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Improving Mental Health & Productivity with Anthony Poponi on the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast #49

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00:00:00 Anthony Poponi
That really high performing teams are really high trust teams, So that, and they’re the same thing in most cases are our teams that are exceptional. And what I mean by that is they are the exception to the rule and it’s hard to do that. And there’s a lot of good teams out there. There’s a lot of really solid teams out there that really exceptional ones have really dialed this in and figured this out. And it unlocks everything. And not only, you know, it’s it, they’re all interconnected too. So you have someone that’s like, super stoked about their job, right? Fired up. They found the right people, the right tribe. They’re doing really good work. They’re doing really engaged work. They walk away from their work being like, I just accomplished a lot today. I did a lot of hard things too, and I pushed through some hard moments. Fine. That’s like it should be expected. And out of work, they carry that home with them. That makes them a more engaged meaning member, makes them a more engaged family member. And it’s vice versa, too. People are really stoked in their home life and it, and that’s part of the thing that I talked to people about. One of the initial assessments I use is called the pillars of a Balanced life, and it looks at all aspects of life. Work is one, financial is 1, but then everything away from work is in there as well. And if people are really stoked about their home life, they bring that with them to work. They’re really struggling with something at their home life. They bring that with them to work. Totally. We know that the negative stuff sticks with us neurochemically, physiologically. A lot longer than the positive stuff. We’re not wired to really feel positive all the time and that’s one of the big myths about having this as well. Sorry, when kind of all over on that when I can keep.

00:01:25 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work and serve through my business Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because community matters and I want to know more about. Who? Is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth and our health. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn. Today I have the privilege of sitting down with my friend Anthony Poponi. He is a professional speaker and workplace consultant. And what I’m going to love about this conversation, Anthony, is I think this is going to go into the file that I call I’m going to live longer than you. And this is, I’m not super public with this. But I’m going to, I’m just going to be vulnerable here. I’ve got this aim of, you know, I’ve got this vision of Matt at 103 and I’m going to live beyond that. But I’m, I’m ripped. I’m happy. And I think in some of our conversation that we’re going to get to Anthony, we’re going to get tips that I’m going to make a note of and start implementing him in my life so that I can achieve that vision and live longer than most people that listen to this.

00:03:02 Anthony Poponi
Okay, I thought you were saying me specifically. You’re going to live longer than me, which based on my dietary inputs and other adult behaviors, maybe I’m not going to make it that long, but I’ll live happy until that time.

00:03:13 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It’s a bold statement, but.

00:03:16 Anthony Poponi
Starting off living to 103. You know what’s really interesting about that? There’s a lot of research on where the people on the planet live longest. You know, we call those blue zones. And well, Dan Buettner calls them Blue Zones. And what’s really interesting about those things is like, the people that are in those places that are living so long aren’t necessarily doing things intentionally to live that long. And not saying I’m going to live to 103 like you’re so proudly proclaimed, but they were able to kind of reverse engineer, like, what are these people doing that’s allowing them to live so long that that at least gives them a fighting chance. So the really good work on Blue Zones by Dan Buettner and then also Ikigai which is about Japanese Okinawans that live really well.

00:03:58 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Love it. Love it.

00:03:59 Anthony Poponi
There we go, Tangent 1.

00:04:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yep, Tangent 1. So you and I met in the Gunnison Valley, but you are now beaming in from Bend, OR.

00:04:07 Anthony Poponi
Bend OR Yes. Where it’s everything. Is Oregon nice? And yeah, so I love it out here. It’s good. Yeah. It was a really interesting 2 1/2 years ago I moved out here and it was a really big decision for me to make. And it’s I don’t take it lightly that telling people that choosing your community is probably the thing that can affect your happiness the most. We know that. But it’s a hard decision, you know, if you have to offer yourself from your community and the place that you love, the place you live that has all these great attributes and all these networks, but it was a really good. And it’s taken, it took about a year to kind of really settle in and then year two has been even better. And now I feel like I really have this incredible sense of belonging and contributing here.

00:04:48 Matthew Kuehlhorn
And it’s beautiful. Man, where did you start out? Where’d you grow up?

00:04:53 Anthony Poponi
Well, I started out in South Jersey, which is not hard to imagine with a name like Anthony Poponi, very ethnic, but I’m probably mostly Irish or just mostly mutt. Yeah. So an area close to Philadelphia. And I lived there from the time I was born until the time I was 17. And then, as I tell a lot of people in New Jersey, is a wonderful place to leave. And so I did Georgia, and then I’ve lived in the Caribbean. Florida and Hawaii and Colorado twice and now in Oregon.

00:05:24 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s awesome. And give me a little bit more context. I mean, so I would almost refer to you as a happiness consultant in a way, but is there, is there education behind that that feels it like coming New Jersey through Colorado, was there, was there schooling in there? How did we get into the the realm of work that you’re doing now?

