Q&A with Tim — Current Morning and Exercise Routines, Holotropic Breathwork, Ambition vs. Self-Compassion, Daily Practices for Joy, Ontological Shock, and More (#518)

Photo by Todd White

Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is usually my job to sit down with world-class performers of all different types to tease out the habits, routines, favorite books, and so on that you can apply and test in your own life. This time, we have a slightly different format, and I’m the guest. 

As some of you know, I tested a “fan-supported model” in 2019, but I ended up returning to ads by request. That’s a long story, and you can read more about it at tim.blog/podcastexperiment. I recently sat down with the supporter group for a fun and live Q&A on YouTube. 

I answered questions on my current morning and exercise routines, holotropic breathwork, ambition vs. self-compassion, diet, tools for assisting with ontological shock, what currently brings me a lot of joy, not caring what other people think, and much, much more. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

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You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#518: Q&A with Tim — Current Morning and Exercise Routines, Holotropic Breathwork, Ambition vs. Self-Compassion, Daily Practices for Joy, Ontological Shock, and More

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This episode is brought to you by ExpressVPN. I’ve been using ExpressVPN to make sure that my data is secure and encrypted, without slowing my Internet speed. If you ever use public Wi-Fi at, say, a hotel or a coffee shop, where I often work and as many of my listeners do, you’re often sending data over an open network, meaning no encryption at all.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear a Q&A I did with listeners way back in the before-pandemic times? Listen here, where we talked about wealth building, improving extemporaneous speaking, coping with the loss of loved ones, Lyme disease, breaking up with business partners, new habits, hopeful eulogies, and much more.

#394: Q&A With Tim — On Wealth, Legacy, Grief, Lyme Disease, Gratitude, Longevity, and More



  • What’s the 2021 updated version of my morning routine? [06:35]
  • What is my current exercise routine, and what cool exercise equipment or gadgets am I using? [08:10]
  • What is my process for determining if I’m steering my life in a worthwhile direction? [12:12]
  • How can someone stuck in a rut of existential dread better manage their thoughts? [14:21]
  • If I were to give a commencement speech, what would be the core message? [16:50]
  • Are there currently any large-scale studies — by MAPS, Johns Hopkins, or other researchers in the psychedelic space — investigating the potential therapeutic value of holotropic breathwork? [17:27]
  • Beware of pseudo-shamans. [20:59]
  • Have I tried fish oil, moxibustion, or acupuncture to soothe my joint pain? Have I found anything particularly effective? [21:58]
  • Are there any psychedelic retreats I can recommend? [25:15]
  • Who or what has consistently brought me joy in the past six months, one year, three years, and five years? [25:43]
  • What projects do I have planned over the next two or three years? [28:46]
  • A Viktor Frankl recommendation that often gets overlooked. [29:43]
  • Is there any research on the effects of psychedelics combined with breathwork? [30:21]
  • Why am I still hesitating about having children? [31:42]
  • A documentary recommendation for anyone wondering how to become a fake guru/shaman (or avoid being taken in by one). [35:04]
  • I now recognize that I could have been more self-compassionate earlier in life and enjoyed the same level of “success” (however one defines such a thing). But here’s something someone not inclined toward self-compassion might find even more effective without losing what they think of as their “edge.” [35:45]
  • After self-experimenting with practically every dietary approach under the sun, what does my current eating regimen look like? [43:57]
  • Are there any books we’ve found helpful in preparation for parenthood? [45:46]
  • Do I have any advice for dealing with ontological shock — such as I experienced when I rediscovered my own history of childhood abuse? [47:30]
  • What did I take away from reading Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-winning The Overstory during the pandemic? [52:15]
  • Am I sure I’m not drunk? [55:02]
  • “When this ends?” [55:27]
  • What does my evening routine look like, and what’s keeping me laughing most these days? [55:48]
  • What helps me pull out of unproductive thoughts or emotional loops? [57:11]
  • Another easy, feel-good series for binge-watching: Ted Lasso. [1:00:12]
  • How much time do I set aside for reading every week? [1:00:41]
  • How active am I in lobbying Congress’ decreased restrictions on psychedelic research? [1:01:22]
  • Have I given serious thought to writing fiction? [1:01:51]
  • How do I overcome the fear of being misunderstood? [1:03:34]
  • How do I ensure optimal sleep? [1:09:34]
  • How did I learn Japanese? [1:13:47]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:14:52]


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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19 Replies to “Q&A with Tim — Current Morning and Exercise Routines, Holotropic Breathwork, Ambition vs. Self-Compassion, Daily Practices for Joy, Ontological Shock, and More (#518)”

  1. I was overly joyful to hear you finally feeling in the position to take fatherhood into consideration!

    Since I am currently embarking upon this journey myself, it will be very interesting for me personally to hear you share one or another inside regarding that topic along the way.
    You seem very chill about it, but maybe here and there you might have interesting experts on child-rearing on, which would be very cool.

