#057 Best bits of 2023

#057 Best bits of 2023

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Episode Transcript

The transcript is computer generated. There may be errors.

Hi, everyone. Welcome to how to live a podcast that explores ways to live a good life. I'm your host, Sharad Lal. This is episode 57. 

As 2023 draws to a close and the holiday season is about to start. I extend warm wishes to you and your loved ones for rejuvenating break 

in this special episode. highlighting some of the wisdom shared by our inspirational guests throughout the year. From the profound learnings of yoga by Travis Elliot. Two stoic philosophy of William Irvine. From the beauty of Wabi Sabi from Beth Kempton to ancient Vedic wisdom of Anand Mehrotra. From insights around psychology and Buddhism from Dr. Kristin Neff. Two learnings from corporate leaders on purpose, burnout, emotions, and the journey to become a CEO. Severe really thrilled to bring all these timeless insights together and hope you find as much inspiration in them as we have. Now, sit back, relax and immerse yourself in this treasure trove of wisdom.

Travis Eliot: the world, isn’t made of atoms. It's made of stories and from the very origin in the very beginning of humanity. It's all about the story. and that's why the greatest teachers that have ever watched Planet Earth have used story. And metaphor poems analogy as a way to take somebody from one level of consciousness to a whole other level of consciousness.

 So a lot of times when you're suffering and things don't feel right, they don't feel right in your guts. Things just seem to be falling apart. Nothing's clicking. A lot of times that's indicative that you've gone off the path. When you're on the path of dharma and purpose and wisdom. It's not that the challenges necessarily go away, but you feel through it all that you have.

The support of the universe behind your back and that even though you may need to climb up the mountains and move through the adversity of certain weather patterns, that you will be able to persevere because you're doing it from a deeper place and you're doing it for the benefit of other people.

Avivah: I think there's an old map of life that is three stages.

You get educated, you work, you retire. So, That wasn't really working it's no longer three parts. It's a four-part dance. Where Q q1 I, I, I did a little wink to the corporate world and their constant insistence on quarters and Wall Street reporting.

Q1 is basically where we grow and learn. Q2 is the first part of early adulthood, 25 to 50 where we usually tend to achieve and do what is expected of us by our families and cultures. Q3 is the 25 years after 50, which I think is the new piece gifted to us by these longer lives. We basically have an extra 25 or 30 years over the past half century added to our life expectancy.

I think the exciting part of this new Q3 is what it offers us is a mature adulthood. Where we still have incredible health and energy if we're lucky, but we're building on Q2 on a whole foundation of knowledge, expertise, relationships, family construction. But I think the secret of Q3 is to really become.

Who we might have always wanted to be, but got a little sidetracked by some of the obligations of q2. I think that's especially true for women who are juggling a lot of family and work and parental care. Q3 offers an opportunity to be a little post some of those things. And discover who one is, 

And I think that's an enormous opportunity of time and exploration, and I think that's the goal of q3. For me, it's becoming,

Dean Tong: I remember going to the hospice volunteering my service.

I told them that, I have been trained as a consultant, and people do pay quite bit money, to get my services in the past. Like to volunteer my service here. Now if there's anything I can do the person at the hospice actually look at me and say, actually, we don't quite need the kind of sophisticated services , but if you can, cut the hair of our patient now, that would be good. I was at the stage of signing up at chemo. I remember I was at marina Parade there is a ish, has long academy, I took the brochure, I was about to sign up, and it just struck me that this is not my comparative advantage. Probably many of the patients will suffer from my bad had cut I, my, my time could actually be better spent. Elsewhere to leverage the skill set that I have. So when this opportunity came about, I look at it not just as a job, but also as a platform for me to make the difference within the organization and also a broader setting as well to the community.

 Compassion is difficult when someone wronged you, but this story from Mr. Goenka, the man who popularized vina, the 10 day retreat might help. A big man was beating up someone half his size. An onlooker feels sorry for the victim, but he feels even more sorry for the big man. Imagine what this man must be going through inside his mind to commit such a gly act. That's what compassion is. It's a feeling, it's not intellectual. You could also use techniques that the great Del Lama suggests to find compassion. close your eyes. Imagine the person's face. Zoom in and look deeply. Isn't he like anyone else? He wants to be happy. He wants to find peace. He's like any other human being In other ways to imagine them as a baby, young and innocent, who like everyone else, wants to find happiness

Maggie: I get a little bit worried when people say I'm just toughening them up. Actual fact that doesn't build resilience. Am I going to give my kids an opportunity to experience disappointment?

 do they feel secure and safe in that core relationship? We know that is the number one protective factor for every human. Do I have at least one person who loves me unconditionally, who I can lean on? That is the number one thing to resilience, which isn't what you necessarily hear. I'm gonna tell you the most powerful way in that moment that you can support your teen. And that is a gesture of kindness. I had the same with one of my fiery sons. 20 minutes. I always left at 20 minutes before I went down. I knocked always knock on your teens door, remember it's their boundary and it's respecting them. And then I opened the door and I said nothing. I would've, there were a few words that would, I said nothing cuz I can remember being that child.

I gave them a cup of hot chocolate, shoved a couple of home baked cookies in and shoved the dog in. Then shut the door because I wanted my son to know that even though that's all happened, we are still okay because that's what they have to know. Can you still love me when I can't love myself and I behave in a way that even I don't understand?

Jim Lafferty: Andy Roddick, is a winner. He won the US Open once he was at the top of the world. But a Feder or a Nadal or a Djokovich or Champions, they won it over 20 times. There was a study done by Sports Illustrated in the US in late eighties that I consider a landmark study they tried to figure out what's the difference? the most important factor they found, which I just found fascinating, it was life changing, is a concept called sense for the historic.

 What are the historic moments of my life that may never happen again, I'm not failing. I'm going to be perfect.

a guy goes to the doctor and he is not feeling well, and the doctor runs the test and the doctor sits him down and says, look I got some bad news.

You, you got lung cancer, you have lung cancer and you know you're overweight, you're smoking, you don't eat right and this is going to get you because it's like already spreading into lymph nodes and other organs and you compete it, but you've gotta like completely change your life. in my view, that's a sense for the historic moment.

 Either you decide that day to get your act together and eat right

And put the cigarettes aside and change everything about you and say, I wanna live for my kids. Or you say, I don't know, I'll just do the medicine and I'll go through chemo and I'll do what I gotta do, but you can't take away my pizza. You're not gonna take away my, beer. You're not gonna take away my SIGs. I enjoy this stuff. I wanna live my life. I wanna enjoy my life. They end up dead. You know, you have to decide the most important moments of your life. And when failure's not an option.

That's sense for the historic. It's not in everybody. but we're all capable of it. We're all capable of it in our life, and it's recognizing the moments in life when there is no plan B.

Beth: it's worth just spending some time wherever you are in your life thinking about this idea that nothing lasts. Nothing lasts. So what does that mean for you? What does it mean for what you want to pay extra attention to right now? What does it mean for what you are wasting your energy on? in the grand scheme of things, it absolutely doesn't matter.

And what does it mean to realize that it's all gonna end someday? Anything that we worry about in life, for example, it matters immensely to us in that moment because somebody we know is in pain or whatever it is that's causing us to think about that. But it also generally doesn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things, and especially when in a cosmic timeline it matters not one second.

 Thinking about this kind of zooming out and zooming in on your life can really help you focus on what matters and let go of what doesn't. So life just becomes a little bit kinder, a little bit easier. And just less heavy.

William Irvine: if you're not controlling yourself, who is you've got one life to live and you really want to spend that life with someone or something else in control of the one life you have to live.

So self-control is basically keeping your rational component in the driver's seat. Yeah, you got emotions, put 'em in the back seat. They can make suggestions, but they can't get their hands on the steering wheel. And you're the one who decides where you're headed in life.

 I describe stoic training, where you go out of your way to do things that are gonna make you uncomfortable as a kind of preparation for what can happen in life.

You have a biological immune system, so by exposing yourself to germs, you build up your body's ability to fight off germs. If you never experience germs, you are in big trouble because then the smallest little exposure can be can be fatal to you. You also have a psychological immune system.

So if all you know is smooth and easy life without challenges, then the smallest thing is gonna make you absolutely miserable. Whereas if you're used to physical discomfort or mental discomfort of various ways, then you're gonna somewhat immunize yourself to it

Dr. Kristin Neff: it's better to judge yourself positively than to judge yourself negatively.

But why do you judge yourself positively? That's the problem. a lot of people judge their worth based on being better than others, being special and above average, it's very comparative or it's contingent. They judge themselves positively when they look the way they want to look. or when other people like them or when they succeed at something important to them.

And so it's a fair weather friend. It's only there for you in the good times when things are going well, but what happens when you know you fail, you make a mistake or people reject you. I was experiencing the difference between self esteem that I was studying and self compassion that I was Experiencing because compassion is 

You're with yourself with warmth and care and support. And so I realized that self compassion was like a, was a really good, more stable friend.

It was always there for you, whether you succeeded or failed. the sense of worth that comes from self compassion doesn't depend on anything. It just comes from being a flawed human being, which you always are, right? so actually the first paper I wrote on self compassion I positioned it as an alternative to self esteem.

I think it was titled, Self compassion, a healthier alternative people naturally feel that by calling themselves names and being harsh and really cold, that it'd be so painful. That they won't do it again, and again, that's this understandable.

But what the research shows is first of all, it does work. but it doesn't work as effectively as compassion because compassion doesn't say, Oh, don't worry about it, that's not compassionate.

compassion can give some very clear, even tough, honest feedback.

Anand Mehrotra: you can either live this life 

as a battle, or you can live 

this life as a play. Now, if you have access to a field of love, then you can begin to live this life. as a play. And the great thing about play is you don't have to 

always win. The reward of play is in playing. Remember as kids, when you played just wanted it was just fun playing. 

 It leads to a more sustainable life because you are naturally more joyous 

in the here and now. And so you're more creative. But that creativity is not a curse anymore. That creativity is freeing. But otherwise, we find creativity becomes a curse. Because we finally cannot rest in peace. Flow can only happen.

When there is a state of self forgetfulness right, there is a radical sense 

of presence and anybody who has access flow state in any specific domain 

of activity, they will come out and telling that when you get into that

flow state, everything clicks and you have a sense of 

effortless ease, There is a magical thing happening, but You feel

it's not you who is doing it. It's happening through you. And so we can have a whole life designed around that,

not just trying to access flow in very specific domains of activity, but a life of flow, a life of unity. And when you are accessing that in your life, you actually are more productive.

You are more creative. You have a vision, a life of a visionary. And you have short term goals, you fulfill them elegantly,

Brenda Bence: Let's talk about peers. Now peers are interesting. The higher up you get, too many leaders see peers as competition.

My peers in my competition, I better elbow them, right? And push them out of the way and prove that I'm better than them. I worked with a CEO, recently had this exact issue when he got, he's on his way to CEO, he's in the C suite and he, that's one of the things people are calling him out for, he's too competitive with his peers.

And I, it took a little bit of reminding him that. Eventually, those peers are going to be one of two things. They're either going to be your boss, or it's going to be your direct report. So if you've had a combative, competitive relationship with them, how is that going to turn out, right? So really building relationships at those higher levels is so key.

We tend to focus more on tasks, getting things done so we can show that we've achieved, but actually at the higher ends. The relationships are what's foundationally important.

 my boss had told me and this other person who both stepping up to become an Asia co-head that there was only one spot. And so one of us had to give it up. And I think through a difficult process of self-reflection prayer and, the support of my wife. I was able to let that go. That promotion go and offer my colleague. To go first. that's another form of delayed gratification because what was more important to me at the time was that we became stronger, closer, more trusted partners in the future endeavors that we'll do together as co-heads. It was important because that was a friendship that I valued very much. And as a result. In the end it was a painful process, but I was able to do it and overcome it. 

And that put me in a good position to succeed even more over the longterm. And I gained a friend and a trusted partner and a supporter. Also when I was alpha promotion for the CEO, he was very supportive. So all those things, I think things that I learned and experienced and. That's what aligns the value and the purpose with the work that I do day to day.

 let's go to the stoic philosophers.

 They were known for their practicality, they approach death with the mindset of Memento. Morri. Remember that we will die. We talked about strikes, always looking at what they can control and focusing on that. That's how they looked at death, and they felt that while they cannot control death itself, they can control their thoughts and attitudes towards it they believed that by regularly reflecting on our own mortality, we can not only normalize this concept, but our perspective also changes. We realize the importance of living in the present moment, understanding that we have limited time and ensuring that we live a good life

 Seneca expressed this idea very well. He said, it's not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Hope all the few enjoyed revisiting these nuggets of wisdom. As an action step we could consider taking one insight. And seeing what it can do for us. Maybe this insight is around stories and how they are even more powerful than frameworks. How can we bring it to work or life to inspire and influence? Maybe it's something around self-compassion. Or maybe laying the seeds for the third quarter of life. Reflecting on impermanence. Or thinking about those sense of historic moments of life. It could be any of these or anything else. 

Let's take a moment and see. How this can be brought into our life. Best of luck. Wish you and your family, a wonderful break. The next episode will drop in the new year on January 2nd. Please do join us for that. Till next time. Have a wonderful day ahead. Bye-bye.

Here is an action step all of us could consider. How do we receive emotions? Whether it's at work or in personal life. When someone comes with a deep emotion to us. How do we do it now? Do we judge? Do we want to roll it under the carpet? Do we start giving needless advice? How can we do it with respect?

Let's spend some time thinking about this. Best of luck. I hope you enjoyed this episode. The next episode will drop two weeks from now on December 19th. Do join us for that. Did next time have a wonderful day ahead. Bye bye.