No matter who you are, where you live, and how much money you make, life will eventually throw curveballs at multiple points in your journey. As adults, we accept that as a fact of life. However, our children don’t have to have it as hard as we did, and we can also benefit from practicing her ideas with positive self-talk. Katie Wood is on a mission to teach the essential life skills to manage our emotions better, develop resiliency, and flourish. Her bestselling book, A Simple Seed of Growth, Gratitude and Giggles, is her impactful contribution to helping children prepare for the future and become healthier, happier adults. Join in to hear Katie’s incredible story of how she listened to her children’s and nature’s whispers to overcome the curveballs in life and break wide open. Katie gives us some simple ideas from her journal to live with more gratitude and happiness that turn into a habit where we go out of our way to improve each other. Tune in for more!
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A Simple Seed: Preparing Children And Rewiring Adults For Life’s Curveballs With Katie Wood
Our guest is Katie Wood. She’s an amazing mother and fire wife. She’s a thought leader, entrepreneur, speaker, and bestselling author of A Simple Seed of Growth, Gratitude and Giggles. Her book is a bestseller on Amazon, number one in all children’s books, happiness, and self-help. She was also featured on the Today Show. Join us to hear Katie’s incredible story of how she listened to her children’s and nature’s whispers to overcome the curveballs in life and break wide open.
It is an honor to be a part of her journey to watch her transform from being a teacher in the classroom to planting seeds of positivity and possibilities all around the world for kids and adults willing to take five minutes a day. Katie gives us some simple ideas from her journal to live with more gratitude and happiness that turn into a habit where we go out of our way to improve each other. I’m excited to welcome Katie Wood to the show.
Welcome, Katie. It’s such an honor to have you on the show. I’m excited to talk through what’s going on with you and how you are transforming yourself and all the great impacts that you are making. You have been a business entrepreneur and empowering women, and now you are lighting up kids all around the world. I’m so proud of what you are doing. You are a bestseller. I love to talk about your book and see what’s going on. You were even on the Today Show back in November 2022 to talk about gratitude since it was gratitude month. I’d love to kick off the show with you talking about your experiences on the Today Show.
Thanks for having me. I have to say before I even start, you were the one that helped me bring this book to life and guide me. I got to watch you, so you need the credit big time as well because it’s a huge part of how this book was able to come to life. I thank you for that.
You are welcome. It’s fun to watch you shine and see all the impacts you are making. Thanks for that.
This whole concept of the journal itself has been a journey, which is called A Simple Seed. You have that idea and plant that seed. Through time, watering it and growing those strong roots that it eventually takes off and flourishes. What’s meant to be always finds its way. The whole experience from launching this in 2022 to going to New York City at Rockefeller Center and sharing this book with the world.
I will tell you, looking back now, it’s very humbling when you have a message and a book that you want to get out into the world because you can’t do it alone. As much as you think you can, publishing a book is the quickest way to drop your ego. It’s podcasts like this and you believing in this journal and you believing it can help kids. Helping me spread the word is the most important thing in getting this journal out into the hands of families everywhere. I’m super grateful for this.
Belief is so important. Also, believing in each other and looking at what happens. There are songs written about that when you start to believe in each other. Talking about the Today Show, a year prior to the Today Show, you were thinking, “I’m going to come back and we are going to be on this show.”
I took my daughter for her tenth birthday. We are very into experiences over gifts for milestone birthdays. I took her to New York City, just the two of us, and we did all the things. Her one dream was to skate at Rockefeller Center. My one dream was to get a way to see Hoda. I’m like, “Perfect. They are right next to each other.” Before we went to skate, we went to see the Today Show and we kept walking by. We weren’t staying there all morning. I really believed to the core that I would connect with Hoda. I felt it. We kept walking by and finally the security guard was like, “You two, you’ve got to move.” I’m like, “What? We are walking.” I know we are going to connect and that last walk, sure enough, she was staring at her phone prepping.
She was about to go on in two minutes. She put her phone down and looked right over at Austin and I. We were on the other side of the crowd. Why she looked our way? I don’t know. My jaw dropped. Austin jumps up and down. We wave. She gives us the sweetest wave back. We kept walking and I stopped. I looked at my daughter in the eye and I said, “Mark my word, we will be back here in one year. Give me a year.” We were back the same weekend one year later.
Putting your mind out there and focusing on what’s possible, look what happened? You made it happen.
There’s a lot of realness in letting the universe and the world know what you want. And then that’s not enough. Then you got to get to work. You got to do all the things behind the scenes and then let it come together as it should.There's a lot of realness into letting the universe and the world know what you want. And then that's not enough. Then you need to get to work. Click To Tweet
You are so right. Let’s dig into that a little bit. I’d love to think about and learn from you as a teacher. As you look at the cover of your book, it’s based on roots and it’s foundational. I love to learn why is that so important for us as we think about diving into it every day. We will talk more about the book in detail. I’m curious more about the setup of roots and the root system.
