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How Morita Therapy and ACT Help Improve Your Well-Being

with Carly Taylor

How Morita Therapy and ACT Help Improve Your Well-Being

So many things seem to be beyond our control in this fast-paced world. As a result, we've developed anxieties and worries that we carry every day. 

With their weight, we may find it more challenging to achieve even the most minor goals. 

So, how do you get through these thoughts and feelings? How can you reach success and improve your well-being?

Carly Taylor joins us today in this episode to teach us how to deal with things outside of our control. Through her discussion, you'll hopefully learn about how to recognise and optimise your thoughts and emotions for your greater good. Carly also shares about helpful tools she's discovered and practised, including Morita therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).

On Morita Therapy and ACT

If you want to deal with the daily pressures of your life healthily, you'll learn helpful things from this episode.

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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn how to manage your thoughts and feelings to live a fuller life.
  2. Gain some insights on how to recognise and manage seemingly uncontrollable situations.
  3. Discover what ‘being present’ means to you.


Episode Highlights

[04:32] Carly's Background

  • Carly is a mindset coach who follows multiple Japanese ideologies.
  • There are three Japanese ideologies she knows about: Morita, Kaizen, and Naikan.

    However, she only mainly practices the Psychology of Action of Morita Therapy.

    She also includes Stoicism and commitment therapy.
  • Kaizen therapy is making changes incrementally yet continuously. It involves encouraging yourself to become better. On the other hand, Naikan therapy exercises the art of self-reflection. Both can improve your well-being. 
  • She had backgrounds in music and advertising. These supplied her with the skills to help other people.
  • Her husband learned about a 10-day course. The next thing she knew, she was on the way to Vermont to attend it. 

[10:27] The Reason for Automatic and Anxiety-Inducing Thoughts

  • Assess which things in your life are within your control.
  • You cannot control automatic thoughts and emotions. They pop out when you encounter a situation. However, you can manage them and improve your well-being.
  • You have to monitor and observe your thoughts. Assess whether or not they are helpful. Some negative automatic thoughts used to be beneficial for survival during ancient times, but not anymore.
  • The amygdala is responsible for these emergency responses and automatic thoughts. The amygdala can also help when you need to make now-or-never decisions.
  • To balance it out, the prefrontal cortex lets you analyse whether these automatic thoughts are logically sound.

[18:50] How to Approach Things Out of Your Control

  • Most people worry about what other people think about them.
  • Back then, we had to empathise with other people's needs to thrive within a tribe or community. 
  • Nowadays, we have too many connections through social media. We get pressured because of the appearances our friends and acquaintances share online.
  • Assess whether your thoughts and feelings are helpful. Redirect your energy and be productive to improve your well-being.
  • Make room for your thoughts and feelings. Tools like breathing and exercise can help you improve your well-being. Listen to the episode to learn more helpful tools.

[21:09] The Use of Comforts and Discomforts of Life

  • Morita therapy uses two opposing thoughts: the desire to live fully and the desire to be secure and comfortable.
  • Even successful events give you a level of discomfort and anxiety. 
  • We seek comfort all the time. Sometimes we may not even want to go through the emotional, physical, and financial challenges.
  • But you can take the discomfort with you. You can coexist with it while still achieving great things. 

[24:39] Teaching Yourself to Improve Your Well-Being

  • Suppressing your fears or intense emotions will get you stuck.
  • Practice getting uncomfortable or harvesting discomfort. 
  • Start with minor and straightforward tasks so you can have more control. Do it incrementally so you can train yourself to become more resilient. Do this to improve your well-being.
  • You'll learn how to improve your well-being in more complicated situations.
  • Daily rituals are essential. It can be as simple as having a cold shower, much like Carly does.

[28:02] Know Your Limits

  • Pushing the limits can be a great thing. 
  • However, psychology and biology set a limit. You have to work within this limit. You may get burnout instead of crossing this line. 
  • You can't always go through hard times. It defeats the purpose of life, which needs to be a dynamic journey.
  • You can still prevent adverse outcomes from happening by staying healthy. You can improve your well-being.

[31:13] Reflection Exercises

  • A simple yet powerful question is, ‘What would you do differently?’
  • Spending more time with the family is usually the top 1 thing people want to do.
  • Think about the regrets you may have when you are on your deathbed and act on them. Aligning with your most significant priorities will let you live a fuller life.
  • Take every opportunity to be with someone before it's too late.

[34:54] Helpful Routines 

  • Carly follows a waking-up-early challenge. She tries to avoid phones and computers and instead enjoys silence in her mornings.
  • Carly also journals about minor things. She remembers the little things she appreciated from yesterday. 
  • You should be able to pay to enjoy good things more to improve your well-being, or at least in the same way as you linger on with painful thoughts.
  • The simple silence helps. It can help instead redirect your attention from stressful thoughts and improve your well-being.
  • You can calm down and find what you're in control of instead of what you can't. Then, you can achieve calmness and peace of mind.

[44:33] Being Present Makes All the Difference

  • A study found how people were happier when they were living in the moment. A wandering mind achieves the opposite of this.
  • It matters to focus your full attention on what you are doing. Finish your inherent task at first, even if they're boring.
  • Sometimes your brain will tell you you're not fit for the task at hand. But know that these thoughts are often your excuses preventing you from improving your well-being.
  • Prioritise the most urgent and important tasks first before moving to the following systems and processes.
  • Don't feel guilty about giving time to the people who matter in your lifetime. They are also important.

[52:35] Final Thoughts

  • Having a purpose-driven life instead of an emotionally-driven life can improve your well-being.
  • Your purpose can be minor things in the moment, like cleaning the kitchen or learning new technology.

[54:02] Carly and Paul's 8-Week Program

  • Carly and Paul do weekly sessions every Tuesday and reflect on the significant aspects of their lives.
  • They use an app where you can check on your daily rituals.

