What an incredible honor and memorable experience to connect with the worldwide #1 bestselling author Mark Manson, author of the runaway sensation The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*&k, which has now sold over 12 million copies worldwide and been translated into dozens of languages. Mark also wrote a brilliant follow up book called Everything is Fucked: A Book About Hope and produced a creative audio project for Audible.com called Love Is Not Enough, where he coaches a handful of people immersed in relationship struggles.
In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss Mark’s observation at the end of Love Is Not Enough that relationships success is super simple, we just make it complex and full of pain and suffering ― likely relating to replaying flawed childhood programming or lacking self-awareness. Mark discusses the important first step of acknowledging your weaknesses or blind spots, perhaps with the help of friends, family or experts. We discuss the profound assertion framing the message of Subtle Art that we should, “maintain an identity that is defined by as little as possible, instead seeing your life as a series of decisions and actions.”
Mark describes how emotion, even negative emotions like fear, can be powerful catalysts to take action and repeat the action until it becomes habit. He describes his present difficulty with keeping to his workout schedule during quarantine. Mark details the insight in Everything Is F*ucked that the emotional brain actually rules over the logical brain, and how the logical brain convinces us to think otherwise. To avoid “persistent low-level narcissism” that seems to be our collective ― default state these days, we must develop healthy communication and interaction between our emotions and logic. Mark also reveals how the unexpected runaway success of his first book caused him to lose his way for a while to the point of feeling depressed and unmotivated for around a year, and how his recalibration helped him develop the theme of the second book to make life all about “creating a string of hope narratives.” Enjoy this valuable and deeply reflective show from one of the leading modern philosophers and top authors. Order both of Mark’s bestselling books here so you can get up to speed!
Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful. But love is not enough. [12:06]
It is simple to break up with someone, but we make it difficult. [13:10]
When an athlete retires, it is like an identity crisis. [14:45]
To function well in a relationship, get your emotional health in order. [18:37]
Recognize your own pattern and what gets triggered. [22:29]
Therapists are taught to be very careful about inserting their own ideas in a session. They want you to find your way yourself. [26:37]
Being very analytical can be a problem. [31:35]
There are two brains…the thinking brain and the feeling brain and they are not good at talking to each other. [34:51]
What are some parameters to keep us away from the narcissism that comes as a result? [37:33]
Stress is our body’s call to action. [41:18]
Some people respond better to positive reinforcement and some people respond better to the negative. [44:35]
When Mark’s book took off in popularity, he had a difficult time adjusting. [50:53]
- Brad’s Shopping
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
- Everything is Fucked.
- Mark Manson
- Who is Mark Manson?
- Get Over Yourself podcasts
- Love Is Not Enough
- “Maintain an identity that is defined by as little as possible, instead seeing your life as a series of decisions and actions.”
- “It’s important to recognize patterns within yourself.”
- “When you get your emotional health in order, the outward stuff starts to take care of itself.”
- “You can’t control the outcome, but you can control how you handle it.”
- “There are two brains…the thinking brain and the feeling brain and they are not good at talking to each other.”
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Hey listeners, what a tremendous honor to introduce on the, Get Over Yourself Podcast. The number one bestselling author of the world, Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck ,the runaway sensation that put him on the map as one of the great modern philosophers, no joke. This book was the number one bestselling book overall in the world in, I believe it was 2017 released in 2016, absolutely brilliant breakthrough work. And I’m going to call it probably the transformative book of the, the century, the 21st century. And, um, I don’t say that lightly. I think the best book of the previous generation was Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior …going to get him on the podcast someday too. And you’ll listen to Mark. Talk about the surprising runaway success of the book, which has now sold 12 million copies worldwide translated into many languages and just thrust him from obscurity or from a decent blog where he gave relationship advice to the top of the heap. And in the show, he talks about the difficulty of adjusting to his new life. When this book went crazy, not something that many people can relate to, but I definitely think you’re going to relate to his honesty.
His vulnerability has struggled and I pitched him cold cold called him and gave him a clever enough email that he said, sure, what a great surprise to connect with someone this busy and big time. Uh, but I was really taken by his project that he did on audible.com called Love is Not Enough. So it was an audio recording project, uh, consisting of, uh, an assortment of interviews, repeat interviews with people, immersed in relationship struggle. And he had four or five different, uh, subjects that he was coaching through these journeys. And he just came off really as a nice guy who had so much kindness and consideration for these people and really wanting to help them navigate these things and become better people. So I really encourage you to go over to audible and listen to Love is Not Enough. And when you go on Amazon, now you can buy this pair of books, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
And the sequel called Everything is Fucked. A book about hope and what an honor it is to be parodied with all these other books that have fucking the title now. Uh, but this is the original guy that doesn’t give a fuck or teaches you more accurately to choose what things you give a fuck about and the things that you don’t. So we’re going to get into some deep topics. I think this is the show that you’re gonna have to listen to at 1.0 speed instead of 1.7, five or 2.0, like I usually do, because you have to really reflect on what he has to say. And we’re going to get into all kinds of interesting topics like why relationships, relationships’,success is really super simple, but we make it so hard and so complex. And a lot of that has to do with replaying flawed childhood programming.
Uh, we’re going to talk about how the emotional brain actually rules over the rational thinking brain, even though our rational thinking brain convinces us, that this is not so, and that is kind of the centerpiece of the, Everything is Fucked book. And then we get into, uh, some of the content of the Subtle Art of not giving a fuck that resonated so well across the world with people, uh, the idea of maintaining an identity that is defined by as little as possible and seeing your life as a series of decisions and actions. So this is pretty heavy stuff. I think it’s going to have great value to you, and you’re going to love this good natured guy, Mark Manson, coming to you from New York city, where he is under quarantine and struggling to complete his workouts. Just like all of us, a real person fighting the battle, doing his best and putting out wonderful content at his blog. So go look at that. Mark manson.net, get the books, get up to speed. Here. He is on the podcast.
