,By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Big family meals, office holiday parties, and festive happy hours. There's this misconception that only introverts need alone time and extroverts can just keep going and going. Well guess, what? We all need time that's just for us. As we move into the holiday season it might seem counter-intuitive to think about alone time. But with all the awesome craziness that comes with the end of the year, it could be just what you need.
I love meeting new people, joking around with strangers, and connecting with people I care about. But as social as I am and as social as our students become, alone time is still vital. My close friends can attest to me freaking out and needing alone time after social binges.
Imagine you're lost in an underwater cave and then discover an air pocket. That's how Eric Time feels to me. Precious. Most of my best ideas, music and thoughts have come when I was alone. I think a lot. (Maybe too much, but I'll have to think about that.) Chilling out on my own, I've come up with unique ways to solve business challenges or handle relationship issues. These moments of insight come when we quiet our surroundings and our minds.
Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century French philosopher, said, "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." So apparently we had a hard time just being on our own way before we had smart phones and the endless internet to distract the hell out of us.
Choosing to spend time alone is different from loneliness. Alone time can be really fun and you get to do exactly what you want. When I make time for myself, I love reading, playing the guitar, exploring, having adventures, and meditating (to quiet that monkey mind). I just booked a getaway for three days in beautiful Kenwood, up in Sonoma County. I'm bringing a laptop, two books and my guitar. I hope to get some good work done and plenty of relaxing, while throwing FOMO in the wind. Will I miss out on parties, brunches, and cool events in the city that weekend? Sure. But I'll be breathing in that sweet air of Eric Time and I know I'll come home feeling recharged and ready for more.
This holiday season, in-between time with family and friends, remember to take care of yourself and make time for you too.
By Viet Phan, Jaunty graduate
I've always suffered from social anxiety for as long as I can remember. During my childhood, any form of social interaction—from answering the telephone, to ordering a hamburger at McDonald's, to even speaking to my own family and friends—would make me feel anxious and tremble with fear. I was labeled as anti-social, passive, shy, and introverted, and because of that, I grew up with a lot of fear, shame, and guilt.
I coped with my anxiety the only way I knew how: by working extremely hard in life and by being really kind to others. I hoped that achieving success could help combat some of the negative labels that had been placed on me. I hoped that by sacrificing myself by helping others I would receive their appreciation and approval in return.
I worked hard at everything. I put in extra time at the office to advance my career. I trained for many hours at the gym to improve my physical appearance. I even pushed myself to take up public speaking and ballroom dancing classes to help overcome anxiety and find some comfort in my own skin. And I continued to do my best to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others.
It all went according to plan, and eventually I found myself having everything I had ever wanted in life: a beautiful, loving girlfriend, a successful career, and the recognition from others. Everything seemed perfectly happy on the outside…
On the inside, however, it was a much different story. Despite all of the love and happiness in my relationship, I found myself overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and emptiness. Despite all of the successes in my career, I couldn't escape the feelings of inadequacy. And despite having the support of my family and friends, I couldn't help but feel exhausted and bitter from a lifetime of seeking external approval and validation.
One day, I found myself staring into the mirror and asking myself, "Who are you?" I began rationalizing with myself, "Maybe I'm just one of those people who are incapable of happiness."
I started to pull away until my girlfriend finally decided to end the relationship. Some of my last words to her were: "I'm not happy and I'm not sure why," and, "I just want to feel free for once in my life..."
After some soul searching, I started to understand that I had been suffering from depression, a low sense of self worth, poor communication skills, and a lack of self awareness. The self discovery left me heartbroken and devastated. I eventually found treatment through therapy, and started reading books about cognitive behavioral therapy, relationships, communication, self-esteem, and masculinity. I finally understood that my anxiety and unhappiness was due to my inability to love myself.
I decided to move from Los Angeles to San Francisco with the goal of pushing myself outside my comfort zone, expanding my boundaries, and finding myself. But since I was all alone in a new city, I wasn't sure where to begin. I started joining Meetup events when I saw Jaunty's free workshop on how to deal with social anxiety and improve your social intelligence. I felt that it was exactly what I was looking for.
