Heart & Soul: Gary Niemen
At Spotify, we believe in building a healthier, emotionally well environment where everyone can be their very best. Our Heart & Soul initiative aims to reduce the stigmas around mental health through education, open dialogue, and shared experiences and understanding, and opens a safe forum for discussion around self care.
Our Heart & Soul Ambassadors are a diverse group of Spotifiers from around the world dedicated to driving and implementing Heart & Soul. They ensure local and cultural aspects are taken into consideration at our global offices and help create community everywhere. This month we caught up with Stockholm Engineer Gary Niemen about his experiences with staying well.
Who is your biggest Heart & Soul inspiration?
Somebody I really admire is (author and life coach) Tony Robbins. Okay, he can be a bit loud and so on – but he’s a very special person. The way that he takes all the aspects of wellbeing into account is very inspiring.
Why did you choose to be a Spotify Heart & Soul Ambassador? What does it mean to you?
I’ve been interested in wellness for all of my adult life and since I’ve suffered from mental health issues myself it means a lot to me. Therefore, this involvement in the Heart & Soul initiative at Spotify is like a dream come true for me.
How do you stay focused on your own mental health?
In a way, I have an addictive personality – but I have managed to channel this into staying healthy in both mind and body. I do the Five Rites morning routine and meditate every weekday. I do yoga once a week, run twice a week, cycle to work, and do muscle maintenance at the gym. In addition to this I always make sure to maintain and take great care of the relationships in my life.
People say that I am very disciplined but I don’t really see it like that – I just enjoy feeling good.
If you could say just one thing about mental health to the whole world, what would it be?
Lead a balanced life and work towards a place where you enjoy every day. Make sure to take care of yourself through regular practices for mind, body, and soul, in a way that works for you.
What role does music play in having positive mental health and wellbeing?
Emotional fluidity is very important for me. I like to keep the flow. Music can really help me to let out my emotions and I enjoy songs that speak to overcoming struggle.
Who is your biggest music influence when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, and why?
It has to be Sia. She’s had her struggles with alcohol I believe, and many of her songs have a similar theme of survival, strength and never giving up. I love the feeling of determination and overcoming difficulties in her songs.
Do you remember a specific moment when music helped you through a difficult situation?
Yeah. There was a time when I was home from University and feeling really low. I missed my friends and it felt weird living back with my parents. I was listening to the radio and “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood came on. I was transported, mesmerized – it reminded me of what was important in life.
Do you have a specific go-to song that always cheers you up? Or a song that makes you cry?
Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell is an astonishing and wise song that is very special to me. And Teenage Kicks by the Undertones – the pure youthful energy.
One song that describes your heart?
Imagine by John Lennon.
One song that describes your soul?
Never Give Up by Sia.