    In preparation for it, the “Better Baby Book” by Dave Asprey and his wife, might be interesting for you, because it covers the basics for optimal biological preconditions very nicely. He might be a controversial figure, but this first book of his is very well researched and science-backed, which his wife as a co-author in her role as a doctor took care of very well too.

    FYI: the “recon” in to reconcile is pronounced like “reckon” in reckoning.

    1. As a mom to 10 kids (3 pregnancies, 7 adopted teens), I want to throw in my 2 cents.

      First, my Dr. Hubs loved the Bradley method for putting him in the right headspace for my labors. I climbed that man like a tree and he had to squat my body weight for an hour to deliver our 9.9, 9.8, 10.12 babies. Midwife assited home birth was our method of choice, with OB care till 38 weeks. Loved anything by Ina May Gaskin (OG midwife) to prepare your partner for the truly awe-some journey of pregnancy, regardless of the method of delivery. I’m an athlete, so for me hypno birthing is great for beginning of labor, but when it’s down to the wire Dr. Hubs and my amazing midwife Donna Hooyen (San Diego based) coached me through it as though it were the last quarter mile of a marathon. That worked for me, every women is different. I went into it thinking it would be all candles and warm baths and it ended up being husband climbing and a whole new definition for air squats.

      Second, thank you for mentioning the prep work that you’ve done for parenting. In my experience, it’s the struggles that we’ve gone through that made us better parents. Hubs lost his dad at 10, so even though he’s finishing residency (1.5 more weeks), he’s present and engaged in fatherhood. My being in foster care, rebuilding my relationship with by bio fam and ongoingly looking for new ways to manage, work with my PTSD has given my kids an example of what perseverance and mental health management looks like in real life. My teens are able to open up about their mental health because I’m open about mine.

      Lastly, I wanted to add nuance to your assertion that parenting is selfish. Yes, parenting is inherently selfish, and paradoxically selfless. I’m not just talking about our fostering (which I’m happy to talk to anyone about, we need more foster/adoptive parents like all of your listeners on this planet). Parenting with the purpose of raising people with the capacity to rebuild our planet is a selfless act. Having read 4HC, I know your kid(s) will have the capacity to care for the planet and be excellent stewards. We need a lot more of those in this world. Wishing you well on your journey.

  2. I read the four hour body after my car accident in 2009. You got me in the right head space for the 9 surgeries and 40 hours of PT/week that followed for the next 5 years. I didn’t do your diet portion because I was a distance athlete before the accident and had never had a problem with weight, plus with Crohn’s I couldn’t eat eggs. Now, here I am, 10 years of marriage and 10 fantasic kids later (7 foster/adopt teens and 3 bio little people).

    My husband was a resident doc in the ICU for most of the last 18 months (in the shit at a community hospital 120+ hours a week and living in an RV to not expose us from March-July 2020). Soooo, we’ve both been eating our feelings, stress (and anything not nailed down) for about a year. I’ve packed on about 100 extra lbs and hubs about 75. Started a bet with my friend in February to lose 30 lbs to get him off his diabetes meds. We succeeded at getting him off all meds, and we’ve lost the 30 lbs under the stop eating fucking French fries plan, but I’ve got more to go.

    The fam is on our first vacation since all of this bull shit started, and I brought 4HB and 4HC with me. I reread the 4HB in the first 2 days. Still had the same thought, “can’t do eggs.” I’m posting for the first time, in case this helps someone else, I CAN EAT GRUB FED EGGS. I went to an organic farm here in SLO and bought eggs. Hubs made me an omelet, and I didn’t spend the rest of the day doing the two step to the toliet. It is amazing. We’re stocking up on the way home and I’m buying chickens after writing this. I cannot believe this, I’m so excited. Can’t wait to eat the way I like again.

