Resilient people in my experience are confident, not cocky. They have faith in themselves. They believe in themselves. They are not willing to give up and so sometimes may come across as stubborn, when in fact they are simply determined. Resilient people are willing to try new things and get uncomfortable because they know it will lead to growth. They are willing to step outside of their fears instead of letting fear control their every move.


Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Sweeney.

Heather Sweeney is a Personal Mentor & Mindfulness Coach, Registered Nurse, and Inspirational Speaker & Storyteller. She believes that anything is possible when we put our minds to it. Heather is an eternal optimist, avid fundraiser, traveler, and lover of all things adventurous and outdoors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM6d77EMnTA&t=14s

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

Sure! My backstory is like a backcountry road filled with twists, turns, uphill challenges, and downhill adventures. I certainly have not taken the straight and narrow path personally or professionally and I would not change a thing. Every twist and turn has led me right to where I am today which is exactly where I’m meant to be!

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, played sports starting as far back as I can remember, and graduated from high school with a class of less than 100 students. I then attended UMASS Amherst which was quite the shock because, well, it had it’s own zip code. It was much larger than what I was used to, but there was something comforting about being able to blend into the crowd and not have everyone around me know my personal business. The year that I graduated, Fidelity Investments came on campus and interviewed me for a position in Financial Services. It seemed like the path of least resistance at the time considering I had gone to business school and grown up in a household where my Dad worked in Financial Services for most of my childhood. It was familiar. It felt easy, like a safe bet.

The first week that I was out of training and on the floor with Fidelity, I told my cubemate that I should have followed my dreams of working in healthcare. I should have known then that it was just a matter of time. I spent thirteen years at Fidelity Investments in a variety of roles before finally finding the courage in year ten to step out of my comfort zone, step out of “easy”, and go back to school for my bachelors in Nursing. I had realized that the safe bets in life don’t necessarily pay the highest rewards and it was time to step into my own personal power. It was time to start making decisions that might not please everyone around me, but that I knew in my heart would make me happy.

I finished up Nursing school just before giving birth to my first child so as you can imagine, there was a lot of change that happened all at once. I began working the overnight shift with a newborn at home and let’s just say, nothing about any of that was easy. I had gotten what I had asked for and I loved the challenge and the growth that followed.

I spent eight years working bedside as a nurse, had a second child in that time, and then yet another life change occurred. I made the decision to divorce my then husband. As a result, I knew I needed to work full time and provide for my little ones and myself and so I combined my business and nursing skills, took a leap of faith, and began working in Talent Acquisition placing nurses for a nearby healthcare organization. This allowed me to feel challenged, to learn a lot in a short period of time, and to grow even more, but I knew deep down that I was meant to give back on another level.

I had learned as a bedside nurse that while I loved helping and caring for my patients, I felt rushed. I found myself wanting to give more to the individuals I was caring for, spend more time with them, see them progress, but due to heavy workloads and only so much time on each shift I wasn’t getting the chance to do that.

I was introduced to personal coaching when I sought out a coach of my own. I was at a point where I needed guidance. I knew I was on the edge of something great, but I needed someone to help me uncover what that looked like. My coach actively listened to me for an hour every other week. She was available in between our sessions as needed. She invested her time and energy in my personal and professional growth. She was intuitive. She was real. She was honest. She pointed out opportunities for me to make positive changes. She helped me work through situations and emotions and circumstances instead of avoid them. She made me feel heard. She gave me a safe space to share. She helped me to really take a hard and fast look at what it means to be intentional, aware, and mindful. I knew within two sessions with her that THIS was what I needed to be doing. Within one month of coaching with her, I had established my LLC and rolled out my very own Personal Mentorship & Mindfulness Coaching business, once again combining my business and healthcare experience.

