Picture of Wayne Andersen

Wayne Andersen

Session 21: Waking Up!! The Path to Joy in Your Life

In this session of the Conscious Leaders Forum, we discuss Waking Up! and discover how to find the path to joy in our lives.

Video transcript:

Dr. A: All right. Well, welcome everybody to our forum. Very excited today. Missed you guys and really excited about talking about: How Do We Create Joy in Our Lives? We’ll give everybody about a minute to kind of settle in and then we’ll get going. Hope everybody had a nice Labor Day weekend and you’re ready to “Wake Up!” Okay. The Conscious Leadership Forum. This is all about us starting to really wake up, stop sleepwalking through our lives and really focus on the things that really matter. You know, when people talk about, “Well if I only had that house,” or “I only had that corner office,” or “I had that car I wanted that everything would be okay in my life,” and despite all that we think, none of that stuff is really going to make us happy and really joyful in our lives.

It may work for a little while and it may cover up something inside of us, but the real work of joy in our life is about waking up and really understanding how we function. You know, and I like to say putting on the lab coat so to speak, and the goggles, and really inspecting in the inside, what’s going on in there? You know, what’s going on— the more we spend time starting to understand ourselves, the more we have an opportunity to seize this day and age. When more, and more, and more things are basically done automatically, I think we’re— or you’d have to be under a rock if you didn’t know that AI and companies are out there to literally probe into your subconscious and unconscious world, and basically have you do things that they want you to do, not necessarily what’s in your best interest.

So one of the key parts, and the work that I’ve been doing over the last several years and really ramping up, is the work of becoming conscious. Vertical development. Starting to work and know that, yes, as I’ve talked about many times in the Habits of Health, there’s six Macro habits, and one of them certainly is Habits of Health Motion, and it’s important to work out and to be more active and maybe even get a trainer and work on our muscles, but it’s literally inside of here [gestures to head]. That six inches between those ears that really makes all the difference and can change every aspect of your life.

So that’s what we’re going to focus on, and as the forum— I’ll do a little overview here, and then we’ll open it up for questions. In fact, as you’re going through and listening to the first part, think about things that maybe interest you. Things that you may be working on or things you would like to know more about because what I find is in this interactive forum, we have an opportunity as humans waking up and talking to each other and each one of your conversations usually is helpful to many of the people, if not all the people that are on the forum.

So, let’s get started. I want to start off by basically asking: how do we move forward? How do we move from right here? You know, most people are basically sitting on the fence. They’re sitting there. The world is coming at them, and they’re trying to respond to it. They may be sticking their head in the sand. They may be trying to find ways to improve themselves, but for most people, we’re kind of stuck, and what I really want to do today is get you into motion. You know, Habits of Healthy Motion are important for your physical health. They’re also important to start understanding how do we now change our paradigms? We only can change three things in our life, that’s our perceptions, which is how to view the world. Second, our choices or decisions, and the third is our behavior. So how do we do that? And how do we become the Dominant Force in your life? And you know, let me just spend a moment— I’ve been talking about that for almost two decades now, becoming the Dominant Force in your life.

If you allow your default future, if you allow just going through your life based on the program of your past and the way you learn things growing up, you will find that the world will become less relevant to you as you move forward. It just [unintelligible 00:04:15] the world’s changing, and what we want to do is literally put you in position where you can lead from the future you want, the things that you want to bring into your life, and that can inform you into the choices you make every day. So we’re going to talk about that a little bit and some of the things you can do. So, why are most stuck? Well, it comes down to this, I’ve talked about it for the last couple of years, it’s our ego. It’s our personal mind. We literally, since we were very little, we are programmed to basically try to create psychological safety for ourselves, which started when we were very young. One, two, three, four years old before we really had a prefrontal cortex working well. We had the emotional part, and we found the things that seemed to work for us, and so our ego sits there and is trying to make the world a certain way to protect us. It’s in charge, in most of us, and that is where it all starts and the problem starts.

So the question: Is your ego running the show? You know, we know that events, people, something happens all the time, and as it happens, if we basically just don’t filter it, and just take it as it is and don’t get our ego involved, it’s a pretty straightforward process. We see things, they’re real, it’s like having a videography where we just see it, but our ego has a tendency to basically get involved, and what it ends up doing is creating these automatic thoughts. The thoughts are such that it tries to tell you all day long, what is the program you should be running? How the world should be, and how you should be responding to it. And when it’s not right, it creates emotions and feelings, and this creates what we call in psychology: cognitive emotive loops. We think about something, then we feel it, and we all know that when we go to sleep sometimes at night, we have something on our mind. It just starts churning, and it grows, and grows, and grows, and you can’t control it, and most of it is perceived. It’s not even real.

It’s just something your ego is doing to try to make the world right to you, and what we end up doing is one or two things. We either project, express out to others and lash out to others the way we think things should be, or the other thing is we resist or we cling. In other words, something that— we remember a moment that was really, really good, and we cling on to it. We want to recreate. We go on a vacation, and we have a wonderful time, so then we go back to that same place, expecting the same thing, and the conditions have changed, and as a result of that, we’re clinging to something that no longer is functioning. It’s something we’ve stored inside of us or something we’ve resisted. So what we do is we suppress these things, and we have all this stored trauma inside, and when we have the world show up to us day in and day out, it clicks onto these things that bother us, and it creates these cognitive emotive loops, and we’re not in charge.

