Ep132: How to Pursue Fulfilling Work and Find Your ‘Calling’ | with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar

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Working long & stressful hours is hard enough when you absolutely love the content you’re creating and live for what you do. But how can you survive when you don’t even enjoy the work you do and have no emotional connection to the stories you tell? In my opinion, any emotional disconnection from your work coupled with unbearable hours is a recipe for surefire burnout (I’ve been there and done that more times than I can count).

Do you find yourself taking a string of “paycheck” jobs hoping you can put off your happiness until you reach the next “success milestone” in your career based on other people’s definition of success rather than your own?

Or are you perhaps stuck busting your butt building your “career” but at the expense of your well-being, your family, your happiness, and your sanity?

Or are you one of the lucky few who’s found their “calling” in life and can’t imagine doing anything else, yet you still struggle to balance your work with the rest of your life?

Today’s guest, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar lends some hope to all these situations and helps guide you on a path to a more fulfilling career that includes being happy. Dr. Shahar is a bestselling author and lecturer who has taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership. He is the founder of the Happiness Studies Academy whose mission is to help educate people about a more holistic approach to happiness. He uses practical strategies from the field of positive psychology to help people align their careers with their values and ideals so they can stop competing in the neverending rat race and escape the endless cycle of burnout.

Tal and I go deep down the rabbit hole of what it means to have success and happiness in your career and whether or not the two are mutually exclusive. Spoiler alert: Being happy and having success are not mutually exclusive, it all depends on how you define each for yourself. We discuss the difference between having a job vs. a career vs. a calling and the practical ways you can shift your mindset to find fulfillment on any path.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • What does Tal mean by: “Life is too short to do what I’m supposed to do but it’s just long enough to do what I want to do”.
  • How Tal’s past history of being a squash player led him to becoming a happiness expert.
  • What the Hamburger Model is and how he transformed it into the Happiness Model.
  • The 4 Archetypes of Happiness and how they relate to your career.
  • Tal uses the science of happiness to diagnose the entertainment industry.
  • How we misunderstand the nature of happiness.
  • Having success too quickly is actually a curse in disguise.
  • My story of waking up to what success vs happiness means.
  • What The Paradox of Happiness is and why you shouldn’t “pursue happiness”.
  • The essential elements of happiness
  • How the “age of distraction” is contributing to women not enjoying time with their children.
  • What are the “islands of sanity” and how does it help us find more flow or peak performances in life.
  • The different ways we can reorient our thinking to see the importance of the work we do.
  • How to use self concordant goals to direct your career path and find fulfilling work.
  • The ultimate cause of burnout and the three elements to use to avoid it.
  • The mantra Tal uses with his kids, his students and himself to stay on the path of happiness and fulfillment.
  • Why Tal created the Happiness Studies Certificate program and how you can join.
  • Three practical ideas for becoming happier today.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Happiness Studies Program: Get 10% off with code HAPPY

Tal’s Instagram Page

Tal’s Facebook Page

Tal’s Twitter Page

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold 0:00

My name is Zack Arnold, I'm a Hollywood film and television editor, a documentary director, father of two, an American Ninja Warrior in training and the creator of Optimize Yourself. For over 10 years now I have obsessively searched for every possible way to optimize my own creative and athletic performance. And now I'm here to shorten your learning curve. Whether you're a creative professional who edits, writes or directs, you're an entrepreneur, or even if you're a weekend warrior, I strongly believe you can be successful without sacrificing your health, or your sanity in the process. You ready? Let's design the optimized version of you.

Hello, and welcome to the Optimize Yourself podcast. If you're a brand new Optimizer, I welcome you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy today's conversation. If you were inspired to take action after listening today, why not tell a friend about the show and help spread the love? And if you're a longtime listener and optimizer O.G., welcome back. Whether you're brand new, or you're seasoned vet, if you have just 10 seconds today, it would mean the world to me if you click the subscribe button in your podcast app of choice, because the more people that subscribe, the more that iTunes and the other platforms can recognize this show. And thus the more people that you and I can inspire to step outside their comfort zones to reach their greatest potential. And now on to today's show. Working long and stressful hours is hard enough when you absolutely love the content that you're creating in live for what you do. But how can you survive when you don't even enjoy the work that you do and you have no emotional connection to the stories that you tell? In my opinion, any emotional disconnection from your work, coupled with unbearable hours is a recipe for Surefire burnout. Trust me, I've been there and done that more times than I can count. Do you find yourself taking a string of paycheck jobs, hoping you can put off your happiness until you reach the next quote unquote, success milestone in your career? That's simply based on other people's definition of success and not your own? Or maybe you're stuck busting your butt building your career, but it's at the expense of your well being your family, your happiness and your sanity? Or are you one of the lucky few who has found their calling in life, and you can't imagine doing anything else, yet you still struggle to balance your work with the rest of your life. Today's guest Dr. Tal Ben Shahar lend some hope to all of these situations, and he helps guide you on a path to a more fulfilling career. That includes being happy. Dr. Shahar is a best selling author and lecturer who's taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University's history, positive psychology, and the psychology of leadership. He is the founder of the happiness studies Academy whose mission is to help educate people about a more holistic approach to happiness. He uses practical strategies from the field of positive psychology to help people align their careers with their values and their ideals. So they can stop competing and the never ending rat race and escape the endless cycle of burnout. In this interview, Tal and I go deep down the rabbit hole of what it means to have success and happiness in your career. And whether or not the two are mutually exclusive, and spoiler alert, being happy and having success are not mutually exclusive. It all depends on how you define each for yourself. We discussed the difference between having a job versus a career versus a calling, and the practical ways that you can shift your mindset to find fulfillment on any path. If today's interview inspires you to take the next step towards a more fulfilling career path that not only aligns you with projects that you are passionate about, but also includes some semblance of work life balance, and especially if you would like support mentorship, and a community to help you turn your goals into a reality. Then you and I need to talk because in January, I'm opening winter enrollment for my Optimizer coaching and mentorship program. And it sounds like you could be the perfect fit. Over the last three years I've now worked with well over 100 students and I've seen stunning transformations. But the biggest obstacle for most has been that the program in the past was too expensive or it just required too much time. those problems are no longer in issue is I've made the program a lot more affordable and a lot less time intensive for those with busy lives, but who need an extra push to make whatever the next major transition is in your life. To learn more and apply visit optimize yourself.me/optimizer. Just so you know I review applications in the order that they're received and I fill slots accordingly. So the earlier you apply, the better your chances are of getting in the program. Alright, without further ado, my conversation with best selling author and lecture Dr. Tal Ben Shahar made possible today By our amazing sponsors Evercast and Ergodriven, we're gonna be featured just a bit later in today's interview, to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes, as well as to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview, please visit optimizer self.com/podcast.

I'm here today with Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, who's a best selling author and lecturer who taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University's history, positive psychology and the psychology of leadership. And you're also the founder of the happiness studies Academy. And in addition is if all those things weren't enough, you've also written several books, some of which that have ended up on the New York Times bestseller list, which include being happy, happier, even happier, and choose the life you want. So Tao, it is an absolute pleasure to have you here to discuss things that are related to happiness, fulfillment, the meaning of life. And otherwise, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 5:56

And great to be here, Zack, thank you.

