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From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. To mark the one year anniversary of that week, that fateful week in March of twenty twenty one, covid fundamentally altered our lives. We are launching a special two part series today. We're going to be talking about anxiety, which has been spiking for obvious reasons during the pandemic. My guest is Dr. Jan Brewer, a psychiatrist and deep darma practitioner who argues that anxiety is a habit, one that you can unwind.


And then coming up on Monday, we're going to talk to Nicholas Christakis, who's not only a doctor himself, but also the head of the Human Nature Lab at Yale. And we're to talk to him about when the pandemic will end. He's got a pretty detailed vision in his mind about how things are going to play out from here. And we're going to talk about what this ordeal has revealed about our species. But today, as mentioned, it's anxiety, which at Bruer, some of you may know just from the 10 percent happier app where he teaches in mindful eating course, he's also been on this show several times.


He is the director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University. He's got a number of apps that use mindfulness to treat addiction, including Eat Right Now, which is all about mindful, eating, craving to quit, which aims to help people get off of nicotine and unwinding anxiety. He also has a brand new book, which is excellent, and I highly recommend it called Unwinding Anxiety. In this interview, we talk about how exactly mindfulness can be harnessed to deal with anxiety.


I ask him what is anxiety anyway and how do we view it as a habit? And we publicly debate something that we've been privately discussing for a while now, the question of whether there is any level of stress or anxiety that is actually healthy.


One more thing before we get to the show. We are looking for a podcast marketer. If you love this show, if you love marketing and building relationships, we would love to have you on this team to help grow the 10 percent happier podcast and our future shows. We hope to be launching a bunch of shows this year, as a matter of fact. So if this sounds interesting, please apply at 10 percent dotcoms careers. OK, here we go now with Dr.


Judd Brewer. So we're coming up on a year since everybody sort of locked down Tom Hanks got covered, the NBA canceled their games. I remember that night both those things happened and life changed.


What are you seeing as you look at your patience, as you look at the world?


What are you seeing in terms of impact on our mental health? Well, I'm seeing an emerging epidemic, possibly pandemic of anxiety, where there's a lot of research now showing, for example, between 12, 19 and 20 that anxiety rates tripled. So anxiety is going up. A lot of uncertainty that's continued. It hasn't just been this thing. And then we figured it out. It's been pretty ongoing, just constant hits of uncertainty that have just kept stoking people's fears and their anxiety.


The other thing that we're seeing is around the intensity mechanisms that people are employing that aren't actually healthy. So drinking has gone up a whole lot. The quarantine 15, all of these things where people are on social media a lot more and getting addicted even more to social media because they're going to social media for the news as compared to looking at news sources. And then they're catching all the social contagion around outrage and fear and uncertainty and all of that.


So that's what I've seen, unfortunately, is a large increase and a kind of a solidification of anxiety through these unhelpful habits, because they just drive anxiety more. They don't actually uproot the root cause. So much pain out there before we go much further here, I think it might make sense to ask a foundational question. This might be a little obvious, but I think it's worth asking nonetheless. How do you define anxiety?


This dictionary definition of feeling, of nervousness or worry or unease about something in the future or something with an uncertain outcome is what the dictionary puts together. And I think that works generally well. But I think it also kind of ties two pieces together that are worth teasing apart, which is this feeling, the physical feeling that we have, but also the worry itself. So worry can actually be a noun and a verb. And I think those two importantly are separable and we can dove into the details of why that's important.


At some point, it has to do with how habit loops even get set up around anxiety and worry. But I think it's important to differentiate that worry can be both a feeling, but it can also be a mental behavior.


So there's my thinking process. Oh, man, I don't know if I'm going to be able to pay rent next month or I'm behind on my work, and then there's the physical manifestations of those thoughts.




And the disambiguation is important. Why? Well, the feelings of anxiety are just feelings, right? So there are physical sensations that are often associated with thoughts, but the worry itself is something that can actually drive more worry. So just to give a little background on how I came to understand this when I was struggling with helping my clinic patients with anxiety, so, for example, medications, the gold standard medications for anxiety treatments. There's this term called number needed to treat, meaning how many people you have to treat before one person shows a significant benefit or a significant reduction in symptoms for medications.


That number is five point one five, meaning you have to treat five people before one person shows significant reduction in symptoms. So imagine me as a psychiatrist playing the lottery. You know, 20 percent of my patients showing significant improvement. So the medication paradigms been around for a long time. And that's how I learned psychiatrist treat them with a medication. And I was really struggling with helping my patients with anxiety, because if you look at the best cognitive therapies like CBT, the hit rate there is about 50 percent.


And that's just in who will respond to treatment.


So I started approaching this through a different lens where serendipitously somebody asked somebody that was using our right now at this eating mindfulness program was saying, hey, I'm noticing that anxiety is triggering eating for me. Can you make an anxiety? And said, well, I'm a psychiatrist, but I mostly just use medications. But as a researcher, I started looking back at the literature and it turns out back in the nineteen eighties when folks were heralding the Prozac miracle or whatever the SSRI were developed, this guy, Thomas Berkovic, was studying anxiety and in particular he zoomed in on worry.


And what he found was that worry could be negatively reinforced, meaning that worry could actually drive anxiety. Habit Loop's and I never thought about that before to look at anxiety and worry, in particular those two together as a habit as compared to just a feeling that I need to give people medications for. And just to articulate that a little bit and we've talked about habit before on your show, so I'll just do this really quickly. Habits are formed with just three elements a trigger behavior and a result.


It's this evolutionary process that helps us remember where food is and avoid danger. So if you think of anxiety or some other negative emotion as being a trigger, worry can be that mental behavior that results in two things.


So Berkovic and others have talked about how worry either distracts us from the more unpleasant feeling of fear or anxiety or and it could be both that it gives us a feeling of control, because even if worrying doesn't fix something, it at least we feel like we're doing something by worrying.


I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about.


This this is so interesting because you're describing everybody else on the planet but me.


So let me just see if I can play this out and how this would work. Just in my own mind, I'm about to move. And the thought of moving strikes fear into I can get a tightness in my chest. That can be the trigger. The behavior is I start, you know, sort of obsessive mentation around all the logistics of the move, everything that can go wrong, et cetera, et cetera. And the reward is I feel like, all right, this is horrifying, but at least I'm on top of it because my worrying will make sure that nothing goes wrong.


Yes, absolutely.


So you are the one that have thought about the possibility that you're moving company could suddenly go bankrupt the day before your move.


But are you telling me that my worrying is useless? Well, let me phrase it this way. I haven't found any evidence to suggest that worrying is actually helpful.


So, for example, worry can actually drive more anxiety because we now really think of all these things that we hadn't thought about, like, oh, no, what if my roofing company goes bankrupt or what if there's a blizzard on the day of my move or or whatever? So that can actually just perpetuate anxiety. And what that can also do is it kind of makes the thinking part of our brains go offline. So this is probably helpful for anybody listening here.


