May 5, 2022
[00:00:56] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:51] Which is healthier: a car battery or Diet Dr Pepper?
[00:09:15] How Chris got introduced to the world of podcasting
[00:15:16] Chris's morning routine
[00:31:05] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:34] Routines and rituals throughout the day
[00:49:39] Ben and Chris's process for prepping for podcast interviews
[00:53:55] Chris's nutrition practices
[00:57:37] Ben and Chris's process for prepping for podcast interviews
[01:04:30] Reading humans based on cognitive biases
[01:08:53] Building a solid foundation for one's life
[01:18:41] Closing the Podcast
[01:19:32] Upcoming Events
[01:20:31] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life Podcast.
Chris: Strong beliefs held loosely, not loose beliefs held strongly.
Ben: Strong beliefs held loosely.
Chris: Not loose beliefs held strongly.
Ben: I like that.
Chris: And, it just helps especially if you're having one of those tough sessions. It just reminds you, “Oh, I'm supposed to be meditating, I'd better bring myself back in line here.”
Where I've really been able to dedicate myself. I have an excuse to commit myself to the productivity that I kind of was recreationally [BLEEP] about within any case. And now, I have something, I genuinely believe…
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
Hey, folks. What's up? It's Ben Greenfield. I'm on the road. I'm recording for you my little portable mic but hopefully, the audio quality is okay enough for you to get tuned in to some of the fantastic folks who support this podcast including Joovv. So, whole body wellness is a huge part of my life. You may have seen all the stories on the internet about stupid biohackers like me standing naked in front of red lights. And, there's a reason, there's a reason I do it, not just to look funny for photographs.
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Alright. So, the whole health and fitness world is talking about glucose these days. I've got my handy dandy blood glucose monitor, continuous blood glucose monitor slapped on my left arm right now. You could also put it on your stomach. And, for example, I was out hiking with my family the other day and I had a cinnamon roll before we went out hiking. I never do that, but I got dizzy during the hike and I'm like, “What's going on?” So, I checked my blood glucose, it spiked up to 140 after the cinnamon roll and then dropped down to 50 during the hike. And, I'm all dizzy and had no clue why. But then, when I checked my blood glucose, I'm like, “Yo, note to self, even if it's pre-exercise, I don't do well with a wheat-based carb intake pre-exercise.” And, these are little things. I found out I was allergic to green beans from a blood glucose monitor or at least they gave me the clue that I needed to go get tested for that. I know that cold thermogenesis and weightlifting just plummet my blood glucose very effectively. I'm one giant walking experiment on my blood glucose levels because I wear this Levels monitor.
And, Levels is extremely popular. They've got 150,000 people plus on their wait list. But, you can be a member of their private beta if you go to levels.link/BEN. That's levels.link/BEN to get your own continuous blood glucose monitor. You don't have to have the diabetes to be able to get one, you can literally just go to levels.link/BEN and get yourself a continuous blood glucose monitor.
You're drinking a Diet Dr Pepper I see, my friend.
Chris: Have you got a problem with this? Are you going to tell me this is going to do something terrible to me?
Ben: Well, I used to drink six of those a day. Seriously, when I was doing hip and knee surgical sales, which is my job straight out of college, I would really just jam on those things all day long.
Chris: They taste like a fizzy battery.
Ben: Yeah, like a fizzy battery. They probably have a slightly lower nutritional density than a battery. Well, initially, I replaced my diet soda habit with just putting stevia, or monk fruit, or some other natural sweetener into sparkling water. If you've ever dropped vanilla stevia into a Topo Chico, it literally makes it taste like a vanilla cream soda, which is amazing.
Chris: I need to talk to you about sparkling water. So, I thought that the pinnacle of sparkling water was San Pellegrino. And, I'm like, “I'm not a sparkling water guy. I've tried it a few times.” There's something about becoming a moderate net worth individual where everybody stops drinking flat water, it's like, “Ah, sorry, no.” As soon as you earn a 100 grand or more, you have to start drinking sparkling water. I don't know what it is. And, I was like, “I'm just not made for it.” And then, I spent a few weeks with Jordan Peterson and his team in New York and I got introduced to the elixir that is Topo Chico. And now, I really can't go back. So, I'm down for dropping flavored natural sweetener into Topo Chico. I'm down for that.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, Topo Chico is pretty good. They caught some flack a couple of years ago because somebody basically reported that they found microplastics in the Topo Chico water when they did an independent analysis of all these different waters out there. And, that wasn't a glass-bottled Topo Chico, it was the plastic stuff. But apparently, they cleaned up their act and they switched something they were doing with their bottling processed to where even Topo Chico now is pretty safe. But yeah, what I do is I get this brand of stevia called Omica Organics. And, I buy it on Amazon, I get their vanilla flavor and their butterscotch toffee flavor. And then, because Topo Chico is just too small for me and I am one of those semi-rich efforts who's into social signaling by drinking sparkling water as you've just alluded to but–
Chris: Do you know what I'm talking about?
Ben: I know exactly what you're talking about. Yeah, yeah.
Topo Chico is too small for me. I have to signal. I have whatever the sparkling water equivalent of small penis syndrome is because I have to get the giant, the San Pellegrinos. Those are the ones that I eat.
Chris: Okay. So, if they do a magnum of Topo Chico.
Ben: They may. I don't know. But anyways, the thing is though so that's what I did for a while when I was drinking all the Diet Dr Peppers. And then, I switched to what I consider to be God's gift to humankind, and that's Zevia. So, Zevia, this soda company, they developed stevia-flavored soda that is a really clean form of stevia unlike the form Coca-Cola use is that has a bunch of maltodextrin stuff in it. They've got BPA-free cans that don't have a bunch of metal in them. And, I actually saw that the soda itself has been tested for metals, very low metals. And then, what they've done is they've replicated all of our favorite childhood flavors of soda. So–
Chris: I am drinking. That there is a Zevia strawberry. And, I had some grape last week. I just thought it was nice, tasty drink.
Ben: Are you double fisting on our podcast with Zevia strawberry and a Diet Dr Pepper and a protein shake?
Chris: That's just water, but yeah. I like to stay hydrated.
Ben: I guess you do. Geez. But yeah, Zevia, I think nailed the Dr Pepper flavor. They nailed the Mountain Dew flavor. Yeah, they do a good job. So, I kind of go back and forth now between Zevia and then San Pellegrino with stevia added to it.
Chris: Nowhere near enough of a signal from Zevia though. Zevia is not a rich people drink.
Ben: No, no.
Chris: So, put some Zevia in a Topo Chico or a San Pellegrino bottle. You're laughing.
Ben: And, Zevia actually confuses people because most people see the soda and they think, “Oh, this cat is drinking soda. He's a fitness influencer, or nutritionist, or whatever. What business does he have drinking soda?” And, they don't even understand that it's not soda, it's sparkling water that's got hippie unicorn tears added to it and actually healthy for you. And so, yeah, it can be confusing to people.
Chris: Yeah, yup.
Ben: But, anyways, you're confusing to people too, Chris, because if I tell people your bio, a lot of times people will have these bios that almost require one of those, what was it in medieval times when the person would roll in with the trumpet and the scroll like the herald, I think, they were called. And, you roll down the giant scroll and it keeps rolling and rolling and rolling down the road and then eventually they begin to read it. Hereby, the king says or whatever. And, a lot of people's bios on podcasts are like that. They kind of just keep going and going and you're looking at your watch 10 minutes in and yawning and bored that the podcast hasn't officially started yet. But, I'll tell people who Chris is.
Alright, everybody. Chris is a podcaster. He's a youtuber and a club promoter. He also is kind of sorted into health and life hacking and stuff. So, there you go. And, he has a podcast, it's called Modern Wisdom. Did I cover everything, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, that's it.
Ben: Alright, cool. Easy. But, actually you have quite a good podcast. I think that was how we initially met. I think I was on your podcast way back when in the day and I've come across some of your stuff since then. I've listened to some interviews that you've done, which are really good. You've got a great podcasting style. You do some lifehacks. You have these little newsletters come out that are full of these short pithy life optimization tips. And, it's really interesting what you're up to. So, I thought it would be fun to hop on and chat a little bit.
Chris: Yeah, man. I'm looking forward to it.
Ben: Yeah. So, what came first for you? Was it club promoting or podcasting or something else that got you addicted to Diet Dr Pepper?
