When I sit down to meditate I imagine what would have happened if I won that argument with my old boss while soaring through the sky after having jumped off of a clip to escape a situation I didn’t want to be in because I’d rather be doing anything but this since having sex sounds great right now but I can’t do that because I’m meditating for an hour so that I can see through my bullshit excuses for getting upset at people who piss me off for what I now know is no good reason to have gotten pissed off but in that moment I had all the reason to get pissed off at them for cutting me off on the freeway or for even just talking too loudly while I’m trying to write a blog post that no more than 20 people will read because I’m not that good at writing which is why I’m meditating so that I can write at least one original sentence before I die an untimely death by distracting phone notifications trying to tell me that I have a new email I must read while I’m driving my car just a few blocks away so it’s fine I can get away with this it’s not like my whole life is dependent on the quality of my thoughts like all those self-help books try to preach at me.
Warning: what follows is a highly caffeinated conversation.
Today I’m speaking with the mighty and magnificent Greg Frontiero (@Sfwgreg on Twitter). As his twitter handle foreshadows, this is not a safe for work episode. So put your kids to bed, grab your best headphones, and buckle in. This is a wild one.
Greg Frontiero is the founder of Noowave, a company that creates products for optimal mental health and function. His companies first product, Flow State Coffee, is designed to help you write your next 15,000 word Essay while interviewing Barrack Obama at the same time. In layman’s terms, it’s a coffee made with L-Theanine and Raw Cacao. In layman’s layman’s terms, it’s a coffee that’ll give you enough energy to present your dissertation without the anxiety of being on your first date.
How can I be sure this episode isn’t just a 2 and a half hour commercial?
Listeners of my podcast know that I’d never plug a product this hard unless I’ve tried it and loved it. This episode is an exception. While I haven’t had a sip of Greg’s coffee, him and I are planning a future episode. The next time we record together, I’ll take my first sip of his coffee. I’ll either love it or hate it. And because I’m such a powerful influencer, it’ll be a moment that’ll either make or break his companies launch. Keep an eye out around the end of October for that episode!
Anyways, this is a two and a half hour conversation. And you can be rest assured knowing we spent only around half an hour talking about his coffee. The rest of our talk reached into the depths and heights of life, creativity, soulless sales jobs, fear and loathing in New York City, meaningful work, Greg’s career as a professional wrestler, favorite books, writing, creating a product you’re proud to sell, and everything else you’d expect from the podcast.
So, please enjoy!
Show notes and mentions
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In some cultures, Sunday is the beginning of the week. The foundation of the day, grounded in rest and recovery.
No matter what culture you’re a part of, you’re guaranteed one Sunday a week. Of course, not everyone gets to dedicate a whole day to resting. You might be the busy mom who uses Sunday to prep for your kid’s meal plan for the week. Or you might be the busy teacher grading all your student’s midterms.
If you can’t find your rest on Sunday, I hope you can find some pockets of rest throughout the week. You deserve it.
I woke up earlier than normal, thinking, “I could get a lot of work done.”
But it’s not that kind of work that I want to do today. Not the typing kind. Not the tweeting kind. And definitely not the faux-work of getting a kick of dopamine from social media.
This passage from The Bhagavad Gita explains it best.
The man who in his work finds silence, and who sees that silence is work, this man in truth sees the Light and in all his works finds peace.
P.S: Thanks for reading and listening. Big week ahead with 3 episodes of the podcast releasing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Cheers, and here’s to your good health.
You open your eyes as the alarm shrieks you out of your dream. Or maybe you’re one of those freaks who “rises with the sun,” as if your body is in a perfect cosmic alignment with the universe. Either way, you’re awake.
On a typical day, say, on a regular ol’ Tuesday, what does the first 15 minutes of your morning look like? Do you flood your psyche with information? Do you allow buzzers, bells, and airhorns to occupy your mind? Or do you employ silence as the canvas on which you will draw the roadmap of your day?
Whatever you choose, airhorns or canvases, you’re choosing intentionally. There’s no use blaming anyone but yourself for your muddy thinking and directionless days.
The smartest people I’ve ever met are those who intend to wake up on purpose.
Meditation is that state where you are no more. Your sense of Self is gone.
If you ask an artist where his work comes from, if he’s a generous artist, he’ll say, ‘I don’t know where it comes.’
Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube
Deepu Asok is the author and illustrator of the wonderful and enlightening Visual Wisdom newsletter. He’s also the host of a podcast called The Happiness Hypothesis. He’s got a serious eye for designs that pop.
Deepu and I were dming over meditation and spirituality. But he had to get going, and asked to continue our talk over zoom some time. I said sure. And of course, I asked if he wanted to record our talk for the podcast. He said yes. And so, here we are.
Please enjoy my conversation with the wonderful and wise Deepu Asok!
- On different schools of meditation and yoga (3:00)
- The benefits of doing yoga before meditation (11:00)
- Why meditate? (14:00)
- “Philosophy doesn’t transform you. Practice transform you” (21:00)
- “The lion is trying to help you, but it doesn’t know how.” (28:00)
- On Happiness and work (37:00)
- Three types of work (43:00)
- Selling on Gumroad (50:00)
- The differences between drawing and writing (55:00)
- “You’re paying for the organization of the ideas” / Constraints (1:00:00)
- Art vs Content (1:07:00)
- On books and reading (1:16:00)
- Wishful thinking (1:23:00)
- Flow in drawing (1:35:00)
- Constraints (1:40:00)
- Final questions (1:46:00)
Books and articles
It’s sad we’re even asking this question.
