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Ep 75 Defining Wellness – What We’ve Learned Part 1 with Alex Morrall

Special bonus episode featuring Alex Morrall, leader and host of the Twin Cities Wellness Collective. Together we share what we’ve collectively learned after years developing relationships within the local health and wellness community

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Hello. I’m Alex Stalberger. And I’m your host for today’s very special bonus episode featuring Alex morale. And I know what you’re thinking. I’m Alex he’s Alex. Yes. There is an Alec show about to happen. Alex Morel hosts, a community called the twin cities, wellness collective. And it is fascinating. The things that he’s learned throughout the years. And I thought it would be a most. Advantageous episode to bring us together and share with you what we’ve learned after years of building relationships within the local health and wellness community 

[00:01:03] Alex Stalberger: this is part one of a two part episode, so when you’re done listening to this part, you’ll head over to the Twin Cities Wellness Collective Podcast to catch part two that’s dropping in just a couple of days. Enjoy.

 We’ve been amplifying the mission of spreading what is. Wellbeing. What is wellness? How can we integrate health in our communities, in our lives? And we’ve done a lot of interviewing and interacting with different wellness practitioners and health practitioners. So I reached out to Alex and I said, Hey , let’s have a conversation.

Because over the years, Of doing this work. I’m so curious to know what you’ve learned, you know, So Alex, I’m gonna invite you, share your voice, say, Hey, . Um, I . Cool.

[00:01:53] Alex Morrall: It’s so great to be here with you, Alex. I’m really excited. And yeah, I think this is just gonna be a great collaborative conversation, kind of combining both of what we’ve learned over a lot of years of interviews.

So yeah, I’m really glad that you reached out and that we are, are finally making this happen.

[00:02:12] Alex Stalberger: Yes, Yes. I mean, at a glance, the Twin Cities Wellness Collective and well connected Twin Cities, I mean, you’ll get the words mixed up, but if you say that a hundred times fast, you know, there’s a lot of similarities.

And I think, you know, our initial gut instinct is to be like, Competitor. But truly, I’ve never seen it like that. We have so much work to do spreading this mission and really reaching more people with, with hope in the way that I see it. So I would love to kick off this conversation because I know you, Alex, you have, you have.

A history of asking every single person you have on your podcast, What does wellbeing mean to you? And I would love to hear from you just to, to orient this whole conversation today. I wanna know like, what have you learned? So let’s kick it off, like what have you learned after asking hundreds of people that question over years?

[00:03:00] Alex Morrall: Well, I, I’ve learned a lot of different things, , and I think the reason, like the reason I always ask that question is I want to know like, how are people framing up wellbeing in their mind? And I think that’s important as a starting point to actually being well, because if we don’t figure out what it means to us, we can’t really ever live a good life.

So we have to be able. Define in our own terms what a good life looks like. And if we don’t do that well, it’s gonna be hard to actually ever live a life that we are satisfied with. So we, we have to start there like defining it on our own terms. And that’s something that I just think is, is really important.

And if we don’t do that, it just doesn’t work. And do you see that in your conversations, Alex? Like with different people, like I find. People that are more successful in finding wellbeing have actually taken the time to define what wellbeing is to. I hear what you’re asking, like how do people respond when you ask that type of question, and I think the further you go in this like journey, if it’s a journey, right, the more complex people get with like the words, right, It can be hard to put an absolute finger on what exactly it means.

What I actually find is that, People have a general term for what wellbeing means to them. But when you ask that question and ask them to reflect, really reflect on it. You know, it’s so personal that it actually kind of throws them off and takes them a beat to really answer that. So it’s kinda like the surface level, right?

The surface level question. I, I’m in this, I work in this, and then you get kind of like, what does it mean to you? Like right now, what does it really. . And I know when I thought about this question too as preparing for this conversation, I mean it does, it shifts and changes a little bit when you ask like, what does it mean?

Like right now, how does it feel right now? It’s very layered. Have you ever been really surprised by somebody’s answer to that question? Yes, ? Yeah. Do tell. Can you tell me a story and. Sometimes like I’m not expecting what people say and it even catches me like off guard a little bit and I’m like, Oh, I have to go back and listen to that and think about what they said.

Cuz it’s, that’s like changes the way that I thought about, or I’m thinking about wellbeing and even something that. I had an interview recently on an episode that hasn’t even been released yet, but I suppose it will be by the time this airs. And the individual, his name is Daniel Larson, and he’s working on building a company called Cairos, which help connects individuals that are seeking or need recovery from substance abuse in some way to practitioners and peer recovery coaches.

And those sorts of things. But he was saying like a lot of times people get really individually focused on like what wellbeing is to them, or it can kind of end up being something where we’re, we’re thinking. On our own terms, but we also need to consider people in our community and when we’re thinking about wellbeing and how that fits in, because we can’t just think about like how wellbeing impacts like our own wellbeing, but we can also think about our wellbeing inside of this larger community.

Which is sort of like is hard to wrap your brain around when you start thinking about it, but I think it’s, it’s something. Is interesting once you kind of go down that road because you start to think about how you’re part of something larger than yourself. Yeah. Which is actually a pretty big indicator of whether we’re doing doing well or not.

[00:07:04] Alex Stalberger: Yeah. That collective. Health and wellbeing. That’s actually, that’s coming up quite a bit now in post pandemic conversations. I think as the understanding of wellness is becoming more and more popular, it’s in every day. Conversations people are getting, I guess, more comfortable and familiar with some of these terms that we’re talking about, but as we do, we can then get into like the next layer, which is what you’ve just described, right?

How is my wellbeing influencing my community? Or like the collective city, collective nation, global population. That’s very, very interesting to think about that. My brain goes really nerdy, cause. So much that I found fascinating and one of the best parts of my job is I’m sure you feel very similarly is like getting to know things I had no idea existed.

Like with the first time somebody described to me the heart Math institute’s research on resonance. So my being can influence another person’s being like it could be measured, like the frequencies that I emit influence your frequencies. And I was like, P exploded. And now I have lots of questions, . But yeah.

For my audience, cuz I know we are posting this episode on both of our channels, can you share a little bit about the Twin Cities Wellness Collective and like what’s been your driving force behind it? Just to give some of my audience background. 

[00:08:33] Alex Morrall: Yeah, for sure. So the Twin Cities Wellness Collective, I started it in 2016, and it’s not a business or a nonprofit.

It’s really just a, like what I would say is a grassroots community organization. And it finds inspiration from Tom Rath and Jim Harder’s book Wellbeing. The five essential elements and the elements they lay out in the book are social wellbeing, career wellbeing, physical wellbeing, financial wellbeing, and community.

Well, And they then ask of all the people that are in the study, which spanned 150 countries, well how well are they doing in these areas? And as it turns out, about only, uh, 66% were doing well in at least one of the five areas and only 7% were thriving in all five. And so the 7% kind of impacted me. I’m like, that’s not very many people.

Like how can. Help people to get to a place where they are doing well in all of these areas. So I said, Well, let’s just start like a community where people can come and they can be involved in something and we can share like all the great work that’s being done here in the Twin Cities because there’s so much good work being done that impacts at least one of those areas or multiple areas because they’re all really interconnected.

So I started inviting everybody, that I would go to coffee to with, or whatever to be a part of this. And then I started the podcast and I did that every week and would interview different members that were doing good work here and we’ve done events as well and, and that sort of thing. And it’s just kind of kept going from there.

So it’s been sort of a fun way to, to really learn. All the things that are being done here and, and there’s so much, which I’m sure you’re well aware, Alex, and I think it would be great for my audience too, to learn a little bit about well connected Twin Cities and, and some of the work that you’re doing.

[00:10:45] Alex Stalberger: Yeah. I love that. Community is central. To what you’ve built. I think as we’ve just talked briefly about community and communal wellbeing, like feeling connected, that’s so central, but well connected. Twin Cities. Yeah. I was born out of, it was really born out of a story, so co-founder Lily, Lily z Barki. She had just had her.

