author choosing joy messy middle podcast Season 6

Blake D. Bauer on Giving Yourself Permission to Say That Your Joy Matters


Blake D. Bauer is the author of the international bestselling book You Were Not Born To Suffer. I’m honored to interview him this week on Jump Start Your Joy, and it was interesting that the theme of initiation, struggle, and hardship as a path to knowing yourself and finding your purpose wove through the conversation. In addition to being a best selling author, Blake teaches various forms of mindfulness, meditation, qi gong, qi gong energy medicine, and dao yin (a health and longevity yoga). He has worked with thousands of people around the world who could not find lasting solutions from conventional medicine, psychiatry, or religion. 

Much of our interview focused on the current state of affairs – and around the question of how we remain centered and find joy in the messy middle. Blake and I have both had our own experience with hard times, and we both bring an interesting lens on what it means to own your past and work through the places were you are stuck to find joy and purpose on the other side.

On finding joy in the messy middle:

Blake shared about his thoughts on how to find joy during hard times, and for him it sits with becoming curious and trying new things. He encourages you to give yourself permission to explore new interests without judgement, worrying outcome, or trying to please anyone else. “You’re the only one on the entire planet that can give yourself permission to try something. Yeah. And to honor what you’re feeling to follow your instinct, to follow your intuition only you. So stop, I’d say stop rejecting and silencing that voice and go follow that thread.”

In this episode, Blake and I talk about:

  • Early joys of falling in love
  • His “initiation” into adulthood in high school, when he was arrested for a DUI and was deep into addiction and drug use.
  • How he found his way back to his own purpose and center after a rough time in his teen years
  • Getting curious about your interests, and giving yourself permission to follow them
  • What to do when you feel that your energy, blood, or emotions are stuck

Resources

Blake Bauer’s Website

Blake Bauer’s Book: You Were Not Born to Suffer (on Amazon)

Transcript

Paula:  Welcome to the show. This week I am so excited to have Blake Bauer on. He is the author of the book You Were Not Born to Suffer.

I’m really excited to have this discussion. Welcome to the show, Blake.

Blake:  Hi, Paula. Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

Paula:  The first question that I like to ask everyone is would you tell us what you loved most as a child or in school, what were your earliest sparks of joy?

Blake:  What a wonderful question. I have always been somewhat of a lover. I think I had my first crush and girlfriend when I was in Kindergarten at 5. I can remember my crushes being a part of my joy.

Then I would say sports as a young boy. I really loved playing sports. I liked to just have fun. I always loved animals. We had a dog and I just absolutely loved animals. I’ve always loved dogs and I love all kinds of animals. Those three things pop into my head.

Paula:  That is excellent. It’s interesting because no one has brought up their first love before in this question. I love that. It’s interesting because there’s probably a set of memories that go with that person and that time, being on a school bus or whatever it was that you remember of that time. That’s very interesting. Thank you.

You have a very interesting background. Your book is amazing. I know in other interviews you’ve talked about how people go through an initiation into adulthood or a wider awakening. Would you share what your journey was like into that?

Blake:  I think that’s a wonderful way of phrasing, because we don’t talk about it often enough. I think in terms of initiation and in our developed western culture today, the time and place we live in, we don’t have a lot of healthy forms of initiation.

I will go back to my story in one second, but I was just thinking as you were talking that even what we’re going through right now collectively with COVID is this cultural initiation. Because of the industrial revolution and all of the advancements in technology over the last 100 years, as human beings we like to make our lives comfortable and easier for ourselves, and we’ve succeeded in a lot of ways.

Then what we’ve all been going through this year is reminiscent of what older generations went through with the Depression and wars and things like that. I talked to my parents and other generations, and they feel they’ve never seen anything like this. These are people who have seen Depressions and wars. The combination of everything we’re going through is an initiation that I think is very challenging for everybody, but also unlocking people’s strength and their true nature.