7 Powerful Quotes 

'I use the modalities of Japanese psychology and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and I also throw in a bit of Stoicism as well. Because all three of those modalities are just so intertwined. And it's just what I find incredible is what's relevant today is what was relevant back 2000 years ago.'

‘I then looked at life coaching, and it kind of didn't really resonate with me, then by the time I kind of was, you know, trying to figure out what direction I was going to go that my background is completely different.'

'I mean, we're all individuals. And we're productive, you know, from when we are born right up to our experiences, right up until this present moment.'

'But what makes us unique is that we're able to observe our thoughts. And if we can create that space between us and our thoughts, we can look at that thought more in an analytical way rather than in an emotional way.'

'So that's sort of the acceptance part of what's in our control, what's not in our control, and the big one is those thoughts and emotions.'

'Well, I mean, what other people think is a huge one for the majority of my clients, it is the number one fear if you want to call it or or anxiety or worry is what others think of them.'

'But it's that sort of everyday anxiety that we feel. And it's this, sort of focus on the discomfort and wanting to get rid of it. And when that's intense, this is not easy.'

About Carly Taylor

Carly Taylor is a certified nutritionist, health trainer and personal coach. She is also a qualified Japanese Psychology therapist who applies Morita therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).

She shares her tools and learnings through her Mindset Coaching. As a guarantee to her clients, Carly also uses the tools she teaches in her coaching sessions. Through her coaching, she helps people change their mindset and break barriers that used to hold them back. As a result, her clients develop skills and achieve success despite their situations.

With her passionate approach towards research, she continues to learn about new practices and tools to navigate life. Along with her husband, Paul, Carly also helps groups of people achieve peak performance through the Mind, Body, Brain Performance Institute

If you want to learn more about Carly and her coaching approach, you can visit her website or Instagram.

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To pushing the limits,


Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential. With your host, Lisa Tamati. Brought to you by lisatamati.com.

Lisa Tamati: Welcome back, everybody to Pushing the Limits. And this week, I have the lovely Carly Taylor to guest. Carly is the wife of Paul Taylor, who was also recently on this program, and who I absolutely loved. The amazing woman who is with Paul is Carly Taylor. Now Carly is an ACT therapist and a Morita psychology therapist. So what the heck is that all about, you might be thinking. Well, she's somebody that helps you if you have problems with anxiety, with depression, with overthinking, all of those things that many of us really deal with. So today's episode is all around giving you the tools to help with all those from the point of view of ACT therapy or Acceptance Commitment Therapy, as well as the Japanese psychology, Morita therapy. Now, Carly is also a qualified nutritionist, a certified personal trainer, and a certified health coach. She brings over 10 years’ experience in the area of behavior change. So I'm really hopeful that you're going to enjoy this episode with Carly. She's a very lovely lady, and she has a lot to give you. So enjoy that. 

Before we head over to the show, make sure that you check out our epigenetics program. This is our flagship program that we use as a framework for all people that we're doing health coaching with, the people that we're doing running coaching with. And it's really helping you optimise your genes. So learning about what your genes are all about, who you are specifically, unique you, and then optimising you. So in all areas, we're looking at mood and behavior, we're looking at your dominant hormones. We look at the career path that may be right for you, we look at the way your brain thinks, at what time of the day you should be doing different activities. We're also, of course, looking at exercise and nutrition specific to your gene. So if you want to find out more about that program, head on over to lisatamati.com, hit the ‘Work With Us’ button, and you'll see our Peak Epigenetics program. Come and find out all about it, or drop me a line at support@lisatamati.com, and we'd love to help you with it. We do run webinars so we can send you some information on it. It takes a little bit to get your head around, but I tell you this is the future of personalised health. No longer is it a one size fits all approach. This is all specific to you. It's very scientific and very evidenced-based. So I hope you'll come and join us on that program. We've taken literally now hundreds and hundreds of people through this program, and it gives us fantastic results. We also have a course, our online run training system that's personalised, customised to your specific goals at runninghotcoaching.com. Find out all about the package and what's involved there. This is not, by no means, just for elite athletes. I don't want people to think that it's just for ultra-marathon runners or just for people that are doing crazy adventures. This is for you. If you're just getting off the couch, if you're doing your first K. It's also for you if you are doing your hundredth marathon, ultra-marathon or marathon. So find out all about that at runninghotcoaching.com. Right now, over to the show with the lovely Carly Taylor.

Hi, everyone, and welcome to Pushing the Limits. It's fantastic to have you back with me again. Today, I have the lovely Carly Taylor with me. Welcome to the show, Carly, it's fantastic to have you.

Carly Taylor: Oh, thanks for having me. It's good to be here.

Lisa: Super excited. Carly is the famous wife of Paul Taylor, who I've had recently on my podcast too, and who I really connected with. I think he's an absolute legend, your husband. What he's doing is absolutely—I think he's probably as crazy as me, if not worse.

Carly: And he’s passionate, I think.

Lisa: And is passionate, and silly, and crazy. So I thought, ‘Who is this amazing woman that is with Paul Taylor? Because she'd have to be probably something special.’ I started researching into what you do. And I thought, ‘Oh, I have to have you on the show as well.’ So welcome, Carly. It's really exciting to have you. Today, we're going to talk about Morita therapy, and ACT therapy. I'll let you explain what all that is and give us a bit of your background. But can you just tell us who you are, where you're from, and all that sort of jazz?

Carly: I do one-on-one coaching. I'm a mindset coach, but with a bit of a twist because I use the modalities of Japanese psychology, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and I also throw in a bit of Stoicism as well. Because all three of those modalities are just so intertwined. It's just—what I find incredible is what's relevant today is what was relevant back 2,000 years ago, and also in the Eastern, in the Japanese psychology as well. So with Morita—so the Japanese psychology there were three components to it. So it’s Morita therapy, which is also known as the Psychology of Action. Which is kind of unusual because you kind of think of Eastern philosophy and what you think of meditation and contemplation and all that sort of stuff. But Morita therapy is very much about purpose and action. Then there's Naikan, which is the self-reflection exercise that you can do, and then Kaizen as well, which is that sort of incremental things that you can do to improve over time. But my main focus is Morita therapy.

