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The Zen Leader welcomed Jim Curtis– who has battled an undiagnosed illness for over 20 years, Jim’s book, TheStimulati Experience, shares his own story and the step-by-step program he discovered to overcome pain, setback, and struggle to transform your life. As an active public speaker and the President of Remedy Health Media in NYC, Jim, was also a leader in developing WebMD and Everyday Health. He was named one of PharmaVoice’s Top 100 Most Influential and Inspirational Leaders in Health 3 years in a row.

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Intro:Welcome to The Zen Leaderwith Lara Jaye. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, Lara provides the tools to help you get unstuck in different areas of your life. Now here’s your host, Lara Jaye.

Lara Jaye:Welcome to The Zen Leader Show, helping you transform your life and find greater satisfaction and peace. I’m your host, Lara Jaye, international bestselling author, speaker, helping you find your happy. You know that spot inside of you that feels calm and peace even when chaos is swirling around you. I know our guest today… I’m so excited to finally touch base with this amazing guest that we have on today, Jim Curtis. Welcome, Jim. How are you today?

Jim Curtis:I’m fantastic! Thank you. Hi.

Lara:Awesome. Great to have you on The Zen Leader. I want to give a quick little bio on you. Your bio is amazing. You’re an active public speaker, President of Remedy Health Media in New York City, also you were a leader in developing WebMD, which I know everyone has heard of WebMD and Everyday Health. You’ve been named one of PharmaVoice’s Top 100 Most Influential and Inspirational Leaders in Health three years in a row, graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

            You began your career trading health technology options on the American Stock Exchange. I cannot wait to hear this story and how you got to where you’re at today. But for someone who has battled an undiagnosed illness for over 20 years, your book, Jim, The Stimulati Experience, share your own story and the step-by-step program you discovered to overcome pain, setback, and struggle to transform your life. I, as someone who also has a chronic illness — and many of our listeners do — I think many people out there are suffering and wondering what’s happening. I cannot wait to hear why you… The Stimulati Experience. Why did you write this book?

Jim:That is a great question. For a long time, people were saying, “What’s the book about?” It was very easy to explain what this book was about. I’d just spent two years writing it and 20 years living it, but the question why did you write this book has been coming up more now as I go on radio shows like yours, with people that look internally a little bit more towards the emotional.

            I really had to get straight with that. It’s like, “Why did I write this book?” I came to the conclusion that I wrote it because I wanted my struggle to mean something. I wanted it to all be for a higher purpose. It couldn’t all be for nothing. The only way that I could get it to be for a higher purpose and to mean something is to share it so I could help other people. It’s all contribution. That’s why I wrote the book.

Lara:When you started writing, you really didn’t know that that was why you… maybe you didn’t know that was why you were going to write it? You just knew you wanted to share.

Jim:I knew I needed to write it. I started seven years ago writing a different book, and it came out much different because I was still at a different part of my journey; that book came out extremely dark. Then two years ago when I started writing this book, I decided not to publish that book. I had a publisher. I decided not to publish it. It just didn’t feel right. I knew that I still had something to get out and to share. I just didn’t know why or what, and then The Stimulati Experiencecame and it’s a very positive, uplifting account of what I’ve learned, and it just seemed to fit. It clicked. That’s what I published through Rodale.

Lara:When you started writing The Stimulati, were you well then?

Jim:Well, that is…

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Are we ever well?

Jim:Well, I walk with a limp. I have chronic pain. Just like everybody in this world, I fight stress and anxiety. But in regard, am I well? Hell, yes! I’m really well, compared to where I was. I may be ill, but I am not sick.

Lara:I love that answer. I may be ill, but I’m not sick. That’s awesome. Tell our listeners a little bit about your story, because it’s an amazing story.

Jim:When I was 18 years old, I was an athlete. I was going to college for sports. I was a competitive swimmer, nationally ranked, but I also had a penchant for the darker side, and I was getting into things that were leading me down a very dark path.

Lara:As many of us do, yes. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Sure, right. One summer I was living on Cape Cod — I lived in a small garage that had a bathroom on the beach — and we were actually traveling with The Grateful Dead. Now I don’t know how many of your…

Lara:[LAUGHTER] That’s awesome.

Jim:… listeners will know The Grateful Dead. But they’ll know, for those who do, everything that comes with traveling with The Grateful Dead. One day I woke up, got into the shower, and couldn’t feel hot water on my left foot. I figured, “Boy, that must have been another bicycle accident I had last night or that time I smashed my car into the bar,” those kind of things.

Lara:Okay. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:As a 19-year-old boy, I decided to ignore it.

Lara:That’s what we do at that age. Mm-hmm.

