The 7 Primes of Life
2:00:41We live in a culture that prizes youth and tells us that, once our wild 20s are over, we're basically on the slow train to decay and death. But modern science tells us otherwise, as we set out to explore in this episode. Given the cultural narrative of decline and fall, do we even have a sense of what the stages of life are beyond child–teenager–worker–pensioner–dead? New research suggests that there are seven distinct 'primes of life', each with their own strengths, which call into question the narrative of inescapable decay. We look at what we gain as well as what we lose as our years increase – but not without questioning how the scientists came to these conclusions! The studies prompt us to ask what we should prioritise at different stages of our life – when's the time to go all-out, to study something deeply, or to be hitting the gym on the regular? The story of our physical and psychological development is complex and sometimes paradoxical. But beyond the science of it all, how can (and how should) we conceptualise all this so we can say we've led a Good Life? We dig into: the different strengths we gain as we grow older the power of myth to make sense of and value our different primes what we actually lose and gain how Jungian Psychology can reframe our dismissive, mocking attitude to having a 'midlife crisis' Jon riffs on what Carl Jung called the 'Individuation Process', the ancient concepts of the Daimon and the Genius, and we ask how these theories can help us to grow and become who we truly are. LINK: The scientist whose creativity was unleashed after having a stroke is Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. Check out her TED talk here. Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
(Economic) Apocalypse Now – Are We Weeks Away From Global Financial Meltdown?
1:51:26Jon’s been getting disturbing dispatches from Andrea. Is the economy about to crash like never before? Was 2008’s Big Short just a dress rehearsal for an incoming apocalypse that will shred the stock market and rewrite the future of society? More importantly, should we all be investing in GameStop? Well, perhaps. Andrea’s been going incredibly deep into this very confusing world and he’s back to fill the rest of us in. Jon’s not convinced the end is nigh, but there’s definitely something disturbing going on in the financial heart of our ‘civilisation’. Whatever happens next, we need to arm ourselves with better information and think about the kind of society we’d want to build in the prospective ruins of the current world order. Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
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Righteous Anger – A New Beginning?
1:35:16Andrea returns for a live, YouTube-streamed episode as we finally get back in the recording saddle! And we're back with anger. Or at least, a certain kind of anger: the channelled variety which Andrea says is essential to making a true connection with and impact on the outside world. We've decided to shake things up a bit, so we're putting aside our coverage of 'The Laws of Human Nature' and, starting with this episode, will be focusing on issues that fire us up and which need to be talked about. What better place to start than a global conspiracy that continues to put the blame and responsibility for global warming and natural destruction on the shoulders of individuals rather than the true culprits... No, this isn't a 5G conspiracy – it's much worse than that... Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
Solo Cast & The Conspiracy on Pushkin Street
1:07:31This episode is an experiment. Jon turns on the mic for a solo cast – to reflect on what life in the pandemic means and the challenges of finding meaning and direction in a world where it feels impossible to plan for the future. We've also go an update for you on the state of the podcast, and Jon's inviting you to get in touch with him via his websiteto offer some feedback, questions, and prompts for future episodes like this. Jon then shares an article he wrote for the Los Angeles Review of Books which was published a few months ago: The Conspiracy on Pushkin Street: The Costs of Humour in the USSR. The piece reveals the long-lost story of five students who found themselves sentenced to the Gulag just for telling jokes and chewing the fat in their dormitory... it's a tragic tale which you'll see has more than a few unsettling parallels with modern-day Cancel Culture. Thanks for listening – we appreciate you. Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
Are You Conscious? Westworld, Neuroscience, And Living In The Virtual – With Special Guest Michael Garfield
