Reinvention is a response moment where you are given the option to access a greater consciousness that can lead to a life of joy. Yet, the life of TEDx speaker and Prison Break author Jason Goldberg didn’t start with joy but with a lot of anger. As a kid, Jason was constantly looking for a person to blame. This weighed heavily on him, even when he was living a great life with a great wife, family and job in IT. The day his credit card was cut off and he couldn’t buy a pair of socks was the day he realized he needed to stop blaming others and start developing a sense of radical responsibility. His livelihood and even what he does on stage to inspire people doesn’t define who he is, rather who he chooses to be at any given moment. Jason shares his story of being a guy who always carried a blame meter to the man who passionately spreads joy to the world as much as he can.
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Reaction, Reinvention and Radical Responsibility with Jason Goldberg
I feel so blessed that I get to be able to do this. There are always ‘pinch me’ moments because I can’t believe I get to do this with my life, which is spectacular. It’s maybe more than a few years ago that I’d wake up in the morning and feel dread to start the day. There was no enthusiasm for what I was about to do. No amount of money curiously enough could cure that. I made plenty of money. I get excited about the money from time to time but it certainly wasn’t filling up my heart. I just want to be in gratitude openly and give thanks for all the blessings in my life and all the blessings in this moment, including the blessing of this breath, just the ability to breathe and to breathe collectively with thousands and thousands of people. Even if it was just myself or with one other person, how blessed we all are, how blessed I am in feeling this moment because as I’m taking in this breath and having this awareness, even listening to the sound of my voice, I’m feeling it. I’m feeling that there are people in this moment who are taking their last breath and thinking that this moment right now is a sacred moment. It’s a holy moment. What we do with it, that’s our true freewill.
I am grateful. I feel blessed to be here. I’m so excited that I get to also share this podcast with a wonderful man doing incredible things in the world who was introduced to me through a mutual friend. It’s great to have Jason Goldberg on the podcast and to find out more about you, learn more about you, get to know you, get to know what jazzes you up, what excites you, and even where your pivots have been. You’re a TEDx speaker, you’ve written international best-selling books and all that kind of thing. Rather than me say things about you, I’d love to hear from you what’s important in your life, where you’ve been and then we’ll get into some of the good, juicy pivot stuff as well. Without further ado, Jason, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I appreciate it. I just want you to call me every morning and say everything you just said about gratitude. I’m taking the breaths and I’m like, “This is not a podcast interview we’re doing. This is a gift.” The mechanism happens to be a podcast interview, but what a gift. What has to line up in every single element of the Earth and what we understand and we don’t understand for you and I to be doing this right now? From a technology perspective, from a consciousness perspective, from everything that happened in both of our lives to get us here in this moment, and our parents, this went from a podcast interview to God in a box. It’s crazy. That wouldn’t have happened had you not said what you just said, so thank you for that.
I love that you’ve glossed over some of the things I’ve done because that’s not who I am. That’s the least of who I am. Writing books and speaking and whatever I do to make money is the least of who I am. Who I am in this moment is somebody who is just deeply passionate about spreading as much joy as he can in the world. My business plan and my life plan are the same. It’s to lead people with 5% more joy than I found them with. That’s who I am, is a man who as much as he is able to not be in his ego and not be self-indulgent and go through the mental masturbation of thinking, “I’m the center of the universe,” whenever I’m not doing that, which I still do because I’m human, I am just focused on serving people and loving the crap out of them and doing whatever I can to make the world a little teeny bit better.
I’m not saying you’re preaching. I just feel like, “That’s amen for me. That’s a ‘yes, chin up, eyes wide open’ moment and I appreciate you saying it that way. Joy is so freaking important. I like distinctions and I play with words. It’s part of my nature. Do you see a difference between joy and happiness?
I have seen them.
You could put whatever words you want on them. One of them says, “Spirit of play,” because I want to always be reminded to bring a spirit of play to everything I do. To me, happiness sounds like a now and it sounds like a destination. It sounds like something that you have for a while and as soon as you grasp it, as quickly as you grasp it, it goes away. For me, joy is a sense of something you can come from. It’s not something you attain. It’s something you come from. I think joy leads to happiness. I think joy leads to fulfillment. At my core, at my base and the words I interchange a lot, my number one core value, the thing that really drives me when I still feel those times where you’re just not super jazzed, you’re not super excited, you’re not super motivated, just because I’m doing the work, I’m building the world doesn’t mean I’m always on cloud nine. What I recognize though is that anytime I tap into and recognize that enthusiasm, me coming from a place of joy and enthusiasm is the only thing that separates me from having a shit experience of life and having the most glorious experience of life possible. As soon as I know that and it clicks in my head, my entire experience of the world changes.
That lines up so well for me. When I think of joy, it’s a feeling and it’s a state of being versus a thing we’re attaining or aspiring to. When we’re doing well financially, we’re happy. When we’re in vacation, we’re happy. When we get a good cocktail in our hands, when it’s done its magic, we’re happy. It’s so fleeting. Balance is bullshit too because it’s, “I’m in balance, I’m not.” There’s a lot of work involved. Yin and yang is not balance, it’s harmony or maybe they’re related. I just feel like it’s harmony. When it comes to joy, this is something we can have while we’re cleaning up the dogshit. I know that’s an extreme example of digging ditches or anything, we have to do things in life. Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, she tells a story of somebody else eating a shit sandwich. Then she talks about the passion for things that bring joy. For her, it was writing and for this friend of hers, he loves writing. He was a writer, he was talented, but all he ever did was complain about it. All he ever did was complain that creative writing, fiction writing, “My dad’s a fiction writer,” that the whole thing was fixed, it was rigged. If you weren’t commercial, you couldn’t be successful. The whole thing sucked. The guy was a great writer and he loved writing, but he was in misery all the time.
She’s like, “He’s got his half-eaten shit sandwich.” In fact she told him, “Get up from the table and leave it. You need to stop writing. Take a year off or two and see if the joy comes back to you.” As he was going to get up and leave the table and leave the shit sandwich sitting there, she’d be like, “Are you done with that?” That’s joy. That means you’re not requiring that things be perfect or that they feel good all the time or that they give you everything your ego wants like validation and all the other stuff that pumps you up, makes you feel more than what your parents made you feel like or what your teachers made. As you put all that pressure on something we call happiness, wherein joy is the place that you can be while you’re cleaning up after your puppy or you’re doing any number of other things that you might not necessarily love in the moment, but you can still do it with joy. Does that dovetail with what you’re saying?
Yeah, it’s the key to everything. The other MyIntent bracelet that I have says, “Amor fati,” Latin for “love your fate.” It’s the same thing. Your fate can be picking up the dog shit. Your fate can be billing your clients. Your fate can be being stuck in traffic. What if you could love the crap out of that moment? The story that I love that illustrates this amor fati so much is Edison had his entire research facility that was engulfed in flames. He lost all this research he and his team had been working on for a decade and literally millions of dollars of damage which, by today’s standards, would have been tens of millions of dollars of damage. He was told that this entire thing is on fire and he comes to the building and it’s just totally engulfed in flames. He turns to his kid and he says, “Go get your mom and go get the town. There has never been a fire like this that anybody will ever see again.” He knew. Who knows maybe that’s an urban legend, but it illustrates the point that your lens through which you see the world dictates the way you experience the world. That’s it. It’s never the circumstance. The lens through which you see the world dictates your experience of the world.
[Tweet “Your lens through which you see the world dictates the way you experience the world.”]
We’re talking about this and immediately, I want to dispel something. People are seeing the two of us, this is our first time really meeting this way. We’ve talked online but this is our first time meeting and your energy is like, “These are my people. This is so easy.” I don’t mean people like tribe. I mean like, “These are my people.” I just see your energy and I love it. People could be watching this and used to seeing your amazing, beautiful smiling face and your energy and my smiling face and my energy and say, “These guys were born this way. What about the rest of us?” I do want to take a step back and talk about how my life was when this was not my default way of being.
I hope that everybody that is listening, and many of you are probably podcasters already, but if you haven’t or you’re not in this space, this is a fun place to play even as a hobby or something as a side hustle or whatever it is to the day job or whatever you’re doing. This is way cool. One of the things that’s way cool about it is occasionally, this is not all the time but if you do, you click with somebody in this thing where they can, not read your mind but it’s like taking the baton. It’s like you’re in a relay race and they just so fluidly, effortlessly take the baton. Thank you for taking us there because that’s the truth, Jason. We’d all think that people, whoever you’re looking up to, it could be somebody in the business, in the personal development space, it could be a celebrity or whoever, you think they’ve got it going and even whatever problems they’ve got, they’re pretty under control because of their celebrity, their money or whatever. You’re missing a lot if you’re not able to see that we’re all so connected and so much more one than you would think. Somebody, their fate can be, “I got the world by the tail,” and by the thinnest of margins, they could be in a situation where they don’t have anything by the tail, where they feel like the world’s got them by the tail.
