Kevin Palmieri Talks About Helping Others Find Happiness – Episode 073

LFL 73 | Find Happiness

 

How do you find happiness? What is the route, the path to happiness? We discuss this question in depth in this episode as our host, Patrick Veroneau, interviews podcast host, performance coach and the founder of Next Level Podcast Solutions, Kevin Palmieri. Kevin shares his personal journey of chasing happiness and what it actually took to find happiness. He speaks to his mission in helping others navigate what can seem like a hopeless path at times, and shares insights on what it takes to gain happiness.

Listen to the podcast here:

Kevin Palmieri Talks About Helping Others Find Happiness

Chasing Titles, Money And Material Things Is Not The Path To Happiness

This episode deals a lot with not only purpose but also self-confidence and finding out what makes us happy. My guest is Kevin Palmieri. He’s the co-host of a podcast called Next Level University. He talks about how the podcast was inspired through his own experiences. If you’re out there chasing titles and income or material things to find your happiness, and you’re finding that’s not working for you, then this is an episode worth reading. Let’s get into it.

Kevin, thanks for being on the show. We had the opportunity to meet on a whim for dinner. I loved what you and your partner Alan are up to in regards to trying to make a difference in youth and college from the standpoint of helping build confidence in kids. My guess is your drive to do that comes out from your own experiences in those age brackets of probably how you struggled or struggles that you had to overcome and you’re trying to find a way to help.

I even still struggle with confidence. It’s easy to see me on a podcast, on stage or wherever it is and think like, “He has it all figured out.” I always want to be authentic, transparent and tell people like, “The reason I talked about the stuff I talked about is that’s the stuff I’ve struggled with the most.” If I can get to where I’m at and battle these insecurities, low self-esteem and low level of confidence, I want to use my story to help others and I don’t want them to limit themselves.

What was it about your story that you think is impactful in terms of you being able to help kids going forward?

The story I always tell is how I had it all. I had everything that anybody could ever want, and then I realized that I placed so much emphasis on external validation. I never looked at what was inside of me and why I’m insecure. I’m 5’5” and insecure about that. I’m open, honest and transparent that I don’t like my height. That’s always bothered me. I always used to play it off as a joke and I would never own the fact that it does sting when people make jokes about that. For me, the earlier you become aware of what is, the more control you have. I was 28 years old when I realized I was insecure. You can’t do anything with it until you realize what it is. If I had that information at fifteen, somebody to look up to and who was talking about this, my trajectory would have changed a lot honestly.

What happened at 28 that finally turned?

The earlier you become aware of what your insecurity is, the more control you have. Click To Tweet

In 2015, I had what every single person would say is a success. A lot of people said I was living the dream. I had a beautiful girlfriend and she was a model, a brand-new sports car, a high-paying job, a brand-new apartment and the body of my dreams. It seemed like I had everything. At the end of 2015, my girlfriend left me. This was when it was like, “You lost one of the things that you value the most.” You’re starting to question like, “Why did she leave me?” She left me because I was insecure, depressed and anxious. I was going through a lot of things. To this day, I still say thank you. She did the right thing because it was her job to take care of her and not to take care of me.

After she left, I went through this dark time. Everything you thought you felt about yourself were lies. The car in the driveway is great and nice, but it doesn’t make you any better, more secure and successful because when you go to bed at night, you don’t feel good about yourself. How is that success? I got into personal development after that. I went through this dark period and I was like, “I’ve got to change something.”

I remember I started saying these positive affirmations. Every night before bed, I would say, “You’re handsome, talented and confident.” I wanted to make more money so I said, “This year, you’re going to make the most money you’ve ever made in your entire life.” I said that for two weeks every single night before bed. When she left me, it was in October 2015. We were getting ready for the next year. 2016 started with a bang.

I was a construction foreman who traveled up and down the East Coast, making state and government-owned buildings more energy efficient. I was always on the road. By the time that year ended, I had been on the road for 10 out of the 12 months in 2016. I stayed in New Jersey. I went to Virginia, Connecticut, New York, everywhere all over the place. It was always crappy hotel to crappy hotel. We weren’t staying at the Ritz. It was great because I wanted the money. I was making $100 an hour. I don’t care, put or keep me on the road, I’m making money. That’s all well and good.