As a Personal Mentorship & Mindfulness Coach, I get the gift of holding space for my clients. I get to actively listen and point out opportunities to make positive change. I get to invest in them and devote my full attention to them and only them for one hour each week. I get to be someone they lean on in between sessions as needed. I become their biggest cheerleader. I help my clients gain self awareness, become more mindful and intentional, and step out of their fear and into their courage. The biggest gift of all in the work that I do is seeing my clients make positive personal and professional progress. Something clicks in them. They “wake up” and realize, I CAN do anything if I put my mind to it. I CAN overcome challenges that come my way. It is the most rewarding thing to be a part of that.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Early on in my financial services career, I heard about an opportunity to become part of a team that got to travel to our clients, present on interesting topics, and educate our customers. Being on the phones at the time, I really wanted to mix things up and spread my wings and so this seemed right up my alley.

For the interview, I was told that I would have to teach the two hiring managers how to do something. It was that simple. Pick anything you want, come in for your interview, and teach them how to do that thing. With such a wide open topic, it was difficult at first to hone in on just one thing I liked, let alone could teach others about.

After some thought and no great ideas, I came across a dusty book on my book shelf at home about how to create origami. Something told me to pull it out and when I did, I opened the book to a page explaining step by step how to create a bird. I had never done that before, but it came with paper and so I grabbed a piece and started folding, step by step. Before I knew it, I had created an origami bird. I was stunned and it was awesome!

I decided instead of teaching about how to tie a tie, one of my original ideas, I was going to teach them how to make an origami bird. I practiced and practiced until I could do it without the book and on the day of my interview, I felt excited. I shared the story of finding that dusty book on my shelf, opening it up to the page showing how to make an origami bird, and teaching myself how to do it for the interview. I showed them step by step how to create their own bird and together we folded, we unfolded our mistakes, we refolded to fix them, and ultimately we all created an origami bird of our own. We had so much fun and I got the job!

This experience taught me to listen to my intuition, even if I was unsure where it was taking me at the time. It taught me to not be afraid of something new or unfamiliar. Instead, embrace it, step toward it, try it on for size.

There is a quote that I love from Pippi Longstocking that says, “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.” I am intrigued by new things, new opportunities, new challenges. If I feel pulled to something, I will step toward it to explore. There is a reason my intuition is speaking up. I learned that when I believe in myself, anything is possible. If along the way I fall, or in this case fold the paper the wrong way, I can pick myself back up, unfold the paper, learn, and keep going.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I recently joined forces with My Steady Mind (MSM) and I believe this sets me apart as a Coach.

I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Seth Hickerson, the founder of MSM, while prepping for a panel discussion that we were both taking part in. The panel was about building resiliency during challenging times and the audience was recruiters and leaders in healthcare. Being a Nurse myself and having worked in the recruitment space, I was passionate about sharing insights with this audience.

On our prep call, Seth was sharing about MSM, the training program, the why behind it, the success they were having, and every single thing he was saying was resonating with me. Gone are the days in any industry, but especially healthcare, where we can send employees to a wellness website and call it a wellness program. It simply does not work. It is not effective. Where is the human touch?

After the call, Seth and I connected, I went through the MSM Mindfulness & Resiliency Training Program myself, and I absolutely loved the results that I experienced. I am now joining forces with MSM as a Coach and also using the MSM training program with my own 1:1 Personal Mentor & Mindfulness Coaching clients.

This program offers training, not treatment. It helps to break down complex concepts into simple terms that anyone can grasp. It offers so many a-ha moments! Seth and the entire team at MSM talk the talk and walk the walk. We are living the stuff that we are providing training on. We have gone through turbulent times in our own lives and learned how to remain calm in the chaos. We each bring a variety of real life experiences to the table, both personally and professionally. We are passionate about what we do and I believe that together, we are providing impactful, necessary training with tangible takeaways that lead to massively positive results for our clients. I believe that organizations large and small NEED this type of hands on training program for their leaders and employees alike to take them to the next level in the most positive way.

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?

I can sum this up in one word. Coaches. I have been fortunate to have had amazing coaches in nearly every aspect of my life, ranging from sports to music to family and friends and of course, my own Life Coach.

