[00:02:12] Podcast Sponsors
[00:06:58] Part 1 – Ben and Chris Kelly
[00:09:15] How Ben had a hand in founding Nourish Balance Thrive
[00:11:10] Ben Talking About “Loneliness” in the AHS
[00:18:48] Ben's Thoughts On The Introverted Personality
[00:25:41] How Ben has used his introverted nature to his advantage in his personal and professional life
[00:40:06] The thing we often get wrong when we think of building community
[00:46:30] Tools And Resources To Help Build Community
[00:55:04] How Ben's interaction with the church has influenced his person and message
[01:08:26] Recreating some of the community-building traditions that have been lost through the centuries
[01:17:55] One Thing You Can Do To Reduce Loneliness Today
[01:21:12] Closing of Part 1
[01:23:27] Part 2 – Ben's Presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium: Apps and Technology That can Enhance Community
[01:27:36] Be Active In The Community
[01:29:00] Be Active In Your Local Church
[01:29:57] Engage In Family Relationships
[01:31:13] Reclaim Real Conversation
[01:32:13] Have A Mission Or Purpose Statement
[01:35:57] Shared Experiences
[01:37:34] Embrace The Sacredness Of Commerce
[01:39:02] Final Words
[01:42:07] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
Chris: There's a lot of stuff that we miss out on, a lot of stuff that I think is built into us from a real ancestral standpoint. You're missing a workout, not getting to catch up on that reading that you wanted to do. It always feels right when you make that decision. So, it's actually a lot easier, I have found, to be an asshole when you're wearing a mask. So, you have to do some forward-thinking when it comes to what makes me happy versus what makes other people happy or what makes God happy.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
So, the podcast that you're about to hear was recorded at a place called the Ancestral Health Symposium. Not a place, I suppose, an event called the Ancestral Health Symposium. You can learn more about it. AncestryFoundation.org, I think, is the URL for the Ancestry Foundation. But, anyways, a lot of really fantastic speakers and attendees there. I wound up going on a walk with a few of those folks, including today's podcast guest, Chris Kelly, who has a show of his own, called, Nourish Balance Thrive. We had a beautiful walk on the UCLA campus, in the sunshine, talking about loneliness. That's an insider joke for any of you who have seen Team America superstars, I think it is. I don't know. It's the dictator there, talks like that, Ronery. He has a song called “Ronery.” But, this song is about loneliness. Now, I can't say it. Loneliness. It's about loneliness. I hope you'll really enjoy it.
All the shownotes are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ChrisAndBen. And then, the other thing that you should know is that I included, as part of today's podcast, the entire talk that I gave there on, you guessed it, loneliness at the Ancestral Health Symposium, so that this podcast is a real good one-two combo for you. Enjoy.
I'm picking brownie out my teeth. My wife made some keto brownies, whatever that means. I think she used monk fruit or stevia. And, I put it on some ice cream. And, I actually had ice cream and brownies before dinner, and then came into my office to record these commercials for you. So, I'm a pretty happy man. How can you not be happy with ice cream and brownies in your belly?
How can you also not be happy when you are protecting your eyes, because my pick for about blue-light-blocking glasses is a sponsor of today's show. And, they're giving you a big old discount on their incredibly fashionable, fashionable optics made with German-engineered steel and Italian acetate, with lenses that, unlike most of the other blue light-blocking glasses out there, not to throw any of them under the bus, actually block the damaging spectrum of blue light that they're supposed to. These aren't cheap imports that are then getting marked up. No, no, no. These are lenses that are designed. They're daytime lenses to prevent eye strain, headaches, fatigue, damages to your eyesight from backlit LED screens and modern fluorescent lighting. And then, their nighttime lenses, they're the bee's knees for sleep. I just got back from LA, traveling. I don't have all my red lights set up, and I don't replace all the red lights or the regular lights in my hotel room with red lights. I just slap these glasses on. And, I'm good to go.
They're made by Ra Optics. And, Ra Optics is going to give all of my listeners a big old discount, 10%, if you go to RaOptics.com/Ben, R-A-Optics.com/Ben. Remember, not all of those blue-light-blocking glasses work the same way. These ones work amazingly.
This podcast is also brought to you by Organifi Glow. You just can't talk about it without pronouncing it like that. This is plant-based bamboo silica to help support collagen production that's in this powder. And, it's this refreshing raspberry lemon-flavored beverage that goes great in icy cold water with coconut milk or into a smoothie, you name it. But, they've got a bunch of stuff in here. And, beyond the plant-based bamboo silica, like tremella mushroom, it's got five times the moisturizing effects of hyaluronic acid to help to hydrate your skin very effectively, to produce collagen, to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, to protect your skin from sun exposure and other toxins. It's a cool idea. You can consume it any time of day, too. It's a powder for beauty, for glow, as they say.
You get 20% off this stuff. You go to Organifi. That's Organifi with an “i.” Organifi.com/Ben, and that will get you a 20% discount.
Alright. Hey, if you want six burgers, eight hot dogs, and up to 3 pounds of chicken breast for free, that's what's coming at you perfectly timed in time for summer. You can probably hear my dogs in the background right now as I'm telling you this going nuts because they like meat, too. 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef, free-range organic chicken, humanely raised pork, and wild-caught seafood delivered directly to your door. Who knows? Maybe, that was my delivery right now arriving to my front doorstep. That means for less than six bucks a meal, I can get amazing meat that I'd pay 50, 60 bucks for at a steakhouse to get the equivalent meal that I can make in my own house. Free shipping, great-tasting meat you can feel good about delivered right to your doorstep.
ButcherBox cares about animals. They care about the planet. They care about their farmers. And, they give it all to you straight to your doorstep. Cut out the middle man. You get a fantastic deal on this stuff. And, did I mention six burgers, eight hot dogs, and up to 3 pounds of chicken, which sounds like a summer party to me, for free when you sign up at ButcherBox.com/Ben. That's ButcherBox.com/Ben.
This podcast is also brought to you by a special design of mine called the Kion Serum. Kion Serum is this fantastic skin-nourishing, skin-soothing, anti-aging formula I came up with a couple of years ago. Actually, me and my aunt developed this together. And, it is chock-full of all these organic oils, like turmeric oil and jojoba and aloe. I use it in my hair. I use it in my skin. It smells amazing. It flies on the radar that I designed this stuff and that we have it available, but it baffles me that so many people still slather toxin endocrine-disrupting, chemical-laden lotions and sunscreens and serums all over their largest, very important, very precious organ called your skin, when there are other options out there that are far healthier. You just need to defy the status quo and get out there and grab it.
And, I'm making it easy for you, 20% off of my beautiful Kion anti-aging serum. You go to GetKion.com/BenGreenfield. That's Get-K-I-O-N.com/BenGreenfield. And, that will get you that serum. It'll get you 20% off of anything else from the website, too. But, you got to try the serum, so check it out.
Chris, do you feel like a frat boy walking around campus?
Chris: No. No, I think it would take more than that to make me feel like a frat boy at this point. I've never seen a university like it. I can't imagine how much money has gone into this. This is not what it was like in the year…
Ben: Oh, my goodness.
Chris: …1999 when I was at school, stuff like that.
Ben: No, there's definitely a lot of money at least going into the athletics because that's the section of this UCLA campus that we're on last night. And, for those of you listening in, Chris and I are walking right now through UCLA campus. We're at the Ancestral Health Symposium down here. And, it's just too beautiful a day for us to be locked away in a hotel room recording. And so, we figured that we'd get some vitamin D and go for a walk and have a chat.
Last night, during our welcome dinner for the conference, there was the football practice. I think it was the football practice for UCLA happening outside of our dinner. And, I went over there to take a look at it. And, they even had security guards over there, keeping people from watching the practice because– And, I asked the security guard about this. And, he said they wanted to keep their plays and stuff a secret and they didn't want scouts from other teams coming in and watching them scrimmaging and practicing, almost like the, I don't know, Russian spies coming in and collecting top secret information about, I don't know, tackle height or whatever it is they don't want people to see. Anyways, I just revealed my complete lack of working knowledge of football security.
Chris: Did you say sorry?
Ben: Yeah. But, anyways. So, on to other things, I guess, for my audience, because I think we might release this on both of our shows.
Chris Kelly is a guy who's been on my podcast before. And, he has a company called Nourish Balance Thrive that does everything, from blood works to system-based analysis or almost artificial-based analysis of your biomarkers. He interviews really great researchers and scientists and physiologists about all manner of things related to body and brain optimization. So, that's that too. Chris, was it NourishBalanceThrive.com, something like that?
Chris: Nourish Balance Thrive. And, I should thank you for starting that business. You were the one who, in 2014, gave us the leg up. I'd recently quit my job at hedge funds to start a health coaching business. Can't say that my wife was particularly fond of that decision. At the time, my daughter was six months old. She's here at the Ancestral Household Symposium now. She's seven. It was super scary. And, you had me on with our co-founder, Jamie, who's a medical doctor. And, that was what started Nourish Balance Thrive. I still get people come to me today and say, “I heard you on the Ben Greenfield Podcast.” I'm like, “That is completely amazing.”
Ben: I'll say this over the sound of the leaf blower. We'll always be sure to tell you guys if you can anticipate sound pollution in the background. But, anyways, I was just going to say, Chris, thanks for my royalty checks. You [BLEEP], please.
Chris: [00:10:12]_____ I'm getting richer [00:10:13]_____.
Ben: Geez. Now that you've told me, I want your firstborn son.
Chris: I should say that we've really just been hanging in over here since then.
Chris: Everyone has to see that. And, you can share it, too. It's an important message.
Ben: Yeah, she was sharing how they've had trouble getting it on Netflix due to its controversial content. But, anyway. So, just a quick thing about this Ancestral Health Symposium. I believe, if you were to Google it, I think it's AncestryFoundation.org or something like that. All the audios and the videos are available to watch. And, apparently, mine will just be audio because I was roaming around while I gave my talk, and they were trying to keep me in front of the video cameras. But, anyways, though, so if you all want to check out the symposium, you can go there.
So, what do you want to talk about today, Chris?
Chris: Well, I want to talk about your talk. I thought it was timely. I thought it was heartfelt. I thought it was really important. I don't hear that many other people talking about loneliness. Perhaps, we should start by you telling us why did you choose that topic. I think I saw on the schedule that you were going to talk about something else than, maybe, [00:11:27]_____. Is that right?
Ben: Yeah, I was supposed to talk about hyperthermia and cold thermogenesis which is my super– making me sound smart way of saying hot and cold. These days, especially because I'm speaking less and less, just mostly due to COVID restrictions and me wanting more family time, so picking and choosing my talks quite carefully, I was a bit remiss to give a talk that someone can download for free on my website or talk about content that, really, I've put out on podcasts before. And, for me, personally, I've been on a little bit of a journey of creating community locally of sharing experiences that I'm having, whether it's food or workouts or travel or anything else, with other people, despite me liking being by myself and being a little bit introverted and having a past of almost priding myself on being a loner.
