Please enjoy this special Q&A episode with fan supporters of The Tim Ferriss Show. I answered questions on plantar fasciitis relief, manga-assisted language learning and retention, breathing exercises, wolf conservation, parenting ambitions, VR therapy, mood and energy remedies, post-pandemic social reintroduction, the value of college, favorite wrestling movies, and much, much more.
Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
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This podcast episode was transcribed by Rev.com.
Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show as I garble my words, because this is a fast-paced Q&A episode. We’re going to cover a lot, and thanks to everyone who is joining live. We have a lot of people who are joining live.
We have people who have submitted questions in advance, and we’re going to cover a lot of topics. I’m going to alternate between live and submitted questions. We’ll probably do two to four at a time. I’m happy to see everyone here from all over the world, and people can submit questions right meow in the chat, so feel free to type those in, and specifically, you can focus on the general. You can go anywhere you want.
This is a topic free for all. I see a question here in the live chat from Clayton. I apologize, I’m going to say L. I don’t know how to pronounce the last name. “What worked best to help with your plantar fasciitis?”
A number of things, a splint to keep my toes dorsiflexed while sleeping. That was one. A second was rolling the bottom of my feet and also using percussion devices like Theragun, as an example. Oddly enough, this might sound really strange because it’s, in some ways the opposite of what I just suggested, but a physical therapist asked me at one point because I was so sensitive in my lower legs during massage therapy, during soft tissue treatment, he asked me, “Do you cross your legs under your chair when you sit and type?,” and I thought that was a strange question, but I did that. I would put my feet under the chair and cross them, and that was always pulling my toes and my feet back towards my knee, and he said, “Try not doing that and see what happens.”
He said, “Are you really tight in your calves when you do, say, downward dog in yoga?” I said yes, and so I began experimenting with really being mindful about keeping my feet flat on the ground, instead of crossing them under my butt or under my chair, and all of those things seem to have contributed mightily to the recovery. Also, not overdoing it with minimal footwear. The way that my plantar fasciitis really flared up and became a problem is I walked in very, very minimal footwear. Imagine slippers or moccasins basically on cobblestones for a few days while traveling, and that just about did it.
Those are a few recommendations related to plantar fasciitis, and I am going to take a look now at both the live chat and the submitted questions. I see one here from Amer Grgic, I’m guessing. I’m sure I’m completely butchering that name. “Hey Tim, do you ever do breathing exercises next to yoga?” Breathing exercises are something that I pay attention to, and most recently, the type of breathing I have done is in concert with HRV training, and you can check out a doctor named Dr. Leah Lagos, L-A-G-O-S.
She also has a book that discusses HRV training and using breathwork basically as the API to the autonomous nervous system, so the — what is it, application programming interface? Think of it as the gateway into your automatic or autonomous nervous system, so you can use breathwork to produce what she would term resonance that can affect everything from the vagus nerve to many, many other things, and I was doing 20 minutes of breathwork twice a day for 10 weeks, and my breathwork tends to have an objective in mind, but I do think that breathing, since it is this gateway into the deliberate control, which seems paradoxical, of the autonomous nervous system, or at least some of its functions, I find it very, very interesting. All right. Let’s jump into some of the submitted questions.
This first one is from the Crazy Bulgarian. “What did you implement from Andrew Huberman’s advice on sleep?” Andrew Huberman is a neurobiologist from Stanford University, who I had on the podcast, and he gave me a lot of recommendations related to sleep. He’s really studied the visual system, circadian rhythm, everything associated with it, and I followed a bunch of his recommendations and it has dramatically improved my sleep. Here are a few of them. I did take his advice to get my fish oil consumption up to the point that it is at least one gram of EPA, and there’s EPA, DHA contained in fish oil among possibly other things, and getting the EPA to at least one gram, I do that in two divided doses taken with meals.
Before sleep, I’m taking magnesium threonate, which selectively targets brain tissue, or at least is well-absorbed by brain tissue. Apigenin is another. I believe I’m taking 50 milligrams, but you should listen to the full podcast, and other supplements that I’m taking, which I have to disclose because I started taking them around the same time, and perhaps these are the causal agents quite apart from his advice, following a number of blood tests, it was recommended to me that I begin taking — this was recommended to me by my doctors, so get your own medical advice please. I started taking higher levels of B6 in the morning, and also in the morning, I began doing two things, as suggested by Andrew.
Number one, I began getting outside as soon as I got up, so no dilly-dallying and burning an hour inside, getting outside, exposed to the sun, even if it’s through cloud cover for the first, say five to 15 minutes of the day. I had been doing this on some level, often jumping rope for even two or three minutes, really just to wake up the system and to get that exposure to the sun. I’ve made that a must-do, and I’ve also delayed my intake of caffeine for 60 to 90 minutes after getting up. I think, like a lot of people, my routine was to wake up and immediately consume some form of stimulant or caffeine, whether it’s yerba mate or coffee or otherwise. The point he made is, and I’m paraphrasing, that when you wake up, there is this natural and desirable production of cortisol, which then does a number of things, including I imagine breaking down glycogen into usable glucose and so on and so forth, and this provides you with a jolt of energy to start your day, and that is an important, what they might call zeitgeber or a time giver that helps to establish a bookmark for the rest of your circadian rhythm, and that can dictate and inform your sleep later.
Pushing off the caffeine for 60, 90 minutes allows your body to do what it’s supposed to do without supplementation, without any type of caffeine replacement therapy, if that makes any sense, so those are a number of things that I’ve taken from Andrew that at least together, all of those factors, including the B6, which is individualized, so I’m not recommending other people do that, seem to have really produced a change in me, so that, I’m very grateful for. Let me jump to Clayton. This is another question that was submitted. “Tim, it’s been over a decade since The 4-Hour Body. If you had to revise it, what would you change?”
“Has your opinion changed in regards to components such as keto, intermittent fasting, multi-day fasting, PAGG, et cetera?” The 4-Hour Body, even though it was produced in 2010, has held up remarkably well. Many of the things that were first discussed, or at least first widely discussed in The 4-Hour Body cold exposure and so on, as it relates to fat loss or thermoregulation with Ray Cronise and others have really stood the test of time and entered the mainstream, so a lot of it holds up. I would want to take a second look at Policosanol, as found in PAGG, to see if there’s any additional research that either confirms or disputes the efficacy of including Policosanol. In terms of things that I might add, I would likely put in a more sophisticated chapter on fasting, now that I understand much more of the science and have done many, many, many experiments and had the input of say Dominic D’Agostino and Peter Attia and various PhDs and doctors.
Those additions however, were put into Tools of Titans, so a lot of the additions that I would have made to The 4-Hour Body were put into Tools of Titans, and many of the updates that I would have put into The 4-Hour Workweek, but more so The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef were added into Tools of Titans, so it’s sort of a simultaneous — try that again. It’s kind of a simultaneous update of all of those books, but certainly fascinating, especially focusing on more extended fasting, so a three-day fast, say once a month and longer fast, seven to 10-day fast once per year, I do feel quite confident those convey many benefits, only some of which are understood at this point. Last one for now from the submitted questions before we go back to the live feed is from Jordan, “Why did you stop gymnastic strength training? Do you think you’ll pursue it again?”
I hit pause on some of the gymnastic strength training, as you might define it as GST per Coach Sommer, the former men’s national team coach, in part because I injured my wrist. I injured my wrist doing assisted training with Iron Cross and Maltese Cross on rings, and just felt this incredible pop in my wrist and couldn’t really use my hand for a number of weeks, maybe even as much as a month or two. That was my fault, so I’m not in any way maligning the system, and I’ve continued to use components of gymnastic strength training, although some of the exercises are not terribly portable because you’d require something like a Stahl wall, for instance, and people can look that up, S-T-A-H-L, which is an incredible piece of equipment, but you don’t find it in very many places. I have, however, continued with gymnastic strength training on the calisthenic or bodyweight side, so I’m doing plenty of inversion training, otherwise known as handstands, although there are many different variations, farm stands, et cetera. I am continuing with developing active strength and active flexibility in the end ranges, and that could be through doing Jefferson curls with, say, kettlebells or any number of things like pike pulses, which you can also look up.
Those are found in Tools of Titans as well. All right, so let’s get now back to the live stream. All right. Denis P. “Would I ever have David Goggins on the podcast?” I would have him on the podcast. David Goggins has also done an excellent job of appearing on many podcasts, so I don’t know if I would be able to cover new ground, and that often gives me just a bit of hesitation, but Goggins is incredible, and in fact, I had looked at David Goggins back in 2009, 2010 as it related to the endurance chapters in The 4-Hour Body, but ended up not being able to connect with him in time to include something for publication.
