How We Can Optimise Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing

By Dave Sinclair

First, start small. Choose one small thing that will allow you to move forward. Too often we get overwhelmed because we think we have to do everything at once. What happened when I had a list of 300 to-do things? I did nothing. So I start with the smallest of steps to make it less daunting. Tiny habits combined create leaps.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Well-being?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Sinclair.

Dave Sinclair was once the co-owner of a multinational corporation. He worked fifteen-hour days and spent money on lavish vacations and fancy cars. But he felt stuck, trapped in the rat race, disconnected from his family, and from himself.

Predictably, he suffered a burn out which forced him to make meaningful changes in his life. He sold his stakes in the company, checked himself into a meaning- and purpose-based treatment facility, and pursued his MBA to become a business and life coach.

Now, Dave helps other men find their true values. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to achieve that. It takes hard work, and Dave does not pretend otherwise. He strongly believes that it is high time we had a conversation around the feelings of alienation that keep men today from being their best selves.

In his upcoming book, Numb?, to be released March 2, 2021, Dave emboldens his readers to be the alchemist of their lives, by using a 4-stage Step Back process.

Dave lives on an acreage outside of Edmonton, Alberta with his wife Gaylene, two dogs, and two cats!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up on a farm. A farm is a living experience, but it is also a business. The biggest lesson it taught me is the only way to get things done is to wake up and do the work. If you don’t, crops die. You reap what you sow. This lesson has stuck with me to this day. You have to get up and put the effort in. It might seem mundane but those seeds you plant in the spring eventually poke through and turn into a beautiful plant. However, if you don’t plant the seeds and do the work to nurture them, the crop will never come. If you don’t do it on time, it won’t mature on time. So it’s all about doing the work or else it will just stay a dream.

Farm life gave me a connection to nature that didn’t only give me purpose but also connected me to myself and my spirit. Somehow I forgot this and became a workaholic who got stuck in the rat race. I lost my identity and had to hit rock bottom to find a path towards remembering what I had forgotten. I always kept the value of hard work, but I forgot what fueled my soul. You can’t have one without the other. It is great to move forward, but all too often we forget why we do it. We need to remember to put the effort into the right spots and make sure we flourish instead of just making money for money’s sake.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My career as a coach was inspired by an event from nine years ago. A couple months after abruptly leaving a business behind, I woke up in a jail cell after a drunken night out. I was cold, afraid and alone. At this point, I realised I was connected to nothing. I no longer knew who I was. I realised I was also trapped in a metaphorical prison of my own making. Things had to change and to break out of this jail cell, I had to confront the facts and do the hard work. So I checked myself into a meaning and purpose-based rehab centre. It was there that I realised I wasn’t alone.

From there, I asked myself what I could do to help others. I completed an MBA, and I did the deeper work, which led me to coaching. The darkest moment in my life also became an opportunity for me to change, love life, and be happy. So many men are in self-imposed prisons, and I want to help them break out of it. They are the reason I chose this line of work, to help them. I absorbed a lot of material, I did the hard work to get better, and now I want to open up the conversation, to help men get through the tough times.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Of course, there are individual people, but what helped me the most was a group of men I support. We used to meet in person and now it is permanently online. Since going virtual we have been able to expand throughout North America. We meet to share our stories, the good and the bad. For some of the men, meeting is almost like religion. It is not a co-dependency, but a healthy support system where you share what is going on for you and hold space for others to share, creating a safe space for learning and growth. Our aim is the pursuit of mutual growth and success. Learning to receive the gift of connection and sharing it is something men aren’t used to doing. But if someone asks for your help, and you help them, that’s a wonderful feeling. This group inspires me and gives me the energy to take this out beyond the group to the rest of the world.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

It might not be funny but the most interesting is waking up in that cell and feeling alone, cold, scared, not knowing where to go for help. I don’t want other men to go through that. It is hard to think of any other answer. If it wasn’t for that cell I don’t know where I would be now. That cell gave me the motivation to change, realise I am not alone and that I can create a better future.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Power of TED by David Emerald. This book really helped show me how casting myself in the role of the victim got in the way of my growth. Looking back I can see how blaming others for my problems led me to almost give up, and ultimately that made me feel stuck. David Emerald’s book describes the antidote to this, which is adopting a creator’s mindset. When you have a creator’s mindset you look for the opportunity. Instead of seeing my jail episode as a problem, I chose to see it as a challenge. It challenged me to see I was not living true to me.