The whole concept is this journal is created to connect families, parents, and kids. We all want the best for our kids and teach them the most important life lessons. When our kids go to college one day if they go to college or whatever it may be, you want to be able to look at them and say, “I gave it my all. I did my best. I trust that you have those tools. I have given you what you need to know. Time to fly.” That’s their roots and foundation, that will forever be a piece of them. Who we are as adults are all created in our childhood whether we realize it or not. For some of us, maybe we were blessed to have parents who gave us strong roots, foundations, values, and morals. Some people spend a whole lot of their adulthood unlearning and trying to start over.
Those roots are so important and it’s such a short time in life that we have to create that. I was talking to someone on a podcast and we were talking about how trees grow strong roots when the winds blow and the whole concept behind this. It’s ironic that this was created during COVID because part of life’s menu is curveballs, storms, and winds. No one can avoid it and it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen.
The only thing you can control is how you are going to react to that, keep your head up, get back up, move forward, and rise. All that happens with mindset, belief, and knowing at the core, “I can figure this out. I can move on.” That’s when trees grow those strong roots only when storms hit. It’s building that character at a young age and giving them that advantage in life.
That’s a beautiful story. What a metaphor as well. We can’t see those roots and it’s built into our minds as humans. It’s developed when we are at a younger age, yet it doesn’t mean it doesn’t stop. We need to rewire those components. I always feel it’s ironic because you are helping kids establish these roots and create these patterns through a routine. I’d love to dig into that a little bit. I’m talking with adults about how to rewire these patterns. If it hasn’t been set properly or we are set on a course where we are living robotically or in subconscious minds and not realizing that we are not making a positive impact, we are not living fully. We have to dive back in and we can. That’s the good thing.
I love what you are doing. You are setting the foundation now so we can build and be stable in times that are tough and wonderful too. We need to have both. That’s beautiful. There are so many other things that you mentioned that are gems there. You talk about our own childhoods. You talk about kids in different parts of the country. Your books are being sold all over the country. Thousands at a time.
I can’t wait to see how you are going to have this great impact nationally and probably globally as your books continue to get out in the hands of people where you are planting seeds everywhere, which is phenomenal. As a teacher, you have been an elementary school teacher in the intercity and a high school teacher in suburbia. Are there common needs out there for kids? What would you say about what you are seeing out there with your own kids? What are you seeing?
I taught in the South Bronx, at the elementary level, and then I taught high school in one of the nicest towns in Massachusetts. I will tell you there are very big differences but the common theme is the mindset and the importance of teaching kids how to think and not what to think. Kids have to understand how the brain works and how you actually are in control of what you want to attract in life. You are in control of thinking positively if that’s what you work on every single day. You are in control of attracting more things to be grateful for if gratitude is at the forefront of your brain. It’s teaching kids to use their brains in their power. As you said, 95% of what we do is completely subconscious.
Many of us live on autopilot because we were created that way. The brain is two million years old. It was created to keep you safe and tell you when you are hungry, thirsty, and tired, the essentials for surviving. There’s a whole another piece of the brain that you can tap into where you will see life so differently and you can do so much more than you realize. We are not taught that. If you are not taught it, you only know what you know.
The more you work on yourself, the more you work on a growth mindset, the more you change the story in your head, is the more that you will change the story in your life. It is a theme all kids and adults need because, at the end of the day, we never stop growing. I love that I have a book for the youth and you have a similar book for adults. It’s so perfect because it’s the reason your ears never stop growing. We constantly need to be learning, listening, and changing our ways because the world is changing.The more you change the story in your head, the more that you'll change the story of your life. Click To Tweet
Knowing that we can change, being intentional, aligning back to what our beliefs are, and connecting to things that are bigger than us. Your messages resonate with adults too. I’m hopeful that folks reading this are saying, “This is key for me too.” It’s great we are teaching our kids, families, and teachers how to foster and nourish this. It’s critical that as adults, we recognize this. If we are a leader or working for our communities, it’s important to our ability to have a positive effect on other people.
We need to make sure we are thinking that way too and building out systems of positivity. That whole connection of roots is intertwined under the ground. It’s not only how it nourishes itself yet it nourishes the rest of our tree system or our forests, which is the same thing in society. We need to be working together. It feels like in today’s day and age, we are working independently. It’s divisive and it’s not where we want to be. I would say not in that growth mindset. It’s almost like we are fixed and we are in a divisive state.
It’s also like, “This is the way I am,” which is the furthest from the truth.
I agree with that. My other favorite one is, “It is what It is.” How did you get to the growth mindset? How did you come to this place?
I was a teacher a few years ago and the reason I left teaching is because we started to grow a family and my life was changing. I wanted to change my career to match my life, and it wasn’t aligned. I was able to start an at-home business. I was able to work around my kids. My biggest a-ha moment when realizing the power of your brain is when our third daughter went through a really difficult time in life. We found out she was born with something called Craniosynostosis, which is ironic because it has to do with the brain. I feel like she is the reason. Talk about rigged in your favor. Her story has led to this journey 100%.
