning and connectedness, comes greater happiness and awareness.

Gratitude

Gratitude is feeling or showing appreciation toward someone or something, so a gratitude practice is a daily commitment to focusing your energy and thoughts on what you appreciate. Gratitude shifts our thinking to the present moment instead of allowing us to slip back into the past or worry about the future.

Gratitude allows us to celebrate what we have now and what we have accomplished. It also allows us to refocus our energy on our dreams and goals. For a long time, my life lacked enough gratitude, and I often lived inside my own little pity party. My emotions were on autopilot and stuck in the past. Gratitude allowed me to come back to the present and stay there.

Purpose

Having a purpose in life is a game-changer. When you live from your purpose and passion, you are not only happier, but you live a focused life. When you are able to stay focused, you are able to remain aware. The story of how I came to my current path and career illustrates what finding a purpose did for me and my daughter.

Creativity

We are creative beings. We are meant to create, to be inspired, to be innovative, to use our imaginations. When we suppress that part of ourselves, we suppress a huge part of our spiritual connection. It is no wonder why we then feel lost, alone, and passionless.

I used to operate under the terrible falsehood that only artists were creative. I was not an artist, therefore, I deemed myself uncreative. But creativity can take so many forms. You can be creative by cooking, writing, reorganizing, gardening, teaching your children, training your pets, learning a new skill or hobby…the list is literally endless. Allow yourself the freedom to create. A part of mindfulness sometimes means taking action, not just thinking and observing.

I have come to believe that when you are in tune with your creative process, you are paying attention to the voice in your heart. You are mindful of your soul’s desires and you are honoring those desires by engaging in creative activity.

Borrow wisdom from others

Becoming mindful can seem like a daunting task. It is not the easiest concept to grasp. Do not make the same mistake that I made when I started out on this journey by thinking that I could develop a mindfulness practice by myself. Do yourself an enormous favor and seek out the people who have walked this road before you and can help you navigate your own path.

Wisdom and inspiration can come from so many different places. I like utilizing quotes to help keep my attention. I have strategically placed quotes in many different places, so I am always reading something to snap me back into the present moment if I have fallen out of it. Certain music helps me stay in the moment. Nature helps me feel grounded and present.

Of course, I can’t discount the little nuggets of wisdom that drop from out of nowhere, sometimes from the wisest of all. The other day, while feeling a bit of stress and anxiety about the stay-at-home order, I admit, I slipped out of the present moment and into a bit of a funk. I must have said something slightly negative to my four-year-old because she stopped what she was doing and turned to me with a look of concern on her face. Well, if that didn’t snap me back to the present, her following words did. She said with a slight smile, “Yeah, but mommy, how lucky we are to have all this love, all around us.”

She immediately went back to playing in her tent, forever in the present moment. Attitude adjustment received in the kindest of ways, I allowed myself a few teardrops of gratitude and moved on with a productive and peaceful day.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Listen.

You have to really listen in order to be helpful. Don’t think about what you are going to say, listen and then respond in an authentic and meaningful way. Also, allow them to talk and to express how they are feeling. Do not try to help solve their problems unless they specifically ask you for help.

Don’t judge.

This is a time for compassion, not a time to compare, contrast, or judge in any way. We are all human. We all have our weaknesses and our breaking points. We all have the unique triggers that can launch us into feelings of fear, worry, and desperation.

Do not minimize their pain or feelings. Do not label their emotions for them. Do not make them feel badly for having these emotions. You understand what it is like to feel anxious and fearful. Show some empathy even if you don’t fully understand their specific situation.

Encourage them to find and pursue their purpose (but don’t try to change them).

Sometimes we all need a little encouragement, and even sometimes permission, to look for our purpose or pursue it. But, when we do find that passion inside of us and follow it, our main focus becomes carrying out that purpose. We are then less concerned with thoughts of worry and doubt.

Have them make a list.

