(ANTIMEDIA) — If you’ve used social media at all over the last few years, chances are you’ve seen more than one of JP Sears’ hilarious viral videos from his popular Youtube channel, “Awaken with JP.” The brilliant Internet sensation has targeted everything from gluten intolerance and veganism to voting, politicians, and being offended. He’s taken on yoga and spiritual communities, organic food, Burning Man, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Millennials — and he doesn’t shy away from pointing out
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He’s also a staunch believer in peace, tolerance, and inner healing. So how does a veritable internet troll and master of sarcasm square the two? Anti-Media recently spoke to JP Sears in a Skype interview, where he explained how he came to be a viral internet star — his videos have garnered well over 100 million views, and his following is both massive and faithful — and how he uses humor to promote inner healing and human connection.
Sears began his career as an emotional healing coach, helping his clients process and acknowledge their feelings in order to grow and evolve. When he first started making videos in 2013, he fashioned them after this work by focusing on self-help. But as time went on, his approach become more authentic — a theme that remains at the core of his style today.
“About a year and a half into that, which was October 2014,” he said, “ I finally gave myself permission to be more of me and allow my sense of humor to come out, which is to share my perspectives through the language of humor. And that was a big rite of passage for me — to give myself permission to do [that] — because I had made up a story that my sense of humor would be terrible for business.”
But it wasn’t. Instead, audiences reacted enthusiastically to his work and shared his videos across the internet. “ I need to have my voice and stop apologizing for it,” he says he realized — and it worked. His decision to connect with himself — and encourage others to do the same — is something he believes is vital to changing ourselves, and as a result, the world.
“I think as individuals and, honestly, as a society, we tend to posture ourselves where we become very phobic of pain and discomfort,” he said. We discussed how quickly conversations, especially political ones, can become reactive and vitriolic. This, he believes, is a consequence of our tendency to avoid our own inner feelings, projecting them onto the external world, instead.
“I think how we experience the outer world is an incredibly accurate reflection of ourselves,” he said. A good example, he said, is many people’s reactions to President Trump.
“I think the degree that we feel strife with the outer world — whether it’s something to do with Donald Trump or whatever it is — I think are our fearful feelings, angry feelings, our feelings about or undiscovered selves that we’re projecting onto Donald Trump.”
“We all know the old saying ‘What we like about other people is what we like about ourselves, what we dislike about other people is what we dislike about ourselves.’ And that all makes great sense on paper, but once we get emotionally charged, we assume ‘Well that doesn’t apply to me right now because I’m really angry at Trump.’”
Ultimately, he said:
“We as a society, and I mean this in the most loving way … I think we as a society have positioned ourselves as helpless victims bleeding out of power, and we will continue to bleed out our power until we realize that how I experience Donald Trump or whoever is a story about me. I think life is always wanting to show us ourselves.”
JP Sears believes Trump is serving a purpose by shaking people from their expectations of the political realm. Discussing many people’s discontent and hatred toward the president, he observed that it has forced people to recognize that politicians cannot take care of them.
“It’s super uncomfortable yet a necessary step of growth. So, I think that was a disillusionment where we all of a sudden realized ‘Wow! I’m not going to be taken care of the way I want to. So, it’s actually not comfortable anymore for me to lay back on the couch in a passive state being a powerless person and [expecting] someone else in power to take care of me.’ So I think Donald Trump is a huge call to action for all of us to use our own two damn legs to express our own purpose, our own values, and affirm much more self-responsibility.”
In the same vein, he disavows political ideology. “My political philosophy is to not have political philosophies,” he says.
“What I do believe in for sure — and here is the box that I fit in, most of the time, even if not all the time — I believe in people. I care about people, the water, the earth, and dolphins.”
Most importantly, he believes human connection is paramount:
“I think connection is the other core principle of my beliefs. It’s important to connect to self, connect to others. I think the more we disconnect, whether it’s [through] war — physical war or emotional war or mental war — the more we disconnect, the more we suffer.”
Unsurprisingly, JP Sears doesn’t believe political language is the best way to foster connection. “I think it is an incredibly low vibrational, low consciousness trap of a language,” he said. “I think political language is not engineered to understand, accept or connect. I think it’s a language based out of the building blocks of separation.”
“If you want to speak it, cool, but just don’t live in the basement,” he added.
Rather, to really promote connection and conversation, he believes we must allow ourselves to be authentic and present with ourselves and others — not just preach about our views.
“What we can do is start talking about ourselves and own our points of view. I think, first, it’s so easy for us to look out at the world, look at Trump, look at wars, and talk about every damn thing other than ourselves. So, what we don’t realize oftentimes is if we’re not allowing ourselves to be in the conversation then we’re literally not giving anybody anything to connect with.”
“When we’re talking about the outer world, I believe we can humbly own our opinions…We can still be passionate, [but] whenever we start speaking in absolutes, we lose people, and the truth is that’s because righteousness isn’t fun to connect with.”
“I think one of the reasons why we start preaching from an absolute perspective is we’re afraid we’re not going to be heard…Ironically, I think when we’re humble — like, ‘This is my point of view and I’m not going to apologize for it but I’m going to own it’ — I think there’s more fear that we will be unheard. Yet we will be heard more, in my opinion.
Even in his efforts to avoid political language and foster connection, Sears’ videos often address political topics. Last year, he made a video in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and also produced one calling out the absurdity of the electoral college. But he says he won’t make videos unless he’s truly familiar with the subject matter (he’s a member of yoga and spiritual communities and is, himself, gluten-free). In other words, he doesn’t seek to preach at people.
“With the Standing Rock video, if I jumped on a camera and started preaching — even in a respectful way, even in a calm way — I guarantee not as many people would have watched it. More importantly, I guarantee not as many people would have heard the message.”
Instead, he uses humor — and he does it exceedingly well.
“To me, humor can be an awakening language where we listen and consider something that we otherwise wouldn’t even listen to in the first place,” he said. “So, how that works, in my delusional opinion, is that humor is a language of connection, full stop.”
“When a perspective is shared with us through humor, it doesn’t look like anything is there for us to get mentally defensive about it, and that’s because there isn’t. Humor is a playful language,” he says. Unlike political language, “It’s not a threatening language, it’s not a forceful, interrogating, yelling language.”
Through all the hilarity, sarcasm, and viral content he makes, JP Sears goal, ultimately, is to nurture acceptance and inner growth.
“Acceptance, period,” he says — not only accepting what we agree with. “Otherwise it’s not acceptance, just an approval-based relationship… I think when we can learn to accept even that which we disagree with, we’re much more in our hearts,” which is monumentally important.
“I think our heart knows the way, even if we don’t know that our heart is the way.”
Most importantly, he says, “the goal is to help people wake up to the importance of embracing themselves.”
Watch all of JP’s videos here.