Her skull had to be completely reconstructed at Boston Children’s Hospital, which is a very intense life-saving surgery. We are very lucky to have that hospital in our backyard. During that time building up to her surgery, my mind went to a dark place. I spiraled, wasn’t thinking clearly, had really bad thoughts, and wasn’t sleeping. It was taking over my life.
It was causing panic attacks and anxiety. And not realizing this all stemmed from the mind. It was at that point I started to really dig deep and get a morning routine. I knew how I started the day would set the tone for the rest of the day. I got up early, it was about 5:00 AM before the kids, and I would do some prayer, I’d read something positive, and read a great book a couple of pages a day.
I’d practice gratitude for about 2 to 3 minutes being in a grateful state and then I would center my day like get my day ready. What I noticed after doing that for about a month, I started to see a shift in my mind and see things differently. I started to see signs in nature, which was crazy. I started to trust this journey a little bit more and take control of my mind because when it would spiral, which makes us human, that will never go away. Certain thoughts, I know how to stop them and retrain it. That was when I knew the power of setting your mind and yourself. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by where I haven’t had that morning routine six years later.
What a proof story. What you had to go through I can’t even imagine with you and your husband Steve and the others in the family with Gabby. It’s phenomenal as far as the light that she is giving you both and what you are giving back out into the world. I don’t know if there are any parts of the story that resonate with you that helped you get through those dark times as you are going through those moments of gratitude. You mentioned seeing things differently in nature.
I started to see hearts show up in my life. I really believe it, and I know you feel this way too, that something comes to you and your life, even if you read a quote. I have one that has stuck with me, but you will see quotes all the time, read things in books and it’s in ear and out of the other or I agree with that. You are going to find that one thing that’s going to send chills down your spine where you are like, “Why did that hit me that way?”
Most people will be like, “That was odd,” (if they notice at all) and continue on with their life. If there’s one thing you can take from this episode, it would be to stop and pay attention to whatever that sign is or whatever life is trying to tell you because life is speaking to us all the time. Most of us don’t pause or get still enough to receive it. That to me was hearts in nature. I know for a lot of people, it’s heats, a bird, a butterfly, or look at your amazing one-eye, smiley face. Whatever it may be, it’s here for a reason. What happens when you start to pay attention to it, it will show up more and always at the right time.
For me, when it shows up, I stop and pause and say, “What am I supposed to be learning right now?” 9 out of 10 times, there is a lesson behind it that has guided me to be where I am this very moment. Had I not listened to all of that, I believe in my heart. That is because I have humbled myself dropped to the ego and noticed that clearly I can’t do this alone. What is my purpose? What is my reason for being here? Since we all have one, listen to what life will give you and follow that path, which is your inner GPS, gut, soul, and sense. It will never lead you the wrong way.
I couldn’t agree with you more. Putting ourselves out there, being open-minded, and allowing some of the silliness at times. Is it spiritual? Am I connecting with the universe or nature? What are those things that make an impact on us? I read something where you saw this first heart on a pinky and it helped to set more of a path of hope and faith through some of that darkness. Was that the start of that path with the hearts?
Yes, it was. It will give you peace and a reminder that everything will be okay because in the moment, when we go through difficult times, again, your two-million-year-old brain is simply here to say, “Stay safe. We don’t like fear. Let’s shut down and get comfortable.” When you start to open it to this other way of looking at life, seeing the hearts, practicing gratitude, and rewiring your brain, you trust life so much more and you feel inner peace.
I’m sure you and I probably have a very similar definition of success in life. To me, it is pure inner peace. It is being aligned with why you are here, knowing your purpose, living that out, making a difference, and being at peace. I don’t care what your house and car look like. I’m attracted to those people and I want to be around them because you become whom you spend the most time with and who have that trust and inner peace. It’s a powerful thing.Stop and pay attention to whatever life is trying to tell you because life is speaking to us all the time. Click To Tweet
It is and it’s back to some of the work you are doing with gratitude. It’s about appreciating what we have, the health and the loved ones we have in our lives, and appreciating that every day. I love the foundation of your book, which we will get into. It’s incredible and I could share with you the same feeling I get every time I see this one-eyed smile, as you can see with the logo of this show.
Where this came from is I was at a tough place where I was not recognizing differences in the world. I needed to see things differently and I wasn’t accepting joy and didn’t understand what it was. Here it is, I’m a 46-year-old man at that time and my root system was off. I was open-minded to it. I let my child self-come alive to your point about connecting with nature.
My daughter and I had a special moment where this one-eyed smile was on the table sitting there. I was busy working and ignoring the love next to me. She was having this Italian ice, which is what the picture is. Once I put the phone down and she was done, I said to her, “Are you happy?” She was beaming. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this one-eyed smile and I’m like, “It’s a sign.”
It was upside down and I turned it over to her. She lit up and I lit up. The kid inside of me came alive. What I recognized was that the kid inside of me had disappeared and this was a silly moment, yet it was a one-eyed smile that I recognized, “I was upside down. I needed to turn it around so I could see life differently and see the possibilities that were there.”
