Leo Babauta is a writer from Guam, who was once deeply in debt, overweight, and a smoker. Within a few short years, he completely eliminated his debt, lost 65 pounds, quit smoking and started Zen Habits which was named Top 25 Blogs by Time Magazine (twice!).
Today, more than 200K subscribers read Leo’s work on Zen Habits where he discusses in greater detail many of the topics we cover in this episode.
We speak about a wide range of topics from overcoming bad habits and urges, to practicing non judgmentalness. Each of the topics we discuss have made a positive impact in Leo’s life and he shares these lessons brilliantly throughout our conversation.
Learn how to let go and even embrace discomfort, strangeness, and resistance through this conversation with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
I, Matt Wilson, was officially homeless.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica July 2012
My apartment in New York was packed up, my stuff was thrown out, donated, or put in various friend’s attics. I was free.
I had nothing but my Marmot climbing pack on my back. Minimalism had been achieved.
Now it was time to see some shit.
My plane landed in the eco-capital of the world-- Costa Rica, where 5% of all the world’s biodiversity lives.
Did I break out my bucket hat and birdwatching pants and head into the jungle?
Nope, I went to the most gringo town Costa Rica has to offer and took up surfing.
Goal #1: Learn a new skill
While I wasn’t exactly on an eco-lodge in the jungle growing my own food, hear me out… Tamarindo’s mix of surfing, partying, and people patient enough to listen to my broken Spanish was just what I needed.
Little did I know, surfing would actually be a great way to get in touch with nature and even develop a little more understanding of the zen philosophy I had been studying.
If you are looking to get rid of bad habits, or negative patterns in your life, finding a new hobby or a new skill is a great way to focus your efforts in a new direction. It’s why they give alcoholics the same advice when they put down the bottle; they are in need of a new best friend.
Speaking of new friends, developing new skills are a great way to meet people who you actually have something in common with. And yes, this works for romantic encounters as well. Surfing never worked out for me (it’s all dudes), but yoga has been a great decision (it’s all chicks). Figure out what you are into and get involved in a community of like-minded people.
Goal #2: Do something physically challenging
Travel has a magical way to pull you into the present moment as your senses are immediately overwhelmed with new sights, sounds, smells, etc… surfing, and any extreme sport for that matter, can do the same.
I love strenuous physical activities because when you do things that are physically and mentally exhausting like climbing Dead Woman’s Pass or Rainbow Mountain at high altitudes in Peru, there’s no chance your mind is wandering.
Some days the waves were so big I could barely even paddle out. By the time I even got out there was I was too fatigued to try and catch a wave. This is the place where you really start learning to be present; when you are questioning your life choices.
When a huge wave is about to crush you, you aren’t thinking about your inbox or to-do list.
If you are interested in this subject, I recommend the book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.
Goal #3: Do Something Mentally Challenging
The waves in Tamarindo can be fucking huge.
Intimidated or not, I had no choice but to paddle out into the lineup, learn the rules of the road, and try to catch my share of waves amongst the overly-aggressive locals. Learning a new skill, and one that can be extremely dangerous, was the perfect way to get myself out of my comfort zone and shock my system. I was literally developing new neural pathways by learning to do new things with my body.
Everyone says do something that scares you. It sounds cliche, but when I see people who are afraid of heights do things like zip-line in Costa Rica, or go paragliding in Lima, people have breakthroughs. If you can jump out of a plane, you can also quit your job, end that toxic relationship, or start that business you’ve been hesitating to do.
Exercise your courage muscle!!
Goal #4: Do Something in Conjunction with the Planet
Most of us are just so damn disconnected these days. It’s said that if you live in Hong Kong, you can go the entire year without actually touching your bare feet to the ground. We now live in not-so-healthy, climate-controlled environments, where it’s possible never to get sunshine, fresh air, or water that is truly clean as I described in my previous post on nature. Get yourself in the water and immediately you are getting exercise, absorbing nutrients from the salt water, producing Vitamin D by getting in the sun, and taking in beneficial ions and electrons from the sea. The health benefits are immense.
You don’t have to go surfing, you can pick something else as your gateway to nature, but for me, it’s pretty cool when you start to think about waves and tides…
You literally sit out there and wait for the earth to move, so you can ride it. Talk about being in conjunction with the planet.
And to think the tides are dramatically affected by the moon...That’s some interstellar shit right there.
Even when I paddle out and don’t catch a single wave, the meditative effect of watching wave after wave come in rhythmically while listening to the sound of the ocean, puts me into a good mood for hours after I get out of the water.
Find something that helps you go with the flow. You won’t regret it.
Joe Knoernschild is the co-founder of multi-national apparel giants Hurley and Billabong. He started the companies when he was just 26 years old and on the episode we chat about his love for surfing and adventure. We quickly learn that both surfing and adventure run deep in his DNA.
Joe walks us through his story about how he went from making and selling surfboards, to making millions in sales, and eventually teaming up with Nike.
An important lesson Joe leaves us with is the importance of thinking globally but acting locally.
Join us on this episode where we discuss the connection between surfing and spirituality, travel stories from around the world, and much more.
“Matt Wilson, you want energy before Mountain Hut?” Siggi said to me in his thick Icelandic accent.
Hvolsvollur, Iceland March 2012
“Sure Siggi,” I said. “I’m pretty hungry.”
Siggi dug into his mom’s refrigerator and pulled out a heaping plate of leftovers. Mashed potatoes, gravy, and a tender red meat I’d never had before…
“Siggi, this is delicious, what is this?” I asked.
He glanced down at my plate to make sure I was done…
“It’s horse, of course!” he said with a chuckle…
Welcome to Iceland
We were on our way to Siggi’s Mountain Hut deep in the interior of Iceland. I wish I could describe this place, but it’s hard to put it to words.
Most people say Iceland looks like the surface of the moon. Black lava rocks, dense rolling fog coming in off the North Atlantic, and permanently ominous skies. Just driving down the road, you’ll find waterfall after waterfall coming off the fjords. Dive deeper into the interior and you’ll find hidden canyons and geothermal steam rising from the ground. All of this, painted on a backdrop of volcanic glaciers waiting to erupt.
Siggi and I loaded up his Superjeep and took off down a dirt road. I know Superjeeps aren’t the most eco-friendly thing in the world, but if you are on the Icelandic Rescue Team like Siggi is, they seem pretty necessary for getting to the top of glaciers and volcanoes.
Siggi is all about tradition. He loves to tell stories of Icelandic Sagas that happened literally in his backyard. His favorite is about Gunnar Hamundarson who lived in the 10th century and could jump his own body length in full armor, back to front. Icelanders also believe in elves and trolls Siggi tells me.
Up we climbed to the top of Hekla volcano. It was getting late, but it didn’t seem to matter to Siggi. He’d been to the top of this snow capped glacier more times than he could count. Somehow I was supposed to be reassured knowing that it hadn’t erupted since 2000. If molten lava did start busting through the icecap causing massive floods that would destroy the valley below us in mere minutes, there was nobody that I’d have more confidence in getting us out alive than Siggi.
It was almost 11pm now, and we were getting to the top. Siggi pulled out his favorite Chivas Regal whiskey and two cigars to celebrate as he does atop every mountain he summits. Looking out at Eykjavikfokull in the distance, time seemed to stop. That sunset was a game changer for me.
Under30Experiences was born.
“Damn, I need to do more of this,” I started telling Siggi.
Sunsets, hiking, and the great outdoors were what I was raised on… how the hell did I get so disconnected? How did I become so caught up in a superficial world?
“Why do Americans work so much?” Siggi came back with. “That’s not all there is to life.”
Where am I supposed to go with this article now? If you aren’t sold by the romanticism of the above, I should probably give up.
When it comes to designing the life you want, there needs to be a balance. Yes, I understand technology keeps us connected around the clock, but seriously, put that shit away sometimes.
Maybe you are allergic to nature. (Read the hygiene hypothesis.) Maybe you don’t like to get dirty as one of my biggest diva friends once told me. If so, start small. Find a little green space somewhere in your crowded city and try your best to enjoy it. Get some sun on your face, take off your shoes and put your feet directly on the ground. I promise you there are major health benefits like Vitamin D and grounding that I’ll get into in future posts.
This series is about what worked for me in my personal evolution and how you can find your own path. The answers to my stressors are not going to be the same as yours. I might have needed a dramatic shock like climbing active volcanoes in Iceland to get me out of my rut. You might need something else.
Whatever you do, I urge you to get out of your comfort zone. It sounds cliche, but do something that scares you, even if it’s something as small as attending one of our meetups where you don’t know anyone. Maybe signing up for a $645 trip to Costa Rica is out of reach for you right now and that’s okay too.
At the end of the day, evolving as a modern human often means going back to the roots of our ancient ancestors before Instagram Addiction was a thing. Find some silence, fresh air, clean water, and natural beauty around you. I promise it will open you up to the natural beauty within yourself.
Luz Garcia is a 1,500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher with 14 years of yoga studies that have consisted of Yoga Works Method, Vinyasa Flow, Yoga Shala Method, Restorative, and Prenatal.
Luz is driven by the philosophy that we are students forever and we need to continue learning every day. This philosophy has fueled her to perfect her craft.
Luz battled against depression and anxiety when she was younger. Through yoga she was able to heal and better understand herself. She literally credits yoga as being a lifesaver for her.
We nerd out about everything yoga, walk through the basics, as well as dive into the more advanced concepts.
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi, or just thinking about getting started, this episode will help you recognize how practice on the mat can translate over to real life situations.
Finally, we speak about how combining travel and yoga will help you discover a transformative superpower to conquer fear and resistance.
Iceland March 2012: Becoming a Digital Nomad
“Velkomin á Íslandi” I heard as I pried my eyes open getting off the red eye flight.
Beautiful blonde Icelandic women with farm working physiques bullied their way gracefully to the overhead compartment.
My mountain guide met me at the terminal. “Hello I am Siggurdur Bjarni Svienson.” (spelling) he said with a long pause. “But you can call me Siggi he said, with a slight sense of dry Icelandic humor.”
The sun was barely up. A thick mist of dense clouds rolled in from the North Atlantic. The ground was black, covered with sharp lava rock. Not a tree in sight.
Where the fuck am I? I wondered.
I started to feel bad that humans even attempted to live here.
We wound our way down the Icelandic coastline to the capital city of Reykjavik where 230,000 of the 330,000 inhabitants of this bleak terrain decided to call home.
Siggi dropped me at my hostel and said he’d return that evening.
I was on my own.
Becoming a Digital Nomad
What was the first thing I did on my trip to Iceland that Sunday morning at 8 am?
I shit you not.
I was addicted.
This is incredibly embarrassing thinking back at it. Do you know how many people in that inbox truly did not matter?
At the time my Co-founder Jared O’Toole and I were running a successful media site for young entrepreneurs called Under30CEO.com. It was near the peak of our traffic numbers, at over 500,000 unique visitors per month… we had boatloads of fans from India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and of course all over the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
God, we thought we were important.
Note: if you want to see hilarious pictures of Jared and I on jumbotrons in Time Square, ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ, or being invited to yap about the importance of small business on Fox Business, take a look at the article announcing that Under30CEO was acquired.
How to Travel the World and Never Really Have a Chance to Enjoy It
Okay, I’m joking. But not really.
Everyone wants to be a digital nomad these days… but not so long ago, co-working spaces like WeWork were not a thing, hostels didn’t have conference rooms, and you could’ve actually found a seat at a coffee shop in Austin, Texas.
The reality is, being a digital nomad is fucking awesome. It’s why it seems that all the cool kids are doing it.
And therein, lies the problem: the cool kids.
Yup, I am sad to say I was one of them.
Addicted to email. Caffeine. And worst of all, stress.
The rest of this post is going to be devoted to strategies on…
How to break free from your desk, travel the world, and not stress yourself out
I’ll be honest, when I hear someone describe themselves a “digital nomad” I usually cringe. Call me a seasoned gringo, but the “cool kids club” is exactly why I packed up and left New York. I’m not trying to hang out with a bunch of stressed out people talking about marketing, complaining about the wifi here in Costa Rica.
If you really want to enjoy the “pura vida” as we say, you’ll first have to get a handle on your travel schedule. The first rule of thumb is don’t overdo it.
In upcoming posts, you’ll hear me talk about how stressed out I was my first time to Bali, traveling around the island until I found a Starbucks because I had to hit a deadline. Backpacking and hitting deadlines really doesn’t work. You shouldn’t try to travel South America while taking on new web design projects. You need to find somewhere you like and develop a routine so you can be in a higher state of flow, complete you work, and then go have fun.
Choose your City
As a general rule, cities have better wifi than rural locations. This is bad news for me, as I prefer mountain hideaways and surf towns. These places also have worse 3G and 4G cell service, which you’ll need as backup when the wifi goes down. If you want some cities that are close to natural wonders, think Medellin, Colombia, or Chiang Mai, Thailand. Nomad List is an incredible resource for comparing cost of living and intel on how good the wifi is.
Choose your Dwelling
This for me is one of the most fun parts of living in places where the dollar goes far. I’ve lived in $300/month local spots in Costa Rica to massive villas with a pool and security. My current setup is a private four bedroom house in the jungle, and luckily for me, the lower level has a private entrance which I can Airbnb when I want. During tourist season I can easily pay my rent with the money earned on Airbnb and when friends, family, or business associates come to visit, they have plenty of space.
Costa Rica is far from cheap however. Friends who live in Thailand or Bali can afford places that are absolutely palatial.
I realize now that I’m making joining the digital nomad “cool kids club” sound a little too easy. I want you to know that it’s often a pain in the ass to find places to live as a digital nomad. Remember, in the developing world, a quick google search for “apartamentos Costa Rica” won’t help much.
Some quick tips:
Pay Attention to Quality of Life
If your job is to work from a computer you need to think about how you can best get into flow state without the interruptions. Remember-- you want to get your work done and then go explore, and get to know a place. You won’t want to stay in a hostel for very long as they usually aren’t conducive to work. There are exceptions like Selina’s across Panama, Colombia, and Costa Rica that offer built in co-working spaces.
When I did a stint in Barcelona, I found a place with a kitchen, connected to a gym, down the street from a great grocery store, with great internet, and lots of cafe’s with wifi nearby just in case I needed a backup place to work. These are the things that make me productive.
Other things that digital nomads’ love that are usually affordable and make them more productive include maid service, access to transportation and again, co-working. In Paris I lived a block from the metro and could walk to one of their Anti-cafe concepts where I paid by the hour for co-working.
The longer you stay in a place, the better you will understand where to get the best internet connection. Here in Costa Rica, I struggled with the wifi for years until I got it figured out. Once I discovered that I could have a 4G Personal Hotspot through my cell phone service with Movistar my life changed. When the wifi is down, I simply put on my hotspot.
Since I’ve been living here for a while, I know to immediately call a technician when the wifi is down. It helps I’m fluent in Spanish now. Me trying to get the wifi working in French put me back down to tourist status.
I even have friends who have two internet service providers at their house in Costa Rica just in case one goes down. Make friends with the wait staff at your favorite cafes so they will reset the router for you. Select a workspace next door to a restaurant with good wifi. The Under30Experiences Costa Rica Office always has a backup… thank you Sancho’s!
When selecting a place to set up shop, check out Nomad List’s internet rankings before you go, and once you get to a place use Speedtest.net to see at how many MBPS you are working with. For a general workday including Skype audio calls and podcast recordings 5-10 MBPS works fine for me.
Bring on the Fun
At the end of the day it all comes down to designing the life you want. I know it’s tempting to try to try and see the entire worldl, but you’ll need to get the backpacking and moving around out of your system until you are exhausted. Then, go back to a place you really loved and spend more time there. My initial strategy of traveling every five days was disastrous. I worked Monday - Friday, packed up, and then traveled to my next destination over the weekend. This led me to quick burnout as I describe in this throwback “Confessions of a 26 year old Entrepreneur.”
Finally, I went back to the place that had the most to offer me. I wanted to learn Spanish, surf, practice yoga, and live in nature. Select a place that’s right for you during this point in your life. Realize that life on the road is lonely, so settling into a place will help you make connections and become part of a community. I happen to love small town life, where I know everyone at my local bar. Other people can’t stand it.
Choose what’s right for you and make sure you find yourself in a place where you can continue to learn and grow as a human.
That’s the point of travel.
Diana Stobo is the award-winning author of the healthy lifestyle book Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods that Weigh You Down to Lose Weight Fast. The book serves as a guide that Diana wrote from her own personal experience healing herself from illness, losing 100+ pounds, and changing her life.
Diana is an expert on Naked Nourishment and juicing. She is also living proof that a healthy diet can help you lose weight, gain energy, heal your body, and help you to look and feel younger and more vibrant.
In this episode she walks us through the ups and downs in her health and wellness journey and how you can apply the lessons she’s learned into your own life. Diana opens up about some health scares in her personal life and how she was able to overcome each of them through diet changes.
Diana doesn’t support dogmatic diets, but has always been a proponent of experimenting and listening to your body to understand what to avoid. She talk about diets in terms of “knowing the no’s” not “no-no’s”.
This episode will share how to get started taking positive steps towards eliminating toxic foods from your life. We discuss the role coffee, proteins, and even tequila can play in your diet as long as you’re not abusing it.
Quotes from the Episode
“The only time your body works against you is when you go against what your body is asking for”
“When you eliminate the foods that are causing your body inflammation, you automatically start the process of healing”
“60% of what you put on your body is absorbed”
“Your body is the only thing that will give you the information you need”
“Everything begins from the gut, 85% of all disease begins from the gut”
“Your personality, mental health, hormones, are all connected to what you put in your body.”
“What you don’t put in your body is just as important as what you do put in your body, eliminate the foods that weigh you down, and fill it with good plant based food.”