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The Loneliness Epidemic with Dan Millman



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Jason Hartman brings on Dan Millman, author of The Life You Were Born To Live. They look at the issue of loneliness and discuss his book. The conversation centers around the question, “What do I want to look back on five years from now, when this is behind us?” Dan explains how people cope with the loneliness epidemic and their interaction with technology.

Jason Hartman 0:02
Welcome to the Solomon Success Show where we explore the timeless wisdom of King Solomon and the Bible as it relates to business and investing false prophets and get rich quick schemes are everywhere. Let’s not be distracted by these. Instead, let’s go to the source, the eternal principles that create a life of peace, power and prosperity. Here’s our host, Jason Hartman. Welcome to the show. This is Jason Hartman, your host and every 10th episode we do something kind of special kind of different. What we do is we go off topic so regardless of which show it is on the Hartman media network, whether it be one of the financial shows economics, real estate investing Travel, longevity, all of the other topics that we have every 10th episode, we go off topic, and we explore something of general interest, something of general life success value. And so many of our listeners around the world in 164 countries have absolutely loved our 10th episode shows. So that’s what we’re going to do today. And let’s go ahead and get to our guest with a special 10th episode show. And of course, on the next episode, we’ll be back to our regular programming. Here we go. It’s my pleasure to welcome back one of my favorite authors, and that is Dan Millman. I originally discovered his work in the way of the Peaceful Warrior, a book that changes lives, a great book and a great movie. Very popular work, and you’ve probably heard of it, but he’s the author of many books. In fact, he’s coming up on his 18th book. And today, we’ll touch on some of those in cluding the life you were born to live guide to finding your life purpose, the Peaceful Warrior, the hidden school, the four principles of life, the creative compass, and obviously topical issues as they’re going on today. Dan, welcome back. How are you?

Dan Millman 2:14
Thanks, Jason, it’s always good to visit with you.

Jason Hartman 2:17
And you’re coming to us from really one of the epicenters of this whole thing, which is New York, right. I believe you live in New York, don’t you?

Dan Millman 2:24
Yes, of course. Not only that, but actually Brooklyn, New York, which is even more active in terms of this current problem than than Manhattan. Yeah. So yes, we are definitely in but I have two daughters and their husbands and grandkids living here. And we’re all Well, that’s far following common sense protocols.

Jason Hartman 2:44
Do you know I remember, and I’ve been reading and hearing about this for a while. But I remember I think it was last year that I heard a news story that the British government created a new ministry within their government. To just address the loneliness problem, and technology as much as it brings us together, it also separates us. And it’s a strange world we’re living in nowadays at current events not withstanding, you know, but you go out anywhere, and people are seemingly together, but they’re all looking at their phones. So I don’t know if they’re together or not. And I’ll tell you an interesting experience I had. I was at a conference a few months back, and I stayed at a hotel that was in a very Amish community. And I went into a restaurant, this huge restaurant with hundreds of people. And I only saw as I walked through the restaurant, and I only saw one person looking at their phone because it was an Amish restaurant, right? And, you know, they, they don’t really engage in technology very much. And I asked my honest Amish waitress about it. And, you know, she told me, she has a smartphone and it was an Android phone. And she uses it and so forth, and You know, I just kind of asked her about all that, you know, it seemed like people were actually carrying on conversations, what a novel idea if the restaurant right. And now that we have this pandemic, I mean, this is just isolating, I mean, isolation, social distancing. Those are the buzzwords of our time. Now, what are people going to do? How is this going to affect us in the longer term?

Dan Millman 4:24
Well, I have a couple of comments that hopefully people will maybe haven’t heard yet about this whole topic. Well, you know, you mentioned just being in that Amish, mostly Amish restaurant and how it was different. It reminds me of my friend, Swami beyond Ananda. He’s sort of a new age comedian. And he said, he went to a breatharian restaurant. And and these are people who don’t eat food at all. You know, this is a joke, and I don’t