Zack Arnold 5:58

So you have a quote that really resonated with me that I want to start with. And the quote that's right on your website, is life is too short to do what I'm supposed to do. But it's just long enough to do what I want to do. expand on that a little bit more. What does that mean? And why is it so important for us to understand,

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 6:15

you know, time flies, whether you're having fun or not. And we want to make the most of it. And so many of us, so many of us, even though we have choices in life, we we don't make the most of it. Now I could understand if someone was forced to to do certain work, and why because they needed to provide for their families. And that's understandable. But many people do have choices and they make wrong choices. Now when I say wrong, I don't mean necessarily wrong financially, I don't mean wrong in terms of their success as traditionally understood, but I mean wrong in the ultimate currency, the currency of happiness, so they forego that currency for for another currency. And if you think about it, what is our life about it is about finding happiness, and not necessarily happiness in you know, just in terms of pleasure or joy, but happiness in a deep sense, which includes a sense of meaning and purpose in what we do.

Zack Arnold 7:18

And this idea of happiness being a currency seems really ephemeral and very airy fairy, and what does that even mean? And you're all about science and research and understanding. That's one of the reasons that you're here. And I want to get into all of that specifically, because I love systems and you somehow found a way to turn happiness into a system, which made me think, Oh, this is my guy. But before we dive into the specifics, what I would love to know is what in the world do squash and hamburgers have to do with you finding your purpose? and becoming one of the world's foremost experts on happiness?

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 7:50

Yeah, so a lot. The The answer is, you know, I was a professional squash player, and wasn't particularly happy. Now was doing well in squash it was doing well in, in school, I was doing well in again, the the quantifiable measurements, however, when it came to happiness, you know, wasn't doing great. And a particular time before a tournament, I was, I was preparing and I decided to eat especially healthfully. Now, I always ate healthy food on being an athlete, but no, this was unique. So for a few months, anything that entered my digestive system had to go through very rigorous tests. And, but but there was a light at the end of the tunnel. And I said to myself, then once the tournament is over, I'm going to to binge, I'm going to go to my favorite hamburgers store, you know, buy whatever I want to have, and just and just indulge. And I did that the tournament was over. I went to the hamburger store by myself, you know, this was a supposed to be a spiritual experience. I wanted to be there alone, ordered for burgers, and sat down. And as soon as I opened my mouth, I closed it again. I didn't want to eat. And it was and I didn't understand why it was almost an automatic refusal. And the reason was because my body felt great. And I was strong, I was full of energy. And I didn't want to spoil that. And at that moment was born that what I've come to call the hamburger model later turned into the happiness model from h to h and the hamburger model. It goes as follows there are essentially four types of burgers that I thought about them. The first one was the one I just turned down, which was delicious. My favorite, however, not very healthy. Another hamburger was another option was one which was perhaps very healthy, but not very tasty. The third option was neither tasty nor healthy. And the fourth option, the ideal option was both healthy and tasty. And the more I thought about this, I realized that this actually captures four archetypes of happiness. So the first archetype would be one, where in an unhealthy and tasty burger, that would be the hedonist archetype, you know, you enjoy the present. However, for the long term, you know, you won't feel that great about it, eating for burgers would not make me feel great. And on the other hand, you have the hamburger that is healthy, that is good for the long term, but you don't enjoy this is the life of the rat racer, you know, you're always living for the future, not savoring enjoying the present, the hamburger that's neither healthy nor tasty, well, that's the burger you just don't want to have because it doesn't taste good. And, and it's unhealthy, that would be equivalent to the knee list. person who neither enjoys the present nor sees a bright future ahead. And finally, the ideal burger healthy and tasty, that's happiness, that's when we're doing things that we enjoy doing. And we also have future benefits. So it's both present and future benefits. And if you think about it, you know, think about work that you do. You know, if you can find work that is both pleasurable that you enjoy in the present, and is meaningful. It's something that you're building you're craving for your future, well, then you're happy in the workplace, then Alternatively, you can just be a hedonist enjoying the present without the future, a red racer, thinking about the future without the present, or being in the novelist, archetype, which is enjoying neither.

Zack Arnold 11:52

And working in the world of Hollywood, I don't think there is another industry on the planet that's more of an embodiment of the rat race and trying to go towards an end result, we literally have giant gold statues that people hold up on stages that say, look, Ma, I'm a success now. And we spend our entire careers going after that. And I think that we assume, well, I'm just going to put in all this work, whether it's miserable, whether it's a toxic work environment, whether it's content, that doesn't relate to me. But once I hold that statue, now I've made it and I'm happy. And for me, I try to to move people towards fulfillment, because to me, it's so much more about the process and finding meaning. So I want to get more into this idea of happiness and fulfillment, but also talking about something that is fascinating to me, which is what you call the paradox of happiness. So let's talk a little bit about both of those concepts.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 12:41

Yes. So, you know, it was actually the industry that you're talking about, and dedicating yourself to is a very important industry, because so many of the things that we see in the Science of Happiness, you see in that industry to the extreme. So let me, let me share an example. So let's say you have a person who growing up is not that happy. But their dream is to become a, you know, successful actor, famous actor, and they're unhappy, but they say to themselves, once I make it when I become that success, then I'll be happy. They go off to Hollywood, and they try they their luck. And of course, initially, they have to wait tables, and they have to wait. And they're not happy. In fact, they're miserable. But they say to themselves, once I make it, then I'll be happy. And then fortune strikes. And they make it and they make it big, and it's an almost, or at least it seems like it's almost overnight success. And they become famous, and they become very wealthy. And suddenly they have it all. Everything that they dreamed up has come true. They have more money than they know what to do with they are desired by men and women and they feel wanted and and very happy. And finally they say everything was worth it. I've made it But here is what happens. Inevitably, within three months, six months, maybe a year. They go back to where they were before. And they're unhappy. And perhaps they're anxious or depressed or sad, like they were before. In other words, they enjoyed a temporary spike in their well being not a permanent one. They go back to where they were before. However, this time, they're in a much worse place. Why? Because at least before they had the illusion that once they make it then they'll be happy. Now they're disillusioned, they no longer have it and what happens, they fall into depression. Why? Because the difference between sadness and depression is that depression is sadness. without hope, they have no hope. Now, they have not found the answer in reality, so very often they look for the answers outside of reality. How do you exit reality? Well, there are a few ways. One is through alcohol, and other is through drugs. And the ultimate exit from reality is suicide. Now, this is really unfortunate, and the cause of this depression, unhappiness, the cause of this desire to exit reality is a misunderstanding, of the nature of happiness, of where we gain happiness, we do not get happiness through achievements. Happiness does not come our way. When we attain a goal, yes, temporary high, but not more than that.

Zack Arnold 15:45

So I've seen the documentary, The Secret, and I know that the way to be happy is to create a vision board, and just have all of these positive affirmations. And I just believe it's going to happen and I put it out into the universe. That's all it takes, right?

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 15:58

I wish, I wish, you know, I was there to you know, I read the books I you know, I watched the movie. And, and that's what they promise, however, this is over promising and under delivering. Now, this doesn't mean that there isn't a grain of truth. In the secret Yes, we know that when we have when we believe that something will happen, it's more likely to happen. So beliefs sometimes become self fulfilling prophecies. However, that's only part of the equation. The other part of the equation is that hard work is essential, absolutely essential. Another part of the equation is that failure must be part of success, there is no other way. In fact, what we know today is that people who succeed too quickly, without failing enough, initially, they will not be successful in the long term. Not only that, they'll be very unhappy in the long term. So you know, many people say, Oh, he she, you know, there were so lucky. Because they they succeeded at a young age or, or so quickly. It's actually a curse in disguise.

