Before we get started, I have some exciting news, Happy Place releases its first album on the 30th of October.
It's a beautiful collection of songs, all focusing on mental health and being recorded by some of my all time and also brand new favorite artists, including so excited about this list of people, Emily Sun, Sam Fender and Ludovico it out.
You know that I love Ludovico so much or LoDo, if I'm allowed to call him that.
Oh, we are happy. Place have always believed in the power of music to help us work through difficult emotions and understand ourselves a little bit better. It certainly has helped me throughout my life in so many ways. I really hope the music on this album is calming for you and I hope that it elevates you provide solace that the melodies really moving. They certainly move me.
You can preorder your own copy of the album on CD and vinyl via the Happy Place Instagram account.
So had that at a happy place official or listen digitally from the 30th of October when you can hear the whole album. I really hope you love it.
Hello and welcome to A Happy Place. I'm Fern Cotton and it is good to be back in your ears. We've been working hard this summer to bring you, I think you'll agree is the best season of Happy Place Ever is packed full of inspiring stories, advice and lots of positivity. And I can think of no better guest to start with than Jay Shetty. If I'm always thinking about how I look and how people think I look and how they perceive me, then I don't get a chance to form how I feel about myself.
And that's really the key. It's not about having or not having. It's about are you doing the things because they make you feel good about yourself or are you doing it for the validation and approval of others? Jay was a monk, an actual monk living in monasteries in India and Europe at the age of 22. Now he's returned to the modern world to help millions of us live a simpler life. You are going to love listening to just as much as I did.
But first, a big hello to the sponsors of this series of happy place, stripe and stair. Hello, Stripe and stand. Thank you.
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So I was going to start this by saying, how's L.A. this morning? And I just found out you were in Iceland. Yeah, I'm in Iceland. So Iceland is well, what I heard is Iceland's green and Greenland's icy. So I can see a lot of green outside. And we tried to stay up last night to see the northern lights, which we were told they might make an appearance, but that didn't happen. So I've been trying to just get over jetlag since we got here about 12 hours ago and I got the pass.
I cannot do jetlag these days. The Northern Lights are so amazing. I was lucky enough to see them last Christmas. And it was just I mean, it feels even more special now. We can't really travel so much. It was just the most magical experience ever. So you're you're usually based in Los Angeles, hence the jet lag. Yes. What's it like sort of waking up in Los Angeles in the morning? What's your your rituals, your morning routine?
How does that pan out for you?
So I love waking up in L.A. because I love the blue skies and I can usually see the blue skies. I can usually see the sun. I can usually hear some birds outside. It's pretty beautiful and spectacular. And then my morning routine, about five hours, seven days a week is I wake up about six a.m. every day and then I'll be meditating from about six fifteen till about eight fifteen.
That's usually my schedule, two hours of meditation every single morning. So I've been doing my one and a half hour to two hour meditation practice for the last 15 years. So it varies sometimes. It gives me one and a half hour, sometimes it's two. And that takes me through to about A15, which is when I go to the gym and then I'll be in the gym or exercising or on a hike or something, activity based for about 45 minutes.
And then I begin my workday with breakfast and then everything continues from there to my real core parts of my morning routine and my meditation, which includes things like setting my intention for the day, getting myself primed and ready. And then I really enjoy working out in the morning, which never used to be what I was into. But it's it's been a game changer to actually start the day feeling energized.
Yeah. I mean, I'm definitely the same, but not the two hour meditation. But I want to talk more about that later because I know so many people out there, including myself, know that they could benefit so massively from it, but just haven't quite got it into their daily routine. But I mean, there's so many questions. I was so excited that you were coming on the podcast and we had this opportunity to chat because I just have millions of questions buzzing around my head for you.
Your amazing book that you very kindly sent me an early copy of, I was through and I've dogeared sort of every other page and underlined things. It was just such a wonderful thing to read. And so of Los Angeles, you kind of mentioned in the book there's I guess is sort of curious that you ended up in Los Angeles, which is, I guess, a place which is synonymous with fantasy and materialism. What what led you to lead them and how do you navigate that side of it?
Yeah, well, first of all, I want to say thank you to you for reading the book and going through it and just sharing that with me. It means the world to me. I finished writing the book last year this time. And so to hear that a year after is just really, really useful. So thank you so much. A genuinely means the world to me. But yeah, it's really interesting. I never imagined myself living anywhere apart from London and that's genuinely the truth.
I love London. I studied in London, I grew up there and when we'd obviously moved to New York. So I'm telling the story of New York to L.A. as opposed to London, New York to L.A. when me and my wife lived in New York, we lived there for two years. So we were there from 2016 to 2018. And my wife really didn't like it. And I liked it because it was helping me get closer to my purpose.
And that's where I've always been with where I live. It's always been about where do I think I can live my purpose best? And I think I can convince myself to live anywhere if it suits me for that reason. So we were on a work trip in L.A. for my work. We were visiting for about a month. So it's the first time we'd come to L.A. for a month and we decided to stay in a apartment, as it were, staying in a hotel when you come for like four days.
So maybe my wife is staying in this hotel and literally within a week I was having so many amazing meetings with people and getting connected to incredible people that were in love with what I was trying to do and my my service and impact in the world. And so I after a week, was like, I need to move here. Anyway, I didn't want to say that to my wife because I was scared that she may not feel the same way. And then my mother in law did the best thing a mother in law could ever do.
She was on the phone with my wife and she said to her on the call, she has Rathi, you look so happy there. And I was just like, yes.
And literally like my wife and her mom are like best friends. And so when she heard that from our mom, that just gave her a sense of confidence.
