Episode 2: Seek Beauty, Boost Your Mood and Create a Better World, with Sarah Coniglio

Beauty is healing and it has been scientifically backed that being in the nature boosts your mood, it makes you feel better and you become more optimistic. How to draw from this enormous positive source at our fingertips?

This is what we chat about in this episode with Sarah Coniglio, the social impact photographer, podcaster and creator of the project WonderFULL through which she illuminates as much as kindness and beauty in the world as possible.

Sarah knows from her own experience that beauty heals and she wants you to experience the same, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day in nature. Starting with oneself, this is the journey towards the world, when more and more people feel better creating more positive place to live.

We chat through the fact that beauty is everywhere and you don’t need to travel a thousand miles or visit different continents to access it. It’s literally at your fingertips, and this is why Sarah organizes mindFULL seeing challenges, which help you to focus on the beauty around you.

Sarah says the more you seek beauty, the more you’ll see. This so-called frequency illusion helps to rewire our brains, from focusing on negative to focusing on beauty and feeling better. So why not using this scientifically proved tendency for our benefit?

But what to do when you really feel down and seemingly can’t force yourself out of the couch to go and seek beauty? Sarah shares what works for her: removing the barriers. She prepares all her things at the doorsteps, so the only thing she literally has to do is to put on her shoes and exit the doors. Gradually, doing what is good for you becomes a habit.

We also dug into the role of beauty in the challenging world we live in. Sarah believes that you can’t get angry at beauty and realized that beauty cannot exist without war, so we got to choose which one we can lean into. We can still surround ourselves with beauty even when terrible things are going on in the world, and there is nothing wrong with that, nor we should feel ashamed for it.

So, if you want to feel calmer, more optimistic and grounded in the midst of your life, even if it feels like a rollercoaster, pop in those headphones and choose to Screw Being Unhappy!

===This episode’s inspiration and action ===

What lifts Sarah up? Try her strategies too:

  • Go out to nature, surround yourself with beauty, capture it on your camera
  • Meditation, mindfulness exercises and yoga

Sarah´s one recommendation what to do after listening to this episode:

  • Go outside for 10 minutes, wherever you live and just take in the beauty around you

Get inspired by who inspires Sarah:

  • Mother Teresa, look up her biographies, learn what amazing things she has done in her life

Connect with Sarah

Instagram Project WonderFULL

Instagram Today’s WonderFULL


Connect with Zuzana



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Zuzana Mukumayi  0:02 

Hello, Sarah, I’m so excited to have you here today. Welcome.

Sarah Coniglio 

Thank you, I am so excited to be here with you.

Zuzana Mukumayi 

And right now you are planning to visit all of the 63 national parks in the United States. And you also said that you’re planning to visit Australia and Antarctica, which are the two continents you didn’t explore yet. In everything you do, your mission is about wellness, can you tell us a bit more about it?

Sarah Coniglio  0:38 

Yeah, so I’m very excited, I love to travel, I’m a social impact photographer, as one of one of the things I love to do. And my mission is to illuminate as much beauty and kindness in the world. Because I think that that helps heal you. It’s a better way to be around beauty and kindness. And so I’ve started these like missions to go different places, the 63 national parks that kind of came after, or during COVID When I couldn’t really travel overseas. And then of course, I want to do all seven continents. But yeah, it’s, you know, at the end of the day, if we’re surrounding ourselves with these things, and if we collectively are doing it, I just think that the world would be a better place, or it is a better place for me. And I feel like the people that I’m surrounded with that really recognize and are having their our hearts and eyes open to the beauty all around them. So I just think it’s a it’s a wonderful way to be in this noisy, often challenging world that we live in. So that’s, that’s my goal with all of that.

Zuzana Mukumayi  2:01 

And I’m curious, because I think we can all quite easily relate how nature relates to our own wellness. So when you said you’re traveling and you take photos, I think we can easily imagine how it relates to your wellness, but how it relates to wellness of all the other people, which I think it’s the thing you are trying to do, as you just said, So how, where is the connection between the nature, you and other people?

