Nobody is ever truly immune to the biological effects of aging. The shame that human society has created around aging has conditioned people to need to hide the way aging affects their physical bodies through increasingly complicated means, but at the end of the day, there’s just no stopping it. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen have a frank discussion about the various ways through which one’s age manifests in the physical body. By doing so, Jason and Whitney create a space that normalizes – even celebrates – the ways aging works on human beings. Though society has been conditioned to feel a deep shame about aging, perhaps it’s time to change that mentality?
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The Discomfort Of Getting Older
I was thinking about what to talk about with you and one subject that has been uncomfortable for me to not just think about but I haven’t talked about this with anybody. I’ve been circling and coagulating in my mind as aging is getting older. I’ve been observing myself being super self-conscious about it for the first time ever. It’s been an interesting thing to sit with those emotions as they arise in more frequency than they ever have. I remember giving it thought on the big milestone birthdays. I remember my 30th birthday, being out of my twenties and thinking like, “I’m not my twenties anymore.” On the 40th birthday, which you threw me this incredible magical 40th birthday celebration, I remember feeling it too, but also in a different way.
You as in me, Whitney. As we’re learning how to podcast, I’ve noticed that Jason often will say “you,” assuming people know that you’re talking about me, not you the audience.
It may be depending on who’s reading. You may have been at that 40th birthday party. There were a lot of people there. My point is in my early 40s, I’m turning 42. There’s an interesting relationship with aging and for me, it’s what brings it about sitting with the discomfort of aging per se is the physical changes I’m observing. I was looking at my face in the mirror and how much gray hair is in my beard and in my head.
It’s funny because I don’t even notice it. I’ve been thinking a lot about this in terms of people’s appearance. We notice things about ourselves other people probably don’t notice at all. I don’t know if you’d call it insecurity or whatever’s coming up for you. Is it because you’re afraid of what other people are going to think about you, or is it something about you? When we have these uncomfortable feelings about our appearance, are they because we’re afraid of what other people will think about how we look? Why would it matter to you what you look like? If you could try for a moment thinking about how you feel about the way you look and then try to remove anybody else’s opinion of it. Would you have a negative or positive feeling about what you look like if it didn’t matter at all what other people think?
I want to clarify this.
Can you answer that question? When you look in the mirror and you see your gray hair for instance, are you feeling whatever you’re feeling because of your perception of it? How do you even know that?
I’ve thought about a lot of in the sense of the feeling that it engenders in me or the feeling that I notice that I’m aware of arising in myself is honestly at the core of its mortality. It’s the physical signs of aging. It’s like, “You’re not in your twenties anymore. You’re not in your 30s anymore. You’re in your 40s.” I’m going to go on a mini-rant because you asked a good question. I want to make sure because as you’re asking it, it’s such a good question. I’m sorting out the feelings inside of myself around it. One part of it is mortality. This thing of you’re firmly in your 40s and you see gray hairs. When I work out, my body doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. I can’t necessarily work out with the same reckless abandon I used to. It’s almost mentally. The signs of aging are like, “You’re closer to death.” That’s one side of the mortality.
Do you still hope and plan to live to 100 all things considered?
That’s the aim.
You’re not even halfway there. This gets me worked up because that’s why I think society has a bigger role in this than it’d be in about ourselves. If you feel confident that you’re going to live to 100 at the least, which is incredibly possible. It was at Wellspring Conference when Dave Asprey spoke and talked about how old he wanted to live. He was planning. How old did you say he was planning on?
It’s from 115 to 120.
I’m not a scientist, a researcher or a subject expert on longevity, but it seems to me that living to 100 is possible. What Dave Asprey says is some crazy number. I might have to look it up but he’s convinced. For those who are unfamiliar with who Dave Asprey is, he’s well-known for his brand, Bulletproof. He has a podcast, a product line and he’s doing all of these things and he’s passionate about longevity and high performance. Even though he is not a big supporter of veganism, I believe in much of what he says. I’m drawn to his work. He’s about optimizing. You are too as my point, Jason. You are constantly doing things. A great example of this is when we were talking about that man who went viral for his dance video with the beard.
Was it Post Malone?
I don’t remember what his name is.You notice things about yourself that other people probably don't even notice at all. Click To Tweet
He was on The Ellen Show.
He was a viral sensation because Jay Shetty helped promoted initially. Jay Shetty might have been one of the original people to share that post. The image of it was something about how you can make your dreams come true at any age. They show this guy, but what was interesting is that it was shown without context. A lot of people assume that he was in his 60s and we found out that he’s 43, which is a year older than you. People are surprised and they have the opposite reaction to you, Jason. People think that you’re a lot younger. Appearance is nothing because we have this cultural idea of what it looks like to be 42 or whatever. If somebody has a lot of gray hair, then we think that they’re a lot older. We look at people’s weights, we look at their skin, we look at their hair color, we look at all these things to assess how old they are.
As a society, we’re obsessed with age. I get worked up about this and I’ll share more. I want to let you finish your rant, but to interject, I’m shocked that you are having these feelings about mortality. We’ve talked about in other episodes, we have no idea how long we’re going to live. We’re not guaranteed any age in our lives. Children pass away and babies don’t even make it. We can die at any age in our lives. It’s important to remember that because we get obsessed with this idea of mortality. Also, Jason, I’m expressing a little bit of a surprise that you would feel a sense of mortality when you’re technically not even halfway through this life that you plan on living if you control it, which you don’t.
For the most part, our whole brand, Wellevatr, is about helping people optimize their health and longevity is a big role in this. We believe that if you take certain steps with your nutrition, your sleep, your exercise, your mentality, you go through your life and do your best to take care of yourself. That’s what wellness is, this holistic view, then you are increasing your chances of living longer. We still have the environment, we need to take good care of the environment too because of air pollution, water pollution, and the soil is an issue. All of those other things that we might not have as much control of, but we can contribute to improving. There are many factors. There are wars, terrorism, car accidents and all these other issues. We do not understand how something could happen to us. In terms of our health specifically, which statistically off the top of my head, isn’t poor health the main reason that people die? It’s not car accidents.
We can call it lifestyle-related choices. There’s nutrition, diet, exercising or not exercising. Everything that you said.
All that lifestyle is the greater percentage. In other words, fewer people die from freak accidents, terrorism, climate disasters, all those things. Granted, we didn’t look up the statistics, but you did a lot of research for your book.
Back then doing this megalithic mountain of research if we look at the leading causes of death, and I don’t have the statistics exactly worldwide. If we’re talking about the United States, we’re talking about heart disease, cancer, things that there have been many peer reviews, double-blind studies and research about lifestyle choices do contribute but to what degree, we don’t know. I’m a big fan of research and epigenetics, which is the idea that you can have an existing predisposition to something. In the school of epigenetics and the research therein, the whole idea is that your genetics load the gun, your lifestyle choices pull the trigger or not pull the trigger. We don’t know exactly how long we’re going to live.
I’ve had people do the devil’s advocate thing during the years. We’ve been doing this for many years. This idea like, “I’m going to live my life and have fun.” My whole thing is yes, if I know that I can stack the deck for myself. If I can stack the deck in the sense of I’m making choices where my body feels good, my mind feels good. I’m in good shape, I have endurance, I have strength, I’m feeling vital in life, then I’m likely stacking the deck to live a long, conscious, joyful, and vital life. There’s no guarantee. It’s not like, “You’re vegan and you work out, you meditate, and you eat organic, you have healthy relationships.” It doesn’t guarantee I’m going to live to 100 and beyond, but I’m stacking the deck hard in my favor with no guarantee. The devil’s advocate is like, “There’s no guarantee you do all the stuff. You can do all this tofu and drop dead.” That’s true. I could, but I’m hedging my bets as an investor would say, “If I make these choices and I invest in myself this way, I’m confident I’m going to live a long, healthy, vital life.” It’s like investing.
You are confident that you’re going to live a long life. Why is it that when you look in the mirror, you have feelings of mortality at 40-something years old? Do you think that’s culture integrating your brain and scaring you? It’s wonderful that we started talking about your perspective on this first. You started this off as a man. We didn’t even plan that necessarily. We were strategic about who’s going to talk about their appearance and aging first. We are used to hearing women talking about these things because when we look at media in general, there’s much advertising that goes into helping women look young. I’m incredibly fascinated by this the older that I get because I have a few gray hairs. I’ve been plucking them out. I enjoy taking them out. There’s this myth if you pluck one out, two will grow back in its place. I don’t know if that’s true. It could be true but I haven’t noticed it. I got my first gray hair several years ago and years that went by and then a couple more started to come out. In the past year, they’ve been a little bit more frequent, but I’ve been blessed. Some women get them young. Gray hair does not necessarily relate to a specific age.
Gray hair can come about at any age. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. I don’t know if teenagers get gray hairs, maybe they do. There may be some nutritional deficiencies. My point being is that a lot of us associate gray hair with older people. Not necessarily the case that you’re going to be 40 or 50 or whatever and you’re going, “Gray hair, mortality.” You can also dye your hair. I’ve been thinking about that too like, “What’s going to happen? What decision will I make when I start getting more gray hairs? Am I going to want to dye it?” I started thinking about, “Why are we ashamed of gray hair that we feel like we have to hide it?” If it’s a natural thing that everybody that lives in their 30s and 40s, everybody has at some point. Why do we have much shame that we need to dye our hair?
I struggle with that a lot. I think there’s a lot of pressure on women. From my perspective, as a woman, it seems like men become the silver fox. There’s something sexy, but that’s all cultural messaging and conditioning. Most of us grow up with that messaging so we fear it and we have shame. Jason, I wonder if what you’re experiencing is a shame more than anything else. Are you feeling ashamed that you have gray hair? You also expressed to me that you feel self-conscious about the wrinkles on your forehead. I remember feeling surprised like, “What is he talking about?” I don’t even see wrinkles when I look at you. There was a specific photo I took of Jason that I thought was fantastic and he says, “I don’t want to share this on social media because of the wrinkles in my forehead.” Even in a photo where it’s still and right there in front you, I hadn’t even noticed them.
It’s fascinating how we have these toxic thoughts that have been living with us most of our lives because of society, culture, media and advertising. It’s like a disease in our brain. Don’t you think it’s got something to do with shame? What else would it be? Most of our body issues have something to do with shame. We’re ashamed to look older. We’re ashamed to be older. We’re ashamed to look a certain weight, too thin or too overweight. Muffin tops, not having a flat stomach, having cellulite, wrinkles and all of these things. What if all of that was designed to keep us small, keep us insecure and market products to us? Do you think all of that is there because that’s messed up?
I’m going to make a big declaration, but I believe this. I think that if we were able to snap our fingers a la “Infinity Gauntlet” and completely have people accept and love themselves exactly as they are, pretty much near the entire beauty and cosmetic industry would instantly collapse. We have billions of dollars in the cosmetic surgery, diet, wellness, health, exercise, the whole thing, which is predicated on this idea that you don’t accept yourself the way you are because of some societally predicated notion of at this age or this gender you ought to look a certain way. As a result, take this pill, get this surgery, buy this magazine, do this workout. With all due respect to Sara Blakely, I’ve never met her. I’ve met her husband, Jesse Itzler. I’m not calling out Sara Blakely. She’s an incredible businesswoman and a billionaire. I’m saying as an example, you have a product much like a corset. It’s no different than that. This isn’t a new idea. There’s an aesthetic preference you’re trying to go for, but the question is why do you have that aesthetic preference to your point, Whitney?
It’s the same thing with high heels and many things for women. I started reading a few books related to this because I’ve been working on a book about body image. We heard a thing in the Russell Brand podcast about how lipstick is meant to accentuate.
It is a subtle physical sexual cue that reminds the person on the other end, observing a vagina. It’s a vaginal suggestion of the lips on your face when they’re red, puckered and plump are supposed to send this subconscious message to your potential suitor of like, “I have a vagina and I’m going to wear it on my face.”
Do you think that the person that started was marketing lipstick or creative lipstick consciously had that exact idea in mind? Is it that people realized it over time? Was it a conscious effort? The same thing with high heels. High heels are supposed to not only elongate the legs, your butt looks different. It’s also about vulnerability or looking like you’re ready for sex.
You can be swept off your feet literally.
It is making you more vulnerable because it’s hard to walk in heels.
Meaning you can’t run away easily.
Do you think that when somebody created high heels, they were thinking about that? Maybe if we put a little lift on the back of this. I want to go and research the history of lipstick and high heels and try to find the answer to this. My point being is that we have been manipulated in these ways with our appearance, but we’re at this point where it’s tough. I wonder if you feel this too, Jason. As a woman with social media, for me, being somebody that posts on social media and has a brand based around social media, every time I post, if I don’t have a filter on, I want to make sure I have makeup on.
I’m not wearing any makeup and I haven’t done my hair. I feel vulnerable presenting myself with a clean face and all of that. There’s this feeling of, “Who cares? I’m going to be who I am.” I go through those phases, but then I still have insecurity around it. It’s uncomfortable because it’s this fear of being seen and putting my flaws on display. I’m still in a place in my life where I don’t feel comfortable posting something unless my hair and my makeup are done. If I’m not doing hair and makeup, then I’m probably going to put on some filter or use some editing program so that I can make myself look a little less flawed.
I also have shame and the fact that I do that because it’s embarrassing that I am not fully secure with myself. There are times where we do videos and I think, “I’m going to hope that nobody cares about what I look like on screen.” There are times where I feel strong and comfortable with that. It’s interesting how it takes up a lot of energy, emotions and thought. The amount of time that we spend doing all of these things, it’s sad in a way because time is precious. The amount of time that women spend trying to look away from that they think is pleasing to others and then you step back and wonder why does it even matter? Is there a make or break scenario in which you wear makeup and that changes your life? Is not wearing makeup going to change your life that significantly? I sit and I’ll start to think about, “What am I hoping to achieve by looking a certain way?”
What response do you want to elicit? If others are observing you, then what response in those other people are you attempting to elicit by looking that way? You’re not living in a vacuum.
Ultimately for me I’m thinking, “What am I hoping to get out of this?”
Is that a conscious thought or a subconscious thought? When you get done up, a nice dress, heels, makeup, do the hair.
Every day, anytime I’m alone, I’m thinking about this. Anytime I’m in front of the camera, whether it’s an Instagram story or an Instagram picture or it’s a YouTube video. Anytime I’m going to interact with anyone. If I’m going to the grocery store, every single time I am in the presence of other people virtually or physically, I’m thinking about this to one extent or another. How about you?
When I’m going out to the grocery store or running errands or whatever, I often will wear my most comfortable pair of shorts and a tank top.
Are you thinking to yourself, “I know I’m going to be around people, but I’m going to wear this?” Maybe it would be good after this conversation to observe yourself. Are you taking into consideration how other people will perceive you? Even if you say, “I don’t care what people think of me,” that’s still a version of care. I don’t think not caring what people think of you is not caring. I think you still care. You’re saying, “If they don’t like me, then I’m not going to let that bother me,” but that’s still caring in a way.Most body issues have something to do with shame. Click To Tweet
I’m examining my thought process around it, where it depends on the context a lot. This is a contextual thing because if I’m running downtown to grab a package of tempeh and broccoli from Whole Foods, I go to the back of my door in my bedroom and grab the tank top, grab a hoodie, throw shorts on and go. However, if it is a thing like a public event, going on a date or something, there’s a different consideration depending on the context of it.
