My name is Brian Pennie and I am an author, speaker, PhD candidate, university lecturer, and life-change strategist. My life used to be very different, however. On October 8 2013, I experienced my first day clean after 15 years of chronic heroin addiction.
Addiction nearly killed me, but on that fateful day in October, I received a gift. Call it what you will: a perspective shift, an awakening, or simply dumb luck — that’s not important – what matters, is that it completely changed the course of my life.
In what seemed like an instant, the world seemed to glow. Colours were more colourful. Sounds were more cheerful. Things that were once hollow were now full of depth. I felt more alive than ever before and I haven’t looked back since.
Captivated by this sudden change, I started to question why I felt so alive. I didn’t see it at first, but then it hit me. It had tortured me my entire life. The voices in my head, the stories that I spun myself – the ones that drove my anxiety and, in turn, my addiction – they were gone. For as long as I could remember, thinking had consumed me – my mind racing about what I thought needed to do – but the voices were silent and my anxiety was gone. The race was over and my new life had begun.
With a newfound love of learning, I embraced a second chance at life and went to university to study the complexities of human behaviour. I had so many questions: What is the relationship between overthinking and anxiety? What is a perspective shift? Why did I feel so alive? Why do people suffer? How can I help others escape their suffering?
This set me off on an amazing journey, but there were several bumps along the way. In early 2016, my competitive nature led me astray. I became so obsessed with university that anxiety and overthinking – the things that drove me towards addiction – came back into my life.
That light, joyful feeling I was gifted back in detox had disappeared. Life had lost its colour, its energy, its soul. What shocked me most, however, was that I hadn’t even noticed. How did I not see it? How did I lose the most profound thing that had ever happened to me without even realising?
Floored by this sudden realisation, I doubled down on my mental and emotional wellbeing and developed what I call a ‘programme for life’. This program includes a vast range of tools and strategies that focus on self-awareness, decision-making, and mind-set change strategies, as well as tactics to help people to boost their energy, find their life purpose, recognise negative thought patterns, and successfully navigate the relationships in their lives.
Implementing this programme had an incredible impact on my life. I acquired a substantial publishing deal to write my first book. I won several academic awards including a fully funded (€100,000) PhD scholarship in Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. I secured lecturing positions at both Trinity College and University College Dublin where I teach the neuroscience of mindfulness and addiction. I’ve built amazing relationships with internationally recognised experts in the areas of leadership and self-development. I built a successful speaking career where I’ve presented my work at many conferences, seminars and events around the world. I’ve also become the happiest and most energetic person I know.