Jim:I was in denial and I ignored it until the numbness moved up to my waist, and I had trouble walking and such pain in my body that it made me very nervous. Of course, what does a 19-year-old boy do when that happens? I told my mother. My mother being an ER nurse in Boston at Mass General Hospital, she immediately sent me for MRIs, and what they revealed were lesions on my spinal cord.

            But we could never figure out what caused them. Maybe it was multiple sclerosis, but no. Was it Lyme’s disease? No. What was this? The condition, I never had a disease to call my own. I had the symptoms, so we could never figure it out. For the next two years, I was undiagnosed, but the symptoms kept getting worse. Everyday something new would happen, and they didn’t know what was causing it, so we were always wondering in the back of our heads, “Is this going to kill me?”

Lara:You’re in the early 20s at this point.

Jim:Yeah, I’m 21 years old.

Lara:Mm-hmm, that’s tough at that age.

Jim:Yeah. I’m wondering if this is going to kill me because it led up to the day where I had two greatest fears that I was ignoring. Again, in survival mode where you’re in denial. One, will this kill me? Two, will this paralyze me? Until the day I woke up and I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get out of bed. Just like that. I woke up. My legs wouldn’t hold me up. That was a real turning point of the worst has now happened. What do I do now?

            Not having a condition diagnosis, not having the disease to call your own, you are spinning in anxiety and wonder. That causes a lot of stress and your mind never relaxes. What could this be? What could happen? With cancer or multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, you know what could happen. You’re kind of waiting for it, right? You’re living your best life. But when you don’t know, it really spins up your anxiety and that inflames your entire body so that you’re in worse shape than you could ever be because of the inflammation in your body. That was my starting point.

Lara:Wow! That’s quite a starting point and early 20s. How long did you live with not having an answer?

Jim:I don’t have an answer today.

Lara:You don’t? Oh, you really don’t. You don’t have an answer today.

Jim:Everything that happened is still undiagnosed. What they know is that there’s lesions on my spine that went away and may have left scarred nerves, and that’s why I still walk with a limp. That is why chronic pain has set in and a number of other things, but I never had a diagnosis. But after a few years of working with the folks that I call “The Stimulati,” so over this time, when you’re ill, you know this, or when you’re battling a condition, and you meet with someone who knows you or who loves you and they say, “Listen, I just met someone. You have to see them. They can help you. Maybe they can help you.” At first, I was like, “Oh, not another person.”

Lara:Not another one. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:No, you know?

Lara:It’s like everyone has to throw their opinions in. It’s like nothing is working. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Right.

Lara:Right.

Jim:I’ve been all over the country at this point — The Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medical — everywhere. At first, I was like, “Enough is enough. I’m not going to see anyone else.”

Lara:Exactly.

Jim:Let it kill me. Then I came to my senses and I said, “Listen, I’m obviously not dying. This is terrible, but it’s the anxiety and the stress that’s getting to me most.” I decided to just say yes. Any time someone had someone, they said, “I got a guy you should see, a miracle worker.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:I’d say, “Yes, okay.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER] What a great attitude for life. Just say yes. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:[LAUGHTER] Right. Well, that led me to grand masters of Kung Fu, Ecuadorian shaman, Reiki healers, cryotherapy, heliotherapy. It led me to acupuncture, to muscle-activation therapy… over 200 different practitioners of different health modalities, both holistic and science-based. [00:10:00]Those are the folks that really woke up my mind.

Lara:You start saying yes, and then meeting these different people, and just seeing what happened, huh?

Jim:Right.

Lara:An adventure. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:It was an adventure and it was one that I knew I was meant to be on. That when I started to say yes and be open to that experience, everything came rushing to me. So, I met over 200 people, like I said, and I call them my Stimulati, because stimulati is a Latin pronoun that means “to stimulate.” These are the people that can spark passion in you. They can enlighten you. They can empower you. What they did for me was allow me to find ways to lower the inflammation in my mind, the stress, the anxiety, and the depression. In turn, that made me so much healthier. The pain went away. I lost weight. I looked younger. I was more mobile. I wrote a book. I became successful in business. It’s like everything started to fall into place after that.

Lara:Because you started saying yes and venturing out. But the inflammation, I love the inflammation in your mind. Not only inflammation in our body, but inflammation in your mind, which creates the stress, which so many of us are just over inundated with, all of this stress and especially you know living in New York. It’s go, go, go all the time.

Jim:Oh, my. Yeah, people don’t talk about it as much. I don’t know what they call it, but I call it inflammation of the mind.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] I like that.

Jim:So wrapped up in your emotions that you don’t even realize that you’re wrapped up in the emotions. All you know is that you’re yelling at someone. You don’t know why.

