How Do We Flourish When Things Feel Complicated? With Dr. Sophia Town

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ABOUT THE EPISODE

Dr. Sophia Town is on the show with me this week to talk about how we flourish in the face of complexity.

We dive into what it means to flourish, how to cultivate wisdom, the power of discernment, how to make the transition from knowing to being, and what to do about our society’s prioritization of the rational mind. 

We let one of Sophia’s recent studies guide us in conversation about what it takes to be an exceptional leader and the different ways we can process information to make wise decisions.

Sophia also explains what self-care actually looks like and blows my mind with her framework for figuring out our personal flair of self-care.

If you’re looking to come back to clarity, this conversation is filled with valuable gems.

ABOUT SOPHIA


Dr. Sophia Town is a professor and researcher of human flourishing. Formally, her field is organizational behavior, and her academic home is the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in NYC.

As a researcher, she explores how we can build more compassionate, connected, and wise organizations. As a professor, her work involves transformative learning theory—which urges students beyond “knowing” to “becoming.” In her personal life, she’s a martial artist, a sushi fan, and living out her NYC “Carrie Bradshaw” dream. 😉

Fun fact: I met Sophia in grad school, and while I’m glad I left academia, I’m so grateful our friendship has lasted so we can continue to geek out on all things flourishing and the blending of Eastern and Western philosophy.

You can find the link to Sophia’s self-care framework here: https://drsophiatown.com/what-is-self-care-really/

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Hello, hello, and welcome back to Make It Mentionable. I am so excited about today’s guest, you know, in in the crazy complexity of the world over the past few years. One of my friends, Dr. Sophia Town studies, how we flourish in complex times. And so I knew she was the perfect person to bring on and talk about how we can flourish, how we can bring more wisdom into our lives, more discernment, how you make powerful decisions, and how we can better take care of ourselves in crazy times. So Sophia, thank you so so, so much for being here.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:30
Thank you so much for having me. I was so excited when you reached out and asked me to join you. I just, I love you. And I love what you’re doing. And I love talking about these really important topics. So I’m thrilled.

Alyssa Patmos 1:41
Yes, I love I always love when I can bring people on who who embody their work. I think it’s so so important that the things that we teach, we end up embodying, because and I think that’s going to come out in our conversation today, if I had to guess, but you are one of the people who you embody your work like you, I think you got into your research area from things in your personal life that you loved exploring. And that just shines through. And so I love it. So rather than me rambling on vaguely about who you are, and what you do, can you tell people listening or watching a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Sophia Town 2:18
Yes, yes. So professionally, I’m a professor at Fordham University, and assistant professor here in New York City, which I love, I love everything about it. I love the job, I love New York. My field is organizational behavior. And which is basically if you don’t know much about that field, it’s very much like social psychology and communication in the context of business. So I teach our undergraduate and MBA and Executive MBA students about topics related to human flourishing at work. So things like emotional awareness, emotional intelligence, communication, mindful leadership, empathic leadership, discernment, and then predominantly, what I’m most passionate about is wisdom. How can we make wise choices and enact powerful positive change by cultivating personal wisdom and social wisdom. So that that’s kind of what I’m really, you know, very, very interested in, I also lead a research team called the human flourishing project, which is an interdisciplinary team. So there are a lot of Industrial Organizational psychologists, organizational behavior theorists like myself, we have evolutionary and cultural biologists who are working also on this on this project. So we’re really trying to get at human flourishing by bringing all of the scientific and social scientific disciplines to the table, because and I won’t go too much down this rabbit hole, but because I do feel like wisdom is cultivated by bringing diverse perspectives to the fore. So yeah, so that’s a little bit about me. And I yeah, let’s get started. I’m excited.

Alyssa Patmos 4:00
Perfect. I know that you’re a part of the human flourishing project, because when I was I’ve been researching flourishing on my own for the better part of the past year. And I’ve like read, I’ve read about the human flourishing project, but I had no idea that you were actually part part of that. And like, I feel like I’ve read materials by that team, and I had no idea.

Dr. Sophia Town 4:23
Okay, so you’re yes and no. So to be fair, you’re probably talking about the Human Flourishing Project at Harvard, which is kind of one of our, our partner research institutions. So we have our own Human Flourishing Project at Fordham. But it’s funny you mentioned that because I actually, I won’t name names here just because we’re, you know, on a podcast but I have a meeting with one of the folks from Harvard’s human flourishing project next week. So we’re going to talk about teaming up and yeah, and joining forces. But

Alyssa Patmos 4:52
yeah, it’s so powerful because like I said, I feel like people got extra interested in flourishing after the languishing. There was a popular article that came out in the middle of the pandemic on languishing. And I feel like it was something that so many people were were experiencing. So let’s give listeners some definitions. Because these are big words, like we’re talking wisdom and flourishing. And those are big concepts. It’s something that we all I feel like have this innate, wanting, or longing to tap into, but we don’t always know how to get there, we don’t always know what it means. So to you, and in your research, and how you approach your life, what is what does flourishing mean to you?

Dr. Sophia Town 5:36
Hmm, flourishing to me is developing the ability to move powerfully through life, with clarity, with calm, with quiet confidence, and the ability to see beyond what is right in front of us, to take the long view, and align our actions and our values with, with well to me personally, with creating a more flourishing world, so that my actions and my values connect to the social good. I feel like humans, by nature, are compassionate beings. So we have evolutionarily a drive to connect and bond and be social. And in fact, that’s why humans, one of the reasons why, humans have made it this far, you know, evolutionarily is our, our, our social nature, and so flourishing is when, to me is when you personally are able to connect with a larger social good, and there’s that alignment. It’s also the ability to give yourself grace and stumble your way through life. And, and recognize that, that failures and fumbles are actually beautiful, beautifully part of the the larger experience. So flourishing isn’t always doing things perfectly, or even doing things well. It’s more of the spirit and energy that we come to life with. And even being grateful for some of the things that don’t go well. And actually feeling that gratitude because that that actually, when things don’t go well, that’s when we cultivate wisdom and become our wisest, most compassionate selves. So it will – flourishing will look different for everybody. My flourishing is not going to be necessarily yours. Well you and I have a lot in common, it might be. But it might not be someone else’s. So it’s more of a spirit and an energy than it is like a particular path. If you will.

Alyssa Patmos 7:35
Yeah, I love that. And I think it’s, I think it’s important to bring attention to the definitions at the start so that you know, we can, we have that common lexicon, that’s one of the things that I love about the power of communication is once we once we can bring something out into the air, that’s why the show is called Make it Mentionable, then then there’s a way to manage it. We have this like, common understanding of it, and then we can we can move forward from there. So, so the other piece – [crosstalk]

Dr. Sophia Town 8:02
Can I just jump in and mention one thing? Speaking of mentionable. So I think this is really, really important. In today’s society, and in Western society in particular, I think we are very obsessed with this idea of happiness and pleasure and feeling good. And flourishing actually is, I think, more of a calmness. It’s a contentedness. And so that’s why when you see like people of older age, right, been through a lot in life, I feel like you go two ways, sometimes they become more cranky, but sometimes they’re just more calm, you know, you can feel when someone truly has a sense of peace. So it can be subtle. But to me, that’s also flourishing.

