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When we experience pain it can be easy to try and avoid the suffering that comes with it, but as the author Andrew Buerger reminds us, we have a valuable opportunity to use that pain to fuel our passion and make the world a better place as a result. Check out this episode of On a Positive Note to learn more about making every day a positive day through purpose and passion.
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00:15 Introduction to Andrew Buerger
01:04 Joke about mountain climbing
01:57 Insight about mountain climbing
03:24 The dangers of avoiding pain
05:11 How to turn pain into passion
06:36 Positive stories of turning pain into passion
07:10 A quote from Mark Twain
07:20 The secret to wellness
07:49 Alleviating suffering through Jodi’s Climb for Hope
08:42 The secret to nutrition discovered in Iceland that turned into B’more Organic
09:50 How to make every day a positive day
10:24 A story about not letting pain hold you back
12:40 Where to find Andrew’s book
13:24 The power of having a purpose to wake up every day
14:49 A quote from Viktor Frankl
14:07 Wrap up
LINKS & REFERENCES
Buerger, A. (2020). Carrying a flag from pain to passion. Outskirts Press.
Learn more about Andrew’s company B’more Organic: https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2019/09/28/fast-growing-bmore-organic-closes-its-doors.html
Andrew mentions the work of Simon Sinek. Visit https://simonsinek.com/ to learn more.
Jonas Cain is a Learning Experience Designer and Facilitator of Fascination for Hashtag Positivity, an educational company that helps emerging leaders and their influencers initiate and manage positive change for personal and professional growth.
“Safety Net” by Riot
“Lightning Bugs” by Geographer
“A Quiet Thought” by Wayne Jones
Positivity, Inspiration, Emotional Intelligence, Psychological Capital, Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, SocialSkills, Hope, Efficacy, Resilience, Optimism, On a Positive Note, Positive News Stories, Some Good News
Hi everyone, Jonas Cain here with Hashtag Positivity, and welcome to On a Positive Note the podcast that offers hope through positive news stories, practical insights, and
even a little levity.
And on that note, today is a very special day because today we have our
first ever guest on the show. So please help me welcome Andrew Buerger.
Andrew, welcome to the show.
ANDREW: Good morning, good morning.
JONAS: I'm so excited to have you.
ANDREW: It's great to be here. You know, one of the positive things got out of COVID is that you spend more time seeing out-of-town friends. It's a bummer you don't get to see your next door neighbor, but it's great to see old friends like you, that I don't get to see often. So this is a real, real pleasure for me.
JONAS: Yeah, up until recently I would only see you once a year during expeditions, which is what we're gonna, we're gonna share your story in just a moment, but through COVID I've seen you a lot more.
ANDREW: It has been, it's been a great game. It's nice to have some coffee together with you this morning.
JONAS: Yes, it is. So, Andrew, I like to start off these, these episodes with a little levity. So do you have a joke for us today?
ANDREW: You're puttin' me on the spot there, Jonas. So let me see. So we're, I guess we're talking about mountain climbing so let me see if I have a mountain climbing story but I'm not sure if it's a joke but it's more of a mountain climbing story. You know, 'cause we've climbed together we've done some expeditions. One of them was a mountain climbing expedition on Mount Adams. And we know what it's like, and I think as you probably have learned very quickly the three most important things about being a good mountain climber is one, a poor memory, two, the ability to suffer, and then three, I forgot the third. Get it? Poor memory, I forgot the third? There we go, there we go.
ANDREW: The studio audience will get that.
JONAS: I get it. No, you know what-
ANDREW: The guys at home got that. The guys at home got it.
JONAS: That is what makes it so funny is because it's so authentic and so genuine.
JONAS: I could, I could speak with authority on that because the first expedition
that I did with you was the Grand Canyon.
ANDREW: Yes. Right.
JONAS: And I had met you the second day of the trip because it was, the one that I did was a rim to rim to rim. So hiking from one side of the Canyon down in and up on to the other side and then being exhausted and wanting to just give up and not even knowing if it was possible for me to go back in the next day. But you know what, I woke up in the morning, I was like, "Oh, I got this."
ANDREW: Yesterday wasn't that bad.
JONAS: Oh my goodness.
ANDREW: I remember, you stumbled into camp a mess. And I'm like, "There's no way that guy's going tomorrow." And then there you were. I was gonna call a medical on you, get out of there.
JONAS: Ability to suffer.
ANDREW: Yes, yes.
JONAS: And a poor memory. You're absolutely right.
