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All right, we've got a fun episode today, Angel Collinson is a badass in every sense of that word. She's one of the world's best extreme skiers, a meditator and a climate activist. In this conversation, we explore angels mindfulness practice and how it helps her stay centered even when she's skiing off a cliff. We discuss her work on Capitol Hill and tricky and raw conversation she had with her own father. This is another one of the episodes we recorded pre pandemic, but it remains highly relevant, highly engaging.
So please enjoy Angel Collinson. Great to meet you. Yes, so nice to meet you, too. Shout out to my friend Josh Empson from our mutual friend Josh. Yeah, totally. Thanks, Josh. How did you get into meditation? Well, I was always really interested in Buddhism growing up, I'm not sure why I ski raised in a pretty high level from a young age, and I found that it was just something that I was kind of already doing to clear my mind before competitions.
But really what got me into it was when I started doing some more of the quote unquote extreme stuff and also finding my spiritual identity or just the way that I wanted to relate to life in the way that I wanted to find meaning for my own life. And I'd heard a lot about meditation and I was dating a boyfriend that helped get me into it. And yeah, that was about 10 years ago.
What does your practice look like now? Now I have a lot of time that I spend on the road and I really like to use apps. Yeah, I really love your app. I also really love waking up. Sam Harris is app.
Sam Harris. I mean, really good friend and he's a great teacher.
Yeah, both of those apps are awesome. I've never tried Headspace, but there's something about the app that keeps me accountable. I don't necessarily need it for my day to day practice, but sometimes it just has more accountability to make me sit down for at least ten minutes every day. But usually I like to do some different sort of breath work and short visualization stuff. You know, that's really helpful. Like visualization is a tool that I use both in my meditation practice when I'm trying to still the crazy, chaotic water sometimes that life presents us with and that, you know, visualization also like every day in my skiing practice when I'm trying to visualize my lines and stuff.
So I take time in the morning to kind of run through the ideal scenario that my life would look like that the run would look like. And sometimes it's three minutes. Sometimes it's ten minutes, sometimes it's forty five. But it's just whatever I can make time for.
OK, so you use the term line. Yeah. So what does that mean.
So a line basically refers to the run that you ski down the mountain. So what I do is it's called big mountain skiing. Other people that aren't as familiar, I think of it as extreme skiing, but we get dropped off in helicopters and it's up to us to choose the way down the mountain.
And I just want to stop everyone saying, I'm sorry to interrupt you because you're underplaying this. I just watched some videos. You just like casually said, yeah, we get dropped off in helicopters like it's no big deal. A helicopter takes you and puts you on top of really steep place where nobody's supposed to be like there aren't even yaks up there. You guys climb up, whatever mountain goes, nothing.
It's it's like the tip of a sort of like a it's the top of a mountain, but it's kind of like a ridge.
It's a running ridge. And this line I saw you skiing, they dump you out of a helicopter and you ski down and then like there's like a little avalanche following you and you're jumping off rocks.
It's crazy. I was worried for you.
I'm still here. Yes. Don't do it again. All I have to. It's my job.
I can't imagine how your parents feel watching this anyway. So you were saying a line is they drop you off the helicopter and then you kind of it's actually not a straight line. You're skiing down. You have to you can't it's not like a well groomed straight line course. You're skiing around obstacles.
Yeah, it's a pretty challenging art to master because what we do is we fly into like the basin of a mountain range or a search, and then all the athletes stand at the bottom and we look up at the face, right the mountain face and there's cliffs, there's little bridges. There's all these things that you kind of have to get an image in your head of how you want to navigate through the obstacles and how you want to make your unexciting, how you're going to manage what you just called the avalanche.
We call it sluff. It's loose moving snow. That isn't technically an avalanche, but it can sweep you off your feet if you cross under it.
So it's this whole navigational plan that you have to make in your head from the bottom. But then when you fly up to the top, you can get dropped off on top. A lot of times there's blind rollovers. You can't actually see the markers. And so it's kind of this art form of piecing together what you thought was that little cliff and the tip of that rock that should be really easy to identify and making sure, you know, you're 50 feet to the right of that and kind of doing that the whole way down.
It's yeah, it's exciting. Yeah.
That's one way to describe sighting. So I watched a video of you and I recommend everybody watch these videos because it's just to say somebody is a big mountain skier or an extreme skier, does it zero justice. You actually need to see it. And we'll put links in the show notes. But I was watching a video of you and you can see exactly what you just described.
You're standing there looking at the face of the mountain and you can tell you're very concentrated, you're taking it in and it sounds like internally you're visualizing how it would go.
And then I saw you put a bandanna over your whole face.
Was that part of the or were you just messing around? That's just me as well. It just maybe happens more often than the visualization, to be honest, but. So you're look, you've been doing this long enough, you've been doing this is you're pretty, pretty small and you're looking at them, so you're able to really take in what am I seeing here and is this feasible? But then I've also read that you get in the helicopter to go do the thing and sometimes you just referenced it.
Sometimes you see, oh, that what looks like a little cliff is actually something different. I don't know if there is such a thing as a little cliff, but anyway. And do you ever decide. Oh, no, no, I'm not doing this thing. Yeah, you do. Yeah.
I think that's also where meditation is really helped me because sometimes it's easy to let what you think you're capable of or what you think you can accomplish for that day get in the way of the reality of things. You know, maybe it's the conditions or maybe it's you're not firing on all cylinders or whatever and being able to back down actually is people ask you, like, what's your proudest moment? You know? And I would say it's the times when I've stepped away from stuff that I really wanted or knew I was capable of, but had to have the self-awareness to be like, this isn't the day for it.