Jason Hartman 4:51
think that works very well, by the way, but going,

Dan Millman 4:53
no, no. He said, Well, he said, of course, there was no food, but the atmosphere was wonderful. So I’m just relating to your Topic how Yeah, different restaurants, different populations behave differently. But there’s something much bigger picture here. Let me let me share a story with you before I get to my major point. When I was a professor at Oberlin College in Ohio, in the physical education department, one of my colleagues, fellow teachers in that department was named Tommy Smith. Now many people remember Tommy Smith, even if they don’t remember the name right away. In the 1968 Olympics, he was the Olympic champion in the 400 meters. And he was a black athlete, and he and john Carlos were the two people in that iconic photo from the 1968 Olympics where they were on the victory stand, raising their arm, their their fist, a gloved fist over their heads. Do you remember that image? I don’t? Well, I think maybe perhaps people in the younger generation may not but it’s really an iconic image. It’s almost like the people sticking the flag up but he will Gemma and so on. And the reason I mentioned Tommy is he grew up in In an extremely impoverished environment, and one day I was I was doing this yoga thing way back when and then mid 70s. And we were doing a seven day fast. So we weren’t eating for seven days just on water. And I mentioned that just in passing to Tommy, that I wasn’t eating for seven days. And he looked at me completely puzzled and said, Dan, why would anybody not want to not eat on purpose? Because for him, it was not a thing you do voluntarily. They didn’t have enough to eat. So he couldn’t understand why I would volunteer not to eat for seven days. It was a foreign team. Now, you might wonder, Well, where’s Dan going with this? What does it have to do with loneliness? It has everything to do with it because Tommy was pointing out there’s a huge psychological difference between not being able to eat because there’s no food and choosing not to eat. And in fact, we see people in prisons who are in voluntarily isolated from other people. In the same way they call it solitary confinement. And they say it’s one of the most cruel punishment. Because we have basic needs as human beings that we don’t notice until we don’t get to fulfill them. So, you know, most people don’t think about the need to eat that much because they have enough to eat. But when they don’t, then they think about it and they realize how much it’s needed. How about air, you know, hold your breath for a while until it becomes uncomfortable. We don’t think about it, we take it for granted breathing until we can’t for whatever reason there have difficulty with it. So it’s a huge difference. You know, Joan Baez, the folk singer once said, I’m not for voluntary poverty, I’m against involuntary poverty. So psychologically, the same punishment that solitary confinement among prisoners or inmates, there are monks who voluntarily are in the same situation. little little cells, and they’re alone for long, long periods of time. But the difference again, psychologically is one is voluntary. One is involuntary. Okay, so what

Jason Hartman 8:10
is what does that mean to us? what we what

Dan Millman 8:12
we call loneliness, what does that mean? We could call it solitude, we could call it peace and quiet. It’s, it’s something that we begin to appreciate being with people. So most of us know, it’s like, oh, man, all these people on the street. It’s crowded, under normal circumstances. But now we start to appreciate, you may have found yourself I don’t know what it’s like, right in your immediate area. But in Brooklyn, you see a lot of people on the streets normally and now. They’re actually people saying hello to one another through their masks. Where that doesn’t happen. Literally New Yorkers are known for not saying hi to people, because we’re overwhelmed with people normally. So I think that the plus side of this idea we call loneliness is it’s going to help us appreciate The joy of being with other people and crowd so they’re taking it for granted. I that was a long roundabout response. But I think it was to make a point, just talking about loneliness. And oh, yes, it’s too bad people are feeling lonely. But they are also appreciating my connection with other people.

Jason Hartman 9:16
And so certainly I agree, you know, we we appreciate things more when we don’t have them when we you know, for you, the blind who wants could see the bell tolls for the great rush song, by the way. But it’s also a lesson in life, right? And so so we appreciate that stuff. And that’s important. My question is, so what do we do about it? Or is this something we need to fix? Or is it something we need to adjust to? I guess?

Dan Millman 9:42
Well, there is another principle that constraints breed creativity. For example, anybody can sit down and write a prose poem. They can just write some nice words and maybe they rhyme. But if they’re given the assignment to write a high coupon, you know, the Japanese poetry that has to be done in three lines with five syllables in the first line seven in the second, and five in the third, that is constrained. And that brings out our creativity. So writing a haiku absolutely is going to stimulate that. And so when you say what do we do about people feeling lonely? People are already doing things about it. They’re doing their very best to connect with people, as you say, through whether it’s phones or screens. It’s become Can you imagine? Can you imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have the internet? Right? And this pandemic, it started here. I can’t, I personally don’t it would be a nightmare. But people are connecting. They’re connecting as best they can the windows yelling for, you know, at 7pm for they help workers and first responders. People are connecting with old friends by text. Have you found yourself doing this text messages and even more than normal, right? Just to check in with relatives. So I think we are Doing things about it in response to that felt need to connect with other people. Okay,

Jason Hartman 11:04
so just to back up a little bit before the pandemic, right, I had already been studying this issue I was, I’ve been pretty interested in this issue because I think it is a really a pressing global problem. And before current events, I remember listening to a news story where a woman, an older woman was talking about how sometimes she just goes to the store, because she doesn’t need to buy anything. She just wants to talk to someone. She just wants to talk to the clerk. And I was so sad when I heard that. I mean, that that’s terrible. You know, so that so this is a problem that’s much bigger than current events, although I think current events have exacerbated it for sure. Any, anything you can speak to and with that comes a sense of anxiety too. So maybe you want to blend that into to the conversation, and maybe it can’t be fixed. Maybe it’s just something that needs to be managed and certainly all the technology that you mentioned, yes, people We’re using that and that’s great. But you know, it doesn’t completely solve the problem does it?

Dan Millman 12:05
Well, look, life is a series of problems that we have to solve. I mean, that’s what comes up in daily life like it’s a form of spiritual weight training. If you don’t lift any weights, you don’t get stronger. And that’s just lessons emerge from these any difficulty whenever there’s an emotional charge, there’s a lesson to be learned. And so when we’re facing these constraints, this situation, which is pretty much unprecedented in most of our lifetimes, there are many lessons that emerge in you know, the analogy I draw is with athletes, people who are skilled athletes, I’ve never seen a single skilled athlete, coordinated fast, quick with balance and rhythm and timing. I’ve never seen anyone who we would call dumb. You know, their whole stereotype about dumb jocks. Actually, athletes have smart nervous systems. That’s why they train and so they may not be academically motivated all of them in the traditional sense. They’re not dumb, people who are coordinated so because the nervous system is connected up to the brainstem to the brain. And so in the same way, but athletes learn lessons about life, they learned spiritual or universal laws through their training, the law of process, how we get results through step by step learning, athletes learn that you can’t control the outcomes, but you can control your efforts. And by making a good effort, you increase the odds of getting the outcome you want. Athletes know this at the cell level. Not they wouldn’t recite it necessarily. The point is, they learn about the present moment, the law of presence. athletes who were involved in play and performance and competition, aren’t thinking about what they’re going to do tomorrow. They’re focused on the present moment, that pure awareness. So the point is they learn all these lessons and yet they don’t know they’re learning the lessons because they’re so focused on the external rewards the games, the winning the losing the points the times, so they don’t know they’re learning it and we’re in exactly the same position right? Now, we are learning lessons every day about ourselves, about our politicians about the state of the world about medical readiness, not just the obvious ones. In the struggles we’ve had to keep up with masks and hand sanitizer, and those are the obvious big lessons. But there are so many emerging about ourselves about our families, people who are two or three kids and they’re they’re doing a home schooling. So they’re learning about themselves talk about it, leap and self knowledge. So much will come out of this just like it does for athletes, but we may have to reflect on it for years when we realize all that we’ve learned and changed. So I think this is a well you know, there’s there’s a old Serbian proverb, two men looked at prisons bars, one saw mud, and the other saw stars. Now, both mud and stars exists, we have to we can’t ignore them. But where do we want to put our attention? So I think we can focus on also the strength And the resilience, the perspective that is going to come out of this period. Sure. But even while we’re in it, so we’re like, we’re like the, you know, there are three mysteries in this world air to the birds, water to the fish, and humanity to itself. Because we’re immersed in the moment,

Jason Hartman 15:19
you know, the context of our lives, it drives so much that we don’t necessarily notice it and that more appropriately maybe the context of our mind, our mindset, right? It determines so many things, and that’s a great point. So you know, there’s this concept in economics called hedonic adjustments. And, and they use that to manipulate someone say, and I would do the consumer price index and to hide inflation that’s really there and they say, well, the new computer you got or the new car you got is so much better than the old one. Even though you paid $3,000 for that new computer, it’s twice as good The last one. So in real dollars, it was really only 1500. Right? Like there’s this adjustment. But the reason I bring that up, Dan is not to talk about economics, but to talk about our mindset and the context in which we live and our expectations, because we as humans had dynamically adjust. And hedonic is just that, you know, obviously, the root word is hedonism. Right? Pleasure seeking, like, How much? How much pleasure do we get out of a thing? So you mentioned spiritual weightlifting, and I really liked that point. So that’s sort of an adjustment like you talked about the athletes that are sort of You didn’t say this, but it I would say it in the zone, right? And they’re just doing their thing. And their muscle memory is learning things right. their nervous system is, is just automatically learning things. Sort of even without trying. Well, what are we learning now? You know, are we are we spiritually weightlifting now, if we’re stuck at home with no one around us and you know, people are in very different of environments around the world. You know, some people are in little shacks. Some people are in crowded places. Some people are with big families. It’s all different for everybody.

Dan Millman 17:09
All it is. And it’s that’s important to keep in mind. We tend to think the whole world is like in our situation, but it’s all for the again for the homeless, for example, what that’s like. So yes, everyone has various different challenges. And yet, and yet, as we it’s been said many times before, I don’t mean to be too cliche, but we are in this together. This is worldwide. It’s much more prevalent, and intense in high density areas like New York City, for example, that it is some spread out areas where most everybody drives places in cars goes inside comes out, gets in their car, where you don’t have public transportation, that sort of thing as much. But we all know sensory deprivation experiments that have been done, I once did an experiment in which I went into a bear room with just a mattress Tetris, I brought in no books, no entertainment of any kind. This is even before smartphones of any kind. And it was part of a training I was going through I’m writing about in a memoir I’m working on right now. But basically in that room I went in Friday night, I had a sheet over the window, there was no view. It was dimly lit. And I sat in that room doing essentially nothing for till Monday morning. And that is much more challenging than many people might buy gas.

Jason Hartman 18:29
I believe you. Yeah, Joe, you were basically in solitary confinement. So I was

Dan Millman 18:33
like, like the hermit, but I’ll tell you what I came out of there. On Monday morning. I was looking at the world sensing it, smelling it, feeling it taste tasting it with the census of a young child, right?

Jason Hartman 18:45
It’s like, Wow,

Dan Millman 18:46
look at the sky. Look at the trees. Look at those people. It was it’s hard to really convey but some people have done these isolation tanks, flow tanks, where they get into this big tank of water. That’s body temperature. Their hands are investing gloves with cotton. They don’t feel anything. They can’t hear anything. It’s soundproof. And they start hallucinating after a while a

Jason Hartman 19:08
lot of those places are well, opening back up, I guess around the country. Yes, yeah.

Dan Millman 19:12
Well, we’re doing this though, in a sense whether, whether it’s as extreme or not, our lives have all been simplified, we’re home more of the time, less stimulated. And it actually tunes up our reticular activating system, the RAS and the brainstem, where we start to notice the small things again. And in terms of perspective, we’re realizing that a lot of the things we thought were so important, are small stuff. And this is big stuff right now, our health, being able to just go to a store. I mean, the other day I remarked to my wife, I am home writing myself working on the book a lot, but I went out to get some toothpaste and that was the biggest event of my whole day. So again, you have a different set.

Jason Hartman 19:56
Well, that’s that’s like the lonely old lady in that Yesterday I was talking about, you know, just just so she can have a tiny little conversation with a clerk that you know made her feel better. I mean

Dan Millman 20:09
exactly. I mean many elders just go into the doctor’s their big event of the week right? And and so they invent sometimes they invent small pains, aches, whatever, not always. Just to go to the doctor and talk to

Jason Hartman 20:21
just says, hey, that’s what Chi hypochondriacs Do They Know It’s an attention getting mechanism, right?

Dan Millman 20:26
Yeah. And but there may be other motives it just just lonely, again, sure to talk to someone and have them give you their attention and caring. So there’s so many related topics, but we’re learning these lessons today. You know, there’s an old proverb you know, the god comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. And sometimes we turned to belief and religion and faith when our foundations are shaking, only to realize it’s it’s spirit who’s shaking them. So we’re all being shaken up and I’m pointing up right now. We’re being shaken upward. And we’ll eventually get past this and not entirely even. But hopefully if we get a vaccine in the next year or so, if we’re lucky, then we can treat this as just one of those things like the flu because we’ll have a vaccination, we might have treatments. But right now, humanity is going through a transformation and no one promised it would always be pleasant.

Jason Hartman 21:23
So some people are using this time in creative ways, some are using it to become better people, some are studying You know, there are people that did sort of menial jobs before that are learning how to do computer programming now, and you know, taking all these courses online and just bettering themselves and that’s great. And they’re, they’re exercising, they’re doing all the good things right that really in the long term make us all better and feel better. And others sadly are eating potato chips, drinking beer and sitting on the sofa watching TV all day. Yes. What How can we best use this time? And not just? How can we best use it? Because I think most people actually know the answer to that question, even if they’re not practicing it. But how do we get ourselves to use this time? Well, maybe is the better question.

Dan Millman 22:17
Yeah. And I would in response to that, I’m going to read a very brief note, we can watch

Jason Hartman 22:22
the way the Peaceful Warrior read it. And as Socrates

Dan Millman 22:27
Well, that’s what that’s one approach. But I think a good reminder look, many people have in the past commuted to work and they had long commutes, and sometimes heavily trafficked communities, right. And some people would just be frustrated traffic honking their horn, maybe listening to music, but others learned a language. During their commute. They learned a new language. They listen to favorite books, and they were almost disappointed when they finally got there because they wanted to hear what happened next in the book. So we all make these choices as you just pointed out, but there’s a saying to progress towards Our goals, we can choose one of two methods. And the first method I’m about to describe to you is very popular, but I recommend the second method. Here’s the first one. Find a way to quiet your mind. Create empowering beliefs. Raise your self esteem and practice positive self talk, to find your focus and affirm your power to free your emotions and visualize positive outcomes. So that you can develop the confidence to generate the courage to find the determination to make the commitment to feel sufficiently motivated to do whatever it is you need to do.

Jason Hartman 23:40
It sounds like any number of motivational seminars I’ve been.

Dan Millman 23:43
Yeah, well, would you like to know the second method? Yeah, go for it. You can just do it. Because life is always going to come down to what we do. Our lives, if we look at it very realistically. has our life right now has been shaped by what we have done in the past. Just not what we thought, not positive thoughts, not what we felt, because emotions change all the time, we have much less control over what we feel or what we think at any given moment than what we actually do. So it’s going to come down to that. Now it’s not as if we have to make every moment count. That’s crazy making. There are times we need to kick back, take a nap, watch a video, relax, chill out space out. But other times it’s like, what is my goal? You know, there was a Japanese psychiatrist once who had three really good bits of advice. He said, First, accept whatever thoughts and feelings you have as natural to you in that moment, whether they’re positive or negative. They’re natural to you in the moment, accept them. You don’t have to fix them, change them, run from them, deny them just accept them. They’re there, as in meditation, just notice them. The second thing is what is your purpose? What do you want to get done? And the third is do whatever it needs. You need to to get that done. You know, in line with your purpose, not in line with some philosophy, but in line with what do you want to get done? So, when people are day by day, their home most of the time? What do they want to get done? Is it cleaning the house? is it doing the dishes? Is it organizing? Is it writing a book, writing some music, doing some creative endeavor painting a picture drawing something, anybody with a pencil and paper can become an artist? Just draw. So there are different ways to pass our time. And some, the question really becomes this. And it might be a good one to kind of wind down on which is, what do I want to look back on five years or 10 years from now? How did I treat this period? What do you used to make of it? Because as we all know, we can’t control you know, life comes at us and Waves of Change. I’ve been saying this for decades, but now it’s really hitting home. But we can’t control or predict those waves but we can learn to surf them and make the best use of them.

Jason Hartman 25:57
Yeah, good stuff Dan. give out your website.

Dan Millman 26:00
website for those who are curious is peaceful

Jason Hartman 26:04
and Millman. Thanks again for joining us.

Dan Millman 26:06
My pleasure, Jason.

Jason Hartman 26:12
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