Happiness is an Inside Job.

Happiness is something to become, not to acquire.

I used to think happiness was something to achieve or acquire. I would think “once I get that promotion, lose weight or graduate from college I will achieve happiness”. I achieved all of these things and found out that I was still unhappy with my life. Happiness was always around the next corner. The next promotion, weight loss, or achievement. Sure, I was very happy the month after I graduated from college, lost weight, and got a promotion within my corporate job on the mainland. This happiness was very short-lived because I wasn’t content with who I was as a person. I was holding onto years of emotional baggage, insecurities, fears, and stories of the past. Stories that only spoke of half-truths, more focused on the negative than the positive. I have learned in the last year that happiness is not something to achieve but something to become through our actions in the world. Happiness is getting out of your comfort zone. Long lasting happiness for me is living in line with my core values instead of what feels good or is more comfortable at the moment. True contentment for me is spending more time on what I’m truly passionate about and less time focused on wealth and status. Through living in line with my values, I have felt more joy than I have ever thought was possible.

Happiness is always an inside job. Your job, relationships, money, and material goods are just “icing on the cake!”. You want to make your cake(life) as delicious(happy) just the way it is. No amount of material goods, fast food, drugs, alcohol, or sex will bring long-lasting peace. These are just fillers that mask true happiness and leave us craving more and more until we feel sick inside.

This lesson was truly learned when I moved to Maui last year. I thought going to beach, hiking, and living on Maui would make my life cherry (Local slang for good). I was still not happy and I couldn’t figure why! I had to look myself in the mirror and slowly start to live in line with my values. It hasn’t been easy, but nothing great comes out of being comfortable all the time. By inquiring within, I have shown compassion, forgiveness, and love to myself. By letting go of what was causing me mental stress, I have become more peaceful.

I suggest writing down your core values on a piece of paper or word document. Next, write down what you do all day and cross-reference your values with your actions. You choose your values and you choose to live in line with them. No one is forcing you to live more intentionally other than yourself! Here are my core values and what I let go of(or added) to live inline with my values

Peace- Coffee, Sales job, unlimited data on my phone.

Compassion-Meat, dairy, eggs, and plastic water bottles.

Love- Self-hatred, and judgments.

Contribution-Started a charity:water campaign(https://my.charitywater.org/jonathan-hoffman-1/clean-water-for-all)

Health-Cigarettes, alcohol, processed foods, oils.

I don’t feel deprived at all! I drink green tea, kombucha, and eat healthy anti-oxidant rich plant foods! These are just trade-offs for a more peaceful, healthy, and happy life for myself. Everyone’s journey is different, there are no right or wrong paths but only different ones!

What are you willing to let go of to be at peace? Choose love over fear and you will find that you will be living a life you love instead of a life you fear.

Inquire within.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

 

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The Path of the Peaceful Warrior.

The path of the peaceful warrior is one of infinite strength. The human heart has an infinite amount of compassion. The Art of Peace is a direct response to the Art of War. If we believe war is always inevitable then there will always be war. The Art of Peace allows the opportunity for another path. The path of peace.

Sadly, we mistake physical strength for emotional strength.

Many believe strength comes from rage, anger, and hatred. True strength comes from mercy, compassion, and love. When someone is hateful, they are in a weak state. They are tense, frightened, and fearful. When we are compassionate, we are loose and free flowing like a strong rivers current. We must show others another way. Not judge or hurt our opponent but to show pure compassion towards them as well.

The peaceful warrior trains his mind, body, and spirit. Eating a whole food plant-based diet trains all three of these. A peaceful warrior does not create more suffering into the world that is unnecessary. By being alive, we will cause suffering but we can do our best to not add more on top of this. There is true strength in showing mercy to innocent animals. We build our body strong through eating this way. It will give us the energy to strengthen our body, mind, and spirit right now and into old age. It will strengthen our muscle of compassion. It will strengthen our message of peace. How can we believe in peace and contribute to animal cruelty, torture, and suffering? This is not the way of the peaceful warrior. Our actions must be inline with peace. Peace is the way.

When my opponent shows apathy, I vow to show compassion.

When my opponent shows hatred, I vow to show love.

When my opponent shows war, I vow to show peace.

When

With Peace,

Johnny Hoffman

 

How Do I Let You Go?

 

How do I let you go?

A part of me still wants to be with you.

How can I be the best version of myself and still be with you?

You almost took my life a few times.

I could have gone to jail because of you… But you kept pulling me back.

I made huge mistakes while with you and caused suffering in the world.

Society wants me to be with you even though it’s not in the best interest of my mental, physical, and emotional health. Why is this?!

I see what you have done to others lives.

I spent thousands of dollars on you, putting me in financial stress and debt.

But damn, we had some good times together.

