Suffocated By Paradise


I recently heard the story of Chris Burkard (watch below).

Early in his career he said his life was filled with, “blue skies, warm, tropical beaches, and a tan that lasts all year long.” I’m jealous already.

“To me,” he continued, “this was it! Life could not get any better.”

You see, Chris is a surf photographer, and a good one. He spent his days with a camera in hand, traveling from tropical beach to tropical beach and he loved it. Or so he thought.

Surprisingly, he said that the more he lived this life, filled with the “trappings” of the world’s tourist destinations, the more he felt “suffocated” by it.

Chris: “I set out for adventure, and instead I found routine.”

Isn’t that interesting. He was living a life that most of us would give the shirt of our back for (of necessity) and he didn’t find happiness in it. Why? I’m confused.

So, Chris began a “personal crusade against the routine.” He started looking for surf locations that others had written off as “too cold, too remote, or too dangerous.” He found what he was looking for on his first trip to Iceland.

Me: I don’t surf, but when I do, I don’t surf in Iceland!

The surf spot was hard to reach and when they finally got there it was cold, really cold. One time they had to weave through huge ice blocks on the sand just to get to the shiver inducing water. His hands were so cold and numb, at times, that he had a hard time snapping the shutter on his camera.

Despite the difficulty, Chris said he found a sense of joy and clarity on this trip that he was missing. He then spent the rest of his career going to these unlikely surf spots taking some amazing pictures.

His whole point: he found joy through the shivering.

I love his story, mostly because of what I’ve learned from pondering it. Is it true that all good things in life come through sacrifice, through struggle, through difficulty, or through, yes, shivering?

In pondering this question and Chris’ story I’ve formulated what I’m calling the pattern of good and bad decisions. Creative, I know. 🙂 Suggestions welcome.

A Pattern of Bad Decisions

I think all (or most bad) decisions follow this pattern: one step forward, two steps back. The step forward is instant, it’s gratification, it’s easy; and the step backwards comes slowly but surely and subtly through time. Can you think of a bad decision that doesn’t follow this? I haven’t. There are some that seem break the mold, but upon further analysis, I can usually make a case.

One easy example is drug use. Drugs give an instant high and the consequences come slowly. Drugs change brain chemistry causing a user to focus increasingly on the drug at the detriment of their family, career, and health, among other good things. They cause addiction that deadens the persons ability to freely choose. Many drugs cause harm to the body that is only felt through time.

Because the two steps back come slowly, some people unwisely believe that they never come. When a bad decision becomes a habit, they can trap us in an exponential path to misery.

At first its like, ooh, aah, yeah. Everything seems to be going great and then BAM, the steps backward start catching up!

Time knows only truth.

In Chris’ story, it took time to see that his dream career filled with ease couldn’t offer him what he was looking for.

Why Is This Important?

This pattern can not only help us make better decisions and to judge our past decisions, they also show why bad decisions are so deceptive. At first, all our senses leads us to believe that a bad decision is, in fact, a good decision.

It is only slowly but surly and subtly through time that we realize how bad it really was.

A Pattern of Good Decisions

Like good to bad, the pattern of good decisions is the exact opposite of bad decisions. It is one step backward, two steps forward. The step backward is quick, it’s sacrifice, it’s a little bit of shivering; and the two steps forward come slowly but surely and subtly through time. Can you think of any good decision that doesn’t follow this pattern?

A great example of this pattern is exercise. It takes our time now, it is hard, and it hurts (if you’re doing it right!); and the two steps forward come slowly, sometimes so slowly we don’t even notice. Through time we start to feel better, we have more energy, we look better, we live longer, and our long life is filled with health.

Many good decisions are missed because people fail to see the end from the beginning. When a good decision becomes a habit, it sets the person on an exponential curve to true happiness, or joy.

one good habit


At first, it’s like ouch, ouch, ouch! Is this really worth the sacrifice? Remember when life was…easier? But if we pay attention, we’ll start to see the subtle steps forward.

Why is this important?

Again, this pattern can not only help us make better decisions and help us judge the decisions of our past, but it can also give us the motivation to make better decisions.

For example, if I want joy in love, work, recreation, spirituality, life…real joy…then I’ve got to be willing to sacrifice for it.

Or said another way, when the need to sacrifice comes, because it will, maybe I’ll have a different attitude about it.

True joy in anything in life…like in Chris’ career…comes through a little bit of shivering.

Watch Chris’ full story here:

About The Author

Ben currently works as a senior developer and technical business consultant outside of Boulder, Colorado.

Read more about Ben

About Buink

Buink Web Development is a development shop founded in 2009 by Ben Buie. For years, Ben built and modified web assets for clients in Utah. In 2011, he moved the company to Colorado and in 2015 he started taking on new clients full-time.

Buink’s Core Values:

  • Cost effective technology (with business strategy in mind)
  • Eloquent, maintainable code
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Dave G.
Dave G.
14:05 13 Aug 23
Buink is a great place to work, as well as a great place to have quality software written. I originally contracted Buink for some web development, and it worked out so well we began working together on many different projects. Definitely an honest transparent company that needs to be considered for... your software more
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Dru M.
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Ben’s a super responsive, thoughtful, sharp and all around great guy to work with. Excellent with his trade. I’d recommend him to anyone. Thanks Ben!
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I reached out to Buink after finding Ben’s name in a local developer/consultant listing in 2017, and I have to say, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with Buink. Ben consistently understands not just the development task laid in front of him but the business application behind the task. I’ve... never felt more comfortable with a development team than I do with Buink. I truly feel Ben and his team are integral partners in the success of my more
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Marilyn F.
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I could not recommend Buink Web Development more highly. Ben and his team have recently developed a budgeting app for me (both web and IOS). I have had the opportunity of working with them for over a year and I am extremely happy with the results.I would say that the biggest plus for me is that I... trust Ben completely. From the very first, Ben has helped me make decisions that were in the best interest of my company. I have never felt like he is taking advantage of me. Ben does his best to keep the whole process very open and upfront. I have really appreciated that.I tell people all the time that I love my developers. And I do. I'm very happy that I chose to use Buink to develop my apps. It was the best business decision I could have made.If you are looking for someone to develop a website or app, I strongly suggest choosing Buink Web Development. They are fantastic!Marilyn Ference, President, Defend Your Money, LLCread more
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James Landon B.
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Great company to help with all your web design needs!
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