00:05:50 Anthony Poponi
Yeah, I at any point just asking me to tell you more about certain things. I’ll give you the the cleft notes version of it of I’ve always gravitated towards roles of of speaking in front of people. So even when I have a degree in biology, and for most of my career up until probably 2014, I was doing things related to science. And so I was an environmental consultant. I was a middle school teacher that taught science. I was a tour guide. I was a watershed professional. And then I got more into the administrative and executive roles and fundraising still for nonprofits that were environmental and then but in there I was always speaking and and somewhere in there was just like, you know I’ve and and it actually happened in the Gunnison Valley. I mean there’s all these different points in your life where you can see these clues in in hindsight. But somebody asked me to to work with Christy Hopper who used to live in the Gunnison Valley to be the auctioneers for the Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League. Fundraiser And they said, hey, we’re doing this event. Would you be willing to auctioneer? And I said sure. What does that mean? You know? And then and then played with it and Christy and I did it together and she will tell you in the second year like we were Co auctioneering. That’s really hard to do with like working off of each other. And she’s incredibly funny. And the second year she was just like, I’m just getting in your way. I’m going to go sit down and drink with my friends, you know. And so I just kind of kept doing it and loved it. Yeah. And then I started playing more with them seeing and those sort of things. And then I I stumbled into I was playing with the neurochemistry behind humor and I was really curious about like what happens when people we make people laugh and what what can I talk and then found positive psychology which is now it’s the scientists to me loves it because it’s this rigorous discipline of understanding human happiness and that’s what positive psychology is And so that’s kind of transitioned into that’s still the core of what I do, the foundation of what I do and now it’s a largely focused around all right we’re at work. What do we know about human happiness and how it relates to work? And how can we make the pain points of work, well, less painful? And so that’s kind of where I’m at these days. Gotcha. Yep.

00:07:55 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Have you Did you grow up being a jokester?

00:07:59 Anthony Poponi
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And attention seeking behavior for sure. And so that’s also there’s an extrovert here that just loves for people to look at me and laugh at me. Yeah. And you know, and I play with. I play in that realm in a lot of different ways. Like, I still MC things. It’s not my primary source of income. It’s mostly just community, you know, community fun with the occasional paychecks or occasional good paychecks. And then I do a lot of improv. I think I’ve I’ve continued to lose money doing improv, but it’s just something I love doing, right? And then I’m I’m playing the standup comedy scene and if I do really, really well, I could make up to $200.00 as the headliner. And that’s pretax folks. But you know that that’s, it’s play though, and it’s they all work together. I mean, they’re all building muscles for me as as any version of that person that’s on stage. Yeah, yeah.

00:08:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So what does it work look like these days? If you go into a workplace, you’re consulting around happiness. One of the things that I wrote down in her in her prerecording conversation was around the hard parts of workplace happiness. But what? What does it look like? How can you shift a culture in a workplace? As a consultant, what are the components that you bring in and highlight?

00:09:19 Anthony Poponi
Part of that question really depends on the workplace and and where they are and what they’re struggling with. Most of the workplaces that I will work with are not like what I would call dumpster fires. They’re not in a terrible place where they’re just fighting and yelling and screaming all the time. They usually have some understanding and honoring effect that culture is. It’s a living, breathing, dynamic thing and you have to invest in it to continue to work on, on building up that culture. People come, people go, they change your culture, the organizations evolve, the needs and the roles of all. And so when I’m working with them, it’s it’s, you know, usually do assessments up front. Just say tell me where you’re at. Let’s get a feel for what what’s going on, what’s really good about your culture? How do we hold on to that? Make sure that stays strong. And then what are you struggling with? You know, what are you people telling you that they’re struggling with? How do we work on that? So it can be just engaged hard. They can be getting people to communicate clear. Can be getting people to understand their default patterns, the blind spots. It’s it’s a whole mix of things and I think that kind of honors the fact that like there’s not one tool that fixes workplace culture. You know you better have a fast toolbox because the they’re complex at complex is OK.

00:10:22 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah, they are complex. I I say culture Trump’s strategy over and over and and over again. And when pressed on that, you know, I have to look at culture as a bit of a glue. That keeps people aligned and working towards a similar aim and thus can be more effective because then it’s the culture that engages an individual’s mind, body and heart versus like pure systems, which is like here’s how you do this, but we need everybody showing up fully in order to be the most effective. And I think it’s culture that’s the the glue there. Do you have any insights on that and anything to add in that realm?

