YAPClassic: Benjamin Hardy on Willpower Sucks, Just Change Your Environment
YAPClassic: Benjamin Hardy on Willpower Sucks, Just Change Your Environment
Do you have trouble breaking old habits, creating new ones, or accomplishing your goals? If so, you might be relying on your willpower to make changes, and according to Benjamin Hardy, organizational psychologist and author, willpower doesn’t work! In order to create true, lasting change, you need to utilize your environment to support your goals.
In this #YAPClassic, Hala and Benjamin chat about key topics from his book Willpower Doesn’t Work, discuss the alternatives to willpower and how to commit to something, share how you can alter your surroundings to help you make changes, dive into the importance of morning rituals, and talk about how to get into a peak state.
– What motivated him to write Willpower Doesn’t Work
– Traditional beliefs behind willpower
– Why does willpower suck?
– Alternatives to willpower and how to commit to something
– Social pressure and making it public
– Importance of investing in your goals
– How to alter environment to help accomplish your goals
– How to optimize primary and secondary connections – Fostering high stress and high recovery environments
– Playing roles in different situations
– Importance of morning rituals and how to get into peak state – Ben’s recommendation for millennials
– And other topics…
Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist, author, and the world’s leading expert on the application of the Future Self science. His books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and his blogs have been read by hundreds of millions. He’s published six books, Willpower Doesn’t Work, Personality Isn’t Permanent, Who Not How, The Gap and the Gain, Be Your Future Self Now, and 10X is Easier than 2X.
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YAP Episode #7: Willpower Sucks, Just Change Your Environment: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/7-willpower-sucks-just-change-your-environment-with-benjamin-hardy/
YAP Episode #154: Social Entrepreneurship with Mark Batterson: https://youngandprofiting.com/154-social-entrepreneurship-with-mark-batterson/
Benjamin’s Website: https://benjaminhardy.com/
Benjamin’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjaminhardy88/
Benjamin’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/benjamin_hardy_phd/
Benjamin’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC07WXGmXVbNrv3VMOp5DvDw
Benjamin’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/benjaminhardy88/
Benjamin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/BenjaminPHardy
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Hala: so why did you become interested in helping people achieve their goals and what motivated you to write your book? Willpower doesn't work.
Benjamin: So the reason I got motivated to write this book, Is because I've studied psychology for a long time. I've stayed self improvement. I love it all. And basically I thought that a lot of the things that were being written were a little overly simplified.
Benjamin: Like, you know, I'm a huge believer in obviously having a positive attitude, having positive thoughts and things like that. But my experience being a foster parent and even studying psychology and even my own experience kind of made me really think a little bit more like from a first principles perspective, like where does the positive mindset come from?
Benjamin: You know, for most people. It's not instinctive. It has to be trained like, so for myself, when we were foster parents and we've recently adopted these kids, we've had them for going on four years, but they came from a really bad environment,
didn't have access to a lot of opportunity and their parents were very neglectful and on drugs.
Benjamin: And so, you know, when we get these kids and we put them in our environment, They all of a [00:01:00] sudden have to adapt to something totally different. You know, there's these two pretty highly educated people in a pretty affluent neighborhood who are super invested in them and who are giving them energy and attention, giving them good food, like wanting to get them extra curricular activities.
Benjamin: Like all of a sudden, you know, like you could imagine that I can't actually totally comprehend what that shift would be like for them, but I know what it was like for me, because we had never been parents before. And all of a sudden we were dealing with challenges, problems, things like that, that we had never had to deal with before.
Benjamin: And so when I wrote it for two reasons, I wrote it for one to say that a lot of people talk about willpower and discipline and are not bad idea. But they're not really full pictures. Like my kids, for example, if they had stayed in their prior environment, you know, they might've had a lot of grit and willpower, but they just lacked options.
Benjamin: They didn't really have a lot of choice. And then when you put them in this new environment, all of a sudden, a whole new world is opened up to them where change becomes a lot more organic. It's kind of like, you know, fruits and vegetables. Like you can't grow certain fruits and vegetables in bad terrain.
Benjamin: You have to have the right [00:02:00] soil, the right sunlight, things like that. And so I started to think about like, what about the circumstances that allow growth to happen? And then I started studying addiction and things like that because obviously, as you know, I had mentioned before in my past, There was a lot of addiction in my environment growing up.
Benjamin: And, you know, there's a lot of people in my world who are very close to me, who I love, who I've watched fail over and over when it comes to trying to overcome addiction. And if you really study addiction, you realize that you really can't overcome an addiction through willpower. It's the worst approach.
Benjamin: It's trying to fight a silent battle. It's trying to do it all by yourself. And the only way really out of an addiction as they say is through connection. It's through getting help with other people through being vulnerable, through getting a supportive accountability based in. And so those are a lot of the reasons why I wrote the book was because I was sick of hearing people, trying to grit their way to change when you really can't do it that way, you need an environment that supports you and you need an environment that helps you move from.
Hala: Cool. Well, I really look forward to picking your brain on this. How about we start with some context to help our listeners understand what [00:03:00] traditionally psychologists and scientists have said about willpower. Can you talk a little
Benjamin: bit about that? Yeah, totally. So, I mean, willpower, traditionally it is a muscle it's viewed as something that the more you use it, the more it goes away.
Benjamin: Like another definition of willpower is. Decision fatigue. So, you know, some people who have like, you know, there's lots of blog posts and things that were popularized for a while, talking about Steve jobs and mark Zuckerberg, and the fact that they were like the same clothes every day, they did that because of this concept of decision fatigue, which is basically willpower.
Benjamin: And it's this idea that if you make too many decisions, it wears you down. And so people who have a lot of things to do such as CEOs or entrepreneurs or people who are pursuing. They don't want to wear their mind down with menial things, such as like where they're going to wear that day. So they try to optimize or systemize as much of their life as possible to remove the decision-making component so that they can use their mind to actually make bigger decisions.
Benjamin: So that's kind of like [00:04:00] where the traditional perspective, and I actually agree with it. View of willpower. in
Hala: your book, you state that willpower is nothing more than a dangerous fad that's bound to lead to failure, or maybe it was a medium post. So in your opinion, why does willpower suck so much and why do you think people resort to using willpower to achieve
Benjamin: their goals?
Benjamin: So willpower, willpower sex for a lot of reasons, first off willpower is clearly unsustainable. It runs out, you know, so if you're using willpower, it's for a short-term thing, And so because of the fact that it's unsustainable, it clearly should not be a first approach. There should be better ways of doing things.
Benjamin: So I'm just gonna give a few different angles on why willpower is a bad perspective, but I'll start with the fact that just, we live now in a very global world. We live in a world that's changing so fast. That willpower is kind of like an old model, like, because things are changing so fast because we have so many options and choices.
Benjamin: Now our quote unquote decision fatigue wears out very fast. Rather than trying to rely on [00:05:00] willpower in this environment, it's a lot better to actually remove as many options as possible. And so, like, there's a really good quote from Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and he wrote the book triggers in the book. He said, if we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.
Benjamin: And that's basically what's happened for most people in the world today. Most people are. To technology to whether it be stimulants, like caffeine, huge like rates, almost everyone drinks, caffeine every single day, even though it's like not necessary, um, unhealthy food technology work, like there's just in general and even things like depression, like all these things are on the rise.
Benjamin: And it's because the state of our environment is just in a huge state of flux. You know, everything's changing so fast and these things are benefits. I mean, all the amazing options, the fact that you and I can talk over the internet, it's amazing. But the only way to like actually thrive in environments like this is to systematically [00:06:00] remove most of the options that are mostly distractions.
Benjamin: You know, like in a very simple example is just, if you don't want to. Subconsciously and out of habit, dopamine seeking, but your body is craving open up your cell phone and just mindlessly go through social media. Like just delete the app. Like basically it's making one decision so that you don't have to think about it again.
Benjamin: Like that's, that's like the new model is make one decision rather than rely on willpower. So like make one decision to change your environment so that you don't have to be influenced in a negative way. That's one reason why willpower sex. It's just, it just burns too fast. And it environments is stimulating as this.
Benjamin: Another reason that willpower is just kind of, you know, if you really like drill down and ask yourself, why does willpower exist in the first place? A lot of it's because you haven't actually made the decision like willpower in a lot of ways reflects internal conflict. You're not actually sure what you want.
Benjamin: Like, I'll just give an example. I, myself, you know, and I have no judgment towards anyone who does this, but I don't drink alcohol. Like, it's just not interesting to me. And [00:07:00] it literally takes zero willpower for me to not drink alcohol. It's not a part of who I am. It's not interesting to me. I don't have an environment that would even, yeah.
Benjamin: Um, like, obviously I'm around people. I've got friends, family who drink, but I'm rarely in environments where it's there. It's just not a part of my life. And it's, it has zero interest to me. Therefore it takes zero willpower. And I know that some people, obviously there's certain things in my life that do require willpower because I haven't set things up and I haven't actually made from decisions and commitments, but the actual Greek definition or root of the word decision is to cut off alternative.
Benjamin: And so if a person is relying on willpower, it's because they actually haven't truly made a decision about what they want. Like, they're still unclear. They're like, I kind of want to be in really good shape, but I also really want to eat ice cream every day. Like, until like they're torn between two things and they're not really clear once you actually make a decision and you're from on that.
Benjamin: And like the other options go out the door and then, then your job is to create the environment that facilitates that decision, the support, [00:08:00] the help. So those are a few reasons why, if you're relying on willpower, your environment is coming against you. And also you yourself are not really clear on what's going on.
Hala: So if willpower doesn't work at all, what does work and what, what do we need to do to bypass the need for willpower and truly commit to
Benjamin: Yeah, absolutely. I would say there's, there's two core things. You have to make decisions and you have to create environments that facilitate those decisions. So like, as Marshall Goldsmith's. He said, you know, if you do not create and control your environment, then it will create and control you. So the first step, you know, is changing.
Benjamin: What's coming in Zig Ziglar, who's a famous pop psychologist and a lot of ways motivational speaker. He said your input shapes your outlook and your outlook shapes your output. Basically what he's saying is, is your input, the things that are coming in, the information you're consuming, the books, you're reading, the people you're around the food, you're eating the music.
Benjamin: You're listening to all those inputs coming in are influencing your outlook on the world and your [00:09:00] behavior and your outlook determines your behavior and your outputs. And so. I think that a really key just initial step for people is mindfulness. Mindfulness is really an awareness of what's going on around you and how it impacts you.
Benjamin: So like being mindful of the fact that you're being influenced by things, by the stuff in your newsfeed, by the people around you, by your upbringing, you're being influenced. And so then you have to ask yourself, like, is this really influencing me in the way that I want to? Am I becoming the person I want to be in my view?
Benjamin: Is my environment reflective of who I really want to be. And if not, then you got to start making different decisions and then changing those inputs to determine what you actually want to get out of life. And so true. Decision-making if it's true, like if it's a real decision, not just a preference, it means that you absolutely will change your external circumstances to make that decision happen.
Benjamin: So at the most basic level, I mean, and I can give you obviously a lot of strategies if you want. Happy to do it. There's lots in the book, but really what it comes down to is [00:10:00] it's making real decisions and then creating an environment that actually allows those decisions to be real, not just something that's in your head and not just something that you say you want to do.
Benjamin: It's like, no, if you will do it, you have to actually go out in the world and make it happen. So, so
Hala: let's talk about those strategies. One of them I found really interesting was making them. Can you talk about like social pressure and how announcing something and making it public can help us commit
Benjamin: to a goal.
Benjamin: Yeah, totally. So in the book I talk about John Burke and he's, he's a really good friend. He's a fun guy. He's a piano player in Atlanta, Georgia, and he's a super creative guy, 29 years old. He's pumped out lots of different albums. He's I think he's got like eight or nine albums that he's composed and recorded.
Benjamin: One of them was nominated for. Um, but he uses social pressure a lot. He actually has a really good system that kind of goes through a lot of what I would call forcing functions, or basically just strategic ways in which you can get yourself to do things, [00:11:00] but how he uses social pressure is whenever he creates a new album, he tells his fans, you know, that he's working on it and that it's going to be out on a specific date.
Benjamin: He says it, it really matters to him what his fans think about him. And so when he tells him that something's going to come out soon, that kind of puts the pressure on him to actually produce it. And he does that on purpose. He publicly commit to his audience, whether that be on social media or Facebook or, or, you know, through email or at concerts that he's got a new project coming out.
Benjamin: And then it's going to be out and he tells them when it's gonna be out, even though he hasn't even completed it or finished it, or maybe even started working on it, he does that so that it will actually force himself to do it in a lot of ways because now people are expecting it. I
Hala: actually do that personally, too.
Hala: Even with starting this podcast, I had announced it as a new year's resolution purpose. Like I didn't even start yet, but just purposely to make sure that I had the fire under me to, to get it done.
Benjamin: [00:12:00] Pressure can bust pipes or can make a diamond, you know, but I, in my opinion, creating a little bit of social pressure just to get yourself to do what you really want to do internally. Anyways, why wouldn't you do it? You know, I mean, it's something that you already want to do. So why not just add a little bit of motivational buyer
Hala: and how about investing upfront and the importance of investing in
Benjamin: your goals?
Benjamin: Yeah. This is a huge one. This is like one of, in my opinion, this brings the two worlds together. As far as making decisions. And changing your environment because investing financially into your goals, it changes your psychology. Like when you become invested in something, you have ownership over it. And when you have ownership over something, you become very committed to it.
Benjamin: That's a concept called sunk cost bias. And a lot of people look at it from the negative. They say, you know, if you're too invested in something, you're going to stay committed to it long after you should. But for someone who has a hard time committing in general or who, you know, has a hard time making decisions in the first place, Starting to invest your money into something.
Benjamin: Let's just say it, the [00:13:00] podcast. And they're like buying a microphone or, you know, getting some form of mentoring or joining a gym and getting a personal trainer, like actually paying money and investing it in a lot of ways, solidifies the decision. And I spent a lot of time studying this in my PhD research.
Benjamin: I studied entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, and I wanted to know the difference and I interviewed a ton of them, you know? And these are people, the wannabes, for example, these are people who. Said they really wanted to be entrepreneurs, but they didn't define themselves as one. They didn't see themselves truly as an entrepreneur, their identity hadn't gone through a shift.
Benjamin: They were like, that's something I want to be, but that's not what I am. They were still an outsider of what they wanted to be. Whereas, you know, actual people who are entrepreneurs, they saw that as their identity. And I asked, well, how did you make that shift? What was that transition in the transition?
Benjamin: Almost always involved some form of financial investment, where they started investing money into their goals. They started actually taking on risk and then having to kind of rise to the risks that they created, you know, [00:14:00] having to rise and produce and become, and they started behaving. In ways towards that goal.
Benjamin: And when you start behaving towards a goal, your identity starts to change because your personality and your, your identity, they follow your behavior. So when you start behaving in a certain way, you start to see yourself differently. That idea is called self signaling in psychology. But basically if you start acting in a different way, you're going to start to see yourself in a different way.
Benjamin: And so that was kind of the big shift and you can apply this idea in, in amazing ways. You know, when I first started blogging, it started really small. It started by obviously like buying a domain name, you know, Benjamin hardy.com. That was an $800 investment in my wife. We had to actually ask ourselves, is this something I'm actually going to do?
Benjamin: Or is this just some pipe dream, you know, or. Like, am I actually going to do this or am I wasting $800? And so I convinced her that like, this is something I really want to do. And in the investment itself, I think in a lot of ways is what helped me maintain commitment. And then just investing further, you know, buying an online course, learning how to right.
Benjamin: Hiring coaches, you know, [00:15:00] people who had successfully written blogs like paying for 30 minutes of their time, maybe like a hundred or $200 just to like have a conversation like those investments. Although not huge. When you watch yourself perform those types of behaviors. You have these aha moments where you're like, wow, I'm actually doing this thing.
Benjamin: Like, wow, like this is actually, you know, in your case, for example, like at some point, you know, you started telling people you were gonna do a podcast. Like now you're actually witnessing yourself having a conversation. You've got a recorder, you know, you're putting stuff out. So it's really important to have those moments where you're actually watching yourself do things that are goal oriented.
Benjamin: And then, you know, you can stretch the idea really. Where it's like, you know, there's certain environments that are very exclusive, you know, whether they be like mastermind groups, which I talk about in the book, you know, I talk about a group called genius network, which is one that I was very intrigued by when I first heard about it like four years ago.
Benjamin: Cause my aunt Jane, who is an awesome business owner, she joined genius network, which costs $25,000 a year to be a part of it's a very exclusive entrepreneurial mastermind group run by Joe Polish and. [00:16:00] What was interesting is, you know, she was freaked out, obviously because $25,000 is an enormous investment for a, one-year basically opportunity to be in a group.
Benjamin: But what I watched when I saw her, and this was back in 2014, I watched her make some huge shifts. And it was because of the type of people that she was around and the things that she was learning and the fact that she had invested so huge into her own goals. I mean, when you invest that. Into your dreams.
Benjamin: You're pretty much telling yourself like that I'm worth it. That I really believe in it. Like there's a really cool idea in psychology. It comes from Dr. David Hawkins. He wrote a book called letting go, but he basically said that your subconscious mind will only allow you to have what you believe you deserve.
Benjamin: So like you said, if you believe you deserve poverty, then that's what you're going to have, you know? Like, and so what's really cool when you make a big decision or like an investment in yourself or even small investments in yourself is what you're doing is, is you're. Telling your subconscious mind that you deserve more, or you're telling your subconscious mind you, you know, you can have more.
Benjamin: And so that's what I [00:17:00] saw in my aunt is when she made this huge investment, then she was surrounded by these people who are succeeding at a level way higher than she was used to succeeding. You know, you become the product of the five people you spend the most time with. I just saw her transform and that had a huge impact on me like four years ago.
Benjamin: And so I was like, I made the kind of initial commitment in my mind, you know, I made the decision that I'm going to learn how to get into environments like that. I'm going to learn how to invest in myself that big, and I'm going to learn how to be able to contribute in groups like that. And that's, that's what I've learned, how to do on multiple levels.
Benjamin: And I can just definitely attest, you know, like Dan, Sullivan's the founder of strategic coach. And he said, when you sign a check, like a check like this, where you join a group, or when you invest in yourself in some way, All of a sudden, you start to get all these big ideas. You start to learn new things, you know, because you've already made the commitment.
Benjamin: And once you've made the commitment the decision's already been made and therefore you don't have to think about or wonder about what you're going to do anymore. I call it the point of no return. And at that level, [00:18:00] all of a sudden your motivation shifts, you're no longer pushing. You're no longer using willpower.
Benjamin: You're actually being pulled forward and all this. You just unblock the roadblocks and all of a sudden, all the ideas and inspiration start coming and you start thinking bigger. And so that's some of why investment is so key.
Hala: So let's focus on environment. Cause I feel like that's really, one of your big tenants in your book is to remove and alter anything in your environment that opposes your commitments.
Hala: Can you talk about how we should do that and how we should kind of set limiting options to make sure that we accomplish our
Benjamin: goals? Yeah. You gotta be aware of what influences you, Jason creed, he's the founder of base camp, which is a multi-billion dollar company. He said that he really limits what influences him, because he doesn't really want to be influenced by that much.
Benjamin: So basically what he's saying is he realizes that most of the stuff out there is garbage. You know, Greg McKeown in the book essentialism said that almost everything is irrelevant. And so I think first step is just [00:19:00] realizing that almost everything in the world on the internet is a distraction. And so you want to, you want to limit all of that stuff.
Benjamin: You know, there's a really good book. Good to great. And he says good as the enemy of great. And so I think the first step is just removing bad options, removing even good options so that you can save time for the best. And you know, what does that look like? It includes food, you know, books, uh, information, I mean just actually raising your standards for.
Benjamin: For what's actually in your life, like, rather than trying to exert willpower to not eat the crap in your fridge, like, just get it, get rid of it, you know, just like literally remove it, make one decision so that you don't have to drag your feet and think about it all day. I mean, that's a big one. It's just removing negative influence or removing.
Benjamin: Subpar influence that could include people who are dragging you down. It could include just information, media decisions, even places, places that trigger you into, you know, reverting back to perhaps unhealthy behaviors. I mean, that's, that's [00:20:00] just like 1 0 1 is just remove the negative and then being strategic about what's going to happen when you're in an environment where you may be triggered, you know?
Benjamin: So there's an, there's an idea in psychology called implementation intention. And basically what it is is, you know, you want to preplan for the worst case scenarios. Cause they're going to come up. You want to have a plan in place so that when you get triggered to self-sabotage you have a game plan, basically it's planning for failure.
Benjamin: It's just, it's thinking about the process, but it's really easy actually. You just create if then scenarios and you're very specific. It's like if this happened, Then I'm going to do this, you know, and in the book I talk about, I used to always, like when I walked into my kitchen, just I had a bad habit just like craving sweet, you know?
Benjamin: And a lot of it was just, that was just how our environment was set up. That's where I was. And this was years ago. But what I did just using this strategy was whenever I walked into the kitchen and if I ever got triggered or just had the desire, because when you walk into an environment, generally [00:21:00] you're triggered subconsciously to want something or do something.
Benjamin: You know, you feel a certain way based on the places you. But every time I would walk in and if I had thought like that I wanted to eat something sweet out of habit, I would just drop and do like 20 pushups. So it's like if I walk into the kitchen and get triggered to do something in this case, eat a cookie or whatever, each chocolate chips, then I'm going to do 20 pushups and grab a cup of water.
Benjamin: Basically. What this does, is it trains you to eventually develop the new house? Basically you create a new trigger so that whenever I walk in the kitchen now, rather than being triggered, do you talk with chips? I'm triggered to drink water and do pushups. Like you, you basically just shift the pattern subconsciously, um, and it gives you enough time, especially in the beginning to distract yourself because in a lot of ways, when you get triggered to do something, whether it's check your smartphone, Whether it's, you know, for some people who had heavy addictions to go get drunk or whatever, in a lot of ways, you just need a few minutes to distract yourself, to divert your attention and focus on something else [00:22:00] just for a few minutes and the craving will go away.
Benjamin: That's why they talk in AA. Um, alcoholics anonymous about having like a sponsor. So like if you get triggered in like a, person's like having this intense, crazy. They call someone who just helps distract them and helps them think about something else, refocus on their goals. You can get good at that. I mean, those are.
Hala: it seems relatively straightforward to remove things in our physical environment, but you mentioned distancing yourself from negative influences in terms of people. And you also mentioned you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And in your book, you mentioned that the people, your friends are friends with also impact you too.
Hala: Can you talk about primary and secondary connections and how, how we should aim to optimize that part about.
Benjamin: Yeah, the quote is very popular by Jim Roan. You know, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with, which is true, but yeah, that's like that would be considered a primary connection.
Benjamin: A secondary connection is who are your friends, [00:23:00] friends, because, you know, you may be influenced by your friends, but who are your friends influenced by? Because your friends aren't always with you clearly and they're being influenced by other people. And so. You want to think about not only who are your friends, but where are your friends going?
Benjamin: You know, what, what are your friends being influenced by? Like, you know, what's cool about this is that you think about the idea that, you're connected to everyone in the world through like seven degrees of connection.
Benjamin: You know what I mean? Um, but if you think about it, like there's certain people in your world who are connected to people who maybe you want to be connected to, right. You may really want to get in touch with them. And this is actually really a strategy in business. If you want to get to someone who's really hard to get access to, you know, but they may have friends or if someone who's not very hard to get access to, well, how do you become friends with that person?
Benjamin: You know, and obviously this is like a very strategic approach, but you know, in real simple terms, it's like you want your friends to be powerful and to have a positive impact. And I think generally. You know, there's a quote that [00:24:00] basically says like attracts, like, but generally if you're around positive people, they're probably around positive people,
Benjamin: So something
Hala: else I just wanted to touch on is in your book, you mentioned creating environments that have a lot of high stress and high recovery. And can you talk about the difference between the two and why they're important?
Benjamin: Definitely. In order to grow, to get good at something like, let's just say in fitness, for example, in order to get stronger, you have to dress on yourself, you know, to grow a muscle, you have to put a lot of stress on it, but where the actual growth occurs is actually during recovery while you're asleep, the same is true with your brain.
Benjamin: You know, you, you stress it out through learning or through some form of tasks, but then you actually need to let it recover, like without sleep, for example, your brain, it doesn't process memories and things as well. And so. The idea is just simple as that you need to really stress your system and you need to really recover your system.
Benjamin: And the problem in today's world is [00:25:00] that that rarely happens. The situation hasn't been set up for such. So most people are not really, you know, on a regular basis rising to really hard challenges and difficulties at work. You know, like for the most part, they're not paid based on performance, they're paid based on.
Benjamin: Time and effort, you know? And so because of that, there's a lot of room for being distracted. There's a lot of room for just doing this or that. There's not a lot of true, intense stress. And I'm talking about like you stress, which is positive stress. Like. And even in people who go to the gym, even though they're in that environment, they haven't situated themselves where they're actually pushing themselves and going farther and farther in a lot of ways.
Benjamin: They're just repeating the routine that they did yesterday. And so, you know, the idea of recovery, like very few people will truly allow themselves to recover in recovery. Should be a daily thing, but it also should be a regular thing where you go a lot deeper into the recovery. So there's a lot of really good ideas around the concept of like sabbaticals nowadays, where [00:26:00] like there's a really good Ted talk about a guy.
Benjamin: And if you just like Googled Ted talks, sabbatical, you'd find it. But there's a really famous artist who lives in New York. Every seven years, he leaves for an entire year travels. The world doesn't work. He closes his studio and just totally Blisses out, you know, just travels and, and just relaxes. Doesn't do any work during that one year, he gets all of his best creative ideas because he's actually in a state of relaxation, which is generally required for creativity.
Benjamin: It's why people get creative ideas in the shower, or when they're on the commute is like most good creative ideas happen in a state of recovery and relaxation. And so. You know, there's an idea in psychology called psychological detachment from work. And basically what it means is is that if you don't turn off mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally from work, you'll have a really hard time attaching to work.
Benjamin: When you get there, you won't be fully in a flow state. You won't be fully [00:27:00] engaged because you're not really engaged anywhere else. And Dan Sullivan has a good quote, but basically it's wherever you are, that's where you should be. So the idea is, well, how do you set up environments? How do you set up the situation so that you're under high pressure and actually growing and stretching.
Benjamin: And then how do you set up environments where you can totally unplug and just be where you are and actually recover and just be present with your loved ones? I think that that's kind of, that's kind of key is figuring out how to set those two things up. And in the book I explained. You know, the flow triggers or the situational factors, but basically in order to have a high stress environment, there needs to be difficulty.
Benjamin: Meaning you're doing stuff that's above your skill level. You need to be doing new things. Novelty like novelty and newness is really good for being engaged where you're at. Obviously you need to eliminate distractions. You know, having a short timeline is really good. You know, like obviously if you have a short timeline, then your.
Benjamin: You're probably more focused and just like the more of these types of things you [00:28:00] can create for yourself, you know, being paid based on performance, for example, rather than just time punched on the clock, like where your, where your behavior actually matters. Like the more of those things you can do, like collaborating and working with other people.
Benjamin: And then just actually having hard boundaries, giving yourself boundaries and giving yourself and the other people in your life. The respect of totally unplugging leaving your cell phone. And your car or not bringing it home with you, like actually just trusting that everything's going to be okay. The university is going to be all right.
Benjamin: And when you get back, you can get back to work tomorrow and just leave it alone and go home and just be home and just engage with the other components of your life and actually have a life. And it's so good for creativity and so good for work.
Hala: Something else I want to touch on is the different roles that people play.
Hala: So in your book, you, you go into how based on the environment you play different roles. Can you talk about that? And you can talk about how, if it's possible to redefine our roles in a certain environment that we
Benjamin: have. So [00:29:00] obviously we all play roles in the various situations or in, you know, you can go in one situation from sitting in class and being.
Benjamin: Going into a different class and being the teacher, or, you know, in my case, for example, fishes in my PhD program, I would go from sitting in classroom, a student to going home and being dad, you know, like those are two different roles and in those roles I operate differently. Right? So who you are in one situation is not who you are in a different situation because it's actually the relationship between things that is the reality.
Benjamin: So for example, the relationship between me and my teacher creates the role. And that relationship between us, it defines us, you know, so in that situation, you know, there's a relationship between us, uh, on the student, he's the teacher. And so within that relationship, I have certain. Possibilities opportunities.
Benjamin: I behave in a certain way. I act, I feel a certain way. And then when I go home, the context changes, you know, and all of a sudden, you know, the [00:30:00] relationship between me and my child is that like they see me as dad. And from that role, I then act in a different place. What's really cool though, to realize is that in a lot of ways, most people are very reactive about the roles that they're in.
Benjamin: Like they're not, they're not proactive about choosing their roles in life, you know? So some people are like a victim to. The situations they've been in, they don't proactively decide what role they will play. And I think when you start to really learn that you have a lot more creative control over your life, you get to design the role.
Benjamin: That you're in, you know, it's just like acting and improv, you know, like you get to decide what role do I actually want to play in this situation is the role that I've been infective or has it been limiting and you can start to design the roles that you're in. I think it's very freeing to realize, like, if you've been acting a certain way, it's not because that's who you are.
Benjamin: It's because you've been assuming a role and you can change that role. and a lot of ways, the role is a story that you've told yourself about the situation and you don't have to live in that role. You can change the role. And [00:31:00] when you do, you can act in a different way.
Benjamin: You know, you've got a lot more freedom to act. If you decide you want. Play a different part in the situation. It's just taking a lot more control and responsibility over your life.
So moving on to other gems that you put out there in the world, something really popular you have is a morning ritual and getting into peak state.
Hala: Can you describe that to our
Benjamin: listeners? Yeah, absolutely. So basically the idea is really simple. You know, first thing in the morning, you don't want to be. Distracted and reactive to the addictions in the environment, such as smartphones and things like that. You actually want to give yourself space to think about.
Benjamin: When you want to do that day, who you want to be, what you want to do, big picture. And long-term so most people, their day is a repeat of the past. They wake up, they get caught into their subconscious loops, whether that be through smartphones or through just the food's aid or through their schedule and their routine.
Benjamin: And they just, they live a pretty predictable. But if you want to [00:32:00] create a life from your future, rather than from your past, you have to give yourself the space to actually think about that. And so that's, I think in my opinion, the core reason for having a morning routine, obviously in the morning routine, you can actually start behaving towards that future as well.
Benjamin: And then you can start creating it. You can also do things like fitness and do those things, which are more important than urgent, but. The idea of getting yourself into a peak state is really connected to this idea in self-improvement called be then do then have, and basically what it means is that in order to have something you have to first be that thing you have to be, and then you have to do, and then you have to act.
Benjamin: And so you want to give yourself space. And then in the book, I talk a lot about journaling. You know, obviously there's a lot written to the idea of writing down your goals, but writing down your goals. And visualizing them has to also include really, truly experiencing the emotion of what it would be like and feel like to have achieved those goals.
Benjamin: Like that's, that's what true being feels like. You actually want to assume is a really good quote [00:33:00] from, I forget his last name, Neville something, and that might even be his last name, but he said, assume the feeling of your wish fulfilled, basically, you know, you want to. Ponder meditate, write about what you're trying to accomplish, and you want to feel, feel gratitude, feel powerful emotions about what, what it would actually be like to have that, and then believe it.
Benjamin: And what's cool is, is that your brain, you know, it doesn't actually know the difference between true experience versus visualized and emotional imagination. Albert Einstein. Said that imagination is more important than knowledge. It's far more powerful than knowledge and it can stimulate your brain the same way.
Benjamin: And so when you give yourself space in the morning to write about your goals, you know, and you can obviously work out and you put yourself into the emotional place of the future you want to create, then you act from that future you B and then you do, you start acting from the future you want to have versus acting the same way you did yesterday.
Benjamin: That creates. What I would call a peak [00:34:00] state because you're in this flow where you're living intentionally and you're living on purpose. And it just, it feels a lot better than just doing what you're doing, because that's how things have been done. And obviously there's a lot of. A lot that comes with acting with intention.
Benjamin: Like when you start acting in new ways, it can create a lot of uncertainty because when you act in new ways, it's slightly unpredictable. You know, there's a reason why people act the same way every day is because it's predictable and they like their lives to be predictable. Our brains seek prediction.
Benjamin: But when you do something new, you've stepped out of those boundaries. You've stepped out of the realm of like, oh, I know exactly how this is going to turn out. And it feels different, but what that feeling is, even though it's uncertainties, is that it's actually being alive. Like it's actually doing something new, like you did when you were a kid where you didn't actually know exactly what would happen, but you were okay with that.
Benjamin: And that is really good for the brain. And it's really good for the body. And it's, it's, it's just a great way to live and it's, it's better to [00:35:00] live that way with intention, even though you don't exactly know how it's going to turn out. And being reactive and just doing the same thing you did before,
Hala: we go, what is one thing you would recommend a millennial change after listening to this show?
Hala: If you had one thing to recommend a millennial to
Benjamin: change, I would say, um, probably take a hard look at like what's going on around you. And if it really matches with the person, you kind of see yourself as, or see yourself wanting to be. And then just owning the fact that, you know, your environment is, is a vehicle and it's taking you a direction.
Benjamin: And that includes the friends. You have the people you listen to, the things you put in your body. Like those things are a vehicle taking you to. And willpower is not going to work in that situation because the environment's just stronger than you, you know, you're in the environment, you know, it's like, you know, you're inside the jar.
Benjamin: And so rather than trying to fight against the jar, you know, change it. And, [00:36:00] you know, you can deploy a lot of the strategies we talked about in this book, making decisions, changing, to having more positive influence, uh, investing in yourself, um, seeking mentorship. I would just say. Hyper awareness of what's going on around you and the fact that it's taking you somewhere.
Benjamin: And then if you want to do something about it and making strong, powerful,
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