Mark Manson (@iammarkmanson) is a blogger, entrepreneur, and author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life and his latest, Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope.
What We Discuss with Mark Manson:
- How acknowledging the uncomfortable truth of human existence’s meaninglessness can ultimately serve as an argument against nihilism.
- What the paradox of purpose tells us about the stress that accompanies an overwhelming abundance of choice.
- How the feeling brain and the thinking brain might seem at odds, but they actually conspire to guide our values (for better or worse).
- Why your identity will stay your identity until a new experience acts against it, and how you can change your values to fit your current narrative instead of one that’s outdated.
- What the God value is and how it aligns your hierarchy of values by way of the feeling brain.
- And much more…
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Our feelings control us: the thinking brain and the feeling brain, seemingly forever at odds with one another. Rationality used to be the highest of human virtues; now it seems the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Many of us are convinced that our feelings are all that matter, and this thought trap lodges us firmly into a quagmire where we get stuck in one identity, unable to see past our own values and impulses.
The problem is that we puny humans actually need this conflict of values to derive meaning — and a lot of us have become too soft to cope with the dichotomy, which steers us directly toward a crisis of meaning. In this episode, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life and Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope author Mark Manson joins us to discuss the research behind this phenomenon and what we can do about it to correct course. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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Even after the unexpected success of his first book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson didn’t want to write the same book twice. Contrary to the f-bomb’s prominent placement in the title of each, Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope is a different tome altogether.
“F*ck is just such a bold, gaudy, ugly, in-your-face word,” says Mark. “But when you have The Subtle Art, it makes you chuckle; I went for the same thing with this. We all seem to feel like everything in the world is f*cked right now, so it’s a book about hope!”
Beginning with cheery stories about the Auschwitz concentration camp and postwar communist Poland, and concluding with the idea that human existence is meaningless, it’s reasonable for a prospective reader to wonder where hope enters the equation.
“Ultimately, this is a book that argues against nihilism,” says Mark. “I feel like there’s a lot of nihilism or nihilistic tendencies growing in our culture…and I think, as a result, we have a lot of crises of meaning, a lot of crises of hope that happen.
“My take with the book, I did two things: one, I started with the Auschwitz story. I did that intentionally because I want to set the stage for the rest of the book. People are coming to this book, they’re probably buying it because they’re really upset about something they saw on Twitter, and I immediately want to give perspective. ‘Hey, I know you’re really upset that what’s-his-face went to trial and didn’t get convicted or whatever, but here’s a guy who was in Auschwitz — and by the way, six million people were murdered.’ Set the stage: All right, everybody chill out.
“From there, the first thing I introduce is the uncomfortable truth, which is this fact of life that in the grand scheme of everything we know about the universe, everything we know about the world, we are so tiny and insignificant, each of our actions and behaviors are so tiny and insignificant…that it’s really difficult to ignore the fact that whatever we do with our lives is probably not going to have any consequence.”
But rather than taking up this uncomfortable truth as a banner to nihilism, Mark contends that we should use it as a reminder to develop a sense of value and importance to pursue.
Still, we should be cautious of moving the needle so far in the other direction that we experience a paradox of purpose — convincing ourselves that this sense of value and purpose is all that matters, becoming all the more encompassing as we achieve more.
“If you’re a subsistence farmer in India, that purpose that you have in your life of what a better future is, it’s really simple and obvious: ‘I just need to grow more food and things will get better.’ And that gets you up every day. There’s no ambiguity around that. But then once you have a society with tons of opportunities and you’ve got all this education, and there’s 18 different career paths you can choose from and you’re connected to 2,000 people on social media who you’re constantly interacting with, suddenly those visions of what a better future could be get very murky and confusing. And a lot of us give up, essentially.”
So do we stare into the eternal void of nothingness with a growing sense of dread, or do we succumb to mo problems foisted upon us by mo money (and mo purpose)? Perhaps somewhere right in the middle is the balance we should seek. But what do we do if we’re already a part of the complex modern world and the simple life of subsistence farming is no longer an option? Listen to this episode in its entirety to find out!
THANKS, MARK MANSON!
If you enjoyed this session with Mark Manson, 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:
- Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
- Mark Manson’s Website
- Mark Manson at Instagram
- Mark Manson at Facebook
- Mark Manson at Twitter
- “How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?” Steve Buscemi, 30 Rock
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Jordan B. Peterson, Real Time with Bill Maher
- Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
- History of Poland (1945–1989), Wikipedia
- Nihilism, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- The Uncomfortable Truth by Mark Manson
- Plato, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
- Titus Lucretius Carus, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- On the Nature of Things by Lucretius, The Internet Classics Archive
- The Easterlin Paradox by Prateek Agarwal, Intelligent Economist
- “Who the F*ck Am I?”: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Values by Mark Manson
- Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson
- What’s Wrong with The Secret by Brian Dunning, Skeptoid Podcast
- Golden Handcuffs, Investopedia
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Stephen King at Twitter
- J.K. Rowling at Twitter
- Blue Dots Color Our Thoughts by Chuck Dinerstein, American Council on Science and Health
- Duty Calls, xkcd
Transcript for Mark Manson | Channeling Hope, Choosing Problems, and Changing Values (Episode 198)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. Our feelings control us. The thinking brain and the feeling brain seemingly forever at odds with one another. Rationality used to be the highest of human virtues. Now it seems the pendulum has swung perhaps too far in the other direction. Many of us seem to be convinced that our feelings are all that matter. This thought trap lodges us firmly into a quagmire where we get stuck in one identity, unable to see past our own values and impulses. The problem is that we puny humans actually need that conflict of values to derive meaning. I know it might be too early for all this philosophical BS. I get it. So let me rephrase this. We're all starting to become way too freaking soft and we're running headlong into a crisis of meaning. Because of that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:48] In this episode, my friend and one of the best-selling authors of the decade -- in order of importance -- Mark Manson joins me to discuss the research behind this phenomenon and as always what we can do about it to correct course. Despite the subject matter or perhaps because of it, this is a fun conversation with a good friend of mine and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you want to know how I managed to create networks that contained superstars like Mark Manson, well, I'm showing you how to do that for free. No upsell, change in life stuff. This is what it is. Biggest thing that's ever changed my life. These networking skills, go grab the course jordanharbinger.com/courses where that's at. In the meantime, here's Mark Manson.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:26] One thing that's great is you're good at writing like people think like inner dialogue. Is that something -- you did that on purpose, obviously.
Mark Manson: [00:01:32] Yeah. I try to write the way I think and the way I talk. Which is kind of like just a dude in a bar? So I think people resonate with that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:41] It's very like a guy with a typewriter of you.
Mark Manson: [00:01:46] Well it's funny, I do feel like a lot of writers try to create their voice. They try to sound a certain way. And for me, I just tried to match the voice in my head.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:00] That's funny. I wondered about that because I do see other authors trying to do that and you can tell they're trying because it sounds like an MLM like a multilevel marketing sales pitch but in book form. Or it's like someone's trying to sound hip to 20-somethings to increase their down lines. So they're like, "You know, I'm going to show you my whack ass dance moves and you're just going to have to deal with it. Okay." That's not a real internal dialogue. It's like, "Hello, fellow kids."
Mark Manson: [00:02:28] Yeah. That's from the Simpsons, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:33] That is Steve Buscemi in some movie. "Hello, fellow kids." He's like, "Got a skateboard."
