"There's almost nothing that's more fulfilling in my life than giving generously with no ulterior motive."
On a scale of 1-10, how grateful would you say that you are every day, in each moment, and how present are you for all that you have to be grateful for?
Personally, I believe that GRATITUDE is the key to true and lasting happiness, and I would humbly rate myself at a “9” on the gratitude scale. But that wasn’t always the case for me. In fact, quite the opposite.
Just ask my mom. She’ll tell you that, growing up, gratitude was definitely NOT one of my strengths. It wasn’t until I learned the power that gratitude has in determining the quality of our lives that I made it a priority and the quality of my life my life has been radically transformed as a result.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was immediately grateful (literally). For what you might be wondering? For the extraordinary adversity that I believed would provide me the opportunity to learn, grow, and become a better version of myself.
On today’s podcast episode, you’ll meet one of the most genuinely grateful people I have ever met – someone whom I deeply admire – Ryland Engelhart. Ryland is the Mission Fulfillment Officer and co-owner of my absolutely favorite restaurant in the world – one that is changing the world – Café Gratitude!
Today, he joins the podcast to share how to amplify gratitude and happiness in your life every single day, and how humanity can live regeneratively in relation to nature.
- How Ryland’s parents viewed business as a force for good – and how doing good, and adding value to people’s lives, and being mindful can naturally lead you to profits.
- Why fulfillment doesn’t come to Ryland from stuff – and how he finds extraordinary power from surrendering, being present, and living in the moment.
- How we as a species commoditized our relationship with nature – and how we can consume with reverence, consciousness, and recognition to allow for continued life for generations to come.
- What Ryland does to ground himself when he feels low.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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COMMENT QUESTION: What is your big takeaway? Write it in the comments below.
Hal: Goal achievers, hey, it’s Hal Elrod. Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast and today is a great day. It’s the best day ever. It’s one thing I work on my kids, by the way, is at an early age I taught them the best day ever philosophy which is where you just decide that every day is literally the best day of your life and it’s not because of what’s happening around you or happening to you, but it’s what’s happening inside of you. I didn’t know I was going to share that but that’s just a random tangent that I thought would be interesting over the podcast because I’m talking to you. But considering that, right, like that best day ever philosophy that you just decide that every day of your life is the best day of your life and it’s an intention that you show up to everything that you do. And I once heard I can’t remember where I learned that philosophy. Maybe David Wolf many years ago but he said, “Then when things go…” you know, we have a “bad day” they’re like, “Hey, well, luckily, this bad thing happened in the midst of the best day of my life or it would’ve been a lot worse.”
So, anyway, for what it is worth, there is a goal for you to consider incorporating into your world, which is to make every day the best day of your life no matter what is going on around you. Again, it’s what’s going on inside of you. And today one of the things that make today the best day of my life that’s happening around me and to me and for me is my guest today, Ryland Engelhart. And Ryland and I have become friends, acquaintances, and getting to be friends. We’re getting to kind of know each other and we really just appreciate each other. Well, I can’t speak for him. I don’t know if he appreciates me as much as I appreciate him, but the Ryland is, well, let me give you the official introduction. He is the Mission Fulfillment Officer and Co-Owner of my favorite restaurant in the entire world by heart, no comparison, not even close, and that is Café Gratitude. I’ll tell you when I go to any city where there is a Café Gratitude located, I don’t know if you noticed, Ryland, but my entire world revolves around Café Gratitude and eating every single meal there if possible.
And last month I went down to San Diego to shoot with Pat Flynn for the Miracle Equation book doing some promotion and interviews with Pat and I rented an Airbnb within one block walking distance from Café Gratitude. My whole world. You understand? I love the restaurant that much and I’ve been begging Ryland one of my goals is I told him before we started the interview today is to get that in Austin, get a Café Gratitude in Austin, Texas. They have a sister restaurant Gracias Madre as well and we’ll talk more about the restaurants. He’s also the co-founder of Kiss The Ground, a nonprofit that educates and advocates about the connection between soil, human, and planetary health and I actually recently just was offered a position on the board which I’m very honored to have accepted. And Ryland’s also the co-creator of the award-winning transformational documentary film, May I Be Frank. He is an entrepreneur, an activist using his restaurant as a platform to inspire more gratitude into our culture and he speaks on sacred commerce, tools for building community, and regeneration. At least two out of three are two of my favorite topics. And it is my excited pleasure to have a conversation that is about to follow with you my friend, Ryland. Welcome to the podcast.
