The month of October honors a number of "causes" or "awarenesses" in the United States. It is Hispanic Heritage Month, ADHD Awareness Month, LGBTQ+ History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Book Month, and also: Depression Awareness Month.
As such: I decided to release my tenth single for 2023 during October to honor Depression Awareness month with a song that I wrote when I was 14years old, called: The Way I Am.
Now to give you some context, by age 14, I was two years into my "relationship" with depression, but I was also 24 surgeries deep into hydrocephalus, and two up-close-and-personal meetings in with sexual assault.
And I was broken.
I felt like I had to fight tooth and nail to be taken seriously, to be respected, and to be heard. I felt like I practically had to scream in order to be noticed as a HUMAN and not some weird trophy or party trick. I knew I was intelligent, but I spent so much energy trying to prove myself that I found myself falling down time and time again.
So, of course, I turned to songwriting as the only tool I knew to try and make people understand who I was - without the judgments, or competitiveness, or [gulp] the pity. I wanted to tell people that I was unapologetically who I was [and who I was becoming] not because of my trauma, but in spite of it.
I was angry. And hurt. And knew only about how to sing my pain, rather than my healing.
Little did I know, at age 14, that by writing and singing my story [and my truth] what I was actually doing was creating my own reality... and it was completely up to me what that reality was going to look like. Yes, of course: I was writing about staying true to myself in the face of adversity, but what did I want that truth to look like? Did I want to stay angry? Bitter? Misunderstood? Or resentful?
Or did I want to - instead - turn the misery into something powerful that would potentially make my life more fulfilled, resilient, and positive?
Well, dear reader, it took me a little longer than 14years of existence to figure out, but when I did: my world changed.
Lesson One: Emotions are Energy in Motion
Writing The Way I Am was powerful lesson in understanding that we can either lean into our pain, and stay there, or recognize the pain as a lesson in learning, and use it as a catalyst to make positive change in our lives.
Singing lyrics such as the following are perfect examples of the former:
And I try so hard
To be the best I can
And although that may not live up to you
That’s the way I am.
It was almost as if I was setting myself up to be forever in fight mode... when all I wanted was to be seen, heard, understood, and loved. Healthily. Without being manipulated, abused, or taken advantage of.
But I didn't know yet how to direct my energy more healthily or productively.
Lesson Two: It's Not You, It's Me
Approximately 15 years into my songwriting journey, I was in the middle of a co-writing project with my then-guitarist Chris Yong, in my band Static Era. We were already performing and recording songs I'd written, but he challenged me one day to turn my fight mode into a more productive - more strategic, if you will - fight mode where, instead of fighting against myself or the world, I was fighting FOR myself and the world.
It's a subtle mindset shift, but what a concept! I had spent so much time and energy writing songs that felt like declarations of my independence, but what I was actually doing was reveling a little too much into the negative feelings that I often got lost in the sauce.
I needed to understand the duality of the situations I had endured, and recognize the power that I held in response to those situations. Hey, if someone can survive 10 brain surgeries: chances are they can survive quite a bit, right? But I needed to be the one to come to that realization. I needed to embrace the fact that my mental and emotional state were far more in my own control than I knew, or even cared to admit.
In saying that, however, I need to make mention of:
Lesson Three: It's Okay to Feel
Feelings are normal. Feelings are important. Feelings are imperative to our human experience. It is impossible to lead a truly happy life if you don't allow yourself to also feel the yuck feelings from time to time. In fact, to deny those feelings can be super dangerous, leading to eventual anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and other stress-related illnesses such as
Frequent colds and infections
Stomach pain and digestive problems
Tension headaches and migraines
Loss of libido
Potency problems in men
Yeah... feeling is important. BUT what we do with those feelings is, dare I say it, even more important.
Which leads me to:
Lesson Four: Turning Struggle into Song
One of the key ways that I help my clients understand the power of their thoughts, words and actions is by showing them how to turn their struggles into song. It's a nine-step process, but one of the most empowering steps of the process is step number 5: who are you talking to, and what are you trying to say? This is the songwriters opportunity to take the negative feelings they may be experiencing, and turning them into something positive and empowering.
Oh, it's raining today? That might be miserable for some, but rest assured: the flowers are going to be happy!