So this old part of our brain, the fear based learning. Right. Negative reinforcement is actually that survival mechanism. We see the sabertooth tiger, we run away, we survive. Right. That's helpful. So it's not that fear isn't helpful, but then on top of that got layered this prefrontal cortex, this newer part of the brain and that's in.


Involved in thinking and planning, so of course, thinking and planning is helpful for your move, right? You've got to plan ahead. Yet what that needs is it needs precedent and it needs accurate information. So you can say, well, what happened the last time I move?


What can I learn from that? Or when other people move, can extrapolate from that?


And what accurate information do I have? Like with the weather, it's going to be a blizzard on that day. All that when there's a lot of uncertainty, fear plus uncertainty leads to anxiety. And that anxiety makes the thinking and planning part of the brain go offline.


So we can't actually utilize the thinking and planning. So I would postulate that worrying not only is not helpful, but it actually makes things worse because we can't think in plan.


We think that we're doing the right thing because we're gaming everything out, but in fact, we're driving ourselves into a hole where actually the quality of our thinking is going down because we're activating the reptilian folds of the brain, the amygdala, the stress and fear center of the brain. And that actually just shuts down the more advanced parts of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.


Yes, basically.


So if fear is not useless, in other words, fear can have its uses. It's when we get into the obsessive thinking that's triggered by the fear that that's where we need to watch out. Absolutely.


And that's why I was saying it's helpful to differentiate those physical feelings from the thinking piece, because the physical sensations, they tend to be just they are a lot of my patients, they wake up in the morning and the first thing they do is they check in with themselves and they're like, yep, I'm anxious, you know, whereas that anxiety can then lead them to start worrying about why they're anxious, which then perpetuates them being anxious and wired all day.


OK, so that's interesting.


Let me just take hesitating a little bit just because I don't want to be too selfish about this, but here we go.


I am writing a book. Unlike you, I cannot sneeze out a book very quickly. You have this incredible ability to write very fast and very well at the same time. It takes me five years to write anything that's like decent and I shouldn't say just decent. I should say having a shot at being decent. And that period for me is quite difficult. And I do find that I actually kind of walk around with a tightness in my chest quite frequently, even right now as I'm talking to you.


But there's nothing I'm anxious about. I'm enjoying talking to you. There's nothing I'm acutely concerned about.


So I should just be mindful of the feeling and try not to let it throw me into a whole set of useless rumination around why am I the anxious guy, et cetera, et cetera. Well, I think there are two pieces there. So the short answer is yes, and the try not to be a challenge. So here approaching it from just kind of being able to see these things clearly, being able to see these habit loops, to see where there is if there is a habitual component there.


Right. Is there worrying there that's even running in the background sometimes that can be so pervasive that it's like constantly in our working memory because it's just what we do. I worry. I worry, I worry. And that can then just be constantly feeding that feeling of tightness in your chest that you're talking about. So I think being able to see that clearly is very helpful.


Maybe I can give a concrete example, one of my patients and actually read about him in my book, because it was a pretty interesting case where this gentleman was referred to me for anxiety and he walks in my door and I check. He looks anxious, you know, so I didn't just throw some meds that have been sent out the door. I asked him to describe what his anxiety was like, but it was very much a black box for him.


So I said, well, and he also had panic symptoms.


So I said, describe the panic. And he said, when I'm driving on the highway, I feel like I'm in a speeding bullet. It was so bad that I started avoiding driving on the highway and then that would help alleviate those thoughts because he didn't he wasn't driving on the highway anymore. Yet he was so anxious that even driving on the local roads to get to my office made him pretty anxious. So what we did in probably in the first five minutes of his visit, I just pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and I just wrote down Trigger Behavior Result.


And I said, OK, let me see if I've got this straight. Your trigger is these thoughts, your behaviors to avoid driving. And then the result is that you can avoid those anxious thoughts. And he had this aha look in his eye as if he had never seen understood this before. It's kind of like if we don't understand how our minds work, how can we possibly work with them. So that example, going back to your point, I would say the first step is to really before jumping in and saying, I'm going to do something about this, which can often come in the form of I'm going to fix this even consciously or subconsciously.


I'm not saying that's the case for you, but for a lot of my patients, it's like, oh, here's the anxiety. I need to do something to fix it. And so it's the first step is really just being able to map these pieces out to see where there's a component that can be fed by worrying and then to be able to move into aspects of experience where we can start to bring in basically awareness to see and feel our thoughts, feel our emotions on our body sensations, and then that can help pull that fuel from the fire so that we're not constantly stoking the fire of anxiety.


Does that make sense? It does, but I want to get way more granular on it. So let's just take your patients who say they wake up in the morning and because they're a patient of yours, they have learned to sort of check in with themselves and they notice, oh, yeah, I've got feelings of anxiety in my body. This is not an uncommon feeling for me.


So what's the move them? So the first move for them is to check in to see if those feelings of anxiety are driving them into worry. So, for example, people have generalized anxiety disorder in this gentleman that I just mentioned, he met all the criteria for both panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. OK, so his poster child for anxiety. So the first step there is to just see are these feelings driving the thoughts that are then driving back and feeding the feelings.


Can I map this out and then for them to check throughout the day to map it out, to see what else it is driving. So, for example, with this gentleman, I sent him home. I gave him our own running his idea up and said, just go map out your habit loops. And I failed to mention that this gentleman was one hundred and eighty pounds overweight. So he had hypertension. He had a fatty liver, he had obstructive sleep apnea.


His body was not doing well. He came back two weeks later and the first thing he said to me was he actually looked better already. But the first thing he said to me was, oh, doc, I lost 14 pounds. And I looked at him kind of quizzically because we hadn't even talked about weight loss at that point. He said, it's mapping out my anxiety habit. And I realized that anxiety was driving me to eat. And I thought that that was helpful, but it didn't actually help me at all.


So I stopped doing that. And he went on to lose over one hundred pounds. He's described as effortlessly because he just became less excited to do that. The reason I mention that is that anxiety can drive a whole lot of other things that then feed back because he was worried about his health and he could actually start to get a handle on his health, which then decreased his health anxiety, which then decreased his general anxiety.


So is the end state here for people who live with anxiety to it's not that you're never going to feel the throbbing in your chest or whatever physical manifestations there are of fear.


It's that you're going to learn not to let it drive you into unconstructive behaviors.


Yes, absolutely. And I think there's a way that we can actually tap into our brains to do that. And that's what I wrote a lot of the book about. But that's the end game is to I think of it as it's not about not having thoughts or emotions or sensations. It's about changing our relationship to them.


And often in the process, if we change our relationship to our emotions, we can see where we're feeding them. We can stop feeding them. And at the same time, when they do show up, we don't resist them because that resistance is part of the feeding. What we resist persists. And that's absolutely true.


So those are two elements that were complimentary, so I can sit here having this conversation with you and I may notice, yes, there's a residual tightness in my chest because I the last thing I did before I.


