Written by : How to Get in the Zone 

How to Get in the Zone

Take a glimpse into the world of applied positive psychology with The Flourishing Center podcast. Each episode includes three sections giving you insights and hacks into living an authentically happy and flourishing life.

What you’ll learn in this podcast:

  • Science Says—Learn how behavioral synchrony impacts how people feel as result of being immersed in a group.
  • Life Hack—Learn what science tells us about how to get in the zone.
  • Practitioner’s Corner—Learn more about the project Happier By The Minute.
Learn more about The Flourishing Center

Read the interview from the Practitioner’s Corner:

Emiliya:  Hello everyone, with me today I have Stacey Yates Sellar. She is creator of Happier by the Minute. She’s also a graduate of our positive psychology certification course that she did in San Francisco, California and she’s also a graduate of our coaching certification program. Stacey is the mother of two gorgeous boys and the wife of a cool, hot, Scottish dude, as she describes him.

Stacey:   I manifested. I totally manifested him.

Emiliya:   Stacey it is so great to have you with us. Thank you.

Stacey:   Thank you so much. I also did the Flourishing Skills workshop too. Whatever I can take, I take from The Flourishing Center because it is just … There’s so many great things. It is like an a la carte menu that has everything you could ever want.

Emiliya:  Thanks Stacey. So, Stacey tell us, what is Happier by the Minute?

Stacey:  Well, it’s funny because it started as my class project in my CAPP course, which I stumbled upon as I was asking the universe to send me guidance and surround me with like minded people and help me figure out what my next iteration of myself is. I came across the CAPP class and then I took it really because at the end you have to do a project that says how you are going to deliver this to the world, the positive psychology. When I started the course I was like, “Oh I have no idea, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Then of course by the end, I came up with this idea being a busy mom with a full time career running a pretty big multi-million dollar, multi-location business, I realized there’s a lot of busy people out there and so I decided to create Happier by the Minute, which is little one minute videos with tools of positive psychology, that are free online and I will build from there, but that’s how it started. It’s just get it out there quickly and easily for people who are super busy.

Emiliya:  I love that. Thank you Stacey. Tell us more about your background and what brought you to positive psychology?

Stacey: Oh my goodness. I have been a searcher of “it,” I used my air quotes, I would say all my life. People will be really, really surprised to know that I have a lot of depression in my family and that I was really depressed and have a lot of anxiety and insecurities in high school. I was always searching and before there were TED Talks and YouTube, there were those cassette programs from Dale Carnegie, and Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar, and of course Napoleon Hill, and so I was always reading and searching and it just has always been part of my life. Then I felt like, when I found the CAPP course, it definitely was like, “Ahhh, that’s it. All the stuff I’ve been studying is actually under a name called positive psychology and it’s all under one roof.” It was really amazing to find that course and have it accessible to me as opposed to going to get the masters.

Emiliya:  Awesome Stacey. Before you even came to this, you’d been an entrepreneur for many years as well right?

Stacey:  I have. I am my own lesson in failure’s okay. I’ve tried all kinds of different ways, with writing a book and doing a cable show, when cable was before again YouTube, and a radio show. Those things never quite clicked but in the meantime, as it does, life happened. I created a career in helping some other people building a really great business. Within that business I was really able to really do a lot of coaching and development for teams. So it’s always been there. It’s always been in my daily life. It’s just kind of all coming together now. I’m just a late bloomer.

Emiliya:  Beautiful Stacey, and how are you using positive psychology now?

Stacey:  In my personal life it’s changed so much in my relationships with my family, how I work with my kids, certainly at work, with my husband, but then how I want to deliver it is really exciting in putting together the videos and then I have an Instagram page where I try to give happiness hacks through what I’m doing in my daily life. So, it’s really real and relevant. I do workshops for … I have a child with special needs so I do a yearlong workshop in the district for other moms with special needs. I also teach a class at an alternative school here for teenagers about how to start using the skills of positive psychology now, early on, while they’re in the height of when they need it the most. Everywhere. It touches me and I try to be a distributor of positive psychology as much as possible.

