“Adulting be like…” You can almost think of an unlimited number of possible phrases to add to this phrase, ranging from the mildly amusing to the terribly depressing. But if you’re a young adult, you would (for better or for worse) be very conscious of how difficult and interesting it is to emerge from the cocoon in these uncertain times. This is what creative entrepreneur and mindset coach Katina Mountanos beautifully captures in her book, On Adulting, which is addressed to Millennials and an increasing number of Gen-Z young adults who are now going out to the world on their own. Katina shares some of the thoughts she covered in the book as well as other reflections with Whitney Lauritsen and Jason Wrobel. She also talks briefly about the transformational work she is doing with her fiancé at Daydreamers.
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Reflections On Conscious Adulting And Other Topics For Young Adults With Katina Mountanos
Katina when I was stalking you on social media, I started on your Instagram. Although, as I mentioned before, I do want to talk about TikTok as well because I love that. I’m increasingly getting into TikTok. I thought it was only going to be a phase for me but no, there’s no sign of stopping. I love that you can relate. I feel most of our guests are like, “What are you talking about?” It ties into the audience that you reach which tends to be Millennials and people in their twenties. Your work impacts anybody of any age. When I was looking at your Instagram, I was excited to see that you shared your word for 2021. We’re recording this at the beginning of the year on January 6, 2021. Your word for 2021 is trust. I’d love to hear you speak more about that. I’d also love to hear what Jason’s word is because I don’t think he shared it and maybe he doesn’t even have one. I have been feeling a little wishy-washy about my word. “Trust” is a word that I could settle on. I’m feeling like a decision analysis paralysis type of thing. I’m like, “Which word do I choose?” When I saw that your word was “trust,” I was, “That might be my word too.” I’m curious, what does that mean for you? Trust can mean a lot of different things. Why did you pick that word for 2021?
It’s such a good question and interesting that your reaction was, “I don’t know what word to choose.” As soon as I posted that, my fiancé, Dupi and I take time on New Year’s Day or a couple of days after to reflect together about what we imagine the year or even time, in general, to be like. I ended up coming up with a couple of more words, which I never do. I always try to choose one word, channel it, live by that and be reminded by it. This 2021, I chose “trust” initially and I still feel it because so much of 2020 felt like I had planned out well. I had gotten engaged and I had this book launch. I am starting a company and I feel like I was so into this idea of what I thought that time and life was going to look like. It was completely different than what I imagined in a lot of good ways and a lot of difficult ways. What I kept tuning into was my intuition and believing that there was a path ahead and out of this. I wanted to remind myself of that as I headed into 2021 to keep channeling that intuitive muscle but then on the other hand, one of the other words that I’m resonating with is “alive.” That’s my big question for 2021, how can I come alive at any moment and how can I make decisions that make me feel most alive even when I might be sitting at home watching TikToks?
TikTok can make you feel alive.
I feel a lot of 2021 was spent on many people feeling like we were waiting for something. There are beauty and magic in these slower moments and finding space to feel most alive in that.
I love that because it ties into your passion for purpose too. I feel like speaking about being alive is also about being in the present moment. Same thing with trust. It all comes together in that way. It’s an important reminder because you could easily go into this year 2021 feeling hesitant, scared and feeling like, “Nothing is going to go my way, why should I even plan?” I see this attitude on TikTok. It’s important for people like you to be on TikTok reminding that we can find ways to cope in a more positive way. It’s fascinating. TikTok in general for the younger generations especially now, which dominates the platform, you can learn so much about the mentality and the mindset there. It seems a lot of people feel like they’re throwing up their hands and getting frustrated and expecting bad things to happen, which makes me nervous. I want to bring this to you, Jason, because I feel like even though you’re in your 40s, you often have that feeling. I’m curious about you feeling frustrated and maybe you’re not feeling that way now, correct me if I’m wrong, Jason, but what word do you have for this 2021 if any or maybe there are words?
