“The 7 Steps to Living the Ultimate Life!” (Part 2)
Welcome to Episode #3 of THE BE ULTIMATE podcast. In this episode, Travis shares the last three steps to living the ultimate life. It is highly recommended you listen to Episode #2 — “The 7 Steps to Living the Ultimate Life” (Part 1), before enjoying Episode #3. This is Travis filmed in a single take as he passionately shares stories, quotes, science, wisdom and inspiration.
[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “The Be Ultimate Podcast.” Please note that this is direct from Travis speaking unscripted and unedited.]
Welcome to episode number three of The Be Ultimate Podcast.
We just launched this thing. And you work on these projects, like the podcast, and honestly, you just don’t know how it’s going to be received. And I got to say I am feeling so stoked to see the response to the Be Ultimate Podcast so far. So thank you, guys, for downloading it. Thank you for spreading the word to your communities, and thank you for your comments on YouTube. We’re up on iTunes now. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
This is ammunition to bring it each week, to bring you guys the best that I possibly, possibly can. So let’s keep this dynamic going.
This week, we’ve got a great episode because we are going to pick up with where we left off on episode number two.
We started the Seven Steps of Living the Ultimate Life, and that was about 40 minutes. So it took us a while to get through that because each step, I wanted to just give you as much reinforcement as to what that step was about. So we had to break it down into two parts.
If you’re just joining us here in episode number three but you didn’t listen to episode number two, definitely go back, listen to episode number two part one of the Seven Steps of Living the Ultimate Life, and then come back and listen to part two. Don’t want you to be confused, and definitely don’t want you to miss all of those key steps.
So just as a quick recap, in part one, we learned that step one was to pause, to take a moment, to settle, to get still, to land, to center, to go in and connect to your own inner wisdom. Step two was all about having a vision and having intention; so knowing what your why is, knowing what your goal is, and knowing why you’re doing that. That’s step two. Step three is to remove the obstacles, to remove the resistance, whatever that is that’s blocking you from being excellent, from being great, from being ultimate. We got to remove that. And as we discussed in part one, a lot of that has nothing to do with anything around you; and it has a lot to do with the stuff inside of you, the negative thoughts, the limiting beliefs. So we talked about removing that and then taking massive action, taking action to move in that direction of fulfilling your goal, whatever that is, moving in that direction, day after day after day. And those small steps, those small victories, they will quickly add up. And then step four as you move along this path, it takes courage and it takes commitment. There’s going to be a zillion other things saying, “Hey, let’s not do this today. Hey, let’s go watch a binge episode on Netflix. Whatever it is, let’s not do this today.”
And you’re going to have to be committed, and you’re going to also have to be courageous because guess what? You are going to bump up against struggle, challenge, and things that are confronting; and that’s not easy. So that takes courage. So those are the first four steps. Pause, vision intention, remove obstacles, take action, and then be courageous and be committed.
So now, let’s go ahead and transition into step five.
1) Step five is about Letting Go. So here you are. You pause. You’ve determined what it is that you want. You’re removing the obstacles. You’re being courageous. You’re being committed. You’re making tremendous amounts of progress. And step five is honestly a step that a lot of people don’t even consider because they’re so attached to the result. They’re so attached to achieving this vision, which is good. You want to be passionate, and you want to be obsessed, but you don’t want to be possessed. So we want to learn how to actually let go, which is a little bit paradoxical.
So we sometimes say the degree of your success has everything to do with the degree of your surrender. Now, what does that mean? In our culture, surrender isn’t really a good thing. We think that when you surrender, that’s a sign of weakness. But what we’re talking about, we’re talking about surrendering all things of your ego or all things of your limited identity. We’re talking about surrendering your small self, your tiny little ego. We’re talking about surrendering that so that then you can access the big self. You can access a part of you that is much bigger and more powerful than the limitations of your own little ego. So remember this.
Your ego is not your amigo.
Now, of course, our ego is there for a good reason. We’ve got to know our name, and we got to have an identity to function in this world. But what happens for a lot of people is that the ego really limits them. They’re always thinking about themselves, and they’re thinking about what they can get, and they’re blinded to the big picture because of that limitation of the ego.
