Your Fully Charged Life is Meaghan B. Murphy’s master guide to bringing your best self to every moment, even when the pressures of daily life leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and wallowing in negative thoughts (and a pint of your favorite gelato). Spanning health, work, family time and more, Your Fully Charged Life reveals small changes in outlook and habits that yield big results, without ever sacrificing who you are.
Meaghan B. Murphy is a longtime magazine editor, writer, on-air lifestyle expert, podcaster and certified trainer. Currently the Editor-in-Chief at Woman’s Day magazine, Murphy is a media veteran who previously served as executive editor of Good Housekeeping. She lives with her husband and their three children and fur baby in Westfield, New Jersey.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Natalie Johnson - During the webinar... All right. Here's the recording signal. Gotta love that. During the webinar, please fill out the form that's posted in the chat if you would like a complimentary copy of Meaghan's book. And without...
Sophia Smith - Looks like we just lost Natalie. So, let's just see if she rejoins us here in a minute. But Meaghan, why don't you get started and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Meaghan Murphy - Yeah. I see myself What is the secret thing where you can not just stare at your own face? Does anyone know that Zoom hack? because I am totally staring at myself right now.
Sophia - Well, I think Natalie is joining us just here. She's hopping back on. But why don't you get started and just tell us a little bit about your book and what that process was like about writing your book.
Meaghan - There she is. So we're glasses friends. We've bonded backstage over our love of colorful glasses. So, I'm just happy to welcome Natalie back.
Natalie - Thank you. This is Zoom life, things happen. But it's all good.
Meaghan - I can't promise a kid or a dog won't barge in, hashtag Zoom life. It is what it is, right?
Natalie - For sure. For sure. So now that we've talked about Zoom life, let's talk a little bit about, Your Fully Charged Life. What inspired you to write this book?
Meaghan - So, it's been a very long journey and I tell a lot of my stories in the book. But I was a kid who was inherently negative. My nickname was grumpy as a kid. I was really angsty and moody and sullen, I had some really tumultuous teen years, I suffered from an eating disorder and diet, was hospitalized. My best friend also suffered from an eating disorder and tragically died in the process. Just angsty, tumultuous, really tough teen years. And I had these big, raging swells of emotion that I just really couldn't handle or control. And that was sort of how I developed this eating disorder to quiet them. I went through lots of therapy and I ultimately wrote about the experiences. So, I was 17 years old and I wrote an essay on overcoming adversity. And that essay earned me a Horatio Alger national scholarship. So I got a $10,000 scholarship for college and I got a lot of national attention and wound up being on an NBC Special. Trisha Yearwood was performing, I didn't listen to country music and didn't know who the heck she was, but knew it was a big deal. And Don Johnson and Bob Costas were the hosts. And that wound up really kind of being the launch pad for my media career. So from having been featured on that special, YM Magazine, at the time it was the Teen Magazine, approached me and said, we'd love to tell your story. And I was like, great. I'll write it for you. And I'd love to start on Monday as your new intern. Cool. We good? Okay, I'll be there on Monday. And I was so fearless because I had already been through so much. I had been through hospitalizations, the loss of my best friend. Asking for an internship and showing up on Monday seemed like no big deal. And I showed up on Monday. And that kind of was a really good indication to me early on that when you make your message and that when you share your pain, good can come of it. And so, that started me on my career path and my media journey. I was still not the person I am today who people sometimes joke for its rainbows, but I was inching toward a stable existence I will say. And then ultimately I was an editor at a Cosmopolitan Magazine where I was assigned a story called the seven secrets of happiness. And I completely rolled my eyes. I'm like, who wants to read this crap? Why do I have to write it? But in researching that piece and writing that story, I delved into the field of positive psychology. And it was really when I started to look at the work of Martin Seligman who's like the godfather of positive psychology, that it really started to dawn on me that happiness was a choice. It was an action state. So, happiness wasn't this elusive state of being, it was a very active state of doing. And there were very clear scientifically proven things that we could all do in our daily lives to move the happiness needle. And I started to practice some of those things and began to change. And that was really the start of my journey. That wasn't the moment when I decided, okay, now I'm going to write a book, but that was when I began to live differently and began to understand that it was possible to live differently.
Natalie - Wow. So, in living differently, and you just touched on this, moving the happiness needle. Selfishly, I would love to learn a little bit more, but can you share there are one or two things that we can start doing right now that could move that happiness needle?
