Friday, March 18, 2016

Health and Happiness with Michael Strahan

There is just something about how you expect a big man to act. The expectations are there that someone that is physically imposing must be someone that has a personality to match. There is a stigma that follows us around that because of our imposing size we must be tough guys. We are men after all and men can't be bothered with our feelings.

I used to run into this a lot as a male teacher. People would automatically look at my 6'6" size, bald head and assume that I was a gym teacher or coach of some kind. They envisioned me barking orders from a sideline and making people do push ups.

Most were blown away to find out I was an art teacher. A caring and compassionate teacher who was tough but fair. My students would constantly ask me why I wasn't playing in the NBA because size to them meant money. They didn't understand how important being happy was the real measure of success.

Part of being happy in life is feeling good about yourself. We can all benefit from conversations about our healthier selves. Many times it can just take a positive word or encouragement from others to get us there. There were many of these conversations at the Dad 2.0 Summit which I attended in Washington D.C. where men of all walks of life had #Heart2Heart converstions with each other about the evolution of fatherhood and embracing our varied roles.

The hardest part is just starting the conversation. This can be difficult especially if you are talking to someone about something that concerns you. I almost didn't have that with my own dad. You don't want that chance to have that conversation pass you by.

Talking to our dads can be especially hard. They raised us and they know everything right? But sometimes men just don't like talking about their health. They may see it as a weakness thing or maybe no one has ever really asked them. Recently, Michael Strahan made a video with his dad discussing what it means to have a #Heart2Heart with someone you love about their health. We want our loved ones to be around for a long as they can so having a conversation about their health is key to helping them live healthier lives.

I had the rare opportunity to sit down with Michael Strahan to discuss the conversations we need to have with our loved ones about their health. And thanks to Meta Wellness I was able to sit down with Michael and discuss what kind of impact these conversations can have on our total well being and how they can help us not only physically but mentally as well.

CB : How do you feel about coming to Dad 2.0 Summit?

MS: Actually it is awesome. I wish there was something like this when I was a young father. It would have been great to have a fellowship with other parents and other fathers to see if they are going through the same things, how they handle certain situations, or just have a conversation. I'm glad it is happening now and thankful that some of the guys are open to doing it. I think sometimes as a man you think "I don't need to talk about my health, I'm good, I don't need to share my feelings" This is really cool to see guys who are past that.

CB : Keynote speaker Brad Meltzer talked about what we are leaving behind for our children and this concept of legacy.  If you had to write your own obituary, how would you finish this sentence "He was a...."

MS: Great father. At the end of the day it's about your kids appreciating you, loving you, respecting you and understanding that you did everything you could for them and that you put them in front of yourself. And I think that prioritizing your life is tough when you are a father. There's work and kids but there are still ways to let your kids know how important they are to you.

CB: You mentioned that when you're a good guy more people want to root for you. When we talk about athletes today and their personas, do you think that more players today should focus on playing a part or being themselves?

MS: I think that too many guys are trying to be cool. Not to say that they are bad guys. I know a lot of guys who give off some persona but away from that you are like "This is one of the coolest people I've ever met." I think that mystery and being cool is the play of the day instead of just being yourself. It's a lot easier being yourself all the time instead of constantly switching up, back and forth, and forgetting who the heck you really are. Being who you are is the best thing you've got.

CB: I suffer from depression and I know that you wrote a book called Wake Up Happy. What advice can you give to people like me who suffer from this disease who feel like we don't deserve happiness?

MS: It's funny because I truly look at it and go I don't know what I did to deserve it. Do I deserve it? Any time your life changes it's a big adjustment. Even though I was going from football to TV I was still scared to death.There was still an adjustment, some depression there because I was giving up something I had known and was so comfortable with. And even though I was comfortable with it, I felt like there was something missing there.

For me, I just feel like I need to do my best in whatever situation I am in and enjoy every situation I was in. I had to choose to enjoy where I am at and the good things I deserve. The bad things as well, that's what comes with my life. I choose to not look at the bad things as bad things. I don't look at problems as problems. I look at them as something I smile at and look at and say "OK, now I am going to have fun and come up with a solution" I had to change my mindset. It's not that my problems are any different from anyone else's I just changed my mindset on what a problem is to me.

CB : On Instagram you do your Wake Up Happy Rules that are motivational outlooks on the day. People who suffer from depression often see the dark side of the day so your posts are about being positive. 

MS: That's how I go about my day, I try to look at everything in as bright a light as I possibly can and just run with it. Don't question why you may have certain things that happen to you. Don't say "I shouldn't be happy today" say "Why shouldn't you be happy today? You have the dark but you also see that tunnel, you have to see where you are headed. You'll come out of it and when you expect good things, things will happen.

CB: You have a great relationship with your dad that seems to be based on humor. How do you act around your own children?

MS: I make crazy faces, that's my thing. I just try to be fun with my kids and silly with my kids. I'm always kind of silly with my kids almost to the point where I try to embarrass my kids. At the father daughter dance, we were doing the Whip and Nae Nae and the Cupid Shuffle but then to do extra silliness with it to the point where they are like "C'mon dad!" I like that. I do whatever I got to do to make them smile, laugh, and enjoy it.

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