Emiliya:  Yeah. You’re definitely, Stacey, on our 5i change agent inventory, an inventor. Someone who digests and designs and disseminates positive psychology and you invent experiences for people, be it through the ability to watch your videos or interact in your classes or to read what you’ve written. It’s such a great example of, you’re a creator, you’re an inventor.

Stacey:  Thank you. That is the greatest compliment that you could give me. I just think of all the strength finders and the VIA institute, getting the values in action and knowing what my strengths are has helped me a lot. Yeah, and I want to invent even more ways. My next idea that I’m putting together right now is to create a weekly happy huddle. One thing that I know for sure is that it takes practice and consistency. While I love doing workshops and I love doing a little one minute video, I also know that you’ve got to create some habit of consistency around it and so I’m going to put together just a little half and hour phone call where people can call in weekly, they can choose a different time, and they can call in to this group call where for about 15 minutes we talk about a skill and a tool, maybe we even do it on the call because sometimes I can give you the idea, but you won’t actually go do it.

We’re going to talk about gratitude and then for five minutes we’re going to write a gratitude letter and then it will be open for questions where people can really talk about things that they’re struggling with and other people can learn from it. You can just come every week for half an hour to kind of get your boost of happiness or positive psychology to just sort of keep it consistent. I think of it sort of like an AA meeting for positivity.

Emiliya:  I love that Stacey. I remember when I was first starting off as a coach, one of my clients, one of my positive psychology coaching clients had come to me and said in this moment of what she seemed to express as shame, she said, “You know Emiliya, I sometimes go to AA meetings, but I don’t have a drinking problem. I actually don’t drink. I just really appreciate the community and just being able to go somewhere where you just hear other people’s stories and can feel like you connect to people.” That was my first moment of going, “Oh my Gosh. That’s so true. We don’t have places in our communities where we can go to where you just want to connect with other people and that we have to pathologize something being wrong before people are able to get this kind of group support.”

Stacey:  Isn’t that interesting? I think about it and I wanted to do this. It’s always been a desire in the back of my mind in that I’ve wanted to create this place where people could go because I struggle with going to church every week because there isn’t a church where we just can go and sit around and talk about positivity and not attach it to anything. So, I’ve sort of always had this in the back of my mind and with technology today, it’s made it so much easier for people to connect, that we can do it virtually. So now I’m super excited about creating this virtual place where people can come live and just connect. Even they don’t have to show themselves or anything. They can just listen in. They can get the past episode. Again, the more you feed your brain the positive stuff, it kind of crowds out the negative stuff is what I think.

Emiliya:  Absolutely. What are some of the different positive psychology practices that are your favorites?

Stacey:  I’ve been doing vision boards for a very long time. Gosh I would say 15 years. I took a course at some workshop and was introduced to them long before The Secret. Actually, I knew about The Secret before Oprah did.

Emiliya:  Now that’s a secret.

Stacey:  Exactly. I’m a big fan. I’m a big fan of, “What you think about you bring about.” Certainly that. I’m a big fan of primers, which I kind of think of what a vision board is, but attaching something to another activity, a habit that you do all the time. So, thinking of five things that you’re grateful for every time you brush your teeth. I’m a big fan of post-it notes around the house, on the refrigerator like, “You are amazing. You’re more beautiful than you know.”

I also certainly, the one, the biggest, the greatest, the all-time, if you could do anything that’s going to change your life, is just gratitude. I started that practice when I was in a little 600 square foot apartment in debt, injured, single, miserable, overweight, and I just was in bed going, “You know what? I just have to start.” It was, “I’m grateful that I have a bed to sleep in. I’m grateful that I have a refrigerator and it has food in it.” Then, my life has just exponentially grown to where I just have so much to be grateful for, so I use those opportunities to talk about how much I’m grateful as much as I possibly can

Emiliya:  Thank you Stacey. I’m curious. I know that you’ve been through so much in your life, what are some obstacles that positive psychology has helped you overcome?

