Positive mindset and the art of appreciation: Start speaking kindly to yourself and to others. Delete all negative thoughts. When you notice your mind shifting to a negative space, move your awareness back to a positive mindset. We become what we focus on the most. Napoleon Hill said: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” There’s a Buddha quote: “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” When obstacles come knocking, I always ask: “What does this pain teach me? How can this difficult and challenging experience make me stronger and more resilient?”
As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.
What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?
One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Blouin.
Julie Blouin is a gratitude and mindset expert, a certified professional coach, an international bestselling author, and a motivational speaker. She helps entrepreneurs, authors, and coaches overcome obstacles so they can reach their goals, let go of mindset blocks and limiting beliefs, increase their self-confidence, and live their best life. She is the co-author of the bestselling book: “A Journey of Riches: The Attitude of Gratitude” and founder of “Thrive and Shine — Women’s Empowerment Coaching.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?
Growing up as an identical twin was challenging as I struggled to find my identity in a world where I was being compared to someone else daily. As a teenager, it can be challenging to figure out where you fit in. As an identical twin, it was even harder. I felt like I didn’t have an individuality. Most people would call us “the twins” as they couldn’t tell us apart. I had a face with no first name, only a last name. I also shared my birthday, gifts, clothes, everything with another person.
Growing up in a French household, I kept telling my family: “Comparaison n’est pas raison” which is a proverb that means people should not be compared to one another, instead we should look at their individual qualities. The comparison to my twin sister on a daily basis annoyed me. I wanted to scream this saying at the top of my lungs.
During my twenties, in search of my identity, I tried all different types of hairstyles. I wanted to get a butterfly tattoo because I loved the symbolism of the butterfly — metamorphosis, and transformation. When the caterpillar thinks it’s dark and might be dying, it transforms into the most stunning butterfly. I was going through that exact transformation of finding my true identity. The tattoo was extremely symbolic for me but I did not want to commit to putting permanent ink on my body so I got a navel ring and a tongue ring instead but I eventually removed both of them.
One day, I saw a beautiful quote from Zen Shin: “A Flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” That quote resonated with me. After trying to alter my outside appearance to try and look different from my identical twin, I discovered that regardless of what I looked like on the outside, I had to gain self-confidence, remove self-doubt and limiting beliefs that were keeping me from becoming the best version of myself. Everything starts from within and I had to let go of the fear of owning my ultimate potential.
As a certified professional coach, I now help men and women overcome obstacles, understand their identity, increase their self-confidence, tap into their innate power to become the best version of themselves, and live their best life.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I took my coaching certification course back in 2014, but I started coaching before that. When I was about six or seven years old, I would line up my Cabbage Patch Kids and Teddy Bears in the basement where I created a classroom and I would teach them about life. I would never teach them about school subjects like math or science, it was always topics about life. I’m almost certain I taught them about gratitude.
When I was only sixteen years old, my brother passed away. The day after his funeral, I went back to school and my friends would ask me how I managed to cope so quickly with the devastating news of my brother’s passing at such a young age. I started coaching them about mindset, resilience, and gratitude. I only realized years later that I have been coaching friends and family since the age of six or seven years old.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
In 2013, when Leeza Gibbons asked me to take part in her book launch for her NY Times Best-selling book “Take 2: Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings”, I learned so much from her. She has such a caring and generous heart. She has done so much to help those affected by Alzheimer’s disease since both her mother and her grandmother were affected by the illness.
There are so many great quotes in that book, but I love this one: “Don’t keep from trying because you’re afraid you’ll fail, and don’t stop dreaming because you can’t imagine that dream coming true.” So many people are afraid to step outside their comfort zone and go after their dreams. I encourage my clients to set big goals because setting realistic goals will hold them back from achieving their true potential.
Leeza was always so positive, and she would always sign her messages or emails with “Ever Forward” — Leeza. Those two simple words mean so much to me. Even when the going gets tough in life, we must always push forward.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?
I’ve read hundreds of books and it’s almost impossible to only choose one, but recently, I read “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear And Take Life To The Next Level” by Gay Hendricks. In the book, he highlights the Upper Limit Problem which can hold you back from reaching your goals, living your best life, and reaching your Zone of Genius. Everyone has to step outside their comfort zone. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have fear. Even the most successful people I have met, still have fear, but they have learned to overcome barriers to happiness and reach their full potential.