It’s interesting you bring this up because I feel like my approach to starting 2021 has broken away. We’ve talked about this on previous episodes of the show. For the last several years, I’ve had this ritual of making a new vision board or refreshing the old vision board, declaring my aims and intentions, having about 5 to 7 potent, big aims for the year. This is the first time since probably 2007, 2008, where I didn’t create a new vision board and intentions list. I did, however, focus on a word, not necessarily thinking I need to pick a word but it was something that came up organically for me in 2020 where I was having a realization after some psychedelic therapy and some talk therapy that came up this realization for me and the word is joy.We need to extricate ourselves from the constant societal pressure to be “successful.” Click To Tweet
I picked it because I realized in 2020, I feel like a lot of us realized a lot of things in 2020 and continue to, but one of the big things that were like a “my God” moment was talking to my mentor about how exhausted I was and how I felt like. I wasn’t feeling any joy in my work in the world, in my purpose of primarily focusing on being a chef, a nutrition mentor, mental health coach, and doing this show with Whitney. All these things, I wasn’t feeling joy anymore. I realized that what I had been focusing on almost exclusively was to be of service. I realized that I was focused on bringing others joy and relieving their suffering or creating awareness or a-ha moments for them that I wasn’t focusing on my own joy.
I thought that trying to be of service alone, fostering joy and helping to reduce suffering would bring me some joy but I was externally focused. I wasn’t singing or playing my music. I wasn’t focusing on comedy or taking enough time in nature, things that inherently brought me joy because I was externalizing, I need to bring others joy. Long story short, my word is joy and I want to return to doing things for the sake of creation, not because, “I need to have this affect someone. I need this to get likes and I need your praise. I need your trophies.” I’m addicted to getting some validation from my work. The word “joy” has a lot of layers and connotation for me and I’m digging into like, “Where is the joy in my life? If I don’t feel it, how can I find it? How can I reconnect to it?”
Jason, I couldn’t agree with that more. I feel like I’m smiling so much as you’re describing that because to me, alive symbolizes that word. 2020 for me and hopefully other people has been almost this cocoon year of understanding what I’m giving out and that energy exchange where you’re constantly giving and also seeking that validation at the same time. I started going to therapy this 2021 for the first time. I feel like that was the big learning that I’ve had, that being raised as this people pleaser, overachiever type of person. You can start to set boundaries around that and preserve your own energy, joy, and aliveness so that you can give out in a better way.
I love the term “cocoon year.” I feel like that would resonate with you, Jason. Imagining you in a little cocoon makes me feel happy.
That was one of the big metaphors that landed for me deeply. I remember I was watching Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, who does the Agape Spiritual Center in one of his Sunday sermons. He was talking about the process of being in a cocoon. There’s a point in the chrysalis where the caterpillar on a cellular level is dissolving and these imaginal cells are starting to form to create the butterfly. There’s this battle on a cellular level between the old cellular structure of the caterpillar and the new imaginal cells that are being born to reform the cells into a butterfly. I thought, “That metaphor describes my internal.” What felt like a lot of ripping apart in 2020 of concepts about myself dissolving and being in this limbo state of, “What are my imaginal cells doing? What’s on the other side of this dissolving of so much of my identity and who I thought I was?” I feel like I’m still in that process.
Katina, I love that metaphor of cocooning too. It reminds me of something that I saw talking about social media, something potent. You know when you see a post and you’re like, “Damn.” It hits you in such a profound way. I’d never heard of this content creator called Adrienne Maree Brown. She posted a series of tweets that hit me in the heart. It spoke to what I’ve been trying to communicate about how I’m feeling. She said, “Does anyone feel like returning from the 2020 holiday break?” The attempts to return from it unveiled how working at anything close to a regular breakneck pace during a global pandemic is too much that her friend Shoshana Shah MD reminded her of the concept of sleep debt. It got her thinking about grief debt. I’d never heard this term before. That everyone I know is either grieving, direct or circumstantial losses in their life with no time for them to come apart and land beyond the loss in their lives. We need time to grieve, remember dreams, rest and land. One of the things I’ve been struggling with emotionally is not allowing myself in this cocoon state to process the grief I’ve been feeling. It was one of those moments, “I haven’t allowed myself to feel the grief.”
