“Change is the only constant”
Tim Ferriss, self-claimed human guinea pig, the author of the famous 4-Hour Work Week, and a prolific podcaster, is probably one of the most impressive interviewers that I’ve observed.
What makes him such a great interviewer? Here’s what I think:
He listens deeply (instead of just going through a list of questions, although he does have lists prepared): you really hear that in his responses, reactions, and also, pauses. His follow-ups are relevant and eloquently put.
He prepares thoroughly (instead of having a team do it for him and only read the synopsis of the guests): He is well-prepared and well-informed about the guests and their work. You can see that in the depth of his questions, comments, even side-notes and how he gets to them.
And, he comes up with thought-provoking questions that interest both the listeners and the interviewees.
I was recently (re)listening to a repost of an older episode of his podcast with Brené Brown, Striving versus Self-Acceptance, Saving Marriages, and More..
In closing of the episode, he asks 3 questions that may not have been closely related to the content of that episode but super fun and engaging. One of them was,
“What are 5 things that you have changed your mind about in the last few years?”
It was intriguing. So before moving onto listening to Brené’s answers (yes, we’re on a first-name basis, Brené and I, ha!) I paused the podcast and pulled out my notebook and pen to answer this question myself.
Here’s what I got in March 2023:
(I realized that this is not a conclusive or extensive list, and the items below are in no means of priority or importance but these are what came to my mind in the spur of the moment)
1. Connection is super important in my life.
Unlike what we’ve been taught in many different institutions throughout our lives (especially in more capitalist and/or individualist cultures), we can’t just strive to produce more, more, more and more. That productivity can come at the cost of human connections, happiness, and experiencing life.
In another podcast (Happiness 2.0: The Path to Contentment on Hidden Brain), psychologist Iris Mauss explains that pursuing happiness might just render the opposite result than you hoped.
You can chase success thinking that that is what is going to make you happy. Then when you get there, you might realize that you earned success at the cost of your health and connection, which in the long run are actually more valuable for your lasting happiness.
In short, paradoxically, you are likely to lose your happiness in chasing what you think would bring you happiness.
Tip: not all connections are made equal. Observe which connections lift you up and which connections drain you. Spend more time cultivating and nurturing those that contribute to your growth and uplift your energy.
2. If you want to live longer, you gotta SLEEP MORE. Likewise, if you want a better quality of life, get better at sleeping.
I have learned over the recent years how misinforming and even dangerous the phrase “you sleep when you die” can be. You sleep when you die? No, if you don’t sleep you WILL die. Sooner. And you will then have to sleep. Forever.
So don’t underestimate the force of Mother Nature AKA sleepiness. We are made to sleep one third of our lives for a reason. Don’t fight it.
You don’t believe me? Check out this TedTalk, Sleep is your superpower by Matt Walker, the author of Why We Sleep.
My partner is the one who showed me with his actions (along with what felt like nagging) in the last few years, that ditching everything to sleep at 9PM isn’t laziness, but it is the ultimate act of self-love and self-care. He is really good at saying “I’ve done enough for the day. I need to prioritize my sleep. I will finish this tomorrow”.
By doing that, he is prioritizing himself over his check-lists, to-dos, FOMOs and expectations of others. Better yet, this act of “fuck it, I’m going to bed” implies an amazing amount of self-respect and confidence. Many of us stay awake late trying to prove our value and worthiness:
Working more to produce more so that we would be successful, then we would be worthy.
Saying yes to social obligations so that people would like us and think we are fun, then we would be accepted, not ostracized, and… worthy.
Turning on that TV because we “deserve” to relax. But what is more relaxing than getting a solid 8 hours of sleep going through a few REM and deep-sleep cycles?
He is saying SCREW YOU to all of the above, because taking care of himself is so much more important than all of the above, trying to prove, fit-in, YOLO non-sense.
With that, he is able to show up as his best self to himself, to people around him, to his work, and to the world. The next day. When he is awake.
Tip: Dr. Andrew Huberman has many great podcasts and talks on how to optimize sleep, and even how to transform from a night owl (like myself) to an early bird.
3. YOUR EMOTIONS belong to you.
Yes, you can ask someone to make adjustments and help you get what you need, but it is far better, quicker and more accurate, therefore more efficient, to give yourself what you need before asking someone else and expecting them to comply while caring as much as you.
This, I find, is especially true in relationships. There are many relationship gurus and books that will “teach” you how to effectively ask for what you need. Sure, that is a useful skill. But I’ve learned over the years that when I am feeling resentful that another person is not fulfilling my wishes, I am actually resentful, first and foremost, towards myself. I have neglected providing me with what I need. So I go and ask someone else to give it to me instead. And when someone else fails to fulfill my wishes and needs, I feel resentful towards myself. When that happens, it is easy to blame the other person, which is why we mistakenly think that we are resentful toward that person.
Again, there are times when it is appropriate to ask your partner, colleague, parents, neighbours, friends to collaborate with you in getting what you need. Sometimes you can’t do it alone, especially in a relationship that involves two (or more) people, and where you are constantly affected by one another. However, before asking someone, ask yourself if YOU have given you what you needed, and if it can be solved within your control before escalating to someone else.
More often than not, you would be surprised how much you can do for yourself.
That is part of self-care.
Tip: When you ask yourself what you need, go deeper into asking what you are really longing for. If you are upset your partner did not give you a hug, a hug might be something you need, and maybe at a deeper level, what you are really longing for is love, appreciation, and attention. What can you do in that moment to give yourself some love, appreciation and attention?
4. HAVING FUN is a super cool way to connect with yourself and the universe (the source, God, higher-power, whatever you want to call it). Do things that are fun for you, and make it a big part of your life. Doing things that are just fun and create no obvious value in your life isn’t a waste of time. It is called living. If we’re only chasing success, money, promotion, then what are we living for? When we chase those things, do we question why it is that we want those while sacrificing fun, laughter, and human experience? When you fill your life with more fun things, it opens doors to more connection, more creativity, more positivity and joy. It will fill your life with, well, more living, enthusiasm and happiness. It will improve other aspects of your life. You will be able to handle things better. You will become more resilient. You will be more creative. You will start to think outside the box. You will be more pleasant to be around.
Your mom is right. Get off the screen, go out and play! Socialize!
Just come back home early enough to get a good night’s sleep ;)
Tips: Ask yourself, what are some things that you did in the past week that really lifted your energy and brought you a lot of joy? What can you do to rearrange your life a little to do more of those things?
5. Kimchi is amazing.
I was conditioned to think that it is “too spicy”, “too salty”, “too smelly”.
But Kimchi is actually a super healthy source of probiotic, you get used to the spice and smell, and the saltiness neutralizes with some rice :)
As a Korean, I’m a born again fan of Kimchi. Ya!
What do you think?
As I said above, there are many other things (including more important things and things that struck me more deeply) that I changed my mind about in the past years. But for the sake of the fun of the game, and to see what comes to my mind first, without putting too much thought into it, this is the list I came up with within 5 to 10 minutes of pausing the episode.
What about you? What would your list look like?
Would it make a difference if you did this exercise in the spur of the moment (e.g. right now for the next 5 minutes) vs. if you spent about 2 hours reflecting on it deeply?
What do you make of your list? What is it telling you? What did you learn?
Are you still you with these adjustments in your thinking and way of approaching life?
What and who influenced you to change your mind on these things?
Did you have a problem coming up with 5, or did you have too many and had to prune your answers to make them fit in just the 5 bullets?
If you were able to find at least 5, amazing!
I think that you are open-minded enough to reeducate, rethink, and restructure your mind and way of thinking.
If you were able to fly through 5 quickly, congratulations!
You are not only open-minded, but also you are so self-aware that you already knew you changed your mind on certain things (hence the speed).
If you were not able to come up with much, don’t worry!
Your willingness to try should tell you about your willingness to grow and that is something to be celebrated.
Now, wasn’t it fun?
I hope you have a wonderful day, and be proud of yourself for your growth and changes you have made in yourself (aka in your own world!)
With love, S