Mark Manson: [00:02:40] Well, who knows? Maybe that's my future. Bring me back in 10 years. "Hello, fellow kids."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:48] Like, "Hey look, we just want you to recreate that one big hit, man. Just keep doing that. Don't, don't mess with the recipe." Don't grow as a human or a writer at all. If you can it, please
Mark Manson: [00:03:00] Not profitable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:00] No. I can see the temptation in that though, right? Musicians have to do that.
Mark Manson: [00:03:04] Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, there was tons of temptation to do that with this as well. Like, you know, Subtle Art was so huge.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:11] Toot your own horn. No one's going to judge you.
Mark Manson: [00:03:14] Yeah. I mean, at the time of this recording, I think it's around seven and a half million copies.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:20] That's bonkers.
Mark Manson: [00:03:22] And it's been number one in 13 countries and it's like a once a decade type book. Obviously, everybody's like, "Dude, just do it again." I mean, the cover -- I had to fight them. I kept telling them, I'm like, "Look, I'm not just going to cram fuck into it just to have fuck into it. It needs to have its own theme, its own idea. It's on its own purpose. I'm not just going to try to keep beating the same horse. So I think we found a happy medium. I'm super happy with the book. I feel like it's an extension and a maturation of what Subtle Art was. I think it's deeper. It's more thoughtful. I think it's a better book. And then they got their fuck in the title, so --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:09] So they're like, "All right, well good. It'll be fine. Put a fuck on that title." And that's the reason it's sold so many copies before. That or because it was orange. We just need another type of orange, like a blue for example. Whenever, you know what I noticed when people go, "Oh, what's the title?" I say, "Oh, it's called Everything is Fucked." And they go, "Oh, okay." And I said, "It's a book about hope." Universally, they start laughing. So I don't know if he did that on purpose. I thought that --
Mark Manson: [00:04:31] Absolutely, absolutely. Because I think what a lot of people -- I've always told people that the most important word of the title, Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is actually subtle. What makes the title good is subtle art. You know, because fuck is just such a bold, ugly in your face word. But then when you have the subtle art, it makes you chuckle. You're like, "Oh yeah, there is a subtle art of not giving a fuck."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:59] Otherwise, it's just chucking the glass at the wall and smashing things.
Mark Manson: [00:05:01] Yeah. So there's a little bit of irony there. I went for the same thing with this. We all seem to feel like everything in the world is fucked right now. So it's a book about hope.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:15] So aside from like it raining money, not probably not literally, but who knows, seven and a half million copies. What opportunities have you gotten from that? Because if it's once in a decade, you've got to have some once in a decade opportunities other than just being like, "Cool, I can retire now."
Mark Manson: [00:05:30] Yeah, so I'm doing Will Smith's book.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:33] Yeah I know about that.
Mark Manson: [00:05:34] That's the huge one. I'm doing a cool project with Audible so I'm doing kind of like a -- I don't want to call it coaching, but it's like I basically talk to people about their relationship problems in the studio and then we record it and so we build a book. They'll probably come out end of this year. So there's been some pretty cool projects that have come down the pipeline. The funny thing is, and this is actually something that is just like confusing everybody in the industry is, is I have still gotten zero mainstream press.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:08] Really, I didn't even think about that.
Mark Manson: [00:06:10] Until Michelle Obama's book came out. I was the bestselling non-fiction book for the last three years, probably the last five years. And not a single publication has written anything about me. No TV show. No radio show.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:22] That's a nut punch in a weird way. There's some sort of jock analogy here, right? People are going, "You know what, we don't like this guy or this title or this book or this idea for some reason we're just going to be like no, You're not in the cool kids club."
Mark Manson: [00:06:39] But you know what's crazy. You take Jordan Peterson. I've sold like twice as many books as Jordan Peterson.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:46] Yeah. Speaking of unpopular ideas, right?
Mark Manson: [00:06:48] People hate him. He's been in every newspaper, every TV show. And I talked to my agent or I go to my publisher and everybody just kind of shrugs. They're like, "We have no idea. This is just kind of unprecedented." It's a really strange thing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:06] Yeah. I'm kind of annoyed for you because I know what it feels like to be overlooked for something. If someone would go, "I'm the number one something-something podcasts," and I'm like, "What are you talking about? You started this six months. I'm doing this for a dozen years. You're at 7,000 places below me, but cool that you got your friends with the editor of Vogue. Like F you."
Mark Manson: [00:07:25] It's like the guys who put a 20-page ebook on Amazon and put the price at zero dollars and then become number one in like religious humor coloring books or something. And they're like, "I'm a number one bestseller."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:41] "Oh does your agent have it framed in her office? Because mine does." "Oh wait a minute. It was on Amazon."
Mark Manson: [00:07:45] "Oh wait, you don't even have an agent?" "Oh, never mind."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:49] Now we sound like dicks. I might cut that out.
Mark Manson: [00:07:53] You and I put in, put in our years.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:55] That is for sure true. That is for sure. We've known each other for a long time. And this book, which is the point of this interview, which we'll get into in a second, it starts off curious. So it got an Auschwitz story in there, communist occupation of Poland, and it concludes with the idea that human existence is ultimately meaningless. So it's a fun read.
Mark Manson: [00:08:15] Buy it today.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:17] Available. It's the bestseller on Amazon. What is this idea of the uncomfortable truth? That's kind of the first major concept of the book. Why is that important?
Mark Manson: [00:08:26] So ultimately this is a book that argues against nihilism. I feel like there's a lot of nihilism or nihilistic tendencies growing in our culture.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:39] Can you tell us what that means? Because I'll be honest, I have to look at stuff like that.
Mark Manson: [00:08:42] Sure, so nihilism is basically, the belief that life is pointless. So you should just do whatever the fuck you want. And I think there are a lot of pressures in our culture that are kind of pushing us that way. And I think, as a result, we have a lot of crises of meaning and a lot of crises of hope that happened. So my take with the book, I did two things. One, I started with the Auschwitz story and I did that intentionally because I want to kind of set the stage for the rest of the book. Like people are coming to this book, they're probably buying it because they're really, really upset about something they saw on Twitter. And I want to immediately give perspective and be like, "Hey, I know you're really upset that he went to trial and didn't get convicted or whatever. But you know, here's a guy who was in Auschwitz and by the way, six million people were murdered." Set the stage like, all right, everybody chill out. And then from there, the first thing I introduced is the uncomfortable truth, which is this fact of life, which is that in the grand scheme of everything we know about the universe, everything we know about the world like we are so tiny and insignificant, each of our actions and behaviors are so tiny in an insignificant, in the grand scheme of things that it's really difficult to ignore the fact that whatever we do with our lives is probably not going to have much consequence or any consequence.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:12] Do you think about that a lot? Because it's like people go, "What would you do if you only had two or three months to live?" And I'm like," Oh my God, I have so many podcasts I got to record." And they're like, "No, no, no, you don't understand. You're going to die." And I'm like, "Yeah, but this is what I like doing." And they're like, "No one is going to remember this in a couple of decades or a hundred years." And even with a book as big as the one you just had, it's like, do you ever think like, "Okay, this is going to outlast me but how long, for how long?"
Mark Manson: [00:10:36] A hundred years probably nobody will remember.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:39] It's so disappointing. When you love to go down like Plato where you're like, "Nope, I'm forever now." I'm good.
