Have you ever thought about selling everything and traveling the world?
Returning to the show this week is Mr. Gary Collins, a man who did just that. Gary has a unique and fascinating background in military intelligence, and as a Special Agent for the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
These days, Gary teaches people like you and me to break free of conventional wisdom to practice true health, freedom and self reliance.
If you feel overwhelmed by bills, debt, or even social media, this episode is definitely for you.
On this show with Gary, you’re about to learn:
- Why it’s important to be picky about the health supplements you take
- How to live the 21st century nomadic off-the-grid lifestyle
- How to become a millionaire, even if we never make more than minimum wage
- How to become more self-reliant in an increasingly connected world.
- And tons more.
Alright, let’s go hang out with Gary.
Gary Collins: How to Simplify Your Life, Find Financial Freedom, and Be Happy
Abel: Gary, thanks so much for joining us again on the show.
Hey, thanks for having me on, again, Abel. I really appreciate it.
Abel: So we were getting into it a little bit too much, I think before this interview. Because I’m already all warmed up, and I guess, ready to light that fire.
But before we get into the crazier stuff, let’s go back in time a little bit to when you had a mortgage.
You had a kind of “normal life”—I’m using air quotes here—yet the American dream, even if it was realized, things weren’t hunky-dory, were they?
No, and I think, like most Americans, you don’t really know it at the time, necessarily.
I grew up poor. I grew up as a poor kid in the middle of nowhere, grew up in a trailer. I was taught to work hard, go to college, get a degree.
I was the first kid to get a degree in my family. I got a master’s degree while I was in the military, and then went into doing the grind.
I’ve been working since I was 13, so that’s what I knew. And everything was perpetuated, be the ultimate consumer. Keep making more money so you can spend more money.
And through traveling around the world and the government and moving around the country, at one point in my life I realized, I wish I would’ve learned this stuff a lot younger.
I had a mortgage, I just bought over a half million dollar track house in Southern California, which is a pile of junk, basically, that you have to dump another 100 to 150 grand in and fix up.
At the time, I’m in the government grinding away, wondering what the heck I’ve done wrong in my life at this point.
I’ve surrounded myself with things I do not need that are basically emotionally sucking me dry, is the best way to put it, and worrying about mortgage, bills, feeding the beast. And buying things I don’t need.
I remember throwing away clothes and going, “Why did I buy this?”
Abel: This zoot suit has to go.
Yah, like six suits. And don’t get me wrong, I had to wear suits in the government and everything, but I was sitting there and I went, “You know what? Things have to change.”
And I think I was pretty close to, I don’t know, it’s a weird way to put it, I’ve never shared in-depth with this. So you’re lucky Abel. But I think was pretty close to an emotional breakdown.
I was about to snap. And being in the government and dealing with the high pressure and everything, I think I just had had enough, and I started realizing that there has to be a better way.
The best way to put it, is that we’re living in someone else’s reality. This is not the life I designed for me. This is the life that was designed by an outlying force that I didn’t have control of.
I was born into this, and I’m not going to cry, because we live in the United States. I’ve traveled in the worst places of the world you ever want to go. We are incredibly, incredibly fortunate. But even with that, it’s still not good.
I went to other countries where people who were destitute were far happier than us. @SimpleLifeNow Click To Tweet
Far happier. And we’re making fun of them, “Oh, go look at them. They live in a little hut,” and they have family, they play, they have free time, they enjoy community.
I think that’s what sunk in for me.
So I decided to make a change, and I said, “Screw it. This is it. I’m done.”
And I just kind of went through a year or two of physical issues and mental issues as far as trying to get my act together.
Figuring out where I needed to go. And I just basically sold everything. I had sold the house at a loss, a pretty big loss. I probably lost probably close to a quarter of a million dollars cash, savings, so I had to recover from that. I went into the health business and started my own business, and got my spine fused and had wrist surgery and I had a couple of other surgeries.
I was broken. My body was shot.
And then relearning everything. I moved into a 475 square foot cottage that I rented. I planned to rent it for two years, I ended up renting it for almost five years. Bought a travel trailer, moved into a travel trailer. After and between that, I started a company, was teaching.
I was a college professor, I was running a health company. I was doing everything I could to try and break out of the system, is the best way to put it, and do things on my own.
But I think a misconception is that you can just wake up one day and just reboot, and it doesn’t work that way. I started this almost a decade ago.
Abel: Right, yah.
So it’s been a grind. But I wouldn’t take one bit of it back.
Abel: Our stories are quite similar. I’m a type A, but much more zen about it than I used to be.
I grew up in a place where we had serious money struggles, living in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire, and I just didn’t want to be pumping gas for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to turn into a townie.
