Tips for Getting Life Off Default Mode.

Tips for Getting Life Off Default Mode.

Hey everybody! In this post I’m talking to you about Living Life on Default Mode.

So, what is Default Mode? Well thanks for asking!

Default Mode is about living life in the comfort zone, it is about minimal risk. It is neglecting to experiment with and expand our lives in a positive way!

Living this way requires no real creativity.

This Psychology Today Article claims that “Creativity of all types is a premier form of psychological adaptation.

Now I’m not just talking about just writing, drawing, and all that kind of creativity.

Creativity is simply about using our energy to affect change in the world in any form. Well.. Change that goes along with the morals we adhere to, of course.

If I create outside my morals, there is possible guilt and shame to deal with.

I have heard many times and said many times that “idle hands are the devil’s playthings”.


This is said to mean that when we don’t busy ourselves with productive things, we are likely going to start causing some problems!

The problems can start innocent enough, maybe telling a few more fibs than usual. But, if the devil is allowed to play for too long the more intense the problems become increasingly mischievous.

I am an addict in recovery. Before i got clean, my problems were of high intensity. I was dying and killing other people around me.

The reality of my past hints at what awaits me if i do not take enough healthy risks and make enough healthy commitments.

The years i was rapidly destroying my life, I don’t contribute to living life on Default. That was a different beast altogether!

That’s what I call Addiction.

In recovery I have heard the Disease of Addiction described as having to live an amped up form of what it is to be human.

This means, higher intensity of emotion, intensity of thinking, and intensity of desire. And lets not forget intensity of anxiety!

By this logic, I must also have a high intensity of creative energy!

Actually, so much energy at times that I have no clue what to do with it. And all this energy, when not used responsibly becomes intense anxiety.

I just mentioned the addiction part because that is what I have to deal with! Many others have there own energy burden to bare..

I am fully aware that every human being has huge pools of creative energy. Whether an addict or not, that energy needs to find its way into the world!

Above i said that Life on Default is life in the comfort zone. Or maybe more like the habit of reducing anxiety to as much of a degree as possible.

Staying comfortable may be attractive. But seeking comfort for too long turns into the habit of living on Default.

The dilemma I find is that whether I choose to create, or refuse to, there is going to be anxiety.

When I choose to create, I get the anxiety up front. Because to create is to challenge myself, and doing things that challenge me can be stressful!

The funny thing is that more often than not, when I am sliding into Default Mode, I don’t even realize it. I may fool myself into thinking that i don’t need to challenge myself like I once needed to.

Even still, whether I know I am holding onto too much creative energy or not, there will be psychological consequences.

Over time that “old anxiety devil” begins talking more loudly, and guiding me to act in ways that may not be acceptable.

Now I hope you aren’t thinking that I am talking about some sort of evil possession. Just, that the energy I don’t create with is going to find a way to do so!

We seem to be back full circle to the area where I am in danger of Addiction rearing its ugly head. Also in the spot where most human beings are going to find themselves working with unproductive stress.

This is likely the time when poor decisions find themselves being much more easily made!

If you are following up this point I hope you are getting the picture that being sufficiently creative is necessary for good health. And not creating sufficiently is hard on humans of all Mental and Emotional capacities.

Don’t worry I am not saying that we all need to be GO GO GO all the time! Just that a balance needs to be struck between being comfy, and using our creative energies.

In the last post I put out titled “Making the Commitment to Live Life”, I laid out my history with making positive commitments.

To tie that article into this article I think we need a list! A list of tips for staying in the right headspace for making positive commitments, and keeping ourselves in the drivers seat of OUR OWN LIVES.



  1. Surround ourselves with healthy people that will push us to take healthy risks.
  2. Keep ourselves out of Fearful Thinking.
  3. Develop Self-Awareness to get in touch with our own Consciences.
  4. Use a Therapeutic Writing practice to stay in touch with our emotional states.
  5. Set aside relaxation time to recharge our own batteries.
  6. Develop as much Gratitude as possible.
  7. Share the gift of our creative energies with other people, be of service.
  8. Teach all that we learn, to others.
  9. Allow ourselves to stretch our abilities to learn new things.
  10. Take plenty of opportunities to just breathe and be cool with the present moment.

