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#103: Sally Quinn, Walking the Labyrinth

2017-10-11
When author and journalist Sally Quinn needs a moment of peace or clarity, she said, "I walk the labyrinth." A labyrinth walk has long represented a journey or pilgrimage and Quinn uses it for walking meditation -- her late husband, legendary Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, even built one for her at their Maryland estate. Quinn, who launched the Post's 'On Faith' website as a self-proclaimed atheist, talks about her new memoir, "Finding Magic," her notorious D.C. dinner parties and discovering meaning in her life through the years she spent caring for Bradlee as he suffered with dementia, their son, who had heart defect and severe learning disabilities, and her ailing parents.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Sally Glenn, as you're about to here, is a character of great character. She rose to journalistic notoriety in prominence at the Washington Post as the style reporter she really covered. The Washington Dc Social seen for many many years was a big part of the scene. She ended up man, Ben Bradley, the editor of the famous editor of the of the Washington Post, who was the editor dirt yeah, Pentagon papers and and and Watergate, and later on, got interested and faded, spirituality and started a website for the Washington Post called on faith and during which I am. She had a transformation being an atheist to something else. What that something else is a let her disk in this interview. She's also got her own, I would say, brow end of meditation. You know I'm when I talk about meditation, mostly I'm talking about mindfulness meditation pay attention your breath when he at last start again, but I'm.
I always very open about the fact that the word meditation as you'll hear me saying this conversation is a little bit like the word sports, in that it describes a whole range of activities and and you're in here, a very smart person. A very interesting person talk about the kind of meditation that she's kind of this- I am for herself also about her transformation, as, as I said, from from a self atheist into something else, and she broadly just. drives that something else as magic which she talks about length in her new book finding magic, a spiritual memoir which is just out so without further ado you're for a treat. Here's eloquent on our new book for maybe see this is a ten percent happier Podcast Dan, her feminine. Delighted to read the on the book? Well, it was,
and a half years in the writing, and I am now feeling puss partum depression really really kind of everything. We have only written one and a half books, but I am like post partum elation, so happy it's over, well. You know that the end of writing a book is really a nightmare because your on deadline- it was horrible, but actually, I love writing and I love the process yeah so until the last couple of months when we were under a lot of pressure, I was just really happy. in my own writing world seventy years ago, heat ray you know I said this assembly yesterday. I was interviewing being interviewed by another writer and I said I love writing. He said you: what love I can't remember which famous writer was who said that you know the writing is easy. You just sit down at the computer and wait until the blood runs out of your fingers. I feel like I'm like
being my insides out and putting them up on the screen and then having this depression. Realisation that it they're not even that interesting over and over there is that the problem as reading it again again and again, and then you think, really did you know any delay we care, that's the stage I met. I claim this next book. I'm knows that could read through red thread through, but I have to say it took a lot of bravery for you to write about the stuff you write about. So I surprising for me to hear that you enjoy the process, because get really raw in this. Really right, yeah. Well, you know you could, a certain age and you sort of think I have nothing to hide there's nothing that I'm ashamed of and I don't feel bad or guilty, and and as long as I can be truthful and authentic. what matters to me and it just
assuming that people respond better. If you are telling the truth about yourself and and they can, they can serve, you're more accessible. That way, I don't. I don't think that anything I wrote was really overly. revealing, but I know a lot of my friends said You know I learn so much about you and there was so much so many things about you that I didn't know in so many things you'd been through, and certainly we do. You know that tales about my son, Quince heart surgery, this many years after that we went through when he had severe. Learning, disabilities and all that and and my parents, listen and their subsequent death and then, of course, my husband Ben Bradley's, dementia and his sort of decline and death. And your front line. Caregiving anarchists, yes case, yes, and the thing is that they were
whole book Amandas call finding magic and its and is really about what's the meaning of life, and of course I had to, yeah. I didn't write the prologue the epilogue until I actually had finished the book, because I wasn't sure what it was about it because it started writing a book. I had gotten a book contract to write a book about how I had started this religion website for the Washington Post call on faith as an atheist and then I signed the book contract and then Ben started to his decline and it I couldn't write. I just was undone by an and also exhausted, and I had I just had nothing to give. I didn't need Jews, and so I was unable to write and then it was about two or three weeks after he died that I thought I could write this. I have to write this. I have to get it out and I started writing about his death and about his dementia and his death
and- and I thought maybe that's where the book would start as it turned out- that's the end of the book. We, I realized once I got into the ended the book that that's not the way, I wanted to present ban and the first having been. Was this incredible, serve charismatic dynamic, energetic, wonderful, sexy, fabulous guy and a historic figure initiatives that I wanted people to see the ban before they saw the demise wish just explain who he is for those anybody who'd world the best way right now, sir, I am Bradley Editor of the Washington Post, water Watergate. You know you if you ve seen all oppressed. man, you see him for trade, so you he is a tower figure out on by the way was also tall. Yes, new elements, six feet tub by the way, there's gonna be an HBO documentary documentary about him coming two November great and and then there's a movie that Steven Spielberg is doing on the Pentagon papers,
