MGU 225 | Do Nothing


We are not designed to persist. We are designed to have a heartbeat. Celeste Headlee, the author of Do Nothing: How To Break Away From Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, believes that we have to pulse from social interaction and solitude, that we don’t have to be pressured to show up at all times. We are designed to press and then relax. Understanding this can help us a lot in achieving relief, happiness, and our overarching goals in life. It is with great joy that we get to hear more of Celeste’s insights in this conversation with Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen. Join in!

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The Do Nothing Revolution: Relief, Happiness, And Overarching Goals With Celeste Headlee

I am absolutely thrilled about this episode. It has been at least months in the making. Officially, we have been talking about having this guest on our show for a couple of months. This is an incredible author who I fell in love with. I believe it was in September 2020 when I started listening to the audiobook version of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. I was listening to this audiobook on a cross-country road trip. It blew me away but I feel like that term does not quite do it justice. I was instantly taken aback by how powerful this book is because I have been thinking about how I could break away from overworking and how it might benefit me and others in my life to do more of nothing.

I love this book so much that I have also read the written version of it and I have listened to the audiobook, I think, 2.5 times at this point. I then picked up Celeste’s book, We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, which was also wonderful. I thought of a nice quote to bring up. I don’t know if this is in either of your books, Celeste, so forgive me if it is but it came from another book that I’m reading about digital minimalism.

MGU 225 | Do Nothing

Do Nothing: How To Break Away From Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving

I thought this summarized or bridged the gap between your two books, I should say. It’s from Edward Gibbon who said, “Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.” To me, that idea of that is so important for us to communicate with each other as you talk about in both books. We need to spend more time in solitude and not necessarily on our own but by doing nothing, by spending more time with our thoughts and less time trying to be busy overworking and on our devices, perhaps we can enrich our lives more than we do when we are addicted to productivity and efficiency as you talk about so much in Do Nothing. I’m thrilled to explore this with you.

First of all, that was an awesome intro. Thank you. That quote reminds me of one thing I found in my research that still stays on my mind, which is this idea that human beings are designed to pulse.   Given as they are talking about alternating between conversations, social interaction and solitude, not living in all in one space or the other but alternating between the two. It’s the same thing for human beings that we are not designed to persist. We are designed to pulse between activity and leisure, pulse between social interaction and isolation. We are designed to naturally have a heartbeat to our lives of sometimes pressing and relaxing.

I think that’s interesting for a lot of reasons, Celeste because I feel like during this period of isolation that the world has been in, I have had a lot of conversations with people who may identify on a spectrum of extroversion or introversion. It’s interesting the contrast you bring up. I think about this pulsing concept in the sense that I think pre-pandemic, I was very much out all the time, doing events, doing speaking appearances, just being maybe overly social. Now, spending a lot of time in isolation and with myself and my own thoughts, I have a mixture of excitement and anxiety when I think about going out and being social in large groups of human beings. I’m curious in terms of our emotional response to perhaps a post-pandemic world, it’s interesting to notice these feelings of anxiety around being from other humans but I also desire it because I miss other humans.

I think you have brought up an important point. There’s nothing good to say about COVID-19. If there’s maybe one silver lining, I hope that it’s that perhaps people are realizing they are not the introvert they thought they were. Introversion is misunderstood. It has been trendy for a little while for people to identify as introverts. The fact of the matter is that people, it’s unlikely you are an introvert. A small percentage of the population is introverted. Even if you go back to the origins of those phrases, introversion and extroversion, you will see that they were always intended to describe the extremes of the spectrum.

'Human beings are designed to pulse.' We are not designed to persist. We are designed to have a heartbeat. Click To Tweet

The vast majority of humankind lives in the middle. We are ambiverts. We are adaptable. We can be at a party if we need to be and survive. We sometimes need to be alone. Sometimes we like to be among other people. Sometimes we like to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Most people are ambiverts. As people started to shelter at home and like you began to realize, “I miss other people,” perhaps it’s making people realize they are not introverts. They are ambiverts. They sometimes want to be around others and sometimes want to be alone. That’s how we all are. We have gone the other way.   People are too alone right now. To be frank, we were already in a loneliness epidemic before the pandemic fell. We were already isolating ourselves to a pretty dangerous degree before COVID-19. COVID-19 has made it worse but it was already bad.

That leads me to a big question I have for you, Celeste, about how it felt to release a book. Didn’t your book, Do Nothing, come out on March 10, 2020? The pandemic was that week.

I’ve got two days. I arrived in New York, Sunday night. I had a Monday and Tuesday of my book tour and then everything closed on Wednesday. That’s the least of the disappointments associated with COVID-19. It has been rough for authors. There’s this assumption that book sales have gone up. I don’t think that’s entirely true. The thing about authorship and writing is it’s such a solitary activity, that I am among those authors that look forward to those book tour events, of the book signings and meeting your readers and hearing their stories. People who have read your books have inevitably found new perspectives on them, new ideas or they make unexpected connections. It’s always exciting. That’s disappointing but again I’m healthy and that’s the important part.

I’m curious about how it felt to release a book about doing nothing, which probably felt timely before the pandemic. Our relationships to doing nothing shifted a lot. I remember at the beginning of 2020, I was craving it. I wanted to do less and then in March, I had this opportunity and we thought at the time that we will stay home for a few weeks. We will figure this out. It will go away and then we will be back to normal.

Here we are and it has been almost a year of this. You were writing it before you knew all this was going to happen. It was from likely a different perspective but it’s timely and it may be a different way than I imagine you expected it to be if that makes sense because our relationship to technology and productivity has shifted a lot during COVID. One thing Jason and I have discussed a lot is how in April of 2020, there were so many people coming out and saying, “If you are not using this time to be productive and to hustle,” and they were like, “Let’s take all this new time we perceive that we have and use it to our advantage.” I’m really curious how you felt about this and that mentality.

MGU 225 | Do Nothing

Do Nothing: We were already in a loneliness epidemic.


When the pandemic fell, when it became clear, as you say that it wasn’t going to be just a few weeks and that it was going to be a while, I was apprehensive. I said, “This is going to make stuff so much worse,” and it did. The reason I thought that is because our homes are not designed for us to relax in anymore. People don’t do stuff at home that’s not work-related. If you think back to our parents and grandparents, they had hobbies. They made models. They collected stamps. They polished rocks. They did coin collecting. They had all these hobbies that weren’t worth anything on your resume. They weren’t shareable on Instagram. They were just stuff that you enjoyed for no reason.

We don’t have any of that anymore. Our homes are not a refuge to relax you and help you enjoy leisure. There’s nothing to do at home anymore. I read a report saying that a lot of Americans don’t know how to play any card games except solitaire and poker. All these people were sitting at home with really nothing to do. I said, “People are going to start working more.” They have. The preliminary research shows that people are working longer hours and they are taking more meetings during the pandemic than they were before. The reason is that one person put it this way, we are not working from home, we are living at work. Basically what we have done, because we don’t have our homes set up to bring delights, play or relaxation, we just allowed work to claim every corner of our homes.

People would pick up their laptops and move from the kitchen to the living room, to the bedroom, wherever they want and essentially telling the brain that, “Every part of my house is appropriate for work,” which means that your brain is never going to shut off anywhere in your house. You are at work as far as you know cognitively. I knew it would be bad and it’s bad. This great person wrote four novels while he was stuck in prison, during the plague or whatever, I was on that from the beginning trying to say, “This is crap.” Do not listen to this. Just sit at home in your PJ’s and I don’t care what you think. Put your fingers through your hair. Do whatever you want. Polish your living room table. I don’t care what it is but stop working.

I’m curious, Celeste, how the feedback that has come to you during the pandemic, especially releasing this book, Do Nothing that as Whitney mentioned, she had forwarded me her copious and wonderfully detailed notes. One of the biggest things that I took away from reading these sections was what I like to call a toxic capitalist culture, sort of this corporate military-industrial complex has commodified humanity. We have turned people into numbers. We have turned people into leverage points to increase productivity and shareholder value and have dehumanized people in a myriad number of ways.

How do we encourage others to do nothing and become better communicators? Get them off their devices. Click To Tweet

I’m curious when you purport a philosophy of do nothing, engage in more leisure time and remove yourself from this manic need to be productive and efficient all the time, did you receive any messages like, “We are in a pandemic,” and like, “I have to feed my kids and you are telling me to do nothing and yet I’m scraping by to put food on the table.” I’m curious what kind of pushback you have received if any and how you reconcile if a person is in that state of like, “No. I have to produce and there’s no other choice and you are telling me I’ve got to chill. I don’t have time to chill.”

I can almost instantly tell the difference between someone who’s read the book and someone who hasn’t based on just this. This isn’t a dig at you, Jason. We are all busy. This is a comment that I have based on responses. I am one of those authors who very much stays away from any of the comments on Amazon, Goodreads or whatever. When people are responding on social media, I know who hasn’t read it because people who have read the book, find the idea, the concept of do nothing as I express it, which is not literally doing nothing at all but just finding leisure in your life. They find it relaxing. Those who haven’t read find that simply bringing it up to be stressful. That’s the difference.

I almost start the book with this deep dive into history. The purpose was to relieve that stress for people because we have this feeling like this is how it is. This is how the world works. I can’t get off this treadmill. The reason I went back through all those centuries of labor history was to prove that this is recent. This toxic productivity, this never-ending treadmill, is all within like 200 to 300 years, which is an eye blink in the history of our species. We have lived one way for most of the 300,000 years we have been on this planet. In the last 200 or 250 years or so, we changed everything and not for the better. It should be relaxing to understand that if it changed once, it can change again. This is not the way things are supposed to be. You are not crazy when the pace of your work and the pace of your life is making you feel stressed out. It’s not just you. It’s everybody because this is not what’s healthy for us. We can live a different way.

That’s why I have read your book a few times now, Celeste. Every time I revisit it, I get this different perspective and I have listened to it with other people. One thing I have noticed is how hard it is to grasp some of the concepts that you bring up because of everything that you were saying. It truly does feel like an addiction to efficiency that we are in. As human beings, we are often stuck in whatever perspective we have at the moment based on what the media is feeding us and our friends are doing.

I appreciate the background history and the research that you have done to show we don’t have to live this way. This isn’t the only way and it doesn’t necessarily benefit us. Part of your point of the human drive to constantly improve is a big thing that I think a lot of us face and perhaps why that was a knee-jerk reaction to COVID. It’s like, “We are so scared of what’s going on.” What can we do? What can we control at home? We can improve. We can start a different workout. We can read more books, myself included.

This is something I have been examining, my desire to constantly optimize and that was part of the reason that I started reading your book. It’s reflecting on how connected I have been to technology and all of these different tools out there to do what I perceive as is growing but how that might be working against me in ways I didn’t even fully realize. Now, it’s challenging me. I’m very curious to hear your perspective on this, Celeste. Once you start thinking about doing less or shifting the way that you are operating in life but other people in your life are still addicted to efficiency, productivity, hustle and busyness. I’m personally very sensitive to the word busy for example. Whenever I hear someone say, “I’m busy,” I get so triggered. It bothers me so much because it feels like such an empty word.

When I see people that are just hooked on their phones and hooked on social media, constantly working and can’t take breaks, it triggers me. I have read books like yours and I see this research and I’m fearful for them but it also triggers me because part of me thinks, “Maybe I should be living that way. Maybe doing nothing isn’t the answer.” It’s tough to operate when the world is so collectively addicted to efficiency. I’m curious how that has been working out for you since you have done all this research.

When I first started digging into the research, I was like, “We have all been brainwashed into believing all this stuff.” I was using that metaphorically, that word brainwash. As I kept researching, I realized it’s literal. There were intentional campaigns designed to convince us to change our values, to convince us that to sit idly or to do something that’s not earning money or that is not productive for the broader society is not just wasting money. It’s also bad like evil or you are a bad person. If you are doing that, idle hands are the devil’s playground. It was an intentional campaign.

MGU 225 | Do Nothing

Do Nothing: We are lured by the “ultimate tools” to improve our lives.


When I say that, you can trace back some of the sermons that were preached, especially in the 19th and early 20th century, in which these priests and pastors had close relationships with people like the Carnegies and Rockefellers. They were preaching the messages of these robber barons to their congregations. There came this confluence of capitalism with religion and with patriotism. You had this three-pronged effort to try and brainwash people. The original title for the book was The Cult of Efficiency based on a Bertrand Russell quote. I think that’s where we are now and it may be why you have ended up listening to it more than once and reading it more than once because if you are in a cult, you have to be deprogrammed. That’s sort of where we all are.

The deprogramming. I have had to learn to be more accepting that some people are so deeply embedded in that cult. That leads me to your second book that I read, which came out in 2017, We Need to Talk. That book is also very timely right now and as a great follow-up to Do Nothing but also leading up to your upcoming book, which comes out later in 2021. I started getting more and more interesting and having uncomfortable conversations. That’s the whole theme of this show.

The conversations themselves don’t always feel uncomfortable but it’s addressing the things that are uncomfortable in our lives and learning how to be a stronger communicator is incredibly important, not just for me as a podcaster but in my personal life, especially for what else happened in 2020, which is reflecting more on racism in the country and the world and looking at my relationship to racism and how do I communicate better as an ally. I’m thrilled that you have been working on a book about this and maybe you can give some more context to the readers and then we can talk more about how to have conversations that matter.

In the first book, We Need to Talk, I did spend one chapter talking about difficult conversations and I focused a little bit on race but I included all the difficult conversations that we have, oftentimes about politics, frankly. I wrote that one in 2016 and what I was discovering was that I needed to say more about how to talk about race. There are plenty of books out there that are like, “Let’s talk about race.” They are awesome and they are really valuable but they are saying educating people on issues of race. What I wanted to do was walk people through the conversation.

Here’s how you choose when to engage and not to engage. Here’s how you get yourself mentally and emotionally prepared for the conversation. Here’s how you get through it. The reason I felt that was so necessary is that looking around me, the conversations are so bad. They are so unproductive. They are moving us in the wrong direction. What you have are BIPOC people, Black Indigenous People Of Color on one end who are justifiably angry and tired. On the other hand, you have mostly white people who feel defensive, even those who are considered or consider themselves or are considered allies are going to make mistakes. They are going to get called out on it or they are going to be told that they benefit from privilege. That’s going to make people feel defensive.

When you have a conversation between people who are angry and people who are defensive, it’s not going to go well. Yet the need to have these conversations, just the urgency to have the conversation in which you humanize one another, instead of other one another, in which you can without even if you don’t agree to find a shared purpose and interest, any kind of common bond. It’s so crucial and it’s getting more and more urgent all the time.

Without giving away your book too much, Celeste, I’m curious if you can share how to bridge that gap. As you mentioned, that there’s this chasm between people and the conversations that you have witnessed have not been that productive or moving in the right direction. In a general sense, how do we bridge that gap and start to have better quality conversations where we can relate to each other on a deeper level?

The first thing I tell people in the book is to accept that you are racist because everybody is. In other words, absolutely everybody on the planet makes assumptions about other people based on their perceived color, race or ethnicity. If you can just let go of that, let go of this fear that you will be identified as racist, let go of the question of whether to call someone racist or not, just let it go. It’s the least important part of the conversation.

