Our experiences, if we do not take them for granted, can be the best lessons we have in our lives. In this episode, T.M. Hoy, the author of the bestselling book Lasting Happiness, takes us to his interesting roller coaster life—from being sent to prison for over sixteen years to learning shamanism, writing books, and so much more. With more time to have inner monologues in prison, he was able to discover the power of our consciousness to shape our reality or external environment. Be engrossed with Mark’s amazing advises about letting experiences guide you, re-centering yourself and staying grounded, being grateful, and cultivating the passion and meaning and life.
On this episode, we have a very wildlife story from T.M. Hoy. He is the author of the book, Lasting Happiness. He has one of the wildest life stories you’ll ever read about. T.M was a gemologist and worked in the jewelry business that took him places all over the world. While living in Northern Thailand, an acquaintance of T.M. has murdered his girlfriend. Fearful of the Thai police, T.M helped covered it up and when he can’t pay the bribe the Thai police demanded, he spent the next sixteen years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. T.M. almost died on five different occasions in the Thai jail from tuberculosis and food poisoning. After serving sixteen years in jail, T.M. wrote a book called Lasting Happiness, which dictates how little we need in life and goes over the fundamentals of living a happy life. I enjoyed this conversation with T.M. It’s not often you get to speak with someone who was wrongfully committed of a crime and spent more than half of his lifetime in jail. T.M. is very wise. He is very grateful for all of his life experiences. It was a true pleasure to interview him. The book is available on Amazon and all book-selling platforms. Please welcome, T.M. Hoy, who also goes by his middle name, Mark.
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Lasting Happiness With T.M Hoy
In this episode, we have T.M. Hoy, and he also goes by Mark. He is the author of Lasting Happiness and it’s an excellent book. I’m looking forward to reading it. Most importantly, he has a phenomenal life story that I’m very intrigued about and I can’t wait to jump into and know more about it. Mark, where are you from originally?
Originally, I’m from Mountain View, California, which is the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s an amazing little spot that so much has emerged from.
What were you into growing up?
I was very fortunate. I had a standard upper-middle-class upbringing. My father was a vice-principal of a high school. My mother was an English teacher. Everybody in my family is a professional. It’s a wonderful upbringing. We had summers up in the mountains. My grandparents both had cabins up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and we’d spend the summers up there and all of the holidays. The ’60s were a different time. The United States has changed dramatically since then. I was very fortunate, I had a traditional upbringing. My grandfather was a Biblical scholar and he taught me Latin and Greek when I was a child. I really got into mythology and spirituality very young. I studied the classics as well. All of that had an enormous influence later when I went through a lot of trauma and helped me emerge out the other side. I guess having a really excellent foundation with a good education and a lot of people that loved learning and respected learning that around me was a tremendous influence.
What were some of your early influences like mythological figures and books growing up that you gravitated towards?
If I had to pick one figure, I would have to say that I was deeply influenced by Carl Jung and Jung’s work and the whole idea of archetypes. There are a plethora of authors that I read that were absolutely fantastic, but if you had to pick one, I’d say Carl Jung was probably my greatest influence.
You were a Gemologist graduating from college.
I went to the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica. I was attending Cal State San Bernardino and I was pursuing a degree in psychology. I was working my way through college with jewelry and a good friend of mine said, “Why don’t you do what you love? Go into jewelry.” What he said resonated. I ended up getting certificates in Gemology. The way that it is there’s five different certificates that lead to becoming a graduate gemologist; diamonds, diamond grading, colored stones, colored stone grading and gem identification. I worked my way through that.
You don’t see many people going into that field roles. I haven’t.
No. It was because I was already making sterling silver jewelry, but I loved everything about that. I love gemstones, I love precious metals and making beautiful things with them. I ended up going ahead and doing that and working in the industry. I was very fortunate. I knew a lot of people that were interested in doing and having custom work done and I began traveling to Asia buying gemstones. Ultimately, I ended up settling there in Thailand. That was where I went down the rabbit hole. I was the fiscal conservator for a guy. I was responsible for him. I brought him with me to Asia on my second trip back there when I moved there the second time. I’d gone back and forth a couple of times.
