“How we find happiness doesn’t matter, it just matters that we do. Whether it’s sipping a favorite tea in the morning, laughing like a child, or buying flowers, we need to find that daily dose of happiness and weave it into the fabric of our lives.”
– Nitika Chopra, founding Editor-in-Chief of Bella Life, television host, coach & motivational speaker
Interview by Tabby Biddle
Nitika Chopra is on a mission to help people around the globe make happiness a habit and live a colorful, vibrant life. Having gone through her share of struggles, her personal mission statement today is “to show people that love is possible in every moment.” Based in New York City, Nitika is a television host, motivational speaker, coach, and the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Bella Life, an online magazine helping people discover what brings out the color in their world. Nitika is all about spirit, joy, laughter, love and passion! This Goddess brings vibrance to everything she does!!
Tabby Biddle: You launched Bella Life almost one year ago. Congratulations! What inspired you to start it?
Nitika Chopra: I was constantly searching for what I was meant to do. I have always believed that we all have a purpose on this earth. I honestly prayed for almost three years for clarity and asked God to show me what my truth was, what I was meant to do in this life. Well after much searching I finally realized my dream in life was to have my very own talk show, but I had NO idea how to do that! Instead of giving up where I was unsure, I dove right in to the things I DID know — like creating content, networking, coaching, and taking care of others. That’s where Bella Life was created, through focusing on the message I was meant to share, that love, joy and vibrant color are possible in every moment no matter what life throws your way.
TB: What have been some of the greatest challenges in creating and building your business?
NC: I think one of my biggest challenges is my own mind! In 2010 I went through a major growth process with the compare and despair pitfall. I found myself forgetting the growth I had made that week, day or month as soon as a friend or peer achieved something I hadn’t or something I feared I might never achieve. It was the worst and I don’t recommend it. Also a big challenge for me is that my workload literally tripled with the launch of Bella Life. Finding balance with my finances, social life, and work has been more challenging then ever, but it’s so vital to a healthy business and self.
TB: You have a background in television hosting. With the launch of Bella Life, are you still hosting?
NC: I actually just did a shoot this morning with Anne Taylor, which was fun. But since I started Bella Life – and I also have a full-time job on top of that – I don’t audition as much anymore. So I decided to create something on my own. We are going to be launching it this month. It’s called Burst TV. It’s about bringing a burst of color to your world through video. That’s what I am going to be working on in terms of hosting from here on out.
TB: Talk to me more about Burst TV.
NC: The whole reason I was moved to start Bella Life was because I was trying to figure out how to share this message that I had inside of me with the world. There are so many different ways to share your message. Everyone has their own way. I really love the camera. The medium of television is really exciting to me because I feel like I can be in New York City in my apartment and talk to thousands and thousands of people around the world in such a personal and intimate way. I love that the camera allows you to do that.
NC: At a very young age I went through incredibly challenging circumstances. When I was 12, I realized I could choose to be miserable or I could choose to live in total happiness. I chose the latter because something inside of me — which I know now is the spirit that lives with in us all — said “It will be ok.” I felt isolated for most of my childhood, which again gave me a choice. I could either be isolated and go deep in to depression, or I could figure out what in the world makes NITIKA happy. So I got to work and continue to work on that everyday.
TB: You talked about feeling isolated as a child. What was that about?
NC: When I was 10, I was diagnosed with psoriasis. It’s a skin condition. It’s very common. Most people when they get it, they get it on their elbow or their scalp. But I didn’t get it just a little bit. Within my first year of getting it, from age 10 to 11, it spread from the tip of my foot to the tip of my head, and it covered my entire body.
My parents were always trying to help me and find a cure. I was flown all over the world to try to heal this. I had to stop doing everything I loved. I loved playing soccer and I had to stop. I loved playing tennis and I had to stop. All of my girlfriends would go to the beach on a summer day, or a water park, or a sleepover, and I couldn’t do a lot of those things. That went on for about 10 years.
TB: Then what happened?
NC: When I was 20, the psoriasis took over my body in a whole new way. I got arthritis. From the age of 20 to 25, I was pretty immobile. I wasn’t in a wheelchair, but I couldn’t really do anything without severe pain. I was in bed a lot. I had recently moved to New York, and I didn’t have very many friends because I couldn’t go meet them out for coffee or take the subway because I couldn’t go down the stairs. It was traumatizing for me to have to work through that on a daily basis.
“I was that girl who was feeling like, ‘How am I ever going to be okay?’ I’m very excited about the opportunity to show people that it is possible, and things are going to be okay, but you have to be committed to that.”
TB: Have you always been a spiritual person?
NC: I don’t know if I was spiritual right from the start, but I noticed my spiritual side very early on in life. I have a grandfather who is very active in his religious community in India. I always heard about religion but it was kind of like the way certain Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter, but they don’t read the Bible. I would say that is how I was raised. I am first generation. My parents were always trying to make sure that I was planted in U.S. culture so they didn’t really push me to learn about religion and God and all of that stuff from my culture.
When I was 12, I started listening to this voice that was very peaceful inside of me. I don’t think that anyone told me that it was God, but I think through the years I equated it to that. I really believe that we all have this spirit and this beautiful divine voice within us.
NC: Green is my favorite color. I just love it. I feel like I get lost in it. I look at something green and it reminds me of peace and health. I don’t know what it is, but it just lights me up inside.
