#103 My awesome guest this week is T M Hoy, author of the book ‘Lasting Happiness; Secrets Of The Heart, Mind & Spirit Revealed’.
Can you imagine spending sixteen years in a Thai prison? Could you find lasting happiness? What lessons would you learn about forgiveness and acceptance? This conversation sat with me for days after. I highly recommend you check it out. Enjoy!
About T M: T M Hoy is the author of Lasting Happiness has also written Rotting in the Bangkok Hilton (Skyhorse Publishing), and The Nature of Religion (PanPublishing). He was born and raised in Mountain View, CA, the heart of Silicon Valley. He became a gemologist after college, working in the jewelry industry for years.
He traveled widely in Europe and Asia (where he lived for a decade). While living in Northern Thailand, a friend murdered a woman in his house. Fearful of the Thai police, he helped cover it up. When caught, he could not pay the bribe the judge and police demanded, and spent the next 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Lasting Happiness is the product of that experience – a realization of how little we really need to be happy.
The author stays busy applying a fraction of the advice he dishes out to others. 😉 He lives in Tucson, AZ, where he fights a (losing) battle against getting fat from all the great Mexican restaurants.
Links & Resources For T M Hoy
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Guy: Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence and you are listening to the Guy Lawrence podcast. If you’re enjoying this content and you want to find out more and join me and come further down the rabbit hole, make sure you head back to the guylawrence.com.au. Awesome guys. Enjoy the show.
Guy: Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence and you are listening to the guylawrence podcast. If you’re enjoying this content and you want to find out more and join me and come further down the rabbit hole, make sure you head back to the guylawrence.com.au. Awesome guys. Enjoy the show.
Guy: Tim Hoy, welcome to the podcast.
T M: Thank you so much. I really, really am happy to be here. Thank you for having me on.
Guy: I am very interested to see where this conversation goes today. And I ask everyone on the show mate, every single week. If you were on an airplane and you sat next to a stranger and they asked you what you did for a living these days, what would you say?
T M: What I do for a living that was actually pretty easy. Uh, um, I’m a groundskeeper at the university of Arizona, but yeah, but what I, you know, what I do I think, uh, is a lot more focused on trying to help make the world a better place. And, um, I’m really involved with a charity called speaking from our hearts, which is working to empower people in crisis. And of course I’m working on promoting the book, which, mainly is for the message unit. Um, commercially, um, it doesn’t do a lot, but it’s okay. You know. That’s all right. I’m just hoping people get the message and, and change a few lives that way.
Guy: Yeah. Amazing. No, that’s a very modest answer, you know, and look, I’ve just got to tell everyone this as well. Like, cause I’ve, I know we’ve just met, you know, and I reached out to last week, I think it was to come on the show, uh, from stumbling across you just randomly. And I’ve done, just to put this in the context, I’ve done over 200 interviews, maybe more through the podcast. I’ve been podcasting for seven and a half years, mate. And I always wonder as each episode goes by, I think, wow. Like I walk away going, that was amazing. That was awesome. I’m not going to be able to keep it up. I don’t know. I’ll just keep going. And then I stumble across you and my jaw hit the floor and I was like, Oh my God, I really hope he comes on the show. Just to share a little bit. So, I just want to put that into a little bit of context for everyone listening to this. So without giving too much away, but I’m sure I’ve already mentioned it in the intro anyway, but, um, can you take us back a little bit why you’re so passionate about this work and what happened in Asia? Because clearly that was a turning point in your life.
T M: Absolutely.
T M: Thank you, Guy. Um, essentially, um, I’ll just give you kind of a brief overview. So I was raised, uh, you know, your typical was kind of a white upper middle class, uh, uh, background. My family was all educational people, um, you know, doctors, lawyers, teachers. And so I had an excellent upbringing. I’m very well educated, but, um, I kind of suffered from that selfish type thing and I wasn’t really a good person. And, um, so I ended up in the jewelry industry. I made a lot of money. Um, I had everything. Basically I had two homes, I had cars, I had all the toys and I was miserable and I wound up in Asia. And, um, because I’d been going there buying gemstones and, um, I had set them in jewelry and sell them in Europe and United States. And, um, being there, uh, I got caught up in a murder.
T M: And, a guy that was a roommate of mine, um, I was actually his fiscal conservator must taken care of him cause he was illiterate and on drugs. And anyway, uh, so I was responsible for this guy and he, and a woman that I’d picked up in Bangkok, who is a girlfriend of mine, they would constantly have terrible, bitter arguments. They didn’t like each other. And so I was in business in town. Uh, one day I came back in the evening and they’d had a terrible argument and he’d strangled her. And so at that point, um, I was terrified of the type police and I made the absolute wrong decision. I started drinking as I was terrified and I didn’t know what to do. And I’m six or seven hours had gone by and I realized I, I’m caught up in this. There’s no way I can go to the police.