All right. Let’s look at some more of these questions. Bear with me. All right. This is from Kale Panoho, if I’m getting that right, or maybe Kale Panoho, “When you’re learning about a new subject, do you still follow the DS3 method from The 4-Hour Chef, given everything you’ve learned about learning since publishing. Any possible alterations to learning?”
I’m sure there are many alterations, but for those who don’t know, the DS3 refers to — let’s see if I can remember exactly what the acronyms are at this point because it’s so second nature to me. The first is deconstruction, so that’s breaking down a skill, whether it’s swimming or learning Japanese, or chess, or podcasting or anything else into smaller component skills, so identifying the elements that constitute this larger skill so that you can break it down into more addressable pieces. Then, you have selection. That’s the first S, and this is effectively 80/20 analysis. You’re looking for the 20 percent of material or less.
The 20 is somewhat arbitrary, that provides you with 80 percent of the utility or the performance. In language, for instance, this would very easily be demonstrated through high-frequency word lists. Some words are used more often than others. If you choose the proper, say 1,200 to 2,000 words based on high-frequency by looking at ideally material that reflects conversation, but it could be newspapers, textbooks and so on, you can really develop conversational fluency, or at least adequacy in eight to 12 weeks in most languages. That’s my belief and experience, and selection, being first indicates that I believe material beats method, so what you choose to study, what you choose to practice is more important ultimately than how you practice, because you can get very good at efficiently studying or practicing things that are of very little importance. All right, so we have deconstruction, we have selection, then we have sequencing, and this is deciding in what order to practice things.
For instance, recently, when I was looking at rock climbing and applying this lens, one recommendation that came up a lot was fingerboard training, but fingerboard training can also produce a lot of injuries because your connective tissue, your tendons and ligaments develop strength, tensile strength, and diameter at a much slower rate than your skill and muscular development. Therefore, whether it’s in powerlifting or specially in something where using the smaller digits a lot, as in rock climbing, you can really injure yourself, so as a function of going through this process and looking at sequencing, I decided that even though it was recommended many, many, many, many, many times, I would push the fingerboard inclusion to at least, say, six months into my training, and only if I had achieved a certain level of proficiency, technically speaking. Then last, you have stakes, stakes, S-T-A-K-E-S. You can think of that as consequences, and that could take the form of a bet with a friend, say, for weight loss. Very, very effective.
It could take the form of prepaying and committing to some type of group exercise, whereby you are both financially benefiting from some sunk cost in terms of attendance, and then also getting the both encouragement and as necessary, ball-busting from a group of people if you don’t attend and comply. I still use this with just about everything, so yes, the answer is I still use DS3 or DSSS, as described at great length in The 4-Hour Chef in the meta-learning section. All right. Let’s go back. Bear with me one second here.
All right. Kale is just like the vegetable kale. There we go. All right. “Regarding rock climbing,” this is from Jordan Bourne, great name, “Are you familiar with Dave MacLeod?” I’m not familiar with Dave MacLeod, M-C —
Let me take that back, M-A-C-L-E-O-D. “He has written a few books on training for rock climbing, as well as putting out a lot of good content on YouTube.” I’ll take a look. Thank you. Brian Williams: “How is the work with wolf conservation, or how is the work with wolf conservation going? What are the impacts of your support?”
This is a great question, and this is a very controversial subject. It’s called the Middle East of conservation by a lot of people for good reasons. There are many issues with wolf conservation or reintroduction. If people want to understand perhaps some of the reasons for reintroducing the arguments for reintroduction or conservation, they can listen to my podcast episode with Mike Phillips, who led the reintroduction effort at Yellowstone.
I think there are many arguments, whether it’s related to trophic cascade and sort of ecosystem development, and people can look at a short documentary called, I think it’s called How Wolves Change Rivers or Why Wolves Change Rivers. The only sort of cinematography mistake that I would point out is I think they refer to elk and they show deer, or they refer to deer and they show elk individuals, but if you can allow that not to distract you, I think it makes a good point about how the absence or presence of one species, especially a predator that keeps herbivores moving, can affect everything. Since we also extirpated, meaning locally or regionally exterminated the gray wolf from many of its, sort of natural historical range, if we’re running into problems, as you had witnessed, say where I grew up in Long Island with rampant Lyme disease and deer overpopulation with no natural predators, I think there is an argument to be made for introduction. The work that I did, if you see tim.blog/wolf, you can look at some of what I tried to facilitate in Colorado and elsewhere, I think is having an impact on the national conversation. Unfortunately, wolves as a symbol have become part of identity politics and they’re basically an outlet for some upset and frustration and aggression that is most easily applied to something that can be killed easily like a wolf, so we’re seeing, I think overharvesting and overkilling of wolves.
I do not believe, or I should restate, I do believe there is a place for the management of wolves, the culling of wolves, and the management of those populations through hunting, for instance. I absolutely believe that there is a place for that, but that, as it would be the case with elk or anything else, they need to be monitored very closely and those policies should be informed based on science and not based on sort of populist politics, and it’s a touchy subject. There is an article that lays this out. It’s actually very well done. It’s a feature piece called “The Way of the Wolf Woman” or something like that. Might be “Wolf Lady” in the New Yorker, so if you just search “Wolf Lady” or “Wolf Woman” and New Yorker, this piece will pop up.
It paints a very compelling nonpartisan picture because the fact of the matter is, there are individual ranchers who are significantly affected by wolf predation on livestock, and there are many ways to mitigate that with flattery and other techniques that are non-lethal, but the fact remains that some individual ranchers really have their livelihood affected by wolf populations. However, as a whole, the effect on livestock, and this has been studied at Colorado State University and many other places, the effect on livestock over time is very, very minimal. I have some posts on social that is sharing the research related to that, but again, these are controversial subjects that provoke a lot of emotions, and as soon as we get into red line territory, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the right or the left or somewhere in between, it’s a big fucking mess. That having been said, if you want to learn more, I suggest listening to my episode with Mike Phillips, who’s a fascinating guy, and you can check out tim.blog/wolf for part of what I was involved with, and I have more involvement likely coming, so that is that. It was a long one.
All right. Let me dive in. Okay. Another live one, this is from Andy Donovan, “Tim, you’ve talked about having kids one day. Any thoughts on what you would teach them at home, which you would worry they wouldn’t learn at school, or indeed which they might need to survive school?” This is a great question.
I think the two things that come to mind immediately are optimism and resilience. I do think that the infantilization of, not just adults, but children in the United States, handling everything and everyone with kid gloves ultimately produces very, very fragile people. If the culture by and large wants to swing in that direction, that’s fine, but I will want to ensure that my kids are as resilient and confident and optimistic as possible, and I think part of that will be both loving them unconditionally, maybe what you would think of as motherly love, but also having very high standards and encouraging them to try things that they think they can’t do, or that they think will be very difficult, or they think will be very uncomfortable, and that is how you build confidence, through competence. You can’t think your way, reason your way into confidence if you haven’t actually put in the time and put in the flight time and mileage to develop skills and resilience under duress. You have to do things to develop persistent and durable confidence.
I think those are a number of things that I would focus on the forms those would take. I am not sure, but I think that there are many, many good role models, fortunately, who I know a lot of them are coming out of military, and they’ve basically turned, in a few cases, turned their daughters into Hanna, if anyone wants to watch the trailer to Hanna, H-A-N-N-A. I’m saying that only half-kidding, but at the end of the day, their kids are very capable, very tough, and very happy from what I can tell, so I’m going to try to emulate that as much as possible. All right, let’s look at some questions from those submitted. Next one is from Brad Patterson: “Outside of psychedelics, what other somatic experience/physical modality has created the largest positive shifts for you?”
I would say there are two that, three that immediately come to mind, and I’ll give you the answer though, if I had to pick one, and I would say the one answer I would choose would be AcroYoga, if I had to choose one, because of its effects on my relationship with my beloved, my significant other, because of its blend of mobility and strength in end ranges, as well as athleticism overall, and those are not automatically the same thing. Sort of adaptable athleticism is not the same as being really good at six lifts in a few planes of motion, and I think that even though this has changed more recently — I remember a number of years when there was a softball or baseball throwing competition within the CrossFit Games. You can look at those videos to see just how poorly people did who were not previously competitive athletes in multiplanar sports with rotation and so on, so AcroYoga, on top of that, is just fun. It is a blast and you always end up laughing because you’re going to make mistakes and it’s pretty funny.
