Award-winning Mindset and Wellness Expert, Sonia Jhas, is no stranger to adversity. As the cross cultural child of immigrants, she struggled with identity, purpose, body image, and all the negative self-talk that comes from not being aligned with one’s values. Sonia knew instinctively that she deserved better and so, she gave up her skyrocketing corporate career and began searching for a new path that resonated with her core.
Eventually, she transformed her life through deep analysis, education, determination and willpower. Through her journey, Sonia uncovered a deep passion for wellness as well as a driving desire to help others. Now as a Mindset and Wellness Coach, Sonia has taken these hard-earned lessons and made it her mission to help people live their best lives through online talks, speaking engagements, television appearances and of course, coaching. She has accumulated an impressive 80+ million media impressions and continues to spread inspiration all over the globe.
Sonia is much more than just a fitness expert; her particular brand of healthy living addresses both the physical and mental aspect of wellness. She encourages holistic exercise for both the body and the mind, leading her clients to long-lasting transformations.
Raj Girn: Welcome to The ANOKHI UNCENSORED Show folks, I’m thrilled to have Sonia Jhas, a well-known mindset and wellness expert on the show. Sonia’s life is what most women dream of accomplishing enviable career in the public and private sectors. Motherhood and wife goals and the disciplined mind and body wellness lifestyle. She attributes her well-rounded success to having made some very difficult and on purpose decisions along the way, which have led to her breaking cultural norms that include walking away from a wedding at the eleventh hour, walking away from a high-paying dream corporate job and honestly dealing with her narrative around food, nutrition and fitness. This has ultimately led to her becoming the household name that she is today across Canada and beyond. It’s this leap of faith that has landed her on The ANOKHI ADVOCATE List 2021 commemorate the 19th anniversary of the ANOKHI brand, where I’m pleased to share her advocacy journey in conquering the mind fog that has allowed her to cultivate a lifestyle steeped in authentic living. Congratulations for making this list this year, my darling Sonia, and welcome to this special edition of The ANOKHI UNCENSORED Show.
Sonia Jhas: Thank you so much for having me, Raj. I can’t tell you what an honour this is and also like, what an incredible introduction. Honestly, like my daughter this morning was like, ‘hey, you!’, so this this felt definitely like it carried a little bit more weight than that. Thank you so much.
RG: Oh my gosh, my sweetheart, you are most welcome. So, you know, I want to begin by asking you if you could share your personal advocacy philosophy. What is it that has kind of taken you across these big milestone decisions that you’ve had to make along the way?
SJ: Oh, Raj, I think, you know, you don’t really know where your journey is going to go when you’re growing up. You are taught this formula for happiness and you’re taught the formula for success in any sort of like mindlessly subscribe to the formula because you think that’s what you need to do. Those are the ticking marks that you need to achieve in order to finally get to the place where you’re happy. And I think for me, I spent most of my life feeling like it was a square peg-round hole situation. I couldn’t put my finger on it, right? Like it was this guttural feeling of tension and anxiety and misalignment. And yet you don’t really know what that is a child, right? But you don’t know what that feels like. You know, you don’t feel good, but you don’t know why. And then you think, maybe it’s just who you are, and maybe this is the extent of what you’re capable of. And I think along the journey, particularly once I had sort of gotten to the place where I had achieved all of those traditional milestones, as you said, being engaged to the cookie cutter, perfect Indian guy, getting the dream corporate job, you know, buying a penthouse in downtown Toronto, all the things that you think are going to finally bring you to that place of fulfillment.