Ryland: Thank you for that joyful exuberant amazing introduction and I love the best day ever philosophy. Yeah, that’s definitely one that we’ve incorporated and brought into our work culture. We have actually this fun saying called, “Okay, great.” And when the world outside of us is falling apart and the toilet is overflowing and there is an hour-and-a-half for food to come out of the kitchen and there’s a 40-minute wait at the host stand and you just had an allergy and you say, “Okay. Great.” It’s like, “All right. I’m going to embrace the challenges with the attitude of gratitude and the attitude of all right I’m going to create greatness inside of these challenging circumstances.” So, we actually just came out with a hat that says, “Okay. Great.”
Hal: That’s great. I like it.
Ryland: Yeah. It’s a little insider scoop on a way that with two short words you can create that best day energy no matter what is happening outside of us.
Hal: I love you. Thank you for sharing that tool to add to the introduction to the podcast today. Yeah, man. And for those that have never been to Café Gratitude, talk about what is Café Gratitude and I love that your parents founded it, right?
Ryland: That’s right.
Hal: Yeah. So, talk about it. I’d love to hear Café Gratitude like why did they start it? What was the intention? What was the mission? I think it’s fascinating and I will say this before we go on. One of the topics that you speak on sacred commerce is based on a book that your parents wrote called Sacred Commerce, and, in fact, I’m going to take a 10 seconds here or 30 seconds to tell you what I tell people about Café Gratitude and then I’d love for you to elaborate and correct me if I’m getting this wrong. So, I want to make sure this is right.
Hal: The way that I explain it is I say, “Look, this is a restaurant where the founders, Matthew and is it Ter-says? Is that how you say your mom’s name?
Ryland: Ter-sees. It’s actually “secret” backwards. It’s secret spelled back so Terces.
Hal: I can see it in my head now, but I never made the connection so Terces. So, Mathew and Terces, your parents, so the way that I explain it is that they view, most people view business as the purpose of a business is to make a profit and if you make a profit, maybe you do good with that and you give some of the money to charity and the way that I understood it from and it was my memory of reading the book years ago but is that your parents view business as a force for good, a force for transformation. And profit is a byproduct but from what I understood it, it was that the purpose of the business is to, in my words, I would say add value to every person, every living thing, even obviously the soil but every person, every living thing that comes in contact with. So, to make the vendors’ lives better, to make the employees’ lives better, to add value for the customers on and on and on and if you do that, if you focus on adding value and serving and making things better, people’s lives better, and yeah you make a profit as well, but like that’s almost an afterthought, and as a result of being purpose and mission-driven. So, that’s my kind of frame of reference to your parents’ mission with Café Gratitude and I’d love to hear the real story if you will, hearing your words.
Ryland: Absolutely. That is a beautiful summary and that all rings true. So, yeah, my parents were definitely and again, my father married Terces when I was 20 years old so she became my stepmother. So, my biological mother lives in Hawaii and she has actually a land where she has community living and she actually had something called Café Attitude which is a Sunday night supper club and the attitude is be grateful or get out.
Hal: That’s awesome.
Ryland: That’s a whole other tangent. So, basically, my father and stepmother got married about 20 years ago and it was after the point Terces was actually I think 51 or 52 years old when they got married and she had raised three kids as a single mother and had been through the pathway of addiction and kind of sexual abuse that led to that addiction and then been kind of spiritually speaking for some higher purpose and exploring her relationship with God and spirituality, and my dad, on the other hand, had been a student of many, many gurus like I was conceived in a VW van on the way to California to they were coming to Laguna Beach to sit with a teacher by the name of Charlie Luke who is a transcendental meditation teacher. This was back in the late 70s or early 80s. I was born in ‘80. And so, they were both spiritual seekers and hippies back to the land where my dad lived in a tepee for two whole years cooking every meal on an open fire in a tepee in the Adirondacks in the winter, 3 to 4 foot of snow climbing up the side of the tepee.
But here they are they get married and they’re looking for what’s the point. My dad had already experienced quite a bit of success with clothing business that he had dealt with my mom that was called Flax and he was sitting on a little bit of a nest egg from the sale of that company and they spent a year really asking the question, how can we contribute in the most impactful and profound way? And they literally spent a year together after they got married asking that question together and really contemplating if this next chapter of what we create is maybe the last working business that we create with our lives. What can be the most impactful thing that we could do? And the thing that kept on coming into their hearts and their minds through meditation and inquiry asking was gratitude. How do we build a culture of gratitude? How do we have gratitude be more present and more alive and real in our lives?
