Joie De Vivre, Living With A Ravenous Thirst For Life: “I make sure that if I don’t feel happy, I understand what’s going on” With Lisa Larsen, PsyD and Dr. Marina Kostina

I make sure that if I don’t feel happy, I understand what’s going on. Am I tired? Coming down with a cold? Thirsty? Hungry? Lonely? It may sound basic, but people often ignore their bodily needs in order to get “more important” things done like work or looking after someone else. It’s vitally important to […]

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I make sure that if I don’t feel happy, I understand what’s going on. Am I tired? Coming down with a cold? Thirsty? Hungry? Lonely? It may sound basic, but people often ignore their bodily needs in order to get “more important” things done like work or looking after someone else. It’s vitally important to pay attention to our own needs as well.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, unchallenged, and have nothing to look forward to? It doesn’t have to be that way. One idea that I always advice my clients is the concept of “Finding and Living Life Purpose”

The idea here is that often we pursue in life what the society (or our parents tell us to do). We push hard, get degrees and great jobs… and even if we accomplish all of that we still fill hollow inside.

Instead we need to find and tune it to our soul’s purpose.

Because no matter how many outward achievements we will have if we are not aligned internally we will not be fulfilled.

And when we don’t live our purpose, the universe gets involved. It starts creating circumstances that demand our shrewd actions and a sensible approach. It involves us in relationships, events, and situations that are at times painful, tragic and difficult. It molds our character to be responsive to perilous situations. It is like a wake-up call because we are pushed and made to persevere to conquer our demons. As only when we are in distress, do we learn to grow and become strong and resolute.

When you connect with your life purpose, you get on the right track, the track to self-discovery and self-worth. Your sense of self expands, all of your doubts and criticisms of others do not matter because you are connected to something bigger than you and become larger than life. You have a message to share with the world and that is precisely why your self-esteem grows.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Larsen, PsyD, licensed psychologist, hypnotist and life coach. She helps people resolve their painful past so they can live happily in the present. She practices in Lancaster, CA as well as online through SecureVideo

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 really appreciate this opportunity to communicate with you. Thank you very much!

I have a passion for helping the underdog, the person who is misjudged or treated unjustly in their families, communities or the world at large. I recall when I was in my 20’s, talking to my father about my career choice and wanting to help people with HIV/AIDS. I’d heard all these things about how scary the epidemic was, and it was a frightening time, but not because of the people with HIV. More because of the illness itself and how many lives it took. He said “why would you want to help them?” He made a disparaging remark about gay men that hurt me to my core. I decided to dedicate my life to helping people who were stigmatized because of other people’s ignorance and small-mindedness. I also saw many people traumatized by being rejected, bullied, abused and mistreated in various situations, not just because of their sexual orientation or gender identification but also their race, gender, religion, or just being in the wrong family at the wrong time. I vowed to make a difference for these people to help end their pain and improve their love of themselves and others.

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

To me, living on purpose means that a person has identified their core values and is organizing his or her life to realize those values in their lives. This helps a person find their life purpose and weed out activities and commitments that don’t align with that purpose. For instance, if someone values family, they make sure there’s enough time in their lives to spend with their spouse and family members. When they spend time with them, their attention is focused on being present with their family members rather than thinking about money, finance, or other values. It is possible to have more than one value, of course, but prioritizing activities that fulfill those values is a sign that a person is living on purpose.

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 grew up with a parent whose values were to be admired. She had to appear good all the time. She placed this above being kind, patient, consistent, and fair. Throughout the years I received many messages about my appearance and my worth as a person that were quite negative. I don’t think she would see it that way, but I grew up feeling very negative about myself. Through psychotherapy and coaching, I was able to recognize that I didn’t have to see myself through her eyes anymore. The sensitivity, empathy, kindness and intelligence that she seemed to disregard or criticize in me were actually my strengths. The desire to help those who were hurting was my purpose. She made sure I got an education, had straight teeth and good manners, but was not that concerned with my moral character or my spiritual development. So I had to take it upon myself to become a healer of myself and others.

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?

I believe that we struggle with the dichotomy between hedonism and immediate gratification on one hand, and the puritan work ethic on the other. We veer from over-indulgence of our immediate whims and appetites, to austerity, deprivation, and slavish devotion to making a living. There does not seem to be much emphasis on helping others just for the joy of being kind and loving, and realizing that the love we put out comes back tenfold. There is not much room for moderation, for satisfaction with what we have. Instead we emphasize our bank accounts, our waistlines, achieving incredible heights incredibly fast. We don’t place much value on enjoying the journey to our goals, just on achieving the goal period.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have only recently seen myself as successful, although my husband assures me that I am. I am helping about 30 people a week adjust to life on life’s terms, to borrow a phrase from the 12 step community. I am giving my compassion, my knowledge and my skills to people who are hurting and wanting to accept themselves and life itself. I am trying to be a conscious consumer and citizen of this planet. I speak up when I see injustice, I vote, and I try to treat everyone with the same respect, kindness and love that I would want to be treated with myself. I don’t always succeed but if I can be a source of unconditional love for my fellow humans, then I consider myself successful and living on purpose.

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?