Usually pretty funny when you do, assuming that you’re being safe about it. AcroYoga is really combination of acrobatics, acrobatic training, which you can think of on some level as gymnastics and therapeutics, so it’s also a blend not only of the strength training and agility and flexibility, but at the end of sessions, you would also experience, in an ideal session, say 15 minutes of partner, time massage for recovery in the cool-down. And you get very good at both building and restoring. And I think those are incredible. So I’ve learned a tremendous amount through AcroYoga, particularly in working with Jason Nemer, N-E-M-E-R, look him up. He’s amazing. I’ve also had him on the podcast.
The two others that I would mention quickly are — I’ll mention three more. GST, so that’s the Gymnastic Strength Training, still a component. And I still think there’s a lot to be gained from gymnastic strength training GST, per coach Sommer, S-O-M-M-E-R. If you search his name and my name, a bunch will pop up. The next is very incremental, Happy Body Training. And Happy Body Training is going to sound hilarious to a lot of people and it should, but they can look up Jerzy, J-E-R-Z-Y, Gregorek, G-R-E-G-O-R-E-K. His wife’s name is Aniela Gregorek. A-N-I-E-L-A. They both have multiple world records in Olympic weightlifting and are originally from Poland. They have devised a system of training that is truly remarkable. And with what I might call micro stretches, where you’re really only sustaining an end range for a half a second or a second, maybe less, but doing repetitions with weight. The gains that I’ve seen in mobility and active flexibility through their program is just incredible. It’s really remarkable. And combined with that would be Olympic weightlifting, but I never got very aggressive with it.
However, using as a training goal and as a training standard, the meat and potatoes of some of my training, in addition to kettlebell swings, the overhead squats became an incredible tool for diagnosing weaknesses and deficits to fix, but also really just developing overall functionality. And that would be overhead squats with a barbell pressed overhead as if you were doing a military press and then dropping down to an ass to heels Olympic squat, which also over time developed much more mobility and flexibility in my ankles, which helped with the plantar fasciitis, as was mentioned earlier.
And last was swimming. I learned to swim in my 30s. If you look at my first TED Talk, it describes how I used Total Immersion Swimming by Terry Laughlin, who’s also been on the podcast. So you can go to ted.com and search my name and the first TED Talk that I gave focused quite a bit on swimming. And that’ll give you an idea of how I learned to swim and how it became a moving meditation at that point.
All right, Jon Lamb is the next one: “What vacation or place you’ve traveled to would you most like to go back to?” There are many places I love, but the first two that come to mind are Italy and Taiwan. I’ve spent some time in both. It’s been decades since I really spent meaningful time in either. And I love the people and the cultures and the food of both. So Italy and Taiwan are two that come to mind.
And I’ll do one more in these submitted and then I’ll come back to the live. So the next one is Joel Cherrico. “What are one or two of your super long-term big goals?” I generally don’t have super long-term big goals. I tend to view things as two week experiments within six month projects. And then I look at what windows, what doors open, I guess, is more of the expression for opportunities. Don’t jump out of any windows, but you can walk through doors. And very often I find that if I apply myself fully to being excellent or at least diligent in an experiment for two weeks or projects for six months, like experimenting with fiction right now, the opportunities that I will have and the lenses that I will gain through which I can look the world and my life are things I cannot predict at the outset. So I don’t generally have super long-term, but if I had to pick a few things and I don’t know if these qualify as super long-term, hopefully they’re not super long term.
Two related to psychedelic science and psychedelics. One would be to get to the point sooner rather than later, that the federal government or the agencies within the federal government, like the NMIH, NIH, et cetera, are providing funding to scientists doing research related to psychedelic compounds. On the clinical side, on the basic side, across the board. And that is a significant problem currently, because since, let’s just call it 1971, the Controlled Substance Act under the Nixon administration, once these compounds were put into schedule one, which means high potential for abuse, no known medical application, both of which are ridiculous for most of these compounds, it was impossible, if not at least close to impossible, but generally impossible to get any type of federal funding for these studies, which meant scientists had to spend a lot of their time doing two things, going to philanthropists, usually for small dollar amounts, which is incredibly time consuming.
Secondly, they had to write grants and grant applications for other types of work, unrelated to their core interest of psychedelics, to pay their salaries and ensure that they would be able to support their families while pursuing this interest in the therapeutic applications of psychedelic compounds. So they were spending a ton of time simply to ensure they had a bare minimum of funding to do small studies, because that’s all they could afford. The other option, in the last few years especially, so either high-time, low-dollar amount philanthropic fundraising plus grants, or they could take money from well-funded for-profit companies, startups, and that’s not intrinsically bad, but it’s fast, easy money with a lot of strings attached, generally speaking. And rightly so. If I were a company, I would want certain IP provisions, I would want maybe certain types of data exclusivity, and that can get very squirrely and start to look like big pharma lockdown very quickly.
[Morse code sound effect]
Breaking news update. Very exciting. Since the recording of this episode, Dr. Matthew Johnson, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, received a U01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, otherwise known as NIDA, to study psilocybin for tobacco addiction. It’s the first grant from the US government in half a century to directly study a classic psychedelic. This is a huge deal and decades in the making. This has also been a primary hope and target of mine for the last several years, and I’m super, super excited to be involved with the Hopkins team. So congratulations to Matthew and team. There are also some other folks to watch very closely Ben Kelanmendi at Yale and others. But suffice to say, that is a very exciting update since the recording of this episode.
[End news update]
So I would like the scientists to have a third major source of funding, which is the federal government. So that is one I’m very heavily focused on. And I’m hoping the initiative at Harvard Law School that just launched, which I’m a part of, it’s called Poplar, the Project on Psychedelic Law and Regulation will be able to help with that. And I hope they will also be able to help with insurance reimbursement. So getting to the point where these psychedelic therapies are reimbursable through insurance, which means a broader patient population has access. Because right now, even if they’re rescheduled and prescribable, the therapies will be very expensive because you have preparation, you have integration, you have sessions that are say four to eight hours in length. All of this equals expensive. So to make it available to millions of people who are suffering with say complex PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, et cetera, you need insurance reimbursement. So that was the second big one for me.
And then last, but certainly not least is building a family and moving into fatherhood and being a partner to my lovely, lovely beloved. And I think that will be a huge phase shift for me. And TBD what that means. But those are a few of my super long-term big in all caps goals. All right.
Let’s take a look at what we have here. I’ll do my best to answer some more. Sheila McQueen, if I’m getting that right. “There’s been a lot of talk of experiential therapy techniques like psychedelics.” Do you think there are any there — let me try that again. I think there’s a typo here, but that’s okay. “Are there any promising research or research programs using VR gaming?” I’m not aware of them, although I know that there are some researchers, including Andrew Huberman, who I mentioned earlier, is a neurobiologist at Stanford who have captured footage of, for instance, great white sharks in the hopes that they can take these type of stimuli and turn them into visual representations in VR so that they can study, not just fear, but fear extinction and the contending with phobias and so on, using virtual reality as a tool, as a modality. I think there’s a lot there. It may take a while until the potential is demonstrated definitively in some fashion, or maybe not, nothing’s definitive, but in a compelling way with some type of clinical study. But I do think there’s tremendous promise and we just have to look at 2D gaming to see where it could go in 3D gaming or simulations or therapies.
And Adam Gazzaley, G-A-Z-Z-A-L-E-Y, who recently launched along with Robin Carhart-Harris and others, the Psychedelics Division of Neuroscape at UCSF, which is a very, very big deal, Adam, with some of his previous research, he and his team developed software called, A-K-I-L-I is the spelling, and it recently became the first FDA approved treatment for ADHD as software. So I do think that digital therapies in 2D and 3D and in virtual reality, augmented reality, will be, certainly should be tested as legitimate interventions and tools.
All right. Let’s check here. See some more. All right. So Jordan chimed in. “There’s a psychedelic VR experience called TRIPP, T-R-I-P-P, is trying to do something like this. No idea on anything beyond that.” Certainly there are going to be people who want to replicate or simulate the benefits of psychedelic treatments without psychedelics themselves. There is a company called [Resonant] also that is doing some interesting work in this space. And take a look at that. And many others, so this will be a crowded and very, very exciting space. So I do expect some innovation to come through.
All right, question from Brad Patterson. Favorite book from past a year. Let me reread that. It’s a question from Brad. “Favorite book from past year. I read both Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life, which is a great book, and Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss –” Good for you. That’s a long one. “– per your recs and enjoyed.” Thanks. Well, I would reiterate that The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life by Boyd Varty is excellent. That’s a very short read for people that are looking for something, that I found very compelling and very short. The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss is by Dennis McKenna, and that is not short, but certainly for those interested in psychedelics and interested in the history and the biography of not just Dennis, who wrote this as an autobiography, but his brother Terence McKenna, who is very well known, thought of as the Irish bard of psychedelics and was author or co-author of things like The Archaic Revival, True Hallucinations, and many others.
