FEEDBACK, FEAR, FAILURE
Something that I often tell people to do as part of moving from AT -> WITH is have a chat WITH your ego. I've never really written about the experience, so I thought I would here. I feel like FEEDBACK is the middle child F word sandwiched in between siblings FEAR and FAILURE. It often gets overlooked, but is just as important even though we hear about FEEDBACK less often. FEAR and FAILURE often play key roles in FEEDBACK as well.
Let's begin a few weeks ago (which feels like at least a year ago) when my sister called, "So...mom has been taken, there was a lawyer who served the caregiver a letter saying mom wanted to go back to Singapore and file a Temporary Restraining Order against dad..." Let's just say that the ensuing drama could have been the sequel to the movie Crazy Rich Asians sans Rich part.
TRUE SELF: Gosh, there has been so much drama going on. I want to share it WITH others.
EGO: Nah, not a good idea. People will judge you. It will ruin your career. Nobody will hire you as a coach/speaker anymore.
TRUE SELF: Other people's judgments are on them. I am whole and perfect as I am, regardless of what is going on around me or with people around me.
EGO: I wrote a book. Why aren't I famous yet?
TRUE SELF: Is that why you wrote your book?
EGO: Yeah, I mean, I wanna make a ton of money and be on all of these T.V. shows...
TRUE SELF: Actually, on a micro level, it was about overcoming fear, and pushing through fear, doing what I have always told students before and now clients, "You can do whatever you put your mind to." And on a macro level, it's about changing the narrative. If a younger Asian woman sees me on the cover of my book, she also sees what is possible for her.
HUBBY: How'd the interview go?
EGO: Ughhhh...it was tough. They had a lot of constructive feedback about what I could have improved on. There was my time management, I didn't site my sources correctly, my example was too long, I went off script, and so on. Ironically, the topic was on feedback.
TRUE SELF: Right, but there was positive stuff too, right? Stuff that you did well?
EGO: Yeah, but I would rather focus on the negative and vent about that.
TRUE SELF: Well, you put yourself out there and you grew, expanded, and that is the most important thing.
TRUE SELF: Why is it so difficult for me to receive feedback?
EGO: Because your mom was such a harsh critic, and your dad is pretty negative, so it makes sense that you would then carry that around into adulthood.
TRUE SELF: Oh, is that why I always feel like I am not good enough?
EGO: Yeah, exactly.
TRUE SELF: I would disagree. You are not defined by your past, nor are you defined by what people have done or said to you in your past. And you can create your own narrative.
EGO: I want to be the next Asian Oprah!
TRUE SELF: Why not just be the best version of yourself?
Let's end with a conversation I had WITH my friend June.
JUNE: Kyla, I feel like you are forgiving of everyone around you and not yourself.
ME: Yeah, you're right.
JUNE: It's like this. You can only shove so much stuff under the rug before you start tripping up on it. You gotta deal WITH your shit.
ME: Whoa...can I quote you?
*Thank you June for reminding me of my TRUE SELF and for being an awesome influence/role model in Peyton's life. I can tell she's already a WITH Warrior like her Mama!*
MY THROAT CHAKRA
"All of your chakras are open and look great, except your throat chakra," Chris said without judgment. Chris is a good friend of mine who is deeply spiritual and hails from South Africa.
Up until quite recently, I didn't really know or care to know what my chakras were and why it mattered to have them aligned and balanced. Chris' comment stayed WITH me though.
LOSING MY VOICE
In high school, my sophomore year I had tonsillitis. Except it was misdiagnosed by western doctors as strep throat. They would give me medicine, the pain would go away for a week and then stubbornly return. Then one day, my mom recommended that I take ginseng root in the morning and night for a week. She would diligently boil it for me and I would reluctantly gulp it down. I rolled my teenaged angsty eyes at her, but after the pain did not return, I was pleasantly surprised. It has since never come back and I still drink boiled ginseng root whenever I feel a sore throat coming on. Thanks mom.
I would have to say that I spent most of my life telling people what they wanted to hear. I got so good at it that it replaced my own true voice. At home, my parents would often argue with each other, and my sister was rather outspoken, so my own voice was often drowned out. I also desperately wanted to be the peace maker in our family, and for a while there, I thought I was doing a good job at it.
FINDING MY VOICE
At a workshop in Belgium last December, surrounded by awesome women from the Professional Women's International Network, I shared a story of how I found my voice. In fact, that was the title of my workshop. I looked up at the sea of women's faces, not fearing judgment, and spoke my truth. There is something to be said about how much you grow when you share your truth WITH others.
STEPPING INTO YOUR POWER
"I am really happy to see your sister stepping into her power more, since she has always been a people pleaser," Chris told my sister. Another Chris, and another comment that stayed WITH me. This time, it was my sister's husband, my brother-in-law. He was referring to my book that I had gifted them this past Christmas. 340 pages of my own voice. I had never thought about it that way. Whenever I write, it's because there is something that needs to come out of me, something brewing, and it needs to be shared.
