In this episode we talked to Serban Mare about how to find life fulfillment through finding your purpose and changing your mindset.
To learn more about Serban go to https://serbanmare.com/.
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David Enevoldsen: Hello, everybody, and welcome to yet another episode of the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I am your host, David Enevoldsen, and here on Emotional Embuffination we are training to become emotionally buff enough to overcome any conflict in life. And at the same time as we're doing that, we are trying to discover new levels of success and happiness and really maximize the experience of having all those positive emotions in life. In other words, trying to avoid feeling super negative all the time and feeling happy. This podcast is just one of a number of resources I have available. If you want to learn more about that, check out the Emotional Embuffination website, which is embuffination.com. All right. Today, my guest is Mr. Serban Mare, who is a professional speaker. He's a personal development expert and he knows a heck of a lot about shifting and controlling mindset and using that to find, I guess, happiness and fulfillment. Is that a fair description?
Serban Mare: You hit it right on the head. Yeah. Thanks for having me, David.
David Enevoldsen: Well, thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview today and being on. I very much appreciate your time. Maybe just as an intro to this, can you tell me a little bit about your background? Why, why are you talking about that? I mean, is there something that happened in your life or where did you come from that got you on this road?
Serban Mare: Oh, yeah. Yeah, for sure. You might, as I'm talking, you might recognize that I have a funny accent and it's not a Southern accent. You know, I came from Romania almost 17 years ago and with an idea of what the American dream is. And for more than ten years, I kept going at it, looking to achieve that American dream, which I did. In my mind was the American dream was, finish school, get a job, find a cushy job that provides a 401K, look to settle into a home, a family, and then go on vacations. And that was that was my plan. And that's what I did. And I thought that would the only thing that I needed to be happy and fulfilled. Which for a second there, yes, it did. But then as time went by and I just stayed in the status quo, I started feeling uneasy and just having some restlessness. And it was weird because everything was fine. I didn't have any problems. Work was fine. Home was fine. My wife and I were getting along well and everything, but there was nothing exciting, nothing that would make me jump out of bed. And that's where I fell into this limbo, where I felt just dissatisfied, you know, just would go to bed on a Sunday night and just felt uneasy about the coming week, not having anything to look forward to. And that's where I started asking myself, is there more that I can do with my life than this American dream that I thought I should be doing?
David Enevoldsen: Wow. Okay. I got to unpack some of that because there's a lot of really fascinating stuff there. So let me back up to, so you're in Romania. How old were you when you when you decided to come to the US?
Serban Mare: 23.
David Enevoldsen: 23. And how old are you now, if you don't mind my asking.
Serban Mare: I just hit 40.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. So it was a little while ago. What was that kind of a normal thing? Because that to me seems like in and of itself kind of a big deal, like making a decision to just drop everything from your home country and go to an entirely different country and start up chasing the American dream. What prompted you to that? Like, why not stay, stay back home? Why come here?
Serban Mare: Well, a lot of it had to do with many movies.
David Enevoldsen: Was it just the romanticization of U.S.?
Serban Mare: Yeah, That was, the I think when we're younger in our twenties, the main motivator and the driver that pushes us is to make money. And the situation back home during that time was not that great. You you only had a few options, you know, three, three major schools that you could go to. Engineer, doctor, or lawyer. Those were the three options. And even so, you weren't guaranteed that you're going to have a good life. And my brother was already here in the United States, and he painted a good picture of what it could be. So, I decided to just come over here, take that leap of faith. And, you know, I came here and realized that I was making in a day what I was making back in Romania in in a month.
David Enevoldsen: Wow. So, I mean, to me, that seems like in and of itself a huge step. And that's got to be facing, correct me if I'm wrong, but that's got to be facing a lot of fears and kind of punching through that and a lot of uncertainty and unknowns.
Serban Mare: For sure. For sure. And to be fair, you know, when I was in Romania, I had zero responsibilities. Like I was still living with my parents, which was very normal during that time while I was going to school. I didn't even know how to get an ID. To be honest with you, just everything was was kind of taken care for. So, making that leap and coming here, it was it was pretty terrifying. But I had a goal in mind.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Serban Mare: Right and luckily I had my brother here too, who was able to support me, not necessarily financially, but with comfort and ideas, which made it the transition a lot easier.