I get to the end of the year and that final pay stub is like, “Did I do what I said I was going to do?” I did and nothing changed. I still was insecure, didn’t have any confidence and didn’t believe in myself. I realized again like, “You did it again. You did the same thing that you did the first time. You put all the emphasis on making this money. You made it and nothing changed.” I was laying in bed that night and I was thinking, “It doesn’t matter what car you have, who’s laying in bed next to you, what the house looks like and what you did today or doing tomorrow. The only thing that matters is what’s in your head.” That’s how the podcast was born and how this journey started for me.

I started the podcast as a hobby and in 2016 is where I was incredibly busy. Being on the road took me away from the podcast. You know how hard it is to podcast when you’re traveling all over the place. You want to be at your studio. The job that gave me so much opportunity and financial benefit from being on the road was now taking directly away from my dreams and what I wanted. I wanted to help others. I have a gift for that.

We were probably eight months into the year and it was too much. I got burnt out, depressed and helpless. I felt hopeless. I was in a hotel in New Jersey and I was sitting on the edge of the bed. It’s 5:45 AM and I was lacing up my boots for work that morning. I remember having this overwhelming amount of noise in my head. The best way I can explain it is there were ten televisions that are on and every single one was on a different channel. There was noise saying, “You’re never going to make it. You’re stuck at this job. You can’t leave this job. You make $100,000 a year. You would be crazy to leave. You can’t be a successful podcaster. How is that going to happen?”

LFL 73 | Find Happiness

Find Happiness: It doesn’t matter what you did today or what you’re doing tomorrow. The only thing that matters is what’s in your head.

 

In those moments, I thought the best way for me to turn off all this noise was to end my life. I figured if I was gone, my problems would be gone as well. Here I am, six hours away from home and across the hotel room. It’s this dark and lonely feeling of like, “I don’t even know who to talk to about it. Nobody understands what I’m going through at this moment.” I reached out to Alan, who’s the co-host of the show. He talked me through it and said, “It’s going to be alright. This is why you’re feeling this way. You’re overwhelmed. It’s time to make a change.”

It’s easy now because it’s been a while but looking back on that day, it was the best day of my life because I realized that I do have a purpose, passion and mission. I want to be the person that I needed when I was at my lowest point and even more, I want to help prevent people from getting to their lowest point. I left my job and a few months later, I went full-time into podcasting. Now I’m a full-time podcaster, professional speaker, peak performance coach and podcast consultant.

A lot has changed for me in the last several years. I always want to leave people with the understanding and the transparency that I’m still working on myself. The only reason my circumstances changed is that I changed and I worked on myself, my own personal development, insecurities, mindfulness and mindset. That’s the biggest takeaway. I went through a lot of stuff and had a lot of pain but the pain went away when I started to change who I was. It’s good that I have the problems that I have. Back in the day, I felt like I couldn’t control them. Now I need to keep getting better as a human.

It’s interesting when you talked about the job, making more money, the nice car, even the girlfriend or the house. One of the terms for that is called hedonic adaptation. What that says is that’s great for no more than three months and then that wears off. The new car that you notice the scratch initially, a year later, you don’t notice it as much anymore. It loses that value if we have to keep feeding ourselves for something else that takes away from what we need to be addressing in the first place. You speak to that in terms of what’s going on.

It’s funny because I used to base my value as a human on what I had to show. Now I base my value as a human on what’s inside. I can’t even explain what kind of feeling that shift was. I was walking around my kitchen one day and thinking that I don’t have the “results” that I used to have but what I do have is this knowing and pride in the person I’ve become. I don’t think I ever liked myself growing up. I don’t know why. Now I am proud of who I’ve become through this journey. It makes me happy.

What do you think about the word purpose around that?

Your purpose is your reason for doing something and your vehicle is how you get that message out. The purpose is the most important thing because when you find something greater than yourself, it’s easier to find you. Most people don’t have that. If you’re going to a 9:00 to 5:00 just to pay the bills, you probably don’t have that much purpose unless your purpose is to take care of your family. You can do it that way but there are one billion other ways to do it. The purpose is going to give you motivation, drive and ambition that you’ve never had.