It was only once I had achieved all those things that I was able to really look around and say, ‘this can’t be it’, like this can’t be the extent of my happiness, and now I’m at the place where I’ve done all the things I’m supposed to do and I still haven’t arrived. And I think when you realize at that age that the responsibility is yours and all the things that you taught yourself about who you’re listening to and what the formula was, all those things no longer apply because you’re an adult now, and it’s your responsibility and you can’t be waiting for somebody else to teach you how to get there. That’s when the journey of unlayering and going within really begins. And it’s scary and it’s uncomfortable and it’s terrible frankly, most of the time. But through that process is where you really get to know the real you. And in that journey is where I think that understanding of what does success look like to you? What does happiness look and feel like to you? What are your values? What is it that is going to allow you to live a life that feels truly fulfilled? It’s those answers that allow you to then start making decisions that can let you live in alignment. So, you know, the the whole principle I think of my journey has been about getting to know the real me and actually really honouring those learnings and lessons along the way, even if they’re not what I thought, even if they’re not what I thought I wanted. Even if they go against cultural norms, even if they go against society, really respecting the answers from within and then having the courage to do something about it, right? Because a lot of us want to do self-help work. We want a journal, we want to meditate, we want to do all of this stuff that feels like it’s going to bring us closer to the truth of who we are. But what I found is the most important piece of all of that is then having the courage to actually act on it. You get the answers, but then you have to do something with it because that’s where you stop being held hostage in your own life.
RG: So how does what you believe in translate over into your professional role as a mindset and wellness expert?
SJ: I think this is where the beauty of following your passion really comes into play, because when you go on your own journey and it becomes a lifelong journey, like my journey is not going to end until I’m dead. There is no destination anymore. This is going to be a lifelong gathering of lessons. And when you find that passion and you’re able to build a business around it, I think that’s where the intersection of a passion and expertise and a desire for lifelong learning really comes in because it’s no longer about you. It’s about you and your journey, but it’s about everybody else as well. It’s about a humanity experience. It’s about really allowing yourself to take on a role where you can let other people in so that they can find a better route on their way, to be able to no longer make the mistakes that they’ve been making or the mistakes that you made to learn from your journey. And I think for me, one of the the most rewarding aspects of my journey has been to be vulnerable enough to let people into the journey with me and to take that leadership role, but to take the leadership role in a way that allows for my journey to continue and my learning to continue.
What does it mean to be an expert in this space? This isn’t like a science. I’m not coming up with new experiments or new sort of formulas. It’s about the learning from within the learning from the outside and sort of packaging and processing all of that and experimenting with it for myself to be able to bring that to other people. And I think for me, like the the bringing together of all of that insight is what feels like the work isn’t work anymore. There is a business and it’s thriving and it’s it’s doing incredibly well, but it feels like it’s just an extension of what I am weaving into my life. And so that’s the part that feels kind of magical actually, and not the stuff that your parents teach you when you’re growing up. It’s like work is work, and then life is life. And I’ve actually been able to marry the two in a way that I don’t think was possible.
RG: So why is advocating for being authentic so important to you? I don’t feel like you’ve answered the question, but I just want to ask you like point blank, what is that for you?
SJ: I think the reason that it feels so important for me to lead by example, to have these conversations to be vulnerable and to put myself out there for people to understand that in this world that we’re living in, particularly now with social media, this world of perfection is false and it is an illusion. And as a brown girl, I grew up in that illusion. It wasn’t the social media illusion, but it was the perfection illusion. It was the comparison game. It was everything that all of us South Asians grew up with where we subscribed to the formula. We did our best to succeed, and we quickly realized that the chase is futile. And so I think for me, it’s to be able to bring my own learning and experiences to the forefront now for other people to be able to reflect on their narratives, their lives, their journey, the society that we’re now living in when it comes to social media. To me, it feels like it’s almost a responsibility because it’s so easy with the filters and the face tuned and the perfectly curated images and messaging. And we also see just enough authenticity that we’re like, ‘ooh, that’s the version of authenticity that I need to have on social media’. Even the game of authenticity is also still a game. And I think for me, it’s like as I’m learning to navigate this world of social media, which is again a lifelong journey that I’m on.