And we just found that we've just found such great friends in L.A. we. And we obviously do love the weather and the atmosphere here and in terms of the superficiality or the that element that you see or you may even see on TV shows or whatever it is I find like that can exist anywhere and everywhere, of course. And and I think because of what I do, I don't really attract as much into my life. So it's kind of like, oh, yeah, JJ wouldn't be into that.
So it's almost like I've just found some really good friends in L.A. I feel really grateful to have a great community. And one thing I found was that this is this is cultural and just observational, that people in L.A. had more time because they also had homes. So when you spend time with someone, you usually went to their home and that way you could spend the whole day with them. Whereas when I was in New York, I would always go to like a bar or a restaurant somewhere that wasn't someone's home.
And so you'd spend 30 minutes or two hours with someone, whereas as soon as we moved to L.A., people were inviting us to their homes. And then you're spending time in the garden and you're sitting around and talking. And so actually you could bond with people a lot better. So that's just my minimal experience of living in L.A. for two years.
Maybe I'll change my mind in a few years now. I think I think you seem perfectly happy there. And let's rewind even further, because your book is called Think Like a Monk. And you lived as a monk for three years in an ashram.
And I know from reading the book, but for the sake of the people that haven't read the book out there who are listening to this talk about your decision making around leaving the UK to become a monk, you you were living a sort of regular lifestyle in the U.K. and you had this moment where you just thought, this is my calling, I'm a London boy through and through, apart from the football team that I support, I support Manchester United because my dad moved to England when Manchester United in Liverpool were the two big clubs.
Anyway, that's another story. So I grew up in London. I'm through and through a Londoner and I thought I was going off to do whatever I did, which was go to a good university, get a good job, get married, make money, have kids like just kind of following that sort of rule and routine. And I never really thought I'd get to do anything different. And I was really, really fascinated by people's rags to riches stories when I was around 16 years old, 17 going on 18.
And I really loved learning about how people went from nothing to something. And I love celebrities, entrepreneurs, athletes, actors, musicians, anyone who had a story with pain and challenges. I remember the first two autobiographies I ever read were David Beckham's and Dwayne the Rock Johnson, and that was when he was still in the WWF and WWE. And I was just like so interested by what challenges they had in their life. So anyway, I was invited to hear a monk speak, so I would go to speeches by entrepreneurs and athletes.
But then once I heard that a monk was speaking and I was just like, what am I going to learn from a monk? Like, what's there to learn from a monk? They have nothing. What are they going to teach me? How to get nothing.
And I had this really dismissive view of hearing from a monk. And my friends are just like, look, look, look, let's just go. And I said to them, I'll only go if we go to a bar afterwards. That was the state of my consciousness at the time, just to make it very clear anyway. So my friends are smart and they said, yeah, sure.
So I went along and it's one of those humbling moments firm because you go there expecting nothing, let you go there thinking, oh, I'm not going to learn anything. And all of a sudden this becomes one of my life's most defining moments. And there's nothing outwardly attractive about the monk in the sense that he's wearing orange robes. He's got a shaved head, he's got an Indian accent because he's from India. But I'm staring at him as if I'm just like captivated and attracted.
And I didn't know this then. But when I look back, I think about being 18. And I think to myself at that time, I'd met people who were famous. I met people who were attractive and beautiful. I'd met people who were rich and knowledgeable.
But I don't think I'd ever met anyone who is truly happy.
And I'd ask anyone to do. And, you know, the happy place, like you'd ask people to count on their fingers, like how many people in their life that they've met that they genuinely believe exude joy and happiness.
I think I think all of us would say there's not that many. And so I realized at that point that I was just like, this person has something that no one that I've ever met has.
And I think it's really important. And I want to know how he's got that. And so I started spending my vacations with him, my holidays, my summer holidays, Christmas holidays. I started visiting India and just started living with the monks. And I'd spend half of my summer holidays interning at a corporate company in London, and I'd spend the other half living as a monk and in. Yes, I'd go from suits, steakhouses and bars to robes, sleeping on the floor and meditating every day, and this comparison, which I did in all my summer holidays and Christmas holidays for three or four years while I was studying when I graduated, I realized the life I wanted was the monk life.
And and that's why I made the decision.
And then so what was what were those three years like you what is life like living as a monk in a traditional ashram?
What is your day to day? So you wake up at four a.m..
Not my favorite part. Really, really, really tough. It's I even now when I visit, I try and avoid that one. But for you, wake up at four a.m. collective meditation starts at four thirty five. Fifteen is individual meditation. 715 is a bit of collective meditation. Again, seven thirty to eight thirty is a class. So there's wisdom and and discussion and then eight thirty is breakfast and then your day changes. It can be a mix of serving.
So we could be like cooking to feed the homeless or to distribute food to children in schools, or it could be helping build a sustainable village. So there was a lot of service. But the main thing I learned from this, which is the applicable part to people's lives, is half of our day or the morning, was about yourself and the rest of the day was about service. And I fell in love with that concept that life wasn't about just thinking about yourself and life wasn't just about thinking about other people.
It was about making sure that you were happy, you were joyful, you were connected, and then trying to share that energy with others. And I saw that balance being a really good way. At the end of the day, when you felt tired, you'd wake up the next morning and fill up again as so beautiful.
I think many people, myself massively included, can really take that away. And like you say, that is the applicable bit. We can we can more easily fit that into our lives, because I think, you know, I'm a parent. So a lot of my day is, you know, serving others is, you know, clearing up rubbish on the floor and cooking. And it's just being chaos. And it is very much not about me, but I've learned to kind of get teary moments in the day for myself.
And there'll be people, you know, who perhaps live in in another way, which was definitely me in my twenties where I didn't really think about anybody else. And it's it's nice to have that balance to look up because, you know, you even touched on this in the book that it might seem easy for monks because they have a limited lifestyle when there's a routine and it's a community. Whereas in the modern world, it feels near impossible at times to implement this sort of ethos into our lives because it's fast and it's hectic and it's chaotic.
