Eps 449: Motivating teens with Nataly Kogan

Episode 449

My guest today is Nataly Kogan, and she’s here to talk about simple practices that can help us move from struggling to thriving.   

Nataly starts off today sharing her amazing story as a child immigrant and refugee and how that led her to the work she does today.  Nataly and I discuss how we can juggle motivating our teens to be achievers without pushing themselves to burnout.  We talk about Nataly’s “Awesome Human Journal,” her TEDx Talk, and how our inner-critics help, or don’t help, our parenting.  Nataly shares her wisdom about self-talk, why we are so much kinder when we speak to others, and how self-compassion makes us better parents.  Finally, I ask Nataly to introduce her five emotional fitness skills: acceptance, gratitude, self-care, intentional kindness & compassion, and finding the “bigger why.”  

Guest Description 

Nataly is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author on a mission to help millions of people cultivate their happier skills by making simple, scientifically backed practices part of their daily life. Nataly is a sought-after keynote speaker and has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TEDxBoston, SXSW, The Harvard Women’s Leadership Conference, and The Dr. Oz Show. She is a self-taught abstract artist and a devoted yogi. Nataly lives with her family outside of Boston. For more, visit happier.com.

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Takeaways from the show

  • How do we teach teens to be achievers without pushing themselves to burnout? 
  • Nataly’s “Awesome Human Journal” 
  • Quieting your self-criticism 
  • “Self-talk is not free” 
  • Self-compassion improves your ability to show-up at your best 
  • Making the decision to shift from struggling to thriving 
  • We are not here to suffer
  • “Treating yourself like a friend” 
  • Emotional fitness skills 
  • “Earning” or “deserving” self-care & how much time self-care takes

What does joyful courage mean to you

To me, personally, what joyful courage means is expressing your unique gifts with confidence.  We’re sitting here, and you’re looking at one of my paintings behind me.  One of the things I started to do after my burn-out was paint.  I always wanted to paint my whole life, but I didn’t give myself permission because what did that have to do with being a successful business woman or taking care of my family?  No!  So many parents deny themselves self-expression because they think, “How does this contribute to my family? I don’t have the time.  I don’t deserve this.”  In retrospect, all those B.S. stories were just stories of denying myself joy.  I think it takes courage to say, “You know what?  This brings me joy and I’m going to do it.  I’m going to do it for me.”  Then, what you realize, and this is what I’ve realized with all of my painting, is when you do things that bring you joy, you are a being of joy for everyone around you.  I cannot imagine myself without painting anymore, and it has nothing to do with the painting.  I’ve embraced the artist part of myself, which means I’m more authentic.  I’m more real.  I can stand here and tell you that painting has made me a better mom.  Not because of painting, not because my daughter paints – she doesn’t, not even because she likes my art.  That doesn’t matter.  It’s made me a better mom because you cannot truly thrive and show-up for people if you are hindering part of yourself.  So to me, that’s what courageous joy means: really expressing your unique gifts with courage and with openness.  I realize this can be challenging.  I have a whole practice in the journal of telling a better joy story because parents especially, we are amazing at denying ourselves joy.



Nataly’s Website (with info about Nataly’s upcoming 5-week course and the Five Day Emotional Fitness Challenge) 

Nataly’s Books 

Nataly’s TEDx Talk 

Happier App 

Nataly on Instagram

Nataly on LinkedIn

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Casey O'Roarty, Nataly Kogan

Casey O'Roarty 00:03
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead at Sproutsocial. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:19
Hi, listeners. Welcome back to the show. My guest today is Nataly Kogan. Nataly is an entrepreneur, speaker and author on a mission to help millions of people cultivate their happier skills by making simple, scientifically backed practices part of their daily life. Natalie is a sought after keynote speaker and has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times The Wall Street Journal, TEDx Boston, South by Southwest, the Harvard Women's Leadership Conference and the Dr. Oz Show. She is a self taught abstract artist, and devoted yogi. Natalie lives with her family outside of Boston. And you can find more about her and her [email protected] I'm so excited to be in conversation with you. Welcome to the podcast. Natalie,

Nataly Kogan 02:15
thank you so much for having me.

Casey O'Roarty 02:17
Yeah, can you start off so I have the luxury of getting to meet you after having watched your TED Talk and your story? Well, it's the immigrant story will you share about how your life has inspired your work?

Nataly Kogan 02:32
Store? What a beautiful way to ask that question. I always say I teach what I have learned through my lens and lots of research because I'm a Research geek, but I teach what I have learned. So yeah, I do have the immigrant story. I grew up in the former Soviet Union. And in 1989, I was 13. And my parents and I left to try and come to the US as refugees were Jewish Jews were officially persecuted. So we left and we went to Europe, we went to a refugee settlement first in Vienna. And then for two and a half months in Italy, applying for permission to come to the US as refugees. We were allowed to bring two suitcases per person and a couple $100 per person. That was all we had. And it was not enough. So it was a really difficult time. But we did get permission, we got refugee status. And I began my American dream, in the projects outside of Detroit on welfare and food stamps that we were very lucky to have. And I always start I mean, that is the impetus for my kind of life expression. But it's also I always say being a refugee. It's not an event, it's who I am. This was 34 years ago, my being and how I approach life is very much a refugee mindset has a lot of positives to it. I'm incredibly resilient, I feel like everything can be figured out. I don't have a lot of fear. But on the other hand, one of the things I learned from my refugee experience was that life is a struggle. And I kind of really took that in because it was really hard. I mean, you can imagine we had nothing I didn't speak English. Everyone made fun of me in eighth grade. You know, my parents had to find jobs and put food on the table was really, really hard. And I sort of adopted this like mindset that life is a struggle. And if you're gonna have a good life, you have to struggle and I've always been a really hard worker. I love working hard. I think it's part of the reason we're here, but I kind of set out on this path of okay, I'm just gonna work super hard. I'm gonna achieve all these things. Yep, I'm gonna struggle. And then eventually, like, I'll feel good. I'll be happy. I'll like honour this, you know, journey that we went on. And so for the next, I don't know, 20 ish or so years. I brought that into reality. I worked super hard. I obviously learn how to speak English without an accent. I graduated top of my class and college I had a series of incredibly impressive jobs and consulting and technology. I was at McKinsey and Microsoft at 25 I was a managing director at a venture capital firm it's an industry with fewer than 6% women. I was the youngest by like 20 years I started companies. I mean, I married my college sweetheart, Avi, we just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary, we had a beautiful little girl named Mia, who is now a sophomore in college. You know, I was the main breadwinner, we had a beautiful home and a beautiful neighbourhood. And, you know, I even bought my parents and I Mercedes, just like, because I could like I wanted to, like, share this achievement, but I was really struggling on the inside. I mean, on the outside, it was like the Hallmark story on the inside, I was really struggling and I was struggling in so many different ways. Like I was struggling because I was working nonstop. And kind of my entire identity was tied to my work. And I would never do stupid quote unquote, things like rest or sleep or I mean, I felt like self care was for lazy people. So I was obviously struggling because of that. But it wasn't just the overworking, I was also really struggling because I didn't know how to handle my emotions. I'm not sure I was very aware of my emotions, I know, emotional awareness. And so I kind of was this, like a little boat in the ocean of life, you know, so when things were sort of, okay, like, I was kind of okay. But life is full of challenges. So whenever a challenge happened, I was like in the store, and I was spinning around. And by the way, taking everybody around with me because I have a powerful personality. But again, like, I thought that's the right way. Like I thought you're gonna do meaningful things in your life. And I'm an entrepreneur, a mom, I was like, This is good, I'm suffering like, this is how it's supposed to be. And again, I kept waiting for that magic moment. When I'm like, Okay, I've done enough, I can feel good. And that didn't come. And instead, I suffered a really debilitating burnout. Seven years ago, it was very scary. It literally like brought me to my knees. And I came very close to losing everything that was meaningful to me. And that kind of became my turning point, which was not overnight and not very graceful, and took a bunch of years of a lot of inner work and research and all kinds of things. But that became my turning point to find a different way to live and work. And then I've now been teaching that to hundreds of 1000s of awesome humans since then.

Casey O'Roarty 07:14
There's so many things in your story that I find so fascinating. I mean, I don't know what the numbers are of people who have this shared experience of at 13. Going to a completely different place, different culture, different language. My mom, actually when she was 13, they immigrated from Canada. So her big thing was, oh, nobody's wearing baggy socks, everybody's wearing these nylon, you know, there was something about her voice that people could catch up on. But I mean, showing up from the former Soviet Union, and I actually was a school teacher in a different life. And as a student teacher, I worked in a school with kids from right near a centre where immigrants would come and just like you, you know, where they were given resources. And so the school was really diverse. And I remember having two little girls from Russia, and one of them literally, like day one of being in the States. And I remember just thinking to myself, like, what is the experience of this kid, you know, not knowing anything that anybody's saying around her. And by the end of that school year, watching the way that she had felt really like, it makes me emotional built relationships, and all the learning that she did over that year. It's so inspiring. And my perception is, kids being and people humans being thrust into this experience of there's no other choice than to figure it out. And the level of courage that you're invited into, it's just so moving, and so powerful. So thank you for sharing that. The other thing is, I just recently was, in my I have a membership group for parents of teenagers. And, you know, we're all lamenting about how, you know, kids that don't want to work hard, right. And one of the moms, you know, stepped in with great support and talked about, you know, well, this isn't necessarily our experience, and she started talking about her kiddo. And how overly motivated, you know, how hard she is working. And I think as a culture, we look at someone, like the career that you just described, or a kid who's like a superstar overachiever. And we might know somewhere in our minds, like, Oh, how's the mental health going? They're like, but you know what? They're into it. They're doing it so I can rest I can sit back because at least my kid is turning in their assignments. Right. And it's just such an interesting value placement. Right. Well, you