Especially even in this period of cocooning and quarantining and outwardly slowing down, there’s still this constant need to achieve and be productive. That’s one of my personal main purposes in life is to undo that layer of individual and societal conversation and need to always be on and working towards something. When we do that, we avoid seeing what those feelings are and what that grief is and many other experiences that we’ve had. There’s much beauty but also difficulty in allowing yourself to slow down.
I’m glad that we’re talking about this because it’s a common subject matter. Jason, I’m wondering if maybe this is our niche. We were having a little side conversation like, “Maybe we need to niche down more with our work.” “At this moment, maybe burnout is our niche because it affects us so much and it affects many other people.” Supporting others with redefining their routines, their schedules, and their boundaries, all of these things that have led us to feel burnt out and to feel like we need to be hustling all the time and we’re addicted to productivity and efficiency, and equating that with our success. This was in one of your TikTok videos that I wanted to address, Katina. You said that we’re used to associating productivity with happiness and fulfillment. That’s why we’re experiencing much burnout, especially the Millennial generations and younger. This comes back to another thing I want to discuss here. Why does it feel like adulthood is equated with difficulty and it’s overwhelming?
I noticed this with my friends. I don’t know if my parents, maybe it’s because they’re older and maybe age. You get used to it and you relax a little. My parents also have a lifestyle that feels more relaxed even though they still get stressed. When I think of my parents, I think of them as they’re in a routine and they’re in a completely different generation. It feels like there’s a lot of panic with 20, 30 and 40-year-olds now. I’m curious with your work, Katina, what is the reason that you’re coming across? Why do you think it does feel overwhelming? Is adulthood as difficult as we think it is?
One of the main questions when I set out to write this book, On Adulting and doing in a mindful and conscious way was like, “How did we get here? How did we get to a place where we are the most burnt-out, stressed and unfulfilled generation in history? Is it technology? Is it the way we were raised?” Uncovering some of those pieces of research and reasoning is helpful in healing and understanding how we could move forward. One entire part of the book is like, “How did we get to this place?” I was fascinated by this societal research that was done. The two names of the researchers are escaping me but they conducted this study on how Millennials were raised and maybe even Gen X, a bit and going forward into Gen Z. We moved into, especially in Western countries and in the US specifically, a different type of time where one education was prized and required in order to get jobs.
We went from being able to purchase a home and a regular blue-collar salary to needing multiple degrees. That shifted the way that parenting styles were. Not every single person experienced a parent who is this newly dubbed term “helicopter parent,” but being raised in this generation, you were exposed to that and that societal mindset in general. You’re right in recognizing that. My dad was born in Greece and moved to Brooklyn when he was in his teens. My mom grew up in a multifamily house in Queens in New York and they were not being shepherded to extracurriculars. Their parents were like, “Go play outside, do your thing. We don’t know what you’re doing.” They didn’t attend college. It came to myself and my four siblings and we were at every single soccer game, my parents were helping us sign our papers and being involved in the school. The way that we were raised from childhood has determined the way that we are as adults. It’s not necessarily our fault as a generation or a group of people but it also is something that we can play a major hand in re-shifting the conversation around.
This reminds me of the book, Selfie. Did you read that one?It’s important to find a community and fight against loneliness. Click To Tweet
No, I haven’t.
You would love it but it’s much of what you’re sharing now. I did also read about those studies or similar studies in that book. The subtitle is How We Became so Self-Obsessed and What it’s Doing to Us. I remember picking up that book thinking it was going to be a lot about narcissism, which certainly addresses but so much is getting into the historical reasons why the younger generations do seem to be preoccupied with themselves. My interpretation of this book is more like you were sharing, which is that’s how we were raised. We were raised by parents that were obsessed with us. They were obsessed with us being successful.