I made some great friendships because of you, but I know its time to let you go.

I’ll always remember you, but it’s time for me to end this show.

After 12 years of love, my attachment to you is no more.

I worked long hours for you for 7 years but I know in my heart it’s the end.

You were part of my journey to this point and I’m thankful for that.

I’m leaving you alcohol.

I know my vision now and you’re not part of it.

How can I alleviate suffering in the world and promote a healthy lifestyle while sipping a jack?

I’m leaving you and I don’t want you back.

Back story; I have been drinking for 12 years now, age 15-27. I worked in the alcohol industry for 7 years, age 20-27. I did many unskilled actions on alcohol in college and high school. 

Mahalo,

Johnny Hoffman

Happy New Year: Baby Steps Toward Our Vision.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much lately. I have been working 70 hour weeks, which are both physically and mentally exhausting. I’m working on paying off my car loan so I can experience freedom from debt. I plan to start posting more often starting in February. 

Happy New Year!

For every new year, there are millions of people looking to start the new year with healthier habits. Whether that be adding new healthy habits like exercise, more vegetables, meditation, etc into their daily activities. Some want to reduce or eliminate unhealthy habits like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling, screen use, etc. We can start right NOW instead of the arbitrary beginning of a new calendar year.

Our life is a sum of our habits. Luckily for us, our brain is highly malleable. Neuroscientists are proving that our brain is highly malleable to our environment and habits. By changing our habits, we rewire our brain and change our lives. Our life is not set, we can grow and change over a long period of time. We can replace old unskillful habits with new healthy habits starting right NOW.

I’m not perfect when it comes to changing my habits but I do have a good track record in changing my behavior. I went from a carnivore to a vegan in 2017, while working at a restaurant that is primarily meat-based. I lost 20lbs in 2017 and have kept it off. I started this blog and my Facebook/Instagram page “Zen Actions” and have consistently posted new content. Let’s get into a couple strategies for habitual changes as well as some pitfalls of the “all or nothing” mindset.

Start small, do what you can, and have fun. 

Start small.

I, like many others, thought that we had to change our behaviors drastically overnight to achieve our vision. This led to many failed attempts because our brain is so wired to do these habits every day. Most long-lasting habitual changes start by changing our habits slowly over-time. I didn’t become a vegan overnight; I first became a Lacto-Ovo-Pescetarian (Dairy-eggs-fish) in May 2017 and slowly cut down my use of dairy in a 6 month period. Then in November 2017, I took the leap into a 100% plant-based diet. In that 6 months, I learned more about the plant-based lifestyle and how to successfully transition. I now have compassion and understanding for those who struggle to get off a meat-based diet. I still have lots of room to improve my diet by eating more whole food plants and less processed plant-based foods in 2018.

Do what you can.

I’m a single guy in my 20’s with no kids, making habitual changes slightly easier than those who have a family, elderly, or disabled. A single mom/father might not have the time to meditate 30 minutes a day every day.  Someone in their 80’s might not have the energy to run a marathon. This is where most people give up on their habits. The “all or nothing” mentality prevents the single parents from starting a meditation practice even if its just mindful breathing 5 minutes a day for now. The elderly person gives up on exercise because they can’t run a marathon but they could walk for 10 minutes a day for now. You’re planting seeds that could grow with consistent and creative actions.

Have fun!

Changing your habits doesn’t have to be so serious. I joke around about being vegan all the time at work and my coworkers are intrigued by my lifestyle. I even got a local guy to eat a tofu stir fry and he really enjoyed it. The worst idea for losing weight is to choose an activity that you hate to do. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to run a mile a day. Find activities you have fun doing but burn calories like basketball, tennis, hiking, etc. If you’re not a morning person, work out at night time.

Don’t buy into societal norms that you have to be a morning person to thrive or that you have to “go big or go home”. Most people in that mindset eventually go home, lol. Many people exaggerate how much they can do in a month but underestimate what they can do in a year. By taking small steps in the right direction, we can fundamentally change our mindset, habits, and overall life. It’s not about how fast we go but in what direction we are heading. There will be times that we have to take a huge leap but for the most part, life is a continuous process of small steps.

My intention is to empower you to take conscious steps towards a more meaningful, peaceful, and joyful life.

“I have arrived. I am here. My destination in every step.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

 

 

My Mission: To Alleviate Suffering in All Living Beings.

Aloha my brothers and sisters,

My mission is to alleviate as much suffering as I can in all living beings. It’s a lofty mission, but I’m excited to take it on as my life’s purpose. But first of all, I have to alleviate the suffering in my own life. How can I  fully help others suffer less if I can’t help myself?