Using these tips basically everyday of my life, I don’t know where I would be without them…

I have been able to guide a brain that so easily slides into insanity, and use it to create consistent success that I am very proud of living!

Alright folks, so that is about all that I have for you today!

Thank you all so much for stopping by and checking out My Life Experiment. If you find this article helpful, please give it a share on your social media to help spread our message!

Also if you enjoy our content and would like to receive them directly to your email, and receive a printable Therapeutic Writing Guide, then go ahead and sign up for our email list!

As well, If you would like any of these tips expanded upon, go ahead and stop by our Facebook page and send us a message!

Much Love,

Travis Hagen



I can Accomplish Anything, and so can You!


Being a first time parent had me thinking that it would be next to impossible to accomplish many things!

Being that baby is here who needs lots of attention. In the last month I have proven this to be wrong.

It turns out that I have survived motherhood since my husband has gone back to work! Like I had worries about in my last article. What a transition!

She keeps me busy, challenges me, and fills my heart so full of love.

I enjoy every second with her, even when she squirts poop all over me. With anyone else’s kid I probably would have been completely disgusted, but I found myself laughing when she did this. My whole world has changed.

I have survived bringing her to recovery meetings with me even though I was terrified of anyone touching her (I know over protective mother), carried on through the nights and days even though I really want to sleep. Also, I have made it through some hard emotions and have cried a lot.

One of the most challenging parts for me is finding the balance between being a parent, recovery, and staying connected with others. Maintaining balance is crucial for my mental health.

But, the thing is I have made it through. I CAN, AND AM DOING IT.


I want to backtrack a bit for a clearer understanding on why this is such a profound thing for me. Although being a parent is a profound thing for everyone, I feel there is a deeper reason for these feelings.

Currently I am six years clean. I have spent this time building up my life to what it is today. But, there was a point before I got here that I couldn’t have imagined this life for myself. I remember quite vividly the moment in active addiction when I settled for the life that I had.

I was sitting outside on my step smoking a cigarette (I quit 5 years ago) and thinking about all the things that I would NEVER accomplish in my life.

I thought that I would never stop using, go to college, get married (or be in a healthy relationship for that matter), have a safe home, or have a family of my own. These are all things that I deeply wanted to accomplish while when I was younger.

This was such a horrible and sinking feeling, and the saddest part is that I was accepting it!

I was doing the best with what I had. What I had wasn’t much and there were many of things that I needed to learn. I was such a broken person and I broke everything around me as well.

What I didn’t know is that I could find a new way to live. Sure, I tried to “stop” using one drug or the other thinking that it might help solve some problems, but I could never fathom the idea of quitting them all.

Not admitting that I had a problem or knowing that I could live a better life kept me sick for a long time

After going to court on several occasions, good things finally started to happen. The judge finally sent me to treatment for addiction. At the time I thought it was ridiculous. There was a part of me wanted that safety. I was finally going to get away from the life that I hated living.

I stayed for several months in a facility in Fargo, ND. It was the best thing that had happened to me in years.

I started a new life clean while discovering who I really was. This is when all those things I settled for never having started to happen. The longer I stayed clean the better my life became.

I went to college, met my husband, got married, bought a house, and had a child. All of this became possible because the recovery program I attend showed me that I could get clean, stay clean, and find a new way to live.

It might sound funny but, I am grateful for everything that has ever happened to me. All the trauma that I went through and all that I did lead me to where I am now. Had things been different who knows if I would be here today.

I didn’t choose to be an addict. Some days I feel that it chose me. I am here to make a difference now. Even if I only touch one person’s life I know that I have done enough.

The point is, is that I did it. I got through it all and came out on the other side.

I believe that no matter what happens in life we can always move forward and do the things we think are impossible.