00:11:10 Anthony Poponi
Well, I really like the mind, body and heart piece. One of the things that I always say with groups is like one of the best things you can do with the people that are in front of you is like take the name tag off, like if you can get to the person behind that person, like, that’s getting into heart, right? That’s really speaking to the fact that like. I’m talking to a business owner and you right now and I’m a business owner as well. But I have a life away from this work as well and I have other things that inspire me, other things that challenge me. And I think that that’s that continues to build this like foundation of trust. And so I think trust is the is, is the base for all things. And you know if we have to just feel like we’re in this, you know we don’t have physical safety. That’s the basics, right? That’s the most basic of the basics. Then psychological safety comes in and then. If you establish the sort of foundation of trust and you can build on that and the the way that I say it is that really high performing teams are really high trust teams. So they’re and they’re the same thing in most cases are are teams that are exceptional. And what I mean by that is they are the exception to the rule and it’s hard to do that. And there’s a lot of good teams out there. There’s a lot of really solid teams out there that really exceptional ones have really dialed this in and figured this out. And it unlocks everything. And not only, you know, it’s it, they’re all interconnected too. So you have someone that’s like, super stoked about their job, right? Fired up. They found the right people, the right tribe. They’re doing really good work. They’re doing really engaged work. They walk away from their work being like, I just accomplished a lot today. I did a lot of hard things too, and I pushed through some hard moments. Fine. That’s like it should be expected. And out of work, they carry that home with them. That makes them a more engaged meaning member, makes them a more engaged family member. And it’s vice versa, too. People are really stoked in their home life and it, and that’s part of the thing that I talked to people about. One of the initial assessments I use is called the pillars of a Balanced life, and it looks at all aspects of life. Work is one, financial is 1, but then everything away from work is in there as well. And if people are really stoked about their home life, they bring that with them to work. They’re really struggling with something at their home life. They bring that with them to work. Totally. We know that the negative stuff sticks with us neurochemically, physiologically. A lot longer than the positive stuff. We’re not wired to really feel positive all the time. And that’s one of the big myths about happiness as well. Sorry when kind of all over on that when I can keep going.

00:13:24 Matthew Kuehlhorn
No, that’s that’s really good. I want to, I want to lean into what you that last piece you said one of the big myths of happiness. Can you go into that a little bit farther?

00:13:34 Anthony Poponi
Sure. You know, I think we have this, this expectation and even the standard that we hold ourselves accountable to and then beat ourselves up on. Not feeling what we would label as happiness all the time. So we and happiness. If you quit thinking about it as elation and joy, only it’s liberating, right? We are meant to feel moments of elation and joy. I encourage people to get to know themselves well enough to say that I will craft a life that allows me to experience more elation and joy. The extrovert in me. The front and center guy, the attention seek behavior guy, says I am a lot happier in a week where I’m standing on stage doing impromptu, making people laugh. When I’m standing on stage delivering my work on happiness. When I’m standing on stage doing comedy, that’s for me, that’s my own algorithm. That’s the thing that’s going to bring me more joy and fulfillment. I feel great in those moments. And then about 20 or 30 minutes after that, I come back to where I was before. That’s neurochemically what’s happening to you. And ideally what you come back to is this place of contentment. Where you can look at your life at different scales of a scale of like, well, how do I feel about what I just said on stage? How do I feel about this whole week? How do I feel about a week, a month, a year, a decade, right. So when you look at your life and scale, do you have this contentment? And and I like to break contentment into three pieces. You know, contentment is you have moments of pleasure for sure. You should be looking for that. You should be creating that. Don’t chase it. It’s neurochemically addictive, right. That’s what some of these drugs do for us. Do you have pride in your life? You feel good about what you’re doing? And do you have purpose and you know some of these things, purpose is like can have a lot of hard parts to it too. And that mix is all unique to us. And that mix of things that make us feel content in the moment, they change over time and it’s okay that they should. The things that make you happy when you were 22 year old are very different from the things that are going to make you happy when you’re 42 and 52 and 62. That’s okay. Keep crafting and shipping your life.

00:15:31 Luke Hylton
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00:16:11 Matthew Kuehlhorn
All right, so how would you define happiness?

00:16:16 Anthony Poponi
Well, you know, science scientists use the term life satisfaction and they will also use the term subjective, well-being. Right? So subjective well-being is subjective in nature, yes. And so I would come back to that, like in between the highs and the lows, what do you feel we’re meant to feel lows. Like toxic positivity is a real thing. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling the lows. Understand where the lows come from. And the same thing with, you know, these patterns of creating more joy and fulfillment. You want more of those joy and fulfillment moments and you want them to be more frequent craft. Those understand where they come from, intentionally lean into making more of those happen. That’s why my business is called focus on the 40. That 40% of our happiness is within our control through intentional action, right? So keep crafting the life that you want in the areas that you can control. Recognize what you cannot control. Recognize will not, will give you, will not give you as much happiness as you think. And then on the on the negative side of the scale, recognize where those negative moments come from, what’s causing those, and then start trying to remove those as you can. Some of those things are going to be really hard to change if one of your biggest challenges is a negative relationship. At work or at home or in your family or whatever it is, those are really hard to deal with, but you got to do something about it because they can, they can really detract from you. So in between the highs and the lows, you know, this, this contentment that’s purpose, pride and pleasure, that can be happiness. And you know, it’s just a layer on just a little bit more, is that it? I use a slide when I’m on stage that has two axes that has an X&AY and the X axis is a purpose, right? That’s, you know, living electric purpose. the Y axis is fun. Just one access or just the other is not really like a really fulfilling life, you know, It’s a mixture of all these things and all that mixture happens at scale and that makes you changes and just paying attention to that. Really getting. You have to be introspective. You have to spend time getting yourself thinking about what you would like to be getting out of this life and the way you should be giving back to others in this life. I think it’s a huge part of it is is the service aspect.