Going back to my initiation, my initial big initiation was I grew up in a dysfunctional family, like a lot of people, with parents who never learned how to love themselves and who didn’t have very healthy relationships themselves or very healthy habits, so those were big influences in my life. Then as a young man I got heavily into drugs and alcohol as a way of surviving socially, as a way of numbing my own mental and emotional pain that I didn’t know how to talk about or address. I got heavily into drugs and alcohol to the point where I was getting high every day, often throughout the day, I was selling different drugs, like cannabis and pharmaceutical pills. I really became quite self-destructive.

I also played sports growing up, going back to the childhood question. I played American football and became a captain of the varsity football team when I was a senior, with two of my best friends. One night I was coming home from a party where I had taken a couple pills and smoked a lot of marijuana and had been drinking a lot, and then driving. I got to a freight train in the middle of the night, at 3:00 in the morning, and was so tired and delirious that I put my car in park while the train was passing and I fell asleep.

I woke up to the police knocking on the window. I rolled down the window and I said to the officer, they quoted it on the ticket that I had said, “Excuse me, officer. Was I driving too slow?” Meanwhile, I had been parked there for over an hour, when someone who lived near the train tracks had seen this car running with the lights on parked right in front of the train tracks and so called the police.

I was arrested for driving under the influence. I had all of those substances with me in the car. I was obviously very smart in those reckless teenage years.

This was the beginning of my initiation because that arrest was very bad. Then my coach found out for football and he kicked me off the team to make an example out of me, told me I had to step down as captain and tell my best friends I wasn’t fit to represent them. Then I had offers to play in college sports and I lost all of that. I was so very ashamed of myself, shamed in my community, everybody knew what had happened, my girlfriend and family, my friends’ families, just everybody. I just felt really horrible about myself and I basically spiraled into a suicidal depression during that time, where I was waking up every morning just really not wanting to be here, feeling very tortured mentally and emotionally, feeling very insecure, lost, confused.

That was at this 17/18-year-old point where I also felt the weight of the world on me in terms of what am I going to do with my life. Do I go to work? Do I go to school? What do I study? Is life just about making money? Is money the key to happiness and success and being loved? I’m 17/18, coming off extreme drug and alcohol addiction, asking all these existential questions. Is there a God? Do I have a purpose in life?

My friends all seemed to be coasting okay. They were just going to go to college or go to work, and they seemed to just be okay. Whereas I was not okay, but I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t even know how to articulate what I was going through. I didn’t have people in my life that I felt like I could go to that I could depend on with this part of myself.

I basically moved forward from the age of 18 just wanting to answer two questions. How do I free myself from this pain and suffering? What’s the purpose of my life? Literally, everything I did from 18 on was in the spirit of answering those two questions.

Everybody thought I was crazy. I stopped drinking. I stopped getting high. I stopped socializing. I started reading book after book. I started eating really healthy, taking all these vitamins. Everybody thought, “What’s going on with Blake? He’s kind of weird now.”

This is the abridged version, but that journey led me to five different universities where I studied psychology, nutritional medicine, all the sciences. I then went on to study traditional Chinese medicine, so acupuncture and Oriental medicine, Chinese herbal medicine. I studied western herbal medicine. Then I was also working in those fields while I was studying. I worked for a Chinese medical doctor who was an acupuncturist, an herbalist, an oncologist. I sold vitamins to pay my bills and learned about the supplement world.

That journey was really my healing journey and personal development journey, and if you believe we have a spiritual journey it was my spiritual journey. I was healing myself, finding myself, and trying to understand my purpose. After years of doing that, that led me to some insights where I realized everything I did on my healing, educational, personal development, and spiritual journey was really me just learning how to love myself.

I was really just looking for love. I was looking for the love I never got as a child. I was looking for the love I never learned how to give myself. I realized that, like most people, I had learned to hurt myself to get love from other people, to be accepted, to be approved of, to not be alone, to not be abused, to not be an outcast, to feel like I belonged. I learned to hurt myself and let myself get hurt to survive.

