Podcast by The Art of Manliness
Do You want to Be Rich or Wealthy? (And Why the Difference Matters)
When we think about finance, we typically think about numbers and math. My guest today, however, argues that doing well with money is less about what you can put on a spreadsheet and more about what goes on in your mind, and that if you want to master personal finance, you've got to understand how things like your own history, unique view of the world, and fear and pride influence how you think.
Why We Get Sick
Cancer. Alzheimer's. Heart disease. Diabetes. Infertility. While these prevalent and dreaded diseases are caused by multiple factors, my guest says they also all share a common thread: a ubiquitous and too-little-understood condition called insulin resistance.
The Confucian Gentleman
When you think about the word "gentleman," you probably think about the kind of well-mannered, well-educated, civil, virtuous, self-controlled fellows who lived in England and America during the 19th century.
But there was also a not-entirely-dissimilar conception of the gentleman that grew out of the East, though it arose quite a bit longer ago. This gentleman was described by the Chinese philosopher Confucius in a text called the Analects, which my guest says might be thought of as a 2,500-year-old set of advice columns for those who aspire to be exemplary individuals. His name is Robert LaFleur, and he's a professor of history and anthropology and the lecturer of the Great Courses course, Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius. Today on the show Robert talks about how the Analects are all about learning to rule, and that Confucius believed that you couldn't lead a state, without being able to lead your family, and you couldn't lead a family, without being able to lead yourself. Robert argues that the Analects teach the reader how to integrate the kind of character traits and relational skills that are required to "get good at life," and how this aptitude centrally rests on living with a quality called "consummate conduct." Robert discusses the importance of what he calls "all-in" learning to the Confucian gentleman, the nuance to the idea of filial piety that Westerners typically miss, and the often overlooked check on this hierarchical dynamic called "remonstrance." We end our conversation with why Confucius so heavily emphasized the importance of ritual, and how rituals hold a transformative power that can allow you to become something bigger than yourself.
Connect With Robert LaFleur
Robert's Blog: Round and Square
Robert's Faculty Page at Beloit College
Do You Need to Take a Dopamine Fast?
Her name is Anna Lembke and she's Chief of Stanford's Addiction Medicine Clinic and the author of the book Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in an Age of Indulgence. At the start of our conversation, Anna unpacks the definition of addiction, why she believes it applies equally well to substances like drugs as behaviors like using porn, and how it exists on a spectrum from the serious and severe to the mild and minor. Anna explains why life in our comfortable, pleasure-filled modern society is increasing the problem of addiction, and argues that the reason we're so miserable is that we're working so hard to avoid being miserable. She then digs into the science of why we become addicted to substances and behaviors and how it all comes down to our mind and body trying to seek balance between pleasure and pain. We discuss dopamine's role in this seesaw dynamic and how the substances and technologies of modernity can lead to a dopamine deficit.
We then walk through the process of getting a handle on your addiction, including the importance of doing a dopamine fast, and how long the fast needs to last to be effective. Anna shares tactics for sticking through this abstinence period, which include, counterintuitively, intentionally seeking out pain. She explains why a dopamine fast can help you rebalance your brain, what comes after it's over, and much more.
Check out the show notes at aom.is/dopaminenation
Resources Related to the Podcast
Prohibition Worked Better Than You Think
What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits
Brown and Shuckit's research on alcohol use and depression
Nora Volkow's research on dopamine and addiction
AoM Podcast #708: Overcoming the Comfort Crisis
Sunday Fireside: Lash Yourself to the Mast
Sunday Firesides: Shame Is a Gift
4 Lessons From a 4-Week Social Media Fast
Connect with Anna Lembke
What the Labors of Hercules Can Teach You About Life and Masculinity
You're probably familiar with the mythological tale of Hercules (or "Heracles" as the hero was originally called) from books, comics, and movies. But while Hercules is often rendered as a kind of one-dimensional superhero in popular culture, my guest today argues that he's actually quite a complex character, and that the story of how he completed twelve epic labors has a lot to teach us about endurance, revenge, mental illness, violence, punishment, trauma, bereavement, friendship, love, and masculinity.
His name is Laurence Alison, and he's a forensic psychologist and an expert in interrogation, who's created a written and oral retelling of the classic myth. At the start of the show, Laurence shares how he's been using the story of the twelve labors of Hercules to facilitate reflection and discussion amongst military personnel and first responders, and how the labors can provide life insights for everyone. We then dig into the details of many of the labors of Hercules, from slaying a lion to cleaning out stables, and discuss what they can teach us about grappling with life's highs and lows, and what it means to be a man.
Resources Related to the Podcast
Our last podcast with Laurence about what he's learned from his work in interrogation about building rapport
AoM Podcast #660: The Theater of War With Bryan Doerries
AoM Series on Greek Mythology
AoM Manvotional: The Choice of Hercules
Find Laurence Alison's Hercules Retellings
The Heracles Project on the Grand Truth website
Direct access to the oral retelling of the labors of Hercules (this is an audio experience with music, sound effects, illustrations, and guided interpretative diary exercises)
Print copies of Laurence's written, illustrated retelling of the labors, as well as a novella Laurence wrote on the entire life of Hercules, are available to purchase by contacting Andrew Richmond. You can get a feel for the former book here.
How to Get Time, Priorities, and Energy Working in Your Favor
When you think of your assets, you probably think of your money. But you also have three other hugely important assets at your disposal too: your time, energy, and priorities. When you manage these assets poorly, you can feel overwhelmed and scattered and yet unproductive and unfulfilled. When you manage them well, things in your personal and professional life click, and you experience traction and satisfaction.
How do you avoid the first situation and achieve the second? My guest today, Carey Nieuwhof, provides answers in his book At Your Best: How to Get Time, Priorities, and Energy Working in Your Favor. We begin our conversation with Carey's story of achieving success, only to suffer burnout, and how burnout has become less of a job problem these days than a general life problem. We then talk about how to leave what Carey calls the "stress spiral" and get into the "thrive cycle." We discuss the two mental shifts you need to make to better manage your time, how to keep other people (and yourself) from hijacking your priorities, the power of categorical decision-making in separating the good from the best, and why you need to put even your personal commitments on your calendar. We also talk about scheduling your daily tasks into what Carey calls your green, yellow, and red energy zones, and how to spend your time more strategically.
You’re always the podcast I turn to escape from the socio-political world that seems to close in around us. Rarely have you guests who espouse politics. I appreciate your unique curriculum of topics. It’s eclectic and interesting.
I loved this episode, especially the info on where to start and simple things we can do to connect to nature without being able to live in the wilderness.
Manly? Yes. But I like it too!
Years ago took a test designed show where people fall on a spectrum between things we think of as feminine and things we think of as masculine. Now before every one goes nuts, the thing that was interesting about it was that it measured traits like agreeableness, and physical traits but there was also a cultural component. It asked things like, do you know how to sew on a button, or can you change a tire. I scored as trending masculine, I think because I know how to do things like changing tires and the names of certain tools.
My kids and all their friends tested neutral. This was mainly because, I think, there are certain things that haven’t been passed down, maybe because we just go to YouTube or expect someone else to do it. There’s a generation of people who don’t know how to make small talk or how to make friends, or how to spot someone at the gym.
This podcast is always engaging, sensible and it fills that gap, addressing things we didn’t know we needed to know. My teenaged sons like it and I like it, even though some of the stuff isn’t relevant to me.
It’s a good podcast.