Without the support of all of these coaches, there is no way I would be where I am today. Individually, each coach impacted me in their own unique way. Collectively, I learned the importance of determination and dedication, the power of discipline, the importance of self-care, self-discovery, and self-love. They helped me become more confident and increasingly resilient. They helped build my character. They helped me learn how to shift my mindset from seeing a threat to seeing an opportunity. I learned the power of team work, collaboration, and community. I think that one reason I see getting to be a Personal Mentor & Mindfulness Coach as a huge gift in my life is because I see all of the coaches I have been blessed to work with as gifts. If I can impact my clients in the way my coaches have impacted me, I am doing something right and good in this world.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience to me is getting back up every time you fall. You can fall and lay there for as long as you need to, but eventually you’ve got to get back up. Grab onto something, get help from a friend, or use your inner strength, but get yourself back up and take another step forward.

At My Steady Mind, one area of focus in the training program is resilience. Seth gives an amazing analogy that immediately landed for me. He talks about how you can be the egg or you can be the tennis ball. When an egg falls to the ground, we all know what happens. It smashes into pieces never to return to its original state. When a tennis ball falls to the ground, it bounces back up. Every time it hits the ground, it bounces back up, over and over and over. THAT is resiliency. Do you want to be the egg or do you want to be the tennis ball?

Resilient people in my experience are confident, not cocky. They have faith in themselves. They believe in themselves. They are not willing to give up and so sometimes may come across as stubborn, when in fact they are simply determined. Resilient people are willing to try new things and get uncomfortable because they know it will lead to growth. They are willing to step outside of their fears instead of letting fear control their every move.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

Courage is the willingess to step away from your fear, into the unknown, into the discomfort, and trust that you will find your way. Resilience is being able to pick yourself up when you fall down in that unknown, brand new space, and find a way to keep moving forward. I believe that to strengthen your resilience muscle you must be courageous.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I recently watched an episode of “Untold” on Netflix about Caitlyn Jenner. The story focused heavily on Jenner’s journey to Olympic gold in the decathlon and also her journey to find her true, authentic self and share that with the world. A lot stood out to me, but as an athlete myself, what specifically hit home was the pure dedication and drive involved in becoming the worlds best. Literally giving your life, every waking moment, to achieve the ultimate goal. Giving yourself completely to the process of training and having the utmost clarity in terms of your vision. Jenner spoke about placing 10th in the decathlon in Munich in 1972 after losing to gold medal winner Mykola Avilov. Losing those games left Jenner ravenous to return and win the gold. For the next four years, Jenner trained every single day for hours on end, dedicating his life to this goal, ultimately returning in 1976 to take the gold medal. I was in tears watching the final 1,500 meter race as Jenner absolutely crushed his competition. The emotion of that victory was palpable and absolutely awesome! I can only imagine the ups and downs, the emotional and physical highs and lows, the fatigue, the process of getting up every single day for four whole years of your life to train, to push your body and mind to their absolute limit, to be so visible while doing so, and to never ever give up on your vision, on your dream. It’s beautiful and such an awesome display of some serious resilience.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

In 2012, myself and three girlfriends committed to run the Chicago Marathon and fundraise for JDRF. My friend Crystal’s son, Nick, had recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We wanted to give ourselves a great “why” as we trained for our very first marathon together and this definitely fit the bill.

We met up for training runs, kept each other motivated, pushed one another, cheered for one another, and ultimately worked together to achieve our goal of finishing the marathon and giving back to JDRF. We held fundraising events, we rallied our networks, and even though we were pushing ourselves physically and mentally during the training, we were having fun doing it!

During this period, my then husband and I were trying to get pregnant with no success. Looking back, running was and has remained a form of therapy for me. We would go for training runs and I would have time to process and think and work through emotions and feelings that I had yet to work through. It was tough to say the least. Then, completely unexpectedly and early on in my training plan, I found out that I was in fact pregnant. To say I was excited would be an understatement, but of course, the question arose as to whether or not I could/should/would still move forward with the marathon.

