Happiness Through Gratitude with AJ Jacobs
Hey, everybody has to go when I'm chased. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Service Live show here on Creative Life will know this show. This is where I sit down with amazing humans. And I do everything I can unpack their very important brains with the goal of helping you live your dreams and career in hobby and in life. My guest today is a numerous multi New York Times and best selling author. Longtime contributed to Esquire to The New York Times, Washington Post and many of the things. And we're here to talk about his new project called Thanks 1000. My guest is the one and only A J. Jacobs. I love you. Well, I won't say thanks. 1000 cause it's a little too on the nose. Thank you. I'm a big fan of the show and of your work. So I'm honored to be here A J. Thank you. And I a fan of you. Um, the time where I was completely. I was aware of your work for a long time, but the time where I was completely floored by your work was at the World Domination Summit, which is that yeah, It's ...
a great conference Amazing conference thrown by our mutual friend Chris Gill. Abo Chris has also been a guest on the show before Amazing Human. But so of course, you are extremely prolific as a writer. Numerous New York Times best sellers. I was completely blown away by your presence on stage as a speaker. You had the audience, and it was like a 50 minute talkers like that. And you had a little I was like crying lap sitting on the front of my chair just on you got a raving stand up. What's that called standing ovation. I with, like, 5000 I'll tell you, Yeah, I went into writing because I'm not very good at public presentation and then tells you how good of a writer is that. What happened was I have to become good and, um, yeah, I basically forced myself to do speaking at any opportunity, you know, and, uh and I just I don't think I'm I'm smoother or the bashed, but I got a lot better, and part of the big turn was that I started to enjoy it like I faked enjoying it for so long that I actually became I and I know I like it better than writing like I would rather give a speech, then sit alone, sitting alone in a room. It's tough, you know? That's what you know. There's usually looking back at all of these writers in history, and a lot of them are depressed. And I don't think it's a coincidence you're in a room alone, and it's it's not easy. So I've come around and made a 1 80 now I hate writing, and I love speaking, so I'm in the wrong business. I don't know what you're then you're in the right place today, Okay? We're gonna talk here on, um, you're familiar to show so well, I have a little narrative arc that I want to follow, But please, if there's anything you want to share because you're hilarious, brilliant and just grabbed the mic and we can run in any direction that you want to, but we will start out if we can, uh, with, uh, I think it was one of the things that you covered in your talk, which is one of the first writings that I really delved into. I was just a small backstory I'm in New York with you right now, and on Sunday, it's It's Tuesday right now. And on Sunday, um, I was sitting at our family cabin on Commando Island, an hour north of Seattle. I looked over to the books. We share this cabin with my parents. I looked over in the bookshelf, and there's only like over 15 books, a lot of just stuff that my mother and father would just pull off the like. The check out stand just to read, whether at the cabin and a couple of just classics. And I looked right. Dead center in the middle is year of living biblically on honor. To be in one of 12 or 15 that's big and I'm like and my parents were overlapping with them because we were on our way here to New York and my parents were coming out to say it was like, Who we How do you guys have this ball that was There's not know better. And I was like, and my dad just times he's like, Oh my God, Hilarious. And so I'll just that that's my entree into year living biblically. You opened with some really funny lines at the World Domination Summit. But the short version is you tried to live in accordance with Bible. Literally. Literally. It's possible Exact for a year now. You come from more of a secular human. I think you come from a secular family. So this was not a like right? You were getting deep into your faith. This was like, I'm gonna try and do this thing. Well, it was exactly like he said. I grew up with no religion. I was, as I say in the book, I'm Jewish in the same way the olive garden is Italian. No offense, but I want it. I had a kid even and I wanted to know. Is there anything I'm missing? What? Why does half the world believe in religion? You know, So I'm gonna try it. I'm gonna become the ultimate fundamentalist and see what's the good? What? How it affects my life and good, good way and how it affects my life and a not so good way. And so I did. I followed all the rules and you know not just the famous ones. I did. The famous ones like the 10 Commandments love your neighbor, but I also wanted to try the ones that don't get a lot of attention. The Bible says you cannot shave the corners of your beard. I didn't know where the corners were, so I just let the whole thing grow. And I looked like Ted Kaczynski there. The Bible says that you should stone adulterers. So I figured I said, Sure, at least try and I was. I was able to stone one adulterer using very small stones like pebbles hurt him too much. But the idea was yet trusted all out without picking and choosing and see what works and what doesn't take away. Well, there were a lot of takeaways. Uh, I say one take away was, Don't follow the Bible literally, like you had to wear certain clothes to your reds made of, you know, mixed fibers. So, like poly cotton, Flynn's are out. They are an abomination. God hates poly cotton blends so you can wear the shirt that you're wearing today. Of course, true. This is, I think, the ploughing, but it's nice. Eso yeah, I'm not living by so you don't follow the Bible literally. Don't say that homosexuality is a sin just because the Bible has a passage that that might say that, but on the good side, there were a lot of positive takeaways as well. One of them is gratitude, which I won't talk about now. But another was another was what we were just talking about, how the whole fake it till you make it. So I take until you feel it. It was really baked into the Bible because I would, you know, I had toe try to, not to covet or lie or gossip. And I live in New York City and work as a journalist. So that's like like, don't work only do 30% of your job for the next year, but the way I did it was, I pretended to I acted as if I were a better person than I waas. So I would like force myself to visit a friend in the hospital, even though I hated going. But your brain sees you trick your brain. You see your in the hospital visiting a friend. Whoa, I must be kind of compassionate, and you eventually become a little more compassionate. You know, I'm still on incredibly selfish person, like I think most people but I'm better. I'm like 40% better than I waas. And and it's partly because of that of the following these rules, forcing yourself to be a good person even when you don't feel what I mean. Just as a project, you were a successful writer. You had many New York Times best sellers. What compelled you to put yourself on that journey we've had? We have mutual friends, and people have been on the show who are sort of they considered themselves lab rats or experimenters. And they're trying the new diet fad or experimenting with hallucinogenic. Or but you decide to give up a year of your life and walk around in cotton and only work 30% of your job. What, what was like, How did you decide? I do love like our mutual