Dr. Michelle Rozen: “Don’t hold grudges”

Don’t hold grudges- you don’t even know what other people are going through. Always give other people the benefit of the doubt. Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we […]

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Don’t hold grudges- you don’t even know what other people are going through. Always give other people the benefit of the doubt.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewingDr. Michelle Rozen.

Dr. Michelle Rozen, PhD is a game-changing, revenue- building, performance-boosting change expert, keynote speaker, and highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is an author, a Huffington Post contributor, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN. Dr. Michelle’s rare blend of audience engagement, killer take-away strategies, and instant connection with the audience have made her one of the most unique and memorable speakers on the stage today. Her latest work is around “2-Second Decisions”, helping people to master time management and power through decision making in turbulent times. Dr. Michelle consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a PhD in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

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 lived a regular childhood, the oldest of three siblings. I was quite a dork and loved reading. I was a bit of a klutz, breaking things all the time and very ADHD, although nobody even knew what it was back at the time. My late father was a very influential character in my life. Later in life I tried to analyze what was it about him that had such a profound impact on me, and I came to the conclusion that he very simply thought that I was amazing my whole life, and that was the best gift that he could give me. Not that I wasn’t an incredible klutz or the most argumentative and annoying kid you have ever met, but he still thought I was amazing. That belief in me is, I believe, one of the biggest contributors to who I am today. One of my favorite memories of growing up has to do with my dad. I specifically remember one day, walking back home with him after a school celebration in second grade. It was one of those celebrations where kids sing and parent tear up and get emotional with excitement. Only problem is, I can’t hold a tune for the life of me, and this was when I found out. “Dad” I said sadly on the way home “I think I was really singing off tune”. My dad looked at me. At that moment, as a parent, he could have easily lied to me. He could have told me that I sang beautifully and what am I even talking about. He could have also chosen to be brutally honest and tell me that yes, singing is not my thing and next time I really shouldn’t sing so loudly. You know, not to ruin it or the rest of the kids if you know what I mean. But he made a different choice. A very interesting one. He looked at me and said “you know, Michelle, even if you sang off tune, I think you did it quite beautifully”. He chose not to lie and not to crush. He chose to tell me that he loves me in spite of my imperfections. What came out of this, in my adulthood, is a woman that is very quick to forgive herself for her mess ups and shortcomings. The biggest gift we can give our kids is to teach them to love and forgive themselves, in spite of their shortcomings and mess ups. That is what builds resilient, strong people, and that should be our goal as parents and as leaders.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I actually never even thought to join the speaking circuit, but one day I was working with Merrill Lynch as a consultant and was asked to give a talk. I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea for me but said ‘yes’ anyway. I gave that talk and got amazing feedback. In fact, I never had more fun in my life. I discovered something about myself that I never even planned to discover. That talk was the first stepping stone to the career I have today. Always be open to new things- you never know what you are going to discover about yourself!

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?

I owe so much of my success to my husband and business partner, Adam. I am so grateful to him. Adam has this thing about him where if I set a goal for myself or want something, he commits to it himself. When I came and said that I want to go back to school, this guy, who was always in trouble with me for not helping enough around the house, took it upon himself to stay with the kids and run the house while he was working full time so that I can go to classes. When he couldn’t do it, he made sure we hired help. When I wanted to quit school because the economy collapsed and he lost his start up and we had no money, he pushed me to stay. In my hardest moments. He encouraged me to push forward.

Two years ago, he joined the business as my business partner and manages the marketing and branding. When we started working together, after already being married for 20 years, it is a miracle that we even stayed married. It was so challenging and we didn’t get along at all. Now, we work together in complete harmony. We understand each other completely and I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Adam’s relentless work and belief in me.

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?

This is only funny in retrospect considering how much I move on stage these days but at the time it was not that funny at all. My first speaking engagement was in Canada at a conference for elementary school teachers. When I got to the conference, the organizer pointed at a podium and said: ‘Michelle, I just need you to stand there’. I was so confused. How can I be engaging if I just stand behind the podium the whole time? Hesitant, I asked him: ‘Are you sure? I would rather move around and interact with people”. The guy just looked at me impatiently and said: “Michelle, please. I just need you to stand there, behind the podium and please don’t move from there, that’s it.” Being that this was the first time I spoke to a large audience; I had no experience to understand that just standing behind a podium and not moving literally ruins a talk. I followed his request and stayed behind the podium the whole time. Somehow, I got through the talk and did what he asked but this is what I had learned: communicate expectations ahead of time, stand your ground, and take the lead. I never, ever, just stood behind a podium again.