And clearly we’ve become more and more affluent, more and more consumption has taken place, but it seems like the clear indicator shows that the more you have doesn’t give you a sense of more gratitude that that is an inside job that something internal that something that has to do with our perspective, our mind, where we put our attention. And so, again, they kept on getting this whisper of gratitude and that whisper turned into creating a board game called they literally spent a year working with the artist creating a board game similar to monopoly but instead of going around and charging people to stay in hotels and riding a railroad costing $200 or going to jail, you would look at yourself work. You would ask yourself a question, “What way do you diminish yourself on a daily basis? Share with the other players.” That would be a card that you’d pull in the game and you’d share that with the other players and then the other players would share that answer. And so, they created this beautiful artistic beautiful transformative game and they started having dinner parties at their house.
They started having dinner parties at their house and at the same time they had a neighbor in – we have a farm in Hawaii, organic farm in Hawaii and there was somebody who was very into raw vegan food and he inspired them to go raw for 30 days. And so, it was the combination of them playing with being raw food is and creating this game and creating dinner parties that then had some of their friends go, “How are you going to get this game out to the world? How are you going to give it to humanity?” And they recommended, “Why don’t you guys do a café where the theme of the café will be about you can kind of invite people in. The food can be the carrot but the intention for every guest experience can be one that could be planting a seed of gratitude or shifting the conversation or shifting some of the awareness to something that they already have that they’ve fallen asleep to that through our interaction could be awoken and brought into the awareness, bringing a new experience, bringing a joyful experience.” There’s a beautiful quote that says, “Abundance can be simply had by consciously receiving what has already been given.”
Hal: Beautiful. What’s the name of the board game by the way? You just reminded me that I own it and haven’t played it for like 10 years. I have to find it.
Ryland: It’s called The Abounding River.
Hal: Yeah. That’s right. I can picture the cover. I can picture the cover.
Ryland: Yeah. So, again, fast forward. That was really the blueprint of the restaurant was literally a place to shift people’s consciousness from where we oftentimes find ourselves in scarcity, not enough, I’m not good enough, I’m too this, I’m too that, I’m too old, I’m too young, too fat, I’m too stupid, I’m too skinny, I’m too fat. Whatever that version I’m not enough is that we oftentimes clay in the conversation of our minds and consciously forge a new pathway with answering the question or minding our mind towards what am I grateful for? Like in this moment I can be aware that I have a sore throat and I feel like I have this happy kind of cough and I’m dealing with a hernia in my stomach and my tension’s on that, there’s some stress and some fear and some sense of anxiety about it.
Hal: It sounds like an okay great moment by the way.
Ryland: Okay. Exactly. Okay great. This is what I get to deal with. This is what I get to be responsible for. And then looking at what I can consciously receive that’s already given, I have a one-year-old son who just turned one last Sunday and…
Hal: Happy birthday.
Ryland: Yeah. I’ve never felt so much love in my life and that it alludes me for most of the day like forgetting that love, that joy, that fulfillment that exist in that relationship. So, really, yeah, the restaurant was simply designed to be an environment where we could awaken people to being present and grateful for all that they already have been given and using our service and using our menu again for those people that haven’t been there, the whole menu is designed around positive affirmation. So, to order the tacos, you say, “I am transformed,” and then when we deliver that plate of food to you, we say…
Hal: Oh, Ryland, I lost you.
Ryland: You are transformed. Can we do that with sincerity, presence, eye contact, such that people they let that in, they receive that affirmation, they receive that love and that acknowledgment? And so, yeah, that our guest receives that that we just had all employee meetings. We call our employee’s advocates. This morning we spent two hours with all of our advocates translating for the back of the house in Spanish and with the presentation all about this presence and that our words forge our life and what we speak will be the creation of what we experience. And when we complain we stop and we create a cap on the momentum of the things that we’re creating in our joy and when we’re joyful and enthusiastic and passionate and excited about things then that actually creates a momentum. And so, we spent two hours going over that with our staff as well as a commitment to people having access to healthy food so we bought Thrive Market memberships so free memberships for all of our staff so they have access to healthy organic food at a discount of 25% to 50% off. So, a little plug for Thrive Market.
Hal: I’m a fan of Thrive.
Ryland: Yeah. But really how can we build a business that really is demonstrating love, demonstrating that we’re in service to love in all that we do? And that is looking down the supply chain of every ingredient being organic, everything down to the coriander seeds to every seedbed that those have all been mindfully and consciously selected in the most loving way such that the planet such that people’s bodies receive only healthy nutritious thing that there’s love and the choice that every one of those ingredients and that translates into every guest dining experience even though they may not even know that they’re receiving such an amazing curated meals as far as every ingredient goes.
