What We Discuss with Mark Manson:
- Mark and Jordan discuss how they evolved beyond their roots in the seedy pickup artist (PUA) scene to help people from all walks of life transcend insecurities and discover their true potential — or at least derive entertainment from some books and podcasts.
- Mark experiences the ups and downs of becoming a viral sensation: from seeing his book publicly enjoyed by Congressional representatives and Hollywood movie stars to discovering that Putin’s using it as an excuse to tighten Russia’s censorship laws.
- The dangers of delusional positivity — just because believing something makes you feel good doesn’t make it real, which means you’re going to be especially disappointed when it’s time to acknowledge what is real.
- Our brains want there to be an easy, fix-all formula for happiness that we can get from attending a self-help seminar or reading a stack of personal growth books, but the principles we learn from them are useless until we go through the effort to apply them to our lives in the outside world.
- There’s no such thing as bad emotions — there are only bad reactions to emotions.
- And much more…
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Mark Manson is the New York Times bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck — you may have seen US Representative Katie Porter reading it on C-SPAN during one of the 15 times it took to elect a speaker of the House a few weeks back — and the subject of a new feature film that goes by the same name.
If the road to self-help is paved with good intentions, we’re going to take a jackhammer to it on this episode and reroute traffic in a more helpful direction while making some badly needed repairs. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- Peloton: Learn more at onepeloton.com/row
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Miss the last time we had Navy SEAL leadership authority and Extreme Ownership co-author Jocko Willink on the show? Make sure to check out episode 93: Jocko Willink | Leading on the Line Between Extreme and Reckless!
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:
- Find Mark Online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck | Universal
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson | Amazon
- Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson | Amazon
- Will by Will Smith and Mark Manson | Amazon
- How to Counter Andrew Tate’s Growing Subculture of Violent Toxic Masculinity | MSNBC
- Alex Jones Tried to Persuade Joe Rogan to Let Andrew Tate on ‘The Joe Rogan Experience,’ Civil Rights Organization Says | Insider
- Dr. Sohom Das | Decoding Alex Jones, Andrew Tate, and Anna Delvey | Jordan Harbinger
- Tom Leykis | Wikipedia
- Elliot Rodger: How Misogynist Killer Became ‘Incel Hero’ | BBC News
- Delve into the Horny Heart of Darkness That Is Pickup Artistry | AV Club
- The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion by Lamb Of God | Amazon Music
- New Post: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck | Mark Manson, Twitter
- Katie Porter Reading a Book During the GOP’s House Speaker Fight is All of Us | Literary Hub
- “Hilarious, Confronting, and Damn Refreshing.” | Chris Hemsworth, Facebook
- Garry Kasparov | Deep Thinking for Disordered Times | Jordan Harbinger
- Putin’s Censorship | Mark Manson, Instagram
- Jordan Harbinger | A Darknet Diaries Origin Story | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Grow Up: A Guide to Being Human | Mark Manson
- No, It’s Not All Your Parents’ Fault | Mark Manson
- Hustle Culture | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- Why Hustle Culture Makes You Miserable (And How to Break Out of It) | Jordan Harbinger
- Why Your Favorite Self-Help Book Sucks | Mark Manson
- Why Does Self-Help Make You Feel Terrible? | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Self-Help Without Feeling Terrible | Jordan Harbinger
- Susan David | How to Improve Your Emotional Agility | Jordan Harbinger
- Todd Kashdan | The Bright Truth about Your Dark Side | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Be Content in Life: Three Paradoxes | Mark Manson
- The Dark Side of the Digital Nomad | Mark Manson
- Anja Shortland | How Kidnap Insurance Works | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Build Self-Esteem (And Does It Even Matter?) | Mark Manson
- The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden | Amazon
- The Myth of Self-Esteem | Tampa Bay Times
- Trigger Warning: Reality Hurts | Mark Manson
- The Real Reason Why You Procrastinate So Much | Mark Manson
- Hiroo Onoda Fought WWII For 30 Additional Years | Weird History
- How to Deal With Uncertainty | Mark Manson
791: Mark Manson | Giving a F*ck About What Really Matters
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:04] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:07] Mark Manson: Learning often feels like progress, but it isn't always progress. And learning is often the most seductive form of procrastination. We tell ourselves, "I just need to learn a little bit more. Let me just study a little bit longer. Let me do a little bit more research and then I'll go address this issue that's been in my life for 10 years." You know, it feels productive, but you're not actually changing anything.
[00:00:33] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional investigative journalist, arms dealer, tech mogul, or astronaut. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice. That you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:59] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, our episode starter packs are the best way to do that. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show — topics like persuasion, influence, abnormal psychology, scams and conspiracy debunks, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:24] Little bit of housekeeping. The AI app has been super helpful to many of you. It indexes everything we've done on Feedback Friday. You can ask any type of question. Like, how do I get a raise at work? What episode was it that had the author that sold 15 million books? What's the promo code for Better Help? Any question like that, and it will answer. It is really, really fun and cool to use kind of the AI future in practice. Check it out. jordanharbinger.com/ai is where it's at. Let me know what you think and if you break it, let me know that too.
[00:01:52] Today on the show, a longtime friend and now super ultra-successful author Mark Manson. We both came out of the same cesspool of pickup artists, sort of self-help men's advice back in the day, and pivoted back into real personal growth stuff as you may or may not have noticed. If you don't know about Mark, he is, again, ultra-successful. He wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. It's one of the most successful books of the last decade or so. And this is his first crack at writing books. I mean, he is been writing for a long time, but of course, geez, talk about knocking it out of the park. He's also a good friend of mine. We've known each other for a really, really long time and I just think that a lot of what he writes is really darn good. Even though, the F-bomb thing isn't really for me. And there's a funny anecdote in the show about that actually. There's a lot of F-bombs and profanity in this episode, so just be aware that no kids in the car for this one. I mean, his book title is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and we just couldn't work around that too much. We're going to discuss the pickup artist scene that we both kind of came from, delusional positivity, and how our emotions often lie to us, usually to our own detriment. The current men's movement and how it's become, well, even more toxic than anything we were a part of, the self-esteem movement, entitlement, and more. It's just a really great conversation with a guy who's thought a lot about these subjects over the years, who I've known forever, and I'm just really happy to bring this to you. Here we go with Mark Manson.
[00:03:14] Look, let's maybe chat about how we're both basically reformed little punks who almost screwed up our lives, but instead are in the incredibly fortunate position to be doing this podcast and writing best selling books for a living. Or at least, one of us is doing that.
[00:03:25] Mark Manson: Let's make this the "how did we almost f*ck up our lives episode," how about that?
[00:03:30] Jordan Harbinger: It's true though because, man, we got in a lot of trouble when we were younger. And you know, we both fell into that. We don't have to go down this road too far, but into that like pickup artist subculture thing for a while, and I know you got out of it quite a bit of time, a few years before you wrote Subtle Art. I had spent years trying to be like the good white hat version of the dating and pickup thing, and at some point, you're just like, the meth dealer that doesn't stab people and you're like, "No, no, no, I'm a good guy." And you realize you're heading headlong into trouble because — and I think now everybody sees these red pill guys who are like, "Women are evil and they only care about your money." And all of these people are in one bucket. The stuff you and I were working on, the men's self-help which later became just self-help and personal growth stuff. I hate the word self-help. It became kind of impossible to separate from all of the yucky stuff that was going on, both from the red pill men's right side in the like bullsh*t side where people were just making up things like manifest your dreams by thinking about it hard enough. I don't know, what do you think about that? That was a terrible question. I'm going to let you run with that. It wasn't even a question.
[00:04:40] Mark Manson: Oh, the beauty about terrible questions, Jordan, is that I get to just say whatever I want and—
[00:04:45] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:04:46] Mark Manson: —it's never my fault. So, no, I will say it's been interesting, you know, seeing all the Andrew Tate stuff of the last year or so.
[00:04:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:54] Mark Manson: Because, yeah, you and I came from that world and there was a lot of pissed-off, confused young men, and I feel like the majority of those men, including ourselves, kind of grew out of that and kind of figured their sh*t out and—
[00:05:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:05:09] Mark Manson: —realized like, oh, this is how you become a healthy, mature human being. The minority who never really figured it out, kind of just went away. But now, we're 10 years later and it's like resurfaced again. And I don't know if it's like a new generation of young guys and maybe this is like a cyclical thing that keeps happening and we were just one of those cycles, but—
[00:05:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:05:30] Mark Manson: —it's been a little bit frustrating, you know, a lot of my readers, like young male readers, have been sending me some of Andrew Tate stuff and asking me what I think about it or to comment on it. And it's just deja vu. It's like, man, I thought we went through this in 2009. Like, I thought—
[00:05:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:05:47] Mark Manson: —this was settled. I thought we figured this out. That this is f*cking hateful, spiteful, sexist sh*t is like not very helpful to young guys. So it's been a little bit saddening to see it resurface in this way.
[00:06:02] Jordan Harbinger: It's interesting you mentioned cycles because I've been thinking about this too. Because of course, people are like, what are you going to interview Andrew Tate? And first it was like never. And now, I'm like, I will do it if I can get him to cut the crap. Is that possible? I don't know. We have a bunch of mutual friends that I'm like, guys, can I get him to cut the crap? And they're like, well, he is in prison right now. So put a pin in that.
[00:06:21] Mark Manson: Right. Yeah. Let's the Romanian police and the Interpol, like have their way with him first.
[00:06:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Look at this. At the same time, there's so many people that are like, he's so different in person, which makes me interested in talking with somebody like that because that would be like finding out that Alex Jones was just a normal dude behind closed doors. He's not, by the way, you know, the conspiracy guy.
[00:06:44] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:06:45] Jordan Harbinger: It makes it even more of a crazy phenomenon because you're like, okay, so what part of this do you believe and what part of this is shtick to get clicks? Do you remember Tom Leykis? Remember that guy, the radio host?
[00:06:55] Mark Manson: I don't, no.
