A former Marine, methamphetamine addict, and ex-pat from Britain living in Hong Kong, Chris Thrall has lived a lot of lives and has a very powerful story to tell.
Speaking to Steve Sims for The Art of Making Things Happen podcast, Thrall explains how he made such a winding journey. First, it was starting a consumer goods business as a way to get out of the Armed Forces. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Says Thrall, “By the time I’d put in my 18 months notice, which was a requirement in the Marines at the time, by the time I’d flown out to Hong Kong, where the majority of my business happened to be, said business had all but collapsed.”
As a result, Thrall was totally out of his element. “Suddenly there I was on the streets of Hong Kong. I was homeless by definition of the fact, you know, my home was back in England. I desperately didn’t want to get on a plane and go back,” says Thrall. Unfortunately, things got worse from there.
“I tried to make it in Hong Kong… I ended up in crystal meth psychosis. That’s basically chronic addiction to crystal meth… I became that guy that you’d cross the road to avoid… I came back to the UK and immediately fell into what you describe as a serious depression, which I stayed in for 18 months.” Then came the wakeup call.
Thrall describes, “One day I woke up cold shivering, tired, literally starving…I couldn’t go outside because I got to the point where I was just too ashamed of myself… I was sticking needles in my arms, like 12 times a day… I had to shoplift just literally to survive… And in that moment, [I] just start[ed] to feel sorry for myself… And I replayed my childhood through my head and I thought about that little toddler that shouldn’t have had to go through the things that he went through.”
It was a life-changing moment. “Now I could see what I was doing… and the sun shone through my blinds. And in that moment I thought, I’m going to change. I’m going to change my behavior.” Thrall’s first breakthrough was something simple — washing the dishes. “I did the washing up that had been accruing down the sideboard for probably, well, two weeks,” says Thrall. “And as I was doing that washing, I was thinking bloody hell I’m doing it, I’m doing it. I’m doing something that I hadn’t done for 18 months.”
Familiar with how people treat the down-and-out, Thrall felt called to help others. He explains, “Then I gave my services for free working with street children in war-torn Mozambique…. I taught street kids for six months free of charge… I didn’t get paid, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be paid anyway, because this wasn’t about getting a job… This was about me giving back to the universe.”
From there, Thrall became an adventurer. “I became a skydiver. I became a pilot. I traveled 80 countries across all seven continents,” describes Thrall. That was his education, helping him become “genuinely the happiest person [he] ever meet[s].”
Since then, Thrall has written two books and started a thriving YouTube channel where he speaks about his experiences in the Armed Forces. And it all comes just from following his heart and passion. Explains Thrall, “I don’t really have an agenda… and that is because I’m content… There’s nothing in this world that’s going to make me happier than I am.”
He goes on, “I’ll keep building a YouTube channel. I’ll keep inspiring people. Particularly the young people.” And his biggest lesson to offer? There’s nothing out there that is gonna make you happy. Paradise is in your head.” Take it from a man who has been to hell and back.
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