“You want to see light at the end of the tunnel? Start digging!” -Humble The Poet
What We Discuss with Humble The Poet:
- How your upbringing can prepare you for success (or failure) later in life.
- Why being satisfied with less is different from simply giving up on achieving more.
- How real growth and struggle differ from tacky, self-help fluff.
- Why, if you don’t have a secure self-concept, the media (even if it’s just social media) will build it for you.
- How to build a moat around your psyche so you don’t let in mismatched influences.
- And much more…
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In this episode we talk to Humble The Poet (aka Kanwer Singh), a spoken-word artist, poet, former elementary school teacher, and author of Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life.
He tells us about the unique perspective he, as a Canadian artist, has of the world from embracing his Sikh heritage, how the world has reacted to him as a result of his convictions — for better and worse — and why he felt compelled to write a book designed to help us all legitimately lead better lives rather than pump us up with feel-good, self-help nonsense. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!
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More About This Show
Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life author Humble The Poet came into this interview wearing a shirt that simply says: “Don’t Die Dumb.” It’s not meant as a knock against dumb people as much as it’s a reminder to anyone who feels like they don’t know everything (let’s be clear: that should be all of us) to keep learning throughout life.
“The only parts of my heritage that I really feel are the most important to continue moving forward is lifelong learning and service…live your life accordingly; just be self-aware, learn as much as you can, and focus on being of service to others — whether that’s through the form of running a business or whether that’s spending your Saturdays at the soup kitchen,” he says.
While he was born and brought up near Toronto, it’s his Punjabi Sikh heritage that makes Humble The Poet — or Kanwer, if you like — stand out in most crowds you’ll find in the Great White North. Donning a turban since he was eight years old, letting his hair and beard grow in the time since, and wearing the distinctive kara bracelet that marks him as a devotee of his faith, he’s had his fair share of run-ins with people disinclined to respect his distinction — people who might very well “die dumb” at their own choosing by fearing the unknown instead of trying to understand it.
Luckily, Kanwer has learned to take these brushes with unvarnished ignorance as an opportunity to grow stronger in his convictions and sense of self. These days, the struggles of the past seem to be paying off in unexpected ways.
“All the racism I dealt with as a kid kind of looked like a down payment for all the reverse racism I’ve benefited from as an adult,” he says. “When I became a teacher, they hired me because of the way I looked.”
In writing Unlearn, hopes to share what he’s learned about taking personal responsibility and growing even when the world seemed determined to break his spirit — all while reminding himself not to take himself too seriously.
“I’m trying to write stuff that I consider extremely important, but at the same time I’m also a character on a very popular YouTuber’s vlogs and her videos. For me, I’m doing it for fun, but now all of a sudden more people know me as ‘that silly, goofy guy with the beard’ than this author.
“And for a while, that took a big hit on my ego until I really woke up and said, ‘Hey, you have an opportunity to connect with people, you also never wanted people to take you too seriously to begin with.’ I don’t want people to read my book and think I’m Osho! I’m a regular guy who can put words together very well. Self-help gets really fluffy and hollow and you can hear something and feel good for five minutes or five days and then it wears off. I wrote this book because I was sick of that. I was sick of the Tumblr quotes. I was sick of the promises. I was sick of the ‘Just have faith! Things will work out!’
“The overall message [is] self-responsibility. Take ownership for this. You want to see light at the end of the tunnel? Start digging!”
Listen to this episode to learn more about the basis and trajectory of Humble The Poet’s unique Sikh style, how social media influencers unwind away from their customarily insane level of constant scrutiny, what Joffrey Baratheon taught Humble The Poet about the downside of fame, what his mother thought about being recognized in public after appearing in a video with him, why wanting less is better than getting more, the importance of learning from bad experiences and seeing them as gifts rather than just trying to live positively and comfortably, the power of shifting from a mindset of win or lose to one of win or learn, and much more.
THANKS, HUMBLE THE POET!
If you enjoyed this session with Humble The Poet, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life by Humble The Poet
- Humble The Poet’s Website
- Humble The Poet at Instagram
- Humble The Poet at Facebook
- Humble The Poet at YouTube
- Humble The Poet at Twitter
- I’m Punjabi. That Statement Means so Much to so Many Different People. by Humble The Poet, Tumblr
- 70 Years Later, Survivors Recall the Horrors of India-Pakistan Partition by Vidhi Doshi and Nisar Mehdi, The Washington Post
- 10 Ways Sikhism Differs From Islam: A Comparison of Sikh and Muslim Faiths by Sukhmandir Khalsa, Learn Religions
- Introduction to Sikhism, Sikhs.org
- The Beliefs and Practices of Rastafari by Catherine Beyer, Learn Religions
- Soho House, West Hollywood
- Panjabi MC’s Website
- Lilly Singh’s Website
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by Saul McLeod, Simply Psychology
- Jay Shetty’s Website
- The American Meme, Netflix
- YouTube Will Disable Comments on Most Videos of Kids Because of Pedophiles by Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica
- I Binged “Wild Wild Country” and Then Found My Own Osho Moment in Berkeley by Liz Melchor, Medium
- Lilly Singh Goes to Hollywood by Emily Landau, Toronto Life
- Kill Jay-Z by Jay-Z
- Jack Gleeson aka King Joffrey from Game of Thrones Answers Every Question Ever, University College Dublin
- My Mom Reacts To My Music, Tattoos, and Gives Me Relationship Advice by Humble The Poet, YouTube
- The Aubrey Marcus Podcast
- “Kick Off” (Freestyle) by Eminem