and Tom Hanks is playing ban and middle street as planned. Catherine Gram, so In any case, I I just decided that one I finished the book, and then I decided to write that prolonging the epilogue. I had to what the meaning of the book was, what the point of the book was, and I was Deadlines had about two months to figure out the meaning of life, but I did at least for me, you know what what was meaningful to me in my life- and it was said of oppression of once, finished writing about bends demise I then started writing about my childhood and what is its spiritual memoir, it's called finding magic and The idea is that I took stories from much life. All through my life, that
have some significance that had some sort of epiphany or some something that was illuminating or something that was spiritual or sacred. That happened to me that that set of was throughout. This virtual experience that I had all this time I'm taking. I was an atheist that to me. Finally, after starting this religion website, tone studying face different faiths and true. going around the world studying face. It realised that I wasn't tonight is an and then I had to sort of figure out. What it was that I actually believed in and what was important to me in my life. There are so many things in these several paragraphs. you just uttered that I want to follow up on and we will follow up on those. So many beats in your biography, though I wanna hit. Let me they just kind of project, given that we are at least ostensibly a meditation related podcast. Let me start with that angle and then see where it takes us. So I we had lunch
couple months ago. You mentioned me that you did that you would been meditating. Can you just tell me how you got into that? What your practice is and what it's done for you my brother, is a Buddhist and he meditates every day and so on You know it's fascinated by the process, but what they got me started was some. Twenty years ago I went to a health, Spa, California, and they had this. Then called labyrinth, which I had never heard of and a labyrinth is normally think of it as a maze, but it's a large circle and its it isn't a maze you walk in and out and around until you get the center, but you don't get lost in it, and It's a meditation tool. And they have won on the floor of shark cathedral. I think the original one was in Crete actually, but they one in Grace Cathedral
in San Francisco and this house by hard copy that one which was copied from them a short cathedral and so I went to this house by they said you know. You really should try this that sounds to new energy, and I don't think I'm Nero but these have all you know a lot of businessmen come out here and they walk the labyrinth and they say it change their lives so that well that's kind of interesting. So I happen. I walked with a number of people that evening, and I say, like the experience there were a lot of people walking it in you know in an out and there were two churches and there was music and it was night time and it was it was just a very pleasant experience, but I didn't really get much out of it, but the next day I went up it was in this grove of LIVE oak trees up on a hill, overlooking the spot, and I went up in the late afternoon and there was no one there, and so I decided to walk it on my own. The idea is that you? U pictures
thing in your mind. You focus on something a problem or an issue is something you care about that you want to focus on, and and so I started thinking about my son Quinn. I had gone to the spa because Quinn was born with a heart defect. He was sick for the first sixteen years of his life, and I was in and out of the hospital and enduring this time. He was about seven or eight. I was just exhausted and my husband insisted that I get away I'd, never left him for even overnight. And I just needed this and to start concentrating on Quinn and I walked than I ended up sitting down the center of the labyrinth and as my eyes, and I began to meditate I meditated for under, even though how long it was, how do you define meditation and as well for me it it's just trying to blank your mind.
And I can do it now at first, it was really hard cause. You know you, you knew closure my eyes, a new sort of was try to think of. a thing and suddenly everything comes into your head and a lot of people feel they can. do meditation because they d think it doesn't work. But of course it does. Work is just that the union- you do have ideas that come in your head when you meditate, but for me I just then to almost a trance. I just I saw nothing and I I thought of nothing and I find it impossible to do and another military for like time. I find that I have to focus on something like my breath, think comes, and I gotta go back to where no no, but I was I was breathing, I mean then what about breathing and how important it was. So I was concentrating on my brow. Ok, nano is concentrating on my breath, but not ideal is about. You know
you know. What am I gonna? Do I'm having a dinner party next week and do I have to who should I buy? They wasn't that kind of thing, and I opened my eyes, and I looked up and right in front of me- was this huge fir tree evergreen enormous evergreen tree that had these huge branches that looked as if they were reaching out to embrace, right in the middle of this grove of LIVE oak trees. The only tree that was not a live oak tree and I looked at this tree and I thought that is, Clan Quinn is different from all of the other kids and me had severe learning disabilities and even have any friends and- and he was sick, and I thought that's Quinn He is not like the other trees, but he is more, beautiful than all the other trees and just that moment, I knew that Quinn was gonna, be ok and adjust. Action now
were felt so happy in my life. I just I was trance, don't come in in my feeling of just bliss and so I became a devotee of the the elaborate in the following year. We I had made a reservation to come out, mainly because I wanted to walk the labyrinth again and queen was scheduled to have a task to children's hospital and it was like an iq test and So I said I was going to postpone it and then said: look you know that uses nothing. You can do I'll, take him to the test and you go on out there. So I said okay, but at the moment that he was taking the test. I decided to go up to the events in the middle of the day the same moment and I walked and I sat there alone in the middle of the labyrinth, focusing on Quinn and breathing and meditating for the whole hour that I knew he would be taking the test and when
came back, they called the sand and for the report and they were very grim face and the doktor said you know we're sorry. tell you, but he did really badly on the test it just. He just didn't score at all. However, The one really interesting thing is that he scored on one part of the tests than anyone we have ever tested, and I said what was that- and they said the maize so after that I was blown away and been built me elaborate than are a farm down in the country for a birthday who is present and he had the same guy. Who did the one it grace Cathedral come out in its fifty foot in circumference sits on a hill, overlooking the Saint Mary's River and its unbelievably peaceful, and for when I go and meditate I go there, I walked the lab every time there and sometime I'll go.