That distinction or that thin wave of hair, just difference between those two experiences of living is profound. Therefore, thank you for taking us into the belly of the beast a little bit so people can understand that you have great energy and all of that and yet, I know I’ve had anxiety in my life, I’ve dealt with probably borderline depression, I got bullied when I was a kid, I’ve been in shit in my life at times, I’ve cheated and lied and done all kinds of things and thankfully, I didn’t fuck things up so, so badly. I’m married 28 years and thank goodness I did not mess up my relationship with my wife. Thank you, God. Our kids are healthy and thank you for that. By the grace of everything, they’re well. Almost anything else, it is icing on the cake. In any event, thank you for bringing that to our attention.
My pleasure and thank you for creating the space where that’s welcomed and that’s invited and it’s encouraged. This is where the juice is. I want to also preface it by saying as I’m telling you some things about how I used to see the world and how I see it now until I don’t because this is not some permanent arrays of thing for better or for worse. You don’t finish personal growth any more than Michael Jordan would finish practicing his jumpshot. He never got to a point where he was like, “Coach, just call me when the game starts and I’ll show up.” Transformation in my mind is instant and lifelong. You can see the insight instantly but it’s a lifelong practice. The first thing I’ll say to preface this is I don’t want anybody to feel inferior because they were not as much of a prisoner of their mind and their life as I was. Don’t be jealous that I was a super victim. If you’re not to my level, it’s okay. I always say, “As successful as I was professionally, I sucked at life for the first 30 years.”
The reason I say that is because from a very young age, like teenage years maybe even before, I was somebody who carried a lot of anger around. I was a very angry kid. I was the one who punched holes in walls and did all kinds of damage to all kinds of inanimate objects. I never directed it towards people, which was good. I never hurt animals, never hurt people, never wanted to fight anybody, but I wanted to kick the crap out of walls and throw things and break things. That was just my thing. While I’d love to chalk that up to teenage hormones, it didn’t go away. Getting into my twenties, I was still just super angry. I was the guy that would chase people in traffic if they cut me off and then be such a wuss. If I caught them, I wouldn’t do shit. I still felt the need I had to chase them down. You know what that’s like or you know what that feeling is, that rage. No matter what happened in my life, if it wasn’t exactly according to the way I wanted it to happen, I only had one response, I only had one reaction and it was anger and it was rage.
Leading up into my late twenties, I was doing great. I was in IT for fifteen years. In my mid-twenties, I became the director of engineering and operations for a tech firm in Florida. I was making well over six figures, doing pretty well on all fronts. I had a nice condo, a nice car, a great wife and all these amazing things. Yet the anger, the depression, the despair, the distress, I had suicidal thoughts from the time I was late teens, early twenties all the way up until my mid to late twenties where there was a bridge that I would drive my wife to work on and after I would drop her off at work and I had to drive back across the bridge, several times I thought about just throwing the wheel to the right, “Why the hell would I be here? This sucks. I’m making all this money and I’m doing all this stuff but I just feel so heavy all the time.”
To top it all off, I had gotten to the point where from a very young age besides being really angry and really heavy with all of this emotional weight and financial weight, I was worried about money and I was raised by a single mother as an only child, so there are always financial things going on. I just had always had these emotional types of weight on me, but also I had physical weight on me. I was really heavy from a very young age. By the time I was fifteen years old, I was 250 pounds, which if you remember being fifteen, that’s when kids are super loving and accepting and they would never judge you based on your appearance. I was a hopeless romantic, so no girls were interested in me. I wanted them to be and they would always go to my friends. Fifteen is not a good time to be 250 pounds. It got worse and worse and worse up to the point where in 2009, in my late twenties, I had gotten up to 332 pounds. I was 40% body fat. I was dying a slow death is really what it was.
Something really interesting happened one day. I was at work in this IT company and I went to go make a purchase on Amazon. My credit card got declined. It wasn’t a big purchase. I was buying $100 worth of socks. I’m a sock person. I love funky socks because I think as guys, we don’t have a whole lot of ways to show our self-expression. I went to go buy these socks, the card got declined. I tried the number again, the card got declined. It said, “Call your bank for further assistance.” I call my bank and I’m super angry. In personal growth we have mantras like, “I want to bring the spirit of love and life into the world and bring joy to all the children.” My mantra growing up was, “Who can I blame?” Essentially, that was my mantra. Who can I blame as far as like, “The customers are so damn demanding, that’s why I’m so stressed. My boss is such an idiot. He doesn’t know what’s really going on. The stupid this and the stupid that, and the guy that cut me off.” I’m just constantly looking around with a blame meter, just trying to find somebody that I can make responsible for all the shit that I’m feeling.
I’m a recovering blamer as well and an angerholic too. I had a ten-minute seminar in my late 30’s and I’d never been in one before. They did a breakthrough exercise and the thing that I broke through in that first thing was anger. That’s what was written there for me, so I know. I’m with you.
It’s huge and it feels uncontrollable. You feel like there’s no way. People tell you, “Why do you get angry? Why do you react that way?” It’s like you’re speaking in another language. “What do you mean? What other way would I react?” Then I’m going to be angry at you for asking that question. On this day, I got super angry. I’m boiling with rage that my card got declined which 99% of people would say, “Just call the bank and deal with it.” That’s not the lens through which I saw the world. I saw myself being held prisoner by somebody else who’s doing something to me. I called the bank and I mashed the zero button 1,000 times so I can get a freaking live person. I was so pissed off at the automated crap. I finally get this super sweet guy on the phone named Stephen who I wanted to murder because he was so well-trained and so sweet. That’s the last thing you want to hear when you’re really pissed off. I yelled at him to say, “Tell me why the hell my card was declined.” He said there were some potentially fraudulent charges on the account, so they had cut my card off.
Instead of being grateful that my bank was watching after my funds, I got double pissed. “Who stole my money? Who can I blame? Who hacked my identity?” I demanded to know what the charges were. He says, “Mr. Goldberg, it looks like there were four fast food transactions in one day. We assumed that somebody had stolen your credit card and were making small purchases with it before making a big purchase.” These were not fraudulent charges. This was what a 332-pound Jason does. He eats at four fast food restaurants in one day. This is the day that I say the universe cut me off, that a $1 billion bank said, “You are an out of control fat ass and cannot be trusted with your own money.” That’s what they told me. It took a multi-billion dollar bank to tell me that. It didn’t happen immediately. I’d love to say like, “That was my epiphany and I took control of my life.” No. I got pissed off and I blamed some more.
A little bit later on, I was realizing that the thought of blaming others, I was really trying hard to find who I could blame for this and it kept coming back to me. For whatever reason, I realized that it wasn’t my genetics that made me fat. It wasn’t that my mom worked a lot and we didn’t have home-cooked meals. It wasn’t that I lived in Florida and it was too hot to go outside and play and exercise. It was that I was literally taking no personal responsibility for my life. That’s it. I had to get really honest with myself and that took me years of work to start shifting that lens from being a prisoner of circumstance to what I now call being a self-leader and really having that radical sense of personal responsibility.
That’s part of the title of your book, Prison Break.
Yes. It’s all about that distinction that at any given moment, we can be owners of our spirit. That we can lead with our thoughts instead of being led by our thoughts. We can bring a spirit of play, of curiosity, of creativity, of relaxation, of consciousness to what we are facing in the world instead of just being the inflatable tube man that’s out in front of the car dealership that’s just flailing in the wind and hoping that it doesn’t get knocked down by a gust of wind and hoping that somebody better is in the White House and that the economy turns around or that your spouse or your friends or your boss starts doing what they should be doing so that your life can be better. I did that for 30 years and it was a full-time job and then like, “Who’s here living my life while I’m out there trying to mold and modify and manipulate everything around me to try to be happy?”
Our company has a foundation that’s all about creating peace. The essence of what we want to share with people is that creating peace in the world is an act of self-responsibility. Could we all be selfish? Every time I say, “Part of what our company is committed to where we spend time and contribute money and things is to create world peace.” They go, “Let me see your pageant wave.” They don’t take me seriously. I was running a company for several years where that was what we were conveying to thousands and thousands of people and stuff like that. I would always get those people who say, “World peace, nice. Good luck with that.” Can you imagine a world where everybody is just selfish? Whether we admit it or not or whether you give it a negative pejorative meaning or something positive, we’re all selfish. Everybody is selfish. That’s not a stretch. If we can just imagine a world where not all 8 billion people, but just enough where like Malcolm Gladwell talks about a Tipping Point, where there’s a tipping point and if enough people that are selfishly working on themselves, working on, I want to use your phrase, that you’re guiding your mind, not having your mind guide you or something along those lines.
Instead of being thought-led, being a true thought leader. We talk about being a thought leader in our industry, but just as a human being leading myself with my thoughts instead of being led by my thoughts.
To me, the getting control of your mind ultimately produces inner peace. When we talk about all the things that we want and that we strive for at times, including success, money, fulfillment, acknowledgment, significance, all of those things on the hierarchy of needs that Maslow spoke about and Tony Robbins talks about and teaches about and all that. At the end, at the top, self-actualization is peace. That is what we’re talking about. It’s inner peace. That’s an act that’s not a one-and-done. It’s an awakening and once there’s an awakening, the job is never done. It’s never finished. Now, it’s instant and forever. It’s a vigilance. It’s a responsibility ongoingly for our own experience of living. How do we experience ourselves being? That experience of being can be angry, it can be sad, it can be peaceful, and it can be loving. When enough people are selfishly working on themselves in that way, there’s a point where we’ll just go, “What’s happened? What shifted? What’s different?”
If we take a deep breath right now, it’s possible that enough people around the world taking a deep breath for themselves and feeling peace and wanting peace, our world would be peaceful. Bombs and missiles and things stop flying in the moment that enough people are focused on that and committed to that, that it’s what gets expressed versus describing yourself. I’m the same way, having been through such angry periods or an extended period of frustration, anger, disappointment and then self-loathing and then all the things we do to self-soothe, all that that we move past that. Not when you fix or resolve it in its entirety but when you’re just simply moving beyond that. You’re different. Everybody impacted by you is different as a result of you being different. The ripple of that is world-changing. I assume, on some level, that’s what motivated you to write the book. Writing a book can be torturous. Promoting a book and all that kind of thing could be a big, big challenge or whatever it is. You went down that road for a reason. Will you share a little bit about what did motivate you to do it?
I want to say something first about you and about your book and what you’re doing. When we were talking about pivot, you used a word that just keeps coming up for me as I hear you talk and it keeps coming up over and over, this word reinvention. I think a lot of people think, especially with things like the word pivot and reinvention that it’s always the big stuff but it’s not always the big stuff. I’ve had huge reinventions going from IT to being an entrepreneur and starting two companies before becoming a speaker and a coach and having one of those companies blow up in a bad way and losing a bunch of money, tens of thousands of dollars on that and having a second company that did considerably better and now my third company. It’s easy to say, “That’s a big reinvention and that’s a big pivot. Losing 130 pounds, that’s a big reinvention.” Those are great and I don’t want to discount those. My reinvention is when I wake up and I don’t want to get out of bed and I do anyways. My reinvention is when I think a client’s going to sign up and then they tell me at the last minute, “I’m sorry, I can’t do it anymore,” that I can experience that and not have it drag me down into the pit of despair. Reinvention happens in a moment, in that breath, in that acknowledgment of being able to cultivate inner peace. The biggest reinvention in the world happens moment by moment. We know this intuitively. If you think about putting a baby to sleep, which type of baby is easier to put to sleep: one that’s calm or one that’s screaming and crying and fussy? We know this.
If we cultivate inner peace, if we’re not screaming and crying and fussing in our thoughts, in our world, imagine what’s possible for us to create as a society. This is not about meditating in the Himalayas and selling all your belongings and moving to an ashram in India. It’s about living meditatively. It’s about being so in love with the moment that you’re in, that you can’t do anything but just love and have compassion for your own thoughts. When you lead with that, you can’t help but love and have compassion for everybody else and their thoughts.
Tell us about your book.
Prison Break, it’s the lenses that we’re talking about. It really is about this moment-by-moment choice. That we can either be a self-leader or we can be a prisoner. The thing about this is that it’s a core tenet of the work that I do. I don’t do right or wrong, I don’t do good or bad. Being a self-leader versus being a prisoner is not a moral thing. It’s not an ethical thing. It doesn’t make you smarter or better if you’re a self-leader, and stupider and unevolved if you’re a prisoner. It’s about access to how you use the tool of your mind. In my world, at any given moment, your mind is either an asset or an asshole. You choose how you use it. When I’m speaking to corporate audience I’ll say, “Asset versus liability.” Your mind can either be an asset or an asshole, you choose.