Mark Manson: [00:10:47] Yeah, I would love that. But I mean the funny thing is even Plato, 10,000 years from now, probably nobody will know who Plato was.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:54] There might've even been a gap where people didn't care about that. If you think about it, and I'd love to know, was there like a 5,000 year period where people were just like, or the ancient philosophers or the old stuff like thousands of years or hundreds and hundreds of years where people are just like, "We don't care about that."
Mark Manson: [00:11:09] So there's actually -- to plug another book really quick, there's a great book by Steven Greenblatt called The Swerve and it's this insane story in the 1400s about how the Roman philosopher Lucretius was rediscovered. So basically, Lucretius was like staunchly atheist and said there's no --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:29] Persona non grata.
Mark Manson: [00:11:31] There's no afterlife. And he came up with the theory of evolution. He hypothesized the atoms, All these scientific theories that didn't come around for 2000 years. Like he was on top of that and the church destroyed all of his books and there were only like a few dozen left in the world. And there were some guys in the 1400s who just happened to walk into a monastery and find one of them and it completely changed the course of European history.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:00] Wow, and now they're like, "We told you to burn these. This is why."
Mark Manson: [00:12:04] The Pope is like, "Dammit."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:06] "I'm just going to keep one of these in my room," he said. Thanks a lot, buddy.
Mark Manson: [00:12:11] Back to the uncomfortable truth. The uncomfortable truth, I think we've all thought about it before. I don't think many of us dwell on it. But anybody who's been particularly depressed at any point in their life, the uncomfortable truth is always front and center. It's like, "Why bother? What does it matter? Nobody cares. We're all going to die anyway." Like, we've all been in that place before. And so the only way we get out of it is finding things to hope for. Finding these visions of a better future, a better life that we believe is valuable or important and that we also believe that we are capable of pursuing or achieving. And so the only way to escape the uncomfortable truth is to develop a sense of value and importance and then push yourself towards it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:03] And so we use that to achieve progress hopefully in society. And then we end up with the paradox of progress, which as you put it, which is something that I guess I have subconsciously been thinking about. Because I was like, "How are people so upset about all these things that are really trivial?" I'm sure every person who's getting older probably has that realization at some point. I mean I'm 39 and I'm always like, "Wait, you're upset about what now?" Like I get teenage angst where it's like, "She posted this picture of me and everyone saw it and I'm embarrassed." I get that your world is small, but you see adults doing this where in the idea is the wealthier and safer, we are, in fact, the more likely we are to be super depressed, commit suicide and like end things. And it's like -- by the way, there's going to be a very uplifting show, people, as you can tell so far.
Mark Manson: [00:13:46] But everything is fucked.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:46] Right, great about hope. Is it because the more we have, the more we have to lose or is there something else going on here?
Mark Manson: [00:13:55] I think that's part of it. The more we have, the more we have to lose. I think also the more we have, the more complicated those visions of hope become. So one of the examples I've given in the book is that there's a thing in academics called the Easterlin Paradox, which is basically they find that people in poor countries generally have better mental health, are happier or more content with their relationships in their lives.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:20] Yeah hear that and you're like, "How dare you?"
Mark Manson: [00:14:22] Yeah. And then in the richest countries, suicide rates go up and depression, anxiety, all these things. And it's basically if you're like a subsistence farmer in India, that vision of hope, that that purpose that you have in your life of like what a better future is it's really simple and obvious. It's to grow more food. "I just need to grow more food and things will get better." And that gets you up every day. There's no ambiguity there. But then once you have a society with like tons of opportunities and you've got all this education and there are 18 different career paths you can choose from and you're connected to like 2000 people on social media who you're constantly interacting with and talking to. Suddenly those visions of what a better future could get very murky and confusing. And a lot of us, we give up essentially. It's like, "Shit, everything I think is good. There's somebody online trashing it, so I don't know what to think anymore."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:25] Yeah. Plus, it's like, you become a lawyer and then your mom is happy. You become a writer and then hopefully you can make a living, but that's what you like. But everyone tells you it sucks and it's a bad idea. And then your friend wrote something and nobody liked it. And then your other friend wrote something and it sold well, but then he still wasn't happy. So where are you going to end up? Meanwhile, this other guy's like, "I just want to make sure my kids don't die."
Mark Manson: [00:15:46] Plant corn, feed my kids, and he's happy. He feels good about it. There's a lot of stress that comes with an abundance of choice and I think that stress wears down on us psychologically.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:04] I know that to be true for me. I mean, I remember very recent -- this is embarrassing to admit, but I don't care. That's the whole point of the show, I guess. I remember having like being really distraught that my Instagram wasn't growing fast enough. And then I realized after a lot way too much thinking that I didn't actually care about that at all.
Mark Manson: [00:16:23] Yeah. It's so easy to get sucked into that vortex. I'm one of those recently I sent out an email to my email list with the subject line, "What if Hitler did yoga?" And sure enough, like 20 angry people who were super offended, "Can't believe you made a joke about Hitler, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like you're an awful person." And I was like, "All right, it's time to set these people straight." And I'm like super into it, super angry. And I started writing all these replies. I was like, "What the fuck am I doing, man?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:58] You're like, first of all, somebody should be answering these emails for me.
Mark Manson: [00:17:00] Yeah. And I'm like, I have like half a million people on my email list and I'm like, I'm like going to give up my entire morning and be pissed off all day because like 12 people sent me an angry email.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:13] I'm so relieved that you also do this kind of shit.
Mark Manson: [00:17:17] You don't even notice, you don't even know. You just get sucked right into it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:21] Like I'll do that with Twitter and then I'm like, "This is why I only check Twitter every two weeks. Dammit." And the other nine people that engaged with me yesterday were awesome.
Mark Manson: [00:17:32] And then it spoils everything because then it gives you this false perception of like, "Well everybody on Twitter is an asshole, and so fuck Twitter." Well, that's not true. There's some weird threshold where if there are just enough bad apples, it just spoils the whole bunch for everybody. And I think that happens with email. It happens with social media. I think it happens with the news media. I'll probably read 10, 20 articles a day, but if I read one that's just like stupid as hell and, and like pisses me off, I'm like, "God, fucking media these days. I can't read anything anymore." It's hard to like S stop ourselves from doing that
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:13] in part because of the feeling versus the rational brain. There's other stuff going on here. But it's good, it's a kind of a shitty segue, but I'm going to go with it today.