It has been quite a month for me. For quite some time now I have had this lingering tension on the left side of my abdominal area which reached all the way to the left side of my jaw. I couldn’t figure out why I had this tension. At first, I was numbing it with alcohol every night which was getting out of control. The alcohol worked to alleviate the tension momentarily but the following day it would reappear. I was resisting this tension, which was causing me to suffer. A couple weeks ago, I was driving to work and the tension was almost unbearable, like a thousand tightly wound knots in my abdomen. I finally surrendered to the tension and accepted it. I did more than accept it, I showed compassion and love to it. My tension went away for 15 minutes of pure bliss and joy. I felt like I was floating in the sky or on an LSD trip. I enjoyed looking at the West Maui mountains as tears of joy went down my face. Soon though, I was back to the reality of my tension in my abdomen. Something awakened in me in that moment, I had to stop resisting pain and start accepting it for me to live a more peaceful life with less suffering. I had awoken to my mission to alleviate suffering in the world.

Fast forward two weeks. My meditation practice has been stronger than ever and I’m focusing on reducing my suffering. I eliminate alcohol and porn from my life because they both contribute to my own suffering. I also switched to a plant-based diet to help reduce suffering in myself, animals, and the planet. By changing my habits and intentionally reducing suffering in the world, I invoked suffering that was deep in my subconscious.

In my deep 30 minute meditations, I suddenly find myself reliving old memories from my childhood. All of these memories are either pure rage or rumination over unskillful actions I have done in my past (stealing, cheating, lying). Instead of judging or running from these memories, I choose to accept, love, and show compassion to myself. I imagine myself as a child, filled with rage, confusion, and fear.

Pain doesn’t decompose. Pain lives in us until we confront it with love, compassion, and forgiveness. Suppressing this pain never works.

“What you resist, will persist.” -Carl Yung

What could be more logical than showing compassion, love, and forgiveness to yourself? What could be more insane than hating, judging, and running away from yourself? Clearly, we need to hold ourselves accountable for our wrongdoings but after that is done with, we must forgive and love ourselves. As a child, I would throw temper tantrums when things didn’t go my way. I would have mental breakdowns when playing golf, basketball, or even when my favorite teams lost in the playoffs. This pain still lives on within me because I suppressed and ran away from it. I judged myself and labeled my former self as a sensitive, weak, and inferior version of myself. In my teen years, I was calm and collective for the most part because I vowed to never be that inferior self again.

Yesterday afternoon I fell apart and broke down. So many emotions running through my body. So much pain, suffering, joy, and pure bliss all mixed into one moment.  The tension was truly alleviated once I showed true compassion, love, and forgiveness to my darker side. Radical acceptance was key to ending my suffering and I believe it is key to alleviating the suffering of mankind. So many of us are hurt by old wounds that never properly healed. The people who hurt the most, hurt others. Almost all horrendous acts done by humankind are rooted in hurt individuals who look to cause suffering to others because they themselves are in so much pain.

I’m excited to share my journey to a more meaningful and peaceful life. I thank you all for reading this blog post. By reading this post, you help me live out my purpose to alleviate suffering in all living beings.

“When we learn how to suffer, we suffer much less.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

With the Aloha Spirit,

Johnny Hoffman

Resistance: The Root of Pain, Suffering, and Insanity.

We are either resisting life or accepting it.

Whether that be sitting in traffic, aging, sickness, or our own mortality. Many ignore the truth and live in an imaginary world of what life is supposed to be or should be. Anytime you say should or suppose to be, you are resisting the truth. Resistance to the truth of life causes suffering. So why do people choose resistance? Accepting the truth is scary while resisting gives us a false sense of security and control. It’s easier in the short-term to avoid or resist aging, disease, and death than accept it. In the long-term, it can cause a tremendous amount of suffering within you and the world.

Suffering = Pain x Resistance 

  • The world should be at peace, but it isn’t.
  • My parents should be supportive, but they’re not.
  • I shouldn’t be stuck in traffic, but I am.
  • Relationships aren’t supposed to be this difficult, but it is. 

Here is an example that will show you exactly what I’m talking about.

Jack and Jill are both studying for a Biology final at Harvard. Both don’t enjoy studying, it causes them both mental and physical pain to sit down for 5 hours in a room. They would rather be outside on a hike or hanging out with friends. Jill accepts that this necessary to pass the class while Jack resists and complains the whole time. Jill is at peace and actually enjoying studying, taking breaks to watch Netflix or call a friend. Jack sulks and stares at the book. They are both in the same exact situation, only Jill accepts the pain of studying and makes the best of it.