Are there sorts of simple solutions to that always where you can really live by that beautiful harmony and balance that you've talked about?
Yeah, one of the best ways that I think I've had to learn that what you just said is my math life or monk school was training for three years.
And then I left seven years ago. And the last seven years have been like the exam. And so it's almost like I learned all these things in three years and in the last seven years, I had to see whether they actually worked. And that's why I wrote this book, because I tested everything I learned in the real world, in the hectic, fast paced. I've moved, you know, in the last four years I've lived in London, New York and L.A., none of which are slow spaces.
I'm in the media industry, which is fast paced, and there's so much going on. And I got married during that time, too, and moved country and moved home and everything else that goes with that. So everything I'm sharing is very much tested. I don't have kids yet, so I completely understand that. That is a completely different world.
And I do not I do not claim to be an expert in how to meditate when you have kids. But what I can definitely say is that there are four practices on a daily basis for yourself that I think can make a huge difference. And I really believe that even if you can only do five minutes each of these a day and what you said, fine, I love that because I think we forget that when we're happier, when we're calmer, when we're more balanced, we exude that energy on to everyone around us is contagious.
Right. Studies show the opposite to that. If someone within one mile radius of you living next to you is negative or has a bad mood, that's going to rub off on you by about five percent. Yeah, there's a study of my neighbor's doors and do a check. Yeah. Yeah. Crazy. Yeah.
And they say that obviously is much more amplified within the people living right next door to you like it has an impact. So you think about how contagious negativity and positivity are. So these are four habits that I swear by and I feel so easy to include into your day. And they come in the form of the active. Time Timmy City stands for thankfulness. I think it's so important to find a moment to be thankful. Now, I'm not going to get you to sit there and feel grateful and experience it.
I actually want you to thank someone practically and study. Studies show that when you actually express gratitude and thanks to someone, it boosts your mood and it boost their mood. And so it boosts your bond in the relationship you have. So I'll give you an example. And let's say and I know you organize these amazing festivals before this and you've done it. And, you know, I really hope I get to be part of one one day meeting.
You organize these awesome festivals and let's say you organize this happy place, first of all. And two of your friends give me two friends names and two of your friends that come to the festival.
Oh, they're going to everyone's going to hate me now. I'm not picking them, but I'll say Kai and Claire. Okay.
And Claire. So just a disclaimer. This does not represent Chi in Claire's personality or behavior. I do not know. I start tweeting you. Yeah, exactly. So let's say you do the happy place. First of all, Kai and Claire turned up and the next day you got a message from both of them chi messages, Ferd, and says, thanks, Fern had a great time. That's it. Now clear messages and clear messages.
And says, Fern, what an amazing day. It was just incredible. The line up was amazing. I learned so much and all the food was just delicious. And I think I met a couple of new friends as well. I just had the best time. Thank you so much for doing this. Now finds a grateful person, so she's grateful for both of them. But which one do you think hit her more? Well, I mean, classic clash.
You've absolutely nailed it. Classic Claire, because Claire was specific and she expressed it. So when you're saying thankfulness, it's not just about sitting there and writing a gratitude journal. It's not just about sitting there and feeling grateful. It's about going out and telling someone it's lovely and it would change. So that's what I stands for, inspiration. So just like we have to have a bath every day to stay clean and we have to eat every day to stay energized, we've got to brush our teeth every day to be sparkling white.
We have to be inspired every day to keep motivation, to keep that energy. Now, what this does in the simplest ways, like let's say you just read one quote every day that you love and all you're trying to do is put that quote into practice. And it may be a quote about kindness and maybe a quote about love and all you're trying to do. It could be for a whole week, you choose one quote, one message, and you just trying to live that every day.
You see that when you feel like you're learning something every day, when you feel that you're learning something new, you feel a sense of confidence in achievement and you actually have something to talk about as well. And again, it can be as simple as literally reading a quote, M stands for meditation. Now, you don't have to do two hours a day or one and a half. You can start with five minutes a day. And meditation in its most basic form is just learning to spend time with yourself.
And I think this is something that we really struggle with. We always want to be in company or surrounded by people. And I think this is something that's developed over time because imagine you with a kid at school that didn't have a lot of friends. You were considered the loner, or if you were the kid that didn't have a lot of people at their birthday party, you are unpopular. And then if you're single in your 30s, it's like, oh, my God, why are you single?
So we've created all these negative side. Wait, I never thought about that. Why don't we devalue being on our own? I love being on my own.
Same, so do I and I love it. That's the funny thing, that if someone asked you now for and you'd say like I'd be happy if five of my best mates turned up to my birthday party.
Oh, I mean, cut it down to three.
Jackie five's too many. Exactly.
And so we've created this negative mindset towards being alone. And there are two words in the English Dictionary for being alone.
One's lonely and the other one's solitude and monks practice solitude. And we were talked about solitude. We never use the word, oh, go and spend time on your own or go and be lonely or be alone.
We said, OK, spend time in solitude. And Paul Tillich and other people, more recent writers talk about how solitude is the strength of being alone or the power of being alone. And so that's meditation. Even if you don't have to sit there and just find one thing you do every day by yourself and it's for you, right? That's that's what it means. And then is exercise. And I really think we, again, have a block that we think exercise means the gym or it means a treadmill.
Exercise can be your favorite walk. It can be a dance party. It can be a sport that you play. Just moving your body is so good for your mind. So for yourself, Timmy, thankfulness, inspiration, meditation, exercise, five minutes a day of each. And that's a great place to start.
I love that. And that does seem very manageable. That's something that we can all even if we just start off by thinking about that. And working out more ways to to create positive change is something that just reminded me of a part of your book there when you were talking about solitude is the fact that monks practice austerity as as part of their their daily ritual and just their way of life.
