“Understand what you really want”

Understand what you really want: Now that you have a better understanding of your current state, it’s time to think about your future. Many of us have been told what things we need to be happy (i.e. lots of money, a big house, etc.), but the secret to happiness is knowing what that looks like for YOU. Grab some visual inspiration to help you and make a vision board to answer this question: what does a joyful life look like to you in 6 months to a year? Or even 3–5 years? Give yourself some time because change takes time, but once you have an understanding of what you want, you’ll likely feel a mood boost right away.

It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Lewis.

Elizabeth Lewis is the founder and CEO of Brand, Style & Bloom; she helps professionals get noticed to achieve their vision of success, using personal branding and personal styling as tools. She has worked with companies such as Disney, UBS and Booz Allen Hamilton, and has been featured in Entrepreneur. You can find out more about her and her company at www.brandstylebloom.com and get her tips by following her on Instagram @brand_style_bloom.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

As a young, extremely shy kid growing up in Tennessee, creativity and fashion helped me to express myself to others. I loved dressing up in my mom’s oversized cocktail attire and high heels, making up fanciful stories in my head about where I was going and who I would meet. Of course, my outfit was not complete without a cocktail ring, in the form of a Ring Pop. I made shoes out of construction paper and uncomfortably walked around our concrete porch in them. I also had an early entrepreneurial streak. I started a company where I made handmade greeting cards and sold them to my mom’s friends, under the banner of The Sunshine Greeting Card Company.

I finally began to overcome my shyness after joining my middle school band and playing the flute. Finally, I had found a group of fellow creative souls who I felt I could be myself with. One thing that remained constant as I became more outgoing was my love of fashion and its ability to help me to express myself. It never left me, even when I pursued other career paths. But at last, fashion is at the forefront of what I do, and I feel so at home.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I started my company, Brand, Style & Bloom, in 2019. Before that, I worked in corporate at a large consumer goods firm, and that is where the idea of my company started to form. In my role as a brand manager, I worked extensively on packaging for new products. The final packaging took a LOT of time and senior approvals and at first, I wasn’t sure why we spent so much time on it. But as I matured in my role, I came to understand that much of the success of a new product depended on its ability to stand out on the store shelf and capture a shopper’s attention, especially new products that don’t get a huge advertising budget.

I started comparing this to people. Like products, we can have the best ingredients inside of us but if we don’t know which ones to develop to help us achieve our goals, and if we don’t know how to express them externally (because let’s face it, we rarely get where we want to go on our own), we risk never reaching our goals. I love helping people reach their potential and am so passionate about what I do!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of great mentors, but I have to give this one to my parents. They have ALWAYS believed in me, and as I have gotten older, I see how rare this is. When I told them I wanted to take a leap of faith to start my company and leave my well-paid corporate job behind (while living in Manhattan, no less), I expected them to look at me like I was crazy as many of my friends did. But they saw past the risk and noticed my passion, excitement, and grit. They supported me like crazy and I really owe them everything.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

When I told people I was starting my business, many of them expressed interest in working with me. I was so excited thinking I was going to be highly successful out of the gate! But after I formed my LLC and reached out to them to follow up on that interest, all I heard were crickets. This really bothered me at first, especially because many of the people who had expressed interest seemed truly excited to work with me. Over time though, I learned not to take this personally. I had to remember that before I started my business, there were definitely acquaintances growing fledgling businesses who reached out to me who I did not respond to. It was not personal and often I just forgot to respond to them or it was just not the right time. I had to learn that these things are often not personal, and thinking they are, especially as an entrepreneur, will only slow you down.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I started a platform for women called the Style Wellness™ Membership Community during the pandemic; I wanted people to understand that the clothes we choose each day have the power to improve our wellbeing. I was inspired to start it during the pandemic due to personal experience. In the early days of it, I had nowhere to go and no one to see, so I wore pajamas or baggy clothes most days, not seeing the benefit of dressing up to go nowhere. As the pandemic continued…and continued…and continued, I found that I was feeling more and more negative and unproductive.

At my wit’s end, I finally understood that I could only change my mindset by focusing on things I could control, and I decided to start with my daily outfits. Wanting to feel like I was wearing real clothes but still remain comfortable, I started wearing maxi dresses in bold, colorful prints. I found that I started feeling more positive and productive. Curious about the reason why, I started Googling for answers (as one does) and discovered the study of enclothed cognition, which scientifically proves that what we wear impacts how we think and feel. Incredibly inspired by this as well as the personal results I experienced, I started the Style Wellness™ Membership Community, where I personally create guides, share my favorite places to shop, invite a variety of speakers to share their expertise, and more to help women feel more empowered, joyful and fabulous through their style and beyond. I encourage anyone who wants to feel this way to check it out and join us.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The 3 character traits that have helped me to be successful and will continue to help me are being fearless, joyful and artistic:

Fearless: I left a well-paying corporate job to start my own company, not something for the faint of heart. I also use this trait to help my clients explore new solutions they have not considered before that I think will make them happy.

