Haile Thomas is a motivational speaker, youth health advocate, vegan chef, and the founder and executive director of The HAPPY Org., an organization focused on educating and empowering young people to embrace healthy eating through a number of programs and resources. She is passionate about inspiring others to live healthy, mindful lives, and strives to be her best self, remembering to be “a leader and not a follower”. On top of all this, Haile also makes time for her family, her friends, and for school, and she’s only sixteen.
Even with all the success she has had, Haile Thomas shows no signs of slowing down. For her, the sky is the limit, and she wants to change the world and spread the message that food, healthy eating, and mindfulness is powerful.
Haile’s journey started at eight years old when her father was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. At such an emotional time, Haile’s family came together to support one another and work as a team. Together, they were able to reverse his condition with healthy eating and exercise. This big moment changed her perception of health and well-being, igniting a passion within her to spread the word of how powerful food is and how impactful healthy eating can be. At ten years old, she gave her first speech. An advantage of starting so young meant that she hadn’t built any barriers, yet. She wasn’t nervous or scared of judgement, she was just excited for the opportunity to share her message.
“As we get older, rather than blossoming more we are withering down and getting less confident and secure in our unique opinions and thoughts.”
Haile wants to teach youth to be mindful of this, encouraging them to embrace who they are and find confidence in being themselves. “It’s easy and more comfortable to follow the crowd. Everybody wants to take the comfortable route and not be singled out. But it’s more fun to be singled out, because at the end of the day, in terms of fulfillment, it’s about you and not everybody else.”
“I’m an individual, I don’t have to follow the rules, and I can be authentically myself without having regrets about that. Starting with that foundation is a huge part in my confidence in what I have to offer to the world.”
An Inner Awareness
Something Haile has recently begun to learn is how to deal with outside forces and how they affect you, especially when it comes to friends and family. Many of us can relate to experiences of losing friends or growing apart from people we care about. For Haile, it was a lesson in being mindful about what was going on in her life, and learning to open up to others while also being honest with herself.
“Mindfulness is an inner awareness of how the world on the outside impacts you on the inside.”
Haile speaks with such wisdom. For her, mindfulness is “being able to interpret and understand all the feelings and experiences and emotions that occur when the outside world is happening” and “making a decision on how you’re going to react to those things.” When friends move on or have a change of heart, Haile now knows to look deeper into what happened. “So many people who are doing what they love and are successful in doing that find that so many people drift away.” Rather than point the finger at herself and immediately wonder what she did wrong, she tries “practicing mindfulness in the way that I react to it, then releasing it and moving forward.” Haile explained, “I can’t control what goes on and what other people perceive, but at least I’m being honest about what I’m feeling and what’s going on with me.”
“As long as I put out good energy and good things into the world, then people who appreciate that and also agree with that will come along.”
Mindful in More Ways Than One
With her many jobs, school, and the responsibility to maintain a social media presence, Haile is almost always working. Because of this, it is important to Haile to find time in the day to stop and take a break. Haile incorporates mindfulness into her life in many ways including disconnecting from social media to read a book or to be with family. She shares that “sometimes, disconnecting from the work that I’m doing allows me to get back to who I am without it.”
“I enjoy disconnecting sometimes. It reminds me that I’m not my work.”
Whenever Haile feels overwhelmed, she recognizes that she needs to “reorganize what needs to be prioritized.” Getting organized sometimes means taking a break, and Haile explained that it’s the little things that make a difference. Sometimes she makes time for yoga, or for five minutes of meditation in the morning. Sometimes all it takes is being present while eating to truly enjoy a meal and who you’re eating with.
Journaling for Everyday & Everybody
Haile understands the benefit of writing down your thoughts to clear your mind from any issues or frustrations. “Working through these things can be so helpful,” she shared. Haile also writes down five things she is grateful for every morning. “It sets a tone and it brings you back to square one – to be mindful in approaching the day and how to handle everything from the outside.”
“Expressing gratitude in that way is an amazing thing.”
There are many perceptions of what journaling means, and many ways to experience it. Haile would love for more youth to try journaling, and explained that the first thing to do is “remove the labels of what journaling is.” She expressed, “Journaling can truly be anything you want it to be. It’s just a way to express yourself.” Haile enjoys using journaling for creative writing, practicing gratitude, and setting goals. “It’s completely customizable to you, because it’s your experience,” she explained. “It’s not for older people, it’s not for younger people. It’s just an experience.”
Haile’s Questions for KYŌ:
- How are you going to step into today with confidence?
- How are you going to expand your mind today?
- What do you love about yourself?