1:33:33Here's a hidden treasure from the VITD archives for you – our interview with the brilliant and fascinating Michael Garfield! Michael's the host of the Future Fossils podcast, an artist, musician, and a 'sense-maker' of what it means to be having this strange human experience. We spoke to Michael some years ago and for reasons lost to history the episode got mislaid but has now resurfaced! So, not a whisper of Covid to be found, and Jon and Andrea might sound rather chirpier than they have during 2020 – both of which are distinct selling points for the episode. Listening back in the editing room has been a treat that's alternately mind-melting and mind-expanding. Michael brings his unique perspective as a futurist-palaeontologist to bear on the human condition, on what he calls 'a quest to be better ancestors'. In our chat, we dig into Big Questions: What even is reality? If we could truly grasp all its multiple layers, would we even want to, or would it simply drive us insane? Do we have souls and, if so, can they be cloned? And why is Richard Dawkins such a dick? Andrea shares what happened when he dropped acid and watched the whole of Altered Carbon – what do that show's ideas of 'the virtual' have to teach us about our inherently subjective perspective on, well, everything? We also talk Westworld, free will, where fantasies come from, and what it means to be insane. Frankly, there's no way to summarise the richness of this episode, so hit play and discover it all for yourself! Connect with Michael Michael's Patreon Page The Future Fossils podcast Get In Touch! Discuss the episode over on our Facebook Discussion Group And you can find us on Instagram and Twitter Or email us: [email protected] Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
The Laws of Human Nature 12: Poison Envy
1:51:44Envy is an inescapable part of the human experience. But nobody likes to feel – let alone admit to – envy. Instead, whenever we feel the stirrings of the green serpent, we rapidly turn the feeling outwards, projecting that gut churning insecurity onto the object of our desire. So, we're not envious – that person just got lucky; they knew the right people; their stuff isn't even that good! And on and on it goes, because we'd rather demolish someone else than pause for even a moment to admit that we actually feel inferior, weak and vulnerable. This episode quickly becomes very personal. Jon and Andrea put each other in the hot seat by revealing which envious tendencies they've detected in each other. The results are uncomfortable to say the least. And what about the dangers of provoking envy in others? They're not going to admit to that emotion either, so we need to learn to look beneath the surface in order to root out their true feelings. Learning to read microexpressions is just one to break the envy code. Robert counsels us against gossiping and badmouthing other people because this is often simply a mask for envy. But this troubles us. Is it really so bad to have some fun by badmouthing people we don't like? Does envy always lie just beneath the surface when we do this? Ultimately, giving everyone else the 'benefit of the doubt' without ever revising our opinions based on their actions is a one-way ticket to getting walked all over. Some people are simply assholes, and the most toxic among us have generally become highly adept at concealing it. The real lesson here is not that we should all try to be angels constantly beating ourselves up for feeling envy, but to become expert at understanding our own emotions. Is it envy we're projecting outwards into mean-spirited feelings, or, if we look closely, are these negative emotions justified by the actions of our target? This is delicate internal work, and we dig deep in this episode to understand the nuances between boundaries, envy, gossip, and just having some fun. Also Including: The envious underbelly of Frankenstein's Mary Shelley First impressions and how to weaponise them Drag queens and envy The spectre of Brian Rose In our society, are dreams only for the talented? Get In Touch! Discuss the episode over on our Facebook Discussion Group And you can find us on Instagram and Twitter Or email us: [email protected] Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
The Laws of Human Nature 11: Discovering the Shadow
1:54:59Maybe you've heard of the shadow? Even if you haven't, you've got one – and there's no escaping it. This episode, we discuss how to discover it, accept it, and stop being driven by negative emotions you don't consciously understand. Carl Jung's idea of the shadow side of the personality is fascinating, vital, and compelling. But it's usually presented in an incredibly complex way – thankfully Robert has made it super accessible, and we're here to break down what it means for all of us today. As we grow up, we're rewarded for certain kinds of behaviour and punished for others. We learn, as children and young adults, to edit ourselves so that we feel loved and accepted. The result is that we start to disown and shut away aspects of ourselves – locking them in the closet and pretending they don't exist. But they do... and sometimes they seize control. The shadow takes over. 