Hal: Well, I’ll tell you it is really the love and the gratitude is palpable when you go to the restaurant like you literally feel it. I mean, I think that’s why it’s my favorite restaurant is I feel so happy, so good when I’m there. And it also comes through in your employees like every person there, right, they’re working at a place where the foundation of everything is love and gratitude and it just comes through in their expression. So, when I ask you like I want to ask you about gratitude here. I want to be on it for a minute. So, I personally believe that the quality of our lives is in direct proportion to the amount of gratitude or the quality of gratitude that we’re present to which means at any given moment I believe we all have the opportunity to be the happiest we’ve ever been no matter what’s going on around us, what’s going on inside of us. When I have my cancer the day I was diagnosed and given there’s 30% of living I went, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I will be the most grateful I’ve ever been while I incurred the most difficult time in my life,” which was my long way of saying okay great.
I have a friend who this was probably six months ago. He said I was talking to him and it was like I had just landed a book deal or like I don’t know what it was but I had to speak to something like exciting thing I was sharing with him and he goes, “Hal, man, what is this like to be living the life that you’re living and having everything you ever want kind of thing? And you work so hard for this,” and I said, “What’s it like for you?” And he was kind of taken aback and he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, it’s all perspective.” I said, “For the majority of the world, you live like a freaking rock star. You live like a king.” I go, “But you’re not present to that it sounds like so you’re looking at the way I’m living going, ‘Wow. I wish I had what he had.’” I go, “Think about it. Where does it end?” I could look at the next millionaire or billionaire and go, “Wow, man, I wish I was like them. They must be happy because they have it.” You know what I mean? So, again, that’s where it goes back to no, no, no, no, all of your life isn’t about how much money you make or much stuff you have. That all plays a tiny part, but it really has everything to do with how present you are to all of the things in your life that you can be grateful for.
And the more present you are whether it’s through meditation or just awareness or just presence that the more you go out. I woke up today. I have my health. I have a roof over my head and if you have a car like that’s a rich person stuff. You have a vehicle. Most of the world doesn’t have a vehicle that they drive. So, anyway, it’s all perspective. So, I want to hear from you for two things around gratitude. How would you explain the benefits of gratitude like how important it is, why it’s important like what are the benefits of being more grateful? And then I’d love to hear how do you suggest someone who maybe gratitude isn’t a big part of their life? Maybe they weren’t raised by people to talk of gratitude or just maybe they had a hard life, and they’ve gone through some really difficult times and they’re a little bit jaded and they’re going, “Yeah. Grateful for what? My life sucks.” So, number one, what’s the importance and the benefits of living with more gratitude, Ryland? And then how do you that?
Ryland: So, the importance of living in gratitude and again I just want to humbly say this is just my view on it and my experience on it. And the importance in what I’ve seen and learned over my lifetime is that my life circumstances I think at times been a host making $9 an hour and answering the phone, brown bagging headline what I was doing. And I’ve also had amazing moments of meeting people who are leaders in the world. And what I can say is that and I’ve also had the economics of my bank account, what my car look like. They’ve gone up and down. I’m grateful I could say that they had grown over the years even though there had been some peaks and valleys but what I know is with absolute certainty the quality and the experience of fulfillment in my life does not come from myself. It doesn’t even come from my partnership.
Hal: Yes. In your marriage?
Ryland: My marriage. I’ve been married eight years. It literally comes from where is my attention in this moment. And when I’m present at how extraordinary my wife is, I am so overjoyed and then love and connected and like move and when I’m annoyed, irritated, or feeling self-loathing and no amount of love, no amount of stuff can make that experience go with. And so, what I know for certain is our access, my access to happiness, my access to fulfillment, my access to connection comes through the humbling act of surrendering to what life looks like and being grateful for what is so right now and when we can be grateful to receive what is so right now, it opens up the spaciousness and the availability to receive the blessings that we mostly are asleep to all the time. There’s a beautiful prayer called Iroquois Grateful Address which is it was given to humanity as a way to start every day or start every meeting or start every community gathering.
Basically, it’s a survey and appreciation of every part of the living world, starting with humans and then Mother Earth and then the water and the soil and the medicine plants and the food plants and the trees and the birds and the winds and the thunders and the rains and basically it goes through this survey and recognizing that the gift that those things are to our life. And when we can awaken to that, every living plant is pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and giving us oxygen to breathe. We can just wrap our heads around the blessing that that is. It’s amazing and it may be like I’m way out to lunch here like I can’t relate to what you’re talking about.
Hal: I can relate. In fact, I’m jiving with you.
Ryland: Yeah. When we can right now just like I’m just looking down at my chest and I’m looking down and wearing a shirt that was made from cotton and it was made with blue indigo dye that didn’t put any chemicals in any children’s water just like wow presents to like the amazing ability for manufacturing clothes to actually not cause harm to the planet and I’m present to that I’m sitting in a parking lot in a Tesla Model 3 and mostly I’ve got a Tesla and I love it, but if you ask me do I love it, I say love it but I mostly don’t, I’m not present to like, “Oh my God. This is such a gift that I get to drive around and I don’t get to burn fossil fuels and I get to be part of a solution.” So, there are so many things that I’m grateful that I get to drink. I have clean water to drink right here. I’m thirsty and I have clean water to drink and I’m so grateful that that’s available to me right now. That’s available to so many people. And so, to wrap this up, I’ve had lots of great circumstances in my life. I’ve had lots of great accolades and lots of great things, but the reality is where I found fulfillment is when I’ve been present to all that I have been given and it’s not usually the things that I think I want to accomplish.
Usually, like this podcast is about achieving your goals and while I’m a huge believer in committing to goals and taking action towards those goals, my experience is what I’ve achieved the goal I’m just looking for the next goal but when I’m actually just in every day looking around at my life and looking at what already is present, nothing changed, nothing fits, nothing added and I can be grateful for that, that’s where I’m actually in the most joy and the most fulfillment and most happy.
Hal: I love it. I mean, I think that what you’re talking about, what you just beautifully articulated is the real secret to happiness. If there’s any secret like that’s it. It’s love what you have. Be grateful for what you already have. And we see this with so many celebrities where maybe at a young age they dream of being famous, being an actor, singer, whatever, and then they achieve that goal and they thought that that was where the fulfillment that all human beings are searching for was lying in the goal or the million dollars or the car or whatever and then you see the same celebrities so many of them that turned to drugs and alcohol whether you’re a celebrity or not but people that think that the happiness gravitates somehow outside of them, like once I get the thing and then also happy and you just as again beautifully articulated that no, it’s when you’re present and grateful to every little thing. I wanted to comment. You mentioned the trees that give us oxygen so on and so forth.
So, I had a realization a few weeks ago that I have, I don’t have much of a relationship with nature or at least I didn’t then. It’s been a few weeks, so me and nature getting to know each other but I realize I’m not in nature much like I’m in an air-conditioned house, going to an air-conditioned car, driving air-conditioned spots and I don’t really spend much time in nature unless I’m like in the pool some with the kids but I’m not near the trees so on and so forth. And so, I went I’m like I need to get in touch with nature. It’s like go on my backyard and with beautiful forest-y backyard and typically there’s these two ginormous trees that provide shade. They’re like center in our yard right next to our pool, they provide shade over the pool and so on and so forth. And I’m going out there and I’m just looking around at all the nature and going, “Man, I never visit with you guys and gals. You’re living things, which means I guarantee you feel my energy, but I never appreciate you like you’re totally in the background. I don’t even think about you. Well, this is ending right now.”
And I just I started thinking, I go, “Thank you for providing.” I’m literally talking outside I mean out loud like a crazy person and I go, “Thank you for providing oxygen for my family and shade for my family. We’re probably going to be here for another 10 years so, hey, we might as well get to know each other.” And then I went a step further and people listening are going to – this might be the last episode they ever listen to, Ryland, after I finish this but I go, “You know what, I’m looking at the two trees in particular because those are like the most like visual fixtures of nature in our backyard. There’s a lot of little plants and bushes and trees and grass wherever these two trees and I go, “In fact, you guys deserve names,” but at the same time names and I don’t think I was saying this out loud as far as my head but I go, “At the same time, a name is just a label. No name can ever sum up a human being nor can it sum up what you are as a tree with billions of cells that make you up.” I go, “So, we’re going to go with the most generic names possible. You are tree 1 and you are tree 2.”
And then when my kids got home from school that day, I go, “Hey, guys, come outside real quick.” I go, “Look at this yard.” I say, “Isn’t this a beautiful yard?” and they’re like, “Uh, yeah.” My daughter is nine, my son is six, and I said, “Look at these two trees,” and they’re like, “Yeah. What are you talking about, dad?” I said, “These trees provide us with oxygen and shade,” and I go, “Have you ever thanked them?” They were like, “No.” I go, “Hey, I just gave them names. That’s tree 1. That’s tree 2. You guys like those names or should we do something different?” They’re like, “No, those are good names.” I said don’t you think we should appreciate them for the value they add to our lives?” They’re like, “Yeah.” I go, “Let’s start talking. Having a relationship.” And then the very next day we went to one of my team members her house, for it’s her mother-in-law’s house for a little like it was her birthday and we walked up and she got this big tree in the front yard and, Ryland, it had a tree face on it. You know what that is?
Ryland: Yeah. No. I know – I can imagine some knots or something on the tree that looked like a face.
