In this lively and passionate episode, you'll hear Justin's real-life text bombs on:
Guest Bio: Described by those who know him as: creative, quick-witted, a character, good-hearted, layered, eclectic, wide-ranging, "duality of man", exuberant, edgy, counter-culture, uniquely mustachioed, a metaphysical anomaly, bro, hysterical, enterprising, amicable, all-around-good-time
Mentioned in this Episode
In this lively and passionate episode, you'll hear Justin's real-life text bombs on:
Guest Bio: Described by those who know him as: creative, quick-witted, a character, good-hearted, layered, eclectic, wide-ranging, "duality of man", exuberant, edgy, counter-culture, uniquely mustachioed, a metaphysical anomaly, bro, hysterical, enterprising, amicable, all-around-good-time
Mentioned in this Episode
Bagel: [00:00:00] Hey, it's Bagel. Thanks for checking out this episode of LYV with special guest Justin Bernardo. In part one of this two part episode, we get deep and existential as we explore what it means to live your life through the eyes of the first and third person. Throughout this episode, you'll pick up on the main themes looking at your life through both the microscope and the telescope and how to harness the power of the yin and the yang. Justin beautifully weaves in examples of his personal life, along with stories about famous rock and blues musicians to illustrate these themes and the values he lives by there's even a great discussion on how chasing other people's dreams never really adds up to your own success. As well as a debate on whether altruism in its purest form really exists. Described by those who know him as creative, quick-witted, a character, good hearted, layered, eclectic wide ranging, "duality of man", exuberant, edgy, counter-culture, uniquely mustachioed, a metaphysical anomaly, bro, hysterical, enterprising, amicable, and all around good time. I can't wait for you to meet my friend and a truly incredible dude.
Justin Bennardo. Here it is, part one episode 13 of the Live Your Values podcast.
Bagel: [00:01:20] Alright. So we are here with my man, Justin Bennardo. By the way.
Justin: [00:01:27] Hey Bagel.
Bagel: [00:01:29] Hey, it's great to see you, man. I'm glad we can. I'm glad we can actually see each other, even if it's over the internet, and be able to hang out and do a podcast together.
Justin: [00:01:39] Yes, it is very important. I've been speaking to you for a long time and I feel like a lot of our conversations have been building towards what we're going to talk to today and I couldn't be more excited.
Bagel: [00:01:51] You had some emphatic feedback as soon as we launched the podcast and I got a famous Justin text bomb with lots of great thoughts. And you said something along the lines of that this helped you kind of reconsider your own value. Which I think is awesome. And obviously the whole goal of this whole thing. So, needless to say, I've been very excited to get you on and hear what you have to say, what you have to contribute for our audience.
Justin: [00:02:18] Hey, thank you very much. I will tell you that knowing that I was going to be on the podcast has really helped me to solidify some of my views. And to really draw upon, you know, the values that I believe I am living when I feel like I'm living most successfully in living my most authentic self. You know, I may not have otherwise taken the time to really put the pen to paper and draw upon exactly, you know, what I believe in. So I thank you for the opportunity.
Bagel: [00:02:46] Yeah, man, of course. That's awesome. I think it's so easy to just kind of go and live our lives every day, especially right now with just how monotonous and routine I think things can feel with the current environment that we're in. I know I'm saying this a lot on probably every episode, but still smack in the middle of this, this whole pandemic thing.
So the fact that you feel like you can actually stop and reflect a little bit and like, actually think about like, okay, here's some of the stuff that matters. How can I, how can I still incorporate this into my life? How can I still stay true to myself? And, and what matters the most to me, I think is really great.
And I'm excited to get into it with you before we get too deep in to any of this stuff. How have you been, how have you been in 2020? What's going on over there, up on the Island.
Justin: [00:03:32] So. Let me put a little context where you, so we have a work call once a week. It's supposed to be a happy hour call. I work in, I work in finance. I worked for a big corporation, you know, with our team, we have our weekly zoom meeting and I like to call it the unhappy hour. Cause every week, you know, everyone's talking about how they're struggling through quarantine, you know, it's this tough time.
And, and I'm appreciative of that. But I'll be honest, since quarantine I've been living like probably the best life I've lived like in the last couple of years. Because it has really allowed me to cut out, you know, except for the time that I spent at my computer working, it has allowed me to cut out all the other bullshit and all the other time, you know, I would otherwise spend doing the stuff that I don't really want to be doing.
You know, if I was going out to people I wasn't that excited to be going out to dinner with like, I'm not doing that anymore. I'm not spending time commuting to the city. I have a tremendous amount of time spent playing guitar or being in my garden and really being able to pursue the things that give my life meaning outside of working in that which is not preferable.
So I get on these calls like a jerk every week, and everyone's all, you know, is a little dour and a little like down about like working from home. And I don't have much to be sad about. Because I'm fucking loving it.
Bagel: [00:04:54] Yeah, you're living your best life.
Justin: [00:04:56] So, I mean, it's all in context, man. Like I don't have anyone that's sick. I haven't been sick myself, for the people that are not out of work. You know, those are major factors that are coloring other people's lives right now. And I'm enormously appreciative of that. But just generally, this has been a time in which I've been able to zoom out of the life that I was living and place myself more into the life that I would be living otherwise.
Bagel: [00:05:24] That's awesome. I wanna, I wanna, I'm probably going to have an overlay or this might be the quickest I'll ever have an overlay in an episode, but maybe I can actually just talk through it right now because it's so huge what you just said. Which is, there are so many ways, and this is not judgment on anyone out there, right? We're all navigating this thing. This is crazy, crazy time. And of course you said sensitive to anyone who's suffering health wise and job wise and all that kind of stuff. And we hope, you know, those people can kind of get what they need quickly. But like, you know, for those who are just kind of, sort of muddling their way through, through all of this, it's like you have choices, right?
Like we can kind of get stuck in this, like. Oh man, like this is just exhausting and tiresome and I feel isolated and I can't do anything that I want to do. And you sort of get stuck in this rut, which I will admit I've been in at times up and down.
Justin: [00:06:14] As have I, I mean, it's natural. I mean, it happens. I mean, I don't want to paint this picture that like every day for me is the best.
Bagel: [00:06:20] No, for sure. And, but I love what you said and I think it's a great reminder that we do have like this agency where we could say to ourselves. This could be a time where that we could use, like. When else do we have excuse to just not see anyone? Like this is our time. We have time for ourselves, maybe you're home or the partner, right?
You can, you can actually focus on what matters to you the most. The cure is, like literally life at your fingertips. If you have a 40 hour a week job or so you can buckle down and do that job for those eight hours a day. And then you literally turned the computer off and then you have your choice of what you want to do.
And I just think that's amazing that like, you're actually thinking like, what, how do I want to be spending this time? And you're just like, yeah, man, I'm doing what I want right now.
Justin: [00:07:05] It kind of gets back into this, like, you know we're gonna touch upon it later. But like this idea of the first and the third, it's this like healthy detachment. The Buddhists believe in this, like there's a certain amount of healthy detachment that's required and able for you to get the most out of your life in the present.
So it's this, this tie between, you know, your everyday life and the emotions and the feelings that you are embodying versus like your place in things. And like, if you look at it, you know, if you get too wrapped up in quarantine as like what it is doing for you in this like oppressive state, it can be oppressive.
But if you look at it as an opportunity, because it truly is, to cut out the things which are not essential to your life. Or cut out the things that are not essential to where you want to be in personal development. And then, you know, it is truly a gift I've, you know, I've always wanted to play guitar in my life. I've never spent more time playing guitar than the last like six months because I have the time to play guitar and to think about that.
Bagel: [00:08:11] That's so cool.
Justin: [00:08:11] And that's important. And, and you know, that that is something that. You know, maybe I'm someone that, that tends to have more hobbies than other people. Maybe I'm someone that tends to be like more wrapped up in my hobbies than other people.
So my perspective might be different. But you know, like think about all the things you'd like to say. Like, you know, Oh, I would do X if I wasn't didn't spend so much time working. Oh, I'd lose weight. Or, Oh, I would, you know, learn how to play an instrument or a lower letter, how to speak Chinese or like, you know, whatever, you know, you have, and you can literally do that if you really want to. And if you're motivated enough and anything outside of that is really just excuses.
Bagel: [00:08:46] Yeah, I think, I think that's really well said. Those like you're, you're, we're paring it down. We're seeing like, now you actually have the time to do all those things you said you wanted to do. So what are you actually doing? And again, it's not judgment. Like if you're going through this time and you're not able to, like, you don't have that energy. Maybe you're feeling some depression, isolation or stuff like that. Sure. the help that you need. But if you feel motivated and you're just kind of like, this is the time where I could choose to do those things that I've been thinking about. Like, what is getting in the way of you actually doing those things at this point when you have the time. I'm hoping, like what you're saying, I'm hoping that people are feeling like things are being a little bit more clarified for them and they can actually see what are the things that I actually care about the most? What are the things that I'm flocking to after work? When I have that time to myself, when I have that extra time on the weekends? When I don't have to run around and see people. What are you naturally finding yourself like flocking to and wanting to do?
That's a pretty good sign of like, maybe that's what you want to be spending your time on right now. Prioritization. Right?
Whether you're listening to this during the pandemic or at any other point in your life, this is a great question to ask yourself. What do you want to spend your time on? Allow yourself to brainstorm without limitations? Think of all the things that would bring you joy or fulfillment. Write them down, pick one. Even better, write down the reasons you might prevent yourself from pursuing that one thing and address them ahead of time.
Justin: [00:10:20] Yeah. And I think a lot of it comes down to too is, you know, there are a lot of people that their job is their passion and they live their passion. And like, maybe this is the time that is away from their passion and maybe that's difficult. For me, my job as a means to what I do after work. So I'm able to dedicate myself to those times after work. You know, someone like my fiance, who is a special education teacher and her job is her life. It is what she has felt like she's always meant to do. This is a time apart from that. And I, and you know, I can see how that would be difficult to navigate because you are losing a part of your not only your, you know, how you define yourself, but a part of truly who you are by being, you know, home all the time.
But, you know, outside of that, you know, it's an opportunity. No one ever that I can remember has had a chance, like, you know, if you want to just do something, you can do it outside of like, you know, your own feelings.
Bagel: [00:11:10] That's a great way to look at it. It's like, here's, this is the time to kind of, to pursue and to, to really take advantage. So.
Justin: [00:11:17] And, and that's just, you know, where I'm at. You know, either mentally or having my needs met, like. You know, I don't put that on anybody else and I don't expect anybody else to look at it the same way. But you know, it might be worthwhile to think of things in that perspective, if you know, otherwise you're okay.
Bagel: [00:11:35] So real quick, before we get into the values. I'm just curious, one of the hobbies you mentioned was gardening. I know you've been sending me a couple of pictures here and there with that. I I'm flashing back to when I was in grad school, we
Justin: [00:11:46] We made your lawn, tried to make your lawn.
Bagel: [00:11:49] Plant seeds in my lawn and get the grass to grow. And that was a cluster of disaster. How long has Justin been interested for real in gardening and what are you growing right now in the garden?