Chris: Yeah. So, I started life as a club promoter at university. I arrived and realized that I was skint after freshers' week, didn't have any money left. So, sat next to this guy in a lecture and he said, “Oh, you can come and be a flyer at nightclubs with me because I used to do this in another city.” And, that guy that I sat next to 15 years later is still my business partner. So, we still haven't got rid of each other after all that time. We started running events. I became a professional party boy for the best part of 12 years, 13 years, something like that. I did some reality TV. I went on “Take Me Out” and the first season of “Love Island” in the UK. So, I got a blue tick on Twitter and free charcoal toothpaste, all that good stuff. Kind of came off the back of that second reality TV dating show. I had to ask myself some questions. I was getting toward the end of my 20s and I was still doing this sort of big-name on-campus party boy thing thought like, “Is this really the best? Is this all that I've got to offer the world? Is the pinnacle of my contribution going to be getting people drunk to hip-hop music, or house music, or whatever, 18-year-olds coming and getting drunk, or wearing a small pair of swim shorts on a tv show?” And, that's not to say that that doesn't add value, but I kind of wanted to try and work out if there was something else going on. And, as a part of that, it was a good time. So, 2016, '17, you had your Peterson's, your Rogan's, your Sam Harris's, your Shapiro's, your Ben Greenfield. That was a real sort of golden age, I think, for being introduced to–
Ben: Yeah. I like how you kind of casually threw my name into the mix of all the titans.
Chris: Your first and second episode on Rogan broke the internet. I remember when you had to make a blog post on your website just because of all of the stuff that you dropped on there. I was very, very impressed. I was very impressed the first time I heard you. And then, you came back on a couple of weeks later. Yeah, you're in the mix.
Ben: Thank you. Yeah.
Chris: So, yeah, that was a good time. And then, I thought, well, these people seem to like having conversations. I've always been curious in that way but didn't really have an outlet, started the show and then, yeah, four years later, we're 450 episodes deep, 50 million plays. Jordan Peterson, Seth Gordon, Ryan Holiday, Aubrey Marcus, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Chris: All of those big hitters. And now, this is where my passion lies.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, you actually, as part of some of this reality TV show stuff that you've done, you've done some modeling and things like that too, yeah?
Chris: That's correct. Yes, I was a commercial model for most of my 20s. If you can imagine anything that a professional fuckboy would do, that was kind of the career path that I was taking: club promoter, reality TV, model, DJ.
Chris: What are the job titles that would strike that?
Ben: I'm not familiar with that term. What's a professional fuckboy? What's that mean?
Chris: Kind of the equivalent of a bit of a ratchet girl in a way. So, he's going out drinking, very sort of bothered about status, partying all of the time, being seen on social media, that sort of stuff. It's a tongue-in-cheek way of referring to it. That wasn't actually what I was interested in, but high level, I took all of the jobs that kind of a professional party boy would have done.
Ben: Okay, got you. And, where do you actually live?
Chris: So, right now, I'm in Austin, Texas I'm out here just making friends and enjoying life. But–
Ben: That's not a Texas accent, Chris.
Chris: No. But, it's also not the northeast of the UK accent either. So, the UK version of Jersey Shore was filmed in the city that I'm from, Geordie Shore it was called. Yeah, I don't sound like that either. Makes Jersey Shore look PG-13. It makes it look absolutely wimpy.
Ben: And, do you actually live in Austin, Texas or you're just there visiting?
Chris: Yeah, extended visit at the moment moving between countries. It's the first time ever since doing the show that I've been able to move around the world. Club promoting kind of tethers you geographically to one location. And, it's the first time I've ever been able to kind of be liberated to go do stuff. And, I do enjoy traveling, so I'm very, very much enjoying it here.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. You and the rest of the world are moving to that trendy place called Austin, Texas. I'll actually be there in a few weeks for an event called the Paleo FX, which is kind of like a gathering of a bunch of people who think we ought to live like cavemen still who apparently don't realize the horrible deaths that can be induced by things like saber-toothed tigers and starvation and living in caves.
Chris: They don't mean that, they mean grain-free [BLEEP] granola. That's what they mean.
Ben: Right. Because we all know that paleo man as they fended off wild beasts with spears and hunted down wooly mammoth to feed their starving families would have absolutely stepped back in absolute shock and withdrawn and curled into a fetal position should you have offered them a bag of, I don't know, granola that has–
Chris: Paleonola Granola, yes.
Ben: Yes, yes. There are few holes in that whole theory.
Anyway, so back to and perhaps a little bit relevant to paleo and fitness and all this jazz, you having been a model and talked to a lot of these people who are into lifehacking and optimization of not just life but also fitness, and movement patterns, and nutrition, and things alike.
I'm curious to hear about what your average daily routine looks like. And, one of the reasons I ask this, Chris, too is I find it interesting when I interview people who are also prolific podcasters like yourself who seem to pick up a lot of tips and tricks here along the way from people that they've interviewed and incorporate them how those kind of get fleshed out in your daily routine. And, I might interrupt you a little bit, we might rabbit hole a little bit. But, can you get into some of your big wins on a daily basis?
Chris: Absolutely, yes. So, I'm huge into morning routines. It's so, so important. If I win the morning, then I tend to win the rest of the day. So, for me, wake up in Austin is usually around 7:00, 7:30, something like that. Upon waking, Elements, salt in water, I absolutely love them. I think that what they do is great and the flavors are fantastic. I really look forward to having that. So, it's usually maybe 400 mLs of water from the fridge.
Ben: Yeah. And, by the way, as I promised, I'll interrupt you a few times as you go.
This Elements stuff, I hear a lot of people talking about it nowadays. I should probably know more about it because I'm supposed to know a lot about the nutrition industry. But, what is it about Element that's so amazing?
Chris: I really enjoy the taste. I've put my faith in them that they understand the sodium-potassium-magnesium ratio effectively. I have been off caffeine for 500 days just under 490 something days now. I wanted to do a little experiment with myself. I also did a thousand days without alcohol to see, again, just how I'd respond to that. And, without that salt in the morning was something that I'd seen a bit of research online optimizing the adrenal system because your adenosine system isn't active for the first 90 minutes of the day. You may tell me that I'm sciencing my way through this at the moment. But, whether placebo, or expectation, or something, it seems to work well for me. And, I really, really enjoyed the taste of it and I find that it satiates my hunger. I'm usually fasted until a little bit later in the afternoon usually sort of 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. And, I find that that's a good way to start. So, get up, knock that back, the tastes are great. They do a mango chili flavor, which is kind of a soba margarita first thing in the morning which is kind of a fun way to start the day. Off on a walk, 15 minutes of walk obviously in Austin because the weather's usually pretty good. I've got sunlight in the eyes, which is, again, me seems to be doing [00:17:55] _____. My sleeping pattern is really, really strong. Remembering that my background is in nightlife, so the people who are listening that do shift work that are nurses, that the doctors, that are fire fighters, any of that sort of stuff, it's brutal, man. I'm not sure whether you've ever had unstable sleep and wake pattern. But, it does terrible, terrible things downstream from that, your hunger cravings, your mood.
Ben: That's what the thing is now in circadian biology is the more that you can achieve, the same wake time and same go to sleep time on an average day the better versus kind of the weekend where they call it social jet lag where you've got Monday through Friday, you're pretty good, then maybe Saturday and Sunday you're burning the candle and then you get back into a strict schedule Monday through Friday. But, turns out that's not so good.
But, the other thing that you alluded to was this idea of the electrolytes in the morning. Even though it sounds like that mango chili thing, do you say mango chili was the flavor?
Chris: Mango chili is the flavor, yeah.
Ben: It sounds like that would be pretty good in the evening too with a little bit of tequila and maybe some Topo Chico. But, the idea with these electrolytes in the morning, you actually are onto something. Yeah. And, I've even gotten to the point where I'll put a few pinches of a really good salt into my morning cup of coffee. Like you, I punish minerals when I first wake up like a big Mason glass jar. I use a form of minerals called Quinton, Q-U-I-N-T-O-N. It's basically drinking sea water, but it's kind of been sterilized. It's got a ton of minerals in it. But, you're right, when you wake and the sunlight hit your eyes and maybe you throw some caffeine down the hatch too from coffee, or tea, or something like that, those two factors together just jack your cortisol levels up, which isn't bad. I mean, because it's kind of wake- wakey from a hormone standpoint. But, any time you shove the adrenals into overdrive or at least accelerate their activity a little bit in the morning like that, it exhausts your mineral stores more readily. Magnesium being at the top of the list, potassium being up there too, but all these other little trace minerals also being important.
So, I think you're really onto something and a lot of people should know this. If you're not doing minerals, and salts, and electrolytes pretty early in the morning preferably in some of the first cups of beverage that you consume, you're kind of missing out on a little bit of support for your adrenal glands that I think is super important. I got on the high mineral, high electrolyte bandwagon back when I was racing Ironman, and man, just the difference in sleep and energy, it's pretty profound. It's not expensive.
