Raj Raghunathan-If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?

Raj Raghunathan
Raj Raghunathan, author of “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” is currently professor of marketing at the University of Texas School of Business. In this episode he tells us why "Small changes have big effects", how to "Be discerning, not judgmental" and shares the "Single most important thing to enhance your happiness". Hosted by Duff Watkins

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About Raj Raghunathan

 

Raj Raghunathan, author of “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?”  is currently professor of marketing at the University of Texas School of Business. Raj’s work juxtaposes theories from psychology, behavioural sciences, decision theory and marketing to document and explain interrelationships between affect and consumption behaviour,

His work has been published in top marketing and psychology journals.

He says, “I believe that I am one of the few people who can serve as a conduit between the scientific community and the masses in addressing such big issues as: what are the factors that determine life-satisfaction and happiness?”

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: Small changes have big effects. 03m 36s

Lesson 2: science and spirituality go together. 06m 12s

Lesson 3: We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love. 14m 10s

Lesson 4: Nurture trust in life. 17m 16s

Lesson 5: The big difference between mind attention and bare attention. 23m 35s

Lesson 6: You can’t be happy without a healthy lifestyle. 31m 18s

Lesson 7: Single most important thing to enhance your happiness is… 34m 35s

Lesson 8: Be discerning, not judgmental. 40m 14s

Lesson 9: The 5:1 ratio for feedback. 44m 14s

Lesson 10: Happiness is functional. 50m50s

Raj Raghunathan 10 Lessons

 

[00:00:06] Duff Watkins: Hello and welcome to the podcast.

10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn where we dispense wisdom for your life and your career. My name is Duff Watkins and I’m your host. Our guest today is Raj Raghunathan, who is professor of marketing at the university of Texas business school. Hello, Raj, welcome to the show.

[00:00:24] Raj Raghunathan: Thank you very much Duff. Really a pleasure to be here.

[00:00:28] Duff Watkins: Now you wrote a book which asks the only existential question. I think that really matters one. That’s haunted me my whole life. The book is called “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?” And we’ll talk about that in a bit, by the way. It’s not a new book, but it’s freely available on Amazon.

What’s the reception to the book been like?

[00:00:49] Raj Raghunathan: It’s been good. Overall, it’s done better than I, expected. Perhaps not better than I hoped. didn’t become a best seller, but it’s been translated into 13 different languages. And if you go on Amazon now, I believe there’s about 190 people close to 200 people we’ve have reviewed it.

 And of late, there has been an uptake in the receptivity to the book for whatever reason, maybe it’s, COVID, maybe it’s something else. It’s got everything that I think is important in my life. And so, I’m very satisfied with it. I do think it’s a tad longer than I think in retrospect it could have been, but I’m very, very happy with it.

[00:01:23] Duff Watkins: Well, that’s good. Well, now let’s talk about your life. Raj we need to talk, right? Okay. Now, when you started out very well, I read your bio. You’re born in a small town in Southern India. You come from good family; you became an engineer. Then you got an MBA because you know, that’s what people do. You got the travel bug and you, you started, you came to the U S to do a PhD because there’s nothing else left to do studied in Arizona for a while.

That department kind of collapsed from what I gathered, then you went to New York to finish doing your PhD, but now it’s, um, now it’s in psychology. Yeah.

[00:01:58] Raj Raghunathan: No, I mean, my PhD is technically in marketing, but marketing is in a, is an applied field, as you know. And so, our home disciplines tend to be either economics or psychology for the most part.

And for all practical purposes, my PhD is a PhD in psychology.

[00:02:13] Duff Watkins: Yeah. Okay. Cause that’s what I was worried about. You know, you’re doing so well, engineering psychology, then you joined the dark side of marketing. That’s what I was curious about. But so, you do teach marketing at the business school to graduate business school and university of Texas, which is a major, a major feat.

And you’re a specialty, one of your specialties or a quotation. You feel that you’re a conduit from scientific studies to the masses. That means me and all my friends who don’t understand the heavyweight stuff about, and what you really do is you blend psychology, behavioural science, marketing, and some other stuff into a, a stew, I guess.

[00:02:51] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. You could say that. Yeah. That’s good. I mean, I’m impressed that you read my whole autobiography.

[00:02:56] Duff Watkins: Um, I like your experience with drugs and alcohol. I thought Raj, he should have been born in the United States. I mean, he’s got US student written all over him.

[00:03:07] Raj Raghunathan: You know, back in the day when I was growing up in India, we did aspire to be kind of leading lives that we thought a lot of Americans would be leading, you know? So, we even had a name for people who managed to do it in our eyes, and they were called CATs.

And CAT translated into casual American teenager. We all want it to be casual American teenagers.

[00:03:32] Duff Watkins: Even. I was not one of those. And I was raised in that country.

[00:03:36] Lesson 1

[00:03:36] Duff Watkins: Let’s talk about some of your lessons, Uh, number one, small changes have big effects.

[00:03:42] Raj Raghunathan: yeah. So, this is actually from the book, the tipping point, many of these life lessons that I’m going to share that actually, quotes, so to speak from other people, that friend’s books, a tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell.

And he talks about this phenomenon where you keep doing something for a while and nothing seems to happen. And all of a sudden there’s a sudden change. Okay? All these small things that you were doing earlier, didn’t seem to amount to anything, and you might even be frustrated and be close to giving up.

But if you just continue on a little bit, you explode into the next kind of stage. There’s a discontinuous leap, so to speak. So, this happens across a variety do have different phenomenon in our life. If you look at learning how learning happens, how you become better at tennis, for example, you, you might, you know, fix your serve a little bit, you might become just a little bit faster by practicing a few of the drills. You might start dieting just to lose a little bit of weight. None of these together might amount to much, but all of these together put together, given time are the kind of ingredients in the recipe for success. And it’s very, very important to remember this because we might think that there is a silver bullet that’s going to come in and rescue us and take us to the next level, et cetera.

But it’s really these small changes that obviously need to be, they need to be positive changes, but these small changes that together accumulated over time that propel us into the next stage. And you can think about happiness being the same way. I teach a class on happiness. Obviously, my book is on happiness.

Some people often ask me, what’s the one thing that I need to do, right? And I tell them that I’m really sorry to disappoint you, but there isn’t a one thing that you can do. I think you can do a bunch of small things and each of these together might have a very small effect, but together over time, they’re going to significantly improve your happiness.

[00:05:23] Duff Watkins: When I read your comments, you know, what I thought about immediately was a comment by Lee Labrada, you know who Lee Labrada is?

[00:05:30] Raj Raghunathan: No, no, I don’t.

[00:05:31] Duff Watkins: I should hope not. He’s a professional bodybuilder. He’s an engineer. He won a scholarship to Northwestern university. That’s no mean feat ended up going back to Houston he’s from Texas.

And he’s also a successful businessperson. And people would ask him the same thing. What’s the one thing you have to do. What’s the one thing he said, it’s not one thing. It’s a constellation of many little things, and I’ve always remembered that. and we’re always looking for the one shortcut, really.

We know, just tell me one thing. I can dispense with the rest and, and your, your point just resonated with me about that. And if people would stop looking here for the one big thing and start doing all the little, tiny things and construct a constellation, good things happen so much faster.

[00:06:11] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely, yeah.

[00:06:12] Lesson 2

[00:06:12] Duff Watkins: Lesson number two, science and spirituality go together. Now, there is a lot of people who take umbrage.

[00:06:18] Raj Raghunathan: Great. I mean, and, uh, they may disagree. Right, but I do think that they go together and, what is science? Right? Science is the ability to understand at a deeper level cause effect relationships and to think logically and to think rationally and so on.

And often in science, what we want is proof that something works and ability to replicate the thing that works over time. So that over time we gain confidence and then we start to believe in it. Right. Um, if I, for example, switch the on button on my remote and the TV comes on and I do it 3, 4, 5, 10 times.

And every time the same thing happens, then I start to believe that the remote is a device that can operate the TV. Right. And can switch it on. So that’s how science works. And with spirituality, the idea is that, oftentimes, we, uh, in spirituality, the way that I define it, at least is, uh, this, this feeling that there is a more powerful source or power, behind things that I may or may not be able to fully understand. And I acknowledged that this the source might be, running life, quote unquote as we see it and there an intelligence that is, uh, perhaps bigger and more mysterious and more powerful. And what I mean by science and spirituality going together is that even if you apply the latest scientific tools in order to understand the universe and how we function, how our food gets digested and how we, you know, little things like I have a pain here in my right wrist, it turns out and I went to the doctor and I was actually kind of glad that he told me that we don’t fully understand what goes on here.

Right. And I think that most people would say that about their own fields. They may be experts and masters at it. Right. But they readily acknowledge that I am still a student. I don’t fully understand and so science takes you up to a point and it’s obviously very, very useful. But there’s a, there comes a point, I think, in every domain where you have to kind of surrender to it and say that look, I don’t fully understand this.

And, uh, in particular when I say science and spirituality go together, I can look at it at a very kind of mundane level, uh, and give you some support for it. And also, at a more metaphysical, abstract level at the mundane level. If you want to spread spirituality, right? If you want to, get people to be more willing to surrender, to, the power that, runs everything science provides you the medium to do that. Okay. We are talking over zoom, which has obviously, um, a technology that science has permitted, and it’s come into existence because of science. You can talk about other kinds of media like that television, et cetera, uh, microphones and so on.

And so, science is helping the spread of spirituality through providing opportunities and platforms for people to do that. That’s at the mundane level and at the more metaphysical level, which is where I think it gets interesting is that I talked some time back about this idea that in science, we want to see evidence before we end up having the belief or the faith in spirituality.

Uh, it says often that have the faith, have the belief, and then you’ll start to see the evidence. Right. And it turns out that science actually shows that that’s true. If you think about placebo effects, it’s all about that. The more you have faith that a particular drug or a procedure or medical procedure is going to cure you the higher, the chances that you’re going to see that to be true.

And so, in other words science says, show me the objective proof and I should change my subjective beliefs. And spirituality says that um, have the subject of belief and I’ll show you the objective proof and scientifically it’s possible to support that spiritual statement, that if you have subjective beliefs, you’re going to see objective proof.

Now it’s not going to happen in every single domain, no matter how hard I wish that there were two moons rotating the earth. I’m not going to see two months and unless I get really drunk or something, right there’s only going to be one moon, but there are many, many, many domains in which this is true.

You know, Henry Ford has had this quote, right? He said that whether you think you’re going to succeed, or you think you’re going to fail, you’re absolutely right. Whether you think you’re going to succeed, or you think you’re going to fail, you’re absolutely right. And that very much captures the spirit of the placebo effect, across not just medical domains, but beyond it in terms of his success, in terms of a confidence in terms of your relationships and so on.

And so, I actually think that people are doing themselves a little bit of disservice by assuming that science and spirituality don’t go together. When in fact they go hand in hand and can beautifully support each other.

[00:10:47] Duff Watkins: The psychological evidence for a lot of the power of mindset has been provided by Ellen Langer in her experiments.

She too has been a guest on this show by the way. And she’d be one of them.

[00:10:59] Raj Raghunathan: I’m a big fan of her work.

[00:11:01] Duff Watkins: Well, yeah, I mean, as I am and a lot of people may not know her, but she’s probably one of the more quoted psychologist period. Yeah. And she talks a lot about the power of mindset. I mean, not just talk, she documents it. She pretty much, as I said to her, she’s the one who helped cause it to be shifted from new age fringe, to mainstream normal medicine.

That aside, back to your point. What would you consider to be spirituality? And I, and I know I read something somewhere where for you, correct me if I get this wrong, but for you, it’s all about the attainment of enlightenment, a kind of an ongoing state of bliss. And I thought, man, that sounds good. I can’t wait to hear what Raj, tell me how to get there.

So please enlighten me.

[00:11:46] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So that is maybe the end goal of a spiritual path, but spirituality itself, like I said, sometime back is the openness to the idea that we don’t fully understand everything. And the acknowledgement that there is an intelligence that’s turning everything and call it God, call it nature, call it…

I like this quote by another guy, kind of a Swami from India, Guru from India. And he said that we are the creator, and we are the creation. We are the creator and the creation. So, God is not separate from us. Right? And I liked that. I kind of buy into that idea. Spirituality is really about that, that, you know, we don’t know anything, just an acknowledgement of the truth, really.