What do you mean you were responsible for?
I was his fiscal conservator. He was on disability and he was illiterate. He couldn’t read or write. He was an alcoholic and drug addict. A dear friend of mine, Dr. John Jolly, begged me and said, “Please, will you take responsibility for this guy?” He had his own problems. He had his own hands full. I said, “I’ll do that.” When I left the United States, I was living in Palm Springs. I was going to go move back to Thailand and the guy couldn’t even use an ATM machine. With great reservation, I said, “I’m going to bring you over to Thailand. I’ll get you set up in a little garage.” He was a garage mechanic. I was partway through the plans to do that, to get him set up in his own little garage and a little shop. He was arguing all the time with my girlfriend. They didn’t like each other. I had met a woman in Bangkok and brought her with me to Northern Thailand.
She’s from that area over there?
She’s from Bangkok. One evening, I come back to the house and they had a violent argument and he had strangled her. I was terrified of the Thai police. I knew that they had tortured people in the past. They’re like a mafia, less than law enforcement. I began drinking and I panicked. Ultimately several hours passed and I realized I was complicit. I helped him cover up the murder. From that decision when the body was discovered a week later, because my house was right on the River Ping and we slid her into the river. When the body was discovered about a week later, the police weren’t even interested in prosecuting. They didn’t even want to prosecute. They just wanted bribe money. I had about $9,000 in the bank, but they wanted $20,000. They said, “We know you. You’ve been here for years. You’re a jeweler. Use the phone, call whoever you got to call, give us the money and go home. We don’t care.” I couldn’t come up with $11,000 and because of that, I spent the next sixteen years in prison.
The other man, did he get sixteen years as well?
Yes. The entire situation was identical.
What’s your initial reaction when you hear you’re going to prison in Thailand for sixteen years?
It wasn’t like we knew. I didn’t know what the timeline would be. It was a mystery.
Did you call anybody from the US? Can you do that?
I did. I called and it’s hard to explain, but I didn’t have anybody I could reach out to that I felt comfortable asking for $11,000. There were people that I contacted. There were a lot of folks that helped me ultimately. I was very good friends with the consul general there in Chiang Mai, Carl. He’s a great guy. There were people here in the United States that I knew that were dear friends, but there was nobody at that point that I could touch for $10,000 plus. A few weeks later, maybe a month and a half later, now it goes from being just in the police’s hands and I was transferred to the prison. Now, there’s a prosecutor involved and now there’s a judge and they want to get paid. They’re really angry because they’re convinced that I’m just being a tightwad. I’m a jeweler and they’re like, “Come on, make your calls.” They wanted $20,000 apiece. Now the price is $50,000, $60,000. There was no way I could up with that cash. Consequently, I went through their justice system and essentially, they did what they did because they were vengeful and angry that I didn’t pay them the bribe money, but they didn’t care about the case.
It was a mess from beginning to end. It was revelatory in that, when you go through that, when your entire life is completely wiped out and destroyed, what you end up with is clarity. When you have nothing, when everything has been stripped away from you and all that you’re left with is your life and even that’s in danger. I was surrounded by death and disease. At that point, an amazing thing happens, which is that if you dare to look at your life, if you are willing to look at yourself, which is painful and it’s difficult, but if you’re willing to do that, things become very clear because there are no distractions. There’s nothing in between you and the harsh reality that really surrounds us. It’s not harsh actually, but I’m saying if your life has been completely wiped away, you have that moment of clarity. I think that anybody that sits there, any readers that’s willing to even contemplate that for a moment will sense the emotional truth of that.
What were some of the everyday living conditions and challenges you faced in that prison?