For me, I was raised in a household where prisoner language and prisoner thinking was the default language, so I became fluent in that. If you are raised in a household that speaks nothing but French, you’re not stupid if you don’t speak Spanish. You’re not unevolved if you don’t speak Spanish. You just didn’t have access to it. The goal of this book was to say, “Historically, I get that ten minutes ago or ten weeks ago or ten years ago, you were a prisoner. I get that. It’s an emotional data point on the calendar. Given the conditions of the game that I’m playing in now, what do I want to create?” That’s that whole moment-by-moment transition. I have prisoner moments all the time. It’s why I’m uniquely qualified to still teach this message. If I ever come to a point where I never have prisoner moments, this whole message goes away and I stop teaching it.
What’s an example of a prisoner moment for you?
[Tweet “We can lead with our thoughts instead of being led by our thoughts.”]
A prisoner moment is anything where I react instead of respond. If somebody cuts me off at traffic and I yell and scream, that’s a prisoner moment. If somebody doesn’t sign up when I think they’re going to sign up as a coach of me and I curse them and I think they’re horrible people, that’s a prisoner moment. You spill something on the couch and you get all pissed off about it, prisoner moment. They can be big or small, but essentially it’s when I say, “That shouldn’t be happening.” It’s when I argue with reality. Byron Katie, who’s one of my mentors and somebody I just love beyond words, says, “When you argue with reality, you lose but only always.”
When I’m a prisoner, it’s me arguing with reality. It’s me thinking something should be different than it is. When I’m a self-leader I say, “This is supposed to be happening because if it wasn’t supposed to be happening, it wouldn’t be.” Given that’s the case, given that that’s reality, it’s not about lying to yourself and saying that things that are happening around you are not happening. It’s not like saying, “The guy didn’t cut me off at traffic. He liberated me from my speed.” It’s not about stupid crap reframes. It’s about saying, “The guy cut me off and that’s not all that significant.”
Learning to live meditatively, is that an example of that?
Absolutely. One of my mantras for that is I say, “So what? Now what?” ‘So what’ means it’s not that significant and ‘now what’ is given the current reality that I’m in, what would I love to create, what would be ideal?
We were podcasting with Daniel Gutierrez, who’s working on a book called Radical Mindfulness. He’s spent time in the Obama administration and a number of other political spaces that he’s been an adviser and things like that. He’s been really successful. Also similar to you and I, has had challenges with dealing with his emotions and the lens and how he sees the world, etc. He talks about that moment of being in the car and somebody does cut you off or they do something and then you’re racing against them. He just says, “Either way, you can soften. In that moment, you get the opportunity to soften your eyes, take your foot off the gas. Just ease up, just ease off the gas. Ease off the pedal.” That feels very similar to what you’re describing. It’s not a crap reframe. It’s not ignoring reality, which is some other angry person just cut me off and flipped me the bird and whatever. It’s not that it didn’t happen and, “They’re sending me love. It’s just their way of giving me this New York sign for love.” That’s not what happened just then. Where you get to choose response versus reaction and what does response look like, that response moment is a meditative moment. It’s a contemplative moment. It’s a moment of an option for greater consciousness, greater access to something. My something is God, spirit, love. That’s what I want to access. You either see these things as assets. You can experience it as an asset or you can experience it as an asshole. When I’ve reacted, I know that my reaction is an asshole. It’s how I react in those moments.
When I do live talks, especially corporate kind of talks, I’ll run through a whole model of this and talk about self-leadership because we talk about this conceptually, they’ll say, “What do I do when somebody cuts me off in traffic? What should be my response?” I say, “There are a couple of different things you can do there. You can do the reframe.” This is about no right or wrong. This is about effective versus ineffective. It’s about productive versus unproductive. If you, doing the reframe, “This person cut me off and they liberated me from my speed,” if that’s effective for you, that’s fine. Every system is perfect for the result you’re getting. If you love your result, don’t change the system. If you want a different result, try a different system. You could do that. You can do the reframe.
The super enlightened Buddha level of this is to recognize when these things happen, when you have any heavy emotion, I won’t even call them negative emotions, but something that feels heavy, like a sadness or an anger or a depression or whatever it is, is to recognize that it is a thought. It almost seems too simple, not that you have to do anything with the thought, just to recognize that it is a thought. The way I do that is I call it my Britney Spears moment. When I get really pissed off about something, I’ll slow down for a second and I go, “Oops, I did it again.” What that means is, “There is a thought in my head, there is a little ping in my head and I’m believing it to be true.” I don’t have to do anything with it. All I have to do is say, “There is that thing. That’s that thing that I do sometimes. That thing can just hang out there. I don’t need to do anything with that thing.” It’s not the content of my thoughts that make me upset. It’s the fact that I’m just believing whatever the thought is in my head.
