Dismantling Anxiety & Generational Trauma Through Mindfulness | Dan Harris

Dan Harris

Dan Harris’ story is the stuff of legend. The kind that terrifies most of us. An accomplished news anchor, in the biggest market – New York City – Dan had a panic attack, live, on air. It was devastating. I think so many of us can relate. I remember a time when I was speaking in a theater before thousands of people and went completely blank on stage. 

Thing is, what these experiences do to and for us is, in part, what happens and how we handle the moment. But, I think even more, it’s about how we allow these experiences to inform us, to change us. Enrich us, even when you thought there was nothing good to come from it.

And, that’s exactly the path Dan took. Recovering, he took a journalistic approach to what he’d been through, mounting a now years-long quest to understand how we show up in all parts of life, how we handle uncertainty, high-stakes, expectations (often wildly unrealistic), pressure, perfectionism and anxiety. And, how we can explore tools, both ancient and cutting-edge to effectively rewire our minds and lives to not only be able to meet these moment of unexpected and profound disruption with more ease, but also to move through the entirety of our lives, our relationships, struggles and triumphs with so much more grace and ease.

And, this is exactly where we head in today’s powerful, raw, honest and insightful conversation. 

For Dan, this crisis led to an awakening, that set in motion a quest that eventually led him away from his long career as an ABC News anchor and eventually down the path of becoming a Buddhist, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Founder of a company that focuses on “Self-Help That Actually Works”, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. 

In our conversation, Dan traces his surprising and alarming familial roots in mental health challenges, sharing how he learned his great-grandfather died by suicide after fearing financial ruin in the 1930s. This inherited family trauma gave Dan insight into his own lifelong anxiety around money and work.

Rather than reject these difficult feelings, he shares how embracing the “ghosts” of the past and making friends with our demons allows our innate capacity for love and compassion and equanimity to emerge. Dan reflects on the many conversations and practices that have helped him reshape his mind and life, and shares how a fairly recent tattoo reminds him to be useful to others – the key to what he sees as the essence of living a good life and the ability to transcend generational patterns.

You can find Dan at: Website | Instagram | Ten Percent Happier podcast | Episode Transcript

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photo credit: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

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Episode Transcript:

Dan Harris: [00:00:00] Love is not a factory setting, it’s a skill. Skills you can develop and the benefits to you are immense. And so that is incredibly good and liberating news. If you truly care about being happy, healthy and successful. The data suggests that the one variable to control for is the quality of your relationships, i.e. love. You should be working on the quality of your relationships because literally your life depends on it, the quality of your life, and the length of your life.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:00:27] So Dan Harris’s story is kind of the stuff of legend, the kind that terrifies most of us, and accomplished news anchor in the biggest market in New York City for years. Dan had a panic attack live on air. It was devastating. I think so many of us can relate. I remember a time when I was speaking in a theater before thousands of people and went completely blank on stage and started to drop into that panic state myself. Thing is, what these experiences do to and for us is in part about what happens and how we handle that moment. But I think even more, it’s about how we allow these experiences to inform us, to change us, to enrich us. Even when we thought there was nothing good to come from them. And that’s exactly the path that Dan took recovering over time, he took this journalistic approach to what he’d been through, mounting a now years-long quest to understand how we show up in all parts of life, how we handle uncertainty, high stakes expectations, often wildly unrealistic pressure, perfectionism and anxiety, and how we can explore tools both ancient and cutting edge to effectively rewire our minds and lives. To not only be able to meet these moments of unexpected and profound disruption with more ease, but also to move through the entirety of our lives, our relationships, struggles, and triumphs with so much more grace and ease.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:01:57] And this is exactly where we head in today’s powerful, raw, honest and insightful conversation. For Dan, this crisis led to an awakening that set in motion a quest that eventually led him away from his long career as an ABC news anchor and down the path of becoming a Buddhist. Number one New York Times best-selling author of 10% Happier How I Tamed My Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and also eventually ended up founding a company that focuses on what he describes as self-help that actually works. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary. In our conversation, Dan traces his surprising and alarming familial roots in mental health challenge, sharing how he learned that his great-grandfather actually died by suicide after fearing financial ruin in the 1930s, and this inherited family trauma gave Dan insight into his own lifelong anxiety around money and work. And rather than reject these difficult feelings or stories or histories, he shared how embracing the ghosts of the past and making friends with our demons allows our innate capacity for love and compassion and equanimity to emerge.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:03:08] Reflecting on the many conversations and practices that have helped him reshape his mind and life, not just through his book and his business, but also his podcast, 10% Happier. He shares how a fairly recently tattoo also reminds him to be useful to others with a few simple initials on the inside of one arm, the key to what he sees as the essence of living a good life, and the ability to transcend generational patterns. Take the attention away from you. So excited to share this conversation with you! I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.. It’s interesting. You and I are long-time New Yorkers who are sort of like, I’ve departed thousands of miles. You departed a little bit during the pandemic and sort of readjusting to a different kind of life. I think we’re all readjusting to life post-pandemic and really tapping into what matters to us. We often ask people, before we start recording, to share any current passions or projects or interests. And and you shared movies and novels and indie music, and then you listed your nine-year-old son as your most important passion. I want to know more about that.

 

Dan Harris: [00:04:22] I always wanted to have kids and it was a struggle for us. Um, we had a lengthy. Infertility struggle, and were essentially told at one point that it wasn’t going to happen. And then we did a sort of Hail Mary round of IVF, and now we have this giant Aryan child marching around our house, and I say that I come from a Jewish background. I married a non-Jewish woman. And so I have this blonde child who’s going to be the tallest Harris in the history of Harris. And so I really do not take for granted being a parent. I was 43 when he was born, so I was a bit of an older dad. And in the first couple of years, honestly, I was really busy with work in a not very helpful, not very self-aware way. The pandemic changed a lot of that because I was really grounded and at home, and then I retired from my one of my full-time jobs, which was I was an anchorman at ABC news. And so now I work from home, and so I spend a ton of time with him. And yeah, it’s, um, probably the best part of my life when I, when I travel, I give a lot of speeches. So I travel around and talk to various corporations about meditation and happiness, mental health, etc., etc. and he comes with me and it’s, um, it’s kind of like that movie there Will Be Blood, where Daniel Day-Lewis brings his little son with him everywhere. It’s a little less dark than that. Um, that’s a pretty dark movie, but it’s great, you know? And it’s real bonding time for us. And I’m aware how quickly this is going to go. So I’m trying to squeeze all the juice out of it.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:05:54] Yeah. It really it moves so fast. We have a we have a daughter in her early 20s, and this was the first holiday season that we actually spent without her. And and it goes so quickly. It’s kind of astonishing. I’m curious though, if you you bring your son with you on moments like this, given what you do and given your focus and given how you become sort of an evangelist and also a practitioner of mindfulness and to a certain extent, Buddhism and Buddhist practices, I’m curious whether you have conversations with him and whether, you know, oftentimes, you know, you have a kid who’s parent is a therapist. And like the minute that they start talking about or like bringing any idea or notion of like a therapeutic modality into the relationship between the parent and child, the child taps out, they roll their eyes, they’re like, don’t do that to like, don’t therapize me. Um, I’m curious to sort of like what it’s like between you and your son because this is such a big part of your life. Yeah, but it’s also the type of thing that a lot of kids are kind of like. Hmm. I don’t think so.