Lisa: So, how did you get into this? What was your background before you got into? How did you get into mindset coaching? What's your personal story?

Carly: It’s really evolved. I've always been someone who likes helping people. Over the years, I was kind of the go-to whenever friends had problems, and I looked at—

Lisa: The shoulder to cry on.

Carly: Yeah, exactly. I was always the shoulder. But, I started off looking into life coaching. I did when we're in Scotland, I did voluntary work with ChildLine Scotland. That was such a brilliant organisation, and they have really good training. So I kind of started my training with that, and counseling over the phone with young people. I really got a lot out of it. I then looked at life coaching and it kind of didn't really resonate with me. Then by the time I was trying to figure out what direction I was going to go - my background is completely different; my background is music and advertising - so I kind of did it and adapted then and tried to sort of play to my strengths, I guess. Had kids, and so, my focus was on the kids. Paul was building his business and doing a lot of traveling, doing a lot of extra educational stuff, just continually learning. And I was doing that, sort of in the background as well, but not with the intensity that he was doing because I was with the kids. 

And then he was listening to the Art of Manliness podcast. Greg Krech, who is a Morita therapy expert, was on and talking about the Psychology of Action. Paul was just like ‘Oh, my God, this guy is amazing and so aligned with the stuff that we're doing,’ and looked into it a bit further. We worked out that he did this certification course over in the States. And Paul just said to me, ‘Right, it's your turn.’ It's like, ‘This is all you. If you don't do it, I'll do it, then it's your turn.’ So I was way out of my comfort zone. First time I left the kids, and that traveled over to Vermont, in the States. Did a 10-day residential component of the certification, and then came back, and then studied for a year and a half. That's how I got into it. It really, that 10 days at the ToDo Institute really completely changed my life. It was the first thing. Jumping to one of the components of Morita therapy is around attention and where your attention is. One of the first things Greg said in the course was, ‘Your life is not based on your life. Your life is based on what you pay attention to’. And I was just like, ‘Well, that's an—,’ and it kind of just took it from there. And then when I got back, I started just slowly getting clients with the Japanese psychology, and then I discovered ACT, which is Acceptance Commitment Therapy, which was started by Steven Hayes in the 1980s. It is more of a modern approach, but same principles. It's Japanese psychology. So I combined both of them, and I just loved them, and I use the tools myself every day.

Lisa: And you've turned it into the Carly therapy.

Carly: Yes, Carly therapy.

Lisa: Yeah. Because you do—you take, I do this too. Like bits of this, and a bit of that, and a bit of like your own recipe or what resonates with you. What you find is working and so—

Carly: Yeah, and what I actually love about it is it's not just about, it was started by Shoma Morita who was the Japanese psychiatrist in 1920. He started it for patients with anxiety, a form of neurosis. It started as an in-patient program. He had quite a strict protocol that they went through. But what I love is that you can apply these principles into just your daily life. So it's not just about emotional well-being. it's about living fully every day using these principles.

Lisa: So let's dive into it a little bit then. If someone comes to you with anxiety, depression, something like that, where would you start with them? So like we can—what I want to get to is how do we pull out some of the tools and some of the learnings that some people can take some value away from this conversation today? So where would you start? What's this type of thing that you're looking at? What sort of tools and processes do you go through?

Carly: One of the first exercises that I will do with them is to look at their life and identify what's in their control, and not what is not within their control. It's a really interesting exercise, because it gets the thinking process going. Because that list of what's not in your control becomes very, very long. And the things that are within your control is actually quite short. So you look at the things that aren't in your control, the obvious ones, like the weather, COVID, a lot of political decisions, that sort of stuff. But you drill it down, and you can't control what other people think. You can't control what other people think of you. You can certainly influence it, but you can't control it - what they do, what they say, how they behave. And you cannot control what you think, or the thoughts that come into your head.

Lisa: The automatic sort of thoughts that jump out of your head.

Carly: Yeah, the automatic thoughts and the automatic emotion that comes up. Of course, once those thoughts pop up, you can reframe and do all that sort of stuff, or positive affirmations, all that, all those sorts of things. But as soon as that thought pops up into your head, that's beyond your control. We have between 70 and 80 thousand thoughts per day.

Lisa: Yeah apparently. This is crazy! We’re just thought machines! We are just churning these things out all the time. Dr. Daniel Amen, who I follow, he talks about ANTs, automatic negative thoughts. And where do you think there's this, you’re saying that we're not in control of those, they're just coming through. Are they coming through from our programming or, subconsciously, or what?

Carly: Yeah, I mean, we're all individuals. And we're productive from when we are born right up to our experiences, right up until this present moment. But it's also good to have an understanding of how the mind works because those automatic negative thoughts, if we didn't, as humans, have a negative bias, we wouldn't see the human race today. So, back in caveman days, you probably heard this before, it's like, we had to have anxiety. We had to have that negative skew because otherwise we were going to get eaten by a saber toothed tiger. But in our modern world, it's those negative thoughts. It's like, ‘What's our boss thinking of us? So why do we get that many likes on our Instagram posts?’ It's not helpful. A lot of the stuff right now that's causing those negative thoughts. It’s not helpful for us to live fully. So in Morita therapy, the first step is the acceptance. First of all, it's awareness of thoughts. And that's where it's good to use that metacognition of observing your thoughts and something. So I love that I'm constantly observing my thoughts and I’m like, ‘Oh, there it is again’.

Lisa: Because I first heard that from Craig Harper, our mutual friend at the You Project. I've been using that a heck of a lot since I heard that. When you step outside your house, when you watch yourself, as if you were above, as if I was above looking down my spirit self or whatever you want to call it. Looking at my brain. Just tuning out this shit, basically. Bringing forth this. And then looking at it and go, ‘Hang on. Is it good? Is it serving me right now?’

