... and giving thanks are always topical around the holiday season. It’s a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on the multitude of blessings we have in our lives including family, friends, work, health ... 

On the flip side, it is much less intuitive to be grateful for the difficult situations and challenging people in our lives in the same way we are for the good people and good things. (Think about the family member we avoid all year long but who we have to hang out with at Thanksgiving.)

You may be thinking, “Why the heck would I give thanks for this hard situation or that difficult person?” These situations and individuals obviously provoke a negative emotional response of anger, frustration or even pain.

But if we peel back the initial emotionally charged layer, there is typically a virtue hiding right underneath the surface, a lesson that will allow us to elevate beyond the anger or frustration to a place of gratitude. We can be thankful for the difficult situation or person who helps teach us to be be more patient, selfless or kind. These virtues of acceptance, patience, humility and unconditional love help fuel us to be the best version of ourselves. As Tony Robbins says, “Life is not happening to us, it’s happening for us.”  

So the next time we find ourselves in a challenging situation or with a difficult person (maybe at the Thanksgiving dinner table), let’s move quickly past any negative initial gut reaction and on to the deeper understanding of gratitude, realizing the ultimate lesson these situations and individuals and there to teach us.

I know it may be counter-intuitive, but the most rewarding depths of gratitude often come from those moments we would be least likely to offer thanks for at first glance.

It is the lessons born from those challenging situations or people—teaching us, helping us to grow and become better versions of ourselves—which is where true gratitude resides.

May your holiday season be filled with gratitude and opportunities to give thanks, equally in both the easy and challenging moments of your life.

Aaron Hinde

To learn more about Aaron, follow @aaronhinde on Instagram.

> > > Live well!


September is always one of the nicest months of the year in Northern California. The tourists are gone, the weather is fantastic and it’s hard not to enjoy the bounty NorCal has to offer. The start of Indian summer brings along with it our annual LIFEAID company retreat. This is an incredible opportunity for our entire team to come together, celebrate the accomplishments from the past year and embark on a shared journey of personal and professional development.

At LIFEAID Beverage Co., we have 10 core values that drive our culture and ethos:


  1. Create the most fun, healthy, holistic and fulfilling work environment in Santa Cruz County (and beyond).
  2. Grow deliberately, sustainably and consistently create long-term value for our customers and stakeholders.
  3. Be curious, ask questions, communicate and adopt a growth mindset.
  4. Everyone is an owner—approach your work as such.
  5. Work hard, play hard—have fun doing both.
  6. Create raving fans—of our team members, customers, suppliers and community.
  7. Be solution-oriented, not problem-focused.
  8. Do more with less.
  9. Strive for continuous improvement rather than perfection.
  10. Always play the long game.


Although we practice these core values on a daily basis, the annual retreat brings multiple core values to light all at the same time, allowing us to revisit and focus on them in new ways each year.

This year was extra special to me on a personal level because we embarked on a journey to Lake Don Pedro—a lake I practically grew up on, having spent countless weekends waterskiing there as a kid. Our team rented six houseboats, four Jet Skis and a ski boat. We had professional caterers join us on board to prepare all of our meals, and we brought in seven dynamic speakers to present to our group over the weekend.

It’s amazing how things often work out even better than we could have imagined. I knew it would be an amazing retreat, but we were fortunate to experience what seemed like

a rare, perfect balance of personal development and fun in the sun.

Aside from the occasional mimosa, each morning began with about a 60-minute talk from one of our dynamic presenters. Our entire team gathered around, happily crammed onto the top deck of our main houseboat with our notebooks and pen in hand, eager to learn, grow and be challenged. Little did we know just how much of each would take place!

I should mention that four of our presenters were professional speakers—highly recognized and accomplished authors, TED Talks speakers, leaders and so forth. However, three of our presenters were not well-known, at least not beyond our little circle. They were LIFEAID team members. Honestly, it was pretty amazing being able to empower and then watch individuals on our team get out of their comfort zones, stand up in front of 70 of their colleagues and deliver incredibly well-crafted and powerful messages.

I intentionally gave no direction to any of the speakers when they first asked me what topic I would like them to present on at the retreat. I simply told them about our team, our values and our vision. Then I basically said, “Just deliver a presentation you feel would provide the most value to our group. I trust you.”

Boy, did they ever deliver! As the weekend progressed, a common thread began to develop between each speaker’s message. No one knew what the other speakers were presenting, yet a consistent theme began to emerge. As fate would have it, it was a theme that we all needed to hear.

After three full days and seven amazing speakers, the 2018 LIFEAID Beverage Co. retreat theme can be best summarized this way:

We are all powerful human beings who are manifesting our ability to be agents for positive change in this world. As human beings, our thoughts (conscious and unconscious) are eventually reflected in our words. With our words we create — our words drive our actions and lead to results (both positive and negative). At LIFEAID, our team has been uniquely unified by the common cause of improving the health and well-being of our diseased nation. We each realize and are fueled by the need to get people off of high-sugar, high-caffeine sodas & sports/energy drinks. As an alternative, we are passionate about providing everyone with our clean, healthful products. We possess the power to improve our lives and the lives of everyone we touch by being mindful and intentional regarding our thoughts, words and actions.

By the end of the weekend, we were not the same team we started as.

We had all experienced some “aha!” moments which have forever improved our trajectory as individuals and as a team. We ate, we drank, we played, we laughed, we cried, we danced, we shared, we contributed and — most importantly — we grew. It’s undeniable, watching the people who you care about have breakthroughs that will stick with them for the rest of their lives is what it really is all about.

Our brand is not merely our founders (myself and Orion) or a single product (like FitAid or FocusAid). Rather, it is the collective efforts and inventions of all the great women and men who comprise our LIFEAID team, a team which manifests in each and every one of our products and customer experiences.

While I can say, “I am LIFEAID” and “You are LIFEAID,” I am even prouder still to state that together,


Aaron Hinde

To learn more about Aaron, follow @aaronhinde on Instagram.


> > > Live well!