And, you know, we learn the hard way, too. That's how you learn how to trust your intuition is when you don't follow it and things go wrong. And then you're like, oh, that's what that was trying to tell me.
It's possible meditation to save you from serious injury, if not worse. Yeah, yeah, probably. I mean, I who knows. I definitely still hear, thanks to a lot of tools and meditation is one of them.
So I want to really get pretty deep on the relationship between your practice and this little thing you do called big mountain skiing. Let me just go back to what you're saying before about visualization.
Just walk me through exactly how that would work and whether that's something that any of us could do if we're not. Brave enough to be skiing down the sides of mountains. Yeah. Oh, man visualisations, I think, is one of the most powerful tools that we have at you know, our minds are so powerful. And a lot of athletes can say that if you can't visualize doing something, we can't do it. And until we know that we can run through the whole thing in our head perfectly, we can't do it.
And that's kind of across the board with all athletes will confirm. And I would venture to say that's the same for all people. I recently just had to have a really difficult conversation with my dad that I had a lot of fear and anxiety about. And I caught myself kind of running through the scenario of how things could go wrong and just totally not using visualization the way that I usually do. And then instead I decided to run through visualization, imagining things, going the best possible way.
And what would that feel like? What would that smell like? What kind of body reactions would I get out of that? Like, what would his face look like when I bring these things up and he's not upset or he's happy for me or whatever, and just envisioning and running through the best possible case scenario, I think is so, so important. So I do it like, you know, I just did it with my dad. I do it in life and I do it every morning for sure before I'm going out.
And usually it's. Before you go skiing.
Before we go skiing. Yeah, well, the more you do it like anything, the easier it is, the quicker you can run through it. But essentially I like to take a couple of breaths, get centered, get a little still your mind or your heart isn't racing or whatever, and just really put yourself in that situation and imagine how is this going to feel? What's it going to look like? Like all your senses? What are the sounds I'm going to be hearing?
What are the smells I'm going to be having and really putting yourself there and then just imagine yourself running through that entire situation with all your senses involved. And for some reason, that sense component is really important and the body feeling component is really important. And yeah, I'll run through it over and over, like different possibilities might happen in the line. You know, if something happens here or, you know, a pocket of leaf snow pulls out, where's my island of safety to pull off to and just.
Yeah, running through all different possible scenarios, but really most importantly, focusing and running through the best one. It's so interesting. I mean, I can hear several benefits.
And there one is obviously you're mentally and physically more prepared for the run, but also in terms of a mental skill, the ability to imagine and visualize with such detailed not just I didn't know wasn't it's not just seeing how it's going to go. It's feeling, smelling, hearing all the senses. That requires a level of concentration and mental acuity that you've trained up over the years that I would imagine can serve you really well.
Yeah, totally. Just like anything. It's a skill. And some days it's easier than others. Some days I try and run through stuff and I just kind of encounter roadblocks and just like anything that's part of it. If you can't do it right away or whatever you're coming on have like totally normal and fine.
It is so interesting to think about what you said about how this can be used in other situations. I don't need to be skiing to do that. Need to be doing athletics, something athletic, a big conversation. She's going to say this. I'm going to say this. You know, she hears how she's going to react to this. Here's what it's going to look like in the room. Here's the look in her face when I say the thing.
So how did your conversation with your dad go?
We went, amazing. OK, yeah. So you say what it was about, or is it. Yeah, yeah. It was really cool, actually.
We'd been I just was living up in Alaska for a couple of years. I just moved back and back to Salt Lake City is where I live now, and that's also where my parents live. And we basically didn't hang out a lot this summer. I was on the road a bunch. My dad was like, you know, I feel like we haven't had time to be super close this summer, you know, and immediately as a daughter, sometimes when a parent says something in a certain way, you feel like guilt.
They're saying like, oh, I've I've been bad, I've done the wrong thing or whatever, you know, these these relational situations are. And so I had a lot of fear about maybe there is something you want to talk about. I am in the middle of buying a sailboat. And that was like a really big new thing that came about that I hadn't told him about. And I was just like, am I going to tell him about this crazy life decision that I'm about to make?
And and yeah, I did. And instead of, you know, him questioning me or questioning my motives, he was in total support, which I wasn't anticipating.
So was the conversation about the sailboat with the undertone, subtext being, hey, we weren't that close to this past summer or did you lead with the closeness?
We led with the closeness. OK, yeah. He didn't know about the sailboat. And honestly, I barely told anyone. And so this is like two weeks ago that this whole thing is really getting finalized. So I didn't tell anyone. And it was kind of one of those life decisions where everything in your intuition is telling you that this is the right decision, but it's so radical and crazy for your current life that you don't know possibly how it's going to fit the unknown.
You know, you don't know who is going to work in the future. So anyways, there was a new endeavor. I hadn't told him anything about it. And so he already felt like. We were distant and, you know, I started dating somebody new and I hadn't told them about this guy and it was kind of this whole situation where I was like, oh, man, it's really going to come out how much I've been sort of keeping him at bay and just feelings of our entire history, my childhood history.
And, you know, there was like feelings of resentment and just the classic hang ups that you have with kids and parents and all relationships. And it was really cool to dive deep and to be seen and accepted and and respected and to have kind of this really great back and forth dialogue where people didn't get all reactive and shut down. And, yeah, it went amazing. And it was so cool to to have that kind of tough conversation go like that.