[00:06:56] Jordan Harbinger: So he was around our time even before, and he had this show where he'd be like, "What are you wearing?" When women would call in and he was just like a horrible misogynist. He took all of the stuff that Howard Stern did in terms of like dating and bad advice and turned it up to 11 and guys would call in and be like, "I want to get my ex-girlfriend to realize she's made a mistake." And he'd be like, "Go bang all of her friends, all of them. Get them really drunk." He would just give terrible, terrible, horrible advice. And some people really believed it, but most people were kind of like, "Ah, it's entertaining stupid stuff for stupid guys." We're kind of back there again with a lot of these red pill dudes who are like women, this and that. And it's like, "God, you must have back problems from the size of the chip that is on your shoulder 24/7." And these guys are writing books. It's just, yeah, you're right. It's disheartening. It's like, didn't we cover this? Didn't you cover this? Didn't I cover this in my old company where we said, this is bad for you?
[00:07:52] Some of the other dating instructors for like other companies, I don't want to mention names that came up around the same time as you and I, they left and they were like, "Oh man, that stuff was toxic. Whoa. I am glad that I outgrew that. That was ruining my life." And they just kind of went and got a job. And now you end up with like the selection bias of guys that are still doing this at age 40 and are really, really negative because, in part, they're still doing this at age 40.
[00:08:18] Mark Manson: Anybody who has a semblance of emotional health gets out because—
[00:08:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:08:23] Mark Manson: —they realize how toxic it is. And so, yeah, you get this, like you said, a self-selection effect, that the only guys who are still there after two decades are the angry ones. I want to go back to the thing you said about Tate though. Like I have found this interesting thing and I've seen this come up with a lot of people at this point where it's like, "Oh, he just says that stuff to get attention. He's not really like that."
[00:08:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:44] Mark Manson: You get these controversial public figures and there are competing theories that people have about him, which is either A, it's all an act just to get attention and get clicks and ha-ha, you're not in on it.
[00:08:57] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:08:57] Mark Manson: Or B, they're actually a terrible person. And I don't see how that's a defense of somebody like—
[00:09:04] Jordan Harbinger: I agree.
[00:09:04] Mark Manson: I don't know what's worse.
[00:09:05] Jordan Harbinger: Like, does it matter?
[00:09:06] Mark Manson: Like if you did go hang out with Alex Jones and he was like, "Oh yeah, I just make all this sh*t up. You know? It just, it gets the listeners fired up."
[00:09:13] Jordan Harbinger: It's worse.
[00:09:14] Mark Manson: It's worse.
[00:09:15] Jordan Harbinger: That's worse.
[00:09:15] Mark Manson: That's actually more, that's more evil than just being a f*cking crazy person. So it's—
[00:09:20] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:09:21] Mark Manson: I don't see how that's a defense of somebody. I think you're saying like, "Oh no, this person who doesn't realize they're evil actually realizes it. They're just doing it. because it's funny."
[00:09:31] Jordan Harbinger: It's so much worse actually, now that you phrase it that way, right? If you met somebody and they were delusional and that's why they thought that the Jews were of reptile people because literally, they've had a brain disorder and that was a thing that they believed and they could get medicated and they'd go, "Oh my gosh, that was terrible. I can't believe I believe that.' Or they go, "You know what? I just don't care about other people. I made that up. Do you know how many people I've made hate Jews because of my reptile people's lies? Huh? What rubes?" Way worse—
[00:10:03] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:10:03] Jordan Harbinger: —than somebody who's suffering from a mental illness even if it makes them a piece of crap in terms of their behavior.
[00:10:07] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:10:08] Jordan Harbinger: You're right. It's kind of lost like, huh? You're just nodding on the joke. And I'm like the joke of making a bunch of really vulnerable young men believe something that's horrible and definitely not going to serve them at all through the next however many years they believe this. Possibly lead them to do and say and believe really horrible things about themselves and other people. That's not a really funny joke. That's not a good gag.
[00:10:30] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:10:30] Jordan Harbinger: And especially because it's monetized, the whole point is it's monetized or whatever the equivalent term is for fame, right? That's all it's for seemingly.
[00:10:38] Mark Manson: This is kind of what killed the pickup artist industry. I mean, it was already declining, but—
[00:10:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:44] Mark Manson: —around 2011, 2012, you had the Elliot Rodger shooting. You had a number of high profile, awful, awful things that happened, like really, really troubled young men who went out and did heinous sh*t. And it came out that they were part of that community and had been reading a bunch of these books and like pain for seminars and stuff. And that's what ends up happening and—
[00:11:05] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:05] Mark Manson: I mean, it may turn out that Tate is the person who did the heinous sh*t this time around, but you know, even if the charges to him, it turns out that they're false. At some point, there's going to be some troubled young guy somewhere who takes it way too seriously and does something f*cked up and we go through the cycle again.
[00:11:24] Jordan Harbinger: You're right here. Elliot Rodger for people who don't know, and I'm going to get the details wrong because I'm going off memory here, but he was a guy who believed that he was entitled to sex with women. Other guys who are less than him were not. And I think he took a machete and killed like nine people. It was gross.
[00:11:40] Mark Manson: Yeah. He had all these really f*cked up like videos about how women had wronged him by not showing him any romantic interest.
[00:11:49] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:49] Mark Manson: And then, yeah, he like macheted his roommates, which were male, and then he took a gun and went like to a bunch of sorority houses and started shooting them up.
[00:11:58] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, clearly he was disturbed. I don't want to be like, "Oh, pick up artists leads to people murdering people." Many of the guys who came through those programs would come through and go, "Okay, I feel more confident. That was helpful. I could probably leave some of the gross misogynist crap aside." Some of them were young and they learned stuff about body language and nonverbal communication, and some places were better than others and some instructors were better than others. And I'd like to think that many men are smart enough to throw out the bathwater, to butcher the metaphor here and be like, "Okay, I learned a lot about this stuff. It got me interested in people in human behavior, and it made me look introspectively at myself. That was good. Maybe I don't need to make up lies about how I drive a Ferrari and then target women as objects. Maybe I can outgrow that." I'd like to think many guys went through that successfully.
[00:12:45] Mark Manson: Well, I mean, I can speak from my experience meeting and dealing with hundreds of guys back then, I would say at least 95 percent of them were really good dudes who just had bad social skills or were bullied when they grew up.
[00:13:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:00] Mark Manson: So they had a lot of insecurities, a lot of issues, like most of them were just really good guys who were a little bit nerdy or whatever and needed a little bit of like, they were confused. They didn't know where else to go. I feel like part of my transition out of that industry is what I realized was, I was like, you know, we have this f*cked up industry because it is not socially acceptable for men to talk about improving their social and emotional lives. And so I rededicated myself to like, okay, f*ck the dating thing. Forget the pickup thing. Let's just try to take men and teach them, like make it okay for them to be healthy. And so a lot of what started my career, you know, the F-bombs, the humor, the ridiculous stories and anecdotes, a lot of that was because that's what young men responded to.
[00:13:49] I remember going into my first publisher meetings for Subtle Art, and they would ask me if I knew the demographics of my blog audience. I said, yeah, it's like 55 percent women, 45 percent men.
[00:14:01] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:14:02] Mark Manson: And they were shocked. They were—
[00:14:03] Jordan Harbinger: I'm shocked.
[00:14:03] Mark Manson: —absolutely astounded. Yeah, they were like, we never see self-help books with more than 20 percent men. Like never. It never happens.
[00:14:11] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, really? I thought you were going to say 90 percent men because this is how I write and it's about men's stuff. That's interesting. This is the opposite of what I thought then.
[00:14:18] Mark Manson: Yeah, no, the publishers were blown away. And I think one of the reasons Subtle Art was as successful as it was, was it was one of the first self-help books that drew in a large male audience.
[00:14:33] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:14:33] Mark Manson: A lot of my thinking and kind of strategizing when I first transitioned into the self-help world was like, if I can find a way to make these self-help topics appealing for young men, then most of these guys won't feel like they have to go to a pickup artist industry or to an Andrew Tate or whatever.
[00:14:50] Jordan Harbinger: I like that because, in fact, that was one of the initial sort of germinating seeds of the reason I split off from my old company, which was purely dating focused in many ways because I wanted the podcast, which now is The Jordan Harbinger Show or which became The Jordan Harbinger Show. I wanted that to supplant the training that we were offering, and I liked some of the training that we were doing. Of course, don't get me wrong, but I thought, you know, if people really do the deep work and really look at themselves and really focus on their career in learning skills and then developing a healthy social, they don't need the bells and whistles. They could come for the bells and whistles, but it's no longer, I almost wanted that to like not be the business anymore because I thought we don't really need most of these clients, some of them need therapy and shouldn't be here. Like they need actual psychological help.
[00:15:38] Mark Manson: So true.
[00:15:39] Jordan Harbinger: And the rest of them, or a certain portion of the rest of them, they came here to like meet us and do stuff. But I'm like, they could have just gone in this other direction. And then there's like five percent, 10 percent where we're like, this person really doesn't even need to be here at all. They're just getting this little sprinkle of skill on top of a really healthy personality. And those were always the most fun and best clients. And I thought, what if we could just teach those guys? And then I did the math and I was like, I would run three workshops a year and live on my mom's couch. And then I thought, okay, but that's better that way, right? You know, if you can write Subtle Art—
[00:16:08] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:16:09] Jordan Harbinger: —and the rest of your book models and other books that you have, which will link in the show notes. And then, you don't have to have people trying to hire you to take them out for drinks four to seven nights a week and go out every night and try and pick up women to generate confidence, self-esteem, and social skills. That's an ideal outcome. And I think you and I kind of both came to that conclusion. And by the way, before I forget, I have to tell this anecdote because a long time ago, you and I were catching up on the phone about something and you said, "I'm working on a book." And I said, great. And I don't know how we got to the title, but we did. And you said it's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. And I remember hanging up the phone and going to my wife and going, "So my friend is writing a book and the title is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. And I feel like I should tell him that that is a terrible title and no one is going to buy it." And she's like, "I don't know, like he probably tested it or maybe he has some data behind these ideas." And I was like, "But I really don't want my friend to fail because of something stupid like this title. What do I do?" And she talked me out of having like an intervention with you about it.
[00:17:10] Mark Manson: Oh.
[00:17:10] Jordan Harbinger: And which wouldn't have worked anyway. It's not like I would've successfully talked you out of that, hopefully. But it's so funny because if people don't know, it's like the bestselling book of our generation or it's one of—
[00:17:22] Mark Manson: It's absurd.
[00:17:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Tell me, no, tell me like brag for a second because it's ridiculous how wrong I was. It's like obscenely stupid how wrong I was.
[00:17:29] Mark Manson: Globally, I think 15 or 16 million.
[00:17:31] Jordan Harbinger: This is why my show's called The Jordan Harbinger Show because I'm obviously terrible at coming up with creative titles and names.
[00:17:38] Mark Manson: You're coming up with titles? Yeah.
[00:17:39] Jordan Harbinger: Like I'm just going to not quit my day job when it comes to naming things or coming up with — if I think a title is clever, run away from that title.
[00:17:49] Mark Manson: I'm excited if you ever do a book, it should just be called The Jordan Harbinger Book.
[00:17:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. People will be like, "Why didn't you name it something with more pizzazz?" I clearly do not have the magic touch.
[00:18:02] Mark Manson: Because this is what it is. It's The Jordan Harbinger Book. Yeah, that's what you're getting.
[00:18:06] Jordan Harbinger: That's what you get, man. Yeah, speaking of you got a movie now. I enjoyed the movie. Of course, I read the book. It's not just the exact same stuff or delivered in this, you know, it's a different way. And you went viral recently because Katie Porter was reading it on the house floor during this insane McCarthy vote drama, which is really good timing. I mean, everyone's erupting around her and she's reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I assume you saw a little spike from that that had to help.
[00:18:31] Mark Manson: Oh yeah. Yeah. It was a very well-timed—
[00:18:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:18:34] Mark Manson: —spike of unplanned publicity. I think everybody, not just me, but people at Universal, people at Harper Collins, everybody was doing a little rain dance in their office when they saw that.
[00:18:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Viral photo that I'm sure millions of people saw. And it's like, "Wait, did you send her this? Do you know her?" Because the timing was so good. And it's like, when — was it Chris Hemsworth, held up your book—?
[00:18:57] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:18:58] Jordan Harbinger: —in a video on Facebook? And I was like, dude, how much did you pay for that? And you're like, "I don't think you can buy that." I'm pretty sure companies pay him million, yeah, it's like they pay him millions of dollars to show up wearing like a boss suit and a watch and he's doing a video for you saying, "This is a great book, you got to buy it." You don't have enough money for that.
[00:19:16] Mark Manson: Yeah, I mean, dude, if I could buy a congressman that easily, that would say a lot about our politics, but yeah, I had no idea.
[00:19:23] Jordan Harbinger: Just ask Putin, he'll tell you how to buy a congressman.
[00:19:25] Mark Manson: Coincidentally, my books were just censored in Russia by Putin.
[00:19:29] Jordan Harbinger: The cover or the whole book?
[00:19:31] Mark Manson: Both books have anecdotes about the Soviet Union and they're like blanked out.
[00:19:37] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:19:37] Mark Manson: So this is completely random, a little bit of a tangent, but like two years ago, of all people, Garry Kasparov reached out to me.
[00:19:46] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, nice.
[00:19:46] Mark Manson: He was like, "Hey, your books are about to be censored in Russia." And I was like—
[00:19:50] Jordan Harbinger: How do you know?
[00:19:51] Mark Manson: First of all, holy sh*t. It's Garry Kasparov. And second of all, like, wait, how do you know this? Where's this coming from?
[00:19:58] Jordan Harbinger: Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster, famously played IBM's Big Blue computer and is also a political activist. Just a very famous chess personality who's transcended that, but yeah, just so people, if they don't know.
[00:20:11] Mark Manson: He's arguably the best chess player ever, was also the number one dissident against Putin's government in the early 2000s. He was the only person to run for Prime Minister against Putin, and then was actually kicked out of the country, exiled—
[00:20:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:20:27] Mark Manson: —for it. This was all like mid-2000s. Anyway, so I was like, okay, that's kind of wild, whatever. But yeah, about a week ago, I started getting a lot of messages from Russian readers with like pictures of entire pages. Just like, you know how like the CIA like blacks out documents?
[00:20:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, redact.
[00:20:44] Mark Manson: Yeah, that's what they did. They didn't even bother like editing. There's just pages where it's like half the words are redacted.
[00:20:51] Jordan Harbinger: That's so interesting because Russia, not the Soviet Union, but they still don't want you saying negative things about the Soviet Union. That's so weird.
[00:20:59] Mark Manson: I guess so. I don't know. Kasparov said that this is like a new Putin thing. I mean, I guess it kind of makes sense because if you can kind of erase the atrocities and horrors that happened in the Soviet Union from Russian history, then I guess it's easier to commit them again.
[00:21:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:18] Mark Manson: That would be my guess, I suppose.
[00:21:20] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point. You can't say, "Our government has always been this terrible." You can idealize the past, which is kind of what fascists do, right? They say, "Look, our proud history," but if you go, "But weren't people just starving and put in gulags for political beliefs and da, da, da, da." And it's like, well, not if we say that didn't happen and you can't read about it anymore, it didn't. So we can idealize the past in a way that's like people idealize their ex-girlfriend and compare them to their current girlfriend, to use our dating analogy, right?
[00:21:46] Mark Manson: My ex-girlfriend wasn't a gulag.
[00:21:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, she wasn't that bad. Yeah.
[00:21:55] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:21:55] Jordan Harbinger: All right, so interesting, your book is censored. Well, it's cool because it doesn't that make you think, wow, I have dangerous ideas, man. Even if it's just a historical anecdote, it's kind of a little claim to fame and censored by Putin. Yeah. I want to see a photo of him reading your book at that super long COVID table that he has.
[00:22:11] Mark Manson: Yeah. Right, with nobody in the room with him.
[00:22:13] Jordan Harbinger: Right. With like a black Sharpie being like, "Nah, not this. Agree with the idea. Hate the example, Mark. Strike that one out."
[00:22:20] Mark Manson: Yeah. But no, it is definitely a feather in my cap. We've already used it for marketing purposes on the website.
[00:22:27] Jordan Harbinger: All right, so childhood, you grew up outside Austin, Bibles, football. I know you're not really into that. You wore metal shirts and smoked pot and mouthed off to adults probably, which is, you haven't changed a bit, by the way.
[00:22:39] Mark Manson: No, not much evolution has happened actually.
[00:22:43] Jordan Harbinger: No, well, bit of personal growth, but all on the inside. I wanted to ask about, I know you got arrested in middle school for weed. And what is that like? You're just disappointing the sh*t out of your parents probably yourself. I also, I got arrested for, I didn't get arrested, sorry. I got in deep trouble for credit card fraud when I was like 13 because I ordered pizzas for the whole school. It's a story I think I've told on the show, but it was the same kind of outcome. You know, your parents just think like, "You're such a f*cking loser. Like, how did I ruin my child?"
[00:23:13] Mark Manson: It's funny. I think back to that and as an adolescent, I was such like just this little ball of anger when I was probably, you know, 11, 12, 13, 14. And I had no self-awareness around it. All I understood was that breaking rules was really gratifying. Like the more I upset a teacher or my parents, there was like a certain kind of like sick pride that came with that. And so there was probably like two years of me just pushing boundaries repeatedly and like seeing how much more I could get away with and how much more trouble I could get in. Yeah, there was something just strangely, psychologically satisfying for me at that time and it's probably because I was a miserable, f*cked-up kid.
[00:23:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:58] Mark Manson: But when that arrest happened, I don't know, I guess it was never part of my reality that the legal system could actually get involved. And I think maybe there was always this like safety net in my mind of like, that would never actually happen to me.
[00:24:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:24:15] Mark Manson: All these like laws that I'm skirting around and dipping my toe across, you know, nothing's actually going to happen. So when, yeah, the police showed up and I was in handcuffs and ended up in a jail cell, in a juvenile hall. It was definitely a scared, straight moment. It was like, oh sh*t, this actually is life altering. There isn't the safety blanket around me that removes me from long-term consequences. And it was the first time I think I went too far. And that psychological satisfaction wasn't there. It was actually quite the opposite. It was kind of this like desperate, like, "Oh my God, where are my parents? Like, please come get me."
[00:24:53] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:24:53] Mark Manson: Please help me. I didn't mean to go this far. So, yeah, it was a pretty rude wake-up call for everybody at that time. I mean, my family, people will see in the film I talk about it in more detail than I do in the book, but it was my family on paper was very "Leave it to Beaver. Like, everything looked nice and was nice on paper, but emotionally everything was very dysfunctional and it was falling apart, and I was so young that I didn't really understand that. And so I was just acting out because I just had all this like, emotion built up inside of me and I didn't know what to do with it. But I think that arrest was part of the collapse of my family as an adolescent, and it never really recovered.
[00:25:41] Jordan Harbinger: When you say the collapse of your family, I know your parents got divorced a few months after the pot incident, you don't blame yourself for that, do you?
[00:25:48] Mark Manson: No. No. I see all of those things. There were a number of things. My brother got in some legal trouble. I got in some legal trouble. My parents had a bunch of sh*t going on. You know, everything was the effect of a central emotional cause, which was there was just a fundamental dysfunction within the family. Like my parents didn't have a functional relationship and so my brother and I didn't grow up with emotionally functional role models. So we didn't have functional relationships with our parents. So you had four people who just didn't know how to relate or get along with each other in a healthy manner—
[00:26:27] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:27] Mark Manson: —whatsoever. And so my arrest incident is just one of those things that was like the fallout of that. It was downstream of that dysfunction.
[00:26:38] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Mark Manson. We'll be right back.
[00:26:43] This episode is sponsored in part by Athletic Greens. Jen and I take AG1 by Athletic Greens pretty much every single morning. We had a scoop of AG1 to a bottle of water. Shake it up. We started taking AG1 because frankly, with two kids, we often don't have time to eat a balanced meal. Some days I'm trying to be healthy. Other days I'm surviving on freaking leftovers from the fridge, pizza, whatever it is. Not there's anything wrong with that occasionally, but you know, we want a quick and easy way to make sure we're getting a lot of the nutrients that we would need for kids or my parents who survive on cheeseburgers, and I wanted it in a way that's easy enough for our body to absorb, possibly in the car slash holding a baby in one hand. AG1 is like an all-in-one nutritional insurance. It's cheaper and easier than getting all the different supplements yourself. Each scoop has 75 vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced, superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens. There's no need for a million different pills and supplements to look out for your health. No GMOs, no nasty artificial stuff. Taste great. I've tried similar products, usually you got to hold your nose when you drink it. AG1, the flavors surprisingly good, slight green flavor, you know, not filled with a ton of sweeteners, one scoop in water. You can drink it alone. Time to reclaim your health and arm your immune system with convenient daily nutrition.
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[00:31:10] Now back to Mark Manson.
[00:31:14] Speaking of emotions in the film, you talk about delusional positivity and that the idea that it's fashionable to believe things you want to believe just because those beliefs feel good. And it kind of relates in a way to like, I've done an episode on hustle culture and hustle porn, episode 682. I'd love to talk about this delusional positivity and why it's damaging, because I've talked about it with the work context, sort of a business context. I'd love to hear your take on this from a personal relationship context. Because I do think that it's almost like if you don't have this, it's almost weird, especially online.
[00:31:50] Mark Manson: Positivity is a tricky thing, right? Because it is useful to have a positive mindset in many situations, in many circumstances, especially if you're going through challenges or struggles, like looking on the bright side, it can be helpful. But I think there's a difference between positivity as a tool. Like you can use it as a tool to kind of help you get through a difficult period. And I think in that sense, it's a very useful tool, but I think a lot of people, they don't realize it's a tool. They treat it as like a way of life.
[00:32:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:32:22] Mark Manson: They start doing it compulsively. Like a healthy way to use a positive mindset is, "I'm going through some difficult stuff in my life. Let me take a moment and try to think of the things that I'm grateful for. Let me try to think of maybe the benefits or the lessons that could come from this, you know, to help me get through it, to help me learn from it." Unhealthy, positive mindset would be, "I'm going through some challenges. Let's just pretend those challenges don't exist, because I don't want to deal with it if I just keep telling myself everything's great, it will go away. I don't have to deal with it. I don't have to struggle with it. I don't have to fail or feel rejected or anything." And so people who aren't able to face the negative, they develop a compulsive positivity. And the compulsive positivity on the surface looks nice. You're like, "Wow, that person is so happy." And they're always like—
[00:33:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:10] Mark Manson: —you know, happy-go-lucky and optimistic. But underneath the surface, they're like desperately trying to keep the darkness away. And the problem is to consistently keep that darkness away over a long period of time, you have to start detaching yourself from reality. You have to literally start telling yourself that things that are there are not actually there. That they're not true.
[00:33:32] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:32] Mark Manson: They don't exist. And once you reach that place, it will start interfering with your relationships. It will start interfering with your job, your profession, any hobbies you're pursuing. Because to improve anything, whether it's a relationship or a pursuit or a career, you have to deal with reality. Like the way you learn and improve at something is you look at the reality. You say, "How can this be better?" And then you improve upon it. If you're refusing to look at the reality and you're just telling yourself it's great, then you're removing the opportunity for improvement and growth. That's kind of where the positivity can become dysfunctional. It can become compulsive, and it can ironically keep people stuck in the same situation that they're in, despite the fact that they're probably telling themselves all the time that they're having group breakthroughs and growth and, "Oh my God, I'm a new person," and whatever.
[00:34:21] Jordan Harbinger: Culty, self-help seminars, they do that a lot, right? They'll get you really sort of psyched up and train you to, "You can change your emotional state at the drop of a hat," which I'm sure is useful sometimes, but can easily get abused by people who are like, "Oh, I need this. I need to change my emotional state at the drop of a hat, because I find myself being really unhappy that I haven't dealt with the emotional baggage of watching my parents go through alcoholism, substance abuse, divorce, abuse, whatever, or being abused as a kid. So I'm just going to change my state by jumping up and down and power posing." It's like, well, wait a minute, maybe these negative emotions are there for a reason and not that you deserve the punishment of having those emotions all the time but maybe that they're indicating something. And you phrased this really well. I'm going to paraphrase something from the movie here. You say, our brains want there to be a formula for happiness in equation but there just isn't, no matter what we want to believe.
[00:35:14] Mark Manson: I think if you take somebody who has spent a long time feeling miserable and you kind of teach them to change their state in an instant, that can feel very powerful in that moment. I can understand why people feel like that is actually changing something like they feel like that's a breakthrough in their lives. Like I just spent two years being absolutely miserable and depressed. I went to this seminar. This super charismatic person came out on stage, they played a bunch of music, and oh my God, I felt great for like two days. I can understand why that is very significant for that person. But as you pointed out, it's one thing to change your emotion. It's another thing to actually look at the root causes of the negative emotion and sort through it and actually deal with it. And I do think learning to change your emotional state or getting into a better emotional state, it's probably useful for that process, you know, to go back and deal with all the baggage. But you have to be willing to go back to it. You can't just like, "No, no, no, I'm just going to play happy in this little bubble for the rest of my life and keep signing up for seminars every weekend, forever and ever—"
[00:36:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:21] Mark Manson: "—because God, I can't go back to that." And I think that's what a lot of people get sucked into. And I talk about this a lot. I have a number of articles on my website that talk about this, but how self-help material can easily become another form of avoidance. There are plenty of people that you see, you know, go out and buy a book or watch a bunch of videos to solve some problem in their life. And it introduces all these interesting intellectual concepts and ideas to them, and they feel like they made some progress and they understand themselves better and they get a little bit of a high from that. And so they go out and buy another five books and download another seminar and spend another month like digging into this and learning new concepts. And, you know, they can go down a rabbit hole for months, intellectualizing their problems, but until they actually behave differently in their day-to-day life, they haven't really changed. They haven't done anything.
[00:37:16] Actually, I've got a YouTube video coming out probably around the time this goes up. And I say it, it's learning often feels like progress, but it isn't always progress. And learning is often the most seductive form of procrastination. We tell ourselves, "I just need to learn a little bit more. Let me just study a little bit longer. Let me do a little bit more research, and then I'll go address this issue that's been in my life for 10 years." You know, it feels productive, but you're not actually changing anything.
[00:37:46] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny that that's an example, that's one of the prime things that we used to talk about back when you and I were doing the dating coach stuff, the pickup artist stuff, right? It was the guys who were like, just reading field reports and just in the forums, and it's like you have to go out. You have to go out and talk and approach women and approach strangers because if you don't, you're never going to. It's all just an intellectual circle jerk. See, there is wisdom in the things that we were teaching and learning and doing back then. It was just all aimed at kind of in the wrong direction slash outward instead of inward.
[00:38:15] Mark Manson: It's funny, I've been really coming around on this. It is amazing how much this stuff applies to in life. It's funny too, I remember the last year or so that I coached, I can't tell you how many, like the look of disappointment that I would see on my client's faces. They would hire me. I would take them out to a bar or something. We'd see a cute girl. I'd say, "Okay, go talk to her." And he'd be like, "What's my line?"
[00:38:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:38:38] Mark Manson: "What's the strategy tonight?" And I'd be like, "How about you say, 'Hi, my name's John.'" And just the look of utter disappointment on their face of like, "Wait a second, I've been reading all this sh*t and studying this last year for this moment and I could have just said, 'Hi, I'm John,' the entire time."
[00:38:56] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:38:56] Mark Manson: And I'm like, "Yeah, pretty much."
[00:38:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There was a lot of like, but wait, what are my nonverbals doing when I introduce myself? And it's like, man, all of this intellectualization, yeah. What's your refund policy, Mark?
[00:39:10] Mark Manson: Yeah. Right.
[00:39:11] Jordan Harbinger: We're going to have different stuff tomorrow night, right? The intro thing is just so we get used to it. Yeah, I get it. I understand that these guys thought we had secret knowledge when really what we had was experience and we were going to force them to get experience, and that was half the value of what we were teaching.
[00:39:26] Mark Manson: Probably 90 percent of it, you know, it's just—
[00:39:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:39:29] Mark Manson: That rejection that you're so afraid of, I went through it and that's why you're paying me, basically.
[00:39:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you're going to get 50 of those tonight and then by tomorrow you're going to be like, "God, this just wasn't that bad. I wish I had done that three years ago. I could have saved $8,000 or whatever." Yeah. Tell me about negative emotions. In the movie, you discuss the hedonic treadmill in comparison, and I'll talk about a little bit about that stuff in the show close, but what do we do? You mentioned sitting with negative thoughts and emotions, almost like a cross-training for your mind. Tell me about that.
[00:39:59] Mark Manson: So I have the saying, that I repeat often, which is that there's no such thing as a bad emotion. There's only bad reactions to emotions.
[00:40:07] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:07] Mark Manson: It's one of the most common questions I get is, "Hey, Mark, this thing in my life happened and I feel X," where X is, you know, either anger, sadness, depression, shame, guilt. "How do I stop feeling X? Like, what's wrong? What did I do wrong?"
[00:40:23] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:25] Mark Manson: Again, coming back to the disappointing clients, or maybe I am the disappointed panda, but my response is always like, you didn't do anything wrong. You're supposed to feel sad or guilty, or angry. Like, of course, you feel guilty, like this f*cking thing happened. That's an awful thing. Like, you should feel guilty.
[00:40:42] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:42] Mark Manson: And then obviously, they get very disappointed because that's not what they want to hear. But to me, this is a very liberating idea that the negative emotions are supposed to happen. Like even though you don't like them and you wish they would go away, they are helping you. That guilt is better preparing you for the next situation to not f*ck up. That anger is motivating you to take action and change something in your life. That sadness is honoring something that was important to you and feels lost. You have to be able to sit with those negative emotions to find what is valuable in them, and then that allows you to move forward from them. Have that good reaction from the negative emotion. And so, that's kind of what I mean by like emotional cross-training.
[00:41:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:30] Mark Manson: You know, obviously we all like to feel good. We all like being happy. Happiness is easy. Like happiness is so f*cking easy. Nobody ever emails me saying, "Mark, I'm so happy. I don't know what to do."
[00:41:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:41:41] Mark Manson: It's like, "Help me out here. Why am I happy?"
[00:41:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:44] Mark Manson: Why? How do I stop being happy? Nobody asks that question. Happiness is easy. You know, the things that we struggle with is this poo-poo platter of negative emotions. And what I find is that some people tend to naturally be better at managing some emotions. Like some people are naturally very good at managing their anger, but they're terrible with guilt. And then, there are other people who are—
[00:42:08] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:42:08] Mark Manson: —tend to naturally be pretty good at managing their shame and guilt. But man, they really get sad sometimes and like just feel like down and down in the mud. And so I think a lot of it is just understanding like, which emotions do you in particular struggle with and consciously sitting with it to work on finding the positive reactions to it.