YOU CAN NEVER SHRINK BACK DOWN
On a call with my spiritual coach Szilvia, these are the words she gleefully exclaimed, "Kyla, you can never shrink back down." She was ecstatic that I had published both English and Korean versions of my book, and she had also coached me through some extreme anxiety right before I launched them into the world. This time though she was talking about all of my spiritual growth that I had not only done on myself WITH myself and WITH her, but that I had added to the universe WITH my book. Whoa.
THE NOT-SO-EASY SIDE OF IT
At a long overdue lunch and catch up last week, I met up with a good coach friend of mine. I had to share some stuff that had been brewing inside of me. I had assumed things about her, gotten really upset about it, and realized all along it had to do with my own insecurities. She listened kindly and compassionately without judgment, and we realized we were on the same page. Later she pulled out my book, had me sign it, and said, "Because of you, and all that you have done, I know what is possible for me." Oh and our friendship has deepened about tenfold.
HANGING OUT WITH MRS.H.
Those of you who have read the book, will know whom I am referring to. Mrs. H. has been a mentor/friend of mine for many years. We first met in the Bay Area when she hired me to be a tutor for her after school program in Walnut Creek. She was in Korea last week for a visit, so we got to catch up. "You are becoming super famous! Oh my gosh..." she gushed looking at me like a proud mother would. We caught up on life and everything in between and then she asked why I haven't had kids yet. I responded, "Well, I've always been so focused on my career." Mrs. H. then said, "There is no higher career than motherhood." Whoa.
Later on that evening, she texted me after having read her interview I included in the book: "Kyla, I cried! I feel like you said what I want to say to the world!"
There it was. Sometimes when you find your own voice, you inspire other people to find theirs (my dad is working on writing a book about his life!), but you also give voice to people who perhaps didn't know they had it in them.
*Dedicated to + Inspired by all of those voices out there in the world that are just dying to come out*
Over winter break, I got to spend blissful, uninterrupted, magical time WITH my 5 year-old niece Gelly (her nickname) and my sister Miu (her nickname). There was one particular magical afternoon around 4PM. We all decided to go ice-skating in a tiny outdoor rink made for beginners. As we skated around--the first time I had skated since I was a kid, and I tried my darndest with this clunky red skating aid, something absolutely magical happened:
It started to snow.
Then I thought back: I actually hadn't wanted to come, because I don't really like ice-skating. My hubby has asked me on countless occasions to go WITH him, and I have declined much to his dismay. Ok, I'm more of a four-wheeler old skool roller-skating gal myself. But imagine if I had said "no" to Gelly and hadn't come or sat on the sidelines?
Ok, so we've heard that when you assume things, you make an ASS out of U and ME. I think that's quite a clever mnemonic device. But back to assumptions, one thing we do before we create any kind of change is we assume things: Oh, it's going to be hard, it's going to suck, and then we don't even start. As we approach the Lunar New Year, when I usually start thinking about that 6-letter word in terms of New Year's Resolutions, perhaps just simply beginning WITH this question could be a first step in the right direction: Am I making an ASS out of me? Or someone else?
SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE SIZE
Some of the only Cantonese words Miu knows are small, medium, and large size. At school in Hong Kong, she had to learn how to bargain for clothes: sai ma, jung ma, dai ma. I can almost hear her say these words exactly as she did when she was in middle school. Cracks me up. The other thing that is challenging about CHANGE is that big ol' grand gestures generally don't work to impress it. You gotta start witih sai ma (small size). Once you get comfortable WITH your sai ma change, work on a jung ma one, and then when you're super ready, get that dai ma one going. Oh, and you're welcome for teaching you some Cantonese, so the next time you're bargaining for clothes in Hong Kong, you're ready!
THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE
In a phone call WITH my spiritual South African friend Chris, we were getting into some deep stuff about how you know you're on the right path of growth. What does it feel like? How do you know? I mean, there's so much chatter and distraction out there and in your head--not to mention that next Netflix show to binge watch. I told Chris, "To me, it feels like the path of most resistance. It's easy to distract myself by not working on myself, or watching Ellen on YouTube, but the real work...well, it's tough and feels like the path of most resistance."
EGO DOESN'T LIKE CHANGE
At the retreat I went to a few weekends ago, (you can read about it here) one of the many mind-blowing epiphanies I had was when Bruce, one of the trainers said, "Your ego wants you to hold on to guilt and all of those challenging emotions, because who will you be without it? You'll have to actually change and go towards uncovering your true self." Whoa. That's why change is so hard, because your ego likes things to stay the same.
