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Use The GLAD Technique to Live With A “Ravenous Thirst For Life”, With Dr. Marina Kostina & Jor-El Caraballo of Viva Wellness

The GLAD Technique is, I think, an iteration of a gratitude practice that can help provide a boost in mood and positivity. It’s also a handy acronym that stands for gratitude, learning, achievement (or accomplishment) and delight. You can do this nightly as a part of your wind-down routine to put you in a better […]


The GLAD Technique is, I think, an iteration of a gratitude practice that can help provide a boost in mood and positivity.

It’s also a handy acronym that stands for gratitude, learning, achievement (or accomplishment) and delight. You can do this nightly as a part of your wind-down routine to put you in a better emotional place right before bed.

For example, my GLAD note for the day might looking something like this:

G — I’m grateful for being able to connect with an old friend as sometimes I find it hard to keep up

L- Today I learned a new strategy for helping reduce back strain when I find myself working at my desk for a long time

A- I finally crossed that annoying task off my to-do list

D- I don’t know why, but this morning I stumbled on a quote that really struck me, in a good way, and it totally made my day


I had the pleasure of interviewing Jor-El Caraballo. Jor-El is a mental health professional, with an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Masters degrees (MA, M Ed) in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College Columbia University. He traveled across the United States delivering sexual assault prevention education programs to colleges and military bases to help empower men to prevent sexual assault and be effective bystanders. Since then he has worked in a variety of settings providing mental health services and therapy to his clients, and most recently co-created Viva Wellness, a holistic wellness center located in Brooklyn, NY.


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 registered to take a college level psychology course in high school and it turned the course of my life for the better.

My teacher, Mrs. Barbara Romich, happened to be one the most entertaining, and nuttiest, people I had ever met. She was normal, quirky, transparent, creative…it was all there. As I reflect back, I realize that saw a lot of myself in her. I learned a lot over the course of my semester with her in Psych 101 and that time in her class made me crystal clear on what my college plans were going to be.

There were a lot of qualities I loved about Mrs. Romich, but most importantly she seemed to be herself. There was no pretense about her. I found that freeing. Afraid of entering a field where I wouldn’t be able to be authentically myself and express my creativity, I didn’t see many options outside of doing something super creative (like music). But, psychology (and therapy) offered me flexibility and creativity, all the while being a pretty damn cool way to help people live their best lives. Supporting people in this way is a purpose that I do be my best to cherish and honor everyday.

I then went into college, majored in psychology and ended up at the prestigious graduate school Teachers College Columbia University where I was able to study Psychological Counseling alongside my friend and business partner Rachel. And, as they say, the rest is history!

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

I think that moving and living with purpose creates a more meaningful life. I would argue that having a life with meaning leads to greater satisfaction and happiness, otherwise you may just find yourself moving from project to project, relationship to relationship without any North Star or guiding force. Having a “why” is really important to living a life of passion, I think.

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?

Any time when I’ve experienced great emotional pain, it’s also been a moment of tremendous growth for me. For example, when I was leaving my college life and feeling unsure about the next steps due to some complicated circumstances in my life at the time, my discomfort, worry and anxiety were tough to deal with. I allowed myself to have this open experience “in the flow” which lead me to a job I never thought I would do (public speaking!). This led me to meet someone who recommended a grad school program that I really needed both personally and professionally. Taking that opportunity (and being accepted obviously) allowed me to live in NYC, which is something I had only dreamed of.

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’m not surprised by this result, to be honest. We live in a capitalist society which makes us believe that the only way to be successful is to work hard and be rich. “Hustle porn” is something you see all over social media — embodying our need to always focus on achievement to keep up with other people and be seen as exemplary employees and creators. We don’t take enough time to “be” with ourselves and take care of ourselves mind, body and spirit. If we embraced this holistic health and wellness perspective I think we’d be infinitely happier and well-adjusted.

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

I primarily use my own experiences to help support people in their journeys of “becoming”. Whether that means I’m working with a therapy client on reframing crippling self-critical thoughts or coaching clients on how to embrace mindfulness or better a relationship — I’d like to think those tools create a ripple effect of those around them. It’s always great to hear feedback of clients sharing that their friends or family were inspired by their self-care and personal work to uptake their own intentional wellness practices.

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?

1) The GLAD Technique is, I think, an iteration of a gratitude practice that can help provide a boost in mood and positivity.

It’s also a handy acronym that stands for gratitude, learning, achievement (or accomplishment) and delight. You can do this nightly as a part of your wind-down routine to put you in a better emotional place right before bed.

For example, my GLAD note for the day might looking something like this:

G — I’m grateful for being able to connect with an old friend as sometimes I find it hard to keep up

L- Today I learned a new strategy for helping reduce back strain when I find myself working at my desk for a long time

A- I finally crossed that annoying task off my to-do list

D- I don’t know why, but this morning I stumbled on a quote that really struck me, in a good way, and it totally made my day

2) Daily intention setting in the morning. For example, creating a daily feel or focus can be helpful in creating a sense of purpose and direction for the day.

3) Take breaks to recharge — I think that taking breaks to take care of one’s self is an often overlooked necessity for maintaining excitement about life. We have finite amounts of energy, despite what others (especially bosses) may lead us to believe. I’ve found that making sure to give myself breaks — even just a few minutes during a busy day, help me stay connected and excited about life.

4) Be constantly curious. I tend to believe that curiosity is an inherent characteristic for me. Part of the reason I love what I do is because I love learning about people. I love stories and appreciate the art of meaning-making.

5) Try something new. I’m naturally someone who craves a lot of routine. This is one of the things that helps me stay balanced and comfortable. But to experience “joie de vivre” I have to make it a point to switch it up sometimes and do something out of the ordinary. It could be big or small — like walking mindfully a different way home from the subway station or doing some random activity spontaneously. While variety is the spice of life, novelty is what keeps us truly interested.

6) This isn’t a strategy, per se, but I have to mention that last year I adopted a dog (Nomi) who has been such a light in my life. She’s a trained therapy dog which means she can certainly be obedient and calm when she needs to be but seeing her enjoy the run up to go outside and then exploring the world is such a gift. It’s hard to not feel excited about life when I see, and feel, her pup energy.

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

There are a few books that I’ve encountered in my life that help create that thirst for life, but the one I keep coming back to is the story of buddha, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. The story of discovering life as exploration has resonated with me for a long time.

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?

There’s a relatively lengthy quote from poet Rainer Rilke that reads, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.”

To me this perfectly encapsulates the wonder and curiosity that I try to embody in my life. I’m naturally not a risk taker and tend to like plans, whether that’s about what I’m going to do on Friday night or what my business should look like in five years. This Rilke quote has helped me take steps forward in my career when I was unsure about starting a business and many other situations that I’ve encountered in life.

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

There are some exciting things coming up on 2019, some of which are still in the beginning stages of development at the moment. We’re working on it! I’m very much looking forward to creating some sort of forum for men of color to have a space to talk about mental health without judgement.

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. 🙂

I would say that my greatest hope is that help inspire people to have more open conversations about their internal worlds, especially men of color. I think that would have profound positive effects for our own selves and our relationships with our friends, families and partners.

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