The Pleasure of Staying At Home

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How’s your headspace? Approximately 400 years ago, French Philosopher, Blaise Pascal, probably said, “Je m’appelle, Blaise.” But also, he wrote his now-famous line, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” It’s a powerful line except for one thing. It’s not very middle agey. Or French. In fact, it reeks of modernity and memes. So, this morning, I sat alone quietly in my room and tracked down the primary source – aka, Pensees. Pascal’s book. I read through until bam, I found it. Section 139. Here’s the original line… ( I could have googled the original line but I felt that would be missing the point 😄)

“When I have occasionally set myself to consider the different distractions of men, the pains and perils to which they expose themselves at court or in war, whence arise so many quarrels, passions, bold and often bad ventures, etc., I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber. A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to stay with pleasure at home, would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town.”

Ok sure, one could argue that our modern version nutshells this wordier one. But one could also argue that in the nut shelling process, much of the original meaning becomes lost and we end up missing the greater truth. While I could write an essay on this passage, blogs are made for nutshelling, so I’ll be brief. The phrase that struck me was, “they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” On a macro level, 2020 has been a year where humanity has been asked to stay in our chamber and yet we’ve resisted. Many have outright refused. And at press time, our dis-ease has never been worse. We literally can’t STAY to save our lives.

But on a micro-level and probably closer to Pascal’s original meaning, we find it exceedingly difficult to stay quietly in our chamber at all. How many of us even have a private room? A safe space where we can go and be with ourselves. If we did, would we know what to do when we got there? Would the quiet terrify us? Would our thoughts overwhelm us? Would we reach for our phone again?

For the past three months, I have been practicing the art of staying quietly in my own chamber. Every morning, while it is still dark and the world has yet to wake up, I put on my cozy socks, head out to my private space and after slipping on my headphones I engage in a meditation session hosted by Headspace. For fifteen minutes, I focus on my breath, the rhythm of my heartbeat, and let’s be honest, food, fun, podcasting, sports, work, laughing monkeys and a million other things that my brain pops up in its effort to regain control. When I first started the practice, I’d play Whack A Thought. As it turns out, that is NOT the purpose of meditation. The goal is to become even more present to thought. The more present I have become the more I’ve been able to tap into my unconscious thoughts – those truths/habits that remain hidden and only come out when I’m triggered. After 90 straight days of this practice, the result is I have just begun to sometimes catch myself. 🙂 Instead of living life asleep and going through the motions, I now see the dream and shake myself awake. The result has been more joy, little to no anxiety, and a sense of a life that is being well-lived.

Pascal’s right. There can be much pleasure when we stay at home.


The Sky Is Blue

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You wake up. It’s 4am. Why can’t you ever sleep in? You reach for your phone and swipe.

  • COVID cases continue to skyrocket in BC
  • Masks now mandatory at your favorite shopping center
  • Smokey skies expected through Monday
  • Trump Trump Trump Trump
  • CERB set to end October 3
  • Only 5 people liked my last post
  • 2020 has been a literal nightmare!!!!
  • My anxiety is worse than ever
  • I think I might be depressed
  • Why do I always feel like shit, you wonder, as you continue to scroll…

I get it. We’re living in dark times. I used to miss the blue sky too.

Until I realized…the sky is blue.

It’s always been blue.

It’s blue right now!

And clouds and smoke and Trump don’t mean shit. Like Breaking News, they blow in and blow out and no matter how dark they make things feel, the blue sky remains – above us and within us.

We can curse the clouds and choke on the smoke or we can soar above them to clearer days and bluer skies.

Come fly with me.

Lesson From Horseflies

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The first wave was modest, but unexpected as a blizzard in the Atacama Desert.  Enormous, jet black and staggeringly persistent.  Their ominous shadows were the first sign of approach, quickly followed by a loud whhhhrrrrrr.  After the first few encounters, the only means of evasion, we found, was to hit the ground and take shelter against a boulder.  

Day after day, we were under attack.  Our enemy:  the Patagonian horsefly.  These ravenous, bloodthirsty beasts came in bunches and their mission was clear.  Their excruciating bite was noted even by Charles Darwin on his voyages of The Beagle.  Why did evolution ever bring these beasts into existence?  As it turns out, they only turn up for about three weeks every summer.  Of course, it was right in the dark heart of our adventures in Southern Chile.  