The most impressive study of acceptance vs. resistance is Victor Frankl’s story in his 1959 book Man Searching for Meaning. Victor Frankl was an Austrian Jewish neurologist, psychiatrist, and holocaust survivor. While at Auschwitz concentration camp he kept himself sane by studying fellow inmates behavior and noticed an astonishing correlation. Those prisoners who accepted their truth and found meaning were both healthier and happier than those who resisted their new life. Their suffering was caused by their resistance to life and not mere outside influences. If someone can find peace, purpose, and meaning in Auschwitz concentration camp there is hope for all of us.

But Johnny, shouldn’t we resist harmful situations?? Isn’t acceptance just giving up? I don’t want to lay down and give up!

I understand this perspective because I once believe that acceptance was giving up but nothing is further from the truth. We must accept our situation before we can make it better. The people who accepted their captivity in Auschwitz were not merely giving up but awakening to that they have no control over being prisoners in a concentration camp. What these prisoners did have control over was how they spent their time, how they perceived their circumstance, and to make the best out of it. They saw resistance as a waste of energy on what they could not control. Accepting the truth is both practical and logical for peace within.

Paradoxically, we must accept suffering before we can transcend it. We have to accept our suffering before we can be at peace with ourselves and the world. Accept that you have no control over other people’s actions and beliefs. Accept that everything is impermanent and that we can only control a small amount of our life.

Try to avoid all should or suppose to be statements. Ease your grip on life and how it’s “suppose” or “should” be. More acceptance and less resistance is key to a peaceful life with less suffering and more joy.

My mission is to alleviate suffering in all living beings.

“What we resist, will persist.” – Carl Jung

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

 

Plant-Based Diet: The First Path to Alleviating Suffering.

My name is Johnny Hoffman and my mission is to alleviate suffering in all living beings. I used to be 40lbs overweight and eat fast food/bacon every day. I don’t judge those who consume meat and dairy nor do I wish to force my lifestyle on anyone. I only want to give you information that could alleviate suffering in yourself and the world.

I want to be part of the solution, not the pollution.

How did I become a vegan you might ask? It’s simple, the suffering of millions of cows, pigs, chickens etc are not inline with my values of peace, compassion, and love. The environmental damage is astonishing with the amount of greenhouse gas, animal fecal waste, and water consumed in animal agriculture. Our current agriculture system is highly unsustainable for the future. Humans survived because of our adaptability so there might be hope after all. Adopting a more whole food plant-based diet lowers your risk of cancer and heart disease.

My intention is to show compassion to all living beings.

Factory farms don’t just harm the animals though, with factory farm workers having high turnover rates (95-100%) and risk of disease/injury (50%). 38% of factory farm workers are undocumented immigrants and most work 10 hour days for very low wages. Imagine having to torture and watch thousands of animal die every day? The psychological damage seems unbearable.

( https://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-spangher/plight-of-factory-farm-workers_b_5662261.html) (https://www.texasobserver.org/ptsd-in-the-slaughterhouse/)

Millions of people suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer due to eating a processed meat/dairy diet. Suffering doesn’t decompose with the tortured animals, it spreads to the man who ate bacon every day having a heart attack at 50, leaving his family in pain and suffering. I notice some animal rights activists forget that humans are suffering tremendously from factory farming. I want to show love and compassion to my meat eating brothers and sisters. Here are some facts.

-90% of meat consumed in America is from factory farms.

-20% of global Co2 emissions come from animal agriculture.

-440 million tons of animal feces in the United States alone. Most go into the ocean, causing “dead zones” where millions of fish die. Local towns near factory farms suffer tremendously from air and water pollution. Mostly effects poor African American communities.( https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/01/meat-industry-dead-zone-gulf-of-mexico-environment-pollution)

-Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction. 91% of Amazon deforestation due to animal agriculture. (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/08/meat-eaters-may-speed-worldwide-species-extinction-study-warns)

-Processed meat listened as a Carcinogen in the IARC report for the World Health Organization. The IARC is the International Agency for Research on Cancer. (https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/world-health-organization-says-processed-meat-causes-cancer.html)

-In a study of 131,342 participants, High animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.

(https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2540540)

-Animal Products linked to higher inflammation. Inflammation is the leading cause of Cancer and premature aging.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540319/)

-15,000 scientists from 184 countries sign a petition urging citizens to adopt a Plant-Based diet. UN report urges a global move to a plant-based diet.

(https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet)

-The former President of the American College of Cardiology Dr. Kim Williams stated that “There are only two types of Cardiologists, vegans and those who haven’t read the data”.

(http://www.richroll.com/podcast/kim-williams/)

Once we have the information, we can make an informed decision about the choices we make in our life. This blog post is my way of sharing that information that I have learned over the past 7 months. What you put in your body is your personal choice and not mine to judge or criticize. If you are interested in giving up or just consuming less meat and dairy I recommend watching Cowspiracy, Food Inc., or What the Health on Netflix. I also listen to the Rich Roll podcast, a vegan marathon runner.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman