Yep, that is correct. I have three steps to happiness and I’m going to give them to you right now.: . I’m not the smartest guy in the world (#notadoctor) and I’m halfway kidding when I try to simplify success and happiness in life like this, but it’s actually extremely effective if you follow these three steps. It sounds too easy to really matter, but even though these steps seem small each step can feel like an insurmountable mountain for anyone who is struggling to get his or her life back together.

  1. SLEEP

What happens to the human body when we don’t sleep for a prolonged period of time? I can speak from my own experience from going through Recon Indoctrination Platoon (RIP) as I made my way into the Reconnaissance community. We were conducting our Patrol Phase in RIP. This is where you patrol every night conducting various Reconnaissance missions with your team. The “fun” part of this is that you don’t sleep at all that week. You plan during the day and execute very long and strenuous patrols at night conducting those missions. No big deal, right? After all, this is Force Recon training - time to man the F up! I’ll never forget my third night in my RIP Patrol phase. I was the Assistant Team Leader (ATL) on this patrol and it was about 2am as we were about halfway done with the mission when I started to hallucinate. Yep, I was straight up seeing shit in the woods that wasn’t there. I saw a Marine on all fours with Garfield sitting on his back licking his paws. Yep, Garfield the cat! A freaking cartoon character. I rubbed my eyes and that was the moment I knew I was just a little bit tired. With lack of sleep, you can expect to be tired during the day, experience a lack of energy, depression, anxiety, irritation, anger, and it will affect your performance at work or school. It basically will turn you into a grump on a short- term basis, but worse still is that it can have seriously negative effects on your mental health long-term. You will stop thinking clearly and could even start to get paranoid. I have met people who have been struggling with insomnia for years and have developed paranoid disorder because of that. After we at the Raider Project get them the help they need and they start to sleep for the first time in years, they become like new people.

In order to find happiness you need to build a sleep routine. You need to train your body to the fact that it is time to rest at a certain time every night.


After years of constant pains post military service and the realization that I had somehow gotten older, I finally arrived at a place where I was ready to get healthy. I had to get my testosterone in order, which I did. I had to start focusing on recovery mobility, how my body moved, and my flexibility. That is still something I struggle with today. The reason why I struggle is that I have gotten injured so many times and that hinders free movement in those areas of the body so they become tight and stiff. That ends up creating muscle pain and tightness. However, if we can get limber, more flexible and more mobile, our pain will significantly decrease. It was a big eye opener for me when it came to yoga. I had finally met some Marines that had adopted yoga as part of their recovery/practice and they had great results, not only with their physical joint pain and immobility but also their minds. Once I got my shit together I dropped down to a healthier weight. That made my mobility so much better. I was able to hike faster, rock climb better, surfing was easier and I could last longer in general. I just felt better all- around. You don’t have to be an athlete, like the next Olympian or CrossFit competitor.

You just need to be better than you were the day before and put the effort forth. That might mean just starting to walk 15 minutes a day, then 30 minutes a day, then make it an hour. Maybe work out for 30 minutes in a gym, three days a week. Just start somewhere!

3. FIND YOUR PASSION (Downsize if you need to)

Now, this is easier said than done and your passion could drastically change as you go through your life, but this step is the difference between you being happy and you being unsatisfied for the rest of your life. If you choose your passion correctly you will live a very happy and fulfilled life. Now, I might lose some of you here because we are going to discuss what you want to do versus what you need to do. What I needed to do was get a job to continue the quality of life and standard that my family had been used to all of those years before I transitioned out of the military. What I probably should have done was take off to Greece for 6 months, like the Wizard said, to figure my shit out. At this point you might say something like, “Nick, that’s just not a possibility for me.” Is it really not? Or is the problem that it just does not fit in your life’s current infrastructure. When we first look at the possibility of doing what we want versus what we are supposed to do, we try to fit our new life in with our old one. So you can’t do what you want because you have all these bills and responsibilities lingering from your old life. What about those two cars? Can you go down to one? Ali and I sold one of our vehicles, so I have a vehicle for myself and Ali to get around, and a vehicle for my oldest daughter to get to and from school, work and both parents’ homes. We make this work because we don’t need extra vehicles sitting in our driveway. What about that 2500 square foot home? Can you go down to a 1200 square foot home if your kids share a bedroom? You might be asking, “Why on earth would I do that?” What if I told you, you would actually be happier with less stuff and more freedom to do what you love? I know it’s a crazy thought and it takes huge, brass balls to drastically change your life like that. But what if I told you that that was the only thing standing in your way of reaching your dreams and truly being happy?
People watch YouTube videos of Miss Capra and me gallivanting around the country. But guess what we don’t spend money on - expensive handbags, name brand clothing, monstrous electronics, fancy dishes or new furniture. We have one normal-size TV that I’ve had for 10 years. We have had the same old furniture we bought at a garage sale years ago. Instead of spending our money eating lunch out every day, we prep food on the weekends and eat most of our meals at home. We don’t have weekends to ourselves. We work all the time. We have multiple streams of income to support our life. We manage properties, which means leaving to sort out missing keys in the middle of the night or cleaning up messes we didn’t make. The point is this: in order to live the life you’ve always wanted you must make sacrifices and sometimes give up convenience and comfort in exchange for adventures and new experiences. Maybe you don’t want to travel and that’s ok too. Your life will not look like mine and it shouldn’t. It should look like the life you always wanted.

There are plenty of ways to do what you love, but it may take you some creative maneuvering to seize those opportunities.

Read the rest in Excommunicated Warrior.

Excommunicated Warrior
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