Chris: No, it's not. I heard the actual way that the synapses in your brain fire based on electrolytes. The electrolytes might be potassium magnesium or sodium literally is the conductor that permits the neurons to fire or at least their key in permitting that to occur. So, sort of foggy mood, unclear thoughts. I find since sticking to this morning routine staying fasted until later in the day, I usually record my — I'll get back through and I'll tell you why I think it's so good for my performance. So, do my little walk, come back in, I'll do journaling using the 6-Minute Diary, which is actually just become available in America. It's three minutes in the morning, three minutes in the evening science-backed positive psychology. Really, really easy but there's a big 60-page buy-in at the beginning where the guy that made it, Dominic, lays out all of the research about exactly why this is in there, about why he wants you to do it. At the end of each week, there's these very different and unique questions. It's about 20 bucks for six months.
Ben: This is different than the 5-Minute Journal. It sounds like they've added highly inconvenient minute to it obviously for people who need that extra 60 seconds. This is bullshit because the 5-Minute Journal is just five. But, what makes the 6-Minute Journal or the 6-Minute Diary so special?
Chris: I have used 10 of them over the last, whatever, five years. It's been one of the staples for me in the morning. They also have a success journal, which I've used a few of which is more focused on your to-do list and tasks to be done during the day. But, they're great, you can get them on Amazon if you use the code 15minutes, 15minutes, all one word, you'll get 15% discount I think off that if you're going on. And, you can use that code on Amazon actually. But, I really like it. It just sets me up for the day. Formalized gratitude is the fundamental foundation of positive psychology. Susanna Halonan who's the happyologist. She taught me that four years ago. If you're not doing formal gratitude, you're fundamentally limiting the amount of happiness that you can have during the day. That was what she said. And, I have no reason not to believe her. Now, it's part of your routine, it's one of those things that you don't even really question. So, I'll do that. I will do some breathwork using State app, which you might be familiar with, Brian Mackenzie's thing. I really, really like that for four different pathways, really, really great, super simple to use. Then, meditation using Insight Timer, which is actually hour for hour the most popular meditation app on the planet by a huge margin. They did a study where they spent on calm and headspace and everything else. And, Insight Timer is two times the nearest competitor in terms of how much time people use on it. And, I just use it for unguided meditation.
Chris: The meditation program I'm following at the moment is Shinzen Young's Five Ways to Know Yourself, which is available free online. So, if you just google Five Ways to Know Yourself, it's a free PDF, it'll be the top thing that comes up on google. And, if you are a sort of cerebral rational type person that also likes the idea of meditation, it's the most concise precise way to explain what you're trying to achieve with a vipassana-style meditation. And, that's great, I had a coach that also kind of helped to take me through it.
Ben: What's that mean, Chris, of Possumus style meditation?
Chris: So, mindfulness would be the, I guess, sort of rational 21st-century version of doing this. So, you're focusing on particular sensations inside of the mind. And, there are a few different pathways that you can follow. But, that five ways document is phenomenal. it'll take you maybe an hour to read something like that and it explains everything. It's great.
Ben: Okay, got it. And, by the way, for those of you listening, you don't need to write furiously, I'm going to jot down some of Chris's tips here and I'll put them all at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ModernWisdom. That's also the name of Chris's podcast, Modern Wisdom. I'll put them on BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ModernWisdom.
It's interesting, Chris, I talk to a lot of achievers or impactful individuals and this repetitive pattern seems to emerge of not just some type of movement early in the day and awareness of the impact of things like cortisol, and beverages, and electrolytes, and light, and just basically, well, lifehacking that early part of the day. But then, some type of journal always takes pressing. And, it seems with most people, it's a five-minute journal, some form of self-inflicted gratitude journaling. I hadn't heard of this one that you brought up, the 6-Minute-Diary, but that's a new one for me. I'll have to look into that and some of the cues and the prompts and that.
I don't know if you know this. I wrote a journal called the “Spiritual Disciplines Journal.” It's more a religious five-minute journal, 6-Minute Diary type of thing where you're asking yourself questions related to gratitude, and service, and purpose, and self-examination, and whatnot. And, I also, though I use the Insight Timer, I use it a ton for, I think, you called it unguided meditation where I'm just using the bells, and the cues, and the time, little angel choir noises or piano noises in the background. And, it's just the perfect background music. My backup for that is there's another channel called Soaking Worship on Spotify, which is also wonderful for just morning spiritual time, or whether it's prayer, devotion, or gratitude journal or anything. That channel is amazing. It's called Soaking Worship.
And then, you said the breathwork app that you use is by Brian Mackenzie. And, what was that one called again?
Chris: State shift, I think, is the website. But, if you just search state breathwork, it should come up on iOS and stuff.
Chris: It's great. I really, really love that. I've been using that, again, for probably two or three years.
Ben: Have you heard of the one called Othership, the breathwork app called Othership?
Ben: Okay. This is a new one. It came out, I think three months ago. And, it's got sessions that are as short as two minutes all the way up to full-on 75-minute holotropic just kick your ass kind of altered state of consciousness type of breathwork sessions. There's some partner sessions on there that you can do with your lover while you're in bed, for example, 20, 30 minutes of pre-lovemaking breathwork. There's breathwork that's meant to be paired with CBD or breathwork that's meant to be paired with ketamine. It's just a really cool app. Yeah. It's paid. I forget what it cost, but the feedback I get from some folks I tell about is it's kind of expensive for a paid app. I don't remember how much it is, but I mean gosh I use that thing four to five times a week. My sons and I are doing sessions on it all the time. My kids love it because it's got great music and it's got the binaural beats worked in a few headphones. And, I haven't used this other one by Brian Mackenzie, I'll have to check it out. But, if you want to mess around with an app, that other ship one's pretty cool too.
Chris: Yeah. So, Brian's is very stripped back, it's four different pathways. I want to say alert, present, calm, and sleep. Four different pathways. What it does do, which is really cool, it programs in progressive overload. So, after you finish a session, it asks you two questions. And, your responses will base on how your self-rating of difficulty will progress the overload and the difficulty for future sessions as well. Plus, it does a max exhale test which you do every so often. And, that again feeds into the algorithm that mediates how long the breath holds are and different bits and pieces. So, that's pretty cool. And, what I really about the sequence that I've got here, get up, hydrate, walk with sunlight, get back journal then breathwork straight into. Meditation for me is a really lovely way. The breathwork gets me centered, kind of clears my mind a little bit. And, I find that my meditation sessions are significantly better if I roll straight from breathwork into those. Yeah, that's a big part of it.
Insight Timer, again, is great because, for the people that don't know, you can have background music if you want. But, for the most part, people use it with silence. And then, every x number of minutes, you can program a little wooden block or a gong or something to go off. And, it just helps especially if you're having one of those tough sessions. It just reminds you, “Oh, I'm supposed to be meditating, I'd better bring myself back in line here.” It's so useful.
Ben: Yeah, I agree. The way I have it set up is I've got just two preset settings on my Insight Timer. I got one there's a 20-minute for my morning kind of personal quiet time and devotions, the first 10 minutes I use for prayer and the second 10 minutes I use for reading scripture and things like that. But, there's a bell at the beginning, bell at the 10-minute mark, bell at the end. And, there's actually another bell a minute before it ends just so I can kind of start to be ready for it to end. And then, I have a seven-minute preset that is my family's journaling where the first three minutes, there's a bell, then there's three minutes where we're just usually just sitting breathing meditating. And then, there's a bell, there's another two minutes for gratitude, then a bell, another two minutes for service. But yeah, I agree, just the way they've built that app and it's kind of sky's the limit. They have all those guided and unguided meditations on it but then just the timer and the bells. Honestly, I'm not joking, I like little angel choir background that plays on it where you feel you're approaching the gates of heaven. I don't know if you've heard that one, but it's kind of like, “Aah.” And, it just kind of goes.
Chris: Have you ever thought about releasing your own angel choir track on Spotify because I'm pretty sure that people would be down to hear that again?
Ben: Yeah, I haven't gotten the angel certification yet. And, I have to go and get the piece of paper first. It verifies that I'm angelic enough to do that and then I will. So–
Chris: Is that like you can't call it champagne if it's not from champagne?
Ben: Right, right, exactly. Very similar. So, I got to do the thing and then you get the wings and you got to be–
Chris: I'm glad that the accreditation system is sufficiently robust to keep because what we don't want which was a problem for a long time is I'm sure that you're very familiar with was these non-angels that were just calling themselves angels. You create a website on the internet called AngelBenGreenfield.com.
Ben: Right. And, the secret angel handshake is a bitch, by the way. That alone, usually the pass rate's only 30%. So, yeah, it takes some work, man.
Chris: Yeah, it does.
