"How to Be Happy, Dammit" with Karen Salmansohn
In this episode, Molly hosts an interview with Karen Salmansohn, a multi-best-selling author and personal development authority. Molly expresses excitement about sharing Salmansohn’s insights with her audience. The conversation touches on Salmansohn’s journey, including her transition from working in New York’s top advertising agencies to becoming a passionate writer and designer. Salmansohn’s book “How to Be Happy, Dammit” is highlighted, along with her emphasis on combining visual design with valuable content to make self-improvement more engaging. Molly introduces Salmansohn’s course on anxiety, discussing its relevance to those using alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress. The episode delves into the intertwined topics of emotional eating, addiction, and self-soothing strategies. Molly emphasizes the value of combining science, humor, and visual design to make educational content more accessible.
Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from a kind of gray, cloudy, looking a little foggy, Oregon this morning. But it’s spring. It was beautiful out earlier this week. And it really made me think Oh, spring is on the horizon. I’m just so looking forward to it. Today on the podcast, I am so excited to share a conversation I had with a multi best selling author, course creator and someone who is really an authority and become a teacher in terms of personal development. Her name is Karen salmson. And I found her and I’m going to share in the show a little bit about how I found her But Karen just to give you from her her bio it says for over 25 years Ken salmson has been a multi best selling author with 2 million books sold globally. Plus, she’s the founder of a popular Personal Development website called Not salmon.com. Karen began her career working in New York top advertising agencies. She went on to quit and become passionate about using her skills as a writer and designer to author books and screenplays. And like I said goes on and on. And then how to be happy dammit, which is the book that I read first and really became most familiar with her about became an instant best seller and has sold over 350,000 copies. It’s been recommended on Oprah and on psychology today. And it was even featured in a documentary from Eminem called the emotional life. So this book and just her work. She’s just led pretty interesting. Like I said, it was a very extraordinary life. She told me it’s a zigzagging life. And I love her zigs and zags, and I can’t wait for you to hear from her. Here is my conversation with Karen salmson. Good morning, Karen, thank you so much for being here on the alcohol minimalist podcast. I am just thrilled to get to talk to you and I can’t wait to share your work with my audience. So thanks for being here. Thanks for inviting me. I’m delighted to be here. I love everything you’re doing. I think it’s fabulous. Thank you so much. Well, I told you I wanted to share just a little bit about how I found your work and I given a brief introduction of you and of all of a lot of stuff that you’ve been doing over the last 2030 years but when I was actually what I was doing I was actually i told you i i thought it was doing it for my group but realized after the fact I had been researching for a friend and looking for something to share with her and I was looking for something actually a visual something that I could send to her via text she lived I’m in Arizona, so she’s not here with me. And so I wanted to send her something she was having a particularly tough, stressful, anxious time. And I was, you know, literally googling on the internet looking for something. And I came across a tool of yours, a visual for a grounding tool for anxiety. And I shared it with her. But I saw of course, because this is by design, the not Sam and.com in it. And so that took me down the rabbit hole of leading to your website. And then I found your, your all of your stuff, and your books and your E courses and all of the renowned people that you’ve worked with. And I was like, How have I not heard about her before this, I feel like I’m living under a rock. That’s literally you know, and I’ve had that happen before. But this was one of those just like, boom moments. And the more I went through everything, the more I felt like, wow, this is just I’m very aligned with everything that I’m seeing here, bought the book, how to be happy, damn it, and was like, I love this. I love this for so many reasons. I love the message. I love the visuals. And I was like, this is just I’m really fascinated. And so I was like, How can I get her on the podcast? And so, went started going figuring all that out. And so now, here you are. And I’m just so thrilled. So I like I said, I gave a brief introduction into the intro coming into this, but I would love to hear it from your perspectives. Tell my audience a little bit about Karen salmson and not salmon and how you came to be what you’re doing because it’s a pretty extraordinary journey. Yeah, if zigzag occurs, but I call it and well, well first of all, my name. My website is not salmon because my last name is Sal man son. And everybody mangles it and says salmons always going not salmon non salmon. And I figured, if I wanted people to find me on the internet, and they had, they had to rely on spelling salmson, which not only has no Monroe, but has an H thrown in there some way. My son who’s now 11, when he was in kindergarten, the teachers were teaching him how to spell his name. And they were teaching him to spell his name wrong. Oh, perfect without paying. So, anyway, so that’s how I came to be not salmon, not salmon.com. So and