Be aware of what thoughts you are thinking and how you react to the event or situation. We have a choice. We can look at all that went wrong or look for the good and what we can learn from the experience. Awareness is key. We have to know what our thoughts are to change them. I was in my early forties before I understood that I could actually change the way I thought, which had the power to change my life. I assumed that you thought the way you thought, and that was that. I used to love to drink wine; however, it made me very sick. And even with that knowledge, when I seriously tried to stop, I had a difficult time. I contacted a friend of mine who had given up drinking, and she was terrific. I was taken under her wing and exposed to a more metaphysical way of thinking than I had previously practiced. She taught me to let go of trying to control everything and everyone; to trust in a higher power. Because of the struggle to quit drinking, I discovered a whole new spiritual path, and my life opened to so many opportunities. I was working to make more of my life even though it was not easy. That was my choice. I didn’t sink into the challenge. I looked for the good; I looked for ways to improve. Thinking happy thoughts brings about a happy life; you just have to pay attention.
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 Marilyn Joy.
After a long career in broadcasting, Marilyn Joy became a certified transformational life coach and meditation teacher. For over 20 years, she has studied and implemented transformational success principles. As a meditation teacher, trainer, and certified coach, her workshops and coaching programs help people breakthrough limitations to achieve clarity, confidence, and soul-satisfying success.
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?
I accepted a fellowship with an organization called The Committee For The Future. CFF believed that humans are on an evolutionary journey and we need to create a world that works for everyone. I was in my early twenties, and this thinking was so radical for a Southside Chicago girl. I had done some volunteer work with them while I was in college, and they were establishing a training and education center in Washington D.C., and they asked me to join them. One of the founders, Barbara Marx Hubbard, owned a mansion in Rock Creek Park, where we lived and worked. We had experts in various fields come to the house for dinner and conversation. There were some pretty amazing people: Jonas Salk, Werner Von Braun, Jean Houston, and some pretty amazing evenings. We were taught by the best and the brightest. Our mission was to bring people from all different backgrounds together to find solutions to the problems we all share. We were discussing climate change in the 1970s. Co-founder John Whiteside created a video company to televise conferences we were holding and invited the public to participate. I was with CFF for almost five years, and it was an adventure. I learned so much about myself and life. It put me on a trajectory of passion and success.
I was so taken with television broadcasting that I pursued a career as a video editor and spent many years editing documentaries and news. I always felt it was important that I contribute something to the world with my work. Sometimes I could accomplish that, sometimes not so much. I was born with a Spiritual calling, and broadcasting is not a very Spiritual business; I really wanted to teach meditation. I had no idea how I could do that with my work schedule, so it was only a dream for many years, something I didn’t believe would come true. But the industry began to undergo significant changes, and so did I. The Universe has a way of orchestrating events.
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?
One of the most interesting stories from my career is how after almost forty years, I faced major changes in the broadcasting industry and decided that I no longer wanted to be a part of it. My great union jobs as an editor were turned into writer, producer, editor jobs, and I was at the point in my life where I didn’t want to make that kind of change. However, I continued while I became certified to teach meditation, and after several years and some scary times, I started to teach. The best lesson I learned from this is that there is always another way. I didn’t know what to do about my job changes and what I could do instead for some time. I had always thought I would be an editor. My identity was tied up in that self-image. That belief was so deep that it took some real resilience, confidence in a better future to step out and find something else. I had to find out who I was; in the process, I was able to find another way.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Trust. Both my trust in myself and life and the trust that others place in me. If I continue to pursue my dreams and live what I am teaching, beautiful experiences and relationships will flow into my life, everything is working out for me, and I believe the same for my clients. People I have coached think that I am who I say I am. I worked with one client for twelve weeks, and we were coming to the end of our scheduled sessions; she told me that she was going to miss our sessions, loved my sense of humor, and loved that she trusted me. We decided to extend the coaching program. This acknowledgment was a great affirmation of my coaching and a challenge to design more classes.
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?
There are so many people you meet along the way who teach and help you, but personally, it would be my mom. She was the one who shaped the beliefs I have about who I am. She had a “get it done” personality, and she was a great teacher. She would always encourage me to keep trying. When I was very young and attempting to learn how to skip, I could not do it, and I was getting very frustrated. Mom told me to keep at it, that I would get it, and she reminded me of The Little Engine That Could. That did it! I think I can! I will never forget the feeling of joy when I finally mastered skipping, and it has stayed with me as a life lesson: I think I can. It comes to me in moments when I am feeling overwhelmed or uncertain.
Professionally, John Whiteside, the co-founder of The Committee For The Future was a big influence. He was a retired air force colonel who believed in the space program and reaching for the stars. One day he announced that we would be broadcasting live news shows each evening of a conference that we were holding. The show would be a wrap-up of the events of the day. I was to be the newscaster . . .What? I couldn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth. We had never done a live news show, and I certainly had never been a newscaster. I was terrified. John asked one of his friends from ABC to come down to Washington and give us a crash course. We somehow managed to pull it off for three nights. I learned the true meaning of terror, and I can’t say much for my newscasting abilities. But we accomplished what we had set out to do, and with each conference, we got better. Reaching for the stars was possible. I could do something I had never done before, even if I wasn’t ready or perfect.
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?
To me, being resilient means getting up every time you get knocked down. We all experience setbacks in life; the key is not to let them overwhelm you and keep you stuck. Just learning to walk requires that you develop resilience. Every time you fell trying to take a step forward, you got back up and tried again, and eventually, you were able to walk. Looking at how young we are when we develop this trait, it seems essential to survival. We all can keep going when times get tough. It is hard to imagine humans surviving this long without the ability to be resilient. It can also change how we look at life. An attitude of overcoming difficulties can have a substantial effect on our success in life. Maintaining a resilient mindset consists of believing in a positive future, having solid core values and goals, and the ability to learn from mistakes and move on.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I believe courage is the ability to take action even though you are afraid. Resilience is the ability to move on after adversity. I think that it takes quite a bit of courage to become resilient. In so many ways, they seem to work hand in hand. To have a positive outlook of the future and have goals that you are committed to, which you need for resiliency, you have to have the courage to take risks and experience failure without letting it hold you back.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Hillary Clinton. She has setback after setback, and she still shows up to try again. During the 90s, her husband publicly humiliated her; she stood for what she believed, and she stood up to the media. Her health care plans were dashed, and many in government tried to diminish her. She sat through the Benghazi hearings and, of course, two presidential bids. All of this was taking place in the public eye. Ms. Clinton keeps coming back. She has the mindset of someone who knows what they want and believes that they can achieve it.
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?
My first car had a manual transmission; I wasn’t clear on how to drive it, but it was much cheaper than an automatic transmission, so I went ahead and bought it, thinking I would figure it out. Well, it was quite a struggle to get all the moving parts to move in the proper order. My boyfriend at the time told me that I would never be able to drive the car because my legs were too short. That was all I needed to hear. I would show him. I bravely set out for a hilly road and spent the afternoon grinding the gears. Finally, finally, the transmission moved smoothly through the gears as I worked the clutch; it was like learning how to ride a bike; once you get it, you won’t forget how to do it.
I still prefer a manual transmission; it speaks of victory!
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?
My career of many years upended by changes in technology and job structure just as I was heading into my sixties was probably the most significant setback I have faced. I had family and friends that lent their support, and I had my spiritual community, which soothed my soul and gave me faith in life working out for the best. But I had to find my way, which involved many experiences outside of my comfort zone. I tried some projects that did not work out, but I kept searching for a solution, and then I began to follow what was in my heart all along; teaching and coaching. I can finally spend my time finding the gifts in others and watching clients move towards their dreams as I continue to work on my own growth.
The last few years have shown me that life has a way of taking care of itself. You can listen to your heart or ignore it until the universe hits you over the head with a wake-up call. I know we are all unique and have unique gifts to share; the discovery and unfolding of these gifts make up a beautiful life, and it is our responsibility to share our gifts with the world. I am delighted that I now get to encourage others to discover their dreams.
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?
Learning to know, love, and accept who I am has been my best tool for cultivating resilience. I have deep spiritual beliefs. I know that I am a creation of love, and my purpose is to share that with others. This is what keeps me going. I cultivate this through meditation, and I keep these thoughts forefront in my mind.
Many experiences have taught me resilience, but one that stands out is when I was in first grade. My teacher was a terror. It was the 1950s, and things were very different then. She had a row of desks she called the “dumbbell row” that you would have to sit in if you got an answer wrong or did poorly on a test. Well, I spent the entire year in that row. I was so afraid of that woman: a symbol of knowledge yelling at me about how stupid I was. One day she called on me to read aloud. I thought I would pass out. I got to a word I couldn’t pronounce, and she told me I would never learn to read and sent me back to the “dumbbell row.” Now, my mother was an avid reader, and she had taught me to read, so I knew I was not stupid. I will never forget going back to my desk and reading the entire damn book. It took me a long time to work through this whole experience, but it showed me not to let someone else’s opinion influence my beliefs about myself. I was able to build a strong sense of self and value by realizing that no one else knows me as well as I do.
Mercifully my mother moved me to another school after that year.
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.
BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU ARE THINKING
First step: Be aware of what thoughts you are thinking and how you react to the event or situation. We have a choice. We can look at all that went wrong or look for the good and what we can learn from the experience. Awareness is key. We have to know what our thoughts are to change them. I was in my early forties before I understood that I could actually change the way I thought, which had the power to change my life. I assumed that you thought the way you thought, and that was that. I used to love to drink wine; however, it made me very sick. And even with that knowledge, when I seriously tried to stop, I had a difficult time. I contacted a friend of mine who had given up drinking, and she was terrific. I was taken under her wing and exposed to a more metaphysical way of thinking than I had previously practiced. She taught me to let go of trying to control everything and everyone; to trust in a higher power. Because of the struggle to quit drinking, I discovered a whole new spiritual path, and my life opened to so many opportunities. I was working to make more of my life even though it was not easy. That was my choice. I didn’t sink into the challenge. I looked for the good; I looked for ways to improve. Thinking happy thoughts brings about a happy life; you just have to pay attention.
Once you have your thinking going in a positive direction, look to your core values. What do you believe? How do you make decisions?
There have been many times when I would have been much better off if I had stuck to my core values. It is a state of mind. When you are honest about what matters most to you, you have trustworthy guidance and direction. Most of my missteps involved fear of lack of money. During the time I was moving from broadcasting to teaching, I had some financial challenges. One day a woman called me and asked me if I would help her out the next day on an editing job. I asked her what kind of software she was using, and it was a program I did not know. Under normal circumstances, I would have told her that and suggested someone else for her to contact. But I was giving into desperate thinking, which led me to a desperate decision. I took the job. Now my core values tell me to be honest, and upfront and everything will work out for the best. If I base my decisions according to what has true meaning, I won’t have to regret my choices, and I can confidently move forward. That’s not what happened. I could not have had a worse experience. We did not meet our deadline. I had put this poor woman in a bad position, and I lost out on future work. I had to really look at what I had done. My thinking was full of fear and negativity, and I went against my beliefs, trying to control something I had no control over. Facing what I had done was not easy for me, but I couldn’t beat myself up over it. I had to learn my lessons and keep moving forward. Learning to trust yourself and make decisions according to your beliefs will give you the resiliency to keep going.
I have been going to my local Unity church for many years, and over time I started getting opportunities to lead guided meditations during the Sunday service. I had never gotten up and spoken in public before and had never taught a meditation that I had written before. I had stage fright. But I got up and led the meditation, and after the first time, a friend of mine suggested I record them and put them online. I found I loved doing this so much that every time someone has asked me to teach meditation, I say yes, and every time I feel more confidant and that I am getting better as a teacher. I know that each time I get up in front of people, I will get more experience. This self-confidence gave me what I needed to continue to step out of my comfort zone and become a life coach. Taking small steps and saying yes to opportunities can help you build self-confidence, and when you run into a setback, you can move through it because you have learned that you have what it takes.
SET GOALS AND BELIEVE IN A POSITIVE FUTURE
Setting goals you are passionate about gives fuel to power you forward even when times are tough. Knowing there is a purpose and reason for what you are doing changes everything, no matter the setback. This purpose is a quality that you will find in successful people; the desire to keep moving in the direction of their dreams and the ability to believe that their dreams will come true in the future. I loved my work for the longest time, but I didn’t have a destination other than to keep working and make money. This wasn’t enough to sustain me. I would often be unhappy with the working conditions or my schedule or the project, and I was drifting. It wasn’t until being forced to make a change that I really looked at what I wanted to do, and I began to set goals that I would love to achieve, not just a “to-do” list. Some of the goals were entirely new for me, and I was very excited about the possibility of bringing them to fruition. With each accomplishment, I was elated. It was so great to take on new challenges and succeed. Once I was clear on what I wanted, the motivation to take the steps forward was powerful. I found I had the resilience to keep going past my limitations over and over.
DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN STRONG RELATIONSHIPS
My family and friends have made my life so rich. I think the pandemic taught so many of us that our loved ones are more important than anything else. COVID showed us that working all the time isn’t that fulfilling. There is more to life. I feel people are seeing they need to put more time and effort into their relationships. I have worked with some great co-workers in broadcasting. But it is a stressful business with live deadlines always looming, and it was easy to go from being the best editor to the worst editor (in other people’s opinion) in a pretty short amount of time. I never took any criticism personally. I knew I was a good editor, and by maintaining that, I was not thrown off balance by the heat of the moment. Thankfully I had my friends’ support, and they had mine. When situations became stressful, you had to take a deep breath and start in again. There was no time to analyze feelings or anything close to that. It was the friendships that made it all tolerable, and before we knew it, we would be laughing our heads off in the editing room and moving on to the next show. It is like that with most jobs; it is the people who make it worthwhile. Knowing that you have others in your corner, believing in you helps you overcome some of the most difficult challenges. Give your best to everyone in your life.
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. 🙂
Worldwide meditation. If people came together simultaneously daily and meditated on love, we could solve all our problems. There is nothing that more love will not cure. For our very survival, we need to find a way to work together and care for each other. When we all do this, we lift everyone. Group meditation brings minds and hearts together, and the ripple effect is quite powerful.
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 🙂
I would love to meet Deepak Chopra. He has made meditation so accessible, and he always has a powerful message. I have taken many of his classes, and I think it would be so interesting to have a one-on-one conversation.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My coaching website is: https://joytransformation.com
LightPoint Meditation is my YouTube channel for guided meditations
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!