Oh, there's a detour on your usual route to work? That's frustrating, and might make you a little bit late, but what a gorgeous opportunity to see some new scenery, and perhaps experience something that brings you joy?
Each and every "negative" experience we go through has the potential to bring happiness to our lives... if we choose to make it so. Think it so. Write it so.
Let's Take It One Step Further - and Look at How To Do This
Like I mentioned earlier, there's always a duality when it comes to how we respond to the world, events and chaos around us.
The Mayo Clinic recently put together an article on how powerful words can be - especially when it comes to the messaging we tell ourselves:
"I've never done it before" [disempowering] becomes "It's an opportunity to learn something new" [empowering].
"It's too complicated" [negative] becomes "I'll tackle it from a different angle" [positive]
"I don't have the resources becomes "necessity is the mother of invention".
"There's no way it will work" becomes "I can try to make it work".
"No one bothers to communicate with me" becomes "I'll see if I can open the channels of communication"
"I'm not going to get any better at this" becomes "I'll give it another try".
In fact, I'll take it one step further, and suggest that every single happiness quote you've ever heard was born because of a negative, adverse, or chaotic thought or event.
So to that end, here are...
100 Best Motivation and Happiness Quotes - According to Emma G
- “We cannot solve problems with the kind of thinking we employed when we came up with them.” — Albert Einstein
- “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” — Oprah Winfrey
- “Learn as if you will live forever, live like you will die tomorrow.” — Mahatma Gandhi
- “Stay away from those people who try to disparage your ambitions. Small minds will always do that, but great minds will give you a feeling that you can become great too.” — Mark Twain
- “When you give joy to other people, you get more joy in return. You should give a good thought to happiness that you can give out.”— Eleanor Roosevelt
- “When you change your thoughts, remember to also change your world.”—Norman Vincent Peale
- “It is only when we take chances, when our lives improve. The initial and the most difficult risk that we need to take is to become honest. —Walter Anderson
- “Nature has given us all the pieces required to achieve exceptional wellness and health, but has left it to us to put these pieces together.”—Diane McLaren
- “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty." — Winston Churchill
- “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” — Will Rogers
- “You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.” — Unknown
- “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” — Dalai Lama
- “Opportunities don't happen, you create them.” — Chris Grosser
- “Everything you've ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.” — George Addair
- “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot
- “Don't let someone else's opinion of you become your reality” — Les Brown
- “If you’re not positive energy, you’re negative energy.” Mark Cuban
- “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” — Stephen R. Covey
- “The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand
- “If you can dream it, you can do it.” ―Walt Disney
- “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ―Theodore Roosevelt
- “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” — Babe Ruth
- “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.” ―Vernon Sanders Law
- “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” — Thomas A. Edison
- “Goal setting is the secret to a compelling future.” — Tony Robbins
- “He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” — Confucius
- “You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction.” — George Lorimer
- “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” —Drew Houston
- “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart
- “Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.” —Drake
- “Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” —Augustine Og Mandino
- “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs, one step at a time.” — Joe Girard
- “Be a positive energy trampoline – absorb what you need and rebound more back.” — Dave Carolan
- “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar
- “Don't look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.” ―Anne Lamott
- “Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” —Warren Buffet
- “True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” ―Mortimer J. Adler
- “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ―A.A. Milne
- “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ―Martha Graham
- “Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination itself.” ―Jason Fried
- “He that can have patience can have what he will.” ―Benjamin Franklin
- “The only one who can tell you “you can’t win” is you and you don’t have to listen.” —Jessica Ennis
- “Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.” —Bo Jackson
- “Take your victories, whatever they may be, cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them.” —Mia Hamm
- “Work until your bank account looks like a phone number.” — Unknown
- “I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” — Oscar Wilde
- “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” — Winnie the Pooh
- “Life is like a sewer… what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” — Tom Lehrer
- “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realise I should have been more specific.” — Lily Tomlin
- “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” — William James
- “One of the differences between some successful and unsuccessful people is that one group is full of doers, while the other is full of wishers.” — Edmond Mbiaka
- “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” —Lucille Ball
- "You cannot plow a field by turning it over in your mind. To begin, begin." ―Gordon B. Hinckley
- “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…” – Marcus Aurelius
- “Mondays are the start of the work week which offer new beginnings 52 times a year!“ – David Dweck
