Every time we interview Meaghan Murphy, her commitment to finding the “Yay” in the everyday is contagious. Her Instagram is also like a shot of sunshine, full of ideas and strategies to find joy, from workouts to mind shifts. She’s also a super fun mom to three adorable kids. Recently, though, she battled COVID and managed to stay positive seemingly throughout, and if that isn’t proof that she might be on to something, we don’t know what is. Her new book, Your Fully Charged Life: A Radically Simple Approach to Having Endless Energy and Filling Every Day with Yay, outlines what she’s learned doing research over the course of her career as a magazine editor, and how she has used that information to transformation her mindset—and you can, too. Here’s our conversation with Meaghan, with some details on this amazing book.
What was your “aha” moment when you thought—this could be a book?
I don’t really have aha moments, I’m so not Oprah. Ha! But I can pinpoint a time when it became crystal clear what I wanted my legacy to be. My father was battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and I joined him at chemotherapy one day. I had picked up lunch at Panera and sat next to him in that faux leather recliner while the nurses popped in and out of our “chemo cubicle” to check his blood pressure, temp and blood cell counts, while he was pumped with a chemical cocktail. It was bittersweet. We both knew this time was precious and fleeting and in those moments Pop said to me: Don’t be so negative. I can’t remember what I said to elicit that response; I only remember trying to be present, realistic and accepting of the situation. I do remember his remark hitting me like a truck. I wasn’t a negative person! That’s not me! He needed the Fully Charged Miss Meags more than ever, and it took him saying that for me to realize I did, too. His comment helped me see that even though the future looked bleak for him, and for me without him, there were still good things in the world and positivity to be had and I was going to write a book about it all!
Love that. So what does a “Fully Charged” life mean to you? And what does it not mean?
Living Fully Charged means you’re operating with a full flow of mental and physical energy that lets you experience joy, love, gratitude and other positive emotions deeply and daily, as well as create meaningful, rewarding and uplifting experiences, opportunities and relationships. There’s a fancy-brunch-level YAY buffet out there—social distancing has NOT canceled this spread!—and living Fully Charged helps you fill your plate with as much deliciousness as possible.
And in order to truly live this way, you can’t just look on the bright side. You have to take off any rose-colored glasses and see ALL the sides. Yes, life can be excruciatingly hard and often unfair, but with a Fully Charged toolkit, you’ll also learn to handle the hard stuff with grace.
What is The Love Charge — and how have you stayed connected during the pandemic?
The Love Charge is the current of positive energy that’s unleashed from looking at every interaction as an opportunity to form a connection or strengthen a bond, to see and be seen, to share your humanity with another person and register theirs. When we seize these opportunities to go above and beyond the bare minimum of what’s required, what’s expected or what we usually do—even just once in a while and even just a little bit—something special happens. Those everyday interactions take on more meaning and unleash a current of positive energy. It gives those we interact with a charge and it has a profoundly uplifting effect on our own energy and lives. We come away feeling happier, stronger, more energized, motivated, hopeful, calm and loved. That’s the Love Charge—the energy you get from meaningful interactions, connections and relationships.
During the pandemic, I missed these opportunities the most—the sunny good morning from my regular train conductor; pleasantries with the barista who always knew my order; a quick catch-up at Shoprite with Ed my favorite cashier. I now find myself sitting on the front porch waiting for Anthony the UPS man to bring by a package and chitchat. One of my favorite happiness researchers Martin Seligman, PhD nailed it: “Other people are the best antidote to the downs of life and the most reliable up.” Truth!
Why is Being “Fully Charged” so incredibly important as a mom? And even more crucial now?
Happy mom; happy kids! But let’s be real: It’s NEVER been harder. (I definitely did NOT want to add teacher to my resume.) Thankfully, this is when the Fully Charged toolkit helps the most. I know that I can do a few of the things that recharge me—make my bed, buy myself flowers, organize the junk drawer, hop on the Peloton for 30 minutes—and suddenly I’m more equipped to Mom. After reading the book, you’ll ID a few of these science-proven ways to do the same for yourself.
Sounds great. Okay, so you started a new job just as COVID hit. Congrats! How did you stay focused on work during such a crazy time?
Yes! I was named Editor in Chief of Woman’s Day in March just days before the lockdown. I never even moved out of my Good Housekeeping office! I met my new team virtually and reinvented the magazine from my kitchen table. Frankly, work is the best distraction!
Recently, you battled COVID. What tools from your book did you use to stay positive during your recovery?
I was the “COVID Crazy” mom who said no to everything in a paranoid attempt to keep my family safe. Well, that backfired and my husband, my 3 kids, my 70-year-old mom and I all got taken down by COVID. It was a brutal 16-day recovery that put my toolkit to the test! First, I had to allow myself a moment to be angry and afraid. (I’m asthmatic with a history of pneumonia!) But only a moment! Then, I needed to change my thinking from “Why us?” to “Why NOT us?” That opened me up to the possibility that our struggle had meaning. Maybe we got this because it was important to destigmatize that Scarlett C for other families? Maybe we got this because I needed to make sure my followers on Instagram had a recovery roadmap with everything from a vitamin regimen to sleep help. Having purpose fueled me to take more and more positive actions as we inched toward wellness.
What was the hardest part of COVID for you?
The toughest part is the unknown. I found that the second we tested positive there was no help, no information. I couldn’t get my primary care doc to call me back. Luckily, I had the amazing Dr. Darria on my Off the Gram podcast for an episode on COVID and I immediately reached out to her to help me and my family navigate this. I now call her my COVID angel! The timing was also pretty sucky for me—3 weeks before my book launch. I had to cancel my initial audiobook recording and there was talk of bringing in a narrator to read for me. That crushed my soul and fueled me to get through it. I made it to the studio JUST in time and so it will be me on the audiobook. YAY!
Amazing! What’s one thing you hope every single person you reads your book takes away from it?
You’re not broken. I’m not going to fix you. Living Fully Charged is not a life overhaul. BUT, I bet one tip, trick or strategy will stick with you and help make tomorrow a little more awesome—and you DESERVE that.
And do you ever have a “bad” day anymore?
I have sh*tty days just like everyone else. The difference is that I don’t let them defeat or define me. We can’t always control what happens in our day, but we can ALWAYS control our reaction. Learning to positively manage those reactions is part of the secret sauce of Your Fully Charged Life.
This article originally appeared on The Local Moms Network