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

 

Advertisements

Less is More: My Journey to Minimalism. 

When I was a child, I always enjoyed my father’s house. He didn’t clutter his living space with tons of trinkets and photos, instead he had a few golf paintings and only the essential. I didn’t realize it then, but it was the first indicator that I was in fact a minimalist. My parents divorced when I was young so I spent every other weekend with my dad. He was a minimalist before it was cool, before it was labeled as a fringe group which is slowly turning into a more mainstream philosophy.

Before the 1970’s, almost everyone was a minimalist. It wasn’t until manufacturing went to China, India, etc that material goods became so cheap and available. This cheap manufacturing has led to today, where the average American household has 300,000 items. Advertisements tell us that we need to buy, buy, buy and that we NEED this new item even though we survived without it’s existence.

I didn’t fully embrace minimalism until my ex-fiance and I broke up. You see, she owned 95% of our stuff when we broke up. Everything in the house was either brought by her or gifts from her family. When she left, I was left alone in the studio we once shared. She was gracious enough to leave 1 fork, knife, spoon, pot, and pan. I didn’t have internet/TV and I slept on an air mattress. I lived like this for 6 months and suprisingly I thrived. Less distractions made it easier to focus on the essential. I enjoyed cleaning more because I had less to clean. I focused on my diet which led to me losing 30 lbs. With no internet, I spent more time outdoors or working out (best shape of my life). With no TV, I started reading books and learning knowledge that I now share on this blog. I even volunteered for the Special Olympics because I had more time to contribute outside myself. Since moving to Maui, I’m slowly relearning these lessons and cultivating some of the skills I learned in that 6 month minimalist boot camp.

Less is more. Less distraction, more passion. Less debt, more freedom. Less clutter, more focus.

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman

The Mindfulness Awakening.

We are living in the midst of the mindfulness awakening.  This movement is a direct backlash to the mindless practices of the 20th century. The food we consume and the institutions we support matter. Our food matters. The latter part of the 20th century was a time of greed and exploitation leading to factory farms, sweatshops, and the highly processed diet of the western diet. These practices have led to the suffering of the environment, animals, and humanity. When we harm the environment, we harm ourselves. When we cause suffering to animals, we cause suffering to ourselves. Everything is connected.

Family farms turned into factory farms, which brutally massacre and cause great suffering to chickens, cows, and pigs. These factory farms cause great suffering to the animals, the workers, and the environment. The sewage runoff contaminating freshwater rivers and lakes while killing thousands of fish. The factory farm workers are usually illegal immigrants who have to deal with psychological and physical damage from unethical working standards.

Starting in the 1970’s, the government gave huge subsidies to farms to increase corn, soy, and wheat production. This cheap corn, soy, and wheat are then processed into most of the foods we see at the grocery store and at fast food chains. These government subsidies coincide with the rise of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

In the same time frame, we saw the rise of cheap material goods made in China, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh. These sweatshops use unfair labor practices and cause suffering to their employees. The rise of cheap goods has led to the hoarding movement of 1990’s. The average American household has 300,000 items, most which find their way into landfills.

There is hope.

Organic locally run farms are popping up all over the country and companies like The Ocean Cleanup are devoted to cleaning up the environment. Movements like minimalism and plant-based diets are growing exponentially. We the consumers can change the future with our wallets and conscious. I have adopted a pescetarian diet with plans on going vegan in the near future. I support ethical clothing companies like Conscious Apparel. I buy Tom’s toothpaste and deodorant which doesn’t test their products on animals. I buy organic foods as much as possible. By changing your habits you are in fact changing the world. Knowledge isn’t powerful unless there is direct action. Once we have knowledge we have a choice on how we live our life. 

There is no difference between healing the planet and healing ourselves.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman

 

The Power of Meditation. 

From CEO’s to professional athletes, the practice of meditation is becoming more normalized in the United States. Meditation has also been extensively studied by neuroscientists who have found scientific proof that meditation can rewire the brain, making us more compassionate and loving people. Meditation isn’t going to make your life perfect. Think of it as a mental health exercise that can alleviate mental stress, anxiety, and depression. Adding it to a healthy diet and workout regiment for a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Our mind is like a puppy wandering towards every stimulus in the park, never truly focusing on the present moment. The goal of meditation isn’t to control our thoughts but to not allow our thoughts to control us.

