Optimize with Brian Johnson

This week on The Living Experiment, as part of our live-edition episode series, Pilar welcomes a special guest — Brian Johnson, the creator of Optimize and the Founder + CEΦ of Heroic Public Benefit Corporation (Heroic).

Brian has spent half of the last twenty-five years as a Founder/CEO and the other half as a Philosopher, creating hundreds of his PhilosophersNotes — summaries of all sorts of brilliant books worth reading.

As a Founder/CEO, he’s built and sold two market-leading social platforms. As a Philosopher, he’s served tens of thousands of people from every country in the world with his Optimize membership, and he has also trained over 3,500 people from 90+ countries with his Optimize Coach program — a 300-day program scientifically proven to change lives for the better.

Most recently, in March 2021, with the support of 2,500+ Founding Investors from dozens of countries around the world, Brian’s new business — Heroic — made history. And just recently, Brian has begun giving away a big chunk of his life’s work — for reasons he explains here.

Along the way, Brian and Pilar talk about what it means to be a “living experimenter,” about the inner voices and instincts that help each of us find our own way, and about the exciting paths Brian sees ahead as he embarks on the most ambitious project of his life and career — training heroes for a world that needs them more than ever.

As always, we wrap up with some fun experiments to help you connect with your own most inspired and heroic self.

“Optimize” Episode Highlights

  • Brian’s personal and professional career arc, built on his low tolerance for doing things that just don’t feel right and his willingness to experiment
  • Getting comfortable with failure as a necessary stop on the road to success, and overcoming the creatively paralyzing aspects of perfectionism
  • The origins and evolution of PhilosophersNotes and Optimize
  • Making important life decisions through experimentation — with self compassion and a sense of our common humanity
  • Learning from mistakes, using challenges as fuel for growth  — and ultimately enjoying the process
  • How Heroic grew from Optimize
  • Brian’s decision to give away his Optimize content and temporarily lower the price of his Optimize Coach program, and the amazing response to that
  • Brian’s goal to prove with Heroic that virtue and benefiting the greater good can be a competitive advantage
  • Defining the word “hero” — a protector with the strength to protect themselves, their values, and the people they care about, with love rather than violence
  • Measuring Heroic’s success using “annual recurring virtue” rather than revenue — and creating a more virtuous world, one act, one person at a time
  • Optimize Coach — a 300-day program for individuals who want to live their most heroic lives by mastering themselves and serving the world around them

Experiment of the Week

Become an Optimizer by signing up for a free Optimize by Heroic account.

Resources

Like this podcast? You’ll love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Book cover: The Four Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

 

The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Afro Flow Yoga with Leslie and Jeff Jones

This week, Pilar talks with special guests Leslie Salmon Jones and Jeff W. Jones, co-founders of Afro Flow Yoga. Leslie and Jeff created Afro Flow Yoga in 2008, fusing a new blend of expressive movement and rhythmic music from their own explorations of healing and their African-American and Caribbean heritage in West Africa, Haiti and Jamaica. Leslie is an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer, yoga teacher, health coach and community activist. Jeff is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer and engineer whose musical roots stretch back through four generations of Black musicians. What they create together is extraordinary. Leslie and Jeff describe Afro Flow Yoga as “an embodied practice, integrating dance movements of the African Diaspora with meditative yoga and live healing music, promoting individual and collective healing in a compassionate, inclusive, non-judgmental and safe environment.” Pilar was delighted to have a chance to talk with Leslie and Jeff as part of The Living Experiment‘s COVID-edition live-broadcast series. First, because Leslie and Jeff are themselves great examples of “living experimenters” — creative innovators seeking a healthier way forward. And second, because Afro Flow Yoga is exactly the sort of re-centering and healing practice that so many of us are seeking for our own physical, mental and emotional health. So in this conversation, Pilar talks with Leslie and Jeff about what inspired them to create Afro Flow Yoga, the special role this practice has in helping us heal our fractured selves and trauma-stricken culture at this time, and where they see things going from here. If you haven’t already checked out one of their virtual classes or retreat experiences, we hope you will — so you can experience the whole-person “aha” of Afro Flow Yoga for yourself. Note: The audio for this episode was sourced from a live video interview. If you’d like to watch it, click on the live video interview link in the Resources section, below.

“Afro Flow Yoga” Episode Highlights

  • Leslie’s background in dance and yoga, including her training at The Ailey School, plus a glimpse of her personal background
  • Jeff’s musical lineage — a pianist grandmother who was a mentor to Roland Hayes and Marion Anderson; a father who played bass for Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones; a classical soprano mother — and his influences, including Quincy Jones
  • Leslie and Jeff’s early collaborations in live-music dance performances and fitness videos
  • Leslie and Jeff’s explorations in West Africa — how witnessing slave dungeons and participating in traditional healing rituals informed Leslie and Jeff’s personal, professional and inter-cultural work
  • Some examples of Afro Flow Yoga performances and classes
  • Afro Flow Yoga as an inclusive, non-judgmental, healing, anti-racist, communal experience for anyone and everyone
  • Conversations about race, trauma and healing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder
  • Afro-Flow Yoga’s circle-class configuration — how this community-centered format promotes inclusion, connection and non-hierarchical exchange
  • The post-pandemic future of Afro Flow Yoga, including in-person and virtual classes and multi-day retreats (see Resources, below, for more on those)

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Take an online Afro Flow Yoga class, or even just watch one, and notice what happens. How do you feel in your body when you follow Leslie’s cues and feel into the class vibe? How long has it been since you let your body do something that just feels good?

Leslie’s Experiment of the Week

Learn something about the history of the culture you came from, or spend some time studying your personal lineage. Often we know nothing about our ancestry, so give some thoughts to your roots and your interconnectedness with everyone.

Jeff’s Experiment of the Week

Look at a map of the area where you live and start to recognize place or feature names that might be indigenous in origin. Learn more about the First Nation cultures that occupied or passed through the area before you.

Resources

Like this podcast? You’ll love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER ORDER FROM AMAZON

Book cover: The Four Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig
The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released. Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!
Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot! We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Kitchen Whisperers with Dorothy Kalins

This week, Pilar talks to a special guest — James Beard award-winning journalist, author, and food legend Dorothy Kalins.

Dorothy is the founding editor of Saveur magazine and Metropolitan Home. She’s also a celebrated cookbook creator and the author of a terrific new book, The Kitchen Whisperers: Cooking with the Wisdom of Our Friends.

Dorothy’s book is a compendium of food know-how, acquired during a career spent rubbing elbows with some of the world’s most celebrated chefs. But it’s also an intimate, often funny, and sometimes moving homage to the food wisdom each of us integrates — if we’re lucky — through our own cooking and eating experiences over a lifetime.

In this episode, captured during a live video interview, Pilar and Dorothy chat about how their deepest stores of food wisdom come not from fast-action YouTube videos or chef cook-off reality shows, but rather from those real-life human influencers — parents, aunties, friends — who have passed down their quirks and crafts in ways that stick with us forever.

In The Kitchen Whisperers, Dorothy shares the wide array of culinary voices she hears in her ears — from her own mother to Mark Anthony and Marcella Hazan — and she explains why all those whisperings hold rich value.

Pilar and Dorothy talk about the thrill of getting tips from food titans, as well as the comfort of hand-me-down kitchen-wisdom, tidbits settled so deeply into our consciousness they’ve become a part of our own culinary identity.

From re-creating mom’s meatloaf to witnessing the alchemy of a French omelette, Dorothy helps us more fully perceive how our lives are enriched by what amounts to kitchen-wisdom osmosis, especially in an era where home cooking can seem like a nearly lost art.

Dorothy also makes a strong case for “what’s for breakfast?” as a morning mindfulness practice. And finally, we wrap up with some experiments to help you hear and appreciate the kitchen whisperers in your own life.

“Kitchen Whisperers with Dorothy Kalins” Episode Highlights

  • The origins of and inspirations for Dorothy’s book, The Kitchen Whisperers: Cooking with the Wisdom of Our Friends
  • Dorothy’s interest in demystifying simple ingredients, bought locally and cooked at home, vs. striving to replicate haute cuisine
  • The story of creatively re-creating her mother’s meatloaf
  • Our cultural angst around cooking and eating, and this book as antidote
  • A return to home gardening, accelerated by the pandemic and in response to the “tyranny of agribusiness and processed food”
  • Learning from the people around us, and keeping the tidbits that speak to us
  • Cultivating a reverence for ingredients, and the creativity of putting them together to make something that tastes good
  • The value of cultivating awareness and finding moments of gratification as we prepare — or even contemplate — something as simple as a cabbage

Dorothy’s Experiment of the Week

Watch the short video of Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton of Canal House Cooking making a wonderful radicchio salad. Notice how they impart their calm, kitchen-whispering magic as they work. Observe how many tidbits of wisdom come across — seemingly effortlessly — as they prepare the salad, offering little asides and how-tos. Also notice how much of that wisdom is transferable to other ingredients and other dishes.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Check out Dorothy’s terrific book, The Kitchen Whisperers. As you read it, notice how many personal memories and whispers it elicits for you. Notice the feelings that come up and evaluate what it is about those memories or that wisdom that have made them take hold for you. Or just scan your mind and memory to identify one personal kitchen whisperer who inhabits your culinary mind. Consider making a dish that leverages that wisdom, perhaps repeating the memory of the making of that dish — or even just some related technique — at it was demonstrated to you. You might also consider writing a note of gratitude to the person who imparted that wisdom, reaching out to the kitchen whisperer in question to let them know that you appreciate this gift, and that it stuck with you.

Resources

Like this podcast? You’ll love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

 

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

 

Make Time with John Zeratsky

This week we bring you an episode that has been a VERY long time coming — a special guest episode with New York Times best-selling author John Zeratsky.

John is the co-author — with Jake Knapp —  of two terrific books, Sprint (a popular business title from 2016) and Make Time: How to Focus On What Matters Every Day, which came out in the fall of 2018.

In this episode, recorded in the fall of 2019, John and Pilar talk about both titles, and about the themes connecting them. From the value of creating clear mental space for our most pressing priorities to the importance of respecting the limits of our time and attention, John makes a case for doing our lives differently than we’re doing them now — so we don’t get overwhelmed and start feeling like our lives are passing us by.

John shares some of the brilliant ideas from Make Time, including a strategy that helps you carve out 60 to 90 minutes for a single “highlight” priority each day, and then get better and better at making that priority happen.

We also talk about the value minimizing digital distractions, the pleasure of doing one thing at a time, the importance of taking breaks, and our shared passion for ultradian rhythms. We even veer into the territory of ancestral health and learning how to take better care of our bodies and minds by taking cues from the ways our ancient ancestors lived.

Whether you are looking to create more clarity and momentum in your life, or striving to keep anxiety and burnout at bay, the Make Time approach offers a lot of promise. John’s wisdom in leveraging small changes to create big impacts also holds a lot of hope — especially for those of us who feel like we are endlessly juggling more balls than we can handle.

Finally, we leave you with some fun experiments to help you make more time for whatever matters most to you.

“Make Time with John Zeratsky” Episode Highlights

  • The Google Ventures design sprint process behind Sprint: A unique and flexible 5-day process for solving tough problems and launching new products
  • Applying the design sprint ideas to everyday life in Make Time
  • John’s personal history with trying to become more productive and manage his time wisely
  • The Make Time strategy of choosing one daily highlight to focus on for 60 to 90 minutes, and how it results in easier decisions and interactions throughout the day
  • The pleasure of doing even one small thing well and to completion and the motivation that naturally follows
  • Why the human body is not capable of staying in a high productivity state all day long, and the energy-creating benefits of frequent breaks
  • The sick society we’ve created with the norms we’ve chosen to adhere to, and why the problem isn’t lack of willpower
  • The evolutionary benefits of distractability
  • John’s transition from the high-paced corporate world in San Francisco to a more deliberate life based in Milwaukee

John’s Experiment of the Week

Tomorrow morning, think about one thing that you want to accomplish. The one thing you most want to make time for and bring your greatest energy and attention to. It should be something you can do in 60 to 90 minutes, so it won’t be the only thing you will do all day. It might be something that needs to happen soon, or something you’ve been putting off doing, or just a fun thing. Block off the time in your calendar — it’s the best way to make sure the thing happens, but it also forces you to confront the tradeoffs in how you spend your time. Is your calendar too full to fit in the thing? What do you have to move around or re-prioritize to make it happen?

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Choose one day this week to track your Trouble Clock. On a piece of paper or in your calendar, make a note of every time you experience lower “willpower” — eating something you don’t want to eat, getting distracted on social media, skipping gym time, falling into a bad mood — and notice what you were doing two hours before the trouble started. What are the patterns and experiences that tend to precede the trouble? You might notice that trouble often strikes when you have gone too long without a break, and become depleted, overwhelmed, stressed, and overly  hungry as a result. Can you see how and when over-running your energy stores sets you up for “lower willpower” and unhealthy choices? Experiment with preemptively taking a break to rest and refuel before your situation becomes critical. Notice how predicting and getting ahead of your depleted states can help you avoid trouble.

Resources

If you like this podcast, you’ll love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by
Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

The 4 Season Solution by
Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Midlife

This week, we’re talking about Midlife — that fun and potentially funky moment when you realize you might well have fewer years ahead of you than you’ve already put behind you.

It’s a clarifying moment for many, and a moment of crisis for others. A moment when we realize that we may not have lived our own highest choices up until now — and that if we’re going to make the rest of our lives more the way we’d like them to be, this is the time to make that happen.

In the midst of all of this is the anxiety about getting older, looking older, being seen as just plain old in a culture that glorifies youth and youth-centric standards of beauty. And then, of course, there’s our mortality to consider.

So here, we talk about what middle age means to us, and the meaning our society has ascribed to it — cliches, stereotypes, prejudices and all.

We explore the assumptions we’ve had to challenge, and the gifts we’ve only begun to unwrap.

Dallas shares his view of life past 40, and Pilar shares her view from the other side of 50, which is looking pretty darn good to her.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you more fully appreciate — at any age — the years you’ve lived into while also making the most of the years you have left to embrace.

“Midlife” Episode Highlights

  • Appreciating that every day of our lives is precious, regardless of our age
  • The “midlife crisis” as a directional change and a natural phase of the expansion-contraction cycles of life
  • Our cultural failure to value the depth of experiences on the other side of youth
  • Pilar’s Healthy Deviant take on the Amplified Awareness of midlife — recognizing that we’ve spent years trying to conform to our society’s Unhealthy Default Reality and that it doesn’t work for us
  • Seeing that the images and ideals we’ve been chasing aren’t really who we are, accepting that without self-blame or shame
  • The ways our pursuits of pleasure and purpose change as we age
  • The shifts in Dallas’s life as he enters his 40s
  • Why investing in your self-understanding can help ease you through directional changes
  • The grief — and opportunities — associated with entering the autumn and winter of life
  • The unanimous response of women in Pilar’s circle saying that life is improving with age
  • Dallas’s Four-Season Solution take on neurochemical motivators: The dopamine of spring, adrenaline of summer, and serotonin of autumn
  • Understanding that our culture doesn’t educate us on the pleasures of later life, and finding your own information on aging well
  • Overcoming the inertia of societal expectations and old patterns, and our fear of change

No matter your age, imagine the middle of your life. Ask yourself what you’ve learned and experienced in the first half of your life that you can distill and carry forward into the second half. What is valuable?

Find a person who models for you a successful second half of life. It could be a good friend, an acquaintance, a public figure or a fictional character. First ask yourself if you’ve invested attention in looking for models of middle age and beyond, or if you’ve exclusively admired people who embody success in the first half of life. If you don’t have an older role model, find someone. They are out there.

Resources

If you like this podcast, you will love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by
Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

The 4 Season Solution by
Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Mini Update from Pilar

Life continues to be weird. So we are just rolling with it.

Here, Pilar offers some updates and options for folks who want to stay connected and who are eager keep experimenting through the rest of 2020.

“Mini Update” Episode Highlights

  • Our commitment to staying true to the energy of the moment and this podcast
  • The challenges of remotely recording podcast episodes in the context of COVID-19 and all its attendant disruptions
  • The necessity of putting our retreat plans on hold for now (our growing wait list will have to keep waiting!)
  • One potential retreat alternative: Pilar’s Healthy Deviant U experience
  • Healthy Deviant U includes:
  • A year’s worth of twice-monthly course sessions with real-life experiments that help you advance your Healthy Deviant skills and confidence — step by step, stage by stage
  • Alternate-week, twice-monthly office hours with live group coaching and Q and A sessions to help you create greater clarity and momentum
  • Individualized hot-seat coaching opportunities to help you navigate past hurdles and stuck spots
  • Community support and accountability, with access to Pilar and a merry band of fellow Healthy Deviants for non-stop encouragement (and gentle-tough love when needed)
  • Regular infusions of Healthy Deviant wisdom, multimedia content, and tools designed to keep you inspired and moving ever-forward
  • The four phases of the year-long HDU program focus on helping you establish the three Nonconformist Competencies of Healthy Deviance and then step confidently into your own Healthy Deviant identity

Make yourself a Healthy Deviant mocktail:

  • Fill your favorite cocktail glass half full with ice
  • Add your preferred kombucha up to the top of the ice
  • Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of juice — whatever 100% pure, preferably organic fruit or berry juice you like (consider apricot or mango nectar)
  • Top off the glass with sparkling water, ideally something with a simple flavor like lemon, lime, tangerine — or plain
  • Gently stir
  • Add a twist of lemon peel, squeeze of lime, or some other fun garnish, taking a moment to run the citrus peel around the rim of the glass
  • If you want to get fancy, add flowers or umbrellas, or whatever makes you feel celebratory

Smell the drink as you take your first sip, and enjoy!

Resources

If you like this podcast, you will love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Rewilding With Daniel Vitalis

This week Pilar interviews a special guest, hunter-gatherer and rewilding enthusiast Daniel Vitalis. Daniel is a well-recognized advocate for what’s known as rewilding, a term that he points out means very different things to different people.

To Daniel, and also to Pilar, it means reclaiming and reconnecting with aspects of our own wild-creature origins, and for getting into a closer, more intimate connection with our natural world.

Daniel visited Pilar’s family farm in Wisconsin in summer 2019 to film an episode for his forthcoming TV series, called “WildFed.” In the process, he collaborated with Pilar’s partner, Forager Chef Alan Bergo, to put on an amazing dinner of pigeon and wild-harvested plants.

But Daniel wasn’t always the hunter-gatherer type. In fact, for a long time he was a hard-core raw food vegan — a way of life he has happily left behind.

So here, we talk about the evolution of Daniel’s viewpoints, including some of the mistakes he says have taught him a lot of what he knows today. Along the way, we offer up some reflections on the history of humans, both ancient and modern.

And as always we leave you with some experiments to help you re-connect with nature and your own natural self, right here and now.

“Rewilding With Daniel Vitalis” Episode Highlights

  • Daniel’s passion for wildness and human history, and his own evolutionary path
  • Integrating a back-to-the-wild lifestyle into our technology- and achievement-driven culture
  • The importance of finding a balance between success, resilience and happiness
  • Daniel’s views of the essence of rewilding, which includes learning and using specific nature-based skills while also embracing modern conveniences
  • The importance of accepting the fact that our viewpoints and messages will evolve as our experiences change us — and it’s helpful to accept this evolution from others (including “influencers”), too.
  • Why Daniel was initially drawn to veganism, and what later convinced him that the lifestyle wasn’t for him
  • The WildFed team’s ethos of Made of Place: Making the building blocks of the body — water, carbon, minerals — of the place where the body is living
  • How connections to the natural world create a resilience to fragility

Daniel’s Experiment of the Week

Choose one species of any kingdom — plant, animal, fungi, bacteria, algae — that you could use for food or medicine. It could be as simple as a dandelion in your yard or as complex as a musk ox in northern Canada. Read about it, learn about it, find out what time of year its medicinal or nutritional properties are at their peak. When you’re ready, go out and harvest (or just meet) it. Notice how comforting it is that you have a friend in that landscape.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Choose one or both of these options:

1) Borrowing an exercise from naturalist and tracker Tom Brown, Jr.: Mark out a 1 foot by 1 foot area in the soil or grass and get down to that level. For 15 minutes, comb through the dirt or grass with your fingers and look closely at what’s there. Notice everything, and how pleasurable it can be to touch the natural world.