ANDREW: Yes. Absolutely. You see, that's kind of, you know my positive message is that, you know, for me I feel like suffering is a muscle that we need to build. And in our society we don't suffer enough. You know, I tell the story of my daughter, you know she loves going to the dentist. Yeah, she's like, "Dad, oh, yay! "I get the laughing gas." They have these TV screens where she's watching cartoons. They give her a little prize when she leaves, she feels no pain. Right, she was like, "Brush my teeth? "Why do I need to brush my teeth? "I get to go to the dentist." You know, for us, it was a horrible, horrible experience. And then, you know, I tell the story that my friend, he got a new car, and it's like, "Well, how's your car?" "Oh, it's awesome." "Oh, it's great." "What's the best part of it?" He said the heated steering wheels. Like he, you know, God forbid we get in our car and our hands get cold for two minutes. So all this stuff is so wonderful and it is positive, right? You know, the Novocain, they pre-Novocain your mouth these days. Back then, they just give you this awful shot. Now you don't even feel the shot. Our society is great. You don't want to get your arm amputated without, you know, while you're awake, but at the same time we've lost that muscle to suffer and to go through difficult times. And that's why one of the many reasons COVID has been so hard for people. And not to diminish it, Jonas. Because, you know, it is awful. But sitting home, watching Netflix, is not like going off to war during World War II. It's just not. And you know, there's the old adage that, you know, our grandparents went off to keep us safe often to Europe and we can't stay home to keep them safe. So it's relatively not that bad. There's so many positive things that we talked about COVID and how do we come out of this better than we came into it? What positive aspects? I wrote a book.
JONAS: You literally wrote a book on, from-
ANDREW: I literally wrote a book. I wrote a book on how to suffer through COVID. I could tell you, you know, 50 awful things but I can tell you a hundred great things that have happened in the past nine months.
JONAS: And could you tell our listeners the title of your new book?
ANDREW: Yes. I have to read it. "Carrying a Flag From Pain to Passion".
JONAS: I just ordered this book and I'm excited to dive into this because with the trips that I've been on with you, you know, that is the core message, you know, as we're about to ascend the mountain or where we're about to dive into the canyon is you're talking about diving into the pain.
JONAS: You're really using that as the fuel. to get us to the summit
ANDREW: Yes, yes.
JONAS: Using it, you know, literally as the passion to keep us going.
JONAS: Can you tell us a little bit more about how you arrived at that title and how you decided to do these expeditions and what all this means to you?
ANDREW: Well, well, you know, in the time it takes for somebody to brush your teeth this morning or pour their cup of coffee, my brief history of my life is that, you know, I had, like, so many people, not just me or you who have had challenges and adversity and grief in their life. But you know, when I was an infant, less than six months old, my mother died. And then my dad died when I was 31. He was only 58 of heart disease. And then my sister developed metastatic breast cancer and died when she was 45. And so through all those awful tragedies, all that pain, I found my passion, which is helping people stay well. The two most important days in a man's life, according to Mark Twain, or a person's life, is the day he's born and the day he figures out why. And so all those tragedies taught me about wellness and I searched and figured out how to stay well which is how to eat right and exercise so I took care of that part. And so that can take care of 87% of disease, by staying well. But the other 13, you know, you can't really prevent. And things like multiple sclerosis and breast cancer are really tough to prevent. There are certain things you can do to reduce your likelihood. So after my sister got sick, I developed, we started the nonprofit. We talked about Jodi's Climb for Hope, which takes people climbing around the world to raise money for breast cancer. If I didn't have enough challenges, my wife developed multiple sclerosis less than six months after we were married.
ANDREW: And so, you know, that just furthered my desire to raise more money. So we've raised over $850,000 for both breast cancer and multiple sclerosis here at Johns Hopkins University.
JONAS: That is amazing. And what I love about that, you've literally taken this unfortunate situation you know, and you used it as fuel to not only improve the lives of the people that you love, but really helping to alleviate the suffering of people you'll never even meet.
ANDREW: Yes, exactly.
JONAS: It's beautiful.
ANDREW: So one of those expeditions in Iceland I discovered this product called skyr which is a Icelandic yogurt, very similar to Greek yogurt, and I fell in love with, this is, you know, 12 years ago, before Greek yogurt got really hot and I really wanted to develop a protein drink that was organic, without any chemicals and that also didn't have sugar. So I discovered this thing called skyr, I looked at my wife and said, "Jen, this is what I want to do the rest of my life." So I came back home and quit my day job and started bottling this skyr and made an organic protein drink that in 2017 was the fifth fastest growing organic and natural brand in the country.
JONAS: That is amazing.
