Dr. Terence Young of ‘Young Phoenix Enterprises’: How We Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness
Know that you have much more than you realize. Many years ago, I was abruptly let go from my job after six months because the administration didn’t feel my production was financially adequate; it devastated me. It was a month before I planned to propose to my beautiful wife, Yolanda! I went through all the worst-case scenarios of not having a job. However, when I realized that my job was only a small component of my life, I could then express gratitude for my health, a roof over my head, food on the table, and most importantly, the opportunity to find a better situation. I realized I was blessed in so many ways, and being grateful for all I had helped me mentally get through the challenges.
As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic.”
What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?
One tool we all have access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Terence Young.
Terence Young was healing his family with his toy medical kit, giving injections, and spreading joy and love even in early childhood.
Living a life of service has always been his life’s journey. Dr. Young has transitioned from an award-winning physician and expanded his reach to coaching, mentoring, and speaking.
Instead of delivering babies, he delivers wisdom and expertise, drawing upon his experience of communicating with tens of thousands of patients.
Dr. Young is the CEO of Young Phoenix Enterprises, a company dedicated to providing quality material to assist business and personal clients with optimizing their mindset, and professional and personal lives. He has appeared in multiple media, including the Huffington Post.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?
I have been blessed to provide women’s health care as an Obstetrics and Gynecology physician for the last 21 years. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor, providing care and support to others, being there for them during their time of need. I have faced many life challenges while trying to obtain my dream of being a physician, and without the love and support of others, it would not have been realized.
After talking with thousands of patients, listening to their challenges and struggles, I discovered a greater purpose; to help even more people beyond my immediate medical practice. Having a strong mental fortitude has prepared me to help others, outside of my role as a physician, to overcome challenges they may face in their own lives.
I like to think of what I do as a life coach, speaker, and entrepreneur as a transition from delivering babies to providing empowerment and mental well-being and helping others unlock their inner potential.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting and perhaps the most impactful story was my first triathlon. The craziest thing is, I didn’t know how to swim. I had a lifelong fear of drowning. I had to take lessons and mentally prepare myself for the challenge of swimming 300 yards in the pool as practice for the race. On race day, I had a panic attack in the water! I got winded and barely made it to finish the mile-long swim. I also wasn’t prepared for the 10-mile bike ride through the hills of Pennsylvania and quickly got exhausted. Bringing a very heavy mountain bike to a triathlon race also didn’t help. Going into the final leg with the run, I had nothing left in the tank and walked most of the way; by that time, I was dead last.
However, one of the earlier finishers noticed me on the course and started walking, then running with me for the final mile. As a special touch, the race announcer announced my name over the loudspeaker encouraging me to finish strong, which I did. Although I finished, I felt embarrassed and ashamed for coming in last and didn’t take pride in what I accomplished.
The most impactful part of the day came after the race when a guy came up to me as I was leaving the course. He asked me if I was the guy who finished the race last. Embarrassed, I said, “yes.”
“I want to shake your hand,” he said. He was one of the event organizers. Having heard how I gutted out the course and did not quit, he told me, “this is the reason I hold the event year after year. I do it to show people how strong they are when they put their minds and heart into it.”
It is a lesson I carry with me today, which steers my career. Whether you do or do not achieve your goals, you are successful because you took action in the first place.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I’m a Star Wars fan, and the quote from Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back really resonates with me.
“Do or do not; there is no try.”
We all have a choice to sit idly by while letting our lives be dictated by other people, forces, or events or to take action, no matter how small, to move towards the goals and dreams we desire.
During my junior year in high school, my guidance counselor asked me what my plans were after graduation. I proudly told her I was attending Morehouse College and then I would try to get into medical school to achieve my dream of becoming a physician. She was silent and had a look of despair on her face before questioning whether I had the grades to achieve such a “lofty” goal. At that point, I was fully committed to becoming a doctor. I wasn’t going to just “try” some stuff and see if it happens.
That encounter, painful at the time, helped instill a bulletproof mentality to believe I would achieve anything and everything I desired.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?
Everything in life comes back to your mental attitude and the seeds you plant within. I listen to the audio version of The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale (at a 2.5x speed to get through it quicker!) every morning to help jumpstart my day. It resonates with me because when I face challenges or things that may not go my way, I remember that I have a choice. I can choose to react, letting the situation negatively dictate my mental well-being or I can choose to reflect upon the situation. Taking a step back to see whether my thoughts and emotions are working for or against me will help me to discern what best serves me in the long run. My inner thoughts determine my external well-being, and I choose to make them positive, despite what may occur. Thoughts of success breed success from within, rather than it being an external end goal.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My business partner, a performance psychologist, and I are working together to create a mental wellness workshop and retreat for doctors with physician burnout. Even before the stresses from the COVID-19 pandemic, physician burnout was over 50%, and I shudder to think how the data from 2020 will look.
Having experienced burnout personally, I understand the challenges clinicians face, both in and out of the workplace. Our goal is to bring immense benefit to physicians and others who are mentally and emotionally struggling from the challenges of the pandemic. We started the process with a 14-day free resource for healthcare providers on LinkedIn and had great feedback and response. We’re excited to roll out this new workshop/retreat, and know many will benefit from it.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My greatest supporter was my father, who sadly passed away in the winter of 2019. Before and after becoming a physician, he was always there to support me, during all stages of my career. He challenged me to look outside the box when I was struggling and kept me humble when I achieved my goals and dreams, reminding me to be grateful for what I had because life could easily take it away. He wasn’t the person who was the cheerleader, “rah, rah, rah, go get em” type, but the calm and cool man who always asked the right question at the right time.
When I was in medical school and was challenged by the coursework, I thought about quitting and simply walking away. He asked me, “Terence, how would life look in five years if you quit and who else would lose out if you do?”
Life is bigger than one person, and I realized that my success could also fuel others to thrive and succeed. Dad was my rock, my foundation, whenever times got tough, and I will always remember and be grateful to him for that. Because of his support, I am quick to listen to others and support them when they are in times of need.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let us move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let us start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?
Gratitude is a state of mind. It’s a challenge to think positively 100% of the time, but a positive mindset is the first step towards achieving an attitude of gratitude. However, gratitude is more than simple positive thinking. The next step is having that positive mindset for all things within your life, no matter how big or how small. A grateful state of mind is one that appreciates what life has given you, knows how easily it can be taken away, and can be appreciative either way. Don’t just be grateful for your “successes” or “victories;” be appreciative of the little things in life.
Waking up after sleeping in a warm bed, having a meal to eat, and basic needs that many others may not have are all things for which to be grateful.
Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?
I feel that the advances of technology, particularly in the US, have simplified our lives to the point where many are simply too passive. Information is one Google search away; communication is merely hitting a button on your smartphone. When things come too easy to us, we tend to take them for granted and not appreciate how blessed we are compared to other people.
The feeling of gratitude can be elusive because we have been conditioned to take the easy path in life and not appreciate what is before us. It’s so much easier to live the status quo with today’s technology; everything is at our fingertips. There is also a sense of entitlement alive today, taking the place of being grateful for what one has and challenging them to strive for more.
This might be intuitive to you, but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?
Appreciating the simple things in life, the things we take for granted can be of immense benefit. Being grateful opens the door to compassion and support for our fellow man, which is especially important in today’s diverse world. There are always others in worse situations than the one that may seem devastating to you — knowing that and doing something to help leads to being more supportive and engaging. Ultimately, that benefits you as much as it does the person you have helped. It’s essential to be grateful to help better support humanity.
Let us talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?
Gratitude improves one’s clarity. As you experience more gratitude, you become more appreciative, less stressed, and less overwhelmed. Focusing on the positive instead of the negative allows you to think more clearly, have more insight, and think more creatively. In turn, when challenges or struggles arise, and they will, gratitude makes it easier for you to find your way through them rather than being stuck.
Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?
Five Ways to Leverage the Power of Gratitude to
Improve Your Overall Mental Wellness:
- Success is not a destination; it is a journey. When I competed in my first half ironman, I reflected upon the day. The year of training to get to this stage and knowing that I still had a way to go. One year prior, I was afraid to get in the water and was about to swim over a mile in the open lake. Instead of being nervous, I was excited to compete and knew no matter the day’s outcome; I was successful just by having the courage to start. I am grateful for that successful experience; it gave me the joy to enjoy the journey, even when I’m challenged.
