It seems like every single wildly successful transformational/motivational/spiritual speaker/author I’ve ever encountered has a story to tell about the awful time in their lives when they were homeless, sleeping in an alley/bus-stop/car/empty field, washing their clothes in a Denny’s bathroom or their hair with the 7-Eleven soda machine (discreetly). They were either cracked out, drunk, disorderly, abused and rejected, or sober but fat, sick, broke and utterly despondent.
They describe this moment as a time when their lives were so broken there genuinely appeared no further to fall. The next stop on their journey into the dark abyss was surely death … in fact, in their stories, something always does seem to die in their car, on the doorsteps of the homes they were just evicted from, or in that Denny’s bathroom at 4am: their former selves who embraced extremely low standards – or no standards – for their lives.
That low-standard self has to die in the fire of transformation so a new self can be born, one with the fierce determination to say “No more! My life is bullsh*t! I now insist on entirely new standards for myself!”
Flash forward 10 years and they’re living in the home of their wildest dreams, married to their Princess/Prince of Arabia, acting as principle advisor to the Supreme Galactic Council and serving as general champion for humanity across the land. It’s a beautiful story, one I’m sure is often mostly true.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be homeless to experience authentic transformation. You don’t have to lose your family and sleep in the bus station to get that the life you’ve been living isn’t really working and begin creating real change.
You might have to experience being destitute in spirit, however, in the sense that you’ve finally and completely lost all hope that your current life strategies will ever work to make you authentically happy.
A few years ago I was in a really chaotic long-term relationship that I just could not extricate myself from. I was like that monkey with his hand gripped tightly around the candy-bait inside a coconut trap. All I had to do was let go the candy and pull out my hand, but I wanted that sweet candy so bad I just gripped on more tightly as I desperately tried yanking my hand out to escape, all while the hunter kept whacking me mercilessly on the head with his club.
So I polled all my wisest friends, desperate for insight, and asked them, “how do you know when it’s really time to end a relationship?”
The essential averaged-out answer was this: “When you just can’t fucking take it anymore!”
I was hoping for something a little more technical, like “when your partner lies to you” or “when you don’t really respect each other anymore” … although I knew neither would do since she and I had crossed those thresholds years prior.
Nope, the answer I got over and over was “when you just can’t fucking take it anymore!” … which means it was all up to me!!
If something in your life genuinely isn’t working for you, and hasn’t been for a long time, and you tolerate it, then you clearly haven’t had your genuine Showering-At-Denny’s (SAD) moment yet. Every minute you let it persist, you’re deciding you can take more, hurt more, fall farther, suffer deeper.
Me, a few months back I moved into a home I wasn’t happy living in. Rather than taking steps to get out of there quickly, I painted my scratched-up bedroom closet doors a color I call “putrefying salmon” so I could at least be more comfortable in my discontent. When I reflect back on this, I laugh at myself. I should have made the space MORE uncomfortable to motivate me to get outta there! Instead, as I’ve clearly done across all aspects of my life, I tried to make my low-standards comfortable.
I know nothing outside me is responsible for my happiness. But that doesn’t mean I need to learn how to wash my hair in the 7-11 soda fountain with a big smile. If I ever get to that place, it’ll be entirely by choice.
So, while staring at my putrefying salmon-colored doors in a room I felt small and stagnant in, in a home that betrayed my low-standards for living, a home I was even embarrassed to bring a date back to, I had my SAD moment. I was finally, completely over tolerating low-standards. I know because in that moment I decided to move and confirmed the date.
Tony Robbins says his SAD moment did NOT come when he slept in a car, which he did, but a few years later when he held an eviction notice in his sober but big, fat, junk-food grubbing hands in a tiny Venice, CA, apartment.
You’ll know when you finally hit your ultimate SAD moment because your whole body will come alive and say “No More!!” … probably with much more colorful language and absolutely with a conviction that ensures life will never again look the same for you.
The good news is you get to decide what your Showering-At-Denny’s moment looks like, when you just can’t fucking take it anymore. It doesn’t have to involve Denny’s at all. Or a 7-Eleven soda fountain. Or an eviction notice. Or any external lose-everything-drama at all. Unless you want it to.
Are you ready to define your SAD moment for something that’s not working in your life? Have you truly had enough? Shout it out!!
Raise the quality of your life by raising your standards. It’s that simple.