T M: So I ended up helping him cover it up. That decision cost me 16 years of my life. And because of that, I went to prison. The time police turned out, um, behave like perfect gentlemen, which was an absolute shock. I had nothing to fear from them at all, but I, I didn’t know that the stories that passed around in Thailand are terrible. And so, um, make a long story short, I didn’t have the money to pay the bribe that they were asking for. They didn’t want a prosecute. They said, just pay the money and go away. You’re a jeweler, we know who you are. Just pay us money. So they wanted 20 grand and I couldn’t come up with it. And so because of that, I went through the experience I did. So I’m sorry, I kind of laugh for it to be super brief.
T M: Anyway, but what happened because of that was that in Thai prison, I nearly died many times and I was surrounded by death. Um, there were people dying of all different kinds of things. Um, I watched literally hundreds of people die, horrible deaths. They died of peritonitis where rice, uh, the hard rice that they served as food would pure somebody intestines and it would leak internally and they’d die. They’d blow it up and die. There were people that died of starvation. There were people that died of infections because there was no antibiotics. People that died of AIDS, people died of tuberculosis. People died. Murders, people to, I mean, everything and everything. I mean, just uneasy. So I nearly died several times myself. Once a fever wants to have an infection once from starvation when I first got in there. And what happened as a result of this was for many people, I’d say most foreigners that go through the prison system, they end up, um, either becoming drug addicts or they go crazy usually.
T M: And there’s very few people that emerge from that, that, uh, really take death’s lessons to heart. And what it did to me was where it forced me to look at who I was because it strips away everything from you when you’re, when your illusions are torn away, when it you’re faced with just death in life and there’s nothing else. And I looked at my life and I said, you know what? I’m really not a good person. I don’t like who I am. And I don’t like how I got here. And um, there was a moment and um, it had a lot to do with the Hill tribe people there in Thailand who are very gentle, sweet people. But I kind of came to the realization that, uh, happiness was not at all what I thought it was. It has nothing to do with all of the status symbols and all of the things we chase, all of the wealth, power, fame, youth, beauty, all that stuff is irrelevant.
T M: It has nothing to do with happiness. And it came to me and I understood and, and really, really visceral inner deep way that happiness is really about relationships. It’s about healthy relationships first of all with yourself and then with others. And so that was the product of that experience. And then it took me many, many years of study and scholarship to write the book that I did about it. But that essential insight was what transformed me. And ever since then it’s been a process or change where more and more I realize that it takes very little to be happy. And, uh, I want, I want people to understand that, that it’s so important that we know that happiness is right here, right now, uh, available to anyone. Um, and all they have to do is just a little bit of willingness to change,
Guy: started looking inside. Um, God, there’s so many questions to ask you just in that like, so, okay. When you were first sentenced that and say the first two months, like how were you feeling at that point and then where did the transition, the change take place within the prison? So you started to look and feel differently.
T M: Okay. So it took a long time to get sentenced because they wanted to extract a bribe from me. They dragged it out. Um, and finally the console general and Jane [inaudible], who is a friend of mine, Carl, really good guy, he kind of forced their hand and forced them to sentence me. But, um, because of us embassy has tremendous power there, but any, in any case, I was in a state of mind where it was desperation and I just desperately wanted to get out of that situation. And so I was doing everything in my power to try and figure out a way to get out of there. It wasn’t until much later, almost at the end of like, call it four years into this, that that was when that change began to occur. And I had mentioned that the Hill tribe people, um, I’d had interactions with many of them.
T M: They don’t, most of them don’t even speak Thai. Um, they’re from the Northern part of the country. If you ever do elephant trekking in the jungle up in Northern Thailand, those, yeah, those are the Hill tribe people and they’re really sweet, gentle people. Um, they’re very giving and loving and they have a, they have a culture that’s gift based and, and they’d give you the shirt off their back. Even if they haven’t. And they have nothing. They don’t have cement, they don’t have electricity, they don’t have running water. I mean, they’re living back, you know, thousands of years ago, basically in little huts in the Hills. And um, but they end up in the prison system because they use opium as currency up there. And, um, it’s very common. It’s the golden triangle. And what happens is people come up to them, um, ties and they offer them money and they say, look, I need you to take this heroin and just take it down to this address.
T M: And for them, um, they don’t, it’s like heroin is like, Oh yeah, we grow it right there in the field all day. Who cares? Right. It’s just not a big deal. And they end up taking it and, uh, taking it in the cities. And then what happens is they get arrested and, um, cause they stand out like a sore thumb. They’d never seen cars or a city before. And, and so the people that are from Thailand know this and they take advantage of it and they know that a certain percentage will get through and certain percentage will get caught and they don’t care. And, um, the ones that get caught get thrown into a prison system where they can read Thai or speak it and they’re doomed. And the system is, you know, default against anyone that’s has poverty. So, um, but they have this philosophy, it’s very, very gentle.