I was talking to my cousin about this last month. He just turned 40, and we’re just like, “Wow, for our whole lives we have been trying to succeed and achieve, and do all of these things, just to not be a townie.”
And he lives 5 minutes from where he grew up, very happily now, but has a totally different perspective about it. Because he’s not really chained to the machine like he used to be.
And for me, when I finally, using air quotes again, “achieve the American dream”, which is like this unspoken thing or sometimes spoken, where you’re supposed to have a house, and a nice car, and a nice mortgage and a nice job, and all of these predictable things.
Yet, if you do that, especially in your early 20s, but even if you’re in your 30s for the most part, most people are not in control of their own destiny.
They are working for somebody else or they’re working for, ultimately, the man or the system. And the entire monetary system is not favorable to the people who are trying to move up.
Skip ahead a little bit, this is several years ago, now, we sold the car, the house, donated most of our possessions, and had basically nothing and started traveling around the world on very little.
Lived out of a travel trailer for a while, worked our way back up the boot strapping way though, and it was very conducive to building your own business at the same time, and kind of separating yourself.
Because you realize, if you don’t have that gigantic mortgage, if you don’t have that big flashy car or whatever it is, if you don’t have all these bills, then finally, you can wake up in the morning and ask yourself, what do I want to do with my life?
How to Step Off of the Consumer Path
Abel: That’s a really powerful thing.
That’s what happened with me too, as I was going through this transition of trying to figure it out. I knew that to start I basically had to go back to the basics.
Same thing with me. I grew up in a small town, and my whole goal with me and my friends was to get out of that small town and not live the townie life. We did not want that. So it pushed us out, which was good. But I still have friends that grew up in my hometown that are tremendously happy.
Abel: Yah, that was all in our heads.
Exactly. They achieved what their dream was, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
I look at it and everyone has their own path, and it’s kind of what I teach in some of my writings. Now I live in my off-the-grid house. And half the year, I live in my travel trailer, traveling around, but I talk about purpose.
The first thing you have to realize in your life is, what is your purpose? What are you striving for? What is going to make you happy, and how do you get there?
And then you have to self-internalize and go, “Okay. These things that will make me happy, how do I pursue them without worrying about what other people think?”
And we talked a little bit about social media. I ditched it. I hardly use it for the business. I use little bits and pieces here and there, but not much. I do not interact in Facebook, I do not have a Facebook group, I don’t do any of that.
People look at social media as a way for instant self-gratification. It’s almost like that 15 minutes of fame, like an addiction. And now you have instant access to millions of people.
And when you think of it from a psychological perspective, it’s a sickness. It really is. And the more you feed into it, the sicker you get. And detaching from that and understanding that what you need to do again is find your purpose.
So what is your purpose? Is it helping people? Is it being a musician? Is it being a poet? Is it working for a company that has beliefs that you believe in and is a community at the same time? Is it traveling around the world, sharing your experiences?
It takes on so many different avenues, but humans are creative. That’s the thing, we are wired to create. We’re very curious and I think today that’s almost been kind of sucked out of us a little bit.
You’re put you on this consumer path, you work yourself to death, you’re on three to five medications, about 50 to 100 pounds overweight, have multiple health conditions, and don’t feel good. And then you retire and die, basically.
Abel: We all have the same story unless we break out of it.
Some people go, “Well, I like my job, I like my life.”
Hey, that’s what I’m talking about. If that works for you, I’m not here to talk you out of it.
But I think a lot of people have realized that what we’ve been taught isn’t necessarily the answer.
Abel: Once you start your own business or work for yourself, which I’ve been doing on and off my whole life as a performer and musician, you start to realize that there are two factors at play here.
There’s the, let’s make more money, and there’s the, let’s spend less money. And that second one never really gets talked about, unless it’s like saving a few cents on gas or saving a few cents on food or saving a few cents in other places.
What is the biggest expenditure of cash or debt that most people are going to be experiencing in their lifetime? It’s either going to be a house or a car, for the most part. And you have the option of not having those things, for the most part.
I don’t want to speak of generalizations, but I’ll just give an example. When I graduated from Dartmouth, I had too many loans, I did not like that. I almost had to drop out, because they thought that I should pay more money than I could, and so I had to take on these really nasty loans with high interest to just stay.
Anyway, I graduated with this debt and wanted to pay it off as quickly as possible. So I took a job in DC, even though I did not want to live there, I did not want to live in the city, I wanted to go on an adventure and drive around the country and figure out what life is all about, right?
But no, I’m going to pay my debt to society. I’m going to work real hard and dig down, dig deep, become a consultant and do all these things that everyone else does.
