Adam Carter on Living a Happier and More Purpose-Driven Life

In Chapter 1 of 13 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, micro-philanthropist Adam Carter answers "When Are You at Your Best?"  Carter finds his personal bests when he is mindful of living in the moment.  He finds people, places and purpose to be the principles that motivate him and drive him toward a happier life. 

Adam Carter is a micro-philanthropist currently living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He is the founder of the Cause and Affect Foundation which raises small amounts of financing to provide direct-to-source project funding for individuals and communities in need across the globe.  To date, Carter has traveled to over 80 countries.  He earned an MA in International Development from George Washington University and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan.


Erik Michielsen: When are you at your best?

Adam Carter: I would say I’m at my best when I’m mindful of who I am and what I want to do and who I want to be, so I’m very conscious about—for example, living in the moment. I mean, I see all kinds of self-help books, and I see a lot of people reading self-help books, and the say, “Oh, yeah, got to live for the moment. That’s right,” and then they put the book down and they start yelling at the guy in front of them in traffic, and they start stressing out, over, you know, the most minute details, so, I’m really—I feel like as long as I can really be mindful of that, and be mindful of some of the principles that drive me, that I will be happy and successful in whatever I’m doing. So much of what I do has to do with everything that I’m thankful for and realizing just how much I have—I’ve had in my life, and so as long as I keep that in mind, it helps me kind of focus on the other goals that follow from that which would be, in this case, all the philanthropy work that I’m doing to help those that aren’t quite as fortunate, so as long as I don’t lose sight of that, and I’m living in the moment and I’m mindful, then I find that the rest of my life is a lot more rewarding and a lot more at peace, and happy.

Erik Michielsen: What are the principles that drive you?

Adam Carter:  Years ago, I realized there was three things that I needed to keep myself happy and to keep a rewarding life and they were people, places and purpose. So, first of all; surrounding myself with good people, with people that I trust, people that I like, people that have something to offer, people that share some of my vision, or even just share in my pension for life. Second, would be places. I discovered years ago that in my travels there were certain places that I really felt comfortable and that I really felt that I mixed well with, places that I could maybe call home or that I would enjoy living in or staying in, whatever. And third would be purpose. And this is—even if you’re in a good place and with good people, if you don’t have a good purpose in your life, if you’re not doing something rewarding, it’s gonna feel empty. So I found that with those three, it’s hard to take one out and really maintain that wholeness of life.