Alyssa Patmos 8:42
That’s so important, because because so many people are chasing happiness. And happiness is something that is fleeting. And so for me a huge piece of flourishing has also been emotional resilience, and the ability to bounce back from the tough times. And not and not needing to live at either extreme, not having to like wallow in the depths of the lows, but not having to be in the, in the extremes of the highs all the time either. And being able to move fluidly between them, because there’s so much beauty in pain, when we can start to look at it as a gift. And so I think that brings us to one of the second themes, which is wisdom and you keep saying cultivating wisdom. And I love that because it’s something that it’s something that it has to be intentional. I think a lot of times people just think of it in terms of like ancient wisdom, and they don’t really know how to apply that to their life. So for you What is wisdom?

Dr. Sophia Town 9:49
So I do draw on my Buddhist sensibilities to answer this question. I think wisdom is understood ending in a moment, particularly when the stakes are high, or emotions are high, it’s understanding how best how most skillfully to respond to life in the unfolding of it as it’s happening. And this is not something people are born with, this is something that is I use the word cultivation or develop right Foster. So, wisdom is well actually to answer this question faithfully, let’s step back a second in Western society that we were educated oftentimes, right? We learn a lot about conceptual knowledge, we learn, you know, frameworks and theories and mathematical logic, and we learn, you know, concepts, right? How are these these different fields, you know, relate to one another, right? And in our classes, our students learn about concepts, and then they take exams, and they answer questions, and they make multiple choice questions as they questions. Or they write papers on, you know, theories that they’ve learned. That is just one piece of wisdom and awareness of how the world works. That’s conceptual knowledge. In order to cultivate wisdom, we need to do a couple of things, we need to move from conceptual knowledge, knowing about how the world works, to go from knowing to doing so being able to enact that knowledge and put it into practice. So we move from knowing about to skills doing is the skills piece, knowing to doing but then wisdom actually takes one further step. So we need to move from doing integrating skills, you know, practicing communicating effectively, right? To being, knowing, doing, being and that being peace, that is where wisdom lives, that’s where wisdom resides, to move from knowing to doing is actually quite easy. You take a theoretical framework, you move, you start applying it, you practice it in class, you might do a case study or read a case in the business school, and then you apply the knowledge and that that’s doing to move from doing to being is actually a much larger leap. And that takes ongoing practice. It takes a lot of self reflection integration, we have to use. I mentioned double loop learning, double loop learning is where we actually question our assumptions. So we question the sort of foundation that we come to a certain course or certain we read a new book, and we learn something new, double loop learning is questioning what assumptions am I bringing to the table, as I’m integrating this knowledge with deep, deep self reflection. And then this is the part that oftentimes our young people, my students don’t really like, We need time. So by when we do when we practice the skills of something over and over and over, we can move from a state to a trait, basically, we can move from practice, to integration and embodiment and enactment. And I was so flattered when you said that I embodied my, you know, my research, I’m so flattered, I take that, like, you know, that means very touching to me, it means so much. And I can tell you that I’ve been trying to be, you know, trying to embody Mike these concepts for a decade, you know, and it’s and I fumble all the time, but but it takes a really long time to kind of show up to life in that way. So, we’ll talk more about these different things you can do but yeah, wisdom, you want to capture it, moving from knowing to doing to being and being able to respond skillfully to life as it unfolds.

Alyssa Patmos 13:29
I love that because there’s, there’s so much prioritization of the knowing. And so so often people come to me and they’re saturated sponges, like they have soaked up all of this information, so much so that they’ve taken in everyone else’s opinion. And I was like this for a long time, I took in everyone else’s opinion, I gave away my authority, I asked everyone else for input instead of trusting my own inner knowing. And I became such like so much of a saturated sponge that I couldn’t even do my job, you know, like a sponge that’s so full of water, like there’s no way in hell it’s gonna clean a dish. And and so many people need to be wrung out of of that and get back to their to their center. And we chase I think so many times people chase the knowing to doing piece, and then it stops. And that’s where so much pressure comes in, and where it just feels so achievement based and like, I have to be like my worth is in the things that I do. And –

Dr. Sophia Town 14:36
I know, it’s so hard to not feel that way. We all do.

Alyssa Patmos 14:39
Yes, yes. That has been like a core theme of my life. Over the past year and a half is not piling all of my work into just the things that like I feel like I know how to do or I’m good at doing and and integrating certain components certain things that I’ve learned into this being stage and understanding What that even meant, like, for me, it was a month long journey to even understand the concept of being and months of focus. It’s been years obviously before that of integrating pieces, but the integration is, is critical. And and I think so many of us live fragmented, because we’re not totally taught out of focus on the integration piece. Or, or to prioritize this sometimes painful length of time that it can take.

Dr. Sophia Town 15:35
Yes, yes. Be okay with it, to be okay with that.

Alyssa Patmos 15:38
Yes. And patience, like, and that’s where I get so annoyed with positive psychology at times. Because it comes into that chasing happiness. When really like some of it we need, we need time. And and that’s like, I like we get on the show here. Like Megan mentioned, well, sometimes you’re going to need time. Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Sophia Town 15:58
Exactly. Exactly. And paradoxically, the best thing that you can do is, let me give you an example. So say, you can take any concept emotional intelligence. Okay. So I’m teaching I told you, I’m teaching an executive MBA class in January, her students here at Fordham, and one of the concepts is emotional intelligence. So the knowing piece, here are the five components of emotional intelligence, according to like Daniel Goleman, right? Who’s the, you know, kind of grandfather or father of emotional intelligence, but knowing doing okay, we’ll practice it right? And practice it in class. But then you go out, you go into work, right? You go to your job, and your boss yells at you, or your coworker says something snarky, or you’re totally overburdened by work and you’re low on time. And it’s really challenging for people to actually take the skills they learned in class, let alone the framework, the concepts right and, and apply them or integrate them or embody them. In the moment when they’re emotional, right. And they’re stressed. It’s that’s so challenging. But paradoxically, the best thing that you can do, for your emotion to practice to embody, I’m sorry, emotional intelligence, in moments like that, is to literally when you see yourself being I don’t know if you cast on this show, so I won’t but yourself being bitchy, right, right. You could see yourself go, oh, wow, that was a big thing to do. To stop and say, Oh, well, you know what? Okay, I was kind of bitchy today and move on. You know, and that’s it. It’s okay. Like, yeah, part of emotional intelligence is being is observing yourself being not emotionally intelligent, and just giving yourself the grace to be hangry, or cranky or whatever. And that’s where people get really tripped up. It’s they chase happiness, they chase perfection. No, I have to be on all the time. One of the things I do to my for my students is, I constantly just kind of took as I’m trying to be a role model. I don’t know if it always works, but I constantly will just call myself out. When I do something that’s not that’s less than cool. You know, maybe I say something that like, wasn’t the most skillful, you know, like, off Foot Mouth moment, or, you know, or I drop an F bomb in class, you know, usually it’s before I’ve had my coffee, then I’ll pause and I’ll say, hey, you know, I just did this thing, like, 30 seconds ago, that wasn’t very cool. If I offended anybody, I’m sorry. And move on. And I think just having that playful nature and being able to say, look, I teach this stuff, but friggin human, and we all are, it’s okay. Like, let’s make this beautiful and complicated, you know. So that’s really important, too.

Alyssa Patmos 18:25
Yeah, communication is freaking messy. Like, I run a group where I help people with communication in relationships, and it translates to relationships across the board. But like, our intimate partners are so often like these huge mirrors for our life and the things that we’re learning. And so I have to do the same thing, like I’m teaching around, how do you handle complex with family members or with partners, and nothing like Jeff, and I get into something and I’m like, Oh, God, I did not do that. Well, did not do that. But like, it happened yesterday. And and then and then I show up to my group, and I’m like, Okay, I’m going to tell you what happened. Because like, the reality is, it’s messy, and we can’t expect to get it right all the time. And that’s, that’s the piece of practice. And when we do it, and can witness it, like, I love that you talked about witnessing, because I’m constantly talking about being able to observe our life. It is such a superpower, when we can step back and observe what we’re doing. And so but when we can do that, like it gets, we can take ourselves less seriously. Yeah, and yes. And breathe and breathe again.

Dr. Sophia Town 19:31
Yeah, seriously, you know, have you I don’t know if you’ve ever watched like an interview with the Dalai Lama. I just love his his energy. He’s so playful. He’s like, you know, everything. Life’s life’s not a game in the sense of like, strategic but we’re all here playing a game, right? We’re all here. Just participating in you know, this socially constructed and and biological life that we’re participating in. And it’s like, we just don’t need to take ourselves too seriously and give ourselves and each other a lot of grace. That’s wisdom. You know, that’s what’s so simple, it’s hard to do.

Alyssa Patmos 20:03
So hard to do. So we keep mentioning grace and grace has been another word for me the past few years and and having left religion. Like I don’t know, over a decade ago, grace is an interesting word. For me, it was an interesting word for me to come back to because it has so many religious connotations, as if it’s something that like, only by the grace of God, or like, it’s something that like this other force has to give you, I feel like is how, at least for me, it was baked into my psyche. And so coming back to the Word, and, like, the word grace itself, was difficult to for me and and to embody it as something that I can give myself. And so what does it mean, to be gracious with ourselves?

Dr. Sophia Town 20:53
This? I’m so glad you brought this up. I, because one of my mentors at Fordham, Professor John Hollwitz, he’s, he’s in my department, and he’s been doing this a long time, the professor thing, as I turned him off for advice, and he mentioned this the other day, the other day to me too, he said, you know, he asked me what I meant by grace, because I had it in my syllabus. And I usually include my teaching methodology. In my syllabus, I think people these days like to know the why behind things, especially when we do kind of quirky, counterintuitive teaching methods, you know, so anyway, I had grace on my syllabus, and, and he said, do you mean, the religious connotation of grace? And I thought, well, actually being at a Jesuit school, that’s a very good question. I have a very secular colloquial kind of definition of grace or, or, or spirit to grace, when I say grace, and maybe I should actually not use this word because it is so so grounded in religious philosophies. But when I say grace, I mean giving ourselves compassion and flexibility and freedom, to, to be and to, to stumble, really, we’re so hard on ourselves. And the idea of self compassion is so powerful, I think it’s been some of these topics are kind of the become tired metaphors a little bit. We talk, we use the same language so often that sometimes we need like a reawakening or a kind of a reimagining of, of using different words for, you know, to get the same concept to so to me, it’s more compassion based.

Alyssa Patmos 22:19
Yeah, kind of, I actually love the word grace, like, like, my two cents that don’t matter for your syllabus. But I love the word grace in there, especially from like, since you’re teaching business students and MBAs like it’s not a word that’s used in that area. So like pattern, interrupts are one of my most favorite things to do. Yeah. And in a group with people, I’m like, Yes, I want to interrupt your pattern, because otherwise, we’re just thinking in this box of how you’ve been programmed to think. And that’s limiting us. Yes. So, so Okay, so I think that’s good to have that definition in here too. And, and some things that you brought up, like, I love your soul, because you have such a mix of eastern and western philosophies and curiosity about both, and I’m very much the same way. And I think it’s so so so important that we talk about that, because in the Western world, and in the business world, there is such a prioritization of the rational mind. And so when I talk about doing versus being, and, and or knowing versus doing versus being, I think that’s part of the reason why people get stuck. And it’s this like, over reliance on logic in a way that it’s like, completely prioritized over other ways of knowing. Yeah. And so what’s been your experience with that, like you teach you teach Executive MBA students, you’re in the world of leadership all the time, so. So how are you addressing this over this ridiculous prioritization of logic?