Stacey:  That is a really good question. I think the biggest one is the negative mind chatter and having a growth mindset. I’m a big fan of Carol Dweck and I use that with my kids, but I also use it in my own, just my negative mind chatter and really challenging that. Certainly I watched the positive psychology course from Harvard that Tal Ben-Shahar taught, which anybody can watch and it’s really amazing, but his permission to be human has really helped me forgive myself for when I’m frustrated or angry, but you know what? It’s the human condition and I think that, that is one of the most helpful things in knowing, is accepting our human-ness.

Emiliya:  Earlier you mentioned that you also work with your own son with special needs and that you support parents in doing the same. I’m curious, what within our skillset has been helpful for you because this is typically an area that we don’t see a lot of when it comes to positive psychology, traditionally?

Stacey:  I think, one of the biggest challenges for parents with kids with special needs is that they spend so much time on their children and getting them the right services that they need and support that they need and it’s really a battle. You have to know so much. It’s a lot to navigate and we have a lot of support groups in how to navigate an IEP and how to work with the school and how to get great services.

What we don’t have is, or what I found is, we didn’t have the support to rebuild ourselves and refuel ourselves. So, I made it clear early on that this group was not about our kids directly, but it was about how to build up our own strengths and refuel ourselves to be able to serve them better and help them. It really is where we talk about the strengths of the moms and where they are at their best and reminding each other of all of the great things were doing even in a day where everything seems to go wrong, we’re still doing a great job. So, it’s really just trying to remind them that even when it’s hard, they’re doing amazing.

Emiliya:  Anything else that’s on your mind in the field of positive psychology today or how you’re applying positive psychology that you’d love for our listeners to learn?

Stacey:  Again, I think that it’s the consistency. I think TED Talks are such a gift. You know that’s how I found positive psychology, stumbling on Marty Seligman’s talk, certainly Dan Gilbert and his talks on stumbling on happiness and Angela Duckworth on grit now. There’s just so many really great talks and if I were going to give one piece of advice to somebody that really is saying, “I want to make a change and I want to grow,” I’d say replace the things in your life that aren’t adding really great value emotionally and psychologically.

For example, I used to spend a lot of time watching Real Housewives, okay I admit it, but I replaced that time with these TED Talks and with the books on happiness or watching the Harvard class from Tal Ben-Shahar and it really changes you because your time is the most valuable thing that we have and our attention is just … There’s so much noise out there in the world. So, to quite that noise or change what the noise is that’s coming in, to positivity and positive things that you can do to improve your life, it literally will change your life. So, just surround yourself with it.

Honestly, the minute you start looking at positive psychology and the books and the TED Talks and the courses, it’s like drinking water from a fire hose. There’s just so much great stuff. I mean like, really, I just want to quit my job, move to an island in Bali where I can just study all the time because there’s so much great stuff and you just keep digging at it and just keep it playing in your head.

Emiliya:  I love that Stacey. I can see your character strengths of love of learning and curiosity and interest in the world just pouring on out of you.

Stacey:  Yeah and I love, again, in translating it. I am not the first. There’s a million people out there doing it, which is awesome, and I try to go on Instagram and whenever I find other people that are change agents, either through affirmation cards or their art or any way that there’s just so many people out there doing it and we just need to go find them and keep building them up and supporting them and saying, “Yay, we just are going to keep sending out that vibe and we’re all going to touch different people in different ways.” I live in a world where everybody wins, so it’s so great to have so many change agents out there. I love that word that I’m pretty sure you came up with, but I love it.