I did not have a car on purpose. I couldn’t afford it even in college, but I did not get one in DC. I walked to work. And I found a place to live that was less than a $1,000 a month.
Whoa. You’re kidding me.
Abel: This is 10 years ago, and I lived with an old man right next to his kitchen. I was single at the time, so it became very awkward.
Yet, I lived there for a year-and-a-half until I got enough money to pay down all my debt.
I was working three jobs, moonlighting, all this stuff, and finally got there. And once I achieved that American dream or whatever and got the house and got the debt, I was at the sickest I had ever been.
The sickest and, mentally, the most unlike myself that I had ever been in my life.
But like you said, I didn’t even realize that it was happening, really. I thought that I was just becoming an adult. This is what happens to you.
When I gained the 30, 40 pounds that everyone or most people gain over the course of their 20s and 30s, or once they enter the workforce, everyone is just like, “Yah, that’s what happens.”
It’s like the freshman 15, except you join the workforce and it’s a little bit more, because you’re getting older now.
And I’m like, “But I’m 22.”
Yah, what happened?
Abel: I’m supposed to be entering my athletic prime. I’m supposed to be like Kobe Bryant or whatever for the next 10, 15 years.
Yet, there’s a completely different narrative that most people are following now, and it’s only gotten worse, right?
Abel: People have more debt. They have more expensive housing, and a more expensive car. More expensive most things, except for technology, except for the things that turn you into a lifelong consumer.
And since I’m already ranting, I might just keep going.
Because when it comes to technology, I remember getting one of the first iPhones like 10+ years ago, at this point. But basically, it’s the same device except you could use that one to do things. The one that we have now uses you.
Abel: It bleeps and bloops at you all the time. It steals your attention.
And if you really ask yourself like, “What are we supposed to be doing with technologies? Are bigger screens in your face all the time better? Or is it just taking more of your attention? And if it’s taking your attention, what is it giving you back?”
Obviously, we’re doing this over technology. It’s a double-edged sword. It can be used for good.
It is, yah.
The Technology that Owns Us
Abel: But now more than ever it’s been co-opted by forces that want to turn all of us into lifelong consumers.
Even Apple is taking away all of the ports, the USB ports, the line in jack, the headphone jack. Such that all of these devices can no longer be used to create anything. All you can do is watch Netflix binges, and go on Instagram, and take pictures of yourself. And that is not progress.
I’m like you, I use technology as a tool, and I’ve been an Apple user forever. Oh god, I’m old. I grew up learning how to type on the IBM typewriters.
And next to it was the computer lab right on the other side of the aisle, and I remember using that through college. My girlfriend had one, and my roommate had one, and then I got away, I used PCs for a while. And it was always a tool, and now you’re right, everything we use is about data mining.
It’s about grabbing your information.
I actually just answered a question about this. A guy asked me what I did for protecting my information, and how I used the Internet as far as encryption? And all that.
I go, “Dude, I don’t use it that way, to where I worry. And if the government wants your information or any hacker really wants it, you’re screwed.”
Abel: It’s there. It’s everywhere.
And I go, “I don’t use the Cloud because I don’t like storing stuff out there.”
And when Apple said, “Oh, ours is the highest encryption ever,” it got hacked, remember that?
Abel: Yah, sure.
They were running their mouth, and it got hacked like the week later.
And I went, “That’s why my stuff is not on the cloud.”
I never use my real date of birth and information on social media.
And people are all, “What?”
And I went, “Why would I do that so it’s all there?”
People are looking to steal, especially companies.
And I loved the interviews with Zuckerberg in front of Congress, saying, “Oh, we never sell information.”
I’m all, “You have been selling our information for years.”
Abel: That’s all they do.
Everyone’s information, from day one, and everyone knows it.
Abel: Let me just say, I do use Facebook. I feel like to some degree it’s a necessary evil, or what have you. I do get to connect with a lot of people.
But let me just say, if you have been getting advertising and you are a follower of me on Facebook, they have literally bought you because you liked me or my page. And anyone can buy you to advertise to you, whether it’s on Facebook, Google, Instagram, almost anywhere else.
They have been buying the people who follow me, and it drives me insane.
I’ve been talking to quite a few creators about this. Because these days, for the past four years or so, it seems like things have changed. It used to be, you were growing a following, hopefully, growing a community.
And then everyone started monetizing at the same time and all the marketers came in and started buying up people’s personalities and habits, which is really difficult to understand and conceptualize and explain.
But you are, basically, Facebook’s product to be sold. Your personality, your habits, the things that you shop for are bought and sold around the Internet to other people who can influence you in very invisible ways.
When you log on to Facebook, for example, you’ll see a post from somebody who paid for it to be there, yet you don’t know that. Same thing with Google.