Then from all my training, I could actually see how disease and depression develop in the body as a result of us never learning how to love ourselves as children. I very naïvely, when I realized this, I just wanted to tell as many people as I could. That’s where the idea for my book came. I had no idea what publishing a book entailed and the challenges that would come with deciding I wanted to do that, so that was another big chapter.

That was the initiation that put me on this path to then one day just wanting to share with other people what I was so desperate to understand and had so much trouble finding clear practical answers for.

Paula:  Thank you for all of that. It’s amazing. I can see, and probably a lot of listeners can see their own journey of where it was that maybe they faced some sort of an initiation or some big thing that happens in their lives and they don’t know what to do with it.

It also strikes me that maybe there’s more than one. I think if we’ve had one, like you said earlier, we’re probably having another one now because this is not easy and none of us walked into 2020 knowing what would happen or prepared for what would happen.

I do love how you said that you were looking for ways to love yourself and how to do that, and that was one of your earliest sparks of joy, too. I love seeing how these things often play through for people, and also how digging in and getting deeply curious about what was painful becomes the path to unlocking your own purpose and your own passion and excitement. I don’t know if there are any of those little bits that you’d like to reflect on?

Blake:  No. I just love the frame of the conversation in terms of initiation, because I think that’s a really wonderful concept that we’ve lost touch with. In our culture, we have all of these really self-destructive ways of initiation, like getting high, drinking, partying, getting in trouble with the law. For a lot of people getting married or having children is their initiation, and then they later find out who they really are and realize that they made decisions from a place where they had no idea who they were.

I think that’s the key. Cultures that had initiation at a young age that challenged you and tested you to find who you are, to find that strength, then helped you make decisions in your early adulthood that reflected and were aligned with your true nature, as opposed to making these big decisions that then later they help you figure out who you are and you’re like, “Oh, I have spent X years in a marriage, in a job, and neither of them reflect who I am.” This is a very common theme, because we don’t have healthy forms of initiation at a younger age.

Paula:  Yes. I think that’s a lot of where even the idea of Jump Start Your Joy had its own birth, which was interestingly out of the birth of my own son, which was very difficult and after which I was diagnosed with PTSD because I didn’t know how to process what had happened. That was one of my initiations. I knew that my current state at that point was not acceptable to me, because I was born as a happy person, and I knew I had to find my way through it.

It was not easy, and also a deep reconnection with I feel like joy was calling to me, something outside of myself. That’s how I define it. How do we find that nugget? I feel like that’s probably what was calling, in a similar way, your language will be different, but it was calling you forth and the book was one way. How do we work through an initiation like the one we’re in globally and don’t know necessarily what to do with?

Blake:  I think having safe containers to talk vulnerably is a really important one. Having a friend, a family member, a therapist, or some kind of helping professional that is a safe place for you is really important. I encourage anybody who is listening to seek out people you can talk to and not keep it in. We’re not meant to suffer alone.

Everyone is going through stuff and can relate, so there is no shame in struggling. That’s a big block for a lot of people. I think just talking. Open up. Find a therapist, find a healer, some kind of health professional. If you don’t feel safe with a family member or a friend, you have to go talk to someone. Now there’s a lot of telemedicine.

Another important one is finding whatever your “medicine” is that makes you feel good and brings you joy and brings you wellbeing. I think everybody needs some time and space to themselves, especially during a period where you’re not leaving the house as much. You need a half hour to an hour minimum to get out, get some fresh air, take a walk, or just be away from other people so you just have time to think and feel for yourself. And then time to do whatever brings you joy. That could be some exercise, it could be listening to a podcast or music, it could be reading a book, it could be taking a bath, it could be taking an online course. Just something that nourishes you and fills you up.

Those are the first two that really come to mind that are really important right now. Then easy to do, they’re not grand, that you can find a way.

Paula:  I like the not grand, because we’re not in a space where we can do a lot of the things that we’re used to doing that maybe bring us joy. I think that’s part of the freefall for so many of us. We’re in a space where we can’t go to a movie, which is a great way to escape, if that’s what you’re used to.

We’re having to go back to the basics of what we like, what do we feel connected to. I often recommend what were your earliest sparks of joy, I bet there’s a version of it that you could do right now that would bring you further connection with other people, or nature, or animals, or sports, maybe video games.

I think there’s something about getting out and moving as well. I know in other places you’ve talked about stuck blood, and stuck energy, and being stuck. Do you want to talk about that and how to maybe move some of the stuck emotions? I think part of this, meaning sitting with COVID, feels like we’re stuck with some of our old stuff and maybe it’s coming up in a new way.

Blake:  Right, 100%. There’s about three primary ways I’ll talk about getting unstuck here. I’ll start with what you were just talking about. Exercise or walking, for example. It’s so important. We have to move our blood and we have to move our energy. From an objective bird’s eye perspective, I look at a lot of disease and depression as stuck blood, stuck energy, and stuck emotion in the body, which is quite factual in terms of what causes disease inside the body and the mind, or the subconscious mind.

Exercise is like what comes first, the chicken or the egg, and there’s this cyclical relationship. Exercise, moving your blood and your energy, helps move everything inside, particularly your emotions and your thoughts, and if you believe in your spirit or your soul, it also moves your spirit and your soul. Walking, running, any kind of exercise that you like, will move your energy, move your blood, move your emotions.

Then the harder part, which is the more important part to talk about, is expressing your emotions. You have to talk to someone about what you’re experiencing. Whenever we internalize what we feel, or need, or want, we make ourselves sick basically. That’s really the root cause of our stuckness or the blocks that we feel and experience of where we’re stuck inside.

Where we’re stuck inside are primarily two things. One is the emotions that we’re not expressing because of fear, or guilt, or shame, or insecurity. We feel it and then we stop ourselves from expressing it because we’re scared, or we’re insecure, or we feel guilty for feeling how we feel, or we feel ashamed of our feelings, so then we shove it, and then that makes us sick and depressed.

The other thing that does the same thing is your negative thoughts. If you let your thinking run unchecked into all of these dark alleys, into all these negative toxic pathways, that’s also going to make you feel stuck. That’s why meditation is so important, so you start to gain some perspective in terms of connecting more to the awareness and the consciousness that is behind your thinking, which is the part of you that can say, “I was just thinking about my mother,” or, “I was just thinking about my children,” or, “I was just lost in thought about money,” or what to make for dinner.

There’s this part of you that is aware when you’re lost in thought. That part of you that’s aware is the part that we need to cultivate more of a connection to, because that’s the part of you that is going to say, “I’m thinking about this in such a negative way,” or, “This way of thinking is not serving me anymore, it’s keeping me stuck.”

We keep ourselves stuck by our limited, negative, and unhealthy thought patterns that we get so caught up with and identified with that there is no space in our head. So, we don’t realize there’s this other part of us that can say, “You know what? I don’t really like thinking about things like that. I can think about them in this way, because it’s healthier and it feels better. I’m solution oriented.”

I’m going to touch on exercise. That’s more of an outside in approach, let’s move the blood and the energy, which then helps you move your thoughts and emotions. But that can never substitute getting in touch with what you feel, and need, and want, learning how to communicate it in a kind, honest way every day, and then taking care of your mind and watching your negative thinking. When you do those three things, you’re not going to feel as stuck. You’re going to feel better because you’re not holding in all of this stuff.

Paula:  I know one of the things after my own path and then I got certified as a life coach was really spending some time noticing where the negative thoughts pop up and where I’m ruminating on something that is just negative and I have no control over.

I think, like you said, working with somebody, whoever that might be, just to acknowledge that you have that kind of activity in your brain and find a way to let go of it and surrender. Sometimes we don’t know what’s happening and that’s okay, too. It doesn’t mean it’s bad.

I think there’s something interesting going on with the current times of how we’re in this cycle of fear and overwhelm. I don’t know if you have any little tips or tools on how we catch ourselves in that moment. If we know that we want to focus on the good, how do we do that?

