Ep20: Rewiring Your Brain to Be Happier | with Shane Burcaw


As of this week’s episode I have now recorded over 130 interviews with people all over the planet in many different industries with their own unique stories. But with all due respect to every single person I’ve ever interviewed, I can confidently say that talking today with Shane Burcaw was one of the highlights of my life. Rarely do you come across a human being that radiates such positivity, clarity, and confidence. If you don’t walk away from this interview feeling like you can overcome more than you thought you could, and if you don’t feel like you have a clear set of tools to make yourself happier without having to change the circumstances in your life at all, I recommend getting your ears checked because clearly you weren’t listening closely enough.

Shane Burcaw is a co-founder of Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc., an organization dedicated to teaching people how humor can help them overcome their challenges, while also providing vital equipment to people living with muscular dystrophy. Shane is an award-winning author, Emmy-winning producer, and writer of a blog with over 600,000 followers. His nonprofit is responsible for over $60,000 in equipment provided to people living with muscular dystrophy. Shane and his business partner, Sarah, travel the country sharing the powerful idea that a positive mindset and a sense of humor can help anyone effectively overcome their challenges!

And in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, Shane has lived with spinal muscular atrophy since shortly after birth and he’s quadriplegic. For those that don’t know what this means, we’ll talk about it more in today’s episode, but in short…Shane has little to no control of any of his four limbs and he has never walked.

For my listeners that know my history, it’s probably no surprise that I’m so excited about having Shane on my show because I dedicated eight years of my life directing and producing the documentary film GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story (narrated by Mark Hamill) about the first quadriplegic to become a certified scuba diver who was also one of the national poster children for the Muscular Dystrophy Association alongside Jerry Lewis back in the days of the Labor Day telethons. Christopher was not only the subject of this documentary, but he was also one of my closest friends who stood next to me at my wedding which unfortunately was the last time I saw him alive. But chatting today with Shane brought back so many memories of conversations I used to have with Christopher.

If you’d like to learn more about my documentary you can visit gofarmovie.com, and you can also rent it for .99 cents right now on itunes, just go to gofarmovie.com/itunes to learn more. With over 250 5-star ratings, I promise you’ll get your money’s worth, and hopefully more.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • The power of a willful mindset in the face of adversity
  • “Everybody has a disability”
  • How Shane uses humor to overcome difficult circumstances
  • Enabling yourself to realize when you are creating your own obstacles
  • Shane’s successful and occasionally unsuccessful athletic stories
  • Processing hurtful media portrayals of physically handicapped individuals
  • Recognizing when you have the power to improve your own situations
  • Accepting circumstances you can’t control, so they don’t end up controlling you
  • Learning to ask yourself, “Is this going to matter in ten years?”
  • “Why not spend time loving as much as we can and exploring our passions? It’s a hell of a better time to try and do good in the world.”
  • You don’t have to feel guilty for not saving the world.
  • What one thing made you smile today? When you are mindful of your joy, it will show up everywhere.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

GOFAR Movie

Shane Burcaw: Laughing at My Nightmare

Muscular Dystrophy Association

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

This episode is made possible by the HumanCharger,  a revolutionary new light therapy device made specifically for people who spend long days in the dark and don’t get enough sunlight…i.e. You and me. Simply put in the earbuds for 12 minutes a day to receive your daily recommended dosage of UV-free white light. Doing so can drastically increase your energy, improve your mood, and increase mental alertness and focus.This device has literally changed my life and I use it every morning without fail. Use the code ‘OPTIMIZE’ to get 20% off your order.

Guest Bio:

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Shane Burcaw is a co-founder of Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc., an organization dedicated to teaching people how humor can help them overcome their challenges, while also providing vital equipment to people living with muscular dystrophy. Shane is an award-winning author, Emmy-winning producer, and writer of a blog with over 600,000 followers. His nonprofit is responsible for over $60,000 in equipment provided to people living with muscular dystrophy. Shane and his business partner, Sarah, travel the country sharing the powerful idea that a positive mindset and a sense of humor can help anyone effectively overcome their challenges!

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).


Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”

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