Mindset — the established set of attitudes: Most of us already have a fixed way of looking at things. That’s based on where we grew up, what we experienced, our teachers, friends, associates, and our parents. Unfortunately, not all of the things instilled in us are positive and direct us to be as proactive as we should be. Having an open mindset can help you move forward in your life.
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 Zurriane Bennett.
Zurriane Bennett, is a speaker, author, trainer and the creator of the Positive Self Defense programs and systems. He is a retired United States Marine Chief Warrant Officer, emergency services officer, expeditionary officer, fire rescue officer, former law enforcement with New York City and Northern Virginia. He has also been a Program and Project Manager and managed multimillion dollar contracts etc. He also holds black belts in 6 martial arts along with multiple teaching certifications and certifies. His greatest gifts are his family and the honor and joy he holds in his heart for all who he has had the pleasure to work with and trained.
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?
I grow up in a very low middle-class neighborhood. On the edge of the Bronx in New York. In a multifamily housing complex at the time that I lived there the 5 buildings complex was called Levister Towers, now they are condominiums. In short, I grow-up in the projects. Unlike many I grow-up with both my parents in the house. It was a neighborhood filled with children, music and for me fun and a lot of craziness. In this environment and time there was also a lot of confusion mixed in with craziness of the world around us which in many ways we knew nothing about. Even as a child I could see that confusion even though I was too young to understand it. In truth I saw way too much violence, death and destruction at a very young age.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
When I was young, I was always fascinated with three things those things were science, logic, and the martial arts. Every day I saw adults that to me very rarely applied science of logic to their day to day lives. Most just seemed to go thru their lives and their days just trying to get by. Mind you I am sure that they all had dreams and goals, but I didn’t see many of the people around me looking like they were trying. So, like many children I turned to TV to find my role models. I in a way was lucky I think I turned to a show called Star Track. On that show there was a character named Spock (Leonard Nimoy) he was the science officer on the spaceship. The spaceship was the (Star Ship Enterprise) Spock was the pillar of logic. Because of my love of science and logic. Through him I also gained a basic understanding of five things 1. Dominance, 2. Steadiness, 3. Conscientiousness, 4. Influence, and 5. Logic
My journey in the martial arts started when I was only 9 years old. Back then martial arts movies were very popular, during that time I found myself training in the arts it gave me something I very needed gave me valuable and important things it gave me one a physical outlet and a solid framework to use and apply and develop on two levels a physical, mental science and a philosophy to apply my logical mind too. The structure of the martial arts, combat arts, or martial sciences. This has helped me to overcome thousands of hurtles in my life from my wild and difficult, environment as a childhood, through high school, to my career in the Marine Corps, my career in law enforcement, career in management and leadership up to the crazy of maddening world we will find ourselves dealing with today. It has and does give me great joy and happiness even in these troubling, turbulent times. I have a calm that most people around me just do not have, the arts have helped me to have peace of mind. I believe that the martial arts have enriched my life in countless ways. What it has done for me it can do for others no matter your sex or age.
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?
There have been many people who have come into my live both directly and indirectly. One of the indirect people was Spock. One of the others in my earlier years was my uncle Tommy Bennett he was also my first martial arts teacher.
Can you share a story about that?
As a child I was small for my age. So, like many small children I was picked on the funny thing is that I was a karate kid. I was also a pretty good fight in the Dojo, (School) but I didn’t want to hurt anyone. My karate instructor was Tommy Bennett, yes we were related he was my uncle, and he opened a karate school on his early 20’s and I along with two of my cousins were his star students at the school. Any way Tommy or Sensei shared the secrets of the world of martial arts with me. Sadly, learned how to fight and was good at it but I did not want to fight or hurt anyone. That all changed the day my mother who was looking out of the apartment window and she saw a kid picking on me I had no idea that she was there until she yelled out of the window. “If you don’t kick his ass!” “When you get back in this house, I am going to kick your ass.” I have ever lost a fight since. In my younger years training and as I grow up martial arts became and still is a major part of who I am to this day. Today it is still a major outlet for me. I don’t need to fight just practicing my katas (moves) is relaxing.
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?
Many years ago, I was doing a presentation and demo for a high-end fitness center. I was asked to do three presentations to three groups that day. After the first one we had so many people that they had to move me to a larger space. The second presentation had a even larger group of people that attended it. So, the presentations and demos were going great. After the second presentation this lady came up to me and said to me that my presentation and demo was amazing. She then told me that she was an agent with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) she then showed me her ID. I thanked her for her positive feedback. She then looked me in the eye with a big smiled on her face and then said you do know that you scared, the shit out of most of these people. Those words left me speechless for a half a minute. That was not what I expected to hear nor was it the effect or message I wanted to communicate. After that we both just looked at each other for a few moments then we both laughed. She then said that my demo was just too real. So not knowing what to said next I said I am sorry if I scared you, please forgive me. She then stopped me and said no thank you! She said to me “Your presentation, words, actions and reactions were just what the doctor ordered for me, and I think most of those that attended. She then told me that she was at the first presentation stayed to make sure she saw the second and would be stay for the third.” She told me my sessions were mumbling and empowering at the same time.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Working with companies like Google Inc. the Franciscan Mission Service, many of the local business and many of my private session have been very exciting and fulfilling. I help people by introducing them to the power and abilities that are at their fingertips. This brings confidence, awareness, and self-belief.
