An at­ti­tude for grat­i­tude

Graphic de­signer Nicky Perry uses beau­ti­ful sta­tionery to pro­mote men­tal well­ness

Nadia - - CONTENTS - AWESOMEENDSIN.ME

De­sign­ing a jour­nal to bring more hap­pi­ness into peo­ple’s lives in­spired a lifestyle blog­ger to cre­ate Awe­some Inc and turn her hobby into a brand

Nicky Perry was run­ning a lifestyle blog when she hit on the idea of mak­ing a grat­i­tude jour­nal. Her friend and busi­ness part­ner, Re­bekah (Bex) Lipp, had ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal health is­sues and had used such a jour­nal for years, yet felt guilty when she missed fill­ing in a day. The de­sign Nicky con­ceived has no dates, a hap­pi­ness scale to track moods, space for af­fir­ma­tions, and colour­ing-in pages to cap­ture the trend to­wards mind­ful­ness.

Why do you think it’s im­por­tant to be grate­ful?

There are hun­dreds of stud­ies which show that prac­tis­ing grat­i­tude in­creases pos­i­tive emo­tions, re­duces the risk of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, im­proves re­la­tion­ship sat­is­fac­tion, and in­creases re­silience in the face of stress­ful events.

It strength­ens the neu­ral path­ways in your brain so it be­comes eas­ier and more nat­u­ral to find the pos­i­tives. The more you fo­cus on the good stuff, the more you see the good stuff, and in turn ap­pre­ci­ate the lit­tle joys in ev­ery­day life that we of­ten take for granted.

Have you al­ways kept a jour­nal?

I’ve al­ways kept sketch­books rather than jour­nals. I’m a vis­ual per­son and like beau­ti­ful con­tem­po­rary sta­tionery, so the grat­i­tude diaries I’d pre­vi­ously come across seemed very hip­pie-like. That’s one rea­son why I didn’t want to put ‘Grat­i­tude Jour­nal’ on the front of my de­signs.

As for prac­tis­ing grat­i­tude, I’d been do­ing it in an­other way for a long time. My hus­band and I of­ten ask our kids around the din­ner ta­ble, “What was some­thing awe­some that hap­pened to­day?” or “Tell me two things that made you happy to­day.” With­out re­al­is­ing it, I was al­ready do­ing it.

Who de­signs the jour­nals?

Me! I ma­jored in graphic de­sign at univer­sity and have a de­gree in fine arts, and 20-plus years work­ing as a graphic de­signer. I love cre­at­ing things and find it so sat­is­fy­ing see­ing a project come to­gether – es­pe­cially when I get feed­back from peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence such a pos­i­tive change in their out­look on life, or see dis­tinct changes in their chil­dren.

You re­cently won Next mag­a­zine’s Her Own Boss award. What has made Awe­some Inc’s prod­ucts so suc­cess­ful?

Bring­ing science and re­search into the busi­ness has helped im­mensely. It has helped to show that [the ben­e­fits are] au­then­tic; it’s not just an­other fad.

I also work with pro­fes­sion­als who are ex­perts in the fields of build­ing re­silience, mind­ful­ness and nu­tri­tion. So al­though grat­i­tude jour­nals are the core prod­uct, there is a heap of in­for­ma­tion

on the web­site geared around prac­ti­cal re­sources with tools and tips on how to cre­ate a hap­pier life.

I think an­other rea­son for our suc­cess is that we’re so pas­sion­ate about our ‘why’ – be­cause of Bex’s per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, and my own dis­cov­er­ies. The more I learn from all the in­for­ma­tion I’m ab­sorb­ing, the more I want to share that with oth­ers and reach peo­ple be­fore they are in cri­sis.

Ad­ven­ture fea­tures strongly in this is­sue of NADIA. How im­por­tant is it to you to keep push­ing the bound­aries in both life and busi­ness?

I am not a nat­u­ral risk-taker but I feel every day that I am push­ing the bound­aries in what I think I can do and what can be achieved. Every cou­ple of months I sit back and go, “Wow! Look how far I have come!”

I re­cently made the de­ci­sion to buy Bex out of her half of Awe­some Inc be­cause she wanted to take a step back to spend more time with her fam­ily. It was a scary de­ci­sion for both of us, and I had to do a lot of soul-search­ing. I was sud­denly faced with in­vest­ing a lot more than I had planned – time, en­ergy and money.

So this is my ad­ven­ture! I’ve got a lot more to lose now it’s all on me, but I also have a lot more to gain if I can make my dreams hap­pen.

Where to next for the com­pany?

Cur­rently the hero prod­ucts are the grat­i­tude jour­nals for kids and adults, but I also have re­silience train­ing avail­able, in the form of an on­line e-course called The Re­silience Toolkit. This was writ­ten for Awe­some Inc by ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist Juliet Bat­tersby, who has taught re­silience in the New Zealand De­fence Force.

Grat­i­tude is just one tool in the re­silience-build­ing toolkit and I am work­ing hard on col­lab­o­rat­ing with oth­ers on things like healthy nu­tri­tion and sleep habits, ex­er­cise, med­i­ta­tion, mind­ful­ness and mind­set, to ex­pand what I have avail­able and also hold more events and work­shops.

What are your per­sonal goals?

I would love to be­come a leader in bring­ing re­silience-build­ing tools to all New Zealan­ders and Aus­tralians, in­clud­ing into schools and or­gan­i­sa­tions. It is great that the con­ver­sa­tion is chang­ing around men­tal health but peo­ple just don’t know where to go for help un­less they are in cri­sis, and even then men­tal health ser­vices are un­der so much pres­sure.

I want Awe­some Inc to be the place where peo­ple go to make pos­i­tive change and ac­cess tools, tech­niques and re­sources BE­FORE they are at cri­sis point.

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