Today I will be sharing some of what I learned as Javan and I each go through our top 5 lessons from 2019.
In total 10 simple ways of looking at life, approaching life, and thinking about life that can change your life tomorrow.
I look at a lot of these lessons as base principles in an approach to life that very much contradicts the status quo.
None of these lessons require any money or technology to implement. There are no tools or techniques here.
It’s simply changing your approach.
#1 Javan – Seeing life as ecology. (17:45)
As I was working with a massage therapist this year on pain from my accident that got to be an 11/10 down the sides of my legs he asked me, “How are your feet?” He then worked on relieving the tension on my feet and I could immediately notice the relief – It completely flabbergasted me! He looked up at me and he said: “You know the only separation in the human body is the human brain.”
This fundamentally changed the way that I look at the world. I realized it’s my responsibility on how I operate on a daily basis. An example of how this came into action this year is when I released my film it went out into the world and eventually met criticism. I felt a flash of anger but then went on to try to understand the voice and viewpoint of this viewer. Where were they coming from and what could it mean to me? I asked questions about their critique and interviewed a number of loggers to better inform my understanding of what they’d been upset about, which in turn expanded on this connection and grew my perspective.
#1 Diego – If you’re worried about life balance then your life isn’t balanced. (29:30)
You have to accept that work-life balance will not always be in your favor. If you focus on the times that it isn’t you’re going to be truly bummed out. We often think that when work gets out of balance that we need to compensate with more life-based projects or activities, but ultimately that just becomes another goal that takes up your capacity. You can try and make work heavy times a little more favorable, but taking a moment to recognize you truly don’t need much create balance, and then letting go of needing it to always be perfect, will allow for tremendous relief.
#2 Javan – Use everything. (40:00)
Arthur Haynes, a taxonomist, from studying bones of us and our ancestors, that we’ve become our own subspecies. We aren’t just homosapiens any more, we’re homosapein domesticus fragilus. We’re so domesticated we’re no longer able to live outside of our electronic and petroleum based life-style.
Instead of allowing that to frustrate you, use it to grow antifragile. Identify where you can improve. See the gold in everything that comes to you instead of always trying to control it.
#2 Diego – Knowing where everything you know is at any given time & Decide your one hand of importance. (51:30)
I used the Marie Kondo approach earlier this year, but at the end of her process, I still had a lot of sentimental stuff laying around. I then read Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki and it had a remarkable impact on my life as I got rid of an incredible amount of things. It opened my eyes to true minimalism. Ask yourself; Do you know where everything you own is right now?
You can use this same mentality to balance your life – there’s so much in your mind to focus on, but if you want to minimalize your life you need to come down to one hand worth of major categories. And no cheating here – you can’t say I’m into sports as one category and list biking, running and swimming. You have to pick just swimming, for example.
You can simplify picking those categories by putting them through a number of qualifiers. Ask if what you’ve allowed into your life is your own choice or your endless pursuit of the latest self-improvement or trend category. Also, ask if what you are giving your energy to is giving something back to you – why give to people who are only going to take?
#3 Javan – Experience is empirical evidence. Believe what people do not what they say. (1:06:40)
I took a lesson from Stephen Pyne from the documentary. There’s been fire for as long as there have been plants on land. In North America, there is fossil evidence that natives managed fire for as far back as 30k years ago. Stephen relates in the film that it will take a long time for scientific research to discover what 30k years of empirical evidence has taught us. We treat science as a noun and the way we arrive at conclusions, but it’s only a method, just the same as your gathering of experience is a method. We should not discount what we learn, we should treat it as empirical evidence.
#3 Diego – Good, (not great) communication will solve most problems. (1:12:30)
People are so afraid or don’t want to face bad news that they hide from communicating it. There’s a saying “Bad news grows worse with age”. People want to know when there’s a problem. Like if there’s a delay in shipment – send out an email to let them know. It’s the surprise that people don’t like – everyone knows we’re human and make mistakes, they just don’t want to be blindsided.
#4 Javan – Asking what are the things that I use every day and what is my relationship with the tool I use those tools with every day; My body? (1:21:00)
I have an incredible asset, this body, and I have never had a relationship with it. After I got in that accident with that deer I had so much pain until I found out how to access and massage a deep muscle called the psoas – a pelvic muscle. The more I learned about my body the better the relationship I gained with it. And as I’ve learned about it other things just don’t matter as much as before. I’m not as interested in distracting myself, I’m more interested in knowing what it can do and how I can relate to it.
Speaking of your body; farming is a physical job, and we don’t treat it that way. There’s no time spent getting ready the way an athlete does off the field. You just show up and expect your body to perform and don’t take care of it. Should you drink like that? Eat like that? Your work is not your workout.
#4 Diego – I now always approach situations that arise with “This was my fault”, as the default response so I can try and solve it, instead of looking to another person to blame. (1:32:40)
Things get messy. Every time something goes wrong it’s likely we can find some part of it that was our responsibility that we can improve on. Ignoring that part of the situation doesn’t allow for change and that’s what will keep those same mistakes from happening again in the long run.
“I take responsibility, not blame.” Keep extreme ownership and get better all the time.
#5 Javan – Are thoughts are not us. (1:36:00)
I’ve used this Buddhist technique to work through depression – when you have a thought you can visualize it with a bubble around it and touch it with a feather. I’ve gone on to use a technique called “a part of me”. When you experience an emotion you recognize it and say “this is interesting, what part of me is experiencing this situation and feeling this way?”.
This allows me to view the situation from the center of myself, to create distance from it, and diagnose the reason this part of me exists. I think about its origins and ask “where did this part of me come from, what is it protecting or scared of, what rules does it play by?” This goes back to the concept “if you don’t know what runs you, it runs you.”
Another way of using ‘a part of me’ is to ask what part of someone is responding to you or something their experiencing. For example, with your child, it’s easy to say “that’s just how it is” instead of taking the time to help them process what they’re experiencing. If they say “I don’t want to go to school” you can either respond “It’s ok – you love school!” or you can ask – What part of them doesn’t want to go to school? And try to address that part of them and help them process the situation.
#5 Diego – What needs to be said has already been said long ago. (1:47:00)
The time to tell someone something is right now. You often get to a moment in life, like your kids’ first sports meet, when you want to have a moment to encourage them and give advice, but you never get the chance to. Or when a loved one dies and you think “I never got a chance to tell them how I really felt”. If you tell people what you want to, when you think of it, then they’ll take that with them. You don’t need to worry about saying it after that, they already know, and we don’t have to feel guilty about those moments we think we should be saying it and don’t get the opportunity.
Diego – I want to ask myself going into the new year, and challenge others to ask themselves; What will be your body of work? What will you leave behind after you are gone? This isn’t for everyone, but it’s a question that can be critical to address for some people like myself.
Javan – I think about this a lot. The way I frame it is; know your message, spread your message. I look at this life as a gift that I can give to others. To be the best that I can and build up others around me.
For those that want to follow along with Javan’s work you can visit his site here, and you can also view his recent documentary Facing Fire by clicking here.