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 have written and published 5 books, I hold 6 black belts in various styles of the martial arts/sciences, I have trained over a thousand students and help them to find success. I am an experienced trainer, mentor. and speaker with over 30 years of successful helping others to find success. I have worked with people from every walk of life, all sexes, and ages. I have also been on many TV news channels and written for many businesses, and publications.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
Over the last 20 years I have men, women, teens and children to people of all ages to find the abilities that in many cases they did not know that they even had. I have done this with my books, talks, programs and live trainings.
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?
There are many reasons however here are a few.
- We have far too many people who have failed to see and except the truth. These people fail you understand that there are three types of truth.
- The Correspondence of Truth:
Truth is probably the most common and widespread way of understanding the nature of truth and falsehood. Put quite simply, “truth” is whatever corresponds to reality. An idea which corresponds with reality is true while an idea which does not correspond with reality is false.
- The Coherence of Truth:
The Coherence truth is probably second in popularity to the Correspondence even though it often seems to be an accurate description of how our conception of truth actually works. Put simply: a belief is true when we are able to incorporate it in an orderly and logical manner into a larger and complex system of beliefs or, even more simply still, a belief is true when it fits in with the set of all our other beliefs without creating a contradiction.
- The Pragmatic of Truth:
The Pragmatic Truth determines whether. or not a belief is true or not based on whether it has a useful (pragmatic) application in the world. If it does not, then it is not true. As with Coherence, truth in this sense is nothing to do with the way the world ‘really is’ but is just a function of whether an idea can be used as a model to make useful predictions about what is going to happen in the world. As a result, pragmatic truths can only be learnt through interaction with the world: we don’t discover truth by sitting alone in a room and thinking about it.
2. People fail to take action and/or responsibility for the things in front of them.
- People wait for others to do what they will not.
3. People just don’t believe in themselves and the abilities that they have within themselves.
- Many people give up long before they should.
- Others never even take outside of their self-imposed and limited bubbles to see what they can do or become.
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?
When I was a young boy, I was told that the United States Marines toughest, and baddest fighting force on the planet. The person that shared that with me said that I would never be able to become a Marine. I told myself that I could become anything that I put my mind too. When I was in the 11th grade a friend of mine asked me to join that United States Marines Corp with him. Not really knowing what I was going to do after high school, so I said yes. Fast forward I served in the Marine Corps for over 20 years. I made the enlist rank of E8 and later became and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer.
A man cannot raise a child. (Not true) A child should be with his mother and not his father no matter what. (Not true) When I was a young man my wife and I separated. During our son was placed in the middle of a kind of battle that battle was for custody. I was told time and time again that a child belongs with its mother. However, I believed that my son’s future was better with me then with anyone else no matter who it was. So, I fought for full custody of my son. After two years of court cases and even the kidnapping of my son from his daycare I in the end won full custody of my son. He is now grown and married himself. Belief, logic, motivation, and my willingness to take-action have served me well.
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 fail to take-action.
- People let their emotions rule them.
- People don’t follow their own dreams.
- People don’t realize that they have no time to waste to reach their goals.
- People don’t think. Critical and logical thinking skills are just not employed by a lot of people today.
- Many times, people don’t realize that they are on the wrong path or that the path is someone else’s dream.
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?”
- Mindset — the established set of attitudes.
Most of us already have a fixed way of looking at things. That’s based on where we grew up, what we experienced, our teachers, friends, associates, and our parents. Unfortunately, not all of the things instilled in us are positive and direct us to be as proactive as we should be.
Having an open mindset can help you move forward in your life.
2. Awareness — the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness.
Sometimes we take other people’s perceptions and make them our own.
3. Physical — relating to the body as opposed to the mind; relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete.
I can visualize flying in my mind, but we all know that none of us can fly without help.
4. Belief — trust, faith, or confidence in self, someone, or something.
There are many ways to meet and exceed the limits that you, and/or others, have placed in your mind. You can do this by changing your perceptions. Most of us let other people’s limits and failures become ours. We close our minds to the possibilities to learn and grow. Most people stop trying after two or three tries. Believe and invest in yourself. Sometimes you must just step back and relook at each goal from several different angles.
5. Truth and Fact — Seeing things as they really are and not just as you want or wish them to be real reality.
A fact is a fact. Alternative facts are just lies and falsehoods.
Waste no more of your time arguing what a good man or women should be. Be one, be the person that you know you should be. It isn’t what we say that defines our character, it is what we do.
Putting our happiness in the hands of others, is one misguided and two pointless.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
Don’t look at others and compare yourself with them. Each day compare yourself with who you were yesterday and each day work to become a little better than you were the day before. That anyone can do that is real and is not just a dream. One step at a time with each step you will get better and better and reach your goal to become better.
Be supportive, proactive, and truthful. If you find yourself out of your element, get help for yourself and for them.
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.
We all share this planet together let’s stop trying to hurt and or outdo each other and start working together for the good and betterment of us all.
Your happiness must start by finding happiness within yourself first. Once you can obtain that you can find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times.
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 🙂
Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama (Former President and First Lady)
Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)
Mr. Keanu Reeves (Actor)
Ms. Oprah Winfrey (TV Personality)
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Positive Self Defense:
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!