Can you share your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Do the work.” Why is this so important? I have coached a lot of people, and those who are not willing to do the work will seldom move forward and get better. Full stop. You have to do the work and that starts with the small things. It is important to do the work and find inspiration behind it and the meaning in it. There is huge meaning in the work.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am growing a private Facebook group for men to talk about their issues. I want to take what exists in the group of men I already meet with and make it accessible to every man who needs this kind of connection. My goal here is to create a much-needed conversation around men and how their actions can lead them towards or away from an ideal life. In my group, I want to help men find themselves before they have to find their own rock bottom.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series, we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

First, start small. Choose one small thing that will allow you to move forward. Too often we get overwhelmed because we think we have to do everything at once. What happened when I had a list of 300 to-do things? I did nothing. So I start with the smallest of steps to make it less daunting. Tiny habits combined create leaps.

Second, be grateful. Be grateful for what you do have. Be grateful for the work you did yesterday to move the needle forward. Be grateful for who you truly are, and what you bring to this world. I remember when I was a teenager, I always looked in the mirror and wished my nose was smaller. I was so fixated on what I saw as wrong I could not see anything beyond this. Shifting your focus to what you do have helps break past fixating on what we do not have.

Third, adopt a growth mindset! I remember watching a presentation on neuroplasticity. I was blown away to learn that we can, with deliberate practice, change almost anything. We may not have the genetics to be the next Albert Einstein, but with effort and practice, we can affect our own mental capacities! Maybe I can even learn to remember all the important birthdays in my life!

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

I have a morning meditation routine that I have adapted over time to fit my needs. It has become a non-negotiable in my life, and I look at it as giving myself the gift of time, reflection and grounding every morning. It takes me 30 to 40 minutes to go through. A big shout out to Vishen Lakhiani and his 6 Phase Guided Meditation on which I have based much of my daily routine.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

First, find things you like to do and expand on them if you can! Find ways to combine things that make physical wellness more fun. For example, I love to run. It clears my mind and optimises my energy. I also love reading. So I combined them: I run with audiobooks, so I get to learn while I run. The two support each other. When I don’t want to run I can motivate myself with a great book that I can listen to at the same time!

Second, be patient. I remember the first marathon I did. I started getting in my own way during the race because I went way too fast. At the 10k mark everything was hurting, and three-quarters of the way through, everything fell apart. I remember running by someone who was down and had a paramedic beside them and I thought, “Wow! It’s good to get in shape, but don’t kill yourself doing it!” Whether you are training for a marathon or working towards being able to walk a mile, take small steps and enjoy the journey. Every step forward is a step further than you took yesterday!

Third, remember that exercise helps to increase neuroplasticity and actually grow neurons. When you’re running, you’re actually getting smarter! For me, knowing that as I run I am growing up my mental smarts links the whole thing as a system!

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I think we don’t understand the system that is us. For me, understanding how sugar or caffeine affects my system and overall physical, emotional and mental wellbeing provides extra motivation to stay away from what harms me. I remember how after being in the treatment centre I was still feeling really up and down, anxious, etc. I saw a nutritionist and she took the time to explain how refined sugar and caffeine may be amplifying my anxiety. It is important to think of food as fuel you put your body as part of the system that will allow you to create the future you want!

I still like sugar, but I noticed that whenever I have too much of it, there are consequences. After a sugar binge, I can fall into a bit of a depressive state a couple days later. Once I realised the link between sugar for mental and physical wellness, it made it easier for me to pay attention to what I eat. I don’t cut it out completely and I really enjoy pie on special occasions. It’s my kryptonite. But a cheat meal doesn’t mean a cheat week or year.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

First, don’t hold it all in. Find people to talk to and realise you are not alone. If you hold it in you, it may just build-up to the point you can not deal with it anymore. Don’t think you have to do it all yourself. Yes, you need to take those steps forward but you can do it with others.

