The evils of the Cult of Happiness

I help people sustainably enjoy their lives, and sustainably live lives they enjoy.

That means if I discover a concept that can help people do just that, dispelling beliefs that are causing people harm and frustration, it’s my obligation to share.

Most people have this belief about happiness that’s hurting them. And they might think it’s okay. And they might even think they understand what happiness really is.

But there’s a difference between thinking it and living it.

It’s not your fault.

There’s a group of people – gurus, self-proclaimed happiness experts – who are sharing harmful information. I’ll call them the Cult of Happiness.

Following their advice will lead you down a path of frustration, resentment and repeated mistakes.

Everyone and their grandma tells you happiness is a feeling.

It means you feel good.

There was this convention between eastern and western philosophies.

Western psychology said good emotions are pleasant ones. Ones that we want to feel.

Bad emotions are unpleasant ones. Ones we don’t want to feel.

Many many books are written to help you be more happy!

Many many books and gurus promise to erase your pain, your anger, your frustration by helping you see everything in a “positive” light.

“Everything is okay. It’s your anger that needs to change.”

Eastern psychology scoffed, rolled up their sleeves and threw a few solid punches.

Good emotions are ones which clear our perception of reality.

Bad emotions are ones that distort reality.

In other words, accepting things as they are is good. Distorting things to be what they’re not is bad.

Being angry because someone hurt us is positive.

Contrary to what the Cult of Happiness tries to tell you, being overly excited because we’ve cheered ourselves up, distracting from the hurt is harmful and bad and wrong and horrible.

And there’s a lot of truth to this.

Rogerian psychology shows that people grow and heal when psychologists just listen to the patient, allowing them to be what they are right then and there. Over time, through the therapist’s acceptance the patient learns he can always accept himself as who he is, and he miraculously changes to become his best self.

“On Becoming a Person” by Carl Rogers is an amazing tome of Rogers’ experiences and conclusions which explains the previous paragraph in exciting clarity.

I recommend it to everyone!

A book I’m in the middle of, recommended to me by a good friend shares another psychological framework – ACT. In it, a key tenet is to be open to emotion – similar to Rogers’ “openness to experience” if not even the same exact concept. Psychological health and resilience is predicted much more by a person’s openness to experiencing their own reality including their emotions and internal world. All of it. The pleasant and the unpleasant.

Plus, it’s been shown in studies that if you repress or distract yourself from negative emotions, you’ll likely do the same for positive ones! You can choose to repress your emotional experience or not to repress, but you can’t choose to selectively repress only some emotions and feel others.

“But Joe,” you ask, “does accepting everything as it is mean you have to accept people hurting you?”

No. Let’s be clear… There’s a big difference between allowing and accepting.

You can choose what to allow and what not to allow.

But if your girlfriend keeps trying to make you feel guilty for saying hi to your female neighbor, you don’t have to put up with that.

But you DO have to accept it.

Here’s what I mean.

You have to accept that your girlfriend is trying to make you feel guilty.

Not hide from it.

Not delude yourself into thinking she’s not really doing it, or she doesn’t really mean it, or that it’s not hurting you.

Truth is, she’s attempting to make you feel guilty and subversely control you.

And you accepting that means you allow her to be what she is.

And then you have the freedom to make a choice. Do you allow it? Do you talk to her to explain how it makes you feel and ask her to stop? Do you break up with her?

That’s the second part, what to do about it.

But you can’t have healthy boundaries – keeping close good things and keeping away bad things – without accepting things as they are.

This means accepting good things as what they are is just as important.

Like an opportunity to work at your dream company.

You can’t say “well they don’t really want me” or “something always goes wrong” if you have no evidence for that.

Accepting it as it is means you accept that you have the opportunity of your dreams!

Only once you do that can you act on it and take advantage!

I hope this helped you more sustainably enjoy the life you live, and more sustainably live a life you enjoy.

Until next time, sign up for my newsletter by clicking on this sentence.

Memento Mori,

~Joe

Perfectionist post

What’s wrong with this picture?

Trevor, a ceramic artist, sits down at his potter’s wheel.

His shirt is flecked with grey streaks, dried into the fabric of his shirt from hours of practice on his craft.

He gets the clay, wedges it and goes to work. With wet hands, he centers the clay, builds it up, pushes it down and centers it.

But as he pushes down, it squelches to the side.

“Fuck!”

Angrily he scrapes off the clay and tries again.

Again.

“I can’t get this right!” he remarks under his breath.

Pushing himself harder and harder, he tries again and again.

Hands getting wetter, frustration building more and more.

“Finally!” he exclaims, taking his foot off the pedal as he achieves a perfectly centered thing of clay.

So where’s the problem here?

In one word, perfectionism.

But of course I’m not going to leave it at that.

There’s more to it. Perfectionism is just the symptom.

What’s the problem behind it?

This varies a lot.

It could be a few things. Maybe Dad was always critical and he wanted desperately to please him… so he grew up thinking everything had to be perfect or Dad wouldn’t be proud.

Or 50,000 other reasons.

Why does it matter?

Passion Unchained’s mission is to help creative people unchain their passions and build a fulfilling, enjoyable life.

