ben greenfield

Ben Puts His Sons In The Hot-Seat: The Official River & Terran Greenfield Interview | Ben Greenfield Fitness

Key Takeaways

  • There is evidence that humans are dreaming less often less vividly and experiencing less neuronal growth during sleep 
    • This is correlated with increased amounts of screen time leading to the hypothesis that whatever you watch on screens is accepted as your own thought processes and so your thinking is done for you 
  • Five core life skills according to Naval:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Talking
    • Arithmetic
    • Logic
  • The standardized method of education we use worked well during the Industrial Era, but we live in a completely different society now and education should change to reflect what is needed today
  • Ben encourages exercise by natural, animal-like movement 
    • A criticism of just working out at the gym is that it only makes you effective at certain mechanical motions and doesn’t translate into real-world fitness or even longevity
  • “I think that having that single, succinct purpose statement for your life is actually something that is important because that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning, right? In Japan, they call it ikigai. In Sardinia, they call it the plan de vida, like the plan for your life, this idea that when you wake up in the morning, you know what it is that you’re going to do with the life that God has given you.”Ben Greenfield
  • “A man is free to choose his attitude no matter what circumstances he is given in life”
    • Many people have wasted their lockdowns binging Netflix or mindlessly scrolling social media while others have pursued productive endeavors 

Intro

  • Ben officially interviews his twin 12-year-old sons River and Terran on spiritual health, cooking, schooling, and much more
  • Host: Ben Greenfield (@bengreenfield)

Books Mentioned

Screen Time

  • There is evidence that humans are dreaming less often less vividly and experiencing less neuronal growth during sleep 
    • This is correlated with increased amounts of screen time leading to the hypothesis that whatever you watch on screens is accepted as your own thought processes and so your thinking is done for you 
    • Our subconscious basically interprets images on a screen as dreams and thus you have less of a need to naturally dream
  • “When we are parked in front of a box that for thousands of years of human development, humans never would have experienced this box that has all the images, all the sounds in very real life, very similar to what we would have experienced during a dream, but now the dreaming is done for us by a screen” – Ben Greenfield
  • There are no screen time rules at the Greenfield household because his kids already have a healthy relationship with technology
    • Computers and other technologies are wonderful for certain uses but there are also many other productive and captivating activities which you should have a healthy relationship with
      • Just like there’s a balance to be struck between not reading at all and only engaging with life through books, there is a practical balance between not using computers to your advantage and wasting your life in front of a screen

Five Core Life Skills According to Naval

  • Reading
    • The foundation of learning is reading and in today’s age you have the collective knowledge of all mankind available at your fingertips
      • People today lack the desire to learn whereas in the past people lacked the means to learn
    • It’s not enough just knowing how to read, quick readers who are able to absorb more information in the same amount of time are more likely to be successful
  • Talking
    • Being able to talk and communicate one-on-one or to a group in a persuasive and appealing manner will endear yourself to people and change your life
    • Speech is far more effective in imparting emotions and stirring people 
      • Trump’s speeches were far more effective in creating political action than any reading of Plato’s Republic
  • Writing
    • Writing is more durable and far-reaching than speech 
      • The durable nature of writing also allows for a more structured and deeper analysis of ideas
    • Contrary to popular belief, as attention spans decline long-form writing will become more valuable (not strictly in a monetary sense) as fewer people will be able to effectively do it
  • Arithmetic
    • While higher levels of math are infamously impractical, arithmetic and basic algebra are a fact of life we can’t escape found in everything from cost-effective purchasing to taxes
  • Logic
    • Logic doesn’t just include rational thinking, which is powerful in and of itself, but also programming which is the practical application of logic
    • Programming isn’t just a get-rich tool; programming will make life much easier whenever working with a computer which is more often than not nowadays

Unschooling

  • Unschooling is experiential-based education that has some elements of a formal education
    • “You are learning from an instructor, but then you are surrounded by a lot of activities that dad gives you, whether it’s calculating the tip at a restaurant, or building a tree fort, or cooking in the kitchen and doing volume metrics and calculations in the kitchen” – Ben Greenfield
    • This method of teaching ensures children understand the direct application of what they learn in theory
  • The standardized method of education we use worked well during the Industrial Era, but we live in a completely different society now and education should change to reflect what is needed today
    • “You can have a computer do a lot of these rote, repetitive calculations for you. And arguably, that frees up human beings to engage in more creative tasks.” – Ben Greenfield
  • Experiential learning encourages creative exploration whereas formal education encourages rote specialization
    • This method is similar to the education of aristocrats in historical civilizations where formal lessons (especially in the younger years) were combined with the exploration of personal passions
  • There are still many benefits to a liberal arts education and “unschooling” doesn’t mean you can’t also study the classics like Plato or Seneca

Fitness

  • River and Terran take Pomodoro breaks every 30 minutes during the school day in order to do something active like pushups or jumping jacks just to get the blood flowing 
  • Something to learn from children is to not differentiate between play and exercise. Exercise is a joyful experience that fills you with life. 
    • Too often is exercise portrayed by society as something to be dreaded or something unpleasant
  • Ben encourages exercise by natural, animal-like movement 
    • A criticism of just working out at the gym is that it only makes you effective at certain mechanical motions and doesn’t translate into real-world fitness or even longevity
    • A leg press machine won’t ensure hip strength when you’re old 
  • Breathwork, while not formal exercise, is also very effective in bodily health and functioning 
    • “It’s a natural freeway to be able to control stress versus popping some pill or taking some anti-anxiety medication”Ben Greenfield

Food

  • Ben’s children avoid processed foods and stick to organic foods
    • In regards to supplements, they take fish oil, glutathione, and a supplement designed to foster a healthy gut microbiome
      • Standard probiotics are largely ineffective as the foreign bacteria die rapidly inside you
  • Food used to be an intimate part of culture which has been largely commercialized
    • Things like family recipes, eating dinner together, and having an intimate connection to your ingredients are becoming rarer 
    • How many people today could survive without professionally prepared food?
  • Cooking advice the twins received from a French chef:
    • Good, quality meat requires less seasoning and overall complexity in cooking as too many ingredients will only mask the flavor of the meat
    • Clean your cooking space in the down-time while waiting for dishes to finish as it more efficient and less stressful

Spiritual Health

  • Ben’s children read the Bible upon waking up every day and have a 5-10 minute family meditation session
    • “I usually go through the day, at least once or twice, and just look at nature or just pray to God” – Terran Greenfield
  • Terran and River also study a spiritual disciplines handbook for Christian spiritual education and journal nightly
    • “You’re able to see where you rose to the occasion and where you could have done better. So, you learn from both your successes and your failures with that nightly practice of self-examination.” – Ben Greenfield
  • “I think that having that single, succinct purpose statement for your life is actually something that is important because that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning, right? In Japan, they call it ikigai. In Sardinia, they call it the plan de vida, like the plan for your life, this idea that when you wake up in the morning, you know what it is that you’re going to do with the life that God has given you.”Ben Greenfield

Thoughts on COVID

  • “I think some of it’s good like you get more family and you get to be with your family more and you get to have just more togetherness. And then, some of it, I feel like it’s just people staying home and just watching TV or watching news.” – River Greenfield
    • “A man is free to choose his attitude no matter what circumstances he is given in life. And so, if we choose to play instruments, and play board games, and buy new board games, and be happy, and read more books, and just take this time as a chapter in our lives to grow together as a family or to pursue interests that we might have been too busy or too distracted to pursue without being, say, stuck at home, it is what you make of it.” – Ben Greenfield
  • The main lesson the Greenfields have learned from COVID is the importance of family
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