Self Mastery

Run Free: The Paradox of Cultivating True Freedom

Run free.

I've been thinking about freedom & liberation a lot lately.

It's a dense & complex subject. In yogic philosophy it is referred to as Moksha, or freedom from ignorance.

Freedom is one of my highest personal values. In all its infinite forms. Freedom to choose the people we spend our time & energy with. Freedom to choose our work -- what we put our physical, mental, emotional & spiritual energy into. Freedom to express ourselves with power & authenticity.

Ultimately, what I want & choose daily is freedom to live a life that has heart & meaning.

But how can we have this freedom & liberation if we do not know ourselves?

Self-knowledge is the key to liberation. Without it we are lost to ourselves and lost to the world.

And in both cases we are left useless. Useless to ourselves because we are chained to a life that doesn't reflect our true inner desires & values. And in turn we are useless to others because if we cannot serve & lead our Self then how can we ever do that with lasting impact for others?

The answer is we cannot.

Nonetheless, self-knowledge is an ever unfolding lifelong process. It is not something you achieve and then you never have to work on it again. It is an integral part of our daily quest.

And here is the kicker:

If we truly want to cultivate self-knowledge & self-actualization. If we truly want to be free. Then we must create & hold ourselves to empowering boundaries & restraints. This is the paradox of true freedom.


It seems so paradoxical that we must have boundaries & restraints to achieve true freedom & liberation. But that is the lay of life. It is constantly brimming with paradox.

We must choose physical activity & emotional development over sloth & hatred. Laziness & unchecked darker emotions are easy. Choosing & cultivating physical & emotional fitness requires restraint from the easy path & boundaries that call forth our highest selves.

How easy is it to lash back in anger when someone says or does something that doesn't sit well with us?

How much easier is it so sit on the couch and watch some TV versus getting out of the house to take a hike, hit the gym or even take a walk around the neighborhood?

Furthermore, it takes powerful boundaries to choose health-affirming substances to put into our bodies & minds in a world that is constantly programming & encouraging us through all media channels to poison ourselves with information, food, alcohol & drugs.

Over-consuming is not freedom when you are left with a body that is too heavy & lacking energy, a mind that is screaming in anxiety, a fearful heart & a dwindling spirit.

We must actively pursue self-study, meditation & prayer. For these to occur we must create containers in which they can flourish. This takes vigilant effort in a world addicted to information & convenience.

It requires a powerful stand to turn within when we live in a world that is constantly pulling for our outward focus. Yet we must do it if we are to grow our mental & spiritual capacity.

Powerful boundaries & restraints that are consciously & proactively built into our life to foster ever deepening self-knowledge will set us free.

Self-dominion is the true path to freedom, liberation & self-actualization.

As we find our Self. We find our place in the world. As we serve our Self. We serve the world & its people.

And that is freedom running at full speed.

Some of my current constraints, restraints & boundaries that empower my true freedom:

  • Food Journaling: I log my food every day for everything I consume and have been doing so since September of 2013. How it empowers my freedom:

    • It encourages me to be mindful of what and how much I am eating while still allowing me to enjoy all foods (including ice cream, cookies, pizza, etc.)

    • This practice has lead me to be in the best shape of my life year-round. Being able to take my shirt off and feel good in body is one of the most liberating feelings.

    • This constraint frees me from using food like a drug (which I did for most of my life) and it keeps me from abusing my body with over-consumption.

    • Feel free to add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal if you want to see what I eat (my food diary is public).

  • Meditation: I have been meditating every day and have been since April of 2015 without missing single a day. How it empowers my freedom:

    • Meditation has been used throughout all time and all civilizations to cultivate self-knowledge. It is one of the tried & true paths to Self liberation. More on meditation here.

    • My meditation practice is the foundation & platform upon which I build my entire life. Each day of meditation makes the foundation a little wider and a little deeper.  You can't build a skyscraper that reaches the stars without an incredibly strong foundation. In truth, you can't even build a solid & reliable 1-story house without a foundation.

  • Sobriety: I have been sober from marijuana & other harder drugs since February of 2013 and sober from alcohol since September of 2014. How it empowers my freedom:

    • For over a decade I was a slave to alcohol. My entire life revolved around the consumption of it. This led to even deeper enslavement to marijuana, adderrall & worse for over 5-years. During my addiction I thought I was free, but in truth I was chained to a life that required substances for me to be even be remotely happy or excited about life.

    • It took me a few years to remember how to have fun without drugs & alcohol but I finally woke up! And I feel like a kid again! As a child everything was magical and I had so much fun living life with a sense of wonder and I didn't need any drugs to get into that blissful state. I've rediscovered that super-power and I'm literally constantly high on life! This is ultimate freedom to me!

    • Vibing with my sobriety & high on life existence...? Here's a live video I filmed recently about it!

  • Physical Training: I am predominantly a bodybuilder & yogi but I also walk, hike, bike, rollerblade & trampoline weekly along with other forms of movement (swimming, frisbee, fitness classes, massage, etc.). How this empowers my freedom:

    • This is self-knowledge at the primal level. Knowing your body is knowing your Self. This daily practice removes ignorance & encourages connection to Self.

    • Training my body trains my mind, emotions and even my spirit. Being fit in all major life areas is a high form of liberation.

  • Reading/Listening: Every day I read & listen to empowering knowledge. How this empowers my freedom:

    • You are what you consume. If you consume empowering material you become empowered. If you consume garbage your life becomes garbage.

    • This practice is one of my major keys that keeps me constantly healing, growing & transforming.

  • Creating/Sharing In Service: Everyday I try to create something that will empower another life. Whether it's a blog post, a video, Facebook update, Instagram or creating an experience in-person with someone I always try to live from the guiding question: "Is what I am doing empowering & of service to others?" How this empowers my freedom:

    • Being of service in a way that I am authentically & personally passionate about is easily one of the best ways to get high on life for me. Each time I do it I am filled with an incredible energy & sense of satisfaction that I cannot seem to get any other way.

Alchemical Opportunity For The Reader:

What are the constraints, restraints & boundaries that you can proactively create & cultivate in your life now to truly give you the life of freedom you desire & deserve?

Leave me a comment below, send me an email or tweet me with your answer!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒


  1. Originally this was an Instagram post that ended up being too long so I only posted part of it. It was inspired by one of my amazing yoga teachers, Hana Raftery, after receiving her class/teaching focused on Moksha on Independence Day (July 4th).
  2. Photos by Noelle Johnson.


    ALN2: What's Your Vision?

    When the communication & contact between self & the Creator become pure, then this we call Vision.
    — Stalking Wolf 🐺

    Greetings my dear Life Alchemists! 🙌🏼

    Here are 10 things I thought were worthy* to share:
    *worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.