T M: It’s kind of Buddhist, but it’s not really Buddhist. It’s more kind of, um, I don’t know exactly how you’d put it, but they have a perspective on life that is very gentle and very, uh, relaxed. And, um, it was very profound, their impact on me because I interacted with them quite a bit and they taught me without ever meaning to that. Um, all the things that we take so much for granted in that we take as a, almost like a birthright, that they’re just not that important when the chips are down. And when, when everything is taken away from you and you have nothing and you’re dealing with these people that are happy, they’re genuinely happy, they’re okay, and they’re, they’re okay because they’re okay with themselves and they’re okay with their world and they’re okay with people that they love and that love them. And that is a really profound lesson. And that was, you know, kind of the thing that pushed me in the right direction, I guess you’d say. Call you. Cause I’ve actually pulled out a quote from your,
Guy: that you sent me, if you dare to look at what desolation makes clear, the secrets of your heart, mind and spirit are revealed, right? Yeah. Much so. And, and do you think, um, and we touched on it off air that cause you face your own mortality many times. Um, what would like what did that teach you? Because we don’t experience that. We almost, we almost feel like we’re gonna live forever. Quite often in the Western society, you know,
T M: well you, what it does is the main thing and why it is so important and why, why I would recommend it to anyone to, you know, cause I give a couple of exercises how you can do that, um, facing your own mortality, whether it’s by visiting a nursing home, whether it’s by a meditation exercise, however you do it, it gives you perspective and it makes you realize what it is. It’s valuable and what’s not. It’ll help you prioritize and it will transform the way you see the world. Because we really spend most of our time on trivial things that have somebody else’s agenda behind them. We pursue material things, not because we need them, but because we’re taught or we believe that they have, um, some kind of significance that they are what’s important and they’re not. And so I understand that, you know, you want to get your basic needs met.
T M: Of course everybody needs those things. You need to shelter, medical care, all that. You want to have a decent life for your kids. But beyond that, those things, most of the time that you struggle for and that people spend their entire lives focusing on, don’t do anything except detract time and energy from the things that really matter to the true you. And when you begin that conversation, when you open that inner dialogue and many people never do, um, the unexamined life is not worth living. That’s what Cicero said 2000 years ago today. And it’s just as valid as it is today. Uh, then you know, at anyway, a great insight. So the essence of it is that if you examine that self, if you have a conversation with it and death does that, if you face your death squarely and say, yes, I am going to die. And it forces you to think about that and say, what is really important to you? What is it that you left undone? What is it that you wish you could do if you had more life? What is it that your true self thinks is really important? And then focus on that. And then when you’ve done that exercise, you realize, I’m not going to die. At least not right now. And I can do something about this. I can take those insights and use them to build a life that’s rich and meaningful.
Guy: Yeah. And you don’t have to go to prison to, to find it. Right, exactly. I have to ask, I’m curious. Um, what, what did the typical day look like, therefore, you,
T M: um, basically it was pretty grizzly. Um, you know, I had a really dear friend of mine, Peter, great guy, Dutch guy, and uh, and this is in bond klong, which is where they had the death. They had the death chamber there. Well, actually it’s not that it’s just a firing squad, but they, um, they have the death row prisoners there and um, it’s designed for lifers. So everybody that has 50 years or more goes to bonk lawn. And that’s where I did my time. And, um, but what would happen is like every morning we’d get up and we’d go sit by this wall. We’d chase the shade, would spend all day moving around to get shade. And uh, because it’s hot as hell. It’s the tropics. And we’d have coffee. They had little shops. These Chinese prisoners were clever and they, they had, they would pay bribes to the guards and have their own little shops, right.
T M: So we had, we know they’d, they’d sell coffee and cigarettes and all that and it was cheap. So we’d sit there and drink coffee and like 10 feet away there’d be junkies shooting up. And you know, all through the day there was that kind of stuff. Uh, the kind of water that we had to use, you had to pay a bribe to get decent water because the water they gave to prisoners for free was drawn from the chow prior river, which was filled with chemical pollutants and rotting dead dogs and Oh God, every kind of nightmare. It gave you skin diseases and terrible things. Anyway, that was the water they gave you. So it’s like that with everything. The whole day was like, just, you know, trying to get a meal and then you got the meal from one of the little restaurants and that’s cool.
T M: But, um, it was kind of like being in a giant prison of war camp, but we didn’t have to work as foreigners, white foreigners that very, you know, they’re very, very class conscious. And so people that are, um, you know, they have powerful embassies, they don’t bother you pretty much. Um, anyway, the typical day was, yeah, pretty grizzly. The food that they served, feral cats that were on the prison wouldn’t eat it. So the type prisoners had to take it and re cook it. They’d sort it for something that could cooked and then re cook it. And they had food groups where everybody would take turns. Um, you know, with this terrible labor involved in food preparation and um, that’s how they, you know, many of them got by. But of course many people didn’t get by. There was a lot of people that died of starvation, so, and peritonitis, like I said, with a bad rice.
T M: So yeah, I’m trying to think of a, um, it’s difficult to describe for anybody that’s been there that hasn’t been there rather, um, it physically, it doesn’t look terrible. Um, there’s, there’s a lot of greenery cause it’s tropics, but the prison is built in the middle of a swamp. And, um, so there’s all these creatures. There’s a snakes of all kinds. There’s uh, birds and, and just all kinds of crazy stuff. They had these canals that Chris, the prison that were the open sewers and in them lived crabs. And, uh, I have a story about that in my book that I wrote about the experience. Uh, it’s called rotting in the band called Kelton. And you might find it amusing, but it’s as my observations of what a day was there. It’s actually there is that in there. I’m a day, a typical day. So if you want to, I’ll make sure I get a copy to you and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Guy: Yeah. Appreciate it. Thank you. Jesus Christ. Um, so I’ve got to ask, it reminds me of the, um, the book man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl. You know, and, and it seems to me there was obviously a clear defining point where you’ve made a decision of acceptance and, and taking the journey within regardless of what our external circumstances are presenting and finding peace in that place. What do you like, is there something, is there, like, I’m just thinking of the listeners hearing this cause I think we could all find, could do with finding a better peace within ourselves no matter what our external situations are presented themselves. Do you have anything to talk to on that point? Cause I’m sure in prison, like you said, there were many people that weren’t able to, to find peace within themselves, like, like you did and then that’s what got me through, I’m assuming. Absolutely.
T M: Um, there’s, there’s many different paths to that. Um, and, and a lot of it depends on personality. So I don’t want to say this is the path. I mean there’s just, there’s many, but, um, one that, uh, is a very simple one is like I said, open that dialogue with that inner self and allow it to speak to you because our, our subconscious, it’s not some distant thing. Um, it’s, it doesn’t use words. It uses images and it speak to us, speak to us in dreams including daydreams. And it’s really easy to open in conversation. Um, it’s just as simple as, um, taking like five or 10 minutes a day and then approaching it like ask for help and it can be any issue at all. And you, uh, I’ll give you a couple of examples. Like, okay, one simple exercise is taken from shamanism and that is the fact that the mind is a, now Sean showman’s believe are shamanistic religions in general belief that anything that you can imagine is possible and that we dream the world into existence each day.
T M: Now, when it comes to your internal world, that’s absolutely right. You don’t have to believe in shamanism. You can create whatever you like in your mind. So, um, you could have, for example, maybe you ask for guides internally and so you talk to talking dolphins or whales or whatever it is that you like. Maybe you like historical figures. Maybe you want a question Albert Einstein or you want advice from Machiavelli, who knows, right? So, but whatever method you want to use, you can ask questions of yourself and say, listen, I really have a problem with this. Is there a way that, you know, bring, bring some answers and that conversation, allowing that playful self to emerge, allowing that inner self to emerge and you open the dialogue and now you begin to change because you realize that that part of yourself actually runs your life because it’s a part of yourself that’s emotional.
T M: It’s the emotional part of ourselves that is. Um, we don’t, we don’t honor it. We try to submit it, we try to get it to submit to reason and rationality, especially here in the West. And so we block it and try to control it, but we don’t. When you think about your daily life, think about like your choice of romantic partners. Well, you kind of helpless on that one. You, you don’t really choose who you’re attracted to. Um, the st you know, your, your, your inner self does. And the same thing goes with the drama in your life. There’s all kinds of drama that happens because you don’t have that open dialogue because you’re, you’re trying to force it to do something and it says, no, I’m going to do it my way. But it doesn’t say that. It just does it and you’re dragged along kicking and screaming.
T M: So many people’s lives are a mess because of this, that they never opened that dialogue. So that’s one way to piece. Um, there’s many others. I, I would say the other one that’s really powerful that’s very easy also is just think about like kindness a little bit and helping other people. And that to me is the real source of meaning is when you share and you care about others. Um, of course it starts with yourself. You have to care for yourself first. And that’s, and many people don’t and that’s where it has to begin. But once you’ve developed a healthy relationship with yourself, then you can create meaning in your life very simply, just by doing something that you enjoy and helping others through it. I’m using that as your medium to, to help folks that have some kind of a need that you could meet. And when you do that, you just fling the doors wide open to meaning and love and fulfillment of all kinds. And that that’s another pathway that, um, I think anybody that has a lot of really good connections with others and that finds themselves to be somebody positive and helpful is going to have a lot more inner peace I think. Yeah.
