[Transcript] – How To Meditate In One Minute, Getting Over “Poser Syndrome,” Why Guys Like Porn, The 6 Phases Of Manhood & Much More With John Eldredge.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/lifestyle-podcasts/wild-at-heart/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:19] Podcast Sponsors

[00:04:43] Guest Introduction

[00:07:05] John's Interest in Meditation

[00:12:02] Benevolent Detachment, and Other Simple Practices for a World Gone Mad

[00:14:23] A Deeper Dive into John's Meditation Practice

[00:17:13] Our “Addiction to Efficiency”

[00:21:15] The Uniquely Masculine Question in The Hearts of All Boys and Men

[00:24:58] Rites of Passage, Ceremonies Celebrating Manhood, And Answering the Big Question All Boys Ask

[00:27:15] The “Poser” And The False Self

[00:29:45] Podcast Sponsors

[00:32:06] How to Overcome the Poser Syndrome

[00:36:49] How to Get Over The “Father Wound Piece”

[00:42:44] Six Stages of Manhood

[01:01:39] Advice for Couples to Grow in Grace Together

[01:09:33] What It Means for a Woman to Be “Captivating”

[01:12:06] Closing the Podcast

[01:14:43] End of Podcast

Ben:  On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

John:  At some point, you are going to need to forgive your dad, or who it was that really hurt you. But this idea of triggered, triggered, triggered by news, by alert, by Instagram, and you can't live in that space, all that's really actually very brutal on our humanity, and we can be driven by it. We can be compelled to try and overcome the uncertainty with even the way that we're trying to work out.

Ben:  Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.

Well, today's podcast is a little different, little more spiritual than some of the previous podcasts that I have done of late, but it's with a guy who is an author, whose books, and whose meditation platform have actually really been digging lately. So, I would be remiss of course not to introduce him to you. So, a good episode with my friend John Eldredge.

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Alright, let's talk to John.

Well, folks, in a weekly roundup a few months ago, I commented about this app that I had been using with my family to take these little brief 1 to 10-minute pauses during the day to connect with our breath and ourselves, and even with God. And this app is called the One Minute Pause app. I discovered it. I thought it was really cool. My family, actually, the way we started using it was we did the 10-minute meditation every Sunday just together as a family because during the COVID pandemic lockdown, church was canceled for quite some time, and we do a lot of home church sessions and would sit and meditate with this app at some point during those sessions. And it turns out that the guy who designed this app was the voice of the app.

He also has written a few books that I really enjoyed of late, particularly books written for men to become better fathers, better leaders, better men, one called “Wild at Heart. ” And there's another one called “Fathered by God” that's quite good. He also has a great book for couples called “Love and War.” And as a matter of fact, another fellow who I think is one of my guest understudies, Morgan Snyder wrote a great book called “Becoming a King,” which was actually quite meaningful for me because as you know, if you've been following my website, I've been publishing quite a bit about manhood and becoming a better father, a better leader, a better king. Should you be a mother, or a wife, or a woman listening into today's show, don't turn it off because we are actually going to be talking about couples and relationships as well. This is not just going to be a dude's show.

So, anyways, my guest on today's show is John Eldridge. He's an author, he's a counselor, he's a teacher, he's the president of a company called Ransomed Heart, which is a ministry that helps people discover the heart of God. And his books are absolutely fantastic, as is his app. I'll link to everything that we talk about in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/wildatheart. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/wildatheart.

John, welcome to the show.

John:  Thank you, Ben. Great to be with you. Really honored to be on your show and really looking forward to this conversation.

Ben:  Yeah. I'm stoked to have you on. I actually got to ask you because I think especially for many people, the idea of a meditation app that's more of like a Christian-based meditation app seems kind of weird. It seems as though meditation is often associated with Buddhism, or more eastern mysticism, or eastern religions. And I'm curious for you, how you came to discover meditation and what your unique flavor of meditation is in this app because I think it's really interesting.

John:  Well, the simple story is I got fried. I mean, I live in a digital space like most people have to in the modern world. Well, I love nature, and I love outdoors, and I love getting out to get renewed. It was the combination of crazy life, way too much media, way too much news. I got fried. And I started looking for ways to get out of the madness, like literally taking my attention back, really felt like the war was for my attention. “Click on this, look at this, watch this.” And so, the idea of meditation is really just what has captured your attention. And so, for me, it just began with some practices of letting things go, releasing the crazy, letting the world go, letting all the heartache go. And then, for me, because I'm a man of faith, God, I give you my attention again. I just want to settle down, get quiet, and just give you my attention. And this is actually, for followers of Christ, this is all through the scriptures. Isaiah says that, “You will keep in perfect peace, the person whose mind is set on you.” So, things like that, like letting the peace come back and getting centered again was a huge rescue for me.

Ben:  Yeah. And what I love about it is it's so quick. And obviously, you don't have to have an app to do something like this, but for some reason, being able to pull out the app and just press the pause. And then, also if you have a little bit more time, being able to choose a slightly longer meditation. I think it's useful. [00:09:22] _____ even talks about in that book how neuroscientists and psychologists, they're finding out that the plasticity of the brain dictates that we're so malleable at the cellular level that if we're spending a lot of our time surfing, or skimming, or scanning, we actually become more adept at that mode of thinking, and this idea of simply being able to step away and take a breath. One minute seems silly, but even something that short seems to make a profound difference.

John:  It was shocking for me, actually, what a difference it did make. And it began for me, actually, at the end of the day, I pull in my driveway and just cooked from the day. You're spun up, you're thinking about emails, you still need to answer, you're thinking about stuff you heard on the news, just conversations you need to have or you need to fix. And I pull in the driveway at the end of the day and I would just lay my head down on my steering wheel, turn the engine off, don't get out of my car, just sit there, and I would practice something we'll probably get into, which is benevolent attachment. I just let it go, let it go in one minute, and then the experience was so incredibly refreshing for me that I had to build the app, and put it in the book, and tell other people about it.

Ben:  Yeah. I mean, that's a whole ancestral mechanism that people get into, how our brains are hardwired. I just read a whole book about this called “Driven,” specifically about how folks like Navy SEALs, for example, specialized especially in this concept of being able to identify danger and be able to stay in a hyperalert sympathetically driven mode in response to danger. But the fact is that our bodies often, or our brains more specifically often don't know whether the danger is some impending lion coming to eat us or simply a disturbing email that popped out from our computer inbox but respond similarly.

John:  Right. And when you live in a world like that, the world keeps us in hypervigilance. This is part of the problem and super destructive on our health of course, but this idea of triggered, triggered, triggered, triggered by news, by alert, by Instagram. And you can't live in that space, that is brutal on the human soul. And as a therapist for years, I'm very concerned about the body-soul connection, and we've got to bring all that backdown. We got to have some point in our day where we let it all go.

Ben:  Now, you have a new book, that book “Get Your Life Back.” And admittedly, I haven't read “Get Your Life Back” yet, but from what I understand, that book is centered around this concept of benevolent detachment or being able to practice during the day, having these little pauses where we truly let it all go with a breath, with something like turning over our worries to God. Is that the general thesis of the book?

John:  Yeah, exactly. The subtitle is, “Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad.” So, we're assuming the crazy that most people are living in, and I'm looking for very simple things we can do during the day. Anybody's life, this can still work. You don't have to be a monk, you don't have to move to the South Sea islands, you can do this in a real-life, learning to take the one-minute pause, learning benevolent attachment, learning release. And then, a number of other practices in the book about the healing power of beauty, for example, and simple ways to minimize your technology that all together build for a really restorative experience.

Ben:  That makes me feel really good considering right now, I'm staring off into the forest. We built our house. I purposefully had the architect put a giant window right where I knew I'd have my computer so I could be looking out the window at the trees while I'm working, and it's an absolute game-changer.

John:  This is so wonderful because it's free. Beauty is free and it's all around us. And here's a fascinating thing, Ben, that research shows that people in hospital recover faster, need less pain medication, and they're released sooner if they simply have a window that looks on nature. The healing power of beauty to the human heart, the human mind, the human soul, and the human body is so wonderful, and it's all around us. I'm just trying to help people pause and let it in, the rain on the city streets at night, sound of the birds in the morning, the way the sunlight is coming through your kitchen window. You just pause. Let beauty heal your soul in the midst of a pretty wired world.

Ben:  Yeah. Do you ever meditate for a longer period of time than, say, like a minute or 10 minutes?

John:  Oh yes, of course. Yeah. In fact, when we built the app, my colleagues were urging us to, “Hey, do a 3-minute, do a 5-minute, do a 10-minute version.” And I'm like, “Nobody is going to use the 10.” I'm trying to convince people to stop for 60 seconds and it sounds like a really big ask. But during the pandemic, here is the fascinating thing, is the use of the 10-minute pause was the second most popular feature in the app, that people really found that 10 minutes was rescuing down. So, I was super encouraged by that. But yes, my morning thing is a morning walk, hike with the dogs. And when I get in nature and I get in the woods, I've got time there to slow down, breathe, let it go, and just begin to tune back into beauty, presence of God with my own soul needs. Yeah. Sometimes those are much longer than 10 minutes.

Ben:  Oh, yeah. I totally hear. I've been walking so much–because I hung up my racing hat last year because I was competing heavily in triathlon and Spartan racing all the way up until last year. And as soon as I quit that and replaced most of my runtime with walk time, it's just a game-changer because you're able to meditate and enjoy nature and beauty. Your own breath dwell with your thoughts a little bit more intensively when you're walking versus running. And I'm nearly addicted to walking. I probably walk like 5 to 7 miles a day. And a week from now, I'm headed off in New Mexico for an elk hunt. So, lately, I've still been walking with a pretty heavy pack on, which is slightly distracting, yet I have found walking to be probably one of the more grounding activities in addition to meditation, breathwork, and sauna that's just integral to my daily routine.

John:  I really love to hear that, especially from you of all people because I was a runner, too. Yup. And I actually gave it up because it was just more of my drivenness. And that's not true for everybody. I've got friends who run, and for them, it's absolutely life giving, and they find everything we're describing in it. They find the beauty, they find the soul care, they find God. But I stopped because I just needed to slow everything down. My life's too fast. The world's too fast. Yeah. It's a fascinating thing to point out, by the way, that the average pace of human life for thousands of years was three miles an hour. Okay. Like just to compare it to our modern moment. Three miles an hour was how everybody moved because everybody walk somewhere. And I love it that you found the joy in that as well.

Ben:  Yeah. And a lot of people, they run simply because of what forward motion can do to you. Dr. Andrew Huberman, who's a neuroscientist at Stanford, really cool guy. He's a friend of mine and he's actually studied and found that forward movement or forward progress, whether it's riding a bike, or whether it's running, or whether it's walking, or anything that's convincing your brain that you're progressing forward is actually a pretty cool remedy for fear, or stress, or anxiety, or depression because you literally suppress the section of the amygdala responsible for those hardwired responses, and you secrete dopamine when you're stepping forward. And a lot of people think you have to run to do that, but something as simple as walking achieves that same forward action that literally suppresses the amygdala's activation of fear, and stress, and anxiety, and a lot of these built-in things that when we're not making forward progress, we feel more intensively. So, I think there's something going on there from a neuroscientific standpoint as well, just the forward motion of walking.

John:  And the other thing that it addresses, Ben, we are addicted to efficient state. You hear people use the phrase, for example, “I got to fit a workout in. I got to get it in.” In other words, it's something to be jammed into an already full day and walking is so countercultural because we're not striving to accomplish one more thing. It's really quite beautiful in the way that it just slows you down out of the madness of the world and out of that need to be efficient, the need to be performing, the need for everything to be over the top, which I think is also driven by the massive amount of uncertainty in the world right now. We're being kept in a constant state of uncertainty. The economy is uncertain, the politics are uncertain, school is uncertain. All that's really actually very brutal on our humanity, and we can be driven by it. We can be compelled to try and overcome the uncertainty with even the way that we're trying to work out.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. It makes me think that perhaps walking backwards might produce the opposite response though. So, be careful, people, which direction that you walk. It needs to be forward progress. That's actually interesting what you say about fear of the unknown, John, because I went down and did this Kokoro training camp in Encinitas where they–it's kind of like Navy SEAL Hell Week for civilians where they put you through everything you do during Hell Week except the guns and the boats. And one thing that they do there is they make sure that you don't know what's coming at any given point. You don't know what the next, say, evolution is going to be, whether it's a 26-mile night hike or a beat-down with burpees, or going to just freeze your butt off in the Pacific Ocean for hours at a time.

And it's very interesting because if you know everything that's coming ahead, if you know, let's say, the next exercise in your workout, or how long you need to be in a cold tub, or anything like that, it's very simple to do. Like you can wrap your head around and get through just fine. As soon as you introduce the unknown, I don't know what aspect of this workout is coming next, or I don't know what part of this beat-down is going to involve, how many burpees I have to do. I'm just going to go until they tell me I stop. I don't know if it's going to be an hour or three hours. Down there, they call it mind effing where they're just like playing with your brain. They did the same thing in the SEALs. It does create mental resilience, but at the same time, that fear of the unknown, that fear of uncertainty, that unsettling sense that you don't know what's coming next is extremely, extremely stressful. And it's interesting because one of the things that they taught us at that camp was when you're in that time, return to your breath, return to your breath, whether it's box breathing or that deep nasal breath in and the exhale out. It really centers you. Bring us full circle to this concept of meditation and forward progress being very well suited, especially to the times that we're in right now.

Now, your website is called Wild at Heart. It's at wildatheart.org for anybody who wants to go to explore John's podcasts and his books. It's an excellent website, really great blog as well. But the question I want to ask you was, why Wild at Heart? What's that title mean exactly?

John:  There is something very deep in the heart of little boys. If you watch what they love, if you invite them into adventure, little boys are not wired to sit still for eight hours a day. There's something wild in a goodness in them. Now, obviously, there's things that need to be parented and shepherded and guided into healthy expressions of wildness. But Wild at Heart came out of what I think is deep in the heart of the masculine soul and has been stolen in the world. The world sets out to strip men of wildness. I mean, why are little boys drugged? School systems recommend medication for boys three times the rate of girls. Why is that? It's because there is wildness there inherent to our design. It's actually meant to be really good. It's risk-taking, it's daring, it's courage, it's all the stuff you've been doing and living for. And then, that became the book, and that became the centerpiece of what we do.

Ben:  And actually, you tie that into a question. You say all men carry this question inside of them. I thought that was a really interesting section of the book. Can you unpack that what that question is that you think all guys have that's like this uniquely masculine question?

John:  Yeah. Again, if you look at the need of little boys, he gets the bike, he learns to ride, and then he wants to ride with no hands. And he gets the trampoline and he learns to bounce, but then he wants to do flips. There's this question, this pushing, this need for validation. It's the core need of the masculine soul. And the question is, do I have what it takes? Do I have what it takes? And it's a question that is actually so formational in a boy's life that if it doesn't get answered well, it shapes him into the man that he's become today. So, if he's over the top and driven and super controlling, he doesn't know he has what it takes, but he's domineering. He's trying to prove that he has what it takes way too much time at work, et cetera. Or it may go the other direction. He may go passive, he may go silent, he might not take the promotion, he might not take the invitation to go with the guys on a road trip because he doesn't know that he has what it takes, so he may retrieve, he may go passive.

You can see that's shaping the lives of men today and it's such a core need in a boy's life. And it was primarily meant to come from his father. The boy looks to his father for love and validation. “Dad, do I have what it takes? Did you see the way I did that? Are you proud of me?” And then, the design was that over the course of his life, the father would take his son through a number of experiences where he discovers, “Hey, I do have what it takes.” And it builds resiliency, it builds a courage, it builds a settledness so that when he does enter the great challenges of his adult life, he knows who he is as a man.

Ben:  Do you think that part of that idea of “Do I have what it takes?” is related to the rite of passage that we see woven into a lot of cultures that is uniquely absent a lot of times in Western culture? But this idea that at some point during adolescence, or the passage into adulthood, a boy is given the chance to prove, so to speak, that they actually do have what it takes to become a man. What's your take on the whole rites of passage thing?

John:  There's two ways to think about this. Your initiation journeys that most cultures embraced for thousands of years prior to the Industrial Revolution. And then, there was what we might call like blessing ceremonies, the bar mitzvah, the ritual of becoming a young man. One is a process, the other is a moment, a celebration, and both are needed. It's not enough to just say to a young man, “You're amazing. We're proud of you. You have what it takes.” He has to discover for himself. And this begins somewhere in early adolescence. Right around 12, 13 years old, you are going to see this come screaming to the forefront of the boy's need. He wants higher adventures. He wants bigger challenges. And again, this expresses itself in a lot of different ways. For one boy, he needs to climb a mountain. For another boy, he needs to learn how to navigate the subways in New York.

So, if he's raised in the country and he's good with machinery, that's not his frontier. He needs a different frontier. If he's raised in the city, and he has never driven a tractor or an ATV, then that is his frontier and he needs to go do that. But yes, the loss of the initiation rituals that take a boy through a series, I call this the cowboy stage, where we get to talk about “Fathered by God,” I call this the cowboy stage because in the teenage years, a young man needs hard work and he needs adventures because both things call him out that. There are challenges, they strengthen him, and it is building a bedrock conviction in him that I can handle my life. I can handle life.

Ben:  Does that have anything to do with the poser that you talked about in the book? Because you discussed like this false self. And I'm curious if you explain what the poser is and where that comes into the picture.

John:  Yup. Because again, most men as boys do not get their core question answered very well. Either their dad was just gone, he just worked, or maybe he divorced and left the family. So, he was absent, or he was emotionally absent. He might have been physically present, but he was emotionally checked out, or worse. They were physically abused, sexually abused by their dads or by the men in their life. So, the core question does not get a healthy, robust answer. They end up with a very deep wound in soul and a very deep doubt that they are a man. And so, then the way they handle it is one of two directions. They either go over the top or they go pass it. So, they become the guy with the truck, with the huge tires, or he's got the six-figure income and he's on his third wife, and he's trying to prove something to the world.

But you get around those guys and it feels over the top. It's like a little too much, a little too many tattoos, a little too much leather. Or you get the guy who's full-on, checked out, and he's silent, he's not present, he's passing. He won't take the promotion, he won't take the risk of starting his own business, he just won't risk it. So, those are extremes, but you can see men fall into those two things and they're posing. The poser is basically built to do this. It's to protect you from any form of exposure, or people would find out he's not the real deal. But it's also designed, the poser is also designed to get you a little bit of the validation that you were meant to have. Like if you're a phenomenal athlete, you're killing it there, but that guy may not know how to talk to his 16-year-old daughter. And so, it's not a strength that extends through his whole life. And what we're after, his whole-hearted masculinity. Or a man can be both tender and strong. There are moments where he can take enormous risks, but he also has the wisdom to know there are moments that you don't do that.

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Now, when it comes to kind of getting over that syndrome of being a poser, because I think a lot of men walk around feeling like they need to feign strength and courage, hide cowardice and fear and have almost his false self or false identity. I mean, I tend to think a big part of that is related to being able to go through rite of passage when you're a boy so you don't spend the rest of your life trying to prove to the world that you're a man. But what's your take on the best way to overcome this poser syndrome, so to speak?

John:  Well, let's start with the man because you get all these guys who are going, “Yup, I hear you, and I can't go back to age 13 and do a rite of passage.” The thing is first to get honest with the ways that you're faking it, the ways you're faking involvement, or faking a strength. You're either over the top or you're checked out. Just get honest about the poser and begin to choose otherwise, begin to choose. I was a guy because I grew up in an alcoholic home and my father wounded me terribly. I was a driven, driven, driven guy, 4.0 student. But all of that was, “Will you like me? Will you like me? Will you like me?” And I always had to be the guy who was liked. And I just began to back away when I saw the poser. As a grown man, I didn't discover any of this in my own life until I was in my 30s.

As a grown man, I just began to choose against that and go, “You know, I'm really faking it. Why am I faking it? I don't want to fake it anymore.” So, you begin to choose away from the poser, you lay down the pieces of the false self that you can, but then you've also got to deal still with the core question. In the core question, “Do I have what it takes?” you still need an answer to that in healthy ways. By the way, this is a fascinating thing, but this is actually the key to pornography. Pornography has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with the search for validation.

Ben:  Really?

John:  Yeah. The man feels like a man for a moment. It feels alive. That wild heart gets to feel alive for a moment.

Ben:  Really? You don't think it's due to like the dopaminergic response to just being able to have unfettered access to a wide variety of potential mates? I think it's the website yourbrainonporn.com that lays things out that way that's like this ancestral or evolutionary neurotransmitter hardwired response that we're simply not equipped to be able to deal with mentally without just going into neurotransmitter overdrive. You don't think it's related to like a dopaminergic response?

John:  Well, of course, of course. So, we're not just body's results, we are human beings. You have a personality, you have a mind, you have a heart that goes beyond your neurochemistry. We do not want to reduce human beings to hormonal impulses. You'd never want to do that. You never want to take away what Pascal called the dignity of causation. Human beings are phenomenal, phenomenal creatures with creativity, and capacities, and courage, and suffering, and we don't want to reduce that to neurochemistry. So, yes, of course, it was William Blake who said, “The naked woman's body is too much of eternity for the eye of man to behold.” Yes. Beauty causes chemical reactions, of course. It's like, “Whoa.” But you've got to go back to the search for validation and some of the core things that drive men for one thing to restore the dignity of causation to a guy.

So, what I would say is you have to deal with your father wound, you have. Thirty years of being a therapist, I guarantee, how your parents, father and mother, handled your wild heart as a boy, because we're focused on boys right now, and the wounds that you received in your childhood have shaped you into the person that you are today, what you were shamed for, what you were rewarded for, all that. Not only do you have to lay the poser down, but you also have to begin to deal with that stuff so that you can become more full-hearted.

Ben:  How do you actually get over the father wound piece?

John:  Can we do a three-part series on this?

Ben:  Is that one of those “how much time you got” questions?

John:  Yeah. Well, of course, it is because we're talking about people's stories. Your life is a story, and everyone's story is very complex and beautiful, but also filled with suffering. I can't just give you a quick answer, but I'll give your listeners a little bit of direction. At some point, you are going to need to forgive your dad, or your mom, or who it was that really broke your heart, that really hurt you, first girlfriends, and all that stuff. Forgiveness is enormously healing. It's incredibly powerful and it enables you to move beyond the wound. And it was only when I began to realize that my alcoholic father also had an alcoholic one. I began to see his life with compassion instead of anger. I'm just angry at it and I was able to see him as a broken human being as well, and forgiving him was an enormous part of the healing process.

Ben:  Now, what about this concept of having another father in place? I think it was in your book that I discovered this, that no matter how bad or how disconnected, or how distant, or even how poor relationship you had with your father, that we always have this father at hand in the form of God, a great father, great creator, that we can turn into and depend upon our father, even when a father is absent.

John:  Not only that, I always thought, yeah, yeah, right. Some people get great dads, some daughters have wonderful relationships with their dads, and then the rest of us, well, you drew the B card so you get God. That's not actually how the universe is desired. God was always meant to be our father. He was always meant to be the source of love and security, and I would add validation and delight. And so, yes, the good news of the Christian faith is that you have a loving father who cares very much about the wounds that you've taken, who knows the struggle of your life, and can bring the validation and, back to the rite of passage, and can bring still the initiation that you need.

So, I'm a suburbs guy and I love the mountains. I do all the things for joy. Take me to the mountains.

Ben:  Where do you live, by the way?

John:  I live in Colorado, Colorado Springs Park.

Ben:  Okay. Yeah. You got access to mountains.

John:  Yup, yup. So, you were talking about elk, and I drew a great elk archery tag and I'm going out for archery elk next week. However, I don't live in that world. I live in the normal–I have an office, I work on a computer most of the day, I do Skype, and Zoom, and Slack, and all that stuff. And there's a lot of me, because of my alcoholic dad and all of that, there's a lot of me as a man that didn't get some of the initiation I needed. So, this weekend, we've got a little bit of acreage and I got one of those small farm tractors that just let you move dirt around, and I have flat tire. I don't know how to fix a flat tire on tractor, but it took two hours to just settle down and do it and figure it out. It was very frustrating at first. It was very rewarding at the end. The reason I'm telling that story is most men are misinterpreting the hassles in their life. We look at hassles as abandonment, like, “Come on, God. Where are you? Good grief!” When what He's doing is the initiation process that we missed. He is initiating us through hardship. How do you shape boys into men? Largely through hardship.

Ben:  Now, this idea of hardship is related to what you get into in the rest of the book where you talked about how men have three core desires, battle, adventure, and beauty, which you alluded to earlier. Would you say that immersing oneself or making sure that we as men or as a woman who's with a man or raising a boy, one of the best things that we could do is to actually ensure that we are engaged in those three aspects like battle or fighting, and whether it's, let's say, jujitsu or noon ball at the gym with basketball or tennis league or something like that, adventure in terms of maybe taking up hunting or occasionally going on some kind of a quarterly challenge that might be scary, like maybe, whatever, triathlon or adventure race or an obstacle course race, and maybe the beauty piece is just walking in nature or something else like you've just described, or music, or art, or story, or any of these things, would you say that those three things woven into a man's life is what would actually help when it comes to growing as a man to surround yourself with battle, and adventure, and beauty?

John:  Yeah. You just did a beautiful summary. I can just go, “Yup. That was really good.”

Ben:  Okay. Good. I'm hired. What I find fascinating is, because I've read a book like, what is it, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover,” which is an interesting way to layout the phases of a man's life. But I almost liked your approach better in your book that was related to what we're talking about right now called “Learning What Your Dad Could Never Teach You: Fathered by God.”

You actually have six different stages of manhood that you get into there, and I think it would be super interesting for folks if you could just briefly walk us through each of those phases and what they are, because I feel like I'm maybe somewhere in between like a warrior and a king stage right now at this phase of my life. But can you detail what those are for people?

John:  Yeah. And again, I'd love to, I'd do that. The goal is wholeheartedness. So, when you hear these stages and you go, “Oh my gosh, I never got any of that. I'm [00:43:12] _____.” Nope. All of this can still come to you if you are 30, 60, or 90. Wholeheartedness is still available. So, as you listen to these stages, you go, “Yeah. Did I get that? I think I need some more of that.” So, you begin with what I call the beloved son. The stage of boyhood is a stage where you need to know that you are the apple of your father's eye. Before the question of “Do I have what it takes?” the core need of the boy is actually love. It's the core need of every human being. But there's a sense of, “I am the beloved son. So, there's storytime, there's wrestling, there's Nerf gun wars, there's Legos. I have my father's delight. My father loves to spend time with me.” And that builds a foundation of security because if you are rooted and grounded in love, then when the hardship comes, and when the training comes, and the difficulty comes, it doesn't feel like abandonment. Okay. So, beloved son is the first stage.

Ben:  Okay. And just to jump in here real quick, would you say then that if a father is listening in, for me as a father, one of the best things that I could do then is ensure that my son is seen, that they're noticed, that they're loved, like boys want to be seen essentially as the way that would look?

John:  Yes. Well, for who they are. And this is very important because we were talking when you were summarizing battle, adventure, beauty, I wanted to add, but tailor it to the uniqueness of the boy because one boy's venture would terrify another boy. Some boys are wired, say, get on dirt bikes and go race around. But for another boy, what he needs to do is travel and go see London. So, all of this is tailored to the boy, but you have my delight, you have my time, you have my affection. That is boyhood. And it allows for a time of curiosity and a time of wonder. I'll move through the stages pretty quickly, and then if we want to unpack, then we can.

Ben:  Around the time of adolescence, exactly when you were describing the need for initiation is what I call the cowboy stage. And I don't mean by that, you got to go get a horse. What I mean is that the need for higher levels of adventure and for hard work really began to kick in. Now, I think the little boy needs to clean his room. I don't think you raise spoiled brats. I think he does part of the family chores, but it's fascinating to see around the age of 12 or 13, the boy, the question, “Do I have what it takes?” starts screaming. And he knows he needs an answer. And so, he tries out for the [00:46:01] _____, or this is when he goes on his first trip, and maybe he travels by himself to go see an aunt or an uncle, or he goes on a semester abroad, which are fabulous types of ways of initiating voice. It's out of your comfort zone, it's risk-taking, and it's discovering, “Whoa, I can handle that. I can handle life. I have what it takes.”

And so, the cowboy stage goes from about 13 to about 18, and I do think it's very physical. Boys are physically wired. Now, even if they're not, what we have now is the whole video age, and he's going to say, “No, no, no. I don't want to go ride mountain bikes. I want to play video games.” Don't take the video games away, you don't want to make that your war, but you do need to insist that they are involved in what I would call reality, real things. Dig a hole, fix a fence, paint the house, learn how to change the oil in your car. Doing real things is so essential for boys becoming men and not just doing digital things. So, that's the stage of the cowboy, and it is I think where vision quests and rites of passage and those things take place in this era.

Ben:  Yeah. That makes sense.

John:  Around the age of 18, 19, two phases begin to come in, and these next two stages are overlapped, the warrior and the lover. But I would put the warrior first, and there is a reason why. The man needs a mission. This is the whole thing on strength and validation. The guys got to have purpose. The reason men die after they retire is they feel like they've lost the purpose of their life.

Ben:  Right.

John:  It's not true, but you can feel like it because men are so wired to come through. Men are made to come through. They're made to do stuff, make a difference in the world, start a company, teach English, fight for human rights, dig wells, whatever it is. Men are made to come through. And so, the stage of the warrior is the stage where he really begins to take on much more serious battles. My youngest son right now is in grad school. It takes a lot of warrior to get through grad school or med school. For some guys, to just finish high school takes a lot of warrior, it takes perseverance, and strength, and grits, and overcoming fear, and facing dangers, and facing the battles of your life.

So, the warrior stage kicks in now. And it's very interesting that all through cultures, this is pretty much the stage, even here in the U.S., that men go off to war. That's not a mistake, it's just down through history kind of recognize he's ready for that. But it's also the stage of the lover. And this is when in his 20s, the young guy's probably going to fall. He's going to fall in love pretty hard. Now, yes, there's the junior high romances and that sort of thing, but I'm talking, he wants to marry, wants to start a family, wants to find that partner of his life. And it's important that the warrior training, a little bit of warrior training comes first because when you get into relationship, it takes enormous courage to love. Are you kidding me? The number of guys, military guys, that I counsel, full-on Navy SEALs who are scared of their wives. And this guy, he will do anything. He'll walk into a terrorist hell building, but to talk to his wife is terrifying. And the reason is that love is so extraordinarily vulnerable.

Ben:  Yeah.

John:  And to break a man's leg is anything like breaking his heart, right, that line from Seabiscuit. And so, it would be good if there's a little bit of warrior in him, like an encouragement of where he trained before he gets into the most serious relationship with his life. But the lover comes along, and the lover is not just about the woman. And that's why I really like the way you summarize the beauty. It's the awakening of the heart. The man is going to discover that there is a world of beauty. He suddenly discovers classical music, or he begins to write poetry, starts journaling. He loves being outdoors. It's a love of sailing, or he gets on his road bike in the morning and he just rides for an hour because he just loves the cornfields. Its beauty comes into his life. Love comes into his life, romance. Okay.

Ben:  And that's a good clarification, too, because a lot of people riding their bikes through the cornfields, it is an escape, it is trying to prove to the world so they can be ready for their next race to prove to the world that they're a man. It's go, go, go, and it's never actually stopping to smell the roses during that ride. So, I think that's one thing that guys should be aware of. They can weave beauty into your daily practice, and that's certainly something I wish I'd have learned to do earlier in my life. And then, what else is interesting is you talked about how it's important that a man maybe be definitely out of cowboy phase, and hopefully, out of warrior phase, by the time that they're learning to be a lover, perhaps entering into a partnership with a wife, for example. And I think that's one thing that I certainly did differently. Like, I married my wife and then went into warrior stage. After we got married, I started competing in all these races and traveling all over the globe, and trying to prove to the world that I was a man while also trying to love my family and love my wife. And I spent probably like–gosh, I mean, like this is embarrassing to admit, but it was probably like the first 12 years of our marriage just spinning my wheels because I was still out there being a warrior and was not laying the foundation for my family, also being a lover.

And for my own boys, I'm really committed to not only a really solid rite of passage for them and being present as a father, and seeing them in their own unique way as we discussed, but also training them and allowing them to really get the cowboy and the warrior phases out of their system, so to speak, before they begin to build a family, because I think that the order of these phases is actually pretty important.

John:  Yeah, it really is. You and me both, I really hurt my wife in the early years of our marriage because I didn't have an answer to my question. And so, I went out into the world to find one. And for me, it was work, and I wound up in D.C., and was trying to prove myself, and working late hours and weekends, and chasing an answer to a question. And then, leaving a lot of her time, I just left her alone. And every woman's worst fear is being left out, left behind, rejected, betrayed. So, cowboy warrior, please, hopefully, before lover, now it doesn't all get done, and like I was saying, you could be 70 and you go, “Oh, man, I need to go back and get some more cowboy stage in main, and that's a good thing to do for a wholeheartedness.

So, cowboy warrior, lover. And then, around the 40s, you are ready to become a king, and the king is entrusted with the kingdom. And so, he might become the coach of a team. He might become the head of a small business. He's a professor and he has a class or multiple classes every year. He has influence and power over others. And this is the key question. So, to go back to the initiation rituals, the whole question of human cultures all through history is this, when can you trust a man with power? Because if what you have is a boy in a man's body and you give him leadership or loads of money or influence, he's going to blow it up. He's going to wound the people under him because he's a boy and not a man, what he's going to do.

And you can just look at this. You can go, “If he wasn't a beloved son, he starts buying all the toys, and he's got the jet boat, and all that.” Or if he wasn't the lover and now it's the trophy wife, and he abandons the girl's youth and he goes and chases somebody 20 years younger. And you can see this. If he wasn't the warrior and now he's got power and influence, now he dominates because he's looking for a sense of strength. And you go, “You don't get it, pal. You become a king to serve, and you are entrusted with power and influence on behalf of others.” And so, the king stage requires, “When can you entrust a man with power?” is the question of the world. And the answer is only when he's been initiated.

Ben:  Yeah. So, what you're saying is a big, good king has been through the boyhood, cowboy, warrior, and lover stages has, hopefully, also based on the advice that you've given in “Wild at Heart,” express forgiveness towards any father wounds that might be present in his past and is then fully equipped to be a leader, which I would consider to be synonymous with the king. And at that point, I like to think of it as not just being a good lover, but being a father, being a leader of the household, being a rock, being a foundation, and being ultimately someone who's not out chasing dragon, slaying dragons, fighting battle so much anymore, but who is actually doing things like being at home, building a legacy, building a foundation, keeping the family put together, training the princes to go out and conquer the world, the princesses, whatever the case may be.

But that's kind of the phase that I feel like I'm in right now is this king phase, which has been weird for me because it's a less than graceful transition from the warrior phase, I can tell you that. It's super hard for me to wake up in the morning and not feel like I'm preparing myself to go to battle and some kind of a race, and instead, accept that I can just teach my boys to meditate and to sit on the front porch and study God's word, or to take them on my workout with me, despite how annoying that sometimes is, or how much of a sacrifice it feels like, because I'm not training to be a warrior anymore, I'm instead preparing them for that phase while I'm shifting into the king phase.

John:  Yup. It takes a lot of grace, which is why you don't see a lot of good kings. The heartache of the Earth is there are a lot of bad kings?

Ben:  Yeah.

John:  You're in the phase, I would say, through your 40s and 50s, somewhere around 60, you are invited to, I would say, enter the final stage, which is the sage. And this is just as awkward as the transition from warrior to king because at some point, the king has got to turn the wheel over to a younger king. And so, it's time to let the young bucks in the company have more say and more decision making power. You move into a stage where you are the counselor, you are the advisor, you are the mentor, and you are spending most of your time, your free time. Now, you may still have a career, you may still be doing all kinds of adventures, but you spend your time investing in younger men and women. And this is the tragedy of our world right now is where is the gray hair?

Ben:  It's in the hospice, John. It's hidden away. We don't really honor our elders in our society much at all anymore. It's even the idea of–I think this is even fascinating. Even our mothers, it's perhaps a little bit of a disconnect from looking at the fathers and the men as sages as they grow old, but we know that in societies where post-menopausal women would normally die slightly earlier because of the built-in genetics of, “Well, you're not useful for making babies anymore, so nature is now going to slowly allow you to die.” But yet in this whole realm of the so-called grandmother hypothesis, where women are given an honored position of being a matriarchal storyteller, passing on wisdom to future generations, we see that all of the steep decline in mortality in the post-menopausal state seems to disappear because those women are suddenly given a place of position, and honor, and meaning, and purpose in their matriarchal role.

And it seems that the patriarchal role would be this sage that you describe, this ability to be a mentor, to pass on stories to the youth, to not be the dad who you go visit in the nursing home, but instead perhaps the father who's living with you in your household or someone you see frequently who's turn to as the ultimate source of wisdom besides God because they actually have amassed all of these amazing stories and lessons that they can share that it seems like older men are just not given the ability to do much more these days.

John:  Exactly, exactly. Bingo. Yeah. I love what you said about women, too, because it's true. You've paid the price. You've lived through all of your failures, and now you have the wisdom, and the kindness, and the mercy that younger parents don't have to mentor, and love, and shepherd your kids, your grandkids, and everyone else that you can bring your grace to. It's actually a very beautiful stage of life and a very rewarding stage. Because the lie is this, for the king who's been really driven with his success, moving into the sage stage, you'd feel like, “Oh, my influence is waning. I'm not the head guy anymore.” I go, “No, no. It's just the opposite. Your influence is greatest in the stage of the sage.”

Ben:  Yeah. And I think it's powerful, too, especially for men, like many of my listeners, for example, who might be physically fit, but someday are going to be old and wrinkled with low bone density and may be stronger than the average old man, but still the physical body, the flesh will fade away. And yet when it comes to the mind, and the soul, and the ability to be able to pass on these stories, I mean, if you look at it as being a sage or being perhaps a wizard, if you're going to use some other stages of life, I think that's a very powerful phase of life to be. And I certainly find myself even now at 38 years old just thinking ahead with excitedness to the days when I can mentor others and live, not necessarily live vicariously through all these amazing young men who I know I'll be surrounded by, but at least be able to influence them and to mentor them, and hopefully, pass on some of my wisdom. I'm actually very much relishing and looking forward to the ability to be able to be that sage. And for those of you listening in, by the way, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/wildatheart, I'm going to link to all of John's books, including this book “Fathered by God,” in which he really unpacks these six phases quite nicely.

And we touched on the matriarchal role there for just a moment, John, but as I briefly mentioned in the introduction, you wrote a book on relationships called “Love and War,” which you co-authored with your wife. And first of all, I'm just curious what that was like writing a book with your wife because I can only imagine.

John:  Well, I would not recommend it until you've both done some counseling because you don't want the writing process to be the first time that you're encountering that stuff. But we had it, we both had, and we've both been through personal counseling, we've both been through marriage counseling before we took on a book on marriage. But just to show you that the guy thing, we would write together on relationships, and love, and perseverance, and all that, good communication. And then, I go get on my son's go-kart and I'd ride around the street just because I need a gasoline for a while.

Ben:  Now, this book, I actually haven't read the entire book “Love and War.” Interestingly, my wife has. She got that book and read it as part of a women's group that she was going through. I haven't delved into that one, in the same way, I haven't yet delved into your book on the–what's the new one again in which you described pausing and–

John:  “Get Your Life Back.”

Ben:  Yeah, “Get Your Life Back.” So, I haven't yet read the entirety of “Love and War,” but I know a big part of it is teaching how men and women can really grow together spiritually, how a husband and wife team, for example, can grow together. And what I actually wanted to ask you was just from a real, real practical boots in the street standpoint, what your advice would be for couples to grow together, because one thing that I've found is that, especially as a man, I get all these interests, like whatever. I might be interested in new sport, like really working on my tennis game, and joining a tennis club, and playing Men's League more often, or really interested in hunting and going off on multiple hunts per year, or even interested in things like plant medicine and going and trying like an ayahuasca retreat and things of this nature. And yet it seems like many of these things seem to take me away from my wife, or seem to be something that she might not be interested in, so it almost feels as though we're growing apart when I'm engaged in some of these personal pursuits. And while I don't think that it's wrong for a guy to have his own kind of personal hobbies and personal interests, I also really want to highlight the importance of growing together. And I'm curious if you could give the audience some advice, if they are with their partner, how they can actually grow together with their partner as they journey through life.

John:  Yeah. I'm going to start with play together. You got to play. And so, I don't know what it is for you, but you got to find it. And guys, if you're really single-minded in your dirt bikes or whatever, you're going to have to find something else. Maybe it's travel and you enjoy that, or you start road biking together, you take up tennis. You got to play. You got to play together because there's joy and laughter in it. It's just absolute vitamin D for a marriage. You also need to pray together. And it's awkward, and it's clunky, but you are stronger together, and especially over the important things of your life, big decision, selling the house, helping your kids get through college, how much do we do, what do we have, all that stuff. Kids with learning disability or special needs, my goodness, pray together, even if it's two minutes in the morning. “Lord, help us with our day. Help us with our daughter. Show us what to do, just to do that together.”

Ben:  Yeah. My wife and I started doing that, by the way, about three months ago and it's absolutely amazing. And sometimes I'm really tired and she prays, or she's really tired and I pray, even as our partner is just like literally falling asleep and their eyes are rolling back in their head. But that idea of praying–and we simply, the two of us, we keep a shared Google Doc on our computer that whenever we ask someone, because with increasing frequency when I'm finishing up a dinner party or something like that, I'll just simply turn to the people around me and say, “Hey, what can I pray for you for?” And it's really cool to go around the table and have people share. And then, I'll go back and I'll transfer this into that Google Doc, so I keep them top of mind.

So, my wife and I always have this list that we can pray for. And we don't necessarily pray for everything at the end of the day because if we did, we'd probably up 'til midnight, but we just go through a few of the things that are nearest and dearest to our hearts, or that we really feel burdened to pray together about in the evening. And it's actually turned into a really special time together and sometimes we'll literally fall asleep in each other's arms praying, which is just absolutely amazing.

John:  Super romantic. The last thing I'd suggest is read together. We literally read out loud to one another, or sometimes we will simply read the same book at the same time so we can talk about it. So, you have an intellectual life, and you have an adventure life, and you have romance. You need all of that.

Ben:  I feel like even though I haven't read all of “Love and War,” that my wife and I are doing some of these things. We just got done reading together excellent book. Have you read “Desiring God” by John Piper, John?

John:  Yeah. Great, great, great. Yup.

Ben:  Yeah. Because both of us really wanted to find more joy and happiness just in our day-to-day existence, and this book was amazing, and we simply commit to each other. She's dyslexic. And so, she got the audio version. She listened to it and I read it. And what we did at the end of the day each evening, because we had a commitment to each other to do one chapter a day, is we would simply discuss right before we do that prayer of, “Was there anything interesting? What was your takeaway from “Desiring God?” And now, our hearts are more focused on being really good missionaries in terms of spreading the hope that is within us to others. And so, we're going through a book on missions and helping others right now, but it's the same deal. She's listening to it, I'm reading it, and it actually really is cool not only from an accountability standpoint, but it just feels as though we're more spiritually intertwined.

And then, the last part about playing together for us, it's been tennis. Actually, I quit the Men's League. I quit playing tennis with the guys and just decided, “You know what, I got to make a decision. There's only 24 hours in a day.” So, now my wife and I play tennis once a week together, and then we take the kids out and play doubles tennis with the family twice a week. It seems small, it seems trite, but again just for us to be able to go out and hit the ball together, and laugh, and play, it makes the relationship at home feel like it's less of just the two of us at work all day long, trying to make the household work together, and instead just introduces more fun play into our lives. I would say that and then our family game nights. We have these extensive family dinners where we'll sit around playing Quiddler, and Scrabble, and Boggle, and Canasta, and TENS! We have like 10 different games that we'll pull out and play. So, we have those family playtimes together at night. And my wife and I realized we like those so much when the boys are gone, when they're at youth group, or when they're overnight at a friend's house. My wife and I still pull out a bunch of board games and we'll have these hour-and-a-half-long dinners together. We're just playing Scrabble and it's amazing.

John:  Yeah. I think, yeah. Stasi and I are big Scrabble players, too. It's good. It's good for the marriage.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Now, I know that the women listening in perhaps didn't get quite as much as the men in terms of a few takeaways from our conversation thus far, but I know that one concept that you've explored in another book that you wrote, I don't know if you co-wrote this one with your wife or not, but I think it was called “Captivating,” right?

John:  Yeah. We co-wrote that together.

Ben:  Okay. What does it mean for a woman to be captivating?

John:  Well, it goes back to the core desires. So, if a little boy has got two core needs, I mentioned the need for love to know he's the beloved son, and I mentioned the need for validation, “Do I have what it takes?” Little girl's needs are a little bit different. Yes, love, absolutely. But I think I would put it as delight. She wants to be seen and she wants to be delighted in, also by daddy, by the way. Gender identity is bestowed by the father. And then, her second core need is along the lines of that relational gifting and the fear of abandonment. It goes something like, “Will I be chosen? Will anyone fight for me?” And then, as you shepherd and parent a resilient daughter's heart, I think they're wild at heart, too, I think they love adventure, I think they're meant for mission. They, too, obviously love and enjoy beauty. But there's something very, very unique to a young girl's heart and to her development, which we unpacked in that book “Captivating.”

Ben:  What did you mean by that when you said that a woman's sexual identity is formed by her father?

John:  Gender identity.

Ben:  Oh, gender identity.

John:  Masculinity. And psychologically, the impact of the father on the formation of gender identity is absolutely massive.

Ben:  Interesting. And so, would you say then the father, in the same way that he should be present and see his son for who he is to help his son through that phase of boyhood and the cowboyhood, that you could say something similar for a little girl, that it's just as important that little girl be with her father, and seen by her father, and recognized by her father as it would be for her to be mentored by her mother?

John:  Yes, right. She learns the nature of femininity from her mom. She learns the value of it from her dad.

Ben:  Interesting. The last thing that I wanted to mention was I just finished a book, like I had mentioned, by Morgan Snyder called “Becoming a King.” It was actually really, really good, and I think it just unpacked the entire king phase, that fifth phase right before the sage that we talked about in a really good way. I just got into hunting and wilderness exploration, and just being a man, and kind of wove a lot of spiritual concepts in there. Was he just like a young man who you mentored? How involved were you with the writing of that book?

John:  Well, his office is next to mine.

Ben:  Okay.

John:  Morgan is part of “Wild at Heart.” He's been with us for more than 20 years. So, yeah, he grew up here and he is a phenomenal leader now. He's a very good king, and a really good writer. That's a killer book.

Ben:  Oh, yeah, yeah. It was really good. It was one of the few books that I actually listened to. My wife tends to listen to books more frequently, but I began to listen a little bit here and there, and I listened to “Becoming a King,” and I found it to be one of the few audiobooks that I could listen to while I was actually working out because it actually had a lot of manhood and toughness woven into it. And I actually enjoyed listening to the book while I was hitting the weights in the gym. So, that also was an excellent title and I'll recommend it to those of you listening in, this book “Becoming a King” along with “Wild at Heart,” and then “Fathered by God.” Those are the three that I've read. Like I mentioned, I've touched into “Love and War.” I haven't finished it yet, but it appears to be another really good book. And then, I've got this other book, the newer title that you have, John, one more time, what's that one called?

John:  “Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad.”

Ben:  Yeah. And that one just came out this year. And so, I'll link to all these books, if you guys are listening in, and you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/wildatheart, if you want to dig into John, his podcast, his website “Wild at Heart,” and more of what he's done, because I've actually found a lot of his wisdom to be especially useful for my own life. And I think you should grab that Pause app and try it, too. And I'll link to that, too, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/wildatheart.

John, this has been really good, man. I truly appreciate your time, the books that you've written. I would say you definitely seem to be in a little bit of a sage phase yourself and I appreciate you being able to mentor and lead all of my listeners in a really good direction on today's show.

John:  It's been an honor, Ben. Thanks for having me on.

Ben:  Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with John Eldredge signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.

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 hormone, 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. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.



John Eldredge is a bestselling author, counselor, and teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God’s love, and learn to live in God’s kingdom. John and his wife, Stasi, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

John has written several books in the realm of fatherhood and family that I hold dear, including Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul, Fathered by God: Learning What Your Dad Could Never Teach You, Waking The Dead: The Secret to a Heart Fully Alive, and Love & War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage.

Lately, I've been taking a brief 1 to 10-minute “pause” during the day to connect with my breath, myself, and most importantly, God. The One Minute Pause app that I've been using is a simple way to reconnect with God in the midst of a busy day. John Eldredge is also the “voice” of this app, which invites you into the simple practice of releasing everything to God, restoring your union with God, and inviting Him into your heart. The length of time is perfect, and the music/breath pacing has been working very well for me. You can click here to give it a try!

During this discussion with John, you'll discover:

-How John became interested in meditation initially…7:05

-Benevolent detachment, and other simple practices for a world gone mad…12:00

  • Assuming the crazy, looking for simple things to do during the day
  • John’s latest book Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad
  • Healing power of beauty; beauty is free and is all around us
  • Minimize technology
  • The goal is a restorative experience
  • Research shows that people in hospitals recover faster, need less pain medication, and are released sooner if they have a window that looks out on nature; Healing power of beauty is wonderful

-A deeper dive into John's meditation practice…14:23

  • John was skeptical a 10-minute version of the One Minute Pause meditation app would be popular
    • 10-minute pause has become the second most popular feature in the app during the pandemic
  • The pandemic forced people into a state of solitude and silence
  • Morning routine consists of a walk in the sunshine
    • Meditation while walking is a game-changer; meditate while enjoying nature
    • Ben walks 5 to 7 miles a day; found walking to be as effective as breathwork, meditation, sauna, etc. for its grounding effects; integral to his daily routine
  • John was also a runner; stopped in order to slow everything down; life’s too fast, the world’s too fast
  • Average pace of human life for thousands of years was 3 miles an hour; that's how everybody moved because everybody walked (the human race moved 3 mph until very recently)

-How our “addiction to efficiency” may be causing fear, anxiety, depression, etc…18:00

  • Dr. Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist at Stanford, found that forward motion, anything that convinces your brain that you are progressing forward is a remedy for fear, stress, and anxiety
  • Forward movement causes the brain to release dopamine
  • Walking is counter to the madness of the world; the need to always be performing
  • Massive uncertainty in the world today
  • “Return to the breathing” when dealing with constant uncertainty

-The uniquely masculine question in the hearts of all boys and men…21:30

  • John's website Wild At Heart
  • Something deep in the heart of little boys; boys are not wired to sit still 8 hours a day; a good “wildness” within them
  • The world has stripped boys and men of this wildness
  • Always seeking validation from his father; “Do I have what it takes?”
  • If the question is not answered well, it shapes who the boy becomes as a man

-Rites of passage, ceremonies celebrating manhood, and answering the big question all boys ask…25:00

  • Initiation journey; most cultures embrace rites of passage
  • Blessing ceremonies
  • One is a process; the other is an event
  • A young man must discover for himself: “Do I have what it takes”
  • “Cowboy stage” of life (teenage years)
  • Hard work and adventure challenge the boy, build confidence in the ability to handle life

-The “poser” and the false self…27:15

  • The Poser – often the result of an absent father, be it emotional, physical, abusive, etc.
  • Two extremes: over the top masculinity, or withdrawal from manhood
  • A fear of others finding out they “don't have what it takes” is at the root
  • Wholehearted masculinity is the objective; both tender and strong

-How to overcome the poser syndrome…32:00

  • First become honest with how you're faking strength, involvement, etc.
  • Begin to choose otherwise
  • You still need an answer to the core question in a healthy way
  • Pornography has to do with the search for validation (feels alive for a moment)
  • We're not just bodies or souls; we are human beings; we have personalities, minds, hearts that goes beyond our neurochemistry
  • We do not want to reduce human beings to hormonal impulses
  • We do not want to take away what Pascal called the “dignity of causation”
  • Human beings are phenomenal creatures
  • William Blake: “The naked woman's body is too much of eternity for the eye of man to behold”
  • How your parents handle the wild heart shape you into the person you are today

-How to get over the “father wound piece”…36:45

-Six stages of manhood…43:00

  • 1. The beloved son (seen/loved for who they are)
    • Before the question of “Do I have what it takes?”, the core need of a boy is love
    • Sense of “I am the beloved son”
    • Builds a foundation of security
    • Does not feel like abandonment when the hardship, training/difficulty comes
  • 2. Cowboy stage (adolescence, need for hard work and high levels of adventure)
    • “Do I have what it takes” screams
    • Ways of initiating boys – out of your comfort zone, risk-taking
    • Discovering “I can handle that” – I can handle life, I have what it takes
    • Age 13 to about 18 – very physical
    • Do real things; dig a hole, fix the fence, paint the house; as well as digital things
  • 3. Warrior
    • A man needs a mission in life
    • The man needs to have a purpose – strength and validation
    • The reason men die after they retire is they feel like they have lost the purpose for their lives
    • Men are wired to do stuff; make a difference in the world
  • 4. Lover
    • Warrior training comes first; it takes enormous courage to love properly
    • Love is vulnerable; awakening of the heart
    • Learn to weave beauty into everyday life
  • 5. King entrusted with a kingdom (40s)
    • Has influence and power over others;
    • Key question: The whole question of all cultures all through history  – When can you trust a man with power?
    • A boy in a man's body given leadership: loads of money, or influence, is going to blow it up; ruin the people under him; only when a man has been initiated can you entrust him with power
    • You become a king to serve
    • The heartache of the earth – there are a lot of bad kings
  • 6. The sage
    • Turn the power over to a younger king
    • Move into a stage where you are the counselor, advisor, mentor; spending time investing in younger people
    • The stage in which influence is the greatest
  • Order of these phases is important

-Advice for couples to grow in grace together…1:01:45

-What it means for a woman to be “captivating”…1:09:45

  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
    • Little girls' core needs are a little different:
      • Love/delight – want to be seen and delighted; gender identity is bestowed by the father
      • Will I be chosen; will anyone fight for me
    • Psychologically, the impact of the father on gender identity is “massive”
    • Girls learn the nature of femininity from their mother; learns the value of it from the father
  • Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

– John Eldredge:

– Other books and resources:

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