“Focus on being the change that you want to see in your culture.”, With Beau Henderson & Robert Mack

Focus on being the change that you want to see in your culture. Words don’t teach; experience teaches. You can show them better than you can tell them. Teach primarily through your living, shining example, not through your words. As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or […]

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Focus on being the change that you want to see in your culture. Words don’t teach; experience teaches. You can show them better than you can tell them. Teach primarily through your living, shining example, not through your words.

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

Robert Mack is an Ivy-League-Educated Celebrity Happiness Coach, Positive Psychology Expert, Published Author of “Happiness from the Inside Out,” and TV Host, Personality and Producer for OWN and E! Robert’s work has been endorsed by Oprah and many others.

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?

Iwas depressed — and suicidal — for as long as I remember being alive.

Sometimes people ask why I was so depressed and suicidal. I had a great life, a loving family, a few friends, a beautiful, brilliant girlfriend, great grades, respectable athletic achievements, and eventually a great job. As I look back now, however, I can see the problem as clear as day: It was an overthinking, over analyzing mind, one that wouldn’t — or didn’t know how to — sit down and shut up. My unhappiness was caused by an addiction to thinking, an addiction to thinking the same old, negative, redundant thoughts over and over again.

Anyway, after almost a decade of dealing with this depression, I finally decided that I couldn’t take it any longer. So, I conducted some research and looked up ways to kill myself. Eventually, after some deliberation, I decided to slit my wrist. I went into the kitchen, grabbed the first knife I could find and plunged it deep into my wrist.

What happened next is hard to explain, but basically — for reasons I couldn’t understand at the time — I felt a strange and unfamiliar peace, love and, dare I say, bliss wash over me.

At that moment, as a result — and not knowing exactly what happened — I decided to postpone suicide. At first, I only committed to an hour, but even that felt overly ambitious. Interestingly enough, however it was enough: That hour soon bled into a day, that day bled into a week, and that week has bled into a couple of decades at this point.

The entire time I threw myself into research again. This time, however, I focused on happiness, instead of suicide. I decided that if I was going to live, I was going to live happily! I spent the next several years researching what happiness is, what leads to it, and what doesn’t lead to it. I read, listened to, and watched everything on happiness I could possibly find or get my hands on.

What’s more, I applied it all in my own life.

Of course, all of this is not to say that I instantly ended my depression or stopped experiencing suicidal ideation on the spot. I didn’t immediately stop having thoughts of killing myself or thoughts of wanting to die. But, over time, those thoughts visited less frequently, stayed for shorter periods of time, departed more quickly, and were experienced less intensely overall.

Inch by inch, hour by hour, day by day, I dug myself out of this deep, dark, depressing hole.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Focus on being the change that you want to see in your culture. Words don’t teach; experience teaches. You can show them better than you can tell them. Teach primarily through your living, shining example, not through your words.

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?

Sara and the Foreverness of Friends of a Feather was a book recommend to me by a partner at a consulting firm my first week on the job as an analyst. I was fresh out of undergrad, and I was sure I was fired. Partners don’t, generally, speak to analysts. After speaking to me for a short period of time, he recommended this book. After finding the book, I was even more convinced that I was fired… it was seemingly a children’s book. Little did I know how valuable that “children’s book would be!

It taught me the value — or, at least planted the seeds for learning the importance of — positive intelligence, positive communication, cognitive agility, emotional regulation, self-soothing, and more!

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?

Mindfulness is, at least two things. Most folks understand — and can master — the first part, but it’s an exceptionally rare person who can master the second:

1. Keeping your mind where your body is.

2. Keeping your mind quiet.

Mindfulness isn’t a full mind; it’s an empty one. Mindfulness isn’t a mind full of thoughts; it’s a mind full of awareness. And within that awareness is everything you’re looking for: creativity, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, focus, calmness, peace, confidence, authenticity, compassion, and so on.

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?

Mindfulness improves everything in your life: the length of your life, the health of your body, the money in the bank (through saving more and making more), the length, depth, and enjoyment of your relationships, and so on.

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.

1. Do one thing at a time. Thinking counts as one thing. When walking, walk — don’t think. When showering, shower — don’t think. When listening, listen — don’t think!

2. Enjoy everything more. The more you focus on enjoyment, no matter what it is, the better you’ll do it.

3. Think less, feel more. Place your focus, attention on awareness on the physical sensations in your body as you do what you do, instead on the psych-emotional experience in your head.

4. Do everything for its own sake. Turn activities — especially activities that are usually a means to some other end, things like doing the laundry, doing the dishes, completing the status report, and so on — into an end in and of itself.

5. Practice micro-meditations. Micro-meditation is one breath that you take as often as you can remember throughout the day, no matter what else you’re doing, for the joy of the breath alone. The idea is to enjoy that breath like it’s the last breath you’ll ever get to take — who knows? It just might be. Take the breath, enjoy that breath, and let all your other thoughts go.

6. Practice the micro-meditations right before you fall asleep at night and right when you wake up in the morning. That’s when it’s easiest. If you practice when it’s easy, it’ll be easy when it’s difficult.

7. Do everything more slowly. Walk, talk, and move more slowly. The slower you go, the faster you arrive.

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?

1. Be the change you want to see in them. Be peace.

2. Focus on holding a space of unconditional regard love. Focus more on presence than problem-solving. Focus more on listening with a cool, calm, collected mind than fixing.

3. Reflect back what you heard them say, in your own words, without judgment. Ask if you heard them correctly.

4. Validate, normalize, and empathize. Say, “If I were in your shoes, I would be thinking, feeling, speaking, and doing exactly what you are now. “ Really mean it.

5. Artfully and skillfully positively reframe on-the-fly what they’re sharing with them in a very soft, subtle, supportive way. This takes practice and a level of subtlety that most folks must build over years.

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

1. Everyday life. Everything in everyday life.

2. “How To” series by Thich Nhat Hanh.

3. The Joy of Not Thinking by Tim Grimes.

4. All books by Eckhart Tolle.

5. All books by Rupert Spira.

6. The “F It” Meditation on YouTube.

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

It’s an extraordinary life if you don’t overthink it. I was suicidal. When I went to slash my wrist, my mind went quiet. When my mind went quiet, I was no longer suicidal — I was blissful.

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. 🙂

Life. Life is already that movement. Life will never be perfect in the way people understand, because life is perfect in a way that most people will never understand it.

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

My website is coachrobmack.com.

My social media handles are @robmackofficial.

My book can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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

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