friends. I love the self experimentation. Yeah, I really think it's the best way to improve yourself, and I feel I need a lot of improvement. So I've done that various parts of my life, you know, I tried to be the healthiest personalized. I tried to ingest all the information in the world by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from a dizzy when it still existed. Uh, and and this was sort of an area of my life that I had No, um, I I was I was just completely ignorant. And I you know, there's a lot of people who say Write what you know, which I think is good, in a sense, but I didn't know anything, so I'm like, I'm gonna write what I know. I'm going to have to live it on. I don't I think that's part of it. I did not grow up. Uh, you know, I was either blood. It was a blessing in a curse. I had a pretty uneventful childhood. My parents were not spies or, you know, carnies are, you know, drug addicts. They were just nice middle class people who I love. But if I were gonna write that as a book, that would not now itself, like for coffee. So I try to put myself in extraordinary situations and see what I learned and then write about that. So let's reference those to the two things you just noted. One, uh, life is a nodal. Right? That was a lot of my first book, which is reading the encyclopedia. I read from A to Z from AC, which is the first word a type of ancient Korean music all the way to Xavi Itch, which is ey W e c, which is a not to ruin. Don't wanna spoilers, But it's the town in Poland and I tried to learn everything I could, and it was fascinating. It was hard, especially for my family, because my wife started penalizing me $1 for every irrelevant fact I think. And then you your advance at the end of it all, it was in her pocket. There you go. Exactly. She made a lot of money. I did not. But, um, I mean again, there were aside from the crazy in it, like, you know, the the weird knowledge I learned. Like, you know, the possums have 13 nipples, that kind of thing, which unfortunately is still stuck in my brain. One of the big takeaways was again a sense of gratitude because when you read about all of history, you see that the good old days were not good. So this sense of nostalgia, this make America great again. It, like the past, was not a nice place. And Steven Pinker wrote a wonderful look about it. I don't know if you've seen that. I haven't but enlightenment now, you know, I think pictures work is amazing. I'm a big fan. Uh, but yet the ideas, you know, lives were incredibly short. And, uh, and it was, you know, dangerous. It was smelly, you know? Imagine like manure literally piled up, like to your shoulders on the signs of streets, you know? And it was racist, homophobic, the whole thing. Um I mean, when I get depressed, which what happens a good amount of time. I try to fight it with my mindset. And one of my monstrous is surgery without anesthesia, like until 100 years ago. That's what you would have to dio surgery without anesthesia. And, you know, I've had surgery a couple of times and it's not pleasant, but imagine it without anesthesia, and it's like, Yes, we have a lot of challenges and let's let's attack them And let's try to solve problems. But let's not just say, oh, we should go back the past and life has gone down Hill. Now we should be optimistic. We should realize we have solved some amazing problems, species and just, I think for one layer of context that I'll throw in there, too. I guess chime in is I think it's the safest orders of magnitudes. Safer even, You know, 50 years, orders of magnitude more safe and was even 50 years ago. Um, and there's way less violent crime now, but that's the reporting of violent crime that's up 11,000% hold or something. So and when you go on social media, you to see bad, there's all day long, like you used to be able to live your life and then read about how horrible the world is at the end of the day. Right now, it's like all day long, so I actually do try not to. I try to ingest my news at the end of the day so I can get depressed and fall asleep. But don't let it ruin your day because it's very warped. You know, you could you could do every day. I was just listening to some scientists say, every day. The main headline in The New York Times could have been 30,000 people toe yesterday were lifted out of extreme poverty because the progress we've made in fighting extreme poverty is, does one of the most under reported and amazing things in the world. So, yeah, the media, even though I'm a part of it, I'm very skeptical. I think that's a really interesting dynamic I don't want I got a plan to go a slightly different direction, but I think it's good to put a pin in that. Which is just a reminder that all of the news that you read is, um, there's a machine behind it, not too different from the military industrial complex. It's the ad complex. Ryan Holiday's written a lot about it. Like that. Sensational news is what gets clipped on in viewed. So there's an extreme increase in that just that's not reality. Just to be clear, it's the safest, most joyful and flourishing time in human history. Doesn't feel like it sometimes, but that's I think what is so intriguing about your work is you've got this sort of contrarian viewpoint, Um, and you do it with grace and humor and which is going to Segway me into your current book here, which is Thanks, 1000. Um, I'm gonna get a short, short blur. Be then you can fill in the blanks and tell me where I blew it. But sure, um, I've got a bunch of dog eaters hear things I'd like to talk about, but in short, this is, ah, book about gratitude where a J chases the thread of everyone who has had a hand in producing his morning coffee. And, um, you were challenged, right? One of your Children, I think two to thank all these people. You're saying thanks at the table. I think the books and something The table you like. Thanks for the person who gets my morning coffee. And your kids said something like, Dad, they can't hear you. Yeah, that was it. Well, exactly. Just to elaborate on that. I, you know, I knew that gratitude is incredibly important, especially in these stressful times. And, uh, and you know, it's good for your health. It's good for your sleep is good for your motivation to work and to change the world. But and so I learned partly in the Bible, you know, to say these prayers of Thanksgiving, but I'm an agnostic. So saying prayers to Thanksgiving. The God is a little weird for me. So instead I would say before a meal, I would be, you know, thanks to the guy who grew the tomatoes and the guy who drove the truck or a woman who sold it to me at the store and my son, as he said, He's like, 11 and he's like, You know that they can't hear you. So if you really wanna commit, you should go and thank them in person like that's a good idea. That's my next book. Thank you, you 10%. But so that's what I did. I went, and I tried to thank the hundreds of people that go into making my cup of coffee that I totally take for granted. And so not just the farmer who grew the beans. I did go there and thank them. But you know, the person who designed the coffee cup lid and I couldn't believe that thought and passion that went into that. The people who did logo the, uh, the guy who drove the truck, the guy who painted the lines in the highway so the truck didn't get in an accident, and he realized there are thousands of people there, and there are hundreds of things that go right every day that we totally take for granted and we focus on the three or four that go wrong. And that could be a debilitating way to go through life and really hurt your productivity. And just your boot allowed me to read for just a second. Thank you. Dear Mr Darren Woods, comma CEO of Exxon. Thank you. Prefer providing