'Something came over me!' people exclaim – but that's not true at all. Something came out of them. The shadow speaks, particularly at moments of anger, fear, and stress. Andrea warns that we have to take these emotional outbursts seriously. When people show you who they are – believe them. It doesn't mean that they are only their shadow, but if someone tells you 'you'd be nothing without me!', that came from a real (if usually hidden) place. This isn't just about losing your temper. It's also about how we unconsciously shape ourselves in a way to get our secret, shadowy needs met. If, deep down, we want to be cared for, we can become control freaks until we burn ourselves out and people have to look after us. Or if we feel attracted to members of the same sex, we can become virulently homophobic. Hidden behind these powerful emotions is something else, trying to find expression. Repression doesn't win: it only creates an opposing force which tries to burst its way out of the closet to finally get what it wants. The shadow cannot be escaped – it has to be consciously integrated. You can't make it other people's problems without trashing your relationships and living in a state of repression and denial. And that's exhausting – so exhausting that you won't have anything left over to live the rest of your life. To get anywhere with this psychological enquiry, we have to make sure we ground it in real life examples. Robert offers us the story of Richard Nixon, but we also throw ourselves under the bus, along with Trump, the Tiger King, and a guy who decided to trash Andrea's apartment. Also Including: What if Nixon had been loved? Do autistic people have a shadow – or are they living their shadow? Making sense of emotional outbursts Homophobia and the shadow The psychology of politics (and Donald Trump) Stop being aggressively unique! Get In Touch! Discuss the episode over on our Facebook Discussion Group And you can find us on Instagram and Twitter Or email us: [email protected] Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
The Laws of Human Nature 10: The Attitude Adjustment
1:28:40Time to escape the mind prison. This episode is like a shot of distilled Stoicism... are you ready? Tapping into our true nature and living a good life often comes down to breaking the cycle – to escape the common fate of becoming just an echo of an echo of all the mistakes that came before you, be it in your family or your community. If we don't break free, we end up repeating the same patterns and simply becoming a victim of our birth. This often plays out in what we might call The Drama Triangle, where we alternate between the roles of the Hero, the Victim and the Villain. It doesn't matter which role you play – the life you'll be leading is one of unnecessary and harmful drama. One of the ways to break free, Robert tells us, is to forgive others. But we question this – is it essential to forgive the people who've done you wrong, or is there a middle way that's more of a letting go and moving on? The world is inherently chaotic and over the years we start building defences to try to protect ourselves. We impose shapes and patterns through our beliefs about the world and about ourselves. Over time, these become ossified and unbending, and we close ourselves off from the great richness and variety of life. But we can overcome this fearful tendency. We can catch ourselves when we get stuck in fixed beliefs and intentionally restore the fluidity of attitude which brings ourselves and our world alive. The most important aspect of this is learning to let go of the need to be right and instead experiment with actually being happy in a world which we do not and cannot control. As we explore, our experience is inherently subjective and, as such, is in our hands. Robert calls on Carl Jung to help us navigate this reality with skill and awareness and thereby avoid becoming trapped in our own, unconsciously-constructed mind prisons. Robert provides us with tools to escape the mind prisons of anxiety, depression, and resentment (and Jon in particular shares his own struggles with these). If we don't do the work, we'll remain in prison. Free will probably exists – but it's really, really hard. We have to put in the work or otherwise resign ourselves to a life that rolls along the tracks laid out for us by habit, inheritance and fear. Also Including: How to Chekhov yourself Debbie Downers and Negative Nancies The Japanese Consulate's emergency helpline for tourists in Paris Finding who you really are by trying out different personas Normal-speed montages Get In Touch! Discuss the episode over on our Facebook Discussion Group And you can find us on Instagram and Twitter Or email us: [email protected] Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
The Laws of Human Nature 9: Five Strategies To Become a Master Persuader
1:11:08This is our second episode exploring The Law of Defensiveness, but this time we're breaking it down into some clear steps on how to hone our ability to interact and work with other people! Robert has five key strategies, some of which we dig, some of which we think need some careful reflection before we put them into practice. Becoming a Deep Listener is a great place to start – by listening to others and getting out of your own head and internal narrative, we can learn so much more about the person across from us. When we pay real attention to what lights someone up and what makes them anxious, we're able to shape our reactions appropriately, enriching the conversation and even forging a lasting relationship. Jon brings up his experience of studying a 'negotiation' course. We dig into the 'Mirror Technique' and how to use it without sounding like a malfunctioning