My most recent blog features author Michael Easter and his latest book, “The Scarcity Brain.” In this captivating read, Michael delves into the concept of the scarcity loop and its three essential components. Firstly, the presence of an opportunity that holds the potential for something to happen, much like the anticipation of pulling the lever on a slot machine. Secondly, the allure of a random reward, uncertain in timing and magnitude, yet quick and repeatable.
Michael skillfully navigates the exploration of how our biology, once advantageous in nature, now clashes with the modern world we inhabit. Whether it’s our relationship with food, social media, or even venturing outdoors, he addresses the innate desire for more and offers practical ways to navigate this landscape.
What truly resonates is Michael’s ability to foster self-awareness and understanding. By shedding light on the natural impulses we possess, he empowers us to make conscious choices that align with our goals and desires. It’s refreshing to be reminded that these inclinations are inherent, allowing us to move forward without self-judgment.
Drawing from his previous work, “The Comfort Crisis,” Michael shares his own personal journey of grappling with addiction. He emphasizes that experiencing scarcity brain or battling addiction is not a life sentence. Instead, he provides valuable insights into rewiring habits, creating supportive environments, and ultimately rewriting our narratives for the better.
Join us as we delve into an enlightening conversation with Michael Easter, where he effortlessly combines the intricacies of biology with practical and achievable practices. Discover how you can navigate the scarcity loop and make life’s terrain a little smoother. Get ready to be inspired by Michael’s openness and wisdom as we embark on this transformative journey together. Let’s dive right in!
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- Why Write Scarcity Brain? [00:04:52]
- We’re Hardwired for Anxiety [00:06:16]
- Survival vs Success [00:13:51]
- Where Does Scarcity Brain Hurt the Most? [00:15:49]
- Social Lubrication [00:23:46]
- Inspiration for Scarcity Brain [00:28:00]
- Addiction in the Brain [00:32:36]
- It’s OK to Be Bored [00:46:00]
- You Don’t Have to Be Social to Be Happy [00:47:21]
- Raising the Next Generation [00:54:28]
- Where Self-Care Comes In [00:57:01]
- Michael’s Hacks [01:02:58]
- What’s Next? [01:08:04]
- Lessons Learned [01:13:08]
Gabby Reece: Michael, I’m sorry. You couldn’t be here in person, but last time you were here, we talked about the comfort crisis and are you currently in Vegas? Are we allowed to say?
[00:03:40] Michael Easter: I am currently in Las Vegas.
[00:03:41] Gabby Reece: You know humans aren’t supposed to live there, right?
[00:03:44] Michael Easter: I am well aware of that. Every time I step out my door from. May to September.
[00:03:50] Gabby Reece: I guess it’s good for writing books now.
[00:03:55] Michael Easter: Yeah, strange place, fun, interesting place to live. That’s for sure.
[00:04:00] Gabby Reece: So, with “The Scarcity Brain.”, I know that you’re a person who like with “Comfort Crisis,” it felt like you had a cathartic experience and through your own process and you share it very openly, your story of exploring what discomfort brings to you, whether it’s boredom and imagination or just all the myriad of things that you learn through that process.
I’m curious, what was the impetus for writing this book? Because I’m sure something happened. And why?
[00:04:52] Michael Easter: Yeah, it was a few things. One is that I started thinking about it right around the time that the pandemic really took off. And it was the time of the pandemic when people are hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer and fighting in aisles.
And I just made this observation that it’s like, when we all thought that these things, we needed were scarce. People went crazy and they started hoarding things. And then what happened after that initial sort of everyone goes crazy is that everyone’s sunk into a low level of craziness where you saw people gain weight, you saw a screen time spike, you saw a compulsive shopping rise, you saw a compulsive gambling rise, you saw all these behaviors have this little uptick and, as someone who writes about health and behavior and improving your life, I’ve always been really interested in bad habits and how you can get over bad habits because I do. I think that overcoming bad habits usually has a greater effect on your life than adding in good new ones, right? So, like bad habits are the break on your progress.
More than good habits are the gas and living in Las Vegas as well. This is a great town to study bad habits because the town has been effectively engineered to push people into these repeat behaviors that can hurt them in the long run. Fun in the short term, bad in the long run. And that eventually just led me to start thinking about this topic and do all sorts of investigations from Vegas to Baghdad, Bolivia, all these different places, trying to get to the bottom of this idea of why humans crave more. And why can’t we ever seem to get enough?
[00:06:16] Gabby Reece: It’s funny though, because I was the art and we’ll get into it, the artificial or this, the sort of manmade casino for studying that was done by people I like how you phrased it, that it’s not I don’t want to talk to people that want you not to gamble.
We’re trying to, I want to talk to the people that want you to gamble. And I have to tell you what you said. And as I get, as I have more of these conversations, I think is true to everything, which is not about adding more things. Every sort of successful or success program with people I’ve talked to, whether it’s doctors or health advocates or whatever the area is, it’s actually them taking the things out that are keeping you from being successful rather than going, here’s 10 new things that you need to do.
So, I really appreciate that it also. So, what was the starting point and why we all know that biologically we’re hardwired to be anxious and want more when we can get it. There is such a thing as a scarcity loop and scarcity kind of payoff system. So maybe is that why you said, okay, we’re going to just, I’m calling it as a, as it is, Scarcity brain.
[00:07:35] Michael Easter: So, to answer you alluded to the casino lab, which, so that all came about because living in Las Vegas, you see all sorts of strange things, but the strangest thing to me has always been slot machines because they’re everywhere. It’s like gas stations, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, the airport, and people play them around the clock.
And this doesn’t really make that much sense, right? Everyone knows that the house always wins in the long-term. And so, I want to know, okay, like why the hell do people play slot machines? Why do we do this irrational thing that eventually milks us for all our money? More or less. And, so I start to talk to these researchers who are anti-gambling researchers, and they tell me all these kind of wacky ways that casinos get you to gamble more and it’s like, Oh, they don’t have clocks and slot machines only play in the key of C and casinos don’t have any right angles because right angles the quote was like thrust you up against yourself as a decision making person.
I’m like, okay. But it’s very simple for me to fact check this stuff. Cause it’s I live right by casinos. So, I just go down to a casino and it’s there’s right angles everywhere. So that doesn’t make sense. And yeah, no casinos don’t have clocks everywhere, but neither does any other business. Like it’s not normal to just have clocks in target or Costco or wherever it is hanging off the wall.
And then I call a slot machine designer and I ask him. So, do you only use the key of C and he’s just like, where the hell did you hear that? That doesn’t make sense. So, as you alluded to, the problem is I am asking the question to people who want us to stop gambling. And the reality is I got to talk to people who want us to start gambling.
This is like the classic, you got to follow the money because money always takes you to the best answers. And. Long story short, this leads me to this lab, which is on the outskirts of Las Vegas and the casino industry, along with a bunch of other technology companies has effectively built a living, breathing, cutting edge casino.
Everything about it is a casino. Except for the fact that it’s used entirely for human behavior research. So, they’re figuring out how all the slightest subtlest tweaks to casino layouts from what happens in the hotel rooms and the restaurants affects behavior inside casinos. And while I’m there, I ended up talking to a slot machine designer to bring it back to why the hell do people get hooked on slot machines. And he basically goes. Yeah, the clock, that music thing that, yeah, that’s all BS because people gamble basically so we can thrust ourselves into this three-part behavior loop that I call the scarcity loop. So, it’s got three parts. The first is opportunity. The second is unpredictable rewards and the third is quick repeatability.
So, I’ll break that down. So, opportunity, you have an opportunity to get something of value. In the case of the slot machine, it’s money unpredictable rewards to you’re going to get that thing of value at some point, but you don’t know when. And you don’t know how valuable it’s going to be, right?
So, with the slot machine game, it’s like I could lose. I could win a couple bucks. I could win 500, 000. I could win some crazy amount of money. And then three quick repeatability. You can repeat the behavior immediately with slot machines. People play 16 games a minute, which is more than we blink. Now, the reason that this thing is being researched, not just by gambling companies, but also by tech companies is because.
You can put this loop in a lot of other products, institutions, and services as well, and you can get people to repeat things pretty easily with it. So ,it’s what makes social media work. It’s what makes sports gambling work. The rise of mobile sports gambling. It’s what makes dating apps work. It’s being put in gig economy jobs.
It’s elements of it are in the food system. It’s just put in so many different things today. And I think it explains a lot of why. We now spend so much of our time, money, attention on, on devices, but also in these other experiences that can end up hurting us in the long haul.
[00:11:59] Gabby Reece: What, before technology, what were the things then people would get sucked into the scarcity loop? Was it sex or what were the things if we didn’t have all this technology? And we’ve been gamified our world has these people know this and they do it accordingly. What were the ways that we did it? When we were riding horses.
[00:12:26] Michael Easter: Yeah, pretty much anything that gave us a survival advantage in the past and required some sort of search.
So, this could be food. This could be possessions. This could even be trying to get status over another person. It’s all a search and it’s all, you’re not sure if you’re going to get the thing. I talked to a guy whose name is Thomas Zentall, and he’s a super old school psychologist he’s 80 something years old and he still is in the lab every single day.
And he told me to picture people finding food our ancient ancestors. You need food or else you’re going to serve, or else you’re going to starve, right? So, you go to one place, there’s no food, got to repeat, got to go to another place, there’s no food, got to go to a third place, no food. Fourth place. Ding ding, rails, lineup, jackpot, you find food and your survival depends on playing that really random rewards game and repeating it every single day for the rest of your life in order to survive. So that’s why we seem to be inherently attracted to that system because it was just part of life for all of time.
And it still is for. For us today and for all animals, really. So, all animals will fall into the scarcity loop, which is a really fascinating part of it too.
[00:13:51] Gabby Reece: I don’t know about you, but I feel like after being in the space of self-care or wellness or whatever we’re calling it for this many years, you start to realize that we’re not really ultimately set up for what we call now success.
We were set up for survival and now we live in such a funny upside-down world that’s not aligned with our biology and we’re trying to be, and I put an air quote, successful, so connected to people, make a living, healthy. All these things, but actually the environment we’re navigating is filled with landmines for us at every turn.
[00:14:34] Michael Easter: Yeah, the way that I like to explain specifically with these behaviors that fall into the scarcity loop, whether it’s you get hooked on these like Instagram binges Whether you’re just super attached to email, can’t quit checking it or your finance or whatever it is. Or you, you binge eat.
You can’t keep yourself on the rails with certain foods. I like to explain that it’s not really your fault because. That behavior for all of time for humans, it always made sense. It always kept us alive. But it is your problem today. And that means you do need to take a certain amount of action to change your behavior, but I do think that realizing that it is just sometimes our ancient brains and bodies work against us.
I do think that can at least absolve people of some guilt, because I do think that people feel like they’re a bad person for doing a lot of these things that we consider bad behaviors now. And the reality is you’re not, it’s just doing something very natural that always worked for humans forever.
And it’s just that the playing field has changed. And now that doesn’t make quite as much sense.
[00:15:49] Gabby Reece: Yeah. And that’s and I really appreciate setting the table that way. I’m all about personal accountability, but sometimes I think having a little bit of a map of understanding just what you’re up against gives you even more information for better strategy.
Because you talk a lot about, we mentioned status and that sometimes it’s a conflict, but how all of this impacts our food and our diet our nutritional behaviors. And it’s interesting from your view and after everything that you went through, cause you, you traveled a lot and talked to a lot of people.
Where do you think this bites us? The most do you think it’s the time we spend in technology, or do you think it’s really in the food area?
[00:16:39] Michael Easter: That’s such a great question. I had someone ask me A similar question, and I had to think about it for a while, and I think it comes down to how are we defining? How are we measuring this really. If you want to look at it in sheer terms of number of years lost. I would imagine it would probably be food. Just because our modern food system is so linked to the diseases that kill us now. So, something I talk a lot about in the book is heart disease because that is the thing most likely to kill people.
Like you have a coin flips chance of dying from heart disease. It’s the by far the biggest killer of modern humans. And when you look at what people are worried about and what people frantically Google afraid that they have. It’s not heart disease, not even close. People are worried that I got this pain on my side. Oh, it’s definitely cancer. Things like that. They’re worried about violence. Heart disease is by far more likely to kill you than those things. And even the media puts so much more coverage on. Other things than heart disease. So, it’s like this creeping specter that is what’s going to kill us, but we just ignore it.
[00:17:59] Gabby Reece: On the heart disease. Why is that? Because there’s things you could actually do in your lifestyle, and you could prevent that and that’s. That’s too slow and weird for people like what is it? Because you, you went to visit that what was it? The Chimane tribe. Is that right? And they have no heart disease.
[00:18:22] Michael Easter: So, once I realized like, oh, heart disease is what kills us. It’s also what we don’t really think about. I’ve come across this paper and, basically found this tribe in the Bolivian on Amazon called the Chimane. They have the healthiest hearts ever recorded by science. So, they basically don’t get heart disease.
They don’t get a lot of other ailments that kill us too, like Alzheimer’s and different stuff. So, I traveled down there to meet him. And you got to fly into La Paz and then you drive 12 hours to this jumping off point in the jungle and then take a canoe, like six hours upriver. You’re in the middle of the jungle.
It all looks the same for six hours. And then finally the person pulls off the boat driver and you get out and there they are in the jungle. And so, I stayed with them for a little while. And it seems like a lot of the reason they don’t get the diseases that kill us is it tracks back to food.
And the thing that’s interesting about what they eat is that at some point it’s going to offend every sort of modern fad diet that we’ve been told is like the key to perfection over the last 40 years. So, it’s not vegan, it’s not necessarily low fat. It’s not low carb. It’s not paleo. It’s not it’s got corn in it. How many diets are like, oh, if you eat corn, you’re going to die on the spot. And what the real commonality is that all the foods they have just one ingredient. So, it’s fish, it’s a red meat that they hunt. They’ll eat white rice that they grow themselves. They also eat a lot of corn that they grow themselves and they’ll even eat sugar.
Now, the difference is that when they, when I want sugar, I go to seven 11 and I get 44 ounces of it in like a Slurpee. And when they want sugar, they have to go into the jungle, they got to cut down the sugar canes. They got to bring them back to this thing to juice the sugar canes. And it’s like a manual press.