the gasoline that feels the trucks that gets my coffee to me. I knew I saw it. I know you and your employees work very hard. I love coffee. I hope to drink it for a long time. I hope that climate changed caused by our worlds over reliance on fossil fuels doesn't ravage the planet and make impossible to have coffee farms of the future. I hope we embrace alternative energies more aggressively than we're doing now. Anyways, to reiterate thank you for helping me get my coffee. It is delicious. That was Yeah. As I say, that's the most passive aggressive, thank you know, in history on that came about because I realized, you know, there are all these hardworking people, but you know, not all of the corporations who help you get your food to your table or your T shirt. They're not always, you know, looking out for the good of the world. They're looking out for profits and shareholder. So my idea was, I still want to thank them because they did help make my coughing, but maybe while thanking them do a little dig and say, Can we move in a different direction so that a little more, uh, looking to the future? I read that knowing that there would be a nice explication around it, but I think the point of thanking 1000 people who provide your coffee and you actually cite them I do. I name in the back of people. Yeah, um and so this is the kind of this is the kind of both joy, humor, creativity, art that a. J I think you do better than anyone who's writing today, which is just this beautiful aka me. It feels to me a lot like life. It's confusing and abstract. And any time you look very closely at something, you could need to be wildly excited or deeply, deeply upset. Um, and what you've reminded us here is that that through it all, gratitude is probably you talk about the Ben is the health benefits of writing. Um, but why again? I sort of like there are people at home watching and listening, saying of all of the things for a jato, right about, like, why this was it. Is it a personal journey? Is it a journey to help culture? Be more thankful like what is, you know, what's your end goal? I think that both I think that, you know, I was in an incredibly stressful place, like much of the country, not happy with what's happening and in politics. And and so but But I realized, you know, that's not productive just to stew and too, uh, you know, room in A than, you know, Let me try to flip the script. As you said before the show, flip the script and realize that you can make a difference and you can make you can. You know this is essentially away Teoh. A sort of a guy toe happiness. You know how to live a more grateful life, and I really do believe happiness. I mean, gratitude is one of the secret ingredients, if not easy. There's a Benedictine monk with a phrase that I love. He says Happiness does not lead to gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness. And I love that. So my idea was by actually going out there forcing myself to thank 1000 people. It would change my attitude in life, which it did. Um, and it was, you know, it was a little weird because I would cold call these people, or I would show up. And I would you know, some of them were, like, you know, what are you trying to sell, like, Is this pyramid scheme? Foot it. But some of them I remember calling the woman who provided the pest control for the warehouse where my coffee is stored. And I called her up, and I said, this may sound a little weird, but I want to thank you for keeping the bugs out of my coffee. And she's like, that does sound weird. But she also said no one ever thanks us. And it really, You know, you made my day, and that made my day. And, uh so I think that a large part of it is just realizing, as you said, break before the show. You know, we only go around once lets you know instead of stewing and being negative and not getting anything accomplished except for complaining like this is a way to access that. And also, you know, some people are like are worried that gratitude will lead to complacency if, like, everyone's so grateful than they won't want to change anything. But the study shows just the opposite. The more grateful you are, the more you want to help others. And I saw this on a very little small scale, like, you know, realizing how much goes into my water. Uh, which is 98% of coffee is water. Realizing how much goes in made May. So grateful that I can turn on a tap and get water. So, you know, I got involved, like more than a 1,000,000,000 people on the planet who don't have X exactly like your guest just got here since gone, So yeah, getting into Alden, a charity that helps provide water. Um, and, uh, yeah. I know a lot of your, uh a lot of your listeners are entrepreneurs. So it's like also I'm an entrepreneur is a writer. You know, I'm basically solo business, but eso the idea of being grateful to my customers is incredibly motivating. And I asked part of this. I am actually going to write 1000 thank you notes to my readers by hand. So I made you know there's the the risk of what's it called carpal tunnel syndrome. But by hand, when I feel that, you know, these people have put some time in, and, uh, how will you find it such a one way? So this is like when the book drops, they're gonna buy the book and then you're going to find people if you go to my website 80 Jacob's dot com slash thanks and just fill out a form with your name and your address, physical address and anything you want to say. Like if you want me to comment on, you know that you're graduating Collins or you love the Chicago Bears or whatever. I'm gonna actually write a thank you note to you because it's such a one way. A lot of times is such a one way thing. Being an author, I want to thank people like no such a gift that people have bought their or borrow. I don't need them to buy and read a book that is an incredible approach to their project by hand that I take on, I write not every week, but some weeks I try and write 10 postcards to creativelive customers who I choose them at random, where they were chosen for me, and it's just a great way for me to stay close to the people that we make classes and content. Have you gotten feedback from them? Yeah, a lot of like photographs on Instagram of the on It's nice. It's a nice toe. Establish a dialogue with someone who's, you know, sometimes miles away or whatever. Well, I read. I mean, there there's a book called Appreciation Marketing, which is all about how gratitude you should be grateful to your customers. And they have all these examples of, like Mary Kay from Mary Kay Cosmetics Did what you didn't three, three thank you know today two people. There's another book by the founder of a department store. Think it's cold. It's called Hug Your Customers, which I actually don't recommend on this post. Harvey Weinstein world like hugging metaphorically. But I approve of the general idea like you know, you gotta appreciate your customers, and I think that appreciation when it's expressed just is great for business. There's, uh I also get to every once in a while we'll sit down with our student support team and respond to support tickets. And it's just so insightful that when people are frustrated, they're frustrated. Not because, well, you can always tell while they're frustrated. But that house how the smallest thing saying I'm sorry. Mm, Your experience didn't go well. We should have done a better job. Just the smallest general generous act toward them. Yeah, can sometimes completely flipped the interaction. That's interest. So I mean, just literally saying I'm so sorry, right? And you do that with email? Yeah, there's a you know, a back end to the support tickets if someone has a problem with dr or whatever, So I think it's a good way a to stay home will be to stay close to customers