Blake:  I’m going to come back to some other practical tools, but what I’d like to reinforce is what we were just talking about, those habits. When you’re not expressing what you feel and need and want on a daily basis, the symptom of that is you’re going to be overwhelmed on a regular basis, because you have all this stuff inside that is overwhelming from the past that you’re not getting out, from yesterday, from the day before, from the week before, from the decade before, depending on how far back this goes. Today in the present, it’s hard to face the day and respond to stress in the present because of all the unresolved stuff from the past. It has to come out. That’s one thing.

Going back off the theme of taking care of your mind, I think the most practical thing that anybody can learn and the most powerful thing anybody can learn is a simple deep breathing meditation, and to do it for 10 minutes first thing in the morning.

The reason why I advocate for that is because when you wake up in the morning, we all know those thoughts are active either before you open your eyes or as soon as you open your eyes. You might look at your phone and then everything is off to the races. Most people feel very spread thin and stressed and fragmented before they even get out of bed, because their thoughts are all over the place. What we don’t realize is that the thoughts we think in the morning shape and create our day.

When you do just 10 minutes of deep breathing meditation first thing in the morning and you don’t let yourself get lost in those thoughts and you don’t chase after them, meaning you don’t get out of bed and just start reactively doing things based on these overwhelming thoughts, you’re going to be more centered, you’re going to harness and focus your energy. That means you’re going to face every situation, every person, with a bit more space inside of you, a bit more peace, a bit more clarity, which will prevent you from getting overwhelmed. Then when more stuff comes up throughout the day, you’re already at your edge, so anything that challenges you is going to push you over your edge, so you’re going to react, you’re going to snap, you’re not going to be tolerant.

Having this morning practice will change things drastically. Coming back full circle to what we touched on earlier, when you practice this daily, you get so good at it that you won’t give your peace to anything or anyone, you realize it’s just not worth it.

Paula:  I was delighted to find, and maybe people would find this in someplace near them if they open back up, a retreat center near me that will let people come and just use one of their rooms for the day.

Blake:  That’s wonderful.

Paula:  I’m going to be up there once a week. Give me that space, the intentional space and the mindful space, of “this is for me and I’m going to get some work done here, and I can go walk a labyrinth if I want to.”

I really love what you said about things always leaning towards chaos, because when we can get in a little bit more of a proactive space and not the reactive space, then we can set up a place that probably feels a little more comfortable than just being reactive and pulled each way as things come up.

Blake:  That comes back to that theme that we all face on our personal growth and spiritual path, which is letting go of control. You can’t control everything. You try and control the environment, but you can’t control the wind, when it’s going to come blow things off your table, metaphorically. Things are going to happen. It’s better to make the focus your center, so that no matter what kind of wind comes your way that you don’t get blown over. That’s really the key focus, not trying to control everything and everyone, because you’ll just anxiously burn out. That’s what we do when we’re trying to control everything.

Paula:  Knowing that in the reality of our world right now, maybe COVID time is also the biggest education we’ve ever had. We kind of have to let go of this idea that we can control things and that impermanence is the law of the land or the law of the universe even.

Blake:  Absolutely.

Paula:  In season six I’m talking about how we find joy in the messy middle. I would argue we’re in the messy middle right now. You’ve talked about some of the ways that we can get present with ourselves and get out of overwhelm and fear. Is there a way that you’ve seen that pushes past that into finding joy in this space?

Blake:  Absolutely. One thing that is important to touch on is that I think a lot of people don’t even know what brings them joy, because they grew up just trying to please everybody, mom and dad, be a good boy or a good girl, or they were rebelling, one side or the other.

Often, a mother who is used to looking after everybody else, might say, “I don’t even know what brings me joy for myself or what makes me happy.” Sometimes men it’s the same theme, they’re either trying to be a provider or they’re just a guy’s guy, so they’re afraid of being too vulnerable and trying something. A guy might be scared to try painting or dancing, because he judges himself and he’s afraid other people will judge him.

It’s really important to just go try anything that you’re curious about. Anything. There’s no harm done. You can take a class on writing, or a class on painting, or pottery, or go take a dance class. Now online there are so many great classes you can take at every university. There’s this website I love called MasterClass.com. Go try things.

For me, it’s about going to try anything that sparks your curiosity. In that curiosity, going back to that being a child and having that childhood wonder, anything you wonder about, that’s where joy is. A lot of times we stop ourselves, “I don’t even know what brings me joy, so why would I even try that? I don’t know if I’m going to like it.” How are you going to know if you like it if you don’t go try it?

Our body is stuck, our nervous system is stuck, in our habits, in our habitual behaviors. If your habitual behaviors are just only practical, just only survival, just people-pleasing, just staying safe and in your comfort zone so you’re not judged or you don’t fail, these are all holding you back from just going to try one little thing that you might love.

For example, you could make a list of things that you’re curious about, like writing, painting, dancing, hiking, drawing. It could be anything that comes to mind. Just give yourself permission to just explore it without the outcome mattering. You don’t have to get somewhere with it. You don’t have to make a living doing it. You don’t have to pay the bills doing it. You don’t have to prove something to your mother, or your father, or your partner. It’s just for you, your own curiosity.

That place of permission in your heart and your mind is a very private place. The truth is that no healer, no therapist, no religious leader, no holy person can give you permission. You’re the only one on the entire planet that can give yourself permission to try something and to honor what you’re feeling, to follow your instinct, to follow your intuition. Only you. I’d say stop rejecting and silencing that voice and go follow that thread.

Paula:  My own path decided that improv would be fun, without really knowing the why. Right now, it might be a little bit hard, but when we can all interact together again, it’s a good way, because if that doesn’t put you both in a little bit of a place of discomfort, because it’s vulnerable as heck to just say the next thing that comes to your mind, but it also has some really great follow through with other things, like conversations and trusting yourself, being a podcast host, and all of that.

To go back to what you said, it took that being really curious and saying, “What sounds like it could be fun? What could I just try? What’s nearby?” Without there being an end “thing,”, there’s no objective, that’s so freeing.

Blake:  Right. We all grew up hearing, “You want to try writing? How are you going to make a living?” A lot of us were just shut down in terms of what brings us joy.

Our parents and the adults in our life who came at us that way did that to themselves and their parents did that to them, so they didn’t know better. They do mean the best for us, but a lot of people have been shut down along the way, “That’s not practical,” or, “You’ll probably fail. How many people succeed?” There’s all of these negative beliefs and negative stories that stop people from even trying anything that could bring them some joy.

The thought that you could actually make a living doing what you love sounds like insanity to a lot of people for that reason, but you can if you’re devoted and you don’t take no for an answer.

Paula:  Yes. That’s also so important. In your book you reference a quote from John Lennon saying he wanted to be happy when he grew up. That was actually my answer as a child. I knew of the Beatles, but did not know he said that. It was funny that you would get these looks like, “You want to be happy when you grow up,” like you’re doing that wrong, like that’s not an answer. I think that we did get a lot of conditioning through the years of what the right answer would be and then for whatever reason we also believed that was the only answer.

Blake:  Right. You can be happy and pay your bills.

Paula:  Is there anything you would like to add to this space that you feel like we haven’t touched on?

Blake:  The only thing that comes to mind is that if you don’t value what you feel and need and want, no one else will. We have to be the ones that say, “I matter. My time on the planet matters. My heart matters. My feelings matter. My needs matter. My joy, my dreams, my calling matters.” No one else can do that for us.

When we don’t do that, then we feel like nobody cares about us, we feel like nobody loves us, we feel like we don’t matter, and our perception of life is all quite dark. It’s all coming from not knowing how to value ourselves and not knowing how to say, “I matter. My feelings matter. My needs matter. My joy matters.”

