#278 – Becoming Flawesome With Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service on the episode today we have Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani. Kristina, welcome. Thank you Thomas for having me. You’re very welcome. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do? Well, you know, uh talking about yourself is such a wonderful topic, isn’t it? So, I wonder how, how little is a little and how, how much is too much so, officially like a very short bio. I’m a co-founder of Mind Valley. Uh probably the world’s biggest transformational platform, educational platform. Uh I’m an author and a speaker and a writer. Uh and then a lot of other things, but that’s a very short version if you want longer. Just let me know. Well, there is uh there’s something to ask you about there for sure. Um In terms of what your passion is, what you enjoy, talking about, what springs to mind for you there. Well, definitely uh what I talk about the with greatest pleasure is self love.

Well, it’s such a good topic and also it’s such a misunderstood topic, but I’m, I love to talk about anything. In fact, I sometimes love talking to people who disagree with me because it’s really stimulating and makes you wonder and ask more questions and, and learn and develop so I can talk about anything. Um, pretty much. But, uh, yeah, since it’s, I’m the guest and you would like to talk about my topic then. Self love. Is it is? Ok. Well, um, you said it was misunderstood. So I’m interested to know what, what do people get wrong about that? Well, the, probably the most common question that uh I get when I talk about self love is when, when is it too much? When does self love turn into being self obsessed or, or selfish? Uh Another big misconception about self love is that it can lead to complacency or to indulgence. And um it’s misunderstood because uh uh because all those expressions of what may seem like an excess of self love are in fact, distortions of it and in fact, uh are usually the result of lack of self love.

So it is a misunderstood topic. It is often taken very lightly. Uh And I have even uh been asked but isn’t a healthy dose of self criticism good for you? Uh isn’t uh being discontent with what you are good for you. Well, what I talk about is um actually going deep into all those concepts and, and demystifying. I think our problem is in um well, uh us as a society, as a human society, lack of self love, I think is the biggest uh problem of contemporary society because uh most of uh troubles that happen to us, whether it’s violent conflicts or the way we treat our planet Earth from over consumption, they all come uh as a result of lack of self love. So we, we either compensate for its lack or we try to, to fill the gap with all the wrong ways or uh in a very primitive example, put down others so that we feel better ourselves. This all comes from the lack of self love, from misunderstanding of self love and the fear that you might love yourself too much, or you might love yourself in the wrong way.

Uh Only shows one thing. We as a society haven’t talked about it. We don’t understand what self love really is. Well, you ended on an interesting point there because I was gonna ask about um you’ve given it some thought. So what’s the definition? How would you explain that that word in terms of what it means? Wow. I have never given it. It’s so funny, isn’t it? You just called me in a very tricky situation because I do talk about self love a lot. I love to talk about that, but I’ve never given it a definition because it seems like such an self explanatory thing. And uh a lot of the misconceptions um come when we look deeper into, into the phenomenon of self love. But I would say that first of all, we don’t have a, an appropriate word for love per se. Uh Because we very often when we use the word love, we are not sure. Uh Are we talking about the romantic type of love, the love, which is unconditional or the generic, superficial type of love which we just tend to feel towards the whole of humanity. Uh And when it’s, when love is turned on to yourself, it becomes particularly tricky. So, um I don’t dare to give a definition like this on the go.

But I, I guess I’ll spend the next few weeks thinking about it because I’ve never been asked this question. But what I will say is, um, I think your relationship with the world is a reflection of your relationship with yourself. So, uh while I’m not able to define self love right now in this episode, what I am able to define is, you know, if, uh you, you have, you have issues with the, with your environment, with, with the, your um surroundings, with the world to the extent that you have issues with yourself. And that brings me back to the same idea, you know, if we were at peace with ourselves, we’d actually leave the world at peace as well and we’d have less problems, less conflicts and, and humanity would be in a better place. So it takes us nicely onto a, as someone who has, um some experience in, let’s say, reflecting on this topic, how good would you say that you are um at the topic of self loud, like for yourself. Uh I think I’m, I’m quite ok.

I, that doesn’t mean that I am not, um occasionally mean to myself. We all are more than we would like to admit. Uh And um it’s, you, you see, uh so I’ve written a book called Becoming Floss. So I’m not um a huge fan of perfectionism, although I am a perfectionist, I’m never recovering perfectionist. So I’m not looking for perfection and self love. I am looking uh into intention and my intention is to uh be my biggest supporter and uh and to always be on my own side. Uh And I know it might sound wrong. Uh but um it doesn’t bother me that it might sound so sound wrong. But we, we really need to, to go deeper into uh understanding uh why I say that there is no such thing as too much self love and why II I promote it so much uh to, to actually accept the idea that I, I want to be my biggest support. I want to be my biggest.