Meaghan - Well, that's what I think is really exciting. because little things can have such a big impact. And so You're Fully Charged Life, it is this big, long underline, it's a radically simple approach to having endless energy and filling every day with yay. But what the book does, it's a happiness toolkit. So it's not a guide, it's not a formula, it's not a program, it's none of those things. It's a toolkit. And really what it does, it looks at the key aspects of your life. So it'll look at your work life. So if that's where you're struggling and that's where you need sort of that little spark or that little jolt, you dive into that chapter. And the work charge chapter is going to give you fundamental basics of operating at full battery in your work life. If your relationships are where you're feeling like you're struggling, you can dive into the love charge chapter. And that's really where you can focus on getting that charge from your relationships. Not just from your core family, your spouse, your kids, but also like a cashier. And why that can be really powerful, those so-called weak ties have such a powerful ability to boost us. The recharge chapter is about resilience and having grit and grace in the face of loss. That's a really important chapter to me. It was a chapter that, I finished this book last April, in the beginning of lockdown. So I had just taken over as editor and chief of Woman's Day Magazine. I was homeschooling three small kids and trying to do common core math and not carry a one. And my head was falling out of my ear and my book was doing three weeks and it was awful. But that chapter was originally about loss in terms of loss of life. I had lost my dad to pancreatic cancer, which is a story on itself and the reason I ultimately wrote this book. But I turned it to really this global pandemic in this global sense of mourning and grief. What we were all going through. We were all losing so much a sense of safety, a sense of security, some of us our jobs, loved ones, our health. And so that really, I changed some of the anecdotes and there was a different way into that chapter. But that chapter, the recharge chapter, if you're languishing right now and you're struggling with loss, go right there.
The positive charge is about retraining your brain. I love reframing what's lame and using some kinds of mind trickery to think your way happier. So the positive charge does a lot of that. The extra charges are the fun stuff like having a favorite color and putting fresh flowers in your house and making your bed and the science behind those small little things to live happier. So that's the book in a nutshell. It's really a toolkit. And the tools that will stick for you or work for you are different than the tools that'll stick for me or work for me. And that's kind of the secret sauce of the book. I want you to roll your eyes at the things that sound lame. And I want you to try the things that sound intriguing. This is really based on 25 years as a service journalist. So I went from working at YM to being one of the founding editors of Teen People, to going to Cosmo, to spending nine years as the fitness director and deputy editor at Self Magazine, then six years of Good Housekeeping and now as editor and chief of Woman's Day. And as a serving journalist for all of those years, I've had access to the best research, the best researchers with the latest science. And my skillset is that I'm able to fun filter that advice so that I can give you news you will actually use. because that's the thing. If you're not going to take the advice it's useless. So I feel like the secret sauce of the book and my skill set as a magazine editor is fun filtering. So that I know that, here's an anecdote that's going to help you see how to put this into practice.
Natalie - That's huge right now. And I think that's one of the things that I love about your book. Even the language, it's fun. It makes you smile. You engage a little bit differently and you almost feel lighter as you're reading it. So you talk about positive charge...
Meaghan - That's the best compliment ever. Thank you.
Natalie - Anytime, anytime. And you mentioned rainbows earlier and I just want to call out, I'm seeing a lot of lightning bolts in the background. So can you talk to us a little bit about the lightning bolt? How does that become your symbol?
Meaghan - And I think everyone should have a symbol or something they associate with, like a jolt of joy. And so for me, that is the lightning bolt. It takes me back to my mom. So my mom is the OG bolt. There was just a picture of my mom when I was a kid and I actually have it hanging on my bulletin board over there. But my mom and my dad's honeymoon was a road trip with my aunt and uncle to the Yellowstone National Park. And there was this picture of my mom with these cool braids and like all her hippy glory with this like lightening bolt t-shirt. And I always looked at it and was like, she's cool. And the thing that I've loved about my mom was that she is that person who believes everything is always possible and really modeled that for me. And so, the lightning bolt stands for me, of this electric energy of possibility that started with my mom, that continues with me and ultimately my kids.
Natalie - Wow, that's awesome. And as you talk about energy, I start thinking about the concept of managing energy because we can manage ourselves, but then we're also trying to manage other people and it can get exhausting. So, can you talk to me a little bit about what maybe something in your book can do to help us manage our energy so that we're not burning the candle at both ends doing too much.
Meaghan - Well, there's so many nuances that to that. So living fully charged is about being energized and operating at full battery and never needing a red bull and also understanding the contagious nature of energy. Understanding that my energy affects you and your energy affects me. And understanding how to protect and preserve your energy. I say, avoid energy vampires at all cost. I have a force field of positivity. And if I don't have to let you in with your negative energy, I will not. Unless you're related to me and I have to put up with you, ah ah. Because just being aware of how someone makes you feel, I get prickly around really negative, nasty people. I have a visceral response because I've become so aware of other people's energy, understanding how people make you feel. I do it, a nice test in the book of just even identifying toxic friendships and toxic relationships. Do you like yourself when you're around this person? Do you like who you become around this person? Do you dread spending time with this person or do you feel energized and excited to see them? Really just sort of understanding, sort of doing an audit of other people and how they impact your energy. That's a step one. Just being aware of that. I sort of like intuitive, if you run at the gym and you're running on the treadmill and the person next to you is walking and talking on their cell phone, how does that impact you? Are you hustling harder? Does that make you run faster and stronger and like crush a sprint or does that annoy you and slow you down? Now, if that same person is off the cell phone, is focused and giving it their all, how does that impact your energy? Do you suddenly step it up a little bit? Do you take your walk to a jog? How does that impact you? Understand, that example of two people in a treadmill is exactly the same example of life. Our energy affects other people. And realizing in big and small ways. I love to talk about the cheers effect. Going somewhere and everybody knows your name and checking in at checkout. When I go to the grocery store, I use the cashier's nickname, their name tag as a gift. If you're Ed's nickname, name tag is on hi Ed, how you doing? Good morning. Understanding that recognizing someone's humanity and registering at the register someone else and interacting and sparking is really, really powerful. You can leave the store having had this positive interaction and that can affect your whole day. Where you can have somebody bump into you and... And that can also dampen your energy and negatively impact your day. Like the person who gives you the finger in the parking lot because you pushed your I think starting with an awareness of how we're also interconnected and how you affect me and I affect you and how positive that interaction can be if we're more mindful about it.