MIU AS A MOM
After Miu had put Gelly to bed, we would usually have conversations over tea in the living room or watch a show on Netflix together. Then we would head upstairs and brush our teeth together in the bathroom, like we did when we were kids. That night, after I had my first fight with Gelly ever, I apologized to Miu. We both started crying and I told her, "I am so incredibly proud of who you have become as a mother. You are such an amazing, patient person. You never yell at Gelly. You're a total WITH Parent." In response, Miu said, "You know, if you ever have a kid, that kid will be lucky to have you as his/her mom." It's been incredible to see my sister CHANGE.
BE A HAPPY PIG
This Lunar New Year, it's the year of the pig. My mom was born in the year of the pig. And as her dementia is progressing, she is in this sweet spot of staying in the moment, not holding on to grudges, sharing her gratitude, and appreciating every single moment she has WITH us. See, change is not so bad after all, right?
*Dedicated to + Inspired by Miu + Gelly*
Do you ever wonder why you intuitively do certain things? Hang out WITH certain people? Choose some things over others? Go on a path that nobody takes but feel like it's the right path for you? You just knew certain things were clearly right for you and certain things were clearly wrong? Well, at a retreat last weekend along the coast of northern California, I finally figured out the WHY behind ME, and thought I'd share.
BE THE MOVIEGOER
The retreat opened up with a meditation: imagine you are watching the movie of your life on screen. You are the main character in this movie. I had done this meditation before with Luke (president of iPEC) at the World Happiness Summit in Miami last March, but this one was deeper. Afterwards we discussed in pairs what we had seen in the first-person and then later on in the third-person. I've always loved watching movies as a child WITH my Popo ("maternal grandma" in Cantonese) and later my mom, but now I understand why it makes sense to begin watching your own life story as a moviegoer. That objectivity helps you to not react to your emotions or get sucked into the drama. The next morning, as I was swimming, as soon as the inner doubter came out, I started saying, "Kyla, you're a F*king badass!" Whoa.
Ok, this is going to sound, well...I won't preempt anything for you. So when Bruce (Founder of iPEC) began asking us to see ourselves in others (literally), I scanned the room and found confused looks. We were just as confused as each other. He brought up Agent Smith from The Matrix, and how he replicated himself. "Imagine you are Agent Smith," he coaxed gently. I closed my eyes and started seeing not myself in them, but seeing things through their perspective. And then two other major epiphanies hit me:
1) ON EMPATHY
Those of you who are empathetic will be able to empathize WITH me deeply on this point. Have you ever thought that it just makes sense to be empathetic? Like when someone else cries, you cry? Or when someone else feels pain, you feel sensations of phantom pain in your body? Well, I've always been an empathetic person and drawn to other empathetic people, but now I understand why! Because we are all one. I am you and you are me, therefore, it makes sense that I would want to empathize WITH you. Whoa.
2) ON JUDGMENT
I am a super judgey person--I will admit that. On the first day of the retreat, I was silently judging everyone in the room. I think I do it so much it has become an auto-pilot habit of mine. Something shifted in me though after we did the Oneness-Meditation-Agent Smith thing. When I would see people in the bathroom, or pass people during break time at the retreat, I began smiling at people. Because I wasn't just smiling at a stranger, I was smiling at myself. Whoa.
THE POWER OF WITH
"You're like that Simon Sinek guy...you know, The Power of Why (Start with Why), but instead yours is the Power of WITH..." Lee semi-joked. She was a fellow participant and made this comment after I had told her about my book and my whole WITH vs AT communication philosophy. I always knew that the way we communicated AT ourselves and AT others was wrong, but now I understood why. When you connect WITH your true self, that is who you truly are. Not what the world outside projects on to you, nor whatever identity has been created AT you. Whoa.
SILENT LUNCH -> SILENT DISCO
On Day 2 we were tasked with having a silent 1.5 hour lunch. My friend Lisa made funny faces on the walk to lunch. We took to creative ways to communicate WITH each other in silence. Then something amazing happened: Millie (one of our friends) started teaching us the Floss Dance. A new friend Kara joined in. Then before you knew it, we were all running towards the beach, tearing our socks and shoes off, and running to the ocean water like kids.
Kara and I held hands as if we had known each other for years. I had never felt more alive. There were so many life metaphors jam-packed into a silent lunch turned disco, but it came to me when Bruce said, "You know, I work with jail inmates and CEOs. They are no different from anyone else. They are all just kids who want to be loved and treated WITH love and kindness." And in that instant on the beach, I understood why I had always embraced my inner child.
There was a moment of hesitation when I saw everyone taking their socks and shoes off. I worried about ruining my perfect outfit, getting sand in my socks and shoes later, but what an incredible teaching: life is messy and beautiful all at once. Embrace it. And your inner child. If you look closely at the first photo above, you'll notice my sock is pulled above my ankle boot and my legging isn't rolled down--imperfectly! Yeahhhhhh!