Mark Manson: [00:18:20] We’ll go with it.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:18:25] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Mark Manson. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:29] This episode is sponsored in part by Calm. As you all probably know, stress is a worldwide epidemic. In fact, it is killing people. We're working longer hours, we're inundated with the constant news cycle, and we're more connected than ever before. Stress, of course, is a part of life, but it's literally killing people, which is a big problem here. It leads to heart disease. All kinds of crazy stuff is associated with stress, brain issues, quality of life issues, and there are network effects that affect those around you as well, which is an even bigger problem. And that's why we're partnered here with Calm, the number one app to help you reduce your anxiety and stress and help you sleep better. More than 40 million people around the world have downloaded this app, and if you go to calm.com/jordan, you'll get 25 percent off a Calm Premium subscription, which includes guided meditations on stuff like anxiety, stress, focus. There's a brand new one each day so you don't get sick of it. What I really love are these sleep stories, which are bedtime stories for adults designed to help you relax so you can go to lavender fields of Southern France with Stephen Fry or explore African jungles with Leona Lewis. So it's pretty cool to have something that is designed to put you in asleep instead of just a boring book. Jason.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:54] This episode is also sponsored by Just Crack An Egg.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:20:48] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Mark Manson. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and supporting the show. and to learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit Jordan harbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all the latest episodes in your podcast player when they're released so you don't miss a single thing. Now back to our show with Mark Manson.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:24] I actually talk about this a lot on the show, the feeling brain versus the rational brain. And it's extremely useful as a concept because a lot of us think, "Okay, you know I'm doing this because this is the best decision." It's like, "Really you buying a vintage Corvette is the best possible use of this investment." Like, "Oh, you're investing in jewelry or Rolex." Okay, watches do appreciate sometimes, but usually not probably. Let's talk about this because I think you said it really well. The thinking brain is not in charge. That rational brain is not really in charge. Our emotions are driving the car. It's just that the thinking brain is the supporting character that imagines that it's the hero.
Mark Manson: [00:22:07] Yeah. That's the Kahneman quote. So in chapter two, I create this kind of silly metaphor. I basically sat down, I'm like, I want to create a ridiculous metaphor and see if I can keep it going over like 40 pages. So I created this idea like imagine your consciousness is a car and you have a thinking brain and a feeling brain. And most of our assumption is that the thinking brain is driving. The thinking brain is like being very responsible. I'm like, "Oh, it's time to go buy milk." And the feeling brain is in the passenger seat screaming and yelling and being really obnoxious and pointing at things out the window. And it's like your thinking brain's job to be like, "Shut up feelings. We've got to go buy milk." And that's kind of just what we assume about life. You know, as if we see somebody who has a drinking problem, we're like, "Oh man, that guy's not discipline. He needs to dampen his impulses and put his feeling brain in place." And the truth is when you look at all the psychological literature, the feeling brain is actually driving the car and the thinking brain is drawing the map. And so ultimately the thinking brain has no control. Anybody who's ever tried to lose 10 pounds by reading a book, like his experiences, you cannot think your way to doing the correct action. Ultimately, the action needs to feel good in some way for you to continue doing it. And so in that sense, any issue of self-control, self-discipline, procrastination, underachievement, like these are all fundamentally emotional problems, but we attack them as if they're logical problems. We think if we just learn all the benefits of low carb diets, then we'll stop eating carbs. It's like, no, you need to find a way to emotionally enjoy whatever habit you're trying to take on for yourself.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:04] Right. And the idea that the thinking brain is drawing the map is your emotional brain will go, "Okay, we're going to eat a bunch of crap." And then thinking brain goes, "Okay, I got to make this make sense." Even though we just said we're going to lose all this weight. So what I'm going to say is I'm going to eat all this crap because then I won't want crap because I'll have been full of eating all the craps. I'll be over it and that will then help me lose weight. And then the emotional brain is like, "Yeah, whatever man sounds good," and just keeps eating. And thinking brain is like, "All right, hopefully, I can kind of keep it together."
Mark Manson: [00:24:37] Yeah. So I smoked for a number of years and I remember, there's a running joke with all smokers, is that every single smoker is trying to quit at all times. I'd be hanging out with like a group of smokers outside of club or something and somebody would be like, "Man, I'm trying to quit." And like everybody look up and be like, "Yeah, me too." It's just a constant thing. But you know, every smoker goes through this where, where they're like, "Okay, I'm quitting. But man, I had a stressful day at work, so a cigarette would help me." "Oh shit, I've got that meeting coming up. I really need a cigarette to calm down for it. So I'll quit after the meeting." And then there's always some rationalization and the next thing you know, like two months, have gone by and you're still smoking a pack a day.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:25] I don't even remember. I remember smoking in college and afterwards and then being like, "This is dumb," every single time. And I remember people in law school who were like really rational smart people are like, "Wow, people still smoke." And then 84 people are like, "Yeah, whatever." And we're just all looking at each other like, "We know this is stupid." It's like smoking, drinking too much. What is it -- tanning is one thing that I think a lot of women especially are like, "Oh, I'm just doing it twice for my trip." It's like in May? It's January. What are you talking about? And we do this with everything, with eating food. It's not just bad habits. It's our entire life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:59] And you wrote a piece in the book here. They went from recognizing and honoring their feelings to the other extreme, believing their feelings were the only thing that mattered. And this has been particularly true for white, middle-class yuppies who are raised under the classic assumption, grew up miserable, got in touch with their feeling brains at a much later age because these people never had any real problems in their lives other than feeling bad. They erroneously came to believe the feelings were all that mattered and the thinking brain's maps were merely inconvenient distractions from those feelings. Many of those people called the shutting off of the thinking brain in favor of their feeling brains, spiritual growth and convinced themselves that being self-absorbed twats. You can say twat and it's fine when you say it that way. The other one was --
Mark Manson: [00:26:44] It sounds like you’re from Boston.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:44] The other way is rude. It brought them closer to enlightenment when really they were just indulging the old feeling brain. It was the same old clown car with a new spiritual looking paint job. It's like you see me, Mark. You've seen this before though. I mean this is like all over the internet and especially in, I guess, our adjacent space. I don't consider you or me in that space at all, but that's kind of like what a lot of our old friends or like people we know are kind of,
Mark Manson: [00:27:12] Yeah, I rip self-help pretty hard in this, especially in this chapter because I think there is a little bit of a toxic cycle. So, first of all, the first part of that quote, one of the problems I talk about is that people tend to either completely suppress and shut down their thinking brain. So they're just feelings all the time. They don't think anything through or they try to shut down their feeling brain. They block and suppress their emotions in situations and try to be logical. But even though they can't, instead what happens is they just become unaware of actually where they're driving. And so the goal is to like a healthy, mature psychology is when you train the brains to talk to each other. The problem is that they speak a different language. The thinking brain thinks in thoughts and the feeling brain thinks in feelings. And so you have to learn how to listen to your feelings, respond with thoughts, and then listen to the feelings that respond to that and just kind of get this back and forth.
Mark Manson: [00:28:12] One of the things I talk about in the chapter is I feel like a lot of self-help has taken people who -- if you're like a white middle-class yuppie type who grew up in the Western world -- and I mean this is true in a lot of cultures. I know a lot of Asian cultures as well. Like you are basically taught to beat your feelings into submission. You had a duty to do X, Y and Z. You have to go finish school and you have to get good grades and you have to make a bunch of money. And it's like, who cares how you feel? You just shut it off. And what happens is, obviously, that makes people miserable and then once they're into adulthood and they realize how miserable they are, they get in touch with those feelings and it's extremely liberating to like realize like, "Oh my God, I've been angry all this time and I just like never admitted it to myself." Or, "Holy shit, I've been so sad and upset with my relationship with my mother and I never allowed myself to realize it." And it's, there's this huge liberation that comes with that, but people mistake the liberation of their feelings as their feelings being superior and more important to their thoughts. And so you get, there's this whole kind of sub-genre in the self-help world where it's just all feeling brain all the time. It's taking like disgruntled lawyers and doctors and pissed-off insurance adjusters and putting them in a seminar room and having them shout into pillows and scream and cry and hug each other and, and telling themselves that this is somehow profound. They're becoming spiritually grown and it's like, "No, you're just, you're just acting out. You're being a child."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:02] Yeah. And you rip open those wounds for the benefit of the company that's running the seminar, because they're like, "Hey, everybody feels like crap. Okay, good. We just had you like to talk about how you're angry at your parents and they both passed away and never reconciled that. Our advanced course, which conveniently starts in three days and is --"
Mark Manson: [00:30:18] $10,000.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:19] "-- 10 grand. We're going to go through the best self-help stuff in the world to repair all this stuff that you ripped open." And I'm like, "There's a woman who's been crying for three straight days in the corner of this room." Because I've done these seminars and they're not fun. You don't feel good afterwards. I did it and I was shocked and dismayed at how manipulative it all really was. It all really seems salesy. And I talked about this on the show before. And there are women and men in the room who are crying for like the entire time and you go, "This person needs therapy like right now. This wound that we ripped open on her is so serious and like the hug from the stranger, she met two days ago who's like lives three states away. This is not going to make her feel better. She is really, really in need of help."
Mark Manson: [00:31:01] She needs her thinking brain to engage those feelings. That's the problem is once you rip open those old wounds, those childhood traumas, you need to use your thinking brain to sort through the meaning and redefine the narrative of what actually happened to you. But if you're like shutting down your thinking brain and just feeling all the time, you never actually create new meaning for yourself. You never create new meaning for your life. You just exist and wallow in that pain for as long as you know, somebody keeps telling you to. So yeah, it's --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:36] Or quagmire that is.
Mark Manson: [00:31:38] Yeah. It's a bit of a mess. So I mean, I just take some shots at the self-help world.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:45] And we have that in common. One of my favorite parts of the book is, yeah, look somebody -- because one of the problems that I have with the whole thing is sometimes I look around and I go, "Oh crap, I'm the only person that's like, 'This is ridiculous.'" And this could be metaphorical or for real in that room. I'm like, "So this is BS sales crap, right?" And the other person's like furiously taking notes and I'm like, "Oh, okay. Well, I don't want to ruin their experience." And I'll look around and like in this room with 300 people, there'll be like one guy who's like a surgeon or a doctor who's more analytical and I'll go, "So, what do you think?" And they're like, "Um, some of it could be a little bullshitty." And I'm like, "Yeah, I think like most of it is," and they're like, "Yeah, I kind of want to leave." And I'm like, "Yeah, me too." "
Mark Manson: [00:32:30] "Let's leave together."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:31] Because they don't want to go like this is a bunch of crap. And then it's like this person is harming my experience. Because they want to remove people like that in general.
Mark Manson: [00:32:39] Sure. You know, what's funny and I've never understood this, but the touchy-feely woo-woo self-help types have always loved my work. And I have no idea why because I just shit all over it. But they think I'm one of them for some reason. And I used to get invited to these conferences sometimes and I actually did once. It was over in Europe. They flew me over to Europe. They didn't really tell me a whole lot. They just said, "Oh we just want to interview on stage."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:07] Fireside chat.
Mark Manson: [00:33:08] Yeah, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:09] Everyone's naked and high in LSD whatever but it's fun.
Mark Manson: [00:33:12] It's not too far. So I get there and you know, it's like the whole event, there's like cuddled breaks and people are doing these like weird tantric vision things and I'm just like, "Oh, okay, I'm out of place." And it would always be so awkward because then I'd get up on stage and they'd start asking me stuff. They're like, "Oh, so, you know, tell us about your spiritual growth." And I'm like, "What the fuck is that?" And then the audience would hate me. They'd be like, "Who is this guy? Why is he here?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:48] "And why is he still wearing pants?"
Mark Manson: [00:33:50] Yeah, exactly. He's like, "Why isn't he hugging anybody? This guy's an asshole."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:56] "The title should have given a little bit of this away. But you know, that's cool. If none of you read the book. You just saw it on the show. Your friend had it and also didn't read it. Saw it on the bestseller list. Yeah. That's cool. Thanks for the trip to Frankfurt though." That is weird. But you know what it is. It's people kind of to your earlier point, people are taking the meaning out of, they want to see this. So they read this book and they're like, "Hmm, this makes me feel this way that I don't really agree with. Oh well, meaning my thinking brain is going to write this off. This book is challenging me and that's what we need and this is all satire. He must mean the opposite of what's going on here. So let's invite him to the conference and then we'll find out what Mark Manson really thinks." And it's like, "Oh, what was on the labels? What's inside the jar? Oops."
Mark Manson: [00:34:41] Yeah. It's like they think I'm a self-help ninja. You know, it's like, I secretly believe all the woo-woo stuff that they believe, but I'm just putting on this hard act to reach the mass.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:57] Ultimately reach some audience.
Mark Manson: [00:34:58] No, this is a bunch of bullshit. Like, this is based on real research. This Is based on like real psychology
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:08] And experience because I don't know how many people know this. It's a little embarrassing for both of us probably at this point. But we were in that dating pickup artists back 10-plus years ago. On the same message boards knew all the same people talking about our field reports or whatever on like online email lists. We went through all that stuff where it was like, "Oh, let's dive in hard to all this and then some of us came out the other side going, "Wow, that was not it. That was not the solution." I even thought you moved to Brazil. I was like, 'That's a good move," because everybody down there like you can meet tons of women down there. And I know that there were guys that were like moving to Brazil to be like photographers and it was a little creepy and I was like, "Oh Mark must be doing that." And then you came back and you were like normal and had a wife and I was like, "Oh, just kidding. He grew up down there. That wasn't supposed to happen."
Mark Manson: [00:35:59] I don't even know what to say from that. There is a lot to unpack there. Let's just say I never knew you thought of me that way.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:10] No, I mean, not really though, but I thought like, "Oh, he probably moved to Brazil to like escape with all this BS that we're doing here."
Mark Manson: [00:36:16] I mean, I traveled all around the world and I was a single guy, so I was partying, meeting girls in different countries and that was fun. But yeah, I mean, that whole industry -- you know, I wrote my dating book in 2011, Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. And that was kind of like my farewell project to that whole industry. You know, it was like, "Hey, you guys are all a bunch of like fucked up manipulative assholes. Here's like an honest way to do the same thing you guys are trying to do. I'm out. Peace." And part of traveling was also to just get away from that. I knew a lot of people in the industry and I didn't want to be around them anymore. It was like a very toxic group.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:04] Online. It seemed kind of cool. And then you met all of them in person and you just went, "Whoa. No, thanks.
Mark Manson: [00:37:08] Yeah. I mean, that all many. Yeah. I mean, I think looking back, it's such a weird thing to look back on now because it was super creepy and weird. But I think the impetus for most of us getting into -- like it was just genuine self-help or self-improvement. Like that was the drive, you know. It's like I had to grow up. I had a girlfriend who I thought I was the boyfriend of the century and then, she just dumped me and left me. And so it just destroyed my understanding of what relationships were, what women were like, how I was supposed to be. And so I felt like I knew nothing and that was the only group of people that were like offering some sort of answers.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:58] Yeah, and that's what makes it attractive, which is a little dangerous if you find the wrong sort of seminar guru, whatever it is. I mean, how many nice guys did we meet in that industry that were then completely horrible because they were like, "Oh, my guru told me to have to be like totally horrible and mean and like never be vulnerable."
Mark Manson: [00:38:17] Oh yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:18] And then if she likes --
Mark Manson: [00:38:18] To all the women and come up with stories that didn't actually happen.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:21] All the time.
Mark Manson: [00:38:21] You know, like it was really -- and I remember the first time I read some of that stuff and the only time I ever went out to a bar and tried these tactics or whatever, I just felt like such a scumbag, like immediately. And then I noticed within an hour, I was like, "Wow, girls are much nicer to me when I don't do these." So maybe I should just not do it. But anyway, that's a tangent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:50] Well, a little bit, but not necessarily because it sort of goes into your Newton's Laws of Emotion here. I don't want to really want to go through all three.
Mark Manson: [00:38:58] Sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:58] I think that they're great in the book and I want to make sure that we move on to some other topics as well. But the third law is your identity will stay your identity until a new experience act against it. So our values aren't just sort of collections of feelings, our values are stories. And so these negative self-help experiences can actually, I don't know if they mutate our values, but they certainly tell us that we need to have different ones that don't make us happy.
Mark Manson: [00:39:23] Yeah. So anytime an experience happens to us -- like an experience is essentially either something pleasurable or painful. If it's painful, a negative emotion will emerge. And if it's pleasurable, a positive emotion will emerge. And our thinking brain has to construct a story or a narrative about ourselves that explains that emotion. And this is why childhood trauma fucks us up so much because when you're a child, your thinking brain is still very poorly developed and you don't understand why things happen to you. So if you are hurt in some intense way as a young child, the story you construct will be very basic of like "I'm a bad boy," or, "Nobody loves me". And once that story is constructed it -- like your identity is kind of like a ball of yarn that starts getting wrapped up when you're a child and like it keeps wrapping and wrapping and wrapping, and the earlier it happens in your life, like the further into the center it is like the more you have to unravel to get back to it and look at it.
Mark Manson: [00:40:32] So it's the only way these stories change is when we unravel all those narratives that we've constructed, look back at it, and be like, "Oh shit, that thing that happened to me when I was four. It's not because I'm unlovable and you know a bad person. It's these things just happen to kids." Your thinking brain has to look at it, reevaluate it, put a new story to it, and then you have to go live out that new story. You have to live as if that is your new story. And that's essentially how you "change yourself". I come from a Buddhist background, so I believe you know the idea of no-self. Our identity is just this arbitrary thing that we makeup and we believe in faith. And what that construct is just this layer upon layer of stories that our thinking brain is constructed throughout our lives. And so at any point, you can pull one of those strings, look at it, ask yourself like, "What if this was not true? What if something else true?" And then depending on how that feels, how your feeling brain feels about it, you can adapt that and then you just tuck it back into the ball of yarn. See I'm keeping these metaphors going for a really long time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:46] Yeah, I like it. I do wonder what would happen --? This won't happen because you just have such a good loyal following. But like what if everything is fucked? Like it just does not do well. And Molly, your agent and the publisher are like, "Did you email this to your list?" And the list is like, "Yeah, this isn't what we wanted at all. We're all broke now. We're all buying out Donald Trump biographies or something." Then what does that do to your identity? Because I still had that other thing, but then you have to at some point imagine what if that never happened. Then, "Crap, I'm like a failed writer. That sucks. I'm not a bestselling author."
Mark Manson: [00:42:25] It would change my conception of myself. It would change my identity. You know, it's like right now my books, everything I've written has been a huge hit. And at some point in my life I'm going to write something that's not a huge hit and if I'm not prepared for that -- see you can already tell that I've already analyzed this narrative in my own brain. Like if I just told myself, "I'm a hit author, everything I write like sales like fucking hotcakes." The second something doesn't, it would cause an identity crisis. I would feel like I didn't know who I was anymore, that, "Oh my God, you know, who am I? Am I good? Am I even a good author?" All this stuff, I'd have all these questions and what I'd have to do is kind of like look at my experiences, construct another narrative around it that my feeling brain accepted that felt good and true to me. And then it would alter my identity. But I've already kind of done that work. The narrative I've already constructed for myself is that one day -- you know, maybe it's not this book.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:28] Hopefully not.
Mark Manson: [00:43:28] Hopefully not. One day I'm going to write something. It's not going to sell well. And that's fine. It doesn't make me any worse of a writer or an author or a person. It's a very common occurrence in a lot of authors’ careers. So that narrative that my thinking brain is put together and feels good to my feeling brain, you know, it's kind of preempted that experience for me and it's like prepared myself. That's a good kind of real-time example of how this thinking brain and feeling brain thing works.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:44:01] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Mark Manson. We'll be right back after this.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:02] By way of practical application and you write this in the book. "The other way to change your values is to begin writing the narratives of your future self, to envision what life would be like if you had certain values or possessed a certain identity. By visualizing the future we want for ourselves, we allow our feeling brain to try on those values for size and see what they feel like before we make the final purchase. Eventually, once we've done this enough, the feeling brain becomes accustomed to the new values and starts to believe them." Can you walk us through what that might look like? We can throw that in the worksheet for this episode.
Mark Manson: [00:47:33] Well, so that's actually what I just told you about trying on that -- like, you know, what if my next book flops like that is an experience that I tried on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:44] Did you write it down?
Mark Manson: [00:47:46] No, I mean, you just imagine, for some people maybe it helps to write it down, but no, I just sat down and really imagine like, what would that mean to my life? Like how would my agent react? How would my publisher react? How would my wife react? How would my family react? How would I feel? What would it signify about my skills or talent? All these things. Like you ask yourself all these questions and you look for an answer. You basically look for a narrative or a story or a piece of meaning that feels good to you. It creates essentially a better value. So it's like if my only value is to just sell an ass load of books, eventually I'm going to get knocked on my ass. Because eventually, I'm going to put out something that doesn't sell. But if my core value is to simply write as honestly and compellingly as I possibly can, then even if I put out something that doesn't sell, I can still feel good about it. I can still feel like I'm a good writer. I can be proud, you know, look at my fans, my family, my friends, and still be proud of what I did.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:55] When you're trying on these new values, how do you not catastrophize? Like, "Oh well, what would happen if Fernando would leave me, my agent would stop returning my calls? My parents would say, "See, I knew you were a one-hit-wonder.' My friends would be like, 'Oh yeah, he wrote that one book that one time, and now he's trying hard. What a loser?'" Or how is this different from like the bullshit in the secret where it's like, "Oh well what's going to happen is I'm going to visualize a yacht and a Ferrari in my driveway and that's going to happen." I mean I feel like it's a little clear to me, but people are thinking that right now.
Mark Manson: [00:49:27] So the difference is with the bullshit manifesting you simply like -- it's funny cause the, the secret actually gets, I feel like it gets close to something powerful but just completely misses the mark. So the secret is like, yeah, just visualize like a yacht and a Ferrari and then one day the universe will conspire and give it to you. The problem with that is that the yacht and Ferrari are simply representations of your current values. So if you are just a materialistic shithead and you visualize materialistic things, you're not actually challenging your identity. You're not changing at all. You're simply like affirming what you already care about. The real power of visualization is if you really want a yacht and Ferrari, sit down and visualize what it would be like to not want a yacht and Ferrari. What would that mean for your life? What would that mean for your friendships, your relationships, your career? Like would you still like your job if you didn't want a yacht or Ferrari? And that's a very scary question.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:29] It is scary yeah.