It showed me how to give (and accept) joy. It was the start of why I wrote the book and a cause of why we are here with this show. It is because of sharing these stories or what I call light-up moments (that create a spark). It sounds like you had a light-up moment, where you went through some darkness and you went through this period where gratitude is important to you. When I talk about light-up moments, it’s when an epiphany or a-ha moment puts you into action mode. You start to do that as a result of that. Do you want to dive into that a little bit?
How this journal came to life goes back to the morning routine. It was during COVID. Here we are now, I’m homeschooling three small kids and I have a six-month-old baby. My husband is a new fireman and paramedic and is gone all the time. It cues the chaos. I looked at this time and I’m like, “I knew we weren’t going anywhere back to school anytime soon. How can I make the best of this situation?” I did not know how.
I knew enough to ask myself the question, “How can we be a light in the darkness?” It’s because every time there’s darkness in the world, your goal should be the light for others. The idea didn’t come to me until my second daughter woke up early one morning and came down to join me during my morning routine. It’s dark and there’s a candle. They know that it’s mom’s time. When she came down, I was like, “This wasn’t going to work.”
For some reason, I let her come down because usually, I’m going to back them up like, “Mom needs to fill herself. I fill my cup up so I can fill all of you up.” She came down, sat down, and looked at me. She goes, “Do you think you can teach me how to have special mornings too?” Again, the chills went down the back. I almost felt guilty because I was like, “How have I not taught my kids this? I know this is a superpower. I know it took me 34 years to learn it. I didn’t learn this until my mid-30s. I can give my kids the biggest advantage if they know how to set the tone in the morning. It can change everything.”
I grabbed the back of a piece of paper. It was a field trip slip that they were no longer going to go on and I outlined what I did. I wrote something positive for her. I had a little box for gratitude and challenge because I’m very into being intentional and proactive, not reactive in the day. We did a little joke like. And (a box for) whose day can you make better.Every time there's darkness in the world, you should be the light for others. Click To Tweet
I’m trying to teach my kids to go into the day making someone else’s day better. Selfishly, that makes your day better too. It’s a win-win. I did that and started sharing it. I shared it on social media and my inbox flooded. It turned into, “Where do you get these? Is this from Etsy? Is this from Amazon? Can you share it? Can you tell me which book this is?”
I was like, “We are not the only ones who need this.” At the end of the day, no one writes a book unless they need it first. There was a very big awareness that we are not the only family who needs these lessons, the practice of gratitude, especially in a dark time in life. That’s when I googled, trying to hope the book existed, but it didn’t. The entrepreneur in me was like, “Time to walk the walk in front of your kids. If it doesn’t exist, you create it.” That’s where the start of the seed was planted.
Your daughter planted the first one.
I’m so impressed. What a family you have. It’s so special. The book, I’m going to grab it here because it’s phenomenal and a five-minute morning journal for kids, A Simple Seed: Growth, Gratitude and Giggles. Before we get into the book, you talk about actions and the element of what you said before. It is to have an idea or if something happens, you got to work through that with action. What’s the importance to you?
It goes back to watching Shark Tank. Every one of us has watched Shark Tank and been like, “That was my idea. That person stole my idea.” We have all had great ideas at some point in our life. The reason it never came to life is because we didn’t take action. My initial brain was like, “You don’t have time to create a book. You have four small kids and your husband’s not home a lot. You already have an at-home business.” How all the negative self-talk because the two-million-year-old brain is trying to keep me safe. It knows I’m going to fail and have a hard time. It already knows this is going to be incredibly difficult and so it keeps me safe but there is this part of me that couldn’t ignore and resist the feeling of knowing I had to do this.
One of the most powerful entries in this journal is Pick Your Hard. It is going to be hard to write a book and publish it. Ninety-seven percent of people who start writing a book do not finish. That’s because it is so difficult. What’s much harder is living with that dream, never fulfilling it, and having regret one day because regret is heavy. Everything is hard. You have to pick which one you want to take on and that all starts with action. Even when you have no clue what to do, you take that next one step and you can’t worry about the end.
It’s because it changes. I imagine your ideas change throughout this and how you are going to go about it. There’s probably doubt and uncertainty. I know I had a lot. That was one of my biggest vulnerable moments where I was like, “Who wants to hear my messages and my stories?” There’s a lot of doubt. People say, “We need this too. Bring this out.” There are 100 entries here that you are encouraging kids, teachers, and families to work through it. The first one dives into, as you mentioned earlier, being rigged in your favor. That’s such a beautiful way to start. Why is that to you? Why is that beautiful in your mind? Why did you put that one first? I was curious about that.
It’s intentional how it starts and ends. How it started was when I said, “There’s going to be a quote in your life, something somebody says, a book you read, or something in a movie that’s going to hit you differently. I hope you pause, listen, and figure out why because it’s not an accident.” When someone shared the quote with me, which is, “To live your life as though everything is rigged in your favor,” I felt it to the core.
The whole concept behind that is whether something good happens in your life, something bad, a rejection, or a door closes, trust that when that door closes, you know there’s something else that’s going to come open. We all know in hindsight it’s so easy to look back being like, “Now I know why that guy broke up with me. It led me to this one.”
