How to FIND INSPIRATION When You Are in a Dark Place w/ Zainab Salbi

Jan 12, 2022

Welcome to episode 30 of the Mindful & Driven podcast! It’s all about how to not lose sight of what really matters whilst chasing your dreams.

Episode 30’s guest is Zainab Salbi. She fled the war to Iraq when she was just 19 years old and from America, she set up Women for Women International which helped over 500,000 women refugees across the planet. These are people from the Middle East, Bosnia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She served people who were suffering from the worst of humanity but she also said she found the best of humanity while she was there. Oprah Winfrey named her one of the 25 Women Changing the World. She’s authored multiple books including Between Two Worlds and Freedom is an Inside Job. She’s currently the host of the Redefined Podcast and the Chief Awareness Officer of the Find Center and Co-Founder of Daughters for Earth.

I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation! I’d love it if you could subscribe, leave me a review and follow me on social channels. 

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • How to find deep meaning in life.
  • How active listening makes you grow as a person.
  • Why it’s important to challenge your own beliefs. How to be a generous listener.
  • How to be more appreciative of life and others.
  • Why it’s important to embrace the beauty in suffering.
  • How to keep yourself inspired when feeling bad.
  • How to keep yourself going despite experiencing horrible circumstances.
  • How to build deep connections.
  • How to be more mindful in everyday life.


  • Introduction (0:00)
  • Fake it until you make it? (2:32)
  • Toxic relationships (4:15)
  • I was that guy. (9:13)
  • We teach people how to treat us (18:16)
  • Striving for harmony (21:07)
  • Time blocking  (26:39)
  • Purpose, autonomy, and mastery (30:00)


Intro Music:
“Himalayas” by Mona Wonderlick —
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free download:




[00:00:00] Zainab: I can be the gardener, you know, that’s, that is all about self caring for me. They got like nourishes, your plant and yourself. And I can be the warrior, as in fierce and feisty. And I will always stand up for, against injustice, always stand up against and always will speak truth to power, and I can be both and I don’t have to choose to be either or. They’re both part of me, and they’re both my truth.

[00:00:35] Amardeep: Welcome to the Mindful and Driven Podcast, where we help you to not lose sight of what’s really important whilst chasing your dreams. Today’s guest is very special, it’s Zainab Salbi. She fled Iraq when she was 19 years old to live in America. And from there she founded Women for Women International, which has helped over 500,000 women refugees across the planet. These are people from the Middle East, from Bosnia and places like the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said people who were suffering from the worst of humanity, but she said that she also found the best of humanity while she was there. Oprah Winfrey named her as one of the twenty-five women changing the world. She’s offered multiple books, including Between Two Worlds and Freedom is an Inside Job. She’s currently the host of the Redefined Podcast, as well as chief awareness officer of the Find Center and co-founder of Daughters of the Earth. This is a really special conversation and I hope you enjoy listening and hearing her amazing stories.

[00:01:27] Please be aware that Zainab talks about some sensitive topics during this podcast. As a result of the time she spent in a warzones.

[00:01:34] Welcome to Mindful and Driven Zainab, it’s a pleasure to have you here.

[00:01:37] Zainab: It’s good to be here. Thank you very much for having me.

[00:01:39] Amardeep: So I think of all my guests so far, I think you’re the person who’s most inspiring to me, at least in terms of all the change you’ve made, especially with your work with Women International. And now you’re building a new thing Find Center, and it’s a stronger line with my own values and what I do. I know and find since what you’re trying to do is present a wide variety of opinions, what’s something that you personally see quite a lot of that you disagree with, which advice people give in order to help find balance?

[00:02:05] Zainab: That’s a very good question. Well, there is one. And maybe it’s not a very, very concrete, but a very big spiritual life coach in America once told me that everything is about love. Everything is innocence trying to meet love and that and her example was included her father who molested her as a child, it includes someone who cheats on their partner. It includes the thief who steals, right. It’s everything. It’s innocence trying to meet love. It’s not that I disagree with that ultimate truth. I do agree with that ultimate truth. But that that truth is on a spiritual level, and I think as we expand in our spirituality, we still need to be grounded in this earth, and in this idea of being a human and in the pain and the suffering of others. And at the time, when that was told to me, I was working with women in Democratic Republic of Congo who were being gang raped, cut, molested, you know, and lost everything. And if I go and tell them that everything is innocent striving to meet God. You know, they would have spit on my face and they would have be deserving, I mean, like I would have been deserving rather of that spit. Right. And to, so for me, it’s a long winded answer, but when we get to a spiritual state of where love is indeed bigger than all, it’s indeed, you know, where and it’s beautiful, we cannot, we have to anchor ourselves rather in humility and humbleness and the presence of being in this world. So my answer would be please come back to this earth. We need you to be human, not a spiritual being in that other space because in being human and even to talk to someone’s pain, it doesn’t have to be as severe as the women who are being raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It could be your own pain today because someone hurts you for me to tell you, honey is all about love. You know, it’s insensitive and it is not grounded. And it is to a certain extent arrogant. And so it’s not that I disagree with any particular teachings. It’s more I’m saying any and all teachings must be grounded in this idea of being human. And when we separate ourselves from that, and when we think we have arrived to enlightenment. And we think that we disconnect ourselves from the pain and suffering of our own and others, then we have disconnected ourselves from reality. And so, so always be grounded, always be grounded. And this idea of being human in this body of being human on this earth with all of it’s life experiences.