And you think the same process of, you know, I'm running down the mountain here metaphorically, I can see where my line of sight getting out of the sluff, etc, etc., that thinking through all the angles, not just thinking through, feeling through this feeling in every possible sense, sense, double sense of sense.
Yeah. Yeah. You think that really prepares you for this. It might have gone differently.
Yeah. For sure. You know, and part of it is taking that time to just think through and feel through what might happen because you have a sense of presence and control over yourself and your emotions and your reaction. You know, he definitely said a couple of things that if I hadn't kind of sat down and got present thought about the situation, I probably would have just reacted and flown off the handle and got really defensive. And I didn't do that this time.
And I think, yeah, it was just due to my meditation practice for sure, the visualization, just all of it, I was able to respond in a different way.
Just total point of curiosity. Why is a sailboat that big of a deal? Because in Salt Lake City, there's really no place to put a sailboat and you're going to have to move to the coast or what? Yeah, why? What's the significance?
Well, you know, I'm pretty deep in it being a pro skier. And sometimes our limitations or what we perceive as the thing that we're capable of is we're so limited in our brains. Right. We sort of like construct this fence of like, OK, these are the possibilities that I can operate in. And to do something or to think of a possibility outside of that seems like a really far stretch for you. But to other people out there, like whatever, you can totally do that you can do whatever you what's your life like?
It's up to you, you know. But we have these, like self-imposed almost like mental governors on, you know. And so for me, in my mind, I'm super deep in being a pro skier. I'm involved with a lot of Red Bull in North Face, these sponsorships and these partnerships with these companies that I don't see how to mesh like my skiing persona and my career with what it's going to take to learn how to sail to do some of these projects, like with climate change documentaries or, you know, building this dream in this new life.
I don't see how the trajectories can be parallel. I see them as diverging. And so trying to be creative and think of how I can use sailing as a component to add into my world is where I find these limitations. And that's kind of the barriers that I'm currently trying to break through.
What about just generalized badass? I mean I mean, it doesn't seem like a hard sell to me. I'm looking at you. These listeners can't see you, but you have blonde hair. But much of his dyed electric blue, you've got a really cool hat on and feathers and leather and you look like you're like a better looking version of the Black Crowes or something like that.
So I feel like whatever whatever you do is going to be cool. So when your sponsors just be on board with that. Thank you.
I think they will. I know they will. I think this is anything in life when you have conviction and that confidence, you can kind of do anything that you want to put your mind to, you know, and it's like the self-imposed second guessing and the self doubt. That is what takes us out of it. Right. You know, like you have this image of me from my persona and from, you know, our short interaction. But I don't necessarily see myself in the same light.
You know, I don't think of myself as like, yeah, I'm a badass. I'm going to do whatever I want. I see myself and all my flaws and my fears and and, yeah, I just have those, like, invisible limitations. So thank you for that. And I also think that that's a really cool thing that you just gave me in that sometimes it's helpful to look to other people and especially like our friends and the people closest to us because they sort of are always able to see what we're capable of.
I want you touch on climate change. I want to get to that, but I want to stay in meditation for a second. So we talked about visualization. Let's talk more about the kind of mindfulness based meditation, Buddhist inflected meditation that we do on the app, your app, or that Sam does on his excellent Waking Up app. I'm not supposed to promote the competitors, but here we go. By the way, Sam is actually really close with our one of our main features, Joseph Goldstein.
And I know all of the teachers on the 10 percent happier app because I was friends with Sam for. Oh, no way. Yes. So Sam is a key figure in my life.
I get. So Sam and Joseph Goldstein were both at with Sam's wife and children, were at our house for dinner the other night.
So it was like a little family. Yeah, a Buddhist mafia just of you. Sam would not call himself a Buddhist. But anyway, that practice, the mindfulness Buddhist practice, which is often some variety of pay attention to the feeling of your breath coming in and going out when you get distracted, start again and again and again. That's a bit of a different practice than the visualization. And so I'm wondering I'd love to hear more about how that practice goes for you and what it does for you.
Yeah, I was thinking about that last night and kind of before I came in this morning. And it was to me, what it is, is I especially like when I'm on top of the mountain on the line. You're dealing with your body's stress response is right. This physiological response to adrenaline and dopamine and serotonin. And, you know, your hands are shaking, your legs are shaky, you know, blood shunting away from your extremities, like your body has this whole process of responding to stress because you're not supposed to be on top.
Yeah, you can have it before you take a test and your life's not in danger. Yes, that's true. That's an appropriate response to the stress. Response is entirely appropriate when you're on the top of a mountain.
Anyway, enough to do that for me is two things that, you know, it's when you're sitting on your mat or wherever on your bed, wherever you're meditating and your you have to keep coming back to like you get distracted. You have a thought. You come back to just the present moment or just being completely at peace. Right. And it's kind of this process of, you know, I always thought meditation was about to sit on a mat and don't think any thoughts for 20 minutes, which I don't know anyone that can do that is I always say that if that happens to you, you're either enlightened or dead or dead yet.
So, yeah, once I realized that that wasn't what it was about and it was more about a process of just returning to that calm state, you know, it's almost like returning to flow state. Then when I'm on top of mountains and I have all of these crazy things going on and there's maybe a couple of jellies in the air and there's radio chatter. And I'm trying to pay attention to, you know, what the camera crews are, how already or the other athletes, like when am I going to go?