    SPECIAL NOTE: Several readers brought up the point that my last newsletter was very "dense." To graciously clarify: it is designed that way so that you can go back to it again & again throughout the month whenever you need some empowering energy for your life. I do NOT recommend trying to read & do everything in one day. Just bookmark the html version and pop it open whenever you need some creative fuel.

    1. For my 35th birthday last month I went on a Vision Quest. I wanted to kick-off a new phase in my life & this was the most powerful way I could think of. This experience included an entire week spent in the wilderness. For 4 of those days I was FASTING (water only) in complete solitude & silence. This is an ancient form of experiential transformation. And oh my God! It was the most powerful experience I've ever undergone! Curious? Send me a message with any questions. I am compiling my thoughts on Vision Quests and would love to cover any common questions/concerns. Also, I would be happy to refer you to where & with who I did my Quest if you feel the call. I highly recommend going on a Vision Quest if you feel lost or stuck in life.  They are designed to make you remember why you came here (to Earth). If you want to do your own research here is an awesome book on Vision Quests (opening quote is from the book).

    2. I finally started vlogging (video blogging) and I am loving doing it "Live" on Instagram & Facebook (please follow me to see my "Live Stories" -- always full of empowering content!). Here is one episode I saved & posted on embracing fearmistakesfailure & creating empowering meaning in your life:

    3. My most popular Instagram post in the last month. A short snippet about "choosing your possibility." 

    4. My current favorite tool/toy... a fat-loss monitor! I use this to track trends in my body-fat levels. They say "what gets measured gets managed" & I can attest to this! By tracking & logging my body-fat daily I've managed to stay well under 10% body-fat (visible 6-pack) for over 2 years.

    5. Why it is so empowering to have people that are HONEST with you (aka Why I Was Killing My Relationship & My Life). Especially when you are in a rut (yes, I am human and fall into slumps as well).

    6. Monthly homage: Shout-out to my dear friend & fellow blogger Kevin Gao (also serial entrepreneur). He was absolutely pivotal in my personal unfolding as a blogger. He is brilliant, funny, a very deep thinker & is always sharing life-enhancing material. Check out his creative work at!

    7. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins - book I'm re-reading for awesome personal growth & development. 🔥 Yup, still re-reading this! Old me used to rip through books as if speed was the only way to read. I still consume massive amounts of books but lately I have added slow & deliberate re-reading into my personal growth repertoire. I was inspired by Kevin (above) to do this. I will read 1-3 pages and deeply think, write & talk about what I read and learned. I personally discovered that this facilitates deep learning (meaning I actually use the ideas/concepts in my real life AND they stick with me).

    8. Speaking of books I finally put together my personal list of Books That Have Radically Transformed My Life! 📚 Do you have any life-changing books that are NOT on this list? If so, please share with me! I am looking for the next epically life-impacting book(s)!

    9. Here is an awesome & brilliant short read about The 6 Human Needs. Two of them are: (1) Certainty & (2) Uncertainty... LOL! No wonder we always feel so conflicted in life!

    10. My biggest recent learning: Experiment, test & play with everything that you think may even have a slight chance of empowering & enhancing your life. You never know what will really "work" for you until you try it. This has been a game-changer for me! It unlocked me from only writing & creating on my blog. My sense of creative freedom jumped ten fold. I have been testing (and playing) with every publishing platform I can get my hands on. I've completely fallen in love with Quora and still learning how to best use Medium LinkedIn. And yes, totally obsessing over Instagram & Facebook stories (Live & otherwise)

    Your alchemical opportunityDo something today or this month that SCARES you! Explore those edges! That is where all the awesome growth & transformation happens! 🤘🏼

    Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend! 🙏🏼

    If you're seeing the newsletter for first time, you can signup here.

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl 🌒

    P.S. If there was one thing I could write, podcast, or make a video about what would it be? Email me or send me a tweet with your suggestions! Use hashtag #ALN (Alchemize Life Newsletter) for any tweets or Facebook & LinkedIn posts!

    P.P.S. If you missed the April edition of my Newsletter please check it out here! Plenty more awesome material to EMPOWER YOUR LIFE! 🤘🏼

    Books That Radically Transformed My Life

    Reading is one of the things that brings me the most joy in life.

    Reading also happens to be one of the most transformational growth-inducing activities I do daily.

    I've been thinking about putting together a list of books that have radically transformed my life for the better for a long time.

    I finally realized that I may as well start because I will never be done. And I can always come back & update this as I see fit.

    Special note: This is a living-resource that I will continuously curate so don't feel the need to go through all of these as fast as possible. Just pick one book that catches your mind's-eye, take your time with it and come back here for the next one when you're ready!

    So, without further ado, here are...

    Books That Have Radically Alchemized (Transformed) My Life:


    The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

    Julia Cameron is one of my biggest mentors. This book was groundbreaking & truly life-changing. It unleashed me as an artist, creative & writer. It taught me to fall in love with journaling--one of the most empowering transformational tools I have in my repertoire. It also linked creativity as a pathway for spiritual communion. This paradigm radically alchemized my life in infinite ways.

    The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Goden

    Seth Goden is a brilliant writer & thinker. This book unbound me from own creative suppression. It gave me permission to create & share and naturally allow an audience to form around my creative work.

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott

    Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. This book makes me laugh, cry, reel with delight, soar in intellectual & emotional brilliance & so much more. Her writing makes me desperately want to write. Inspiring and great life advice even if one has no interest in writing.

    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

    Mason Currey showed me that art & creativity and the work that goes into producing it comes in all shapes, forms, sizes, colors, shades & walks-of-life. There is no one right way. There is a way that works for you. Our job is to find & harness our unique ways that empower our personal creative process.

    Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things No One Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

    This book gave me permission to "steal" the work of others, combine it with other works in all fields & topics, and alchemize it all together to make it my own. Short. Fun. Powerful. Read this.

    Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

    Austin Kleon taught me that it is not only okay but actually an integral part of the creative process to show your work even as your are developing it (aka before it's "done"). He empowered me to stop hiding my vulnerability & instead use it as a strength & pathway forward.

    Human Potential, Personal Development & Money

    Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

    First read this as a teenager. Radically transformed my life for the better. Went from loaner & playground bully to powerful social force for achievement as well as leader in all areas of life (school, sports, family, etc). It truly unlocked my potential. Aided me getting to Stanford University & beyond. Re-reading again in my 30s and diligently studying & applying. Having same effect it did when I was teenager.

    Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

    Same case as above with Awaken The Giant Within.

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

    Foundational. We are our habits. Everyone should read. Also recommend the teenager version written by the author's son.

    Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney

    This book gave me an obsession with habits. Game-changer. Amazing parenting advice as well. 

    Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

    One of my favorite books on habits & optimal conscious habit-design for your unique temperament. 

    Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

    Probably one of the most timeless & popular success books ever written. There is a reason it's on so many incredibly successful people's must-read book-lists.

