Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional.

Pain is inevitable

Suffering is optional

How we think

How we talk

What habits we choose to practice

Cause most of our own suffering

The way out is to look deeply within

How am I causing my own suffering?

Why do I do what I do?

“There is no such thing as enlightened beings, only enlightened activities.”- Shunryu Suzuki

With Aloha,

Johnny

Peace Starts With Me.

Violence on my TV.

Hatred in the YouTube comments.

Fear of the great unknown.

This is the suffering of humanity.

So how can I help alleviate this suffering?

By inquiring within.

Within my violence & hatred.

Within my fear.

By showing compassion to darkness in my soul.

Peace will only be known if we become it.

Vulnerability: Our Biggest Strength.

Aloha,

Today’s blog post is about being vulnerable. Vulnerability is humanities greatest strength. It takes courage to be completely open and honest about our struggles.

Instagram & Facebook show us highlight reels of other people’s lives, which makes us feel like we aren’t living our lives to the fullest. There is a reason that studies show that heavy social media use is linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness. We only connect at a surface level in sharing our highlights. Full transparency allows us to connect at a much deeper level.

Everyone has hardships but we rarely (if ever) share them on social media. Why is that? Are we scared that others will pity or judge us? From my experience, others will support and open up to their struggles once we break the ice. Connecting with others in this way is special.

For the past 6 weeks I have been traveling New Zealand on a working holiday visa. I haven’t started the working part of that yet though! LOL. Its hasn’t been perfect though. I spent way more money than expected on my first month of traveling which has caused me anxiety. At times, I have felt lonely in my travels, even when many others were around. Lately I have been having a hard time dealing with boredom and lack of purpose with no job. Lots of self judgements and worrying about what others think of me. Slowly I’m excepting the fact that this is a sabbatical and I will find work in the new year. I need to show some faith in myself once more and enjoy my free time.

Our society could benefit from being more vulnerable with each other. It helps us feel more connected and compassionate to others. Vulnerability takes true courage and strength. We all share the human experience together, let’s help each other live the fullest life that we can.

What have you been struggling with lately?

Namaste,

Johnny Hoffman

Abandon Ship!

Unexpected storms.

Unbearable winds.

Unavoidable destruction.

 

Your ship is broken.

Years of neglect.

Storms breaking it piece by piece.

Abandon your ship.

Let go and go into the great unknown.

Dive deep into the darkness of the sea.

 

The water is coldest at the bottom.

Unbearable pressure.

Suffocating pain.

Keep going.

 

As the storm passes, you will see a light.

Follow it.

 

Do not get accustomed to the darkness.

Do not wish for your old ship to rise from the depths.

 

Through the pain, we can grow.

Through the suffering, we can heal.

 

As you reach the surface you smile.

New life has been given.

Gratitude shining from the sun.

 

 

As you wash ashore.

You’re full of joy.

Curious about this new island.

Excited about new adventures.

 

New beginnings have been given.

New experiences to enjoy.

sunny_island_by_anthonyavon-dbna92z

 

 

 

Innocent Living Beings.

fish-chicken-pig-cow-dog-web

By just being alive I will cause suffering in the world.

But I strive to negate as much as I can.

 

I vow to look at all living beings with compassion.

I vow to look at the suffering I cause in the world.

I vow to take action to alleviate suffering in all living beings.

 

Rape, torture, and death.

I see a tear go down a mother cows cheek.

I hear the last squeal of a suffering pig.

How we call ourselves peaceful while supporting such violence?

 

Blinded by industry lies.

Cold with apathy.

Myths.

Outdated traditions.

 

Wake up to compassion.

Wake up to peace.

Wake up to 2018.

A time of abundance.

A time where we don’t need animal products to survive.

 

 

There is another way.

A way of peace.

A way of compassion.

A way of love.

 

Will you join me?

b3c4f1e2a6ed55da1ae4bb3de6ad521e

56c0470375ee844ede1ed7dbad6f4dbd

 

 

 

vegan_love_peace_shirt2

 

 

 

The Broken Dam.

 

Pain.

Anger.

Confusion.

Suffering.

 

The pain of loneliness.

Isolation.

Fear.

 

Building up like water flowing into a mighty dam.

Cracks form.

The wall deteriorates.

Until one day the walls scream in pain.

 

The dam is broken.

Suffering overflows into the world.

 

The river mourns.

The birds cry.

Innocent beings swept away by the waves of suffering.

 

 

I have no answers.

Only questions.

 

How can we prevent suffering from spilling over?

How can we live in peace?

How can we heal our nation?

 

bf787b13-7cd7-4108-9d58-00712e5f060f-12797-00000d1fb3c24b82_tmp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome To Heartbreak.

I cried.

I begged.

I promised I would change.

I poured my heart out.

I suffered alone.

 

How could you not want me back?

Why can’t you forgive me?