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?

The book that had the most profound impact on my life is The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill. It is a book from 1928 that talks about the fundamentals of success. My favorite quote from this book is “No man ever achieved worthwhile success who did not, at one time or other, find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure.” I have gone over that quote many times in my mind when I was struggling myself and on the brink of failure.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

As people, we have a moral responsibility to lift others. This is something that everyone should be doing with everyone around them, today more than ever. People in the speaking industry have more impact on more people. It’s just a wider scope of people that hear you and are impacted by you. Getting the mic, getting that impact is an opportunity that comes with a huge moral responsibility. If you got the mic and you were mediocre- you’ve wasted the mic. You’ve wasted the opportunity. I am here to fully respect and max out the opportunity that I am getting.

My main empowering message is this: it is never going to be the right time. Take the first step. Take control. You make 35,000 on average every single day and those decisions shape your life. I want you to get in the driver seat of your life, work and courage and make winning decisions that will get you to the life that you want and deserve. If I could do it- so can you. I took the decision to go back to school at a time in my life that was supposedly not the right time- my husband was traveling a lot and my kids were very young. Had I not taken the decision to take the first step then and sign up for school even if the time was not right, I would have still not even started until this very day. It is never going to be the right time. Just do it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have a new book coming out at the end of this month! It is called “2 Second Decisions- Get in the Driver’s Seat of Your Work, Life and Courage with Everyday Winning Choices.” I cannot wait! It is about making winning decisions fast. This is a system that I have been using for myself and for my clients for years and now, with all the pain I am seeing through Covid19, I have decided to write it down in this book and make it available to you as well!

I am also launching Success Academy at the end of this month- online training courses for individuals and companies on time management, goal setting, decision making and all the wonderful tools that will get you the success that you are looking for in 2021! I cannot wait to share it with you!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

There are three words that I believe hold the key to optimum mental wellness. The words are

  • GET IT DONE. Those three words will change your life.

What we are actually doing by repeating that sentence to ourselves every time we procrastinate, waste time and overthink to the point of analysis paralysis is using language in order to change behavior patterns. You see, our language reflects our subconscious perception of ourselves and the world around us. If I say to myself, “I am just not very productive” or “I feel so overwhelmed”, this directly affects the way that I think and behave. Action is the best remedy to anxiety, and with action comes more confidence and less anxiety.

Say those three words to yourself. GET IT DONE. What you say to yourself is more powerful than you realize. If you keep repeating certain mantras, it rewires your brain to believe that you CAN or you CAN’T do certain things. Now, what do you CHOOSE to tell yourself? Here are the three main benefits of telling yourself ‘GET IT DONE’ multiple times throughout your day:

  • You practice action based positive affirmations

The reason affirmations are so effective is because they work at every stage of goal-setting. By telling yourself “GET IT DONE” you are communicating to yourself that you are capable and focused. Saying the affirmation in the present tense is important because your subconscious mind will work to turn the positive intention into reality, which means that it will rewire your brain faster. Affirmations also increase your self-awareness.

Through repetition the new thoughts replace the old ones, becoming ingrained in your mind. With enough practice, you change not only your belief system but also your day to day actions. This technique is helpful with addiction, such as smoking or bad eating habits, and with changing undesirable behaviors and bad habits. When it comes to change, your brain needs to get on board first, and then over time, your body will follow.

  • You visualize all the way to reality

Did you know that your brain can’t tell the difference between something imaginary and something real? In other words, if your imagination is vivid enough, you can trick your brain into experiencing the positive emotions that go along with a positive memory or mental image. Every time you say to yourself “GET IT DONE” picture yourself getting it done, imagine yourself working on what you need to work on and completing the task. If you are looking to get your workout done, picture yourself at the gym and then on your way out after an hour of working out, sweaty and proud. Feel it as if it had happened. This will rewire your brain to WANT to be in that state, of getting it done.

