What's the best question you can ask to find your purpose?

 

Too often were so focused on getting what we want, that we overlook what's going to give us the greatest amount of fulfillment. 

In order to find your purpose in life, it's important to ask better questions. The best question to ask to find your purpose is how can I serve? In service we find a purposeful way to live that will fill our hearts and the hearts of others.

 

6 Lessons I learned From 2 Years Sober

I started drinking when I was 15 years old. In some fashion I lived life for the weekends until I was 25.

I befittingly went to one of the biggest party schools in the country where I drank 4-7 nights/days a week. After college I got a job, moved across the country and was living the postgrad party lifestyle in the ideal beach town of Pacific Beach, San Diego.

It was fun.

On the surface, it seemed pretty normal.

Two years ago, I made the decision I was going to stop drinking. It was a decision I never thought I could commit to let alone wanted. What was most shocking to me was how I came to make the choice. 

I didn’t make it after some drunken stupor of a night (although there were plenty in my past).

I didn’t decide after I was arrested and thrown in jail (I got the charges dropped).

And it didn’t happen after waking up unconscious in a hospital bed. (you get the drift)

While I’ve had many bottoms during my drinking days, my decision to stop came at a point in my life where alcohol was no longer an issue- at least not in comparison to how I used to drink. 

I made the decision to stop drinking simply because I finally realized it was holding me back. If I wanted to be the best version of myself, it was no longer something that I could choose to do.

It seemed like an insurmountable challenge at the time but I can say from this vantage point, it was the best decision I’ve made in my life.

So what happens when you stop drinking?

Your true friends come to the surface 

Life teaches us that friends come and go. We’re close with someone for a little and then things change- life happens. When I stopped drinking it was clear some friends I had that were more like associates while some were close, but just didn’t vibe with my new choices.

There were two types of friends I lost.

Party Friends- When you are together, a drink is in your hand, and you only engage with these people at a party. You find a sense of comfort in the familiar face, but don’t really share any decent conversation beyond that. These friends are the first to fall

Bro Friends- This is the most disappointing. They’re your good friends that you’ve known for a while but similar to your party friends, the best times you share together are getting drunk and losing yourself.

Unlike your party friends, you guys are tight. You live together, you laugh together, and you really like each other. It’s your bros. Your bros are pretty comfortable with you and how you used to be. Bros don’t like change.

When I stopped partying, I was spending less time with these types of friends because, well, they like to party. Many people didn’t understand my new revelation that alcohol was holding me back, and missed the party-go-lucky person I was.

What I’m so grateful for are the friends who stuck by me. The friends whose relationship was beyond what we were doing for the weekend. I started losing touch with my college friends and re-connected with some of my core friends I grew up with.

I was becoming a better person and the people who could see that stood by me. 

If you ever do something that is bettering YOU, and your friends have resistance, it might be time to question if that’s a friend you want in your life.

You are on a consistent upward trend

It’s Monday at work let’s say, day after the super bowl. You drank and ate unconsciously all day and now as you wait for the K-Cup in your office to fill, you’re feeling it. You feel like shit. You’re hoping you can get away with doing a little as possible so you can go home asap.

Now it’s Tuesday and you’re feeling a little better. You got to the gym, but your workout sucked. You couldn’t lift as much and couldn’t last as long. You thought you shook off the weekend but it’s still there.

Wednesday- Humpday. Alright, things are starting to straighten out. You have more motivation, your workout was great and you’re eating better. You feel like you straightened out the weekend and are now back in full force.

Thursday- it’s on. No question you’re feeling great. You’re in your stride and you can smell Friday coming. You’re excited, happy, and finally fully back!

Friday comes and goes in a flash. Time for the weekend again! Guess what you’re doing? That’s right. It’s time to party and celebrate this great feeling.

You drink Friday night away and now it’s Saturday. You wake up slightly hungover, but you don’t have work so you feel good. Time for brunch. Time to go and drink all day.

Now Sunday comes and you’d rather not drink but some of your friends talk you into it. Easily peer pressured, you’re in but you know you’re going to pay for it tomorrow. Nothing you’re not used to by now.

Sure enough Monday comes around and your back where you started- Hungover, lethargic, and wanting to crawl into a dark cave. It’s “worth it” you say. How else are you supposed to have fun?

You’re back on the routine, pulling yourself up during the week only to watch it come down on the weekend. I was on this track postgrad. The middle of the week gives you the false sense that you’re actually progressing towards something.

Unfortunately, if you look at this graph below, you’ll see you’re actually going nowhere.

Once I stopped drinking and no longer endured the weekend hangover, I could then use that time productively. I’d get up early on a Saturday, go for a run, read a book at a coffee shop and feel freaking amazing. Not to mention it would only be around 10 AM by this time. I had the whole day ahead of me.