Our thoughts, they’re in our head, they’re from us. To not believe something we think is foreign. I’ve taught a lot of people about this. Yet at the same time when I hear my own thoughts, I think somehow, “That’s me. It’s got to be good.” The other piece of what we teach for creating our own piece is that we care for ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally. If you love yourself unconditionally and those thoughts come up, the conversation about the thoughts, about divorcing or knowing the difference between the thoughts and you, what does that look like in your head?
Here is the first thing I think about that. It really woke me up big time when it finally became apparent to me that I’m actually not normally thinking I’m being thought. The proof for that for me is that there is yet to be a time in my life, even as an adult doing this work where I’m a lot more evolved or enlightened or whatever other cool word, what I recognized was that there is yet to be a day in my life where I can wake up and say, “I’m not going to have any thoughts for the next hour. Universe, once I say that I’m ready to start thinking, then you can allow thoughts to happen.” It doesn’t happen. When I’m in that limbo between being asleep and being awake, the thoughts are already there. There’s no possible way that I’m controlling that. To me, thoughts are like spam emails. You can’t control spam being sent to you, but you can control what you do with the spam once it arrives. I don’t have to take responsibility for all my thoughts. I can unsubscribe and they’ll go into a separate folder and that’s fine. Some of them will stop and that’s fine too, but they’ll come back again because somebody will sign me up for a Viagra-based newsletter and I’ll start getting them again. It’s fine. It really is recognizing like, “Just because a thought is in my head, it doesn’t make it mine.” Just because a thought is in your head doesn’t make it yours. Just because a thought is in your head, it doesn’t make it true. The more you think about something, does not make it more true. The more you think about something, the more you think about something. That’s it.
Those thoughts control us from the point of waking. I’d say it’s through the point of waking because it definitely is a round-the-clock thing. We don’t stop thinking even when we’re sleeping, we’re just not aware of what’s going on; getting control of that. I’m a recovering control freak. On the one hand I go, “I want to try to control my thoughts,” but really I just want to see them for what they really are. I think that’s what’s beautiful about what you just shared, is that it’s a seeing reality. It’s not an ignoring reality by trying to pretend what’s real isn’t real. It’s real. I’m thinking that. I love that example. I’ve not heard that one before, so I’m going to borrow that with pride and give you full credit.
It probably isn’t mine anyways. I haven’t had original thought my whole life.
Socrates said, “All learning is remembering,” so he must have said it because somebody else said it to him. Socrates stood on the shoulders of people before him and we stand on Socrates. In some way in the future, there’ll be one or two things that we all get a chance to say or do that other people can stand on and use and that’s how the world continues in a good direction, which I believe it is. I don’t consider myself an optimist. I grew up in Queens, New York. I wasn’t born to be an optimist. I just feel that our world is genuinely okay. We’re safe. It’s good. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a shit ton of things that we’ve got to work on and be focused on. It’s the lens that we see things through. If we see it through a crap lens and everything is always broken and missing and there’s all this catastrophe, we catastrophize. It colors the way we experience living. That’s one of the things you said that the lens through which we see the world is how we experience living in the world.
I wear actual glasses, so this is an easy one for me. When I have schmutz on one of my lenses, a dirt or a smudge or something on your lens, everywhere I look, I see the smudge. I’m scraping the wall trying to get the smudge off. I’m scraping the table and I’m scraping the human beings that are in front of me because the smudge must be on them because that’s what I see. I’m not realizing that my projector of my mind is projecting that smudge on everything I see. Instead of trying to clean the world, when I clean the smudge, all of a sudden, the world is clean, but it has to start with me; self-responsibility and creating that peace in that moment by ourselves. This is the micro and the macro. The macro is we want world peace. We can’t control the macro but we have 1,000% control over the micro, so focus on that micro. If we all focus on the micro, as lofty as it may sound but as simple as it is, it makes an incredible difference.
Share one ritual, practice, master habit, something you do to keep yourself there. Where you are right now, you’re on fire. I know this for a fact that where you stand and where you sit and where you are meditating and living in a meditative way the way you are right now, isn’t a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week thing for you because you’re just a human being. What are the rituals that keep you more often outperforming your problems, outperforming your challenges and just one step ahead of that crazed monkey mind, that survivalist, reptilian, fear-based, angry, insecure, that little part of all of us, how do you stay one step ahead of that?