and see to be ableto like actually help people. Because a lot of these a lot of times someone's complains to really a cry for help. I know that's how it is when I'm frustrated or upset or angry and likely deal another driver sitting here in Manhattan. If they're not behaving like I think they should behave, that's really about me. Is that has nothing to do with them? Yeah. Um, that's it. I have a friend who she's a journalist and writer, and and you know, trolls on the Internet are very tricky thing, So I'm not saying this will work every time. But she says when she against people trashing her on Twitter that still often just write them a direct message or even heart. But you know, like the the comment. And she's been able to turn around a lot of trouble if you just directly reach out to women saying, I'm sorry you feel that way like they not everyone I'm sure they're draws Were Stennis thicker than that? I'm sure exactly. So gratitude the practicality, health benefits is anything else you'd like to say about your personal journey on the road to gratitude? Well, I would say one thing that has really helped is this idea of savoring. Um, and I did a which is tied into granted. I want one of the books I did a few years ago was called Drop Dead Healthy. We're trying to be the healthiest person alive. And one of the people I interviewed with this guy who was he believes in calorie restriction. You know that Where you don't like you eat the minimum amount and you'll live a long time. And, you know, I have my issues with that. Yeah, you may live a long time, but it's gonna be like, Why live if you can't have an occasional pancake? So But he had me do this exercise called savoring meditation, where we took a blueberry and put it in our mouth and literally spent 15 minutes like, you know, you know, tasting the texture and the sweetness and the acidity. And it was bananas. It was like a crazy, you know, you don't want to do 15 minutes on a blueberry. I was like, you know, the whole time I was like, Oh, let me get you know, Yodels lying on this is driving me crazy. But that's that. I do love the idea behind it. This that we do just both down our food. And we built down experiences and taking a moment to stretch out. You know, I don't recommend 15 minutes but five seconds letting your coffee. Sit on your tongue letting your food sit on your tongue. Uh, and just thinking about it and savoring it and collecting these moments. And it occurs to me it's actually kind of like photography. Uh, because often I try to see my life as, like, I'm a curator of great moments on by focusing on those because otherwise you just your life with his by and you, you know, you're not focused on anything in this idea of savoring and collecting moments almost like you're a photographer without can. You don't need a camera to be a Styrofoam, but really just focus on a moment, the spirit, that connection with that moment in the people And do you store those appear than I dio? I've actually started a file in just in the last six months, which I love, which I call one thing, and any time I read a book, I have a conversation. I go somewhere, I try to take one thing that I learned or that was wonderful about it and write that down and I occasionally go back and look at my file of one thing, because I if I didn't do it if I don't do that like I don't remember anything. So one thing is much better than zero. You know, I'm never going to remember seven things from a great book I read. But the one thing is, uh is beautiful. This is get a fantastic transition from the sort of ethereal conceptual realm of your work in general. Thanks. 1000 as the book, because I'd like to now get him to a very practical like that is a very practical exercise. When you have a file and you write down one thing, I want to know what are some of your habits around this kind of stuff? Because that's for the folks at home show arching, listening, like way all want actionable stuff that we're not just like, Oh my God. A J. Jacobs is so fun and funny and I can't believe he, you know, submitted entire year of his life to live in a thread that we're only from one fiber and he didn't shave the corners of his beard. That's awesome. Let's go practical. Yeah, First of all, let me just start with a quick, practical gratitude, One which is just making sure when something goes right when you're in a line that moves quickly at the drugstore. Make a mental note of that because we are so apt to remember the times when the line was an hour and 1/2 long because that's what sticks in a negative stick. So really try to fight that bias. And remember, every time you know, every time you go to an airport and the gate is right there, as opposed to having the walk for miles past the yogurt shop, so that I do, for one thing I find very helpful is, uh, as a writer, I'm basically my life. Blood is ideas, and I think entrepreneurs in general. So I will, ah, lot someone use the phrase It's a little cheesy. Make a make a appointment with your creative side. So really just put slotting out 15 minutes a day from 3 to 15 I'm not gonna turn off all electronic and just bringing storm, realizing that 95% of your ideas are gonna suck because that's the way it works. You know, you Picasso had 95% of his ideas, so but that's what I try to do. A brainstorm and maybe I'll have a topic like new book ideas. Maybe it will be like, you know, brainstorm about gratitude. Maybe it'll just be random like, uh, you know, take like a snowman. And what can I do with that? Happen? I could make a snow woman. I could make a snow transgender person I could make. I could replace the pipe with a veep. You know you can do and just that act James altitude toxin. And I talked about this a lot of the act of of play playing and being creative that, you know, the mind brain really is a muscle. I believe that analogy is correct and suggest having that much will be strong. That helps you solve problems in any part of your life. Like you know, you get a flat tire and you'll be better able to solve it. If you have a problem in business, you'll be able to. So that's one thing I love to do. Um, another actionable thing is something that you reminded me up before the show you were telling me about. How is a young athlete? You thought you were talking about visualization and and I was not an athlete, but I once interviewed George Clooney for Esquire magazine. Wow, Who is that? The light end up. But one of his tips to May, which I always remember. He was a college baseball player. And hiss when he got up to the plate, he would say to himself, He wouldn't say, Uh um, I gonna hit a home run. He wouldn't say, Uh, I'm going to hit a home run. He would say, I'm gonna hit a home run over the left field fence like you would be very specific and have this delusional optimism because I do believe delusional optimism is an incredibly powerful tool. And I, you know, I've used it so many times this pretending you have confidence whether or not you dio like When I was writing my book about health, I would wake up in the morning like, filled with despair, because such a big time effectively, when am I ever overwhelmed goes over well, but I would I would force myself to have this delusional optimism, and I would call the publisher and say All right, so when the book comes out and we have the big publishing party, let's serve kale martinis let's have, like, healthy drinks. And by doing that, that action have delusional optimism again, caught my brain up and made me more optimistic and able to actually finish. So so, yeah, I'm with you on this idea visualization, Uh, and just delusional optimism has its has its limits. You gotta be careful because you don't want to be like, you know, delusional optimism. I think if you've never been