So in the Native American tradition, there is a story about this healer, and he became world-renowned because he was able to heal people of diseases and chronic illnesses that no doctors could help. And so in interviews, they would ask this healer, “What is your process? What do you do before you go into these healing sessions?” And he would describe going into a trance meditative state and visualizing himself being a hollow bone. So essentially, he would dissolve his ego. He would move beyond his identity, and he would empty himself out. He would get out of the way of himself so that this force much larger and more magnificent than his limited self could actually flow through him and flow through his arms and down his hands, and this is how he was able to heal people. So he became known as the Hollow Bone Healer.
So when we’re talking about letting go, we’re talking about letting go so that you become this hollow bone so that that same force that was flowing through the healer can also begin to flow through you. So it’s about getting out of the way of yourself. It’s about letting go of, again, that ego.
Henry David Thoreau writes, “The soul grows by subtraction, not addition.”
And there’s a saying in Taoism that, “A person in the world adds something on every day, but a person of the Tao takes something away every day.”
And so these great wisdom traditions, they teach us it’s not about adding onto ourselves. It’s not about fixing ourselves. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about the removal and the letting go of all that unnecessary stuff, which we kind of touched upon in the step regarding removing the obstacles.
There was a woman who worked in the corporate world, and she had this goal or this desire to become fully enlightened. She had hated her job. She was sick of the corporate world. She was sick of all this materialistic stuff. So she renounced all of it. She went to the East, and she checked into a spiritual ashram. She checked into a spiritual community, and she started to learn these meditation practices. So she was given a small hut where she could do her meditations. And after several months of being in this spiritual community, she was getting irritated. She was getting frustrated. She was sometimes getting angry because other people that were there were disturbing her. The person in the hut next to her was making all this noise. And when she would go to the dining hall to eat her food, the food wasn’t that good. And so she found all these things to complain about. So she went to see the head teacher, and she was expressing all of this to the teacher. And she said, “I gave up my whole life so that I could become enlightened; I could become awakened.” That was her goal. That was her desire. Nothing was going to stop her. And then she started to say that all these things that were happening were getting in the way of her becoming fully self-realized.
So the spiritual master said, “I have an idea. There’s a trail at the side of the property, and it’ll take you up to the top of the mountain. And up at the top of the mountain is a private hut. And so feel free to take your belongings, go up there. We’ll have good quality food brought to you – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and you won’t be disturbed by anybody else.”
And so she obliged, and she gathered her belongings, and she started to make her way up this little mountain. Now, she began to go up the trail. Fog began to roll in, and the fog became thicker and thicker, more and more dense; and then eventually, it became so, so dense that she could only see about 10 feet in front of her. And after some time of going through the fog, all of a sudden, she saw this figure coming down the trail, heading her direction. And this figure was in a big, dark cloak. This figure had a huge, wide-brimmed hat. And most importantly, this figure was carrying a big bundle of sticks on his back; but she also recognized this figure because in the teachings that she had been learning, they had heard about this figure that appears right before you’re about to become enlightened, and this figure that she was now seeing in front of her was that figure that had been described.
And so as they got closer to each other, she stopped the man; and she asked the man, she said, “Hey, I’m on the path of trying to become enlightened. I want nothing else in this world but to become awakened. Can you please, please, please tell me how I can become enlightened?”
And without saying a word, this figure just dropped his whole bundle of sticks down on the ground. And in an instant, she got the teaching. She received the message that the enlightenment comes not within grasping, not within clinging, not within overly striving, but within the act of letting go. Letting go, just as the figure had let go of this massive bundle of sticks. And then she asked the figure, “Oh, now what? Now what do I do after I become enlightened? I see that it’s all about letting go.”
And without saying a word, the figure knelt down, gathered up his bundle of sticks, threw it on top of his shoulder and his back, and proceeded to head down the path; and then she received the second teaching.
So after the enlightenment, after the goal has been achieved, you still got to carry on with the mundane things in life. One of my teachers, Jack Kornfield, wrote a book that’s become very well-known called After the Ecstacy, The Laundry. So after you become enlightened, you still got to do your laundry, still got to pay your taxes, still got to pay your bills, still got to go run your errands. You still have to do all these mundane things.