00:18:22 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So would you agree with the statement that happiness is? Not attainable 100% of the time.

00:18:32 Anthony Poponi
It depends on your definition. Elation and joy are not attainable 100% of the time. They’re not neurochemically available to us without the use of illicit drugs, and I’m not suggesting that it. If you can come back to this contentment in between as frequently as possible, then I think you’ve crafted a pretty good life recognizing that there’s going to be moments or I’m like. All right. Even even in the work that I do, the work that I love doing is holding a microphone and sharing and supporting other people, right, and helping them in this path of living a more fulfilling life. And I want them to have joy and fulfillment, and I want joy and fulfillment in my own life while I do that. So how can I craft more of that into my own life where it’s this bidirectional win win scenario? And then in between, I can come back and be like, OK, now I’m done with my presentation and I don’t have a presentation until next week. And that means that I sit behind my desk for 8 hours a day typing emails. That doesn’t bring me. Yeah, yeah, but it’s the means to the end that I need to be doing, you know, And I can recognize that. And if I can recognize those patterns of like, oh, this is has me in a negative state, I don’t like it down here. Why is that? Like all because I know what I’m really great at. I know my sort of geniuses. And then one of my strategies to do more of that. So how do I invest in assistance and support some marketing people that can help do those things for me, so I can do more of the stuff that I want to do. Yeah, yeah.

00:19:53 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that what I’m hearing through this is a couple of things and I hope the listeners are grabbing some insights and notes because I think this is applicable for for anybody and then also for for team leaders, right? Because. What I’m what I’m hearing is that elation, joy, like, it’s not the aim for 100% of the time. And in fact we actually need to feel the opposite, the other end of the spectrum in order to recognize what joy and elation are. And then there is a relative subjectivity, and it’s in those moments where we’re feeling other than that where we might make a meaning and thus. Beat ourselves up. Those are the words you used, right? And if we’re making a meaning that we’re inadequate or we’re in the wrong place like that can really deteriorate this overall happiness. And ultimately with the realm of of purpose and fun, I hear the word fulfillment, and I’m certainly after creating a life that fulfills me whether it has. Massive successes or massive failures, like they kind of both are the same thing in a lot of ways as I go through and experience life and it’s down to the way that I make my meaning and myself awareness of those experiences that really fulfills or you know, I find myself in a rut and I need to shake it up and get out of it.

00:21:25 Anthony Poponi
There was a lot there and I like it.

00:21:26 Matthew Kuehlhorn
There’s a lot there.

00:21:28 Anthony Poponi
Yeah. Don’t I I loved how you said just like don’t like use different words than me but these negative feelings that come they’re very natural. Right. Yeah. And I and I think that the it’s a podcast I really love by Laurie Santos where she interviews someone whose name I I won’t be able to pull out of my little brain. But she basically the the interview of the podcast is called a good enough job is good enough. You know like if you can go to a job that provides you fulfillment and. Provide you the income that you need and provide you satisfaction and engagement. Like continuing to chase this perfection is the same sort of same thing like having a pathology about purpose. Some people have it and they have it so incredibly strong and they are driven to do these things and they will do it for 80 hours a week and some of us don’t have that. We have purpose in like a capital P and purpose in a lowercase P You know, like a purpose in a capital P can be your family more than your work and you need your job and and this is a really important distinction for people to make. Is it? Is it a job? Is it a career or is it a calling? And if it’s calling, the money doesn’t even necessarily matter sometimes, right? If it’s career that it’s meant to be fulfilling and aspirational and you kind of continue to work up, or it’s a job and you’re like, hey Matt, I’m going to come work for your company. And I promise when I’m there I’m going to be working really hard. But I have to put boundaries on this work that I do because I have an aging parent at home that needs me and I have young children that I need to go take care of. I have other community obligations that are really important to me. So if you need somebody to work 60 hours a week. I can’t be that person for you, but I promise when I’m here, I’m really going to be here. And I need this be fulfilling for me in this, in this place. And this money allows for other things in my life that provide me with purpose. I go on raft trips, I go on vacations, I do things in my community, whatever this needs to be. And you need to be clear about that yourself. And that’s where trust comes in. You need to also be able to transparently say that to other people of being like, listen, that you keep trying to promote me and I’m telling you I don’t want to be promoted. I’m not afraid of being promoted. I’m not afraid of what’s up here. I I just this is the way that this job really works. Surely, you know and and some people are also just like have this honoring and we’ve created this weird structuring in our workplaces of being like if you want to make more money, you have to move up. And moving up usually means managing other people. And there can be people out there that are incredible at what they do as a craftsperson, incredible what they do as a salesperson and then you move them into a managerial role and it’s an entirely different skill set and we don’t backfill the skill set. Yeah, we’re like, well, you’re really great at sales run this team, running a team. Like you have to have the deep desire to lead other people on, to lift other people up in that role versus just being awesome at closing sales, you know And you know, So we have to have this like transparency within and you have this ability within an organization of your side is to say I can put people in the right places as much as possible. Like there’s times they’re going to be like, hey, I need you to kind of lead this small group of people doing these installs because I need this to be done really well and you know how to do that. And they may be terrible with people. So you’ve got to work on that skill set with them. But I’m not thinking anybody specifically on your team because I don’t know who they are. But yeah, that’s it’s, it’s complicated. And that that complication that I think is actually has some liberty and liberation in it of being like, like, OK, like, I get, like if I don’t have all the answers, it’s OK And I kind of work towards having a better understanding of these answers and then also understand what these answers are. They’re malleable. They’re going to change over time. Yeah. Yeah.

00:24:56 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What they say just put out in the world today and it’s something I firmly believe like even though I’m feeling and you know honestly today I kind of woke up and I wasn’t feeling like the the a player Matt version of me woke up right. And so it’s just a little bit off and yet I don’t need to believe that feeling right. It’s a it’s a self-awareness thing So as long as I have aims and and purpose and I’ve got. Something to do in that day, even if I’m not feeling it, like I don’t have to believe that feeling, I can still go forward. And ultimately, you know, you’re talking about some neuroscience. And I imagine that’s like dopamine serotonin, some of the hormonal pieces that we can get right. And dopamines like my phone goes Ding or I get a like on my post and I’m like, oh, you know, that’s a little shot of dopamine. But some of this stuff we’re alluding to is I believe more serotonin. Correct me if I’m wrong, because serotonin is like the longterm satisfaction. This is like where I can feel proud of, you know, just putting in the word day by day. And while some of that might be hard, you know, the end outcome is actually attaining something of meaning and value to my perspective and and that’s going to kick out the serotonin. Do I have those correct and is that?

00:26:19 Anthony Poponi
Yeah. I would say dopamine is more of the shortterm hit. I mean, and even serotonin has, it has a metabolizes, right. And so how long that lasts really depends. And even when we go back to talking about like, how do we get more joy and fulfillment out of the things we’re doing, sometimes it’s the we can, let’s see, my brain wants to tell you 7 things all at once. Let me try to do them all at the same time and I’ll make it 1 sentence. Yes, we can. Find ways to feel better about the stuff we’re doing or the stuff we’ve done and get more joy and more positive emotions out of those things through different strategies, Right. Our brain is typically Doctor Martin Solomon was one of the founding people. My positive psychology basically says we should be called Homo sapiens, we should be called Homo prospectus because we are always looking to the future. And I have identified, even in my own self lately that I’m a glass half full kind of guy. Like, I can have all these good things happening around me. I adapt to them very quickly. Human beings adapt to the good things in life. We are wired to adapt to the good things in life because we’re focused on the next thing, and that’s a survival tool. The next thing, the thing that’s going to kill us, we’ve managed to solve the thing that’s right here. Let’s move on to the thing that’s trying to kill us now and that’s trying to kill us in the future. And so even what you were talking about with, like, coming back to success and saying like. I’m not super energized around this, but it’s fine. Like you’re not meant to go into everyday being like I’m going to conquer the world. I’m going to conquer e-mail. And you know, like I, yeah, I have a hard time as you can tell. But we can we can intentionally get into so that there’s a couple things at play here. One, if we’re always future focused, we can lose, lose sight of the present moment. And through different techniques and we all know of nostalgia right. As the looking back, yeah. So you had a good thing happen to you. You can re celebrate that with with people, with yourself. Right. And that makes you feel good about those things. And if through introspect you could say, Oh yeah, like look at all the things I’ve been through and done and achieved and gotten here and it’s not a linear path. It’s ups and downs. It’s backs and forth. It stops and starts, it’s restarts, you know all those sort of things and that’s where you are now, Now the. The other part of that, and you can that’s nostalgia. And then of course you can look forward to things and you can be anticipatory of like good things in front of you. I think it’s great to have those things. I know you shouldn’t live in the past. You shouldn’t live entirely just always waiting to be happy in the future and having the ability to be content and happy in the moment. And then there’s this other piece of being like N some of the stuff that we’re going to do today is going to be hard. And through that process of doing these hard things, we are developing our mastery. We’re developing our growth. We’re leaning into trying and achieving new things and it won’t necessarily feel good. Now if you can figure out how to keep this at a watch, this 4% growth rate, right, it’s the easiest thing. What does that look like? It’s completely ambiguous when it and we think about it in practical terms. But we have that flow state when we lean into something hard and then we just give ourselves time to continue to play with it and we’re playing with the right type of challenge. It’s a good thing for us to be doing. It’s called challenge stress. I call it strategic discomfort. You know, it’s the thing that we’re doing to help us grow. It won’t necessarily feel great in the moment, but in retrospect it will. You know, being like, oh, I just crushed on that for two hours. That was actually really hard for me to do. I did something I like was completely immersed in this thing. I lost track of time. And then look at the outcome of this. We’ve got to create that for us because what’s going to happen is this thing’s going to Ding, that’s going to make noises, and we’re going to have meetings stacked every 15 minutes. And we don’t have time to go into the deeper stuff that we need to be doing. And there can be incredible opportunity for engagement in those modes to coming back to that big move. I knocked out that big thing that felt really good.