I had been running for several years prior to this time. While I had never done a full marathon, I had run countless 5K’s, 10K’s, and half marathons. I was in excellent physical condition. I was strong. Cardiovascularly I was on point. I had done my research as a Nurse and an intelligent human. I had spoken to my doctors. Everything in my gut told me to move forward. I promised myself that if at any point during training or on race day my gut instinct changed or my doctor told me it was not safe to move forward, I would simply stop right then and there.

As you can imagine, when I told my family, friends, and teammates I got a lot of push back. The majority of them assumed I would not run the marathon so when I shared that I would, I got looks of confusion, horror, and disapproval. I remember one specific friend telling me I had lost my mind and was putting myself and my pregnancy at risk. I was told I was crazy, that it would be impossible, and that I should not run by many, but I decided to follow my gut instinct because it had yet to serve me wrong.

I was four months pregnant on race day. I proudly wore a shirt with a big arrow pointing to my baby belly. I reminded myself that I would run when I could and walk as much as necessary. If I felt too tired or my gut instinct told me to stop at any time, I would simply do just that. I put no pressure on myself to finish. I just knew I wanted to start…and so I did.

I ran most of the way for the first 13 miles. I felt amazing. The crowd and the positive energy in the air were seeping into my soul as I smiled ear to ear. My baby belly and I were being cheered on by the crowd. I was inspiring those around me to keep moving forward. I was taking it all in and cherishing the experience.

Then, at mile 23.5, just 2.7 miles from the finish, I felt something in my belly. I had no idea what it was at the time, but it was new, I had never felt it, and it triggered my gut instinct to stop. I stopped in the middle of a crowd of runners nearing the finish line. I turned around and walked into the sea of people running at me. I found the nearest medical station and told them that I needed a ride to the finish line. I was done. My body spoke and I listened.

I cried for the entire drive to the finish. I cried tears of worry, what if, and disappointment that I had come so close. I needed to let those emotions out and as I did, I began to realize I should be celebrating! I should be focusing on how far I had come, the challenges I had overcome, and the fact that I had remained true to myself in listening to my intuition. I should be celebrating the funds we had raised for JDRF, our journey as a team, and the fact that my girlfriends had just finished their very first full marathon!

Later that evening, while laying in bed in our hotel room, I felt it again. It was that very same feeling I had had earlier in the day at mile 23.5. It was my son kicking me for the second time. Having never been pregnant before, I had no idea what that feeling was during the race and being hyper-aware of my circumstances, I took no chances. But as I lay there that evening feeling my son kick in my belly again, it clicked. He was probably just telling me to keep going to the finish, but in the moment, I had no idea.

While I did not cross the finish line, I certainly felt proud of how far I had come that day. I was reminded that when I put my mind to something, when I make a conscious, intentional choice to do something, the seemingly impossible becomes possible. I started. I experienced. I learned. I grew. I celebrated. And guess what? I went back in 2017 and finished the Chicago Marathon!

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

In January of 2015, my Dad underwent a double bypass following a heart attack he suffered the prior year. The surgery went extremely well and after recovering and some rehabilitation, he returned home. Shortly after coming home, we began noticing some changes with him. For example, my Dad was telling us that he was having more trouble than usual with his vision. His appetite was not at all what it had been prior. He was losing weight instead of getting stronger. He was weak. Finally, one evening on his way into his bedroom with my Mom, he fell. He fell to the ground and could not pick himself back up. With my Dad being 6’5” and my Mom being 5’2”, she certainly could not pick him up on her own and so she did what anyone would do and called an ambulance. That night, my Dad was admitted to the local hospital. Little did we know that this would begin a near seven month period of time that my Dad would fight for his life.