I’ll give you an idea about the food. We had feral cats that roam the prison and they wouldn’t touch the food. Basically what they did was they had a fish market down the street and they had these cleaners that would come in every morning and sweep up the fish bones, the guts, the nasty bits and the rotten vegetables. They’d sweep it all into big containers. Instead of throwing it away, they brought it to the prison and they’d boil it. That was the soup. For the rice, the local farmers would get a tax write off for donating rice, but they would write off that claim they were donating the finest grade of Jasmine white rice. What they were really donating was the animal feed rice that went bad. That was what was brought in, boiled and given as food. The problem that occurred for many people, especially the Thais that couldn’t afford to pay bribes to get food in, was that they would eat the rice and it was still hard. As I’m sure you’re aware of these grains of rice sometimes would pierce the intestines and cause peritonitis, which is a horrible, painful death.
There was death from that. There was death from starvation. The slightest injury in the tropics, if it gets infected, it bloats up. There was a huge number of deaths from basic infections and amputations gone wrong. There was death from AIDS because that was rampant in Northern Thailand. I myself caught tuberculosis and barely survived it while I was there. I watched hundreds and hundreds, literally of people die all around me from many different things. It gives you insight. It’s horrifying when it’s happening, but it gives you a certain perspective. It makes you realize things. That was the value of it. I emerged on the other side a very different person from the one that went in.
What was your outlet? Did you start writing or exercise? What was your escape from that hell?
I was working very hard to try and raise the money to get out, because they always had that option open. I delved into all kinds of things relating to finance. I did write while I was there and that helped tremendously. I think more than that was I began practicing Shamanism with a very dear friend of mine, Tom Cartner, that I met there in prison and a great guy from Austria. We were reading a book called the Urban Shaman by Kahili King, which is a wonderful book about Hawaiian Shamanism. Also we’re reading the Carlos Castaneda series, The Teachings of Don Juan. Are you familiar with that series?
It actually sold many millions of copies. If you ever get a chance, you might want to look it up. Carlos Castaneda was a guy from Los Angeles back in the ’60s, who was studying anthropology. He came here to Tucson and ran into a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. He became basically an apprentice sorcerer. The whole series is about the nature of reality and basically how hallucinogens change reality. It’s also a very interesting insight into shamanism and Native American shamanism, in this case Yaqui Indian shamanism. We were reading those things and practicing them. That was what got me through that period of having that dear friend of mine and then looking at reality from a very different perspective and realizing that reality is not what we think it is. It’s much more malleable. It’s much more amenable to change through consciousness. Consciousness itself is somehow embedded in reality and can change it significantly.
That’s pretty amazing. I don’t want to say it’s like a psychedelic but in Thailand, they drink it out of the bowls. It’s like a root?
There’s Ayahuasca, but that’s down deep.
You were talking about shamanism and the different psychedelics that some of the shamans used to transform consciousness. Did you have any experience with any of that that was really eye-opening, that might’ve changed your perception of consciousness and reality?
Not really. We didn’t experiment with any drugs. There was a lot of marijuana floating around, but nothing that significant. It was the experiences themselves. For example, one of the things that we did was, we did a lot of meditation. We had some very strange experiences while we were in the hospital. We both ended up in the hospital. I had TB and Tommy had a bad bought with food poisoning. We were there together in the hospital and the things that happened there were very strange. I almost hesitate to get into it because it sounds very odd, but it was things that we realized that as we were practicing that reality would change.
I’ll give you one example. We were sitting one day on the lawn where they would lay out clothes to dry. It’s a major walkway in and out of the building. It was maybe 20-30 feet away from where the guards would sit. It was huge traffic every day, all day long. We sat there and we were contemplating the Journey To Ixtlan. Basically, the book is about a journey to a city that doesn’t exist. It’s a mythical city. We were talking about this and we walked our way through. We imagined and visualized walking through that journey and taking a journey to Ixtlan. We did that while we were sitting on this lawn.
There are people walking right by two feet away, three feet away from us all day. We were getting high, we were smoking a little bit of weed but nothing spectacular. There we sat all day talking and contemplating and visualizing this journey. 2:30 came and it was time to wrap up and people began getting ready for the end of the day. We walked to where we normally shower and everybody freaked out and they were like, “Where were you? We were looking everywhere for you. They dropped off money for you. Where were you?” We were like, “Are you crazy? We were sitting right by the gate. We were there all day.” Everybody swore up and down that they had chased all over looking for us that they thought that we had vanished somehow.