Having joy when we get up in the morning seems dependent on a number of factors, physical, mental and spiritual. Physical comfort, such as being adequately fed, hydrated, and free of aches and pain, can contribute to feeling happy and good. However, even people who experience chronic pain and physical difficulty can still have a sense of merriment. The late Dr. Milton Erickson came to mind. He was confined to a wheelchair in his old age, regularly felt pain. Nonetheless, he had the ability to laugh at life and at himself. He also had a sense of purpose, which can help people have joy in their lives. It seems to help people both emotionally and physically, to have a purpose. He brought his creativity and his keen observation of people to healing people through hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. He’s one of my heroes.

One exercise that I think helps a great deal in cultivating happiness is taken from Christopher Peterson’s book, A Primer in Positive Psychology. To paraphrase, a person keeps a journal for at least two weeks of how well their days go each day. They rate the quality of their experience on a scale of 1–10, 10 being the best, and then figure out what they did to make the day go well. Then once they see a pattern of what makes their day go well, they keep those habits up and incorporate more of those into their daily life.

When I stretch and exercise in the morning as well as meditate or pray, it helps me set the stage for a good day. I meditate on what I want physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially and relationally and then I ask Source to use me to do its will and spread unconditional love throughout the planet in whatever way I can. Then I ask Source to fill me with its healing energy and expand that energy throughout my home, neighborhood, city, county, state, country, continent, planet, and finally throughout the universe. This helps me live on purpose, in a sense, while also healing myself on all levels.

Summarizing what I am grateful for in my life also increases the joy in my life. Knowing that I get to serve my clients and my community gives me a lift and helps me get over petty grumbling that might come up when things aren’t exactly going right for me.

I make sure that if I don’t feel happy, I understand what’s going on. Am I tired? Coming down with a cold? Thirsty? Hungry? Lonely? It may sound basic, but people often ignore their bodily needs in order to get “more important” things done like work or looking after someone else. It’s vitally important to pay attention to our own needs as well.

I also manage my expectations. If I look at my life as half-empty and focus on all the things that are not going well, I am destined to be dissatisfied, unhappy and grumpy. If I focus on the beauty and goodness in life, I train my brain to follow that path. As Dr. Rick Hanson says, “whatever fires together wires together.” As anyone starts to cultivate a focus on what is good and right with their lives, those neural pathways are easier to fire. He related an old Cherokee story in his book, Buddha’s Brain that talks about two wolves living inside us. One wolf represents our goodwill and the other represents ill will and malice. They struggle within all of us, but the one that wins is the one we feed. Every now and then throughout the day, we can ask ourselves, which wolf am I feeding now? How am I feeding it? Which one do I want to win? This might be a helpful way to keep on track to experience joy and fulfill our spiritual purpose to love ourselves and others unconditionally.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

The book mentioned above, Buddha’s Brain, has been useful to me to grow as a clinician as well as spiritually. I am interested in the mind-body-spirit connection and recently read Tara Brach’s book, True Refuge, which is very satisfying, as well as Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion. I am fond of the podcast by Krista Tiplett, On Being. Basically I am a sucker for mindfulness and spirituality blended with psychotherapy and self-help, but quality books and practices. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Llama, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and other authors are also great to lift me up. There are so many it’s hard to fit them all here. I am also enjoying learning more and more about hypnosis and reading everything I can get my hands on by Milton Erickson, who as I mentioned before is one of my heroes.

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?

Years ago, I heard a quote that “you’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” I believe that no matter how old you are, keep learning, keep growing, and discover new strengths and abilities constantly. This keeps our minds, bodies and souls fresh and alive.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am currently honing my skills as a therapist and hypnotist, but also working on a workshop that I will give in my local spiritual center. The workshop is about self-acceptance and how to love ourselves unconditionally in spite of all the negative messages that we receive from our environments. We internalize that garbage and we keep feeding it to ourselves. It is holding us back and we need to heal from it, move through it, and resolve it so we can live up to our full potential. This workshop is just the tip of the iceberg, and I think if I can deliver this workshop to many different people in different venues, then people can start to believe in themselves and contribute to the greater whole. When they feel strong, they can help others grow strong and whole as well.

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. 🙂

Thank you. I have so many ideas for this it will be hard to narrow it down to just one. Lately I have been very sad about homelessness and the poor quality of water because of how we pollute our planet. If we could find a way to create ways to make a living for low-income and indigent people that improve the condition of the planet for all living creatures — that would be fantastic! I’m not sure how to combine these two goals, but I would love to see clean, safe drinking water for everyone on this planet. I think there is no reason that with all the wealth on this planet, we should have people who are hungry, without a home, and without a meaningful way to contribute to the greater good. Maybe a microloan program for people in under-developed areas that helped clean up their drinking water would be good, or investing in low-income housing as a financial instrument (like a mutual fund). The possibilities are endless, if we put our minds and hearts into it.

About The Author:

Dr. Marina Kostina is a life and business fulfillment coach. She uses research and energy work to help professional women find their purpose and turn it into a profitable business. Dr. Kostina incorporates innovative marketing strategies and the creation of engaging, lucrative online courses to scale their businesses. As a result they enjoy what she describes as a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that come naturally to those who dare to be authentic. Her book “Find the G-Spot of Your Soul” is available January 2018. Download a free gift from Dr. Kostina- an MP3 Meditation Album “Find The G –Spot Of Your Soul” and get unstuck.

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