“Sitting Under a Tree in a Pine Forest Is Happy Medicine.”

“Sitting Under a Tree in a Pine Forest Is Happy Medicine.”

Interview: John Jantsch.

John Jantsch is from Kansas City (just like me!—I used to see his office sign on my drive home from the airport) and is a marketing consultant, speaker, and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, SEO for Growth, and The Referral Engine.

His latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business, is a collection of daily meditations for entrepreneurs; by making ourselves better people, we'll be better at our business.

I couldn't wait to talk to John about happiness, habits, and productivity.

Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

John: Without a doubt, it’s getting outside and in nature—the deeper the better. Sitting under a tree in a pine forest is happy medicine and the physical sensation is immediate.

What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

I think the biggest thing is that not only can I follow my own path but that I must in order to be happy—even if the choices don’t make me happy today.

You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you—or your readers—most?

For my most recent book The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, I think I did more research than my other five books combined. The nature of the book required me to dig into a ton of mid-nineteenth-century American literature (you know the stuff like Thoreau and Poe and Alcott that were assigned in high school) and I became completely fascinated by how much of it—particularly the advice on how to live—could have been written today. More on that here if you’re interested: seflreliantentrepreneur.com.

Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

Survey says: Questioner.

Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? (e.g. travel, parties, email)

I do travel a lot and am a creature of routine so anything that knocks me off my normal routine comes with danger attached, but it also comes with the ability to establish new and better habits. When I travel to speak, for example, I’m much stricter with my eating, drinking, sleep, and info consumption in an effort to stay more focused and energized. I find that carries over a bit when I return to my office and home routine.

Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

I became a vegetarian fifteen years ago as a result of wanting to anyway, but then having a doctor tell me about all the drugs he wanted me to start taking. I said no thanks, became a vegetarian, lost 40 pounds, and never looked back. The doctor gave me the push that made it an important thing for me to do and of course now I have so many other compelling reasons that feel no interest at all in reverting.

Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”)

I picked this up reading a lot of Emerson of late: “Insist on yourself; never imitate.”

Has a book ever changed your life—if so, which one and why?

Kind of lame here, but Peter Drucker’s The Practice of Management. Before reading that book in the mid 1980s (it was written in the 50s) I had always thought of business as some big corporate stuffy thing, but here was this corporate management consultant talking about it in a beautiful, entrepreneurial way. It drove how I created and structured my business completely.

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