Fast cars. Beautiful women. Yachts. Beach houses. Olympic size pools. Horse shoe-shaped driveways. Jets. Travel. Fancy restaurants. Drinks with umbrellas in them. My empire. Basically an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the show I used to watch every Sunday as a kid growing up in the 80’s. That’s what an extraordinary life looks like. Right? It represents America, capitalism, and what everyone imagines as “the good life.”
This glossy poster has been tacked to the front of my mind since I was twelve. Maybe media put it there. Maybe it was watching my parents grind sixteen hours a day, mom being held up many times working at a convenience store when we first came to America. Or dad growing up making his own shoes and stealing rice because his family was so poor. Or maybe it was this place, tinsel town. Growing up in Los Angeles, running a scenic supper club and being surrounded by models, bottles, and hundred thousand dollar cars. I don’t know. But that image has fueled me to work hard and build something. Well, a redefinition of that image. Because it has also been the reason why I haven’t been happy for most of my life. Happy was tightly tied to these things, contingent on if this poster turned into reality.
Trying to trace that blueprint has created giant cliffs of expectation and disappointments. I’ve learned that at 43, the things I was chasing weren’t real. I mean, shiny things do exist. But that is not where happy lives. Those are just by products of happy. Happy lives in the crevices of the grit, the feeling of accomplishment after a sixteen hour work day, pushing pass turbulence in your relationships, dirty hands, sweat in your eyes, the long and bumpy road to executing an idea, staking your ripped up flag on the mountain top, the burn of building something meaningful, knowing you’ve helped someone who you didn’t think or you didn’t think you could help, realizing for a brief moment that you’re not who you used to be.
Happy is sprinkled in the uphill battle, the grind, the unknown. Not the momentum on the way down.
But don’t get me wrong. That poster still exists. It’s brighter more now than ever, framed with bright pink neon like a movie. And just because I’m a therapist or in wellness doesn’t mean I can’t like things. That’s bullshit. But my poster holds new definitions today. Here, I’ll show you what an extraordinary life looks like to me currently. And I say currently because it changes. Not just for me. For everyone. And that’s okay. It should always be changing. Or you’re not changing.
I’ve always loved cars. I collected Hot Wheels as a kid. Tricked out Hondas and VWs as a teenager. My love for cars isn’t going to go away nor do I want it to. It just looks differently now. My cars today can have two wheels. They’re called motorcycles. I know I just said happy doesn’t live in things and I believe that. But things produce experiences and experiences can produce nectar, and having lots of nectar in my life significantly contributes to my happiness. For example, hugging canyons on a motorcycle. Taking a vintage Jeep off roading. Redlining a Porsche or Audi R8 I suspect does as well. I will see one day. It’s less about having the toys and more about the feeling one gets from experiencing them. I don’t want motorcycles, vintage Porches, and trucks for the sake of having things. I love machines and the way they make me feel.
I still love beautiful women but my definition of beauty has changed. When I was younger, I placed a lot of weight on aesthetics as many boys do. Today, I still have to be attracted to someone on a physical level but beauty means support, communication, great banter, humor, eye contact, having your own life, fitness, wellness, an appreciation and love for your body, self awareness, being open and non-judgemental, believing in things greater than yourself and your wants, standing for something, vulnerability, commitment, responding not reacting to life turbulence, and the ability to love hard.
I’d rather have a house in the hills where I can wake up early each morning and look out at the sprawling city naked, and have friends over at night eating Korean bbq on my customized picnic tables with the glittering hive behind us.
Olympic size pools.
Size doesn’t matter. A small pool would be nice.
Horse shoe-shaped driveways.
Would rather start a non-profit with that money.
I’ve never really been anywhere save the time I went to Italy after my divorce. So I have a lot of stamps to collect on my passport. Or do I? Because travel doesn’t have to mean third world countries and exotic locations. Motorbiking across the country from Los Angeles to New York would be a great travel experience. My new definition of travel is more about the mindset and less about the destination. Being open to and exploring culture, people, environment, whether it’s one city over or the other side of the world, is the new definition of well traveled. Although I would love to visit places like Bali, Rome, Korea, the travel visual on my extraordinary life poster is a man walking with an open mind.
It’s less about fancy and more about the experience of finding hole in the wall place with great food. Diners with jukeboxes. Eating breakfast for dinner. I enjoy going out to eat. I always have. This is something I had guilt over when I was struggling in my twenties and thirties. But today, it makes me happy so it’s threaded into my life. I don’t see it as wasteful because the experiences bring me joy.
Drinks with umbrellas in them.
I’d rather have a cold beer.
There’s an arrogance to that word that I don’t like. I have no interest in being Kayne East. But I do want to build things that benefit others. I want to be a catalyst, one domino in someone’s journey. I want to be a prism. I want to hold hands with as many people as I can who believe in rebuilding ourselves through others. And if that means building platforms and companies, so be it.
The new billionaire is defined as reaching a billion people. Not having a billion dollars.
And that’s how I define my “empire”. Reach.
The biggest shift in my definition of extraordinary is -
Extraordinary is not about things.
Extraordinary is about experiences and meaning.
Where do you place meaning in your life? What experiences are you creating for yourself?
What does your extraordinary life poster look like?