Mark, how are you? Hey man. How’s it going?
Pretty good. Pretty good. Hey, sorry. I missed out yesterday. Uh, you know, quarantine life. It’s just, shit’s weird.
It’s getting crazy. How is it in New York city? That’s gotta be the most, the ultimate, uh, quarantine experience.
Um, it is, it is the ultimate quarantine experience. I actually, I’ve only been outside three times in the last six weeks serious. Yeah. Um, it’s just, there’s not really anywhere to go. I mean, there’s not much space here. Um, and yeah, the city is basically told everybody that like, unless you’re getting food or medicine or exercising, like please stay home. And um, so yeah, I mean, we’re pretty like comfortable and situated here. Okay. So why, why mess with it? But, but yeah, it’s been, um, it’s been a wild ride, so.
Wow. Yeah. I feel like the getting outside and using your lungs and fresh air would be important as long as you have six feet, which is pretty easy in central park, but you know, the LA mayor’s closed down the beaches and the hiking trails. It doesn’t, it doesn’t seem like that’s a big risk compared to you know Costco.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s um, the parks were open here and then I think they got so crowded that, um, they’ve kind of like told people to stay away.
Yeah. Unique problems in New York. Yeah. It’s like a, it’s like the health club business. If, if every member came every day, the health club industry would go bankrupt because they can’t fit 10,000 members. The only way they make money is people signing up paying their monthly dues and hardly ever coming.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Anyway, man, I appreciate you, uh, doing this and um, I’m, I’m so excited to talk to you. Your insights have been life changing for me. And, um, I got all kinds of all kinds of stuff to, uh, to, to straighten out. Uh, my, my first insight was listening to that Love is Not Enough. And you come off as a pretty nice guy for a big shot author doing this thing. And you care about these people and the way you dispense advice too. I mean, you’re hitting them with some pretty hard stuff, but they don’t even realize it because you say it with loving kindness and you’re very sensitive to their responses. And then you get them into a completely different mode. It was, it was beautiful.
Thanks. I appreciate that. Yeah. It was a fun project and it was a, it was a cool, it was a cool experience to watch people develop and change over the course of, of months.
And then, then we get to the end and you’re saying, look, it’s, it’s that simple, everybody. It’s so simple to make it work, but then we make it so hard. So I wanted to start there and like, you know, see, see if we can get some tips and tricks to, you know, unwind these, the complexity and the, and the, the pain and suffering that we see. So commonly in relationships when it really is. It really, it really is so simple.
Yeah. The concept of, of simple but difficult. Um, it’s funny, like our minds have a tendency, if something is emotionally painful, we often convince ourselves that it must be complicated. So like for instance, one of most common emails I get is it’s basically somebody wants to break up with. Somebody wants to end their relationship.
They talk to Mark Manson about this?
All the time, apparently. Uh, and they’ll give me this long backstory and it’s like, ah, she’s from Omaha. And my grandmother is 92 and blah, blah, blah. And then you get like through two pages and it’s basically, I want to break up with them, but how do I do it? And to me, this is always a funny question because it’s, it’s actually very easy to break up with somebody or it’s not easy, but it’s very simple to break up with somebody, you sit down with them and you say, this isn’t working for me. I would like to end it, that’s it, you know, it’s like breakup done. But, um, because saying those words is so excrutiatingly painful for us. We start convincing ourselves that it’s this very complicated process and that we need an expert to give us steps one through 12, and that we need to understand different mental models and all that. And it’s like, no, you just need to sit down with somebody and simply say the words. And so this plays out in all sorts of dimensions with life. You know, people who are very anxious tend to make something much more complicated than it actually is. Um, you know, people who are, who are sad will come up with explanations for their sadness that are very intricate and complex. And it’s like, no, man, you just, you just had a shitty week. Like it’s, it’s sometimes things are actually, usually things are extremely simple. Um, and we just, we tend to complicate them in our heads.
Hmm. Maybe because our identity is attached to all these different things. And we read in The Subtle Art that we want our identity to be defined by as little as possible. And I think about that one all the time. I’m trying to unwind that because here I am, Mark,. My identity has been an athlete for my whole life. And I’m so proud to be an athlete and put my postings on Instagram and get more likes and then, uh, build my self esteem. And, uh, you’re kind of shattering these illusions, um, to your credit, right. If we can figure this out and we can get a, you know, get a complete grasp of it, I think we open ourselves up to greater possibilities, but for the most part, we’re stuck attached to all these, all these things that we, uh, that we think we are.
Yeah. Well, the athlete thing is interesting and I think you you’ve definitely. Mmm. You’ve kind of bucked the trend a little bit by remaining so athletic, uh, into your older years, but like I, one thing that’s always fascinated me is, is seeing athletes, you know, say career ending injuries in their twenties or thirties or whatever, you know, and, or watching kind of hall of fame athletes, level, caliber athletes, um, retiring and, and kind of the, the lack of grace, which they retire with. Um, it it’s, it’s, uh, it’s fascinating to me and it’s completely understandable because it’s like, if you like these people, if you take somebody, I don’t know, like, like Brett Farve or Peyton Manning or somebody like Michael Jordan, like they have been doing this thing. They’ve been the best person at this thing since they were like four years old.
And it has been what they’ve done with all of their free time. It’s what they’ve gotten paid money for. It’s what they’ve been loved for. It’s what they’ve gotten attention for. Uh, it’s what they’re known for. And then suddenly it’s, it’s over. And you know, that, that is, that is like an identity crisis. And, um, and so I think one of the one, I have a friend here in New York who actually, he he’s a sports psychologist and he, and he works with a lot of professional athletes here on, on a lot of the New York sports teams. And he told me once he said, yeah, whenever I get a young guy who comes in and he said, one of the first things, I sit them down and talk to them about is you need to, what are you going to do when basketball is over? Or what are you going to do when baseball is over?