I coach clients to move from procrastination to take action on their goals and dreams. Stepping outside our comfort zone feels so uncomfortable, but to grow, we need to do something we have never done before. We must push ourselves past our limitations and our limiting beliefs. Because humans are creatures of habits and routines, we don’t mind doing repetitive tasks even if they are mundane, because they feel safe and familiar. Even coaches need to focus on self-development to be reminded to set bigger goals and to push ourselves outside our comfort zone.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am a featured speaker in “Achieve any Dream Empower” virtual summit held on February 14th, 2021 where I will be speaking on how to step outside your comfort zone, and live boldly without fear. On February 24th, I’m also a featured speaker in “The Soulful Retreat for Female Entrepreneurs.” The retreat will help female entrepreneurs create a sustainable and soulful business. My topic is From Procrastination to Taking Action: How Successful Entrepreneurs Reach Goals.
In March, I will be a guest speaker in a Masterclass and my topic is “Successful, Beautiful, Confident: How to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Live Boldly Without Fear.” I’ve also been hosting some discussions on Clubhouse alongside some amazing speakers. The topics were: “Facing Fears and Conquering Limiting Beliefs”, “How to Overcome Fear and Overwhelm,” and “Going From Playing Small to Becoming Unstoppable.” I also intend on launching a course on mindset and resilience, and another one on gratitude, affirmations, the art of creating a vision board, and manifestation.
At the current time, so many people are struggling with mental health. I teach people that gratitude is the key to happiness and it’s free. When we tap into the attitude of gratitude, we can shift sadness into happiness, despair into hope. I help people move past obstacles that keep them from living their best life.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My twin sister has always been there for me. I do believe being womb mates gave us a special bond. We have been close our whole life, even when I decided to move one hour away from her for about fifteen years. As twins, we understand each other without the need to explain things in great detail.
I’m also grateful for my 14-year-old son who keeps me grounded. He has taught me unconditional love, courage, and strength. We are teachers to our kids, but our kids can be our greatest teachers if we observe carefully. I always tell people, don’t tell me who you are, show me. Kids observe and mimic our behaviours. As much as I inspire him, he inspires me as well. I can’t wait to see what he will decide to do with his life when he will be older.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?
Gratitude is the art of appreciation. Studies have proven that what you think about the most is what you will notice in your life. Perception is everything. When you can tap into the art of appreciating every moment, that is when even the most challenging obstacles can become easier to overcome. Gratitude can provide long-lasting positivity and help you recover from hardships faster.
Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?
So many people are simply too busy with every day tasks that they don’t necessarily take the time to feel gratitude. Starting a daily gratitude practice is not something that is taught in schools. So many people don’t know the true benefits of how shifting your mindset can change your life and increase your overall happiness and well-being. A simple thank you can make the world a better place. A gratitude journal is not time-consuming. It can be done in three to five minutes.
This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?
Starting your day with gratitude will set the tone for the rest of the day. It’s important to crack open your heart first thing in the morning. Gratitude can also improve sleep. Clearing your head before bedtime is even more important during chaotic times. When you’re writing your thoughts on paper, you’re releasing toxic emotions instead of keeping them trapped inside. When you let go of all the tensions of your day by journaling, this will enhance your sense of well-being, reduce anxiety, and help you sleep better.
Even if it feels like there are so many obstacles in your life, gratitude can redirect your focal point to a positive mindset. You’re able to look within your heart and live in the art of appreciation. Gratitude can also solidify relationships and bring increased happiness. Gratitude therapy for couples is becoming more common.
Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?
When you say thank you and appreciate the little things in life, you have an abundance or growth mindset, as opposed to scarcity or fixed mindset. When you focus on all the things you don’t have, you will never have enough. In contrast, when you are grateful for what you have, this simple gesture can increase your level of happiness and help you sustain a positive attitude even during difficult situations like losing your job during the pandemic. Scientific studies have proven that it is impossible to be grateful and sad at the same time.
Gratitude can also solidify relationships, connections and bring people closer. So many couples are struggling during the pandemic, but now they can enroll in gratitude therapy. Often when couples are going through challenging times, they resent the other person, or they only see negative aspects. When you identify three things you appreciate about your partner, this can reignite the flame instantly.
Journaling can release trapped emotions, and force us to see the silver lining in every situation. Even when life seems dark and difficult, if you look deeper than what’s at the surface level, there’s always something to be grateful for. Journaling can help you let go of negativity and struggles, and show you courage, strength, and resilience.
Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Positive mindset and the art of appreciation: Start speaking kindly to yourself and to others. Delete all negative thoughts. When you notice your mind shifting to a negative space, move your awareness back to a positive mindset. We become what we focus on the most. Napoleon Hill said: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” There’s a Buddha quote: “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” When obstacles come knocking, I always ask: “What does this pain teach me? How can this difficult and challenging experience make me stronger and more resilient?”
2. Gratitude journal: Every morning and evening write down five things you appreciate about your life or things that happened during the day that made you happy. The more you perfect this skill, you will notice words will flow effortlessly on paper. When you include journaling in your morning routine, it becomes a habit, and it only takes five minutes of your time. Being grateful and positive will attract more good things in your life. You will live in the flow of abundance.
3. Gratitude jar: Choose a clear glass jar, decorate it, and make it beautiful. Place it somewhere in your home where you will see it every day. Take a small piece of paper and write one thing you are grateful for that day and place it in the jar. Every time you will walk past the gratitude jar, your heart will immediately expand and you will vibrate in the energy of love and appreciation.
4. Write a thank you note or a gratitude letter: Write a note to someone you appreciate or love. You can even send it in the mail. It will make you feel good and bring you tremendous happiness by doing this small gesture. The other person will be extremely happy, touched, and grateful. A famous quote by Francis of Assisi is: “For it is in giving that we receive.” When my brother passed away, I wrote a gratitude letter to my twin sister to simply thank her for being in my life. It was immensely healing for both of us.
5. Collage Book: Include pictures that make you happy or the little things in life you appreciate. You could put a picture of your spouse, your children, the sand at the beach, the sun, your car, flowers, naps, books, music, your yoga mat, anything you love and appreciate in your life. This can be fun and creative. I had a picture of my son giving me a butterfly kiss with his eyelashes and his huge smile. His adorable laugh and smile brought instant love and joy to my heart.
Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?
Take your gratitude journal and re-read past journal entries. You will see that whatever you are going through, you can always find something positive in every situation. You can also take your gratitude jar and take out all the small pieces of paper, read each of them, and place them back in the gratitude jar. The same goes for the collage book. Looking at your book when you’re having a difficult day will spark happy memories and hopefully make you smile.
You can also write some affirmations to change your mindset from sad, vulnerable, and sensitive to strong, resilient, and happy. Some of my favorite affirmations are: I am stronger than any storm. I am resilient to obstacles and challenges. I am stronger than the person I was yesterday. I overcome all obstacles that stand in my way. I choose how I feel and I choose to be happy. I let go of things I cannot control.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?
The book: “A Journey of Riches: The Attitude of Gratitude” explores 12 stories of refining the art of appreciation. Monique explores how to maintain gratitude to heal from a terrible surfing accident. Tina Louise explains how to face cancer with the attitude of appreciation. It’s such a powerful book because it showcases different authors, heartfelt stories, and personal experiences on how the attitude of gratitude can help you pull through difficult situations.
I also recommend the book “Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity” by Robert A. Emmonds. It’s a step-by-step guide on how to add gratitude to your life. It’s backed by scientific research and it’s easy to read and to understand.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start a clothing company with empowering words on the clothes. I love simple designs with quotes or inspiring words. How you feel within always reflects on your outside appearance. I always say, beauty starts from within, so let your inner beauty radiate outwards. My favorite shirt is an off-the-shoulder top that says Love Life. It’s probably six years old, and I think I paid less than $10 for it, but I still love it. You should see the smiles and love I radiate when I wear that shirt. Everyone reads the shirt and smiles back. Positivity is contagious. It can create a ripple effect in the universe.
I would also give beautiful gratitude journals to every student so they can start every morning by writing three empowering thoughts in their journal. This will create a positive tone in the classroom to start the day. We don’t know what went on in the child’s life that morning, but giving them the time in class to think positively will be extremely empowering. When a student is having a difficult day, they could always pull out their gratitude journal and re-read the previous journal entries. This will automatically create a shift to a positive mindset.
What if our mindset is the key component to living a happier life, and succeeding at school?
What if teachers could spend less time disciplining students, and more time focusing on developing a positive and growth mindset instead? This would create a lasting impact on the bright stars of the future generation.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Here’s how people can follow me online:
Thrive and Shine — Women’s Empowerment Coaching: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thriveandshinecoaching
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Thank you so much for the interview. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be featured in this interview series!