The most important conversation is not who’s racist or who isn’t. The question is, where can we find any kind of shared connection? Here’s another thing that people need to let go of. It’s this idea that a good conversation has to be between people who like one another. You do not have to like someone to have a conversation, not even in the least. When they have researched this, especially in the workplace, they have found no connection between teamwork and how well people like each other. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not. Listening to someone is not endorsing them. It gives them nothing, no tangible benefits. The goal of the conversation is not to change anybody’s mind. It’s not to persuade anybody. It’s not to, again, reward someone. It’s simply to gain a better understanding, understanding of yourself, the other person and where they are coming from.

I think this is so critical what you shared, Celeste because one thing that I have observed over time is the role of social media in continuing to stratify human beings and really fuel the separation and not always based on truth. Certainly, 2020 highlighted a lot of disinformation, the concept of fake news and also the revelation that a lot of the big social media conglomerates are programming their AI to increase engagement, shares, followers of inflammatory, violent, divisive content. We know that now. We know that these platforms are automatically favoring those types of posts.

It’s interesting to think about the alternate reality of social media, where if one wants to look at a world that is violent, angry, separate and divisive but then it’s like, “Can I proverbially speaking walk up to the person who might be a Trump supporter or something? and say like, ‘I’m noticing I have a reaction to this person but I want to sit down and have a respectful human conversation with them.’” I think it’s overcoming not only the societal conditioning but overcoming the poll of advertising and social media that seems to be fueling this idea of separation.

You have to be quite careful with social media. A lot of people think of social media as social interaction. It’s not. We know what social interaction looks like to our hormonal systems and our cognitive processes. We know what it looks like when a human being engages with another human being. That doesn’t happen when you are on social media. It just doesn’t. There is a use for social media. Social media is excellent at disseminating information, as you have just alluded to. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. it’s very good at making connections but if you want to turn those connections into a relationship, you have to get offline. The fact of the matter is that we have spent 300,000 years on this planet and we have evolved specifically to communicate through the human voice and ears and especially in person. The most effective way to communicate if you can’t be in person is just the phone.

Let me put it to you this way. Social media exhausts your social energy because you pour energy into it. Your mind every day makes millions and millions of decisions about what to do and it generally does that according to reward versus cost. What is the reward I get out of this activity versus how much it costs me to do it? My neighbor goes jogging because that ups his endorphins and he gets a big reward for that versus the cost of having to run. Me, I have arthritis in my knees, so the cost would be much higher. If I need endorphins, I don’t go running.

When it comes to social media, the cost is infinitely higher than the reward that you are getting. You are not going to get all those mood boosts, the stress relief, all of those things that are associated with authentic interaction, you are not going to get them from social media and yet the cost to you both emotionally and cognitively is very high. We are simply not designed to communicate that way. Think of it this way. Have you ever called a friend or a family member on the phone and they said, “Hello?” and you said, “What’s wrong?” That is how quickly, in less than half a second, your brain has taken in an incredible amount of very sophisticated and complicated information. Something in their breath, their tone, in less than half a second, your brain translated into probably accurate emotional information that cannot be replaced through the written text of any kind, book, newspaper or whatever.

First of all, have you spent any time examining Clubhouse? If not, I have a follow-up question. If so, I’m curious what you have discovered.

I have not because I don’t use an iPhone.

That has certainly been a challenge for those that have an Android. I’m very curious to see how Clubhouse will evolve when it’s open to all devices. I bring it up because what you were saying about using our voice versus text applies to that platform. It has grown so fast and I have been fascinated with that. Is it growing because it’s new? Is it growing because people are lonely? Is it growing because it’s using our voices instead of the written word? There’s no written word on Clubhouse, aside from your bio that you fill out for your profile. It sounds advantageous based on what you were saying, Celeste, about our voices.

The human drive to constantly improve and grow is innate and, in most ways, commendable. Click To Tweet

However, a huge issue that we have on Clubhouse, in my opinion, is that people aren’t listening to one another often enough. A lot of people go on this platform from my perspective to speak, to share, and it’s because of everything that we have been trained through social media and business in general. It’s about getting on the new platform and establishing your authority. I felt that pull, that desire to get up there and show how smart I am, what I know and all these things trying to boost myself up. I want to do more listening. One thing that I found interesting about that platform is people get uncomfortable when there are silences on Clubhouse. There’s a need to fill every single gap. There’s also a perception of you always have to have your talking points ready and this is something that you bring up in We Need To Talk. Instead of listening to one another, we are like waiting for our chance to speak again. I’m wondering if the culture of Clubhouse is encouraging that in some way.

I will be looking forward to the research that comes out after Clubhouse has been around for a little while. You have mentioned a number of things and I can speak on all of them. Number one is this need to constantly talk and talk about ourselves. There is so much research on this and just to give everybody an out here for a second. One of the things I talk about in that book, We Need To Talk, is how pleasurable it is to talk about yourself, your interests and the things you know and the things you like.

They did a study at Harvard in 2012 in which they put people inside MRI machines and gave them the opportunity to talk about different stuff. They found that talking about yourself, it’s called self-disclosure, activates your dopamine response. That’s your addiction hormone. It’s the same hormone neurotransmitter that starts pumping with your pulling the arm of a slot machine. It’s inherently pleasurable to talk about yourself, number one. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break.

The other thing I would say is that, in general, linguists will tell you that there are two purposes of conversation and that is information exchange and impression management. In other words, managing the impression we are making on other people. The problem is that, “I want this person to think well of me,” what was in the past has become commoditized and has become part of our addiction to work.  We are always thinking about our brand and trying to strengthen our brands in a way that makes this what would have been normally a healthy and relaxing activity.

It has turned it into a source of stress, a source of pressure. There are a lot of dread and anxiety wrapped up in creating a good impression now, whereas that used to be just a normal function of social interaction. That’s another part of it but I will say that it’s wrong-headed our approach to thinking about leveraging conversation. To think about conversation as something that we do for a purpose that’s other than building relationships and building society. Social interaction is meant to be a part of society. It’s a wrong approach to make even our conversations part of our work.

Celeste, I’m wondering what you would suggest in terms of, I suppose, taking a trendy phrase now? In reprogramming our sense of self in terms of if one perceives that their self-worth is based on their number of social media followers, their number of LinkedIn connections, how much they get paid, or their standing in their company they work for? There are a lot of these materialistic, sociological markers of how a person might gauge their sense of self-worth in the world.

If we start to separate ourselves from this idea that these numerical metrics equal our inherent value or our virtue, what do we start to replace that with? If someone’s weaning themselves off of this addiction of constantly making more money, increasing their social media following, etc., what does one do when they have that realization go, “I’m not my bank account. I’m not my social media following.” What’s driving me, if they have been driven by something like that for so long, how do we begin to replace that with something that is a healthier and more sustainable motivation?

What is your goal in your work? What is it that you want to achieve?

On a very fundamental level, I suppose it’s to make money so that I can shelter myself, put food on the table, and access healthcare and fundamentally thrive in the modern world.

Why do you want to make more money? I assume you want to grow your income. Why? What is the purpose of having a bigger, healthier bank account?

I suppose I have associated that with a level of choice and freedom that money in and of itself is not necessarily the thing that I’m going for. It’s what the money represents, which is the idea that I will have more choice, more access and feel freer in my life.

What do you get in exchange for all that?

Right now or when I make more money?

As your income goes up and you are earning more money but you are working hard to achieve some level of income.

I’m not, Celeste. My income’s gone down.

I don’t know if you have a goal number in your mind or not, but I wonder what that money is going to get you in your perspective? If you are focused on earning money because it will get you something like more choice or access, what does that mean specifically? What is that you want to achieve?

Initially, what I would love to do is buy property. It’s something that I have wanted to do for a while. It is to own my own home and buy some land. I’m big into animal rescue. As Whitney mentioned, we have some animals and somehow I keep acquiring more and I like the idea of having some acreage and being able to adapt and rescue more animals. I would need money to buy that acreage and the house.