then how I got to do what I do, um, well, I always loved drawing and design and writing, even as a little kid. I was like, up in my room in a journal and writing and drawing. So that’s always been like a big part of me. And then I went off to college, and I studied, I’m really going back far. No, no, I want you to Yeah, absolutely. But it does all make sense. It’s sort of like, Oh, okay. And then I went to school, and I was a film major philosophy minor. I always loved philosophy too, which does show up in my work. And then I went into advertising, because that seemed to be like a way to make money doing something creative. Oh, and I also love psychology, too. So I started off in advertising, and I was doing very well. I was rising up very quickly. I got like what’s called a Clio, like, my first year in the business and being an advertising ilk. myself. I am very familiar with Clio, so yeah, yes, yes. So um, and then so I was doing well, but I wasn’t happy because it was very backstabbing and political and I used to joke that you couldn’t drink a glass of water without it spurting out the knife holes in your back because there were so many backstabbers there and then they’re also workaholics. So they would say we had a joke about one of our bosses that if you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Sunday. Well, yeah, to work weekends, like all weekend, you know, so I thought, you know, I’m doing well, I guess rose up, I was a senior VP, Creative Director and my 20s I thought, you know, I’m doing well, it’s something I don’t want to do. Maybe I just apply the same like Zen of like, whatever I’m doing. And I could become a writer, you know, and I was young enough and idealistic enough, and also had more room for risk being younger and by doing so, I told my parents I was going to quit and become a writer. And that to them was like, Mom, Dad, I’m gonna become a Harry Krishna. They were like, what, you know, they were not happy about it. So I kept threatening to quit. They kept talking me out of it. And so finally I quit and didn’t tell them for a little bit and, and then I told them, and everything has worked out thankfully. So and then I wrote my first book, which was a novel, and then I was writing TV stuff and all of this and but I was reading self help books. And I would rip off the cover because I’d be ashamed to reading or to be reading a self help book, I didn’t want to be seen reading them. And then I would also want to recommend them to people. And I felt like I was insulting them, like, you know, here, you need help book, you know, right. So the marketing minded me, but you know what there should be self help for people wouldn’t be caught dead doing self help, or self help that you can give to a friend as a gift, and they’re not going to punch you because it looks kind of cool. Right? So, um, I came up with that idea. And then I came up with the idea for how to be happy Damn it, which was my first book in that genre, or whatever you want to call it. And, and I brought in a designer, and I creative directed it with them, because that was my background as a creative director. And, and then that book came out and it was, became a big bestseller. Like, yeah, like, like, 350,000 copies later. Yeah, seller. Yeah. And it was nowadays it’s so funny, because I had damage and the title. And nowadays, there’s so many curse words and titles, right? Damn, it looks tame, right. But I was like one of the first put a curse word in a book title. So that’s why we have to take a pause here for a second, because my audience you’re gonna hear Karen has just become a part of life in the realm of dual pet ownership. And so you might be able to hear her kitten who’s back there, I can hear her just a little bit, she’s making a little bit of noise. And then the puppy is also down here by Karen’s feet, who’s being pretty quiet, but chewing on something to hound about. And so we’ve got this cacophony of dual pets coming back behind you, which is I love is just real life. So there you have it, folks, you know, these, when we do real life recordings, whether they be with, you know, best selling authors, award winning designers, their lives are going on behind them, so their new pet, so they’re, they’re not fully used to write this situation right now. Right? So they’re just getting used to it all. And like I said, I just love that. So anyway, sorry, to sorry, to digress off of the topic at hand. But yes, let’s talk about so that’s really the way that I first, you know, really got dove deeper into your stuff was, how to be happy, dammit. And what a great, phenomenal book. And I know you what I love about it. And what we’ve kind of what I’ve shared with you is just, you have a way of sharing information, both that’s authoritative. There’s science in there, which I appreciate, because I share a lot of science here on the podcast. So your books, your courses, have a lot of a lot of information and evidentiary based, it’s, you know, research and things that people can really apply in their lives. And it’s important because it’s not just all woowoo, right? Because I think people can get mistaken by looking at a book like how to be happy, dammit, and think, oh, it’s all just kind of feel good. You know, prettiness because it’s very visually appealing as well. But what I appreciate about your work is there’s there’s science there too. Yeah, um, and I really like science. And I really I love neuroscience science of all kinds psychology. I’m kind of like a research geek. Yeah, I need to. Yeah, I know, which is why I’m so happy to be here. I feel like good spirits, for sure. And I think that one of the things I can do is I can read what