I have traveled throughout the world and notice that other countries feel more relaxed. The sense of urgency that I feel encompasses people in the United States is non-existent. Men and women aren’t rail thin and they aren’t obese either. It sort of makes me think that if we just let go of all of this need to succeed we would naturally even out in our lives, and experience more happiness.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie O’Brien, Life Coach and Case Manager at CAST Centers in West Hollywood, CA. Jackie was born in Atlanta, Georgia and migrated to Southern California seven years ago. She majored in psychology at the University of Georgia and matriculated at Loyola Marymount University in order to become a certified counselor. She loves anything and anyone that will make her laugh and views sarcasm and humour as necessary tools to get through life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I love puzzles. I love learning about the brain as well as human behavior patterns. I have gravitated towards this career path since I was 18 years old. My life took a detour after I graduated college and I ended up in the music business. Music is also a passion of mine and I had the means to develop it into a career. My work in this field never tapped into my natural talent which is the foundation of my work in human sciences.
My patience and empathy level are off the charts and I harness this when I help my clients today. I am solution based which led me into life coaching and counseling after I personally had a human experience where I needed these things. My own experience taught me how to use my talents to help people get on a road map back to their lives.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
For me it is all about alignment and action. Are your actions aligned with your goals? Are your actions aligned with your morals?
People have such a natural ability to talk a big game. Social Media allows for people to pretend they are living a life which is not their actual reality. People forget that they actually haven’t achieved these things and that the experience they present to people is inauthentic. To live “on purpose” one must take a long and hard look in the mirror and ask yourself “am I living an authentic life?” Basically, are you walking the talk?
In my own life, I live on purpose when my actions match up with my words. I usually create a “One year plan” at the beginning of the year. I constantly ask myself throughout the day “Is this decision or action moving toward your goal or away from it?” In my line of work I HAVE to be congruent with my philosophies. People choose me to help them get back on track and there is no way I am going to deliver a fraudulent product. The best way to achieve this is to examine your morals, wants and needs at a deep level. Your daily actions and behaviors are on a spectrum. Ask yourself at the end of each day, “Did I move towards my goals and values or away from them?”
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
I went through a rough time about 6 years ago. I was depressed and abusing drugs & alcohol on a daily basis. I was at my bottom and had to make a change. I sought treatment and actually went through the program where I work today. I had lost who I was, my values, I had no goals. I was living in survival mode and that is a very difficult and unfulfilling way of life. I had no purpose.
I had to relearn EVERYTHING about myself. I learned new coping skills and new ways to manage my depression and anxiety that didn’t involve self-medicating. Once my brain began functioning at normal levels, I realized that I had not only the gift of gab but the ability to help people navigate similar situations.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
This is all conjecture but I believe a LOT of it has to do with the fact that our society is perfection based. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements involving male and female models and a level of sex appeal that is unattainable. Women and men strive to obtain a “perfect body” and shame themselves when they don’t turn into Gisele Bundchen.
We also have this perfectionist mentality when it comes to work. We again, strive to become millionaires and then become unhappy with our situation when that expectation is not met. Women want to be “The Perfect Woman/Wife/Love/Girlfriend/Mother” and men tend to shoot for “The Perfect Husband/Father/Provider.” I won’t even go into how social media has made this problem worse but I could write about that issue for pages.
I have traveled throughout the world and notice that other countries feel more relaxed. The sense of urgency that I feel encompasses people the United States is non-existent. Men and women aren’t rail thin and they aren’t obese either. It sort of makes me think that if we just let go of all of this need to succeed we would naturally even out in our lives, and experience more happiness.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My job is essentially helping people become their best self. I proudly say that I have a high success rate. Most of my clients end up back in their lives and are functioning at a more productive level. I believe that acts of service build self-esteem and boost feelings of fulfillment. Most of my clients end up with new rituals and habits revolving around acts of service for other people.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
I wake up every morning and think of how I can use to my day to reach my goals and help others…well not every day, but I try. The beginning of your day has a lot to do with how the rest of it goes. Have a morning ritual such as making coffee and watching the news, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Then lay out your day and prepare yourself for work using mindfulness.