Came into this interview, was spend a bunch of time working on my book, or I may even just notice the tightness in my chest while I'm working on my book, but I can be cool with that, aware of it not making a big deal out of it and checking whether it's driving me into sort of obsessive thought. But that doesn't mean I have to let it push me into thinking about why am I so anxious?


I'm never going to get better, et cetera, et cetera. Absolutely. And just to give you an in the moment example of that, that last sentence that I just said, those two can work complementary. My brain started saying, well, that's not grammatically correct. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


So in this moment, I could be here sitting thinking, oh, man, I'm totally bombing it on this great podcast. Or I could be like, oh yeah, that was not grammatically correct, but let it go and then we move on with a more interesting conversation.


So absolutely.


I didn't notice it. Just just for the record, you mentioned that in the book you talk a lot about tapping into the brain's natural resources in order to help us with this. And I want to get to that. But just let me ask another sort of thirty thousand feet question.


How do we know whether we qualify as having some sort of clinical level of anxiety or whether we have garden variety anxiety? How do you traunch these things, you as a professional? There's one of the tools that's used most commonly clinically, and we use this in our research studies, as well as called the GADS seven Generalized Anxiety Disorder seven, which is surprise seven questions.


And it can give a marker of severity, but it can also help diagnose. It's not perfect for diagnosis, but we can use it to clinically track people's level of anxiety. And there's below five is minimal. Anxiety of five to 10 is mild, 10 to 15 is moderate and above 15 is. Boy, you're really anxious.


I think officially it's severe. So we can use questionnaires and that tends to be the gold standard right now in psychiatry and psychological research around anxiety because we don't have physical markers of anxiety. Certainly there can be surrogates, but they're not specific enough for any one individual. I hope everybody here listening.


If they feel like they need one, they should get a therapist, a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, whatever you think is right for you. But if I'm listening to this and I'm not working with a mental health professional, how do I gauge whether my anxiety is just a natural response to the fact that we're living in a pandemic and any of the other sort of disturbing current events? Or whether I actually it's disrupting my ability to function fully.




So here it's pretty subjective. And a lot of the psychiatric the DSM for the psychiatrist Bible, there's often this caveat at the end of you go through these checklist of symptoms and then it says and must be causing some disturbance in life. Basically we can have a bunch of these symptoms and it might not be causing us any problem at all. And so I think that's a critical aspect is to ask ourselves, oh, I met this checklist, blah, blah, blah, but how am I actually dealing with this?


Is this causing a disturbance? And I think this really highlights the importance of looking at the relationship with our thoughts and emotions rather than just looking at them objectively and saying, oh, yeah, that's a problem. So, for example, I know you've played a lot with, like, not eating sugar, this or that. It's not that sugar is a problem, but it's how we relate to sugar. And that's very individual. Right. So sugar is a basic building block.


It gives good calories and in certain ways, when it's delivered through non processed foods can be very nutritive in that sense.


So it's really looking at these things and how we relate to them. I think that's really critical.


I would love to get you to say more about the methods you lay out in your new book, Unwinding Anxiety for how we can work with our fear no matter where we are on the spectrum from my term, not yours, garden variety to all the way up to the spectrum of generalized anxiety disorder.


So the first step we've touched on a little bit, which is just mapping out these habit loops. Like I talked, you use the example of my patient and anybody can do this. They can pull out a piece of paper, they can write down trigger behavior result, or they can even bring a piece of paper with them or take it on their phone or whatever and just map out any anxiety or worry related habit loops. That's the first step. Pretty straightforward, something that anybody can learn in five minutes or 30 seconds, even as I did with my patient.


That's actually the first part of the book, is helping people not only see how anxiety and worry can be mental behaviors and how to map out those habit lives, but also how they can apply those to other habits as well. Because why not? And there are a lot of other habits related to anxiety, like the quarantine 15. It's the drinking that's gone up tremendously in the last year. It's that Netflix has gone off the charts because everybody's distracting themselves with Netflix so we can map out all these other related habits as well.


The second step is really my favorite part, but it's favorite from a research perspective, because this is so cool how the brain works. OK, so of course, as I mentioned, I've been approaching anxiety from a lens of habits like how can it be driven habitually through worrisome mental behavior?


So this goes back to some of the research that my lab has done around reward value with other behaviors. So, for example, there's this formula from the nineteen seventies called the Rescorla Wagner model, where we tend to hold a certain reward value of a certain behavior in mind, and it gets stored in our brain so that we don't have to relearn that behavior every day. So, for example, you know, the taste of chocolate, for example, versus broccoli or cake versus broccoli, let's use cake as an example.


So if we have this value stored in our brain, we don't have to relearn it.


Every time one with broccoli tastes like cake, tastes like what we've done is we've laid down this composite reward value every time starting as a kid, we go to birthday parties. All the times we've gone to celebrations where we've eaten cake, all the times we've eaten cake to cheer ourselves up. This gets laid down. There's a composite reward value, and there's this hierarchy in our brain of reward value. So Brockley generally tends to be lower than cake for most.


So we can tell ourselves, stop eating cake, but if it worked, I would happily find another job and I wouldn't need to help my patients with obesity because our thinking brain doesn't hold a candle to our feeling body.


Our body looks at the cake and says, well, that's pretty rewarding.


Eat it. What are you doing? Just staring at it. Eat the cake.


So the only way to actually update that reward value is to bring in something that you might have heard of before. It's called awareness.


OK, and what we're and Wagner talked about was what's called a positive and a negative prediction error. So if I'm looking at a piece of cake and it looks really good and I take a bite of that cake and it is absolutely delicious, it's better than any chocolate cake that I've had before. Something happens, call it positive prediction or it's more rewarding than I expected. Or if I bite into that cake and the chef accidentally used a bunch of salt instead of sugar and I spit it out in disgust, I get this negative prediction error.


And what that does is it trains my brain to say, hey, you better look out for that bakery. Whoever baked a cake might not be doing a good job. So cake in that specific setting decreases in its reward value. So it's easier for me to go past that store and be like that. Tasted like salt last time. I'm not interested. OK, now we've done research with this where we can actually embed mindfulness tools into our apps, where we can actually measure word value on a moment to moment basis, and we can have people go through a mindfulness exercise and really pay attention so they can update that reward value.


So if it's overeating, we have people, we say go ahead and overeat and we have them do that and then ask themselves, how content do you feel right now and check in with themselves within 10 to 15 times of people doing this exercise, we can map out that reward, value change.


That behavior drops below the value of not doing it. And we've seen this both with eating food and we've also seen this with cigaret smoking. Cigarets are pretty straightforward because they don't taste very good. You know, they can be a little more subtle. So we can take that principle and see that mindfulness is a key ingredient. Really, awareness is that key ingredient. But that attitude of curiosity, like what did I really get from this as compared to saying, oh, I shouldn't eat cake?