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Back into your routine. So, you got your meditation and your breathwork and just keep on going. This is super interesting. I love to hear about the optimized day.
Chris: So, we've done breathwork, we've done meditation. This is all in the same seat. This is something really important, this is a James Clear thing. And, most people understand about environment design. But, habit stacking is such an easy way to build up a morning routine. And, this has taken me a long time to do, but I do it all in one location so I don't move. And, because I have built this up over time, I have everything that I need next to me. I'll have my water with my electrolytes. And, if I've got a little bit left maybe from before I went for the walk, after I went for the walk and sit down, I have the phone, I have a separate device. Actually, this is a really interesting one, especially for people that don't like to use their device too much or trying to cut back on their tech use. I sleep with my phone outside of my bedroom, which I mean that is an absolute must-do. If you haven't done that already, just take the charging cable now, put it in the kitchen or put it in the living room or something. And, it means that the temptation to roll over in the middle of the night and use your phone.
I use a sunrise alarm clock. Probably should have mentioned that. That's the first thing that happens in the day. Sunrise alarm clock. I'm actually listening to Keeping Him Close By, which is Houston's sort of religious sermon service radio station out here. I just like waking up to people speaking rather music. Phone is outside of the bedroom. I actually have a second device, which I use for my morning routine which doesn't have anything on except for headspace and calm and–
Ben: That's a good idea. That's what I have because for a while I was using my phone primarily, but I just have a strip down iTouch now. And, the iTouch has all my NuCalm sessions on it, it's got my Brain.fm, it's kind of the audio iTouch and it's got no connectivity. So, I can have that in the bedroom. And, that way, if you roll over and you got to change up the track, you want to select something different, you don't have to mess around with text or accidentally forgetting to put the phone in airplane mode and getting woken up by 1:00 a.m. from a drunk text or something like that. I agree, phone out of the bedroom, the pros outweigh the cons. That's for sure.
Chris: 100%. I actually have three devices. So, I have my main device which has got all of my messaging on, it's got my email and all of that stuff synced in but it has no social media. I have a social media phone, which has got all of my connectivity and all of that stuff. So, I use that for posting and replying and responding. And then, I have that personal development phone. And, it's like, “Oh, you've got three phones, that's an expense.” You go, “Well, it is.” But, most people probably update their phone I would guess maybe every two to three years. All that I've done is accumulate old phones. So, rather than trading it in to save 150 bucks, I've kept that phone and then that conveyable sequence continues. So, I've done that. Then, I'll read for usually between 10 and 20 minutes. That will tend to be at the moment because I'm recording quite aggressively for Modern Wisdom, usually the person that I'm speaking to later that day, that'll be their book. That'll just be using a timer on the personal development phone. Set the timer away for 20 minutes and I'll read. I'm reading on a Kindle Oasis, which if you haven't got one of those is an absolute.
Ben: Is that different than the Fire because I think that's what I have is a Fire?
Chris: Yeah. So, this is a black and white e-reader but unlike the Kindle Paperwhite, it's got a much bigger screen, much sharper DPI, it's got these two buttons that allow you to change the page that you're on on the left and right, which is really satisfying to press. So, changing the page becomes quite a bit of a joy. And, it's got a offset battery. So, what it does, the center of mass is actually way, way, way over to one side. So, it's optimized for single-hand reading. If you've ever tried to read for a long period of time with a Paperwhite, I mean it must weigh less than 100 grams probably. But, because it's quite wide and long, 100 grams or a bit of leverage can actually start to, you can start to shake or it can start to make your hand hurt a little bit.
So, reading on that, again, I'll integrate that with an app called ReadWise. You familiar with that?
Ben: Oh, you know what, I signed up for ReadWise. I think it was Tim Ferriss who had recommended it because I highlight a lot. Well, you explain, you do a better job than I would because you're actually using it whereas for me, it's somewhere on my phone, I don't use it anymore. I don't know why.
Chris: Okay. So, ReadWise is a Kindle highlight and resurfacing app basically, but it integrates with so much stuff. So, if you're using Instapaper, if you're using Pocket, you can integrate it with your Twitter as well so that you can save stuff and send stuff to your ReadWise. And then, the way that I use it, other people you can do it for space repetition learning and interleaving and all sorts of stuff. I use probably the most common setting, which is every morning at 7:00 a.m., it emails me four random highlights from my archive. And, I think I might have maybe 2,000 or 3,000 highlights or something like that. So, it auto-syncs. Every time that I highlight anything that's in my Amazon library that's a book that I've purchased, it'll automatically sync up to there. Then, if I'm doing it with documents that I've sent to my Kindle–by the way, that's something else that people need to use. One of the best apps I've got is a browser extension for Google Chrome called Send to Kindle. It's made by Amazon. You press one button and it will automatically optimize whatever the pages that you're looking at for your Kindle reader. It'll send it directly to your Kindle, highlightable with all of the formatting retained. But, you can use the text changer, the font change, all that stuff on your Kindle so it doesn't destroy it and send it across to some ugly PDF. It's beautiful.
Ben: Yeah. What's that one called again?
Chris: Send to Kindle.
Ben: I just want to make sure. That's what I have. I use it a ton. It's a little tab on the browser. Yeah, Send to Kindle.
Chris: You just press it and it just appears.
Ben: Yeah. So, any article I'm reading, because a lot of times I don't know about you, Chris, so I'll get a fantastic article and I really want to read it, but I think it's an old David Allen, his “Getting Things Done” book that says, “Well, something takes one or two minutes or whatever, just do it, just get out of the way. But, it's going to take more than that, figure a way to schedule it.” So, for me, I'll have these fantastic articles, I don't know, whatever. Charles Eisenstein will release some big essay and I'm like, “Oh, I really want to read this.” But, I'm going to forget about this, I don't have time, I hit that Send to Kindle button and it just goes to the Kindle and then I can read it, I don't know, when I'm taking a dump or sometime when I have more time. So, yeah, I love that.
Chris: Speaking of which, because I upgraded from a Paperwhite to an Oasis, I have a Paperwhite that lives in my bathroom. So, whenever I go to the–I have a rule of not taking my phone to the toilet–
Ben: It's probably just a little bit more paper brown though, that one.
Chris: Come on, Ben. So, Send to Kindle, phenomenal, turns your e-reader into a read later device basically. And, you go to bed on an evening time or whatever, or you're looking for something to read and you just have this library of all of this cool stuff that previous you sent to current you. So, I enjoyed that. So, sit down, 20 minutes-ish, usually 10 to 20 minutes.
I'll finish my morning routine with Stu McGill's Big 3, you familiar with those?
Ben: Oh, I remember one. Actually, I think I remember two. I interviewed Stu a long time ago, the cat-cow and then the opposite arm opposite leg extension thing where you're reaching with left arm right leg, right arm left leg. And, I forget what the other one is.
Chris: Okay. So, the cat-cow is actually one of the mobility things in between, so you typically do that in between movement two and three. So, it's the McGill curl up, which is both hands placed under the small of the back, one leg is up with the foot on the floor as if you were doing sort of a sit up, but the other leg is out straight and you're just going to bring the back of your shoulders up off the ground. This is all explained on millions of blogs and–
Ben: I'll link to it too but keep going for people who are too lazy.
Chris: The side plank is next. Interestingly, Stu McGill was one of the first guys that started using the side plank for training. And, because of an error that the illustrator of the book made, everybody started stacking their feet on top of each other so you understand when people do a side plank. And, you've got your two feet stacked on top. The way that Stu actually does it is he staggers the top foot in front of the back foot. So, pretty much sort of toe to heel, back foot to front foot. And, what you find is that you're able to allot more tension through your midline, which is the goal. The goal of this is to do a midline exercise, not a hip exercise at least for this version of it. And, the other thing, which is really, really nice because you've already got your feet front to back like that, for you to move from one side to the other, you can actually rotate your feet up into a plank because they're already facing the right way.
Chris: And then, you can rotate your feet down from that into the other side plank. So, you can actually sort of go from one. It's just very satisfying to do and also efficient and also that rotation, anti-rotation stuff is good for you. And then, yeah, like you said, the final one is the bird dog. So–
Ben: Yeah, the bird dog. That's it. Yeah, that's the sexier title. And then, I'm assuming you probably interviewed Stu McGill. But, the most interesting thing that I found about him aside from just his wide body and range of work and research and practical immersion into helping people get rid of low back pain is he's one of the few guys who's used these electrical, what are they called, not electrical muscle stimulation but the electrical devices, the electromyographic devices that allow you to analyze electrical activity on a muscle.
Chris: I use that.