And obviously, in the modern world, we are constantly clambering for the opposite of that.
We want more access, luxury, comfort. You know, we've been sort of brainwashed, I guess, to some extent. And we're not going to get into blame because there's all sorts of things, social media, advertising. But we very much have been indoctrinated that those sorts of things are going to create happiness or well-being even, which is completely messed up.
Can you talk about what the benefits are and and from experience? Because you had three years of this, what we can learn from austerity and how we can benefit from it.
What an amazing question. I really, really appreciate it. And I like to be honest, too, because now I'm married and I'm not a monk. My life has changed a lot in some senses and in some senses it hasn't. So when I lived as a monk, I lived out of a gym locker. So all your possessions fit into a gym locker. Now I have videos that I put up as well which show that I have. I have a very extravagant wardrobe now, very different.
It's still it's still uniform, like in the sense that I have every so I have this sweater in every color and and I have the same joggers that I'm wearing right now in every color. And so I still try to keep it uniform. But my point being that when you live out of a gym locker, it's actually really liberating. Like when you when you kind of strip away let go, you allow yourself to live simpler. It definitely is liberating because it makes you realize that you can still live.
You're still alive. You're still absolutely fine. Nothing nothing went wrong like I didn't all of a sudden. I think we have these fears. So one of the other examples I give is as monks, you sleep on the floor and you're not even allowed to have your spot on the floor. So the spot on the floor changes every day. And the point of that is not to annoy you to the point of that is to show you that flexibility and adaptability are muscles that you can build.
And so what I'd say to anyone who's thinking, how do I practically apply this? You don't have to sleep on the floor. You don't have to give away all your fancy clothes. That's not the point. The point is, think about in your life or in your day, where could you be a little more flexible? Where could you be a little more adaptable? Is it that your keys on in the same place because your spouse with them somewhere else?
Or is it that you when you when you turn up to work, someone else is like using something off your desk, like where is it in your day where you could just become a little more adaptable and flexible and actually realize that the energy we waste trying to control that or solve them to perfect actually drains us rather than the energy of just going, Oh, I found it.
All right, let me go and move on to the next thing. And so the only the only decision you get to make it sleep time was a snorers room or a nonserious got.
And I was a nonsupport.
So vague. I mean, because it's so interesting you even hearing saying there that, you know, having limited possessions in a gym locker is liberating because we've been absolutely taught the opposite, that we need stuff to feel a sense of freedom or whatever it is that we're eternally reaching for.
And to have that, you know, I'm a clear alcoholic. I love nothing more than getting a big bin bag and just filling it with stuff. I know I don't need it. I give it to a charity shop and I feel great about it. And I do feel a bit nervous for a bit like, oh my God, I'm partying with this. But then there is that sense of liberation. But not many people want us to believe. I think monks are probably the only group that want us to believe that that is true.
But it's I guess it's all part of sort of letting go. And there's I mean, it gets so complicated, but there's so much of our identity wrapped up in the stuff we have, the things we have around us, how we want people to perceive us. And again, part of Monck life is stripping that away to just I guess, is it to am I correct in saying it's just to be you as a human without all of that stuff?
It what is the essence of that lacking? Yeah, it's it's that the more we're focused on outward life, the less we have the ability to focus on our inwardly.
Yeah. And so in the sense of if I'm always thinking about how I look and how people think I look and how they perceive me, then I don't get a chance to form how I feel about myself. And that's really the key. It's not about having or not having. It's about are you doing the things because they make you feel good about yourself or are you doing it for the validation and approval of others so that I start the book where there's a quote from Charles Cooley and it's my favorite quote probably of all time.
And he says I'm he says the problem today is. I'm not what I think I am, I'm not what you think I am, I am what I think you think I am. So let that blow your mind for a moment. I'll explain. Yeah, yeah, I know.
But what he's saying is that and I'll make it simple. So what he's saying is if I think Fern thinks that I'm smart, I feel smart.
And if I and if I think that Fern thinks I'm not smart, then I don't feel smart.
And so, yes, we do this every day. This is crazy. So we're living our life in a perception of a perception of ourselves, of me thinking I know what Fern thinks about me. And and that's just a really complicated place to live.
If you if you've ever watched the movie Inception, it's like being lost within a thought, within a thought, within the thought.
And and again, like I said, it's not about having things or not having things.
It's about are you pursuing things because you really want them?
Are you behaving or conducting yourself in a way because that makes you feel happy about who you are? Or is it to accomplish a certain validation or a certain approval from outside? Because the more externally driven we are, so many studies show that extrinsic motivators, i.e. other people's approval recognition awards, don't give us happiness. And that's why I talk about the pursuit of success. And happiness is two different things. Happiness is all about how I feel about myself, and success is about awards, medals, achievements, etc.
and success gets you success and happiness gets you happiness. Happiness does not get you success and success can't get you happiness. And it's OK and it's OK to just realize are two separate things.
Because you say in the book there was one line where I had to stop and go, oh no, what does this mean for me in my life?
When you say you don't have to be the best, whatever that thing is that you're doing?
And I say I do have to be the best, I want to be the best. I'm a Virgo. I'm a perfectionist. I'm a Virgo rooster. When you I'm a first time I'm sitting round the corner. No, no.
Vergos. Yes. Organized Vergos in the house.
My daughter's the ninth. She's right after me. But I struggle with that one because, you know, if you are if you want to believe in the stars and all that, I do.
And I do definitely relate to what you said about Virgo types is that, you know, you do have this sense of perfection wanting to be the best.
And for me to let go of that is really hard. So what's your thinking behind that sort of not striving to be the best?
Is that about that still doesn't equal happiness.