I al I always want to have my, my side. Uh And again, that doesn’t mean that I won’t change. Um Or I won’t admit that I’m wrong. You see, that’s another distortion of self love. Uh You, you, you might be afraid to say I want to always have my corner or to always be on my side because you think that that will make you stuck in your opinions, but we are stuck in our opinions. Exactly, because we don’t have enough self love. So we think that if we admit that we are wrong, we are not worthy of love. That’s why very often we, we, we are, uh, bigheaded and, and are unwilling to change or unwilling to make a, uh, to admit mistakes because we are trained from childhood, that love needs to be earned. And we do that to ourselves. We actually, uh when, when we are Children, we, we know that you have to behave well so that your parents are uh happy with you and they love you. Uh you have to study well and be a good student so that your teachers love you. We learn that love needs to be earned.

And the moment you uh misbehave love is uh taken back. And because uh our peers often um use love as a currency. We grow up knowing that to love, to love yourself, you need to earn it. And we start, we, we, we keep, we keep that thing going. Um And I think that’s uh that, that’s a huge tragedy because we are never going to be perfect. No one is ever going to be perfect. All it does is uh uh you know, when uh basically what happens is that if my idea of uh of perfection is very far away from reality, this gap between the uh the idea of what is perfect, perfect me or perfect world or perfect happiness or perfect love versus the reality. If this gap is unbearable, I’m going to fill it with uh all sorts of stories and um delusions and, and um all sorts of uh tricks so that I can actually accept the fact that my reality is very different from what I’m striving for.

And uh and that actually leads us to a very, to a very dark place, a place where we are not even aware of what, uh, what it is to be you, what it is to, what is the real you, when was the last time you saw the real You? And I’m not talking about you directly, of course. Um, but yeah, II, I went on a long rant about self love and, and how it’s never too much that was interesting to, er, to reflect on in terms of what a healthy amount. Uh, I, I say healthy amount because I’ve got that thing in my head which is like, um, you don’t wanna do it too much, you know, it’s in, it’s in the back of my mind there. But how does it look in terms of how, how would someone be with themselves or treat themselves if they did, um, have self love? Uh, my favorite, um, my favorite measuring stick of self love is, um, love for Children. Uh, I’m lucky to have Children and to actually love them unconditionally, I don’t think.

Well, first of all, not everybody has Children and not everybody loves their Children. Unfortunately, as, as horrible as it may sound. Uh, but, um, whenever I’m in doubt I ask myself, would I treat my child this way? Because, uh, really when I got Children, that’s when I learned the idea of unconditional love where I’m willing to, to do anything and to, uh, you know, to, to put them first and to make sure that they, they’re safe, that they’re safe and, and um well, they’re safe. Basically, that’s as much as I can give them because happiness is their happiness is not in my hands. Um And uh whenever I’m in doubt, I ask myself, would I treat my child this way? Uh That’s, that’s my measuring stick for a healthy self love. Uh Now when it comes to too much, you know why I say that uh selfishness, self, self obsession is not uh a surplus of self love because in essence, what self obsession or selfishness means is when you expect the world to admire you, you actually suck up the love from your environment because you don’t have enough in you.

So if I don’t have enough in myself, enough love, I need that approval from other people. I need them to tell me that I’m lovable because I can’t give it to myself. So it’s similar to uh I have a bottle here. Unfortunately, it’s empty already because I’ve been drinking with water. But let’s say if, if love is the water in this bottle, you can only pour it from outside if it has emptiness. So if, if your love, if your self love is the water in the bottle, the moment you have it full, you can’t pour anything from the outside. You start pouring, it will start overflowing. So that’s, that’s the idea for me that there is never enough. Uh There is never too much, not enough enough. There is enough stuff love, but there’s never too much. Uh Because if you have enough, you will share it to the world. If you don’t have enough, you will start sucking it up from the world. It’s a great answer. It’s a really interesting concept as well. Um Does the uh Floss concept is that uh interlinked or is it separate? Uh So is about um it’s about embracing your imperfections. Uh because that’s probably one of the reasons why we struggle with self love is because we can’t uh we can’t face our imperfections.