Secret tip: Make your bed! I don’t know why it works or helps but I always make my bed and it tends to give me that extra boost in the morning.
2. Hang out with people that are smarter than you
You are who you spend your time with. I choose to surround myself with people who know more than me in certain, if not all, areas of life. Most of my friends, family and coworkers are people I admire and respect. In this way, I am continuously learning about myself and other people. If you hang out with lazy people that are doing the bare minimum, guess what? You will be doing this too.
3. Go to therapy or counseling
I know this sounds cliche or possibly off putting, but it is essential to work on yourself and stay in check with your mental health. A therapist/counselor is the person that will hold up the mirror to you and help you work through challenges. Most importantly, you get an opportunity to see your part in the situation from an objective source. Consistent therapy = growth. I want to be constantly growing and this practice helps me do just that.
4. Challenge yourself physically
My physical health is extremely important to me. Not only does it keep my body fit but the added endorphins really help alleviate anxiety and build my motivation. I also like to make fitness about goal acquisition. I meet small goals and then day by day add a little more to my routine. This helps build my follow through and self-esteem.
5. Set and hold boundaries
If you tend to be a people pleaser like me, I try to say yes to everyone. Even if it risks my own time or feelings. It is utterly important to learn how to say “no.” People also will learn how to respect these boundaries and you. You also won’t set yourself up for last minute flaking — and trust me, people appreciate that too. It’s also a way to protect yourself from people that will suck up all of your energy. The hardest part is to stick to the boundaries but I find like most things….practice makes perfect
6. Have compassion for other people — especially the ones that get under your skin
This one is really hard and it’s also really effective. Instead of sitting in your office stewing about something a co-worker did/said, mentally wish him/her well and move on. We don’t know what that person is going through or why he/she lashed out. It probably has nothing to do with us. So why do we drink the poison meant for someone else? Get out of yourself and your head. This tactic will save you from so much wasted energy and you will most likely be a happier person because of it.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE “Book of the Month Club.” I am a voracious reader and love all books from non-fiction period pieces to present day murder mysteries. I read quickly and don’t always have the time to hit the bookstore. This club saves me! I get them mailed once a month and you can order as many as you want. As cliche as it may be I really like work by Brene Brown, I had such painful and deep shame before I got into recovery. It was debilitating.
A counselor showed me a Ted Talk of hers and then I got a couple of her books. Life changing! I also read “Drop the Rock” by Bill P., Todd W., and Sara S. This book taught me how to let go of anger and free myself of everything that was weighing me down.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My quote is “Would you rather be happy or right?”
I think about this quote almost daily. We get so caught up in semantics and sometimes during an argument no one is bending. There is a stalemate. Is it worth it? For me, no. Now this isn’t saying “I am a doormat, walk all over me.” But when it comes to mundane and small conflict, sometimes the answer is just joining the other person where he/she is. And if you are humble enough to do this, well you are definitely living a life of “joie de vivre.”
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I actually am! I am working on expanding coaching services within the organization I work for. As part of our treatment model, therapy and coaching are often offered in conjunction with one another.
We usually treat people with mental health and/or addiction issues. However, some people seeking help may not need help with mental health and/or addiction. Rather, they are seeking to becoming their best self. They are looking for coaching and not therapy, and this is where I come in. I can’t reveal much more, but it’s very exciting and has the potential to help people on a national level.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
It would be #nomorestigma as it relates to addiction and mental health. On the addiction side, the opioid epidemic is out of control. People are dying by the hundreds of thousands. It is a true disease and people need to be educated about the hows, whys and their personal risk factor. As far as mental health is concerned, people just aren’t getting the treatment and help they need. Why do you think there are so many shootings? It really isn’t a gun control issue. It’s a mental health issue. If the stigma surrounding mental health is minimized, then people would be more likely to seek more help. I am EXTREMELY passionate about this and hope that it becomes a movement with as loud of a voice as #metoo.
Thank you, this is very inspiring!