Or somebody said, “At the same time you remember your Buddha nature, you also have to remember your social security number.”
And so that’s that paradox of what it is to be a human. So it’s about letting go. And we’ve heard about the hustle muscle, rise and grind. You got to hustle to achieve your goals, to fulfill your vision. But what we rarely hear about is the letting-go muscle. So the hustle muscle, it’s only half of the equation. The other half of the equation is really being able to let go.
And so you had the vision. You have this thing that you want to achieve. But even in the act of working to achieve that, you have to let go. You have to surrender.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Full effort equals full victory.”
This is what he told his soldiers of peace. This is what he told the millions of people in India as he was trying to take down the British Empire. He didn’t know if they were going to achieve the goal. It seemed completely daunting and unrealistic that that would ever happen. But he told them, “Don’t worry about the result. Just focus on your effort and your effort alone.”
So the teaching becomes you have to control what you can control, and you have to let go of what you can’t control because when you try and control something that you actually have no control over, that’s called rope burn. And these practices, they teach us to let go of the rope so that we’re no longer singeing our hands and creating our own suffering.
So we can’t control other people. I can’t control the traffic in Los Angeles. I can’t control who the president in the United States of America is. But what I can control are my thoughts and how I deal with challenges that come my way. I can control the words that flow out of my mouth. I can control my actions. So those are the things that I control. So we learn to let go of the things that we can’t control. And that starts to free up a lot of space and a lot of energy and a tremendous amount of resources that then we can devote to the things that we actually have control over.
In yoga, we call this Aparigraha. Aparigraha is all about non-grasping. And so that creates space so that as you move through the seven steps of living the ultimate life, as you move closer and closer to fulfilling your greatest goals, dreams, and desires, you can actually enjoy the journey because if you’re clinging too much and you’re grasping too much, do you think that you’re going to be able to enjoy the journey? No, it’s not going to be fun. And guess what? Probably people aren’t going to want to be around you. You’re not going to want to be somebody that people want to hang out with. So you’ve got to find that synergy between taking that massive action, moving in that direction that you set your intention on; but at the same time, relaxing and letting go.
Even in your pursuit of your dreams, to take moments in your day, in your week, in your life where you can give yourself a little break.
So that’s step five, letting go.
Now, let’s move on to step number six.
6) Step six is GRATITUDE FOR THE VICTORY.
Step number six is really about what happens as you begin to manifest the reality that you wanted, as you begin to master your destiny, and you get closer and closer to reaching that summit, is that you want to give gratitude to the victories, the small victories but also the inevitable large victory that comes by moving through these steps and achieving your goal.
No matter how small the victories are, keep a daily victory journal. So at the end of each day before you go to bed, write down all the things that you achieved that day. And again, it doesn’t matter how small the victory is.
If you’re somebody that– you have this goal of running a marathon. So you’re going to run 26-plus miles, and today you ran 3 miles, and it seems like you’re so far away from ever being able to run that marathon. I still want you to celebrate that, and you owe it to yourself to give gratitude that, “Hey, I did this today!”
So keep track of those small victories, and that’ll create ammunition and drive and motivation and inspiration to acknowledge what you’re actually doing because it’s easy to not see those things because you’re so set on that end result that you’re not seeing those little steps because you’re so in the midst of what it is that you’re doing.
So you give gratitude. You give gratitude to the small victories; and then eventually when you achieve the goal, eventually when you run that marathon or you lose that 50 pounds or you buy the home of your dreams, the moment that that happens, you got to be grateful because there’s going to be a part of you that as soon as you get that, whatever it is that you wanted– and you’ve been working hard and hard, there’s going to be that part of you that’s like, “This is it? This is all there is? Now I want more.”
And I’ll never forget the first car that I ever drove was a beat-up red pickup truck. And man, this truck was trash basically. I mean, I could barely drive it up the highway without the engine exploding. If I went over 45 miles per hour, the whole truck would start convulsing like a seizure; and eventually, I got rid of that thing. I spent all this money trying to fix it, and I wanted another car.