Second, make sure you hold space for the people you are going to talk to and lean on as well. Let it turn into a conversation. Remember, people really like helping other people. How do you feel when someone else asks you for help? Build up a network where you mutually give and receive the gift of helping each other.

Third, increase your emotional awareness of what makes you… well, you. Use tools like the Enneagram to help you better recognize and understand your personality patterns and what you can do to forge better relationships with yourself and others. The Enneagram can be a game-changer! It sure has been for me.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

It is huge. Just try it right now. Think of something that is amasing and just smile. What do you notice? Smiling has been shown to help release chemicals in our brain like dopamine and serotonin which are both associated with positive moods. Smiling is that little pattern break you might just need to move from glum to glory. For me what adds an extra dimension is finding something to smile about. I can’t say it enough: be grateful. It’s not about a fake smile but taking a step back and finding something to genuinely smile about. The smallest of things, the biggest of smiles, and you have that boost of energy to take the next steps towards something else to smile about! Magic!

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

First, find what really matters to you and then make the time to just be with it. What is it in this world that helps you tap into feelings of awe, wonder, love, and hope? Is it connection to others, reconnection to past activities you really enjoyed, time in nature? Where do you find your moment of wonder? It does not have to be huge either! I recall a time when I was running when I was immediately struck with the landscape around me. I mean, just full-on struck by the beauty of it all. The trees, the sprawling landscape in front of me… I ran on and time seemed to slow down to the point I could see the dance of each individual leaf in the breeze. Small moments, huge awe factor!

Second, take the time to sit with what is here in front of you and find the message of what is important to you. I remember when all that I was really connected to in life was my business. The only way I could find any hint of satisfaction was to get the next order, the next big check, and from here, buy the next thing that I felt would bring me happiness. What a lie I was telling myself! When I finally slowed down and started to see what was already here, things like my family, my health, my ability to deeply connect with others, I started to realise that what I always wanted, peace and connection, was available to me even if I did not get that next bonus, vacation, or fancy car.

Third, do the work so you can show up the best you can. Everything is tied together and it is all one. The problem isn’t that you want too much, the problem is you don’t want it all, the question is, what is your all? Find your connection, values and spirit. It is important to step back and rediscover what it is you most deeply want.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

I love being in the mountains, and the rich smell of the forests there. Being in nature just brings me back to the interconnectedness of it all. The trees create the oxygen we breathe in and they breathe in the carbon dioxide we breathe out. Without each other, we don’t exist. Look at the wonder and tap into the beauty of it all and realise our atoms are made up of the same stardust that is in these trees. We are all a part of the same thing. We are connected, and in nature, we can constantly rediscover that.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I help men, who like me 10 years ago, feel trapped, numb, alone, and almost ready to give up. My dream is to expand my one-on-one coaching practice and virtual support groups to allow more men to tap into what they truly value, get off the rat race, and move towards a life of freedom, purpose, and peace, ideally before they hit their rock bottom.

The first step towards helping these men is through honest conversation so they can see they are not alone. To start this conversation I have been growing a private Facebook group for men to have a safe space to feel supported and empowered. Imagine what it would be like to be a part of a society where men evolve past the toxic masculinity and self-imposed limitations and transform into a life of authenticity. Join us, men from all walks of life, to gain confidence and be the leader you have always been.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I’d love to sit down with Richard Branson. I think we share the belief that we don’t have to keep doing the things the way we’ve been conditioned to do them, and that we can change the rules of the game. I think someone like Branson would really understand what I’m trying to do by creating this movement, and maybe he could even support it in some way.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I have a website, a LinkedIn, and a Facebook page. Don’t hesitate to reach out! And I also have the men-only private Facebook group I mentioned.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.


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