Polly Campbell (author of You, Recharged) practices Tomorrow Optimism to elevate her wellness, and here are some ways you can too.
I practice Tomorrow Optimism. No matter how hard things are right now, or how bad I feel today, or how crushing the disappointment, believing we can take actions that can make things a little better, actually helps them get better.
At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well-being, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep, and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity, and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body, and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.
As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Polly Campbell.
Polly is the author of You Recharged: How to Beat Fatigue (Mostly), Amp Up Your Energy (Usually), and Enjoy Your Life Again (Always), from Mango Publishing 2021, and three other books. She is the host of the podcast Polly Campbell, Simply Said, and regularly delivers inspiring keynotes and presentations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?
Thank you. Happy to be here. I’m an author, speaker, and podcast host. Mother, wife, laundry folder, grocery shopper. You know, like so many women, I’m doing a lot of things every day, but I am grateful that my career allows me to do the work I love, the work I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.
I have always wanted to write. And be Nancy Drew, but I decided to go with writing.
Since the earliest years, I’ve used words to learn and process my experiences, to entertain, and inspire others to engage in the world. Perhaps because I was diagnosed at the age of three with a debilitating disease, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, writing and reading became lifelines. They were things I could do, even on the tough days when I was aching and stiff and couldn’t participate in much. With words, I found a way to express myself and explore ideas.
I read and studied psychology, mindset, and self-help strategies to empower myself and help create the life I wanted despite adversity. And I realized early on, we all have adversity. It was a natural extension to begin writing and speaking and sharing these same topics with others. I figured if these ideas could help me, perhaps others would find value in them too.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had so many who taught me and supported me. Parents, teachers, librarians. I am grateful. But, even all these years later, it was my pediatrician, Dr. Clemens VanRooey, who reminded me that arthritis didn’t have to be a limitation. Our main limitations come from how we think about ourselves and our lives. He encouraged me, with my parents’ support, to try all kinds of things. If I didn’t like it or it was too uncomfortable, then I didn’t have to do it again. His philosophy was you don’t know what you are capable of until you try and that go-for-it attitude kept me engaged and moving and curious.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Well, I didn’t think it was humorous at the time, as a nervous college Freshman. But now, I can laugh. I was a new reporter for my college newspaper. It was an independent publication and you had to apply and interview and it was very difficult to get in. I got the job and I was thrilled. Hopped up the stairs to my desk one day, feeling awesome, and wrote my first story, an event piece from a press release. Spent a couple of hours obsessing over it, getting it just right. The editor came over, sat down at the keyboard, and edited to publish that afternoon. By the time she was done, only one of my original sentences remained. One!
I figured my career was over. I had this ache of worry in my stomach. And the crushing embarrassment of failure. I’ve had a lot of failure and rejection since then, and all of them have been easier than that moment. I learned a lot that day about persistence and determination and growth mindset. Since then, I’ve published hundreds of articles and four books. I’ve delivered keynotes to large audiences and developed a popular podcast. But I had a lot to learn then. Still do. Now, I’m glad. That’s the interesting part.
As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact, perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
Well, sure your dreams will be dashed. And other dreams will be exceeded. Life is filled with ups and downs. Trust that you can get through them. It’s the contrast that helps us become clear about what we want. You can manage the ups and downs if you are clear about your why. Why do you want this career? What will it contribute to your life? How can you use it to add value to the lives of others?
Writing helped me process and learn about my own experience, my goal is to use words to elevate others. And it has helped me create a lifestyle that was important to me, one that is creative, autonomous, flexible. The money I earn supports that, but it’s always been about the process of writing and creating, living, and inspiring that drove my “why.” Not the outcomes.
Understand what you value. Align your behaviors with what you value. And do the work that adds to those values and that will carry you through the ups and downs.