in politics and know nothing about it but the side, you could be a great president like that has caused some problems. Yes, we can seek. But if you use it for good, if you use it for good and use it for your own business and making yourself a better person such a powerful tool. So you've got 15 minutes of creativity. You've got gratitude, practice of small moments, day to day when you're thinking when the line moves fast, right, give me a couple of habits that you feel like in your wildly creative world. Have helped you be happier, healthier, better when you want to. Uh, well, one, uh, one would be writer's block, which, you know I suffer from, as does everyone. And and it's in the same line. Often I'll just force myself to start typing. And it could be about any. I know that those 1st 20 minutes of writing are gonna be crap on. I could write about any. And I could write about the pigeons on my legend how their heads are dropping. But just the action of moving my fingers gives me mo mentum and and eventually I start writing something that semi coherent. So I would say you just dive in knowing being aware that the first 20 minutes, half an hour, an hour, maybe terrible. Um, what I when my health book one of the things I found incredibly powerful was this idea. Yale professor came up with this idea of economics that we have two Selves. We've got the present self and the future self and the present self, you know, wants to sit on the couch, and he Cheetos the future self wants to be alive. The future self link wants that present self to act in a way that will keep him around. Yeah, make the future help. Yeah. Possible Possible at first. And then maybe great as a secondary character. Exactly. So, uh, this guy's done studies to show that the more you think about your future self, the better decisions you make in the present. So, um so I actually took this as literally as I could, so I and I don't recommend you have to do this, but I took a photo of myself, and they're all these at their couple of AFS online where you can age the photo. So I ate myself toe like a 78 year old, and I put it up on my above my desk. So I've got, like, the 80 year old me looking down on May and saying, You know, when I when I just, you know, want to I read TMZ and not do any instead of going for a walk or on from my treadmill that, uh, that I look up and trying to treat that older version of May like I would treat a family member or a friend. I want to, like, have respect for him. So and that really does motivate me. Teoh act in a better way. Um and I do. One of the things I did for the health book was I wrote it while walking on a treadmill. So I still that is one of the things I've kept from the health book. Still right on a treadmill. How does not know that? Is that a future that you advertised about the book? I have talked about it. And, uh, you know, I also get motivated. This works for some people, but not for others. That the peer pressure on the idea of potential humiliation. So, like if I don't get 10,000 steps a day and I have all this friends who I ability buddies, accountability buddies, I do you think those work for may? Not for everyone. How do you What's the specifics? How do you actually employed that tactic? Uh, well, for one jacket in the walking up, and I actually have moved on to the just the IPhone and which I love. And, uh, but for a while, I was using Fitbit, and they have an online community where you can So I would have writer friends who would mock me if I didn't get to 10,000 and then I would do the same to them. And fear of humiliation can be a very good good motivator. I am a big fan and yeah, it doesn't have to be walking be anything losing weight getting the proposal out. Um, And, uh uh, Well, this one is I actually I have a big project I want to do next. Uh, but it is taking me longer than I want. So I have done the breaking down into very small parts, uh, many goals, you know? Okay, many goals. Because I really believe in many gulf like, is it a project that you can't speak over? Can you just get talent like I just want to do something about truth and fake news and how we can rescue it, But I haven't figured out exactly so my many goals are, You know, every day I'm gonna come up with 10 ideas of how to attack that. You know, by a month from now, I'm gonna have written five pages a day for seven days and have minutes. So even if it's like I sometimes do such many goals that they seem ridiculous, like, I am going to get out of this chair. I don't have to go on my treadmill, but I'm just My goal is to get out of this chair and once you get out of the chair, you're like, Well, I'm out of the chair. I Well, that wasn't such a big block toward the treadmill. I don't have to go on. I can walk toward. I find that many goals are very effective way to tackle, because you just can't. When I think of, like writing a book, I'm just overwhelmed. Still, I think of it. I tried to think of it. I'm not gonna write a book. I'm gonna write, like, chapter 15 essays and then weave them together on that's that's much less intimidating. So shifting years, your cousins with Oprah and and with Bill Clinton. So how is that and with you? Yes. Uh, well, that was my previous book before this. Thanks. 1000 waas. I got a crazy email, like, four years ago from a guy who said, you don't know make. But I'm your 12 cousin, and I thought, as most people would that he was gonna ask me to wire $10,000 from Algeria, but it turned out he was legitimate. And he's part of this fascinating group of scientists and researchers who are trying to build the world family tree like actually connect everyone on Earth, which is amazing tracing mission, and I got swept away with it, and it's like six degrees of Kevin Bacon. But for everyone on Earth, we are all related, and you can find out with D N A testing. You can also find out with the sort of massive online family trees that are like the Wikipedia family trees. So you can like with Obama. Obama is my fifth grade aunt's husband's brother's wife's seventh grade nephew. That is the actual line, and I love that. And, you know, I reached out to him, invited him toe Thanksgiving. Haven't heard back. But the idea of this project was to show in this time of tribalism and every US versus them, that it is kind of ridiculous. We really are so closely related, shared over 99 1/2 percent of our DNA and and we're literally a family. And on the studies have shown that when you really see this concrete Lee, it does effect here. They did a study on Palestinians and Israelis, and when they told them how closely they were related, they treated each other with kindness. Um, and I don't think it's the fantasy. You know. I have sons and I see how they wrestle and it's not pretty. So not family doesn't always get along, But, uh, the studies show that family gets along better than total strangers on, uh, answer your mission. The book was to show that we're all employed kindness because we're all right and the hopeful as we would come just a little bit kinder. But I will say, since I know a lot of your audiences entrepreneurs, it was also incredibly practically useful because it's like lengthen on steroids because I would like, I wanted to get publicity for this book so I would look up a reporter and the New York Times or producer at the Today in the station, and I figure out how we're related and I would email them and say, You know, this may sound a little weird, but I'm your cousin and I have a new book coming out. Here's how we're cousins, you know, you're my 12 cousin three times removed and 20% of the time they were like all right, you know, let's get a restraining order against this guy, but it was surprisingly effective. Uh, because they're like, Oh, this is weird connection. Like any