Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter at Mexico City's airport on January 8, 2016 following his recapture during an intense military operation in Los Mochis, in Sinaloa State. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities.
Alfredo Estrella—AFP/Getty Images
By Denver Nicks
March 22, 2016

Last week, the Associated Press reported that fallen Sinaloa Cartel drug kingpin and reluctant fashion icon Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been languishing in prison under much stricter conditions than he enjoyed during his previous stay. Whereas last time he was given Viagra and a four-hour conjugal visit every nine days, along with access to television, this time he has neither.

Instead, El Chapo has been occupying himself doing what you’re doing right now: reading. Since his recapture in January he has reportedly—and impressively—finished Miguel de Cervantes’ Spanish-language classic Don Quixote. He has also started reading a Spanish translation of Rick Warren’s self-help book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Self-help may seem an odd choice for a man very likely to spend most of the rest of his life in a very small room. Then again, as a genre, it’s one we often turn to when we’re feeling down and out—and after two previous prison escapes, the odds that El Chapo will elude the authorities a third time aren’t exactly looking great. If there was ever a season of El Chapo’s life for him to take up yoga or start reading self-help books, or whatever, this is it. (And he’s reported to be putting on weight, so yoga’s probably out.)

Here are five pieces of advice from The Purpose Driven Life that actually have some relevance to El Chapo’s life behind bars.

1. “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

You don’t have to be a prisoner of your past, El Chapo, but you do have to be a prisoner of prison, now that you are in there. So make the best of it! Embrace life in lockup. Take up pottery. Get your G.E.D. Join a men’s choir.

2. “Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record.”

Having busted out of prison already, twice, you’re starting from a difficult position if you want to build trust with your current overseers. Give it time. And stay away from tunneling tools.

3. “The most difficult area to surrender for many people is their money.”

You were once very poor, then very rich and now very poor again. The change is jarring, no doubt, but know that others too find transitions like these difficult and you are not alone. Except for the part where you’re going to spend the rest of your life in prison. In that respect I guess you are technically sort of alone.

4. “A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.”

I know you must be mourning the loss of your famously flashy Barabas shirts, but now you have an opportunity to live a simpler, plainer, fuller, less fashion crime-y life.

5. “Your value is not determined by your valuables.”

It must be hard to go from being the most powerful drug trafficker in the world to being just another guy in lockup. Use this opportunity to get in touch with your inner value. When he’s not ordering executions or moving huge quantities of narcotics across international borders, who is El Chapo really? It’s time to make a change, starting with getting to know the man in the mirror.


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