This month’s featured Peacemaker is Quentin Vennie. He is a writer, speaker, wellness expert and author of the forthcoming memoir The Hardest Truth (Rodale, 2017). He continues to share his experiences growing up in Baltimore, the impact poverty has had on his life, and how he overcame addiction, an anxiety disorder, and depression using his personal ‘Trinity of Wellness.’
Through his many philanthropic efforts, coaching and speaking, he aims to continue motivating and inspiring people to rediscover their truth, while helping them uncover the tools needed to rewrite the story of their lives. He is living proof that it’s never too late to become a better version of yourself.
PMPL: What does the phrase Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life mean to you?
QV: The phrase Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life speaks to the consciousness of our being. It represents purpose and intention. We cannot truly have one, until we have first mastered (or at least practiced) the other. Without a peaceful mind, how can anyone truly have a peaceful life?
This also lends itself to the concepts of happiness and success. All three are things that we strive for daily, yet so few of us are able to adequately obtain. They are all one in the same. While many of us spend time chasing them separately, we miss the realization that each one is merely the byproduct of the other.
So in a way, it’s the simplistic complexity of their relationship that makes them all seem evasive. However, in order to acquire any of them, one must be intentional in their beliefs, words and deeds, while remaining faithful and in-line with their purpose.
PMPL: At Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life we encourage people to find their daily practice, and practice it. What are your every-day must do’s to stay balanced and centered?
QV: I believe that consistency is key, no matter what the desired result. My non-negotiables are morning meditation and a daily green juice. They set the standard for what my day is going to ultimately become, both mentally and nutritionally.
I find that I’m less likely to get irritated or make irrational decisions if I begin my day mindfully. The same way that I’m less likely to eat poorly if my day starts with a nutritional boost. I think they are both of equal importance.
PMPL: As you know, anxiety and stress are major issues for many people right now. What are your top tips for reducing anxious thoughts and managing stress?
QV: I’ve battled anxiety and clinical depression since I was 14 years old, and was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder at 27. It’s a daily battle to manage, but the one thing I realized on my journey that completely changed my relationship with it was: I accepted my worst case scenario.
Chronic anxiety is a bully. It feeds off of the fear it projects. It causes the sufferer to not only fear the attack itself, but also fear its impending return. What I’ve learned to do is adjust my reaction to it whenever it is present. Instead of running from it, I speak to it… I acknowledge it… I stand up to it, and by accepting my worst case scenario, I take away its power. What is there left to fear if I’ve already accepted my worst case?
PMPL: You often talk about your struggle with addiction. What gives you the motivation to stay on course in your sobriety?
QV: What keeps me on course in my sobriety is the fear of returning to who I used to be. So many of us look at fear as a negative thing, and it can be in many instances. But in this one specifically, I’m using fear to my advantage. I know what it feels like to not want to live anymore, to be confined to a hospital bed, to have your loved ones look at you in disappointment. But most importantly, I know how it feels to grow up with a father on drugs and I refuse to have my children experience that. My desire to give my kids better than what I had is what fuels my fight to remain sober.
PMPL: What is your best piece of advice for someone to overcome obstacles to inner peace and happiness?
QV: My best piece of advice for anyone trying to overcome obstacles related to inner peace and happiness is: if you can’t change the circumstance, change the way it affects you. Happiness is relative and obstacles are inevitable. We all experience them in some way or another. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to prevent them. However, we can change how we allow them to impact our lives.
The only thing we have dominion over is ourselves— thoughts, words and actions. It’s important to utilize that control in order to manipulate obstacles to work in our favor. Obstacles aren’t designed to prevent us from happiness, they’re designed to make us strong enough to maintain it once we get it. Anyone can find happiness, but how many of us can keep it? Once your perception changes, so does the rest of your life.
PMPL: What is your favorite inspiring quote?
QV: Wow, I have quite a few. The one that really stands out to me is, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” by Haruki Murakami. That quotes speaks to how we live our lives. We can’t avoid pain, but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer. We can either survive or really know what it’s like to live— and I choose to live.
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org