When you feel good, good things happen. I no longer give up that feeling to the fleeting excitement of heavy drinking. I stay focused on the realness of life, not the unconscious. I am becoming the best version of myself a little more each day. I’m no longer suppressed by the physical and emotional repercussions of drinking. 

You forget what a hangover feels like

Get this, when you don’t have 10 beers, 7 shots and 3 cocktails before finally passing out at 3 AM, you actually feel good the next morning. I know, groundbreaking stuff here. But seriously, I haven’t felt hungover in 2 years- 2 years!

This is coming from a guy who used to nurse a hangover for a week. In college I would have the kind of hangovers were you can’t sleep because your body is going through alcohol withdrawals.

The best (or worst) hangovers come after you wake up still drunk, so it doesn’t feel like a hangover yet. So what do you do? You start drinking all day Saturday. You think you’ve outsmarted this hangover, but sure enough Sunday comes with a thumping vengeance.

Piercing headaches, weekends in beds, and days & brain cells lost are no longer a part of my life. I can’t say I miss them.  

Even towards the end of my drinking when I’d have 2 beers at night, I’d wake up and could feel it. It wasn’t a full blown hangover but there was a clarity of mind I lacked that I now really value.

Besides physical symptoms there is one thing that is lost during hangovers that’s way too precious and you can never get back- time.

I can think of a thousand more productive activities than sitting in bed all day nursing a hangover and watching re-runs of Bar Rescue.  

I understand the value of this limited resource and now have much more intention with my time. As Anne Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

You save a lot of money

How you spend your money (energy) will come back to you. What you invest in is an investment in the person you’re going to be.

I was spending all of my disposable income on alcohol, drugs (different blog post), clubs, and not to mention transportation to get everywhere.

I was not aware of how little importance I paid to saving my money, and choosing to spend it consciously. Instead, weekends would come and go to leave me mulling over the hundreds of dollars I wasted on getting wasted.

The sad truth is that at a point I thought that’s why I had a job in the first place. I needed to make the money so I could have a good time- they went hand in hand. It’s all I knew and what I was surrounded by, so it wasn’t ever a second thought.

Now the thought of spending $15 on a drink makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

You remember everything

“Do you remember what you said to me last night?”- Not at all.
“Do you remember taking your shirt off dancing?"- No sir.
“Do you remember buying 3 rounds of jager shots.”- Fuck.

How nonchalant we are with not remembering a thing someone said because we were drunk. Blacking out is so normal and I was at a point in my drinking where it only took a few drinks to really take down the power of what I could remember.

Forget about the good conversations you can’t remember. How about the bad/weird/inappropriate/aggressive stuff you did? While some of the things I’ve done are downright shameful, when you have no recollection of it, it just doesn’t sink in how it’s supposed to.

I like to think I’ve repaired some of those brain cells over the past 2 years of sobriety. My attention span has increased, and there is not a conversation I have that I’m not fully aware. I’ve regenerated my brain into the highly capable tool it’s blessing was meant to be used for.

Relationships are better

As a result of all these steps, the relationships I have in my life are real, wholesome and they involve meaningful conversation with a pursuit of higher ideals.

I’m very conscious of the people I surround myself with and the influences I let in my life because I know that my environment is shaping me. Who I surround myself with I’m becoming.

My relationship with my parents have gotten better as I no longer feel like I’m living a separate life which has to remain a secret. I can instead just be myself, and know that they will respect this self.

While the relationships are fewer with my long time friends, they are much stronger. I no longer have to put up barriers or ask myself “how can I look/do/be so this person will like me.” Instead I can enjoy being who I am and relate to people on a deeper level. Quality is truly better than quantity.

That’s why for the people I do let in, it’s automatically a relationship that’s deeper than most any of the relationships of my past. I’m attracting these relationships based on who I am now and they are people who tend to see things as I do. It’s become my new normal.

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If you would have told me 4 years ago I’d stop drinking and be talking about things like high ideals and meditation, I would have said you must be drunk. But change happens. Who we once were isn’t who we have to be. Who we are can and is meant to evolve.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your wine and movie night with your girlfriends. I’m not judging people for drinking alcohol at all.

All I’m saying is to know yourself. Know what’s serving you and know what’s holding you back.

For me it was alcohol. For you it may be food, toxic relationships, or a job that’s draining. Take inventory of everything you do in your life and ask if it serves you. Does it add positive or negative energy into your life? It’s only then can you view your life from a higher perspective and make choices to change what you see.

It’s taken me a while to get here, but I am finally proud of the fact that I don’t drink alcohol. I no longer miss it and I can see how my life has transformed since. I also know this is just the beginning.

I look forward to how far I can go.

If you think alcohol may be holding you back, feel free to reach out with a comment. I’d love to chat.