Over the next four months, my Dad was transferred to two different hospitals, ultimately landing at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. The doctors and medical professionals that were originally treating him went directly to the obvious answer that his illness must somehow be related to his bypass surgery, his heart. However, his cardiac team at Tufts assured us that was not the case. Every test that was run and lab that was drawn showed no evidence that the symptoms he was experiencing were related to an issue with his heart. As you can imagine, this led to a lot of frustration for myself and my family as a whole. We were witnessing my Dad get weaker with every day that passed. We were witnessing his muscles wasting away to the point he could no longer get out of bed let alone stand on his own. My 6’5” strong and capable father was wasting away to nothing. He was confused, at times incoherent, and struggling to function.

My family came together like never before. We held strong. We took part in his care. My Mom as our rock, we took turns visting and staying overnight so that someone was by his side almost all of the time. Most importantly, we pushed. We challenged his team. We advocated for my Dad in every possible way. After a long road of tests, new doctors, consultations, research, trial medications, medication adjustments, and more, there was finally a breakthrough thanks to the tenacity of the outstanding team at Tufts. They discovered a neuroendocrine tumor on the lower lobe of my Dad’s left lung. This tumor was causing Cushing Syndrome, a condition that occurs due to an excess of cortisol in our body. This was an extremely rare location to find this type of tumor and it was wreaking havoc on my Dad.

One of many side effects of excess cortisol is muscle wasting and so after all these months of not knowing what was happening, my Dad’s body had completely morphed. His muscles wasted to the point that his diaphragm and respiratory muscles were affected and he was fighting to breathe. During his extended stay in the ICU at Tufts, I was sitting with my Dad early one morning and noticed he was struggling to take a breath. As a Nurse, I knew exactly what I was witnessing. As his daughter, I could not fathom what I was witnessing. I watched my Dad choke for air and nearly die right in front of my eyes. His Nurse called a rapid response and the team rushed into the room to help. My father was diagnosed with pulmonary edema, excess fluid flooding his lungs, and placed on a breathing machine that morning.

I was exhausted. I was broken. I was torn into tiny pieces and had no idea where to go or what to do next. So I prayed. I hoped. I wrote. I ran. I waited. Ninety six hours later my Dad was weaned from the machine. He thought it was all a dream while for us, it had been a real life living nightmare.

After a total of nearly seven months in the hospital, the removal of the left lower lobe of his lung, and endless medications, tests, and treatments, my Dad was healthy enough to come home. It was a miracle. He has since been written about in medical journals due to the rareness of his case and I am so thankful to say that he is doing well and is back to his 6’5” strong self.

This experience was by far one of my lowest lows and highest highs of my life. Watching a loved one literally fight for their life and not knowing what the next day, hour, or minute might bring is maddening. Watching my Dad nearly die before my very eyes was horrifying. The entire experience was utterly exhausting. I was unable to work most days. I was not sleeping or eating well. I withdrew from my larger social circle. Nearly every ounce of energy I had was put into my Dad, his health, his care, his life. The few ounces that remained were spent writing and running which truly helped me process and get through what was happening at the time.

Tufts Medical Center saved my Dad’s life and I felt the need to give back in some way. So when I learned that I could join their Boston Marathon team, I jumped at the chance. With the support of so many, I raised $17,800.00 that was donated back to Tufts in honor of my Dad and I crossed the finish line in April of 2016 with tears in my eyes and so much gratitude in my heart. Through such a dark experience in my life came something so beautiful and for that, I am forever grateful.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I think I began cultivating resiliency in my life without even knowing that’s what was happening. I am the youngest of four and my brothers are 10 and 11 years older than me. Growing up, they were my idols (along with Larry Bird!) when it came to sports, specifically basketball. I would shoot hoops with them and get beaten almost every time, but I would always come back for more. It was fun, it was time with my older brothers, and if I wanted to be like them I knew I had to keep practicing.

That spirit bled into my middle school and high school years where I participated in a variety of sports, continuously learning the value of finding opportunity in failures, getting up when I would fall down (both literally and figuratively), and pushing my limits both physically and mentally on the court or on the field.

