That's the million dollar question right there, right?
The quick answer is… A Hellagood Life is just another name or idea for living your best, most rewarding, and fulfilling life. For living the life of your dreams. For sustainable happiness and love and powerful coping tools. Yes, these ideas are a quick thought on what a Hellagood Life may look like.
So how does one do that? How am I qualified to share this kind of info? Well, keep reading. Let me tell a few stories and experiences I’ve lived that took me from some serious lows in life, ignorance of solid ways to live my best life, to actually finding systems and practices that allow me to live a pretty fulfilling life. Trust me, it isn’t what I thought.
On a side note: My son and I used his lego mini-figures to represent our family and this creative engagement touches on two areas – relationships with others and spending quality time together. Now let me give some back story and some struggles.
Life is an interesting thing. We often never think about it unless something is going wrong. Sometimes we think of goals or what we want and then we think about it a bit. Other times we think… what do we need to give up in order to get that big thing we want or why me? Why don’t I already have the perfect life I want? Am I right? It might be career related or building a successful business, or maybe weight loss or that solid six-pack abs, or maybe finding a person to spend your life with or building a happy family.
I’ve been on a journey for sometime now to seek a deeper understanding of the meaning of life, why I’m here, how can I make my life better, etc. I got caught up chasing a lot of things that I thought would help me create a great life. Anyone ever go down that philosophical rabbit hole? If you have maybe you’ve found an answer, if you haven’t maybe you are still pondering or maybe you never gave any of this much thought. If you think hearing a brief life story and then the tools and ideas I used for my own answer to life’s questions, then keep reading.
In my twenties, I got a job in my field (advertising), a few months out of graduating art school. Getting that first career job was exciting. At 22 or 23 I thought this was the beginning of becoming an adult and… it was. At the same time I was still partying like crazy. Every weekend was about doing things with friends during the day and then finding a bar or party to get wasted. I assumed it was partly to have fun and cut loose, and partly to find the next achievement in adulting, in my case… seeking a girlfriend.
The job was great for teaching me the ropes of the ad business, but most of all I enjoyed the people. My boss and 2-3 coworkers were all older and there were no other twenty-somethings at this company. From there, I then moved from this small agency to a small web boutique filled with young kids blazing the path of the internet. It was fun being cutting edge and around a bunch of young folks and being highly creative. Soon the web firm’s biggest corporate client bought us out and tried turning us into corporate cogs in the bigger machine. Again, fine for a while and I learned a lot.
After a few years though, the corporation ran the webshop into the ground. At this point I went out on my own, where in 1999 I started my own design and marketing firm. I’ve been doing that for a few decades now. Being on my own, I learned a lot about life and about business and honestly, a lot about my self and my strengths and weaknesses. I did a ton of personal development over this time and read a lot of books on business and personal development.
I was on a journey to create the most kick ass life and business possible. For many years I did that. I was living the dream and making good money. I was however moving further and further from partying and hanging with friends. I mostly was focused on finding a potential wife (and hopefully one that could help me build the business).
Then I relocated my business from PA to TX and things changed. In 2002 TX was really dealing with the recession which I wasn’t noticing at home. Since I was unable to fall back on tricks I used at home I basically had to pivot and build a business from scratch which meant no more freelance work to fill the pipeline. I joined the Chamber of Commerce and started hustling like crazy. I did pretty good and learned to build a business from scratch, market, and sell like crazy to survive as I realized, I really didn’t know as much as I thought I knew about business. I was grinding hard and working all kind of hours including evenings and weekends, or even on vacations. I loved what I did so it was easy to work like crazy. In this time I got married and was ready to start a family. Following the standard playbook we are all given.
Anyhow, a decade or so later I had a downturn in business, after some other rough personal times, and a traumatic life experience or two (one was getting my car stolen in front of my house and nearly catching the guy in the act, but he got away). Anyhow, I hit some rocky roads and this wasn’t sweet like the ice cream. I had some seriously rough times. The blessings of these times though was I was able to dig in more about why we are all here, what’s the meaning of life, what makes us happy, etc, etc. When I say “us” and “we” here, I really meant “me” or “I”. Actually it also turned into what I now learned was post traumatic growth, which is just a clinical way of saying… I found a way to turn my life struggles into positive tools to improve my life and other’s lives.
In this time I came up with my WHY or what I define as my purpose in life – to challenge people to become innovative leaders so that we can change the world together.
