The New Good Life – A Living Example of a Changed Story

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About 20 years ago, I read a book that truly changed my life. It was called Diet for a New America by John Robbins.

In subsequent years, I would come in contact with John Robbins many times through my studies of the health sciences and stints in the vegan and vegetarian worlds where he is a prominent speaker. Also, through my work with motivational guru Tony Robbins (no relation) who would feature John Robbins at his Training Certifications as someone who was changing the world.

John Robbins is the would-be heir to the Baskin Robbins fortune, who turned down that fortune for a rich, natural, self-sustaining life on an island living on $300.00 a month and the food he grew in his garden. He just couldn’t support an enterprise that was promoting ill health and heart disease.

He is a leading force in the food revolution where people are learning how their diet will not only save their life but also the world. The founder of Earthsave International, his nonprofit organization, he is an example man who has truly changed the lives of millions, including this author. He is also a living example of someone who knows how to change his story to support well being.

The Story Changes
We are all familiar with the events in 2008 when the economic meltdown saw many people’s dreams go up in smoke; John Robbins saw this decline go a lot further. He had the bulk of his wealth invested with Bernie Madoff, who was named by Newsweek in 2009 at the greediest human being to have ever walked the earth. He understandably got caught up in the Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of intelligent investors of some $20B dollars.

Can you imagine working your whole life, building a nest egg, supporting your family including extended family members with special needs, and then, in the blink of any eye your wealth is gone?

Recently, I read John Robbins book The New Good Life, Living Better than Ever in the Age of Less. Immediately, I thought to myself while scanning the book; this is such an incredible living example of a changed story and a man’s effort not to get caught in the potentially toxic shame of a bad story, but rather to understand his situation and find a new life story; a process that is less about one of heroics and what pop psychology would call a “success story” and more one of an intention that took time to play out, but played out better nonetheless.

In his words:

“I felt waves of shame. I had let my family down. I had put all our eggs in one basket. I had made a lot of money over the years, saved it diligently, had created financial security for my family, and now it was suddenly all gone. It seemed impossible for us to keep our home. Would we end up on the street? What would happen to the twins?

Reeling in shock an pain, I realized I had to mobilize and to act, and do it quickly. I had to cope, not mope. I had to find a way to experience my grief as a strength, rather than as a vulnerability or a weakness. Bernard Madoff stole our money, but I wasn’t about to let him steal the rest of our lives.”

John Robbins and his family took drastic steps which you can read all about on page 25 of the chapter Rags and Riches in his book, but I submit none of this would have been possible if he had not first looked at his situation and figured out a way to morph his thinking in a way supportive of a new and better life, amidst the strain of such incredible loss.

It’s likely no new way of looking at things caused complete relief for him or his family, as no new story (way of thinking) can do that in one fell swoop any way, but by focusing on positive aspects, as my friend Esther Hicks would say, John Robbins found a more supportive way to lead and live a new and better life, easing the pain of his loss… little by little.

Perhaps no one was going to let John Robbins fail, for he’s done so much for so many; the world would come to his aid to at least a certain degree; but the truth is, without a supportive story and quick action, that ‘certain degree’ would not be enough, and the impact of that event could have landed he and his family on the street.

John Robbins is living “The New Good Life”, better, in an age of less for him and many others because he chose to turn his vulnerable situation into a strength and inspire others to do the same. He was in the boat himself and a new story about his life, one that could support a good life still, is what he ultimately arrived at. It didn’t happen in 5 quick steps, it happened in stages, like we talk about in the book, with a great deal of support and most of all, lots of empathy in genuine relationship with others.

He had every right to beat the doldrums and he had the story to support it, and I’m sure he beat those drums on occasion. I think beating the doldrums has a place and a purpose. Perhaps, it helps us understand the story, and it’s consequences and how it makes us feel, but ultimately John Robbins in this example, put a new story into play. He recognized the value of transparency not cover-up and today, he is inspiring others to live a new, good life. The antithesis would have been to talk about how bad things were, which would have been a curse, for a capable person like John Robbins.

This is not about merely being positive, it’s about re-storying your life or some aspect of it, in a way that will work for you and others, not against you. Getting free of an unsupportive story, especially one that is built on inaccurate information as Dr Ciaramicoli is taking about throughout the book, leading to a distorted view of yourself (like looking into cracked mirror) is the very essence of changing your life; for it is the stories we tell about our life that mostly determine our experience.

Reading this book is most certainly one of the best examples I have ever read of a man living a changed story because it had just clear lines and consequences, and it reminds me to look at other areas in my own life where I am telling stories about my life or various circumstances within it, that don’t support my well being. It can do the same for you.

The curse of a capable person is a story that does not support you, where are you telling stories that don’t support you and the life experience you want. Wrapped up in that story, are the aspects you need to address and change.

John Allen Mollenhauer

Filed Under: Book Excerpt

About the Author

John-Allen Mollenhauer (aka “John Allen” or “JAM”) is the co-author of the book The Curse of the Capable, (Fall 2009) by Harvard Psychology Instructor Arthur P Ciaramicoli PhD. He is a leading lifestyle performance coach and founder of both PerformanceLifestyle.com where he works with goal oriented people (working parents, professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs) who learn how to get free of the hidden challenges to a balanced, healthy high achieving life by improving their lifestyle. Also an entrepreneur, he has created many solutions for people who want to learn the next level in healthy living, such as ManageYourEnergy.com, NutrientRich.com and MyTrainer.com. He appears frequently on radio and television shows, including Comcast CN8, WTBQ, Air America, MoJo Radio, and others. He is a featured speaker at the Annual CoachVille Conference, the National Health Association Annual Conference, and the Monkey Bar Gym Fitness Chain. He speaks at corporations and business conferences including all types where listeners and attendees discover Performance Lifestyle. He is a regular contributor to the award winning Health Science Journal.

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