Clearly, how do I expose myself that way and bring people into the narrative so that they can have the courage to do the same for themselves, if nothing else, to just be able to ask themselves the questions? Because that’s the biggest thing I found for myself. It’s like. Even daring to ask yourself the questions quietly internally when no one else is watching. Those are the questions that allow you to start sort of having that snowball effect happen internally. There are the questions and the answers that start to lead you in the right direction because that’s what leads you towards alignment. And so I think when you have this public platform and you have the space and you’ve got an audience, for me, it’s like, ‘what can I bring that is going to allow people to get back in touch with who they really are?’. Because if we’re all going to just be racing towards the end destination then. I mean, I think that’s just terrible. I think it’s I think it’s so sad and I don’t want that for anybody. I don’t want that for me and I don’t want that for anybody.
Like advocacy with your family, advocacy within your community, doesn’t have to be a social media agenda. I think it’s about finding a purpose that feels like it’s part of the collective, because I think that’s what all of us can do.
RG: You recently did a TED Talk on this and the talk was called Where Do The Happy People Live? So I want to ask you, what have you seen that have stood out for you that you feel is changing? Culturally speaking, that tells you that the narrative is changing to meet people where they’re at today, rather than pushing institutionalized agendas that condition us into preconceived ideologies that don’t align with this whole idea of individualism that is so underlying in social media today. Or is it?
SJ: I mean, I think the evidence is around us and it is so inspiring. Like, forget about me. You see, particularly in the South Asian community, people becoming artists, people using their voice for various different creations, people going into fashion, people going into all of these industries that were once looked upon as like less than when you see people using their social media platforms —— whether they’re small or large to speak about their journeys and their struggles and talk about mental health. All these sort of avenues that have always been considered sort of taboo or just not at the forefront of dialog, bringing a different level of authenticity and also honesty to how they represent themselves in the world. I think for me, that is all the evidence that we need that this generation is really doing everything they can to fight against the conditioning, and they’re doing everything they can to pave a different way for the generations to come because they know what it’s like to be caught up in the vortex. And it’s difficult to do a massive course correct later on. It is hard to have that kind of clarity and then to have that kind of courage and also to have that kind of privilege. Because it is privilege also to be able to then. Make the tough choices without having to worry about the implications of your choices for your family or your children or your husband, or the financial implications. There’s privilege involved in it, and I think our generation is doing everything we can to be ‘We we did that. We did that. It didn’t work. So now we’re choosing this’. And so if you can start to ask yourself the question sooner and earlier, you won’t have to do what we did. And I think it’s amazing to see what the South Asian community is doing, in particular because the art is everywhere now. Like the the unique thoughts and feelings and words and colour, the South Asian people are bringing to the table, I think, it is what speaks volumes to the fact that it is changing, and I’m just one of many who are doing their best to change it.
RG: So why do you believe, personally, that it’s so important for people to incorporate a sense of advocacy into their lives on some level, whether it’s personal, professional, spiritual? But what are your thoughts around that, Sonia?
SJ: I think the reality is, it can only be about you for so long. And then when you sort of get to that place where you start to feel secure in yourself and you start to feel aligned with who you are, you realize that. There is a bigger purpose for humanity overall. There is a bigger purpose for you as an individual and to find your role to be able to bring something to society, I think is what we all actually crave. We think it’s going to be these high level sort of surface level ticky marks that we need to feel good about ourselves. But what I think happens, especially as you sort of start to meet those milestones and you benefit from wisdom as you get older, you really do start to internalize the fact that what is your legacy going to be about? What did you do to bring harmony and alignment and peace of mind to those around you? And what what little role could you play? However little or large could you play in setting the stage for a better future? It’s like about seeding greatness for those who come after us. And you know, it sounds a bit larger than life. But I think, you know again, as you start to hit those little milestones, you realize this isn’t actually about me anymore. This is about us as the collective. And I think that is the piece of it that feels so crucial to find that advocacy for anything you believe in, for anything that you stand for, for whatever your journey is about whatever feels true to you. How do you bring that into your formula for fulfillment? Because without it again, it still feels like a bit of a race, and it doesn’t have to be. Like advocacy with your family, advocacy within your own community, it doesn’t have to be a social media agenda. I think it’s about, though, finding a purpose that feels like it’s a part of the collective, because that’s I think that’s what all of us can do.
RG: Sonia, with all of that you’ve seen and experienced as a South Asian woman carving out your authentic narrative, what advice would you give to everyone watching, listening and reading this? Who wants to be more proactive in a cause that they believe in to actually get up in action it, no matter what challenge comes with it, because it’s always the perceived challenge that stops us from achieving our destiny rather than being victim to it. What are your thoughts around that? Because you’ve done this.
SJ: It’s a great question. Raj and I have a lot of conversations about this regularly with a lot of people in my life who are trying to find their purpose and trying to figure out how to get unstuck from the minutae of the realities of their life and the constraints that they feel exist, that are sort of keeping them in this vortex, that doesn’t feel fulfilling. And really, what I can say is a couple of things: one, not to be negative, but you’re right, it’s not easy. It is not easy and it involves a tremendous amount of clarity. It has to be clear to you. What is igniting your soul? What is calling to you? What is that quiet whisper internally actually trying to say to you when you shut out the noise of the world? Because when you can tune into that, you can start to feed that voice. You can start to enable it to get louder, you can connect with it more and more. And that is what breeds clarity. That is what breeds certainty. And that certainty breeds passion and that certainty breeds confidence. And that certainty breeds action because what I will say is when I hit that inflection point in my life. It was like a force from within. I’m getting goose bumps right now. I was like a force. I really was. It sounds hokey, but I was unstoppable and not because it was easy and not because I knew I would succeed. It was scary. It was terrifying. But despite those feelings, I just knew that the only thing I could do to be able to look myself in the mirror take action and take responsibility for the fact that I was going to move in the direction that felt clear and aligned regardless of the consequences, regardless of success. And so, yes, it feels scary. Yes, it feels too big to take on. Yes, it feels larger than life, and everybody else is already doing it. And what are you even going to bring to the table? And who are you with this one individual to put yourself out there to advocate for whatever it is that you believe in?
But I am a living example that you don’t need to have the answers. You just need to tune in to what your gut is telling you. You need to do because the answers come and the action comes and the universe conspires and it all comes together to support your journey and your purpose. Once you decide that you’re willing to put yourself out there and so it’s not, it’s not an easy formula I’m giving you. Find a mentor and then get some seed money and launch yourself. It’s not that I wish it was that cut and dry. The journey is so different for all of us, but we’re so caught up in the external noise. So few of us have the clarity around what would we even be passionate about if we were allowed? And so that is my advice. Tune in. Give yourself permission to tune in and do it without fear because you don’t have to do anything about it yet. You don’t have to make this into a big roaring success. You can just take time to get clear on who you really are and what you really stand for. And then from there, what you choose to do with it will be your journey. But you can’t do it until you know what that voice is saying. And in this world of social media that we live in, it is only getting harder and harder to push out the external stimulus. So that would be my advice. Quiet the noise. Connect and be really honest with yourself because the answers may not be what you were hoping they were going to be. Your values may not be what you thought they were going to be or what you were taught to believe they are. But that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, and it doesn’t mean that there isn’t magic within them. It’s about having the courage to then honor what that is and then see where it goes, right? The journey continues for all of us.
RG: Sonia, so much to sit with for people, so much, you know, insight and, you know, experience that you’ve had around these kind of narratives that, you know, all kind of thrown on us. And we have to figure out where we fit into all of that and why I say thank you so much for being on the show and for sharing your perspectives with a global audience. And congratulations again for being one of our valued honorees of The ANOKHI ADVOCATE List 2021. Thank you so much for your time.
SJ: Thank you, Raj. It’s such an honour and just thank you for all that you do to advocate for all of us. You know, we’re doing our part, but we can only do our part because you had paved the way for us. So thank you. And honestly, what is happening to me today? I’m so grateful. Thank you so much for this honour.
RG: Absolutely, my dear.