2) Find a place outside where you can sit quietly without distractions for 30 minutes. Observe the wind in the trees, the birds that fly over or are perched nearby, all of the sounds and sights and smells. Notice how long it takes for the landscape around you to become even richer — do animals start moving closer? Has your breathing changed? Has your connection to nature shifted?

Resources

Looking for ongoing support for healthier, happier daily choices?

Check out Pilar’s “Healthy Deviant U” experience.

Learn more about Healthy Deviant U.

If you like this podcast, you will love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Book cover: The Four Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig
The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Moving Forward

This week, we’re talking about Moving Forward in this unusual time in history.

Thanks to COVID-19, we’re still recording from a distance. Since we were last in the studio though, and even since the last time we did one of our COVID-edition Facebook Live episodes, so much has happened.

We’ve seen new waves of conflict around the pandemic, as well as the murder of George Floyd and the historic calls for social and racial justice via the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meanwhile, we’ve been witnessing divisions widening, not just within our country, but within our circles of family and friends.

So here, we talk about how we’ve been coping with the present moment, and also about how we are moving forward, from managing our media choices and navigating difficult conversations to finding our own points of view in what can seem like a very disorienting world.

Finally, we leave you with some experiments that encourage you to explore your own capacity for making sense of what’s happening now, and for building discernment into your own next steps.

AND we offer hearty thanks to this season’s sponsor: Brian Johnson’s Optimize by Heroic.

“Moving Forward” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas and Pilar talk about what they’ve been doing (or not doing) and how they’ve been coping during the pandemic and this time of social and racial unrest
  • Controlling the flow of potentially distressing information rather than letting it chase you down
  • Understanding the reactivity triggered by difficult conversations — the DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim-Offender) phenomenon and the Karpman Drama Triangle
  • Victim-hood as a reaction to shame, trauma and fear of loss
  • How to talk to someone who disagrees with you: Create a safe, defined, private space and don’t get attached to specific outcomes
  • Overcoming our personal and societal resistance to being told what to do, even in the interest of the greater good (mask mandates, for example)
  • Stoic philosophy and the dichotomy of control: Understanding what you can’t control (the pandemic), and what you can (your responses to it, how you show up and manage yourself under strain)
  • Interpreting prevailing scientific data and topical expertise with precautionary practicality — while still maintaining a healthy skepticism of the large institutions behind it
  • Opting out of the reactivity feedback loop: Not getting sucked into violent, inflammatory mindsets may be the most important thing we can do to heal ourselves and our communities
  • The benefits of slowing down and sitting with discomfort so we can learn from it
  • Addressing the rise of tribalism, and rekindling the hope of diverse people uniting to overcome our biggest problems

Go back to someone you had an uncomfortable conversation with, or someone who said something you found shocking. Start with your own vulnerability — tell them that you were triggered and how you reacted (by withdrawing, getting defensive or angry, etc.). Then invite them to tell you how they felt in that moment of conflict. Sometimes the charge of an exchange can obscure the real meaning and flood (rather than support) the space of the relationship.

Listen to our “Trauma” episode with Resmaa Menakem, paying particular attention to his description of how our bodies respond physiologically to being triggered. If you can begin to recognize the initial signals that you’re moving into fight or flight, you may be better able to control your reaction.

If you want to conduct a controlled experiment on your trigger responses, seek out a social media feed or news channel that expresses opinions you don’t agree with. Notice how long it takes before you recognize unwelcome feelings — heat, flutters, anger, narrowing peripheral vision, a desire to hit something or someone. Bring yourself back down and consider what it was that caused your reactions.

If you don’t want to create a stress reaction as an experiment, just take a moment to breathe, rest, relax and do something you enjoy. Consider listening to our “Coping” episode.

Resources

Break the rules, or break yourself.

Pilar Gerasimo

Looking for ongoing support for healthier, happier daily choices?

Check out Pilar’s “Healthy Deviant U” experience.

Learn more about Healthy Deviant U.

If you like this podcast, you will love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

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Book cover: The Four Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig
The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

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Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Sponsor Love and FREEBIES!

Thanks to our sponsor, Optimize by Heroic, for supporting this season of The Living Experiment. Now you can get Optimize membership (formerly $250) for FREE just by signing up here. And consider becoming a Founding Member of the Heroic social training platform, with a goal of creating a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by 2051 — starting with YOU!

Optimize with Brian Johnson

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

Special Guest: Dr. Terry Wahls

This week our guest is Terry Wahls, MD, a physician and scientific researcher best known for her groundbreaking work reversing autoimmune diseases — including her own disabling case of multiple sclerosis, which for a time had her confined to a tilt-recline wheelchair with very little hope of recovery.

But recover she did, and what produced her recovery was an experimental, systems-based approach that Dr. Wahls developed for herself.

It combined a specialized paleo-inspired nutrition program with other functional medicine and lifestyle interventions — all aimed at healing her brain and nervous system, nourishing her mitochondria and rebuilding her physical resilience.   

Today that approach is known as the Wahls Protocol, and it’s being used to reverse a wide variety of autoimmune diseases, as well as a number of other supposedly incurable chronic health conditions. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Wahls’ research and clinical success is gaining worldwide respect and excitement — even from those who once considered her work heretical.  

Here, Pilar talks with Dr. Wahls about the early life experiences that prepared her to deviate from conventional medical practice, even when that deviation invited criticism, ridicule and rebuke.  

We explore how Dr. Wahls’ personal healing journey and her professional accomplishments reflect the stages of what Pilar calls the Healthy Deviant Hero’s Journey.  

We look at how our view of human health has been shaped by unhealthy systems and assumptions — and why no amount of “healthcare reform” can hope to fix our national health crisis until we relearn how health is created — and degraded — in the first place.  That includes a clearer understanding of evolutionary mismatch, and a re-embracing of the time-tested life patterns essential to human vitality. 

Dr. Wahls shares some exciting news about the release of an updated and revised edition of her now-classic book, The Wahls Protocol, and about the unprecedented research she is embarking on with the help of mission-driven philanthropic support.  

Finally, we leave you with some experiments to help you integrate a little of Dr. Wahls’ revolutionary healing wisdom into your own life.

“Autoimmunity with Dr. Terry Wahls” Episode Highlights

  • Dr. Wahls’ journey from MS diagnosis and continued decline to her discovery of the dietary and lifestyle interventions that resulted in a dramatic transformation and eventual remission of her illness
  • The physical, chemical and emotional triggers that may have contributed to the onset of her disease
  • Why her attempts to share her protocol were initially met with skepticism and scorn by other professionals and organizations
  • The outpouring of grassroots acceptance and gratitude she received from people whose lives were transformed by her work
  • The growing receptiveness of “mainstream” professional communities to the importance of diet and lifestyle interventions
  • Why our declining health as a nation — and the rise of infectious diseases like COVID-19 — mirrors the deterioration of our food, water and eco-systems as well as our social fabric
  • The encouraging trend of more experts promoting and practicing health creation and more people demanding alternative disease treatments — this, not the government, will transform our healthcare system
  • The importance of evolutionary biology in developing modern disease interventions
  • How to influence the health of the people you care about — be an example of a healthy person

Dr. Wahls’ Experiment of the Week

If you eat sugar- and grain-based foods, swap those out with more vegetables and protein — gluten-free grains and legumes if you’re a vegetarian, meat if you’re not. Eat as many vegetables and proteins as you need to not feel hungry. Try this for a month and notice how you feel.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Try one or both of these experiments:

Read Dr. Wahls’ book, The Wahls Protocol even if you don’t have a chronic disease. Notice how it shifts your perception of conventional disease treatments and the power you have to heal your own body.

Try the SUPER-simple boiled cabbage dish that Pilar’s partner, Forager Chef Alan Bergo put together as a go-to side.

Resources

Have You Read Pilar’s and Dallas’s New Books?

You’ve heard us talking about them for years. Wouldn’t you like to read them? Both are on shelves now and getting rave reviews!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Special Guest: Dr. Frank Lipman

This week our guest is Dr. Frank Lipman, one of the world’s leading integrative physicians, a thought leader and innovator in the realm of disease reversal, and the author of a bunch of books, including his most recent, How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life.

Frank Lipman, MD, is best known for helping high-profile celebrity clients — like Gwyneth Paltrow — reverse stubborn and mysterious health problems. But his real passion is educating regular people about what they can do to intervene in their own health conditions, and helping them upgrade their day-to-day self-care so that they can lead healthier, happier, more balanced lives.

Pilar first encountered Dr. Lipman when she was editing Experience Life magazine, and he became one of their favorite expert resources. He’s also a regular contributor at Goop and a variety of other leading health media sites. Plus, he hosts his own podcast, Tune into Wellness.

A practitioner of functional medicine and eastern healing methodologies, Frank seamlessly blends both into what he calls “good medicine” at his beautiful clinic, Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, which is where Pilar interviewed him for this episode in Fall of 2019.

Here, we talk about the nature of health transformation. We explore what’s required for recovery from complex chronic conditions. And of course, we offer you some experiments to help you upgrade your own body-mind health in ways that work for you.

“Health Transformation with Dr. Frank Lipman” Episode Highlights

  • The art of inspiring people to make changes that transform their health
  • The importance of being in agreement with the body’s natural cycles and rhythms, starting with getting enough sleep
  • The benefits and potential downsides of using biometric devices to monitor our biomarkers and daily patterns
  • How we’ve adapted our rhythms to society, to the detriment of our health and happiness
  • The encouraging trend toward challenging conventional, symptom-suppressing medical approaches to chronic diseases and embracing whole-person, root-cause approaches instead
  • Dr. Lipman’s experience as the Chief Medical Officer of THE WELL wellness club in New York City
  • The focus on patient longevity at Dr. Lipman’s clinic, especially with older patients
  • The difficulties and successes in treating autoimmune diseases
  • The rapid mainstreaming of functional and personalized medicine and other body-mind approaches to health

Dr. Lipman’s Experiment of the Week

Try one or all of these experiments:

Experiment with not eating anything between your evening meal and around noon the next day, ideally a span of 14-16 hours between meals. Do this one day for the first week and two days the next week. Notice if morning hunger goes away and the amount of food you need to feel satisfied when you do eat decreases. Do you feel mentally sharper and clearer? Does the intermittent fasting get easier every time you do it?

For two weeks, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Notice your activity levels. Do high-intensity activities become easier?

For three weeks, meditate for 15-20 minutes every morning after you wake up. Notice if you become less reactive to external factors.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

In reflecting on Dr. Lipman’s experiments, notice if you’re more able to manage a routine in the evening or in the morning and start there. Also, turn off all media and devices at least an hour before you go to bed, and try to get some natural outside light (without sunglasses) first thing in the morning.

Resources

Have You Read Pilar’s and Dallas’s New Books?

You’ve heard us talking about them for years. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER
ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Special Guest: Dr. Jeff Bland

This week we have an extraordinary guest, functional medicine pioneer Dr. Jeffrey Bland. Jeff Bland, PhD, is something of an international legend in functional medicine circles. He is a preeminent scientist dedicated to systems thinking, and a thought leader intent on transforming health care as we know it.

Dr. Bland is a former biochemistry professor who once served as director of nutritional research at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. He worked directly with Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate, and considers him a mentor.

Dr. Bland is also the principal author of more than 120 peer-reviewed research papers on nutritional biochemistry and medicine. So, Jeff is a serious scientist, but he’s also a profoundly caring human being, once who’s concerned about the health of real people and the fate of medical practitioners.

That’s just part of what led him to help create the Institute for Functional Medicine, and more recently the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute. It’s also what led him to write six books for the lay public, including his latest (and one of Pilar’s personal favorites) — The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life.

Bland’s latest venture is Big Bold Health, and we talk about that project, among others, as we cover everything from new thinking about genomics and personalized medicine to chronic disease reversal and the importance of taking charge of your own health.

We wrap up with some experiments to help you begin more boldly owning your own health in ways that work for you.

By the way, if you want to watch the video of this interview, it’s available at Pilar’s YouTube channel. And if you want to see Dr. Bland interview Pilar for his Big Bold Health podcast, both videos are linked in the show notes below.

“Functional Medicine with Dr. Jeff Bland” Episode Highlights

  • How the Institute for Functional Medicine, the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute and Big Bold Health evolved in relation to one another
  • The three tiers of the projects: Practitioner education, being on the leading edge of new information and technology, and consumer-driven action
  • The conventional model of disease diagnosis and treatment, and why it doesn’t work for autoimmune and other non-communicable chronic diseases
  • Why economics rather than results is driving our disease-care system
  • Dr. Bland’s argument against using the terms “good” and “bad” for genes that cause disease states
  • Creating a new healthcare system built around individual function (physical, physiological/metabolic, cognitive and behavioral/psychological) rather than the presence or absence of disease
  • The dismal failure of the top 20 most prescribed drugs in America to actually create a positive health effect (60% effective at best)
  • Our societal awakening to the interconnectedness of all systems that contribute to our health and wellbeing, in large part due to the wealth of information we can now access

Dr. Bland’s Experiment of the Week

(Note: This episode was recorded before the COVID-19 outbreak. Please wait to perform this experiment until after stay-at-home orders are lifted, or try it during an online gathering!)

The next time you’re in a large group of people of different ethnicities, genders and ages, be a conscious listener for 10-15 minutes. Don’t try to listen for any particular information, just take in all that you can and get totally absorbed in the environment around you. Listen to every piecemeal conversation and observe body language. Notice how people meet, greet, move, think and communicate. Doing this experiment frequently can help you reset and reconnect to the much larger picture you are a part of.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Read Dr. Bland’s most recent book, The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life. Or

Educate yourself on functional medicine by checking out one of the articles in Experience Life magazine, listed below in Resources. Or

If you suffer from a chronic disease, or know someone who does, search online for the name of the disease and include the words “reversal” and “functional medicine” (in quotes) in your search. Notice: Do the results expand your thinking, help you understand the role you might be able to play in your own healing, and give you a sense of expanded options about where you might be able to seek support in improving your health?

Resources

Have You Read Our Books?

You’ve heard us talking about them for years. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

The 4 Season Solution

This week we’re talking about Dallas’s new book, The 4 Season Solution, which is now available in bookstores everywhere!  

In addition to recapping the central themes of Dallas’s book, and hearing about the excited response it has gotten from early readers, we talk about the relevance of the book’s themes to the challenges so many of us are facing now.  

We explore the overall importance of seasonal living in relation to good health. And we also consider how incorporating season-appropriate adjustments can relieve stress and even support the reversal of chronic conditions and diseases — by lowering inflammation, re-regulating our biochemistry, and improving the resilience of our body-mind’s integrated systems. 

As always, we wrap up with some experiments to help you integrate more season-driven wisdom into your own life.

“The 4 Season Solution” Episode Highlights

  • The scope of The 4 Season Solution: What you eat, what your dark/light cycle is like, how you move and how you connect
  • How we got stuck and where we went wrong (Part 1 of the book), and how we get unstuck (Part 2)
  • Listening to your inner expert: If something that is supposedly good for you doesn’t feel right in your body, it’s not good for you
  • How each of the seasons has a symbolic theme that can be represented by neurotransmitters and hormones, and our year-round cultural focus on the high productivity of summer
  • Why we fight nature’s cycles at our own peril, and why honoring each season’s unique patterns is an essential part of the solution
  • How we’ve become more binary in our thinking and prone to tunnel vision as we’ve become more stressed as a society
  • Integrating seasonal health into the functional/integrative medicine model
  • “Anchors”: The most critical, impactful things anyone can do, regardless of resources or circumstances
  • How people are responding to The 4 Season Solution and living it themselves

Right now (or tomorrow morning, first thing), walk outside, take a deep breath and smell the air. Notice the feel of the air on your skin and the quality of the light or dark. Notice the sounds. What are the qualities of this moment and how are they broadcasting the season to you? How does your body feel in response to the stimulus? What messages is nature sending you? See if noticing these seasonal inputs inspires you to change some aspect of your daily choices, attitudes or behaviors.

Do something to release yourself from our society’s chronic and stressful “summer” energy. If you don’t have a meditative practice, start a tiny one — even two to five minutes can bring you more into the present moment. During the meditation think about what you have in your life and see if you can notice what you’re grateful for. Gratitude can spark spontaneous generosity, and generosity can help heal the world.

Resources

  • The “We’re Back” episode of The Living Experiment, in which Dallas and Pilar both offer updates on their books, and Dallas presents a detailed overview of his book’s key messages
  • Episodes that delve deeper into Dallas’s seasonal model of health: “Seasons”, “Winter”, “Spring”, “Summer” and “Autumn”
  • Want to come on a retreat with Dallas and Pilar? Tell us so we can hook you up! Click here or on the “Retreat” button in the nav bar to give us your contact info and tell us which locations and seasons appeal to you most!

Order Our Books!

You’ve heard us talking about them for years. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Chronic Disease Reversal

This week we’re talking about chronic disease reversal. Over the past decade there’s been an emerging clinical awareness, with increasing research support, that many diseases we’ve been told are progressive and incurable can in fact often be turned around — or at least significantly ameliorated — through systems-based functional and lifestyle medicine strategies.

So here, Dallas and Pilar explore the approaches that are proving most successful in interrupting the chronic inflammatory processes involved in most chronic conditions. We highlight the exciting progress being made by leading practitioners who are disrupting the status quo and moving beyond conventional disease management strategies to address the real root causes of chronic ailments that affect millions.

We explore the power of elimination diets and other lifestyle medicine interventions to help identify and remove common disease triggers, and we consider the importance of supporting the body’s own healing mechanisms.

We explain why chronic disease reversal can no longer be the exclusive domain of doctors, and why it must instead involve us and our daily choices.

Finally, we offer you some experiments in re-framing what we’ve been encouraged to think of as incurable health ailments, and we invite you to re-imagine how a whole bunch of us might begin healing ourselves in ways the conventional medical system might not yet think is possible.

This episode also marks the beginning of a series of guest episodes with leading physicians and thinkers who are raising awareness of how numerous chronic diseases can be reversed, while helping regular people recover from ailments they were told they would suffer from for a lifetime.

“Chronic Disease Reversal” Episode Highlights

  • The healing power of food and short-term interventions as evidenced by the Whole30 program (which was not designed to be a chronic disease reversal program)
  • “Content as therapeutic” (a line borrowed from our functional-medicine colleague Tom Blue): How healing can start with simple self-education and awareness
  • Lifestyle interventions that have proven effective in resolving chronic conditions: Elimination diets, intermittent fasting, gut healing and microbiome rebalancing protocols, basic nutrition supplementation, augmented rest and recovery, moderate exercise/interval training, mindfulness stress management and resilience training, resetting daily rhythms
  • Why many medical provider-assisted interventions are unavailable to most people
  • The often dis-empowering and discouraging approaches taken by many conventional medical-advice websites
  • The difference between evidence-based, data-driven medicine and real-life personal interventions
  • Books by leading physicians that outline chronic disease reversal interventions you can begin embracing — at least in part — on your own (see Resources below for links)
  • Dr. Mark Hyman’s observation: 80% of his patients get 80% better using a nutrient-dense elimination diet alone
  • The fundamental concept: Allowing your body to heal itself after removing offending/irritating agents and supplying necessary support
  • Dr. Alessio Fasano’s three common drivers for all autoimmune diseases: Genetic pre-disposition to a particular disease, leaky gut (intestinal permeability), and a stressful trigger
  • The importance of dealing with trauma of any kind (including inter-generational) while addressing a chronic illness
  • Why you don’t necessarily have to understand all the science in order for many of these interventions to work for you (although understanding how your body works is often highly motivating)

If you haven’t already done it, do the Whole30 program. There are free resources on the website or you can buy the book for an all-in-one handbook. Changing your eating is often the single most important thing you can do to start reversing your chronic disease.

Look in the Resources below and read an article or book that speaks to you.

List the number of people you know (including yourself) who have chronic diseases — psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, etc. Or check out the “Weird Symptom Checklist” in Pilar’s book, The Healthy Deviant, to reflect on the ways your body may be indicating its displeasure with the way you are currently living.

Resources

Order Our Books!

You’ve heard us talking about them for years now. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4-Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Biometric Devices

This week we’re talking about biometric devices — the appeal those fascinating little gadgets hold and the distractions they can present.  

From Fitbits and Apple Watches to Muse Headbands and Oura Rings, we evaluate the ways knowing more about our own biomarkers and daily patterns can help us become better stewards of our bodies and minds. We also explore how increasing use and dependence on these devices is affecting us all, and how their trending adoption is influencing our culture. 

