Mental health is just as important as physical health: Shahzad Malik

Author of ‘Dare To Be You’, Shahzad Malik has inspired many through his book that brings focus to mental health challenges faced by an individual.

MM News spoke to the author of Pakistan’s first self help book to find out more. 

MM news: Please tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to write this book.

Shahzad Malik: I completed my Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bentley University. Upholding the family tradition, I have also ventured into the foam business. Since taking over, I have revamped the product line, expanded beyond Pakistan, and updated the look of the Master brand to reflect the modern era. I am associated with the Group as a Director and am currently the Managing Director of Master Wind Energy Limited. I am also passionate about music and noticing the subtleties of the world around me.

I’ve been lucky to grow up with privilege, but even despite that, I found myself stuck in a loop of making sub-optimal decisions. Eventually, it came to a point during my teenage years where I was introduced to self-help books and biographies of people who had ‘made it’ like Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, and Jack Welsh. I was instantly roped in, and I started seeing a common pattern of behavior between all of them. Similarly, with the self-help books I was reading (and have been reading since), I found that each author focused on one particular aspect of self-development. There was no book that really constituted a bit of everything—a starter kit for someone who wanted to pick up a self-help book and really understand the basics of working on themselves. Looking back, I think it was the combination of the two that led to the concept behind Dare to be You. I wanted people to have a basic platform from where they can begin their journey towards self-actualization.

MM news: Do you think Pakistan is ready to embrace the self-help genre?

Shahzad Malik: Of course! There is no question about it. We, as individuals, are programmed to focus on the negatives. We focus more on our bad experiences, ruminating about them, and overthinking about what the future could hold. Of course, the news doesn’t help much with it. But we also see so many Pakistanis who go out of their way to help other people—complete strangers even. After all, it’s the people that allow us to collectively become one of the most hospitable nations in the world. Self-help involves the same principles as helping someone else; it’s just focused inward. And through the process of self-development, we’re actually able to not just achieve more ourselves, but also to lift the people around us higher.

MM news: Mental health awareness is an increasingly highlighted subject. How do you think Dare to be You will help its readers?

Shahzad Malik: While I was writing ‘Dare to be You’, I was very conscious of the fact that a self-development book should never talk down to its reader. And so the book is written more like a conversation with a friend. It builds upon the already-familiar sense of hospitality that comes so innately to all of us. Another aspect of the book is that anyone can pick it up and make sense of it. While it addresses heavy topics, the book itself is not heavy at all. Regardless of where you are in life, Dare to be You is just the little push you need. It’s a great way to take your first step towards self-development.

MM news: How do you hope to reduce the stigma around mental health and seeking therapy in Pakistan?

Shahzad Malik: I honestly don’t understand why the stigma exists in the first place. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and they both go together hand in hand. My hope would be that through reading the book and pondering over what the book talks about more people will become aware that it’s completely human and natural for everyone to have ups and downs in their life. And that we all have the potential to fight through our downs and rise back up again.

MM news: If we were to summarize 3 key learnings from the book for our readers, what would they be?

Shahzad Malik: It’s very hard to point out just three key learnings from the book because it touches upon a number of topics. But if I had to, I would probably say: believing, being grateful, and being more forgiving, especially towards our own selves.

MM news: Dare to Be you prides itself to be the first English self-development book in the country. How is your debut endeavor different from Qasim Ali Shah’s urdu writings on the subject in the same genre?

Shahzad Malik: Qasim Ali Shah’s writings have inspired and helped a number of people, as do his talks and trainings. I think it would be unfair to compare his works with this book and vice versa. I think the hope is that all such works end up serving the reader and helping in one way or the other.

MM news: What do you hope to achieve from writing this book?

Shahzad Malik: My only hope is that it helps the readers. That anyone who picks up the book finds themselves having taken the first step on their journey of self-development, and that they are able to actualize their passions and their dreams.

MM news: How difficult is it in Pakistan for a writer with little to no means and relevant network to publish a book?

Shahzad Malik: There are a number of publishing houses that are now operational in Pakistan, which is a very heartening thing to see. This wasn’t the case even a couple of years ago when the book was not yet at the publishing stage. And now the internet has made it a lot easier for all of us to express ourselves and put our thoughts and ideas out there, including through publishing a book.

MM news: What is next for Shahzad Malik?

Shahzad Malik: I have been involved with motivational speaking and talks with a recent one that took place in Washington about how to work in Pakistan and be an agent of change, so I enjoy doing this. People have been asking me about writing another book, but for right now I want to focus on Dare to be You and work on its Urdu version.

MM news: Any parting advice for our readers?

Shahzad Malik: Never ever stop believing in yourself. You are, without any shred of doubt, capable of much more than you let yourself believe. Never give up!

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