And sit and meditate four hours I dont even how long I'm there, sometimes it's couple of hours. Sometimes I'll be fifteen or twenty minutes. It just depends one day I was in the center of the labyrinth than I was meditating and I laid down said it with arms and legs out and all of a sudden. This little plain came over I started circling around around around my thought: they think I'm dead, Stephen person, but I just find that it gives me a sense of clarity that nothing Does it different from prayer, but I just feel always come away with something when I walk the labyrinth and now I'm on the board of children's hospital, because children been Quinn was children's hospital for so long, which did indeed Washington, Dc C, and we just built a healing garden upstairs on the roof of the hospital and an. I got them to put a labyrinth up there so that parents and children can work
the labyrinth. As you know, there are a lot of hospitals have who have which have them now and lots of churches to because people just find them and in the national cathedral, and Washington has two labyrinth that they put, once a month and have labyrinth walks in music and at night and candles get we'll geeky in granular with me on what you do with your mind. as you are walking the labyrinth and how that's different, if at all from the start seated or lying down meditation that you do when you reach the centre well usually? What I do is I focus on something like quince, health or bends, health or after Ben died. You know I was sort of in this bubble of grief for at least a year where I I would walk the labyrinth and I would just concentrate the grief and how I could deal with that. Greece
I could get on with my life because there were times when I didn't feel I wanted to or could so I start the labyrinth. and I actually in my labyrinth, ended it is surrounded by river stones and I've ask all my friends to give me some trinket or something that belongs to them. That is, has no monetary value, but that is meaningful to them like a coin or whatever might be and I buried all of these things around the labyrinth, so that I've- I have this sense of feeling totally supported by all of my friends. I have a little My mother's ashes there, and my father's Buffalo nickel for went from when he was in? Korea and he was had commanding officer buffaloes. He was Buffalo bill and I have things from. when and ban and and my close friends and
So when I started the labyrinth assist, I I sort of have this little ritual, where I kind of embrace all of my friends and and so I have asked for their support. And then I will focus on whatever it is, whether its quince health or bends health or my grief or something and so I walk, you walk very slowly as you. into the labyrinth, and you just view is slowly and very methodically just focus on what it is. You know whether it is just say it's grief help me get over this help me. How can I get over this grieve? How can I deal with it. How can I go on? Let me want to go on and then, the centre and sometimes I ll sit down sometimes I'll stand up. Sometimes I lie down and I'm looking out at the river and the usual close my eyes and and then focus again
on what it is that that I'm concentrating on that that I want clarity and I stay there until something comes to me. Some sense of clarity. And one day I was there on that, and I opened my eyes and I looked up in the river and there were these two boats and one of them was this beautiful sailboat and it was sailing very calmly and softly along peacefully, and then there was this kind of jet boat. You know cigarette bout, it was kind of zooming around here the river and making a lot of noise, and I sort of thought I want to be a sailboat I don't wanna, be the cigarette boat Maybe I've been a cigarette boat earlier in my life you know, but that's not who I am anymore. That's not what I want to be. I want to be the sailboat. I want to be calm and peaceful and happy and not sort of having to get there fast and go there. So
that just gives you an idea of the kind of little moments of clarity that you have, and I am certainly with Kwannon looking at those trees, because that changed my life and it changed my whole idea about who Quint was that day. I came back and looked at clan and I thought he is more beautiful than all the others he's just different, It's interesting to hear you scribe, is because clearly this practice, which has done so much for you on either hand it's actually quite different from the way. I would imagine your brother, the Buddhist or me as a Buddhist. Slash mindfulness. Guy practice is what we call quantum quote meditation by the way. The word meditation. as has been said before, is a little bit like the word sports described the whole range activities and so, but but really speaking. The way meditation is taught today is focusing your breath with you, start again or focus on a month, when he at last start again, will you seem to have a kind of any of this
my word invented a practice for yourself that is loaded different, but You have done a great deal for you. You know I didn't in my book finding magic about this book that I read, which I loved and it's called a religion of ones And I realized, when I read this book, that it was written for me because I have my own religion. People ask me now: what's your religion cause, I was an atheist, I no longer an atheist and did travel around the world and when I started the website, I didn't know anything about religion. My friend John meets him whose or religion scholar and a writer said of art with me and talk me out of being an atheist and gave me a list of books to read about religion, and I read them, and then I took a trip around the world to study the great fates and I have been studying Thinking about
urgent interviewing people for the last eleven years, and I so what I what I ve done is in some way. Cherry picked, the things that I like from different faiths, a lot of things I dont like about religion and certain legends and there a lot of things I do It's not a word that people and organise religions like cherry picking, they want you to just by the whole package, and so, I created this religion of my own, which works for me and what I write about in the book. Is that it just it's so personal? Will you put three thousand people in them? national cathedral or in a Moscow synagogue. Every one of those people has a different view of God or. the creator whatever and a different put the relationship personal relationship with that being or he or