Ask them to sit down and take out a sheet of paper. Have them fold the paper in half. On the one side, ask them to list all the “wins” they had for the week. Even small wins count, like finding a dollar in the street or getting a parking spot at a crowded store. If they struggle with finding wins from the week, go back through the past month with them. Ask them to tell you about each win, how they felt during that time, and what further good that win may have led to for them.

On the other side of the paper, ask them to make a gratitude list. Have them jot down all of the good in their life that they can think of. Again, these can be small things like waking up feeling great that morning or seeing the sun brightly shining that day. They can also be bigger things in life like the fact that they are healthy or have really good, supportive friends.

When they are done talking about their lists and sharing positive feelings with you, tell them to hang up their list somewhere they will see it often so that they can return to those good feelings when they need to. They can also sit down and write out a list any time they start feeling anxious, worried, or afraid.

Shareyour resources.

Share what you have learned to become calmer and more mindful. Give them the gift of not having to reinvent the wheel. Take the resources you have compiled and allow others to explore and see what works for them.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

First, find a meditation teacher or resource. It is a difficult skill to learn on your own. A really good resource for those who are new to the idea of meditation is Emily Fletcher’s Ziva online course. She has a simple method to help you get started and see benefits rather quickly. Her website is zivameditation.com.

Second, have your borrowed wisdom close at hand — always. I keep a few quotes and words of wisdom on the home screen of my phone so that I am constantly looking at those words, reading those words, and internalizing those words. There are always specific authors I return to when I need a boost in my mindfulness practice, but there are also many recordings, audio books, podcasts, and online courses that are free and easy to access any time of day. Find the messages that help you return to your mindfulness practice quickly and keep those links for future use. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at the many courses on mindfulness at Mindvalley.com.

Third, work on your mindfulness every day — even when you don’t want to. Mindfulness is a practice and not something you learn and then never have to think about again. Make it a conscious, healthy habit that you adopt into your lifestyle. When it becomes a habit, mindfulness will be something that happens more and more automatically for you. It will become a part of who you are. And, when you are mindful more often, you are calmer and feel a sense of serenity and peace. So, set an appointment reminder on your phone to remind yourself each day to take some time for you, your health and wellness, and this beautiful practice.

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

One recognizes one’s course by discovering the paths that stray from it. -Albert Camus

For the longest time, I did not know what my true purpose was. I had struggled to find that idea that lit me up inside. But I did have a lot of practice doing things that were clearly not my purpose. For that reason, it looked to a lot of people (including myself at times) like I was aimless, lacked focus, and wasted a lot of time.

I did not think I would ever find my way and criticized myself deeply for not having a purpose, ambition, or real drive. Then, one day, I decided that I was going to become passionate about finding my passion. This was scary for me because it meant exploring different ideas and activities, and I knew doing so would only bring further criticism from the people around me and from that judgmental voice in my head. But the risk was worth the reward, so I continued to seek out my true calling in life.

Then, after all of that time searching, I found it — my passion. The search and the struggle were worth it. When I had the courage to become a mindset coach and teacher, my life changed immediately for the good. I dropped the shame I had been carrying about my constant failures and started really looking at what I had learned and uncovered. I had found my purpose. I had found happiness along the way. I had found myself.

For me, one lesson learned was not to worry about staying on some arbitrary path designed by others. Life is about exploring all around you, finding what feels right for you. I always tell my daughter — follow your heart and the rest will follow you.

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. 🙂

Honestly, I would throw out the traditional model for school and education and replace it with a system that focuses on the entire human being and our life’s challenges. I would encourage educators to invent new ways of teaching the subjects that are currently being taught, and I would also add in classes on mindfulness, meditation, coping with loss, dealing with uncertainty, calming negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and loneliness, building a positive self-image, and developing a strong spiritual practice.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

On Instagram or Facebook @danniedenovo.

On my podcast, The Dannie De Novo Podcast, which is on all the major podcast platforms.

On my website at www.danniedenovo.com

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

Thank you!

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