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We are so attached to the idea of who we are, you know, whether it's designed by what our parents always said about us. But sometimes I find I would get so attached to that that then I would be afraid to let go because I don't want to lose me. I don't want to lose me. I'm me. I know me. If I want to lose me, do I still love me? The best-selling author and host. The number one health and wellness podcast. On purpose with Jay Shetty. Hey everyone, welcome back to On Purpose, the number one health podcast in the world thanks to each and every one of you that come back every week to listen, learn and grow. Now you know that one of my favorite ways to learn is by learning people's stories, by diving into their hearts, their minds, their souls if they're willing to share that and try and understand what we can learn, what we can hear, what we don't understand. Maybe there's a part of their journey that we didn't know enough about and I've found stories become a huge compass for me in my life and that's why I try and share those with you here. And today's guest is someone that I've actually wanted to talk to for a long, long time. I would say we're probably trying to book this podcast for like two years in the making. So I'm very, very excited this evening and just so you know, he's had a crazy busy day. It is officially 7.45 p.m. on a Monday night when we're recording this in New York City. I'm doing the one and only someone who needs no introduction, Trevor Noah. Trevor, thank you so much for doing this. Thank you very much. I'm very grateful to have you in the seat finally. It's good and I'm grateful to be talking to you in person. Most of the time I see you and watching a clip of yours online. So this is nice. No, I really appreciate this. And my interview with you that we did when I was out talking about calm was my favorite interview from that whole experience because I felt that the questions you asked me were the most reflective. They were pushing me. They were challenging me in a healthy way. And I was just like, oh, well, you know, I want to sit down more and have more of those conversations with you. So anyway, but I want to start with you by, you know, your book Born a Crime is brilliant, brilliant book. And I don't want to go through the whole book. I'd love for people to read it if they haven't. But I guess what I'm fascinated by is human experiences when we were children or early on in our lives that shaped us today. And I know you've reflected on that a lot, but now when you reflect on it today, what are some of the examples of human experiences that you had that you think shaped who you are today? What was one of the earliest memories, maybe?
Self Reflection & Personal Interpretation
Same story, same book but different meaning (02:18)
My mom is a Bible scholar and she reads the Bible every day. Not all of it, but she moves through it every single day. What I found fascinating is that she's been reading the same book for decades now. And every day she'll send me an email or a message about a scripture and how it pertains to her life as she sees it now in this moment. How it has been and how she thinks it will be. And what I've found particularly fascinating about that is the fact that it's the same book. And yet it keeps meaning so many different things to her. The same story, but it keeps meaning so many different things. And I sometimes think about my life in that way is depending on where I am, depending on the moment, depending on where I've been and where I'm going, the same experience reveals a different part of me. The same experience reveals why I am, who I am, or why I'm doing what I'm doing, or why I even have an idea of who I am or why I am. And so recently, maybe, since you're asking me, what is one of these things, what is something? I think back to how not having shaped how I see the world, shaped how I move in the world. Not having food sometimes, not having money sometimes, not even having luxury items sometimes. Would it be clothing or cars or whatever it may be? But recently, I've found myself going, man, so much of how you define yourself is through the lens of having or not having, particularly because of how you grew up. And so it's not about having or not having now, but it's in the small things. It's like how I order food or why I order the food that I do in the way that I do, it's partially because of having or not having. And so I would say that's maybe one of the biggest experiences that I find has recently just shining a light on how I grew up. Yeah, that's fascinating. I've often reflected on something similar and I've called it gifts or gaps that having or not having. Interesting. So certain gifts that I had growing up, I handed to me by my parents or by my family. Oh, wow. Okay. And then were the gaps? Well, there were gaps. There were things that you didn't have. So whether that would be a present parent or a, I didn't have the latest Nike sneakers or Nike shoes as we would call them. It's called the Nike. Exactly. Yeah, Nike. It's American. It's not like an idiot. Exactly. Nike and Adidas. Yes. As I say, Adidas, not Adidas. And so those kind of gaps and obviously those are very crude examples. Yeah. And do you find yourself editing those now? Like, do you find yourself saying, okay, I didn't have this and therefore I have this behavior. I did have this and therefore I have this behavior. Do you feel like your behavior today wants an upgrade because of your new lifestyle or a downgrade or you kind of think, no, I'm happy living with the same beliefs and values and systems that I had from back then.
Comparing your hardships to others experiences (05:33)
All I'm constantly trying to do is acknowledge them. I try my best to eliminate good or bad. I really do. And the reason I do that is not because you know, I exist in a spiritual world, although I think we all do, but not because of that. I think of it more because I realize everything and everyone is going to have a good or bad. So I have yet to meet a person who doesn't think some parts of their childhood were tough. Yes. But now it's when we compare the toughness that people then say, oh, actually, I didn't have it tough. You had it tough. And people will say to me, oh man, you grew up so poor in South Africa and growing up in the township and whatever. And I would say to them, I didn't feel like this because I would see, for instance, the slums in India, I go like, man, you know, and maybe I was lucky, funny enough, because in South Africa, we had news that was global and because it was I think it was so broad. I had an awareness. So I didn't think what I was living through was the worst possible thing. But now relative to how many other people live, they've put me down at the bottom of a list. Yes. Yes. Yes. And so I often don't think of it as good or bad. I just try and go, oh, that happened. That didn't happen because of that. I adapted accordingly. You know, so, you know, there's a lot of rainfall. So then this plant will start growing in that way. There isn't as much rainfall the plant will grow another way. Is it good or is it bad? That's oftentimes something that's subjective because of who runs the world or who tells us how the world should be or isn't or you get on saying? Yeah, no. And I love that you've simplified it as awareness because that awareness or acknowledgement is you said of keeping it that way is often quite sacred to be able to say, no, I'm just observing. I'm just seeing. Yeah. And yeah, it's hard. And you reminded me, I was I was nine years old when I first visited India. I was born and raised in London. But my, my mom, I was actually was born and raised in Yemen. And my father was born and raised in India. But my parents are in India. What part of India? My father was from Nangalore. Which is like Southern India. My mother is from Gujarat, which is Northern India, right? But she was born and raised in Yemen. So she moved to London when she was 16. But when I went to India for the first time when I was nine years old, I remember we were in a car and we were not well off. So we weren't staying in a fancy hotel or whatever. But we had enough money to visit, which is significant for the air flight. And I remember going in this car and you just sparked this. And I remember like stopping at a traffic light and just looking out and I saw these slums. And I mean, I'd never seen something like that in London. And I saw these little legs poking out of like a barrel of a trash can. And and I was just and the legs looked little, like of someone my age, like around and then slowly I saw the whole body come out. And it was this girl and she didn't have any hands. And she'd just been like trying to scrape the bottom. I remember being nine years old and she was probably like maybe the same age, maybe a little less like. And I remember just looking at her and feeling like totally helpless because I was in the car on the other side of the highway. And I can't go and help her. I want to. But I also don't know what help means as a nine year old. And it was one of those experiences that, you know, and then I went back, I remember to my hotel and I remember hearing like someone was arguing about not enough menu options on the buffet. And it was just it was like, as a night, it was like connecting the dots as you're saying of like, you know, when you see your experience and then you see someone else's experience, have you found that what you did go through that you ever needed to process it or heal it or because you had that perspective since day one, that that you never needed that that it was just like, no, this is my experience. And I'm used to it or whatever, what are the moments of where you have to revisit and I work on healing every day.
It was not bad because it happened to everyone.” (09:27)
You know, I grew up in a world where we almost didn't have the time nor the resources to heal. And I think for a long time, I was very comfortable in accepting that as just being my world. Oh, that happened. You know, I shrugged it off and you keep on moving. Yeah, you shrugged it off. That happened. That happened to you, you know, domestic abuse, okay, poverty, whatever it may be violence in the community or at home, whatever. Yeah, but that happens. You keep it moving. You shrug it off because it is happening. And funny enough, you can grow up and I knew I grew up in a world where I created this narrative in my head that it was not bad because it was happening to everyone. Wow. And so now most of my life, you know, is spent acknowledging that it was bad. And then spending a lot of time acknowledging how the bad created coping mechanisms or tools that I then use in my life every single day and how I can accept those parts of myself, whilst also not glorifying the things that happened. Just sometimes I fight for the lot of people when they do this. I fight with all my friends, by the way. I hate to come back home. Anyone. I fight with friends back. I fight with anyone, Jay. Anyone. I'm never grateful for suffering. I'm never grateful for pain. I'm never grateful for those things. What I work to be grateful for is the resiliency that makes us in my family and our ability to adapt. But I'm not going to be grateful for a horrible thing that happened to me or the people in my life. Because we learned how to deal with it. I would like to live in a world where my child doesn't have to develop that tool. Let them develop in that way. Let their tool be, I had to figure out how to feel good about myself when I couldn't get as many TikTok followers as I wanted. Let that be there too. And I understand the esoteric idea. I understand what people are saying sometimes. But I'm almost allergic to it because I think sometimes what it does is it justifies what people are going through or it justifies the idea that we don't need to do more or people aren't going through something bad because it creates the best. It makes diamonds. It can create diamonds. I'm like, yeah, but what it can also do is pulverize a lot of people into dust. So diamonds are the exception. I'm often careful to think about, you know, I'm sure you understand what I mean. Yeah, I mean, hearing you actually, what I find is that at least what I took away from that is that it's the same thought. It's just a deeper level of the same thought. Like, it's with more clarity. Like, it's like, I think sometimes we hear that idea of be grateful for everything or be grateful for the suffering. And if you don't really think that through, you can try and artificially put that band-aid. And you just kind of try and like, oh, yeah, put the band-aid on. I put the band-aid on of gratitude, gratitude. But it's like, when you internalize, then you process it, that's when you can, what you're doing, which is like, clearly sectioning it off and saying, I'm not grateful for the act of violence or I'm not grateful for the suffering, as you said. But I can be grateful for the quality that resilience, et cetera, that helped me push through. But I think that's, to me, that's just a deeper, more refined thought out of practicing gratitude, almost. Do you think, like, I've always wanted to know, like, you know, as a monk, are you forced to just be grateful for everything, regardless of what it is?
Are you forced to be grateful for everything? (13:27)
No, I think what you were saying is far more aligned with what I would think. Oh, okay. Okay. And I think that there's two parts, right? One is what the philosophy tries to share or state. And then it's what you learn in the practice of that philosophy. So if you try and be grateful, like, I just had, this literally just happened, hence I'm talking about it, I just had a double inguinal hernia surgery, which means that both my hernias, which are on either side of my groin, had to have incisions in my stomach and a mesh pretty much. It's not life-threatening, but it's massively inconvenient. Yes. And I didn't work for three weeks. This is my first week back at work. And I'm feeling the money. The funniest is when you try and you have, like, a sneeze or a cough the first time. Have you had this? Yeah. And then you don't have the funniest. The funniest is when it happens. And the first time you don't realize how painful it would be. And now your body doesn't allow you to cough or sneeze or, but it's amazing. It's almost funny to what we're talking about. This is what I mean, right? It is amazing how quickly your body responds to trauma or pain. Yes. It's amazing at how quickly it works to protect you from it. Because if I said you don't sneeze or don't cough for three weeks, it's impossible. Yeah. But one cough and one sneeze when you've had your hernia or any surgery that's abdominal, your body goes, "I never want to experience that again." Never. And then you don't know. You know exactly what you're saying. I know exactly what you mean. For the first, I was scared that I was going to pop my hernia. Yes. Yes. Exactly. It's a fear. Yeah. There you go. And so I'm walking around with a pillow like halfway through the day. My wife's like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "I'm like cough." And she's laughing at me. I'm like, "You can't make me laugh either." I was like, "I couldn't watch comedy for 30 weeks." Yeah. Because you can't laugh. It hurts so much. But the reason I brought that up was, "Am I grateful I got a hernia?" No. Why would I be grateful that I've been working out, I eat healthy. I'm a mindful individual, but I ended up with this from whatever, from working out everything. I'm not grateful for the hernia, but I'm grateful for the journey I chose to take during the experience. Got it. That has helped me have new appreciation. Yes. And so I think the point of, at least, I mean, going to what you suggested, like, how would a monk think about gratitude, I don't think any quality or value was embodied by force or by prescription without reflection. Okay. Okay. If that makes sense. Yeah. That doesn't make sense. Anything without reflection is practically not the right way to it. Right. That makes sense. No, I like that. I really do fight with a lot of people about this. No. And obviously, when I say fight, I mean, that's how we use it in South Africa. Funny enough, in India as well, I'm sure you know this. When I was in India, I went recently. And what I loved is how people argue about everything. And one of the guys who is there is a friend of mine now. And we're arguing back and forth. We're arguing. And then his friend steps in, he's like, "Trava, he's like, 'I'm so sorry, Trevor. Please whip. I apologize. You know, you're not fighting with you. This is how we do it in India." And I'm like, "Oh, I was like, this is amazing. I want to live in this country. Let's get into it." But this is what I argue with people about sometimes where I say, "Yeah, I don't have to be grateful for it." Because I often say, "Maybe I'm wrong here. So I see it. I have found for myself and maybe for others at times, we are so attached to the idea of who we are, the story that we've told ourselves, the story that we continue to tell ourselves, who we are, who we wish to be, who we should be, whether it's designed by what our parents always said about us. You're such a quiet child. You're such a lovely person. You're so kind. You're so polite. And you go, "That I am?" Or, "I should be then." You know, whatever it may be. But sometimes I find I would get so attached to that, that then I would be afraid to let go of the things that may be holding me back because I don't want to lose me because who is me if I don't have the pain, who is me if I don't have the trauma, who is me if I don't have the mistrust, I don't want to lose me. I'm me. I know me. What if I'm not me? I love me. And if I want to lose me, do I still love me?" And that's what I find the things. And so what I found helps me, you know, and I'll say to some of my friends as I go, "I do not need to live my life believing that I would not be me or I do not love me if I wish for these things to not happen." But I rather go, "I would have learned something else." So I learned a different part of my body. I learned how to work through pain. I learned how to move differently because of O'Hernia. Fine. I'm grateful that I can learn. I'm grateful that I can recover. I'm grateful that maybe I even learned how to rest a little bit. Yeah. Take some time off. Slow down. Yeah. Slow down, Jay. But I also sit with it and go, "But if I didn't have that, Hernia, if I didn't have that trauma as a child, I would have had the opportunity to learn something else." So maybe my tool wouldn't have been used on this. It would have been used on something else. And that doesn't diminish me or who I think I am. It just allows me to almost exist infinitely and go, "Well, then I can try to be whatever me exists." You know, and it's like skin. It's like, "Hey, it's like we're always losing us." That's what I think. Yeah. I mean, the cells in our bodies are changing all the time. We're losing us. I'm always trying that. And it's scary. Yeah, it's scary because I think humans look for certainty as safety and security and stability. But I was going to ask you that, what you started to touch on there, which I love, is identity belonging. And these are things that you talk about so much in your past as well. And what you're basically saying is that, well, if we're open to identity changing and we're open to our home changing, I mean, do you still feel attached to a sense of home? Like, what is home to you today? Like, how do you think about the word "home"?
The true definition of the word home (19:13)
For me, the true definition of the word "home" is familiar of the family. It's a repeated interaction. That's all home is to me. You know, the reason you call it "my home" is because you go back to it every single day. If somebody flipped all the furniture and the house every day, you'd say it doesn't feel like home. But it is your home. You know, I think... It's your house. Yeah, exactly. My friends are my home. The languages, you know, I speak on my home. The food I eat in South Africa is my home. But my home starts to grow. It starts to change. You know, I said this to a friend of mine. When I got back from India, I said, "Man, it felt like home." And he was like, "What do you... India?" I said, "It's crazy, but it felt like home." You know, the parts of Delhi, where I was like, "This feels like home." You know, the parts of Bangalore, Bengaluru, where it's like, "This feels like home." You know what I mean? It's like... And people are like, "How can it feel like home?" It's like, "Well, maybe because part of it is reminiscent, you know, it reminds me of South Africa. We have an Indian population, it's huge, one of the biggest in the world. We have Indian culture, but also it's just... It feels familiar, feels like home. And so for me, that's what home means, is a sense of the familiar. You know, you can even experience randomly if you travel a lot in a hotel that you always frequent, it feels like home. So that's what home means for me. It's just that, you know? And you fill in New York too, and you're here, you find that you have that because of that familiarity. You feel like... I always see you and it seems to me like you're always home. I don't know why. That's a nice thing for you to say. Genuinely, it always seems like I never feel like you're uncomfortable, I never feel like you, but I don't know if that's just what you put out. No, I was going to define it now, it's contextually sharing now, but my definition of home has always been where I feel I'm living my purpose. So that's always been my purpose. So, and I genuinely feel like that where I could wake up and be in another city or another country or another seat. And as long as I'm... I feel like I'm doing my purpose tonight with you and that's why I'm here. I hope you understand. So how would you... Because I can try to understand about what would you say you feel your purpose is?
What is your purpose? (21:39)
So my purpose is to help other people find their purpose. And to me, my purpose is to be a vessel of being able to expose people to a number of different ideas, insights, paths, stories, walks of life so that they can find theirs. I don't think everyone's purpose looks like mine. I don't think everyone's path looks like mine because I think one of the best things I got when I was a kid, and again, it goes back to my childhood experiences, my dad was really worried that I didn't read enough. And I would never be interested in reading fiction books at school. So we'd get the fiction books like Goosebumps and then later on Harry Potter and all these books. And I would never read them and I wouldn't have any interest in them. So my dad was worried and my mom was worried that this kid's not going to read. And now I was about about 13 going on 14 and I still wasn't reading a lot. And so my dad started giving me biographies and autobiography. And so I read like by the time I was 16, I'd read Malcolm X, Martin Luther King. I was also reading like David Beckham and Dray D'Roc Johnson because I was a massive soccer football fan. And so I started just like collecting all these stories. And then as I told you, when I sat on your show, like I met a monk when I was 18, and that was the story that my purpose felt connected to. Got it. And so now I feel I'm like, well, someone's going to listen to Trevor's story and feel far more connected. And that may spark this kid out there to say, hey, maybe that's the kind of direction I want to go in. I feel like today we're exposed to the same people online and on TV and streaming. And we're also exposed to the same parts of them. That's true. And my hope is that this podcast, even if you're seeing someone who's famous and popular like yourself, hopefully people get a deeper insight into someone famous and popular. Or they get to meet someone random who's not famous and popular, but it's interesting. So anyway, that's my purpose. Okay. Well, so I feel like if I'm doing that in a city, in a country, I'm home. And it's because one of the famous scholars in YouTube about your mother being a scriptural scholar and like such an avid reader, I never met this scholar, but my monk teaches would often quote him. And he said that the only place higher than like the spiritual realm, and it would be poetry, but also, you know, literal as well, that the only place higher than being in heaven or the spiritual realm is a place you live your purpose. And that idea always like connected with me because then I was like, oh, so I could be in the middle of chaos, but still feel at home. And so it gives me a sense of comfort and, you know, that's what keeps me going when the day is tough, when things are going, whatever they are. It's something that comforts me and it works for me. That's a really great purpose to have because I mean, there's always people to help. There are always journeys waiting to be embarked upon. That's... Yeah. And there's no... Yeah, and it's free, but with you, I see the one thing, a thread that I've heard in you, which I really appreciated, is like literally three times you've responded, you've said, my friends, my friends, I was talking to my friend. Like this person talks a lot to their friends, which is really beautiful because you're thinking, wow, like you're a busy person, you're back to back. I mean, I remember I was in, I think we were both speaking at the Sharjah Book Festival. You landed one night, I messaged you and I said, "Trevor, let's do breakfast." You were like, dude, I leave. I was going. I was there for eight hours. You were there for like six or four. Yeah. And I was like, I thought I was there for not enough. Like I was there for eight hours and you were like, dude, I'm literally leaving tonight. And so you're a busy person, but in this conversation, so many times you said, friends, friends, friends, friends, like, yeah, like how... Who are the friends? What are you talking to them about?
Who are your friends? (25:19)
Like what's your consistency? I'm fascinated by that because... So who are the friends? Predominantly, my friends are from South Africa. Friends I met doing different things. All organic meetings, which I'm a sucker for. I'm terrible at making friends partially because I don't trust people easily. I exist in a world where I can be friendly with many people, but it takes me a while to accept that this person is actually a part of my life. And I think for a long time it was because, and still is sometimes because, A, I have an idea of putting something on that person where I may need them, means that they may disappoint me. And then on the other side of it, them needing me means I could be in the position to disappoint them. And so as we learn people, I find we learn what they can and cannot do. We learn who they are or not. And it's always situational for me. That's when I'll call you like a friend, is that I know how you are in most situations. Yeah, it's a good definition. That for me is the definition of a friend. So we use it loosely, obviously. But I can be friends with you and we always meet for lunch, always meet for... But then I only know you in one way. My friends, I start to be able to... I almost almost store in a vault in my mind. I can say for a fact, if we're friends, if Jay was here, this would bother him. He would like that. He would probably say this and that's why he would act this way. And that's how I think of my friends. So they've been a major part of making me feel at home. My job, stand-up comedy is really lonely career. And I remember talking to a comedian, it was a few weeks ago, talking about how there was a period where a lot of stand-up comedians were committing suicide. And you'd hear this devastating story of a comedian that everyone loved, they were in a hotel room, and then they committed suicide. And I was petrified because I always think it can happen to me. If that happened to them, why did it happen? If I don't understand, then what is it? Another comedian, another comedian, another comedian, another comedian. I think being a stand-up comedian is a really lonely job in that we're traveling, oftentimes alone. We don't have a band, we don't have backup dancers, we don't travel with a comedian. Imagine you have a backup dance. And yet every night you're going out there and you're making people laugh, you're having fun with them. They come with their families, they come with their friends, they come with their loved ones, you leave alone. And it's this constant exchange of energy. And what I learned was my friends became my recharge, my friends became the couch I could lie on and say nothing or everything. And thanks partly to technology, I've been able to keep in touch with them. There's no catching up for us. It's literally a running, we've got a WhatsApp thread that is now, I'm going to say, 15 years old. Like literally I can go back and search something from maybe 10 years ago sometimes, I can go back on the WhatsApp thread and go, what happened? And I can search and I can find it. That's how long we've had the same group and the same friends and the same everything. And obviously it's grown over time, but that core has kept me. I always think, did you end up reading Harry Potter? I didn't ever read out of all. I watched all the movies. Yeah, I never had one. Oh, do you watch the book? Yeah, I watched all the movies. I know I'm a big fan, actually. Okay, so I feel like your friends in life are your whole cruxes. Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah, I think that's people what we do is we break ourselves into parts. And whenever we meet people, we give them a part of ourselves. And some people we give more than we give others, but we give everyone a different part of ourselves. No one in your life has the same part that another person has. They may seem similar, but they're not. Your mother and father hold different parts of you. Your uncles, your cousins, your brothers, sisters, your friends, whoever it is, they hold the different parts of you. And the same way Voldemort could use that to come back to life, I feel like we can use that to come back to life. Wow. Do you know what I mean? Yeah, you watch the different movies. I read the book. Yeah, you read the book, my friend. That's what it is. That's what you missed in the movie. I read the book. Yeah, and so I always think that is I, man, sometimes I can be at my worst. I can be sometimes I can be lost. Really Jay, there'll be times when I'll be like, what am I doing? Or where am I? I'm stressed. I'm tired. I'm burnt out. I feel lost. And I can call a friend and no joke. They can say to me, well, the Trevor I know, you know, and I love that they say that. They don't say this is who you are or not. They go, the Trevor I know found his joy here. Hey, you know, I've noticed that you're always happiest when you do it this way. Hey, I've noticed that, you know, you stress more when you're in this position. Hey, can I go? I didn't know that about myself. I didn't hold myself that way because I'm always experiencing all of me still through my lens. But thank you. You freed me. You encouraged me. You held me. You loved me. And what then happens is I start to find what I need to get back to my purpose, to my passion, to whatever drives me. And that's why my friends are a big part of that. That is the core of my world, you know. And it's funny, my mom even used to say that to me when I was growing up, you know, at a certain age, she said to me, she'd say to me, my friend, you know, I'd be like, I'm not your friend. You're like, you're my mom. And my mom would say, just because I'm your mom doesn't mean I'm your friend. She said, there are many mothers out there that aren't friends with their child. She said, I'm your mother and I will always love you as your mother. But you are becoming my friend. And that stuck with me. I realized that friendship is a choice. Every other relation we have isn't. And so even your relatives can become your friends or may not be your friends. And I think understanding that illuminates a lot of how you interact with people in the world. Yeah. I really resonated with what, I mean, everything you said, but one of the things that stood out was that kind of performance loneliness. My work mainly starts with coaching and working with people. And I work with a lot of musicians and people who tour and travel, not comedians, but artists. And they're performing to like 100,000 people, like 80,000 people. And then they would always talk to me about this. And I didn't really have an empathetic experience of it. I could understand it theoretically. And then because most of the events I used to speak at were like corporate events, or like a business event or things like that. And then a few years ago when I did my first ever event with my audience, and it was in LA, people who came because they followed my work, not because of anything else. It was only about 2,000 people in the audience. And I finished the event and I got into the car and it hit me. And I was like, oh, like this is chemical. This is definitely chemical because you just had thousands of people shouting your name and like loving everything you say and all this validation and everything else. As what you were saying, when you were coming, like the dopamine, the everything. And then all of a sudden I was like, well, wait a minute, this feels weird. Like why do I feel like, you know, a sense of loneliness? And it was really interesting because I felt like that pretty much the whole, and I felt like calling someone. Yes. And I couldn't because in London it was too early. None of my friends would be awake. And so they're eight hours ahead because I'm in LA and I'm going, I'll go wait another hour for my friend to wake up two hours. I'm not going to wake him up in the middle of the night. So I'm waiting there and then all my friends in LA were just at the event. So I just saw them and today I'm probably like going home and it was a week night. And so maybe the end, I'm like, I don't want to. And then I get home and my wife had organized this surprise party for me with all my best friends. Like closest friends in LA. And it was like a relief. It wasn't even a celebration. I was like, there was a sense of relief. I was like, oh, thank God, because I don't know what I would have done tonight, man. Like, you know, I understand why people turn to drugs. I understand why people turn to, I understand why it was the first time I was like, because you need to numb it. Yeah, you need to numb it because you just don't know what to do with that feeling. And that was the first time I'd felt that way. And I can't imagine as you're saying, for someone who's on tour and trying to get every night. My drug, as I said to you, my drug was chocolate. Oh, I love chocolate too. That was like my thing. I couldn't. It's like my team, you, my people, it's like I'll do the show and immediately. And you probably relate to this more because, you know, coming from the UK and America, they don't really do it in South Africa. Our petrol stations, our gas stations, right? They have amazing stores attached to them. Like, yeah, every gas station looks like it's already been robbed. You don't want to pour gas. I don't, like, it looks terrible. They all look abandoned. Yes. Yeah, they all look like a ghost town. They really do. Yeah. Whereas where we're from, it's like, oh, you go and you buy a pie. You buy some, you buy a few drinks. It's like cooked snack. Exactly. It's like, oh, this is life. You can get some groceries on, though. It's a very normal concept. And that would be me after every show. I would drive. There would be the silence. I couldn't listen to music. I couldn't, my mind would just be, it's like I could hear everybody, but they were gone. And then I would go in and then I would buy chocolate would be my thing. It, it, it, it immediately. And then I, you know, over the years, I would read and I'd started learning that, you know, chocolate, the dopamine, the sugar, all of these things, I was, I was correcting a chemical thing without realizing it. Correct. Because it is a, it is a shock on your body. Yeah. Everyone, nothing. Yeah. It's, it's so fascinating that, that, that experience, and, and I'm sure people have that in different ways in their life. Like you don't have to be a performer. Yeah. Thousands of people experienced that. I think people experienced that in lots of different ways. It's beautiful that you've been able to continue this 10 year WhatsApp chat. Like that's, you know, that's like a brilliant achievement. How, how did you do in such a way that when you became unrelatable to people?
Becoming unrelatable to people (35:43)
Like how is that affected? Your friendships, your life, your relationships, because at one point I'm guessing, you know, when, when you come to America, you crush on the daily show, things are going great. You know, times 100 most influential people like crushing took some time, but yeah. Okay. No, no, of course. No, no, no, no, no. No, it took, I mean, it took some time. No, it was like it actually goes into your, it goes into your question. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Carry on. Carry on. Carry on. And, and I just think that there's an interesting thing about being so grounded in, like I, I'm enjoying this conversation. Right. It's fun. We're like just having a real conversation. Right. But at the same time to a lot of people externally, you can start becoming more unrelatable. So what's interesting is the reason I, the reason I put it in, the reason I say the crushing wasn't instant. Yeah. When you're on a journey, people oftentimes will remember the beginning of the journey. And they will define the journey by the way it currently is or how it ended. You know, you lived a good life because of how your life ended. If somebody is, you know, really poor for 80 years and they win the lottery at 80 and then they buy their family stuff and they have a good, people were like, man, it was tough, but he had a good life. Yeah. It's like, wow. Yeah. Did they though, did they though? It's more like, oh, we remember that, that ending is, is, is what we often remember. And to your point of, of relatable, my journey was really interesting, particularly in America, because for many months, maybe even a year and a bit, I was hated, you know, by many people. Don't get me wrong, there are many people who loved me, but it was such a visceral, understandable, visceral response to me as a concept. Who are you, how dare you, you are on the show, whatever. You know, and you're trying to establish, imagine trying to meet people for the first time, but they have an idea of you and they've already decided what the idea of you is. Oh gosh, yeah. And so you, you, you can't even relate or make yourself relatable to them. And then overnight, all of a sudden people go, are you crushing it? It's a, it's a, it's a really weird space to be in because it's, it's terrible. And then it's not, but your brain doesn't shift that quickly. I remember learning once that the human brain and the human body aren't necessarily always on the same page. If you're running from danger, if there's, if there's a threat, and you run from the danger, even when the danger subsides, your body's still in the danger. And I think they talk about something similar in the book, the body keeps the score, but your body still there, your mind goes, huh, all right. Oh, okay, I'm done. Your body's like, oh, heart pumping, you know, veins throbbing, everything is still happening. And, and you know, that was part of my experience. But what was interesting was, to your point of relatable, I didn't even have a moment to exist in relatable. It was stranger, you know, don't like different, weird, why do you say words the way you do, you know, what is aluminium, all these things come together. And then, oh, yeah, our guy, you know, we, which I'm grateful for, internally grateful. I was telling my, my people, everyone, I go, you know, do not forget, do not forget how hard this was, do not forget, you know, do not take it for granted. But what happens is, it's not that you don't become relatable or you aren't relatable, it's, it's, it's how people relate to you. They have one idea of, of who you are. They have one idea of, of how you are. And it's understandable because of how they interact with you. You know, I have two younger brothers, both in my opinion, far wiser than I'll ever be. I always, I always, you know, I'll cuss them out and say, you guys, you guys cheated because you, you like took what I did and then you just like, you leapfrogged me, you know. And, and my youngest brother said one of the most beautiful things one day, we were trying to have dinner as a family and we're taking a quiet moment and, you know, someone came over to the table and they're like, Hey, can I get a selfie? And this is happening in the dinner and, you know, and, and, and someone who was with us said, Oh man, that must get annoying. And I was like, well, I get it. And I said, I just don't understand the familiarity and the, I don't understand it truly. And my brother said one of the most interesting things. He said, no, what you're not understanding is a disconnect in your relationship, in the relatability. He said, you've met them and they've talked to you and you've had a conversation with them. And so they've built up a relationship with you, but they don't understand that you haven't been building up the same relationship with them. And so they, he said they're reacting to you as naturally as they would had you been conversating with them constantly. And so he said, if anything, they're acting normally, you're acting weird because they go, Hey, Trevor, and you're like, who the hell are you? And they're like, what do you mean? We've been friends for seven years at what you on TV every day. And just through that lens, he helped me understand that it's that they were misrelating. And that sometimes what happens to us, I think, is people is we're misrelating. We have an idea of the thing that isn't incorrect from our point of view, but is incorrect from the other person's point of view. And so that's what creates the conflict. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. That's what creates the disconnect. And that's what creates the loneliness. That's what creates the isolation. That's what creates the, you know, yeah, it creates an environment that doesn't lend itself to familiarity, to trust, to relaxation. I think that's where it becomes even more important. Yeah. To find your grounding, to find your space to find you like my friends know me in the group. I'm notorious as the vacation guy. I'm the holiday guy. Really, I'm like, where are we going? What are we doing? We're making this happen. I shoot out to list and everything because I don't live back home. Yes. They all do. So I've learned they can take for granted the fact that we'll see each other. And they might go like, Oh, did we plan anything for December? Oh, we didn't. Oh, well, well, we'll do. No, I can't take for granted. And so they know, I go every year. I'm like, God, what are we doing? And what are we doing here? Three times a year, we have to be in the same place. That's amazing. And don't we were going somewhere fancy? No, we might just find a place, a house, and we sit together. And that's what it's going to be. But I make it happen because of that relatability, because that is where I can exist. They can exist. I can exist. They can exist. You know, because sometimes what's funny is it can go the other way for me. Sometimes I will completely be myself with people and they won't know what to do with it because they only have one idea of me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, so they'll meet me and travel. Hey, how are you? Hey, buddy, you came over. If I say something back and they go, Hey, wait, what was that? I'm like, Oh, this is all of me. Yeah. Then I have a reference point. And I get that. And so I, yeah, it's really interesting when you exist in a one dimensional space in terms of, you know, I guess it would be unidirectional. It's like, you know, it's just going that one direction as opposed to it coming back and going, you know? Yeah, definitely. That's such a great answer. I'm one of those people that, like, generally, if I get enough time to meet someone or if I know someone's going to be in my life for an extended period of time, I hire a new person on my team or something like that, I try and show them all of me very quickly. I'm one of those people that like, okay, I'm going to, I'm going to be as jokey as I usually am. I'm going to expose you to how I talk to my wife. Interesting. And I do that not as a, not as a, I definitely do it as a conscious. Yeah. It's not like it happens. It's a conscious attempt at trying to figure out whether this person actually wants to be around me or like me, because I'd rather quickly figure out whether I feel chemistry with someone as opposed to wait to reveal my full self for them to, what you said, to then let them down and then they're like, oh, George, I didn't know you were like this. And so I usually warn people, I'm like, Hey, I make a lot more jokes in person than I do on, on Instagram. And so if I'm like, and I'm banter a lot because of Britain. And so me and my wife will banter a lot. So most people think me and my wife are going to get divorced every day because it is like the way we talk to each other, because we're both from England. I want people to be exposed to that, not because I want them to appreciate or like it. I just want to know quickly whether whether you vibe with you enough. Okay, but aren't you ever concerned going the other way? Because you may go, this is me, this is all of me. Yeah. Now, depending on your position in life, the person may be a certain way to you. Sure. Based on that. Sure. Because they feel they can't, and then they reveal themselves, then what do you do? When they reveal themselves in a positive or like a challenging way, challenging way. In a challenging way, then, well, that's what I'm saying, that it's people that I think are going to be in my life for a longer period of time. And then if it's a team member where we don't get along, then we can both move on and go a separate ways. I wouldn't do it with someone that I'm not getting enough quality time with. How does a monk fire someone?
How does a monk fire someone? (44:43)
How does a monk fire someone? Well, I'm not a monk anymore. I'm still with you. I'd love to know how does a monk fire, like you sit the person down. Oh, God, is, you know what, the thing about it is so uncomfortable. Oh, it is. It is so uncomfortable. I thought maybe as a monk, it was like super chill. And you just come in and you go, in life, everything is happening to you. You know, everything that seems bad could be good. And so do not think of this as me letting you go. But rather think of this as me setting you free. Yeah. I think maybe it would be something more like that. So, that would be brilliant. So it isn't comfortable. Oh, it's so uncomfortable. As in, I've also been let go. So I know what it feels like. Like, I've been in a position where I think I've been let go poorly, where it hasn't been handled well. And I'm very clear on how like having one skill set doesn't just naturally apply to everything. I being a monk doesn't make me good at recruiting people or letting go of people. Those are not transferable skills. There's certain elements of compassion and empathy. But it doesn't make you good at the art that it will cover everything. And it doesn't. It doesn't, right? Like, I think, to give you a very practical example, I felt for a lot of a long time that people needed love. Like, I felt for a long time that I believed that if you love people, then they'll be happy. And they'll feel good about stuff. And I used to believe that. And after trying to express love to people, even in the way they wanted, so not even unconsciously, but I would try and figure out how does this person receive love? Okay. Let me give them love in the way they want to receive love. I realized that so many people were not even operating on that level yet, that all they needed was safety. Like, they just needed a base level of safety. They weren't, they couldn't even accept or receive love because that was such a lofty, deep idea. It's like, they didn't understand how someone who doesn't know them very well could express deep love for them because they've never experienced that before. How do you find the correct safety to convey? And what I mean by that is, we all have a different idea of what safety means.
What is your idea of safety? (46:48)
Going back to your idea of when you were saying stability and stability earlier in the conversation, one of the wildest discoveries I made in therapy was where I was speaking to my therapist. And I realized I am particularly comfortable in chaos. That is where I'm most comfortable. If you're in an airport and flights are being canceled and everything's being delayed, you want me rolling with you. That is me. Problem, I solve it. I genuinely, I find a beautiful hum of peace that comes over me when there is chaos. Traffic, everything caused, that's where I'm comfortable. And yet the flip I also discovered was true, is that when there's calm, now I'm in chaos. And so I learned that I felt safest where most people didn't. And I felt the least safe where most people would. And I learned a lot of that came because growing up in a home where there was domestic abuse, the silence meant you didn't know. Anything could happen at any moment. What's going on? What's happening? You don't know. But when something is happening, all you have to do is deal with it. Yeah. Wow. I mean, that's like, that's such a challenging, difficult idea for people to grasp. Because what you're saying is if I can hear gunshots, at least I know the one shooting's coming from. Correct. Yeah, exactly. I know where to run away from, except you get them saying, "Yeah, no, no, I fully get what you're saying." But I'm just saying that that is a challenging concept for people to get around, because if you've not been brought, if you've not been raised in a space like that, that's so much to do with your upbringing. Yeah. But that's what I mean by safety. So that's why I'm asking. Yeah. So how do you even find that? Because I understand what you mean by love, because again, how we process it, what our languages, et cetera, are so specific. But even safety, my idea of safety isn't the same as your idea of safety. Of course not. Yeah. Whether it'll be in a personal relationship, in a romantic relationship. Some people's idea of safety is, "Hey, you text me every day and you call me to make sure I got home." And another person's idea of safety is, "You leave me alone when I'm busy. That makes me feel safe." You take care of yourself, makes me feel safe. You know what I mean? So how do you then find what the person's idea of safety isn't it? Well, I think it's what you just said, that there's a hierarchy of needs, right? And everyone has their different, like you said, like the base level, and I'm looking at the Vedas, which is what I studied as a monk, and it says that the base level of anyone's motivator is fear and anxiety, right? Like people get motivated by fear and anxiety, so the lack of fear and anxiety is a sense of safety, right? Higher than that is, someone who's motivated by results or goals. So they feel safe when they're moving towards something, they feel safe when they're driving towards a deadline that is clear and active. Another level is tranquility and calm, and it's like someone feels safe when they feel clarity, right? And so similar, what you're saying, like this, so I think what I realized though, was that safety was such a base need of humans, that until you fulfill that need, it loved just, and this is just experience, right? I'm saying this from experience. I just felt like opening my heart to people or like trying to give love to people in a very genuine way. I just felt that it couldn't fully be received because I realized most people have probably never received love even maybe from their parents or their family or from the people they expected to love them. So when someone unexpected comes along and tries to show you love, it's like what is it, what is it want or what is it going on or where does this land? And so I was like, all right, like really back, you know, really back, it just figured out safety first. Anyway, that was at least a personal experience, but why did we get there? We got there because we're talking about this idea with you of like, you know, we're talking about relatability and we're moving through to, you know, safety and love and meeting people and you're talking about how you will reveal all of yourself early on that so that the person I guess is in the safest space really. Yeah, and that's only my method. Again, I'm not saying that's right or wrong. It's just kind of, and even what you said earlier, like you said, like Jay, you always feel safe. I think I feel the opposite too. I feel most unsafe when I think I'm somewhere and I don't have a purpose there. Okay. So if I get invited to a place where I don't feel I have any purpose, you will see me just like, I will last like 30 minutes and then I will leave because I'm just like, what am I going to do here? I'm not just going to shoot the breeze. So do you practice then not doing being in my purpose? Yeah. Yeah. So when I'm in a space like that, I will look at, I will be there. Of course I can, I can have conversations like talking to everything else. You're not crying in a corner or something. No, no, obviously. Yeah. I'm saying, but do you do you then, what I'm asking is do you have to work on that? Yes, absolutely. Yeah, because it's a discomfort. Yes. It's a discomfort that I have to work on, which is, well, I don't know why I'm here. I don't know what my purpose is. And then the, and then sometimes my way of talking to myself is you never know there may be something here. And you have to be open to that. If I live, if I sit here and I'm close to that, then I may never discover anything. If I'm open to it, maybe I'll discover something, maybe I won't. How do you find the balance between knowing when to walk away and when the opportunity may present itself?
When’s the best time to walk away? (52:30)
I feel like that's the greatest challenge in life because sometimes you find yourself at an event, whatever it may be, a work event, a friend, whatever it may be, you know, "Oh man, I'm not having fun here. I'm not having a good time. I'm not." And then as you say, the one idea may be, "Hey, stay in this discomfort and what may come from it is something special, which oftentimes can happen. The flip is true as well. I stayed there for too long. I stayed in that relationship for too long. I stayed at that job for too long. I stayed in that environment for too long. It was discomfort. And I thought I was going to get something out of it. I often hear people saying that even, you know, they'll, you know, friends, colleagues, strangers, sometimes I'll meet. They'll say, "Yeah, but I've just, I've been doing it for so long now. And I just feel like maybe there's something. And, you know, and then I will say, and I don't know if even if I'm right, I go, maybe the lesson you're learning is when to walk away or how to walk away. But I don't even know this myself first, Trevor. You know, you may leave the thing that that's making you uncomfortable because of that. You have a certain bit of experience. Totally. And you go, "Oh, that's why I left because this was supposed to happen. You always confirm. It was a confirmation bias." Absolutely. Or you stay in there, something happens and you go like, "Oh, I was always supposed to stay." So how do you know or do you accept the fact that you don't know? I think that's, I think you literally just answered. You're like, "We'll take us on the hard journey." All right. I'm just thinking, "Yeah, no, no, you're spot on. You don't know. You don't know, right? And you can only, you can, I think it's also a matter of time, right? I think if I was, and this is again, personal, but there's a difference between, like, if we got here on this beautiful setup that we have that you were admiring and you were saying, "You like the energy and how I do too." If we got here on Friday, which was when we first started filming here, if I didn't like it on Friday, if I didn't like the energy and I could tell the guests didn't like the energy, I would have shifted the room immediately because I'm not going to wait around if I'm clear on something or I'm sensing it. I think jobs are harder because they provide exactly. And so I think when things are tied to your survival, we tend to spend longer in them than we probably should because that safety again and security is so tied to that. And I think that's why relationships, as you rightly pointed out, homes, like I was just talking to my uncle or not, like, you know, my grandparents have passed away, they've moved on and, you know, they've been wanting to move home, they've said for many, many years, but now they're doing, they live in London and they have a house and they want to, they want to move to a different environment, they've always wanted. But now they're like, "No, no, no, but all our memories in this house." Right? And so there's that familiarity and they're like, "No, I don't want to leave even though I don't love this house as a structure and as a space. I don't want to leave." And I think that's what we do with people. But I guess that's a good question for you, that you've obviously had to find home again and again, you've continued to find it in yourself. Like, how have you let go of previous identities and personalities and are you, because that's where we started? Like, I think I've had to do that a lot of times, like, even when you said monk and I always say, "Well, I'm not anymore." And the reason I say that is because I had to let go of so many parts of that identity that don't serve me anymore. There are lots of parts of that identity that serve me massively. There are lots of parts of that identity that don't serve me anymore. Same with anything, like any work I've done. So, I guess today when you're deciding who you want to be, one of the things I've taken away from this episode for sure and talking to you, and I genuinely enjoyed talking to you, is we know you're a very smart, intellectual, thoughtful person about what's happening in the world. But what I find really beautiful and refreshing is that today you're doing the same things internally on your inner world. Has that always been a habit? You even said today when you walked in before we even started recording, you were like, "Shay, when I've been on all day, I need to just reflect and decompress and think about stuff." Has that always been a habit? Is there a method you use?
Having conversations with yourself (56:37)
Is there an approach? Or is it just something you naturally just go into that inner world? Although I'm not particularly religious, I would have to say growing up religious instilled within me the idea that I could have conversations with myself, and they were necessary in order for me to process what I was going through. That's what prayer is, in my opinion. It's a conversation that you are having multiple times a day. You are remembering, you are thinking, you are discussing, you are exposing your vulnerabilities, whatever it may be, you are doing. In doing that as a little child, getting on my knees and praying, one of my favorite lessons that my mom taught me was that your relationship with God is your relationship with God. If I was in trouble, she wouldn't say to me, "Pray in front of me. Let me hear you pray." No, she would be like, "You go and pray." What I am grateful for in that experience was that my relationship with God was then always my relationship with God. It was my conversation. It wasn't performative. It wasn't... I remember as a little kid, just like asking random questions, "I'd go to bed and I'd be like, "Oh, God, man, why do I break things all the time?" I don't know what it is. I mean, you were there with me. I don't know why. Why don't you stop me sometimes? You never stop me. I would just be there as a kid and I would... I don't want to break things, but then I broke it and I knew it was going to break. Now, mom's angry and, "Please try and make it not as angry." But I'd have these conversations and I would feel different afterwards. I would feel better. I'd feel like I'd processed something. That is an element of prayer that I think a lot of people take for granted is that processing of the information that's oftentimes just running away in your head, like just really running away in your head. In that, I just try and ask questions. I always tell people, "I don't know if I don't think I'm smart. I think I'm... I think I'm more and more confident in being an idiot, to be honest with you. I have friends who I consider smart because I can ask them about anything. I have friends who know about quantum gravity and whatever it is, of space books. I always go like, "You're reading space books again. I have friends who know about the deepest trenches of football history. I know friends who... They're smart in my opinion, but I'm proud to say I'm an idiot." And so, when you let go of that sometimes, what I find is I then enjoy asking questions. In most of my work, that's what I'm doing is I'm asking questions. As a comedian, I'm asking questions of how we live in society. Why do we accept certain things the way we do? And I think it's funny that we do. Have you ever noticed how? And that's what a lot of comedians do. They're asking a question about something that everybody accepts as the norm. I do it in my job on the Daily Show. I ask questions about how people see politics and why they see politics and whatever it may be. I ask questions. I remember one day someone said to me, some random person who said to me, "It's crazy. You came to this country and as a Democrat, you probably would say, "Wait, what do you mean as a Democrat? In my country, we don't have that. In many political parties, we're not forced into a binary system. That's already... You didn't ask a question. You made an assumption." And so, even that has helped me where I come from. There is not just this or that. America has a very play-hitting vibe to it. It's like, "Look what that party is doing and look at that." It's like, "Yeah, but if you're voting for these things, shouldn't you be concerned about what you're going for? It's your party." But as a comedian, I'm going, "Where are the jokes? I'll follow the jokes. I'll tell you that much." Because that's what my purpose is in that moment. And this goes to everything I do in life. I've been lucky enough to work on different projects like yourself. I work in tech. I work with Microsoft and things. Funny, I remember the presence of the company one day because it's like, "We're going to call you the chief questions officer for now." That's so good. Because I've been lucky. I love tech. And a lot of tech is asking questions. A lot of what I do in life is enjoying asking questions and becoming less afraid of how stupid you may seem or feel asking the question. And that's oftentimes what I see with kids. The reason they learn as quickly is they do, it's not just because of their brains. But I think it's because they don't have an idea of who they are or aren't supposed to be. And so they ask questions. And they ask questions. And they ask questions. And they ask questions. And they ask questions. And they ask questions. And so what happens is, A, they get answers. But B, they discover that the people they ask from the questions oftentimes don't even have the answer. They just assumed an idea or the way the world was. And I often remind myself that if I become too tied to the idea of being smart or being informed or knowing, then I'm trapped. I would rather say, I try to be smart. I try to be informed. But if there's one thing I know I am, "Oh, it's an idiot. And there's nothing wrong with that. And I enjoy it." Because then I can be the smartest idiot you've ever met. And I can be the most informed idiot you've ever met. And I'm fine with that. Because I'm just trying to be the most natural me. That's a good identity. One thing I've noticed, by the way, you asked questions in our interview when you interviewed me, but also today. And something I appreciate. And it's rare is, I think most people, when you were saying like someone assumed you were a Democrat, I think most people ask questions in order to either agree or disagree with what comes out the other person's mouth. But we ask our best questions when we simply ask to learn and infer. And so now it's not asking to see whether we are on the same page. You're just asking to know. Because I think what we often do is we ask a question. And even if the base answer kind of sounds similar, we're like, "Oh, we're on the same page." Like, "Oh, me and you, we're like, we have the same values." And it's like, "Well, no, we don't. We just haven't dug deep enough." And I think we're often not patient. And I think that's why in so many relationships in our lives and everywhere, what you said, you said, "A friend is someone who I know how they'd be in most situations." And I think when you quickly go, "Oh, yeah, yeah, we have the same values. We have the same belief system." That's often incorrect because we just haven't asked enough questions to infer because we really want to feel, does that hit a nerve? Yeah. Well, that does actually. I feel like that when you ask questions. And so I'm throwing that back at you saying, when you ask questions, I'm like, "So going back to what we were talking about, or being an outsider, being an insider, where do I find home? Where do I find familiarity?
Childhood, Family, And Identity
When you leave home (01:03:37)
You are familiar with this to a certain degree because of moving out of the UK, going to India, you know, going on that journey and then moving from then and then coming to America. It's another. One thing that happens to you when you leave home is that you have to then either find home or you have to understand why this is home or you have to become comfortable in a new space so that it will be your new home. And the best way to do that is by understanding is what I find. Oftentimes you aren't forced to understand if you are in the majority. If the norm is your world, you're fine. Yeah. If everyone has your accents, well, then you don't need to understand another accent. If everybody is your skin color, you don't need to understand another skin color. Everybody's your culture. If everybody's your language, if everybody's your, you know, socio-economic class, whatever it may be, then you don't need to understand. And so what I've grown up with, because I grew up with a black woman, also a woman, being my mother, white man, Swiss man, being my father, family mixed country, broken up, separated because of class, because of race predominantly, I found myself often having to understand whatever it was, language, culture, music, food, idea, I have to understand. And what I found is that is often the fastest path to home is just understanding. You know, hammock is a terrible bed unless you understand how to sleep in this. And I think the same goes for everyone and everything. Foreign country doesn't feel like home until you understand the language. And then all of a sudden things start to work. Yeah. You know, so when I ask a question of you, as Jay, I genuinely do it to understand, you know, because if you know with you, I agree and I'm genuinely trying to understand more because the things I may disagree with funny enough more is like how I'm living my life and I'm trying to understand more about like how you see and then how do I, you know, it's not to agree or disagree with more to like, I mean, yeah, that's yeah. And then sometimes it'll be with people where don't agree with them. So I want to understand. I see the world in, it seems so clear to me. Can you explain why you don't see what I'm seeing? Yeah. You know, that's that's oftentimes what clays me as a person is, I think we live in a world now where there are fewer and fewer experiences that we all relate to or that we've all gone through. And so while that's great for individualism and it's great for us, you know, living in our own niche, it has robbed us of a collective understanding. And so whether it's in politics or whether it's in society, whatever it is, you know, I think it's healthy to disagree. Yeah. You know, Jay, I don't think that that's that. But it's another thing to say, you know, oh, that's my parking. No, that's my parking versus that's my parking. What parking? Wait, you don't see a parking? Well, now we're in a bigger and that's why I feel like society is moving towards as everything, entertainment, social media, all these things become more niche. I think we're losing that collective space to be in. And so because I've always been outside, because I've never been part of, I've always been forced to understand. Why do you do that? Why do you say that? How do you eat this? You know, so when I'm in India and I'm eating and I go, can you help me? Help me understand why you use your hand the way you do? What are you trying to? Okay, great chopsticks for the first time I have to eat all these things as opposed to assuming or even not being willing to. And so maybe that's why I ask a question the way I do. Yeah. Is because I just don't understand why you see the world the way you do. And once I do, I now get to hold two truths. I get to see how you see the world. I get to know how I see the world. And I may augment my way of seeing it or I'll be able to help you understand why I see it the way I do because I now understand yours. I don't think I can do that if I don't ask. Absolutely. That's exactly what I'm trying to say is that when I was saying learn, that's what I mean, understand. Like you're asking to learn, you're asking to understand. There's not an asking to say, yes, we're the same or no, we're not the same. And I've read somewhere when I was looking at this interview about how you were saying, like, because you've never felt of something, you've always felt outside, you've always been able to see the full picture. And I was literally just saying this today that I grew up in a home where my parents rarely agreed on anything. And I was always the mediator. Interesting. And so I would sit and listen to my mom. And I would understand how she felt. Interesting. And then I'd sit and listen to my dad. And I always had an equal level of love and respect for them from their individual relationship with me, even though collectively they didn't have it together. And I found that when I read that about you, I was wanting to ask you about it because I was like, that's where I feel happier learning about people and trying to understand people. Because I could see both my mom and dad were right in so many ways. Like I would sit with my mom and be like, how does dad not see that? And I would sit with dad and be like, how does mom not see that? Like, how are we missing this part of the picture? And I felt miserably trying to help the situation. But I think that's partly why I do what I do today. Because so much of me was exposed to different opinions. So when I read that about you, I was like, yeah, go on. I'd love to know, how did you deal with that feeling? Like, how did you deal with the idea?
The burden our parents unconsciously give us (01:09:25)
And I know you're saying it flippantly in conversation, but like, how did you deal with the pressure and the idea that you failed to reconcile what was happening between the two of them? I think to me years to accept that and to feel that way. Because I think when you're a kid, it's what you said, you just accept that this is normality. So when I was a kid, I didn't even think of it. So it's normal. Parents don't get along. I want to help my mom out. I'm a good son. I want to help my dad out. You know, we're figuring it out. And I'd probably say I spent a good part of like, at least my adult life. So say from, well, maybe not even I'd hope maybe since I was 10. They're maybe from 10 to 21, like probably 11 years trying to fix that and trying to think I could fix that or that we could improve it. And while things got better, sorry, just to your point, because you were trying to create the safety because as a child, I feel like there are a few things that make you feel less safe than your two parental figures, you know, sorry, but carry on. No, no, no, no, please. It's interesting. I'm just saying going back to the safety that you're saying you're trying to make your world because love didn't work. It didn't matter how many Valentine's days there were. It didn't matter how many romantic gestures it didn't matter. I'm saying I love you or a love letter, but it was safety. Yeah. And so I was trying that probably for a good 11 years. And then I think when I went off to the monastery, it was still there in my heart. And then I think while I was there, I was like, okay, I have to let go of this because it's not my responsibility. It's not my ability. I don't have the powers to fix this. And that's okay. And that if I'm able to let go of this, then not only with things improved there, I can help people who want to be helped as well. And I think that was a whole like, like a 15 year journey to get to that, because otherwise you hold it as your, like your like responsibility. Like this is my job almost. Yeah. And I think that's what many of us have done is we have been burdened with, and oftentimes subconsciously a job or a role that our parents didn't realize they were burdening us with. Wow. You know, oftentimes I find it so interesting how the loudest parents who aren't good at reading a room will have the most shy child. Yes. You know, and then the parents who aren't good at being outgoing and they'll have kids who are running and screaming and greeting everybody and talking to them, because there's this interesting thing that happens in nature where I feel like, you know, the child tries to correct for what the parent may be lacking. Wow. You know, so true. And it's really fascinating that you say that. Yeah, because what happens is over time, you get to an age where then you have to take off, you know, that armor, take off that cape, take off that designation, that designation. And understand that now you've lived that, you've gained the tools from it. It's become a lot of who you are today, but you have to let it go. And that that I find is terrifying because the only thing scarier than accepting who we are is accepting that we don't know who we are going to be when we let go of the things that have made us who we are today. Yeah. And that's that not knowing as simple as leaving a party early. It's that same feeling of discomfort of like, did I make the right choice? If I stayed here, would it have, if I kept that role, would it have? And yeah, I was talking to a client the other day and she said something really interesting. She was saying, I just never grew up with an opinion. She goes, I've just never really had an opinion. And I've known her for some time. So it was a fairly, it was a it was a progressed conversation. It wasn't the first time. And we were talking about it. She was saying, well, I've never really had an opinion on this or that. And so when people ask me what I want to do or when my partner asked me what I want to do, I kind of like go along with it. But now I'm starting to question, like, am I living my life or someone else's? And it was really interesting because we were really getting into it. And I started talking to her about her parents and family dynamic. And she said something really phenomenal to me. She said that my brother and my dad always used to argue. And I was the peacemaker. And she goes, when I felt pain, I never shared it because it would create more complexity. And so I accept that she came to the conclusion that the reason I don't have an opinion is because it disturbs the piece. And when I don't have an opinion, the piece is kept. And I was, you know, those are the kind of things that we're saying. Like we take the designation of peacemaker, you take the role and the designation of whatever I was. Yes. Sometimes the comedians take on the role of being a comedian because you kind of get around the laugh and everyone, you know. And so I think these roles that you're talking about are really, it's a really beautiful way that you said it that we adopt this job and this role and this designation. I think we do. And I often think sometimes it is necessary. Of course. I think it may be evolutionary. Whatever it is, you know, again, that's why I don't go to, it's bad, it's good. I go, it is. It is. It just is. And in understanding it, I realize there's nothing wrong with it being, as long as you know when to let it go. You know, I often think about seat belts when I'm in a car, on a plane. Sometimes I forget that I'm wearing the seat belt. I love wearing my seat belts, especially on a plane. I buckle it long before they tell. I'm like in strapped. I don't know what it is. I love it. Back on the whole flight, even when you see it go off, you know, when they'll turn seat belt like on, I'm like, what do you mean on the whole flight? I will be wearing the seat belt. Thank you very much. And what will happen sometimes, I'm so comfortable. It's been the whole time. When we land, we chill, I don't rush to get my bags any of that. And then I'll stand and the seat belt will pull me. And it's always like, I love to myself. It always happens because it's really down. And it just, you know, as I jumped, I was like, it pulls me back down. I always giggle and I unbuckle it. And I found myself thinking the one day, I was like, it's amazing how this device is brilliant. It saves your life, you know, in a car crash, you know, you, you know, plane crash on a runway or whatever. I don't know how much it'll save you in a big one, but still, you know, but this thing is, it holds you. Wow. It's helping you stay in tech. It's helping you stay in the place you need to be in. But if you don't know how to let it go when you need to, now you're trapped. Yeah. And so that's what I'm constantly trying to work on, which is so hard. Yeah. Man, I go like, okay, all right, my safety belt, my seat belt, all right, it might be my personality. It might be the way I see the world. It might be how I've learned to interact with others. It might be anything, how I eat, how I think, what I do, what I don't, what I love, what I will, all these things. And I get that. And I always just try and ask myself, okay, all right, is this still your seat belts? Or has it now become a trapping? And I always just have to ask myself that question. It's extremely difficult. I spend, you know, you just go around and run as well. Sometimes I do, you know, a lot of the time I'll, I'll be chill. Yeah, sometimes, whoo. I don't think I can watch Harry Potter the same again. I don't think I could be on a plane the same again. Like, I love how you think. I think it's so refreshing to hear that. And I, the biggest thing I'm talking about, this is just this ability to really question our lives, question things. I think that is the purpose of life is to start asking questions. And what I loved about, at least the scriptures I studied on the Eastern side, they're all Q&A's. Like, they're all Q-question and answers. None of them are like talking or lecturing or- These are the Vedas you're talking about? The Vedas, yeah. Yeah, they're all Q&A's. And I think that was a big part of how we were trained to believe that all inquiry was the birth of wisdom. Like, it had to be an inquiry. It had to be a conversation. It couldn't be a lecture or a seminar. And, you know, I think when I sit with you and whenever I've sat with you and whenever I've watched you, which I've admired you for so long, I think that the quality of questioning is really what we should be more focused on than the result and the answers, as you were saying earlier, that if we asked questions, we were actually interested in knowing the answers to you. We'd actually listen to the answer. But Trevor, we end the show with two segments. These are fast segments.
The Many Sides to Us (01:17:54)
You've been more than generous with your time. So the first segment is called the many sides to us. And so this, you have to answer in one word. And there's five questions. So are you ready? I'm ready. Okay. What is one word to describe what someone would say about you meeting you for the first time? Friendly. Friendly. Okay, yeah. Friends and friendly. Two different things, but friendly. Okay. Question number two. What is one word to describe what someone would say about you that knows you extremely well? Consistent. Nice. Okay. Question number three. What is one word you'd use to describe yourself? Mecurial. Okay. All right. Now I'm going to have to ask you to expand. Like that was not expecting that word. That is a very, yeah, tell me why that word. Like you can now go off one word. Like I'm consistent in the fact that I'm also mercurial. Part of it funny enough, I think was not created by it, but as somebody who has ADHD, it took me a long time to learn in life what that did to my brain, how that affected how I processed time, an idea, a thought, an object, any inquiry that I would have could be in some way, shape or form affected by that. And I think funny enough, there's a huge misunderstanding. Sometimes I actually, you know, hate how we've created a lot of the conversations around the mind is the best way to put it, you know, because some of the terms have become so wrote and some of the ideas have become so simple when they're not. I remember when I was young, when I was diagnosed with ADHD, they made it seem like you can't pay attention when in fact, it's the fact that you can't choose what to pay pay your attention to. Very good at paying attention. Yeah. And so, wow, wow, oh, yeah. It's a very nuanced subtle. Yeah. It makes a big difference. Yeah, it makes a big difference. It's a tiny thing. And so, what's been wonderful for me in life is learning again how to be grateful for how I've dealt with something, not even looking at it through the lens of good or bad, but just going it is and then understanding it like that, you know. And that's what I mean by, I think we've really hurt ourselves in society with how we've had some conversations because we've made it seem bad or good as opposed to understanding because it may not be the same as the norm, you know. So, is a short person good or bad? No, they're just short. And the reason we say short is because they're short relative to the general population. The same way someone who's tall is tall relative to the general population. Now, if you're tall, you may be bumping your head a lot more than other people. If you're short, you may not be reaching the things that people have put at an average height. I think the same thing goes for the mind. If you're blessed enough to have a mind or a mentality that is of the norm, most things will work for you and most things will make sense in life. If your mind isn't, that's why they use divergence, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong, but you need to understand how your mind will react to a world that has been designed in a certain way. And so, that is why I've learned to understand and accept. I go, I'm mercurial. Again, was a friend who taught me that. And I loved it once I understood it. First, I was like, no, I'm not. He's like, yeah, you're mercurial. And I was like, first of all, explain the word. Yeah. And then he explained it to me. I was like, I'm not that. I'm the, and then I realized I could could, I could be two things. Yeah. I'm extremely consistent. Anyone who needs me knows me, they know where to find me, they know how I'll be. But I'm also mercurial in that how I feel about this on a day and how I feel about that on a day may be more extreme than somebody else's range. And so, in that, again, just the understanding and asking the questions of myself, I then, I then exist in a space where I understand. So it'll be funny. Sometimes I'll meet people and they'll get distracted and be like, oh, sorry, that's my ADHD. And I'm like, that's not what it is. But yeah, right. Whatever. You know, like people have done this with everything. Oh, I'm sorry. I'm OCD. It's like, I don't know. Okay. Yeah, that's not what it. Yeah. And so we have these very limited understandings of these words. Yes, character is what the things may be. And we've also created an idea of them being a bad, correct, good, whatever. It's like, no, it's just understanding. The same thing we did with glasses at some point, nearsighted, farsighted, I wear gloss. And now, and then at some point, it was just, that's what it is. Yeah. I think we have a long way to go in the conversations we have around the mind. Yes. Getting us to the same place where when you meet someone, they can say that to you. And you now understand that the, oh, I wear glasses. Okay, great. Yes. You know, whereas I'm sure there was a point where it was like, I wear glasses. So you're blind. And now people are just like, oh, you wear glasses or you wear glasses or you wear contacts? Okay, cool. That's that's who you are. Yeah. And I think that's what it is that our vocabulary around the mind and our psychology is very limited. And you're spot on. And one thing that you said that really struck a quote was the idea that if the world is designed for the average, then the challenge is that anyone outside of it feels broken. And that's where I think we've gone wrong, where it's like, there's a weakness or a broken. It's like, no, the world, if the world was designed for those people, then we'd feel broken. And it's just that the world's been designed for this few people. If you created a new planet that was for only people who had a certain, certain disposition, then it would be a very different case. Yeah, I know. I love that. That's a great, that's another whole two-hour comment. We'll come back after that. Yeah, we'll save it. All right, question number four. What is one word that if someone didn't agree with you or like you, what would they say about you? Not like I'm not talking about like an internet troll or something like, stubborn, right? Yeah. Yeah, there you go. That's a good word. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's good. That makes sense. I like that. All right, question number five. What is a word that you're trying to embody right now? Is there like a focus, a presence with a particular characteristic or value or belief? Mindful. Great. All right, that's great. That's a fantastic. Most people struggle with this. So you did, you hit it out of the park. All right, these are the final five. These are easy one word to one sentence.
End Discussion With Trevor
Trevor on Final Five (01:24:03)
What's the best advice you've ever received? Never assume. It's a great piece of advice. Second question, what is the worst piece of advice you've ever heard? Always be yourself. That's really all right. There are times to be yourself. Don't just be yourself. People say they'll relax. But you just be yourself. Relax. Yeah. You know when to be yourself is a better piece of advice I can give you. That's good. Question number three. What is something you used to value that you no longer value? Same. So there was a time when it was important and me and yeah. Oh, yeah. I think I thought that it would give me something that I searched for my whole life and that was a certain sense of belonging. No, because there's a familiarity you have with people when you see them. I never cared for through the lens of like, I'm better. I know. But I was like, oh, man, everyone knows that person. Everyone likes that person. And yeah, I was this kid and I grew up alone for solo. I was like, oh, I'll be familiar with the word fame. And you look at the root. And I was like, oh, that thing, I'll be familiar. And then ironically, as I said, it jumps straight to your unfamiliar. And so then I realized, I was like, oh, man, you don't think that it will come from something, but rather understand what you're trying to achieve and then figure out how you're trying to get there. That's beautiful. I love that. Question number four, how would you define your current purpose as being a fertilizer for everything and everyone I come into contact with, I would hope to be somebody who enriches the soil that I touch. I would hope to be somebody who improves somebody's life in the slightest of ways, whether it's helping you solve a problem, whether it's giving you directions in the streets in New York, whether it's making you laugh at a show, talking about politics, whatever it may be, I would hope to do what a good fertilizer does in that it enables the soil to be richer and enables the plant to grow taller. It brings all of the pieces together. It becomes a food. It becomes a food that creates more food. It's not a zero-sum game. I would say that would probably be what I'd like to focus on most right now, even for myself, because fertilizer even makes itself bigger. It grows itself. You add more mulch to it and it keeps on going. I think even for me, I look to try and fertilize as much as I can. I love that. That is one of my favorite answers to that question we've ever had. All right, fifth and final question of the whole interview. If you could create one law, Daven way in the world had to follow what it would be. Everyone in the world, right? I'll create a law that said everyone everywhere in the world randomly, randomly, randomly could be given the lowest person's bank account. That would be the law is that we do this weird system where whenever it may be every year, randomly, the lowest person's bank account can just go out and become everybody's bank account. Wow. The reason I would do that is because I think if we lived in a society where more people felt like their fate was tied to the least of us, they would have a little more compassion and think a little more about how those people may or may not be existing. That's why I say I wouldn't say anyone can't be rich. I'm not saying that. I wouldn't say anyone can't make as much money as they want. Oh, no, go ahead. We should all be doing that. Enjoy it. Go for it. I would just want this whole to know that the lowest bank balance, the lowest amount that someone has could randomly go out and I wouldn't be to everyone. Yeah, I get that. It would be like 10% of the population. That's what's going to happen. It's the law. Every year, 10% of the population, your bank balance becomes what the person with the least amount has in the world. I just wonder how we would live. I genuinely would because yeah, I think sometimes, and I understand it, capitalism, hyper-capitalism, this thing we've been tricked into and believing that, no, for you to have, I cannot have as if trading didn't exist long before. All of that has tricked us into a world of believing that mine is only mine and yours cannot come with it. So I wonder what would happen in that space. I think even myself, everyone would pay a lot more attention. You're like, "Yo, how much do you have? We need to get your balance up." Yeah. Because I'm trying to keep my life as comfortable as it is. Yeah. And the feeling of it could be any of us. Because it could be. Yeah, that mindset. People take it for granted, Jade. It could always be any of us. 100%. Yeah. Luck is the most random. You can work as hard as you want. Luck is a huge factor. You can be the best. Luck is a fact. You can be the worst. Luck is a fact. So, you know, it really could be any one of us. And so I don't take for granted that I'm lucky. I work hard. I try and, you know, I try and shape as much of the environment that my luck will exist within, but I never take for granted that I'm lucky. Trevor, there's a new thing I learned about you today that you don't just ask good questions, but you really honor answering questions. I hate to work with people, don't, by the way. Yeah. Well, you want to talk more on my pet peeves. Thank you. Thank you. Trevor, that is so special. Everyone has been listening or watching wherever you are in the world. I hope you appreciated that conversation as much as I did. I hope you could see that we're genuinely just having a good time and getting to know each other and learning and going back and forth. But I think there were so many great insights in this conversation. And I'd love to see where you took away. So please do share them wherever you're sharing, whether it's Instagram or TikTok or Twitter or wherever it is. I'd love to hear what you learned, what you took away, what you gathered from this conversation, what you collected, what you questioned. Right? I think that's the biggest thing. What did you question? What is a question that you're asking that you never asked before today? And want to give a big thank you to Trevor for showing up and giving all this time. I will admit though, I didn't do this just as good as my heart came because I remember seeing a clip of yours many, many, many years ago. And you talked about how we don't know how to breathe. I remember that. I remember even watching and I was like, sitting at home, I was like, I don't know how to breathe. And since then, it's stuck with me. I was like, one day I'm going to meet this guy and I'm going to ask him to teach me how to breathe. Oh, we'll have to do that. I know that. No. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you, Jay. Thank you for this, man. No, I appreciate it. Honestly, no. Thank you. I appreciate it. You're the best. This is awesome. If you want even more videos just like this one, make sure you subscribe and click on the boxes over here. I'm also excited to let you know that you can now get my book, Think Like A Monk from ThinkLikeAMonkBook.com. Check below in the description to make sure you order today.