David Enevoldsen: Oh, I'm sure. I mean, did you move in with him initially or just come over here and figure it out. Okay. So, what did you do when you first got here? I mean, did you did you have did you go to school or did you have some educational background that was useful or how did you stay afloat when you first arrived?
Serban Mare: Yeah, well, luckily my brother was living in a one bedroom apartment and we put another mattress in his bedroom and he said, "You can sleep there." And he slept in the other corner and told me to find a job that made sense for me. And I was already studying electronics back in Romania. So I applied to a manufacturing company here. And luckily I they hired me minimum wage. And even with minimum wage, it was a lot.
David Enevoldsen: Fascinating. So do think that the American dream is a real thing then. I mean, because you said you saw a lot of movies and I guess there was a if I'm interpreting what you said, right, I mean, there was some romanticization of what you saw about what's here. I mean, do you do you still believe that?
Serban Mare: I mean, for sure. The the American dream changed for me into my own version of it. Back when I came here, it was very different view of what the American dream was. You know, it was for me, it was the it was also the projection of my parents on what what they would want for myself and my brother, you know, to have a stable home and security and coming here and realizing that, yes, that can be attained easier. It was it was easy for me to just be like, okay, what I need to do is find a job and I get the get the house, find stability and just then just enjoy life and then come to realize that that was the generic American dream. And if we really want to live a truly happy and fulfilling dream, we have to make our own American dream, not the standard one.
David Enevoldsen: Sure. Were your parents supportive of the transition to the US?
Serban Mare: Yes. Yeah. Only because my brother was already here and they said yes. You, you guys should be together.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. So, so you get to the US, you get move in with your brother, you get a job, you're working minimum wage. Did you, did you, like, go to school or anything or just get training through that?
Serban Mare: I, I finished four years of college back in in Romania.
David Enevoldsen: Oh okay. And did that transfer over in some way that was useful in jobs here?
Serban Mare: The the easiest thing to do is to work two jobs here. Collect and save a lot of money and then just go back home and I had two semesters that I had to finish. So, I've, I went back and finished my last year there.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. But that education wasn't useful in the US. Like once you finished it or was it.
Serban Mare: Yes. Yes, it was. It's transferable. Yes.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. So ultimately, where do you get so you get up to this point where you're kind of sounds like you're stuck in the rat race, essentially, like you sort of realize the American dream in terms of you're making a lot more, but you're not feeling it. I guess you're not feeling content. And it's I think it sounds like this is a problem a lot of people in the U.S. Run into and I know I've experienced this myself, where you just go into a job and you're like, really? Is this it is? That seems like that's what happened. Is that correct?
Serban Mare: Yes. Okay. Yeah, it's I always think about about it in a way. A lot of people look at it as burnout, being something where you're just stressed and overwhelmed and too much to do. But there's another way of looking at burnout, where it's a quiet burnout, where there's not stress, but there just some uneasiness. Like you feel like there's I should be doing more with my life, yet you don't know what. And that's kind of the the stage that I ended up in.
David Enevoldsen: So it wasn't necessarily that you were like overloaded and losing your mind. It was just that there was this quiet gnawing that something wasn't right.
Serban Mare: Yes.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. So, so you get to this point, You're you've got to you're making a reasonable wage because we're in the U.S. now or you're in the U.S. now and you go back and finish your education. You come here. Things don't seem quite right. You start questioning about what it is that is going to make you happy, I guess. Or where did that take you?
Serban Mare: Yeah. I mean, I it wasn't it wasn't a an immediate transformation. It was something that I struggled for quite several years. So I, I went to my job for a while. I loved it. Then it kind of became just something monotonous. And the same thing with my weeks and my weekends. You know, we always think that, oh, the weekends are the best ones. And then you go through that phase of like, Oh crap, is Mondays coming? Yeah, it's Friday type of deal. And it took me probably 3 to 4 years to for really that pain to set in where I, I knew that I had to do something and I actually started thinking about doing something and that ended up actually finding and looking for an answer of what else is there to do. And that's where mindset came into play.
David Enevoldsen: So, well, how did you find my mindset as an answer? Is that just reading, watching videos? Where did that come from?
