Much has been written about the ‘lying flat’ movement and the greatest exodus of human capital in the modern era. Professional workers globally are ditching their desk jobs and urban lifestyles in the pursuit of a more fulfilling future.

It’s no surprise to me, as someone who’s seen both sides and was a first mover in the digital working revolution, departing from GE Capital four years ago.

After almost a decade pursuing advancement in a big conglomerate provided material abundance but also a general dissatisfaction about my life and future. I was mentally and emotionally unfilled and seeking answers.

My departure in 2018, pictured below at GE’s Boston HQ, was shocking to most in the organization. As a young top performer and fast riser, it baffled my peers and broke many relationships. Why quit now after so much success? You’re nuts!

What folks failed to understand (or couldn’t outwardly acknowledge) is like many, I wasn’t feeling Joy or gratitude, was unhealthy and desperately needed lifestyle changes.

On a side note, the outrageous outfit was intended for two purposes – to shed a little levity on an otherwise contentious moment and to express my core nature, that of a free spirit and explorer. A true cowboy at heart.

The following four years of travel and inward exploration led me to some of the most remote villages in settlements in South America and Asia and created consciousness around the core recipe for lasting Joy.

You see, we’re all unconscious until we experience and ‘see’ the other side.

I call it the scratch and sniff… Perpetually unsatisfied and don’t know why, scratching at the surface – trying new workout programs, support groups, restaurants –  whilst failing to understand the root causes.

And we take vacations, oftentimes to the places we really want to live, to do things we really want to do, all the while feeling a cold emptiness waiting for us on the backside.

It took time away from professional activities altogether and clear head space to find true meaning. And before returning to the working world with a clear mission, I sat for almost a year, practiced and taught yoga, lived amongst ‘spiritual’ communities and explored – both the world and myself.

It gives me great Joy to share the following recipe – one I’m continuing to refine daily in an ongoing effort to find more self love, fulfillment and overall satisfaction.

On Practice, I’ve found that a core routine is critical to ground oneself. Some have ‘morning routines’, others ‘afternoon workouts’. The key is finding activities that make us feel good and sustain our energies throughout the day. Everyone’s recipe is different and can evolve through life experience.

My daily practices include a morning yoga & meditation routine (asanas, pranayama), afternoon treks, singing & dancing, creative writing and storytelling. It’s taken years to compile this list and the last activity is fulfilled from new professional passions…. By nature of leading a startup and interacting with its customers on a daily basis I’m constantly sharing inspiring stories.

Community based Living. One of the shortcomings of urban living is an absence of interaction amongst our peers. Our apartments don’t feel like  ‘home’ despite being housed in complexes filled with thousands of other humans. Are your elevator experiences as awkward as they were for me? Why don’t we feel the need to interact? But we also feel loneliness in these settings.. Ironic isn’t it?

My travel journey started in Ecuador, living amongst shamanic communities. These peoples, despite having little from a material standpoint were filled with what mattered, love and abundance in the heart. They helped and held space for one another and were some of the most welcoming humans I’d ever met in my life.

The urban living model promotes isolation and self advancement which is contradictory to our true nature because for thousands of years and prior to the modern era we lived as a communal species that collaborated. We also endlessly explored….The word ‘nomad’ far predates its prefix ‘digital’. 

This story played out almost everywhere in travels across the developing world. 

An example… Whilst trekking this fall through Ladakh (India’s most northern and remote Himalayan region) I witnessed the harvest season in almost a dozen small villages –  a critical time of the year for communities to sustain themselves. 

Winters are treacherous and it takes an entire village (quite literally) to prepare for the season. Everyone helps their neighbors with harvesting activities and communities assemble at days end to discuss outputs. These meetings btw are quite Joyful… some even involve local spirits, produced from their own barley 😉

Absent the hostel industry, there are few accessible models in the modern era, aside from living in remote rural villages, that promote communal living. This gap will hopefully change as workforces migrate away from urban centers. It’s also what I’m actively focused on fixing through new professional endeavors.  

A Passionate Purpose. Almost universally accepted is the need for humans to have purpose. And since the majority of us are not monks – living for enlightenment – the main avenue is typically derived from professional pursuits. We find ourselves in our work and oftentimes define our lives by it.

At GE I had purpose for a number of years. Constantly challenged with new assignments promoted a ‘learning atmosphere’ and my duties, especially at the end of my career, involved daily storytelling, to customers and internal resource teams. I don’t believe my work created suffering but more so the absence of a suitable lifestyle. Back in 2018 it wasn’t vogue taking ones work on the road. If it was, I’d probably still be a banker!

But I’m happy that the ‘flow’ of life made it impossible at that stage, as it was necessary to put focus into the core recipe. As a result, I’m even more aligned to my true purpose on this planet, to create conscious communities for digital workforces.

Follow your Flow. The path to Joy and self actualization is not linear. It’s ebs and flows. Up one day and down the next and until we’re conscious to our unique core recipe, life can feel like a roller coaster. Finding this mix and ‘teachers’ of practices happens faster if we ‘follow our flow’ and trust gut intuition.

Spiritualists liken it to energetical alignment – our vibrations (the energy we emit) attract similar ones and the inner voices we hear (our gut) or external guidance can serve as a compass to connect. But to do this, we must let go of our analytical mind.

My successes in finding new practices and a passionate profession are the result of this flow. 

A quick snapshot… I left GE to live in Ecuadorian shamanic communities and become a yoga instructor, later joining the country’s largest hostel chain as CFO. It was in these environments where I first experienced the Joy’s of community living. I departed the hostel group (because of ethical disputes) and travels took me to Vietnam, where I met my first business partner, an Indian professional on vacation. We vibed on the woes of modern working professions and concepts around community based living. 

After a few months in Cambodia the itch to work again arrived and I flew to India – where ‘shit hit the fan’ in a fury. Evil behaviour in hospitality amongst an ownership class motivated me to launch Pahadi Robinhood, a brand aimed at creating a fair distribution model for an entire ecosystem. This was winter 2019. We launched our flagship location later that spring. 

Since establishing this new purpose, the flow has continued, bringing me to new teachers, life practices and business partners – all aligned to the spirit of Robinhood. A spirit of superior service and compassion for communities.

And for years my gut and curiosity pointed to visiting the Himalaya. Unsure why but as it turns out, this is where I’m meant to be!

Hopefully these experiences inspire others to seek out fulfilling futures, trust their intuition, live in communities, explore and be passionate. Life is too short to be unsatisfied and to quote Keith Richards “If you can’t get no satisfaction” then take the lifestyle leap and join the digital working revolution. Who knows, perhaps you’ll discover your very own recipe for Joy… 

Josh 🤠

Ps….The picture on the right is from fall  2020 at Everest Base Camp. Seemingly ‘stuck’ in Nepal during COVID provided the opportunity to experience this region as one of its few travelers that year. On that day, I was one of 5 trekkers at basecamp, a site typically filled with hundreds. Part of my ‘flow’.

Josh Willig 

Chief Joy Officer