Those are very different things when we really see that reward value clearly that updates in our brain. And this goes all the way back to the ancient Buddha psychology around becoming disenchanted with these old behaviors.


So here's disenchantment in a modern day formula through math.


For those folks that like math, that's awesome. I'm not great at math, but I like that there is a mathematical formula that my postdocs can go and measure and calculate and write papers about, but we can actually apply this to worry as well. And so that's the next step is to really map out these Tabart loops, anxiety and worry. Right. And then when we're worrying, we can ask ourselves, one, what am I getting from this right now?


Right. Feel into our body? Oh, it's actually making more me more anxious, for example.


And to we can ask, is this actually solving the problem that I'm hoping that it will solve? So, for example, a common one is parents. When they have teenagers and their kids go out partying with their friends, they're going to worry until they hear that door unlocking the kids home safely. My guess is that the worry isn't actually making the kids safe.


Just a guess. OK, so they can ask themselves, well, what's worrying getting me right now? Well, they're getting an ulcer. They're getting high blood pressure, trying to control their kids lives. None of those are helpful. So that's one aspect that folks can pay attention to. The other is because back to this resistance. So if there's just anxiety and somebody is not worrying, particularly they can say, am I trying to fix the anxiety, I'm trying to find the problem, why is this anxiety happening?


And what am I getting from the resistance or the trying to figure it out and solve it or trying to avoid it, whatever the behavior is, that's not helping them just simply be with and accept their anxiety, those feelings and see if they can just welcome them in, which is not easy to do when somebody is first starting. But over time, when they realize that these feelings are simply body sensations, emotions, they can start to experience being with them or all these practices that you know from your own experience can help us at least start to get our foot in the door of not just constantly and quickly trying to get rid of anxiety as quickly as possible.


So that's step two. I have a million questions about step two, but I want to let you finish the steps, so I'll keep them in my head. So we'll go quickly into step three and then we can go back to step two.


Step three is relatively simple. I think of it as if your brain has found that something is unrewarding. It's going to say, OK, give me something better. So I think of it as the Bibo, the bigger, better offer.


And ideally we would find something that is intrinsically. Rewarding, not something external, so you can say, well, if you're anxious, just go look at pictures of puppies on Instagram or whatever, or binge on Netflix, but our brains become habituated to those things. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And I've heard like Joseph Goldstein talking about, yeah, try just having sex for a long, long, long, long, long, long time.


It just doesn't work out that well. You got to stop at some point.


So there is too much of a good thing and our brains become habituated. That's how our brains learn. It's like, well, I get the cute pictures of puppies now give me something cuter. So we need to look internally if possible. This idea of having superpowers for our brain, I think you you first introduced that to me and I think I don't know. Would you talk about mindfulness as a super power?


What would specifically I think I said that sounds like something I would say. Yeah, definitely. So I think it was mindfulness. Whether you like mindfulness is like a superpower. I think of the attitudinal quality of mindfulness.


So you think of mindfulness being awareness and an attitude. Non judgment is what a lot of people say. I think of it as curiosity. You can positively frame it that way. I think of curiosity as a superpower and my love is actually done research on this. But basically anybody listening can ask themselves what feels better, being anxious or being curious about that anxiety. In this moment, curiosity feels better when we've done studies with hundreds of people looking at the reward value of a bunch of different mental states.


Across the board, people rank curiosity, kindness, connection much higher than anxiety and fear and worry and things like that. So it's about finding that bigger, better offer. And the nice thing about mindfulness and awareness is that awareness is intrinsic and curiosity is intrinsic. It's just about awakening it so we don't become habituated to it.


And if we think, oh, I'm bored of being curious, we can go, hmm, what's it feel like to be bored of being curious? And then we're curious again. So that's the third step. You think of it as any I think of it as any mindfulness practice that can help us step out of the old habit loop.


The way this would work in practice is, again, just because I haven't yet broken the habit of self. Let me just stick with myself for a second. As an easy example. I'm sitting here still have the throbbing in the chest. The Bibo would be, hey, would you can I just be curious about it?


Not curious. Like, why am I such an anxious person but curious about what are the physical sensations right now and what kind of starbursts of thought might the sensations be triggering that I could drop out of and see as they happen? Absolutely.


And I think you're touching on an important point that I didn't actually know until two years ago, which is there are two different flavors of curiosity, and you just named both of them. So one is called deprivation, curiosity, which is, as it sounds, not having information. Right. Which drives our brain to go get information because information is food for our brain and food for helps us survive. Not knowing the answer to something or not knowing why I'm anxious, for example, is a rabbit hole.


What does it feel like? Let me ask you, what's it feel like when you're like, oh, why am I anxious? Does it feel more closed down or does it feel more opened up? Definitely closed down, yeah. So the is called interest curiosity where I think of deprivation. Curiosity is the destination. Once you get the answer, you're you've arrived at the end of your journey. Interest curiosity is about just exploring the journey, the joy of discovery.


So in the moment, if you just focused on the interest curiosity, does that feel closed down or does that feel opened up in the moment?


Now, for example, with the whatever tightness I'm feeling in my chest, if I just can be gently curious about what does this feel like without trying to dove into story? Yeah, it feels much better than trying to do amateur psychotherapy. I myself. Yes.


And that's actually what my lab has found. So when we mapped out these 14 mental states and looked at the reward value, we also asked people, does one feel more open or closed? And uniformly people reported that the ones that felt open, including curiosity, were more rewarding. So there may even be this intrinsic continuum between contracted and closed down versus opened up that is already different or a differential in the reward spectrum.


One feels better than another, which is good news for the human race, because anger and frustration and divisiveness feel much worse and more closed down than connection and kindness.


If we could just get everybody to wake up to that. Yes, and that's about the waking up part. It's about being aware of the results of being mean versus the results of being kind to each other. Sticking with the habit loop around anxiety. The Bibo, again, just to put a fine, fine point on this step three in terms of unwinding this anxiety is getting to the bigger, better offer. So you're sitting there feeling your anxiety wherever you feel it in your body and you notice that you might be headed toward the bag of Doritos.


But then you remember actually, no, I've been aware through the burrito bin several times and seeing that it just makes me feel terrible about myself and terrible physically. So I'm just going to drop back into, like, checking out what does it feel like to be with these feelings right now? And that in and of itself is the reward. That's the Bibo. Yes, absolutely.


Especially when you compare the two, you can feel back into what it was like to dove into the bag of Doritos. And then you can compare that to what it's like right now, just exploring those sensations and the results. What do I get from just exploring versus if I were to dove into the bag? I'll give you a clinical example of a patient that I just saw maybe a week or two ago. She just hit her one year of sobriety and she's in her 50s.


She's been drinking a long time, let's say. So we used a lot of mindfulness practices with her and she actually a lot of anxiety. So she was using our own wedding anxiety up as well. What she does every morning, she wakes up and she asks herself, what would I get if I drank? One phrase for this is playing the tape forward so we can think we have to draw on old memory to project into the future. So what that does is it draws back on what she did in the past that led to her drinking and what the results were versus what it's like right now to be sober.