Justin: [00:12:02] So right now I have, four different types of chili peppers. I have Cayennes. I have tabasco peppers. I have jalapeno peppers and I have scorpion peppers. I have six tomato plants, all of which are different heirloom varieties. I have some sweet peppers. I have flowers, sunflowers and cosmos and zinnias and you know, all sorts of different stuff.
It's kind of been an evolution. It wasn't something that I've been doing for a tremendously long amount of time, but it's something that I find incredibly relaxing. So what I've been interested in recently is the idea of hobbies that continue forever. It's the idea of constant progress.
So like gardening is this cool thing because every year, every plant, every technique that you use is different and can be done in a completely different way. And there's, it's unlimited. There's no like right way to do things. I mean, there are requirements, but, you know, yeah. If you want to stake your tomato plants up and you want to, I grow them in like, you know, this amount of space and prune it this way.
That's cool. But then like, I've seen people that take those like Gatorade jugs that they have at football games and they grow the tomato plant out of, they suspend the Gatorade jug and they grow the tomato plant out of the bottom. Like so that it doesn't need to be staked. And like that there's all of these cool, like weird like things.
And like what I've been setting for myself recently is this idea that every garden season I'm going to like work on like one or two different things. So like my first year it was just like keeping the plants alive. And then it was like the next year it was like finding the plants that might work best for my yard.
And then it was like this most recent year. It was. You know, spacing, like where do I want to plant these plants so that when they're at their biggest, everyone is still getting enough sun and enough nutrients. And then, and then, you know, the other thing I worked on this year was fertilizing. Like, you know, what are the nutrients, the different plants need in order to grow big, you know? And it's like martial arts, I guess, is another similar pursuit where you can keep like reconsidering things. And then like, once you think you have your way of doing it down, you see the Gatorade jug with the tomato plant growing out of the bottom and it turns everything upside down.
Yeah. And I like the idea that it is time spent with just me and my plants. It's very solitary, but there is this like, output that comes as a result of your input. You know, the amount of tomatoes you get is directly proportional to the amount of time and consideration you put
Bagel: [00:14:40] Yeah.
Justin: [00:14:41] in into it. And then I also like the idea that it's a seasonal thing.
It's something that I can only do between like, you know, May and October. So October to the following May, it's all thinking about what I'm going to be doing next year. And like, there are already things that I have done that I'm going to change for next year and like ways that I already know I want to make things better.
And I think there's something to be said for that lag time, because you have to devote, you know, more thought into how you are going to be changing things. It's not this immediate gratification. And I think that's important.
Bagel: [00:15:18] Totally. I think they're called MOOCs, like those massive online open courses. It started a few years back when they started becoming really big, I took a class on the way we think and the way we learn. And I just remember there was this whole lesson about, it was called diffuse and focused thinking.
And it's this idea that like, you know, when we're in the trenches doing the activity that we're doing, like. We're very logical. We kind of figure out exactly what needs to do. We're very technical with our abilities, but the brain needs that diffuse thinking. Basically like how our best ideas come when we're in the shower, because we've actually let our brain stop thinking and stop focusing on the thing in front of us, we let it go.
And then the brain has these connections that they start to wire that actually starts to form this higher level of understanding of the thing that we were working on. And it sounds like that's important with things that are seasonal, like planting and gardening, right? Like we need that time to kind of lay off of it.
And all of a sudden we're making these connections about what we know and what we still, and where the gaps are, what we need to learn. So
Justin: [00:16:21] You're talking about living a first person life versus living a third person life.
Bagel: [00:16:25] Here we go. Talk about a segue.
Justin: [00:16:27] That’s what I'm saying.
Bagel: [00:16:28] I can't wait.
Justin: [00:16:29] It's looking at the telescope through a microscope and it's looking at a microscope through a telescope. That's the idea is that it's like, you know, you zoom out and you zoom in. And like, you know, it's like Google earth, man, but it's like Google earth, except you go from space to like inside of the earth, you know?
And there's just as much like emphasis to be put on both, but it's the yin and the yen. It's the idea that, you know, thinking of who you are is what gives you access to your place in the universe. And it's the idea of thinking of your place in the universe that it gives you access to who you are as you exist right now in this body, in this time. And, you know, and that's what it all means.
Bagel: [00:17:14] I love that. I love that. We just landed there by accident. Haphazardly.
Justin: [00:17:19] So it's this existential view. Existentialism is using really seen as this like absolutely morose, like, depressing idea. That like, you know, you don't matter that like time marches on, you're this like, you know, I like to say speck of dust in the hourglass of time. But the reality of it is, for me, that is the most comforting thing that exists. Because, you know, number one, like if I don't, if this all doesn't matter, like, you know, to the universe and I'm able to have as much agency and as much personal sovereignty as I really want to have. I have the ability to define my life, because when I die and I'm forgotten, it's sum zero. You know, whether I die with a million dollars or zero dollars, ten thousand years from now no one is going to know who I even was, let alone how much money I had. And like, and that's depressing because it makes you feel like, you know, what is my life? But it's also comforting because it makes you feel like, you know, this is my life. And like, and that's the idea. And you know, when you think about this, like first, you know, I like to say that living the first person life versus living the third person life. I once heard someone describe, and I can't remember who it was. And they said that everything that you do when you wake up throughout your day is to distract yourself from the fact that you are going to die one day. And to a certain extent, that's true. Because you know, your job, the money you make, you know, the sports you play, the music you listen to, like it is used to fill time. because it begins to consider what the end result of that is, you know.
Bagel: [00:19:11] It’s a morbid thought.
Justin: [00:19:12] Yes. And the problem is too, is you can't go too far one way or the other. To be, to be too much in the ego and to be too much in the first person. You are going to only be defining yourself by exactly what you were doing. And there will be no consideration for others. There will be no consideration for the greater ramifications of your actions.
To be living too much in the third person would be crippling. And you would have no reason to get out of bed in the morning. So it's this, yin in the yen, it is to not only, you know, to not only live with agency and to live with purpose. But it is also to understand that your agency and your purpose in the long run are only benefiting you. So that is the reason to have agency and purpose.
Bagel: [00:19:55] Hmm.
Justin: [00:19:55] And that's it.
Bagel: [00:19:57] I love the dichotomy that you presented us with those two extremes. And then also framed it as in like, well, if you lived on either one of those as extremes, it's too much to handle. But this sort of middle ground of understanding that yes, we have agency. And yes, we have a reason to live and there's things that we can do that are in our control and there's things that we can do to impact our own lives in a good or a bad way.
And also, if we're not aware of how we're affecting others than, you know, what's really the point of living. Right. Cause we're all kind of connected and there's this greater purpose or this greater kind of pull, I guess. Right. So it's like figuring out it feels like a continuum. I don't know if that's how you see it.
It feels like there's this, like the first person extreme and the third person extreme. And probably most of us are lying somewhere, somewhere in the middle of understanding that it's, we're not completely selfish yet we're not completely selfless. Right? Like we have understanding that we have to both take care of ourselves and take care of the world.
Justin: [00:21:02] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, and when we speak about my, you know, specific values, this will tie in a little bit more. But it's this idea of, you know, like one of my values is finality. It's this idea that like you are going to die. You're going to be forgotten most likely whether even if you're George Washington, there may have been a George Washington that existed 20,000 years ago, who civilization has come and gone.
And the people at the time thought that that person was the most important thing ever. And we have no idea who they are, let alone Justin Bennardo. Who's just some guy, you know, living his life, you know, gardening and playing guitar. But you know, again like that, but that's what makes it important. It's that you know, that this is all you can count on is your ability to, you know, move your own life forward.
The ability to impact other people's lives in a positive manner, and to leave the best ripple in the pond that comes from the time that you did exist.
There's a reason why the yin and the yen exists in philosophy. It's this idea that things must be in balance. You know, to go too far one way or the other is to do yourself a disservice and to not truly get the most out of what, you know, you have the potential to understand. And then, and at the end of the day too, as much time and energy you want to spend trying to understand this stuff... maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe the whole reason to try to understand it is just to be able to occupy your time and to give yourself meaning to get up every day.
Bagel: [00:22:39] No, I, I love this way of thinking and I think it's just like critical for us to think about like why we matter and what our sort of role is in the universe. So I think that that's obviously very existential, but I also love that we're talking about like, why do we wake up everyday and do the things that we do? Like, what is our real reason? And what are we telling ourselves as the reason?
Justin: [00:23:02] Well, I think, I think what's important, like more important than anything about like thinking about, what gets you up in the morning is like it's having a reason. It's not, it's not necessarily like I listen to a lot of Joe Rogan. And like, there are times when I listen to Joe Rogan and he's talking about like ripping kettlebells and then go and shoot an elk.
And like, and I feel like a jerk. Because I'm like, yeah, like I could be doing so much more, but like I'm out here gardening and playing guitar. But then like at the same time, it's like, that is what makes me happy. Like I don't have to be go out there, like traveling all over the country, but it's the consideration that like, could I be doing more?
Am I doing enough to make myself happy? Why am I doing what I'm doing? And even if what you're doing is, you know, like I was saying about work. Even if your work is a means to do your hobbies, as long as you take and you consider that and you can justify that and you can, you know, make it a reason then that's enough.
You don't have to be like working this job necessarily that makes you feel so fulfilled. And the actions that you're doing, I mean, as long as you don't like hate it, and it's not the worst thing in the world, but like, you know, as long as you have taken that time to consider, like, that is what is important.
Bagel: [00:24:10] Yeah. Cause that's the question I was going to ask is who's to decide what you should be doing right. I mean, I know, I know that's going to sound trite. Like I'm sure everyone listening is like, you, you decide. But truthfully like actually thinking about and reflecting, like who is deciding what you're doing and you're getting up to do every day.
Like, did you have, have a real decision and thought into that? Or are you being pressured in some other way, externally from someone else or some, whether it's family or society or whatever it is like to do the thing that you're in right now. Right. And so, and how much does that matter to you?
Are you okay with the fact that someone else is sort of dictating the way that you are going about things in your life? Or is it important for you to say I'm going to take control and I'm going to make these decisions for myself. And again, this isn't meant to judge anyone, but it's just meant to be a prompt for you to think.
Like how, where do you fall in terms of that and how much does that matter to you?
Justin: [00:25:10] Yeah. And that's really what it's about. It's just about taking that time to consider and to really put yourself under the the microscope and the telescope at the same time.
Bagel: [00:25:20] That's great imagery.
Justin: [00:25:21] I'm not someone that gets stressed generally. I'm not someone that is usually like a little bit more laid back. You know, I don't overly prepare for things, but I believe that there is an emphasis, you know, just you know, speaking in the first and the third person.
And if I feel like I have figured something out, I feel like there is a certain requirement for me to try to express the things that work for me to other people. So it's this like, there's a burden almost of, you know, this is what I believe in. I want you to at least hear what works for me so that you can either learn from me or not learn from me, but hear it and have it as possibility. This is this idea of like internalizing and externalizing, you know, for your own, you know, your own benefit, both ways. And for other people's benefit.
Bagel: [00:26:14] Why do you feel like you have that burden or that duty? And do you feel like everyone should. To kind of express that, like what they feel is important in their own life?
Justin: [00:26:24] Yes, I think everyone should. I mean, you know me, I will text bomb you the things that I enjoy and I will text bomb you the things I don't enjoy. And it's not really, it's not so much about like you being receptive to what I'm putting out there as much as it is like me vomiting it out to you. Because like whether I put it in the most digestible terms. And I think that's where some of my stress came from in preparing for this podcast. It is almost not as important as me, like getting it out there and like trying to like throw it to you and like, hopefully, you know, you can learn from it. And it is a burden because I feel like if I wasn't able to so clearly define the things that make me feel special and the things that I enjoy and the things that hopefully I can, you know, bring to other people. That like, you know, that I wouldn't be ready or able to share that with, with other people. But the fact that I can, I feel like it is important to do that. Because like, you know, I wasn't always like this.
There were times where I was wandering and, you know, in uncertainty. And there were times when, you know, I felt like I was lost and I wasn't tethered. I mean, you know, most of my life was spent like this clarity is a recent thing. And it is that, you know, if I can help one person, you know, feel more grounded then, you know, the time that I spent myself not feeling grounded was worth it.
And it's just like gift and a curse because it would be easier to just say like, you know, my life is X. I do X because of, you know, who I am and that's it. And I'm going to stay in my lane and I'm going to keep doing what works just for me. And, you know, I'm not going to try to share this with other people.
And, you know, I don't, I'm not really considering much outside of that. But I, you know, again, the yin and the yen. You can only truly live the life that is best for you by sharing it with other people.
Bagel: [00:28:27] So much to unpack here. Do you relate to Justin's sentiment? Do you feel like the challenges, maybe even the suffering that you incurred in your life can actually be used to benefit others? Do you naturally want to share your learning and insight? Or are you more comfortable giving your take privately? Or even maybe when someone asks for it?
Think about the lessons you learned from others and what they mean and meant to you. What choice do you have in making meaning of those hardships?
Bagel: Yeah. That's powerful, man. I'm almost getting the chills over here. Just what you just said. The fact that you have an understanding and an awareness that your own experiences and things that you've gone through might have, first of all, a reason right. Obviously nobody really wants to suffer or like go through hardships, but we do, we all do.
And the fact that it can come back and in some way be helpful to other people is a choice, right? That's the choice that you make. To say that out loud and say, this was hard for me. This sucked. And I can also use this experience to try to help others navigate through a similar circumstance or a similar challenge.
And I think that's a mindset thing, and I think that's an awareness thing. And I think that that's probably, being somewhat educated, whether it's about Buddhist culture, which I am not very educated about. Or whatever it is that you decided to sort of adhere to. But I think there's, there's a lot of layers there. I think that's really cool.
Justin: [00:30:14] So the point that you just made, this is where we're, we'll, we'll start talking about my more formal values.
Bagel: [00:30:16] Yeah.
Justin: [00:30:16] The point that you just made about the idea of succeeding, not in spite of the challenges that you have experienced in your life. But because of the challenges that you have experienced in your life. Is central to my beliefs as a person. And I like to deem this realization, I call it blues power. So I love blues music more than most things in my life.
The blues music to me has this like supernatural ability to transcend circumstance. To transcend, you know, hardship and to allow you to redefine yourself. Not in spite of what has held you back, but simply because of that.
So, you know, people like to think of the blues as this, like, sad. You know, downtrod, my woman left me, my dog died. Like, you know, I don't have a job.
Bagel: [00:31:23] Shit got bad,
Justin: [00:31:25] Shit's bad,
Bagel: [00:31:26] And we needed to talk about it.
Justin: [00:31:28] And I'm crying about it. It's not, shit's bad. Shit's bad. And I am, you know, wallowing. That's it - wallowing. But the reality is blues music is joyous music. Blues music is the music that says. Listen, I didn't come from much. My life has been hard. If I believe enough that the things that have defined me up until now, good or bad. If I believe that there is something to be gained from that, then everything is a positive experience because it is moving me forward.
It is allowing me to reflect on the things that put me where I am and allowing me to grow and learn from that. And that is the important part. It it's, it's not despite, but it is because there is a reason why you go through the hardships. Like, you know, growing up, I going to get too much into my family situation, but I didn't have the best, you know, the most stable home life.
I my dad wasn't really the best dude. And like, you know, for a long time I spent time trying to say, Oh, well, you know, if my dad was better, I would be here. Like, you know, Oh, you know, I'm a smart guy. If I had had more support, maybe I would've gone to a better school, maybe I'd have a better job at blah, blah, blah.
But the, the reality of it is if I didn't have a dad who was the way that he was, I wouldn't be the person that I am. And I think I'm fucking kick ass. Like, like, you know, and.
Bagel: [00:32:57] Just going to stop you and say, yes, you are.
Justin: [00:33:01] You know, like, and that's what, and that's, what's important. It's this idea that, that the outsiders, the people who have faced hardship are the ones that are able to redefine things. The people that are entrenched that are part of the establishment have no reason to try to, to come up with new things.
They have no reason to come up with, you know, outsider perspectives. And what's interesting is, if you look at art, if you look at culture, you know, these marginalized groups. African Americans or, you know, people of color or, you know, alternate sexualities or whatever are generally the ones that over time will redefine the, the status quo.
The status quo does not get redefined by the people that are bought into what is currently going on. So it's this idea that like, you know, these blues musicians who traveled from Mississippi in the 1930s to Chicago, you know, to redefine themselves. To get out of the Jim Crow South. You know, aren't crying about how hard they have it, but singing praises in spite of that and are able to redefine their own lives as these blues musicians. Instead of just being another poor person of color that is, you know, a lesson that everyone can take.
And it's just like we were discussing with quarantine earlier. It's are you able, you know. If you're able to get outside of yourself, is it a situation in which you are diverted from your normal activities in a good way or a bad way? I mean, are you like, you know, benefit because of quarantine? Or are you going to be held back as a result of it?
And if you're held back as a, as a result, is it, you know, because you have actual things going on, you're sick, you lost your job, whatever. Or was it only because you held yourself back because you had more time to do like, you know, whatever you had wanted to do.
Bagel: [00:34:57] This is powerful stuff. You're getting into this and I love it so much. And one of the things I'm thinking about in this powerful example that you just brought up with blue artists and sort of, thriving not in spite of but because of the hardships and the challenges. Is an incredibly powerful message. I know you have a quote. I think you're going to share it at some point with us.
And not that we're defining or stereotyping people, but there are people that go through these hardships in life and these challenges in life. And for whatever reason, are just seeing everything as a negative and are just sort of stuck.
And then there are, people who are able to power through and see things, maybe adapt their mindset a little bit and, and see things as opportunities and figure out how to take those hardships and turn them into positives. Where's that mindset difference. How does that, how does that happen for people?
Justin: [00:35:50] I think part of it. And I touched on this, like when I was discussing Joe Rogan and comparing, you know, myself to Joe Rogan and feeling inferior. Is this idea that, you know. First of all, it's important to recognize just because you're not a traditionally marginalized group doesn't mean that the problems that you have overcome in your life are any less meaningful than the problems that anyone else overcoming their life. You know, even if, even if you are like generally accepted, you have a good job.
You came from a good family. Everyone has struggles that they have to overcome and, and. You know, what is the sliding scale to say that the worst thing that you've ever dealt with is any different than the worst thing that anybody else has dealt with. So I think first,
Bagel: Who is to judge.
Justin: Yes. So I think first of all, it's acknowledging and giving yourself permission to gain that perspective.
I think that's important first. And then from there it really is just a decision. It's not, it's not something that won't happen without active participation. No, it is not something that's going to happen passively. At times it's difficult to, you know, appreciate, you know, you know, having a bad dad or having a bad family or, you know, whatever these like, you know, gigantic, things are. It's not an easy thing and it comes with that work. And, you know, that really like, it's easier to be pesimistic. And it's easier to say that, you know, the hardships that you've encountered are holding you down, it is harder to zoom out. And again, this is touching on the idea of the first and the third. It is easier to stay inside of your ego. It is easier to only see it through the lens of your own eyes and to see, you know, what has happened to you. It is harder to step outside of yourself and to see how those situations apply and how those truly make you, you know, who you are. It's a decision.
Bagel: [00:37:52] I couldn't agree more and I can't help but think about empathy here just a bit. And just, and this may be my own personal experience and some of the hardships I went through growing up. But I can't help, but think that the more that we're able to put ourselves in other people's shoes and step outside of our own circumstance. The more perspective we gain and the easier it is for us to understand that our shit isn't everything. Right.
It's like we have our problem. I, really quick, like example. I mean, it's probably not that specific, but I just remember. Similar to you, right? Like I'm not going to get into the whole family situation, but I had a tough childhood. My brother was sick for most of my growing up and family issues and challenges around that for most of my upbringing. And I just remember, you know, of course your brain develops, I think male's brains don't really fully developed until you're like 25 years old or something. Right. I just remember thinking like all throughout high school and probably even to my college years being like, I had such a unique challenge growing up and no one else knows what I experienced.
Right. Like I felt that way. Truly. Yeah. Honestly. And, and, and that's probably the
Justin: [00:39:05] Oh, it's absolutely true. Yeah, exactly.
Bagel: [00:39:07] No one has my exact experience, but I think what I was neglecting to understand at the time, and to have a better perspective on now is that other people had experiences that are just as hard in their eyes.
And I didn't grasp that. I thought I was special. I thought, Oh, like no one could get this. And no one maybe understood the exact thing I was going through. But there were certainly many other people, maybe yourself included who had their own stuff that they had to deal with and figure out and work through. When my brother was in the hospital growing up, when I was in Philadelphia, we were staying at the Ronald McDonald house for most of the time there. I remember meeting other kids whose siblings were also sick at the children's hospital.
And I remember certain situations where these kids like had far less than my family had, or, you know, were worried about how to have enough food on the table at their actual home. And, and, or their families were much more ripped apart than mine was. Right. And so all of these things you sort of by comparison, you've, you know, sort of what we naturally do as human beings. I started to realize like, Oh, I guess, you know, this isn't that bad. I have parents who love me and support me and you know, we're going to work through this together, whatever the case was.
And so just that perspective, I think that other people have challenges as well is important to understand. And putting yourself in those other people's shoes and having empathy for what other people are going through helps you, I think, step outside of the first person and into that third person perspective. To see things a little bit more objectively, and to understand that it's not just about you, that there's, there's other things going on.
Justin: [00:40:44] And then it feeds back into the first person because by having empathy for other people, you're then able to have empathy for yourself. I think what a lot of people struggle with is it's easier to be nice to other people than it is to be nice to yourself.
And that's something I struggle with and that, you know, that's something that I think a lot of people generally struggle with. But the idea is that by having empathy for other people, you then have to be able to turn that inward as well. I heard this really interesting thing and they were talking about how people that read fiction are generally more empathetic people.
And the idea is that by putting yourself in somebody else's shoes, you are able to understand other people's situations. But again, the decision then becomes, the burden becomes to take that perspective that you have learned on how to treat other people and to turn it inward. And to turn it to yourself and to treat yourself with the same empathy and understanding that you would treat somebody else with. And that's it. And you know, it's easy if someone came to you and said, I'm hurting, I'm having a hard time. I'm struggling with this. It's much more difficult than when you have those same feelings and you tell yourself, you just need to gut it out. You just need to work harder. You're just not applying yourself.
What in the reality of it is like, you should hold yourself accountable, but you should also have empathy for yourself and you should be able to grow from those experiences.
Bagel: [00:42:16] Man, powerful stuff.
Let's talk about Justin's values, the things that you live by. I know you have a sort of a slightly different take on how you're approaching this than maybe some of our other guests, but walk us through now that you sort of introduced this idea of the first and third person and kind of that as a foundation to maybe how you see the world. Tell us a little bit about what matters the most to you and what you try to live by every day.
Justin: [00:42:41] So I would, my values are appreciation and gratitude, transparency and honesty, Blues power, which you've already touched on a bit, and the idea of finality. I'll go into them all a little bit more. So the idea of appreciation and gratitude is something I've been thinking about a lot recently, and I want to frame it in this context. Do you, and I'm just going to pose this to your listeners and yourself, Mike Bagel. Do you believe altruism exists? Is it possible to do something, solely to be good to somebody else without reaping any benefits of it yourself? So the way this plays into the idea of gratitude and appreciation is gratitude is the first person. Gratitude is the internal feeling that I am grateful for my scenario. I am grateful for my health. I'm grateful to exist. I'm grateful to have the means to live my life. I'm even grateful for my struggles. But that is a first person internalized feeling. Appreciation is important because appreciation is the third person. Appreciation is this idea that you are taking the internal gratitude that you feel and externalizing it to somebody else. And instead of just saying, I am so happy to be friends with Mike Bagel because he has made my life better in X ways. And I'm able to, you know, to grow as a result of our relationship. But to say back to him, "Hey Mike Bagel, thanks man. I love you. I wouldn't be the person I am without you." And that's important because it not only allows me to feel good about from what I have gained of our relationship, but to reflect that back to you and to let you know that, you know, I feel good. And to make you feel good as well. And where this idea of altruism comes into play is that in some ways that appreciation is a selfish act.
It is a self, because you are going, I am going to reap the benefits of you feeling happy that I love you. And that I appreciate you. And head off any potential ill feelings.
And, you know, I've really been doing that a lot of reflecting on my life. And, you know, I think it was a result of the, you know, my childhood and my experiences and whatever. You know, I've always been a nice person. I've always been someone that I would say I get along with, you know, a greater majority of people than I don't get along with. But was that really to other people's benefits or was that to my own benefit?
Was I trying to head you off at the pass and to say, I don't want to be hurt by you. So I'm going to make sure that you are my friend and you are going to be my friend, because I'm going to make you feel like my friend.
Bagel: [00:45:35] Yeah. Yup.
Justin: [00:45:36] Then are you going to treat me like your friend because of the way that I'm treating you. And it's important to consider that dichotomy between the two and I believe it's important to have both. And, but it's, it's to really know, like. You know, are you able to truly do something for somebody else's benefit or are you always going to, even if it's you reaping the internal benefit of feeling good that you did something for somebody else. That is still a selfish pursuit on some level.
Bagel: [00:46:05] I'm so glad that you brought this up and it is so well-stated in the way that you presented that with the first and third person aspects of a similar concept right. Of gratitude and appreciation. I would love to hear what our audience thinks and what they're thinking about and what they're sort of emotional responses. And also just like if they have any, any combating thoughts to. Like for me, what's coming up immediately. First of all, connecting to what you're saying. It's resonating with me a thousand percent. The fact that I think you and I may be are similar in that regard. Maybe for a lot of our younger lives. Like I felt the same way a lot of the time. And I'm realizing that now, where I've gone out of my way so much to just try to get people to be my friend. And to get people to like who I am. And I could admit that even if it's a little hard to admit, and I wonder how much of that was self serving. Like right up until today, how much of that is just so that I don't have to ever feel like someone doesn't like me, you know what I mean? So I don't have to deal with that rejection.
And it's like a defense mechanism.
Justin: [00:47:15] Best, the best defense is a good offense.
Bagel: [00:47:18] Yeah. Yeah, there you go. And so, and that's a tough thing to reconcile because I like to think of myself as a giving person. And someone who wants to treat others really well. I don't want to say better than I treat myself because that kind of goes along with what you're saying. Is that we should, we should also treat ourselves the way we like to treat other people. But that's a tough thing to reconcile. It's like, are we really doing those things that just serve ourselves? Or are we really doing those things because we actually truly care just about the welfare of the people around us. And I don't, I'm sure there's, there's probably podcasts and blogs and lots of resources around this very particular subject. And I, neither one of us are, you know, scientists or on that particular body of research, but we can kind of talk about it as normal people.
It's, it's a crazy thing. It's a crazy thing. And I don't think it has a very clear cut answer. It's a very, very interesting thing to think about and reflect on. I think, as a person.
Justin: [00:48:18] And again, you know, that idea of balance is important because it is important to do things for other people. And it is important to do things for yourself. And, you know, what you're doing is less important than the time you spend considering what you're doing and at least having a reason for it. And that's really what the emphasis and like, you know, if listeners don't take anything else from my talk, you know, if they don't even agree with what I'm saying. I think the most important point is the consideration, the end result and like how you choose to move forward is your decision.