I understand that but I’m asking both scenarios, you’re still thinking about what other people are going to think of you. There’s less investment or there’s less concern with it. It’s not that you are not thinking about what people are thinking of you.
There’s less of an investment and there’s less of meticulous preparation and manicuring my appearance to try and fit in or impress or have an impact on others. When I’m going to Whole Foods to pick broccoli, I’m not thinking about, “Is someone going to comment on my favorite hoodie? I love this hoodie and it’s beautiful.” I grabbed the hoodie because it’s comfortable. If I’m going on a date, I’m going to an awards show, I’m doing a YouTube video, auditioning, speaking on stage, whatever it is. If I’m speaking to a crowd like the Longevity Conference with 1,000 to 1,500 people, I’m going up there in my best suit and looking razor-sharp because I want to elicit a certain response or perception that people have of me like, “This person is put together. He’s manicured, his hair is done. He’s in this expensive suit. He’s a great speaker. He’s on his game.”
When I go to Whole Foods, I’m not concerned with all of that. To your point though, it’s a consideration because we are tribal animals. To whatever degree we want to admit this, we are still in this cerebral response to tribalism. If the tribe approves and accepts of me, I will be safe and taken care of. If I do something that is against the code of the tribe i.e. society, I could get cast out. I could be shunned. I could be shamed. If I’m in not in good standing with the tribe and I’m cast out, that feels like death. It’s not actual death anymore. Generations ago, it was.
I mentioned this in a previous episode of this tribal mentality that keeps us stuck in modern society. Maybe we have a desire to let go of society standards. Maybe we have a desire to live a more authentic radically-individualized life or pursue that. Shed the layers as we always talk about. The fear that holds us back is what if people don’t understand? What if they don’t accept me? What if they don’t embrace me? What if they don’t love me? I’m proverbially out in the forest wandering alone with no human contact and no one to love, understand and accept me. That is terrifying.
That ties back into aging too. Biologically aging, there are things that we are less capable of doing or in some cases, physically incapable of doing. Fertility is the biggest one. We are creatures that were designed to procreate. Procreation rules us as a society. Sex is a big driver in our interactions and in the way that we want to appear. Women are dressing up to attract the right mate or whatever. How interesting it is that a lot of times when people get married, they seem to care less about their appearance because they’ve already achieved that thing that’s attached to procreation. When you become a mom or a dad, there’s this cultural joke about a mom bod and a dad bod because they’re doing less to attract, which is also fascinating because there’s suddenly all this shame around whatever it is.
Usually, it’s associated with gaining weight or the way that you dress. You don’t dress as provocatively when you’re married with kids or you may be gained more weight around your midsection, which is also by our cultural standards considered to be less attractive. Perhaps you don’t care as much about being attractive because you’ve achieved that big thing in our society, which is getting married and having kids. Once we achieve these things, a lot of people let go, but some people don’t. Some people are attached to their appearance. They want to stay in great shape, maybe because they see the health benefits or they want to stay in great shape because they want validation and approval from other people. It’s not about procreating. They see it because sex sells.
Maybe they don’t need to have actual sex with somebody, but they know if they look sexy, then they’ll be able to sell whatever they’re selling. If you start to break down all of these things, it is primal. Most of our decisions about how we look is about do we look away that’s going to attract a mate or attract a partner? Is this something that we can do that’s age-appropriate or whatever that means? A lot of the shame around aging, you can’t procreate anymore, so you’re not as useful. You’re getting old, so you’re a burden to society. Although a lot of the reading I’ve been doing shows that depending on the culture, older people tend to be valuable because of their wisdom.
That’s what’s also interesting too is it becomes less about your appearance, but more about your wisdom. I think that Jason and I are both passionate about that. A lot of the times when I feel like I don’t care while doing episodes for example, part of me is like, “I’m not here to sell sex. I’m here to share wisdom.” I don’t want people to be concerned about how I look. I want them to be concerned with what I’m saying. The older I get, the more important that is. However, because I don’t have children yet, I’m still in that primal part of my life of I need to be sexy as well as wise. Do you think that ties into how you feel too, Jason? I know wisdom is a huge part of your life because you want substance and depth.
We’re both in a time of our lives where you’ve said it many times you want to get married and you might want to have children. You’re still in a place where technically you need to present yourself. We have chosen career paths that are much about selling ourselves. Our appearances are important because sex is one of the best ways to sell. Do we want to be culturally perceived as sexy? Maybe coming back to your original point, do you feel getting the gray hair and the wrinkles make you less attractive? Age in general in our culture is seen as less sexy. Is that why you feel like you’re getting triggered by it?
I think that’s part of it. The bigger part of it is this.
You said it was mortality, so I’m jumping in. Is it mortality? Is it the sex factor or is it both somehow?
It is, but what supersedes both of those things is this bug in my brain that I’m doing better at eradicating, but it’s still there. It still rears itself. This illusionary notion that by a certain age, you ought to have done X, Y and Z. The toxic messages we get for men and women are different in this culture as we age and in general.