New books. I would say that Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez. And I think it’s Of, somebody could tell me it might be On Wolves, but I think it’s Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read in my life. It is incredible. It is just, just phenomenal. So I would definitely recommend that people check that out and I’m going to do a quick search to double check the name of that. The title of that. Barry Lopez also wrote Arctic Dreams for which he won many, many awards. His non-fiction is absolutely incredible. So let me look, Barry Lopez, Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez. That is the title. The cover, the original cover is absolutely stunning. I have it in hardcover. I very rarely have things in hardcover. That was given to me as a gift.
And I was supposed to be socializing and spending time with my girlfriend’s family in fact. And I did, I did spend time with them, but I was so pulled into, engrossed by this book that I started reading it with every free moment that I had. I carried it around with me everywhere, to the restaurant to the park, everywhere, I just carried this book with me. So I would say Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez would be my recommendation.
And let me take a look at a couple more. Darcy Leflar has a question. “Since moving to Austin, it appears to me that you’ve become more reflective. If this is the case, what brought this about? What has been the impact on your life?” I think I have been reflective in the last few years, and I think that that can be attributed in part to moving to Austin, certainly, but more so it’s moving out of San Francisco. I think that I would have been more reflective had I moved to, who knows? Montana or Pennsylvania, as long as I was outside of a major city. Even though Austin is a city, it is not one dominated by a monoculture or a mono conversation, in the same way that San Francisco is dominated by tech. It is pervasive. It is soaked, drenched in tech, tech, tech. Los Angeles in many parts is drenched and soaked in entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.
And it’s very easy to end up in, not just an echo chamber, but in a race where you feel like a greyhound chasing that rabbit around the track and you never quite catch it. No one quite catches it. Everyone is agreed upon the rules, seems to think it’s important. And it’s a pole to the external in many senses. So by removing myself somewhat from that environment, even though Austin has a million people or so in the greater Austin area, I’ve been able to recalibrate and think about which interests of mine are actually mine or those that I’ve absorbed or inherited. Which drives of mine are mine or simply absorbed through osmosis in some conscious or unconscious way, subconscious way, if need be. And I think that has caused me particularly as I contemplate family, fatherhood and so on, it has brought up a lot of the big questions. Where do I want to be and why? What do I want to be doing and why? What do I not want to be doing and why? Who do I want to spend more time with?
As the horizon at the vanishing point, at the end of my life draws closer, now that I am at least based on the historical ages of death in my family on both sides for men, I’m past the halfway mark, who do I want to deepen relationships with? Do I want to deepen relationships with people I already know? Do I want to develop new friendships? And in either case, why with whom? And these are questions that take time, at least for me, to explore properly and to really think on and to journal on and to test also. So I think that it’s been the removal from a high density, urban environment with a monoculture or a mono conversation. I should note that even in a rural place or a smaller city, it is possible to put yourself in circumstances such that you end up in echo chambers. So I’ve also been very deliberate about trying to avoid that. And I hope that helps you answer the question.
I’ve also had a lot of death in my family. My uncle just in the last few weeks died of an alcohol-induced heart failure and passed away on the day, literally to the day, of Richard Nixon’s announcement of the drug war 50 years ago, calling public enemy number one drugs. And it just goes to highlight for me at least that better treatments are the answer, not necessarily better punishments. And these have all caused me to pause, these types of events, periods of mourning and so on. So whether I like it or not, I’ve been given opportunities to reflect. And I’m grateful, at least for that.
Let me take a look here. Looking at a bunch of these, it takes me a little while to read. So thanks for the patience. Okay. Here’s one. Peter Grahn, I think, G-R-A-H-N. “Have you ever been in any of the Scandinavian countries — Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland — and what is your image as an American of these countries?” Well, I have spent time in Sweden, in Norway, and in Denmark. I’ve not yet visited Finland, but I would love to make it to Finland and do some rally racing. You guys have some incredible, incredible racers. And even some of the techniques in rally car racing, like the pendulum swing, is also called the Finnish Flick. So I’d love to come to Finland at some point. What is my image? I wouldn’t say I have an image across the board of Scandinavians, because in my experience I’ve found Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes to be quite different, but I came away with a very, very favorable impression.
I’ve spent a good amount of time in all three and some of my blood is from Denmark. So when I went there, I remember I launched The 4-Hour Workweek in Danish. I decided to go to Denmark. I’d never been at that time. And it was hilarious, because I was walking around, pretty much bald, as is, looking as I do, and it was like reverse Where’s Waldo. So in Japan, you could see a crowd of 5,000 people and be like, “There’s Tim.”
In Denmark, that was impossible. I looked like 90 percent of the people there. And so we were relaunching The 4-Hour Workweek, which I think is Fire-Timers Arbejdsuge, something like that. And I was having drinks with the publisher and the editor who was responsible for this book. And I said, “Yeah, but something, something, I have this huge head and this gigantic bridge troll forehead, which I get made fun of and have been made fun of forever in the United States. I have a huge head. I look like bobblehead in the United States. And that’s part of the reason I continue to weight train, because I need a big enough neck and body not to look like a lollipop.” And everyone had had a bit of booze at that point. And the editor said, “You don’t have a huge head. You have a normal Danish head.” And that made me feel a lot better about myself. So I have a very, very positive association with Scandinavian countries. Would not surprise me at all if I ended up spending a bunch more time in Scandinavia in fact.
All right, let me take a look here. Trey Baldwin: “I loved your podcast with Jerry Seinfeld. I’d love to hear you and Steve Martin talk.” I would love to do a podcast with Steve Martin. I don’t know if he would be game or not. If you were game, I would love to do it. I think his book, [Born Standing Up], something along those lines, his autobiography. I listened to an audio, which I recommend everyone do. And I did that a long time ago when it first came out. It is spectacular. It is one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy, especially via audio. So yes, if Steve Martin is out there listening or anyone who is close to him, I would love to have him on the show.
All right. The Intrepid Guide. Here’s a question. “Hey, Tim, how do you maintain the languages you’ve studied? Do you have one tip you recommend for language learners?” Yes. If you are working on multiple languages, well, number one, go to tim.blog. There is a topics: languages or language learning link on the right-hand side. And if you click on that, there are a number of articles that go into great depth about this. There are articles by Ben, the Irish Polyglot. There are articles by many others who have learned five, six, 10, 12 languages, and they talk at length about this. In my case, I try to create a chain of languages, such that I’m reviewing a prior language as I’m learning a new language. So for instance, when I learned Spanish, and this was a long time ago, 2004, 2005, mostly in Argentina, I chose one Japanese comic book series, because a lot of the Japanese comic book series A, have dozens of volumes. You’re not going to run out of material. And they’re popular enough to have been translated into just about any popular language. And the comic books are by definition conversational. A lot of it is dialogue, 90 plus percent of it is dialogue.
So you’re getting spoken language instead of written language. So I chose One Piece, which is a very, very popular comic book. And I had the Japanese version and then I had the Spanish version and page by page, they are identical. And I would read in Spanish to the extent that I could. And if I came across something I didn’t know, I would then go to the Japanese and I would look at the Japanese version and see if that reminded me of the proper word. If I could translate the Japanese in other words. So I would use the Japanese to reinforce the Spanish and Spanish to reinforce the Japanese. The Japanese was one I already knew. The Spanish is my target.
Then I learned Spanish pretty well. My Spanish now is rusty, but I can get by. Keeping in mind this is 2004, 2005. So 16 years ago, I haven’t studied since. And then when I later in, I suppose 2005 it would have been, wanted to learn German, and I might be getting these two mixed up actually. It might’ve been German first, but nonetheless, the illustration will be coherent. When I then wanted to learn German, I had the Spanish version of One Piece. And let’s say learning Spanish, I’d gone from volume 10 to 15, right? Each volume is 200 pages or something. Then I picked up at 16 and I had the German One Piece, and then I had the Spanish One Piece. So I would try to read the German. If I couldn’t, I would go to the Spanish. And if the Spanish wouldn’t get it done, then I would go to an electronic dictionary. Now you have Google Translate, so it makes it a lot easier and so on and so forth. So I created these chains, these connected links of one language to the next.
But I highly suggest for those interested in digging into this, I think some of the best articles written on the web about language learning are on my blog at tim.blog. And you can find the language learning topic or tag. And I can say that comfortably because many of the best articles are written by other people.
