Authenticity and consciousness. If you ask me how I would describe Sam Spurlin, these words come to mind immediately. In the world of personal development blogging, his work stands out not because of a “magic formula that will change your life” but rather by concrete and practical steps that help you work on awareness and growth.
Today I have the pleasure to welcome Sam Spurlin for an interview. Here we go!
Manuel: Hi Sam! and welcome to In Space We Trust. It’s a real pleasure to have you today. You were one of the first bloggers I read regularly and your work definitely influenced mine. Can you tell me a little about your blog samspurlin.com and how you came to blog?
Sam: I graduated with a teaching degree in 2009. I moved home and started looking for a high school teaching job and quickly realized that was going to be much more difficult than I ever imagined. By the time school started in September I still hadn’t found a full-time job so I decided to start a blog to keep me busy while I was on the job hunt. I had become interested in personal development, and more specifically minimalism, over the last couple years of college so I decided that was the topic I wanted to write about. So, I started TheSimplerLife.net in October 2009 and started focusing on doing great work there. Eventually, it became the primary way I was spending my time (even though I eventually got a full-time teaching job).
In June of 2011 I closed TheSimplerLife.net and moved everything over to SamSpurlin.com. I decided to do that because I was accepted to attend a graduate program in positive psychology and my writing had gradually changed from minimalism/simplicity to personal development/life coaching/positive psychology.
Manuel: Did you approach personal development through blogging?
Sam: I’d say I was interested in personal development before I started blogging, since that was part of the reason I decided to start blogging in the first place. However, having a blog about personal development has forced me to really push my thinking in this domain much further. Blogging has been an avenue for me to develop and grow my ideas about what it means to take personal development seriously and how I can help people in their own development.
Manuel: Personal development seems to be a very trendy topic in the blogosphere. How do you explain this popularity?
Sam: I think people have always wanted to improve themselves. That’s definitely not a new phenomenon or idea. However, I think the internet is helping people realize that they have much more control over their lives than they may have originally thought. If you stop to think about it, it’s truly incredible to think about the wealth of information that is at your fingertips if you have an internet connection. If you want to become more informed about something it’s absolutely within the realm of your control to make it happen.
Also, not only is it easier to find information about personal development, but I think the internet makes “success stories” more prevalent and easier to find. It’s hard to hear about someone who completely changed their life and not feel inspired to try to do something similar. It’s easy to find people that are doing what you want to be doing and use them as role models for your own development.
Manuel: You are a student in Positive Developmental Psychology. What is it exactly? and how does it influence your writing and coaching?
Sam: Positive psychology is a sub-discipline of traditional psychology. Whereas psychology normally takes a deficit-centered approach to understanding human behavior, positive psychology comes at it from a position of strength. For example, traditionally psychology has focused mostly on identifying, diagnosing, and treating mental illnesses. This has been an incredibly important role and many great contributions have been made. However, positive psychology instead tries to look at what is good, or above average, and learn from that perspective. Instead of trying to “fix” a sick person positive psychology tries to elevate a perfectly normal person to greater well-being.
It has definitely impacted the way I approach life coaching. I try to bring this positive perspective to identifying and figuring out ways to improve my client’s life. Positive psychology has a lot to offer in this domain whether it’s through an understanding of flow and optimal experience or the impact of positive emotions, gratitude, savoring etc. It’s an awesome perspective to utilize and I think it has a lot to offer to people who are looking for ways to improve their lives.
Manuel: You have just launched The pyramid of well being. It’s your third ebook. What is new in this ebook and what made you come to write this one?
Sam: I see this e-book as really making clear the process I’ve gone through over the past few years to drastically improve my life. In my last e-book, Regaining Consciousness, I wrote more generally about what it means to live a conscious and purposeful life. In this book I go through the process step-by-step that I, and others, have used to live a more conscious life. I decided to write this e-book because I think I felt like I had left a gap in the subject after writing Regaining Consciousness. I did a pretty good job explaining why you would what to live more consciously and why it’s important, but I didn’t really dig into HOW to live more consciously. That’s the gap that I’ve tried to fill with The Pyramid of Well-Being.
Manuel: You talk about others. Who have been your inspirations?
Sam: I definitely took the bulk of what I write about from my own life. I realized that the process I was going through seemed very natural and I began to wonder if other people experienced something similar. I started talking to other people who had similar devotions to personal development and picked their brains about how they approached it. Obviously, not everyone had the same process as me. However, between my informal discussions with friends and close observation of my own behavior I realized that I was on to something that might be helpful to others. As I learned more about the framework I started letting it inform my coaching process and the clients I worked with were very enthusiastic about the results.
Manuel: How is this ebook supposed to be approached?
Sam: The pyramid metaphor that I use throughout the book is a helpful way to think about how each step builds upon the others. I’m hesitant to tell anyone how the book is SUPPOSED to be approached. However, the basic idea is that you would read one level, spend some time working through the ideas and concepts presented in that level, and then move on to the next stage after feeling like you digested everything. If you read the book, you’ll see that several times through the course of it I suggest that the reader goes back and re-reads some earlier sections. Although I think these different ideas build on each other, like a pyramid, some of the things you discover about yourself higher up in the pyramid can be very useful at the lower levels. So although I use a pyramid as the predominant metaphor in this book, a circle might also be a good way to think of it.
Manuel: Thank you so much Sam for answering this interview.
You can visit Sam at SamSpurlin.com, a great resource for personal development and life coaching. Sam invited me to be an affiliate for his ebook. That means 50% of each sale through In Space We Trust will go to Sam and 50% to support my work on this blog. I recently talked about how I felt about affiliate links, I don’t use them often and I don’t want to start to sell to you just any book I read. However I believe The Pyramid of Well Being resonates with some topics I talk about here and is definitely of great interest for you. That’s why I’m proposing it to you today.
Thank you for taking some of your time reading this. If you liked this interview, I would love if you could share it with anyone you know who would be interested in personal development and positive psychology.