[00:05:51] Amardeep: I think that that is about making sure people feel that they’re being heard because if somebody is in pain and you’re telling them your pain doesn’t matter. It’s all, okay, because of another reason, your mate, you’re invalidating their feelings, which doesn’t help them. I think it’s often really important to make people feel like they’re safe before you try to solve their problem. Before you try to find a deeper meaning. It’s make sure they feel safe and then you can work with them in the longer term when they recover. But I just said, if somebody is telling you that your problems are unimportant and it’s even if it is, like you said, a much smaller problem, that person, then it, it makes them feel less safe inside where that’s not what anybody wants to achieve. Right. And like you said, it’s at some level for some people who’ve got very spiritual and they’ve been able to lead a life, which leads them down that path, there’s going to be some privilege that some of them might have. And it’s just really important to make sure they’re listening to other people and what they might not have that you have, and if they can’t see things the way you can see it, then that’s valid too.

[00:06:53] Zainab: That’s beautiful. That is true. I mean, I have a friend who argues that we need to, what we need to practice is generously listen to each other. And, you know, she founded a foundation called The Vuslat Foundation, which all about how can we practice generous, listening, and generous listening, you know, and her argument is not only, you know, listening to the people we agree with, but also listening, and as what you’re saying with people who radically disagree with. In a way that is providing generosity in our spirit to listening to their story and their pain and their perspective from a 360 degrees, rather than interfering in our own, and bringing our own assumptions, let’s say it’s, you know, and our own even enlightenment and our own awareness or whatever, but to generously listen to all of their stories. And from there, find a place of a common connection or a common understanding. And, and, and sort of that’s what you were saying is that, you know, I guess this is how therapists were or shamans or whatever, because they see so many stories and a few tell everyone’s like, oh, why can’t you get it over with, you know, like, it’s all about love, you know, then you’re not generously listening to that person, and you’re not building safety for that person to be seen and heard and to go through their pain. And then from there you actually show a path forward and a past a path where there is healing. I mean, I think, you know, it’s so interesting because in this era, frankly, of, you know, where there is much more people, many more people who are into spiritual path and into enlightenment. And, you know, there’s so much more use of psychedelics, you know, and in the world and all of that, that the good site. And I believe everything has a light and a shadow. Everything has it. So the light side is that that it’s healing. It is creating more consciousness and more connection to ourselves, our hearts to our, each, to each other, to the plants, to the planet, rather to God, to nature, to everything. That’s the good side. On the other side, that dangerous of all of that is when we lose again, the groundedness. When we lose the roots of who we are, you know, of being grounded in this, in this reality is that we can become disconnected from our reality and arrogance, and that is scary for me because it reinforces, it could be reinforces the sense of superiority over the other, right. It can reinforce the sense of, I am better than you or even reinforces the power and a new manifestation of power or power, if power used to be about military power, and then it became a financial power and then it became an intellectual power. This brings spiritual power over the other, and that’s all the shadow side of that awakening and enlightenment. And so, you know, and, and to avoid being shoved because that’s an entrapment for anybody who is seeker. Cause it’s, you know, to, to arrive to a blissful moment in your heart is an amazing experience. So I think is a challenge for any seeker. How do you keep that bliss you arrive in that moment through arrival, you know, with, to your heart center and to your finding your own center and between how that, how do you not get it into your head and say, I am the one and I am the enlightened, and how do you make sure that it’s you continue? And the humbling servicing journey of being a service as a seeker to awakening and to awareness.