thing or whatever. They want to call it, and so I just feel that my own fate My own religion is mine and nobody has one. That's like mine- and I I I wouldn't sir- we ever to tell somebody that they should believe this. They should believe that this works. If this doesn't work, I am saying what I've found works for me, and so I consider what I do and the labyrinth medic meditation. I met a even if I walked, aren't they meditate every day for probably ten or fifteen minutes at least, and I just feel centred. It just makes me feel calmer and happier- and they're just so many things that don't bother. Me any more that used to bother me that don't get to me, I mean my husband was
I would certainly not say a Buddhist and he would certainly not have called himself a Buddhist. He did have faith he never went to church. Last year and a half of his life. I interviewed him at the Washington Post for my website on faith and I we had never talked about religion. I mean he didn't like it that I was an atheist, but he never discussed. We never discussed, and I asked if you believe in god- and he said yes and I this really surprised- and I said you know, do you think, for instance, he had been in world WAR two in the Pacific. and on a destroyer and which was probably the most dangerous assign you could have and an saws a number kamikaze pile sooner coming out. His destroyer actually saw one that came so close, but he can see that face of the pilot. companies pilot and as it was the playing, went down and
said. The fact that you survived do think. God had a plan for you and he said yes, I do, and he said I, I can't imagine not having these believes and the few times that he did pray. He prayed when Jack Kennedy died. Jack Kennedy was his closest friend and he went to Saint Matthews Cathedral, which is interesting and he was walking by Saint Matthews when Quinn was about to have heart surgery and went in and prayed for, Quinn, then, but he his form of I think religion or meditation. This is why I say probably was a Buddhist is He was a woodsmen and we always had us place outside of Washington where first it was a log house when, in the woods and West Virginia than it was in the woods this far southern Marilyn Ben
go out in the woods. It serve nine o clock in the morning and come back at five in the afternoon. It would take some water with many David's acts in this chain on his jeep and he would just disappear. and he would go and he would clear, brush and cut down dead trees and burn and heat bribed it as being mind empty, but it was a form of meditation for him and he all the way through Watergate before he and I were not together during the Pentagon papers, but he did during that. He did it all the way through when and was so sick and almost died all all those years and it just gave him it's a peace, and I have to say- Sometimes it was really annoying to me because he just never gotten upset about me and I would abstained during all the stress that he had gone through, never I'm never what's up been depressed, never in forty three years together and I do think that
working out in the woods he had to get there. I mean it was if he didn't get out in the woods and and Quintus the same way, my son, he has to get down there and get out. What's at least once every two weeks or he starts going crazy, I mean it, his religion too, but been used to have. This expression drove me crazy if I'd be upset about something he'd say when the history of the world is is written. This is not going to be and I would serve Wanna go power. Unicorn was re point, though I think about that, and you know, and now that ban is gone. Then it's left me to think that, and I think that way when things. that normally used to upset me come up. I I just keep thinking well, when the history of the world, written. This is not going to be in it and a man I this is. I haven't written a book for a while. This is my fifth book
but I just remember the last for books being crazed during the book tour you know and checking how many books were being sold and beyond just being frantic the whole time, and I don't feel that way. Now. I'm just Oh come about yourself. Come on, I'm the sailboat. You know the book does well great. If it doesn't do well, I did the best I can I'm proud of it. I hope it does well, but Now life goes on and you know I'll write another book and I'll just be happy am I will continued to fine magic in my life, better. What I want to get it your definition of magic in and and in the fact you say, you're no longer an atheist, but just at a cure, three house Quinn these days, What does he do? How was he has his health? Quintus fabulous he's thirty five, his don't say and her five year old daughter just moved in with him and their dog teddy rose
this last labour day, their blissfully happy together and he works National Centre for learning disabilities? He has his own website called friends of Quinn, dot com for adults with learning disabilities, which is terrific, and he Interviews, alot of celebrities, who are dyslexic or have certain learn, disabilities. He did a wonderful interview last week with Peter Euro of Peter Poland. Merrier, this young now woman, a transgender young girl. Of a young woman who was a boy and is now a girl named Emily and has also she has. learning disabilities and has been a marked and tea bullied all of her life and they The periodic wrote this wonderful song for her called, don't laugh at me and she
this beautiful voice, and so when interviewed the two of them and it was just magical and they sang the song together, don't laugh at me and it made you cry, but he when has enormous empathy for people- and I think a lot of it is because of what he went through, but also because he had a love of his father Ben admired Quinn more than anybody here. renewed because he said, Quinn was more strong and courageous and more result than any one he knew and- and you ought to have been Bradley, say that hear them listen. He most admires is a big data and his health is ok. His health is great yeah. He has a peacemaker but he's health. Okay, ok, he still has learning differences, but but he talks openly about it that's what he does. He works with people with learning differences. You referred to his inner Peter Euro and an Emily as a magical. So that gets us back to magic pop. The matter
dragon that data? That's a very organic variety of magic, in that case the What do you mean you say magic em? What do you mean when you say you were an atheist but aren't anymore? Well, came an atheist when I was for when my father was in world war, two and heat, liberated Dachau and he took pictures of all of the bodies and emaciated people in, and it was just any had scrapbooks made, and I found them after back from the war, and I was her Where was this where'd? You go Well, I mean army rat, so we were living in Washington DC at the time. I've idle I've gone to twenty, schools and relieved anyplace longer than a year and a half in my life and I found these scrapbooks and I finally confessed. my father that I had found them plenty was upset. I didn't you wouldn't have.