We’re literally, maybe in front of a gorgeous sunset or sitting there with our beautiful relationship having dinner, and something gets triggered, and all of a sudden, you’re no longer there. You’re deep in your thoughts, and basically, you know, it happens to all of us. So we need to talk about what happens there, and what it is, It’s our personal mind. It’s literally the world inside of how we say the world should be. It’s all the stored trauma that occurred throughout our life. The negative thoughts we have, the dislikes and the likes. We want things a certain way and if they’re not that certain way then we’re bothered by it. So how do you deal with that? How do you deal with an ego? Well basically, there’s two distinct ways of living our life: one is that we need to change the outside world. The outside world is some way not right and if we can change that, and change our conditions, or change somebody else, or change whatever else is going on, then we’ll be all right, and the reality is we have so little control over what happens in the external world. The inside world is when we awaken and we start to realize that we’re conscious. If the ego’s involved, it’s basically saying, “I’m not okay,” and “I’m going to look outside to make myself okay.” That’s why you may go out and get a hot fudge sundae, you know, because you’re stressed out about something or you go out and eat a huge lunch, or drink alcohol, or whatever, because you’re not okay, versus looking inside and asking yourself, “What’s going on?” “What’s happening in me?” And “Awaking myself to what’s actually happening.”

So, in the ego-driven world where most of us live, “I am not okay.” Basically, “I’m taking from the outside. I need to take things from the outside to make me okay.” Just like in a relationship. You can have a relationship that’s conditional, and when the person you’re with is a certain way, you feel great. When they’re not that certain way, you don’t feel so great. Love needs to be unconditional. It has to exude from inside of you. It can’t come from outside. Only conditionally, then you have to hope. It’s like a clock, you know, that’s basically broken. It’s right a couple of times a day, but the other times it’s not. So you’re closed, and if the world is the way you want it to be, then you’re okay during those periods, and there’s times when you may be okay, when you see a great movie, or you go out for a great dinner, but when it isn’t you feel terrible and you built your ego. Just know, you’re responsible for the way you view the world. That is your responsibility. You’re fully responsible. Now, when you’re really young, you were under the influence of others, but as you’ve grown up, you’ve stayed with that program, and the program basically is why we suffer so much.

So with that, Awakened World: I am OK [referring to slide on screen]. I’m okay, and I’m giving to the world. You’re open. You’re open to what’s going on in the possibilities. You’re filled with joy, and love, and creativity, and you’re grateful. You know, I like to say, I don’t know if anybody saw the James Webb. There was a special on Netflix. On the James Webb Telescope. It was incredible. We looked deep into space, and they can look back 13.8 billion years ago and see the beginning of the Big Bang in the universe and how it started and in that whole universe with all the thousands and millions of galaxies. We have not found any life or anything other than void out there, and yet we get to live on this bright blue planet that’s glistening, that has these beautiful waters, and trees, and foliage, and in the morning. You’re hearing a bird singing to you. We should be so grateful that we’re in the only place in the universe that we know of today, where basically, we can have the kind of life we have. I mean, I’m glad Elon Musk wants to settle in Mars, but that’s not where I want to be. I get to live on the ocean, and I love it. I don’t want to live on Mars, or on, I think it’s Venus, is full of— it rains some kind of acid, I mean hydrochloric acid, I think.

So, it doesn’t matter what the world is doing. I make the decision that I’m okay and I’m going to choose joy over being right. So, so important. So, I’m okay. How do I get there? Basically, understand that we’re designed because of protecting us from 10,000 years ago: stimulus and response. We normally respond without thinking about it and our ego has set the way we respond. It kind of tells us what we’re going to do, and so that’s below the line thinking, and it’s basically, if you look into the stuff, a lot of the stuff comes from the Habit of Health System, but basically, that’s the labrador, the emotional break.

We never get a chance to really make the right choices. Remember, I said our perceptions, our choices or decisions, are what we have control over, but when we have stimulus response, we just respond without thinking, and there’s a lot of people on death row that wish they had Stop. Challenge., and Choose., and not done what they did. So that’s basically— the ego’s at the center of the Drama Triangle. I put it right smack in the center [referring to a slide on screen]. We normally take one of three positions: we’re either the victim, the world’s happening to us. We’re the hero, we’re trying to save somebody, to lessen the pain so we can deal with it, or we’re the villain, blame it on somebody else. And all you have to do is put on any TV show, any newscast, and everybody is in the victim, villain, hero situation. They’re in the Drama Triangle.

So, is it normal to go below the line? Yes. It allows your ego to be in charge. It’s okay that you see that happening. What’s not okay is once you awaken and understand, to stay there. It’s about getting out of the Drama Triangle and getting back to being in control. So you have to decide, “I’m ready to move,” and you’re ready to become that Dominant Force. So it matters what we become aware of and regaining our thinking brain. If we look at this part of our brain [Dr. A gestures to the front of his head], it’s miraculous. I mean just like the James Webb Telescope, when— you know, I watched the Netflix on it just recently, and it’s amazing the amount of individual abstract and brain thinking going on up here that allowed us to do something which was virtually almost impossible and actually make that happen, and we were able to go a million miles out into the— off of our planet and actually look into the deep space, and they took one little snapshot of one little radiant out, way in the deep space, and within that there were 1200 galaxies. You know, we think of the Milky Way and how big it is, 1200 galaxies, and one just, little spot. That was because we had a lot of people using this part of their mind.

