Indie Lee and Jenna discuss making the choice to live the life we truly want to be living right now, using joy as our life compass, and striving to make the most out of every moment.
How To Start Living Your Most Fulfilling Life
There was a distinct moment in my conversation with Indie Lee where I felt like time stopped and I could feel my perspective shifting. She said…“You know that saying don’t sweat the small stuff? That’s what it is. It’s all small stuff. I have chosen joy. And, I let that bleed into everything I do.” Hearing her say, I have chosen joy, really struck me. What would our lives look like if we chose joy in every moment? If we stayed present by focusing on the good? Since talking to Indie, I’ve shared “Choose Joy” with everyone I’ve met, and decided to make it my mantra.
Nine years ago, when she was 37 with two young children, Indie was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and told she had six months to live. Despite doctors she visited sharing the same prognosis, she told each: “Thank you so much for your opinion. I appreciate it, but I’m going to find someone with a different diagnosis.”
She eventually did: A neuroendocrinologist who asked her a question that would not only save her life, but spark a personal awakening in the process: What’s in your skincare?
At that moment, in the doctors office, she says “I knew that my legacy was going to be creating change in this industry and that I was going to empower others to live their healthiest and happiest life.” That’s exactly what she’s done, and what makes her story so special is that she didn’t just use her positive attitude to reverse a grave diagnosis. She harnessed it as a catalyst to dedicate her life to encouraging others to start living their’s. In addition to choosing joy, which I hope you’ll do too, these are the insights I’m most grateful to carry with me from our time with Indie.
– On being in the driver’s seat of your life: It’s so easy to shift into autopilot as we navigate our daily routines and responsibilities, which is why I really appreciated this insight Indie shared about her wake-up call on the way to the hospital after finding out she had a brain tumor:
“It was a beautiful fall day in New York. And, as I was driving to the hospital, I realized that for the past 37 years I had been a passenger in my own life. I wasn’t driving it. I forgot to live full out with passion, purpose, and being fully present in every moment.”
Rather than waiting for a sign to be present in your life, why not have your own awakening moment right now and start really living?
– On focusing on what you can control: In the six months between her diagnosis and her surgery, which, even if successful, could have left her blind, Indie decided to start building the business as a way to reclaim her independence and channel her attention away from her diagnosis. By managing her mindset, she shares, she only had a few tough days during the six months leading up to her surgery.“This company helped me live just as much as my living helped me build this company,” she says. “I believed that by staying positive, focused, and choosing not to tax my body with stress I could help heal myself and boost my immune system…There are so many things that my body has overcome that nobody can make sense of. I truly believe it’s having that positive state of mind.”
– On loving your Monday: When Indie was working as a CPA, she experienced the Scary Sundays every week, dreading the end of the weekend and the beginning of the week. Once she started her skincare line, Monday became her favorite day. I love the way she encourages people to design their professional lives with that in mind: “You want to get to the point where Monday is your favorite day of the week.” If you aren’t there yet, what’s one change you can make right now to better enjoy your work week?
– On living vibrantly: Having fun and experiencing life, and encouraging others to do the same, is a big theme for me this year, largely inspired by Indie, which she articulated perfectly: “For me, living vibrantly is about living full out and not playing it safe. Being passionate and positive about everything you are able to do. Taking the moments, even the mundane ones, and thinking about how you can make them fun. Play the music when you are cleaning your house. Dance while your vacuuming. It’s about joie de vivre: Experiencing the joy of life.”
– On living your one life: This is a powerful insight to return to when you’re afraid to do something you’d really like to do: “Life is not a dress rehearsal. I don’t want to waste any moment I have. It’s so precious. Why not choose to live it vibrantly and joyfully?”
– On being in and appreciating the present moment: We live in a society that’s constantly focused on attaining more: A fancier title, a higher salary, a bigger house, the list goes on. Ambition is important and necessary, but often gets in the way of our experiencing and appreciating the journey, especially because when you do get that new title, you’ll likely start focusing on the next promotion. Indie explained this best when she said: “If you wait your whole life for the big moments you’ll have wasted so much time waiting. And, waiting begets waiting. How do you think you’re going to feel in that moment? Elated? Why not feel elated right now? Go out and live it.”
– On appreciating difficulty: I often find it challenging to focus on the lesson in the midst or aftermath of making a mistake or being in a tough situation. So, I really appreciated the way Indie put difficulty in perspective:
“Even when I have a bad day I’m grateful for it and I show it gratitude by saying ‘Thank You.’ First, because I am alive to experience it. There was a point in my life where I didn’t know if I would be able to experience difficulty. Second, you don’t know what a good day is or what joy feels like if you haven’t experienced the opposite. So, for me I am thankful for both having the ability to experience tough days and to know the contrast of joy and heartache. I cycle through it a little bit faster because I know I am not going to die from it. We’re going to get through it.”
I’ve since found it valuable to take a step back in these situations and ask myself: At the end of your life, at the end of this year even, is what you’re worried about right now going to matter? The answer is almost always no.
– On loving yourself: In discussing how Indie’s journey learning to love herself, which truly began when she was 40, continues to lead to happiness and growth, we questioned why we don’t start loving ourselves earlier in life. She shared a valuable question we can all benefit from asking ourselves: “I think it’s important that we ask: Why aren’t we loving ourselves? Because we aren’t perfect? There is no such thing as perfection. We are all perfectly imperfect. So let’s start loving ourselves more.”
– On friendship rituals: Indie and I closed our conversation with special rituals we each do with our best friends. Every morning for the last nine years, beginning when Indie got sick, she and her best friend Dana, who also works with her and she says she wouldn’t be alive without, text each other GMS, short for Good Morning Sunshine. “No matter where we are in the world, every morning is a GMS. It’s a reminder that today is going to be an incredible day and that we are always there for each other. It’s important to remind each other how special we are to each other.”
Before you close this page, why not follow Indie’s lead and text your best friend a quick note of gratitude. You’ll make their day!
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