Hal: So, actually, so that would be a natural tree face but you actually purchase it on Amazon or Home Depot. I got mine on Amazon but it’s made of ceramic and it’s two eyes and a mouth and there’s all different kinds so they have different personalities. There’s like a guy with a big mustache and there’s all these different treats. So, I go, “Kids, should we get faces for tree 1 and tree 2?” And they’re like, “Yeah. That’d be awesome.” So, I ordered these two faces and we put them on tree 1 and tree 2. It makes them even more real a little. But anyway, I know I’m going in-depth on this but the point is when I walk into my backyard before, I used to be numb. There was no joy. There was no gratitude. There was even no awareness that there was anything really back there. I knew it was there but there was no awareness. And now because I shifted my level of conscious awareness to be and I did it. I made a choice. It wasn’t accidental and I made a conscious decision to be extremely grateful for every living plant and everything in my backyard.
And now every time I walk into my backyard and I say, “What’s up?” to tree 1 and tree 2 usually it’s not out loud but sometimes I do it, whatever, but the quality of my life is radically enhanced because I simply chose to be present to the gratitude for the nature that has been around me the entire time. We’ve lived here for over a year. It’s been here the entire time just like and for you if you’re listening, thinking, listening to everything Ryland has shared with you, what are the things in your life that that they’ve been there for who knows how long, but maybe you’re not fully present to have blessed or lucky or whatever word you want to use how grateful you are or could be and I daresay it could be for those things. You go ahead.
Ryland: Yeah. What contribution are those things to your life like every time we drink water there’s a contribution of hydration is a contribution of balancing. There’s a contribution of moving toxins out of our body and eliminating things. Every time we eat, it sounds so basic and so simple, but do we take a moment to just appreciate the life of those plants or those animals or those farmers or those chefs that prepared this food that literally is the sustenance of your life that the missing of that would actually like having life not exist and that we can actually with sincerity recognize the contribution that is to our lives. I would say I’m inspired by this conversation because it’s very heavy on my heart how human beings are in relationship to the world, to the living planet, to mother Earth, to nature. We have completely commoditized and turn mother nature the living system that provides us everything. We’ve turned it into dormant matter that it’s for our disposal to chop up, cut up, manipulate, form into stuff that sell and then giving back to nature something that nature can’t even process because it’s been so synthesized and added such chemical constituents that nature can’t actually take it back.
And I think that the profoundness of you saying and recognizing those tree as kin and those tree as we relate to other people because we are of the human race so people are our kin, are the things that we see but when we create a context for a river or a tree to have a human-esque to have a spirit, a living spirit that we relate to as energy and has the ability to be connected to, we then create a new relationship with it which then has us want to care for it more. Perfect example, right? Many people who have cats or dogs they love their animals. They have a relationship to those animals and because they had that kind of relationship to those animals, they would never consider putting those animals on their plates. But a relationship to an animal that they don’t have any relationship to or even just chickens in general like that I don’t have a relationship of appreciation and again I’m not even advocating that killing an animal for the sustenance of life is a bad thing. I’m actually not saying that.
I think that that actually is the law of the universe, even though I have vegan restaurants and I’m a total advocate of plant-based eating and plant-rich diets, I get that in the architecture of life there is death creates life. There is the consumption of something. The energy of something dies becoming transformed into the energy of something to live and it’s always been that way. It’s been that in every layer of the living system into the animal kingdom, of the human kingdom and that is what’s happening and there is a beautiful distinction to bring into the presence of gratitude which is there’s a Wendell Berry quote which says, “Every day we must break the body and spill the blood of creation. If we do it knowingly, reverently, and carefully it is a sacrament. And if we do it with greed, gluttony, and carelessness, it is a desecration.”
And again, back to this aspect of, yes, we can cut a tree down but are we doing it with a reverence for what that will actually provide for our lives and for our communities or for the communities or the business that our product is distributed to, and are we doing it in a way that recognized if I take something away, am I adding value somewhere else so that I can actually support a system of health for generations, or future timelines that come in the beautiful way that indigenous culture say that in every action that we take today we’re considering or thinking about seven generations in the future and that today is borrowed. Our actions that were taken today are actually remember how that was staged but…
Hal: Most of those are pretty good.
Ryland: Yeah. Got most of it. Anyway, but, yeah, gratitude really I can’t member what you said but it is the secret ingredient to life. You said something about a lot of people get a lot of their goals and don’t find themselves happy. I was just in the restaurant the other day and lots of celebrities come to the restaurant and some I’ve been fans of and some I don’t necessarily know about but there was one of my favorite musicians of all time came in and I sat down and talked with him and I just so admire his work over the last 20 years and he authentically shared to me that he was going through a tough moment in his life and actually he was questioning what the point of life was and that he was in Gratitude and in California as a place to heal and to feel the gentleness of life because he kind of had lost his way and he was re-finding his way and he was so grateful for Café Gratitude because it just brought him back to the simple premise of looking at what he did have and in the minds, the Buddhist say that we with a hungry ghost in our mind just as consuming more and more and more, not just some physical things, but an idea as grandiosity about ourselves that we can just create bigger and bigger traps for ourselves to fall short to.