You don’t see it at that time. This quote helps you stay centered in the moment and see, “Something good has to come out of this. I’m going to trust it is here and rigged in my favor and that life is working for me.” That is probably the biggest message in this whole journal and that’s why I wanted to start with it. It is really having kids learn to trust life. There are going to be a lot of things that aren’t going to go their way. You got to see it differently.
You say you have to learn to trust life’s plan, which we don’t know what the plan is yet. I love the thought of learning all the time from the good and the bad in our stories. What do we get out of it? It doesn’t mean life is perfect and we are happy all the time. I’m trying to go out there and coach about happiness and inclusion as a combined platform to change how we work together, how we bring out the best in each other, and how we light each other up. It’s so important for us to look at things positively and take the learning away. A growth mindset is something that’s critical.
I’m sure you have read Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. It is about believing in any potential within all of us. Without that, what is possible? I’m 100% with you that we need to take action to unlock the limitless possibilities that are within us and around us every day, which is phenomenal. Within that too, you ask about a parent’s perspective. I just want to validate. It says here, “As a parent, as you are going through this, share with your child a curveball that you have had to go through and look back and say, ‘It turned out to be good.’” Maybe you have already shared that. Was that the curveball that you shared with your kids, or did you share a different one?
Every entry has a parent perspective that relates to the lesson being learned. The reason I did that is because I want to connect. Communication is everything with parents. The more you talk and listen to your kids and have those moments, the more likely they will share them as they grow up. It’s so important to make that connection at a young age.
The second thing is I want kids to see the real parent that they are or the imperfect soul that they are. The last thing I want is for my kids to grow up thinking their mom was perfect because I’m the farthest thing from it. I’m very clear with them that when I make mistakes, I own it. I embrace failure and I teach them through my mistakes because I want them to know that that’s normal. It’s who you are. It’s who all of us are.
The curveball I talked to them about came from when I ran the Boston Marathon. It was a monsoon that day. It was the worst weather in Boston marathon history. I ran it for my daughter for Miles For Miracles to give back to Boston Children’s Hospital. I literally was like, “This couldn’t be worse when I sat there that morning.” Everything was like, “How am I going to do this? My shoes are going to be soaked. I never ran a marathon. I wasn’t even that prepared for it.” When I looked back at that curveball, that story lined me up to be a keynote speaker and share that story with over 20,000 people.
I would have never shared the story if it was a sunny day. No big story starts with a salad. It’s like, “Give us the dirt and tell me how you did it with the lightning and the 40-mile-per-hour winds.” That’s what people want to hear. When you think it’s a curveball, it’s maybe part of your story, you are going to build some character, or you are going to do something that you didn’t think you could do and you are going to build a little bit more confidence. That was a big one and I wasted a lot of energy that morning trying to control what I couldn’t control.
Your point about controlling what we can control is critical, especially running a marathon in the rain. No, thanks.
You have finished and it’s a great story to share. I love sharing stories with our kids to show this is possible. It’s about how you reorient your thinking and your can-do attitude. Again, it doesn’t mean there’s not darkness and struggles. It’s not just a parenting relationship to a child. This is teachers to children to show and lead by example. Your ability to be vulnerable, share those stories about what you have gone through, you have had darkness and it’s imperfect. It’s so important that we share that no matter who we are, a parent, a teacher, or a leader. I’m with you.
I recognize the more vulnerable I have been and the more courageous I have been in sharing, people want to pick us up. People want to learn from that. They want to say, “It is possible. I can react to bad things more quickly and I can break through it. I can break wide open. I can use these experiences to help us to do good or to learn from it and do better.” I love your story on how you are reinforcing all of that. For all of our adults that are tuning in, hopefully, the child inside of all our adults are coming alive too.
Especially when you do climb that mountain after you have been knocked down so many times, you are simply laying the carpet out for others to know you can too. We go through hard times and rise always. To shall pass is a very real thing. If you look at the patterns of your life and the hard things you have been through, you can easily see they have only made you stronger no matter what you went through. You are helping the next person. It goes back to what you said too about community, humanity, and nature. We are all connected. Every single one of us is connected.
The more that we have empathy, get vulnerable, and show our true colors because we have all been through difficult things, we all have flaws and all have all that stuff. When you show it and you are not afraid to because you know it’s a piece of who you are, you are opening a door for somebody else to do the same thing. That’s a beautiful thing because the worst thing you can do, and this is another entry, is to hold onto that inside instead of letting it go and embracing who you are at the core.
You said this earlier too. It’s two ways. As you give and help others, you get it back in return. That’s a beautiful thing in the sense that we are nourishing ourselves by helping others. We have to be ready for that and accepting of that. Back to your analogy on the root system. The root systems are usually intertwined with other roots and there are times when other roots need to feed the other trees.
It’s a beautiful relationship. It’s symbiotic and so interdependent. It’s where we need to be in the world. I love your metaphor and how you carry that through in the book and learnings. Could we go quickly through an exercise so we can give our readers an example? I’d love to do the second one because we have already touched on this a little bit.
