The ‘Oola’ Book Helps Runners Find Balance
We are all just trying to be our best lives. And while this popular phrase is said all the time now, two men are on a mission to give runners—and everyone else—the tools to make it possible. To live your best life in this sense means to be living the Oola Life, the state of awesomeness where everything is balanced. This is the message in the international bestseller Oola: Find Balance in An Unbalanced World.
Ooh La La!
Oola: Find Balance in An Unbalance World and Oola for Women: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World are the Chicken Soup for the Soul for this generation. More than a self-help book, the books don’t tell readers how to live a better and balanced life.
“The majority of people know how to do something,” author Dr. Dave Braun told RunnerClick. This includes using Google to find a half marathon training plan. Instead, it helps make clear the “why” when it comes to living for you and finding the person’s passion and setting the path to reach their goals.
“What most people don’t tap into is the why. What we say in Oola is that there are enough people telling you how to live your life,” Braun said. “We don’t want to tell you how. We want to tell you why you should live your Oola life and your purpose in life.”
The idea is that if the person taps into the why they want to do something, even on days they are lacking motivation, they will still be inspired to work towards that goal.
So what’s with the name? Oola is “derived from the French expression oh-la-la!.” It is a “state of awesomeness,” a balanced life that is growing in the seven key areas of life. It also refers to the plan for achieving this balance.
Written by Dr. Dave Braun, the Oola seeker, and Dr. Troy Amdahl, the Oola guru, the Oola Life is all about changing one’s mindset to always be striving to be the best version of oneself—and to always look to keep bettering oneself. Friends for years, Amdahl taught Braun the Oola way of life back in 1997. “The reason why I was doing Oola even before 1997 was because it was for me to protect me from me,” Amdahl told RunnerClick. “Meaning I was money-driven, business-driven and I knew that if I was left to myself I would naturally pursue those two things and avoid some other key things.”
Three years later Braun was living his best life, successful in all areas of his life including completing a marathon. But he thought that since he was living the sweet life he didn’t need to work on himself anyone and let “life happen to me.” And it did.
As a result, he found himself in 2010 at rock bottom after losing his business and in the middle of a divorce. After reaching out to the retired Amdahl for advice, it was here where the book begins.
“If I get my life back on track, we have to write a book about this and share this message with the world,” Bruan told RunnerClick while sitting next to Amdahl at the same table where they first started writing the book.
It took the pair three short days to complete the first book, self-publishing and releasing it “without knowing what would happen.”
Not only did Bruan get back his Oola, but the two have helped people around the world reach their own potential.
The books are an easy read. The writers do a great job making it a fast-paced, quick read that is concise, yet explains their teachings and gets the point across using anecdotes along the way. The result is entertaining stories that relatable and helps drive home the ideas expressed.
“Oola is this thing that connects us all. We all have guru seasons and we all have seeker seasons,” Amdahl said. “It’s a beautiful way to self-assess on a regular basis of where we are, but also I don’t think we can see how capable we are, the things we can do and that’s the growth part of it that’s so cool.”
“Be grateful, have faith and have Oola.”
The book teaches that being happy means nourishing all aspects of life—and the message applies to all walks of life of all ages, races, fitness levels, socioeconomic status.
“I think we’ve been punched as a culture,” Amdahl said. “I think we’ve been taught to believe that if you make this much money if you take two vacations a year and have two model cars in the garage you’re going to be happy.”
The idea is that money or career means nothing if a person is struggling with their health.
The authors do a great job at not sounding judgmental or like know-it-alls. They talk about their success and failures, and how they applied the Oola Life way of thinking to change their own lives. To live a balanced Oola Life, one must focus on 7 key areas of life: fitness, finance, family, field (a fancy word or career), faith, friends, and fun. This is the core of the book.
Amdahl painted a picture to RunnerClick about a circus performer that is spinning a bunch of plates. “That’s what we are doing in life with money, relationships, and health,” he said. “What you want to do is catch the wobbling plate before it hits the ground.” This is the area to start working on.
For example, if the runner is dedicated to fitness, working on their PR but can’t pay the rent, finance is an area they need to focus attention on.
They do not talk about getting more exercise and eating healthy. They do not say go to whatever church the reader belongs to more. Instead, the message is to identify which area is making life unbalanced and work in that area. And working in that area is different and unique for everyone.
“Your life is your life. You have to decide how you want to live,” Braun said. “Not how your parents want you to life, your preacher, teachers, want you to live—not anyone. But when you are designing your life and your living your life, you have to look at these seven key areas to live a full and balanced life.”
Not only work on all 7 key areas to live a balanced life but work on them daily to make each area grow. That means reaching for new running or fitness goals, clearing debt or building that savings account, etc.
“One of the reasons why I think it’s been successful as a book and as movement is Oola takes this overwhelming process called life and drills it down into something that’s simple,” Braun said.
It does so by starting with the first step called the Oola Wheel, an assessment at the back of the book that tells the reader where they stand in all the key areas. This calls for the person to be really honest. With this starting point, the reader then asks themselves where do they go from here. “If I pulled away from the self-doubt, the fear—if I was allowed to dream big, what would my life look like if my finances, health, were Oola,” Braun said.
The Oola guys say readers should be open-minded. We might think we want one thing, but dreams can change.
The third step—which many self-help books don’t address—is what this would look like on a daily basis. “What are the actions and steps I’m going to take? I now have a vision of where I want to go in these seven key areas, but when I wake up tomorrow morning, what do I do? What are the actual steps to make that a reality,” Braun said.
This includes a section where readers write their top goals so that hey can figure out where they want to go and what they need to work on first to reach their biggest aspirations. They then advise to then take action on these goals.
The book talks about Oola accelerators and blockers, and how these things like love or laziness can help or hurt the balance, and how to overcome obstacles.
Even though the authors don’t directly say what each reader’s goals should be, Amdahl revealed that after one stop in the van there were at least four people who came to say they lost 100 lbs and credited the book for helping them do so. “What they saw [in the book] is the premise that they are designed for something great. They are designed for more than what they are living now, and you need to seek that out,” he said.
The book doesn’t say drink this green smoothie or that CrossFit is the way to exercise. It does give runners permission to seek their best life. “It’s a concept. It’s not just a fit body,” Amdahl said. “What you put into your body, and also what you put in your mind—and I think it’s a timely issue of mental health—truly if you’re doing well in this category you have balanced fitness and we leave it there. I think everyone understands what that means and they can go make that happen. And everyone is at different starting lines.”
The authors focus on the message that we are capable of more. No matter if that means running that 5k or running that marathon.
Not Just A Book, A Lifestyle—And A Bus
The Oola Life is much more than just a book. It has become a movement.
The Oola guys currently tour the country in a 1970 VW Surf Bus, spreading the Oola way of life and collecting dreams as handwritten stickers (the one the reader needs to change in their life) that are slapped on the bus (that is now 23 layers full).
“None of this is planned. We did the bus because we believe that we can change the world with this message,” Braun said.
Search on social media and readers will see so many people sharing their Oola journey. Some so changed they tattooed Oola on them as a permanent reminder of the lifestyle.
“It becomes a process,” Bruan said. “And that process then becomes a lifestyle,” Bruan said. “We look back a lot, and say do you believe where this is? It’s crazy. We are honored, and it has been a fun ride.”
The Sequel For Women
After reaching success from the first book, the publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul signed the Oola guys on for a publishing deal. Thus comes the sequel, Oola for Women. After polling on social media what readers what, the consensus was a book for females.
“Have you seen us? We are two of the dudest dudes,” Amdahl said.
After being inspired by a mother’s story, the two decided to write about Oola’s principles but told through the lens of females. “The book found us,” Braun said.
The book resonates with women so much because it is us who typically are juggling all those plates. We put others happiness first or trying to find the best way to balance family, career, relationships, and self. “A better you are better capable of taking care of others around you, so why not take the time to care for yourself,” Braun said.
To read as a series, read the first one first. To share the book around, the authors also recommend the first. But if the runner is only looking for one book and is a female, the female-voiced book is the best.
No matter where we are in life, we should all strive to aim higher and be better. Oola provides inspiration, while being real and makes the reader look inward to achieve happiness.