What is the purpose of buying the house and the property, all that acreage?

I think a sense of safety and security that I have some semblance of higher security or safety by having my own home.

Why? What is the end goal of that? What’s the reason that you want to have that feeling of safety and security? What does that get for you?

I think so I can feel better about myself. A part of it is ego validation. It’s like, “You did well, Jason. You did something good. You provided for your girlfriend and your animals and you are a good guy.” It’s almost like a sense of validation.

Why do you need the validation? What is missing for you?

I still struggle with validating myself and I still struggle with patting myself on the back independent of those things and going, “You are lovable and you are worthy, Jason.” Regardless of the amount of money you have or social standing. I still have an idea, Celeste, that my lovability and my worth in this world is somehow tied to those things.

You are talking about emotional security here. Stuff that goes on inside your mind instead of things that are exterior. When you were making more money and when you had a higher income, did you feel better? Were you happy?

I think my ego felt better for a little while until I realized that it was a very dangerous thing, an unsustainable thing to tie my sense of self to the amount of money I was making. I remember the year after that I made whatever the highest amount that I made in a year and it went down. I remember thinking, “I did something wrong. I screwed up.” I very much had to go through the emotional rollercoaster of starting to detach that. Overall, I still have this idea of self-worth and my sense of self-being tied to it that I still am unraveling.

Honestly, this is a great line of questioning for you. It could lead you to some new solutions. Maybe there are there ways to get what you need besides just working hard and earning more money?

I was more stressed over the years that I was making more money. If I look back, to maintain that and I was, proverbially speaking, burning the candle at both ends. Celeste, may I ask you, what is your end goal?

I want to make the world a slightly better place. I want to be useful. I want to make a positive difference and make things at least a little bit better.

I perceive you as making it a lot better for me and I’m so grateful that that is your goal, Celeste because it reaches myself and Jason and our readers in such a profound way. I yearn for more people to be talking about the things that you discuss in your books and all of the places that you speak and share. You are just such a joy to listen to and I feel grateful because I want to read this back again, to be honest. That gift that you have given me to listen more, to step back, to analyze these goals and the gift that you gave to Jason is profound because it’s not just for him. It’s for the reader and myself.

MGU 225 | Do Nothing

Do Nothing: The goal of listening to someone is not to change their mind. It’s simply to gain better understanding of yourself and the other person.


I want to go back and answer those questions for myself. It’s so important what you are doing. I can’t wait to read your upcoming book. It’s something that I have needed myself. I’m grateful that you took the time and bringing all these different perspectives together. Speaking of making the world better, communication is one of the ways that we best do that. Many people are yearning to learn how to become better communicators and not just in this quick fix perspective that we can get from reading an article. When I read your books, I find so much value in them and that’s why I read them again because each time there are discovering more and I am immensely grateful. I’m grateful for your time here on the show, too. It has been so lovely.

I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. It has been great.

For our dear readers, dive deeper into Celeste’s work. Our website is, where you can dig into Celeste’s book and get your hands on her wonderful perspectives and wisdom. Celeste, thank you for doing that experiment with me. I feel like my state has changed through this conversation and this interaction with you. It has been really deep and beautiful. It has been a pleasure having you.

Thank you so much.

Thanks so much.

Thank you.


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About Celeste Headlee

MGU 225 | Do NothingCeleste Headlee is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker and author of We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter, and Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. An expert in conversation, human nature, reclaiming common humanity and finding well-being, Celeste frequently provides insight on what is good for all humans and what is bad for us, focusing the best research in neuro and social science to increase understanding of how we relate with one another and can work together in beneficial ways in our workplaces, neighborhoods, communities and homes. She is a regular guest host on NPR and American Public Media and a highly sought consultant, advising companies around the world on conversations about race, diversity and inclusion. Her TEDx Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation has over 23 million total views, and she serves as an advisory board member for and The Listen First Project. Celeste is recipient of the 2019 Media Changemaker Award.