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April 28, 2023

201. Unlocking Joy with Michelle Burke: Transforming Stress into Happines

201. Unlocking Joy with Michelle Burke: Transforming Stress into Happines

Happiness Solved with Sandee Sgarlata. In this episode, Sandee interviews Michelle Burke. Michelle Burke is a sought-after leadership coach, facilitator, speaker, and founder and CEO of Energy Catalyst Group, a consulting and training company for...

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Happiness Solved with Sandee Sgarlata. In this episode, Sandee interviews Michelle Burke. Michelle Burke is a sought-after leadership coach, facilitator, speaker, and founder and CEO of Energy Catalyst Group, a consulting and training company for well-being. Over her twenty-year career, she gained a deep appreciation and perspective working with people and cultures from all walks of life. Michelle has trained thousands of participants to make positive change—bridging communication gaps getting in the way of a thriving workplace and a joy-filled life. Her mindfulness coaching helps women to be empowered and promoted into leadership roles. Garnering rave reviews, clients include Stanford University, Microsoft, Sony PlayStation, Snap Inc., and HP. She’s been featured in Business Week Magazine, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Wall Street Journal. Michelle is the author of The Valuable Office Professional and coauthor of 15 Minute Pause: A Radical Reboot for Busy People. She partnered with coauthor Lilamani de Silva to create Joy Cards, Personalogy™ games, and Teambuilder™, a card game to build collaboration. Michelle enjoys time with loved ones, cooking, fun adventures, reading, sports, and walking her dog Jadie.

 Connect with Michelle: https://energycatalystgroup.com/  

Connect with Sandee www.sandeesgarlata.com

Podcast: www.happinesssolved.com






00:00:10 This is happiness solved with America's happiness. Coach Sandee Sgarlata.


00:00:21 Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me today on So Happy You're Here. I'm Sandee Sgarlata. I was born in Virginia Beach and raised in the Baltimore Annapolis area and had very humble and tragic beginnings. And as a result, my life was a hot mess. Thankfully, 33 years ago, I got my act together and since that time I have dedicated my life to serving others and raising awareness that no matter what you've been through, you can choose happiness and live the life of your dreams.


00:00:51 Happiness Solved is dedicated to giving you content that is empowering, motivational, inspirational, and of course, a dose of happiness. It's my way to give back to the world and share other people's stories. This thing called life can be challenging and my guests share their amazing stories, wisdom and life lessons that demonstrate anyone can choose happiness. You see, happiness is a choice and the choice is yours. Today's episode is amazing and I am so grateful for you.


00:01:21 Thank you for listening and don't forget to leave a review and follow me on social media at Coach Sandee Sgarlata. Enjoy the show.


00:01:35 Michelle Burke, so exciting to see you again. Thank you so much for visiting me a second time around. Well, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. Yeah, mish for the audience.


00:01:48 Michelle and I recorded an episode last summer, I think it was, it was July of 2022 and for some reason there were some technical difficulties and the audio just was not working and so we rescheduled and here we are again. Yay. All right, so Michelle is a sought after leadership coach, facilitator speaker, and founder and CEO of Energy Catalyst Group, a consulting and training company for well being. I love it. That's so incredible.


00:02:19 And you also have the joy cards and you're going to do a reading with me in a little bit. Yes, I love the joy cards. But before we go there, can you just give me a brief? We all have a story. What is your background?


00:02:37 How did you get to where you are today? Well, we don't have that much time. I know, right? I tell people, do you have all day? Because it's going to take me all day to tell my story.


00:02:47 Exactly. Because when you said we all have a story, I'm like that's true. Well, I mean, the short version is I got into consulting, training and coaching back in my twenty s and I had this wonderful mentor and he is the reason why I got into the work that I'm doing today. And I love it. I became a certified coach 20 years ago and I love helping people.


00:03:19 I love helping people find what makes them sing. And ultimately, the well being part of it all came about because I got really stressed out many years ago for a variety of reasons. I had death in my family, I had work things going on. It just felt like it was piling on. And I had to do some soul searching and digging, if you will, to figure out how do I get out of this, how do I get back to being the positive and forward moving person that I knew myself to be.


00:04:04 I was really stuck. And after being able to do some soul searching and having a mentor and doing a lot of the things that are in these joy cards helped me get out of it. And it doesn't mean that I haven't fallen back in because of life circumstances. Yeah, life happens when we're busy making other plans, right? Exactly.


00:04:25 It's so true. And I think one of the things that you've talked about and I've read that you and I have in common and that is life does happen. And they throw you curveballs, and you don't know when and where and how, and you still need to keep moving forward because you're still alive and sometimes you don't feel like moving forward. And how do you do that with joy and happiness? How do you find the little gems, what we call joy gems, to keep moving forward so that you can have a smile on your face even when life may not look so great in the moment?