You guys were right there.
We’re not there physically. We were right at the gate to this building, but we weren’t there. Somehow that journey to Ixtlan had rendered us invisible. Weird things happened actually pretty often and there was very strange stuff. It lent to the power that deeper understanding that reality is not what we think it is. Reality is something that we bring into being that we ourselves, our entities, we interact with each other, we interact with the universe and the cosmos, but there’s much more play there. It’s not this firm, solid thing that we all believe. It’s much more amenable to change.
Do you think our consciousness can shape our external environment?
Absolutely, without a doubt. I’m not a fan of the whole The Secret books and all that stuff. Somehow the metaphysics don’t sit right with me. I certainly do agree and I think most quantum physicists would agree with me that the difference between the experiment and the experimenter doesn’t exist. The difference between the observer and the observed doesn’t exist. They’re intertwined some way, in a profound way that we don’t really understand yet.
Do you have any hypothesis of what you think is going on there?
Consciousness is interwoven with the fabric of the cosmos. Somehow or another there’s a resonance and that the two interact with one another. I think that you yourself have a tremendous amount of experience with this that positive people tend to have positive experiences in life. With negative ones, there are negative ones. It’s because of that energy interchange, I’m sure of it. There’s a lot of physical aspect to it. If you’re up-beat and you’re working hard and you’re doing your best, of course, you’re going to attract that into your life. There’s also an element there of the universe itself.
It is vibrating on that frequency. Mark, did you do your full sixteen-year-term or did you raise the money in time to get out of there?
No. What happened was I did five years there. I almost died several times. Each time was a revelation. Each time was an amazing experience.
Each time you almost died?
Yes and it was tremendous. I ended up going back to the United States, coming back and doing another eleven years in federal prison at the same charge, but just transferred back to the United States as a transfer.
You did the next eleven years in the US?
Yes, in federal prison. What happened towards the end of that period was this fantastic, amazing, glazing epiphany, this insight and it was always brought about by the close experience with death. That was it is so simple that happiness is right there in our reach. All it is having a healthy relationship with yourself and others. That’s it. How do you get that? That’s the hard part. That’s what my book talks about is giving people the tools to do that. That took about a dozen years of research to find all the different tools to make it happen. The insight itself came from those near-death experiences where I realized that happiness is not what we think it is. It has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with power. It has nothing to do with fame or youth or beauty or any of the things that we normally associate with happiness. To me, what came to be crystal clear was that if you have a healthy, nurturing relationship with yourself, if you care about yourself and love yourself, if you can get there, which is hard, then you can reach out and have those relationships with the ones around you that you care about and respect. If you have that, happiness is yours.
What you touched on too, one of the main words there being health, if you don’t have your health, you literally have nothing. I experienced it in a different situation than you. I had a bunch of concussions. For four years, I had brain fog and blurred vision and dizziness, severe fatigue. I couldn’t do any exercises. If I did two pushups, the whole room would start spinning and I have to lay down. I was like in a mental prison all the time. One of the things that you realize coming out the other side of that is if you don’t have your health, first and foremost, you don’t have the ability to be happy and enjoy life. Anybody that doesn’t have their health, all they want is one thing. They want their health back. When you get back to health, all the other things come into play that are meaningless, but that’s the profound effect that losing your health has on you. There’s only one thing that’s very important.
It’s what I talked about very briefly that you have to have your basic needs met and health is foundational for that. Beyond that, once those basic needs are met, what comes into play? The three things that create healthy relationships which are love, meaning and creativity. They’re all free. If you are willing to work for that, then you can have it and you can find contentment, you can find joy. It’s right here. It’s a matter of understanding that and then working towards the right things, having your priorities right. Many people chase and spend their lives chasing things that don’t bring you happiness.
Mark, from somebody that’s been from total rock bottom and made it out the other side, I’m sure there are times in your life where you do get complacent. Things get really good and the BS still sneaks in. How do you re-center yourself? It happens. It’s a constant battle to stay balanced and happy. You look healthy now. You look like you’re living a good life. I’m sure those everyday problems come back that was so meaningless to you all those years in prison. How do you find a way to re-center yourself and stay grounded?