Also, I think it’s helpful to be agile. My career now doesn’t look like what I had planned, but in so many ways it’s more satisfying and rewarding than I could have anticipated. Don’t limit yourself to one goal, a specific expectation, and or a single outcome. Be adaptive. Responsive. Seek the experience. Value the process and that will help you persist.
Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?
My approach has always been to focus less on numbers and likes and more on creating an authentic connection. I share real moments, deep feelings, plenty of humor, and personal failures along with the lessons I’ve learned. Even when I’m promoting a book or an appearance, I’m upfront about it. I want to add value to the people who read or connect with the message and the only way to do that in a way that feels meaningful to me, is to be direct and straightforward. I don’t share everything, but what I do share is real. My readers know what they are getting with me and my persona online is who I am in person. My community is hugely loyal, very supportive, and just so dang encouraging, smart, and funny.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart. You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices, or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)
My body doesn’t always work very well. I wake up each morning stiff and aching. Many people can relate to chronic pain. My mental practices help me manage my physical symptoms, there are a couple of things I do every day to help my body stay strong and comfortable.
- I build in 20 minutes of movement. Vacuuming, yard work, circuit workouts, interval training, walking. Anything really. Different things, different days. Twenty minutes of movement and stretching. Many days I go longer but knowing that I just have to make my 20 takes the pressure off on the super busy days and makes it feel doable. I can always find 20 minutes. Sometimes this movement looks a lot like exercise, but I don’t call it that. Moving in my day seems more accessible, more nurturing than a mandated, must-do exercise program. Because of how I think about this, it’s easy to sustain. That helps my stiff joints stay moving, but good for the mind and the body, of course.
- I practice Tomorrow Optimism. No matter how hard things are right now, or how bad I feel today, or how crushing the disappointment, believing we can take actions that can make things a little better, actually helps them get better. Research shows, (and I write about this in You, Recharged) that grounded optimism is more of a behavior than a trait. It’s something we can all practice. It doesn’t mean we act as though everything is alright when things are an upsetting mess. We don’t pretend to be positive. We recognize the adversity, feel it, but also work to improve things. That belief transfers to healthier actions, that create better circumstances. I work on this all day long, by practice it intentionally at night right before sleep. I reflect on the day, the ups and downs, and then I pick one thing I can do tomorrow that will be fun, or interesting, one thing that will enhance my day, something I can look forward to. That helps me fall asleep on a positive note and feel energized for the day ahead.
Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)
- Morning Ritual:
I’m big on rituals or routines that take only a few minutes a day, but work to pull me out of any negative energy or stuck feelings or frustration. By changing my behaviors in small ways, it’s easier to become aware of limiting thoughts and move out of them.
I start the day with a Power Hour. Sometimes, if I wake up late, it’s a Power 10 minutes, but it still does the trick.
I quickly make my bed, do a short silent, mindful meditation, while sitting in a comfortable position on the couch. Followed by morning pages, where I write a stream of consciousness about what I’m feeling or thinking, and I end those with a gratitude list. Then, I do morning study. I’ll read a bit from an inspiring book, or a book on a topic I want to learn about. Something to get me going. I’ll spend an hour doing this ritual, or just 10 minutes, depending on my schedule. The key is to make this a sacred time. I do it the same way every day. Deliberately. It inspires me, grounds me in my own energy and awareness, and helps me to remember to be deliberate and intentional in the day.