COURAGE + RADIANCE
11 minutes. The length of time we had to stare into a fellow participant's eyes. I have to say, it was one of the more challenging activities that we had to do. After a while though, I began to see who my person really was: his inner self. We were asked what one word came to mind after the 11 minutes were up. For me, I saw that my person had had a sad childhood, but had overcome it, so I said, "COURAGE." And for me, he said, "You remind me of one of those Buddhist statues, you just radiate light and energy, so I would say RADIANCE." After our deep connection, I told him about what I saw in his childhood and he said, "You are right. I was bullied as a child because I was short, but I have since overcome it."
Maybe in life, in order to see our true selves in our life movie and uncover the WH(Y) behind YO(U), all we really need are two things: COURAGE and RADIANCE. Ok, and a rainbow sprinkling of silent discos, running like a child into the ocean, and other COURAGEOUS and RADIANT humans like my fellow retreat participants to reflect who you truly are.
*Dedicated to + inspired by the incredible OIA Retreat Team + Participants *
The other night at dinner, "Congrats on your book! One day I'd love to hear how you wrote an entire book!" One of my friend's hubbies exclaimed. Another friend's hubby said, "You've got some balls. You're really doing it!" He was referring to how much I put myself out there. Gotta love supportive hubbies.
THE JOURNEY WITHIN THE JOURNEY
They say, writing a book is like a journey. For sure it is, but I kind of see it as like a marathon kind of a journey. But the real journey begins within. All that stuff people say about "mind over matter," well, it is really true. During this journey, the internal journey was the most grueling. There were days, I didn't want to get out of bed let alone write. There were days, I couldn't confront myself or communicate WITH myself. Then there were the Netflix binge days on the couch. And the worst days were the ones filled with self-doubt: What if nobody reads my book? What if nobody buys it?
FROM BROKEN -> BEING
When I began I needed an outlet. I needed a judgment free space where I could just get my thoughts out on paper/computer. I always feared judgment from others. I feared nobody would read my stuff, or nobody would get it, or nobody would care. But once I started writing more, especially within the last several months, like a bird with broken wings, I began at first to timidly fly, and then I came into my own. I realized I didn't need outside validation, even though it felt good to hear from people how my writing had inspired them or see so many friends around me inspired to write their own books.
BLAME -> COMPLAIN -> JUSTIFICATION
In my Happiness Coach Certification program I learned of this paradigm that we humans fall back on. I found myself in this vicious cycle, and I would hear it from others as well. There was so much that I wanted to change about the way in which we communicate, but my blaming this or that, then complaining about it, and finally justifying it was not going to solve anything. I found myself having the same conversations with like-minded and well-meaning humans, but I wanted and needed to move forward.
THE GIRL WHO WANTED TO CHANGE KOREA
I've always loved Korea. I've always felt at home in Korea, like nowhere else in the world. It may sound strange to hear that someone who has no Korean blood feels this way. When I got my Permanent Residency in Korea a few years ago, I was so stoked. Whenever my students and later clients would have a lightbulb moment, I was ecstatic. One of my Korean friends once asked me, "Why do you think you can change Korea?" I answered, "Korea has been so good to me, how could I not do my part?" Turns out, the challenges people face in Korea are actually universal, so even though my book is coming out in Korean first, stay tuned for the English version on Amazon.
THE BOOK I WANTED TO READ
Throughout my 20s and 30s, I read a lot of self-help books written by western authors for a western audience. Having been educated in the west during my high school years and beyond, I understood where they were coming from. However, I didn't see any non-fiction authors who looked like me. It was kind of like when I was out on the global speaking circuit, I didn't see any men or women who looked like me. I wanted advice, I wanted tips, I wanted heck anything, but I couldn't find it in a book, so I wrote one.
THE GREATEST GIFT
It took me more time than I ever would have imagined, but I knew I wanted to give something back to my students in the form of a gift. All my time I had spent learning, growing, teaching WITH my students, all of the times they had encouraged and supported me, all of the times we had laughed, cried, and created change together both inside and outside of the classroom. I always told them, "You can do it, you can do whatever you want to," but I realized that if I didn't finish this book then I wasn't true to myself nor the message I always told my students. Moreover, the greatest gift I could ever give myself or my students and anybody for that matter was my internal validation of myself. Even if nobody ever bought my book, it didn't matter, because the greatest gift was me becoming me.
CREATE YOUR OWN RHAPSODY (Bohemian Rhapsody Spoiler Alert)
"It's too long! It's more than 3 minutes long. No one will play it on the radio. It's like opera. Nobody listens to opera anymore..." The words coming out AT Queen, mostly directed AT Freddie Mercury, the lead singer, haunted me. Then gave me HOPE. It was true that nobody had heard a song quite like Bohemian Rhapsody before. It was also true that at 6 minutes, it was longer than the average song. It was true that it had some operatic components. It was hard to disagree with the record label producer. Just because something is DIFFERENT, doesn't mean there's no value in it. It brought me back to my meeting with the Korean publishing company. My translator lamented, "There are too many pictures. There are too many QR codes." The publishing company's director added, "It's too many pages."