And so, there’s an openness to accepting that we may not even know everything, um, at least through our mind. And there may be other ways of knowing things through our intuition, through our experiences. And that is what I mean by spirituality. I don’t mean it in any, anything more than that, you don’t have to believe in a particular God or, subscribe to a particular set of traditions or anything like that, just that willingness and open-hearted embrace of everything that life has to offer.

Um, and an acknowledgement that there may be a more mysterious and bigger force behind things. And if you do operate from that belief that you do not know everything and that there may be a deeper reality that you can’t really sense only through your senses or through your kind of power of thinking and the irrational, uh, paradigm, then it really opens you up to so many unique experiences.

And of course, you can take advantage of some of the mind-expanding substances that uh, nature provides, right. Uh, I’ve talked a little bit about it in my biography, as you know, but you know, there’s some that I haven’t tried that I’m very eager to and excited about, uh, like Iowasca right.

which many people say is the mother of it all because you know, it really does strip out the ego in a way that the others don’t.

And so, you’re in direct contact with the source of creation at some level, and it’s very difficult to articulate what you experienced through just words, but through your experiences, you get to, realize that the truth is far more mysterious and strange. Um, then you could ever have imagined, I really liked this book by the way, by Michael Poland.

I don’t know if you’ve come across it.

[00:13:54] Duff Watkins: Yes, I have beyond “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is the one that I enjoy.

[00:13:58] Raj Raghunathan: Right. So that’s on food. He mostly writes and food, but his latest book is, “How to Change Your Mind”, how to change your mind.

I think it’s the name of the book, how to change your mind. And so, it’s all about his experiences with these kinds of things.

[00:14:10] Lesson 3

[00:14:10] Duff Watkins: Okay. That takes us to point number three. We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.

There’s that love creeping in there again, Raj.

[00:14:23] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. That’s, a quote by I’m only paraphrasing it. It’s not an exact quote I believe, but it’s, by Mother Teresa. And she was talking about how in the context of, altruism even, and generosity and pro-social behaviours, sometimes the ego creeps into the picture.

Right. And you want to be the biggest altruist there ever was look at me, giving away, you know, can you think of a more magnanimous person than me? And even when people try to give anonymously, it’s with this kind of inner pride that I’ve given so much, and people don’t even know that I’ve been giving, if only they will discover that I was giving and maybe they will, after my death, uh, they’ll realize, oh my goodness, what a great soul this person was.

Right? And that, Play of the ego, is very subtle and subversive, but it happens across many different domains too, including meditation sometimes. So, the whole point of meditation is to get beyond the ego at some level. Well, I shouldn’t say the whole point, but it’s certainly a very, very important aspect of it.

And yet, you know, sometimes you see people walking out of meditation sessions beatifical, smile, plastered on their face with, you know, very peaceful looking eyes oh that was awesome. How was it for you? You know, um, again, you know, kind of subtly signalling to the other person that I really cracked it on this meditation session.

I hope you did half as good as I did. You know, I’m closer to God or something. And so  what I take from this quote is that, it’s not as important to necessarily achieve a lot of, positive change in the world and be acknowledged for it and put up on a pedestal and, and so on, and it’s not even clear what that would be because you know, everything that we do has such a big set of ripple, downstream consequences that I think philosophically it’s impossible to figure out, you know, what’s truly a sustainable, good act verses not.

And so, if you just focus on your intentions, to, to be an act of generosity and, do it with as much love as you can, without really worrying about, you know, how big or small of an impact you’re having. I really liked that idea. I think it’s at once, exhibits a sense of humility and wisdom, uh, at a very deep level.

[00:16:28] Duff Watkins: I have to laugh. I studied with Henri Nouwen the Dutch theologian, and he said when he was in the monastery, the, uh, the monks would compete to see who’s fasting the most. Who’s got the thinnest wrist. We just can’t get away from it.

Here’s my favorited example. I love to loathe. In Australia to have the CEO sleep out where the CEO sleeps rough for one night and takes a thousand selfies and tries to raise money.

And I go ballistic every time because I always thought charity was supposed to be on secretive, private, not a corporate sponsorship opportunity. You know, I must have missed that memo anyway, disgusts me do I rant about on LinkedIn every year. Yes, I do, Raj. So

[00:17:16] Lesson 4

[00:17:16] Duff Watkins: Alright. Point number four, this is interesting to me.

Nurture trust in life. Trust doesn’t come easy for some people.

[00:17:23] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah, and we are, I, we have some studies that show that we are kind of cynics by nature. And there’s different, ways in which the cynicism is manifested, but underlying that cynicism is what’s called negativity bias. So, if there are 10 different things in your environment and nine of them are positive things, and one of them is negative.

Our mind under our attention tends to go to that negative thing. And that’s the negativity bias and action. And that one thing is going to have a greater psychological impact on you. Then all the nine other things combined sometimes, you know, let’s say somebody listens to this podcast and nine people write to me saying great podcast loved it and one guy says, you know, this was BS, right? That’s a, you see that on your YouTube channel that, you know, they have like 3,500 likes and like, you know, um, maybe 500 dislikes, but then you wonder who are these people who dislike me more than what these people are like me. So, it’s manifested in different ways, and it’s also manifested in distrust in life. And that in turn has two components to it. One is because we are human beings. We really cared a lot about other human beings and distrust in life, translates into, distrusting other people, right. Or we tend to think that strangers, you know, cannot be trusted this stranger danger kind of an idea of when it comes to kids, that if I lose something in public, like my wallet, good luck and I’m not going to find it.

And so on. And what a lot of research shows is that actually people are much, much more trustworthy than the typical average person gives them credit. They’re more friendly, they’re more caring, they’re more compassionate. They have your back and you can rely on them to help you out in most situations. And if you extend it to life, what this means is that, rather than thinking that if there’s some way in which life can screw you over, it will, which is kind of like Murphy’s law.

It’s actually the opposite of it, that if there’s some way in which life can figure out a way to help you out, like, you know, finding life on a kind of a, concrete jungle, there’s a little plant that somehow butts its head out from a crack in the concrete, right. Uh, and to show you a sign of life. Life is like that; it will somehow find a way to boost you up and prop you up if you really need that.

And so, what appears to be negative, challenging and overwhelming situations actually have in them seeds of, opportunities and progress and upliftment and meaning. And it’s kind of up to you to decide which part you want to focus on. You want to focus on the fact that it’s overwhelming and it’s aiming to screw you over, or you want to focus on the part that has to do with the growth and the opportunity and the learning.

And we talked a little bit about placebo effects earlier, and I think that if you have trust in life, you’re going to see a lot of evidence for it. If you have distrust in life, you’re going to see a lot of evidence for it as well. So scientifically, you’re going to see evidence for both. The question is which of these is more productive for you.

And I’d say that if you go with trust in life, you’re not just going to be happier. You’re also going to be more successful and not any less scientific. So might as well go with it.

[00:20:21] Duff Watkins: And on the placebo effect, it’s vastly under. Rated underrepresented. A lot of people think it’s about 30%, but based on my reading of Herbert Benson, it’s been closer to 70%.

And so again, the point being how powerful the mind is, how you frame things, makes the world of difference. And I guess we should point out one reason why people are suspicious of others. There is a reptilian part of our brain the first bit. I mean, that’s the bit that’s kept us alive. So, I always like to pay respect to that bit that is wary of strangers and says, think about it, you know, don’t get up on that ladder old guy or, you know, stuff like that.

[00:20:59] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah, absolutely. And I do think that it brings up a very, very good point. The negativity bias hide it’s used, particularly in our evolutionary past when survival was the name of the game, right? I mean, there’s so many dangers around us that it’s those people with the negativity bias that survived, and the rules of the game have changed now.

Okay, look around you. I don’t think a lot of people are actually literally fighting for survival on everyday basis, right? There’s no lions and tigers waiting on corners to devour them. There are no marauding tribes that are waiting to steal your, you know, grains and so on. And so right now, our goal is not so much, surviving.

It’s thriving. Okay. It’s thriving. The rules of the game have changed in evolutionary sense for a very, very long time. Our, our aim was to merely survive, and now mere survival is no longer in question. Okay. We’re not going to die. And yet, because the vestiges of our ancestors are still in us. And those who survived had a negativity bias.

So, we still have the negativity bias, even though it’s counterproductive for us right now. And so, I’m not saying that abandoned it completely and adopt a positivity bias anyway, even if you try to think it would be very, very tough to do that. I think what we can manage to do though, is to kind of swing the pendulum a little bit away from the negativity bias toward positivity and perhaps achieve some level of neutrality, such that if five people congratulate us and tell us great job, right?

And five people say thumbs down, we feed that, that overall went, okay. It didn’t go terribly. Right. Relative and reality for most of us in five people or out of 10 people say thumbs down, it’d be devastating for us. Okay. So that’s what I’m talking about.

[00:22:32] Duff Watkins: When you are talking about the kindness of strangers. I, I want to say two examples twice.

I have lost my passport. It’s been stolen overseas in countries where they don’t speak English. both times it has returned to me through a circuitous route involving the kindness of multiple strangers. And I haven’t gotten it back. I lost it one time in an airport in the U S and the pilot returned it to me.

It’s not a passport Raj. It’s a boomerang. I can’t, I can’t get rid of the damn thing. It keeps coming back to me. It’s quite amazing. And it’s things like that, which give me succour because when you get down, when you feel jaded, when you feel, people are lousy, they stink. And there is so much to say about the kindness of strangers and why I think your point is when you nurture this trust in life, you are the beneficiary. You.

[00:23:20] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a great point. Yeah. So that, I think it’s very, very important to emphasize your, that it is actually a strategically, if you want to think about it, that way. A good move to start trusting life. You’re not doing life a favour. You’re doing yourself a favour.

[00:23:35] Lesson 5

[00:23:35] Duff Watkins: Point number five. There is a big difference between mind attention and bare attention. Okay.

[00:23:42] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So, this is in the context of mindfulness and meditation and mindfulness practice. Oftentimes people sit down, or even only hear about what mindfulness is all about. And they say that this can’t work.

I mean, this is a waste of time, right? What, I just sit there, observing my breath. What am I going to learn from it? I have so many other useful things to do. And even those who actually try to do that end up thinking that it absolutely did not deliver at all because, you know, I was very stressed out about a meeting and I thought that I’d sit down and practice mindfulness and people telling me it’s going to destress me, and I’m going to feel calmer.

But if anything, I’m all the more riled up now. And not just that, I’ve also lost time that I could have devoted to that preparing for the meeting or what have you. And I think the reason why that happens is because they haven’t really understood the difference between mind attention and bare attention. And it’s understandable why people often don’t know the difference, right. When we say pay attention to something, oftentimes we mean mind attention in real world, right? When you say pay attention to that problem or pay attention to this movie, you know, register everything that’s going on we are asking them to kind of think about what’s going on and to analyse it and come to conclusions about it.

And so on. Whereas in mindfulness, the idea is even though it’s called mindfulness, right? It’s a bit of a misnomer at some level. The idea is not to be mind attention to it, not to categorize it, not to comment on it, not to evaluate it, whatever it is that you’re observing, but to pay bare attention. And bare attention is not badly being attention is being attention without the accompaniment of the mind without, and it’s difficult to do, right?

So, the, uh, the attempt is the intention is to not comment on it, not evaluated, not judge it, uh, not to have any kinds of value judgements on it and so on, but to pay attention to the thing in a pre-cognitive way. Okay almost like a child, Doesn’t have concepts, uh, to be able to look at a tree and see that’s the tree.

And so just look at it as this thing, right? That’s that in front of me. And so, if you’ve managed to do that, even if only for fleetingly, small moments of time, and you’ll become better at it over time and stitch together longer and longer periods of paying bare attention to something, then you start to recognize some beautiful truths.