I take time whenever I can to talk to creatives. To pick their brains. To get at what’s deeper, what they need to hear, what they want in life.

And I spoke to someone recently who had lost motivation to do his craft.

Why?

I dug deeper and deeper, looking for the way he spoke about things, the inflections, probing for deeper motivations behind his words.

It turns out he was afraid it wouldn’t be perfect.

And I myself feel this way too. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it stops me from trying.

What’s the solution?

There are temporary solutions and longer term solutions.

The former is easy but doesn’t really fix the problem. Just like an Advil doesn’t fix your headache, it just helps you deal with it for the short term.

The latter is harder but provides longer-term relief.

This article will help you with more short-medium term relief.

Subscribing to my Podcast will bring you more information and help you longer-term.

Plus at some point I plan to take on mentees who are

  • coachable

  • creative

  • looking for guidance towards building a fulfilling and passionate lifestyle

But that’s in the future. Subscribe to my mailing list to get updates on that and more.

Okay back to the article…

What’s missing in the scenario I started the article with?

Compassion.

Before I tell you why compassion is so important, let’s rewrite the scenario with an artist who treats himself with compassion.

Trevor, a ceramic artist, sits down at his potter’s wheel.

His shirt is flecked with grey streaks, dried into the fabric of his shirt from hours of practice on his craft.

He gets the clay, wedges it and goes to work. With wet hands, he centers the clay, builds it up, pushes it down and centers it.

But as he pushes down, it squelches to the side.

“It’s alright. You got this, what did you do here? Let’s try again.”

He thinks of what he did with his technique and tries again.

It happens again.

“Hmm… It’s alright. Messing up is a part of learning. What can I do to improve my technique” he remarks under his breath.

He tries again and again, each time noticing something different he can improve and making subtle changes, coaching himself through it.

His hands are getting wetter and he’s feeling more and more confident the more he sees his improvements and reassures himself.

“Yes!” he exclaims, taking his foot off the pedal as he achieves a perfectly centered thing of clay.

What was different?

The main difference is this guy’s ATTITUDE towards himself.

I literally copied and pasted the made-up story and changed all the self-critical moments to self-supportive moments.

Everything that happened is exactly the same.

“But why is this important, Joe? Plus it’s soooooo cheesy.”

You’re not single, even if you think you are.

You’re in a relationship with yourself.

In your head, you remember what you said to yourself. And if you reprimanded yourself this morning for eating an extra spoonful of cottage cheese when you said you wouldn’t, you remember it in your head.

Forever.

Most of us don’t take into account how we treat ourselves on a day to day basis.

We might try to be supportive of others, but we have a higher standard for ourselves.

Or at least that’s the excuse we tell ourselves to verbally abuse ourselves.

How many times did you tell yourself “Damn! I’m so stupid I should have remembered my wallet before I took a road trip to the Bunny Ranch… Now I can’t get in and get the lovin’ I wanted…”

Or at least the first 4 words of that self-dialogue…

I have.

Most people I know have.

And it’s phrases like these that degrade our self-esteem and trust in ourselves to be able to live a fulfilling life.

The alternative is clear – you don’t need to lie to yourself.

In fact, you can tell yourself the exact same thing – in this case with the artist, you tried, you failed, you need to improve.

But the key is your focus and attitude.

Instead of “I’m stupid, I’m bad, here’s my due punishment I deserve…”

It’s “I’m human. I’m learning. I am on my way to mastery but I’m not there yet. Here’s what I can do now to improve.”

Constructive criticism with compassion.

“But Joe?” You ask… “What about wanting to improve? Won’t I lose my drive if I go easy on myself>”

Sure. Improving is important.

And it may feel like you’re sacrificing it when you build compassion. The drive to improve isn’t as desperate, as pressing.

It’s more balanced.

But let’s be clear. Being honest and compassionate is still being honest.

Nothing bothers me more – and is more detrimental to your success – than the “self-help” advice of “Fake it ‘till you make it. Act like you’re perfect and eventually you will be.”

How the hell will you improve as a craftsman if you keep telling yourself you’re perfect?!?!

The point isn’t to avoid criticism.

It’s to give criticism with a heart.

Honesty, but from a place of wanting to improve, understanding you’re a human being who makes mistakes along the way.

Positive reinforcement. Desire.

So…

Going forward, here’s a specific thing you can do, modified slightly from something my mentor taught me.

When you fuck up in some way – especially in your art but anywhere in life – say to yourself aloud or in your head:

“Even though I didn’t do X, I did Y and I’m on my way to Z. To get there more quickly I can do A right now.”

Let’s apply it:

“Even though I didn’t bring my wallet, I did drive all the way to the Bunny Ranch and I’m on my way towards having an interesting and fulfilling love life. To get there more quickly I can talk to the receptionist and ask her what options I have.”

or…

“Even though I didn’t get a perfect mug made yet today, I did attempt and get some practice in and I’m on my way towards being a master potter. To get there more quickly I can take a short break and then practice 3 more times.”

See how easy this is? It might get clunky the first few days or even weeks. It took me a while to get used to this structure, but man… I felt so much more aligned. Compelled to improve but never bitter about it at all!

Like I was a compassionate coach, helping myself along the way.

And I found I would even do EXTRA to make myself proud! Just like a compassionate boss – but not overly permissive… he still has standards – makes you WANT to do a good job for him!

Unchain your passion and live life to its fullest

~Joe


On that note, I have an announcement

Do you want to own a piece of Passion Unchained history?

My launch giveaway is out.

Three simple, quick things gets you an entry into a unique and one-of-a-kind prize.

 

Check it out:
Giveaway website, click here!

The Passion Paradox

By wanting to live a passionate, fulfilling life you’ve already failed.

Now I don’t mean to be harsh. Your desire is natural – we all want a fulfilling, enjoyable life. I want it too.

But there’s something in the way you’re approaching the problem that’s getting in your way from the start.

Have you ever looked for you phone around the house?

But then after 10 minutes (3 of them involving screaming and cursing the gods above and throwing pillows at phantoms) you realize it’s right there in your hand?

Yeah. I’ve been there.

And it’s frustrating.

And it sucks.

But it’s a great experience. And here’s why.

Because while you may not have the house, the job, the sexy girlfriend/strong boyfriend you want, your life still has soooome passion and fulfillment even if you can’t think of it right now.

One of the keys to Unchaining your Passion (hehe see what I did there?) is realizing that the only one who can chain it is you.

There’s a phrase which is gaining traction here in the states in self-help books and seminars…

It’s simple, easy and short:

“I am enough.” ~Self-proclaimed self-help gurus like me.

“It sounds so cheesy, Joe! I don’t want to say that and feel silly…”

First of all, silly is a good thing. I just complemented my Krav instructor on being silly and he was confused – he thought it was a veiled insult… but no it’s a big complement when I say it.

And second of all – it’s the key.

See here in the States, and in many other countries as well, we have this thing called Capitalism.

I’m a fan, it’s one of the best ways to allow people to have open range for success if they earn it, options for the consumer, and also provide a sense of stability for the whole.

Yes, it’s not perfect. Yes, there are improvements that need to be made – some significant improvements, some small – but as a whole I’m a fan.

One of the side-effects of our form of Capitalism is something we call consumerism.

Did you ever see an ad saying

“Are you feeling good? Like you don’t need anything? Buy a Snicker’s bar!”

Never?

Really?!?

Well there’s a reason for that.

While happy people buy more, happy people who don’t think they need anything don’t.

If you don’t think you have a problem to solve, you won’t buy something that is supposed to solve the problem.

So instead, they say “Hungry? Buy a Snicker’s!”

While this is a small and not-so-harmful example, we’re bombarded with messages like these all day and all night.

We’re buzzed in the middle of the night by our phones which tell us we’re too fat and need a liposuction… No actually you need a virtual one-on-one nutritionist with 30-days free… No actually you need this new sex-god strategy because that’ll make you feel good about your body…

And then the penis-enlargement pills hit your inbox…

The average adult male penis is 5.16 inches. It took a looooong time for me to get all those measurements… ahem I mean I googled it.

But yet people who have 6-inch schlongs still desperately slam their fingers into the keyboard to order their pills…


passion-unchained-lifestyle-art-crafts-fulfillmentpassion-unchained-lifestyle-art-crafts-fulfillment

Part of it is our insecurities, yes, but part of it is our culture of consumerism.

What’s the solution? Burn it down?

Well no. While we’re influenced by our culture, I (and most philosophers and psychologists) prefer the Ghandi approach.

The Ghandi Approach – Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Remember that phrase up there?

No, I’m not going to make you say it in front of the mirror every morning and call up your Mom, Dad, Friend, Lover, Doctor, Cat, Dog and 3rd grade teacher and shout it to yourself and everyone 10 times each.

But the meaning behind it is quite important.

You. Are. Enough.

In spite of all these ads telling you you don’t have what you want, you do.

If you go look for a passionate life, believing you don’t have one – you’re either going to feel more and more inadequate or you’ll have to blow up your identity to find it.

I’m not saying you might have to give up parts of your identity to grow.

And I’m not saying you have everything you want and you don’t have wants or desires. Because you might, and probably do. We all want more, it’s part of being human, and it’s a good thing.

Keep that desire burning, it’s another extremely important ingredient in living fully and passionately.

But that’s for another article.

In the process of us following our desires, we must accept that we have what we have, we are who we are, and be grateful for it – even if we’re on a path towards “more.”

Because without a foundation of “having,” nothing we gain will ever make us feel good and we’ll keep on clicking those pesky penis pill ads wondering why we’re not happy.

I hope I reached you in some way and helped you live passionately.

Until next time. Unchain your passion and live your most authentic and passionate life, readers.

Joe. Out.

Why you hate your life:

It’s been a while since I shared something like this.

Vulnerable. Real. I’ve been working so hard on myself that I’ve closed off from sharing my process.

And I’ve been so worried about how I brand my site.

And to some extent it’s important.

But I forgot the most important thing… actually sharing content.

I brainstormed the name of this site using 20x the amount of time I should have used.