We can’t come to peace with them. So uh a crucial uh piece of uh learning to love yourself is uh learning to love your flaws. I like to call them dragons because it’s more visual. And I think we all have those drag dragons in the dungeons of our castles. They are somewhere in the corners where we never go and we uh try to ignore that they’re there. Um And, um, so the main message of the book is that you have to come to peace with the, with your dragons or with your flaws with your imperfections, uh, and learn to love yourself, not despite your dragons, but with them and maybe even for them because it is the things, it is very often the things that we are ashamed of that, uh, hold our greatest value for the world, in fact, because imagine if everybody was perfect, it would be a pretty scary environment. Pretty scary society. It’s very often from our mistakes, from our pain, from our feelings.

Uh where we we, we get that value that we later have to share with the world. Yes. Uh Overcoming some of those adversities, which gives them value, I suppose. Would you say that’s right. Uh Yes, I it’s, it’s another interesting topic because uh we have this uh simplified version of, you know, once you fail, uh you get up and then you become better, you know, coming back stories and whatnot. But um that’s unfortunately not the case and very often um pain doesn’t guarantee uh growth. Not at all. If that was the case, we’d be surrounded by beautiful people because we all suffer every single human being on this world suffers. I’m actually uh loosely quoting one of our authors. Uh he’s a Buddhist monk, so he, he uses the worst suffering, but we can uh put it into everyday life terms, we all have our, our struggles and our pains. So it’s not really the question of um of uh being in pain from time to time per se. It’s a question of does it make you better or does it make you worse? So, let’s say if you have a wound, uh it can heal beautifully, but it can also scar and scar.

Is this um thicker tissue. So, very often when a person is hurt, they don’t become better. Unfortunately, they grow, they grow maybe a thicker skin or build a wall. And uh if you look, uh of course, maybe movies is not a very good example, but they, they do represent some ideas of real life. Uh Usually the biggest villains are the people who have been through a lot of pain. Well, Daph Vader is the first one that comes to mind. But um but in even in real life, hurt people, hurt people. So pain per se is not a guarantee of growth and becoming better. I think that transformation is a sign of healing. It’s when you heal from your pain, that’s when you become better. So, yeah, I don’t really talk in my book uh or in my teachings about uh the experience of um hurting so much. Uh I, I do talk more about uh the parts of you which are so uh so in you that you might not even remember where they came from or what triggered or where they came, uh, how, how did they even start?

So I’m talking about the things that make us, um, shrink or feel ashamed, uh, and facing those sides, uh, and, and facing those dragons and, and finding place in your heart for them. Is this some something that you had to go through yourself and you’re helping other people with that as well? But I wouldn’t take my own experience uh for it. So, for example, when I was writing a book, whenever I made a statement, I would say, OK, wait a minute. Is that Christi a fact or is that actually a fact? And then I’d go and research if there’s any if and, and look for research, that proves that this is the case. For example, I said once that, oh, women are more critical, turns out we are more critical than men when it comes to appearance at least. So I definitely have had this experience. Um But I’ve also uh lived a fairly long life in, in, in close connection with people in my life, whether it’s my parents or my Children. And I take everything as a study. Uh So my personal experience was um probably not as dramatic as it might seem, but I, I am a perfectionist, as I said, and a um ambitious uh hyper achieving person.

So by the age of 40 I had built um the successful life by uh definition of society. You actually wanted to ask me about success. Uh So I, I had it instagrammable, perfectly instagrammable, you know, husband, two Children, a boy and a girl. Uh not just any two Children, a boy and a girl and a job that I loved traveling the world partying, uh costume parties, like celebrities, whatnot. And uh still I felt when I had the courage to be honest with myself, something was off. So what triggered my uh journey of self discovery was not the fact that I was not feeling happy in my achievements, but the fact that I felt ashamed of her, not feeling happy. So it was, it was not so much the pain that I was experienced, but the fact that I couldn’t accept it, that I thought that it was wrong to feel it. And I thought that something was wrong with me and that uh I, I can’t, I can’t afford it because the better version of me wouldn’t do this. And that’s what triggered my journey of transformation. So as I said, it’s not terribly dramatic, but it did make me ask a lot of questions and unfortunately pass back to yourself as a one way journey.

It’s like jumping out of the plane. Once you’re out, you can’t pack up your parachute and go back. So once I started asking questions and uh poking my nose in the dark, darker corners of my dungeon, there was no turning back and you know, II I love to quote um to quote and I’m sorry for quoting Lord of the Rings. But there’s this, there’s this little dialogue where I think it’s either Frodo or Bilbo, which is, which would be actually the hobbit. But one of those characters says to Gandalf, can you promise me that? I’ll be back and Gandalf says no. And even if you are, you won’t be the same old hobbit. And that’s the, that’s the tricky thing. Uh Once you go on the path of self discovery, you might be ok, but your life might, might not, might not actually fit you anymore. And if I follow up on this, uh is it spoilers to ask about, you know, what did you learn or how did you change? Is that? Oh, yes, I took a sledgehammer and smashed everything into the pieces.