[00:10:51] Amardeep: People often say ignorance is bliss, and I think sometimes this will happen to some of these people were because they’re close their ears, they can’t see the bad things in the world. They can’t hear the bad things in the world. So they’re happy, but that means that they can’t help those people and they can’t serve other people in the world. And I know you’ve done a lot of that in your life. Has it been any point in the past you felt a bit overwhelmed by that because you have to feel so strong in yourself. You have to give that when you’ve worked with people in the Congo for example? It must be so difficult to be in that situation and be able to stay strong for the people around you, who need you?

[00:11:23] Zainab: Have I been in this situation a lot, a lot, you know, I mean, as you mentioned, I work in war zones for 20 years in my life. And I grew up in a war zone for 10, the second 10 years of my life. And then I reported on war zones as the last 10 years of my life. So I have 40 years out of my 52 years, eh, living and breathing and talking in wars and wars shows you the worst acts of humanity I have seen and witness and talked with people. I have goosebumps as I share this, which I never thought that humans can do such dark acts, you know? And, you know, and it’s scary. Like these are, I I’ve talked to not only the victims of rape, as I mentioned earlier, or of war and displacement and pillaging and burning and killing, I’ve also talked to the killers and the rapists, and that is, you know, like it’s easier to work with the victims, honestly, because it’s just, you know, someone else’s violate them and it’s, it’s heartbreaking experience. I think it’s even more of a heartbreaking experience to talk with the killers and the rapists. And it’s weird to say that, but you see the victims are intact. Their souls are intact. You know, they, they have endured violation, but their souls is intact, it’s injured because of the violation, but they have not violated themselves or others. Right. The ones who create the violation. They are disconnected from the essence of their soul. They’re disconnected from their heart. As one woman who told me about her rapist in Iraq, just before he raped her, she was a 16 years old child and she looked at him and she’s like, please, please, please, don’t treat me. Don’t you have a heart? And he looks at her in the eyes and he says, my heart died long time ago. And he pursues to rape her and that I like I can’t get it out of my head. Like that’s awareness, even that his heart is dead. Right. So that is for me, has always been overwhelming, incredibly sad. I would have in every time I would encounter these stories, I would come back to home and, you know, honestly I would just cry and cry and cry for hours until the tears get dryer. And then, you know, dust the dust from my shoulder and keep going, now what kept me going and what keeps me going, and till today is I believe in also human goodness. I have in the darkest experiences, I have seen the most beautiful aspects of humanity. Unbelievable, generous aspects of humanity, unbelievable love and the strength of love, unbelievable resilience and courage, and the strength of that resilience and courage. And that’s, you know, just keeps me going because, mother who malicious chop her legs into pieces and ask her children to eat it, you know, afterwards end up, you know, putting an artificial leg and is the woman who taught me how to dance. Who am I not to dance? And if the mother who has lost all of her kids killed in front of her and by America, she stayed alive. She sings, and she teaches me how to sing. Who am I not to sing? And if a woman in, you know, who puts a lipstick on just so to make sure that she’s beautiful before the sniper kills her, teaches me about the importance of beauty. Who am I not to appreciate beauty? So what keeps me going is that, these are, you know, not the famous people. These are everyday people and that strength in humanity and that love and humanity is so powerful that most definitely keeps me going. As I encountered darkness in a severe way throughout my life.

[00:16:13] Amardeep: I guess you’ve seen both the worst and the best of humanity then through the work you did. And yeah, that’s almost need to take a second to this process that because, it’s incredible, the experiences you’ve had. Was there ever a time where you considered, like going away from war zones and going back to the comforts you had or did then thought this never crossed your mind?