Ben: Yeah. So, he can say, okay, beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is what's actually activating the erector spawning or the rectus abdominus, the obliques because he's actually got a lab where he's putting little needles or patches over the muscles and actually analyzing electrical activity. And, he can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, yeah, this is actually triggering the exact musculature that's necessary for you to have a strong back for life. And, yeah, his program and then also some of the work that he does. I still think Bret Contreras and his “Glute Lab” book is the best of the best for glute and hip extensors and keeping hip flexors from getting shortened. I mean, that book's amazing. But, Stu McGill's emphasis on those big three exercises and then some of his stuff on glute strengthening. Yeah. I mean, if you have back pain and you haven't yet tapped into his stuff or the other guy's, Dr. Eric Goodman and his core foundation exercises, those two guys are the guys to follow if you've got back issues for sure.
Chris: They're beasts. So, “Back Mechanic,” which is Stu's book. You can't get it in Kindle, it's only available in paper copy.
One of the important things is I've got two, I've suffered with two bulging discs for a long time. I actually flew out to see Stu in Canada. And, he very kindly gave me a consultation. And, we also went fishing which was fun. One of the important things that he emphasizes especially for people that have lower back pain is spinal hygiene, he calls it. And, what he means by that is if you have recently had a flare-up or an attack with maybe a little disc bulge or whatever, he has complete precision in the way that he prescribes your movement to avoid any discomfort the way that you get into and out of bed, the way you get down and up from the floor, the way you get down and up from the toilet, from your seat, the way that you're supposed to clean your teeth. All of this stuff. He's even got sex positions and back mechanic as well that are back healthy. And, the point is to never aggravate, he calls it picking the scab, you're never supposed to aggravate the back and it desensitizes as quickly as possible.
And, there's a bunch of very interesting things. One of the most interesting, something I'll just give everybody, a lot of us are probably working at standing desks, I'm standing now, I prefer to stand when doing a podcast. What you'll find after a little while of standing is not only that your postures maybe kind of become a little bit perturbed just because you're leaning on one side or you're doing something, another thing is that you'll start gripping the floor quite hard with your feet especially if you're not moving, you're focusing on something else. And, what he does is he advises you to soften your knees with jazz knees so you can imagine that you're standing nice and upright, you're working away at your desk. And then, if you just allow each knee to kink very slightly, and you just alternate, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. And, you just do that and then you can do it even quicker sort of a one, two, three, four, and it allows everything all the way up your back, it sort of shakes a little bit. But also, it just eases off all of the tension that you've had, it stops you from gripping the floor too hard and it stops your back from being super, super turned on just reminds you nice and gentle. And, you'll hear him when he talks on the podcast, he'll say, jazz knees, nice and gentle, Chris. Nice and gentle. It's lovely. Really, really nice.
Ben: Yeah, interesting. Yeah, I've forgotten about that “Back Mechanics” book that they wrote with the power lift. I had actually forgotten about it. He does get things like–
Chris: “The Gift of Injury” is the one they wrote with the powerlifter Brian Carroll.
Ben: That's right.
Chris: “Back Mechanics” the one he did with–
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, I'd forgotten he does talk a little bit about sex positions. And, if people want the cliff notes, basically you just need two ACVs, some coconut oil and a trapeze hung above the bed, and you'll never have to worry about back pain again. I'm pretty sure that's how it went. I could be remembering things incorrectly, but I think I'm close.
Okay. Anyways, so keep going. You got you got your big three exercises that you do and you throw those in every day?
Chris: Yeah, that's correct. So, that's every single morning. I've been very, very religious with that. And, it's really, really helped my sort of core stiffness.
Finish up. Cook. If I'm going to cook for the day or if I know that I'm going out for dinner later on, then I'll just order something for lunch. Then, I'll sit down and I'll start to prep for my guest usually, maybe a little bit of admin first but I'll try and do the biggest and most important task of the day, what's the one thing that if I looked back at the end of today and I got it done I would consider today a success. And, usually, for me, that involves nailing a podcast interview. So, whether that'd be a Jordan Peterson or maybe me guesting on somebody else's show or whatever. So, I usually prep on that morning on top of the stuff I've done previously usually about sort of two to three hours. The way that I like to do my prep is a combination of sort of reading and audio, so I'll tend to listen to the guest, which means that I get a kind of a feel for their cadence and what they like to talk about and some of the stories that they typically go down and maybe some of the ways that they miss it off. I would usually do at least one walk or if I'm training, I'll tend to go in and listen to them while I'm doing some, of course, stiffening work or a low-intensity workout maybe on a Concept2 bike or something like that. Just taking over and I'm listening away taking notes as I'm going through things. And then, I'll tend to record with my guest at usually about 2:00 p.m.
Ben: Yeah. A question for you, a little inside baseball as a podcaster because I'll sometimes do that. My favorite thing to do is read the book that's written by the person who I'll be interviewing, dammit, Chris, you have a book about books that you like but you didn't have a novel that I could read to get to know you. So, I had to listen to some of your stuff and read some of your newsletters. And, usually, I'll read the book, sometimes I'll listen to interviews, the person I'm going to interview being interviewed by somebody else. When you're listening to stuff like that, what's your thought pattern? You're like, “That's a really good question. I should ask a question like that so that my audience can get exposed to a similar response as this other interviewer got out of this person that I'm going to podcast.” Or, is it more like, “Oh, this person asked this question, so I'm not going to ask that one, I want to do a totally kind of fresh podcast not have this be an echo chambered”? So, where does your mind go? Are you like, oh, borrow from the best and make this podcast include a lot of the questions other people have asked this person or I got to come up with some unique shit because this person's been interviewed 12 times, and this is going to be tough because I got to make this one a really unique one?
Chris: Yeah, it's kind of a combination. There's certain things that you just need to ask. If it's a book, David Robson who recently wrote “The Expectation Effect,” I need to ask him what's the expectation effect. We can't begin the conversation without having that and everyone else is going to ask him it. But, you're also right that I can see when I listen to people, I realize, “I wouldn't have gone in that direction, I wish that they'd ask this. This doesn't really seem to make sense. That was an unclosed loop for me. That's a great story. I really want to hear that story, but I want him to go into it deeper,” so you kind of do iterate, I suppose, on top of the episodes that other people do. But broadly, I try to avoid too much crossover with other people's stuff. I think one of the things that makes Modern Wisdom good is that I really do try to get a great synthesis out of people about exactly what it is that they're trying to achieve with this work, or this book, or this whatever, and really essentialize that down so that people can remember it and so it's entertaining. And, a lot of the time, shows get bogged down by listening to a lot of the guests on other shows as well. You hear where they get stuck. There are certain areas that people just love to go into. Chris just won't shut up about his time on “Love Island,” or club promoting, or whatever it is. And, you can kind of almost see some of the hurdles and the obstacles that you're going to come up against. And, you go, okay, when he gets there, I can maybe jump in and really try and expedite this to keep going because I'm not so fussed about hearing about him on “Love Island,” but I really want to hear about his morning routine.
Ben: Exactly. As I'm doing right now, I really don't give a shit about “Love Island.” But, we're definitely focusing on your routine. And, that's the other thing that I find Chris. And, I'm obviously having to do this with you quite obviously. I will be interviewing someone who I thought would be a fantastic guest especially if they've written a really shockingly good book and then I get them on and it's watching paint dry, it's literally trying to have a conversation with your dog. And so, I find myself talking more than the guest talks or filling in the gaps or beginning to add a ton of my own anecdotes because I just can't get anything out of the guest. And then, it's kind of funny because sometimes I'll release an interview like that and my audience would be like, “How come you talk so much, we want to hear more from them.” I'm like, “Look, I tried, they couldn't express themselves.” You ever run into that?
Chris: You're throwing them a lifeline, man.
Chris: I mean, you can absolutely see that. This is the same with every podcast. And, you're right, there is a bit of inside baseball going on here. There's two types of episodes I figured out, maybe three, three types of episodes typically where the host will talk more. One where they're with friends that they're just having banter backward and forward. Another one where they're really excited by whatever it is that's being talked about and they can't stop themselves and they have a compulsion. And, the other one is when they're kind of saving the guest a little bit.
Ben: Exactly. Alright, so out of inside baseball. Now that everybody listening in knows exactly how to be a professional podcaster, we've spilled all the beans, everything you need to know now and trust me, anybody listening in, you're the next Rogan, or Shapiro, or any of those other folks Chris mentioned earlier.
So, what else are some big wins for you? You're talking about the nutrition and how, a lot of times, you'll have your meals prepared for you. You don't do a lot of cooking?