In the end I’m thankful for the clarity I got in the search…

But I forgot to share with you real, deep blog posts like I used to.

And I’ve discovered why you hate your life.

So here I am, opening up about my journey towards a fulfilling and passionate life.

I’ve delved into the definition of this. What do I mean “passionate and fulfilling life?”

What does that look like. What does that feel like…

And I realized it’s a bit hard to define… Only because I don’t know about it except from a feeling standpoint.

Passion… it feels good. I know that.

It feels… easy and energetic. Excited… Like I’m in the flow.

And I know certain activities bring me this feeling.

And certain people.

And certain places…

But how can I extract this feeling, distill it, and engineer a life which brings the most of this feeling into it?

And would such a life be desirable anyway?

Would I WANT to be energetic ALL the time? Like a husky cooped up in a cage? Or a maniac on steroids excited about life?

No… So then an ideal life isn’t “passion ALL the time!”

It’s more like “Balance…”

But even “Balance…” is too vague. Balance when taken the wrong way can be boring… Old. So let me define it for you:

Quality number 1 of a passionate life:

Balance

My mentor Matt Pocius had a saying he’d say often… He goes into more detail, but to paraphrase, he says a 10-second soundbite from Bill Gates on how to become rich is going to be extremely inaccurate and simplistic.

But a 10-week seminar would be much more accurate and nuanced.

So most of the “be passionate!” “a good life is a passionate life!” are the 10-second soundbites of the self-help world.

They’re not wrong but there’s much more to it.

Two quotes sum up the right attitude towards living passionately, taking into account the balance that needs to be had without sacrificing direction:

“Do not hurry. Do not rest.” ~Goethe

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.


Quality number 2 of a passionate life:

Adventure

Life at its best is an adventure. And every adventure needs its goal.

Even an aimless exploration of the American West like Louis and Clark did in 1803 wasn’t so aimless… They had a task – and their task was to explore and report what they found in the newly bought land from the Louisiana Purchase.

“So Joe, how the hell does Louis and Clark help me with my own life?”

First let me get to why you hate it.

You’re too attached.

You’re stuck in structure.

You’re married to things you think you owe your family. Your friends. Your lover.

You think you have to live up to their expectations.

And you’re building so much resentment.

You do the thing you think they want for you, because hopefully, you hope, they will like you more for it.

You give them a piece of your life in hopes they’ll give you some validation, or love, or comfort and security.

But at the same time you’re taking it from yourself. You’re creating the hole you want them to fill.

So, what is your adventure?

If your adventure is “How do I not piss anyone off too much?” then your life will be appropriately boring.

But if your life is “How do I live a life I find passionate? How do I build passion into everything I do?” then your life will reflect your adventure.

Too many of us (and me in the past) get stuck worrying about what others will think of us… Our friends, our family, our lovers.

I dropped out of college at the behest of my family when I realized I didn’t care about my degree or the corporate world and that I wanted to travel, create content and craft things.

I didn’t (and I still don’t) know how exactly this will support me, but I didn’t (and still don’t) care all that much.

The thing is, I am the sole person I have to live with. And when I’m doing what I love I’m much more present with all those I care about. I get my emotional sustenance from the things I do, and I need less from those around me. I’m more present and available.

Not to say there aren’t hard times. I almost got arrested in Colombia by a corrupt hostel owner. I almost got conned out of all my valuables by a silver-tongued homeless guy in Medellín a few weeks later. I almost froze to death on the streets of Riga, Latvia when I got kicked out of my hostel, but a wonderful and warm woman allowed me into her life and her home.

But the thing is I regret none of it.

Regret only comes from the things you don’t do. And I have those – I wasn’t always so “Yes Man” about life.

It never comes from the things you choose to do, even if it goes horribly awry.

And sometimes I still am not so “Yes Man.”

But there was a time in my life where I saw two movies… “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Yes Man” and I took them as guidebooks to life.

This got me:

  • My first girlfriend

  • Two presidencies at Rutgers clubs

  • On the Rutgers Quiddich team

  • The most magical week of my life in Israel, galavanting with a gorgeous local exploring Tel Aviv

  • And so much more.

If you haven’t seen those movies, go do it. Now.

Links below for your convenience… I get a commission because how else am I going to write about passionate shit and help you out?

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And the book too in case you want to read it instead:

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If you’ve seen them, you know what I mean. Adventure. Shucking of structure towards something new and attractive.

But you feel a hesitance, there’s a part of you that wants to scream out! A part of you that wants to let loose and explore the world!

Or maybe when I bring up the idea of adventure you think “I’m too old!” or “I have too may responsibilities!”

What do you mean “responsibilities?”

Why don’t you have a responsibility to your own life’s enjoyment? Why isn’t that most important to you?

If, by responsibility, you mean you have no choice – you’re mistaken.

You may have a family, a wife/husband, a job.

And if you feel those things are blocking you from enjoying your life I have bad news for you…

You chose them for the wrong reasons.

I chose to drop out of college. It was a hard choice. My family almost cast me out.

Angry calls back and forth were the norm. I’d get into arguments with most of my family for years afterwards. And my girlfriend, who was gorgeous, super smart, adventurous and fun wanted me to stay in college, so I had to sacrifice our relationship too and move on with my life.

But did I ever regret dropping out?

Briefly, in times where I barely had enough money to buy a jar of peanut butter to last me for the week, I’d regret it – but only out of hunger.

Never did I regret it any other time.

Because I decided to follow my heart, and it’s a decision I have to make every day.

Because sometimes I forget my heart. It’s like a relationship – every day you recommit to living passionately, or it fades away.

How can you build that for yourself?

You are the result of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so fill your life with my videos, podcasts and blog posts – that way you’ll at least have 1 passionate person sharing their life with you on the reg.

  • Watch the two videos above. Great examples of people who felt stuck, frustrated and bored with life and broke out of it.

  • And keep your eye out for my emails/videos/podcasts.

The more you read, watch, and listen about passion the more you’ll discover it in your own life.

Till the morrow,

~Joe

He’s a Renaissance Man!

I met this guy as a passenger in my Uber.

He comes in with a thick, thick moustache, complete with loop-di-loopness.

So I say… “You must be pretty creative.”

He says yup and we talk about the things he does.

But he does everything.

Photography, bartendering etc.

Everything but skinning cats.

I knew I had to get him onto the podcast.

So I did. It’s just been released, complete with launch giveaway deets.

We speak about:

  • How to define (or not define!) yourself as a creator

  • How to find projects wherever you are

  • How to live creatively even if you’re worried about what people will think

And don’t forget the launch giveaway at the end!

And if you want to become a photographer yourself, I searched and found this kit on Amazon, asking my friend Phil (from Episode 1 of The Creator’s Guild) which cameras are good for starting out.

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Here’s some good beard products too if you’re watching the interview on Youtube and are getting jealous of both our luscious beards… I’ve personally tried all of these and can vouch for their quality:

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SO HOT HE BURNS… WOOD.

I loooove burning things.

It’s fun.

Those of you who know me, know I love laser cutters.

In fact, I’m buying one in the next few months!

Well last year my friend Kimmie Grau hit me up.

“Joe! I’m going to a craft fair and I want you to come!”

“Where at?” I was down like a clown.

I get there. It’s at this venue called “Emo’s” here in Austin, complete with dark club lighting. Artists galore lined the inside of the club-turned-art halls.

Beats permeated the space as I explored booth to booth looking for Kimmie’s kimonos, scarfs, prints… She’s a fashion designer who you’ll hear from soon. I recorded an interview last year I’m re-releasing.

Photographers… Pencil and paint artists… And then this guy.

A table full of wood trinkets. But something was different about them.

They had designs on them. Burned deep into the fabric of the wood. The grain, blackened by heat.

So I conversed with the guy.

Aaron Kirkpatrick he was called. Friendly guy, knowledgeable on wood burning.

And we kept in touch. The next week, I interviewed him.

We spoke about:

•Diving into doing what you love

•How to enjoy diving into your passion and not make it a job

•What it’s like to learn something new and start selling it to people

And now you can listen too!

Enjoy and subscribe to get notifications when each episode comes out!

In case any readers want to try it out for themselves, I went ahead and searched Amazon for a woodburning kit and a respirator.

Aaron talks about how important respirators are – you’re burning smoke and creating carcinogens like crazy. You need to protect your lungs.

I haven’t bought either of these, but out of the ones I checked, they seem to have good reviews, a reasonable price and are Prime-shipping ready.

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Oops. I made a huge mistake. – An Essay on my core value, Freedom.

We are the easiest at fooling ourselves.

Whether it’s a diehard alcoholic saying “I can stop myself if I wanted to” when he downs his 20th shot and crashes his new car into The Saint Louis Arch, or a pickup artist convincing himself he’s not needy by hiding that part of himself from his own psychology, we’re all masters of self-foolery.

Every one of us has compromised his own relationship with himself at one point. To say otherwise is a blatant lie.

I’ve been lying to myself for a long time, and I’ve also been lying to you.

I have a deep fear of commitment. Part of it is my age, at 26 I’m a little late to be super afraid of commitment, but it’s not unheard of in this day and age.

But a big part of it is unresolved traumas relating to my parent’s divorce and my continuous moving around as a kid. I won’t get into details about that in this article, that’s between me, myself and my therapist.

I will discuss the dangers of holding freedom as your highest value and, using reason and philosophy and my own ingeniousness rebuild the definition of freedom from the ground up, redefining it rather than chopping it off the list of my highest values.

Through reading this I hope to instill you with:

  • an understanding of a key obstacle in many people’s path towards success and fulfillment

  • a key way we can fool ourselves into thinking the easy, fun, quick way is always the best

  • a path towards internal fulfillment through a clear definition of a personal value.

But first… a story.

I went to Palm Beach State College in 2011. I’d just graduated with my High School Diploma with a just-over-2.0 GPA.

A chaotic upbringing and an adolescence in a strict and unpredictable group home changed my trajectory, instilling me with a deep hunger for freedom.

Like any adolescent, I wanted my own peace and exploration. To find what I wanted, what gave me pleasure so I could commit to a path that worked for me.