Joyful: I love spreading love and light to others. While I definitely have my down days, my joyful inner flame continues to burn.

Artistic: I use my creativity and background in the arts to find innovative solutions.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?

As a personal brand strategist and stylist, I have seen firsthand how helping someone discover their key traits to achieve their vision and helping them dress the part through their style makes them light up with newfound joy and confidence. My clients always feel transformed through our work together, and I relish the opportunity to bring this joy to others.

Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?

In the US, we pride ourselves on being busy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the response, “I’ve been really busy,” uttered after asking someone how they’ve been. It’s okay to be busy, but what are we busy doing? Are we busy working towards our goals and dreams, or are we just busy for the sake of being busy? Sadly, the answer is often the latter, and this type of “busyness” rarely breeds fulfillment.

What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

One huge myth that I continue to see is that we ALWAYS have to feel happy, or else we are failing. This is so misleading because I do not know one person who hasn’t experienced pain in their life. Also, there is a misconception that pain is always bad. In fact, experiencing pain and failure is essential to feel truly happy. Otherwise, how do we know what happiness truly looks like? This can be compared to relationships. Sometimes, we have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the right person for us. However, if we hadn’t have kissed all of those frogs, would finding the right person feel as sweet? Probably not.

In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

One main mistake I see is that people try to find happiness using other people’s definitions of what should make us happy. If society believes that you will only be happy if you have kids and you buy into that but actually do not want kids, will you be happy? To truly find joy, you need to understand what makes YOU feel joyful. That only comes with inner reflection to truly understand what you want and believing enough in that vision (and in yourself) to go after it.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)

Do the inner work: One thing the pandemic has afforded many of us is the gift of time. Use this time to really take an inventory of how you’re doing. Take a journal or even just a simple sheet of paper to write down your thoughts. Don’t edit yourself — just let your thoughts flow. The only important thing is to make sure you’re honest with yourself. Don’t worry — you never have to share this with anyone.

Understand what you really want: Now that you have a better understanding of your current state, it’s time to think about your future. Many of us have been told what things we need to be happy (i.e. lots of money, a big house, etc.), but the secret to happiness is knowing what that looks like for YOU. Grab some visual inspiration to help you and make a vision board to answer this question: what does a joyful life look like to you in 6 months to a year? Or even 3–5 years? Give yourself some time because change takes time, but once you have an understanding of what you want, you’ll likely feel a mood boost right away.

Make a plan: Now that you have a vision of what happiness looks like for you, how will you achieve it? Write down 3 qualities you will need to help you achieve this vision of happiness and be specific about how each one will help you get there. Life will always have ebbs and flows, but this plan will be your beacon.

Embody your plan: Ever heard the phrase, “see it to be it?” Start living the characteristics you wrote down in the previous step. A great way to start is through your style. How can the clothes you wear be a visual expression of the joy you are striving to achieve? Think about this each morning when you choose what you’ll wear for the day. Remember, what we wear is scientifically proven to hold great power.

Control what you can and let go of what you can’t: There are many things in our lives that we can only do so much to control. In the previous steps, you are taking control of your path toward happiness. Try to let things you can’t control take less mindshare and emotional bandwidth. I know that can be really hard but take heart that the only thing that is constant is change; as uncontrollable as certain things are, nothing will ever stay the way it is today.

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?

Be a listening ear. So many of us are feeling down right now or just feel a general malaise. If someone in your life seems off, don’t be afraid to ask them “how are you feeling today” and just listen. That can be incredibly effective because you are helping someone feel seen, heard, and understood.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to start a gratitude movement where each day, we share one thing we’re grateful for with a friend or family member. This is typically something we save for holidays such as Thanksgiving, but reflecting on things that are going well in our lives can remind us that despite all of the negativity around us, something is actually going right.

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, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Mellody Hobson. I so admire her tenacity to get to where she is today and how she paid it forward by empowering others through financial literacy. She also has INCREDIBLE personal style!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can visit my website at www.brandstylebloom.com or follow me on Instagram @brand_style_bloom.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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