Um, because like, yes, you’re 24 now. And you’re like, you’re in your prime. Um, but in 10, 15 years, like this is over and you’re going to need, you get to need something else or else you’re just going to be lost. Um, and so he kind of prepares them for that, that fall. And so one of the ideas, I mean, this is kind of a long tangent to get back to one of the core ideas of Subtle Art, which is like, I think a lot of it is holding their identity loosely. But another thing that I write about is I think of it in terms of like diversifying your identity. So not just being an athlete, you know, find your self esteem in multiple places, be a good athlete, be a good father, be a good partner, be a good friend. Um, you, a business owner, be an investor be all these different things that you can find, like find multiple places where you can take pride in and Mmm. And self esteem. So that, uh, if one of the chair legs gets knocked out, God forbid you don’t fall on your ass.
Right. My podcast get over yourself, because that was the number one lesson that I had to learn as an athlete while I was an athlete to not attach my self esteem to the outcome, because if I was able to be free from that, I was then fearless. I was like, what the F to use one of your terms I could get on the starting line and just compete without that nervousness and that pressure and that tension and that anxiety. And I suppose that extends to a writer trying to write a book. And if it’s it or someone trying to pass the bar exam, if it’s life or death, I mean, that can motivate us to a certain extent. But I think that’s when we get the train wreck lifestyles of the athletes where that’s all, they’re all about and they can’t function otherwise, if they, if they have a bad day, it ruins everything.
Totally, totally. Yeah. It’s, it’s the old process over outcome thing, right? It’s like, like focused on, on what you can control. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control how well you do something, you know, how, how, uh, the amount of effort and energy that you put into something, you know? So, yeah, I think that applies all all over life, uh, including, including writing as well as athletics.
Uh, what about relationships? Uh, can you, can you go in there and, um, you know, we’re supposed to see our life as a series of decisions and actions that takes away the identity part. Can you apply that to a love relationship and sort of not be attached to the outcome, just do your best every day and not take, not take anything for granted, like, Hey, uh, we’re planning to stay married and raise this kid maybe, uh, or that kind of thing.
Uh, actually I think it absolutely works with relationships. And one of the first things, uh, that I think kind of any good relationship coach will say is that success isn’t necessarily staying together. Sometimes success means breaking up with somebody. Um, you know, sometimes two people are just not right for each other. Like it’s just not a good situation. And so, um, and you know, kind of bringing it back to Love is Not Enough. Like I definitely always made an effort to not have some sort of set expectation in mind of like, what is right for this person. You know, sometimes they would come in and with a problem and, and they would have an expectation of what they wanted to get from the process, but it’s, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is what it’s good for them or what is healthy for them. And so, um, my philosophy with relationships is that you focus on your emotional health.
Like you get your emotional life in order to get your emotional health in order. And the outward stuff will start to take care of itself. Bad relationships will either improve or they will fall away. Um, and good relationships will get better. Uh, cause I think the opposite approach, you know, it’s like deciding if you’re having like relationship like marriage problems and you decide like, you know what, my partner, uh, I want him or her to be this way. Like they need to understand this and I’m not going to be happy until my partner does X, Y, and Z. Like, you’re just setting yourself up for misery.
But so, so common. I mean, we, we go there, we trigger there so quickly. Um, so how do we distinguish between, um, you know, our flawed childhood programming playing out versus a healthy request or an establishment of boundaries that you you’ve talked about so frequently, uh, with your, with your, uh, your, your guests on Love is Not Enough.
I it’s hard. I mean, this comes back to the simple but difficult. Um, you know, we, we all have some of these unhealthy patterns in how we interact with people, especially people we’re close with or intimate with. Uh, and I think the first thing is just to recognize those patterns in yourself, recognize like, Oh, this is an area that I tend to get triggered and try to control my partner, control the relationship, um, and recognizing that, and then allowing yourself to kind of let go of that control and simply, you know, tell your partner how you feel, say like this, this makes me feel this way, but then leave it alone and, and, um, trust them too, to, to be there for you or to, to come to some sort of solution that works for both people.
Boy, that recognition is a tough one. Maybe sometimes you need someone outside of yourself, like a good friend setting you straight. You know, I’ve had those people in my life that had no filter on their mouth and mostly they were, um, you know, they had a high score in the Dick category in general life, but you know, I treasure that, that, uh, unfiltered because it is so rare these days.
Yeah. It’s, I think friends can be good for a family. It’s hard to find people in your life that will A be honest with you and B not project their own desires and prejudices onto you as well. You know, it’s um, I remember I, uh, when I was in college, my, so my first serious relationship, my, my girlfriend left me. It was, it was a disaster. She was, cheating on me. It was just this big drama blow up or whatever. And I remember, um, I’d kind of be like, I live next door to this pizza place. And I, and I kind of become friends with some of the guys who work there. They’re like old school, Italian dudes in Boston. And, uh, and I was like, really busted up about this breakup that I went in there one day. And like the guy working there was like, Hey man, you don’t look so good. Like what’s wrong. And I told him like, Oh, my girlfriend just left me and blah, blah, blah. And, uh, and he’s like, you know, he gives me like a free slice and he’s like, sit down, man, let’s talk about it. And I’m like, Oh wow, this guy is so nice. Like, I, you know, this is so great. And then he starts, he’s like, you know what? The problem is, women, man, they just fucking lie to you. They just don’t, they’re all liars. And he starts going into this like super sexist tirade and I’m like, Whoa, Whoa, thank you for being honest. But, uh, this is pretty helpful right now, you know, I got the hell out of there. So it’s like, you need people to be honest, but you also need to make sure that they have your best interests, that they’re not just projecting their own shit onto…. Mmm. That they’re not just, you know, trying to prove something to themselves. And it’s hard to find that it’s really hard to find that.
Well, I guess you could find that in therapy, if it were a really valuable, uh, interaction where instead of just someone listening to you spill your guts, which is kind of my aversion to, I don’t need to pay somebody for me to, you know, launch into my diatribe, but if someone can kind of help set you straight with that independent perspective.
Yeah, yeah. A good therapist, you know, I think ideally that’s kinda what they’re there for, um, you know, relationship, uh, counselors generally. That’s kind of what they’re there for. Um, Yeah, the quality varies a lot.
Yeah.It seemed like your approach on the, on the recordings was sort of counter to our usual, uh, experience of therapy and it seemed more effective because you were kind of cutting to the chase in certain ways or getting, getting the people to look at things maybe in a different way than they might after 50 therapy sessions.
Yeah. It’s um, You know, there are certain standards in therapy practice that it must be adhered to. And part of that is that therapists are generally, they’re taught to be very, very careful about, uh, inserting or, or suggesting their own ideas. You know, they don’t want to lead you. They want you to find your way yourself. And so they, it, it’s part of their training that they’re not really supposed to kind of be like, Hey, here’s your blind spot. You messed up. Um, that’s, that’s good. That’s kind of looked down upon in the therapy profession, which, which is understandable. I think if you’re trying to like kind of create a one size fits all template, um, you know, you have to be aware, you have to be careful of those sorts of things. Like as some, as a coach or somebody who’s trying to help somebody else, like you, you need to be aware of the ways you could potentially project your biases and prejudices onto them or lead them in a direction that they wouldn’t necessarily want to go with themselves. Um, I’m not a therapist, I’m just a dude, uh, who writes stuff. And so I have the liberty too, kind of just steer people where I want them to. And, and I try it and I just, I’m very open about my thought process as I do it. Um, and so in many ways it’s much more aggressive than typical therapy and it’s the sort of thing that, uh, if I’m good at what I do, then it can be very effective. Um, but if I’m not, it can be dangerous, you know? So it’s like if I’m an idiot and I just, if I’m like the guy in the pizza shop, I could start, I could, I could start leading people down, some like bad beliefs, you know, cause they’re putting their faith in me and trusting me. Um, so it’s a lot like the way I would call it, like the way of like self help people do it. It’s a little bit of a double edged sword and that it can be more effective. Uh, but you have to be very careful who you’re listening to because if they have an agenda then, um, I think people can be very easily misled.
Well, if I get you, I guess if you get misled down the wrong path, you could have an awakening and you know, your, your educational growth thing could be that you conclude the guy’s an idiot who gave you this advice. And that could be wonderful. I could be like, Hey, Hey Mark. I wanted to thank you so much for telling me to suggest. And I break up with my girlfriend, we’re back together. I just got her a ring. Hey man. You know, and I think those things happen in real life too. I mean,
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, and it’s, it’s, I’ve been wrong many times. Um, and I try to always remain aware of that. Um, but yeah, I mean, if you look throughout the self help industry, I mean, there’s a lot of, uh, movements and gurus that kind of went down some stray path, um, and, and people, and it actually ended up teaching people what not to do essentially.
very valuable life lesson. I’ll never forget it.
So back to that, uh, that first step that we need to acknowledge are our flawed patterns. Do you think that we, we know better than we, we might admit if we really sat down and got quiet about it and maybe without the therapist help or the life coach, um, we could, we could just recognize how we’re sabotaging or doing those repeating patterns that were described with the people you helped and in Love is Not Enough?
I think, you know, anything that builds self-awareness will Mmm will help with these sorts of processes. Um, so therapy is one way to do that, you know, and essentially building self-awareness any, anything that gets you to view your own thoughts and feelings from an outside perspective will build that, that sense of self awareness. And so therapy is one way to do that. Journaling is a way to do that. Meditation is a way to do that. Um, reading books that talk about different thought patterns and ideas as a way to do that. So there are many ways to kind of work that muscle, so to speak. Um, talk therapy is, is one of many tools. It’s a very effective tool in generally, but it’s, it’s not the only one.
How about getting the emotional brain to connect with the thinking brain? Uh, I’d love to talk about that some more. Cause that was a real, um, uh, eyeopener for me because we’re, we’re so good with the thinking brain. And I kind of, I remember back to the athletic reference, I was, I was this highly analytical athlete, right. You know, sort out the things that caused me to race poorly and then design a scheme to change them and strategize with different experts. And you’re going so far down into your, your thinking brain and especially if it comes to relationships or personal improvement or the things that you you write about so much, um, how do we, how do we make that bridge where we, we acknowledge that the emotional brain rules overall, or you can describe it better. I’m sure this is, this is the content from Everything is Fucked. I’m getting to know.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the last book I talked about how our general assumption is that our, uh, is that we’re rational creatures who sit down and plan and schedule things and set goals for ourselves and do A B and C to try to achieve those goals. And, uh, you know, there is a certain amount of stuff of that that does happen in our heads, but ultimately we’re all very emotional creatures. We come, we generally come to our beliefs and our conclusions emotionally. Um, we make our decisions emotionally by and large. And typically our, our thinking brain is his job is to simply, uh, come up with the explanations afterwards that make our emotional decisions sound correct to us. And I think anybody who’s, you know, it’s interesting, you bring up the analytical thing because I’ve, I have a tendency to get super analytical and start quantify, like quantifying all this, you know, I used to track like how many hours I wrote and, um, how many words I would write per hour and all this stuff. And, and I think anybody who does that sort of thing long enough and is honest about it, they start to notice all the different, subtle ways that they like can fudge the numbers one way or another, you know, it’s like, it’s like, you know, what, when, what time do you exactly do you start counting?