Natalie - Definitely. And I like the comment you made around the humanity and just the little things about acknowledging each other's humanity and sort of how that also leads to a validation which we all need. We all need to be seen, we all need to be recognized and that's so huge
Meaghan - Oh my gosh, I did this on too. I did this on live with Kelly and Ryan. I gave Junior and Ryan these little foam fingers. And it's like just patting each other on the back and acknowledging our accomplishments and our successes and our wins and being generous with others is really, really important. We need that. We need to recognize and validate and encourage and cheerlead others.
Natalie - We really do. Especially now more than ever. And so I think you touched on it a little bit sort of, if you're having a bad day, what are the things that you can do? because it's not always easy. I don't believe you are promoting that we're going to be positive a thousand percent of the time.
Meaghan - Oh, no. Hell no. I have bad days. And I always love to make this distinction for people because there's this, in the wellness community the term toxic positivity is really in the air right now. And what it means to be toxically positive and to be in toxic positivity, is living with rose-colored glasses on. My glasses are pink, but they're not rose colored. I see the bad. They're pink, but I see the bad. And so what the goal of living fully charged is, yes, we're looking on the bright side and we want to live on the bright side, but that doesn't mean we don't see the dark side. We see all the sides. We acknowledge what sucks, but we live in the sun. And that's really the key distinction. Is that, yes, things are hard, things are scary, things are bad. Yes, we acknowledge that. You sit with it. And if you need to cry in the shower and you need to scream in the car with like a drive around the block or some alone time, do it. Because you have to acknowledge what's bad but you can't get stuck there. And I think that's the big key for us right now, is learning how to get unstuck. Because especially now, I love this term languishing and I loved that New York Times article a couple of weeks ago. I think many of us are languishing. We're not clinically depressed, that's the good news. The majority of us are not clinically depressed. But we're not also, we're also not joyful, we're languishing. We're having a hard time finding those moments of levity and light and positivity. And I think the key is when you feel stuck, is to create momentum. And so what living fully charged does and what this toolkit does, is simply help you create momentum. Thinking about what you can do right now, not tomorrow, not two weeks from now, not a month from now, because that's super, super daunting. And the analogy I like to give is, last March, if you thought too far ahead, would you ever imagine you'd be wiping your groceries down with Clorox wipes and hiding from your mail? So why are we trying to imagine today what tomorrow is going to look like or two weeks? We can't. All we really have is today. And that sounds so cliche with the smaller you think, the easier the day becomes to manage. Because right here in this moment, and I can do something, I can have an engaging conversation with you. Maybe I can share a tip that impacts one person on the call. Yay. That's important. And I think when you wake up and you feel drained or depleted or crappy, what's one positive action step you can take to create momentum? And sometimes the mantra in my head is momentum, momentum. How am I creating momentum today? It's like that Nike just do it slogan. There's a reason they make boatloads of money. That's what it's all about. Just do it. Just do one thing, take an action step to inch forward, to create momentum. And so maybe that means you make your bed. I'm such a spazz about making your bed.
I wrote two pages about it in my book. 84% of bed makers report feeling more productive and ultimately happier throughout the course of the day because that small sense of accomplishment sets the tone for positivity. Oh my gosh, I have already accomplished something first thing in the morning. Now I'm going to be more productive. Then you take the shower. Who thinks back to those early days of the pandemic where it was like, okay, I went from dirty pajamas to clean pajamas and a top knot because my hair was so long for the first time in 10 years that I could wear a top knot. But how does your day change when you take a shower and you dress how you want to feel? I know you're all on board for this because I call it dopamine dressing. Dressing the way you want to feel. And for you and me that means bright colors and all of the things. But really just understanding that your clothes are powerful and do you want them to be a or a tranquilizer, right? And that dopamine dressing can look different for everybody. I love the science behind this. So for me, power dressing means a lightening bolt, bright colors, all of the things because that's what I assign meaning to. For someone else that could be a gray suit. It's whatever you assign meaning to. Whatever in your brain equals power dressing, that's what has the power to boost your mood. And so for my husband it's a suit, but party socks. So, he is a party from the ankle down. Boring as hell right here, but oh my gosh, from the ankle down, dopamine dressing. There's a party on his feet. But what does that mean for you? Does it mean you put on a little mascara, a swipe of lipstick? What does that mean? How do you dress up to feel up? Again, small, small things. Movement. I have the whole health charge chapter in the book is that, movement is non-negotiable. You need to move your body. I don't care if it's a Zumba class, I don't care if it's a walk, I don't care if it's triathlon, we all need to move our bodies. This science is, you can't debate this science. Movement is mood magic. You have to move your body even better if it's in nature because there's so much science behind the power of nature to spark joy and all and appreciating your surroundings. Okay, so you've moved your body, you got to protect your sleep. If you don't sleep, you can't be happy. It's impossible. So, sleep train. I talk about how to sleep train, the same way you'd sleep train a child, sleep train yourself. Protect your sleep. I've managed my circadian rhythms to the point where I go to bed at 10:17 and I wake up at 5:03 and I don't need an alarm clock because I have sleep trained. I protect my sleep. Unless Brad Pitt is calling for dinner, I'm going to bed at 10:17. That's my non-negotiable. But it's all of these little things. And so those are some of the tools in my toolkit. Your toolkit after reading Your Fully Charged Life might look different. You might put different tools in your toolkit. I love to tell this story that, I got COVID recently, quite before my book launch. What! And my husband, my three kids, my mom, and I was in distress. I locked my bedroom door and I cried, screamed, rage. I was mad. How could this happen? We were so careful, I've got a book to launch. My God! But then I put a different tool in my toolkit that I had never used before. I write about meditation in the book, I write about the power of meditation. I also wrote how it was not for me because I'm not very well with crystals in your pocket. And if that's not new, you will probably most of the advice in my book. But in that moment where I was so hopeless and so scared, worried about my asthma and my pneumonia and how was I going to survive COVID, I was on YouTube downloading a meditation app and I laid there for 40 minutes and the blue light washed over my lungs and I'm like, okay, knowledge is power. That I knew about that tool, I just never put it in my toolkit before. And so that's kind of the fun of the book. There may be something you read that doesn't mean anything now but in two weeks from now that might be exactly what you need. My goal is simply to give you tools so that when things are hard, you can move through them more easily.