All right. Vaibhav Methuku, I think the name is. “What principles have you learned from chess that you can use outside of the game?” Quite a few. And if anyone saw The Tim Ferriss Experiment episode where I did chess and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I think this is a good illustration. And you can also find a discussion of this in The 4-Hour Chef. There’s actually pretty extensive discussion of Josh Waitzkin, his work with Pandolfini, I think it was, and various principles that he applies and that I apply in other areas. I would suggest if you’re looking for the translation of chess principles, high-level chess principles, to many other fields, pick up a book called The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. So The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, W-A-I-T-Z-K-I-N. He was the second or third ever podcast I did on this podcast that now has almost 600 episodes. And every episode with him, I think, is solid gold. So you can also listen to the first episode with him.
Some of those would be learning the macro from the micro. So taking or creating scenarios of decreased or minimal complexity. Let’s just say going to the endgame in chess and having king and pawn versus king, to learn the macro principles that will allow you to then become a better chess player when all of the pieces are involved. There are a number of others. I’ll leave it at that for now, but learning the macro from the micro with simulated conditions of reduced complexity is something that he’s applied all over the place to chess, to investing, to Taiji Push Hands, in which he was a world champion, to Brazilian jiu-jitsu in which he became the first black belt under Marcelo Garcia, who is considered the greatest of all time, nine time world champion and so forth and so on. So those are a few that come to mind.
Let me take a look at some of these submitted questions. The Intrepid Guide update: “Thank you for answering my question. What you described as chains is called laddering.” There you go. So it’s called laddering. There you go. So it’s called laddering. There you have it folks. All right.
All right. So a question from Taimur Shah: “Tim, I feel often like my energy to think is –” let me try that again. “Tim, I feel often like my energy to think deliberately is low. How can I improve this?” My recommendation would first and foremost be to get comprehensive blood testing with your doctor, because you may identify, especially if you do a sort of micronutrient analysis on top of that, that you have some type of deficiency or some type of explainable issue that can be treated. It’s not necessarily a thyroid issue for instance, but there are things like hypothyroidism that could explain something like this. There are many other things. Perhaps you have a selenium deficiency, perhaps you’re taking too much zinc and you’ve developed in response, a copper deficiency, right? So overdoing it with supplements and drugs can produce various issues. But, top number one is talking to your physician and getting comprehensive blood testing. All right. Let me take a look at some of the questions here. All right.
Question from Matt Ridley: “Outside of sleep, what is your biggest force multiplier?” Five to 20 minutes of exercise in the morning with sun exposure, even without sun exposure, I think there’s tremendous value and as soon as you get up doing five to 20 minutes of exercise, that could be just about anything that moves your body. And I do think that motion, whether that’s jumping rope, kettlebell swings, something dynamic, swimming is of great value. It seems to really turn on my neural drive in a way that helps my cognition and mood tremendously for the rest of the day. It is astonishing how big a difference even two minutes of jumping rope outside, like everybody is two minutes, you have no excuse not to do two minutes of something, but doing two minutes of jumping rope outside in the sun. Seriously, if that’s all I do, it is a complete step function change in how I feel and how I think for the rest of the day.
Could be placebo, I don’t really care if it is placebo, but that would be the force multiplier. Outside of sleep, five to 20 minutes exercise in a.m., which consequently helps with sleep also. So it’s a two for one. All right. Let’s see. Miralivi: “What about cold showers first thing in the a.m.? Yeah, I like that too. I like exercise more, but what I’ll often do right now is I will exercise for the five to 20 minutes and then take a cold shower to rinse off and then move on with the day. So, that’s how I approach it. All right. This is a question from Alex. “After undergoing isolation, stress, and trauma, how would you suggest individuals deal with the lingering psychological effects and cognitive biases of the pandemic (heightened scarcity, mindset, risk aversion, et cetera) so that one can keep making growth based decisions as opposed to fear-based ones?” And there’s more to it, but I’ll tackle that first.
So the first thing I would say is the cognitive biases or frames that remain at this point. And I should say during, and not after the pandemic, because I don’t think we are clearly out of the woods yet. Certainly not on a global scale. Fear has a place, and fear can be a teacher, and we have evolved to observe and learn from cues in our environment. So having a certain degree of fear, or apprehension, or wanting to have extra cash reserves right now, I don’t view as a pathological adaptation. I think that is actually very reasonable. So, while I don’t think it’s additive probably or healthy to sit in your house on the floor, rocking yourself all day with the curtains drawn, if you have something like complex PTSD, I don’t think that is. I think that is maladaptive ultimately long-term, but if you’re simply behaving a little more conservatively because of what has happened in world and local events over the last year, I think that’s a very intelligent adaptation. So I don’t take that to be a bad thing. However, to address your question more directly, I’ll give you two things.
So the first I think is to, and I’ve learned this the hard way multiple times, rather than trying to fix or suppress scarcity mindset, risk aversion, anxiety. If you want to begin to improve the situation, I find that reading a book like Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach is incredibly helpful. If you were trying to block things out, or compartmentalize them, or get rid of them, I do find you can do a lot of damage in the process. And the solution is very rarely a long-term durable solution. So Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, which was recommended to me at one point by a neuroscience PhD, which was very surprising. I think that book is spectacular. If you’re interested in a therapeutic modality, a therapy that can complement that or be done independently, I think IFS, Internal Family Systems, is exceptional and I’ve seen tremendous results personally from that, for that reason, I had Dick Schwartz, or Richard Schwartz, on the podcast.
So if you search my name and IFS, that podcast should pop right up. And I suggest listening to that and the last, and this is effective, highly effective for worrying and anxiety side note. I remember someone said to me, worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. I thought that was quite clever, and memorable, and useful to keep in mind, but the book is an old one. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. Pretty sure I’m getting the title right. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. I have yet to meet a single person, I should say a friend. I’ve yet to run into a single close friend of mine, who’s been suffering from anxiety, who has not benefited from this book and come back and been incredibly happy that they read it.
Some of it’s going to be outdated. That’s fine. It’s an older book, but it is outstanding. So Radical Acceptance, the book IFS is a training modality, you can get a taste of it. I do a live demonstration of it on the podcast with Dick Schwartz, and then How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. All right, let me take another look here at the submitted questions and we’re making good progress here. So I’m going to keep going, if you want to keep going, we’re at one hour, but I’m just going to keep rolling because I’m having a good time. Side note on finance and money. For those who are looking at the video, you can see this painted circle. It looks kind of like the Eye of Sauron. It’s this red circle with a yellow and white center and green on the canvas around it.
I have had more compliments on this piece of artwork from people who’ve seen it than perhaps any other piece of our work I’ve ever had. This was bought for $60 at a warehouse yard sale, basically, so for what that’s worth. Katie Wood asks: “What advice would you give to someone just getting started in podcasting? Or what would you have done differently when you first started? Note: I realized that very few people actually can monetize their podcasts in a meaningful way, so I’m not as interested in that as I am in making something worth listening to. Thanks, as always.” You’re welcome, Katie, let me take a stab at this. What would I do differently? I wouldn’t do anything differently. I think I made all the right mistakes and I think I approached it in a way that I’m very, very happy with. And I’m going to rephrase something that you said though, if that’s all right, you said, and I’m summarizing here, but “I’m interested in making something worth listening to”; I would suggest you think about creating a podcast by asking, “How can I make this worth doing personally for me?”
And the way I thought about that was informed by conversations I’ve had with Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. He’s written about this extensively, and he has excellent, excellent writing and essays on this, but how to win even if you lose. And he and I also talked about this on the podcast. So if you want to listen to that, you can find him there. By the way, he also predicted everything that happened with Trump well in advance of anyone thinking it was anything more than a joke. So his predictive powers are also pretty good. But the way I approached podcasting was asking myself, what skills can I develop, and which people can I develop or deepen relationships with by doing this so that even if I stop after six episodes and I had initially committed to six episodes, I think it’s important to commit to some critical mass of say six to 10 episodes, because you will need the repetitions to develop skills.
And as a consequence of developing better skills to deepen relationships or develop relationships with people. And I approached it as a win-win proposition in the sense that I enjoy researching and interviewing people. That is my favorite part of putting together my books, is identifying experts, interviewing them, and pulling out unusual findings. That’s my favorite part of the book writing process. I was burned out after The 4-Hour Chef. I didn’t want to even look at a book for a while, at least a couple of years. And I realized that by doing the podcast, because I’d really enjoyed being on a few podcasts during The 4-Hour Chef launched specifically Nerdist podcast, Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, and others. Some of the longer form podcasts, really enjoyed being on that side. And I thought to myself, if I approach this in the right way, I can become better at interviewing and therefore I can become better doing research, which will help future books.