Dr. Sophia Town 24:01
Yes, good. Thank you. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. The historical prioritization of rationality is actually relatively arbitrary. I mean, it emerged with the different sort of trends in the scientific arenas over the last 100 years, right. And so we’ve been moving towards this prioritization of rationality, and of course, in various fields, but of course, it’s also been integrated in the business realm. I don’t know if if you know much about kind of the history of business schools, but they’re very skills based at first, like, here’s how you go be a manager. Okay. So there wasn’t a lot of this more deep self reflection or philosophy, you know, Boredoms, a liberal arts school, so that there’s more out there, but this rule was very skills based already and then the scientific, you know, community prioritizes rationality. A result of that prioritization is that we actually not It’s not only Are we not teaching emotion based reasoning, it’s that we actually downgrade it right. And so we think of emotions as being these obstacles that we need to overcome these hurdles to jump over, they get in the way, right, a pure rationality, when actually, that is not the case. That’s why I do love merging western and eastern insights. emotional processing and emotional decision making is, I would say, almost more important if used wisely than rational processing, because and if used wisely, that’s critical, not saying making decisions in the heat of the moment, when we’re stressed out, that’s not going to be very good for anyone involved, but drawing on our emotions and tuning into them in order to understand not only the problem we’re dealing with, but the lens that we’re bringing to the problem we’re dealing with, is so wise. And so I’ll talk a little bit about if you don’t mind, my my recent leadership research that looked at these, okay, so I interviewed part of one of my research streams, I interview leaders of companies, so mostly executive and C suite folks, in companies from various fields, because I want to understand how the folks at the top are coming to their leadership position and how they’re then shaping their organization. Because between you and me, because I want to know how we can create the conditions for flourishing in organizations and leaders are often the ones authoring those organizations and shaping those conditions. So that’s just some backstory. So my research I look at, I look at these leaders are interviewed as leaders. My recent study that I did, I interviewed at leaders in New York City and Arizona, Seattle, California, all over the place, half of this group are what you would consider to be just objectively good leaders, they’re charismatic, they’re intelligent, they’re well connected, they’re educated, they’re experts in their field of social skills, and their companies are objectively flourishing, to use the word right, successful, profitable. And anywhere from like a small business, you know, successful small business up to a fortune 50 company was the the leader that I interviewed at that, you know, largest company, 50,000 employees. So half that group is that the other half of my leaders, the other 40 have the same qualities as the first group because they one thing different. And that one thing different is that these, these folks have a personal long time, regular mindfulness practice. So these are my meditating leaders. They meditate daily, basically, for the most part, sometimes their organization knows about this, because they’ve implemented, you know, mindfulness initiatives. Oftentimes, the organization doesn’t the personal private practice. So I was really interested because of the way that mindfulness connects up with dual non dualistic thinking, right, paradoxical thinking, I wanted to know if the two groups handled complexity, similarly, or if there’s anything different. And what I found was really illuminating. So I found that the mindfulness group, the group did practice, they engaged in a lot more varied processing, when it came to how they managed complexity. So if they were faced with some sort of dilemma at work, okay, they felt like they needed to do this thing. But they also needed to do this. Both of these things they had to do were equally important for the health of the company, but they can contradicted each other, they cancel each other out. It’s like, an easy example is I have easy, easy example. I have to hire this or retain this employee because the right best salesperson, but they’re also engaging in unethical behavior, so I have to fire them. But how do I do both can’t keep environments in time. Sometimes it’s like big macro stuff, like, you know, organizational structure dilemmas. So what I found was, I’ll start with the the first group, most people good leaders, they engage in two types of processing, rational processing, strategizing, planning, writing out pros and cons lists, you know, to be simple about it, professional processing and verbal processing. They talk things through with their advisors with their board with in meetings with their subordinates case, a rational verbal, and they tend to tap between these two processing types. The second group, the mindful group, they tact between five different types of processing, rational, verbal, emotional, so they would tune into when something happened, how do I feel about this? What is my emotional state right now? What is my gut telling me, okay, that was very prominent. They also engaged in physical processing. So they’d be when they were faced with their dilemma, they think, Oh, my hands are sweaty, my throat is tight. I don’t think I’m breathing very deeply. My heart’s pounding. So what does that telling me about the situation? And then they also engage in what I’m calling for now suspended processing, and that’s basically when they said, You know what, I’m not gonna process right now. This dilemma is in front of me, I’m going to step away from it. I’m going to stop make I’m going to basically withdraw from any decision making or problem solving and take a little adult timeout. And what I found was that the folks that tact between those five different types of processing, which I would say cultivates wisdom, they actually had over two times larger repertoire, when it came to their responses, how they act and the actions they took toward their organizational complexity and dilemmas. Mostly, they had more than two times the variety of types of things that they could do that they saw as perceivable, or possible compared to the other group. So through this engaging of the senses, processing with these different senses, it actually makes you more creative, and ability to see a more expanded possibility for action or possibilities for action. That is just rad, I think, and so just powerful. But that is wisdom.

Alyssa Patmos 30:48
The – I love what you just said about seeing more possibilities for action, that’s something that comes up for me as well, because in any situation where you’re trying to resolve something, whether it be a problem in the business, or you’re trying to resolve conflict with your partner, if you go to the place where you shut down all possibility, there’s only one path, and it’s the path that is most obvious to you, based on whatever you have coming up from the past that is influencing this situation, whether you’re aware of it or not. And that shuts down the possibility for collaboration, it shuts down the possibility for seeing things in new ways for having some like head of inspiration to come to you and being able to grab onto it and then use it. And so anything like this, that allows us to expand our possibility more in an interaction is just like, there’s so much power in it for us to, for us to flourish for us to get to the potential that like we know we’re capable of somewhere in in here. So, so I love that. So you found that there, those leaders were able to better bounce between these five types of processing, right? Yes, yeah. And so that’s something that’s taught to us. Traditionally speaking, we’re not taught, like, We’re barely taught how to communicate in school, like, we were in grad school together. And that’s where we learn these things. Like we’re not taught, we’re not taught how to communicate, we don’t have a class on communication when we’re in seventh grade and need it most. And we’re not taught about emotions, we’re not taught about how to recognize the signs in our bodies. There was another episode that I recently did, and we were talking about our bodies as communicators, and, and how our emotions, our communication, but we’re not taught how to read it. And so I love that you’re bringing more of this to light in the sector where it’s not usually discussed. So, so you talked about these other 40 leaders having more of a daily mindfulness practice. My My question was, was, did you look at in this research at all, like, I know that the goal is to interview the leader. So I’m curious, was there any point of asking like, do these leaders know if their people are flourishing? And there’s a question of like, if the organization is which from a business lens? Profit is the most important thing, but at the same time theirs? Are your people flourishing. And was there any difference there?

Dr. Sophia Town 33:36
I didn’t look at their, their people. No, that would be that is a really, really good kind of pathway for future research and more interviews. Oh, darn more, more data. Oh, darn. Your stuff. But no, that’s a really, really good point. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I think that that I think that would be really beautiful to study is what are your people, you know, kind of spend like 360 interviews, right? How do you how do you how do your people feel at work? Do you feel like your dignity is recognized? Do you feel like you have pathways for flourishing and growth? You know, do you feel like your leader really sees you? Because my now to be completely frank with you. I wanted to make the soft skill of mindful discernment and mindful decision making palatable to the Western business audience. And so my context for this research was, how do leaders handle organizational dilemmas and paradoxes? Like very harsh, very literally very business, you know, which is which is very, you know, the there’s utility there, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s good to know how we can make decisions in a way that helps the organization flourish from a profit standpoint, or structural standpoint. But that’s not really the end game for me. You know, it is about the people. So yeah, okay, you just gave me research idea, Alyssa. Thank you.

Alyssa Patmos 35:02
I love that because you at the beginning said that, you know, the people at the top are the ones that can shape the culture and the conditions for flourishing. And so and so we think about, like, the word flourishing is used to to indicate the success of businesses in many ways. I know that’s not how you view it, but at the same time, like a huge piece of that, for me would be, how do your people feel at work? Yes, that’s a signifier of the health of the business in many ways, too. And so I love that. And –

Dr. Sophia Town 35:35
We often use the business case for that, right? We say, Oh, well, you know, if employee morale is down, then you know, turnover is up and to turnover cost 2.5 times the employee’s annual salary, it’s very expensive, make the business case for employee well being. And that’s again, fine, because we’re trying to reach the western audience and speak in a language that makes sense to them, which is, you know, us, I guess, money, money, money. But the good thing is the happy side effect is if, regardless of whether or not we’re making the business case, if the employees are flourishing, they’re flourishing, you know, so it’s better for everybody. Yeah.

Alyssa Patmos 36:08
Yeah, it’s like, and that I think that comes to a philosophical difference at some point around if work has to suck or not. And I don’t believe that work has to suck. And I always admire the leaders that do focus on like this state and well being of their employees to just just for the sake of the fact that like, we’re human. That’s a great start. I am so so, so one of your superpowers, and I think like the people who study communication, something that comes out of us, like when we can geek out on these things, it is this translation piece, and being able to take concepts that are like some foreign to some people and like, put them into a lens, that makes sense. And I have to do this a lot like with explaining with couples, like certain things about women’s intuition, or like the more woo side of intuition, and like, what is the Practical Magic of this? And that’s how I love to describe the most practical magic, like, what –

Dr. Sophia Town 37:16
Do you remember that movie, did you ever see that movie with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman?

Alyssa Patmos 37:19
Yes!

Dr. Sophia Town 37:19
Such a good movie.

Alyssa Patmos 37:20
It is, it’s great! And so, and so there, there are concepts that we can find, you know, like you draw from Buddhism a lot. And so there are concepts that we can find that that are so salient, and so relevant. And maybe you have a good example of one that when translated, makes so much sense over here in the logical mind. But it’s like there’s this barrier, that that we have to get through. And so I don’t always think it needs to, you know, I don’t think people need to necessarily always go take a course, in eastern philosophy, though, that that would be great. But it sometimes it’s just like, Wait, what is the lens I can put on it, where it makes sense over here in this mind, and I think that can be a stepping stone for people to get to the being and integrate some of these practices.

Dr. Sophia Town 38:11
Yes, yes, yes. Yes, absolutely. And you know, what I have found to be incredibly powerful for translating more abstract ideas or complex concepts to kind of like lay terms or, you know, terms that everybody can get behind and recognize and say, you know, what that connects for me? metaphor, the power of metaphor, metaphor is beautiful for this, and I can do you mind, if I share one with you that I please do? Okay, so I use this in almost all of my workshops. So we tend, and I didn’t make this up. So I’m not taking credit for it, but I just I love it. And so I’ll share it with you because it’s near and dear to me. So in life, okay. We tend to think of life, like a game of chess. And I students feel this way, right? We plan ahead. We figured we realized, we think that if we strategize well enough, if we plan far enough, if we can outsmart life and see what the next moves gonna be, and we can, you know, we can develop our chest skill, right? That, for example, going to college, getting an education, doing, you know, getting an internship, making connections, finding a mentor, these are the things my students do to set themselves up for success. So they’re kind of they’re looking at their chessboard, and they’re saying, Okay, if I can anticipate what life’s gonna throw at me, I can plan right. And the problem with that is that life is not a game of chess. It’s not. Life is so much more like a game of Tetris. So if you remember I had a Gameboy so I’m, you know, we’re in our 30s mid game boys. Back in the day. It’s like Tetris on my Gameboy. So if you haven’t played Tetris, look it up. I think most people know it is but basically, you know, with the video game, right, and you don’t know which piece you’re going to get until it comes down on, you know, falls from the ceiling into your little screen. And the idea of the game then is to make sure that You fit that piece with all the other little pieces that have fallen down. And they’re all different, right? One’s a little square, one’s a little, little L shaped thing. One’s a little, you know, like V shaped thing, and you got to make them fit. And the worst thing you can possibly do if you come to game of Tetris, like a game of chess, the worst thing you can do is when you get the wrong little piece wrong, right? The one you didn’t want is to resist it and say, no, no, no, no, no, no, dammit, I wanted the little square. But I thought the elephant shaped thing. What am I going to do? Now I didn’t plan for this. I didn’t strategize for this. And if you waste time, resisting, you know, resisting it, fighting it, arguing it, you know, huffing and puffing, bitching to your friend about it, right? Crying, whatever, you’re going to lose the game because the little things gonna come down and you’re, you know, so the most skillful thing you can do is say, oh, shoot, you know, I didn’t really want that little squares shape. I wanted the L but you know what it is what it is? That’s what I got. How can I best use this? We all experienced this when COVID happened, right? No one expected a global pandemic, we could just sit around saying, Well, no, this is this can’t be even though I think all of us did that for a little while. But you have to learn to deal, right. And so that metaphor of the game as being Tetris, not chess, that’s really reflective of the Buddhist concept of acceptance, right? Not resignation, but acceptance. And so But acceptance is kind of like a big weighty concept. So I use metaphors like that in class to say, you know, can you connect with that? You know, and I think we all can.

Alyssa Patmos 41:32
Yeah, so much reality is, you know, are the stories that we tell ourselves and the stories that have been put on us. And so I think metaphor works really, really well, because it’s one of the most natural communication tools we’ve used, since we were cavemen painting on walls, like, those were the stories. And there’s something so powerful about story as a tool in general, for breaking past our like, analytical minds. And and I think the power of a story too, is that it does bring in our different senses. Like, when, when we hear the story, and you’re talking about if anyone has played Tetris, like the point when you just like have the whole block builds up, and you just need the straight line on the right hand side, and you’re like this, see, that’s gonna screw up the whole thing, right? Like, yeah, you can feel you can feel the pressure in your body, you know, what that feels like. And so, in, in a story, in general, from a great storyteller, there’s, there’s all of these other things you were talking about. There’s like the words, and there’s the rational mind, but then it brings out sensations in our body to hear that and I think there’s so much power in that, I love that you brought up metaphor, because when I was going through NLP training, I made it a point of, I started a note in my phone. And I have like five key notes for for writing that I use routinely, but one of them is metaphor. And so anytime, like I wanted to make it a conscious effort to get better at writing my own metaphors, too. And so anytime I had a story come up that would like function well, as metaphor. I make a note of it in my phone – [crosstalk]

Dr. Sophia Town 43:20
Oh, that’s wonderful. I think I’m gonna start doing that. I like that idea.

Alyssa Patmos 43:23
I think it’s really, it was really powerful for me. And like, I’m assuming you believe in the power of intention. And like throwing it out there when you want to get better at something. So So for me, it was like, Yeah, I know, I want to get better at this. And so I made the note, and I started seeing more metaphors all the time.

Dr. Sophia Town 43:42
Of course, yes, you are aware, you are attuned, your radar was up, right?

Alyssa Patmos 43:45
Yes. And so and so I started to get better and better and better at it. And it’s still something that I practiced. It’s like being a great storyteller, something I always want to improve on. And metaphors according to that for me, but it does [crosstalk]

Dr. Sophia Town 43:59
Make us feel good too?

Alyssa Patmos 44:00
Yes!

Dr. Sophia Town 44:01
Though, like, like, scientifically, like in our bodies? When we figure out that when we solve the problem, and we figure out the puzzle, it’s like, it’s like, you know, how you feel when you finally get the the punchline of a joke. You’re like waiting, waiting, then you get the punchline you’re like, Oh, you laugh, right? Metaphors are the same thing when you when we connect the dots. And we recognize the kind of deeper meaning behind it. We our brains actually kind of light up and the same. I’m not I’m not a natural scientist. So all the scientists out there who are hearing this, I’m sorry for the simplification, but our brains actually light up similarly to like, like, I think dopamine or you know, some metaphors make us feel good.

Alyssa Patmos 44:36
That is really interesting in I didn’t know that. So thank you for sharing that’s really interesting in relation to what we were talking about with the saturated sponges, like there is a difference in how we feel when we can connect the dots for ourselves through a story or for a metaphor versus just like reading something out of a textbook and and a absorbing the knowledge in that way where the dots are already laid out for you. It feels different even just talking about it. And so and so that’s one of the reasons why like even in my emails, I write fiction stories sometimes the power of fiction. Like I wish all business leaders read fiction books, because it taps into into story and like a different way of communicating than just here’s chapter one. Here’s all the logical information. Here are the five steps that you need to go implement and then go do this like fiction unlocks something in a way that I think most people ignore as frivolous.

Dr. Sophia Town 45:39
Oh, I’m so guilty of that. Can you? Can you give me a recommendation for what’s the next the next fiction book I need to read? Because I am. I’m exactly that what you just what you just described what not to do any more fiction in my life.

Alyssa Patmos 45:52
So my favorite author is Sophie Kinsella. She actually wrote the Shopaholic series, but I’ve never read those books. I’ve read every single one of her other books. There’s one called Can you keep a secret? That’s really good. She just came out with another one. I feel like it’s called like the party crasher. Maybe I just started like it last night. I mean, three pages in. I have this thing where I end up choosing British authors. Hands down every time. Yes, I go into a bookshelf. And I just like, wait for a book to call to me. And hands down. It is always a British author, like every single time. Live in Britain a past life. Maybe, maybe. It’s always so fun, because I’ve traveled to London. And so like, I recognize some of the spots there. But it feels outside my normal world. So it feels like a pattern interrupt. And they use some different language. And so I like it, like, can they use different words, and it’s fine. So I love her books. I highly recommend that.

Dr. Sophia Town 46:55
Awesome. Thank you. I think once we’re finished here, I’m going to hop on the large online retailer that we all shop from guiltily and um buy that book,

Alyssa Patmos 47:08
I want to know how it goes and how it’s so like, I I always told students when I was before, like finals would come around. I noticed in myself that if I read if I graded undergrad papers before I needed to go write a grad school paper, my writing was crappier.

Dr. Sophia Town 47:28
Oh, my goodness. Are you serious? Yes.

Alyssa Patmos 47:31
So I always told my students, when you need to write something, go read something in the tone of how you want to write.

Dr. Sophia Town 47:40
Oh, my gosh, that is beautiful. I’m learning so much from you today. Alyssa, this has been such a good experience. Thank you. That’s such a good idea!

Alyssa Patmos 47:47
So I find like, I find my favorite writer. And before I write one of my emails, I will go like read a quick passage of that, like the tone I want to adopt. And I find it works really well. If you have like a favorite researcher, and you’re like they write super well, like, yeah, it works.

Dr. Sophia Town 48:05
How has I not – how? I’ve never heard this advice before. I’ve never, I mean, maybe all the people in like, you know, MFA programs like, yeah, we’ve been doing that for years. I’ve never heard of this, I’m totally going to start this tomorrow, too. So thank you.

Alyssa Patmos 48:17
You’re welcome! So these things for me, make make my life easier. They make it easier to have to make less decisions, which is something I’m constantly up against. And I think it’s something that business leaders are constantly up against to like the amount of decisions that have to be made. And how do we do that. And you talked about how the leaders that had the noticeable difference had this mindfulness practice, or were able to go through these five types of processing. And so part of that is being able to attune to yourself, yes. And I find that we get so distracted and so cluttered in the world, that we don’t know how to do that. And so I know that you talk about self care in some of your work with leaders and students as well. And so I’m hoping you can enlighten us here because there are some seriously messed up definitions of self care in the world. So yeah, to continue this definition train, I need to know yours.

Dr. Sophia Town 49:22
Okay. Okay. So good. So so self care is is basically my very simple definition. It’s engaging in practices that restore your well being, though very broad vision and practices that restore your well being and with that is the expectation that well being was there, and then maybe something jostled you, and now we’re restoring, we’re coming back, we’re coming home, right remembering, or recalling our well being. So do you remember when I was talking about the five different types of processing that fifth one called suspended processing is basically stepping out stepping away from the problem. So if you’re faced with something complicated, messy, challenging, what The mindful group the mindful leader group would often do is to is take time and actually step away from the problem, this can be for five minutes could be for a day. The longest was one, my leader is actually one of my participants, she took a three month hiatus to just really engage in profound self care practices. So, so that’s that suspended processing, that there were two things that that people do that they can use that for, to effectively come back to a decision with more wisdom and clarity. One is align themselves to their core values. So remember, if I have to make an either or choice, I can always make the both and decision right? You can sometimes you have to make an either or choice. And which paradox scholars agree in, but we don’t really talk about too much. But when you have to which one aligns with my core values, that was one thing that they that you can do in that that pause, right. The other thing is self care, engaging in self care practices. After this study, I did another study with a group from Arizona State University where we went to grad school together, where we analyze people’s coping methods during COVID. So how were people coping with COVID. And what we found is a lot of people talked about self care. It was a buzzword, right self care, self care, self care. But upon a little bit deeper investigation, what I noticed was that people didn’t actually when I when when prodded and pushed to define self care or give us give me examples. They didn’t actually know what self care was. And I thought that was really interesting. And I don’t think that I would have noticed that, that that research finding if it weren’t in the context of COVID, because when COVID, prior to COVID, there’s all sorts of things people can do that they think of self care, but when you’re stuck at home during the early stage with the lockdowns and all that you have limited options. So when asked, well, what’s his self care, then people like, I don’t know, I have in my tiny apartment, you know, with my dog, I have no idea. And so what I did with it, by analyzing that data is I came up with a really simple but pretty powerful self care framework. So what I’d like you to think of and I’ll go through, I usually do this as a writing exercise, but I’ll go through it with you verbally, right now.

Okay, so there’s four types of activities that people engage in regularly, ever, almost every day, every week, right? And the first is activities that feel bad now, but feel good, later. Bad now good later. So for me, it’s like going to the gym, I don’t enjoy going to the gym. But afterwards, I’m like, Oh, that felt nice, right? Reading a financial planning book. I think that’s super dry and boring. And I procrastinate and put it off, but when after you’ve read a chapter, you’re like, Okay, good job, Sophia, you did something productive, right? So people spend a lot of time in that category thinking that it’s self care. But what that really is, is that self development, it’s important, we need it, but it’s not self care. So if you think you’re practicing self care, but you’re actually practicing self development, you’re gonna get burned out, because you’re not going to meaningfully get that restorative experience that self care can provide. Okay? The second category is activities that feel bad now and feel bad later. No one thinks this is self care, but it’s it’s like hashtag adulting right things we have to do. So for me, it’s like, it’s like doing your taxes if you’re not gonna get a refund. No fun. Now, no fun later. Yeah, it’s talking to a friend who like complains all the time. Right on the phone. It’s draining when you talk to him. It’s draining afterwards. Right. But we have to engage in some of those activities. The third category is activities that feel real good now, but not so good later, like having too many margaritas, you know, scrolling Instagram for an hour, right? It’s so sorry, that the prior category, I didn’t give you the definition for the name for it that feel bad now feel bad later that self sacrifice, we got to do it. Yeah. So self development. Second one is self sacrifice, sacrificing our well being in order to do what needs to be done right. adulting the third category feels good now not so good. Later, too much wine. Too much cake. Yeah, whatever. That is self indulgence. And it’s totally a valid category. It’s a valid, you know, sometimes you want that second pizza, chocolate cake or girl go for it, you know, but it’s not self care. And so people spend a lot of time between the first and third category. Self Care is activities that feel good now and feel good. Later, when you’re done. And it’s what I found in this data, my data was that people did not spend a lot of time here. So because I, we had to kind of really think critically about what what you know, what is that for you? It’s different for everyone. For some people, the gym is that for some people, it’s playing with their dog, taking a bubble bath, going on a walk, talking to the restaurant, you know it these are activities that feel peaceful when you’re doing it and they enliven you when you’re finished, you know, you feel charged right? And so I was encouraged people to kind of spend some time jotting down what are the different I actually like to do this and set a timer for one minute. Go through each category and see how many activities You can come up with what you do regularly. And then here’s some self awareness, notice which box was easiest to fill. And that’ll give you some indication of where you’re spending your time. The self care one is usually the thinnest. And so give some thought to how can I amplify and expand that category for myself, maybe you have limited time. So you go on a walk with your kids, or with your husband, you have a buddy, you you take your dog to the park, and you take your kids to the park at the same time. And so you’re playing with your dog or your you know, you have to find ways to like, make it work for you in your schedule. Or you just say, okay, for two days a week, for 30 minutes, I’m going to have pure Self Care time, an hour a week, it’s not a lot, 30 minutes twice a week, bubble that time, you know, start there make it simple. Yeah.

Alyssa Patmos 55:50
And so the point and so why do people need to engage in self care in the first place?

Dr. Sophia Town 55:58
Well, aside from the fact that it feels good, and that’s reason enough. Because we make better decisions. When we have clarity of mind, that comes back to the wisdom we are wiser when we are at peace. And so to give you an example, if you don’t you’ve ever like been running around your house looking for your keys or your phone, you’re like, Ah, crap, I’m running late, I’m running late, you’re anxious, and you can’t see it, and you realize it’s in your back pocket. The reason you can’t see it is because you’re anxious anxiety narrows our scope of focus. And it allows it actually hinders our creative creativity. Because we are in fight or flight, fight or flight or freeze. And so we’re not thinking expansively. By practicing self care, we reduce our anxiety, we expand our creativity, and we’re able to see the world in a more kind of encompassing way. And so there’s utility to it. Aside from the fact that it just feels good. And honestly, sometimes in life, you just have to do stuff that feels good.

Alyssa Patmos 56:53
Yes, so did you come up with? Did you come up with these categories? Did you come up with and label them like that one self development, that one self sacrifice, that one self indulgence? And then self care?

Dr. Sophia Town 57:07
Yes. Yes. Was from my data. Yes, exactly. And in fact, if you want read a little bit more about this, I just wrote, I’m not a big blogger, not I’m too busy doing research things. But I, this self care, people have wanted to use it in their classes. And so I wrote a super tiny little article on it. And with the framework, the outline and an activity that you can do, and it’s on my website, DrSophiaTown.com. So if you go –

Alyssa Patmos 57:30
Perfect, we will link it because I think it’s great. Also, like, I like frameworks, because it makes it easy to like, when you’re trying to move to the beam stage, I think it makes it easy to have something to default to, to just like have this snappy remembrance there. And so I think these categories are brilliant. And sometimes you don’t always get validation on your research. But I think like this, I think these are brilliant. I think that’s so likeable, and relevant and important, and I love the I love the delineation of drawing attention to what our behaviors are, and and bringing an awareness to how we’re actually spending our time, because it’s usually different than how we think it is. Yeah, yes. Yeah. So the difference between like self indulgence, and then the self development category, like I spent a lot of time there.

Dr. Sophia Town 58:21
I would have guessed, that’s your most, I would have guessed that your biggest and which is great, which is great. We just, you just don’t want to construe it for self care, because then you’re gonna feel burnt out like you’re on a hamster wheel, you know? But I would imagine that’s your number one.

Alyssa Patmos 58:34
Yes, and I write about the feelings of being on a hamster wheel all the time, like, so many people come to me feeling like they’ve been on a hamster wheel for years, because they get focused on trying to fix themselves, instead of accepting themselves.

Dr. Sophia Town 58:47
And accepting themselves would fix themselves, accepting ourselves fixes ourselves, you know, I mean, it’s Yes, life is such a paradox. But it –

Alyssa Patmos 58:53
It is, it is. It is painful at times, but it’s great. So the last, the last distinction here, then that I think I want to make is because, you know, I have been guilty of saying that self care isn’t a bubble bath, because I, I, but I can’t remember what my definition of self care was when I said that. And I think I think a piece of it for me was when people use self care, sort of like unconsciously isn’t giving the same restorative benefits. So like, if we’re, if we, if we know taking a bath feels good, then okay, that makes sense. That makes sense to me. If you’re a person who have who has always loved baths, and you know what it’s like, Okay, I’m going to get in the bath and then afterwards like I’m going to feel freaking great. Then that that like registers in my head, I get it. I am not a person who likes that. And so when people always say that self care is like, it’s like a ladder like going get your nails done or something like that. Take it back it is, it has to be a very conscious thing where I’m like, Okay, I’m going to like candles, put on meditation music, and I’m going to force myself to like be held in water.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:00:13
I’m gonna force myself to enjoy this. No, no, thank you for bringing this up. That’s so that’s actually one of the things I have found most useful with this framework, and that my, like, workshop participants and students have found useful is that everyone’s categories are different. So no, please do not fall into the trap of okay, this is the trendy self care thing to do. So, you know, definitely not, I want I actually encourage you after this call, if you’d like to do to do to set a timer and go through the categories, and see that you basically just have to answer this question for yourself. What in my life do I do? Or could I do, right? Because if I’m not right now, that feels good now, and feels good later, that feels good while I’m doing it and feels good after it will be different for everybody. Right? And, and someone’s, like I said, someone’s self development, like going to the gym might be that for you, right? Where for me, it’s not. So it’s really important to understand, it’s so personal, it’s important understanding what is for you, if you are not, if you don’t actually honor your own self care, then you’re not going to get the benefits. And if you’re, if you’re not really present for it, you’re not gonna get the benefits. I love bubble baths for me, like sometimes, like when COVID hit, I would take bubble baths. And I would just like, sink into the water, like hope that I would like disappear into the water when I came back out. COVID would be over, like, you know, never happened. But um, that to me was like, holding me in like, warm, warm waters. But, but if I would brought like my phone in there, or if I was like, thinking about work, wasn’t really giving myself fully to the activity, it wouldn’t really do much, you know, so you have to be there for it and do what works for you. You know?

Alyssa Patmos 1:01:53
So I know one of my answer, I will go through the activity. You’re gonna buy a fiction book. I’m gonna go through this activity.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:02:00
I don’t you love friends. I like in my 30s I was like, I’m only gonna be friends – not only – that, I want friends who like, teach me something, you know, and call me on my shit. You know? I feel I love that. I’m like, yeah, really, we love each other.

Alyssa Patmos 1:02:15
It feels, it’s, yes, it feels so good. I love you. Um, and so mine, my one of my self care things is cooking. And I know some people hate it. I love it. It feels good to be sorted. I love nurturing other people. I love nourishing my own body knowing it’s like healthy ingredients and things that are good for me. And time just like passes when I’m cooking. I don’t care that it takes me an hour to make a meal. And people eat it in 15 minutes. So I know that’s one of mine. So why is one of yours?

Dr. Sophia Town 1:02:47
Oh, other than bubble baths, bubble baths’ actually my main one. I know. It’s cliche, but it’s it’s my main one. Until my recent one which I have found so profound. And I’ll just share this with you. It’s gonna make me sound like a little bit. Crazy. But, um, so I live in New York City, right? So I’ve been walking around New York. And because there’s been a kind of an uptick in crime, I’m gonna get to the point, I promise but because there’s been kind of uptick in crime. I haven’t been listening to music, I haven’t had my headphones in, I haven’t been using my GPS. When I walk home, I’ll just just be with myself, you know. And I have found as I walk through the city without any of the distractions of technology or music, just like profound sense of peace and freedom and just kind of connection to like, the other people in the city. And so those walks for me has been really beautiful self care. It’s like 30 minutes of, of not silence or quiet because you’re in New York City, but 30 minutes of just sort of not no thoughts really just kind of experiencing the streets in the world. And you know, so that for me is yeah, that’s my new favorite activity. Hold though, but it’s still worth it.

Alyssa Patmos 1:03:59
Yes. I don’t think that makes you sound crazy at all. When I first moved to Denver. I was walking seven miles a day just like getting out of my head, like walking through the city three and a half miles to this place I was working from and then three and a half miles back. So walking for me is very similar, but in Denver. [crosstalk]

Dr. Sophia Town 1:04:16
Oh, sorry.

Alyssa Patmos 1:04:17
No, go ahead.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:04:18
This is what’s gonna be the crazy part. I sometimes get teary eyed and I’ll start crying a little bit. That was the part that makes a walk. I’ll just I think it’s like that wells up in me and I’m like, Okay, I’m like crying. I’m like, you know, someone’s like –

Alyssa Patmos 1:04:29
I do the same thing. It’s not crazy. Okay. Same thing. Like I will go and is when I take my headphones out. So very similarly here near Union Station. There’s been an uptick and there’s been an uptick in just like things that I don’t feel as safe walking around. And so it’s slightly started to limit my walking which is very frustrating, but also if I am I make sure to have my headphones out too. And there was an art Well, I think it’s a National Geographic around wonder. And it was around different feelings, I could find it. And it’s about wonder, and it’s talking about the experience of awe. And yes. And there were, it was talking about how senior citizens who went on wonder walks or all walks, I think they were correlating it to like less dementia, or less Alzheimer’s, more enjoyment, the benefits, like we’re a mile long, and it was talking about just intentionally noticing the different shades of green, or the different shades of red and like being able to step in and experience wonder and awe. And I feel like that’s might be what’s happening for both of us when we go on these walks.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:05:49
Yes, yes. I think you just nailed that totally captured it. Yeah. 100% It doesn’t have to be in a big city. You know, it for me. It’s New York. And there’s a lot of things to all add to here, you know, and people in the diversity and it’s just beautiful. But yeah, it could be in whatever town that your listeners are in whatever city, you know, just walking and really looking at looking at life looking at the world, you know, it’s just yeah, profound

Alyssa Patmos 1:06:14
As moments when we’re just okay to be with ourselves, which I think really can become tell me if I’m wrong, but I would view that as a marker, or an indicator one of them of if we’re able, if we’re flourishing, if we’re able to be with ourselves in moments like that.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:06:34
I have. Yeah, I would agree. I would definitely agree.

Alyssa Patmos 1:06:38
So, is there anything else if someone is like, “Okay, I love, I’ve loved the concept of flourishing, I love what we’re talking about.” And I think you have such a power for being able to translate this into the workplace and how people can lead and be culture makers and make shifts for other people just by embodying this for themselves. So is there any last other tip that you would want to give people who want to start putting this into practice? Which I’m aware is a big question.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:07:13
It’s a big question, but it’s a big world out there. And we like the questions. Um, so my personal belief is that wisdom doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And it’s not an individual characteristic, it’s always in relation to others. So we can’t be wise and not be social beings are socially aware, not I don’t mean social, like extroverted but we wisdom is in relation to all of our actions are interrelated with others in our life, right, and in the larger communities and globe. And so, I think one of the most kind of wisdom cultivating practices we can do silently that no one will know we’re doing is and I’m going to be unapologetically woowoo. however you say it is when you do go on this all walk, are you walking down the street, or you’re in your car, or you’re at the store, or Starbucks or the laundromat, or wherever, when you meet and just try this, maybe for a week, right or a day, some of the day, when you see people and you walk by people just send this send strangers, just a little bit of love. Like just recognize that you can even say silently, like I love you, to people you don’t know, I don’t mean romantic love, but I mean, just human love, you know, and seeing the humaneness and other people seeing they’re honoring their dignity, their inherent sense of value, just for being human, right, when we can give people that type of unconditional love, even just silently to strangers. We are our brains, our hearts are listening, and are aware of that. And we are able to give and receive that to ourselves and the world. I have noticed anecdotally the world shows up differently for you, and do you when you when you move through the world with that sense and that energy. So and I think that is a profound leadership capability or quality. It’s not very business II, but business needs to not be so business eat, you know. So I would say try that, practice it for a week and see, see what unfolds for you.

Alyssa Patmos 1:09:15
I love that. And if I would I think what you just said about the business needs to be less busy. I think that’s why organizations set up systems like if I if I were to think about what you just said, like we set up systems in the organization so that things can continue to run when we also need to experiment and step into creativity and that’s like the difference between like yeah, you have you have oh god I’m going to try not to open up a tangent really quick. I get very frustrated when people lock the creatives in organizations in a room and unlike all those people creative because everyone is creative and and it’s a different way. Jeff is super creative with spreadsheets, my brain does not work in spreadsheets whatsoever. I’m I’m creative and Other ways for cooking and with colors, and so and so but so often we like pit the creative people against like the system’s people. But the whole thing is a system and like that system can afford you trying out this practice. Yes, yes, yes. That’s why we create systems. And so stepping out and trying one thing that might have, I mean, I’m willing to guarantee it has exponential results, because I felt it personally. And I imagine you have to like that there is so much power in our ability to have greater influence when we heal ourselves. And when we heal our relationship with ourselves. And I love this practice that you just gave, because it is such an it’s not easy, but it’s a simple way to private. And yeah, it’s simple and you get to do it in the quiet of your mind. You don’t have to share it with everybody. It’s a simple way to get started. I love it. I love it. So I will link your website, but if people want to follow along, follow on your journey find you. Is there a good place for them to do that?

Dr. Sophia Town 1:11:10
Sure. Yeah. So I mean, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m Sophia Town , and then I’m also on Instagram. My Instagram’ss public and I, it’s a personal page, but sometimes I’ll post like little, you know, that academic insights and things like that, or poetry.

Alyssa Patmos 1:11:27
Love your poetry. You’ve got me into poetry.

Dr. Sophia Town 1:11:29
I think I’m gonna record one today, actually, I wrote a poem for my sister and her husband’s wedding. Back in October, I wrote them a poem and I think I’m going to record it. So yeah, that’ll be up there soon.

Alyssa Patmos 1:11:41
Yes, I highly recommend following for those artistic insights as much as the academic ones because, but it’s a blending of the worlds I love it. So thank you so so much for being here. And thank you for tuning in. And there will be another episode of Make It Mentionable soon.

You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Alyssapatmos.com/thepeel. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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