Such as, everything is impermanent. This is one of the kind of fundamental truths in Buddhism that everything changes all the time. And there’s no sense of permanence to anything. And, that things that are giving you a lot of anxiety and stress, when you start to pay bare attention to that anxiety, which means not thinking about the thing that made you anxious, not coming conclusions about what might be the solution to that anxiety, but just paying attention to the effect that this phenomenon that my mind is labelling anxiety is having on various parts of my body.

When you start to experientially, understand that your heartbeat’s a little bit faster, you start to experientially connect through your senses that you’re slightly damp hands and so on. When you do that, then you start to actually experience something beautiful, which is that the anxiety lasts far shorter than it otherwise would if you were to pay bare attention to it or to ignore it even.

And that everything that happens is beautiful. Even the negative things, so-called negative, things are beautiful. And so, I like this kind of, mental imagery of two knobs, almost like, uh, you know, back in the day they used to be these radios, right? With volume knob and the knob to pick the channel.

So, the two knobs and what are the knobs is the knob of how positive or negative it is, right? The intensity of positivity or negativity and the other knob is curiosity and so bare attention, what you’re doing is you’re turning up the curiosity knob, But in a very expediential way, not in a mind way, whereas when you’re paying mind attention to things, what it does end up doing is that it turns up the intensity of the emotions knob, which can be really bad if you’re going through a negative patch.

Right. Uh, and so that’s the difference between the two. And I think it’s very, very important to understand this difference. of course, if you want to practice mindfulness, but even beyond it, even to somebody who’s not practicing mindfulness.

[00:27:43] Duff Watkins: So, let’s see if I understand. So, if I bring mind attention to something.

I’m going to bring my opinions, my preconceptions, my prejudices, I’m going to bring it all. And I’m going to have this experience. But what you’re suggesting is bare B A R E bare attention, simply a monitoring without preconceptions, just a monitoring of what is actually occurring or what appears to be and that’s experiential.

[00:28:08] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely. Yeah. The only small kind of, quibble I would have with the way that you, characterized it is that it’s not necessarily that mind attention is always prejudiced and is full of preconceptions.

I do think that technically you’re probably right. That it will be very difficult to not have preconceptions. Any thought is coming uh, with some preconceptions and baggage around it, but in the way that we think about preconceptions, how we define it, how we understand it, there is a assumption of a bias there, uh, et cetera.

So, it doesn’t need to be the case. And so, somebody like a DaVinci or somebody like an Einstein could look at something and think about it and come up with entirely new ways of looking at things that, therefore, obviously imply that there wasn’t a whole lot of preconception going on, but even that would be mind attention.

So, I’m, I’m talking about bare attention as a way of understanding things and paying attention to things and observing things that doesn’t involve the mind it has to do with the pre-cognitive, sensory appreciation or understanding of things. So, it’s very much a sensory thing just being in your body.

[00:29:10] Duff Watkins: So is it like. Psychologist, a hypnotherapist. He, one of the things that he says when he’s giving and ducting and trances, don’t try to make anything happen. Don’t try to stop anything from happening. It’s that sort of neutral, it’s not doing it’s non-doing, I guess. And the closer you get to that, the more that is bare attention.

Is that closer to what you’re saying?

[00:29:30] Raj Raghunathan: Yes, I, I think absolutely. Right. So not doing anything for sure, but also doing something at a more passive level. I mean, it’s not as if you’re in coma, right? You are observing. So, another concept here that really is very useful here to understand is that of consciousness.

 it’s a word that, often is misunderstood and people maybe have different understandings of what that word is, the way that I’m referring to it here is the fact that we are aware of things, That is consciousness, and you could be aware of something. Through your mind and you can tell yourself that look right now, I’m in this wonderful interview and I’m aware of it.

But even before you, you come up with words to describe what you’re aware of, that is the fact that you are aware, right you know, so some people use this kind of, uh, physical metaphor to represent consciousness, which is a mirror, a mirror. It doesn’t have any content of its own, so to speak, but it reflects everything around it.

And so, consciousness is like that. I mean, it’s just doesn’t have any content of its own. It’s just pure awareness. And once you recognize that there is a such a thing as consciousness, just pure awareness without any content of its own, the idea in bare attention is to look at things from the perspective of that consciousness.

And again, I mean, we’re trying to describe an experience through words and that’s always a tough thing to do, but the idea is to get, get merged with consciousness

[00:30:54] Duff Watkins: that’s what I’m just about to say, you know what, when you’re there, you feel it and it feels good and, in your aware of your body, but you’re not quite in it really, it seems like it’s maybe somebody else’s body and it’s, so we’re trying to describe that. And then on this, others have I’m sure have, have done a better job, but not us, but it’s something to be experienced, not to be talked about.

I guess that’s the bare attention we’re discussing.

[00:31:18] Lesson 6

[00:31:18] Duff Watkins: Okay. Lesson number six, you can’t be happy without a healthy lifestyle. Now we’re talking Raj now we’re talking.

[00:31:26] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. Talk about going from all the way from consciousness to something so down to word as your body and, leading a healthy lifestyle. So earlier I told you how, when people ask me, what’s the one thing that I can do to improve my happiness.

I tell them there’s no such one thing. Okay. So, I’m going to go back a little bit on those words now and say that, okay. That is this one thing that I think is, is non-negotiable, it’s indispensable and that is that you need to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you want to be happy, it won’t improve your happiness right away.

But the more you do it, the more you’re going to see yourself uplifted in terms of your emotional life and at a very intuitive level. I mean, it makes complete sense, right? If you aren’t oozing health at a cellular level and you’re not feeling good and physically healthy. Okay, there’s really very little chance at an emotional and mental level you’re going to do all that well. Okay. And I’m going to backtrack on that comment a little bit when we talk about the next lesson, by the way. Okay. So, there’s a bunch of seemingly internally contradictory messages. But I do think that for most people in the world, the first and very, very important step that they need to take in order to lead a happy life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

And what I mean by that is eating well. Right. And we know by, and large, what that is, even though there’s some confusion about what’s good and what’s not, uh,

[00:32:47] Duff Watkins: not really, not, if not, if you really want not, if you not, if you have access to the internet or the television or printed media, there’s no confusion, but yes, go ahead.

[00:32:57] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. I mean, so be kind of outrageous, maybe, you know, some people think that meat is bad for you and other people think that, well, you know that actually you’re not actually very good for you and so on. So, but processed food is bad. Too much. Salt is bad, too much. Sugar is bad. You know, those kinds of things going on too much, too many simple carbohydrates are bad.

You know, smoking is bad, drinking too much is bad. So, we have, lots of evidence. And I think that most people would agree with these statements that I just made about what things or things are bad for you. Fruits and vegetables are good, not processed. Food is good, you know, and things like, so.

Sleeping better. Right. And moving more. And by the way, eat, move. Sleep is the name of a book by a guy called Tom Rath. That I really like it as 30 2- or 3-page chapter. So, it’s a very quick and easy to read with each chapter being self-sufficient.

And he talks about all of this evidence about how to lead a better, more healthy lifestyle. And 10 chapters are devoted to eating 10 chapters to sleeping and 10 chapters to exercising. And so, if you do these three things then you’re going to lead a healthy lifestyle. And of course, like I said, sometime back, you’re not going to see these effects immediately.

So back to the very first lesson, small changes have big effects. So just make a few small changes in each of these categories. And within, I’d say six months, for sure it may not even take that long. You’re going to see a significant boost in your happiness levels.

[00:34:14] Duff Watkins: Yeah. Uh, you eight to 12 weeks, you can find a measurable discernible, look in the mirror, see the difference, based on my, from my experience, but yeah, eat, move, sleep.

Now those are three things that pretty much everybody does anyway. I mean, you’re going to eat, move and sleep. So

[00:34:30] Raj Raghunathan: some people don’t move as much.

[00:34:33] Duff Watkins: Well, so why not do each a little bit better?

[00:34:35] Lesson 7

[00:34:35] Duff Watkins: all right. Lesson number seven. Let’s fill in the blank here, Raj, the single most important thing you can do to enhance your happiness is blank.

[00:34:44] Raj Raghunathan: To nurture an abundance mindset.

 Yeah, uh, nurture a healthy lifestyle. I talked about nurturing trust in life, uh, et cetera. And so, you know, as I mentioned, just a couple of minutes ago that I’m going to backtrack on what I said in the earlier point and there I made it sound as if healthy lifestyle is the most important thing, but here I want to claim that the abundance mindset is the most important thing.

And for most people, I think that leading a healthy lifestyle is a kind of prerequisite to arrive at a point to understand that that alone isn’t going to cut it. What’s very, very important is to change the lens through which you view the world. And that lens is going to be coloured by the mindset that you have.

And I characterize, for the sake of convenience, mindset says as coming in two main varieties, this scarcity mindset and people have a scarcity mindset. Believe that life is a zero-sum game at some very, very deep level. They believe that that for me to win, somebody else has to lose. And because they have a very strong belief in that ideology, they tend to be more distrusting of other people.

They tend to be more vigilant. They tend to be greedy or hoarding mentality. They operate basically from a self-centred perspective and by self-centred, I don’t necessarily mean that they will only worry about themselves, but they can only worry about themselves and their immediate kin and the people that they really love.

Right. But it doesn’t extend beyond it. By contrast an abundance mindset person believes that everybody can win. And in fact, that’s the only way in which we can all win. That we all coexist in this, you know, I saw this cartoon a while back where, you know, the boat is sinking and there are a couple of people sitting on one edge of the boat and the, um, they just commenting on the people at the other end of the boat.

And at the other end, people are frantically trying to scoop out the water and pull it out, put it out. And these guys on this end are saying, thank goodness that hole is not at our end. You know,

so, uh, yeah, we’re all in this together. You know, we all come from the same source we’re headed in the same, you know, to the same eventual. Um, uh, “denouement” is that a word?

[00:36:56] Duff Watkins: Yeah, we’re all in the same taxi heading to the same destination, what it really comes down to.

[00:37:02] Raj Raghunathan: Right. So, if you nurture an abundance mind set a person with an abundance mind set feels that everybody can win.

 Then you start to kind of see life in an entirely different fashion. You’re now looking at life through rose-tinted glasses, so to speak, but not in a delusional way, as opposed to jaundice set of glasses. And you start to discover many truths such as that, helping other people out is a huge source of happiness for yourself and being a giver.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Adam Grant and his book give and take, uh,

[00:37:35] Duff Watkins: the New York times, many years now.

[00:37:38] Raj Raghunathan: Exactly. That givers are more likely to succeed even, right. One of the worries that a scarcity minded person might have about adopting an abundance mindset is that that’s going to lower my chances of succeeding because the truth is life is, a zero-sum game.

But once you discovered that that’s not true, that you actually have a higher chance of success, even in conventional terms, in terms of being promoted in terms of getting a higher salary and so on, being a giver, being an abundance minded person is better for you. Then they start to, um, maybe, you know, thaw little bit and strategically entertain the idea of adopting the abundance mindset. It is by far the most important thing for your happiness.

[00:38:17] Duff Watkins: And let’s clarify too. I mean, we’re not talking about some sort of Panglossian, silly ass, stick your head up your ass, pretending that the world is abundant.

 If I understand your correctly, we’re talking about really recognizing the fact that it is a world of abundance. There’s more than enough money. There’s more than enough food. There’s more than a name. It there’s more than enough of it already in existence.

[00:38:42] Raj Raghunathan: Right. I mean, I think you can say it in that way. I’d also like to add here that if you make it more personal, more than enough of all these things in existence is one way of putting it, but a better way of putting it in my opinion is more than enough that I have access to. Okay. When you start to think that there’s more than enough in the world, then you might start to behave in a fashion that’s not necessarily good. So, you might say, you know what? I there’s more than enough goodies in the environment. Let me just burn it up. There’s more than enough, fossil fuel, let me just burn it up. That’s not the idea. The idea is that me personally speaking, I’ve been blessed with more than enough of all the good things.

Let me not crave and you know, want more and be greedy for more. There may be other people who don’t have enough and I’m going to be an agent of kindness for them and make sure that they get enough. But as far as I am concerned, My life is filled with abundance. So that’s the idea that I’m an overflowing cup rather than the earth itself is

[00:39:36] Duff Watkins: So, the abundance is what I have access to abundance. You reminded me of it years ago, I knew a guy who was a, a street minister, which means he was one step above homeless, and we were talking about money, and he said, well, I have more than I need. So, I guess I’m living in abundance. And I thought to myself, you know, you got, you got four fifths of nothing from what I can tell, but, but he had more than he needed for what he was doing.

