By: Niki Shadrow Snyder
- NS: Tell us about yourself and what you do? DC: I am known as the Optimism Doctor®. I hold a doctorate in clinical health psychology and I study the science behind optimism, joy and resiliency. I specialize in helping people and companies or organizations cultivate practical tools while blending together holistic practices with evidence based science. I consult with individuals, hold workshops, speak, write, provide media expertise, and collaborate on intentional, mental health focused, well-crafted products with happiness in mind. I am the founder of the Things Are Looking Up™ brand and the creator of the Things Are Looking Up Optimism Deck of Cards. I am also the host of the newly launched “Looking Up With Dr. Deepika Chopra” podcast. (Available on Spotify, Apple, and any place podcasts can be subscribed to)
- NS: How did you personally move the needle in 2020? DC: I have been committed to helping people find their own sense of optimism and hope during 2020. I have been using my practice to help bond people together through collective resiliency building through this time of collective trauma, uncertainty and struggle. I also have devoted a large part of this year to building a free, mental health resource for our frontline healthcare workers, called “The Things Are Looking Up: Heroes Helping Heroes” project.
- NS: How did you deal with the stress in the world in 2020? DC: Well, I am still dealing with it. It’s an ongoing, every day process. Even though I am an Optimism Doctor, and helping to alleviate stress, cultivate real mindset shift, and increase resiliency is what I do for a living, I am first and foremost a human on my own journey as well, and I think it’s important to share transparently my struggles and anxieties along the way and how I use the tools and even the times where I feel stuck. I am trying to practice more of what I am teaching… more self-compassion, more time outdoors, more getting comfortable with my full range of emotions, the not so great feeling ones included, more introspection, more using my breath intentionally, and more using my own “Things Are Looking Up” card deck, to go through the science based prompts every day to keep my brain focused on resilience and hope.
- NS: Do you have any advice for your younger self? DC: How you are feeling right now, is not going to last forever. So if you are feeling joyful and elated, revel in the moment more, make it count, remember how it feels, tastes, sounds, looks like, smells like, and if you are feeling sad, angry, worried or overwhelmed, find some solace in that this moment will shift, look for the learning and growth and light in it, but allow yourself to feel however it is you’re feeling without shame.
- NS: What did you do in 2020 that you’re the most passionate about? DC: We welcomed in our second baby boy just a month ago. He has been our light in 2020 and being a mom again has been the best thing I have done and I continue to do!
- NS: What was the worst part of 2020 for you? DC: Just one thing? Ha ha, just kidding. Well, kind of. Well, I am counting my blessings and working very hard to stay healthy. I am thankful that my family and I have been able to be safe at home during this time. But, I think the worst part has been not being able to expose my toddler to the things I know used to make him so happy, going to parks, preschool, being around other kids and people and just generally socially interacting. I think the worst part has been not being able to be with family, not being able to hug and see my grandparents, and witnessing the devastating losses of so many to Covid and social injustice.
- NS: What was the best part of 2020 for you? DC: My second son’s birth and seeing so many young people mobilize and take optimistic action towards what they believe in.
- NS: What does success mean to you? DC: Success to me means, growing from struggle and mistakes, being able to celebrate small and big wins, being able to live a life with a strong sense of purpose, to do small things every day that bring me joy, challenge me, are directly related to my core values, and seeing my children healthy and happy.
- NS: What causes are important to you? DC: I believe in human justice and supportive mental healthcare. I am very passionate about dismantling the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
- NS: Do you think the world right now needs to be influenced by what they can get or what they can give in the middle of this pandemic? DC: Definitely by what people can give. I know at the start of this pandemic, I was just struggling to find a way to serve and offer guidance in a significant way. A friend who’s an anesthesiologist on the frontline at a major institution, reached out to me towards the end of March asking if I could help her team by providing effective emotional support tools during their fight against this pandemic. Eager to serve and to find a sense of purpose, I created the “Heroes Helping Heroes” project, a free emotional health resource for all our frontline workers. It greatly improved my mood and emotional state, to just find ways I could give. I have been inspired by so many people’s giving spirit and the coming together of humanity during this year, from marching for justice, helping to buy groceries and essentials for the elderly, to joining in collective prayer for someone hospitalized, to donating food and protective supplies to those in need, and so many supporting small businesses. Research actually shows that acts of kindness is a strong indicator of personal growth.
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