Maybe you are not an addict like myself, but of course we all go through our own hardships. If you are working through a tough time, please take note of a few things!

  1. There is a way through the pain!
  2. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished and the steps you are taking and have taken to get there.
  3. Remember that you are worth it and never forget that.

Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to read this! Feel free to share this post with others. I hope you all have a great day!


Finding Our Genius Through Social Comparison.

“Everyone is a genius. But If you judge a fish by Its ability to climb a tree, it will live Its whole life believing that it is stupid,”

Albert Einstein


I immediately enjoyed this quote when I first found it some years back. I enjoy it because it has deep truth for me. On some level it seems like it would have to have some meaning for everybody.

I was lost for many years, judging where I was in my life compared the people around me. With the years I spent getting my butt handed to me dealing with addiction, I watched a lot of people “grow up.” All the while, my life was backsliding into oblivion.

I remember clearly, wondering how people could get up and go to work every day! It blew my mind that people continually just went on with there lives day after day after day. All the while these people were not needing to use chemicals the way I did. I couldn’t fathom how they did this.

Today it isn’t as much of a mystery to me how people show up their lives day after day. I have been doing this quite well for the last 9 years in recovery. But when I couldn’t fathom it, I felt very stupid for not being able.

In the last 9 years I have had a great deal of success, accomplishing many things. I am not left wondering how people get up and go to work day after day, because now I do this!

Social Comparison

Even though I have had more success than I could have imagined before I made it to recovery, this social comparison piece of my brain is still busy, often!

It is way too easy to focus on people around me, see what they are up to in their lives, and judge my situation accordingly. If I envy what they are doing, I may get the feeling of being inferior to them. And if I don’t envy them, I may get the feeling that I am superior.

This tendency to compare can get excruciatingly annoying, especially when I see someone’s coming out in an area that mine does not. But I also don’t feel good when I get the feeling of being better than someone.

Letting Social Comparisons go to my head really is a double-edged sword. It is difficult to win either way!

I don’t feel that either of these conclusions are ACTUALLY correct. It is pure habit. I am no better or worse than anyone else. And it is possible to not get stuck in the feelings of superiority or inferiority.

From Social Comparison to Learning New Skills

There is something good to be taken out of the act of comparing ourselves to others. I just have to be more mindful of how I interpret the data!

What I mean by this is that when I am seeing someone as better than me, that doesn’t actually mean they are better than me. It just may be an area where they shine, and I do not.

I think envy has a way of showing me what I desire though. If I didn’t have an interest in an activity, I wouldn’t have envy and I wouldn’t care if someone shines more than me. Getting over my self, I can actually see if this person will teach me what they know!

In recovery I have been taught that if I want something that someone has, then I better be willing to make the effort to get it.

Go get it ,or drop it and move on to something else, since resentment is a go nowhere proposition for me.

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So, if I want to learn how to be a great leader or run a successful online business, or whatever else I desire to learn, then I better seek out information from those whose genius shows in these areas! I better do the research, follow directions, do the work, then rinse and repeat until the desire is manifested.

We all Have our Own Abilities

If after all that time and effort the dream doesn’t manifest, then it is possible that I was chasing the wrong dream. Maybe that is me being a fish that is trying to climb a tree!

I don’t think it is likely that we are all going to jump right into the activities that puts our genius on display. Though some people do!

If you are anything like me, finding the outlets for personal genius is a process of elimination. Meaning that I make attempts at multiple areas to succeed in, and through the process I wean out what is not for me. I also narrow down where my genius is likely to shine!

Either way, even though my genius doesn’t show in an area doesn’t mean that any extra skills I pick up won’t be useful!


In Conclusion

Everyone has their genius level areas! I tell myself this when I catch myself thinking I am superior to others skills. Also reminding myself of my own genius when I am feeling inferior to the skill of others.

On my good days, I am able to give others and myself the benefit of the doubt. Meaning that I choose to say that just because I am not seeing others or my own genius in action, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. I am just not seeing it!

