The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary With Harvard Professor Ronald Siegel

Ronald Siegel

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Ronald Siegel

Ronald Siegel, PsyD, is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, where he’s taught since the early 1980s.

He’s a longtime student of mindfulness meditation and he has taught internationally about the importance of mindfulness and mind-body treatment. He maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Lincoln, MA.

He’s written many books including "The Mindfulness Solution," "Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy," "Mindfulness and Psychotherapy," and "The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary."

Why Ronald Siegel Is Mentally Strong

Ronald could easily talk about the importance of changing the world by achieving big things. After all, he teaches students at an Ivy League school.

But instead, he writes and teaches about practicing compassion and forming genuine connections with people. 

He shares how humility, vulnerability, and forming genuine connections with others help everyone to live their best lives.

What You’ll Hear on the Show 

  • How we learn to equate happiness with achievement
  • How our parents’ self-esteem impacts our drive for success
  • How advertisers prey on our desire to feel good about ourselves
  • The exercise that can help you discover what really matters to you in life
  • How our desire to boost self-esteem can turn into an unhealthy cycle that mimics addiction
  • How to stop believing everything you think
  • Why you should focus on connecting with people, not impressing them
  • How gratitude can help you stop judging yourself
  • How to conquer the fear of not being good enough
  • Why being ordinary might actually be the key to living your best life

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Our culture encourages us to achieve great things. And when people take a break or quit a goal for the purpose of improving their mental health, they may be viewed as weak.

But, taking steps to address your mental health is a sign of strength. Sometimes, that means pushing yourself to do hard things. But at other times, that means taking a step back and allowing yourself to pass up opportunities for achievement. 

We tend to associate bigger achievements with better mental health. But, the happiness boost we gain from achieving something good is fleeting and if we’re not careful, we could end up in a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction.

Quotes From Dr. Siegel

Ronald Siegel

Genuine humility comes from recognizing our ordinariness.

— Ronald Siegel
  • "Culture really delivers the message that if only you could be better, you would be happy. And if you're not feeling happy, it's either because you didn't buy the right consumer product or you're somehow too fat or you haven't achieved enough."
  • "What if in each interaction I had during the day, I was just concerned with connecting with this person, understanding their experience, sharing my actual experience rather than some curated view of my image that I'd like to portray?"
  • "The nice thing about talking to the Dalai Lama is you don't have the feeling he's scanning the room for a better networking opportunity. He's actually just there with you and for whatever few moments he's actually interested in you, we feel it." 

More About the Podcast

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Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.