My parents, I wouldn’t quite define as helicopter parents. They were loving and supportive but they also gave me a lot of room to do whatever I wanted and describing how they didn’t know what I was doing most of the time was the case. They weren’t the type of parents that came to every performance I did at school but they were committed to me being successful. That was drilled into my brain over and over again growing up. Jason, I’m curious about you, you’ve talked about your mom and you have a great relationship with her but I know for sure she wasn’t what I would perceive as a helicopter parent because she was working a lot. I am curious, Jason, did you feel like she was determined to have you be a successful person or do you think that you got that message from other people?
It’s an interesting question because if I reflect back on my desire to be a high achiever, it wasn’t because of my mom or by proxy, my extended family, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles who were also caregivers to me while my mom was working. If I look at what I’ve unearthed psychologically around it, the achiever’s mindset that I’ve had has been out of some survival mechanism. In the sense that if I am doing well then in a large family where out of necessity for my survival, I’m getting passed between my mom, grandparents, aunts and uncles, I was split between multiple houses for a lot of my young childhood. That’s a way for me to get attention, validation, feel important and stand out in my family.
I won’t be abandoned if I’m valuable enough. Since abandonment for me was and still is my core psychological wound that I work through and need to be mindful of in my life of how that shows up. It was like, “If I’m getting A’s and I’m the best student and I’m the best athlete and I’m better than everyone, I’ll be way too important and valuable. By proxy, I’ll never be ignored and never be abandoned.” It wasn’t because my mom or my family was pushing me like, “You need to get straight-A’s.” That was never a message. It was something I adopted along the way as a survival technique and realizing that as an adult, this psychotic urge to be the best at everything, realize that A, it’s overwhelming and leads to burnout and I’ve been sick because I’ve worked myself hard. Maybe I don’t need to be worried about abandonment and being ignored. This is going to wreck my health as a result of pursuing it. A lot of our coping mechanisms as children or young adults don’t work as well once we start to get deeper into adulthood in the sense that I’ve noticed. It creates a lot of problems in health challenges by working that hard.
Your story, the way you’ve told it is beautiful and honest. I feel similar to having grown up in a family of four kids. Being the oldest, I was always the one that was setting the path and my parents were like, “We’re way too busy to figure out what to do with you but as long as you’re doing well, we’ll keep rewarding you with praise.” Not that they consciously recognize that, but it’s something I’m uncovering over time. There is almost this increasing societal pressure that equates productivity and “external success” with this never-ending hamster wheel. This continual need to both impress ourselves, anyone on social media and our families and be rewarded by a Forbes “30 Under 30” list or something of that nature. There are more and more things that we’re trying to collect. We are all getting to the point. This pandemic has been a starting point in that of questioning, “Is this it? Are we looking for this fulfillment in the right places?” Starting this bigger conversation around the topics that you all and I love talking about, which is healing from burnout in this never-ending need to be “successful.”
I’m glad you brought up the Forbes list. As an aside, there was always this strange desire for me to get awards. That mentality of “I need to be on these lists. I need to win these awards in my field.” Whatever that might manifest as. I remember Whitney and I have a mutual friend/acquaintance who was on one of the Forbes list. I remember hanging out with her in New York City and was like, “You made this Forbes list and all the attendant press that comes from something like that.” Once she gave me a bit more intimate look at what was going on in her life, she was struggling to pay rent. She was struggling to keep her business afloat. She was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to make it this month.” It made me realize that a lot of these societal badges of mainstream success that we deign upon people like a Forbes 30 Under 30. The reality of this individual’s life was, she didn’t know how she was going to make ends meet month to month. We have this perception of “you’re on this Forbes list,” but the reality of her life was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to make it this month.” It was such an eye-opening experience for me.