robot. Another key technique is to proactively shape the mood of every interaction you have. This isn't rocket science, and yet we so often neglect to do it. If we take the time to bring the right energy to a situation, we can match speeds with other people and truly connect with them. When we try to speak to their best selves, we pay them implicit compliments and give them a judgement-free space to really come out of their defensive shell. Still, encouragement can be a delicate affair – we can be so prickly when it comes to critical feedback, but without it, we end up living a life of dangerous delusion. Confirming other people's self-opinion is a vital skill, but we need to be very careful not to chug down flattery and get drunk on compliments at the expense of reality. Another key principle is not to make other people feel beholden to you. As we explain, the counterintuitive trick to getting help is not to remind others that they owe you one, but instead to remind them of all they've done for you in the past. And, perhaps most important of all, we must carefully allay other people's insecurities by being sensitive to where they lack confidence. Instead, we can learn to praise their deliberate choices, valuing the work and effort they've made, rather than vaguely saying they have 'talent'. Telling Adele she's a great singer means nothing to her; complimenting her for the incredible nuance of her songwriting or emotional delivery, on the other hand, are far more meaningful contributions. Remember, this isn't about manipulation – this is about being a better human. If we could sum this up in a simple mantra, it would be: Don't manipulate people – invest in your relationships. Dividends will follow, but only if the investment is real. Also Including: The Conversation D-Pad – check it out here Providing the right kind of encouragement at the right moment Painting fences the Tom Sawyer way Doing a bad job... strategically Gifts that aren't gifts The decline of Jordan Peterson Get In Touch! Discuss the episode over on our Facebook Discussion Group And you can find us on Instagram and Twitter Or email us: [email protected] Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.
The Laws of Human Nature 8: Three Core Beliefs And How To Disarm Them
1:29:40This could be the most important Law of all: The Law of Defensiveness. At our emotional core, we're all desperately grasping onto three basic ideas – the sense that we're independent; that we are intelligent in our own way; and that we are, overall, a good and decent person. It doesn't matter that a lot of the time this isn't true – these ideas remain the cornerstones of our sense of self and we'll defend them to the last. Knowing this and learning how to manoeuvre our way around other people's internal narratives, we can finally begin to exert influence on the world around us. Robert takes the example of the rise of Lyndon Johnson. This prickly and driven young man was going nowhere fast in US politics, but once he learnt how to validate and play to other people's emotional needs, his ascent was nothing short of astonishing. What Johnson's story reveals is that effectiveness and influence isn't about having particular skills, abilities, or even about paying your dues. It's about making other people feel good around and about you. Robert reveals several key strategies to achieve this. First, we must play the role of the student: we must ask other people's opinions and advice, putting them at their ease and allowing them to feel seen and heard. So often we go through life trying to charm people with our own ideas, but this frequently backfires. When we stop talking about ourselves and what we think, we tune ourselves to other people's wisdom, experience and interests, opening the doors to deeper connection and ever greater possibilities. Most people also crave validation so badly that they can rarely turn it down. Once you become a source of that sweet nectar, you'll rarely have to ask for anything – they will want to do it for you. This rapidly starts to feel creepy and manipulative – but why? Jon and Andrea examine this disgust reflex because, when we look closely, this is how human relations work... we just spend a lot of our time ignoring it. Still, the ethics are confusing here. Are we merely making an unconscious habit into a conscious strategy, or are we lying in order to get what we want? Is this about finding ways to use people, or finding ways to connect and collaborate? Ultimately, this Law is about practical empathy and learning to put our egos on hold. Instead of building walls around ourselves, it's about going outside to explore the world and the people around us. It's also about the lessons we can learn from the Eagle of Resistance (tune in to find out what the hell that means...). Also Including: The power of the John Wick system Honesty as a blunt – and often offensive – instrument D&D rules for everyday life How to pay an effective compliment Ned Stark redeemed? Punishing passive aggression Get In Touch! Discuss the episode over on our Facebook Discussion Group And you can find us on Instagram and Twitter Or email us: [email protected] Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.