But there was an issue… Instead of exploring and finding different things which I enjoyed, I became stuck in the “exploration” phase.

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe we should be defined by what we do or that we’re doomed to stick to one career regardless of any blatant signs which point us in other directions.

I’m just sharing the importance of committing to something even when we don’t always want to in the moment… Momentary sacrifice for a long-term goal.

So I’d explore and find things I enjoyed… Psychology, chemistry, science, programming, art, design.

And I took a few extra classes in these things.

But at the first sign of trouble I bailed.

I’d stick around for some time, pushing my limits, but if I found it hard I wouldn’t try.

I can remember times and experiences where I can explain this phenomenon away as a product of my environment, and legitimately so, but we’re all responsible for our own selves. We have what we have, and it’s our responsibility to work with the clay.

And I had both a static mindset, as well as a fear of commitment.

The reason I didn’t want to push towards a goal is two-fold.

  1. I was taught I was smart. And I was… I got As and Bs through all math classes through the first half of Calc II WITHOUT STUDYING ONE MOMENT! This taught me I didn’t need to try, I would just succeed all the time because of an intrinsic quality I had which I didn’t need to work on.

  2. I was afraid to commit. Seeing how my parents’ divorce wrecked both their lives for a few years, and how it wrecked mine caused me to fear commitment. Plus my constant moving as a child showed me I couldn’t form attachments (a form of commitment) because everything disappeared from me. What if commitments I made turned out like my parents’ marriage? What if it works out then it leaves like every home and friend I’ve ever met? I needed to protect myself and the way I chose was to not make commitments at all.

    An aside to the reader:

Before you get on your high horse and say “Oh Joe, these are only your experiences… they don’t apply to me! I have Youtube videos to watch and girls to bang…” I’ll say this: It’s quite likely you don’t have the same hangups I do. It’s also somewhat possible you don’t have similar hangups at all! But! I’d bet you 90% of people reading this resonate at some level with my fear of commitment.

And you see how it’s hurt you by causing you to avoid decisions you’ve made which you wish you could change. How you wish you took that chance on that opportunity, or not made that choice out of fear.

You know the choice I made.

So I encourage you to read to the end. Feel free to click off and do what you want. I know she’s texting you and she’s got that rockin’ bod. But you’ll miss something that may rock your world and open doors internally and externally that otherwise would remain closed. And if she’s cool enough for you, she’ll like the fact that you’re working on yourself and reading stuff like this.

Also to be clear to my parents if they are reading this, I love you both and I know you did your best. You sacrificed so much energy, patience, money and devotion to me I am so grateful for. I internalize no blame, except perhaps for some crystallized in unprocessed emotions which I intend to process.

So these fears lived inside me, causing me to push away every girl I dated, alienating them out of fear of my parents’ divorce recurring in my own life. I changed major after major because it got hard and I thought having to do work meant I wasn’t smart, and that’s the only asset I thought I had.

And I wrapped it all up in a heinous lie I told myself… It was all okay because my highest value was freedom!

And I shared this value with you, and my friends and myself.

But when I questioned my value, it broke apart. It as I defined it was clear and reasonable to an extent.

But as I lived it, it showed its cracks.

Freedom how I used it was an excuse to remain afraid of work and commitment.

A blanket I could cry in instead of confronting the world and my destiny.

A crutch I used to make everything easier, even though I didn’t need it.

The way I used freedom was hurting me.

The way I defined freedom, the ability to choose what you did, when you did it and how you did it, was great but had flaws and could be easily misused.

So I decided to redefine it.

But I decided to redefine it from the ground up. Taking out the rot in the floorboards, the fear of commitment – choosing a path and following it regardless of obstacles – that poisoned my value system.

Okay, so first we have to define the goal of life. Without this, we don’t know what we’re building, and we can’t build a good foundation. With this, we can tailor our values to our understanding of life.

What is life about?

  • Leaving the world better than when we found it, that’s a good start.

  • Forming relationships to help others grow and build a safe home and support system.

  • Leaving something for the world to enjoy once we’re gone. A legacy.

This is enough to direct our focus in forming a constructive definition of freedom.

What does freedom mean?

  • Ability to choose our commitments.

  • Ability to think our own thoughts, form our own ideas.

  • Ability to choose our own actions.

  • Ability to travel, work and form relationships as we please.

It doesn’t mean NO commitments. It means we get to CHOOSE our commitments.

A better way to sum this all up is:

  • Respecting our own sovereignty.

This brings up an interesting idea. If we are sovereign, this means we are:

  1. Free to act, think, travel as we desire.

  2. Responsible for our choices.

As the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.

Here’s my version:

“With great freedom comes great responsibility.” -Joe Buchoff

And this was the half I neglected. I chose to drop out of school and travel the world, a choice I regret in some ways but also praise in others. If I would have done it over again, I’d either make the same choice or I would seek a therapist to help me make a more rational decision which could go either way. I didn’t see the world the same as I do now, and the travels were a necessary piece in this. I do not regret travelling one bit, but with the right therapist, I could have achieved my degree first and had a safety net to fall back on.

I sought freedom, but financially I depended on my family to support me.

I called up my family and asked for money on enough occasions where eventually they told me they decided not to help me. I didn’t take responsibility for my own money and I had to hit rock bottom before I did.

So… Freedom defined as respecting our own sovereignty is a much more constructive definition.

We can choose to do what we like, but we’re also responsible for the consequences.

What did this bring up in you?

I’m curious. When I read articles like this, I often discover things about my own journey. Please share what came up for you in the comments. I’ll read them all.

Money… What is it good for?

Money is a confusing bitch.

But that’s only half the truth.

People have so many feelings about it.

I’ve been trying to figure it out for myself… How do I get more of it? What is my relationship with it?

For a while I thought of it as evil… I thought I was so selfish to want money.

I was 3. One set of grandparents gave me more presents than the other.

And the grandparents who (I love them very much and I cherish them deeply) gave me less asked me one day “Joe, which grandparents do you like more?”

Kids are so honest. And I was no exception. I was kinda a dick that way… I told them I liked the others more.

My Grandma asked me why.

And I told her “Because they buy me more things.”

Ugh. I felt so guilty even though I was three. I didn’t want to lie! I didn’t know how.

But I didn’t want to hurt Grandma’s feelings. Her face fell. And I hurt even writing this to you guys.

But a friend of mine recently told me “If you don’t feel queasy about pressing “Share” it’s not good content.

So here I am… writing this up about to press “Share.”

What’s the point of all this?

A few things…

First of all, it’s not money that’s confusing… It’s your relationship with it.

There’s no shame for liking money. For wanting material things, riches, the best kind of MBA (Massive Bank Account.)

It gets such a bad rap though, wanting money, or cars etc.

And it might just be my family or surroundings in Northern California that make me think it’s shameful – well-off but very liberal. It’s true what they say that Liberals punish the rich and Republicans punish the poor.

But it’s okay for sure – to want nice things, affluence, financial security.

Sure it won’t make you happy all the time.

But I’d rather cry in my Tesla than on my secondhand scooter either way of course.

The real benefit of money is how it takes away all the problems and opens so many doors. I love having the ability to buy myself new clothes, to shop at Whole Foods, to eat out. I have this freedom because of money – one of our most awesome inventions.

And one really cool thing about money is that it can buy back the one resource you can’t get back… your time.

Money is a social agreement (since it stopped being backed by gold) that this piece of paper can be used to exchange for anything.

It means something because of this agreement.

And because of this it’s so awesome how we use it to free our time.

Want an extra afternoon? Hire a maid to clean your bachelor pad instead of doing it yourself.

Want to free up your weekend? Hire an accountant to organize your inventory purchases.

Want to free up your life? Build a business to take your money, use it to give value to your community and in return, multiply it so you can give even more value!

Money is freedom.

And even though I was ashamed for feeling entitled and spoiled for wanting money, I realize now that it’s one of the coolest inventions we have, and it’s one of the quickest ways to achieve the freedom I so deeply desire in life.

What do you think? I’m curious to hear what your relationship with money is like.

Lessons from behind the phone: Dating, life and social skills I learned from telemarketing.

So in my week with my sales job I learned a lot of things about myself, sales and ironically dating.

I learned I’m extravagant and fearless when it comes to social situations. It’s easy for me to make a move.

I’ve been making jokes and taking social risks naturally. My cubicle neighbors joke with me? I joke back.

Someone invites me to lunch at a nearby buffet? I say cool but I’ll need a ride (asking for what I need.)

My weakness is in calibrating to others’ comfort. I find it’s easy for me to be unaware of someone being uncomfortable and I don’t entirely know that I need to step back. This worries me a bit because it could blindside me and get me fired – being socially uncalibrated by going too far.

Basically my default, my strength is to go forward with a polarizing joke, my weakness is being disconnected from others’ temperature and the room’s temperature.

Also I realize that the sales process they’re teaching me is perfect for dating. And that dating is just selling your penis.

Approaching is like cold calling.

Hitting up girls who went cold is like warm dialing.

I call, I try to speak to the decision maker at the company, if they don’t want to hear from me, I calibrate to them and try to get them to feel comfortable opening up. If they don’t qualify (e.g. if I’m selling business communication software and they have < 5 employees) then I thank them for their time and disqualify them in Salesforce. If they object, it’s not to ME, it’s to THE CALL and I continue helping them open up. If they hang up, as long as they didn’t “unsubscribe” specifically, I set a “next step” date for a month or two or three and hit them up again then.

If they’re down, then I set up a meeting with the closer asap.

It’s a perfect analogy for dating.

And it makes it really really clear that the only problems I have with dating are my own emotional ties to it. I don’t give a shit whether a company sets a meeting with me. I call >150 a day, and while I have a meeting quota I don’t get commissions.

But sometimes I wrap up dates, kissing, sex into my ego, my self-worth, my identity and when I do that, it’s like I’m drinking water and trying to control how it moves through my body… that analogy makes sense in my head but it’s hard to explain… Basically I try to impede the flow of the process rather than work with it.

A persistent background worry is that I’ll be fired. I have a backup plan – I want sales experience so I’ll send the same resume to 5+ other similar companies in the area, and also apply to “brand ambassador” positions. There are tons nearby and they’re always hiring.

So it’s not the end of the world. And to an extent, this worry is good as long as I use the fear to propel me to do well at my job and to work with the management and become a skilled salesman.

I’m reevaluating some of my habits so I can focus on this job first and foremost, and on my dropshipping money-printing engine second, and my craft/lifecoaching business third. I dropped most of my daily habits this week trying to wake up early so I can get to work, and because 10 hours of M-Th were suddenly taken up.

So that’s my week and my new realizations. Hopefully it’s helped you gain some insight as well!

The #1 ingredient in success. Without this nothing matters.

It’s November 2017, almost a year and a half ago.

I left Colombia a couple weeks back to go to Lithuania. Cold, with a language I don’t know. Sure my Grandfather’s grandfather came from there, but I don’t know the place.

“Acieu” means thank you… And it sounds like they’re sneezing. Still, I feel a sort of kinship with the place. A deep connection, and this was even before I knew my ancestry was from those parts.

With speakers and castles and a 4-star resort with a heated towel rack and warm fuzzy blankets, I learned the ins and outs of business and was super excited to start trying it all out.

But after the retreat was over I was still broke.

I had only a loan to my name, a loan of $65, which I got all from a dude I just met at the retreat, with the promise to pay him back.

And I hadn’t even bought my flight home.

I was scared. I was nervous. I didn’t know how I was going to make this money last in this cold, cold, confusing place. And I didn’t know how I was going to make the money to buy a flight back home. My parents decided to stop supporting me once I dropped out of college to pursue my dream, a choice I loved at the time and now have mixed feelings about – some positive, some negative.


The Renaissance Man Desire Life Coaching Craft Craftsman Art Creative ArtistThe Renaissance Man Desire Life Coaching Craft Craftsman Art Creative Artist

I found “The 5-Euro Hostel” which, believe it or not, cost 5 Euros per night (shocker!) I stayed with smelly aggressive Russian dudes who I had to constantly assert myself to in order to maintain my boundaries. Something I’m capable of doing but am not used to… and it drained me.

In the middle of the night, I would go out to the lounge, still fucked up from the 8-hours of jet lag, and work on my online freelance business with tips from one of the speakers at the retreat.

I would get barely any sleep, but I got some progress.

The bathrooms were horrendous… Smelly, dirty. The showers were these portable things they hooked up to the water, like how you hook up a washing machine to the water. But at least they were warm.

I had pawned my Galaxy S8 back in Colombia to pay for my hotel for the equivalent of $135… Negotiating in a third language was an interesting experience. I remember the girl whispering in Spanish “Ask him for 550,000 Pesos [about $17 more than I got]” but I was so confused and proud of myself that I managed to get $$$ for it at all that I didn’t want to push my luck. I had gone to 8 pawn shops in the bustling market before one person was willing to take it at all.

So I was using my shitty, cracked Galaxy On5. A budget phone I had gotten as a backup a while back.

I could go on and on, and at some point I will probably write a book, or a series of blog posts and emails about that year. Or maybe all of the above. The experiences and lessons were amazing and unforgettable. I will always hold these months dear in my heart.

Here’s where I am now.

I have desires and ambitions. I have an ideal in my mind. But I am much further than where I was… And there’s one thing, and one thing only which got me here…

My desire.

But Joe, what about hard work? What about taking action?

Yes, that’s super important. But the thing is, with desire comes focus. And with more desire comes the willingness to do anything to realize that goal.

The more you want something, the more you’re willing to do to create what you desire. Think of the last thing you wanted really really bad. Maybe it was a car. Maybe it was to upgrade your house or your apartment. Or to date that hottie at work. Or to save up $100,000 towards your future.

Do you remember what you were willing to do to make it happen? How much action you took to create it? Tons I’m sure.

And were you sad about having to do that?

Probably not. You probably were excited to get what you were desiring when you were done with your actions.

Desire is a cure-all. Sure action is important, and sometimes it’s important to push yourself to start acting if you’re too resistant to it. But with enough desire, anything is possible. Desire coupled with clarity and focus whispers the directions in your ear and gives you the fuel you need to blast off directly towards your target without abandon.

Some actionable tips to release resistance and up your desire:

  • Meditate every morning right after you wake up, before you do anything else.

  • Write about your ideal day and read it every morning right after you meditate.

  • Replace the “But what if” in “I want this but what if…” with “And what if”

    • Ex: “I want to save up $100,000 but what if it takes 20 years???” with “I want to save up $100,000 and what if it’s easier than I thought!”

    • Coupled with a realistic expectation on the world, and preparation for catastrophe, an optimistic view and openness to satisfying your desire allows you to maintain your course and take advantage of everyday good fortune that comes your way. Winners don’t rely on luck, but they do take advantage of it when it comes, and it comes more often if you’re looking for it.

  • Subscribe to the newsletter (Click on the menu button at the top of this page) and to the podcast (Under “Content” above) to get more stuff like this right to your email and podcast player of choice!

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