[Tweet “Gratitude is the key to being in this ever-present state of joy.”]
In my book, I call that the baby assassin. I call that quieting the baby assassin because I literally picture a little baby in a ninja gi inside my head that’s karate chopping and doing all this crap for me inside. I’m like, “You little piece of shit. Get out of here.” Just chopping, just death by a thousand cuts just trying to get to me. We actually accidentally talked about this and it’s something that I practice, I shared it in my TEDx Talk. It’s something that for me takes gratitude to a whole new level because I really believe that gratitude is the key to being in this ever-present state of joy. I forget that 23 hours and 57 minutes out of the day. I just forget that. I think there’s something else I need to be doing to be joyful, but gratitude is it. It sounds super simple and trite but it is. People say, “Okay,” but then I go through the exercise. I literally was just talking to somebody and she’s like, “This whole gratitude thing, I get it. I sit down and I go, ‘I’m grateful for my house,’ I’m grateful for it but it’s not doing anything. It’s real but it doesn’t really change my state.” I say to them, “That’s because you’re not seeing the significance in the thing that you’re grateful for. You’re not seeing all the things that had to line up for you to have that thing to be grateful for.”
The practice that I shared was when I was in my corporate job and then when I got out and became an entrepreneur, I would always go to the same Starbucks every morning to get my coffee. It was the same thing. I would get in, place my order, go to the end of the counter, a couple of minutes later my coffee was there, I’d walk out. For whatever reason, one day, I was feeling down and just not feeling totally with it, and I got my coffee. For some reason when they handed it to me, I slowed down for a minute. I took a breath, that deep breath that we talked about. I looked at this cup and I said, “Do you know all the things that had to align in the universe for this cup to be in my hand right now?” I really slowed that down and thought about the raw materials that had to be collected for the cup to be created, the equipment that had to be invented to process the raw materialsto create this cup, all the people that had to be trained to use the equipment, the people who then ship it, all the logistical things that are involved to get it from one part of the country to another, to the person who delivered the cups to my actual Starbucks, to my barista who actually took my order and had to grab that cup and put the coffee in it. Then all of the people in all of their lives that helped them to be where they are in that moment so they could serve me this one cup of coffee.
When I can see the smallest, little mundane daily things as being God in a box, which I’ve never said that before until this thing so this is not a thing I’ve said, when I see that every single moment is literally God in a box, how can I not be overly joyed that I get to live the life that I’m living? Not that I have to do all these things on my to-do list, which I definitely get my head about or that I have to have all these calls with clients that I definitely get my head about. When I really slow down and see what a gift all this is, how can I not be enthusiastic about life?
I think it’s the perfect place to transition to how we’ll remind ourselves of the important things as we conclude.
I’m so passionate about having people get access to the message in Prison Break. I think we’re somewhere close to 10,000 copies sold now. I just get messages every day from people about the book, and I couldn’t give a crap about book sales. Anybody who puts out a book to make money, they have a rude awakening coming. I want the message to spread as much as possible. I’m going to give you a link so you can get a totally free copy. You can get a Kindle, a PDF, an audio version or the actual paperback if you’re in the US. You just go to GetPrisonBreak.com/PivotPodcast. That will be just for you and that’s my gift to you. The other place to check me out is one of the big things that I’m most passionate about in the world that we’ve talked about, which is being more playful. I have a program called Playful Prosperity that I run once a year. It’s all about really playing your way to prosperity, bringing the spirit of play to everything you do so that you can actually experience more joy in your life and in your business. That’s something that I just absolutely love and it’s the love of my life in that program.
Whatever you’re up to, whether you’ve been stuck right where you are, you couldn’t move another inch until you listen to the rest of this podcast, whatever you’re up to, take a deep breath right now. Take a moment just to give yourself a wonderful moment, a present. I’m waving the magic wand so we all get to wake up tomorrow because we know that that is both on a metaphoric level and a practical level. We get to wake up in a moment when we know that not everybody gets to do that. We also get the chance to just become more aware, become a little more aware of ourselves, of our thoughts and of the reality of our thoughts. So much of that was discussed during this podcast. What a beautiful way to remind us, A) We want to wake up, B) We want to be in gratitude and C) Wake up, be in gratitude, put your feet on the floor tomorrow morning and declare out loud if you’re willing, in front of yourself, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” Blessings to you all. Have a beautiful rest of your day. We’ll see you very, very soon in PIVOT Podcast. Ciao.