Your purpose is your reason for doing something and your vehicle is how you get that message out. Click To Tweet

If you look at the research as well around money and happiness, it’s always about yourself. I don’t care how much money you make but if that’s the case, at some point there’s an emptiness. We know that there’s an internal drive where people want to feel as though there’s a purpose to what they’re doing and that purpose is often about others. “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t care what my bank account says. I’m still taking up space unless I’m out there doing for others.” It can be difficult for people in the world that we live in where you might think people are all about themselves.

At the end of the day, every single one of us wants to be significant. Me pulling up in a Ferrari makes me significant at that moment. I don’t know what those people are thinking. I assume they think I have a nice car. I gave a speech in Florida and after the speech, I’m headed down to lunch with my girlfriend, Alan and our team. This girl pulls me to the side and says, “Can I take a minute of your time?” I said, “Yes, that’s what I’m here for.” We proceeded to talk for 45 minutes about how she was on the verge of suicide and how she’s been through all of these things. I felt more significant at that moment in terms of her sharing her life story with me. She’s being unbelievably vulnerable and connected with what I said on stage. That is a level of significance that I couldn’t explain if somebody said, “Here’s all the money in the world.” It’s different.

It’s an honor. Somebody trusts you enough to have that conversation. There’s a statistic that I’d come across that there was an alarming number of youth in terms of either attempted or have committed suicide. I know that’s an area that both of us share a strong interest in terms of youth and helping them develop themselves. How do you address that?

It always has to go to the root. We have to figure out what are the details of the situation. For me looking back, why did I think suicide was the only way? I felt hopeless and helpless. Most of all, I felt trapped and there was no other way out. When you’re in that frame of mind, you’re not thinking logically. You’re thinking emotionally. You’re in a bad emotional place so you’re not going to come up with good stories for sure. Especially in young kids, you have to get professional help. For a long time, parents would say, “I understand you’re getting bullied. It’s not that big of a deal. That happens to everybody.” A lot of people got bullied many years ago but when you went home, the bullying ended. The bullying doesn’t end now because we have these phones in front of us.

It’s strange. We interviewed my ex-girlfriend’s mother. She and I are very close. She’s a teacher in the town that I grew up in. She said that what happens when the kids are being bullied, your first reaction is to pull them off of social media but then they get FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. They get more anxious that they’re not on social media than the pain that they were feeling when they got bullied. You have to set some limits for the connection. The connection is amazing. The fact that we can podcast over a cell phone and share our stories is ridiculous and amazing. There has to be a time and a place where you turn off the phone, YouTube and all these things that make you not feel good about yourself, especially if you’re comparing yourself to others.

I find the impact of belongingness, especially around this topic on our own wellbeing. We are pack animals in many regards, and we need to feel a connection with other people. Thousands of years ago, if I voted you outside of the tribe or you did it to me, what do we know? That’s a death sentence. I will not survive out here without the rest of the group. That’s not changed. If we’re voted outside of the group in the sense of belongingness whether it’s at work, in school or community, there’s a psychological toll that plays on us because we’re not connected with others. We need that.

Many people go to Instagram or Facebook. You are not going to get the same level of connection. It doesn’t work that way. There’s something about being in-person, seeing facial expressions or a hug. That level of connection versus over the screen is not a prescription to fill that void. It’s an interesting time because technology blesses us with many opportunities to do things we can never do but I don’t think that we’re capable of taking the downsides yet. I don’t think we understand. It’s been around for many years. I don’t think we’re capable of understanding what kind of damage is being done in the short-term and how to negate that moving into the future yet. I know we will.

LFL 73 | Find Happiness

Find Happiness: Connections are amazing. But there has to be a time and a place where you turn off the phone and turn off all these things that make you not feel good about yourself.

 

I don’t want to sound negative on social media. Social media is amazing in the fact that children’s brains are not the same as adults and they’re always playing the comparison game. There’s so much more social pressure. If you make a stupid post, everybody sees it. It’s hard to not be judged. Everybody’s being judged. This show will be judged. People will judge me and you. If you don’t understand and know how to go about that judgment, make sure it doesn’t become part of your identity. It does for a lot of kids.

We had this conversation about how we fall victim to that too as adults. In the work that we do, we’re still even questioning our abilities in terms of what we do and because we benchmark it against somebody else, not understanding what they do. I truly believe that. I see that on social media all the time. How many times does somebody take a picture and filter it six times before they post it? We look at the finished product like, “Oh boy.”

