Show cover of The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness Podcast aims to deepen and improve every area of a man's life, from fitness and philosophy, to relationships and productivity. Engaging and edifying interviews with some of the world's most interesting doers and thinkers drop the fluff and filler to glean guests' very best, potentially life-changing, insights.


The Naturalist’s Art of Animal Encounters
Whether you see some deer, have a fox cross your path, or spot a moose, there’s something disportionately delightful about encountering wildlife. Even seeing something pedestrian like a possum feels really fun.If you’d like to have more of these kinds of encounters, and a deeper experience with nature as a result, my guest has some tips for making them happen more often. His name is Dave Hall, and he’s an outdoor educator and guide, as well as the author of The Naturalist’s Companion: A Field Guide to Observing and Understanding Wildlife. Today on the show, Dave and I first talk about the safety and ethical considerations around observing wild animals. We then discuss the best places to spot wildlife (and how it could be in your own backyard), whether there’s a best time of day to encounter animals, and the approach to take so that the animals don’t know you’re there, or if they do, feel comfortable with your presence. Dave shares the gaze to adopt to spy more animals and the signs that will help you find them. We end our conversation with how to practice what Dave calls “spontaneous acceptance,” which may allow you to chill with a beaver.Resources Related to the PodcastField guides and nature-related books that Dave recommends:Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking by Tom Brown Jr.Peterson Field GuidesTimber Press Field GuidesTracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign by Paul RezendesWhat the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon YoungTouching the Wild by Joe HuttoBeaversprite: My Years Building an Animal Sanctuary by Dorothy RichardsDave’s previous appearance on the AoM podcast: Episode #157 — Primitive Pursuits & Winter SurvivalAoM Article: A Primer on Identifying Animal FootprintsAoM Podcast #739: Rewild Your LifeAoM Podcast #194: The Field Notes of Theodore RooseveltConnect With Dave HallDave’s website
46:10 29/03/2023
The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in a World That Won’t Stop Talking
We live in a chatter-filled world. People will talk your ear off when you see them in person and everyone is constantly sharing their thoughts online. But my guest would say that all this chatter may be hurting us more than we know, and it would be better to close our pieholes and sit on our typing fingers a lot more often than we do.His name is Dan Lyons, and he's the author of STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy World. Today on the show, Dan unpacks how being quiet and speaking with greater intention can improve your life. We discuss why some people tend to overtalk more than others and the six types of overtalkers out there, from the blurter to the most extreme case, the talkaholic, for whom overtalking is practically an addiction. We then discuss not getting sucked into spouting off online, avoiding conversational narcissism, the argument for spending less time working on your personal brand and more time doing quality work, how silence is power, how the best way to deal with issues in a marriage may be by not talking about them, and more. Resources Related to the PodcastAoM Article: The Virtuous Life — SilenceAoM Article: The Spiritual Disciplines — SilenceAoM Article: The Quiet Man’s PowerAoM Podcast #389: What It Means to Be a Quiet ProfessionalAoM Article: How to Avoid Conversational NarcissismAoM Article: Why the Secret of a Happy, Successful Marriage Is Treating It Like a Bank AccountAoM series on becoming a better listenerJonathan Haidt on how social media is causing a mental illness epidemic in teenage girls "Millions of Followers? For Book Sales, 'It's Unreliable'"International Listening Association Connect with Dan LyonsDan's website
53:22 27/03/2023
A Kantian Guide to Life
If you've had some contact with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, there's a good chance you found it abstract, heady, and hard to understand. But my guest would say that it's full of rich, usable insights on how to become better people, and, fortunately for us, she's got a true knack for making Kant's wisdom really accessible.Karen Stohr is a professor of philosophy and the author of Choosing Freedom: A Kantian Guide to Life. Today on the show, she brings Kant's ethical system and categorical imperative down to earth and shares how it can be applied to our everyday lives. We discuss Kant's belief in our great moral potential and duty to improve ourselves, and how his insights can help us make right choices. Karen explains Kant's ideas on the difference between negative and positive freedom, the importance of treating people as ends and not just means, the tension between love and respect, why ingratitude could be considered a "satanic vice," how practicing manners can make us better people, and more.You Kant miss this episode. Sorry, I had to do that.Resources Related to the PodcastAoM Article: Freedom From…Freedom ToAoM Article: Practical Wisdom — The Master VirtueAoM Article: Via Negativa — Adding to Your Life By SubtractingAoM Podcast #292: The Road to CharacterAoM Podcast #421: Why You Need a Philosophical Survival KitAoM Podcast #535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid AgeSunday Firesides: Embracing the Coin of CharacterSunday Firesides: Manners Develop Self-Control (And May Preserve Democracy)AoM Article: Are You a Contemptible Person?MLK's "Loving Your Enemies" sermonOn Manners by Karen StohrOxford's Guides to the Good Life series of booksConnect with Karen StohrKaren's faculty page
52:53 22/03/2023
Finally Follow Through
You get really excited about an idea to start an exercise program, or become a better partner, or get organized. And then you do . . . nothing. Absolutely nothing.It's said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Even if they don't send you straight to Hades, good intentions, that go unfulfilled, can lead to real suffering. When you fail to act on your perennial plans for progress, you end up feeling frustrated, demoralized, and stuck.My guest is a clinical psychologist who has spent his career obsessed with how to tackle this stubborn issue of human existence. His name is Steve Levinson, and he's the co-author of Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start. Steve first explains the unhelpful ideas we have about why we don't follow through and that its real cause comes down to a tension between two different systems within us. He then shares the ah-ha moment he had as to how to reconcile these systems in order to consistently follow through on your intentions and offers strategies on how to put his follow-through method into practice. We end our conversation with the idea that the greatest strategy for increasing your follow-through is treating your intentions with a seriousness that borders on the sacred.Resources Related to the PodcastAoM Article: Stop Procrastinating Today With Behavioral ScienceAoM Podcast #444: How to Use the Procrastination Equation to Start Getting Things DoneAoM Article: What Gandhi and a 19th-Century Prussian Prince Can Teach You About Making Unbreakable ResolutionsSunday Firesides: Lash Yourself to the MastAoM Article: The Power of Temptation BundlingSunday Firesides: Do You Take This Habit . . . ?Connect With Steve LevinsonFollowingThrough websiteSteve on LinkedIn
47:13 20/03/2023
Bat Bombs, Truth Serums, and the Masterminds of WWII Secret Warfare
Many a man has been impressed by the ingenuity of secret agent operations, and intrigued by the subterfuge, gadgets, and disguises required to pull them off. Much of what we think about when we think about spies got its start as part of the Office of Strategic Services, the American intelligence agency during World War II.Here to unpack some of the history of the world of cloak and dagger operations is John Lisle, author of The Dirty Tricks Department: Stanley Lovell, the OSS, and the Masterminds of World War II Secret Warfare. Today on the show, Lisle explains why the OSS was created and the innovations its research and development section came up with to fight the Axis powers. We talk about the most successful weapons and devices this so-called “Dirty Tricks Department” developed, as well as its more off-the-wall ideas, which included releasing bat bombs and radioactive foxes in Japan. We discuss the department’s attempt to create a truth serum, its implementation of a disinformation campaign involving “The League of Lonely War Women,” and its promotion of a no-holds-barred hand-to-hand combat fighting system. We also talk about the influence of the OSS on the establishment of the CIA and controversial projects like MKUltra.Resources Related to the PodcastWilliam “Wild Bill” DonovanOffice of Strategic ServicesWilliam FairbairnTime pencil“Aunt Jemima” explosiveLimpet mineThe bat bombJohn’s article on Operation Fantasia’s radioactive foxesAoM Article: 15 Cool Spy ConcealmentsAoM Podcast #225: The Real Life James BondAoM Article: The History of Invisible InkAoM Article: Why Men Love the Story of the Great EscapeConnect With John LisleJohn on TwitterJohn’s website 
45:09 15/03/2023
Anxiety Is a Habit — Here's How to Break It
You may think of anxiety as a reaction, a feeling, or a disorder. My guest today says that perhaps the best way to think about anxiety, especially if you want to treat it effectively, is as a habit.His name is Dr. Judson Brewer, and he's a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, and the author of Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. Dr. Jud and I begin our conversation with what anxiety is, and how it gets connected into a habit loop that can lead to other maladaptive behaviors like drinking, overeating, and worrying. Dr. Jud then explains how to hack the anxiety habit loop by mapping it out, disenchanting your anxiety-driven behaviors, and giving your brain "a bigger, better offer" by getting curious about your anxiety. We also talk about why asking why you're anxious is not part of this process, and end our conversation with how this habit-based approach to behavior change can also work for things like depression and anger.Resources Related to the PodcastAoM Podcast #497: The Meaning, Manifestations, and Treatments for AnxietyAoM Podcast #614: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your LifeAoM article, podcast, and video on hacking the habit loopAoM article on asking "what" instead of "why"Undoing Depression by Richard O'ConnorConnect With Dr. JudDr. Jud's Website
37:57 13/03/2023
The Fitness Supplements That Actually Work
In your journey towards becoming stronger, fitter, and healthier, there often comes a point where you wonder if taking some supplements will help your progress along. But what fitness supplements are actually effective and worth investing in?Here to answer that question is Layne Norton, a powerlifter and doctor of nutritional science who has a passion for debunking health-related myths and promoting evidence-based recommendations. He’s also, full disclosure, the owner of a supplement company himself. But I don’t have any financial connection to Layne’s company and we keep this conversation neutral and high-level. In our conversation, Layne argues that there are three top-tier research-backed supplements to consider — whey protein, creatine, and caffeine — and we unpack how to use each of them for optimal results. We discuss whether plant proteins are sufficient for building muscle, whether it’s true that creatine causes bloating, acne, and hair loss, how to best time your caffeine intake to energize your workouts, and much more. At the end of our conversation, Layne shares some additional supplements that seem promising for enhancing your health and fitness.Resources Related to the EpisodeLayne’s previous appearance on the AoM podcast: Episode #475 — How to Lose Weight, and Keep It Off ForeverLayne’s supplement company: Outwork NutritionAoM Article: A Primer On Muscle-Building Supplements — Which Work and Which Don’t?AoM Article: Creatine — A Primer on Its Benefits and UseAoM Article: How to Use Caffeine to Optimize Your WorkoutsAoM Article: Chugging Your Protein — It’s Whey Easier Than You ThinkAoM Podcast #285: The Real Science of Nutrition and SupplementsConnect With Layne NortonLayne on InstagramLayne‘s website
43:44 08/03/2023
The Essential Framework for Understanding The Art of War
You heard about The Art of War, and it sounded pretty cool. So you picked up a copy to read. But you found that, beyond a few of its famous maxims, a lot of this text attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu was hard to understand, much less incorporate into your life.My guest offers a tripartite framework that can help you get a lot more out of The Art of War. His name is Jim Gimian, and he's an editor of one of the text's translations as well as the co-author of The Rules of Victory: How to Transform Chaos and Conflict—Strategies from The Art of War. Today on the show, Jim argues that The Art of War is a holistic, interconnected text that's about how to approach conflict and obstacles in a holistic, interconnected way. Underlying this approach are three dynamics: Heaven, Earth, and General, which correspond to View, Practice, and Action. Jim and I talk about the importance of constantly orienting and reorienting yourself to an ever-changing world, working with the shih, or energy, in the landscape you're navigating, using action to further refine your perspective, and more.Resources Related to the EpisodeThe Art of War: The Denma TranslationProfessor Andrew Wilson's Great Courses course on Masters of WarAoM Podcast #664: The Masters of the Art of War With Andrew WilsonAoM Article: 43 Books About War Every Man Should ReadAoM Article: Lessons from The Art of War — Good Leaders vs. Bad LeadersAoM Article: The Tao of Boyd — How to Master the OODA LoopConnect With Jim GimianThe Rules of Victory websiteJim on LinkedIn
42:47 06/03/2023
Why You Like the Music You Do
What albums and songs are getting a lot of play on your Spotify or iTunes app currently? My guest would say that the music you put in heavy rotation comes down to your unique "listener profile."Her name is Susan Rogers, and she's a music producer-turned-neuroscientist as well as the co-author of This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You. Today on the show, Susan unpacks the seven dimensions of music and how they show up along a varying spectrum in every song. She explains how everyone has an individualized taste for the configuration of these dimensions, and that how closely a particular song aligns with this pattern of sweet spots accounts for whether you like it or not. Along the way, we discuss artists that exemplify these dimensions, how Frank Sinatra injected virility into his music, how part of your musical taste has to do with the way you prefer to move your body, and much more.Artists and Songs Mentioned in the EpisodePrince's Purple RainBarenaked LadiesThe ShaggsElla FitzgeraldThe RentalsThe KillersTame ImpalaSteven PageJohnny CashCakeJames Brown's "Hot Pants"Yes' "Roundabout"Pharrell Williams' "Happy"Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe"Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool and Kind of BlueFrank Sinatra's first hit song "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" (1940) vs. "It Was a Very Good Year" (1965)Connect With Susan RogersThe This Is What It Sounds Like website, including the "Record Pull"Susan's faculty page
53:33 01/03/2023
Authority Is More Important Than Social Skills
Influence comes down to a person's level of authority. When someone is perceived as having power, status, and worth, others readily follow them and comply with them.Authority isn't just a matter of position. It's also a personal quality.When people attempt to develop their influence or authority, they tend to focus on learning social skills and changing their behaviors around speech and body language.But my guest would say that authority isn't about what you learn but who you are, and that once you establish the right lifestyle and mindset, influential behaviors will emerge as a natural byproduct.Chase Hughes is a behavioral analyst who trains both military operatives and civilians. Today on the show, Chase unpacks the five factors that measure someone's level of authority and produce composure, a state which resides between posturing and collapse. We talk about how so much of authority comes down to having your stuff together, why you should become your own butler, and what Andy Griffith has to teach about leadership. We also talk about the things that kill your authority, and how not to be influenced by false authority.After the show is over, check out the show notes at Related to the EpisodeChase's books:Six-Minute X-Ray: Rapid Behavior ProfilingThe Ellipsis Manual: Analysis and Engineering of Human BehaviorChase's appMilgram experiment"The Social Psychology of Imitated Jaywalking"Chase's Authority Self-Assessment MatrixAoM Article: The 5 T’s of Mastering the Art of PoiseBecoming a Well-Differentiated LeaderAoM Article: Never Complain; Never ExplainSmoke-filled room experimentAoM Article: 8 Reasons You’re Hardwired for SheepnessThe 34 Behaviors That Will Kill Your AuthorityConnect With ChaseHughesChase's websiteChase on IGChase's YouTube channel and The Behavioral Panel YouTube channelChase on Twitter 
45:57 27/02/2023
Throw a 2-Hour Cocktail Party That Can Change Your Life
When Nick Gray moved to New York City, he was a shy introvert with few friends. But he wanted to build up his social network. So he started throwing cocktail parties to meet people. These parties changed his life, and he thinks they can change yours, too.Nick knows what you're thinking: you don't throw parties, and hosting them is simply not for you. But, he would encourage you not to tune out. He's got a great case for why you should give this idea a try, and just as he does in his book — The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings — Nick is going to lay out exactly how to throw a party that's low stakes and low effort, but will be highly successful in helping you build all kinds of connections.Today on the show, Nick shares what he's learned from throwing hundreds of parties and refining his hosting technique to a T. He explains why cocktail parties are better than dinner parties (and don't have to involve actual cocktails), the best night of the week to throw a party, why the party should only be two hours long and have a firm end time, how many people to invite, and who to invite when you don't yet have any friends. And he explains why he's a big fan of two things you might be hesitant about — name tags and icebreakers — and why two of his favorite things to include in a party are grapes and a harmonica.Resources Related to the EpisodeRelated articles by Nick:How to Host a Party at Home With KidsHow to Host a Digital Nomad Happy HourMocktail Party: How to Host When You Don’t Drink AlcoholHow to Do Icebreakers: The Ultimate GuideEvent Platforms: Pros, Cons, and My FavoritesRelated AoM articles and podcasts:The Manly Art of HospitalityHow to End a Conversation9 Reasons You Should Host a Party This WeekendPodcast #378: Brunch Is HellPodcast #362: The Art of MinglingConnect With Nick GrayNick's websiteNick's newsletterNick on IG
63:35 22/02/2023
The Myths of Trauma
Among people who experience some sort of trauma, what percentage do you think go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder? A third? A Half? More?Actually, the answer is 10%. An overestimation of how common it is to develop PTSD after trauma is one of the misconceptions my guest thinks are leading to its overdiagnosis and an underestimation of human resilience.Dr. Joel Paris is a professor emeritus of psychiatry and the author of Myths of Trauma: Why Adversity Does Not Necessarily Make Us Sick. Today on the show, Joel explains what some of those myths of trauma are, including the idea that it's trauma itself which causes PTSD. Joel argues that PTSD is instead created when exposure to trauma meets an individual's susceptibility to it, and he explains what psychological, biological, and even social factors contribute to this susceptibility. We also get into how the methods used to prevent the triggering of trauma can backfire and how the treatment for PTSD will be ineffective if it only focuses on processing an adverse experience.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoMPodcast #788: The Dangers of “Concept Creep”AoM Podcast #555: Dandelion Children vs. Orchid ChildrenFrom Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era by Edward ShorterAoM Podcast #440: The 3 Great Untruths That Are Setting Up a Generation for FailureJay Belsky's research on differential sensitivity Video demonstration of EMDRRadical Acceptance Interview with Bruce Wampold as to what makes for a good therapistJoel's other booksConnect With Joel ParisJoel's faculty page
41:02 20/02/2023
Leadership Lessons from a Disastrous Arctic Expedition
You've probably heard of Ernest Shackleton, and his ill-fated Antarctic expedition. The Endurance, the ship on which he and his crew sailed, famously became trapped in ice, sunk, and set the men and their indomitable leader off on an arduous journey to safety and rescue.But the Shackleton expedition wasn't the only one to meet such a fate, and to become a crucible for leadership. The year before the demise of the Endurance, the Karluk, flagship vessel of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, became icebound and sunk, leaving its crew to trek 80 miles across dangerous ice floes to an island, and its captain to travel 1,000 miles more to obtain rescue for those marooned survivors. Buddy Levy shares that compelling story in his new book Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk, and unpacks it for us today on the show. Along the way, he brings out the leadership lessons in planning, maintaining morale, and embodying endurance you can glean from the expedition's two dominant figures: its ostensible leader, who abandoned the ship, and the Karluk's captain, who did all he could to save its shipwrecked survivors.Resources Related to the EpisodeLabyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition by Buddy LevyEndurance by Alfred LansingAoM Article: Leadership Lessons from Ernest ShackletonAoM Article: What They Left and What They Kept — What an Antarctic Expedition Can Teach You About What’s Truly ValuableAoM Article: Alone — Lessons on Solitude From an Antarctic ExplorerConnect With Buddy LevyBuddy's Website
55:02 15/02/2023
Jane Austen for Dudes
Years ago, I was flipping through TV channels and came across Hugh Laurie, of Dr. House fame, decked out in 19th-century English gentleman garb. Because I was a House fan, I was curious about what Hugh Laurie sounded like with his native British accent, so I paused my channel surfing to find out.Then I brought up the title and saw that I was watching Sense and Sensibility. "Ugh. Jane Austen. No way I would enjoy that," I thought. I associated Jane Austen with foo-fooey lady stuff. So my plan was to flip the channel as soon as I heard Dr. House talk British.Two hours later, the end credits for Sense and Sensibility scrolled down the screen. I had watched the entire thing. Didn't even get up to go the bathroom.Not only did I watch the whole movie, I remember thinking, "Man, that was really good."Thanks to Dr. House, my resistance to Austen was broken, and I found myself genuinely curious about her books. So I got the free version of her collected works and slowly started working my way through what are arguably her three best: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. And I'll be darned if I didn't truly enjoy them all.If you're a dude who's written off Jane Austen's work as I once did, perhaps today's podcast will convince you that there's something in it for women and men alike and encourage you to give her novels a try. My guest is John Mullan, a professor of English and the author of What Matters in Jane Austen? John and I discuss the literary innovation Austen pioneered that influenced the likes of Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove and will give your social agility a healthy workout. John then explains why soldiers and Winston Churchill turned to Austen during the world wars. We also discuss the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre's argument that Austen's work was "the last great representative of the classical tradition of virtues," Austen's idea of manliness, and how a man's choice of a wife will shape his character. And John shares his recommendation for which Austen novel men should read first.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Article: Why Every Man Should Read Jane AustenEditions of Jane Austen's works available in the public domainEditions of Sense and Sensibility and Emmawith introductions by JohnAoM Podcast #824: Lonesome Dove and Life’s Journey Through UncertaintyRudyard Kipling's short story "The Janeites"After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyreConnect With John MullanJohn's Faculty PageListen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
55:58 13/02/2023
Get a Handle on Your Shrinking Attention Span
Twenty years ago, it didn't seem like a burdensome task to write a handwritten letter to a loved one. Fifteen years ago, it wasn't a big deal to write a long email to a friend. Today, it can feel hard to motivate yourself to tap out a two line response to a text.The feeling that your attention span has been shrinking over time isn't just in your head. Research by today's guest shows that it is empirically getting shorter and shorter.Dr. Gloria Mark is the world's preeminent researcher on attention and the author of Attention Span. If you'd like to get a handle on your diminishing powers of concentration, you have to understand how attention works, and that's what Gloria explains in the first part of our conversation. We then get into how multitasking is like drawing on and wiping off a whiteboard and why it makes us feel so frazzled. Gloria then shares the way that personality influences your attention span, including why people who are more neurotic have the shortest attention spans and why conscientious people may not want to use distraction-blocking apps. We then get into how the internet and the shot lengths of modern movies reinforce our short attention spans. In the last part of our conversation, Gloria makes the case that fighting the hindrances to our attention by trying to be focused all the time isn't possible or desirable, and that our goal should be balanced focus rather than hyper focus. She explains how to achieve that balanced focus by leaning into your unique productivity rhythm, taking breaks without guilt, and developing a sense of agency over your attention.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Article: How to Effectively Manage Your AttentionAoM Article: 11 Exercises That Will Strengthen Your AttentionAoM Article: 12 Concentration Exercises from 1918AoM Podcast #420: What Makes Your Phone So Addictive & How to Take Back Your LifeAoM Podcast #553: How to Become IndistractableAoM Podcast #768: Become a Focused MonotaskerAoM Podcast #832: The Power of Unwavering FocusMorningness-Eveningness QuestionnaireConnect With Gloria MarkGloria's Website
50:17 08/02/2023
The Survival Myths That Can Get You Killed
Surviving in the wild can seem like a romantic proposition, at least as it often plays out in popular culture and our imagination. We picture ourselves confidently navigating the obstacles of nature, pulling trout out of mountain streams, and building a snug shelter inside a tree.But the reality of wilderness survival isn't so rosy. Few people know that better than Jim Baird. Jim and his brother won the fourth season of Alone, a reality show that's actually real, and leaves contestants in the wild to face the elements and live off the land. Today on the podcast, Jim shares his experiences surviving on Northern Vancouver Island for 75 days, and what he learned from them as to what's true about survival and what's simply a myth.Resources Related to the EpisodeSeason 4 of Alone"Four Survival Myths That Could Get You Killed" — Field and Stream article by JimAoMPodcast #848: The 5 Priorities of Short-Term SurvivalConnect With Jim BairdJim on YouTubeJim on IGJim on FB 
