Rick Ornelas of I Spark Change: “View things through a “Positive Lens””

View things through a “Positive Lens”- This tactic called Positive reframing is consciously thinking happy thoughts.It literally re-wires you brain to be more positive. A perfect example for everyone is being quarantined during pandemic. At first glance many of us thought it was terrible as did my family. Once my family became grateful for the […]

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View things through a “Positive Lens”- This tactic called Positive reframing is consciously thinking happy thoughts.It literally re-wires you brain to be more positive. A perfect example for everyone is being quarantined during pandemic. At first glance many of us thought it was terrible as did my family. Once my family became grateful for the time that we had we started new activities like long family walks to connect and appreciate one another.


As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.

What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?

One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Ornelas.

Rick Ornelas is an author, professional coach, and founder of I Spark Change who teaches men and women to unlock their amazing potential to create an incredible future and change the world around them.

With a Social Sciences/Communications degree and over 25 years of additional study, he has trained thousands of hours in Communication, Sociology, Interpersonal Relationships, and Leadership. His best-selling book 12 Hours of Heaven; Lessons for a Better World and I Spark Change movement have inspired people from all over the world. Rick has been featured in multiple media outlets, including national/international television and radio. He’s a regular writer for Lifehack and guest contributor for various websites.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?

Growing up in a middle-class family as the youngest of five and only boy is where it all started for me. It was here that I was taught the valuable lessons that would carry me through life; the value of faith, family, and love. Most of my early life I did my best to embody those values in my endeavors and always sought to help others. My early career was spent in leadership of healthcare. Initially with large Fortune 500 companies in marketing, training, and corporate development. Later, with smaller companies focusing on growth and improvement. Prior to last year I was a business coach in the medical sector, working with doctors of all types on the growth of their practices.

For the past few years I continued to realize what had been missing from my life was working for a higher purpose and social good. In April of 2020 I decided to finally write the book that had been in my head for almost twenty years, 12 Hours of Heaven; Lessons for a Better World. I’m really glad I did because it helped to solidify many of the lessons I learned in life such as practicing gratitude (which is one of the 10 taught in my book BTW).

In my writing journey, I realized I could have a much greater impact reaching far beyond my immediate surroundings with the creation of I Spark Change.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The ironic thing is that the most interesting story didn’t happen since I started but rather was the reason for me getting started on my most recent career path in the first place. As I began writing 12 Hours of Heaven I set a modest goal of writing 500–750 words per day. This lasted until early July to the point where I was about halfway complete. At that time I entered a period of spirituality, focus, and clarity that I felt was divine intervention. I began having visions and dreams of everything that I was destined to create and a plan for the future. It lasted for about a month and it was during this time that I had the idea to create I Spark Change and completed my book. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life and something I am very grateful for.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” This is something I’ve frequently had to learn the hard way. Early in my career, I always got by through intelligence, grit, and determination. If things didn’t go well I was able to “just wing it”. It wasn’t until recently that I realized if I just planned things out a little better it could lead to phenomenal results. I continue to work on this every day as old habits die hard. Fortunately, I have three daughters that have heard this too many times thinking it was for their benefit. The older I get the more I need to remind myself.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?

I’m an avid reader as I feel reading expands your mind in many ways. One book that stands out is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.Both for the impact and timing of the content. During the writing of my first book, what I learned from this book helped me to focus on the task of writing and my greater goals. The tips I picked up I still practice in most of what I do for business and life.

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

My current project is all about connecting those from all over the globe. We are working to spread positive change throughout the world as part of the I Spark Change movement. As the movement grows, we will start on the path toward worldwide change through larger and more significant endeavors. Projects such as, helping yourself and your neighbor, supporting local charities, missionary work, assisting those in need due to immediate crisis, environmental endeavors, and animal support, to name just a few. Change begins with any tiny and positive action. There is no limit.

This is setting the foundation for the world’s first social media platform 100% geared towards connecting all those interested in positive change throughout the world.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been a lot of individuals who have helped me throughout the years but none more than my wife, Tonya. She helps to ground me and is my pillar of support in all that I do. In 2020 I went through a period of spiritual awakening and deep introspection as I wrote my book,12 Hours of Heaven; Lessons for a Better World. This was something that I was keep to myself as I was afraid. Once I decided to share it the first person I told was Tonya. She cried and told me she would support me in all that I had planned. I am immensely grateful to her for that and the love she provides me each day.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?

It’s easy to think of gratitude as being thankful for something or someone and expressing that thanks to them with your actions. Being grateful for positive occurrences and good fortune are gratitude 101. For me, gratitude goes way beyond that. It is all about seeing opportunity in every situation no matter what. When you change your mindset to one that seeks opportunity rather than looks at positive or negative you open you heart to the true magic of gratitude. In this way you can be grateful for any experience that is defined as “positive” or “negative” by social standards.

Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?