Emiliya:  Thanks. I definitely didn’t come up with it, but we definitely integrate it. One of the things I want to highlight in what you just said there, Stacey, is that so many people who are inventors on our model, one of the challenges that they can sometimes go through is that they are so passionate, they love this information, and by definition, because we love to share, we also love to learn. To teach is to learn and so because inventors are constantly loving to take in information, they also can get stuck, because one of the things that can happen is they take in so much information, that they think to themselves, “One, where do I start? I don’t even know where to begin, there’s just so many good things out there that I want to share.”

They get information constipation, where there’s so much that they want to share with people. That’s why I love how you’ve really taken to heart, the understanding that, “I’m going to keep it simple. Happier by the Minute. Little digestible chunks at a time,” which is so important because people can get so overwhelmed by just the quantity of information that’s out there that they want to share with the world.

Then the second, is what you said around how inventors can get stuck because they think to themselves, “Well it’s already been done. There’s already a TED Talk on this and Barbara Fredrickson talk’s about that.” They key to being a successful inventor is recognizing that while, yes, other people might have been expressing this topic, you are still unique in how you express it or the specific audience that you want to bring this too. So, focusing on moms of children’s of special needs or focusing on high school students that are going on into transition and focusing in much more specific ways is so important to being a successful inventor and actually getting this work out into the world. Otherwise, what happens is, people just hold on to it and they’re likely to just keep it to themselves without ever having shared it.

Stacey:  100% and I am totally guilty of this. You definitely, there is so much information and there’s so many great people, that there is a, “Where do I fit in?” We’ve talked about it in positive psychology calls and workshops, is this impostor syndrome too, that, “Who am I to talk about this? I don’t have a PhD, I didn’t go to Harvard, I didn’t get my masters from Marty Seligman.” I’m absolutely guilty of that, which is a great opportunity to use my positive psychology tools to say, “That’s okay. There is a place for everyone.” It really is, I use it every day and then I also have the challenge of, “Do I do webinars? Do I write a book? Do I do workshops? Do I teach this in businesses? To kids? To moms?” That really is a real challenge where I think tapings that have come out of The Flourishing Center that are really helpful, is one, coaching. So either using a coach, and I met so many great people in the coaching class that we help each other. So, you definitely need support. You need someone to hold you accountable and help you get curious.

Part two is just to have an attitude of yes. Just start with yes. Some of these things are just coming to me and the mom’s of the kids ask me to put on the group and then the school found me and asked me to do the talk. I just say yes and say, “Which one starts feeling like me?” And, “Which one felt great? Which one do I want to expand on?” Just have that attitude of yes and get curious and have a bias to action as they say in designing your life. Just say yes and do lots of different things and then it will get clear.

Emiliya:  Beautiful Stacey. Thank you so much. If people wanted to find out more about who you are, what you’re up to, how they can continue to learn from you, where would they find you?

Stacey:  HappierbytheMinute.com so it’s super easy. Instagram is HappierbyMinute, somebody else has HappierbytheMinute, they stole my thing, but they can find me on Instagram and Facebook, but Happier by the Minute is where you can find me and hopefully lots more fun things to come. I’m just so, so grateful to The Flourishing Center and I’m not trying to do this plug for you, you can edit it out, but I really am just so grateful that you just opened me and thousands of other people to this world that is just changing lives. You’ve touched me and then I touched five people and they touched five people. It definitely has an amazing rippling effect. So, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you’re doing.

Emiliya:  Aw, thank you Stacey and thank you for what you’re doing. Together we’re working to make the world a better place and there’s a lot of need out there, so we just all keep doing our own part and thank you for doing yours. So much love to you Stacey, look forward to connecting with you and thank you for being our guest.

Stacey:  Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.

Emiliya:  Visit www.HappierbytheMinute.com to learn more about Stacey and her projects in getting positive psychology out to the world. Curious how you too can become a positive psychology practitioner? Check out our website, TheFlourishingCenter.com and check out our Certification in Applying Positive Psychology Program. We’re located in 12 cities across the U.S. and Canda as well as online internationally. We’d love to share this information with you and help you spread Flourishing to others.



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