It’s like the Venn Diagram because there’s some overlap, but there are also some completely separate messages.
To generalize, I’ll say masculine and feminine energies because there are same-sex couples, but in all the same-sex couples I know, there’s generally someone who occupies more of prototypically masculine energy and someone who occupies more of a prototypically feminine. When I say man, woman, I’m talking about masculine, feminine energies as we understand them and there is overlap. My point is this, as someone who identifies as a man who defaults primarily to masculine energy, who has also cultivated a lot of sensitivity in prototypically feminine energy, I feel a lot of pressure. I know it’s crap, I know it’s society and I know it’s an illusion, but it’s still there. I’m still decoding it and trying to shed it. It’s this idea that as a man in my 40s, I ought to have a certain amount of wealth. I ought to have a certain amount of retirement savings.
I ought to already own a house. I ought to be able to provide on a certain level. I ought to be more successful in my business. Prototypically, the masculine is about the material and providing. If men are not generating income or generating material subsistence, it’s this old school thing of men are the provider. Men are providing material. We go out and hunt and we drag the meal back to the tribe and feed the village. I still think there’s this primal almost ancestral reptilian thing of, “Go out, conquer, hunt and win.” This thing that’s still there in me that I wonder, is that ancestral and genetic or am I defaulting to society’s standards of, “If you’re a man in your 40s, you ought to do things?” It messes me up mentally sometimes to sit in that.
Why does it mess you up? I get why, but if we look at it from a consciousness standpoint, all of those things you listed have little to do with other people. The amount of wealth that you accumulate, if you’re concerned with what other people think about you, it’s a matter of you getting validation from other people. If somebody is judging you based on how much money you’ve accumulated or how much money you’re making, that’s just an emotional judgment. Are you judging yourself because of these societal standards? Why are you allowing yourself to judge yourself like that? How does that help you at all? You could say it’s motivation, but motivation and self-judgment are canceling each other out.
The anxiety, sadness that you might feel for not having those things is detrimental to your success in a way it holds you back because that energy is draining. It makes you feel less than. Sometimes you don’t even want to get out of bed when you’re feeling those things. If it’s motivating you, it’s canceling itself out. To my point being, I’m curious why that matters much. If wealth is at a primal desire, if that’s about security, you are the only one that security matters unless you have children or someone ended up a dependent. As long as you’re providing for yourself and any dependents, why does it matter how much money you make? You’re tying back into the cultural perception of it.
In the grand scheme of things, if you can make it to 100 or plus, if that’s one of your big goals in life is to live to those ages, other people’s perceptions of us don’t matter, even your success doesn’t even matter. If you’re going to get hired for a job, will the employer or somebody that you’re working with, a collaborator say, “Jason, we’re not going to hire you for this because you haven’t made enough money?” No, they’re not going to say that. Why does it even matter? It’s me asking you why it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying it’s easy to snap your fingers and be like, “It doesn’t matter. My whole life has changed in this instance.” I’m not implying that it’s an easy shift to make. I’m bringing it up more of a rhetorical question because it’s another example of how society is controlling us and how deep all of these insecurities about our appearance are.
In this conversation, it’s about what’s my net income each year and using that as a way to keep score, define ourselves, validate ourselves or feel enough and it’s all comparison. If I remember back to how much pressure there was to get a certain grade, a certain GPA, a certain SAT score, a certain ACT score and score a certain number of points in the basketball game. From childhood, we are put into a context of a finite game that is all about, “If you want to be a winner, you want to be successful, you want to get into the right college and then you need to get the right GPA at the college so you can get hired.” Especially when I was doing office jobs in the advertising business, no one ever asked me what my GPA was. All this pressure to get this number on a piece of paper or a computer screen. In my professional career, all the things I’ve done for work, no one’s ever asked what my GPA was.
How successful were you at playing basketball?
It’s like, “What was your score and average?”
“How many trophies did you get?”
Our version as adults is we’re not concerned about SAT. We’re not concerned about GPA. We’re concerned about our waist size, our bust size, our age, the numbers in our bank account, our retirement savings. We’re in this finite game of numbers in a system we made up and we’re creating a container of a game.
Even when it comes to time, if you think about it, it’s all made up. Literal numbers in time are made up by us.
We’re using arbitrary measures in a finite game that we created and we continue to perpetuate because we keep agreeing its real to define people’s self-worth or lack thereof. Who do we celebrate in our culture? Generally, who we celebrate are the Jeff Bezos, the Bill Gates and the Elon Musks. We put this person up to a level of a deity because he’s worth $150 billion.
We look at social media like, “That person has millions of followers on this platform.”
We use that as a reflection of the value as a being. To me, that’s the thing I am aware of and trying to break within myself. I do mean break it because this association of the numbers on the page or the screen has anything to do with my intrinsic worth as a being. That means I’m doing my best to unravel it, understand it and then eradicate it because it’s toxic.Biologically aging, there are things that humans are less capable - or in some cases, physically incapable - of doing. Click To Tweet
It’s the root of a lot of suffering that people feel. Everything that you’re bringing up here is that as human beings, we are looking for meaning in life. We’re looking to feel like we matter. That is at the root and a huge explanation for social media. All these numbers that we have, when people get addicted to their followers and how many likes they have and all that is because they feel like they matter because of those numbers. As people feel like they matter when they drive a nice car because the car is showing that they have a lot of money to afford that car or to get the house. All of these different things, it’s like, “We matter, we’re important. You can see us, we feel validated.”
At the core, as we’ve talked about in many episodes, there’s something and much more that we want because you can get all of those things. You can get the followers, you can get the money, you can get the car, you can have the awards, all of these things. You’ll get them and still feel empty inside. One of the bigger messages that have been a thread through with our episodes is that Jason and I are both passionate about finding a way to work through all those desires that have been embedded in us through our culture because we want sustainable happiness. We want true happiness. Why does it matter? How is your happiness to hide into whether or not you have gray hairs or wrinkles? If it was truly about mortality as you started this episode off with, that could make some sense.
Even so, since we don’t have any control of how long you live, your hair is not an indication of how long you’re going to live, Jason, nor your wrinkles. If we can start to let go of this addiction to validation and approval from the tribe, which is challenging because it is a primal thing. There is a reason that we want those things. Ultimately, everything we’ve been saying in this episode is getting away from the more superficial manipulations that have been happening. Biologically speaking, as a species, we have an ultimate desire to survive. That’s what we’re wired for. Mating with somebody else is tied to survival. Procreating and having children is tied to survival.
That’s why those two things are such big things in our culture. Having money is tied into survival so that you can provide for that family, that mate that you have or be provided for. If we look at some of the roots of these things that are important to us, those are also tied into happiness because a part of our happiness are some of the reasons we feel joy like an orgasm, for example. It keeps us wanting to continue to have sex because we know that there’s pleasure in having sex. Biologically we have to be wired. There has to be a reason for us to want to have sex beyond having children, especially how we’ve evolved as human beings. We’re at a point where we make the decision, whether or not to have children.
We’re not doing it as animals do. Animals are wired a little bit differently or maybe it’s a mental thing where it’s something that they do. I don’t know if it’s out of boredom or they’re wired to procreate constantly. As human beings, we’ve evolved mentally so we can make that decision. Do I want to have children or not? There’s still that draw to pleasure, which is tied into joy and happiness. We’re living these lives that are driven by happiness and also simultaneously we have all of these primal instincts. Because we’re such intelligent creatures, we have people who have learned how to manipulate all of those primal instincts and give us ways to feel happy. Where we’re at as a society is that we are confused. It’s breaking my heart saying those words. When you tap into the confusion and the amount of discomfort, the despair that we feel because we don’t even know what we want anymore because of all these different messaging. It’s like we’re in this time of massive overwhelm because everything is at our fingertips. Anything we want to eat, we can go to the grocery store, go through the drive-through.
We can get it delivered. Not even that, you don’t even have to leave the house anymore.
If you want to have sex, if you wanted to, you could instantly find somebody to have sex with at any moment’s notice. You can pay for somebody. That’s been going on for a long time. Was prostitution illegal?
In the State of California, it is.
It depends on where you live.
It’s the world’s oldest profession.
We have apps that make it easier, so we don’t have to hire somebody. We find somebody saying yes to us, that’s giving their permission. We go on an app, “Are you interested in having sex with me?” We can joke about it. We don’t even have to leave our homes for any of these things we want. If we want to watch a movie, we watch it on our computer or our phones. If we want to order food, we can order it on our phones. If we want to have sex, we can set that up on our phones. We literally could stay in our homes and have everything, including sex, come to us at an instant moment.
What we’re discovering is these things don’t make us happy because we’re always going to be wanting more. We’re in this place where we’re addicted to getting pleasure. At the root of suffering, we have everything we could possibly want, and that’s not making us happy. Maybe there’s no point in staying alive anymore or maybe I’m miserable and I don’t know my way out of it. Maybe I feel alone. We’re connected to each other more than ever, but we’re also feeling loneliness more than ever. It’s mind-boggling when you start to break all of these things down. We’re living in a crazy time. It’s simultaneously magical and terrifying.
I’m going to use Steven Pressfield’s quote and subvert it because I don’t remember exactly what it was. It seems that culturally we are in a river that is a mile wide and an inch deep. The soulfulness and the depth and getting to the heart of what it means to be human truly. Truly thrive and be content and fulfilled has given way to our most basal level wiring in our brain, which is to get the highest yield for the least amount of effort. As Doug Lisle talked about wonderfully in The Pleasure Trap book. This idea that billion and trillion-dollar industries are created on the basic understanding of this knowledge biologically that people want what they want, they want it now.
As our pleasure centers in our brain light up and we expend the least amount of caloric energy to get those things, we are wired to do that for survival. On a survival level, if I can “stay in my cave” and not expend all this caloric energy hunting and finding, do you mean dinner is going to get brought to me and sex is going to get brought to me? I can order a car online and never have to go to a dealership. They’ll bring the car to me and I never have to leave the house, that is speaking to our most basic neurological, primal wiring. I’m not destroying capitalism here. That’s not the point here, but unchecked it is generating it because people are not aware that the advertisers and the corporations are preying on our most basic instinct and our most basic wiring.
You can even make money from your house. You don’t even have to leave your house to make money anymore. We’re getting closer and closer to this time where we are isolated, which is also incredibly confusing because as human beings, we’re wired to have community. I think part of this, to go back to the appearance. We have this desire to feel attractive to get our basic needs met. Even when we’re staying at home, because I want to look attractive on camera. I want to look attractive in my videos and in my photos. It doesn’t matter if I’m going out to interact with anybody in person. I still want to look attractive to anybody that’s interacting with me online. That’s the other thing too. We have brought the community into our homes through social media.
We are literally at the point where everything can be experienced in our homes without us having to leave and eventually even sex could be virtual. Everything could be virtual where we may not leave at all. Maybe we feel on some level we’re getting our needs met, but we are getting far away from more of the primal experiences. I don’t know if that is a bad thing necessarily because maybe we’re in such a big transition period. Maybe that’s why it feels so uncomfortable because if we look at where we’re at, that’s been such a short amount of time that we’ve accessed all of those things. All of those things that we listed, most of them I should say are within the past 5 to 10 years that we’ve had access to those.
We look at Postmates, Uber and Tinder and all these apps that have come up. Amazon, we look at the speed in which they can deliver things to you. We’re getting closer and closer to this time where everything can be ordered. It is exciting and I love technology. It’s brilliant. I had something delivered on Amazon. It took eleven hours for it to get to me without having a Prime membership. We’re at this point where it’s exciting, but it also is scary because of the transition that we’re in and how the rest of humanity for all before these past years, we didn’t have those things. We’re in this radically-changing time. That’s why it does feel confusing.
I don’t know what it means for humanity. Are we necessarily going to end humanity through all this stuff? We’re listening to the Joe Rogan and Russell Brand podcast and they were talking about machines, robots and how we’re getting closer and closer to this robotic time. Do we know if that’s going to end humanity? We have no idea what’s going to happen. My point is we’re in transition and that’s part of the fear, the despair, the suffering is coming from this place of this doesn’t feel natural to us because it’s new. Do we need it to be natural? I don’t know. Environmentally, I’m not sure how good any of this stuff is for the planet. Maybe we’re feeling suffering because the planet is dying. We only have several years to figure this out. That’s frightening. These are some big topics. It’s amazing what can come up after Jason talking about gray hair.
I suddenly don’t feel bad about my gray hair anymore. Isn’t that the thing though? I wanted to talk about solutions. When I say solutions when we start to feel not-enoughness. When we find ourselves drowning in comparison. When we find ourselves nitpicking things like gray hair while the world is changing or evolving. First of all, zooming out and seeing the big picture that there are other things I want to be putting my energy, love and focus on other than the number of colored hairs on my chin. Also, the thing I’ve realized that when I’m in appreciation and when I am in awareness of what I am, who I am and what’s already present in my life, I don’t ever feel a lack in those states. As an example of this. If I’m appreciating who I am and feeling love for myself, I’m not looking in the mirror thinking about my wrinkles or my gray hair. If I’m in the driveway washing my seven-year-old car and standing back and looking at it going like, “I love this little car.” At that moment I’m not like, “You need a Lambo. You need a Tesla.”
At that moment, I’m in appreciation of it. If I’m seeing my partner for who she is in her glory, her beauty, why I fell in love with her in the first place, I’m not thinking, “It might be better with someone else.” Appreciation and presence are an antidote to not-enoughness or an antidote to these moments when we’re, “Maybe the grass is greener over there. Maybe life would be better over there. If I get this thing, then I’ll feel a sense of enoughness and completion.” Appreciation, presence and gratitude for me are states of being that when I plugin and can sustain them, I’m not thinking about lack. It’s not even a consideration. For me, I’m trying my best to be present to the goodness that’s already in my life and deeply appreciate it. That’s my antidote. That’s how I can overcome these illusionary feelings of, “Get that thing over there.” Maybe your life would be different if you had her, had that, drove that or had different numbers in your bank account. Appreciation for me is the antidote. 100%.
Being more conscious about what the route is and understanding who we are as human beings. That’s part of the reason I love psychology. I want to know why I’m thinking this, why I’m doing this, why I’m acting that way and why other people are acting that way. Because other people are doing something doesn’t mean that if you don’t do it, that you’re worse than them or even better than them. It’s tough because social media has made it challenging as much as it connects us and gives us access to all sorts of information and perspectives, which is beautiful. We also can fall into these comparison traps so much and look at someone and think, “Maybe they’re more successful because they look different than me. Maybe if I looked like them, then I would be successful like that.”
We make all these judgments and assumptions about other people. Maybe that’s what is at the root too. Thinking because we’ve been conditioned to think that our appearance is important, that if we can change our appearance and that would change what our lives would be like, and maybe we would feel we have everything we want. We would be happier. Maybe that’s what the root is. If I look a certain way, if I look the way I think I’m supposed to look, then I will feel happier because I’ll get this. If I look this way, then I will get that and that will make me happy. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.
If we can step back and say, “That’s not necessarily true.” There have been many times where I’ve dressed up. I’ve invested an hour or two into getting ready, which feels like a lot for me. If I don’t get ready, I spend no time. Maybe a few seconds brushing my hair or putting an elastic band in my hair and putting my clothes on a couple of minutes a day. When I get ready to go out, at the bare minimum, I’m going to spend 20 to 30 minutes. That’s quick. At the maximum maybe I’m going to spend an hour or two getting ready. In ultra-maximum, maybe I’ll go and get my nails done, my haircut and all these things.
I’ll spend half of a day getting ready for something if it’s important enough. There have been many times where I’ve invested in that hour or two to looking nice and nothing came out of it. I didn’t meet anybody new. I didn’t make any more money. I didn’t have an experience that I couldn’t have had without looking that way. Those are the times where I can stand back and say, “Why did I spend all this time trying to make myself look this way if I didn’t get any results from it?” The thing too is we have to step back and unless there is actual joy in getting ready, which there can sometimes be. I feel more confident and that feels good, but am I only feeling more confident because I’ve been conditioned to feel confident when I look a certain way?
How do I feel or in what context or in what dress do I feel most like myself? I would know for me, if I were to have a closet full a la Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs had his jeans and his turtlenecks and Mark Zuckerberg has got his gray t-shirt and his jeans. They don’t want to think about it. For me, there’s a certain thing that I put on and I feel most myself. That is a jet-black t-shirt or white t-shirt, an old pair of jeans and sneakers.
It is funny because you’re not wearing any of that. Do you not feel like yourself?
I do, but there’s this thing of like, “This is what I like to wear.” I want to pull a Jobs or a Zuckerberg maybe and go out and buy a bunch of black t-shirts and jeans and call it a day. That’s a whole other conversation about decision fatigue and overcoming that. The heart of this in this exploration is, how do we get to the core of who we truly are independent of society’s expectations, independent of society’s conditioning? How do we break that down and understand what’s motivating us? What’s driving our desires and decisions? I trip on this question a lot. Are we ever making a decision that is completely autonomous and is completely sovereign? Are any of our decisions completely sovereign? Is the conditioning, the programming so deep that we like to believe we have free will but is there such a thing as a fully sovereign decision?
I’m not sure that there is. There’s a drive for both me and Jason to learn more about ourselves and all of that because it comes down to control. For me, I feel comfortable knowing the answers to things. I feel more at ease when I can understand something. It might’ve been in that book, Selfie, that I’ve talked about in some of the other episodes because that ties a lot into what we’ve been talking about here. There might not be much free will. What can we even do about it? Especially by the time we get to our 20s, 30s or 40s when we’re thinking about this stuff, we are developed and set in ourselves.
I believe that people can change to an extent, but the big change is hard to make. It’s gradual. Maybe there are certain things that we can’t change because mentally, our brains are getting set in a mold. Once you said it, you’d have to melt it down again to start over completely. We can’t do that as human beings. I don’t even know if it matters. Some people get a little afraid when they think, “I don’t have control over myself. I can’t change myself.” What do you mean? There’s something that sounds scary about that? If it’s how we are, it’s the way that we are. It’s fun to explore it and all that. I like to try to change. I like to evolve. I like to feel like I’m making a difference and improving. That feels good to me, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s almost relaxing to realize, “I don’t have as much control as I think I do.” As we’ve talked about in other episodes, maybe all of this stuff doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. That to me is a good note to end on. When you find yourself obsessing over your appearance, maybe you can start to think, “This doesn’t matter that much.”
If someone’s going to judge you because of your gray hair, your wrinkles or whatever, is that the type of person that you want in your life? I think about that too. Sometimes when I feel insecure about not wearing makeup, I’m thinking, “Do I want to be around people that only approve of me when I’m wearing makeup?” I don’t want to wear makeup every day of my life and I don’t wear makeup every day of my life. To have somebody in my life where I feel like I can only be around them or get their approval when I’m wearing makeup. Talk about not being me. There are some women who maybe enjoy putting on makeup every day but then again, do they enjoy it or have they been programmed to enjoy it or have they conditioned themselves to enjoy it because they feel like that’s the mask that they need to be behind? It’s a complicated thing.
I find that questions lead to more questions. For us, asking these questions can be extremely uncomfortable, especially when we don’t have the answers. The question leads to more questions. To me, the willingness to ask these questions is the aspect of an examined life and a mindful life. Hopefully, we can have a deeper understanding of who we are at the core, what’s motivating us. Is there anything as a sovereign desire or a sovereign action? These are deep human questions. At the core of it, once you start going down the rabbit hole, there’s no end to it. Hence why we started this podcast. This is us climbing into a rabbit hole and saying, “You want to come with us? We don’t know where it’s leading, but it’s a dope rabbit hole. We have no idea where it’s going or who the rabbit is or where the rabbit is. We might be the rabbits. Who knows? Come with us.” My dear friends, I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Freddie Mercury and maybe we can all benefit from Freddie’s philosophy, which was, “Nothing really matters. Anyone can see, nothing really matters to me.”
- Wellspring Conference
- Dave Asprey
- Jay Shetty
- Sarah Blakely
- Jesse Itzler
- Jason’s YouTube Channel
- The Pleasure Trap
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