One of the things that I benefit from is that experience was so traumatic that it never really leaves you. I find myself grateful all the time.
That was one of the first things I’ve noticed about you. You don’t see that in everyday conversation with people and it’s a light that shines through when you do see it. I did notice that one.
It’s very true in those simple things, having really neat music to choose and listen to the music I love, having the food that I choose to eat. We’re so blessed here in the United States and in the Western countries with the material wealth that we have that surrounds even people that are working-class like myself right now. It is that feeling of being grateful, gratitude and trying to help people. That keeps me grounded. I wasn’t a good person and I really didn’t do very much with my life before this. I always feel this urge to try and help, to try and make a difference and try and change the world for the better. I try very. I do my best in several different ways. There’s a gentleman named Paul Lowe. He lives in Spain, but he’s from Britain. We formed a charity called Speaking From Our Hearts. It’s about helping people that are in crisis to find what I call the path with heart, which is where your passions and the things you love, you marry those with your values and your visions. That’s what creates a life that’s worth living. We tried very hard to help people find that path and walk it.
How do you do that? That’s something I’m very involved with and there’s a lot of good projects we’re doing right now. There are other things that I do in my daily life, but I think to answer your question in a direct way, it would simply be that I don’t forget the experiences I’ve been through and I let them guide me in the sense that I am grateful for the basic things in life. I find that I’m very happy about that. A lot of joy flows from simple things like a beautiful sunset or a good bath or hop in the pool. There are a million things that bring a smile to my face every day.
I’m sure a lot of people ask you, how do you help them cultivate their passion and their meaning in life? A lot of people get there from a huge trauma and they’ve come out the other side in severe suffering. If you are lucky enough to come out on the other side of that, you experience this bliss. It’s a new lease on life. It’s a beautiful life. No matter what happens, life is pretty beautiful after that. For someone that doesn’t have that extreme suffering, how do you help them cultivate their passion and their purpose in life?
That is straight forward. To find your passion, to find what you really love, you have to quiet things down a little bit and reestablish a conversation with that inner voice, with your intuition. If somebody spent five minutes in the evening right before they went to bed and said, “I’m willing to be open,” and talk to yourself, this is the part of ourselves that speaks in images. It doesn’t use words. It’s a part that is there all the time, but we often ignore it. It’s the subjective part of ourselves. It’s subconscious. If anybody was willing to spend five minutes right before they went to bed or at any time of the day, really where they’re able to meditate for a little while and simply open that conversation up and say, “I’m ready, willing and I want to make some changes. Talk to me, tell me what is it that’s important.” If somebody doesn’t like that, if somebody doesn’t like talking to themselves, they don’t want to make that inner journey, they’re not willing to do that contemplation, an alternate route is simply to face their mortality.
There are many ways to do this effectively. If somebody was willing to volunteer, for example, at a hospital, to a cancer ward, say a place where people are dying and simply go to the chaplain and say, “I’d like to spend a little time with people that would like some visitors.” You don’t have to do a thing. All you’ve got to do is visit for a little while and you’d be doing a really good thing for society. You’d be doing a good thing for the people that were on the edge of death and you yourself would have a tremendous experience understanding how precious things are, how life is so fragile and precious. At that point I think anybody that is willing to confront their mortality will see very clearly what it is that matters most of their life. That is how you discover those passions.
Whether you open up the conversation with the self and listen to what the answers are, which many times are surprising and unusual, open up that inner conversation or conversely confront mortality. By doing that, what’s going to be clear as you visit people on the edge of death is you will see, “What if I died? What would I regret? What are the things I left undone?” That becomes crystal clear and now you’ve got that path before you because you’re not going to die. You are going to live and this is what you need to do to make a meaningful life. This is what is important to your heart and what you need to pursue. You’re doing it in combination with your values, as long as those values are what guide you.
