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I Am December 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Life Balance.

Tom Shadyak, director of Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, and other films sustained a broken arm and a concussion in a biking accident in 2007.

Despondent over the side effects of the concussion, he thought about death and, from there, began to ask what he wanted to share with the world before he died.

From those questions, he chose his next project.

In I AM, Shadyac asks some of today’s most profound thinkers, two questions:

* What’s wrong with our world?
* What can we do about it?

Several interviews touched upon the view that excess consumption and consumerism is a form of mental illness resulting from social conditioning which values competition more than cooperation.

In order to simplify his life, Tom sold his 17,000 square foot mansion and moved to a mobile home park in Malibu.

He rides a bike to work.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Speaking of I Am ~> today I Am over at Lively Twist as part of Timi’s series Did We Do Any Learning [3].

You may also be interested in Learning [1] and/or Learning [2].


1. Silver in the Barn - December 7, 2014

Good morning! And what a nice thing to wake up to. I read the sample of the “Simplify” book you recommended last night. Seems to be in parallel somewhat with Shadyak’s realization. I was listening to some DNA expert the other day who said that science is discovering through more intense study of genetics that we really are all related. So have a good day, sis.

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

Hey Sis! Shadyak did reach similar conclusions to Elaine St. James (and Thoreau) ~> No matter what marketers tell us: Less is More (because happiness does not come from a store).

Once we get the central message of simplicity, we are no longer willing to spend money (we don’t have) to buy stuff (we don’t need) to impress “our distant relatives.”

2. katecrimmins - December 7, 2014

They have mobile home parks in Malibu? Book me one!

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

In a “Behind the Scenes” interview, Shadyak told no one to feel sorry for him since it was a wonderful community.

And that’s what he was looking for . . . community.

katecrimmins - December 7, 2014

and it’s in Malibu! That’s about all I could afford there.

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

And if you lived in Malibu . . . who knows who you’d bump into at Starbucks?!

3. NancyTex - December 7, 2014

Love this so much, NH. Perfect content for me to read and view today. Thank you.

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

Yay! After watching this, I’m tempted to move to a commune . . . or an ashram.

But BFF isn’t there yet, so we’ll probably stay put. 😛

NancyTex - December 7, 2014

Yep, same situation.

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

Best of luck as you move from where you are to where you want to be.

4. Don - December 7, 2014

Full of hope and light Nancy. The videos are so good. I found it quite interesting that in the first video, speaking about the profound connection we have with everything, there were religious images. Religion in my view has to some extent brought something of a connectedness, but it has done more to disconnect us from one another and even nature, than anything else. It’s kind of naturally separatist. I’m not denying that the same kind of thing doesn’t happen in secular societies, but it’s far more prevalent in religious ones.

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

I agree with you 100%, Don. In many ways, religion has done us more harm than good ~ instead of honoring the turning of the wheel and the cycle of the seasons and our own inner voice, our faces are raised to the propaganda from the pulpit.

5. Grannymar - December 7, 2014

Nancy, one sentence said it all: Less is More (because happiness does not come from a store).!

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

“Less is More” is one of my daily mantras ~ it applies to almost everything due to “diminishing marginal utility.” We always get the most bang for our buck with the “first bite.”

6. Cecelia Futch - December 7, 2014

Another great post. Less is more. Simple is beautiful. Still on the journey toward self actualization. Not found in a store or “consumed”, rather it tends to be intricately tied to connecting–with each other, with nature, with spirit. . .

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

Well put, Cecelia. Once we stop looking “out there” for happiness, it surfaces of its own accord.

7. Jill Weatherholt - December 7, 2014

This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you, Nancy!

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

Yay! Glad it resonated, Jill. I enjoyed the message Shadyak decided to share after staring death in the face.

8. diannegray - December 7, 2014

It’s pretty sad that we need a near death experience to understand life – but it’s amazing how often it happens. There’s been no NDE’s for me, but I really appreciate every second of every day. I’ve seen bits of this film, but not the whole thing yet . Imagine how different (and enlightened) the world would be if we had more film directors who had messages to share like Shadyak.

nrhatch - December 7, 2014

It’s a good message and it’s not overdone in the film ~ no beating viewers upside the head.

In his case, he didn’t so much have a NDE as he just wanted to die ~ he was in pain, had vision problems, and didn’t enjoy any quality of life. When he thought about ending it all, he started thinking about what he wanted to say first. Hence, the film.

And, guess what? Once he got passionate about making the film, the pain went away, his vision cleared, and his quality of life rebounded.

Me thinks the Universe wanted to get his attention.

diannegray - December 7, 2014

The Universe is great like that 😉

nrhatch - December 7, 2014


9. jannatwrites - December 7, 2014

What a great message to share! And good for him for walking the walk – shedding excess to find his way in life. There is so much freedom in not having debt (or tripping over ‘stuff’ we don’t need.)

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

Freedom is right! As we began simplifying our life in 1997, I found it liberating to crawl out from under the weight of society’s obsession with “Buy Bigger. Buy Better. Buy More.”

Now we are MORE happy with LESS stuff to worry about.

