Make time for stillness. Whether it’s a few minutes to focus on your breath or a quick nap, plan a little break into your schedule. Whatever it is should serve to quiet your mind and let go of your stresses for a few moments. This small action will get you out of your head and into your body.
It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michaela Hastings.
Michaela Hastings is a professional tarot reader who’s reading style specializes in manifestation, personal growth and development, and living a purpose-filled life. She is not only a tarot reader, but has a background in personal training and has a B.S. in Health Promotion Studies with a concentration in wellness management. Her mission as a reader is to encourage everyone to go after their dreams because when they do so, they inspire other people to do the same. Which means, by doing the things that they love, people can have a lasting impact on the world. You can follow more of her work at www.Empowered-Tarot.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Sure! I grew up in Connecticut in a lower-middle class family. Although we didn’t have a ton of money growing up, my parents always made sure that we knew we were loved, and were always provided for. I actually grew up riding horses. My parents couldn’t afford lessons so they would volunteer at the farm that I rode at so that I could live out my dreams. This sparked my desire to always find a way to do the things that I love to do.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My best friend, Jessica, actually inspired me to pursue my career. I actually met her when I was a personal trainer and we became close friends. She was a yoga teacher and had finally had enough with the drama of yoga studios so she decided to branch out on her own. She started a Youtube channel, an Instagram, and a membership platform for her yoga students which was super inspiring to watch her build it.
She noticed that I had a real knack for tarot reading and would always ask me to pull cards. She would always show me other spiritual based accounts and was always like, “You could do this!!”.
After years of working as a personal trainer and an indoor rock climbing coach, I realized that tarot reading was my path and I was naturally gifted to do intuitive work. I’m not sure I would’ve had the courage to start it without all of her love and encouragement.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My boyfriend, Brian, has been my biggest source of encouragement. We started dating a few years ago and we have always supported each other’s endeavors.
We are actually complete opposites but he goes out of his way to promote me and support me in any way that he can. He’s a mechanical engineer so his thinking is always very logical and innovative so he really helps me translate my spiritual ideas into something tangible and concrete.
He even started teaching himself to code so that he can build me a website which is funny because in one of the courses he was taking, he had to “practice” building pages for a tarot website. I like to look at it as confirmation that it’s meant to be.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
When I first started, I was actually terrified to tell people that I was a tarot reader. I assumed that people would judge me and think I was weird, or worse that I was scamming people. I really found out that my friends and family were all super accepting of it, even if they didn’t understand it.
People were really happy for me because they could tell how much I loved it. In hindsight it’s so silly that I thought this way because it was all of my own judgments that actually held me back, not anyone else.
It was a great lesson to get out of my own way.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Right now, I am really into the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. I love the idea that everyone is the hero in their own life story and that we all have so much potential brimming inside of us. So I created an hour-long tarot reading that dives into my client’s personal hero’s journey.
We go over not just the potential of what they can expect, but also what challenges they may face, where they should look for aid if they need it, and real tangible action steps to get them on their way. It isn’t meant to be a spread that determines if you’ll be successful because in the end that’s the client’s job, but rather it’s an initial blueprint to get people started.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I am an individual to my core. My entire life I’ve always stood out. My mom actually always told me that she thought that I went out of my way to be different. It’s not just about how I dress, which honestly isn’t too out there, but it’s my beliefs and my character. I don’t really fit into the status quo. I think this trait really helped me to be bold and it’s certainly helped me get to where I’m at. I’ve found comfort in knowing that I’m different and I can help others who feel the same way.
I am also highly-motivated. When I was 18, I decided that I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I went all in and was certified before the end of the year. I worked as a personal trainer for ten years and even owned my own business. I also decided at one point to be a rock climbing coach despite never climbing before. But I taught myself and two years later, began coaching which I did for four years. I love to set goals and then go after them. I thrive in these situations.
I am extremely empathetic which makes me extremely good at what I do. I don’t sit and feel sorry for clients. Rather I can put myself into their shoes and really meet them where they’re at in life before giving them action steps to move forward.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
I actually struggled with depression a lot in life. Even from a very young age when I was surrounded by love, I still dealt with incredible sadness and anger. I’ve worked with psychologists over the years and nothing really helped me until I found my spiritual path. And it’s not like I believe that we all need religion, I just think this path made me realize that happiness was an inside job. Anytime my depression returns, I can see that I am super disconnected from myself and I need to make my mental health a priority.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?
I think that our culture focuses so much on being busy and productive all the time and a lot of us are walking around, hyped-up on caffeine, with minimal time/energy for self-care. Let’s also not forget that there is a large amount of economic stress on many Americans as well so many times, self-care is a privilege. Americans are just consistently burned out.