For many on Facebook, you’ll have individuals out there that post a vacation that they’re on about how awesome things are and they’re having such a great time. Yet if you know the backstory behind a lot of these families, there’s so much dysfunction going on. Everybody looks around and says, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be like the Smiths? I wish our family were like that. They’re all hugging.” Before that picture was taken, they were probably all being yelled at for not getting in the picture and looking. There’s this false image that gets put out there.

I’m sure you find this as well. Alan and I have interviewed 100 and something people for our show. Most of the guests have been amazing. Who they portray themselves as is who they are. We’ve had some people that it’s like, “I see that you say you’re all these things on social media but you’re not a good person.” The closer you get to somebody, the closer to reality you get. The problem is I’m never going to meet Kim Kardashian. I may never see what is and I’m totally fine with that, trust me. The people that we or a lot of the kids look up to are not real. We should base who we value on their character over their results. Character matters so much more than your results do because character is what makes people feel good and results are what make people jealous.

Along those lines, what you say and what you do is your integrity right there. That’s your congruent. Whether it’s as a leader in a company or the company itself, what do we say we stand for and do we do that? It’s easy to pay lip service to stuff. If people are around you long enough, they start to see, “This person is good about what they say but they don’t do it themselves.” I don’t care whether that’s at home or in the community. I can’t tell my daughter to drive safely when I’m in the car with her and I’m going down the highway looking at my emails as I’m driving. She’s going to say, “You’re a fool of it. You don’t do it yourself so how can you lecture me on it?” There’s a lack of integrity there.

It’s easier now than ever to see because everything is transparent. If you say something, it’s coming out eventually. It’s interesting because Alan and I always say this, “I want to be the best podcaster, speaker and coach in the world. More than that, I want to be the best man I can be to my girlfriend and future family. I want to be the best man where you call me and you know I’m going to give you the truth. I’m dependable, reliable and trustworthy.” Those are the things that I value. I don’t always have the right answers. I’ll tell you if I don’t but I always want to help. That’s important.

If you walked around with a score that had your character out of 100, how good is this person out of 100? We’d all be acting differently. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Our cars get us a lot of value. When you tie your wellbeing, success, future and potential to building your character, it’s rewarding. It’s exponential growth too. You’re only going to get better because as you get better, your connection, results and abilities get better. Your potential grows more.

Purpose is the most important thing. When you find something greater than yourself, it's easier to find you. Click To Tweet

I want to take a step back as you were talking about that day that you were lacing up your shoes and wondering like, “What’s this all about?” I’m going to ask you from the standpoint of a male because males have been duped in many regards in terms of what it means to be a man and masculine, especially in the industry that you’re in. You’re in good shape and a muscular big guy. People think, “You can’t be soft, fluffy and talk about feelings.”

From the standpoint of not being able to talk about these things and have people that we can lean on to say, “I’m struggling right now,” like you did with Alan. He was your lifeline. He was another guy that you could do that to. We need to do more of that in terms of teaching kids from an early age that it’s important to talk about feelings, to cry and show emotion. We need to do that because if we don’t, all we do is teach kids to not be authentic.

If your kid is crying and you say, “Don’t be soft,” it’s not a good example to set. Think of our parents and how they were raised. This is the generation where it could start to change. I’m sure you’re doing this too. My mom is great and I love my mom to death, but she doesn’t know anything about emotional intelligence, habits and mindset. She doesn’t know much about money. I want my children and family to be in the greatest position they can but that starts with me and my level of awareness.

Going back to the friendships. The level of your friendship depends on the level of vulnerability you have with that person. Many people get burned for being vulnerable that they’re afraid. We have to figure out a way to let people know that it’s like love. You’re going to get your heart broken. If you don’t, you’ve never been in love but it doesn’t mean it’s always going to be like that. You gave your heart to the wrong person. You can give your vulnerability to the wrong person too.

Our listeners are mostly women. Why? Because Alan and I are two muscle dudes who talk about our feelings. I’m convinced that’s why it’s mostly women. Most of my clients have been women. It’s because we’re vulnerable and authentic. I’ll talk about anything that will help somebody else. I’m used to it at this point. If somebody is going to reach out and talk trash, I used to say, “For every punch in the face, I’m getting ten kisses.” I don’t do it for the kisses. That’s my analogy.