I took the free workshop with Eric, Jaunty's founder, and was immediately impressed by his knowledge and understanding. After following up with the private session, I was sold and decided to sign up for the full six-week Jaunty course. It ended up being the best decision I ever made.
The true value of the Jaunty course is how it breaks down social intelligence concepts into really simple, yet powerful tools that anybody can use. Jaunty provided me with real techniques that helped me develop the knowledge and courage to manage my anxiety and ultimately build the confidence and ability to truly express myself.
There's nothing more powerful and inspiring than being surrounded by amazing people who are all in the same boat as you are. The inspiration and support from my classmates truly inspired me to trust the methods taught by Jaunty, to push myself to apply the things that I learned, and to ultimately hold myself accountable for my own personal growth.
In my honest opinion, the real magic behind the Jaunty course is Eric himself. Before Jaunty, I was unable to accept myself because I couldn't shake the stigma of being introverted, and the belief that having anxiety meant that I was mentally weak. However, Eric really understood where I was coming from, and helped me understand that I'm not less of a person by any means, and that anxiety is not a character flaw, but rather, something that I can work on. Eric is truly passionate about helping his students. His empathy, understanding, and support really pushed me to overcome my negative sense of self-worth and to start learning how to love and respect myself.
It's been a few months since I completed the course, and I have done things that I never thought would be possible. I have been meeting new people and making new friends everywhere I go. I had the courage to approach the most beautiful women at the hottest pool party in Las Vegas. The anxiety hasn't completely gone away, but I'm now able to embrace it and then replace it with excitement. The feelings of inadequacy are being replaced with feelings of confidence and self-esteem. Bitter resentful feelings have been replaced with feelings of gratitude and appreciation. I still don't have all of the answers, but thanks to Jaunty, I am no longer letting anxiety stand in the way of the person that I want to become.
My name is Viet and I know that who I am continues to grow with all of the new experiences that I encounter in my life. And thanks to Jaunty, I learned that I definitely am capable of happiness. And I finally feel free, for the first time in my life.
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
How are you doing at life? Where are you right now? Kicking some ass? Struggling a bit? Somewhere in between?
I was recently invited to Vanity Fair's Summit here in SF. I got to see some amazing speakers, people who in a lot of ways are kicking ass and people who are changing the world. One of my favorite speakers was Jony Ive, Apple's top designer. I mean, this guy had a big hand in the design of the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad…etc. Brian Grazer, whose book I recently read about curiosity, was moderating a discussion with Jony Ive and JJ Abrams. Jony Ive said "Curiosity means you are comfortable with being wrong." Maybe we can increase our curiosity and actually be more okay with being wrong.
For me, part of that means taking risks. I've taken big risks like starting Jaunty, asking someone out, raising money from friends and family, and saying no, or sometimes yes. And every day I take little risks, like making a joke with a stranger, even though they might think I'm weird or am being serious. At Vanity Fair's Summit, I was surrounded by amazing people who had all pushed themselves in some way and taken risks to get to where they are now. It was really inspiring.
Kicking ass at life doesn't mean getting everything perfect all the time. That's impossible. But to me it's about having the courage to acknowledge when things aren't working so well and getting curious about how to make it better. Entrepreneur James Altucher focuses on being one percent better a day. I love that.
Get your shit together. Well, what does this mean? As much as I loved being the alternative punk, adored Kurt Cobain, and miss Amy Winehouse, the more I spent time with people who had their shit together, the happier I felt. Don't interpret having your shit together as being straight edge or boring either. If you really want to start to get your shit together or are motivated to learn a few things that can enhance your life, here are my thoughts on some areas to work on:
Money: This is by far the easiest to learn. I spent six years as a financial planner and I only scratched the surface of the topic of Finance. But you don't need to be a financial expert to be smart with money. According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, eight in ten Americans have some sort of debt and a Nasdaq study says 34% of Americans have revolving credit card debt. Whether it's student loans or credit card debt, it's not going to go away on its own. Educate yourself. It won't take that long. Whatever your financial situation, there are tools and things you can do to help yourself. Get curious about how you spend your money and how you could save more. Learn about the ins and outs of budgeting, credit cards, and stocks. They don't teach the differences between a student loan and a student grant in our high schools. I think they should. You are not alone.