Mark Manson: [00:50:29] And it's much more difficult to answer, but that's where the real like identity work comes in. You look at the value, not just the stuff.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:42] That's a good point because guys in finance are sitting there going, "Oh yeah, I've got a house in the Hampton. My kids go to private school." And it's like, "Okay." But if they start to challenge themselves, it's, nobody wants to do that when they're in that job and they have what we call the golden handcuffs. If the switching costs are too high, sure. You basically have to tell your kids they can't hang out with their friends at school anymore. Sell the house that your wife really loves to go to. And then you have to tell your boss, you don't want to do this anymore. Take a massive lifestyle downgrade and go write books or do a shitty podcast that only a few people care about or whatever.
Mark Manson: [00:51:18] The ball of yarn got too rolled up. That decision, that decision that you made early in life, like, "Oh, I'm going to go into finance so I can get the nice car and a hot wife." Like it's so deep in that ball of yarn that it's too daunting to dig in and reevaluate it. It would mean unraveling too much stuff. Yeah, It's hard. And then typically what happens to people in that situation is that life unravels it for them. Like something catastrophic happens. You know, they lose all their money in a market crash. They, you know, wife leaves them for the mailman and suddenly their ball of yarn is unrolled for them and they're left with this tiny meager identity of like, "Oh shit, everything I thought I was, is gone. What do I have left?" And then they have to evaluate everything and then start wrapping a new ball.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:16] Right. Which actually can be -- that's the blessing in disguise. People are talking about when someone's like, "Well, getting laid off or getting fired or getting this happened was the best thing that ever happened." And in the moment when people told me that about like my other show and stuff, I was like, "Yeah, but you're kind of being an a-hole for even saying that." And then, but then you talk to enough credible people and they're like, "No, really? Here's what happened to me and here's how it was about." And you go, "Okay, well I'm not there yet." And then fast forward a year, year and a half. You go, "Oh, you're right." Because since that was unraveled for me since the other show, which was like primarily a dating brand got unraveled for me. I don't have to lug around baggage that goes like, "Yeah, the show is a douchey name, but trust me, it's not like -- " Like the new show is able to grow faster. I'm able to focus on what I want. I don't have to make decisions based on other people's irrational feelings and they're like damaged identities.
Mark Manson: [00:53:08] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:08] All that has been unraveled for me because frankly, usually, we don't have the balls to unravel that stuff ourselves because it's a fucking mess.
Mark Manson: [00:53:15] It is a fucking mess. I think some things can't be unraveled ourselves. It has to happen to us. That's why like in Subtle Art, there are four personal stories that I put in the Subtle Art. And I think if you ranked the four most painful experiences of my life, it would be the four stories in Subtle Art. And I did that for a reason. I mean, the whole point of Subtle Art really was to make an argument for the importance of pain and suffering. And what we're describing right now is exactly why I wanted to make that argument. But yeah, it's just girlfriend leaving me, parents divorcing, a friend dying, those are the most powerful moments in our lives because we get to rewrap our yarn. And if we just rewrap it the same way it was wrapped before, it's going to be extremely frustrating and disappointing. We're going to feel like it's unfair that we have to redo everything all over again. What it really is, is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:14] Right. Like shift, what you call the God value, that tippy-top value where if it's money, we work in a Wall Street finance job like I was doing. You buy a house, you buy a boat, you buy a bunch of stuff, and then you send your kid to a fancy private school and you're like, "Good." But then at some point, it becomes the lens through which you view the world, but you can run into this evidence that will do nothing because that belongs to the thinking brain as you've said. So what do we do and how do we handle that? I think that can be a big problem for a lot of people.
Mark Manson: [00:54:48] So when we're adopting values for ourselves, we kind of put them in an order. You know, my kids are more important to me than my friends and my friends are more important to me than random strangers on the street. And my job is more important to me than my brother's job or whatever. Like we all have this kind of hierarchy of values that determines our prioritization, helps us make decisions on where our time is best spent. In our value of hierarchy, something is at the top. And I use the name God value, but it's not necessarily religious. For a lot of people, it's a religious value. But it's, it's whatever our top value in our life is, it basically dictates the decision making of everything underneath it. Like I say in the book, it becomes a lens by which everything else is perceived. Let's say I am a super religious person and my God value is like Jesus Christ, everything that occurs in my life I will look at in terms of, and I will judge it and I will measure it in terms of my faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible and all that stuff. If my God value is money, then every experience I have in my life will be measured against the metric of money, and what gets me the most money. And so this is the funny thing is that you can even, you can have people who are like say Christian, but if their God value is money, they will perceive and approach church and their religious experiences in terms of what is most profitable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:27] Yeah, you end up with prosperity gospel and stuff like that.
Mark Manson: [00:56:31] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:31] I'm trying so hard not to mention names, but yeah, right. Like so tempting also they have really good lawyers. So, I'm not going to do that.
Mark Manson: [00:56:40] So it's fascinating. I mean ultimately what defines us is our behavior and our behavior is defined by what our top values are. And so you can get people who say like, "Oh, I care most about charity and giving back and helping others." And it's like, if their behavior is saying otherwise, they might have those values somewhere on the hierarchy, but something else is on top.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:13] Right, yeah, they just know that they have to say that because that's what the group kind of wants to see.
Mark Manson: [00:57:17] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:18] They don't want to hear about like your three private jets or whatever that they paid for when they're putting money into the hat as it goes by. And this is the part where when I read it, I was like, "Oh, maybe we should roll up a J and talk about this." Because you wrote the conflict between values is actually kind of required for us puny humans to actually achieve.
Mark Manson: [00:57:36] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:37] What is that? That's kind of like, "Wait, what?" I want all this chaos. I want all this conflict. This is depressing
Mark Manson: [00:57:44] The conclusion I kind of argue and it's not my idea, it comes from Nietzsche and some other philosophers, but basically we need some degree of conflict because conflict is affirming for our values. I'm trying to think of an example, it's not going to offend tons of people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:06] Good luck, always.
Mark Manson: [00:58:06] Yeah, five minutes later.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:10] Yeah. Yeah. We'll just cut and then fast forward like a little time-lapse.
Mark Manson: [00:58:13] But like let's say, I'll use a silly example. Like let's say, I strongly believe that Stephen King is the best author of all time and you strongly believe that J.K. Rowling is the best author of all time. Arguing with you about that, it affirms my belief and my values. It makes me feel as though I'm living out my values. The way we find meaning in life, and again, this kind of comes back to the hope thing is like the way we find meaning in life is when we feel as though we're living out our values. It's like, "Okay, my kids are my highest value. If I'm taking good care of my kids then I'm living a meaningful life. I'm doing something important and that protects me from the uncomfortable truth." If I think Stephen King is like the fucking man and anybody who disagrees is an asshole and an idiot and I'm going to go tell them that, then telling those people is reaffirming my value. It feels meaningful to me. It feels important and it protects me from the uncomfortable truth. So some conflict is a little bit necessary. Like at the same way, we need stress on our body to get stronger physically and grow muscle. I think psychologically we need a certain amount of stress to test our values and embody them and rip meaning from them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:37] Right. I like in group and out group for example and us versus them, which actually is something that we see a lot right now in society because if we don't have that tension we have to look for it which leads us to this blue dot effect. I hadn't heard of that before but this is great. Tell us about this.