Uh It’s not spoilers. Uh We um a lot of things changed. Yes. At first I took a sabbatical because I did like all the other people do. I fixed everything, but I, I fixed everything except the important things because it’s so, it’s so cool to keep yourself busy, uh busy with uh less scary tasks which are also important uh and avoid the scary things. So I first took sabbatical, I used to do a lot of marketing uh before, but then I realized that was not making me happy anymore. So I’ve discovered the writer part of me, which actually opened up the doors to me, becoming a speaker and an author and, uh, a lot of other things which I enjoy so much more. I’ve rethought a lot of my life. Uh, but I think, uh, the painful change that happened was that we separated with my husband. We have beautiful relationship right now. But, um, it, it, it was a painful experience and that was the one which I was more scared of. Well, thank you for sharing it in terms of, um, your, let’s say, favorite chapter of the book.

Is there anything that springs to mind then? Yes, I love the, just for the context, you know, how people can make fun of themselves but not of others. So uh because I’ve been in personal growth for 20 years, I like to take uh sorry for the expression, take a piss at our industry. So I believe I’ve, I’ve uh put a lot of work into forming some part of it. So I, I occasionally take uh take a very sarcastic look at some of the things. So my favorite chapter probably is called The Weapon of Love where I talk about spiritual bypassing. OK. Well, I haven’t heard that term before. So um what does that mean? So, spiritual bypassing is an umbrella term which uh unites uh quite a lot of um a lot of mechanisms which are called uh defense mechanisms in psychology. But the term was coined by um uh he’s a writer and also, and also uh Abu Buddhist monk from us. Um uh He, he coined the term spiritual bypassing.

So how he uh I actually don’t remember. It’s Thomas Wellw Wod. I think I, I’m a little bit vague on the name, but I think it’s Thomas Wellw Wod. Uh He coined the term spiritual bypassing and explained it where you uh hide behind spiritual concepts to not deal with the painful emotions in your life, the painful sit situations and circumstances in your life. Again, I’m using it a little bit loosely right now, the quote. But basically, uh if, if you’re more into psychology and less into spiritual lingo, then in psychology, it’s called um defense mechanism. So what it means is that if you’re facing an emotion that you’re not ready to embrace it or even admit that you have it. Uh like, for example, if you’re in personal growth and you are a huge advocate of love and, and um acceptance and tolerance and then you meet someone who really uh triggers you and you might feel uh displeasure or anger or even rage towards that person. But being in spiritual uh niche, you might not um admit that this emotion is something that you are capable of feeling because you are uh you know, a spiritual person who spent years uh years uh working on becoming a better human being.

So what happens is that when we feel this kind of um contradiction or cognitive dissonance, where what you feel is not something that you’re willing to accept, you start filling that gap with uh all sorts of uh coping mechanisms or defense mechanisms, how, how they’re known in uh in psychology. Uh a very um illustrative example would be if, if a loved person dies and you hear the news, your first reaction might be denial, it can’t be happening or let’s say, uh a slightly less dramatic when COVID started a lot of uh us denied the or distorted the reality, thinking that this is something very uh maybe short term and and will pass and it’s not serious. And uh you know, in the very beginning, we might not have realized that it will take years for the humanity to maybe move on. Uh That’s so I, I just mentioned two coping mechanisms or defense mechanisms. One is denial when you deny and of course, you get out of that and eventually you’ll accept the fact. The other one is distortion where you might actually distort the reality so that it’s more palatable.

And there are loads of those coping mechanisms. Spiritual bypassing is an umbrella term to them. And it actually only refers to uh using coping mechanisms in the uh spiritual context or spiritual teachings and learning. So some of the uh defense mechanisms in psychology are not strictly speaking spiritual. So, so they, they wouldn’t go under that umbrella. And what made that your favorite chapter? Um because it’s unexpected, I’m in this industry for a long time and people, uh, sometimes don’t expect me to say something like this because you’re supposed to have done all that work. Is that what you mean? I am generally not a very, um, a hard person on other people, especially when it’s in teaching. In, in private life, it’s different. Probably. I do not know, but in teaching I, I don’t, I’m not a huge fan of tough love, uh, idea. Uh, so I generally don’t um make people feel uh bad about what they are, but I do ask them questions which uh may uh lead them on that path.