Carly: Exactly. And that's the question to ask. It's like, if you can create space, because then Craig would have talked about the different cells and we are not our thoughts, and we're not our anxiety. So there's a part of us, as humans, animals can't do this, but what makes us unique is that we're able to observe our thoughts. And if we can create that space between us and our thoughts, we can look at that thought more in an analytical way, rather than in an emotional way. It's not about whether that thought is right or wrong. It's whether it's helpful.

Lisa: Yeah. And something right now.

Carly: Yeah, exactly. That's sort of the acceptance part of what's in our control, what's not in our control. The big one is those thoughts and emotions. And then have been aware of creating that space and observing them, that's kind of the first step. Any act, we call that diffusion or unhooking. When we get hooked by our thoughts, it's almost like they're pushing us around, and then they start dictating what we do without necessarily taking us towards the person that we really want to be. So if we can observe them and unhook from them, then that gives us that space to choose our behavior, and choose it aligned with our values or our purpose and takes us towards the person that we want to be.

Lisa: That's brilliant. So it's really getting the executive functioning part of our brain, our prefrontal cortex talking to our amygdala more or being more connected to them. This frontal area of the brain that only humans have really developed, and in some primates have to a certain degree. But because a lot of us go around being hijacked by our amygdala, all the time. So that's the reptilian part of the brain that’s sort of a more primitive part of the brain, that is responding very, very quickly, quicker than the prefrontal cortex, to dangers in your environment, or negative things happening in the environment. Was it here as a survival mechanism? Talking about this the other day, and I said, how fast my amygdala switches on when something in my environment happens? Say, someone cuts me off in traffic. Those automatic thoughts that come out from the amygdala before I switched my logical adult brain on, ‘I'm going to punch that dude in the face’.

Carly: Thank goodness, your prefrontal cortex switches in then and says, ‘Don't do that!’

Lisa: But when I was younger, I was less able to do that. And I was very fiery, very angry. Now as I've gotten older and understand that sort of process, I can go, ‘Okay, come on, take a couple of deep exhales here, and we're going to calm ourselves down and get a grip of it’. But it's also a very protective thing. Sometimes I catch a glass that's falling off the table before I've even registered it with my prefrontal cortex. And that’s also your reaction speed. Your amygdala is working at, I don't know what it is, thousands of a second faster than this. And so you're catching things. It can be a very positive thing, but it can also be - our jails and our justice system are full of people whose amygdala is more dominant and more able to control. And so they've done things in the spur of the moment without getting political on it, but it is something that we need to practice and work on. And it's something that you as a parent would know that the younger the child is, the less control that they have up there. So they just do whatever their emotional brain tells them to do - scream, yell, kick, whatever. As we get older, we learn to handle a bit more. But there's still this disconnect going on.

Carly: Yeah, our brains aren't fully developed until the age of 25. But, you look at that, and there's decisions being made by young people that are going to affect them for the rest of their life, and that their brains aren't fully developed to be able to make those long-term decisions. So, it's really interesting.

Lisa: So that's the awareness and stepping out and unhooking as you said, or diffusion, and looking at yourself. So that's the first thing that you can do. And looking at what is in your control and what is not in your control. So how do you approach the stuff that's not in your control, that makes you fearful, for example?

Carly: What other people think is a huge one. To the majority of my clients, it is the number one fear, if you want to call it anxiety or worry. It is what others think of them. Even that is a very normal thing. So the next step is about acceptance. It's not acceptance in a passive way, but it's an acceptance of what is a natural part of the human experience. Wiring what people think is actually quite normal because back when we were in a tribal setting, we had to care what others thought. We had to know that we were adding value to the tribe, and the survival of the tribe. Otherwise, we'd get kicked out. So it's just that now, there's too many people. We have so many connections. Not only our physical connection with people, but also through social media. So it's almost like this connection overdrive that we have, and this worry about what others think, this worry about the posts that young people post on social media, their appearance, and all that sort of stuff. So I guess I approach that, first of all, with my clients that this is just a natural part of being human. That looking at that thought of if they're worried about what somebody is thinking of them. Looking at that is not right or wrong. But is it helpful? If it's not helpful, then do that by observing self. Defuse or unhook from it. Create that space, and then redirect attention into what needs to be done in that moment. Acceptance isn't about that passive, “I’ve got to put up with it.” It's not about tolerating anything, but it's about making room for it, and making room for those thoughts and those emotions that come up. And using tools like the breath and exercise that manage it. But I think the main thing is about discomfort tolerance levels, because we don't, and I know you would talk about comfort zones a lot.

So Morita, he believed that in radiotherapy there were two sets of opposing forces. One was a desire to live fully, and the other one was this desire to be secure and comfortable. So they're opposing each other. But as you would know, any success, like all my achievements in my life has involved some level of discomfort. And sometimes we're willing to feel that discomfort. Even on your wedding day, you feel nervous and everything, but you still get married. But it's that everyday anxiety that we feel. It's this focus on the discomfort and wanting to get rid of it. And when that's intense, this is not easy. I don't want to lighten this because I know that these intense feelings can be quite debilitating to people. But using these tools, you make room for it, make space around it, and be able to do what's important to you, coexisting, bringing that discomfort with you, in the hope that it's going to turn down like the intensity. It's a bit like a radio playing in the background. If the radio is really loud, it's taking your attention, it's hard to focus. But using these tools of diffusing or unhooking, it's, slowly the radio just starts to turn down. And it might just be a little murmur in the background.

Lisa: And hanging with that tension long enough, so stepping, being brave enough to take something on. Say a challenge - you're going to America to learn this thing a bit. You're leaving your kids behind, and your husband behind, you're off to this new place. And you're like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ All that sort of stuff. Me and my life going off to run like in the Himalayas, or the Sahara, and absolutely shitting myself. And it sounded good while he was signing up, and you'd had a glass of wine. And now, you’re like, ‘What am I doing? I'm in this so deep, there's no way out now, so I have to go through’. 