In its most basic definition, meditation is allowing everything to exactly exist in its present state. Sounds easy right? It’s not, our mind loves wandering to the past, future, or how things should be but they are not. Meditation is about training the brain so you are not tormented by cravings, impulses, and the natural tendency for our mind to focus on the negative.

I discovered meditation when my ex-fiance and I broke up. My anxiety after the breakup was so bad that I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. My stomach was constantly in knots and my mind was in chaos. One day I researched the benefits of meditation and found out that it could help alleviate anxiety. After trial and error, I started meditating 10-60 minutes a day. I couldn’t believe how great I felt after my meditation. My anxiety & stress seemed to vanish and I felt more content with who I was in my entire life. Life has had its ups and downs since then but I can always find my peace while meditating. It helps me focus on the present, express gratitude, and show compassion to myself and others.

I invite you to try meditation for yourself. Find a meditation that works for you. Whether that’s a mindful walking meditation or sitting on a chair/cushion. The first step is to focus on your breath, which will center your body and mind. Whenever your mind wanders, you can bring it back to the present moment by focusing on the breath. With the power of Youtube, Google, and all the different applications like Calm or Headspace you can find your own path of meditation that works for you. Just remember, meditation won’t always be pleasurable just like working out or eating healthy isn’t always enjoyable. The benefits of meditation our felt when leaving the cushion. The benefits of compassion, love, forgiveness, and focus.

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman

Tending Our Own Garden: Focusing our Energy on Self-improvement. 

 

Tending our own garden is to focus our energy on what we can do to make our life better. Over my own life, I have spent countless hours worrying about other people lives. I thought I was helping others but what I was really doing was neglecting my own life. I also realized that people will change in their own time and that meddling in other peoples lives is both a waste of energy and can ruin friendships. I truly believe that people love positive changes but hate being changed by others. We know this intuitively when we see the joy in someones face when they lose weight or learn a new skill. The two most valuable commodities in our lives are time and attention. If we spend our time and attention on meddling in others lives, we lose out on living our own life.

Like I have said before, we must become the beacon of light for others to follow. For example, if we want others to eat a healthy and nutritious diet we have to first evaluate our own diet and see how we can improve it. Let’s focus our energy on fulfilling our potential with the wisdom that others will follow suit in their own time. Forcing others to change is unskillful because it usually alienates people, sometimes pushing them further away from your advice.

Flowers only bloom when they are ready. People are the same way. You cannot rush or force them to open just because you think it’s time. Be patient.”      -Timber Hawkeye

Be patient. Focus on your life. Accept others how they are today and not how they should be according to your standards.

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman

What is Love?

Love does not judge.

Love is not obsessed, attached, or needing of monetary reward.

Love does not keep score.

Love is freeing and open.

Unconditional love forgives even the worst of actions. This doesn’t mean you have to tolerate harmful behavior or allow that person in your life. You can unconditional love someone without them being part of your life. 

Love can soothe hatred & fear.

Love is all you need.

“Love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

With Love,

Jonathan Hoffman

 

 

The Second Arrow of Suffering.

There is a simple Buddhist parable that I enjoy titled “The Second Arrow”. I really enjoy parables because they pack a ton of wisdom in a simple and easily understandable story. Imagine a warrior being shot with an arrow on the battle field. The warrior can’t avoid the pain that the arrow is causing; what they can control is how they react to the arrow. The reaction to the pain of the first arrow is the second arrow. 

“In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.” -Buddha

The first arrow represents the inevitable pain that will be cast upon us throughout life. For example, this pain might be the death of a family member or the loss of a relationship. The second arrow is our reaction to the pain, which brings us the possibility of choice. I find that having a choice in my reaction to pain is both exciting and freeing! We can feel the pain but not react emotionally to it. Instead of complaining, wallowing, or fighting the pain we can accept the pain as impermanent and move on from it. In my experience, this change in mindset can allow us to live a more meaningful and content life. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.

 

With Aloha,

Jonathan Hoffman