Serban Mare: Well, the moment it was it was an interesting moment because my wife felt that uneasiness, that growing anxiety that I that I felt, but I didn't know what to do. And she gently nudged me into listening one of these personal development podcast by Lewis Howes he had on Les Brown. He's quite he's he's quite the character and has such a big heart. And I listened to Les Brown and I don't remember what he said. It just it made me realize that I have an option. Like I'm not stuck in the place that I am and there's no other way. I can take charge of my life and do something with it. It's just a matter of changing the way I think about things. And that that pointed me to having a discussion with a friend that pointed me towards another podcast from Tom Bilyeu. And he talked in that podcast about the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, where the concept of growth mindset and fixed mindset really came, came in my forefront and finally I had that aha moment.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. So once you had the aha moment, what did you do then?
Serban Mare: You know.
David Enevoldsen: Like did it change or like, did you have to do something to make it make it feel so that you didn't have that feeling anymore? I'm assuming you don't now, is that accurate?
Serban Mare: You know, the thing is that we we hear ideas all the time. Like you read a book and it's it's good and then you read it and a different different year or different time. And it's like, "Oh my God, this is the best book."
David Enevoldsen: Yes.
Serban Mare: And I was looking for that something. And the book mindset just gave me that that light light bulb that I needed at that point to just look at things differently. Just think about them differently. It wasn't instantaneously. And, you know, you go through these phases when you're looking to change. At first you don't know that you want to change, but you feel that uneasiness. Then you have that uneasiness and you know that you would like to change, but you don't do anything about it. Then you go to the phase where you are really looking for something and then you move on to the phase where you're like, okay, I know I have to change. I know what needs to change. I'm going to make a plan on how to change. And only after that you go to the last phase, which is the execution phase. So for me, it was it was going through all that flow of, okay, there's there's a new way of thinking. I can do certain things. Okay, what can I do? What should I be doing? I asked all those questions and formulated a plan.
Serban Mare: And the the mindset, the growth mindset says that as long as you put your mind to something and you give it energy, and you like what you're doing and you're willing to put in the effort, you can change. It is as simple as that. But a lot of people have this limiting belief, including myself, that, yes, that sounds good, but it's not doable. And the way I've looked to apply it to just make sure that it's true is in my physical I'm an active guy. I always go to the gym, but I was never a runner. And I'm like, well, a growth mindset says that you can do anything you set your mind to. I have always said that I could never run a marathon. I could never run five miles. And I applied that in running. And to my surprise, with enough time, a lot of dedication and sweat and perseverance, I ended up running a marathon. It took about it took about six months to go through that process. But that what that did to me is confirm that if we want to change, if we're looking for something else, we can do anything we set our minds to. As long as we have the will and the necessary time.
David Enevoldsen: So when you come to this this realization, so going to recap and make sure I'm getting getting there correctly. So you come to the U.S., you get kind of stable, you get your job, you get this gnawing feeling, something's not right. The wife recognizes it and kind of nudges you into listening to some podcast that triggers like a sequence of, I guess, learning about mindset and kind of, I guess, some self-empowerment ideas that put you in a position where you recognize that you have the ability to change. What, aside from kind of just changing the understanding, what is it that shifted you, and again, I'm assuming now you feel differently, like you feel you don't feel that gnawing feeling of like, this is it? I mean, you feel content with your life and happy? Is that accurate?
Serban Mare: Yes.
David Enevoldsen: So what is it that shifted, aside from just the mindset? Like, what made you feel that way? Like, why is it that you went from discontent to like, was there anything mechanical changing? And I know you said you ran a marathon, but were there manifestations, changes in your life that came as a result of this mindset shift?
Serban Mare: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
David Enevoldsen: Can you give me some examples?
Serban Mare: I mean, the the marathon was kind of the catalyst to indicate to me that what I think that I can't do, I actually can. So, then I started applying it in in other aspects of my life. And one of the biggest one was the my inability to communicate. I was I was absolutely terrified, terrified of speaking in front of an audience. I was I remember being in front of five people at work and just having to introduce myself. And I, I barely mustered my words and just got so nervous, palms sweaty and tongue-tied and just wanting to hide under the the table and realize that that is one of my deficiencies. But it was also something that I really wanted to overcome. And because I have applied it in running, I'm like, okay, let me see if I this mindset works in other aspects of my life. So same thing. Went joined a Toastmaster Club for a few times. I was really terrible at it and the more I went, the more I put intention in it. The more I practiced it, the more I persevere. I started recognizing that things can change. I can become a better communicator.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. So you actually started going out essentially and chasing things that you weren't before, Like you're going out and running. You're now engaging in stuff that's going to take you down a path towards public speaking. Did you did you feel differently about kind of general work once you started recognizing mindset? Like if you go in and you feel just sort of unfulfilled, did your feelings about being in that same place alter at all?