Born, her first form was diagnosed with a baby eczema and she spent years trying to find the right practitioner. When her primary care physician at the time suggested a steroid cream and said, Hey, this sucks. I hope this gets better. Here’s a cream. I wish you all the best, but she had. A feeling, a mom, a feeling, but a gut feeling like, Hey, there’s gotta be some other options.

I, I think there’s more here. I’m not entirely sure, but she was very motivated at that time to, to research and find out more. But what she found, Very quickly is that Google and the search engines here were not really optimized to help her search for something she didn’t know she was looking for yet. So while she was looking for natural treatments for eczema and other skin conditions, she was getting sent across the country to see practitioners.

She was getting some resources, but nothing really practical that she could do. When she finally found a practitioner, she was driving hours away for appointments every three weeks with a newborn in the car. And anybody listening that has a newborn in the car, it’s like the worst jail ever. And so she had an idea.

She’s like, I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. What if we had a public health resource that could be Twin City specific and help you look for the things you don’t know you’re looking for? Maybe you have had a recent diagnosis or maybe you’re curious about alternative or. Different ways to approach things like skin conditions, for example, or audio immune conditions.

She didn’t know then, and we very much know now after collecting hundreds of practitioners across the Twin Cities Metro, they have come together as a professional community behind the scenes at what you’d find if you go to well connected twin, that we’ve created a public health resource to help you do just that.

We’re connecting the community with the heal. With content that’s informed by the healers, all local, you know, you read or learn from somebody, you can actually go and see. And it’s our goal. Big goal is can this be brought to other cities across the nation? Because everybody deserves to know all their options.

You know, they deserve to know what’s possible and. Word of mouth referrals are really, really great, but you know, sometimes we just don’t know the right person yet. We wanted to find a solution to that, and so that’s what I get to do. So I get to outreach to so many different practitioners across the metro, introduce myself, get to know what they do.

And then either connect them with each other, cuz surprisingly, you know, it’s both a tight knit community and also not a tight knit community. There’s these little pockets of practitioners, so we help connect them with each other and inspire collaborations so that they can be presenting the best information to the community so that way every single person gets a chance to Google something and have something relevant show up, or have a safe place where they.

Floor and ask questions because the future of health is integrative. We think about health and wellbeing. We’re no longer thinking about health as a siloed. I go to the doctor. The doctor tells me, and then I go home and I do what the doctor says. I mean, that’s an antiquated approach. What’s coming to the future is an empowered version of healthcare where I’m a partner in my own health and wellbeing, and I, I value.

Experience of my practitioner when they’re a partner in my health, because every single version of body and approach and lifestyle, everything is so unique and different. It requires a tailored and unique approach, but we have to learn that as a community, right? We have to. Unlearn that there’s only one answer and relearn that we actually have a responsibility and that’s, that’s a sticky spot.

right responsibility is kind of scary, but that’s what well connected Twin Cities is here to do. So we have our online resource as well as we’ve put together in, in person live. So you can either hear and learn from practitioners or even experience something that maybe you haven’t tried before. All really to get us to walk through that threshold, right?

There’s a lot of possibility if we choose to accept it, and not everything’s gonna be right for every person, but at least no one’s available and it’s there. So that’s what I get really passionate about and my background as a health coach, my brain gets really excited about behavior change, right? Cuz there’s so much that that keeps us stuck where we are.

And it’s just really fascinating to be able to apply that in this like tech world. I guess I, it was like a health coach that happened to find herself as like a website design, like, 

[00:15:51] Alex Morrall: I think that’s so cool. Alex, I, and I, I just, I really like how well connected Twin Cities is benefiting all the stakeholders involved because not only is it good for consumers and people looking to advance their own health and looking for practitioners that might approach something in a different way, but it’s also beneficial for the practitioners and you’re, you’re even creating.

A community for them or a space where they can interact. And you’re acknowledging that like healthcare is so integrative now, which is something that just, I think we need to embrace more because we’re just so nuanced as, as humans. Like there’s so many different things that go into helping us feel good.

So I really like that you’re. Coming at it from that angle. And I know we talked about this before and I want to dig into it a little bit more, but you mentioned like the idea of taking responsibility for your health and how that can be scary and can you just like share a little bit more about that cuz that, that’s just an interesting concept to me.

[00:17:04] Alex Stalberger: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So I’m putting my coach chat on for a second As a behavior change. For, we have to understand a few things about motivation. So when we, if we were to accept control for our situation, we have to accept both outcomes that will be successful or we will fail so often. Our body, right and our mind.

They’re designed for self-preservation. It’s designed to keep us safe. It’s designed to keep us from any hurt, and there are parts of your brain that cannot distinguish physical hurt from emotional hurt and failure hurts a lot. So knowing that about just basic human existence, the idea of taking responsibility for anything can be really scary because there’s.

That unknown or potential for failure and the potential for success. So think about, I like to think about this for a moment. If you’ve lived your life with a chronic condition, that somehow you’ve built an identity around. I often think, okay, let’s just take weight change, for example. So say you’ve lived your life as an obese person and you would love to be able to drop that weight, but you’ve lived your whole life up into this point.

Identifying with your, your closet reflects who you’ve been your whole life. Um, you’re, there’s people around you that identify you as looking a certain way. If you decided and you were able to change the way that. Eight and doing social connections, right? You became healthier and your body felt safe enough to release that weight and you started to change physically.

That success is terrifying because you have to then interact with people who are identifying differently. You identify differently. You don’t recognize that person in the mirror. If. Feels different. Everything is different. And while that might be lovely, and maybe that’s your end goal, the reality of accepting that change is terrifying because like your whole life, your comfort has been like your home base has been in a certain body.

So I just think about anytime we, we look for change, whether it’s a healthful change or a change like moving a city, right? That could be just change, I guess. We have to accept the possibility of a different outcome and our brains don’t know what to do with that. It’s scary. So like when we think about giving, coming back to this idea of healthcare and the old model of, I have a doctor, I go to the doctor, they tell me.

What my diagnosis is, they make a recommendation. Then I do my best to do it. If I give away my power to that physician, they give me a diagnosis that that’s them giving that to me. I accept it. And now if I do what they say and I still don’t feel better, that’s on them. Right. That’s not on me. The doctor told me to do this and it’s not working for me.

That diagnosis must be wrong or whatever that is. I don’t own responsibility. I’ve given that power away. This future of accepting. That power and responsibility of our own wellbeing requires me to say, Do I accept that diagnosis? Do I believe that that’s true for me? And am I ready to, to do something different?

Like I’m bringing back the power, right? I’m choosing to say, yes, I’m choosing to do things differently. Now, if that doesn’t work, then who is it on? Well then it’s on me. And I don’t like to feel failure. That failure hurts emotionally, that’s uncomfortable and I don’t wanna deal with it. And so we say like, Oh, empowered wellbeing, it’s a great thing.

And it is a really great thing, and it’s also a heavier thing. And so as a society, I think it’s important to remember that taking and making the shift toward an empower. While being our empowered culture, we have to be ready to be a support to our fellow community members because it’s really so much harder to take responsibility for the way our life feels and the way we feel in our bodies and in our lives, versus being able to blame somebody else.

[00:20:58] Alex Morrall: Yeah. I really like the way that you described that. And I also liked how at the end you’re talking about support and how like we as a culture need to cultivate supporting one another more. Mm-hmm. . And I think that that’s something that really needs to be continued to be developed. But I also think it hearkens back to what we were talking about with wellbeing and.

Communally focused. It is because if we have strong communities like you and I are both trying to facilitate in some way, then that can help us to support one another better. And that’s something that I, I always sort of like have strived for a little bit. It is creating. Community. Um, and I think that’s such an important part of like who we are as human beings is to have that like communal space that we can be a part of.

[00:21:55] Alex Stalberger: Yeah.

Don’t worry. There’s more to come head over to the twin cities, wellness, collective podcast to catch part two of this great conversation. 

And don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss the great things that Alex morale keeps putting out on his podcast. Twin cities, wellness, collective. 


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