 That’s always has stuck with me for decades now. I mean, if I have more than I need, and if I have more than I can use at this particular moment, then that’s enough. So, w we are living in a world of abundance, and we have access to it all the time.

[00:40:13] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely.

[00:40:14] Lesson 8

[00:40:14] Duff Watkins: Point to number eight, be discerning, not judgemental. Raj, why didn’t you tell me this 40 years ago, I could have benefited from hearing that.

[00:40:24] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So, the idea here is that The big difference between discerning being discerning and judgmental. And I think it’s beautiful to, to kind of delve into the subtleties of these words, is that discerning the way that I see it as more of a horizontal differentiation ability, the ability to detect that somebody is very good at, music and somebody else is very good in sports and somebody else is very good as a manager.

And so on. Judgemental has to do with seeing differences along the vertical dimension that somebody is above somebody else or below somebody else. And I think that when we aspire to live in a world in which, people are respected and, people are appreciated for who they are, and that people are made to feel happy.

There’s a danger that in the quest to be nonjudgmental so that people can be happy and be respected and so on. We throw away the baby with the bath water, so to speak, the bath water is being judgmental, and the baby is being discerning. And so, we say everybody gets a prize in every day. You know, we see a little bit of that phenomenon going on in the United States for a while now, maybe catching up in other countries as well, where kids are treated with kid’s gloves, so to speak.

It’s not necessarily a good thing for them because they grew up thinking that I’m just as good as anybody else in anything. Right. And then they face up to the harsh reality of life, which is that they aren’t right. And so, the, I think the answer to this dilemma is to be discerning but not judgmental.

And so, what that means is that you can be the people that, you know, this person is better at singing or music than this person. Who’s better at sports than this person who’s better at something else. But, even if you’re not good at any of these things, it doesn’t mean that you as a human being are of lower worth or value to me.

Okay. And the reason why you’re not of lower worth of value to me is because, you are a human being. And so as human being, you already, you know, deserve the respect. And also, there is a understanding that I think is very, very helpful here that goes with this, which is that everybody at some level has a very, very important talent.

And sometimes we don’t unearth that talent because of lack of opportunity or lack of luck or whatever. Right. But I’m a huge subscriber to this idea of what’s called multiple intelligence theory that everybody is gifted in some way or another. And, uh, just because we don’t see what that gift is does not mean that they are not gifted under the right circumstances with the right set of inputs and nurture, those gifts are going to manifest themselves.

And so, as a leader, as the teacher, as a parent, et cetera, the onus is a little bit on us to figure out what are the ways in which different people are talented? And so, by being discerning and not judgmental, you’re starting out with the assumption that everybody’s talented and everybody’s got a gift.

Uh, and so there’s no point judging somebody as higher or lower than somebody else. But the, the onus is now on you to kind of, to unearth that talent for somebody else. And, um, on top of that, if you can kind of combine it with this ability to be discerning, then you’re actually, you’ve got the best of both worlds.

So not only are you capable now of identifying the best people, people for different jobs, if you want to build a bridge, you know, you get the person who’s best at it. If you want to throw a party, you get the best person for it. If you want somebody to sing the national Anthem at a important function, you get the best person for it, rather than telling, okay, you know, anybody can do this.

So, everybody’s a winner. So just, just pick randomly, right? I think that’s the idea here is to be discerning. And so, you can kind of figure it out. Who’s good at what without, making people feel worse or, bad by being judgmental.

[00:44:07] Duff Watkins: and that leads us to the next point. I know you’ve written a lot about, feedback, the importance of feedback, and you’ve from your own personal experience.

[00:44:14] Lesson 9

[00:44:14] Duff Watkins: Point number nine, the five to one ratio for feedback quoting she’s a Brazilian psychologist, Marcial Losada, I believe is her name

[00:44:24] Raj Raghunathan: Losada. Yeah. I believe that Chilean actually and it’s a guy. And, this person partnered with, Barbara Frederickson who’s a really big figure in the positive psychology domain. And they came up with, this ratio of three to one in the context of your personal life that, we talked about negativity bias earlier.

Uh, and this has to do a little bit with that idea that because we notice negative things more and negative things tend to have a bigger, psychological impact on us. The scar that they leave is big. We need to offset that negativity bias with, positivity, just by sheer quantity of positive things.

And so, if we have a negative thing happened to you, let’s say that you opened your wallet, they expect a $10 to be there. There’s nothing in there. The negative psychological impact that that loss of $10 is going to cause to you for you now to feel. Above, unambiguously above neutral. You need to earn $30.

So, three to one ratio, they call it. The Losada ratio three to one ratio. You need three times as many positive things happening in your life. As you’ve had negative things happen, for you to be unambiguously in the positive territory. Okay. And that’s, as far as life itself is concerned, but when it comes to our relationships, the ratios arguably even more extreme, that’s five to one.

And there’s a lot of work, not just by, positive psychologists, but also by people like John Gottman, who does a lot of work in relationships and trust and so on. And what they discover is that, when somebody does something negative to you. You obviously have a negative impression of them for you to start to feel positive about them now, they need to make up for it five times over. So, imagine that your wife told you Duff, that, okay, let’s go, or two party, right? and I’ll meet you at 8:00 PM at this place and she stands you up and she’s 15 minutes late. Now. She needs to come early. Okay. Or on time, at least five times before you’re able to psychologically erase the negative effect of that one time of coming late.

[00:46:25] Duff Watkins: First of all, you haven’t met my wife and that ain’t going to happen, you know, but I get the point we’re talking theory here. Yes. Okay.

[00:46:34] Raj Raghunathan: If you’re talking theory here. Yeah. So, there’s different cultures with different time perceptions, I guess. Yeah. So, and this is super important, in life in general, but particularly in feedback and giving why, because what it said is, is that when you give people constructive feedback, let’s say in a work context that somebody is not doing something right.

And, you know, they were just to change this one thing. They would start to deliver much higher quality work. Okay. You want to give this constructive feedback, but of course, you know that People don’t like to hear negative things because you know, it just makes them feel bad right? Now, what you might do then as a leader is to call them into your office and tell them, Hey, you know, you always begin your presentation with a joke and you seem to be like really, really keen on doing it.

And sometimes it just seems forced, you know? And so, you’d be a much more effective presenter if you abandoned that idea that you have to always start with the joke, right? I’m just giving you an example and you want to give that feedback and you call them into the office and you tell them, Hey, you know, I really loved what you’re wearing, you know, what you were wearing yesterday at the presentation, right?

So, this is called the sandwich method, start out with a positive thing, and then you deliver the punch. Okay. And then you end with, you know, in a great job, right? I mean, overall, you’re doing great or what have you. So that’s called the sandwich method and it turns out that doesn’t really work. Okay. And what this suggests is that if, instead of doing that, you just cut to the chase, and he gives them the feedback that you really wanted to give.

But. It’s not as if you’re always only delivering negative feedback. That’s also the important part. Right? So, abandoning the sandwich method does not mean that you get to be a, an a-hole all the time. Right? So, what it means is that the way that you’re going to now give feedback is to be genuinely appreciative of people when they do good things all the time as a human being.

That’s your personality now that not only do you notice positive things about other people, but you actually communicated to them. Yeah. Even if it’s only small things like, you know, you appreciated the fact that somebody stayed back 15 extra minutes for a meeting, even though, um, as far as they were concerned, it was done.

Right. Just shoot them an email right. After the meeting saying that I really appreciated that. Without expecting anything in return without having something negative to deliver right after it. So, what are you doing as you go through life as you’re accumulating a bank of positives in other people’s accounts.

Okay. And so that when the time comes as it inevitably does, where you have to give them some constructive negative feedback. It’s not artificial that, you know, you’re not doing it in a sandwich muttered, and they know that you’re the kind of guy who’s generally very, very positive. And so, they know that you’re not being mean you’re not being an asshole, you’re just being authentic.

And so that negative feedback lands where it needs to, and people actually take it seriously. And they actually make changes that you want them to make. So that’s the idea here.

[00:49:21] Duff Watkins: Now that five to one ratio may seem rather daunting to some people. So, my own personal suggestion is, if it’s too daunting, start with 3, 2, 1, start with four to one, work your way up to five.

I mean, you know, five, I find a little difficult. I got to say, you know, I’ve got to find five good things before I tell my guy, you know, start sweating. But yeah, it can be a little difficult, but the good thing about having to think about it is exactly that it stops you to, you have to think about it. And then you say, well, really, maybe I don’t need to say anything at all.

And you, you seize the opportunity to shut the hell up, which is, which is always good advice. I have discovered.

[00:50:01] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. absolutely. And it shouldn’t really be daunting. Uh, it is only daunting if you feel like you’re the kind of person who A doesn’t notice positive things about other people or B doesn’t communicate it once you become that kind of a person.

And again, the idea here is not to get, become inauthentic. But authentically the truth is that everybody’s doing lots of positive things all the time. And so, it’s a matter of just noticing it and actually making it a point to articulate it. Right. It could be the way that they presented the salad or the fact that they did the dishes without them, it being their turn to do the dishes now or, or what have you, you know, uh, so little things, if you just dribble lots of positives in everybody’s life, as you go along, then you don’t even need to remember this five to one ratio because chances are that you’ll have far exceeded that ratio.

[00:50:49] Duff Watkins: Yeah. Very good. Good point. Good point.

[00:50:50] Lesson 10

[00:50:50] Duff Watkins: Well point number 10. Happiness is functional.

[00:50:55] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So let me end with this. I think that at some level, this could have been the number one thing, but it’s good to end on a bang.

And the idea here is that a lot of people think about happiness as a desirable goal. And when he asked them, why do you think it’s a desirable goal? They usually don’t have a really good answer to it. They just say, just because, you know, I like to be happy. And, at some level that’s a totally acceptable answer.

Because it’s almost axiomatic, right? That happiness should be important to us. We were kind of programmed to be happy if you will, or to seek, seek happiness. Um, but what’s really interesting is that, not only does happiness make you feel good, right? By definition, happiness is a feel-good state.

It’s also useful to be happy, happier people live longer. Happier people enjoy better relationships with other people and happier people are more productive and more profitable and to make a higher amount of money, right? The happiest quintile, the happiest 20% of the world on average, make about 30% more salary than the least happy quintile.

Okay. And this is not that success is making them happy. So, it’s not the, that direction of causality. We know that it’s happiness leading to success and to higher incomes because of studies that measure happiness first and then see how much they earn later on in their life. And so, happiness is in other words, functional happiness is useful.

Happiness is practical. One thing that is stopping you from prioritizing your happiness in your life is that, Hey, you know what? I will end up, um, giving priority to happiness. Once I’ve achieved all my life goals. And once I’ve kind of hit all these targets that I have for myself in terms of my degrees and, you know, buying a house and settling down and so on and so forth.

If you were to kind of actually reverse that direction of causality and tell yourself that look, those things can wait, let me prioritize happiness first. You’ll actually achieve those targets you have a little bit faster than you otherwise might have. Why? Because when you’re happier and you prioritize happiness and you become happy.

You’re going to show up for work more often because you feel healthy on the inside. You’re going to be better in teams because you’re better at relationships. People are going to promote you therefore, and you’ve got to be more objective. Some of my own work shows that that happy people are more objective.

You’re going to be more creative. A lot of the work by, Alice Isen and Barbara Fredrickson, who I mentioned sometime back show that happier people are more creative. And so, in other words, happiness is not something that’s a luxury that we need to start to prioritize once all the quote-unquote necessities that achieved in our life.

And it’s actually at some level, the most basic thing that we need, which actually promotes our chances of achieving these so-called necessities in our lives. So, I think just having that Mindshift on how important happiness is for this reason can have a huge effect in terms of the kinds of decisions that you make in your life.

[00:53:31] Duff Watkins: Well happiness sounds like a really good investment from what, the way you describe it.