00:30:09 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah. What are maybe 3 bullet points that we can give listeners that can assist them in the day by day with, you know, overall increasing of happiness, whether it’s to get locked in to do that hard thing. I mean, a lot of this is just having a lot of self-awareness, so maybe there’s some tips to that, but what are kind of your top three practical tips?

00:30:39 Anthony Poponi
For frame the question when we’re time top three practical tips for.

00:30:43 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Let’s just say increasing happiness.

00:30:45 Anthony Poponi
Increasing happiness, Okay. Well, you have to sign up for my proprietary formula and buy my series of books. They are valued at $2995 to give them to you today on the Kooler Lifestyles Podcast for 1225.

00:31:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What a deal.

00:31:03 Anthony Poponi
One, I think you have to start, start with the baseline. And so I’ll put this in the show notes for you. It’s a really simple technique called Pillars of a Balanced Life. It comes from positive psychology and it basically just breaks your life into different domains. How do you feel about those? Put a numeric score. Yes. It’s going to be subjective. Put a numeric score in there and then tell me why you feel that way. Tell yourself what you feel. That way. You don’t have to share this with me. You can share it with me and then revisit it. The version that I’ll share with you has scores for today. They can go from -, 10 to positive ten -, 10. Really, really rough. Positive 10 again is like Buddy the elf. It’s unattainable. You’re not going to feel that way all the time. It’s okay. But if you can, you know, like. You know, relationships at 9:00, that’s pretty damn good. Relationships at 8. You’re doing fine, you know? Sure. So look at those and then do those and have some idea of where you are. And then one of the columns that says on there, revisit this in seven days. So come back to it. Now, the other thing that I do with that activity that I really love is I do it once a year. Well, actually I do it twice a year. Typically. I’ll look at the pillars of balanced life. I’ll write out my notes. I’ll put the date on it, scan it, put it in a folder. On my birthday, I sit down on my birthday and I say, where are we at? What’s the things you’ve been working on? How do you feel about your community? How do you feel about your financial security? How do you feel about your career? How do you feel about your love life, fun and play? How do you feel about your health? All these things. And look at the notes from before and then look on. Look at where I’m at that, right? And then I can see and scale over time. Some of these things take a while to change. You know, I told you before, like I changed my community. It was. Fun and exciting to move to a new community. It was scary to move to a new community. And now, like 2 1/2 years in, I’m on the board for a couple of nonprofits. I’m doing improv and comedy, which are gone. When I moved here because it was during the pandemic, I’m doing all these things that have added to the richness of that that I won’t see in the scale of looking at it once a month. You know, kind of, like take some, like, retrospection about what’s been going on and then what what’s the path I want to chart for. So I think you start with that baseline. And then I think that the other things that you could be really playing with is it just really depends on what you know about yourself. And I think the more you get to know about yourself and then you, you can start putting more of the best version of yourself into action as much as possible. And so there’s ways to do that with character strengths. There’s a free assessment I can provide on that that just looks at like who we are. Like what? How do we show up in the world and how do we use that more often, Like, because that’s easy for us to do. It’s effortless for us to do. It’s energizing for us to do. So. Why wouldn’t we do that as much as possible? And just like I said, purpose as a capital P and purpose as a lowercase P you know, you can use these character strengths of scale too. So my top character strength, humor, other ones, kindness, gratitude, social intelligence. And so it’s easy for me to use those things. And if I’m aware of them, I can be like, oh, that’s where I’m using this. This is where I can lean in and be a better support here and I would say play. You know, the third thing is it’s that other axis of like. What’s your purpose? Like if you really need to figure that part out and purpose again, Capital P, lowercase P, I’ll give you a cool activity on that one as well. It’s called calling cards, comes from the really awesome work of Richard Lighter and it basically just kind of gets you just still down to like 5 things about you that are your that your gifts to the world. So if you know what your gifts are and you know what your struts are, then how do you put those into action as much as possible in this world? And that’s what I continue to work on crafting like I continue to. To work on on making those bigger shifts over time, recognizing that they come like in micro moves and just little habits and just things you have to keep doing because you know it’s it doesn’t just get, you know, super happy life doesn’t just get handed. You had it too. You have to create it.

