Jim Curtis has spent his career in health information, from helping develop WebMD to now serving as president of digital health publisher Remedy Health Media.
In his latest venture, the South Street Seaport resident is sharing his own story. “The Stimulati Experience: 9 Skills for Getting Past Pain, Setbacks, and Trauma to Ignite Health and Happiness” (out Aug. 8, Rodale, $25.99) details his 20-year battle with an undiagnosed illness — and the tools he’s developed to overcome pain.
Though geared toward those with chronic illness, Curtis said anyone could benefit from the book. “We all have this underlying feeling of, ‘Am I good enough? Do I really deserve this? Am I adequate?’ If we can just relieve that suffering a little bit, you can live a better life.”
amNewYork spoke with Curtis, 41, about his experience.
Curtis defines a “stimulati” as someone who “ignites passion, thought and wellness.” After 20 years seeking out everything from reiki to acupuncture to cryotherapy to treat his pain, he found his own stimulati. They include teacher Kadam Morten Clausen of the Kadampa Meditation Center in Chelsea; Adam Kaplin, a psychiatrist affiliated with Johns Hopkins Hospital, with whom Curtis created the anxiety-tracking app Mood 24/7; and career coach Denise Spatafora.
Their teachings inspire the book’s lessons, which address feelings such as shame, anger and fear and can help “create a road map to be able to feel better, or get out of the illness mindset,” Curtis said.
“Everybody’s talking about meditation today,” Curtis said. “That’s for a reason: It works.”
Curtis has been practicing for several years, beginning with metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation. Today he regularly goes to the Kadampa Meditation Center.
“When I got more serious, I saw a real change in my ability to handle stress,” Curtis said. “There’s a calmness and a confidence that comes after you’ve practiced meditation often. And that calmness and confidence lowers inflammation from stress in your body.”
In a city where you can get annoyed walking down the street, “we’re constantly in a state of stress and inflammation,” he said. “That takes a toll on your body. It’s so important to fight that.”
Having a morning routine is really important, Curtis said. “You don’t want to roll out of bed, throw your clothes on and get to work late — that sets you up for a bad day.”
Another self-care tool Curtis uses is tapping — a technique that focuses on acupressure points of the body to relieve stress and anxiety.
From Aug. 4-8, all proceeds from sales of the book will go to Project Sunshine, a nonprofit Curtis volunteers for that provides free educational and recreational programs for children with medical challenges.
“We’re learning now that there’s a better way to live — that we can lower our stress and anxiety,” Curtis said. “If we start with kids having these skills, they are going to have tremendously better lives.”