So I think if I'm right, I think that was in a specific context and this is going to make you happy because we're more aligned. Then then that line may have created a question that actually the principle in the bulgogi to which is the book that I speak from consistently in the book, is that don't.
It's better to live your own life rather than to try and live someone else's life. Yes. And so often what ends up happening is that we're trying to become the best at someone else's life. Yes. And so that's the challenge, becoming the best at what you love and what you believe in and what you do. That's a beautiful pursuit. The pursuit of excellence is a great teacher because in the pursuit of excellence, you get humbled. You have to learn about ego.
You don't always win. So you deal with failure. So the pursuit of excellence is humbling in and of itself, but the pursuit of excellence in someone else's lane is a waste of time. And I think Steve Jobs said it best when he said don't waste your time living someone else's life. And that's the principle there. Are you trying to become the best in something? And a really good example that I share in the book is about Andre Agassi, the tennis player, and how he actually never wanted to play tennis.
Yeah, and he revealed that in his autobiography. And it's just crazy to think that.
And that's what happens, that even if you become the best at something you don't love, it will actually be dissatisfying no matter how many people adore you.
Because actually, I write something down because we're again, one of those modern day myths is, you know, and I don't know if this is perhaps more of an American thing than a European thing, but there's you know, you can be whatever you want to be.
You can do whatever you want to do. And you wrote you can't be anything you want, but you can be everything that you are.
Yes. So brilliant. And that's really good to teach kids, you know, what are your strengths? Don't try and be what's popular or what you think is going to bring something to your life, you know?
And actually, well, this leads us perfectly onto something that I learned greatly about in your book, which is Dharma.
And I'd heard that word a lot. You know, I do yoga and I've done meditation practices and group meditations and I've heard the word Dharma, but I'm not sure I've ever grasped the real meaning and and how I can feel it. And and I certainly do. Now, I've I've I've read about it so prolifically in your book.
And I think I it really resonated with me because I've only really found my Dharma within the last sort of five years because before I was definitely living somebody else's life and I was on TV presenting and I could do it.
I was competent, but I didn't feel the fire or that drive that I really, really do now.
And I accidentally, brilliantly fell into what I'm doing now. And I love it. And I it doesn't feel like work. And I was excited to get my microphone outstay and to start this. And and I think there are a lot of people out there that might feel, well, you know, lucky for you, you found what you love and what you do. I haven't, you know, got to that place yet.
How do people seek it out?
You know, it took me to my mid 30s to get there.
What would you say is a good way of navigating to that place?
Yeah, and you definitely are a brilliant present. I grew up watching you and still what you now.
So it's it's but and we'll talk about it with your journey, actually. I'll explain it and then I'll come back to your journey because your journey is actually a really good example.
Now that you've told me that piece of information, which I did not know, now that I've I've heard that this is going to help even more so everyone is listening and watching right now. Darma, loosely translated, comes down to eternal purpose. It's kind of like your you're in a nature that in a gift and talent and potential that's always there and it's your purpose. But it's been covered over by all these other pursuits that school, the world, whatever else that came in.
Now, like and I love what Fern said. We're not trying to blame anyone. It's not like, oh, no one ever helped me find it. It's our responsibility if we want to live a purposeful and meaningful life. So I try and break things down into formulas to help people because I think purpose is a really intangible and difficult word to understand. And it's kind of thrown around a lot. And Dharma is, too. So this is the formula.
Purpose equals passion plus strength plus compassion, right? It's as simple as that purpose equals passion plus strength plus compassion. And I'll explain each one. So passion is what Fern was saying almost was lacking in her work. She had the strength to be a TV presenter.
She was really good at it. She knew what she was doing and she was performing really well, but she maybe lacked passion and maybe lacked compassion around it. Of course, I'm popular in this for her. And what's really interesting about that is that sometimes your strengths can actually be really useful because in one sense, for all you've done is taken those strengths of TV presenting and now take the cross to presenting about stuff you're really passionate about and you think can help people.
You're still using the same strength. You've just redirected them. I think this is really important for you to understand that if you're sitting at home right now and you're doing a job that you hate and you don't like your company and you don't like your boss and you don't like the toxic atmosphere, think about it for a second.
You might actually have a strength that is going to be their strength that helps you build or create the next stage in your career or your work or your life that actually helps you have a meaningful and purposeful journey. So that's one way of looking at strengths, passion.
The way I describe it is purpose is like an adult. Passion is like a teenager. Interest is like a child and curiosities the womb. So the birth of purpose is actually curiosity, like that's where it starts.
And often we're like, oh, but but Fern, I don't know what I'm passionate about. Like, I've got nothing I get excited about and it's like, don't worry about getting excited. Just what are you curious about. What is it that when you hear it just just the tiniest whisper of it gets you going?
I want to know more about that. I want to watch a documentary on that. I want to listen to a podcast about that. What is it? And you will have that. So that's passion.
And compassion is another way of finding your purpose. It's actually where you see the most pain in the world.
So a lot of the most successful companies, successful people in the world started not because they had a passion, but they started because they had some idea it could have been that a family member passed away from a disease or it could have been that they lost someone they loved or it could have been a health issue that they had themselves.
And so when you add if you want to make something a purpose, if you want to make something real in your life, you have to be passionate about it, have strengths in it, and be compassionate towards something to solve a problem. And these are all skills that you can gain. So you may say, gee, I know what I'm passionate about, but I'm not good at it. Well, you go and get training, go and get immersed, go and become the best at it.
Exactly. Yeah, that is very much kind of I mean, as I say, I sort of accidentally fell into what I'm doing now. But the nuclear certainly is pain.