I often find the unkind acts or behaviors speak to somebody in their own sense of unhappiness. That’s it. Nothing else. Other than that, I have no reason to want to troll somebody else or slam them for what they’re doing unless I’m unhappy with who I am and that makes me feel better. Bullying is another topic that we haven’t got on but is relevant to youth. How do you deal with it even at the college level when you’re doing talks with them? What does that conversation look like when you talk about that?

It’s interesting because bullying is one of those things that you’re rarely going to hear in a group. A college kid most likely is going to raise their hand and say, “I’m bullied by all of these people because there’s so much social pressure.” It’s about connecting and feeling like you’re a part of something. If you’re getting bullied, there are a couple of things. It’s easier said than done to say, “This is somebody else’s projections on you of their negativity.” That’s what this is. You have to start asking yourself why.

LFL 73 | Find Happiness

Find Happiness: If you walked around with a score that had your character out of a hundred, we’d all be acting differently. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

 

Alan and I did this on an episode of the seven why’s. Let’s say, for example I have a baby blue shirt on. Steve comes up to me and says, “Kevin, you’re an idiot because you’re wearing a baby blue shirt.” “Why?” “Only idiots wear baby blue shirts.” “Why?” “It’s a girl color.” “Why?” “North Carolina basketball is baby blue.” “Why?” When you start asking why from each side, you start peeling back the layers like, “What is your deal? Why are you coming at me with this?”

That’s like some bad cartoon and you’re like, “Forget it.”

If your kid came home to you and said, “Steve said I was stupid because I asked the question in class.” “Why do you think he said that?” “I asked a question and he probably thought it was stupid.” “Why did he think it was stupid?” “I don’t know.” “Do you think maybe Steve was afraid to ask that same question or he didn’t know that answer?” “Maybe that’s one way to look at it.” You have to reframe it because we always say it’s the person’s projections upon you but there’s a difference between saying that and trying to figure out what those projections are.

I know this is deep for a first grader but we have to become aware that it’s not that you can always run and hide because there’s nowhere to hide anymore. It’s about, “Let’s get to the root cause of this problem.” I say professional help. If you have a young kid who’s getting bullied, it’s time to pull them into some therapy or some counseling. That’s something that I did when I was dealing with some dark thoughts. I always recommend that. It doesn’t make you less of a man or a woman.

We’re stigmatizing people that need help as weak. What does that do? It props up this image of, “You can’t figure this out on your own.” We all need help from each other. I have my own coach that I go to and speak to talk about how do I become better and what are the things that I’m dealing with that are a challenge? We all need that. At the youth age bracket, we need that even more. Somehow, they need to find that support.

I don’t know how to put this in place but who are the kids looking up to that they can talk to? There are so many people to look up to on social media but if there’s somebody that you can see in person and say, “I look up to that person because I admire this,” let’s get kids around them. It used to be baseball coaches. The problem is, are these kids playing sports? If not, who do they go to? The guidance counselor? From my experience, guidance counselors aren’t always the best people to talk to about that stuff.

It’s all about changing your circle. If you’re in first grade, your circle is the one that you’re thrown into. As a parent, you have to help these kids get around positive people. It’s so much easier said than done. I’ve never had to deal with it because I don’t have any kids. The other thing is when you break your leg and go to the doctor. Nobody calls you weak. Why? It’s because I’m not a professional surgeon, psychiatrist or psychologist, family counselor, therapy counselor or couples counselor. You have to go to the people who know. Sometimes when you go to the people who know, the people who don’t know are going to give you crap for it but you’ll be better off in the long-term than they will.

Character matters so much more than your results because character is what makes people feel good. Results are what makes people jealous. Click To Tweet

We have three kids. We’ve certainly made many mistakes in terms of approaches that we’ve taken but we’ve done a good job of trying to develop their abilities to navigate challenging situations. We’re not trying to solve it for them when we feel like there needs to be a little bit of struggle on their own to build up their muscle to be able to deal with what’s coming in life. There’s a dance there. We’ve had to do that before too. This is beyond our ability as parents to address this that we need to look to outside sources to be able to intervene on this. You’re right that we can’t push things under the rug either in terms of what’s going on and ignore when there are challenges.

I’ve never been a parent. Some people didn’t want to admit it. Do you take it on yourself like, “Did I not raise them right that they’re getting bullied? Did I not raise them right that they have anxiety, they’re depressed or having suicidal thoughts?” That’s fine to take ownership. “Did you do something wrong?” Sometimes, it’s stuff that you don’t even know about and your kids might not open up to you because you’re their parent. Getting them to open up to a counselor is probably not easy either but that’s their job. They’re professionals at that.

We don’t have all the answers. I used to think when I was 30 that I was going to know everything. I’m like, “That’s not how it works.” For the questions that I don’t have answers to, I have people that I can reach out like mentors, coaches, somebody to look up to, I trust, confide in, I can be transparent and vulnerable with. They don’t even have to have the results that you want. They just have to be somebody who will listen and that you can trust. They’re there for you. Some support is needed for sure.

I find that the older I get, the less I know and the more open I am to not gravitating toward any one answer. I look to things around training that are very helpful in those areas that even years ago, we weren’t talking about things like emotional intelligence. Mindfulness is powerful. My youngest in the fourth grade had a period of the day that was all around teaching mindfulness in class. To me, those things are invaluable when we talk about, “How do you take a thought?” Before I react to it, I can think about it for a minute. I can pause to think, “Is this what this means? What else could this mean?” Rather than going down the rabbit hole of, “My life is terrible. I’m a bad person,” maybe this isn’t about me. Maybe this is about the other person.

That’s incredible that they have it in schools. I didn’t learn anything about finance in school. I learned how to balance a checkbook. That doesn’t help. I didn’t learn anything about fitness. I learned how to play dodgeball. I was good at it but I didn’t learn about muscles, calories, carbs, fat and protein. I didn’t learn about interest rates on credit cards or about any of that. Most of all, I didn’t learn anything about mental health. I don’t think I heard the word stress once when I was in high school.

We’re preparing kids to do well on tests but not in life. It’s a different game. I don’t know the Pythagorean theorem anymore or any of those things. I learned that mindfulness and a lot of the thoughts that I’m having aren’t the way it is. It’s my thoughts in regards to like, “You’re insecure, that’s why you think everything is the end of the world,” like when you get broken up. Why? It’s because it’s in this microcosm of the moment and everything, feels like it matters. It’s not a huge deal. Mindfulness, mental health habits, goal setting, kids need to know way more about those because that’s what life is at the end of the day.

If you look at where things are going organizationally, that is one of the things that you continue to hear. It’s the soft skills which to me are the strong skills that continue to play a more prominent role in terms of individual success and organizational success. You need to understand these things in terms of, “How do I navigate and what I don’t know about myself?” Lead like no other. The purpose behind that is to say that from a leadership perspective, we have gone down the rabbit hole of tactics, decisiveness and not focused enough on internally, “Who am I? If I don’t know myself and I’m not comfortable with myself. How am I ever going to be able to inspire other people to want to follow where I go? It won’t happen. I might be able to do it because I’ve got the title but that’s not leadership.”

LFL 73 | Find Happiness

Find Happiness: If you live on emotions, you probably do not give yourself nearly enough credit for your wins.

 

Even being conscious of what you’re not confident in. I’ll give an example so it makes sense. I was in Florida with Alan and two of our good friends. We were talking about an event that we were going to put on. We’re working out. When I’m in the room working out, I feel great and confident as hell. I’ve been to the gym many times. That’s my spot. The second we started talking about business and back-end business models, I felt myself get tense, small and insecure. I started questioning like, “Do you even belong in this room with these people?” This was in a matter of seconds. It went from feeling like the man to feeling like nothing and I didn’t belong.

I start going through the checklist of, “What are you feeling? You’re feeling overmatched. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s a good thing because that means you’re learning. Do the people in this room look at you differently because you’re overmatched? No, you’re still coming to them. It’s just a different topic.” It’s like a sickness but it’s the best sickness you can have. I’m always running this throughout every conversation. When Alan’s ego goes up, my insecurity comes out. It’s how it works. I can balance that and aware of that so I can start saying, “It’s not Alan, it’s you. It’s your reaction to a feeling.”

I will often use the analogy when I’m doing talks around this of the smoke detector in your house. To me, our amygdala is like a smoke detector. It’s our internal smoke detector. The example that I will always use is, let’s imagine that we’re in the kitchen and we burn something on the stove. There’s not a fire. We just burned something on the stove and the smoke detector goes off. What do we do? We generally go over and wave a towel in front of it. Maybe we have to unplug it. Nobody in the room that we’re talking runs into the street, calling 911, saying the smoke detector is going off. Why? Because we know that’s not a real emergency.

