Morning mindset: Every morning before your feet hit the floor think of at least one thing you’re looking forward to that day. You’ll start your day off with a dose of positive momentum!
As a part of my series about “How To Learn To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Lisa Dimino White. Most people are pretty darn amazing and too often don’t recognize their own greatness….Lisa’s on a mission to change that. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, and event management, Lisa now focuses solely on her passion — inspiring others to actively seek out and create more joy for themselves, their communities, and all of humankind. She does this through her speaking engagements, coaching programs, her recently released book Bursting with Happiness, and Bursting with Happiness: The Podcast. Learn more here.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
I’ve always loved helping others. I would get the most satisfaction at work when I was able to ease someone else’s burden, solve their problem, or provide an idea that they hadn’t previously considered. I finally decided to dedicate myself to helping others with the one thing that I believe can make them happier than they ever thought possible….finding more joy.
During the COVID-19 quarantine back in the spring I wrote the book “Bursting with Happiness,” which focuses on how “bursts of joy” can change our lives and the lives of everyone around us. By incorporating more “bursts” into our daily routines we can “level up” our happiness and live the life that we want and deserve.
In addition to my book I also share this message by giving motivational talks (virtually, right now!) and through my individual and group coaching programs.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
Yes! I just launched Bursting with Happiness: The Podcast as another vehicle to remind people to seek out and add those bursts of joy to their lives regularly. “Bursts of joy” are simply the activities or pastimes that put us in a positive mindset. When we’re stressed or want to add a little bit of sunshine to an otherwise cloudy day, we know that these will do the trick. They make us laugh or help us relax. The more bursts of joy we incorporate into our daily routines the happier we are.
You may assume that you already know everything that brings you joy. And maybe you do. But then again, maybe you don’t. Sure, there are those old favorites that you know will do the trick — anything by U2 puts you in a great mood, knitting calms your mind, and old episodes of Friends always crack you right up. But consider the possibility that there may be other, as-of-now undiscovered activities that could also bring you joy if you took the time to look for them.
This is where the importance of self-awareness comes in. Just because you didn’t like something/activity/ a pastime in the past does not mean that you wouldn’t like that thing/ activity/ pastime now. Too often we get stuck going through the motions and not branching out a bit to discover who we are now; instead we just rely on who we’ve always been. Part of living a happy life is being open to the possibility that “current you” could enjoy things that “previous you” never would have.
Here’s an example: I’ve never really been into musicals or history (it was my least favorite subject in school.) But when Hamilton started streaming on Disney+ I figured, “what the heck?” I decided to watch it, fully expecting to turn it off after 20 minutes, but I ended up loving it! It has brought a ton of joy to my life — whenever I need a little burst I cue up “You’ll Be Back” and all is well. But what if I had been more indignant in my belief that there was no way that I could possibly like it? I would have missed out on a lot of joy.
Always be open to the possibility of learning something new about yourself — especially when the risk of trying something new (or something that you haven’t tried in years) is low.
For example, do you not care for sushi but the last time you tried it George W. was president? Give it a taste the next time you go out — you may still not care for it but then again, you may!
Do you hate skiing, but haven’t done since you were a kid? If a friend offers you his extra lift ticket this winter, consider going! What’s the worst that can happen? You spend a day doing something that you don’t enjoy. At least now you know.
Hate everything about football? Maybe you’ve never even watched a game. The next time you’re channel surfing and see a game on, stop and watch it for a few minutes. You may still be uninterested, but it may actually pique your interest. (This happened to me about ten years ago…..life-changing!)
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?
Since I was six years old I’ve struggled with anxiety, fear, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Despite that, I’m one of the most optimistic and positive people you’ll ever meet. I know that my challenges don’t define me — I decide how I want to live my life, and I choose to live it in joy and inspire others to do the same. You see, we all have challenges, struggles, and issues that we’re dealing with. Too often people don’t think that they can truly be happy until they resolve all of those challenges, struggles, and issues. I strongly disagree. Of course the challenges, struggles, and issues that are keeping you from living the life that you want to live need to be dealt with and improved (even slight improvements can make a huge difference), but for the other things that don’t really matter in the big picture of life let them go. The key is to be able to tell which category our struggles fall into.