51:43 06/02/2023
Escape the Happiness Trap
Happiness is the subject of thousands of articles, podcasts, and scientific studies. Yet all this focus on happiness doesn't seem to be making people any happier. In fact, the more they try to be happy, especially by fighting to get rid of bad feelings and cling to good ones, the more unhappy people often become.My guest would say that the first step in escaping this negative cycle is redefining what happiness even means — thinking of it not as a state of feeling good but of doing good.His name is Russ Harris and he's a therapist and the author of The Happiness Trap.Today on the show, Russ explains how struggling against difficult feelings and thoughts just makes them stronger — amplifying instead of diminishing stress, anxiety, depression, and self-consciousness — and how simply obeying your emotions doesn't work out any better. He then unpacks the alternative approach to happiness espoused by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. With ACT, you allow both hard and pleasant feelings to coexist, and unhook from the latter so that they no longer jerk you around. This allows you to focus on taking action on your values to create a meaningful, flourishing life, or in other words, real happiness.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Podcast #614: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life With the Founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Steven HayesAoM Article: From Overwhelmed to Empowered — How Labeling Your Emotions Can Help You Take ControlConnect With Russ HarrisRuss' Website
50:02 01/02/2023
Dante's Guide to Navigating a Spiritual Journey
Dante's Divine Comedy is considered one of the greatest works of literature ever written. The poem not only imagines the three parts of the afterlife, but serves as an allegory for the spiritual journey of the human soul.Here to take us on a tour of the journey Dante describes is Robert Barron, a bishop in the Catholic Church. Today on the show, Bishop Barron offers a bit of background on the Divine Comedy and how it resonates as a story of the search for greater meaning that commonly arises in your mid-thirties. We then delve into Dante's journey through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. We discuss why Dante can't initially climb the redemptive mountain of purgatory and has to go through hell first, the importance of having a tough-but-encouraging guide for any spiritual journey, why hell is an inverted cone that gets narrower and colder at the bottom, and why traitors inhabit its lowest layer. We then get into what it takes to climb Mount Purgatory, why heaven in the Divine Comedy doesn't get much attention, and what Dante finds when he gets there. Along the way, Bishop Barron describes the meaning behind the religious imagery Dante used in his poem, as well as insights that can be applied to any spiritual journey.Resources Related to the EpisodeDivine Comedytranslated by Mark Musa (Bishop Barron's favorite translation)Word on Fire course on Dante and the Divine ComedyAoM Podcast #527: Father Wounds, Male Spirituality, and the Journey to the Second Half of Life With Fr. Richard RohrAoM Podcast #598: Journeying From the First to the Second Half of Life With James HollisAoM Podcast #518: The Second Mountain With David BrooksAoM Article: Lessons in Manliness from DanteThe Seven Story Mountain by Thomas MertonConnect With Bishop Robert BarronWord on Fire WebsiteThe Bishop on FBThe Bishop on IGThe Bishop on Twitter
56:32 30/01/2023
Move the Body, Heal the Mind
When we think about the benefits of exercise, we tend to think of what it does for our body, making us leaner, stronger, and healthier. But my guest is out to emphasize the powerful effect physical activity has on our brains too, and just how much our bodies and minds are connected.Dr. Jennifer Heisz is a professor, the director of the NeuroFit Lab which studies the effects of exercise on brain health, and the author of Move the Body, Heal the Mind. Today on the show, Jennifer and I first discuss how physical activity can help treat mental disorders. She shares the way that low to moderate intensity exercise can mitigate anxiety, and how short bouts of intense exercise can be used as exposure therapy for treating panic disorders. We also talk about the phenomenon of inflammation-induced depression, and how exercise can alleviate it. And Jennifer shares how exercise can strengthen someone's attempt at sobriety, as well as prevent addiction in the first place. From there, we turn to the way exercise can not only mitigate mental maladies but actually optimize the mind. Jennifer shares how physical activity fights aging, and can enhance your focus and creativity. We discuss how exercise can improve your sleep, how it can be used to shift your circadian clock, and whether it's okay to work out close to your bedtime.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Podcast #589: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and CourageAoM Podcast #741: The Exercise Prescription for Depression and AnxietyAoM Podcast #585: Inflammation, Saunas, and the New Science of DepressionAoM Podcast #775: We Need a P.E. RevolutionAoM Podcast #575: Counterintuitive Advice on Making Exercise a Sustainable HabitThe NeuroFit Lab toolkit for overcoming obstacles to exercising consistentlyConnect With Jennifer HeiszJennifer's WebsiteJennifer on TwitterJennifer on InstagramThe NeuroFit Lab Website 
47:50 25/01/2023
Kit Carson's Epic Exploits
Within the space for just three decades, monumental episodes of exploration and expedition, politics and violence, including the mapping the Oregon Trail, the acquisition of California, and the Mexican-American and Civil wars, forever changed the history of the United States and the shape of the American West. And one man, an illiterate trapper, scout, and soldier, was there for it all: Kit Carson.In his book Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West, author and historian Hampton Sides follows Carson as a through-line in this extraordinary period. Today on the show, Hampton and I discuss how Kit Carson became a living legend through embellished accounts of his heroics, and yet undertook real-life exploits that were nearly as unbelievable as the tall tales told about him. We explore how Carson joined the grizzled fraternity of mountain men in his youth, and the wide array of skills that helped him excel as a trapper. We discuss how Carson then parlayed those skills into becoming a scout on expeditions that took him from St. Louis to California, over the Rocky and Sierra mountains, and all throughout the wild, rugged West. Hampton shares how these expeditions turned Carson into a national celebrity and what this frontiersman thought of his fame. Hampton also unpacks Carson’s complex relationship with American Indians, and how he respected and adopted the ways of some tribes, but fought against others. We end our conversation with why he decided to become an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War, his initially reluctant and then brutal campaigns against the Navajos, and his legacy. 
43:39 23/01/2023
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the 21st Century
Over the last year, my 12-year-old son has been doing one challenge every week as a rite of passage and chance to earn a special trip. Some of these challenges have involved reading a book in a week, and the most recent book we gave him to read was How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. His review? He said it was the best book he's read so far.So a book written almost 90 years ago can still be a favorite of a kid in the 21st century. Talk about some staying power. The advice in How to Win Friends & Influence People, and Dale Carnegie's other classic, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, is timeless. But to help introduce it to a new audience, my guest, Joe Hart, has recently co-authored the book Take Command, which synthesizes, updates, and adds to the principles of Carnegie's two perennial bestsellers. Joe is the President and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, which continues Carnegie's work in the present day, and we begin our conversation with some background on the guy who kicked off this work back in 1936. We then talk about what principles we can take from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living on developing a positive mindset. From there, we talk about the big overarching principle of How to Win Friends & Influence People, and how you can use it to improve your relationships. We end our conversation with advice on how to live life with more intentionality and meaning.Resources Related to the EpisodeHow to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale CarnegieHow to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale CarnegieThe Dale Carnegie Website, with links to the Take Command book page and the Dale Carnegie CourseAoM Article: The 8 Best Vintage Self-Improvement BooksAoM Podcast #818: The Philosophy of Self-ImprovementAoM Podcast #457: Leadership Lessons With Craig GroeschelAoM Podcast #527: The Journey to the Second Half of Life With Richard RohrAoM Podcast #518: The Second Mountain With David BrooksConnect With Joe HartJoe on TwitterJoe on LinkedIn
52:14 19/01/2023
Advice on Achieving Any Long-Haul Dream
In a world that celebrates overnight success, it's easy to forget that very often, achieving your dreams takes a heck of a long time. My guest knows this all too well. You may know Steven Pressfield as the bestselling author of books like The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, and The War of Art, but as he details in his new memoir, Govt Cheese, it took more than a quarter century for him to become a published novelist.Today on the show, Steven talks about what he learned in that journey, and the many odd jobs, from driving trucks to picking apples, that he took along the way. We discuss the lessons Steven gleaned that apply to achieving any dream, including how to overcome a propensity for self-sabotage, get your ego out of the way, finish what you start, and develop the killer instinct. This is a great, motivating conversation on learning not to "pull the pin" on the important commitments in your life. And we'll explain what that means coming up.Resources Related to the EpisodeSteven's previous appearances on the show:#55: The Warrior Ethos #281: Overcoming the Resistance by Turning Pro#692: The Two Halves of the Warrior’s LifeSteven's books mentioned in the show:Govt CheesePut Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to BeThe Legend of Bagger VanceThe War of ArtAoM Article: 4 Key Insights From the Bhagavad GitaAoM Article: Hector and Achilles — Two Paths to ManlinessSeth Godin's pamphlet for learning to "ship it"AoM Podcast #849: Live Life in CrescendoConnect With Steven PressfieldSteven's WebsiteSteven on IG 
53:11 16/01/2023
Key Insights From the Longest Study on Happiness
Started in 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development represents the longest study on happiness ever conducted. It set out to follow a group of men through every stage of their lives, from youth to old age, to discover what factors lead people to flourish.Here to share some of the insights that have been gleaned from the Harvard Study of Adult Development is Dr. Robert Waldinger, the current director of the project and the co-author of The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. Today on the show, Robert explains how the study has affirmed the absolute primacy of relationships in happiness and how to develop the “social fitness” to make and enrich those vital connections. We discuss what the happily married couples in the study did differently, and why happiness in marriage tends to follow a U-shaped curve which hits its low point in midlife. We talk about how the way you were raised helps set a trajectory for your life, but how it’s also possible to overcome a rough upbringing to become a transitional character in your family. We also discuss the role that friends and work played in the happiness of the men who participated in the study. We end our conversation with what folks in every stage of development — whether youth, midlife, or older age — should focus on to live a flourishing life.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Article: Love Is All You Need: Insights from the Longest Longitudinal Study on Men Ever ConductedAoM article and podcast on how and why to have weekly marriage meetingsAoM Podcast #795: The U-Shaped Curve of HappinessAoM Article: You Don’t Have to Be Your Dad — How to Become Your Family’s Transitional CharacterAoM Podcast #742: The Power of Talking to StrangersA Eulogy for My Grandfather, William D. HurstConnect With Robert WaldingerThe Good Life websiteHarvard Study of Adult Development
47:11 11/01/2023
Heal the Body With Extended Fasting
In the last several years, intermittent fasting — only eating for a short window each day — has gotten a lot of attention, particularly for the way it can facilitate weight loss. But as my guest will explain, going longer than a few hours or even a full day without eating also has some striking, potentially even life-changing benefits too, and may be able to heal a variety of health issues. Steve Hendricks is the author of The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting. He spends the first part of this conversation offering a thumbnail sketch of the history of extended fasting as a medical treatment. From there, we get into what emerging modern science is showing as to how prolonged fasts lasting days or even weeks can prevent and even cure a variety of diseases, from type 2 diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis. We then talk about fasting's effect on cancer, and how it may address mental health issues by offering a metabolic reset. If you're an intermittent faster, you'll be interested to hear why it is you should ideally schedule your eating window for earlier rather than later in the day. We end our conversation with how to get started with extended fasting.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Article: The Spiritual Disciplines — FastingAoM Article: How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, and Get HealthierAoM Podcast #328: The Pros and Cons of Intermittent FastingAoM Podcast #624: The Crazy, Forgotten Story of America’s First Fitness InfluencerHenry S. TannerMinnesota Starvation Experiment Professor Valter LongoAoM Podcast #852: The Brain Energy Theory of Mental IllnessConnect With Steve HendricksSteve's Website, including his answers to FAQs on fasting
54:37 09/01/2023
7 Journaling Techniques That Can Change Your Life
In my twenties and early thirties, I was a regular journaler. Several years ago, however, I stopped journaling almost entirely because I wasn't getting anything out of it anymore. But my guest has helped me see that my problem wasn't with journaling itself, but that I had gotten into a journaling rut, and he's introduced me to some new ways to journal that have inspired me to get back into the practice. Campbell Walker is an illustrator, animator, podcaster, and YouTuber, as well as the author of Your Head is a Houseboat: A Chaotic Guide to Mental Clarity. Today on the show, Cam shares how journaling transformed his life and what it can do for yours. We discuss why it's helpful to do a journaling brain dump and how to then move beyond that to incorporate different techniques that will help you get greater insight into the problems you're facing and how to solve them. We unpack those techniques, which include how to journal to break mindset, conduct a lifestyle and habits audit, and quell anxiety. We also talk about an experiment Cam did where he only used the social media apps on his phone when he was posting something, and every time he got the itch to check social media for fun, he engaged in something he calls "microjournaling" instead. We end our conversation with how Cam's journaling changed after he became a dad and his tips on making journaling a consistent habit in your life.Resources Related to the EpisodeCampbell's Video: The Journaling Techniques That Changed My LifeCampbell's Video: I Replaced Social Media With Micro-Journaling for 1 YearAoM Article: The Right and Wrong Way to JournalAoM Article: Why I Stopped JournalingAoM Article: 30 Days to a Better Man Day 8 — Start a JournalAoM Article: Jumpstart Your Journaling — A 31-Day ChallengeAoM Article: 31 Journaling Prompts for Building Greater Self-RelianceAoM Article: Quit Catastrophizing AoM Podcast #387: Think Like a Poker Player to Make Better Decisions (With Annie Duke)Connect With Campbell Walker (AKA "Struthless")Cam on YouTubeCam on IGThe Struthless Shop WebsiteThe Struthless Animation Studio Website
50:10 04/01/2023
Get Fit, Not Fried — The Benefits of Zone 2 Cardio
When most people work out, they jump right from a resting state called Zone 1 cardio to Zone 3 cardio. But in skipping over Zone 2 cardio altogether, they miss out on a significant range of benefits to their health, fitness, and overall well-being.Here to unpack why you need to make the relatively easy yet hugely beneficial form of exercise that is Zone 2 cardio a big part of your life is Alex Viada, a hybrid athlete and coach. We spend the first twenty minutes of this conversation discussing the physiological science of what cardio zones are and what happens in the body as you move from one zone to the next. From there, we turn to the more accessible and practical elements of getting into Zone 2 cardio. Alex shares the easiest way to know if you're in Zone 2, and we discuss how it can improve heart health, metabolism, sleep, and weight loss, as well as enhance athletic performance, whether you're into endurance sports or powerlifting. We then get into the amount of Zone 2 cardio you should be getting each week and how to get it, including Alex's take on the ever-controversial elliptical machine.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Article: A Guide to the Biggest Thing Missing From Your Fitness Routine — Zone 2 TrainingAoM Podcast #777: Becoming a Hybrid AthleteAoM Podcast #787: Run Like a Pro (Even If You’re Slow)AoM Article: Conditioning — What It Is and How to Develop ItThe Hybrid Athlete by Alex ViadaConnect With Alex ViadaAlex on IGComplete Human Performance on IG 
72:43 02/01/2023
Why You Don’t Change (But How You Still Can) [ENCORE]
Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight, curb their temper, quit smoking, or alter any other habit in their lives knows that personal change is hard. Really hard.Most self-help books out there treat people like machines, blitzing past this difficulty and offering mechanical 5-step formulas for changing your life.My guest today says such simplified solutions hugely miss the mark. He argues that if you ever want to change, it’s more fruitful to understand why you don’t, than figure why you do, and to understand that, you’ve got to go deeper, existential even.His name is Dr. Ross Ellenhorn, and he’s spent his career facilitating the recovery of individuals diagnosed with psychiatric and substance abuse issues. In his latest book, How We Change (And Ten Reasons Why We Don’t), he’s taken what he’s learned in his work and applied it to anyone trying to change their lives.Ross and I begin our conversation with some of those reasons we don’t change, including the existential pressure of feeling like you’re solely in charge of making change happen, a dizzying amount of freedom and number of options for what to do with your life, and day-to-day factors which influence our level of motivation. From there we turn to the role of hope and faith in psychology, and how these forces can both boost and restrain your ability to change. We discuss the way a fear of hope can constrain your life, why you sometimes need to embrace staying the same in order to ever change, and the difference between good faith and bad faith. We then discuss the idea that you don’t develop hope, but can develop faith, and how you build your faith in yourself through embracing humility and taking small steps. Ross then explains why he doesn’t really give advice on how to change, beyond finding the good in a bad habit, but how patience and your social environment can also help.This show’s got some counterintuitive advice that will help you see your struggles differently.Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in PodcastAoM archives on habitsLimiting Your Choices“We Shall Fight On the Beaches” by Winston ChurchillSelf-Efficacy and the Art of Doing ThingsThe Psychology of HopeHow Exercise Helps Us Find Hope, Connection, and CourageThe Tiny Habits That Change EverythingAoM series on overprotective parentingDance Like Zorba the GreekConnect With RossRoss’s websiteRoss on Twitter
47:26 28/12/2022
How Testosterone Makes Men, Men [Encore]
What creates the differences between the sexes? Many would point to culture, and my guest today would agree that culture certainly shapes us. But she’d also argue that at the core of the divergence of the sexes, and in particular, of how men think and behave, is one powerful hormone: testosterone.Her name is Dr. Carole Hooven, and she’s a Harvard biologist and the author of T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone That Dominates and Divides Us. Today on the show, Carole explains the arguments that are made against testosterone’s influence on shaping men into men, and why she doesn’t think they hold water. She then unpacks the argument for how testosterone does function as the driving force in sex differences, and how it fundamentally shapes the bodies and minds of males. We delve into where T is made, how much of it men have compared to women, and what historical cases of castration tell us about the centrality of testosterone in male development. We then discuss how T shapes males, starting in the womb, and going into puberty and beyond, before turning to its influence in athletic performance. We end our conversation with Carole’s impassioned plea for celebrating what’s great about men.Resources Related to the PodcastAoM Podcast #86: Demonic Males With Richard WranghamAoM series on testosteroneAoM Podcast #336: Master Your TestosteroneAoM series on statusAoM Podcast #756: How the Desire for Status Explains (Pretty Much) EverythingAoM series on the origins and nature of manhoodConnect With Carole HoovenCarole’s WebsiteCarole on Twitter 
64:15 26/12/2022
The Unexpected Origins of Our Christmas Traditions
With Christmas coming up, you're likely in the full holiday swing of things — decorating your tree, eating certain foods, listening to particular music, and buying and wrapping gifts. But did you ever stop to think about why it is you're taking part in this slate of often weird-but-wonderful traditions?Brian Earl has traced the backstories of our Christmas traditions in his podcast and book called ChristmasPast. Today on the show, he shares some of those backstories with us, and explains how many of our seemingly fated and timeless traditions actually came about in fluky and fortuitous ways and are a lot more recent than we think. He first unpacks how Christmas went from being a small religious observance to a huge cultural celebration and how our idea of Santa Claus evolved over time, with our current conception of Old St. Nick being less than a century old. We then discuss how it is we ended up taking evergreen trees inside our houses and decorating them, the origins of the most recorded Christmas song in history, why fruitcake became the butt of jokes, and why hardly anyone roasts chestnuts anymore, on an open fire or otherwise. Brian shares what new Christmas traditions he's seeing emerge and which classic ones are going away, and I offer an important PSA to future parents about Elf on the Shelf. We end our conversation with Brian's tips for getting into the Christmas spirit if you haven't been feeling it.Resources Related to the EpisodeAoM Article and Video: How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open FireAoM Article: Be a Scrooge This Year — Reflections From A Christmas CarolThe evolving image of Santa ClausPew Research study on the changing ways Americans celebrate ChristmasVintage Flintstones Fruity Pebbles Christmas commercialVintage McDonald's Christmas commercialAoM Article: 11 Ways to Get Into the Holiday SpiritConnect With Brian EarlBrian's Website and Podcast
55:05 21/12/2022
The Affectionate, Ambiguous, and Surprisingly Ambivalent Relationship Between Siblings
For most people, their siblings will be the longest-lasting relationships of their lives, potentially enduring all the way from birth until past the death of their parents. Marked by both jealousy and conflict and love and loyalty, siblings are also some of our most complicated relationships. While a little over half of people describe their relationships with their siblings as positive, about one-fifth classify them as negative, and a quarter say their feelings about their siblings are decidedly mixed. Here to take us on a tour of the complex landscape of sibling-dom is Geoffrey Greif, a professor of social work and the co-author of the bookAdult Sibling Relationships. Today on the show, Geoffrey shares how our brothers and sisters shape us and how our relationship with our siblings changes as we move from childhood to old age. We discuss how the perception of parental favoritism affects the closeness of siblings and how a parent's relationship with their own siblings affects the relationship between their children. Geoffrey explains how most sibling relationships are marked by the three A's — affection, ambiguity, and/or ambivalence — and how the relationship can also become very distant or outright severed. We end our conversation with Geoffrey's advice on developing a good relationship between your children and reconnecting with your own siblings.Resources Related to the EpisodeGeoffrey's previous appearance on the AoM podcast: Episode #360 — Understanding Male FriendshipsAoM Article: Forging the Bond Between BrothersStudy: "How Experiences with Siblings Relate to the Parenting of Siblings"Study: "Differential Effects of Perceptions of Mothers' and Fathers' Favoritism on Sibling Tension in Adulthood"Connect With Geoffrey GreifGeoffrey's Faculty Page
51:03 19/12/2022