[00:16:37] Zainab: I didn’t know what the middle means. You know, I grew up in war and then I ended up working in war, so it was more, I had come to learn how to live in peace. I just didn’t know how to live in peace, you know which meant that there was always water to shower whenever you can. And there was always clothes to get whenever you want. And there was always, you can always joy in a material way as in, you know, food and parties and use it whenever you want. And I really didn’t know. And as in sleeping in silence without sounds of bullets outside, I really truly did not know for the longest time, how to adjust to that, you know? And, and I guess that’s my trauma because when, when we live in trauma and this happens to be mine, someone else may have different kinds of trauma, you know. Maybe they’re abused or beaten up as a child or, you know, and then they don’t know what it means to live in without that. Or maybe you, you, you grew up in an unloving family. And so you’re afraid of you don’t entail what being in love means or in a loving and safety. And my trauma happens to be, you know, I lived in wars and there was always in safety and, you know, and it took me a really long time, you know, really, really long time to understand how to even take a nap without the sounds of bullets outside, you know, and what transformed me and what helped me was love. Truly love of people, love of friends, love of family, love of a spouse that we’re just there. And, you know, was sort of at one point I looked at friends and family around me who were there, you know, in love and hard moments in life. And I just like, I am safe, you know, I’m, I’m safe and I think I can live and it’s okay for me to live in peace. And as in, it’s not that I didn’t live in it before. I lived in America for 30 years now. Right. It is to being adjusted to that life of peace because I, as I lived in America, I worked in war zones and reporting in the war zones. Right. So it was just recent truly recently, as in the last two years, that I realize, It is okay. It is okay to live that life. In peace and to live a life that you know about the suffering of others, you show up for them when you can, but you should show up, you know, do not ignore the suffering of others, but show up in a way that is, that does not squeeze your soul, which is what I did for 30 years. I squeezed my soul and gave all of me to the suffering of others. And it left me with a lot of people being impacted by the work in a good way, which is wonderful and I’m grateful for, but it also left me empty. And then that the taste of life was gone from me. And I have learned that there is, that this is not the way to give, that this giving is an extreme way of giving that it leads you empty, and that the cause one is working on, any cause, mine was helping women in wars. You know, a parent could be to raise his or her child, does not require you to self-sacrifice the cause does not require you to self-sacrifice. And I really have come a long way to allow myself to do self care, not as a frivolous act or a selfish act and not as an external act as in getting a massage or a manicure pedicure, but as an inner act, as in, I need to keep my soul in a healthy way and I have my, you know, rules for, how do I do that or my learnings and how do I keep my soul? How do I care for my soul? Let’s say this way. Right? And they very, they have no material connections to it. They have no actions. They are like about being in perhaps doing things that will get me to that place. And I, so my self care evolved for first of all, I did not know. First of all, I rejected it second. Then I thought it sent massage. And then the third, now I’m in a state where self-care is really, but connecting to my heart every day, as in meditating, that showing gratitude every day, as in noticing all the good things that are happening, you know, including my plant right now has some new blossoms and I’m excited about it, right? As in, you know, exercising and taking care of my body, you know, and that’s important, as in drinking lots of water, which is important for me, as in eating healthy food, which is, the meaning of self care moved as in walking in nature and being in the presence of nature, as in being in the presence of art, which is important for me. So it default, it evolved from massages to basic practices that, oh, you like available for anybody? Like it has no material connection to it. You know, I don’t need to pay anybody to like, make an appointment with my heart and meditate for 20 minutes. You do see what I mean or drink lots of water. So, and over time, I have come to learn that I can be the Gardner, you know, that’s that is all about self caring for me. They’ve got like nourishes your plants and yourself. And I can be the warrior, as in fierce and feisty. And I will always stand up for, against injustice, always stand up against, and always will speak truth to power. And I can be both and I don’t have to choose to be either or. They’re both part of me. And they’re both my truth.

[00:22:42] Amardeep: I really like that because I think many people would see what you did for 30 years, and think, how’s that possible? And they would then try to emulate it and try to give all of themselves to help other people, because I think that’s the right thing to do. So for you who’s been there and done that to then say, actually that was unhealthy in many ways and you can do it more sustainably. I think it’s such a good message for people out there who worry about the world because many people do worry about the world, they have, as you said different courses that they believe in, and there’s this anxiety, I think among some people that they’re not doing enough and it’s kind of a vicious circle, because if you worry about not doing enough, then you’re draining yourself, which means that you’re less able to do more, to help the cause that you believe in. So as you said, it’s so important to look out for yourself because that makes you be able to give more to the cause. So you’ve got to be a good gardener to feed yourself. So that you can then be the warrior.

