#225 ‒ The comfort crisis, doing hard things, rucking, and more | Michael Easter, MA

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Michael Easter is the author of the bestseller, The Comfort Crisis. He’s also a journalist, Professor of Journalism at UNLV, and a leading voice on how humans can integrate modern science and evolutionary wisdom for improved health, meaning, and performance in life and at work. In this episode, Michael first talks about his upbringing, including his parents' struggle with alcoholism, his father leaving when he was young, and how these things impacted Michael's own struggle with alcoholism. He explains what led to his realization that we are in a “crisis of comfort” and how the removal of many of life’s discomforts through advancements in modern society may actually be a leading contributor to many of our most urgent physical and mental health issues. He explains the benefits of challenging oneself and the immense positive carryover which can come from doing things we find difficult. He describes the consequences of technology like smartphones, which have effectively eliminated boredom—a discomfort that comes with many benefits. He tells the story of a profound experience at an elk hunt that changed Michael’s thoughts around life and death, how happiness can thrive in places without all of the modern comforts of the West, and why we’re hardwired for stress and what to do about it. They conclude with a conversation around rucking, an activity with many physical and mental benefits.

We discuss:

  • The value in doing something difficult [2:30];
  • Michael’s upbringing with a single parent and alcoholism [5:45];
  • Michael’s battle with alcoholism and his experience with quitting drinking [10:00];
  • Origin of the idea that we are in a crisis of comfort [20:30];
  • The death of boredom in modern society [28:45];
  • The benefits of boredom [36:00];
  • The value of disconnecting and being in nature [39:15];
  • Changing the dynamic of how we think about food and the story of Peter’s daughter’s first hunt [43:45];
  • How a profound experience at an elk hunt changed Michael’s thoughts about life and death [49:15];
  • How happiness can thrive in places without all of the modern comforts of the West [57:15];
  • Why we’re hardwired for stress, and the responsibility that comes with our level of comfort [1:05:30];
  • How perspective on the timescale of our lives in relation to history can impart positive changes [1:14:00];
  • The benefit of challenging oneself and the positive carryover it can have [1:19:45];
  • The many benefits of rucking [1:28:45];
  • Tips for rucking: ideal load, type of pack, and other considerations [1:38:00];
  • Parting thoughts on the downside of comfort and benefits of difficult things [1:43:00]; and
  • More.

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