How could you be so cold?

How could you be so heartless?

 

Welcome to heartbreak.

The heartbreak of rejection.

The sadness of regret.

The pain of looking in the mirror.

Self-hatred.

Anxious days.

Depressed nights.

 

Through the pain, I learned how to be the lotus flower.

For the lotus flower grows in muddy waters.

 

Through suffering comes joy.

Through suffering comes peace.

Through suffering comes transformation.

No mud, no lotus.

 

My heart is now filled with gratitude.

Thank you for letting me suffer and grow.

Thank you for letting me go three years ago.

Thank you, Alicia.

Hope all is well.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

Backstory: 3 years ago in Feb 2015 my life changed forever. I finally told my fiance that I cheated on her. She left me that day. I felt heartbroken, fearful, and anxious. I had to sit with myself. Sit with the anxiety, pain, and loneliness. Sit with the self-hatred. Through that suffering I found a new way of life. A one of meditation, mindfulness, and joy. 

no-mud-no-lotus.jpg

 

 

(Main photo: Kanye West, 808’s & Heartbreaks)

 

 

Resistance: The Root of Pain, Suffering, and Insanity.

We are either resisting life or accepting it.

Whether that be sitting in traffic, aging, sickness, or our own mortality. Many ignore the truth and live in an imaginary world of what life is supposed to be or should be. Anytime you say should or suppose to be, you are resisting the truth. Resistance to the truth of life causes suffering. So why do people choose resistance? Accepting the truth is scary while resisting gives us a false sense of security and control. It’s easier in the short-term to avoid or resist aging, disease, and death than accept it. In the long-term, it can cause a tremendous amount of suffering within you and the world.

Suffering = Pain x Resistance 

  • The world should be at peace, but it isn’t.
  • My parents should be supportive, but they’re not.
  • I shouldn’t be stuck in traffic, but I am.
  • Relationships aren’t supposed to be this difficult, but it is. 

Here is an example that will show you exactly what I’m talking about.

Jack and Jill are both studying for a Biology final at Harvard. Both don’t enjoy studying, it causes them both mental and physical pain to sit down for 5 hours in a room. They would rather be outside on a hike or hanging out with friends. Jill accepts that this necessary to pass the class while Jack resists and complains the whole time. Jill is at peace and actually enjoying studying, taking breaks to watch Netflix or call a friend. Jack sulks and stares at the book. They are both in the same exact situation, only Jill accepts the pain of studying and makes the best of it.

The most impressive study of acceptance vs. resistance is Victor Frankl’s story in his 1959 book Man Searching for Meaning. Victor Frankl was an Austrian Jewish neurologist, psychiatrist, and holocaust survivor. While at Auschwitz concentration camp he kept himself sane by studying fellow inmates behavior and noticed an astonishing correlation. Those prisoners who accepted their truth and found meaning were both healthier and happier than those who resisted their new life. Their suffering was caused by their resistance to life and not mere outside influences. If someone can find peace, purpose, and meaning in Auschwitz concentration camp there is hope for all of us.

But Johnny, shouldn’t we resist harmful situations?? Isn’t acceptance just giving up? I don’t want to lay down and give up!

I understand this perspective because I once believe that acceptance was giving up but nothing is further from the truth. We must accept our situation before we can make it better. The people who accepted their captivity in Auschwitz were not merely giving up but awakening to that they have no control over being prisoners in a concentration camp. What these prisoners did have control over was how they spent their time, how they perceived their circumstance, and to make the best out of it. They saw resistance as a waste of energy on what they could not control. Accepting the truth is both practical and logical for peace within.

Paradoxically, we must accept suffering before we can transcend it. We have to accept our suffering before we can be at peace with ourselves and the world. Accept that you have no control over other people’s actions and beliefs. Accept that everything is impermanent and that we can only control a small amount of our life.

Try to avoid all should or suppose to be statements. Ease your grip on life and how it’s “suppose” or “should” be. More acceptance and less resistance is key to a peaceful life with less suffering and more joy.

My mission is to alleviate suffering in all living beings.

“What we resist, will persist.” – Carl Jung

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

 

Staying Present: Breaking Free of Stress and Rumination.

Stay present. I’m sure you have all heard this cliche phrase, but what does it mean and why is it important? Nothing could be more important to your life than staying present in the moment. Nothing more crucial to your happiness. The present moment is all that we are guaranteed. Life is short and we must make the best of what we are given. Every moment is a blessing.

Suffering occurs when we worry about the future or ruminate over the past. I have struggled with this my entire life. My mind has been trained to obsess about the past and future while I suffer in the present moment. I’m not saying that thinking about the past and future is all bad. Our past can guide us to make better decisions in the present moment. The future can excite us and motivate us to make better actions now. The key words are actions and now. The past and future mindset is much like a treadmill, lots of effort but you haven’t moved forward. Let’s start training our minds to stay in the present 90% of the time while letting our past guide us and our future excite us the other 10%!!!

Now take a breath, look around, and enjoy this moment. Start to get outside of the constant mental chatter of the mind and enjoy life. The peace and joy that comes in the moment feel amazing. Think of the joy of being in an amusement park or doing something new. It’s pure bliss.

You might be asking how I stay in the present moment? I go on long walks, meditate, and practice mindful breathing. I stop periodically and ask “what am I doing right now?”. In those moments of full presence, I feel truly alive and awake. Peace and joy are the by-products of the present moment. I want all of you to live a more meaningful life.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

Gambling: Just One More Hit.

As a child, I would bet on anything. I once bet my friend $10 that it wouldn’t rain that day. I played Poker with my friends every week and would illegally play online Poker through PokerStars when I was 13 years old. I was so happy to turn 18 years old so I could go to the Indian Casino. I went to Vegas every 6 months from age 21-23.

I want to be vulnerable with my readers. I believe vulnerability is our biggest strength. Here is my open and honest story of my addiction to gambling.

I struggled with being addicted to gambling all throughout my early adulthood. From 18-24 years old I probably lost more than 10 thousand dollars on Blackjack, Poker, and online sports gambling.  My family and friends knew I liked to gamble but didn’t realize how far gone I was. I hid my gambling addiction very well from my family because how ashamed I was of it. I knew I was out of control but didn’t know how to be open and honest about my problems. I was a man, and men don’t talk about their pain and struggles. I felt angry, alone, and depressed with no one to turn to. I couldn’t play the victim card because this was all self-induced suffering. This made me feel worthless and even more ashamed of the man I had become.

At my worst, I was gambling 7 days a week. I would do anything to get my high and to escape my life. I would max out my debit card limit and get $500 more from a high-interest cash advance. I remember leaving the casino depressed, stressed, and on the verge of a mental breakdown. I would yell “FUCK” as loud as I could in my car until my voice would crack and tears would roll down my cheek. This would be the average self-dialog after a loss while driving home.

You’re pathetic. How could you lose again? You piece of shit! What the hell are you thinking?!? Fuck life and everything. You don’t deserve Alicia (fiance). You don’t deserve anything! You’re worthless! You can’t tell anyone about this. Think of a lie…….. (one hour later)……I get paid Friday, I’ll win it back!!! Yeah, Ill win it all back and stop playing. I’ll win 1K and not play for a while. 

I would repeat this cycle of anger, shame, and denial. Gambling wasn’t the deep issue though, it was the symptom of a larger problem. I only gambled because I felt alone and depressed about my own life. Gambling was a coping mechanism for depression and anxiety. I felt so alive at the blackjack table and all my worries would momentarily go away. I was always looking forward to going to Las Vegas every 6 months. Like any addiction, I was chasing that high of dopamine. Soon I was betting $200 a hand on blackjack. There was one night that is stuck in my memory and shows how far my addiction had come.

In early 2012 I was planning on buying my girlfriend an engagement ring. This was at the peak of my addiction. I thought it would be a good idea to go gambling with the $3,000 cash I had taken out to buy the ring. I go to my usual Casino and put $500 dollars on blackjack. I figure I could win some more money and buy a bigger ring, a delusional justification. I was gambling because I love my girlfriend… Our minds can justify any bad decision. Anyways, I lose the $500 quickly and start putting more and more money on the table. Suddenly I’m down from $3000 to a total of $100. It’s 1am already and I’m in a deep fog, I say fuck it and go all in and win. I kept doubling my bet and kept winning. After 3 more hours of gambling, I get all my $3000 and leave the casino at 4am. I drive to the Bay Area immediately and buy the engagement ring. Sounds like a scene in a casino movie right?

Two years go by and I graduate from college. I was so busy with work, college, and my fiance that I didn’t have time to gamble. I thought I was cured of my addiction and that I could start playing Draft Kings and Fan Duel. Both sites are legal online sports gambling that plays well for young men who like to play fantasy football. I graduated from Cal Poly and received $500 in graduation money from friends and family. I had so much free time now that I was done with college. I spent that time gambling on Draft Kings and becoming absolutely obsessed with trying to win money on NBA games. I was checking my phone at least 100 times a day, looking for those small dopamine rushes when my teams were playing well. After two months of online sports gambling, I had lost all my graduation money. I was deeply ashamed of myself and was contemplating suicide. I had been lying to my fiance already about my infidelity and my gambling addiction. I felt so alone and depressed that I couldn’t hold onto this pain anymore. I finally open up about my secret life to my fiance, family, and friends. I finally could heal myself of the deep emotional wounds that were festering inside my soul. Honesty and vulnerability are so powerful. Being vulnerable can help us connect with each other in a deep and profound human level instead of the vapid surface.

Being vulnerable is seen as being weak, but it’s actually our greatest strength.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman