« Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

#116: Manoush Zomorodi, Host of 'Note to Self' Podcast

2018-01-02
Manoush Zomorodi, the host of WNYC's "Note to Self" podcast, is an advocate for boredom because allowing our minds to wander, she says, can lead to problem solving and fresh ideas. Her book, "Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self," stems from an experiment in which she convinced more than 20,000 listeners to try to disconnect from their phones, just be bored for a moment and jump-start their creativity.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see the ten percent happier Vodka Dan ever meet somebody just like them right away. I feel that way about. Oh my guess, but I really in that way about minutiae Maroni, who is my guess this week in fact we're doing a swap on her pike, ass she's on mine, her package is called note to self. It's a huge pike ass, its all about technical. Gee having a healthy relationship to technology, and she wrote a book called board and brilliant subtitle is how spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self, and it's all about our relationship with technology and are sometimes unhealthy relationship, a technology which is a massive massive issue. She's thought deeply about it, and, as you will hear United, we come out of a slightly different perspectives, but there's
lot of overlap in the Van diagram, which we can assess out in the course of this discussion. So if you really go for it, Listen to this and then go ahead in and check out her podcast, which you should be listened to anyway and and may be listened to the flip side of the conversation when she interviews me so big things to manage for doing this. This is actually suggested by some. are you on Twitter, who happens to listen to both of our Pakistan thought? It may be a case of like two great taste, the taste great together, if you remember commercial environment, to shut up, here's news, you and I have crossed paths. I think we have yeah, I think so cause. I worked for the BBC Foreign NEWS at the time. My roommate, when I lived in DC, was news producer, Charlie, Herman, early Herman Yang our homework here. Yeah yeah, yes M, but we'll do so. This is back in the day in the nineties I lived in DC and I was in the BBC's Washington Bureau and he was at APC whatever that was
so. I knew him and then, of course, when horrible disasters would happen, I would inevitably end up hanging out with ABC people or sleeping on their couch in some random house. I'm thinking of the scope of the swiss air crash. I ended up sleeping, I think, on ABC couch. I dont know so when I read your book, the first one, and passionate happier. I really really resonated with me, because I knew exactly like those moments that you described as you were. You know, and it really having an adrenaline rash when you are on the road and the highs and the fairy he closed that come with foreign news gathering really like that, really struck me and I also have had a hidden anxiety so um sounds with You all the way through that book. the way I want. I want to good, but I'm like a good question, my room. You know they are the one about put a positive Sheena anxiety, for example no, but if it's brought the two of us to be here,
sitting together on podcast, where I think we're helping people. Don't you know, understand their brains and technology and all the other things affecting them. Then I say good the and I'm gone with good excellent exclamation point. So let me ask you the question. I always ask every which it? How did you get into meditation? Well, I do all that I'm necessarily and meditation, I dont know what to call it. What you hear what he saw, I'm sorry I was thinking about it on the subway right here I am. I did your one minute meditation as a sort of preparation to come here and I think that for those Thus, who are slightly more are resistant or who have struggled with it. Obviously, the second book of yours is the first thing we should turn to, but I think that explaining in a different way has helped me not
the at war. With my mind, a man is sort of what I discovered with my my book and Boredom that that was an entry point for me to sort of settling down said that should I go into boredom is a very different thing that happens in your brain. So when you allow yourself to space out when you're folding the laundry or walk into work- or whenever you doing you know, and networking in your brain called the default mode and in the default mode. That's action where you do your most original thinking, you do creative problem solving. You also do so. called autobiographical planning? This is where you look back in your life you take note of the highs and lows you build a personal narrative and then you do what psychologists call perspective by ass. You look into the future and you set new goals and figure out the steps to get there so super important stuff that I sort of
we need to find out about because I realized, so many of us were looking at our phones instead of doing this sort of important look looking at our lives and then, of course, that the inevitable Question came up, because meditation is something that people talk about a lot these days and I think because of our technology is one of the reasons it yeah so and so I wanted to understand how meditation was different, then boredom now, of course, as you talk about on your show, there are some in different kinds of meditation. So the way like to describe it to lay people is leg. in meditation from what I understand. It's not thinking thing right, whereas with bore you're going into mind, wandering and your actually not saying don't let your mind wandering you're, saying let's watch and see where it goes that can meet this. Very dark places, but it can also be very. positive what psychologists call positive, constructive mind wandering which is
Are you do what I was talking about that the good stuff? You know the creativity there, the the the bigger problem- solving, which you just cannot do if you are tweeting posting and liking, etc. So I have a bunch of a sober and all the questions you ass do out we're not gonna. Do it actually them this work in my website? I'm not gonna. Do it yet Is it all the questions about the overlap between boredom in meditation in the default mode? I have a bunch of things to say, but I want to pull the story out of you a little about, because you got interested in boredom for some really good. An interesting reason. Yes, you just tell me the back story than to that yeah. Well, you know it's a personal moment of failure as you, describe your own personal moment. So for me it was the type a person I was like the pod cassis was like in two thousand fourteen.
it's doing well to forget what now right away hello, so I was to pack has called note to self its origins or a New York. Public radio comes from Dublin Y, see studios and we said started out as a small honour segment about New York's burgeoning tech economy, but really well quickly learn- and this was in twenty fourteen- was that people didn't mean another place to get tech news. What they needed was a place to be guided through. This transformation of every social structure in our lives it's from how we I'd, love to how we parent to how we meet people, how we work where we work technology is ending every single sort of thing that we ve taken for granted, including how our brains work, and so for me. The show has really become used to call it. The Tec show about being human, but I think that it's beyond that. I think it's about find.