It would be good to go through the structure and we will show a picture for our podcast audience. It’s titled Your Oh So Magical Brain. Maybe I could act as the child in this then you could be the parent or the teacher. Would that be alright? In the beginning, you are ready to hear why your brain is magical. Your brain is really powerful and complex. It could take in billions of bits of information. Not hundreds, not thousands, not millions but billions. What a message you are telling the kids. There are so many things we need to learn and it sounds overwhelming to imagine. Thank goodness for this RAS superhero. What does that mean? Maybe you could tell us a little bit about what that means and then we will carry on.
RAS stands for Reticular Activating System. It’s the back part of the brain and its sole job is to filter through those billions of bits of information. It can filter to 26 and it brings it to the front of your brain. When you get up in the morning, the RAS is activated. That is a key point. Your RAS is like, “What do you want to focus on? I got 26. I can put it in the front. What do you want?” Do you turn on the news and hear a lot of negativity? You then realize you are running late. Did you hit the snooze button? Are you saying you are tired?
Your RAS is like, “Let’s give them more to be tired about. Let’s give them more bad news if that’s what you are saying you want to focus on.” Are you telling it, “I am grateful? I’m going to read and do my journal. I’m going to fill it with positivity and make this person smile. I’m going to pay attention to myself talk.” What the RAS does is, “Those 26 bits of information that are in the front of your brain, let’s go attract it.”
Only 26 bits when you got billions to be thrown at you every day with phones, advertising, and teaching. For adults striving to work and all the other responsibilities, we allowed it to crowd our minds. No wonder a lot of us are robotic in our day getting through, not connecting, and not checking in. You go on in this journal about how important it is to focus as you mentioned. It brings out positivity and it gives us an area to pay attention to.
When will you pay attention to something that happens or you will start to see it? You give an example about we are going to buy a van as a family and you think there aren’t that many vans on the street. We have all been there. You buy a new car, you are thinking, “I got this cool new car,” and then you see ten on the way home.
That’s your RAS saying, “You said you wanted a van. That’s important. I’m going to make his eyes look that way and connect with it to reinforce that I’m working for you.” It even goes as far as thinking about somebody that day and then they call. How crazy when that happens and you are like, “I’m just thinking about you.” That’s very real. That’s energy. As you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
This is a crazy example. We were talking about the example of hearts. These one-eyed smiles out in the world and then all of a sudden, it appears in the sky. How does that happen?
It’s because it’s always been there. You told your brain it was important, then your brain was like, “There it is.” Ninety-nine percent of the other people kept walking because they didn’t pause to look up. They are probably looking down.
They are down on the phone or not focusing on their RAS. I didn’t know that’s what it was called. Thanks for educating me. Hopefully, a lot of the readers (learned something new) too.
It’s your superpower. That’s why it’s so important for kids (and adults) to understand it and you can use it in your favor.
You see it in your favor. Then you get into the other components of gratitude like writing down three things that you are grateful for. I wrote down love for family, friends, and our dogs. I wrote down sunrises because it is something I talk about all the time. Think about the beauty in that (each sunrise), the quietness and the calmness, and being able to wake up to another day. That alone and then being able to say, “I can make a difference today. I matter.” I can go do something positive and make somebody get excited, be joyful, or be positive.
The third one I wrote down is those connections we are talking about. I love finding something in nature or a sign and trying to make that connection because it taps back into the child that I had lost that’s inside my mind about living with wonder and awe. When I do that, I open up, expand, and welcome the world differently. That’s exactly what this whole section is all about. I was blown away when I was reading this. I’m like, “This is all similar to this one-eyed smile that’s sitting here on the icon.” In the next part, you have an I am statement and I wrote, “I am creative. I am limitless.” I wrote two. What’s the importance of that ‘I am’ statement in your mind?
Your ‘I am’ statements are a boomerang. What follows your ‘I ams’ will come back and follow you. If you wake up and you are like, “I’m so tired,” that’s a statement we don’t even realize we are saying. Your RAS is like, “Let’s give her more things to be tired about because that’s what she’s stating.” Whereas if you are like, “I am creative,” well then, “Creative man, let’s give him more things to be creative about. Let’s give him more things to create if that’s what he is.” It’s really telling yourself and the more you do this every single day, the more you will notice and see as your reality.
I’m not saying you are like, “Look I’m so strong,” it’s deeper to that. It’s action. When you say, “I am worthy every single day. I am enough. I am pretty smart. I am athletic,” whatever it may be, you believe it and your brain processes it, we become what we believe. That will come to life with time but you got to be aware of the voice that you are saying because it’s coming back to you whether it’s good or bad. Why wouldn’t we choose to pay attention and give it some positive thoughts?We become what we believe. Click To Tweet
As adults, we change the order. It’s almost like we are looking at this in the mirror instead of saying I am. We are asking, “Am I happy? Am I worthy? Am I creative?” I was always taught I’m not creative, I’m not a great artist, or I’m not a great instrument player. I can’t sing so I can’t be creative. To your point about the I am statements and going to action, I feel like I am creative.