- Understand that your words are powerful. Gratitude is not just within; it is external. When I was more active on Facebook, I would have a daily Facebook Live, talking about gratitude and well-being. To me, the words and message seemed obvious, but that wasn’t the case for all those watching. Many people were inspired, even comforted by my words, telling me my message helped them through a challenge in their life. A simple, powerfully worded message, can be incredibly impactful. Gratitude comes when you know you are influencing others for the better.
- Know that you have much more than you realize. Many years ago, I was abruptly let go from my job after six months because the administration didn’t feel my production was financially adequate; it devastated me. It was a month before I planned to propose to my beautiful wife, Yolanda! I went through all the worst-case scenarios of not having a job. However, when I realized that my job was only a small component of my life, I could then express gratitude for my health, a roof over my head, food on the table, and most importantly, the opportunity to find a better situation. I realized I was blessed in so many ways, and being grateful for all I had helped me mentally get through the challenges.
- Realize the power of visualization. When you take on a new task or challenge, see yourself completing it. Experience all the feelings, see who is around you, check in with yourself by asking, “how is my mindset.” By seeing and feeling success now, you put yourself in a state of mind that fosters creativity, motivation, and dedication to take action. Be grateful in knowing you are taking the first steps towards believing the accomplishment is already here. What you believe, you will achieve! When I get challenged with a difficult surgery, I visualize the successful completion and a healthy patient waking up alive and well. I feel the joy of their well-being and feel grateful for having positively touched another’s life.
- Ask yourself powerful open-ended questions. To appreciate where you are and be grateful for your current state, ask yourself powerful questions.
- Where will I be in a year if I don’t go for my goals or dreams? On the other hand, where will I be if I do?
- How will my life look when I achieve what I desire?
- Who, other than myself, benefits from me doing what needs to be done? How many lives can I change?
- Is my situation really that bad, or are their others who are worse off? What am I grateful for today?
- If I do not appreciate what I have now, how will I achieve even more?
These and many other questions offer powerful self-reflection. They allow you to discover that you have more than you realize and be aware of the consequences of not appreciating your blessings or the losses that may occur for not doing so.
Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling down, vulnerable, or really sensitive?
When I’m feeling down, vulnerable, or overly sensitive, I get into my “Matrix” moment. Remember the movie with Keanu Reeves? While people were shooting at him, he was dodging bullets in slow motion. That’s what I do when I face challenges. Take a deep breath, slow down, focus on my breathing, hear the respiration, feel my chest rise and fall, my inner voice telling me to “stay calm, relax, breathe.” There are many ways to do breathing exercises. A simple one is “box” breathing. Breathe in deep for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, exhale for five seconds, then repeat the process. Focusing on your breath will quiet your mind and bring calm to your body.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?
There are many resources out there for living in gratitude. My favorite is the “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles. Before one can maximize the benefits of being grateful, they must have the right mindset. While on the surface, the book, mainly because of the title, may appear to focus on physical riches, it goes far beyond that.
I look at riches, not just in wealth, but as overall well-being, mental fortitude, and gratitude. Building a foundation on knowing that you can create whatever you desire in life humbles you and allows you to be grateful for what you have now and what is to come.
It is a powerful read and amazing work, despite having been written over 100 years ago!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My passion lies in supporting the underserved in my community and the world. My dream is to build and grow a community where all people have the same opportunity to build businesses and see their dreams and passions fulfilled. Everyone will have the opportunity for their ideas to become a reality, funding is readily available for all, and everyone has a chance in life regardless of their looks, mannerisms, or beliefs. It will be a community and city where everyone is there to support each other. Having the wealth reinvested within will sustain and enhance its growth, teaching children and families early on about the power of entrepreneurship.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
I invite you to visit my website, www.terenceyoungmd.com. Feel free to download my free eBook From Fears to Freedom and sign up for my weekly newsletter. I’ll keep you up to date on what’s happening. I love to talk with people about their challenges and successes. As I help others, I grow as well. My door is always open, and it is the quickest way to connect with me.
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Dr Terence Young of ‘Young Phoenix Enterprises’: How We Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Impr was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.