Calming Philosophies for Chaotic Times — Krista Tippett (#223)

krista tippett

“Anger is often what pain looks like when it shows itself in public.”

– Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett (@KristaTippett) is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. She created and hosts the public radio program and podcast On Being and curates The Civil Conversations Project, an emergent approach to the differences of our age.

She received a National Humanities Medal in 2013 from President Barack Obama at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.”

Krista was a journalist and diplomat in Cold War Berlin and holds a Masters of Divinity from Yale University. Her books are Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, and Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters — and How to Talk About It.

In this conversation, we cover many things, including:

  • Krista’s morning routines
  • Zen versus striving — compatible, incompatible, or other?
  • Defining “spiritual” and “wise”
  • The role of prayer for her, and what she focuses on
  • Overcoming depression
  • The skills of good interviewing


#223: Calming Philosophies for Chaotic Times -- Krista Tippett

Want to hear another episode with an influential podcaster? — Listen to my interview with Debbie Millman. In this episode, we discuss how to recover from rejection, how to overcome personal crises of faith, class exercises from her most impactful mentors, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#214: How to Design a Life - Debbie Millman

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service, which is non-spec. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run…

This podcast is also brought to you by FreshBooks. FreshBooks is the #1 cloud bookkeeping software, which is used by a ton of the start-ups I advise and many of the contractors I work with. It is the easiest way to send invoices, get paid, track your time, and track your clients.

FreshBooks tells you when your clients have viewed your invoices, helps you customize your invoices, track your hours, automatically organize your receipts, have late payment reminders sent automatically and much more.

Right now you can get a free month of complete and unrestricted use. You do not need a credit card for the trial. To claim your free month and see how the brand new Freshbooks can change your business, go to and enter “Tim” in the “how did you hear about us” section.

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

  • Connect with Krista Tippett:

Twitter | On Being | The Civil Conversations Project

Show Notes

  • “Anger is often what pain looks like when it shows itself in public.” [05:19]
  • Were drama and debate in school good training for what Krista does now, or just a manifestation of what she was already good at? [10:19]
  • On moving to “Mars,” superpowers, and seeing one’s self through the lens of secret police. [11:37]
  • The principles of good learning. [15:12]
  • Working through a short temper and righteous indignation. [16:43]
  • Don’t negotiate on an empty stomach. [19:37]
  • Identifying and coping with depression. [21:05]
  • Therapy Krista finds most effective. [27:52]
  • Growing as an interviewer. [33:29]
  • Early interview mistakes. [35:37]
  • Lessons learned from the bad habits and practices of other interviewers. [38:31]
  • What did Krista read to her kids when they were younger? [42:15]
  • Poet and poetry recommendations for people who don’t think they like poetry. [44:15]
  • The most important word in any language. [51:55]
  • Once-meaningful words that have become conversation stoppers. [53:53]
  • How can you reconcile Zen and striving for success? [1:00:27]
  • How does Krista define spirituality, and what can someone do daily to grow in spiritual awareness? [1:07:16]
  • Does wisdom come with age? If so, how can we become wise beyond our years? [1:14:05]
  • How does Krista consistently see the best and most meaningful things in the world around her? [1:17:42]
  • “I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience.” [1:22:32]
  • Drawing inspiration for civil discourse from Ecumenist Benedictine monks. [1:24:07]
  • Answering questions through the story of your life. [1:25:14]
  • Working through the instincts that don’t serve us well. [1:30:20]
  • A hopeful story about conversation across the political divide. [1:31:26]
  • Most gifted books. [1:33:04]
  • What college class would Krista teach, and what exercises would she assign? [1:34:57]
  • Krista talks about one of the best listeners she knows. [1:39:52]
  • Favorite moments of television storytelling. [1:41:25]
  • What would Krista’s billboard say? [1:43:47]
  • Morning rituals and prayer as “a mother tongue.” [1:44:26]
  • Krista shares her prayer. [1:48:07]
  • Closing requests and thoughts. [1:52:17]

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.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

39 Replies to “Calming Philosophies for Chaotic Times — Krista Tippett (#223)”

  1. Dear Tim Ferris, your podcast has shot up to the number one spot on my podcast subscription hit list and I have found myself volonteering to do extra driving chores, just to have a little more space into which to shoehorn your two hour interviews and to luxuriate in all the wisdom and profundity that you manage to excavate with your interviewees. I am grateful beyond words for the effort you put into finding and opening up such inspiring, intelligent and humorous guests.

    I have just finished listening to your delightful interview with Krista Tippett on my way back from walking the Hadrian’s Wall Trail in Northumberland (UK) with my youngest son and his friend and my faithful setter and was enchanted by her gentle spirit and wisdom. I too am a lover of all things Rilke and have even attempted a translation of The Book of Hours, at least my favourite bits of it. I am so looking forward to reading the translation she referred to in her talk with you.

    I thought she might be interested in the following link

    Which is the captivating, funny, moving and inspiring speech given by the maverick austrian entrepreneur Heini Staudinger to the Berlin Entrepreneurship summit in 2013. Heini quotes extensively from Rilke and given that Krista is a fan of Rilke and a german speaker, she may find the speech as powerful and moving as I did. Perhaps you could forward the link to her and thank for her insights, wisdom and good grace.


    Best wishes

  2. Tim! this is by far one of my favorite episodes. I often listen to Krista Tippett’s On Being and when I’m not listening to her I usually put on one of your podcasts, so my surprise and dream come true was this morning, when I saw both your names in one podcast! To some it seems like the two of you are opposite, one productivity focused, the other focused on the human experience, but I find you each enrich my life in a special way and I loved the way this interview evolved, how she challenged you in some topics and how humble and graceful, as she always does, Krista answered your questions, and I got to know a side of her I had not heard before. Congratulations on this podcast, and I’m glad you took on the challenge and ventured out. I know you don’t base your interviews on Gender, but rather on top performers, but I must admit the women you’ve interviewed lately are phenomenal!

    You always say this about the graveyard book, however, I must steal your phrase: This is the episode “I immediately wanted to listen to a second time, as I finished”

  3. The last 30 min of this interview really resonated with me. I am currently working to start a retreat for America’s young leaders to discuss how we envision the future and what we plan to do to achieve it. To start the discussion, we will share are thoughts about the election — who we voted for, what led us to our vote — this will unveil the root issues we are concerned about and help us to discover the action steps towards change. We need to not make America great again, but rather we need to make America greater than ever. Thanks for all you do for the inspo, Tim!

  4. Tim, this podcast was absolutely incredible. I am learning so much from you and your guests in subjects that are near and dear to my heart – but sometimes live on the periphery. Making discussions actionable has been such a blessing to me, in that, becomes a bi-product of my tribes (work, family, friends, church, community, etc.) Today I heard more about living in the moment or being present, writing out a prayer and using that prayer as a practice in the am (even for 10 minutes), asking beautiful questions, living with curiosity, and on, on, on……..Thank you. You are an incredible soul. Love, love, love with action this podcast and many more. A true fan without a worship mentality. Keep livin, manage anger, and lovin.

  5. This episode had some unexpected gems for me…. Listening as a basic social art, experiential conversation, language/word choice…I am a Speech-Language Pathologist by background and have been creating a life story narrative for healing past traumas and re-contextualizing past experiences through cognitive re-framing. I would love to get Krista’s feedback on this project once I have a demo! You are fabulous- thank you for the inspiration!

  6. Thank you Tim for really found a nice job interviewing Krista. I intertwine her podcasts with yours on my longer drives. Forget that “Bambi legs” self talk. You really listened and asked the right questions at the right time in the right manner to allow her the space to open up. Great work.

  7. On age and wisdom: My mother worked with geriatric patients as a nurse throughout most of her career. I once asked her why she thought some people grow old without becoming wise. She thought a bit then said, “I think we become more of whatever we already are as we age.” Then, as if to make sure I understood, she added, “So if you are an ass hole at 20, there’s a pretty good chance you will be an ass hole at 70.” Perspective from my wise mother.

    1. Great interview as only Tim could do it. Takes a philosophical mind. I felt peaceful after this podcast. The wisdom piece I thought could have been more substantive since Krista wrote a book on the subject and it is such a pillar in Buddhism and other writings. To the young questioner, I would have suggested that “the reflected life is the life not worth living” so reflect and be aware to grow in wisdom. Wisdom is really how we think and act based on insights.


  8. the unlikely (but also very likely) dream duo.

    this episode was one of my absolute favorites.

    the dynamic between the two of you felt so respectful and considerate — a magic personality mix.

    the whole episode felt calm + generous.

    packed full of useful wisdom.

    thoughtful, honest.

    gentle, not soft.


    a two hour gift.

    a seriously beautiful conversation.

    thank you for doing things the way you do them.

  9. Tim – Long-time listener, since the beginning of your “experiment.” I’ve commented a few times, but I wish I would/could more. This interview was fantastic, and it’s odd how some of things that go on in your world so closely match mine. Sometimes, it’s like you’re reading my mind! I guess nobody is ever really alone! Your work is great, and I know it would be super selfish to ask that you don’t stop…please don’t stop! I look forward to each podcast, even and especially the 3-hour ones…and I’ve been known to rewind to the beginning and listen again. And I’ve learned that when you tell me to just be patient and dig in…that there are gems…you are always right!!! 🙂

    I learn something new with every guest you share, and I’ve gotten to know people I wouldn’t have otherwise. And you, Tim, are the brightest and best surprise of all. It’s evident that you truly listen and connect and embody the wisdom that is presented to you. I really appreciate your humanity and the vulnerability that you’ve shared with all of us.

