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The Exercise Expert: This Popular Lifestyle Is Killing 1 Person Every 33 Seconds! Michael Easter | Transcription
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2,000 heart disease deaths a year in Europe were due to the noise that people live in. Jesus. The world we live in now, that is not how humans are designed to live. Michael Easter. Best-selling author. Journalist. Professor of psychiatry. He's on a mission. To save us from the comfort crisis. Crisis. Crisis. Is it really a crisis? As a species, we evolved to do the easiest, most comfortable thing. But we eventually end up paying a price for it. People are burned out, stressed out, more mental health problems. And we're looking for the next pleasure. And the industry really leans into this addiction. For example, slot machines. Once they got rid of handles and just put a spin button, people went from playing 400 games in an hour to an average of 900. If you break that down by a minute, that's more than we blink. And then we engineered movement out of our lives with our new job, sitting in these chairs eight hours a day. Now, 2% of people take the stairs when there is also an escalator available. And now we have heart disease, the number one killer of humans globally. This drive that we have to do the most comfortable thing is a problem. As people experience fewer and fewer problems, we don't become more satisfied. We simply start searching for the next problem. Really? Yes. We've become unhappier. Usage of the word "love" halved between 1965 and 2015. And negative words like "hate" increased. We need to realize that it's your ancient brain working against you. It's not your fault, but it is your problem. I want to take back control. How do we break out of this? I call this concept being a 2%er. And if you apply this, I guarantee you will end up healthier and learn what you're capable of. The first step is... Quick one. This is really, really fascinating to me. On the back end of our YouTube channel, it says that 69.9% of you that watch this channel frequently over the lifetime of this channel haven't yet hit the subscribe button. I just wanted to ask you a favor. It helps this channel so much if you choose to subscribe. Helps us scale the guests, helps us scale the production, and it makes this show bigger. So if I could ask you for one favor, if you've watched this show before and you've enjoyed it and you like this episode that you're currently watching, could you please hit the subscribe button? Thank you so much. And I will repay that gesture by making sure that everything we do here gets better and better and better and better. That is a promise I'm willing to make you. Do we have a deal? Michael, there's a quite obvious through line throughout your work.
Discussion On Modern Life Issues And Solutions
Whats your mission? (02:08)
So I wanted to ask you if you had to sort of encapsulate and summarize the mission that you're on with the work that you do, the books that you write, how would you summarize that mission? I think that in the context of today and the world we live in now, you often have to embrace short-term discomfort to get a long-term benefit. So I think the world is set up in a way now where things are easy, things are more effortless, and while that is good, overall that's a result of progress, I think by not having moments that press back against us, and this could be everything from taking the stairs to being willing to have hard conversations in your life, all those sorts of things, we lose something about being a human and lose the things that keep us healthy and happy. I would argue in the comfort crisis that the things that most impact your day-to-day life today, how you live, everything from cars, climate control, to the food system, to on and on and on, they're all relatively new in the grand scheme of time and space. They're all new within the last hundred years. I mean, here's a great example. Digital media. The average person today takes in 12 to 13 hours of digital media a day. The radio was invented maybe a hundred years ago. That is an insane shift in how people spend their time and attention every day. And the brain hasn't caught up? No. No. So we, you know, a lot of my work, it looks at, it takes an anthropological lens, really. It looks at how humans were shaped over time and how we have these adaptations that used to make sense in these environments where what we needed to survive was scarce, where the world was hard and uncomfortable and life took effort. And those things kept us alive, right? But when you put us in a world where we've engineered the world to be kind of a lot easier, in a lot of ways, where we have an abundance of all these things that were sort of built to crave everything from food to stuff to information, to even status and influence, we now have an abundance of all those things and these sort of ancient drives we have, this ancient hardware, it can backfire in these new environments. So it's called an evolutionary mismatch. What is the modern symptoms of that evolutionary mismatch? Chronic diseases. So for example, you know, people didn't really get heart disease until we started engineering movement out of our lives with our new jobs and started eating more because we had a massive supply of food, thanks to advances in agriculture. I think there's mental health issues too. People are, you know, burned out, stressed out. Our collective lack of fitness, I think, too, has led to a lot of health issues. So for example, in the past, our ancestors probably were about 14 times more physically active than us. 14 times. It's a crazy number. So when they do, when scientists do studies on hunter-gatherers today, which are a way to get to the ideas of how humans used to live in the past, groups will generally walk more than 20,000 steps a day. And that's just an average day. Today, the average American, and I would assume probably the average Brit as well, we're probably about in the same place, walk anywhere from, you know, 4,000 to 5,000 steps a day. That is just so little in the grand scheme of time and space. We had to be active to live and survive. And this drive that we have to do the next easiest, most comfortable thing, it often backfires today.
Mind-Blowing Findings from Studying Hunter-Gatherers & Native Tribes (05:58)
I imagine in preparation for your books, you spend a significant amount of time studying hunter-gatherer communities and native tribes and things like that. I'm so fascinated by that. So fascinated because I think most of the answers we're in search of in our modern lives exist behind us instead of in front of us, if that makes sense. What have you learnt about the differences in how they lived versus how we live now? You talk there about movement and activity. Is there any other sort of really central differences that are pertinent to health outcomes? Yeah, I mean, well, food is one of them, right? So as part of this new book, Scarcity Brain, when you look at the diseases that kill humans, modern humans, it's heart disease. Now, the crazy thing about heart disease is that people also don't worry about it. So when you look at what people worry of is going to kill them, it's cancer, it's terror attacks, it's the crazy neighbour next door with the gun, it's all these whatever things. And heart disease is way down the list. But what actually kills people is heart disease, full stop. Like that is the number one killer of humans globally, especially if you live in a developed country. So I have that in the back of my mind. And I come across this paper, this study, and it found a tribe in Bolivia with the healthiest hearts ever recorded by science. The reason they don't seem to get heart disease, as well as a lot of other chronic diseases that we get and that kill us, for example, they don't seem to get Alzheimer's, tracks back to what they eat. And what they eat at some point in the day, which is fascinating, is that it is going to give the middle finger to every single fad diet you've heard of over the last 40 years. So it's not necessarily low fat, it's not low carb, it's not vegan, it's not paleo, it's not all these different diets you've heard of, right. But the one commonality that all their food has is that it has just one ingredient. So they're eating things like foods like rice, they're eating potatoes, they're eating red meat from Amazonian deer, they're eating a lot of fish, they're eating nuts, they're eating fruits, they're eating, they even eat sugar, right? Like how many diets do we have where they're like, if you eat a gram of sugar, the kidneys are going to explode and you're going to die on the spot. And so for me, the takeaway was that when you look at what the average person in a developed country eats, it's a lot of very ultra processed foods. So ultra processed foods are basically, that's a euphemism for junk food. It's what scientists use to describe junk food, you know. And it's stuff packed with all sorts of ingredients and triggers that lead us to overeat, more or less. So when you take a food through a ton of processing, right, like a Dorito, you guys have those in the UK? Yeah, we have Doritos. Oh, thank God. You concentrate the calories. So one, the food tastes way better than anything you'd find in the jungle. Like when I was living with these people, I'm not going to lie, the food was not that delicious. It really wasn't. So you make the food taste a lot better and you also concentrate the calories. The food becomes a lot easier to eat. You can eat more faster. So there's these interesting experiments at the NIH where they will lock people in a lab and they will give them an unprocessed diet. And then for the next period of time, they will give them an ultra processed diet, a sort of junk food diet. Now, everything about these diets is matched, like the calories, the carbs, the protein, the fat. And they say, you know, eat as much as you want until you're full. And when people eat the foods that have fewer ingredients, the unprocessed foods, they end up eating 500 fewer calories a day and they end up losing weight. So that's just one example of how things have changed. So in Scarcity Brain in particular, I'm looking at how everything we needed to survive in the past was scarce and hard to find. And so it made sense to, when you got the opportunity, to overdo those things, whether it be food, whether it be gathering possessions, right, tools, whether it be trying to gain status over other people, trying to gain influence, whether it was information. And now we have an abundance of all of those things, right? We've got grocery stores packed with thousands and thousands of foods on all sorts of corners. Information. Think about the internet. The average person in one day today sees more information than a person 700 years ago would have seen in their entire life. Jesus. Entire life. Think of status and influence, right? It used to be that we would be in these tribes of people that would have maybe 150 people max. It was very clear what your sort of rank was, right? Because we got a leader, we got some whatever. But now you can blast out stuff about yourself to millions of people at one time. You talk in your work about, I think that was in the first book, The Comfort Crisis, about how kind of sort of adjacent to that, being in large groups has adverse consequences for our health and happiness.
Challenges of Living in Dense Urban Environments & Big Offices (10:51)
This number of 150 people in an office space really made me consider a couple of decisions I've made. What is the basis for that? And what is the key takeaway? So the number is called Dunbar's number. And it's by this researcher, Robin Dunbar. I hope I got his first name right. The theory is that groups of people, as we evolved, we probably didn't get over 150 people. Now, because of this, today when we have groups of more than 150 people, things get complicated. Right? Because once a group of people gets over 150, you got to remember a lot more interconnected relationships. You got to remember a lot more names. You got to remember a lot more faces. You got to remember all these things. And oh, by the way, now that we have this big group of people, we need to establish laws. We need to establish all these different things. So it gets rather complex. And the takeaway is that this seems to be a lot of work and stress for most people. And so living in environments where you are sort of jam-packed in with fewer people seems to make most people happier most of the time. So you can sort of gauge happiness levels where people who live in the most densely packed cities tend to be on average most unhappy compared to people who live out in rural areas. Of course, I'm not saying that everyone that lives in a densely packed city is unhappy. Of course, I'm not. I'm just saying on average, you compare those two groups, you're going to find that people who live in countrysides and they're less packed in with groups are going to be happier. Does noise matter? Noise of the environment? Yes. That was part of the comfort crisis. The overarching narrative of that book is I spent 33 days in the Arctic. And the thing that I really didn't expect to happen. So in that book, I tell the story of my time in the Arctic. And as I experienced these different forms of discomfort that humans would have experienced in the past, I sort of peel off and explain the science behind them and other travels I did about them. So in the Arctic, it was unbelievably silent. There's no one around for hundreds of miles. I mean, one day, you stand in there and I hear this "ch, ch, ch." And I'm going, "What the hell was that?" Turns out it was my wristwatch. It is so silent up there that you're just standing and you just pick up that "ch" of the second hand, which normally you would have to hold up, right? And so I got curious about that. And what was funny is that humans have increased the loudness of the world about fourfold. Fourfold since before we became this species that overtook the planet, is the estimate. And people tend to get stressed out when they're in lots of noise all the time. So if you think about noise in the past, if you heard a loud noise, it was probably danger. It's a storm rolling in. It's an animal that thinks you would be a delicious dinner and is letting out a roar, right? So we tend to become stressed when we hear loud noises. Now, in the past, those were likely infrequent. And today we kind of live in this low-grade loudness that seems to be associated with stress. And even disease. Which is interesting. Yeah, there was this interesting WHO study where they estimated that 2000 heart attack deaths a year, or heart disease deaths a year in Europe were due to how loud the noise that people live in. And that's simply because loudness increases stress and stress is a key factor for heart disease. It makes me think about the way we've kind of designed our professional and personal environments. You know, like open plan offices. And I mean, all my offices around the world have always been open plan.