    For anyone in a slump, a little ingenuity and some well sourced food might do the trick. Can’t thank you enough for sharing about your whole life (especially mental health), it’s been invaluable. Took the before photos at my top weight, I’ll take measurements this week and new photos. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ellen, My wife and I both have a food allergy to eggs, I saw your comment about grub fed eggs and was immediately interested. What makes these different for you so you can eat them and not get sick?

  3. This was great! I just finished reading Tools of Titans so it was fun to hear which things from the book you are still doing/using etc. and what new strategies you’ve been trying.

    I wish I had known about this earlier so I could’ve submitted a question – I’ve always been curious how you got through the period where you had lyme disease and were functioning at like 10% capacity. I don’t have lyme but have struggled with chronic fatigue and hormonal disfunctions for many years now and while it’s much better than it was, I still have days where I am exhausted and foggy and can’t get anything done. And then I feel guilty that I’m not doing anything productive even though I feel crappy and can’t focus!

    If you have any words of wisdom or strategies that helped you get through all of that I’d love to hear what kept you going on the bad days!

  4. Having had both at different points in my life, I would argue that “happiness” is not the best thing in the world. Agreeing with Jordan Peterson, I would contend that “purpose” is the best thing in the world.

  5. Hey there, long time listener here. Cool to hear that you’re starting to explore climbing! That’s been my sport for the last 15 years or so, and it’s a great lifelong sport. I love to travel to climb, because not only do you get off the beaten path a bit, but you meet so many cool people out at the crag or boulders. Where are you climbing in Austin? I worked there for a few months and climbed at the Austin Boulder Project while I was there. It’s one of my very favorite climbing gyms, and I’ve been to quite a few! Check them out if you haven’t already.

    Anyway, I listened to The Curious Climber Podcast’s interview with Dave MacLeod the other day, and while I loved their episode, I would really enjoy hearing you interview him as well! He’s an all around climber and a bit of an underdog, but climbs at the elite level in pretty much every discipline. He’s also student of physiology, exercise science and human nutrition, so he’s got a pretty scientific approach to training and climbing. Seems like you two would have quite a bit to talk about.

    Love the show, keep up the good work.

  6. Wish there was a way to ask this in a more private way but can you please provide advice for finding treatment for depression. You’ve spoken a lot about studies but I’m having a difficult time determining which ones to pursue and finding a way to enroll.

  7. Great episode as usual, I keep getting great pointers and ideas from your podcast (my books-to-read list is becoming endless, thank you!)

    I wanted to leave a comment about one of the points you mention in this episode: you and your girlfriend going through fertility checks in the hopes of starting a family. First of all, I wish you guys the best of luck 🙂

    I know this is an enormously private thing which of course you will do on your own timing and choose if and when to disclose. However dare I suggest that you be open about your journey, as it is a topic that is still, in this day and age, a complete taboo. Fertility is, I’ve discovered through my own experience, something that everyone takes for granted, until it is not. I sincerely hope your girlfriend and you find everything easy and quick in this sense, however it would be fantastic if you could share and raise awareness for other people to think about understanding their fertility journey and be able to make informed choices – ignoring fertility and postponing it endlessly because we simply assume things will go smoothly is something more and more people struggle with. As one friend of mine says, everybody is counting calories when we should be counting antral follicles.

    After years of dealing with what has been diagnosed as “unexplained infertility”, I have chosen to be extremely vocal and advocate for everybody to know more about where they are on their fertility journey. I am now luckily the proud mom of a 3 years old, but this has been after learning the hard way that I should have known better my body and my options, and becoming just short of an expert in endocrinology and reproductive immunology (I’m in reality a computer engineer). The reason I’m suggesting this is that you have the megaphone I wish I had (if I had that giant billboard, I’d put up there “Do fertility testing now, decide later”).

  8. Hi Tim – love your podcast. You mentioned you had not yet begun reading books on parenting. When you decide to do so, I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Brad Reedy’s work. “The Journey of the Heroic Parent” and “The Audacity to be You”. You can listen in to his podcast at Evoke Therapy Programs on Soundcloud and Itunes. I also recommend, “You are your Child’s First Teacher” by Dancy and “Mindful Parenting” by John Kabbat Zinn. The Baby Book and Attachment Parenting by Dr. Sears are also my go to resources – and of course, your natural, parenting instincts and intuition.

  9. Hey Tim, I was surprised to hear that both climbing (gym climbing it sounds like?) and learning about the natural world have become such a large part of your life. I’ve been climbing for 50 years now, but it wasn’t until my mid-forties that I got excited about learning more about the plants and animals around me. I would encourage you to keep learning more – it genuinely does make time in nature richer.

    Also, have you ever considered interviewing speed climbing legend Hans Florine. He first set the record in the Nose on El Capitan when he was in his mid-twenties(??) and last set the record when he was in his late forties with a partner (Alex Honnold) young enough to be his son. He has been an obsessive optimizer all his life, which makes me think he might be a good fit for your show.

  10. Tim, as touched on the subject of fertility here, I would be exceptionally grateful for your views on the +/- of the IUD copper coil. The essence of my question is –
    What are the pros and cons of the copper IUD copper coil as a means of contraceptive for a young (early 30s) female? I am keen to find out more about the impact on a) fundamental health, b) energy, c) hormones (and neurofunction), d) long term fertility? I have never wanted to have children and do not know whether I do but am conscious that having anything in your body is not ideal and that actually fertility is a good metric of all round health. Though the chances of me being fertile are slim, I do not want to risk it and am vehemently anti the pill and not keen on condoms. I am on 3rd 5 year copper coil (12 years of having them in total).

  11. Hey Tim! Love this episode, and I’m a huge fan.

    I know you used to drink tumeric every morning in your tea-based drink. I wanted to ask if you still do? I’m well versed in the benefits of tumeric (anti-inflammatory etc.) but I’ve been seeing conflicting scientific literature about tumeric’s potential negative affect on testosterone, as it is an AR inhibitor.

    I love tumeric’s benefits, but for me it wouldn’t be worth taking if it reduced testosterone. Do you know anything about this specific issue?

    Very big fan, you’ve had a huge impact on my lifestyle. Thanks Tim.

  12. Hey Tim,

    Stoked that you’ve incorporated climbing into your routine! I’d be honored to get you dialed if you want to confidently lead etc. If you’re out in Colorado and you’d like to connect on the stone, hit me up!

  13. Tim – you’ve talked a lot about your practice of walking meetings. Have you found a Bluetooth headset that does a particularly good job of limiting the ambient noise others hear? (i.e., your mic filtering out ambient noise for the other parties) Thanks!

  14. Thanks for all you do. I’m a long-term fan, and always enjoy your Q&A sessions.

    I’m wondering if you and your partner considered adoption prior to pursuing fertility options. You’ve said many times that deciding to bring a child into the world is ultimately a selfish act. I couldn’t agree more, particularly now that we’re well into the throes of climate change on an overpopulated planet.

    Individuals with limited resources usually have fewer options, so I understand why they might choose to bear their own children instead of adopting. But I always feel disappointed when individuals with access to ample resources (financial, medical, legal, etc.) choose to have biological children rather than adopt. It breaks my heart that there are countless children born in desperate need of care, while individuals who are in a position to help choose to focus on fertility treatments instead.

    I wish we lived in a world with unlimited resources where parents could make any reproductive choice without worrying about the affect on others. But the difficult reality is that earth’s resources are finite. Overpopulation is contributing to every environmental catastrophe on the planet. Every little choice we make affects everybody else by a tiny increment.

    I would love to see more individuals with a wide sphere of influence (such as yourself) choose to be role models for adoption rather than bringing more humans into an already overburdened world. I can think of no act more powerful than adopting a child born with few options in life, while giving Mother Earth a much-needed reprieve at the same time.

    Good luck on your journey as a parent, whichever path you ultimately choose.

      1. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease 5 years ago and was taking Antibiotics and Nonsteroidal anti-Inflammatory drug which seemed to help. However, I still suffer from some of the symptoms. My symptoms have always been chronic fatigue, joint pain, and even neurological problems in controlling hand and leg movements. I am a 54 year old female. the Antibiotics wasn’t really working and I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects, There has been little if any progress in finding a cure or reliable treatment. Acupuncture eased my anxiety a bit. Our primary physician recommended me to kycuyu health clinic and their amazing Lyme treatment. My symptoms including chronic fatigue, joint pain and rash, disappeared after 4 months treatment! The herbal treatment is a sensation.. My Lyme disease is totally reversed! this is a herbal store that will be leaving it’s footprint in this world. I’m 54 and have never been this healthier