Relationships: Everyone deserves a rich social life and a loving partner. Get curious about what kind of people you want around you. Having close friends, a partner, and the ability to get along with most people at work and in your daily life is crucial to our happiness. Some studies even show that married people live longer on average than single people. Love and support rules. Take some risks and approach more strangers. If you've already come to one of Jaunty's free social intelligence workshops, then you have some idea of what to say. If you've done our six-week course then you know you can take the conversation wherever you want.
Health: When we take care of ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally, we feel better and are better able to function. Listen to your body. I love snacking on mochi or a falafel but I usually feel like crap afterwards. What kind of food will nourish you? What kind of exercise is your body asking for? If the gym isn't your thing, go for a hike, dance, or get on top more in bed. Here are some more fun ideas.
Get curious about what you're really curious about. What do you want your life to look like? Are you curious enough to actually do something about it…or are you only curious enough to hope something will happen? Take a step in the right direction, even if it's a small one. One percent a day better!
How are you getting your shit together today?
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Whoever invented the selfie stick must be a billionaire by now. I recently got back from traveling to Israel for a family wedding and then Greece to spend time with family and friends. It was a great trip. In Greece I spent most of my time in Oia on Santorini. You'd recognize the town from calendar photos even if you don't know the name. The place is stunning with pastel houses nestled into the hillside, overlooking the Mediterranean. Everywhere I went I saw tourists taking selfies like their whole trip revolved around it. Just being in this beautiful place wasn't enough. They wanted to show it off to the folks at home, former co-workers, and old friends they haven't seen since high school.
This desire for external validation and "fame" is all part of what I call the Big Me movement. Big Me is about curating the perception of you on social media. It means playing the role of celebrity and paparazzi. It means broadcasting a very specific side of your life and pretending that the dull moments, disappointments and insecurities don't exist.
We live in the Big Me generation, but we can choose another route instead. I call it the "Under the Radar Route." I love this route. One of the most well-connected and powerful friends I have, taught me a long time ago to come across as the "little guy."
Here are some ideas to play with getting less external validation.
1. Try taking a fun trip without checking-in at the airport or posting any pictures of it. I love exploring new places, even for a weekend. Most of my experiences are not well documented, and those are sometimes the best ones.
2. Help a co-worker, business partner, or loved one with something big, and don't take any credit for it. In fact, give them all the credit.
3. Simplify your life. Less is more. No need to keep up with your neighbors, you only need to keep up with you. When I sold my house and downsized my possessions and the people in my life, I was way happier. I realized I got a lot more out of life once I was surrounded by quality people who taught me things and who I really care about. Also talk less. I talk a lot in a work context, but outside I try and listen more.
4. Cut back on social media. My social media pages suck and that's a good thing. Seriously, they don't represent me at all because I've stopped actively adding to them all the time.
5. Say no to some experiences. If you feel like you are going to some party or event because you have to for someone else, or it'd be good for your reputation...then, umm, don't go every time. Go to the ones that will help you grow and that you will enjoy.
Enjoy the moments you have. Take pictures for nostalgia or to share with loved ones who really do care. Be aware of your motivations. Before you click, ask yourself why you're posting something and what a "like" means to you. If it's too much for other people, try reining in that Big Me mentality and living your life for you.
Have other ideas for putting Big Me in check and weaning ourselves off external validation? I'd love to hear from you.
By Joe Hill, Jaunty graduate
There is something special about moving to a new place. Everything that you've done in the past becomes irrelevant. Cliché says, "You can be whoever you want to be; no one knows you." What happens, though, when you try to be someone else but continue the same behavior? Nothing.
I moved to San Francisco in April of 2015. In the year prior, I lost 100 pounds and taught myself about men's style. I'd created a website to help other men become remarkable in their own health and fitness. I was determined that, as I left my old life to begin anew in body, spirit and career, I was going to be different.