I AM DIFFERENT. I HAVE VALUE. I WILL STAND WITH MY WORK. I CAN #LiveLikeQueen.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO START BELIEVING IN YOUR OWN WORK?
I was catching up WITH two friends from grad school on Zoom. One friend was finishing up her Ph.D. program in the U.S. and was finding it challenging to find meaning in her work. It had been 6 long years, and most recently one of her committee members had committed suicide. Yikes. I could tell that the struggle had been an uphill battle for her. "Should I tell myself that my work has meaning and lie to myself?" she asked us. Then I recalled and recounted a conversation I had WITH my other friend in the Zoom call back in March about my book. She told me point blank, "It doesn't seem like you believe in your work. You need to get behind what you're doing, Kyla. Otherwise, other people won't get behind what you're doing either."
WHOA. I HAD TO BELIEVE IN WHAT I WAS DOING.
I then asked my friend point blank as well, "What do YOU need to do to start believing in your work?" You can #LiveLikeQueen.
EMPIREMENT (EMPOWERMENT + INSPIRATION)> FEAR
In a text message WITH a friend, I was trying to convince her to join a fementrepreneur panel I was putting together. She is a seasoned fementrepreneur: she owns three restaurants, has a single out on iTunes, and is starting a sock business. "Well, I have a lot to say, but nothing to give." I reframed it for her: "What if you could inspire just ONE woman to start her own business?" It seemed to trigger something WITHin her. It really wasn't about her. It was about the EMPIREMENT. Back at that record label office, Queen was willing to walk out on their record label, because the label didn't believe in their music. It wasn't about them. It was about the music. #LiveLikeQueen
ARE YOU WEARING YOUR FRISKY PANTS?
In most of my coaching calls WITH my coach, she will inevitably ask me, "Are you feeling frisky?" I usually blush and say rather sheepishly, "Yes..." I have asked her what she means by "frisky" and she has said it's whatever I want it to mean. I kind of see it as embracing my inner Kylility--something we ended up talking about on our recent call. I feel like Freddie actually embraced his inner Freddility: wearing whatever he wanted, singing what he wanted to, not changing his teeth (his upper teeth jutted out), and just being himself on stage. As someone who has struggled to be herself and embrace my inner Kylility, I came up WITH an idea. What if in those moments of self-doubt, harsh criticism, unwanted feedback pop up, what if you imagine yourself jumping for joy in your frisky pants? Just as Freddie Mercury had done on stage many a time. #LiveLikeQueen
The great thing about being vulnerable and authentic, and being yourself is somewhere out there, you may just inspire someone else to do the same. The thing with inspiration is that you can't see it, or maybe you refuse to see it, but you can feel it. It's that unbelievable high when someone says, "Hey Kyla, you've inspired me to write," or "Kyla, your blog post made me cry." But really it isn't about them, it's about you. Because the more you inspire yourself WITH yourself, the more ripple effects of inspiration will follow WITH others. You just never know how many countless others will be inspired to do the thing that scares them the most, be the person that scares them the most, and #LiveLikeQueen.
*Dedicated to + Empired by Freddie Mercury + Queen*
Last night, my friend Alison interviewed me for her awesome podcast called "Permission to Play." In her words, "I interview people who are interrupting their industry, breaking the rules, and following their heart's curiosity." I absolutely loved the idea. Then it got me thinking about how to incorporate more play in our lives as adults. You can catch the podcast in which she interviews me here.
So here are my thoughts on how to incorporate PLAY more in your life:
Yeah, we know all of the research about how it's so bad for us to multi-task and how single-tasking is the new multi-tasking. We know that LED light before going to bed makes it even harder to fall asleep at night. We know that checking social media and keeping up with the Joneses makes us more depressed. Did you know that hunching over a screen also makes you less assertive? So unplug for just 10 minutes a day and create some space in your mind to even begin thinking about PLAYING.
2. THE ART OF DOING NOTHING
When was the last time you did PURE, AWESOMENESS, ELATED nothingness? Be honest. When you just sat and had nowhere to be, nothing to do, no appointments, no agenda, and you just were? I totally catch myself grabbing my phone when I'm waiting for someone or in between appointments. I feel you. Recently, I've been trying to catch the beautiful sunsets I can see from my apartment. I try to savor and capture the beautiful reds, oranges, and sometimes purples that are left behind even after the sun goes down. Try doing nothing. It'll further help create space and ideas for PLAY.
Do you remember when you were a child and you would just while your time staring up at the sky or imagining some wild and crazy adventure? Which then led you to actually having a wild and crazy adventure? Those were the days. Did you know that daydreaming is actually good for us?! Hallelulujah! A new study came out that showed daydreaming is actually not a sign of ADHD but that we are creative and smart! Whaaaaat?! Get your daydreaming caps on.