So that’s the only chapter where I’m a little bit more transparent and I can actually say directly that this is not cool. OK, that’s interesting. So the, the, the part which is bordering on tough love or maybe leads them down a path they don’t want to go to is your favorite chaplain. Uh It’s not tough love. I’m not seeing it out of love. I’m seeing it out of frustration out of being on the receiving end of spiritual bypassing because it’s, it’s not really. So you see defense mechanisms are bad for you from a psychological point of view because you uh you distort your reality, you lie to yourself through, through a, applying those defense mechanisms. You don’t deal with the, with the issue at hand. Uh spiritual bypassing uh actually turns it from your relationship with yourself to a relationship with the world and it’s very often harmful to your environment because what it does is that it leads to dismiss other people’s feelings. For example, you uh you know, why, why are you so dramatic? You’re not. Uh or, or the favorite, the favorite term of contemporary society for first world problems, you know, positivity, good vibes only and so on.

So you dismiss other people’s experiences, feelings very often uh hiding behind uh high concepts of spirituality. Uh It often, it often justifies suffering. It often uh turns the tables and you refuse to take responsibility. Uh Like I do not know if you’ve experienced that. I’ve experienced that many times. Oh But I only have love for you and you, and you feel almost that you, you feel scared of hearing that phrase in certain circumstances. If you feel that something is off and you say, hey, do you have a problem with me? And the person tells you no, I only have love for you. I love everyone. That’s when you are, when the tables turn and the person rather than taking responsibility that yes, there’s a conflict and that doesn’t make you a bad person, another person, a bad person. It, it kind of takes, withdraws your responsibility. Oh, no, but I only have love. You’re the one who is dramatic. So because I’ve been on the receiving end of spiritual bypassing. So I can’t say that I wrote that chapter out of huge love. Although Neil Don Walsh would say that everything is done out of love.

I think I, I wrote it out of pain. Well, thank you for sharing that again. And I, I must admit I’ve been uh guilty of, of using that term. Um, that sounds like a first world problem. Um And as you say, not acknowledging the feelings that that person perhaps has, is there a better phrase that you’d replace that with? Hm. Well, uh, that’s such an interesting conversation because it does depend on circumstances. So the question is if somebody is, um my, my, my initial reaction to that would be who am I to judge? So if somebody shares something that I can’t relate to, uh I wouldn’t normally um point out that uh their problems is something that I don’t relate to and I don’t know how to comment. But if they ask me for opinion, I might say that unfortunately, I don’t know what to tell you. Like, I haven’t thought about that. Uh So I guess, um my question, my position is more like who am I to judge? I don’t want to tell people. Uh, do they have the right for this experience or not? But uh sharing other people’s feelings and empathy is actually another very interesting topic.

We are not taught proper empathy. So very often when we hear the problem, especially, not just the problem that we can’t relate to, but the problem that uh we maybe can relate to we are tempted to, uh, to go into, oh, yeah, I felt ii I know how you feel or, or let me share my own experience where I felt similar, so similar thing to you. So we’re not really taught proper empathy and if you take it into extreme, uh we’re not taught how to witness other people’s sadness and grief or anger and we’re very uncomfortable with other people’s uh uncomfortable emotions or painful emotions. So when it comes to first world problems or problems that I don’t relate to and I, I’m not, I judge people too. I just don’t, I mean, I’m human like everybody because sometimes there’s pleasure in judging other people. You feel better. Like look at you, I’m so much better than you. But that aside, I attempt not to express my judgment to uh uh to people’s face because who am I to judge maybe what they share with you is their last drop.

We don’t know what was their story? Maybe it is a very serious problem but for them because they have uh a trauma that triggers uh in I am sometimes triggered by very strange things which other people might think. Not a big deal. But if they don’t know why uh what, what kind of pain triggers intense reaction in me to something which might, for example, I really dislike. When people tell me relax, it creates a completely opposite reaction. And we had this chat with my mom recently and she said no, but that’s, that’s a supportive saying, in my opinion, it’s an aggressive saying. So you might judge me for, for being emotional or, uh, or, or, I don’t know, uh dramatic, but without knowing why do I react this way to it, you know, who am I to judge other people? So, since I don’t know why, why they express themselves the way express, they, they express themselves, I, I have literally just want two choices. One choice is if, if it’s unpleasant to me and it triggers me, remove myself from the situation and not listen to that kind of whining and complaining or another choice if I do want to, to be helpful is to try to find out.