2. Celebrate the day with Small Wins.
In the afternoon or evening, I write about or think about my Small Wins. I found I was feeling wiped out after every workday but feeling as though I hadn’t accomplished anything. When we track our smallest success, we recognize that we are moving toward our bigger dreams and also getting plenty of necessary things done even when it feels hard or as though we’ve been unproductive. That acknowledgment also creates a dopamine release that motivates us for the next day ahead or next task. Celebrate your successes. Take note of what you are doing. Pause to appreciate that you made the bed, cooked dinner for your family, finished the chapter, met with your supervisor, moved your body, connected with friends, applied for the promotion, and folded the clothes. Not only will you feel good and more motivated, but you’ll be able to see how all these small steps lead to big things. They all matter — and if they don’t, maybe it’s time to release those for something that does.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Honor your strength. My body is lumpy and stiff in places due to disease and yet I’m constantly in awe of all this it does for me. My heart beats without my conscious thought. I can smell flowers, the scent of cold rain on hot pavement. I can see the stars. It can hug my daughter. Create ideas from imagination. Instead of judging my body, I look at it with awe. I pause for a few seconds each day when I’m washing my face, or getting dressed, or petting the dog to just marvel at what my body can do. Then, I give thanks for it. It’s hard to put it down, to demean it, to make it feel ugly when it is such a marvelous and complex system that allows me to be me.
- Deliberately raise your energy. I think vitality is beautiful. Positive energy is beautiful. And we know from research that you don’t have to be thin, or rich, or young to have vitality. Studies show that even elderly people who are disabled can exude this inner energy or life force that makes them feel strong and connected to the world. And it’s contagious. When we deliberately choose to operate from a place of positive energy, not only do we have more fun, but we share all that goodness with others just by showing up. When I’m feeling that kind of vitality, I feel more connected, more creative, more beautiful. What happens inside contributes to our outer beauty.
- Hydrate. I drink a lot of water and a green smoothie each morning. It just makes me feel lighter, healthier like I’m nourishing myself. Hydration is so important to help our bodies function, and for our skin and organs. It’s an easy way to take care of my health and I feel beautiful when I’m taking care of myself.
Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?
So many! When I was a little girl dealing with the frustration of arthritis, my Dad told me about a book he was reading. The author was a “new” teacher named Wayne Dyer. Dr. Dyer talked about how the thoughts we choose can influence the quality of our lives. For a sick little kid who was frustrated with her body, this was revolutionary. Also appreciate the work of Rick Hanson and Martha Beck. And podcasts like Ten Percent Happier, with Dan Harris and The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields and Invisibilia.
Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre, or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?
When I was a kid, this little group of elderly ladies in our community who knew of my condition kept giving me copper bracelets to wear to offset the symptoms of arthritis. Don’t think it worked, but I thought it was cool to have all these bracelets that turned my little arms green.
As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’d like to develop a LifeSchool Program and help it to become a required part of our school curriculum and teachings from preschool on up.
I am personally and professionally focused on the simplest actions, behaviors, ideas that can lead to the greatest good for the widest number of people. Yet these powerful things, like conscious kindness and compassion, optimism, creativity, agility must be taught with as much attention, importance, focus as math and writing and science.
A LifeSchool curriculum would include classes and practices of kindness, compassion, mindset, emotion management, optimism. These things are so essential to personal empowerment, connection, to growth, to happiness. They are the bedrock of positive change as individuals and in the world.
I’d love to inspire a movement that includes a life skills curriculum and personal growth classes for every student. These are the things I’m also working hard to teach my daughter. LifeSchool.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
Oh yes. Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has shown us the power of authenticity and purpose. Of persistence, hard work, resilience, and mindset and stepping up and in toward the things that matter and can elevate others. She was one of the first public figures to talk about spirituality in the mainstream and that made room for me to write the books and do the work I was committed to doing. So, Oprah thank you for leading the way
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You, Recharged: Amazon https://amzn.to/37IHwhP
Polly Campbell, Simply Said https://pollycampbell.com/podcast/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Thank you for the opportunity.
How to Beat Fatigue (Mostly), Amp Up Your Energy (Usually), and Enjoy Life Again (Always)
Small Steps, Big Energy. Self-help books for women often encourage you to throw out the life you’re living and create a fresh start. You, Recharged isn’t about that. You don’t have to quit your mundane job, cut out cocktails, or sign off of social media to recharge. Instead, Polly Campbell’s inspirational book is about adding things in―good habits, practices, fun, people, activities, self-care strategies―that ignite your essential energy, the sustainable source that fires you up from within and keeps you going during the good and bad.