Maybe that then I didn't know about the war I just knew nazis were bad people and daddy's I to me what had happened and I said to him that daddy did did God no about this and he said yes, he did and I said well, why didn't you do anything and he said God, mystery, we we never. We don't know the answers and I was just not only outrage but devastated and cried all night long and all think about was all of these little jewish children who were praying to the same God. I was, and their parents for protection. I was praying every night for god- bless me my parents, and and everyone I loved and that God didn't listen to them and he let that happen. So if he wasn't there to protect them. Why would you protect me, and I just realized there can't be a God, and so I stopped leaving in God. Then I learned the word atheist when I was eight thirteen, and I was actually happy to see that because I never confessed that I didn't believe in God,
but I was happy to see that there is actually this word that described there, that I wasn't alone, and I wasn't the only person who didn't believe in God. but so then I started studying you know I I said and went through all the end. I write a lot of stories about moments in the book about moments in my life that that were served transcend, or illuminating, or some meaning for me and then after John meets him and I met, and he talked me out of being an atheist. I and I started studying about religion. Were dummy, talked you out being in a well. You knock you into believing in oh, no, no, no, but he didn't. He said you're not a negative person and and This is a negative word it because it means your against something. He has to someone who denies the existence of God. Well, I can't deny the existence of God, because I dont know I made my favorite
christopher- is, I don't know, and you don't either. Nobody knows, and the word agnostic means nothing to me because we're all agnostics I mean the Pope is an egg. Because nobody really knows you believe you have failed. But you don't know and so I do so then so Medium said, you know, go out and read all these books. He gave me a whole list and I did and learn something about. Then, if you decide you wanna be an atheist, fine but at least know what you're talking about- and so I be and to read in a William James variety of religious experiences was it was a huge eye opener for me in terms of the different kind, religion and also, I thought the interest that the confluence between psychiatry and religion was really fascinating to maybe that that's a whole other area of exploration, but something that I have really been fascinated by, but I you know so I
aim to start, seeing that there were things especially on this trip about religion. That really appeal to me and pretty he lay the rituals and ceremonies which I used to think percent of metal and mawkish answer embarrassing and then suddenly. Now I find that I'm embracing ritual all the time. I'm probably the most important ritual in my life was my husband's funeral at the national cathedral, which I thought was transcendent. I mean I really felt that we were in touch with the divine at that moment, and so you then I had to sit and figure out what I was. If I wasn't an atheist, I decided I was a person of faith because I did believe in magic. and I believed in I grew up in the deep South and in the deep south. You know there were people. Believe in my southern Macdougall found. Scottish coup,
there is in my family believed in the occult and they believed in the scottish stones and time travel and psychic phenomenon. Palmistry and- and who do in and terror, reading, and so I grew up with all that and that was set up, and I was also a christian at the time, but that that was part of my embedded religion. That was part of what I understood and accepted it and all of the women in our family have had some psychic abilities and I do have some psychic abilities. Although it come then goes I mostly like it when it goes because it's very uncomfortable when it does happen, you mean, like you, can sit with. Somebody tell whether, future is well known that nobody, just you just said flashes. I mean I think, people Everyone has psychic abilities. Actually I just think that some The more developed and others I mean. You know you. You know you at youth thousand, but he's had an experience like you know there
driving along and all of a sudden. They have a really horrible feeling about child and they call the child. They find out that the child has been an accident, is sick or something you know I mean. These moments of whether psychic or telepathy, whatever you know you, where you feel when you have a really close relationship with someone and so that was all magic and growing up, that was not considered religion was I'm considered predictably legitimate, but- As I grew older, and particularly when I was writing this book. I said had this epiphany, which is that all religion is magic and that what that anything, that you believe any kind of faith you have is all about faith. You have to take it on faith. I mean It is like this said that you know it's a blind man walking into a black room, a dark,
in Rome and looking for a black cat and finding you know you, you you're, it's something that you you have to believe it I mean it's not that you have to see it to believe it. You have to believe it to see it and that What faith really is? And so I realize that if you know, if you talk about, kind of religion or christianity. You talk about Jesus Christ and cries walking on water and the virgin birth and raising Lazarus from the dead and an actually being resurrected and going up to sit on the right hand of God or Mohammed taking dictation from from Allah and writing. and the Koran or or Buddha or the Hindu Religions and their many gods, that's all magic, you have to believe in that magic in order to have faith in it and that
whatever I believed, whatever part of my embedded religion, whatever part of it was magical, was no different and certainly as legitimate as any, but anything any one else believes and you know the astrology, for instance, I once in our view to foreign minister from an arab country who travelled with his astrologer, and He would never make a move with Adam and so many Most people in the Middle EAST have astrologers and in India, and a lot of countries in the Middle EAST and South EAST I'm in South EAST Asia I once suggested some one in the state Department that they have a resident astrologer on the staff because- even though they may not think it serious it would be really smart to know what their astrologer is telling,
the saudi prance when they are about to meet on whether this is an auspicious moment or whether mercury is a retrograde or whatever it You know whatever it might be, that it would be helpful to know what this other guys thinking and I have been to an astrologer four years, this one astrologer who I find brilliant and she does more of a sort of a life map than anything else is not really prompt prognostication, but that any of these things our main astrology is old and that that people will often make fun of things because they're, not institutional religions, and that they they happen to be in another category which is magic, but when you look at anything than any one believes thumb. If, if, if I mean people will make fun of Mormons but
They can't believe that Jos Smith found the tablet the golden tablets, but Mormonism is a very young religion. I think, if that the morning as it had been developed, dirt or discovered in two thousand years ago. People would take it more seriously. I think that new religions are things that people, are more sceptical about, even though they may just be as legitimate as any other faith So I ended up believing that the magic was what my fit religion was, because I think that and in the stories in my book or all about things that I say led me to find magic Julian God. I believe that there is a creator and I can't wrap my mind around the fact that there was first, nothing and then something so, but I dont have
personal God. I don't have a personal god to pray. Do, however, I do pray and but I pray I it's more of of sending out good thoughts and and positive thoughts and wishes could be it be called wishes. I mean somebody is sick in the hospital we, you know when Quinn was sick, people would say and praying for you and I thought now take all the help I can get. I it's. I dont prey to a God or eighth a thing or a person, but I I put out positive thoughts or positive energy because I think it makes me feel better.
I am, and I I don't know whether it works or not. That's the thing I mean. I think nobody does no other works or not, but but when we talk about magic and we did, it really ends up being about meaning and what the lucky, what the meaning of your life is, and I had to sort of come to that conclusion by finding that the magic that happens in my life. There are moments every single day and all of our lives that are magic and that we don't we don't necessarily realize it or we don't accept it because we're looking for some, thunderbolt or some giant thing that is transcend enter- that changes our lives when as so many magical moments all day every day, and I think that
I know you ve written about happiness, a lot and- and I found that what I found was that you don't you dont, look for happiness to find meaning you look for meaning to find happiness and at what has given me the most happy happy most happiness in my life is finding meaning and what is meaning then most meaningful to me is loving the people I love and taking care of the people. I love. I know that taken care of Quinn and then both of my parents who were sick and then and then died, and then taking care of Ben all those years and an after he died. That was probably the most spiritual thing I ever did in my life and gave me more gave my
if more meaning than anything ever has- and I was filled with love for Ben- and he for me and his gratitude towards me for taking good such good care of him was just overwhelming, and I was more in love with him. The day he died than I had ever been in my life before and- and that was this- the most meaningful thing it could ever have happened. So just I'm just approaching your thesis from my own sir selfish standpoint or selfish. Isn't right were but like a personal standpoint it so I can play we buy when you say the source of meaning is connected interconnection connection with other human beings. I say in my experience has true Also I there is enormous, meant a meeting to be had in just living your life fully and instead of walking round.
in a fog of rumination and projection and with this auto pilot that most of us living and that can be a source of magic. However, we wanted to find it. I would find it in a non metaphysical way, but just then the idea that wow actually there's a lot more, beauty and interesting stuff in our workaday lives, and we often pay attention to, and I also think that there premeditation practice. You can find a kind of meaning and a mystery by just look Get your own mind that, will you know her who is this me that I think is so solid and stable and in Hawaii, how my aware of all the stuff who's taking delivery of these various packages that are coming into the sea the hearing, the the thinking all that stuff who is Dan I think, there's a lot of meaning an interesting stuff in there, but I you were. I draw the line and I'm curious to get back this review is, I have respect for the worse.
Great religions or even the world's unsanctioned religions, including palmistry em? we will want to believe it as long as it's not harming anybody else. I have no before that and came to that, through many. Many years of covering faces spirituality were personally I have trouble believing in everything that, for which there is no proof are. That is because paradises, my wife's scientist in part of his because I just I just constitutionally. I can't I mean if you say you believe in it. I know Beaver that again as long as not hurting anybody, but I don't. I can't make that leap and I'm curious oh you got there in terms of being able to have faith. in something that you really can prove well that's First of all, I say this in the book that I accept and respect what anyone, believes, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody that that's the most important thing about accepting other people's beliefs and their faith
And so on. But- and I also agree I mean you know my my argument oh certainly about God and a personal god, I could never believe in an all, loving, all so all powerful. omniscient, omnipotent God, because the issue of suffering comes in and no one knows what they called the. The problem of suffering that no one has ever and all the times that I have interviewed hundreds thousands of people about God No one has ever given me an answer that satisfactory about how good a loving God allow such suffering it. Just I don't know, I just don't understand it and I dont believe it and but but the interesting thing is an I've felt the same way. You have that,
Gotta show it to me, or else you gotta show me empirical proof, but that sort of eliminates the whole idea of faith says yeah. So you know and- and I never quite new what faith meant until I started thinking about things that have faith and, like I have faith in myself and my ability to to care for people and to love the people. I love and I have faith in my and my ability to thrive and survive in and I am resilient. I have faith in question and I had faith in Ben and home, but that's faith veterans of conflict right as opposed to metaphysical right, but I think that that wit, what you're saying is that if you can't prove it, you can't believe it well. I can't that's right.
and that's what I said is not like. You have to see it to believe it. It's like you, you have to believe it to see ever. How did you get there? How do I get a because? Well, I'm stammering and stuttering now, because I'm I'm just have to figure out how I should have the answer to that. Damn set out. How did I get there because it seems to me to whether or not you want to talk about how you got there are winners figured that out, I beat it just seems so important you now the old books governing magic magic a variety that is beyond the mundane, I actually think is plenty magic. you seem to have adopted and I'm just curious like how why so coming. They are getting there, I'm getting there. I'm glad. You asked me that question because I realise that I don't care how so and to think you are and care what a scientific genius anybody is. There is much that science doesn't know and can't prove I mean you can take the telescope,
you know and you can send rockets up into the outer base and you can look as far as but the final answer at this site. just don't know, is where The universe come from what is out there what's really out there and so, there are so many things as science can't explain, and you know that there are some scientists who are actually people of faith. because they say you know there is a moment where you have to see. You know you you have, to draw the line there's a moment where you can go only so far with science, and then you can't explain the rest, and so what is it so for me? I think it's more of feeling than I have been in there what belief is that's what faith is that there is a feeling that I have that I can only describe,
saying it's transcendent, it's a feeling of being in touch with the divine, a feeling of just incredible happiness. That comes to me at certain times in my life that I can't explain and that and that, that and no one can explain it. I mean you can say well then neurons in your brain blubber online. If you put, you put, you know all kinds of, cords and plug you into machines and everything male show that your brain does, but but but that in the end nobody can really explain where it comes from, and so I mean astrology is different because astrology they is, is I am in the sense that you with it. There are the stars in and there are the planets and they do move around, and you know that the moon does affect the tides and it affects people's.
The blood in the water in your body a mean that different planets have different aspects that will affect the human being. But but when somebody drugged draws a chart about you, astrological chart at the really good astrologers and then the way they interpret it is more of a map of your life and who you are is more like going to therapy than anything else is just so saying. This is who you are, and this is what you know. This is how you will you will tend to work count of ten to behave time to tend to live. These are the issues you're going to
the issues that you won't have an. I mean in that that's more concrete to me than anything else, but but that sense, the feeling that I get an these moments. I just I don't feel that there is any explanation for them. When I was it, thence funeral. I was in the national cathedral, there's something just amazing about that building and I just every sometimes I just go in and just sit there now, I'm not praying to go You know I I don't know what I'm doing in there, except that I just have the sense that there is something bigger than I am. That makes me feel, somehow stronger and more peaceful and more supported, and so I think, I'm not being there our. I think you actually working quite particular there. I think a lot of people
at present it will resonate with that. There is a feeling of story and being having this kind of hard to articulate suspicion that there's thing larger and unexplained, and I guess my where I take that is like I'm comfortable with mystery, I'm intrigue by mystery, but I don't have to believe it. I don't have to live in peace. that there's something behind it? That I can't I can't make any case for well my books. Divided into three sections. The first one is magic, the second one is mystery and the third is meaning, and it was that I grew up. Circling in believing in magic, mystery is when I started feeling you know, I was looking first for what it was trying to figure.
Out and meaning as when I realized tat I had found meaning in my life and, and that was meaning that was caretaking and loved George Valiant did that Harvard? Did the study called Grant study my husband was part of with lower your husband's farther yeah, my giant yeah, my and father gave me that book yeah when I was younger than did they basically studied young from Harvard over the course of their lot. Air lives and most of them are dead now, but then was in that study and they without a form, answering questions about their lives every year and unfair. Aunt wrote a book about it later and he said he came to the conclusion after interviewing these people over the course of seventy eighty ninety years. that there was only one conclusion he came to and that that was happiness equals one thing, and that is love full stop and you can.
measure love. I mean you can't scientifically measure love I mean to me. Love was the most important thing in my life with then and still is now, and I think how you love is the most important thing you can do, and I can't I couldn't live without it and I don't know how anyone can live without it. But scientifically, how do you define love? How do you describe it? You just know it. When you see it, you feel it and so for what I believe I mean for what faith is I mean if somebody says they believed that Jesus was the Son of God? they believe it I'm in their Catholics who believe that when you take communion, when you put the bread in your mouth and the wine in your mouth that it actually turns into the blood and flush of price, it's called transubstantiation alot of people believe that an.
The beliefs of people all around the world are extraordinary. I'm in tune into a lot of belief to us or just sound crazy, but the fact is that they believe them, and they have faith in the minute, gives them some sense of security and some sense of support and and it gives them happiness and comfort. And so I mean what I'm looking at is something at night, and I have died at that. I don't have to see it to believe it. That of I know that I have a feeling of being in touch with the divine or being transcendent or a feeling of magic. Then that's, I don't need any more than that. I dont need somebody riding down a piece of paper for me in this is what the study shows
and this is what love means- and maybe you love ban- and maybe you don't, but how do you quantified that you no scientifically in our remaining moments, I just want to ask you about you really can maiden name herself in many ways with by in Washington society, and I just sewed so a big shift your conversation. Is we ve really delved into the and the pool and lots of ways, but I'm just curious, are you still are you a sailboat or a cigarette boat? When it comes to parties in making the scene in DC these days do no longer carry still interested in it and how are things different now under Trump than they were in. The many administrations have experienced previously. well, I'm just Salem alone baby. But do you still here Oh all, the time, all the time and as an when talk about ritual.
Somebody said if you had. If you could choose one dinner party that you could go to add in throughout history. What would it be? And I said it would be the last supper because here is when Jesus was a real party boys. My friend TIM Shriver says that almost every in the Bible? Is Jesus is at a party, and what does he do right before he died? He has everybody for dinner and they break bread and a drink wine and they sit around and talk and there's something I actually did a very short lived column at the Washington Post call the sacred table because for me entertaining there's a certain sacredness about it and there is a certain sense of
beer to allocate about what I can't think of anything I love more than they have the people. I really care about sitting around my dining room table and with lots of candles and wine and good food and talking about things that are really important to them and really set of communing. It says it's a form of communion, you know, and and- and I want people to leave my house, Sir feeling levitating feeling affirmed- feeling in some way, and I mean I think that happens when when you get people who you care- and I don't invite people, I don't invite jobs to my party's. I invite the people I like and if they happen to have jobs. Fine, if they don't. fine, big jobs, you mean well, you know, beer being part of administration norm and journalists or whatever, but I
right. The people I like and that I care about and and people always seem to have a really good time, and you know I think, when people talk about parties in Washington, they often think o will the George Town Dinner Party set, But- I think that its very sad what's happened in Washington, Orville Ass, certainly when I first started working at the wash impose witches almost fifty years ago, and I was covering parties and Republicans and Democrats would go to dinner all the time together, but they all live there. Now with the airplane, nobody lives there. They live in their home districts and they sleep on their sofas at night. You know at or they travel back and forth to wherever and they don't know each other, and so there's this incredible sense of rancor, Anne and unhappiness and hostility in Washington that that never used to exist before and, of course, now it's more toxic.
ever been before during a Trump administration but but went when I have parties, I bring people together and people always remains certain Washington is four percent voted for tramp in Washington. and I had a winter souls just party which that the twenty first December, which is welcoming in the new and it's it's that went yourselves as is the darkest day of the year and so it was after, the darkness comes the light la land. I say most of the people who were there were not trump supporters, but then people were still in shock that Trump had been elected and but everybody came and just wanting to have a good time wanting to relax but also feeling a sense of community, because there was a certain fear of what was going to happen to the country and- and
I think people left feeling we're gonna be ok. We had the sense of community here and we're all in this together and nothing is. It would be bad as long as we can all be together and- and you know when I went off to Marthas vineyard for the summer August and when my son lives in the house next to mine, it's connected the money said mom. I really this July. The somebody said you know when you're here The law. We are not here so lonely, because when you're here the house always seems to be filled with people and people laughing having dinner and having a good time and having fun, and I really like that- and that made me feel great, because that's what entertaining should be about. That's what I do
I dont ever have a party for no reason, it's always to honour somebody or to search for something or like the winter. Solstice party in or out of the darkness comes the light, or you know four someone's book or a dinner for somebody's book or somebody's engage matters and whatever so that there is always something as some reason to celebrate, or some one to celebrate so and- and I think that it's just too bad- that we don't have that kind of social connection anymore in washington- and you are you know- sometimes I mean I invite still invite people from from both sides of the eye old, but a lot of them. Come and fund sit here communion with you, Thank you very much. Thank you down. If you will learn more about you, obviously finding magic, spiritual memoir they can, they can go pick that up. Are there other places they should go in order. You don't get more Seligman away.
Oh, you know I have a facebook page and am on twitter, but I would say Amazon goes. I pushing Amazon because Amazon owns the Washington Post, which is where I work so I would say yes go to Amazon or go to your local bookstores and pick it up, and this a good time. I'm my lawyer represents me and Hillary Clinton, and he said I have to tell you that Hilary, because now coming out. On the same day, yours is- and he said, but there is good news because she ll drive people into the store. So what I'd like to say to people is that it we're going to go into the store? You should definitely by my book if you're gonna buy Hilary is because mine is an antidote to hers, because once you re about how awful any camp it is- and this was the worst campaign anybody's ever been through you're, going to need some spirituality and some different. That's a good
thank you very much richer receiving. Thank you. Ok Is it for another edition of the ten percent happier podcast? If you liked it, please take a minute to subscribe rate us all if you want to suggest topics, you think we should cover our guests that we should bring in hit me up on twitter at Danby. Harris importantly, I want to thank the people who produce this podcast Lauren Efron, Josh cohesion and the rest of the folks here at ABC, who helped make this thing possible. We have tons of other broadcasts. You can check them out at ABC new broadcasts, DOT Tk, I'll talk to you next Wednesday. Are you feeling limitless? I don't think I've ever told the story publicly on the air anywhere, but I'll tell him out you know, limits I'm Rebecca Jarvis. I use a kind of each week, we're taking an honest, look at success: how to get there with the boldest most influential women in the world Jessica, Alba Orient
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