So then I got a Honda CRX, and I was so happy when I got the car initially because it didn’t break down, and I could actually drive it on the highway at over 45 miles per hour. But eventually, I wanted another car. And then I got a Nissan Pathfinder. So now I had this SUV with cool tires, and it looked cool, and it had tinted windows. And for a while, I thought I was the coolest person on the planet in my Nissan Pathfinder. But eventually, I wanted another car. I wanted a new car. I never owned a new car. So I got the car that I’m in right now, which is a Honda CRV. But now that I’ve been driving the Honda CRV for a few years, I want to get a Tesla Model X. And after the Tesla Model X, then I think I’m going to have to get a sports coupe Bentley. And then after the sports coupe Bentley, might as well want a helicopter and then my private jet and then a space shuttle. At what point does the desire stop? And this is why gratitude is so, so, so important because without the gratitude, it’s called the hungry ghost.
So in Tibet, they have this concept of the hungry ghost. And the hungry ghost is– it doesn’t matter how much you feed the ghost. The hunger never ever gets satiated, and so it’s like a bottomless pit of a stomach.
And you don’t want to be that person because this is a person now that’s chronically unhappy. It’s never good enough. They’re always looking at the negative. So the gratitude mindset and heartset is really the perfect antidote to the hungry ghost.
Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say your entire life is thank you, that will be good enough.”
So let thank you be your prayer. Thank you. Thank you, universe, for these small victories. Thank you, universe, for the big victory. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
What you give gratitude towards, you attract more of into your life.
So it really creates an energy and a momentum so that you live in this upward crescendo. You’ve reached your goal. You’ve fulfilled what it is that you wanted to, and it may have taken you a few weeks or a few years, but you finally did it. You got there. But life is about continuous, infinite growing and expanding and living your life as if you’re in an endless upward crescendo.
An old Arab proverb says, “What is coming is better than what is gone.”
We think about – some of us – our college years. Our college years were the best years of our life, and life will never be good again. Life will never be like what it was in college. And we live in a downward crescendo. In music, I think it’s called a diminuendo or something.
Don’t live in a diminuendo, live in an upward crescendo – It’s getting better and better!
You’ll reach a plateau. And then if you keep challenging yourself, you keep moving through the seven steps of living the ultimate life, it’s just going get better and better and better and better.
7) Step seven is GENEROSITY
And then that brings us now to the last final step, step number seven, which is generosity. And again, there’s a lot of people that are uber successful. You think about actors or musicians. And these celebrities, they have it all. They have the palatial mansion. They have all the cars that they want. They have all the money that they want. They have all the fans that they want. And so many of them are not happy, and I know because I live in the mecca of the entertainment business here in Los Angeles.
So many of them have achieved a lot, but are they fulfilled? So many of them have achieved a lot, but they have that hungry ghost mentality because they’re not grateful. And they’re also missing this last very, very, very important step, the step of generosity, about giving back to other people; and we call this karma yoga.
Karma yoga is the yoga of selfless action.
That means to act not because you want to do something for yourself, but you genuinely do it from the depth of your heart, you want to help another human or you want to help a group of people. And we’re not talking about making some big donation to a charity and then getting publicity for it and attention for it. We’re talking about being the kind of person that gives to somebody, and nobody else may ever find out, and you don’t care because you’re giving from your heart.
When you give from a place of love, this has a big effect on your health and your well-being.
They actually did a study somewhere in the Midwest. It was in Oklahoma or something. And there was this hospital that was way out kind of in the country, and the only way that you could get to this hospital was this one highway. And you would go to the hospital; and after you were at the hospital, you would have to get back on the same highway that you came in; but before you got on the highway, and there was a donation tollbooth. So there wasn’t anybody working there, but they had basically an honor system where they asked you to contribute X amount of dollars before you got on the highway so that they could maintain the well-being of the highway. And so they did a massive study, and they tracked all the doctors and the nurses that would come into the hospital to work their job, and then get back on the highway, and they studied the ones that actually honored the donation tollbooth, and then they studied the ones that actually didn’t pay what they were asked to because nobody was watching, and what they found out is astounding.
They found out that the nurses and the doctors and the health-care professionals that actually paid the donation booth, that their patients healed much faster than the ones that actually did not contribute.