some people would find, like boring or dry or dense stuff. And then I kind of write it up with humor. And then I also say, a spoonful of eye candy helps this self help medicine go down, I put in the design and the images and I kind of make it feel fun to read. Like you get tricked into reading something that’s good for you. Well, it’s true. And you know what, I just thought about this as you were saying that, but honestly, since you started doing all this work since you started when you wrote how to be happy, dammit. I mean, really, the internet has just grown and grown and grown and taken off and social media has taken off, and people sharing and resharing memes and images, right? So positive motivational quotes, that be kind of came a thing, right? You’re absolutely spot on in the fact that it does. I mean, for me an appealing image is something that makes the you know, the message even more powerful and more meaningful to me, and I can see a whole bunch of different ones but the ones that have the most stick to itiveness In my life tend to be the ones that have a really nice, you know, have a good visual design as well. Yeah, I think change is scary. So when you invite somebody to read a book that’s about like changing habits, changing thought patterns, you lower some of like the stress level and if it if it’s fun, and in fact I gave a TED talk on fun is a high performance fuel that studies show that people learn better when something’s fun. And flashcards are like a just a quick example like fun. Flashcards help people to remember. And in some ways, I’m doing a little of that inside my books with the images and the words and stuff like that. Yeah, I can see that as well. Yeah, absolutely. You’ve written how many books like love, like 40 Plus? Oh, I actually. I mean, some of them are clunkers. So yeah, I don’t. But including the clunkers like 50 books. Yeah. Wow. But yeah, cuz I’m like, I’m up there. I’m like, I’ve been doing this for like, 30, maybe 40. Year, I don’t know how many years I try not to think about it. And some of them are little like I’ve done like board books for for babies, and like, short books and humor books that are shorter. So they’re not like all some of them are very full of, you know, their real book, like their text. And some of them are a little bit more fun and slim volumes. That’s how I also got up to that number of bucks. Yeah. So in addition to how to be happy, dammit, bounce back is probably the another one that would be really relevant to Yeah, sessions that I have with people. And tell me about that, in that book in that journey. Well, that’s a book filled with resiliency, psychology tools. And I’m just going through a really hard time where a lot of things are happening all at once. I mean, I joke that I was like, ready for like a reality TV camera crew to pop out behind the planter in my living room and say, surprise, you were pumped, like, you know, like so many things all at once. It was, you know, I was sexually assaulted by somebody in my building, my father passed away, you know, and a bunch of other minor things too. But those two were like, and so I, I turned pain into purpose, it helps that I’m a writer. So I thought to myself, I want to write a book. I want somebody to pay me to write a book. While I research everything I need right now. I desperately need these tools. So I got the book deal. I pitched it to an editor. And it had originally had a rubber red rubber cover on the front like, right, it’s this it’s a balanced spec book. And it has a rubber cover I said to the editor and she’s like, Okay, let’s do it. So but now they sell it with a rubber cover. But and then I just read all of this stuff that people can do to bounce back from adversity. And then that was was loved by Psychology Today. And they made me there bounce back columnists, their resiliency psychology at their site. Yeah, just amazing. And everybody, I will link everything in the show notes. So you can find these books very easily. And obviously fine, not Sam and.com, too. So you can see one of the things I really appreciate about your work there. And I’ve shared that with you as you really are a giver. You were very gracious, especially with your art talent, which I just so appreciate because all of those so many of your motivational messages that you’ve created art with you share for people to reshare on their own social media. So tell us about what was the inspiration behind that was why do that? Um, well, I first of all, I love creating those I call them posters and virtual posters or whatever. So with quotes and design and I mean, I do that to relax quite frankly. Yeah, right. And love starting my day like creating one that’s like my mental yo yoga or creative yoga for myself, like, you know, and then I I love sharing them first of all, why not? I created it. So why not let it go out there. And it’s so interesting to see where it shows up and how far and around the world and people tell me like even the call map was using some of my posters inside their app, you know, saying somebody wrote me and and then on top of that, quite frankly, it’s a way to have people find me Yeah, right because it works because I did. Yeah. Hey everyone, just a quick break here in the show to talk with you about Sunnyside. Sunnyside has partnered with me and I am super excited to share this company with you. I’ve actually had The Founders on the show before and I will link that in the show notes so you can hear a little bit from them. Sunnyside is an app that helps you cut back on your drinking or simply build healthier drinking habits. I have watched the company grow over this last year and I’m so impressed. They are deeply mission driven. And they are building a service to help millions of people create a healthier relationship with alcohol. And they’re doing it without the pressure to quit or feel guilty. So of course, you know, it aligns with everything I talk about here at alcohol, minimalist. Think of Sunnyside as a digital coach that helps you set the plan for the week, and provides tools to track your drinks and measure your progress. All while using proven behavior change techniques to create a lasting habit change. It’s super easy to start super easy to stick to. And it includes a 15 day free trial. So you can test it out. Really, it’s worth checking out, head on over to sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started today. So I really wanted to get you on here to talk about the courses some of the courses because you’ve kind of gone along a journey you have started writing that was really a now I know you’ve shared with me that really your emphasis now is on doing courses because they’re kind of like another way of writing a book really, I mean, they’re just a, you know, a more personalized kind of approach to sharing information. Some people like to just read it, but some people like to have a one on one conversation. And really, that’s what the video courses are designed to do. Well, yeah, and I love everything that you’re doing, I really appreciate the fact that the courses are super affordable, folks. So that’s number one. A lot of people that that live in this space, they would tell you, the marketing gurus would tell you, oh you should be charging way more you should be you know, all of that. And so, I appreciate the fact that you’ve made it affordable and accessible and something that just about everybody can take advantage of. And so, one of the plays that I really wanted to discuss with you is the anxiety cure because that course and that information is so relevant to the people that I work with and the people that I talk to and I myself definitely have you know had a habit a 30 plus year habit of turning to alcohol to because I because I needed to take the edge off that was my you know, I call it an oxymoronic habit because I was an adult child of an alcoholic but yet I somehow turned to alcohol to relieve my anxiety and stress and only until then I learned some of the tools that you share in the anxiety cure of how to really retrain my thoughts and really reframe how I thought about things to take to feel better. I mean and that was the thing instead of turning to alcohol to feel better I use my own brain to feel better. And so talk to me about why the anxiety cure and kind of what’s in that course and what makes it so what’s so useful especially in the world today because let’s face it the world is not getting any less stressful these days. We just are coming out of COVID and we thought oh look things are lightening up and then Europe decided to go back to 1942 Wild well I am recovered I’m gonna say recovered because I am recovered but it’s like you’re never recovered. But I’m a recovering anxiety sufferer and and I used to I told you this privately it’s all my site recovered emotional eater. So we’re very similar like I said buffering or you know eating or over drinking they’re very similar. Yeah, recovered being a recovered emotional leader is a lot like being a recovered alcoholic you know, there’s a lot or even I don’t I don’t technically say alcoholics or I wasn’t I myself wasn’t what I would physically dependent but even people who are misusing alcohol on a regular basis and probably just overusing it. I mean, so it’s kind of the same. Yeah, actually a lot of addictions. It’s about not wanting to feel emotions, you know, like for I joke that you know, there’s fight and flight when you don’t want to feel emotions and then there’s fight flight and bite for me it was like bite like it was like losing myself in the food or trying to like focus there. Instead of like really thinking about things and being aware of my feelings and just having a needed conversation with myself. I guess another way to say it, and, and so it’s also called maladaptive coping mechanism, right? Which I kind of like that phrase, and a lot of people have maladaptive coping is how do you self soothe. And a lot of life is about how good you are at self soothing. Yeah, conflict happens, you know. So I started to research about anxiety and also reach separately about emotional eating and that a lot of the tools overlapped. You know, but then there were specific to foods, some that could apply to anybody that has an addictive habit that they’re trying to break. And but at the end, you’d have to figure out, I call doing a stop and swap, you have to take the negative habit, it’s not enough to just say, I’m going to stop it, because you’re busy mind wants something to focus on and chew on. So like, even with my dog, if I want to train my dog, who’s maybe chewing on a slipper, or chewing on something bad, it’s not enough just to take away that thing, I have to give the dog something else because my dog chewing for him or other is a is an anxiety for the dog, actually. So I have to give the dog something positive to chew on. And we have to do that with our habits. So with anxiety, I have to do a stop and swap. If you’re thinking a thought you have to put in, do a stop and stop, have a more positive thought. If you’re doing a negative habit, and try to swap into positive habit, it’s not enough just to stop, you have to do a stop and a swap. One of my philosophies, one of the things and I this is what I think is so compelling about these courses, folks, and I want you to go check it out, there’s links on my resource page. And you can