I could only imagine the conversation you are having with your kids or parents are having with their kids at the breakfast table or at night. They are talking about, “Yes, you are.” They are reinforcing that and then reconnecting with these kids. It’s the beautiful thing and then you go on to talk about encouraging daily challenges. You have a nice little joke in here for morning giggles for the children, which is great.
It is super important for them. Humor per se.
It lightens it up. I even chuckled at this one too. It talks about, “When did baseball players get lemonade?” “The pitcher of course.” I thought that was good.
Honestly, it gets the parents to lighten up because we are so, “Let’s go,” in the morning. It gets you to pause and breathe a little bit.
We pause and reflect as you mentioned. You said, “Who can I make smile today?” I’d love to know who you are going to make smile today. I wrote down Dr. Matt Keefe because he gets back so much out in the world. You might know who that is and you guys are doing so much of that too. I’m going to reach out to him to say thanks for introducing you and me. He’s an amazing guy. I know you are a big fan too. Who are you going to big smile now?
He’s the best. It’s funny what Matt does. My brother is a dentist, whom Darrin is talking about. All he wants is for people to smile and be confident in their smiles. I couldn’t think of a better one. I’m going into the school later to do a little give back with one of my daughter’s classes and I’m going to make the teacher smile. It’s because I think teachers are struggling right now and teachers are overwhelmed. The whole concept is being intentional.
Kindness doesn’t just happen. The whole point of this is to be intentional. My daughter wrote to the lunch lady. Putting it in front of her brain is to make her smile. When you do that, who knows what that could do for her? She’s probably going to turn around and make someone else smile for that rush of dopamine, that rush of oxytocin, that is very real. Those chemicals are released when you put goodness into the world. Goodness doesn’t just happen. You have to be intentional about it.
Imagine if we all did that every day. It doesn’t matter who we are.
It would be a different world. We’d live in a different world.
Imagine if leaders make their teams smile or encourage and welcome folks to be their full selves or authentic selves, what could happen? We both know what could happen. Much potential would truly be tapped into. It would be amazing.
Magic would happen.
Smile out in the world and make people better. I have started to practice this with my kids. I will ask them when we get home about, “Who did you make better today? What happened? How did you make someone smile?” It is making them think a little bit differently. I am so grateful for that change and challenge. They are teenagers so it doesn’t matter what age you are for people to practice. It’s been really interesting to see them light up because they are thinking about it. They are also realizing in the moment how important it is. Again, we could all make that impact.
Then as you mentioned before about the parent’s perspective in the journal. It says, “Give an example of something you focused on and then it suddenly showed up in your life. Show the power of that RAS at work.” How did you share that with your kids? What did you say to them?
The one I did that day is when I was thinking about my mom. I was like, “I got to catch up with my mom.” She literally called a minute later. I can’t tell you how many times I have done that for her because I’m thinking about it. Sometimes this sounds so woo-woo to people on the outside and they are like, “Okay.” You have to also accept that some things can’t be explained. It’s like the concept of the animals rushing out before the tsunami hits. They have this intuition and knowing way before anybody else does. You can’t explain it. There are some things that can’t explain and you are going to waste your energy trying to figure it out.
If no one else can explain it, you probably can’t either or you are going to embrace there is something very real about energy. Think about it this way. If somebody cuts you off or you let someone go and they don’t even wave and they are rude about it, you feel that. You are like, “What the heck? Why did they do that?” Some people let that snowball and ruin their entire day. It’s that one or on the flip side, when someone takes the time to hold the door for you and then compliments you as you walk through, you feel that too. That’s energy and that changes your whole day in a better way. It’s a very real thing.
It’s the small things that you have been talking about that make an impact that we could all do. It’s not extra work. People feel like, “It takes so much effort to change. I don’t have time. We are all so busy.” It’s about using our time effectively and not changing somebody else, but changing into the amazing authentic selves we all are like where we came from. We came into this world not judging each other. We came in to thrive and help each other.
We could all take a lot of lessons from your book. I applaud you so much for what you are doing and how you are bringing this message out to the world. Your family has been an inspiration too (and the roles they are playing). I love the dedication about how you have an editor, you have a practitioner, and the plant seeder that we talked about.
You are inspirational. The light that you have gotten from Gabby and your son Drew is such a support system. Your husband is amazing. He’s a fireman and he’s still on this journey with you. You guys are serving the world and all of us to get better to thrive and for us to be able to plant the seeds. I want to say thank you for what you are doing. Thank you to all the teachers out there. Thank you to all the firemen and firefighters of the world that are making an impact. I’m so thankful. Before we cut out, I’d love to know what else you are doing to pay it forward. I know this book is planting a seed literally each time when it’s purchased. I’d love to know a little bit more about that and other things that are happening from how you are paying it forward these days.