You got to walk around and they’re not getting that much sugar out of it. So, they’re not going to be eating that much. And so, I think that really what the takeaway is. Is that there’s something about foods that just have one ingredient that make them harder to overeat. So, to bring this back to that idea of the scarcity loop, there’s this guy who’s an exec in the, he’s a food industry executive, and he basically said that if you want a food to sell really well. it’s got to have three V’s; it’s got to have value. It’s got to have variety and it’s got to have velocity.
So that’s just exact other way of saying the scarcity loop. So, it’s good value. It’s relatively cheap. There’s it’s got to have a lot of different flavors and there’s ideally, there’s a lot of different types of the food.
So, 15 different Doritos and different flavors. And then velocity, you have to eat it really fast. And when researchers lock people in labs and have them eat diets that are unprocessed first, highly processed, everything else is the same about the food, except for that, the people who eat the highly processed food end up eating about 500 more calories per day.
And that’s probably just because the food is really quick to eat. You don’t really know when you’ve had enough of it.
[00:21:48] Gabby Reece: I heard a great food scientist on a 60-Minutes interview say, and it makes me think of the chips. We design things to hit the palate harder than anything ever is created in nature, but also to leave very quickly, to your point of repeatable, but also so it’s like, of course that’s going to lead to overeating.
Like when you mentioned the corn, for example. Corn and even oats right now, like it’s scary between with oats and the glyphosate and corn with who knows how it’s modified or engineered. But if you’re doing it right, it is these are beautiful foods.
[00:22:26] Michael Easter: Any behavior speed kills, like the faster you can do it, the faster you’re going to do it, the more destructive it’s going to be.
That with, for example, slot machines, when slot machines really start to realize, oh, speed is how we make money. You don’t want the behavior to be slow if we can speed up this behavior. It’s going to work faster. Like the revenues just go through the roof. Same with food. When we start to hyper process our food, that it becomes much quicker to eat.
You start to see; you start to see our weight just go up in this crazy curve where something like 85 percent of people is going to be overweight or obese in the U S by 2030 or something. I saw some projection. So, look, it’s one of those things again, to go back to. Why do we eat so much? And why do we eat this food?
It’s like that would have kept us alive in the past, right? Our brains are tuned in to love sugar, salt, fat, crispiness, whatever the combination is. And eating the way we do now would have provided a survival advantage when food was scarce, but the difference is that food is no longer scarce. It’s down at the 7 Eleven in the form of the 44-ounce Slurpee I mentioned, along with a million other foods you could buy just there alone.
[00:23:46] Gabby Reece: And your, in your personal story you shared in the “Comfort Crisis” that for like for social lubrication you would use alcohol. Now that you’ve I’m just so interested now that you’ve gone through all of this and every time you do a book, you have to, you’re doing interviews big interviews you’re on doing like even the morning shows and all these things.
I’m curious what, because I think a lot of people feel not as comfortable as they would like maybe. And it seems in certain ways harder cause we live in a bigger world. You talked a lot about for forever we’re worth 150 people or so, and then now we live in an unlimited universe and people you don’t know can have opinions about what you’re doing.
What happened to you, to Michael, as a person that not only did you start feeling comfortable, but now you’re really have come into your own in this other way. What things did you do that enabled you to make that kind of transformation?
[00:24:56] Michael Easter: I don’t I definitely had to stop drinking. That was…
[00:25:00] Gabby Reece: That usually never goes to, it never ends usually. But yeah. And I will, to be clear, I’m a person who if you’re, if you have a couple of drinks every now and then. I don’t, I’m not talking about that kind of drinking. I was the type of drinker where if you have one, it’s if one’s good, what would 17 be like?
[00:25:22] Michael Easter: 17 must be awesome, man. Yeah. Wasn’t the short term, not in the long-term. Yeah, that’s a good question. I would say that you just have to expose yourself. And I want to be clear that I don’t, I’m not entirely comfortable in most situations. I would say that I’m more comfortable and. I had to learn how to be more comfortable by just putting myself in the situation, because I do think this really is a, another case of our ancient brain going on the defensive, because in the past, if all eyes were on you, that could be bad.
That could be everyone in the tribe going. Yeah, I think we’ve had enough of you see you later, dude. So, we’re attuned to just not like that sort of attention oftentimes, especially if it’s public speaking, public things but obviously in the context of my work, it’s not people trying to shun me from society and maybe spear me and.
Whatever else it’s yeah, tell us about your book. Tell us about whatever, and your brain’s still going to react in that bad way, but you got to realize by putting yourself in there, like it’s going to be fine. You have to trust yourself and accept that these sorts of performative things we have to do today.
Whether it is, could be anything from speaking to a thousand people on a stage to I met this nice person on match. com and I got to go have dinner with them. That is often experienced at the same level of anxiety, depending on the person. We have to realize that we’re not going to die and frame things as an opportunity.
This is, I heard actually this really useful quote and it came. By way of Wayne Norton, who is a who he is. Yeah, it came by way of him, and he got it from some UFC fighter. And I guess the UFC fighter was getting anxious before fights. And he told himself, he’s Oh, you’re getting anxiety.
You’re getting anxious. Because like you give a shit and you’re alive, like that’s the feeling of being alive that you’re like, you’re in the fight and you’re like trying to win it. And it’s like, all of a sudden, for whatever reason that just flipped it for me, it’s this isn’t a defense mechanism.
This is because I give a shit, and this is like something I’m passionate about. And you can flip it into this feeling of that you’re alive and well, like that was helpful for me. I’m not saying that’s going to help for everyone, but I find, I found that helpful.
[00:28:00] Gabby Reece: All right. I really appreciate that because it is always inspiring to watch people share their story and say, here’s maybe some of my tendency and yet I can build in these things or have new ideas built around it so that I can conduct myself a little bit differently that inevitably has a more positive impact. Not only on my life, but now think about this, you go and do this research and you can share with people information, whether it’s in, in this book or comfort crisis, and so it’s we all win you understanding yourself and the way you can make yourself comfortable enough to put it out there. It’s a, it ends up being a win for everybody. And I think it’s this interesting combination for people where I always think nobody really cares, but me. So, when I get anxious or uncomfortable or over weird on myself, I’m like, listen, nobody really cares, but me.
And the other flip side of that is. How do I want to participate? What do I want to contribute? So, it’s moving in and out of both, right? It’s putting enough no; you have a responsibility. You got to contribute whatever that looks like and is organic to you. And simultaneously it’s nobody cares that whatever you tripped on the stair on the way up to the public talk.
So, I think it’s having that flexibility in there. So, I just was curious now when you take on a project, like a new book, like “Scarcity Brain, how do you get led? So, I understand going to the casino, I understand going down to be with the Chimane, but this took you to some very unusual places.
You can you tell me about when you went to the Middle East and what, why’d you do that? That seemed scary.
[00:29:55] Michael Easter: Yeah, so that was for a section that looks at addiction because to me. Addiction is the extreme end of this idea that why can’t we get enough, right? That is the absolute extreme of it.
It’s a behavior you do over and over, even though in the meantime, it’s destroying your life. And in Iraq, in the middle East and generous, I go to Iraq. And the reason that I went there is because Iraq didn’t really have addiction for a very long time. Because Saddam ruled with an iron fist, basically.
And then the U S invades, they overthrow Saddam and there’s a war for a lot of years and this war causes you have an entire country that went through a war, so you’ve got a lot of people who have had some legitimate trauma. And then what ended up happening is the country of Syria, which is bordering it fell and they turned into effectively a narco state where.
They produce a ton of this drug called Captagon. So, you start having, so you get three things. And so, this is a different take on addiction that I think we’ve traditionally heard of traditionally in the U S we’ve either thought of addiction as being a sort of moral failing. So, an addict is a bad person or as a brain disease.
So, an addict is someone who has this problem with their brain, this incurable problem with their brain. And I think Iraq shows that for addiction to rise, you need a person who is in some sort of pain or discomfort internally. They need to not have a good outlet for that pain or discomfort, some of their outlet, and then you need a product that can quickly and easily relieve that discomfort. So, when those three things meet up, you start to see addiction rates rise significantly. And this is at odds with the traditional way we’ve looked at addiction, but I think that it tracks when you look at a lot of the research and you look at a lot of experiences in the past.
And so, to answer your question about why’d you go to Iraq, I think, because that’s where addiction is really blooming and happening now. And I think it stands for this larger idea that I came up, came upon. Could I have tried to find a place like that in the U S maybe? But I think it was, I think for me as a journalist I want to go to the best places for my story, no matter where they are to places where I can really understand something, affect things, and show the reader something maybe they weren’t expecting.
[00:32:36] Gabby Reece: To your point you say we have this belief. And a lot of times I think people that have these issues think they’re doomed and sentenced to this, to battle it their whole life. And you say quite the contrary in the. And it almost seems to okay, so what is bothering you? Do you have an outlet? Can you heal that and how successful people can be also when they change their environment that these sorts of environments can also breed this repetitive behavior.
So, this section of the book I really, I thought was important because even forgive me if I get this wrong DSM-5, where they’re talking about where does it live in the brain? But it’s you don’t, it doesn’t live in the brain in one spot necessarily.
[00:33:27] Michael Easter: The NIH has traditionally thought of since nineties has thought of addiction as a brain disease that an addict has some problem with their brain. And there’s, they had some brain scans that. Led them to believe this.
[00:33:42] Michael Easter: But I think the problem is that they haven’t really been able to prove where does addiction lie. And they’ve also looked at data and said, okay it’s a chronic and relapsing disease. That basically, if you are an addict, it’s more or less a foregone conclusion that you are going to relapse. And once you have this thing, you have it forever and you’re screwed.
And oh, by the way, we don’t actually have a medical cure for it. But the problem is that when you look at actual human experiences. So, a great example is in the Vietnam war, something like about 20 percent of us soldiers in Vietnam were addicted to heroin because you’re in a war zone. There’s heroin everywhere.
It’s this place sucks and heroin might make it better. So, you get all these soldiers who are using heroin. So, President Nixon, he goes, I don’t want all these addicts coming back into the United States because this is going to cause problems. So, he starts this program that he calls “Operation Golden Flow.” And it’s pretty simple. It’s if you want to come back to the U S from Vietnam, you have to produce a clean urine test that is drug free, and then you’ll be able to come back. And so, if this idea that a person who’s addicted to drugs has no choice, it’s chronic and relapsing. You would expect that not many of these GIs would have made it home, but the reality was the complete opposite.
The vast majority of people pass the urine test, came home and once home, only 5 percent of them relapsed. And the people who did relapse tended to have been drug users before they went to war. So, what this suggests is that the soldiers were actually making a rather rational decision, which is I am an absolute hell in war. And this is a product that allows me to escape from this hell for however long it might be an hour or whatever. And so, they’re using this thing that makes their life better. And I think that is one of the things that often gets missed about drug use or alcohol use is that whatever it is, even though it’s an irrational behavior in the long-term, a person with a substance abuse disorder, if they’re using like that will solve your problems immediately in the short term, every time, like it’s a rational decision in the short term and people use drugs for a good reason.
It’s usually because it. It makes them feel better somehow. It allows them to escape from problems. It enhances their life. And really once a, once that behavior becomes addictive is when it creates long term problems. But then it becomes harder to get out of because you’ve been doing this thing that improved your life for so long, but then it started to turn.
But you can’t really see that when you’re in that. And I can tell you that because I’ve been there and eventually something has to happen where you go, oh, like this is the issue. And I need to, I’m going to have to actually do some things that are tough in the short term in order to get out of this.
[00:36:46] Gabby Reece: Yeah. And I just thought, especially even coming from you that, that part of the book also felt equally, And I love that there’s just a lot of data and science to back that up. I also appreciated I grew up in the Caribbean where people, they know how to drink there. And so, I avoided that my adult life, just cause I, as a kid, I remember being like, Ooh, that story seems a little wild.
But that originally, and I like kombucha, so it’s okay, fermented alcohol that it could stimulate people. First of all, they could smell it. Because it’s fermented. And then it, tell me if this is right, is that it could also encourage people to eat more if they had some of this fermented fruit, alcohol, and for leaner time.
So that even within that, there might’ve been some biological reasons why it could support us if done the way it was supposed to.
[00:37:51] Michael Easter: I argue in the book that when you look at the history of substance use is that humans evolved to use substances because it enhanced their life. Like the case of alcohol, you just gave. It’s like when a fruit would fall from a tree, it starts to ferment. That would allow us to not only find the food, but also encourage eating more of it because of this effect called the aperture reef effect. But also, things like. Like cocoa leaves, which is, which are now used to make cocaine, just the actual coca leaf itself contains such low levels of the active ingredient that it would usually just hone our focus allow us to persist on a really long hunt and allow us to survive.
And that being the story with most substances. Now, the issue is that in modern times, we’ve taken all these things and scaled them up, right? So, we’ve taken the part that is psychoactive and concentrated it and then put it to scale and we just have an abundance of it and that can sometimes backfire.
[00:38:56] Gabby Reece: Yeah. And you talk about that. We talk about it in food and in gambling and addiction, but you also talk about it in technology and just now, this is a new player kind of in our horizon in the last what is it since 2008? Something like that right 2008 2007 when the smartphone really yeah became alive Yeah, the iPhone.
Yeah, and you said what I what did you say in one day we now consume? As much as people, I think 700 years ago did in their entire life and that we really have this sort of mismatch with our reality and our biology, and I found that almost seems unbelievable. It’s crazy. One day, then they take in their whole life.
[00:39:54] Michael Easter: Yeah. Information. Yeah. I think it tracks when you think of you, we have multiple screens on, we’re going from story to story. We’re on Twitter. We’re on, we’re driving down the highway and there’s a million billboards. And yeah, so humans evolved to crave information because in the past, information would have given us a survival advantage, right?
If you knew when the storm was coming in, if you knew where the animals were, if you knew all these different things, you were probably going to survive. And we still have that brain that wants to know the next thing that wants to resolve any uncertainties in this world were. One, there’s information everywhere, but information is also a lot more ambiguous.
Now if you’re hunting for food, like you either kill the damn animal or you don’t, and you survive and live on, but today there’s so many questions. About let’s take food, for example, it’s okay exactly what diet is going to lead you to live to 100. It’s no one knows, right? No one knows. But if you go on the Internet, there’s a bajillion places where you can find all these different answers. And I think things are much more a lot of the big questions in life are. Very ambiguous. There’s this guy Russ Roberts, who wrote a book called wild problems that I love because it talks about the most important questions in life are, there’s no clear answer, you can’t measure them.
But we want to know for certain what is the answer? Because that’s just how our brains are wired. And I think in the context of today, any given question you have, you can go on Google. And find a bunch of different answers and search and search. And you’re like, oh, I got it. I’m going to keep searching.
Oh, I got the next one. And so, it very much falls into that scarcity loop where we just keep consuming and consuming information. And we might have more knowledge now, but I don’t know if in our day-to-day life, we have necessarily more understanding. And know exactly how to use that or how to deploy it in a way that enhances our life and doesn’t stress us out or waste our time or insert any other issue.
[00:42:13] Gabby Reece: It’s also, thinking about the more for the sake of more and you talk about this in the book, like stuff even more for the sake of more. And I know that’s part of, again, another biological impulse we have, but it is interesting when you. Yeah. When you go through the process of living and learning that way, versus just consuming it from a device it’s very different.
And I think somebody clarified it for me once, which was the difference between knowledge and wisdom. I also think wisdom is earned. And it’s a feeling you have inside Oh when I’ve done this seems to really work. And you have this sort of your own understanding of it versus people have so much knowledge now and yeah, but maybe is it that sense of understanding and relationship to yourself and how you would implement it into your world into your work into your you know relationship with your friends or lovers.
It’s like I think we have less of that kind of wisdom, and you say hey, we don’t even go into worlds that we don’t know anymore because we used to step into these unknowns and now, we don’t really do that so much.
[00:43:34] Michael Easter: Yeah. In the book I talk about really, we are a species that is amazing at exploring. So, no other animal has explored the world like we have, we’ve we took over the world in basically 50, 000 years. And then once we’d taken over the entire world, we go, all right let’s see if we can get up into outer space. Oh, great. We did it. We’re on the moon. Let’s see if we can go down to the deepest reaches of the ocean. Like we just never stop. And ultimately, I think we do that because there is this promise of greener grass and the unknown and these. New experiences that have the opportunity to enhance our life. But I think put it put in a world where you can Google everything. It’s we want this information, but we also want to be certain about it.
So, you’re starting to see today where anytime you do something new, you can Google it and figure out what is this going to be like? And I think that takes away a lot of the authenticity and rewards of our experiences. Whereas in the past. You couldn’t Google, you just had to go to the place and have this totally unmediated in the present moment experience.
Whereas let’s take a really stupid example, like restaurants. It’s if you’re going to go to a restaurant, it’s okay what’s it star rating? Okay. What does this guy say? What is it? Okay. Let me look at the menu. I got to figure out exactly what I’m going to order. I think everyone does that.
But the problem is I think so many reviews online. Like they don’t give you the real picture. If a restaurant has like a zero out of and has 500 reviews, you can be pretty sure it’s bad. But if it has a four or above, it’s like, who the hell knows? Is it really going to, is a 4. 4 really better than a 4. 6? It’s no, but we think it is. And so, I think that can change how we experience life. I think that for me personally, after reporting this book, I just do, I try and. Not look everything up before having an experience. It’s just pick a random restaurant and go like you could find a gem. Yeah, it could be terrible, but you can find this gem and that gem is yours. It’s not this gem that you found from like Yelp or whatever it is. And it’s that’s your experience that you had. That’s really, even though it’s small, even though it’s silly, there’s something about that, that I think is rewarding and changing in a way that. It’s maybe not great right now.
[00:46:00] Gabby Reece: Do you, are you still letting yourself get bored from time to time and how do you do that? How are you doing that?
[00:46:06] Michael Easter: Yeah, my way of getting bored. So, getting bored as I argue in my last book, the “Comfort Crisis” important cause it gives you, there’s some interesting neuroscience behind that, but it also, I think a lot of research suggests that it’s good for coming up with good ideas.
And so, this is why people tend to have their best ideas in the shower because you’re not like, you can’t do anything. You can’t be like scrolling Instagram. You can’t be whatever. So, I try to go on a walk every day for at least 20 minutes. And I do it outside because there’s something about being outside that I think is good for mental health too.
And there’s a lot of there’s a lot of research that suggests time in nature is good for attention. It’s good for productivity. It’s good for creativity. It’s good for all these things. And frankly we try and rationalize everything, but with Oh, a study said this, but like people feel better when they’re in nature and that’s enough. So, I do my 20-minute walks. And when I have a good idea, I might write it down on a little piece of paper or something. So yeah, definitely. I definitely tried to, although the attention capture industry that we live in is definitely real.
[00:47:21] Gabby Reece: Yeah. It’s I was talking to you before we started and saying like I, I was feeling a little more inefficient and that my ability to be disciplined has is working against me because also it’s oh I’m sitting at my desk. It’s yeah, but what are you really doing? I think I’m really having to take a look at being chained to all the, or self-change to these devices. Okay. I’ve answered every email. I’m trying to get back to every person and being comfortable with Unplugging from all of that, I think in the end will make me, if my desire is to do more, I think that’s really one of the ways to do it.
For your practices, your own personal practices I know you get outside, but you’ve been in the space and reported on health and fitness a really long time. And I found something interesting where you talked about people don’t have to be social to be happy. I thought that was a really, because you want to think, I think the studies show you want to feel like there is somebody to call if you something happens, like somebody cares, but maybe you could elaborate on even just this idea of maybe.
People can do this alone too, because I think, I don’t know, and you’d know better than I do. I feel like people feel isolated so much already. And so, it’s always trying to encourage them like, hey, find your tribe and do all that. And I think that there’s something true to that. But you’re also saying, hey, there’s other ways.
[00:49:06] Michael Easter: Yeah. Yeah. That’s it. I think that, obviously you need some people close to you as a way to, as a path to happiness, but I think when you look at some of what we would consider the happiest people of all time, they’re often people who spend a lot of time alone. Who are okay with going out to meditate in a cave for 30 days or like Jesus wandering in the desert for 40 days.
I think when we have time where we’re totally alone it’s not always easy, but I think that it allows us to better understand ourselves and what we stand for and get as strange as it sounds, get more comfortable being alone because to me, it’s great if you have friends, are away, you start to crack up.
That’s not good either. So, to me, like the ability to be alone and be in solitude and be okay with that, comfortable with that, I think that allows you to be able to depend on and count on yourself. And, when you go into a sort of social situation social world, to be able to help others more because you’ve got yourself to fall back on.
And it’s now I can help other people and now I can really appreciate this time with others as well. And I do think you see that in some of the research. So in the book, I spent a week with these Benedictine monks in the mountains of New Mexico, and they’re really fascinating because they live together. But they’re not really social at all. They only get a couple hours of talking to each other a day. There’s some that just literally live like out in the woods alone, and they only come and get food every few days. And a lot of the research shows that they’re far happier than the average person. Yet they’re doing all these things that I think we would traditionally think of as not being great for happiness.
They do manual labor every day. Like they don’t talk to a lot of people all the time. Their life is actually hard in a lot of ways. They got to get up really early to go pray really early 15 in the morning. Oh my God. My God. I got up on, I joined them, and I was just like, Holy hell, this is a tough life.
But they’re happy. And so, I think that really the message is that. In the way that research is conducted and the way that media focuses on research we’re always going to find here about some next thing that’s going to make us happy. It’s like today, it’s you got to be social yesterday.
It was, you got to, I don’t know, eat beets. And the day before that, it was like you gotta exercise 150 minutes a minute a week, whatever it is. But I think the reality is that happiness is always just going to be a moving target. I think that humans weren’t necessarily designed to be permanently happy because a permanently happy person slacks off.
And in the past, you could never slack off, right? We’re always looking for the next thing. I think the lesson from the monks is that Happiness probably will never be found in these the next meal, the next purchase Oh, I became friends with that person. Now I’m good to go. Like it just doesn’t work that way. I think that it’s ultimately comes down to realizing that there are things bigger than yourself. And it’s being willing to engage in the search and the struggle and being willing to ask bigger questions, being willing to get to know yourself better and just try and help other people.
That is ultimately the message that sort of gets embedded in all these different religions. And even though we’re becoming less religious as a society, I do think a lot of those traditional messages still ring true today, that it’s not going to be some. The next car, the next whatever it is, and that it’s going to be hard.
But if you focus more on just doing the next right thing, you’re probably going to look back and find yourself happy.
[00:53:08] Gabby Reece: I really appreciate that point because it’s interesting. You look at social media, right? And now everybody’s a self-proclaimed life coach. And it’s funny. So, we’re doing away with religion, which obviously has some of it the shame or the guilt and all of that.
I don’t think that was really the original concept behind some of these bigger ideas. But of course, you get people get in there and they mess around with the rules. But it’s you still see that it’s in us to be looking for that. So now we’re killing, okay, the big religions, but yet you see people showing up on social media and they’re all, it’s all the same direct. Let’s take a quiet moment. Let’s help each other. It’s funny how those principles will still show up because it’s we know deep inside that we need those things.
[00:53:57] Michael Easter: We, we want a group of people that we can be around and agree on some sort of worldview. And I think today it gets expressed in a lot of different ways to your point with the wellness influencers, but also you look at diet culture.
It’s like some people talk about their carnivore diet, whatever it is just like a religion. It’s the exact same behavior as like a fundamentalist person in a fundamentalist religious. Order so that sort of search sometimes gets transferred to some strange places today, unfortunately.=
[00:54:28] Gabby Reece: Do you think without overstepping, do you think you would consider having children?
[00:54:33] Michael Easter: That’s a good question. I don’t think it’s off the table. I don’t think it’s right on the table. It’s maybe at the corner of the, it’s maybe at the corner of the table. And there’s two people looking at the corner of the table going, yeah, I don’t know.
[00:54:49] Gabby Reece: Because I just imagine with all the research that you do you have a different view on human behaviors, dynamics. And I often wonder if that makes that conversation do, we really want to bring another person in? I wonder what people of your generation are experiencing.
Because our group, it was still the given and the drive. And that’s what you did if you found somebody. And I feel like the group’s a bit younger than myself, that they’re really having a different conversation.
[00:55:26] Michael Easter: Yeah, I think so. I think we’ve thought a lot about, I think there is a, in my generation questioning that you just have children, like you just got to have, you just got to have kids.
And I think there, but we do, when we talk to people, there are a lot of people who want to know are you going to have kids and when you talk to people who have kids. All of them will say it’s like the most important thing that ever happened to me. And so, I do think that there is some there.
But at the same time, I guess the question for a person who doesn’t have kids and maybe won’t have kids, including myself is It seems to me like having kids is an act of getting out of yourself and having to go through a lot of hardship for a while that comes with extreme lows, but also extreme highs.
It ultimately becomes very rewarding in the long-term. It’s like this 18 plus year struggle or whatever it is. But then you get to see like this, you’re building this, helping build this thing. And I’m just talking out of my ass right now, because I don’t have kids, but it’s to me, it’s okay, how can I mimic something similar in my own life? And I don’t know if it’s finding some big volunteer thing to take on some big project like that. But I do think it’ll probably be important for me at some point to be like, okay, like what’s the big, what’s the big project.
[00:57:01] Gabby Reece: I appreciate you being willing to talk about it. I just am always curious with, as things change. And if I was at the time in my life where I was thinking about having children, given all the, at least the messages that get sent, whether it’s true or not. I think people are just getting hammered with a lot of scary messages and people constantly no one’s even remotely able to listen to one another’s points of view. So, it feels like everyone’s in an argument. And I was just curious because we. It’s hard. And with technology, I think the idea of raising a child almost feels like it’s even that much more out of your control.
Like it at least I was fooled when I was going to have my kids that thinking, oh, and then technology showed up and you went, oh yeah, we’ll make some rules and whatever. And then you realize oh, wait a second, this thing is even bigger than me. And unless we move to the forest, it’s like you’re sharing your family and your kids with technology. It’s like a whole idea.
So, I just wondered as somebody like you, so I would love to know what your principles are just for you, where you’re at right now. They can be different the next time I talk to you because things change just your principles around your own self-care. I know you say you get outside in nature, but when you’re eating or just your own sort of, Real pillars for your health.
[00:58:39] Michael Easter: I, so for me, I probably think that exercise is the most important thing that a person could do for their health. That in addition to staying within a certain weight range, which is, I don’t be too big.
So, when it comes to exercise, I do a lot of rucking. Cause I think that’s a particularly potent form of cardio that seems to. Spare muscle rather than burn it like some forms of cardio can. I do a lot of I do; I lift a couple of days a week, but a lot of my stuff is just outdoors in nature.
So, I write a lot about, and I do this more, this there’s probably a little bit of this in the comfort crisis, but I have a sub stack where I write about this a lot. It’s at it’s called 2%. And I think that there’s something about exercise in nature. That is really important for people. So, when you look at the context of how humans evolved to exercise one, we didn’t actually exercise, we were doing what we would call living life, right? So, exercises, physical activity for the sake of that, for the sake of it, that never made sense until about 150 years ago. And the context in which people were physically active. Was always outside. It’s on this rough, untamed landscape, and you’re often doing something in the process of being physically active.
So, as we evolved to run, for example, so we could run down animals and spear them for dinner. So, people might think that’s just a physical act. It’s no, that’s only half the battle. Like tracking an animal is really hard pacing yourself. You’re also having to think about foot placement along the way. You’re having to figure out where in space am I so I can get back. This is a long way of saying that outdoor exercise, the way that we evolved to do it was really stimulating in a lot of different ways took a lot of different work, not just physically. And once we the industrial revolution happens and we start to go, okay we need to start moving more.
We invent gyms and gyms are like this indoor temperature controlled, comfortable. Everything is preselected. You pick the exact pace of your treadmill and how we moved for a million years. It was never like that at all. And so, for me, the way to get back to that is trying to find more ways to be physically active outside.
And I do think there is some good research backing USC, University of Southern California, named David Reikland, who does a lot of research on how doing more exercise outside where you’re having to account for all these different things in the environment, it probably has a more beneficial effect on the brain over time and can lead to better adaptations for people and help fend off potentially age related diseases.
And not to mention it’s just harder. Like you’re going to encounter Hills. You’re going to encounter it. You’re going to get too far from home and be like now I got to go back home. Whereas with the treadmill, it’s just I’m tired, smash the stop button. So that’s something I think about a lot too, and write a lot about and try and think about how do we weave that into our life in an intelligent way?
And what are the benefits and all that sorts of thing? I do think that. The way that we tried to solve for being inactive once our jobs got behind desk, we’re still figuring it out. We’re in an early stage of figuring it out, and I think we know a lot less than we think we know.
[01:02:04] Gabby Reece: First of all, it makes me think about I’ve gone on hikes where I’ve waited too long to go, and then by the time you’re there, you realize it’s way hotter than you thought.
I’m thinking you must experience this a lot, and you think. Oh, I should have come here two hours earlier or four hours later. Now I’m halfway through and the sun is baking and you’re just in it. That’s what you’re doing. Like you’re in it, you know do you wear special footwear or anything like that?
[01:02:29] Michael Easter: It depends on what I’m doing. So if I do a lot of trail running and for trail running I found that something that is Minimalist-esque I would call it so like I used to go just totally minimal and I actually found that I’m better with a little bit of a drop and then with rucking, if I’m using a significant amount of weight, I find that more support is probably better if you have weight on your back. Yeah, so I just what’s the tool for the job.
[01:02:58] Gabby Reece: And then what about hacking? Because you are informed and investigative. Do you have any things that you would consider a hack?
[01:03:08] Michael Easter: I try to really be cognizant of when my, when a behavior is bordering on, when it’s helping me and when it’s bordering on superstition. So, I feel like if the issue that I’ve had with like super specific routines is that I think people can become so married to them that they think that if I don’t do this one part of this routine. Then the rest of the day falls apart. And to me, that is no different than a baseball player going, if I don’t pull on my hat three times, then this fastball was not going to land.
So, I think a lot of what I think about is like, what back to our idea of removing things is often better. It’s what is my ultimate goal? And what can I remove? That isn’t helping me get there and what things can I add in that do seem to help me get there? So, I’ll bring it back to my main goal has always been writing, you know so I get up early because that is my sort of golden time to write, and I used to do a handful of things before I would write, and I realized Are these things helping you get words on the page? And the answer was no.
So, I, now I just, I make a cup of coffee and I start writing. So, I found that it was, they had become sort of superstitious behaviors. It’s I got to meditate 10 minutes before I write. Cause then I’ll get in the zone. And it’s like, how do you measure whether there’s any correlation between this meditation and like whether a sentence is going to be good.
In fact, I might write a better sentence if I’m aggravated trying to find where your habits, have become teetered into the superstitious area and where they’re actually helping you, I think is something useful in the context of today where we’re told to do 17 different things. You must do 17 different things before you can ever do a good thing in your day.
[01:04:57] Gabby Reece: And are you sticking true to just less ingredient type foods and just eating real food and until you’re full and you seem like a moderate person. You don’t seem like a person who. If you had a bite of pie, you’d eat the whole thing or something.
[01:05:14] Michael Easter: Give me a drink and you’ll find out. Yeah, I mostly just do try and stick to one ingredient for most of the things I eat, so I still hunt and so that gives me like a supply of really great meat and I’ll do that with like rice or potatoes and some vegetables. And that’s pretty much a standard in the morning, like maybe oatmeal and eggs.
Then once you eat that way, it doesn’t matter if sometime across the week you encounter.
[01:05:50] Gabby Reece: Yeah. I like that. And what about supplements? Has anything shown up that you go, this feels important to me or?
[01:05:56] Michael Easter: Yeah. So, I, for a while I was very disillusioned with supplements and then I, this is a weird thing, but one of my best friends from college, he took a job with this company momentous, yeah. And there. He started telling me about him. I’m like, yeah, whatever. You take a job with a supplement company. And I started looking into them and it’s a really good company. They’ve got all these contracts with the government, and they just put a ton of research and into their products and make sure that they’re solid, that you can trust them.
A lot of companies don’t. And so, I’ve started to use some of their stuff like they’re just their multivitamin is like, it just covers your basis. It’s that’s like an easy win right there. If I have days where I feel like I’m not getting enough protein, I like their vegetable protein powder. It’s got some special name plant protein. I don’t know. Magnesium. I seem to do sleep better on for whatever reason. I’ll take that before bed. And that could just be because I’m out sweating so much.
[01:07:02] Gabby Reece: That I get magnesium does magnesium is part of like 72 processes done in the body or something like you just can’t go wrong.
[01:07:09] Michael Easter: Yeah. And I think that I did a on that 2 percent site that I mentioned, I did this sort of deep dive into what vitamins and minerals are people insufficient in? Yeah. And magnesium was one that a lot of people are actually pretty insufficient. And I can’t remember the exact number off the top of my head, but I think it was maybe 50. Could have been 20. So that one trying to think.
[01:07:38] Gabby Reece: What else are you doing? Creatine or D or anything like that?
[01:07:39] Michael Easter: Oh yeah. Yeah. So now you start asking and I remember, yeah, I do creatine. I do. Do D. And when pretty much the only meat I eat is the meat that I’ve hunted. I don’t eat a ton of animal products.
So, if I’m on the road and I can’t do that, I will take a liver supplement just to make sure that I’m getting enough iron and B12.
[01:08:04] Gabby Reece: Yeah, that’s smart. So, the process of writing I feel like you got this book out pretty quickly. Am I, is that a wrong assumption?
[01:08:13] Michael Easter: I think it was pretty quick. Yeah, I wish I would have had another month. I definitely fell under the gun sometimes.
[01:08:19] Gabby Reece: What’s, what do you what’s percolating for you? Is there something that’s shown up for you that you’re going to dive in or it’s a secret?
[01:08:27] Michael Easter: Oh, for a third book I’ll probably do a third book and I’ve got some ideas, but my editor and I talk every now and then, every time we talk, there’s the book is a slightly different.
[01:08:39] Michael Easter: And which tells me we don’t know what the idea is yet. A lot of my efforts now I’ve been putting in the sub stack, which I put out three times a week. And that’s been pretty fun and rewarding because it’s a, it’s more immediate communication with. The people who are interested in what I write, whereas a book is it came out and people are like, oh, we loved it.
[01:08:59] Michael Easter: When’s the next one coming out? And you’re like contact me in three years.
[01:09:03] Gabby Reece: Yeah. So is this, and your sub stack, it’s the 2 percent club. What is it under exactly? Is it under your name?
[01:09:09] Michael Easter: It’s called 2 percent with Michael Easter and the website is twopct.com.
[01:09:15] Gabby Reece: And then is a lot of what you then dive deeper into stimulated by the audience asking specific questions. And so you say, Oh, I’m going to look into that.