For example, as someone with OCD, when the COVID-19 nightmare began back in the spring I freaked out. I’ve always been a germaphobe, but this caused me to feel next-level fear and anxiety. I locked my family and me inside and refused to let us go anywhere until a cure was found. The challenge, as you can imagine, was that locking oneself down completely is nearly impossible, and I have two kids who are 12 and 8, so you can imagine how hard that was on them.
All was going according to plan until Mother’s Day. My parents (who I hadn’t seen since the virus began) came over for a socially-distanced visit on our back deck. I was very uncomfortable but did my best to get through it because they wanted to see us (even if we couldn’t get close to each other.) We all sat ten feet apart (because if the recommendation was six feet then ten was better.) About thirty minutes into their visit my dad had to use the bathroom. I wouldn’t let him inside my house to go.
They left. I cried.
That day I realized that I couldn’t go on like this because I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and we didn’t know how long this would go on. Could I live like this for another six months? Another year? No way. And my kids couldn’t either.
I got professional help and started incorporating low-risk activities into our daily routines, of course being as safe as possible while doing them (continuing to wear masks, washing and sanitizing our hands, social distancing, etc.) The bottom line is I needed to be ok with assuming a little bit of risk to keep my family and me mentally healthy.
I’m now able to do the simple things that I had always taken for granted — going to get groceries, filling my gas tank, having my parents visit with us on the deck outside (while sitting a normal six feet apart), letting my kids visit with certain friends outside while maintaining a safe distance. The ability to do these things is making a huge difference in how we’re handling this difficult time. It’s a lot of hard work for me; it would have been easier to just stay in total isolation, but it wasn’t the right choice for my family. Just a few short months ago, I didn’t think I would be able to do what I’m doing. The fact that I’m doing it, despite not wanting to, reminded me that I’m stronger than I think I am, and I’ll bet you’re stronger than you think you are, too.
Ask yourself if your challenge, struggle, or issue is keeping you from living the life you want. If it is, make a plan to improve it. If it’s not, let it go. For example, I’m currently struggling with my fitness. (I’m not comfortable going to the gym these days.) Yes, I know that I always feel better when I work out, and I do go for walks and the occasional bike ride, but right now I don’t have the drive to commit to a regular workout regimen. And I’m ok with that. By acknowledging that while this is something I’m struggling with but it’s not keeping me from living a happy life, the pressure is off. It’s ok that this is something that I won’t focus my energy on right now.
The key is to revisit the things that you’ve put into the “not now” category every once in a while, to make sure that they’re still not keeping you from experiencing maximum happiness. There will come a time, I’m sure, when the need to get my fitness routine back in line will keep me from being as happy as I know I can be. That’s when I’ll create a plan to work on it.
Remember, it’s ok that not everything is perfect; release yourself from the expectation that every area in your life has to be ideal. I’m a terrible cook, yet it doesn’t keep me from living the quality of life that I want. I accept that about me. Maybe someday I’ll want to improve that skill but for now, I’m ok with not being good at it.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others. The way others look, what they have, their talents, their accomplishments, their possessions. Just open up any social media outlet and it’s all right there. Too much pressure is placed on appearances. It’s just one component of who we are as individuals. The bigger issue is our inability to recognize our own awesomeness.
Yes, there are others that are more attractive than you, but there are other things about you that are amazing. And go deeper than the surface stuff. Are you a kind person? That’s huge, because kindness is so important. Are you a dedicated parent? Amazing, because raising kids is not easy. Are you a good listener? That’s so important, because most people aren’t.