The Foreword of Find Your Truth

When I sent my book to the first person to read it besides my editor, I was sweating. To have new eyes on it was exciting but I was petrified of getting the first review. Not only that, it was from a man whose opinion I respect a great deal. That man is, Alasdair Plambeck.

Alasdair is someone I look up to as a writer and value deeply as a human. His philosophy on success, relationships and just about all of life’s biggest questions are well thought out and have made imprints in my own journey. That is why I asked him to write the foreword to Find Your Truth.

So when Alasdair responded the next day saying he read the book cover to cover and would agree to write the foreword, I was profoundly moved and honored.

Alasdair's been traveling the the world the past year going on solo expeditions and writing his heart out. 

Alasdair's been traveling the the world the past year going on solo expeditions and writing his heart out. 

If you'd like to get to know me more and understand what this book is about, please read this. 

Foreword of Find Your Truth by Alasdair Plambeck

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I met Lou in 2014 at one of the weekly Friday mastermind meetings he describes in this book. Through those weekly meetings we developed a fast friendship that carried on outside the boardroom and led to us running our first triathlon together. We have remained close friends ever since.

When I first met Lou, he was timid, quiet and seemed unsure of himself. It is only now that I can see what a pivotal moment in his life we had met at. Back then he was just beginning to take hold of the helm, but the stormy seas of self discovery still lay ahead. He was still lost and sailing on rough, open waters with no shore in sight. 

I don’t know that Lou anymore. The Lou I know now beams with the radiance of someone who has turned to face his own shadow and discovered an inner light beyond. Now he’s shining that light on the rocks that so nearly had him shipwrecked, to help guide others still at sea toward calmer waters. 

It wasn’t until reading Find Your Truth that I began to understand what the hell had happened over the last couple years to have sparked such an utter transformation. Had you received a once weekly update into Lou’s life during that time (as I had) you’d be excused for wondering at times if he'd lost his mind.

But it was the exact opposite. “I’ve really gone so sane, they think I’m insane” Lou writes, reflecting on a hilarious encounter when six policemen turn up on his doorstep uninvited after his impromptu job resignation letter was misinterpreted by coworkers as a suicide note.

Call it courage, faith, intuition or more likely all three —it's no small credit to Kelly for standing unwaveringly by Lou’s side from the beginning.

Lou’s story is intense, raw and real. My hands sweated and my heart raced as I retraced his tumultuous voyage through the dark troughs of mindless drug addiction and the swirling eddies of emotional turmoil it spawned, to the lofty and solitary peaks of personal revelation: he holds absolutely nothing back. It’s a modern day story of recognizing the shadows on the wall, throwing off the shackles of self-bondage and walking out of the cave and into the light. And he wants to show how you can do the same.

While our stories may be different, we can all find parts of ourselves in Lou’s story. Suffering is one of the basic elements of human experience that we all share —it connects and unifies us. We are all in this together. In our own ways, we all must face the precarious situation of only being “a head nod and ten dollars away from the thrill of the pill” that Lou so jarringly describes. 

What you have in your hands is a brave and incredibly intimate story of self-transformation. Lou has taken great pains in these pages to share a practical set of lessons distilled from his experience that anyone can apply to spark positive change in their own life. And through sharing his own story Lou leaves us with one last lesson: that we all have our own unique story worth sharing.      

There is a meditation practice in Buddhist teachings called Tong-len in which one is instructed to breathe in one's own suffering or the suffering of others and breathe out love and compassion to all those still suffering. It is from reflecting on our suffering, says the Dalai Lama, that we "develop greater resolve to put an end to the causes of suffering and the unwholesome actions and deeds which lead to suffering” and that we "increase [our] enthusiasm for engaging in the wholesome actions and deeds which lead to happiness and joy.”

As I read Find Your Truth I couldn't help but see this as Lou’s own version of the practice of Tong-len.

He’s taken a deep breath in.

But his out breath is even greater.

Alasdair Plambeck
Writer at AlasdairPlambeck.com

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If you want to read more get the first chapter sent to you for free. You can also now buy the book on Amazon.

My Values & Why They are Important

There are endless frameworks and how-to articles on how to live a better life. I’ve read, studied and practiced many of them.

Above all the guff on the topic there is one framework I can feel most when I drift off it’s course. That being the conscious effort to define my values and choose to live in line with them.

My values are what's most important to me. They are the person I want to be and the way I want to feel.

I find that when I start living outside of my values I’m more anxious, I get depressed, and I feel like I’m running on the rabbit wheel which I found so enlivening to get off of.

This downward spiral can happen out of nowhere, and if I’m not aware of it, it will lead to much suffering.

That’s when I take a look at my values and ask:

“Am I doing things that represent these values and bring them more into my life?”