So I know that tension very, very well. And I know that those are the times when the growth happens, isn't it? When you're pushing, but you are also risking failure, you are risking being, and this is the sort of dichotomy, or how it's contradictory. We, as human beings, seek comfort. We seek safe because that is our DNA programming. But because we live in such comfortable societies with comfortable couches and comfortable Netflix's to watch in houses that we live in and cars that we drive, we don't ever get out of that comfort zone if we don't want to. We can have our food delivered to our door and order our clothes online. And we can be very, very insular if that's the way that we decide to live, but we are never going to grow in that state. We are never going to challenge, we're never going to fulfill our potential. And so when you talk to people, they all want to change. They all want to be epic. They all want to do like, ‘I wish I could be like you and run ultra-marathons, or run a business, or whatever the case may be.’ But nobody’s wrong. But a lot of people just are not willing to put up with the pain, the discomfort, the fear, the financial investment, the time investment, the hard yards, in order to reap those rewards. So how do you teach yourself to be a little bit tougher? A little bit of, ‘I'm going to do this. I'm scared anyway. But I'm doing it.’ How do you teach yourself that sort of toughness or resilience?

Carly: Because if you try and avoid or suppress those strong, intense emotions, it's going to affect your life. You're not going to be able to live fully by staying in that comfort zone. And I love what I want to do. It just reminded me of the cold shower thing, I have my current shower this morning. So we're running this eight-week course with Jonah. We might talk about it later. But part of that is this ritual of the cold shower. Now I don't particularly like the cold. And I like being comfortable as well. It's like being anxious or nervous, it's not a nice feeling to have. But what you can do is practice getting uncomfortable. So deliberate practice. And I think Paul called it discomfort harvesting or harvesting discomfort.

Lisa: That's what I should do, a PhD in the weekend.

Carly: There you go, we've got your PhD. Cold shower is such a good tool to get out of your comfort zone. Because you have total control at the end of your nice warm shower, which is nice and comfortable. You have control whether you turn that to cold and spend a minimum of 30 seconds under that cold water, being uncomfortable. And if you can't do that, then the likelihood of when something goes wrong, and these intense emotions come up, then the likelihood of you being able to handle that could be low if you can't even handle having a cold shower. Cold showers, as you know, they have huge benefits on the immune system, and even emotional well-being. Everything that comes from me and my experience of them. It is about getting out of my comfort zone. Because I need to practice that as well.

Lisa: We all do, all the time. This is the misconception, too, that you've done it. In my case, I had done one ultramarathon, therefore you're tough for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. This is something you need to use it or lose it. So that's why that daily ritual stuff is very important.
Carly: Absolutely. And you were never exonerated, we'll count until the day we die, we'll keep doing this stuff. Because we're human. And that's the acceptance part of it, it’s that life is hard. I loved Matthew McConaughey. That speech that he did for the students who are graduating. But one of the things he just said, ‘Life is hard’. There's nothing original in that, but it's just the way he said it. It's like you need to get used to it, you need to prepare for it. Because life as humans, we will not stay in this comfortable environment, something will happen, somebody will get sick, jobs will be lost. Just like COVID happened and businesses, it's like stuff happens to us. So what we can do, while things are going well, is put ourselves out of our comfort zone on just small things on a daily basis. And then when the shit hits the fan, we can really cope with it.

Lisa: And this just summed up my entire books, really, in a mouthful, because it is about scaring the crap out of yourself, pushing the limits, and finding what you can do. Not all the time. We've spoken about this before about rest and recovery times and coming back so that you can recover from that big thing you just took on. You can't just go back to back to back, scary big, awesome, huge things all the time, because that leads to burnout and PTSD and goodness knows what else. So it is about everything that I study in biology and psychology and all the areas that I study, it seems to be this flow, life loves this even flow, right from our nutrition. So eating the same thing all the time, always being on keto is not good. It's about this up and down. With biology, you want to have a little bit of this, and then you want to pull back, you want a little bit of cold. And when it comes to hermetic stressors, doing things like saunas, like cold showers, like training and exercise. If you do too much, you're going to—if you look at those four phases of stress, where you've got the alert phase, and then the resistance phase, and then the recovery or exhaustion phase. If you're going overtraining, you're not going to get there. You're not going to get that response, that compensation.

It's the same thing here. You want to be going flowing in and out of tough times, come back, recover, see how that went, then have another crack at something else in a different area of your life perhaps. And that this even flow of life is, if we just stay in the static, then we're actually going backwards. What really matters for me and the stuff that I do is when it comes to health. Because if you're not in this willingness to put up with things like cold showers and going training when you don't feel like it, and eating good food and trying to have these stable fundamental health habits and working on them, I'm not perfect and no one's perfect, but working on these things, you are going to pay the price with your life, your health. Yes, we're all going to die one day, but I hope that I will live a healthy long lifespan, a very long one. I want to have health for as long as I possibly can. And so by studying all this, by learning all this, you can actually, hopefully hinder the worst things happening. I mean, a lot of things, you can't prevent everything because like I said, some things are outside of our control. And we have to acknowledge that. But what can I do to up the odds, then I'm going to live long. Up the odds that I'm going to be healthy until the end. All of those types of things because the price, and I've seen this in my own life and in my own family, unfortunately, when they didn't acknowledge all those things along the way and then the big freight train came in, and then you're pushing the proverbial uphill.

Carly: There's a reflection exercise that I do with my clients. And it's, imagine that you're 80, and you're reflecting back on your life, but it but it's your life today. So you don't go back in the past. It's like you're reflecting back on your life today. And one of the questions is, what would you do differently? And it's a really powerful question, because it gets you to look at your life in a more analytical way and go, ‘Well, actually things like I’d exercise more, or I’d drink less’. Spending more time with your family is a huge one, that's usually the number one thing I would spend more time with my kids or it's more time with my family. And once you've got that list, you can look at that, and then you have the power today to choose those things moving forward. So if you project yourself into the future, reflect back, you then are able to almost design your life how you want to live from this point onwards.