connection, any connections were as humans. We're just such is so wired Teoh a response. We're social animals. So we literally a child left alone without contact will not survive there where we're wired for this. And when you're like the continent concept of being able to be connected in any way, I think that's part of what you know what? We're in people's ears right now because they want to hear stories about other people who our whose lives are enough like there's that they can relate in enough different that they conspire. All right, this is a very simple human thing, and by acknowledging it, it just it's sort of like a catapult. That's why, for me, lifelong learning is such an important part of this, and the one of the ways that I learned is through podcasts or creativelive, or reading or consuming the work that you put out saying or any other guests. Give me some specific examples. I think the promotion of your book is really funny. So were there any that actually, you did you land on the Today show because oh yeah, I was on. I was on. I was on Good Morning America, So not today show. But I also for the book. I wanted to interview some sort of famous families, and so I reached out to George H. W. Bush is the elder Bush because I figured he's a patriarch of, like, this famous American family. I'm a Democrat, but still he's an interesting guy, and, uh, and his chief of staff, he still has chiefs of staff said, You know, the president's not doing any interviews now, and I said, totally understand. But just so he knows we are cousins, we are seventh cousins three times removed through this and this and she's like, huh, Well, let me check and see what she says about that, and she actually, it worked. I couldn't believe it. It was so crazy. And I flew down to Houston and I got to talk to him, and, uh, he had some wonderful wisdom. Asked his late wife about about family and just a and on what the wisdom want. One of the best things that I still think about is, um, that in a relationship that with your spouse or you? Yeah, with friends, but mostly with your spouse or partner. You should try to put in 75% because you always underestimate what you, the other person, is putting in an overestimate what you're putting in. So, uh, you know, account for that error account for that bias and put in 75%. And I don't do that. I try to put in, like, 55% on hope for the best, but I think she's right. You know, we totally don't realize what others do, which is part of the whole point of thanks. 1000. You know, we just take for granted all these hundreds of things that other people do on a daily basis to make our lives possible to make us be able to get from midtown to downtown. For us to be ableto, um, to do anything, there's a whole huge chain of people write more, more, more weird examples from the family. Three eyes, the name of the project again that was called the book is called. It's all relative. And for the project, I actually threw a family re union that called the Global Family reunion, and I got people in New York to come. And we had the craziest collection. We had rabbis and priests and ministers and atheists on stage. Sister Sledge came and saying, We are family, which is crazy. Uh, and I will tell you, uh, you would mention we first met at the World Domination Summit in Portland on, and I spoke about this project there, and the people there were so amazing because they got on board as volunteers is nothing in it for them. They just like the idea in the vision. Um, so I would you know, I guess one of the takeaways of that thinking about it is if you speak with passion and and you're not, you know, I did not make money on that. I lost a little money on throwing the reunion, but I just wanted that the idea happen. So I think they sensed I wasn't in it as a money making thing, and they got behind it and they put so much work into throwing, like, 30 now, 50 local reunions all around the world, like in New Zealand and in Mexico. And I think that is a profound lesson like this. I idea of Wikipedia when I first heard about it. I'm like, Why the hell would anyone do work for free? But if you have a mission that you think that this is going to make the world better, people will work for free. Money is not the only reason that motivates people, you know, especially now. They want this greater purpose. So that was extraordinary. What A You know, I'm very thankful to world down Mason someone for speaking of greater purpose. What's yours? Well, I think I try to think, uh, you know, I think I was incredibly selfish for the first 35 40 years of my life. And now I'm 50 and I'm trying to make up for it. So I am trying, Teoh Everything I dio I try to decide. I think about it. This four quadrants like, how will this, uh, affect my current happiness? How will it affect my future happiness? That's two quadrants. Then how will it affect my, uh, the world's my family and the world's happiness and the family in the world's future happiness. So that's part of the reason why you know, I'm motivated to do something about fake news. And truth is, I'm not sure it's gonna be the book that makes the most money. I think I can find them or, uh, balding commercial thing. But I really that is I'm very involved in something called effective altruism, which is a fascinating movement, which is about how to be the most good. Oh, yeah, I give him a plug. How do the most good with if you have $ Where should you put it? To do the most good? So so that's it. And the paradox is talking about that first. Okay, sure would love to, um, but just parent accidentally. So it doesn't sound like I'm you know, I'm Gandhi. The paradoxes I am I am much happier helping other people when I has focused on my own happiness Exclusively. I was visible, and I think I've been, like, you know, stressed and miserable for most of my life. But when I flipped the script ends like, you know, I'm going to try to help other people. Um, that made me so much happier because it was such a weight off my shoulders. I'm like, You know what? I don't have to focus exclusively on my Afghanistan. If I you know I'm unhappy for a while. That's fine as long as I've got this greater purpose. So So it's weird that being less selfish is actually a good strategy for being happier yourself. And it's a nice coincidence. You know, it didn't have to be that way. That's the way our minds work. You know, they talk about this glow you get from helping other people. But, yeah, you give a plug for effective altruism. I'm a big fan. They are. What is it? First of all, if basically, if spot from Star Trek and Mother Teresa got together, which I know is unlikely for many reasons. But if they had a baby, that would be effective. Altruism. It's sort of How can we be as rationally compassionate as we can? And it's actually quite big in Silicon Valley. Um, it's got a wide range. It does appeal to sort of an Asperger's, uh, uh, personality sometimes because, like these guys who make millions and millions of dollars and they're like, What am I gonna do with it? And they're like, you know, must to good must do good in most efficient, rational fashion. So I kind of feel that way to, uh but yes. Oh, instead of just giving willy nilly to charities, how can you find the ones that on a dollar basis have the highest return and give well is a wonderful organization that finds the best charities that save the most lives like, uh, the Against Malaria Foundation, which revised nets for people in Africa and on a per dollar basis, like the amount of life they, um, and I also like that they're thinking about the far future because it's not just us, Like, you know, we should be thinking about our 14th great grandkids. So they're obsessed with things like global climate, and weirdly, they are. And I still don't know how to process this. But the threat of a I is something that concerns them, and they, these people, are when most of them are a lot smarter than me. So I know that I, uh I should be concerned. I still can't get excited about it, But I just throw it out there that they think we should really be concerned about robots taking over the world. And then you support them in that cause by giving money through giving? Well, yeah, you could give well, but also just going to meet ups and spreading the word. Uh, yeah. Effective altruism dot com. So you've talked about going to meetups? You've talked about writing. Thank you. Letters to people who buy your books. You've talked about putting your family in the world's happiness on the same, um, trying. Yeah, yeah. Trying down. Yeah, I try. But is there is this based in practicality or radical optimism Or like what? What's what powers you talked about Your 1st 35 years were selfish in your trying to get back, but like going a little deeper than that, like this is this starts to feel like a life mission. There's a really clear threat here. What's driving it? Uh, well, I would say I think that's a good question. I would say it's partly just the idea of realizing that focusing on Lee on yourself is not a path to happiness and that being part of a community, you know, we're wired us humans to be part of a community. And, uh, you know, I always saw myself as this solo. You know, I'm just radical individualist. Yeah. Lone wolf, but a lone wolves are not very happy. Uh, so I, uh that's what that's what was motivated it and yeah, you know, not speak cliches. Life kids and I want to be around to see them, you know, do their first. Well, you're anything but cliches. You don't you don't have to say that, but s I have a hypothesis. I talked about it and a fair number of shows, but I think it's important, and it's it's called the other 50%. And don't know if you're familiar with this idea of mine, but I'll give you a little breakdown. So goes like this. Most people in the world think that as creators, entrepreneurs that the work that we dio stands for itself. You put it out there in the world, and if it's good to find success him and it's not good, it doesn't find success. There's a very clear pattern of people in this show in the world, if you know anything about sort of how, by and large, how creating consistent good results. That's not the case, right? You have to let people know you have to write to the morning show and tell them that you're their seventh cousin. And could you help get me on the show kind of thing? You have to promote your work. So then, if you buy into the fact that, OK, it's not just work that succeeds on the merit of the work, it's work plus outreach or creating and I'll say sharing it, making sure that the work it's out there. And then when I realized that looking at my own experiences that even if you shared and you don't have any friends or community, it really falls flat because the concept is still in place where then the virtues work succeeds because total strangers will pick it up and elevate it, which is really not how the world works, Right, because how many times do you go looking for stuff that you I have no connection to that? When you find it, you tell everybody. Yeah, it's not a very popular experience that doesn't match my empirical experience, though my philosophy goes like this, that making great work and work that's fulfilling to you and sharing it is only half of the work that you have to do to make the things that you create and build successful and the other half as in 50%. You think again. So we're like 25% of the work, right? 25% sharing that work, which is a big hurdle for a lot of people. Now, this other entire 50% block is actually building community. I love that. The other 50% and tell me this is this is I'm looking and throw rocks of this because you're good at throwing rocks. You are nice and finding the sort of counterculture angle, counter angle counter example to a lot of things in pop culture. Do you believe this? You've talked a lot about percentages here. Yeah, 40% of this is 25% of that. How am I doing by? I don't know. I can't speak of the percentages. But the general idea? Absolutely. And I think one of the big changes in my career Waas. You know, you talk about creating the work is only 25%. And I hated the marketing part because I'm like, No, I'm a writer. I'm not gonna try to get out there, build a community and like telling people about my work. That's not my job. What I did was I reframed it as a creative act. Seeing the marketing as a creative act is incredibly powerful. So when I wrote the book about the Bible, instead of being annoyed that I had to try to pitch it to all these magazines or radio shows, I'm like, How could I most creatively get the word out? So, uh, you know, the Bible talks about sex. Eso What about a on article about sex advice from the Bible for Glamour magazine? And that's what I did. And there's, you know, music talking about music in the Bible. So I wrote about that for a music website and like splitting it up. And that was so fun, just thinking of ways to do it. And I once interviewed the artist Christo and his wife, Kristin. Do you know I had dinner right next to him? Not too far. There's a little, uh, sushi joint down Lower East Side, sitting right next to him and his wife know? Yeah, this is last time I was here. That's fine for those who don't know is that I would call like installation artist installed, perhaps most famously, the silk. Um What were they? Just a big fabric installation in Central Park. Yeah, he had 10. They called it the Gates. 7000 dates that were sort of like orange poles with flowing orange fabric. And from him, he wrapped Reichstag and Berlin, the building with cloth. So he does all these wacky things that are beautiful and they're so fun to look at. But that one you mentioned, the one in Central Park took him. It took him literally, uh, 24 years from with conception to when it actually came out. And I was like, How did you have the persistence to keep going? And he said, the key waas that he I saw the bureaucracy as part of his creative process. So he like doing the red tape was actually part of his art. And like going to the government and saying, You know, can I get a permit? How will this affect the wildlife doing all that nitty gritty stuff instead of It's like God, this is a pain in the ass. I'm an artist. Revision it as re envision it as this is part of my creative process. And let's let's try and have fun with it and try. So yeah, reframing the dullest stuff that seemingly don't. Because once you dive in, nothing is really that, You know, bureaucracy is actually quite interesting once you get into it. So I love that I love that. And I tried to take that into my own life. So I'm going to attempt to reduce a lot of different concepts that have been talking about 21 thing just for purposes of discussion here, I don't want oversimplify them cause that's dangerous. But ultimately, what you're talking about in a lot of these things, whether it's gratitude or happiness or how you get yourself to get out of the chair and get to work or typing on a blank page blows down two minds. Oh, yeah, so are all of these hacks that you have for getting in the right mindset, and if so, are there others that you haven't talked about? Are there ones with I reframe the sort of the problem as a question of our like. Do you have the right mindset? Does that make you think about something different that you do on a daily basis, like how do you get yourself in the right mind set to do the work that you want to do as a It's a great question. And I think part of the secret for May is what we talked about is acting your way into a new, a new mindset. And there's a great quote. I wish I came up with it. The founder of Habitats for Humanity came up with it, and he's that it's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting. So, you know, if it were for Cristo just forcing yourself to engage with the city government and and say like, you know, this is actually interesting and the longer you do it, the more you can become convinced, Um, so let you know, as an entrepreneur, as I mentioned, you know, I always just focused on the art, but I forced myself to say, All right, I'm gonna try to turn this marketing in the business side into a creative act, and that's when if you do it for a couple of weeks, that's when the mindset will catch up. But I think you're absolutely right. It's all about perspective. You know, you can see you can. It's not just glass half full and half empty, like you can see the glass as half empty and evaporating and filled with bacteria. Or you could see it as half full and like just marvel at the fact that you could turn on a tap and get drinkable water, which did not happen for 99% of human history. And still, it's not available to billions of people. So it goes beyond just half full and half empty. It's like, you know, a radical. It's all about perspective. Radical perspective, right? Radical perspective changes. So what's next for you? You're constantly creating. I love. I mean, I don't know how many books, How many buccaneering? Six. I've had that same sex. It depends. Some of them were like little books, but yeah, six real books. So obviously this I'm talking about this like it's and has even come out yet. It's due out in November. This was just an absolutely delightful read. Thanks. 1000. Um, and if you need more gratitude in your life, I recommend it to anyone. Uh, but what's next? So you gotta promote this book of course. And you? Right? What is your hack for promoting this book? Is it the reading? Writing 1000 notes is, is a big one, and, um, and also who you write them through. Just people who buy the book where you write them to journalists. Anyone who goes on the website 80 Jacob's dot com slash Thanks and gives me their info. I will write it. Um and I am actually a Hammond started marketing it yet, but I'm planning to do a little bit of the hack with marketing it. Like when I approach a reporter or producer. L be like, you know, thank you for writing this for writing articles and for being a journalist. In this time we need we need your look. Thanks to the lumber. Jackson made the paper. You could print it. You know, thanks to your parents for having you and we'll see how that goes that that engages people. I I've had been approached, but turn this into a podcast. So I may do that. Uh, and you know, not coffee to some other item. Maybe it's one item per episode and thank people. As I said, I want to do something about truth because I think it's endangered. But yeah, I am, uh, I as long as people keep reading May I will keep writing because I do. As I say, I don't love the writing, but I love the ideas meeting people, researching and talking about. Well, you also, if you don't love writing your also an incredible speaker. And this is there's a little bit of partnership here with Ted, right? The ted talk that I sum this up in a Ted talk that will come out the same day the book is published. So on November 30 got it? And you have a couple of other Ted talks? I do. I did one about what way? Discussed the year of living biblically. I did another one on the family. We're all one family. Uh, and yeah, I love you know that. As you know, they don't pay anything there. So there, Yeah. And like, so stressful, cause I'm used to like looking at notes and just trying to speak for 18 minutes with no notes. So stressful, but they are incredibly effective, and I I watched him and listen to him all the time myself. Uh if there was some advice that you could give you are there is so much advice embedded in everything that you've just said. But I want to shift gears for a second and see if you can do us a favor of giving concrete advice, which I've heard you dodge this question Eso I'm trying to pin you down like there again. There are people out there who are trying to decide if it's time to shift gears and chase their dreams, or people who are chasing their dreams and are struggling like we all are to make the thing true in the world that we want to see. Um, well, just laid out there. Just someone, Thanks. One phrase that I like that I came up with it sort of resonates with May at least is strategic chutzpah. You know what spot, Like just being bold. And, um And I remember when I read the encyclopedia, there was so many examples of people did not become successful sitting on the count. You have to go out there and face massive rejection. Uh, the poet Langston Hughes. He was a bus boy at a hotel in Washington, D. C. And he saw this famous poet come out breakfast and he took Langston Hughes, took his poems and, like, put him on the plate with the waffle. And if it works, you know it won't. It won't always work. It probably won't work most of the time. But you gotta put yourself out there. I had ah, when? A few years ago. I had a guy who went to my college and he just wrote me out of the blue This very funny, engaging email about how he wanted to be a writer and I was working on the year of living biblically at the time And the Bible, actually in the Old Testament says that slavery is OK, which obviously is problematic. I did not know how to deal with that, but I thought, you know, an intern is like, uh, that's the closest I could come with. So I offered him an internship and he could be my biblical slave, and he was fantastic. He just did research. He baked biblical bread for me, and he went on to write a wonderful Syria. He's written two books, and he's now in New York Times column columnist Kevin Roose. But he had the strategic chutzpah to write me a very engaging letter, not a form letter, a specific letter where he complimented what he liked about my work and of self deprecating and funny. And if he had just gone through the regular channels like the alumni office, I don't think I would have ever it wouldn't have risen to my consciousness. Uh, so he practiced strategic spot and it really worked out for him. So that's what I recommend. I mean, there's a fine line between strategic goods, bun and stalking, so you gotta be careful, but you really do have to just make when it When I spoke to our mutual friend Tim Ferriss, he hey started out by going to conferences and approaching people and saying, I love what you do. Can I just take you to coffee for 10 minutes and I ask you about it? And he was genuinely interested in what they dio and after a while they would say So what do you do? And that's when he was able to pitch himself. So, uh, that kind of thing. Strategic cuts, but strategic husband, Yeah, you don't want to just It's but everywhere everywhere. Just focus in on like who you think is closest to what you want to do. Beautiful. Thank you so much for being guest. I could just I could sit with you for hours. I don't know if you noticed, but a handcuffed to the chair. We're gonna be here for another 90 minutes Now. Just a huge debt of gratitude. Thank you for putting out the art into the world that you put out. I want to acknowledge the impact that you've had millions of people on me personally. And I know that what we just talked about well, stir the hearts and minds of our watchers and listeners. Well, right back at you. You and I love listening to and we're watching your show because it's like inspiration in, uh, you know, in a body, it's lovely. Thanks, but thanks. Appreciate you. All right. Signing off. Super happy heavy Jenna Show again. Thanks. among his other five marvelous books. Check it out on