Director Tom Shadyac may be best known for his successful comedies ("Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"; "The Nutty Professor"; "Liar, Liar"), but the 54-year-old personally is today more interested in sharing what he believes are the keys to a life worth living - and the change in thinking we all need to get there.
Shadyac has been seeking a more enlightened path for over a decade. It wasn't until a bicycling accident in 2007 brought him to near-death that he decided to start living a more simple life - giving away his vast fortune to charity, opening up a homeless shelter in Virginia, selling off his 17,000-square-foot mansion in Pasadena, Ca. and moving into a a 1,000-square-foot mobile home.
"The more I give away the wealthier I feel," he told CBS News. "For everything I 'gave up', so much more was returned. The trappings of fame and fortune are exactly that - a trapping. It's called the spoils of success for a reason."
Shadyac began sharing his vision for a better world through the 2011 documentary "I Am" – which explores his personal journey, "the nature of humanity" and "world's ever-growing addiction to materialism." More recently, he's published a book called “Life’s Operating Manual."
"The book is called Life's Operating Manual because I actually believe there's an operating manual for life," Shadyac said during a recent Reddit AMA. "You've probably heard people say, 'Man, if only life came with an operating manual!' I'm telling you that it does! The hope of the book is to put people in touch with their own hearts, with their own power, so each of us can participate in birthing a more loving, kind, compassionate world."
In the interview below with MSN's The Cycle, Shadyac shared that he believes the world need only look to nature to understand how society can better itself.
"Our own economy tells us to take as much as we can get, right? Our own economy says, you're going to be the most successful graduate if you go into the business world and take as much you can get," he says. "That's not how nature works. Nature has a much simpler economy. Everything in nature takes what it needs. That's it. You don't see an oak tree gathering up all the resources. An oak tree takes what it needs to be the authentic oak tree it needs. It's giving to everything else around it. Our economy is broken because of this. We're inside a paradigm that doesn't work.
"I know this is kind of shocking," he adds. "I see the shocked looks. It's outside the paradigm. Nature actually works through intense cooperation. There is competition in nature, but it thrives through cooperation. We don't teach this to our kids. It's actually a violent ideology. It's why kids go into school and bully each other and god forbid do things even worse. Cooperation will become the marching orders of the human species or we're not going to make it."
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