Mark Manson: [00:59:53] So there was an amazing academic study that happened last year.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:57] Oh, it's that recent.
Mark Manson: [00:59:58] Yeah, it just happened last year, and it was huge in the psychology academic world because the guys who did it are kind of an all-star team of researchers right now. So basically what they did, it sounds super boring at first, but it's pretty mind-blowing like once you, once you understand it. So what they did is they took tons of people, put them in front of a computer console and they showed them thousands of dots on the screen and they gave them two buttons. They said, "If the dots are blue, hit this button. If the dots are not blue, hit that button." And the dots were either blue, purple or like some shade in between. And at first, they showed tons and tons and tons of blue dots. And so people were mostly hitting the blue dot button. And then as time went on, they slowly showed fewer blue dots and started showing more purple dots or dots that were kind of ambiguous and in between. And what was fascinating is that even though they showed fewer and fewer blue dots, as time went on, people still hit the blue button the same amount. So like their actual perception of what color a dot was shifted based on their expectation of how many dots there were. So that sounds really annoying and --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:14] So freaking what?
Mark Manson: [01:01:15] Yeah, exactly. So what? They've collected data from like thousands of people on this showed a very strong effect. And then what they did is they replaced the dots with human faces. So they did the same thing. They said if the face looks threatening, hit this button. If the face looks safe or innocuous hit this button. And initially, they showed mostly threatening faces and so people hit the buttons and then as time went on, they started showing fewer and fewer threatening faces. And the same thing happened, when you started removing threatening faces, people started to mistake safe and innocuous faces as being threatening. And then they went even a step further. They started doing it with research proposals. They showed unethical research proposals and ethical research proposals and the same thing, the more you removed unethical research proposals, the more people mistook ethical proposals for being unethical. So it's basically this idea that we have this set expectation of a certain amount of threats or pain or adversity that we psychologically expect to see. And so the safer society gets, or the more just and righteous things get -- it's not like we feel better about it. It's like if people stop killing everybody, we don't actually feel better about it instead we decide that slapping somebody is just as awful as killing.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:48] Right. And that's how we ended up. That's how we ended up here with like, well shoot, everything safer. So now words are violence.
Mark Manson: [01:02:54] Words are violence. Looks are violence.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:55] Microaggressions.
Mark Manson: [01:02:58] Microaggressions, questions are violence. Reading a book about racism is traumatizing. I mean it explains so many things like the concept creep that's been happening in our culture. I think it also explains our politics for one, but it also explains like why we're struggling so much to again create that kind of coherent vision of hope for ourselves because if we've got awesome La-Z-Boy recliners, eight million video games and Netflix and all this like comfortable, everything can be delivered at the drop of a hat, we need to find our brain like naturally looks for some sort of something that's upsetting or adversarial in our environment even though it might not be there.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:47] What can we do about it? I mean is there anything that we can do about this? We can't fix society ourselves, but is there anything we can do ourselves? Like maybe we're aware of this so that when we get offended about something we're like, "Oh, I'm just getting offended because there's nothing else to do. And my brain is looking for this." Like, what's the practical here? Is there one?
Mark Manson: [01:04:03] I think it comes back to what I talked about in Subtle Art, which is we need to start choosing, choosing our problems. Because if we don't choose our problems, our brain is going to find problems for us, and it will find it and really stupid obnoxious way.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:20] Like worrying about how my freaking Instagram is not growing fast enough. Meanwhile, I'm eating delicious sushi delivered to my house.
Mark Manson: [01:04:27] Yeah, that's it. Perfect example.
Mark Manson: [01:04:29] While watching Netflix. Perfect example. So it's like if we don't consciously choose our problems that give our lives meaning, then our brain is going to look for it and find it in really silly, stupid places. And I think that essentially describes Twitter in a nutshell.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:45] Yeah. Yeah. We just talked about this, I don't know if it was pre-show or what, but yeah, 99 interactions on Twitter. One guy is a dick and I'm like, "This whole thing is a waste of time. I can't believe it." I'm going to go off on this guy. I spend three seconds interacting with the other 99 people who have like, "Your show changed my life." And I'm like, "Hold on, I'm talking to this guy who doesn't even follow me, who's correcting my grammar. So thanks, anyway."
Mark Manson: [01:05:09] It's like that old -- I don't know if it was oatmeal or the XKCD or whatever that comic strip was. And it's the guy who's like typing and typing and his wife's like, "Come to bed," and he's like, "Not now honey. Someone on the internet is wrong."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:24] Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that in a nutshell, it's funny now, but when you extrapolate that to the rest of the society -- I like the takeaway of choosing our problems. I think there's a lot of power in that. Like you're not going to get rid of the problems, choose the ones that are worth handling. And it's worth taking the time to figure out what that might even be in the first place.
Mark Manson: [01:05:48] Absolutely. And I think that's actually in one of the chapters, I argue that we need to redefine our idea of like freedom and liberty in terms of not freedom for more nice stuff but freedom to choose what matters to us. The only freedom is found in self-limitation and choosing like this is the problem I want in my life. This is what I'm deciding to sacrifice myself for. Fuck all the rest. I don't need like 15 different types of food delivered to my door. I don't need to watch every Netflix series. This is the thing I care about and that is true freedom.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:26] And that's why Everything is Fucked is actually a book about hope.
Mark Manson: [01:06:30] A book about hope.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:31] It really is. It's not a joke. It's a book about hope. Mark, thank you so much, man.
Mark Manson: [01:06:34] Thanks for having me, dude. Always a pleasure.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:36] Always.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:36] Great big thank you to Mark Manson. His book, one of the bestselling books of the decade. It sold over seven and a half million copies as of recording. And who knows? It just could keep ongoing. I don't think it's even slowing down. One of the best-selling books of the entire decade. Incredible. The original book is called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. The new book is called Everything is Fucked. He likes his F-bombs and the titles. I can't argue with his success. So there we go, and honestly, they're great reads. I love both of them and Everything is Fucked is a great read as well.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:09] If you want to know how I manage to book all these great people and manage my relationships using systems and tiny habits, check out our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free, and that's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't say you'll do it later. Don't say you're too busy. It's six minutes a day, not even. And the biggest problem people have is they go, "Oh man, I didn't dig the well before I got thirsty. I don't have those relationships and now I need to leverage them." You're too late when you do that. So get on it at jordanharbinger.com/course. Speaking of building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Mark Manson. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. There's a video of this interview on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:48] This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode is co-produced by Jason "Always Looking on the Bright Side" DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes and worksheets are by Robert Fogarty. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love. Share the show with those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on this show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:20] Today, our podcast is sponsored by another podcast and that podcast is called Movie Crush. Every Friday, Chuck Bryant of Stuff You Should Know -- that's another podcast of course or the huge one -- sits down for a deep dive conversation with people across the entertainment industry about their life as it relates to film, their career, and most importantly, their favorite all-time movie. So he'll pick someone like Dax Shepard and talk about their favorite all-time movie and how it's influenced their lives. He's got like Dax Shepard, John Hodgman, Roman Mars, even takes like my favorite murder podcast crew and they talk about The Silence of the Lambs. So the show is not just about movies, it's about life and how movies influence us from childhood on and what it is about. A favorite movie that kind of makes you go back again and again. You can find that show Movie Crush at Apple Podcasts on the iHeart app or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
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