Lisa: I've heard what people that are on their deathbed are thinking, what are the greatest regrets that they wish they had done. And it is things like that, it's not, I wish I'd worked more. I wish I’d earned more money. We need a certain amount of work. And we need a certain amount of money, all of these sorts of things. But what are your highest priorities, and then aligning your values and what you're doing to those priorities. And there really isn't a dynamic thing, it changes a little bit and your values and all the things change over time. But being in alignment with your greatest priorities now is something that we need to keep reevaluating, and are we on track for that? I'm talking to myself here, because I'm definitely a workaholic. And I want to, ‘Oh, that sounds like a great idea’. Write another book, do a PhD and whatever  dreams and things that you've got. And then you're like, ‘Hmm, that's going to take me away from my family’. Early in my life, I wouldn't even have thought that I would have just been so excited about the thing. And now I've got to stop and think about those things. Because you realise now, I'm 52 and I'm running out of time to do the things that I want. And when you lose a loved one, like I recently lost my dad, that's a real rough. Because otherwise, when there's no major thing like that has happened to you yet, you’re just bumbling along and everything's okay. When I talk to my family members and stuff about my father, it's like, ‘I wish I'd taken him fishing more. I wish he had more time. I wish I'd learned from him’. And we're all wishing we had done this together. So it is that wake-up call that is like, how do you want to be thinking in the next 20 years then?

Carly: And that's kind of a silver lining thing as well, isn't it? Even though something as sad, and the loss of a loved one, that silver lining is that you can learn from that and go, ‘Well, I wish I'd done that.’ And then is there an opportunity now to do that with somebody who's here and with you? Do you know, I was thinking, one of the things that I've started doing consistently now— with life, the modern world, the way it is, and its rush, rush, rush, rush. And we're getting out there almost, a lot of us are on autopilot. And I know I was. Even with it's like, ‘Right, I'll do my exercise. I'll go to my CrossFit class or my exercise class, and then I'm going to work. And I’m doing this’. It's like, go, go, go, go, go. For me inputs, like emails and text messages and social media, everything's kind of input. It's overwhelming. 

So what I started doing, and it's actually Craig Harper was on his podcast last year, and right at the end of it was before Christmas, I totally walked into this. He was like, ‘So what's something that you want to achieve in 2021?’ And I said, ‘I want to get up earlier’, because I thought I was funny, even though I was still getting up at 6:30. But I was just fine. I was just going straight into it. And so he sent me his 100-day challenge to get up at 5:30 each day. And what I did was I started this pre-input routine, I don't know, do you do this. So I get up, and there's no phone. Do not touch my phone. I don't have my phone in my room. It's uncharged in the kitchen. So don't go near it. Don't go near a computer. What I started doing is the first thing I do is, I journal. It's not a journal where I'm writing paragraphs of stuff. It's all dot points. But the first thing I do a metric. So I just say, the alarm went off at 5:30, got up at 5:45. Or maybe I did get up at 5:30. Or maybe I got up at 6:00, but I measure it. Over time, I've kind of been able to say: well, what influenced me whether I didn't get up or whether I did get up. Most of it is what I did the night before. The morning starts the night before. So you can see patterns there. But the big thing that I found is that it gives me silence. And I think silence is something that we're missing in today's world, because of all these inputs. If you can sit with silence, that's when you can really think about things, you can observe your thoughts. You can start being creative when ideas come up. So before any inputs or journal, I look at what my wins were yesterday, and really celebrate those. Have you heard BJ Fogg?

Lisa: Yeah, Tiny Habits.

Carly: Tiny Habits. So, he says to celebrate the small things, and you get that little dopamine hit. And dopamine is also the neurotransmitter of motivation. I will journal even micro moments that I've had with people outside in the community that I thought that was really, just like my barista. She makes me a great coffee, and she has a chat and tells me my hair looks nice. It's those sort of little things that I think we need to have more focus on, and to celebrate those sort of moments in our life, because otherwise, they just pass up. They’re just fleeting, and we’re onto the next thing.

Lisa:  And when we tend to just be looking at the big picture all the time, like the big goals - the program we are writing, or the book we're doing or the project at work, or whatever the case is. We don't celebrate those. I've started to, because I'm running three companies, I've got a disabled mom that I still look after 24/7, 7 days a week. It's full on. And a lot of the time, some days, I'm just like, ‘How the hell does any human brain do this?’ I'm just like, ‘I've got a pretty good brain, but I am not keeping up.’ When you drop the ball and you're like, ‘Oh.’ Like I said to my husband, ‘I dropped the ball on this appointment the other day and I'm such an idiot,’ and he said, ‘Stop, stop. You're not an idiot. You're telling yourself that.’ And of course I am. Thanks for pointing that out to me. And yet you're doing the best you bloody will can and in this very difficult situation. Give yourself a break. And we're all doing that, we are all trying to keep up because things seem to get faster and more. 

And so taking moments out, like an appointment fell through this morning, ‘Oh, an opportunity.’ Now I can either get into some work, which has plenty to do. Or my husband comes out and he looks at he's looking all down on the dumps and exhausted, and I’m like, ‘Let's go for a walk, darling. It's a beautiful day. Let's go and just walk for 20 minutes. Get some sunshine on our eyes, wake ourselves up, have a talk about the day before,’ then come back and then ‘Wow, it's a different start to the day’. Because usually it's just back, back, back. And then you find yourself at 10 o'clock at night when you finally sit down for the first time. Turn the telly on or something to just zone out, to compensate for this whirlwind. Building into your day, those little micro times we say, ‘Oh it’s a beautiful flower’. Being in the, ‘Oh, what beautiful sunshine,’ and all this, ‘Someone’s smiling at me.’ ‘Hi, how you doing?’ Just those little wee things that can help you get enough energy to get through to the next—