Our brains are wired the same way with one exception. Every time the smoke detector goes off, unless we step in and intercede to say, “This is not a real emergency. The fire trucks are on the way,” that to me is what you deal with when the conversation starts coming up around the back end and finances. Your amygdala starts going off saying, “This is a threat. This is uncomfortable for you.” Unless you slow it down and say, “It’s not a real fire,” then what do you do? You treat this thing like a real emergency. You either fight, flight or freeze. You’re like, “I’m going to pretend I’m not part of this conversation.” To me, the challenge in mindfulness becomes relevant here. I do this when I talk to these youth groups around, “How do you slow this thing down to be able to say, ‘This is burnt food on the stove. This isn’t a real emergency.’”

Questions are the answer to everything. I love asking questions, especially questions that nobody else has ever heard before. That’s how I start some of my speeches, “I don’t want to inspire and motivate you. I want to ask you questions that make you think of things that you’ve never thought of before. I want you to work on that. Why am I showing off pictures of my girlfriend? I was showing pictures of my girlfriend to random janitors at the schools. I wanted significance. That’s how I got my significance by having a beautiful significant other. A lot of people do that. Recognize it and then you can change the behavior. Why am I afraid of approaching a girl? Because I’m afraid of getting rejected straight up. I don’t like the feeling. How do I get over that? I go approach the girl and I got rejected. Knowing that was my biggest fear and if that was the worst thing that happened, it’s still a great day.”

For me, one of the biggest things that I tell people is you have to fear chase and see your fear. You have to look at it and say, “I’m afraid of that.” You have to logic your way into doing it because it’s never as bad as you think. That builds confidence because it didn’t kill you. Another thing for kids is to change their association with failure. If you don’t win, you’re not a failure. You just didn’t figure out how to win yet. You’re only a “failure” if you let that be your final. If that’s the final step that you’ll ever take towards that, then you’re not in the game anymore. Changing our association with “failing” is such a big thing because it’s not the end of the world. It’s the beginning of a new chapter.

You can and need to leverage it. There’s a dance between expectation and gratitude. The expectation is about believing, “There’s more that I want to do. I want to go higher, rise above my best and do more.” With that also comes, one, you’ve got to do the work to make that happen. The gratitude comes in for me and I also need to be happy with where I am right now as well as the challenges or things that go wrong because when I can find a way to be grateful for something not working out the way that I hoped it would work out for me, then it provides the power of saying, “This doesn’t define me. I’m grateful for this. Here’s what I’m going to do because of that.” There’s a dance there.

We're preparing kids to do well on tests, but not do well in life, which is a totally different game. Click To Tweet

We call it grateful dissatisfaction, “I’m grateful for what is but I know I’m capable of so much more in the future.” It doesn’t have to be right now. If you ask me what I want my life to be, I want it to be this exponential. I love my life. I love podcasting, coaching, speaking, being on podcasts and doing everything. I want that but exponential. I have to be somewhat dissatisfied to keep going but I’m always grateful for what is along the journey. Several years ago, all of this was a dream. Now I get to do this. I remember one of my big goals when I first started was to be on other podcasts. Now I get to be on other podcasts every week. It’s like, “Don’t forget how bad you wanted that.”

You start out on the gratitude but it’s the same dance that we’re talking about.

Different steps.

Tango versus foxtrot.

Even gratitude, in general is something that needs to be practiced more. If you woke up tomorrow with only the things that you said you were grateful for today, what would you have? Most people wouldn’t have anything.

There’s a study that was done by Shawn Achor out of Harvard. It was a 21-Day Happiness Challenge. Two of the things in there that people were asked to do was one activity was, “Write down three things you’re grateful for every morning.” To me, the real benefit comes in about day ten on that because you couldn’t write down the same things. Especially when we look at our lives and things aren’t going well, you start to have to take an inventory of like, “There are a lot more things going well for me than I thought. There are 30 different things that I’m grateful for that I thought there were only 3 or 6.”

