Don’t forget to laugh! Laughter is one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to relieve stress, and it’s most potent when morale is low. It’s important that, in between keeping up with the news, you take time for humor and share it with family and friends.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bert Jacobs.
Bert and his brother John launched their business with $78 in their pockets, selling T-shirts in the streets of Boston and at college dorms up and down the East Coast. Bert and John were inspired by stories of people, mainly children, facing great adversity. These stories illustrated that optimism is most powerful in the darkest of times and inspired the creation of a fully integrated business model dedicated to helping kids in need. Life is Good donates at least 10% of its annual net profits to the Life is Good Kids Foundation to positively impact over 1 million kids every year facing poverty, violence, and illness. Bert focuses his energy on guiding overall vision and creating the art and message for the brand across categories. To inspire others to choose optimism and grow the good in their lives, Bert and John wrote Life is Good: The Book/ How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, published by National Geographic in September 2015. Bert has been awarded honorary doctorates from several universities for entrepreneurship, business innovation and philanthropy. He and Life is Good have been featured on CNNMoney, CNBC’s Business Nation, ABC News’ Nightline, NBC’s The Today Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, and Men’s Health Magazine, among others.
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?
My brother John and I were taught, from a young age, that optimism is one of the most valuable tools you can use to get through tough times and live a meaningful life, and we wanted to share that message with the world. I’ve always been a huge believer in using business to facilitate social change, so we wanted to build a business that could help people drown out the negativity and focus on the good in their lives.
Since we’d always been interested in art, we wanted to use artwork to creatively communicate the power of optimism, but we wanted to make it accessible to everyone. Turns out, a t-shirt is a great vehicle for that. We started Life is Good to spread the power of optimism, and 26 years later, that’s still our main mission.
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?
Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker made a pretty big impression. The book is all about how we’ve progressed as humans. Pinker presents undeniable historical data that demonstrates the continuous global strides we’ve made in terms of life expectancy, declining child mortality rates, poverty, violence, racism, sexism, education, labor, and more.
I think the impact of this book comes from the hope it provides; it shows how far we’ve come from where we’ve been and outlines the landscape of where we’re going. It’s a promising perspective that encourages us to look toward the future and keep moving forward.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
The anxiety and fear a lot of people feel right now is definitely understandable, but I think it’s important that we also hold onto the good news and give it just as much weight as the bad. Finding the “light at the end of the tunnel” is easier when you maintain hope, and it might help to keep the following in mind:
- Doctors around the globe are collaborating and finding promising drug combinations that can potentially treat the virus.
- The number of coronavirus patients in Wuhan has decreased so drastically that the city has shut down its makeshift hospitals.
- We’re lucky to be living in a time where we can use advanced technology to face this pandemic. Technology helps medical providers save lives, it saves jobs via remote work capabilities, and some might even say it’s saving our sanity while we self-quarantine.
- We’re seeing a major retailer like Apple reopen all of its stores in China, which is a hopeful sign that things are moving in the right direction.
- Remember this won’t last forever!
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?
Now is a great time to reach out to family, friends, co-workers — anyone in your life — to tell them they are not alone. There has never been a more important time to share some love and check in with one another.
- At the same time every day, get together (virtually, of course) with friends or family and have each person share something good that they experienced or heard. It’ll give everyone something to look forward to.
- Get moving! While still following social distancing guidelines, exercising is a productive way to combat the self-quarantine blues. Whether it’s going out to walk your dog or doing an online workout, breaking a sweat can help boost your mood and keep you healthy.
- Stay busy with real and meaningful projects. People need to feel a sense of purpose, and now is a great time to reconnect to what brings you the most joy. So whether that means working on that novel you’ve been thinking about writing or taking up a new hobby, dedicate a few hours each day to doing what you love.
- Don’t forget to laugh! Laughter is one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to relieve stress, and it’s most potent when morale is low. It’s important that, in between keeping up with the news, you take time for humor and share it with family and friends. Share videos of others in good spirits; tap into your favorite sources for a good laugh — your favorite writer, filmmaker, comedian, or show — and send a clip to your loved ones.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Our nonprofit, the Life is Good Kids Foundation, is a great resource for people who are feeling anxious. The foundation is dedicated to helping childcare professionals — in hospitals, schools and beyond — cultivate safe spaces and build trusting relationships with kids who face severe trauma. It’s all about learning how to access optimism when it’s hard to see the good around you. This involves advice on preventing burnout, tips for maintaining a healthy self-care routine, how to combat toxic stress, and more.
The tools and tips they provide are universal and helpful for anyone who’s struggling — not just individuals who have children or are care providers. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to develop an optimism practice they can apply to their everyday life, especially in difficult times.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I like Shakespeare’s “The robbed who smiles steals something from the thief.” The quote offers a feeling of resiliency, which was particularly impactful for me when I experienced a theft last year. Right now, though, I believe this quote empowers us to all carry on with our heads held high — even if we can’t do it in public spaces just yet.
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 just going to promote the movement that’s already taking the world by storm: social distancing. I believe that’ll bring about the most good to the most amount of people right now. STAY CALM, STAY COOL, STAY HOME.
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