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you become more conscious of the signals your body is sending you all of the time — and whether you are more likely to benefit from embracing a new biometric device, or just becoming a better tracker of your own body’s readings.

“Biometric Devices” Episode Highlights

  • What we mean by biometric technology — heart rate and fitness monitors, sleep trackers, glucose scanners, but also fingerprint readers, facial recognition, etc.
  • Pilar’s and Dallas’s personal history with health-related biometric devices
  • The benefits of being able to see in real-time — and believe — what’s happening in the body
  • The diminishing returns most of us experience over time from devices as we become more familiar with the correlation of objective metrics and our own subjective sensations
  • How biometric devices may interfere with or impair our ability to develop crucial self perceptions
  • Pilar’s experience with the Oura Ring, and the surprising range of data this device can track and report on (note: this is not a paid advertisement or testimonial — just Pilar’s two cents)
  • Challenging the idea that more consumer technology is the solution to our health problems
  • How data from biometric devices can be beneficial, and when it can be detrimental

Try this low tech self-monitoring technique: While at rest, find your pulse on your neck or wrist, count your heartbeats for 30 seconds and write down the number. Next, get your heart rate up by moving quickly for 30 seconds. Stop, immediately count your heartbeats again for 30 seconds and write the number down next to your resting heart rate. Notice the difference between the two numbers, witnessing how quickly your body responds to vigorous exercise, and how your body feels. Are you warmer? What is your energy level? Are you judging yourself for tiring or getting winded? Note that all of this information offers insight into how your body-mind is functioning today, and it can be had for free.

If you have a biometric device you rarely or never use, reflect on whether you have a desire to know more about your body and what you want to know. Does your device do what you want it to do? If it doesn’t, or if you don’t yet have a biometric device but want (and can afford) one, go ahead and try one out — just don’t count on it changing your life.

When you have a moment to pause, maybe upon waking or right before bed, take note of your general sense of well-being. How do you feel? What is your energy level, your mood? Do you feel better than yesterday or last week? Are you trending in a positive direction, and are the choices you’re making working for you? Regularly checking in with your body can help you develop more nuanced self awareness without needing data or scores to back it up. If a biometric device helps you develop this self awareness, use it.

Resources

Order Our Books!

You’ve heard us talking about them for years now. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4-Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Trauma with Dr. James Gordon

This week, we’re talking, once again, about trauma — this time with internationally renowned trauma expert Dr. James Gordon.  

A couple of episodes back, in “Trauma with Resmaa Menakem”, Pilar talked with another trauma expert about how familial, ancestral and racialized traumas take hold in us from generation to generation, and what it takes to process and release those traumas in conscious ways. 

Here, Pilar talks with Dr. Gordon about his new book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma (see linked resources below), about how we tend to get stuck in traumatic experiences of all sorts — and how we can get ourselves out.  

Dr. Gordon is a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, the founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and a clinical professor at Georgetown Medical School. Here, he explains the importance of healing trauma’s psychological and biological wounds — and how we can do that in ways that leave us stronger and more resilient, rather than broken and bereft.  

We talk about the strategies he’s seen work in war-torn countries, in violence-ravaged homes, and in addressing the more common sorts of traumatic experiences virtually all of us encounter in our daily lives.  

We leave you with experiments to help you better manage your own moments of stress and trauma, including the ones you might not even realize you are still carrying around.

“Trauma with Dr. James Gordon” Episode Highlights

  • Dr. Gordon’s background in trauma healing at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, which he founded almost 30 years ago
  • His body of work, including his latest book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma
  • Pilar’s observation that trauma-awareness is currently having a long-overdue “moment,” and a discussion of why we’re now reawakening to the damage being done to us and by us
  • The reality that everyone experiences trauma of some kind during their lifetime — loss, injury, illness, poverty, abuse, neglect, shame — and we all need to understand how humans naturally respond to it
  • The importance of dealing with old traumas before they accumulate and precipitate new ones
  • Antidotes to trauma-induced stress: Understanding that you will be visited by trauma eventually; knowing that it is possible to recover and become more resilient; finding ways to quiet the agitation and resolve anxiety after a traumatic event
  • Physiological reactions created during “fight or flight” and the “freeze response,” and strategies for completion, calming, and release
  • How to identify unresolved traumas that want (or need) to be addressed
  • Why processing trauma creatively and somatically, rather than just intellectually, may be more helpful and expedient
  • The 80% success rate of Gordon’s “Transformation” approach as described in the book, and its applicability to everyone
  • The universal capacity of humans to heal themselves when provided with the right tools

Dr. Gordon’s Experiment of the Week

Try this soft-belly breathing exercise. (Soft-belly breathing is a foundational trauma-healing technique that helps 80% of people who try it.)

Find a comfortable resting position and close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your belly soft and relaxed. Say to yourself “soft” as you inhale and “belly” as you exhale. Feel a little more relaxation with each exhalation, knowing that as you do this more air is getting to the bottom of your lungs and feeding all the cells in your body with oxygen.

As you calm and quiet your body, you’ll also be calming your brain. You’ll be activating the vagus nerve, which is the antidote to the “fight or flight” response. Feel your heart rate slow and your blood pressure go down. Feel all your muscles release a little more with each breath. If thoughts come let them, then let them go, bringing your mind gently back to “soft belly.”

If you don’t have luck with this exercise the first time, try again. If you’re too antsy to relax, get up and move around to release the tension and then try again. If you’re not comfortable sitting, try lying down.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Read Dr. Gordon’s book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma.

Bonus points: Listen to the “Trauma 1” episode of The Living Experiment to gather more wisdom on cultural, ancestral, and racialized trauma.

Resources

Order Our Books!

You’ve heard us talking about them for years now. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4-Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Love

This week we’re talking about Love — the romance, the heartbreak, the profound sense of connection that most of us are after. Both our desire for love and our struggles to navigate it are some of the biggest opportunities we have for growth, and for stress, both of which can have huge impacts on our health and happiness.

So in this episode, we talk about how our childhood experiences help form our adult romantic patterns, about the dramas of first love, and about what both of us have learned as we’ve moved through the ups and downs of romantic attachments.

As always, we leave you with some experiments to help you explore how you’d like to show up for love, and love more skillfully, in your own life. 

“Love” Episode Highlights

  • Why the quality of your life depends on (and reflects) the quality of your love
  • How childhood experiences and young love inform how we navigate being in, and moving out of, adult romantic relationships
  • The confusion between love and codependency
  • Attachment theory: Why we’re attracted to people with whom we are inclined to to re-live traumatic experiences
  • Starting with understanding, accepting and loving yourself
  • The Gottman Institute’s “Four Horsemen” — four communication dynamics that forecast a dying relationship: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling
  • How intimate partnerships force us to become stronger, more resilient individuals
  • The fallacy of a “soul mate” who can meet all of your needs

Reflect on your definition of love, and what you want it to look like.

Think about the complaints you have about your current partner (or a past partner if you’re not currently in a relationship), and see if you can find the ways that you did the same things you find your partner guilty of. Notice if that awareness opens up space for more love for yourself and your significant other.

If you don’t currently have a partner but have had previous relationships, reflect on what was at stake and what went wrong. Can you pick out a pattern in your breakups? Why did you choose the partners you did, and how did you show up when things were at their worst? Consider: Are you willing to do it differently the next time? Envision yourself engaged in an argument or difficult situation with a partner, and coming out the other side with a better understanding of yourself and that person, and a stronger relationship rather than a dying one.

Resources

Order Our Books!

You’ve heard us talking about them for years now. Wouldn’t you like to among the very first to read them? Both are on shelves now!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! And leave a review at Apple Podcasts or wherever you subscribe. Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Trauma with Resmaa Menakem

This week Pilar interviews a special guest, clinical therapist and author Resmaa Menakem. We’re talking about trauma, the effect it has on us as individuals, and also the impact it has on us in groups and as members of society.

Resmaa’s most recent book, My Grandmother’s Hands (see linked resources below), explores themes of ancestral and racialized trauma, topics informed by his personal and familial experiences, as well as his professional clinical expertise. Resmaa’s insights are also informed by a broad array of cross-cultural explorations, including two tours in Afghanistan as a military contractor.

Resmaa’s teachings are relevant to anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma, which, as he points out, is all of us. So here, we talk about the lasting impacts trauma leaves on our bodies, hearts and minds, as well as our families, communities and societies.

We also talk about what it takes to heal trauma’s current wounds, as well as its legacies of pain and depression, and we leave you with some experiments to help you better recognize and resolve the sources of trauma in your own life.

“Trauma with Resmaa Menakem” Episode Highlights

  • Resmaa’s background as a healer, therapist, cultural trauma navigator, and coach — and the meaning of his name
  • A discussion of his latest book, My Grandmother’s Hands, and the woman who inspired it
  • The five brutalities that have defined America from 1492 to the present day (colonialism, enslavement, genocide, imperialism and land theft), and how they became the seeds upon which our entire culture is built
  • Looking closely at white body supremacy in order to abolish it, and the importance of understanding that “it’s not the shark; it’s the water”
  • The effects of our shared history on everyone’s mental and physical health, even before conception
  • Resmaa’s HIPP theory of the origins of trauma: Historical, inter-generational, persistent institutional, personal
  • The six-fold weight of a trauma event on the body and the vagus nerve response
  • The importance of repetition, consistency and “doing the thing that sucks” in healing
  • The ways the body can get stuck in trauma, and simple strategies for moving it through
  • Why community is essential, and how it serves our resilience
  • Why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism?
  • Resmaa’s intended audience for his book, My Grandmother’s Hands — whom it is for and not for, and why

Resmaa’s Experiment of the Week

You can do this exercise sitting or standing, but if you are standing, put a little slack in your knees. Start by breathing naturally, and notice what is accepting the breath and what wants to push against it. What’s happening in the body? Then turn your neck to look behind you and notice without judgement if anything shifts. Does anything settle, drop or activate? Turn your neck to look over the other shoulder and notice again if anything shifts. Bring your neck back to neutral, and look for the room’s exits. Look up, then down, and straight ahead. Notice if the experience now is different than when you started. If any part of your body wants to move allow it to do so, using your hands to give it support. Notice the texture of that energy — is it about protection, or something else? Continue to breathe, and slow your breath. Slowly open your eyes, take a deep breath in and hold it for a pause, then let it go with a sigh. Repeat the deep breath two more times. Note that this practice may or may not have a dramatic impact the first time you complete it, but as it’s repeated, it can bring up all sorts of thoughts, feelings, and bodily reactions. Stay on the lookout for your system’s responses. 

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

As you listened to the podcast, did you note any resistance to anything you heard? Did you feel an unwillingness to embrace any of the ideas? A desire to argue with them or to find reasons that they do not apply to you? If so, listen again after you’ve had a chance to process the information, and read Resmaa’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands.

Resources

  • Resmaa Menakem’s books, including his latest, My Grandmother’s Hands, available signed by the author (standard copies also available via Amazon and other retailers)
  • More about Resmaa and his background as a healer and thought leader
  • Resmaa’s Chromatic Elephant podcast with fellow trauma expert Tyler Reitzner, in which they explore the context and impacts of racism and white-body supremacy — boldly inviting “the racialized elephant into the room” and sitting with both the discomfort and the transformative insights that elephant brings
  • The study on how depopulation in the Americas after the arrival of Europeans contributed to climate change
  • Resmaa’s free 5-day course on racialized trauma
  • Links to the sites and collected works of Rachel Cargle and Layla F. Saad (leading writers/teachers/podcasters referenced by Pilar)
  • Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and her other books about racial and social justice
  • Some reading on the vagus nerve, including the basics of what it is and how it works (via clinical psychologist Arielle Schwartz, PhD); some insights on why it is an important key to wellbeing (via New York magazine’s The Cut by Edith Zimmerman); and a medical description of its role in modulating the gut-brain axis via an article in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry)

Order Our Books!

You’ve heard us talking about them for years. Wouldn’t you like to read them? Both are on shelves now and getting rave reviews!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

Plus …

Sign up for The Living Experiment newsletter so you can stay up to date with us, and receive notifications when new episodes are released.

Subscribe to The Living Experiment on Apple Podcasts to have fresh episodes delivered to your podcast feed as soon as they’re released.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

We’re Back

This week we return from a nearly one-year recording hiatus with a report from the outer limits of book writing and creative life.

Dallas unpacks the contents of his forthcoming title, The 4 Season Solution. And Pilar reflects, with unexpected emotion, on both the final push to turn in her book, The Healthy Deviant AND one of her most intense years on record.

We both share some of the insights and appreciations that have come to us while we’ve been away, and of course, we offer you some experiments designed to help you take stock of your own comings and goings.

Oh, and by the way both our books are now on shelves, so you can order them from your local independent bookstore or favorite online retailers. Wooo hoooo! Please buy as many copies as you can for you and your health-motivated friends and family. We’re wildly grateful for your support!

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo.

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON
The 4 Season Solution: The Groundbreaking New Plan for Feeling Better, Living Well, and Powering Down Our Always-On Lives by Dallas Hartwig

ORDER FROM AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER

ORDER FROM AMAZON

“We’re Back” Episode Highlights

  • A heartfelt thank you for sticking with us!
  • Dallas shares the evolution of his next book, The 4 Season Solution, and the challenges he overcame to write and publish it
  • A summary of that book’s contents (food, circadian rhythms, body movement, social and self connection)
  • Balancing accessibility and reality: The challenge of writing a non-formulaic yet successful book
  • How our bodies interact with the environment via the light/dark cycle, and the other cycles that may have profound but not-yet-understood influence on us
  • The target audience for Dallas’s book: Real people who live real lives with real challenges and are motivated to face those trials in a healthy, integrated way
  • The approachability of both books: Breaking down the science and making sense of the nonsensical
  • Pilar’s journey over the past super-intense year, as she finished her book and also took a new job in New York City
  • Why being a New York Times bestselling author isn’t all that
  • The five parts of Pilar’s book:
    • “The Crazy that Passes for Normal” (how we got here)
    • “The Making of a Healthy Deviant” (Pilar’s story and yours)
    • “The Way of the Healthy Deviant” (specific competencies and rituals for living a healthier life)
    • “Your Healthy Deviant Adventurer (a 14-day program for developing your Healthy Deviant mojo)
    • “Taking it to the Streets” (changing the Unhealthy Default Reality through individual and collective action)
  • Why Pilar considers this book to be her opus, and the feeling that having completed it (often against naysaying and resistance) evokes for her
  • What to expect from Season 11 of The Living Experiment and how it will be both similar to and different from our previous seasons
  • Pilar’s upcoming series of Healthy Deviance workshops being offered as part of a weeklong retreat at Rancho La Puerta 
  • P.S. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this podcast to get previous episodes and get new content as soon as it becomes available

Think about a period of your life that was particularly difficult, stressful, sad, heartbreaking, etc. and identify the gift that came out of it. Was it a learning experience, a revelation about yourself or someone else (or the world)? A pay-it-forward opportunity? Recognize that you were able to bring beauty out of suffering, and let that beauty grow.

1) Reflect on something that you’ve let go of, consciously or unconsciously, that might be calling to come back into your life. It might be an abandoned hobby, a social circle, a self-care ritual, or a difficult project. Is there any part of your world that you’ve put away that deserves to be reconsidered or welcomed back?

2) Think about the period that The Living Experiment podcast has been on hiatus. How does it feel to have something you enjoyed (and perhaps even came to rely upon) suddenly be gone (even for a while)? Notice whether it made you clearer about your desires, needs, and values; if it made you recognize your appetite for knowledge or meaningful conversation; or if it just made you appreciate the podcast more. What are some other ways that you can honor the insights from this experience in other parts of your life? 

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Resources

Plus …

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! Every recommendation from you means a lot!

Break

This week we’re talking about taking a Break — the value of choosing to pause a project or commitment, and the factors you might consider in doing so.

We share the reasons — after 100 episodes, close to a million downloads, and 10 full seasons of live-and-in-person collaboration — we’re choosing to take a breather from our established recording schedule.

We reflect on both the demands and rewards that have come along with co-producing this weekly podcast over the past three years.

We also share a preview of the projects and priorities we’re both working on now, and what we’ll be producing over the next few weeks and months.

Finally, we share some experiments to help you reflect on your current use of time, energy, and resources — and why you might want to considering taking some well-deserved breaks in your own life.

“Break” Episode Highlights

  • Moving from a weekly format to a schedule that works for us as we are working on our respective books
  • What you might be hearing from us during the interim, and why you should remain subscribed to the podcast
  • Reflections on where the podcast fits into our lives, schedules, and career plans
  • What we’ve learned about the technical and logistical aspects of producing a podcast
  • The reasons we launched the podcast, and why we’re pausing it now
  • Encouragement to find helpful, shareable information in our previous 99 episodes, and via our personal sites and social feeds
  • Suggested resources and places to turn for continued insight and inspiration
  • Some ways to reconsider the commitments you’ve made and look for opportunities to take breaks in your own life
  • A reminder to stay in touch with us via our sites, mailing lists, and social channels: Visit www.pilargerasimo.com and www.dallashartwig.com
  • P.S. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this podcast to get previous episodes and get new content as soon as it becomes available

Challenge yourself to look at the way your life is operating currently, and focus on something that is recurring — a subscription, a weekly class or podcast, a regular TV series. Ask yourself if it still serves you in the way it did when you first started. If it doesn’t, let it go.

Make a list of your commitments and pick one or two that you could renegotiate. That might mean downsizing or opting out, finding someone else to help, swapping tasks, or finding some other creative way to temporarily or permanently take a break from what you’ve been doing.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

Get 14 days of access to the entire collection of Optimize wisdom for free — and check out their Optimize Coach program!

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Resources

PLUS …

Healthy Deviance 2

This week we’re talking about Healthy Deviance (again!), so we’re calling this episode Healthy Deviance 2.

First, we explore the evolution of Pilar’s notion of Healthy Deviance, reflecting on how it has taken ahold and become part of a larger conversation about how to be a healthy, happy person in an often unhealthy, unhappy world.

Next, after Dallas dashes off to catch his flight, Pilar breaks down some of the key concepts of her book about Healthy Deviance, which is now on shelves. Yay!

Pilar describes the nature of what she calls the Nonconformist Competencies of Healthy Deviance, as well as the wide range of healthy-person skills you need to claim and sustain them for yourself.

Finally, Pilar offers you some experiments to help you evaluate whether or not you currently identify as a Healthy Deviant, and where you might be right now on the Healthy Deviant Hero’s Journey of your own life.

Want to go deeper and get ongoing support for your Healthy Deviant way of life? Check out Pilar’s Healthy Deviant U experience.

“Healthy Deviance 2” Episode Highlights

  • Part 1: The crazy that passes for normal, the unseen problem, and the renegade solution
  • Part 2: The Making of a Healthy Deviant and the stages of the Healthy Deviant Hero’s Journey
  • Part 3: The Way of the Healthy Deviant and the Nonconformist Competencies of Amplified Awareness, Preemptive Repair, and Continuous Growth and Learning (Pilar goes into detail later on these competencies)
  • Social media’s and technology’s influence on our lifestyles and health
  • Going beyond telling people “what to eat” and “what to do” by giving them tools to make their own healthy choices in any situation
  • Learning to relate and self-identify differently to the world around you
  • Pilar’s Renegade Rituals for building resilience to the Unhealthy Default Reality: Morning Minutes,  Ultradian Rhythm Breaks, and a Nighttime Wind-Down Ritual
  • Part 4: An overview of the two-week program that guides you through integrating the Renegade Rituals (plus other Healthy Deviant experiments) and reflecting on how your life is changing as a result
  • Part 5: Taking it to the Streets — how do you bring what you’ve learned to the larger world, and why does that matter? What could we accomplish as a society if the majority of us were healthy and happy?
  • Pilar offers a closer look at the Nonconformist Competencies and the logic behind them

Amplified Awareness:

  • The importance of noticing what is going on inside and around you
  • Observing how you are doing, when you suffer, struggle or get off course
  • Noticing how you’re feeling in body and mind, what triggers you to make good or not-so-good choices?
  • How much you depend on numbing agents or coping strategies (medications, distractions, alcohol, etc.) to get through your days?
  • What makes you feel inadequate, disempowered, or in need of fixing? What drives you to buy stuff?
  • The value of keeping a wish-list file of all the “improvements” you want to make and reviewing it monthly, looking deeper to see patterns in what truly inspires you, and then deciding what you really want to do about it

Preemptive Repair:

  • The importance of getting out ahead of the damage that is done to you — and that you do to yourself — simply by virtue of living in an unhealthy, pro-inflammatory society
  • The role of continuous, accumulated damage and delayed maintenance as a trigger for chronic disease and depression
  • Inflammation as the inevitable result of going along with the Unhealthy Default Reality, and why our so-called “healthcare” cannot solve the problem
  • The restorative effects of a healthy whole-food diet, plenty of water, taking breaks, daylight, good sleep, and a strong relationship with self; how these fundamentals function as pre-emptive repair strategies

Continuous Growth and Learning:

  • The role of a growth mindset as a foundation of Healthy Deviance
  • The necessity of building the “skills of the healthy person” over time
  • The stress brought on by our cultural confusion around healthy choices and trying to learn everything all at once (hint: you can’t)
  • Starting with the primary skills of basic self-nourishment and the Renegade Rituals
  • Coming to grips with the fact that you are the first generation of humans to be faced with these challenges
  • Accepting that you will never know everything, and that every day is a chance to learn something new
  • The real challenge and opportunity: Joyfully embracing the challenges of choosing to be a healthy person in an unhealthy world, and accepting the unusual position that puts you in

Choose one of the following (or do both for extra credit):

1) Take my “Are You a Healthy Deviant?” quiz to find out where you fall on the healthy deviant spectrum. Your quiz results will also give you suggestions for how to move forward on your path.