Basically, the whole Internet turned into that. It looks like it’s your Internet.
If you ever saw “Minority Report” when he’s walking down that hallway, you probably know what I’m talking about, and all of these advertisements, I think they scan his irises or something like that. They know that it’s him and they’re talking to him as he’s walking by these ads.
It’s like that on the Internet right now. Except it’s changed slowly and gradually, and so most people don’t realize what’s happening. But that is so dangerous, if you’re looking for the truth.
And that’s where AI comes in. They were looking at artificial intelligence in order to create algorithms that mass advertise to you. It’s basically targeting humans.
It’s funny you bring up Minority Report, because science fiction is usually based upon some fact, as far as the novels go, even the old novels. I mean, think of George Orwell in 1984. These were all precursors to where these people, these authors thought the world was going.
Abel: Great new world.
And we’re seeing the power of AI today.
I used to think that health was the biggest elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about and fix, especially because it’s actually fairly easy to fix.
Our health problems in this country are pretty straightforward, but no politician has ever solved the problem.
They create a problem, and then pitch you the solution in order to generate more money.
And I know, I’ve had people tell me, I’m a tin hat guy.
I go, “Guys, I spent half my life deep in the Federal government. I’ve seen things that no one else will see. I’ve dealt with people, I’ve heard conversations. Trust me on this one. The government is not there to fix your problem.”
And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way where I think we should have an uprising and burn cars. It’s more like, once you recognize that, then you can interact correctly and choose your path, right?
As long as you know that’s the end game.
Abel: I was in a really depressed state thinking about certain things, like the state of the world for a while.
Like, how could humans be in such dire straits right now? How could we be so unhealthy, so hooked on pharmaceuticals, opioids, and all these various things?
And then I’m just like, “Wait a second, is it more likely that we’re all independently making these decisions to be miserable and controlled, or is it setup so that our best intentions are co-opted by a system that turns us into that story of being 30 to 50 pounds overweight on three to six pharmaceutical drugs, and working this job, with this mortgage and sort of thing? Are we all being pulled in that direction?”
It seems so.
I’ve always said this, “Healthy people do not make the drug and pharmaceutical and medical machine any money.”
Abel: That’s right.
Healthy people are very cheap. By being unhealthy, you’re helping feed the beast. You’re making these multi-billion dollar companies by being unhealthy.
Once you’ve fixed your health, well, now you take the money away from them, and you take the power.
And I’ve always said to that, especially in being an entrepreneur. Now, I’m primarily an author, but I still consider myself an entrepreneur.
Linking Health and Financial Freedom
People ask me, “Where do I start, Gary?”
And I go, “You need to start with your health.”
And they go, “How is that going to make me create a business?”
I go, “By regaining your health, you’re taking back that big chunk of power that society and the system has over you right now. You start there, you’re taking a big portion back. Once you’re in control of your health, not only that, but you get better cognitive function, you make better decisions, you have far as better relationships, you communicate better, you’re happier.”
What’s the best cure for depression? Going out and exercising, and eating healthy.
Abel: It’s pretty simple.
So you start there and you weave those practices in, too. The discipline it takes to be healthy makes you more disciplined in your business ventures, in your life. Because it’s the hardest thing to do.
Abel: And more independent.
I get the question, “Gary, I want to live off the grid, I want to live more remotely.”
And I go, “How healthy are you?”
And they go, “Well, I could lose 50 pounds.”
And I go, “How in the world are you going to live remotely when you can’t be more than 5 miles away from the nearest hospital? You can’t climb a hill yet. You have to start there.”
And getting back into the technology, technology has kind of run big time into the health world, and it’s getting kind of scary now.
I think of humans as big computers, and the people hate this analogy. Especially some physicists, they go, “Ok, humans are not computers.”
Abel: We’re programmed though.
Yah, instead of ones and zeros, you have AC or ATGC. So it’s close. And with that, we’re manipulating things.
And people are going, “Well, I don’t need to take care of myself. Technology is going to fix it.”
Yes and no. And I’m not going to put all of my faith in a system that has not treated me nicely, in a way.
Why would I go and say, “They’re going to fix all my problems.” Instead I’ve taken that self-reliance attitude. It’s all on you.
Everything you’re going to do, it’s on you. Don’t blame other people. Don’t whine and cry about it.
I’ve done plenty of that myself and blamed everyone else. But, it’s on you. And you need to educate yourself, and figure out what you want to do.
And again, coming back to health, people always want me to fix them. And I’m all, “I can’t fix you, you need to learn about your own body. You need to have the knowledge of how your body works.”
And they’re all, “You mean, I’ve got to learn?”
“Well, yah, it’s your body. Why would you not want to know the basics of the physiology of the greatest invention that we know of, which is the human organism right now? Think about that.”
All we know right now is our little microcosm.
But in our little microcosm, we’re the most complicated thing within it.
Abel: Also, what is the placebo effect? We know that it’s big. We know that 30% to 50% of the time magic happens, depending on what you think. If you think it’s going to work, it’ll work 30% to 50% of the time.
That sounds like a pretty dang good technology to me, if you wanted to describe it that way. But what it necessitates is you taking it on yourself, like you said, making it your responsibility.
For example, if I’m feeling a little pain in my kidneys, what do I do about that? I’ve been doing Qigong exercises almost every morning for many years now, and I’m oversimplifying, but basically chi and energy is something almost harnesses the placebo effect.
So if you have an intention in your mind, and you scan your body, certain things might be hurting or acting up or what have you. And if you learn how to meditate, you learn how your body works, whether it’s physiology, whether it’s going to the chiropractor or learning where the trigger points are, doing self-massage or active release technique. There are so many different things that you can do.
One of the reasons it’s so important to get out there and move your body is because you learn.
Physical education is what it used to be called in school. They took it out of schools. But it’s education about your own body, how to use it, how to hike up that hill, how to go bouldering. You find all these new little fun things to do.
I’m sure you living in the boondocks, that’s not new to you. But now that you live there and have the freedom to experiment, you find all these new hobbies, new ways of using your body to explore the world.
And this is something, like you said, that’s a lot more difficult if you’re sick or overweight, or shackled to debt or some job or a lot of commitments.
I call it the overwhelming effect. We are so bombarded. We have this survival mechanism, right? So, we learn from things that usually go wrong.
You usually don’t learn the big lessons when things are going right. So you’re out, a typical one would be you’re out hunting as a hunter-gatherer a million years ago. You cross another predator that can eat you. Well, if you screw up, it will eat you. That is the lesson.
And if you’re fat and overweight, you’re just a tasty slow-moving organism for another organism to eat.
So obviously you would take these lessons in. And the stresses would be different because you’d be dealing with starvation. Still, you’d have physical ailments, broken bones, family, community, relationships. There would still be these pieces.
But today, it’s a bunch of little things. They all stack up.
So, next thing you know, you’re sitting in traffic or you’re eating out of the vending machine. Next thing you know, you’re a couple of hundred grand in debt. And all these trivial things start to stack up, and that’s degrading your health.
But that’s kind of how we live today. All these things keep stacking up.
We are an interactive species, as far as we interact with each other and the planet, but we’ve detached ourselves from that.
So using meditation, living in the moment, not worrying about things in the past that you can’t change.
We’re worrying about all these things that just don’t matter.
And that’s why I always tell people, again, focus on your health. You have 100% control of that right now. You can change it this moment. So start there.
Take the little steps, learn, learn how to detach.
When I first was starting on my path, I was listening to talk radio, watching all the pundits on TV, and I worked within the political system, so I had a little different angle on it.
But it was slowly driving me nuts.
And then you throw in outside influences and social media. You get bombarded with all this. So I’ve learned to detach. I do not open my computer up after four or five in the afternoon unless I’m working on a project.
I also work almost every day, but it’s based upon my schedule. So it’s bits and pieces. I organize my thoughts and live the way I want to live.
Abel: You’re using your computer like a typewriter, in a good way.
I do, because I’m a writer. And I’ll tell you what, there are some authors to this day, who still use typewriters.
Abel: I did until a few years ago.
Yah, or they hand-write their manuscripts.
The Social Media Diet
Abel: And that’s because of attention. Because all we really have is our attention.
And if you wake up everyday, and every day is a new day. But it’s not, if as soon as you wake up, an email or a call or a text or a social media message or what have you is coming at you.
You don’t have your attention anymore. And you don’t have the ability to create out of a real space.
For me, as a trained artist and musician, the three hour chunk or something like that, in the morning is the most precious thing you can have in the world.
Three hours of uninterrupted time.
When I was a kid growing up in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire, I had a lot of time like that as a kid. I didn’t want it, I wanted more stuff to be going on. I wanted to go out there and meet girls and see the world.
And after a while, it really changes, don’t you think? And it’s important that it does.
Well, you learn that you’re meant to focus on one thing at a time.
Multitasking sounds great. And you have to, at times, don’t get me wrong.
But in the big picture, the human is actually meant to focus pretty much on completing a task at a time.
Abel: And when they do, they do incredible things.
You are so much more productive at doing that thing. I am.
I won’t interact when I’m writing, I will not interact in anything else that’s going on on my computer. I am basically offline.