And for her, being sober feels great compared to drinking or being drunk. Do you ever have people say, I mean, Duck, you're telling me that the reward is mindfulness? I mean, come on, how can that compare to bingeing on whatever it is I want to binge on to shut down these feelings, albeit temporarily, of fear, anxiety, et cetera, et cetera?


Well, I think the difference here is that overindulging on anything is not physiologically adaptive. And so our brains know this and they're going to say, hey, you better cool it on whatever that is. And actually what feels good is kind of this new demonic state of being where there's just this ease, there's balance, there's we're not driven.


And when we're overindulging, not only do we get the consequences of overindulging where we have to deal with the headache or the hangover or the full stomach or the guilt or whatever, but at the same time, all those pieces are driving us to crave that thing more. And that craving is very unsettling.


It says do something, do something, do something. So especially when you bring all those pieces together, it feels much worse than simply noticing, oh, there's some chocolate. Am I hungry or do I just want a little piece for a little bit of sweetness and can I stop there? There's always a pleasure plateau that we're going to hit, but if we don't pay attention to the awareness comes in, we're just going to keep doing those things habitually, driving us to really a bunch of different negative outcomes.


So I'm saying awareness helps us see how unrewarding these other things are. Yet the awareness itself helps us go through life, not constantly pulling at this and pushing at that and pulling at this and pushing at that.


So you're not using meditation or mindfulness or awareness as a eat your vegetables, good for you type thing. You're using it as a way to orient the brain toward what actually feels good right now. Always, yes.


And I would argue that eating your vegetables actually feels pretty good. I guess it's a, you know, feeling healthy, feeling energetic, not having a sugar rush and crashing, not being constipated. All these things that come from eating our vegetables, eating whole foods. For me, it's a no brainer. I mean, it is so much better. More of my conversation with Dr. Jedburgh right after this. Everyone likes shopping online, but searching for coupon codes can be a bummer, so make saving online a breeze with Capital One shopping Capital One shopping is a free tool that instantly searches for available coupon codes and automatically applies them at checkout.


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Not in length, but in its cultural heft. Could you add in something along the lines of love?


Absolutely, yes. And I would say, well, my lab's research types of love and I think you know about this, but if we look at the commonality between, say, curiosity and love, they share a quality of experience, which is this opening up? Is this expansion. Right. So when I am feeling love from somebody or when somebody is kind to me, the kindness, it just feels good. I feel more connected, I feel more open.


And when I'm curious about something, I feel more open. I feel more connected with the world.


So I think that to have slightly different flavors, like slightly different phenotypes, let's say, but at their core, that opening is the same. And I think I remember Dipalma, who is this famous meditation teacher. Somebody asked her what's the difference between loving kindness and awareness or something like that? And she said, there's no difference. I hope I'm not misquoting her on that. But the idea there is at the core, it's the same. And at the core of these practices, whether it's kindness, practices or love, truly selfless love, not love you if you love me back type of thing, which is more transactional.


That core of opening, I would suggest, is really a key aspect of mindfulness itself is helping us see basically how unrewarding it is to be contracted and whatever it leads to that. So divisiveness leads to contraction and how great it feels to be open and connected, which both love and curiosity do. So I don't know if that gets at your question or just provokes more questions, but that's how I see it right now. Both I've always been confused.


When you hear meditation teachers say things like love is attention or attention is love. But I think now I'm starting to understand it that just this open interested.


This is also a loaded word, but caring but not caring necessarily in the sense that you're like Florence Nightingale. But just like you, I like the expression just north of neutral. You know, you do give a crap on some very basic level. Then to me it feels like those two can be, if not interchangeable, at least closely, closely related.


Absolutely. And I would suggest that they can foster each other. They can support each other, because anything that helps move us in the direction of opening helps us see how rewarding it is and helps us look for other things that will do the same thing.


And hence for me, why a fully balanced meditation diet includes both. And I discovered this very late in my meditation career, both straight up mindfulness, watching the feeling, the breath, and then when you get distracted, start again and loving kindness, you know, where you're actively boosting your capacity to care. Part of for me, where I got confused on this is that love is such a freighted word in our culture and we start hearing string music and seeing white lights at blah, blah, blah.


But actually, if you define it down, it's quite useful to think about it as just our in or are wired or innate capacity hardwired capacity to care. Absolutely.


And you can direct that towards yourself in moments of anxiety and for me can even have a cognitive aspect to it of, OK, I'm noticing that I'm feeling fear, but this is the organism trying to protect itself. Can't I just I think I'm stealing that line from Jack Kornfield to I love and then I can be like, all right, yeah, I get it.


This is I don't have to fight against this. I can relax a little bit and feel it. Does that make any sense?


It makes a lot of sense. And actually, I'm thinking of one of my patients who said when we were training her and kind of seeing this for herself, she would use the little mantra. When she would get anxious, she would just say, oh, that's how my brain works, to remind herself exactly what you're talking about, which is my brain's trying to protect me. It's this old thing. You know, in a modern day, everything is not a survival threat.


Yet my brain perceives it that way. And so let me give my brain a break. And in the process, it's like putting ourselves in our brains, shoes speak. We can then have compassion for our brain because we understand how it works and it's like, oh, it's OK brain. And that also helps it get out of its little rut to. In terms of understanding, though, and this gets back to the issue of curiosity. Does it not make some sense, because I think this happens a lot in therapy, at least in my experience, to try to get a sense of what's happened in your personal history and maybe even back in your family history, because we know that intergenerational trauma is kind of an interesting thing.


Is there no value to that kind of excavation? Done well, so certainly done well.


It probably doesn't hurt anything. Yes, I love this. There's this quote, Forgiveness is giving up hope of a better past. Have you heard that before?


No, I like that. So the idea is if you look at it from a habit perspective. Habits are so let's say it's self judgment, OK, for our past or whatever, giving up hope of a better past means it's not about why this is happening right now. It's about what is happening right now, because what drove it to happen right now is less relevant than that. It is happening right now. And having people devote their energy to the what as compared to the Y is really helpful in helping them step out of these things.


Now, I could certainly see seeing those patterns where if somebody is in an abusive relationship, for example, and that it was a result of generational trauma where their parents were in abusive relationships, where it is just comfortable. And that's what they know. Being able to see that pattern is obviously very helpful because it might actually help them step out of it a little more easily. And also seeing how that that can actually be perpetuated just because it's comfortable may be just as helpful as knowing.


OK, well, so I've seen that pattern over and over and over. I get why it's happening. We can also get why it's happening from a brain perspective. You can think of this is back to our person ancestors. The cave was our comfort zone. We're in safety. We don't have to have our alert systems on when we go out into the savanna foraging. We have to go on high alert because we don't know if there's danger out there when we go out into some new territory.