There’s much that meets the eye. That’s a big wake-up call and I’d love to see more people addressing this. One thing I love moving through my discomfort around because we would train much to show our highlight reels, yet it also seems like people are yearning to see our lowlights. They want to know that we too are struggling. I wonder, coming back to this idea, Katina, especially as we see on platforms like TikTok, my observation is TikTok is mostly showing people who are talking about relatable negative experiences or weird things. People talk openly about anxiety, depression and their struggles on TikTok. That might be part of the poll. If you look at a lot of the popular videos on there, there are topics like this and in the comments section, it’s like, “I can relate to this so much. Thank goodness somebody’s showing me this.”
I find myself wanting to get away from any videos on TikTok that feel like they’re too curated and perfect, unless they’re helpful. There are tutorials on there that are within their advantage to be polished because they’re pleasing to the eye and fun. I’m trying to train myself to be less polished. I’m curious if you can relate to this too, Katina. All of these years that we’ve spent building these brands on social media, we’ve been conditioned, whether directly or indirectly, to show ourselves looking polished all the time. To Jason’s point, what is the point of that if behind the scenes it’s nothing like it looks on the surface?
I’ve been thinking about this on many different levels. First of all, I have found it refreshing that Gen Z is like, “We don’t care about this Instagram perfect world. We are going to be our real selves.” I resonate with that so much because the entire reason that I started writing about adulting and growing up in this confusing world was that I felt alone. I felt like the moment that I entered adulthood, everyone was like, “I know where I’m going in my job. I know exactly where I want to be in ten years. I have the perfect apartment, the perfect boss.” I was like, “I cannot be the only one who feels massively confused and I made a major mistake in the first step for the rest of my life.” Being able to find community and fight against loneliness, which is a massive epidemic in our world now, is important to be able to connect on those real struggles that we all experience. Hopefully moving past that in a positive and healthy way.
On the other hand, as you said, Whitney, going through these formative years and as we talked about seeking validation and perfection in a lot of ways as we’ve been raised and then also building these outwardly focused, curated brands, which at least personally I’ve tried to fight against but it’s something that Instagram and social media in general promote. One of my intentions for the past couple of months and moving ahead in 2021 and into the future is, to be honest on a personal level with the people that are in my life every day. Going back to something you said, Jason, I feel like I have always been the one that people have come to with their problems or helping them solve things or being of service in any way that I can. That’s prevented me from exercising this vulnerability muscle because on one hand I’m like, “Everything’s fine, I’ve got it. I don’t need any help.” There are a lot of things, especially after what we’ve all experienced in 2020, that we need to be more honest about especially in these one-on-one relationships that we have. That’s something I write a lot about, but it’s something that even on a personal individual level, I’m trying to practice as much as I can.
I feel like there is this generalized pressure to live up to the idea or the title of what other people hold for us. I get many texts and DMs and emails, not just from followers and fans on social media but friends and family members of, “I have this back pain, which supplement should I take for it? What food should I eat?” On the one hand, I love being a human being who is passionate about health, wellness, wellbeing, soulfulness and spirituality but I feel like sometimes it is a bit overwhelming when people rely on you. To your point, it’s about setting healthy boundaries and something that I’m working on. I realized that one of my fears is speaking my truth. This is something that came up for me of like, “I didn’t realize that I had some fear around speaking my truth in life.” It’s been interesting to acknowledge that.Our passion and purpose are already within us. We're just too far from our core essence. Click To Tweet
One thing I wanted to swoop into a bit in talking about what you said, Katina, about, “I have the perfect apartment, the perfect job, the perfect boss. I have this great salary. I’m checking off all the proverbial boxes that are going to lead to fulfillment, joy and happiness in my life.” One thing that I’ve noticed within myself and in nearly every conversation, some permutation of this has been, “I don’t know what I’m passionate about anymore. I don’t know what my purpose is anymore. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life.” I feel like these past few months have unearthed in this chrysalis, this cocoon, many friends and colleagues being like, “I don’t know what I’m doing or what to call myself or where I even want to go moving forward.” In your book and on your website that I’ve been digging into was this thing that jumped out at me of how to figure out what your passion is in less than 24 hours using a little-known creative exercise. My brain went, “A little known creative exercise, what’s this?” I find myself struggling with what in my heart do I want to focus on moving forward in my life. I’m curious if you want to share a bit about this exercise and also what you would recommend for people who are in this limbo state of, “I don’t know what my passion or my mission is in anymore.”
This is one of my most passionate topics to dive into. One thing I want to preface is, for a long time, I thought that finding your passion was this thing that would be bestowed on you. I write about in the book how I thought of it as the sorting hat in Harry Potter, where one day you would wake up and go to this thing and it would be like, “This is your passion, here you go. Here’s the direct path towards wherever you want to be.” It is not like that at all. On that note and something we’ve been talking a lot about is that in our modern world, this idea of passion and purpose has become this larger-than-life thing, where if you don’t find it, you are screwed and you’re never going to make it. You’re never going to be happy.
Something that I’ve been fascinated by is this idea of little PE purpose. I know, Jason, you know Dan Buettner, the Nat Geo Researcher who is behind the Blue Zones and is a leader in the longevity space. One of the things that he talks about is this idea that your passion, first of all, is as he says, the magic pill for longevity based on his research and findings. Secondly, it doesn’t need to be this crazy big thing. It could be finding community in your apartment building or helping someone on the street or saying hello to your barista at your local coffee shop, and connecting in these small everyday moments and essentially being a human. Grounding in that awareness is important to me and something I’ve been excited and passionate about because I fell into the trap of thinking my purpose is this big thing that I have to find. Once I find it, everything will work out. It’s not the case.
That sounds like the plot of the Disney movie, Soul, which Jason has not watched yet. I don’t want to give any spoilers.
I haven’t watched it either.
I’ll spoil it a little for the two of you in that like what you said is what the movie is based on. Jason keeps planning to see it and then his plans get dissolved because he wants to watch it with his girlfriend. I’m begging Jason to watch this movie. I encourage you too as well, Katina, because it’s going to resonate with both of you so much. I wish I could talk about it more openly but I would be spoiling things and for the reader, perhaps as well. It touches upon a lot of those things. It’s amazing to see Disney putting that word out. I wonder if everything that we’re going through with our generations will help support the younger generations especially if we have children or are in children’s lives in another capacity. Perhaps they won’t have to go through these things because of the lessons that we’re learning and the fact that Disney is creating content, this gives me that hope.
It also reminds me of one of our readers is one of my family members. She was telling me that her seven-year-old daughter has so much awareness. I like to keep things anonymous but the person knows who they are if they’re reading. They said something to their daughter about food or something body-related comment. The daughter responded at seven years old, “Don’t body shame me.” I didn’t know what the term “body shame” meant when I was seven years old. There are more awareness and confidence in speaking up for yourself. I thought that would be incredible if the younger generations, whatever they are, if they can grow to have that self-awareness and looking at life differently, not falling into the traps of shame or should, or pressure and perhaps approaching life completely different because people our age are raising these kids. We have done all this work and we’re trying to do things differently. That’s part of the silver lining.
I feel like the consciousness and everything is shifting and allowing us to have these more candid, real and inspiring conversations of all ages. That’s a beautiful story. It’s not even just our parents or immediate family or even our teachers, the conversations going on in the world as we’re growing up, informing our identity, shape how we view our path and what we’re capable of and what our place is in the world. It’s important to have these conversations starting at an early age. Soul has been on my list. I don’t know how long ago it came out but I’ve gotten many messages to watch it. I feel like it is up my alley. Going back to your question from before, Jason, I want to make sure that I answered this. While all of that being said, there is so much importance and many questions around this big idea of like, “What am I supposed to do?” It drives a lot of our life.