I know that there is always more to the story. There is always more potential genius laying in wait in all the people I surrounded by. And there is always more potential genius in myself!

Today I am even closer to recognizing my genius areas than yesterday, mainly because I have taken the time to investigate it in front of all of you! 

Thank you for stopping in to be reminded of the genius that exists in the world and in yourselves! If you enjoyed what you read, please give this post a share on your social media!

Also to stay connected to My Life Experiment through your email, and to receive a copy of our Free Therapeutic Writing Guide, then sign up for our email list on the sidebar. 🙂

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Much Love,

Travis H



Game Plan for Avoiding Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum depression is something that affects from 1 to 7 of women after childbirth according to the American Psychological Association. 

One of the best moments of my life was when I held my little girl for the first time! At first, I was in shock and the next moment I fell in love. Also, when I looked into my husband’s eyes, I feel even more in love with him.

This has been one of the biggest transitional periods of my life but, it is worth every second!

In a way I feel as though I am going through a grieving process. I am letting go of the life of just my husband and me. Now we share our world with our new little girl, Ada.

I have gone through a lot in my life, which means several transitions.

-I left my old unhealthy life of using, to getting clean and finding a new way to live.

-I learned how to step out of physical and emotional isolation and went from hating myself to loving myself.

-I learned how to develop healthy relationships with others and maintain a life that I enjoy living.

These are all examples of significant transitions that I went through. But, none of these seem as big as the one that I am currently experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, I am so in love with this little girl that we brought into the world, and motherhood is simply amazing.


My husband and I have waited a long time to meet her and she is everything that I could have ever dreamed of! That being said, our lives completely changed the moment she was born.

Now I am going through strong emotions and almost everything makes me cry. I have been able to laugh through most of these moments, which is extremely important. This lets me know that everything is truly okay and that I don’t need to let these feelings take over. With all of this there is definitely some fear that I feel.

I knew this event would change a lot of things for us. The other night I cried as I told my husband that I missed going to bed at the same time, as we take shifts so that we can both get some sleep.

Later I was able to laugh at myself! It is such a small thing in the grand scheme of everything.

I confessed that I was scared for when he goes back to work. I feel fear of course that things might be too hard by myself. Keeping myself accountable for my feelings and sharing them with him has helped me a tremendous amount.

Deep down I know that I can do this, that I am a great mother. I know that everything will be just fine when I am home alone with Ada. Sure, there are going to be some rough days but, I have more support than I could ever ask for.

So now I feel that it is important for me to have a plan in place so that I do not fall into postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is something that affects from 1 to 7 of women after childbirth according to the American Psychological Association. And this is not a state that I will be falling into!

Without a game plan I will lack structure, balance, and accountability. These three things have always been important for me to maintain a healthy balance in life. I have come up with a few things so far to help me obtain this goal.

1. Keep talking to others- because this gets the fear and anxiety out of my head. This allows me to receive feedback from others. It also allows other people to know how to be there for me. I need to let others know what I need right now so that they know I need their help.

2. Believe in myself- because this helps to eliminate self-doubt. I know that I can do this and that I am not alone. I am a good mother and that Ada has all that she needs. When things get tough, believing in myself will help me to see the other side.

3. Getting to meetings- because this has always been one thing that helps me to maintain consistent balance in my life. I can go there and share how I am feeling and I always leave feeling better than I did when I got there. I cannot use Ada as an excuse for not being able to get to a meeting!

4. Keep breathing- because this is something that helps me to relax. When I forget to breath I become wound up and I have no release of negative energy. Taking deep breaths keeps me in the moment, which is exactly where I need to be.

5. Enjoy the current moment for exactly what it is– because this allows me to stay away from falling into depression. When I focus on the current moment I am not worrying about everything else.

6. Making time for Travis and myself- because it is important for us to have our time together. Although every moment we spend with Ada is wonderful, we still need to have our moments together as well. Our date nights will still exist!

So far, I feel that I have come up with a great plan for myself. Making a practice out of it is the next step and positive results will come because of this, without a doubt.