Am I ready, like all these different things? And I'm really nervous, right. We have this, like, physiological thing that we are body that we have to learn how to work with having that practice of being able to just boom, return to center, boom, return to center, boom, return to center when all this craziness is going on is insanely helpful. And so if I just you know, our mind is a tool and if we practice, it helps us do what we wanted to do and it does more what we wanted to do.
So having it work for you instead of against you, you know. Meditating when I'm not up there helps it, so when I'm up there, it's super fast and a lot more effective. And it's basically I was talking about it earlier today, not it's not a process of cutting out all the things that are going on around you. It's a process of like finding the Zen moments in the crap again and again and again and I.
I wish that I was like a fraction as wise. At your age, because I was a complete idiot. That's so impressive for me to hear you talk about the mind as a tool and that you're working with this whole massive emotions. Most of us aren't aware that this. This action is taking place and therefore we're just yanked around by it, but you have this clear visibility into, OK, the blood's shunting away from my extremities. Oh, that's this ancient response we're wired for.
It's not unusual or inappropriate in this moment and even cooler. I can work with it to do what I want to do. Yeah, that's really amazing. Well, thanks. So I read this really cool thing you said.
I think it was a magazine. Somebody asked you about the similarities between skiing and meditating. Actually, before I get to the next question, let me ask you about that. What is the difference between skiing and meditating? And then I want to hear about the differences, the difference between skiing and meditating.
For me, skiing is very much a meditation because it's.
A time when I can completely focus on just what I'm doing in the moment, like when I'm skiing, I'm not trying to think about what I'm going to have for dinner or like the fight that I just had with whoever or whatever. And it's just that low state that I think meditation also can help tell us into. You know, obviously, you have things that are always pulling you away in all different directions during, you know, skiing and meditation.
But to me, they're similar and they. They just coexist on the same level you said here, when I'm skiing, it's not that kind of relaxed stillness. It's like the outside world is freeze framed around me. I'm moving to the world as if time has stopped and I'm still aware of what I'm doing. And I had that seemed like something out of a movie. Like Keanu Reeves moving through some scene where everything is frozen. Is that what I can imagine, that being true, that that that's what it's like?
Yeah, it's hard to describe. I think we've all had those moments where you're so in the zone that, yeah, it does seem like time operates on a different pace. Everything is sort of like you enter into this other reality. That's kind of hard to describe with the words we normally use to describe normal reality. But it is this sort of sense of where all your senses are totally heightened. And it's like you pick up the crispness of everything so much that and you're so aware of it that it's almost like it's still when you're going through it, because if you're not, you're going to get hurt.
George Mumford is this amazing meditation teacher, has worked with the Chicago Bulls and the L.A. Lakers, and he's been on this show and he teaches a course on 10 percent happier. Your app, which is way better than Sam's app.
And and he has a phrase that I wonder if it resonates with you.
He says meditation makes you flow or zone ready, doesn't necessarily guarantee when you get on the field of battle that you will be in it, but it makes it much more likely you'll be able to get into flow. That makes you.
Yeah, totally. Sometimes I feel like in our minds we have especially I find if I'm like under slept or hungry, it's almost like there's this just mental static. And I feel like what meditation does is it sort of like tunes, the dials. So there's just like less static. So when you want to tune into the frequency that you want to tune into or focus on anything you want to focus into, you don't have to cut through all this white noise.
And what impact would you say this kind of meditation? Mindfulness meditation, as distinct from visualization, has had on your life off the mountain. Well, hopefully I say less dumb stuff and say a lot more kind things. I think it's just helped me. Well, like you say, you know, it's helped me be happier. It's helped me just it reminds me of a story that I was thinking of before I came on this podcast. And this story is about this meteorite that I used to have.
It's a little it's a little rockiness iron superheavy. And I love rocks. I collect rocks. I ski with them in my pockets. And this is like my favorite rock. And it was a really interesting phenomena. Where is my favorite possession? And then, of course, naturally I would lose it and I'd be finding my world would be turned upside down and be super upset.
I'm like, oh, my favorite thing. The whole world is like gone. You know, I need to just like racking your brain where it was. I love, you know, we all have those times when you lose something and you can't quite let it go, just like in your head the whole time thinking about it. And this happened like six times where I'd lose it and freak out. And then I felt like I had to fully let it go.
Like every fiber of my being, I had to be like, it's lost. It's really lost this time. I'm really never gonna be able to find it. And then it would show back up. And it was like this weird little like boomerang rock that somehow knew it would come back to me when I had fully 100 percent let it go. And it was just this really interesting thought exercise. It started happening because I was like the meteorite was never actually lost all of these different times.
It was just my perception of the fact that it was lost that totally turned my world upside down.
And like how I perceived the reality to be wasn't actually not only the correct reality, but it was totally something that I was constructing for myself and rocking my world. And, you know, we all have those moments when something happens in your whole day's fun. And I was like, oh, gosh. And this little meteorite was like this little weird teacher that I had is like so funny.
And to me, what I realized was how powerful our reaction and our perception to what we perceive as the situation can be over, how we live our lives, how we live our days, how we feel, the interactions we have. And it was something about that little rock that started making me aware of I get to choose how I respond to literally everything, and I can't control everything that's going on in the world. I can control these situations. And the situations might not even be what I think to be.
You know, it's like when you send a text to somebody and they don't respond, you're like, oh, my God, they're mad at me. And you go off in your head, you're like, what did I do in your whole world upside down? When in reality maybe they never were. And so just meditation has helped me. Focus and hone in the skills to be able to let the dumb stuff go and let the worries go and be more accepting of my situation and also be able to respond to it in the way that I want.
You still get caught up? Oh, yeah.
But I think even over the course of five years, I'm getting way better at not letting it run the roost for as long as it used to. You know, it's like maybe I used to get spun out for a day and now maybe I'm spun out for like ten minutes or a half hour or whatever. And I definitely notice that when I'm taking better care of myself, you know, my mind and my body, that it's much easier for me to live in like a good state of homeostasis.
Much more of my conversation with Angel Collinson right after this. 10 percent happier is supported by better help online counseling. We're in extraordinary times, and if you're struggling with stress, anxiety or depression, you're not alone. Better Help offers online licensed professional counselors who are trained to listen and help simply fill out a questionnaire and get matched with a counselor in under 48 hours. Join more than a million people taking charge of their mental health with better help. Better help is an affordable option.
And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month with a discount code happier. Get started today at better help. Dotcom slash happier. That's better. H e l.p dotcom shapir. I was reading about you that you had a horrible experience of you had a boyfriend who did the same sport and he died, you were watching.
Yeah, yeah. Was like, it's funny when we have these things that happen to us in life and they're perceived of as really hard or horrible or tragic. And it's not that they aren't that they for sure are. But I think the greatest challenges are always where our greatest gifts come. It's always our greatest lessons come. And yeah, that experience of watching him take this fall that later, you know, he succumbed to from internal bleeding. He ended up passing away a couple of days later.
And you were watching Face of the man I watched in the basement. And then I was also there in the hospital when he passed away. And it was, yeah, the craziest experience. I've never had any, like, really close brush ups with death before.
And I would say that really started my journey of awakening or really being like, OK, how do I want to live in life? You know, we I think we all have those moments where it's like sort of the come to Jesus moment. We're like, all right, our time here is finite and we all kind of realize we're not invincible at some point. And it was, yeah, one of the hardest and saddest and most best and beautiful things that ever happened.
And it totally set me on the course to be the person that I am now.
Beautiful because of the realignment it provoked. Yeah, yeah. I mean, we always have that opportunity, you know, and in these hard situations of like, are you going to let it's important to be able to experience a gamut of emotions and grief and all of that, but to be able to take those silver linings and take the little golden nuggets of learning out and know what they are, you know, on the other side.
And you don't know it when you're in it usually, but interestingly did not get you to well, doesn't appear to have gotten you to rethink, you know, the whole skiing thing and the dangers they're in.
Well, it definitely you know, it made me question skiing a lot for sure. Yeah. And I think a question that gets asked a lot is like, you know, these things that you do or these things we do, you know, are they worth dying for? And I think that that's the wrong question. I think the more interesting question is, what do you live for? And like what makes you thrive? Like what makes you really, really 100 percent be stoked on your time here?
And when I explore that, I realize that skiing to me is such a fundamental part of my life, at least for now, that it's what I live for. And I think it's what a lot of people live for. It's why we choose to do this, you know, it's what makes us live.
What are the gender politics of what you do? It's definitely a male dominated field, but I think as with everything, I don't want to say the tides are turning, but I think we're finding a really beautiful balance. And I've been a product of that. All of my successes are largely due to my mentors, which were all men, you know, and they took me under their wing and they were super gracious and awesome and caring and kind and soft and just everything you could ever want to teach your mentor to be.
I hope to provide that to both the men and women that follow after me. But, yeah, we're seeing we're seeing more and more women kind of come into more important roles in films and stuff like that.
Something I hear a lot from. I think it's unisex, but I hear it personally. This is unscientific. But I hear it more from. The women in my life and my friends, my family members and people I mentor, this kind of self-doubt slash imposter syndrome. Has that been something you've wrestled with? Yeah, for sure.
So if I understand you correctly, you're saying you feel like you hear a little more from the women's side than from the men's side.
I mean, women have just yeah, we we think differently. We have different, you know, and just societally, the structure for how we're supposed to act and be and, you know, move through life is different. And I think that women have a lot of self-doubt and that that's one of the major things that holds us back. And it's really interesting, I think, when we see women in the world at large and you see another woman's success, I feel like there's two potentials that happen.
One is that women realize that, oh, well, a woman is capable that a woman can do that. Like in my career, I've seen women skiing change and it's been really cool to see women be like, oh, what? That's possible. OK, I can do that, you know? And that's one way to get over the self-doubt is to realize that it can be done. And, you know, we tend to limit ourselves on just thinking, oh, I can't do that.
But the other thing that can happen, and this is like the more negative thing, I think women are taught to be competitive with each other. And one woman success means another woman's failure. And instead of looking at it as when one woman does really well, it raises us all up, you know, like a rising tide lifts all ships instead of, oh, shoot, she just did so good. Nonmetallic, extra bad, you know, but that's how we're trained in society at large in a huge way is kind of from this scarcity mentality where like there's not enough spots for all of us if she gets it or if she does really well, then, you know, there's not enough room for me to shine or do great.
And that's totally false. It's so interesting because like with men, I mean, just speaking my own experience here, we're certainly we have the capacity to be venomously competitive, no question about that. And viciously competitive. But I don't think about it in gender terms. You know, it's like, oh, well, he's now that I see that a man can do this thing, you know, I don't think we fall into that line of thinking as much because of the way society's been structured, I would imagine.
Yeah, I think so.