The way that I approach it on my blog and also in my book, I have a lot of different exercises to work through this because I believe there are many different layers. Two of them that I’ll share quickly, that people can start to think about. One, I call it life as a kid. A lot of times, when we’re looking for our “passion” and our purpose in life, we’re looking ahead and we’re looking outside of ourselves to find what this is. In my experience coaching and connecting with the On Adulting community and even in my own life, it is already within us. We build up these layers over time that gets us further and further away from our core essence. The first real exercise and way to start to dive into this big question of what is my purpose and passion is understanding what you love to do as a kid when no one was watching. It’s much more layered than saying, “I loved watching TV or I loved coloring or I loved playing soccer.”
It’s getting down to that second layer of, “What was I doing while doing that thing?” For me, for example, I played a lot of sports growing up. I was into soccer for a long time. I was not the goal score or the one that was technically involved in footwork or anything but I was always the one that was motivating people. If we were down a bunch of points or even if we were excited, I was the one that always was lifting up everyone’s spirits and getting people excited. When I did this exercise myself and came to that conclusion, it was such a beautiful moment for me because I was like, “That is a role that I love taking.” At the time, I was working in finance right out of school, working behind many Excel spreadsheets every day for long hours, not connecting or motivating anyone.
It was such a light bulb moment because I was like, “I am far from what my real essence is.” I’ve been told all of these things that, “This is what you do to find success and follow the rules and be seen as someone in our world.” When you start to allow yourself to uncover that part of you, things start to fall into place. That’s one piece. I know we could talk about that but another one is this idea of finding your North Star statement. I won’t go into too many details but this is one of my favorite things to do. It is a guiding compass for how to make decisions in your life and measure if you’re working towards or living closer to that deep purpose that’s within you.
I appreciate you sharing those little tidbits. I want to get my hands, hopefully, on an autographed copy of the book. I’m putting you on the spot here. If I order a copy, Katina, you have to sign it for me.Our passion and purpose are already within us. We're just too far from our core essence. Click To Tweet
That would be nice because I’ve seen from your Instagram posts, it looks like you have good handwriting. Do you use Procreate to do your images?
I was handwriting them for a long time.
It’s beautiful. I’m obsessed with Procreate. I was looking at your images, I love doing images like that. Encouragement for anyone who hasn’t checked out Katina’s wonderful Instagram account. It’s visually pleasing. Even on the cover of your book, did you write the word “on?”
I designed the cover myself with Procreate. Who knew? I was new to the book writing world and my editor was like, “We need a cover.” I was like, “Got that.” I ended up deciding to do it myself but yes.
It looks great. Well done. Jason would have a treat if he got your signature in there because your handwriting is good.
It’s impressive. As we’re getting closer to the finish line for this episode, I did want to bring up one thing, Katina, which is looking at your wonderful brand called Daydreamers. The thing that hit me was scrolling incessantly and the neurochemical dangers of being sucked in and being a consumer and not a creator. When we recognize we’re engaged in low-quality leisure, as you call it with your brand Daydreamers, the scrolling, the swiping, the streaming and the consuming versus accessing something that’s high-quality leisure. You talk about creativity. If someone is used to especially on a neurochemical level of getting the dopamine hit from the scrolling and the streaming, what’s one way you would recommend someone pivoting from consuming low-quality leisure time to creating and being engaged in high-quality leisure? What’s one thing a person can do to make that pivot?
Our purpose is to help people live a more fulfilled creative life and reach their creative potential so much of what we’ve been talking about. What we found through our research and our scientific council is that when we engage in creative leisure time, which is in that high-quality leisure bucket, we allow ourselves to get into this theta brainwave, which is the brainwave that we emitted as children and is connected to deep levels of meditation and mindfulness. It’s essentially entering that flow state and it allows for better memory, relaxation and connection. Making that switch from getting that high-intensity dopamine hit is difficult at first for sure, but creating these micro-goals to allow yourself to achieve these changes to start to get into that parasympathetic nervous system and start to slow yourself down is an important small shift you can make.
Instead of scrolling for 30 minutes when I wake up in the morning, I will look at my phone for five and check what I need to, or even better, I might set my phone on Airplane mode overnight so that I’m not bombarded with these notifications from the moment that I wake up, and I could leverage that slow, calm part of my brain for my morning routine. Allowing yourself to start to make small shifts and setting yourself up for success, and then as you start to practice this more, you can incorporate more things like creative practice or spending time outside in nature that also helps us shift into that nervous system. The highlight here is focusing on tiny ways to shift your actions and then creating more space in your life for that theta brainwave.
You’re articulate with all of this and yet peaceful. I love your style because it feels like helpful information without coming across like, “I don’t even know what word I would use.”
My fiancé is my cofounder for Daydreamers and he’s much more on the strategy side of things, strategy and operations and business. He worked in finance previously as well. I’m more on the behavior change side. I find it hard to talk in a way that has a lot of jargon in it without making it feel relatable. Sometimes it could come across as not as scientific. He was like, “That’s your superpower. You have to lean into that.” Thank you for that validation.
I know it feels good to be reflected back because as much as we don’t want to, it still feels good to receive external validation because sometimes we do need to be reminded. That ties up this conversation. Maybe it’s not just about tapping into the internal sides of ourselves because we do live in a world that’s focused on the external. We do need to take into consideration how other people perceive us. Sometimes that helps remind us who we are at our core. Maybe ultimately, it’s about finding that balance there or perhaps it’s like a 55% internal and 45% external, 55 is one of our favorite numbers too. That works for us. It’s our power number, 55. Maybe that’s been the answer all along, Jason, 55%.
Maybe this whole time, it’s been right there. I feel like that’s such a wonderful bow to wrap on this episode in the sense that I feel like many things, not to be cliché and the whole spirituality wellness thing, but I find that I have many layers of conditioning, belief, and BS that generally cloud what I already know to be true and I need to gently and lovingly learn to remove those layers to get to like, “It was inside me all the time.” You say that, Whitney, 55 but it is a metaphor for me I’m finding and like, “You do know what’s true and resonant and real for yourself. You need to cut through the crap on top to get there.”
That’s one of the best pieces of advice that you shared, Katina, and I’m grateful for that. Also, the opportunity to reflect that back on you and that your style does resonate with a lot of people, including us. We are not huge fans of this expert trend of people wanting to be right and on top and be in charge. There’s a time and place for that, but there are many people now who are obsessed with being the expert and finding the students all the time. Maybe it is about leveling the playing field and saying like, “We can all learn something from one another.” Being relatable is valuable especially to the younger generations. They want to feel understood.
Thank you for having me and holding such a beautiful space. I’m excited. I’m glad that we got to connect and excited to connect with whoever reads this blog and would like to reach out. Thank you for having me.
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About Katina Mountanos
Katina Mountanos is a popular writer, creative entrepreneur, mindset coach and creator of “On Adulting” – a robust, active community of conscious young adults sharing real talk and real advice about the issues, challenges and yes, even beauty, excitement and possibilities, of “adulting” today. Her debut book, “On Adulting: How Millennials (And Any Human, Really) Can Work Less, Live More and Bend the Rules for Good” is a go-to guide for anyone looking to navigate, celebrate and embrace adulthood – particularly in trying times – in a mindful, happy, purposeful way.
Expanding on her sought-after insights, Katina’s book shares her formula for crafting a life full of choices that take you off the work-gym-sleep hamster wheel with tactical tips, real-life stories and top expert advice for living a mindful and conscious life, applicable to all ages, and particularly insightful for millennials and GenZ who are struggling with life’s challenging transition of work and added life responsibilities. Katina is also co-founder of Daydreamers, a brand and movement to help the world feel more alive by making hobbies cool again to make it easier than ever to get creative juices flowing.
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