Natalie - So you mentioned your kids and sort of the toolkit. Do you notice that they're building their own toolkit? And if so, is there anything you can share with us?
Meaghan - This is one of my favorite things because people are always like, well, so how does it impact your family and your kids? And here's the thing is, I don't talk about fully charged living, I don't talk about my strategies, I don't talk about the science, I simply live it. And as parents, we're the ultimate, I call myself a mom mirror. They're listening, they're mirroring my behavior without even realizing it. And there was a moment I'm like, is this working? Are my kids fully charged? Are they living this way? And my ten-year-old daughter, I went into her room one day and I spied on her desk. Yes, I spied. And she had Charlie's checklist. And so, on Charlie's checklist, were basically all of the principles and tenants of the fully charged life and all the signs and the things I believe. But it was her little checklist. It was like, I feel better when I get a good night's sleep. Check. I feel better when I move my body, I feel better when my room is clean, I feel better when... And it was all of these little strategies that she was checking off and that she was using and that she was doing without me saying, you are living fully charged. because at the second your like, mommy says or this is how mommy... Then it's like, no. So our behavior, we've got to show, we can't tell. And so, I'm very excited and proud to report that my kids live this way by virtue of seeing this way to live.
Natalie - That's awesome. I think my mother would be very happy to know that I am currently making my bed every day, that I finally got it. I fully agree with you when you're like, you do that one small thing and it's like, yes, check. I did something today, I can keep moving forward.
Meaghan - It's so funny too because it's not just like The science is fascinating and it's even, and if you neatly make your bed, that attention to detail also has very beneficial of it. There's just so much to bed making that it makes me endlessly happy because I really do enjoy a very well-made bed. And I will say, I do have a hack for parents. So you can use beddy's zip-up bedding. because it used to stress me out that my kids would have these hot mess beds. But beddy's zip-up bedding is basically like a sleeping bag on the mattress that my ten, eight and seven year olds can just zip across.
Natalie - Wow. Okay. So, I don't know if our audience was prepared to get bed making tips, but here we got some.
Meaghan - Oh, I'm a life hacker. I taught Ryan secrets how to fold a sheet. That's my favorite. I love all that.
Natalie - Awesome. So talking a little bit about this myth, I feel like it's a myth, this work-life balance. I really enjoy how you have sort of moved away from that concept into more of a synergy. So can you give us
Meaghan - Well, and I think it's no joke that like, we've heard that ad nauseum. There's no such thing as work-life balance. And so many smart people talk about that. And a lot of people talk about it as harmony. And for me it's a matter of semantics, but I really do like to think about it as synergy. That all the aspects of my life are sort of working together, playing to their strengths, playing different parts and really working together. And there's so many nuances to that. And in this whole year of working from home has really kind of made that more important than ever. There are just times when my family is top priority and work doesn't matter. That doesn't mean work doesn't matter at all. It just doesn't matter in that moment. because my kid's getting his tonsils out. That's priority number one. And just understanding there's going to be these shifts and there's going to be these changes, but there's gotta be synergy. The different aspects need to understand each other. We were sort of talking about that in the green room, is that, the different parts have to understand each other. We're getting to know each other in such a new way. I love the fact that working from home in Slacks and Zooms has sort of humanized us all. As the boss, I feel highly humanized. Now everybody knows what my dog looks like, what my kids sounds like when they're screaming, what I look like when I can't shower. So, it's kind of nice to give people a window into our humanity in that way as well. And I think its made for stronger work relationships in many ways.
Natalie - Definitely. And it's such a gift. I think we all went into this pandemic doom and gloom. No one knew what to expect but I think so many people are finding the gift of having no travel time to their commute and they're spending more time with families or just looking at the little things in a different way.