[00:53:34] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely. Exactly. Right. And you know, the analogy here is exercising as well. Often, we think about exercising is going to make us feel good. It’s going to make us feel more beautiful or pretty or handsome. It’s going to increase our confidence.

Sure. Yeah. It’s going to do all of those things, but it also increases your chances of making good decisions. It’s going to put you in a better mood. And so, you’re going to be better with other people is going to activate the memory regions of your brain. So, you don’t need to read that memo twice. And so, you can think about exercise as having all the side benefits of making you feel good, et cetera, and look good.

But you can also think of it as an investment because it’s going to promote your productivity. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:54:12] Duff Watkins: All right. Those are the 10 things that you have learned. Now, let me finish up with one final question. What have you unlearned lately, Raj? And by that, I mean, something that you absolutely positively knew to be true at one time, but now no, it’s not the case.

You’ve unlearned it.

[00:54:28] Raj Raghunathan: That’s a great question. Uh, and you told me that you were going to ask me this question, and you said, by the time we arrive at this point, don’t worry, you’ll have the answer to it, but I have to tell you that I’m not a hundred percent sure that I have the answer, but I’m going to tell you something that may not be the best answer.

And, you know, maybe later on, I’m going to think of something else that could have been even better. But I do think this is a pretty good one and it happened because of the COVID. And the assumption that I had is that I am a very high stimulation seeking person. That’s only truly going to be happy if I have lots on my plate with, you know, just, almost like bitten off more than I can chew.

 That is. It makes me happy to be in that, you know, constantly on edge, more things to do and so on and so forth. And what I’ve discovered through COVID is that the sense of time abundance, is super important I looked at it with new eyes, you know, it’s so. Beautiful to not be like a headless chicken traveling around the world, giving talks here, you know, teaching classes here doing this research here and so on and so forth and just to feel kind of grounded in one place.

Okay. So COVID literally grounded us, right? I mean said, no, you can’t travel. And you have to operate through zoom from your home working from home. It’s been such a beautiful revelation to me that I’m not that stimulation seeking guy necessarily that I thought I assumed I was, I’m not necessarily somebody who gets easily bored if I don’t have things to do.

 And there are ways in which, life kind of provides opportunities, in the moment in small ways. I guess the big learning is. You don’t need extraordinary things. Or the big unlearning I should say is that ordinary moments have great beauty and I’ve arrived at that, at that learning through unlearning, this idea that life needs to be extraordinary all the time.

I hope I’m making sense.

[00:56:18] Duff Watkins: Yes. It sounds like you’re getting close to enlightenment Raj, you know,

sound like you’ve been reading your own book and all right. Is there anything else you’d like to leave with our audience Raj, before we close?

[00:56:32] Raj Raghunathan: This was really wonderful Duff. I’m very keen now to go and look at your other, uh, offerings out there, podcasts and so on. And the other guests are definitely going to look up Ellen Langer.

I mean, like I said, I think that, you know, she’s one of my heroes, even though she doesn’t know me, but I love her work, not just in mindfulness, but also on, these old age home residents. And how have you having control over seeming you to real things in your life makes an incredible difference to your psychological state and even your mortality levels.

So, she’s an illusion of control her work on those areas anyway. So, yeah, I, I’m really glad that you extended this invitation to me. And I look forward to staying in touch with you and with anybody else who listens to this, please do email me and I’d be happy respond.

[00:57:15] Duff Watkins: Well, and we’ll finish on that

and you’ve been listening to the podcast 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn. Our guest today has been Raj Raghunathan my name’s Duff Watkins. I’m your host. You’ve heard us now let’s hear from you. You can email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com . That’s podcast at 10, the number one zero lessons learned.com.

You want Raj’s book, “If you’re so smart, then why aren’t you happy?” You contact me? We’ll find a way to get it to you. And this episode is produced by the way, by Robert Hossary, our executive producer, and it’s sponsored as always by the Professional Development Forum, which provides resources, such as media discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want, everything you need for young rising leaders, and it’s all free and online.

 

Check them out. https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org/ And while you’re at it, go ahead and hit the subscribe, but it won’t hurt, and you will be getting updates from us on a regular not frequent basis. And remember, this is the only podcast that’s making the world wiser lesson by lesson. So, thanks for listening. Thanks for joining us. And we’ll talk to you in the next episode 

Raj Raghunathan

Raj Raghunathan-If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?

Raj Raghunathan, author of “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” is currently professor of marketing at the University of Texas School of Business. In this episode he tells us why "Small changes have big effects", how to "Be discerning, not judgmental" and shares the "Single most important thing to enhance your happiness". Hosted by Duff Watkins

About Raj Raghunathan

 

Raj Raghunathan, author of “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?”  is currently professor of marketing at the University of Texas School of Business. Raj’s work juxtaposes theories from psychology, behavioural sciences, decision theory and marketing to document and explain interrelationships between affect and consumption behaviour,

His work has been published in top marketing and psychology journals.

He says, “I believe that I am one of the few people who can serve as a conduit between the scientific community and the masses in addressing such big issues as: what are the factors that determine life-satisfaction and happiness?”

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: Small changes have big effects. 03m 36s

Lesson 2: science and spirituality go together. 06m 12s

Lesson 3: We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love. 14m 10s

Lesson 4: Nurture trust in life. 17m 16s

Lesson 5: The big difference between mind attention and bare attention. 23m 35s

Lesson 6: You can’t be happy without a healthy lifestyle. 31m 18s

Lesson 7: Single most important thing to enhance your happiness is… 34m 35s

Lesson 8: Be discerning, not judgmental. 40m 14s

Lesson 9: The 5:1 ratio for feedback. 44m 14s

Lesson 10: Happiness is functional. 50m50s

Raj Raghunathan 10 Lessons

 

[00:00:06] Duff Watkins: Hello and welcome to the podcast.

10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn where we dispense wisdom for your life and your career. My name is Duff Watkins and I’m your host. Our guest today is Raj Raghunathan, who is professor of marketing at the university of Texas business school. Hello, Raj, welcome to the show.

[00:00:24] Raj Raghunathan: Thank you very much Duff. Really a pleasure to be here.

[00:00:28] Duff Watkins: Now you wrote a book which asks the only existential question. I think that really matters one. That’s haunted me my whole life. The book is called “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?” And we’ll talk about that in a bit, by the way. It’s not a new book, but it’s freely available on Amazon.

What’s the reception to the book been like?

[00:00:49] Raj Raghunathan: It’s been good. Overall, it’s done better than I, expected. Perhaps not better than I hoped. didn’t become a best seller, but it’s been translated into 13 different languages. And if you go on Amazon now, I believe there’s about 190 people close to 200 people we’ve have reviewed it.

 And of late, there has been an uptake in the receptivity to the book for whatever reason, maybe it’s, COVID, maybe it’s something else. It’s got everything that I think is important in my life. And so, I’m very satisfied with it. I do think it’s a tad longer than I think in retrospect it could have been, but I’m very, very happy with it.

[00:01:23] Duff Watkins: Well, that’s good. Well, now let’s talk about your life. Raj we need to talk, right? Okay. Now, when you started out very well, I read your bio. You’re born in a small town in Southern India. You come from good family; you became an engineer. Then you got an MBA because you know, that’s what people do. You got the travel bug and you, you started, you came to the U S to do a PhD because there’s nothing else left to do studied in Arizona for a while.

That department kind of collapsed from what I gathered, then you went to New York to finish doing your PhD, but now it’s, um, now it’s in psychology. Yeah.

[00:01:58] Raj Raghunathan: No, I mean, my PhD is technically in marketing, but marketing is in a, is an applied field, as you know. And so, our home disciplines tend to be either economics or psychology for the most part.

And for all practical purposes, my PhD is a PhD in psychology.

[00:02:13] Duff Watkins: Yeah. Okay. Cause that’s what I was worried about. You know, you’re doing so well, engineering psychology, then you joined the dark side of marketing. That’s what I was curious about. But so, you do teach marketing at the business school to graduate business school and university of Texas, which is a major, a major feat.

And you’re a specialty, one of your specialties or a quotation. You feel that you’re a conduit from scientific studies to the masses. That means me and all my friends who don’t understand the heavyweight stuff about, and what you really do is you blend psychology, behavioural science, marketing, and some other stuff into a, a stew, I guess.

[00:02:51] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. You could say that. Yeah. That’s good. I mean, I’m impressed that you read my whole autobiography.

[00:02:56] Duff Watkins: Um, I like your experience with drugs and alcohol. I thought Raj, he should have been born in the United States. I mean, he’s got US student written all over him.

[00:03:07] Raj Raghunathan: You know, back in the day when I was growing up in India, we did aspire to be kind of leading lives that we thought a lot of Americans would be leading, you know? So, we even had a name for people who managed to do it in our eyes, and they were called CATs.

And CAT translated into casual American teenager. We all want it to be casual American teenagers.

[00:03:32] Duff Watkins: Even. I was not one of those. And I was raised in that country.

[00:03:36] Lesson 1

[00:03:36] Duff Watkins: Let’s talk about some of your lessons, Uh, number one, small changes have big effects.

[00:03:42] Raj Raghunathan: yeah. So, this is actually from the book, the tipping point, many of these life lessons that I’m going to share that actually, quotes, so to speak from other people, that friend’s books, a tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell.

And he talks about this phenomenon where you keep doing something for a while and nothing seems to happen. And all of a sudden there’s a sudden change. Okay? All these small things that you were doing earlier, didn’t seem to amount to anything, and you might even be frustrated and be close to giving up.

But if you just continue on a little bit, you explode into the next kind of stage. There’s a discontinuous leap, so to speak. So, this happens across a variety do have different phenomenon in our life. If you look at learning how learning happens, how you become better at tennis, for example, you, you might, you know, fix your serve a little bit, you might become just a little bit faster by practicing a few of the drills. You might start dieting just to lose a little bit of weight. None of these together might amount to much, but all of these together put together, given time are the kind of ingredients in the recipe for success. And it’s very, very important to remember this because we might think that there is a silver bullet that’s going to come in and rescue us and take us to the next level, et cetera.

But it’s really these small changes that obviously need to be, they need to be positive changes, but these small changes that together accumulated over time that propel us into the next stage. And you can think about happiness being the same way. I teach a class on happiness. Obviously, my book is on happiness.

Some people often ask me, what’s the one thing that I need to do, right? And I tell them that I’m really sorry to disappoint you, but there isn’t a one thing that you can do. I think you can do a bunch of small things and each of these together might have a very small effect, but together over time, they’re going to significantly improve your happiness.

[00:05:23] Duff Watkins: When I read your comments, you know, what I thought about immediately was a comment by Lee Labrada, you know who Lee Labrada is?

[00:05:30] Raj Raghunathan: No, no, I don’t.

[00:05:31] Duff Watkins: I should hope not. He’s a professional bodybuilder. He’s an engineer. He won a scholarship to Northwestern university. That’s no mean feat ended up going back to Houston he’s from Texas.

And he’s also a successful businessperson. And people would ask him the same thing. What’s the one thing you have to do. What’s the one thing he said, it’s not one thing. It’s a constellation of many little things, and I’ve always remembered that. and we’re always looking for the one shortcut, really.

We know, just tell me one thing. I can dispense with the rest and, and your, your point just resonated with me about that. And if people would stop looking here for the one big thing and start doing all the little, tiny things and construct a constellation, good things happen so much faster.

[00:06:11] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely, yeah.

[00:06:12] Lesson 2

[00:06:12] Duff Watkins: Lesson number two, science and spirituality go together. Now, there is a lot of people who take umbrage.

[00:06:18] Raj Raghunathan: Great. I mean, and, uh, they may disagree. Right, but I do think that they go together and, what is science? Right? Science is the ability to understand at a deeper level cause effect relationships and to think logically and to think rationally and so on.

And often in science, what we want is proof that something works and ability to replicate the thing that works over time. So that over time we gain confidence and then we start to believe in it. Right. Um, if I, for example, switch the on button on my remote and the TV comes on and I do it 3, 4, 5, 10 times.