A way to understand this accelerating world and reminding yourself. What truly is important, because Lord knows everyone and every platform in every app will try to distract you and so centering and making, that we use our devices as tools rather than taskmasters, so that such an important subject such an important in fact the so you are doing, nothing was doing well, and yet you are probably pretty much secondary, sounds like from from whatever in your book at your nonetheless completely sucked into your divisive o completely and utterly yes. So, but I did What kind of I thought? Well, I'm a tech reporter. That's what I'm supposed to be doing right. Like you know, you got to do the drugs that you're dealing. I guess and any case I sat down to a sort of think of big idea.
As for the show- and I had this moment of them- panic like there was it like nothing upstairs like I've, generally in a very good problem solver- and there was a sense that there was like sand in my brain- and I thought back- you know like and had I had my best ideas in the asked and it was lose the cliche It was like steering out the window. I was on a long car ride were waiting in line to get my latte and, and now I realize that every little cry back in my life. You know those little moments of waiting for the subway to come or waiting to pick up. My kids was always filled with information or my phone or swiping or letting someone know where I was checking something, and it made me realize, like that not been board. Actually in years and actually and
I really wanted to know. I was with will weigh actually happens in our brain when we get bored- or, I guess, more importantly, what could be happening to us if we never get bored like what would happen if we got room? If this human state entirely cause, that's it It seems like we're doing with the doors. Or to be you actually at a local and of time you got a new baby and area. While you know it, it's like ice the sort how my mom my son and the song. We're were actually born the same month within two thousand seven. I did not get em a smartphone till three thousand nine turned to imagine that, but back in the day, people were like. What is this Iphone thing? Let the early adopters you know. I was like that, where you asked me: what did it went Do you first get a smart, probably run to those? Ninety thousand, I write a blackberry, yeah quarters and really count now because no doesn't count. I mean there were crack berries, of course, but
was the difference. I and I will say to you, kids. I have one kid held your kid he's: gonna be threesome, Ok see you know how hard it can be. Those first years lake, oh yeah, its top death row, and I M really colloquy baby like a miserable baby, who would not who only sleep when I was pushing the stroller, like only so I was walking fifteen miles a day. Yet was crazy. It was it was off and you know you couldn't stop because then you wake up and lay in a just. Bad cycle, and I even have a phone like a smartphone. I have my flip phone, but so I just like, walked and thought and walked and thought, and it first it was really uncomfortable, really comfortable and then, like it, took me a couple weeks to get to a place where, I realize now that the reason I'm sitting here talking to use, because what I was planning at that time. I really
Billy was taking stock of lake what the hell are we doing on this planet. What's gonna make me, feel like I've done the best I can for this list. Maybe he wants Pino, really thinking taking the bigger picture and not not, sort of lending. Everyone know about my every little move or being reactive to things. It was very, very solitary and that led due to the big idea for the show or or eventually to the wild, that yeah sort? Where does the stuff with your son? What was the chronological relationship with at least eighteen thousand savena? I sunburn, colloquy, baby speed ahead when there's another baby and their God bless her and then twenty fourteen, like I'm a man, this point we're all the walking has turned into this pod gas. I have my own show. That's pretty cool
I have two kids. I have my own show it's all happening, and then I have this crisis of creative. Without you, ok, ok for men, so what'd you would you you and that they are part of the crisis- was o boredom there's something to that me I wasn't sure I didn't really know there wasn't kind of research out, thereabout, boredom and turns out were at the. This is just a few now go that we are really. Researchers had just started to understand what happens in the brain and we are actually a very crew a moment in neuroscience what with many things but with partake Thirdly, understanding the science of mine, wandering, and so in that made sense to me as I started interviewing people. You know what person told me we have found that the more fit egg? Do you are the more likely you are to check Facebook and low
like all that makes total sense. I see it in my own behavior. You know that lays look over uneasy doping wholly Jones and at the end of the day you know that moment when you're swiping and sweeping in your nine even reading is going by I think I mean you're exhausted. Your brain is tired and its is crack malicious, so the more I learned about it and end. You know that's the beauty of broadcasting rights right, as I said to my audiences like you feeling a little weird like not. Sure, what's going on with your brain, would you be interested in taking a week? What if we try to week of little small behaviour changes, and we saw it, change the way we used our phones if we introduce- just a little bit more boredom into moments in our lives with that jump starts our creativity if we find that it actually, effective and so in twenty fifteen. We did this one week
and I had assumed that, like a couple hundred, people would sign up to do this weirdo experiment with me, the twenty thousand people signed. Yeah like in two days. I was like this is a thing foller feeling. Theirs. I am so not a special snowflake. Everyone is going through this, so we did this. experiment where every morning you woke up and you gonna many podcast- that explained some of the design of the technology. The neuroscience- and you corresponding newsletter, which laid out you should have challenge for the day, a behavior tweak to try and then the meme irony of ironies, but you have an app. You understand. We also partnered with apps that measure your actual time on your phone and also how many pick ups, because I'm not on my phone a lot but I'm a checker like a lot of checking- and you know we found that it worked it.
quite extraordinary, like we had classrooms, do it across the country we had offices. Do it wants a therapist? Did it with their clients and we heard of people? You know finishing big projects like their thesis. Finally, kids, who told me that they didn't think they were smart, now they realise that like school is in his heart as they thought it was some other people who came up with problem Lena ways to solve problems at work. And also, I think, then, more more than just like you know. The predict productivity side it was a sense of I, like my life better, like this Like there was a guy Liam one of the things we are People to do was to take the app that was driving you crazy off your found, the one that like gave you like twitchy thumb in now, and this guy
like I'm takin off all the social media off my phone, none of it and any got back a week later he's like. I just feel calmer, I feel more relaxed. My life is more contemplate of its quieter and I am good with so fast forward. The sitting here and the book version is out. I went and did more research in and a lot more interviews and put together the book, and I reached out to some play original people who had done the project and Liam got back into touch, and he said I never put the APS back on my phone like them. This is This is my new life and I I'd idle and now, when he wants to go on Facebook, it's not like you quit. He just he sits down on his laptop. He does it for twenty minutes logs out, and he done and it feels good what about you So that's a good question I struggle with this. I mean I heard a freaking book.
And I still struggle with it- and I think you know Us- one who understands a lot of the ways that these things have been built and power brains operate. The fact that I still have trouble really says. I think what no one to the word crisis, because I don't like to be alarmist like to be very positive. But what a what a juncture we are at and I think to me you know earlier two weeks ago, we had to add Facebook, Google, Twitter, sitting on Capital Hill, testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, we are at this moment two years ago, the seemed like a weird kind of fringy experiment, but it's really become mainstream, that people are starting question their relationship that they have with their technology? There also starting to question the p. an understanding that there are humans behind these algorithms and that we have to start hold
them accountable, holding them to ethical standards, making sure that the Tec is used for good and not just for the bottom line, so many things ass, you about there with so little. but though with what did you learn about good tech hygiene? What are the? What's the? What were the best practices which shocked me was that people assume you get your phone like this. It's pre loaded with these apps, that's what you do and that no notifications I could not, but eve. How many people just leave their notifications on when they download an app they just say automatically. First of all, they signed the terms of service without look Don't bother me in the terms of service to assume that they're taking your privacy? What we can talk about that another day, but They also leave all the notifications on. So this idea that you are being pinged all day
long and you kind of think that that's what being a modern person is- which is just ridiculous, so we asked people, for example to and they sound can a silly, but we asked people to keep their phone in their pocket while they were in transit or in their bag and the idea being that you, though, for one woman she's a stay at home, mom she's like well, I'm not really in transit. The most I'm doing is like walking from the couch worm nursing to the kitchen and we're like that counts. Try not to take your phone with you and she was like ha ha. That won't be bird, whose really hard should really hard time, not constantly, checking and and that's We asked people to download these acts that measured, because I don't, but what we realized was that, it has become a reflex right that we we. don't even know that we are looking so for me I'll get my itself as an example.
Figured. I was checking my phone like thirty times a day, but the app told me I was checking between I in a hundred times a day and do you think that information and they say in a the first step- is admitting it do you think that loading these absent getting information is the necessary first step towards developing a healthy relationship with your attack. While the way I looked at it is like that's what, if you were doing, a scientific study would want to establish or baseline right and to me we are now living in like one big lab. We are constantly experimenting on ourselves in our lives and if we don't have a east line? If we don't know where we start hair, we ever going to figure out whether were happy with where we are now. So I found it very helpful. I think for me it was it. It was the trick. That made me start to notice that oh every time I walk into an elevator. I look at my phone and guess what every time I walk out of an elevator, though the my phone again, what the hell am I looking for, like a name and looking for me
it had just become you know. Smokers lot of smokers were like who I felt like that used to be like I'd get to work. It stand outside you know this idea of linking behaviors so before you oh there. You are with a habit right, and maybe that means that if Europe phone in the elevator, you don't have any eye contact with your colleagues or you miss me. What were you remember that it's your mom's Earth Day or maybe You just notice that Europe stomach. for when you don't mean the donut, that's gonna, be whatever you know these moments of checking in with our bodies ourselves, the people around us. I think a lot of people are missing out and their starting to notice the absence of that an answer just better. Did you come to a view about the war. What what is the best route towards having a healthier relationship, the view
I come to annoyed some people, I think, what I learned that first week was it ever someone said? Well, I don't know my doing it right did I do the challenge right did did I do but she wanted me to do, and I would say we're only. You know you think of whether it was the right amount. She was annoying but its unavoidable. It is unavoidable, and so in the book I much more specific, because I realized that that's what people want they want specific. Instructions they want to know when they get a gold star right like when they ve done it right back. The message remains the same. What is right for my seventy three year old mom is not gonna feel right for a sixteen year old. My mom two photos a year a sixteen year old I mean on the average. Who knows the The American spends eleven hours in front of the screen. That's average, though right, so we have to ask
every demographic you are whatever age group, gender. Everyone has their own right amount, and I think that that amount is as personal as what you're home in your home scream looks your home. Green Dan Harris's homes. Green is just right for Dan Harris. Mine is just right for me and. tech has personal. The experience to the point where I think we have to personalize our own way of using it and there is now, a one size fits all. What do you and recommending the book? So what we do is we go through the different ideas that we tried out in the buck. Sell for another went, so that was that the physical connection, this idea of getting it off your body, I was feeling like. I couldn't distinguish the difference between my phone vibrating and my stomach growing like their starts to Beavis Rico, physical attachment that we have got a benzene
adopters of the singularity complete tackling so another one we did was we looked specifically at this idea of em how photography has changed the way? We use our memory, so we asked you to try one day of not taking any photos and there's very interesting research that You know some of us look. It makes sense if you are parking in some crazy parking lodging you like it. I'm never going to remember where I'm park you take a photo right. I never think to do that. A lot of people do us a good. I know a good idea, but ok, let's say that your party in the garage of a wonder museum and you go in and you're like. This is amazing. I'm going to take a picture of that and that and oh my god, That's what we do right. Mothers, research It goes to show that when you do that you are outsource sourcing, you are, outsourcing your memory to your phone that actually you're. Recollection your
scientist about being in the moment. It's that you don't actually remember ever having been in the moment. So there's the right time to take a thorough and there's the maybe may mean don't take a photo time, and if we can just you know that little it's this little out. You know it's like less than a second, it's this little smudge of a moment. Were you decide to get your phone out or don't get your phone out to tap it or not? happy to respond or not respond to react and be angry or favorite, like maybe just ask yourself do any. This is gonna help me and my having a good experience that doesn't need be captured, and if you do the ok, so stop and I'm not saying like bad put your phone away. No, no, because if you decide now this is a beautiful moment and I do want to take a picture and I I want to look at this later at or send it
someone and and share with them. I want to tell them about what I experienced the: by all means, go ahead. This is not a detox at all. This is about fine better ways to use the technology. It's not a binary, it's not honour off and I think some people think O. I'm dying for that one in the woods, with phone away and now you have to live with this stuff and it does improve our lives, but we need to be smarter about. I agree wholeheartedly. So what about you talk about? Having some wisdom around went to take pictures and one Ghana. What about the third? The reach, the sort of you know what I'm looking for, but I'm grab my phone because I need something had he had Woody Richard about managing that. Well, so were kind of strict about that one. The other things was? Usually people? Are reaching for the same thing over and over again, we found so for me again, I'm always when he used myself as a guinea pig. I have a game called to dots. Do you notice?
why they heard you mention in up. I thought that was my thing. Now is my scotch. So at the end of the day you now gonna get me going two dots, that's what I'm gonna Armitage. One could argue better than scotch and soda Will you when you're lying to you? band about like you playing the two. No no, no I was just checking actually with the weather is, I think the kids need to pack their boots. That's bad bad! That's injection! Yeah! I mean yeah so we tried, for you, know, taken off your phone Now I will admit it's back on my phone. joining Europe. Out of it I do, and I wonder how are you playing it like that, with the same sort of not with the same fervor
I was given a talking to buy game designer Jean Mechanical she's awesome, you should have on your I've heard of her sisters. Also critical, oh yeah, I don't know where research is also both of them have public speaking careers and write books and stuff. Like that, ok, so I know James instituted the future I'm stem temporarily blinking on her sister, but we were on a tv show together, you wearing tv, show together. What's a couple She's, a twin She has twins. Jane, has twins she doesn't believe an addiction she's like now just that your brain has latched onto something that makes it feel good, if you use it in the right circumstances. So, for example, there is there in some hospitals now they're giving kids video games to play before surgery or after surgery as coping mechanism right as ways to divert tension to something that is not productive pain is not productive right. So her whole thing was
was telling her that I had a really long flight. I had to go on to Australia and I was really really anxious about it. Sykes put your frickin game. back on your phone is: what are you gonna do drink your way to Australia play your game, cause your fear, the irrational seed or mean it play your game. Anti game. When I said I thought it was an addiction before I don't think I mean what do. I know whether it's an addiction just to be clear but am deafening on anti game. I am just anti unhealthy use of it precisely I mean is, for some people could be something else, drinking exactly soda yeah and I think the differences though there's something called alcoholism and we talk in society in others those laws around it ray. You can't buy it and, twenty one and you will get cut off by the stewardess and there's a disk. She around what is a healthy use of alcohol or if you enjoy a glass of wine at dinner, that's fine, not more than so many but