If I decided to go back to books and I’ll interview people initially people I know, because it will be less intimidating and they’ll hopefully be more forgiving. Although Kevin Rose busted my balls like crazy in the very first episode because that’s Kevin and that’s what good friends do, but I approached it so that even if I had zero listeners, it would still be a success after six episodes. And on top of learning to ask better questions in listening to the audio, I would be able to identify and fix verbal tics and by fixing verbal tics, like, like, um, you know, so, et cetera, et cetera, you become a better thinker. Usually the easiest way to do that is through writing, is to trap your writing on paper and then you can edit or have proofreaders edit your thinking. It’s very hard to do in conversation unless you record.
And you can not just record, but you can transcribe so that you can review transcripts and see just how awful your verbal tics look when they are put on the printed page. So those are a few suggestions, but think about how you can win, how you can be really happy you spent the time doing it. And in my case, that’s developing skills, developing relationships, deepening relationships. And an example of that would be in the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping to interview my parents. I’m not planning on ever publishing those. I hope to share those with my kids when they’re old enough, but that’s really to deepen my relationship with my parents and also to have a recording of them in vivid detail and rich depth for my own kids, because my grandparents passed away when I was very young, I really didn’t get to know them very well.
And that’s an example of sort of winning no matter what, even if no one in this case, your attention is kids, but even if you don’t have a guaranteed audience, if that makes any sense. Okay, one more submitted question then I’ll go back to live. This is from Ivey Patton. “Any thoughts on gap year travel/alt ed for young adults, not in lieu of college necessarily, but as a way to better understand yourself before the enormous investment of a college education — furthering the truth that not all classrooms have four walls and not all people are cut out for desk learning. So perhaps the question is: do you think college is a must?” Well, let me back up and comment on the lead, which was related to gap year. I think that almost everyone would benefit from having the option of a gap year in the United States.
And I would love one option for that gap year to be national service of some type that could be Peace Corps, it could be volunteering with a national nonprofit like Teach For America, it could be military, it could be anything, but, and that was actually suggested on this podcast. So I’ve observed a lot from my guests, but I do think a gap year, whether that is traveling abroad, whether that is doing something in the United States, but stepping outside of the four walls of the classroom to really gain life experience that broadens your thinking of the world and the people in the world is tremendously, tremendously valuable. As to the question of whether or not college is a must, it’s hard to say that anything is a must. There are always exceptions, right? So I can’t say college is a must, but what I will say is that for, at this point in time, for most people, if we’re approaching it from a professional perspective, the vast majority of people will benefit from having a college degree.
There are always these tales of the Bill Gates, the Zuckerbergs, and so on, who drop out of Stanford, or Harvard, or wherever it might be. But there’s some fine print on that. That is really important. Those people very rarely drop out. They are not burning their ships. They’re taking a leave of absence. Many of these schools will allow you to take a leave of absence and come back and finish your degree at any point in time. That is not the same as dropping out. It is also not the same as not going to college. If you attend Stanford, if you attend Harvard, you say, “I dropped out of Stanford, I dropped out of Harvard,” and you succeed, and people repeat that, you are still getting the benefit of the blue chip branding associated with Stanford or Harvard, right? So it’s important to recognize that. And I would be very skeptical of anyone who has benefited a lot from a degree or a diploma.
If they tell you that you should not go to college, I would carefully assess how that has impacted their trajectory. For instance, going to Princeton helped me. It absolutely helped me. Was it necessary? Hard to say. But did it open doors? Did it allow me to get replies to emails and so on, where otherwise I think it would have been harder. Absolutely. So one could say from a professional perspective, I’m going to come back to the topic of education and cognition more broadly speaking. But from the professional perspective, one could make the argument that if you can get into an excellent school, it is more valuable than getting into a non excellent school. I happen to think again, for most people, a college degree is going to be of great benefit, whether or not it is a top tier school. When it gets to MBAs and things like that.
Professional degrees, graduate degrees, if you are doing it for professional advancement, let’s take a look at an MBA program. I think that the value of an MBA is dramatically lowered. If you are not going to one of the top 10, 15 schools in the country who are well known for their MBA programs, that advice could differ if you were coming out of a management consulting job, or one of the big five accounting firms. Within which getting an MBA is encouraged for career advancement promotion, where they pay your way, that is a different situation. All right, let’s come back to the broader question. Do you think college is a must? But now let’s look at it from the perspective of what I would consider in the most literal sense, not in the typical sense, a liberal arts education. So this again differs a little bit in from technical degrees, but I never received a technical degree so I can’t really speak to that.
I do think that going to a school, and not going to say it’s a must, but going to college, being forced to take mandatory coursework, and then depending on your department, having required coursework and course load broadens your intellectual curiosity. I do think at least in my case, you end up taking things that you expected not to like, that you really like. You take things that you thought you’d like, that you really don’t like. You take things that you thought you’d be terrible at, that you turn out to be pretty good at. You take classes you think are going to breeze, that completely kick your ass. And I do think that broader education with assignments, how old-fashioned am I, are really valuable to someone in that phase of life. That being the age range of an undergrad, because you don’t know what you want, even though you might think you do.
You don’t know what you’re best at. You don’t know where your life will be in two, three, four, five years. And it is absurd to think that you have comprehensive self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. You simply don’t, and you’re not cognizant of where you have the greatest potential either. In that case, I do think there’s a benefit to college, so to speak. Now, could that take the form of something online? Yes. Could it take the form of something in another format? Absolutely. But, most people left to their own devices without some investment of time and money and without the accountability of classmates and having to be a certain place at a certain time, or just not going to study as much as people who are operating within those constraints. And constraints aren’t always things that prevent you from doing what you want to do. Sometimes constraints are the things that you erect or that you deliberately engage with so that you can focus on doing the thing you want to do. So I think positive constraints are very important. So that’s the long answer, but Ivey Patton, I hope that helps.
Let’s take a look at some of the live questions. All right. Miguel Leite? Leite? I don’t know how you pronounce that. “Tim, how are you going to cope with sleepless nights once you become a father?” I have no idea. That’s one of those “I’ll figure it out when I get there” kind of things. I don’t know. I’m not looking forward to no sleep, but if my friends are any indication, they seem to adapt and not die. So I assume I will do the same. All right. Let me take a look here. Let me take a look. Let’s see. Jonas K: “Do you know Tea Time with Tynan?” And I don’t know Tea Time with Tynan. I’ve seen a bunch of tea times. People can look back at this podcast and that blog post and see that I did Tea Time with Tim quite a long time ago.
So I don’t know what’s going on with the tea times, but I do think I was one of the early adopters to Tea Time with X. So who knows? Maybe I’m an imitator. Maybe unbeknownst to me, I have copied many, many other people have done the same thing. I do not know. Let’s take a look. Oh, yeah, you guys haven’t seen the tea — with the Austin. That’s a tea, okey dokey. A question: “What’s my take on global warming? How are you preparing for possible worst case scenarios?” I am paying incredible attention to climate change and thinking about it on every possible level. I would say that it singularly is what produces the most existential anxiety and preoccupation in me. So I’m looking at it from every possible perspective and thinking about the implications on food security on migration, within countries, both in the US and elsewhere, water supply.
And I think we’re going to have a lot of trouble in the next 10 to 20 years, possibly sooner. So that is not a comprehensive answer, but I’m extremely occupied and preoccupied with thinking about climate change, and researching it, and spending time reading about the kind of latest findings and potential implications from experts. All right, Ruth Ann: “Also, that Eight Sleep Pod has changed my sleep life dramatically.” So that’s awesome to hear. I have an Eight Sleep right upstairs. I am a huge fan, especially when it’s 95-plus degrees outside, had the AC die, and if it weren’t for the Eight Sleep, I would have been just an omelet with zero hours of sleep. Let’s see. Question from Jessica Downey, “I’m joining late, so maybe you answered this already. Why are you suddenly hosting these more frequently? What do these sessions bring to you?”
Honestly, I don’t get out that much. I’m pretty introverted and very, very, very private with my personal life. So this is a way for me to engage socially and have fun, and meet people, and answer questions I never would have come up with on my own, and to also turn the tables and have a chance to just riff since I’m the one, usually asking the questions. So I get a lot out of this. I really, really dig it. Thank you for asking and thank you for joining. All right. There’s some questions about psychedelics and psychosis, schizophrenia, et cetera. I absolutely do not recommend psychedelics if you have had multiple psychotic episodes, or if you have history, a family history of schizophrenia or personal experiences with schizophrenia or a multiple personality disorder or anything like that, these compounds can absolutely in from what I’ve seen. And also this is supported by some degree of the research accelerate the onset of some of these conditions or exacerbate the symptoms and severity of some of these conditions.