So I use it for the word processing. And if an email comes up that I have to answer, I’ll jump on it. But sometimes like I said, I’m not even connected, so I won’t even know.
But of course my phone will go off. But it’s about prioritizing and learning the task and what’s important. And I think that’s the biggest thing we’re all trying to discover, “Well, why am I here? What’s my purpose and what’s important?”
Well, working myself to death, being overweight, being miserable. I’ve determined that’s not what I want.
And it’s not easy. But if you can detach a little bit and find yourself. Sitting and chanting kind of thing. People kind of misconstrue that. But you know, I meditate.
I calm my mind. I’m a Type A, too, and my mind is always on. So I’ve had to learn to quiet it down, take it easy, things will get done, and again, prioritize on what’s important in what you want to do.
And I think you’re right. Technology today, it’s a threat, and you have to figure out how to properly use it.
I talk to people who are like, “I’m on Facebook,” and they’re on there three or four hours a day.
And I don’t think that’s uncommon.
Abel: No, and I was realizing this as I was standing in line, which I really don’t do that much anymore.
I had my phone, and as I said before, I don’t usually use social media as a consumer, but I fired up Facebook. I’m on my phone and I’m just standing there in line.
And I understand why people are on it so much. Because if you are just blowing off time, if you’re just kind of wasting time because someone’s wasting your time, then yah, be on it all day, that’s great. It’s more fun than playing a little game or something like that, because, “Oh, that’s my friend, that’s my old teacher, and I can talk about myself.”
Whereas, a few decades ago, you might stand in a line and be like, “Oh, I’m actually thinking about something right now, I’m getting work done in my head. And I’m conceptualizing an idea.” In the same way like when you’re in the shower, which I’m sure this isn’t far off.
If you could have your phone or technology in the shower, it’d be even better, right? But no, because you do your best singing in the shower. You do your best relaxation, you get a little bit of me time. What if that’s good for us?
What if we don’t need another $1,000 phone with no ports on it?
What if we had it just fine when we just took showers and walked down the street and stood in line without Candy Crush?
Well, and again, it’s that human interaction, too. You’ll see people standing in the line and no one’s interacting with each other anymore.
Abel: Or even sitting at the dinner table together.
Oh, I’ve gone and eaten out at restaurants, which I don’t do it very often, and I’ll watch families…
Abel: You’re the creepy guy in the corner.
Because I’m an outsider kind of in society. Because of the way I live. I live a totally different life. Living the life I wanted to.
But I’ll watch families interact, and literally I’ve seen families everyone from the 5-year-old on, they all have a device in their hand, and they’re not talking to each other. They’re having no interaction.
And I remember when we had dinner at the dinner table, which is very rare today. And as a family, we all sat down, we ate, we talked about our day, and what’s going on.
“I have practice tomorrow, mom, I need a ride.”
None of that happens anymore.
It’s called social media, which is true irony.
Abel: It is.
Because it’s anything but social. And you need to focus in not only that.
But we’re tribal, right? So now, we’re spreading out into these massive groups where humans were meant to interact in smaller packs, right?
Abel: With meaningful relationships.
Exactly. Because those peripheral relationships are not truly relationships, especially on Facebook. If you’ve got 4000 friends. No, you don’t. No one has 4000 friends.
Abel: Facebook says I do. And another many thousand followers on top of that.
For me, I’m very lucky and I give this example as the friends I grew up with, I have friends that we were literally babysat together. That’s how far we go back.
And to this day, we interact by phone, email, or in person. We do not interact on social media.
Abel: All those things are at least 20-plus years old, all those ways of interacting, if you’re talking about technology.
Well, and that’s the thing. These are friends I’ve had for close to five decades now. You get to know someone really, really well over that time.
Abel: You don’t need Facebook for that.
And that’s what I mean. I don’t need Facebook for that.
People ask me, “Well, why are you getting away from social media?”
And I go, “I don’t think that because I write books and I have a business that any person should have direct pipeline into my life.”
That’s not fair. It’s not fair to me.
And second of all, you shouldn’t be pipelining into my life. You should be focusing on your life and what you can do to make your life better.
Now, if you have a question, I tell people you have to fill out the form and it comes out in an email. If it’s a good question, you’ve taken the time, I answer all my emails. If you send me something stupid, you probably won’t hear back.
I’m not trying to be a jerk, but my time is valuable.
I only have so much time on this earth. I don’t know when I die where I go. No one’s come back to tell me.
So my attitude is, I’m going to live everyday the best I can. Work as hard as I can while still enjoying my life.
It’s like Jim Carrey just said, I wish everyone could be rich and famous to find out that that’s not the answer.