But the fact that you have considered it against, you know, the, these other possibilities is the important part. Because then it's a conscious decision then it's not just like what you're doing, then it is. Then you have some idea of, you know, why you're doing it. And it's this, it's this balance. I mean, you know, there's people that, you know, run charities that maybe raise a bajillion dollars for some sort of, you know, disease or, or problem. But the reality of is really just to aggrandized themselves. And it's like, are you really trying to help whomever? And, and you know, is that any better than someone that's not doing anything for anybody and just like, you know, just live in their own life. And that's the consideration and that's what's important. It's all things balance. It's the yin and the yang doing for yourself and doing for others. It's being able to take the perspective and to be grateful and appreciative, but it's also the ability to reflect that back upon the people and the situations in which give you that insight into yourself.
Bagel: [00:49:52] Yeah. And it even seems like there there's, a balance in the end of the yang, like being there could be a win win here. Like maybe you do have a talent for being able to, like the example you use, to put on a fundraiser, that's going to help raise money for a cause and actually treat people and help people in a way.
And at the same time you feel passionate about it because you feel like it's aligning your purpose and your passion and your skills and your interests and all these things. And so therefore you're more motivated to do it and it, and it's really, actually, truly helping people. I think that's where a lot of us want to be.
Right. It's like we want to do, we want to do something that, that, that we feel called to do. That we feel like purpose behind and feel passionate behind and if it's truly helping society or people directly. There's another feeling there as well, where we feel like we're doing something we care about and it's positively impacting other people. I don't want to speak for everybody in the world, but I think a lot of people would love to have a balance of those two things to feel fulfilled in life. And probably a lot of people who are listening to this podcast, I would imagine feel that they want to have a balance of those two things, because they're caring about living their values and doing something with meaning. So I love it.
Justin: [00:51:07] It may not necessarily be like, you know, that you're doing what you want, but that you're making yourself feel good. And that's okay. I don't want to like pose this like puritanical view. Because to do only for other people is just as bad as to do only for yourself. There is this balance that must exist in which doing for others makes you feel good and doing for yourself.
You know, it makes you know that... it's both. You should be able to enjoy doing the things that you like and to feel some success and to, you know, feel pride in yourself for doing the things that you've done. But, you know, simultaneously it is important to reflect that back on the people. You know, they got you where you are. So here's where this really comes from for me. So I'm gonna touch on my childhood again. So if my father's a doctor. My dad always had this narrative within himself. He was a big chip on your shoulder guy. His idea was that I came from nothing. I'm a doctor now. I have it all figured out.
You know, I brought myself up by my own bootstraps. And, you know, the only person I've ever had to rely on is me. So, you know, I am the be all and end all of my universe. And the reality of it is as much as you want to overcome bad situations, there are people that help you along the way. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, and to buy in so much to your own bullshit. To believe that it is just you is, is so far out of balance that you're not able to strike that yin and the yen between appreciation and gratitude. You're only feeling grateful for what you have done and for, I guess, where you have gotten yourself. But not appreciative of the people that have helped you get there. And no man is an Island. No, no one. And you're only able to build upon the lessons, you know, like I said, even in, you know, because of your difficulties, not in spite of them.
Bagel: [00:53:07] Yeah.
Justin: That's, what's important.
Do you generally feel the balance in your own life that Justin's referring to? How much of the time are you doing for others versus doing for yourself? Think about how this aligns with your own vision for your life. How important is it for you to pay it forward?
Bagel: I appreciate you sharing that story. There you go. Appreciation right there getting Metta. I I'm thinking about the current situation that we're in right now. And just like, how if now isn't teaching us how much we appreciate and rely on other people to kind of help fulfill us and fulfill our lives, I don't know when that would happen, right. I think now more than ever, we're understanding that yes, we can buckle down and you know, for those of us who are working, we can do our job. We can go about our day. We can do our fricking dishes and every day and do our laundry and like make our lives happen and keep it, keep our lives going on a day to day basis.
But. And then maybe in your case, you're, you're living your best life gardening and playing guitar. Right. And so you're having fun doing those things, but I'm sure there's also a sense of like wanting to still stay connected with people and be able to contribute to other people's lives and also like be supported.
Right. And so. I think now more than ever, I can see for myself and maybe other people can relate that it's like this feeling of yeah. Like without others around me to support me. And for me to feel like I can support there's this lack of fulfillment . This lack of connection and all this kind of stuff. That it's making you appreciate those people in your life that really matter to you even more, I think, right now when you're not really able to be around them as much.
Justin: [00:54:53] Absolutely. And even if you were appreciative of the things that you like. I am appreciative of the fact that I don't have anyone that's sick. I'm appreciative of the fact that I still have a job. And that's the only reason why I'm able to garden and play guitar. You know, without that I wouldn't be able to have the emphasis on the things that are, you know, that outside of work are important to me. And that's the balance. It's not just that I'm appreciative to garden and to play guitar, but I'm appreciative to be working and to be able to make my situation, you know, comfortable enough to be able to pursue my hobbies. And that, you know, that is the balance.
Bagel: [00:55:33] That's awesome.
Thanks for listening to part one of this episode with Justin Bennardo. In part two, we'll be digging even deeper into the rest of Justin's values and tying it all up with one final concept. Don't miss it, right here in the LYV feed next week.
If you like, what you heard, please hit subscribe in your podcast app so you get notified about all new episodes of the Live Your Values podcast with me, Bagel. Special, thanks to Emma Peck for logo design, Danielle Gelber for marketing strategy, and Rebecca Kittel and my team at Free Your Time Virtual Assistants for operation support.
Until next time, get out there and LYV!