2) Reflect on where you are in your own Healthy Deviant hero’s journey. Are you stuck in Compliance with the Unhealthy Default Reality? Have you waded into the Descent of unhealthy choices, self-judgment, and worsening health outcomes?  Have you hit the Darkness that comes from seeing no way out and feeling helpless to change your circumstances? Are you in Divergence, experimenting with more progressive approaches and considering a better way forward? Are you in Rebellion — fed up with trying to adhere to unachievable ideals and following the “authoritative” (but ineffective) mainstream prescriptions of the unhealthy culture? Or have you moved into the more nuanced, non-reactive, energy-sparing, self-sustaining stage of Healthy Deviance? Where are you headed next?

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

Get 14 days of access to the entire collection of Optimize wisdom for free — and check out their Optimize Coach program!

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig the podcast, please share it! Every recommendation from you means a lot!

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Resources

PLUS …

Coping

This week we’re talking about Coping — the base level, essential things we do to get through our days, particularly when we’re under pressure and stress.

In a world that can lead us to feel helpless, reactive, and overburdened, it’s important to have strategies for calming our nervous system, for managing our internal and external resources, and for creating a stable sense of center.

So here, we talk about how we wade through the craziness of everyday life, and the fundamental skills we use to stay aware and resilient even in the face of depletion and reactivity.

We look at the physical, mental, and emotional dynamics of coping — from anti-inflammatory eating and sleeping to anti-insanity media habits. And, of course, we offer you some experiments to help you relate with more consciousness and self-compassion to the coping scenarios in your own life.

“Coping” Episode Highlights

  • The essence of coping — recognizing the things you can control and the things you can’t
  • Doing the things that are within your capacity in the service of yourself and everyone around you
  • The challenge of making good decisions and acting out of compassion while in a depleted state
  • Coping fundamentals:
    • Good food and nutrition
    • Consistent circadian rhythms and rest time in darkness
    • Meditation, or even three deep breaths when you notice you’re in reaction or off balance
    • Preemptive Repair (one of Pilar’s Non-Conformist Competencies of Healthy Deviance)
    • Decluttering and creating havens in your home and office
    • Time alone, without distractions
    • Body movement that feels good (vs. exhausting)
    • Limiting exposure to upsetting/disrupting/stress-inducing media
    • Connecting with a positive, supportive community
    • Laughter and fun
  • Self-perpetuating stress: How we rationalize compromising what we know to be healthy behaviors
  • Why emphasizing reconnection — to others, to nature, to nourishment, to self — is the best coping strategy of all

Choose one of the following:

1) During a moment of transition or waiting time during your day, rather than defaulting to your digital devices, look around for someone to be kind to. Make eye contact and say hello. If you’re driving, turn off all distractions and look for opportunities to let people into your lane or give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. Notice how you feel after these interactions.

2) Make a list of resiliency fundamentals and keep it with you. When you get to that time of day when you feel at your very last frayed nerve, note which practices you’ve been doing and which you haven’t. When did you last take a rest break, have a healthy meal, drink water, move your body, connect with anyone in a loving way, turn off media, step outside and look up at the sky? If you’re not doing the basics, breakdown (and loss of productivity) is inevitable.

When you feel stressed or overextended, spend 5-10 minutes re-connecting with yourself, others, nature, or your sense of purpose. How are you really feeling? Can you find an opportunity to be kind to a friend or stranger? Can you get outside for a walk? What are your life goals or spiritual practices? If you can’t find 5 minutes, it’s probably more important than ever that you carve them out.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

Get 14 days of access to the entire collection of Optimize wisdom for free — and check out their Optimize Coach program!

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PLUS …

Introvert Extrovert

This week we’re talking about Introverts and Extroverts — from the different ways these two distinct types show up in the world to the sometimes perplexing ways they can relate.

In the process we unpack our own introverted and extroverted tendencies, and we share expert insights on what both these types have to share with, and learn from, each other.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you expand your own awareness of introvert-extrovert dynamics and how they might be showing up in your own life.

“Introvert Extrovert” Episode Highlights

  • How western culture is designed for — and by — the success of extroverts
  • Significant differences between the types: How energy is recharged, sensitivity to stimuli, neurochemistry, enjoyment of or discomfort with silence
  • Expert tips for communicating with the other type
  • The importance of mirroring in communication — observing and adopting the patterns of the person you’re talking to
  • Pilar’s experience with typing herself as a college student vs. as a mature adult, and her introverted need to recharge in solitude or small groups
  • How extroverted Dallas gets energy — from talking things out and socializing
  • How to care for introverts and extroverts
  • The misunderstandings that the types have about each other, and the problems that can arise in introvert-extrovert relationships

Read the Fast Company article on introverts and extroverts. Look at the Quick Tips for Care list of the type you don’t self-identify with, and use two or three of those tips on a person you know is that type without telling them. Notice how it changes the quality of your interactions. Or go through the list in advance with the person and ask them which ideas they wish you’d use more often.

The next time you’re interacting with someone who is the opposite type, notice their energy, posture, gestures and level of interaction (or lack thereof) and try to mirror what they’re giving. Notice what happens for you and the other person.

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Resources

PLUS …

Motivation

This week we’re talking about Motivation — the force that gets us to do, accomplish, and change the things we want to. And the force that sometimes fizzles without our really understanding why.

So here, we talk about the nature and source of motivation, and the art of cultivating it in the service of our highest goals.

From the dynamics that cause us to procrastinate and avoid fulfilling ostensibly worthwhile commitments, to the science behind making change even when change is hard, we explore the realities of harnessing the willingness to do what must be done.

We also acknowledge the reality that an unlimited supply of superhuman willpower is often not the magic bullet that many motivational gurus might have you believe.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you tap into your own best sources of motivation, and to put them to work in ways that feel most rewarding to you.

“Motivation” Episode Highlights

  • The neurochemistry behind motivation and the role of dopamine
  • Dr. BJ Fogg’s behavior-change model relating motivation, ability, and a triggering prompt all converging at the right moment in time
  • The classes of motivation: extrinsic (external) vs. intrinsic (internal)
  • Pilar’s concept of catalysts and catastrophes as motivators
  • Dr. James O. Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model — the six key stages of readiness to change
  • Dallas’s intuitive, values-based approach to motivation
  • Pilar’s halting motivational ride in finishing her book proposal
  • The importance of Preemptive Repair — one of Pilar’s Non-Conformist Competencies of Healthy Deviance — in maintaining the motivation to reach goals
  • The conflict between our rational (“The Rider”) and emotional (“The Elephant”) minds as the largest obstacle to change, as described by Jonathan Haidt
  • Drs. Chip and Dan Heath’s “Switch” work about the art of making change when change is hard:
    • Directing the Rider’s planning and analysis skills, motivating the Elephant’s passion and sustained energy, and shaping the Path
    • Motivational tips: Finding the bright spots rather than the problems, shrinking the large goal into small steps, tweaking the environment to set yourself up for success, and rallying the herd to support you
    • Seeing beyond the obvious: What looks like resistance may be lack of clarity; what looks like laziness may be exhaustion; what looks like a people problem may be a situation problem
  • Challenging your assumptions about your own lack of motivation

Think about the thing you’ve been putting off or wanting to do, and what the first step in doing that thing would be. Do that first step today.

Think about the last thing you satisfactorily accomplished and break it down. Notice what it was about the goal that allowed you achieve it, and compare it to a goal you’re trying to achieve now. Consider for example:

  • Does it meet the same high standards of something you truly want to accomplish?
  • What were the steps you took in reaching that previous goal? Did you set out to do it all at once or was there a process you discovered over time? Were there multiple attempts? How can that apply to the thing you’re working on now?
  • What were the skills and strengths that you brought to that challenge? How did you use your intellect, physical strength, stamina, focus, relationships, resources? How can you leverage those same strengths towards your current goal?
  • Reflect on what it felt like to achieve the goal, and what the rewards have been. Were there unexpected benefits? Were the rewards part of the motivation? Think about how those results might help motivate you now.

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Resources

PLUS …

Meditation

This week we’re talking about Meditation — its near-countless benefits for body and mind, and also the real and perceived barriers that keep many from embracing it.

From the challenges of making space for a regular practice, to the frustration that can set in when we attempt to calm our chaotic minds, we talk about the block-and-tackle of meditation and the many forms it can take.

We also share our own experiences with meditative practices and the benefits we’ve found in exploring and expanding them over time.

Finally, we offer you a snack-size taste of a guided meditation and some experiments to help you discover the profound gifts you stand to gain from building more meditative practices into your own life.

“Meditation” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar’s recent commitment to a daily hour-long guided meditation, and Dallas’s conversion from skeptic to occasional meditator
  • Why only 8% of Americans meditate regularly despite the long list of upsides (and no downsides)
  • What motivates people to meditate — and how the impetus to continue might differ from that original motivation
  • The research into the minimum-effective dose for meditation (time needed to see benefits) — just 12 minutes a day, according to Dr. Amishi Jha
  • The stress relief available from even a few seconds of any practice that stills your mind
  • How meditation fits perfectly into Pilar’s first Non-Conformist Competency of Healthy Deviance: Amplified Awareness
  • Why a busy, constantly wandering mind is completely normal and NOT a good reason to think you “can’t meditate”
  • The wide range of mindfulness practices — pretty much anything that keeps you aware, in the present moment, and disinclined toward automatic or volatile reaction
  • Where meditation and contemplative practice fits into the healthy body-mind triad of nutrition, fitness and stress management strategies
  • How digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and skin problems can be mitigated or healed by meditation via the vagus nerve connection between the brain and gut
  • Tools for starting (or invigorating) a meditation practice
  • A VERY short introduction to guided meditation
  • Forms of meditation and their effects on different areas of the brain
  • Finding a mindfulness practice that works for you

Meditate for 10 minutes every morning for a week using an app like Headspace or Calm. Notice how the rest of your day changes and unfolds following your practice.

Try Tara Brach’s 16-minute “Quieting the Mind” guided meditation. Notice: What resistance comes up? Does anything or anyone get in your way?

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Resources

PLUS …

Enneagram

This week we’re talking about the Enneagram — a personal wisdom tool that has been transforming lives and relationships for thousands of years.

The Enneagram is generally thought of as a personality typing system, and it does sort people into 9 primary types, but it’s different from other personality typing systems in a variety of important ways.

The central aim of the Enneagram is to help people understand their own and others’ deepest motivations. It helps us develop and better leverage our central strengths while also helping us recognize and work around our most challenging and potentially self-destructive tendencies.

One thing both Dallas and Pilar like about the Enneagram is that it is an incredibly rich body of knowledge, one that you can use to keep learning about yourself and others for the rest of your life.

So in this episode, we share an overview of our experiences with the Enneagram, and how we’ve benefited from them.

We offer some very basic information about the nature and origins of the system, and how it helps people evolve toward their highest and healthiest potential.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you discover more about your own Enneagram Type and put its wisdom to work in your own life.

“Enneagram” Episode Highlights

  • The murky ancient origins of the Enneagram and its modern applications, from conflict-mediation corporate team-building
  • How the Enneagram differs from other personality typing systems, like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • The healthy-to-unhealthy spectrum of the Enneagram types
  • A quick rundown of the nine primary Enneagram types
    • #1: The Perfectionist, Reformer or Idealist (Pilar’s type)
    • #2: The Helper or Giver
    • #3: The Achiever or Performer
    • #4: The Individualist, Romantic or Artist
    • #5: The Investigator or Observer
    • #6: The Loyal Skeptic
    • #7: The Optimist, Enthusiast or Epicure
    • #8: The Leader, Protector or Challenger (Dallas’s type)
    • #9: The Peacemaker or Mediator
  • The benefits of noticing your type’s tendencies when under stress
  • Using your and others’ types to better understand how differently we all view the world, and to create more compassionate relationships
  • Taking a quiz or reading a description to discover your type: The pros and cons of each

1. Take the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) test from The Enneagram Institute, and then read about your type in their Type Description pages.

2. Bonus experiment: To better understand the dynamics between you and a loved one or co-worker, have them take the same Enneagram test and then read about how your types relate in the Type Description pages (you have to pay a membership fee to view this info). Does the description match how you experience each other? Without using the description to judge and point fingers, how can understanding your Enneagram types help you better understand past areas of friction or misunderstanding?

Check out The Enneagram Institute’s website. Read through the nine type descriptions and see if you can find one or more that resonates with you (see below to links to type pages). If you’re interested, consider reading more deeply, or even taking a course on the topic.

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Resources

PLUS …

Weight Loss

This week we’re talking about Weight Loss — the myths, the methods, and the massive struggle it represents for the majority of Americans today.

Starting with our own frustration with the muddled messages often broadcast on this topic, we strive to set the record straight.

From the madness of trying to control one’s weight through low-fat eating, calorie counting, and “portion control,” to the sensible strategies that work a whole lot better, we share what we know, and what we wish more people knew, about the keys to managing your weight in a healthier, happier way.

Pilar shares her Healthy Deviant approach to weight loss, and Dallas draws from his two New York Times bestsellers to help you rethink not just the way you’re eating, but also the way you are managing your thoughts, your energy, your daily patterns, and your biochemistry.

And of course, we offer you some experiments to help you recast your assumptions about weight, and weight loss, for the long haul.

“Weight Loss” Episode Highlights

  • Seeing excess weight as one symptom of our many intersecting physical, social, and cultural imbalances
  • Our societal tendency to focus on the superficial indicators that are right in our face rather than looking for root causes
  • Why junk and fast food is so hard to resist — the insidious practices of the processed food industry and their marketing machine
  • The role of stress in weight gain and chronic undernourishment
  • Finding a balance of being well-fed and well-nourished
  • Why giving in to food cravings is not a failure of willpower or moral fiber
  • Pilar’s Healthy Deviant perspectives on self regulation, ego depletion, and learned helplessness — factors that help explain our daily patterns of impulse and reactivity
  • Why heavily-marketed diet crazes, surgeries, and pharmaceuticals are not sustainable “magic bullet” solutions
  • Losing weight in the pursuit of a healthier, more authentic, pleasurable life (vs. to meet popular culture’s impossible attractiveness standards)
  • Looking beyond conventionally desirable attributes to notice what actually attracts us to others
  • Why the best decisions are made from a place of self love and compassion rather than fear and self criticism
  • Dallas’s basic principles for maintaining a healthy body weight — whole foods and complete proteins, regular short-duration/high-intensity or long-duration/low-intensity body movement, and consistent circadian rhythms
  • Challenging the popular presumptions about how to lose weight and learning how to do what works for you based on your own experience and observations

Examine something you think you “should” do — “I should lose 10 pounds” or “I should be working out harder” — and ask yourself whether those “shoulds” are based in self love or fear. If your motivation is fear, can you restructure the “should” from a more loving perspective? Alternatively, could you modify the behavior (or drop it altogether) to make it a more loving act?

Rather than focusing on a specific diet strategy or a dietary goal, shift your attention to preemptively warding off and repairing the depletion and anxiety that tend to result from stressing, rushing, and white-knuckling it through your day. To help you get a sense of how this Healthy Deviant strategy works, start with one of Pilar’s Renegade Rituals:

1. Try a morning practice (listen to the “Morning” episode for suggestions)

2. Take Ultradian Rhythm Breaks (as described in the “Pause” episode)

3. Develop a nighttime wind-down ritual (check out the “Sleep” episode)

Notice how performing these self-sustaining practices improves your ability to self-notice and self-regulate, and helps you better manage your eating choices throughout the day. 

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Resources

PLUS …

Quitting

This week we’re talking about Quitting — the importance of knowing when to do it, and the stigma that so often accompanies that decision.

From jobs and relationships, to projects and attachments, we talk about both the pain and the relief of letting go of the things we once decided to pursue. And we point out that quitting needn’t represent a failure or a referendum on your value as a person.

Dallas makes his case for becoming an “expert quitter,” and Pilar shares some of the biggest, baddest, most formative quitting experiences of her life.

We also offer you some empowering experiments to help you explore the potential of quitting more skillfully and selectively in your own life.

“Quitting” Episode Highlights

  • What Dallas means by being an “expert quitter”
  • Pilar and Dallas share their stories of big life quits
  • The detrimental effects of trying to hold on to everything
  • The iterative process of trying new things, and being willing to let go
  • Overcoming the fear of quitting by tapping into your deepest feelings, noticing how your body reacts, and then having faith in the response
  • Change in any form as the first step in getting out of a bad situation
  • Quitting certain aspects of a job or relationship, for example, rather than leaving altogether
  • Keeping your values in mind when making decisions about what to do
  • Reframing quitting as reinvention in the hero’s journey

If you’re considering quitting something, try following these steps:

1. Slow down. Find a moment when you’re not trying to get somewhere or do something, and physically stop. Take some deep breaths and calm yourself down. Then, allow yourself to feel what it feels like when you say “I quit.” What comes up? Do you feel fear? Dread? Anticipation? A lightening?

2. Imagine you’re doing something else, even if you don’t know what that thing is. Again, what do you feel?

If you feel a sense of relief, excitement, or anticipation in either or both of those steps, start looking in the direction of making a change. You don’t have to quit right away, but give yourself permission to start planning without feeling ashamed about giving up.

Quit doing something small that doesn’t feel good to you, especially if it’s something that you feel obligated rather than excited to do. Examples: Stop being self-critical (it might take many tries). Stop going to the early morning yoga class you don’t like. Put down the book group assignment that isn’t interesting to you. Notice how quitting the small thing makes you feel, and see if it empowers and energizes you to make other changes.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

Childless by Choice

This week we’re talking about being Childless by Choice. That’s a decision that an increasing number of people are making these days, so the assumption that any given person is hoping to someday “get married and have babies” is increasingly a questionable one.

And yet, those who consciously decide not to have kids are often confronted by the judgment of others. From opinion leaders who argue that not having children is “selfish,” to relatives who are counting on you to carry on the family line, there’s no shortage of reasons you might feel pressure — or peevishness — as the result of other people’s investment in your reproductive capacity.

So here, we talk about the many reasons a person might choose not to have kids, and how to cope with the reactions that choice might provoke. We also offer you some experiments to help you get more comfortable and compassionate with your own decision, and others’.

“Childless by Choice” Episode Highlights

  • The statistical reality that choosing not to have kids is becoming an increasingly popular choice
  • Pope Francis’s declaration that being able to reproduce but choosing not to is selfish and sinful
  • The surprising environmental impacts of having fewer children (or not having them at all)
  • The ethical dilemma of bringing kids into our overpopulated, unpredictable world
  • How holdover biological, religious and cultural motivations to have kids still drive the decisions of many
  • Pilar shares her story of — and reasons for — being childless, and Dallas’s shares his perspective
  • The judgments passed both on people without children and on certain people who have lots of kids
  • The personal values that can guide individuals toward not having kids
  • The myriad ways people can make the world a better place without having children

Imagine a future that’s different from the one you envision. If you want kids but don’t have them, think about how that might play out. If you have children, envision your life without them. Whatever your situation, imagine how you’d achieve a life of purpose and meaning without kids. Are there aspects of that imagined life that you can apply to the life you have?

Consider the messages you got from your family of origin and what you’ve taken away from other social programming about the choice to have or not have kids, the responsibility you have to reproduce (or not), and how you might be judged about the choice you make. Then reflect: How much is this decision driven by someone else’s opinion or beliefs about what you should or shouldn’t do? How have those messages influenced how you judge other people’s choices, and can you soften those judgments and assumptions? How does having a judgment about someone else’s decision on such a personal matter really serve you?

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Resources

PLUS …

Questions

This week we’re talking about Questions — the value of asking more of them, and the potential of making inquiry a regular life practice.

Rainer Maria Rilke once advised a young poet to “live in the questions,” and that advice can serve all of us.

So here, we share the questions we’ve found most helpful in keeping us on a good path, as well as the questions that tend to get us in trouble.

From the reality-challenging questions that define Byron Katie’s “The Work,” to the Learner and Judger questions that make up Marilee Adams’ Choice Map, we explore the evolution that is possible when we ask, rather than assume.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you consider the questions you might benefit from asking in your own life.

“Questions” Episode Highlights

  • The power of questions (vs. “expert answers”) in shaping your choices and responses
  • Using inquiry to slow the rush of emotions and judgment when things go awry
  • Dallas’s recent experience with questioning just about everything he believes in
  • Acknowledging and finding comfort in the fact that most of us — including people who appear to have it all together — are fumbling around most of the time
  • The value (and uncertainty) that comes from asking questions without clear answers
  • Marilee Adams Ph.D.’s Choice Map, and the Learner and Judger paths available to us at any time
  • Letting go of what we think we know and embracing mystery and magic
  • The power of asking “What if …” in exploring our choices and plans
  • What we can learn from asking other people questions, especially people we don’t know well
  • The questions Dallas and Pilar are sometimes afraid to ask themselves
  • Helpful and not-so-helpful questions, confirmation bias, and the hazards of clinging to answers
  • Abandoning our assumptions and asking what’s calling us

Consider a question or decision that you’ve been contemplating for a while. Write down the first two obvious answers and keep going until you find a third (or fourth or fifth) response. Don’t dismiss anything.

Choose from one of these options:

1) If you are facing a current quandary or conundrum, watch one of the Byron Katie’s “The Work” videos (linked in the Resources below) and then work through that process yourself.

2) Work through Marilee Adams’ Choice Map. Notice if you naturally tend towards the Learner or the Judger path, and pay particular attention to the Switching questions.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

Suicide

This week we’re talking about Suicide — the fact that it has become tragically more common in recent years, and some reasons we think that might be.

We also talk about how we personally view suicide, and what we’ve learned about it in our own lives.

We share expert insights about the signs that someone near you might be having suicidal thoughts, and what you can do if you have been experiencing them yourself.

We unpack some different viewpoints, and some suggestions for how to process the thoughts and feelings you might be having about this complex topic.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you expand your understanding about suicide, and to show up for others in ways that help you build compassionate, life-nourishing connections in your own world.

“Suicide” Episode Highlights

  • The difficulty of making sense of suicide from the outside, and long-term mental and emotional processing involved in reacting to it
  • The increasing frequency of suicide in our culture, and why sensitive, thoughtful people may be most at risk
  • How environmental inputs — toxins, molds, food intolerances, for example — can contribute to depression via inflammatory response and circadian rhythm disruption
  • Adolescent vulnerability to extreme social pressure, especially via social media
  • The ramifications of isolating ourselves from the in-person social connections and rituals that are so vital to our health and happiness in all stages of life
  • The particular tragedy of high suicide rates among veterans returning from war
  • The ways our dehumanizing culture has failed us by creating a definition of success that is unattainable by most people — and deadly to some
  • How the mass media contributes to the problem
  • Reclaiming your health and mental wellness by getting back to the basics of good food, movement, daylight, nature, natural rhythms
  • The importance of compassionate intervention in supporting people who are having suicidal thoughts
  • Helping people whose loved ones have committed suicide
  • Signs that someone is thinking about taking their own life
  • The idea of creative maladjustment, and creating a world where everyone can survive and thrive

Listen to Meg Hutchinson’s song “Gatekeeper” (lyrics linked in Resources below) in a quiet place, free of distractions. Let it sink in, and notice what feelings and emotions it brings up for you. Consider how the notion that “we keep each other here” rings true for you, or not. 

Create a space for intimate connection. If you’re struggling, ask for help. If you know someone who you think might be having problems, connect with them. If neither of these apply to you, reach out to someone anyway and ask them (relative to Meg Hutchinson’s lyric, referenced in Pilar’s experiment above) what their plans are for tomorrow.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

Share the Love!

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Orthorexia

This week, we’re talking about Orthorexia — an eating disorder in which a person becomes so obsessed with what they think of as “healthy” eating that they over-limit their diet and become unhealthy as a result.

Dedicated healthy eaters sometimes write off orthorexia as nonsense, seeing the diagnosis as just another way of marginalizing the sensible choices made by many not to consume certain types of foods they are sensitive to, or simply don’t want to eat.

But as we share here, orthorexia is a real thing — definitely not your garden-variety picky eating — and for some, it can become life threatening.

So we talk about what orthorexia is, the rigid thoughts and beliefs that can predispose people to suffering from it, and how you can steer clear of its grip.

We share some of our personal experiences and professional insights about this condition, and as always, we offer you some experiments to help you reconsider the attitudes you hold about food, and the healthy-eating decisions you choose to make in your own life.

“Orthorexia” Episode Highlights

  • The National Eating Disorder Association’s list of orthorexia’s warning signs and symptoms
  • Why some restrictive eating approaches don’t fall into the category of obsessive healthy eating — and some do
  • Orthorexia as another anxiety-producing neurosis that needs to be approached with compassion
  • Getting clear about the real reasons you choose to eat the way you do — the first step in resisting unhealthy defaults
  • The value of what Pilar calls “Amplified Awareness” — the first Core Competency of Healthy Deviance
  • How scarcity mentality can lead to compulsive food thoughts and actions
  • Applying the “orthorexic” label carefully, and understanding when it’s being used to undermine healthy eating choices
  • How food and diet obsessions may be keeping you from giving the world your best gifts

Create an open space for dialogue about food by choosing one of these experiments:

1) Ask a close friend of family member what impression they have of your eating habits.

2) With an open mind, ask someone you know who restricts their diet what their motivations are.

Take Food Renegade’s “Am I an Orthorexic?” quiz. If your results trouble you, give some careful thought to how your food choices affect you — are they improving your life, or creating anxiety?

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

Fats

This week we’re talking about Fats — the role they play in healthy eating, and the fact that a lot of what we’ve been told about them is all wrong.

From the healthy fats your body probably needs more of, to the inflammatory fats it most definitely does not, we share what we know about America’s most misunderstood macronutrient.

We explain why low-fat diets are generally not helpful for weight loss, and why saturated fats are not the dietary evil you’ve been led to believe.

We look at the fascinating role fats play in metabolism, health, mood, mental function and more. And we help you pick better fats as often as you can. Finally, we offer you some experiments so you can reconsider the role that fat-rich foods play in your own life.

“Fats” Episode Highlights

  • The oversimplified theory that weight gain (or loss) is a simple function of calories in, calories out
  • Dietary fat myths and misunderstandings around weight, heart disease and more
  • Cholesterol’s important role in repairing damaged tissue and reducing inflammation
  • The myriad problems with human observational studies linking diet and illness
  • Ketogenic diets — when they are useful, and when they are not
  • Challenging the conventional wisdom of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet
  • The value of adding healthy fats and limiting or eliminating industrial vegetable oils and trans-fats
  • Healthy vs. pro-inflammatory fats, where they’re found, and how to balance the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio
  • The processes that create unhealthy trans-fats, and the role of oils and fats in a whole-food diet
  • Managing the glycemic load of carbohydrates using fats, protein and fiber
  • How the thinking on fat’s role in diet and disease has evolved

Try one of these options for a month. Take notes and see if you feel any different at the end of the experiment.

1) Throw away all the vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean, other processed omega-6-rich oils) in your pantry. For extra credit, radically reduce or eliminate processed foods that contain those oils.

2) Increase your omega-3 intake with a fish, krill or algal (vegan) oil. Good brands are Carlson’s, Nordic Naturals and Stronger Faster Healthier.

3) Both 1 and 2.

Choose from one of these options:

1) Ask yourself how much you’ve bought into the ideas that eating fats will make you fatter and lead to chronic diseases. What foods have you given up as a result, and how have you changed your diet? Has confusion about what to eat left you feeling less motivated to pursue healthy eating? If these questions resonate with you, check out some of the Resources below.

2) Read the ingredients list on some of the packaged foods that you buy and eat most often. Note which industrial fats and oils (e.g., soybean, corn, canola, safflower) show up most frequently, and consider whether you want to continue to put them in your body.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

Supplements

This week, we’re talking about Supplements — why you can’t rely on pills and powders for all your nourishment, and why you still might want to take some anyway.

We cover the value that both multis and targeted nutrients can have in filling dietary gaps, and why what works for your friend or partner might not work for you.

We both share the supplements we take (or don’t), and we offer you some recommendations on the supplements that most of the smart doctors and nutrition pros we know suggest as basics.

Finally, we offer some counsel on picking high quality products, and some recommendations for adjusting your own supplementation strategy in ways that work for you.

“Supplements” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas’s three supplement questions: how much potential good can it do, what’s the risk that it can cause harm, and how expensive is it?
  • Pilar’s philosophy on using supplements in the context of a modern diet — even a “healthy” one — that diverges from our diverse seasonal evolutionary nutrition sources
  • The importance of understanding not just which supplements to take, but why
  • Basic supplementation: high quality broad-spectrum multi-vitamins and multi-minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, and probiotics
  • A healthy microbiome’s role in absorbing nutrients (and what the microbiome is)
  • Tips for choosing high-quality supplements, recommended brands, and ingredients to avoid
  • Following a good practitioner’s nutrition protocols for particular health problems like migraines and arthritis
  • The benefits of digestive enzymes

If you’re currently taking supplements and aren’t sure that they’re really helping, take a month off from all of them. Notice how you feel without them. Then reintroduce them and again take note of how you feel.

If you’re not taking any supplements, try the recommended dose of a high-quality multi-vitamin and multi-mineral for a month. If you don’t want to try one of those, try an essential fatty acid supplement. Notice how you feel.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Resources

PLUS …

Imposter Syndrome

This week we’re talking about Imposter Syndrome — that disconcerting sense you may not be entirely worthy or qualified to be doing whatever it is you are doing, and that accompanying sense of dread that it’s just a matter of time before everybody else figures it out.

Imposter syndrome is a well-recognized phenomenon that affects almost all of us at one time or another, and it can be a significant source of chronic stress.

So here, we talk about our own personal experiences with imposter syndrome. We also share what we’ve learned through our professional explorations of it, plus some expert strategies for not letting it get the best of you.

From investigating your negative self-talk to overcoming your unconscious upper limits, we suggest ways of identifying and navigating through imposter syndrome. And of course, we offer you some experiments to help you evaluate the impact it might be having in your world.

“Imposter Syndrome” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas’s trepidation and disorientation every time he publishes a new book or appears on television as an expert
  • Imposter syndrome’s roots in fear of inadequacy, failure, and vulnerability
  • Five types of imposter syndrome as defined by Valerie Young: The Perfectionist, The Superwoman/man, The Natural Genius, The Rugged Individualist, and The Expert
  • Pilar and Dallas discuss their answers to nine questions to help you better understand if you suffer from imposter syndrome
  • How some people use narcissism to drown out their feelings of inadequacy, and the importance of defining and understanding our hidden motives
  • Suggestions for unraveling imposter syndrome, starting with understanding that almost everyone suffers from it
  • The value of questioning your thoughts
  • The potential costs of imposter syndrome — and the promise of finding your “Zone of Genius” (as defined by Gay Hendricks)

Ask yourself what would happen if you decided that you weren’t all that smart and that you didn’t have anything to share with the world. How would it impact your life? Would it be as terrifying as you think? Does thinking about it allow you to unravel your identity from all the externalized outcomes?

Review one or more of the Resources below. If you don’t relate to the problem of Imposter Syndrome at all, become aware of how many people do, and see if you can regard their struggles with compassion.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

How We See the World

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about How We See the World.

This episode started out as an answer to a listener question — and then morphed, evolving into a big rambling conversation about hope and doubt, energy and attention, agency and activism, and more.

It became one of those conversations where you discover what you think and feel as you are saying it, and you have no idea what is going to come out of your own or the other person’s mouth until it does.

It’s worth noting that within weeks of recording this episode, Dallas had what he described as a “mind-melting experience” that caused him to question virtually everything he thinks, so by the time this podcast goes live, he may or may not be willing to stand by all of his statements here.

The point is, conversations about how we see the world are worth having, and having, again, and again, and again. So, here, we invite you into ours, and we leave you with experiments to help you start some conversations and explorations of your own.

“How We See the World” Episode Highlights

  • The worldwide suffering caused by unwillingness to see the larger consequences of our actions
  • How artificial boundaries like national and cultural borders create a “us vs. them” lack of empathy
  • Recognizing systems that are dehumanizing, unhealthy, socially unjust, or otherwise broken and looking for ways to change them locally
  • Dallas’s parallels between the predatory capitalism of our world and the governmental control tactics in dystopian novels and movies
  • Choosing how and when to expose yourself to the non-stop stream of disturbing images on the news and in social media
  • Being willing to try to make a difference even if you never know what effect your actions may have
  • The value of traveling to other cultures and witnessing the good work that humans are doing everywhere

Spend a moment contemplating the tension you feel between “what is” and what you think “should be.” Rather than getting angry or hopeless about something you find bad, wrong, or unjust, see if you can shift toward acknowledging the situation as “the way things are right now” — while also acknowledging that you’d like things to be different. See if you can find a way to feel empowered and focused by that viewpoint, rather than held hostage by anger, grief, or hopelessness. 

Explore some different viewpoints and philosophies of life to see how they help clarify or inform your own. Start by reading Charles Eisenstein’s The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible or watching a few clips of the interview with him (via Oprah Winfrey) linked in the Resources below. 

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Resources

PLUS …

Conscious Language with Cat Thompson

This week on The Living Experiment, by listener request, we’re doing a special guest-episode follow-up on the topic of Conscious Language, a subject we originally addressed way back in episode #66.

Joining Pilar this week is Cat Thompson. She’s the teacher and friend who originally introduced Pilar to the study of Conscious Language.

Conscious Language is about noticing and choosing your words with awareness. It’s also about recognizing that everything you say both reflects and influences your daily reality — your perspectives, beliefs, attitudes, energy, and intention.

Here, Cat shares her expert insights about how Conscious Language works, and about why it might be worth incorporating into your life.

“Conscious Language with Cat Thompson” Episode Highlights

  • “I am …” statements as a declaration and reflection of your reality
  • Thinking about “I want …” as a self-programming intention to desire without having, and how rephrasing with more intention can bring the desired experience closer
  • Language that expresses victimization and fear vs. empowerment and creation
  • The Automatic Negative Thoughts stemming from childhood traumatic events and ancestral history, and how paying attention to our words can be the first step towards healing
  • Cat’s simple questions to help process and evolve negative emotions
  • The manifestation of guilt in “I should …” statements
  • Suggestions for where and how to start changing your language to serve you better
  • “I” vs. “You” statements, and speaking only from your own experience
  • Why the younger generations are creating their own language, and considering that their language might be what they’ll need to function in a high-tech future
  • The emotional awareness and Healthy Deviant skills required to move from a victim reality to a creator reality

Cat’s Experiment of the Week

If you’re feeling stressed or upset about something, use this worksheet to walk through your emotions. Later, when you’re not feeling so triggered, go back and look at the words your emotions used to talk to you. Notice what the different parts of your personality are trying to express, and how they’re creating those expressions. Do you see any trends that might make you aware of when you’re moving into a negative emotion?

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Review one of the Resources in the list below. Notice what you have an appetite fordoes something really pique your curiosity, trigger a reaction or ring particularly true for you? If you’re inspired to upgrade your own language, engage a friend and talk about what you observe in each others’ speech.

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Resources

PLUS …

Libido

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Libido — the nature of our drive for sensual and sexual contact, and the variables that can affect it, for better or for worse.

We start from the assumption that a healthy libido means different things to different people, and that there is no “right” way to feel it, or do it.

We explore some of the factors that influence libido, and the concerns that many people share about their own, from a lack or surplus of sexual desire to uncertainties about sexual performance.

We talk about challenges of living in a society where sexuality is distorted by media and blunted by stress, anxiety, over-scheduling, shame, religious dogma, and more.

We also talk about the physiological, biochemical role that healthy sensuality plays in supporting human health and happiness.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you get more comfortable with your sense of libido, and wherever it fits into your own life.

“Libido” Episode Highlights

  • The reasons for cultivating and sustaining a healthy libido — without judging your current libido as “wrong”
  • The problem of living in a culture that is both obsessed with and squeamish about sex, and how “sex education” in schools (or lack thereof) is failing us
  • The evolutionary reasons for the inversely proportional relationship between chronic stress and libido
  • The multi-generational ignorance and hopelessness among women when their sex lives don’t live up to the sensationalized hype of mass media
  • Why focusing on a woman’s pleasure can make everyone happier
  • Suggestions for rebalancing your libido, starting with reducing stress and removing inhibitors to pleasure
  • Health problems that can affect libido
  • The idea behind and benefits of sensual “research dates” (a concept originated at Lafayette Morehouse)
  • How sexual intimacy evolves as relationships age, and learning to speak the truth with yourself and your partner

Set aside an hour to an hour and half as a sacred time for yourself. Turn off your phone, shut out distractions, and create a pleasure-oriented environment by making your space beautiful and putting your attention on your own sensory experience. Light some candles, bring in some fragrant flowers, play some music, and perhaps plate up some little delicacies to bring more richness to the experience. Notice what happens as you put attention on pleasing your senses. Do you feel more open to a sensual encounter with yourself or someone else?

1) If you feel like your libido is sluggish, consider that it may be natural for where you are in your life right now rather than dysfunctional.

2) If you have a regular sexual partner, share something with them. Tell them what you like — it may open you both up to a more beautiful, connective experience.

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Resources

Please note that while neither this episode nor its show notes includes any graphic or explicit sexual content, they do reference sensual experiences, and the links within this section may take you to sites through which you may discover more explicit content. Please explore at your own discretion.

PLUS …

Functional Medicine

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Functional Medicine — a systems-based approach to addressing the fundamental causes of disease and distress.

Both of us have been immersed in the functional medicine movement for years — Dallas as a practitioner and Pilar as a health journalist — and we both see it as a science whose time has come.

Here, we talk about what functional medicine is, and why this science- and lifestyle-based approach represents such an exciting evolution in healthcare.

We touch on the tools, methods, and philosophy that make functional medicine so different. We explore functional medicine’s practical but revolutionary strategy for addressing chronic diseases of all kinds, from digestive disorders and depression to autoimmunity and Alzheimer’s.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you assess whether functional medicine might hold promise for you and those you love.

“Functional Medicine” Episode Highlights

  • Addressing the root causes of diseases to help the body heal itself — the “thing” that sets functional medicine apart from other healthcare models
  • Why the conventional “whack-a-mole” approach of using prescriptions to make lab results look better is keeping people sick
  • How the functional medicine timeline seeks to identify clues in your medical history (or even your parents’ or grandparents’ history) that may be causing your current disease manifestations
  • The functional medicine matrix: Mapping body systems and symptoms to visually illustrate how symptoms might be linked
  • Why the gut is often the starting point, and how healing digestive problems often makes other seemingly unrelated issues disappear
  • The dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system — when the bottom line is profit, there’s no incentive to eliminate disease
  • Why functional medicine is great at addressing certain chronic conditions and imbalances: Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, skin conditions, digestive disorders, and many types of cancer, for example
  • The effectiveness of functional medicine’s mind-body approach to healing neurological and mental health diseases
  • Finding a functional medicine practitioner, and using self-directed care, including elimination diets, to address the long wait lists at clinics
  • Understanding and accepting that functional medicine isn’t magic, that it isn’t a quick shortcut solution, and that a conventional approach may be the most appropriate in some situations
  • The differences between functional and other complementary and integrative medicines
  • Common functional medicine laboratory tests

Read one of the articles on functional medicine in the Resources section below and think about how your lifestyle choices might be affecting your quality of life. Question how the dots can be connected (for example, job stress is causing insomnia) and start an intervention.

1) If you’re plagued with significant health issues, fill out a functional medicine timeline (linked in the Resources section below) and see what it reveals.

2) If you’re really motivated to make a change, try an elimination diet for a month. Keep a journal and notice if and how things improve.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

This Messy Magnificent Life, Part 2

This week on The Living Experiment, we bring you Part 2 of Pilar’s conversation with New York Times bestselling author and teacher, Geneen Roth.

Geneen has been teaching and writing about conscious eating and living for the past 30 years. Her most recent book is This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide. Through keen observation, reflection, and some very funny asides, her work guides us to see our compulsions and self-sabotaging habits through more curious and self-compassionate eyes. It also helps us see the bigger picture of what we are doing here in the first place, and what we want to do with, as she says, “the breaths we have left.”

In Part 1, Geneen and Pilar covered all sorts of ground. Here, in Part 2, they pick up where they left off, talking about appetites, aging, beauty, creativity, mortality, and more. Geneen also shares a few of what she calls her “touchstones” — simple strategies for getting grounded, for warding off anxiety, and for evolving your own viewpoints.

Finally, they both suggest experiments to help you explore and enjoy your own Messy Magnificent Life in ways that work for you.

“This Messy Magnificent Life, Part 2” Episode Highlights

  • A continuation of the discussion about living in the small moments
  • The problem of scarcity-thinking and our perpetual search for “the next thing” we think will make us happy
  • The cult of youth, and how it robs us of our sense of self
  • Recognizing yourself for who you are, and focusing on what’s good rather than what’s wrong
  • Anxiety as a byproduct of the belief in the stories — true or not — that we tell ourselves
  • Geneen’s touchstones for finding the freedom and joy in life that’s already there
  • Why we need to look at therapy as a means to reaching a better relationship with ourselves, rather than a process for becoming a different person

Geneen’s Experiment of the Week

1) If you can’t sleep in the middle of the night, instead of lying in bed believing your thoughts, go outside and experience the sounds and scents of the nighttime world. Notice if your state of mind has changed when you go back to bed, and if you can more easily fall back asleep.

2) Pay attention to how many of your conversations involve complaining, and then decide to not participate. Notice if other people notice a difference in you, and if it changes the way you choose to react to things you otherwise would have simply complained about.

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Find Geneen’s book, This Messy Magnificent Life, and try “The Red String” exercise. Also, check out one or more of the recommended links in the Resources section below.

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Resources

PLUS …

This Messy Magnificent Life, Part 1

This week on The Living Experiment, while Dallas is off on adventures, Pilar has a very special guest: Geneen Roth.

Geneen has written close to a dozen terrific books, including Lost and Found: One Woman’s Story of Losing Her Money and Finding Her Life and When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair. She  also teaches life-changing workshops all over the country.

Most of Geneen’s work explores the intricate, under-examined spaces between how we feel, think, act, and relate — to ourselves, to each other, and to the experience of being alive.

In this interview, a far-ranging conversation that stretches over two full episodes, Pilar delves into Geneen’s new book, This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide. It’s a work so rich in wisdom, feeling, and funny insights that it’s kind of hard to categorize, and even harder to contain.

“This Messy Magnificent Life, Part 1” Episode Highlights

  • The challenges and rewards of writing honestly about very personal (and universal) emotions and experiences
  • Geneen’s story of learning to set physical and energetic boundaries, starting with a circle of red string
  • Why women sometimes use excess body weight to create a sense of protection
  • How our cultural obsession with thin bodies is distracting women from achieving their power as individuals and as a group
  • What we gain by facing our fear and pain, rather than anesthetizing with addictions
  • Thinking about life — and what’s truly important — in terms of how we spend our finite number of breaths
  • Achieving freedom from anxiety by living in the small moments

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

Get 14 days of access to the entire collection of Optimize wisdom for free — and check out their Optimize Coach program!

Share the Love!

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Resources

PLUS …

Apologizing

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Apologizing — the reasons it’s worth doing, and the art of doing it well.

We explore the value that a good apology can have in healing conflict and shame, and the reasons our well-intended apologies sometimes don’t go as well as we’d like.

We talk about the characteristics of good and not-so-good apologies, about private apologies and public ones.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you evolve your own apologetic skills and sensitivities in ways that work for you.

“Apologizing” Episode Highlights

  • The context of the “Me Too” movement, and our world’s many other overdue apologies
  • The inflammatory stress caused by strained relationships and unresolved conflicts
  • How superfluous and disingenuous apologizing can undermine the value of substantive apologies
  • Dallas reflects on the fact that women tend to apologize more than men
  • Features of a good apology
  • The healing opportunity an apology provides for the giver and the receiver
  • Pilar shares the most meaningful apologies she’s received and why they mattered
  • The nature of transactional vs. heartfelt apologies
  • When apologies need to come with reparations
  • The danger of using an apology to force closure
  • The question of justice vs. retribution vs. support for healing
  • Being willing to hear the other person’s experience, and how apologies can bring up stored feelings
  • The value of public vs. private apologies (Pilar shares an experience)
  • The feeling of “being owed” an apology, and what to do with that feeling

1) Think about an apology you owe somebody, then go make that apology. In the course of your apology, emphasize the significance of your connection with this person, that they mean something to you. Share your authentic feelings of regret at having hurt or disappointed them.

2) Think of an apology that you feel you are owed, but have not received. Recognize that, for reasons unknown to you, you may never receive that apology. Let it go. Move forward without expecting an apology, and see what happens.

Plan a micro-apology. Think about a small but irritating habitual behavior of yours (like being late, leaving the toilet seat up, interrupting, or checking your phone at the table) that you know bothers someone close to you. In the moment where you’d normally do that thing, don’t. Tell the person that you are aware you typically do this thing, that you recognize it bothers them, that you feel badly about it, and that you intent to make a change around it.

Be willing to listen to the other person share how your patterned behavior has impacted them, what they’re thinking and feeling about it, and what they’d like you to do differently. Thank them for sharing their thoughts and feelings. Then act on your promise of improvement, and notice how that feels.

Big Thanks to Our Friends at Optimize!

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Resources

PLUS …

Friends

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Friends — not the kind we call “friends” social media, but the real, meaningful, human kind we connect with in person. The kind we care about deeply. The kind we count on for hugs, empathy, perspective, emotional support and fun.

In a world where many of us feel painfully pressed for time, we’re barely connecting with our romantic partners and close family members, much less making time to forge and maintain meaningful connections beyond the walls of our own homes.

So here, we talk about the difference between various levels of friendship intimacy, and how relationships are deepened by time, proximity, shared experiences, vulnerability, and trust.

We explore the essential role friendships play in defining our lives, and how to go about evaluating and evolving the friendships in your life now.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you give your own friendships a little more of the energy and attention they deserve.

“Friends” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas deconstructs the word “tribe” — both the controversy and distortion surrounding the word
  • How friendships have tended to become broad and shallow rather than narrow and deep
  • The role authenticity and vulnerability play in the formation of friendship
  • The art of making space and energy for your friendships in a distracted, over-scheduled world
  • Pilar shares how living on a communal farm has shaped her ideals around friendship and intentional community
  • The paradox of our wanting more meaningful connections without wanting to make ourselves vulnerable
  • How to evolve the friendships you have, and create the friendships you seek
  • The role of accepting presence and interested, empathetic inquiry in the creation of deeper friendships
  • Pilar describes how she and a friend used a  “Genius Pact” to connect around shared interests and goals.
1) Bring someone who is at the periphery of your circle a little bit closer. Within your current social milieu, reflect on whether there is a person who seems interesting to you, but with whom you don’t yet share a close friendship. Invite that person to join you for an activity or get-together of some sort. It could be as simple as meeting for coffee. 
 
2) Within the context of an existing friendship, be the initiator of next-step closeness. Share something meaningful with them; ask a question that reflects an authentic interest in knowing them better; discuss a book that provoked rich emotion for you; reveal something about yourself they don’t yet know. 
Make a dot in the middle of a piece of paper and draw two or three concentric circles around it. With the central dot representing you,  write the names of your friends in the surrounding circles, locating them relative to their current level of closeness. Then, ask yourself why their placement is what it is. Look at the people in the second or third circle and reflect on why they’re there — if it’s based on trust, affection, history, or other variables. Reflect on if you’d like to bring them closer, and why or why not. Reflect on your current level of satisfaction with your friendships, and what you desire from them. 

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Resources

PLUS …

Reading

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Reading — its potential for informing and enriching our lives, and its potential for becoming an escapist habit.

In a world dominated by a non-stop stream of mass media and clickbait, is there still a place in our lives for real, deep, intentional reading?

Is reading a paper book or long-form magazine article the same as reading on screen, or listening to books on tape?

Has the ability to read, and ready deeply, become endangered in our culture?

We address all these questions and more. We also share the role that reading — particularly book reading — plays in our lives, and the reasons we both read as much as we do.

Finally, we offer some guidance on making more discerning reading selections. And we suggest some experiments to help you reflect on how reading can enhance your wellbeing, your thinking, and your quality of life.

“Reading” Episode Highlights

  • Motivations for reading — from escapism and entertainment to education and self-evolution
  • Pilar examines how her upbringing shaped her love for reading
  • Fiction as a tool for understanding universal human experiences
  • The difference between reading e-books and paper books
  • The value of having physical books in our space — and the many reasons we like to keep them around
  • How “junk food” reading can contribute to feelings of distraction and overwhelm
  • Using intentional reading as an awareness practice
  • The benefits of processing and sharing what we’ve read with others
  • Pilar’s “Ape in the Arcade” metaphor and how it relates to our present-day sense of information overload
  • Assessing whether you are using reading as an unhealthy escape

Change your reading routine. If you don’t currently read, pick up a book and make some time to read. If you are currently a regular reader, read a different type of book. If you’re currently an e-reader, try a paper or audio medium. If you’re a compulsive reader, take a break from reading.

Imagine yourself in a comfortable reading environment (e.g., reading a book in a pleasant coffee shop, on a beach, or in bed) or imagine reading aloud to someone you love. Do any of these visualizations give you a sense of longing or excitement? If so, make a date with yourself to try some sort of related pleasure reading for just 15 minutes. See how that feels. 

If you can’t imagine an environment where any sort of reading experience feels appealing, ask yourself if sitting with no reading material at all, or walking and allowing your thoughts to wander (with no electronics), feels better. Let your instinct be your guide. Give yourself a 15-minute window to enjoy this sort of unplugged, reading-free experience, and notice if you want more.

 

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Resources

Books mentioned during the episode

PLUS …

Dying

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about “Dying” — the fact that it’s something we’re all going to do, and the fact that most of us live in denial of that reality, often to our detriment.

The age-old advice to live each day as though it was our last might be inspiring, but it is also rather impractical. The truth is, most of us alternate between repressing most of our thoughts and feelings about death and then being uncomfortably confronted by them. And then, beyond feeling weirded out by the prospect of death, we’re just not sure what to do.

So here, we dive into the topic of death and dying. We share our take on our own mortality. We share some insights on how to live better by thinking, talking about, and planning for death as a fact of life.

Finally (no pun intended), we offer you some solutions to help you explore your own feelings about death in ways that help you live your own life with greater meaning and satisfaction. 

“Dying” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar shares an app that does nothing but repeatedly remind her she is going to die
  • Dallas talks about the inspired way his mom is approaching the second half of her life
  • An exploration of The Top Five Regrets of Dying (via The Guardian)
  • The chase for money, fame, and power and why they rarely deliver all we hope
  • The value of taking ownership of your life — with your death in mind
  • Dallas reflects on the passing of his father and his father’s end-of-life experience
  • Some tips and tools for opening conversations about death and dying with your loved ones
  • How an obsessive focus on health and longevity can work against happiness

  1. Check out one of the death calculators in the resource list with the goal of gaining more concrete knowledge about how much of your projected lifespan you have left. 
  2. Watch one of the death-themed movies in the resources section (or of your choosing) and notice if and how it causes you to reflect on your own mortality. Open a conversation with a friend or family member about the movie or topic.
Use one of the films or articles below (or this episode!) and have a conversation with two different people who you love. Tell them what you would tell them if you were on your death bed.

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Resources

PLUS …

Noise

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Noise — its many sources, its surprising impacts, and the options we have for relating to it more consciously.

From the difficulty of escaping noise in our modern environments to the effect it can have on our health, happiness, and quality of life, we talk about the underestimated toll that noise can take on our bodies and minds.

We explore the important role quiet spaces have in supporting our wellbeing, and the opportunities we have for regulating the noise in our midst.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you make more discerning choices about the kinds of noise you choose to tolerate — or eliminate — in your own world. 

“Noise” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar shares her impression that our tolerance for noise has increased as the result of our constant exposure to it — at a cost
  • The problem of background noise, layered noise, and more — how it dulls our sensitivity and adds to our stress burden
  • Dallas talks about his experience using a sensory deprivation chamber
  • How noise contributes to chronic low-level stress and fatigue
  • The distracting impacts of noise on cognitively demanding tasks in the workplace
  • Mitigating noise in your environments
  • What’s actually going on in your brain when it’s not being overstimulated; the power of the Default Mode Network (DMN)
  • Finding margins of silence in our day, and the reparative effect that can have on our lives
Each day for a week, set a timer for five minutes, and sit in silence. Eliminate all of the sources of noise that you can find, and just sit. Use the time to meditate or just sit in silence. See what happens — are you uncomfortable? Bored? Annoyed? Notice how you feel, what happens to your breathing, what mental chatter emerges, if you get anxious, what your experience is.

Consider embarking on on a “sound diet.” Eliminate optional sound (whether music, media, podcasts, chatter, or phone conversation) from one or more experiences where you’d usually include it (such as exercise, commute, bathing, shopping, work, errands, housework, or entertainment). Take off your headphones. Turn off the radio or TV, your playlists. Turn off things that buzz and beep. Make the conscious choice to limit or eliminate your intake of sound as you go about your life, and notice what the experience is like. If you share space with someone else and this presents an issue for them, have a conversation about it.

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Resources

PLUS …

Dating

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Dating — its modern trials and tribulations, and the options we have for reclaiming it from the limiting realms of texting, swiping, and scrolling.

In an era where face-to-face interaction is limited, and where an entire generation has lost track of real-life flirting, mingling, and conversation, many are bemoaning what they see as the sad state of dating, even as they are feeling constrained by its commoditizing conventions.

So here, we make a case for challenging the superficial status quo, and for making romantic connections that respect the depth and humanity of all parties.

We also offer you some experiments to help you experience more fun and satisfaction within your own dating world.  

“Dating” Episode Highlights

  • The lost art of dating in the age of technology
  • Pilar recalls (with some nostalgia) the reality of dating in decades past — the bygone process of getting to know someone, the experience of building real-life familiarity, romantic interest, and intimacy
  • The value of defining your dating end-goal and aligning your strategies and behaviors to match
  • Moving beyond acceleration and efficiency in a culture that seems to prioritize them
  • Pilar and Dallas explore societal pressures on women and men, presentation of self and how these impact the building of a dating relationship
  • The anti-hack approach to dating, and the opportunity to connected more pleasurably with people
  • The best dating advice Pilar got from her therapist back in her 20s: “Be the person you want to find”
  • The essential role of authenticity in intimacy — being willing to show up as you really are and attracting those most likely to connect with you in real life

Think about the kind of person you want to date or eventually have as a partner. Consider who you would have to be in order to be in a satisfying relationship with that ideal partner. Examine the extent to which you are actually showing up as that person — then consider how you might want to adjust accordingly.

Build a collage or vision board that helps capture the values and characteristics (not just the physical appearance or attributes) of your ideal partner, including how you want to feel in the relationship. For each image you select, clearly articulate what it is about each picture that speaks to you. Be as specific as possible about your hopes and desires and examine the language you use in these real or imagined “captions.”

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Resources

PLUS …

Anxiety

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Anxiety — a condition that causes tens of millions of people to feel rattled by intrusive thoughts and worries, sometimes to a disabling degree.  

Anxiety has now surpassed depression as America’s number one mental health disorder. So here, we talk about a wide range of strategies proven to help, from nutritional interventions to self-calming techniques.

We also explore the underlying reasons anxiety is giving so many of us so much trouble. 

From the factors that have given rise to our high-stress society, to the implications of medicating anxiety’s symptoms rather than addressing its root causes, we invite you to consider the role anxiety may be playing in your own life, and the options you have for making it better.  

We also offer some experiments to help you build your own collection of anti-anxiety skills.  

“Anxiety” Episode Highlights

  • The scope and nature of our society’s widespread anxiety problems
  • Why digestive issues are commonly associated with anxiety, and how they directly impact mental health
  • Dallas describes his self-imposed experience with anxiety — how it helped him empathize with others who experience anxiety from natural causes
  • How anxiety blurs the lines between things that are relevant and irrelevant — plus tips to reclaim focus and equanimity
  • Pilar observes how our current societal trends and recent history have contributed to the high level of anxiety many of us are experiencing
  • Dallas and Pilar discuss how anxiety can be triggered by inadequate nutrition, circadian rhythm disruption, stimulation from modern technology, and chronic perceived threats
  • The importance of physical touch and social support in mitigating anxiety
  • The role medication can play — in conjunction with essential lifestyle and environmental adjustments — in easing anxiety

Try the “4-7-8” breath. Breathe in deeply for 4 seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then slowly release the breath for 8 seconds. Do three rounds of this breathing exercise and tune in to how it makes you feel. The next time you begin to feel anxious, consider doing a few rounds of this breathing, knowing that your slowed breath “directs” your nervous system to relax. 

Examine your intake of complete dietary protein. Increase your intake of this type of protein (from animal sources) to 30 grams three times a day. The correlation between anxiety and inadequate intake of complete dietary protein is strong. Try this dietary tweak for 2-3 weeks and see how it impacts your sense of wellbeing.

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Resources

PLUS …

Vacation

This week, on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Vacation — the benefits that regular breaks from work can have for our health, happiness, and sanity, and the reality that most of us aren’t getting nearly enough of them.

We look at statistics suggesting many U.S. adults aren’t getting any paid vacation time, and many more aren’t making full use of the vacation time they have.

We explore some of the reasons for that, as well the real costs to our health, wellbeing, and productivity.

We also consider some strategies for making the most of the vacations you do take, and for navigating around some common vacation mistakes.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you begin making space and time for more satisfying vacations in your own life.    

“Vacation” Episode Highlights

  • How our prevailing culture undervalues vacation (and leisure in general) — at our peril
  • Important facts and insights from the “Take Back Your Time” movement, supporting the benefits of vacation
  • How socioeconomic status and societal pressures prevent people from taking the vacations they need
  • How our consumption-centric priorities tend to work against our taking time off
  • The “let loose” and “see everything” effects that can cause you to come home from your vacation feeling anything but restored
  • The unanticipated challenges of unplugging from daily life, including unfamiliar time for reflection, and the potentially uncomfortable feelings that can result from leisure
  • Fear of being penalized for taking vacation, and counsel on getting around that
  • Finding the potential value in mixing vacation with certain kinds of focused projects or “work”
  • Pilar and Dallas talk about how they mix vacation and avocation
  • Leveraging your vacation as a change of pace from your daily life — whether slowing your rhythms or increasing novelty and variety
  • The balance of “letting loose” vs. sticking to a healthy routine while on vacation
  • The value of tuning in to your intuition when designing your vacation

Micro-experiment: Take a single day in the relatively near future, and schedule it as a vacation day (even if you have to take a “sick” day to do it). Plan this day the way you would an actual vacation — scheduling pleasurable experiences and destinations — and observe the thoughts and feelings that come up. Notice whether you have an appetite to create more space for vacation time in your life, and what kinds of activities would feel most gratifying.

Macro-experiment: Find a window in the next 12 months to take a full week (at minimum) off from work. Make that vacation or stay-cation a sacred commitment to yourself, and notice any pressures you feel to sacrifice that time, or any temptations you feel to fritter it away.

Focus on 3 to 5 words that describe the characteristics and qualities of your everyday life that you desire a reprieve from. In thinking about your next vacation, strive to design an experience of a contrasting pace and character, focusing on 3 to 5 words that describe your desired state.

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Resources

PLUS …

Judgment

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Judgment the critical opinions we hold about ourselves and others, and the sometimes scathing assessments we make as a result.

From our natural tendency to disparage those who disagree with us, to the opportunities we miss when we make up our minds too quickly, we explore the territory between learning and judging, between connecting and distancing, between living in the questions and having all the answers.

We suggest some ways of moving from self-righteousness belief toward open-minded inquiry, and we offer you some experiments to help you soften the judger within yourself.

“Judgment” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas and Pilar address a listener question about whether all judgment is inherently negative
  • The difference between having opinions and being judgmental about other’s opinions
  • Pilar shares some insights about the “discerning” and “judging” parts of her own personality, and shares a real-life conflict where judgment played a role
  • The importance of keeping in mind your goals for the various relationships you have, and letting those goals be your guide
  • The value of asking questions as a tool for better understanding other people’s views and avoiding hurtful assumptions
  • Pilar walks through the “Learner Path” and the “Judger Path” as articulated in Dr. Marilee Adams’s “Choice Map” (linked in Resources below)
  • The difference between “the facts” vs. the facts as you see them
  • The role that assumed meanings and incomplete perceptions play in catalyzing our judgments
  • Byron Katie’s tool for transforming judgment and finding things right: the “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet (linked below)
  • The body-mind’s stress response to judging, including tunnel vision, tension, and inflammation
  • Noticing how your own judgments impact your connections and your daily experiences, for better or worse
  • The value of being able to hear and process different viewpoints without becoming a victim of your own reactionary responses
  • Utilizing breathing and mindfulness to mitigate our impulse to judge prematurely
  • The practice of empathy and forgiveness — how they can help soften our judgments and improve our mental and physical health

With the understanding that we typically base our judgments on perceived meanings, take a look at a negative emotional response or judgment you’ve held about your own or someone else’s behavior. Reflect on the meaning you ascribed to that action, and the emotions or thoughts that followed from that assumed meaning. Then consider: Is it possible that there could be a different meaning (or no meaning at all) behind the behavior? Could you be wrong about the meaning that you initially gave it? Seeing the previously-judged action or behavior through that lens, could you choose to have a different experience around it, and perhaps envision a more positive resolution?

When you realize you are in a judging frame of mind or seized by a judging emotional reaction … soften. Simply soften. Choose to soften your eyes, your breathing, your body, your heart, your thoughts. Say the word “soften” to yourself as a mantra whenever you’re feeling entrenched in your opinion. Feel your judgment melt a little. Also look at one of the two tools in the Resources section below: Byron Katie’s Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and Dr. Marilee Adam’s Choice Map.

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Resources

PLUS …

Impulse

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Impulse — that sudden urge to do or not do a given thing, and the ways such urges can take hold of us without our conscious permission.

Whether from a hunger for excitement, or the depletion of our available willpower, our impulses can work against our healthy intentions, and against our better interests.

They can also be a powerful indicator of how well we are coping with our current circumstances, and a barometer of our overall resilience.

Here, we talk about the variables that influence our impulses, and our ability to manage them. We explore the differences between response and reactivity, and some useful ways to create more space between our urges and actions.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you better govern your own impulses in ways that work for you.

“Impulse” Episode Highlights

  • The concept of self-regulation in making considered choices vs. giving into knee-jerk reactions
  • The marshmallow test — a reflection of how early-childhood self-regulation and delayed gratification powerfully predict life success
  • How the grind of repetition and joyless routine can give rise to impulsive behavior
  • The natural human craving for novelty and how taking purposeful breaks can help us feed that craving in healthier ways
  • The dynamic of ego-depletion and how our culture feeds our impulsive tendencies by subjecting us to constant temptation, stress, and sensory overwhelm
  • How to honor conscious choices that align with your values and the reality you’d like to create
  • Mindfulness, meditation, gratitude — how they can help to moderate impulsive mindsets
  • Pilar’s concept of Amplified Awareness — one of three non-conformist competencies at the center of her “Healthy Deviant” approach
  • The role good nutrition, sleep, and other physical health factors play in impulse regulation, and how an inflamed nervous system makes matters worse

Consider the short-, medium-, and long-term factors that may be contributing to excessive impulsivity. Some examples… Long-term: How might your nutritional status (including your intake of essential fatty acids, dietary protein, vitamin B12, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and more) be influencing your mental/emotional state? Medium-term: How have you slept the last few nights? Short-term: What happened in the last few minutes or hours (e.g., stress, lack of breaks, excess caffeine, alcohol, chemical intake), that might be triggering impulsivity? Reflect and take action as you see fit.

Take a look at one or more of the articles linked in the Resources section below. Test out the morning-practice, ultradian rhythm, and/or three-deep-breath rituals to see how they help you “amplify awareness,” build your self-regulation muscles, and moderate impulsive tendencies.

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Resources

PLUS …

Purpose vs. Pleasure

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Purpose vs. Pleasure — the apparent tensions that exist between our pursuit of those aims, and the ways they can live in harmony.

We offer philosophical and biological insights on the roles that both purpose and pleasure have in guiding human experience.

We share how we’ve come to discern the difference between cravings and longings while honoring the real value of both.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you find the proper place for purpose and pleasure in your own life.

“Purpose vs. Pleasure” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas and Pilar consider how the goal of “finding” our purpose is often set up as being in opposition to the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures
  • Dallas’s take on cravings vs. longings — the role that modern processed food, digital stimulation, technology, pornography, and social media plays in shaping our appetites
  • The intersections of pleasure and purpose — how they can complement, conflict with, and inform each other
  • The potentially false dichotomies around purpose vs. pleasure, and the different sorts of gratification that come from each
  • Pilar shares the story of her friend Cindy Joseph, who used her commitment to pleasure-centered living to guide her evolution of a successful purpose-driven business
  • How being socially connected and supported can moderate cravings and give you an advantage in pursuing your deeper longings, including your exploration of purpose
  • “Failure to launch” syndrome  — how lacking role models for balancing purpose and pleasure is hamstringing a generation
  • Our society’s moral prohibitions against pleasure, its enticements to hedonic excesses, and the art of finding the sweet spot between the two
  • Pilar makes a case for tuning into how you feel about your pleasure/purpose balance and allowing your deepest appetites and intuitions to guide you
  • Some suggestions on purpose-centered navigating, and the importance of enjoying that quest

Reflect on the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” and read the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia. Spend some time ruminating on what you love, what the world needs, what you can get paid for, and what you’re actually good at. If you’re a visual person, draw a venn diagram representing the intersection of these areas, and take time to do some introspection around this.

Watch and do the exercise suggested in the “How to Discover Your Purpose in Less Than 5 Seconds” video by Brian Johnson. 

Healthy, Happy Goodness

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Resources

PLUS …

 

Decluttering with Andrea Gerasimo

On this week’s special guest episode of The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Decluttering.

This is a follow-up on our “Clutter” episode from earlier in the season, in which Pilar promised to consult her decluttering expert and Feng Shui-certified sister, Andrea, for some of her down-and-dirty practical tips.

Here, Andrea shares essential guidance on how to turbo-charge your decluttering projects, and how to avoid getting bogged down or overwhelmed in the process.

Andrea has been a pro declutterer for decades. She regularly consults and teaches workshops on the topic, and she’s the featured expert in an award-winning article and video series called  “Order Out of Chaos” that’s featured in Experience Life magazine.

Blending Andrea’s philosophy, strategy, helpful techniques, and real-life examples, we set out to help you take charge of the clutter in your own world.

“Decluttering with Andrea Gerasimo” Episode Highlights

  • The simple but important preparatory steps Andrea uses to set up her decluttering projects for success
  • The value of creating and preserving “receptive space” — not just in your living environments, but in your schedule and your life
  • Simple strategies for making decluttering more efficient, productive, and rewarding
  • Different types of clutter and how to tackle them in your home
  • The value of “defending with beauty” to keep new clutter from encroaching on recently decluttered territory
  • How to avoid getting overwhelmed by a big or emotionally charged decluttering project

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Three options:

Using Andrea’s “multi-bin” technique, declutter a small area (like an overstuffed drawer, cupboard or your car) that has been annoying you.

Walk around your house with “fresh eyes,” looking at places clutter has accumulated or where “receptive space” would be appealing. Make a list of the areas that are asking for attention and consider scheduling some time to address them.

Read or watch one or more installments of Andrea’s “Order Out of Chaos” series from Experience Life magazine (see list of individual installments, below).

Andrea’s Experiment of the Week

Block off an entire day in your schedule for a “you” day (to use for decluttering or resting or whatever you like) — then notice what “comes up” that inclines you to give up that day or that impinges on it in some way. Consider how “schedule clutter” works much like physical clutter in your life, and how the two are connected.

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Resources

Via Experience Life magazine:

PLUS …

Conscious Language

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Conscious Language — the art of refining your words to support your higher choices, and the value of becoming more aware of how your verbal expressions both reflect and create your reality.

From the surprising power of key words and declarations, to the value of saying more of what you mean and less of what you don’t, we explore the ways language defines our experience, and how it shapes our connections with each other.

We also offer you some experiments to help you become more conscious of the way your current language patterns are playing out in your own life.

“Conscious Language” Episode Highlights

  • How Pilar was introduced to the concept and study of Conscious Language
  • The history of words as powerful tools for shaping belief and reality
  • How language, like posture, both says a lot about you and can dramatically shift the way you feel
  • Understanding the power of declaration, and the special importance of the words following statements like “I am”
  • The value (and surprising challenge) of intentionally refining your word choice
  • The rewards of accuracy and specificity — saying more of what you mean, less of what you don’t
  • Ways to become more conscious of how your current language patterns are playing out
  • Some tips and guidelines for upgrading your everyday communication
  • How using conscious language can help us develop deeper, more authentic relationships with those around us

Review your language for a limiting word or phrase that you use regularly and consider eliminating it from your vocabulary or replacing it with a more consciously chosen option. Refer to the articles in the resources section for ideas and examples to get you started.

Do away with rhetorical conversation starters like “How are you?” and unless you authentically want to engage someone in conversation, don’t. When you do choose to open a conversation, rather than resorting to a throwaway question or small talk, consider more open-ended, curious inquiry  — like, “What are you feeling most hopeful about?” (or if you know them well, “How’s your heart?”) — that will allow you to connect with them on a deeper level.

Happy, Healthy Goodness

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Resources

PLUS …

Eating Meat

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Eating Meat — the nutritional, ethical, and environmental questions that choice raises, and how we’ve come to our own answers.

From the vegan-vs.-paleo propaganda to the disconcerting realities of factory farming, we consider both the pros and cons of meat consumption.

We wade into some of the controversies and conundrums that polarize many well-intended eaters, and we shed light on some little-considered factors that we think deserve more attention.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you explore on the question of how meat-eating fits into your own life, or doesn’t.

“Eating Meat” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar and Dallas share where meat fits into their eating, and why
  • The quandaries of eating meat in our current food system, and how well-intended eaters can easily get led astray
  • The dangers of orthorexia and other misguided, counterproductive clean-eating obsessions
  • Balancing the environmental, health and ethical concerns of eating meat, while recognizing that there is no perfect or “pure” solution
  • The value of undertaking deeper research and reflection before adopting a major dietary change, and the importance of paying attention to the longer-term effects
  • Considering your individual health profile and priorities in shaping your own eating decisions

Expose yourself to some alternate points of view on the topic of meat-eating, and strive to empathetically consider the factors that are driving others’ decisions. Be open to adjusting your own meat-eating habits based on what you learn. If you’re an omnivore, be willing to acknowledge the reality of factory farming as an unsustainable, inhumane, and unhealthy-for-everyone practice that deserves critical scrutiny and activism. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, consider reviewing the arguments and real-life experiences of former vegans as expressed in books like The Vegetarian Myth, Women, Food and Desire or The Mindful Carnivore.

Do the Whole30. This is a 30-day experiment in eating high-quality whole foods, and for vegetarians, a great exercise in eliminating the processed foods that are too often at the center of meat-free eating. If you’re a vegetarian willing to expand your health experiment to include eating some meat, the Whole30 is a great opportunity to maximize the health improvements that come with focusing on nutrient-dense, satiating, anti-inflammatory food. Be sure to especially focus on the systematic re-introduction of foods, taking note on how they impact your energy, skin, digestion, mood, and general health.

Healthy, Happy Goodness

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Resources

Recommended books

PLUS …

Clutter

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Clutter — the oppressive burden all that excess stuff represents, and the some strategies for dealing with it constructively.

We talk about clutter’s underlying causes and its real-life impacts. We explore some of its deeper meanings.

And of course, we offer you some experiments to help you deal more consciously with the clutter that’s been collecting in your life.

“Clutter” Episode Highlights

  • The problem of living in a culture where acquiring “stuff” is comparatively cheap, easy, and socially promoted
  • The value of looking at where clutter accumulates in your home and life, and what it represents
  • The subconscious effect that clutter has on our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing — and our self-regard
  • Clutter as a source of friction, anxiety, and shame
  • How to reduce the clutter in your life, and the payoffs of making that a priority
  • Some expert insights from Pilar’s sister Andrea (a professional de-clutterer and certified Feng Shui consultant), including the concept of creating “receptive” spaces and “defending” them with objects of beauty (see Resources, below, for more how-to advice from Andrea, and listen to this special guest episode with her)
  • The rise of the minimalist movement (previously known as Voluntary Simplicity) and the growing appeal of owning less

Building on Pilar’s sister’s Feng Shui concept of “defending with beauty,” pick a cluttered surface or area of your home, clear it entirely, and — as a way of warding off the re-accumulation of clutter — reclaim that space with something beautiful (e.g., a vase, a candle, a wooden bowl, a sculpture, or another appealing object). Appreciate the special quality of that space, and see if it inspires you to do more. 

Read one of the recommended articles in this week’s show notes (see links below) and get inspired to take on a decluttering project of your own. Consider starting with one of the small but high-impact areas described in Three Spaces to Declutter Now”  or Andrea’s award-winning “Order Out of Chaos” series. Notice the result even this small bit of decluttering has on your outlook and energy. 

Healthy, Happy Goodness

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Resources

PLUS …

Sexual Harassment

Unwanted touches. Inappropriate jokes. Mortifying propositions. Depending on when and where they occur, they can all be forms of the abusive dynamic known as sexual harassment.

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about the recent spate of high profile sexual harassment revelations. We’re also talking about the much lower profile cases of sexual harassment that many of us have suffered — and witnessed — for as long as we can remember.

We share our personal perspectives and experiences, including my own recent “hey-that’s-my-thigh!” incident. We address the increasingly charged topic of physical contact and sexually charged banter among friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. We explore the anxiety and growing sense of outrage that pervade this emerging conversation about power, politics, and our scandal-crazy culture.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you tune into your own thoughts and feelings about unwanted sexual attention — and its real-life impacts.

“Sexual Harassment” Episode Highlights

  • Power dynamics between men and women and how they impact relationships
  • Degrees and shades of sexual harassment
  • Dallas and Pilar share some of their personal experiences and impressions
  • Tips on navigating sexual harassment and interpreting the cues given by others
  • How to handle and adapt to relationship “rules” that change situationally

Engage in a conversation with one or more friends and ask about their personal experiences with sexual harassment. Listen deeply, striving to understand how it affected them, and how they feel about it now. See if you can expand your empathy and understanding by seeing this uncomfortable experience through their eyes. 

If you have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment, reflect on one or more of those experiences. Journal about your experience or describe it aloud, to yourself or someone else, noting any emotions that arise. Next, imagine how you could rewrite that experience from a more empowered place, or perhaps give it a different ending.

If you have ever knowingly or unwittingly engaged in harassing activities, or if you feel you might have unintentionally stepped over that line from someone else’s point of view — take stock. Reflect on the impact your behavior may have had on the other person. Make a conscious choice about how you can be more responsible to yourself and others by adjusting your behavior going forward.

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Resources

Plus …

Holidays

There’s so much merriment, so much anticipation, and yet … the holidays can also feel like a lot of pressure to perform, to conform, to consume.

Here, we share our thoughts on navigating this season with your sanity and sense of inner peace intact.

From challenging the shop-and-spend cycle, to speaking your truth without inciting unnecessary conflict, we advocate for creating a satisfying holiday experience — your way.

And of course, we offer you some experiments to get you started in that direction, even as the holiday madness kicks into full swing.

P.S. We also happily announce our new sponsorship by Experience Life magazine, and the special, discounted subscription offer and free e-newsletters now available to The Living Experiment listeners.

“Holidays” Episode Highlights

  • Thanksgiving as the model for what the holiday season could be — a celebration of gratitude for life, family and friends — rather than the frenzied weeks of hyper-commercialism and stress it has become
  • Pilar and Dallas share their childhood experiences of Christmas, and their enduring preferences for simpler, less commercial celebration strategies
  • Tips for getting along with people you disagree with at holiday gatherings, and why it’s important to expose yourself to different viewpoints
  • Challenging the assumption that you have to be someone you’re not at family parties, or do the same things with the same people every year
  • Substituting experiences for objects at gift-giving holidays
  • The mismatch of social and consumer pressure with the quiet inwardness that naturally feels good in winter

Feel free to indulge in some unhealthy seasonal treats, but not just because they are there. Pick only those foods that offer a truly rich physical or emotional-social experience.

Consciously design a pleasurable, beautiful experience that is just for you. It could be decorating your home, taking a candle-lit hot bath, having an electronics-free evening, or making a special meal or drink. It shouldn’t be expensive or consume a lot of time. Revel in the experience and note how much satisfaction it brings.

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Resources

PLUS …

The Health of Others

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about the health of others — the struggles we face in trying to influence the choices of those we care about, and the opportunities we have to offer appropriate support without creating unhelpful stress and resentment for all involved.

From dealing with the real impact that others people’s health-depleting habits can have on our lives, to acknowledging the folly of trying to move anyone before they are ready, we explore the sometimes painful space of meeting and loving people where they are — even when we can see them going downhill fast.

Sharing insights from well-respected behavior-change models as well as our own real-life experiences, we offer strategies for making peace with what is, while still holding open the door to healthy evolution — if and when our loved ones seem ready to embrace it.

And of course, we offer you some experiments to help you re-frame your approach to addressing the health challenges of the ones you love.

“The Health of Others” Episode Highlights

  • Becoming a model for change by transforming yourself
  • Providing supportive cues for others, rather than trying to force them into change
  • Understanding Prochaska’s stages-of-change model, and the real-life continuum of “readiness to change”
  • How trying to change the people you love can lead to co-dependent behaviors and contribute to your own health crises
  • Recognizing the right of others to make their own decisions, and to deal in their own way with the consequences
  • Health and fitness differences as a common source of conflict for couples
  • Three questions of interest: What matters to you (or to us as a couple)? What are you planning to do? How can I support you?
  • Conversing with aging parents, and the fear and pain behind our desire to make them live a healthier life
  • Taking the opportunity to work on your own responses and reactions to wanting someone else to change before they are ready

Talk to someone who matters to you and whose health concerns you. Tell them openly about your feelings and fears as well as the hopes and desires that underlie your investment in their well-being — but with zero expectation that they will agree and without any pressure for them to take action. Then be willing to listen and observe. See what happens when you share your authentic feelings in the context of a vulnerable, empathetic conversation, rather than doling out judgments, instructions, and expectations. 

Think about someone in your life who is struggling with their health, and try to identify which of the six stages of change they’re in (pre-contemplation, contemplation, etc.). As you become more skilled at identifying the stages of readiness, and understanding what they entail, you’ll become more discerning about what kinds of support are likely to be most helpful, and when. 

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Resources

PLUS …

Conscious Eating

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking Conscious Eating — the art of more fully enjoying your eating experiences and relating to your food in healthier ways.

We explore how rushed and unconscious eating tends to stoke body’s stress response, and also how it undermines digestion.

We look at how distracted eating robs you of satisfaction and numbs you to your body’s natural satiety signals.

We share some practical techniques for bringing more awareness to your pacing, posture, breathing, and sensory experience.

Finally, we offer you some experiments that invite you to begin developing your own approach to conscious eating — starting with your very next meal.

“Conscious Eating” Episode Highlights

  • How you eat is as important as what you eat — Pilar and Dallas share their background with building mindful eating habits
  • Chewing as a self-soothing action, and all of the pro-digestive and metabolic signals that occur even before food enters your mouth
  • Being present in the experience of eating — taking time to notice how your food looks and smells
  • Slowing down the eating process by thoroughly chewing and enjoying flavors and textures
  • The stress-busting benefits of good eating posture (and posture in general)
  • Why interacting with technology while eating works against conscious eating
  • The important role meals can play in promoting ultradian rhythm breaks (what Pilar calls “URBs”)
  • Our human need for pleasure and beauty, and how mindful eating is a healthy way to feed it
  • Seven suggestions for integrating healthy eating (via an article in Experience Life magazine): eliminate distractions, slow down, sit tall and still, breathe, take small bites, chew thoroughly, and enjoy

Set aside one meal to eat on your own and try at least two of the seven suggestions, starting with removing all distractions. Notice how trying one technique might lead you to naturally adopt some of the others.

The next time you eat a meal, put your phone away. Take note of how that makes you feel — awkward, uncomfortable, anxious, self-conscious, etc. — especially if you’re eating in public.

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Resources

PLUS …

Body Image

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Body Image, and exploring the challenges of maintaining a positive self-regard in our body-shaming culture.

From disturbing statistics about widespread self-loathing to pop-culture and media trends that appear to be making matters worse, we explore the individual and collective costs of promoting unachievable, hyper-perfected body ideals.

We also share some of our own body-image insights, including the places we struggle to shape healthy values and viewpoints in the face of dysfunctional social programming.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you develop more awareness about your own sense of body-image, and to evolve it in ways that work for you.

“Body Image” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar shares some statistics about how common negative body image is and the effect it’s having on both kids and adults
  • How weight and appearance affect both women and men not just in romance, but in the workplace
  • Why the public outcry against hyper-perfected body ideals doesn’t seem to have meaningfully changed the pursuit of those ideals
  • Believing it’s possible to be truly happy by living in line with your values and prioritizing a healthy, happy body, rather than a “perfect” one
  • Thinking beyond physical attractiveness as an important feature of a potential date/mate
  • Challenging the notion that beautiful people are more important, more gratifying to be around, or any happier than anybody else
  • The value of trading self-criticism and self-loathing for self-appreciation and self-respect

For 10 minutes, in public, move the way you would move as if you loved the way you look. Observe what happens.

For the next week, strive to avoid, clear, or ignore all the images that make you feel bad about your body (magazines, catalogs, social feeds, TV, etc.). Notice first how hard it is to tear your eyes away from these pictures, then notice how much time and energy you could reclaim for yourself by opting out of them. At the end of the week, evaluate whether they hold less power for you and/or whether you are more conscious of their intrusion into your life. For bonus points, send yourself a loving message every time you see one of these images.

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Resources

PLUS …

Astroturfing

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Astroturfing — the insidious and increasingly common strategy by which special interests create the illusion of grass-roots movements in order to manipulate public opinion, promote unpopular policies, and even subvert elections.

From shady mis-information campaigns waged by Big Business to the rise of “fake news” and fake social-media feeds created with the express purpose of dividing a nation, we’re seeing the emergence of a new and highly effective form of public brainwashing.

So here, we explore the potential this sort of dis-information has to undermine our media and democracy. We look at how astroturfing is being used to mess with our minds, influence our behavior, and to subvert our common interests.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you get wise to how astroturfing works, and where it might be showing up in your own life.

“Astroturfing” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar and Dallas share their first-hand experiences with astroturfing
  • A current example of astroturfing — Russia’s widespread efforts to influence recent elections in the U.S. and Europe
  • Other issues, industries, and topics where astroturfing is common
  • How organizers of these campaigns use social and mass media to spread their messages
  • The influence that fake news, social-media polling, and personal attacks can have on legitimate journalists, compounding astroturfing’s reach and impact
  • How to recognize astroturfing, and why it’s so difficult to publicly uncover and extinguish
  • Avoiding the herd mentality that astroturfers rely on
  • The importance (and practical challenges) of doing deeper research before forwarding, sharing, or reversing your own position based on what looks like strong “public” or “scientific” support (but isn’t)

Pick a notable new thing you’ve learned online in the last year — some idea that really grabbed you or that changed your opinion. Think about how you came upon that new idea, whether you spent any time at all checking out its legitimacy, and if groupthink played any part in your perception of reality.

Check out an item from the Resources section below to educate yourself about what astroturfing is, how it works, and for whom. See if these new insights inspire you to become a more discerning media consumer, and if you can now better spot astroturfing when you see it. 

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Resources

PLUS …

Television

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Television — the often too-dominant role it has in our lives, and the opportunities we have to right-size its presence in our reality.

We take a look at just how much time Americans are spending watching TV, and why that might be. We also look at the high cost of all that screen time, and we explore some more rewarding alternatives.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you evaluate your own relationship with television, and how you might like to see it evolve.

“Television” Episode Highlights

  • The real goal of most television programs: hook your attention for advertisers
  • The many reasons that “vegging out” in front of the TV or playing video games is a stress-inducing distraction rather a recuperative activity
  • Why using TV or other similar diversions to avoid unresolved situations with ourselves or other people only leads to larger problems
  • The fear mongering model of television news programs, and how it creates chronic anxiety and overwhelm
  • The responsibility we all have to ourselves and our loved ones to wisely choose how we spend our precious free time
  • Dallas and Pilar share their current relationships with TV, and their preferred alternatives
  • Children and media use, including so-called “educational” programming

Kill your TV for 30 days — no movies, no shows, no news programs — and consider unplugging or covering all the devices that connect you to your TV. Notice what else changes in your life, and how you feel if you decide to turn the TV back on at the end of the month.

1) Sit down to watch TV like you normally do, but set a timer to alert you at some point mid-program. When the timer goes off, freeze. Keep your face and body exactly as they were, and take a selfie in the exact physical and psychological state you were in while watching. Notice what you look like when you’re being passively “entertained” in this way, and ask yourself if that’s how you want to be.

2) Make a list of a dozen things you would enjoy doing as an alternative to watching television — things that make your life more beautiful and enhance your pleasure in being alive. If you run out of ideas, walk through your front door and look around with fresh eyes at what projects or activities might be awaiting your attention.

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Resources

PLUS …

Feeding Healthy Kids

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Feeding Healthy Kids — the challenges involved with that, and the choices that matter most.

We talk about overcoming the unhealthy eating habits today’s children are culturally programmed to adopt, and how parents can successfully sway their children toward healthier preferences — even in the face of dietary mixed messages and misinformation.

We explore how nutrition can influence both kids’ current health status and their future health outcomes.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you nudge your own family in healthier directions.

“Feeding Healthy Kids” Episode Highlights

  • The confusing messages parents receive from government guidelines, nutrition “experts,” mass media, and ubiquitous marketing from the processed-food industry
  • Two words for a healthy diet from birth through adulthood: Whole foods
  • Getting and keeping kids on a healthy path: Parental modeling of enthusiasm for healthy living, honest conversations about food choices, preparing meals at home as a family, and (sometimes) tough love
  • Why nutritious eating at any age — and embracing a healthy lifestyle in general — requires active rejection of a lot of our cultural norms (a great example of what Pilar calls “Healthy Deviance”)
  • Tips for healthy meals (including school lunch), and why it’s OK to meet kids in the middle while they’re transitioning to better nutrition
  • Paying attention to symptoms of food sensitivities in your children — digestive and skin problems and earaches are the most common — and how elimination diets can help pinpoint the problem

Start the day with your kids, eating a meal of protein and vegetables (example: Eggs, sausage and wilted greens). Talk with them about how they feel after eating a healthy breakfast, and how it compares to eating a breakfast laden with flour and sugar.

Consider the health status of kids a few years older than your own. Notice the health problems they’re beginning to develop — weight issues, allergies, skin conditions, asthma, attention and behavior challenges, etc. Evaluate whether it might be worth making some changes now in the service of warding off any future food-and-lifestyle related troubles for your own children. Regardless of what you decide to do, empower yourself with proactive inquiry rather than feeling a victim of inevitability.

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Resources

PLUS …

Autumn

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Autumn. This is the final installment in a series of episodes we’ve built around Dallas’s Seasonal Model of Health, and if you’ve listened to the others, you know they all include explorations of the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of the season.

In this episode, we consider Autumn’s contracting energy. We look at how it encourages our bodies and minds to wind down the high energy of summer and, as Dallas puts it, “start coming home” for the winter to come.

From seasonal nutrition, fitness, and sleep recommendations to self-care and decluttering wisdom based in Chinese Five Element Theory (thank you, Cat Thompson!), we share suggestions rooted in science and personal experience. And of course we offer you some autumnal experiments to help you make the most of this beautiful season in your own way.

“Autumn” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas recaps his Seasonal Model of Health — balancing your life in accordance with natural seasonal shifts
  • Autumn as the transition between the frenetic energy of summer and the quiet inwardness of winter, and as the celebration of the productivity of the year
  • Our cultural tendency to celebrate productivity with perpetual over-consumption
  • Fall’s association with the metal element in Chinese Five Element Theory, and the emotion of grief
  • Autumn nutrition from what’s available locally — dark leafy greens, root vegetables, hearty soups and stews, and warm breakfasts that tend to be higher in protein and fat than the carbohydrate-rich diet of summer
  • Why it’s OK to gain a little weight in the fall
  • Adjusting our sleep patterns and bedtime rituals with the shortening daylight, and with the energy wind-down of pre-winter
  • Autumnal social re-connection in line with your energetic capacity
  • Varying your fitness activities to match the season, and the higher-intensity, shorter duration focus of fall exercise
  • How to keep yourself healthy without relying on flu shots and toxic antibacterial products

Call the three to five most important people in your life, family or friends, and find the time to catch up with them in person, in an intimate environment. Get together with each one of them at least once over the next few weeks.

1) Sometime this week, take a look around your space, identify a drawer or closet that has accumulated too much stuff, and clear it out.

2) If you’re a habitual television watcher or other electronics user, try going without that stimulation for an evening. Instead, lower the lights and dedicate that time to quiet contemplation or some other wind-down ritual. Notice if you sleep a lot better that night.

Healthy-Living Wisdom, Delivered to Your Door

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Resources

PLUS …

Breaking Up

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Breaking Up — the factors that shape our decisions to end a romantic relationship, and the strategies that can make that a somewhat better experience for all involved.

We talk about the difficulties of knowing when to call it quits, the pains involved with that process, and also some opportunities that decision represents.

We share some of our own break-up insights, and as always, we offer you some experiments to help you evaluate your own breakup experiences in ways that serve your relationships now, and in the future.

“Breaking Up” Episode Highlights

  • Pilar and Dallas share their personal breakup experiences, and the wisdom they gained in the process
  • The cycles that occur in most long-term relationships; and the fear of failure and scarcity that keeps people in unhealthy, doomed situations
  • Skills for getting through the lows that might otherwise result in a breakup, including compassion, communication, self-respect, emotional intelligence and a willingness to be vulnerable
  • How to know when a breakup is the best, healthiest option (hint: there’s no simple answer)
  • The importance of understanding and admitting your responsibility in a troubled relationship, and of forgiving yourself and the other person if it ends
  • Leaving (and staying out of) abusive relationships
  • How one person in a couple can make a difference

Examine your past breakups and look for patterns. Can you regard the other person with more compassion and take some responsibility (if you haven’t already) for the dynamics that brought on the breakup? And can you have compassion for yourself for doing the best you could at the time? Think about how these insights might help you in your current or future relationships.

Look back at your past relationships, and think about the points of friction that led you to end them. Is there a pattern that points to something you don’t like about yourself? Is it showing up in your current relationship, or do you want it to be there in the future?

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Resources

  PLUS …

Asking

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Asking — the art and importance of making requests based on your authentic desires, and the role that sort of enlightened asking can play in helping you create a more satisfying life.

We explore the perceived risks and fears of loss we tend to encounter in asking other people for anything — whether favors, changes, or resources.

We also address the opportunities that asking gives us to create more intimacy and connection with others, even as it helps us build a more compassionate and courageous relationship with ourselves.

Finally, we suggest some tips for more successful asking experiences, and we offer you some experiments to help you explore the transformative possibilities that asking might open up in your own life.

“Asking” Episode Highlights

  • Our cultural bias against inconveniencing others by asking for what we want, and the paradox of expecting to get what we want if we don’t make our desires known
  • The career freedom Pilar discovered when she realized — through asking — that her most essential desires were never going to be met in her current job
  • Why a lot of our default ways of trying to get what we want tend not to work out so well
  • Understanding our core desires, and exploring fears around the possible outcomes of expressing those desires
  • The feelings of frustration and inadequacy created by not being honest about what we truly want
  • Finding the good in the situation as it is, uncovering the seed of desire, and involving others in our improved health and happiness
  • Strategies for honest expression of our wants and needs that will help everyone feel good, regardless of the outcome

As you listened to this episode you probably thought of at least one thing you would like to ask for. Ask for it now.

Think about requests you’ve received from other people. Pick one that felt good to receive, and one that was harder to handle. Notice what made those asks feel the way they did, and explore the relational dynamics at play. The next time you ask for something, keep those insights in mind. Get started with a small request.

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Resources

  • Guidance for tapping into and understanding your desires from Danielle LaPorte.
  • Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk and book on “The Art of Asking”.
  • “Talk RX”, a fascinating feature on the healing power of authentic communication by Neha Sangwan, MD, via Experience Life magazine.
  • Related: our episode on the art of “Saying No”, which might help you feel better about asking and being declined, or declining the requests of others.
  • Our guest episode on “Winning Cycles” (featuring Morehouse teachers Boris Shekeloff and Sugar Goens-Baranco) which centers on a brilliant way of asking for what you want, and of building intimacy the process.

PLUS …

Intuition

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Intuition — the signals we get from our unconscious mind, and the powerful part they can play in directing us toward our own best choices.

From the science of intuition and its intimate relationship with our intestinal tract, to the concept of “thin slicing,” in which our brain processes more data than our conscious awareness can keep up with, we explore the essentials and finer points of what many call our sixth sense.

And of course, we offer you experiments to own and hone the signals your intuition is sending you.

“Intuition” Episode Highlights

  • Defining intuition, or our “gut sense,” and why we associate these unconscious feelings and insights with our gut rather than our brains or hearts
  • The subtle differences between intuition, instinct and wisdom
  • The imperfect science of learning when to trust your intuition and when to second guess it — and the influence of prejudices
  • Using your body’s signals to discern between the excitement of a positive intuitive “hit” and a warning instinct
  • How continuous over-stimulation is numbing our ability to sift out the useful data from the noise, and the dangers of allowing the noise to overrun our inner wisdom

Think about a decision you have to make. Within two seconds, based on your gut feeling, say out loud what your decision is.

1) If you’re a person who has a hard time making a decision, make a game of challenging yourself to make low-importance decisions (like a menu choice) quickly. Notice what you learn from that experience — the education that comes from every decision you make, good or bad — and see if your fear of choosing the “wrong” thing diminishes over time.

2) The next time you have to make a decision, flip a coin and notice your reaction to the heads-or-tails result. If you get a sinking feeling based on that outcome, that’s your signal to go with the other choice.

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Resources

PLUS …

Winning Cycles

This week on The Living Experiment, we bring you the fourth and final episode in our pilot series featuring teachers from Lafayette Morehouse.

For the background on this series, check out the introduction to Lafayette Morehouse Episode 1, on “Resistance to Pleasure.”

In this episode, Pilar talks to teachers Boris Shekeloff and Sugar Goens-Baranco about a concept they call “Winning Cycles” — a friendly, productive way of asking for what you want, and of creating a positive experience for the other person in the process.

A lot of the Morehouse philosophy focuses on creating and sustaining satisfying, mutually pleasurable relationships with others, and particularly in intimate relationships. Here, Sugar and Boris explain how Winning Cycles work, and why they can be a valuable tool for achieving that goal.

All the episodes in this special series were recorded live on location at the Lafayette Morehouse campus, in Lafayette, California. You can find out more about the place, and the courses offered there, at the main Lafayette Morehouse site and in the related episodes listed in the resources section, below.

“Winning Cycles” Episode Highlights

  • “Two ways to win, one way to lose” — getting good with things the way they are, changing the circumstances to better meet your liking, or … doing nothing and suffering the consequences
  • Why it’s easier to make changes when you accept a situation and find some good with the way it is — while also seeing the opportunity to make it better — rather than starting from the notion that it’s all bad or wrong
  • The training cycle for interpersonal relationships: Start with a genuine statement of approval; request one small, easy change; and gratefully acknowledge movement in the right direction
  • How that differs dramatically both from typical modes of complaint and disapproval, and from the manipulative, disingenuous “compliment sandwich”
  • How to identify when you’re choosing to lose, the importance of appreciation, and small steps for moving towards winning

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If you’re enjoying The Living Experiment, please tell your friends about it. People are always looking for great new podcasts, and your personal recommendations mean a lot.

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Resources

PLUS …

Therapy

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Therapy — the role it can play in our personal healing and evolution, and our suggestions for employing it in the service of your highest goals.

We both share a little bit about our own positive experiences working with therapists, and what we took away from our sessions.

We also talk about how therapy is different from coaching, why both can have a role in our personal growth and success, and how to go about finding a qualified therapist that’s right for you.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you explore whether therapy might benefit you at this point in your life.

“Therapy” Episode Highlights

  • The reasons Dallas and Pilar have sought therapy, and what they got out of it
  • Finding a good therapist that’s right for you, starting with defining what you want help with
  • Thinking about a therapist like a personal trainer for your mental patterns and emotional processing
  • The importance of knowing, understanding, loving and forgiving yourself — and how therapy can free you from what’s holding you back
  • The difference between life coaching and therapy — “from here forward” vs. “life up to now and beyond” — and why you might choose one modality over the other, or both
  • Cost as a barrier to seeking help, some tips for lessening the financial burden, and therapeutic techniques that teach you tools in just a few sessions

Look at the “Do I Need Therapy?” quiz or the “8 Signs You Should See a Therapist” article and see what it brings up for you.

If you’ve never been to therapy, try at least one session; if it doesn’t feel right, find another therapist. If you haven’t been to a therapy in a while, recommit.

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Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig it, please do! Every recommendation from you means a lot.

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Resources

PLUS …

Summer

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Summer — a season so full of potential, projects, and activities, it can leave you feeling exhausted.

So in this episode, we talk about how to make the most of summer, while coming through it as healthy and happy as you want to be, and while setting yourself up for the fall season to come.

Dallas shares wisdom drawn from his Seasonal Model of Health, including tips for nutrition, fitness and sleep. Pilar offers insights for managing your physical and emotional energy.

And of course, we offer you some experiments to help you enjoy summer’s best gifts in ways that work for you.

“Summer” Episode Highlights

  • Dallas discusses his Seasonal Model of Health — balancing your life with the seasons and the available daylight
  • Summer as the season of productivity, abundance and consumption of new ideas, and the biochemical roller coaster of the seasons
  • Why getting stuck year-round in the stressful go-go summer cycle is hard on our emotional and physical health
  • The fire energy of summer in the Chinese Five-Element Theory
  • Summer nutrition — locally-available, nutrient-dense, organic animal proteins and plants — and the relationship between the season of activity and an abundance of available antioxidant foods
  • Taking a moderate, pleasure-based approach to seasonal fruits
  • Varying your fitness activities to match the season, and the lower-intensity outdoor focus of summer

1) If you’re not exercising or don’t normally take a morning walk, go outdoors and walk for 15 minutes first thing in the morning.

2) If you have a structured, high-intensity exercise program, take a break and focus more on spontaneous, lower-intensity movement.

When you go shopping for food, find two vegetables and two fruits that are in season and that are different colors — for example, raspberries and tangerines, or radishes (sliced with butter and salt!) and leafy greens. Stretch a little beyond what you normally eat, and incorporate a rainbow of foods into all of your meals.

Share the Love!

Have you told your friends and family about The Living Experiment? If you dig it, please do! Every recommendation from you means a lot.

We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.

Resources

PLUS …

Forgiveness

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Forgiveness: The important role it plays in our health and happiness, and the rich opportunities it can offer — if and when we’re ready to embrace them.

We talk about our own personal experiences with forgiveness, and we share some expert recommendations for approaching forgiveness in ways that are healthy, safe and rewarding.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you more fully explore the potential of forgiveness in your own life.

“Forgiveness” Episode Highlights

  • “Forgive and evolve” vs. “forgive and forget” — the value of learning from our experiences before moving on
  • Pilar shares her most significant opportunity for forgiveness and personal growth following a childhood trauma
  • Dallas reflects on what causes people to hurt ea