I've realized, especially during the pandemic, the power and almost the ease of being able to build a community, the things that you can do to do that. The growing epidemic of loneliness, the biological implications of that, and how we can take steps to make sure that we're not socially isolating ourselves or lonely to the extent we're actually producing a lot of the, almost like the built-in ancestral sympathetic fight-and-flight response to not being protected by your village, not being a member of a tribe, being a bit of an outcast, our body ancestral times, in days of old, would have mounted some kind of a protective nervous system reaction against that situation because it would mean death or increased susceptibility to predation or lack of the ability to be able to find a mate or propagate future generations. There's all sorts of reasons why, biologically, our bodies rebel against being by themselves, especially in a physical way. We can talk about the digital versus the analog scenario.
But, I've realized the growing importance of this. So, I contacted AHS and I was like, “Look, I don't want to talk about hot and cold. That's not something I'm super passionate about. Well, it's something I'm passionate about, but it's not something that I felt was really needed.” And so, I gave that talk yesterday about loneliness and social isolation, instead.
Chris: I think it's very important. I've read John T. Cacioppo has a fantastic book, “Loneliness.” It's like Robert Sapolsky wrote a book about stress, that all the bad things are going to happen to you when you're stressed out.
Ben: Was that “The Zebras Don't Get Ulcers” book?
Chris: Exactly. And then, John T. Cacioppo wrote the same book on loneliness. And, there's some really interesting stuff in there, like the way that our immune systems change when we're isolated. Because, when you think about it, when you're together with your tribe, when you're completely dependent on them and them on you, but you're more likely to contract communicable disease. And so, you need one type of immunity. And then, if you're on your own, you need a different type of immunity, [00:14:32]_____ community more. Maybe, more likely to step on something sharp, it's different. But, it turns out over the long term, it's better to divert your resources to the communicable disease type immunity that's better for your overall long-term health.
Ben: Well, a part of this, too, is when it comes to something that's been a hot topic of late, which would be herd immunity, it's almost this idea that the development of herd immunity, when you look at the human race as a whole, or if you were to view the word “I” as being something more like a “we” if you're talking about more of a universal treatment of who you are and considering yourself to be just part of this massive human network, then, theoretically, when it comes to survival of our species, it would make the most sense to, basically, focus upon activities that would build the immunity of the entire species rather than the individualized immunity of one person.
Chris: And, what were you thinking, are you thinking, so, everybody's been under forced isolation to a certain extent over the past 18 months or so, that's about to change, were you thinking, well, people might have developed some bad habits and they need to do something proactively to try and change their behavior to become more in accordance with ancestral heritage, shall we say, that ancestral condition that we know is so important for maintaining health?
Ben: I'd like to say that I had a really well-thought-out intention when it comes to what I wanted to see people do with the talk. But, I would say a couple of things that come to mind is, A, when you go to a conference, I think it's nice to have a reminder about how important those interactions are in between talks, the dinner conversations or lunchtime conversations, the workouts or activities in the morning or spread throughout the day. And, for me, being able to talk on the first day and give people that reminder would, thus, create, perhaps, a little bit less of a scenario of people sitting inside of a lecture hall all day and then going back to their computers at night to catch up on all their email.
And, I personally need that reminder all the time because my idea of a good time when I'm traveling is to, typically, duck out from any social activities by about 8:30 or 9:00 and curl up in my bed with what I call a beach book, which is usually some work of fiction that allows me to completely check out. I'm reading Andy Weir's book, “Zero Gravity,” right now. He's the guy who wrote “The Martian.” And, his books are just fantastic. They're humorous. They're intellectual. They're very mathematical and scientific and a very, very well-researched and believable. And, I'll take a book like that and just disappear, like in my talk yesterday, like I did when I was a kid. Except, when I was a kid, it would be all day long. And, now, it's just at the end of the day after I've done some socializing.
But, that reminder to myself, that social interaction, is so important, so crucial. And, it's not just about me. It's about other people being able to be loved because it appears that a lot of the physiological benefits of being with others, specifically, loving others, comes not from being loved but from giving love. It's more of that altruistic empathetic emotion that appears to elicit a lot of the effects on the immune system, the decrease in inflammation and the lowered blood pressure, and all these things that being with other people give us. It appears that one of the more important components of that is actually giving to and loving others. And so, when I give a talk like that, it's about encouraging people who are at the conference to be more social and to give and love more. It's a reminder to myself to do so.
And, it's basically this mentality I've been increasingly having that, if I'm going to be in front of people talking, I want to make it as meaningful and as relevant as possible. And, rather than just squander the stage, so to speak, with just some type of echo chamber type of talk that's discussing, again, things people could download for free on my podcast, for example.
Chris: Talk about this introversion thing. It's funny. This has come up in the two podcasts I've recorded most recently, people who identify as introverts. Where do you think this comes from? I think it's a modern phenomenon. I think that Joe Henrich wrote about this in his book, “The WEIRDest people in the world,” when they try and find the big five personality types in indigenous people in hunter-gatherers, they don't find them. They just find two. They find industriousness and sociability. You're either building your dugout canoe or you're socializing. There's no introversion. There's no programmers. There's no accountants. It doesn't make any sense to be an introvert if you're a hunter-gatherer.
And then, I was talking to Lucy Mailing, and she pointed out this could also be, she thinks, for her, it's like a product of her childhood. That was something that she developed there. And now, that shapes her into the adult that she is today. But, the point is it's plastic. And, I wonder whether you identify with any of that. Do you think your introversion is the product of your upbringing?
Ben: There's a definite combination of nature versus nurture when it comes to extroversion versus introversion, if that's what we want to label them as. I was homeschooled K through 12, and, as a result, was almost forced, so to speak, into a great deal of comfort being by myself and being able to entertain myself, being able to independently learn and be motivated to learn in the absence of other people, even teachers, forming my own solutions to problems, being comfortable being inside my own head. Yet, at the same time, I have two brothers and two sisters. And, I am probably the quietest of all of them. I'm probably the one amongst all of them who is most happy or satisfied being by myself for long periods of time. And, I think that part of that actually is the way I'm wired up, so to speak.
I think that, when you read a book like “The Power Of Introverts” by Susan Cain, you can really become aware of the fact that introversion is something that does not necessarily mean being a private [BLEEP] or moving out into the forest and living like a Unabomber in a cabin with a [00:21:14]_____.
Chris: [00:21:16]_____ every knowledge worker is introvert.
Ben: Even though I'm working on my [00:21:18]_____, you can steer that introversion towards a great deal of social good. A couple of examples of that would be that introverts tend to be very good speakers and actors, because extroverts, when they get up on stage or when they get in front of a camera, they tend to be themselves. And, sometimes, being yourself is accompanied by all the pressure of, what if people don't like who myself is, or what if I'm not performing well today? I really only have one voice, one character, to depend upon. And, that's who I am. And, many extroverts, actually, get nervous in front of the camera or get stage fright. Whereas, introverts, because they almost developed a greater tendency to be able to create the character that they want to be on stage or in front of a camera to almost hide their shy, vulnerable self, tend to actually perform a little bit better in those type of social situations, or I guess, I should say, more public-facing situations.
So, for example, when I get on stage to speak, I often am imagining or visualizing, or picturing who it is that I want to present that I am, not in a fake inauthentic way. But, if I'm going to give a talk that's highly motivational, maybe, I'm visualizing a Tony Robbins or, I don't know, a Joel Osteen, or someone who's just like they're moving people with highly motivational words, or if I'm in front of a camera and we're filming a cooking video, all of a sudden, I think, think of these folks like Emeril and Gordon Ramsay and these celebrity chefs that you see on TV. And, how can I channel them? Because, an introvert is almost better able to be whoever they want to be in front of a camera or on stage, rather than just be painted into the corner of being one person, that they would be if they're extroverted.
Chris: I see.
Ben: And then, furthermore, introverts are very chameleon-like. And, I find this a lot. For example, when I travel, I will often, very quickly, take on the mannerisms and the characteristics and even the language inflections of the region that I'm in. Meaning, if I'm in Japan, I will often start to talk like this and enunciate my words. Or, if I'm in Italy, I'll start to talk like this. But, nearly comical in terms of the rapidity with which I take on the mannerisms of those who are around me. So, when you combine the ability to be able to be who you want to be on stage, the ability to be able to absorb and take on mannerisms and characteristics of other people, you can actually be a really dynamic, what you might call, a social butterfly or a speaker or an actor or a TV personality or a YouTube personality or whatever, based on that. Although, deep down inside, you're also really, really happy just curled up with a book in bed with all the TV cameras off and no stage.
So, I think that the introversion is something that I'm a little bit more hardwired to be attracted to. I think that, in reading and learning more about myself and about introversion, in general, I've discovered that introversion is not being by yourself, lonely cut off from other people. It's simply a character trait that really allows you to, perhaps, know yourself better or be a better student or something like that. But, it doesn't mean you're just a super quiet shy person or a socially awkward person.
Chris: That makes sense. So, you've convinced me that I don't want to be lonely. Perhaps, that's as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Obviously, not something that [00:25:21]_____.
Ben: Actually, that's one of the studies I brought up. And, I may even, actually, push that talk out at the end of yours in my discussion as a part of this podcast, folks who are listening to, so you can you can hear the whole talk. But, yeah, they've done studies that show that it's on par with smoking in terms of the chronic disease risks or manifestations.
Chris: So, I see this as very low-hanging fruit. But, what's the prescriptive? You can't just tell people, just go and make some friends. This is hard, but it seemed like you've come up with some very specific steps that have been helpful to you as an introvert. That's a big deal. So, can you talk about some of those steps, those things you've done?
Ben: Yeah, and it's important to draw a distinction here because loneliness doesn't mean that you're by yourself all the time with no friends, especially because now that we live in a social era where we've shown these same type of chronic disease manifestations related to loneliness and social isolation occur in people who are hyper-connected, the so-called iGen generation, born 1995 to 2012, or whatever the generation is that comes afterwards, it's not as though those people do not have social outlets, in many cases, predominantly digital social outlets. But, what loneliness is, is it's basically a disconnect between your perception of how many people friends interactions you should have in your life and the actual number of people friends interactions that you're actually experiencing. Whereas, social isolation is, really, just not having any social outlets whatsoever.
Chris: That's important distinction. I often hear people conflate those two terms. They use the terms “loneliness” and “social isolation” interchangeably. But, one is much more serious than the other, perhaps.
Ben: Yeah. So, you can be– It's difficult to be socially isolated and not be lonely unless your perception of what friendship and social interaction is is a bar that's set pretty low.
Chris: I see.
Ben: Nothing wrong with that. But, what I'm saying is, technically, you could be really happy living out in the middle of nowhere with two neighbors who you see every other day and maybe have dinner with, which compared to someone living in, I don't know, Los Angeles or Austin, New York City would be a far fewer number of people with whom you interact with on a daily basis. But, if you are comfortable with that amount of social interaction and you feel as though that's the type or the amount or the volume of social interaction that you need, it appears that the biological manifestations of loneliness really don't materialize.
