On the outside, it looked like I was living the dream.
But on the inside, I was falling apart.
4 months ago, in the midst of building 2 businesses, prepping my first TEDx talk, and working on countless other projects… I started to break down.
Things were going too fast: I felt like I was running around all day, trying to keep 300 balls in the air.
Overwhelmed by it all, I started waking up every morning with a ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
I was transforming from a highly motivated yet laid-back dude into a stressed out, paranoid and anxious shell of man.
While at first sight it looked like I was on the fast-track to massive success… the truth was that I was driving 100mph on the highway to self-destruction.
Fearing for my emotional and mental wellbeing, I decided to temporarily pull the plug. And to buy a planet ticket to Peru.
I gave myself the gift of 1 month away from my everyday life.
1 month to breath, reflect… and figure what the hell was happening to me.
As I’m writing these lines, I’ve just returned from my South America escapade, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way things unfolded.
Hitting “pause” to go away and explore foreign lands was not only deeply pleasurable, it was also the best thing I could have done for myself.
And of course, I’m not the only one who would benefit from taking a trip like this. By the end of this article, you might make a decision that will shift the trajectory of your life.
Why? I’ll get to this in a second.
But first, let me ask you a question…
Why do we travel?
Why do we spend thousands of dollars to abandon the comfort of home, and instead choose to put ourselves in unpredictable (and sometimes bizarre) situations?
Why do YOU travel?
Is the appeal of the exotic beauty of faraway lands?
The mystery of cultures so radically different from ours?
Or is it the sex appeal of adventure-filled nights with travelers from all over the globe?
Generally, it’s a bit of each. But I think there’s a deeper reason why we travel.
We often say that travelling helps us find ourselves. Discover who we truly are.
I believe that’s slightly misconstrued.
We don’t travel to discover who we are.
We travel to remember who we really are…
…underneath all of the social conditioning: everything we’ve been taught to believe by society, the education system, and our parents. What is right or wrong, cool or not, respectable or despicable, etc.
… underneath the self-identity we’ve come to believe in: the story we tell ourselves, and others, about who we are. The constant self-talk that runs of inner show, minute after minute, day after day.
… and underneath all of the layers of emotional baggage we’ve accumulated since we were kids: the traumatic episodes, the dreams that didn’t come true, the betrayals, the break-ups, the embarrassing moments, etc.
We might not realize it, but the amount of crap that’s piled up on our inner hard drive is simply mind-boggling.
But when we get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, something magical happens: the dust settles, we start to see things more clearly.
We can finally see through the illusions and limiting beliefs that subconsciously run our life…
“I need to keep doing this soul-sucking job to ‘build up my resume’.”
“If I do this thing or dress this way, others will like me more.”
“Success means having a lot of money and power.”
And get clear on what actually matters to us…
“I really want to become a more loving and compassionate person.”
“I’m willing to take risks and do what it takes to make my dreams come true.”
“There’s a lot of problems in the world but I have the power to make a difference.”
While on the road, we have time to read stimulating books, to think deeply about life (and reconsider some of our previous assumptions), and to discuss at lengths with people who see things differently from us.
And through all this, we remember.
We remember what we actually care about.
We remember what we don’t give a shit about.
We remember what makes us come alive.
I use the word ‘remember’ because in a way, we’ve known all along.
Let me ask you this: what did you care about when you were 5 years old?
Chances are, all you wanted was to love and be loved, understand life more deeply, and to have as much fun as you could.
Are things really that different today? Isn’t that what life is still all about?
“Well, sure Phil, but I have responsibilities now. It’s not that simple.”
Is it really? Or is that a story you’ve been fed by the ‘grown-ups’?
Of course, this flies in the face of what you’ve be told most of our life.
“Be serious and work hard now, so you can enjoy life later.”
“It’s ‘work’, it’s not supposed to be fun.”
“Watch out for others, they’re out to get you.”
For years, we’ve been getting brainwashed by people who were brainwashed by those who came before them. The cycle continues.
Why should we be having all the fun when they’re miserable in their life?
As we started to believe all misguided platitudes, we forgot the essence of life.
And it’s our responsibility to remember. That’s why we travel.
While I was Peru, I was able to see precisely why I worked to excess and burned myself out – I believed the old adage that “sacrifice is the price of victory”… that they only way to achieve great results is to suffer in the process.
Through a daily regimen of meditation, reading, journaling and reflecting… I deciphered the mental software that were leading my whole inner system astray.
And with the help of 2 exceptional plant medicines, Ayahuasca and San Pedro, I was able to dig under the surface, and clean up much of the accumulated junk floating around my subconscious mind.
And now I see clearly again.
Who I am. What I stand for. What matters to me.
And I feel serene, peaceful and optimistic again.
Being happy and successful is a heck of a lot easier when we actually remember what truly matters to us. Without it, it’s like trying to shoot an arrow… in the dark.
So, what does this all mean for you?
Well, if right now you feel confused about life, frustrated about the state of affairs, or just know deep down that something isn’t quite right…
It doesn’t mean that there’s something inherently wrong with you.
It probably means that you’ve forgotten. That too much crap has piled on your inner hard drive, and that your soul’s desires have been buried.
Now, it’s time to remember.
If you don’t, you’ll keep spinning your wheels, and no amounts of hard work, alcohol or depressive thoughts will set you straight.
My suggestion? Right now (yes, right now, while you’re feeling inspired), book a ‘get away’ for yourself.
It can be 3-month trip somewhere far and exotic, or simply a weekend road trip nearby.
But it has to be away from your home.
So you can get perspective, so you can see through the illusions.
Since you’re reading this blog, I know you want to stay wild.
But the reality is that as long as you’re in contact with Western society, some degree of taming will always occur.
It’s your duty to reconnect with your wild side.
Not just by reading blogs and thinking about it, but by actually getting out there and doing this.
Because I’m sure the person you’ll find underneath the noise, underneath the bullshit…
Is indeed quite wild and beautiful.