If you are finding yourself in a similar position, first of all please find your supports. Don’t try to deal with this process alone. If that means professional support and finding the right medication, then go that route as well!

Well, that is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed what you read. Please feel free to share this post with others. Have a good day!

This Fortunate Individual in Recovery

Hey There! Travis here for My Life Experiment.

So, the time finally arrived for my wife to bring our first child into the world at 4:27 a.m. on April 6th!

Now I am relaxing on paternity leave with my new family, soaking up the reality of my new life.

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Today, as I was laying down to take a nap after rocking in the chair with Ada Ray, I began thinking about how fortunate I am.

I feel fortunate for a couple of reasons.

I am ridiculously grateful to be able to have the pleasure of hanging out with my baby. Another thing I have been thinking about is how crazy it is that I have ended up at this place in life.

Something I have made clear on My Life Experiment, is that I am an addict in recovery.

There was a time in my life when I was at an extreme bottom, my liver and pancreas were very sick. And my mental, emotional and spiritual health were virtually decimated.

I was a 26 year old little boy, very scared, and hopelessly lost. My chance at any sort of better life was quickly fading way.

Fortunately, the state of being I knew then, is a state of being that is distant in the past. Though also close to my heart so that I don’t forget where I’ve come from.

Today I am living in the manifested possibilities that I could have never imagined possible in 2008!

My new live has all been made possible because of the recovery program I follow. It has helped me keep my mind in reality and have healthier, mutually enjoyable relationships!

Over the last TWO YEARS ALONE I have been able to:

1. Graduate from College- A lot of money was spent on multiple attempts at college years 19-23. I simply could not stop using long enough to get my head straight. The failed attempts did a great deal to fuel my shame and convince myself that I was not a very smart dude. But December 2015, I received Bachelors’ Degrees, in Philosophy and Psychology, earning a 3.75 GPA. Not bad for someone who received 45 days of suspension his senior year of High School, and a D- average throughout his high school career! It felt amazing to rewrite the history of my past failed attempts and wasted resources!

2. Got Married- The history of romantic relationships throughout my life was a complete mess before recovery. I put myself in dangerous situations to maintain them. I also spent many years isolating myself from potential relationships, after an early heartbreak that I used to amplify my using. But October 2016, I married a wonderful woman and the cowriter of My Life Experiment!

3. Bought a House- Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I would be able to live in my own house! My life before recovery was mainly about cramming multiple people into single bedroom apartments, basement dwelling, and running back to my parents place after another failed attempt at living somewhere else. On December 15th of 2017, my wife and I moved into our new house!

4. Became a Father- As I said above Ada Ray came into the world just 6 days ago in the wee hours of the morning. Of all the other beautiful developments that have arrived in my life, I don’t know if any of them can top her arrival. I was pretty much convinced that with the way I treated my body for so many years, that I wasn’t going to be able to become a dad. But here she is now, crazy beautiful and has my heart forever.

I put this list together to reflect on the crazy journey my life has been from active addiction and into recovery. Reflecting on these life victories, has me feeling very fortunate that I didn’t die and that I found this new way to live!

This list also represents lost hopes and dreams that reawakened in the course of my journey!

I didn’t create this list to brag about getting my way in life to all of you. But, definitely to attempt to inspire a little hope into some that may feel hopeless about potentially recovering their lives. And thus, even more hope for myself.

I know that feeling of hopelessness very well. But now know that it need never return at that level.

Whether in recovery from active addiction or other mental illness, there is hope! There is a path back to sanity. I found mine in a program for addicts!

But there are mutual support groups for all sorts of personalities, disorders, and traumatized individuals.

There are resources available. If you are struggling please reach out and find them. You are worth it 😊

I know that reality can seemed stacked against us when it comes to thinking of the lost time and all the family members we might have hurt. But there is no time to waste, get help as soon as possible, and get on the path to wake up your lost hopes and dreams!

Recovery support

Here are few a web pages set up to help individuals get hooked up with support! This website is a national resource with links to help find the nearest treatment centers to you, the Suicide Prevention line and other great mental health support resources. Website for Narcotics Anonymous. Despite the name, NA is not just for users of Narcotics, but all sorts of substance use disorders (whether diagnosed or not). If you are looking to stop using any type of drug (including alcohol), and recovering your life, then check it out. Website for Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous focuses on recovery from alcoholism. If you are looking to stop drinking and recovering your life, then check it out.

Life is a beautiful thing. I have not always been able to see that life is beautiful, but now I consistently live in this reality.

And now, because of the fortune I have had in recovery, I have great hope to know that only more amazing opportunities and experience is possible.

I have no idea what my life is going to look like over the next 5 years, but what I do know is that the path I am on will ensure that it will be amazing!

Thank you for checking out My Life Experiment today, it was my pleasure to fill you in on more of my experience.

As well as the resources above, Therapeutic Writing has been a tremendously helpful habit to keep. If you join My Life Experiments email list on the sidebar, you will receive a printable copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide. You will also receive our articles directly to your email.

Thank you kindly, and have a great day!

Much Love,
Travis Hagen

Anxiety in a Joyous Time

Anxiety in a Joyous Time

By: Casey Hagen

I have experienced great excitement in my life on several different occasions, but each of those events doesn’t even seem to come close to the level of excitement that I have for bringing my baby Ada into this world with my husband. Our lives are about to drastically change, and we are ready. Although there is also great anxiety!

At this point we are waiting in anticipation to lay eyes on our little girl for the first time. The house has been filling up with things for her and her room is finally finished. To see the bassinette in the bedroom, to sit in the new rocking chair, and to wash and fold her tiny cloths are all things that fuel this excitement.

I picture her sleeping, crying, smiling, crawling, and the laughter of each of us as we enjoy these moments. I even picture the messy house, sleepless nights, and the dirty diapers. We are ready! I love each of these thoughts as they come up and I feel an immense amount of gratitude. I even feel gratitude for the hard moments that are about to come as well because it is all part of the process.

But to go along with all this excitement there is plenty of worry and anxiety. When I first learned that I was pregnant I had to quickly wean off a certain medication that I was on. It helped me with depression and anxiety symptoms. This has been difficult for me at certain points throughout my pregnancy.

I work a customer service job and I have noticed a significant increase in anxiety when it comes to talking with people. When it comes to any type of confrontation I feel like I am ready to crawl out of my own skin. And now that we are down to the last few weeks everything physically and mentally seems so hard. One thought that helps is knowing that this will not last forever.

This is all completely uncharted territory for both my husband and I and new experiences can be scary. From time to time I wonder whether I will be a good enough mom or worry about the birthing process. It’s ok, even normal to feel some amount of anxiety for what’s coming.

Right now it is so important for me to take care of myself so that I can be in the best spot mentally when Ada is born!

This means that I need to continue the practice of feeling grateful, keep talking about these feelings of anxiety so that i am not harboring them all to myself, and continuing to maintain a healthy daily routine  no matter how uncomfortable I am emotionally.

When I am practicing gratitude in all my affairs I start to feel better. Thoughts like “I can’t do this, or I am not good enough,” turn into thoughts of loving myself and knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to do. Gratitude has the ability to turn my mood around.

This has been one area that I have been lacking in at work and I can see the impact that it has on how I am interacting with people. It makes for a long and hard day when I fail to focus on why I am grateful.

The reason that I find it so important to continue to talk about my feeling of anxiety is because it seems to lessen those feelings. I am able to listen to feedback from others and keep myself accountable to what is going on.

Maintaining a healthy daily routine will help keep balance in my life especially when everything feels so hectic. This will take stress off my shoulders and allow me to feel somewhat normal right now.

As long as I am focusing on these things I know that I will be ok. I WILL be in the best place I can be. In fact, I already am!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my article. If you like what you read today please feel free to share on social media. You can also click to be put on the email list as well. Until next time.



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