Nataly Kogan 09:48
know, as a parent, you know, my daughter obviously was born in the US and as I mentioned, she's now a sophomore in college. But as a parent, I don't do work with teens, but a lot of my audience, our parents, and they kind of bring the work to their teens. And a lot of the reason I wrote the awesome human journalist to bring this work into the teens lives directly, because they may not read my book, but they're going to do a journal. But as a parent, you know, my experience of overworking and kind of seeking this like measure of achievement and success that never seem to be that absolutely influenced how I parented how we parented our daughter, I mean, of course, you parent to the kid that you have meant. So for me, it's been this, well, you

Casey O'Roarty 10:32
try to you, hopefully, you try to write, it's been

Nataly Kogan 10:36
this juggle, of pushing her to apply herself, but also making sure that she learns how to take care of herself. And I think that's, I've been very grateful to have gone through what I went through with my burnout and care to witness it. So she could learn, because I, you know, just seeing a lot of her friends, you know, these wonderful, smart humans who are working really hard. I mean, there's such a degree of self criticism and such a degree of constant feeling of inadequacy and constantly like, feeling like they're not doing enough where I feel like these emotional fitness skills that I teach, that I had to learn are such a missing foundation that would actually enable the harder work and the achievement and the resilience. Yeah. Or at least, you know, that's been my observation. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 11:29
And I'm excited to get into all of those emotional fitness things with you, too. And I mentioned listeners, you know, I got to get my hands on Natalie's Journal, the awesome human journal.

Nataly Kogan 11:44
It is, but I wouldn't say it's a companion it's inspired by but you don't need the book to get the most out of the journal. It's a completely standalone, and it's got lots of new stuff in it. That's not. It's

Casey O'Roarty 11:55
amazing. I love to journal and I love just blank pages. And I know a lot of people that are like, intimidated by the blank page. This is such a useful guide for anybody, me and anyone else. As far as digging in and just kind of being in that, you know, as we record, it's the end of the year. And I think for a lot of people, it's an opportunity to kind of take inventory on how was this year? How am I doing? You know, what does it look like? How do I want it to look, what might I do in the future? And I think, the more often that we can take that pause and check in on ourselves, the better. And this is such a useful guide in that practice. And I told you, I'm gonna tell listeners, I bought one for everybody in my family. And you know whether or not my kids are like, I mean, I already can see the look on their face. But keep it by your bedside. Oh, there your kids. 18 and 20. A

Nataly Kogan 12:53
lot of teenagers are loving this journal. Yeah, yeah, I have heard I'm

Casey O'Roarty 12:56
gonna trust that they're gonna love it.

Nataly Kogan 12:58
Or not tell their parents. Yeah, but we don't care about that. We just want them to get the benefit.

Casey O'Roarty 13:05
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I love that was actually there were two parts in your TED Talk. So listeners, Natalie has a TED talk, I'll make sure the link is in the show notes. There were two spots in your talk that had me in tears. And the first was when you spoke about the teens that are using the happier app, which I want you to talk a little bit about, and the feedback that you're getting from them. It was just so moving. And then of course, at the end, when you think to your parents and the camera panned to them, I mean, I just lost it, I can't get

Nataly Kogan 13:39
the prize. I did not know there were so just a couple of things. So just for clarity, we don't have the happier app anymore. We shut that five years ago, but I'm happy to talk about how teens are using my work and what we're seeing from them. But that moment, at the end, it was a gift I didn't you know, the TEDx talks, they're highly rehearsed. And we rehearsed the whole thing. And they knew my parents were coming. I was closing the Boston TEDx that year. And I think they did it on purpose so that it wouldn't be rehearsed. But all of a sudden, as I'm finishing my talk, and I get very emotional, because I'm very close with my parents, we made this journey together. I'm an only child, the three of us, you know, when you go through something like what we've gone through, yeah, and we're really close. But I saw I was already kind of tearing up and I can see them and all of a sudden I see that cameraman runs in with a handheld and goes right for my parents. And I've heard from I mean, 1000s of people about the end, you know, for everyone who watched us to the end, but it was a giant gift for me. Because I not only physically I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing without them but also just without all the giant love and support and genes and just their belief in me. There's no way I'd be able to do all the things I do. Well,

Casey O'Roarty 14:55
I can't watch the voice or any of those shows when And they pan to the parents without losing it, because I just immediately put myself in the shoes of the parents and seeing their child in their fullest expression, you know, and making an impact. And so that was really beautiful. That was really beautiful. And so now, so now shifting into kind of this content, so you know, my listeners are parents of teenagers as the people that I work with. And man, we are waiting, we including you to your daughter is probably what

Nataly Kogan 15:30
is 90, we're still in the teenage years, so

Casey O'Roarty 15:33
it just barely, we wade through so much. And it is so easy to drop into fear and dread. Yeah, right. And that fear and dread is often and just this morning on a call with a client accompanied by this voice of self doubt, what have I done, you know, this is my fault, that blame and that self blame and shame. And your work. Part of what you know, your work does is support people in quieting that inner critic. Yeah. And talking back to our brain. Let's talk a little bit about that. What does that sound like? How do you work with people around that because it's real.

