Roots.

Three coconut trees are planted near the coast of the Island of Maui. 

One palm tree focuses its energy on impressing tourists by growing the most delicious coconuts on the island. It seeks constant validation from others.

The second tree wants to be respected for being the tallest coconut tree on the island. It grows its stem thick but not flexible to impress or scare others.

The third coconut tree is small and has average coconuts. It focused its energy on building strong roots deep into the ground.

A massive storm approaches from the north. High winds howl into the darkness of the night. The storm ends swiftly the following morning leaving the coastal town in pieces. 

The first tree is uprooted, flying into the depths of the ocean. It spent a majority of its life trying to please others and thus had tremendously weak roots.

The second coconut tree wasn’t flexible enough to weather the storm. It spent its whole life trying to earn respect through fear and power. Its insecurities cracked under the immense power of the storm.

The third coconut tree survives the storm. Its roots were well developed and its stem was flexible in the high winds. It wasn’t living to please others or intimidate them through might.

By focusing your energy on your roots you can weather any storm.

By staying flexible, you can bend with the strong winds of life.

 

 

 

Advertisements

What’s Your Dream?

This blog post is about the new American dream and my perspective on it. This post is not to demonize the traditional American dream or to tell you there is a “right” or “wrong” way to live your life. There are many different paths up the mountain.

 

Every decision leads to another. Even the smallest of steps can lead to a big decision in our life. Much of our lives are spent preparing, enduring, and recuperating from changes in our life. Suffering occurs when we resist the inevitable changes in our inner or outer environment. Our dreams change as well. Many achieve celebrity and find out they are even more miserable than before. We must adapt and change with our dreams.

Complacence and stagnation is the easiest route but in the long run, they often lead to disappointing results. Often the more difficult route leads to joy, contentment, and freedom. Freedom, in my opinion, is the most important concept for humanities overall happiness. Freedom is the American Dream. More importantly, freedom is the dream of all sentient beings.

I distinctly remember at 12 or 13 years old learning about the reality of the American dream. At this point in my childhood, I realized that the American dream sounded like a nightmare!! The American dream was not my dream. To work a job I disliked for 40 plus years and buy a house that would take 30 years to pay off sounded horrifying. I couldn’t believe that most people wanted this out of their one life. I wanted something different out of my life; to experience true freedom. But as the years went by, I slowly accepted my fate and forgot about my dreams of freedom. By the time I was 17, I wanted to be a millionaire with a wife and kids by the time I was 30 years old. In retrospect, I just wanted to fit in with societal norms. Societal norms are taught to us at an early age by family, teachers, commercials, tv shows, and movies. They shape our perspective at an early age. We end up accepting these norms to fit in so we don’t feel like an outcast. It’s ingrained in our DNA to want to be accepted so we are cast out of our tribe, which would end in our death. In our modern society, we have the freedom to question all societal norms and seek out like-minded individuals who share similar values.

In the past 3 years, I have questioned much of what I learned as a child/young adult about what success is. Is success having a career, wife, and two kids? Do I want a life blanketed with security or a life flourishing with freedom? Luckily my immediate family did not reinforce societal norms and thus allowed me to have an open mind. It was much easier for me to break out of the societal norms with a supportive and understanding family/friends. The biggest realization I have had was that my true dream is similar to what I enjoyed as a kid. I was mesmerized by maps, globes, and open space; now my dream is to travel and works remotely around the world. In many ways, my journey has allowed me to embrace my inner child. The child who was curious and open to new experiences. The inner child was just suffocated by fear, doubt, and worry.

I value freedom over security. I value love over fear; curiosity over indifference. With a shift of perspective comes a shift in our dreams. New possibilities can bring joy instead of fear. Your American dream is whatever you want it to be. Just remember each decision is ours to make and ours to take responsibility for.

Do you truly want freedom? Whats your dream? What must you let go of for you to live the life you want to live?

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

1c5d9dbcc694b1b729502bd38d7db31d

Buddha Nature: Awakening the Inner Child.

In Buddhism, there is the concept of Buddha Nature. Buddha Nature is a state of true compassion, peace, joy, and love for all living beings. Buddha Nature is something we are born with but lose sight of as society covers it with misconceptions, beliefs, myths, and fear.

Who did you want to be when you were a child? Before your family, friends, and your culture told you what to be? The photo above is me playing with Andy circa 1993.

Over the last couple months, I have dealt with old emotional wounds that lay deep inside me from childhood. It wasn’t easy but was much needed for my emotional health and to be at peace. In this difficult & turbulent time period, I also awakened to my inner child inside of me. I started remembering who I was at that time period and who I wanted to be as an adult.

As a small child, I remember envisioning myself to be a kind, strong, healthy, and compassionate adult who helped others. I idolized police officers, firemen, sports athletes, and ninjas for their strength, humility, and bravery. They were peaceful warriors to me who showed strength and compassion. Superheroes like Spiderman, Superman, and Batman emphasized strength, compassion, and humility. They protected the most vulnerable.

