Do Random Acts of Kindness. A new study from the University of Hong Kong shows random acts of kindness can help boost your mood. Send an Instagram or Facebook message, a genuine compliment, to three people right now. Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for a friend who is going through a difficult time. Give someone something personal of yours that you think they’d like that you are not using anymore.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mindset Coach and Happiness Expert, Jennifer Grace.
Jennifer Grace is a Mindset Coach and Happiness Expert, who teaches her clients how to use mindfulness and emotional intelligence to overcome obstacles, cultivate their vision and transform their lives. She uses the “CIJ Clarity Catalyst” based on the famed Stanford University Master’s Degree Course “Creativity in Business” to empower people with practical and proven techniques to take their personal and professional lives to the next level.
As a world-renowned coach, Ted X Speaker and Hay House Published Author (Directing Your Destiny) Jennifer works with corporations including Prada, Facebook, Turner, HCI, Whycode, and Entrepreneur Organization.
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 at a crossroads in my life after leaving my work as a SAG actress and my marriage of 7 years. For two years I desperately tried to “find my purpose.” I started 6 companies, made 6 logos, 6 websites, and ultimately had 6 failures. I was trying to please everyone around me and do too many things at once. When the alimony settlement ran out and the start-up companies never reached their finish, I reached out to my mom who suggested I take a coaching course. This 8-week life changing course was first taught at Stanford University by Dr. Michael Ray and taken out of the classroom and into the world in 2002. Jim Collins, one of the world’s leading authorities on personal development, called it “the most profoundly life changing course taught at the Stanford Graduate School.”
During my own Journey as a student taking the 8-week curriculum I realized that this was my purpose, to get certified to teach this course, and bring it to students in South Florida.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I am always a firm believer that failure is not an option. That if you do not reach your goal on the first, third, or tenth try, you brush yourself off and try again. When I first submitted my book to Hay House to become published by them, they rejected me. Most would give up and go home. I was committed and clear that I wanted Hay House to be my publisher. I went back and asked lots of people in the literary world to look at my book proposal to see where I could improve it…they all told me the same thing: The proposal was great, but I needed a bigger platform. So, I hit my FB and Twitter, got my numbers up, and I even got myself booked on a National Television show talking about the book I had written. I re submitted my book proposal to Hay House and they said YES! Next thing I knew, they gave me a Radio Show and my time slot was in between Ester Hicks and Wayne Dyer…my career skyrocketed. Moral of the story..dare to suck, fail, and fall on your face…eventually it will lead you to greatness.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
To have a daily practice of mindfulness, meditation, and reflective writing…or at least 30 minutes a day of quiet “me time”.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
To communicate compassionately with one another. To not blame, shame, and criticize. To “take it to the source”. If you have an issue with someone, let them know how you feel…not everyone else at work.
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 Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer — in one of the last chapters he speaks about the quickest path to enlightenment is that no matter what your circumstance is…that you could still be happy. I remember a really hard time that I had with my son when he turned 15, with hormones raging he began to take all of his anger and frustration about being a teenager out on me. It got so bad that we had him go live with his dad. When he left, I thought I would die without my kid. Reading Michael’s book had me realize that even in the worst of times…we could still choose to be happy. Although I felt tremendous sadness and I missed my son, I would still focus on the things that I did have in my life that brought me joy. Within six months he came back home and we have never been closer. This book was lifesaving for me during this time.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
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?
Step #1 Create a Joy Jar. Write out 10–20 things that bring you joy on small pieces of paper, fold them up and put them in a mason jar. Decorate it with fun stickers. Anytime you are feeling sad or lonely, pick out one from the joy jar, and just do it. Some ideas could be: Create a playlist of uplifting songs to rock out to, call up a friend who always makes you smile, snuggle with your pet, watch a funny movie with someone you love, and many more activities that are simple, and best of all, FREE. Studies have shown activities like these activate dopamine and endorphins in the brain, which make you happier.
More on the science behind this Happiness Hack:How and Why Positive Activities Can Make You Happier – Behavioral ScientistMost people want to be happy. It is a desire that transcends age, culture, geographical location, political belief…behavioralscientist.org
Step #2 Set Your Alarm for “Worry Time” If you want to keep worrying at bay, you can schedule “Worry Time” as an appointment on your phone for 8pm every night. All day long, when a worry arises, you simply say to yourself, “I’ll set that aside for worry time.” Then, replace the worry with one thing that you are grateful for in the here and now. At 8pm, when the “Worry TIme” alarm goes off, you have 30 minutes to worry. What usually happens is, you begin to laugh at the absurdity of sitting down to specifically worry. Eventually, you will have saved yourself an entire day of anxiety! Research shows shifting your thoughts from worry to gratitude boosts serotonin levels in the brain, which can make you happier.
More on the science behind this Happiness Hack:How Gratitude Shapes Your Brain – Dr. Alex KorbMany years ago when I first heard about the power of gratitude, I was highly skeptical. I mean it sounds nice and all…alexkorbphd.com
Step #3 Do Random Acts of Kindness. A new study from the University of Hong Kong shows random acts of kindness can help boost your mood. Send an Instagram or Facebook message, a genuine compliment, to three people right now. Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for a friend who is going through a difficult time. Give someone something personal of yours that you think they’d like that you are not using anymore.
More on the science behind this Happiness Hack:
Step #4 Get Out Into Nature: Nature has an amazing way of balancing us and helping us appreciating the simple things in life… like sunsets. Studies have shown that people who live near larger areas of green space reported less stress and showed greater declines in cortisol levels over the course of the day. A great practice is to go on a 15-minute mindfulness walk either in your neighborhood, the park, or by a body of water…but before you leave… pick one color, like yellow, orange, or purple. Do not bring your phone! And for 15 minutes during your “Mindful Color Walk” simply look for that color! Anytime thoughts of future or past come in, let them go and come back to looking for your color! The present moment is where peace and happiness live!
More on the science behind this Happiness Hack: NCBI – WWW Error Blocked DiagnosticYour access to the NCBI website at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov has been temporarily blocked due to a possible misuse/abuse…www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Step # 5 Do Something Creative: As we grow older many adults no longer identify with being “creative” and declare that their finger-painting days are over! Yet, creativity can help lower stress and anxiety and give you a sense of purpose, researchers say. … According to a recent study out of New Zealand, engaging in creative activities contributes to an “upward spiral” of positive emotions, psychological well-being and feelings of “flourishing” in life. So, grab that iPhone and go take some black and white photos, or write a poem to your partner, or go to the beach with your kids and make an epic sandcastle!
More on the science behind this Happiness Hack: Creative activities promote day-to-day wellbeingEveryday creative activity may lead to an “upward spiral” of increased wellbeing and creativity in young adults, new…www.sciencedaily.com
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Meditation has been shown to lower cortisol levels and raise serotonin the happy hormone. Talk to a friend, not so much for advice but to work out your anxiety out loud. Get a coach or a therapist.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“If you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only be happy, you will become enlightened. Unconditional happiness is the highest technique there is. This is truly a spiritual path, and it is as direct and sure a path to Awakening as could possibly exist.” — Michael A. Singer
*** The story above about me and my son relates to this.
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. 🙂
That Mindfulness is considered just as important as Math in our school systems. Which is why I did a Ted X talk about this very topic.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
www.jennifergrace.com on Instagram @theJenniferGrace
GIFT For the Readers: How to Overcome Anxiety Toolkit and a Meditation for Insomnia: www.jennifergrace.com/mygift
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!