Zack Arnold 17:10

So this is something that I can relate to very, very well, and not to go too deep into my story, because my audience may have heard it, but you haven't. And I want you to help unpack this. For some of the other people listening. I too, had a quote unquote, overnight success story, where I came into the world of entertainment in Hollywood, right out of college started climbing the ranks as an editor. And within about 10 to 12 years, I was editing the number one show on television at the time, which was Empire, which was breaking all kinds of writing records and was a cultural phenomenon. And I knew for a fact, while I was editing the season one finale, that about 25 million people, were going to see what I was doing in my small darkroom. And that's what it was all about, right. And at the same time, I hadn't seen my children for months, who were very young at the time, I believe, maybe five and two or five and three years old. And I was putting them to bed via FaceTime every single night. And there was one specific instance where I remember that my son who was about five years old, and my wife was doing the call with them. They thought they had hung up and they had, and my son asked my wife, why doesn't daddy want to be home with us at night? Why doesn't love us? And that was it. That that was that was a moment when I realized, like you said, I thought I reached the pinnacle. And I expected something more from it. But the work I'm doing is not fulfilling to me. Because I thought this was what happiness was I climb the ranks. Now I can go to parties, I can say I work on the number one show on TV 25 million people are seeing all the decisions that I'm making in the room. I thought that's what it was all about. And I realized it really wasn't. And that was a major smack in the face. But it ultimately was necessary to lead to the path that I'm on now. And I feel like this leads perfectly into the conversation about the paradox of happiness or pursuing happiness actually gets you further away from it. And this idea that it's about failure just doesn't equate, well, what do you mean, how can I be happy if I'm failing? So let's talk about these two ideas.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 19:02

Yeah, so so let me begin with the the paradox of happiness. So this is research done by Iris moss, and, and others. And what they essentially show is that people who wake up in the morning and say to themselves, happiness is important for me, it's, it's, it's a core value, I want to be happy, I'm pursuing happiness, they're actually less happy. And that poses a real problem, because on the one hand, there's a lot of research showing that happiness is good for us. You know, people who are happier, are more successful, they're more creative, they're more productive, they have better relationships, they're physically healthier, live longer, all other things being equal. So everything tell us from from the research and what we're told them. Happiness is a good thing, beyond the fact that it feels good to be to feel good. So of course, I want to be happy. But then on the other hand, that research says well, but if you pursue happiness, if you really want to be happy, if it's a big, it's a important value for you. You'll be less happy So how do you resolve this? And you know, one way to do it is to fool ourselves and to say, Well, I don't really want to be happy, you know, wink, wink, but that probably won't work. What's the solution? How do how do we resolve it? What we do is, we pursued happiness indirectly. Let me explain this through a metaphor. Think about sunlight. You know, if you look at the sunlight directly, you'll get burned, you know, you'll you'll you'll tear up. It's unpleasant, it's painful. So what do you do? You break down sunlight, you use prison, for example. And then you break it down into its colors, the colors of the rainbow, and then you can observe the indirect impact of sunlight, observe it, enjoy it, savor it. The same with happiness, what do we need to do with happiness is break it down into its elements into its metaphorical colors of the rainbow. And then we can pursue those colors of the rainbow, which is pursuing happiness indirectly. Now, the question is, again, the question for the Science of Happiness. What are these colors? What are the elements that make up happiness, and these are things like relationships, actually, the number one predictor of happiness, you know, Zack, you talked about your relationship with your sons and with with your wife, number one predictor of happiness, it could be with friends, it could be with colleagues, it actually doesn't matter. We need relationships, it means they're focusing on physical well being, as well. That's another important element of a happy life. You know, regular physical exercise has the same impact on our psychological well being, as our most powerful psychiatric medication. And nutrition, of course, matters, then there is also emotional well, being cultivating pleasurable emotions, embracing painful emotions, as part and parcel of every life. There is also learning, you know, whether it's learning by listening to podcasts, or whether it's learning by reading books, or walking in nature and exploring. We are also as Aristotle said, rational animals, we need to indulge our intellectual faculty. And then there is also the element of meaning, which and meaning and purpose, which is a very important element of happiness, I wake up in the morning and say to myself, I'm going to do work that is meaningful, I'm indirectly pursuing happiness. If I say to myself, okay, today I'm going to work out, that's indirectly pursuing happiness. If I spend quality time with my three year old, five year old with my BFF, that's indirectly pursuing happiness.

Zack Arnold 22:44

And the reason that I love this so much, like I alluded to in the beginning is I love systems, I love breaking things down on their component parts. And rather than thinking, God, I'm so unhappy, I need to be a happier person, I'm just miserable, or I'm depressed, or I'm burned out all things, I've experienced a multitude of times in my career. Instead, what I love about your system is I could put happiness on my calendar, I love that I can put a workout on my calendar and say, That's currency, that's going to increase my level of happiness. Or I can put work on my calendar that fulfills me as opposed to it's just the rat race trying to find a paycheck, or I have a dinner with family, maybe not, you know, in the COVID era, but a dinner with family or whatever kind of interaction Am I be? That's me putting happiness on the calendar. And it's a spectrum, as opposed to binary either I'm a happy person, or I'm an unhappy person. Right?

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 23:33

Yeah, exactly. You know, it's spot on in on a few levels. So first of all, let me let me begin with where you ended. Now, many people today, ask me, so Tom, you've been in this field for 30 years? Are you finally happy? Because they know that I got into this field because I was unhappy. And And my answer to that is, I don't know how to answer this question. Because I don't think there is a point before which you are unhappy after which you are happy. Rather, I see happiness residing on a continuum. And yes, today, I'm certainly happier, a lot happier than I was 30 years ago, when I embarked on this journey. At the same time. I hope that five years from now, I'll be happier than I am today. And that goes to your point, how do we do that? How do we increase happiness levels and it's not just that we can put things on our calendar, we have to put things into our calendar, we have to create rituals in our lives and just like we have an appointment with, with with our boss or with a colleague or with a client, we need to have appointments with ourselves and that could be an appointment to go work out or an appointment where we dedicate dedicate time to being with the with our loved ones, or at a time when we express gratitude for all that we have, as Oprah urges us to do,

Zack Arnold 24:55

and it's it's funny that you said that happiness is the ultimate currency because when you said that I've said something very similar with my students in my program. But I say time is the ultimate currency because time is the currency that allows you to buy happiness within your framework, so to speak. So I've had conversations with Cal Newport with James clear with near a owl, talking about the value of time and really putting your focus and your intention into one activity. That's something that I talked about extensively in my other programs and podcasts. But I want to talk about the neuroscience of how being in a state of flow and having fulfillment and connection to your work is an indirect way to get closer to happiness.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 25:35