Serban Mare: Oh yeah. Then that's a good question because, so for for so many years, I think two or three, four years there I was looking for my boss to promote me.
David Enevoldsen: Yup.
Serban Mare: I wanted a change. And I went to him every year. I'm like, "Listen, I want I want a promotion. I want to become this and you need to give me this." And he was always challenging me of, "Yes, I can, but you need to do X and Y." And I didn't want to do X and Y. I just want it. And I was telling myself in those instances that it is my boss's fault for not promoting me, for not giving me an opportunity only to recognize after encountering a growth mindset that it's no nobody else's responsibility to take charge of our lives. We have the capabilities of of taking ownership. And if we start telling ourselves that, oh, I could never run a marathon, or I could never write a code or oh, like I could never speak in front of an audience, that is excuses that we use. And that's the traits of a fixed mindset.
David Enevoldsen: Yup. You're describing kind of that victimhood mindset that becomes problematic versus the empowerment mindset which to use different labels on it.
Serban Mare: Yeah, absolutely. And it's the same principle. I applied it in my job where I can tell you that the was it two, a year and a half ago, after a lot of dedication, time and effort, I was able to move from the job that I had into my career right now that I love that it is something that I want to do and it I'm energized about. It's the same principles of a growth mindset applied not only in my health, not only in my passion of speaking, but also in my career. And it applies across the board.
David Enevoldsen: That's awesome. So basically, you went from living in an entirely different country, realizing a dream that brought you to the U.S., recognizing that wasn't totally fulfilling, even though you were making a lot more money here, recognizing that you had a lot of power over your own happiness, shifting into kind of a more constructive, empowered mindset where you started chasing things you weren't before and had been previously afraid of, it sounds like. Where you were doing public speaking and you were going out and doing marathons. And so essentially 180'd your life and now you feel good. Is that all accurate?
Serban Mare: Yes.
David Enevoldsen: So at some point, it sounds like, of course, since you're a coach and you're doing speaking, you decided to bring that to other people. And it sounds like some of that was funneling out of already what you were doing because you were going out and doing speaking. What what exactly is the message that you're offering when you're doing public speaking or coaching, I guess generally? I mean, do you have any key people you're speaking to or kind of key messages that you're promoting?
Serban Mare: Yeah, I mean, I, I think I'm best suited to help people who are five steps behind me and that my my key message is to help the the me from five years ago where someone's burned out or feels lost in their life, in their career. They don't know if there there's anything more for them in life if they they can't figure out what the passion, what their passions are. It's all those things that we once we get to a certain age, we we ask not not so much about the monetary, but the more of a fulfilling, meaningful life that we we can have for ourselves. And I really work with people to help them discover the passions and build something meaningful for their lives, that they really helps them live a more a happier and fulfilling life where Sunday night comes along and they're not dreading going to work. They're excited about it. Their their, their head just hits the pillow and they're like, "Yep, I did an awesome job this week. I can't wait for the next week." That's that's my my target and that's my hope for for anybody who wants to work with me.
David Enevoldsen: That is awesome. Yeah. And it's funny because I, I know that feeling of burnout and maybe it's a little different than what you described, but I had this this period where as soon as the weekend would start, I mean, you kind of described like the feelings of the weekend. It didn't feel that great. I remember as soon as the weekend would start on the first day of the weekend, I was already dreading going back on Monday. And so it was like my whole weekend would be ruined because the whole time all I was thinking about was the fact that I'd have to go back to work again and I didn't want to. And it felt like a different kind of burnout because that was like lawyer burnout. But it it felt I mean, I went through my own transition, I think, to get to a very similar place that you were using some very similar principles. I mean, some of what I was looking at was things like the Mindset book. That was definitely that's a classic and that's a that was a pivot point. And I mean, there are so many different ones that I think are circling around some of these same basic ideas. What what would you say to somebody who's in that mode? So, let's say that they're just feeling unfulfilled in their job. They're the you of five years ago or whenever that was or the five steps behind you, whatever the time frame when that was. And they're sitting there saying, "I don't feel right, something I could do better. I'm not really content," you know. What do you think is the first step for that person?