10. Three Well Beings - December 8, 2014

Nancy, I loved Tom’s message so much I bought the DVD…I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. I think it’s amazing. I also bought his book…I am so glad you shared about “I Am” and I hope more people will see it. I really found it inspirational!

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

Yes! On the path of Voluntary Simplicity, he’s found he’s happier with less ~> that Less is More. We found the same to be true after reading “Simplify Your Life” by Elaine St. James. His philosophy also ties in well with The Story of STUFF. As well as with Thoreau’s “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”

Glad you shared his message with so many, Debra. It’s a good message to share.


11. livelytwist - December 8, 2014

Interesting. Some events make us ask big questions and change our lifestyle. I like the idea of simplifying life.

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

“I Am” touches upon the issue of choosing to enjoy less, more. For concrete steps you can take from where you are to where you want to be, I recommend Elaine St. James’ book Simplify Your Life:


12. William D'Andrea - December 8, 2014

If Consumerism was eliminated, the hundreds of millions (maybe billions) of people, all over the world, who works manufacturing and selling the goods which are being sold, would be unemployed and homeless. In Third World Countries, many would be starving to death.

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

Just one more example of where we part ways, William.

“When companies create jobs in poor countries, they often force workers to endure sweatshop conditions ~ unsafe work environments, forced overtime, and pitiful wages. A US Department of Labor investigation found that workers in an American Samoa factory were often beaten, deprived of food, and forced to work without pay ~ a modern form of slavery. The factory sold its clothing to J.C.Penney’s, Kohls, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart.”

To read more and get the REAL STORY: https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/the-better-world-handbook/

13. William D'Andrea - December 8, 2014

Then what is obviously needed in poor countries, is for working conditions to be improved, until they reach the same level as we have here in the US. When our immigrant ancestors arrived here, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they faced the same working conditions that are described by you and the article; which means they don’t have to stay that way for anyone anywhere.
What needs to be done is increase the wages of the workers, until they can afford to purchase the items they build or sell. That is the true goal of consumerism; prosperity for everyone.

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

If manufacturers stopped exploiting 3rd world labor and paid workers a living wage ~> the cost of goods would rise ~> forcing Wal-Mart to go out of business.

Hey! A Win-Win! Sign me up!

William D'Andrea - December 11, 2014

If the wage increases are granted gradually, over a considerable amount of time, like happened here in the US, that shouldn’t be a problem.
While we suffered from mass impoverishment, during the depression of the 1930’s, but the 1960’s we’d become an “Affluent Society”. There’s no reason it can’t done in many other countries, in much less time.

nrhatch - December 11, 2014

Great! Then we can Trash the Planet at an ever increasing rate!

William D'Andrea - December 11, 2014

On this Planet, with a population of over 7 billion, no matter what the Leaders decide, things can’t help getting worse. Instead of Activists, Business Leaders, and Government Officials fighting with each other; they should actually try working together, to see what they can figure out, to limit the harm as much as possible.

nrhatch - December 11, 2014

So, in other words, we are SCREWED!!! :mrgreen:

Which brings me back to the point I raised in the post that you are so determined to refute:

“[E]xcess consumption and consumerism is a form of mental illness resulting from social conditioning which values competition more than cooperation.”

14. Yolanda M. - December 8, 2014

Can’t wait to watch this one Nancy! Thank you for this. There is a lot wrong with the world (for several decades now) and we need more people speaking up about and showing us new ways of ‘being’ and behaving. I made a choice several years ago to walk or bus to work and I can tell you it did not go down well with certain so-called friends and acquaintances of ours who insist on projecting a certain level of success. Sad how so many of us choose to measure success.

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

Yes, very sad! And good for you!

I faced similar resistance when I decided to leave the practice of law. And when I decided not to have kids. And when I decided to cancel the newspaper. And when I decided not to “go all out” for Christmas. And when I . . . well, you get the idea.

Anytime we reject the “status quo” someone feels that they should be able to veto our decision. I disagree. The only one who gets a vote on how I live my life is ME! (And BFF if he behaves).

To me the best measure of success is Inner Peace and Happiness. All else is illusion.

Yolanda M. - December 8, 2014

so true Nancy 🙂 Well done for sticking to your principles and living from your heart!

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

thanks! It’s so much easier than listening to the cacophony of other voices (with all the attendant pushing and pulling to get us to “stay in line”). 😎

15. ericjbaker - December 8, 2014

So true. It’s all about who has better stuff, not how meaningful our lives are. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap to have a meaningful life anymore either!

nrhatch - December 8, 2014

In the film, Shadyak walks through his previous home ~ 17,000 square feet that felt empty and devoid of meaning, despite the matching columns and pillars standing guard in the front hall.

16. joannevalentinesimson - December 9, 2014

Fantastic! Thanks.

nrhatch - December 9, 2014

When we’re content with who we are, we stop needing to spend money, time, and energy to impress “them.”

17. Tokeloshe - December 9, 2014

We watched this documentary on Netflix.

nrhatch - December 9, 2014

Isn’t Netflix great? So many types of movies ~ from movies to make us laugh to those that make us think.

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