Sarah Coniglio  2:32 

Oh, that’s a really good question. Well, well, as you said, I have absolutely felt the benefits of being in nature. And it’s absolutely scientifically backed that when you are in that nature, it really will give you a boost in mood, which makes you feel better, you’re more optimistic. It’s just a better way of being. So I feel like for me, my part in that is, I know that to be sure for me. So I can use myself as an example for other people. So when I go out and I capture something beautiful, or I get to talk to really amazing people making an impact and doing kind things in the world on my podcast, it allows people to see that they can to benefit from being out there in nature amongst this beauty, which again, I think beauty heals not I think I know it heals. So I’d say my position is to just facilitate that understanding of how good that will make people feel, to just get out even if it’s 10 minutes a day in nature. And again, like I said earlier, if more people are doing that, collectively, it’s like an energy thing. More people are realizing the benefits of it more people are in better moods and feel better about the challenging world we’re living in, the better the world is overall.

Zuzana Mukumayi  4:17 

And that brings me to the other question I had because I know you are doing the mindful seeing challenges. And I have a favorite one, which is the heart challenge when you ask people to look out in nature and see the heart shapes and completely love it. So I wanted to ask how did you come up with the idea and why we should surround ourselves by nature and heal ourselves with the beauty.

Sarah Coniglio  4:51 

I love that challenge too. I sometimes I repeat that challenge. If you ever noticed every once in a while on one I want to do that one again, because that’s my favorite one too. I thought about it. Well, I first had started just by doing what I call today’s wonderful, which is one photo a day, every morning, I post in a few different places on social media, I’m looking at some alternative ways, the alternative ways to do that in the future that are not social media. But to put out beauty in the world every day, I think if you have that regularly in your life, that’s going to have an effect on you. So I started to do it, I started to kind of walk my or Yeah, walk my talk, and, and put it out there and regularly engage in it myself. So every morning, put a photo, probably about a month or two into it. I was feeling like I wanted it to go beyond the photo for people so they could see the photo, and engage in the beauty of the photo. But I wanted that photo to inspire and encourage them to go out and see beauty for themselves. So I thought, Well, why don’t I just say it, and put some challenges out there as to what people can go out and look for in their regular day. Because I think beauty is everywhere. You know, I go to a lot of various places in the world, I’m very fortunate that I’m able to see different countries and different places in the United States. And, and I love it, and I explore it, and I capture it. However, especially during the pandemic, I really learned that you don’t have to travel 1000s of miles to see beauty that it is all around you. And it’s at your fingertips. And so I wanted to create a way for people to regularly engage in it, and have little simple challenges. Nothing, nothing too crazy to do every day. So that’s where that came from. And I’ve been doing that now on a daily basis for it’ll be close to a year once I get to that mile marker of starting the challenges, but I did it all every day in 2022, I did a photo. And now I’m doing both the photo and the challenge, which has been really, really, I’ve enjoyed it myself to put that out there and to engage in it myself as well.

Zuzana Mukumayi  7:27 

And honestly, I love your photos on Instagram, they are beautiful. And they through all the noise and cows on Instagram, I always look forward your photos and probably remember the day I also texted you that I found the heart on our papaya tree where I’m so excited. And I I love that you say that we don’t have to travel far and that the beauty is at our fingertips. And I experienced something similar. Last I think it was last week. And I actually don’t remember what happened. I remember I had bad day. And I just went out and we have districts flowering it has red flowers. And I just kept looking at it. And I felt better. And I think just the fact that I can’t remember why my day was so bad. But I remember the tree and the flowers. It says everything basically.

Sarah Coniglio  8:25 

It does. And you know, I think that you know one of the other things with the challenges and, and just getting yourself out there, the more you get yourself out. And the more you seek beauty, the more you’ll see. So that’s why I love talking about the hearts because I bet everyone that gets off of this podcast that starts looking for naturally formed hearts, they’re going to see more of them. It’s it’s literally it’s called the frequency illusion. It’s a scientifically based, backed and based phenomenon that when we look for something, we’re going to see more and more of it. It’s like we’re rewiring our brains. So if we’re already wiring our brain to see more beauty, we’re going to see more of it. And then it’s going to be more of those effects those benefits on our life. So I love that you went out and did that. Because now you’re feeling the effects of not even remembering why you were having a bad day. So the next time you’re having a bad day, you’ll do the same thing and it’s just going to amplify every time and it’s just a beautiful thing. It doesn’t it’s completely scientifically backed. I know for sure for me, you’re experiencing it. We can say that it happens for us but it’s a science thing really. At the end of the day. Someone wrote probably many books about it. But for me I I really appreciate that. That is And exists and that you can just make that work in your favor. And it’s simple.

