Work

Life Happens: Is It Happening To You Or Is It Happening For You?

Is life happening to you?

Or is life happening for you?

To put it into a more personal form the two questions we could ask ourself when faced with one of life’s difficulties (aka challenges) is:

  1. Why is this happening to me?

  2. Why is this happening for me?

In a sense, both are true, but the form of the question you choose to focus on makes all the difference in the quality of your experience as you work through the challenge (aka problem).

Question 1 puts us in victim-mode where one has little-to-no personal power. With this question, we will focus on all the reasons the difficulty has attacked our life & why it is fucking up our happiness.

Mini Case Study:

Example 1: You get two new massive projects at work on the same day & they are both due on same day. Oh yeah, and all your other plentiful work you had before the two new work projects showed up still have to be done as well. You think to yourself, “FML! How am I going to get all this done?! This is going to kill my work/life balance & my happiness is fucked for the next two weeks! I guess I am just unlucky and will have to suffer through it. Once I get through it then I can finally go back to enjoying my life.”

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin:

Using the format of Question 2 puts us in victor-mode where we have massive power. With this question, we will focus on all that can be GAINED from the experience and how it can ADD to the awesomeness of our life.

Example 1 re-imagined with a Question 2 frame of mind: Same scenario at work hits, two massive projects hit your desk. Though you’re initially slightly overwhelmed you start asking yourself how this can benefit your work and your life. You start looking at it like the next challenge that is going to create the growth you’ve been needing to reach the next level of your career and also the next level of your life. You think to yourself, “Wow! This is more than I’ve ever done all in the same timeframe. I am really going to learn a ton and grow massively. Even more, I get to practice taking work to the next level and still live a life outside of work that is seriously awesome! I’m gonna be stretched, I’m gonna be uncomfortable, but I’m excited because I know that it is outside of my comfort zone where all the growth happens. Damn, I’m lucky this opportunity came along! Things were feeling a bit too easy lately and nothing like a hard challenge to bring some adventure into my life! YEEEEEHAWWWW! Let’s do this!”

Visualizing all the awesome growth I’m gonna gain from my challenging work adventure.

Visualizing all the awesome growth I’m gonna gain from my challenging work adventure.

If we look back on our life at the most challenging times & trials we usually point to these as the formative experiences that have created the good & great part of ourselves that we & others admire.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize this until way after the experience has passed. Yet, we can train ourselves to actually recognize when one of these tough life altering experiences are underway. It takes a macro view of one’s life to see them as they are happening. We must zoom out and ask ourselves, “Is this one of those experiences that is going to massively move me forward and/or fundamentally change me and my life for the better once I solve it?” If the answer is yes, then we can consciously embrace the adventure as it is happening versus getting beat down by it.

Let me be honest, this is not easy to do. Fear is going to try hide the gifts of the situation from us. Fear is going to try to make us suffer, play victim, play small, bitch, moan & complain. This is when we gotta dig deep. Like real deep. And tap into that fuzzy thing called faith. With some faith in our power to direct & experience our lives in an empowering way we can choose the attitude & mindset that makes the experience worthwhile during the actual experience. [Instead of waiting for months or even years to glean the gold from the adventure.]

So, in order to direct our lives in the best way possible, we must constantly work to consciously choose which frame of mind we are approaching any situation.

Mindset is everything AND energy flows where focus goes.

Do you want your mind wasting precious energy on all the reasons why such and such situation sucks so bad?

Or do you want your mind looking for all Gold to be mined from the challenging growth-inducing awesome situation?

The latter option is the harder choice for most of us, myself included, and it is something we have to constantly practice.

Even now in my life, I am facing family challenges & professional challenges. The case study above is from real life.

The lazy & weak part of myself wants to focus on “poor me, why is this happening to me?”

At the same time, my wiser self is quietly reminding me to focus on “Holy fuck! This is awesome! So much to be learned & gained! I’m going to grow massively from these golden opportunities! I love how life is always happening for me! YEEHAW!!”

I’m writing this as a reminder to myself to listen to the wiser part of myself. And not only to listen quietly but to crank up the volume because it’s always a fine time to celebrate the awesomeness of LIFE!!

If you are in a challenging phase of life try searching for how life is happening FOR you. It may just alchemize your life!



Always more empowering stuff on my Instagram:


Cultivating Work With True Heart & Meaning (AKA: How To Avoid Unhealthy Workism)

The article, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable,” made me think hard about work. After pondering it for a couple of weeks here are some thoughts:

I deeply believe that in order to find happiness & meaning in work one needs to clearly define a personal mission & make sure one’s weekly work aligns with that mission. Otherwise work is just a paycheck and there are millions of ways to make money. 

If your inner world is undefined, your outer world will be undefined & meaningless. 
And humans by default almost always strive for “more”—money, work, things, tv, social media, etc. even when it's detrimental to health & balance in one's life and even when it's meaningless. 

Again, an undefined personal life purpose leads to a life of drift & personal detriment.

I also firmly believe that balance is achieved by opposing muscles of different life areas pulling against one another. This is how you balance in a challenging yoga pose, this is how you balance a challenging life. Therefore strong work muscles must be counterbalanced by strong rejuvenation muscles.

The awesome thing about many workplaces these days, at least the ones Oh My Green has the pleasure to serve, is that they have awesome world-changing missions AND high fidelity rejuvenation built into their daily/weekly culture. This includes healthy/delicious snacks & catering, meditation, yoga & even life/career coaching so that each individual is empowered to live healthfully and empowered to define/live their purpose & values.

Furthermore, all of our customers realize that their people are their most valuable asset and by not only providing for them, but actually empowering them with their personal development they are paving the way to a place where work can be fun, fulfilling & balanced with the rest of the equally important aspects of their life including family, hobbies, physical fitness, traveling, learning, spiritual growth and all the other awesome aspects of the good life.

When I step back and look at the possibilities provided to the people at the companies we work with every week I am amazed at just how much personal care & personal development is provided. Nonetheless, we all must take it upon ourself to actually utilize these resources & build our own version of an empowered life.

So, what if you are suffering from “Workism”? What can you do? Here are 4 ways you can alchemize your work/life:

  • Discover & develop your personal mission. Then make sure this aligns with your company’s mission or find a new company that does align with it. [Here’s a short article with resources for discovering/developing your mission.]

  • Define your personal values and make sure your company respects them (or find one that does). When you consciously know what values create heart & meaning in your life and your work is aligned with them defaulting to unhealthy workism will be a rare occasion.

  • Take a vacation from work. Sign off completely. Put up an email autoresponder. Don’t fucking read a single email or take work calls during your vacation. I’m dead serious. If you are so burnt out from work you can barely think it’s going to be pretty hard to discover or develop your personal mission or reflect on your values. Often times we need to create space and/or inner silence to be able to hear our Spirit or Higher Self’s guidance on our next steps.

  • Get your financial house in order. If you can’t even afford to take a break or risk looking for a new job that actually aligns with your mission & values you’ve become a slave to your job, money has become your master and workism will be your religion. [Here is an article about me facing my own money darkness & here is a progress report on my personal finances from last year.]

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life & your work-life! Even at my own company which has a super powerful mission and lots of empowering life-enhancing benefits, generous PTO, & flexible work arrangements I see plenty of employees getting CRUSHED by workism. I personally tell everyone I can that our mission of “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives” will NOT be personally served up on a silver platter. Each one of us will have to actively work each day and week to create our personal version of health & bliss. That means setting & holding boundaries around one’s schedule/workload, actively scheduling time off for rejuvenation, and actually taking advantage of all the benefits offered. I believe this holds true for all the tens of thousands of employees we serve at offices across the nation. No company will do all the work of creating a work/life filled with heart, meaning & balance—that is our personal responsibility.

Taking action on any one of these 5 steps will catalyze you towards a life really worth living for! In truth, taking action & taking responsibility really does cure most things. No one can do it for you. Like they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Don’t be that horse.


END NOTES:

  • Special thanks to our Oh My Green CEO, Michael Heinrich, for sharing the “Workism” article in our company newsletter that spawned this blog post. You continue to be an incredibly empowering leader, mentor & best friend.

  • Additional deep thanks to Derek Thompson for writing the article and making me think so hard about my own work/life, my company, & the companies we serve.

  • Title photo by my dear friend & uber-talented photographer Noelle Johnson.



If Instagram is more your pace:


Optimizing Life: A Foolproof System For Continuous Improvement

At some level, everyone wants a better & more optimized life. Yet, it is so easy to get lost in the hustle & bustle. Many of us find ourselves just trying to survive the work-week (traditional or entrepreneurial). I know this has often been the case for me.

Instead of overly worrying about my life improvement process I focus on a simple system that consistently moves me in the direction of a life that is continuously improving. 

My life optimization system is composed of three related principles:

  1. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
  2. You are a product of your environment.
  3. You are what you consume.

 

1. You Are The Average Of The 5 People You Spend The Most Time With

This is a quote by Jim Rohn, a pioneer in the field of personal development. Tony Robbins got his start working under him as well.

They've done studies that show our fitness level & net worth is highly correlated to those we spend the most time with. If we take a deep look at our own life we will realize that this principle applies to just about every area of our life. Regular weekly activities are highly informed by those we spend the most time with. We tend to pick up all sorts of behaviors of those we spend time with. Ultimately, good & bad habits are built & reinforced by those we are around.

This is awesome & scary at the same time. 

How many of the life-enhancing activities & habits that you regularly participate in are related to those you hang out with often?

On the flip side, how many of the destructive things you do are accepted & encouraged by the people you spend the most time with?

Seriously, take a few minutes and deeply think about this.

 

2. You Are A Product Of Your Environment

Again, massive research has been done on this. Our environments are a huge influence on our product of being. 

Different environments attract & produce different types of people. The environments in which we spend the most time almost always include the people that we actually spend the most time with (work, home, community, extracurricular activities, etc).

Our environments also dictate our activity & behavior. People who spend time at the gym tend to exercise, those who attend church pray, those who go to the library read, those who go to the bar drink, so on & so forth.

Take a moment and think about what kind of behavior your regular environments encourage.

 

3. You Are What You Consume

This one is really powerful. And can be really disturbing when we look at it in a detailed manner. 

Our consumption includes food & information. This includes all types of media--books, blogs, news, television, movies, music, auditory programs, video games, etc. Furthermore, information is picked up through conversations, environments & all types of experiences.

At some level, everything we ingest into our body and mind is programming us for better or worse. This holds true no matter which of our physical senses it enters into our domain of existence. Taste, touch, sight, sound & smell are all viable access points for consumption programming.

Think about this. What are you consuming on a regular basis?

Now that we've taken a moment to analyze these three related fundamentals let's look at...

 

How To Implement These Life Optimization Principles

  1. Self-checking: Regularly ask yourself how you are doing in each area.
    • Are the people I am spending the most time with calling forth the highest best version of myself?
    • Do the places I spend the most time encourage continuous growth & improvement?
    • Does the food & information I consume naturally lead me to grow in positive ways or am I slowly poisoning my body & mind?
  2. Work: Optimize your income generating field of endeavor.
    • Typically we spend the most time with the people we work with. We spend the largest majority of our time in our work environment. And we consume a majority of our weekly intake of food & information at and around work. 
  3. People: Pick your life-partner & friends wisely.
    • Tons of ultra-successful people credit their good fortune to picking an amazing significant other.
    • Same goes for friends. Successful, smart, happy, inspired & growth-minded people choose to spend time with people who facilitate these qualities naturally.
  4. Communities, Environments, Personal Interests & Hobbies: Choose groups, people, places & activities that foster growth.
    • Humans are built for connection & community. A lot of what we think, say & do come from the communities, personal interests & hobbies we are involved in (both online & in real life).

 

How To Hack The System

What if you're reading this and you realize that the 5 people you spend the most time with are showing a strong indication of actually being detrimental to your personal growth, health & fitness, personal finances, etc? In other words, what if the people you spend the most time with are ensuring a shitty life?!

Or what if after pondering these related principles you realize that your work environment & other environments you regularly frequent are contributing to a path to nowhere? Or worse, are leading to a steady decline?!

And what if your consumption (food, information, & otherwise) is killing your life?!

Here are a few ways to quickly hack the system:

 

Lifehack #1

Focus on what you are consuming. The easiest hack for this system is to immediately up the quality of content you are ingesting on a regular basis. It is a crucial step you can take & the first key to transforming your life at any time.

When you are commuting to & from work what are you doing? Are you listening to the fear-inducing news? Or maybe radio & music that is telling you to spend money to achieve happiness, buy more shit, do more drugs, sleep around, etc?

Instead of poisoning your mind you can listen to life-empowering audiobooks, audio programs & podcasts during your work commute.

This same thought-thread can be applied to all types of commutes and mindless activities where you can add in auditory learning/programming without negatively affecting your performance. This includes things like chores (cleaning, laundry, yard work, going to the grocery store, etc) and certain types of repetitive activities & exercise where you don't require music for motivation or have to keep track of performance metrics (reps, sets, times, etc).

During your free time you should definitely be reading books & blogs that empower & transform your life. Additionally, it pays to think this through with your viewing habits. What you regularly view informs your programming just as much as what you read & listen to. TV, movies, internet videos, public performances, etc.

Wise-minds actively curate their social media feeds so the content actually enhances their life. [here are my socials in case you need some instant reprogramming: Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter]

Even the experiences we consume program us.

Seriously! Think hard about what you are putting into your consciousness at all times.

Life-enhancing curated reading, listening, viewing, & experiencing is one of the most powerful habits you can cultivate in your life!

In disguise, this is a radical hack to create a virtual powerhouse group of people you spend the most time with. Want better friends to hang out with? Find the people you admire (or envy) and consume their content. Get inside their head & hang out with them virtually every day. Go to their workshops in person & consume experiences that can literally transform your life.

You can consciously & proactively manufacture a virtual group of friends that truly empower you to live a life worth living on your own terms.

This hack can be done quickly & easily without suddenly cutting people out of your life, quitting your job, or doing any major re-hauling of your day-to-day life.

This habit will then lead you to naturally seek out and connect with other people in your physical environment that are on similar growth paths.

 

Lifehack #2

Proactively manage how, where & with whom you spend your free time. After you have consciously redirected what you are regularly consuming the next step is to take a deep look at what exactly you do in your free time.

Even at work we have free time. What do you during your lunch break or other downtime periods at work? Are you having life-enhancing conversations, starting a personal finance interest group, learning from a colleague who is further along in a particular area of life, sharing articles that act as catalysts for positive transformation?

Or are you staying comfortable?

Proactively seek out interactions & experiences with people at work who will encourage you to grow. Even the worst workplaces have diamonds to be mined. Career development programs, training programs, etc. In the least there are at leas few colleagues who are kick-ass in some endeavor if you dig. Explore the edges at work. 

Outside of work how do you spend your time? If you're not consuming empowering content you better be spending the time doing something that is actually improving your life. This means getting involved in activities and communities that are aligned with your goals & values (current or aspirational). Proactively seek out experiences that will force you to grow whether you are ready to or not.

Find people who are interested in or working on things that you know you're into. Having trouble finding those people? Join a local Meetup group that is aligned with a life-enhancing interest. Other ideas include a local yoga studio, Crossfit community, dance crew, book club or any group that fosters growth. This can include a place of worship or anything else that brings together people with common interests, goals & aspirations.

Want to really supercharge your transformation? Do something wild like a weeklong Vision Quest or attend a weekend workshop like the Landmark Forum. Both of those can be pretty intense, but there are loads of workshops out there covering all avenues of life. 1440 Multiversity has a ton of them throughout the year and it can be just the personal investment you need to make a major shift in your life.

When you consciously spend your free time doing life-enhancing activities & hanging with empowering groups your life will optimize itself. And when you program these into your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly life you will naturally develop friends that reinforce the habits & behavior you want to build, hypergrowth your learning & you will be consistently challenged to grow in positive ways.

 

Lifehack #3

Change your everyday environment. This can include where you live and/or where you work. This can seem dramatic and challenging but it works.

When I was stuck in life & lost working in Hollywood Nightlife I had no idea what to do next but I knew if I went back to Stanford University I would be in a place that would force me to figure it out.

Was the transition easy? Hell no! It was godawful scary! Not to mention I was addicted to the money, social power, & the lifestyle of a career in nightlife. However, when I got honest with myself I knew it was not leading me towards the life I wanted. It was fun while it lasted, but deep down I felt I had more to give to this world. So, I took action in the face of fear. This is the definition of courage. And wow! Did it pay-off!

This major leap of faith led to my current career in wellness/tech and a work environment that has countless benefits such as a strong emphasis on all aspects of wellness--healthy eating, regular meditation, exercise, learning & personal development, and more.

Again, most of us spend more of our life energy with the people at work than with anyone else in our life, including our family. We also consume a majority of our daily life's food, information & experiences at and around work. This is why I cannot emphasize enough just how paramount it is to consciously choose the best possible place to live & work. Then double-down and proactively lobby & take action to make your community & company culture as life-enhancing as possible.

 

Conclusion: Build The System & Then Let It Do Heavy Lifting

In the beginning, it can take a bit of effort to redesign your life to optimize your growth. You may need to change daily habits, discover new activities, find new friends, find another career/company or even move to a new home. Nonetheless, I guarantee you it will be worth it! I know from personal experience.

Once you've proactively designed your life to automatically create positive change, transformation & ongoing growth it becomes a simple matter of minor maintenance. It's like you have this mini magical optimization machine tucked into your pocket & it's constantly pulling forth your highest best most authentic Self. And all it needs is the occasional winding to stay on track.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. This article encompasses one of the major systems of my personal life optimization program, but as a lifelong Seeker I am always looking for additional tools, systems, ideas, etc. Got anything to add? Please shoot me a message or leave me a comment below (at the very bottom)!

Related: Books That Have Radically Transformed My Life