So that’s crazy, right? And it goes to show you that this idea of being generous affects not just you, but it really affects everybody else that you come into contact with.
There was a doctor named Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, and she became very, very well-known because of her research of telomeres. And telomeres, if you’re unfamiliar, are the little caps at the end of your DNA strand. So it’s kind of like that little plastic cap at the end of your shoelace. And so just like the plastic at the end of the shoelace helps to keep the shoelace from fraying out, it really does the same thing at the end of the DNA. So what they found out is essentially the longer your telomere, then the longer longevity of life that you have. And the shorter the telomere, the shorter the cap, then the shorter your lifespan will be.
So they figured that out. And practices like meditation and eating well and being generous, they found actually lengthen the telomeres. So they’ve studied communities that have a big diversity of income. So on one side of the spectrum, you have people that are in a big crisis state of poverty; and then on the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got people that are the wealthiest of the wealthy. And of course, we know that that’s an issue right now in our country where the middle class is dwindling in really a lot of countries across the world. And what they found out is that when there’s a group of people that are stressed out because they’re not able to meet their basic needs – home, shelter, food, clothing – their telomeres, they shortened because they’re stressed out. So their lifespan is going to be much shorter. But here’s the thing. Not only do their telomeres get shorter; but the wealthy people, the well-off people in that same community, their telomeres also becomes shorter because of the other people’s telomeres becoming shorter. And so now, we’re seeing, even within science, that there is definitely signs pointing in this direction that on a deeper level, we’re all connected, and we’re all interdependent. And although on the surface, we may look different and we have different skin colors and different shapes and sizes. Yeah, that’s true.
When we look deeper into things, it’s all one.
There was a Zen master and he instructed his students the following morning at the first sign of light to do their spiritual practices. So the students woke up the next day, and they were about to begin their spiritual practices, and they realized they were a little vague as to what their teacher meant when he said the first sign of light. So the students went back to see the teacher, and they said, “Well, how do we know that we’ve seen the first sign of light? Is it when we look out over the valley and we can tell the difference between a dog and a sheep? Is that how we know that we’ve seen the light? And the master shook his head no. And then they said, “Well, is it when we look out over the valley, and we can tell the difference between an oak tree and an olive tree? Is that how we known that we’ve seen the light? And the master again shook his head no. And they said, “Well, is it that moment when the sun is rising right above the horizon and that first golden shaft of light starts to penetrate out, is that how we known that we’ve seen the light?” And the master again shook his head no. But he went on to explain, “You’ll know that you’ve seen the first sign of light when a stranger walks up to you, you look into their eyes, and you realize that the same spirit that exists inside of them is the same spirit that exists inside of you.
This is how you’ve known that you’ve seen the light; and until then, you’re living in darkness.
So we’re all connected. And that story speaks to what all the great traditions espouse. And in the act of generosity, when we give to others, equally, we kind of benefit too. In the Buddhist tradition, there’s a great meditation practice called metta meditation or loving-kindness meditation, and they’ve done these studies that when people give these phrases of generosity and well-being and loving-kindness– and typically in the meditation, you offer it to another person. So you may say something like, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be at peace.” And you repeat these phrases, and you think about somebody that’s maybe struggling in your life or a place in the world that’s struggling, and you offer up these phrases.
And neuroscientists have seen changes in the brain from these meditators where certain parts of the brain that are associated with stress, like for example, in the amygdala. It actually shrinks in size. It actually gets smaller. And then other areas of the brain that are associated with health and positivity and connection and well-being, those parts of the brain, they actually get larger in size.
So it’s true when Aristotle says, “You are what you repeatedly do.”
When you are generous to others, it actually changes and rewires your brain. And then you create a brain that’s happier and healthier and more loving and more positive and not so stressed out and living in a constant space of scarcity consciousness. So it’s really about giving back.
One of the best things that I get to do as a yoga instructor is to lead yoga retreats, often with my wife Lauren. And we’ll take people all over the world, and we go to these places; and very often, we’ll do an activity that has to do with karma yoga, giving back in some way to that community that we’re visiting.