Meaghan - Oh wait, there's been a million silver linings for me. And I will say too as a working mom who's always been a working mom, there were things that I was missing that I didn't understand that I was missing until now. We really weren't able to do family dinners very often. My kids would eat at five o'clock and I'd eat with my when I got home at 7:30 because I was commuting to New York from New Jersey. And like Taco Tuesday has become this national holiday in my house. We look forward to, we get excited about Taco Tuesdays because this is, its just become this big celebration on Tuesday nights and just all of those family dinners. One of the things I love too is picking my kids up from school. I did hack my life and put them in Catholic school so that they're in school in person from nine to three. Which, hallelujah, because I was like, I've got the book, I've got the magazine, I've got a podcast. It was not easy those first many months. But I just love earsdropping on the ride home on carpool and hearing the conversations that my kids have with each other or the kids, the conversations they have. I didn't know I was missing that. I love it. I didn't know so-and-so has a boyfriend in fifth grade who left a teddy bear in their locker. I'm like, wow, I was missing all this juice.
Natalie - And I think about it all the home remodel projects. So I saw in the chat, Meaghan, you were able to remodel your house. Took a couple of months. But you did it and rented it out. I think we all finally got some time to do the things that we had always wanted to do.
Meaghan - And also understanding like, I have such a new appreciation for my home. Your home really is the launch pad for your life. It's a place of comfort and safety. My house has never been so organized. I've never had so many projects even though I was the executive editor of Good Housekeeping for six years. I have absolutely loved just being safe at home, not stuck at home.
Natalie - Sure. So, I want to go back to this word yay because it's behind you. And even as I say the word yay, I feel like I smile and it does a little pick me up. Is that intentional?
Meaghan - Its become a bit of a mantra for me. So I do something called the yay list. And the origins of the yay list and the origins of yay do come from sort of a place of sadness and a place of darkness. And I do love to give people that origin story. So, I'm along, I'm the executive editor of Good Housekeeping, life is going pretty good. And I've now married, I have three kids and I'm living fully charged and then all of a sudden my dad is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he was gone in five months. And the book is dedicated to my dad. He was my biggest cheerleader. I remember writing my first newspaper article about an exterminator and he framed it. He was just the most incredible cheerleader who really basically instilled in me ultimate confidence that everything was always possible between him and my mom and was like, you can do it. But losing him and losing him in that way was really hard and it challenged me to my core. And I tell a story about sitting with him in a chemotherapy session, him dying of stage four pancreatic cancer, he was being pumped with chemicals. And I do think that there are gifts in these moments. And it was really hard. And through tears, I sort of said to him, dad, I'm not giving up, I'll never give up, but how do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be? And he was very, very clear. And in that moment I also asked myself that same question. And for me, I knew my mandate here. I want to leave a legacy of positive energy. And so in losing him, I embarked on something called operation good grief. And that was really this very active pursuit of yay. So, every single day I would look for one thing, and in the very beginning of it it was one thing that didn't suck. Okay, there's gotta be one thing that doesn't suck today. because I had three small children, a big job, I was struggling. I missed my dad tremendously. And so I would post that thing on Instagram.
I would take a picture, a hardship foam on a latte, daffodils blooming at the end of my walk, a really great workout tank with a motivational message. Whatever it was, I would document those things and post them on Instagram with the hashtag, operation good grief. And I really created this community and I round up, of people who were also going through loss and grieving and we really became cheerleaders for each other. And I call them some of my grief mentors and my grief coaches. People who had come out the other side and showed me it was possible. And I really kept that up for like two years, operation good grief. One thing that doesn't stink, one thing that doesn't stink, share it, post it, operation good grief. But then there became a moment where I had moved through so much of that pain and I was in an okay place. And at that moment, I changed the conversation. And it became, what made you say yay today. And I really felt that what I was doing was finding the yay. And so I created a yay list. And so from operation good grief, it became the yay list. And that word really just, and everybody has different reactions to words. And so your mantra, your word. Words are so powerful. And the messages that we tell ourselves are the only messages that actually matter. But for me, yay is such a powerful word. And it inspires me and sparks me in so many ways and reminds me of my journey. So, you'll see, I think it says yay on my sweater, yay on the balloons behind me. I fill my day with yay and my goal is to help other people find that yay for themselves.
Natalie - Great. Well, we do have a question. Do you have any advice about sharing some of these ideas with children or any resources that you would recommend that you really love?
Meaghan - Yeah. I think everything starts with you. There's that old saying, put your oxygen mask on first. So if you're living this way, your kids begin to live this way because that's all they know. And so I think that's very important. It really comes down to that with kids. It's never about telling, it's mostly about showing and understanding that they're really paying attention and they're looking to you to model this behavior. So my best advice would be to dive into the book, decide what strategies and tips and tricks work for you, live your fully charged life and understand that that's going to have a trickle down effect because energy is contagious. Good ideas are contagious. That way of life, my kids, they holiday hard, they celebrate, they shout yay, their attitude of gratitude, they prioritize positivity. But not because I've told them any of that, it's because I show them all of that. But it's always about putting your oxygen mask on first.
Natalie - And I think it's so interesting because sometimes I feel like we get in this, I'm going to be in a better mood and it's always centered around the new year. Like January 1st, we're going to kill it.
Meaghan - Oh, well, that makes me want to throw up in my mouth. And when I was sitting down with Penguin Random House, I said, that's great. Yes, buy my book, I love you, this is a dream come true, but it can not come out in January. Because when people say new year, new you, I want to poke my eyes out. And that is not what this book is. That makes me nuts. And I got married on new year's eve. So I love January 1st, but I can not stand that sentiment. The time is now. The only time is now.
Natalie - Oh, you're right. And we can't waste time at all. So, you also talk a little bit about, it's not that we have to do something, that we get to do it, so it's a privilege. Can you go a little further into detail?
Meaghan - Sure. So, I think if you look at any of the research in positive psychology and people who are flourishing, researchers call happy people, flourishing. And people who are truly flourishing, one of the key characteristics is an attitude of gratitude. Happy people are grateful. They appreciate what they have, they appreciate their health, their family, they appreciate life. Now, how do you adopt an attitude of gratitude? How do you make a gratitude adjustment? When people tell me things like, well, you should keep a gratitude diary. I'm like, home, work. Like, that doesn't sound appealing to me. And hey if that works for you and you are able to keep up a gratitude diary and you're able to maintain that gratitude practice, God bless. It just doesn't work for me. Nothing that feels like homework works for me. So, how do you practice gratitude? There's a couple of different ways to trick yourself into practicing gratitude and a simple one is changing your have tos to get tos. I don't have to work out, I get to. Man, when I had COVID, how much would I have loved to have been able to work out, to have been physically healthy enough to walk around the block? No, I couldn't. But now when I get to move my body and I get to go to AKT for the first time at 6:00 AM in the morning, I get to do this. Damn, I appreciate it. Wow. I will even do that for something as crazy as laundry. I don't have to do laundry, I get to. And you know why I get to? because my kids were lucky enough to be back on a soccer field to make clothes dirty yesterday. Yay. It's those simple, simple things. I don't have to go through the bedtime routine. I don't have to do that. I get to tuck these three little humans in, I get to ask them what made them say yay today, I get to do that. I get to be safe in this home, not stuck in this home. Wow. So that's one interesting way to flip the gratitude switch without saying, I am practicing gratitude. because this doesn't work for many people. And practicing yay, creating a yay list, that's a gratitude practice. That's what that is. It's just more fun. For me going like, oh my gosh, yay, I have an orange feathery ring today. Yay! Or I got to work out, yay! Or I get to go watch my kid play soccer tonight because the sun came out, it's not raining anymore, yay! Just pausing to appreciate those little things, to prioritize positivity, to put fun on the calendar, to get excited about things. Wow. That's a gratitude practice.
Natalie - That's so good. And I think those are all key things that we can do when that negative tape starts playing. And so that actually was one of the questions in the chat so the timing couldn't have been better. Is there anything else that besides pausing and creating a yay list, sort of the reframing that we get to do these things, is there anything else that you would recommend when we're stuck in that negative loop in our head?
Meaghan - Momentum. So it's doing, not stewing. When you are stuck in that negative place, it's always an action step that propels you forward. And it doesn't matter what you're stewing about, it doesn't matter what negativity is bringing you down, it's about creating momentum. Because the way out is through. But you can't do that unless you create momentum. And that's where your toolkit comes in. You have to understand what helps you move the needle. So something for me and something I talk about in the extra charge chapter of the book is flowers. There is so much great Harvard research around the power of fresh cut flowers when you are feeling ridiculously stuck. And this sounds so frivolous and so trivial, but the research is undeniable. Something as simple as putting fresh cut flowers in your house can inch you onward. I can remember those early days of the pandemic, I buy myself flowers every Monday. And just like a grocery store bouquet, three for $12 a chop. I cut them short and tight, arrange them in mason jars, tie bows. And its been magic for me. I was missing those flowers so much in those early days of lockdown that I took scissors and I went to Daffodil Hill at the park and Mindowaskin Park in Westfield, sorry, not sorry, and I cut myself daffodils and I made myself a bouquet. And guess who felt better? Oh, this girl. I felt better. I felt better instantly. When I had COVID, one of my really good girlfriends, she's like, I'm going to FaceTime you from the flower section of Trader Joe's. I know that that is your greatest tool in your toolkit, I'm going to help you fill your house with flowers. And just flower shopping with her on FaceTime, I was like, oh my God, like, I'm inching out of this rut. And then I spent an hour arranging bouquets even in the bathroom. I'm like, where can I put flowers because I feel like S, H, I, T? I began to feel the anxiety and the stress left. And that's not what Meaghan Murphy thinks, that's what science says.
Natalie - So, let's think about science a little bit more. You talked about toxic people and sort of that energy that can affect us. Do you have any advice for dealing with family members that are toxic or controlling?