And you know, Oh, that, that thing you jotted down in the evening, does that count? Cause that didn’t fall with, you know, you start finding all these little, you move the parameters around to kind of fit the conclusion you want to see. And, uh, and this is a very well known problem in science in general, is that just people it’s, it’s very easy to, uh, take the, uh, the fence posts and move the fence posts around in such a way to kind of get the result that you are looking for and doing it without even realizing you’re doing it. Um, and so the first half of my book, Everything is Fucked. It’s kind of about this, about how just really untrustworthy we are. Um, well, you know, our own thoughts are how, how pretty much all of our thoughts, no matter how rational we believe we’re being, we there’s some sort of ulterior motive going on.
And, um, there’s something we’re trying to prove. There’s something we’re trying to show that we deserve or we don’t deserve. Um, and it it’s, you can’t really that’s as simply a part of human nature. You can’t really defeat that. Um, and I talk about how throughout a lot of modern history Mmm. The idea was that we could defeat irrationality through being civilized, rational, educated, you know, men and women. And, uh, you know, the, the, the science is back and it’s like, you just can’t, you, you, you will not get rid of that, that impulsive side of ourselves, that bias side of ourselves. And so the most that we can do is simply become aware of it and work with it than against it. And so I kinda, the way I describe it as like you have two brains, we’re thinking brain and you’re feeling brain, and they’re bad at talking to each other, you know, the thinking brain thinks it’s, it’s in charge.
Um, and, and the feeling brain is actually in charge. And, um, and so really what an emotionally healthy person is, is somebody who has managed to kind of integrate their thoughts and their feelings in a way where you are able to think somewhat objectively about your feelings and what biases you might have. Um, and then also, and also be able to set up parameters for yourself that you will create feelings that are useful for yourself rather than hinder yourself. Um, and so it’s, it’s a, it’s an abstract idea, but I think it’s a very powerful idea. And I think it kind of applies all over. Um, you know, when you were mentioning your experience in athletics of trying to like overanalyze everything and quantify everything. It’s I see this a lot in, uh, just as a fan of sports is that, I think what gets lost sometimes is that if, if you view a sport as a system with a bunch of variables that are interacting to create a certain result, people forget that emotion is one of those variables.
It’s like your emotions are the emotion of the emotions of the athlete is a variable in the system that will produce output. Um, so if you’re like upset that day, or feeling crappy, or he got in a fight with your mom or something like that affects output, that affects results, but it’s, it’s not easy to measure feelings. And so we often just skip over it or,
or make up a rationalization to, um, to, to justify the crazy ass emotional behavior that leads to, uh, narcissism addiction, uh, what was on your list, uh, depression, anxiety, all these things. And then we convince ourselves that it wasn’t our fault, or what have you. So, um, you mentioned setting up some parameters to stay away from that, uh, persistent, low level narcissism that, that comes as a result of not having that good communication. What are the, what are some parameters? How can we, how can we nail this?
So I’ll give you a really good example that actually just came up today. Um, uh, so I I’ve, I’m in quarantine and my exercise habits have just kind of like fallen off. Um, as I imagine, a lot of people have during this period, um, gym is closed, you know, can’t work with my trainer in person anymore, you all this. And so my trainer is kind of, he’s been bugging me to like, do some home workouts and I’m, I just don’t do them every week. I’ve got another excuse and it just doesn’t happen. And so finally he actually, he and I had a talk today and we kind of talked about like how we could change some things to, to, to make it work. And, uh, it, and basically he said, you know, okay, let’s do this for the next month. Every time you miss a workout, I’m going to donate money to the political party that you hate.
Oh, man, I immediately was like, just overwhelmed with fear. I was like, Oh God, no. And he’s like, not only am I going to donate money for that political party, but I’m going to donate it in your name so that they know it came from you. I was like, no, dude, no, you can’t do that though. It’s like, absolutely not. He’s like, okay, we’ll do your workouts. It’s like, God, now another call.
New Speaker (00:39:41):
See ya Mark. Goodbye.
And so now I’m, I am like filled with terror. I guarantee you I’m going to do every workout this week. Like, it’s just, but it’s okay. It’s brilliant that he did that. And I actually talked about doing stuff like that in my book, but it’s it’s, you can create spreadsheets, you can create plans, you can create schedules. You can, you can organize all day and all night, but until you shift your emotion in such a way to make you do something, to motivate you to do something, uh, you’re never going to do it. And so I use this example as, instead of going over all the plans and trying to like logic me into working out, uh, he’s basically scaring me into doing it and, uh, which is very effective.
Yeah. I, I remember, uh, doing this with the soccer team kids that I coached, I think I got it from some military example, but, uh, if, if a kid was goofing around or showed up late, um, what I, what I started doing was having them stand and watch and clap while their teammates did a punishment, pushups or whatever. And so sort of the opposite switched from some kid trying to get attention and didn’t mind doing the extra pushups. Uh, now I’m sure that’s going to be highly effective for the first week or two weeks or three weeks, but is there some, I mean, you said the first emotion that came up was fear. Um, can that, can that carry you for a long duration time? And is that healthy because it’s of course the negative emotion in your example?
Well, generally, Well, first of all, negative emotions can be very, very useful. Uh, and that’s, that’s one thing I talked about in Subtle Art that I think gets lost a lot these days. Um, I get so many emails from people saying, how do I stop feeling anxious? How do I stop feeling, uh, you know, angry? And I’m like, well, It depends, you know, it’s the emotion itself, isn’t bad. It’s what are you doing with that emotion? I actually got an email today from a frontline hospital worker. She’s working 14 hour shifts, you know, dealing with COVID-19 patients. Um, and she said, she’s like, I’m stressed all the time. Like, how do I stop being stressed? And I’m like, yeah, I didn’t exactly. I didn’t reply. I’m like, no, you’re supposed to be stressed. Like, you know, the only thing that is keeping you working 14 hours stress, um, stress is not always a bad thing.
Stress stress is a, our body’s call to action. Um, and so it can happen for bad reasons. It can cause us to do bad things that can happen for reasons that don’t make sense. But if you’re a doctor and you’re dealing with dozens and dozens of COVID-19 patients, like you should be stressed. And that that’s a, that is a good moment for you to be stressed. And because it is helping you accomplish what you need to accomplish in that moment. Um, so yeah, the first I’ll answer the kind of two, two part answer here. The first part is, you know, negative emotions. Aren’t always bad and fear is actually a great motivator if it can be put in the right context. Um, too, you know, I think whenever you’re so like me, like with me in the workouts, for instance Mmm. The goal. So for many, many years of my life, I was always very good about going to the gym.
I never really had trouble exercising. Suddenly I’m in quarantine. Can’t really go outside. Gyms are closed and I’m like lost. I’m completely. I’m like doing push. I feel like a dolphin in my living room trying to do sit ups and move my legs and all this I’m like, what the hell is this? I don’t want to do this anymore. And it’s okay. I don’t have those habits in place. And so the, the way you build, basically you want to leverage your emotion to do the action you want to do long enough so that it becomes a habit so that it no longer feels difficult anymore. It starts to feel automatic. But to get to that automatic place, you have to leverage emotion. You know, it’s, you, you can’t, uh, you, you know, you can’t take somebody who, who has eaten junk food all their life. And just overnight, they’re gonna like fix it. Like you, you have to set up parameters, you know, rewards and punishments and threats and, and, uh, pleasures that are gonna kind of nudge that person into the behaviors and into the right behaviors. And so that they can do them long enough that they start to experience the rewards of the behaviors themselves, that they no longer need that external or that external motivation.
Right. So you could certainly throw positive emotions into this mix and positive motivations. Like you’re gonna win a prize. Your trainer’s going to take you out to dinner if you can do three workouts in a row, what have you, it have to be the donation to the totally evil parties.
Yeah, totally. But what’s interesting is that people tend to, some people respond much better to positive reinforcement. Some people respond much better than negative reinforcement. Um, me, for whatever reason, I respond really, really well to negative reinforcement. It’s, it’s nothing motivates me more than somebody telling me I can’t do something like nothing. Or like somebody telling me I suck at something like that. It, it just lights a fire in me. Whereas, and I’ve noticed that just over the years with coaches and mentors and classes, I’ve done, you know, the, the, the teachers and coaches who are, who are like, Hey, great job. I’m really proud of you. Like, it means nothing to me. It’s, it’s the coach. Who’s like, what the fuck is this like this? You were like, what are you? You’re so better. So you could do so much better than this spark. What the hell are you doing? It’s like, those are the people. Those are the coaches. I get the best out of me. And it’s just a personality.
Hmm. It seems like that’s a universal. Um, that, that would be universally beneficial unless you cracked and you couldn’t handle someone giving you direct feedback. But I think, you know, you write about this, uh, stereotype entitled, uh, generation where they’re all they’re getting as a trophy for ninth place and their whole life they’ve had nothing, but I guess they’ve eliminated that, uh, that opportunity for the emotional charge to lead to action, because everything’s wonderful all the time.
Yeah. Yeah. And look, we, we need both, right? Like you need positive and negatively. And we all do, uh, if you have all positive reinforcement and no negative reinforcement, you’ve turned into a entitled Nitwit, you know, who demands everything right now and thinks they deserve everything. If you only have negative feedback and no positive feedback, then you, you get a lot of very neurotic self hating people. Um, and so you need a nice mix of both and, and, and they also need to be contextualized, you know, it, uh, and they also need to be delivered in a certain way. You know, it’s with negative feedback, generally, you want negative feedback to be about effort and not the person. Mmm.
So it’s, it’s, you don’t ever want to be like, you’re an idiot. You’re never going to be able to do this. You know, like that’s bad, negative feedback. Good. Negative feedback is you’re capable of so much more. I wish you put in more effort. I think you underestimate yourself, you know, what the fuck are you doing? Like that that’s a good negative feedback. Um, and same thing with positive feedback, generally. It’s it’s if you say like, Oh, you’re, you’re just a little genius. You’re going to do amazing things like that, that, that de-motivates people, you know, cause they’re like, Oh, well I’m a genius, so I don’t need to work at this. Um, whereas if you applaud the effort, then, um, it generally encourages greater about to effort in the future. But yeah, it’s, uh, it’s funny, cause this is something that I, I have found so important in my own life.
And when I talk to people and work with people, you know, everybody in the Love is Not Enough audio book, like aye, very early on. I tried to kind of get a sense of where they are on that spectrum if they need encouragement or if they need somebody to kind of kick them in the ass a little bit. Um, and it it’s, people, people react to different things. Um, so yeah, it’s, it’s useful to know that about yourself.
Could this be connected to, um, the thinking brain and the feeling brain as far as where you are on the spectrum of, of what you need positive and negative feedback?
Um, I don’t know. It’s definitely, it’s some sort of innate personality thing for sure. Um, I think it, some people have a tendency to, um, let’s put it this way. Some people have a tendency to kind of overestimate themselves and some people have a tendency to kind of underestimate themselves. And I think people who tend to overestimate themselves, which, which I include myself in that, it, it feels it’s very healthy for me to like hear somebody kind of cut me down a little bit. Mmm. Because I just, I have a tendency if left to my own devices. I just know from my personal history that I have a tendency to get a little bit cocky and lethargic, you know, it’s like, ah, I don’t need to work out this week, whatever, like, I’ll be fine. Um, and it’s, so the negative feedback kind of, it brings, it balances me out a little bit. And I do know that there’s a lot of people who are just incredibly hard on themselves often for completely unnecessary reasons. And I think for them, you know, it’s kind of weighting the positive feedback. It’s probably going to be more effective.
Are these things stemming from our, uh, programming from childhood experiences?
No, I, I really know. I definitely think that there’s probably just a personality, like a permanent personality component, you know, the same way. Some people are just more extroverted and some people are not, I think some people are just really respond to abrasiveness better than others. And, um, but I mean, that’s just, that’s just the conjecture. I actually don’t know any research on that.
Um, I’m reminded of your, your comments you gave to Aubrey Marcus on the podcast about, uh, you know, you’re talking in the Subtle Art about appreciating the struggle in life, focusing on the meaningful struggle, choosing what to give a fuck about, and then describing how your head exploded with the incredible success of the book. And you had to sort of recalibrate, or you had a lull period where you were, were doing the video games and the junk food. I’d love to know more about that.
Mmm. Yeah. The, the, the success of Subtle Art. And I guess for listeners who don’t know like Subtle Art, Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck it, uh, at this point, I think it’s sold over 12 million copies, um, which, and the publishing world that’s like, they’re pretty good. Yeah. Nice.
Very nice Kazakhstan as well.
Definitely. No, no, uh, complaints over here, but it’s, it was so it’s success so far outstrip my expectations that I literally hit a point where I didn’t know what to do with myself, you know, in my mind, uh, you know, there’s a John Lennon quote that life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans. You know, in my mind I had planned like, okay, this is my first book. Let’s try to get a good launch. And then, you know, over books, two, three, four, and five, I’ll try to build up, you know, become a big bestseller, develop like a, you know, hit the speaking circuit, do all these things.
And pretty much all of my kind of life goals that I had lined out for myself over the next 10, 10 to 20 years, um, I hit them all in like three, three months, you know, and which was incredible. It was absolutely amazing for about six weeks. And then on like week seven, I woke up and I’m like, Oh my God, I have no clue what to do with myself because it’s like, everything that I’ve been working for and dreaming about for the last 10 years, like just happened. And now it’s over. Like now I have to, like, I don’t know what the next thing is. Like, how do you, there’s only, it felt like there was only, you could only go down from there. Um, and so I just, I actually became very lost and kind of depressed for about a year and, uh, which was really unexpected, which I think made it a little bit more difficult.
And then what also made it a little bit more difficult was that I never really felt right. Talking to people about it because you know, the last thing anybody wants to hear is like, Oh, I sold 5 million books and was number one in 12 countries. And I’m depressed. Like nobody wants to hear that guy. They’re going to use that.
They’re going to use a comment of one of the words in your title. They’re going to throw it back at you.
Exactly. Uh, so yeah, I just, I felt very lost and confused about it for awhile. And, um, and what I eventually, the conclusion I came to was that I needed ultimately, like, we always need something to look forward to, uh, which, you know, and it’s no coincidence that this kind of became the theme of my second book, but we all need something to look forward to. And it’s what we’re accustomed to is that when things get so bad, we struggled to find something to look forward to. But what we don’t realize is that also if things go really, really well, you can also struggle to find something to look forward to. Uh, and so it’s, for me, it was very much just about finding new dreams and new goals for myself, um, and finding, finding a new vision for myself and kind of like a post Subtle Art life. Uh, and that, that pulled me out of it. It, you know, that was a big realization for me and it’s, and it’s been funny because I’ve been talking about this in a lot of interviews since then the last couple of years, and a lot of people have reached out. Mmm. You know, people, people have told me that, Mmm. People who started businesses and then sold them for a bunch of money.
Mmm. People who, uh, actually, apparently it’s, it’s, it’s not uncommon with athletes, like people who like go to the Olympics or whatever, and then suddenly it’s over, you know, it’s, it’s, they they’ve told me that it’s like his, the hardest part of period of my life is I actually had a friend here in town who he was co founder of like a big startup successful startup. And he, uh, they went public a couple of years ago and, you know, suddenly he’s just worth like tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars. Mmm. And he, I, you know, I’m not super close with him, but I, I would hang out with him once or twice a year. And, uh, and I knew that he had also been playing a lot of video games. And so I started hanging out with him.
You found him online, you found a screen name there in the corner.
Yeah, exactly. And, uh, you know, and I started telling him it was during this period. I started telling him about it and, uh, and he just looked at me and he’s like, yeah, dude. And he’s like, aye. Since my company went public, he’s like, all I do is play video games. He’s like, I’m so lost. I have no idea what to do with myself. Um, so it’s a, it’s a thing. And it’s a, it’s a thing. It’s a real thing. People, he is, somebody told me that, that it’s, it’s called, uh, she had heard it called astronauts syndrome. Cause astronauts who came back from space knew that nothing else that they ever did in their life, whatever, compared to what they just did. And, and so it’s very common for astronauts to go through a period of depression afterwards.
Yeah. I also wonder if you, you know, take a step back, we can talk again when we’re 80 and 93 or whatever. Uh, but you know, these highs and lows that you’ve already experienced at a relatively young age, maybe those are part and parcel. So if you become a sensational number one bestseller, maybe that pairs with a year of eating junk food, playing too many video games, having wondering what’s next. I mean, is that sort of a necessary component rather than the opposite would be? Yeah. Mark punches the clock. He’s always here at 8:00 AM and he checks out at five and he’s worked here 47 years.
Yeah. Yeah. I, it could be, I mean, one thing that I really had to work hard for myself is to stop judging that, you know, and, and, and except that, you know, even if, maybe that’s not true for everybody, maybe that’s true for me. Maybe I needed that period. Mmm. And that in some ways it would be almost inhuman to not, uh, you know, to show up the next day and write. As if nothing happens, you know, like that, that actually sounds even crazier, I guess,
unless you’re going for a, unless you want a bigger private jet and some of those people they’re insatiable, and that doesn’t seem too healthy to me either. So maybe this was a more healthy response than, you know, buying your own billboard in times square, because now you could afford to promote your book more.
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, it’s something, uh, and that’s something that I, I often struggle with sometimes too, which is, I don’t need a lot to be happy. Uh I’m like a pretty simple dude. It was funny. I did a, I did a, I did a podcast with like one of these like really like manly Mans, Mans, fitness shows or whatever. And they’re.
Like, like mine.
Yeah. Super, super macho. And they’re like, so broke, be honest with w what’d you spend your first check on. And they were like Sears and They’re expecting me to like, say I bought like a car or a boat or like something ridiculous. Right? And I told them, I was like, well, I bought a new Nintendo and they just started, they thought that was the funniest thing in the world. But, uh, but it’s true. It’s like, I don’t, I don’t need a lot. And so sometimes I feel, well, I live simply, I feel guilty that I’m not taking advantage of like all the opportunity I’ve been given in life. But then when I am working my ass off and spending a bunch of money, then I feel guilty. Like I don’t need this to be happy. So it’s one of those situations where, you know, you’re just human and your brain fucks you over no matter what you do.
Yeah. It’s a difficult struggle to achieve the balance there. And so, you know, now I’m 55 year old dude. And I have spent the first 50 years of my life enjoying myself, pursuing my own passions, answering to my own drummer and then sitting back and going, gosh, I haven’t been entirely responsible with my building of wealth and security and making sound decisions and manifesting, uh, you know, all that’s necessary. So, you know, I wanna, I want to improve as a person all the time, but to have that balance where, um, you know, I don’t have an insatiable need for, uh, the Lamborghini that’s orange on the outside and black on the inside. But, you know, again, if you just, uh, you know, want to be a surf bum, the rest of your life, that might be a source of pain and suffering too. So, you know, to strike that balance, I guess it’s, um, an ongoing challenge.
Yeah. And it’s, it’s funny. Cause whenever I start talking about this, a lot of people remind me that I, inchapter two of Subtle Art, I liked very explicitly said, this is that like, no matter what you do, you’re going to be slightly dissatisfied with. So it’s been funny because a lot of, and it’s been, it’s been funny and it’s been ironic in that, like a lot of, kind of the existential struggle that I’ve gone through since Subtle Art of not giving a fuck does come out, has been explicitly described in the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. It’s been forced to eat my what’s the saying, eat my . …
Or are they regurgitate your own pages? Choke on them, whatever.
Yeah. Yeah. Just the, there’s some metaphor there that I’m missing, but yeah, I’m supposed to eat my own crow.
Oh man. Mark. I appreciate the, I appreciate the chance to catch up with you. And it’s the depth of your books is it’s a challenge, man. I used to listen to all my books at 1.7, five speed, sometimes double speed. Cause I can listen as many books as possible, but we got to really slow down and absorb these insights. I appreciate You walking us through them on the show. I think it’s going to really entice the reader to go grab the necessary if they haven’t read them. And I think they, they string together nicely. And it gets us thinking about these things, especially that, um, connecting the feeling brain with the thinking brain that that’s an ongoing, I mean, almost every thought that comes out, you can kinda, you can kind of see where we’re where we have a chance to go South.
Plunge into persistent low level narcissism, as you say.
Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of our default state. I think not that we, not that we know it, but if you say so I’ll, I’ll try to, I’ll try to accept those words and think about it a little bit. Okay. So you did this interesting unique project called Love is Not Enough for audible. It was just an audio recording with the interviews, with the couples and what’s up next, man? What other creative thing you got cooking?
I am just finishing off the draft. I’m, I’m helping Will Smith write his memoir and um, just actually just finished off the, the first draft yesterday. Um, and then, and just started revising it today. So that will come out probably next year sometime, but that’s been a lot of fun. That’s been a really, really cool perk.
Miami bringing the heat for real y’all don’t understand. I’ve never seen so many Dominican women with cinnamon tans Will Smith. Oh man. That’s going to be a great book.
Yeah. It’s he’s, he’s awesome. And it’s, it’s been a ton of fun and it, and it it’s really honestly like it’s, it’s been one of my favorite projects that I’ve worked on in my career. Um, just because I mean, he’s fun and he’s got a lot of cool ideas and, and an interesting life, but yeah. Mmm. But it’s, it’s been a real honor to just take somebody who’s done so much in his life and uh, and just help them share it with the world. You know, he’s just, he’s never really opened up about his life, um, before. And so it’s, it’s a real honor to kind of be a part of that and help them do it.
Did you have to beat out numerous other high profile candidates for the job of, of my story together?
Um, I don’t know, but it was, you know, getting the gig was, was a real trip. It was maybe the weirdest job interview process I’ve gone through. I don’t know how much I get talk about it publicly, but it was, it was, there were a lot of gatekeepers and uh, and then a lot of just surreal experiences of like getting an email on a Wednesday night saying, are you free to, to London? And then replying and being like, yeah, sure. When? And they’re like tomorrow morning, you’re like, wait, what? They’re like, are you serious? Okay. Yeah. Well there’s the ticket. Yeah. They’re serious. All right.
Well you had to see if you could hang big Willy style. Of course, exactly.
Exactly. I guess I passed the test.
All right, Mark Manson. We know where to find you Mark manson.net. Anything else we want to share with the listeners to track and follow?
No, uh, you know, check out the books and stay safe out there and stay healthy. Yeah.
Now when I searched for the books, they, they pull up together. Like they force you to buy both of them. So that was clever on Amazon. And why not? Why not? You know? Yeah. Stay safe and healthy everybody. Thanks for spending the time, Mark.
Speaker 4 (01:06:05):
Yup. Thanks for having me. Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at getoveryourselfpodcastatgmail.com. And we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves cause they need to thanks for doing it.