Guy: You know, there’s a couple of things that spring to mind then I’ve had a couple of different guests on that have said they, the greatest spiritual practice is practicing kindness. Absolutely. And then everything comes back tenfold. And the other thing, you know, that that dialogue, it made me, uh, that you said, you know, you talk to whoever
T M: and ask and have that communication with the cell phone. It made me think of the book, think and grow rich. I’m not sure if you’ve ever read that. Yeah. Napoleon Hill. Yeah. And he had a panel, they were saying that that a panel of, of experts in his mind that he would go and address of all the different business people and then he would get a different answer back. Yes. And in that actually pieces of all of Carl Young, you know, a young, a young, his entire career was based on a book called seven sermons from the dead. And it basically was, he, um, had this amazing transformational, well, I think it, I think it was a lot different than what he portrayed it as being, but he said it was like a conversation. I think it was much deeper than that. But in any case, there were seven historical figures that were internal.
T M: They were all inside his own mind and they gave him all of the material that later become his body of work. And it was in this early, early book when he was in his twenties from that very thing, from that internal dialogue and then talking to these people that were historical figures but in his own mind. And it’s kind of amazing that that whole thing, the collective unconscious archetypes, um, you know, the alchemy of, of, you know, psychology, uh, and everything else. All of that was from that source. Yeah. It’s fascinating. Another question I have to ask you, and this is more of a selfish question, but do you, and I, and I, I say this because I’ve experienced a couple of mystical experiences when I’ve gone to different meditation retreats. I mean, we hold retreats and I’m witnessing other people having these experiences as well.
T M: And once you have them and you, you connect to this greatest source of energy, it’s just profound and absolutely. And, and you come back with a little bit of wisdom and you can then apply it into your life and they kind of really big, it made me question, well, who am I? You know, cause you can’t undo that once you embody it. Where did you have experiences like that within the prison? And I only asked, yeah, because I only ask because you hear of people fostering for a week or doing different things to try and to try and get to these places. So I’m just curious from that. Very dear friend of mine, um, he’s almost like a brother to me. He’s in Austria. Uh, Tom gardener. He and I were actually, we had finished the series bike, Carlos Castaneda. Are you familiar with him? I’m familiar with them, yeah.
T M: Yeah. Okay. Well we’d read that and it’s all about if, funny enough it was happening right here in Tucson. He, um, where I live, um, the Yaki sorcerer at the Yaki Indians are here and in the Northern Chu, uh, well it’s, it’s Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona. And um, anyway, so the whole series is about how this, uh, student of anthropology gets taken in by a guy and um, who’s his Yaki Indian sorcerer and trained as an apprentice sorcerer. And the process is, um, without going too much into it in detail, essentially he realizes that reality is what you make it. That reality is really, really very fluid. It’s not the solid rigid thing we perceive it to be or thinking to be. But, um, what Tom and I had both read it independently, read the series, and we began working with a wonderful book called the urban showman and, uh, by a man named Mickey Heely King.
T M: And we began the exercises and we worked our way through the book and we had some really mind blowing experiences. Um, it really does change. Uh, I mean, yeah, just amazing, amazing stuff happened. But I think that the spiritual aspect of it, um, we weren’t really focused on that. I think it was more subtle. It just happened, so to speak. And you, you do, you realize that reality is not what we perceive it to be, that uh, our dreams have a much stronger influence on our lives than we think they do. And we have much more in a way of control. Uh, if we heard Oxyclean let go and we don’t worry so much, we don’t focus on, um, I mean materialism. There’s many, many harmful aspects of it. Um, but I think shamanism and one of the things that helped us with our experience with it was it really loosens its grip when you go through this because you realize that reality is just very fluid and very dreamlike. And um, so the material things that we so focus on are just as insubstantial as ghosts. They come and go and, and to be focused on that is really focusing on the absolute wrong stuff. And that, that was the realization that came out of this work. It was so important.
Guy: Yeah. I know I have to ask as well, like what is the, you know, having like if you look at Western society society, what drives us and material things, looking for an external for an internal happiness money, right? And then we are driven by the clock by time, right? Like, you know, I’m always moving from here to there and there and there, you know, and, and it’s almost like I’m never really present with those three aspects, especially the time I’m interested. Like, how has that affected you from, you know, living in the prison where all those things are affected deeply to then coming back out and slotting back into society?
T M: Yeah, it, it was, um, I, I talk about that in the second chapter of book actually, and it’s a huge focus. Um, it’s really about escaping the mental traps and cages that society places in us. We are kind of domesticated when we’re children. We start off wild doing whatever we like and whatever feels good. And that whole pleasure, pain thing is what governs us until we are tamed and domesticated and the way that we are tamed and domesticated as we’re convinced that someone else’s desires are more important than our own. And we accept that, especially from our caregivers. So when I go into quite in a lot of detail is how do you break out of the cages and the traps that society sets for us. They get us on this pathway that leads to us supporting the current system to benefit other people and their agenda rather than our own.
T M: And there’s a huge variety of them. And it’s so funny you mentioned those because I talk specifically about clocks and time and money is the two big ideas, structures that dominate society that are so artificial and arbitrary, but we give them this enormous power. And it’s not until you have some awareness that you choose this that you can break free. So whenever you, and the essence of it is look at the things that are the most painful to you. What are the things that cause you the most discomfort and the greatest pain? And when you trace them to be or to the source, you’re almost always going to find a belief or an idea that you’ve accepted as true. That isn’t necessarily true. And these are all things that only have validity in the human world, like money. What is it? Well, it’s a symbol.
T M: Does it have any external reality? No, it’s numbers and a data bank, which is the most obscure, weird thing you could think of. But when you look in nature, there is no money. And every national phenomenon ignores it. And it’s only a human construct, but we destroy the natural world for it. We just, we just absolutely our repeat purchase in our pursuit, this thing we’ve created called profit. And so the same thing goes with a whole range. Thousands and thousands of these ideas, structures and belief systems, religion, politics, fashion, on and on and on. And they’re all purely human constructs. They have no external reality beyond the human context. And when you are aware of that, suddenly you transcend it and you’re able to become truly free. But if you don’t, your mind is trapped and you’re stuck in this place where these ideas and beliefs dominate you and they force you to do things which your inner self really doesn’t want to do.
T M: And that is another reason why people are so deeply unhappy and have terrible relationships with themselves because they simply do not have that awareness. And I talk about exactly how you can free yourself from those cages, which is vitally important step for finding happiness. Cause you got to have your relationship with yourself right first. That is the number one concern. And if you do that, then everything else kind of follows. But if you don’t do that, then you’re stuck with somebody else’s agenda running your life and not as not the way you want it to be.
Guy: No, totally. I couldn’t agree more that you do you live these days in absolute surrender? I’m curious.
T M: I, I live in a state kind of, of, um, very mild bliss a lot because, um, I find myself, I guess I appreciate simple pleasures and so, you know, I have great music and I love it and it’s like wonderful. And I have a little MP3 player and I listened to it all the time and I’m like, I’m so happy. It’s like, okay, now my music, my taste in music is terrible. I really like air metal bands from the eighties and nineties, which is really, I mean, anyway, but I like it, right. And I get to listen to it. Um, I eat whatever I want and that’s a delight. That’s wonderful to be able to choose, you know, whatever you want to eat. Yeah. Um, and, uh, it’s just a very peaceful life and my job is wonderful. There’s no stress, very relaxed. I have good coworkers. I like them.
T M: And, uh, so I’m very fortunate, you know, I have excellent health. Um, I eat healthy and I exercise a lot and I have an active lifestyle, so I don’t have the disease thing. Um, I’m at peace and, um, my needs are met. Um, I mean, you can’t really get much better than that. And, uh, so I find myself really happy a lot of the time and I love nature and, um, there’s a lot of beauty here in Tucson, Arizona, and so I’m surrounded by beautiful stuff. You know, I’m there on the university campus every day. It’s a lot of greenery and stuff and, uh, but no, it’s, it’s, I, I don’t have, um, uh, I guess the thing that really matters the most to me is that I, I don’t chase stuff that I used to. And so I’m not bothered by that. I don’t care about status symbols. I don’t need any of that. And I don’t need money to be happy as long as I, the bills are paid, I’m gray. And that’s, so, that’s a huge burden that has just, you know, gone away.
Guy: Awesome. That’s just awesome. Um, I got one other question for you before I move on. And I was more like what your thoughts in it because you said emotional healing begins with forgiveness and I’m guessing you would have had to not only forgive yourself, you know, in those places and, and then, um, anyone around you, the sentence you that put you in there, your friend, like they could have easily been a lot of blame or we carry so much of that, you know, and be able to point the finger. What are your thoughts and all of that with forgiveness? Absolutely. It’s absolutely vital because it is a huge burden and it isn’t until you, you really do that and you say,
T M: you know what, I can’t change the past. There’s nothing about the past. I can change. All I can do is accept what’s happened and then try to do my best moving forward. And if you do that, you kill that guilt and you try to make amends if you can. Um, I think there’s a lot of wisdom in the Catholic right of confession because you admit to a wrong and you’re doing it to a complete stranger who could care less, right? Completely indifferent. And so you admit that wrong. And that this is really dealing with yourself. Now, not some stranger in a booth, but, um, the insight there is that just by openly admitting that you wrong and, and, and really making an honest effort to do better, it’s enormously healing because you, the be healing process can begin. And so when you look at the things that cause you the most pain and the most guilt, be gentle with yourself in a little bit.
T M: Kind. Let the kindness start with yourself and say, yeah, okay, I screwed up. Yeah, I made a terrible mistake. What have you, and let it go and say, you know what, that was in the past. There’s nothing I can do to change that. And what I’m going to do moving forward is just do my best and try and make amends if I can, and then not make that Saint mirror moving forward. And when you do that, now that wound begins to heal. And as you do that more and more, it becomes easier and easier. Forgiveness with others is a little bit tougher. Uh, especially for, for many people, our society, um, is particularly, uh, but, uh, I would say that that’s even more important simply because if you carry a bunch of grudges around, you’re really not focusing on things that matter. You’re focusing on something that happened in the past.
T M: And again, it’s something that can’t be changed. Um, it’s, it’s difficult. But if you, uh, get to that place where you forgiven yourself, it becomes easier to forgive others. And you say, you know what? I’m just not going to carry this around. I’m not going to let this dominate my life, or I’m not going to let a dark in my world anymore. And I’m going to say, you know what? I’m just going to let that one go. And when you do that, genuinely, again, healing can begin and transformation begins because now you’re no longer carrying this big bag of rocks, of emotional pain and suffering and loss around and you let it go. And, and you’re not, you’re not carrying that around anymore. And that’s a huge relief.
Guy: Yeah, it’s a tough one, isn’t it? Um, I remember hearing, I think Wayne Dyer quoted at once that, uh, holding like anger for someone else is like trying to poison them but drinking the poison yourself.
T M: Right, right. Absolutely. Because the person that you’re angry at doesn’t know and doesn’t care and, and it’s only you that suffer. So that’s really the whole point of it, of that forgiveness exercises that you, that you’re healing, you’re letting go of something that’s only hurting you. The other people that are in your mind aren’t having nothing to do with you. And that, that’s so much of our internal dialogue is consumed with that stuff. And that’s another thing that helps a lot, is being aware of that. And then that begins that transformation as well, because now, Oh yeah, you know what, it’s all this crazy stuff in my head and I can let it go and not let it dominate your day. And now, you know, and that it’s just, um, it’s a self reinforcing cycle of virtue and healing. And, and the more people engage in it, uh, the better off they are. [inaudible]
T M: and that’s the work, right? That’s the practice. And that’s been able to give time to sell for each day over repetition. Yeah. Even if it’s only like five or 10 minutes in the end before you go to bed, you know, something real simple like that where you begin to open that conversation and have those, have those thoughts and let them let them flower, you know, let it happen. And before you know, it amazing changes, amazing changes happen. It just takes so little effort. People have no idea that it’s so close. Happiness is so close to them and, and they’re always chasing the wrong things. They’re going after these goals that don’t help them get any closer. And, and, uh, their lives are very unhappy as a result. I, you look at like celebrity culture. It’s a classic example of that. People that have everything, they’ve got the wealth, they’ve got the fame, they’ve got power, they’ve got the looks.
T M: And so many of them are so troubled, they’re just miserable because they don’t have this realization that what they’re chasing does not lead to happiness. Totally. Um, I ask everyone to sit in the set of questions on the show and I’m going to, I’m going to ask a slightly different one. And the thinking is, do you ever think about what your life would look like if you never got sentenced to go into prison? Um, no. I have a pretty clear idea of what it would have been and, and it would’ve been a fairly shallow materialistic life. Um, you know, I was already doing very well financially. I’m sure I would have been much wealthier, but it would’ve just been a long string of selfish arts that benefit nobody really and have no impact on the world in any meaningful way that I, that that is the life that I would’ve lived.
T M: Wow. I said, what are you grateful for? Everything that you’ve been through? Yeah, yeah. Actually, I am, um, that, that transformation is a wonderful thing and I’ve met some fantastic people and, and my life is so much better and richer and so, yeah, I ha I have to be grateful that I experienced what I did is incredible night. Um, what does your morning routine look like? It’s pretty simple. I get up really early and um, it’s very peaceful. Um, I get up, um, I eat some cereal, I look at the, look at the emails and all the crazy stuff that comes in at night and I’m, my email inbox is flooded with crazy stuff, but I have fun with it. And then, um, that’s pretty much it. Just get ready for the day, you know, do my little routine. But it’s a very meditative thing and I always make sure I have at least an hour and a half to kind of get ready and wake up for the day. And that’s my, that’s my morning routine and beautiful. Um, if you could have dinner with anyone tonight, from any timeframe, anywhere in the world, and you could sit down with them and have a conversation, where do you think it would be and why?
T M: Wow, that’s a hard one. I would love to have a conversation with Aristotle. Um, I would also love to have, I mean, there’s so many historical figures that leap to mind, but I guess if I could only choose one and was going to have him to dinner, um, wow. Who would I choose? I guess it would have to be Niccolo Machiavelli. Okay. And he was such a brilliant man and so many insights into human nature and such a crazy career. Um, he was, uh, the representative for the Republican Florence, uh, in the mid, in the middle, in the Renaissance period. And he, uh, ended up getting tossed out by when the buddy cheese took back over and killed the Guild, the Republic. And he offered your services to them. And the way he did that was by writing one of the great classics of political discourse called the Prince, which is his observations about how to get and keep power.
T M: But Machiavelli also had a lot of insights in politics in the way things work. And I would love to have a chat with him, let him look at Trump and let him look at all the craziness of our current political scene and say, what do you think about this Niccolo? Come on, come on, Nick, tell me. And I’d love to have his insights on that stuff. It would be fascinating. Uh, awesome. Well, how many books do you think you would have read in prison? Like was it a lot? Well, over the course, I can’t really say I read a lot, but over the course of my life I estimated at one time and it’s somewhere between 30 and 40,000 books because I, when I was a kid, a lot of things that be kids do, I didn’t do, I wasn’t really that into TV. Um, I, I didn’t do a lot of the things, but I love to read. And, um, my grandfather was a biblical scholar and he, he fed that. And, and so I would find, I would oftentimes read two, sometimes three books a day, and I did that for years and I, I really loved nonfiction. So that was what I focused on. And then I continued that through prison in and out, you know, uh, so, um, and I still read it a great deal. So yeah, I’ve been blessed that way to be exposed to so many different things. Wow. Incredible. Incredible. Um, and just to finish,
Guy: is there anything you’d like to add over everything we’ve covered today for our listeners?
T M: Ponder on. I would, I would ask that, um, you know, anybody that’s listening, that it starts with kindness and that is the heart of it. Be kind to yourself, be kind to your body, you know, do some good things, exercise a little bit, eat a little bit better. Let that create a path where you begin to be kind to your body. Be kind your mind. Do some things that are nice, do from Stevens and things you love to do. Bring some things you love into your life and begin to be kind to those around you. Begin to be kind to the people that love you and that you love the most. And let that transform your relationships because all of that kindness is so simple to do. And, and I think anybody listening could begin to do that just a little bit. It doesn’t even have to be dramatic. Just something mild and small and just see the change that it brings. And, and I would, you know, urge people that, that really, um, you know, open that door and I, that I think is probably more important than anything else that people remember something. Let them remember that happiness is very close and it begins with kindness to yourself and then others.
Guy: Amen to that. Sure. Uh, where can I send them? If somebody wants to grab your book and read it, um, what’s the, where’s the best place I can send them.
T M: Love to have a conversation with anyone listening. Um, but you can also check me, you know, you can get my book there, you can read my story. You can, there’s a lot of neat stuff on the site. Um, it’s a lasting happiness.net. And, uh, if you, if any, you know, listeners would like to, uh open a conversation, just post a comment anywhere on the site and I guarantee you all answer and, uh, love to have a conversation with people. And you know, a lot of people are afraid of criticism. I’m not, um, I love criticism cause it makes you a little bit better. It helps you, you know, sharpen you up and point you to things where you might’ve made errors and stuff. So anybody that has any kind of criticisms or, and as harsh as you like to, cause I’m not, I’m not thin skin, so, um, you know, please say whatever you like. I’d love to open a conversation and, please just post a comment somewhere on there and I’d love to love to begin talking to listeners. So, but yeah, lasting happiness.net. That’d be great. It’s also available everywhere. The book’s available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and noble, all the, you know, all the retail shops.
Guy: Beautiful. Mark, thank you so much for coming on the show, mate. And I just thank you for your complete honesty and transparency and just opening up and, sharing this message to the world. Cause it’s, there’s so many lessons in here and not that this could have been 10 podcasts, you know what I mean? Like, I have no doubt you got some stories to tell even more. But, um, but thank you so much for coming on today and I deeply appreciate it and I will do my best for as many people as possible to listen to this episode. You know, I, I think it’s so important, um, to have these conversations.
T M: Fantastic. Thank you so much guy for having me on. I really appreciate it. We’ve had a wonderful talk and hopefully we’ll talk again soon.
Guy: 100%. Thank you.
T M: Absolutely. My pleasure. Take care.