Focus on your inner-world. When you pursue happiness as a pathway, you will come up against that which makes you unhappy. So instead of falling into duality it is helpful to look within and discover the entire landscape of your emotional and psychological landscape. You can do this through dream-work and through journaling.
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 Athena Laz
Athena Laz is the bestselling author of The Alchemy of Your Dreams and The Deliberate Dreamer’s Journal. She is also a Depth Psychologist and Lucid Dream Teacher. Her work helps thousands of people worldwide to decode their inner worlds through decoding their dreams, symbols and images. See her site here: www.athenalaz.com and follow her here: @athena_laz
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 was lucky enough to grow up in a household with wonderful siblings and parents who had great resilience (and found small reasons to be happy) despite having lived through difficult experiences like surviving a war.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I was very inspired by the work of the late self-help author Louise Hay and knew after reading her work that I wanted to help others to decode their inner worlds, so when my book The Alchemy of Your Dreams got published it felt like a complete full circle moment for me!
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?
There are just far too many people to list! But the main person who believed in me even when I severely doubted myself was my husband! I believe there will always be moments that challenge us in life but its how we rise up to meet them that matters most!
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?
There were so many but I guess the most interesting mistake I made was think that a competitive environment would somehow turn into a collaborative one. Through that mistake, I learnt to be more discerning about who I share my energy and time with and that has been incredibly helpful!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The most exciting project that I am focusing on is The Dream Collective . The collective is a worldwide group of incredible people who explore their inner-worlds — that is the depths of their psyche’s and soul — through the language of dreams, symbols and images. Collective consciousness will heal when individuals begin to focus on healing!
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?
Unwavering belief in yourself, discipline to do the things you don’t feel like doing (especially when you are just starting out!) and consistency in listening to your dreams (intuition) as well as with taking aligned action. In the words of Anne Sexton: “Put your ear down close to your Soul and listen hard!”
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?
I wouldn’t say I’m an authority on joy but I can say I am a dream expert and depth psychologist who helps others map their own pathways to joy, wholeness, and well-being through experiencing the full facets of who they are and how they feel.
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?
It’s easy to equate joy with privilege and opportunities but it’s too limited a conversation. Joy is complex — the pursuit of happiness is multifaceted no matter where you live.
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?
I think believing that happiness is a state that can be maintained at all times (and that somehow if you feel sadness, loss or grief that you are failing or somehow less than!) is an emotional and cognitive trap bound to let one down. I think facets of acceptance and surrender as discussed in Buddhism are incredibly helpful. If you are in less resistance to what is happening externally (if you accept and don’t grasp for things to be other than what they are), then that act of surrender can lead to peace and with that there is a level of serene happiness that comes with it. This also doesn’t mean a lack in taking action to change things that need changing — it just means you don’t get as internally hurt and rattled in the process of change and transformation.
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?
I think extreme and toxic positivity is probably the biggest mistake on the path of trying to find genuine happiness.
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?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)
- Focus on your inner-world. When you pursue happiness as a pathway, you will come up against that which makes you unhappy. So instead of falling into duality it is helpful to look within and discover the entire landscape of your emotional and psychological landscape. You can do this through dream-work and through journaling.
- Understand that in collective times of hardship developing healthy habitual routines of wellness can be incredibly helpful and life nurturing. Simple things like doing a 5 minute meditation in the morning, setting intentions for the day, speaking to and supporting your friends and family, walking for at least twenty minutes and placing good sleep habits in place are all helpful.
- Get good and radiant rest.
- Watch feel good movies and videos that add joy inject joy into your life.
- Cull any negative social media habits out of your life and learn something new (like how to lucid dream for example!).
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?
Speak to the person who is suffering — tell them that you are worried about them and that you can help them to reach out and get external professional support and help. Try and listen to them as empathetically as you can! You can also focus on actions like making nutritious meals for them and setting a time to walk together which can also be incredibly supportive and helpful. Consistency and compassion are key with helping anyone who is feeling down!
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 like to see a movement of dreamers worldwide who focus their attention and intention on creating a world that is rich in nature, biodiversity and animal life — as well as peaceful. Collective intention and action can and will change the course of our future!
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 🙂
Sara Blakely — I am so inspired her heart and the business she created by following her heart and dreams.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My site is here: www.athenalaz.com
My dream group: www.athenalaz.com/dreamcollective
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!