A turning point of mine was it was 8:30 in the morning. I’m in the middle of this very upscale and quiet neighborhood called Gramercy Park in New York City. Someone had just gotten in the cab that I expected to get, and I’m in the middle of the street screaming at them.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Uh-oh.

Jim:And I look to my left and there’s a little girl holding her mother’s hand going to school, just looking up at me like, “Who is this crazy guy?”

Lara:[LAUGHTER] You knew you were being triggered. There was something that was triggering you. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:I had zero awareness of it until I was screaming. I said, “Boy, I can’t do this anymore. That’s no way to live. That’s no way to live.” To be into anger so quickly without any awareness that you’re disrupting the lives of other people around you and that you’re all stressed out now at the start of your day, there must be a better way, and I found it.

Lara:I love that. You took it to and I did, too, in my life. It’s like there usually is a catalyst. It’s maybe an illness, or in an event like you going, “I didn’t notice that. What happened?” I like that you… then you decided you wanted to become aware of what was happening and why you were getting angry.

Jim:Once you have a spark of awareness, it’s like we can’t go back.

Lara:No.

Jim:Once you’re like, “Oh, my God.” When you’re in the turmoil of stress and anxiety, or when your anger or frustration or the way you’re reacting to someone, once you become aware that at least it’s happening, at least you’re aware that it’s happening.

Lara:Right.

Jim:You’re feeling that way for a reason. It doesn’t mean you can stop it, but the first step is to say, “Okay, I’m aware that at least this is happening in my body,” and then you work to be able to say, “When I feel that coming on, I’m aware of it and I can change it. I fight it. I make a choice.” That’s what I call “inflammation of the mind,” and when you can kind of take a hold of that and create your own reality out of it, meaning I don’t have to be mad at this moment. I can say, “That guy needed the ride more, and I’m going to give it to him.” That’s generosity and that changes that crazy, inflamed mind into one that’s more calm. That 100% affects what’s in your body, the chemicals being released, the cortisol, the serotonin. It all is affected and will create less inflammation which creates less pain.

Lara:Absolutely.

Jim:Mental and physical.

Lara:Mental and physical. Oh, gosh, Jim. This is a great conversation. We will be right back after break with Jim Curtis and The Stimulati Experience.

[BREAK]

Lara:We’re back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leader. You can find me here at WSRQradio.com or larajaye.com. With me, my amazing guest today is Jim Curtis, The Stimulati Experienceand Jim, welcome back from break.

Jim:Thanks.

Lara:The book, The Stimulati Experience, you were just explaining right before break where the word stimulati came from and all the people that you met. Basically that’s what, for lack of a better word, stimulated you to write the book and go down that direction in sharing all of your yeses. Is that pretty much what you did?

Jim:That’s totally correct. Yeah.

Lara:I love it. I love it. You started having these adventures with people. Tell me about some of your most profound ones.

Jim:Some of the ones that I remember most are not the most profound. They are small realizations that led to, over time, building up into something profound. For example, someone tells me there’s an Ecuadorian shaman coming to New York City. You must see him. I will get you in. I say, “Yes, of course.” Yes. There’s my yes. I will go see an Ecuadorian shaman. He’s a healer. Let’s see what he has to do.

            This is maybe 15 years ago and he’s located in the East Village of Manhattan, which is trendy now. But 15 years ago was rough. We get to the building and it’s a very dirty and old, what we call “walk up,” meaning no elevator. It’s seven stories high, and this is a walk up, so seven stories up. He is on the fifth or sixth floor, so we have to trudge. I have a limp. I am not feeling well. I’m just trying to do something. We’re going to the Ecuadorian shaman on the sixth floor of an East Village walk up. As I’m walking up the stairs, as I do, I’m pulling myself up using the railing. As I do, this old railing snaps off and I start to tumble backwards and luckily catch myself before I fall down four flights of stairs. I immediately think to myself, [LAUGHTER], “No stopping now. I’m going to get there.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER] What am I doing? Right? [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Also, I didn’t get to that point yet.

Lara:Okay, [LAUGHTER] you were still guessing.

Jim:But now I get in and he has an interpreter because he doesn’t speak English. The interpreter says, “Welcome.” The room is lit with only candlelight. There’s not much furniture. There’s a mat on the floor and she says, “Take off your clothes and lay on the mat.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Oh, no!

Jim:I say at that point, “What did I get myself into?” [LAUGHTER] But of course, I say, “Okay. I did this. I’m coming. I’m open. I’m saying yes.” I take off my clothes and lay on the mat. I asked the friend that I was with to come out, and she’s sitting on a chair over in the corner, my girlfriend. All of a sudden, without warning, I smell sage. Then I feel hot sage on my back. He has a large sage branch that he’s now beating my back with trying to clear out any bad [LAUGHTER] energy.