Impact of Noise on Productivity and Health (14:54)
In your first book, Comfort Crisis, I think it's chapter 13, where you start to talk about how that is both bad for people's anxiety, depression and productivity. Yeah, well, and it's funny because what I found fascinating about the studies on that is most people don't realize that being in a lot of noise impacts their productivity. But when you look at what they actually produce, people tend to produce more better work when they're in more silent environments. There was one study where one group worked in a quiet office and one worked in an open plan office. The open plan office was 50% louder. The workers in the open plan office said they didn't feel any more stress, but stress monitors found that they were in fact more stressed and less productive. Yeah, chapter 13 of your book. I'm sorry that I just... I was like, my team are going to hear this. We've just approved the designs for our new HQ in the middle of London. Well, let's call off the build. Yeah, Jesus. We'll take a look at the blueprints after this. And that's just staggering. Anti-anxiety medication use rises a relative 28% for every 10 decibel increase in sound in neighborhood experiences. And people who live nearer to loud roads are 24% more likely to be depressed. Yeah, it's definitely surprising, right? Because we do live in a lot of noise. And another thing that was interesting while I was reporting that section on noise and sound and how that's changed is that most people today say that they feel at first uncomfortable in silence. Totally me. Yeah, I think everyone was like that. I can't even sleep without something playing. Right. So this was a study in Australia and it was rather informal, but yeah, people would take some time to just be in complete silence and they all wrote, you know, at first I felt really uncomfortable through that. But on the other side of that, they started to feel better. And I think that that's kind of a framework for a lot of things in life. It's uncomfortable at first, but when you go through that, you come out on the other side of it and you feel like you've improved and you probably have improved. Being alone and being lonely, you cite as being two very different things.
AI & Loneliness (17:03)
Loneliness seems to be awful for our health and we're getting increasingly more lonely decade by decade. But being alone is what's the distinction between the two? How do you define the difference? Yeah, so lonely to me is I want to be with others, but I don't have anyone to be with. I just don't have that resource in other people. Being alone is different. It's choosing to take time to be with yourself and see what you can learn from that. And I think too, that there's real, there is some interesting research on people who just prefer to be alone. They just like solitude and turns out that they're just as happy as super social people. There's a little bit of individual variation. Now, of course, these people will have, you know, some people in their life that they can count on. I think that that is absolutely important. But I do think we've shifted in the last, say 15, 20 years where the message is really, you need a bunch of friends to be happy. You absolutely need to be as social as possible. And while I'm not saying that don't be social, that is not my message at all. I am saying that it's also worth taking time to be alone sometimes and seeing what you can learn from that, because I think it does help you better appreciate those social moments. Like for me, I never appreciate my friends more when I've gone off on some reporting trip into a strange place, completely alone for a month or whatever it might be, and then come back and I'm like, "Oh man, I really appreciate being around these people and I don't take that time for granted." Being lonely increases your chance of dying in the next seven years by 26%. Being lonely can shorten your life by 15 years. Slaggering stats. When you think about the trajectory of travel that society is on with machines and artificial intelligence and all of these things, it's understandable how it might be hard for someone to find hope that the stats are going to turn around and go the other way as it relates to loneliness. Are you concerned at all that the invention of AI and the speed in which we're seeing it proliferate is going to lead to, you know, some people say sex robots and all of these kinds of things. I mean, I read an article the other day where a woman is a virtual boyfriend to hundreds of men, and they're paying because they're using generative AI to have seemingly intimate conversations with her. And the fact that there's demand for that is a signal of not great things. Yeah, I think we need, I mean, so then you ask like, "Okay, well, why are these people doing that?" I think part of it is because having to go out and interact with another human that you don't know is a little bit awkward and challenging at first. And so to me, I mean, a big message in my work is that you have to do challenging things in order to grow as a human, because I guarantee that your relationship with an actual person is going to be more rewarding in the long haul than the, you know, the AI bot or whatever, whatever they call them. But it is hard to go out in public. And I think that we live in a world where you can go, "Okay, I'm going to avoid the hard thing because I can get this thing that's easier, even though it's not going to be as good for me in the long haul." Why you? I always think when people commit themselves to writing books, because books are painful processes.
The Self-Destructive Power of Alcohol (20:14)
I mean, it's nice when it's out, but it's not necessarily enjoyable when you're having to condense your thoughts and put it pen to paper. But there is correlation and there is a through line between these two subject matters. So it makes me beg the question, why did you, of all the things you could have taken an interest in or become curious about, why did Michael have a natural curiosity towards this subject matter? Yeah, that's a great question. I think a lot of it for me is how I grew up. I grew up with an only child, a single parent who had to travel a lot. When I was in my 20s, I also got sober. That was not an easy thing. Right. I was choosing this short term relief of alcohol at the expense of long term growth and meaning. What was the cost of that? Oh, I mean, you're just an internal mess. I wasn't an interesting case, but I wasn't the case that most people would think of in the sense that my life was totally fine on paper. I had a job at a magazine. Everyone knew I had a house, I had a car, that sort of thing. But internally, I was just a total mess. And it's kind of like the walls were caving in and I tried to quit drinking a lot of times. And finally, it just occurred to me, this isn't going to be easy. And if you don't do this, you're probably going to die early, by the way. And I realized I had to just rip off the bandaid and do the hard thing. And once I went through that process, my life improved across the board. When you said that internally you were a mess, how do I gain color on what that means in reality so that people that are listening who might be internally a mess will have a bridge to be able to relate to what you're saying there? Oh, well, so addiction is really consistently choosing a short term reward at the expense of long term growth. I knew that my drinking was causing problems in my life across the board. I mean, I had less money, it was eating into my bank account, it was messing with some of my relationships. I would never feel good. The three days after I would go out on a bender, I would just be a mess. And yet I couldn't stop. I mean, that's the key, right? As you go, I know this is screwing me up. I know it. And then I tell myself, you know what, maybe it'll be different this time. Like, I'm just going to have one or two drinks this time. And then you have one or two and you go, well, if one or two is this good, what would like 10 more be like? Right. And something shifts in your head. So it's choosing that short term relief at the expense of long term growth. And that is a tough cycle. I mean, I read about it in Scarcity Brain about addiction and how we think about it. Because I think that another thing that's interesting about today is that, you know, when people hear the word addiction, they automatically think drugs, they automatically think alcohol. But really, if addiction is choosing that short term reward at the expense of long term growth, it really falls on this big spectrum. There's plenty of things we all do every day that fall into that, but it's just how bad is it hurting you? To what extent? And even the DSM-5, which is sort of like the Bible of psychiatrists, the one that they use, it basically puts addiction on the spectrum. It's like, here's like 11 questions about addiction. And if you say yes to four of them, then you got a mild case. If you say yes to six of them, you got a medium case. And if you say yes to seven or more, you got a extreme case. And like when you read that, you could plug in a bunch of different behaviors that people do all the time and go, "Oh, I guess I am kind of like mildly addicted to insert whatever app you spend way too much time on." And I think that getting out of that is ultimately hard. And ultimately, I also see addiction as kind of a symptom of some underlying thing. So for me, I think the reason that I drank is because I had an office job that I found a little bit boring. It was rather sanitary, rule-based. And as I mentioned before, I'm a person who I do well on extreme experiences. And when I would drink, alcohol would allow me to be sort of wild and free in this world that's become increasingly sanitary, increasingly rule-based, whatever. But that's like not a good way to find that. There's a lot more productive ways to find that. And I can find that now by applying it to a job that allows me to go into extreme and interesting places. And so I think that the message for the average person is that once you figure out why you have an issue in the first place, and if you can figure out, "Okay, well, how do I apply it to something that enhances my life?" That can be a good life hack. I want to zoom in on a particular moment there, which we can all relate to.
The Fascinating Science Behind Addiction (25:11)
It's the moment you described where you have an internal conversation about having those first two drinks. Now, we can all relate to that in our own ways. I have internal conversations with myself once in a while about having the carrot cake. And in my head, logically, I know that this is not a good long-term decision. It could be binging on a website or whatever, when you know you've got other important responsibilities and priorities in your life. That moment where you have that internal conversation with yourself, it appears to be the opportunity you have of making a better long-term decision. How on earth, everyone listening to this will want to make better long-term decisions. How do we win that battle, which is seemingly with ourselves? Yeah, it is in a way with ourselves, but it's also, I think, in a way with this sort of ancient hardware that we have. So I'll answer this this way, and it might provide some insight, and we can kind of go from there. So in this book, Scarcity Brain, there's this underlying question I have that is, you know, everyone knows that everything's fine in moderation. And yet we all suck at moderation in some way or another in our life, right? We all have a thing that we're not great at moderating, let's say. So I live in Las Vegas, and I have this underlying question, and Las Vegas is a fascinating town, and so I want to know why slot machines work. Why are they so good at grabbing attention? Now, long story short is this leads me to this place on the edge of town in Las Vegas. And it's a brand new, fully working, cutting edge casino, but it's used entirely for research on human behavior. So it's a collaboration with the gambling industry and a bunch of different tech companies. So you go into this place, and I went in there, and it is just a real casino. There's hotel rooms, there's like restaurants, there's a coffee bar. There's all these different things that a casino would have, like the slot machines, like the poker tables, like the sports book, like insert whatever. And while I'm there, I end up talking to a researcher who designs slot machines, and slot machines work on what I call the scarcity loop. It is a three-part behavior loop, and its three parts are one, opportunity, two, unpredictable rewards, and three, quick repeatability. So one opportunity, you have an opportunity to get something of value that's going to enhance your life. In the case of a slot machine, it's money, right? Two, unpredictable rewards. You know you'll get that thing of value at some point, but you don't know when, and you don't know how valuable it's going to be. So with slot machines, it's like you play, you could lose your money, you could win a couple dollars, you could win hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's crazy. And then three, quick repeatability. You can immediately repeat the behavior. Now the important part is that, and why I'm talking about this, is because that three-part behavior loop, it is the most powerful behavior loop at getting people to repeat behaviors and get sucked in. It's like the serial killer of moderation, okay? And it's now in all sorts of other tech and institutions. So for example, it's what makes social media work. It's what makes dating apps so compelling. It's being put in financial apps like Robinhood. It's being leveraged by different gig work companies, right? It explains the rise of sports betting. It's embedded in a lot of these behaviors that we can't seem to moderate. So when I look at the things that people aren't good at moderating, whether it's, you know, I check email way too much, or I check my stocks way too much and this drives me nuts, it's usually behavior that falls into that scarcity loop. And so the book unpacks, you know, what it is, where it came from, why we get hooked on it in the first place, and I can explain that, and then where it pops up in modern life. You want to know where it came from? Okay. So I had the same question. So I talked to the slot guy and now I'm like, okay, I get the gambling and slot machines are so compelling. I get that this thing is in a lot of different places, but why? Why in the first place? He just looks at me, he goes, I don't know. Like he just makes money off it. He doesn't care. So I end up calling a guy who's a psychologist at the University of Kentucky. And this guy is an old school behavioral psychologist. Like he got his PhD in 1968 and he's been doing research ever since. And he explained that it likely evolved to help us find food in the past. So if you think of humans in the past, you basically had to find food every day or else you're going to die. But you don't know where the food is and you don't know how much you're going to find. So you go to point A, no food. Point B, no food. Point C, ding, ding, ding, jackpot. You find this massive elk that you end up killing and it feeds you for weeks. All right. So that is the exact same architecture as a slot machine. You play the game, you don't get anything. You play the game, you don't get anything. You play the game. It's right there. Amazing. And you couldn't predict any of that. Right. And you've got to repeat that behavior every day for life. So we seem to be inherently attracted to behaviors that fall into that loop because if we weren't in the past, we wouldn't have had as much incentive to continue searching for food and in turn survive. So we still have that sort of ancient hardware. And are we the only ones or is the rest of the animal kingdom wide in such a way? Because one would assume they would be. Yeah, they are. So the guy that I spoke to at the University of Kentucky, he does research on pigeons and pigeons will play a gambling game that gets them less overall resources compared to a predictable game that gets them more food. So he can basically turn pigeons into these sort of degenerate gamblers. And you see it in rats, you see it in other primates. Yeah. So when the reward's unpredictable for a pigeon, they engage in the behavior more. Yep. Which would again matches up with your theory that whenever there's unpredictable awards associated with an action, we are more engaged because it falls into that prehistoric hardware. Exactly. Think about starting a car. Okay. You start your car. It turns on every time. That's not that exciting, right? Like it's not going to capture your attention. Let's say you turn it on and it doesn't turn over. So you try it again. It doesn't turn over. You try it again. It doesn't turn over. What are you going to do? You're just going to be like, okay, well, my car's not starting. I'm going to fix it. Now, what happens if you go to start your car and it doesn't turn over, but it kind of putters, it goes like it's going to turn on and then it stops. And then you do it again and then doesn't do that. And so you're like, okay, well, what's going on? So you do it again. It starts to sound like it's going to come on. It's like, but then it doesn't. You're going to sit there messing with that. So long as that car is giving you signs of life, right? There's this unpredictability embedded into it and that'll capture attention of, yeah, any animal pretty much. And I mean, that's what, when I was thinking about, I think it's called like near miss theory or something that you, you talk about in the book. That's kind of what that is. When you see you're on like a slot machine and you see like the cherry go nearly, you nearly got it. You didn't quite get it, but is that called new? Is it near miss theory? Yeah, near miss. So near misses are a term from the casino industry and in slot machines, let's say you have five reels and you know, you need these bars to line up. These gold bars or whatever. We'll use cherries. That's a better example. You got four cherries lined up and if this fifth cherry hits, you're going to win a bunch of money. Now what will usually happen in slot machines is that fifth wheel, they will be programmed to have that thing roll longer and longer and longer. So they extend that out cause you are sucked in. You're like, if this thing lands, I'm about to win a bunch of money. And then it lands, but it's not the cherry. What ends up happening is that this leads people to repeat the behavior quicker actually. And because near misses are mathematically more likely to happen than actual wins, it compels people to repeat the behavior. Do they use near misses as a way to engage us with technology or anything else in our lives? Is there like any other examples within our modern lives where I know brands or technology companies are using that as a way to engage us?
How Companies Foster Addiction to Their Products (33:18)
Yeah. Well, you could think if you, um, I mean, say you get an update on your phone, let's say you go onto Instagram and you get an update and it's a comment. I mean, you could argue with a comment. It could be good. It could be bad. Is this a comment from like someone that I think is super cool? That's saying, Oh, that's amazing photo. You look wonderful in that photo. Or is it some troll online going, man, you look like a complete idiot in that. Right. So there's always unpredictability embedded in social media. It wouldn't work if you knew what was coming. I guess that's what, why so many people just keep tweeting and posting because it's kind of like every post comes with a bunch of likes and you're going, you know, you might go viral. Yeah, totally. Yeah. Think of the, think of the experience of using, um, we'll take a Twitter, um, now called X apparently. Um, so you, let's say you have come up with a, a little tweet that you think is hilarious and of the moment. Right. So you put it up and then you wait, right. The reels are spinning and you open the app back up and you're like, did people like it? Did they retweet it? And you don't know what, what could have happened. It could be so clever that like, Oh my God, so many people have retweeted this and this feels amazing. This happens, but it could have fallen flat. And then you're like, now I actually look like an idiot because I put out a joke and no one thinks it's funny. It's like telling a joke in front of a room and people just stare at you. Right. So there's this range of unpredictable outcomes that could happen. Same with scrolling though, in a way, I mean, you just scroll and scroll and scroll, and you're kind of searching for that video. That's going to provide you with a hit of something, right? It could be, Oh, here's some sort of crazy fight that happened outside of a bar after a Philadelphia Eagles game. Cause the fights are always in Philadelphia in the U S um, or it could be this video. This amazing heartwarming dog video. And that makes me smile or it could be some hilarious video that you're just laughing your butt off. And so you're kind of sucked into that waiting for the next win. Right. You're scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, and then that's the one that got me. How do we break out of this? Cause I, you know, I want to take back control. Yeah. Well, we all do. Um, well first I will say that, um, when people fall into this loop, I like to say that you're not a bad person. Cause this is very much part of the human brain. You know, people will be hard on themselves because their screen time is so high and like, why do I keep doing this thing? So you're not a bad person. It's your ancient brain working against you. It's not your fault, but it is your problem. You still have to figure out how am I going to get out, get out of this? Uh, the first step to me is just being aware of it in the first place. So once you become, uh, aware of behavior and observe a behavior, it tends to change. That's called the Hawthorne effect. And then the second part is that you can remove or change any of the three parts of that loop that I, of the scarcity loop that I mentioned. So you can remove or change the opportunity. You can remove, remove or change the unpredictable rewards, or you can remove or change the quick repeatability. You can slow things down. In Scarcity Brain in chapter four, you talk about something I was also very, very compelled about, which is you make the case that we have an ingrained sense of not being enough. My first book, the last chapter is about this idea of like not being enough. I've always hypothesized whether humans are built with a, I don't know, a message in our genetic code that tells us where we are designed and we will struggle forward to get more. Like, is that hardwired into us? Well, I think that when you, when you look at how humans behave, it seems to be right. And I think it does go back to evolution because if you had more of these things that we need to survive, whether it's food to stuff, to information, to status, you would have a survival advantage. And that's still built into us. I think it still is advantageous today to a point. Now I'm going to turn the question back on you. So it's like you probably, you have that drive, right? And that's taken you to a certain place. And now you have certain financial assets and you've sort of shifted though to your career. So now I'm turning it back on you. How do you feel like that's manifested itself in your life?