Serban Mare: Yeah, it's a good question because you get to a point where you don't feel like you have any options. You're just you're just stuck in this rat race and anything that you would do it won't amass to anything. And it's a difficult situation because you really because of all the things that you're dealing with in life, you don't have any clarity for any anything compelling in your future. And the the thing that I I emphasize and I applied in my life too, is you don't have to start a revolution with your life. You don't have to change everything 180. Because then your brain is just can't handle all that. And it's not about a revolution, but rather an evolution where you really look to change a certain thing in your life. Like you give yourself 15 minutes in the morning where you're just grateful for your day, and that just sets you in a proper mood. Or you contemplate about all the good things that you have in your life so that you recognize more of the things that you want to do, less of the things that you don't want to do.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Serban Mare: It's it's just starting with one simple thing, like gratitude, for example. That that has tremendous benefits. And it's with scientists now have proven that that priming of gratitude is is beneficial for anybody.
David Enevoldsen: Oh, yeah.
Serban Mare: And don't I would say don't put pressure to change absolutely everything. That's why New Year resolutions don't work. Because people want to just completely change everything in their lives and their their diets or whatever it is. And I'm here to tell you, don't change everything. Just change one thing and that will help you move you a little bit closer on the change that you want to make.
David Enevoldsen: What happens if you try, I think because this is an experience I've had and I feel like I have an answer, but I'm curious what you say about it, what happens if you're in that mode, you're saying, you know, I don't feel right, something's not working, I feel depressed or whatever the situation is, I feel unfulfilled for whatever reason. And you try making a change and you implement it and you're kind of doing it for a while and you don't notice any difference. What then? Do you keep going with that? Do you change? Do you add on? What are your thoughts there?
Serban Mare: It's yeah. And this this is kind of the part of the mindset where the the idea of a growth mindset is that you don't really emphasize so much on the end goal. You're you're looking to really value the the the steps that you are taking towards that end goal. So the end goal may come or may not come, but as long as you are doing something that is that is that you enjoy and it gives you energy, right? If you're if you're looking to change something, you better change something that you enjoy, enjoy in your life. Do something that gives you energy.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. But I guess what I'm getting at, though, is let's say you're in that place where what you're doing is not giving you energy and you don't enjoy it. Let's say you're in that job and you just feel like you're stuck in a cubicle or you're miserable and you don't like it. And you know, you could do more or do better or something else. And you've asked your boss a couple of times for that promotion, and your boss is like, "No, you got to go do X, Y, Z," and you don't want to do X, Y, Z because that feels painful. But you try one little thing, you try gratitude, let's say, to take your example. And I get up in the morning and I'm saying I'm grateful for and then I still go to work and I still don't have a promotion and I still feel like I'm just unsatisfied, you know? Where do you go from there?
Serban Mare: Yeah, it's cool, because this is exactly the things that I, that I experienced. I, I went to my boss. I told him that I wanted something different. He didn't he didn't do what I thought he was supposed to do, which is not his fault. He he had a group to run, not to babysit me. But you got to move. You got a lot of times when we're in this funk, in this negativity, we're always thinking about the things that you don't want. And I was there for such a long time until I finally flipped the script and looked at, okay, what are the things that I want to do? And identifying those things for me has helped me realize that, oh, at work I get that spark, that little energy from running projects. That was my little spark. And I went and pursued that. So on in parallel with my job, I started going for my project management certification just because that was something that I was enjoying. And it wasn't it wasn't something that my boss asked me. It wasn't something that anybody has told me to do. It just felt to me like it was a direction that I was doing something that I liked and I was running away from the things that I didn't want to do. And that has helped me build upon my career. Once, once I once I started getting involved. Like I said, it's just those one things that we do that are giving us energy. They don't have to be all day has to be different. It has to be one thing that we do that we really enjoy that gives us that spark. And as I started going after my project management certification, I started having that more energy and the clarity of, okay, what else do I want for my future? And that that made it a snowball to where I finally realized my path towards a better career that I really enjoyed doing.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. Okay, so it sounds like chase your joy and it's kind of find one little thing that kind of pushes you towards a place that makes you feel better like, is that correct? And then just keep chasing wherever that path takes you and it'll ripple out into a lot of other places.