Lara:Oh, my gosh.

Jim:It’s late at night, East Village, scary place, five flights up an old building with someone…

Lara:And you’re laying there naked. It’s not like you can run out. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:[LAUGHTER] Now I’m laying there naked and being beaten with burning sage, and I immediately think, “What the hell did I get myself into?” Excuse the language.

Lara:Exactly. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:At that moment, I just started to laugh. I was so hysterically laughing that I wanted to hold it in. I thought that it would be rude that I was laughing [LAUGHTER] so much at my situation. They said that that was the exorcism, that my laughter was the negative energy coming out of my body. Regardless, the experience ended. He wrapped me up in newspaper. I put my clothes back on, and he said, “Don’t change or shower for a week.” For two days, I went to work with newspaper on my clothes. [00:20:00]I had to tell people this story. I told people the entire story. That’s why I smelled like smoke. I was wearing newspaper under my clothes. Did he cure me? Did he remove any negative energy? Who knows?

Lara:Who knows? [LAUGHTER] Right?

Jim:What he did do was give me a whole heck of a lot of vulnerability. I had to be able to connect with people and tell them this story. I had to be brave enough to actually say, “I’m ready for the worst. I’ll go through this.” That vulnerability is what taught me to actually connect with my emotions and to get better and to be aware and to be open. It all starts with your ability to have a flexible, vulnerable mind.

Lara:Oh, that’s a beautiful story, Jim. Wow! It never turns out like we think, but you never know what we’re going to learn on the outskirts of it, do we? [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Right.

Lara:And looking back. What a great story. What a great story. You wrote The Stimulati Experience, and you have nine tools. Tell me about the… you can give me kind of an overview and then we’ll go in depth on some of them.

Jim:Okay. Well, I put them into, also, nine chapters. The first one is to become aware of the stories that you’re telling. We’re all telling stories. When you meet someone new, you’re in a business meeting or a work setting or a party, you go into kind of like, “This is who I am,” and you explain it through your story that you want to be perceived as.

            Oftentimes, sometimes they’re self-deprecating. Our stories aren’t always positive. They’re real beliefs of who we are. We have to first be aware that we’re telling stories about ourselves and to discover the ones that we have on repeat, the ones that we keep telling ourselves and to others. That’s the first step, is really to understand what stories are you telling. Then where did they come from? Meaning I have some assessments and quizzes in the book that say, “What in your life prompted you to create these stories? Are they helpful or not?” That’s the first step.

Lara:It’s why we believe the things that we do, some of our beliefs, even.

Jim:Well, why we tell ourselves the things that we do.

Lara:Why we tell ourselves. Even for you with a chronic illness, so often people hold on to that and take it with them everywhere, and they become their illness. You seem to not have done that. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Right.

Lara:What’s your secret to that?

Jim:[LAUGHTER] Well, nothing defines me. There’s nothing that defines me. The first thing people notice about me… I just started telling you a story. It’s perfect. Here’s the story I was just going to tell you. The first thing people notice about me is my limp. Guess what? That’s baloney! The first thing that people could notice about me is my hair or the way that I talk. That was a story that I just told, or another story and they’re hard to get rid of, those stories. Another story I had was I can’t get a girlfriend because I’m too ill. I’m sick. No one wants to be with a guy they have to take care of. It’s a burden.

Lara:Sure.

Jim:That’s another baloney story. That’s another “made-up” reality. Some of the things that we tell, whether we want to impress people, whether we want to position ourselves in a light, or if we’re just feeling so badly. We think we’re a terrible person because we have shame in having an illness or something else that we tell a story like that.

Lara:Wow, that’s great. Then your second point in your book is about what?

Jim:Realizing the truth. Here’s the truth. This is the undeniable truth. The only thing that’s happening to you is the thing that’s happening right now in this moment. The stuff that happened to you in the past no longer exists anywhere but your mind so that you can control your mind. You can control how you feel about that stuff. Worrying about the stuff that’s going to happen to you in the future is pointless because it’s not here yet and doesn’t exist.

            The only thing that exists is now. Therefore, you can control your own reality and the realities that you buy into based on are you dredging up old memories that should be resolved all the time and limiting yourself, and creating your reality based on something that’s no longer happening? Or is the reality so dark that you know something bad is going to happen in the future, or you’ll then change the reality based on the truth that it’s happening now, moment by moment, and nothing else exists yet?

Lara:It reminds me of the story you just told with the taxi, and it’s in that moment that you became aware, and instead, you were triggered and you brought the past into that present moment.