[00:42:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think in the movie you said something along the lines of happiness doesn't come from getting rid of problems, it comes from solving your problems. And that's the only way to do that is to take a lesson from the negative emotion in some way. And look, I want to be clear, if somebody's like depressed for months on end, or even weeks, definitely get therapy, even if you're not feeling it for weeks on end, get therapy. It's healthy for you. Don't feel shame if you need medication for something. I assume you're not talking about a medical diagnosis of—
[00:42:57] Mark Manson: No.
[00:42:58] Jordan Harbinger: —somebody having, you know, anger or depression issues. We're not talking like, just sit with it. It's only been a few years, you'll be fine. You'll come out the other side. Like some people need medical intervention, whether that's medicine or talk therapy or both.
[00:43:09] Mark Manson: Yeah. Well, one of the things I talk about on my website and in my courses is I say, "Look, I am your expert for mild life problems." Like—
[00:43:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:20] Mark Manson: —serious, serious life problems, like a serious mental health episode. Major, major trauma, I'm not your guy. You should go see a professional and spend a lot of time with that professional. But if you've got a break, If you have a midlife crisis, if you just got laid off your job that you really liked and you don't know what to do with yourself, if your mom drives you crazy and you don't know how to manage that relationship, like, I'm your guy. That's what I'm here for, like mild life problems or I guess, you could say high-quality life problems.
[00:43:52] Jordan Harbinger: I would agree. You know, Feedback Friday, our advice shows, there's a lot of people who write in and they have really serious stuff, and we're like, "Oh, you absolutely need a medical intervention, possibly/probably medication." We don't even air those, you know, we send them a nice response with some resources.
[00:44:06] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:44:07] Jordan Harbinger: It's really easy for people in our position to suddenly start believing, or maybe not even suddenly, over time, start believing that they can fix anything because we don't hear when we truly screw somebody up over time.
[00:44:19] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:44:20] Jordan Harbinger: Right? So we just start to believe that we're geniuses because, well, after all, I've sold 16 million books internationally. I've had 300 million downloads in my show in the past few years. I must know what I'm doing. It's like, well, the scoreboard doesn't always dictate the quality of service—
[00:44:33] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:44:33] Jordan Harbinger: —on this stuff. I do like your take though on, on not always being able to trust positive emotions. Tell me about that. I think this is very insightful.
[00:44:41] Mark Manson: Well, so the same way that you can find value and negative emotions. You can actually, you can find ways for positive emotions to trick you or hurt you. We have a tendency when something makes us feel good, we tend to convince ourselves or lie to ourselves that it must be a good thing. And this can get us into trouble. I mean, the most obvious example of this is say substance addiction. It makes you feel great. So you start rationalizing and coming up with reasons to do it more often. Why it's not interfering with your life? You start telling your friends and family like, "No, no, no. It's under control. Everything is fine." That is an extreme example of how feeling good can actually lead to astray and the importance of being skeptical of things that make you feel good. And so even though that's an extreme example, I think that same principle plays out in a lot of different ways.
[00:45:32] Jordan Harbinger: Like, I'll tell you this, Jordan, the most fun job I ever had in my life. I was a bike messenger for six months, my senior year of college.
[00:45:43] Mark Manson: Where?
[00:45:43] Jordan Harbinger: In Boston.
[00:45:44] Mark Manson: Oh God, that's so dangerous.
[00:45:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no, looking back I'm like, I'm so glad my brain is intact. Like look, all the guys—
[00:45:52] Mark Manson: You're so lucky.
[00:45:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:45:53] Mark Manson: All the guys I worked with were hospitalized at some point, but I loved that job. Like it was so much fun. I made no money.
[00:46:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:46:02] Mark Manson: I was probably going to kill myself at some point, you know, just getting hit by a car or getting hit in traffic.
[00:46:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:07] Mark Manson: That is the only job like, you know, I don't really count what I do as a job, but like that was the only job I've ever had in my life that I woke up every day. Like I couldn't wait to get on that bike. And that is a perfect example of like, just because you likes something — and you hear, you see all these cliches on Instagram and stuff like, "Oh, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." It's like, well I love bike messaging, but I would probably be a spot on the road of Mass Ave in Boston right now if I didn't give up the job that I loved. So you need to think critically about both sides of the equation. Think critically about the negative emotions, but also think critically about the positive emotions.
[00:46:46] Jordan Harbinger: I see this trend happening a lot with escapism, especially now that people can work from anywhere, I see a lot of digital nomads and I've got this sort of whole rant. I've done the show, I'm sure way too many times about how I'll never hire these people except for one who's my video editor. He actually gets his work done. But a lot of these people, they can't really hold it together. And one of the reasons is I think a majority, or at least a fair percentage of people who are doing the digital nomad thing are truly just escaping—
[00:47:12] Mark Manson: Yes.
[00:47:12] Jordan Harbinger: —from something. And they're chasing positive feelings are literally around the world and reinventing themselves. And some of that can be healthy. Look, go for it, man. Study abroad or work abroad. Reinvent yourself a few times, but at some point, if you're moving, every time you have a close relationship, you set up close relationships or you get to know a place. There's something there, man. And I'm wondering about your take on this because this seems like something you would've either thought about and/or you have an opinion on. I really do feel like these people are running.
[00:47:40] Mark Manson: Well, I was a digital nomad for six years.
[00:47:43] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah, the Brazil thing where you met your lovely wife.
[00:47:46] Mark Manson: I was a nomad two and a half years before I met her. I will say this, first of all, I don't think you're wrong. My experience with nomads, with nomad culture, meeting nomads and is that you get all sorts of extremes. So you tend to find — digital nomads are either very interesting people or they're just running away from something. I'd say it's probably 75 percent are are running away.
[00:48:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:48:12] Mark Manson: That's not necessarily a bad thing. Like I look back at my motivations for living that lifestyle. I think I was young, I was in my 20s, I was single. I was like, when else am I going to have this chance to like go live in Asia or go learn another language?
[00:48:27] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:28] Mark Manson: So in that sense, I don't regret that. Like I see that as a valuable investment of my time and energy up to probably around year three or four. I would say once you hit year three or four, the diminishing returns kick in. Like you've been to enough countries, you've been to enough tourist sites and seen enough cultures and you're not really getting a whole lot out of it anymore. And at that point, you should probably just go home. And it took me another couple of years to finally accept that and go home. But I would say the first two to three years were very, very valuable for me. But kind of back to the people that I met and noted and saw. I generally found the people who were running away from something, it was either because they were doing some shady sh*t.
[00:49:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:49:14] Mark Manson: You know, I met guys who were selling penis pills. I met guys who were hacking credit card databases.
[00:49:20] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:49:20] Mark Manson: They were in the third world for a reason because they would be arrested if they were anywhere else. And so obviously, you avoid those people. There's kind of another class of guys who, as you pointed out, are just lazy. Like they don't really care about Thai culture or Thai cuisine. They're in Thailand because it's cheap and nobody bothers them and they can work three hours a day and like pay for their apartment. Like, that's basically why they're there. And they haven't thought about, you know, what's going to happen when I'm 30 or 35 and want to get, start a family or buy a house or whatever. Like they're just kind of irresponsibly lazy. But then, I'd say the minority of people who are driven and smart tend to be super interesting, like very outside-the-box thinkers, very entrepreneurial, fascinating people, and just kind of totally comfortable like, "You know, okay, this is going to be my new culture. You know, I'm in Colombia." Or like what I did with Brazil, like I met my wife and—
[00:50:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:21] Mark Manson: I was like, okay, I guess I'll learn Portuguese and live here for a few years. And that's what I did. And it was really challenging, but I enjoyed that challenge. Like it was a very intellectually stimulating challenge. I enjoyed learning about the culture and so I think for those people there does seem to be kind of a legitimate reason. There're just super curious people and being a digital nomad is just another way to kind of fulfill that curiosity.
[00:50:44] Jordan Harbinger: I have to take a bite out of my own point here, because traveling was so important to my development as well. I think the problem is I just met so many people that were addicted to it.
[00:50:52] Mark Manson: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:53] Jordan Harbinger: And they didn't settle in one place and stay there for three years. They went to a new place every few weeks or every few months and it really seemed like an unhealthy desire to try to become something extraordinary, but then not really have the know-how to do it, but feel all the psychological pressure that they needed to do it from social media or wherever. And then, try to do that, start that process over and over again. And I can almost smell the disappointment on these people when they'd show up to a place, and I think it's a Mark Twain quote, well, although everything is right, wherever you go, there you are. They'd show up—
[00:51:27] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:51:27] Jordan Harbinger: —and they'd have the same set of problems and bad beliefs and the same set of issues that they had at the last place, and eventually this new place, it would, all the novelty would wear off. It would sink in and they'd be like, "Ah, screw it. I'm going to Israel now because there is where my ideal life is. That's where I'm going to meet the special person."
[00:51:43] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:51:44] Jordan Harbinger: "And the person who's going to fix me and the environment that's going to welcome me and change me."
[00:51:48] Mark Manson: Yeah. You definitely run into people who are just perpetually dissatisfied with their environment and the people around them. I'm trying to think if I was like that a little bit. I mean, what definitely happened with me at a certain point is you just realize that every place has its problems.
[00:52:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:04] Mark Manson: You're kind of just picking and choosing — you know, I think before I was a nomad, I had some naive beliefs about the United States and about other countries and cultures. But by being a nomad, it dispelled a lot of those naive beliefs, both about the US and about other places in the world. And eventually, you just kind of realized that like every place has serious problems. Like every place has—
[00:52:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:26] Mark Manson: —great things about their culture and their history and their society, but every place has serious problems. And those problems aren't all necessarily symmetrical. Like there are better and worse trade-offs.
[00:52:40] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny. So when I first moved to Latin America, I was like, yeah, the buses don't run on time and maybe somebody steals your phone every once in a while. But people are so emotionally open, they're very authentic, they're very honest with each other. And for somebody who grew up in a very kind of emotionally constricted environment and family, my first couple of years in Latin America, honestly, it was very therapeutic. Like being there I think made me a more integrated and complete person because being around people who were so comfortable with their emotions helped me become more comfortable with my emotions and expressing myself and sharing my thoughts and ideas with others.
[00:53:21] Mark Manson: But after a certain amount of time, and especially once I got engaged to my wife and we started thinking about kids, buying a house, schools, basically starting a long-term life, you look at Brazil and you look at the US and you're like, "Okay, this isn't really a question anymore."
[00:53:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:53:39] Mark Manson: Like, these are not equivalent choices or options. So I think on a surface level, like if you're just kind of going to go experience a culture temporarily, it's almost like trying on new clothes. You're like, "Oh, cool, I'll go try on this culture for a few months and see how it feels." But as soon as you start thinking about long-term life planning, there are better and worse places to live in the world. And at some point, you have to commit to one.
[00:54:04] Jordan Harbinger: That's true. Yeah. Like, wow, this traffic is always going to be like that. This air pollution is always going to be this way. This crime is possibly going to get worse.
[00:54:12] Mark Manson: Yep.
[00:54:12] Jordan Harbinger: That kind of thing. And you start thinking about raising kids and where you're going to live and it's like, oh, maybe I shouldn't be maximizing the number of experiences that I'm having when I'm 35 and have babies.
[00:54:23] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[00:54:24] Jordan Harbinger: Or 45 and have babies.
[00:54:25] Mark Manson: The thing that flipped the switch for me, when I decided to marry my wife and we started talking about kids. Like our friends in Brazil, they have bulletproof cars. They have kidnapping insurance for their kids, like their kids go to private schools with barbed wire fences around them so that people can't get in. You know, as soon as that switch flipped and I started thinking about, "Oh sh*t, if I have kids, is it going to be here? No f*cking way. It's going to be here. We're going to go back to the States," and all those things that I complained about in my 20s about the US. Like, no, I can live with that. That's fine.
[00:55:03] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Mark Manson. We'll be right back.
[00:55:07] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. A lot of people ask me how I'm able to stick to my fitness routine, especially since I have such a bananas schedule. For me, it's really creating a routine that is sustainable and can be duplicated on an ongoing basis. Consistency is the key, right? And Peloton helps me have a sustainable fitness routine because there are thousands of classes to choose from. It's also 24/7. I've always got time for it. I might only have 15 minutes in between calls, but I can still fit in a Peloton. Peloton is really famous for their bikes, but they also make a top-notch rowing machine that stores upright, which you think no big deal. But when you try to have a rower on the floor, you'll be so glad this thing goes upright. If you're a newbie to rowing, the Peloton Row has sensors that can track your movements, that shows you how your form is doing, and it warns you if you're doing something wrong that could injure you or whatever. And right now is the perfect time to get rowing. With Peloton Row, we can promise you've never rode like this before. Peloton Row offers a variety of classes for all levels and game-changing features that help you get rowing or advance what you can already do. Explore Peloton Row and financing options at onepeloton.com/row.
[00:56:11] This episode is also sponsored by Better Help. If you're going through a tough time, you are not alone and you don't have to deal with it on your own either. Therapy is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and Better Help is a great option. You can be completely open and get an unbiased professional opinion. Better Help's got over 94,000 reviews on the iPhone app if you're still skeptical. Therapy is vulnerable work not going to lie. Better Help understands that you won't mesh with everyone, so you can always switch therapists whenever you want. Just let Better Help support know. You don't even need to notify the therapist if you don't feel comfortable. Choose from email, chat, phone, video sessions. For me, I have an easier time opening up when I'm in the comfort of my own home and talking over the phone instead of in front of some stranger as well. If you're on the fence, take this as a sign to try it out.
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[00:57:31] Now, for the rest of my conversation with Mark Manson.
[00:57:37] I've got a show fan from Brazil who's going to California. She wrote me on Instagram. She said, "Oh, I'm going to stay in Venice." And I said, "Oh, you know, be careful. It's a little bit of a dodgy area." I can't remember her exact response, but it was something along the lines of, "I'm from Rio de Janeiro." I was like—
[00:57:52] Mark Manson: Yeah, right.
[00:57:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you'll be. I'd love to talk about the self-esteem movement. You talk about this in the movie, how the self-esteem movement kind of created a generation of entitled people but you had a different take on it than a lot of the boomer takes, where it's like, "Yeah, the self, everybody gets a blue ribbon. You need to learn how to lose." Your take was a little more insightful.
[00:58:11] Mark Manson: You know, I think the self-esteem movement had good intentions. I just think it got a little bit mixed up in the process. So to give everybody a quick primer. Self-esteem emerged as a concept in the '60s and it's interesting. So Nathaniel Branden, who's the guy who kind of originated the term self-esteem, if you go back and like read his book, Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, the original conceptualization of it is actually very, very good. It's also very nuanced. It's not just about how you feel about yourself, but it's kind of how you see your identity. Do you see yourself, even if you don't feel great about yourself today, do you think you are a resilient person? Do you think you are able to handle setbacks? Do you tend to bounce back from things? Like, it's a much more nuanced definition of self-esteem than what kind of ended up being measured and researched in the academic literature in the following decades, which was essentially just asking people, how do you feel about yourself? Do you like yourself?
[00:59:11] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:59:12] Mark Manson: And it turns out that that's not a great way to define self-esteem. So early research on self-esteem, it basically found that people with high self-esteem, basically people who like themselves or feel good about themselves tend to do better in all these categories, they make better grades at school, they get better jobs, they make more money, they commit less crime, they whatever. They give more to charity. I don't know, there's like dozens and dozens of measurements that say that self-esteem helps. And so there was kind of this revolution in the '70s, a hard push towards policy of like, we need to give kids self-esteem. We need to start making kids feel better about themselves in school. And so this is when you start seeing great inflation and participation trophies.
[00:59:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:59:55] Mark Manson: All that stuff that your parents and my parents gripe about. I think what people didn't realize, there was a set of studies that came out in the 2000s by a guy named Roy Baumeister.
[01:00:05] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[01:00:06] Mark Manson: It was really clever what he did. He was like, "You know, people are so obsessed with measuring self-esteem in schools and colleges and workplaces. Let me go to prison. Let's go see like what, how violent criminals feel about themselves." So he went to like maximum security prisons and ran these self-esteem surveys on the prisoners. And it turned out that not only did violent criminals have really high self-esteem. Their self-esteem was like off the charts.
[01:00:34] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:00:34] Mark Manson: Like their self-esteem was like through the roof and they should have been like CEOs of a Fortune 500 company. They felt so good about themselves. So this reckoning happened, has been happening over like the last 10 or 15 years of maybe we weren't defining it correctly. Maybe we should be a little bit more nuanced. But to me, the takeaway here is that just because you feel good about yourself — like, okay, if you are a helpful, productive person in society, it makes sense that you feel good about yourself because you're helping your community and you're being productive.
[01:01:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:01:08] Mark Manson: So of course, you feel good about yourself, but if you look at people who are destructive, and like f*cking things up, the way that they justify that to themselves is because they feel good about themselves. So self-esteem can be a little bit of a double-edged sword. It can exist for a good reason, but it can also be used to justify all sorts of entitled selfish crap. And I worry that this emphasis on self-esteem on you and I's generation when we were growing up, making us feel good about ourselves all the time, you know, again, coming back to being focused on reality, it kind of trained us to develop that compulsive positivity about our self-image of like—
[01:01:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:01:50] Mark Manson: "I'm supposed to be special, and mom and dad say that I can be anything I want and I'm supposed to be great, you know? It must be my teacher's fault that I got an F on my exam, you know, she hates me, obviously." And so it develops this like sense of entitlement and selfishness that maybe wasn't necessarily there before. And so I just think and I say this in the book that a much healthier evaluation of self-esteem isn't how you feel about the good aspects about yourself, it's how you feel about the negative aspects about yourself. Because entitled people refuse to believe that there's anything negative about themselves. They just can't see it. They've like blinded themselves to it. Whereas a healthy self-esteem would be saying like, okay, well here are my strengths and those are great, but here are my weaknesses and I'm working on them, and let's be aware of those and watch out for them. To me, that would be a healthy definition of self-esteem, but the way it's been measured throughout the decades is just like, do you like yourself? Do you think you're good? Well, you know, it's not hard to get people to think that.
[01:02:50] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like that would damage our psyche, right? Because it's a protective mechanism and well, it's a delusional belief that in a way it removes us from who we really are, because you're trying to remove your limitations. You're telling yourself how special and unique you are, probably convincing yourself that you're misunderstood. Or, "Nobody understands how good I am at this or how great I'm supposed to be other than my parents maybe." And it protects us from facing the pain of reality, of our current situation, or our situations we're going to face in the future, certainly.
[01:03:24] Mark Manson: Yeah. I mean, and this is what compulsive positivity does in all of its forms, is it removes the opportunity for growth. Like, if you're not willing to admit where your shortcomings are, then you can't grow from those shortcomings. You can't learn and improve upon them. As we talked about earlier, growth is what drives happiness.
[01:03:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:03:41] Mark Manson: It's that experience of surmounting obstacles and challenges that drives a sense of satisfaction and happiness in our life. So if you are denying any of your shortcomings, you're removing your opportunity for growth, you're actually removing your opportunity for stable, long-term happiness. Basically, you turn yourself into an addict, somebody who needs to find new stimulation all the time to help cover up the shortcomings that you don't want to face. And so, whether it's travel or substance abuse or scrolling TikTok for seven hours straight. Like, you're going to find something to keep the darkness at bay.
[01:04:21] Jordan Harbinger: I feel seen. By the way, great definition of entitlement from the film, again, paraphrasing, feeling like you deserve something without having to pay the cost of it. And I think in the movie, you're not talking necessarily about literally having to earn money to buy something, for example, or even working towards a goal. Some of that is, of course, working towards an outcome, but a lot of it is just simply feeling emotional discomfort perhaps from going through something like growth and feeling like you should have the result without having to do that in the first place.
[01:04:55] Mark Manson: Yeah. It's not just financial work, it's putting in the work of having the difficult conversations to make a relationship work. Like you can't make a relationship, like a relationship is not going to work if you don't talk about uncomfortable things with some regularity. And again, you run into this situation where people consistently push away uncomfortable conversations, push them away, push them away, push them away for years, and then all of a sudden, they wake up one day and it's like their partner, like they don't love each other anymore. They feel completely distant. They don't know each other. And they ask themselves, they're like, "Well, wow, wow, we seemed so happy. Where did I go wrong?" And it's like, well, yeah, because happiness isn't the hard part. Like it's easy to have pleasant conversations with somebody. Like you could do that anytime you want. The difficulty is to actually deal with the uncomfortable stuff, because that's what needs to be handled, and that's what also generates the sense of intimacy between two people.