And every time the same thing happens, then I start to believe that the remote is a device that can operate the TV. Right. And can switch it on. So that’s how science works. And with spirituality, the idea is that, oftentimes, we, uh, in spirituality, the way that I define it, at least is, uh, this, this feeling that there is a more powerful source or power, behind things that I may or may not be able to fully understand. And I acknowledged that this the source might be, running life, quote unquote as we see it and there an intelligence that is, uh, perhaps bigger and more mysterious and more powerful. And what I mean by science and spirituality going together is that even if you apply the latest scientific tools in order to understand the universe and how we function, how our food gets digested and how we, you know, little things like I have a pain here in my right wrist, it turns out and I went to the doctor and I was actually kind of glad that he told me that we don’t fully understand what goes on here.

Right. And I think that most people would say that about their own fields. They may be experts and masters at it. Right. But they readily acknowledge that I am still a student. I don’t fully understand and so science takes you up to a point and it’s obviously very, very useful. But there’s a, there comes a point, I think, in every domain where you have to kind of surrender to it and say that look, I don’t fully understand this.

And, uh, in particular when I say science and spirituality go together, I can look at it at a very kind of mundane level, uh, and give you some support for it. And also, at a more metaphysical, abstract level at the mundane level. If you want to spread spirituality, right? If you want to, get people to be more willing to surrender, to, the power that, runs everything science provides you the medium to do that. Okay. We are talking over zoom, which has obviously, um, a technology that science has permitted, and it’s come into existence because of science. You can talk about other kinds of media like that television, et cetera, uh, microphones and so on.

And so, science is helping the spread of spirituality through providing opportunities and platforms for people to do that. That’s at the mundane level and at the more metaphysical level, which is where I think it gets interesting is that I talked some time back about this idea that in science, we want to see evidence before we end up having the belief or the faith in spirituality.

Uh, it says often that have the faith, have the belief, and then you’ll start to see the evidence. Right. And it turns out that science actually shows that that’s true. If you think about placebo effects, it’s all about that. The more you have faith that a particular drug or a procedure or medical procedure is going to cure you the higher, the chances that you’re going to see that to be true.

And so, in other words science says, show me the objective proof and I should change my subjective beliefs. And spirituality says that um, have the subject of belief and I’ll show you the objective proof and scientifically it’s possible to support that spiritual statement, that if you have subjective beliefs, you’re going to see objective proof.

Now it’s not going to happen in every single domain, no matter how hard I wish that there were two moons rotating the earth. I’m not going to see two months and unless I get really drunk or something, right there’s only going to be one moon, but there are many, many, many domains in which this is true.

You know, Henry Ford has had this quote, right? He said that whether you think you’re going to succeed, or you think you’re going to fail, you’re absolutely right. Whether you think you’re going to succeed, or you think you’re going to fail, you’re absolutely right. And that very much captures the spirit of the placebo effect, across not just medical domains, but beyond it in terms of his success, in terms of a confidence in terms of your relationships and so on.

And so, I actually think that people are doing themselves a little bit of disservice by assuming that science and spirituality don’t go together. When in fact they go hand in hand and can beautifully support each other.

[00:10:47] Duff Watkins: The psychological evidence for a lot of the power of mindset has been provided by Ellen Langer in her experiments.

She too has been a guest on this show by the way. And she’d be one of them.

[00:10:59] Raj Raghunathan: I’m a big fan of her work.

[00:11:01] Duff Watkins: Well, yeah, I mean, as I am and a lot of people may not know her, but she’s probably one of the more quoted psychologist period. Yeah. And she talks a lot about the power of mindset. I mean, not just talk, she documents it. She pretty much, as I said to her, she’s the one who helped cause it to be shifted from new age fringe, to mainstream normal medicine.

That aside, back to your point. What would you consider to be spirituality? And I, and I know I read something somewhere where for you, correct me if I get this wrong, but for you, it’s all about the attainment of enlightenment, a kind of an ongoing state of bliss. And I thought, man, that sounds good. I can’t wait to hear what Raj, tell me how to get there.

So please enlighten me.

[00:11:46] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So that is maybe the end goal of a spiritual path, but spirituality itself, like I said, sometime back is the openness to the idea that we don’t fully understand everything. And the acknowledgement that there is an intelligence that’s turning everything and call it God, call it nature, call it…

I like this quote by another guy, kind of a Swami from India, Guru from India. And he said that we are the creator, and we are the creation. We are the creator and the creation. So, God is not separate from us. Right? And I liked that. I kind of buy into that idea. Spirituality is really about that, that, you know, we don’t know anything, just an acknowledgement of the truth, really.

And so, there’s an openness to accepting that we may not even know everything, um, at least through our mind. And there may be other ways of knowing things through our intuition, through our experiences. And that is what I mean by spirituality. I don’t mean it in any, anything more than that, you don’t have to believe in a particular God or, subscribe to a particular set of traditions or anything like that, just that willingness and open-hearted embrace of everything that life has to offer.

Um, and an acknowledgement that there may be a more mysterious and bigger force behind things. And if you do operate from that belief that you do not know everything and that there may be a deeper reality that you can’t really sense only through your senses or through your kind of power of thinking and the irrational, uh, paradigm, then it really opens you up to so many unique experiences.

And of course, you can take advantage of some of the mind-expanding substances that uh, nature provides, right. Uh, I’ve talked a little bit about it in my biography, as you know, but you know, there’s some that I haven’t tried that I’m very eager to and excited about, uh, like Iowasca right.

which many people say is the mother of it all because you know, it really does strip out the ego in a way that the others don’t.

And so, you’re in direct contact with the source of creation at some level, and it’s very difficult to articulate what you experienced through just words, but through your experiences, you get to, realize that the truth is far more mysterious and strange. Um, then you could ever have imagined, I really liked this book by the way, by Michael Poland.

I don’t know if you’ve come across it.

[00:13:54] Duff Watkins: Yes, I have beyond “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is the one that I enjoy.

[00:13:58] Raj Raghunathan: Right. So that’s on food. He mostly writes and food, but his latest book is, “How to Change Your Mind”, how to change your mind.

I think it’s the name of the book, how to change your mind. And so, it’s all about his experiences with these kinds of things.

[00:14:10] Lesson 3

[00:14:10] Duff Watkins: Okay. That takes us to point number three. We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.

There’s that love creeping in there again, Raj.

[00:14:23] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. That’s, a quote by I’m only paraphrasing it. It’s not an exact quote I believe, but it’s, by Mother Teresa. And she was talking about how in the context of, altruism even, and generosity and pro-social behaviours, sometimes the ego creeps into the picture.

Right. And you want to be the biggest altruist there ever was look at me, giving away, you know, can you think of a more magnanimous person than me? And even when people try to give anonymously, it’s with this kind of inner pride that I’ve given so much, and people don’t even know that I’ve been giving, if only they will discover that I was giving and maybe they will, after my death, uh, they’ll realize, oh my goodness, what a great soul this person was.

Right? And that, Play of the ego, is very subtle and subversive, but it happens across many different domains too, including meditation sometimes. So, the whole point of meditation is to get beyond the ego at some level. Well, I shouldn’t say the whole point, but it’s certainly a very, very important aspect of it.

And yet, you know, sometimes you see people walking out of meditation sessions beatifical, smile, plastered on their face with, you know, very peaceful looking eyes oh that was awesome. How was it for you? You know, um, again, you know, kind of subtly signalling to the other person that I really cracked it on this meditation session.

I hope you did half as good as I did. You know, I’m closer to God or something. And so  what I take from this quote is that, it’s not as important to necessarily achieve a lot of, positive change in the world and be acknowledged for it and put up on a pedestal and, and so on, and it’s not even clear what that would be because you know, everything that we do has such a big set of ripple, downstream consequences that I think philosophically it’s impossible to figure out, you know, what’s truly a sustainable, good act verses not.

And so, if you just focus on your intentions, to, to be an act of generosity and, do it with as much love as you can, without really worrying about, you know, how big or small of an impact you’re having. I really liked that idea. I think it’s at once, exhibits a sense of humility and wisdom, uh, at a very deep level.

[00:16:28] Duff Watkins: I have to laugh. I studied with Henri Nouwen the Dutch theologian, and he said when he was in the monastery, the, uh, the monks would compete to see who’s fasting the most. Who’s got the thinnest wrist. We just can’t get away from it.

Here’s my favorited example. I love to loathe. In Australia to have the CEO sleep out where the CEO sleeps rough for one night and takes a thousand selfies and tries to raise money.

And I go ballistic every time because I always thought charity was supposed to be on secretive, private, not a corporate sponsorship opportunity. You know, I must have missed that memo anyway, disgusts me do I rant about on LinkedIn every year. Yes, I do, Raj. So

[00:17:16] Lesson 4

[00:17:16] Duff Watkins: Alright. Point number four, this is interesting to me.

Nurture trust in life. Trust doesn’t come easy for some people.

[00:17:23] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah, and we are, I, we have some studies that show that we are kind of cynics by nature. And there’s different, ways in which the cynicism is manifested, but underlying that cynicism is what’s called negativity bias. So, if there are 10 different things in your environment and nine of them are positive things, and one of them is negative.

Our mind under our attention tends to go to that negative thing. And that’s the negativity bias and action. And that one thing is going to have a greater psychological impact on you. Then all the nine other things combined sometimes, you know, let’s say somebody listens to this podcast and nine people write to me saying great podcast loved it and one guy says, you know, this was BS, right? That’s a, you see that on your YouTube channel that, you know, they have like 3,500 likes and like, you know, um, maybe 500 dislikes, but then you wonder who are these people who dislike me more than what these people are like me. So, it’s manifested in different ways, and it’s also manifested in distrust in life. And that in turn has two components to it. One is because we are human beings. We really cared a lot about other human beings and distrust in life, translates into, distrusting other people, right. Or we tend to think that strangers, you know, cannot be trusted this stranger danger kind of an idea of when it comes to kids, that if I lose something in public, like my wallet, good luck and I’m not going to find it.

And so on. And what a lot of research shows is that actually people are much, much more trustworthy than the typical average person gives them credit. They’re more friendly, they’re more caring, they’re more compassionate. They have your back and you can rely on them to help you out in most situations. And if you extend it to life, what this means is that, rather than thinking that if there’s some way in which life can screw you over, it will, which is kind of like Murphy’s law.

It’s actually the opposite of it, that if there’s some way in which life can figure out a way to help you out, like, you know, finding life on a kind of a, concrete jungle, there’s a little plant that somehow butts its head out from a crack in the concrete, right. Uh, and to show you a sign of life. Life is like that; it will somehow find a way to boost you up and prop you up if you really need that.

And so, what appears to be negative, challenging and overwhelming situations actually have in them seeds of, opportunities and progress and upliftment and meaning. And it’s kind of up to you to decide which part you want to focus on. You want to focus on the fact that it’s overwhelming and it’s aiming to screw you over, or you want to focus on the part that has to do with the growth and the opportunity and the learning.

And we talked a little bit about placebo effects earlier, and I think that if you have trust in life, you’re going to see a lot of evidence for it. If you have distrust in life, you’re going to see a lot of evidence for it as well. So scientifically, you’re going to see evidence for both. The question is which of these is more productive for you.

And I’d say that if you go with trust in life, you’re not just going to be happier. You’re also going to be more successful and not any less scientific. So might as well go with it.

[00:20:21] Duff Watkins: And on the placebo effect, it’s vastly under. Rated underrepresented. A lot of people think it’s about 30%, but based on my reading of Herbert Benson, it’s been closer to 70%.

And so again, the point being how powerful the mind is, how you frame things, makes the world of difference. And I guess we should point out one reason why people are suspicious of others. There is a reptilian part of our brain the first bit. I mean, that’s the bit that’s kept us alive. So, I always like to pay respect to that bit that is wary of strangers and says, think about it, you know, don’t get up on that ladder old guy or, you know, stuff like that.

[00:20:59] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah, absolutely. And I do think that it brings up a very, very good point. The negativity bias hide it’s used, particularly in our evolutionary past when survival was the name of the game, right? I mean, there’s so many dangers around us that it’s those people with the negativity bias that survived, and the rules of the game have changed now.

Okay, look around you. I don’t think a lot of people are actually literally fighting for survival on everyday basis, right? There’s no lions and tigers waiting on corners to devour them. There are no marauding tribes that are waiting to steal your, you know, grains and so on. And so right now, our goal is not so much, surviving.

It’s thriving. Okay. It’s thriving. The rules of the game have changed in evolutionary sense for a very, very long time. Our, our aim was to merely survive, and now mere survival is no longer in question. Okay. We’re not going to die. And yet, because the vestiges of our ancestors are still in us. And those who survived had a negativity bias.

So, we still have the negativity bias, even though it’s counterproductive for us right now. And so, I’m not saying that abandoned it completely and adopt a positivity bias anyway, even if you try to think it would be very, very tough to do that. I think what we can manage to do though, is to kind of swing the pendulum a little bit away from the negativity bias toward positivity and perhaps achieve some level of neutrality, such that if five people congratulate us and tell us great job, right?

And five people say thumbs down, we feed that, that overall went, okay. It didn’t go terribly. Right. Relative and reality for most of us in five people or out of 10 people say thumbs down, it’d be devastating for us. Okay. So that’s what I’m talking about.

[00:22:32] Duff Watkins: When you are talking about the kindness of strangers. I, I want to say two examples twice.

I have lost my passport. It’s been stolen overseas in countries where they don’t speak English. both times it has returned to me through a circuitous route involving the kindness of multiple strangers. And I haven’t gotten it back. I lost it one time in an airport in the U S and the pilot returned it to me.

It’s not a passport Raj. It’s a boomerang. I can’t, I can’t get rid of the damn thing. It keeps coming back to me. It’s quite amazing. And it’s things like that, which give me succour because when you get down, when you feel jaded, when you feel, people are lousy, they stink. And there is so much to say about the kindness of strangers and why I think your point is when you nurture this trust in life, you are the beneficiary. You.

[00:23:20] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a great point. Yeah. So that, I think it’s very, very important to emphasize your, that it is actually a strategically, if you want to think about it, that way. A good move to start trusting life. You’re not doing life a favour. You’re doing yourself a favour.

[00:23:35] Lesson 5

[00:23:35] Duff Watkins: Point number five. There is a big difference between mind attention and bare attention. Okay.

[00:23:42] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So, this is in the context of mindfulness and meditation and mindfulness practice. Oftentimes people sit down, or even only hear about what mindfulness is all about. And they say that this can’t work.

I mean, this is a waste of time, right? What, I just sit there, observing my breath. What am I going to learn from it? I have so many other useful things to do. And even those who actually try to do that end up thinking that it absolutely did not deliver at all because, you know, I was very stressed out about a meeting and I thought that I’d sit down and practice mindfulness and people telling me it’s going to destress me, and I’m going to feel calmer.

But if anything, I’m all the more riled up now. And not just that, I’ve also lost time that I could have devoted to that preparing for the meeting or what have you. And I think the reason why that happens is because they haven’t really understood the difference between mind attention and bare attention. And it’s understandable why people often don’t know the difference, right. When we say pay attention to something, oftentimes we mean mind attention in real world, right? When you say pay attention to that problem or pay attention to this movie, you know, register everything that’s going on we are asking them to kind of think about what’s going on and to analyse it and come to conclusions about it.

And so on. Whereas in mindfulness, the idea is even though it’s called mindfulness, right? It’s a bit of a misnomer at some level. The idea is not to be mind attention to it, not to categorize it, not to comment on it, not to evaluate it, whatever it is that you’re observing, but to pay bare attention. And bare attention is not badly being attention is being attention without the accompaniment of the mind without, and it’s difficult to do, right?

So, the, uh, the attempt is the intention is to not comment on it, not evaluated, not judge it, uh, not to have any kinds of value judgements on it and so on, but to pay attention to the thing in a pre-cognitive way. Okay almost like a child, Doesn’t have concepts, uh, to be able to look at a tree and see that’s the tree.

And so just look at it as this thing, right? That’s that in front of me. And so, if you’ve managed to do that, even if only for fleetingly, small moments of time, and you’ll become better at it over time and stitch together longer and longer periods of paying bare attention to something, then you start to recognize some beautiful truths.

Such as, everything is impermanent. This is one of the kind of fundamental truths in Buddhism that everything changes all the time. And there’s no sense of permanence to anything. And, that things that are giving you a lot of anxiety and stress, when you start to pay bare attention to that anxiety, which means not thinking about the thing that made you anxious, not coming conclusions about what might be the solution to that anxiety, but just paying attention to the effect that this phenomenon that my mind is labelling anxiety is having on various parts of my body.

When you start to experientially, understand that your heartbeat’s a little bit faster, you start to experientially connect through your senses that you’re slightly damp hands and so on. When you do that, then you start to actually experience something beautiful, which is that the anxiety lasts far shorter than it otherwise would if you were to pay bare attention to it or to ignore it even.

And that everything that happens is beautiful. Even the negative things, so-called negative, things are beautiful. And so, I like this kind of, mental imagery of two knobs, almost like, uh, you know, back in the day they used to be these radios, right? With volume knob and the knob to pick the channel.

So, the two knobs and what are the knobs is the knob of how positive or negative it is, right? The intensity of positivity or negativity and the other knob is curiosity and so bare attention, what you’re doing is you’re turning up the curiosity knob, But in a very expediential way, not in a mind way, whereas when you’re paying mind attention to things, what it does end up doing is that it turns up the intensity of the emotions knob, which can be really bad if you’re going through a negative patch.

Right. Uh, and so that’s the difference between the two. And I think it’s very, very important to understand this difference. of course, if you want to practice mindfulness, but even beyond it, even to somebody who’s not practicing mindfulness.

[00:27:43] Duff Watkins: So, let’s see if I understand. So, if I bring mind attention to something.

I’m going to bring my opinions, my preconceptions, my prejudices, I’m going to bring it all. And I’m going to have this experience. But what you’re suggesting is bare B A R E bare attention, simply a monitoring without preconceptions, just a monitoring of what is actually occurring or what appears to be and that’s experiential.

[00:28:08] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely. Yeah. The only small kind of, quibble I would have with the way that you, characterized it is that it’s not necessarily that mind attention is always prejudiced and is full of preconceptions.

I do think that technically you’re probably right. That it will be very difficult to not have preconceptions. Any thought is coming uh, with some preconceptions and baggage around it, but in the way that we think about preconceptions, how we define it, how we understand it, there is a assumption of a bias there, uh, et cetera.

So, it doesn’t need to be the case. And so, somebody like a DaVinci or somebody like an Einstein could look at something and think about it and come up with entirely new ways of looking at things that, therefore, obviously imply that there wasn’t a whole lot of preconception going on, but even that would be mind attention.

So, I’m, I’m talking about bare attention as a way of understanding things and paying attention to things and observing things that doesn’t involve the mind it has to do with the pre-cognitive, sensory appreciation or understanding of things. So, it’s very much a sensory thing just being in your body.

[00:29:10] Duff Watkins: So is it like. Psychologist, a hypnotherapist. He, one of the things that he says when he’s giving and ducting and trances, don’t try to make anything happen. Don’t try to stop anything from happening. It’s that sort of neutral, it’s not doing it’s non-doing, I guess. And the closer you get to that, the more that is bare attention.

Is that closer to what you’re saying?

[00:29:30] Raj Raghunathan: Yes, I, I think absolutely. Right. So not doing anything for sure, but also doing something at a more passive level. I mean, it’s not as if you’re in coma, right? You are observing. So, another concept here that really is very useful here to understand is that of consciousness.

 it’s a word that, often is misunderstood and people maybe have different understandings of what that word is, the way that I’m referring to it here is the fact that we are aware of things, That is consciousness, and you could be aware of something. Through your mind and you can tell yourself that look right now, I’m in this wonderful interview and I’m aware of it.

But even before you, you come up with words to describe what you’re aware of, that is the fact that you are aware, right you know, so some people use this kind of, uh, physical metaphor to represent consciousness, which is a mirror, a mirror. It doesn’t have any content of its own, so to speak, but it reflects everything around it.

And so, consciousness is like that. I mean, it’s just doesn’t have any content of its own. It’s just pure awareness. And once you recognize that there is a such a thing as consciousness, just pure awareness without any content of its own, the idea in bare attention is to look at things from the perspective of that consciousness.

And again, I mean, we’re trying to describe an experience through words and that’s always a tough thing to do, but the idea is to get, get merged with consciousness

[00:30:54] Duff Watkins: that’s what I’m just about to say, you know what, when you’re there, you feel it and it feels good and, in your aware of your body, but you’re not quite in it really, it seems like it’s maybe somebody else’s body and it’s, so we’re trying to describe that. And then on this, others have I’m sure have, have done a better job, but not us, but it’s something to be experienced, not to be talked about.

I guess that’s the bare attention we’re discussing.

[00:31:18] Lesson 6

[00:31:18] Duff Watkins: Okay. Lesson number six, you can’t be happy without a healthy lifestyle. Now we’re talking Raj now we’re talking.

[00:31:26] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. Talk about going from all the way from consciousness to something so down to word as your body and, leading a healthy lifestyle. So earlier I told you how, when people ask me, what’s the one thing that I can do to improve my happiness.

I tell them there’s no such one thing. Okay. So, I’m going to go back a little bit on those words now and say that, okay. That is this one thing that I think is, is non-negotiable, it’s indispensable and that is that you need to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you want to be happy, it won’t improve your happiness right away.

But the more you do it, the more you’re going to see yourself uplifted in terms of your emotional life and at a very intuitive level. I mean, it makes complete sense, right? If you aren’t oozing health at a cellular level and you’re not feeling good and physically healthy. Okay, there’s really very little chance at an emotional and mental level you’re going to do all that well. Okay. And I’m going to backtrack on that comment a little bit when we talk about the next lesson, by the way. Okay. So, there’s a bunch of seemingly internally contradictory messages. But I do think that for most people in the world, the first and very, very important step that they need to take in order to lead a happy life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

And what I mean by that is eating well. Right. And we know by, and large, what that is, even though there’s some confusion about what’s good and what’s not, uh,

[00:32:47] Duff Watkins: not really, not, if not, if you really want not, if you not, if you have access to the internet or the television or printed media, there’s no confusion, but yes, go ahead.

[00:32:57] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. I mean, so be kind of outrageous, maybe, you know, some people think that meat is bad for you and other people think that, well, you know that actually you’re not actually very good for you and so on. So, but processed food is bad. Too much. Salt is bad, too much. Sugar is bad. You know, those kinds of things going on too much, too many simple carbohydrates are bad.

You know, smoking is bad, drinking too much is bad. So, we have, lots of evidence. And I think that most people would agree with these statements that I just made about what things or things are bad for you. Fruits and vegetables are good, not processed. Food is good, you know, and things like, so.

Sleeping better. Right. And moving more. And by the way, eat, move. Sleep is the name of a book by a guy called Tom Rath. That I really like it as 30 2- or 3-page chapter. So, it’s a very quick and easy to read with each chapter being self-sufficient.

And he talks about all of this evidence about how to lead a better, more healthy lifestyle. And 10 chapters are devoted to eating 10 chapters to sleeping and 10 chapters to exercising. And so, if you do these three things then you’re going to lead a healthy lifestyle. And of course, like I said, sometime back, you’re not going to see these effects immediately.

So back to the very first lesson, small changes have big effects. So just make a few small changes in each of these categories. And within, I’d say six months, for sure it may not even take that long. You’re going to see a significant boost in your happiness levels.

[00:34:14] Duff Watkins: Yeah. Uh, you eight to 12 weeks, you can find a measurable discernible, look in the mirror, see the difference, based on my, from my experience, but yeah, eat, move, sleep.

Now those are three things that pretty much everybody does anyway. I mean, you’re going to eat, move and sleep. So

[00:34:30] Raj Raghunathan: some people don’t move as much.

[00:34:33] Duff Watkins: Well, so why not do each a little bit better?

[00:34:35] Lesson 7

[00:34:35] Duff Watkins: all right. Lesson number seven. Let’s fill in the blank here, Raj, the single most important thing you can do to enhance your happiness is blank.

[00:34:44] Raj Raghunathan: To nurture an abundance mindset.