Chris: So, since I've been in Austin, no, the food out here is phenomenal. I would say of all of the different areas of my life that is under-optimized, nutrition would probably be it. I very much enjoyed going out for barbecue. Austin is an incredibly social city. The weather is very nice. So, it means that you're going out on an evening to some taco place, or some Tex-Mex, or some steakhouse, or some whatever, food truck, and there's live music on, and there's margaritas flowing and stuff like that. And, I spent a long time in the UK especially the last two years with the pandemic leaving a hermetically sealed groundhog day where just every single day felt the same. And, I really was looking forward to kind of rolling the dice a little bit and changing that up.
So, yeah, my nutrition is just it takes a back seat here. I eat as best I can. I don't operate well low carb. I've given it a crack a bunch of times and I really don't seem to operate very well, the hunger pangs I struggle with. But, intermittent fasting is something that I do. I've had David Sinclair on the show twice. That would be a good episode actually to link below the second David Sinclair. I think I'll send it over to your team. And, if people are interested, they can go and check that one out. David's great. I went to go and see him actually at his lab in Harvard. And, yeah, you speak to that guy and you're like, “If I'm not intermittent fasting, I don't know, I just feel like an idiot. I've spent all this time with this guy and I'm not doing the one thing that he says that you should do if you want to live longer.” So, yeah, the only thing really that I stick to, that and don't eat like a dick kind of the rules.
Ben: It's interesting the David Sinclair thing because I actually just interviewed a guy named Mike Fave and Jay Feldman, and these guys have a whole what they call a bioenergetic model of health in which they dictate that all these people, intermittent fasting, and doing sauna and cold thermogenesis, and taking plant-based antioxidants, and even exercising and restricting carbs are actually creating excess reactive oxygen species and potentially downregulating thyroid. And, they're really into this guy named Ray Peat who has kind of these different theories of, yeah, give the body ample amounts of sugar, and lots of rest, and treat your body a little bit more ancestral manner like back to our caveman ancestors. They would have thought it was stupid to go and lift a bunch of weights because you got to go hunt down calories afterwards to replace all those calories that you've burnt. And, it's a fast track to a certain death if you're not being energy efficient. And so, they get into all this and also the fact that ancient humans would have just like. If they came across a hive of honey, they wouldn't glance at their watch and see if they'd been fasting for 12 hours, they could get away with having it. They're just like, “Eat, there's energy here.” And so, it's interesting.
I have to admit that although my conversation which I actually just released at the time that you and I are recording this I think three days ago, the conversation was interesting, compelling, and made me want to try out a few of their things just pay attention to my own sleep and energy levels and HRV and whatnot to see how it responds to something like that. But then, if you look at the actual lab data on everything from rodents to yeast, to fruit flies, and humans and beyond, you do find that things like calorie restriction, sauna, cold, some of Sinclair's resveratrol and NAD combo type of stuff seems to turn back the dial on aging pretty significantly and pretty effectively.
Chris: Seems pretty robust.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, I know. so, it's difficult to argue with. And then, yeah, Sinclair, he's an interesting guy.
So, any other big wins for you during the day that you think are just things that you do that you think, “Gosh, I wish more people knew about this or knew how impactful this was for energy or sleep or productivity,” or anything like that?
Chris: Cold Turkey is an app that you can have for MacBook and it restricts access to certain sites and/or apps that you use. And, you can schedule it to come on at certain times. You can also turn it on manually. And, if you ask someone who needs to do focused periods of work especially if your days are quite predictable that you know the time that you need to focus and the time you need to not, you can turn that on. And, it's just a website blocker, but it is an absolute sledgehammer, man. There is no way that you're getting on those websites if you're using Cold Turkey. So, I have it for that morning period that I mentioned at the beginning of the day where I need to be focused and thinking about the guests. Just out of habit, my fingers will go to type command N, T, W, return to go to Twitter and it'll just pop up. And, you can write a message to yourself or you can use different quotes that it'll self-generate. And, mine just says get back to work full stop. And, it just reminds you that that's what you're supposed to be doing, you're supposed to be at work.
There's also a function called Frozen Turkey on Cold Turkey which locks you out of your laptop at a certain time. So, let's say that you're someone who is struggling to switch off and stop working on a night, this is a really good way to create the hardest Parkinson's law stop that you can think of because that at 5:00 p.m. or whatever time, it completely locks your laptop and there is nothing you could do, which is in itself maybe a little bit dangerous if there was an absolute catastrophe and you needed to do, you'd have to borrow your kid's laptop or something like that to go and fix it. But, my point is if you need–
Ben: Go to the library.
Chris: Yeah, you're sprinting out to try and borrow the next-door neighbor's old Dell PC or something. But, yeah, it's a good function. That's Cold Turkey. The function in its Frozen Turkey. Cold Turkey actually has a suite of apps that are kind of for deep work and they have a writing app where you can schedule an amount of time that you need to work so it blocks out everything on your entire computer. You can't do anything without it. It's a full-screen word processor with no formatting or anything, but it does export in a good way and it automatically saves to the cloud. And, you can force yourself to continue writing for either a period of time or until you hit a particular word count. And then, it opens up and allows you to do other things. So, they've really kind of taken the sledgehammer approach to focus deep work and created a bunch of apps that kind of facilitate that.
Ben: Do you ever feel, and I sound kind of hypocritical saying this after endorsing your idea of not having the live phone in the bedroom, that by needing external sources of control such as software to keep ourselves from dicking around on our computer, or not having the type of self-control that we should be displaying naturally that we're just basically telling ourselves that we are weak, that we don't have the constitution, or the self-control to just be able to not be a little bitch and keep the Twitter tab closed, and that we should in an ideal scenario develop the character and the fortitude to not have to use Cold Turkey or something like that, or some porn blocking app, or anything of the like? Because frankly, we have developed that type of stoic self-control and the mental resilience to be able to operate seamlessly in any scenario where temptations and distractions abide and simply be able to just kind of go nose down like a horse with blinders and do the work so to speak. Chop wouldn't carry water without sitting down and having a picnic along the way. Do you ever kind of wonder, geez, why can't I just do this stuff myself without needing this software like Cold Turkey?
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, I feel this tension very strongly. In fact, it's probably one of the most common tensions that I ever feel in inside of myself. How much is the daily structure that I have buttressed by this very elaborate sequence of tools and tactics and techniques? That being said, if you're on a diet, the easiest way to stick to the diet is to do environment design and not have things that would help you break the diet outside of it. If you're a recovering drug addict being around loads of heroin is probably a bad idea. There are ways that you can stack the deck in your favor. Do I think that by using those tools causing yourself to not develop some type of skill that would be beneficial downstream? By using Cold Turkey, am I not developing or cultivating the skill of being able to do self-control with social media and things like that? There is very much an argument to be made. At the moment, where I'm at right now, my feeling would be that on balance, what I get out of using that is better than what I would by not using that. I think that the price that I pay for having to do self-control relying on myself but also dropping into Twitter a few more times, I'm pretty adamant that I win with this.
We also have to remember as well for anybody like me that has tech guilt around their smartphone usage or around how much they get distracted by things, the most sophisticated algorithms on the planet and billions and billions and billions of dollars and teams of engineers that understand human psychology way, way, way deeper than you ever will behind every single button press.
That's it. That's it, man. It's an asymmetric war that you simply cannot win. And, I wonder whether we're going to look back. This is something I think about a lot whether we're going to look back in 50 years or 100 years' time and see it as this crazy barbaric period where we had the technology and the ability to manipulate people's attention and we didn't have the legislation or the wisdom to be able to direct it in the correct way. I wonder what future generations are going to think about this period of time. But, for now, for me, using things, phone outside of the bedroom, intermittent fasting for your phone so you don't use it before a certain time or after a certain time, apps like Cold Turkey, different devices, a separate reading device, my Kindle versus trying to do it on a laptop or other bits and pieces, all of that seems to help.
Ben: Yeah. And, I'm just curious based on that. Did you ever interview Tristan Harris, the guy who directed that “Social Dilemma” film?
Chris: I didn't, but I had [01:04:12] ____ that was the guy that invented the Light Phone. Have you heard of that?
Ben: Is that the totally stripped-down phone?
Ben: Yeah, yeah. That's interesting. Yeah, I'll link to that show in the shownotes because I've actually thought about getting one of those phones before. But, right now, my little iTouch the trick is doing the trick.
Actually, you dropped something there a few minutes ago, you said Parkinson's law, the old theory that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. I have noted because I stalked you for a couple weeks going into the show, Chris, that you seem to have a decent understanding of, I suppose, cognitive biases is what these might be called, these human tendencies that folks like Charlie Munger will talk about. There's another website I follow, I forget the guy who writes it, it's called Sloww, S-L-O-W-W, Shane Parrish from Farnam Street. He covers a lot of these cognitive biases as well. And, I'm curious, is that something that you've intentionally studied, how to read humans and interact with humans based on their cognitive biases? And, kind of a two-part question. If so, do you have recommendations for people in terms of a book, or a resource, or a model, or a podcast, or something like that that's allowed you to better wrap your hand around human rational and irrational making processes?
Chris: Yes. So, when Shane Parrish from fs.blog came to the forefront, probably about 2017, me and all of my friends in the UK were certain that this was going to be the answer to all of our irrational human proclivities that all that we needed to do was memorize the entire glossary of human biases. And, that would fix all of our problems. It turned out that that wasn't true, sadly. And, I'm actually I would say now in a post-biased world with myself, and this is a tension that I've been thinking about an awful lot, the one between cognition and intuition between thinking and feeling. And, I'll unpack that a little bit.
So, yes, it is very useful for you to understand things like availability bias, or the fundamental attribution error, or Parkinson's law, or Goodhart's law, or never multiply by zero, or first principles thinking. All of these things are kind of cool. If you want to learn about them, I highly recommend fs.blog, Shane Parrish's thing unpacks everything. He actually has a list of 119 of the mental models that you need. If you're using Send to Kindle, then you can just scrape basically the entire website and make a full library of this in your Kindle device. That would be where I would start to just get stuck into it.
I actually have a series of four episodes with a guy called George Mack, Mental Models 101 to 104. And, the first one is actually I would say start there, that's probably the best thing that we've done when it comes to that Mental Models 101. It'll be linked in the shownotes below, I'm sure. And, that's a really great introduction about what they are. George gave him a great description. He said, he sees Mental Models as apps that you can plug into human OS. So, you have your operating system and Mental Models are the different sorts of apps that you can plug in that give you different viewpoints and different functionality.
Now, rolling the clock forward and one of the reasons that, let's say, someone hasn't been fully exposed to the world of mental models, maybe you do need to go through the fire of trying to learn them all to then come out the other side. But, one of the things once you have that fundamental understanding, one of the big problems is most of your system is subconscious and most of your responses don't have time to be so effortful and so cognitive. So, what I'm really trying to do now is feel my way through the day, feel my way through a podcast interview, feel my way through should I train today or not, I've got a WHOOP Strap on that will tell me my HRV and my recovery and all of that sort of stuff. But, I'll just try and go by, okay, how do I feel? Do I feel good? Do I feel I slept okay? Or, should I go by the data? And, increasingly that seems to be a really good way for me to further utilize my sort of gut reaction to have faith in my intuition. And, I'm really enjoying playing with that tension now having spent a long time trying to sort of consciously cultivate a version of me, which is very, very cerebral using that horsepower. And now, I'm kind of, yeah, in a post-biased world.
Ben: Do you see yourself doing what you're doing being a podcaster and a guy who puts out a popular newsletter and runs a website that helps people in terms of just general content just indefinitely? Or, do you have a plan? And, just so you know Chris, you don't have to have a plan. People ask me this all the time, I tell them, I just wake up in the morning and kind of do the best job I can with whatever God has put on my plate and then try to surround myself with amazing people who are much better at planning than I am so I can just kind of have a loosey-goosey day where I do what I love to do and try to help people in the process. I don't know where I'm going to be in five years, but I'm curious what your take on that is.
Chris: I'm very bad at planning as well. It's actually quite reassuring to hear this [01:09:42] _____. Yes, I knew that we were blood brothers, the bromance continues. Yeah, I really struggle with that and people say, “Man, what's the 10-year goal or what do you want to be written on your obituary?” and stuff like that. When it comes to values, fundamental values that my life is or that I consider my identity to built around, I'm pretty solid and concrete with those. But, when it comes to plans, especially anything over about a year's time, I really, really struggle with that. And, I always have and I've always kind of felt a bit, I don't know, not weak but deficient somehow because I don't do that and you read books that say some people do and maybe they're really successful or whatever but it simply doesn't work for me. But, at the moment, I adore doing my podcast. I've never had something where I've felt so competent before. I've never had something that I've dedicated myself to this much. I've always wanted something to really dedicate myself to. I always used to get jealous about these kids that you would hear had 700 amateur boxing fights before they turned professional. And, you can see it's a single synthesis of everything in their life, their sleep, their mindset, their habit. And, this actually leads into a concept that I love called, “Think like an athlete.” And, this is something that I took from my friend David Perell who said, “Train like an athlete.”
What I realized was that there are very few pursuits in life that people dedicate themselves to as much as athletes do. So, in athletics or in any sort of sporting pursuit, the…
Ben: Are you counting vegans and cross-fitters by the way? Because if so, you're definitely, definitely correct.
Chris: Very few people treat the pursuit as globally as that. There are sufficient degrees of freedom between the performance that you gave today and your preparation for the performance so that you can always get away with not doing as much preparation as you needed to. So, in sport, let's say you're a powerlifter or something like that, you're thinking about who you spend your time with outside of the gym, your mindset, your recovery, your sleep, your nutrition, your hydration, the game plan that you're going in with the tactics that you're going in with. If it's a team sport like basketball, you're going to be running drills, you could be technic, all that stuff. Everything that you do is built to try and synthesize a life in which you are at the absolute bleeding edge of your performance. And yet, outside of maybe chess and professional classical music, I don't see anybody else that commits themselves in that way to their craft. You go and do a podcast and maybe you went out for a few beers the night before or maybe you didn't get to sleep because you were on your phone, and maybe this morning you didn't do your morning routine and maybe you didn't eat too well and blah, blah, blah. Who can tell? There's no objective metric of success. You didn't pick the bar up or not pick the bar up, you just did a bit better or a bit worse on the podcast. And, I think I've always wanted something where I've really been able to dedicate myself. I have an excuse to commit myself to the productivity that I kind of was recreationally [BLEEP] about within any case. And now, I have something. I genuinely believe that given enough time to show what I do that it can be one of the best shows on the planet and it can really, really add value, can really, really improve people's lives, and be an awesome experience for me as well. And, yeah, I'm very, very driven by the opportunity to see what I can get out of myself.
Again, I had Jordan Peterson on the show in that episode, the most recent one that we did. People should go check that out. If you want to kind of find out what Modern Wisdom is about, the most recent Jordan Peterson episode I did a couple of months ago is the absolutely perfect one to start with. And, he's got a rule, commit yourself to one thing as hard as you can and see what comes of it. And, this is the thing that I'm committing myself to. And, maybe the same as yourself, I'm going to do the thing as well as I can today and then emergently we'll see what happens downstream from that. The one thing I'm missing is I don't have the support team or whatever like the executive function people yet. So, I may need to tap your brain to work out about that.
Ben: It certainly helps. Doing one thing good, the only problem is that you become a pretty shitty renaissance person. But, what I say is go deep on one thing and then just dabble in a whole bunch of other things to scratch the curiosity itch and keep life interesting. But, don't put yourself under the pressure of having to be an expert in everything that you dabble which is difficult for a hard-charging high achiever to say go mess around with jiu-jitsu and allow oneself to get their ass kicked and be pretty crappy at it because you don't really dedicate yourself to it but you just enjoy to go roll once a week, that type of thing.
Chris: What was the last thing that you did that you absolutely sucked at?
Ben: Oh, geez, every day is something I absolutely suck at. Last night, I tried to paint eggs with my family, some special Ukrainian easter egg painting competition. They made me look like a second grader who just had a fifth of tequila in terms of the way my egg looked compared to theirs because I couldn't get the wax on with my big clumsy sausage-like fingers and paint dripping all over the place and just didn't look good. Same thing when my wife took me to line dancing lessons at the country music bar a few weeks ago, I literally think I was stepping on my own cowboy boots multiple times and tripping and stumbling to the point where people probably thought I was a toddler on a fifth with tequila.
Yeah, I suck all the time at a bunch of stuff. But yeah, I agree, you just got to have at least one or two things that you absolutely dedicate yourself to. And, I think that having an amazing team that's around you is really important and also just realizing. Yeah, make plans or at least have somebody on your team who helps you to make plans and plans things out for you. But, there's that old Yiddish adash, it's where a man plans and God laughs or they're [01:15:48] _____ or proverbs where it talks about we make plans in man's heart but the council of the Lord stays. Or, man's heart plans his course but the Lord establishes his steps. I read a lot of scripture, a lot of proverbs. I'm constantly reminding myself every last little plan I make, I might wake up tomorrow morning and find out God has a totally different path for my life. So, I think it's important to make plans but not get too married to them.
Chris: Yes. Strong beliefs held loosely, not loose beliefs held strongly.
Ben: Wait, wait, strong beliefs held loosely, but not loose–
Chris: Not loose beliefs held strongly.
Ben: I like that.
Chris: That's the problem with cultural stuff that most people don't actually understand the opinions that they hold, but they're completely committed to them.
Chris: As opposed to people who do understand the opinions that they hold and are completely open to new evidence and updating the Bayesian system as it goes.
Ben: Is that a cognitive bias? And, if so, does it have a name?
Chris: So, Bayesian updating would be one of them or Bayes' theorem. So, basically you would be looking at as new information comes in not emotionally attached to your world view, you're sort of impassionately dispassionately seeing the things that you hold. But, that strong belief held loosely, not loose beliefs held strongly. I was describing Sam Harris in a video and I was trying to really synthesize what I felt about him and I thought that that was as close as I could get. So, that's where that came from.
Ben: Yeah. I think I agree with that for the most part except for the fact that–and especially for me as a Christian guy, I do have a certain sense of absolute morality. There are certain parts of being religious not just spiritual but religious that dictate that you have a creed, they have a cannon, even our Greenfield family has a playbook that are our non-negotiables, our values set in stone, kind of the Ten Commandments of our family. And then, I think that for societal stability, there are indeed some strong beliefs that need to be held strongly. But, I also think that most people are way too myopic and close-minded and tend to scapegoat the opposite opinion. I guess what I would say is for me it's “Strong beliefs held strongly in love.” Meaning, the way that you defend your beliefs, the way that you enforce your beliefs are always taking into account the golden rule, your fellow human being, and loving people as much as possible not holding your belief like a sledgehammer over somebody's head and forcing them to believe it too.
Chris: I think you're right. There are probably some axiomatic things that we should come into this with. And, if you've got faith on top of that too, then there's even more so. But again, all of these things, a lot of the time on the show we'll make generalizations. On average, most people should look to hold — have stronger beliefs that are held more loosely. That doesn't mean all of them, but it doesn't mean on average probably most of the people and most of the beliefs they could do with just keeping that in mind.
Ben: Awesome, awesome. Well, I think we should end on those words of wisdom so that you can go refill your Diet Dr Pepper, and your electrolytes, and your water, and well 18 other beverages you're sucking down there. And, anyways, I am going to link. For everybody listening, I'm going to link to Chris's podcast. I'm going to link to some of the specific podcasts that he's pointed out on this interview as well as some of the products that we talked about like the Cold Turkey app or maybe even Chris's TV show, the “Love Island” for any of you who want, I don't know.
Chris: That is not a productivity tool in the slightest. It is not. It's an aneurysm waiting to happen.
Ben: Alright, we'll leave “Love Island” off. Chris, thanks for coming on the show, man.
Chris: My pleasure. Thanks, mate.
Ben: Alright, folks. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Chris Williamson signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com/ModernWisdom. Have an amazing week.
Hey, in a few events that you can join me at RUNGA coming up May 12th through the 14th in Austin, Texas. Check it out, RUNGA. All these you can find at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar. Intimate VIP type of event. Me and 50 other people that you can join in Austin, Texas, May 12th through the 14th.
Also in Austin, Texas May 10th, I'll be opening at a comedy show for my friend, Garrett Gunderson, over at the Creek and the Cave in Austin, Texas. That's Tuesday, May 10th at 7:00 p.m. if you want to come and see some standup comedy. I'll also put that over at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar. As well as the Health Optimization Summit coming up in May 28th through the 29th in London, and even sooner than that, PaleoFX, April 29th through May 1st in Austin. So, links and details on any of those are all going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar. If you want to check them out.
More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.
5 May 2022
Chris Williamson is a podcast host and entrepreneur from the UK.
On Chris's podcast, Modern Wisdom, which has had over 25 million downloads, he interviews a multitude of fascinating guests like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ben Patrick (Knees Over Toes Guy), and David Sinclair, to name a few. On our podcast together, we talked about everything from health to psychology to biohacking, how we approach podcast hosting, nutrition, our daily routines and rituals, and more.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Which is healthier: a car battery or Diet Dr. Pepper?…03:57
- Topo Chico seltzer
- Omica Organics stevia
- Pellegrino sparkling water
- Podcast with Paddy Spence:
-How Chris got introduced to the world of podcasting…09:18
- Modern Wisdom podcast
- Joe Rogan and Ben Greenfield were early influences
- DJ, model are other interests
- Lives in Austin, TX currently
-Chris's morning routine…15:32
- Wake up 7-7:30 am
- Elements plant-based drink
- 15-minute walk in the sunshine
- Quinton minerals
- 6-Minute Diary (code 15minutes to get a 15% discount)
- Brian Mackenzie's State app for breath work (also available at the app store)
- Insight Timer app
- Shinzen Young's Five Ways to Know Yourself meditation guide; “Possumus” style meditation focusing on sensations in the mind
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- Soaking Worship on Spotify
- Othership app
-Routines and rituals throughout the day…34:25
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Habit stacking
- Sunrise alarm clock
- Social media phone (different from main mobile phone)
- Kindle Oasis
- Send to Kindle chrome extension
- Podcast with Charles Eisenstein:
- Stu McGill's Big 3
- Podcast with Stu McGill:
- Glute Lab by Brett Contreras
- Dr. Eric Goodman's Foundation Training exercises
- Back Mechanic by Stu McGill
- The Gift of Injury by Stu McGill
- Dr. Stu McGill on Chris' Modern Wisdom podcast
-Ben and Chris's process for prepping for podcast interviews…49:41
- The Expectation Effect by David Robson
- Newsflash: Ben really does try to keep the spotlight off of him
-Chris's nutrition practices…53:55
- Dr. David Sinclair on the Modern Wisdom podcast
- Podcast with Mike Fave and Jay Feldman:
-The dichotomy between the use of tech and practicing self-control…57:37
- Cold Turkey website blocker; also has a laptop lock-up with Frozen Turkey
- The Social Dilemma film
- Light Phone
- Parkinson's law
-Reading humans based on cognitive biases…1:04:43
- Shane Parrish of Farnam Street
- Shane Parrish on the Modern Wisdom podcast
- Modern Wisdom podcast series on George Mack:
- Mental Models on Farnam Street
-Building a solid foundation for one's life…1:08:54
- Plans over a year are a struggle
- Modern Wisdom is what Chris is most competent in
- Think like an athlete
- Jordan Peterson on the Modern Wisdom podcast
- Commit to one thing, and see what happens
- “Strong beliefs held loosely, not loose beliefs held strongly.”
-And much more…
- RUNGA – The Gathering (May 12-14, 2022). Register for the event now by clicking here
- The American (D)ream on May 10, with Garrett Gunderson.
- Health Optimization Summit! Use code BEN for 20% off (May 22-29, 2022).
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldlife.com/calendar
Resources from this episode:
– Chris Williamson:
- Modern Wisdom Podcast
- Modern Wisdom Podcast On YouTube
- Shane Parrish on the Modern Wisdom Podcast
- Dr. Stu McGill on the Modern Wisdom Podcast
- Modern Wisdom Podcast Series On George Mack:
- Jordan Peterson on the Modern Wisdom Podcast
- A “Healthy Soda” Super-Special: Is Diet Soda Good For You, Stevia DeMystified, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Flavors & More.
- The Most Important Book About Money I’ve Ever Read – Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition With Charles Eisenstein.
- How To Get Extreme “Okinawan” Strength, 3 Ways To Fix Low Back Pain & The Best Core Exercises With Stu McGill
- How Much Exercise Is Too Much, Why Calorie Restriction May Be A Bad Thing, The Downsides of Hormesis & Other Shocking Health Myths Debunked With Jay Feldman and Mike Fave.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Glute Lab by Brett Contreras
- Back Mechanic by Stu McGill
- The Gift of Injury by Stu McGill
- The Expectation Effect by David Robson
– Other Resources:
- Topo Chico
- Omica Organics Stevia
- Pellegrino Sparkling Water
- Elements Plant-Based Drink
- Quinton Minerals
- 6-Minute Diary
- State App
- Insight Timer
- Sunrise Alarm Clock
- Kindle Oasis
- Send to Kindle
- Cold Turkey
- The Social Dilemma
- Light Phone
- Shinzen Young's Five Ways To Know Yourself
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- Soaking Worship on Spotify
- Othership App
- Stu McGill's Big 3
- Dr. Eric Goodman's Foundation Training
- Parkinson's Law
- Shane Parrish of Farnam Street
- The Joe Rogan Experience
–JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. For a limited time, Joovv wants to hook you up with an exclusive discount on your first order. Just apply code BEN to your qualifying order. (00:57)
–Water and Wellness: The best solution for clean and safe drinking water. Water and Wellness also offers an amazing line of essential water additives such as Quinton Marine plasma which contains over 78 trace minerals and elements from the ocean to help restore your biological terrain. Get 15% off your order when you use discount code GREENFIELD. (32:27)
–Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. (33:25)