I’ve worked on my purpose for roughly a decade. This was no easy task. I kept thinking things like “lifestyles of the rich and famous” (said in a Robin Leach voice), and was misguided in my search. My current version though worked for my business and personal life. This one I could do if I was rich or poor. This one was at my core who I really am. I like teaching or helping people see things in new ways and I love working to make the world a little better. This alone was not enough to dig me out of my struggles though.
Another thing I realized was that we are social creatures and life is better with community than it is alone. Although I had part-time employees from time to time and quasi-partners in business at times, I spent many years going it alone. My business education was teaching me that we can do more with a group than we can going it alone. This is true in business culture building or on a personal level through neighboring or other supportive groups. So I focused on building communities as this can make change quicker. Being social creatures, and having my first kid, I realized it actually does take a village to raise a child or even a healthy adult. I also realized I was desperate for a stronger community in business and in my personal life.
Beyond this, I learned I was perpetually chasing things that I thought would bring me happiness. After getting what I wanted, I was happy for a short time and then the goal of happiness or success moved and I had to chase the next big thing. This chasing has a name, it is called “the hedonic treadmill“. Click the link to learn more about it from one of my other articles.
Anyhow, running on the hedonic treadmill is exhausting and certainly not what a Hellagood Life is all about. To change this, I studied or thought about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs a lot. What did I NEED? What did I want? How were the two different?
A Hellagood Life is one focused on seeking sustainable happiness, joy, calm, peace, and love. To get these things one must stop looking externally and start looking internally. This was part of the transformation or the transition.
So now let me share thoughts on how to accomplish a better work/life balance and more sustainable happiness and wellbeing. Anyone can do this, including you.
Step 1: Understand Our Needs & How To Meet Them
In my time of struggle, my research brought me to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and I thought about this a lot. The first step to create a Hellagood Life is to make sure all your needs are being met. Your PHYSIOLOGICAL needs are the basic things in life. They are… air, water, food and these items are why I am so passionate about global warming and fighting for the planet’s health because it obviously relays to our own health. Then there are things like shelter, good sleep, clothes, sex, homeostasis, and excretion. Obviously this reminds me of things like poverty again a thing I try to fight against because it serves us all. Other things are body related and it seemed to me, we didn’t have much control over those, but you’d be surprised how much diet, exercise, and meditation can actually help these seemingly automatic functions of the body. But the sleep thing is still something I struggle to get under control now that I have kids waking at all hours and, well, an overactive mind. Anyhow, I wrote another article focused just on What Is Physiology and Why You Should Care About It if you’d like to dig deeper on our Physiological Needs. I also wrote an article on heart disease as this is the number 1 killer in the US and some areas of this killer can be minimized and are in the physiological stage.
This brings us to SAFETY. If we are feeling unsafe or struggling with a job or income or health you can see how this could be harmful to everyday living and highly stressful to say the least. I wrote an article in the thick of the pandemic on how it related to what we were dealing with in the pandemic at that time, and how I personally was struggling with lack of safety when TX shutdown due to freezing weather and rolling blackouts. You can start to also see these things kind of build on one another.
The next need is LOVE and BELONGING. This was one I overlooked as I was trying to create a lifestyle where I was the only source of the results I was creating. I moved cross-country for potential love, which panned out thankfully, and a way to grow my business, which I did in many ways. What I missed though was daily connection as I didn’t have many friends locally. I had business contacts and church contacts which were great, but I didn’t have folks that loved music and going to see bands, I didn’t have a crew to go out and hit the wilderness with regularly and so I can now say, looking back, I was not meeting my needs in some areas and this was part of what lead me to my depression when other things hit. I wrote and article about The Importance of Belonging and Community for our Wellbeing which really digs into this stuff and I’m kind of proud of. I now have a several outlets for connecting with people on a regular basis.
Next is ESTEEM and although I love Maslow’s ideas, I like the idea that goes a bit beyond Self-Esteem. I’ve recently learned ways self-esteem can be harmful and a way to overcome the harmful bits of self-esteem is by exploring Self-Compassion. This area also has confidence, achievement, respect of others and respect BY others. So again, although I was doing a lot of things right, self-worth was another part of the challenge.
Lastly, Maslow moves to SELF-ACTUALIZATION. This covers morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts. I’d say over the last decade, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and exploring of this area without really knowing that is what I was doing. Some of these things I have been doing from the early days of starting a business, like – creativity and problem solving.
Anyhow, it is important to understand what are needs are and ways to meet them. It’s also important to understand that you do not master one are and then the next and keep moving up the pyramid. At anytime you might have multiple stages dialed in and then you may totally neglect certain stages. Basically things are dynamic and changing as you and your life change.
The next step is building a lifestyle of resilience and wellbeing to nurture our needs.
Step 2: Building a Lifestyle of resilience and wellbeing
So if you read a few of my articles or watched a few of my videos (or even only this article), you probably have heard me talking about my depression. I share this often to normalize things because there is a huge stigma around mental health and depression and honestly, it is very common that folks will have at least one challenging time fighting depression in their life. It’s also important to know the average percentage of folks dealing with depression right now is higher than you may know, mostly because we don’t talk about this stuff. I share parts of my whole story to give context. Your story may be similar or different, but I believe your outcome can be similar to mine by building a regular wellness or self-care practice.
In my time of depression I focused on building what I now call “a self-care routine”. At the time I didn’t have a name for what I was doing. I was desperate and grasping at straws. I did a lot of things like walking, listening to positive music, watching positive movies or videos, reading positive books, eating healthy, exercising, getting good sleep (or trying to), getting vulnerable and asking for help, hugging more, getting sun time, taking vitamins, I joined a Toastmasters Group, I joined an accountability group for my business, I cut out negative people, I started finding gratitude, I started meditating, I tried to talk to friends and family as much as possible and I numbed out with social media, games, and other stuff when I felt overwhelmed by this stuff. In this time I also worked on defining my life purpose.
Some of these practices were long lasting and I still do today… like walking and meditation and using my life purpose to guide things, but several fell to the wayside. Your journey too will probably include trying different things and finding the ones that work for you. I am focused right now on building different strategies to help all kinds of different people to build their own wellness practice.
When it comes to self-care there are things like exercise (yoga was one I added, oh yeah walking and biking were others I used) and eating right, getting enough sleep, and adding time to relax. These main ideas mostly help the body. Other ideas can be working on your coping skills and learning to meditate daily. These ideas can build a stronger mindset. Other ideas are implementing gratitude regularly, getting out in nature, or finding a spiritual outlet to connect to your inner spiritual side.
Then there are relationships. It’s important to be or get connected to some community that fulfills and supports you. Don’t forget the do the self work because it is easy to overlook the relationship you have with yourself. Explore personal healing and self-compassion work. Then there are your loved ones, are we giving them quality time with us? Are there ways to improve this? What about working on communication skills could this help our relationships? Then there is setting boundaries and learning to say “no”. Lastly, we can also address our relationships in the community. Are we doing any volunteer work? Do we have a support group to lean on and also offer our support to?
These are some different ideas to think about for building out your own wellness program and practice daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Do you have a lot of these ideas dialed in and are you practicing them on a regular basis? If not, you may be doing okay now as I was, but if the tides turn you may find out as I did that I most certainly didn’t have a Hellagood Life intentionally built for myself. I was flying by the seat of my pants and only after a perfect storm hit me did I find out how weak my wellness program was. BUT… here is the good news, by putting my program in place, I had very little devastation in life due to the Covid Pandemic. It still sucked at times, but overall I coasted through with minimal effort. I share this as there could not be a better test of a wellness system than the global pandemic, and the race and political issues of 2020. It was a bit of another perfect storm of chaos and I took it all in stride and you can too if you have a solid wellness program in place.
Through my hardships, I only want to help people NOT. EVER. EXPERIENCE. WHAT. I. WENT. THROUGH. Ha! Sorry for the shouting to grab your attention, but I feel you are worthy of the best life possible. I think all people deserve a life they are excited to pop out of bed in the morning and take on the day. I think all people deserve to thrive in life and have a job that feeds their soul and makes them wear a big goofy grin all days even on the tough days. I think all people deserve to be dealt a crappy hand and just take a deep breath and keep moving in spite of what just happened. I think all people deserve a community of friends and family and community that supports them and lifts them up in times of struggle. I wish all of these things and so much more for you! Get out there and create your own Hellagood Life by being authentically you and your absolute best self!
Recommended reading for finding your purpose in life…
Want to try adding mindfulness to your self-care routine to overcome those hella-bad times and the hard life struggles? Click below to get details about getting started creating the life of your dreams with the SELFCARE mindfulness course and mindfulness coaching if you need some extra support.