As I became an adult, I began running and fell in love with the process of training for marathons. Race day was never the height of the experience for me. It was the training. I lived for the morning routine of getting up before sunrise, lacing up my sneakers, and hitting the track or the roads. I felt like I could accomplish anything after those training sessions each morning because with each one, I was improving my own resilience.

For several years now, I have practiced what we would call at My Steady Mind, my Emotional Control Routine (ECR). Every morning, I wake up and workout first thing. I then take the time to meditate, journal, take a cold shower (for at least a portion of my shower thanks to a My Steady Mind training suggestion), look at myself in the mirror and say something positive like “I am calm. I am confident. I am capable.” Then, I get my one cup of hot coffee and step into my day feeling unstoppable. This routine, which has evolved over time, sets me up each day to succeed and most imporantly, to bounce back quickly when things happen which we all know they surely do!

Lastly, I am sure to place myself in new and uncomfortable situations as often as possible. This past February, I summited Mount Kilimanjaro with the most amazing team thanks to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Embark Exploration Company. When I signed up for this journey, I did not even know where Mount Kilimanjaro was located, but I could see myself at the summit and that was all I needed to know. My vision was crystal clear.

The night that we summited, I came out of my tent at over 15,000’ to find thunder and lightning below me as I stood in a blizzard with freezing cold winds whipping. It was surreal. We climbed in the dark of night for over eight hours, at times I was convinced that I’d lost all ten fingers to frostbite, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I kept reminding myself that I was safe, I was loved, I was guided. I kept moving forward. It was the most amazing journey of my life. I’ve written a day to day recap on my blog for those interested. I can say with confidence that this journey to the top pushed me well beyond my comfort zone, required every ounce of resilience I had in my bones, and absolutely increased my overall resiliency. Making it to the top of that mountain was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but my God, it was so worth it!

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

Start the day by doing something that makes you uncomfortable or challenges you. At My Steady Mind (MSM), we talk about “embracing the suck”. When we rise in the morning we have the choice to control our day or let it control us. By doing something uncomfortable or challenging first thing in the morning and overcoming it, we set ourselves up with an “I can handle anything that comes my way today” attitude for the remainder of the day. At MSM we share ideas like taking a cold shower every morning for seven days in a row or commiting to making your bed every morning if that’s not something you regularly do. The idea is to push yourself to do things that are not part of your norm, things that challenge you, because each time you do you strengthen that resilience muscle. It’s similar to the concept shared in the book, “Eat That Frog”, by Brian Tracy. Tackle your biggest or most difficult task first thing each day. When we take this approach, we move ourselves into a positive mindset that sets the tone for the rest of the day and sets us up for success.

Move your body. Recently I was listening to “Tribe Of Mentors” by Tim Ferriss and Jimmy Fallon said “every smart person and stable person I know both walks and meditates.” I just loved this quote! We actually have the opportunity to improve our mindset and our resiliency by simply choosing to move our bodies. When we take a simple walk, dance, hike, lift weights, whatever it might be, our muscles actually release chemicals into our body that help make us feel better and help our brains become more resilient to stress. When we move our body we actually change our brain structurally over time in the most beneficial way leading us to feel good.

Focus on the positive. Resiliency lives and breeds in our minds. We are meant to build ourselves up, not tear ourselves down. As Buddha said, “What you think, you become.” It is so important to focus on and appreciate the positives in your life both professionally and personally. When I ask my clients to write down three things they appreciate and love about themselves every day for one full week, they often share with me that the exercise was difficult for them. An untrained mind will flock to the things we don’t love about ourselves and so this exercise helps push my clients and train their minds minds to do the exact opposite, find the positive. Over time with more practice, it becomes easier and easier to do.

