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Embracing Discomfort with Michael Easter (ep. 474)

Michael Easter

Investigative health journalist Michael Easter joins John O’Leary on the Live Inspired Podcast to discuss embracing discomfort.

In many ways, we’re living more comfortable lives than ever before. We can drift through life while almost never being too hot, too old, too hungry, too physically exhausted, too dirty, or even too bored?

Yet, could the modernization of cars, computers, climate control and processed foods be chipping away at our physical, mental and emotional health?

Investigative health journalist Michael Easter shares how we can leverage the life-enhancing power of discomfort in our daily lives to relieve tension, lower the risk of disease and dramatically improve our overall well-being.

If you’re looking to find real connection in our world, today’s conversation will help you to embrace discomfort to reclaim your wild, happy and healthy self.

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  • As a single parent, Michael’s mother would make sacrifices in order to live above the poverty line and be able to afford enrichening international vacations.
  • “My favorite drink was the next one.” After years of struggling with alcohol addiction, Michael decided to get sober and saw profound benefits in all facets of his life.
  • While working at Men’s Health magazine, Michael did a story with extreme explorer Donnie Vincent which transpired into spending a month in the Arctic.
  • “If you want to improve your life, you’re going to have to go through some form of discomfort.”
  • If you always have the safety nets of the modern world, you never learn what you’re capable of.
  • Boredom is an evolutionary discomfort. People spend more than 12 hours a day on digital media, negatively affecting all facets of our lives.
  • Our brains are in “work mode” while looking at a screen instead of the rest and relaxation state of mindwandering.
  • “Boredom is now infrequent enough that the sight of someone doing nothing can be jarring.”
  • Evolutionary mismatch: the idea that physiological and psychological adaptations operate in environments that differ meaningfully from the environments in response to which they originally evolved
  • According to Rachel Hopman’s Nature Pyramid, we should learn to live by the 20-5-3 rule:
    • Twenty minutes, three times a week in a city park,
    • Five hours a month in semi-wild nature, like a state park.
    • Three days a year off-grid, like camping
  • What improves a person’s potential can’t always be measured.
  • “In Bhutan, they learn to see themselves as not always as a living person but as a dying person.”
  • Michael is working on his next book project called The Scarcity Brain which explores how our world has evolved to one of abundance and its effects on society.
  • Get a copy of Michael Easter’s The Comfort Crisis here.

Did you enjoy today’s episode? You’ll love our Family Road Trip Playlist!

Enjoy a curated selection of family-friendly Live Inspired Podcast guests including comic Sebastian Maniscalco, Grammy-winner Lauren Daigle, Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and so many more. With this much inspiration, no one will be asking, “are we there yet!?” Listen to the Family Road Trip Playlist here.


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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. More outgoing.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. A flag and letter from a Green Beret who read The Comfort Crisis.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Jerry Garcia, Hunter Thompson and Joseph Campbell.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. You’re not that damn important.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. I wouldn’t change anything because I learned from them.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. Feel discomfort and grow.