Here I’m speaking of simple things like the love of good company, compassion, kindness, a world that is a healthy place, getting rid of pollution. There are a million things. You could have a laundry list of thousand miles long that talk about these things, but whatever those core values are. I think that everybody that’s reading shares a certain number of them, which is that we all want a fair, decent world for everybody. Everybody reading would agree with that. As long as your values are in line with that and you’re pursuing your passion in a way that makes the world a better, more compassionate place, then I would say you’re on the right track.
Mark, you said something interesting a little earlier, that we in America are so fortunate to have the material wealth that we have. I went to Brazil and my friend was taking me through some of the areas. Some of the houses had little plastic container water towers on their house that weren’t that big. She said they could only turn on that water Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They can only use running water for three days. If that was the case in America, people would freak out. We already in America are complaining about so much when we have so much. You go to some third world countries and you see that the people are so incredibly happy with what they have. What do you think that is?
It is because they still have an intact system of relationships. Materialism has not eaten that away in many of those countries. What you have are strong relationships. You have people with strong friendships, you have people with strong family support. You have people that fall on themselves because they know that they are the ultimate guarantor of their happiness. They have a good relationship with themselves. People in poverty-stricken countries in general are not caught up in the unreality of the material chase that so many people in Western society are. They have a clearer vision of what it is that matters. What matters is the people you love and care about. Having a healthy network of that is enough. Their basic needs are met and this is what blocks so many of them from being happy or having a fulfilling life but nonetheless, having those healthy relationships is enough to where yes, they’re basically happy people because they look around and they say, “I’m happy with myself. I’m doing my best. I’ve got my loved ones with me. I’ve got good friends. I am so fortunate to have that.” That’s what it is.
I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but they also have a strong connection to a higher power. I don’t know what you want to call it: God, Higher Power, Universal Intelligence or whatever it is that they believe. It’s a strong faithful connection that they really can rely on that a lot of us that have that material discard and nothing’s really that sacred anymore in the US. You go to some of those countries and they have a relentless faith. It’s very impressive to see and they’re so happy. It makes you think what we might be, I don’t want to say doing wrong, but we’re definitely not getting the big picture here in America with all this materialism that we have.
I don’t think that there’s anything that you alluded to us doing wrong. I don’t have any problem at all saying that our society is completely screwed up. Our values as a society are completely wrong. What the media preaches is disgusting. What we get beamed at us every day is wrong. Society is not fair. Society is cruel and oppressive and unjust. Another thing that is a deep connection that we lack is the connection with nature. It is essential that we again, form roots and really connect with the places we live in because our environment is critical to us. Many people wander around in their lives and never have a connection of any kind with the environment where they live. This is terrible poverty, a terrible ruthlessness. Our culture and our society I would say are spiritually impoverished and that is a huge source of misery and unhappiness that we have in our society that people don’t realize. They look for meaning and they don’t find it. They look for a deeper connection and they don’t have it and they don’t even know where to begin.
That is a terrible and sad statement about our society and so many different ills that plague us come from that disconnect where we don’t care about ourselves. We don’t love ourselves and we don’t love the people immediately around us. That is why there are so much hate and ugliness in our society. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone. Instead what we see is this terrible level of violence and oppression. I say this because I feel in a very visceral way that one of the things that are most important to me is to try and change this so that we have a decent society, so that people have a decent life. It’s not that hard. It’s not that difficult. It takes a change in consciousness.
Mark, you did sixteen long years. What made you write a book? A lot of people can walk away from that like, “I’m going to live life. I’m out. I’m free.” What made you give that back to the people and try to help other people?