 

Dan Harris: [00:06:53] Yeah. Well, just to say one thing is I was the studio where taping this is just a basically a closet off of my bedroom or the bedroom that I share with my wife. And I was looking for a pair of socks, and they happened to be in Alexander’s room, which is right next to ours. And he was on his bed reading, and he said, what are you doing? And I said, well, I’m going to do an interview. And he said, who are you interviewing? I said, actually, no, I’m being interviewed. And I said, can you believe anybody wants to talk to your father? And he said, you’re the hippie God. Uh, so, I mean, uh, just to answer the actual the question you actually asked me, uh, I have been very worried about this, and I have messed up in terms of foisting my interest in meditation on people around me. Primary victim was my wife when I first got interested in meditation 13, 14, 15 years ago, I really evangelized in a pretty obnoxious way to her, and to this day, she doesn’t really meditate that much, and I take a lot of the responsibility for that. So when Alexander arrived on the scene, I really vowed not to push it on him. He does travel with me. He does hear me give my speech, although usually he’s on his iPad while I’m giving my speech. But sometimes I’ll see that he’s listening, but I don’t. I really try to be careful not to talk to him about it.

 

Dan Harris: [00:08:13] And then this really interesting thing happened, which was the school principal told us that Alexander was leading various groups of kids at his school. He’s a third grader in meditation and not just meditation. The cheesiest kind of meditation available, loving-kindness meditation, which is where you kind of envision a series of beings in your mind and then repeat phrases like May you be happy, may you be safe, etc., etc. I sometimes jokingly refer to this as Valentine’s Day with a gun to your head, and so even I have mixed feelings about this form of meditation. And. But Alexander apparently had been leading all of these kids, and, and the high school kids had found out about it and invited Alexander to come. Lead them in an all-school assembly in loving-kindness meditation. And I went because I. He wanted me to go. And I watched this kid grab the microphone and teach 600, you know, grown-ass people how to meditate. It was incredibly. It was one of the proudest moments of my whole life. And. I think it’s an example of the fact that, generally speaking, with your children or with anybody, if you exhort them to their face, if you lecture them, if you plead with them, if you cajole them, they’re unlikely to do something like this. But if you just live your life and model the behavior that you’re hoping for, sometimes people will pick it up through osmosis. And I think that’s what happened with me and Alexander.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:09:46] Yeah, that makes so much sense. Any parent knows, you know, it really doesn’t matter what you say, you know? And in fact, if anything, that can become the thing that pushes them away, especially if you say one thing or preach one thing or evangelize one thing, and then they actually see you living your life differently, you know, there becomes this disconnect. Yes. Which makes me curious also, because, you know, you have 21 years or so in various different roles at ABC news. And, and then certainly the later phase of that, I guess, is when you really started to not just adopt the practices, but say, let me actually share these and then let me actually build a business around this. When you do that, when you move from saying, okay, these are practices that have meant a lot to me, and now I want to not only share them, but that also I’m going to build something significant around them and build your own venture, your own endeavor around them. As much as there was stress in the job that you were doing, and you’ve spoken about that and, you know, in a lot of different ways, the stress that comes from starting your own endeavor is not less than as a general, when you’re working for someone else, even in a high-stress environment. So I’m curious how you’ve done that dance, you know, because it’s one thing to say yes to the practice. This has made a difference in my life. It’s another thing to say I want to share this in a meaningful way. It’s an entirely different proposition to say, I want to build something bigger around this. That is an entity with its own stressors and complexities.

 

Dan Harris: [00:11:14] Yes. Yeah, that it has been really difficult. And there are times when I miss the comforting swaddle of corporate life where, you know, somebody else is taking care of the accounting and the P and L and all that stuff. I just have to do my job. It was nice to be an individual contributor in that way, and that’s not my life at this point. For me, the number one challenge has been managing my own anxiety. I find that when I’m anxious or feel unsafe in any way, mostly having to do with finances. I think for me, one of an Achilles heel for me is worrying about money and worrying about, you know, making these little mental movies of I’m not going to be able to make the mortgage payment and we’re going to lose the house. And they’re very little there’s very little factual basis for this, but it’s just the way my mind works. And it’s quite easy for me to get caught up in that. And if I’m in that mode, I, uh, am not as good a collaborator, and I feel like it warps my priorities. I can overcommit or do things that are, I wouldn’t say unethical in any way, but they’re not speaking to what I care about the most. So that’s what I mean by warping my priorities. I might I might agree to a project that I’m, you know, happy about, I think will help people, but it’s not really the thing I’m most interested in. So for me, the the top priority now that I’m kind of on my own as a, I guess you might say entrepreneur or solo operator in some ways is to deal with my own fears in a way that helps me and my team stay on track. 

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:12:49] Mmm. Yeah, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. And at the same time, sort of circling back to the beginning of a conversation, the more you model that for your son, you know, like the more through osmosis as you described, you know, he starts to see that you can do, you know, hard things. You can do complicated things, you can do things that are uncertain and it’s going to affect you. But that doesn’t mean that you have to step away from them. Like there there are things that you can do about it that can be incredibly helpful. You describe the most important thing for you in the context of what you’re doing right now. What’s the most important thing that you’re trying to do for others at this moment? Well, in.

 

Dan Harris: [00:13:22] Some ways, if I can keep my anxiety in check, I’m not going to get rid of it. I don’t think that unless you believe in full enlightenment, and I’ve not seen any evidence for that in my own mind.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:13:34] By the tone of your Voice, that we know where your beliefs are on that.