We find the answer when we first ask, what are we?
Well, I know what we’re not. We’re not a collection of numbers.
We like to focus on growing our metrics. Get more subscribers. Get more followers than we had last Thursday. But the numbers don’t define us. The numbers are something that somebody else invented. And we’re not defined by something that exists outside ourselves. So we shouldn’t tie our self-worth to something external. Because what exists outside ourselves could be taken away from us.
Put some distance between you and what you see. Who you are isn’t what you see. You’re not your social media numbers. You’re not the number of people retweeting your latest bit of wisdom.
What’s dangerous about tying our self-worth to numbers is that a number can always be higher. And it can always be lower, too, which is why we prefer them to be higher. Lower numbers means we’re less significant. Higher numbers means we’re accepted.
You’re a collection of experiences. But, like the numbers, you don’t have much control over your experiences, either. You couldn’t have asked your mother for an abortion.
But what you always have is control over your perception. You can choose how you’ll perceive the fact that you were born.
We lose our wallet in the same place we lose our self-worth. “Oh, it’s right in front of me.”
What’s in front of us is what blinds us. What we see always hides something else.
If you’re seeing numbers all day, then you’ll unconsciously tie your self-worth to the numbers. What gets measured gets managed, right? What gets measured gets managed by our ego. It’s our ego’s job to tie our self-worth to what we’re seeing on a day to day basis.
This is why it’s healthy to disconnect and go for a walk. Put nature in front of you, and you’ll soon realize how expedient the numbers are.
Proactive. Ambitious. Productive. Efficient.
I like those words.
Those words convey movement. When we embody any of those words, we signal to others that we mean business. Because even when we’re sitting in the backseat of a car, we can still get things done. We can listen to a podcast. Or we can write down ideas for our next blog post. Seize every opportunity!
And I like these words. Centered. Harmonious. Aware. Intentional.
Those words convey stillness. I get anxious when I’m merely productive. But I feel better when I remember this second group of words.
We’re familiar with the signals and messages of the first group. But what’s healthier is when we combine the two groups to form a compound behavior.
We can be…
Productive and centered; harmonious and ambitious; proactive and aware; efficient and intentional.
We could describe ourselves and our work with one word. But nobody is only productive. And nobody is only intentional, either. We’re always combinations of two or more qualities.
Orientation day is day zero. Going through your morning routine is like going through orientation day. It’s your day zero before your real day begins.
Your daily orientation prepares you to get what you want, not what you expect.
Machines expect. In coding, all the pieces need to be in all the right places before the software can work. The “brain” of the machine can’t operate if what’s expected is missing. So we set ourselves up for frustration when we replace our human brains with machine brains.
Humans want. Wanting is our default mode of behaving in the world. And wanting is not the same as being a spoiled child who wants to watch TV and eat snickers bars all day. Fred McFeely Rogers wanted something. So he went out, became Mr. Rogers, and got it.
And you? What do you want, and who do you need to be to get it? This question always pokes at me. It never fails to remind me that life is a metamorphosis. We’re always becoming who we’re preparing ourselves to become. And so, how we orient ourselves each day is more important than we realize. Who we become is who we’ve prepared ourselves to become.
When we rely on expectations, we’re relying on outer circumstances to play out in a particular way. We don’t need to become better versions of ourselves when we don’t get what we expected. Expectations take the responsibility away from us. “This isn’t my fault. It’s theirs.”
But when we operate from a center of wants, then we begin working to understand ourselves. It’s an act of looking inward. We can question our wants. We can see the few things we actually want, and the many things we don’t.
It’s likely that who you are now isn’t the person you need to be to get what you want. If you want a book written by Your Name, then you need to be the version of you who writes that book. And this version of you might be the version who says no to seeing your crochet club every morning so you can write your book.
Our daily orientation helps us get what we want out of ourselves and other people.
Do you want the best out of yourself?
Do you want the best out of other people?
You can prepare yourself each day to get that, if that’s what you want.
after you’ve opened your eyes. Because after you’ve opened your eyes, that’s when the real work begins.
Your most valuable asset isn’t your network. Or your portfolio.
It’s your sight.
We’re blind to what is (and isn’t) happening outside us until we can see what is (and isn’t) happening inside us.
To see what’s stopping you from moving forward, take out a pen and paper. Put your phone on airplane mode. Write down the three most important things that you need to do today. Only three. Putting more items on this list means that these three things aren’t as important as you thought. Then, write down all the ways in which you’re preventing yourself from doing those things.
For example, if your goal is to write 500 words of your next blog post, but you’re worried that it won’t be good, write that down. “I’m worried that it won’t be good.” You said your goal was to write 500 words. You didn’t say your goal was to stop worrying. So, write the 500 words.
Too often, what’s stopping us from doing what’s important is our own self-deception.
H/T to pages 190-191 of Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism. Highly recommended if you’re feeling overwhelmed today. It’s worth putting off your projects to read the book in its entirety.