This could be, let's say, an abusive relationship. Somebody moves out outside of an abusive relationship. It feels very uncomfortable because they have the safety of the relationship, even though it was an abusive one. Right. So we can move out into this discomfort and we can freak out and go into a panic zone where we're running back into the safety or finding somebody else as quickly as possible that might repeat the pattern.


Or we can then bring curiosity in and say, oh, this is my brain, this is how my brain works. I'm moving out of my comfort zone into the growth zone. This is new and different. What if I dated different people, for example, or hung out in different environments and know that that uncertainty is part of our brain survival mechanism, but it doesn't mean we need to run quickly back into the cave because that could actually be detrimental for us.


So there certainly understanding the past can be helpful, but also just understanding some basic biology of how our brains works. Some basic psychology, I would suggest, can help us identify those patterns in the moment that they're happening. And that's what helps change habits.


I don't have hard and fast views on this, but I think gun to my head, I would have to say I'm kind of both and on this. So let me kind of gently challenge you with again, just a personal example. I was talking to my psychiatrist recently about the aforementioned move that has provoked some anxiety, some financial concerns, as a matter of fact. And I was kind of laying it out to him and he was challenging me on it and pretty quickly arrived at.


The fact that there wasn't much evidence to support the financial concerns we've made responsible decisions financially, then he pivoted to what was the attitude around the house when you were a kid around money.


And I started remembering, oh, yeah, my parents. Didn't want to run the heat too much, so we wore parkas in the winter and yeah, like my parents drove like really crappy cars, even though they both were very successful physicians, et cetera. So they're quite flinty New Englanders. And he was like, well, isn't it possible that some of the anxiety you're feeling right now is this sense of maybe you're breaking your parents rules about, you know, how to comport yourself as a Grown-Up?


And there's just some it's kind of like a little bit he didn't use this word, but maybe a little bit infantile or childish. And it was helpful for me to see my anxiety in that historical perspective.


So that felt helpful. So what am I missing, if anything? So that certainly can be helpful. And I would say the key is. When you feel anxiety in those moments, how do you work with it, right. So is it you, our thinking brain? I mentioned this a little bit earlier, thinking brain doesn't hold a candle to our feeling body.


And so if we get really start to get really worked up trying to think ourselves out, like, well, my parents were like this when I was a kid, you know, that may not actually snuff out the flame of anxiety in that moment. But what is probably more guaranteed is if you bring in your mindfulness practices in those moments to work with the anxiety. So I think it's a both and certainly seeing it and seeing, oh, that's how it got set up.


But how it got set up is in the past, what's happening right now is that it's showing up. And the best way not to feed anxiety is to make sure you're not fueling it. Right.


The psychologist, I believe, is a psychologist, Jonathan Haidt from NYU. Jonathan, if you're listening, you're invited on the show. I was reading a book he wrote recently called The Righteous Mind, where he describes the way the mind works is like an elephant with a rider, a human rider. The elephant is our subconscious, our feelings. The rider is our thinking capacity. And often the rider is just a PR agent for the elephant or a lawyer for the elephant.


We think we're really running the show, but it's this unseen, giant animal. And that kind of jives with what you're talking about here. Yes, it might be helpful to give the rider some historical perspective on the roots of his or her or their anxiety.


But learning to work with the elephant through seeing it through awareness is going to be more powerful over time.


Yeah, absolutely. So you can think of it as that seeing the historical origins would be like, oh, this is an elephant as compared to a kitty cat or a puppy.


Oh, and then learning how to ride it.


Yeah. OK, one technical question, and then I want to get to a long running debate we've been having over email, the technical question is in order to do the Dr Judson Bruer unwinding anxiety steps, you've talked about mindfulness and awareness.


Do you think that meditation, formal meditation practice is required here? How are you defining formal meditation practice, sitting eyes closed or open and following some set of instructions about how to work with the mind for a few minutes at a time?


OK, so here I'll give a historical precedent and research evidence where I would suggest that, no, it's not required.


So historically, if you look at Tibetan Buddhist schools, they talk about actually these short moments many times where a lot of the teachers will talk about a moment of mindfulness will help in a moment of mindfulness. If you think about habits, if you want to set the habit of awareness, if you do it throughout the day, short moments, many times, then that's going to help set that habit throughout life as well as in context, my my research.


I love when I set up a hypothesis and I'm totally wrong. I learn more from that than when the hypothesis is confirmed. When we do our first studies is with our smoking studies long time ago where we found five times the quit rates, the gold standard treatment. When we looked at the data to see what was driving that it was the informal mindfulness practices as compared to the formal ones. My hypothesis, because I had trained in formal meditation practice, was that it would be the formal ones.


It wasn't that they weren't helping. There was certainly a correlation between formal practice and outcomes, but it wasn't nearly as strong as the informal.


What I would suggest is, especially for somebody just starting trying this out short moments many times throughout the day and having that being supported by even shorter, like I think you do a great job of advocating like just a few minutes. The formal practice is can really help deepen things.


But if we just jump right in and we're like, oh, it's all about levitating off my cushion, we're going to be frustrated right from the get go and we might be more likely to give up. So I've actually taken the approach following those data that we start with the informal stuff and actually starting by helping people understand why the heck they're meditating in the first place, mapping out these mental loops, looking at the push and pull, seeing that in their everyday context, so that when they then go to sit on a cushion or sit on a chair, do walking meditation or whatever, formally they can be aware of those patterns much more easily.


They can be on the lookout for them. And in that respect, it might augment the utility of doing the formal practices. So obviously I like both, but I've actually started with a little informal pieces helping people understand the mind first and then adding in the formal practices after that.


You may have said this, and if I missed it, I apologize. But what do you mean by the little informal practices of short moments? Many times.


So going back to the research examples that I said earlier about where we were building mindfulness practices into these apps, where we have people pay attention as they eat food. Right.


We have people pay attention as they smoke a cigaret. So imagine if somebody is smoking a pack a day. They have 20 times a day where they can practice being really mindful with a specific activity. So those are the short moments or any time somebody is walking down the hall and they're feeling anxiety, they can take a moment to simply note what that anxiety feels like in their body. Or they can take a moment to take a mindful breath. Those are the short moments.


It's not like, oh, I'm driving down the highway, I'm feeling anxious. I need to pull over and pull out the cushion out of my trunk and meditate on the side of the highway. It's about in that moment when they're driving down the highway and they're feeling anxious and they notice this worry thought come up to note that, oh, there's this worry thought so that they can be less identified with those thoughts in those moments. That's what I'm talking about.


Each of those moments is a moment of mindfulness that will help support the next one.


You talk about the perverse thrill of being wrong. I love the perverse thrill of having something completely obvious reassert its prominence in my mind as something that's worthwhile. So like I do find that taking deep breaths, which, of course, like every parent tells their kid to do this and bad temper tantrum is phenomenally helpful when I'm feeling worried and I know there's a lot of science there. OK, so let's get to the battle royale here. I've been inquiring with you for quite a while, and this goes back to the episode we did a year ago on this podcast when the pandemic was really just first kicking in.