but we're doing as we are giving very powerful tools to brew, that are not fully formed. You known there ten year olds, can't have a moment of like food is apps Irving me right now or is it acting as you know, neurological tool you know. So for me it's about explaining some of the design elements Snapchat, for example, one of the people my book. Tristan Harris he's a technologists turned ethicist and he sort of talked me through house nap chat, has something called streaks noticed. we can see that, like a usage metric. Yes exactly what it is, let's say you nurse. He and I now to stretch but thumb it's a damn literature. So, let's start a street so tomorrow I send you a selfie, and would you send me a selfie and we try to keep the streak up for as many consecutive days as possible it means that our friendship is strong means. We also get points get a trophies and
once turned into a thing in high schools and morn younger kids, where, if you break the streak, it means that your friendship is over. It is like a serious issue, and so, if you accept new. Do kid like wow, okay, so Snapchat went public and twenty seven and one of the metrics that they are valued by is how many chickens a day. A user has so it moved them to build ways of sending you to come back consistently multiple times day every day that is the metric by which their company is value. That is their stock price, is your habit. So I think it's kind of like say and so I just so you know this is how the sausages made just so. You know, what's in your, had dug, if used want to eat it in joy, if you're a little Christ Outer Erlich, examining a hot dog like when I got all bugging, that's cool to that work will usually
people you, oh yeah, oh kids, kids, oh yes, I mean I'll have a lotta teachers who are using boredom brilliant, as their curriculum em in their media literacy classes and I think, they're starting to build it into digital literacy classes that, knowing that the Tec classes, it's not just about learning to code. It is learning an interdisciplinary look at how technology is being used to form society change, habits bending the economy. The health wrapper, passions, the psychological repercussions, we see higher sure you know As we see higher rates of depression and anxiety, particularly in young women and girls, many people say that its related to researchers, relate that to social media use and representation of girls and women online will we have to have a holistic. Conversely,
in about it, I don't want it to go away. I love my phone. It's in my bag right now, but but I I think it's it's more powerful than we were led to believe. You're. Talk earlier. There was a moment when I set of a million questions, because you you had you like, said a paragraph worth things that I wanted to follow up on and was an idea that you are all at once, but one of the things you said was about serve understanding, design and then and then instituting ethical standards. Yes, I would say more about that it is an impossible. Well there, the very small but vocal movement going on in Silicon Valley, to sort of, for example, in basic computer, I am courses. If you are a computer science, major at very, very, very few institutions. Is there a requirement for an ethical or moral conversation about how you build what it whatever it is. You decide to bid
or a discussion about the attention economy. The fact that the way that the tech companies Money is based on the amount of attention in time they have with our eyeballs, and so we think there is a movement to start that conversation in the valley itself. I am not of the valley. I think I'll people relate to me I'm kind of the every woman right and but to me I'm going around on my book tour stopping at all these. cities and talking to people about their everyday experience where they you'll, overloaded or overwhelmed or unmoored, and relieving that back to the sort of systems that have been set up around. It is very important to tell them to validate what their feeling if they feel overwhelmed For example, just now on the way to come, see you I got an email from a marine stationed in Okinawa say that he was
guaranteeing a lot of the things that I talked about in his family, but that he was very concerned about some of the the younger Marines or people on his squadron. Whatever their called there, a bill he to concentrate variant, Orton in their job right precision, hence real, you weren't. We know in North Korea's testing this old right, not so far away, so he was saying can we do this on the base? Can we start to have this conversation and it's not like you- know, Marines, where your phones, that is not the conversation. The conversation is, where does the technology fit into the important work that we are doing and does it fit the right waste that it always improves ass? It doesn't dumping our capacity, but I do think that we can. If we find that people are devising diabolically addictive products is there anything we can do to hold them accountable? Well, so I think,
a conversation is starting around that, I think the fact that there are senators who are finally questioning the fake news argument. I think we have the entire invitation around the twenty. Sixteen presidential election has made people who sort of thought o technology. I don't really understand it, namely people on Capitol Hill. They are starting to ask questions. They are asking- not just questions about how fake news could possibly get out there. But what kind of systems can be built in to make sure what we're seeing online is productive is true. In fact, not only that, but what about some of the monopolies that there are starting to be their starting to look up and say: oh wait, there are five companies that are basically controlling you know a few go to Emma. If you are an Amazon shopper, you are hopeful, goods. They own you there you own a day. They know your habits bay, I'm an echo in your house. This idea that they are starting to take over not just one
part of your life, but every single facet of your life, the privacy questions that there are Supreme it is hearing arguments right now about whether yourself Odin can be used to track. Your movements are not by the police is starting to be a conversation at every single level of society, I think it started in a very, very small place, which was leg, mom, an dads and parents and and people sway being tender and and questioning like, why do I feel unhappy right now? But actually this this? gills to the Supreme Court, its Capitol Hill. It is Lookin Valley, it is the way that our economy is set up recently read to you presented to you, you said even if it seems to me that even after at least, would have gleaned from you as far as, even after doing all this work, writing this great book and hosting podcasting you still struggling to have a healthy relationship with your tech, Jan Fischer