So I absolutely would suggest that people who are concerned about that, not take psychedelics and with respect to my own manic depression or bipolar disorder, I experienced more symptom illogically or sort of phenomenologically, although that’s usually used in the context of fancy, fancy papers in my life, with respect to psychedelics. In terms of the presentation of symptoms, I experienced what resembles more major depressive disorder or treatment resistant depression. I don’t have much in terms of amplitude change with manic episodes. And I think the more you experience that, the higher the danger or the greater the risks involved. I am not suggesting that anyone with bipolar should use psychedelics. I should also note that I have access to pretty much every one of the world’s top experts with respect to psychedelics. Chances are that most people listening to me do not have that degree of professional guidance and input. So my suggestion would be if you have preexisting psychiatric conditions that you only use psychedelics in conjunction with advice from your psychiatrist and from your medical doctor. One first step there is to introduce them to How to Change Your Mind, the book by Michael Pollan. If they’re willing to read that, since I think also psychedelics represent the possible, I shouldn’t say the future of psychiatry, but a future paradigm that will dramatically change the nature of psychiatric treatment, and also overlap with, I think, in some cases, medical treatment, if you look at some of the beta-carbolines in ayahuasca, for instance, like harmine, I think there are tremendous possible applications to what we might consider physiological illnesses, right? Physical illnesses, IBS, Crohn’s, and so on, or neurological damage experienced by those who suffer from chronic depression, et cetera.
But this is all a very long way of saying if you have a pre-existing psychiatric condition, do not use psychedelics without discussing this and without the support and guidance of your psychiatrist, as well as your medical doctor, because whether you are on medication or not, there are significant risks. If you swim a little closer to the bank of chaos and entropy than the bank of rigidity, and I had a conversation with Graham Duncan about this on the podcast, but if you flow in this direction, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble with psychedelics. My cousin by marriage actually used a lot of LSD when he was young, and there are some in the family who think that that precipitated early onset of schizophrenic symptoms, and is very, very, very challenging. He’s fortunately doing extremely well now, but these are things you should be very careful with. So, cautionary notes complete, but work with your psychiatrist and your doctor, and you do need both.
Okay. Take a look at some more of the live questions. Okay. Take a look. Okay. Ranjeet Singh: “Am I still interested in Bitcoin crypto?” Yes. I’m still very interested in crypto and blockchain, although there is a sea of noise and garbage out there.
All right. Question here. “What do you think about The Incerto by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, or maybe it’s Incerto by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I haven’t read The Incerto or Incerto. I’m not sure how to pronounce that, honestly. But I have read The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and some of his other writing, and I find it tremendously compelling. I have not dug into Incerto, or The Incerto, Incerto, so I have no opinion of that, but Antifragile, Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, not necessarily in that order, I found all of them to be very thought-provoking and worth reading. I don’t say that lightly.
All right, let’s see what else we’ve got. Okay. Good. Bear with — actually, somebody pointed this out, and I should highlight it. Kevin Rose also has a fantastic podcast called Modern Finance, and I think it’s modern.finance on the web. You can find it wherever you find your podcasts. I think it’s at modern_fi on Twitter, but it is exceptional with respect to DeFi and new innovations in the world of finance banking, money, et cetera. All right. Let me take a look at a few more of these, and I’ll probably hop off in maybe 15, 20 minutes, if that’s okay with you guys. Even if it’s not okay with you guys, I’m going to do that.
All right. All right. Here’s a good question, and it’s related to my disclaimer and warning earlier. Linda E. Robledo, “I found myself asking if the subconscious should always be examined if we are functioning. Are we prepared to open Pandora’s box with use of psychedelic treatment options? It seems very scary to me, and not sure why. Will repression rear its ugly head later?” This is a great question and commentary. Always is a really strong word, and I think it’s aptly used here. So, should we always examine the subconscious if we are functioning? If you are highly functioning and things are going well, it would be hard for me to say that you should automatically use psychedelics or that you have to use psychedelics. They are not a panacea, there are risks involved, and you can open up Pandora’s box and experience things that will require processing.
So, if you don’t have space in your life to do that, if you don’t have slack in the system to contend with material that might come up, then you should consider very carefully whether or not this is a good time, or if there’s any good time for you to use these compounds. I am not a Messiah at all. I don’t view myself as a hammer looking for nails with psychedelics. They’re contra-indicated in many circumstances, they are extremely powerful. People who take them lightly generally get punished, and you can have long-term consequences that are very difficult to resolve. If you’re cavalier with some of these compounds, even if they have short duration in earth time, like 5-MeO-DMT, and 15 minutes, five to 15 minutes, and people refer to it as the businessman’s high and the businessman’s trip, this is a dramatic underestimation of just how de-stabilizing and reorienting or disorienting these compounds can be.
They’re very, very powerful. Some I continue to feel that they are and will be as important, as Stan Grof has said, as important to psychiatry and the understanding of the mind as the microscope was to biology and the telescope was to astronomy. I believe that. I completely believe that, both from firsthand experience and from the research, and from anecdotal reports in great numbers. Right along with that, you can inflict upon yourself instability or ontological shock that is incredibly difficult to contend with. So, I don’t think that one should always open up Pandora’s box with these compounds, nor do I think that everyone should use them even once. For many of these reasons, I also think it’s a great state of affairs and a great place right now with respect to phase three trials to have MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as the tip of the spear, because MDMA is a compound in the right context with properly trained therapists that is much easier to facilitate and to navigate, also to prepare for and to integrate, than classic psychedelics or novel, newer synthetic psychedelics.
I’m very pleased that we will hopefully have time with larger numbers of patients to refine the systems and the way in which these substances are administered, the way that adverse events are dealt with, with MDMA, before even psilocybin. I’m very, very pleased by that. Okay. Coming to next question. Casey Mercil: “What do you do to pattern interrupt when you notice you’re slipping into a low point? I find often that the fall gains momentum, and I would be curious how to hedge against this.” There are a couple of really simple things, and it’s easy to neglect. It’s simple. The obvious seems perhaps less like a secret, because of course it isn’t a secret, but the fundamentals, I should say. Exercise in the morning, getting out in the sun, first five to 20 minutes, putting off caffeine for 60 to 90 minutes so you don’t over caffeinate, and therefore given the half-life and quarter-life of caffeine, interrupt your sleep, using different tools to improve your sleep quality, and track your sleep quality.
You don’t have to necessarily spend money on this, but Eight Sleep, for instance, Oura Ring for tracking. These are things that I use. Exercise, ensuring that you are exercising enough that you are physically tired when you get into bed. There are personally ways in which I microdose. I’m going to put psychedelics aside because I don’t want to give any prescriptive advice related to psychedelics, but you could also microdose, as was recommended to me by a very, very well-respected doctor I know, with the approval of your doctor. I’m not providing medical advice, so please speak to your medical professional about this low-dose lithium orotate, which I purchase on Amazon, and I take five milligrams before bed. If I’m starting to slip or feel like I might be slipping, I take five milligrams in the morning as well.
That is not a monotherapy or high dose. This is not lithium at 1,500 milligrams or something like that. Lithium can produce very significant side effects, especially in high doses. I take it at very low doses to effectively mimic, or I should say, enact the takeaways from an article I read a long time ago in the New York Times, which was sent to me, called something like, you’ll be able to find it, “Maybe We All Just Need a Little Bit of Lithium.” It talked about the inverse correlation of groundwater lithium levels and hospital admissions of psychotic episodes, cause of death attributed to suicide, things like that. But certainly read the article and speak to your medical professional, but don’t forget the basics, exercise, sun, mitigating caffeine, cutting out alcohol, that’s a big one, and also cold exposure.
There are, I think, very legitimate reasons why back in the day, people like Van Gogh would be prescribed two cold baths per day, because it does have, at least in my case, significant antidepressant effects and anxiolytic effects, that’d be anti-anxiety effects. So, those are a few. Okay. Let me take a look here. Ah-ha, for clarity. “Tim, The Incerto,” I’m assuming it’s Incerto, since he likes Italian, “Is the collection of the following books: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile. Some will include Skin in the Game.” Great. Then I’m a fan of the collection. There you have it. All right. Let me take a look here. All right, Lauren O’Brien has a question. “Do you have plans to engage Congress in federal changes related to psychedelics, or is that a longer-term objective once the science is solid?”
