The Comfort Crisis | Michael Easter on EconTalk with Russ Roberts

Check out the EconTalk episode page and show notes

Key Takeaways

  • What’s wrong with comfort? We have overstepped our boundaries to the point that the combination of more comfort and less risk is becoming counterproductive.
  • Our boredom is often combated with unproductive methods (Cell phone, Netflix, etc.)
    • Boredom should be utilized as an opportunity for your brain to look inward rather than outward
  • Marcus Elliot modern Misogi interpretation – Identify a really physically challenging task with a 50/50 chance of completion
    • When a person does something challenging, they constantly encounter and defeat the edge of their potential
    • Helps analyze the other parts of your life where you’re stopping at the edge
    • Helps rebalance your view on comfort and challenge
    • “Want’s to reintroduce metaphorical tigers back into people’s lives because they’re going to learn something about themselves” Michael Easter quoting Marcus Elliot
  • Recognizing the certainty of eventual death is the most uncomfortable thing you can do but helps you change your experience and interaction with life

Intro

New Book – The Comfort Crisis

  • While many innovations have made our lives easier, it does not come without consequence
  • What’s wrong with comfort?
    • Human evolution has always defaulted to move towards comfort and reduced risk
    • We have overstepped our boundaries to the point that the combination of more comfort and less risk is becoming counterproductive
      • Too much or too little challenge can both be negative. The optimal level of challenges is the low point on a U-shaped curve
    • This is both physically but also mentally/psychologically damaging
      • e.g., Remote jobs have led to fear and anxiety to in-person encounters

Boredom

  • Michael Easter discusses an arctic caribou hunting trip where he was fairly isolated without access to technology
    • Without technology, he found creative ways to distract his brain
    • Responding to everyday distractions, typically with our cell phone regularly isn’t productive
    • We often retreat from boredom – even moving from one screen to another (our phone and TV)
  • Boredom allows your brain to look inward rather than outward
    • You won’t always find good ideas but you’re at least avoiding external influence

Misogi

  • Misogi – Originally, a Japanese Shinto practice of ritual purification by washing the entire body
  • Marcus Elliot:
    • Harvard Med school graduate but didn’t want to be a doctor. Instead, he wanted to revolutionize sports science
    • See his website: Peak Performance Project
  • Marcus Elliot’s modern Misogi interpretation:
    • Rule 1: Identify a really physically challenging task with a 50/50 chance of completion
    • Rule 2: Can’t die
  • When a person does something challenging, they constantly encounter and defeat the edge of their potential
  • Helps analyze the other parts of your life where you’re stopping at the edge
  • Moments to refresh your perspective – helps divert you away from the repetitive auto-pilot mode of your life
    • These are the narratives we remember on our deathbeds
  • “Want’s to reintroduce metaphorical tigers back into people’s lives because they’re going to learn something about themselves” Michael Easter quoting Marcus Elliot
  • Check out professional basketball player, Kyle Korver, Misogi experience with Marcus Elliot and how he applies the experience to his everyday life and profession (link)

Caribou Hunting Trip

  • This was Michael Easter’s Misogi experience. Incredibly rugged and fly-in hunting experience with a hunting guide.
  • After killing the caribou, he felt an incredible rush of both living and depression
    • There is a heavy emotional buy-in to eating meat once you realize what goes into it
    • In order for life to go on, another life form needs to die. We’ve removed ourselves pretty far from this life cycle.
    • Meat magically appears at the grocery store and is presented in a way to disconnect it from where it came from
    • After field dressing the caribou, he went from regret to respect for the process
  • Carrying the heavy meat through the arctic terrain was one of the hardest things Michael has ever done
  • The hunting trip revitalized his perspective on awareness for appreciation, gratitude
    • Michael hates flying but after spending a month in the arctic, he noticed the luxuries surrounding him on the flight back

Death

  • Western culture has moved away from recognizing and appreciating death
    • We often ignore the cliff of death’s existence rather than being aware of our own impermanence
    • Recognizing the certainty of eventual death is the most uncomfortable thing you can do but helps you change your experience and interaction with life
Econtalk : , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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