Nataly Kogan 16:16
It's real. And it's such a great place to begin. And before I dive in, I just want to say, you know, one of the things that I have found, you know, I do a tonne of like keynote, speaking all over the world. That's kind of the main part of my business. And I speak companies hire me conferences, and when there's q&a, the first or second question is always I've done hundreds of talks is always, how do I bring this to my child? It's a parent in the audience and the answer, and I do when I like, say this up the top, what I tell them is I say, you know, you may not like this answer, but the way you bring this to your child is you practice it yourself. And I do really want to say this, because I have seen my daughter, Mia benefit so much from my learning these practices, including self criticism, right? She teenage girls super like that's their culture of self criticism. We all have this inner critic in our head, and a certain amount of healthy self doubt, I think is part of being human, because you're doing all new things all the time, like being alive is doing new things all the time. And there's like that doubt. But so many of us, I think most of us, I mean, the inner critic in my head wasn't just an inner critic who was very harsh and rude and kind of annihilating, very abusive. And I think so many people and parents have this voice. And so the first thing I want to say I've had to do a lot of work that was a giant part of my life transition transformation is to learn this work. But a couple things that I want to share that I find so helpful. The first is, and this is not a question you listeners are gonna love because it's gonna cause friction. But the first thing is to really ask yourself, How does this constant self criticism, how does it help me be a better parent? You're not going to like asking this question, because like, the minute I say it, it causes friction, because the reality is, constant self criticism helps nothing ever. I mentioned, I'm a Research geek, there are zero studies, zero, not one, but zero, that show any kind of benefit of constant self criticism on anything. In fact, constant self criticism reduces feelings of efficacy, confidence, resilience, it actually prevents you from being good at what you do. Now, again, I don't mean lack of self criticism and doesn't mean that you walk around like I am a perfect parent. Yeah. That is also BS. self criticism is constantly focusing and making up stories, by the way very giant stories about your awfulness, or how you didn't do this or that enough. So the first question to ask yourself, and this is what really helps me a lot is how does this like this client that you mentioned? How does talking to myself in this way? How is this actually helping me be a better parent? And the answer is, it's not. And I think that's a really important place to begin, like, awareness is huge. Once you have the awareness, you have choices, I think of awareness is like a flashlight. Once you shine a light on something, you've seen it. So then the next time you experienced that criticism, like again, that question like how does this help me be a better parent? You know, I work with a lot of leaders, a lot of entrepreneurs, same question. Like I do this with myself, how does this help me be better the second thing that I want to offer is that your self talk is not free. And this was a giant learning moment for me like the way that we talk to ourselves. It is not free. You know, we all talk about self care and mental health and the way you talk to yourself either drains your energy or it gives you energy. It either makes you feel good and capable to move forward or it makes you feel like crap and and keep Trouble. And so we have to understand that this constant self criticism is actually negative for our ability to give of ourselves in the way we want to, it doesn't matter how much we want to if you're constantly self criticising, you're using a lot of your energy, mental energy, emotional energy on it, wouldn't you rather use that energy to actually help your child or show up to them with the kind of love that you have? And I just want to offer because my passion and this is what the journalist filled with, that's the signature of all my work, I want to offer a very specific practice, because to me, like, I think it's important to understand the concepts. And then I want you to have something you can do. So the first thing is always when you catch that inner criticism, I want you to ask yourself this hard question, pursuing this line of talking to myself this way? How does this help me be a better parent? Like, because that will stop you that will stop you in your tracks? And then what I want you to practice is self compassion, but self compassion, I mean, very tactical, what is self compassion? Self Compassion is treating yourself in a way that reduces struggle. Self Compassion is not Oh, my God, I did everything perfectly. No, that is not self compassion. Self Compassion is how would you talk to a person you love, so that you can support yourself through this difficult situation instead of adding struggle? So when you catch that inner critic like, Oh, my God, I made this giant mistake, I ruined everything. I'm an awful parent, we all get there. Pause. thank yourself for noticing. Ask how is this helping me a better parent and then shift? Ask yourself, if I was talking to someone I love, imagine that person, maybe it's your best friend or your partner, it could be your child, I think of me, I imagine me. How would I say this to that person? So if my dear friend Sharon, who is, you know, one of my closest friends who's a parent of two teenage girls, if she came to me, and told me about the same situation that I'm facing with me, for which I'm criticising myself, what would I say to her? What I say, wow, you know, Sharon, you are awful parents. You will have really messed this up. I actually don't think you're going to be able to fix this. Your kids hate you. Know, thank you for laughing. I would never say that. Right, right. There's what say that? I'd say like, I'd acknowledge it part of self compassion is honesty. Courageous honesty, I'd be like, yeah, you probably could have handled that better. I got it like you snapped. I understand. Like, but you know, it sucks. But I wouldn't then layer on the suffering, right? I'd say things like, listen, it sucks. But your daughter's know you love them. Don't blow up this one incident for the 20 years of parenting. I might say something like, have you apologise? Because I think you should apologise. Like, if you talk to them about it. I might say something like, listen, there's nothing you can do about this. Like, just remember next time, you know, maybe blah, blah, blah. That's how we would talk to someone we love. So shift out of the oh my god, I'm the worst parent, how did I do that? Into okay, what would I say if this was a friend I love in the situation. And that's the magic. And that's the practice. And it's shifting out of self criticism into self compassion. And research shows that self compassion improves your ability to show up at your best, it actually helps you to work harder, it gives you more energy to move forward. When you practice self compassion, you're a better parent, and your kid is going to watch you do it your kid is learning because they see you shift. My daughter Mia, you know about to launch a new course in January is going to be my first signature course the emotional fitness boosts teaching all the emotional fitness skills. And there's a video we're putting on the sales page. It was a total impromptu interview, was filming some videos in our house. And my friend Ken is my videographer. And she was around. And I was like babes. Can I just like ask you a question and can have the camera rolling? I said, Can you talk about how my creating a better relationship with myself how it's impacted you and us. And she just talked for two minutes. And we took the entire thing uncut. And we're putting it on a website. Actually, if you want to be a part of it, if you go to Natalie cogan.com and go to the awesome human journal page, it's also there. But what she talked about was that watching me create more compassion with myself, made me a more understanding and patient mom, that we could be friends that I used to snap a lot and then feel really guilty and cry. And that was the cycle. She's like, now she doesn't snap as much and if she messes up, it's you know, we just talk about if I mess up we just talk about and then she went on to talk about how she now does this with herself. And I mean, of course I was crying watching this but that's the power of your as a parent shifting from self criticism to self compassion. Not only do you actually have more to give and support your kids, but you're also teaching them isn't that a giant reason to practice this?