Or we can moment by moment interaction by interaction really recognize what we already have, what we’ve been given, what is so right now that we can be fulfilled by and have that inform the next action, that inform the next goal, the next commitment, the next place that we want to contribute. And I know we went quite on a tangent around that, but I know there was a second question which was – what was the second question?
Hal: The second question was and I’ll give a tip on this and then have your answer but what do you recommend for people to amplify the amount of gratitude they have in their life and for me the simple as every day I journal what I’m grateful for during my Miracle Morning practice and I personally use the Five Minute Journal app. You can also get a Five Minute Journal, a physical hardcover journal, but I like the app because you can put a picture each day. I put up a picture. So, every day the app simply says, “I am grateful for…” and there’s room to jot down three things that you’re grateful for. As I said earlier, the quality of our lives I believe is really directly proportional to the quality of the amount of gratitude that you are present to and to be present to it you’ve got to simply acknowledge it. When you acknowledge in writing, you’re activating different neural pathways in your brain to actually write it and then also gives some benefit of one of my favorite things to do and I do it once a month usually on average is just flip back through my Five Minute Journal app and review hundreds of entries of what I was grateful for that day and I get to relive my life over again if you will.
So, Ryland, any other practice other than gratitude journaling or going to Café Gratitude to amplify the gratitude in our lives?
Ryland: Yeah. Everywhere you go and every person you meet, see what you can acknowledge them for. When I’m feeling low about myself or like I’m grasping for something I want more and I’m feeling lost in the moment, I ground oftentimes by coming into interaction with someone and being present with them looking at how I can contribute to them and acknowledging them wholeheartedly from the bottom of my heart and really allow myself to be moved by what they provide for me, what they provide for others, what service they bring, what qualities of curiosity, strength, courage, kindness, exuberance, hard work, dedication, discipline. And when I acknowledge people, I feel rich. I feel full. I feel I received the acknowledgment when I give acknowledgment. There’s this kind of song kind of poem opening line that I haven’t gotten to writing the song or writing the poem but it said, “All that I have is all that I have to give,” and it’s kind of a whisper from spirit as a way to be fulfilled and to live a joyful happy meaningful life.
And when we’re acknowledging, we’re praising, we’re appreciating people there’s a distinction we talk about in our company culture which like a piece of our real estate or house appreciates over time it gains value when we acknowledge and appreciate people they raise, it raises their self-worth. It raises their confidence but it also raises ours. We actually get to live in the feedback loop of that. There’s almost nothing that’s more fulfilling in my life than giving generously with when there’s literally no ulterior motive. There’s just I want you to experience love. I want you to experience joy. I want you to experience being fulfilled and giving to another whether it’s a word or a gift or an active service. When you’re doing that, I feel the most high, the most fulfilled, the most on purpose, the most in fulfillment of my goals. I recently got this whisper in a meditation experience of stop trying to be somebody and be love. Stop trying to be somebody, somebody, some physical body doing something and be love.
And I so get it like when I am the most fulfilled when I feel like I could go because I’m fulfilling my purpose is when I’m being present with people contributing to them, listening to them, acknowledging them, seeing their greatness and communicating that for it.
Hal: It’s beautiful, man. I couldn’t agree more. Simply, for anyone listening, the easiest way to do that is just when you’re at a restaurant or you’re getting on an airplane just look at the person, look at their name tag, find their name, and thank them. Whenever I get in an airplane every single time I always look at the name tag of the flight attendant when I walk on and, “Mary, hey, thank you so much,” and I look at her right in the eye like you’re the best at this, man, like when I walk in Café Gratitude you make feel like a million bucks and I try to pay that forward. When I go on to a plane I just say, “Hey, Mary, thank you so much for taking care of us today,” and, Ryland, as you might imagine I’d say nine out of ten flight attendants are like looking around going like, “What? No one says that. Nobody acknowledges me.” It’s such a primitive human need to be acknowledged and I think that for whatever reason people take those that are providing service for us it’s like the opposite of rather than being grateful and acknowledging them, we’re like I know you’re here. You’re supposed to take care of me. You’re supposed to wait on me. It’s like, “No, it’s not supposed to. It’s like about the acknowledgment of that.” It’s a win-win. They feel great and you feel great and fulfilled as well.
I want to wrap up by asking you about and I’m guessing it’s kind of Kiss The Ground, your charity, but what’s your big goal, your mission moving forward and how people listening learn more or get involved?