As a small child, I remember loving animals so much. I loved all different types of animals with full-hearted compassion. I never would want to hurt another life form. I still remember the day my parents told me what beef was and I was horrified that a cow died and that the juice was cows blood. The day I found out about factory farming was a traumatic experience. I couldn’t believe such a barbaric, inhumane, and unethical institution was allowed. I didn’t realize I could become a vegan to protect the most vulnerable until I was an adult. I suppressed this traumatic experience and continued to eat meat for the next 15 years. This post isn’t all about veganism but veganism is what sparked my transformation into diving deep into my inner child. By showing the most vulnerable (animals) true compassion by my actions I started the process of showing true compassion to myself, others, and the environment. Our true nature as children is to love animals. Society tries to turn that compassion into apathy and we are forced to accept that we have no control over the horrible things happening in the world.

Somewhere in my teens, I lost most of this inner child and I suffered tremendously for it.

I used to smile constantly, dance, be silly, and loved helping others. Around 10 years old, kids started making fun of me for smiling too much (smiley was my nickname) and adults (sports coaches) would shame me for smiling in serious situations. Soon I was taught that smiling, helping others, and being silly was feminine and weak. I started portraying myself more as a serious Mafioso than a fun loving child. My idols turned into Al Capone, Scarface, Charlie Sheen, Tupac, Lil Wayne, and Eminem. I suddenly didn’t smile much anymore, only grind danced, and didn’t help others because no one is helping me. I started not to give a f$%# about anymore, including myself. Eventually, this attitude led me down the path of infidelity, substance abuse, gambling addiction, and anxiety/depression. My inner child was buried under years of fear, judgment, hatred, and myths of masculinity.

As I awaken my inner-child, I feel more inner strength and confidence than I have ever felt before. I have smiled more in the last two months than the past 5 years. I have laughed, joked, and shown love to others. I feel more at peace with myself than I have ever felt. I have finally started my journey as a Peaceful Warrior. My weapons are compassion, empathy, love, and forgiveness. I will never have the strength of Superman or the Ninja Turtles, but I can show compassion and humility to the most vulnerable as they did.

Get back to what you loved to do as a child. Figure out what motivated you and made you happy. Be silly, smile, dance, laugh, and enjoy the simple things in life again. Be curious about the world again. Let go of the stories that hold you back from achieving peace, freedom, and enjoyment in life.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

 

 

 

Authentic Living: Are your Actions Inline with your Values?

Aloha!

In this week’s blog post I want to discuss values, authenticity, and how it can benefit you and the world around us. Authentic living is trending in the mindfulness community because many of us are awakening to the unauthentic world around us. A world where corporations, politicians, and celebrities say one thing but their actions show their true intentions. Let’s not blame them though, we are the problem but also the solution. I’m 27 years old and most of my adult life I have lived an unauthentic life. I portrayed myself as a man with good values but my actions showed otherwise. An unauthentic life caused great anxiety, stress, and fed my gambling addiction as well as many unhealthy habits. Here are some of the unskillful actions that I have done in life.

  • Cheated, lied, and misled my ex-fiance.
  • Lied to my mom, dad, brother, best friend, and to myself.
  • Littered and mistreated the environment.
  • Treated women like sex-objects.
  • Lost thousands of dollars gambling.
  • Abused my body with fast food, processed meat, and an absurd amount of alcohol.

There are no excuses for my unauthentic and unskillful actions. I am sorry. I will do better.

I know now that my actions matter. Living authentically is living in line with your values. The first step is to find out what your values are and write them down. In my early 20’s I didn’t even know my values which led to many unskillful actions. I might have told you that I valued my health but then go drink 10 Coors lights and eat a whole meat lovers pizza. With the help of Author Timber Hawkeye and “The Minimalists”, I have established what my values are. The next step is to cross-reference my actions with my values and see if they are in line. Here are my foundational values, the ones that define who I am.

  • Love
  • Compassion
  • Growth
  • Contribution
  • Relationships
  • Health

Authentic living isn’t about living a perfect life in which all your actions are perfectly in line with your values. That’s a sure way to live a very discontented life. Authentic living is about mindfully looking at your life and intentionally changing it to who you want to become. You would be surprised how small steps in the right direction can lead to astonishing results. Leading to a less stressed and more content you.

I wanted to end this post with an example of how I live a more authentic life. Over the last six months, I have slowly transitioned to a plant-based diet with a small amount of fish and dairy. I cut out meat because it’s not in-line with my values of compassion and health. Factory farms are disturbing and cause great suffering to animals, workers, and the environment. I have compassion for these animals as living beings who don’t deserve to suffer. I know that the dairy industry and fishing can cause suffering as well, hence why I’m slowly cutting down my consumption to soon become a vegan. I cross-reference every action with my values and try my best to act accordingly. From the clothes I wear, the bed I sleep on, my toothpaste, and the food I put in my body. I feel less anxious and more at peace when my actions are in-line with my values. By changing your actions you are in fact changing the world.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman