The Naval Podcast, Hosted By Naval Ravikant & Babak Nivi: Season 2 – The Practical Philosophy of Health and Happiness (All Episodes)

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This is a master post featuring the Key Takeaways from season 2 of Naval Ravikant’s (@naval) podcast series, co-hosted with Babak Nivi (@nivi). We’ll update this post regularly as new episodes drop.

The Path to Peace is Truth | Episode 15

(Audio coming soon)

  • It’s easier to get rid of bad habits once you discover the truth
    • Say you’re trying to quit smoking: Once you get diagnosed with lung cancer, or see a friend die due to lung complications—once you “see” these truths, it’s easier to drop the habit
  • “Understanding and seeing things changes organically in a way that pure practice and technique cannot” – Naval Ravikant
    • When you’re practicing and trying to do something, there’s always a gap between you and the goal—there’s always a conflict & struggle
  • “If we want peace, then one of the things we have to give up on is self-conflict. We even have to give up on self-improvement, because self-improvement is just a dressed-up form of self-conflict.”Naval Ravikant
  • The path to change: use curiosity to understand things better. Then, through understanding, you naturally improve.
    • “Once we truly understand the effects of unhealthy food on our body—when we see the extra weight we’re carrying, when we can track the glucose spike and crash and notice how we physically feel worse after eating too much sugar, when we see how caffeine hops us up and then crashes us down at the end of the night—then we automatically change for the better.”

Groups Search for Consensus, Individuals Search for Truth | Episode 14

  • “What society wants for you is not what’s always good for you. Society is the largest group, and groups search for consensus; individuals search for truth.”Naval Ravikant
  • Common societal lies:
    • “Money won’t make you happy”
      • Money DOES get rid of many sources of unhappiness
    • “You send your kids to school for education”
      • NOPE. Education is only a small part of school.
      • “School is a combination of a small bit of education, a large dose of socialization, a large dose of compliance training, and a massive dose of babysitting” – Naval Ravikant
  • Society programs you to beat yourself up when you go against a societal truth. One example of this: guilt:
    • “Guilt is society’s voice speaking in your head. Guilt is society programming you so effectively that you become your own warden.”Naval Ravikant

The Closer You Are to Truth, the More Silent You Become Inside | Episode 13

Happiness is Peace in Motion | Episode 12

  • “Stress is an inability to decide what’s important. You want two incompatible things at once.” – Naval Ravikant
    • For instance, if you want to relax but also need to get some work done, stress arises
  • “When you give up on something, it’s no longer stressful. When you accept that something’s out of your control, there’s no point in getting stressed about it.” – Naval Ravikant
  • All things equal, a more peaceful mind creates a happier person
    • “Peace is happiness at rest; happiness is peace in motion”Naval Ravikant
  • No activity will get you to piece; peace is, fundamentally, inactivity—the sense that everything’s fine (and when everything’s okay, you’re not making physical or mental activity to try and change it)
    • “Peace isn’t something that can be directly achieved. You cannot work towards peace, but you can work towards understanding.” Naval Ravikant
    • “When you understand certain things, when you learn certain things, when you’re convinced of certain things, and when they become a deep part of you, then you naturally become a more peaceful person.” – Naval Ravikant

Finding Peace from Mind | Episode 11

  • You don’t really want happiness; you want peace
    • “We say peace of mind, but what we really want is peace from mind”Naval Ravikant
  • “The moments of greatest pleasure—whether from doing a drug, having an orgasm, kite-surfing, laughing with a friend, or looking at some incredible sunset—your mind goes quiet. The mind calms down. That voice in your head, where you’re talking to yourself, goes silent. You go into a sense of awe, bliss, beauty, joy, or pleasure.”Naval Ravikant
    • EVERYONE seeks this—peace from mind
  • “The mind is a very useful tool, but somewhere along the way, it became an uncontrollable tool. It became a master rather than a servant.” – Naval Ravikant
  • “Our mind evolved to be paranoid, fearful, and angry. We are the most paranoid and angry creatures ever to walk this earth.” – Naval Ravikant
    • Think about it: historically, nature rewarded pessimism (the people who survived were those who were much more careful and risk-averse)
    • But, given that modern society is much safer, it’s okay to dial down this anger/paranoia: “The threat level is not as high as our genes think it is”

Breaking Addiction is Socially Unacceptable | Episode 10

  • If you regularly drink alcohol or smoke weed, you probably look forward to the events in which you get to partake (i.e., parties, hanging out with friends at a bar, etc.)
    • Naval’s advice: Resolve not to drink or smoke weed during that next event (this won’t be easy, and you’ll likely stop looking forward to it)
  • “Breaking addiction is very hard, not just because you have to break the physical addiction, but because you also have to change your lifestyle. You have to switch to a lifestyle in which you can be happy without that substance.” – Naval Ravikant
  • If you drink alcohol while hanging out with friends to be social, pretty soon, you’ll find yourself hanging around people you can’t tolerate while sober
    • So, when you stop drinking, you’ll have to replace your friends and discover new things to do—this is hard and socially unacceptable!!
      • (Alcohol holds together fake relationships)
  • “I realized a while ago that it’s a problem to look forward to holidays and weekends. It indicates two things: first, it takes the joy out of the everyday, because you’re living in the future and suffering the rest of the time; second, it means you’ve accepted a way of life in which most of your time is spent suffering.” – Naval Ravikant

The Modern Struggle is Fighting Weaponized Addiction | Episode 9

  • “On some very deep level, all pleasure creates its own offsetting pain and fear of loss” – Naval Ravikant
  • One of Naval’s past tweets: “In an age of abundance, pursuing pleasure for its own sake creates addiction”
    • He clarifies: “Now that we’re in an age of abundance, if we pursue pleasurable things directly for their own sake, we land into addiction very easily.”
  • The modern struggle lies in standing up to weaponized addictions—alcohol, processed foods, social media, video games, etc.
    • These certainly provide pleasure, but they also desensitize you and expose you to the misery of their absence
  • Addictions let you engage in fake work and play
    • “Before, you had to go socialize with your friends; now, you can get drunk with a bunch of strangers. Before, you had to find a mate, create children, and raise a family; now, you can just watch a lot of p*rn. Before, you had to hunt and climb trees to get fruit for a little bit of natural sweetness; now, you can buy all the gelato you want.”Naval Ravikant

Work the Least for It | Episode 8

  • “In the modern age, the quality of your decision-making is everything because we’re all leverage” – Naval Ravikant
  • A peaceful mind makes better decisions
    • “Having a peaceful mind, being a happier person, relying less on momentary pleasure, and being calmer will allow you to have the frame of mind where you make better decisions.” – Naval Ravikant
  • Don’t be the best in the world by working the hardest; be the best in the world who worked the least for it
  • “We can achieve happiness purely through knowledge, and that happiness will improve our decision-making. That happiness will give us more time to read; make us more knowledgeable about how we operate and other people operate; make us more effective; and improve our judgment. It should also increase our earnings and the returns we need to be financially free.”Naval Ravikant

Being Unhappy is Inefficient | Episode 7

  • The happier you are, the more content and peaceful you are, and thus, the less of a desire you have to go out and change the world
    • At the same time: “Being unhappy is very inefficient. A peaceful person doesn’t have extraneous thoughts going through their head. If you’re a driven, unhappy person, your mind will be on 24/7.”Naval Ravikant
      • And the consequences: Worsened sleep, you’re much more likely to react negatively and dig yourself into a hole, reduced decision quality, bad judgment ability, etc.
  • A happy and peaceful mind makes better decisions (happy people are more effective)

If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? | Episode 6

  • Many entrepreneurs fear they can’t increase their happiness without losing their drive
  • You may think: “I’m not happy because I’m smart”
    • This is partially true—you’re unhappy because you know too much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t undo this and retain your intelligence
    • The good news: “Smart people are good at figuring out the truth. The more you dig into certain deep truths, the freer and more peaceful you will become. That peace will lead to happiness.”Naval Ravikant
  • Then there’s the other argument: “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?”
    • “The beauty of being mentally high functioning in our society is that you can trade it for almost anything. If you’re smart, you can figure out how to be healthy within your genetic constraints. If you’re smart, you can figure out how to be wealthy within your environmental constraints. If you’re smart, you can figure out how to be happy within your biological constraints.” Naval Ravikant
      • That said, your biological constraints are larger than you think (deep meditation or a psychedelic experience makes you realize this)

Desire is a Contract You Make to Be Unhappy | Episode 5

  • “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. You start becoming disturbed because you want something, and then you work really hard to get that thing, but you’re miserable in the meantime. When you get that thing, you revert to your normal state.” – Naval Ravikant
  • “There’s a delusion that there’s something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.” – Naval Ravikant
    • “If obtaining things made us permanently happy, then the cavemen would have been miserable, and we would all be deliriously happy.”
  • “Happiness is a process of understanding—a process of self-discovery. It’s the process of training yourself and seeing certain truths.” – Naval Ravikant

Happiness is a Skill You Can Develop | Episode 4

  • “The first step to increasing the level of happiness in your life is realizing that you can” – Naval Ravikant
    • Genetics may account for some of your happiness, but much of it is in your control (the same with how peaceful you are, how angry you tend to get, etc.)
  • “Happiness is a skill like nutrition and fitness—it’s a skill that you identify and develop until you get better and better at it and it slowly gives you results.” – Naval Ravikant

Happiness Is Not Science or Math | Episode 3

  • Happiness is a loaded term—it means different things to different people
  • Happiness is more like poetry than math
    • In this podcast series, Naval plans to use “happiness,” “joy,” “peace,” and “bliss” interchangeably 
      • “This is not mathematics. You cannot link algorithms together. This is more like poetry. If you read 50 poems by the same poet and try to map them out analytically and map words from one poem to another and see if it makes sense, you’ll miss the point. Don’t fixate on the words. Don’t even fixate on the sentences. Ponder the overall thought process and message.”Naval Ravikant

You Can Buy Your Way Out of Unhappiness | Episode 2

  • You may not be able to buy your way to happiness, but you can buy your way out of common causes of happiness
  • Osho has famously said, “Every time I meet a prostitute, she wants to talk about God. And every time I meet a priest, he wants to talk about sex.”
    • Naval adds: “Whatever it is that you deny yourself will become your new prison
  • When you’re sick, your desires run away
    • “Without the ability to get up and function, you can’t turn into the desiring machine that you are.”
    • This relates to a famous Confucious quote: “A sick man only wants one thing; a healthy man wants ten thousand things.”

If You Live Long Enough, You Become a Philosopher | Episode 1

  • Naval’s new podcast series discusses the practical philosophy of health, wealth, and happiness
    • Many think of philosophy as “impractical” – it’s abstract, obtuse, written in fancy language, etc.
  • “If you live long enough, you become a philosopher because you start trying to solve the big problems in your life. The big problems are the old ones—the ones we’ve been trying to solve since the beginning: How do I stay happy? How do I become healthy? How do I become wealthy? How do I raise the family I want?” Naval Ravikant
  • Health—whether mental, physical, or financial—is a state of being well
    • Mental health = being at peace and content with oneself
    • Physical health = not suffering from afflictions, disease, and addictions
    • Financial health = not having to living in a constant state of financial worry