[00:23:38] Zainab: That’s beautiful, really beautifully said. And to be honest, when I was only the warrior and you know, again, I’m using my life, but I think everyone is a warrior in their own life. If you’re a workaholic, you’re a warrior, you know, no matter what the job is, right. When I was only that, and then I reach a point where I’m operating out of empty, an empty space in my, I’m exhausted, you know, emotionally, physically exhausted that giving from that place of scarcity and emptiness is becomes tasteless, joyless, and even bitter. And it’s, it’s impatient. It is like the taste of live ghosts. And when you give out of a full place in you, right. That giving is effortless. It doesn’t take anything from you because you’re full, you know, it’s you, you, you, you serve it, you know, because you can give as much as you can. It doesn’t matter. That doesn’t matter what people take from you when you’re full, because you’re full, there’s plenty, you know, when your people take the smallest thing, when you are in scarce states, as in exhausted, you’re like resentful because you know, like, you know, there’s nothing to give and they want, you know, and so I really learned that. It’s interesting that I bring Congo a lot today. You know, I learned that I was one time at when in one visit, I was in a very healthy state in my, you know, it was just, you know, was doing good, and I go to this village and this is before I opened an office in, through a [unintelligible] for, in Congo. And so I was just doing research and I was asking these villagers, you know, all gathered in a circle to answer my questions, a lot of questions to understand the situation. I was doing, basically fact-checking, I’m not understanding of the situation. And at the end, I said, thank you so much for your time. I can’t promise you that I come back to you, because I’m still in the research phase. And even if I ever come back to Congo, I can’t promise that I will come back to your village because it’s going to be other indicators to what, what we’re going to focus on. But I want to tell you, I really appreciate all the answers that you gave me in the time you gave me. And I, because you don’t, never fool around with other people’s hope. Never fool around with hope, you know, especially when they are in a dire situation. So that’s very important. So then the chief, I remember saying we actually want to thank you. And I’m like, but I haven’t done anything. I just ask you questions and took a lot of your time. He says your smile gave us hope. And you’re just presence and the smiley way and positive and trying to find answers really gives us hope that there is goodness possible and that goodness may come. And I tear up just talking about it because in that case, I did not do anything. I was really in presence. Right. And I’m not always like that. I haven’t been able to stay like that all the time, but now I have come to value that state to value that staying in the presence of your full self, you know, as in being full. Being rested. Being meditative, being, you know, healthy self is the goal because the giving out of it, this and the manifestation of your career and your accomplishment is a much easier process than when you are operating out of a very scarce place in life.

[00:27:19] Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the episode so far. I want to take a quick break to ask you to check in with yourself. There’s many people struggling with balance and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s tips that my guests might share can hopefully help you along the way, but if you already feel overwhelmed or burnt out, it’s probably best that you ask somebody for help too. For some, this might be a friend or family member, while others might feel like they have nobody they can talk to. If you’re one of these people, check out the link in the show notes, it’s for United for Global Mental Health. They’ve got health plans all across the world, with people willing to listen on the other side. It’s important to let somebody know how you’re feeling. Now, back to the show.

[00:27:55] Amardeep: Looking at today where you’ve got a much better balance than you had before, do you feel like if you’re in the right place now or is there still things you’re working on where you’ve got the struggle and you’re not completely comfortable yet? Do you feel like you’ve made the full journey and now you do feel safe and you do feel, as you said, happy to have a nap without the sound of gunshots?

[00:28:12] Zainab: That’s a very good question. I mean, as you know, I am Chief Awareness Officer of Find Center, a platform that is all about making the different paths of healings available to anybody who is seeking. And it’s not about providing only meditation or only yoga or only this. It’s basically saying here are all the traditions and here are all the wisdom of all time. Some have been forgotten. Some are not famous people of today, you know. And from different traditions, from different cultures, different backgrounds, here’s all of this been out there throughout time in one place, and you navigate, like here’s the source information that we have made available for you, for you to navigate your personalized journey. So, if you are scientifically oriented, you can look into science and spirituality and healing. I’m, I grew up a Moslem. I am a Muslim, and I’m always curious about the spiritual aspects of Islam, you know, like, can I be a spiritual Muslim and you know, what’s so understanding and appreciating and practicing yoga and meditation. But I’m curious about spirituality in my own traditions, you know? And so what that’s, what Find Center does is bring all that wisdom of all time in one place to make it easily for people to navigate their own personal healing, right. Of personal journey of healing. Now I’m in that state and I’m in that part of that process because I arrived to a place in my heart that I could find such profound connection to my heart, to nature, to God, to each other. And it only, it came from me staying in the presence, I call it, me connecting to my heart and getting to learn the language of my heart. And that happened because of, you know, a state of a year and a half where I was Ill and I lost my ability to communicate and all what I could focus is on meditating and painting and playing music. Like that’s all what I could accomplish. Right. And that led me to finding bliss and by walking in nature and finding joy, by meditating for 20 minutes and, finding my happy day. It was when I’m eating healthy and drinking lots of water. Right. So I was like, whoa, you can arrive to such joyful moments without going to this retreat or taking that class or going to this country or buying that shirt. Wow. I mean, you can go to there. And I decided to dedicate my life to show, to contribute to people on, who are interested to connect it to their house, to each other, to the divine and to nature in a different way. Right? Now, now that I am in this state. Do I slip? Most definitely. I slip, I don’t think anybody doesn’t slip, but who cares? I’m telling about you, but me do I go? And you know, we live in a world where things are pushed on us, everything induces comparison to others. Everything. Social media, the news, the stores, the magazines, everything induces what I don’t have and what you have or what others have, right? Like that’s like that’s split and shazam is like reinforced on us in a very extreme form of a capitalism. So do I slip and, you know, slip and buy more than I need or slip meditating? Of course. The only difference is my bounce back rate is faster right now. Right. I go back because when I slip and let’s say, I’ll give you a very, you know, I go to the city and I’m like buying things I don’t need because the city pushes that don’t you buy, buy, buy buy, but I live in New York city or, you know, or eat healthy, unhealthy food because it’s a good restaurant, but like whatever, unhealthy or not drinking of water. I slip. It’s a day I slip right. Or not meditated that day. And sometimes all of them happen at the same time, the slip all, of all my rules. Right. It’s within less than 24 hours that I feel bad. I feel I’m not healthy. I’m not happy, you know? Yes. I got all these external things, but it, because it’s not my, who I am. So I notice a, that discrepancy very fast. Right. Okay, so that’s one and the second is us like, okay. Oh, oh, you slipped, you know, my threshold because the more, the closer you are to that blissful moment, you know, or state, the more you slip, the slip become, eh, it’s felt faster and more potent. If you may. Right. So now I, I slip all the time, man. I slip all the time, you know, I just might, correction is faster, you know? And so it’s like, oops, needed back. And then it takes me a day or two to come back to my center, you know, and okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. And something happens, a trip comes or friends come. And again, I slipped, you know, and then, oh, slipped, come on. And I feel, you know, to quote. 13th century Sufi poet. He says when the arm, when the, if the hands is always a fist or is always open, there is no growth that the growth is when the, you know, sometimes it’s, we’re close and sometimes we’re open is in the growth is in the movement. And so I’m not judgmental of my slip. I’m just more aware of it. And I try to correct it much more. And you know, when I see other people’s slip, frankly, you know, I’m more patient with it also because as like, It’s okay. You know, that the correction is in the movement or the growth is in the movement.