Our current society is one that perpetuates negativity and fuels the fire of pessimism. By having a very basic understanding of gratitude most individuals are only looking for the ultra-positive like a winning lottery ticket. These occurrences are few and far between so it becomes easy to constantly see the doom and gloom. The more they see the negative, the more they believe it exists and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?

How much room do I have for this? My question may sound like a joke but the reality is, when you seek to practice gratitude in all that you do you, the ways to experience it become countless. Here are a few basic benefits that can enhance anyone’s life.

  1. Research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
  2. Gratitude leads to better health- Being grateful leads to more optimism which boosts immunity and reduces your chances of infection & even cancer. Studies also show a 15% longer-lifespan for those who practice gratitude.
  3. You’ll see greater flexibility when things don’t go as planned. You’ll be more likely to adapt rather than get frustrated.

Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?

Practicing gratitude is phenomenal for your mental health. Here are three of my favorite less know facts.

  1. Grateful individuals have less depression, anxiety and other mood disorders because they tend to be more positive and optimistic.
  2. Thoughts of gratitude increase serotonin (feel good hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone) while also improving motivation and overall happiness.
  3. Gratitude gives you more efficient processing of negative information. Meaning, not just looking at the bright side of things. By processing negative information you decrease vulnerability to mental disorders.

Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. View things through a “Positive Lens”- This tactic called Positive reframing is consciously thinking happy thoughts.It literally re-wires you brain to be more positive. A perfect example for everyone is being quarantined during pandemic. At first glance many of us thought it was terrible as did my family. Once my family became grateful for the time that we had we started new activities like long family walks to connect and appreciate one another.
  2. Turn Challenges into opportunities- Tell yourself you are strong enough to face the challenge and new positive solutions will suddenly reveal themselves. I remember when I was laid off the first time in my life at the age of 39 on July 3rd. My first reaction was one of anger. Once I settled down I realized that I now had the whole summer to spend with my family. I spent two months enjoying the outdoors with them while they were home from school and ended up getting a new job the day after Labor day. I had a lot to be grateful for in that situation.
  3. Mind your words- Catch yourself when you start to complain and remember grandma’s advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” You’ll make everyone else happy and yourself more positive. This is one that can really help the world. So much of recent times have been spent by everyone taking every opportunity to complain about the pandemic, or politics, or events of the day. I had to block some friends on social media it was so bad. Think of all the love and gratitude that could have been shared instead.
  4. Ask- What’s good in a situation?- This is simply looking for the silver lining. By asking yourself questions such as; What are the new opportunities available? or Who can I help in this situation that needs it? You become more grateful for what you have. Years ago when my daughters were young they were often spoiled on Christmas by their grandparents. My wife and I realized they were quickly becoming un-grateful for what they had. We decided to limit the gift-giving for ourselves and adopted a family to provide gifts for them instead. My children have kept up the tradition and do their best to not take things for granted.
  5. Acknowledge What You Can & Can’t Control- Doing this frees you from any potential unnecessary stress. Some people are unable to deal with uncertainty, but grateful individuals are able to adapt and thrive. Last February we had the Artic blast freeze here in Texas. It was scary at first as we were without power and water for a few days. As those two items are completely outside our control we focused on enjoying the snow that we had never seen where we lived and cozied up to the fire for a week of gratitude for the warmth it provided.

Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?

Yes, there is always something that can be done. It’s OK to acknowledge your feelings and take time to feel the effect they have on you. The big thing to avoid is becoming a victim to them and letting them control you. I encourage anyone who is feeling this way to take productive action now. Do something that will get you back on track such as updating your resume after getting laid off. Remember, life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it. Focus on what actions you need to take to make things better.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?

I personally use the Gratitude app daily as it helps me keep my ideas in one place. I also recommend people go to www.isparkchange.com to join the movement to spread positive change around the world. There anyone will receive regular inspiration, affirmations, and gratitude.

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. 🙂

My current movement, I Spark Change. This movement is devoted to positively changing the world one bit, one person at a time. We are building a community of those who want to spread positive change in the world. This is setting the foundation for the world’s first social media platform 100% geared towards connecting all those interested in positive change throughout the world.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

Sign up to join I Spark Change at www.isparkchange.com. We won’t spam you, I promise. You will be notified about our community’s growth, new blog articles, events, and future books.

Join our growing Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/isparkchange. More and more people who want to spread positive change join each day!

Follow us on Instagram @i_spark_change for immediate spirituality, inspiration, and motivation. You’ll be glad you did.

Puzzme- the future social media site http://puzzme.com/. You’ll be one of the first members when the site goes live.

YouTube for greater insight into the driving forces behind I Spark Change.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVxszC0wtIG4XxUOiFrHUqQ

https://12hoursofheaven.com/ to find out about upcoming books and information on the release of 12 Hours of Heaven; Time on Earth.

Amazon- to order a copy of 12 Hours of Heaven: Lessons for a Better World https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KP8NDT4

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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