The other thing that people were asked to do was, “At the end of the day, write down 2 to 3 sentences about what went well for the day.” To me, it’s like a bookend. You start the day out in a place of being grateful for what you have and you end the day in the space of gratitude as well. Most often, what I will hear is people go to bed dreading either what happened during the day or what’s to come the next day. If we think about that from a health perspective in terms of restorative sleep, it’s like filling my mind with junk before I have to ask it to do restorative work.

LFL 73 | Find Happiness

Find Happiness: If you don’t win, you’re not a failure. You just didn’t figure out how to win yet.

 

I’ll give a hack to the readers. I do a gratitude game with my girlfriend every night, whether we’re together or apart. If we’re together, we say to each other. If we’re apart, we send an audio message or a text message. At least three things I’m grateful for about her. A couple of things happen. Number one, you figure out what you’re doing well because she’s telling you. He or she depending on how you’re doing it. They’re giving you the cheat codes. Also, I’ve noticed so many intricacies that I appreciate like the way she gets excited when she sees a dog. I’m grateful that she’s that excited and gets happy about that. It means the world to me.

Telling her that keeps you grateful for that relationship. Many people are in relationships but they’re not committed to making that relationship great. Gratitude is a way to do that. I always tell my clients and everybody that reaches out, “End your night with wins because most people, especially if you live on emotions, probably do not give yourself nearly enough credit for your wins. You’re only focusing on your losses and lack of progress versus your progress and wins.”

It goes back to awareness of we’re naturally wired to look at the negatives. I’m even thinking of that hack in terms of you could use it in an office setting with people that aren’t getting along. Ask them to think about that for a week, “What can I be grateful for about this person?” We know that what it trains us to do is look at the positive on the person and not the negative.

You search for it. If I said, “Set the intention, walk in this room and find something you’re grateful for at the end of the night.” The whole night, you’re going to be like, “I’m grateful for that.” Setting intentions when you enter rooms is another thing that changes the experience entirely. You go from self-conscious to result-conscious. You’re looking to match that intention that you said.

As we wrap things up here, you’ve got a big event coming up in Boston. I wonder if you want to give a little shout-out to that.

January 25, 2020 at the UMass Lowell Conference Center. We are bringing a fire line of speakers. Alan and I are speaking. Mark Metry, who has a top 100 podcast is speaking. Brant Pinvidic, the producer of Bar Rescue and Extreme Weight Loss and The Biggest Loser. He is well connected in Hollywood. He’s a great dude. We have four other speakers as well. It’s going to be a full-day event where everybody sets intentions. Everybody’s getting their intentions fired up like, “It’s going to be the best year of our life.” It’s only going to be as good as you make it. We want to give you actionable steps that you can take away from this event so you can make 2020 the best year of your life. That is our goal.

2020 is a fun year. You could make it a fun decade when you think about it from a vision standpoint. What do we want for a 2020 vision? It’s 20/20. How clear is your vision? You can play with that. Kevin, this has been awesome. I enjoyed our conversation together and I’m sure the readers will benefit from this as well. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

The level of your friendship depends on your level of vulnerability you have with the other person. Click To Tweet

I appreciate you having me on, the questions and you as well, Patrick.

You, too. Thanks a lot.

Thank you.

Kevin did such a great job talking about his past, how it led up to where he is now with his Hyper Conscious Podcast and the mission that he’s on in terms of helping other youth especially to be able to navigate a better situation for themselves. I loved him talking about the seven why’s for dealing with either negative comments from others or negative thoughts from ourselves. That was powerful. It’s something that I certainly took away from that.

If you know somebody that would benefit from this show, I’d ask that you forward it on to that person. If you haven’t already subscribed, go ahead and subscribe. It would mean the world to me as well if you’d leave a rating or a comment for this or any other podcast because that’s how this message helping people to lead like no other continues to get out there. Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to do two things. One is lead like no other and the other is rise above your best.

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About Kevin Palmieri

Host and Podcast Coach

Kevin is the Founder & Host of the Next Level University, a Global Top 100 Self-Improvement podcast with more than 600 episodes reaching over half a million people in more than 100 countries on how to improve your life, love, health & wealth.

Kevin is a Podcast Consultant specializing in helping CEO’s & Entrepreneurs grow, scale & monetize their podcasts.

Kevin believes in a heart-driven but NO BS approach to inspiring, motivating & educating others on what it REALLY takes to get to the Next Level!

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