I wouldn't be able to do any of the stuff I'm doing now without the understanding of of that pain and and trying to do something with it rather than drowning in it at times, you know, sort of using it to be compassionate and and have empathy and understanding and to remain curious as well. And I think, you know, like you said, there's lots to think about there for people if if it doesn't seem a media that they understand or know what that might be for them, that there's there's a lot to sort of play around with and to think about.
And I think that's actually really exciting for a lot of people, because, as I say, you know this I didn't have that opportunity until, you know, into my thirties. But but, you know, it takes place and he rushes that you just kind of it all unfolds when it's when it's supposed to.
And, you know, you said something a moment ago that is really relevant. And that is there's always going to be, you know, other people's opinions or things in life will get in the way of you, perhaps, you know, following your dharma or following those sorts of interests. There's so much outside noise, especially at the moment. I mean, we're living in a very, very strange world at the moment. The news is loud opinions allow judgment is everywhere.
How do we start to mitigate that and get focused on what we really care about?
Also, there is that element of people don't necessarily want to turn away from that. They feel guilt. They feel obliged to know everything. You know, how do we start to look at that and gain focus?
Yeah, I think that's a really important question for right now.
And I really do believe that you can only truly make your mind up when you do your research, you do your study, you learn about whatever's happening in the world that you feel interested in or you feel you want to contribute to.
And then you take all of that away and you sit in solitude with it. You have to sit alone with it, because the problem is that if you are trying to make your mind up about something and someone keeps adding stuff, it's almost like you're trying to make soup and someone comes and throws extra salt in there and then someone else comes and throws pepper in there, and then someone else comes and throws a soup vegetable that you didn't want to be in your soup.
And all of a sudden you haven't got a soup anymore. You've just got a random mix of stuff that doesn't taste right. And you've got to kind of go, OK, no, I've got my ingredients, I've done my research, I've learned about what I want and I'm going to go away and I'm going to try and form an opinion that I'm then going to come back with almost as a hypothesis and see whether it still fits in works and aligns.
And then that's the process. And that's why I think even if it's spending five minutes a day where you're just allowing yourself to be with your thoughts, allowing yourself to understand what your thoughts are about a subject matter. And that's the thing that if you don't know what you think about something, you'll adopt someone else. His. And so you'll adopt the mindset from TV or the newspaper or social media, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that.
What I'm saying is you still haven't had an opportunity to say this is what I believe. This is what I think is important. And now I see how it aligns with everything. So I think it requires you to step away. The the other thing that's really important is realizing that you can't solve every problem in the world and you don't have the power to you're not meant to. You can't fix anything. And everyone has a unique problem that they have the most impact to solve.
So someone like, for example, Jane Goodall, who's dedicated her life so much to me to say, you look at Jane Goodall and she's dedicated her life to obviously saving the planet and the environment and understanding and studying it. You know, you don't question her and go, why does she care so much about the environment and not everything else? Because she's found her dharma and she's doing it to the best of our ability. And you don't. And I'm not saying she doesn't care about other things.
I'm sure she does. But she's very focused on one area. And I think the world will be an incredible place if we allow other people to live their service and dharma and we live ours and we appreciate others for the good that we're doing. And we encourage them. We we support them. But we also realize that when we find our way of pushing the world forward just a little bit, it makes a difference. And I noticed this when the lockdown first started.
I was looking at how we could help and I was healthy and safe. So I was thinking, I've got a bit of a responsibility to want to help. And I was looking at, like, you know, John Legend was singing and playing the piano.
And I was like, OK, either of those things. And then and then on the other side, they were like all these workout people leading like workouts from rooftops and musicians playing instruments on the balconies. And I was like, don't have a balcony, don't you can't do that.
And then and then I was like, well, you know, I'm just going to teach meditation. And so I and I said, I know. Like, I'm well aware meditation is not going to solve anyone's health problems in terms of covid. It's not going to relieve everyone's issues in the world right now. I'm aware of that.
But if I can give people 20 minutes a day to find peace and clarity, then maybe they'll find the right answer for themselves. And so for 40 days, I went live on Instagram and Facebook and we did these live meditations. We had 20 million people. And obviously it was all for free for anyone to tune into a 90 percent of the people that I spoke to afterwards when I brought them on, which is like you have never meditated before and that they were benefiting from it.
I just thought, that's it. Like, I can't solve everything, but I'm just trying my best. And sometimes and that's not a copout. I'm not saying that as an excuse.
I'm saying that as a as a way of if you feel you're a part of the solution, you'll always feel I actually you know, surely there are many findings in the sense that meditation does help boost your immune system. Not necessarily directly for David, but all of these practices aren't just so you feel or I feel all right today. This is, you know, on a physiological level, this is affecting your cells and how your body works. You know, the scientific proof behind this stuff that it's not just, you know, it's not seen as this sort of endeavor anymore or whatever this is.
This is scientifically proven to physically help you and and align you mentally and physically so that your immune system is better and you can withstand, you know, illnesses, viruses, whatever else is floating around.
Absolutely. I mean, I share so many research studies in the book on meditation and monks brain. So Matthieu Ricard, who I got to interview about four years ago, he's known as the happiest man in the world. And his when they when scientists scanned his brains, it has the highest indicator of gamma waves which are linked to attention, learning and happiness. And you may say, well, one monks', an anomaly, but they tested another 20 monks have meditated for decades and they found the same thing in them.
The ability to switch on and off focus and be present and have compassionate thoughts and be empathetic without feeling down and without feeling like you're pulling yourself down. So, yeah, no, you're on the study show a boost in immunity, better memory, everything from better brain synergy as well, where you're using more parts of your brain. The studies are endless on meditation now, and you're absolutely right.
Let's talk about happiness because it's a really loaded one. I mean, I've written about it tons, and it still is a difficult one to talk about often. But we do know that, again, in the modern world, most people at some point, if not most days, feel a level of dissatisfaction.