    I loved how you asked Krista to share her prayer and how you absorbed it and honored it. It was really moving. And that’s what compelled me to share my gratitude with you. For whatever it’s worth. Thank you Tim. The planet is a better place with you in it. 🙂

  10. Thank you — I found the part about particularly depression particularly interesting. There’s something about that sophomore year of college….

  11. Love this podcast man! Have you read the book ‘The Doors of Perception’ by Aldous Huxley? If not I’d highly recommend checking it out, as I think you’d really enjoy it.

    Have a great week!

  12. Hey Tim!

    Really enjoy your podcasts! I especially enjoyed Krista’s poetic quote from Wild Geese and Kindness as well as her personal prayer in this episode! Also, her perspective on time and meditation were moving! Thank you!

    Quick question, which is the best version/translation of the Tao Te Ching would you recommend?

    Ps. Super excited to begin reading Tools of Titans!

    Kindest regards,


  13. I have been a huge consumer of the podcast for years now and Tim/Four-Hour-Lifestyle. My question revolves around the importance of words and topics in this podcast covered like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / Neuro Linguistic Programming. Like Tim, I have been to a Tony Robbins seminar and found massive value out of it. I have since still been searching for ways to empower my life and have stumbled upon Landmark Education which is a training centered around Ontology and the study of “being”. Do you, Krista or Tim, or anyone else for that matter, have any opinions on these type of educations, pro or con?

    1. Hi Scott —

      On the podcast “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” is suggested by Tim as possibly a good form of therapy… I strongly disagree with this based on years of experience with trying to ‘think’ my way out of bad feelings. It turns out you need to Feel your way out of these places — and CBT only allows you to think of it.

      Krista mentions using “Family of Systems” therapy to help her. This! This is the way to go! A great place to understand this is one of Krista’s own podcasts with psychologist/author Bessel van der Kolk who has written an incredible book “The body keeps the Score”. If you want to change the way you feel your best therapy for your money is to feel the feelings in the presence of others — Somatic Experience (SE) is a great way to do this. Really, most body based therapy is where you can make real changes to how you feel in life because this is where the feelings live — physically in your body, not in your brain.

      I also fully believe in doing therapeutic retreats that dive deep and safely into your past. Quest Institute (.org) is best thought of as a 2-3 years of therapy in 10 days because you can go deep, stay there, be supported and really work on the core issues that are driving the patterns in your life and then come out of the deep feelings. (hint — the deep feelz probably originate from your childhood). There are other retreats like this that also do good work – Star Foundation (.org) is another place to go deep quickly and get big changes.

      You mention Landmark in your comment. I have not been through Landmark’s retreat but have gone through the retreats I mention above. From the people I know who have been through Landmark and then through Quest’s retreats they all report a night and day difference (and a big cost difference). Quest goes where it’s hard to go unless you feel very safe and that is what they do really well and then they give you tools to navigate that terrain as it shows up in your daily life. Hope this helps!

  14. Tim,

    Love Tools of the Titans! Especially because it brought me to your podcast which I find to be the most enlightening time I spend all day, outside of meditation.

    For future guests please consider:

    Laura Vanderkam

    Rick Riordan

    Rich Froning

    Kara Goucher

    Shalane Flanagan

    Christopher MacDougall


    Rick Hollin

  15. Tim,

    These are definitely difficult times, where the weak and marginalized among us don’t always get a voice. There is an amazing guy I’d like to connect you with. He’s a publisher who has been trying to bring a voice to the voiceless for 20 years now, and amazingly, he has succeeded at it, year after year. He’s a Portland native, and I think a connection between you both would be very fruitful. I don’t want to throw his name out on a public forum, but if you are interested in an introduction, let me know and I’ll set it up.

  16. Krista’s commentary on her prayer moved me to tears in the middle of my busy type A morning run about town. I have loved this podcast for a long time, but it was not where I expected to get spiritual inspiration that morning. Thank you to Krista for sharing and to you Tim for being willing to go there with her. Love what you do here!

  17. I noted in particular this episode the wonderful concept for engaging with people (and ourselves) to “answer the question through the story of your life”

    And, thanks for interjecting with the reminder that “the quality of our questions determining the quality of our lives”.

    Oh, and the stand-out Ferrissian self-observation of “No you fool, you just need to eat an orange and you’ll be fine…”.

    The podcast is a highlight of every weekend, spares me watching TV! Thank you Tim and Krista.

  18. What a beautiful conversation.

    Esp the parts about the usage of certain words, the bits about Ms Tippett’s life and, for someone not religious, her prayer… loved the magic dynamic between two people from seemingly very different backgrounds that formed a conversation filled with gentle and calm wisdom.

    Very much enjoyed it, thank you for that.

  19. Thank you for mentioning Entrepreneur’s Organization. I’d love to hear Verne Harnish, author of Rockefeller Habits and one of the founders of EO on your program.

  20. I loved this episode. I love all of your podcasts, but this in particular made me realize that you have the interviewing chops to take on very profound issues with a sophisticated and intelligent woman (well to be more exact, this one, and the one with Debbie Millman). Not that I didn’t think you could do it, I just hadn’t witnessed the evidence. Thank you for making me aware of the incredible Ms Tippett!

  21. I do not want to say I listen to a “few” interviews more than two times, because there are so many good ones that I jot down on writing or listen to repeatedly.

    Tippett is one of those few 1% that I love. This is really good.

    Gosh, I can hear her voice a lot more. It is so calming!

    Oh look, she has her own podcast!!

    Tim, youre growing up and becoming wiser.

    Krista, I suggest getting rid of “you know…”, its a pet peeve of mine that I reply with “no, i dont know. please explain or elaborate”

    Thank you for existing, thank you for inviting her

    1. Added after researching all the links and further more

      One of my favorite podcasts I have listen to from this show.

      Some good “takeouts” that I have done are:

      -Righteous Indignation. Probably why America is so angry. They feel insulted and the sense of injustice, not now, but in the near future

      -“We are all explorers telling each other what new things we have seen and heard.”- From one of the links you have provided. Naomi Shihab Nye. Writers are great to find words for situations you cannot yet explain nor have the words yet.

      -Adam Grant is an eye opener. WIll read his books and TedTalks now.

      -Poems for Young Poets: WIll start that now. I think a good beginner book for exploring Rilke

      -NJ Seeds is a school and types of schools that need to be implemented in Public schools.

      -and Most importantly: Krista Tippet. She is nothing short of fantastic and truly deserves the Presidential award she was given.

      Personally, I have started to take the path of looking for good questions as I have a personal project which needs them. A few books that I have put on my amazon wishlist:

      The Kids’ Book of Questions- this one is a recommended from looking at links of books, This one is more towards me

      Pema Chodin books. Especially, Start Where you are

      Doubt. A history. Goes with Brene Brown’s Shame podcast with this blog.

      Thank you. Have a good night

  22. I really enjoyed this podcast Tim – I like your occasional explorations into the spiritual and philosophical side of life. Mary Oliver is a true gem. I like W.S. Merwin and E.E. Cummings as well.

  23. Wow… I have just taken my brain out of my head and bathed my mind in the essential nourishing sounds of TF Krista Tippett podcast…soothing, cleansing…relaxing, fascinating, beautiful…stimulating thought provoking…wonderful stuff.

    Thank you.

  24. When you asked Krista about interviewing person mistakes she said that a common mistake is one sided questions that expose the person being interviewed. She also said some questions are more about the interviewer than the person being interviewed which makes for big missed opportunities. You made that mistake later when you talked about the book “Words That Work” and brought up a trend that worries you. (Started at 57:35) Then you shut down the convo before she could respond. There was so much tension behind it but Krista didn’t get a chance to respond. She even laughed (sorta a sigh of relief) when you changed the subject. As a listener, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to hear Krista respond. But the convo stopped. I think that little friction point in this conversation is a microcosm of what is going on in our society. Again I love your stuff and can’t wait delve into more of what you create and link together. Keep killing it!

  25. Easily one of your best interviews and podcasts you delivered. There was a flow in this conversation that sometimes hasn’t existed in other episodes of yours.

    Thank you.

  26. Dear Tim, I’ve wanted to send you a thank you note for a while for doing your podcast. Because this particular episode checked all the boxes for me, I thought this would be a good place for that thank you.

    I’m not your typical target market at all, but your genuineness and your care in interviewing completely won me over. I look forward to your show and I have taken many pieces of advice to heart. I listen to all of your shows even when they don’t seem relevant to me because I have been surprised often enough that it’s completely worth my time. (Who knew a guy who made Japanese blades would be so fascinating?)

    Thank you for this.


  27. Hi Tim and team,

    I found this episode really powerful and beautiful and wanted to share one consideration. As you were discussing social justice or as Krista termed it, social healing, I was struck by a moment not fully explored. The comment on feeling shut down through snarky comments about being a white man, Tim, is not uncommon, and I also think there is a real oppportunity for opening the dialogue about that personal experience by perhaps inviting a modern day civil rights activist to speak with you on your show. The leadership, determination, and opportunities to learn from say, Alicia Garza or Patrisse Cullors (founders of Black Lives Matter) would be a perfect way to address those uncomfortable conversations you advocated for in this episode. Thoughts?

    With abundant gratitude and respect,