[01:09:24] Michael Easter: Yeah, a lot of it is people will ask questions. They’ll email me questions. A lot of it is I’m still ultimately a journalist in the sense that I’m not the person with the PhD doing the studies in the lab. I’m the person who talks to the person with the PhD doing the studies in the lab and tries to translate it into something that’s useful and practical.
The upside of that, though, is that I can talk to that. It turns out that people who do studies in labs often disagree, so I can talk to both sides and try to some can try. I try to come to some practical conclusions for people on topics that may be confusing. Maybe they’ve heard multiple points of try and be pretty reasonable and get to the bottom and also realize that everyone’s different because sometimes you might hear a message, but it’s Oh, that message was actually geared for athletes, but we didn’t say that, or this message is geared for sedentary people, but we didn’t say that this is geared or like most sports research was conducted on dudes, but we’re trying to like yeah. Things like that, I try and be rather clear on. I hope it’s useful.
[01:10:37] Gabby Reece: I’m sure it is. If you, especially just all those little, small variations, I think women weren’t part of studies until 1996 or something like that. And from Stacey Sims or whatever, that athletic or performing women perform better fed, not fasted and forever. It was like. Why am I ripping my hair out? My husband’s Oh, I feel great. I’m like, I’m going to, I’m going to kill somebody. I don’t know who, but when I’m fasting.
If you could make one invitation to people that feels important to you, given all it could just be the invitation of today. It doesn’t have to be one that in you would make next week, but just that something that’s been occurring to you, whether it’s about managing their scarcity brain or their loops or dealing with technology or just the way that they’re moving or eating, if there was something that felt important, what would that be?
[01:11:37] Michael Easter: I think that everyone has at least one or two habits that they wish they can change. And going back to what I said at the beginning is that I think that our bad habits have a bigger impact than do. Adding good new ones. So, it’s everyone wants to give gas to good new habits, but if you still have your bad ones, you still got your foot on the brake. And so, I hope that the book “Scarcity Brain,” it helps you understand why you have bad habits in the first place and that bad habits aren’t because you’re deficient and a bad person and you shouldn’t feel bad for them about them.
But they are your issue to fix, right? It’s once you’re aware of that, it’s you don’t have to feel bad about it, but yeah let’s work on this thing. And so hopefully people leave with some tools. And I will also say that changing bad habits is very possible. And I’ve seen it everywhere and it doesn’t matter what it is. I think that I don’t think that anyone can’t change something, whether it’s you’re eating way too much, whether it’s you’re like me and you were drinking way too much, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s gambling, whether it’s you buy too much, whether it’s insert any million other bad habits, a person could have today, because it’s almost like our society is set up to lead us into overdo something.
And I do think that. Yeah, change is possible for sure. And it starts with kind of understanding what the underlying mechanics are and getting to the sort of deeper reasons. And that’s not always going to be easy, but I do think it is very worthwhile and rewarding.
[01:13:08] Gabby Reece: I think getting help, like having someone or people to talk to when you’re going through these things, not to continue to the same loop, but almost to create an accountability I think is really great.
So, Michael, my last question is, and just cause you’re a partner to somebody and you have lived a minute. What is either something that has really been a valuable approach to being in a relationship from your side, like the way that you’ve conducted or acted that seems to be impactful? Because I think what we go in with and the knowledge we go into a relationship with versus once we’re in it and it’s dynamic and we’re trying to learn and improve and make things flow and smooth different things show up for us.
[01:13:59] Michael Easter: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s; I think it’s useful to try and understand why people are the way they are. So, I’ll give you an example, and I hope she doesn’t get mad, but my wife likes to keep the house exceedingly orderly, orderly, like museum and to me, I’ve always been like, we live in a museum, like, why does this matter at all?
Like, why are you so uptight about this? But until I realized that it’s because when she lived in chaos as a kid. And so, if you could keep your house orderly, it would just make her feel calmer. Like these things are in order. I feel good. I feel safe here. Great. Now I’m using her as an example, but the reality is we all have something like that.
And so, I think that figuring out what your thing is what your, what the other person’s thing is rather can help you understand why they’re like that in the first place. Because once I understand that I realize. Oh, it’s not that she’s weird. It’s this is how she works. And maybe I should just pick up the damn dishes, Michael, and so simple things like that. It’s like your job as a partner is not to try to prove whether this thing is good or bad. It’s just to. Do the thing that will make your spouse happy often, and I’m sure, and I have things like that too, that she’s learned to live with as well. It’s my, my mom is definitely a little bit of a chaotic person for sure.
And so, I grew up where chaos is just the norm. And so, like you go into my office and its things are there’s a lot of stuff and she comes in here and she’s just Oh my God, this is just too much. But for her she’s that’s your space. That’s cool. Yeah. The living room. That’s the museum.
[01:15:46] Gabby Reece: So, I understand. I always joke that when you see me wiping down my counters, I’m trying to keep myself out of fight or flight. I’m trying to control like a six-foot space, something’s in control. So, I think it’s, I think, and I don’t want to say it’s more feminine, but they say we’re prone to certain tendencies a little more. So, it’s, it is a reaction.
Okay. I want to finish by just reading this, what you ended your book with, because it’s a basically from, I think, Father Matthew, if I’m getting this right. So, it says, “So perhaps happiness is the dramatic effort of a long and hard walk with seemingly no destination. The terrain is rough, and the weather isn’t always perfect. It’s a stroll into an abyss. But at some point, along the way, by trying to make each step a bit less about our immediate desires, we realize we’re happy, even though the journey hasn’t ended.”
And so, I just, your ‘Scarcity Brain,” I thought you took us on some adventures. I went to a lot of different places and just even talking to experts. And there’s so many characters in this book and professors and going. Going abroad, I just really appreciated all the way that you came at reminding us that we’re navigating a lot more things that are built in than we realize. And if we can just understand them a little better that it makes that journey, it just makes it easier.
Michael, remind everybody, all of the places that they can find you.
[01:17:31] Michael Easter: Yeah. The website I mentioned where I write three times a week is called 2 percent and it’s at T W O P C T. And then I’m on the socials at Michael underscore Easter. And yeah, I think that’s probably, oh, and the book is called “Scarcity Brain.”
[01:17:48] Gabby Reece: Yeah. “Scarcity Brain.” And when was the exact day it came out pretty recently.
[01:17:53] Michael Easter: Yeah, it came out last week. Yeah.
[01:17:55] Gabby Reece: So here we’re on top of it. There’s the cover. There you go. I like it. I can’t wait. I, like I said, I’m I’ll be around when you’re talking about and I won’t even, I really encourage people to read this book because you do a section on numbers that’s fascinating. Also. I really appreciated that. So, I’ll be excited to see when you’re talking about, I don’t know. We’ll see what’s going to be next.
[01:18:17] Michael Easter: Yeah. I appreciate you having me on. I’ve enjoyed this conversation just like I enjoyed the last one and hopefully we can keep having more in the future.
About Michael Easter
Michael Easter is the author of The Comfort Crisis and Scarcity Brain. He’s also a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He writes the 2% Newsletter, a popular newsletter on all aspects of health and wellness. He lives in Las Vegas on the edge of the desert with his wife and their two dogs. Learn more about him and sign up for the 2% newsletter at eastermichael.com.