Freedom didn’t become important until the day Ryan considered suicide. Until then all he cared about was being significant and rich. The day in question was in 2010 when he was 23 years old and fresh out of college, attending Yanik Silver’s Maverick’s event in Washington, D.C. From the outside looking in, it appeared that Ryan had it all together, yet internally his life had been in shambles for quite sometime. He felt fake, hopeless, purposeless, and that he didn’t matter. Despite making decent money, he had a fear that it was all going to go away. His suspicion was that he had just gotten lucky, and his self-perception was being chipped away.
He pretty much only ate superfoods, and as a result, his health started to decline; he was pale, thin, and very lonely. At the time Ryan was a very religious person and felt that there was a dark presence in the room that told him to open the window in the hotel room and jump out. Ryan called the suicide prevention hotline and had an awkward conversation.
Ryan decided to give it one more day and returned to the conference and bumped into his friend Vinnie. Two statements that Vinnie really impacted him with were 1) I believe in you and 2) Tell me about your girlfriend. Over the next few days Ryan experienced extreme highs and lows, with the sense of ‘who the hell cares what happens today.’
Ryan called his girlfriend and told her about what had happened, and she broke up with him. He was devastated and felt like he had lost everything. From this place, he rebuilt over a year and worked on getting his health and relationships back on track. He went through counseling but never took medication for depression. Ryan believes in using pain as a change agent and says that it is amazing fuel for making changes. To numb the pain would have taken away the fuel to make the change he wanted to make.
It wasn’t until later that freedom became important to Ryan. He felt like he was living on ‘bonus time’ and realized security is merely a feeling and each person defines the rules for that and happiness. Ryan isn’t afraid of the guy who has gone through a dark time but rather is afraid of the guy who has never gone through a dark time. The things we complain about today are pathetic.
We are all living in bonus time. Freedom has little-to-nothing to do with finances and is simply a tool to have more freedom. You are not free if you are dead or living in a mental trap of insecurity, pain, depression, sadness, or loneliness. Freedom is so much more than money. It is recognizing that you are in complete control of your results and realizing there is no such thing as security, so you are free do whatever you want. Freedom is losing the need for approval from other people, because your perception of their approval is all in your head and their approval is all in their head and none of it is real. Freedom is realizing that there is a blank slate and you can do whatever you want with it, and at no point is it ever too late to erase and start drawing again.
We don’t like to talk about mental illness, depression, or suicide, and when you are going through any of those things, it’s the most painful feeling of complete and utter emptiness. There is no reason to keep it hidden or be embarrassed. You can be free of it and just need to recognize it.
Doing less instead of more has been the way Ryan has navigated out of difficult times, dialing back and letting go of the things that you want to hustle and push towards. Get in-tune and quiet with the things you actually want. You don’t get things to make you happy; you bring your happiness to the things that you built.
On your iPhone? Listen on iTunes here.
Links to Resources Mentioned
The Primal Connection (book)
A New Earth (book)
The Game (book)
Straight-Line Leadership (book)