Jim:Right, yep. The same with the story I just told about I was in that moment. I became aware that I’d started telling you a story, right, just a moment ago. That I said, “This is my story.” I became aware of it, and then I made a choice to change it to the reality I want is that I’m labeled by no illness.

Lara:Exactly.

Jim:Right?

Lara:Yes.

Jim:My story was the first thing people notice about me is my limp, and I realized that I was starting to tell a story out of awareness. I made a conscious choice to say, “That’s just not true.”

Lara:It’s not true.

Jim:You can become aware. It’s all about choice. The first thing is awareness. Then make the right choice.

Lara:Then make the right choice. I love it. Then #3?

Jim:#3: Now you got to reprogram it. We all have shame and anger and resentment, and shame, anger, and resentment is holding you back. You’ve got to forgive. You’ve got to release the shame. You’ve got to forgive yourself. You’ve got to forgive others and start to create a new reality. The third part is showing you how to reprogram that stuff. Because once you get rid of it, you live a much better life.

Lara:I love it. We are going to be right back with Jim Curtis.

[BREAK]

Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand I’m here with Jim Curtis with The Stimulati Experience, an amazing book. You can, I think, find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Is that right, Jim?

Jim:It’s in all bookstores nationwide, but you can buy it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google.

Lara:Yay, great. Where can people find you? What’s your URL?

Jim:You can find me at jimcurtis1 on Instagram, jimcurtis.us. www.jimcurtis.us. That’s my website address and also on Facebook at The Stimulati.

Lara:Great! Right before break, we covered the first three tools. Can you repeat those first three before we go on?

Jim:Sure. Tool #1: Discovering the story you have on repeat. Discover your story. Tool #2: Realize the truth. We show you how to realize the truth. The only truth is the truth that is now. Then how to reprogram your shame, your anger, and your resentment so you can get rid of those things so you can start to move on.

Lara:Yeah, is that really possible? Can we reprogram to move on?

Jim:I did.

Lara:You did. [LAUGHTER] I did, too. [LAUGHTER] People can do it, can’t they?

Jim:Yeah.

Lara:Love it. Okay, #4.

Jim:#4 is one of my favorite chapters. It’s getting from lovesick to love.

Lara:What does that mean?

Jim:I thought of this chapter. I was in love with this girl. I was so, so in love with this girl, and she was… I say she was my… when I was ill and I was in survival mode, what I call survival mode is denial so you can get through a tough thing. She goes, “Jim, how are you feeling?” I’d always say, “You can’t hurt Superman,” in that way, but no vulnerability there, but it resulted in zero more questions. “Okay, he doesn’t want to talk about this.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:I called this girl my “blue-eyed kryptonite.” I fell hard in love with her and it didn’t work out. It didn’t work out, and when it didn’t work out, I was in such heartache. The most amazing broken heart. I was lovesick. What I started to realize is that the mental anguish of the loss of this relationship was making me physically sick. I started to relapse. My limp was worse. My pain was back. The inflammation in my body was much worse. I was gaining weight. I was always tired and fatigued.

            I realized that it was because of my mental symptoms of lovesickness I was neglecting and causing issues within my body. Then I went on to realize that this doesn’t have to be just from a relationship. Everybody has a tough relationship that ends. They’ve made movies and books and love stories about this since the dawn of time.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Yep.

Jim:You have a broken heart. But now consider this. Consider if the relationship that we’re in most, that’s the relationship with ourselves, constantly talking and living with ourselves. We can’t get away from ourselves. What if we’re in a brokenhearted relationship with ourselves, meaning we really don’t like ourselves? We’re not being nice to ourselves. When we look in the mirror in the morning, we say, “Damn, you’re getting old,” instead of, “Hey, beautiful.”

Lara:Hey, beautiful. It’s like, “Ah! There’s another wrinkle, another gray hair. Ah!” [00:30:02]

Jim:[LAUGHTER] Exactly. What if that not loving ourselves, what if that kind of lovesick relationship with ourselves is causing us to be sick mentally and physically? You don’t have to have a broken heart from a broken relationship with another person when you’re not loving yourself. It can happen the same way.

Lara:The disconnection with yourself. That’s what my book was about. Absolutely! [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Really? Yeah, I looked at your book.

Lara:It was. It was.

Jim:It was fantastic.

Lara:More Than Enough. It was I hated myself, but I knew that hatred was causing the chemicals in your body which makes things shut down.

Jim:Mm-hmm.

Lara:So you experienced it in a different way, and then you were able to really see it.

Jim:I see everything as a blessing, and unfortunately, my blessings are very painful. I guess I’m not smart enough to learn quickly.

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:It’s like, “Oh, oh, okay. The universe has to put me into a wheelchair before I realize I need to do something different.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:This is it’s like, “Oh, you need to realize you need to love yourself first. Let’s give you a girl and break your heart, and then you’ll realize that.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:I learned the hard way, but I learned and I really learned from that and I wrote chapter four about that.

Lara:I love it and you say, “Love unlocks the first door that will lead you to happiness and meaning.” I so agree with that. That’s beautiful. It does. It’s love for yourself first, because we can’t expect someone else to love us if we don’t love ourselves, right?

Jim:Yeah, no one.

Lara:You can’t.

Jim:You will never be able to allow their love if you don’t love… it will feel so weird to you. “Why is this person being so nice? They’re needy or something.”

Lara:Yes.

Jim:That’s what you start to tell yourself because you’re like, “How could they possibly love me?”

Lara:Right.

Jim:It’s true. You don’t trust it.

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:Until you realize, “Oh, hey. I’m pretty good. I’m all right.”

Lara:That’s right.

Jim:I’m all right. I kind of like myself.

Lara:I kind of like myself.

Jim:I got good things today.

Lara:That’s right. Oh, I love it.

Jim:Then you allow love in.

Lara:Then you can finally allow it in, which is beautiful. Yay! #5: Surround yourself with stories that heal and inspire.

Jim:Sometimes the best way to love yourself is to say goodbye to some people.

Lara:Ooh, that’s hard! [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Really hard.

Lara:Ouch.

Jim:Really hard. I have done it. I’ve had to do it and sometimes the best way to love yourself is to say, “This person in my life is a really negative influence that doesn’t support my dreams, that is bringing me down, that undermines me, and I get stressed and triggered every time I’m around them. For my own health, because I love me, perhaps it’s time to say goodbye and move on to something better, to people around me who support me, who raise me up.” Because when you get those people around you, everything becomes easier. You’re not fighting the tide. Instead, people are lifting you up. You don’t have to be the most positive person in the room because others are positive, too. That’s what this is about. If you can’t remove it, if it’s your mother, if it’s your wife…

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Yeah, what do you do with that?

Jim:You’re not saying goodbye to mom. I mean she did give birth to you, so you have boundaries.

Lara:Boundaries.

Jim:You need to have healthy boundaries. “You can’t talk to me like that.” Maybe that’s what you say to yourself, but I’m not going to allow you to influence me in that way because I have boundaries. Creating boundaries with other people is a sign of self-love.

Lara:It is very important to do that. It was difficult for me for years to do it, but I had to take a stand, so I know what you’re saying. I think a lot of our listeners… and I used to think, “Oh, I can handle being around the negative people,” and then what is that quote that you become the five people that you hang out with.

Jim:Right!

Lara:[LAUGHTER] And it’s so true. It’s so true.

Jim:Yes, yes.

Lara:It’s like look at your friends because that’s what… and I read a study the other day that our brainwaves actually change to theirs, to match the people around us. That was kind of scary. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Yeah.

Lara:It makes you think. It makes you think, “Is this the life that I want to live?”

Jim:Yeah. I used to think, “I don’t mind being around negative people because it’s my purpose in life to bring people into the light.”

Lara:Yes.

Jim:Yes, that’s true. But at the same time, the folks that are closest to me in my life have to be supportive and other things, and I’m not going to be… I love myself enough not to be brought down into self-loathing.

Lara:Yeah.

Jim:I create the boundaries.

Lara:You create the boundaries. But for me, it’s so hard to tell people no or tell people… I don’t want to hurt anybody. Then that’s difficult, but it’s like you have to.

Jim:Because you’re healer. You’re a healing person.

Lara:You have to in order to take care of yourself first. Because then we’re no good to anybody if we’re down, right? [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Right, exactly.

Lara:We can’t do that. We can’t do that. All right, #6.

Jim:#6 is so now you have to figure out your own purpose.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] This is a tough one.

Jim:It’s like, “Oh, okay. That’s a really difficult one.” But I’m not saying just find your purpose. I’m saying start to identify a new story and some goals. Meaning now that you’re aware of your old story may be a little bit off, what’s your new story? My new story was I think I have the ability to help people. I’m going to write a book and become an author. Before that was I’m a terrible Wall Street trader. I’m going to go into hell.

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:I changed that story to say… create your new story, and out of that story, when you feel flow and passion… flow, I describe flow as doing something that encompasses you so much you forget to check your cellphone. You don’t look at your phone.

Lara:That’s huge. [LAUGHTER] That’s huge.

Jim:Yeah, huge. You forget to look at your iPhone because you’re so into it. That’s flow.

Lara:That’s flow.

Jim: When you find something that creates flow or passion, start to create your story around that. I do this or I am this. That will lead to, “Hey, I’m meant to do this. That’s my purpose.”

Lara:You started with that, kind of changing your mental affirmation in your head?

Jim:We didn’t realize that this was where it was going until years later. But yes, when I was first graduating from college, I’m like, “I’m going to. Despite I had an illness, I’m going to be a Wall Street trader,” and that’s what I wanted to be. Then I got to be a Wall Street trader. I’m like, “This job is no fun at all.” It’s really terrible.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Nope.

Jim:Oh, I’m terrible at it.

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:I had to change my story into what I want to be great at what I do and enjoy it. Then a job came. I got it, and then my story evolved from there. Now I’m conscious of it. So sometimes people are unconscious of, “I’m just meant to be in this job because it pays the rent.” Yes, you need a job that pays the rent. Those are realities that we’re part of, but there’s more.

Lara:There’s more. There’s always more and we have more after break. We’ll be right back.

[BREAK]

Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leader, and we’re in our last segment with Jim Curtis and The Stimulati Experience. I have so enjoyed our time, Jim. Tell me the website again where people can find you.

Jim:www.jimcurtis.us.

Lara:Okay, that’s an easy one to remember. Jim, J-i-m-c-u-r-t-i-s.us, right?

Jim:That’s right.

Lara:Awesome! You are in the U.S. You’re in New York, which is the U.S.

Jim:Yeah.

Lara:Right before break, we were going over the nine points in your book and just an amazing story of you’re living with this chronic illness, and you still don’t really have a diagnosis, but you want to share the things that changed you, changed your mental and physical to live this amazing life, even though you’re still living with this chronic illness. So many Americans and people in the world are living with chronic illnesses. Do you have any studies? Are you aware of any studies about how many people are really sick?

Jim:I saw some stats. I don’t want to misquote, but 100 million.

Lara:Yeah, it’s amazing.

Jim:Here’s what I often say. We’re all chronically ill. There’s no one, unless you’re a bodhisattva…

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Right.

Jim:You’ve been studying Buddhism. You’re an enlightened one. You’re suffering chronically from stress and anxiety, right?

Lara:Yes.

Jim:Oftentimes, that goes untreated, right? You have to have severe depression to actually get a prescription drug for that, and I think… yeah, so we’re walking around with so much stress, anxiety and worry saying that we’re healthy.[00:40:08]It’s just not true. I had that. I had a lot of stress, anxiety, worry, and a lot of chronic pain, all resulting from something that was undiagnosed. I have gotten rid of all those symptoms.

Lara:By doing these nine things in your book.

Jim:Consistently.

Lara:Consistently.

Jim:Yes.

Lara:For how many years now?

Jim:Really consistently for the last five years. That’s when I kind of found meditation. That’s when I found an exercise that I could do. That’s stretching and other things. When I finally, finally, finally, finally said to myself, “Hey, you’re really not that bad of a guy.”

Lara: [LAUGHTER] You had to start telling yourself you’re a good guy.

Jim:I had to start believing it.

Lara:You had to start believing it. [LAUGHTER] Right, we all have to.

Jim:Yeah.

Lara:Yeah, that’s the key. I’m so with you. Let’s talk more about your different points because I know listeners are going to want to know, and I think we’re on #7.

Jim:This is #7 and these are all in the book in chapters. Chapter seven is finding the formula for health and happiness and healing. Really, here’s the formula, everybody. Here’s the formula. Connection, meaning your connection to the people around you, the good, positive, uplifting people around you and those people that you’re contributing to. So connection + worthiness. Knowing your worth, feeling worthy, connection with people, feeling your worthiness leads to contribution, meaning you now have to start to give.

            You really don’t ever find your purpose or health if you’re not giving, if you’re not contributing, because we’re all in relationship and you need to start to give. Contribution, this contribution is giving leads to your purpose. Finding what you’re passionate about. Studies on purpose in life have shown that it reduces the instance of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It reduces the symptoms of diabetes and heart disease. That was studied by Dr. Adam Kaplin at Johns Hopkins Medical. So, connection + worthiness leads to your contribution. When you start to contribute, you find your purpose. When you find your purpose, you finally feel truly significant.

Lara:Because you’re contributing and giving back.

Jim:There is something that you’re passionate and that you are meant to do. When you start to feel significant, that lowers all the concern, all the “I’m not good enough,” all the “I’m not enough,” all the inadequacies. Without those, you are in a calm state, and that leads to healing.

Lara:So think back to… I’ll bring it back to the Wall Street, that stress and anxiety of that. So many men and women — especially in their 40s, 50s, 60s — are working these really high-stress, high-anxiety jobs. They haven’t really, maybe, found their purpose or maybe they think this is what they’re supposed to do. It’s because they’re making the money. But in the end, a lot of them are just so stressed that they’re hurting their bodies. For you, I know you made a conscious choice to leave that. But for somebody who’s still in it and you’re saying find your purpose and contribution, how can you do that when you still need to make the money?

Jim:Got to make that money.

Lara:Got to make that money, pay those bills. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:I hope they all don’t quit their job in finance, right? Because if a whole lot of people in finance quit their job, [LAUGHTER] we’re going to have an economic meltdown.

Lara:Yeah, we don’t want that. [LAUGHTER]

Jim:Yes, you have to have jobs. Hopefully, the folks that you have stressful jobs, one, enjoy what they’re doing. Those that don’t, I hope they do two things. 1. Find things outside of your job that create meaning for you. Whether it’s through your church, whether it’s through your temple, whether it’s through your community, find a way to give back. That will create meaning and purpose in your life.

            Then think of the people that you work with. How do you do more than just your job? How do you engage and interact with those people in a way that gives them some value? You start to reframe your job from, “This is a really tough, stressful environment,” to, “I’m here to provide value for the people I work with.” That starts to change your mindset. It starts to change your whole purpose in your career. Instead of saying, “Oh, no. My boss is yadda, yadda,” or something that’s causing you stress at work, reframe it and say, “I’m here to contribute value or I’m here to make John’s job easier.”       Lastly, get a real meditation practice. Before work, in the afternoon, and after work. It’s like an antibiotic for the mind.

Lara:It really is. It really is. I love it. #8 in your book.

Jim:Chapter eight. We’re getting towards the end here.

Lara:I know.

Jim:Living a meaningful life. Everybody says, “I want to be happy.”

Lara:Oh, yeah, that happy word.

Jim:I want to be happy.

Lara:I want to be happy.

Jim:I want to be happy. No one says, “I want to be scared.”

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Well, there’s probably people.

Jim:Oh, actually, at times, you do want to be scared. It’s kind of fun.

Lara:That’s right.

Jim:You see a scary movie or otherwise. But we talk about happiness as if it’s a 100% constant state. Happiness is not a constant state. It’s like fear. Some people are fearful more than others, but there’s never a time where every second of the day that you’re fearful. You can’t be happy every second of the day. It’s an emotion. What it translates into is meaningfulness. So oftentimes, they did a study I read recently on the difference between meaningfulness and happiness. Which would you rather be? Who’s more happy? Those heathens that are always…

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Jim:They’re always happy or the people that are meaning… and it turned out that people that strive to have more happiness than meaning are happier. Here’s why. Meaning is derived from the children you have. Your children are difficult. You love them. They’re wonderful, but you have to wake up and feed them when they’re unhappy. You have to spend your money on them. You have to make sure that they’re healthy and happy and well adjusted. Although that creates a ton of meaning, and it also creates responsibility and some stress and concern.

            Also, being married to one person for your life is extremely lovely and meaningful. However, you can’t just go [LAUGHTER] fishing with the guys or meet someone in a bar. That kind of creates a little bit of happiness there. A meaningful life is one that you derive more substantive pleasure from over a long period of time, and it gives back to the world and that will have a lot of happiness in it. But we can’t all strive to be happy all the time or else we won’t develop.

Lara:You’re saying bring in a combination of the two.

Jim:Bring in a combination of the two and strive for living a meaningful life that can contribute and create purpose for you as opposed to, “I’m just going to do what makes me happy now.”

Lara:Nice. Oh, go ahead.

Jim:Happiness is fleeting and meaning lasts a lot longer.

Lara:I love it. Unfortunately, we only have about 30 seconds left for #9, so tell me about #9.

Jim:Okay, now stop being so frightened of everything. What’s the worst thing that can happen? If the worst thing does happen, you’ll overcome that. That’s when you find out you are adequate and you can push fear aside. Now take some action. Don’t just read my book. Go out and do one of the exercises in it because there comes a time when you’ve got to put the books down and actually do. That’s the last chapter.

Lara:That’s the key, really, Jim, is doing it, right? We can read all day long, but it’s about doing it. Doing the work.

Jim:Exactly, yes.

Lara:You’ve got to do the work. [LAUGHTER] It has been such a pleasure connecting with you today. Thank you, Jim, for being on the show.

Jim:You’re welcome. Thank you.

Lara:Yeah. Thank you, listeners, for joining us on The Zen Leaderand I invite you to listen in every Saturday at 10AM here on WSRQ, online, or on our iTunes podcast for even more amazing conversations with visionaries and myself who are here to help share their wisdom. You all have a great weekend. Thanks for joining us.

[MUSIC]

 

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