Ryland: Amazing. Yeah. So, the thing that I’m most lit up about is changing and this is a big foolish project which is changing or transforming the paradigm of existence on planet Earth to a relationship that human beings have a regenerative relationship with the living world. So, the mission of my organization the goal is that humanity is living regeneratively in relationship to nature, and in relationship to the living world.
Hal: So, you’re on a mission to save the planet. No big deal.
Ryland: Yeah. And again, save the planet. Again, I know that can sound very kind of pious like high and mighty and I’m here to save your planet, but really the thing that lights me up the most is that when we think about what are we doing here on planet earth like what are we here for and what is our responsibility to the earth? And what’s our responsibility and what is our relationship of reciprocity with the natural world that gives us everything, gives us the condition the environment for life, and this is I wish I was just here like, yeah, I’m just trying to get people stop using plastic straws like I know that that’s a token win for a much bigger conversation and a much bigger commitment which is I want human beings to know themselves as an integral, important part of this living world and that we’re not just important for each other. We’re important for the whole biosphere.
We’re important for the microorganisms in the soil, for the hummingbirds, for the trees, for the atmosphere, for the rain that we, that my biggest commitment in my lifetime is that human beings we have a shift in consciousness, and our relationship to intervene and interconnection and that we are actively shaping and designing our lives, our businesses, the architecture of our civilization around how do we have a relationship of reciprocity with the living world and how can we actually have nature be even more abundant, more alive based on our participation. So, the mission of our organization, our my mission is to inspire global or actually inspire participation in global regeneration starting with soil.
Hal: I’m on board. You know that. I got your back. I love what you’re doing and for people to learn more, to donate, to support the cause, is it KissTheGround.com?
Ryland: Yeah. Absolutely. So, KissTheGround.com is the best resource center for how to get involved in being part of the regeneration movement, which really at this moment in time sustainability is the wrong goal because to sustain a living planet that’s in decline and with a lot of living systems that are some say that we’re heading into a sixth great extinction, we need to actually participate in the regeneration of our living world. And so, KissTheGround.com, @KissTheGround Instagram, but we have an advocacy training if you want to become an advocate for soil and regenerative agriculture as a solution to the regeneration of our planet and healing our food system. We train 1,000 people over the last eight months. We have a soil story curriculum for sixth-grade students so if you work in schools, we’d love to give you a free curriculum if you can bring them into your schools. It’s amazing. We also have a farmland scholarship program where we pay for farmers to be able to transition to regenerative practices of agriculture. So, that’s something you can apply for on the website and then we also create really inspiring transformational media that shows this paradigm-shifting a way that humans and animals and agriculture can not only sustain life on planet earth but how can we regenerate it and heal the damage that we’ve done.
Hal: Awesome. Ryland, well, again I thank you for the work that you’re doing. Really, it means a lot to me.
Ryland: Thank you. Yeah. Hal, I just want to acknowledge you for the exuberance and the joy and the radical authenticity and just that you throw in yourself into life playing full out banking on gratitude, banking on being the source of your own experience and that you continue to be, you continue to experience the benefit of that and sharing that value with other people and how many people you’ve made a difference in their lives. I just want to just praise and sing and personally, I walk into the restaurant one day, saw you there. I told you about Kiss The Ground. You said, “I have $5,000. I want to give you for your program,” and within 30 seconds you just expressed generosity knowing that you can’t outgive the abundance of your lives. When you on faith you just give and you are willing to receive, I just see that you’re such a role model of going banking and double downing on faith and generosity and kindness and that faith and generosity and kindness and abundance has come back to your life and I just want to acknowledge that extraordinary example that you are in the world for so many people so thank you.
Hal: You’re welcome and I receive that and thank you. That may have been one of the most well-articulated acknowledgment I’ve ever received. You mentioned that you do it earlier and you walk your talk, brother, so I appreciate you, appreciate what you’re doing. I’m really grateful for our conversation today and for everybody listening, goal achievers, I hope you got as much value and gratitude, value in the form of gratitude as I did out of today’s conversation with Ryland.
Ryland: Yeah. And I’ll just end with, yeah, my goal is to live a grateful life every day and my goal is to create environments and content and communication that awakens and inspires more gratitude in the world and with humanity.
Hal: Awesome, brother. Well, thank you. And goal achievers, I hope you will take that spirit of gratitude that Ryland lives his life with and I aspire to live my life with and that you will integrate more gratitude into your life and realize that you already have everything that you need to be the most fulfilled and the happiest that you could ever be. It’s a matter of what you focus on and what you experience for yourself so I love you, I appreciate you, and I will talk to you next week everybody. Take care.
"The quality and the experience of fulfillment in my life does not come from myself. It literally comes from where is my attention in this moment."
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