And we wanted to talk about how people can work with anxiety. And we talked on that episode about something called the Yorks Dodson law. And you raise some questions about the legality of that law. And also this was privately with me and then you also. And then I kept pushing back on whether is that basically the year starts and I'm going to shut up.


You describe this alleged law and why what your problems with it are.


Yeah. And this goes back, you know, I when I'm working with whether teaching a seminar or giving a talk or whatever, people invariably come up to me afterwards and say, but isn't a little bit of anxiety good for my performance? And I'm thinking for me it's not where are you getting this? And then they somebody actually wrote me a very, very long email after a weekend seminar. Explaining all the ways that it was helpful and I think I don't know if it is that person or similar references, your thoughts in law.


And so I went and looked it up. And it turns out there's this great review article on this that I cite in my book. Back in nineteen eighty eight, there were these two researchers aptly named Yorke's and Dodson, and they were studying Japanese dancing mice. OK, I don't know what what prompted them to do this study, but they started shocking these mice, mild, moderate and severe shock. And they were testing to see how much each of these shocks would affect their ability to navigate a maze or something.


Whatever they were doing to test the cognitive performance of these Japanese dancing mice. And they found that the model is like Goldilocks. You know, the moderate shock was enough to get them off their butts and run down the maze. But the too little and too much was like this, my personification of a Japanese dancing mouse getting shot.


So that paper went largely ignored for half a century. So it was only cited, I think, four or five times in 50 years. So in the nineteen fifties, there was a guy, Hunsley, a relatively well-known psychologist, who postulated without evidence that maybe this Japanese dancing mouse thing, performance thing could be applied to anxiety as well. And one of his former graduate students ran with it. So he did a study with rats, held their heads underwater and found that if he held the rats head underwater, just the right amount of time, they did better.


But if you held them underwater too long, the decrease their performance. And he interchangeably used the words anxiety and arousal and all this stuff. So it makes complete sense that we need to be awake and somewhat have some level of arousal to do things right. If we're comatose, we can't check our to do list. But what these guys were suggesting was that there's this sweet spot in terms of we're a little bit of anxiety gets us so far, but to do things but too much freaks us out.


We're paralyzed. So these folks started talking about the Yorke's Dodson experiment as the Yorke's Dodson law because it was a psychological law. It must be true. If you look at this in this review paper that I found, only four percent of studies supported the evidence for this inverted yusaf curve. Everybody loves the symmetry of an inverted shaped curve a little bit, not so much. Just the right amount. Goldilocks, everybody wins and too much. The bed's too hard or the poor are just too cold or too hot.


So four percent of studies supported this. Forty six percent or ten times that. Many supported it. Complete inverse relationship. The more anxiety there is, the worse people do in performance. And if you look at the extorts in law, it went from being cited fewer than ten times by nineteen ninety to one hundred times in the year, two thousand to over a thousand times in the year 2010. So there's this exponential rise in people looking at this heuristic, probably with the help of the Internet saying, oh yeah, that makes sense.


I'm going to cite this thing and not actually look at the raw data. So it goes from Japanese dancing mice to drowning rats to humans, improving their performance because they're anxious. And what my PhD mentor, Lou Muglia, he's great. He would say, is it true, true and unrelated? Could you be anxious and could you perform well? But it doesn't mean that there's a causal connection that anxiety is causing better for performance. And when I look at performance, when I'm anxious, I perform worse.


That's an end of one.


All these studies are backing that up, that there really isn't any evidence for there being that sweet spot of anxiety that improves performance. So that's the Yorke's Dodson, I would say more myth than lore. I think that the statutes need to be updated or however the legal speak is for that.


So let me just keep pushing this, because the way I heard this described in the way I talk about it to folks is and I'm very open to revising this. So that's the spirit in which I'm going to say what I'm about to say is the way it was presented to me in the way I presented to others is we're in the middle of a pandemic.


Nothing is wrong with you if that's scary. So, yes, a certain amount of like, oh, yeah, this is a big, scary pandemic. I need to make sure I have enough masks. I need to make sure that I'm getting tested on the regular. I don't want to go see my elderly parents if I haven't taken precautions, et cetera, et cetera. A certain amount of that makes sense. It's when you're paralyzed that you're on the wrong side of the inverted U shape.


So maybe what I'm describing is like a definition of anxiety or stress. But help me understand where the confusion here is.


Yes. So what I what the data are suggesting is that no amount of anxiety is actually helpful. Right. So this goes back to the thinking and planning part of our brain to think and plan. Our prefrontal cortex needs to be working optimally. And there's no evidence to suggest that anxiety actually helps our prefrontal cortex perform. So let's use the opposite example. When we perform our best, so I think the example that I can think of that best personifies this or exemplifies this is flow, right?


I've looked into flow a little bit and wrote about it in my last book. But the idea behind flow is when somebody is at peak levels of performance. This is often described in music performance or sports where somebody is doing such an amazing job that not only are they just crushing it, but they're actually sucking the crowd in with them because everybody is feeling that energy. So I'm going to use that as an example of optimal performance.


And when you look at flow kicks in the high coin this term, he's the psychologist, wrote a book flow in the nineteen seventies. He talked about it being effortless, selfless. You know, there's nothing in there about anxiety. There's nothing in there about any of that. It's about actually being completely free of all of these worries so that we are just merging action and outcome.


Right. And I don't dispute any of that except I think for many of us it's a bit utopian.


So I think there are times yes, when I play the drums and there are times when I'm playing the drums and I enter into flow other times in meditation, when I enter to flow, other times even when writing. But it's not just like perennially available to me. And so therefore a certain amount of like deadlines for writing deadlines are stressful to me, but they actually can focus the mind and get me a little bit up on the useful part of the year starts in LA, which is not obviously a law.


So there I would say do the parallel experiment and I would say that I agree with you. It's if we think of flow as binary, I'm either not in flow or I'm in flow, then that's going to be a problem. But if we think of it as a continuum and I think of that contracted quality, the closed down quality of experience that we talked about before, if that's a.. Flow, that's moving in the opposite direction. But anything that helps us open up and open up and open up helps us move along the flow continuum.


OK, so here it's not that we have to try to get in the flow because trying is going to get in the way. This is the go to quote to Luke looks as I'm trying and yota says, do or do not, there is no try.


This is about just doing getting out of our own way and just doing these things. So anything that can help us see where we're getting in our own way and anything that can help us kind of open up a bit helps us move in the direction, whereas you can think of flow as the extreme end of that spectrum. So here with a deadline, if we could clone Dan Harris and do the parallel experiment and say, OK, at the beginning of the week, anxious Dan is going to compete with calm Dan Dan, who is just a little more open.