Meaghan - Well, I think the key thing in any situation is that you can't control the person, you can't control the situation, but you absolutely can control your reaction. And so, just step one is empowering yourself to realize you're actually in charge here of the most important thing, your reaction. I have a family member that pushes my button. Realizing that I don't have to let him push my button, he can say what he's going to say, but I have absolute control over whether I'll let that button pushing, press go. So, understanding that you're in control of the most important thing, your reaction, can be very, very empowering. And then creating distance where you can. Because even if you are related, it doesn't mean you have to braid each other's hair. How can you create some distance where appropriate? Understanding that this relationship is toxic. And then I think, when all of those fails, I smile. Because it's twofold. Smiling is scientifically proven to boost and encourage and improve your own mood. Just do it right now. Everybody smile. Do you feel, like there's chemical signals to your brain and you're improving your mood. And it's really hard for someone to be an a-hole to someone who's smiling that hard. One of my bumper stickers is, keep smiling, it confuses the a-holes. Okay, you're being toxic, but I'm smiling because you can't penetrate this.
Natalie - Like, you're creating a smile bubble or barrier.
Meaghan - It's like a force field. And in the process, you're affecting your own happiness. Because this signals to our brain, it sends chemicals to our brain. Facial recognition experts say, fake it till you make it. This act like, is anyone smiling right now? It's the same as when someone says posture and you're like, oh yeah, I should stand up straight. When you say a smile and you actually smile, it impacts your mood. That's the other thing too. How you carry yourself also. I love this too. Standing up straight, embodied cognition, how you carry yourself impacts your mood. So, standing with your shoulders back and down. The superhero effect, I made Ryan Seacrest wear a superhero cape on live with Kelly and Ryan. You don't have to do that, but imagine you were wearing a cape and carry yourself that way. It absolutely tells your body that you're empowered and things are getting better.
Natalie - So we've talked about smiling, standing up straight, sort of energy and momentum. What about food? Do you have any thoughts on how the foods we eat could potentially affect our attitude or even our mood?
Meaghan - The bottom line is, if you eat like crap, you'll feel like crap. And we all know that. But I am not somebody who's going to give you endless diet advice. I feel like diet, the reason the word die is in there is because it's the worst word ever. Diet But I understand that food is fuel. And there are sometimes food and there's always food. And what you eat does impact and affect your mood. So just noticing like, when I have caffeine, it impacts me this way, when I have too much sugar, it impacts me this way, when I drink in excess, it affects me this way. Understanding that food contributes to how you feel. And so, managing that without being obsessive or restrictive in any way. because die is diet.
Natalie - Okay. So no diets. How can we inspire others who have zero interest in momentum? because some people are, they just want to stay in there, like down, they be down our type of bubbles. So, what are your thoughts?
Meaghan - I don't worry about other people. And other people are probably not worried about you. I think that there's, you can be a little bit selfish in your pursuit of living fully charged. Because there's not much you can do to impact their behavior except be the best version of you and let that rub off. And that energy is contagious. Negative energy is contagious, positive energy is contagious. Really the best thing you can do to impact others, is to put on your oxygen mask first and to live in a way that feels good to you.
Natalie - Okay. We have some folks in the comments that were even saying, just digging in the dirt and finding a way to sort of ground yourself will feed your body and soul.
Meaghan - Yes. I've been known to like just take my shoes off and go stand in the backyard in the grass, just to ground myself. I sometimes lay underneath my desk. I have a standing desk. And sometimes I'll just lay on the ground under my desk just to take that second to remember to be where I am. And something I say on repeat to my family and they pattered it back to me all the time is, stay in your day, be where you are.
Natalie - Yeah. Just sort of being present a little bit.
Meaghan - It's an easy thing to say. Okay, be present, practice being present. And I have some life hacks for that too. I think a really interesting thing is just to change the way you do something to change the way you see something, which will then make you more present. So for instance, if you always walk to the ATM machine or to the bank on one side of the street, what happens when you take a different path? When you walk on a different route? You see different things, you experience different things. Maybe you trip over the sidewalk, maybe you notice a beautiful plum tree. Changing the way you see those things can be very, very important in practicing being present. Because sometimes we get on autopilot. This is the way I do this, this is where I stand in the dance class, I'm always in this spot in the front row, this is where I park my car at the grocery store, this is my spot, this is where I park. And by doing those same things on autopilot, we stopped being present, we stopped seeing, we stopped interacting. And so sometimes it's simple. I was in a I was running the same route. And I was like, I'm always waking up and I was not feeling excited and I was not feeling energized, I was dragging myself out of bed. I'm like, oh, I need to change things to change things. And so I just ran a different route and wow, I was excited about running again. I was excited about tackling my day. I had more creative thoughts. I processed, that's my dog jumping on the door. I processed more hard thoughts. So sometimes just change the way you do things to change the way you see things.
Natalie - It reminds me of, like, finding an adventure. Taking the normal things, but creating an adventure. And I think kids do that really well. They could look at a blade of grass and their imagination makes it something much more.
Meaghan - And then I talk about the power of awe in the book too and I love the science behind the power of awe. And kids are so good at that. They can look at an anthill and just marvel about how these tiny little creatures can pick up a leaf. And we don't give it a thought. We're like, okay, get the rake. But they're wondering how these little ants are colonizing and all the And sort of, what does it mean to look through the eyes of a child? To see the world through the eyes of a child? I tell a story in the book about when I was coaching softball. And my daughter hated softball. I don't even know why I was coaching. It was like torture. But there was one Friday night where a rainbow came up in the outfield. And the next thing I knew, I threw my glove down, grabbed my daughter and we ran to the outfield and danced under this rainbow. And I remember nothing about that season. I couldn't tell you what the name of our team was, I couldn't tell you what our record was, but I can tell you how magical that Friday night was. That's the power of awe. Stopping whatever it is you're doing to notice something.