Carly: And that's where attention comes in too, which is part of Morita therapy, is that we can pay attention internally to our problems and our thoughts or feelings or our pain. Or even with all that going on, we can still pay attention to a beautiful flower. It's about one of the most simple, and it sounds crazy, but using your senses can get you out of your head and into the present moment. And we were talking about, I think Paul may have mentioned this, I don't know. One of the exercises is looking for the color blue. So if you find you're ruminating in thoughts, or if you're driving in the car, I find that that's when I started, all the thoughts come up when I'm driving, because it's such an automatic thing that you do. So I really try and redirect my attention. There's a metaphor of a torch. So the beam of light is your attention. And you have control over where you shine that. It's so effective. So am I shining that torch in my internal world? Or can I redirect it with all this going on, redirect it to the outside world? And I'll just look for things for color blue. Look for tiny things for color blue look for, obviously, the sky hopefully will be blue. Look, they're different shades of blue. And what that does, it doesn't get rid of what's going on internally, but it just redirects your attention.

Lisa: Distracts you from the internal looping that goes on in your brain, when you start to just, those thoughts just keep going around in circles. And there's actually no solution coming out of it. And this is the sort of thinking that goes on at two o'clock in the morning when you wake up. Cortisol has gone up and you've got some project that you're struggling with or something and it's just a loop, loop, loop, loop. And you've got to break that loop.

Carly: That's the hardest time, because at two o'clock in the morning, you can't really look for the color blue. You can ask yourself a question, ‘Is this happening now? Oh, no, this is not it's a statement. This isn't happening now’. Because you're thinking about the future or you’re thinking about the past. But it's not happening now. And what's happening now is that you need to sleep.

Lisa: I focus on my breath doing breath work. And apart from that, it doesn't happen so much to me. Now that does on occasion. But do some breath work where you're concentrating on the exhale. And there's lots of different breaths - box breathing or 4-7-8 breathing. I like to do what you're doing this massively long exhale. And that really slows down the parasympathetic nervous system, and can actually help you fall back to sleep. And I find that very, very powerful. But it's just breaking that cycling in your head, when you find yourself with a specific problem, that you're just not getting the answers to, going round and round, that's when you need to go either meditate, breathe, go for a walk, go for a run, do something that actually changes your mood. You're allowing space, because a lot of the time people think, ‘I have to stay here and not solve this problem right now. Otherwise, it's going to get worse’. Actually, when you let go, and you let it have time and space, that's when the answers come to you.

Carly: Yeah, that's right. And looking at what's within your control at that moment. It's not within your control that those ruminating thoughts keep coming up. But what is within your control is how you respond to them. So what you do in that moment, and a really good question to ask is, what needs to be done now? We’re only at a series of moments. It's that we only have the present moment. And most of the time, the anxiety or the ruminating thoughts are not related to the present moment. They're about the future or the past. So getting back. 

Actually, that reminds me, there was a study done. I don't know if you've heard of it by Matt Killingsworth. He's done this study on the wandering mind, and how it relates to happiness. He created this app, and there were 35,000 people involved in this study. And what he did is throughout the day, people just getting on with their day and throughout the day, these questions that pop up like ‘What are you doing now?’ I had that list of 50 things I might be doing. Like, I'm on the train, or I'm at work or whatever. And then it was, ‘What are you—are you thinking about what you're doing? Or are you thinking about something else?’ So it was measuring their wandering mind, and then measuring their happiness levels. And it showed that even if you are stuck in traffic, which is a very frustrating thing, especially if you're running late, if your mind was wandering, you were less happy than if you were in the present moment, just observing your surroundings. You are even happier being in the present moment stuck in traffic than if you were in a pleasant moment but having a wandering mind, if that makes sense. So being in the present moment, and I think we need to practice it. It is a skill. Attention is a skill. And being aware that our attention is constantly being robbed, just like advertising, and social media. It's just constant attention. So if we can take control of our attention and get into the present moment, then that can have such a huge impact on our well-being.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And this is one of the things that I love about a podcast like this. I am fully focused on you in this conversation. Nothing is pulling at me right now. Whereas when I'm working on the computer, and there's a hundred windows open, and I'm back and like, ‘I'm just going to jump on messenger so that I can do this task, send a message to so and so’. I get on to messenger, this is an example. And then, ‘Oh, there's another message coming. Oh, who was it from? Oh, I'll answer that’. And then you're off, and you're over here, and you're over there. And that original thing that you were actually meant to be doing in that moment is gone. And this is the difficulty. Even though I know that this happens, and I'm trying to control it. Shutting those windows down is not always an option, because you have to have the windows open, otherwise, re-find the bloody websites every time. But having the control to go, ‘No, I'll work on that later’. I'm working with a guy at the moment who I'm sure I'm driving insane on systems and processes, because this is a thing that my brain does not do well. And it's driving my business partner mental, because I am constantly like chasing shiny objects, super excited about science, running here and there, learning everything, wanting to do a hundred courses, not focusing on the things that need, the systems and the processes, and they're boring.

And so this poor guy is trying to help me. Shout out to Mike Drone. Get my calendar sorted, get my scheduling sorted, get my inbox under control, get these basic systems. It was an interesting, the Calendly thing, that you have to have, all professional people have. I have, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t work it out. All I have is a fare overseas. And I don't get it.’ And then there was this resistance to it because I didn't want to waste my time learning something that I'm not interested in, or the outside take care of that. I tried to get my assistant to take care of it, and tried to get my husband to take care of it, and nobody would take care of it. They kick me back on my lap. And then Mike said, ‘You have to do it’. And so I actually spent yesterday, a good two three hours setting it up. And I was so proud of myself. Stuff I hate, but I did it.

Carly: Did you do this? Did you just focus on that task that you did anything else come in?

Lisa: Yeah, I had things coming in. But I keep bringing my focus back and I actually managed it for the first time in history. On a thing that I'm not interested in. Because if it's a thing that I'm interested in, if it's science, man, I know, I kind of watch or listen to stuff and learn stuff and read stuff for Africa hours every day. That's what I love. That's my happy place. But when it comes to doing the admin, the text, the accounting, the learner, and learning that software, oh God. But it's not because I thought, ‘Oh, I've always thought, are you just too dumb for that. You just don't get it. Your brain doesn't work’. That was an excuse really. Because I can, I know I have a good brain that can cope with it. It's just that I never gave it the attention because I didn't want to be there. And it is still going to be a battle.

Carly: It reminds me too, that this morning, the sort of pre-input routine that a lot of people do is deep work at that time. So if there's something really important that you need to work on. Like if you're writing a book or like whatever it is that you want to spend two hours on or however many hours on without any inputs. Do that first thing in the morning. And don't have your email open or don't have those. But if you can, turn off your notifications, but have that as your deep work and get that done. And then you get on with the day with all the other stuff that you need to do. There's a lot of...

Lisa: [50:42 unintelligible]

Carly: Yeah, exactly. And it's that Stephen Covey thing that, the important not urgent stuff, do that first.

Lisa: That's really hard to do. In prioritising those lists, and having, and this is where the systems and processes coming in, as I'm finding out now, as I'm working on this, as this is urgent and important, you have to do that right away. And if it's just urgent, but not important that can wait, I’ve forgotten all the whole list of things that you sort of - but doing that in an automatic fashion, so that you actually know what then. If a free space comes into your life, like a cancellation or something, “Okay, what is the thing that I can grab out of my to-do list?” That should be filling that space. And I'm still working on that one, instead of getting dragged any which way, which I still tend to do, which is easier to do. And there's a billion things when you got your own company, and you're working, there is a billion hits you have to wear every day. And that becomes just, you can work 24/7 and still be behind.

Carly: Yeah, it's crazy. And that's why, what you were saying before, when you had that opportunity, when you had that space because you missed an appointment. You had that supposed to choose where you were going to go, and you chose a walk with your husband, which is just such a good recovery thing today and a time to be present, and a time to spend time with somebody that you love and grasp those opportunities.

Lisa: Yeah, and not feel guilty, which is what I do. I really should have picked that other project up. I really should have given my husband the time when he needed it, or my mum, or whatever the case may be. In that moment, and take those little opportunities that come up.

Carly: Yeah, so important.

Lisa: Carly, this has been such an interesting conversation, I feel like we could go for another couple of hours. And maybe I'll get you back on. Because we get into the rest of the ACT therapy and the different areas. But is there anything, as we start to wrap up now, anything else that you think that we haven't covered that we should that would really help people out there listening?

Carly: I think the sort of the overarching thing with this approach is having a purpose-driven life rather than an emotional-driven life. And what I mean by purpose is that it's not the sort of big goal, what's my purpose of life, but the purpose of the moment. So even with worry, or anxiety, or ruminating thoughts, just looking at what is my purpose in this moment. It could be as simple as “I need to clean up the kitchen.” Because that's having your house in order, it's something as important to me. And so it's those sort of small things that we do every day, that kind of creates purpose in our lives. I think that's an important thing to— because it's so easy to have our emotions drive us and respond depending on how we're feeling. But if we can look at the purpose of the moment, then we can make those choices that are going to help us live more fully.

Lisa: And not relying on motivation all the time, but taking action and doing the things that are on your highest priority. You and Paul have an eight-week program. So you're doing an eight-week program, which is all around. Will you tell us a little bit about that, what you're doing at the moment?

Carly: So we're running an eight-week program. We've got about 93 on it, which, it’s our first one. So we're really, really pleased. So we do a weekly zoom session, every Tuesday night for about an hour and a half. It's basically, we go through all the different domains of our lives and the different areas - nutrition, mindset is a big one, exercise. So each week, we have sort of a different topic. And then there's an app that goes with that. So there's like a ritual board,  everybody has daily rituals that they can tick off. Culture is one of them. And they get points to that. So it's a bit of healthy competition going on. There's a leaderboard on who's doing what. We've had such good response from people. It's been amazing. So yeah, we're hoping to do another one soon after this one’s finished. We're halfway through now.

Lisa: Brilliant, brilliant. I think this is the sort of stuff I love and I eat for breakfast. Love the stuff. I think it's so important that we're working on this sort of thing. So where can people find you and reach out to you and to Paul and what you're doing? What's your website and your social media handles and so on?

Carly: Yeah, so mine is carlytaylorcoaching.com.au and Instagram is Carly Taylor Coaching. And then mindbodybrain.com.au, which you'll find more about the Better You course, which is the behaviour change course. So that's the eight-week program.

Lisa: Put all those notes in the show notes.
Carly: And then Instagram is Mind Body Brain, which was right.

Lisa: Look, Carly, you've been fantastic today. Thank you so much for your time and your input and your passion that you bring to the stuff.

Carly: Thank you so much for having me. It's been great to meet you.

Lisa: It's just been epic. I've really, really enjoyed a conversation and I think a lot of people will have got a lot of practical tips to take away from this conversation as well.

Carly: Yeah, they'll be looking for the color blue today.

Lisa: Exactly.

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends. And head over and visit Lisa and her team at lisatamati.com.

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Always great guests, great insights and learnings that can be applied immediately for every level of experience.


Motivational and Inspirational ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I am getting my mojo back with regards to my health and running after treatment for breast cancer, I connected with Lisa as I was looking for positive influences from people who are long distance runners and understand our mindset. Lisa’s podcasts have been a key factor in getting me out of a negative space where I allowed others limiting beliefs to stop me from following my heart and what I believe is right for me. After 18 months of being in cancer recovery mode I wanted to get out of the cancer mindset and back to achieving goals that had been put aside. Listening to Pushing The Limits has put me onto other great podcasts, and in the process I have learnt so much and am on a pathway to a much better place with my mindset and health. Thanks so much Lisa for doing what you do and always being you.


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