Serban Mare: Just one thing.
David Enevoldsen: One thing. I like that because that's actually consistent with a lot of what I describe in the Emotional Embuffination stuff, particularly when somebody is in that real funk. You know, as you describe it. I actually have a analogy that I like to draw. At least this resonates with me. I don't know if it does with anyone else, but I have this description of if you imagine you go out to a junkyard and you find this car that is just utterly destroyed. You know, like the engine doesn't work, like nothing's working, like windows are missing. It doesn't have doors, like there's no tires on it. It's just trashed. And then you go in there and you're like, "Wow, this car is totally broken." And then you replace the alternator because the alternator was broken. But you're like, I'm going to fix this one thing, and you replace the alternator and then you go, "Well, I did that, but the car's still not running." And to me, that was always sort of this analogy of what happens when somebody is in this really dark place and they make one little change and say it's not working. And I kind of say, well, you have to keep going, keep doing getting excited about it, keep chasing and keep doing more stuff. And at some point there's going to be this threshold moment. If you keep replacing stuff and fixing things and doing things differently in your life, at some point you're going to have this threshold moment where it's going to transition into, "Wow, everything's amazing." Just like your car is running at some point and we're going in there. So that's the model I've been using.
Serban Mare: Yeah, and that's to end up the point of the story is that after going and getting my PMP certification, I was still at the same job. I was still doing the same thing, I still wasn't doing the things that I wanted. And even after getting the certification, it took another two years of me pursuing that dream career of being a program manager to that actually happened. And it's like you said, every day I was replacing a part. Every day I was talking with someone. Every day I was learning one more skill that I can implement at my job to make me better as a program manager. And that's that's it took it took two years to really get the job that I wanted.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. That's pretty, that's actually kind of an impressive story. You've gone from. crossing the globe with no money and kind of a scary situation to realizing essentially the American dream, not just in a generic sense, but in a level at a level of self-contentment. That to me, that's all quite impressive. That's pretty awesome. And so now you're you're spreading that message by way of both speaking and your coaching work, correct? What are kind of your general speaking topics? Like what are you talking about when you're I mean, I know kind of the generic theme, but I mean, are there more honed in themes.
Serban Mare: If of course, it's mindset. It's one of my my main my main points where I help burned out professionals just see see things in a different light, right? Have a have a growth mindset to really move them towards that clarity that they need for a more compelling future. Help them see that where they are it's it's not a sentence. They can always change and have a more compelling, and I talk about the idea of true happiness and fulfillment. And if if you may if I may, the this idea of true happiness, you know, I always think of happiness in two different ways of one is being happy in the moment and the other one being happy, happy in life versus happy with life. And during that time where I achieved the the American dream, I was happy in life because I started chasing the momentarily the momentary pleasures, you know, like going to parties, like enjoying a good, good glass of wine or going on vacations. And those are the the satisfaction that we get. But it's just momentarily that's a false happiness. And if you're looking for true happiness, is it is this process of doing something difficult over an extended period of time that really makes you proud of the things that you do. Because I'm sure, David, you're like me, you've you've done certain things in your life that man, they were hard. They were difficult. But aren't those the things that you're the most proud of?
David Enevoldsen: Sometimes, yeah.
Serban Mare: Overcoming those things. And that's the type of happiness that I'm talking about. True happiness is pursuing something meaningful that we care about in in service of others that really lights up your spirit. That's that's the true happiness and fulfillment that I I'm chasing, I'm living, and I'm wanting to help everybody else find theirs.
David Enevoldsen: That's interesting. So do you feel like there's a balance point between kind of the momentary pleasures versus the following your calling and service of others? Or do you think that the kind of momentary pleasures are something entirely different, like they're a distraction or just a hedonistic pleasure? Or what's your feeling on the contrast between those?
Serban Mare: Yeah, we are not robots, David. We, we we need we need to chill and watch some Netflix. We we need to go on a vacation. We need to break every now and then have a beer. I don't think we should run away from from those type of pleasures, but.
David Enevoldsen: So it's a balance.
Serban Mare: We should we should not only chase those type of pleasures. Because if we if that's the only thing that we we go after it, social media is such a such a clear indication, right? That the instant dopamine hit you, it's like a drug. You get that high and then you feel that that high has to bounce back and then you feel you feel crappy about yourself.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. So in essence, find something that you can do in service to others that gets you excited. But then simultaneously, every once in a while, go have the beer or go to the party.
Serban Mare: Yes. Yeah. You can't be a robot. Only only chasing the hard things. Some people do it. I, I like some moderation and balance. I think you can you can have a glass of wine every now and then. But not a glass of wine every night.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. Well, it's funny. I mean, I won't go too far off on this, but on the wine topic, I've been debating with people recently about whether it's better to just completely avoid alcohol or just have some level of moderation. And they seem to be finding different philosophies, especially with people that seem to have like alcohol addiction issues or that have kind of gone through some really dark places. But do you have thoughts on that or?
Serban Mare: Yeah, I have an opinion on alcohol and it's not really related to addiction. I, I mostly look for optimizing my health, my health. And I know that even having a glass of wine or a beer before bed, you're really killing your your restorative sleep. So some people some people take I don't I've heard people take weed, some kind of a blend of marijuana to help them go to go to sleep. But if you're if you drink a beer, a wine, some alcohol or some some kind of drug to help you get to sleep, you're not really getting that quality restorative sleep that your brain needs for your for the next day to be to to function properly.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. And that's very consistent with I read some research not too long ago that I couldn't really articulate it very well right now, but it's very consistent with what you just described. This idea that a lot of people will use either drugs or alcohol or both to get to sleep because they'll say they can't sleep. But then once they actually go to sleep, because it may help them to get to sleep, but once they're in the sleep state, they're not getting into the right REM state, I guess, or there's some things going on that they're not getting a deep enough or restful enough sleep. And so then they end up end up being even worse than had they just never used anything. So.
Serban Mare: Yes.
David Enevoldsen: It seems very consistent.
Serban Mare: I'm a big proponent of having your health in check, because if you don't if you don't have your health in check, you're you're really not optimizing your energy to to be able to pursue hard things. And then your your brain just defaults on couch potatoes.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah, I'm a big fan. I'm here again. I'm totally in agreement with you on this. I think that the you have to have both a mental state, but there's also a physical state. Like you have to run your body. You have to do things that get activated and those things are intertwined. You very often, if you're you can get sick or you can just become you allow your body to atrophy if you're not getting some kind of exercise. I know you mentioned like the marathons. Are you still doing that kind of thing or what do you do now to get the exercise?
Serban Mare: Just due to time? I scaled them to half marathons, but but I yeah, it's a it's a good way for me to kind of be with my thoughts for a extended period of time. So, I still I still run. And once a year I do some kind of a race.
David Enevoldsen: And I feel like I know that you did something recently that I think is pretty commendable. And this is probably a good segue into that. I feel like I have to bring it up. Do you do any hiking?
Serban Mare: Not not to that extent. I know you're referencing Mount Kilimanjaro.
David Enevoldsen: Yes.
Serban Mare: Yeah.
David Enevoldsen: Can you just briefly tell me about that? Because I think it's a super cool.
Serban Mare: Yeah. Kilimanjaro was quite an experience. You know, it's it's in Africa. It's an impoverished country, but it's the most amazing country I've I've been and the whole experience was just mind blowing. And, you know, I keep reflecting back on the the whole journey and you know, you get you end up at 20,000 feet elevation, but you have a whole team with you that they're called porters that help you with all the tents and the food and everything else. You're you're carrying a day pack. But it's so grueling because of the altitude. It's just it's just mind blowing. The the one thing that's it's it's wild. And I took away from that trip is the fact that these porters they're you know, there's that's their livelihood. These guys are walking up and down the mountain every week for miles on end, carrying all these different things. And the thing that shocked me the most was the fact that we're walking, we're walking up the mountain and they're walking by and they're singing. And we're singing with them. They're just singing. They're laughing. Their their hello is "Jambo." And hakuna matata is, don't worry. You know, from The Lion King. And they're just they don't have a lot. And these guys, they feel fortunate to carry 30, 40 pounds in the back of their on top of their heads. And they're just singing along. And that definitely put a perspective in my eyes. If we're living here in a society that we have so much and somehow we're not happy. And they have so little and then they they make the most out of it. Yeah, it's just it's, it comes back to perspective and mindset.