    The Master-Key To Riches by Napoleon Hill

    This is a lesser known gem by Napoleon Hill. Short & straightforward, yet you could study it daily for the rest of your life.

    The Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

    Dan Millman and this book made me realize & finally "see" the woman of my dreams. For this I will be forever deeply grateful. It also happens to be a life-changing book in many other ways.

    The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere & Join The New Rich by Tim Ferriss

    I read this when it first came out in 2007. I instantly thought to myself "Finally! I understand who I want to become!" My vision was similar to Tim Ferriss with the human potential & positive transformation leadership, but with my own alchemical fashion-forward spiritual-hipster twist! Ten years later I am finally living that vision. Forever my deepest gratitude to you, Tim Ferriss for helping me understand, see & live my own personal vision.

    Psycho-Cybernetics Maxwell Waltz

    Read this at a super young age (thanks Dad!). Awesome book about harnessing your subconscious & building self-esteem.

    The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    Incredibly dense book. I don't agree with everything in it (in the sense of actually using the power to my advantage), but I can see how some people operate from some of these more questionable power-paradigms. That said, I strongly believe that having knowledge & awareness around power-dynamics is paramount to creating & protecting the life you do want to live.

    Creating Money: Attracting Abundance by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer

    This book finally gave me the spiritual-connection to money that I had been seeking for so long.

    How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    Classic. Another book that is on many super-performers must-read lists. No matter what field of business you are in this will be of the utmost service to your life-journey.

    Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success by Carol S. Dweck

    For a "recovering-perfectionist" like myself this book was life-transforming. I recommend this book to all students (those in formal schooling like high-school & college as well a life-students) and anyone who has kids or ever wants to have kids. This book teaches you how to learn & grow. It teaches you how to cultivate a learning/growth-mindset in your children. Powerful stuff.

    Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

    This book gifted me with one of my core-values: grit (defined as passion & perseverance). A great companion to Mindset (above).

    The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

    Ryan Holiday taught me to "follow the process, not the prize." This led me to fall in love with the journey of writing, blogging, business-building, etc. It is also an essential book to pick-up & re-read whenever one is feeling blocked by an obstacle.

    A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

    A practical guide to the life philosophy of Stoicism and how to apply it in our modern world. The amount of joy I've experienced on a regular basis after reading this book & incorporating the lessons within it has been nothing short of AMAZING! If you read nothing else, just read the part about Negative Visualization. It will change your life for the better!

    The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide To Creating Success On Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte

    This book really helped me get clear on what success really deeply means to me personally (versus being lost to yourself by defining success on other people’s/society’s terms). Great book that leads one to greater Self-Knowledge which is crucial to living a life worth living for!

    Healing, Intuition & Spiritual

    You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

    If I could only give others one book for the rest of my life this would probably be it. It taught me to truly love myself. Get the gift addition (I swear the artistic & colorful pictures empower the healing process).

    Prayers to the great creator by Julia cameron

    This is a book of prayers & declarations for a meaningful life. My Spirit is stirred just about every time I pick up this book & read from it aloud or in my head.

    The Four-Fold Way: Walking The Paths Of The Warrior, Teacher, Healer & Visionary by Angeles Arrien

    Life-changing tools & easy-to-read guidebook on harnessing & building within these four archetypes (warrior, teacher, healer & visionary). I grew up with this book thanks to my Mom. It holds a special place in my heart.

    The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele

    Incredibly applicable way to live the philosophy of Yoga in modern-life. Super easy & fun read too.

    Voyager Tarot: Way of The Great Oracle by James Wanless (plus Voyager Tarot Deck)

    I've been practicing Tarot since 2009 to cultivate my own intuition & build deep self-knowledge. This is my favorite Tarot Deck & its in-depth companion guide.

    The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien (plus Thoth Tarot Deck)

    This is my favorite book on Tarot which is based on Aleister Crowley's Thoth Deck, my other favorite Tarot deck.

    Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook For Identifying & Understanding Your Power Animals & Animal Spirit Helpers by Steven D. Farmer Ph.D.

    Spiritual Hipster incarnate. Yes I am! I traverse this magical world with my pack of Power Animals by my side. My family & friends call me "Dragon" and there is very deep meaning behind this. Want to discover your own power animal and/or develop your own totem animal pack? Read this book.

    The Book Of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ashian

    A key part of being a Spiritual Hipster is working with gemstones. I've studied this book in-depth for years and know I will constantly go back to it for the rest of my life. Check it out if you've ever felt the energetic call of the enigmatic crystal-allies.

    Women Food & God: An Unexpected Path To Almost Anything by Geneen Roth

    For much of my life I abused food like a drug. As a result I had an incredibly damaging relationship with both food & my body. This book was an integral part of the healing process. It was written for women, but if you have any food-issues this book will hit-home.

    Awakening Spirits: A Native American Path To Inner Peace, Healing & Spiritual Growth by Tom Brown, Jr.

    This book inspired me to go on a Vision Quest -- one of the most powerful transformational experiences I've ever undergone. The experience of the quest still continues to unfold its awesome power in my life every day. It also includes the teaching of a very powerful & easy-to-do meditation.

    Fiction, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

    The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

    My favorite Fantasy series of all time. Bar none.

    The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

    My favorite Dragon-themed fantasy series. Dragon is my main power animal so this series holds a special place in my heart. There are also Elves. Another magical soft-spot of mine.

    The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

    Probably my second favorite fantasy series. It's not finished yet (only two books so far).

    Redwall by Brian Jacques

    This was the fantasy book that started my lifelong love-affair with fantasy (my favorite form of pleasure reading). I still vividly remember reading this during a childhood multi-day river-rafting/camping trip.

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    This book taught me to trust the journey and process even when what I am currently doing in life doesn't seem to be leading me where I am supposed to go. It is, it's just in disguise patiently waiting for me to understand, become aware & embrace the journey.

    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

    My favorite Sci-Fi book and the book that caused me to fall in love with Sci-Fi. Ender's Shadow is just as good. I like most whichever I've most recently read.

    Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

    I made fun of my mom & younger brother for about a year for reading "children's books" (how I ignorantly categorized the Harry Potter books). Then I finally began one and I was hooked. Read the first 3-4 books in about a week. That's how good it was. It also happens to be one of the few fiction series I've read in entirety more than once.

    And that's it!  For now... 🤓 📚 🙌🏼

    Do you have any books that radically changed your life that are not on this list? If so, please share! Leave me a comment (scroll all the way down), email me, or send me a tweet with your suggestion! 🙏🏼

    I am always on the lookout for Life-Alchemizing books and I would love to add your favorite to this list after falling in love with it myself!

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl 🌒

    Habit-Stacking: How To Get More Life Out Of Good & Bad Habits

    I'm obsessed with habits.

    Ever since I read the book Willpower almost 4 years ago I have been studying them diligently.

    I've been studying them in my own life, both the good ones & the bad ones.  I've also been studying the habits of people I admire & aspire to be like - both living & dead.

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
    — Will Durant

    This quote (often mistakenly attributed to Aristotle) sums up the "why" behind my obsession with habits.

    Habits can be a vast subject when you get into all the nitty-gritty, but in this article I want to cover just one strategy. Something I like to call Habit-Stacking.

    Habit-Stacking: Combining two or more habits together to build, support & reinforce each other and/or to negate the effects of potentially negative or undesirable habits.

    In its simplest form habit-stacking is combining two or more habits together.  This empowers you to do more in the same amount of time.  It also empowers you to reinforce good habits as well as use a bad habit to encourage good behavior.

    There are two major themes of habit-stacking in my mind:

    Plus/Plus (+/+) Habit-Stacking

    This is using two or more positive habits to build, support, & reinforce each other.  Some personal examples in my life are:

    • Listening to audio books & educational programs while commuting (driving, flying, train, subway, biking, walking, etc). This one habit-stack radically increased the rate at which I get through books & high-quality personal development programs
    • Flossing with a floss-pick while driving, biking, walking, etc. Basically, anytime I am commuting where I don't feel too self-conscious flossing. Combine this with the habit-stack above & you have a ménage à trois habit-stack!
    • Reading on a cardio machine. This includes paper & electronic books as well as online articles. I save as much of my online reading (with the Pocket app) for the cardio machines.
    • Work email on a cardio machine--elliptical, stationary biking, treadmill on incline, etc. I've trained myself to get through massive amounts of email on my iPhone while moving. I even do it while walking outdoors in low-traffic, safe areas where I don't need to worry about walking into dangerous things like cars. Work email will be there every week guaranteed. Make it work for your fitness.
    • Anytime I can take a phone call while walking outdoors I seize the opportunity. This simple habit-stack adds up huge over time (5-10+ hours of walking per week). I use a headset and take notes on my iPhone when needed.
    • Exercising outdoors while getting sunlight (see title picture). There is a ton of published research that supports the mental/emotional/physical benefits of exercise (movement) & spending time in nature. Why not combine the two together and maximize your life?! I also claim there is a huge spiritual benefit as many of my most divine moments happen while moving in nature. 🌲😇⛰

    Plus/Minus (+/-) Habit-Stacking

    This is taking a potentially negative, mindless, or undesirable habit and using it to reinforce positive life-enhancing habits. Here are some of mine:

    • Combining social media with some form of cardio (stationary cardio machine or walking). I have a personal rule that I spend at least 80% of my social media time moving in some form. Like many people I can freely admit social media is addicting and I easily lose track of time. It's pretty awesome to come up for air from the black-hole of social media and realize you just did over 30 minutes of cardio.
    • Audio books, podcasts & other personal development auditory material while cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, yardwork, & other weekly chores. For some, these habits/tasks, such as cooking, are pleasurable. For me they are undesirable, but necessary in life. When I throw on a positive & transformative audio program suddenly these mundane tasks become awesome to me.

    My current favorite habit-stack:

    Doing everything I can think of on my FitDesk - brushing my teeth, flossing, email, writing/blogging, social media, talking on the phone, reading books & online articles, watching videos, etc. Over a week this adds up. I easily get in 5-10+ hours of additional low impact exercise each week because of this. This leads to greater weekly calorie burn & supports optimal year-round fitness (more strategies like this in my free Fitness Guide: How To Be An Ultra Fit Entrepreneur).

    Here I am on my  FitDesk  doing the final edits of this article.   🤓🚴🏼💻  #habitstacking    Shoes by  Android Homme  | Painting by  Carly Lyn Wise

    Here I am on my FitDesk doing the final edits of this article. 🤓🚴🏼💻 #habitstacking

    Shoes by Android Homme | Painting by Carly Lyn Wise

    Habit-Stack Every Area Of Your Life

    The beautiful thing about habits is that once you have them built you do not have to burn precious willpower trying to do them. They become second-nature.  And then you can apply that freed up resource of willpower to tackle more difficult projects (or build new awesome habits).

    There are an infinite number of habit-stacks you can create. Chances are that you already have some awesome ones in place.  As part of my never-ending quest to optimize my life I am always looking for new habit-stacks so if you have any that you would like to share please email me, tweet me with #habitstacking, or leave a comment below.

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl 🌒

    P.S. The 3 best books I've read on habits so far are: Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierny, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin & The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Got any other good books/resources on habits? Please share! 🙏🏼😄💓



    Purpose & Power Is Found Within & Exercised Without

    More & more I am coming into the habit of looking inside for power.

    Power defined as the ability to act and to do.

    In the past I often fooled myself by seeking power outside of myself. Thinking it was out there. Somewhere to be found.

    That something outside could give me the what & the why...

    Somebody, some thing, some organization could unleash what I knew has been lying dormant.

    I've come to believe that the world will give us hints of our inner power. It will provide assistance in the discovery.

    The outside world will reflect back to us what is inside waiting for us.

    For me this has shown up as magical synchronous events that seem to have a common golden thread running throughout.

    Moments that light me up & call me forth. Moments that resonate with my True Self.

    Timeless times in which I feel at one with myself and with the world.  These precious moments are transcendent.

    Yet, if one doesn't reach out and grab the golden tether one may as well have never noticed it in the first place.

    That chord of energy will continue to just float around unused.

    Ah, but when we do seize upon that alchemical cord it electrifies us! Fills us up!

    And when we act upon it we are left with true power. The power to act in this world and be of service to others and oneself at the same time.

    Action begets action. Doing begets doing.

    Purpose calls forth our limitless supply of energy.

    Strength is found within. It is harnessed by sharing it without.

    Harnessing the inner strength so that I can vitally share it with the world.

    Harnessing the inner strength so that I can vitally share it with the world.

    We all have an innate purpose. We all have innate power to be given to this world in service.

    As we discover and develop a purpose that is greater than ourselves we are called into a "being" that is truly powerful.

    The gift of our journey of life is to discover this purpose and spend our time fulfilling it.

    There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any medium and will be lost...the world will not have it.

    It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
    — Martha Graham in a letter to Agnes De Mille

    Alchemical Learnings:

    1. We all have a purpose. It is our life-duty to discover and/or find purpose & deliver upon it.
    2. Purpose can evolve over time & we can have more than one purpose in life.
    3. Purpose can be discovered by identifying & taking note of synchronous moments and events that make us feel authentic & truly alive.
    4. When we find purpose we find strength (energy) & happiness.
    5. Happiness is a byproduct of fulfilling on purpose.
    6. Having a purpose greater than ourselves creates a sustainable life-affirming power in our life and the life of others.