Casey O'Roarty 24:51
I love your response to the parents who are asking how do I teach this to my kids? I love that trickle down that modelling. It's so interesting, because like when I teach a six week positive discipline for parents of teens class, and by week two or three, they show up, the parents show up, and they're like, Oh, my God. So this isn't even about my kids. This is about me. And I say, like, Yep, I don't put that on the flyer, because nobody's gonna sign up for that class. But it is so powerful. It's not always the answer that people want to hear. But it's the truth. And I think, you know, if you had, you know, for you, it was your burnout in work, I think lots of people have those dark nights, that aren't really one night of the soul experiences that kind of pivot them into this seeking of personal growth and development and expansion. A lot of people that I work with, they haven't had that experience, and are finding themselves in this pain and suffering of raising adolescence and being in the friction and in the conflict. And really, this is the invitation for personal growth and development. If it hasn't been presented yet. Welcome to the personal growth and development workshop you didn't know you signed up for It's called being a parent of a teenager. You know, what are some things that you hear from people just around that willingness to I mean, because we can also the option is also to live in the suffering and in the resistance, like that's when physically emotionally mentally we can be in the place of breakdown, if we're not willing to move and shift? Yeah. What do you think? Well,

Nataly Kogan 26:40
you know, what

Nataly Kogan 26:41
you said is absolutely right. You know, I call what I went through burnout, it was really kind of a breakdown. I mean, it wasn't just work, like I was living a life I was not aligned with and so it affected everything. And people often asked me if I think it is necessary to have an experience like that to really, you know, choose differently. And maybe this is silly of me, but I don't think so, I think we can actually make the choice. I don't think it's a giant choice. Actually, I think it's a daily choice. It's an hourly choice, right? And that's what I say I do, I try to catch people before they get there, I help people shift from struggle to thriving, by practising these simple practices before they get to a place where you know, they're forced to choose. But the challenge with us human beings, and I'm part of this because I have to be forced, the challenge with us is, you know, the human brain doesn't like to change, the brain really does not like to change, it doesn't like to change its patterns, it doesn't like to change our environment. And so it is hard to just kind of decide. And that's why often people have to have this difficult experience to shift because it kind of leaves a no choice. And so I do want to acknowledge that, like, that's why New things are hard. new habits are hard, because the brain is just like, you know, to use teenage language. It's just hard. No, it's like, no, I'm not doing this. And I think the other thing, you know, one of my favourite kind of spiritual teachers, Rahm das had this beautiful quote, he said, and I think it's one of his books, or I heard him speak, I'm not sure. But he said, that suffering is the sandpaper to happiness. Suffering is the sandpaper to happiness. And that was absolutely true for me, I had suffered so much that is like sandpaper just wore me down and my soul and my being to a place where I couldn't do it anymore. But I think so many people somehow are able to, like, suffer, and somehow they just stay in it. Like they don't reach the crisis point. So they just tolerate it. They just, like, steal their lives. And then that's the big motivation for my work. As I tell people like you are not here to struggle, you are not here to get through the day, you're not here to dread your day. That is not why you're given this gift of life, you are here to thrive. And thriving doesn't mean life is easy. Thriving means you know how to thrive amidst the challenges including a challenge of parenting a teenager, which is like, Oh, my God, the hardest thing ever. And so I just I think that it is absolutely possible for us to make these choices. The way our brain works, makes it hard, because it's like, I'm not doing this new thing. This is who I am. But it is possible. And that's why you know, my work, I really focus on creating these, like very simple practices, that you're not undertaking some giant life change. You're just gonna, next time you notice criticising yourself, you're gonna practice the shift to self compassion. You're gonna start there. That's a simple practice that doesn't tell your brain Okay, now you have to change. It's just a little thing I'm going to do so I think it is possible. And I think it is about doing the small things that if you do them consistently have a giant impact. But I really resonate with what you said about being a parent. You know, I work with a lot of leaders, leaders or parents at work. It's the same thing. Yeah, yeah. And I run this leadership programme leading through change. And I was smiling when you said that, you know, parents come to the second week of your workshop, and they're like, Wait, this is about me. This programme. It's about leading through change. But the whole programme is about themselves and their mindset, and they're like, wait, what I'm like, Yeah, because you will naturally lead wonderfully and confidently and effectively and compassionately if you can just practice it and learn these things on your own. And so I think that's a giant, I guess that's one of the big messages that I want to share with parents of teens. And it's very personal. Because I've experienced this, the biggest gift you can give to yourself and your team is to learn how to treat yourself like a friend. That is the biggest gift. It just changes everything. And I really do mean to sound that grandiose about it, because I've just seen the impact with my daughter. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 30:36
yeah, I love that language. Treat yourself like a friend, right? And the gifts that we're willing to give our friends and the encouragement that we're willing to give our friends, and you've got these fitness skills, right, these five emotional fitness skills that I want to get into as well. And I love that you call them this, because I am currently on my own personal health improvement journey again. And, you know, when I am consistently going to the gym, and following my personal trainers, plan on weights and lifting weights, I love how it changes the muscles in my body. And so thinking about the emotional skills, the emotional intelligence that, you know, I talked about a lot here on the podcast, the idea of working them out regularly, right? That's kind of what I hear what I think about when I hear about emotional fitness, like how are we working out our emotional skills, you know, and our mental skills and our capacities beyond the body, but really focusing in on that inner being so talk about the five skills and tell us like what they are and give us a little bit of, you know, the how in the workout? Yeah, that's a light workout. I'll

Nataly Kogan 32:04
try to do all that in the next 20 minutes. Right?

Casey O'Roarty 32:06
You can do that, right? It's only, I mean, I know you wrote a whole book about it, but come on, I can.

Nataly Kogan 32:12
So the five skills are so the first skill is what I call the skill of acceptance. And this is a gateway skill. And what I mean by that is without that, nothing else matters. And acceptance is really about acknowledging how you feel, how things are how a particular situation is with clarity instead of judgement. So it's really about like, this is how I feel not how I should feel. This is how the things are in my relationship with my child or in the situation, not how I think they should be like, just acknowledging it with clarity. And from that point, saying, okay, given how things are, what is one thing I could do to struggle less, what is one thing I could do to move forward with less struggles, it's the foundational skill, it is also the skill that we love to skip. Because it's hard, because you have to really face all the negative stories your brain has made up. But it's so powerful because it puts you in control. It puts you it focuses your attention on here's something I could do to struggle less I could do to move forward, but less struggle. And I just kind of shared the how it's really these questions like the first is like, and I really recommend you journal about this. And in my journal, I have a little template for you. But you can just use a piece of paper, like, whatever situation that's causing you stress or struggle, like, write it down, and then really get very, like honest with yourself, like, what are the facts I know to be true? Versus like, what is stuff my brain has made up? You know? And just as a hint, like anything in the I'm the worst parent ever. That's pretty made up. Okay. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 33:42
Or they'll never move out, or they'll never be able to take care of, or Yeah, right.