Yeah, you know, Daniel Goleman, talks about our age being the age of distraction, because we are all over the place. And what we need to do, instead of continuing to multitask, we need to single task. Let me share with you a study, which actually relates to your personal story in some way, because it has to do with, with with parents and children. And so this was conducted, it's a joint project, the lead author was Daniel Kahneman, who was a Princeton psychologist, Nobel Prize winner in economics. And what they essentially did, he and his colleagues was they went to women from both beat United States, North America, and from Europe, professional women. And they asked them to evaluate their lives as a whole. So basically, to evaluate emotionally how they were doing within different domains. For example, how do you feel when you're at work, or when you're with your best friend, or with your partner, or with your children, or when you're shopping or doing, you know, housework, and they valuated their entire days. And what they found the most surprising results of this study was that these women did not particularly enjoy spending time with their children. Now, that was surprising. Because when they asked them in terms of, you know, how much do they love their children, how meaningful their children There are, of course, there were, you know, the highest score possible. They love the children, to a great extent, however, they did not enjoy spending time with them. Why? Why because when these women were with their children, they were not really with their children, meaning they were physically there. But at the same time, they were perhaps on the phone or emailing or thinking about what they did earlier at work or what they have to do later at home, and, and on and on. And this is a very important finding, especially for today's world. Think about the following analogy. Let's say you're listening to your favorite piece of music. And if your favorite piece of music is like mine, you're listening to Whitney Houston's and I will always love you. Oh, yes,

Zack Arnold 27:49

you know me. So Well, that was definitely the one I would have said,

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 27:53

my favorite song of all time. So you're listening to whatever your favorite is. I'm not judging here. And you're listening to it eyes closed. And then afterwards, you're asked to rank it on rated on a scale of one to 10 given these your favorite, you give it a 10. And then you're asked to listen to your second most favorite piece of music. And if your second most favorite is Lockman. You're listening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony?

Zack Arnold 28:18

That was my number one

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 28:20

pop up, um, eyes closed? And afterwards, you're right on a scale of one to 10. And once and what do you give it? Well, I give it a nine and a half. Because you know, Beethoven is good, but he's not quite Whitney Houston must admit. And then and then for the optimal experience, you take these two pieces of music and you play them together. What do you get? 19 and a half? No, not a 10 not even a five. That's cacophony. It's noise. And that's modern life for you. So many people come to me is that I can tell you so many people over the years have said to me tell, why aren't I happy? they asked about themselves. I have everything that I've ever wanted. I have work that I that I like I have, you know, family or friends. I have all these hobbies, and they actually list their hobbies. Why aren't I happy? And my answer is for the same reason that you would not be happy listening to Whitney Houston and Beethoven simultaneously, because there can be too much of a good thing. Because quantity of experiences, affects quality of experiences. And what we need to do is simplify do less rather than more. So when we're with our kids, we're just with our kids, when we're working with our best friend, just be with their best friend, not while the phone is on and doing other work and when not and when I am working. Then just do the work. single task rather than multitask. Now, it's not possible to single tasks. 24 seven, just not realistic. However, even if we have an hour or two, if we can three hours a day off single tasking. If we have these what I've come to call islands of sanity throughout our day, and then we're doing well, then our happiness levels will increase significantly, because that's when we can immerse ourselves. That's when our brains are functioning at their peak, we're experiencing the words of me, Holly cheeks, and me, hi, who's that? who coined the term flow, we're experiencing both peak experience, we enjoy ourselves and peak performance were at our best.

Zack Arnold 30:42

So what we've established is that getting into a state of flow, or intentionality, or single tasking is one of these indirect ways that we can increase our happiness and feel more pleasure as well as be just feel more fulfilled and more content. And what I want to dig into deeper, is specifically that emotional connection to your work. Because a big thing that I've experienced many times that I know is rampant in my industry and many others, is my process, day to day doesn't really change. I'm in front of a computer, I have bins worth of footage, I have information, I put it all together and I tell a story. But depending on the level of emotional involvement, or engagement I have in the story that I want to tell and the emotions that I'm conveying, I will either love my job, and the time of the day just disappears. And I'm like, Oh, my God, where did even go, that was awesome. Versus I can't do this another day. And I'm miserable, even though the job is the same. And you've talked about how people that are creative, our job is to help other people in the world understand and process both pleasurable and good emotions, through our stories, through movies, through television, through music through all these things. So why is it so hard for me to do work that I just don't want to do, even though the process is the same?

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 31:53

You know, I want to talk about two big ideas here. And then and then delve deeper. The first big idea is that reality comprises object and subject. In other words, my reality depends on what's out there, as well as my interpretation of what's out there, out there, the object and the subject. So that's one big idea. The second big idea is Viktor Frankl who wrote Man's Search for Meaning distinguishes between the meaning of life and the meaning in life. So the meaning of life is, why am I here? And what's my ultimate purpose? The meaning in life is can I experience a sense of meaning and purpose in what I'm doing right now independent of whether I think there is an ultimate cause, or purpose to life. So given these two points, subject and object and meaning in life and meaning of life, let me share a study which made a very big difference in my life. And I know, in the lives of many of my clients, students and many others. This was conducted by Amy vishnevsky and Jane Dutton, their work, initially Michigan vishnevsky, then went over to Yale, revolved around work orientation. And what they identified were essentially three ways of experiencing or seeing perceiving our work. The first way is work as a job, work as a job is about work that I have to do I have no choice about it. Why? Why do I have to do because I have to provide for my family, you know, send money home, if, if my families elsewhere, just survive? I have no choice. It's a chore, what am I looking forward to if it's a job, I'm looking forward to the end of the day, or shift or to the weekend TGI F, or to retirement when I will no longer need to do this job. So this is work as a job then there are people who see their work primarily as a career. What's the Career Career is about the rat race, it's about progress. It's about making it to the next stage, it's about making more money. It's about being more successful, getting more prestige. What I'm looking forward to is the rays the advancement, or whatever lies ahead. That's work as a career. And then are people who see their work as a colleague, seeing our work is a calling is about experiencing a sense of purpose. In in our lives, it's about our work being meaningful, important, significant. It's about us being passionate about what we do. What do we look forward to in our work when we experienced as a calling, we look forward to more work tgim Thank God, it's Monday. Now, all of us have job days, all of us have career days and all of us have college days. The question is, which is the dominant orientation. And he turns out that it makes it very big difference. And it also turns out that regardless of what we do, with almost no exceptions, there are some extreme exceptions, but almost with no exception, regardless of what we do, we can find a sense of meaning and purpose in our work at vishnevsky. And Jen Dotson showed, for example, hospital janitors, who saw their work as a job, you know, cleaning the toilets and changing bedsheets. And then there were janitors who saw their work as a career doing the same thing. But they wanted to progress. And then there were janitors doing the exact same thing cleaning toilets, changing bedsheets, who saw their work as a calling, they were enabling the work of the doctors and nurses, they were helping the patients get better heal. In those very same hospitals, there were nurses and doctors who saw their work as a job, you know, let this day just be over? Or is it career I want to become the chief doctor or they had nurse or whatever it is, or as they calling? This is what I meant to do with my life, you know, reminds me my business partner, Angus Ridgeway. He's British, with a British sense of humor. And so one day he was having lunch with his brother in law. Now his brother in law is a cardiologist. And his specialty is pacemakers. So what he does is put pacemakers by people's hearts and then every few years, he takes the pacemaker out, takes the pacemaker out, changes the batteries, and put puts it back in. That's his, that's his specialty. So Angus was having lunch with him one day, Sunday, he says to his brother in law, he says, You know, I finally figured out what you do for a living. So his brother in law curiously asks, What is it? An Angus said, what you do is you change batteries.

Now his brother in law, didn't even smile, he looks at him intently and says, Angus, you're right. Some days, I change batteries. Other days, I save lives. And this is the distinction between a job or a calling. And the thing is, all of us have that ability. Because remember, reality is not just the object, not just what we do. It's also how we interpret what we do. You know, if I edit films, I can say, Okay, well, I'm going to do it again, you know, use the the program that I use every day, you know, I can do it with my almost eyes closed. Or I say, what I do now can lead millions and millions of people to experience more joy in their lives, to have special moments in their families as they're watching this together. And what I'm doing now also is what's providing for my dear family that I love so much, there are so many ways that we can reach recraft our work, reorient ourselves, to see what is meaningful and important in what we do. And people who routinely do that are not just happier. Not surprisingly, they're also more successful, successful in the traditional sense of the word, they have much more energy. Now, does this mean that they never have their job days? Of course they do. I have my job days too, and I just, you know, don't want to get out of bed in the morning. However, the question is, how can you increase the calling to career or calling to job ratio in your life?

Zack Arnold 38:41

My sincerest apologies for the interruption in the middle of this interview, but if you are a content creator, or you work in the entertainment industry, not only is the following promo, not an interruption, but listening has the potential to change your life. Because collaborating with Evercast is that powerful.

Here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with ever cast co founders, Brad Thomas, an award winning editor, Roger Barton.

Roger 39:02

Living this lifestyle of a feature film editor has really had an impact on me. So I was really looking for something to push back against all of these lifestyle infringement that are imposed on us both by schedules and expectations. When you guys demoed whatever cast for me that first time my jaw hit the floor, I'm like, Oh, my God, this is what I've been waiting for. For a decade.

Brad 39:26

I also had the same reaction when I first saw Evercast two words came to mind game changer. Our goal, honestly, is to become the zoom for creatives, whatever it is, you're streaming, whether it's editorial, visual effects, Pro Tools for music composition, LIVE SHOT cameras, it's consistent audio and video. Lip Sync, always stays in sync, whether you're in a live session where you're getting that feedback immediately, or you can't get it immediately. So you record the session and you can share those clips with people on the production team where there's no room for any confusion. It's like this is exactly what the director wants.

Roger 39:57

This is exactly what the producer wants what matters most to me. It makes the entire process more efficient, which then translates to us as creatives who spend way too much time in front of computers, we get to shut it down, and we get to go spend time with our friends and family.

Zack Arnold 40:11

The biggest complaint and I'm sure you guys have heard this many, many times, this looks amazing, I just can't afford it, Tesla had to release the Model S before they released the model three. So by the end of the year, we are going to be releasing a sub $200 version a month of efficacy for the freelancer and indie creatives. Anyone who is a professional video creator outside of Hollywood,

Roger 40:33

I think what we've learned over the last few months is that this technology can translate to better lives for all of us, they give us more flexibility and control while still maintaining the creativity, the creative momentum and the quality of work.

Zack Arnold 40:48

I cannot stress this enough Evercast is changing the way that we collaborate. If you value your craft, your well being and spending quality time with the ones you love, ever cast now makes that possible for you and me to listen to the full interview and learn about the amazing potential that ever cast has to change the way that you work and live, visit optimize yourself.me slash ever cast. Now back to today's interview.

It's really all about perception. And that's something that I it took me a long time to figure that out. But one of the quotes that I've heard in many of the readings and learnings and courses that I've done, that at first didn't really click and make sense. But then all of a sudden, there was a giant aha moment. It's not that success leads to happiness. It's that happiness leads to success. And it's all about perception. And even though I had not heard of that study, I'm definitely going to look into it. But I have a very similar framework that I share with my students where I've actually identified four kinds of jobs, very similar to what you said, there's the paycheck job, which is I just show up and I get the money and I go home. And then there's the career job, which is I'm busting my hump and maybe I'm getting another credit on the resume, but I'm working long hours I'm burned out toxic work environment, etc, etc. Then there's the dream job, which is very similar to having the calling the fourth one that I have inserted in there is the lifestyle job. Where Yeah, I'm getting paid, well, maybe I don't work that many hours. But God, I'm just bored, I have no connection to the work that I do. And to me the dream job is when you feel like it's a calling, you are getting paid what you're worth yet, you're asking, Are they really paying me to do this? I would do this for free, right? But it's all about perception. And like you said, three different janitors doing the same jobs can have different levels of happiness based on their perception of the work that they do. And I want to give people some practical steps and things they can think about. And I know that one of them that might be helpful is this idea of setting what's called a self concordant goal. So how can we do that to get closer to identifying what is my calling? So when I'm at work, I'm thinking to myself, God, are they paying me I would do this for free.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 42:44

So, you know, there are a few ways to identify the most important thing, of course, is to raise our levels of awareness, in terms of what is it that will provide me a sense of meaning and calling now how do we identify it? One way to identify is to start by looking at our past experiences. So asking a question such as what did I last experience a real sense of meaning and purpose in what I do? When did I have periods in my life, when I experienced a lot of flow, when I was immersed in whatever it is that I was doing? In other words, it's about learning from past experiences, learning from the best past experiences? And then after that, the next question is, okay, so what, what do I want to do now, with my life, what are in psychological terms? What are self concordant goals, for me goals that are aligned with my values, goals that are aligned with my passions, goals, that are also aligned with my strengths, things that I that I can do? Well, you know, I, in, in my book, happier I introduce a model, which junk all the MPs model, which is about finding meaning pleasure on strength. And the first question is, what is meaningful to me? And what is important to me? What, what's significant? The second question is what's pleasurable to me? What are you? What do I enjoy doing? What do I do when I think I can't believe they're paying me for for that in your language? And the third question is, what are my strengths? What am I good at? And finding our self concordant goals, the goals that will ultimately lead to most happiness, both in terms of the process and outcome. It's about finding the overland, something that is meaningful, pleasurable, and that I'm good at. And, you know, let me quickly share with you a personal example. So, you know, think about music. So music gives me a great deal of pleasure. I really enjoy listening to music, whether it's classical music, whether it's a 16 Music, whether it's first and foremost, we can use them. And it's also very meaningful to me. And I think of my favorite author Marianne Evans, aka George Eliot, she, she said that if I had music in my life, I would have no other mortal need. You know, she said this back in 1860. So I relate to that. At the same time, you don't want to hear me sing, not my strength. And hence, I do spend a lot of time listening to music, but I did not choose that as my as my calling as my as my, or my career. And on the other hand, writing, you know, writing is very meaningful to me on most days, not all days, but most days, I really enjoy it. And I'm good at it. So this is why I chose that as, as my as my calling as myself concordant goals. And we can do that with everything that we do in life, and identify the overlap, because when we identify the overlap, these are the places where we're most likely to thrive, flourish, experienced most flow, enjoy peak performance and peak experience.

Zack Arnold 46:14

Well, there's a an author, that's also one of my mentors. His name is Ramiz, Satie, I don't know if you're familiar with him or not. But he talks about this idea of how it's a mistake to simply quote unquote, follow your passion. Just find your passion, and you're going to be you know, blissful in life, and you're going to find your happiness. And like you said, If you followed your passion, you'd become a musician, because you're passionate about music. But clearly, that's not in alignment with these other areas. So you have to find something like you said, where you also have a strength,

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 46:41

yes, it has to be the, the combination, because remember, reality is about subject and object. And there are certain objective, there is an objective reality. And in that objective reality, I don't think people are going to pay to hear me sing.

Zack Arnold 46:56

One of the things that I talked about so much in my program, and it's probably the the cornerstone of where all this started years ago comes down to a single word, which is burnout. burnout is a manifestation of anxiety, depression, all these other things. And I am not a scientist, nor researcher, nor an academic, but I've had an hypothesis. And I want to I want to get your professional opinion on this hypothesis. I firmly believe that burnout is largely at its core, created by a lack of setting proper expectations, whether it's expectations, what I can actually do for others, what I can do for myself the amount of time that I like to accomplish things, but more importantly, the expectation that I'm supposed to be doing this thing, and I'm supposed to enjoy it, because that's what everybody else tells me to. Would you say that's a relatively accurate hypothesis.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 47:43

Yeah, you know, it's interesting, you bring up expectations, if, you know, people have asked me and what have you learned over the last 30 years? or How is your understanding of happiness different today than it was 30 years ago, or 15 years ago? And the main answer for me, I mean, there are there are different things that I learned new research that came out. But the main thing for me the biggest learning was around expectations. So if we were speaking, 15 years ago, I would have said to you listen, Zack expectations. Most important, look at all the research that talks about beliefs of self fulfilling prophecies, if you have high expectations, you're more likely to reach them. And I would have essentially advocated expectations, period. Today, I have a much more nuanced understanding of the role of expectations, which very much relates to, to what you were talking about. When it comes to success, high expectations is important. We know that we know that having high expectations in terms of your success professionally, you're more likely to do well. athletes, high expectations are more likely to to succeed. However, not so when it comes to happiness. Let me give you two examples. So the first example is let's say my expectation is that after I learn all this Science of Happiness thing and become an expert here, I will be happy all the time. If this is my expectation, which by the way was my expectation, when I embarked on the journey, you are inevitably going to be disappointed because every person no exception, experiences sadness, and anger and envy and hatred, and disappointment, and anxiety. These are all natural human emotions. And they and we experienced them just as night follows day. And if my expectations is that my life will be exempt from these states. I mean for significant major disappointment. Not only that, when I do experience sadness, and reject that sadness, then that sadness is only going to intensify grow stronger, same for anxiety or envy or anger. So having realistic expectations, rather than unrealistic, perfect expectations, that's very important. Let me give you another example. This is from relationships. So you know, we're standing at the altar or whatever, you know, make committing to one another. And at that point, we are certain that we're going to be living happily ever after that he's going to be this constant honeymoon. Wrong. Maybe in the movies, it looks like that's what's gonna happen. But the thing is that movies end, usually where love begins. And in every relationship, even the best of them. There are wonderful moments. And there are very difficult moments, there are conflicts and disagreements and gridlocks. And lows, in addition to the highs. So my expectation is that we'll be happy all the time, I'm bound to be disappointed. One of the reasons why there are so many relationships, burn is because of unrealistic expectations. Now, these unrealistic expectations put a lot of stress on our system. And this is where it's connected to burnout, when we put a lot of stress on the system, what happens, it burns, whether you're talking about an engine, or whether you're talking about a human being the most important thing to understand about stress. And consequently, burnout is that stress in and of itself, is not the problem, that potentially stress is even good for us. How is that, you know, you go to the gym and you lift weights, you're stressing your muscles, not a bad thing, you lift them again. And you know, two days later, you go back to the gym again, and you actually grow stronger, as a result of the stress. The problem in the gym begins when you go to the gym, and then you go again and again and a minute later again and again. And that's when you get injured. That's when you get enervated weaker, rather than stronger, energized. So the same psychologically, the problem is not the stress itself, the problem is when we don't have recovery. And when we don't have recovery, that's when we burn apt. That's when we get psychologically injured. So punctuating our lives with periods of recovery, which is very much associated with having realistic expectations. Because if I have unrealistic expectations, I don't have time for recovery. I don't have time to lose ground, I have to lead a perfect life, where I'm working 24 seven, where I'm succeeding at every juncture. And that's a prescription for overstress for burnouts,

Zack Arnold 52:59

the final place that I want to go that I think is so important to tie all this together that has so much to do with expectations. If you are somebody listening to this, and you're thinking, you know what, I am just doing the paycheck job, I didn't even realize it, but I have no connection to my work, the burnout makes so much more sense. But I don't know how to set proper expectations for the jobs I really want to do, then that's where I tell them you have to reach out to people and you have to find your version of an expert or a mentor. And they'll just reach out to some random colleagues or somebody else doing something that, you know, maybe they're interested in. I'm a big believer in that I want to learn from the best in the world. If I want to learn something specific, who's the best on the planet at doing when it comes to behavioral psychology? Adam Grant, he's my spirit animal. I love that guy. When it comes to happiness, I set up a call with you my fitness mentor because I decided at the age of 40 I want to become an American Ninja Warrior. My Fitness mentor is Tony Horton, creator of the p90x exercise program. I want to learn from the best. So talk to me a little bit more about how this relates to the this idea of focusing on what works in the field of positive psychology. And why even though it might be more difficult, I should really find the right people doing exactly what I want to do.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 54:11

You know, when I recommend books to people, I always say the best self help books are biographies, good, solid biographies. Why? Because when you read biographies of successful people, and again, whether it's in coaching or whether it's in in computers or whatever it is, you're learning from from them. They are your role models, and then you can assimilate, internalize their practices. You know what Bill Gates do? On his way or Steve Jobs? What did they do on their way to the top you know, what did what did Michael Jordan do? What can you learn from him? You know, if basketball is your thing, or LeBron and when you learn from them and apply that knowledge in your life, you can fulfill your potential Now it's not just one person. Fortunately, today we have access to too many very successful basketball players. And many great coaches, you know, you have the autobiography of Michael Jordan. But you also have the autobiography of Phil Jackson, that you can also learn from when it comes to, to computer science, you know, or to, to to technology, you have the biography, fantastic biography of Steve Jobs. And you have, you know, the biography of Michael Dell. So you can learn from different people, how to fulfill your potential. There are three elements to fulfilling our potential. One is to learn from the best as you point out. The second is to learn from yourself. So it's not just about research, looking outside, it's also about me search. So learning from your best experiences, this is why I emphasized earlier, so when did I experienced meaning in my work, when was when did I play my best game as a squash player, or as a basketball player, what did I do differently in terms of my preparation, in terms of my mindset, so you can learn a lot from your best experiences. And after you learn from other people's best experiences, and again, we can also do obviously, with a coach or by learning about them or from them directly. And after you learn from your experience, then it's all about applying what you learn. And this is, you know, the Anders Ericsson idea of off peak, where he talks about the 10,000 hours, you need to put in the work. And this is also where I take issue with a lot of the self help literature that says, you know, just think, and you'll grow rich, whatever your mind can conceive, and believe it can achieve. It's part of the equation, it's not all of the equation, you also need to engage in real learning from the best, you need to engage in real learning from the best within yourself. And you need to put in the hours,

Zack Arnold 57:06

I'm all about putting in the work. That's my thing is anybody that works with me, they know that I'm going to put in the hours, I'm going to push them outside their comfort zone. And so many people, especially in Hollywood, will say, well, there's no path to success. If I want to be an academic, there are certain steps that you take papers that you write classes that you take, if I want to be a doctor, if I want to be a lawyer, I can tell you how to be a doctor in five minutes on Google. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's simple. I know the steps in Hollywood and creative industries, there is no path and I say, of course there is You're not the first person that's ever tried to do this success leaves clues. It has a recipe, find somebody else that's already used that recipe that's doing exactly what it is that you want to do. And if you're really connecting with deeper fulfilling meaning, my guess is they're doing it for the same reason you automatically have something in common. But to think that there's nobody else out there that's doing exactly where you want to go next. Like, no, just Just do your research, reach out, find the best is doing what you want to do.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 58:02

Yeah, you know, there's very important work by Richard Snyder, the late positive psychologist on hope. And he talks about hope in a scientific way. Because very often we we associate hope, with religion or even with with mysticism, well, he broke it down to its two key elements. The first key element of hope that he talks about is what he calls willpower. And willpower is what we mostly talk about when we say okay, yes, I can do it. And you know, yes, you can, as a mantra. And willpower is important. However, there's another element. And that element he calls weigh power, and weight power, sounds like this. Okay, I'm going in this direction. If that doesn't work, then I'm going to go in this direction. Oh, and if that if b doesn't work, then I'm going to go to see, and on and on. So finding alternative ways of getting to your destination. Now, if you read biographies, or if you interview different people, you have many pathways, many ways to get to wherever you want to get to. In other words, they provide you alternatives. In other words, they provide you weigh power, in addition to the willpower that you presumably have. You know, I remember watching Serena Williams, playing I believe it was in Wimbledon, and she had just won a match where she wasn't, she was supposed to lose. I mean, she was a set down in a few games down. And as she has done a number of times throughout her illustrious career, she came back and the interviewer asked her, how did you do that? Or how do you do that? Because again, not the first time, this is no fluke. And she said, Look, when I go in court, I always have a plan, a game plan. That's Plan A. If Plan A doesn't work, I go to plan B. If Plan B doesn't work, I go to plan C if Plan C doesn't work Go to plan D. She said, You understand what I'm talking about. Right? You got the drift? This is what she does. And you know, obviously Serena and other great athletes have willpower. What one of the things that is the distinguishes the greatest from the rest is they also have way power alternatives.

Zack Arnold 1:00:19

And I think that the the other thing I want to extract from this that's so important that to delineate some of the most successful people from those that aren't, is the amount of times that they've failed. So what I heard was a plan a failed, so plan B failed, and then Plan C fail, but we're so afraid of failure. And if you talk about biographies, like it's so funny that you brought up the Phil Jackson, and Michael Jordan thing, because I've been watching the last dance on Netflix, I could give two craps about basketball, I just don't like the sport. But it's fascinating to understand the mindset of success. And if you look at certain statistics, Michael Jordan is the biggest failure in the history of the sport. But in the in that specific context, right, same thing with Thomas Edison, he failed more than any adventure in history. And when people ask me, how did you get where you are, I said, because I'm really good at failing as fast as possible. I jump right in, I fail, I learn, I iterate and I find another plan. But you have to get over that fear of failure. And if you think I have to choose this job, it's got to be the right one, and I got to make the right choice. Try it. Maybe it's not your calling. That's fine. So you failed at that you gathered information, find another one try something else, you get to create your own unique path.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:01:27

Yeah, Zach, this is this is music to my ears, I must say no, when, when I teach about this topic, I always begin the class by by saying to the students the following I say look, full disclosure here. I have two objectives. For this class. My first objective is that you fail more, I don't think you fail enough. My second objective is that you not only fail more, you also embrace failure. So the mantra that I repeat over and over again, whether it's as part of that class, or whether it's to my kids and to myself and clients is learn to fail, or fail to learn, learn to fail or fail to learn. And you see the most successful people in history, whether it's the Michael Jordan's of the world, or the bay routes of the world, or the Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, or Thomas Edison, as you mentioned, or the greatest artists in the world. This is research on scientists and artists by Dean Simonton from UC Davis. They are also the people who had failed the most times. It's no coincidence, you know, they certainly do deserve a place in the hall of fame of success, and the Hall of Fame of failure. And just

Zack Arnold 1:02:42

to wrap this up, going back to something we talked about much earlier, I put failure on my calendar, I can tell you right now, as if from 9am to 1pm, on Sundays, I've got a whole lot of failure coming up. Because that's when I do my big ninja training for the week with my mentor, I'm just going to fail over and over and over. But every week when I go back, I fail a little bit less than I did the week before. So I've never reached the pinnacle of success. And I can say, I'm now strong, I'm no in shape. I've made it it's more, you know what I sucked a little bit less than I did last week. I'm happy with that. I think I'm gonna go back the next week. And it's the same thing with my work with writing with podcasting. I'll listen to this podcast at some point and say, You know what, I did a great job. But I could have said this question differently, or I stumbled on my words. So I want to do it a little bit better than next time. But I didn't think I don't know if I'm ready to talk too tall. Like he's, he's a big, you know, big name in his field. And who am I I better wait until I'm better. Like, you know, what, if I fail, I learned and I do it again, to me, it's all about iteration. And to me the process of doing that mix is so much more fun than focusing on the outcome.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:03:44

Yeah, it's, it's that and it's also more fun, because we take a big load of our shoulders, you know, it's very weighty to think I can't afford to, to fail, or I have to do this perfectly. It and by the way, this especially applies to the to the creative arts, it's very difficult to be to be creative, without the permission to fail.

Zack Arnold 1:04:11

And as a creative I spent all day long getting pages and pages telling me all of my failures, we call them notes. Here are all the things that don't work. You're like but but I believed in that that those are my ideas. Like, I'm just basically told 150 times a day. 10 pages worth here are all the places where you failed as an artist, and it's so hard at first and I take that personally, but then you realize I'm just here to collaborate, tell the story better work with great people. And again, if if it's attached to more feeling like it's a calling, I'm not worried about the details, right? But when you're burned out and you're not attached to it, you just take all that stuff personally and it just keeps digging in and digging in. Which which is why I wanted to have this conversation with you today is I want people to better understand how can I pursue more fulfilling, meaningful work that I feel it is a calling, because I think that's really the biggest contributor to burnout. Yes, it's hours and it's eating poorly. And it's not sleeping well enough. But I've eaten poorly and not exercising, not slept very well on jobs that I loved. And I was exhausted, but I wasn't burned out, because I felt connected to it. And it was meaningful. And yeah, I needed to catch up on some sleep. And maybe I felt like crap for a week. But it also felt like it was worth it. As opposed to why why am I doing this every day. And that's why I wanted to have this conversation. I could I barely just gotten started, you and I could talk for another three hours so easily, but I want to be very respectful of your time. So before we go, I want to know a little bit more about your happiness studies Academy, because you're one of the first if not the first person to say, Why is this not something that we can be accredited in? No different than biology or chemistry or anything else?

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:05:44

Yes. So so you know, Zack, this idea came to me, I think it was five, just over five years ago, when I was on a flight. The question came to mind. And the question was, how is it that there is a field of study for psychology, which is my field or, or film studies or history or? or biology or medicine, or you name it? And there is no field of study for happiness? Yeah, there is positive psychology. But that's just the psychology of happiness. What about what philosophers have to say about happiness? What about what sociologists and economists and theologians? What about what great movies have to say about happiness? Why isn't there a field or rather an interdisciplinary field of study that brings together all these respective disciplines have to say about the good life. And on that flight, I resolved to help create a field of happiness studies. And this is what my colleagues and I have been working on for that for the past five years, and we co founded the happiness studies Academy, where we offer a certificate program in happiness studies soon, there'll be a university degree and master's degree in happiness studies. And we essentially address two questions there. The first question is, how can I, as the student participant, how can I become happier? And the second question, how can I help others become happier? And it's not just a solipsistic? Question, it's not just the question that focuses on the self, because we know when we increase levels of happiness, generosity and kindness, go up, relationships, improve, we become healthier, we become more creative. So we pursue happiness as an end in itself. And also as a means towards other valuable and

Zack Arnold 1:07:36

so if I'm interested in becoming a student of yours, and I want to immerse myself in this, where would I learn more and become a part of

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:07:43

this? So our website is happiness studies dot Academy. And, and we'd love to see you there, you know, we are, we're very passionate about our work. So many of our students are very passionate about indirectly, pursuing happiness and helping others do the same.

Zack Arnold 1:08:05

And I understand you're also very generous with a coupon code as well. Yes, indeed. And

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:08:11

we'll do almost anything. Just Just Just come just join us.

Zack Arnold 1:08:15

You just want to make us happy, right? Yeah. So one last quick thing, that's a big investment to become happier. Give me one really simple thing I can do. As soon as I get off the call, by the time I go to bed tonight to make myself just a tiny bit happier by tomorrow, about three.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:08:30

Zack, is that okay?

Zack Arnold 1:08:30

Sure. I'll take it.

Dr. Tal Ben Sharhar 1:08:33

short ones. First thing, give yourself the permission to be human accept painful emotions accept the fact that things are not going well. If they're not going well. It paradoxically, it's the first step towards happiness is allowing in unhappiness. So that's, that's the first one, the second one, spend quality time with people you care about and who care about you. And when I say quality time, it means single tasking, just be with them. And even if it's 10, you know, 10 extra minutes of that that can go a long way. Part of that part of the of the second one is also be generous, be kind give, one of the best ways to increase levels of happiness, to improve relationships, is through generosity. And this, of course, relates to the work of Adam Grant you mentioned earlier. And the third thing, again, do what Oprah has been telling us to do for so many years. express gratitude savor what you have, whether it's in writing, whether it's visualizing and being grateful for what you have appreciated because when we appreciate the good in our lives, the good appreciates, we have more options

Zack Arnold 1:09:45

tall. This has been an immense pleasure and talk about a bucket list item I can check off just this conversation alone. Let's say that it's both created happiness and pleasure for me. This This has been a lot of fun. This means a lot to me. I I hope that I'm not hopeful, but I know that it will have a profoundly positive impact on my listeners and my students as well. I can't thank you enough for forgiving your time today and being so generous. So thank you so much for being here.

Unknown Speaker 1:10:11

Thank you, Zack.

Zack Arnold 1:10:12

Before closing up today's show, I would love to ask for just a couple additional minutes of your time and attention to introduce you to one of my new favorite products created by my good friend Kit Perkins, who you may recognize as creator of the Topo mat. Here is a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Ergodriven co founder and CEO Kit Perkins, talking about his latest product, New Standard Whole Protein.

Kit Perkins 1:10:36

I've been to health and fitness generally, but I want it to be simple and straightforward. About a year, year and a half ago, I started adding collagen into my protein shakes. And man, the benefits were like more dramatic than any supplement I've ever seen. So I thought if I could just get this down to coming out of one jar, and it's ingredients that I know I can trust, and you just put it in water. And you don't have to think about it. When people think of protein powders.

Zack Arnold 1:10:58

They think well, I don't want to get big and bulky. And that's not what this is about. to me. This is about repair.

Kit Perkins 1:11:03

So a big part of what we're talking about here is you are what you eat. Your body is constantly repairing and rebuilding and the only stuff it can use to repair and rebuild is what you've been eating. Unfortunately, as the years have gone by every day getting out of bed, it's like you know, two or three creeks and pops in the first couple steps and that I thought you just sort of live with now. But yeah, when starting the collagen daily or near daily, it's just gone. So for us job one eight here was make sure it's high quality, and that's grass fed hundred percent pasture raised cows. And then the second thing if you're actually going to do it every day, it needs to be simple. It's to taste good.

Zack Arnold 1:11:36

Well, my goal is that for anybody that is a creative professional like myself that's stuck in front of a computer. Number one, they're doing it standing on a Topo mat. Number two, they've got a glass of new standard protein next to them so they can just fuel their body fuel their brain. So you and I, my friend, one edit station at a time are going to change the world

Unknown Speaker 1:11:54

and even better for your listeners with code optimize on either a one time purchase for that first, Subscribe and Save order 50% off so if you do that, Subscribe and Save that's 20% off and 50% off with code optimized it's a fantastic deal.

Zack Arnold 1:12:08

If you're looking for a simple and affordable way to stay energetic focused and alleviate the chronic aches and pains that come from living at your computer. I recommend New Standard Whole Protein because it's sourced from high quality ingredients that I trust and it tastes great. to place your first order visit optimize yourself that means slash new standard and use the code optimize for 50% off your first order. Thank you for listening to this episode of The optimize yourself podcast to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes as well as to subscribe so you don't miss future interviews just like this one, please visit optimizer shelf.me/podcast. And don't forget that if you are inspired to take your networking game to a whole new level, but your outreach email game is just a bit weak. You get 100% free access to my new improved and upgraded Insiders Guide to writing amazing outreach emails, which is available for free to download and optimize yourself.me/email guide. And lastly, a special thanks to our sponsors ever cast and Ergodriven for making today's interview possible. To learn more about how to collaborate remotely without missing a frame and get your real time demo of Evercast an action visit optimizers health.me/evercast and to learn more about Ergo driven and their brand new product that I am super excited about new standard whole protein visit optimize yourself.me slash new standard. If today's interview inspires you to take the next step towards a more fulfilling career path that not only aligns you with projects that you are passionate about, but also includes some semblance of work life balance. And especially if you would like support mentorship and a community to help you turn your goals into a reality. Then you and I need to talk because in January I'm opening winter enrollment for my optimizer coaching and mentorship program. And it sounds like you could be the perfect fit. Over the last three years I've now worked with well over 100 students and I've seen stunning transformations. But the biggest obstacle for most has been that the program in the past was too expensive or it just required too much time. those problems are no longer in issue is I've made the program a lot more affordable and a lot less time intensive for those with busy lives, but who need an extra push to make whatever the next major transition is in your life. To learn more and apply visit optimize yourself. That means slash optimizer. Just so you know I review applications in the order that they're received and I fill slots accordingly. So the earlier the you apply, the better your chances are of getting in the program. Thank you for listening, stay safe, healthy and sane and be well

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Guest Bio:

dr tal ben shahar bio photo

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar

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Tal Ben-Shahar is a bestselling author and lecturer. He taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership. Today, Tal consults and lectures around the world to executives in multi-national corporations, the general public, and at-risk populations. The topics he lectures on include leadership, happiness, education, innovation, ethics, self-esteem, resilience, goal setting, and mindfulness. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have appeared on best-sellers lists around the world. Tal is a serial entrepreneur and is most recently the co-founder and chief learning officer of Happiness Studies Academy. An avid sportsman, Tal won the U.S. Intercollegiate and Israeli National squash championships. Today, for exercise, he swims, dances, and practices Yoga. He obtained his PhD in Organizational Behavior and BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Harvard.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”