    Alchemical Resources:

    1. The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider. Plenty of material and exercises in his books & on his website to help one develop purpose.
    2. Landmark Worldwide's seminar "Living Passionately." This is a personal & professional development organization that offers many awesome experiential learning seminars. It can be intense, but it will empower you to grow & transform.
    3. Go on a Vision Quest. My friend Ben at Tribal Edge organizes these every spring & fall.
    4. Have some other resources that have empowered you to discover purpose? Please share in the comments!

    Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

    1. Write down your purpose even if you don't have one fully formulated. Just take a stab at it even if you have no idea. Something is better than nothing. And remember, it can and will likely evolve over time.
    2. Start a "Synchronicity Log". This is simply a record of all the synchronous events that magically appear in your life. Just a brief description and date. Record daily and review weekly. Patterns will begin to emerge. These patterns will empower you to discover purpose. I'm all about making things easy so I just record these in my iPhone note app.
    3. Join up with some sort of organization or individual(s) that have a strong mission that even slightly piques your purpose--business, religious, community, hobby-groups, & inspiring friends all count. Then get active in the group or with the person(s) -- like really participate and notice your purpose come alive. This happened to me with my company Ohmygreen, Landmark, my fiance, & my creative partner at Wild Olympic Art Collective. Through deep interaction with these four powerful forces in my life I was able to refine my purpose into its current working-form: "To empower people & organizations to transform & self-actualize." This purpose is the driving force behind my writing & Alchemize Life.
    4. Still lost on your purpose? Go on Vision Quest or take a seminar at Landmark (links above).

    Purpose is what we get up for in the morning.  When our purpose is authentic and strong we wake up jazzed about life. We wake up with excitement and vigor for life.

    When our purpose is unclear or not the right fit we wake up feeling like we didn't sleep. We're in a fog and we proceed to slog through our day. To be frank, life sucks when we don't have clear purpose. If you find yourself in this place then it is time for you to discover or find a purpose.

    No one can give you purpose unless you decide to take it on. But be careful because if an outside purpose doesn't resonate with your true inner purpose (the reason you came into this world) chaos will ensue at some point. In my life this manifested as drugs, alcohol and other life-killing habits.

    You will know when you have purpose clearly defined because life will flow and you will feel at home in the world. If you are not there yet, don't worry. Just begin the process of discovery and have fun with it!

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl 🌒

    P.S. Please share this article with anyone looking for purpose! And please sign up for my NEWSLETTER to keep your life alchemizing & on fire! 🔥



    The Four Universal Forms of Meditation: Why Sitting Isn't The Only Way To Meditate

    Can't stand the thought of sitting for 20 minutes to meditate? 

    Can barely fathom sitting still for even 5 minutes?

    Does your brain & body hurt just thinking about trying to sit & meditate?

    Is your consciousness f***ed?!

    Definitely not. Maybe your mind, body & emotions are calling for a different mode of meditation. One that accesses another physical posture other than sitting.

    There are other modes of meditation that are just as powerful and harness different, equally important, aspects of human development. 

    Even if you have been hardly awake the last few years, chances are that you have noticed that meditation has become popular in our society. If you haven't noticed and are reading this then you are now caught up with the rest of us. :)

    Honestly, it seems like there has been an epidemic of meditation in the U.S. in recent years. All of the en vogue celebrities & gurus are touting it, there are numerous meditation apps available, and many companies offer it to their employees as a benefit (mine does).

    I think it's awesome that we have reached a point in our society where the emphasis on the development of our consciousness is widely accepted and encouraged. Definitely a tipping point in our evolution as a species in my opinion.

    But what if you've tried traditional seated meditation and for whatever reason can't stick to it or cant stand it no matter how many times and types you've tried . . .  ?

    According to the late Angeles Arrien, PhD, there are four universal forms or postures of meditation found among almost all societies across the globe and throughout our collective history.

    If seated meditation has not been working for you, maybe you are trying too hard or maybe it is time to embrace one of the other ways below. Chances are you already do one or more without even realizing it.

    The Four Universal Forms (or Postures) of Meditation:

    1. Seated Meditation

    According to Arrien, seated meditation accesses WISDOM.  Something all of us could always use more of. 

    Seated meditation embodies the Teacher-Archetype.

    Think of the great wise teachers throughout our history -- Ghandi, Einstein, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Aristotle, Socrates, etc. All of them spent a lot of time in seated meditation. Within they found deep & profound insight that they in turn shared with the world, elevating all of us to higher states of consciousness and greater ways of being in our shared-world.

    For many of us, these figures may appear to be superhuman and beyond our personal relate-ability. This is often due to the fallible thinking of comparing one's place on their journey to the journey of another. This kind of thinking almost always creates self-doubt and leads to stagnation.

    I believe we all have something to teach & we all have innate wisdom that we can tap.

    I also believe that we often make things way too hard. Especially, seated meditation. I was guilty of this. Making things harder than they need to be is something I constantly have to guard against (see here for insight on how I've began to overcome this life-challenge).

    The seated form is what most people think of when they hear the word meditation. And unfortunately many of us think that if we cannot sit cross-legged or in full or half lotus pose then we are not cut out to meditate. I was one of these people up until about 2 years ago.  

    Spiritual hipster incarnate... Seated meditation under a tree harnessing inner wisdom.

    Spiritual hipster incarnate... Seated meditation under a tree harnessing inner wisdom.

    Many people can't sit crossed legged, in lotus, or upon their shins in the traditional Japanese sitting posture "seiza" (see picture above) for more than a few minutes without experiencing mild-to-major discomfort (myself included unless I have been practicing yoga regularly).

    Fortunately, I discovered that sitting in some "proper" way is just societal conditioning & the over-marketing of how meditation "should" look. This was spawned from our idolization of those monastic people who spend all day doing yoga, martial arts and seated meditation. People who have deliberately physically trained their body to sit for long periods of time in "traditional" seated meditation postures.

    In truth, if you can sit in a regular chair or couch or can sit upon a bed with your back against the headrest and your legs stretched straight out in front of you (my preferred way) then you can do seated meditation. The key to seated meditation is to keep your spine & neck straight, but relaxed. Almost everyone can find a sitting position that personally works for them that achieves proper spinal alignment.


    2. Lying Meditation

    This is another important posture of meditation that we often forget about. Or we don't realize that it is an awesome way of meditating because we associate it with sleeping.

    And in our society if it is too easy or not difficult enough then we faultily think that we are doing it wrong or that it isn't working.

    Lying meditation is all about HEALING & LOVE, keeping with Arrien's framework. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense. It is what most of us do naturally when we feel physically unwell. It is also what we do with our loved ones to cultivate love. Also known as snuggling or cuddling.  

    This form of meditation is part of the the Healer-Archetype

    Shavasana or "corpse pose" in yoga is a lying meditation most yoga classes use to integrate the session at the end while cultivating healing & recovery.

    Shavasana or "corpse pose" in yoga is a lying meditation most yoga classes use to integrate the session at the end while cultivating healing & recovery.