I used to think when I was younger, I’m like, “I just want to stop work.”
You’re always going to be working at something until the day you die.
Abel: We can’t help ourselves.
We can’t. Again, we’re curious, we’re always reaching, we’re always trying to learn something new. And the moment you stop, your life is dead.
Honestly, and I see a lot of people today doing that. I have people in my family that go, “What are you doing? This is not living.”
And that’s what I mean, you don’t have to live like me. That is not what I’m preaching. But again, find your purpose and pursue it, get after it, organize your time.
That’s another thing, is people cannot prioritize. They get so distracted. And I see this with people who start their own businesses time and time again.
I started working very young and I always treated every job, I guess, as a priority, even though I was working for someone else. I almost pretended like it was my business and I took it personally when I did something wrong or screwed something up, that that taught me really good habits to start my own business.
Now, people who have poor discipline and a lot of people hate their jobs, today.
And I’ve had friends do this, they go, “My job sucks, I’m tired of it, I’m going to start my own business.”
The problem with that is, it’s those bad habits that you formed while working with someone else that transcend right into the entrepreneurship role.
So while you were spending three hours on Facebook screwing around, talking in your friend’s cubicle, watching YouTube videos, what I watch people do is they start their business and they do the exact same thing in their business that they did for the person they worked for.
And their business just implodes. What’s your perspective on that?
Abel: I think it’s really different when you’re working for yourself, when you take it on as your own thing.
It takes a little bit for you to realize that, “Oh, if I don’t work today, nothing is getting done.”
Abel: That’s way different than if you’re working in the traditional rat race thing, like you said, you find yourself just walking over to someone’s cubicles and watching those YouTube videos and stuff because you don’t have enough valuable work to do.
And you know that you’re more valuable than that, and you want to have some sort of life. So you want to connect with old friends on Facebook, and you want to connect with your office friends and all of that. But that’s kind of like a fake life, in a lot of ways. Because, yes, you can have work friends, but your real friends are different from your work friends, right?
Abel: Like you said, if you’ve been babysat together and you’ve known each other for 50 years, you’re going to be a lot better friends, hopefully, or know each other a lot better, have a more intimate type of a relationship than someone who you just kind of have to play nice with because you work together.
And another big piece of that, too, is you have to get a handle on your health. We’ve talked about that.
If anyone wants to hear us talk for an hour about what exactly you should be eating and how you train, listen to the past interviews with Gary and check out his blog and mine as well. But you need to get your health under control. And I really do think you need to get your debt under control.
Abel: Or at least, you need to be above the clouds in one way or another.
It’s not like you need to sell your house, it’s that you need to find some way of not believing that money is your god anymore.
Because we’re trained and conditioned to believe that money is the only thing that matters. And it’s really easy to let it control your life, your relationships, your extended relationships, your family, all of that can be really confusing when money is controlling anyone in the equation. And debt controls people.
So, if there’s any way that you can dial down the debt or live simpler, like you said. What was it, 400 or 500 square feet that you were living in?
Yah, I loved it.
Abel: Alyson and I did that for about two years. 480 square feet, traveling around as much as we could.
People say, “Well, I wish I could travel around in an RV. I wish I had the money and the time and all of that to do that.”
It’s so much cheaper than a house. So much cheaper than renting anything.
But anyway, that’s not for everybody, it’s not. There are different personality types.
I don’t like taking on risks, but I like taking on different risky things, if that make sense. I like exploring them.
People think I fly by the seat of my pants and I go, “You don’t see the backend of my plan, you only see what I’m doing. You don’t see all the prep and all the thought process that went in behind it.”
And I try and share that in my books. I wrote my book, Guide to RV Living.
Abel: Those are great by the way the way. I read all of the newest books that you put out.
Abel: The RV one in particular was really helpful.
Well, and that’s why I try and do it. I try and come from a place of relaying and helping people with the lessons that I had to learn.
And I share the bad. And that’s what people like as I go. This isn’t all puppy dogs and butterflies. This is the real deal. I’m going to tell you how I screwed up.
Abel: When the power goes out and it’s negative seven degrees and the wine bottles start exploding, you might be cowering with your dog for dear life.
Not learning how to use your black water tank in your RV, you’re going to have a problem. And it’s going to be a bad one.
And it’s interesting, I wrote a blog post titled, The Two Things That Are Stopping You From Living The Simple Life. And I said finances and health, and I dug into the finances.
And this is where people, again, the two elephants in the room that no one wants to address. They buy a ton of books on it, they watch a ton of programs on it, and they never change anything.
So those are the two biggest ones we have to deal with.