What we need to do, is we need to start re-tapping into that human thinking brain and to do that, Stop. Challenge., and Choose., is such a simple— and most of you are familiar with it and should be using it every day. So you choose joy over the need to be right. That’s how you tame your ego. I can tell you that, you know, just today, the things that have happened in my day have been incredible. Just amazing things, because rather than me focus on it as “need to be right,” bottom line, I’m focusing on the people that I’m surrounded with.

So, I showed this picture before, I love it. It’s literally having that childhood joy, enthusiasm, desire to just get out there and be aware. Get out and observe, and when you get out and observe, these are the kind of things you want to think about. What opens us up? What makes us joyful? What closes us off? And then practice letting go of closing. You know, like something will start happening in your day and basically you will close. You will actually get to the point where you actually close up, and you’ll feel yourself. You’ll tighten up. You’ll resist and don’t do that anymore. I mean, honestly, it’s as simple as that. That’s the first thing. Things we would do before, you would do automatically, without thinking, you would close up, get into one of those cognitive emotive loops and stop really being aware of your surroundings. This happens all the time. A lot of times when we’re driving, we get home and we don’t even realize it because we’re deep in that thought, right? And then the second thing, just as important, is basically, do a mantra. When our mind is overwhelming, and that voice in our head is going crazy in there, what I love to do is think of one word that you can go to. It can be whatever’s important to you. It could be “God.” It could be “heaven.” It could be “calm.” It could be “good.” Whatever works for you and just start repeating that in your mind, and what it ends up doing is it takes all that chatter, focuses on the one word, and starts eliminating those cognitive emotive loops and it gives you that space necessary so you regain control, and that prefrontal cortex can work.

Same thing with breathing. You know, one of the things I love to do if I’m going into a tense situation or I need to respond, I always talk about taking a bottle of water, opening it up, taking a big drink, and taking a really deep breath. A centering breath that kind of takes your whole equilibrium, you know, we have a sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. We take one of those deep breaths. You’re taking control of something that normally happens automatically and it allows you to exhale and feel that stress level go down and regain this ability to think, and then the other part is relax. Just when you start sensing getting tense, you specifically decide to relax. Take this deep breath, change your posture, open up your shoulders, really feel that diaphragm expand. Each one of these things that I’ve talked about, practicing them all the time, all day long will allow you, really rapidly, to start taking back your life and what about this? Basically, if you think about it, your ego is a terrible master, but an awesome servant, and that’s really important to understand because in essence when we’re the Dominant Force in our life, our ego is serving us, and it’s serving our soul. It’s there to give us confidence, to help us. Not to sit there and to dominate the conversation. So, it’s so important for us to know that we can become in control of our personal mind and put it to the side and allow us to be fully aware and fully conscious of what’s going on in the moment.

So, anyway, we went through that relatively rapidly, but I just wanted to set the stage that all joy starts by understanding that your ego, your personal mind, is trying to get the world to be a certain way and what, in reality, you really want is you want the world to be just as it is, and you respond to it to make the choice that joy, being joyful, is a choice. It’s a choice you can make in almost any situation because the bottom line is, when it comes down to it, we should be so grateful for what we have and where we are in life. So with that, let’s open this up for questions.

Rachel: All right. First up we have Jen. Jen, can you come on camera and unmute yourself?

Jen: Hello.

Dr. A: Hey, Jen. How are you?

Jen: I’m good. How are you?

Dr. A: Fantastic.

Jen: So I have a question, and hopefully this question will help others besides myself. It’s a tough one. Anyway, I started coaching probably just over a year ago so I’m relatively new and my “why” is definitely to help people, I mean I have always been a nurturer, I used to be a teacher so it’s— I’m definitely coming from that mindset. My issue is, I have a lot of people in my family, and my close friends, that have— that struggle with eating disorders, and it now seems to be my choice in becoming a coach. They’re just looking at the weight loss piece, as opposed to everything else that comes along with this, and mindset is the biggest thing for me. So the point is, I’ve now seemed to become a trigger for these people and they’re not understanding why I chose to do this. So, can you help guide me in maybe having conversations with these people— and myself— I’m starting to question my own self. That I’m hurting instead of helping.

Dr. A: But, is that a story you’re making up or is that the truth?

Jen: I think it’s the truth. According to my niece, who struggles with an eating disorder. It’s her truth at least. So, maybe I’m jumping to that.

Dr. A: Yeah. So that’s— remember when I showed the slide with the ego and projection?

Jen: Yep.

Dr. A: Yeah. She’s projecting her issues on you and basically looking— remember, remember the inside of each and every one of us is the issue. It’s our stored trauma and clearly, if you have some members of your close family that are struggling with eating disorders, one of the common things for people to do is look outside for reasons that are causing them to be a certain way. Bottom line is, you know, has this program and the things you’re learning, including even today, are these things helping you understand the way you think, more than they ever were before?

Jen: 150 percent.

Dr. A: Yeah. So, that’s reality. See, reality is an acquired taste so it’s easy to make up stories, but the bottom line is, you’re not responsible. Don’t take anything personal. I honestly— nothing anybody else does has anything to do with you. It has to do with them. It has to do with them. Just like, by the way, in your growth as your learning, and growing, and using things like the forum, is when you’re projecting something on someone else. Okay? Go deep inside of you and say, “Okay. Why am I saying that? Why am I doing that?” Because it’s something about you, right?

Jen: Yes.

Dr. A: And that’s the personal mind. That’s a great question. I’m glad you brought that up because Jen, our personal mind tells us stories and most of it is not true. So you basically— each individual— we all have our personal mind. We all have our own stored trauma and so in this situation, because you’re working in the field that has to do with helping people have health gain, yeah, by weight loss they have health gain, but they’re improving every aspect of their life. You’re not doing anything that you’re teaching that’s not healthy. In fact, the things you’re doing are actually awakening people to the possibility that we have, and we can, become the Dominant Force in their life. What you just described is, and I don’t know those people but is a perfect example of the Drama Triangle, where basically, they’re trying to put— they’re putting themselves in the victim spot and they’re trying to put you in the hero spot, and that’s not your role. That’s not what you’re doing and you know what? The work you’re doing is to help you first, and through example. The second part is called compassion. It’s understanding that you know your relatives are struggling. They’re struggling with things and basically don’t know any other way to respond. They just don’t know how. They haven’t spent the time to learn the skills, the strategies, and use the tools.

So, bottom line is, if anything, you’re not hurting them because all they have to do is, they can pick up any TV show, you know, there’s a million distractions out there that could reinforce why eating disorders— they could blame it on that, they could blame it on fast food, they could blame it on, you know, specials on TV. They could blame it on specials, whatever the junk food is they’re eating or not eating. So, the bottom line is, any excuse will do when you’re not willing to take responsibility. You, on the other hand, are taking responsibility. You are becoming the Dominant Force in your life and when you actually use someone else to reinforce, whether you’re doing the right, or the wrong thing, you’re relying on what I talked about earlier: the outside world to make you right, the outside world to feel love. Nobody in the outside world can make you feel loved. Only you can make you feel loved and that exuding coming unconditionally from the inside and, the work you’ve done, and the things you’re doing to help others— think about all the successes and people you’ve helped. That’s the reinforcement. That’s the reinforcement.

Your family is always a sticky wicket because you’re kind of stuck with them, right? And they’re just there and obviously, you love them and you’d like to help them. But again, family is tougher than just people in general because you’re kind of bonded to them and so you’re more vulnerable, but the reality is, what you’re doing, the work you’re doing including being on here today, you’re working on becoming more conscious, more resilient, proving your emotional agility, your stamina, and your flexibility. You’re learning to be able to to deal with these things and realize that, “I love them. I care for them. I’m not gonna play Tit for Tat. I’m not going to become the villain. I’m not going to become the hero. I’m simply going to respond there with loving care to them, and then just like water on a duck’s back, I’m just gonna let what they’re saying roll off,” because if you don’t— if you do this [Dr. A bumps his fists together]. Again, you’re gonna have a fight, but if you go here, they can do whatever they want here and eventually it’ll go down here because you’re not responding to it. It can’t trigger you. You’re stopping. You’re challenging. You’re challenging why you feel it. Yeah, you’re feeling that way for them and you’re thinking, “Oh my goodness, am I doing harm to them?” No. You’re not doing harm to them. They’re doing harm to themselves. They’re the victim sitting there thinking the locus of control is outside of them. The only thing you can do is try to help make them aware. To awaken to the point that they become the Dominant Force. That they take responsibility. But, you know, what if they’re not willing to do that? Understand that. Be compassionate. Give them a big hug and love on them, and then just basically, I know it’s hard. [crosstalk 00:25:48] and just smile and say, “I love you,” and just leave it alone. Does that make sense?

Jen: Yes. Very much so.

Dr. A: And look how you’re smiling now.

Jen: Yeah [crosstalk 00:26:00]

Dr. A: You unblocked. There’s an area because of the amount you care for your relatives inside, this is a very vulnerable piece for you, and you need to understand that. You love them. You want them to be better. You know what you’re doing, you’re helping people create health and wellbeing. That’s what you’re doing. That you’re not doing anything negative. If they’re using it for that as a fulcrum then basically diffuse it the best you can. But definitely, definitely don’t take it personally.

Jen: Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Dr. A: Welcome. All right.

Rachel: All right. Next up, we have Shannon. Shannon, can you come on camera? There you are.

Dr. A: Hi, Shannon.

Shannon: Hi, how are you?

Dr. A: Fantastic. How are you?

Shannon: I’m doing good, thank you. Here in Florida with one of my horses, hanging out in my door.

Dr. A: That’s pretty cool. Is he in your house?

Shannon: No, I’m outside, but he likes to hang by the door. I had to get rid of the door knocker because he likes to play with it. He has COPD for horses so he has to be in the shade all the time.

Dr. A: So that is a really big pet!

Shannon: Yeah, he may or may not have been in the house at one point. I’m not gonna lie. My question was, what are your favorite tools for releasing the trauma like, obviously I have a morning routine and meditation. I found EFT with a professional practitioner has been helpful for me. I was just curious what your favorite tools are.

Dr. A: Yeah. It’s awareness. It’s really awareness. Our body, our mind, and our emotions and our physiology all have what I like to call coherence. You have physiologic, emotional, and cognitive coherence and when everything is moving and in flow it’s like a beautiful symphony, right? And you feel it. You feel those times, whether you’re playing a sport or you’re out with friends, you’re at the beach, I mean I went for a walk yesterday and just felt the— there was the sunlight. The sun was going down. The sunlight on the water, and the ocean was pretty rough, and there was the foam, and then there were like these little sandpipers, and as I was walking down the peak I just felt everything in coherence. I felt my physiology. I just felt. I could feel my feet in the sand. I felt this warm joy, energy coming up and I looked out and just kind of looked at it, the ocean, and everything was in coherence. So that’s the state you want. That’s the state of joy. That’s the state where your ego is off to the side. Your personal mind is quiet. You’re fully aware. You’re not projecting. You’re simply being fully aware in the present moment without filters.

When you sense something happening that triggers you, you’ll feel a change in that coherence. It’s almost like a wave and it’s almost like in an orchestra when someone hits the wrong note and you hear this “duuuuuh.” You know? As soon as I feel that, I try to identify it. I try to identify where is it? And the best way to do that is to relax. We talked about that a little bit earlier, but I like to relax and sense, “Okay, what’s going on,” and if I can identify it, I immediately put my focus on that and allow it to come up because what it is, is we have this huge, however long our life has been, where all the stuff got stored in there. Half of it we don’t even remember, and then something comes up and you remember. Just last week I was with one of my best friends from college and it’s interesting because how, you kind of block out or forget certain aspects, and then you go back to those places and someone reminds you and all of a sudden you have a different reference point and you go, “Wow.” — It’s like Mr. Ed behind you, that’s cracking me up [referring to Shannon’s horse on video with her].

Shannon: [laughing and moving her camera] I know, I’ll get him out of the picture.

Dr. A: Anyway, and then you sense that, and then— so anytime I can use something like that and get back to a different perspective of how I may have thought before, it’s an opportunity. It’s almost like the inspector in your Apple, in your Window, or the programming for your Mac, is that the inspector can come out and actually give you some data, and then I like to use that data, and if there’s emotions in there what I like to do is have— let them come up. Let them come up, identify what they are, and just let them flow through. And the other thing is again, going back to breathing. If I’m not sure what it is, just by taking three or four centering, deep breaths, what you’re doing is you’re actually latching on and taking control of your autonomic nervous system. And your nervous system is part of that physiologic coherence, is very sensitive to when things are not right and so if you can get really good at it, sometimes it’ll be so obvious to you and you just get it, right? You know? Like I went out to Utah and watched my football team get beat and I felt pretty not great, and it was obvious what I was feeling, right? It’s feeling something, and then I had to work with that a little bit and say, “Okay, you didn’t play today,” right? You want the best for that, but you can’t let that bother you, and then basically, went on and had a wonderful evening with my best friend, and just kind of let it go. But the point is, years ago, 10, 15 years ago, before I worked on it, I would have goaded over that all night and got up in the morning just— and I just don’t allow that to happen anymore. I’m not going to allow my personal mind to interfere with my ability, all day long, to not fully enjoy. See, we have the choice, do you want to be in joy and be happy or do you want to be right? Because your ego wants to be right. It wants to be right in every situation but it makes you miserable. You’re miserable and you’re allowing something to make you miserable, or you’ll look for something like, okay, again, the hot fudge sundae, or buying a new car, or new house, or something when there’s something wrong inside the only way to make it right is to address it. Not resist it. Accept it. Be grateful and let it come up. Does that make sense?

Shannon: It does. Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Dr. A: So welcome. Thanks. Give him a carrot or something!

Shannon: Okay.

Dr. A: Okay, Rach. Who else we got?

Rachel: All right. Our next question is from Elizabeth. Elizabeth, can you come on camera and unmute yourself?

Dr. A: Hi, Elizabeth.

Rachel: Just hit unmute.

Elizabeth: Okay. Now can you hear me?

Rachel: There you are.

Dr. A: I can hear you [crosstalk 00:32:43]

Elizabeth: Hi, hi, hi! This is a huge “aha” for me Dr. A, and being joyful is kind of my go-to place, but I’ve been blocking that and because of my amazing health coach, after convention, or during convention, I had a heart-to-heart talk with her, and fully embracing boundaries that I’m really working on with the Stop. Challenge. and Choose., component, but with my adult children, who are, they’re both dealing with taking care of their dad with dementia and I had to acknowledge that I was robbing my own joy by stepping in and being a hero, if you will. Thinking that they’re not capable and something shifted where I completely took responsibility from a place of love and joy to say my children have the capacity and are able to make the right decisions on their, on his behalf, and I also was really ill during convention. I had a really horrible injury on my foot, but I still went to convention. I was determined, and joy and health to me— I’ve experienced such a connection and I just wanted to ask because the whole thing with my children, which I knew I had to make a hard line in the sand for boundaries because my not doing so was blocking joy for everyone. That’s how I was feeling. That was my experience. The minute I shifted and that pebble hit the water, the ripples were uncomfortable. I was in unchartered waters, but I knew in my heart that my love for my children and my belief that they had all that they needed to make that choice has rippled out right now.

So, not two months later, since convention I am feeling so strong and I don’t know if it’s the EAA’s or combination of that, and moving as best I can, but I really do believe that my joy is speaking to me at a DNA level. I just want to ask you, can we heal ourselves by intentionally seeking joy and remembering joy as innocent as children do? Like my grandkids, I was in a boot, but I was so having a freaking amazing— I had a great time yesterday just watching them swim in 10 feet of water and I was laughing so hard that this morning I woke up and I could put my gym shoe on again. I know it’s not a miracle, but I’m calling it a miracle because I just feel so invigorated. I just want you to tell me— yes, joy heals! That’s what I want you to tell me.

Dr. A: You just gave all the evidence I need, that’s for sure. And congratulations, and just to see that smile on your face, because here’s the deal, bottom line is our stored trauma blocks our energy. We have this abundant energy that wants to flow out of us just like it was when we were kids. You know, we’re told 50,000 times by the time we’re five, “No.” “No this.” “No that.” And that beautiful joy, all you have to do is, like you said, go to the swimming pool, or— listen, I know sometimes when I’m getting ready, or doing my talks, and I’m inside getting prepared, and I’m at a hotel and I can hear the pool outside and you can hear the giggling of kids, right? Because they’re not spending any time with their stored trauma. They are basically sitting there in the moment, fully present, enjoying it and that’s what you just described to me. You made a decision that, you know what? You’re going to be joyful. You’re deciding to be joyful over needing to be right, needing to be in charge, you’ve actually put your ego on the doorstep. You don’t need to be the hero anymore. You are basically being there and in the beauty of that, you become an incredible mom, grandmom, all those things that you want for yourself become reality because you can be fully present, not distracted by this personal mind that’s trying to make the world a certain way, and so you just described in a very short period of time. You’ve been able to change your stars. 

That’s the thing, why this work is so important and why I never give up on anybody is because you are only this far away from saying, “Ego, I’m going to put you over here to the side and I’m going to start experiencing life to its fullest. I’m going to decide that every day I’m going to be joyful. I’m going to be amazed at those kids in 10 feet of water. I’m not going to sit there and freak out. I’m going to watch them and depending on their age, yeah I’m going to make sure that they’re okay, but otherwise I’m not going to sit there and worry about what could happen. I’m going to enjoy them to the fullest, and how much fun they’re having, and I’m going to transfer that energy into me, and I’m going to fully become alive.” So absolutely, everything you said is true. You’re changing your stars because you’re making a decision to bring joy daily in your life. You’re grateful. You’re grateful for what’s happening. You’re accepting the way things are and you’re now not resisting, clinging, you’re simply opening up to the possibilities of really enjoying yourself daily and look how everything’s changing. Your whole life is changing [crosstalk 00:38:21].

Elizabeth: You’re going to make me cry because it really took for me to get uncomfortable with receiving the feedback from somebody who I trust— Terry, who is my coach, and not taking it personal, and that transmitted for me the strength to then have hard conversations with my children about my part in the messiness with their dad.

Dr. A: Yep. Yep. They’re all— and listen, your role is to experience life to the fullest. To be compassionate. To be accepting. Just like when I was talking to the first lady about, bottom line is, just accept where you are. You need no one else to give you approval. You just need to wake up and fully absorb how beautiful it is to be alive. So I want to thank you so much, and congratulations. That work, continue the work daily, and that work will take you, it will help you and yes, joyfulness and fully experiencing life to the fullest, and being fully aware, and awake is basically how we heal ourselves. So, congratulations.

Elizabeth: Thank you.

Dr. A: You’re welcome. Awesome. This is great today. Who else we got, Rach?

Rachel: We have Amanda next. Her question is actually kind of similar to Liz’s so— hi, Amanda.

Amanda: Hi. Hi, can you hear me okay?

Dr. A: Yeah.

Amanda: Okay, great. Hi, Dr. A, it is so great seeing you and connecting with you here. I absolutely love what we have to share. So based on the last question, I’m curious, what would you say for someone who it’s hard for them to experience joy? Maybe past traumas. How would you say they can choose joy every day? What is getting to that level, to experience it every day?

Dr. A: Yeah, well, you know the part— Lau Tzu said this a couple thousand years ago, but the bottom line is if you’re thinking about the past, right? You’re basically— the past, you can’t change the past. The past is the past. The future is not here yet. You know, we talk about this, the coining, in the present is all you have and it’s the gift, right? But, it’s so true. I mean, I hate to say it, but it’s actually the truth. We have no control over what happened in the past. In fact, I always like to tell people, give yourself— the best gift you can give yourself is stop trying to change your past, because you can’t change it, and the next best gift you can give yourself is stop worrying about the future. We have very little control over the future. The only thing really we have control over is the present, and we can actually substitute. So one of the first things, and the easiest things to do, is to understand that we have a negative bias. You know, I always like to go back to our programming. It’s very interesting because there’s a another special on hominids, looking at early humans, and they found one that they— the basic Homo Sapien is like 150,000 years ago, they found one, another hominid, that was actually 300, that lived 300,000 years ago and they buried their dead, and had a ritual, and did hieroglyphics.

So the capability of man is to do things has been here for a long time, but over those hundreds of thousands of years we built certain tendencies, and one of those tendencies as an animal, because we’re a sophisticated animal, is real threats and so our whole nervous system is set up on a negative bias. That we’re looking for things that can harm us. Ten thousand years ago there’s many things that could kill you throughout the day so you had to be aware of those things and that’s where our programming is. Fast forward to 2023. Most of the things in our life that we think are threats are perceived threats. They’re not real. They’re, you know, wondering about whether we could have a nuclear war because of what’s going on in Ukraine and Russia. Things that are very esoteric, which we have no control of, but because of median technology, all the stuff is in our face all day long, and so what it does is it feeds our ego, and the world is a dangerous place and your ego’s saying, “I’m here.” It’s like Mighty Mouse, “I’m here to save the day!” And the reality is, your ego isn’t here to save the day. Your ego is here to try to get the world to be a different way than it actually is. And the best gift you can give yourself is to realize that I have very little control over what happens in the outside world. I have complete control over what happens in the inside world.

So, just like I’ve been talking about, and going to the mental gym. You have complete control and you can start by switching negative bias things, to positive bias. So, in other words, and I use all the time but, and it happens a lot because I live in Florida, and bottom line is, you’ll be in traffic, and I’m in a 35 mile an hour zone and there’s no way to pass a double yellow line and there’s somebody in front of me going 25 miles an hour, right? We all experience that, and you can sit there and get yourself pretty worked up about that and actually, you have very little control. Instead, you can substitute something positive and say, “There’s a song I’ve been meaning to listen to. I’m going to a meeting, I can now use this time to prep and do a little more work on it. I can think of something positive. Put on some music and be joyful. I can look around me at how beautiful the ocean is, or whatever it is. I can substitute immediately something positive,” and I’m not saying having positive thinking. I’m not talking about positive thinking, which is way overrated, I’m talking about actually taking something positive in your life, it could be, do you have kids?

Amanda: Sorry, yes [apologizing for being on mute for a moment].

Dr. A: Do they bring you great joy?

Amanda: They do.

Dr. A: Yeah. Okay, so you’re in the car doing that. Also, you think about, what’s your oldest’s name?

Amanda: Ellie.

Dr. A: Ellie? And how old is she?

Amanda: She’s six.

Dr. A: Okay. She probably did something really cute this weekend, right? There was probably something in there she did.

Amanda: Yeah [crosstalk 00:44:31]

Dr. A: But the bottom line is [unintelligible 00:44:41] about when I was in the mountains and we were whitewater canoeing down the Shoshone Rapids and one of my friends did something really funny. When I was in line to get on the plane, and they were delayed, and I had to wait there another 20 minutes, that’s what I was starting to feel, “God, I just want to get on this plane and get home,” right? “I just want…” and then I immediately— boom— substitute and start thinking, and the next thing I know someone behind me goes, “What’s so funny?” You know, because I just substituted something that happened four days before. That’s what we can do. We can start— if we’re in a negative space, a negative bias, we can start substituting. Funny things happen in all our lives and we just need to move those into position where rather than getting in that negative feedback loop, that cognitive emotive loop, we substitute something. And that’s something easy we can do. The second thing, as I mentioned, mantras. When we’ve got something that’s bugging us, take one word that you like that makes you feel good. “I’m calm.” It doesn’t matter what it is and just focus on that to break those loops. We have complete control over our inside world. We have very little or no control over our outside world. So make the decision. That’s what today, this whole Zoom is about. Choose joy over being right, because your ego is going to want you to be right in every situation and you know what? Is it really worth it? Because who really cares? Nobody cares. Right? Does that make sense?

Amanda: It does. Thank you so much.

Dr. A: You’re welcome.

Amanda: Pleasure talking to you Dr. A.

Dr. A: Thank you. Bye. Okay, who else we got?

Rachel: All right. Next up we actually have Chris. Our very own Chris has a question.

Dr. A: Our very own Chris. All-American Chris.

Chris: That’s me this morning. So, I have an interesting one regarding parenting. I know you’re a phenomenal father and I’ve seen how you raise your girls and I know we’ve all heard of situational leadership, but I have a question about situational communication. So, a lot of times, professionally I can communicate with everyone in a very— I’m very kind. I’m very compassionate. I’m very understanding, but then I don’t communicate that same way all the time in my personal life. Namely around my kids. I have four kids under the age of 10 and they’re miniature me’s, and I’m very high energy to begin with, and so it’s choosing joy, over being right is very difficult a lot of the times, and I guess my biggest question is, I’m not going to ask you how do I get them to do the things I want them to do, because I know the response to that, but I do want to know, what do I do in those situations? How can I pivot so that I can be more present and more like I am most of the time with everyone I interact with professionally and not get triggered so quickly by the kids not doing what I want them to do?

Dr. A: Oh, that’s a really good— I’m glad you asked that, and the reality is this: your expectations are high. You want the best for them. You want them, you don’t want them to struggle. That’s your paternal instinct. That’s you, and all the knowledge you have now, and the things you just want, you want to hold them close and just give them all that stuff so they don’t have to go through the process, and let me tell you something my friend, that’s the worst thing you can do. They’ve got to go through the process. They’ve got to go through the suffering. They’ve got to go through the struggles. I’m not saying you’re gonna let them stick a fork into a 110’s outlet, but with that much said, you have got to let them grow on their own. And listen, I have, thank you, yeah, I have a really great relationship with my daughter, but I have to tell you, my older daughter hates it when I talk about her ego. She doesn’t want to hear that, and you know why? Because it’s her ego hearing me say that and it doesn’t want anything to do with it. So there’s frustration there.

So the most important thing is that— you know, one of the early things is set boundaries. The boundaries have to be that you treat them, especially as they grow up, as a fellow human. As a fellow human being, not as a kid, because especially as they’re going through, how old are your kids?

Chris: About to turn 11, 9, 6 and 2.

Dr. A: Yeah. So you got the— you’re on the front end of all the emotional growth that occurs. At the age of 5 is when our limbic system no longer has quite the effect and our prefrontal cortex starts developing. So that’s where you can start to create rational— and there was a funny movie by— Shelly Long was in it many years ago, where she would talk to her two-year-old and tell him, including— she would say, “Sam, stop putting that fork and in the 110 because you’re going to have 220 volts of current go through your heart and create cardiac arrest,” and she would say this to the two-year-old, and I think it was Harry Winkler said to her, “What are you saying?” “Because I like to make them aware of consequences.” Right? So you want to make them aware of consequences, but there’s a balance there, because you want to go— it’s almost like you have an official hall pass as a parent to say things and cut right to the chase. They need just as much time from processing. They need you to respect them, right? Set the boundaries, but respect them, and really listen more than you probably are now. I think you’ll find the more you listen— what they— there was another movie, White Men Can’t Jump, remember? And Rosie, you see that movie?

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Dr. A: Yeah. Well, anyway, you know, what’s his name, Woody Harrelson, would try to fix what Rosie would say to her and all she wanted to do is be heard. She just wanted to be able to vent, and so there’s that balance between, they’re in that situation because they’re your child and they live in the same house, but they’re not there necessarily asking for counsel, and the way to get more counseling from is give less counseling. That’s how you can help them the most. Does that make sense?

Chris: I think so. I think so. It’s just that taking that into action is the part I’m struggling with.

Dr. A: Stop. Challenge. Choose., my friend. Remember, listen, listen, listen, you are more likely to have it— you’re looking for building deeper rapport with your children, and developing trust, and knowing that especially as they get older, that you’re not getting dumber, okay? 

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Dr. A: That’s true.

Chris: Yeah.

Dr. A: The teenage years, and I can tell you through my teenage, through my kids teenage years, their friends would come into my office and sit and want to talk to me. They enjoyed that time because I just sit there and listen to them. I just sit there and listen, and that’s what they want. They need— there’s a difference between the up one, down one parental relationship and the human to human interaction, and they need more— because what you are is you are a consistent person that will always give them, or unless you don’t in a certain area, but almost all the time, will give them advice that’s in their best interest. But they need to understand that. That you’re not trying to get them, because that’s [unintelligible 00:52:09] beginning, right? You’re not trying to get them to do anything, you’re simply aware, be there as a listening device, and then if they ask you a question, then comment on it from that standpoint, and they will come to you more and more because they’ll know that you’re that consistent, because as they go through their life, their peer group, right? And their desire to belong to a peer group becomes the most important thing in their life, and if they still see you as this consistent dad that’s there for them, not trying to tell them what to do, but there to help them, knowing that you unconditionally love them, and no matter what, they come to you, you’re not going to judge them. You’re simply going to help them go through, whatever that condition is. You’ll find that that will build and will be less frustrating.

Chris: Awesome. Can we make it happen overnight? That’d be helpful, yes.

Dr. A: That’s the part where I would say more than anything. That’s where the listening part comes in, right? Really got to listen more. Listen, my whole relationship, because my older daughter is getting married in the fall and she’s working here locally, and she’s living with me until she gets married and we’ve never had more really, really positive times together because basically, honestly, I’m not trying to fix her. She’s 26 years old. She is who she is. I just want to be there to help her, when she has questions and it changes everything.

Chris: Wow. I hope to have that someday with all the kids.

Dr. A: You will. You will. You’re a great father. You’re open, curious, you want to learn and grow. I know you’ll become all that. And just have the patience. The good news is you have a whole series going on there where basically, you’ll have lots of time to practice.

Chris: Oh, great. That’s wonderful. Thank you for that.

Dr. A: By the time the two-year-old’s 16, you’ll have it figured out.

Chris: Oh, all right. Perfect. Awesome. Well thanks, Dr. A.

Dr. A: You’re welcome. All right. Rach, we have time for I think one more.

Rachel: Oh, I think that was our last question actually.

Dr. A: Awesome. That’s awesome.

Rachel: Perfect timing.

Dr. A: Okay. Let me just put a summary in this is. We all have a personal mind when we’re really, really little because of our dependency we use that personal mind to create psychological security for ourselves. We operate under those principles. Most of us change that very little as we get older. What I’m imploring to you is, if your life isn’t going exactly the way you want, if you have many times when it’s not so happy inside there, it’s very easy to make a decision, and the decision is you know what? I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to change. I’m ready to become aware. I’m ready to start using these tools and principles and I’m going to wake up. I’m going to become more present. I’m going to become more conscious and I’m going to be there to start to understand that this amazing thing called life, and I’ll end with this: I grew up and sailed around the islands, and my girls grew up with that, and last week we lost Jimmy Buffett, and Jimmy Buffett— one of the reasons why I admired him, because working really hard in critical care, going to the islands and listening to the music, and sailing, it was almost, he was an escapist and he threw his music, and he grew up in the nautical background.

He became an integral part of my life and I thought about that escapism and why that was so important, and the Parrotheads are famous for getting together and getting dressed up and escaping their reality. What I would say that would challenge you is, reality basically, is an acquired taste and living in our life, all the amazing things that happen around us every day are blocked by our ego trying to control the external environment. Make the decision to start working. Come with us on these forums and let’s change our ability to not just adapt, but develop the psychological flexibility. So we can fully have joy daily in our lives. God bless you guys. See ya.

Share this post

Related Posts


Visit the new
Habits of Health

Dr.A’s Habits of Health second edition has been expanded, updated, and enhanced with the latest research and an evolved approach to finding health success in this chaotic world.