as I mentioned, I will so that’s Molly watts.com/resources. But also you can go to Karen site, and I will link all that in the show notes. So if you think about these books that have really great visual design, you’re kind of, you know, humorous, sort of, there’s a bit of sarcasm, but not in a you know, awful way. And and then science, right? So I think those kinds of those three things you kind of pull together and what makes these courses so compelling and useful is the combination of all those things, right? It’s like you get the the spoonful of medicine with a beautiful visual and you get a nice, you know, you get science and then you get a little bit of humor with it was that Is that a fair assessment of the of all the tools? Yeah, I love finding good research study. And in anxiety cure, it has two different sections. One is every kind of psychology that you could look at, like positive psychology, neuro linguistic program, cognitive behavioral therapy, like unit, it’s all that’s in the first one that’s like the psychological module. And then the other module is more like Eastern philosophy, like different forms, and meditation and grounding tools that come more from the Eastern philosophy on how to reduce anxiety. So I have those two sections, and then a lot of them still are based in research, like even want to talk about meditation. I talked about, like, statistics on why it works and how it works, you know? Yeah. And with emotional eating, I kind of want to bring this up, because this might be interesting to people. It’s a study that was really interesting to me, that a lot of women in particular, us I think sometimes have trouble with anger. And so instead of expressing it outward, they take on an addiction, and that has come up like awesome, like, you know, coach people and, you know, so when I realized I would eat a lot like after a breakup, it was like I particularly like I joke my cheese doodles right. And I thought to myself that every time I was eating cheese doodles, I was really eating a big bag of I hate him doodles or I hate doodles like I was like, eating it kind of in an aggressive way. And also there’s secondary games, which is like if I this case literally again, but that’s just Winston says word gaming. But if I if I gained enough weight, then I could use that as an excuse not to date and I think I was afraid of dating again. So sometimes there’s secondary gains and having an addiction to but I call so the study that I want to bring up was a study on drug addiction that applied to emotional eating and applies to anything alcohol, you name it, that they but they did it with drugs that people at a rehab were Given two different methods to heal from their drug addiction, and one group got irregular drug therapy, medicate, you know, whatever they do, that’s the more traditional route. And then another group got forgiveness therapy. And what they were taught was how to let go of their anger. Because a lot of people have anger and resentment and shame like something in their past some, some trauma or something, a crisis is creating that which is driving them to the addiction. And so they wanted to get to the core root of why people would drink rather than just throw the bandaid of like, you know, drug rehab, like whatever they do get to the root of it. And the people that had that forgiveness therapy, wound up not only recovering faster, they had less recidivism, like returning to that addiction, because of getting to the root of it. So in my emotional eating course, I talk about how hate loss leads to weight loss, like when you get rid of that, and you have to eat, I love me foods, and not I hate him foods or not, I hate me foods and to even look at food that way. Is this not lovely food? Or is this an I hate him or hate me food? You know? Yeah, well, it’s really applicable to and I love you drink would be different than drinking, tried to hate away somebody or forget somebody. So it’s very, very applicable. Yeah, I really believe that so much of what you’ve been sharing, and so much of your work and your books and the courses is really applicable for anyone that’s listening to this show. It aligns very closely with what I talked about in terms of changing your thoughts to create new feelings to take better actions. And that’s really at the core of what you talk about, too. And so I just appreciate you coming on the show today. I appreciate so tell me what is our cat’s name that we’re going to be coming on your show. Exactly. It’s you have a whole family here today. Yeah, the cat’s name is chop and the cat is a boy. But I keep thinking of the cat as a girl. I don’t know why. Sexist I don’t know. But, and then the dog, which is huge is the girl and I give anyway, the dog’s name is Lily. She’s a rescue dog. And she’s about six months, but like she’s like 2530 pound dog. And but thanks doesn’t know that she’s that big. It’s just like flopping all over the place. And they get along great. Except for Lily so big. And the cat isn’t. So you know, Lily, chop. And Karen, thank you very much for coming on. Thank you for having all of us here. I will share links, like I said in all of my show notes for how to access not sam and.com. But I highly suggest you go and check it out. And you’ll be just as smitten as I am with all those wonderful images, the books and the courses. And I just thank you, Karen salmson for coming on the show today. Thank you. Thank you suddenly the cat got quiet. She’s like harmless. She’s off the podcast now. The attention I deserved. Thanks, Karen. Thank you. Bye. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible. You have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com