“Write down things you are grateful for.” With Beau Henderson & Lauren Mosback

As you practice mindfulness, you will begin to notice and appreciate more and develop a grateful mindset. And as you learn to slow down your body and calm your mind, you will be able to more clearly see the simple things in life — such as the beauty of nature, the laughter of a child, […]

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As you practice mindfulness, you will begin to notice and appreciate more and develop a grateful mindset. And as you learn to slow down your body and calm your mind, you will be able to more clearly see the simple things in life — such as the beauty of nature, the laughter of a child, and the very air we breathe — and you will become more grateful for what you have in this life.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Mosback, children’s book author and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania. Lauren has provided strength-focused counseling services for children, adolescents and their families for over ten years. She loves exploring the outdoors and unfamiliar places and finds inspiration from these adventures.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Absolutely! For a semester in college, I lived and taught at a boarding school in New Mexico for Navajo children. I gravitated toward the school counseling office, where there was a little boy with autism. After getting to know one another, we would play on the swings, laugh together, do arts and crafts, and search around the grounds of the reservation for interesting plants and animals.

As the semester came to a close, I remember playing on the swings with the boy and thinking that our time together would shortly end. I thought about how much this little boy and I had grown on this journey and how, with a little extra support and attention, he seemed like a different child than when we first met. It was this experience that solidified my desire to become a counselor and help many more children through life’s struggles.

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

Publishing my first book! It’s been quite a journey. I began my career providing therapy for juvenile offenders and their families. I discovered that many of these teenagers had developed negative coping skills to manage life’s stressors; but, through therapy and learning to refocus on positive coping skills, their lives began to take a turn for the better. I had many clients make comments like, “I wish I learned these skills when I was younger. Life would have been so much easier!”

So, throughout the first 10-plus years of my career, I found myself constantly looking for resources to help me teach healthy coping strategies to my child and adolescent clients in fun and interesting ways. One day I thought, “I should just write my own.” I dove headfirst into the challenge and my first book, My Sister’s Super Skills, was published shortly after my third son was born. The book highlights proven coping techniques used to combat life’s stress, such as relaxation strategies to principles of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In therapy, my clients and I call coping and wellness skills “Super Skills” because they are empowering, positive, and help people grow strong and resilient.

We all encounter stress. It’s simply a part of life. I know that by incorporating “Super Skills” into our lives on a daily basis, we can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, and learn we have the ability, within ourselves, to be happy and bounce back from life’s difficulties. That’s why it’s so important to introduce children to these skills when they’re young — they can carry these great tools into their teen years and adulthood so that whenever they’re experiencing challenging emotions and the current of life becomes too strong, they can “flip like a dolphin up and over each wave” and find calm waters.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

People are the happiest and most successful when they feel valued. Leaders can help create a fantastic work culture by acknowledging and praising an individual’s unique qualities, skills, and hard work. As an effective leader, it is crucial to be able to help others identify and utilize their one-of-a-kind strengths and to help them continue to grow in that area. By recognizing a job well done and providing verbal praise, we reinforce positive behavior that enhances an individual’s self-esteem and, therefore, performance, success, and happiness.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Yes, in high school I experienced significant anxiety and self-doubt. I came across a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and it captivated me. This book resonated deeply with me because it was the first time I was presented with the idea that I could shape my own destiny based on my thoughts and belief in myself. It seemed almost supernatural.

I devoured the book and others like it. I began to understand the importance and power of disputing irrational and negative thoughts and replacing them with more rational and constructive ones. Doing this translated into positive feelings about myself and the world, which lead me to engage in more helpful and proactive behaviors. With my new optimistic mindset, I began to develop more self-confidence, happiness, and peace.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Being mindful is being aware of the present moment. Mindfulness begins with being intentional — minimizing distractions, focusing on your breath and bodily sensations, acknowledging your thoughts and feelings, and then shifting your attention back to your body so you’re focused on the present and your mind is not consumed with past or future thoughts.

Mindfulness takes practice. One practical way to start developing mindfulness is by going for a nature walk, silencing your phone, and tuning in to the beauty around you. What types of trees and flowers do you seeWhat noises do you hear? What aromas do you smell? Sit down and take your shoes off. How does the grass feel between your toes? Are the clouds forming into any animal shapes or objects? (Kids love this one!) What did you enjoy most about your walk?