[01:05:51] Jordan Harbinger: You mentioned avoidance. I would love to work in Manson's Law of Avoidance as you — by the way, congrats on coming up with an idea and then, naming it after yourself. That really hits home for me, here on The Jordan Harbinger Show, soon to be a book with the same title, not really.
[01:06:08] Mark Manson: Your table of should be the Jordan Harbinger chapter one, the first Jordan Harbinger chapter, the second Jordan Harbinger chapter.
[01:06:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm just going to not even try to make any of the descriptives if I ever come up with anything. Can you believe I didn't need a ghostwriter for this? I wrote the whole thing, myself.
[01:06:25] The idea that people will avoid something in proportion to how much that thing threatens their worldview. This is actually super insightful. I want to work in the Japanese soldier story that you tell in the movie.
[01:06:35] Mark Manson: Sure.
[01:06:35] Jordan Harbinger: Because one, it's fascinating and I've never heard it anywhere else, you know, I've heard a little, like urban legend version of it, but I think it's so insightful and I think a lot of us do this in our lives in a less extreme way.
[01:06:45] Mark Manson: I came up with Manson's Law of Avoidance because I was super fascinated at the time of how people don't just avoid experiences that could have a negative impact on their lives. People also seem to avoid experiences that could have a positive impact on their lives.
[01:06:59] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[01:07:00] Mark Manson: If you think about your anxiety levels, they are actually quite proportional between something that scares you and something that could actually change your life very positively. It also kind of freaks you out a little bit and you resist it and you sabotage yourself. I was kind of looking like what is the common thread there and whether positive or negative, the common thread is these are both events that threaten to change how you see yourself. They threaten to change how you are, whether it's a negative event that threatens to change how you see yourself in a very upsetting and uncomfortable way, or a positive event that threatens to change how you see yourself in a way that opens up new opportunities, but also raises new questions of like, do I deserve this? Did I earn this? It's basically another way of saying that like, anything outside of our comfort zone will strike us as terrifying, regardless of whether it's growth or destructive.
[01:07:53] It says a lot about the self-help industry that I think a lot of people have adopted this assumption that change in growth is, it's like a holiday, it's like a picnic, you know? Like it's going to be euphoric, like you're going to raise your arms and you're going to cry and you're going to scream and you're going to sway and hug strangers. Like that view of self-transformation I think is very inaccurate because what actual growth looks like is that it's really f*cking scary and difficult. And even when you're on the other side of it, you're not totally certain you made it. You're like, "Wait a second. I am I really on the other side of this? Or am I about to f*ck up and fall back in?" So there's a lot of self-doubt and insecurity that comes along with it as well, and so I, I think it's important to have a realistic perspective on that because if you're not prepared for those the negative emotions that come with a breakthrough or come with a certain amount of growth, then, you going to fall back into avoidance and pushing everything down.
[01:08:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think when I look at my top experiences of growth or things that led to the top experiences of growth, a lot of them were pretty unpleasant. Business falling apart, relationship falling apart, not getting into a program you thought you were going to get into or getting laid off from a job, and then starting a business as a result and having that not work out right away or for a long really can't even think of an example where I grew a lot from something and it was just all sunshine and rainbow. Even my exchange year where I lived overseas in high school, the first six months of that were kind of terrible.
[01:09:24] Mark Manson: It's hard. It's hard as sh*t.
[01:09:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You know this. Like you look back on it fondly because you're like, yeah man, I remember and then I got robbed and then I like I couldn't learn the language and then I got lost and I had to spend the night outside. You look at it now and you're like, "Oh, that was fun." But really at the time, it was terrible. It was horrible and you wanted to go home and you're maybe crying and you couldn't sleep at night and you had no friends or whatever it was. Maybe all of those things, especially when you're living abroad, that's the stuff that pushes you through the fire at the end of the day or it is the fire.
[01:09:51] Mark Manson: Yeah, and it's interesting because sometimes I ask people, I say, "Okay, write out like the three happiest moments of your life. Now, write out the three most impactful moments of your life, like the three most influential or defining moments of your life." And it's interesting because for most people it's not the same events on each list. Usually, the happiest events are like my wedding—
[01:10:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:10:13] Mark Manson: —the birth of my child, like whatever. And then the most impactful, it's usually two out of three at least, are extremely painful and difficult experiences.
[01:10:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:10:25] Mark Manson: There's like this constant tension between happiness and meaning. Like, you need a certain amount of struggle and suffering in your life to feel a sense of growth. And that sense of growth leads to a sense of meaning and satisfaction, which ultimately leads to happiness. But you can't just stay at that happiness. You need to go back to the struggle and the challenge so you can get that next sense of growth and you get this cycle going. And so, there's like this constant tension going on in our brains. If you just have all happiness all the time with no struggle or no challenge, it feels empty and meaningless. It feels very pointless. Whereas if you have all struggle and challenge with no happiness and no overcoming, you fall into despair. So you need to kind of like go through the cycle, like find a flywheel, an emotional flywheel of surmountable challenges in your life that can keep the wheel of happiness spinning. I just mixed like four metaphors together.
[01:11:24] Jordan Harbinger: I like it. No, I like, I'm the king of terrible metaphors and people are like, "So the chicken is swimming now, and then you're teaching a man how to fish. I don't, okay."
[01:11:35] Mark Manson: Yeah. Yeah, sure.
[01:11:37] Jordan Harbinger: Plenty of that on the show.
[01:11:37] Mark Manson: Correct.
[01:11:38] Jordan Harbinger: Plenty of that. You're in the right place. You're in good company here.
[01:11:40] I know you've only got a few minutes. I'd love to wrap up, I mentioned the Japanese soldier in the jungle, really interesting non-parable, very true story that is caused by our desire to have certainty as humans. We have time for that, you think?
[01:11:54] Mark Manson: Sure. I mean, I can give the quick version.
[01:11:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:11:57] Mark Manson: And people should google this guy if they haven't. No, they should go see the f*cking movie. That's what they should do.
[01:12:01] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to say, you should probably plug a movie. I don't want to tell you how to do this, this whole media tour thing.
[01:12:06] Mark Manson: So in the movie, you know, we do this really cool animated sequence about Hiroo Onoda, who's a Japanese soldier in World War II and got stranded on a remote island in the Philippines during the war. And so when the war ended, he wasn't aware that the war was finished. And basically, I think, he enlisted when he was 17 years old. His entire adult life, he had spent fighting for the empire. And so when they finally dropped leaflets into the jungle to find the last holdouts of Japanese soldiers, and he saw them saying that the word ended seven, eight years ago, he didn't believe them. He thought it was American propaganda. And he like vowed to keep fighting.
[01:12:45] Jordan Harbinger: And he's in the jungle on what? The Philippines or something like that. Like he's deep in the jungle.
[01:12:48] Mark Manson: Deep in the jungle, and he's like doing gorilla warfare operation. So he's like shooting farmers and peasants and setting fields on fire. Like he's just being a real piece of sh*t for years and years and years. Like we're talking eight, 10 years at this point. So they start sending out search parties looking for him. But he's like so good at hiding. Nobody actually finds him. They even, at one point, they get his brother to come out and start calling and saying, "The war is over. You need to come home." And his immediate thought is, "Wow, the Americans captured my brother."
[01:13:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:13:18] Mark Manson: "They're like using him against me." And so it ended up taking him 27 years to finally come out of the jungle. I think he was the last Japanese holdout and he came out, I think in 1972. And he's fascinating in just how unnuanced of a thinker he was. Like, he went into the war with like a very black and white, "These are the bad guys. I'm the good guy. This is what I'm going to do." And if you're looking at it from a purely productivity point of view, this guy is amazing. Like dude, he fought a war on his own for 27 years, hiding in the jungle. Like that's incredible. Like the amount of motivation, dedication—
[01:13:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it is.
[01:13:56] Mark Manson: —self-assurance, discipline required to do all those things. But because he wasn't mentally flexible enough to take in new information, reconsider his prior assumptions, reconsider his values, what he found important, what he believed to be true, he actually ended up wasting most of his life on this very destructive thing. And so for me, he's like a cautionary tale of like, you can have all the productivity in the world, you can have the best habits in the world. You can have like set out a ton of goals and f*cking knock out those goals every single year. But if you are not aligned with the right values and you're not willing to question and alter those values, as time goes on and as circumstances change, you're going to be lost in the jungle for decades. You're going to waste away decades.
[01:14:41] Jordan Harbinger: See, that was a good metaphor. You can do this, Mark.
[01:14:43] Mark Manson: Yes. Yes. It's almost like—
[01:14:45] Jordan Harbinger: You can do it.
[01:14:46] Mark Manson: It's almost like I'm a writer or something.
[01:14:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah. Wait, look, the beauty of writing is you can just like change it or go like, I need to sit on this until it makes sense. Podcasting, you don't have that luxury man. You're just swimming in the ocean, teaching a man how to fish. Running that last mile alone, or something.
[01:15:03] Mark Manson: Something like that. Yeah.
[01:15:04] Jordan Harbinger: This guy, what was his name again?
[01:15:06] Mark Manson: Hiroo Onoda.
[01:15:07] Jordan Harbinger: It is incredible because he took all of these events and all of these things that were happening, right? The police are after and the military is after him. His own brother is like yelling in a microphone or a loudspeaker through the jungle. They're dropping leaflets. They're trying to find this guy to essentially rescue him, but also to stop him from shooting random farmers and robbing them for no reason because he can go home. He's reframing all of these events to fit the world's view that he is so certain of, right? That the war's still going on, that the Japanese empire is going to prevail versus adjusting his worldview with new information. And it seems like we do this a lot in smaller ways. It's just really obvious to us when somebody's doing it, launching guerrilla warfare in the jungle with their comrades or alone like this guy was. That it's the wrong course of action. But when we do it at work or in our relationships or with our friends or in our home life, it's harder to detect.
[01:15:59] Mark Manson: I love using extreme stories because in extreme like two reasons really. One is extreme stories grab and hold people's attention.