Despite their nearly omnipresent schedule (much unlike Chilean businesses, they’re reliably open for business 9am-9pm every day) and extreme irritation, there were a few things to be learned from these meddling menaces.  

Stillness is Essential – While engaging in a glorious early morning yoga session overlooking Caleta Condor (see below, one of the most stunning beaches in South America), I was nearly ignored by the horseflies.  While it wasn’t complete invulnerability to their attacks – more on that later – it was progress.  While one passing bug was brushed aside, the slow and deliberate movements attracted no other uninvited guests.  This marked a stark contrast to previous displays of Jackie Chan-ing the pests with jabs, kicks, and flings of any nearby blunt object.  With one particularly memorable karate-chop, I knocked over two water bottles while completely whiffing on the enemy.  The lesson here was that calm always outweighs spastic.  Slowing down and acting with deliberation gets tasks accomplished while generally avoiding collateral damage.  RIP, water bottles.

Mindset Controls Experience – At one point, during the first day at Caleta Condor, I said “if these f*ckers weren’t around, this place would be paradise”.  Later on, I took an issue with my approach.  Caleta Condor IS paradise.  A spectacular crescent moon beach with hot, but not stifling, weather, surrounded by lush Valdivian rainforest, and only accessible by boat (horsefly air travel notwithstanding).  If that isn’t paradise, it doesn’t exist.  Fair enough, the horseflies were bad – the size of a plump raspberry and shockingly tenacious.  Due to the remoteness, there were few other beachgoers there; however, each of them could be observed swatting away continuously.  But seriously, letting some insects ruin this majestic, secluded piece of heaven would be tragic.  The difference-maker, of course, is mindset.  Things happen, obstacles always find their way into our lives and stand between us and fulfillment.  How we relate and respond, that’s 100% our choice.  Letting pests affect our mental state is completely within our control.  Do we want to let the dogged little buggers win?  No, and they won’t, especially when we seize control of our mindset, observe before we react, and stay positive in spite of unrelenting obstacles.   

Embrace Oneness – This analogy may seem a bit rich, but hear me out:  when lying horizontally, or leaning against a rock, the pests vanished.  Even when being traveled by a pack of them, we hit the deck and they were gone.  Sure, it’s probably to do with their sensory preceptors, but there’s never a bad time to get more closely connected with the planet.  Laying down in the sand, embracing nature, literally being one with the Earth – it brings relief from whatever is dogging us.  

The next time a relentless, overwhelming obstacle is interrupting my paradise, I’ll check back on these lessons:  slow down, take control of my mindset, and reconnect with nature.  A lesson from an unlikely source.  Still though, in the name of Darwin, curses be upon the origin of these damn species.  

Andrew Langford

The Dark Night

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We started this podcast because we believe in the darkness.

This darkness can last an hour, a month, a year. It is universal. And universally disdained. Why do we curse the darkness?

It feels random and without form. It’s unfair. Terrifying! And hurts like hell.

What if we get the darkness we’re ready for?

That’s a loaded question.

Tell that to the parents who lost their kid to cancer. To the woman who lost her innocence. To the professional who lost his career. To the family who lost their house. To the untold people who have lost their lives.

Joseph Campbell was once asked, “What is the purpose of all of the world’s great myths and stories?” And you thought Andrew’s questions were hard. Campbell’s response was, “The transformation of our consciousness.” When asked, “How is this consciousness transformed?” His response was… “By the trials.”




What if our trials are meant to wake us up? So we can see the light.

What if the darkness we disdain is the journey we must take to have our eyes opened and our consciousness transformed?

Instead of cursing it, we could depend on it.

How might this change everything?


Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

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As a subscriber to Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic email, I signed up for his New Year, New You 21 day challenge. Each morning I wake up to an email and 2 min video where Ryan explains the challenge for that day and shares some tips and tricks to help us be successful. It’s been fairly easy so far (watch the sunrise/sunset, take a cold plunge). Today’s challenge sounded like hell.

Find a quiet solitary space.

Turn off all electronic devices.

Count to 1000.

Having never counted past like…60… before, I wondered how this might go. I decided to count using the rhythm of my livingroom clock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock Tick. Tock. The challenge was meant to take roughly 15 min but it took me 30min as I counted on the tock (every 2 seconds). Ryan’s advice was, “don’t break it up into manageable chunks, don’t celebrate key milestones (500), don’t celebrate when you finish (1000 baby!!!). Be still. Be in the moment. Take it in.” It was solid advice. 🙂

As I started, I felt the weight of Pascal’s famous quote but was confident I could do it. And I did! Sure, there were moments when my brain auto-piloted the numbers and when I reached 550 I remember thinking, “damn, I’m just over halfway there??” but my meditation training kicked in and I gently brought myself back into the rhythm. In the end, I actually found it relaxing.

We’ve all heard the classic advice, “close your eyes and count to 10.” The wisdom behind this is the pause allows our angry/anxious thoughts to slow down and we can begin to feel the stillness/ peace again. In short, it prevents a potentially negative experience for us and for others we may lash out against. Today’s challenge taught me that sometimes we need more than 10 seconds.

You sleep through your alarm.

A long-time employee announces he is starting his own landscaping company.

World War III is trending on Social Media.

It’s funny how the universe works. These are 3 fairly anxiety-inducing human experiences but because I spent 30 minutes in solitary stillness, I was able to take in all these realities and move forward in confidence knowing that it’s all good. Or at least, it will be. 🙂

It is all good. No matter what you’re going through. Stoicism reminds us that while we can’t control everything we can control something. Our reaction! In this, we are always in control (which is great news for control freaks) 😉

We count to 1000 not because it’s a cool badass challenge but because we never know when a real challenge will hit and we’ll need the stillness training. Resilience is a habit cultivated daily. Practice makes us perfect.

So let’s go!

The clock is ticking.

Cold Water Saves Lives

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If somebody had told me 5 years ago that the most lasting and effective change I would experience in my life was temperature-related, I would have been like… sounds boring. But fine… tell me more.

The first time I heard about The Iceman, I assumed he was a Marvel villain. Turns out, Wim Hof had become a legend for his morning plunges into the frigid cold waters of his local canal. Plus, he hiked mountains shoeless and shirtless -wearing only his shorts. Wim had also developed a breathing method that could scrub your lungs of excess carbon dioxide allowing you to breathe less and withstand all kinds of unpleasant realities. Wim claimed his methods could prevent sickness, boost the immune system and increase longevity.  The journalist, Scott Carney, had flown to Amsterdam to ‘out’ this crackpot and expose his bullshit. Instead, Scott wrote a book with the subtitle:

How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength

All Scott ended up exposing was his body to Wim’s methods. Scott did the plunges, took the breaths and even hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts. In the end, Scott proved not only did The Wim Hof Method work, it worked for people not named Wim Hof – perhaps the greatest proof of its truth. Science now agrees too, Wim’s methods actually work.

Note: Scott will be appearing on an upcoming episode 🙂

When I heard in 2017 that Wim was coming to Vancouver, I jumped at the chance to meet him. He is exactly the beautiful maniac I expected. Nearly 60 years old, Wim had the energy of a 20-year-old and inspired us with his story, the science behind his methods and we even took an ice bath together. Near the end of the day, Wim took us through one of his signature breathing sessions. What causes our bodies to cry out for breath is not a lack of oxygen but a build-up of carbon dioxide. Wim’s technique releases the excess Co2 bringing transcendence in thought and eliminating the desire to breathe. I floated through space without taking a breath for a full 4 minutes. It is still one of the more profound experiences I have ever had.

Since being introduced to Wim and his methods, I have taken a 1 min freezing cold shower every day. Andrew has too. At first, I screamed like a small child and hyperventilated my way to the finish line. I no longer do either but instead breathe and take it in. The key is to turn the faucet all the way to cold and let the water hit back of your head, right at your spine. It’ll take you places 🙂 Then I slowly turn my body and allow the cold water to do it’s work everywhere else. The result is a follows:

  • Anxiety and Anger Away – Any anxiety/strong emotion I had before the shower is gone by the time I get out and less likely to return later in the day.
  • Mental Reset – I step out refreshed and focused with renewed courage and vigor
  • Muscle Soreness – It is greatly reduced, along with any stiffness.
  • Skin – My skin is glowing (if I do say so myself ) 😉
  • Increased Resilience – Resilience is a habit we must cultivate daily. When we infuse our day with exercise (I jog in the mountains) followed by a cold shower, we remind the brain that although life can be a grind, we are stronger than we think and can endure any challenge that comes our way. This simple act allows us to live more peacefully in the moment.

The best part? It’s free. And super convenient. If you’re looking for genuine change in your mind and body, stop being a wimp and crank it to cold. You’ll thank us (eventually). 🙂

3 Questions to Save Your Life

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If we’re lucky, we’ll wake up to a new day tomorrow. A new year. Hell, a new decade! 2020 is here yall. Woo! It’s no longer a distant year in the future or a year referenced in some 80’s science fiction film. It’s real and it’s here. Ready or not.

I prefer the ready to the not.

While I don’t recommend New Year’s resolutions per se (who doesn’t want to be fitter, healthier, richer and more adventurous) I recommend we ask ourselves 3 questions instead. If 2020 is going to be the year of perfect vision, I believe these questions can help us see our life more clearly.

I first heard these questions while recording an episode for the podcast. Andrew and I had reached out to two of the wisest women we know to speak on matters of life and death. Linda and Shauna are experts on grief, death and dying and how to help people navigate these turbulent waters. Our conversation did not disappoint and I highly recommend you give it a careful listen.

At one point, Linda mentioned the 3 questions. These are THE questions Linda and her family have asked each other for decades in order to bring focus, clarity and to keep things real. I offer them to you as a way for you to look into 2020 and be more resolute. The beauty of these questions is they can be used in the moment, to plan a future moment or reflect on a moment gone by. Just change the tense in how you ask them. They are a mirror to our true selves. If we’re courageous enough to take a look.

What am I afraid of?

What would love do here?

What is the best possible thing that could happen?

As you contemplate where things are at in your life, may these questions bring you clarity, hope, and perhaps even provide an explanation for why you feel the way you do. We’ve never lived at a better time in history and despite what you might believe, life on earth has never been better. This is your time. Our time. And we haven’t a second to lose.

It turns out, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Happy New Year everyone.  Thanks for listening.

A Shocking Study

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In his excellent and thought-provoking book, ‘Stumbling on Happiness,’ Daniel Gilbert challenges our traditionally held beliefs on happiness. There are several key takeaways, not the least of which is, “anxiety is unhelpful because our brains are notoriously unreliable when it comes to predicting the future.” The experiences that we believe will bring us happiness, seldom do. But even more surprising, the experiences we dread and often try to avoid, fail to deliver the level of doom and gloom expected.

To illustrate his point, Gilbert references dozens of scientific studies -most of which go against conventional wisdom. One experiment, in particular, invited volunteers to receive three electric shocks. The fact that anyone signed up for this study is perhaps confirmation of the book’s central thesis. One group received moderate level shocks and the others received severe (painful) shocks. Upon completion, the participants were interviewed by psychologists. The participants who received the painful shocks were more grateful and appreciative of the experience than those who received less intense shocks. How is this possible? Gilbert explains, “if you managed to forgive your spouse (or anyone) for some egregious transgression but still find yourself miffed about the dent in the garage door or the trail of dirty socks on the staircase, then you have experienced this paradox.” It turns out, the answer lies in something called the Psychological Immune System.

We all have an immune system and its job is to fight off viruses so our body can run smoothly and stay safe from disease. It turns out, there is a psychological component to this. When we suffer a large scale attack on our psyche (Job loss, divorce, business failure, cancer diagnosis, bankruptcy etc.) our brain begins its job of protecting us by offering a more positive view of the experience. “That job wasn’t aligned with your values anyways. “He never really loved you for you who are etc.” This mental shift allows us to learn from the experience and most importantly, try again. While some might call this denial, others point to this as a key to resilience.

This particular immune system isn’t activated for every-day sadness, anger or anxiety but is reserved for those full-scale shocks to our psyche. Its primary concern is we don’t stay face down, in permanent rock bottom or experiencing night after night dark in our soul. We must eventually get up, dust ourselves off and continue to push through those obstacles.

It’s easy to feel anxious or angry, pre-suffering future shocks to our system. What this and many other studies have proven is although these shocks are inevitable, when they come, we have a built-in resilience to handle them. Upon realizing this, we can move forward with renewed confidence knowing we are stronger than we think. And perhaps, most importantly, we can enjoy the moment we are in.