and I think part as they say about how this wealth is less about me. more about the expectations that we ve created in society. I don't think that this can be simply a personal. You know it's not just self help. This is about creating a culture I can communities societies where time is valued more, then responsive mess. I mean what I think is that we ve started to confuse productivity with responsiveness. We think, because You know I can let my team no like I'm on my way back, from seeing the inherent a baby seat like no ok, they don't need to know that you're, not you know, I'm my team: up to date, we are were constantly talking were constantly checking in with people were updating what's on your mind what he wants to know facebooks like what are you doing, my team is on slack saying: hey: are you close? You know this constant, updating, updating, updating, as opposed to
I'm saying Heroin, want to use my time right now and an prioritizing. I think what it comes down to his self regulation. Asking yourself, you know how to use your devices, but also culture Billy, setting expectations, so one of the other We asked people to do is to take a vacation to mean we ask out of office. You know you, you go away for the holidays, Then an out of office email response would, if you set for one hour every day and just said a man elbow from ten eleven, but get back to you, but the key is to say I will get back to you at eleven. When I log back on to reset the expectation, sir, you you only as a corrective to all this on boredom you rhapsodize a little bit about the day, the upside of boredom. Well there's it
it's funny dynamics. People were really weird when I wanted to use the word boredom David really can see you Something a little more positive like be dreaming or spacing out like now. To be boredom because boredom is painful and It was interesting like there to be some people who are like. Oh, I told You know what you're talking about its when I moved along on sundays- and I can't do anything else, it's so loud and it's so boring, but then about ten minutes, and I start to lake think about something. and then I have a teenager who said to me. I really don't like this. If you'll super weird I've never experienced this feeling before as lake, that's that's boredom. my own childhood yeah right exactly but I think you- and I are these- this weird last sort of decade of people who You know remember talking on the phone,
for three hours and then hanging about on the wall or so somebody I set a great to tweet. Ironically today from my friend Michael Crowley's political writer and he's so he was referring to somebody who asked who put out into the twitter sphere what what kind of story do you have? That proves your old and he said making a phone call. find out what time it is our view that calling I'm good. I remembered that I fear that was it. I used to do that of la I totally. number that usually, I saw a good tweet. That said too, Has this weird ability to make the small things seem important and the important things team very trivial yes Alaric, while that is true, so you I want to solve this. Don't you Daniel, like how we gonna fix it, we're alone? No nine! I know it's not. I actually think you said the right then read the beginning, which is assistance
This is not scientists, art and it's about, like just figuring out what it tight trading it for yourself. It was not the aggregate these things out themselves. I know that's. You said it's annoying. It is annoying, but it probably just true. We note the sick, the suggestions and tweaks you're, giving us in our all useful and we should try them, but yet ultimately, decisions the hours the lab is our is in our own mind. Now I asked you to begin and lifestyles like to point out in less there the consumer backlash which could becoming. I think you know it's interesting. I I don't know how much I can say with this, but I spent some time talking to some tech executives recently any major companies behalf, and I got the sense that there is concern. So I was talking to my thirteen year old neighbour, the other day. She got her phone, you not to write a passage as lake, woody gonna, do like beyond Instagram electronics. cool and she looked at me, she's like
only losers are on their funds all weekend, and I was like, oh Why, then, is interesting? If there can, I mean we ve changed how we feel about wearing seat belts, you no harm, believe, fifty years ago they can smoke in a bar in New York city. Thou two men I'll an outrage and two years later, nobody one distinct when they came home at the end of the year. It was a big deal wooden wimble bloomer was people were passed him yeah yeah, so I don't know The time has compressed right. The way nineteen year old uses. Their technology is very different than the way a thirteen year old respect. So am I you know. I'm curious watch that, space, look to see where is show not cool to be posted on the weekends. Thirdly, really really really interesting, like what I was getting out, what I was trying to get up a forest is when I ask you whether you meditate or your inner meditation, you said you dont know that you are would say more about
also, I think, Education has always been very aspirational to me. I love this. This is the subject of the book that I've just written, which is like trying to figure out. Why? Because I think it aspiration for a lot of people. Yes, it's gone from being ridiculous to being aspiration. Oh yeah, but people have the aspiration and get aren't doing it, and my question is why Do you notice I started fidgeting when I said that, by the way like moving around in my chair, I got to this point. Where I think I had tried so many times that I decided I was gonna, save it for my fifty's. why I decided that it was like when I'm in my fifties. I will learn to meditate. I can't do it why I have kids, I can't do it while I'm you know, hopefully at the peak of my career. You know trying to criminal in every day. I think the pig is yet to come. I hope you're right. I think you know I again
I have seen what happens to most women who are of a certain age and knew where do they go down? Where did the older women in the newsroom girl? Neither the businesses were kind older men either now the record but its. It is especially cruel to older I agree and- and it's not just this business, it's every business, that's the truth and where it really I've potentially very healthy moment in our society or certain look not just at sexual harassment and assault, but sexism who this is a thing that my wife and I talk about all the time. Please higher yeah. It is in in medicine in particular, and I my mother's doctors, well, the system was set up by men format and it doesn't allow many women, especially women, who want to have kids to thrive, and that drives a lot of incredibly talented people out of work
you guys manage it. When you add your kid were stored, figuring out now, she's taking a break right now, taken break after unbelievable amounts of study and work and she's all interests, ultra special anyway, I have taken us a way way way. It doesn't really matter to mask. She has double specialty in pulmonary medicine and emergent. I Do you intend to push? You must know? My very dear friend of mine at that you see San Diego is also in your opponent, opponent, pulmonary national to surgery sued I e r its intensive care. So that's like the icy you, ok yeah you get to the r and d you're really really not a good situation. They send you to intensive care, but said oh yeah, so it's but its super specialist. But a long way saying I do I do I yes, media is tough on its tarred. It's hard place to be tat, long jeopardy, no question about about ISIS. I think pod cast
it- may be different if feel different than when I was doing survey. That sure I mean I don't know, that's a lame reasons be implied. Casting his neck is no one can see how old. I am a guess why you're in August thing, I think, he's a ancillary benefit not reason to get into maybe, but anyway, I think you need to each year fifty milk, ok yeah. Let's get back to that on my God, so all over the place, tat brain no kidding so I think what a leg, what was the most ludicrous was when I started seeing that like I'd written like learn to meditate on my to do list, which is absurd? No isn't that now you think it's ok to schedule it Should I just do that when so I've spent a lot of time n n s better. I saw the bridge x or is that I was very easy for me: do that to have it not because I'm super disciplined, but because I have a long and pronounced history
depression, anxiety, panic and substance abuse, and it was pretty obvious to me aid from the research can be for my own personal experience that this is something to be useful and keeping the stuff at Bay or mid, mitigating it. And so I it was pretty knows him and no brain or do you use probably your term ugly, keep doing to keep going, and I had to try what I a temperate and happier Othello everybody Oki every reads: this will start to meditate my own wife, basically edited the book didn't meditate until recently, and so I I had to do a reckoning with like: why is it that people are doing this thing that everybody now knows is good for them in it doesn't involve a lot of the things that people feared. Like you know, you have to join a culture. Anything like that. like that, though, that its prescriptive. In a way I mean I don't know, I've read your book. I dont know why didn't think of it that way as Blake? Oh, I go to.
The jam you now, because I am because I wanted a strong cause, I'd because mother otherwise my backwards. I need to make take as otherwise I'm kind of a leg, panicky nightmare? Yes, all I know is I often looking for quiet. I desperately seek nature and I want to have it in my kids life as well, and I think the clothes must I get to it. Is I They did it in the name of boredom, but perhaps I am doing it in the name of meditation is I go without listening to anything, that's a big one. That's that's hard to do. It's really asked so I get into the issue of boredom mindfulness, so I'm not antis boredom, all in the way that you discuss it. But it's interesting to me. organised my thoughts here that you you talk of. You talked about the default modem
Where can you talked about in a kind of positive way that were not sort of doing some, we're not totally distracted by tech? We're not engaged in them in the motion of swiping in searching in replying that, then we can revert to what's called the default mode and an you talk about it again and in a positive but in meditation circles the default motors often talked about in a very negative way, which is that We are not paying attention to our actual lives or not engaged in a proper and in something that we have to focus on like enlivening conversation with another human being. Creative work tasting our food, and we tend to revert to the this. default mode, which is mostly me me me often very negative, and ruminative ruminative and repetitive, and yes, all these goods can come out of it. We need the default modal, otherwise we would have skyscrapers and irrigation says
and Piano sonatas button, but that is kind of the the beautiful tip of the iceberg that but there but but everything below the water is often had a pretty nest. The and am repetitive that generally the logic you hear coming out of this group of, our scientists known as contemplative, neuroscience study what meditation does and they should show that meditation can knock you out of the default mode and into not what happened. when you're on tack, but instead what happens when you are really into a beauty? A piece of music or or you're really focused on. What's happening right now, so too either an interesting tension between the boredom that you, extolling and mindfulness, which is kind of a and I think this room for both I'm not anti daydreaming, mind wandering constructive boredom. I think we need those things,
mindful all the time we didn't have all for that right, but it is a really useful skill to have and to build. I think you're till they re about that. I feel it It's like mindfulness and mind wandering, which is what I am talking about, are like kind of salt and pepper right. They don't say things taste best when you are able to have a little bit about what you want to my mother's, either of them I've. I find that when I like to think of when we think of boredom. That then goes into I frame and in a positive way, because I think boredom has gotten up wrap right. We think like, oh, no, I'm bored quite get rid of it, but actually, if we frame it a positive way. If we explain that yes, the default mode does absolutely all the experts that I spoke to were like there's the despotic element. As you said, the shoot. I wish I had said told Dan about this amazing moment I had, and I you know,
I myself or that my book at this one bad review, and I can't I can't shake it. Ok, but if I find that once you name it s an incredibly powerful thing. Oh I'm in a moan and I'm in a ruminating stage. Let's not do that. Let's see if I can, use this time that I have to allow my mind to wander to a good place and when I of mind wandering it's like with mindfulness. You talk about it with mindfulness. I think people talk about in the moment right with mind wandering, I think of it as time travel like that, you are you're, remembering things in your allowing yourself to go back in time to relive moments, to think through things, and then You're going into the future and new or visualizing why it could look like and parsing the tiny details to figure out how to make it. So can you actually do those things? That's where I think
mindfulness comes in. I think that you, the salt and pepper thing, is really we in the mindfulness community tend to. run down boredom from a different side. You're you're you're the, you're Talkin bout, boredom in the pejorative of you're talking about people who are so addicted their technology to can't they can't abide the thought of of not having seen relations relation. Like that study. There was a study couple years ago. The put people in a room We know nothing to do x x. The only thing in the room was a machine that would give you an electric shock. Doktor loathing universe. Virginia they Zactly random people ended up shocking themselves because they would rather have pain, enough, then no stimulation. So that's that's a delegation of boredom from one side in the mindfulness community. We denigrate boredom as a lack of attention,
you are something is boring to you. Often, your breath in meditation is boring to you, because you're actually not really made to it, and I agree with that, put down of boredom from our side, the mindfulness side, but I also think there is Absolutely something to be said for dreaming in mind wandering and often we in the marvelous commuter criticised for being kind of like the nanny state of the Mai will always have the big attention and by the way by that from a friend of my lab bury boys. The the inequity is right, you can't wiki, we can expect you to be, painful all the time and the injunction to do so is just super super. Annoying. The the salt pepper thing is really nice that you you should the skill to be mindful, because so much of what we do more mine wondering is negative and self referential and and repetitive, but you can then
and do what you just described, which is the triple lindy, which is too mindfully, mind wander, which has to notice yeah. Oh yeah, ok, my man wondering right now is ridiculous and useless Let me mine wander about sending more constructive. Yes, I think that's exactly raid. What I find interesting is that we're having this conversation at all, because when I do speak to some older people, they're kind of the Lummix limitation thing- I think you know the time had when when did meditation sort of like really kick off in this country? Two thousand. I think you it's so I got it didn't like two thousand nine and as I often went to say it was the first all my life. I've ever been ahead of a trend, and now still total happenstance. I just come to stumble upon it for about a whole bunch reasons, I would say it started to get it started yet, cooler in early two thousand tens when you start to see big. So a british doing it? Em athletes and scientists
etc, etc, and it has been building steadily since that. So at the risk of sounding insane idling of Jonas Ok. Thank you for that. Now, it's normal ray! connotations kind of like. Oh, I gotta go to my yoga class. Some of them are less meditative than others. Obviously, but you know it's yoga. Normal meditation is something that we expect ourselves to do. We also order our groceries online, and we do all of these things, and it's almost like, I think, walk Claude mind wandering believe boredom out of it. It is controversial, but the mind wandering thing I think, is about five years behind what you're saying and I ll give you an example. I did a TED talk earlier this year. Boy. Could I be meditation, should have actually did you some ok now, I'm thinking about it. In any case, though,
We're like so wait a minute through moment where the producer was like, so your TED talk is basically telling people that they need to think outside Europe and she's, like and your finding the people need to hear this lake. Yes, that is where we are right. Now we are so high saturated with information. Stimuli all kinds of stimuli, physical, mental? psychological that we're we're on the fritz so back to the salt and pepper, little bit of meditation little bit of letting yourself think about the things that work consuming. That, I think, is where we need to get to the beautiful place to leave it. What's that go into it
started calling the plug zone. Ok out is plug the hell out of everything you guys like you, give it okay, so I mean after this conversation. How dirty do I feel saying you can find me on twitter. I'm at Manoeuvre Z, my website, but we're not saying don't use social now were lying on. The russian wisdom use it with wisdom to only contact me if you ve thought about what you're going to say before him. So I'm Avenue C on Twitter. I do love talking to people, you can email me or get in touch. I met minutiae, z, dot com. My book is called what a brilliant its wherever good books are sold. Maybe when that be cool, if they were like, you bought porter Oh yeah, maybe you're interested indent. I would like to be greatly Sammy, really cool, known pepper books, the bags here and we should have a dinner party, the pod gases.
Note to self. Is it no dissolve radio dot org hugely popular hugely, but we have reliable lover near it's good, and meditation is a recurring theme that we talk about for sure, Jade maintain I'm sure you ve, as he's a former guest others by yeah he's been It's an important part of people library. I really. I feel that leggy, the things that you and I are talking about when we need to talk about, we need them to be part of what we teach our kids, listen to you, know healthy eating and all those things it's it's about being a better men or just being human period. Trade not just avoiding the singularity, at least for now, for now learning to tell the difference being your phone bringing in your tummy roiling. Thank you. actual job modern language thanks for having me? Oh wait other thing: we got all hug you're on my show: oh yeah, that's right!
hang out at no dissolve because Dan's gonna be hanging out with you on my show and had I being interviewed by a journalist, has a jury, Let us never pay me ass. Well, yeah, just you wave money, so you Thursday, I confirm that we too revenge Ok, that does 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 project Lauren Efron just go ahead 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 News broadcasts, dot, com, I'll talk to you next Wednesday. there's not a person in Amerika who hasn't been impact it in some way by the corona virus pandemic, but it every community there are pockets of people
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