Nataly Kogan 33:46
Yeah. And then say like, What's one thing I could do right now that is in my control right now, to move forward with less struggle. Maybe it's a conversation you have, maybe it's something sometimes there's nothing you can do about the situation. But you could acknowledge your feelings, you could have a conversation, you could share your feelings with someone. But this is a giant step because now you're in positive action. Now you're moving forward, you release some struggle, it's a giant shift. The second skill is gratitude. It's much easier to practice and probably we're all familiar, gratitude is the skill of focusing your attention on the small positive things in your day or your life, even when things are really hard. But the most important thing about gratitude is to have a daily consistent practice, and to be really specific, so the biggest mistake I see people make is I say, what are you grateful for? And they'll say, my family, my kids sunshine, that's so general to your brain, it sounds like reliving that ended up whatever. It's too general. So be really specific every day like today, I'm grateful for the fact that you know, my daughter texted me all these funny just before my keynote like that's specific that makes me feel like connected. I really appreciate that. So be really specific and it is so important to have a daily gratitude practice and this is a wonderful practice to do together with your kids. And, you know, teenagers especially they like being a little competitive. So we would do things like those whiteboards, it was on the fridge. And each day we each wrote we're grateful for and our daughter love being first like you can you know, you could do it at dinner, you could do gratitude tag, like before dinner, everyone goes around, you tag the next person, like, what are you grateful for? It's an amazing thing to do with your kids. The third skill is self care. And this is not to get on my soapbox, but I can't help it. I hate the way we talk about self care in our culture as like some kind of a luxury or a gift, right? self care is going to a spa. You know what I love a spa. But that is not self care. Self Care is a skill of managing your energy. self care is really about fueling your emotional, mental and physical energy on a consistent basis. Just like when your car's running out of gas, you don't sit there and go, Well, I don't know just my car deserve gas. You do that? I mean, I hope no one listening does that. But we do that with ourselves. Don't wait. You're exhausted. But you're sitting there go. I don't know if I deserve this. I haven't finished my work. I haven't cleaned the kitchen. I've been a bad mom today. You know, your energy is your fuel. You need it to do the job of being a human being just like a car needs gas to do its job of being a car. And the big objection I'm hearing in the minds of people like Oh, Natalie, I'm so busy. Everybody is busy. When driving in your car is running out of gas. Do you say you know what? I'm too busy to fill it up. No, you don't do that. Because you know, it's going to run out of gas, you go fill it up. The same with your energy, your energy is not negotiable. We each have a limited reservoir of energy. So if you're not doing something consistently to fill it up, you are not operating well. That means we snap, we can't make good decisions, we cannot give our full love. And the thing about self care, like my favourite daily practice is it doesn't take a long time. 20 minutes a day, I call it a mini fuel. Can you find 20 minutes a day doesn't have to be the same time every day, put on your calendar. Morning, evening, whenever you have time. And when that time comes, the first thing is to check in with yourself. We do not check in with our so just check in and be like how am I doing? How am I feeling? Just like you would with a friend? Right? Like you see if you go how are you? And then just the knowledge how you're feeling? Um, based on what you're feeling? Ask yourself like what is something I could do for the next 10 to 20 minutes to fuel that energy. So if you're physically exhausted, maybe you can meditate or go for a walk if you are mentally frazzled, what can help you kind of be calmer a little bit. I promise you, if you do this every single day, even for 10 minutes, it'll make a giant difference. Because you're intentionally fueling your energy and it does not take a lot you do not take need to go to a spa for the whole day. If you can, that's wonderful. But that is not required. A lot of people fall into this like black or white like all or nothing like I don't have four hours to really take time for myself. So I'm just gonna do nothing. No 10 minutes is a giant investment in your energy. Because you do 10 minutes every day, you are now a person who takes care of themselves. You're now a person who fuels their energy, you're gonna find more and more opportunities to do it. So acceptance, gratitude, self care, that fourth skill is intentional kindness and compassion. You know, we humans are not were meant to be social, were meant to be connected. We're not here to live on our own. We need social connection. And the best way that I know how to fuel social connection is with intentional kindness. And it's very simply doing something kind without expecting anything in return. And listening is kindness, saying something supportive as kindness. You know, Deepak Chopra has this wonderful concept which I love to practice, which is, in every interaction with another person, can you give them a gift doesn't have to be a physical gift. It could be you wish them well, you pay them a genuine compliment, you say something encouraging to them. The amazing thing about kindness, it is incredibly, a giant gift for yourself. First, we think of kindness is altruistic, it is not. It is for us first, when you do something kind you experience a flood of oxytocin and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters that make you feel good, you feel more connected, you feel less alone, it's a really core skill to practice. And again, it doesn't have to be giant things.