As you practice mindfulness, you will begin to notice and appreciate more and develop a grateful mindset. And as you learn to slow down your body and calm your mind, you will be able to more clearly see the simple things in life — such as the beauty of nature, the laughter of a child, and the very air we breathe — and you will become more grateful for what you have in this life.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

A growing body of research shows that when you practice mindfulness and gratitude, your brain releases happy chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine — neurotransmitters responsible for “feel-good” emotions. When you practice mindful strategies often, your brain does this incredible thing of creating new neural pathways from your new positive thoughts and experiences. This proves that you can grow and create happiness throughout life.

An old dog can learn new tricks! You can rewire your brain to respond better the next time you are stressed. Less stress leads to an improved mood, enhanced immunity, better sleep quality, lower blood pressure, less aches and pains, and more energy.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. The more you practice one, the more the other is enhanced. I have worked with many clients of all ages and watched them transform their stress and anxiety when they practice gratitude regularly. Here are five simple gratitude techniques that everyone can do to alleviate stress and enhance their happiness and serenity:

Step 1: Five Good Things: Write down five things that you are grateful for, in general, or that have gone well for you this week.

Step 2: Gratitude Letter: Write a letter, email, or text a gratitude message to a person you are grateful for and tell them why.

Step 3: Count Kindness: Count and record the acts of kindness you see in the world.

Step 4: Recall Your Unique Qualities: In your journal, identify your unique qualities and how you used them to help others in your family, neighborhood, or community this week.

Step 5. What Made You Smile?: Write down three things you experienced or did this week that made you laugh or smile. Remember that when you laugh, your brain releases happy chemicals. Laughter is truly the best medicine!

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Step 1: Hold Space

Holding space is actively listening to someone without judgment or trying to control the outcome. As a therapist, I hold space often for my clients by being present, providing eye contact, and verbal affirmations. As I walk alongside them and join them where they are, the door is opened for them to express themselves as they feel safe, heard, and valued. Anyone can hold space for others.

Step 2: Verbal Praise

Provide others with reminders of who they are and how far they have come. You can use statements, such as: “I remember when you had that long presentation and did amazingly well. You are so knowledgeable in your field and the audience learned a lot from you. Do you remember how awesome you felt afterward? With your creativity and expertise, you can do hard things and overcome them; just look at your track record.”

Step 3: Exercise Together

I believe that exercise is the fastest way to reduce stress and anxiety — whether you’re a child, teen, or an adult. Go on a walk with a family member or friend, dance, or take a yoga class. Exercise and movement enhance your mental and emotional health by releasing endorphins that help you relax and feel good. And what better way to do that than with someone you care about?

Step 4: Laugh Together

Carve out some time to reach out to a friend who is stressed and take a stroll down memory lane together or trade funny stories and just laugh! Taking time to share light-hearted stories can be a good reminder to friends or family that you’re here for them, value them, and enjoy their company.

Step 5: Trade out the Toxic

You are a model to those around you — family members, friends, colleagues. Trade out anything toxic from your life because life is simply too short. Spend your energy and time with those who lift you up. Indulge in self-care — journal more, take deep breaths, and be mindful of your sleep, food and water intake. Focus on your health and happiness and talk about how this has benefitted your life with others.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

I would absolutely recommend spending more time in nature. Explore the forests, the ocean, the mountains, or simply take a walk at your local park. Breathe in the beautiful fresh air around you and appreciate the love, life, and new opportunities that surround you. Then breathe out anything else.

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

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe that everything we need to be happy lies within us. Often, our minds gravitate to the past or future and we convince ourselves that we will be happy when something bigger or better comes along or when we achieve the next big thing. But what lies within us — our thoughts, our beliefs, our values, our unique character traits and abilities — is so powerful that we can accomplish anything. When we learn to understand who we are and the power we have — and love and accept ourselves just as we are — we become happier and content in this moment. And then everything else falls into place as it should.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Laurenmosbackcounseling.com. From there, you can learn more about my practice, my books, and my social media therapy tips.

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

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