ANDREW: So we got a really, really, really healthy product. And we donated 1% of sales to Jodi's Climb for Hope. And so, you know, that again was part of my life's mission is to help people stay healthy by giving them healthy food and then donating money to disease research. So, you know, all those challenges, my wife, my family, my loved ones, all gave me a reason to get out of bed. I get excited not just out of bed, not just to drink good coffee, but to help with my life's mission. And I know what my mission is which is to take a bite out of disease. And that's why I get up every day. And so I've been fortunate that I have a purpose. And when you discover a purpose, every day is a positive day, as you know, Jonas. That's what I'm, that's what the book is about, and that's what I'm imploring people to do through COVID is, why are we going through this suffering? Why are we on this earth? What makes us, what is our purpose in life? And through that, a lot of exploring, you know, Simon Sinek does a good job helping people through and find their passion. Hopefully, you can include that in the show notes, Simon Sinek. And so, you know, we were climbing on Kilimanjaro as a Jodi's Climb for Hope expedition, and we kept seeing this group go up, you know, we're going up with the group. We came back down, I ran into the same group and I said, "Hey, how'd you guys do?" And they said, "Oh, well, 12 of the 24 of us summited" And I'm thinking 12 of the 24 summited? "Why is that?" He said, "Well, Billy's feet got cold, "so Susie took him down, and Joey got tired, "so Bobby took him down." And I'm like, what? We had flags we were carrying to the summit with my sister's name on it. We had people that were at home waiting for us to get that flag, that thank you flag, the Climb for Hope flag that was in our packs the entire way. We weren't getting all that cold feet or fatigue, stop that. And so once you carry a flag in your pack every single day, whether that's to the mountain or whatever it is, it's so hard to stop you. It really is, and you're not going to let altitude sickness or tired feet or cold toes stop you from accomplishing that mission.
JONAS: That is such a powerful, powerful reminder of really having that ability to suffer. I mean, it kind of goes against the poor memory because you know, because you're, by literally putting your passion into that flag, you know, that is keeping, that is remembering, you know, your whole reason for getting up there. I remember, I'm climbing Mount Adams with you thinking about my dad and I summited that mountain. I was the last one to get to the top. 'Cause I really struggled that whole last hour.
ANDREW: It's rough, it's suffering.
JONAS: But I was thinking about my dad. I summited on the five-year anniversary of his death, who died of cancer. So I was just, I was remembering him, you know, he was my flag, he was my reason, my purpose for carrying on because he's not able to anymore.
ANDREW: That's right.
JONAS: Oh my goodness. You have such an amazing, such a powerful, powerful story, Andrew.
ANDREW: Well, I really appreciate you letting me share it with you, as do you. So I thought it was so important that we talk about it together.
JONAS: So how can people get your book?
ANDREW: I mean, a lot of places you can get it. There's, I guess the simplest is to go to Amazon, it is on Amazon.
JONAS: And it's called "Carrying a Flag From Pain to Passion"?
ANDREW: Yes, "Carrying a Flag From Pain to Passion." So, you know, you can obviously get it from Amazon but hopefully you can put it in the show notes, there's a great independent bookstore in Ann Arbor that you can order it from. I just don't remember the URL. So hopefully you can put that up and let people support this woman-owned business in Ann Arbor.
JONAS: I absolutely will. I will put all of that in the show notes. Well, Andrew, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day. And thank you for having such a powerful mission and a powerful story. As you know, there are, in my research I've found that there are three core pillars of positivity. And one of those pillars is having a purpose, having a reason to wake up every day on fire. 'Cause that is what, you're absolutely right, that makes every day a positive day. So I'm so happy that you've-
ANDREW: As Victor Franco said, Victor Franco said, "When your why is big enough, "you can overcome any how." And so, as you and I know, our lives are so big that, you know, we all have setbacks and challenges and bad days, but our lives' big enough so we can overcome any how.
JONAS: That's beautiful. Well, Andrew, it's been a joy having you on the show.
ANDREW: It's been lovely my friend, thanks.
JONAS: And to all of our listeners, I hope you've enjoyed today's episode. And I encourage you to leave a rating and subscribe to the podcast, as that's the best way to really let other people know about this positive resource. If you have any questions for me, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and that email will also be listed in the description of today's episode. Until next time, my name is Jonas Cain, and this has been another episode of On a Positive Note.
Jonas Cain is a Learning Experience Designer and Facilitator of Fascination for Hashtag Positivity, a social entrepreneurship providing social emotional knowledge, skills, and resources to help emerging leaders and their influencers experience greater clarity, confidence, courage, and joy in their life, work, and relationships.