Nataly Kogan 39:01
I mean, even like with your kiddo, you know,

Nataly Kogan 39:05
I started writing these little notes to me, from time to time, I would do like lunch notes. But this was separate, like, just like, hey, I appreciate this about your whatever. I didn't know at the time how much it meant to her. But now she tells me or kindness could be, you know, listening to her go on and on and on about this band that I really can't stand but she goes about it. So I'm gonna listen attentively. And the final the fifth skill is what I call the skill, the bigger why and this is really about connecting to really sense of purpose in your life. And, you know, we often think that purpose is somewhere out there and we have to go find it. But really, your sense of purpose is right here. It's in your to do list and we find meaning as humans, when we connect what we're doing on an everyday basis to how it helps other people to how it contributes to someone other than us. And I mean, being a parent talk about a sense of purpose, but it gets lost. It gets lost in the busy and the overwhelm. By the details. And so one of my favourite practices to really on a daily basis to reconnect to your sense of meaning is look at your to do list, pick a couple of things, the more annoying the better. You know, like those two dues where you're like, oh my god, I should do this. But like, I don't want to, and ask yourself, when I get this done, who does it help? I call this a to do list makeover. I love doing this. And answer the question, you know, like grocery shopping? Does it help? Well, it helps my family be more nourished or like I was working on slides for a presentation. Who did I hate slides? Who does this help? Well, it helps the 700 people that are coming to hear me speak right, get a better experience. And again, it's a small practice. And this takes like 20 seconds. But now instead of just getting through your day, just getting stuff done, just like hustling, grinding through it. Now you're filled like you understand that what you're doing it actually meaningfully contributes to someone. And being more connected to your sense of purpose for helps you manage stress better reduces anxiety, improves resilience, it's a really powerful thing. And again, it doesn't take a lot. And so these are the five skills and a little practice for each. And, you know, this is what my journal is. It's like all these different practices and exercises and and templates to practice these skills. But again, you know, kind of my philosophy is that you don't need to make drastic life changes. You just have to practice.

Casey O'Roarty 41:17
Yes, I love that. And I love as I listened to you talk, I think both of our the work that we do in the world really distil down has to do with relationship and relating the relationships that we have with others with ourselves, the relationships that we have with tasks, the relationship that we have with time, you know, I think that it's so powerful. I love intentional kindness, my kids crack up, I cannot walk by someone without a notice something that I love about them without just being like you. This is working for you. And you're right. Yes, it's for them. But I love watching people's like, first it's like, Who is this person talking to me? And then it's the soft bliss of like, ah, of being recognised and connected with and it's so it is it's my heart bursts in that moment as I watched that happen for another person? Yes. And I love the bigger why there are so many things that can feel like a slog, right. And it's not like something I've been talking about a lot lately is it's not so much the experiences that we have, but it's how we are experiencing the experiences that we have. And like you said, that is a place where I can influence and I can control. I can control how I'm experiencing

Nataly Kogan 42:42
this. You can see Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 42:43
yeah. So, huh. I love your work. Natalie. I'm so awesome. Thank you. Well, is there anything else before we wrap up that you want to make sure to share with listeners?

Nataly Kogan 42:58
No, I think good. Thank you for such thoughtful questions. I think we've covered a lot again Natalie Cogan, I direct everyone you can go to happier.com or you can go Natalie cogan.com. Natalie cogan.com has a free excerpt from my journal that you can download. I have a wonderful totally free five day emotional fitness challenge. In five days you get a little very onboarding very short video from me every day with one of the skills and a practice. So I those are some free resources. I'm at Natalie Cogan on the socials, probably Instagram and LinkedIn is where I live the most. And yeah, I'm launching my signature emotional fitness boost course at the end in the middle of January. So if that's intriguing to you, if you are, as I say, if you are ready to make the shift from struggle to thriving, check it out. That's all on Natalie kogan.com

Casey O'Roarty 43:42
Amazing. So my final question that I ask all my guests is What does joyful courage mean to you? I'm so excited to hear your answer to this. Considering your work, no pressure,

Nataly Kogan 43:53
your courage. So to me personally, what joyful courage means is expressing your unique gift with confidence. You know, you're we're sitting here and you're looking at one of my paintings behind me one of the things I started to do after my burnout as I started to paint I have always wanted to paint my whole life. But I didn't give myself permission because what does that have to do with good being a successful businesswoman or taking care of my family? No, so many parents deny themselves self expression because how does this contribute to my family? I don't have the time. I don't deserve this. And in retrospect, all those Bs stories, they were just stories of denying myself joy. And I think it takes courage to say you know what, this brings me joy and I'm going to do it and I'm going to do it for me and then what you realise and this is what I've learned with all my painting, is when you do things that bring you joy, you are a being of joy for everyone around you. I cannot imagine myself without painting anymore and has nothing to do with the painting. I have embraced the artist part of myself, which means I am more authentic. I am more Real, I can stand here and tell you painting has made me a better mom. Not because of painting not because my daughter paints she doesn't. Not even because she likes my art, it doesn't matter. It's made me a better mom because you cannot truly thrive and show up for people the way you want to if you're hindering a part of your self. And so to me, that's what courageous Joy means is to really express your unique gifts, with courage with openness. And I realised this can be challenging. I have a whole practice in the Journal of telling a better Joy story, because I think that parents especially we are amazing at denying ourselves joy.

Casey O'Roarty 45:40
Yeah, on that note. Thank you so much. This was so great.

Nataly Kogan 45:47
Thank you for having me. I loved our conversation. Thank you.

Casey O'Roarty 45:55
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at B spreadable.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

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