I will be enabling other people to do both of these simultaneously. So, the answer is both ends. I think that furthering the science is critically important on many levels, and then there’s policy, legal, and separately, advocacy work that can be done, and education that can be done. Thankfully, there are some figures former political powerhouses and current who are very much paying attention to psychedelic therapies and how they can be applied to certain populations who are politically immune in some respects, like veterans with complex PTSD. I’m absolutely fine, more than fine with starting with that subpopulation, because it’s important to have defensive capabilities, or better yet, sort of political immunity, meaning that neither party, or no member of any political party, can say “Fuck the veterans” and get away with it. It’s just not going to work. So they have, in that sense, an immunity idol or a talisman that enables them to further certain types of investigation in a way that is very difficult otherwise. So I will be pursuing all of that.
Let me take a look here. Two more, two more here, and then I’ll take a look here, because we’re, what is it? An hour and 36 in. All right. Let me take a look. Here’s a question. “What’s your favorite wrestling movie? Did you ever watch Vision Quest?” Oh, yeah, Vision Quest is fantastic. I mean, for people now, I think it’s going to age probably quite poorly. It’s pretty cheeseball, but fantastic movie. I loved it when I saw it. My favorite wrestling movie is a documentary called Dan Gable: Competitor Supreme. If you can find it, that was my press play, watch to the end, and then start over and press play. This is back when it was VHS. Then later I got the DVD, but Dan Gable: Competitor Supreme is about Dan Gable, one of the most dominant athletes of all time, who I’m going to get this wrong, but he had a high school and college record of something like 253 and zero.
Then in his, I want to say his last match, in his last NCAA final, he lost by one point. He was so upset by this that he trained seven hours a day, seven days a week for the Munich Olympics, and then won a gold medal, I want to say, without having a single point scored on him. Now, that’s enough to make you a legend, but then Dan Gable went on to become a coach and to become, I don’t know now, there are John Smith and there are many other coaches who have done amazing, amazing things, so I’m not sure if this still stands, but certainly for a while, he was one of the most dominant coaches, not just in wrestling, but in any sport. He produced just an endless string of championships and champions. So, Dan Gable: Competitor Supreme, I haven’t seen it in many years, but if you have a chance to watch it, check it out and let me know what you think. It’s intense and it’s great. I really, really, really enjoyed it.
Okay. All right. Jonas K. “What gets most people the most bang for the buck in terms of time management when you exceed 200k annual income?” Example given: executive assistants. Whether it’s 200k or less or more, I think it becomes increasingly important to revisit certain concepts. The way I do that is through books. So, The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, read that. Read it at least once a year. Essentialism by Greg McKeown, read that. Highlight it. Highlight it on Kindle so you can export your highlights and then review your highlights. Another would be The 80/20 Principle, and if you’re still inclined, The 4-Hour Workweek, because there’s a certain synthesis of a lot of those in The 4-Hour Workweek. But I don’t read my own book, because that would be fucking bizarre. So I don’t read my own book. It’d be really, really strange to be spotted walking around reading my own book at restaurants and so on.
That’s not the only reason. I mean, I already know that content, so I’m going back to catch things that perhaps I didn’t catch the first time or to review my own highlights in all of those books. Those are a few. All right. Bear with me. Okay. Give me just a moment, guys. All right. Two more questions from the submitted questions. This is from Michael Fridman or Friedman. “Could you please give some examples about how having a sleep tracker helped improve your sleep? I’m on the fence about buying the one that you have had for a while, and a little push would be great. Thanks a lot for all your amazing work. I’ve been a huge fan for over 10 plus years.” Thank you, Michael. For most people who use a sleep tracker, many of the takeaways will be obvious. So, if you use, say, an, which I still use because I do constant experimentation, and I like to see what happens.
For instance, without the Oura Ring, I would not have realized that if I have a sauna right before bed or too late at night, within three hours of going to sleep, it interferes with sleep and also negatively impacts HRV the next day. However, if I have a sauna at, say, 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., a few hours before dinner, it dramatically improves HRV for the next day or two. Also, something that nearly everyone will see is that two or more alcoholic drinks, if you’re drinking stiff drinks like gin and soda, as I often do, might be only one drink, dramatically damages your sleep quality. For me, that’s especially true of deep sleep. I find that to be valuable as a reminder, even though it is obvious. It makes self denial or denial of that very, very hard. I would say that overall, the main benefit of wearing a tracker is it makes you more aware of your sleep, and it facilitates, it encourages paying more attention to your sleep.
So, honestly, even if the only thing I got from wearing an Oura Ring was seeing it on my hand and thinking about my sleep and knowing that I shouldn’t have that second glass of wine or that second gin and soda or whatever the alcoholic beverage might be, it would pay for itself 1,000 times over in my life. There are certainly other devices. But Eight Sleep helps to track, it also helps to modify because of the way that it provides cooling and heating, depending on the zone of the bed. There are other options, of course, and then you have many different tracking devices, my favorite being the Oura Ring. But could you improve your sleep? Could you become aware of these things without those? Yes. Can you modify? Yes. You can still modify your sleep, but there’s certain things, technically, that are a lot easier with something like Eight Sleep or the ChiliPad, things of that type. All right.
Let me take a look here. All right. I’m going to do one more. Hold on. Let me see. Wesley Arai: “You’re highly efficient and seem to be knowledgeable about everything you do. Is there anything that you do that you just say ‘F it’ and do it willy nilly?” That’s a good question. First of all, I’m picking the questions that I answer, so that creates the illusion that I’m knowledgeable about everything that I do. I’m curating these questions. I’m not answering the questions that would leave me stuttering and giving nonsense answers or making things up. So, that’s an illusion. I appreciate the comment nonetheless. Is there anything that I do just to say, “Fuck it,” and do it willy nilly? Yeah, tons of stuff. There’s lots of stuff all over the place.
I went boating recently, tried to learn how to sail, didn’t know what I was doing at all, but I had a great time. I had a few drinks with friends on the water, and it was fantastic. I had a lot of fun. When I am invited to do new things, I’m constantly just saying, “Fuck it.” Playing with new instruments, musical instruments, “Fuck it,” let’s play around. All right. I’m not putting it into some DSSS framework and sitting down and saying, “Hold on, hold on. I’m not going to jam with you guys. Give me two hours to figure this out and watch YouTube videos.” I’m not doing that. It might be the only time that I play around, but I do certainly play around, and it’s important to me for my personal growth that I do more of that. So thank you for the reminder.
The last question. This is going to be the last one because I think it’s a good one to end on; this is from Brandon Beckett. “I practice mindfulness and gratitude, but still can’t find a way to temper my drive, feel satisfied, and enjoy the present moment. How do I slow down and enjoy life again without being so focused on the future?” Okay. If I take a look at this, there are two things that jump out at me. The first is you say, “And enjoy life again.” What that implies to me is that you have enjoyed life before. In other words, what you’re striving to be able to do, you’ve already done at some point. So, I think journaling on that, even if it’s several days in a row in the morning, longhand, stream of consciousness, something along the lines of Morning Pages, and I suggest you just look up my name and Morning Pages, and that’ll give you a lot on how I think about these things and use these things.
That would be step number one, although this can be done simultaneously with step number two, which is really simple. Read an article called “The Tail End” by Tim Urban. Tim Urban has a blog, although calling it a blog seems to not give it sufficient gravitas. His website is called Wait, But Why? You can find it waitbutwhy, spelled out, waitbutwhy.com. There’s an article called “The Tail End,” which everyone should read. That was introduced to me by Matt Mullenweg, and it really changed how I look at the world and how I look at my life, because it shares with you multiple ways of visualizing your remaining time on the planet visually, your remaining time with loved ones visually. It is a gut punch. It is a sober and catalyzing reminder. It is very short as an article.
I have read that probably 20 times. It is incredibly good. It’s so good that I believe that Tim Urban very graciously allowed me to reproduce it in either Tools of Titans or Tribe of Mentors. That is how strongly I felt about it. But you must, if you have not, read “The Tail End” by Tim Urban, and if you’ve read it, print it out, read it again, read it every morning. It is that powerful.
With that, I will wish you all a wonderful week and a wonderful weekend. Thank you for joining, everyone. This has been a lot of fun for me, so hopefully it’s been fun for other people as well. Let’s do this again, Tea Time with Tim is my tea time with all of you, and I enjoy it very, very much.
I will include links to everything discussed in the show notes, which people can find when this is published at tim.blog/podcast. Until next time, thank you for tuning in, be safe, experiment constantly, and I don’t mean necessarily with drugs. I mean with behaviors, with getting sun in the morning, with trying cold exposure, and accepting what you find useful and rejecting what you find useless, and adding what is uniquely your own, Allah, Bruce Lee. Baby steps, baby steps. That is from What About Bob? One of the greatest philosophical movies of all time. With that, I bid you adieu.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 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.