Zuzana Mukumayi  10:06 

Yeah. And it’s actually the perfect segue to the next question I have. And it’s because this podcast is about real life. And we have all days when we feel under the weather, we feel bad. And we know in our mind that going out or exercising or calling a friend, it will help us and we will feel better. But we don’t do it. Because we are in that slump, we just want to do nothing or just cry a bit or be in the bed. So I wanted to ask you, if you ever experienced this, when you feel beat down, and you know that if you go out there, you will feel better, but you you feel that resistance of going and you don’t want to go even if you know that it will make you feel better. So I wanted to ask if you experience it? And if yes, how do you deal with it?

Sarah Coniglio  11:02 

Of course, I experienced that I, you know, I think that’s a very natural thing for everyone to experience. And I think, you know, mostly for me, it’s about removing the barriers to doing something. So, you know, when it’s, I think, for me, sometimes in the wintertime, it’s winter, and then in the New Jersey in the United States. And it’s cold out. And sometimes it’s dreary out, and I just don’t I’m just not, you know, I am affected by the weather, when it’s sunny out, I’m in a better mood, when it’s dreary out not that great of a mood. So a lot of times it’s happened, it happens when it’s dreary out. So I think what I usually do is have things in place to make it easier for me to get out the door. So you know, have my, all of my outer gear, have my camera, I usually bring my camera outside all prepared to go. So there’s all I have to do is literally put on my shoes and my jacket and go outside. And I also just continue to remind myself of how good it feels like, knowing the day prior that I went out, just reminding myself, I know that this is going to make me feel better. And just constantly like saying that sometimes out loud, you know, I’m going to feel better. I just need to go outside. And it works. But I think it’s just removing the barriers because it’s easy to get the excuses, right? Or even, you know, the one barriers being cold outside, but also time, right? It’s easy to say oh, no, you know what, I don’t really have time to do that. So one of the barriers to that is to say like, or one of the things to remove is that excuses to say, Well, I have 10 minutes, you know, because even if it’s 10 minutes of getting outside, it’s better than nothing. So I think sometimes if it’s just a little bit, it’s going to make a difference. To make you feel better. Yeah,

Zuzana Mukumayi  13:16 

I’m big fan of this actually barrier remover thing. Like, I can share my own example of exercising, I used to go to the gym in the past when I lived in very remote part of Zambia. And that actually, we had no choice then going to the gym. So it was kind of doesn’t count, being diligent with the gym. But here when I have a child and we live in a bigger town, it never worked even if I tried. So what I started doing to make it really easy, because I know like the whole process of putting on the clothes and shoes and going out of the house. So I actually said like, Okay, let me exercise maybe 10 or 15 minutes everyday and I don’t change my clothes. So I just, I watch some Pilates video and I do it in the clothes like I sit with. And it works because I don’t have to spend five minutes to put on my close putt putt shoes, and then exercising 10 minutes. So this I love your advice because I use the same and I think actually it really works. And also that part of reminding ourselves how good we will feel once we overcome the moment when we don’t feel like it and do it then we really feel good about it.

Sarah Coniglio  14:34 

Yeah, and then it becomes a habit. You know, I think the more you remove the barriers and the more just the more just feels like part of your day then it’s not even like not as much maybe you feel like you don’t want to do it because it just becomes part of your day. So I think the more you make it easier for it to just happen, the more it’s it’s a habit and and Then you know, you’re in that complete flow of it all by doing that, so I love that you do the same thing. Of course you do.

Zuzana Mukumayi  15:10 

Discovering, also to find the perfect habit for us and how to make it work is lots of trial and error, because usually we don’t fit. Pick the first thing like what works for us, we just need to experiment and play with it.

Sarah Coniglio  15:29 

Yeah, absolutely. And that it can be that simple. You know, I think both of our both of the things that we’re doing are not just these like grandiose things, to get us to take the walk or go and exercise. You know, there are simple things that you can incorporate to just make it easier for yourself. And challenging.

Zuzana Mukumayi  15:52 

Then I have a couple of questions, I like to ask everybody in the end, because the purpose of the podcast is to inspire other women who are listening. And as I just said, it’s about this thing and see what works for you what works for me, and as many ideas we can have, I think the better. So I wanted to ask it’s, I feel it’s kind of obvious what we have been talking about. But I’m still going to ask maybe you will surprise us. Like when you feel really down in the bad mood, what is the 100%? Sure thing that lifts you up?

