An Interview With Jake Frankel
Expectation is a double-edged sword. Don’t hold on so tightly to expectations, rather be present enough to accept whatever is happening at the moment. When we don’t have an attachment to the outcome then we suffer less.
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 Nikki Castle.
Nikki Castle, a Professional Certified Life Coach, specializes in guiding individuals who may feel lost and in need of support. Her compassionate approach addresses various aspects of life, including identity, relationships, traumas, feeling stuck, depression, and the need for a listening ear.
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?
My childhood was challenging but necessary I would say. Even as a child, there was something there that was different, I felt it. But in a world that promotes the conditioned mind and “traditional values” it was difficult for me to really explore my extraordinary. Even at this moment, as I am speaking I am still embracing my difference. I was always to myself, not because of social anxiety but in pursuit of finding myself even in the tender fruits of my youth. Now I feel like I need to explain what I mean by being different. So it has nothing to do with identity, I think for a lot of folks when they hear the word “different” they attribute it to identity. What I am speaking about is awareness, the awareness of who I truly am. If you ask the world to define you it will. This recognition separated me as a child, it wasn’t weird, just different. Was I searching, at one point I thought I was, but nothing was lost, just for me to discover. And may I add, to the reader that is confirming these words, you are much nearer than you think.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Let’s see, becoming a life coach was not a career choice for me, I had a passion for cooking and feeding people and still do. So it was about a community of people coming together around food for me. So I pursued it and later on, moved on to be a fitness coach while working in health care. For me, it was about not just physical fitness but also the “being”. The body might look good but do you feel good? I always found myself in spaces that facilitated care to serve humanity in a positive way. All along the way, there has always been a pull to help others. So to answer the question, it chose me. For me, I always felt a pull or a knocking or even a calling, an inner calling. A profound sense of there is more to “life” than just what I am seeing or experiencing was always there. This has been my teacher and guide. There was also a sense of being different, not special, just different. This I grew to embrace.
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? Can you share a story about that?
The simple answer to that question is me. I found myself, my true nature and my joy became full. Now in the context of others helping me, yes I got encouragement from people who recognized that “difference” in me, and even the ones who discouraged me served me as well. “Life takes care of life,” so along the way everything around me, the good and the bad brought me home to myself. “Nestled inside of the cocoon of every situation, there is a lesson to be learned.”
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?
Don’t try to coach family and friends. It just does not work because it can be viewed as a personal opinion. Don’t try to be the coach of your significant other. Many people think of coaching as giving advice. For me, I simply point you to things that come up for you that may interfere with your growth. Coaching people who are present in your daily life can sometimes have a negative effect based on their perspective and can feel more as if you are giving an opinion and using it to your advantage. It is best to separate the two.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am working on my writing which is something I recognized in the last couple of years. Now I don’t write novels but what I write is letters to my reader which in some way presents the same as if I am in a “session” with them. I call them letters because they contain a personal message to the readers. So I am excited about doing more of that.
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?
First, know who you are, it is the tuning fork to your “brand” or your becoming. Make sure the relationship with yourself is healthy and strong. Make sure your connection to yourself is there first. That intuitive guide. You will have a lot of people telling you what worked for them, but knowing what works for you is why I say make sure you are connected to your true self. Have a plan but be open, don’t limit yourself. Being open is not only humbling but you become more expansive and you grow.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
We are all authorities on joy, why because it arises in all of us. But you must recognize this and a part of me being a Life Coach is pointing you to this recognition. The source of your joy is you!
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?
Well, privilege and opportunities do not give you joy. Joy is expressed through happiness but this is felt not bought. Innately joy comes from within, no one gives you joy. Certain experiences cultivate happiness which is joy expressing itself. So what I am pointing to is that, in this dance of life where there are all these emotions to be experienced, the acceptance of the dance or play of life helps us all to cultivate a more joyous experience. Opportunities come and go, privilege is elusive, and joy is within. If you allow the world to tell you who you are it will, and it will also tell you what you need to be happy. This I have found not to be an experience of truth. The evidence is seen all around us. In a world where there’s so much going on, life and death, war and peace, hot and cold, this is what I call the “dance or play” of life. We all experience these things and the acceptance of these things somewhat soften the blow or the suffering of these experiences. So as we experience these unpleasantness in life we have the choice not to suffer from them as well. This is not to discourage what you feel in the moment but finding peace in the midst of it all is possible. Okay, I’ll give you an example, when we lose someone we want them to rest in peace and yet we carry on in pain. Find meaning in the pain. I hope this is not too much to say, but I hope you get it.
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?
You are joy, so the myths and misconceptions are that you need something or someone to experience joy. You are life and the witness to life, how you perceive is a greater part of how you experience. So if you are looking or searching for happiness look no further. Joy arises in you and if you try to find it in another source you will never be satisfied. I speak this in love.
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?
They try to find happiness by losing more of themselves. So what I mean by this is, reaching outwards to find something that can only be found within. Overcompensating, self-sacrifice, self-blame, and feeling less than is never rewarding, we do this to try to be happy or to please others in hopes of “feeling” happiness. An example is not really following your own intuition but taking on a profession to please maybe our family members, or maybe starting a family because that is what you were taught to do and now you are unhappy because you don’t know who you are. Most of us recognize this at a much later stage in our lives by doing things in pursuit of happiness. All the while you did not recognize that we cannot be happy without ourselves.
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?”
Well, the first thing I would say which I think would be the most important is acceptance. If we resist, it persists! So not accepting what is can rob us of our joy. If you accept that the rose comes with thorns then you can enjoy the beauty and sweet smell of the rose. Another thing that I feel helps us to experience more joy is being spontaneous. We are so mechanical and routine in our daily lives that we miss those simple yet beautiful moments in our lives, but by being open and present you recognize the moments that light up your soul even though you had plans. Recognizing unhealthy thoughts is another way or practice that can cultivate a more fragrant experience of joy in our lives. We entertain these negative thoughts based on our past experiences which sabotage our present experience robbing us of our joy. If you notice everything that I am pointing to only requires you. Another thing would be the renewing of your mind or the deconditioning of the mind. Most of us operate in a state of mind and not a state of being. Simply being open to a state of being cultivates more joy and happiness. The mind is unstable and will not be able to sustain you in this imperfect world. Finally, expectation is a double-edged sword. Don’t hold on so tightly to expectations, rather be present enough to accept whatever is happening at the moment. When we don’t have an attachment to the outcome then we suffer less.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
I would say to that concerned friend, be the joy. Even in the darkest of nights, the smallest candle will illuminate. To support is not to figure out how to make someone better but to ask them how you can support them in their hour of need.
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.
I would love to inspire a movement of saying hello to anyone you meet that you don’t know in your daily lives. May this be a viral movement, it doesn’t hurt to say hello. Bring more kindness to the world.
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 😊
I would love to have a conversation with Oprah Winfrey. I think she has used her platform in positive ways and that is to be admired.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can search for me on the zant app to get a first-free consultation with me and discounted rates from there, and my IG is @Letterwriter_
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!
Nikki Castle Of zant On Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.