Whatever talents, skills, or gifts you have, don’t assume that everyone can do them, because they can’t. It may be hard to believe, but there are things about you that make others jealous. That person you’re comparing yourself to may be more attractive or live in a nicer house than you, but is she as amazing at knitting as you are? What about what an incredible cook you are? Or how about your ability to run a 5k without even breaking a sweat? You’re awesome in your own ways — don’t downplay them. You’re more amazing than you think you are.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
When we accept who we are, struggles and all, we love ourselves enough to intentionally and consistently seek out those bursts of joy. The truth is that we control our joy — and we deserve to be as happy as we can be.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
I believe some people would rather be in a mediocre relationship because they think that’s better than being alone. Being alone isn’t a bad thing; especially when you create a life that brings you joy.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
The question to ask is “Is (fill in the blank) keeping me from being as happy as I know I can be?” If the answer is yes, then come up with a plan to work toward fixing, solving, or improving that whatever it is. If not, then accept that perceived shortcoming of who you are and just own it. Not every perceived shortcoming has to be changed….for one person becoming a C-level executive might be super important and anything less than that is a failure, whereas for someone else it’s not even on their radar. Just because something is important to someone else doesn’t mean that it has to be for you.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
Some people crave solitude, while others can’t stand the quiet. I would suggest everyone use those solidarity moments to participate in activities that bring them joy; whether it’s the calming kind or the kind that simply makes you smile. We don’t need other people to create those bursts of joy for us (although it’s lovely when they do); instead, we are responsible for creating them for ourselves, regularly and frequently.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
When we’re happy and feeling joyful, we’re more likely to spread that positive energy to those around us. Personally, when I’m in a positive mindset I intentionally seek out ways to create bursts for friends, acquaintances, and even strangers!
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
Drop the expectation that you have to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. And those people that you’re jealous of that you think have everything together? They don’t. They have struggles too…..they just don’t let you see them.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
1. The CARE model
C: Change (or improve) whatever it is that’s keeping you from being as happy as you know you can be.
A: Accept: Accept the shortcomings that are not keeping you from being as happy as you know you can be.
R: Reassess: Reassess what it is that brings “current you” joy.
E: Embrace: Embrace whatever it is that brings you those bursts of joy — do those things as often as you can. (Enjoy singing? Listen to more music, or post-COVID join a choir in your community!)
2. “Reduce the stink”: There are chores or activities that we have to do in life that stink; we dread them. Ask yourself if there is a way to make them stink a little less. For example, a friend of mine had to move her daughter’s boxes out of a storage unit into her new apartment. She was dreading it, so to make it less miserable she rented a cherry red Mustang convertible and used that to move the boxes. She had to make more trips because the car could only hold a certain number of boxes, but she did it with the top down and her favorite music playing and ended up having a great day!
3. Morning mindset: Every morning before your feet hit the floor think of at least one thing you’re looking forward to that day. You’ll start your day off with a dose of positive momentum!
4. Create a burst of joy for someone close to you: Does your spouse love action movies but you’re only into dramas? Surprise him or her by letting them choose the movie tonight and don’t complain about whatever they pick. Be interested, enthusiastic, and try to like it (who knows, you just might!) It’ll bring them a huge burst of joy. Have a friend who has an important meeting on Tuesday? Send her a quick text that morning wishing her luck. She’ll feel a burst knowing that you thought of her.
5. Create a burst for a stranger: During these tough times it’s easy to feel disconnected from others. Next time you’re out and about, seek out an opportunity to connect with a stranger. See someone wearing a sweatshirt with your favorite football team’s logo on it? Share a comment about how well (or not so well) the team is doing this season. See a mom pushing her little one in a stroller? Tell her how cute her baby is. Or simply say “hello” to someone when passing them in a hallway or grocery store aisle. The goal is to create a quick connection with another human being, which can create a brief — yet important — burst for both of you.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson — how to succeed during difficult conversations.
The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins — helps remind us to not procrastinate; just move!
Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg — inspires us to get engaged and be a part of the action.
Inspirational Living — an incredible reminder of amazing people from the past.
Success Talks — valuable interviews with successful and inspirational people.
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? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
The belief that kindness toward others matters more than we realize. As I mentioned in previously, interactions with strangers can seem insignificant, but matter so much. During times when so many people are divided in their beliefs, opinions, and actions it’s important to be kind to others to remind us that we’re all on the same team….the human team.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
“Sometimes good enough really is good enough.” This is a constant reminder for me when I feel pressured to do everything perfectly. I don’t have the time, resources, or brainpower to try to excel at everything. It’s important to know that for the important things — the things that matter — I’m going to do the very best that I can. But for the things that don’t really matter — and most things don’t — I’m not going to worry about them so much.
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!