It was that burning desire that every day I’m driven by it. I want to see change in the world. I feel that the message that I have is absolutely critical. If people understood that the things that they chase in society and that they chase on a day-to-day basis, that’s not going to bring them happiness. If they understood that it’s as simple as getting to where you’re right with yourself and get right with the people around you. If you will do that, if everybody will do that, it would be transformative. The wealth in this country suddenly would be freed up and it wouldn’t be spent on silly stuff like nonsense toys, weird frivolous status symbols that mean nothing, all the things that we pour our wealth into that are utterly meaningless and don’t do any good for the world. If people suddenly were focused on what matters, getting healthy with themselves and healthy with their loved ones, all of a sudden they would realize, “I’ve been chasing all this crazy stuff for all these years for what?” It’s pointless. It’s a waste of energy. Instead, direct that towards doing the right thing. When I talk to people and you have a real heart-to-heart conversation, I have never met anyone that underneath all of it, didn’t want to do the right thing. Everybody wants to do the right thing, pretty much. There may be some people that aren’t reachable anymore.
There are a couple of outliers obviously.
For most of it, people want to do the right thing. When their relationship is right with themselves and their loved ones, that’s when you can begin to move your community relationship. That’s when transformation occurs because now you start to make a difference in your neighborhood. Now, things begin to change because you’re no longer satisfied with the wrong things that happen all around us every day and you’re working to change that. That’s really what I hope. That is what drives me, the hope that I could reach enough people to where some change really begins to occur and people realize that materialism is not the answer. To change their values, to shift so that we can truly build a world that everybody wants to inhabit. It’s fair.
I completely agree with you that the majority of people are good. You could see it when you travel because a lot of the time, institutions or people will put the fear in you, “Don’t go to that place, there’s a lot of crime. There’s a lot of poverty. There are bad things happening there,” and you get there and the people are the most beautiful people you ever meet. There are bad and good people wherever you go. I feel like the majority of people are good and they want to do good.
All the travels that I had, I never ever felt the slightest fear of danger.
Every city has got its little bad areas. For the most part, you’re going to find good people wherever you go. Mark, what’s your book about? What are some of the tools that come with it?
It’s the product of twelve years of hard research, tens of thousands of pages of scholarly work that I boil down into some paragraphs. Essentially the book, Lasting Happiness: Secrets of the Heart, Mind and Spirit Revealed, there are three sections: one dealing with love, one dealing with meaning and one dealing with creativity, which are the building blocks for healthy relationships. In each one of these, I talk about the different tools for changing your relationship with love, with yourself, with others and with your community or with nature. I do that with each of the different subjects; love, meaning and creativity. I give a bunch of different tools. To give one tool that would be really enormously valuable for people in transforming their day-to-day life. This is something that it’s a little bit difficult but it has the biggest potential for change. Everybody has pain in their life. Everybody has suffered, everybody has loss. One thing you can do that is transformative is instead of letting that loss or that pain or that suffering be a drag and be an anchor, face it squarely because a lot of times these are things we shy away from and we try to ignore them. We try to mask them, we try to avoid or it’s not something we want to deal with.
This tool is quite simple. Sit down and face whatever it is that is your biggest challenge. Whatever it is that is troubling you, that bothers you, face it squarely. Doing that alone is enough to transform things because all of a sudden you realize it’s not the giant thing that you feared that it was simply facing it. Take that pain, take that suffering, take that loss, whatever it might be and use it as an engine to spur you to change it. That tool alone is enough to take the greatest trauma and turn it into a powerful tool for change, for growth. It requires that strength of character to be able to face it clearly and then realize that this could be something that can energize you, motivate you and move you in a positive way that it doesn’t have to be a block or an obstacle.
There are a lot of things that are in the book that are a little bit more down to earth if you will. I talk a lot about, for example, escape. There’s a chapter on how you get out of the mental cages and traps that many people experience the belief systems that trap us, that keep us ensnared. For example, money, time. Both of those are belief systems. They don’t have an existence outside of human society, but in human society, they trap us and they keep us locked into behaviors that are oftentimes very negative. I talk about that. How do you overcome a negative self-image?
How do you overcome the things that society has built in to keep you enslaved in the system? Another one, creativity, I go on and on about creativity. There’s a lot of neat stuff there. One tool that would be useful to readers comes from a wonderful book. The bibliography is great. Everything’s referenced, so anybody that wants to do deeper research, of course can. There’s one brief one about inspiration. A lot of people are looking for inspiration. A lot of people are looking for a way to solve problems that maybe are blocking them and something that many great artists, many inventors have used is to focus on the problem, let it go and take a walk. Walk for an hour or two. I won’t even bore you with the hundreds of different inventors, thinkers, philosophers and writers that do this and have done this. There’s an enormous number. Ignore it and let the problem go. Focus on it for a while, have fifteen minutes of hard thinking, here’s this problem. Look at it from every angle and then let it go. Go take a walk.
