Go deeper into and through the feeling of loneliness or isolation. Just behind this feeling is your cure: a feeling of wholeness, fulfillment, peace, love and joy. There, there is no loneliness, isolation or disconnection. How do you do that? Take time to sit still. Notice how still you can become. Observe how deeply still you can get. Try it now (unless you are driving or operating machinery). How long can you stay deeply still? Notice the peace (don’t call it boredom) you feel in stillness. Keep doing it. Take time every day for this. Notice how you get better at stillness with practice.
As a part of my interview series about the ‘5 Things We Can Each Do Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic’ I had the pleasure to interview Udo Erasmus. Udo Erasmus is a pioneer of the health and wellness industry having created FLAX OIL and the Healthy Fats Movement. He is also the co-founder of the UDO’S CHOICE supplement brand, a global leader in cutting edge health products having sold tens of millions of bottles of healthy oils, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Udo is an accomplished author of multiple books including Fats that Heal Fats that Kill that has sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. Udo has extensive education in Biochemistry and Biology, a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Adler University and has impacted over 5,000,000+ lives by passionately conducting 5,000+ live presentations, 3,000+ media interviews, 1,500 staff trainings and traveled to 40+ countries with his message on how to achieve perfect health. Udo is a speaker at Tony Robbins events (on oils) and Deepak Chopra’s (on peace,) has keynoted an international Brain Health conference, and lectured at conferences on five continents.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?
I was born during the 2nd world war in Europe, was a refugee child before I turned 3, and we were fleeing from the communists. They were chasing us in tanks and trucks from behind, and the Allies were shooting at us from planes on the roads on which we fled into their fire. They knew that we were refugees: women and children on horse-led wagons. We were target practice for them. I remember the fear, anxiety (terror might be more accurate, actually), abandonment, lack of safety, confusion and hunger.
My parents were German-Swedish by blood and Latvian and Estonian by nationality.
After the war experience, I grew up with very little trust in people but read a lot. Books were interesting and safe, and I wanted to understand how things work and what I could rely on. That led me to experiment with (usually break) a lot of stuff, and later, to study sciences to find out how nature works, then biological sciences to learn how creatures work, then psychology to understand how thinking works, and eventually self-knowledge to get a grasp on how I work. How human nature works.
I took one year of medicine, thinking I would learn the nature of health, but left when I realized that I would only learn about disease, and so returned to biochemistry and genetics to learn how normal (healthy) creatures work.
Then I left university and much later, picked up more psychology and nutrition.
One day when I was 6 years old, living in post-war Germany, I listened to adults yet again vehemently argue about topics that seemed trivial to me. It occurred to me that there must be a way that people can live in harmony. ‘I will find out how.’ This has been my key driver ever since. It explains why I studied what I studied, as well as the nature of the adventures I pursued in the school of hard knocks. It is what gives both my personal and my business life its foundational direction. That thought started my career.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Being on Fire
This is a story within my ‘Oil Project’ career of developing a method for making oils (like flax seed oil) with health in mind, rich in the newly discovered, super-health promoting, but very perishable omega-3 essential fatty acid, and its value to energy, mood, pregnancy, brain development and function, physical performance, and the beauty of skin hair and nails.
After pesticide poisoning, which got me focused on health, I used my background in sciences and my childhood experiences on farms to research and design a method for making oils, the most sensitive and most damaged of all our essential nutrients, with health in mind. The person I was going to do it with had to withdraw from the project.
I decided to write a book on the subject. Broke and not working, I moved in with my mother when I was 41 years old. I got free room and board and she got a bit of help in her garden and later, assistance as she recovered from a stroke. I got to write more or less full-time. My friends were all out being social. I was typing words on a non-electric portable typewriter. Whenever I had doubts about what I was doing, something out of my control would remind me that I was on the right track and to keep going.
I had committed (sort of) to doing this book, but my commitment was shaky. One day in 1981, I found out in a just-published journal that omega-3 is an ‘essential’ nutrient that is too low for optimum health in 99% of the population, that every cell needs it and that it is a nightmare to work with. The timing, completely out of my hands, was perfect.
I knew from my reading what ‘essential’ means: The body can’t make it; We have to have it for life and health; We must get it from food; If we don’t get enough, our health goes down; If we get too little for too long, we die; If we bring enough back into the diet before we die, we get our health back.
The moment I read the study, I had what I have to describe as a full body lit up inspiration. A mission from God!! If we can get fresh omega-3 oils made with health in mind out to people, we could help millions. I was on fire with this worthwhile purpose for my life. Inspired beyond belief, the book (now called Fats That Heal Fats That Kill) almost wrote itself after that and came out in 1986.
Others wanted to be part of the adventure. Above as butcher shop in downtown Vancouver, we built a little factory in 1987, to press flax seed oil, the richest easily available source of omega-3.
In 1988, we hit the road across the US in a van without air-conditioning in the hottest months (July, August and half of June and September) to tell the story of flax seed oil made with health in mind. We did 101 days, 85 cities, 35 states, 17,000 miles by road. Worked all day and drove all night. I slept on the floor of the van. Our clothes hung on a broomstick inside the double doors. Whenever we got too sticky, we marched into a Marriott Hotel, showered and washed our clothes in the shower, and went back on the road. By the end of that year, flax seed oil was the buzz around the entire continent.
Without any background in business, I made hundreds of clear practical decisions, set standards, and rejected compromises. For me, the project was never driven by money, but by the exhilarated mission of making quality of life better for as many people as possible.
38 years later, that same desire to help still powers me.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
It was not humorous at the time, but when my marriage ended, I was really upset and took a job as a pesticide sprayer. Walked barefoot over lawns AFTER I had sprayed them. Even after the skin peeled off the bottom of my feet, I still told people who were concerned that I was immune.
After 3 years of carelessness, I got poisoned by the pesticides I sprayed. It is humorous now, because I survived. It’s also funny to look at my arrogance and the learning situation I created for myself by my thinking and actions.
The lesson that came out of it: Doctors couldn’t help me. I realize that my health is MY responsibility, got really focused, and used my background in biology, biochemistry and genetics to find healing and went on to develop a method for making oils with health in mind, out of which came flax seed oil and a better balanced oil blend that helped many thousands of people to better health and is now an annual $billion dollar industry.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
In my 40s, while working on my ‘Oil Project’, my mother asked me what I thought my purpose is. We were both shocked by my reply, because I had thought about it but had never got it nailed down, even in my own mind. ‘I will turn health into a teachable field, and I will do the same with human nature.’ These two topics are central to human existence and quality of life. Our neglect to do so has led and still leads to indescribable suffering.
Loneliness is just one form of suffering that comes from not knowing these two areas central to our existence.
My exciting new project is to address the basic issues of existence. Its goals are the following:
1) 8 billion people could live their lives lit up from within. The light (life) is already within every human being. It is just a matter of looking into rather than out (or away) from it.
2) When a person lives lit up from within, s/he feels cared for, because life loves the body unconditionally (24/7/365; Never sleeps; Asks for nothing back; Runs everything; Weighs nothing; Never takes time off; Never goes on strike; Still loves you even when you think or say that you hate life).
3) Feeling cared for, you feel so rich that you don’t need to steal other people’s stuff to get yourself taken care of. You transform from a taker to a giver.
4) Then we can all live in harmony together.
5) Then, it becomes easy to make sure that every human being’s basic needs are met on a long-term, sustainable basis.
6) Then, the un-addressed ‘impossible’ problems on this planet — personal, relational, political, legal, international — become not only solvable, but rather easily so.
7) Without feeling cared for, we will not solve our problems or create a world that works for all. That makes this is the single most urgent project on the planet. If we don’t make it work for all, those for whom it doesn’t work will eventually ensure that it doesn’t work for anyone. The signs of this eventuality are widespread around the world in all political, cultural, national and religious persuasions; in both genders, all races and all ages.
8) An overview book of this project is called ‘The Book on Total Sexy Health: The 8 Key Parts Designed by Nature’. It covers health, nature and human nature, because health is the result of living in line with nature and our nature.
Can you share with our readers a bit why you are an authority about the topic of the Loneliness Epidemic?
During my shy childhood, I experienced a great deal of isolation and loneliness. As an adult, I looked into the roots of it. One of the questions I asked was: Why do some of us feel lonely and isolated, yet others feel joy and wholeness in the same situations? Feeling isolated and lonely are feelings we feel inside our being. Situations (as well as feelings of loss and/or expectations) may trigger them, but what goes on internally that makes the difference?
Practical answers to these questions require deeper knowledge of human nature. This deeper knowledge should be part of basic education, but it is not part of the curricula of the schools that I’m aware of. So, I researched and dug it out myself over the course of the past 5 decades.
I live alone for many years now. I do not feel lonely or isolated. I feel connected both within myself to life and into the world by purpose.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this story in Forbes, loneliness is becoming an increasing health threat not just in the US , but across the world. Can you articulate for our readers 3 reasons why being lonely and isolated can harm one’s health?
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to loss of joy, loss of hope, loss of purpose and interest, dark thoughts, depression, decreased self-care, neglected hygiene, immune system suppression, neglect of living conditions and even suicide.
If their root cause is not effectively addressed, these lead to 1) Negative thinking, then to 2) Negative words, then to 3) Negative actions, which lead to negative outcomes on self, others, group and nature. Individually, and collectively as a group: family, community, nation, world.
On a broader societal level, in which way is loneliness harming our communities and society?
On the social level, loneliness and isolation lead to lowered group mood, waste of gifts and talent, neglect of duty, responsibility and possibility, loss of co-operation, less creativity and lower productivity.