Often I see the answer is no- I’ve stopped making them a priority and replaced them with values that aren’t giving me the peace and fulfillment that is our birth right.

These 6 values are the pillars that hold up my house of life. If one weakens, I feel my foundation start to shake. I’m sharing these with you in hopes they spark a conversation with yourself about your own.

Presence

If I’m not present, I can’t see the magic of life that’s happening around me. My awareness can’t pick up on the subtle energies of my body: the ones that urge you to start that conversation at a coffee shop because he or she looks like an interesting person.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve connected with simply because I took a moment to get out of my head and be present enough to open up to my surroundings.

I believe the people you rendezvous with are put in your life for a reason, but if you’re not present you’ll miss them.

Presence is an important component of a stress-less life. Our minds are running constantly with anxieties and worries about future events, most of which never happen.

Cultivating a mindful state helps us stay in the moment, appreciate the beauty of the now, and fully engage in what we’re doing. We allow ourselves to get in more flow states, which is really what leads to day-by-day happiness.

Neurotic thought brings anxiety about a life that hasn’t happened.

Presence brings enjoyment of the life you are actually experiencing.

Gratitude

I am grateful for…

There is no point in my day that I can’t say those four words and not finish the sentence. There is always something to be grateful for and a positive to focus on rather than its opposite.

When I’m not living in gratitude, I’m falling asleep at the wheel. When I get upset over silly things like someone stepping in front of me in line, I let the darkside win.

Focusing on what I don’t have always leaves me in despair, and I always get more of what I don’t have.

When I shift focus on the good things, and when I can become grateful for the bad because of what I've learned- then I am riding the good wave of life.

Wisdom

“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What started me on a path of personal growth was feeding my mind with books that brought new knowledge, ideas and continued inspiration.  

There are many great thinkers that have come before me, and there is a finite amount of time left to take in as much wisdom as I can.

Reading books, listening to podcasts, and learning new skills sharpens my psyche. It’s like going to the mind gym.

While bringing wisdom in is important to me, it is more than just an outer game.

I know that wisdom of self will guide me further than any book. I know the answers are inside me as they are you.

Taking time in solitude to sit with myself and see what the guidance is telling me is a morning ritual. I find meditation and contemplation to actually be my favorite practices.

Wisdom of self also includes understanding the types of people you want to be around. Knowing who will bring me down and who will bring me energy is important if I want to live my best life.

Health

While it may be beneficial to stay on my computer working another few hours, it’s not in line with my values.

When I am doing yoga at least 5 times a week and eating whole foods, everything I do feels better. 

I have a crazy belief that were actually supposed to feel good all the time. Suffering now to feel good later is backwards thinking.

Health, wealth, and happiness happen by making it important  now and taking actions that prove it. It’s a no brainer, a non-negotiable, and something I have so much fun doing.  

Love

Love feeds me. Love is me. Love is what I want to express as much as I can with my time here. Love is the miracle, love is the start, love is the finish. If I lose track of my love, I lose track of who I am. If I am living in love, I can feel- with every inch of my soul- the emotional beauty that radiates throughout all.

I’m someone who can cry on a dime and I believe that is because I make it a value to live with love. To show love, to give love to more than just loved ones.

It’s the greatest emotion yet I see so many people shy away from it, not comfortable talking about their feelings.

I’m a better man when I can love more and feel more deeply. I’m a better partner, I’m a better friend, and oh those successes? They come tenfold, and they feel that much better.

When my heart is closed, I don’t want to connect with others. It feels like I’m lonely in social situations and I just want to leave. It’s the farthest thing from the truth I want to live.

Inspiration/Excitement

When my 5 values are aligned, the natural by-product is more inspiration. Inspiration is the gift of my higher self which gives me the ideas, creativity, and will to act on the insights that excite me most.

This is the true joy of living.

There is no excitement that compares to being tapped into my purpose. I feel like things fall into place and life moves in a seamless dance. The people I need seem to show up in my life, and I lose sight of all those negative people who bring me down.

I literally feel like I’m living in a dream world. This is what I’m passionate about and why I’ve decided to pursue this path.

It is what I want so deeply for you.

So what are your values?

Who is the person you want to show up as?

If you don’t know, I implore you to take 30 minutes of your day to sit and think about them. They don’t have to be concrete and they can evolve and change.

What’s crucial is you understand what’s actually important to you.

When you have that figured out, you will be able to see where the disconnects are in your life.

If you value nature but live a life that cripples your ability to be outside, you will feel that. If you value creativity but work a logically minded job and don’t pursue creative hobbies, you’ll sense something missing.

Learn to live in line with your values and life will start living in line with you. 

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I’d love to hear what values you live by so feel free to comment or reach out to me to start the conversation.