Another one is to take a shower. The classic one is to sleep on it and go to sleep. What happens is by focusing on it hard, letting it go, and then letting your subconscious have it, take it and twist it around, you would be shocked at how many times your brain will come back in a day or two with wonderful, tremendous insight and answer. That’s something that works. It’s solid; it’s real. It’s based on really good research. It’s all there in the book. There are hundreds and hundreds of tools like that and all of them are designed to help people build those healthy relationships with love, meaning and creativity.
One of the most important ones that you touched on earlier is having that inner dialogue with yourself because it is uncomfortable and a lot of people don’t want to do it, but a lot of the time it tells you exactly what’s going on.
We in the West have a deep distrust of emotions and we really dislike subjective things. We love rationality. We love reason. We love that hard empirical, scientific stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that but the problem is that our daily life is governed by our emotional side. Most of our brain is the mammalian brain and the reptilian brain that we’ve inherited. The neocortex is a tiny little sliver on top. It doesn’t really control day to day life. A lot of people find themselves living lies they don’t want to live because they don’t have a conversation. They don’t have a relationship with the deeper parts of themselves. What this does is opening that conversation with a deeper part of yourself. Making it a friendly, loving one is transformative because now you’re no longer being dragged along by the emotions that you can control. You begin to have a conversation and now there’s a dialogue and there’s an understanding and you can come to a deeper appreciation of who you are and what it is that you really need and want
Those are all amazing tools. We have T.M Hoy, the author of Lasting Happiness. Mark, at the end of every show, I like to ask all my guests, what is one piece of advice that has resonated with you, even got you out of some very difficult times that you would like to give the audience? What would that be?
One thing has always helped me in some very tense situations, a lot of conflict and some very difficult spots. One thing that you can always do is whenever you’re faced with a terrible challenge or a terrible problem, briefly imagine that you were on the other side of that, that you were the person or the problem itself, the monster, if you will. Take on that role for a second. All of a sudden, you’ll realize many times that you’ll have an empathy there. Simply being willing to say, “I was wrong about this. I’m willing to reach out and show a little empathy and a little bit of kindness.” A tiny bit of empathy, a little bit of kindness in a situation that’s maybe tense or difficult can be transformative. Something that has served me very well and I know people hear this all the time, but it is very true. It’s that a little bit of compassion goes a long way. If I could leave readers with anything, it would be to start with yourself. Be a little bit kind and compassionate towards yourself. We’re very judgmental and very harsh towards ourselves. If people were willing to be a little bit kinder and a little bit gentler towards themselves and then begin to extend that a little bit to those around you, I think your life will be transformed.
Mark, where can people find Lasting Happiness book? Maybe if they have any questions they’d like to ask you, where can people find you online?
I would love to have a conversation with readers and anybody that wants to, you could post a comment on my website, which is the LastingHappiness.net. I also have the book available everywhere in retailers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, all of that. It’s available as an audiobook also, paperback and eBook versions. It’s certainly available there. I do have an Amazon Author Page. If you want to leave a comment anywhere, I see it and I’d love to have a conversation with you. If you have any questions at all drop by the website and post a comment, ask a question. I’d love to talk to readers to try and spark some change.
Mark, thank you so much for coming on. I love having these types of conversations. You’re a great person. Light is shining through you. I had such a blast talking to you and listening to your story. It’s very inspirational and very fitting with what we’re trying to accomplish on this podcast. You keep knocking on doors and the right one’s going to open for you. Never lose hope and onward and upward.
Thank you so much, Dr. Pecca. I appreciate that. Thank you so much for the time and being on the show. I absolutely love to be here and I wish you all the best. I hope that it all works for you.
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