4. CREATIVE CONFIDENCE
In most of my workshops, I have participants draw something. Invariably, there will be one or two participants who will say, "I'm not good at drawing," or they will try to hide their drawing as I walk by. I get it, I've been there. I used to feel that way all the time, up until I read this book: Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. It's written by two brothers; David founded an awesome global design company called Ideo (pronounced like idea but with an "o"). He also founded the Stanford Design School otherwise known as the d.school and gave a great TED Talk about how to build your Creative Confidence. And no, you don't have to be an artist to be creative and PLAY.
5. USE YOUR HANDS MORE
My dad recently took up woodworking after retirement. He has since built my niece a rocking horse, he has built my mom a 1940s Packard car (similar to the one her grandfather used to drive), and his latest project is a Woody: a station wagon that was popular in the 1960s (!). In a recent phone conversation he admitted he always wanted to use his hands to do this kind of work, and he is so grateful he gets to do it now in retirement. I think there is a certain level of satisfaction to make something WITH your hands. For me, baking and cooking is that something. It makes the meal taste that much better.
6. SCHEDULE PLAYDATES
I have a lot of friends who have kids, and I imagine they also schedule playdates. One of my girlfriends came over with two of her daughters a month ago, and they asked me point blank, "Do you have daughters? Where are they?" They were looking for play dates. My friend laughed it off, but it got me thinking that we adults could do the same. After all, play takes on a whole new meaning when you have play dates.
7. GET GAMING
I don't mean on a device or video games. I mean in real life. Last weekend, Edgar and I pulled out Taboo. For those of you who haven't played it or heard of it, you have to describe a word without using the list of words on the card. Edgar and I had so much fun using inside jokes, being a little bit competitive WITH each other, laughing like kids, and PLAYing.
8. EMBRACE YOUR INNER CHILD
It's funny how as children, we spend so much of our time trying to "grow up" that as adults we often forget to "grow down" and embrace the inner child within. Sometimes when I interact with my niece, I realize that in her world, everything is uncomplicated and simple: she just wants to PLAY and enjoy life. That's it. Wait, life can actually be that simple. We just overcomplicate things.
9. DON'T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY
Last night I watched a movie about J.D. Salinger's life called Rebel in the Rye. After The Catcher in the Rye came out and Salinger became more well-known, people started approaching him and asking him about his novel more. At a dinner party, where he met his future wife, she asked him, "Why are you taking yourself so seriously? It's just a book. I mean, I didn't really even like it that much." Yeah, Salinger, you need to incorporate a little bit more play in your life.
10. COMFORT ZONE
When you play, you're exploring, you're pushing yourself to stray from the norm to the new. Even though initially being outside of your comfort zone feels scary and nerve-wracking, it is actually good for your brain and helps you build new neural pathways! We can actually change our brains.
So what are you waiting for? PLAY more!
*Dedicated to + inspired by my friend Alison who inspires others around her to PLAY.*
CRUTCHING -> CRUSHING IT
Basking in the fall sun like cats at Coffee Bean, we sipped our green tea lattes letting our Thai lunch warm our bellies. Inevitably with Dom, Brendon Burchard's name would come up. She had attended a conference where he and a bunch of other life gurus spoke. I looked at her enjoying her green tea latte, wondering if I she would be open to feedback on how I thought she had been CRUTCHING IT.
"Hey...you know how you bring up Brendon Burchard a lot?" I started out slowly and cautiously.
"Hahahaha...is it that obvious?" She burst into laughter. You could always count on Dom to laugh WITH herself.
"Well, why do you think you refer to his stuff more than your own stuff?" I asked.
"Oh, I like to learn...I mean I love learning new stuff..." she answered openly.
"Why don't you learn new stuff about YOURSELF then rather than Brendon Burchard?"
CREATE YOUR OWN SHIT
Whenever presenters use stock photos or memes that they didn't create themselves, I would feel myself getting increasingly irritated. I never really knew why, but I would just say in feedback to my past university students or other presenters seeking my advice, "Why don't you take your own photos? And use them? You could create your own meme too!" Ok, I know it's a lot of work to create your own stuff, and it's easier to hit <CONTROL C> and <CONTROL V> but that's only short-term. Long-term, when you create your own stuff, you are learning in the process about yourself.
TIDY YOUR LIFE
At Dom's house, I picked up and quickly skimmed Marie Kondo's book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up." From what I could gather she warns readers not to do a bit of tidying up here and there, but rather she recommends getting rid of stuff that doesn't spark joy anymore. It made sense: from a happiness point of view, I had learned that if we don't have physical spaces in which to be, mentally it would be almost near impossible to invite happiness in. Kondo goes on to say how clients of hers had radically changed their lives after taking her courses on tidying.
Over dinner that night, Dom and I joined Riza for our monthly mastermind. Riza talked about someone in her life that was not bringing her joy anymore. She went on to list reasons (or were they excuses?) as to why she couldn't quite let this person go, even though this person had deeply hurt her. Why is it so much easier to toss out that old pair of skinny jeans than speak your truth to someone who has hurt you? Or is it just perceived as such in our minds?
As most of our mastermind sessions ended--with full bellies, full hearts-- this one also ended with a simple yet profound question: "What can we do to help you or support you?" We took turns answering. The spotlight was on me now. Dom recalled our Coffee Bean conversation and asked, "You know, do you really want to do The Happiness Workshop stuff or have you been using it as a CRUTCH?" My heart stopped. I mean, I had just spent a ton of money on my Happiness Workshop promo video, I knew all this data/research on Happiness, and I had so many more reasons or were they excuses? Was she right?
Our IKEA table in our master bedroom is covered with brown wrapping paper. You know, the kind that you wrap parcels with before you send them off? On that brown paper, I have scribbled my vision board if you will around 3 words. Marie Kondo will be happy to hear, I cleared up a bunch of stuff that was lying on top of those 3 words so I can actually see them clearly now! I began telling Riza and Dom about those three words I came up with: "It began because my friend Tammy asked me what I wanted to do? What I saw myself doing? And I think I just blurted out, I really just wanna travel, speak (my truth), and inspire...I wanna go on my book tour and talk about WITH vs AT. I wanna talk about my own shit."
Riza's two dimples lit up her face and she beamed, "Kyla, you look so much happier talking about WITH vs AT, I really feel like it's the thing that lights you up." I looked over at Dom and she smiled and nodded.
There it was. I had tidied up my life into three words that sparked joy: TRAVEL.SPEAK. INSPIRE. I had been using other people's research and work on Happiness as a crutch, so I wasn't crushing it, and it was high time for me to not just tell people to create their own shit, but start doing that myself.
Thanks Dom + Riza.
"Kyla, I am one of your biggest fans. I just watched your TED Talk," he said. He had risen in the ranks of a large conglomerate in Dubai, and had tons of philanthropic side projects including an inspiring leadership program for educators. Wow, I can't believe he just started our 15-minute phone call with that line, I thought.
A STAR IS BORN->BELIEVED IN
Lady Gaga makes her acting debut and Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut in this remake. While watching the movie tonight with a good friend, we were taken by the rawness of the acting and the fact that Bradley Cooper actually sang his own songs. Beyond the technical aspects of the film, I couldn't help but think back to an interview Lady Gaga gave in which she attributed her acting debut to Cooper saying this: "Bradley told me to trust him, so I did." In the movie, Cooper's character tells Gaga's character do that exact same thing as well.
I am a huge fan of America's Got Talent. Although in Korea, I can't watch every single episode, I catch most of the Golden Buzzer moments on YouTube. What is interesting to note is after every single Golden Buzzer gets hit, and the beautiful golden snow flake-like confetti sprinkles down, amidst the roar from the crowd, the contestant inevitably runs towards whoever is waiting back stage and gives them a big hug. Then the tears come for them and me.
A year ago, I got to see Sully Sullenberger speak. You may recall in 2009, he landed that US Airways flight on the Hudson River and got all 155 crew and passengers to dry land safe and sound. What you may not know is that he credits that day to his crew. He goes on to say that the media and everyone else likes to credit him with the safe landing, but he said he could NOT have landed the plane without the help of the two flight attendants who kept passengers calm and his co-pilot who was by his side in the cockpit. I was also pretty impressed that he was able to keep us all captivated with his story of how this was all possible for 60 minutes without a single Power Point slide!
AN EDUCATOR TURNED COMEDIAN MANAGER
My friend Jennie from college left her job as an elementary school teacher to jump into the world of Comedian Management. When Jennie started, she was the first and only female manager at her company (!). On one visit to LA several years ago, she took me to UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) Theater (think raw version of SNL). I remember asking her if it was affiliated to UC Berkeley! One night, we ran into one of her clients: Hasan Minhaj. At the time we met, it was just "Hasan," way before Homecoming King (one-man show on Netflix), way before he was the featured speaker at the White House Correspondent's Dinner; and now Patriot Act just came out on Netflix, Jennie has been as proud as ever posting pics on FB--like an older sister.
BE A BELIEVER
What if that guy and countless other people had never told me that they were a fan? What if Bradley Cooper had never believed in Lady Gaga? What if family/friends/significant others weren't on the sidelines supporting their loved ones believing they could win the entire America's Got Talent competition? What if Sullie's crew hadn't worked as a team to support Sullie believing that he could land that plane on the Hudson that fateful day? What if Jennie hadn't believed that Hasan could have a career in comedy?
Often it's easier to be apathetic. I've been there. Or maybe it's not even about apathy, but somehow you see people's "successes" and you think, "Why not me?!" I've been there too. The thing about prosperity is there is plenty of it. Being a fan, a champion, a BELIEVER in someone else--no matter the outcome, serves to amplify that prosperity and abundance. You have to start practicing BELIEVING WITH someone. Then you start seeing your own life from a place of abundance rather than lack. And maybe, just maybe you start supporting, and believing in the most important human out there: YOU!
*Dedicated to + inspired by Jennie*
On my recent FriYAYs WITH Kyla, I asked a favor of the awesome bootcamp ladies in my class while working out: Would you mind answering this question on my FB Live show: "What do you love about yourself?" I could immediately feel a shift in the room-- a discomfort if you will. They worried about what to say, how they would look on camera, and that they may appear arrogant. I probed further as we were warming up: "Why do you think you would come across as arrogant?" Some women said that society had imposed impossible standards for us to live up to, and that when you talked about yourself in that kind of way, you appeared arrogant. It just wasn't socially acceptable. Having said all of that, the women used class time to thoughtfully come up with one outside quality and one inside quality they loved about themselves. And they nailed it. You can check out the video here for some inspiration. Not one to shy away from de-stigmatizing hushed topics like these, I thought I would take on the challenge and add it to my 100 things list. So here it is in a non-arrogant way:
1. I am thoughtful
2. I am creative
3. I can teach/coach the heck out of most things related to life
4. I have a knack for picking up languages
5. I am a pretty good connecter of people
6. I am less afraid of public speaking than I was as a teenager
7. I am super open to learning/growing
8. I've become pretty good at baking without processed sugar
9. My cooking skills overall aren't too shabby
10. I get to do what I love for my job
11. I am getting better at forgiving myself and others
12. I get to inspire people to be their best selves
13. My multicultural upbringing
14. My travel adventures
15. My unique and different perspective on life and most things
16. I haven't had to settle on life, love, relationships, career
17. I am grateful/thankful
18. I love giving
19. I am becoming more positive (thanks to my positivity coach, my hubby)
20. I am speaking my truth more
21. My relationship WITH my family is getting better and better
22. I get to work on myself for my job
23. I get to meet amazing people for my job
24. I get to be inspired by and WITH extraordinary people and inspire others
25. FriYAYs WITH Kyla
26. My website (I created)
27. I am generous
28. My idiosyncrasies
29. My LOUD laugh
30. My '90s hip-hop dance skillz (!)
31. I get to live in Korea
32. I am married to a phenomenal human
33. Working on not judging myself and others
34. Evolving everyday
35. Learning and growing as a human
36. I get to hangout WITH awesome women in my community
37. I laugh at and WITH myself
38. I love being a kid and refusing to grow up
39. I am open
40. I am easy to get along WITH
OUTSIDE: (Wow, this was hard!)
1. My freckles (especially my first noticeable one Fred on my nose)
2. The color of my eyes
3. My skin because it tans easy
4. My thick hair
5. My second toes (as they are longer than my big toes)
6. My 4-pack (still working on my 6-pack)
7. That I don't wear make-up
8. That I haven't had any plastic surgery done
9. I don't spend a lot of time getting ready in the morning (prefer sleep)
10. My hair is pretty easy to maintain
11. I don't have to use a lot of sunscreen
12. My nose hairs are not long (!)
13. My ear lobes don't stick out
14. My thick eyebrows that I haven't plucked or tweezed
15. My arm hair isn't too thick/bushy
16. When I don't shave my legs you can't really tell that much
17. The mole on the bottom of my left foot
18. My collarbone is sexy (!)
19. My legs and arms (they help me swim)
20. My knees (they help me sit cross-legged on the floor)
21. My body in a bikini (believe me this took a long time--most of my 20s)
22. My naked body in a mirror or a spa
23. My double-jointed fingers
24. My thighs
25. My smile
26. My non double eyelids
27. My stretch marks
28. My tan lines
29. My booty
30. My nose (where Fred lives)
31. Pretty comfortable being naked in front of strangers (thanks to boarding school!)
32. My bottom half in skinny jeans (I was quite late to the skinny jean trend--wait, is it over now?!)
33. My top half in tighter tops
34. My breasts (this has taken me most of my 20s as well)
35. My height (most people think I am taller than I actually am!)
36. My weight (a good friend of mine once told me it's not about the number on the scale, but how you feel)
37. My face
38. My feet
39. My hands
40. My hips
1. I don't beat myself up over stuff I can't control as much
2. My first name and my middle name (Hana which means flower in Japanese)
3. I am a strong, independent woman
4. My humor
5. My constant commentary in my mind and outside of it
6. That I talk to myself out loud sometimes
7. My quirky personality
8. I am not superficial
9. I try to be as authentic and genuine as possible
10. I can be vulnerable
11. I cry often
12. I have accepted a lot of my "flaws"
13. I am ok with who I am
14. I say "I love you" quite frequently
15. I don't hide who I am
16. I am friends WITH people across generations/races/ethnicities
17. I am understanding
18. I am working on being patient
19. I am a writer now!
20. I am a work-in-progress
Happiness coach, Theta Healer®, author, WITH Warrior in Chief <3