Whereas, if you are lonely and you are in a scenario where you are living in a really urban area with tons of digital friends and what might appear at first glance to be robust social interactivity, then, sometimes, that loneliness is not just produced by your external situation but by your internal thought patterns about how many friends you have versus how many friends you think you should have, or how much social interaction that you're having versus how much social interaction you think you should be having. So, there's a little bit of a subtle nuance there and, also, a need for people to understand that solving loneliness is not about being at parties all the time or being with people all the time and can often simply mean having a very few close friends and family members who you know that you can depend upon and who also, related back to the empathetic nature of this, can depend upon you and be loved by you.
And so, there's a little bit of a distinction between the two. But, I probably, six or seven years ago, really, identified in myself the absence of meaningful social interaction and friendship that extended beyond my family. My family and I are really close, super close. We're together all the time. I have a home office. We have big long family dinners. Every night, we —
Chris: So, this is your immediate nuclear family.
Ben: Literally, my wife and my sons. I had very few male friends, especially male friends, with whom I could be vulnerable, which is one really, really important part of male friendship because we, especially men, tend to put up more of a protective barrier to hide our weaknesses or to make us appear to be a little bit more alpha. And, it's very easy for guys to just have guys that you might golf with or weight-lift with and you slap each other on the back and see who's stronger, who can drive the ball farther. But, there's no actual discussion about guys.
Chris: Mountain bikers just talk about stuff. They talk about forks and derailleurs and all these stuff, seat droppers. It's all about stuff all the time. You go for a three-hour ride and just talk about stuff the whole time.
Ben: That idea of shared experiences, there's nothing wrong with it. And, as a matter of fact, men more than women, seem to do a better job forming friendships via shared experiences, such as golf or frisbee golf or working out together or fishing together or adventuring or, maybe, going off and doing a triathlon or a Spartan race or something together, situations in which there actually isn't a great deal of talking back-and-forth, but it's more you're just sharing this experience together.
Male friendship seems to be really well-formed by those type of experiences. Whereas, a lot of women, and I'm painting with a little bit of a broad brusher, can just walk into a cocktail party and have four insty friends just by being a social butterfly. Whereas, the guys, maybe, have to go play foosball together or play a game of billiards or something together to form those same type of bonds.
Chris: It's activity-based.
Ben: But, yet, even in those scenarios, the glaring lack of vulnerability and deep meaningful emotion, emotional interaction, is something that, I think, exists to a significant extent, especially in male friendships. And so, I identified that I don't really have a lot of male friends who I can literally say, “Guys, I had a really bad fight with my wife last night. What do you guys think I should do?” Or, “Guys, I'm really struggling. The past three days, I've woken up and I don't even want to get out of bed. I don't know what to do. I feel like I might be having some depression onset or something like that.”
And, to be able to have– And, I realize I'm talking to the guys right now. Some of the ladies aren't getting bored. But, for guys to be able to have those type of vulnerable relationships appears to be something that's really necessary for men these days, especially when it comes to the loneliness aspect of things. Again, you can have friends and still be lonely, especially if those friends aren't people that you can be really vulnerable and open and transparent with and share your emotions and your vulnerabilities with.
I read a book by Keith Ferrazzi called “Never Eat Alone.” And, it was just about this idea of gathering around food initially and breaking bread with others, and when you're at a conference, just going to a table and getting to know other people, asking about them, making it all about them, what you can do for them, how you can love them to a certain extent, just pouring yourself out for others in a very non-transactional way, not in a way that is driven by what can I get from this person or what kind of joint venture are we going to launch together, or how can this person be an affiliate or help promote my business, or how can we somehow make more money for each other? But, instead, just, how can I help this person out as a fellow human being in whatever way that they might need?
So, that was the entry-level gateway drug for me was just, when I was at conferences, just trying to be a little bit more dynamic in terms of the conversations I'd start and really doing it over food, because food, it's so interesting. It seems to relax people. It brings people together. It gives you something to talk about together, even if you have no other similarities or similar interests. And so, that's where I started.
And then, I wound up speaking a few times at an event called Mastermind Talks that you and I have both been at. And, that's put on by Jason Gaignard. And, it's all based around having dinners together, typically, six to eight people. The phones are completely out of sight. There's little table topics that you talk about. And, he curates these dinners. I went to those a couple of times again and saw how powerful it was for entrepreneurs of a huge variety of backgrounds to come together to break bread and to make friends. When I say break bread, of course, I'm speaking in–
Chris: Fermented sourdough gluten-free.
Ben: Yeah. Don't worry, people who are paleo can have friends, too. You just have to break beef jerky sticks.
Chris: [00:34:20]_____ cafe.
Ben: So, food was a big part of it, and understanding the importance of these group dinners and getting people together to eat. A few of the things that I found to be really key, probably, one of the biggest, just to stay on this whole meal idea, is our family throws dinner parties constantly, one to two times a week. I have a whole list of all the people in the local community, all the friends who I've been at dinner parties together before, what the people do. It'll just be Dr. Sarah, OB-GYN, or Caleb, NFT and cryptocurrency expert, whatever. And so, I'll have a little bit of a way to jog my memory about who those people are, their contact information, what they do, how many kids they have, so I can anticipate how many extra salmon burgers I'm going to need to make, or whatever.
And then, it's like making a recipe. I'll just choose and select people. And, I try and choose some people who are well to do, some people who might not be as wealthy, some people who are very intellectual, other people who you might consider to be more blue-collar. I'll just basically put a whole bunch of people in a room together, typically, because most people have kids, I'll invite three to five families, and we have them over. In the winter, it's usually sauna, ice bath. All the guys will go and burn incense in the sun and get a sweat on while the ladies are drinking cocktail up in the kitchen. And, that's not because ladies don't benefit from hyperthermia and cold thermogenesis. It's mostly because I'm more into sauna and ice with the dudes than my wife is.
Chris: Don't you switch. I've done this for reals in Finland. And, that was how they did it there was it was that same-gender segregation, one goes first. And then, you switch. That's how it works.
Ben: Yeah, we could do that. But, we'd probably be eating 10:00 p.m. if we did that. I'll usually spend the whole day prepping meat, smoking meat. I'm super into cooking right now. It's almost like, by the time everybody in the dinner party arrives, I've done my labor, and all I need to do when we get out of the cold pool, it's a final sear or whatever.
Chris: Sounds like a lot of work.
Ben: But, it's not a lot of work because I have a home office. So, it's like put the meat on the smoker, go down, record a podcast, come back up, check on it, maybe, spritz it with some apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, and go back down. And then, by the time everybody's getting around, half an hour before everybody shows up, I help my wife get out all the plates, wine bottles, and glasses. And then, sometimes, she's finishing up her stuff while she's chatting with the ladies in the kitchen. And, us guys are down in the sauna. And, the kids are outside, playing in the pool, or throwing frisbees, or playing cornhole, or whatever. And then, at 7:00 or 7:30, everybody just comes together.
And, typically, I get out my guitar and we sing a song, and we do some type of breathwork and gratitude practice. And then, we eat. And, a lot of times, I'll have people bring a side dish to share. Sometimes, it'll be a theme. Like this Sunday, it's about five families. The theme is crazy socks. Everybody brings a healthy side dish to share, and we all just have an amazing time together. Typically, when dinner's over, if it's summer, we go outside and play yard games. If it's winter, we usually gather around the fireplace and play guitar and drums. And, we're literally doing that.
Chris: These are all local friends?
Ben: Yeah, these are all local friends. Sometimes, they're people who are having to be in town. Sometimes, I've got podcast guests over to interview. But, every time we do this, just a massive party, people leave hyper-connected, people are texting me, like, “Hey, what was that one guy's name that did such and such? What's his number? Can you connect us?”
And, I've found that two things have happened as a result of that. A, I've formed a lot closer male friendships, in particular, because these guys are just basically sharing experiences and sharing meals with me in my home. And then, in addition to that, there's not a lot of like-minded folks where I live who are super into health and biohacking and nutrition and fitness. All these things that you and I can talk about openly, but that weird out a lot of people. Why are you putting on those weird-colored glasses right now, dude, after we just finished dinner? Or, why are you telling me this meat is grass-fed, grass-finished? Why does that even matter? Or, this sauna is fun and I like sitting there and talking with you guys, but are there any benefits to sitting in here?
And so, as that happens, you're educating people about health or, at least, I'm educating people about health, about all these things that I do. And, all of a sudden, after several months of doing this, even though I would say that, two years ago, I didn't have a lot of people in the Spokane community who I could just sit down and talk with about all these things that I really like. Now, I've got a whole bunch of guys who are just picking my brain about this stuff and who are interested in it. And then, we're whatever, texting each other on the phone, asking what Hapbee session we used that day, or check out this new sauna I got. And so, it's almost as though, if you don't have the community in your area that you would like to have and you feel like you're lonely because nobody lives there with similar interests, etc., then create the change that you want to see happen and just start hanging out with people and bring them into your home and show them your life and talk with them and answer their questions. And, you'd be surprised.
It shocked me two years later, because I really started a lot of this during COVID, I've got this whole group of fabulous people who are also interested in a lot of the same things I'm interested in because they experienced it at my house.
Chris: That's fantastic. That's fantastic. You're reminding me we've had a retired palliative care doctor. His name is Julian Abel on the podcast a couple of times before. And, he has a podcast and a book called “Survival of the Kindest.” He's the director of Compassionate Communities in the UK. And then, after I'd interviewed him a couple of times, he got me on Zoom and said look, “Chris, I don't think you're really getting this.” And, he absolutely had a point. We talked about diet and we talked about exercise. We talked about stress management, all these things that we do. And, we're thinking of community as some separate pillar. By the way, there's this community thing you need to do over here. It's the fourth or fifth pillar of health, or whatever it is.
And, the way you need to think about it is, all of these interventions you're recommending, like the food prep you just said, that's an opportunity to weave the communitas into your thing. And, at the moment, well, perhaps, for the first few years of NBT, we were wasting that opportunity. We were not thinking. We were thinking too much about the individual but less about the social network in which they exist. Because nobody really exists in a vacuum.
Ben: It's not as though, because I understand a lot of people, they eat early. You eat early, don't you, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, we have dinner 4:00 in the afternoon. We do that early time-restricted eating.
Ben: So, that might be more difficult for you to do something like a big dinner.
Chris: We do that, too. We do do that occasionally.
Ben: Yeah, but once a week.
Chris: It sounds exhausting even for me like this. And, I don't really identify as an introvert. It's just a lot of work.
Ben: So, it is something that on paper looks exhausting, but in reality, is energizing.
Ben: Those nights that we have those parties are the nights that I go to bed and I have to take melatonin and stuff to get to sleep because I'm just so excited and energized and buzzed by being around people. And, yeah, there's always a little bit of extra cleanup and there's always a little bit of extra prep and there's even a little bit of a financial burden on figuring out how you're going to feed 50 people and their kids…
Chris: Yes, you do.
Ben: …some grass-fed brisket, but this idea of loving others and sharing with others and experiencing the increase in energy that results from that, that sometimes lasts through one to two days later. There's a lot of stuff going on here that I have yet to understand. When you wake up in the morning after one of those fabulous dinner parties and you've stayed up past your bedtime, but you don't even feel like you need coffee because you just have a big smile on your face and you're so energized. And, you wake up and when you do turn on your phone, you get three texts from people who had an amazing time or who have follow-up questions for you.
Chris: That's right.
Ben: And so, there's so many other things that I talked about during my talk that go beyond just eating together. I talked about opening yourself up to the messiness of other people when you're going out and doing something. This one's really hard for me because I like to work out by myself, I don't like to herd cats. I dig the buzz of having other people around, sometimes. If I go to myself when I'm traveling to a steakhouse or whatever and I order and enjoy an amazing steak, that is probably a better experience than I would have had if I'd ordered room service up in my room. But, it's when you go to the coffee shop to study not because you want to visit with people but you just want that buzz of being around other people.
And so, I've always been happier with that type of mentality in terms of just going out of my way to share experiences with others. But, now, what I'll do is, typically, about one to two workouts a week, whether it's a paddle board session or a hike, a restaurant outing, sometimes, or a walk, or anything like that. I just text a couple of folks from that Google.doc that I have and ask them if they want to join me. And, sometimes, it's yes. Sometimes, it's no. Is it always annoying? Does it always add 10 to 15 minutes because you're waiting in your car for the other guys to get there who said they were going to be there?
Chris: And then, suddenly turns up with a bike that's not functional. [00:44:01]_____ 50 minutes [00:44:01]_____ you stop.
Ben: Exactly, exactly. Somebody gets a flat tire during the ride, or whatever. When you introduce the messiness of other humans into a scenario, it's always going to be inconvenient. But, again, it's the love, it's the sacrifice, it's the understanding that the very greatest thing that we can do with our lives is to love our fellow human beings. And, what I tell myself as an introvert is, “Ben, there's plenty of time, other times during the week, for you to be inside your own head.” I get up super early in the morning. I'm usually up 4:30 or so. I've got two, three hours in the morning by myself. I work on my own because I've got a home office and don't really work in a group office scenario. It's not as though I don't get my alone me-time, but I have been.
And, you must do this. It's like sex when you're married. It sounds like it sucks all the romanticism out of making love. But, sometimes, you do have to plan it, literally. I'll go up to my wife in the kitchen in the morning and be like, “Hey, let's do it tonight, babe.” And, there's some amount of anticipation that builds up, etc. There are other benefits. But, ultimately, you have to plan it out. And, the same thing with these things. You have to say–I write out all the workouts and activities. I'm going to do it typically on a Sunday night, before the week starts, I'll write down which of those activities I'd like to reach out to other people to join me in. And, it's always rewarding. There's always some type of piece of advice or something like that that you can give to someone else.
Yeah, you aren't getting your audiobook or your podcast or your me-time or your personal meditation or whatever in, but I think if you strike a balance and you just open up a few of those shared experiences to others, it makes–And, they've actually done really interesting studies on this. I wrote an article on my website a couple of weeks ago about the dopaminergic response and the amplification of sensory pleasures when experiencing something either painful or pleasurable with other people versus experiencing it by yourself. And, there's a significant amplification of the sensory experience when you experience that with others, when you bite into a steak and you're looking into each other's eyes, saying, “Man, that's good.” You can get some of that if you're eating by yourself at the bar, at a steakhouse, watching a basketball game or whatever, but not quite to that level.
So, I would say, gathering around food is one big one. Going out of my way to deliberately organize shared experiences despite their inconveniences, that's another big one.
Chris: Have you come across any good tools for doing this? I feel like something important is missing from, say, Strava. You're looking retrospectively at the things that people did today. I don't give a [BLEEP] about what you did today. Tell me what you're going to do tomorrow, so I can join you. That will be really, really helpful.
Ben: Exactly. There's a book. It's a new book. And I wish I'd have read it about two weeks earlier because I just finished it. And, there was a whole bunch more fodder and ammo that I could have used in there for my talk, but it's called “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness.” And, since it was just written, and we know how quickly the app, website, software landscape changes, but it has 30 different meetup-esque type of apps and websites in there that are everything, from for young people who love sports to new mothers who are looking for other supportive new mothers, to different ways to broadcast when you're in a certain city, what sports you play, who you're looking to meet up with to play that sport. There's one called OpenSports that's like that. It's just like you choose your sports, you choose how long you're in a city, and it'll just list a whole bunch of other people who are around who are organizing pickup basketball, tennis, whatever.
And so, technology can be really useful for this. And, in addition, that book has several contact management software recommendations. Right now, I use one called Contacts+. But, all that does is–so, Contacts+ lets me pull in all my Gmail contacts, my iPhone contacts, my iMessage contacts, and then it allows me to attach a tag to any of those. Let's say the tag is Austin, Texas and I've got, whatever, 18 different people in my Gmail inbox and on my iPhone who have that tag, but when I fly to Austin, Texas, I'll just type in the tag Austin and I'll have all those people pulled up who live there who I might have forgotten live there, who I can reach out to and say, “Hey, I had a free moment. You want to grab dinner, or you want to go, whatever, swim in Barton Springs?” or anything like that. But, “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness,” because I'm still curating and trying out some of the newer apps that are listed in that book, seems to have recommendations for a couple additional friendship and relationship management software tools or apps that might make it even easier in terms of being able to list people's interests and how it is that you met them and then reminders that pop up on a frequent basis. “Hey, you haven't talked to this person” or, say, “invited them over to dinner in three weeks. You should reach out.”
So, sometimes, that stuff can seem fabricated or inauthentic, for example. “I'm calling you because my software app just told me I haven't talked to you in three weeks.” But, you know what? I think that it's useful. I think there are certain aspects of software and tools and technology that make this stuff easier that, honestly, I think people would love to have years before this stuff existed. So, there's some amount of management that can be done. But, my primary way to do is just that Google doc because it's all the local people.
One other thing that came up repeatedly in my talk was figuring out a way to get out into your local community and be there for people who you'd normally just never really take the time to be there for. And, these aren't the type of people you would have over for a dinner party. This is like, when I go to church and I'm reviewing the church bulletin about who has cancer, who's just had a baby, who is facing financial difficulties, and then what I do, because, at our church, we use a website called Realm, which is a place where you can leave messages to other people in the church or look up the church directory. Even if you don't have someone's name or number, you can find it there.
And so, at least once a week, I will reach out to someone at church and I'll cook them dinner or deliver them a meal, or my wife will often just go and help them out in their yard or do some type of community service for them. And, I've found that church has been a really, really good outlet for being able to find needy people. It's actually, if you read the Bible, that's one of the main things that Jesus encouraged people to do, was feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the widows and the orphans. And, yet, you see now government welfare doing that more than the church community. I think that the church, especially in America, has fallen short of taking care of people in the way that they are called to. But, if you're a member of a church body or go to church, it's just insty oodles of people who you can help, who are super receptive to it.
And so, whether it is a church or whether it is googling the name of your city plus volunteer opportunities or, like I talked about yesterday, even just like when you're journaling or meditating in the morning, thinking of one person you can serve that day, so 365 days a year, you're helping at least one person out, that idea of going out, again, systematizing into your life the habit of helping other people and volunteering and loving other people is something that has also been incredibly rewarding in terms of the biological benefits of altruism. Same amount of energy generated when I'll throw one of those group dinners, but it's also been something that, deep down in your heart, you know it's right. Deep down in your heart, you know that, despite the inconveniences that it presents, you're missing a workout, not getting to catch up on that reading that you wanted to do, you're going to be short in a podcast, catch up on the weekends, or whatever, it always, always feels right when you make that decision.
And so, just living your life almost like a good Samaritan or, I think, in that book I mentioned, “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness,” I think he calls it a sheriff of the good times. Everywhere you go, try and spread good times. Every time that we go out to eat and there's extra food left on the table, I use to, in the spirit of scarcity, feel as though I had to just eat all that food and make it disappear because, hell, we paid for it. Somebody's got to eat it or, whatever, I'll just fast in the morning or work out and punish off the rest of these fries because, otherwise, they're going to go to waste. Or, you'll have some food that you know is going to taste really shitty the next day. If you take it home and refrigerate it, even though my kids and I joke that everything tastes good with scrambled eggs. There are exceptions to that rule, like, I don't know, roasted vegetables or something like that.
So, anyways, every time I finish a meal at a restaurant now, I get it boxed. And then, I'll walk loops around the restaurant until I find a homeless person. And, I give them that food. And, it's fun, because I'll even explain to them, these are the truffle oil fries with the special hot spicy oily ketchup. And, a lot of times, there's, “Whatever, [00:53:03]_____ food.”
Ben: Plus, [00:53:06]_____ you're strolling.
Chris: That's right. That's right. You're wearing a CGM right now, aren't you?
Chris: So, we all know how important the [00:53:11]_____ stroll is.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. So, I talked yesterday about the importance of, pretty much, making every decision that you have in life, whether it's a business decision or the formation of a purpose statement, or what you're going to do with the leftover food after a meal, you just think, how can I love others? How can I love others with my business? How can I love others with this meal or this experience that I've just had? How can I love others when I'm at the grocery store? And, this is, I think, something that's increasingly occurring when we're all masked up and we're just a little bit more–What's the word when you're wearing a mask, someone doesn't know your identity?
Chris: Faceless. It's–
Ben: Yeah, we're faceless. We're nameless. There's another word, but I'm forgetting what it is. It's one of those easy words that was on the tip of my tongue. Anyways, though–So, it's actually a lot easier, I have found, to be an [BLEEP] when you're wearing a mask. There's something about people not being able to see you like a bandit. That makes it a little bit easier to be less personable to other people, to smile less at the grocery store clerk, to give a nod to the Uber driver but not really say much else.
And so, I think it's even more important nowadays to, literally, when you get in an Uber or a Lyft, you should be thinking, “Before this ride is over, how can I love this other person?” And, sometimes, it can be something as simple as, “How's your day going?” Or, when I get out of the car, I always say, “God bless you. Have an amazing day.”
Chris: You've got to use your words right. You can't use facial expression, now you've got to use your words.
Ben: That's another thing that I've just realized, is we're not independent automatons, and that other human beings, even those who we don't know and who we may never see again, really thrive on what is arguably electromagnetic energy and photonic energy and emotional energy that all pours forth when, basically, every interaction that you have is performed in a spirit of loving others.
Chris: Would you say that the church has become more important to you over the years? I was listening to the podcast way back in the day. It must be, what, 2012 or something I started listening? And, back then, they said, “Who is this crazy guy who talks about all this stuff? I can't believe that anybody's possibly doing all of this stuff. And then, before I knew it, I started doing most of it. It crept in incrementally.” I don't remember you talking about the church so much back then. But, now, I hear you talking about it a lot. So, something changed.
Ben: I've always felt really close to God in nature, often by myself, when walking through a forest and speaking with God and feeling His presence in nature, which is where I think that the Creator reveals Himself to us in many ways, speaks to us through the trees and the mountains and the rivers and the lakes and the ocean and the wind and the hills and the greenery. When I go into a church, especially when I go into a church that's just a typical American church, in a strip mall, with a PowerPoint projector, and some people on stage, an electric piano, it's difficult for me because it feels trite and irreverent. In many cases, I'm like, “If this is the God that built Mount Everest and this amazing forest and these glorious oceans and rivers and lakes and thunder and lightning, and here I am in a strip mall trying to talk to Him, this just doesn't feel right.”
And, that, really, was something I struggled with for a long time. And, I also struggled because I was very judgmental of other people who weren't thinking on the same level as me. What do I have in common when the pastor tells us to stand up and turn around and greet someone behind us with the plumber who's working a 9:00 to 5:00 who doesn't give a shit about anything regarding nutrition or health or fitness or anything I talk about, who I've never met in my life, who's, maybe, 12 years older than me? I don't have a lot of kindred spirits at church. And, church feels irreverent.
And, what I realized is, A, there's something about what is called in the Bible and in Greek terminology “koinonia,” gathering together, very similar to the shared experiences I was talking about that are messy and inconvenient and you feel like you're sacrificing for others, and sometimes it doesn't feel exactly what you should be doing. But, yet, at the same time, after you've done it, it feels right. Well, at church, you really are surrounded by a whole bunch of other super messy people who, because it's not really a club that you all joined that's like, I don't know, a mushroom and plant foraging club or a tennis club or something where you all have the same interests, can seem really awkward and harder to make friends and harder to love people.
But, I've realized that the energy that you experience when you're there and all of a sudden you all open your mouth and you start singing together and you realize, oh, my gosh, God doesn't care that he's a plumber and I'm a trainer or a coach or a blogger and she cuts hair and she's a house mom. All God knows is we're just all singing this wonderful, beautiful, glorious song together, and it sounds really nice. Or, when you're sitting there and there's a pastor delivering some moving energetic sermon that you're learning from, it's different than listening to that same sermon while you're on the hike or you're on YouTube, and you look beside you and your wife has a couple of tears rolling down her face and there's somebody in the back saying, “Amen, brother.” And, it's just a different, more dynamic experience when it comes to worshiping God.
And so, that was part of it, realizing that I've been very judgmental and that I needed to understand that everybody is, if you're coming at this from a Christian standpoint, safe. It's not like Jesus just died for the good people or the rich people or the people who were cool or the people who didn't have struggles in life or the people who had a great job. He died for everybody. And, it took me a really long time to get that hammered through my stubborn head that I'm not special, that I'm not the chosen one, that I'm not the hero. I'm just another dude trying to live other people and make a maximum impact with my life on this planet. And, who am I to judge? Who am I to judge?
So, setting aside that, recognizing myself that I tend to judge others and realizing that I'm no more special than anybody else, was one thing that, really, all of a sudden, made church more palatable. Also, just that idea that, for example, Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler talk about, I think, in their book about flow. What's the name of that book?
Chris: “Recapture the Rapture.”
Ben: Well, Jamie talks about it in “Recapture the Rapture,” too, becoming superhuman something like that, is it that? I forget. But, anyways, they talk about these shared experiences, koinonia.
Chris: “Stealing Fire.”
Ben: Yeah, “Stealing Fire.” And, how group flow is something that–it has really, really significant origins traced back to religious experiences, like worshiping together, experiencing God together, praying together, being anointed together, taking communion together. The recent author of a book about the history of plant medicines in church worship, Brian Muraresku, I think his name is called.
Chris: Yeah, I've read that book as well.
Ben: He wrote a book about just how even the ego dissolving or the consciousness-expanding elements of plant medicine are something that, actually, the church used to weave into a lot of these experiences, too.
Chris: And, he argues that Christianity is a continuation of paganism with the psychedelic twist [01:00:43]_____.
Ben: Yeah, which would be interesting. I'm actually having lunch with him later on today.
Ben: So, it'll be interesting to hear some of his perspectives on that. But, I'm not saying you got to put psilocybin in the communion wine to enjoy the fellowship of church.
Ben: Yeah, or [01:00:55]_____. But, this idea that we need each other. And, for me, to be walking in the forest by myself, whatever, maybe singing “Amazing Grace,” is way different than standing with 300 other people blasting at the top of our lungs and feeling the energy and the emotion that pours forth from that experience.
And so, when you combine those two elements with the idea that church is also a really great place to build community or find ways that you can love others or serve others more, church has become a lot more meaningful to me, not to belabor this point too much. But, I've also really, really realized, probably, as a result of me getting older, knowing I have a broken body, realizing that, ultimately, all this fitness stuff, at the end of the day, is not that fulfilling and despite how perfect your diet is or how perfect your body is, I've just realized that caring for your spirit is one of the most important and meaningful and rewarding things that you can do. And so, just that increased focus on spiritual health for me has naturally brought church up a few notches when it comes to another way to care for my spirit and to care for the one part of me that's arguably the most important part that I believe will go on to live forever versus my body just fading away eventually.
So, why have it all about me, whatever, working out by myself? Is that what I'm going to be thinking about on my deathbed? Or, am I going to be thinking about singing at the top of my lungs surrounded by a whole bunch of other happy people and then making dinner for one of those people who might have cancer later that night? So, you have to do some forward-thinking when it comes to what makes me happy versus what makes other people happy or what makes God happy. And, a lot of times, what makes me happy is not exactly what's going to make you happy on your deathbed.
Chris: So, you weren't terribly convinced then by Jamie Wheal‘s argument in “Recapture the Rapture” that we need a replacement for organized religion? And, I'm sure you've thought about this as well. Your more cerebral intellectual side. You're reading Dawkins and Hitchens and Sam Harris. I think they find this a huge downside to this religion thing and, maybe, we should find other ways to create meaning. So, that's what Jamie Wheal wrote about in “Recapture the Rapture.” But, you've not found that to be necessary and the church is not in need of replacing.
Ben: The church is in need of fixing. The post-post-reformational church that split off into Catholicism, which based on papal politics and greed and power and accumulation of wealth. Despite there being many, many wonderful amazing Catholics who I will live with in heaven forever, there's been a lot of corruption in the Catholic church. And then, when you look at the other off-branching that occurred during the reformation, you saw almost the protestant Christians, which is largely my background, reformed protestant. And, they became very scientific and rational and logical and argumentative and stripped a lot of the sacredness. And, even things as simple as imagery or iconography, they stripped that away because they said to have pictures of the saints would be worshiping them and we shouldn't worship idols. So, we just need to get rid of art. And, in many cases, we lost a lot of the beauty and a lot of the aesthetics, and even a lot of the deep spiritual sacred aspects of communicating with God, instead replaced by learn the Bible, do the Noah's Ark-felt animals. But, deep meditation or trance-like states and deep prayers that the desert fathers and desert mothers would have experienced in the early Christian church and the beauty and aesthetics of Christianity was lost post-reformational.
And so, the Catholic church retained some of that with cathedrals and stained-glass windows and some beautiful worship settings. But, there was power corruption. The reformed church or the protestant church lost a lot of the beauty and aesthetics while maintaining, arguably, good theology and a little less political corruption.
And then, you have the third off-branching, which was the orthodox church. And the orthodox church, which is–My father is an Eastern Orthodox Christian. And, they actually are the smallest subset of Christianity that exists now, primarily based originally out of Constantinople. And, now, Moscow, Russia's the home of the Orthodox church, so to speak. And, they burn icons and pray systematically multiple times per day and have a very meditative and a structured meditative aspect to their worship. And, there's a lot more deep mystical spirituality woven into that particular religion.
And so, I would say, of anything, the orthodox approach seems to me to be the one that most, at least, from my experiences, acknowledge a lot of the deep beauty and aestheticism of God that seems to have been stripped from the protestant church and the Catholics. They've done a great job retaining some of that beauty in their worship services or in their architecture but yet been corrupted by politics. And then, the reformed Christians or the protestants, they're just almost too logical, too in-the-head, too rational, too scientific, and there's not a lot of deep spiritual mysticism.
For me, to actually go to a church and say, “Hey, let's work psilocybin into the church service to allow us to use the sacredness of the plants to more deeply connect with the divine,” that'd be considered heresy. Whereas, I think a more appropriate response would be, yes, God made all good. Plants are sacred. And, we should look into, almost the same way that the Levi priests burnt special oils and incense in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle that did shift them into an altered state of consciousness, it's like those type of things are just considered “Reefer Madness” doing drugs, when, in fact, those two are probably an integral part of drawing closer to God or worship.
So, there's a lot of problems with the church. And, when I talk about this stuff, I have imposter syndrome, Chris, because I'm not a theologian. I'm a personal trainer. My education is a physical education.
Chris: I'm just [01:07:27]_____ podcast.
Ben: I'm slowly learning this stuff. And, I think, the church has a long ways to go. But, I think, in an ideal scenario, we have these beautiful, beautiful locations in the community that aren't ostentatious. We're not talking about multi-million-dollar cathedrals and TV shows, but just places that are aesthetically beautiful. Maybe, a garden and a well-built structure and an interior that's very peaceful and settling. And, these institutions, these locations within the community, primarily, what they're doing is giving people a place to come together and connect to the sacred, connect to the divine, connect to God. And, at the same time, these places are the local community haven for helping other people. This is where all the money goes then gets turned around and distributed to, again, the poor and the homeless and the fatherless and the widows and the orphans. And, that's really what I think the ideal church scenario would be.
Chris: You must have considered that the church is a modern solution to a problem they created. We've seen this again elsewhere. People think all hail science, they gave us antibiotics and cured us of zoonotic disease. So, we're here at the Ancestral Health Symposium. We're looking through these modern problems through the context of our ancestral heritage. And, it was the sedation, settling down on domestication with animals, the close proximity that created those zoonotic diseases, to begin with. It's the rise of modernity. And, I wonder if the same is true of the church. The Catholic church, in the fourth century B.C., invented the monogamous nuclear family and told everyone, “This is how you should live. No more marrying your cousins. No more kin-based clans, and all this kind of stuff.” But, it sounds like what you're doing with your group dinners is recreating those kin-based plans. We know that sharing food is an important way that you create.
Ben: Yeah, we're definitely creating that type of scenario. Actually, church would almost call it a parish. There's little pockets throughout the community of people who support each other throughout the week and then everybody comes together in one large church service at the end of the week.
Chris: Would you see my parents? They created the problem. And then, they come along and said, “We can solve that, that loneliness thing you've got. We've got solutions for that. Come, join us.”
Ben: And, there are subtle nuances there that I would disagree with you on. For example, when I throw a dinner party, I and my buddy, Angelo's wife, as a potential mate for me that night or anything like that because I do believe that there's some societal stability that is afforded to us by monogamy. And, I think just the way we're wired up in terms of some things that I was talking about last night, such as oxytocin in rodent studies. That surge of oxytocin actually induces more of a monogamous interaction between some species.
Ben: And [01:10:28]_____ which obviously aren't humans.
Chris: We are [01:10:30]_____.
Ben: But, basically, I think that there is a sacredness in terms of the relationship between a man and a woman that dictates that there's a great deal less stress and more societal stability that seems to be afforded through monogamy. And, this is coming from a guy who I would say is–I'm a little bit of a hedonist. I love to explore every nook and cranny of God's creation. And, I love sex. And, I love big greasy ribeye steaks. And, I love coconut ice cream. And, I like using plant medicines responsibly. And, I love the outdoors and jumping in lakes and rivers and oceans.
And, I actually was thinking about this yesterday, this idea that we have this little bit of an ancestral mismatch. And, I alluded to this during my talk where we're technically built to preserve calories and to be metabolically inefficient, because if we burn too many calories and we were someone thousands of years ago without unfettered access to food like we have now, it would have been foolhardy to go and do a workout in the morning or to go jump in a cold bath or do any of the things that people do now to upregulate their metabolism or to burn calories because that would just basically mean you'd die sooner or you'd strip more food, unless if you're training as a warrior to be able to protect the village or something like that, maybe. But, now, we live in an era where we're surrounded by unfettered access to food and we still have that same built-in neurological mechanism, that dopaminergic response, to food that would allow us to survive, just like, “Here's food. Stuff as much into your body as possible because you never know when you're going to see that food again.” So, of course, that manifests in a lot of the chronic disease that we're seeing as a result of excess caloric intake. And, that's related to a host of different chronic diseases. And, we're just following what we're ancestrally hardwired to follow.
But, then, a lot of people have figured out that, “Wait, I can just go work out and burn all this off, and that chronic disease won't necessarily manifest.” And, there's a lot of subtle nuances, like overtraining and hormonal issues.
Ben: All the things that are accompanied by the exercise to eat, eat to exercise vicious cycle. But, yet, I think that, if you're saying, “I had a big mac and fries twice today, and I'm going to go tomorrow morning with a big frowny face, crush myself on the elliptical trainer for an hour and a half, and then grip my teeth while I take a dump or bunch of ice from the gas station in my bathtub,” that is a form of hedonism that manifests as a result of wealth and what we have access to, that I think is unhealthy. But, yet, for someone to savor all of God's creation, have a massive ribeye steak a couple of nights a week with a wonderful glass of organic wine and some dark chocolate, coconut ice cream, or some sweet potato fries, and then the next day you're going to grab all your friends and go paddle-boarding and then jump in the icy cold river afterwards, partially because it's fun, but also partially because you need to because of that enormous wonderful meal you had the night before, to me, that sounds like a scenario that our ancestors would have killed for. It's like, “Wait, I get to eat a whole bunch of wonderful food, go hang out with my friends, burn calories, swim in the river, and then do it again?”
And, I think that, if there's enough to go around, for example, these dinner parties and cooking dinners for other people and things like that, if you're sharing that hedonism with others and that type of scenario isn't performed selfishly, I actually think it's a pretty fun way to live. It's just like savor all of God's creation, take care of your body, love other people while you're doing that. And so, I call myself almost a healthy Christian hedonist.
Chris: That makes sense. Just to go back to your earlier point, I wouldn't say there wasn't an upside to the monogamous nuclear family. The upside is economic prosperity. So, once we were organized into monogamous nuclear families, you would then cooperate with someone you didn't know. Whereas, that's not true of kin-based clans. Everything you did business-wise was through someone a relative, someone you knew. It was unthinkable to do business with someone you didn't know.
So, that was the upside of the monogamy. And, maybe, that led to all the wonderful things that we have today that you just said that we get to enjoy that may be there.
Ben: Well, for me, I look at it on a little bit more of a personal level. And, again, this is painted with the color of me being a Christian. And so, this is what I think about when I discuss this. But, basically, there's this deep, deep element of sacrifice woven into the hero's journey that is the story of Jesus Christ, how he just left everything as a deity in heaven and came down and lived as a messy human and was eventually sacrificed in a very brutal way and killed in a manner that would allow him to take on all the sin and suffering and burden and shame of all the horrific things that have been done in the world. And, that sacrifice is written about in, specifically, the New Testament as something that is mirrored in the relationship between a husband and a wife, like being there for each other, or arguably, even a son and his father or a daughter and her mother or her father.
When I looked at my son in the eyes a few days ago, because I always sit down with my sons. I have a few discussions a week that are deep and meaningful that involve a lot of eye-gazing and talking about their life and what their dreams and hopes and desires are. And, I ended that discussion saying to my son, “River, I would die for you, dude. Maybe, you'll understand someday when you're a dad. But, I would literally–” not to use pop culture song lyrics, “but I would throw myself on a grenade for you. I would throw myself in front of a train for you. I would do anything for you.” And, in a sense that dynamic of a relationship between a child and a parent or between a man and a woman is something that, I think, reflects the love that I think God gave to us in the form of sending Jesus.
And so, for me, it's almost living out my Christian faith to the fullest extent by realizing that there's a person in my life that I would do anything for, no matter what, that I'm so committed and faithful to that, that even if the world is crumbling all around me, I will care for and love that person no matter what. And, it's very difficult, I think, to replicate that, just because of the sacredness of sex and the way it intertwines people. It's hard to replicate that in a non-monogamous scenario. So, for me, part of it, too, is just about, basically, reflecting the love that God gave to humankind and trying to mirror that in the type of love that I have with my wife, if that makes sense.
Chris: It does make sense. Just to wrap up one tiny thing that you could give everyone to do. And, maybe, you've just given it to us, that eye-gazing thing. I locked out. I happened to be standing next to Lucy Mailing whilst watching you talk. That would have been super awkward for me, had I had to do that with a complete stranger.
Ben: Or, somebody with Tourette's.
Chris: But, is there one tiny thing that you can give people to do to, perhaps, reduce their loneliness? Because, it all seems just a bit overwhelming. Just one tiny thing.
Ben: Well, I'm glad that you actually brought that up about the eyes because the eyes are the window to the soul. They connect us in a way deeper than even talk or hearing someone's voice or, arguably, even touching someone does. And, I would challenge everyone listening in this week to make deep meaningful, even slightly awkward or somewhat creepy eye contact with every person that you interact with, including, because you might take this for granted, and you might realize you're not doing this much at all, your loved ones.
When I started doing eye-gazing with my boys three years ago, when they were 10, I realized how seldomly I'd actually, for the previous 10 years, aside from, maybe, when they were little cooing babies, just looked deep into their eyes. Sometimes, without even saying anything. Deep, deep eye contact. And, that's the same for the Uber driver or, whatever, the airline stewardess. I always talk about travel scenarios when I'm traveling obviously. Or, other people you're having dinner with at the dinner table. Try this week that idea of eye-gazing.
And, if you want to take it to the next level, one of the things that we do is I'll sometimes put on a favorite song that one of my sons and I have, and we'll simply play that song and do nothing but stare into each other's eyes and just stroke each other's hair and sit there and just be there with each other with eye contact. And, it's so, so meaningful. Many of us might already do that with our significant other after sex or something. If you're lying-in bed during pillow talk, I think that's probably the most common time that most people listening in have experienced that kind of eye-gazing. But, try and weave that into all the interactions that you have, not for your whole life. Don't think about it that way. Just for this week, be that person.
And, I've personally found that to be incredibly profound, as far as understanding how deeply we are intertwined and interconnected and interdependent as human beings. And, it sounds like a silly way to start, but I would say just deep, deep eye-gazing and eye contact with every single person that you meet, that you come into contact to or that you communicate with this week.
Chris: I love that. Do you mind if I start with my dog? I think my dog's pretty good at eye-gazing, and I think I'd feel more comfortable about myself if I was to stare with a dog.
Ben: Isn't that a sign of dominance when you look at your dog in the eyes and they eventually look away? The dog always looks away first.
Ben: And, if they don't look away first, that's a sign that your relationship, in terms of the hierarchy of dominance between you and your dog, might need to be adjusted somehow.
Chris: That doesn't sound–I'm not sure that's what I'm guarding for. I think I can find a study that shows that eye-gazing with other animals increases oxytocin, at least, in dogs. So, maybe, it does the job.
Chris: But, it's just super awkward to me. But, maybe, that's what I need to overcome, is that awkwardness.
Ben: Exactly. Well, I know that we're walking back towards the conference now. And, as Chris alluded to, we're getting towards the end of our chat today, which, really, didn't have an agenda going in, aside from we knew we wanted to talk a little bit about loneliness. But, hopefully, you guys have enjoyed our–what are we, ambling and rambling?
Chris: Yeah, exactly. It's a high cost.
Ben: Our ambling and rambling. And, basically, what I'll do for anybody listening in is, all the shownotes for what we talked about, I'll put at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ChrisAndBen. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ChrisAndBen. I'm certain that Chris, when he publishes this on his podcast, you'll probably tell people where they can go, right?
Chris: Yeah, exactly. You can come to NourishBalanceThrive.com and you'll find the podcast there. We started with athletes. And, more recently, it's turned into an exploration of all of the things that create performance and human flourishing. I'm having so much fun with that.
Ben: Chris does a really great job to you guys with, if I hear him record a podcast that I'm interested in, delving more into the science behind. He does a really good job with his shownotes and transcriptions and stuff like that, probably because he's a computer engineer, really good at making websites.
Chris: No, I've just got great people. That's what it is.
Ben: You have great people, yeah. And so, the other thing is that, of course, the Ancestral Health Symposium that we're at, we're grateful to them for putting this event on. And so, if you go to their website, you should be able to find all of the audios and videos for all the talks that Chris and I are playing hooky on right now to talk to you instead.
Chris: That's right.
Ben: And, again, either go to Chris's website or my website and leave a comment or a question or a feedback. Do you have comments on your website?
Chris: No, we've started doing a forum. I've got a Discourse forum. We have people on the other side of a Patreon paywall. We got a great discussion going there. I've found that to be really helpful, very personal.
Ben: Cool, cool. Now, you're throwing around words like “Patreon” and “Discord.” That make me feel [01:23:11]_____.
Chris: I love [01:23:12]_____.
Ben: Well, either way, everybody. Thanks for listening. And, remember to go eye gaze. And, Chris, thanks for the fun walk this morning.
Chris: Thank you, Ben. I really appreciate you, the talk, and everything you've done for Nourish Balance Thrive. It's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
Ben: Thanks, man.
There's a lot of stuff that we miss out on, a lot of stuff that I think is built into us, from a real ancestral standpoint, which is why I think this is appropriate to look at from an ancestral context. When we have no actual physical touch, we have no eye contact, when we don't produce pheromones that other people can detect and smell, when we aren't releasing or producing as much oxytocin, when there's no sensing between two human beings, the interaction between one person's heart or brain's electromagnetic field and another person's heart or brain's electromagnetic field, we are missing out on a ton of what it means to be human, to experience humans.
And, if you look at the iGen group, I don't know how many people are, basically, '95 to 2012-ish is the iGen group. Admittedly, I'm a dummy, I forget who the group is that comes after that, who's the group that comes starting in–Sorry, Aaron. Who's the group that comes in 2013 and onward? Anybody know? Alright. What's that? I'm not sure what 2012 after is.
But, anyways, generation iGen is basically some category you would fall into if you probably don't remember ever having had a smart [01:24:48]_____. You probably, I know is it–who in here is in iGen, '95 to 2012? So, most of you remember the days when the phone would ring and you didn't know who it was, unless you were one of the lucky people in the neighborhood who had the caller ID, which we actually did because my dad owned a telecommunications company. So, we were early adopters of the brick-sized cell phones. And, I would go to soccer practice with a Padron, looking like a little drug dealer, just so my mom could page me to pick up the milk.
And, I grew up without a smartphone being necessarily an integral part of my life, a fifth appendage or a big one. We even know that there are studies on histocompatibility of mates and the immune system robustness of offspring from a man and a woman when the woman, in particular, has been able to smell the pheromones emitted by a man and is able to choose or select or accept a mate that allows for a better immune system. And, people gather around that. It's just been amazing. The dinners are a huge one for me.
Meetups. So, I will put a list on the resources page because most people are aware of MeetUp.com. Has anybody–because I just started down the route of throwing neighborhood parties, getting to know all my neighbors, because I realized, even though I live out in the sticks, I have neighbors within a 4-mile radius, probably, 30 neighbors who I just didn't know that well. But, I used Next Door, which allows you to create a community that's geographically appropriate for where you are.
Anybody used that one before? It's really cool. It's like Facebook for your neighborhood.
There's Meetups. There's another few that, actually, they were brought to my attention when I was reading that “Friendships in the Age of Loneliness” book. There were a few I wanted to share with you, guys. There's one called niche, Peanut. Shows you like-minded mothers near you and makes it easier to meet. We3, find the most awesome people nearby, meet new friends in groups of three. MeetMe, meet, chat, and have fun with new people. High Low community management messaging and collaboration all in one place. And then, Dex is another one. High Low and Dex are two that I'm going to start into next month to be able to manage all your friends and curate or collect all of your contacts together and be able to reach out to people in a little bit more organized fashion. And, again, I'll put all these on the page for the presentation. There was one that was really cool. Walkie, a community where you say what you want to talk about and get to have a phone call with an interested person right away. It's still a phone, but it's something. And then there's one called Good Night Zoom, remote storytelling with an isolated senior.
But, you know what? I have found, and this was more the case before COVID nursing homes and care facilities, they're super open to you coming down and visiting. It's probably changed a little bit because the last few times I've called–Because my sons and I used to go down. And, most of them have a piano and we play guitar and play old folk songs. They're at the local old folk center. And, I'm like, what do you call [01:27:56]_____. Can I say old folk center? But, that idea of connecting with old people. I even read books by old people for old people because I find so much sage wisdom in them. I just read a book called “Gun Lap.” And, it's just a book written by an old man giving other old men advice. And, I figure, wait, if he's an old man who has a ton of wisdom telling other old man what to do before they get to his age, then I could read this and start doing this same stuff when I'm 30 or 40 or whatever. So, look for elderly people as well. That's another really, really good thing.
Church, even though I grew up Christian and I still am Christian and I still love God, I love to talk to God and worship God, I like to walk in the forest and be under the blue sky in the sunshine. That's when I feel most connected to the divine. That's where I can be deeply spiritual. So, for me, church was just like I got to go there and sing the song and shake people's hands and pass around the plate.
But, I've actually realized in the past couple of years, church is amazing. And, I think it's because I started going to church more after COVID.
But, you get to know people who are way different than you, who, otherwise, you normally may not have ever interacted with. You get to sing together. And, when you walk into a church, the energy, the intense energy, compared to, say, walking into a funeral, is amazing just because there's a huge amount of positive energy and peace and love and joy in there. The number of people who need help in terms of volunteer opportunities and ways for you to help people, if you go into a church, there's so many people who need help. And, that's one of the reasons they're at church often. And, I realize there's a lot of dogmatic religions who have done a great deal of horrific damage in history. And, there's a lot of failures with the politics of church. But, when all comes down to it, that's yet another place most communities have that is amazing for building culture and finding people to have for dinner parties and finding people to help and volunteer with.
Renewing forsaken family relationships. I started doing this a year and a half ago. I'm always complaining about people in my family, but I realized that nobody's perfect and they have issues with me. And so, what I started doing was bringing the family together. As a matter of fact, this November, I'm trying this out for the first time. I rented an Airbnb and me and all my siblings are just going to go live in the Airbnb for three days and just hang out together and try not to kill each other.
But, we've been–Who else in here has a brother or sister or a mom or a dad who your relationship is just sketchy with? And, it's just there and we accept that that's normal, but that low-level angst and bitterness and anger that we now know, not only from traditional Chinese medicine, but then when we also look at the work of guys like Bruce Lipton in “Biology of Belief” or the book, “The Body Keeps the Score,” that stuff sits with you biologically. And when it's a family member, it really sits with you biologically because it's part of your DNA, too. So, I just made a list of all my family members who I just needed to make things right with or have just a really good open honest transparent relationship with. And, I've been working on mending all those relationships. And, it's culminating in that big Airbnb get-together in November. And so, think about your family, too, not just community and friends.
“Reclaim Real Conversation,” this is the title of the book by Sherry Turkle that I was telling you about. And, really, one of the big ones for her is just putting down your phone during meals and also figuring out how to have meaningful conversations during meals, something that goes beyond where are you based out of and this sweet potato slaw is really good. There's actually some really good ideas in this book, “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness.” We keep at our house these table topics cards on the table, and sometimes bring them out to restaurants. And, it's everything from what kind of superhero would you want here eating with us, to what's the hardest decision that you had to make last week. And, I keep a list like this on my phone anytime. Try it tonight at dinner. Who's going to the dinner tonight for AHS? Maybe, not the best playtonic sleepover you've ever had. I don't do a lot of sleepovers. But, if you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go? Who in your life makes you laugh out loud? When's the last time you cried?
There's actually this really cool essay you can find if you Google this. It's called “36 Questions That Lead To Love.” They actually developed 36 questions that, when couples go out on multiple dates and begin to ask themselves these questions, there's a greater degree of intimacy and a greater frequency of falling in love. And, they're actually really cool questions that you can do with your kids or your loved ones as well. I always, always have Table Topics on my phone on the table. If any of you sit with me tonight at dinner, let's totally do it. I'd love to play Table Topics. But, this idea of reclaiming real conversation, I find one of the best ways, the low-hanging fruit for that is, indeed, table topics.
The next is to love people. And, this may seem quite simple, but I'd be remiss not to bring it up. Any decision that you make in life, and this is even the way that I run my businesses, I don't look at the bottom line, I don't look at money, I don't look at monetization. I simply ask myself, how many people can I touch? How many people can I love? How many people in here have a purpose statement for life? A clear single succinct purpose statement that gets you out of bed in the morning? If you don't, you should. I'm serious. Having a purpose statement for life is one of the most precious and meaningful ways to live. And, I have an essay on my website, “How To Find Your Purpose In Life.” I have a book I just published called “Fit Soul.” And, in that book, there's a whole chapter devoted to finding your purpose in life. But, I tell people, find your purpose in life. What did you like to do when you were a kid? What puts you in the flow in the zone now? What kind of things are you naturally good at? But, you write that purpose statement, and then the one question you ask yourself in that statement or, perhaps, the paragraph before you've dialed it down into a statement, is sitting in front of you is, how can I take this purpose and love other people? Or, you can even just tack at the beginning or the end of your purpose statement. Loving others with this or that or this. And, living your entire life with the idea that loving other people is basically one of the most important things that you can do with your life and making every decision in the context of does this love other people or is this for loving me, is this just for my own survival, it's an incredible way to live. It's an incredible way to live. So, every decision that you make, think about how can you love other people. And, start with your purpose statement.
Serving may sound like it's the same as love, but it's not. Serving is when you're actually going out of your way to do something for someone. The way that we do this at our house is we gather as a family to meditate in the morning, then we gather again as a family to meditate in the evenings. They're very short meditations, 5 to 10 minutes long. But, the morning meditation, in addition to gratitude and breath work and tapping and a family hug afterwards for all those Pacinian corpuscles is, basically, what am I grateful for? And, the other question that we answer in the morning is, who can I pray for or help or serve this day? The entire rest of the day, we might message that person. We might call that person. We might actually go visit that person. We might just send positive emotions and photons and love their direction and pray for them during the day. But, every single day, we do that, 365 days a year. We begin our day in a spirit of serving others, not with the self-affirmation, me, me, me, I, I, I, I'm good, I'm great, I'm wonderful. And gosh, darn it, people like me. That's great for building yourself up, but you will build yourself up even more if you wake up in the morning and, at some point early on in the day, write down one person. And, you get better and better at it as you go. You begin to almost intuit who it is that actually needs you and your positive emotions and your positive energy that day. So, weave service into your life in the same way that you weave loving others into every decision that you make.
Shared experiences can suck. They're messy. You're hurting cats when you want to go work out. And then, you got to get everybody else to come and join you. When you want to go to a restaurant and you just want to have that wonderful steak that you've grown to love, and now you got to share it with four other people and figure out who's going to go and where and how you're going to split up the tab. And, you want to just go to a sauna and a cold plunge, but you decide to invite other people into the experience. I have realized that it is messy. It is annoying. It feels like sacrifice. And, especially, for an introverted guy like me who likes to go off and do stuff by myself, opening up those experiences and sharing them with others is actually something that's super awkward and difficult to do when you first start doing it.
And then, once you realize how much better food tastes when you're sharing it with people, how much more meaningful a simple activity, like golfing or going on a hike can be when you're sharing that with other people, how much more meaningful just basically attending a conference like this and sharing the information around a dinner table with other people afterwards can be. Open yourself up. Share experiences. Embrace the messiness of other people. It's still something that I'm working on, because I like to be by myself. But, figure out things that you do that you can invite other people into, particularly things you enjoy that are dopaminergic. And then, experience that dopamine release with other people.
And then, finally, I was telling Aaron last night about one of the more meaningful books that I've read of late. It's by Charles Eisenstein. And, it's called “Sacred Economics.” And, while there's so much in that book that I don't have the time to get into right now, a big, big part of that book is when we monetize or apply a value to food, to work, to the environment, to other people, we create a transactional scenario, not a transformational scenario and we remove the sacredness from that relationship. Many, many of us, especially in an era where we're able to start our own businesses and have anything from Etsy to PayPal to Shopify, etc., can tend to fall into a downward spiral of creating relationships for profit for someone who we can do an affiliate venture with, for someone who will mail out for us, for someone who liked that statement by John Ortberg, the rich people who might someday help us in some way. Don't monetize relationships. Figure out how you can make a relationship meaningful and transformational. And, this idea of not looking at people as currency as dollar bills is something that is actually quite different than the way most people operate these days, believe it or not. So, look at relationships as a way to acknowledge the sacredness of another human being, not as a way to, perhaps, profit from them or make a deal or build your business. And, now that you're aware of that, you might find that you have been doing that a little bit more. And it's something to stop doing and just think about how you can love that person, how you can serve that person, how you can share with that person.
So, I want to finish with something you can do today. I shared a few books with you, “Never Eat Alone,” “Reclaiming Conversations,” “Mastermind Dinners,” “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness,” “Sacred Economics,” there's also a book by Susan Cain, called “The Power of Introverts.” But, first of all, before I leave you with my final words, I would like for you to stand up, if you would, and do burpees and turn to the person next to you. And, you don't need to talk to him. You can talk to people on Facebook. You can talk to people on Twitter. Talking, it's meaningful, but it's just talking. We certainly do get sound vibrations and other things that occur when we talk to people. But, I want you to just, with one or two or three people, look at each other in the eyes, which is really awkward. Look at them in the eyes. And, let's try and keep–And, don't talk. Don't talk. Don't talk, just look that other person in the eyes. If you're okay with that other person placing their hand on your shoulder or holding hands with them or anything like that, give them a head nod. If that's something that's uncomfortable for you, you don't need to.
You're feeling them. You're looking into their eyes. And, also, feel the electricity coming off of their body. You might smell them, depending on how long you've all been gunked up in here. You might not. Touch electromagnetic signals, eye contact. It's really meaningful, you guys. It really is. We don't do that enough, even with our own children. I–You can stop now, actually.
Every time I leave and I go somewhere like this, I stop and I look at one of my children in the eyes and I just maintain eye contact for two minutes. And, I'm almost done. I'm almost done. Look people in the eyes more. Touch people more, if they're okay with it. And, even feel people. Actually feel their heart and their brain when you're with them.
So, you can create the world that you want to live in. If every single person last here and started doing some of the things that I talked about, it's one thing to talk about it but it's another thing to do it, we can affect change. Power is within our hands to do this. So, I really, really encourage you to get out there. Try a few of these things that I've talked about. Begin to build real meaningful relationships in an area of loneliness. And, we can tackle this together. We seem to all help each other out. So, thank you. Thank you. I will be outside. I've got two of my books here, “Boundless” and “Boundless Cookbook.” So, I will totally devalue books for you and sign them. But, I'll be right out there. And, when I'm out there or at dinner tonight, happy to chat more about this stuff or anything else. And, I promise, I won't look with a creepy gaze into your eyes for too long. Alright. Thank you, guys. Thank you.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormones, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more.
Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this and every episode helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, to use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
While recently in Los Angeles at the Ancestral Health Symposium, I had the pleasure of a long, sunshine walk with my friend Chris Kelly.
We brought a microphone along and recorded a fantastic chat for you with topics including…
- The growing epidemic of loneliness and how building a community can protect you biologically.
- How introversion can be steered towards a great deal of social good.
- My formula for the best dinner party guest list.
- The rewards of systematic service to others.
- And much more…
So who is Chris Kelly?
As a competitive cyclist, Chris trained hard and got fast, loving the buzz of a great workout session. However, at a certain point, he realized that in hindsight he spent most of his life feeling like crap—and his biomarkers spelled impending doom. Chris struggled with insomnia, fatigue, brain fog, his drive plummeted, and his recovery times took a nosedive. He wanted to train well, but he also wanted to enjoy the rest of his life.
So Chris transitioned to a Paleo-type diet, reading a book a week on the subject for a year, but that was only half the solution. The other half came through experimenting with and perfecting a system of functional medicine—he effectively became his own guinea pig. Now, Chris's body is back in balance—his symptoms have disappeared, his diet’s right for him, and his family life is as enjoyable as his training. In 2014, Chris quit his job as a software engineer to focus on helping athletes enjoy optimum fitness and health.
Nourish Balance Thrive isn't just a diet or motivational coaching—rather, it's the perfect blend of a lab-based supplement plan, expert dietary advice, and consultative performance planning uniquely tailored to your lifestyle. It's kind of the ultimate biohacking training course with a practical component developed just for you, with the goal of arming you with the knowledge you need to stay fit and healthy for life.
Chris Kelly has also been on my podcast on the following episodes:
- The Little-Known Test That Tells You Everything You Need To Know About Your Metabolism.
- 7 Signs Your Cortisol And Adrenals Are Broken.
In this special two-part episode that includes my talk about loneliness given at the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS), you'll discover:
Part 1 – Ben and Chris Kelly
-How Ben had a hand in founding Nourish Balance Thrive…09:15
- Nourish Balance Thrive
- BGF podcasts with Chris Kelly:
- Sacred Cow film by Diana Rodgers
- James Nestor's books:
- BGF podcasts with James Nestor:
- Ancestral Health Symposium
-Why Ben chose to talk about “loneliness” at the AHS…13:15
- Initially was going to talk about cold thermogenesis
- Growing epidemic of loneliness is brought on by technology, restrictions, etc.
- Our bodies in days of old would have mounted a response to what has become socially normal today
- Lonelinessby John T. Cacioppo
- Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcersby Robert Sapolsky
- “Herd immunity” promotes a sense of community between people
- The Martianby Andy Weir
- Having an empathic nature has positive physiological effects
-Ben's thoughts on the introverted personality…18:48
- Ben was homeschooled, which fostered an independent personality and self-sufficient nature
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talkingby Susan Cain
- Steer introversion toward social good: speaking and acting
- Introverts are very chameleon-like
- Introverts are not merely shy or socially awkward
-How Ben has used his introverted nature to his advantage in his personal and professional life…25:15
- Studies showthat loneliness is on par with smoking for the health effects
- Loneliness is a disconnect between your perception of how many friends you have, vs. how many friends you actually have
- Solving loneliness is not about being around a bunch of people; it could be being around the right people even if there's only a couple of them
- Men are better at forming friendships with shared experiences
- Never Eat Aloneby Keith Ferrazzi
- Transactional relationships; friendships that exist for what's in it for me
- Food is a great means of fostering genuine fellowship among others
- Mastermind Talks Podcast, Jayson Gaignard
- Dinner parties; a mixture of various backgrounds, economic status, etc.
- Create the change you want to see happen
-The thing we often get wrong when we think of building community…39:55
- Survival of the Kindest Podcast, Dr. Julian Abel
- Dinner parties on paper look exhausting, but in reality, are energizing
- The messiness of others is inconvenient at times, but it's worth the trouble
- BGF article on the dopaminergic response while experiencing pain or pleasure with others
-Tools and resources to help build community…46:30
- Friendship in the Age of Lonelinessby Adam Poswolsky
- Contacts+ app
- Reach out to someone in need of fellowship via church bulletin
- Biological benefits of altruism
- Give uneaten food at a restaurant to a homeless person
- Face masks make it easier to be less personable to others
- People we don't know and may never see again thrive on electromagnetic and emotional energy from human interactions
-How Ben's interaction with the church has influenced his person and message…55:04
- Ben has for years felt disconnected from the church, particularly the modern American church
- God doesn't care about the occupations or backgrounds of who's in the building
- Seeing his own judgmental spirit, accepting others for who they are (that's what God does)
- Recapture the Raptureby Jamie Wheal
- Recapture the Rapture: Alchemist-Like Cookbooks, Carbon Dioxide & Nitric Oxide Inhalation, Sexuality, Music, Mind-Enhancing Substances & More With Jamie Wheal.
- Stealing Fire by Jamie Wheal
- The Rise of Supermanby Steven Kotler
- The Immortality Keyby Brian Muraresku—book on plant medicines in the church
- Caring for the spirit is one of the most meaningful things you can do
- Corruption and rationalism has caused the church to lose a lot of the beauty, mysticism it has historically represented
- Imposter syndromewhen discussing matters related to spirituality and the church
-Recreating some of the community-building traditions that have been lost through the centuries…1:08:26
- Strength of monogamy in building a strong society and economic prosperity
- Are the church and science claiming to provide a solution to a problem it created?
- Unfettered access to food contributes to chronic disease
- “Healthy Christian hedonist”
- Jesus lived the Hero's Journey(sacrifice) on our behalf
-One thing you can do to reduce loneliness today…1:17:55
Part 2 – Ben's presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium…1:23:27
-Apps and technology that can enhance community…
- Next Door app
- Friendship in the Age of Lonelinessby Adam Poswolsky
- Peanut app
- We3 app
- MeetMe app
- High Lowcommunity messaging
- Walkie app
- Good Night Zoo
-Be active in the community…1:27:36
- Gun Lap: Staying in the Race with Purposeby Robert Wolgemuth
-Be active in your local church…1:29:00
-Engage in family relationships…1:29:57
- Biology of Beliefby Bruce Lipton
-Reclaim Real Conversation…1:31:13
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Ageby Sherry Turkle
-Have a mission or purpose statement…1:32:13
- 36 Questions that Lead to Love essay
- Table Topics
- Love people
- Sabbath Ramblings: How To Find Your Purpose In Life.
- Fit Soulby Ben Greenfield
-Embrace the sacredness of commerce…1:37:34
- Sacred Economicsby Charles Eisenstein
-And much more!…
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Chris Kelly:
- Nourish Balance Thrive
- BGF Podcasts With Chris Kelly:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- Biohack Your Breath With Nose “Boners,” Carbon Dioxide Inhalation, Tibetan Longevity Stretches & Much More: How To Unlock The New Science Of A Lost Art With James Nestor.
- The Extreme Sport You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, And How You Can Use It’s Renegade Techniques To Become Superhuman With James Nestor.
- Fire & Ice: Tips, Tricks & Biohacks To Maximize The Benefits Of Sauna, Hyperthermia, Cryotherapy & Cold Thermogenesis.
- Recapture the Rapture: Alchemist-Like Cookbooks, Carbon Dioxide & Nitric Oxide Inhalation, Sexuality, Music, Mind-Enhancing Substances & More With Jamie Wheal.
- Sabbath Ramblings: Share
- Sabbath Ramblings: You’re Not The Hero – The Dark Side Of The Hero’s Journey.
- Sabbath Ramblings: How To Find Your Purpose In Life.
- Boundless Cookbook
- Fit Soul
- Get High Now (without drugs)
- Loneliness by John T. Cacioppo
- Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcersby Robert Sapolsky
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
- Friendship in the Age of Lonelinessby Adam Poswolsky
- Recapture the Rapture by Jamie Wheal
- Stealing Fire by Jamie Wheal
- The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
- The Immortality Key by Brian Muraresku
- Gun Lap: Staying in the Race with Purpose by Robert Wolgemuth
- Biology of Beliefby Bruce Lipton
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Ageby Sherry Turkle
- Sacred Economicsby Charles Eisenstein
– Other Resources:
- Ancestral Health Symposium
- Sacred Cow – Film by Diana Rodgers
- Mastermind Talks PodcastOf Jayson Gaignard
- Survival of the Kindest Podcastof Dr. Julian Abel
- A Systematic Review of Loneliness and Smoking: Small Effects, Big Implications
- Contacts+ app
- Imposter syndrome
- Next Door app
- Peanut app
- We3 app
- MeetMe app
- High Low
- Walkie app
- Good Night Zoo
- 36 Questions that Lead to Love essay
- Table Topics
- Las Vegas Keto Expo (October 15-16, 2021). Ben will be speaking at the Las Vegas Keto Expo along with 13 other keto experts. The first 300 guests to register herewill get a free drink chip for the poolside party and a free t-shirt.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following com/calendar
–Ra Optics: Purchase a pair of Ra Optics Day and Night Lenses to optimize sleep quality, energy, levels, and health in the modern, electrically-lit world. Receive 10% off your order when you order through my link.
–Organifi Glow: A plant-based beverage that helps support the body’s natural ability to produce collagen, smooth fine lines, and wrinkles, and protect the skin from sun exposure and toxins. Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.
–Butcher Box: Delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones.
–Kion Serum: Use Kion Serum anywhere you’d like for more vibrant, youthful skin and hair. BGF listeners, receive a 10% discount on your order when you use discount code BEN10.