Meditate. Our breath is like a superpower. By taking deep breaths, we trigger our parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and act like a parachute to catch us, slow us down, and bring us into a calmer state. When we allow ourselves to get quiet and simply focus on our breath, it helps to pull us into the present moment. When we mindlessly time travel into the past or the future, we are often left feeling anxious, less than, regretful, sad, angry, and more. Meditation brings us to the present moment and allows us to accept and experience that moment exactly how it is and then, with our next breath, we let that moment go and move into the next.

Meditation takes practice. I remember when I started years ago all kinds of thoughts were floating around in my head. There was nothing “quiet” about my mind. I had trouble sitting still and it was extremely difficult to hone in on the present moment because I was grabbing onto thoughts about my day, my work, tasks I needed to get done, etc… Now, thanks to an amazing Coach I had, I picture those thoughts like butterflies in my mind. When I sit down to meditate, I picture the butterflies flying away and I trust that if I need them later, I can call them back. This allows me to drop into presence and if a thought should find it’s way in, which it often does, I let it fly away and pull myself back once again to the present moment.

Resilience is being able to bounce back. When we practice meditation, we are constantly training our brains to bounce back to the present and effectively building that resilience muscle.

Breathe and respond. Don’t react. When we receive what we perceive as bad news, negativity, or a threat, our body’s sympathetic nervous system is triggered. That “freeze, fight, or flight” sets off a cascade of events internally to protect us. Our digestion slows down, our breathing speeds up, our muscles tense up, our heart starts pounding. In this state, it is extremely difficult to mindfully respond to a situation. Instead, we tend to knee-jerk react.

Let’s say you’ve just opened a performance review from your boss and while 75% of it is great, the other 25% is perceived as negative. Of course, you’re focused on the 25% because when you break it down, it is being perceived as a threat. So your mind starts racing, you feel your heart rate speed up, you feel your body tense up, and you want to react by firing back an E-Mail to your boss that likely won’t serve you well. Instead of making that potentially fatal mistake, stop yourself, take pause, and breathe. When we focus on our breath, in and out, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system which calms us down. It moves us away from the “freeze, fight, or flight” space and into a calm space. We can then begin to think rationally and shift our mindset from perceiving the feedback as a threat to perceiving it as an opportunity to learn, to grown, to expand ourselves. From this space, we are ready to respond in a mindful and intentional manner.

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 started this thing I call “airport joy” when I was traveling quite a bit a few summers ago. I noticed that when I was walking through the airport the overwhelming feeling I got was heavy. Now, I understand that not all travel is happy travel, but the number of humans I was encountering that had their head down on their phones, refused eye contact, looked outright angry, were rushing around with no respect for those around them, or just gave off super low energy really stood out to me. Since I am on a mission to spread happiness and believe that our energy spreads like wildfire, I came up with my own little experiment. I decided that I would attempt to make eye contact and smile with as many people as I could at the airport.

At first it felt super uncomfortable to do this, but I did it anyway, and much to my surprise, it worked. The more authentic happiness I exuded as I walked, the more people I got to smile. I smiled at them and they smiled back. I let my happiness flow and the ripple effect took place right before my eyes. It was beautiful and amazing and I loved it!

So I suppose if I could inspire an “airport joy” movement but spread it into all different places, like the grocery stores, parking lots, busy cities, restaurants, really everywhere that humans interact, I would do that. We need more positive energy, happiness, and smiles in this world, especially right now.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Jesse Itzler.

While I don’t follow every move he makes, I do know that I feel pulled to him. He exudes resilience, authenticity, and positive energy. I absolutely love that he has taken the leap over and over with business ventures, some of which failed miserably and others that have been wildly successful and changed the world! I think I see myself in him in the sense that we are both a bit crazy (in the best way!), we both love taking risks, getting uncomfortable, going all in when we believe in something, and are always up for a challenge. I would love to go on some crazy adventure with him, be challenged, learn from him, and grow massively because of it. He just seems like such a great human and I love great humans. Also, he is married to Sarah Blakely who is an icnon so that’s a giant bonus!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The easiest way to see what I am up to is to visit my website or to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Author(s)

  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.