James Beshara: Mental Health is Wealth – Paradox Podcast

Key Takeaways

  • Whatever you’re going through, try to remember that things are happening for you, not to you
    • With an attitude like this, life’s harsh experiences become much easier to wrap your head around
  • Think about mental health through a preventative lens and view it like anything else you’d invest in
  • Mental wealth starts with getting good quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and managing stress
    • Sleep: Wake up EVERY morning at the same time
    • Diet: Limit alcohol intake and eat more whole foods
    • Exercise: Aim for strenuous aerobic activity at least 3x a week
    • Stress Management: Meditate and practice the art of under-committing
  • The most important cultural trend happening right now is podcasting
  • You can’t fight 100 battles at once
    • Great things are accomplished by picking ONE problem and spending DECADES trying to solve it

Intro

From Tilt to Creator Psychologist

  • On building and selling Tilt:
    • “I did all these things I wouldn’t come within 10 miles of doing again with my next company. I made all these mistakes and went through this painful process… I just wanted to help prevent this from happening to other people as much as possible.” – James Beshara
      • Just how bad did things get?
        • “There were moments where I was breaking down in tears in the bathroom of my wife’s parent’s house. I couldn’t stand up and was thinking, ‘What the hell is happening? How will I get through this?'”
      • But James always kept a positive outlook, and always tried to keep the mindset that things were happening for him, not to him
        • “Many of us go to the gym to put our muscles through voluntary stress on purpose. Why not put your spirit through stress so you can build up some muscle there as well?”
  • After selling Tilt, James was left with some options, and he knew he wanted to start helping founders navigate their creative journeys
    • A few years later, the Below the Line podcast was born

Mental Health is Wealth

  • Mental health issues run in James’ family
    • At age 15, his sister took her own life
      • “I was the one that found her, and it was obviously a tragic experience for our entire family, and for me personally. I couldn’t sleep for two years. I had to sleep with the lights on. It was a really tough time.” – James Beshara
      • “It felt like it was one of many different things that happened for me, not to me. Asking that question, ‘How can this be something that is happening for me?’ really stretches your imagination.”
        • With an attitude like this, life’s harsh experiences become much easier to wrap your head around
    • To add, James has had multiple family members hospitalized with mental health issues. He’s also gone through several bouts of depression himself. 
  • Nowadays, people tend to only think about mental health when things go south
    • Instead, we need to have a preventative lens, rather than an acute treatment lens
    • View mental health like anything else you’d invest in 

James’ Mental Health Toolbox

  • Firstly, check out James’ new book – Beyond Coffee
    • “It’s a light encyclopedia of nootropics, adaptogens, and mushrooms – things beyond just coffee. That’s our productivity diet in America – 5 coffees a day.” – James Beshara
    • A cool tidbit from the book: Turmeric is about as powerful as Prozac when it comes to its anti-depressive properties
      • Not to mention, it’s an excellent anti-inflammatory agent
  • Take care of your sleep, diet, exercise, and stress management
    • “I view it like a pyramid. Sleep is the most important foundation. You can do everything else, even meditate 5 hours a day, but if you’re sleeping 2 hours a night, you’re going to mess with your ability to be useful and enjoy life.”James Beshara
    • Sleep: Wake up EVERY morning at the same time
    • Diet: Cut out alcohol (or at least limit your intake to ~4 drinks/week)
      • Research shows that alcohol significantly impairs sleep quality (anything over a single drink before bed equates to losing ~30 minutes of sleep)
      • Also, eat more whole foods
    • Exercise: Do strenuous aerobic exercise at least 3x a week for 15 minutes 
      • This increases blood flow, which has a whole host of benefits
      • Exercise is also a great way to stimulate the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response
    • Stress Management: Do what you can – yoga, meditation, you name it
      • Also, practice the art of under-committing
  • “I view my mental wealth by how well I’m able to get into a productive groove.” – James Beshara

Don’t Listen to the Stories

  • Especially with startups, the stories surrounding their creations are mostly myths constructed selectively using only preferable facts
    • As comparison is the thief of joy, people then compare themselves and their own journeys to these narratives, leading to misery
    • So many entrepreneurs quit or feel down about themselves because “we’re not worth a billion dollars 8 months in like Instagram was” without knowing the REAL story

So what can we do?

  • The interest in the truth will create the supply
  • “I think there’s going to bull market on truth in this next decade, in stark contrast to this last decade filled with filters, polished stories, and fake news” James Beshara
    • People are sick and tired of the nonsense – a viral wave of truth is coming

The Podcasting Industry

  • “The most important cultural trend happening right now is podcasting… I think it’s the most important thing in the world right now. Over the next 50 years, we have a lot of big problems we need to solve. It’s going to require a vastly improved collective consciousness, and there isn’t a better tool for the job than being able to hear these types of in-depth conversations while you’re on your way to work, working out, or doing the dishes. While you’re doing other things, you get to hear one expert talk to another FOR FREE… To solve these problems, we need to confront our own ignorance, and there’s no better way to do that than listening to smart people on podcasts.” James Beshara
    • We NEED long-form conversations to solve the BIG problems
  • “I don’t think there’s a part of life, whether career, health, hobbies, or spirituality, that’s not going to be impacted by podcasting” James Beshara
    • Just think: the threshold to consume a podcast is SO LOW, especially compared to buying a book and sitting down for 10+ hours to read it
  • “Podcasts are going to, incrementally, day by day, change our collective consciousness” – James Beshara

You Don’t Know What You Want

  • As Alan Watts preaches, people don’t know what they want for one of two reasons:
    • Firstly, there is no static you – you’re different day by day and constantly changing
    • Or, we don’t know what we want because we already have it
      • Therefore, instead of pursuing…. observe

Problem-Solving

  • People go about solving problems the wrong way
    • “You can’t fight 100 battles at once. Anyone who’s been in a startup realizes you can’t even fight 10. Focus on the task at hand.” James Beshara
    • Stop worrying about 99 things – the universe will take care of most of them
      • Instead, stay in your area of competency and spend your time worrying about the ONE problem you really care about
  • Ask yourself: “What’s the ONE problem area that I really want to deeply understand before I jump into a solution?”
    • Then: “Put 20 years on a problem you REALLY care about, maybe 30, and just focus on that ONE thing” – James Beshara
  • To get an idea of what James is talking about, look up a few Times Magazine cover stories from the early 1980s
    • “The existential threats that they would put on the cover, none of them are problems anymore” – James Beshara

The Best Advice James Ever Received

  • Wake up at the same time every morning
    • This is, without a doubt, the best sleep “hack” out there

Additional Notes

  • “It’s written in our DNA to want to create” – James Beshara
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