Lucy Alibar is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for Beasts of the Southern Wild, which also won a BAFTA, the Narrative Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Humanitas Prize. Her recent film, Troop Zero, premiered as an Amazon original starring Allison Janney, McKenna Grace, and Viola Davis and is quickly becoming a cult favorite.
Her secret life hack is focusing on the big picture and it shows. Alibar shares how she deals with stress, reframes negative thinking and the ways she improved her connection with others.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? Do you have a time saving trick for the morning?
Lucy Alibar: I brush my teeth and then do a guided meditation with my dog. I love sitting still and getting focused, but I couldn’t do it if I didn’t brush my teeth first. I’d feel like a monster.
TG: What gives you energy?
LA: Thinking about the big picture of what I want to accomplish this year, this month, this week. Taking my dog for a walk and seeing how much he enjoys being alive.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
LA: Focusing on the big picture.
TG: How do you deal with email?
LA: I love an empty inbox.
TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
LA: I’d tell my younger self not to stress about stress. My own journey with stress has been to see it as an enemy, and then I would just be stressed about being stressed. Now I’m (usually!) able to notice it. Once I notice it, it usually goes away.
TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?
LA: I think of “thriving” as living intentionally, in a way that you’ll be proud of and in a way that gives you energy. My best friends, Brian and Melissa, both teach me to laugh off the silly things that would otherwise annoy me. I will say that the happiest, most thriving people I know all take naps, and maybe that’s the secret to a thriving life that I haven’t cracked yet. Naps when I was a kid were a punishment, and I’ve never been able to shake it.
TG: With so many distractions and interruptions coming at us throughout the day. What are your tips to stay focused?
LA: I have to move around, so I’ll break up all my work into three hour chunks and get in a workout, a walk, etc., in between.
TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?
LA: Being outside.
TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?
LA: I think it depends on how one defines “negative.” I think of negative as getting stuck in a spiral, instead of looking for a solution. I always like to ask myself, “What are my options? What do I want out of this?”
TG: What brings you optimism?
LA: Young people like Mari Copeny, Greta Thunberg, and Autumn Peltier. Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters. They’re teaching all of us how to fight injustice and to relentlessly work for a better world.
TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how do you sustain this habit?
LA: A long time ago, my friend told me to “eliminate self-consciousness by focusing on the other person.” It was a game changer. Human beings are incredible and interesting and illogical, so each individual person you meet can surprise you.
TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?
LA: Deciding to try screenwriting.
TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?
LA: I have to pull away from work about two hours before I go to bed or I’ll dream about it. Which isn’t nearly as productive or fun as it sounds. So now I’ll watch something positive and funny, like “Schitt’s Creek” or “The Great British Baking Show,” and tuck my dog in (he likes to be carried into bed if it’s after 8 p.m.).