- “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice.” – Wayne Dyer
- “Your Monday morning thoughts set the tone for your whole week. See yourself getting stronger, and living a fulfilling, happier & healthier life.” – Germany Kent
- “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” —Zig Ziglar
- “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.” —Pablo Picasso
- “Don't settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had.” —Angela Bassett
- “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” —Isabel Allende
- “Don't bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.” ―David Ogilvy
- “I have stood on a mountain of no’s for one yes.” —Barbara Elaine Smith
- “If you believe something needs to exist, if it's something you want to use yourself, don't let anyone ever stop you from doing it.” —Tobias Lütke
- “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.” —Steve Jobs
- “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” —Albert Einstein
- “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” —Mark Twain
- “If you can't yet do great things, do small things in a great way.” ―Napoleon Hill
- “If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.” ―Jim Rohn
- “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” ―Abraham Lincoln
- “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” —Stephen Covey
- “Do not wait for the perfect time and place to enter, for you are already onstage.” —Unknown
- “The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it.” ―Epicurus
- Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." —Mary Anne Radmacher
- “If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person.” ―Clayton M. Christensen
- “Fear of what other people will think is the single most paralyzing dynamic in business and in life. The best moment of my life was the day I realized that I no longer give a damn what anybody thinks. That’s enormously liberating and freeing, and it’s the only way to live your life and do your business” — Cindy Gallop
- “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” ―Arthur C. Clarke
- "Worry is a misuse of imagination." —Unknown
- “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” ―Maya Angelou
- "I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now." —Edna Mode
- "A year from now you will wish you had started today." —Unknown
- "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." —Steve Furtick
- "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” —Carl Sagan
- “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me.” —Jay-Z
- “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” —Arianna Huffington
- “If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” —Erica Jong
- “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” — Henry Ford
- “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius
- “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer
- “We must reach out our hand in friendship and dignity both to those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy.” — Arthur Ashe
- “It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” — Bill Gates
- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given a no. Only to find that a better, brighter, bigger yes was right around the corner.” — Arlan Hamilton
- “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” — Ariana Huffington
- “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” — Henry Ford
- “You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” — Wayne Dyer
- “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
- “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” — Arthur Ashe
- “Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle” – Ross Simmonds
- "Take the bullshit, turn it into fertilizer, and use it to plant your garden" — Emma G 😉
Adding the Music to the Mindset
Okay, so quotes aside - why do I choose to add music to the mix? Great question.
If you watched my first TEDx Talk on How Music and Songwriting Saved Me after having had Ten Brain Surgeries: you'll already know the answer here, but music does several wonderful things to the brain:
Boosts our oxytocin levels, which boosts our social connections and happiness levels
Increases our dopamine levels, which lets us feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation
Decreases our levels of cortisol: our stress hormone
Stimulates our nucleus accumbens and amygdala - which is in charge of our emotional responses
Stimulates our pre-frontal cortex, which is in charge of our behavior, expression and decision making
Triggers our hippocampus, which is in charge of our memories associated to music
If you watched my second TEDx presentation on Turning Struggles into Songs: you'll have heard first hand examples of what it looks like through the lens of my own original music.
In other words: if we can embrace negative emotions, experiences and thoughts, take the time to understand them, and recognize the silver linings in those adverse situations, and turn that positive thought process into a tangible song that we can remember, sing, and even share with our communities, we can - quite literally - use that difficult life lesson to make us happier, more connected, motivated, and healthier human beings.
Who am I?
If you're new to this blog series, welcome. My name is Emma G and I'm an award-winning singer/songwriter, youth empowerment worker, and TEDx speaker among other things... and my entire mission is to remind YOU of your power when it comes to turning your struggles into empowering songs for yourself.
This month, being Depression Awareness Month, I'm doing this with the release of my latest single The Way I Am by running a campaign that focuses on joy - and how much control we have when it comes to embracing happiness in our lives.
I embrace joy through music - especially when it comes to turning my pain into a powerful personal soundtrack of original music that helps me hold onto, honor, and celebrate the life lessons I've endured.
If you're interested in learning about how to do this for yourself, I'd love to to get on a call with you to talk about your journey to joy through music.
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
~ Emma G