  • You focus yourself around your goal

Everything around us is a potential distraction and a potential excuse NOT to get things done. It is too late, too hot, too far, too hard, you are too busy and too tired. Repeating the mantra GET IT DONE to yourself cuts through the noise of potential excuses. It makes it quite simple- you either get it done or you don’t get it done. There is no tomorrow, no ‘I don’t know if I can do it’ no ‘maybe I can’t’. There is just a simple, three words, action-based positive affirmation- GET IT DONE.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

I am struggling with meditation, and find that I am a bit too hyper to sit still. What I have found is that I actually meditate when I move. I take long walks daily, in almost every weather. The fresh air and movement help me think and relax. Nature calms me down. This is my time to think, reflect and refocus myself. It is also my favorite part of the day.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I have three physical wellness habits that I swear by:

  1. I walk for 6 to 7 miles every day and then do strength or interval training. I get up early and I make sure to keep that habit even if my day is crazy and I have no time. I make it a priority.
  2. I don’t eat processed foods and I stay away from sugar.
  3. I really try not to eat at night. I don’t really follow 16–8, but I eat my last meal at 5:00pm and then really try not to eat for the rest of the evening. I manage to stick to that on average 5 out of 7 nights a week and that’s good enough for me.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I believe in habits. They are harder to form at first but then you just have to maintain them. I have been avoiding sugar and processed carbs for years. Eventually, it just becomes a part of you. If I mess up, I forgive myself and move on. But I like the light feeling of clean eating. It makes me feel good about myself.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t hold grudges- you don’t even know what other people are going through. Always give other people the benefit of the doubt.
  2. When you fight, make a case for what is here and now. It’s not relevant what happened last summer so put your booklet of accusations aside.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. Drop the blame game, it’s useless. It takes two people to have a relationship- change starts within yourself.

As a young wife I used to have horrible fights with Adam. I used to explain myself over and over again and thought that the fact that he doesn’t agree with me is that maybe he didn’t understand me enough because obviously, I am right and the victim in every situation. It took me years of marriage and multiple degrees to understand that I need to listen more, and be open to the fact that I am not always just and right and there is a lot that I need to work on myself. Once I got off the throne of being just and right, not only that my life became better-but I became better.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

I think that smiling is just a part of it. I believe that you can choose to be happy. It is a matter of mindset. Everything that happens to us is subject to interpretation. It is up to you to decide which glasses you are choosing to look at life through: the happy pink ones or the grim black ones? I choose pink, and I am very happy and grateful for what I have. The rest of it I work on fixing.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Three good habits for spiritual wellness:

  1. I always look for deeper meanings. I believe that we came to this world to learn, grow and expand. In nature, whatever doesn’t grow, crumbles and dies. To me everything is learning toward growth. I always ask myself: what is the lesson here? It gives me a lot of perspective.
  2. I always think positively. I like this saying that always proves to be right: things are never as good as you think and never as bad as you think. Being an optimist, and I am, doesn’t mean that you think that everything will be rosy. It means that you believe in yourself to overcome adversity. If you believe in yourself- you are an optimist and your optimism has sound roots.
  3. I always connect to a higher purpose. I believe that my job in this world is to teach people how to live better and experience less pain. Everything that I do aligns with that purpose. When you have a purpose for your life that is greater than yourself, you can overcome a lot of adversity and you become very resilient. Because I believe that I am on a mission as far as this purpose is concerned, it is very hard to stop me at this point. I work for this purpose and it is greater than me or any obstacles.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

We are a part of nature and it is good for our mental health to be aligned with it. Nature has wisdom for us to learn from. When you align with nature, you learn and grow from that wisdom. Ultimately, our lifelong goal based on the rules of nature is to forever grow. I’d like to do that for the rest of my life, and that is my goal.

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.

I have my heart on working with teenagers and kids from less-privileged communities. I feel that many of these kids lack role models and inspiration and their dreams are limited simply because they have not seen any adults that can demonstrate to them what they can possibly become.

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 🙂

Oprah, of course. Because she is living a life that is beyond any circumstances and filled with purpose. She is a living proof that anything is possible no matter what your circumstances are, and I believe that above all, she is a teacher of success, which I admire. I don’t know about the breakfast or lunch though. I don’t think I’d be able to chew!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Instagram: @DrMichelleRozen


Twitter: @MichelleRozen

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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