And I think women are. We for some reason, I don't know if it's like a societal structure or just the way that we're wired, but yeah, we sort of have this governor of like, oh, well, I can't do that or that's not possible. Or and sometimes I think it's the way that we raise our our kids. Like, I grew up in a family where we were living at a ski resort. And then in the summers we would rent our apartment out and live and travel out of this van and do these two week backpacking trips.
And they were really like long backpacking trips. My parents repeated one of them like a couple summers ago, and they're like, I can't believe we did that when you guys were eight.
That was insane. And it was just this process of it wasn't like, oh, you don't have to do that because you're a girl or like it wasn't dumbing anything down for me, you know, because I was a girl, it was just like we were a family doing the things. And because my parents raised me that way. Now, when I move into situations, I don't think I don't really want to see that line, you know, because, like, the boys could do that.
But I think maybe I should go a little bit lower, like I've been able to kind of bust through that thinking. And it's still there. Sometimes it's still for sure present. But I think that mentality of raising your kids where you're not dumbing anything down, you're not making exceptions because they're girls. I think we kind of think we always have to do that and we don't. Women are capable of so much more than we think they are.
Yes, I think the role of parents in particular, in some ways, maybe maybe dads, too, and in parenting is incredibly important. I have friends who have daughters who I've heard talk about this.
I have a son who. It doesn't seem to lack confidence, but one of the videos I saw of you, you talk about self-doubt and as a blocker and we've just talked about it a little. And I wonder if, Ken, meditation can be useful there in that it would allow you to see the self-doubt come up and to see. Well, that's just that's just a story. Totally.
Yeah. I was listening to your podcast with Briney Brown and her line.
You know, the story I'm telling myself is that all the time. That's so good. She's amazing. But, yeah, totally recognizing these these things that come up in meditation as just stories that you're telling yourself and having, I think the. The hard part, it's not actually recognizing the self-doubt, it's knowing that you're capable and worthy beyond that, you know, it's like a lot of time self-doubt comes up because of like a deeper fear or worry that, you know, I'm not good enough, I'm not not that good at stuff or I'm not loveable enough or I'm kind of a failure at this or, you know, whatever those stories are and having the kindness towards yourself to like one of my favorite lines is just like begin again, like every day, begin again.
And because sometimes I have a great day and I'm skiing well or whatever in life is going well, then maybe I'll make a big mistake or a faux pas or whatever. And just being able to be like at any moment, you can just start over. Any day you can start over and having that kindness and that softness with yourself when you're trying to work through like some of your deep hang ups, that's where the rubber meets the road. And meditation helps you cultivate those tools of how to walk that path forward.
But it's not easy.
How does this mindset and practice impact you when you get injured? It's huge. I think anyone that has ever had an injury or surgery or something where you've had to take time off of work, your normal activities, it it impacts your identity in an unexpected way.
It's not just because you can't do the things that you want to do anymore, maybe hang out with people you want to hang out with. For some reason, it really makes you question who you are in a deeper way.
And there's this process of having to really, like, deal with an identity crisis that an injury brings up.
And having those tools is like so hugely helpful. I just had a second. I've only had two injuries really in my whole life. And I'm just coming back from my second one. And this time it's been so much easier.
And I totally think it's because of these tools, the rut of if I can't see who I am, I wasn't as deep. Mm hmm.
Yeah. I think also we really identify in Western society with, like, the things that we do, especially for work, you know, or our activities, our hobbies. And, you know, that's like our classic question. When you go somewhere and they're like, oh, so what do you do? You know? And usually if you respond to the job and I think that it's so funny that that's like how we identify ourselves. And it's not like, what do you love or what feels your way?
Do you see passionate about like those are the questions we ask, are those on our identities? And so, you know, being able to be like, OK, well, who am I? Something this is maybe a weird thought exercise, but it's like if I were to be severely burned or paralyzed or in this accident that stripped away everything that I know myself to do, like who would I be, you know, and how would I want people to see me?
How do I want to be in the world? And who is that person? And I do that thought exercise a lot.
What do you come up with? Well, it's it's ever changing. And I hope to be a person that's really caring and warm. You know what? I hope to be a person that people know. They can come to me with the things that are ailing them or bothering them and just know that I will see them and hear them and offer like deep, deep friendship, you know? And for me, that's really important.
It has nothing to do with skiing. I know. Right? Right, exactly.
That's the point.
I think when people ask you what you do definitely should revert back to the generalized bad.
It'll work. And if it doesn't work, don't blame me. What else did I want to ask you?
Oh yeah. Climate. So. Looking at your Instagram feed, you talk about this a lot and it's interesting, you also struggle with self-doubt here at times, wondering if you're on a plane. Does that make you a hypocrite, et cetera, et cetera?
I'd love to hear more about all of that, why you're so passionate about this issue and what's your analysis of why and how the hang ups come up in this sphere to.
Well, I guess to start out to address the first part of your question with, you know, climate change and how I got into it, Mariah Carey's, it's a pretty basic story of growing up in the mountains, growing up at a ski resort. Over the course of my life, I've seen the winters change. And, you know, I've seen the fires in the West get really bad. I've seen the droughts and I spend a lot of time outside and I spend a lot of time.
Yeah, like living out of a van and backpacking in the mountainsides. Just sort of this. Not so much anymore. No, but when I. Yeah, until I was like 16. Yeah. We wouldn't, we wouldn't have an apartment all summer from the last day of school to the first day of school we were in the mountains.
What did your folks do?