[01:16:08] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:16:08] Mark Manson: But also because the principles in those stories are so clear. You read this story and you think this guy must have been absolutely crazy but what you don't realize is that we all do this to a certain extent. Like how many times in your life have multiple people come to you and said, "Hey man, you're wrong about this. You should change your mind on this." And you're like, "Ah—"
[01:16:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:16:31] Mark Manson: "—he's against me too. Oh man, he's in on it. Like, none of these people get it. They're all lined against me. Maybe they're talking to each other." You know, like, in many ways, it's kind of our instinctual reaction to people who contradict us or challenge us in some ways. And so it's very, very difficult to lower our guard and be willing to ask ourselves like, "Wait a second, am I like this Onoda guy in the jungle right now?"
[01:16:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:16:55] Mark Manson: Like, assuming my brother is being used by a counterintelligence, you know? Or am I the asshole, basically?
[01:17:03] Jordan Harbinger: So instead of looking for certainty, maybe we, what do we do? Look for the doubt.
[01:17:07] Mark Manson: Yeah. I mean, I used that question facetiously a moment ago, but it's actually something I use in my own life a lot when I'm thinking about difficult situations or problems. I always ask, am I the asshole here?
[01:17:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:17:19] Mark Manson: Am I the crazy one? What would it look like if I was the one who's a little bit delusional here? And then I kind of run that thought experiment through my head. And yeah, sometimes you're like, "Yeah, I think, I'm the asshole. I think it's me."
[01:17:32] Jordan Harbinger: Mark Manson, thank you so much. Where can people see the movie? Because this was a question until a few weeks ago, I think that you didn't even know the answer to it.
[01:17:41] Mark Manson: Yeah, that's a whole nother story. So the film is available on-demand streaming services, so Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes.
[01:17:49] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, good.
[01:17:50] Mark Manson: And it should hopefully be coming to a larger streaming platform soon.
[01:17:56] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, YouTube's a decent size streaming platform. Amazon Prime also, I feel like is a reasonable size.
[01:18:01] Mark Manson: I mean like free, you know, like included.
[01:18:02] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, got it. So you are like, "Hey, don't pay for it. Wait until it comes out for free somewhere. Don't just Google the guy. Don't watch my movie." You are really selling it. And NBC is going to love this.
[01:18:14] Mark Manson: It's so good that Universal is not on this call right now.
[01:18:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:18:17] Mark Manson: I don't know why they sat this one out. Maybe because they know we know each other, but yeah, if they were here they'd be like, cut, cut.
[01:18:23] Jordan Harbinger: That's really good. Yeah, you know, I do. Whenever publicists are on the call, I always get an email afterwards, "Can you cut the part about where he just suggested everyone Google it and/or wait for the free version to come out?"
[01:18:33] But, look, it's worth paying a few bucks to see it. I really enjoyed it, man. I'm super happy for your success. I'm proud to be your friend. I'm really, really excited to see this next, your movie career take off. You're going to be in the next Avengers. People don't maybe know that.
[01:18:47] Mark Manson: Yeah.
[01:18:47] Jordan Harbinger: It's not true. But hey, man, really, really happy to talk to you today. I know you're probably going to do a bunch of these, like you said, but I thought this was a lot of fun and I'm going to make up a ridiculous metaphor in the show close to commemorate this experience that we've just had here.
[01:19:02] Mark Manson: Yeah, absolutely, dude. You know, as a wise man once said, "It's the turtle on the pond that wins the fastest slow race."
[01:19:11] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. And then gets stung by that scorpion and says, "It's the early bird gets the worm."
[01:19:18] Mark Manson: And that's why you don't drink and drive.
[01:19:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, exactly, exactly. Nailed it.
[01:19:23] Mark Manson: Yep. Nailed it.
[01:19:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mark Manson, thank you so much.
[01:19:26] Mark Manson: See you, man.
[01:19:29] Jordan Harbinger: We've got a preview trailer of our interview with Navy SEAL and veteran Jocko Willink, like you've never heard him before.
[01:19:35] Jocko Willink: Leadership is the most important on the battlefield. Every characteristic that you can have for a leader can be taken to an extreme, even the most important characteristic that I talk about all the time, which is humility. You've got to be humble as a leader. You've got to always look, okay, how can I improve? Why I need to listen to other people? Well, as a leader, you can actually be too humble where you don't stand up when somebody's telling you to do something that you don't think is right, but you're like, "Hey, I'm humble, so I'm going to do it anyways." Well, if you don't think it's right, you actually shouldn't do it. Every positive characteristic can be taken to the extreme that it becomes a negative. And that is why as a leader, you have to be balanced.
[01:20:11] Jordan Harbinger: Be humble or get humbled is a term that I love. Can you tell us what this means?
[01:20:16] Jocko Willink: The nature of the world is if you're not humble, you are going to get humbled. So that's a good attitude to have and it's a good attitude to always think, you know, I need to stay humble. But, and this is the dichotomy, this doesn't mean that you're completely passive and there are times as humble as you should be, there are times when you need to stand up and say no.
[01:20:41] You know, Leif and I joke about it sometimes, that most we'd get to sleep was when we were in the field. There's a funny picture of myself and Dave Burke on a rooftop. It probably looks like it's about 11 o'clock in the morning, and we're both sitting there. We're both asleep. We're both sitting there—
[01:20:54] Jordan Harbinger: 110 degrees.
[01:20:54] Jocko Willink: It's 110 degrees and we're both asleep and clearly this was the first time we had to rest in 24 or 48 hours. And you learn to sleep anywhere on concrete and floors and stairwells and whatever else.
[01:21:07] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Jocko, including why we should stop being the easy button for those we manage and lead, and the concept of leadership capital, how to build it, when to use it, and when not to use it, check out episode 93 right here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:21:23] Man, there was a lot we could cover in this. Speaking of escapism and travel, there's dissatisfaction wherever you go. Yet our mind keeps dangling the carrot in front of us that real happiness is maybe somewhere else. I personally have a ton of experience with this. I just need to earn more. Okay. Now, I need to have a higher public profile and this isn't something that started even recently once I started to build a business online.
[01:21:44] I mean, I remember when I was in college or even high school being like, oh, when I go on my exchange year to Germany, this is going to be the new me, the new everything. Great. Okay, kind of. Then, I went to college. That was going to be the reinvention. Then, I went to Israel. That was going to be the reinvention. In Egypt, that was a reinvention. Ukraine, that was a reinvention. Mexico, Panama, et cetera, you get the. And it really is a way to kind of run away from yourself and then you find out that you can't because wherever you go, there you are. And it's a truly awful way to live. I think a lot of us are still fighting against this and it's honestly pretty hard sometimes. It goes hand in hand with comparison, comparing yourself to others, the hedonic treadmill, it just never ends. There's nothing that will dissolve dissatisfaction permanently. And that sounds awful, but it's actually kind of a good thing because it does keep us motivated. The problem is when it gets out of control.
[01:22:34] And a lot of you know that Mark wrote Will Smith's autobiography, and I remember him telling me this like the month before it happened or a few months before it happened. We have the same agent, so I had a little bit of a heads up and I was so excited for him. And of course, he's working with this super famous guy. He's got like 30 people buzzing around him at all times. And then, Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars and off-air, I said, "What's your opinion of this? You'd known Will for a while. You wrote a book with him. You know, what's the deal here?" And he said this was the worst side of him and everybody happened to see it. And a lot of us, our worst side, nobody sees it. Maybe your spouse sees it, maybe a few people at work, whatever, get to see it. Rarely, does the whole world see it. And so this is something where a great person, in his opinion, had a really bad moment and it just happened to be in front of millions of people. So, you know, take with that what you will, but a lot of people are going to be like, "Why didn't you ask him about that?" I did. I just did it off.
[01:23:26] One thing that he said was really interesting that I wish we made it in the show was that the one thing that gets scarce as you get rich and famous is trust. Everything else is abundant, right? Money, you don't need it. But even if you did, you could get it in a snap because you're so famous. You could just hawk some product or something to your audience or to your fans. You get a bunch of money. Friends, no problem. Everybody wants to be your friend. Recognition, ego, all that stuff just flying at you, validation all the time. What's rare is trust. So when you get to that level, what you want to optimize for is trust, and that is very difficult to do.
[01:24:00] Anyway, go check out the movie if you're able. There's a lot of good insight there with respect to responsibility, entitlement, comparison. I really enjoyed it, even though I've already read Mark's books already, and of course, talked with him at length about all of these subjects for years and years and years on end. So if you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did, I highly recommend the movie. And of course, if you haven't read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Mark's other books, I highly recommend you grab those as well.
[01:24:23] Links to all things Mark Manson will be on the website in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Check out the ChatGPT bot to surface anything from any episode, including Feedback Friday questions. You can ask it just about anything you want. How do I get a raise at work? How do I make a boundary with my crazy mother-in-law? jordanharbinger.com/ai is where you can find it. It'll also tell you promo codes for any sponsor of the show. Transcripts in the show notes, videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, ways to support the show all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support us. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:25:00] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationship using the same software, systems, and tiny habits that I use every single day. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. There are no upsells. It's not a bunch of crapola trickery to get your card numbers and whatnot, it's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I want you to dig the well before you get thirsty. Build relationships before you need them, and keep them strong over a long period of time, but not spend freaking 20 hours a week doing it. Most of the guests on the show actually subscribe to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[01:25:31] This show is created an association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's a Mark Manson fan, really could use the advice we talked about here on the show, please share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:26:05] Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:26:09] This episode is sponsored in part by the Mea Culpa podcast. Mea Culpa is hosted by Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's fixer, lawyer, right hand for over a decade. He of course, went to prison because he defied his former boss. The Mea Culpa podcast is his redemption tour of sorts. Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen delivers political news, raw and unfiltered. Plus Michael, well, let's just say he's an opinionated guy. Twice weekly, Mea Culpa features the most important people in politics, offering listeners rare insight into what's happening that they can get no place else. His guests are a who's who of politics, media, and beyond, especially on the left, as you might guess — James Carville, Joe Trippy, John Dean, Laurence Tribe, Ari Melber, Joy Reid, Kathy Griffin — oh, she's a fan favorite, isn't she? Congressman Steve Cohen, Elie Honig, Neal Katyal, Norm Eisen, Molly Jong-Fast, Sam Donaldson, Ben Stiller. That's probably a fun one. You never know who's going to show up and what they will say. And if you're on the right, you're probably going to hate this podcast. Don't shoot the messenger here. But hey, if you lean left, do yourself a favor, check out Mea Culpa wherever you get your podcasts. Find it in your favorite podcast app.
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