    We can use this posture of meditation to heal beyond just the physical aspect of our nature. Mental, emotional, and spiritual healing can be accessed and accelerated in this position.

    Shivasana, aka corpse pose, is used in most yoga classes and is probably the most common form of lying meditation.

    Lying massages of all types can also be used to meditate. I've personally experienced many transcendental moments during a great massage.

    Another, more advanced, but fairly accessible modern day version of this lying form of meditation is Holotropic Breathwork, pioneered by Stan Grof.

    "Holotropic Breathwork is a powerful approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world. The name Holotropic means literally "moving toward wholeness" (from the Greek "holos"=whole and "trepein"=moving in the direction of something).

    The process itself uses very simple means: it combines accelerated breathing with evocative music in a special set and setting. With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses their own breath and the music in the room to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual's psyche, bringing him or her a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike."

    To date I've undergone two Breathworks and both times had incredibly healing and transformative experiences. I was blessed because my Mom is trained in this particular healing modality. [Send her an email if you live in WA and are interested otherwise see here for worldwide Breathwork events]

    This type of lying meditation may sound a bit out there, but it's growing in acceptance. Founder & CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, speaks openly about Breathwork's transformative power in The New Yorker.

    Ayahuasca, LSD & magic mushrooms have grown in popularity among the in-crowds the last few years in our ongoing humankind search for healing & meaning. Breathwork is an awesome way to discover this and reach similar (or better) altered states of consciousness without taking drugs. Unlike drugs, there are no negative side-effects with Breathwork.


    3. Standing Meditation

    Standing meditation is rarely openly discussed in our current culture, yet it is incredibly powerful.

    In a way, standing meditation has been repackaged into "power-poses" and standing affirmations. Two ideas that are talked about more often in our society.

    I like to picture myself in a powerful superman silhouette upon a sky-scraper looking upon the city with the wind holding my cape afloat.

    Or sometimes I picture myself upon the ledge of an Arizona red-rock cliff with the camera doing a 360-degree pan.

    And sometimes I stand in a classic Wolverine pose in front of the mirror and just harness wild-beast energy.

    Standing meditation accesses PRESENCE and cultivates our ability to honor boundaries and limits, as stated by Arrien.

    This is the meditation of the Warrior-Archetype. Something that has always been programmed into our consciousness.  

    Throughout history and all civilizations we as a human species capture this warrior energy in our pictures, paintings, and statues of powerful humans in powerful poses.

    Heroic statues stand guard around the globe. They often mark the entryway to our homes, institutions, various sacred areas, and even our country (statue of liberty).

    Standing meditation overlooking Silicon Valley.

    Standing meditation overlooking Silicon Valley.


    4. Walking (or Moving) Meditation

    Walking and moving meditation accesses INNER CREATIVITY (VISION) and it harnesses the Visionary-Archetype.  

    It should come as no surprise that many of mankind's most visionary artists, writers, scientists, and thinkers had a daily practice of moving meditation. Many of them were habitual walkers.

    Mason Curry covers many of these famous minds and their daily moving meditations in his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

    Moving meditation can also come in the form of cooking, cleaning, swimming and various physical sports.

    I even think driving can be a moving meditation. Not stuck-in-traffic-driving, but the kind where you are cruising along.

    Same goes for bathing in the shower, a place where ideas seem to flow through our bodies like the water cascading over us.

    There is something magical about moving and letting your mind unwind itself.  Whether it's working through a current problem and finding a creative solution or ideating for all areas of life there is something naturally powerful about meditative movement.

    Whether by conscious design or happenstance we have all had this experience and as Arien states, " When our body is moving & open, we become vehicles for creative problem-solving."

    Many cultures use this type of moving-meditation to reclaim one's authentic Self.  Aboriginals of Australia have their "walkabouts" and Native Americans use "vision quests". Even in our modern day, people of many first world countries go "backbacking" through Europe or road trip through America to rediscover themselves.

    Through movement we can remember who we are and why we came here.

    No matter the type of preferred movement we can all get into altered states of consciousness. The trick is to notice which ones work especially well for you in your life as it is right now.

    If you have the time & resources to go on vision quest, walkabout, backpack, road-trip, etc.  Go take a journey that reconnects you with your Self.

    If an extended meditation of that type doesn't fit your life how can you cultivate moving meditation in your life today?  It's fairly easy if you don't make it harder than it needs to be.

    I go on walks and ride my bike daily. I body-build and practice yoga weekly as well--two more awesome moving meditations.

    Friends of mine practice martial arts like kung fu & tai-chi.

    My fiance goes to SoulCycle and has regular "spiritual experiences" and emotional breakthroughs during class. 

    Runners & marathoners are classic modern moving-meditators.

    My fiance & I rollerblade together. Another favorite moving meditation of mine. It feels like flying to me and my mind always feels free & expansive as I journey through urban landscapes.

    Hiking through nature is another personal favorite moving meditation. Whether in the foothills, through a park, deep in the mountains, or along a beach. [Side Tangent: Nature is an especially powerful amplifier and cultivator of all types of meditation.]

    Moving meditation empowers me to remember what has heart & meaning to me in my life. It helps me remember who I really am and always provides creative answers that are endowed with personal integrity. Answers that help me move through whatever beguiling situations I find myself in during the course of my time here.

    My walking meditation includes looking like a badass . . .  😎😜

    My walking meditation includes looking like a badass . . . 😎😜

    Alchemical Learnings:

    1. Meditation is a natural phenomenon that everyone experiences.
    2. The key to regular meditation is doing it in a way that truly works for you.
    3. We can consciously harness different types of meditation to access different archetypes & powers. In review:
      1. Seated Meditation: Archetype = Teacher, Power = Wisdom
      2. Lying Meditation: Archetype = Healer, Power = Love & Healing
      3. Standing Meditation: Archetype = Warrior, Power = Presence & Boundaries
      4. Walking (Moving) Meditation: Archetype = Visionary, Power = Inner Vision (Creativity)

    Alchemical Resources:

    1. The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, & Visionary by Angeles Arrien, PhD.
    2. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.
    3. Awakening Spirits: A Native American Path to Inner Peace, Healing, & Spiritual Growth by Tom Brown Jr.
    4. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom by Rich Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, MD.
    5. Have some other awesome meditation related resources? Please reference them in comments, email me, or tweet me! 🙏🏼

    Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

    1. Consciously identify the types of meditation you already naturally do in your life. Notice which of the Four Universal Forms of Meditation they fall under.
    2. Choose one of the Four Universal Forms of Meditation that you currently do not practice and find an easy & fun way to add it into your life as it is now. [more on choosing easy & fun here]
    3. If seated meditation has been difficult for you try it in news ways:
      • Use a personally comfortable sitting position.
      • Try out different types of seated meditation. I.E. Breath-based, guided, body-scan, mantra-based, chanting, listening to binaural beats, etc.
      • Try using an app like Headspace.
    4. Want to go deeper? Try a breathwork, go on a vision quest, partake in a weekend meditation or yoga retreat, take a road-trip, or even go backpacking through a part of the world that has been silently calling to you.
    “As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains Reality.” – Adi Shankara

    Developing our consciousness is a worthy cause for all of us. It empowers our lives in so many ways and there is a huge growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effects of meditation on all areas of life.