The Constant Quest for Status (37:41)
I, it's interesting because in chapter seven, you talk about this idea of status and I, once upon a time, three, four years ago would have told you that I'm no longer playing status games because three or four years ago I would have had flashy things. Like I had like a Rolex and like a sports car and designer stuff. Now I have none of that. The outfit you see me in now is pretty much the outfit everyone sees me in always. And so I assumed that I like liberated myself from the game of status. However, I read another book and it was, it made the case that the status games we all play just change. And in fact, it's an anti-signal now for someone in my position to have those things. So I'm just playing a different status game. Maybe the status game I'm playing is how big can my podcast be or how good can I be on like TV or whatever it is. It's just a different game. So that's kind of where I think I am now. I think I've just changed the game. No, I think you're right. I think we all change the game. And we'd like to, we'd like to think that we're either not playing the game or that the game hasn't changed. Everyone's like this. So what's it, what's really interesting about status, which I, I loved learning when I was reporting about it in the book is that psychological researchers, they didn't really research status all that much until the nineties. And this is because they didn't want to admit that status is important to humans because by researching it, you are saying this is probably important to me. So the worst thing you can do for your status is tell people that you care about your status. Absolutely. Yet everyone cares about it. And everyone asks, Oh no, I don't care. I don't care what others think about me. It's like, yeah, you do. Like, let's be honest. Everyone cares to some extent what others think about them in some way. And I think by talking about it and also understanding why in the first place is important. Now, the reason why to me is that the more status and influence that you would have had in the past, uh, would have given you a survival advantage in the sense that you probably would have to, you probably wouldn't have to do the crappy, like menial labor that burns energy. You probably would have had more mates. You probably would have gotten more food. You probably would have gotten all these things. And still today, when you look at how status affects health, people of lower status tend to have worse health outcomes than people of higher status. And so you might think, well, this is just because the higher status people have more money and they can go to better hospitals and get better healthcare. But the thing is, is that it holds in countries that have universal healthcare. So everyone's healthcare access is pretty much equal. Could it not relate to the type of work they're doing? Because as you kind of said earlier, I think if you're lower status, one might assume the type of work you're doing is constrained, low autonomy, maybe more isolated potentially, more monotonous or less fulfilling. And that might have physiological implications. It's interesting people that are higher status live longer. That's not a nice narrative, is it? Yeah, no. And that's the thing. It's like, it's not super comfortable to talk about. Right. And it definitely affects us. And here's a, here's a sort of fun, crazy study that I came across while reporting scarcity brain is that flights that have a first class cabin, they have a fourfold higher rate of air rage can play compared to flights that don't have a first class cabin. And if the passengers in second class coach have to walk through the first class cabin, the rate increases to a nine fold increase in incidents of air rage. What is air rage? People going absolutely nuts on flights. It's like when there's a, there's a big incident with, you know, the flight attendant or someone just losing their mind and they have to ground the plane or whatever it might be. And why do you think that is? Well, the researchers think it's because of that massive status queue of having to walk through first class. And by the way, you're not first class because you're in coach. We talked about food and how you covered it in your first book, but in your second book, Scarcity Brain, you talk about food again, specifically, you talk quite a lot about snacking.
The Snacking Dilemma: Why We Cant Stop (41:39)
Oh yeah. Snacking. What's the problem with snacking? Everybody snacks. So this is in the 1970s. The food industry decided, you know, we need to come up with this new category of eating and it's eating between meals, snacking. Now, if people are eating three square meals, they may not be super full, so they kind of need just these little meals they can have and they need to be easy to eat. They need to be quick to eat. So they come up with snack foods. And what's really interesting is that, you know, I told you about the scarcity loop. There is a executive in the food industry who's talking about what makes a snack food successful. Like how do you sell snack food? And he said it has to have three V's. It's got to have value. It's got to have variety and it's got to have velocity. That's just another way of talking about that loop. So right. It's a good value variety. It's got to have a lot of different, interesting, intense flavors. And there's got to be a lot of different options. So when you think about chips or crisps, as you guys, you guys call them crisps, right? There's a bunch of different flavors. There's like barbecue, there's sour cream, there's salsa. There's like all these different flavors. And then velocity, it has to be quick to eat. So when you ultra process a food, as I mentioned before, people tend to eat it faster. And so the industry really leans into this. They create snacking as this totally new category. And this is in the 70s is when you really start to see obesity climb. And it's because we just end up eating more across the day. Meantime, our activity levels are dropping. There's a kind of a through line there with gambling. When you talked about velocity, the the speed in which you get the outcome being short. The faster we can do a behavior, the more likely we are to repeat the behavior. Especially if it's unpredictable. So one of the big advances in casino technology, for example with slot machines, was removing the handles because, you know if you've if the machine has a handle you have to doo do, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, once they got rid of handles and just put a spin button, you can keep your hand on the button and just doo doo doo doo and it basically doubled the rate of gambling. So people went from playing I think 400 to 500 games in an hour up to an average of 900. So that's more if you break that down by minute it's more than we blink. Interesting. Yeah, with a crazy range of outcomes too. Why can't it, so if snacking is a relatively new invention in modern society and it's correlated to the rise in obesity, can we not just measure the amount of calories that we have? Like we not just do the you know the whole calories in, calories out approach to staying fit and healthy? Oh, I think you absolutely could but I just the question is are people gonna actually do that? I mean, I think there's a certain sub, you know, there's a portion of the population that will do that and you know I do believe that if you were to measure everything perfectly you have you know, you could probably lose weight eating McDonald's and there's people who have shown this at the same time if you are eating only McDonald's I can tell you something you were gonna be starving throughout the day because Foods that are ultra processed tend to be less filling per calorie than foods that have just a single ingredient So I want you to picture You and I have a bag of potato chips and then we have a plate of boiled potatoes What do you think we could have more calories of? Only the same thing they both made a potato But the fried potatoes, right? Right, really? The chips So if you like how you could probably eat an entire bag of chips if you really set your mind to it Oh, yeah, but you couldn't eat an equivalent amount of calories and boiled potatoes I mean it was you would get full like a quarter of the way through So for example, you know like a boil an ounce of boiled potatoes might have 50 to 100 calories an ounce of chips might have 200 whatever it is. And by the way, it's also not as filling because there's not as much water content so when you Process a food you concentrate the calories and people tend to eat more of the food. I Don't need them anymore, but they used to be one of my favorite foods and in your first book I think you you came for them, which is croissants But I don't have those anymore because they make you feel like shit and my gut hates them But you use a croissant as an example of a food that that makes us less full. Mm-hmm yeah, so there's this really interesting study out of Australia where they had people eat a certain amount of different types of foods and then they had them go eat at a buffet a certain amount of time later and measured how much they ate after and Asked them how how full they were after eating the test food. So They found that the most filling food per calorie was plain boiled potatoes I think after that was just plain white fish. That was a relatively low fat fish and then after that I think it was oatmeal just plain oatmeal and the least filling foods were tended to be things like croissants cookies foods like that foods that have been You know, we're mixing flour Fat all these sorts of things and baking it and it's like this nice crispy thing so it's really it's a measurement of how processed the food is basically a Small croissant and white potato both have about 170 calories, but you'd have to eat seven Croissants before you feel the same amount of fullness as one potato How much of weight gain is about the feeling of fullness? Because it's not really a concept that I really thought much about this idea of fullness. I thought The key thing was calories or not eating junk food, but fullness Well, I think that you will be fuller Or you will be as full eating fewer any end up eating fewer calories if the food is not as processed So the foods just they take up more room in your stomach. They're not packing in as much calories per bite let's say for you to be full you have to eat 10 ounces of food and We have one food that has 50 calories per ounce and one food that has 100 calories per ounce Right. So if you were to eat the 10 ounces of this food, you're gonna eat 500 calories but if you eat 10 ounces of this food, you're gonna eat a thousand and I think that you Strap like that across the day and you start to see oh, okay I can see why choosing foods that helped me be more full and fewer calories could be good if my goal was to Lose weight or not gain weight compared to food foods that are more calorie dense. What's your position on fasting?
Exploring Fasting and Scheduled Hunger Days (48:23)
I think that it can be a good weight control tool for some people I think It can constrain Like look if you're a person who's eating around the clock and you go Okay. Well, I'm just gonna eat from noon to whatever 6 p.m. Or 7 p.m. You've just cut out a lot of meals. I Also think that if you were to go well since I'm only eating from noon to 6 p.m. I better eat a ton every single meal I don't know if you would lose weight I think there could be definitely some health benefits possibly But I also think that if you're doing these extended fasts that could maybe not be great for muscle mass So I think it kind of goes back to like these things are complicated right and I think it kind of goes back to What is your goal? How are you trying to use this tool? Like what are you doing this for and then is the way that you're doing it? Does it align properly with your goal? but I do I mean I've met plenty of people who have lost weight fasting simply because they ate crap for breakfast and they would stop at Starbucks on the way To work and get some sugary drink and like just by cutting that out because now they don't eat till noon Like they ended up losing weight. It's about hungry days Yeah programming to hungry days per week. Yes That's one that has worked for some people where you could eat relatively normally say five days a week And then people we say 500 calories on their 200 days. So basically you're just constraining your calories Basically, just pulling the lever of time, right if you can at the end of the day I think really calories is probably the best predictor of weight gain or loss and so the question is Okay, if you need to reduce the calories, how are we gonna do that? And there's a lot of different ways to do it. I think that fasting is pretty damn simple, right? It seems a lot simpler than some of the other methods out there I was on a treadmill many years ago in Boston And I always tell the story because I'd got into this routine of running like five ten kilometres a day Every day on the treadmill pretty much every day on the treadmill and I and when I got to that five ten kilometer mark I would typically feel like fatigued and then there was this one day where I landed in Boston got on this treadmill that the distance Dial wasn't working. So I couldn't see how far I was running so I thought well I'll stop when I feel the usual feeling and I start running and I start running and I start running and I start running and I only get off the treadmill because I'm Gonna be late for this appointment that I have and when I hit the stop treadmill button the distance pops up and I've run two times further than I usually run on a treadmill and I didn't feel the same I felt fine not fun and I couldn't understand that until and I've said this on stage quite quite often as Evidence
The Psychological Perspective and Its Limits on Our Potential (50:17)
that there's clearly something going on in our psychology that is signaling to our body that we are at our limits And that's clearly somewhat of an illusion and then I read in your first book the comfort crisis this idea of When you talk about mental fatigue Does that kind of marry up to what I'm saying what I'm saying Oh 100% must muscular fatigue Sorry, our psychology effects are how we perform basically and there's a lot of fascinating studies similar to yours where they will take people and You know, they'll give them some sort of cue like we're gonna run as far as you can Most people are getting about an hour so they'll give them this cue and then they will change the Time basically, they'll change the clock. So the people maybe have run 40 minutes in real in reality But they think they've done, you know an hour and five minutes Which is five minutes longer than some of the better times and they'll be like, okay. I'm totally wiped out They'll do opposite where they slow down time. So these people will have run an hour and say 30 minutes I'm making up the times but they think they've run that hour and five minutes just a little bit better than the next guy and Then they'll then they'll be like, okay I'm totally fatigued and there's plenty of research that goes back years that basically says our psychological perceptions is a key determinant of How tired we feel during exercise because at the heart of this comfort crisis is a psychological relationship with discomfort Discomfort to me feels like a story. I tell myself. Oh, it's totally a story. Yeah, what story are you gonna tell yourself? So here's another great example your legs They're they're spasming. They're tired If you're running up a hill it sucks you want to quit if you're having sex, this is great right like context really matters about how we feel and so I think also Realizing, you know, there's some really fascinating studies that show we don't recruit all of our Capacity more or less because it's a defense mechanism, right? You want to keep some capacity on board? So your brain is trying to slow you down and shut you down before you've reached your limit Framing how you want to view how a workout is going is important, right? And I think it can allow you to squeeze a little more performance out of it Now, let's say your brain only allows you to recruit 50% of your muscle I don't think you can go I've only gotten 50% and you're gonna get like up to a hundred like doesn't work like that but I do think running it through like Context and thought and realizing like this actually isn't as bad and by the way I've chosen to do this and it's kind of awesome that I can choose to do this Can allow you to perform a little better? I wonder I wish there was like a magic pill we could take which allowed us to Change the frame and the story we tell ourselves about the discomfort we experience You know because there's clearly a big group of people that are able to you know Ultra runners and ultra athletes and all this stuff, but you but this can also be I mean, this isn't just exercise We're talking about right? It's like what story am I going to tell myself in any given situation? So I'll get I'll give you a good example is that? So I spend 33 days in the Arctic right now to get up to where the drop-off point is You have to take a bunch of different flights. My first flight is from Las Vegas to Seattle and I hate flying Right. The plane is always too hot. The seat is cramped the movies suck on the plane if you want to go to the bathroom It's just cramped a little closet baby's crying. It's just it's terrible then I go spend a month in the Arctic where I'm hungry the entire time if I want water I have to hike down to the stream and hike it back up I'm freezing cold the entire time I'm sitting in the dirt the entire time if I want to go to the bathroom I have to hike out onto the tundra and I got to bring a rifle because there's grizzly bears So when I leave that world and I get back on that flight to Las Vegas, what do you think the flight was like? Amazing this is the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me, right? So the chair I hadn't sat in a chair for more than a month. It's like oh my god, this chair is so incredibly comfortable I'd been freezing the entire time. So that warm plane. It's like oh this plane is so comfortable so nice and warm I'd been bored out of my mind up there the whole time because I don't have any screens or anything So those movies on the seat back. Oh my god. This is the most stimulating thing I've ever watched. This is incredible Snack food. I used to think the airplane snack food sucked I'm like, oh my god, these pretzels amazing and then when I go to the bathroom, right? It's you hit this little red tab and you get hot running water that hits your hands at 35,000 feet and you're moving 600 miles an hour through a tube of steel It's like when that hot water hit my hands. It was incredible. Mmm, so context matters Because once I went and did that that totally reframed how I think about these situations that I used to bitch about in the past And now I can appreciate them. So the reality is is that The world that we live in today is Amazing in so many ways like full stop incredible the fact that we have hot running water on demand the fact that we have all these different forms of entertainment the fact that we don't have to Hunt and gather for our food like we're not forced to do these things but we often miss how amazing that is because we're like the fish thrown in the water that don't know they're in the water and I do think that doing things that push back against that having Experiences that you throw yourself into they can be big and small That throw you out of your comfort zone and give you perspective. I do think that that is important in order to Live well and get perspective and have gratitude. I mean I still have times today where I'll be washing my hands the water is nice and hot and I'll think back to that and be like remember when like Hot running water hit your hands and you got emotional how amazing it is. I mean It's good to have these reminders that Life is pretty amazing right now. We've come pretty far it made me think that discomfort is an antidote for happiness in that regard because You know and I also then my in popped into my brain what I used to learn about the stoic people and how they do that sort of was a hedonistic adaptation and They would remove the pleasantries from their life so that they could appreciate them more Yeah, we adapt to what we have so it's like today's pleasure is tomorrow is just any given thing and we're looking for the next pleasure and There's some interesting studies about this as well One of my favorites from the comfort crisis is this study that found that as people experience fewer and fewer problems We don't become more satisfied. We simply start searching for the next problem. Really? Yes, it's called it's a theory It was discovered by Harvard researchers in the psychology department and it's the technical term They call it as prevalence induced concept change and you can just think about it as problem creep Now problem creep problem creep, right? So, you know what used to be a problem yesterday or We're always gonna look for problems. It's basically what I'm trying to say And they discovered this we're in this study where they would have people look at a bunch of different faces and determine, you know is this face threatening or non-threatening they'd go one face after another and By the 200 face though this the scientists started feeding the participants or the yeah the study participants fewer and fewer threatening faces The other study they did two of these they had them look at research papers and determine whether the research papers were Ethical or unethical same deal about midway through they start feeding them fewer and fewer unethical research proposals Now if these two things are black or white the groups would have said threatening fewer times as time went on They would have found fewer and fewer unethical research proposals because they've been given less right because they've been given less But that didn't happen What they did is they said threatening the exact same amount of times They took faces that were kind of on the border that they would have passed up and not said were threatening before they started deeming Those threatening same with the research proposals. They started getting more nitpicky Now the scientists who I spoke with his name is David Lavarri. Yep getting his name right remembered it He explained that probably in the past it gave you a survival advantage to always be looking for the next problem Right, because if you're a type of person who's vigilant going, okay, we might run out of food. That is problematic We got to fix it This is a problem. Let's fix that if you're vigilant like that, I would that would help you survive, right? But applied to today's world where you've seen the world get better and better over time It often causes us to miss how amazing it is and pile up first world problems, right so there's also amazing research where researchers will ask the average American do you think the world is improving and Only 6% of people think the world is improving it's because we look for the next problem, but if you think about that from Like let's take the last 500 years Of course the world is better You live longer. Yeah, you're more likely to be literate. You're less likely to be starving. You're less likely to use a child Yeah, exactly on and on and on but we often don't Realize that in the moment and that affects us are we getting you know, you talked about the abundance we have in the world But are we getting? Happier, do you know any stats around around our collective happiness or how we report on that? Yeah, I think a lot of the research on happiness suggests that we are less happy than we were More mental health problems as well. We all know those stats. Yeah and depression more mental health problems Yep, and there's probably a variety of reasons for that. But I do think that one one thing that's interesting We seem to live in a world where a lot of people have enough of what they need to survive and if they don't it's probably a Governmental problem. It's probably a distribution problem. And this I'm mainly talking about developed countries here But as we've got more and more and more we haven't necessarily become more happy So for example, I think the year was from 1970 to about 2000 the Real income of Americans grew by 50% So this is this factors in you know price adjustments inflation So people got 50% richer on average yet happiness didn't change. In fact, it might have actually decreased a little bit so this suggests that Once our needs are met to a certain point Like it's not necessarily gonna make us happier yet We keep thinking that you know happiness is going to be in the next purchase that it's in the next You know out that it's in the next Viral tweet or whatever it might be did they discover an antidote for this sort of incessant search for problems? Because I'd like to be content Yeah, well that that's the that's the search right? That's the it's the ultimate human search. I think that a lot of Religions they're set up to counter that Don't don't don't steal because You're taking away from someone else and society falls apart Don't be gluttonous because that's gonna give you problems. Don't you know, they're all telling us Don't overdo all these worldly things that we tend to overdo and instead the focus is to you know take the focus off yourself and Put it on something that will help you Kind of do the next right thing now those get interpreted in ways that can be controversial, of course But I do think that the overall architecture is the same and that is the that is the ultimate question for all people Right, my whole team here have got more and more into running Yeah, speak about running all the time and obviously, you know Daniel Lieberman who's been on the show before Yeah, I think he wrote a book on running didn't he? It's his last book when we had a conversation with on the show What's your perspective on?
Exploring Human Fitness And Creativity
The Role of Exercise in Our Lives (01:02:42)
Exercise running and what did you learn when you studied? Nomadic tribes about the importance of exercise. Yeah. Well, I mean I do think that it's probably the best thing that you can do for your health is Exercising and I think that you know, a lot of people will say exercise is medicine I think more that inactivity is poison so we evolved to have a certain amount of activity in our daily life like we need that in order to be get a certain to be healthy and happy and we Often don't get that today the way we design our lives something I write about in the comfort crisis is The human body is good at two things humans evolved to be good at two things. One of them is Running long distances relatively slowly, which I'm sure Daniel Lieberman talked about because he's the dude who discovered that he's great But the other thing that we are good at is carrying things for distance. So you you ask, okay Well, why are we good at this long distance running in the heat? And it's because we would chase down animals who are not good at cooling themselves For miles and miles and miles until they overheated and then we would kill them and we would have our meal But then what happens after you kill an animal away from camp All the new bill Call an engine uber You got to carry it back. Yeah, and we're the only or the only animal that can carry things for distance well and That absolutely shaped us just as much as running did so we've got these hands that can grip things strongly we're built in such a way that we can carry stuff for distance and I argue in the comfort crisis a lot of people still run like jogging is popular But carrying things as a workout Is something that a lot of people don't do and so I advocate for? rucking which is loading up a backpack with weight and walking and when you compare rucking to running rucking tends to Be less injurious so people the injury rate is much lower it also preserves more muscle Than running does so when you run you're burning fat But you're also burning muscle when you ruck because you have weight on your body It's signaling your body like don't burn quite as quite as much muscle and studies bear that out So you're kind of getting cardio and weight training in one and I think it's a good thing that people should be doing I'm not saying don't ever run, but I am saying we've Engineered this really important form of human physical activity Which is carrying things for long distances out of our lives and by adding it back in I think we do get a lot of different benefits How does the modern body look different to the body of our ancestors in that regard all these? nomadic tribe tribes do they have sort of because I imagine if they're if they're carrying things in a world where we can put it in the boot of a car or Find some other means using wheels to roll it They must be physiologically adapted in certain ways I think that well, I think that in my experience and you would have to talk to Dan as well to see if he agrees with us, but I do think that most Hunter gathers are much smaller than the average Westerner is They're just much smaller because they don't have as much food.
Comparing Hunter-Gatherer Bodies to Modern Humans (01:05:48)
They're also far more active and So they're not giant people when you look at when you look at people in the West today We're giant people in the grand scheme of time and space who burns more calories Well, if you did it per pound of body weight they do like by far but when you They might wait so you have to do it by how big the person is, right? If you have two people that are burning 3,000 calories great, but if one person weighs 250 pounds and the other weighs 120 pounds. Well, the person who's 120 pounds is burning far more for their body weight And that's an important distinction that needs to be made when we talk about do hunter-gatherers Burn as many calories as Westerner because there's some people who are like, well they burn the same It's like yeah, there are a hundred pounds on average We're on average 200 pounds like that's a big difference the arms of the average prehistoric woman For example with 16% stronger than those of today's women's Olympic rowers. Yeah, Jesus Christ. Yeah They're very fit people. I mean they can go there's this one anthropologist I talked to who spent some time with hunter-gatherers in Tanzania and she talked about how Even the older people in the tribe were talking about, you know, 70 80 year old women They can just hike all day. They can hurtle over rocks Like they're just like they're monsters and I'm like, you know, she's a 30 year old woman She's like I'm kind of trailing behind these these women that are like two almost three times my age and That's because they've stayed active and kept muscle mass, right? Yeah, they've stayed active. And so when you think about daily life a Lot of it is effortful so they're not just cut they're not just covering ground they're covering ground that is rough Right. It's all outdoors That's going to require more energy than a in a sidewalk They're carrying stuff. They're squatting. They're digging there. Some of them will climb trees Even when they're resting they might rest in the squat position where we are going to rest in a lazy boy and just melt into it Right. So there's this all this I mean besides just the stuff that we would look at and say like yeah, that's active I mean even just resting is more active than we're they're always undergoing some low level of physical activity and now We've engineered so much of that out of our lives and that's undoubtedly changed us, but we don't even know it's like we're born into it Right because as a species we evolved to do the next easiest most comfortable thing so we have applied that with technology to our environments and It's good overall, but it's changed us it's changed our fitness. It's changed our physicality and Once we did that and realized oh, we've taken out all this Physical activity out of our lives and now we're getting sick for it We go. Well, I guess let's just like build these buildings where you just go and you know Maybe you run on a belt and maybe you pick up some Weights that are perfectly balanced and you do that, you know, how about three sets of ten? That's what we'll call it, right? So when we we basically invented exercise Right, and it's not the same as we used to necessarily do in the past I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that But I'm just saying that the way that we are physically active today even that has changed greatly like no one in the past would have Tried to get giant and lift a bunch of weights that it doesn't make sense to have all this extra muscle You didn't have enough food to grow it You didn't want to be carrying that around on your persons. I mean think of mountain climbers They don't like bulk up for a climb, right? They don't get huge and jacked It's like no you need to be strong for your weight You need to be as strong as possible for your weight But you don't want to have any excess weight and today you have people who are like, I just want to be like 250 pounds of pure muscle It's gonna be awesome people always people have been saying to me that calisthenics is one of the more important exercises probably for that very reason that lifting your body weight is probably the central being able to move your body is the most important thing not having Massive guns. Yeah, and I think it is a strength thing. Like there is some research that says that muscle mass is Good for longevity and protective a lot of those studies are often conducted looking at people who are sarcopenia and there's a difference between people who have a dangerously low level of muscle mass and those who just have a ton just to have it I think probably the sweet spot is just Be in a as much as BMI is a controversial measurement I think probably be in a BMI that is normal and try and be strong for your weight and do a bunch of Cardiovascular exercise. I mean just look at like what did humans do for all of time? That's probably a pretty good roadmap to try and mimic and you tend to find that those people aren't that giant Daniel Lieberman said something to me which is clearly so obvious but really did shocked me He said when he spoke to these sort of hunter-gatherer tribe communities They almost laughed at him when he asked them what they do for exercise Because the concept of exercise is not something they think about because they're exercising all day So I think he remarked that one of those communities turned around to him and was like, why would you run for fun? Yeah, they probably go what do you do for exercise and they probably said what the hell's exercise literally like Oh, he said like something like training. What do you do to train? Yeah, and they were like training like we it's part of our Life is exercise. Well, that's how it was for all of us Forever like no one moved just to move because our lifestyles in the past were We had to just move for work and you wouldn't want to do any extra because you were moving all day for labor I mean, this was farm labors really taxing most people worked in agriculture until the Industrial Revolution Exercise is something that we invented once we engineered movement out of our lives You talk about second ago about exercise is a psychological act ie Once upon a time when we were out in nature exercising we would be psychologically stimulated because there might be a bear or I don't know A lion coming at us So we're we're moving our bodies But our mind is so attuned to everything happening around us now as you said we're in these gyms with these rubber belts and we're watching like I Don't know. We're just like looking at the screen or watching Netflix or just real housewives. Yeah, whatever on the on the treadmill Does that act? Having exercise be a psychological act where it's psychologically stimulating through the when you're doing it. Does that matter? Yeah Why I just wrote a deep dive about this on my newsletter Which I call 2% and we can I can explain why I call it 2% but when you think about the context of exercise That we used to do in the past there are so many more things happening than just the Physical work of moving your body across the land So as you're moving take take something like trail running You're having to figure out. Okay. Well, where am I gonna place each foot because the trail might be rocky You might even not even be on a trail. So you're having to figure out what what is my foot placement? You're also having to factor in okay How am I gonna pace myself knowing I have this distance to go knowing that it is this hot outside knowing that I have this Much water with me. You're also having to factor in things in the periphery Like are there wild animals out there and if you are running because you are say hunting in the past You're having to track the animal that is an exceedingly Psychologically taxing act you're looking at you're going. Okay. Well, we got a broken branch there Oh looks like there's a blood splatter from that, you know arrow we put in it It is if running on a treadmill is like addition Running outside in the context that we would have run outside is like multivariate calculus and there's a researcher at USC named David Reichelin and He's thought about this a lot and he basically thinks that you know when you compare running indoors staring at a screen Your brain just kind of shuts off. You don't really have to do much cognitive work as you do this exercise Yes, it is good for your cardiovascular health you will say But when you exercise outdoors, especially if it's in sort of wilder nature like on a trail think running on a trail You're having to do a lot of cognitive work as you do that and that might be better for brain health as well In the long run for people not to mention Outdoor exercises exercise is also harder. You're probably gonna burn more calories per step. You're gonna have more ups and downs You're gonna have like it's just it's just better overall How much do you really know about your health for me? That answer was simple. The answer was very little Until whoop came along as you guys know they sponsor this podcast But even before then whoop was integral for me to know what's going on inside my body Most of my friends my family and my team now use week But I still have a few friends That are on the fence about getting on board and what I hear from some of those friends is that they're a little bit worried About what they might see in the data and they might feel uncomfortable about knowing what's going on inside their body If I've learned anything it is that knowledge is power And once I finally started to look at the data and understand how getting less sleep was affecting my body and how my old Lifestyle was actually hurting my long-term health Everything changed for the better So if this is something that you'd like to try out head over to join dot whoop comm slash CEO And you'll get to try whoop for 30 days risk-free with zero commitment Try it and let me know how you get on as you'll know this podcast is sponsored by Hugh And we're going into that last quarter of the year It's getting a little bit colder back into our routines back into our work rhythms and it's in those moments that I Need to focus most on my diet as I get back into the swing of work I need to get back into a routine as it relates to my diet and that's really where hewels RTD They're ready to drink range comes in handy in a bottle You have a nutritionally complete meal that you can consume in a minute So this is a real lifesaver in terms of my health It is my ally and my friend and my companion on my busiest days And it means that even when I'm pursuing all of my professional goals, my health goals can be pursued at the same time There's a link in the description below if you've never tried heels RTDs This is the time if you've fallen off of the wagon. This is the sign you needed to get back on There's a link below in the description order yourself a pack. Stay healthy throughout this busy period Daniel also opened my eyes to something I had just before I spoke to Daniel. I had an issue with my feet Mmm, I had what they call is it plantar fasciitis?
The Prevalence of Back Pain: Why 80% of Us Suffer (01:16:23)
I woke up one day and I basically couldn't walk because something in my foot had like swollen up and then I googled it and they said it's plantar fasciitis and the Hypothesis so I was then given these in cells to kind of try and correct it The hypothesis that I then later discovered was that because my feet are so weak because I walk around every day and these like one inch cushioned shoes that we all do and there's this whole industry about Like heel size and how that makes running and exercise and comfort better and it's how it's better for you better for your knees When I suddenly started exerting a lot of effort onto my feet because I was training for a big football match My feet just gave way and that made me start to believe that maybe I'm not supposed to have these massive like one inch one centimetre whatever heels soles that we all have in our shoes Imagine if from the second a child was born we put a glove on both of their hands. That was one centimetre either side imagine how like weak and Pathetic their hands would be that's essentially what we're doing to our feet. And so now I don't wear shoes that have a Like a like a so I have barefoot shoes. Yeah, we're supposed to have a certain amount of inputs strength wise and I think that We don't get Those in a lot of ways. I mean, it's not just it's not just the shoes, right? It's also okay well Why does everyone's back hurt because 80% of people were will experience back pain at some point in their life and you go, okay well, you know we all sit eight hours a day and we're not sitting like in the squatting position like we used to and we're sitting in these chairs that are comfortable that take the Physical work we used to have to do just to keep our torso up off our back and so then when we go to say lift something our back muscles are exceedingly weak and Something happens and we get a problem, right and you can extend that to many different problems like average pains that people have It's usually because our environments are set up to take the physical stress off our bodies But we eventually end up paying a price for that when we try and do something out of that very small Comfort zone that we've built ourselves. So in the case of you, it's you know You had weakened your feet over time and then you add Load onto them and they're not ready for that and that manifests itself as pain for another person It could be they sit at the desk all day and they decide, you know I'm gonna go back into the gym and they do one deadlift and their back just goes What are you doing and sends a bunch of pain there and it's a lot of different things shoulder shoulder pain a lot of different pains are just Manifestations of our modern environment and to avoid those you said 80% of people will experience back pain at some time Yeah, it's the most common pain that people will experience and it's also it has a huge economic toll It's it's pretty crazy soon as you said that my back started to feel painful Yeah, so a very simple a very simple fix is spending more time sitting on the floor having your back Having to prop it up like I am now. I'm not using the backrest, you know If I do this your back it has to do more work and even just that low level of work across time Can help prevent some problems you said sitting on the floor? Yep sitting on the floor that helps with mobility when you're sitting on the floor you don't have this giant backrest that you can just melt into your Your body has to do work to keep yourself upright, right and you're probably gonna get uncomfortable at some point So you're gonna shift around you're gonna put your hips into different positions. You're gonna put your legs in different positions It seems to help with mobility and with pain over time what uh, that's really useful because that's a small thing that I can do just To reduce my chances of being part of that 80% that all experience back pain sitting on the floor more often. I can do that What are the other small day-to-day decisions that we could all make to give ourselves a little bit of healthy discomfort in our lives?
How Embracing Discomfort Can Prevent Long-Term Pain (01:19:59)
yeah, so I call this concept being a two-percenter and It comes from a study that found that 2% of people take the stairs when there is also an escalator available 2% Now 100% of those people knew that taking the stairs would give them a long-term benefit on their health Right, but only 2% take them and that's because we're a species who's wired to do the next comfortable thing Even when it doesn't make sense in our comfortable environment So when I talk about being a two-percenter, I'm talking about taking the actual and the metaphorical stairs when you can What are the small things that you can do in daily life in order to add more activity? More discomfort into your life in a way that is totally manageable That adds up to a giant return over time a giant return over time taking the stairs a giant return over time If you take the stairs every single time I guarantee that you will have better health than if you were to take that Escalator and if you apply that across the board, I mean something as simple as okay. I have a work phone call. I Can sit in my office and take it in this sort of you know Dim office or I can go take it while walking and I've snuck in a mile and a half of walking Oh, and by the way, you know Maybe next time I'm gonna throw on a 10 pound rock or a 20 pound rock and I'm gonna be rucking while I take that phone Call I'm gonna park in the parking lot. That is like Siberia away from the grocery store, right and it sounds like people's like people will say shrug their shoulders. Yeah, everyone knows that It's like okay Well, why the hell doesn't anyone do it? Because they don't believe it matters because you don't believe it matters and the problem is is that we look at that act as just One individual act and go. Okay. Well that might only burn five more calories. Okay Well, what if you did that ten times a day and extrapolated it over a lifetime? I guarantee you will end up healthier and better off than if you consistently were doing the easier thing So where can I find those little 2% wins flow them into my life? Because once you start doing it you realize like oh not only is this very easy to do But I actually feel better when I do this stuff, right? You could carry your groceries like a lot of back pain would go away if people started carrying their groceries more often I can guarantee that but we don't do that and So a lot of my work and thinking is how do we find those little wins across the day and pile them up? I'm not saying that people should stop going to the gym and doing their normal routine, but I am saying if you're looking at 24 hours in a day and you were doing the next easiest most comfortable most lazy thing for 23 and a half hours and you think that you're 30 minutes in the gym is gonna recoup that You're missing you're missing the big picture that is not how humans are designed to live I was thinking as you were talking about how it compounds for or against you as well so in the example you gave about the Taking the stairs versus the escalator might burn five calories and then you times that by ten you do it type You know, then that's 50 calories. You're burning a day I was thinking is there a compounding element to this my brain decided there was because if you take the stairs and You burn calories and build up a little bit of muscle you then have more muscle To do more activities like that and I think I think it was Daniel Lieberman that told me about this concept of sin essence Which is almost this downward spiral of muscle decay where you like lose muscle. So you do less activity So you lose muscle so you do less activity and that's the spiral downward for a lot of people that causes Aging and death what we think of aging and ultimately death And that's what I thought of in those small things. I thought like Is gonna compound for me if I do it more I'll be able to do it more. So I'll probably do it more you know exactly no and you're absolutely right and You know the concept isn't even just physical. It's it's psychological it's being willing to have the hard conversation you need to have with Your spouse being you know, if you're working on a hard project Our tendency is when the hard project gets hard. What do we do? We we check our cell phone We go I'm gonna get up and get coffee being willing to go through put in that extra little work to kind of push through that thing That's just gonna be a little bit harder. I think ultimately leads to the biggest transformation and breakthroughs. I Used to think you could change your beliefs You know and then I really got quite obsessed with figuring out if you could choose a different belief and I concluded that you couldn't because there's no belief in my life that I genuinely believe that I now if my family was held at gunpoint Could genuinely change I could lie, but I couldn't actually change the belief so I thought what a beliefs and Concluded that they are essentially a stack of evidence that we've accepted is subjectively true and that is governing our lives It's telling us who we are and how we show up especially in situations of discomfort It's the I remember I had Chris Eubank jr. On the podcast and he's like a world championship boxer And he said to me if I'm home alone and I get to mile 9 on the treadmill and I told myself I was gonna do 10 I will limp and I get cramp in my leg I have to limp the last mile even if no one's watching because quote I can't let the demons in What he's what he's saying there is I can't let a new self-story emerge that I'm the type of person that quits when it's
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs to Achieve Your Goals (01:24:34)
hard because in round 12 of a Championship boxing fight that story will emerge when I'm on the stool and I want to quit this idea and it kind of goes back to a saying about the stairs that all of these small things are compounding psychologically to tell us a story about who we are in our relationship with discomfort and that like You know the greatest way to influence ourselves story is to start keeping Uncomfortable commitments with ourselves and that will compound for us over time Yeah, and then once you take the stairs you you'd be like, okay, maybe I could do that run that three-mile run Oh now I'm doing five. I think that You know, you're right about the stories we tell ourselves and where they come from But you can change the experiences that you have right? So your experiences will change that set of beliefs It's like the story I told about me spending the month in the Arctic. I didn't think I could ever do that And I hadn't ever had any reason to be that deeply appreciative of The world today. I had to go have this experience that changed my perception evidence, right? I could tell myself all day Yeah, hot running water is great But did I ever feel that emotionally like a legit emotional connection and this like oh my god, like you peel the veil back No, I had to go do I had to have an experience outside of your comfort zone outside of my comfort zone right an experience that Was tough and challenging and that is ultimately The hero's journey that you see in you know The work of Joseph Campbell analyzes all these myths throughout time Finds that all cultures basically have the exact same structure behind their myths and that's that the hero gets called to adventure But by the way, it's gonna be hard. It's gonna be challenging and the person doesn't want to go right There's always this phase where they go. I don't want to deal with this, but if they choose to Accept that they're always gonna enter this middle ground. That's really trying that's really challenging They're gonna struggle down there But in the struggle is where you learn what you're capable of the reality is is that humans are capable of way more than we think But we don't get thrust into positions to realize this anymore. And that is the teacher you have to throw yourself into the abyss and you get down there and you swim through the fog and you figure out your shit and then you come out the other side and go oh, I got more on board than I realized and that changes you permanently changes what you're capable of forever and Then if you're lucky you'll get another call to adventure and have more problems in your life and get another Opportunity to iterate again and you just keep peeling off layers peeling off layers That's the human story of improvement to me, but most of us are waiting for evidence to go on the adventure We don't realize that the evidence will come from the adventure, right? Well, I think that that's one way that Things have changed in the past humans used to have to do hard things all the time This could be from these big hunts. We used to have to go on It could be that a storm rolls in and you're like we need to get that we need to get over this mountain range In the next 24 hours or else we're gonna die. And by the way, this mountain range is huge I don't know if we can do it so we get thrust out of our comfort zone all the time and we have these moments where We realize what we're capable of because we go in there we go I'm pretty sure we're gonna die crossing this mountain range, but we don't die go Oh, wow, I had way more on board than I realized. Well, that's something and that changes you it shapes you It makes you realize what you're capable of and life no longer thrust these things on to us anymore Right, you can just kind of live in the comfort zone now and it's nice. It's comfortable It's safe But you don't get to go out on those edges and learn what you're capable of and that ultimately I think limits you over time So you're telling everyone to quit their jobs? Like you I'm telling everyone to take two weeks off and go do something totally kick-ass that will change you forever because we can all Do that our relationship with uncertainty though is at the very heart of this I think because when people are thinking about venturing off on that adventure leaving their job going and do something new Uncertainty seems to be this Head wind that holds us in place and I remember studying the work that uber labs had done so that's uber the app the food and Every taxi app. Yeah, they do everything in their lab They'd figured out that one of the worst parts of cost any customer experience was the feeling of uncertainty So once upon a time you'd pull a taxi then you'd stand on the side of the road and just be in total uncertainty so they factored in fact about into the app by showing you where the driver is and also we can all intuitively agree, but also can recount times where a plane was delayed and it said delayed and the feeling of the uncertainty versus just saying delayed two Hours, which I'd much rather prefer at the heart of going on the adventures of our life's time lifetimes and throwing ourselves into discomfort is our I need for certainty That holds like when I speak to people in the streets or they DM me. That is the conundrum that they face is I don't know what the future holds if I go off on that adventure So I'd rather just stay in certain misery then they have to endure the uncertainty that that Johnny might, you know, bring my way Yeah, I mean we don't like uncertainty but there's a as I was reporting the scarcity brain I I ended up reading a lot of strange old texts Text and I read this the writings of this Monk who lived in silence in a cave in the 1800s in France He wrote he published his journals. He didn't use his name because he didn't want any fame. He didn't want anyone to know and There's this quote in the book that Goes you risk so much Hesitating to fling yourself into the abyss and that is the damn truth Especially in the context of today. What's the worst that could happen? You're not gonna die Even if you lose everything you own we've got a lot of safety nets today And do you think you're a relatively intelligent person? Have you figured it out in the past? Well, you can probably figure it out again and If you're not willing to embrace that uncertainty that is actually a feature not a bug because that uncertainty Gives you opportunities if you're certain what you're gonna get. Well, that's not any damn exciting, right? I mean, it's not exciting. That's what you talk about in the scarcity brain. Yeah unpredictability is exciting It's captivating and so yeah, the outcome could be bad, but it could also be really really good way better than you thought But and by not taking that gamble You're kind of sitting on the sidelines. Also chapter 9 of Scarcity brain you talk about something that I joked about for many years as a marketeer I went around telling CMOs around the world and CEOs that if you want your people your team members to do the very best work Of their lives and the most specifically the most innovative and creative work of their lives withhold budgets and I say this because my first company was called wall Park and It was only when we ran out of money We did our best work because we had no choice So we I don't know I had like six thousand pounds as a marketing budget or something And then I remember being sat there with with my two buddies who were building the business with me ashen Don and we ran out of money and From that came an idea that would help me to build a company that was worth several hundreds of millions of dollars.
How The Lack of Resources Spark Creativity (01:32:08)
It was in having less resources That we were forced to do the most creative best work of our lives And it drove us to first principles and that's what I read when you were talking about this study at the University of Illinois And John John Hopkins, that's kind of what I I thought it's true. Yeah people people Become more creative We try to innovate when resources are scarce When we have a bunch of resources what we do is we kind of do whatever everyone else is doing and so I think that when you look at Humans, we're sort of designed to add our default is to add more to do more to whatever and we often look for the sort of easy way out When you remove resources, so we're not able to do that in the same way that kind of everyone else is I think we get forced into innovation and creativity. So we lazy our abundant humans lazy I Don't love the L word. I said it Then I'll agree with you I Think that look I think that we are designed to kind of do the easy thing I think that having to come up with a crazy idea it takes work and Maybe we don't do that if we have the resources to just throw money at the problem and this kind of explains why companies as They get bigger, although they have more intellectual capital. They have more brains in their offices They seem to become less innovative Also, it speaks to the whole loss aversion thing, but they tend to probably default to convention and obvious I think you want to be light you want to be fast you want to be able to you have it sounds counterintuitive but it's almost like you have more options when you're smaller right when you have less because you get like The world is open We got to figure this out And there's all these things that no one else is saying because we're just forced to make a decision given this Small budget that we have and that study at the University of Illinois and John Hopkins you talk about these six studies where? Participants who faced scarce resources performed better. Yeah in what way they came up with ideas that were more innovative They used less resources Interesting, yeah, so when they had less resources they actually used less resources. Yeah, and their ideas were better. Yep Interesting, it also kind of explains why being an underdog and holding on to that mentality regardless of your success is probably a good thing It's like a psychological state of we're not there yet. I say this to my teams all the time about our biggest risk now is like Thinking you've made it Yeah, because you can let off the gas when you've made it and you can just be complacent you have more resources You can do the obvious stuff. You can do what got you here less incentive to innovate and try new things Why would we we're doing well? Yeah, so for I mean for you guys it might be Okay, we know this stuff has worked in the past at a certain point We have to realize that it's not always gonna work. So how are we devoting? time to figuring out these things that people are overlooking that might benefit from fewer resources right, maybe it's like Exercises where one day every month you're going if we had X budget What would we do now? It's kind of different because in the back of their minds people are going Yeah, but we got plenty money. Mm-hmm, but I think trying to figure out okay What would we do if we have this budget? Could be a good exercise to kind of keep lean and be able to try stuff the saddest line in your book Was the line that we are experiencing a rising tide of global sadness chapter 12 11 How do you how do you quantify that rise in global sadness?
Corporate Behaviour And Its Implications On Humanity
Eye-Opening Stats on the Worlds Current Trajectory (01:36:27)
Let's just based on some research that's out there The United States is definitely has become unhappier over the years and I think you're saying this in a lot of other developed nations, too And yeah, it is those a little bit sad usage of the word love halved between 1965 and 2015 in In songs. Yeah, so and yeah There are some researchers that analyze a bunch of lyrics in songs that had come out from the 60s to what was the year? knowing 1965 to 2015. Yep, and they found that the word love nice positive words halved and negative words like hate Increased Jesus. Yeah and global and happiness hit a record high This is the style is looking for global and happiness hit a record high in 2021 According to a source so interesting. What is the what is the antidote then bringing it right back down to You know the individual level the to become a 2% person, right? But when I have this ancient hardware that's given me the scarcity brain What can I do? How can I take back control of my life and live my life more aligned with my long-term goals and dreams? We live in a world where you know, there's a million things. We're told we need to do to be happy It's like you got to do this. You got to do that. There's all this research about it But I think that really when you look at what makes people happy It's when they accomplish things that weren't always easy now that could be from like I mentioned before Like you spend this time alone and get to know yourself better like that's not that's not always easy But you come out on the other side of that better. I think it's being willing to do things That are ultimately going to be uncomfortable. They're gonna be hard and being okay with that in fact embracing that journey is The human story to me and I think that as the world has gotten easier more comfortable safer in a lot of ways and we have this Default to just kind of sit there in that zone I don't think that's necessarily become good for us and that could be you can apply that to all different things I mean, it's that literal and metaphorical taking of the stairs could be Okay, if I feel like I'm lonely Well, I can sit here and be lonely or I can join. I don't know a softball team or a cricket team And yeah, it's gonna be awkward when I meet these new people Do I think it's gonna be easy? No, but that could enhance my life and you can apply that to everything I think it's being willing like that that monk wrote to throw yourself into the abyss and Have a human experience because life is not supposed to be easy all the time and in fact if it is people tend to go a little bit nuts and get unhappy and so Pushing against that I think is a good thing overall for people You must now look at the world having studied all of these things and especially living in Vegas and seeing those gas stations and that Have the roulette machines in them Do you think that corporations and These businesses are like a little bit evil a little bit morally bankrupt. Well, this gets into this larger question So what we have to realize is that a lot of these behaviors are fun and rewarding in the short term So take I don't know tick-tock feeding you the exact algorithm that's going to capture your attention That is fun and rewarding Okay, and so if you were to say well you need to stop doing that then the response from tick-tock would be okay So you're telling us to basically give people boring content that they don't want as much Do we want to live in that world?
Are Companies Exploiting Human Addictive Behaviours? (01:39:34)
I? Don't think so should slot machines be less fun Should it be less fun to watch YouTube should Netflix design itself to be boring? What my message really is is that I'm not saying don't ever do these things But I think we need to realize that we oftentimes Fall into these behaviors for reasons. We're not entirely aware of so if you're the if you want to spend 15 hours a day on tick-tock Hell yeah, go for it. But I want you to make that decision consciously and I think today a Lot of corporations know the decision is not being made consciously. That's the reality. But at the same time, I don't know if the antidote is Gonna be leave us any better because then we start regulating everything and I don't think we want that So really what I want to do is empower people to realize you have the capacity to make choice I want you to be more aware of why you're doing what you're doing because ultimately that is where freedom lies like if we start punishing corporations, it's like You're treating the public like children And I was gonna say the one ethical casino would just go bankrupt Right and it wouldn't exist but I think about that throughout society the one social platform that didn't play to our scarcity brain Would not exist it wouldn't have users. So it just would it would become extinct So and then also if you think about it on like a geographical On a global scale if we just banned it in the United States or the UK A lot of the innovation and opportunity just moves off to China or to some other place where they capitalize on the scarcity brain Yeah, so it's all about being conscious intentional and that starts with exactly what you've done in your book really which is starts with awareness and That's why your book is so brilliant. Both of the books are fantastic the comfort crisis is superb and as I said to you before we started recording I had so many people come on the podcast and Quote things from the book but then also this term the comfort crisis I've had over and over and over again and that comes back to You you said something to me before we started recording that the sales of this book have increased since Publication it's not typical. Yeah, they've increased over time. We're selling more every week now Two and a half three years later than we were Yeah, because I'm gonna came out people can relate to the symptoms I guess. Yeah, I think it's just a word-of-mouth thing I think that people read it and They relate to it. And if they pick up some of the you know Suggestions from the book. I think it changes them for the better You know, I've had a lot of people that have really changed their life from the book And I told you before we started recording that when I do this podcast I make notes beforehand and I don't think I've ever made more notes than I did reading these two books because it's all subject matter that I'm absolutely obsessed with so The scarcity brain which is the newer book says fix your craving mindset and rewire your habits to thrive with enough Superb Superb, I'll link both of them in the description below So if anybody wants to get the books and understand why I was so passionate about having this conversation today But why I love these books so much you'll find them in the description below We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest leaves a question for the next guest not knowing who they're gonna be leaving it for and The question that's been left For you is what makes you happiest What makes me happiest is Probably when I am in my office and it is five in the morning and my dog is there sleeping and
Closing Audience Interaction
The Last Guests Question (01:43:32)
I am writing and it is absolute hell and then BAM The line comes in and I go that is how it all fits together the puzzle pieces suddenly merge and I'm just like totally present aware and the words come and also knowing that once I get through with that writing I'm gonna be able to hang out with my wife who is my favorite person she's the one for me and It's that It's very simple Thank you so much Michael really appreciate the conversation and I feel Smarter having spoke to you. I will quote you for many many conversations I know going forward because as I said, this is the subjects matter that I'm obsessed with at the moment. So thank you for Thank you for giving this message to the world. I think it's a message that Can save us in a lot of ways that we need to be saved that that's the TLDR from what I think about this And all the indicators say that if there was ever a time where we needed to understand How what brain is working and being taken advantage of so we can take back control, but also the importance of discomfort It is now because things are only gonna get easier. Yeah and more comfortable. Thank you. I appreciate you having me on man It was really fun. Enjoy the conversation. I appreciate you talking about the books Yeah, getting them out in the world and having your stamp of approval is awesome. So, thanks Quick one we are working with an exciting new sponsor on this podcast Shopify I'm sure you guys have heard of Shopify if you haven't been living under a rock But for those that don't know Shopify is a commerce platform Revolutionizing millions of businesses worldwide. It is pretty incredible They provide everything you need to start your business and it's super simple to get started and to get your business out there here at the Diversio we've used Shopify for a variety of our different product drops the latest being the conversation cards and without the help of Shopify That wouldn't have been possible. It's mine and my team's go-to website for all things commerce related So I'm giving you guys the chance to trial Shopify for $1. That's right $1 sign up for a $1 trial for a month by searching Shopify.com/Bartlett All lowercase keep it to yourself and let me know how you go on Do you need a podcast to listen to next? We've discovered that people who liked this episode also tend to absolutely love another recent episode We've done so I've linked to that episode in the description below. I know you'll enjoy it *Music*