How do you like to spend your life? What do you desire? what if money didn't matter? What if money was no object? What would you like to do if money were no object?
Last month I participated in my second Date With Destiny experience. This is a program led by Tony Robbins that focuses on identifying the core values driving you today, the new values you want to live by and using this new “inner compass” to direct your life in an even more fulfilling manner. There was a lot to take in over the six days, but one distinction that I came away with is that we control the meaning of our lives (past, present and future).
No matter what.
No matter what has happened in the past, no matter what troubling conditions we are dealing with in the present, and no matter how potentially bleak the future looks; we can create our own meanings from the experience and either use it to empower ourselves or cast ourselves as a victim.
In the same way that one person could love a day full of bright sunshine and another could cower with fear of getting sunburn, so it is that we can define how we react to situations, memories and possibilities in a way that serves us or in a way that doesn’t.
Alison and I headed up to Deception Pass State Park for a last-minute overnight camping adventure. We’ve gotten in the habit of going on overnight camping trips through the summer (OK, this is our third one!). Even one night of camping is enough to clear out the cobwebs from a full week of everyday tasks and drama. As soon as I arrive at a campsites I shut off my phone. This time I had Once of Runner with me to pass the time.
Deception Pass is on Whidbey Island, about 100 miles north of Seattle, WA. It was a 90 minute drive. There are two routes to get there, one involving a ferry (shorter by distance and more scenic, but more expensive and time-consuming considering the ferry ticket and wait times) and the other by driving around to the top of the island and down to Deception Pass. We choose the latter route.
There are over 300 campsites, with all the basic toilet amenities you would expect. 2/3 of the sites can be reserved ahead of time, and many of those sites have great peek-a-boo views of the water (one of the straits just north of Puget Sound). The other campsites are decent, they do not have great views, but there is plenty of privacy since the sites are well spaced out with plenty of plant overgrowth between the sites. There is a well-stocked convenience store just before entering the park in case you need provisions.
There are several of beaches nearby (just a few hundred meters) from the campsites with sandy shores, calm water, driftwood to lounge on and also a large lake (Cranberry Lake) where folks were fishing and canoeing. We saw quite a few stand-up paddle-boarders and kayaks. In theory people also swim in the water here, but it was too cold for that when we were there. Trails also meander through the park for those who like to get in some trail running or hiking.
For $31 ($21/night for the campsite and $10 for two bundles of wood) – this is a highly relaxing and fun way to spend the weekend for less than the cost of a trip to the movies. Oh yeah, for dinner we made gluten-free mac & cheese & s’mores.
Ran across a refreshing story today about Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire who sold off his homes, car and many possessions years ago and lives a simpler life than most people with a fraction of his net worth. Granted, it does appear that he isn’t slumming it by any means, preferring to live in 5 star hotels instead of his own homes, but his comments are insightful:
“Everybody is different and I think that we live in a material world. But for me, possessing things is not that interesting. Living in a grand environment to show myself and others that I have wealth has zero appeal. Whatever I own is temporary, since we’re only here for a short period of time. It’s what we do and produce, it’s our actions, that will last forever. That’s real value.”
On why he doesn’t get that much enjoyment from owning things:
“First, I don’t need it. Secondly, maybe in a bizarre kind of way, I don’t want to be dependent on it or have the responsibility. I don’t get that much enjoyment out of saying ‘I own it.’ “
I’ve ready several of John Robbin’s previous books, including Diet for a New America and Healthy at 100. Both were awesome, and his latest book, The New Good Life, is no exception. Robbin’s story is remarkable not just because he eschewed a life of privilege at a young age (he was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune and destined to take over the business, but gave it up to live off the land in a log cabin for 10 years) but because his message is so clear, supported by facts yet engaging to read.
The book states that “The New Good Life” can be had by anyone who is willing to focus on what brings joy in life and not what prevailing market trends and peers dictate as necessary parts of a successful life. Do we need multiple fancy cars? Do we need large expensive houses? Do we need to work long hours in jobs that don’t bring fulfillment? Do we need to spend money we don’t have on food that is destroying our health and the environment? Those are all trappings of the “old good life” and no longer sustainable for the exploding modern world population.
What I like about this book is that it is NOT a book about minimalism. I personally do not believe a minimal lifestyle is inherently better than a highly consumptive one. There are many positive benefits, however, of being happy with less, when the motivation in doing so is appropriate. That is exactly the message in this book. Explore the possibility that you might be happy with less. Challenge yourself to really focus on the things that bring you happy and your family joy, and do more of those things and less of the rest.
I read this book in a single weekend…..it’s that good – though I did skip the chapter on health as it repeats similar messages as covered in his previous books.
My last two books were both written by vegan endurance athletes. Eat & Run by Scott Jurek and more recently Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. Both were enjoyable reads and inspiring. What I like about Finding Ultra is the focus on multi-sport athletics (triathlon). Rich also has a very unique background; having been a standout student, lawyer and national-level competitive swimmer…all the while battling alcoholism.
If you like Eat & Run, you will definitely enjoy Finding Ultra. However, I did think Eat & Run was a better book overall. It interleaved more plant-based nutritional guidance throughout the book. Finding Ultra, while it did have nutritional advice, seemed to be pitching supplementation using products from a company Rich Roll is involved with. Eat & Run focused on recipes you can cook at home – I like that. I also just think Eat & Run was better written and overall more inspiring a story (Scott Jurek has done some pretty gnarly races and has a much longer endurance race history!).
So do read both books if you can. If you need to pick one, go with Eat & Run.
I thought I knew Scott’s story, but there is a lot in this book that was totally new to me. He had a tough upbringing and surprising stories about his races. For example, I knew he raced the Hardrock 100, but I had no idea he did it on a nearly broken ankle! I also knew he raced (and won) the Spartathlon, a 150 mile race in Greece, but I didn’t he won it twice!
The book also introduces a few dozen vegan recipes….that are quite good. I made his recipe for mushroom-lentil veggie burgers and they turned out amazingly well. Nice to read a story about someone who is performing at a world-class athletic level on a plant-based diet.