00:05:03 That's right. Yeah. Oh, I love it. And I love energy catalyst. Group.


00:05:08 And when I first saw it, of course I was thinking it was an energy company, but as I was reading the beginning of your bio, I'm like, Duh. Well, no, that's true. Well, it's because we're all energy, right? Right. Well, we are.


00:05:22 And it is an energy company because we're all energy, so yeah, that's right. We're either emitting positive energy or it's negative energy, and either one is contagious. And so I help people find ways to get back to recognizing their positive energy. Doesn't mean the negative energy goes away or that you're not going to fall into that. But how do you shift from being in that negative space to that positive space?


00:05:54 Yeah, so I love that you said that, because I have a three step formula I talk about with my clients. I take them from their zone of excellence to their zone of genius because we're in that zone of genius. That's when you're flowing, that's when everything is in alignment and opportunities just fall in your lap. Because most of us are operating in their zone of excellence. But so often you get frustrated and stressed and this and that, and self awareness is my first step in that formula.


00:06:24 So I love that you said that because yeah, you can't do anything without self awareness. It's not going to happen. Right. And sometimes that's why you need an outside objective perspective sometimes so that you can gain that self awareness. It's hard to do it on your own, especially when you're in it, like when you're stuck.


00:06:46 I know, for me, I can't do it. I mean, I have more tools now, thankfully, but when I started out, I didn't have those. And I was really grateful for a mentor who would point things out to me or ask me really challenging questions and have me reflect, and I was like, oh, wow. It's always that outside perspective. Because they can see things the way you can't.


00:07:13 That's right. Or how you're not willing to. Because many times we're just stuck in a story that's not serving us and we don't want to see another way of it. I know. I've been there thousands of times.


00:07:24 Oh, yeah, right. Yes. And sometimes it feels easier in the moment to just stay where you are. I know, because it's comfortable. Exactly.


00:07:35 I always say in order to grow, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And it's uncomfortable because it feels icky, and it's just like it doesn't feel good. And now I've learned that when I'm feeling that way, that's when I have to push myself a little further. Yes.


00:07:58 One of the great pearls of wisdom that my mentor gave me, he said, Michelle, feedback is your friend. Yes. Feedback is your friend, where whenever you can get feedback, take it in. And he goes and it doesn't mean that every piece of feedback is truth. That comes with a little more listening.


00:08:24 And I said, well, what do you mean by that? Because it's easy to get triggered when you get especially if you get negative or critical feedback. And he goes, well, think about it this way. If it resonates with you, you know when it's true, it's hard to ignore when, you know, somebody said something to you and you just are like, even though it doesn't feel good, like you said. And then he goes, there's times when you're going to get feedback from somebody who's just telling you something that's not really landing, it's not coming in, so you let it go.


00:08:57 You don't have to take it in and take it on. Right. Like, oh, wow. Yeah, good point. Well, because, you know, sometimes people love to give their opinions about you and they don't know the full thing, and that's their perception and their story, and they only know one side of things.


00:09:17 They don't know the whole picture. And there's times you have to take things with a grain of salt, as they say. Right? Yeah, absolutely. All right, so let's hear about your joy cards because I'm so excited to hear about your joy.


00:09:31 I love card decks. And while you're getting them ready, my experience has just been like when you do, and I know that's what you're going to do when you just randomly pick one, you're always shown exactly what you're meant to hear or learn or work on or something. Right. I used to do I'd have just a girl dinner party or whatever, just with my girlfriends, and I would just randomly not knowing where people were going to sit. I would just put cards underneath their plates, and we said, I'm like, all right, pull that out from underneath your plate and read it, because I didn't know who was going to sit where.


00:10:15 Sometimes people would just start laughing. Other times they would start crying, be like, oh, my God, I needed to hear this today. Thank you. I love doing stuff like that. Right?


00:10:26 I'm going to do that. I'm going to take that. I think that's a great idea. It's fun when you get your girlfriends together. And sometimes we do, like, different questions.


00:10:35 We'll ask different questions. And of course, this is why we're all drinking our favorite cocktail or glass of wine, you know, so it's not we're not all geeking out on self development, and it's just fun, right? Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think, you know, the interesting story about how These even came about is my co author Lalomini and I, like everyone during we created these during the pandemic, okay? And we created them because we were stressed out and anxious like most people during that time.


00:11:09 We just had gone into lockdown. I got a really bad case of COVID and Maloney was in New Zealand caring for her ill father, and we were stuck. We were in it. The news was horrible, and we were caught up in that like so many others. And finally one of us said to each other, jeez, we've got to find our joy again.


00:11:37 We've got to do something.


00:11:41 We were just in complaint and fear and stress, and it was just like this awful, you know, ongoing going nowhere. So I said, okay, then let's challenge each other to do one thing that brings you joy each day. I said, what is yours going to be? And she goes, Well, I don't know, so I'm going to go play the piano. I said, oh, I love that idea.


00:12:04 I said, I'm going to go walk my dog. I hadn't been out walking. Well, I couldn't walk because I was sick. But at the time, once I got better, I was able to go out and walk the dog, and that's one of my things that I really enjoy. And so once we started doing small things like that and we were checking in with each other to see whether or not we were doing things, and some things we tried, it just didn't work.


00:12:27 It didn't really do what we hoped it would do. And then we started noticing, our mood started to change. We were laughing more instead of complaining. And it didn't mean that obviously the pandemic was still going on. We were still in lockdown.


00:12:45 Her father was still ill. I still didn't have my energy back. And yet our mood and our attitude and our perspective had shifted. And when we really got to see that so tangibly in such a short amount of time, we thought, gosh, what if we put these into cards, and we could help others as well. All of our friends, whoever we were talking with, were feeling the same way.


00:13:13 We were initially stressed out, so that's how we did it. And then Long Money is an artist, and I suggested to have her put her artwork on the back of the cards, which I will share with everybody when I show the cards, when we do a little reading. And then we decided we wanted to put the activities that worked. Some of them came from my training programs. I did a lot of these types of things with my participants and also with some of my coaching clients.


00:13:48 And we put those into this deck as well. And we divided them up into four areas mind, body, heart, and soul. Love that. So there's a lot of different ways you can use them. If you just want to focus on your mind for a little bit, you could just pull out all the mind cards and just pick a card each day or the body or whatever.


00:14:09 Or you can just pick a random card and see what it has to say. And if it speaks to you, then that's the activity you do. And the idea, too, is to explore some things maybe that you haven't either done since you were a kid or maybe things that you thought, oh, that doesn't sound like fun. I don't think I want to do that. Maybe give it a try and see if it actually does work.


00:14:30 Maybe it does. And every single one of these activities have wellness and health benefits to each one of them. So it tells you why, if you do this activity, how it will actually change the neurochemical chemistry in your brain. So it really ignites those happy hormones like the serotonin and the dopamine and so on and so forth. So we really wanted to make sure that people understood this isn't just a little action that you can take today.


00:15:04 This is something that could actually make a difference in your life. Wow, that's incredible. So now we're on a mission to spread joy. Love it. Okay, so are you ready to do a little?


00:15:17 I am ready. Okay. All right, so I'm going to just I'm shuffling them right now. And so the different cards, beautiful bats of them. How many are in the deck?


00:15:34 There's 48. Okay. So there's twelve in each category. And of course they're larger, not as easy to shuffle. So I will go slowly, and then you can tell me when to stop and what card resonates for you.


00:15:57 How's that? Okay, that sounds great. All right, I'm looking at the colors. Yeah. That one with the red has just been sticking out.


00:16:14 That one right there? Yeah. Okay, right. So just share everything. That's beautiful.


00:16:21 Yeah. Okay. This is one of my favorites. I love this one. This is called plant the seeds.


00:16:29 Okay. So this is all about gardening. This is about gardening will do you good. I don't know if this is something you do, but digging in the dirt is good for the soul. Find a space to plant flowers, vegetables or herbs.


00:16:43 What will you grow? So on here it says number 29. So now I'm going to look up number 29 and see what the health benefits are. So here we are. So being outside strengthens and uses different muscle groups.


00:17:02 Gardening is one of the most popular ways of interacting with nature. It's considered therapy. Putting your hands in the soil, feeling the earth beneath your feet, and watching life grow has significant restorative and calming effect. This is supported by studies that show gardening reduces stress, anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety symptoms. Spending time outside, planting, watching seeds grow, and eating fresh food picked from your garden are grounding activities pun intended and have a positive effect on our mood and well being.


00:17:38 Gardening is also a great form of physical exercise that engages all sorts of muscles with walking, squatting, reaching, pushing and pulling without you even realizing you're breaking a sweat. Moving your body releases those feel good hormones in your brain such as serotonin and dopamine, which turn, which in turn lowers cortisol. That's the stress hormone. Being outdoors also exposes you to sunlight and increase vitamin D, which builds stronger bones and improves your mood. Start planting today.


00:18:09 Ready to get started?


00:18:14 So when you were talking about her gardening, it was like, I don't know about that. Oh, wow. But here's the funny thing, Michelle. Yeah. When I just got down to where we are now at the lake, I was with my stepdaughter and we went into this store and it was called Plant World.


00:18:37 And it was a place where you could like they have all these cool things and you can like, you know, glass containers. You can make these little garden little thingies and I don't know all this anyways and all sorts of stuff. And so we were talking about doing that and I was joking. I was like, well, can you teach me how to turn my black thumb green?


00:19:00 Oh, my gosh, that is so wild. That is so wild. And I used to be really into it and I've just fallen away from it. So thank you for that. And I'll stay tuned.


00:19:12 Yeah. May have to have a little herb garden or something. I think so. I think it's calling. It's calling me for sure.


00:19:21 Yeah. I love that. Yeah. I can give you a couple of other examples of different types of here's one that's a really great story. In one of my training programs, there was a section in the training where they had a 15 minutes pause and they weren't allowed to use their computers, couldn't do anything technical.


00:19:43 They weren't allowed to go back to work. They had to just do something else, whether it was having a conversation or what have you. This engineer decided to go write a love letter to his wife during that time. And so that's what he spent his time doing. He came back the next day and we were debriefing what everybody did during their 50 minutes pauses.


00:20:07 And he shared that. He gave the love letter to his wife, and his wife said to him, she teared up. And she said, I can't believe that you've written this letter. She goes, do you remember you used to write me letters when we first dating? And she was just overwhelmed with joy.


00:20:30 She said, they opened up a whole new he was talking about this. He was very emotional. And he said, you know, I had forgotten. I had forgotten that I had written her letters. And he has this one simple act have literally changed our 20 year marriage.


00:20:48 It just put this whole new spark back. Wow. Everybody in the room. You can imagine all the other men. I know, I'm getting all serious.


00:20:58 Well, it's interesting because I used to really enjoy gardening and so yeah, it's. Funny how we lose sight of the things that brought us joy when we were younger or that we just naturally did. And so now we have write a love letter to somebody that you love because we forget it's a simple act, and yet it has far reaching right. It has a far reaching impact. So where can people find the joy cards?


00:21:33 They can find them on Amazon. They can find them on Barnes and Barnes and Noble. And they should check their independent stores in the area because a lot of them are carrying it in their independent stores. Or you can ask them to get it. Nice.


00:21:51 It's 1999. It's a great gift for Mother's Day coming up or Easter or birthday or just because you want to give somebody a little gift of self care. I feel like this is a great way to have people practice self care. And I think that's one of the things that we need, especially as women need to do more of. It's a big part of my coaching.


00:22:16 I don't know if you hear that, but people are struggling to find time for themselves. Oh, yeah. And I think we all do. For me, I am so busy, and just this week, I'm in a real sweat equity phase. I showed you I'm launching an academy.


00:22:34 And so I know that it's just temporary, but even today, I took an hour and I laid down in bed. I meditated, I napped maybe ten minutes here, woke up, continued meditating, and that's my way to press the restart button. And I have to do it because you have to do something every day to take care of yourself. And all the little things that I have to do will get done. But I only have today, I can't go back and yeah.


00:23:11 Just have to take care of yourself. My gosh, this has been so much fun. I love the reading. What else can you share with the audience before we finish up today? Oh, gosh.


00:23:23 Well, I think what you were just saying that self care is really critical. I think if we could leave everybody with just a message of just asking themselves, what can I do for myself today? How can I be kind to myself today? And let go of the negative self talk internally, because that drives a lot of our actions. And so being able to kind of take a moment and pause and find one thing that brings you joy, we deserve that we are all busy.


00:23:58 And yet, you know what? Busy is going to be there tomorrow. That's right. Michelle, thank you so much. Please say hello to Liliama.


00:24:11 I know you're not alone. I'm just going to call it Lila. I do that with you. I'm like, you know what? Can I just call you this instead of like, sure, call me whatever you want.


00:24:23 Yeah, she'd have no problem with that. All right, everybody go on to Amazon or your local bookstore. Request that they bring those joy cards in and get a deck. I'm going to be getting a deck for sure and getting some as gifts for people because that is amazing. Oh, thank you.


00:24:41 Thank you so much. And thank you. I wish you great success with your new academy. I know it's good. Thank you.


00:24:47 Thank you, Michelle. Take care. Thank you, everyone.


00:25:01 It I certainly hope that you enjoyed today's interview. Thank you so much for joining me. And as always, I hope that you and your family are healthy and safe and that your lives are filled with peace, joy, and happiness. Take care, everyone.