David Enevoldsen: And gratitude.
Serban Mare: And gratitude. Indeed.
David Enevoldsen: That's and possibly some exercise. Now they're they're obviously getting a lot of exercise and working their bodies if they're going up. How long of a trip up is that? How long does it take to get to the top?
Serban Mare: We took a it's a seven day route. So it was it was longer, I think all in all, it was 42 miles that we did in seven days. The you know, as I'm active, it wasn't overly difficult. The altitude is something that I'm not I wasn't used to. So it was interesting to to see that my stamina at the higher altitude was so low. It's the last the last hike, which is about a mile and a half.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Serban Mare: It took us over 8 hours.
David Enevoldsen: Because it's so steep?
Serban Mare: It's so steep and there's barely any air is just you're you're snailing your way up the mountain. And it's crazy and it's in the middle of the night because you need to get down before sunset. So, it takes takes takes a long time.
David Enevoldsen: Why do you have to get down before sunset? Why do you have to get down before sunset?
Serban Mare: Oh, you don't want to be there in the middle of the night. It's it's dangerous coming down. You might break a leg or something. Up is it's a lot more safe, because the trail that you're coming down, it's a lot steeper that don't need that much control. But it's it's unreal. The the amount of effort that you have to exert to hike that one and a half mile. It's a five, 5000 elevation gain. It's just it's something.
David Enevoldsen: Got it. Man, you have done some fascinating stuff, my friend. It's just that alone is like a huge accomplishment. That's really impressive. And it sounds like you've continued to get some mindset related stuff out of that, which I think is one of the other cool things about the physical stuff, like when you're just even not Kilimanjaro or anything, but even if you just go hike a normal mountain, I think there's so much to on top of just the general health benefits of getting exercise. I mean, there's so much that you can relate back to, just like when you said you ran the marathon, you're like, I can accomplish that. I can do this thing that I didn't think I could do before. If I can do that, what else can I do? And I feel like there's so many things in that realm that are like that. I'm a fan of martial arts, too, and I think you get a lot of comparisons in martial arts to normal life and dealing with conflict and emotions and all that stuff. So that's pretty awesome. Let me let me ask you my final question here. And I ask this to everybody, and then as soon as I do that, maybe I can get your kind of somebody wants to learn more about your where to go. So my last question that I ask everybody is if you could offer just one piece of advice to people about emotional health or strength and you couldn't say anything else but just this one piece of advice and you thought this was the most important thing, what would that piece of advice be?
Serban Mare: So many things running through my head.
David Enevoldsen: Got you thinking.
Serban Mare: I will say, and I'll end with a Henry Ford quote. "Whether you think you can or you can't, you are right."
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Serban Mare: It is so much more in our head than anything else. And the moment the moment we believe that we can do something, we have the willpower to go and get that something.
David Enevoldsen: I think you're dead on. I totally agree with that. Serban, thank you very much. If somebody wants to learn more about you or reach out to you in some fashion, how can they do so?
Serban Mare: Yeah, they can either visit my website serbanmare s-e-r-b-a-n-m-a-r-e dot com or they can look me up on Instagram. I try to put there some tidbits of knowledge that I learn and I like to share it with everybody so we can all learn together and be better. Be happier.
David Enevoldsen: Perfect. Serban, thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview today. Thank you for doing the interview today. And I guess we'll wrap it up there. So thank you very much.
Serban Mare: Yeah, thanks for having me. Awesome conversation.
David Enevoldsen: All right. So that brings us to the end of today's show. I hope that you have found this useful. I hope you can take some little nugget away and use it to make your life just a little bit better, like we were talking about in the show today. You keep adding those things on and at some point you hit that threshold where everything just starts becoming better and better and better. But if it's not immediately becoming better, keep going, keep adding things, keep improving, keep learning, and find a way to optimize your happiness and overcome all those struggles. Remember, this is a process. It's much like working out. You keep doing it, you keep doing it, you keep going to the gym, you keep going to the emotional gym, so to speak, and you keep working on this stuff. At the end of the day, I want you to go from a place where you are saying things like, "The struggle is real," to saying, "What struggle?" Thank you all for listening. I hope you have a great week and I will see you on the next show.