We're all in a bit of a loop of either I take this off a list or I want this and then I want that afterwards. And then we get that thing and it's fun for a second. And then the next thing and, you know, we're all kind of living like. We live in a consumerist world, which doesn't help, but, you know, we are sort of programmed in that way, even if its achievements or whatever, you know, climbing up in a company or whatnot, we assume it's going to bring a sense of happiness, it always seems.
But at the end of the rainbow, that's where we're headed to its end destination rather than it being about the. Now, how do we start to break that way of thinking in that loop to actually, you know, not be trying to aim for happiness, but just accepting it in the moment? You know, how do we think about happiness?
Yeah, I really believe that the pursuit of success and pursuit of happiness are two separate journeys and they don't coincide.
And that's where we've gone wrong. Yeah, well, that if if we're more successful, then we'll be happier. And also, we think the opposite. If I'm happier, then I must be more successful. Yeah. And and neither of those are true.
They're just they are what they are. And I don't even know if this is popular thought or people would agree with me. But I'm very confident on this piece that happiness is how I feel about myself, the quality of my relationships, how much I feel loved, and how much I feel I love and give in service and how much I feel connected to the world and what I'm doing in it and successes, awards, medals, trophies, all of that kind of stuff.
And by the way, I like both, too. And no, you know, I don't. But but I'm very conscious of the fact that success is not going to make me happy. It's just it's just it's there to make me feel successful and learning and getting to the next level, just like we played video games. We've been brainwashed to want to get to the next level and everything that is feeding my desire for success.
But that shouldn't be the thing that I'm hoping is going to make me feel wholly and and call it like I always talk about it, like whether you and I have so many clients or people I work with who may live in the most beautiful homes or have the most opulent lifestyles, but. If they've had an argument with their partner, I mean, you don't care what you drive in or live in, if you've had a bad argument with someone that you live with or your child or someone important to you, none of that matters.
And that's the point, that happiness and success are two different things.
And so to me, it just stop. We've got to stop ourselves thinking that they intertwine that, oh, that next Christmas gift is going to make me happy. No, it's going to make you feel successful and important for a second and validated. But it's not going to give you that joy.
Yes. I think the word important is the thing, because if you think about how social media is used today, not by everybody, but by some, you know, it's we all know the smoke and mirrors around it. And if somebody is on a private jet or whatever, you know, it might not tally up to how they're feeling. But there is a sense of that person must be important. But, of course, again, that is a huge if it's actually the sort of constructive who's important VIP can't stand that turn of phrase.
But we're all important and we all matter.
And it's actually, like you say, that sort of feeling is founded on your personal relationships and how you fit into them. And also probably the quickest way to gain what real important says is to be of service because you're needed by other people. But we think it's a private jet not helping other people. It's bizarre. Yeah, it is. And you're so right. I love that you've taken it this way because and that's one of the issues with having a rich list every year, because as soon as you have a rich list, it makes I remember growing up and my dad would have like the newspaper, the magazine on the desk, and it would be the rich list and he'd be looking at it.
And I can't remember how old I was when I first saw Rich List. Maybe I was like ten or something around then. And it's almost like the rich list and it's OK.
But we don't have a service list or we don't have a list or we don't and we don't need a list for it either.
I'm not saying we should measure how much people let it be handed in a list for sure, you know, correct. Yeah, it's it's like what we reward in society is repeated and we've got to be so careful what we reward for children, what we reward for adults, what we reward in companies, because if you reward someone helping someone else, more people will do it.
And even if they do it for the wrong reason to begin with, it will start moving the world in the right direction. And so sometimes it may not be the perfect intention, but you can still start moving in the right. Sure.
There's one point in the book, which is not like a big life moment that we're talking about here, but it is something that every human on the planet deals with, whether they're willing to admit it or not. And that is gossip. It's tempting. It's tantalizing. It feels rather exciting in the moment. You feel a little bit elevated for a millisecond. And then, of course, you feel like death. It's the pits and we know it's toxic and we know it doesn't lead us anywhere.
But it feels sometimes almost impossible. You don't even realize you're doing it. And I know that in the book you suggest sort of writing down these moments when you've had, you know, when you've gossiped or you've said something even negative. It's such a discipline. How do we start to train our brains to not think in this historic way? Cos it's been going on forever.
How do we get out of that?
Yeah, there's a there's a beautiful quote that the chapter starts with from Day Akeda, who's a British philosopher, and it says that you can't build your happiness on the unhappiness of others.
And I love that statement because it so clearly articulates that. Imagine you're trying to build a home with everyone's broken bricks. That's what gossip is like.
It's like taking like someone's house has crumbled and you're trying to build your platform from someone's crumbled home, trying to build that. And when you visualize that, you're like, wow, yeah, that would never work, because if someone's got divorced or someone's got made a mistake at work or someone's broken up, that's a broken piece of brick and stone. And now you're using that to feel better about yourself.
So one of the reasons why it happens, first of all, is we feel better when someone feels inferior to us. The problem that this creates is now we feel inferior when someone feels better than us. Yeah. So you're almost getting yourself lost into a cycle of constantly ahead or behind inferior or superior as soon as you lose the fact that we're all equal and you just said it so beautifully. I've never heard anyone say that before. You were like, I don't like VIP.
We're all important.
As soon as you realize we're all important, you now go, oh, wait a minute, there is no ahead or behind. There is no inferior superior. It's just different. Right. We're all just different and have different goals in. Of different pursuits, and we've got to stop measuring and comparing it, so the way to remove got it. My favorite way is this because I love competing against myself. So if you're competitive, use it in this way.
I try and keep a table. And we used to do this as Monks' is keep a tally of how many times you gossip. So the first step is to spot yourself gossiping. Oh, so you keep it Italian. If you want to make it really fun, you can put you put me vs. gossip down on a on a table, put a line down the middle. And so then the first thing is you do that. So you'll find on Monday gossip ten times.
Now that you're aware of it, Tuesday you gossip eight times. Wednesday you're at six. Thursday you're at four. Friday you're at two. And then on the weekend, you binge gossip again and you're back up to twenty and I goes back up.
So the point the first step is spotting it. If you start spotting yourself and you start recognizing it, you'll go, Oh, I don't I know where this goes. I don't want to do this. The second step is stopping after you've done it or before you're about to do it and asking yourself, is this truly useful?
Is this really beneficial or is this getting me to the goal that I want to get to? And the answer is most likely going to be no. And then third and final thing is you swap it for an alternative thought of, OK, I'm talking about that person who broke up. Why don't I actually go and improve my communication with my partner so that I don't end up in that situation? Right. It's almost like let me learn from that now and swap.
So that's called spot stop swap. And any mental thought that you don't like, whether it's negative or gossip, if you follow this model of spot stop swap the monk words were aware, address, amend those. I changed it to swap stop swap to make it easier to remember. But if you do that, you'll just find yourself removing gossip from your life. And and the other thing about gossip is and we we've heard this before, but when you're gossiping about someone with someone, that someone's probably going to gossip about you with someone else.
And so you're trying to also build a relationship off of the criticism of someone else. But that's not a real relationship either. And so you end up creating just so much that goes wrong.
But the biggest thing that I think about gossip is just recognizing that. You could be using that energy to go and make sure that you don't end up in the situation that you're currently gossiping about.
Yes, God, that's a really if not like, you know, a little sort of selfish in the moment. It's the best way of, like, I'm not going to end up like that. So I better stop this and put their energy into some positive mental attitude. I think that's such a good way of thinking about it.
And I'm practically getting out of it because, you know, we're all guilty of doing it at some point and and nobody feels nice doing it. So it's it's a it's a great way of, you know, like you say, get things on paper. I think that's a really visible way of saying, God, I do gossip a lot and it doesn't feel great. And I'm not saying that with judgment because I do all the time. Yeah, I'm making I since I've started reading your book, I've been so much more aware of it, you know, not even slightly particularly salacious, but just sort of thoughts and what you want to release from your mouth and thinking, I just don't need to say that.
I just don't need to say that.
Oh, my God, I could literally talk to you for a year. I love it. I still have questions. I'm going to ask you one last thing, because it leads on from the gossip thing to some extent.
And that is, again, you say something in the book that that really stood out to me and it was all truncates it somewhat because I didn't write it down. But you talk about sort of the freedom of speech, and we think that that is often saying whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want, without consequence, you that's freedom of speech. You can say, I want to say what I want. But actually, the real freedom comes from those moments where you don't need to say anything, that you can see things going on and whatever.
And that's not, you know, not standing up for yourself. It's those moments where you really don't need to verbally shout or scream or screech about things. And maybe, I guess you go down the route of action rather than just having your say.
And I think that there's still a huge misconception around that and and how freedom of speech is. It's kind of thrown around quite flippantly, I think.
Yeah, I think you've really well explained. I really believe that freedom of speech should be from the soul and not from the ego. And a lot of our speech is from our ego. So it's either in defence or attack. And when you speak from the soul or you speak from your heart, it's from love and compassion. So you could still be saying something pretty strong, assertive and powerful, but with love and compassion in your heart. Yeah, or you could be saying something really hurtful, negligent and useless from your ego that makes you feel better in the moment.
And so we're just trying to limit ego in our lives, because if you're coming at something with an attacking mode, someone else then has to defend, which means you've just created another cycle where they will also attack. Yeah, even if you're saying something assertive, direct, important, which you can do all of it, if it's coming from a heart filled with empathy and love and compassion and fueled by wanting to better both people. And this is where it applies to a partnership, a couple and the world is that we have to realize we're on the same team.
And and if it is and by the way, I believe everyone on the planet needs to be on the same team to stay alive, keep the planet alive. Yeah.
And and to have a good life like I don't want to have who I don't think there's anyone in the world, hopefully, who genuinely enjoys conflict, like, I don't know anyone in the world who really strives. And you may say, I know people who love drama and start it up and their heart when they go to bed at night and their head hits the pillow, I'm sure they really don't want that. And so we only change that mindset when we say that, you know, if I want to win, that means you have to lose.
And if you want to win, that means I have to lose. And so the only way to win is to win together. Yeah.
And as soon as you figure that out, because in a partnership or in the world, if you want to win and they lose, guess what? You both just lost. Yeah. And that's what we don't realize, that there is no win and lose. There's either winning together or they're losing together. And right now we're losing together a lot. And so we just got to realize that that we're all way too connected to start turning this into a competition or a team.
Without a doubt. My God, J. It's just been such a joy talking to you. I feel so lucky that we've had this moment just unpick so many brilliant theories and things that you experienced in your life in your book.
I loved, loved, loved reading it. And I really hope that we get to do something again together in the future.
I really look forward to it because I love what you're doing and your whole journey of how you've shifted and used what you had and and found your dream. I mean, it's so it's so beautiful to see that because it requires real courage and requires real depth to do that. So I admire you for what you've done and what you're doing. And I really hope we get to do a lot for me, too.
Jay, thank you so much. Take care.
Must be really say thanks for all. Thanks, Jay. Thanks for kicking off that first brilliant episode. And Jay, we hope you enjoyed your Icelandic jaunt. It's such a pleasure to talk to Jay. Jay's own podcast is called On Purpose, and it is fabulous. I love listening to it. I'm out running. I'm going to be going on it soon as well, which I'm really excited about. Thanks, Jay. There's a link to listen in the show notes.
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