[00:34:23] Amardeep: And that really gets to the point of what message I want to get through for this podcast is I get people on who people often look up to an idolize and they can think of them as perfect. Whereas somebody knowing that somebody who’s done so much in life and is now looking at so much spiritual oddity and all these different ideas that you can slip to, and then you come back, it makes them feel less bad because I think. A shame cycle of somebody makes a few positive life changes. And then the first time something goes wrong. They’re like, oh, I can’t do that. Like they can do it, but I can’t do it because I’ve made a mistake. And the truth is everybody makes mistakes. Nobody can be in this blissful state for their entire lives. But all you’re trying to do is recover quicker, as you said, and I think this idea of, instead of focusing on avoiding all the blips it’s how can you recover from the blip faster? It’s quite a positive mindset shift that a lot of people could make of it’s okay to mess up, but it’s not beating yourself up too much so that you can then go back to the healthy state of mind that you’re in before. Well,

[00:35:26] Zainab: it’s beautifully said. I mean, I always say to add to what you’re saying, find, find what gives you that bliss and find it. I have a lot of friends who find that bliss only when they are not in their reality. So when they are traveling on vacation, they are in a bliss, the minute they come back to their home, they’re not in all their lives. They are not in a bliss. That’s not bliss. That’s distraction. That is momentary distraction. You’re going on vacation, on a beach somewhere that’s beautiful. You can’t stay in that state. Like even if you move to that beach, you still have to work and then come back to your reality. Right. So for me, that is not bliss. That is just a break from our reality to give our pallet cleanser to our brain, right. The bliss for me or that another bliss, the Testament for me, the measurement is how am I scoring? How am I feeling when I am alone in a, in a, in the middle of a dark night. Am I okay with myself in that moment? In that intimate space between me and myself? Am I okay or not? Right. So the bliss we have, find the path what gives you that bliss. I know mine. There I call it seven days for seven rules for a happy day, not a happy life. A happy day. Drink lots of water, eat healthy, exercise, be in touch with nature, do something of the art, call family and friends, and live your purpose. Do something that is true to yourself. Right? That’s now what is your seven rules or three or one rule? I, what brings you that state of joy? And don’t make them external, make them internal. Find it, then you’ll get there. Maybe it’ll go. I mean, I used to go to retreats a lot, go to retreats. I’m not against retreats. Retreats, help you taste what it means to be in that bliss. You know, I mean, some for the longest time I would put the same music on that would help my brain remember that blissful feeling I had when I was in a retreat. Right. So like, it’s just train yourself, like find it first, then try to replicate it. So if it’s a song or a piece of music that helps you get to that state of mind, play it all the time. If it’s a smell of Sage, that if you smell it, you know, get it to. Do that all the time, like I said, you like doing gradually these things, right? It wasn’t like immediately. So I would like train my mind, you know, it’s like, oh, when I exercise, I’m feeling blissed. Then do that all the time. Oh, when I’m meditating, I’m feeling blissed. Do that all the time. You know? So taste it, try to find. Develop the taste buds in your, you know, in your senses basically to taste that bliss, then once you arrive there and try to figure it out and put a structure, not structure to it, but identify it then say, okay, I know how to get there. Now after that live life, right. And life by default is going to like hit you because that’s life. It’s not only the good life is also the bad and the ugly. There’s going to be a colleague who’s going to annoy the heck out of you. Or it’s going to be a family member who says something that just ouch hurts you or whatever it is, right. Or some bad day in electronics. So it does now these are slipping days, right? Normal. All of us go through it. Go back. So when I, like, when I know I then go back into the practice, oh, if I walk in nature, I know I’ll feel better. Or if I exercise, I know. So I go into what I remember makes me feel better. Or if I just burn some Sage and puts Max Richter music on I’ll feel better, right? Like, well that helps me go fast, bounce back faster to the to the place of of, of, bliss is it like of contentment? It’s not bliss even. It’s the contentment. When life as is, is good enough. Right. Well, life is as you know, so interesting because we take life for granted. We get so excited. Let’s say, when we buy the sweater, I’m like, oh my God, that day, I’m excited. That minute I buy it, that then I get out of the store. I’m excited at the day I’m wearing it. I’m excited. And five months later, I’m miserable because I don’t have this and this and this, but I forget the excitement I had when I got my sweater. Right. So I actually think things are right there in front of all of us who just take them for granted and we forget the joyful moments. So now one of the things that helps me go back to the bliss is actually I look at this sweater, it’s like, I was like, oh my God. Remember how I felt when I got this sweater? Or I got this so fun. Oh my God. I was in so much joy and boom, I’m back to it. Right. So, you know, these are small tricks we do on our minds, but it’s possible and it’s works. At least it please. It works for me.

[00:40:35] Amardeep: I think when I was younger, I always used to go and travel because like I said, I needed a distraction, but at the time I thought that was bliss. And I think as I’ve grown older, one thing that I like to always think about is like living the life you don’t need to escape from, because if you need to go on vacation, to feel content or to feel blissful, that there’s something wrong in your daily life. And that’s why I really like your seven rules there because it’s something you can do every day. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. And I think that’s such a healthy attitude to take where it’s not about. I’d be happy if I buy this. I’ll be happy if I buy that or I’d be happy if I go here. It’s about what I’ve already got that made me happy before. And why have I stopped appreciating that? Why don’t I, I’m trying to think about things in my own house, like where, when I got my desk, for example, and it didn’t have to sit on the sofa and type away there that made such a difference. But then now I complained about the desk or be thinking about other things. So I think it’s always a good thing to remember, to go back and another exercise I like to do as well is where if you think about like your sweater for example, when you think about like, how amazing is it that you can even have that sweater about all different people that have contributed to that? Like it’s like, when we look at the world and there’s all these amazing things that have happened and things that people have built. But we just take them for granted. We all pass these buildings that have been built by like hundreds of people, and isn’t it amazing that that’s even possible if we lived a few hundred years ago or a few thousand years ago, they’d be amazed. So sometimes having that, like ignorant mindset about just being able to reset yourself and think, how did that even happen? Like, how is that even got to me, I think can really bring back that appreciation.

[00:42:16] Zainab: Exactly. Exactly. You know, it’s just, it’s right there in front of us and we forget all the time. Exactly. We just, it’s honestly, it’s things, a mental exercise, you know, of just, you know, like, I mean, what if we are joy for no reasons? Why do we have to always have a reason to be joyful? Why? Right. You know, I mean, Why, you know, what, if I am joy for no reason and all the reasons. It is impossible. I think this, we live in this world where especially, you know, in, in a celebrity driven world and we have this manufactured idea or image, you know, that is life is perfect. Now I happen to know a lot of celebrities in my life and everyone is suffering the same way. Everyone is talking the same way. Everyone is having their issues with their lives. And, you know, everyone is having, it’s just the persona we see on TV, you know, it’s just different. It’s a persona. It’s just the persona. Isn’t what, it’s, it’s a true aspect. It’s not a lie, but it’s just an aspect of our one life, right? Where you see, you know, you see me on TV. It is who I am, but it is maybe 10% of who I am or 30% of I am. I am also, these other things, you know, I am also, these other feelings. It’s not only that persona. And so we just have to get out of that comparison because I think that’s when it’s, you know, giving us meaning of things outside of us and not inside of us and giving us meaning of things we acquire by materially buying things, as opposed to, by acquiring within ourselves, you know? And oh, what I can tell you if I just a normal woman who is from Baghdad, Iraq, and, you know, got displays, been raped, succeeded, and failed in my career, lived and died in my life, can find a connection to my heart center in a way that is, I’m grateful for, so can everyone, so can everyone, there is nothing special about my journey. None. If anything, there was maybe depends on who you’re talking with at which culture, which country the sadness is, perhaps some more than others and less than others as well. But if I could arrive to my heart center, so can everyone, I believe that.