So when we went to Kerala, India, we went and took boats to this small fishermen’s village and gave these kids school supplies, and it floored the students. It floored me. It floored Lauren. People were crying because these kids had so little. And you give them a pencil, and it’s like they just got a brand new bike on Christmas Day, but it’s just a pencil. But their eyes light up and the love that flows out of them– it didn’t just benefit the kids; it benefited us and our students. And then I think about the time a year or two ago, we went to Cambodia, and our group donated money to build a well for a really poor family. And we got to go and visit this family right outside Siem Reap, and they lived in a small little shack; and there’s the well right next to their tiny little shack, the well that gave them drinking water, the well that they could bathe their young kids with. It blew us away. It blasted open our hearts.
And then I think about my work in teaching in the prisons now, and I go see these men in prison, and sometimes even in solitary confinement, to spread the teachings of yoga and meditation, and I’m not doing it for money. I’m doing it because I feel a responsibility to give back, and it took me years to get to a place where I felt like I could give back, and now I’m at that place. I’m telling you this is where it’s at. It’s about that act of generosity. And so if you’re achieving your goals but you’re not grateful when you get there, and then in the act of achieving your goal, you become more. And if you’re not giving more, guess what happens? You’re not going to stay ultimate. You’re not going to stay in that upper crescendo. You’re actually going to fall down a cliff, and you’re going to suffer, and you’re not going to be happy, and then you’re going to have a tendency to fall into negative addictive behaviors and patterns. So these last couple of steps is where it’s at.
It’s about being grateful, and it’s also about being generous.
Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
So at the end of the day, it’s all about love. Did you love well? Did you love well in your life? Did you love well on the way up the mountain to achieving your goal? Did you stay in that attitude of love?
So this concludes the Seven Steps of Living the Ultimate Life. Step one, pause. Step two, have a clear vision. Know what your intention is. Step three, remove the obstacles that’s holding you back from achieving those goals and take massive action every day. Take a step or two or three or four forward to achieve those goals. Step four, be courageous. Be committed. You’re going to bump up against obstacles. You’re going to fall down. You’re going to fail. You’re going to make mistakes. Those are all signs that you are well on your way. Step five, letting go. Remember, full effort equals full victory. So have that paradoxical experience of fulfilling your goals but not getting so tightly possessed by it. Be obsessed, but don’t be possessed. Step six, have gratitude for the victory. And step seven, give back. Be generous. All right.
Let’s finish with our ultimate prayer.
“May we bring strength where there is weakness.
May we bring courage where there is fear.
May we bring compassion where there is suffering,
and may we bring light where there is darkness.
May we be ultimate!”
All right, you guys. That wraps up episode number three. Thank you so much for tuning in. Please subscribe. If you’re listening on iTunes, subscribe to the podcast. Leave a review. Rate the podcast. That helps me out tremendously. Advance gratitude for that. If you’re watching on YouTube, please share the video. Leave a comment. Help me spread the word. Let’s get these messages and these tools and these stories of hope to as many people as possible.
For the full experience of the Be Ultimate Podcast, visit traviseliot.com. On there, we have the podcast audio, the YouTube video, shareable quotes so you can share inspiring quotes from the episode to your community; and we also have the full entire transcript of everything that’s said up there. So you can go back, and you can read. You can be like, “What was step five again? And what did Travis say about this thing?” Go check out the transcript, and you can see exactly what it is and take as many notes as you want.
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And upcoming events, we got San Luis Obispo, February 15th through the 17th is SLO Yoga. Toronto Yoga Conference, March 28 through the 31st. Columbus Ohio, April 26 through the 28th at GoYoga USA. Hallowell, Maine right next to the capital. What’s the capital? Augusta. I almost forgot. I was going to say Portland, Maine. But it’s Augusta. So Hallowell’s right outside Augusta. We’ll be there May 17th through the 19th. Portugal Retreat, we still have a few spots left for that. That’s May 25th through the 31st. And lastly, we have the Mammoth Yoga Festival, June 13th through the 16th. If you want to practice with me, practice with me online.
Lots and lots of yoga and meditation classes at innerdimensiontv.com. We have a free trial. You can check it out for 10 days. Make sure you like it. I’m sure you will. That’s it. Thanks for listening, you guys. This was a good one. Be ultimate!