TB: Speaking metaphorically, what colors would you say are strongest in your life right now?
NC: I would say what is the strongest is me owning my power. That’s been a really exciting journey this past year. I never thought that I would be doing the things that I am doing now, especially coming from the physical state that I was in – to the state that I am now. To think that I was in a shoot today from 4am to 12noon, and here I am walking around and doing my thing. I have meetings booked every day that are going to forward my dream and my mission. I feel like I can finally be proud of myself. I’m excited that I pushed beyond all of these negative conversations that were going on inside of me. That’s really the brightest color right now. I love my business. It’s really an exciting reflection of what I want to share with the world and I am so grateful to be doing it. And I am having so much fun!
TB: What colors need more attention in your life?
NC: Something that definitely needs work is my relationship with my body. For three years I have been trying to get rid of 15 pounds. It’s not a lot of weight, but I think I am really aware of the fact that the 15 pounds are there for other reasons, other than physical reasons. I am not sure what’s it’s going to take to get me to that final step of optimal full health. That’s something I am really focusing on in 2011.
TB: Bella Life advocates taking pleasure in the little things in life. What are some of the little things in life that make you happy?
NC: I love, love, love my dog. I have a little two-and-half pound Yorkie and she is just the apple of my eye. Taking her for a walk and seeing her get really happy is probably one of my favorite things on the planet. I also love music. I’ve been singing since I was about 13. I just love music. It takes me to a place that is really magical. There is something that gets into my bones and my spirit, and I just feel like I am completely connected to the source of my power and my greatness and the source of the world sometimes, if it’s a really good song.
I also love fun girly things. I love being a girl. I love that I can express myself through fashion. I think the fact that we can wear what we want and be girly, or edgy, or if we are in funky mood, we can be scruffy. I just think that is really cool. As an Indian woman, jewelry is a big thing. If you saw my jewelry collection, it’s kind of crazy. I’m completely addicted to jewelry.
TB: The message of Bella Life is that joy, love, and vibrance are possible in every moment no matter what life throws your way. How do you convince someone of that when all they see are the challenges or the negatives?
NC: This is a great question because it is something that is kind of scary for me. I really believe in the healing process, and I feel like a lot of things that are packaged in the self-help world go straight to the feeling good part. I don’t think that I’ve completely found the right medium to expressing the healing as much as I would like to. Bella Life, however, is trying to accomplish this as much as we can by having authentic stories by our contributors. My contributors are sharing their stories so vulnerably. I think that is really great because it gives readers a chance to really look within. We all learn from hearing about other people’s growth and journeys.
Our contributors are also very active on our site. If you have a comment or a question, they will get back to you. They are really great about taking care of their audience. It’s kind of like having live coaches and leaders right there with you. That’s one way we work with people who are going through a really tough time. But I do wish that I could do that more. I am not quite sure how to do it on Bella Life, but we are going to keep trying. We are going to keep being as honest as possible because I think that it is a huge part of it.
NC: I really like telling stories. I think it comes from my dad. He is really good at giving metaphors, and so that’s something that I’ve always been around. I like sharing with people. In terms of the process, sometimes I do get stuck and I think, “Oh my gosh, how am I ever going to write this?” But as soon as I go into the message that I want to write, it usually just comes out. I typically write in a very conversational way – and I don’t have trouble having a conversation [laugh]. The most difficult writing for me is the personal stuff. It’s so funny because I am not a shy person, and not very private – but that conversation is harder for me to share. I don’t seem to get it as easily as I would like to, but I’m working on it.
TB: As the Founder and Editor-in Chief of Bella Life with over 20 female contributors, what have you learned about leadership?
NC: That it’s not about the leader! The most beautiful moments while spearheading this colorful movement is when I focus on the essence of the person or group of people I am leading. Being a leader is an honor and a privilege and any leader who brings that energy to their platform will be a great leader.
TB: What do you mean by focusing on the essence of the person or group of people?
NC: When you are leading a group of people, you can kind of get a sense of where they are at. Whether you are leading a group of people who are really inspired and really excited to take on the next chapter of their life, or you are leading a group of people who are going through a tough time — it’s about whatever the conversation is in the room. If we are in tune with the people around us, we can usually sense the conversation around us. Focusing on that is more important than trying to impress people. It’s really about focusing on the heart of the room or the person you are in front of. That allows you to have compassion that most people don’t always bring to the table. It allows you to bring love into the conversation. I think having a loving, compassionate spirit is natural when you are aware of the group that you are talking to.
TB: You have had a few different careers along your path. I think there are many women who have had different careers on their journey, but maybe haven’t yet found what they are truly here to do. What advice would you offer them?
NC: I mentioned earlier that I went through years of my life not feeling fulfilled or not feeling like I had found my purpose, and that was while I was trying out the many careers you mentioned. While people around me thought that I lacked focus because I tried so many things, I now see I actually did myself a great service by exploring. I am using all of these tools in what I am doing today with Bella Life. My advice is: Don’t be afraid to take risks and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You can visit Bella Life at www.yourbellalife.com.
Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer, editor, and consultant dedicated to amplifying the voices of women changemakers. She works with women entrepreneurs on writing projects to help them get their message out, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post on women’s issues and human rights. Ms. Biddle’s work has been featured by the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, Current TV and other online media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband.