How to Cage the Monkey Mind (#175)

This episode is a little different. I visited the Googleplex — the Mountain View-based headquarters of Google — and had a public chat. I was interviewed and made sure that we covered some ground that has not been discussed before. There were questions such as:

  • What has been the most important Stoic teaching that I’ve come across?
  • How do I manage the many requests I receive?
  • What are the factors or elements that have led to the success of the podcast?
  • Where do I see myself in five years?
  • If I could pick three people — alive or dead — to be in my personal board of directors, who would they be?
  • How do I experiment with my dog training?
  • What are my recommendations for longevity?
  • How do I fight insomnia?
  • And much, much more…

If you only have 5 minutes, here’s how I cage my monkey mind.

As always, I hope you enjoy this episode and find it useful.

#175: How to Cage the Monkey Mind

Want to hear another podcast packed full of actionable tips that I use in my own life? — Listen to this short episode on the magic of mindfulness. In this episode, I discuss how to complain less, appreciate more, and live a better life (stream below or right-click here to download):

#122: The Magic of Mindfulness: Complain Less, Appreciate More, and Live a Better Life

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This episode is also brought to you by Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation app (with more than 4,000,000 users). It’s used in more than 150 countries, and many of my closest friends swear by it. Try Headspace’s free Take10 program — 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. It’s like a warm bath for your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Try Headspace for free for a few days and see what I mean.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • What stoic teaching has been most important to my life? [06:40]
  • What is the monkey brain (and how do I cage it)? [10:36]
  • How can we stay humble?  [15:15]
  • How do I manage the numerous requests I receive? [20:09]
  • What drives the success of the Tim Ferriss Show? [26:57]
  • Based on my interviews, what do I think drives success? [31:29]
  • Am I planning to write a book about my interviews? [41:22]
  • Where do I see myself in five years? [45:08]
  • If I could pick three people — alive or dead — to be in my personal board of directors, who would they be and why? [50:28]
  • How do I experiment with my dog’s training? [53:02]
  • There is a lot of talk and focus on human longevity. What would I actually recommend for people as they approach their forties and beyond? [58:11]
  • How did I conquer insomnia? [1:01:18]
  • How does 2016 Tim react to 2007’s The 4-Hour Workweek pitch and asks? [1:04:57]
  • What is my vision for my life? [1:07:22]
  • I have experimented with the interview structure of the podcast a few times (see: sharing a bottle of wine with Astro Teller). What has worked best? [1:12:50]
  • If I had an adult bootcamp with 20 people, what would I have them do? [1:16:40]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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55 Replies to “How to Cage the Monkey Mind (#175)”

  1. Hey Tim,

    Hope you’re well.

    Just listening to this whilst dealing with jet lag.

    Have you ever thought about making your interviews with people into a TV show? Just an idea. 🙂


  2. funny, I was explaining the monkey mind this past week to three different people…..

    anyway, I just want to comment, as a mindfulness practitioner and educator, I think it’s more appropriate and correct to engage with and befriend the monkey mind…..


  3. Right of Passage/Raising a Boy to Manhood

    Hi Tim,

    I know you are not a father yet, but you are very well read and have obviously interviewed some of the most successful people on the planet.

    How would you go about building a Right of Passage program or curriculum for raising a boy to manhood. Manhood is a very misunderstood concept in our culture (I’m in the US) and I think the scarcity of good men and fathers is wreaking havoc on our society at the moment. While keeping in mind a kid’s need to “be a kid”.

    So, if there are books, classes, podcasts, etc. that you would recommend as a starting point, I’d be grateful for your thoughts.

    Best regards!


    PS You mentioned right of passage near the end of this podcast which prompted my questions…

    1. Hey Charles! (And Tim)

      Check out The ManKind Project ( It’s a worldwide men’s group I’m a part of that has developed a weekend initiation for men in our society (not unlike the fantasy ‘retreat’ Tim described in this episode, howbeit with *maybe* a bit less suffering!), as well as a program entitled “Boys to Men” which also recognizes our inherent need as men and young men for initiation. (As an African proverb puts it, “if we do not initiate the young men, they will burn down the village”!)

      The tag line of MKP is “helping men lead lives of authenticity, integrity, and connection to feeling”. It’s helped me out a ton.


  4. Tim crushes again. The interviewer, however, needs to listen to your podcast to learn how to interview. Nice work buddy.

  5. Bruce Lee of baseball Houston Astros 5’6″ four time all star, 2014 AL batting champ, currently batting .357

    Shortest player in mlb. World class performer contrasting images of Barry bonds and mark McGuire in their heyday.

  6. I tame the Monkey Mind with about 80 IBU, 7% ABV, preferably enjoyed around a campfire or in the hot tub. I downloaded this and a bunch of others to enjoy on an upcoming road trip and a few training runs.



  7. I was at this live!!! Thank you Tim for coming back after your meeting to sign my book and chat for a minute, it meant a lot to be acknowledged like that by someone I consider a personal hero.

  8. Hi Tim,

    Your posts about your latest podcast are not synced on Facebook, email newsletters and twitter – there is a big gap, esp. on the email. Is this by plan (for testing) or you have a fixed schedule for each one of them?

  9. Some fascinating answers, great to hear some thoughts you haven’t shared before.

    **In this post-tribe society where we’re more disconnected than ever, how do you recommend finding a close group, like the group of men you mentioned to spending time with?**

    Especially as our workplaces and communities become more and more remote, it becomes that much harder to build those relationships. As a freelancer, finding those average 5 to pull me up, collaborate with and simply connect with is honestly my biggest problem.

    P.S. Sign me up for that boot camp, seriously 😉

  10. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for another great episode.

    I use one of the 10,000 podcast apps in the Google Play store to listen, and imagine a good chunk of your audience does too.

    How do you estimate # of listeners and related KPIs for the podcast given the fragmented Android player market?

  11. Hi Tim,

    Nice to hear that you like to keep it simple and taste (and test) simplicity. 🙂

    In case you haven’t come across this: iIn regard to meditation, you can’t get much simpler than shikantaza meditation. Which is simply nothing but ‘just sitting’. No goals, no concentration on the breath, no mantra’s, no nothing,…. just single-mindedly observe what happens and see your monkey mind do it’s drunken dances.

    Shikantaza is the preferred way of meditation in ‘soto’ zen buddhism.

    kind regards,


    PS: Some ‘ego’ background: 😀

    Shikantaza helped me heal and mentally overcome the obstacles of a 40 foot fall from my window on a stone floor, october 2015. Doctors said it was going to take at least 10 months to heal.

    I healed in 3 months.

    What did this? 1) lots of luck 2) strong body that was well trained in being damaged 3) the way I saw the healing process: just the same as my mma & bjj training: crying is ok, puking is ok, bleeding is ok, pain is ok, but quiting is not. 4) my dear friends who showed unconditional love 5) shikantaza to observe my emotions and thoughts and help me view my crazy monkey mind’s confabulations as just that and nothing more.

  12. Would love an episode/interview on the topic of building self-esteem. Have had to confront my self-confidence retardation and accept how it has triggered certain behavior; how it has limited performance.

  13. Great one! My favorite quote/lesson from this podcast:

    “We do not rise to the level of our hopes; we fall to the level of our training.”

    I am currently making a compilation of quotes for a book – did you say this quote was from “Arch-stoicism?” Please correct me if I’m wrong, thank you!

  14. Hi Tim, love the podcast and your books. It’d be great to hear from more women. I’d like to nominate Shyama Rose (elite hacker who was raised in a cult; goes skydiving on weekends). It would also be wonderful to have video at some point in the future. Thanks for considering it!

  15. Controlling the monkey mind – having experienced the crippling mind control of Lyme, it would be helpful to relate how you recall bacteria having a significant effect on your mental viability. Considering the purported origins of Lyme, your influence in changing the focus from grey matter to gut.

  16. Hey Tim,

    In regards to your adult bootcamp/ pain fest.

    Have you ever heard of SEALFIT? Created by former Navy SEAL Mark Divine.

    They have a 50 hour (no sleep, non-stop) mock-SEAL Hell Week camp called “Kokoro Camp”.

    It is designed to test people on a physical, mental, and emotional level. They put you into extremely high stress situations, under sleep deprivation and basically create complete chaos. But then the question is how do you react? How do you find the calm within the chaos?

    People that make it through come out completely transformed – you go in knowing no one else but by the end of the weekend you’ve come together as a team.

    I completed it about 5 years ago and I still reflect on what I learned on almost a daily basis.

    They have a bunch of great videos on YouTube and Rouge did a pretty good documentary on it with some CrossFit Games athletes.

    Check it out!

    All the best,


  17. Hi Tim, for your tennis elbow, I recommend trying Dynaflex or similar. It strengthens and rehabilitates at the same time. It has helped me over and over again more than anything else.

    1. Remedy for tennis elbow that worked for plenty here in HI: stick your dominate arm, shoulder height in front of you, and push down on that hand with the other til the fingers point as straight down as able to stretch the muscle so it doesn’t keep pulling on the elbow ligament b

  18. Stoicism and Buddhism…they have so much in common. Monkey mind reminds me of something I read at Human by Design. Awareness is the appropriately integrated functioning of monkey mind with the rest of the functioning of mind.

    Love the podcasts Tim!


  19. What would your website look like if it was easy? It would be nice to just see a listing of your podcasts with guest names and who they are. I feel like I am skipping over podcasts where I would like the guests but there isn’t always a way to know without extra clicks to find out who you are interviewing.

  20. Hi Tim,

    I just started your 4 hour work week book, and I am so excited to start the dreamline exercise. I tried to download the Sample Dreamline and Blank Dreamline, and I got a Page Not Found error:

    The Dreamline Spreadsheet downloads, but I’d like to take some time to think and write through the dreamline before I start number crunching. Thanks!


  21. Hi, Tim and co. – Going to be in Idaho doing an article on a relatively new climbing area, and wondering if you’re going to the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this year and doing any events. Would love to catch you in person.

  22. You mentioned Metformin during the podcast. Have you looked into berberine? I have seen some evidence it is as effective as Metformin. In my experiments with it it dropped my HbA1c by 10%.

  23. Oh that monkey.. We all ´´suffering´´ every day because of that monkey. I like a lot the approach of the subject. That interview make me think a lot of things completely different.

  24. Tim,

    this post was very awesome. Many good points, I’m implementing some of your ideas about email in my handling of email. Was stoicism part of the reason you’ve really stepped up your pursuit of the absurd? Does this help inoculate against embarrassment in public forums?

    thank you

    William Yancey

  25. Very much enjoyed the review of great points from what you’ve learned from your podcast interviews, and some new insights or ideas you shared. Also love the approach of constantly being in a “2 week experiment” mode across different areas of life, and the Camp Pain answer. Thanks, T!

  26. I agree – I’d love it if you filmed these podcast interviews and made them available on youtube (similar to what Joe Rogan does)….

  27. Hi Tim

    Love love the podcasts! Thank you for it!

    I would love to hear more inspiring women interviewed as well

    Suggesting an incredible female who is a friend is Jen Bricker, Jen won the Illinois gymnastics championship despite being born without legs. Her story is incredible, she just published her first book and was just featured on ESPN and HBO sharing her gifts. She travels around the world inspiring kids to know anything is possible.

  28. Really enjoyed your point about being embarrassed only when it’s really something to be embarrassed about.

    Thinking about the culture we live in today, one of people’s biggest fears is to be seen naked… They have nightmares about it where in fact there really is no physical danger in it at all..

    Thinking back to Sebastian Jungers book Tribe and him talking about how the white kids would run away and join the Indian tribes, I believe that was also because they went from a culture of being shamed , for their family status if it wasn’t high enough to their sexual desires to what they wore, and into a culture of indigenous people where the only time you’d feel shame was if you did something that was very bad and you knew it such as leaving a friend bleeding behind or hurting someone physically you cared about. And even then shame was just something one would feel to drive one to remedying the condition for which they felt they could have behaved in a stronger kinder manner.

    This culture for the past few hundred years have used shame to bring people down to the lowest common denominator, churches or mosques making people ashamed for natural desires, their bodies or for having been born. I think that explains the epidemic proportions of depression we are seeing nowadays.

    Nowadays kids are more afraid to be shamed than pretty much anything else, and they are shamed over what clothes they were or car their parents drive

    How do we turn around the culture of this redundant waste of time when there are so many things that matter in this world? I’d love to teach the next generation just that.

    To feel proud and capable and only feel shame when there is something to really feel ashamed of.

  29. “We are social animals, hell is other people” is a more complete quote of the one you used in this podcast, this is from “The Black Swan” of Nicholas Taleb.

    On the subject of longevity, Peter Attia who was on this podcast twice, does a much better job here,

  30. There is some great content here. I find that I catch on to something every time I listen. Thanks again for the excellent information and entertainment.

  31. Love the quote “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”

    I like the fact that every few episodes there is one where Tim is interviewed!

    1. Almost a year later, I am back here. With my book on life-path indecision almost finished, refreshing my mind on Tim’s tips on caging the monkey mind!

  32. I enjoy listening to your ideas, Sir. Very clear and on point. I feel like, when you are comfortable with the people around you, all the gem comes out deeper and you let the humor run freely. Truth be told, I’m always hoping for some Tim Ferris jokes on your podcasts. I don’t even find American humor funny all the time, but Sir you are hilarious.

    More TM interviews please. And, your kitchen and home look so peaceful and neat in the pictures, which satisfies my OCD for neatness. Cleanness is next to godliness right? 🙂

  33. Also, just wanted to say I know what hunger is. I ate only eggs for many months when I was in college. On the positive side I was always fit with no effort. Financial diet. haha! 🙂 I have to say not being able to eat doesn’t feel the same as not eating but knowing you can eat anytime if you want to. Experiences like that turns you into a confidence machine that one can not break easily. Because you have been at the bottom already. I feel societies are made up of two groups of people everywhere, those who struggle seriously to get where they are and those who get everything easily with daddy’s money. Hence, those who appreciate everything they have and proceed towards their goals quietly but surely versus those who cry for attention everywhere they go, because they think the world is turning around them. Second group is everywhere. First group is rare to meet. Those who had been at the bottom don’t take anything personal. Some ideas to ponder.

  34. Great episode as always Tim!

    Thanks for all the great content, keep it up 🙂

    And for answering my meditation question on FB Live,

    the good stuff has stuck.

  35. Hi Tim I can’t find the supplements you recommend anywhere on your website – the links from the book don’t seem to be working can you help please. Thanks

  36. Hey Tim/Tim’s assistant,

    I wanted to send you one lecture in a series about stoicism, mythology, and libertarianism, but I guess this is the best way to get your ear. Anyway if that sounds interesting let me know.

    Also, I really enjoyed the most recent cast with Ryan Holiday’s excerpt.


  37. Tim, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Modafinil and its effectiveness. Have you or colleagues you’ve spoke with had experiences with this drug?