“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Today we are launching a new series about the pursuit of significance. We believe significance is a foundation of health and a key to overall happiness. The pursuit of significance gives life meaning, focus, and purpose.
For our first Something Significant post, I interviewed my partner and the founder of Happy Living, Matt Gersper. Connect with him on Twitter @mattgersper and keep an eye out for more posts from Matt here on Happy Living!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today?
I live on Lake Norman in Mooresville, North Carolina with my beautiful wife and our two daughters.
I graduated from the University of California – Davis where I studied Economics, ran track, and played football. I dedicated my first two years after college to becoming a professional athlete, only to come up short with the unique distinction of being cut from three different teams, in three different leagues: Canadian, USFL, and NFL.
Over the next 30 years, I focused on training myself to become a successful businessman. I was given many opportunities to learn and gain expertise in the various functions required to start, grow, and lead successful businesses.
I am shifting my focus from helping businesses to helping people. I want to be a part of improving the health and wellbeing of the world, one person at a time.
How has significance played a role in your journey?
It has literally changed my life. Shortly after the failure and finality of my first marriage in 2007, I became very focused on what I call the seven wonders of my life:
1. My one true love, 2. Family, 3. Friends, 4. Fitness (physical, mental, and spiritual), 5. Finance, 6. Adventure (being in nature), and 7. Business.
Focusing on what is truly significant has helped me prioritize my time and resources each day.
I believe that every person has a calling or a special gift. I think it’s in each of us to create a masterpiece from our special talent. On January 16, 2014, I had a very strong feeling “come over me” that Happy Living is to be the masterpiece of my life, my personal and unique gift to the world. Then and there, I decided to sell my previous company and dedicate my time and resources to researching and sharing best practices for happy living. I want to inspire others to believe that a better self is always possible – today, every day, for the rest of their lives.
Was there a specific moment or situation when you became aware of those things which are most significant to you?
There was an evening in the fall of 2007 when I realized that the only things that truly matter are those that are of significance.
I was sitting alone in my hot tub in Evergreen, Colorado when I had a burst of thought about my life — inspired by a book I read several years earlier, Good to Great by Jim Collins. I realized that up to that moment, my life had been a good one. But from that evening on, I was going to pay attention to what I was attracted to. I was going to become aware of what was truly important to me and build my life around those things. That evening was an inflection point. Going forward, I was dedicated to building a truly great life.
I can remember seeing several shooting stars that night. It was one of the most emotional and important evenings of my life.
Have you faced any obstacles in your pursuit of significance? How did you overcome them?
Yes, of course. Too many to mention here.
Life has taught me that “good times” and “bad times” are just labels we put on various conditions of our life. When I am enduring a “bad time” or struggling with a perceived obstacle, I remind myself that this too shall pass. I think back on previous “bad times” and realize I always came out on the other side, and I will this time too. Just keep working through it.
I once read that no storm in the history of the earth has ever lasted forever. Storms pass.
What is one thing you wish you knew 10 years ago?
10 years ago I wish I knew to let life come to me. Back then, I was pushing so hard to create the life I wanted that I missed much of the life I had created.
I read a story about Alexander the Great in a book by one of my favorite authors, Steven Pressfield. It expresses my answer more completely. The book is called The Warrior Ethos. Here’s the story:
Alexander in India encountered some gymnosophist (literally “naked wise men”) sitting in meditation in the sun on the banks of the Indus. Alexander’s party was trying to get through the busy street, but the yogis had their spot and they wouldn’t move. One of Alexander’s zealous young lieutenants took it upon himself to chase the holy men out of the king’s path. When one of the wise men resisted, the officer started verbally abusing him. Just then, Alexander came up. The lieutenant pointed to Alexander and said to the yogi, “This man has conquered the world! What have you accomplished?” The yogi looked up calmly and replied, “I have conquered the need to conquer the world.
Ten years ago I was so focused on trying to conquer the world. Now, I am trying to conquer my need to conquer the world.
There are also several books I wish I had read ten years ago:
- Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
- Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar by David Perlmutter, MD
- Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance by Bob P. Buford
- Die Broke: A Radical Four-Part Financial Plan by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne
- Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson
What is one hope, goal, or intention you have for the next 10 years?
Four hopes came quickly to my mind. I hope that’s OK.
When I look back 10 years from now, I hope that Happy Living has improved the health and wellness of at least one person, and hopefully many, many people around the world. I hope my beautiful wife and I remain madly in love with each other, and I hope we are enjoying our life together every day. I hope that my four children are happy, healthy, and doing their version of “good” in the world. And I hope to have spent enough time on the lake to gain a true mastery of boating, paddle boarding, and other water craft.
Image via Death to the Stock Photo
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