    But more importantly, meditation does not have to be hard. It is something all of us can do. If we take a little conscious energy to explore we can find ways to meditate that suit us particularly well. And in doing so we can return to our Self, mine our inner gold, and be of the highest benefit to everyone we come into connection with. Including ourselves.

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl 🌒

    P.S. My mission is to empower people & organizations to transform & self-actualize. Meditation & consciousness development is a huge part of that. If you enjoyed this article please share it! 🙏🏼




    Rebel With A Cause: How To Meet Internal & External Expectations & Build Good Habits When You Resist Everything

    In short, it has been god awful frustrating.

    All my life I've struggled against internal and external expectations never really understanding when and why I would meet resistance.

    This includes simple & complex expectations as well as habits (exercise, family obligations, work tasks, all types of personal & professional goals, etc.)

    Some of the times I encounter little to no resistance. Other times massive resistance despite knowing that meeting the expectation would be awesome for me and my life.

    I didn't understand why sometimes it was easy and other times incredibly difficult (even when the expectation itself was fairly easy).

    It's been like having a super powerful machine that only turns on sometimes. When it turns on it is incredibly efficient, diligent, and reliable. However, it only turns on sometimes no matter how I hard I "try." 

    For some things, like exercising regularly, I have basically zero resistance and it is incredibly easy for me to do this every week with an almost fanatical zeal. This holds true for me whether the expectation comes from within myself or from an an outsider (people, society, etc.).

    Yet, other things, like doing my taxes on time or early have been incredibly difficult. This is despite consciously knowing that it is in my best interest to get them done on time at the least.

    I've often been bewildered by fact that I am so diligent with exercise, something many find difficult to stick to, and yet I still run into resistance for other things many would consider much easier than regular exercise.

    Along the same vein, for the longest time I could not understand why I resisted great suggestions from my partner, family, and friends. A prime example of this is journaling. I always secretly wanted to be a writer. And yet I resisted my mother, partner, teachers, books, etc. until finally I began at the beginning of 2014 (more on that here).

    I've run into similar issues with my own good ideas for myself in all areas of life.

    If it is my idea I found that I have at least a 50% chance of following through on it. This is a rough estimate.

    If the idea was suggested by someone else in the frame of "you should do _______" my internal resistance flairs up immediately most of the time and the chances of me meeting the external expectation go down a lot.  

    I often resist whether someone tells me to do something or kindly suggests it.

    Yet, sometimes someone makes a great suggestion and I immediately implement it.

    Like I said before. Ridiculously frustrating.

    I can't even imagine how annoying that has been for the people in my life. Especially my Mom and significant other.

    Despite how frustrating it must be for others I always felt like my Mom did an amazing job parenting me. She gave me a ton of freedom and created an environment where I could truly thrive through my own self-direction. With the freedom there were reasonable boundaries that I had no trouble respecting (most of the time).

    I've come to somewhat understand how she did this for me in the last few years through many deep talks. The basic gist is that she always gave me options and let me make the choice.  

    She almost never (if ever) made the choice for me. And since I made the choice I was able to meet the expectation (most of the time).  

    A fiercely independent individual like myself has always bucked hard against anything that felt like it was limiting my freedom. Fortunately, my Mom who also highly values freedom never did this to me.

    The CEO of my company Ohmygreen has also created an environment where I am constantly asked "what do you think you/we should do?" We almost always discuss options & related consequences. Then ultimately, I am always empowered to make my own choice. I'm not even sure if he's ever specifically told me what to do.

    This has resulted in the most fulfilling career/calling of my life thus far and I have been massively successful in my role at the company as a result of this personally empowering environment.

    I have a highly similar "pro-choice" environment in my home life with my fiancé -- one of the big reasons I know we are going to be successful and happy in the long-run. Basically, my significant other never tells me what to do, always explains the reasons behind anything and everything we are doing (often before I even ask for the reasons), and ultimately I am always left with the power to choose.

    To some, this need to understand and choose may seem somewhat unruly and rebellious. To others you may see yourself in this. Regardless of the personal resonance, almost all of us know someone like this (whether we are consciously aware of it).

    Well, thanks to an awesome podcast interview by Chase Jarvis along with the developing work of the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project & Better Than Before) I believe I am finally coming to understand myself in a new & deeply profound way.

    And holy hell I am grateful!

    I may have just stumbled upon the missing pieces for the keys to consciously understanding & empowering my ability to meet both internal and external expectations.  

    I am still personally testing this, but I wanted to share now because I am so excited about this discovery and I want to up my rate of understanding & learning by interacting with others who may be going through the same thing with themselves or someone they know. . . so please leave comments!

    According to Gretchen's Four Tendencies quiz I am a Rebel (take quiz here). And according to her framework as a Rebel I resist all expectations, outer and inner... Wait, what?! This sounds so familiar!

    In Gretchen's words she says the following about Rebels [my comments in italicized brackets]:

    • They choose to act from a sense of choice, of freedom. Rebels wake up and think, "What do I want to do today?" [LOL! This is too familiar. I usually have a running list of a dozen or more things I want to do daily and each day I wake up and intuitively do what calls to me the most.]
    • They resist control, even self-control, and usually enjoy flouting rules and expectations. [I definitely resist any sort of outer control, bending rules does often appeal to me (that doesn't mean I always bend them), and expectations often drive me crazy. I often consciously and subconsciously subvert outer expectations placed upon me. Nonetheless, I have serious self-control when it comes to things related to my identity. More on that below.]
    • Rebels place a high value on authenticity and self-determination and bring an unshackled spirit to what they do. Rebels work toward their own goals, in their own way, and while they refuse to do what they're "supposed" to do, they can accomplish their own aims. [Definitely agree. I often find myself purposely trying to do things in my own way, different from the usual way. I get a strong sense of satisfaction doing things uniquely. And "unshackled spirit" couldn't ring more true.]
    • Rebels often frustrate others because they can't be asked or told to do anything. They don't care if "people are counting on you," "you said you'd do it," "your parents will be upset," "it's against the rules," "this is the deadline," or "it's rude." In fact, asking or telling Rebels to do something often makes them do just the opposite. [I had to teach my fiancé how my Mom parented me in order to avoid the chaos this could cause in a relationship.]
    • The people around Rebels must guard against accidentally igniting their spirit of opposition--particularly challenging for the parents of Rebel children. [Both my parents, CEO of my company, and fiancé all do an incredible job of avoiding this.]
    • In fact, Rebels sometimes frustrate themselves, because they can't tell themselves what to do. [Definitely run into this too many times. I believe I've finally consciously discovered solutions & strategies to overcome this (see below) . . . Amen!]

    Three important strategies Gretchen brings up for the Rebel are [my comments italicized, but much is paraphrased from the reading of Better Than Before & scouring Gretchen's blog]:

    1. Strategy of Clarity

    • This is all about having a strong "why" behind why you are doing something. This includes the "why" related to your corresponding values & the "why" related to the action.
    • I.E. I exercise because health & fitness is an important value to me and I exercise because it makes me feel energized and I love looking & feeling fit. 
    • By being able to powerfully articulate in your own words why you are doing something the impetus to follow through in a way that actually brings satisfaction and a sense of looking forward to meeting the expectation can be consciously created.

    2. Strategy of Identity

    • This is consciously tying the expectation (inner & outer) to who you see yourself as and who you want to see yourself as. This strategy of Identity is PARTICULARLY POWERFUL for me personally (more on that in the "Alchemical Learnings" at the end).
    • Case in point #1: When I finally read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron I was able to deeply tie my personal identity to journaling, writing, and reclaiming myself as an artist. Her work struck such a strong chord within me that after more than decade of resisting the suggestion of journaling by teachers, family, & my partner I have now been journaling & writing with consistency ever since reading her book at the beginning of 2014.
    • Case in point #2: When I first started Transcendental Meditation (TM) I decided that this was who I was and wanted to be (a meditator) and almost two years later I've meditated every single day (twice a day for 20 minutes) without ever missing a single session. Even I am surprised at this commitment to meeting an expectation. This identity was reinforced by the fact that people I aspired to be like also did TM (Tim Ferriss, Oprah, Hugh Jackman, George Lucas & many other powerhouses). 
    • Another personal example is my fitness. A huge part of my personal identity is being incredibly fit so I have no problem exercising regularly and eating in a way that supports optimal aesthetic fitness.

    3. Strategy of Other People

    • Rebels pride themselves on being "different" from other people. This has been the story of my life. I've always enjoyed taking the path less traveled and doing things people either said I couldn't do or doing things that I "thought" other people thought I couldn't do. Whether they actually do doubt me doesn't even have to be true as long as I "think" they are doubting me. Ludicrous, but true for me many times in my life. Proving "other people" wrong and breaking societal norms brings me joy and action-taking energy.
    • Case in point #1: It was uncommon for people in my high school to go to Stanford University (or equivalent level University). I even thought that most "other people" I shared this dream with doubted me. Whether they actually did doubt me is totally up for debate, but since I thought they did I had infinite energy to pursue this goal and even after being denied the first time I made it into Stanford on the second try.
    • Case in point #2: It was uncommon for people who went to Stanford to go work in nightlife . . . I ended up working in Hollywood Nightlife for 7 years.
    • Another personal example is my bodybuilding and yoga dual nature. I consider myself both a bodybuilder and a yogi -- a combination that isn't commonly found. I find it personally gratifying that I can be both when often a bodybuilder has no interest or sees no point in doing yoga and vice versa. And I personally get a kick when I am met with a surprised look after explaining my passion for both physical disciplines.


    Part bodybuilder, part yogi, all Rebel 🌓 

    Part bodybuilder, part yogi, all Rebel 🌓 


    These strategies (Clarity, Identity, Other People) have value for all Four Tendencies. A brief overview of those Four Tendencies from Gretchen are:

    Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

    Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin


    1. Upholder: "I do what others expect of me--and what I expect of myself"
    2. Questioner: "I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn't make sense, I won't do it."
    3. Obliger: "I do what I have to do. I don't want to let others, but I may let myself down."
    4. Rebel: "I do what I want in my own way. If you try to make me do something--even if I try to make myself do something--I'm less likely to do it."

    Curious what you are and want to know more? Go take the quiz & find out! Takes less than 5 minutes.

    Alchemical Learnings

    1. I finally have found a framework that makes sense as to why it is so easy for me to form and keep some habits and so difficult to create and keep others. Same goes for internal and external expectations set my by myself and other people.
    2. I now have three strategies (Clarity, Identity, & Other People) with which I can consciously use to strategically build empowering habits and meet internal & external habits. [I am still testing so will update this article if I come upon deeper insight or new & improved Rebel strategies. Please leave me a comment if you have any!]
    3. The strategy of IDENTITY seems to be the most powerful tool for me. Despite being a rebel I've always been highly successful in business because I've always considered being a topnotch businessman and entrepreneur an incredibly important part of my core identity. Same goes for my fitness. I am now testing this strategy more thoroughly seeing if I can tie my identity to areas and expectations I've resisted in the past.
    4. I can easily give the following getting-a-Rebel-to-meet-expecations-framework to anyone who is looking to personally or professionally work with me in a co-empowering way. Discovered by mother originally in my life and personally consciously re-cognized by Gretchen during her interview with Chase Jarvis where she says, "Information, Consequences, Choice." The framework for working with a rebel is:
      1. Go over ALL the information behind and around the expectation (or habit).
      2. Go over ALL the consequences (good, bad, & neutral) of various choices and possible outcomes.
      3. Let the Rebel make the final choice once step 1 & 2 have been thoroughly vetted.

    Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

    1. Go take the quiz & find out what your tendency is!
    2. If you are a Rebel try out the strategies of Clarity, Identity, & Other People with an expectation you have (internal or external). I am trying these strategies out with my taxes (which I have notoriously avoided and been late on way too many times in this lifetime).
    3. Think you interact regularly with a Rebel? Try the Information-Consequences-Choice strategy and see how it works.
    4. Leave any/all comments below about Rebels (yours personally if you are Rebel & your experience working/dealing with a Rebel in your life).

    Life is full of expectations and habits. Our own. Other people's. And society's.

    Self-knowledge is such a powerful tool. Deeply understanding what and how we are motivated is an incredible way to bring effectiveness, more grace and increased happiness to our very own lives so that we can meet inner & outer expectations and build & break habits with the least amount of friction possible and in the most efficient way for our individual way of being.

    In my own life I’ve discovered that despite being a Rebel I can be effective with meeting internal & external expectations and build awesome life-affirming habits as long as I have strong reasons behind me. This is why I consider myself a REBEL WITH A CAUSE.

    Despite your tendency two maxims hold true & empowering for you and for me . . .

    As Socrates said, “Know thyself.” And as Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”

    In alchemy & service,

    Justin David Carl 🌒

    P.S. I am looking forward to Gretchen more fully drawing out this empowering framework in her upcoming book on the Four Tendencies.

    P.P.S. Positive transformation is an ongoing never-ending part of an empowered life. Why not mechanize the process by joining my NEWSLETTER?!