 

Dan Harris: [00:13:38] Well, I’m not open to it. I just don’t have any evidence for it directly. Um, but. So I don’t think I’m gonna extinguish my fears, but if I can manage them. Well, then that I think it allows me to bring forward what’s innate in all of us, which is a desire to be useful and helpful. And really, there’s nothing special about that. I mean, I think it is special that we have this capacity, but it’s not unique to me. It is how we were designed as a species. Every TED talk points this out. We’re social animals and we evolved to cooperate and communicate and collaborate. And that is how, for better or worse, we became the apex predator on the planet. And so that capacity for altruism, for generosity, the desire to help and give back is really deep in our wiring. And so if I can turn down some of the self-centered fear, I think that is what emerges. And that’s what I’m hoping to do with my work. You know, on my best days, it may be a little glib, but this little thing I say to myself when I wake up in the morning is, you know, my job is to make awesome shit that helps people do their lives better. That’s my job. I’m like, you know, I’m dipping into the worlds of a lot of Dharma, the Buddhism, and then also modern psychology, and then using my storytelling skills, you know, that I hopefully generated through 30 years of being on television and, you know, being a communicator of these ideas, you have a very similar job. And so what I’m trying to do is help give people tools that I know are vetted, either through science or through millennia of contemplative practice that can help them be less unhappy and better family members, better citizens, better workers. And then hopefully, hopefully, that ladders up to a marginally better world. 

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:15:29] Hmm. ow does that in your mind? How does that aspiration, how is it different than the sentence that you used to wake up with for, you know, two plus decades when you’re on the broadcast side of things, is it substantially different or can you trace that thread back then even?

 

Dan Harris: [00:15:44] Well, one Huge difference is I didn’t have a sentence in my head back then. You know, I didn’t have some clearly stated job on the planet. I had a clear job, but it wasn’t. I didn’t articulate in my head like, why am I doing this? What is the meaning, the purpose here? You know, if you if pressed, I would have said journalism is an important societal function. I continue to believe that it is worth our taking risks. You know, I spent a lot of time in combat zones. It’s worth our taking risks to bear witness to what’s happening at the tip of the spear in our name, with our tax dollars. So I believed in all of that, but there was a lot of other stuff going on, too. Like, I think of motivation as a range so that the high there’s a high-minded end of the range, which consists of the stuff we just talked about, you know, the the societal function of journalism. Then there’s the middle of the range, which might be like curiosity, desire for adventure. And then I think the craven end of the range was, uh, well, there’s a lot of I don’t know if I would have described myself as famous, but certainly there’s a lot of recognition to be had by doing this work. And I’ve sometimes joked that if you’ve ever gone to a sporting event and they pop you up on the big screen and you see what a dopamine rush that is, well, that that’s that’s the entire job of being a news anchor or a or a field correspondent.

 

Dan Harris: [00:17:02] I was both of those things. So I think I was I had a, as we all do, a complex cocktail of motivations. And I wasn’t sufficiently aware of of them. I probably to the extent that I was aware of the craven stuff, I didn’t want to see it. And when I did see it, I told myself a whole story about what a monster I was. So that that disincentivized me from looking at it in a healthy way. I think now the difference is on again. On my best days, I’m aware of the full range of my motivations, and I try to emphasize the healthier ones without demonizing the fact that, yeah, I mean, I’m a human would I think it was William James who said, you know, we’re gregarious animals. We like to be seen by our fellows. And yeah, so I and I suspect you feel the same way. It’s I want my podcast to do. Well, I. Want my books to do well, and I’ve come to see that as part of, like, an exchange of love. You know, like that’s a loaded word. But if I can do good work and then I get in return, uh, the ability to pay my mortgage and people saying nice things to me on social media, I think properly computed, that should just be more fuel to do more good work instead of going off into a unhealthy nether zone of I’m amazing.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:18:15] Mhm. Yeah. We tend to get wrapped up in our egos really, really easily. I think no matter who we are and what our like, status or situation is, it’s, you know, and we’re never going to dissociate ourselves from that. It’s a part of us. And yes, to a certain extent, it drives certain behaviors and certain actions that actually can benefit in a lot of different ways. But, uh, can also take us down. I’m curious when you describe your son leading a loving kindness meditation for all these kids, and then you just use the word love in both contexts, there was an adjective that was cringe-worthy. Um, you seem to have an interesting relationship with the notion of love. Tell me more.

 

Dan Harris: [00:18:56] Well, my Whole next book is on love. I mean, I’m six years into writing my next book. The first book I wrote was a memoir called 10% Happier. And the next book is is about love. I’m kind of toying with this title of me, a love story, which some people don’t get the joke, so I’m trying to. I’m not sure I’ll go with that title, but I like it. And so yeah, I do have a I do have a funny feeling about the word, and I think a lot of us do, whether we’re aware of it or not, it’s culturally freighted. You know, we we use the same word to describe how we feel about our kids, how we feel about our romantic partners, and how we feel about some sweater we just saw on Instagram in the ads. So what does it actually mean? It’s often used in very cheesy ways. It can have a Hallmark or Valentine’s Day connotation. And yet I think of it and this kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier, about evolution. I think about it as our evolutionarily wired capacity to give a shit. You know, sometimes think of it as like anything north of neutral. This is the way evolution, I don’t know, designed is probably not the right word, but this is the way we ended up through natural selection. This is probably the best part of the human animal. And if you want to be happy or healthy, you need to work on this. And you know, I’m sure you interview and you may actually be, I’d be curious to hear if you fit into this category.

 

Dan Harris: [00:20:13] Uh, people who are like optimizers optimizing for sleep, you know, wearing a special ring to track their sleep and they’re counting their calories and they’re trying to achieve ketosis, and they’re trying to do a four-hour workweek and crush it at their job. And they’re just they’ve got this quantified life. And I used to be like this, you know, I used to wear the ring that would track your sleep and nothing. I have nothing against it. But I would get obsessed with the numbers and obsessed with where my book was ranking on Amazon and where the podcast was ranking. And none of that is really what matters. I mean, yes, your health and your sleep and your success. That all matters. But if you’re truly care about being happy, healthy, and successful. The data suggests that the one variable to control for is the quality of your relationships, i.e. love. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to reframe love, knock it off its plinth and define it down usefully, and then also to make it to make it aspirational, to make it the type of thing that people spend their time thinking about, rather than just their Instagram account and just their LinkedIn resume and all of that. It’s you should be working on the quality of your relationships, because literally your life depends on it, the quality of your life and the length of your life.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:21:26] Yeah. And all the data certainly points us to that. You know, like the grant study, the longest-running longitudinal study. It’s the clear answer. And there’s so much other data. But but here’s my curiosity around this. So in no small part, as you’ve sort of emerged in, in the scene, a lot of the role that you’ve played is sort of like the science whisperer for ethereal practices. Like, let’s take a look at this, let’s see what the outcome is. Let’s see what the practice is. And can I talk to people who can in some way explain this to me, like my let me wrap my rational brain around how or why this works. And I think there’s value to that, because for a lot of folks, they will roll their eyes at a lot of things that could potentially be helpful unless they understand mechanistically, like how does this actually work? You know, once I get that, then I can say yes to it. But when you look at something like love and then you sort of apply the impulse to deconstruct it and to bring it down to like its bones. Is that possible in the same way that you’ve looked at some of the other, because, you know, there’s been a ton of research on a lot of different meditative practices over the last two decades? Yeah. So we’ve got that data. And, you know, I’m sure there’s going to be more and there’s been some research in the field of love. I’m sure you’ve been diving into it as you work on the book, but that feels qualitatively different than the types of practices that you’ve been exploring before.

 

Dan Harris: [00:22:45] I mean, I’m still writing the book, so I’ll work this out with you in real-time, and you can tell me if you think I’m full of shit. Uh, you know, I think about love. It has its component parts. So again, if you broadly understand love as the capacity to care, that applies to everything from your daily interactions with people who don’t even know, like the barista, etc., etc. to your friendships. To your work relationships, to your family, and to your intimate relationships. The romantic love that is what most people are pointing to when they talk about love. But I think of all of that as love, and each level of that has been studied extensively from the what’s called micro-interactions. Barbara Fredrickson has done some incredible work around what happens if you pay attention to the quality of your daily, often unnoticed, interactions with people, including strangers to work relationships, to family relationships, to romantic relationships. All of this has been studied both in the labs and through contemplative geniuses over the last three 4000 years, much of the stuff I’ve looked at is in the Buddhist sphere, and. It can be looked at quantitatively and it can be looked at in terms of exercises you can do to get better, whether you believe love can or should be.

 

Dan Harris: [00:24:17] Broken down in the mechanistic way that you seem to have some at least mild interest or curiosity or concern about, you can set that aside. The real important thing is that what the science is showing us, and what contemplative history is showing us, is that love is not a factory setting, it’s a skill. And so you may think you are a certain way I’m shy or, you know, I’m a frosty New Englander. I’ve been described that way. But actually these are skills you can develop and the benefits to you are immense. And so that is incredibly good and liberating news. And so that’s what I’m trying to do to make people think about love in a broader way. And then to realize that all of the aspects of it are skills you can develop. And it’s not that hard. Well, one of the cliches about meditation and related contemplative skills is that they’re simple but not easy. And a lot of these skills are are simple but and life transforming. But life is not supposed to be easy.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:25:16] Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting and I’ve looked a lot of that research and probably we’ve looked at a lot of people over the generations that have spoken to the topic too. And and yet there are still a lot of folks out there who don’t want it to be touched, who basically would basically like, respond to saying, but love just is. And it’s interesting because I think folks who respond that way probably feel that way, and they can’t imagine a world where others don’t. They just kind of feel like we all, if I have access to this feeling, that just seems to flow from me. So naturally, you know, to the you described the barista, to a parent, to a loved one, to an animal, to my three closest friends, that’s just what happens. Everybody has that in them. It’s natural. It’s seated, it’s there. The problem isn’t that we need to figure out how to generate it. The problem is that we need to remove barriers from actually allowing it to be present and to flow from us, and that the practice is less about how do I create this in me, and more about how do I stop it from being so obscured? Well, I.

 

Dan Harris: [00:26:22] Think that’s exactly right. Personally, not that I know, but in my opinion, that’s that’s exactly what is required here. I often talk about the Tibetan word for enlightenment roughly translates into a clearing away and a bringing forth. It speaks to exactly what you’re talking about, which is we have, unless we’re psychopaths in us, this capacity to love, to care, to be generous, to be communicative and cooperative, it’s the way we’re wired. But what’s blocking it often is our fears, our biases and our neuroses, our hang-ups, our cultural conditioning. And a lot of the work is to and this is uncomfortable, is to get more familiar with the stuff that’s blocking you, not to demonize it to to kind of develop like a warm relationship with what you might call your demons. And that is what that is, a radical disarmament that can bring the noise down and, and allow to emerge what is within you.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:27:31] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Was recently reading David Brooks The Second Mountain. He there’s a bit in there where he talks about not demon but Damon, which is he frames it as a positive, you know, and philosophically, I guess, you know, this is sort of like the deeper thing that drives an intrinsic passion to just devote yourself, pour yourself into an activity, a relationship, something around you. And if we harness that in a meaningful way, and I feel like that probably is in us in the context of that capacity to care for others as well. But we’re taught messages oftentimes within the family unit from the youngest age that says it’s not actually appropriate, and also a message that this has to be earned, like somebody’s actually got to earn enough chips for them to get it from you, which I think is an interesting layer that often isn’t really explored.

 

Dan Harris: [00:28:23] Yeah. Well, I mean, this is this is an area where I think things can get confused quickly. Love does not mean. In my experience and my understanding, it doesn’t mean you’re inviting people you don’t like over for dinner, or that you’re approving of political figures who might be pretty objectively objectionable does mean that you unburden yourself from unnecessary and unconstructive levels of rage and hatred. You can. Very forcefully draw boundaries and, um, and resist societal or interpersonal forces that you believe to be wrong, but doesn’t have to come from blind rage or hatred. It can come from love, actually love for the for yourself. Love for the people who you believe are being mistreated. And I think, you know, the Dalai Lama talks about this a lot. So this is not an original idea on my part at all. I mean, none of what I’m talking about is original. Being motivated by altruism or love is a cleaner, burning fuel that will take you much further than the sort of, I don’t want to say self-defeating, but it can be exhausting. Hatred and anger. Anger, you know, it has. There’s healthy anger, and then there’s unhealthy anger. And the healthy anger is useful in that it helps you see clearly what the problem is. It can give you a lot of energy for short bursts. But unhealthy anger is when you lapse into this kind of corrosive hatred that grounds down your resilience and that toxifies your your nervous system. And so I think it’s better over time to tap into like a positive motivation.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:30:03] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And as, as you’ve described in the past, the research supports that in a lot of different ways. Um, sort of like thinking. Also, as we talk about love, this is one aspect of your curiosity, but also their whole series of practices. You know, mindfulness is something that has become a part of your life. Buddhist practice is is something that’s become a part of your life. And there wasn’t this clean break where you were in the news like a day hit and you’re like, okay, so now I’m a mindfulness Buddhist guy and like, I’m leaving the past behind and I’m like, stepping into this new mode and I’m the 10% happier guy. Like, this all happened over a period of years of overlap where, you know, there was this inciting incident that’s been widely reported that you’ve written about and spoken about where you had a panic attack on air, and that leads you on a journey of discovery. This effectively starts your hero’s journey into this bizarre world, you know, that leads you into mindfulness and meditation and Buddhism.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:31:00] But you’re still spending a lot of time in the overlap world where you’re developing, you’re learning, you’re exploring these practices, you’re starting to integrate them into your life, and you’re also existing in the world of mainstream broadcast media. So I’m curious, also, you know, when you’re sort of living this dual existence, whether there were times in that zone where you faced situations, um, where your personal beliefs influenced by mindfulness or Buddhism ended up being at odds with what you may have sensed was your journalistic responsibility and how, like how you navigate moments like this. And I’m asking in the context of you and this moment in your work. But I think a lot of people would have a similar overlay, like they have this job where certain thing is expected of them. Something happens and they discover a gateway to something that allows them to think about themselves in the world differently. But they have to. They have to somehow hold these dual realities simultaneously and figure out how to weave them together in a way that doesn’t create just profound rupture.

 

Dan Harris: [00:32:03] Well, let me start by addressing the, um, if there are people out there who feel like they’re in a job that pushes them to act in ways that do not align with, you know, their values or beliefs. You know, I spent a lot of time after I got interested in meditation, staying in the news world. And so it’s not like I got interested in Buddhism and bailed. Right. Um, it was a slow process. So I think you need to give yourself, if you’ve woken up and found yourself in an untenable situation, I think you do need to give yourself a break and say like, what’s the best, smartest, most responsible way out of this situation? Especially if you have, you know, dependents, minor dependents or children or or a spouse who’s relying on, on you. So I think those moments can be really destabilizing. And I guess I would just advise, based on my experience, to not make it more destabilizing by making rash decisions. Having said that, I think I stayed too long in the news business post getting interested in Buddhism, and that was largely out of the fear and anxiety that we were talking about earlier. I just well, I mean, part of it was because I loved the job.

 

Dan Harris: [00:33:12] And by the way, I actually never found myself feeling conflicted between my Buddhist practice or meditation and the work I was doing. Um, in fact, I felt that they were really nicely complementary, but so part of why I stayed longer than I needed to was that I really loved it and had great relationships there, and it was very sad for me to leave when I did. Um, in 2022, I think I left, uh, no. 21, and I think the other part of it, though, was that it was that kind of economic anxiety. Would I be able to take the leap to dedicate myself full-time to being a podcaster and a book writer and all of that stuff? I’m very glad I did it, but in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have should have done it a few years earlier because I paid a pretty high. Price in terms of running myself ragged and making myself less available to my family and friends, you know? Which takes us back to, you know, my relationship with my son, which I think in the first couple of years was damaged by my clinging to these two jobs at the same time, which I probably didn’t need to do.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:34:14] Yeah. So what was it then? What was it that basically eventually made you say, you know what, it’s time.

 

Dan Harris: [00:34:20] I wish I could say that it was some cinematic moment with the strings swelling underneath. It was more math. It was like it became obvious that I could do this safely. It was probably if I had run the math, if I had run the numbers years earlier, probably would have been obvious then too. But it was just clear that if I left and just did my podcast and wrote books that I we’d be able to we wouldn’t go under. And just coming to that realization belatedly is what gave me the courage to leave. And I think another thing was realizing that how much damage it was doing, you know, in my interpersonal life, to my interpersonal relationships, you know, not wanting to open up my calendar app on my phone and feel deflated because, you know, it was just a ton of stuff on there that I didn’t want to do, and maybe I wanted to do them individually. I just didn’t want to do them all in the same day and not sleep or not see my family. So yeah, that was a massive contributor.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:18] Yeah, I that resonates so powerfully. One of my mantras for years has been fewer things better. Yeah, it is very much an aspirational mantra.

 

Dan Harris: [00:35:27] So you feel you feel sometimes that you two get sucked into more things.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:32] Oh yeah.

 

Dan Harris: [00:35:33] And not better.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:35:33] 100%. And similar to you, it’s not that any one of them. I wake up and say, oh, I wish I wasn’t doing this. Like for the most part, most of them are like, this is actually really interesting. I’m drawn towards it. I’d love to deepen into it, but apparently there’s one, you know, Jonathan Fields and one meatsuit with a certain limited capacity to actually do it. And I think a lot of people feel this way. And, you know, so I’ve got five things that are all speaking to me, and each one of them could require 100% of my energy. And then when you end up saying yes to too many of them, then you have to deal with the whole thing of feeling fragmented and knowing like that voice that says, you know, everything that you’re doing, you’re not doing at a level that makes you feel good about it. And it’s not because you don’t like doing it. It’s because you’ve said yes to all of them at once. And that’s on me.

 

Dan Harris: [00:36:21] Yeah, yeah. And so what do you think is driving it for you?

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:36:25] Um. You know, it’s interesting. I think a lot of that is for me. I just see so many things I’m excited to engage in. I’m just like, I see something and I’m a maker. Like, I love the process of making ideas manifest. And my most urgent call is sort of like the 0 to 1 phase of that process idea to thing. And I look around, I wake up in the morning and I’m like, that could be made, that could be made, that could be made. And I’ve had to learn the hard way, you know, oftentimes by just being kind of brought to my knees that, nah, it actually maybe. Yes. But often it’s a yes, but not yet or not now, like maybe down the road. And that’s been a lesson that has taken a lot, a lot of years that I’m still learning, like I’m not there yet. And I think a lot of folks that probably resonates with. Is it similar for you? Is it a different impulse?

 

Dan Harris: [00:37:13] It’s it is absolutely the the best part of the impulse is exactly what you just said, which is this creativity and this desire to make something in the world that wasn’t there before, and loving that process of coming up with ideas and then seeing them through. I would say the other part of it is back to just a fear-based acquisitiveness this difficult I have like trusting that if I just progress sanely and in a stately fashion. I’ll be fine. Um, I always kind of knew this family story, but I recently learned a little bit more about it. I had a great-grandfather who was who was a Russian immigrant, Russian-Jewish immigrant in the early 1900s, somehow got to this country as a very young man in Russia. The Jews were horribly mistreated. So a lot of them came to this country and it was pretty brutal what was happening to them. There was pogroms and imprisonment and forced conscription, and it was really nasty. So they they’re traumatized. This guy ends up in this country, which is not the most welcoming place, and hustles and hustles becomes a I think he has a grocery store and then becomes a bail bondsman and is essentially a crook he was using, was using his friends and family members homes as collateral for these guys who got arrested and one of them jumped bail. A famous conman jumped bail, and my great-grandfather realized he was going to get arrested and probably lose everything. And he put his head in the oven and the family kitchen and killed himself right there on the floor of the kitchen.

 

Dan Harris: [00:38:49] Uh, my grandmother and her mom, they found him. And this was never really talked about in families. I knew that he had taken his own life, and I thought it had something to do with family finances. But my assistant, who’s an an amateur genealogist, went and found the newspaper articles about this from the 30s. And so I read them and it explained so much for me, you know, like, why do I have this irrational fear of losing everything? And why is this such a as I said before, Achilles heel for me, and I don’t know if I can pin it all on this dude, but that guy’s ghost is operating in this machine for sure. And so I, I have to, you know, make friends with him and be mindful of his shitty advice. And it can intertwine in confusing ways with the creative impulse to, um, oh, this is such a great idea. And you can figure it out. You can figure it out. And wouldn’t it be nice to have that checked too? And so it takes a, you know, like you, I’m not all the way there. It’s just a I think a lot about this brilliant thing that Esther Perel, she has this thing that she says that some things are not problems to be fixed, they’re dynamics to be managed. And I think what you and I are talking about now.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:40:02] Yeah.

 

Dan Harris: [00:40:03] It fits. That fits the bill.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:40:05] Yeah, No, completely. It’s not a broken thing. It’s a it needs to be sort of like rejiggered to a certain extent. You bring up something really interesting also, you know, like what you’re kind of describing with the story that you learned about your grandfather. You said you kind of knew parts of it, but you never really knew the details of it is what a lot of folks these days are calling some version of intergenerational trauma or inherited trauma. And there are we’ve talked to a couple of folks actually, over the last year or two, who are also pointing to not just this sort of the mystical or the behavioral, but trying to track down, like, what’s the science behind this, you know, and have identified epigenetic changes that are then inherited down into generations with your mind, where you sort of look at the notion of something like inherited trauma if you go in. Had somebody actually, um, last year, really interesting conversation. He was from the Ojibwe nation. And part of their philosophy is that they believe that the behaviors, like their existence, is affected by seven prior generations and that what they do and how they are in the world will also affect the next seven generations. But part of their belief also is that what they do now can go back and heal trauma created in the prior seven generations. Um, and as, as this notion of inherited trauma that goes beyond the stories that you clearly know, but you may be carrying the influence of how does your sort of, um, gentle skeptics brain of wanting to understand, is that real? Like, how do you wrap around a concept like that and say like, yeah, like something happened three generations ago and I’m dealing with it now, even though I didn’t know much about it?

 

Dan Harris: [00:41:44] To me it seems kind of just intuitive. Um, well, first of all, there is science as you, as you know, and your listeners do, um, you’ve probably heard about this study, but the cherry blossoms and the mice, you know, the I’ll just say it quickly that, um, because you’ve covered it before, but and please, dear scientists, forgive me if I’m mangling this, but something about how they, um. The scientists took a bunch of mice and then perfumed the the place with cherry blossoms and then gave them electric shocks. And then their kids who weren’t there for that. The baby mice, um, of the second subsequent generation, when cherry blossoms, when the scent was put into the environment without the electric shock, the mice freaked out. And so that just I mean, that’s not intuitive. I mean, that’s that’s an amazing result and gives me more confidence in intergenerational trauma. But what? It is intuitive is that, you know, among humans, ideally, we’re being raised by the previous generation. They were raised by the generation before them. And these ideas, these behaviors, these biases, of course, get imputed verbally and then also through osmosis. So, yeah, my parents, even though they were doctors and we had, you know, we weren’t wealthy, but we had plenty of money. They wouldn’t fucking heat the house in, in, in the winter. We used to have to wear jackets, you know, like it was ridiculous. And do I think that comes from what came before them? Yes. And do I think that’s in my bloodstream as a consequence. Yes. So all of that. Yeah. It’s easy to make it kind of mystical and I’m open to the mystical. But this also just feels pretty grounded and obvious too.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:43:24] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I think you can look at it either way, but and there are so many things like what are the thousand things that get transmitted to us that are on a micro level that we have no conscious awareness of, and yet we’re receiving the message and we’re shaped by it, you know, in so many different ways. Another curiosity of mine is certainly with what you’ve been building. 10% happier the you know, you exist in part in a world of technology. Now also, you know, in no small part, you know, that’s what’s allowing us to have this conversation. It’s distributing, like our ideas, our voices, our conversations, the media that gets created. But more broadly, you know, in a world where so much of our experience is increasingly determined by algorithms that feed us a constant stream of input that’s not designed to broaden our horizons and connect us to each other’s humanity. And let us be more present. But, you know, rather to do almost the exact opposite. How do you look at how we participate in this ecosystem? Because we both do, and pretty much everyone on the other side, like we all participate in this, not be Luddites, but also find a way to extract ourselves and come back into a world of choice and intention and presence where we’re not just kind of whiling away our days rolling with the algorithmic punches.

 

Dan Harris: [00:44:45] So, Just so I’m clear. I mean, this is a great topic. Are you interested in how I participate in it as a consumer or as a as a maker or both?

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:44:54] Both actually. Yeah.

 

Dan Harris: [00:44:56] Yeah. It kind of gets to the question of, I’ll say this out loud and we’ll table it till later, but but it’s the first thing that came up in my head, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, and I’d be interested to hear your opinion on, which is to what extent do we as people in the you might call it self-help, but hopefully let’s we’re on the more benign end of that spectrum. How much do we put the responsibility for improving and enhancing one’s life on the individual versus the structures of our society? So that’s just a thing that came up that I think we can get to in the course of this conversation. But let me answer the question you asked in terms of how I participate as a maker of stuff in what can be a pretty toxic information space. I try to be a node of sanity in a dysfunctional ecosystem. I don’t know how much I, as an individual, can do to change the algorithms. I think they’re deeply flawed. I think they’re amplifying our worst instincts. I think they’re driving us apart. And so I think it’s a principled stand to say, I’m not going to make anything in this ecosystem because it’s just totally fucked. And I wouldn’t criticize anybody for making that decision. That’s not the decision I’m making. I am, you know, making, as are you. Podcast. About six months ago, I got a little bit interested in doing short snippets of wisdom, you know, useful advice for social media, which I had never really participated in in any real way. And I was I had a lot of misgivings about that.

 

Dan Harris: [00:46:30] But just watching the comments and seeing that it is useful for people has been really reaffirming. And and while I have a lot of problems with social media, um, it feels like I’m adding some light to the best of my ability, and I’m certainly not alone. Lots of people are doing this. Um, that’s my take on the making and on the consuming. Uh, I do my best not to get addicted, but. I can, you know, if I haven’t slept enough or if I’m anxious or hungry or bored or whatever, I can definitely get sucked into the algorithm. And, you know, I try not to feel too badly about that when. And I don’t think others should. I think we need some vigilance, but we also need to give ourselves a break. When you open up your phone, it is you against supercomputers designed by some of the smartest human beings who have ever walked on this planet, and it’s hard to expect that their techniques are not going to work on you and you alone. So absolutely, I can get sucked into the algorithms. But, you know, one of the things that happens, at least for me through years of doing some meditation, is that I have a little bit more kind of self-awareness, and I can kind of see when I’m, you know, I haven’t eaten for a while or I’m, you know, feeling dysregulated or just swamped by FOMO or whatever and reasonably good at shutting the thing down and locking in another room and playing catch with my son.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:47:50] Yeah. And I would agree. I think, you know, having a practice that builds over time just gives you that meta-awareness of just being a little bit more aware of where your attention actually is going at any given moment in time, and then inquiring into it, why is it actually going there? Like, what do I actually need now? And is this a constructive option? Um, yes. But you know, that’s uh, it’s a slow build. And I wonder sometimes when people start to think about meditation and mindfulness and these practices, you know, there’s such an impulse, I think, especially in Western culture, for the instant solution. And this is none of these things are instant solutions like these build over years that, you know, if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, if I’m not meditating for like 21 days to build a quote habit, and then like on day 22, I have complete control over my attention and my ability to not do the things I want to do and do the things I want to do that, oh, it’s not working for me. And like you said, you put that up against algorithms that are have been honed and technology and stunning resources.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:48:52] And it’s not a fair fight. No. You know, and at the same time, I do agree, I feel like over time it does give you just a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. You can pull out a little bit quicker and you can choose something that feels more constructive rather than destructive. And, but, but sometimes I think structurally and I’m curious whether you ever do this, you kind of need to do a bit of a purge and just say, I’m going to like, you know, it’s like an elimination diet, you know, let me pull all of these inputs out of the system for 30 days to see what it feels like without them. And then if it feels substantially better, like maybe start slowly titrating one back in in a limited way and run the experiments to see, like, where do I feel best? But it’s so hard to even like to do that 30-day thing. Our brains are so tuned to be a part of that ecosystem. Now that it’s brutally hard to even run that initial experiment, it is.

 

Dan Harris: [00:49:46] I think it’s a good idea, and I did do some of it. I have a friend, Catherine Price. I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed her. She’s she wrote a book called How to Break Up With Your Phone. And she’s pretty deeply influenced by. Meditation and Buddhism. And, um, we did a – back when I was working at Good Morning America. She came and did a digital detox for me, uh, and, like, erased a bunch of stuff from my phone and had me charge the phone in a different room. And that was very helpful. I’ve done a lot of backsliding and in the intervening time, but there are many, many of her tips that are that are still in my head. One of them is like, if you can train yourself to ask yourself the question, why am I reaching for my phone right now? Like, what am I looking for? And am I going to get it here? Yeah, that’s a very helpful question.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:50:33] Yeah, indeed. I want to circle back to the question that you posed before. We sort of like dived into your thoughts on my question, which is this notion of, you know, where does the responsibility lie for somebody who seeks to effect change or change experience in their lives? Does it lie mostly with the individual? Does it lie with people who might be offering ideas and inquiries and tools and processes out there? That’s a question that I think I’ve been grappling with for years, and it sounds like you’re there also.

 

Dan Harris: [00:51:03] Yeah. I mean, I’ll tell you where I’m at and I’ll be interested to hear where you’re at. And I’m not I’m not claiming to have figured this out fully, but this is where I’m at right now. I can be disabused of these notions. If you make Forceful arguments to the contrary. I think it’s. Yes. And, you know, like, I don’t know how much power we as individuals have to change some of these structures. I think we can band together and do it, and that’s great. And we should do that work. And where do you want to do that work from a place of dysregulation, confusion, hatred, anger. You want to do it from a place where you’ve done some of the inner work to make you. Calmer, a better communicator. Happier. Less emotionally. Emotionally reactive. So I think I think it’s about doing both at the same time. And you should pick what, um, what you want to do in each category, the micro and the macro. You know, what’s going to work for you to, for your own personal self-regulation. Is it exercise, therapy, meditation, and in terms of being a good citizen? Is it just voting? Is it volunteering locally? Is it getting politically active? Is it running for office? It’s you know, it’s this is up to you. There’s no I don’t I’m not handing out report cards. It’s like, what do you want to do. What’s going to work for you anyway. Does that how does that all go down with you.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:52:28] Yeah. I mean, I’m sort of on the same page there, you know, and and like you, I feel like part of the work that that you do, part of the work that I do, part of the work that so many people that that we know that run in sort of similar circles do is designed to say, here’s some things that I’m thinking about here. Let me introduce you to some people who are like, at least in my case, a bazillion times smarter than me and have studied much more deeply. And let’s let’s inquire into what they might have to offer us collectively and to a certain extent, if we can share specifics or ideas. Great. You know, and then at the end of the day, what folks do with that is so context-specific, you know, to tell somebody who has stunning resources and privilege and access, you know, that that, you know, like the next five steps are the exact same five steps as somebody who’s working three jobs and is barely getting by and has just, you know, stunning opposite burdens in their life, I think is sort of like the height of arrogance. I think, you know, like the to a certain extent, the work is to try and do like you said, do the internal self-regulation be as present and be as kind, be as generous as you can, share wisdom if it’s yours or wisdom of others, create a conduit or a pathway, a channel, and then acknowledge the fact that, you know, people have very differing abilities to actually take action on anything they might hear, even if it really deeply resonates at any given season or moment in time. And that that’s okay. And that, like, there shouldn’t be a sense of expectation or shame or blame that gets laden on top of that, because then you’re doing the exact opposite. And yet at the same time, you kind of broadly hold this aspiration that I hope it’s making a difference in some way. And so it can sometimes be a weird place to be.

 

Dan Harris: [00:54:12] Yeah, I agree with everything you just said. I would add one other thing, which is to just and this is just a build on what you were saying, and you were kind of pointing at it too. Just bear in mind that some people are impacted more severely by the structural, by the structures of our society than than I am. I mean, you and I are. You know, a little bit older. White guys were walking clichés. White men with podcasts. Um, uh, and I don’t know your entire economic history, but I suspect that, like me, you’ve had many, if not all, of the available privileges and advantages in life. And I could be wrong about that in your case. But I’m right about it in my own. And so the. Some of the inequities and inequities in our society. I am less impacted by them than others. And so, you know, like Spider-Man’s uncle said something to the effect of to whom much is given, much is expected. And, you know, I don’t lecture my son about a lot of things because it’s not going to work. But I have two things I lecture him about, and one of them is that that he is an extremely lucky kid and he should enjoy all the shit we give him. And he should recognize that it comes with one string, which is that he has to find his way to give back eventually. When, when, when the time is right and in whatever way is right for him. Mm.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:55:35] Yeah. I mean, and that, um, interestingly that, uh, the kind of really brings us to the tattoo on the inside of your left wrist.

 

Dan Harris: [00:55:43] Yeah.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:55:44] I know, last summer, like, you got your first ink FTBOAB which is shorthand for – spell out what actually is about.

 

Dan Harris: [00:55:52] Uh, I can’t believe I’m a guy who has this tattoo now. Um. For the benefit of all beings, which is quite earnest for somebody who swears a lot and, um, you know, likes, you know, nihilistically sarcastic humor. But it is a way, I think one of the hardest things about spiritual development or personal growth, whatever you want to call it, and I don’t I don’t know if this will land for you, Jonathan, but I think one of the hardest things is the power of forgetting. We are we are wired for denial and forgetting and habit patterns. And the the culture is kind of constantly militating against, you know, some of the more, uh, some of the deeper spiritual, um, uh, lessons that we might get on a podcast like this or in a great book, or because, you know, the I’m a capitalist, but capitalism is, you know, has its more noxious sides, and it’s driving us toward, you know, comparison and insufficiency and this mirage of satisfaction through the next purchase, etc., etc. And so it’s easy to forget. The things that you know in a quiet moment you actually care about. And so for me, and this goes right back to the thing we’ve been talking about since the, you know, earliest questions and answers in this conversation. You know, I need to go as far as I possibly can to have reminders in my life so that I’m not pulled along by the tide of habit or fear or anxiety toward selfishness, which, you know, I think we all have it. I might have it more than others. So having this tattoo on my right near my watch, it’s an acronym for the Benefit of All beings, is to remind me of what it is that my job is to to be useful.

 

Dan Harris: [00:57:33] And this is not about. You know, relentless, self-sacrificing. You know, the A in this is all beings and I’m part of that. So it doesn’t mean that self-interest is off the table. It’s kind of about, I think, at its best, this kind of elevated, enlightened self-interest or the Dalai Lama calls it wise selfishness. They recognize that the happiest I am likely to be, and I think this is true for most people, is when I’m being useful or helpful or kind or decent or whatever you want to call it, when I’m showing love back to that word. And so, yeah, I find it really helpful to gaze down at this throughout the day, especially like, oddly, I don’t know if I want to say especially, but even when I’m working out, for example, you know, why am I doing this? Because I want to be strong and healthy so I can make other people strong and healthy. I mean, I literally say that in my head. And again, if you had told me five, six, ten, 15 years ago, I was going to be a guy who does this, I would have coughed my beer up through my nose. That was not like how I’m wired. But I find it really helpful as a reminder and and as a way to counter-program against my worst instincts, which I don’t think any of us should pretend are no longer with us.

 

Jonathan Fields: [00:58:43] Yeah, no. So agree. And and I love that reminder. It feels like a good place for us to come full circle to. So in this container of Good Life Project., if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?

 

Dan Harris: [00:58:55] I think we just talked about it. I think a good life is designed around the idea of benefiting all beings, including yourself. So it’s not like you should never sip another latte or take another vacation. But I think if you can frame all of you know, the goodies in your life as replenishing so that you can be useful to other people, that is the highest form of selfishness because this is how we’re designed. We? If I’m not a utopian. I was a news reporter for too long. I know what human beings are capable of. I have seen unbelievable amounts of cruelty from, you know, domestic violence to murder in the streets to combat. Um. But I’m like 51% optimistic. And if what gets me over the hump is and we keep coming back to evolution. This. You know, there are many bugs in the human design, but there’s one unbelievable feature which is that for most of us. When we do good for other people, it feels good. And we can ride that a pretty long way, I think. And so I think that’s good for us. That is what will allow us to lead good lives. And I think it’s what’s going to be the salvation for the species, if that’s possible.

 

Jonathan Fields: [01:00:16] Mm. Thank you.

 

Dan Harris: [01:00:18] thank you.

 

Jonathan Fields: [01:00:19] Hey, before you leave, if you love this episode, Safe bet, you’ll also love the conversation we had with Susan Piver about mindfulness and life. You’ll find a link to Susan’s episode in the show. Notes for this episode of Good Life Project. was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and me, Jonathan Fields. Editing help By Alejandro Ramirez. Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and special thanks to Shelley Adelle for her research on this episode. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor? A seven second favor and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields signing off for Good Life project.

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