The irony of having a loneliness epidemic is glaring. We are living in a time where more people are connected to each other than ever before in history. Our technology has the power to connect billions of people in one network, in a way that was never possible. Yet despite this, so many people are lonely. Why is this? Can you share 3 of the main reasons why we are facing a loneliness epidemic today? Please give a story or an example for each.
Yes, to feel lonely while living with 7+ billion other people is remarkable. And yes, it has something to do with connection. But connection through technology is not the cure. In fact, it makes the problem worse. Why?
Google, Amazon and technologies can get you everything on the outside, but not yourself on the inside.
Loneliness and isolation are the results of internal disconnection. Disconnection from ourselves. Our internal disconnection precedes (causes) our external disconnections.
Reason 1. Our focus of awareness disconnected from our life (heart, core). This is a natural process for humans. It begins the moment we are born into the world. Our senses take our focus of awareness out into the world, away from its internal source, to get to know the world we’ve entered. That shift of awareness leads to a feeling of loss, emptiness, restlessness, loneliness etc. The words we use for this feeling change depending on the situation we are in. I have several pages of words people use under different circumstances for this feeling.
You can see this process take place in the development of children. When they are born, they are comfortable with their own company (except when they need food, diaper change, warmth or sleep).
Loneliness is more an ‘adult’ than a child issue. Not an issue in the womb, either, where we are completely alone and kind of isolated, but not lonely or feeling isolated.
Reason 2. Since we’ve forgotten how this feeling began, something is missing and we find distractions (or ignore, deny or blame something/someone for) this feeling. For examples, just look around. Distraction, denial and blame are everywhere in every endeavor. Health, mental health, family, food, business, government, international relations, industry, law (crime) and our destructivity of nature and planet. We’re degrading everything more and more as time goes by.
Reason 3. We complain (whether we are rich or poor, famous or unknown, powerful or powerless, etc.). When we complain, we prove that we know that standards could be better, but we want others to do the work to attain them.
Whatever is going on in the world is not bringing us the connection we seek. We hope for connection on the outside when our key issue is disconnection from the inside, and loneliness and isolation are just 2 words for this inner disconnection.
Ok. it is not enough to talk about problems without offering possible solutions. In your experience, what are the 5 things each of us can do to help solve the Loneliness Epidemic. Please give a story or an example for each.
Like any business problem, loneliness must be examined in order to be corrected or solved.
1. Feel and acknowledge the feeling. Be with it. Notice that even though it can be intense, it will not harm or kill you. Don’t interpret or judge the feeling. Just notice it. This is important. You cannot fix a problem that you refuse to look at.
2. Reframe the meaning of loneliness. It is a gift. It is the greatest gift you have been given, other than being alive, for five reasons.
- It gets your attention. Grounds you. Makes you simple by getting you out of thoughts and your head, into your body and feeling.
- It is also your driving force. It is not about what you lost or are missing on the outside (although that may have triggered the feeling).
- It is actually your heart calling your attention to come back home to life, your deeper self. If the feeling was not there to call you, you would never find your way back home.
- It is the starting point for the journey back to being fully present in the space your body occupies, where your wholeness and fulfillment live.
- Once you know how to re-connect, it will be your reminder whenever you let the focus of your awareness drift outward again, away from yourself.
3. Go deeper into and through the feeling of loneliness or isolation. Just behind this feeling is your cure: a feeling of wholeness, fulfillment, peace, love and joy. There, there is no loneliness, isolation or disconnection. How do you do that? Take time to sit still. Notice how still you can become. Observe how deeply still you can get. Try it now (unless you are driving or operating machinery). How long can you stay deeply still? Notice the peace (don’t call it boredom) you feel in stillness. Keep doing it. Take time every day for this. Notice how you get better at stillness with practice.
4. Using this process, discover and connect more & more fully to life’s unconditional love for your body. Feel your heart’s rich fullness. Just like you eat, drink, sleep, and wash every day, practice re-connection mastery daily as an ongoing work in progress.
5. Practice sharing this richness of life in your conversations instead of giving voice to a plethora of complaints about just about everything, especially about institutions and most especially government. Oh yeah, and get your sleeves rolled up and your hands dirty to manifest greater possibilities.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To deliver understanding and insight into and practical access to self-connection, the highest human common denominator a la Socrates’ ‘Know Thyself!’ He did not say ‘Know everything but thyself.’ That’s what we do. What did he know that made him say that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’?
From this self-knowledge (living lit up from within, feeling cared for by life and not feeling the need to steal other people’s stuff in the hope that it will make us feel better), harmony among people becomes possible, and the basic human needs of all can be met on a long-term sustainable basis.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Melinda Gates. To interest her and Bill in this urgent and noble global project.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
“5 Things We Can Each Do To Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic”, With Author Udo Erasmus was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.