I realized quickly, though, that I didn't know how to be anyone else. My entire life, I'd thrived on the affirmation of others. I needed everyone's approval. I was fat and sloppy and relied on the "funny guy routine" to get other people to like me. It never mattered what I wanted; my job was to become a chameleon to my surroundings because that's how I obtained the approval of others.
It was my goal to change. It's an interesting place to be ready to change but not to know how. As the Buddhist proverb would have it, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Enter Jaunty.
I'd lived in California for four days when I went to a free Jaunty workshop, and five when I met Eric Waisman for a one-on-one. I was eager to dive in and dive I did.
The six-week course was valuable. The treasure of Jaunty is that you leave each class with the courage, knowledge, and drive to begin to change. I would begin the homework with just enough gallantry to make one small change, then another.
There was a specific change that I struggled to make about halfway through the class. I didn't know it then, but this one change, this single experience, would open the floodgates of progress and put me in a place where my life was completely changed. That struggle was familiar to many of us and is known commonly as "approach anxiety"; Seeing an attractive person and feeling unable to start talking to them.
While working with Jaunty coach Craig Gibbons in a one-on-one session, I saw her: the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
"Go," Craig encouraged me.
"Go now," he commanded.
I was stunned. To Craig, this was normal and within the bounds of where my progress should have lied. To me, however, she was an angel with no interest in talking to me. I became overwhelmed and stunned.
"Go make her day," he said in a final effort. Light bulb. I finally understood that it wasn't about me. She was going to be excited about this. He was right. I approached and as soon as I began speaking, the anxiety subsided. Her soft features were countermanded by the smile that stretched across her face. She was glowing. It was in this moment that I realized that I have the capacity to be the person who goes after what I want in every area of my life.
In a new city where I accepted the challenge and wasn't sure what to expect from Jaunty, I left the course with a new skill-set, new confidence, and new friends. All of that is mute in comparison to my new mindset. At the end of the course we were asked, "What is your biggest takeaway?"
I said, "I am allowed to have the edge. I am allowed to have what I want. I am allowed to have the girl, the job, the friends; I am allowed."
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
Originally published in Jaunty's September 2014 newsletter
"Let's check out that art thing over there with the spinning umbrellas and then go to the Hug Deli."
This was my second year at Burning Man and I know I'll keep going back for more. It's the sense of community I feel out there from 70,000 people coming together to build a temporary city in the desert. It's people's openness, emotional vulnerability and how present we are without the distractions of our phones. And it's the tremendous sense of social freedom I feel on the Playa.
The event has a reputation for being cool and it certainly is. But this is cool without attitude. It's the real cool of people doing whatever they like and following their joy. It's a nonjudgmental cool. If you want to play on the swings in a tutu, that's great. (If you're a dude then that's great too.) If your joy is to walk around naked or in shorts and a t-shirt, or check out workshops on geology or astrology or bondage, that's all cool too.
When I took Jaunty's six-week course last spring, I learned that no one really cares what we do anyway. When we're twisted up in knots with social anxiety, afraid of what other people will think of us, we're the ones doing the twisting.
Over the past few months I had become a bit complacent and stopped pushing myself to do as many cold approaches. Burning Man was the kick in the pants I needed to get my Jaunty on again. On the Playa, I struck up conversations with countless strangers every day. It felt effortless and fun.
Now, back in the "default world," I've cleaned the dust off my things, but I've kept that feeling of social freedom right here at my side. I feel more playful again, interacting with strangers and not worrying what other people think. To me, the Burning Man culture is a breath of fresh air and I feel energized to keep following my joy and building the community I want here in the Bay Area.
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
These are the people in our neighborhood.
Summer camp was amazeballs. Camp Grounded, up in Mendocino, was four full days of campfires, workshops, jumping into rivers, ziplining, sneaking into camp crushes' camps, ropes courses, and deep conversations. At this summer camp for adults, we were unplugged for four days... yet fully connected to one another. What made it so powerful was no talk about work, no devices, no clocks, and only nicknames.
My personal revelation from camp was my emotional state. I've never gone from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and back again, all within a matter of hours. I went from getting choked up over a deep conversation or the love of people at camp, to laughing so hard I almost pissed my pants, to being scared out of my head 70 feet up in the air on a tightrope. (At Jaunty, we teach how to take people on this sort of emotional journey in our conversations to build a meaningful connection.) It was also great getting my hands dirty in the woods. At the end of the day, it's really about community. All I wanted to do was give. Give to others and myself, and to nature.
I believe amazing things can happen when we unplug and pay attention to our surroundings. Jason Bourne knew it took five steps to get to the fire escape, and Andy Warhol noticed the Campbell soup can on the counter.
Look around today. Right now. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Did you notice that person over there? They could be your future friend/colleague/lover, but only if you make the first move.
This month a few things have got me thinking about environmental awareness. I was in the gym locker room, after a workout, looking forward to relaxing in the steam room. It's my favorite part of working-out. I walked behind a guy who was headed the same way. He opened the steam room door just a crack, squeezed inside, and let the door close in front of me. Surprised, I grabbed the door and found a seat inside.
I asked myself: How often does someone in that situation a) notice others behind them b) understand how they can affect how others feel, and c) give a shit?
We're quick to only focus on C and judge them. But what if they really weren't aware of their surroundings or weren't thinking about it?
The other day, I saw a woman crying on the corner at a busy intersection on Market Street. Hundreds of people walked by and didn't notice her, or felt too uncomfortable to stop. She looked half homeless. Her friends were nearby waiting it out. I kneeled down and said hi, and asked her how I could help. She said she had just gotten her heart broken, and we spoke for a few minutes. Her friends came up to me and thanked me for supporting her. We are all in this together!
At camp, it was easy to see all those awesome people in the woods as my community. Out here in the big bad City, it can be harder to hold on to that mindset, but I think it's just as important. Let's pay attention to the people around us, give folks the benefit of the doubt if they lack awareness, and help where we can. I'd love for the Jaunty community to be a force for good in our larger community. Go get 'em!
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Ouch. That hurts. Okay, so what's your suffering? Mine are self criticism, health paranoia, and some insomnia/fatigue. These sometimes lead to bouts of depression, or maybe the bouts are isolated. I have no idea. Now let's be clear, these don't define me, or run my life, but are the bumps in my road. Sometimes however, these together can create a lot of stress and worry for me, and it's pretty unbearable.
For years I would battle my suffering flare ups. I would wage war on them by doubling down on "fun" people in my life, parties, more gym or travel, or making more money. These things can help, but not very much. Looking back, I think I was trying to distract myself instead of addressing what wasn't right in my life.
2008-2010 was tough. I was working in an industry I hated. Then I got laid off by Merrill Lynch during the financial crises, slipped a disc in my back, went through a crushing break up, and watched my first startup fail after years of hard work. I could barely walk for months; I was
suffering, and way more than I should have because of the above mentioned culprits. During that time I also became way more introspective. This triggered my deeper exploration of human behavior, which eventually brought me to Jaunty. Those challenging moments are so good at stripping away the things that are less important, and shining a light on what is. I found out much more about who I was when all I could focus on was my healing.
We continuously seek happiness. However, it is these challenging times of our lives that have the biggest and often most positive long-term impacts on us moving forward. Think back to a trying time in your life. I am speaking about deep internal changes. This is different from a serendipitous moment that changed your environment, though those are very important too. The periods I'm talking about are the ones that force you to go deep into your being, and soul. These struggles can create vocations, or callings. Listen to them! Take a step and trust it's the right direction. I know this from personal experience.
Many Greats have identified these periods of suffering as what ultimately lead them to truly come into their own. Abraham Lincoln, failed at businesses, lost many elections early on, and had a total mental breakdown before triumphing. Nelson Mandela suffered in prison for decades, an experience that shaped him in profound ways.
Pay attention to your suffering and use it as the catalyst for real change in your life.