Natalie - That's huge. So, I do have a question around, what if someone's feeling a sense of being unappreciated in their relationship, how do they shift and turn that feeling into more of a yay for them?
Meaghan - And that's such a crap feeling. Because we all want to be appreciated. And I think it starts with honest communication. Something I talk about in the book is to always have the hard conversation. I was doing a story on Shonda Rhimes who I just adore in Good Housekeeping and the piece of advice she gave me in that moment was, always have that hard conversation because we spend so much energy playing it out in our head and wondering what the conversation is going to look like instead of just doing it. So what would it mean to say to your spouse, I need to express to you that I don't feel appreciated? When I do this, I would love to hear this. Just having that really tough conversation and seeing if you can get what you need just by opening that Pandora's box and having that uncomfortable, perhaps tough conversation. And then also being clear that, are we also being praiseful? Are we recognizing our spouses, our significant others, our kids' contributions. I realized that my husband makes dinner and I took that for granted. I am lucky to have a husband who cooks. But I wasn't saying, wow, I love it when you do that pulled chicken with that ranch seasoning and that... That is delicious. Thank you so much. And then adding why you're appreciative. Wow, it was so nice to come home from soccer practice and to have this hot meal on the table which allowed me then to hop right on my Zoom call with a full stomach, fully focused. Understanding that, are we giving? If we don't feel like we're getting, are we giving? Let's also look at that and make sure that we're giving praise in a way that's helpful. With a little bit of gravy.
Natalie - Wow. Well, speaking of the giving piece, I do have a question around, for people who work stressful jobs and their job is actually sort of giving to other people, either listening to their problems or providing medical help, what sort of items do you have in the toolkit that can help them so that they don't continue taking on that energy and it's more of a suck so that they can have their own charge?
Meaghan - And that can be really, really challenging. So in the work charge chapter, I sort of talk about the key of job satisfaction and job happiness. And is really looking at the who, the why and the how of work. So if you're in a job like that where you're feeling drained, the who and the why are probably pretty powerful. You're making this contribution, you're saving lives or whatever. But you probably need to then focus on the how because if the process is draining, what can you do to tweak the how to feel less depleted at the end of the day? What can you pull back on? What tweaks can you make on the process and how can you look for support from other people? Are there other people that you can look to for support? We need work wives, work husbands, those colleagues that we can commiserate with, that we can share with, that can take on some of that stress and with us. That's really, really important in any work situation, is to feel like there's somebody on your level or below. You don't really want to be best friends with the boss. It's not as emotionally helpful as from a research perspective. But who is that person, the work wife, the work husband, that work spouse, that you can commiserate with and unload some of that stress and feel understood? because then again, it's about being able to feel understood and recognized in that stress.
Natalie - Well, that dovetails nicely into, how can you make sure that you're able to have a hard conversation with your boss and also manage that relationship in a positive way?
Meaghan - I think the key is that, everything needs to be done with respect, kindness. And I think that's the key is that, and I kind of outline it and there's very specific tools in the work charge chapter for sort of approaching those conversations. As someone who is a boss, I think the key too is not making the boss work so hard. So coming to the table with solutions, not just problems and attacks and doing it with respect and kindness. But that is the powerful thing is like, here's three solutions to something I perceive as a problem versus, here's a problem that you now need to solve dear boss.
Natalie - Great. Well, just one more question for you. So, it's Wednesday, it's not Taco Tuesday, but it is Cinco de Mayo. People might have a margarita or two. Selfishly, I would love to know how you're going to continue finding the yay or creating positive charge throughout the rest of your day. And how can we find you in the future?
Meaghan - Well, so we have this new thing called the wonder truck. Do you know about the wonder truck?
Natalie - No. Tell me. This is exciting.
Meaghan - It's super exciting. I live in Westfield, New Jersey and they're doing this beta program of the wonder truck. And it's a truck that's partnered with all of these restaurants like Bobby Flay and Marc Murphy and all these different restaurants. And they cook outside of your house. So you order on the app and they cook outside of your house in a truck and then they bring it to your door. And it's reasonably priced and it's delicious. And we're getting tacos cooked on our front lawn in the truck and then brought to the door tonight between a lacrosse game, a soccer practice, all the things.
Natalie - Amazing. Well, I wish I was there, but I'm not. So have a taco for me, one extra one.
Meaghan - Thank you.
Natalie - I Just want to say thank you. Thank you for being with us today, for sharing your book with us, your life hacks, your positive energy. It was very insightful. And I am sure that many of us will be able to take these practices into our everyday life. Just as a reminder to everyone, you can fill out the form in the chat to receive your copy of the book. And we are so grateful that everyone was here with us today. This event was recorded. The recording will be available on our website next week. So please visit us at firstrepublic.com to find that recording and also see our schedule of upcoming webinars. Thank you all. Thank you Meaghan. It was a pleasure. Lightning bolts are my new thing.
Meaghan - Thank you everyone.
Natalie - Bye.
Meaghan - Bye.