My dad was a ski patroller and my mom taught a one room schoolhouse in the winter. Seven different kids, seven different curriculums is she's they're both amazing. Yes. And yeah. So basically a lifestyle around how to make it work living in the mountains. And when you have when you're in these environments or situations, I'm sure maybe people have it with cities or different places, but I have it with the natural environment and you can feel the changes and you can see the changes.
And also seeing photos from when my parents are growing up in the types of they used to have. And then also now when I'm flying in Alaska and I spend a lot of time around glaciers and seeing the photos of like 15 years ago, this is where the glacier was. And here it is now. It's it's really sobering. And I always cared about the environment. I actually wanted to go into school for environmental policy. And I ended up dropping out of school to be a friskier and kind of moving more towards doing all the things that I learned why we shouldn't do, like, you know, getting a snowmobile and a truck and flying around in helicopters and leading this highly consumptive travel rich life.
And I didn't wasn't necessarily passionate about climate change in school. I just knew that we need some better policies enacted in order for us to not trash the home that we live on. And climate change found me because of my professional skiing career pretty naturally with I have an authentic voice to speak to it at large. And so I've worked with this organization called Citizens Climate Lobby and another organization called Protect Our Winters and kind of gotten into some advocacy with that and been able to, you know, lobby in Capitol Hill and just have different and cool conversations with our policymakers.
Because you're not coming at him as another environmental lobbyist you're coming out of is like this pro athlete who has cool videos that you're like, well, this is the stuff that we're really seeing, the people that have been doing it for 50 years. Like, it's sobering, to say the least. So that's sort of why I care. That's how I got into the climate change stuff.
And the second part of your question so interesting for me, we were talking about self doubt and just look at your Instagram feed that the passion for the cause comes through and so do sometimes yourself. Hang ups. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I think I would venture I feel like there's probably very, very few people out there who don't have self-doubt around. I should be doing more or what can I be doing more, especially regarding climate change and being sustainable and having a lower carbon footprint?
Well, I would also say further than that. I don't know many people who. Don't have self-doubt, full stop. Yeah, although interestingly, I was I was having this complete digression, sir, but I was having I'm really interested in the issue of impostor syndrome because it's something my wife has contended with.
My wife is like incredibly highly trained academic physician and yet has really struggled with this on paper. Makes no sense. And so it's something that's on my mind quite a bit. And I was having lunch with two guys I know my age feel like late 40s, early 50s guys, successful guys. And I told them something about, you know, my back is working on this thing about maybe a book or something about imposter syndrome. And one of the guys says, you know, I have imposter syndrome, too, like anything I'm doing that's south of King of the World.
I feel like Foster that I don't know. I mean, I have it. Maybe we all just have it. We are talking about it.
No, no. He's saying if I'm not king of the world, if I'm doing anything that's less than that, I'm an imposter. In other words, he has the opposite of impossible. Oh, yes.
He thinks he's so great that if he's not, everybody isn't running around doing what he says then feels like an imposter.
So that's not everybody has got some people do not. Yes. All right.
But I think most people do. And I think my friend was kidding. So I'm not picking on you for having self-doubt. So I just wanted to be clear about that and for sure, self doubt around any major cause. I, too, have in the face of climate change, it's hard to grok the thing. It's so big. Yeah. That yeah, I think we all struggle with what can we do.
Yeah. I mean that's like the ultimate question right now. Right. If we had the great answer then we probably wouldn't be in this mess now. So I guess yeah. On social media it's really world. We're living in a crazy time right now with technology and social media and the rapid spread of information. And for me, it's been really important to just try and live my process as honestly and vulnerably as possible through my social media accounts, because, man, even like being a kid growing up nowadays, I can't imagine you're trying to figure out who you are.
And now you have, you know, all of this stuff in your Instagram feed of everyone that's, you know, posting about their best life and it's not their real life. And, you know, the best angle is the best thing that happened. And it's just like kind of all surface and it's all a facade. And so what I try and do is post about my real process. And, yeah, I have a lot of self-doubt, especially around how do I care about the environment and live my life at the same time and do the ends of being an advocate, being able to lobby with these politicians on Capitol Hill, which requires usually flying or whatever, like do the ends justify the means?
You know, I wouldn't have this platform and this voice and this career if it wasn't for helicopters and snowmobiles and ski lifts and all this travel. Right. So it's built this career that I have now and now it's like, OK, am I supposed to just totally try and walk away from those things or do I keep living them and just try and taper it down?
It's like, what does that look like? You know, and we're all grappling with our own issue of the same thing. You know, it's like in order for any material to get to you, whether it's your metal coffee cup or whatever you like, it all requires fossil fuels, like we're locked into a fossil fuel based society.
And I think having self-doubt and feeling like a hypocrite because you want to care but you feel like you're not doing enough is like a really common thing that I encounter, talking to people and trying to normalize it and move past that self-doubt part in the shaming part and not using energy towards second guessing yourself or criticizing other people, but having the positive accountability and like offering solutions, you know, being like, yeah, I struggle with that, too. And here's some things that I found that are working pretty great, you know, and having more of this, like, collaborative approach instead of like the finger pointing.
And so-and-so is doing that. But on the back side, they're doing that or whatever, like it's important to try and, you know, live as to walk the walk as much as you can, but not waste all this frivolous energy like bickering on forums or whatever, but like, let's start putting our heads together like we don't have time to bicker on the same side anymore.
Guys, you know, I have so many thoughts about that. I don't know if any of them don't know if I'm going to be able to hone it into a question. But I'll say a bunch of things and see if any of it lands for you. Yeah, but, you know, I think about this, too. I mean, I. There's been debate in the drama teacher community, the meditation teacher community, some teachers will not teach anywhere if it requires getting on a plane and others are of the view.
