It is human nature to want to do more and tap into our passions, but many times, our lack of self-confidence, childhood upbringing, fear, and even negative self-talk can bring those ideas and healing to a screeching halt.
I know I have felt it many times. When I made the decision to start Be Kind & Co. almost four years ago, it was a really scary step for me. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did know that I was being pulled energetically to begin. Now that I am focused on writing a book, I find that my mind often tries to talk me out of it. Right when I begin to connect with my creative energy, the “monkey mind” shows up and plants seeds of doubt. Why is that? Have you experienced any of this? Have you simply given up on something you really wanted to create or begin?
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. We are thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Reef Karim. He is a transformational scientist, medical physician, and performing artist who walked away from his own booming business to focus on helping people to lead richer and more meaningful lives. We spoke with Dr. Reef Karim about how he has tapped into the world of potential and creativity, and how he can help you do the same.
Reef, what inspired you to take a new path in life professionally?
I saw how much people were struggling, even before the pandemic, with feeling stuck, stressed out, and stagnating; feeling like “there’s got to be more than this!” Then when COVID hit, I knew I was destined to help people in a new and different way than being a traditional doctor.
I have assisted people in stabilizing their lives and moving out of crisis for over twenty years (in academia, research, and treatment centers,) but I felt I could make the most difference by helping people gain access to the power of their mind, and feel more authentic and aligned with who they are. When you have hope and can envision a better future, that is when you see more meaning in your life.
As a former psychiatrist, addiction specialist, and business owner, what were your first steps to making this change?
Change doesn’t come easy. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it! We all talk about change, but not that many people are truly able to transform their lives and their minds to build more energy, passion, happiness, and meaning. Most people are content with an okay life, never realizing what they could have done if they had tapped into their creative power. Many people can’t even envision what their ideal life would look like. Envisioning is a skill you can build.
We are driven to change by either moving toward something (envisioning the ideal life we want and taking action towards building it,) or by moving away from something (not wanting to live in the pain of not maximizing our abilities, doing something we don’t like, or dreading every day that we do the same thing over and over).
For me, it was both. I suffered a lot, feeling trapped in a world of sickness, diagnosis, and medications, when instead I wanted to help people expand their minds and heal experientially by connecting to their innate abilities, originality, and creativity, being more integrative in their mind, and shifting energy away from stress and toward expanding their lives.
I know we are used to fixing problems with medications and just getting people stable and comfortable. Even if you’re healthy, your goal is probably to build a stable life. But I feel we have a limited amount of time on this planet and we are here for more than just “comfort”. There is too much conformity in this world. Too many people stop at “stable”. I want to help people find out why they’re here, what would make them feel alive, and what they could be doing if they accessed their inner abilities.
You love the performing arts and have implemented that into your new content as well with neuroscience, philosophy and psychology. How is that possible?
I wasn’t allowed to express myself in my family growing up, and I now feel the process of building your originality, exploring your mind and innate abilities, and fully expressing yourself, is such a crucial part of living a dynamic, bold, and meaningful life. When you hold back who you are, or live a life of limitation, you are more prone to feeling the effects of stress, mood instability, mental health issues, and escapist behaviors.
For me, the performing arts started as an outlet, a way to release the things I was feeling that were bottled up. I did stand up, improv, dance and I acted. I still do. But the outlet soon became a way to express myself and then it became a way to explore myself and then it became a lifestyle.
You don’t have to be a big performer to explore yourself creatively. We are all creative. It’s in our nature. We express it in different ways but some people have shut off that side of themselves or never learned how to develop it. Do you know there’s an imagination network in our minds? If you want to imagine or envision something new, differentiate yourself from other people and bring new ideas, products, companies and works of art to the world, then you have to learn to connect to your creativity. Creativity is the most unrecognized and unexpressed source of energy we have.
Does being kind in your mind and heart help with getting more creative and tapping into our passions?
Narcissism, self-absorption, and lack of empathy will always get in the way of creativity. We see creative artists who are uber-creative, overflowing with creativity, but they often self-destruct because they are disconnected from others. Either they only feel connected to themselves, or they may have success but still not feel happiness and meaning in their life. This is because they haven’t connected deeply with their heart and their mind, and they aren’t actively displaying kindness.
It takes a certain state of mind to display kindness. Some people have it naturally, while others need to learn how to do it. It may sound kind of crazy, learning to be kind, but many variables influence our ability to be kind. If we were conditioned growing up to have a survival or scarcity mindset, if we felt the need to fight for our voices to be heard, or if we felt the constant need to protect ourselves, we may have a hard time relating to other’s feelings… and so much more.
What is one tip you have for people that helped you push through the self-doubt and fear?
I had a lot of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of going against people that wanted something else for me. Fear of disappointing people – particularly my family – and fear of putting myself out there in the world, of sharing my voice.
I was torn between following my inner wisdom and intuition versus doing the stable thing that others wanted for me. I have received a lot of wisdom along the way. But one piece of wisdom that stuck with me was from Prince Krishna, the Bali prince in Ubud, who told me that “destruction can be a good thing” especially when you’re building on a faulty foundation. Destruction of certain beliefs, thoughts, and mental clutter can also free you to envision and activate the life you’ve always desired.
What is the meaning behind the Mad Genius Advantage?
In the olden days, people had specific roles; the shoemaker, the doctor, the hairstylist. And one of those roles was the crazy inventor – you know that stereotype; the kooky person with the wild hair who lives alone, and has a strange connection to lightning? Well, that person’s role was to think differently, to be a non-conformist, to differentiate, to engage in novelty thinking, to make things new or better. At that time, they were outcasts because they were always looking to build new things, against the status quo, which had a big impact.
Now, in this crowded and noisy world, where more and more people want to leave their lasting legacy and create impact and influence, these inspired people MUST think like a modern day Mad Genius. They can lose the wild hair, lightning and smoky beakers, but they need the divergent thinking, courage of differentiation and ability to explore their creative mind to generate new ideas that move the world forward.
What is the FREE virtual event you are offering and who will participants be able to hear from?
Madgeniusadvantage.com and Dr. Reef Karim have a free live virtual event taking place on Thursday and Friday, April 8th and 9th, from 9 am to 3 pm Pacific time. Special guests include world-renowned thought leaders coming together to share their wisdom. It’s a think tank of philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, creativity, and performing arts.
The line-up of creative and innovative minds is astounding. Along with host Dr. Reef Karim, Gabor Mate will discuss the forces of attachment that dictate our lives. Nonfiction author Michael Gelb will talk creativity and innovation. Dave Rabin, MD, Ph.D., will discuss the neuroscience of performance and our unconscious. Joan Rosenberg, Ph.D., will chat about stress and shame as our two biggest obstacles to high performance. Victoria LaBalme will share about embracing the unknown and unlocking genius. Harvard-trained William Li will share with us how creative thinking can solve global problems! Sachin Patel will discuss the power of our inner energy to heal ourselves. Author Yanik Silver will talk about entrepreneurship and the creative mind, and professional salsa dancer and choreographer Liz Lira will share about how our body awareness dictates our success in life.