[00:45:08] Amardeep: Yeah, I think that’s well, you talked about there with you only see 10% of you on TV and it’s the same for everybody. Like everyone’s so multi-dimensional we can pass somebody in the street and we can think they’re so happy, but we don’t know about all the other things going on in whenever lives. And it’s also when you seek to be understood by the people. It’s difficult for them to see all of your different layers as well. So even during this conversation, we’ve talked about like your work in the Congo, but then we’ve also talked about you loving the smell of Sage, and it’s not that you have to have this narrow definition of who you are as a person, which I think sometimes people look at it as like they want their whole story to fit into a Twitter Bio. And that’s just not the way we work. We’ve got all these different things that sometimes don’t quite make sense together, but it’s who you are. And that’s okay that it doesn’t fit nicely into a box and people can wrap up and say, this is who Zainab is, or this is who this person is because we’re hard to label in that way, but we keep trying to do it anyway for some reason

[00:46:02] Zainab: It’s true, it’s very, very true. And so it’s upon each one of us to break that bondage off as [unintelligible] and dance, and say, I am not only this and I am not only that I, you know, I am all of it and none of it, you know you know, it’s my, one of my favorite poems. It says, dance when you’re broken open. Dance, and when you broke the bandage off, dance in the middle of the battlefield dance, when you are completely free and you know, so break the bandage off of what the society is telling us or cultures. It’s not even society it’s, it’s on a, it’s an in a structural economy. That’s, you know, that this is where, institutions can make money. So it’s not society by, by, by default, it’s just our economic system and we are a product of that, of that. But it also ultimately replies and response to us. And so the more we break from that bandage, the more the system adjust and accommodate to where we are. You see what I mean? So do we fly in someone’s else’s orbit or do we have, they cannot make system flight in our orbit. You know, when I first enrolled in Instagram and I was like, you know, you build your followers and dah, dah, dah. And I was like, I’m playing someone else’s game. This is not my game. I am playing someone else’s game. Well, how does life look like and what does it mean if I’m playing my game and let the economic structures come to me to accommodate my game.

[00:47:46] Amardeep: It’s been a pleasure to talk to you Zainab. Where can the listeners hear more about you and what you do?

[00:47:49] Well, I do recommend everyone to go to find That’s where you can listen to my podcast Redefined, where I interview people from all walks of life, from Hugh Jackman, to Annie Lennox, to Rob Angel, Kyodo Williams and where you can also look at what I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. What bringing with my colleagues and, and friends bringing wisdom of all time in one place for everyone to, to curate their own journey of healing.

[00:48:23] Perfect. The question I always end up point is, and you can say that you don’t even need a reason for this as well is, what’s one small thing that’s brought you joy recently?

[00:48:32] Zainab: What’s one small thing that brought me joy recently? It’s so easy. I mean, this morning I went on my bike for 25 minutes. It’s is so simple. It’s so simple. I use my morning and I was like, I left that exercise I was all sweaty and my heart is pumping and I was like, I felt joy. I’m not joking. I drank my two liters of water. I was like, yeah, I have it always with me. I already drank two bottles of water. I was like, I felt great. I was like, I read my book. I tried to start my morning, not by checking my emails or reading the news. I stopped by reading a book, whatever book I’m reading, and then I meditate and then I do my read my poem, and then I exercise and that’s when I hear the news. I promise you it was a joyful morning, just because I just simply did that.

[00:49:33] Amardeep: If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, I’d love it If you could leave me a five star review, it really helps get the message out further. Wherever you’re listening, it would be awesome If you could subscribe and share in your social media channels. If you want to see more of my work and advice, you can find all of the links in the show notes.

Thank you again for listening and I hope you have a lovely day.

Reach Your Goals Without Burning Out

Get my free Anti-burnout Toolkit and weekly tips to help you balance your work and life.