We recently met Dr. Deepika Chopra when she joined us for a Facebook and Instagram LIVE. As our Chief Artistic Officer, Christy Coleman, gave her a smoky eye and a bold lip, Dr. Chopra shared a bit about her career—which happens to be one of the more intriguing job titles we’ve ever heard of: Optimism Doctor. We thought, what better time to become a little more optimistic than a new year? So, we sat down with her to learn what “Optimism Doctor” actually means, her tips for starting and sticking with rituals, and advice for how to stay optimistic in not-so-optimistic times.
So, what exactly is an optimism doctor?
I get asked this all the time. People haven’t really heard of the term or title—well, because I made it up! I have a doctorate in clinical psychology and I have been studying and researching happiness, optimism, and visual imagery for the past decade or so. I got sick of explaining the manner in which I practiced by always having to clarify that: “I don’t work as a traditional psychologist and we are going to be focusing on things that make you happy like your goals and motivations, as well as how to manifest more of that in your current life from an evidence-based perspective.” It was a mouthful, so I started shortening it and saying I am an “Optimism Doctor.” And then I realized that is exactly what I do— I help people understand how optimistic they truly are and what that exactly means to them, and how we can elevate that even more and help people live a life more congruent to their highest potential and dreams. I went to trademark it and that is now my self-given title, and I can’t think of any other title that better explains the kind of work I do! Now I am Dr. Deepika Chopra, Optimism DoctorTM! If something doesn’t exist that you are passionate about, you can totally create it.
Tell us about your background and how you decided to make optimism your focus.
I actually came about where I am today through a very non-linear route, and it started, believe it or not, with investment banking straight out of undergrad. From there, I went into the public health sector and realized I really wanted to make a difference and make some sort of change. Although I was working on the mergers and acquisitions side, it was with a company that was helping to solve a health epidemic at the time. While I did find passion in that, it wasn’t until I attended a corporate retreat with an organizational psychologist who was working on our leadership that things really started to click!
I quit my job on a Monday and, somewhat on a whim, I followed my heart to Japan two days later and went for some cliché-sounding—but seriously magical—soul searching in the Japanese countryside. I stayed for about a month and a half, and when I returned, I knocked on every single door at UCLA Neuro Psychiatric Institute just to be given the opportunity to volunteer. With some persistence I found two leads—one that was more research-based and one with a more clinical focus. I took both, and after a few months, I applied to the graduate degree program.
I ended up completing my doctorate and two post-doctoral fellowships at UCLA and Cedars Sinai Medical Center—and was blessed with incredible mentors and supervisors who were very open to my pursuing this somewhat new and innovative holistic and positive-based psychology practice. I was frustrated and felt limited by the traditional theoretical perspectives in the psychology field, and I was really eager to help people make real, measurable change. I wanted to find a way I could help people help themselves by giving them tangible, self-reliable tools and skills. At the time, words like optimism, happiness, future-directed thinking, and visual imagery were not necessarily as widely used or welcomed as they are becoming now, and I was lucky enough to be doing all of that with so many wonderful patients.
What’s a first step towards more optimism in 2019?
I am very into the idea and practice of rituals these days. When I uncover something new in my own life, it really spreads all the way through to my professional life and practice. My whole focus, personally and professionally with my clients, is all about developing feel-good rituals that are attached to bigger core values and goals. This is my focus for 2019!
What morning ritual sets you up for a happier day?
I actually didn’t realize I had such a set morning ritual until I started helping clients come up with happy, healthy daily rituals, and investigated what I do during my day. Ever since I can remember, I recite the same Sanskrit mantra every morning in the shower when I wash my face. This really helps ground me and sets the tone for my day ahead. On the weekends, my husband, son, and I stream the Beach Boys radio on Spotify or Apple Music while making breakfast, and then we take a walk to get freshly baked almond flour banana sweetened donuts from our local “healthy” donut shop! Then, every evening, my son and I take a walk to “find the moon”. He has been obsessed with the moon for so many months now. In fact, “moon” was his second word! It has become a ritual that I really look forward to. Just as my morning rituals map out my entire day, this closing ritual really brings me a sense of gratitude and happiness, a perfect way to end the day!
So beauty regimens count as optimism-boosting practices?
Absolutely! If they make you feel good, they are wonderful potential optimism-boosting practices!
What are your tips for sticking to a ritual?
When creating a ritual, choose something that is doable every day, no matter where you are, and choose something that coincides with a larger core value. Also, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes on the weekends my morning ritual is much longer and includes a lot more self-care. Once every few weeks, I like to have a spa day at home where I really indulge in trying out fun skin-care products and get to mindfully relax into my beauty routine. But my everyday morning ritual literally consists of just one thing—that simple face-washing, mantra-reciting, quick but powerful experience in the shower.
How do you stay optimistic during the times that don’t feel very optimistic?
This is such a great question. I think it might be the question I am asked most during talks or workshops. I mean, we live in a world where, every day, horrible things are happening all around us, and I am sure this is a combination of awful injustices actually increasing and our quick and easy ability to access all the information. People always ask me if they should stop watching the news. And I have heard of a lot of people prescribing this as a way to deal with our current climate—but, I actually disagree. I don’t think that turning away from what is going on is helpful or the right thing to do. I do believe, however, that we do not spend nearly enough time surrounding ourselves with the amazing, great, super incredible, happy things happening all around us. So, I usually advise my clients to actively make an effort to seek out positive news and give light to the things that are going well in their lives or those around them!
How has motherhood shifted your perspective on optimism?
I have a one-and-a-half-year-old son named Jag Scott. To say motherhood has changed my perspective and life is an understatement. Becoming a mother has shifted my perspective entirely. I have a tough time recalling any aspect of my life pre-Jag. I feel a sort of kindred connection to other women in a way I did not before. And although I have always had the utmost respect for my own mum, since becoming a mother, this affection and adoration has grown tenfold.
Motherhood has without a doubt humbled me, stretched me, schooled me, and taken me beyond any and all limits I thought I had. It has really taught me the invaluable lesson of loving and letting go and holding on so tightly all at once! Motherhood has also taught me the art of prioritizing, multi-tasking, and the power of saying no. Even though I am an Optimism Doctor and help people work on their anxiety and worries, motherhood has certainly increased my anxiety and fears, and given me many areas of personal growth to tackle.
Say someone has a dream or goal for the year—any tips on how to make it a reality?
Yes! Small, measurable steps are the best kind of steps…and reach out to me—we will work on them together!
Lastly, what are your favorite Beautycounter products?
I love the Satin Powder Blush in Date, the Color Outline Eye Pencil in Black, the One-Step Makeup Remover Wipes, and the brand-new Necessary Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette I just got. I’m also super excited to try some of the skin care and charcoal sets!