Why do you feel this way? Why do, why does it upset you so much? Try to understand the person but judging them is not my job. And here I would like to encourage people to see a movie wonder because it’s such a beautiful movie which exactly shows shows how we don’t know the full picture. Usually before we judge someone and once we know the full picture, sometimes our, um, our, um, attitude to that situation or to that person changes. Yeah, 100% agree. Um, coming back to the book for a second. Is it the third book that you’ve written? Is that correct? Oh, well, I’ve written a lot, probably worth of 10 books, but it’s my first book. Baby. I have created um three programs, actually four by now, four programs which are uh book volume, book volume, but it’s my first book, book, like real book. Well, congratulations for that. Yes, I’m excited to, to release it to the world.

I can’t wait for it. Uh Are you proud to become an author? Um I’m, it’s so good. It’s a good question. It will expose me. So, since I’m in personal growth and transformation for 20 years, of course, I’ve always thought that I have to become an author. It’s like, you know, those goals that we all have never uh without even questioning. So I’ve always known that I have to write a book. But my greatest pleasure and pride is not in the fact that I have written a book, but in the message that I’ve put in there because I, I believe in my, in the message in my book more than in everything else that comes around it. And that’s why I can’t wait for it to come out. Of course, I’m going to attempt to become a New York Times best seller. So I’ll do a lot of marketing and, and speaking and promoting. Um But um and of course, there is a part of me that wants the, the crown, but I think what makes me proud is the message that I have for the world. Well, that certainly makes it a lot easier to sell, right when you’re very proud of your product. Yes, definitely.

And did you enjoy writing it? Yes, very much. I can’t wait for it to go through all the uh final editing so that I, I am released to start birthing. The next one I love, I just love the process. I started associating myself with being a writer. I mean, I’ve lived a long enough life so I’ve, I’ve been an entrepreneur, a marketer and also and whatnot. But I think writer is the thing that I enjoy the most and some of your biggest challenges with it along the way. Uh That English is not my first or my second language. I still make a lot of mistakes. And the more I write, the more I see them. So, yeah, and the more, the more editors go, go through my book, the more I, I am conscious of them. OK? And uh if someone was, let’s say you, someone else wanted to become an author, they looked at you and they thought, you know, I’d, I’d love to do that. What’s the best advice that you could give them? Oh, gosh, that’s um you know, I love uh I love books. I love literature, but I love uh literature, literature, like books which are written from the heart um not to sell.

And that’s, and that’s a tricky thing as a business person, as a business woman, I would say that if you have a message and you want to write a book you should go for that. But as a, a connoisseur of literature, I would say only write if your heart is ready to write. And that would be probably very limiting for a lot of people because not everybody is uh a write at heart, but they might still have a good message and the message uh probably uh needs to be seen and read. So I’m not a good person to, to inspire people to write because I am a snob when it comes to writing and, and, and reading. No, it’s honest. So, thank you for that. And you’ve mentioned um the business side uh Mind Valley a couple of times and I, I actually am aware of Mind Valley. So it’s, it’s quite a big company. Is that right? Well, yes, is there a story there that you would share? Uh Well, um Yeah. So we are the uh biggest educational platform in the uh area of transformation, personal growth and transformation. Uh And uh of course, there, there are other big traditional publishers in our niche as well.

Uh So, uh we, we uh we specialize on um on uh well, prerecorded courses and events. Uh but, and, and work with some of the best authors in the world. But the story is uh it’s funny, I, I was, I grew up and I was brought up in Soviet Union. I mean, II, I was born and grew up in Soviet Union uh where we only valued academic and scientific knowledge and um anything which was uh something else, especially, especially about how to live properly uh that was frowned upon. So I remember when I was first introduced to uh John Gray’s book, uh Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. My, my comment was like, what you want me to learn how to love. No, I’m supposed to know that. So I ended up in personal growth by accident because my then husband, he was passionate about it. And I had made my career in Estonia in Europe, in per uh in, in government. And when I got married, I moved to us and I had to reinvent myself from, from zero. So the best thing I, I figured I could, I could do was to help my husband with his uh his business.

So I ended up in Mind Valley and in business and in personal growth uh in a way by accident, it wasn’t my conscious choice uh from the very beginning. Uh And but, but Mind Valley was uh a passion story for my then husband vision. Of course, in 20 years, it would be really tragic if I didn’t learn to love that industry. And it is, I, I can’t imagine my life different right now. I if, if I think of having started my career in, in politics, it just horrifies me. Uh So I did learn to love it, but it wasn’t a conscious choice and I did learn to love business. Another thing which was a taboo in Soviet Union. We, you, you would get jailed for attempting to do business and I discovered that these, these things uh I, I love them and um I’m good in them. So, yeah, sometimes, you know, sometimes you don’t have to make a conscious choice. You have to just trust the process sometimes. Yeah. Well, you mentioned um the, the Soviet Union a couple of times. I’m, I’m not that good with my history. I’m sorry to say. Um So I don’t know a lot about the Soviet Union.

I don’t necessarily know what you went through there. Um In terms of biggest contrasts um of where you are now or the kind of freedom you have or whatever, versus what you had. What would you say? What would you share with me given the fact that I’m moderately ignorant about the topic? You know, I have to confess since I learned history initially in the Soviet educating system. I don’t know. Uh I didn’t know the uh exact true history of the world, which wasn’t, which wasn’t tainted by the propaganda Soviet propaganda. So it’s, it’s fine. I mean, we all know we, we all usually see the world uh through our own lens, through our own experience wherever you grow up. So it’s fine. Uh II I don’t find, it’s weird. Uh I think the closest comparison would be North Korea, except the Soviet Union was massive. Uh And North Korea is just a tiny country, but it was in a sense, very similar as it was very, um very uh walled off from the rest of the world.

Soviet Union was big. So I didn’t have an impression that I was in a prison. We got to travel long distances. We, I think there were 12 time zones in the Soviet Union. So pretty, pretty big territory. Uh and all sorts of different climates. So I, I didn’t have the feeling like I didn’t know the world, but of course, you couldn’t travel anywhere. Uh You didn’t have passports, you had internal passports which were not usable uh for travel abroad and to go abroad, you had to get a permission from, from the government. Uh doing business was illegal. Everything was state planned state reduced, uh which also, of course, led to very weak economy and uh shortage of things. So you learn to uh to go by with the, with the small things. And uh I even had a half a plan to write a book, a humorous book about life on planet USA. But unfortunately, the war, I mean Russia attacked Ukraine, the war started and I don’t feel, uh I don’t feel good anymore to, to take uh to, to make, to make this book light because I think Soviet Union uh in a political terms was a huge disaster.

My personal experience was probably light uh because I was 14 when it collapsed, uh, it collapsed without bloodshed, at least, uh, in Estonia. Uh, so it, it was easy for me. Uh, but right now I see that it, it was a huge tragedy for a lot of people who were part of this, uh, huge empire. And I, I take back my humor, humorous approach to that. But we were humans and we live, we lived human lives and we had our similar dreams to everyone else, but we didn’t have certain things. Well, I appreciate your answer. And it is a shame because if you had have written the book, I might be more informed now than I am. So, you know, there might, there may still be a book there. You never know. Right. They, yeah. Yes. It was a, it was interesting. The experience was interesting and some people I remember I shared some things on Instagram about my weird habits. Uh, for example, I can’t sit properly at a dinner table. I turn my legs to the side because, uh, we had very small apartments. So, uh, we, we didn’t have space for dining tables.

So we actually used cupboards and, uh, since childhood, I’m, I, I’ve learned to sit with my legs outside. So, and I remember when I shared some of those stories, um, some of my audience actually wrote back and, and they’re like, yes, I can relate. And obviously all those people had lived in Soviet Union. It’s so strange. Because we have those very bizarre experiences that we all understand but other people don’t. Well, um, maybe for people like me, the book still could, could be made, you never know. Maybe it depends on how the law ends. Good point. Um, I, I did ask beforehand and you, you referenced it. Um, I like to ask for everyone who comes on. What does success mean to you? Wow. So, um, I actually like to call the words by their own uh names. And since majority of society understands success in unfortunately, financial and uh achievement, goal, goal, achievement uh terms, when I talk about success, I talk in those terms in the terms that everybody understands when it comes to my personal experience, I think happiness is more important than success in that sense, success in that sense.

So I wouldn’t call myself a success unless I was also content unless I also loved myself, unless I was kind to my imperfections and failures unless I had a meaningful life. But when I talk about success with people, I stick to the uh meaning that society generally gives to it, which means you have a, a hefty bank account and uh job where you have achieved something. It’s an interesting answer because I have had someone sort of just say, you know, it just means happiness to me. Um But, and I think people do use it um as exactly as you have said. So everyone will have their own kind of meaning of what it means. But everyone kind of uses the same definition which is like, you know, bank account and cars and all that stuff. So it’s very interesting, you know, uh I would go further than that because I think we should just let success be and admit that happiness is also important because why do we try to change the terms?

