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Should You Give Away All Your Possessions? Answers From A Man Who Did It

Meet Joel Nelson, he was extremely wealthy and successful in the western sense of the world, but he was unhappy. So he gave away all his possessions and meditated, did yoga and learned about Buddhism everyday for 3 years. Now he is back to making his way through the world, only this time wants to do it in an ethical way.


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Here are some bullet points that we talked about in the episode

  • He felt unfilled and hopeless, despite being a very wealthy Hedge fund manager.
  • Depression is a feeling of hopelessness a cycle that will go on forever
  • You need someone or someone’s in your life that you love more then yourself, including looking forward to the future
  • What you are experiencing now in the moment will not last for ever, so though you may feel depressed right now it won’t last forever
  • He had everything planned out to kill himself and his dog snoop saved him by giving him just a second to think about what he was about to do
  • Realized it wasn’t the solution, then he was lost for a while before
  • Doesn’t believe in an afterlife, but there is that tiny chance if he killed himself he would enter an endless cycle of hell that would last forever
  • A year later he began to correlate money with unhappiness, but it’s a false contruct
  • Money can be used as a tool, its neither bad nor good
  • Got rid of all his money, his thinking became more clear and he was less cluttered mentally
  • But the problem is without money its hard to fix poverty, you can’t cure poverty if your in poverty
  • Its hard to make money ethically, but now he is trying
  • Spent his time learning about Buddhism and meditating and yoga
  • Yoga has been one of the biggest things that changed Joels Life (I agree with this)
  • And now western medicine has also agreed to it
  • Yoga is all about being in the moment, you feel pain but that pain is not you, you realize you are not the pain in your back right now or your body.
  • The more you don’t want to do yoga is probably the more you need to do it
  • Everything in life is either postivively asymetical or negatively asymetircal
  • Positive asymmetrical – infinite upside fixed down side
  • Negatively Asymmetrical – infinite downside fixed upside
  • People will do anything to avoid uncertainty, this is a flaw with our way of thinking
  • We use to get good safe jobs, but those jobs are not really good or safe anymore.
  • With corporate jobs there is no positive asymmetry you can top out pretty quickly
  • Most nontraditional paths are positively asymmetrical – fixed downside infinite upside
  • Think about all your decisions is it positive aymetircal or negative symmetrical
  • For instance podcasts are very positively asymmetrical
  • For me quiting my job was very positively asymmetrical
  • Money is infinite, time is fixed
  • How you are rewarded and what is seen is successful is changing, how are we going to spent time on this planet is changing
  • Happiness is a interesting word and with a lot of wrong interpertations of what this means, it is better to have purpose and direction
  • the goal is not happiness the goal is purpose and direction
  • Yoga brough him from -100 to 0, but purpose brought him from 0 to 100
  • If you say you want happiness you are probably more interested in purpose and direction
  • You can’t go after happiness, but you can get as a side effect of purpose and direction
  • He came back to the “world” because he realized that this was too much of an extreme and just like Buddha preaches the middle way, poverty isn’t the solution and being obsessed with gaining wealth also isn’t the solution
  • Capitalism isn’t the answer either, its not sustainable according to Joel
  • Money is an accelerant, it can accelerate your destructive nature or it can accelerate your ability to help people out
  • You need a supportive group of people around you, finding a supportive group is extremely important
  • Don’t surround your self with yes man either
  • People around you will poke holes in your reasons when you want to change, find the people that encourage you , but not just yes men
  • Joel started an outsourcing business Zen Virtual Assistants, he did this with an effort to start a business to make money in an ethical way
  • All the global problems in the world stem from people acting in an unsustinable way
  • One of the best ways to stop some of the negative changes going on in the world is to impower women
  • He started his business to do something sustainable and positive
  • The definition of an artist is
    Doing real, human, generous work…that might not work…but if it does, will make a positive difference in someone else’s life….” and this is a great motto to live your life by
  • The suffering is what changed him to be what he is today, and he wouldn’t change a thing
  • His advice to anyone in depression is this moment will pass, and this depression is not who you are
  • Your brain is playing tricks on you when you depressed, these feelings are not you
  • If you kill yourself you are robbing the world of the positive change you can make on the world
  • People that are content with things, never created anything, its people that are discontent with something that move the world forward.
  • If your depressed write down what you want and everyday take a small step forward

More on Joel

To find out more about his Indiegogo campaign click here

Or if you want to learn more about joel check out the zen virtual assitants podcast and Zen Investing Podcast

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