Let's just do a little nudge toward open versus closed. Right is the open. Dan is going to still meet that deadline. Is he going to meet that in a way that doesn't feel like, oh, it's another deadline, but like, oh, here's the deadline. Right. So it could be the oh versus oh.


If we meet that with curiosity, does the curiosity help us motivate to meet that deadline in a way that even helps us perform better then if it's the oh oh oh versus oh I sometimes worry that if I write in a and we haven't invoked this term thus far, but I'll put it into the conversation if I write and what might be described as a sort of self compassionate way where I'm listening to my body, not pushing myself too hard. I'm very interested in that and I do find that I do better when I do that.


Part of my brain is telling me, yeah, actually you do need like hair on fire deadlines to actually get your stuff done. But that's just a habit. Yeah, it could just be habit, right. Where it's that's what you've done in the past. That's what helped you associated with getting it done. Yet you can now do the parallel experiment and just feel into what it feels like to really be writing, feel into what it feels like to be thinking about these things, feel into all the rewarding aspects of your experience versus the the vary the kind of the stick, the carrot versus the stick mentality.


So let's just get back to the pandemic for a second, and I want to make sure I'm not confusing fear, which you've said has some redeeming qualities and anxiety, some fear in the face of the headlines we're seeing on the news seems to make sense and to be evolutionarily adaptive. But that is different from anxiety, which is uncontrolled worry in the face of that fear. Do I have that right?


Absolutely. So think of it as we have a huge amount of uncertainty right now. If you think of it from a health perspective, unprecedented in our lifetimes, I can't think of a time globally where the world's population has been less certain about its health. Right, especially at the beginning. But even now, like with the new variants and the vaccines, and there are so many elements of uncertainty there, the uncertainty is telling us, hey, pay attention, this is important for your survival.


But what we do with that uncertainty is critical for the survival piece, where if we're worrying about when are we going to get a vaccine or is my vaccine going to work for this variant or bla bla bla bla bla, we're actually giving ourselves that slow burn of anxiety, killing us chronically versus acknowledging the uncertainty, seeing that we don't know all the answers, maybe looking at some trusted sources for information and then importantly letting go when we don't have the answer, like being OK with being uncertain, can we be comfortable with the discomfort?


So when we're in that action mode, though, researching, thinking, planning, hopefully not infused with anxiety, what would you call that?


Would you call that arousal? Given that fear may be present, is it appropriate for there to be some level of stress? I guess I just don't want us to get hung up on not having the right words.




So if you look at I think time scales can be helpful here. So if you look at the time scale of fear, it tends to be pretty short peaks and then it goes away. We can't just be like super, super afraid, super afraid, super the whole day. Our physiology is not set up that way. And actually, if you look at it, we're going to have very, very fast reactions to things.


Let's say let's say I step out into the street, I'm looking at my phone, my weapon of mass destruction. Right. And I forget to look both ways before crossing the street. So I step out in the street, I look up, I see this bus barreling down at me before I can think, before I can even be afraid. I'm jumping back on the sidewalk. I don't have time to be afraid. I need to survive. So there's that level which happens like a millisecond of reflexively then we have this fear response.


This is wow. You should probably put your phone away when you're crossing the street. So there's where the learning comes in. Right. That can happen pretty quickly. But what we do with that piece is where the anxiety comes in, where it's like, oh, I can't believe that or do I have it? I should go see my psychiatrist because I might have a death wish or whatever. That piece is the chronic piece that is completely optional, where we can be like, oh, that I should put my phone away.


We learn from it. We let go of that. We move on. If you look at animals, I think it's dogs will shake when they've had something stressful, it literally shake it off and then they move on. I think zebras or wild animals like that will jump in kick after they've been chased by the lion so that they don't get chronic stress.


So I think that's the difference here.


And you can you can tell generally in a straightforward way based on time scale.


So I've been giving this speech for the last seven years since I wrote 10 percent happier, where I talk about how my dad told me that the price of security is insecurity and that I use that as my little mantra in my pre mindfulness days, workaholic days, and that it had a negative outcome, many negative outcomes, one of which was, you know, getting depressed, self medicating with recreational drugs and then having a panic attack. I then come back to the price of security is insecurity at the end of the speech and say, you know, I still kind of believe that.


I still believe that if you're going to do anything great in your personal, professional, volunteer life, whatever certain amount of thinking and plotting and planning does makes sense. It's just that we tend to carry it too far and it's useful. Mindfulness is like a wheat thresher that can separate wheat from the chaff and help you see. Oh, yeah, when am I in useless rumination as opposed to sort of what I jokingly call constructive anguish. Do I need to revise that, you think?


No, I think that fits pretty well. And I write in my book about moving out of our comfort zone into panic zone versus growth zone. So I would say that insecurity that your dad was talking about, the price of security is insecurity that is moving out of our comfort zone into some new territory, into the growth zone. And it's moving from the. Oh, no, which can be paralyzing to the oh, this is different, which helps us.


We're in new territory. That's an indicator that we can grow. And that's where breakthroughs have. It's not in their comfort zones, it's in the growth zone, so it's not like doing great things is going to mean like willing yourself into a constant state of flow. You are going to be uncomfortable. But how do you want to be with that discomfort? Do you want to be locked down around it and anxious, uncontrolled worrying? Or do you want to be open and curious around whatever challenges you're facing right now and monitoring when you lapse over into uncontrolled worry?


Yeah. Can we be comfortable with the discomfort? Basically, totally agree.


Before I let you go, can you just remind us of the book, remind us of the apps that are out there and where we can go. Is there one stop shopping if we want all things JEDBURGH?


So the book is called Unwinding Anxiety, The Apps. So we have an anxiety app that I write about a lot of the research that we've done in the book. And I'll just actually bookmark this with you. I think I mentioned medications. That number needed to treat five point one five. We've done several clinical studies with this one anxiety app now, and the number needed to treat for that is one point six, the efficacy there. If I'm playing that lottery, I'd want a lower number.


And then we have an eating app called Eat Right Now, one for smoking called Craving to quit. But folks can find all things brewer on the totally self-referential Dr. Judd dotcom website, dude dotcom. And then they can find the book anywhere. Books are sold. But there's also a link to the booksellers on my website.


Brilliant. Excellent job, Judd. And I really appreciate it.


Thank you. Oh, thank you. Big thanks to Jed, always great to connect with my friend. Thanks as well to the folks who work so hard on this show. This show is made by Samuel Johns, Jay Cashmere, Maria Wartell and Jen Plant with audio engineering by Ultraviolet Audio. As always, a hearty salute to my ABC News comrades Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohen at ABC.


We'll see you well on Friday for a bonus. I wrote at Verlinden about a nine page analysis of what I thought his situation was from best case studios and ABC audio listened to in Plain Sight. Lady Bird Johnson, a new podcast about the power of a political partnership, one that somehow doesn't show up in the many, many accounts of Lyndon Johnson's presidency, told through ladybirds own audio diaries and available now on Spotify or your favorite podcast app.