Sarah Coniglio  16:34 

Well, I’ll start with the one obvious one, which is to get out and take my camera and capture beauty and just be amongst beauty. I feel like you can’t get angry at beauty. It’s impossible. So it’s a sure way for me to feel better. But I would also say to kind of change it up. Because we haven’t talked about this at all. I do a lot of mindfulness and meditation and yoga, which every time I do any kind of yoga exercises, or it could be short, you know, 15 minutes, or a meditation, I always feel better afterwards. You know, with meditation, I feel more grounded and peaceful and calm. And, you know, with yoga, depending on the type I can feel more invigorated and, and also grounded and calm. So I would say between those few things, those are kind of in my toolbox for when I’m having a bad day or feeling kind of not so great. Those Those few things are kind of my Sure. Like, those tools are gonna work. I just got to do it.

Zuzana Mukumayi  17:51 

Thank you for sharing with us. And we will add it to our lists. And good I love that. Yeah. And I wanted to ask, because as I said that the podcast is for real women, we are all real people, our lives are not perfect. And usually we have ups and downs in AI in our life. So I was curious what’s really hard for you right now and how you are dealing with it?

Sarah Coniglio  18:24 

What’s really hard for me, I’d say is, I think I mentioned this a few minutes earlier, I’m really affected by weather, and by environment, I’m super empathetic. And so I think when things are challenging in the world, so if there’s world things going on, the news is bad. I tend to feel I take that on a lot for myself. So I you know, I’m become more and more aware of that. And I think the thing that I try to do is to take myself out of that by doing the things that I just talked about. But also just simply having the awareness around it, I think is the best thing that we can do. Because we all are going to have something that’s going to challenge us in life. It can be anything from you know, I don’t have children, but you know, the the parenting and that’s very difficult. You know, various jobs, people have various things you have to do in your every day. health concerns. These are all things that I think we all deal with, in varying degrees. And I think for me, yeah, I’d say the hardest thing For me right now is just being in a noisy, challenging world sometimes and having to navigating through that, in a way that I’m a very optimistic person. And staying true to that even in a world that’s often negative, and kind of being met with that resistance of like, oh, you’re all positive about this. But this is all really difficult and, and really trying to be true to that without feeling like I shouldn’t be positive, if that makes sense.

Zuzana Mukumayi  20:32 

And also, what I love, you said a couple of minutes earlier that you can get angry at the beauty. And I remember, it was the time when the war in Ukraine broke, and we were together in one group. And there was this discussion and kind of the pressure from the outside world, like, why enterpreneurs or people should continue doing beautiful things when there is word in some when there is war in one part of the world. And as you said, like that you can get angry at beauty and often, like the beauty might be the only answer, we might have these challenging moments. So I’m really glad that you you mentioned it, because often when bad things are happening, we feel, I think that we are not entitled for the beauty. And I think it’s very important to note that we are and we deserved.

Sarah Coniglio  21:33 

Yeah, and I I love this because that was a huge awakening for me that day, when this was all happening, because like you said, it’s it was a very difficult time continues to be a very difficult time when it comes to that war. And one of the things that I discovered through those combat conversation is that war can’t exist without beauty and beauty can’t exist without war. They coexist the we get to choose which one we’re going to lean towards, and which one we’re going to surround ourselves with. And so that was my awakening to I can choose to be around beauty and see the beauty in this situation, which for me was, yes, this horrible situation is happening with the war. But there are all these people helping there are all these people raising money to get supplies to send over to these people. There’s all these people taking the refugees into their homes. How beautiful is it to see the kindness and that beauty happening in the face of this horrible war? So that was a really, I’m glad you brought that up. Because that was a profound moment and a moment in a movie example of like, we don’t have to, we don’t have to go the way of the war or the negativity, we can choose to be in positivity. It’s a choice we have.

Zuzana Mukumayi  23:12 

Yeah, yeah, I love it. And I remember the day when this this happened. And we talked about it. So I’m actually very happy. It was not planned to talk about it. But I’m really happy that it came up. Because I think that’s something which is really inspiring.

Sarah Coniglio  23:30 

Yeah, I agree. I’m glad it came up.

Zuzana Mukumayi  23:33 

Inspiration, I wanted to ask Who inspires you and why?

Sarah Coniglio  23:41 

I have a lot of, I’d say modern day people who inspire me. But I think when I’m asked this question, the person that always pops first into my mind is Mother Teresa. And I think it’s because, you know, going back to what I was just talking about i by nature, I’m a very positive and optimistic person. And in my life, I have kind of kind of dampened that, you know, especially when there is a lot of negativity, and there’s people doing not so nice things in the world. And you kind of just kind of sit back and you’re like, Well, I don’t want to be that positive person, like everything’s okay. But I really loved how she just was one of the kindest people in the world. And she was positive and she was all about healing and you know, doing these wonderful things in service for people. And that’s just inspiring to me that someone could be so true and authentically in her way. And for me, it’s inspiring to say I like use the positivity use the beauty. I feel like that’s a gifts for me to feel that I can be positive in and sometimes negative times, and not shy away from that. And, you know, Mother Teresa was Mother Teresa. So she’s an inspiration for sure. But you know, in the sense of that we had that choice again, like, I think it’s choosing to be positive choosing to see beauty versus kind of getting stuck in this world, that often we can very easily.

Zuzana Mukumayi  25:27 

And I really resonate with that you’re saying, we have the option of choosing and why I appreciate this so much. Because I think naturally, I was, I was, or maybe I am still a bit, but I have worked on it, like I am more negative person naturally. And I think it’s also connected with to our culture, and generally how Czech Republic is maybe because of all the years of communism and operation. But it, it takes a lot of work and lots of how to say determination to kind of shift this negative inclination into the positive. But I know it’s completely possible for everybody. So I love I think it was Gretchen Rubin who says, or maybe she had it from some research that, like, naturally, the way people are, we have certain kind of percentage of how optimistic we are, so and we cannot move that much. But we can always move about like the border where we are. So if somebody is more negative, we can still work on being more positive. So I like this, that there is always space to improve a bit. And to work on it. And to choose the especially in the challenging times we have, and maybe looking from historic perspective, we are actually really lucky we live in this time, because it’s it wouldn’t be that challenging compared to other times, which we came to realize also maybe with the war in Ukraine, like how fortunate we were that we grew up in a world without a war. So I just wanted to thank you for sharing this. It’s been very inspiring. And I think I need to look up some books about Mother Teresa as well like to really learn about her life. So and I love reading. So I think that’s a great reading tip for next time.

Sarah Coniglio  27:37 

Yeah, absolutely. Like, let me know if you do, I’ve never read about her. But I wonder if there’s a book about her, like a, you know, biography or something like that. I want to look for that too, not to share what we find. Pretty amazing woman though. Absolutely. And I love what you just talked about with culture too, because I think one of the things with when you’re out and about, especially with traveling, but I think in general, like when you learn about different people’s stories and learn about their cultures, and what makes you different, I think it just makes you more aware of who you are, and aware of how there is so much diversity in this world. So I think I love that you brought that up about you know, how you grew up and in how that can impact you. And I say the same thing from a travel standpoint, I love the immersion that can happen, that you can really learn and see the beautiful things in other cultures when traveling to so I just love that you brought up about culture, because I really think that’s an important thing that I’ve grown from in all the years of traveling and I appreciate you know, the beauty of that for sure, too.

Zuzana Mukumayi  29:04 

And you know, I’m sure about this topic, we could talk for another half an hour. It’s super interesting, and how deep it can go like that we are not even realizing we have something from our culture. But then we when we start digging deeper, we realize things and then we see oh, they maybe that’s the reason why I was thinking this way. Maybe that’s why I was behaving this way. So it’s super interesting. But maybe that would be for another podcast episode. And like it’s the last question I wanted to ask. If there was one thing that amazing women who are listening to this podcast, if there is one thing they could do after listening, this podcast, what would you want it to be?

Sarah Coniglio  29:55 

I would say go outside for 10 minutes, wherever you live. If wherever you are, go outside and just taken the beauty around you, I guarantee you will find something beautiful, doesn’t you don’t have to go out and find a naturally formed heart. You don’t have to find anything specific. Just look around, go out without the earbuds in, listen, smell, just taken nature, you’ll be amazed that how 10 minutes will make a difference in your life. And especially if you do it every day, for the next week, the next month, you’ll feel you’ll feel the the benefits of that for sure.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai