Life is full of problems. Money problems. Work problems. Relationship problems. Family problems. Health problems. They seem to plague every area of life.
Unfortunately, a lot of us, myself included, often fall prey to the idea that if we could just solve or get rid of some specific problem then life would finally be great.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
“Once I get this deal done at work then I can finally live life & have some fun.”
“Once I become a multi-millionaire then I’ll be successful.”
"Once I become Financially Independent then I'll truly be free."
“Once I fix this part of my relationship then we will be truly happy.”
"Once I achieve this body fat percentage then I'll finally love & accept my body."
[Insert your problems/obstacles here.]
And this list goes on FOREVER. It never fucking stops.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it robs us of the inherent joy available within the process of overcoming obstacles.
We often get so focused on how not having something or how some specific problem is ruining our life. We delude ourselves with the notion that once we fix it everything will be better.
Life does not work that way.
Once you solve one problem it gets replaced by another problem.
You see, problems really are just opportunities in disguise. And each problem is an opportunity to heal, grow & transform.
This is what life is about—it’s one big game of healing, growing and transforming.
And life is so much fucking fun when you realize that it is the greatest game any of us will ever get to play!
Like you, I am human and I often forget to have fun with all the problems (opportunities) that come up. However, I do my best to regularly remind myself to be a Life Alchemist. Heck, one of the reasons I am writing this post is crystalize this into my consciousness and so that I can come back to reread this when I do mentally fall astray from the empowering mindset.
So what do I mean by “Be a Life Alchemist?” To me, this is philosophy of living that includes the belief that anything & everything is something that can be used to alchemize (transform) life for the better if we choose to approach it with the right mindset.
In the legends Alchemists were revered for their ability to turn lead into gold. They could take a seemingly valueless or low value material that no one wanted and through the seemingly magical process of combination and creation, transform it something wildly valuable.
A Life Alchemist takes the lead of life and uses it to transform situations & scenarios into pure gold. Through this magical process the lead of life ultimately becomes the most valuable experiences of life.
With this mindset I go from being reactive & playing victim to actively seeking out the way in which to use the problem or situation to heal, grow & transform my life. And I choose to approach this with a fun & magical attitude because being a Life Alchemist is virtually the same as being a Wizard—both are masters of all the elements of life.
The problem hasn’t changed, but my mindset has and that makes all the difference.
When I look back on my life all the best things that have happened to me have come about because of fucked up seemingly terrible things. Here’s a short list:
Getting beat up by my older brother during childhood.
Getting denied by Stanford on the first try (this was a goal/dream I had since 3rd grade and it directed everything I did).
Dropping out of Stanford w/ two quarters to go.
Leaving a very successful career in Hollywood nightlife.
Getting 6 years behind on my taxes & accumulating $40K worth of debt.
Though all of these seriously sucked at the time that they happened or during the initial period they were the crucible I broke myself against so I could build myself back even stronger & better while discovering deeper levels of my self & my purpose in life. They were the lead of life that I refined until I found the precious value hidden within. If it weren’t for these experiences I would be a radically less evolved human being and I wouldn’t have the amazing life I have today. Here’s just a few of the hugely positive aspects of solving each one of these problems:
I got strong. Very strong. And I learned to choose another path.
I learned to pick myself back up after a major defeat and try again (I got into Stanford on the second try).
I learned that it’s never too late to go back & complete something important.
I learned that when you leave a toxic environment, trust the Universe & open yourself to new opportunity amazing things you could have never predicted can & will happen—like becoming a founding team member of a wellness/technology Stanford Startup.
I learned that you can turn great weakness or failure into great strength. It was because of this challenge that I discovered Financial Independence and only have a couple more years to go before all paid work becomes optional.
Even now I am working through a super tough “problem”—my family’s money/wealth paradigm. I won’t go into details. I’ll spare my family from sharing too openly, but I can share that it brings up massive fear in me and other members of my family with whom I’m working through it with.
As we are working through this problem we often get triggered, emotional, angry, sad, depressed and the whole gamut of darker emotions. It isn’t easy.
Oftentimes it’s so scary for me personally and I have so many mental/emotions blockages around it that I get a headache and my body gets all clammy.
But I keep at it, knowing that the only way is through the darkness. Deep down I know we must mine the darkness for the gold. And through the painful effort we’ve already made massive progress.
I’m choosing to use this current familial money-problem (challenge/opportunity) to be a champion for my family’s wealth & to lead myself & others to the next level of life.
In the end I know it will definitely be worth it just to see what kind of healing, growth & transformation happens for all of the family members who choose to face & embrace the fear and work through it together. Through this work we are healing family money/wealth backwards & forward through the family line—that’s ultra powerful!
During this experience I also do my best to keep looking at it from a Macrocosmic View. Despite the problem in this area, LIFE IS STILL FUCKING GREAT! It’s just one part that needs some alchemizing and it doesn’t take away from all the other awesomeness in my life. In fact, through contrast, it allows me recognize just how damn good I have it in so many other areas of life. And in truth, even this problem is totally an awesome exciting adventure that I’m privileged to take with my family.
And let’s keep it super real—as soon as I solve this problem the Universe is just going to give me another more challenging one so I may as well do my best to enjoy the never ending problem solving process of life because it is literally the substance of what life is made up of! We can try to run & hide from it or deny it, but problems and challenges are a part of the daily fabric of all our lives.
Knowing that the lead will be served up in our lives with regularity I firmly believe we all can take the Life Alchemist approach if we choose to. However, we must consciously & proactively choose to be the Life Alchemist. It won’t just happen by default. Resignation & cynicism is the adult default, just look around.
When we do take this Life Alchemist approach each obstacle we face in the game of life is an opportunity to level up. We can have massive amounts of fun, experience joy, & be exhilarated when we recognize the current problem is the Adventure! It is the current Golden Opportunity the Universe is serving up to us!
So will you embrace your current problems (aka Gifts of the Universe) & use them to move to the next level AND recognize the joy of the process of solving the problem, challenge, riddle, or opportunity?
Or will you play the victim? Or hide? Or run?
The choice is always yours (and mine).
Are we playing full out at the game of life?
Are we leveling up?
Are we embracing the challenge and having fun on the adventure?
Or are we getting played by life?
I choose to take 100% responsibility, have massive fun on the journey, play full out, & keep leveling up! By making this choice my problems become my life’s greatest adventures, the truly precious gifts, and I get to enjoy life right now instead of waiting in perpetuity to solve all my problems—which will never happen because our problems are never going away remember?
What will you choose the next time you are faced with one of life’s problem?
What mindset will you approach it with?
What will your experience be?
Whatever you choose, know that the choice is always yours. And know that you can always make a new choice. Today. Right now.
Your favorite Life Alchemist,
Justin David Carl
P.S. Here are some resources that have helped me cultivate the Life Alchemist mindset:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dwek
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
The Landmark Forum (this an experiential weekend workshop, powerful stuff)