Don’t worry. Be happy.

I recently went on a therapeutic journey to rid myself of anxiety and stress. I had experienced these mental disorders in some form or another for years, but it wasn’t until I had a child that it became so severe and debilitating. My mind would race every single day, focusing on problems I had created in my own head. They weren’t major issues, nor was anyone else concerned about them. However I was so fixated on these unhealthy obsessions that I barely had any headspace or energy to focus on anything else in life.

I am now nearly 14 months postpartum, and about a month ago, nearly came to a breaking point. Postpartum anxiety is so challenging, lonely, and isolating. But with encouragement from my husband, family, and close friends, I was determined to get past it.

I came into this journey with three intentions set:

1. To rid myself of anxiety and worry and instead be free and happy
2. To be more affectionate and appreciative towards those I love
3. To connect to a higher purpose and become more spiritual

Through a lot of hard work and a trip away from my family to focus on myself, I’ve finally begun to set myself free from the negative feelings I was experiencing. With those in mind, here’s what I will take away and apply to my life from here on out:

Life is all about choices. We make our own choices to be happy, to be sad, to be anxious, to be worried – to feel any feeling. All of these emotions originate from our head and our heart, and we are in control to dial them up or down, turn them on or off, look at them or look away from them.

I recently have been reflecting on a podcast I listened to a couple years ago. It taught me that reality is simply based on the concepts we experienced in life. Reality is whatever you make it to be. Reality actually isn’t real. Instead of anxiety and worry, my reality can be happiness. It can be filled with happiness because I am in control. I will enjoy my life to the best of my ability and be happy with every choice I make. And I am in control to achieve that – I just have to do it, to believe it.

For me to be happy, I need to focus on the silver lining and always identify the positive. It does exist in every situation. I will interpret every experience, every person, every place, every thing as positive – no matter what. If something appears to be negative, find the positivity. It does exist. And if I really can’t find it, then I don’t need that in my life.

Similarly, nothing in life is truly annoying. Annoyance is just the filter to which people choose to see things. If I don’t focus on that filter, I can rid myself of the feeling of being annoyed.

I can never let myself get back to where I went this year: not putting myself first and instead putting my needs and desires last. I need and want to do the things that make me happy first so I’m best equipped to make those around me happy too. I need to eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired so I have energy to go about my day. If I take care of myself, I’m better equipped to take care of anyone close to me.

I was so amazed at how much I missed my family during my trip away. I started this journey wanting to learn how to show them more appreciation, and left with more gratitude than I have ever felt to have them in my life. I know that will come more naturally for me moving forward and am excited about it. I will continue to remind myself of the things I am appreciative of every day and journal about them as often as possible. There’s so much in life to be grateful for, and focusing on these things will help me feel more fulfilled. Gratitude isn’t just a checklist, it’s what keeps me going.

Life is too short to be around downers. I feel the most energized and the happiest when I am around people who truly understand me, appreciate me, and want to be with me. Surround myself with happy people and I am bound to continue to be happy myself.

No more multitasking. No more racing thoughts. When my mind starts to wander too much, take some deep breaths, slow down my heartbeat, and come back to what I am doing. Be present in each and every moment and enjoy whatever it is I am doing right then. There’s no need to plan what’s going to happen next – it will come, and I will soon have the time and headspace to think about it. In the meantime, finish the task at hand… and be happy about it.

Life is amazing, but short. Enjoy every second of it.

You need to develop a practice of regular exercise

“If you don’t do something, you will have a cardiac event of some sort in the next 10 years.”  Those were the words I heard come from my physician’s mouth 12 years ago. I had one young son and another on the way.

I’d been overweight and unhealthy for 20 years.  I drank too much. I ate whatever I wanted. I was stressed out.  Every time I went to the doctor, they said I had to do something, but this time it was different. 

10 Years….

In 10 years, my wife might be calling the ambulance after she finds me unconscious in the shower or slumped over the computer.  They would take me to the hospital and crack my chest open like a crab because my arteries are clogged and my heart is begging for mercy. 

Something had to change, or I was going to be enjoying a much shorter life than I wanted to live.

I started with the Couch to 5k program from Runner’s Magazine.  The first day had me alternating between a light jog for 60 seconds and three minutes of rest for 20 minutes.  I still remember huffing and puffing through those 60 seconds—IT WAS BRUTAL

Over the weeks, the jogging increased, and the rest decreased according to the program.  Before I knew it, I was running for five minutes at a time and resting for two, and at four months, I was able to jog for an entire 30 minutes without stopping! 

Feeling much better now and enjoying the improvement in my life, I started SF Boot-camp in Golden Gate Park.  This was an outdoor program that consisted of body-weight, elastic bands, running and jumping exercises. It was a group class that met four times per week.  I lost about 60 pounds, got faster and started to look like a healthy person. 

I had finally made exercising regularly a habit!  It was after about a year and a half that I started to get bored with the programming.  I was enjoying the new me and wanted to push further. 

Around this time, someone told me about CrossFit. I found a gym and a community of great folks who also have a regular physical practice.  After 10 years of doing CrossFit, I’ve packed on about 40 pounds of lean body mass and I can do things I didn’t know would ever be possible for me. 

I’m now 47, in the best shape of my life, and the heart is working quite well, thank you very much!  I’ve made scores of friends over the past 12 years and am looking forward to another 40+ years of exercising! 

While it was tough to get started, making it a priority made it a reality. Today, I can’t think of a single change that has benefited my life more than my physical practice of regular exercise. 

The Obstacle is The Way (For The Most Part)

Obstacles and roadblocks in life are usually not enjoyable, but they help you grow and mature. Whether you’re going through physical strain of a 10 minute workout, spiritual instability of a 4 hour psychedelic journey, or emotional discomfort over 6 months of litigation, the result is more often than not a better, stronger, and more resilient person.


It’s commonly known that exercising the body will help you become a physically stronger person. However it’s less common to think about the mind as a muscle — something that needs obstacles to grow. And it’s even less common to think about the spirit in that way, too.


One of my mantras in life is to constantly grow so that I can remain healthy and at peace. Life tends to be easier and more enjoyable when I am resilient, and my most rewarding experiences usually come from hard work set forth to overcome obstacles.


For those reasons, I constantly train and challenge my mind, body, and spirit through conscious decisions to choose discomfort.


When you choose discomfort over and over again, you get more comfortable with being not comfortable – physically, mentally, and emotionally. You build thicker skin, a tougher personality, and gain a better perspective on the world.


A few examples on how I do this:

  • I train my body and mind with exercises that involve both physical and cognitive function. Those usually include strength, balance and accuracy.
  • I also train my body and mind with cold showers, saunas and cold plunges.
  • I train my spirit by being committed to my marriage, my business, and raising my child, and through shamanic journeys that involve plant medicine.


Please keep in my mind that I don’t recommend putting yourself in danger, but to consciously choose discomfort with clear intentions that help you grow.


Note: I have borrowed The Obstacle is The Way as a mantra from Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is The Way. In this book, Ryan Holiday shows how some of the most successful people in history — from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs — turned new obstacles into opportunities to get better, stronger, and tougher.