Well, the planes are going to be flying anyway, so my getting on doesn't make the problem worse. And I can see that from both sides. Well, I think about my I stopped eating animal products a couple of years ago or almost two years ago, and I don't think that's going to change everything.
I do think maybe if, you know, a huge percentage of the planet stopped eating cheeseburgers, it would because cheeseburgers or what or causing deforestation was a big driver of deforestation. But, you know, my friend Jay Michaelson, who is also a Buddhist teacher, wrote a we have a 10 percent happier blog and more email newsletter. And he he wrote something a while ago and he said that the debate about. You know, what can I do in some way misses the point that it's actually really about huge structural change that needs to happen.
And it's almost like the thing you can do is vote for candidates who take it seriously. Mm hmm. And then the final thing I'll say is that and I've referenced this before, I think on the show, but Jonathan Franzen is this amazing writer. He wrote a novel called The Corrections, maybe 15, 20 years ago. This group is just like a comic book. And he wrote a piece in The New Yorker recently saying, actually, it's worse than they're telling us how bad things are going to happen and we can't really avoid it.
I don't know if he's right about that, but his thesis was it's worse than they're telling us. And the way to do something about it is to get involved in your local community and be a good citizen and volunteer, because that's what we're going to need when the crap hits the fan. Interesting.
But is any of that resonate? Yeah, all of it. I mean, all of it. I bet that resonates with everybody listening. I think that this is like the modern paradigm of how we grapple with living this society and not pummeling towards a rising sea and burning forests and all of that. So one of the organizations that I work with, Citizens Climate Lobby, has helped me a lot with viewing. And they're also amazing. Basically, they're introducing they've introduced a piece of legislature that it's a carbon fee and dividend program.
Basically, it puts a price on carbon. And it's like a market driven approach to starting to have our economy shift away from fossil fuels and more towards renewables. It's anyone listening. I really encourage you to check it out, because I think putting a price on carbon is one of the only ways forward. And these guys are doing a great job and they have local chapters that you can get involved with. What they helped me with was figuring out what your lever is.
I like the community part that you said just for when, you know, stuff goes down at large that you have a role that you play in your community and also figuring out what your leverage is for climate change. And are you well connected, you know, via social media or do you work with certain companies that could instigate change, but figuring out what your leverage is and how to, like, push that and move that is really important, you know, because for a lot of us, it's like, yeah, electing the right people, also calling in to Congress and letting them know this is an issue you care about.
Every time I've gone there, all the congresspeople say we don't hear enough from people that, you know, they're really concerned about climate change. So that's every time it's pretty sobering. So even just every once in a while, taking a two minute phone call and just being like, hey, that's my name, this is where I live. I'm concerned about climate change and I'd really appreciate. But whatever it is, it can be super easy and quick.
That's a really great one.
And voting with your dollars and supporting companies, because really, like you said, it's a huge structural shift that needs to happen. And money speaks and companies are the ones that are really, you know, that can move the needle, especially with politics, as we all know. So working with whatever companies you can in whatever way you can is another great way.
In closing, two questions. One is, is there something that I should have asked? But I didn't some like topic you were excited to talk about and I failed to bring us there.
I don't think so. I think so. All right, send me an angry email if you think of something. Oh, I didn't, Harris. And then finally, just for people who want to learn more about you. Where can we do that on the Internet? Can you kind of do a little self promotion?
Yeah, well, I think probably the most interesting thing for people to check out is just my Instagram page at Angel Collinson. And I think, you know, just like a Google search of my name and just the videos that pop up, that would give anyone a pretty good idea of like who I am and what I do. There's a lot of random stuff out there.
Yeah, you're going to worry about her when you see I'm just telling you crazy. It's crazy.
It was really fun to sit and chat with you. Thanks again to Josh for making this happen.
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. This is so enjoyable. Big thanks to Angel, that was a that was a fun conversation. Before we go, I do have a little announcement, given that we've been working incredibly hard since the beginning of the pandemic to create more content than we used to and given our desire to continue making a ton of useful and meaningful content for all of you, we are expanding our team.
And so we've got some open positions on the podcast team at 10 percent happier. The first is a producer role on this show, the one you're listening to.
The job would be to work with me and the rest of the team that produces this show. So if you have three or more years of podcasting experience and an interest in meditation, you should apply. And if you know somebody who fits the bill, they should apply. We're also working on some new podcasts under the 10 percent happier banner.
We'll have some more announcements in that vein soon.
But in the meanwhile, we're hiring a show development producer to support to the as the job title implies, the development of these new shows. So if either of these positions align with your interests and aspirations and qualifications, go to 10 percent dot com jobs to learn more. And if you know somebody who would be good for either of these positions, send them the link.
10 percent dotcoms lost jobs. That's 10 percent dotcom jobs. And having said all of that, big thanks to everybody who listens and as always, a big thanks to the team, these people work incredibly hard on on this show. Samuel Johns is our senior producer. Marisa Schneiderman is our producer. Our sound designers are Matt Boynton. And on Nashik from Ultraviolet Audio, Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We drive a lot of wisdom from our colleagues such as Jim Matoba, Ben Rubin, Liz Levin, and, of course, a big thank you and salute to my ABC News colleagues Brian Kessler and Josh Cohen.
We'll see you all on Wednesday for a conversation with the great Sharon Salzberg.