In the spirit of your show, we have to be the ones that say, “My joy, my enjoyment of life on a daily basis matters.” Even if everybody else around me is miserable, I have to set the example, especially if I don’t have good examples around me.

It’s challenging, but when you challenge the idea that you’re a bad person for wanting to be happy, nowhere does that hold up that there is anything wrong, bad, evil, or sinful with wanting to be a healthy happy human being. When you are a healthy happy human being because you say, “My feelings, my needs, my desires, my health matters,” then your cup is full and you give to other people without being resentful and you’re of benefit to the people in your life and to the world.

It’s number one. Everybody really needs to hear that, because it’s such a different narrative to what a lot of us are used to.

Paula:  Yes. I think a lot of us, and I know I have been in that space before, we almost get angry and rage against this idea of “why don’t people see what’s important to me?” or  “why don’t people know what I need?” or  “why don’t people do nice things for me?” 

You can flip that script over to why don’t I do nice things for me? Or, why don’t I value and put forth the effort to the things that I love?

I think you’re very right that there is an immense amount of power in acknowledging it, and also knowing you can do this for yourself. It doesn’t need to be somebody else that says you’re allowed to or to know what you want, because that’s not their job either.

Blake:  Most people are not mind readers. We’re all selfish, I believe. Even though we’re generous and we’re giving, we’re selfless too, we’re also selfish. Then a lot of that goes back to childhood wounds of not getting enough attention or love from my parents, so we look for it from other people because we didn’t get it as a child and we never learned how to give it to ourselves.

When you learn to give it to yourself and you meet your needs, you go after what you want and what you desire, and you express your feelings, then you get to this place where you’re like, “My relationship with myself is really healthy, so I don’t want anybody in my life that doesn’t meet me in that way.” Because you’re in a good place, then you attract people who are also in a good place, and you won’t settle for less. That’s how I am now.

Paula:  I like it. If people are tuning it and they’d like to get in touch, how can people find you and work with you?

Blake:  The first thing I would recommend is just to go Amazon and check out my book, because it’s very reasonable and it’s very powerful and practical. It will help clear out a lot of pain and set you free. That’s number one. The book is You Were Not Born to Suffer.

Then my website is Unconditional-Selflove.com and I’m on all of the social media platforms.

Paula:  Wonderful. I will link up to all of those in the show notes.

Last and most joyfully, would you share three ways that you can think of to jump start joy in your life, in the world, or in other people’s lives?

Blake:  Coming back to meditation in the morning as number one. Just 10 minutes is all you need. There really is no excuse for not taking 10 minutes. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom and buy some earplugs – that’s a solution I go to, to get away – that’s worth it.

One thing that really helps me is when I pray for the people I love, when I get out of myself and I pray for my mother, and I pray for my sister, and I pray for my cousins and friends and other people. It expands your energy and you’re giving love, you’re sending good juju out into the world, which is really healthy for you and for the environment. I find that that creates so much space inside of me. You can’t have joy where there is no space, so you need that space inside of yourself. It’s kind of like a fire that gets suffocated because there’s no oxygen. You need space for that fire to breathe.

The thing I’ll prompt people with is I’d say the one thing that brings me the most joy is when I go and have a cup of coffee outside. For me, sitting in the sun, or sitting on a cool little street, having coffee, just thinking about whatever I want to think about, observing the world, that brings me so much joy, more than anything. I’ve been lucky to travel the world teaching, I’ve had wonderful experiences, met interesting people, but nothing actually brings me more joy than just sitting down and having a coffee outside somewhere.

It’s all about the little things. I would say to people don’t discount the little things. It’s the little things that make up a life that is full of joy. It’s not the big things, it’s not a grand mission, it’s not a grand purpose, it’s not making a lot of money, it’s not these big shiny things, the big house and the car. It’s not found in any of those things.

Paula:  Yes. I fully agree. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your insights. I’ve really enjoyed having you on. Thanks, Blake.

Blake:  Paula, thank you so much.

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