Today, minimum wage, especially in Washington where I am. In Seattle, I believe it’s $15 an hour, and there’s other places that it’s $15 an hour, if I remember right. But that’s where we’re going. We want minimum wage to basically be $15 an hour.
So, I broke out the math and I said, “Ok people.” I get a lot of complaints about, “You’re single, you don’t have any debt, that’s how you can do it.”
Well, first of all, more married people with kids live my lifestyle than single people, so that is complete BS. Single people are the anomaly, we are not the majority of people living the RV-off-the-grid lifestyle.
Secondly, I did the math. So I did roughly 40 years. I said, “If you worked only 40 hours a week, made minimum wage for the rest of your life, you would make $1.24 million in your lifetime. Minimum wage, never progressing, never doing anything else.”
Ok, of course, we have responsibilities, you have to pay taxes, rent, or whatever, but think of that. Every individual in this country has the potential to be a millionaire. And more than likely, a multimillionaire.
We don’t have an earning problem, we have a spending problem. Click To Tweet
The government has more than enough money, but it blows it like a drunken sailor every chance it gets.
Abel: As a past consultant for the government, I can vouch for that.
I worked there, you consulted for them, I had to control budgets. It was ridiculous. It was absolutely ridiculous what goes on.
People always turn it into a working wage issue and that beating on the downtrodden.
And I go, “No, you’re missing the point. I’m giving you an example of money. I’m trying to teach you the money lesson that, heck, I had to learn.”
Abel: It wasn’t the decision or the trying to make more that ever led us to a place of success or happiness. It was always, “Are we doing what we want to do, and can we support ourselves?”
And for the 7 or 8 years that we’ve been doing this show, every single year, except for one basically, we broke even.
And I’m totally cool with that. I love that.
I think that’s great because that one good year made it so we’re able to put a little bit of money away and we feel ok, even if we’re just breaking even for the rest of our lives, cool.
But if you’re working in a job for someone else, then you’ve got to worry about losing your job. Because as soon as you do, you lose your insurance, too.
And most people know that health expenses can get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if anything goes wrong and you wind up in the hospital.
So, man, it’s pretty wacky, but most of us need to realize that you can dial it down a little bit. Maybe we don’t need 4 cars, maybe we don’t need 5000 square feet of a house to live in. Or 10,000 square feet. It’s absurd, especially once people make a little bit of money or whatever, you see the expenditures that happen.
And, man, I bought a house that was not expensive, it was like $290K in 2009, I think it was. And the property taxes wound up being over $10,000 per year a few years later, because they kept jacking it up. It was close to Austin and Austin was exploding.
I was starting to spend more in taxes than I would have been spending to rent the same place.
Well, and I think that’s part of the problem, is we’re not taught in school how to manage money. And don’t get me wrong, I think we’re of the same belief that I’m not a poo-poo money guy. Money runs the world, that is a fact.
Abel: But less money can, too.
But if you use it wisely, you use it to your benefit, you don’t have to worry about it nearly as much. And you can figure out different ways and get creative.
We think that we need all these things. There are five things that I think put people in kind of an indentured servitude kind of place. That starts as a young child not learning how to save, not being taught how money works, then college, marriage, cars, and home ownership. That was six. But right around there.
Those are the things that we take for granted, that or we’re told that that’s life. We’re preprogrammed to say, “That is life.” And for me…
Abel: And then you want to downsize when you’re 60 or 70. Everyone wants to downsize. They can’t wait to get rid of their big house and all this stuff. So what if we downsized in our 20s, 30s or 40s, right?
Abel: Then things start to be a lot more achievable.
I can’t believe it. We’re already more than out of time, but we could talk all day. I’ll have to have you back.
Before we go Gary, can you please tell people where to find you?
I don’t know if all your listeners, probably not many, know my background, but I have a website, it’s called thesimplelifenow.com. That’s where I do my blog, all my books are for sale there.
I’ve lived off the grid now, I started this project over five years ago, I’ve lived in my travel trailer longer than that. So it’s about my adventures and my life, and then I have the optimal health book. The Simple Life book series is a new series I developed. I’m more of an author now, and the speaking’s coming and all that kind of good stuff.
So go there, all my books are sold on Amazon. I still have my supplement line. I have customers that I had from day one who still buy from me.
They trust me. I don’t do the supplement line to make money. It’s a place for you to go that people realize that, “Hey, Gary actually knows this stuff pretty good.”
Abel: I dig it. Well, if you guys want to break free of the machine and start to create your own life, definitely check out Gary’s work.
I’ve been following it and interacting with Gary for years now. And you cover a lot of bases and not many of them have been covered by conventional wisdom.
Well, and more’s coming.
Abel: For all you folks out there, please check it out.
Well Gary, thank you so much for coming on the show.
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