I’m a very big believer in the more you give in the world, the more you get. You can’t give to get. It’s like, “When you learn, go ahead and teach.” That’s this concept. I learned this morning routine. It helped me. Now I’m going to give back and teach others. I’m starting to go into schools and speak and talk about this concept. In this book, everything serves a purpose. I knew when my kids understood gratitude. We always pause before we eat and we do prayers at night. One of them was like, “I’m so grateful for the farmer who let me have these French fries.” A year ago, this same kid would have shoveled the French fries down, not thinking about anybody having to do anything with those French fries. It’s like the French fries fairy dropped them on the plate.The more you give in the world, the more you get in return. Click To Tweet
It’s that deeper level thinking that they know there’s a farmer that they will never meet that worked and grew that potato and then went through the process so that you could have that on your plate. It’s seeing and appreciating life in a different way. When we created this book, and I knew I wanted to get this book out in the world, and realized we can’t live without the trees. This book couldn’t be printed without the trees. When we have books sold, we partnered with One Tree Planted and we go back and plant trees.
It’s the cycle of life. They say the best thing you can do in this life is plant a tree under which shade you will never sit under because you are doing that for the next generation and the next generation. Any time where you can give back, and there’s always a time you can give back. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It could be your time. It could be as small or big as you want. It all adds up. It makes a difference. If you have that mentality of, “I’m grateful for this journal and the trees that they didn’t have a choice but they were cut down to make my book, you better believe I’m going to go ahead and give that back.”The best thing you can do in this life is plant a tree under which shade you'll never sit under because you're doing that for the next generation and the generation after that. Click To Tweet
You are paying it forward in so many ways. You are helping to nourish our world with more oxygen and beauty. You are planting seeds all around the world. Think about what you are impacting for the children and helping teachers and conversations with parents and families. This is impacting adults, families, and our communities. You are giving back in so many different ways. I admire everything you are doing.
It’s an honor to be friends and along this journey with you. I know your family and you get some of this from how much they have given back over their lifespan and continue to do so I applaud them and love them as well. I want to say it’s been wonderful chatting with you. I look forward to seeing what’s ahead. It’s been fun to be in the front seat to watch you grow yourself and see you transform. Now you are serving so many other people and we are going to see that have a ripple effect around the world.
Thank you so much. Same to you. You listen and led the way. You think you are in the front seat. You literally are. I have followed you on this journey, so thank you.
Thank you for that. We are out there together. I appreciate all your support as well, and I’m watching you on this. We will keep it and help each other like the root system. We are nourishing, helping, and feeding. If we all contribute little things in small ways, we can make a great impact.
Thank you so much. This has been awesome.
I am blown away by Katie Wood and her family. What an inspiration. What a light for us to step into so we can start to see life differently, more openly, and more positively. It is never too late. We can nourish and replenish our roots every single day and I love how she asks us to start our day with gratitude so we can frame our focus. We could remind ourselves to pay attention to the positive things and notice what matters. To look at life like it’s rigged in our favor, how cool is that? We could also shift our thinking from, “Am I?” to saying “I am.” Like saying, “I am lovable. I am worthy. I am happy,” so we can reinforce what we are and can become.
I also love the fact that she shared the whispers from her daughter and how she saw signs out in the world. I invite us to do the same thing. She sees hearts. I see one-eyed smiles. It lights us up and gives us a presence. If we pause, it gives us calmness and strength, joy, and love, all the things that truly light us up. Take a moment to find those signs that are sitting right in front of you now waiting to be found.
Another simple idea is we could help make other people better. Find someone you can make smile each day. Imagine if we all did that every day. That’s a simple act of kindness and love that will pick up the spirits in the everyday world. Also, make sure you pick up her journal. This is a beautiful and genius concept that any of us could practice. It’s wonderful to practice with your kids, kids in schools, or everywhere (or at work or in our communities).
You could practice as adults because these are the same principles we need to rewire our every day and reshape back into our happy, authentic selves. I even heard there’s an 85-year-old man that’s going through this so he can experience positivity and notice what he’s missing out on so he can also document this and give this back as a memoir to his family. How beautiful is that?
Katie Wood, I am honored to be your friend. I love having a front-row seat on your journey. For everybody that’s reading, I appreciate you following the show. Thank you for believing anything is possible. Remember, it’s never too late to ignite your happy, authentic self, and make sure you live your possible.
- Katie Wood
- A Simple Seed
- Miles For Miracles
- Katie Wood on Today Show
About Katie Wood
Katie Wood is a thought leader, entrepreneur, and author of “A Simple Seed” journal of growth, gratitude & giggles. In 2014, she transitioned from a 10-year career in teaching special education to fully embracing entrepreneurial life.
Katie speaks frequently at training events, schools and is also developing several business ventures. ‘A Simple Seed’ has been ranked a best-seller on Amazon, #1 in All Children’s Books, #1 in Happiness Self-Help, and #5 in ALL BOOKS. The journal has been featured on The TODAY SHOW, NBC, Entrepreneur Magazine and podcasts such as “The Story Behind Her Success” with Candy O’Terry and “Entrepreneurs on Fire” an award winning podcast with over 100 million listens every month.
Among her successes, Katie credits her most rewarding role as that of mom to her four wild and fun-loving kids and fire-wife.