00:34:47 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You got to create it. I love that. And it is where.

00:34:51 Anthony Poponi
Eckhart Tolle. And you can just be happy just sitting on a bench for two years. I don’t know. Something says there that.

00:34:56 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Clear the mind, man.

00:34:57 Anthony Poponi
Yeah, it’s good luck. Clear in this mind. It’s got a lot of stuff going on.

00:35:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Well, I think what’s so interesting and we’ll start putting some bow ties on this conversation even though I know we could geek out on it for a lot longer. But the what I’ve noticed from my perspective is when I get into the realm of comparison like I see you know my my Facebook are in so freed and I’m like Oh my gosh, you know maybe I’m not doing as much as I could be doing or whatever. You know I know logically that that is a representation of more good or. What people want to exemplify versus real life, Because I know everybody is chopping wood, carrying water to reference like enlightenment, right? There’s still work, there’s still the the nittygritty and the not so fun stuff. But that comparison can really erode one’s perspective of even their own reality and bring on a not so positive feeling. So at any rate. I guess I I just brought that up because it emphasizes what I’m hearing a lot in this conversation. I mean so much of it is self-awareness and taking time to reflect. I love the baseline because I do think that’s important. Like where we at right now. How would I rate myself on these different areas of life and am I okay with that or do I need to move the needle on some of these and make up my.

00:36:24 Anthony Poponi
Hand because I’m giving the talk to you right now. Yeah, that the social comparison piece is like, yeah, it’s so painful. The, the, the very quick version of this is the human brain really spirals out and negative patterns in three ways. Rumination or over rumination. Overthinking. Like that’s you waking up at 2:00 in the morning trying to solve the problem. You know you’re stuck with something. How’d you know? Catastrophization. So taking something and going like making the worst possible scenario out of it. There’s real value in exploring what some of these like. These negative scenarios could be same thing with rumination. Our brain is a supercomputer and our brain is working through scenarios and we’re trying to solve scenarios, right? But there’s a point where it’s like, let’s just go on crazy, right? And it undermines our Physiology and our psychology. And our brain in the negative state is less productive than a brain in a positive state. So. So think about what that looks like for workplace stress too. If you’re stressing your people out all the time, you’re shutting down the best part of the brain. You know, the other one is social comparison. Right. And we are meant to compare ourselves to other people. We want to be liked by other people. That is a survival strategy. We’re very tribal people. We don’t want to get kicked out of the tribe. And social media is just playing on that social comparison little piece on our brain and just painting it all day long. And Alan Weiss, do you know his work? I’m Mary Narco. Consulting, he says. TIABB, there is always a bigger boat. You know, so no matter how nice of a boat you have, you can look down the line on that beautiful Bahamian beach and just see yacht after yacht after yacht after yacht that are all bigger and more beautiful than yours. Yes. And our brain will take happiness like we can. We can steal happiness from ourselves by instead of enjoying the boat and the people that are with us, the fun that we’re having right here by being like I’d be happier if I was on that bigger boat. That’s the human brain, you know. That’s just how we work. And so you being able to interrupt those patterns because. Being aware of like, oh, OK, I see what you’re doing to me. Instagram, like, I’m not falling for today.

00:38:28 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, that’s the part where I’ve like, I don’t need to believe it. Like even though it might roll up and be like, I don’t need to believe it.

00:38:35 Anthony Poponi
Well, so how do you, I’m curious about how you do that. Like you’ve talked about it a few times of being like I wake up and I’m like feeling at a CC plus level instead of my A game and then you’re like I don’t have to believe that story. Like what’s your way of of combating that?

00:38:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It’s a good question, Anthony. Part of it is just knowing my purpose and mission and being being committed to that, right? Like, right now, you know, I’m building this company and you know, raising my kids. Everything I do, even this podcast is about strengthening the communities where I live, work and play. And so it’s outside of me, right? It’s not about Matt. And because it’s outside of me, like I do need to take the next step. And the next step is something just A-frame of statement that. I’ve incorporated because I have some big goals and some big visions and I can feel really insecure about that when I think about it long enough. I’m like, oh man, am I really like, do I have the skill set for this and am I the right person? Do I this and and the answers are are no and yes at the same time and the answer is almost insignificant. So this is where I’m like, I don’t need to believe this. All I need to do is take the next step, make the next phone call. Do the next thing and momentum will eventually catch on. Like, I might just have to intentionally be like, shut up, mind take the next step. And I might have to do that multiple times, multiple times. And then there’s just some momentum and I’ll start rolling down and well, we’ll have some flow right. But sometimes it takes a minute, take some effort and some real intentionalization to it.

00:40:13 Anthony Poponi
Difference between? Stimulus and response, right. They’re the gap in between those two. And that’s that that brief moment there is, is your opportunity to make a choice, Yeah.

00:40:24 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Shout out to Victor. Frank call, I mean.

00:40:26 Anthony Poponi
Yeah, is exactly. Yeah. I love his work. That’s really good stuff. Yeah, I like that. And I appreciate that you’re attached to this kind of bigger thing. You know, like what we have on this, one of the five domains within happiness overall is like the sense of belonging. And purpose, you know, like having something that’s bigger than ourselves, like being connected to something that’s bigger than ourselves and wanting to support something bigger than ourselves and getting out of like this selfcenteredness that we have, that we’re we’re wired to have. And transcending that and being like, and this isn’t about me, it’s about what I can do for other people. And that’s it’s super hard, right, when you’re like, well, if I don’t close the next sale then and watch catastrophization happen. Right. If I don’t close the next album, I’m gonna have to layoff 2 employees. If I have to left everybody, well, I’ll have to do the right way but and then it or I can. I could lose my house and then come up. Right. Likely. Give me a break here, you know. Yes. Yes. So yeah, good on you for for I mean that first part of this like that awareness of like what’s going on here that that doesn’t serve me. I gotta let it go.

00:41:23 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s right. Yeah. What you’re alluding to, and it’s it’s true for life. It’s true for entrepreneurs, for sure. But there’s this, there’s this roller coaster. It’s it’s not like this. Gradual line up, to quote, UN quote, Success or happiness. It is literally all over the place.

00:41:38 Anthony Poponi

00:41:39 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Strap in, buckle in, because the ride’s worth it. Ultimately, and I think at this conversation like we’re identifying self-awareness and practices are just taking these next steps forward. And so much of it is taking the the subjective perspective, right? Like my happiness is going to be differently defined than yours. Or anybody else’s, for that matter. And that’s probably one of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned in my 46 years where, you know, I’ve I’ve been learning how to give up the art of pleasing others and really driving in towards selfawareness and, you know, asking what’s important for me and how I play the game. Now as I get more mature it’s how do I play the game for others to create these win win wins across the board.

00:42:34 Anthony Poponi
Yeah. And that’s, yeah, it’s it’s challenging, right, Because we’re always kind of like playing that this tension between how do I win and how do others win at the same time. And if you ever can get over to that point, I think you’ve kind of you can transcend worry and fear and all those sort of things and it. It takes effort. You know, like nothing about my business is guaranteed. And it requires action and effort and consistency. And I I want to get more to that place where it’s just consistently like I don’t have to think about booking my new work. It just comes to me, and it’s easier for me to do that because I think it changes As a kid that grew up in New Jersey in poverty, I have some scarcity tendencies, you know? And so, like when I feel like there’s scarcity out there, I’m like. Take care of Anthony, you know, And yet there’s this incredible, like, nonprofit guy that wants to serve the world and do all these things that gets shut down if I don’t be like, hey, like knock it off. Like, like just go do the good, do the good. You know, so.

00:43:34 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Do the good.

00:43:35 Anthony Poponi
Punch and sense.

00:43:36 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Take a bumper sticker right there.

00:43:38 Anthony Poponi
Do the good, Do the good. Yeah, I would fit on a bumper sticker. Don’t don’t launch this podcast until I have a chance to copyright that. That’s my $1,000,000 idea so I can do more service in the world.

00:43:48 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s pretty good one, Anthony. I really appreciate this convo. Where can people learn more about you, connect with you, hire you, book you?

00:43:56 Anthony Poponi
Give you lots of.

00:43:57 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Money. Whatever they want.

00:43:59 Anthony Poponi
You can find me at I’d love for you to get on my e-mail list. I send out e-mail once a month or so, which is resources and tools and new things that are coming out that help support people. And I would love for people to play with the things that we provide in the show notes. You know the. I want people to ask me to help them, and so if you have something you’re really curious about, you’re looking for a resource on something. If I can be the resource, great. If there’s something else I can point you towards that you’re energized about, I’d love to support you in that as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

00:44:27 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love it. We’ll include your links. Are you active on social media?

00:44:32 Anthony Poponi
Yeah, I’m on the primarily. I’ll LinkedIn. I do have Facebook, perfect. Instagram, not so much. But yeah, I’m primarily. I liked in for the work stuff and then Facebook for for other things as well. Cool.

00:44:43 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Well, I appreciate your contribution to the show notes and just rounding this out as value for listeners. So be sure to include all those components. If you’re listening, reach out to Anthony. And Anthony, I really appreciate the conversation today. Thank you so much.

00:44:58 Anthony Poponi
Me too. Thanks Matt, always for sure to talk to you.

00:45:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Absolutely. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. We count on your subscriptions, your likes, your shares, and I encourage you to do that. Now, if you’re watching on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe. Lower right hand button. If you’re on audio, download this, share it, and we look forward to having you on the next.