I, I think that we often uh try to give success a lot of other meanings because we don’t solve other problems in our lives. So sometimes when we look at the person who has a lot of money but is uh unhealthy unhappy, we say they are not successful, of course, in health terms, they’re not successful because that’s a success in health which, you know, if you add in health, it makes it kind of clear what you’re talking about. Uh But that also makes us feel better. Oh, but at least they’re unhappy. So is that really about that person’s success in the sense that everybody understands this word? Or is it about our perception of that person and that person’s, you know, financial success, let’s say so that’s why I, I do like to call uh phenomenal by their proper names because that doesn’t give you an escape. Because if I talk about myself and I say, yeah, maybe I can’t afford something basic or let’s say maybe I, I struggle with finances but I have a job which is meaningful. And I have an audience which loves me and I actually have a good partner and I’m healthy.

So I’m successful. No, you’re not. You have succeeded in many areas of your life, but you have not succeeded financially. And let’s be honest with that. So very time, we are very often, we are tempted to give uh to, to mud this uh term so that we feel better about ourselves. But lets le let’s leave success and admit that happiness is important but we can’t. And I’ve been in Bruton grows for a long time. And if you ask people, nobody, nobody has, I want to be happy on the uh goal list for the year, we think this is a fluffy irrelevant topic. In fact, if you listen to the public discourse on happiness, people will tell you, oh no, don’t strive to be happy, strive for a meaningful life. Strive for this strive for that but just not to be happy. That isn’t that ridiculous? Like if you want to be healthy, you have to work on your health. If you want to have good relationships, you have to work on your relationships. Why is it if you want to be happy and everybody wants to be happy, you should not work on this. How is it going to happen out of the blue? And by the way, we all want to be happy, even if we don’t admit that because look at what what do parents want for their beloved Children?

Happiness? What do we wish each other happy birthday happy, this happy that we want happiness. We just don’t have the guts to admit that we want happiness and it is important. So we model the idea of success. So can I interpret your answer as you’d prefer to be happy than successful? Yes. But I’m successful too, by the way, and by the way, there’s research because I’ve looked into that. Uh, and you don’t need research to know that success doesn’t give you happiness because we, we’ve seen massively successful whether you take, uh, finances or achievements, accomplishments, fame as success measurement. We’ve seen a lot of successful people who are either depressed or incredibly unhealthy or actually have killed themselves. So we all know that success doesn’t bring happiness. But there’s research that shows that there is connection between success and happiness. The causality goes the other way. You’re much more likely to achieve success if you are doing whatever you’re doing in the state of happiness. So I do value happiness above success. Yes. Well, thank you for the answer. It’s, it’s probably a more, uh, in depth answer than, than I’ve ever gotten on the topic.

So I appreciate it. Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think I trust, I trust that whatever needed to be said was said, ok, well, um, have you got any closing thoughts for us. Um I, you know, uh there are so many things that I would like to say and we started with self love and I would uh I would like to say that self love is a prerequisite for happiness. You can’t be truly happy unless you, I mean, if you don’t love yourself, it’s almost impossible to be truly happy. Uh So I would like to say that but since we ended up with happiness, I want to share a story. Uh a very short story uh to give you permission to, to actually value happiness. I remember years ago, I used to work with refugees in Malaysia because uh that social side of me is super strong. So on one side, I was an entrepreneur and we were building um Mind Valley Company that teaches people to live happy, fulfilled, extraordinary lives. And on the other side, I was working with refugees in Malaysia.

So I’ve seen on a daily basis, people who had lost everything in their lives and and was still unsafe. And then I had a chance to ask, we had an audience with the Dalai Lama at one of the events where uh where, where vision was speaking, my, my ex-husband. And I asked uh I asked Dalai Lama this question because I was feeling torn. I asked him, how can I reconcile these two worlds? Because on one side, I see a lot of human suffering. But on the other side, I try to teach people that they should be happy and it just, I had such a strong um you know, contradiction inside of me doing two things. And his answer was super simple. He said Christina, you can’t help anyone if you’re not happy. So I think it is a very important thing. Dalai Lama gave me permission to be happy. I want to pass it on to our audience. You can’t help anyone. If you’re not happy, you’re giving people permission to be happy to i in giving them permission to actually prioritize their own happiness. It’s a great way to end the episode for people who want to connect with you or maybe buy the book.

Where do they go? So, uh the best way to connect with me is Instagram, but I’ve been so busy lately that I didn’t publish her as regularly as I used to, but this is completely my self-expression. It’s just me writing. Uh and my book is Christina dot com slash book. Uh That’s, that’s where once it goes on sale, you’ll be able to buy it. It’s there for now. It’s uh it’s just preregistering so that I can let people know when, when it’s available to buy. Ok. Well, Christina, I think you’ve been a great guest today. So thank you very much. Thank you so much for having me

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