What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
The one thing that I want to point out is that many spiritual teachers will have people thinking that to be happy, that they need to be thinking positively all the time. Not only is this belief not helpful, but it’s actually harmful.
In the tarot, we have the sun card which is the happiest card in the deck. It’s usually depicted as a baby riding a white horse surrounded by sunflowers. It represents a deep level of happiness.
But the sun card comes after the hardest cards in the deck which are death (and rebirth), and the tower. This means that we can only get to that level of happiness after we’ve gone through challenging times and processed them correctly.
Only thinking positively all the time is really like putting a bandaid on a broken arm. We have to explore those tough thoughts, and work through them, to find happiness. And if you need a therapist to do so safely, then I absolutely recommend working with one.
In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?
People try to make a lot of changes really quickly. While I tend to go all in when I get excited about something, I still take smaller steps to do so.
Many of us think that if we want to start meditating, we have to do it for 30 minutes daily but then get frustrated because we can’t do it.
Instead, we should start for five minutes a day for five days a week. (Fun fact: I don’t meditate on weekends. I like to give myself regular breaks).
But basically, we do too much too soon and it completely derails us. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
I also think that people don’t appreciate the journey as much as they do the end goal. Which means that we think we will only be happy when we finally lose the weight, or when we retire, etc. However, there’s so much to enjoy in our day to day lives. Usually once we hit our goals, then we appreciate the work that we did. But why not appreciate it now? Why do we have to wait to be happy? (The answer is we don’t have to wait to be happy!)
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)
1) Make time for stillness. Whether it’s a few minutes to focus on your breath or a quick nap, plan a little break into your schedule. Whatever it is should serve to quiet your mind and let go of your stresses for a few moments. This small action will get you out of your head and into your body.
2) Drink plenty of water and eat regularly. I know that this advice is all over the internet but it’s because it’s true. When you’re hydrated you feel better. If you drink coffee all day, make sure that you’re also drinking water to balance it out. For every cup of coffee, try to drink a glass of water. And no it doesn’t have to be all at once.
Also eating regularly will keep your blood sugar balanced so you are less likely to have mood swings throughout the day. Plus, these healthy habits will make you feel better about yourself in general. Just remember to start small!
3) Journal most nights. I find journaling to be one the best exercises for my mental health. When doing it right before bed, it helps me to get all of my thoughts out so that I can fall asleep with ease. It also helps me to solve problems and get to know myself better. When we get to know ourselves, we can make better choices about what we want in life.
Pro tip: Use an oracle deck when you journal to sum up everything you need to know. Oracle decks tend to have a more uplifting vibe to them versus tarot decks that can seem intimidating if you don’t know how to use them. An oracle deck can give you an affirmation to help you relax and focus your attention on what you need at that moment.
4) Focus on one thing at a time. We are chronic multi-taskers which is actually a paradox. When we focus on more than one thing at a time, we aren’t actually doing that. Rather, we’re giving multiple projects less energy, which means they don’t come out as well.
If we take time to focus on one thing at a time, we do that thing really well, which will also boost our endorphins. We are also less stressed because we are letting our minds actually focus on the task at hand versus stressing about what we have to do. Lists are our friends. Prioritize and act accordingly.
5) Make time for joy. I realize that this one is the most important, and a no-brainer, but it also comes with a lot of privilege. Growing up, my parents worked five jobs between them and volunteered at the farm so that I could ride horses, and take care of my brothers and I. They didn’t have a lot of time for joy. So they would swap. My mom would schedule in one night a month to get to her ceramics classes, and my dad would spend a couple hours on Friday evenings working in his garage.
We may not get to wake up everyday and do everything that we love all day and that’s just a fact of life. But it will help you immensely if you can take some time for yourself when you can. When our cup is full, we can fill others.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
I think the most important thing is not to cast judgement. It can be frustrating when we see someone that we care about going through a hard time but try to give them the support that they need by telling them just that. And then make sure that you are actually there for them when they need it.
We all process differently so be mindful not to project your feelings onto them. Let them tell you what they need.
If you have someone who you think might hurt themselves, then please reach out to a mental health professional and ask for their advice.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I honestly would love to see people go after their dreams. I didn’t know at a young age what I wanted to do in life but I always followed my passions. It’s my belief that when we follow our dreams, that we inspire countless others to do the same. This is why I’ve made it my life work to see people do just that. I want to see people connected to themselves, and living authentically without a fear of judgement from others.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would love to meet Ronda Rousey. She is probably one of the most inspiring athletes of all time to me. Even though her career as a fighter wasn’t super long, I loved how she went after her dream with everything she had. And she showed that it was ok to evolve and change your mind about what you want in life.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website is www.Empowered-Tarot.com.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!