 Yeah, uh, nurture a healthy lifestyle. I talked about nurturing trust in life, uh, et cetera. And so, you know, as I mentioned, just a couple of minutes ago that I’m going to backtrack on what I said in the earlier point and there I made it sound as if healthy lifestyle is the most important thing, but here I want to claim that the abundance mindset is the most important thing.

And for most people, I think that leading a healthy lifestyle is a kind of prerequisite to arrive at a point to understand that that alone isn’t going to cut it. What’s very, very important is to change the lens through which you view the world. And that lens is going to be coloured by the mindset that you have.

And I characterize, for the sake of convenience, mindset says as coming in two main varieties, this scarcity mindset and people have a scarcity mindset. Believe that life is a zero-sum game at some very, very deep level. They believe that that for me to win, somebody else has to lose. And because they have a very strong belief in that ideology, they tend to be more distrusting of other people.

They tend to be more vigilant. They tend to be greedy or hoarding mentality. They operate basically from a self-centred perspective and by self-centred, I don’t necessarily mean that they will only worry about themselves, but they can only worry about themselves and their immediate kin and the people that they really love.

Right. But it doesn’t extend beyond it. By contrast an abundance mindset person believes that everybody can win. And in fact, that’s the only way in which we can all win. That we all coexist in this, you know, I saw this cartoon a while back where, you know, the boat is sinking and there are a couple of people sitting on one edge of the boat and the, um, they just commenting on the people at the other end of the boat.

And at the other end, people are frantically trying to scoop out the water and pull it out, put it out. And these guys on this end are saying, thank goodness that hole is not at our end. You know,

so, uh, yeah, we’re all in this together. You know, we all come from the same source we’re headed in the same, you know, to the same eventual. Um, uh, “denouement” is that a word?

[00:36:56] Duff Watkins: Yeah, we’re all in the same taxi heading to the same destination, what it really comes down to.

[00:37:02] Raj Raghunathan: Right. So, if you nurture an abundance mind set a person with an abundance mind set feels that everybody can win.

 Then you start to kind of see life in an entirely different fashion. You’re now looking at life through rose-tinted glasses, so to speak, but not in a delusional way, as opposed to jaundice set of glasses. And you start to discover many truths such as that, helping other people out is a huge source of happiness for yourself and being a giver.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Adam Grant and his book give and take, uh,

[00:37:35] Duff Watkins: the New York times, many years now.

[00:37:38] Raj Raghunathan: Exactly. That givers are more likely to succeed even, right. One of the worries that a scarcity minded person might have about adopting an abundance mindset is that that’s going to lower my chances of succeeding because the truth is life is, a zero-sum game.

But once you discovered that that’s not true, that you actually have a higher chance of success, even in conventional terms, in terms of being promoted in terms of getting a higher salary and so on, being a giver, being an abundance minded person is better for you. Then they start to, um, maybe, you know, thaw little bit and strategically entertain the idea of adopting the abundance mindset. It is by far the most important thing for your happiness.

[00:38:17] Duff Watkins: And let’s clarify too. I mean, we’re not talking about some sort of Panglossian, silly ass, stick your head up your ass, pretending that the world is abundant.

 If I understand your correctly, we’re talking about really recognizing the fact that it is a world of abundance. There’s more than enough money. There’s more than enough food. There’s more than a name. It there’s more than enough of it already in existence.

[00:38:42] Raj Raghunathan: Right. I mean, I think you can say it in that way. I’d also like to add here that if you make it more personal, more than enough of all these things in existence is one way of putting it, but a better way of putting it in my opinion is more than enough that I have access to. Okay. When you start to think that there’s more than enough in the world, then you might start to behave in a fashion that’s not necessarily good. So, you might say, you know what? I there’s more than enough goodies in the environment. Let me just burn it up. There’s more than enough, fossil fuel, let me just burn it up. That’s not the idea. The idea is that me personally speaking, I’ve been blessed with more than enough of all the good things.

Let me not crave and you know, want more and be greedy for more. There may be other people who don’t have enough and I’m going to be an agent of kindness for them and make sure that they get enough. But as far as I am concerned, My life is filled with abundance. So that’s the idea that I’m an overflowing cup rather than the earth itself is

[00:39:36] Duff Watkins: So, the abundance is what I have access to abundance. You reminded me of it years ago, I knew a guy who was a, a street minister, which means he was one step above homeless, and we were talking about money, and he said, well, I have more than I need. So, I guess I’m living in abundance. And I thought to myself, you know, you got, you got four fifths of nothing from what I can tell, but, but he had more than he needed for what he was doing.

 That’s always has stuck with me for decades now. I mean, if I have more than I need, and if I have more than I can use at this particular moment, then that’s enough. So, w we are living in a world of abundance, and we have access to it all the time.

[00:40:13] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely.

[00:40:14] Lesson 8

[00:40:14] Duff Watkins: Point to number eight, be discerning, not judgemental. Raj, why didn’t you tell me this 40 years ago, I could have benefited from hearing that.

[00:40:24] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So, the idea here is that The big difference between discerning being discerning and judgmental. And I think it’s beautiful to, to kind of delve into the subtleties of these words, is that discerning the way that I see it as more of a horizontal differentiation ability, the ability to detect that somebody is very good at, music and somebody else is very good in sports and somebody else is very good as a manager.

And so on. Judgemental has to do with seeing differences along the vertical dimension that somebody is above somebody else or below somebody else. And I think that when we aspire to live in a world in which, people are respected and, people are appreciated for who they are, and that people are made to feel happy.

There’s a danger that in the quest to be nonjudgmental so that people can be happy and be respected and so on. We throw away the baby with the bath water, so to speak, the bath water is being judgmental, and the baby is being discerning. And so, we say everybody gets a prize in every day. You know, we see a little bit of that phenomenon going on in the United States for a while now, maybe catching up in other countries as well, where kids are treated with kid’s gloves, so to speak.

It’s not necessarily a good thing for them because they grew up thinking that I’m just as good as anybody else in anything. Right. And then they face up to the harsh reality of life, which is that they aren’t right. And so, the, I think the answer to this dilemma is to be discerning but not judgmental.

And so, what that means is that you can be the people that, you know, this person is better at singing or music than this person. Who’s better at sports than this person who’s better at something else. But, even if you’re not good at any of these things, it doesn’t mean that you as a human being are of lower worth or value to me.

Okay. And the reason why you’re not of lower worth of value to me is because, you are a human being. And so as human being, you already, you know, deserve the respect. And also, there is a understanding that I think is very, very helpful here that goes with this, which is that everybody at some level has a very, very important talent.

And sometimes we don’t unearth that talent because of lack of opportunity or lack of luck or whatever. Right. But I’m a huge subscriber to this idea of what’s called multiple intelligence theory that everybody is gifted in some way or another. And, uh, just because we don’t see what that gift is does not mean that they are not gifted under the right circumstances with the right set of inputs and nurture, those gifts are going to manifest themselves.

And so, as a leader, as the teacher, as a parent, et cetera, the onus is a little bit on us to figure out what are the ways in which different people are talented? And so, by being discerning and not judgmental, you’re starting out with the assumption that everybody’s talented and everybody’s got a gift.

Uh, and so there’s no point judging somebody as higher or lower than somebody else. But the, the onus is now on you to kind of, to unearth that talent for somebody else. And, um, on top of that, if you can kind of combine it with this ability to be discerning, then you’re actually, you’ve got the best of both worlds.

So not only are you capable now of identifying the best people, people for different jobs, if you want to build a bridge, you know, you get the person who’s best at it. If you want to throw a party, you get the best person for it. If you want somebody to sing the national Anthem at a important function, you get the best person for it, rather than telling, okay, you know, anybody can do this.

So, everybody’s a winner. So just, just pick randomly, right? I think that’s the idea here is to be discerning. And so, you can kind of figure it out. Who’s good at what without, making people feel worse or, bad by being judgmental.

[00:44:07] Duff Watkins: and that leads us to the next point. I know you’ve written a lot about, feedback, the importance of feedback, and you’ve from your own personal experience.

[00:44:14] Lesson 9

[00:44:14] Duff Watkins: Point number nine, the five to one ratio for feedback quoting she’s a Brazilian psychologist, Marcial Losada, I believe is her name

[00:44:24] Raj Raghunathan: Losada. Yeah. I believe that Chilean actually and it’s a guy. And, this person partnered with, Barbara Frederickson who’s a really big figure in the positive psychology domain. And they came up with, this ratio of three to one in the context of your personal life that, we talked about negativity bias earlier.

Uh, and this has to do a little bit with that idea that because we notice negative things more and negative things tend to have a bigger, psychological impact on us. The scar that they leave is big. We need to offset that negativity bias with, positivity, just by sheer quantity of positive things.

And so, if we have a negative thing happened to you, let’s say that you opened your wallet, they expect a $10 to be there. There’s nothing in there. The negative psychological impact that that loss of $10 is going to cause to you for you now to feel. Above, unambiguously above neutral. You need to earn $30.

So, three to one ratio, they call it. The Losada ratio three to one ratio. You need three times as many positive things happening in your life. As you’ve had negative things happen, for you to be unambiguously in the positive territory. Okay. And that’s, as far as life itself is concerned, but when it comes to our relationships, the ratios arguably even more extreme, that’s five to one.

And there’s a lot of work, not just by, positive psychologists, but also by people like John Gottman, who does a lot of work in relationships and trust and so on. And what they discover is that, when somebody does something negative to you. You obviously have a negative impression of them for you to start to feel positive about them now, they need to make up for it five times over. So, imagine that your wife told you Duff, that, okay, let’s go, or two party, right? and I’ll meet you at 8:00 PM at this place and she stands you up and she’s 15 minutes late. Now. She needs to come early. Okay. Or on time, at least five times before you’re able to psychologically erase the negative effect of that one time of coming late.

[00:46:25] Duff Watkins: First of all, you haven’t met my wife and that ain’t going to happen, you know, but I get the point we’re talking theory here. Yes. Okay.

[00:46:34] Raj Raghunathan: If you’re talking theory here. Yeah. So, there’s different cultures with different time perceptions, I guess. Yeah. So, and this is super important, in life in general, but particularly in feedback and giving why, because what it said is, is that when you give people constructive feedback, let’s say in a work context that somebody is not doing something right.

And, you know, they were just to change this one thing. They would start to deliver much higher quality work. Okay. You want to give this constructive feedback, but of course, you know that People don’t like to hear negative things because you know, it just makes them feel bad right? Now, what you might do then as a leader is to call them into your office and tell them, Hey, you know, you always begin your presentation with a joke and you seem to be like really, really keen on doing it.

And sometimes it just seems forced, you know? And so, you’d be a much more effective presenter if you abandoned that idea that you have to always start with the joke, right? I’m just giving you an example and you want to give that feedback and you call them into the office and you tell them, Hey, you know, I really loved what you’re wearing, you know, what you were wearing yesterday at the presentation, right?

So, this is called the sandwich method, start out with a positive thing, and then you deliver the punch. Okay. And then you end with, you know, in a great job, right? I mean, overall, you’re doing great or what have you. So that’s called the sandwich method and it turns out that doesn’t really work. Okay. And what this suggests is that if, instead of doing that, you just cut to the chase, and he gives them the feedback that you really wanted to give.

But. It’s not as if you’re always only delivering negative feedback. That’s also the important part. Right? So, abandoning the sandwich method does not mean that you get to be a, an a-hole all the time. Right? So, what it means is that the way that you’re going to now give feedback is to be genuinely appreciative of people when they do good things all the time as a human being.

That’s your personality now that not only do you notice positive things about other people, but you actually communicated to them. Yeah. Even if it’s only small things like, you know, you appreciated the fact that somebody stayed back 15 extra minutes for a meeting, even though, um, as far as they were concerned, it was done.

Right. Just shoot them an email right. After the meeting saying that I really appreciated that. Without expecting anything in return without having something negative to deliver right after it. So, what are you doing as you go through life as you’re accumulating a bank of positives in other people’s accounts.

Okay. And so that when the time comes as it inevitably does, where you have to give them some constructive negative feedback. It’s not artificial that, you know, you’re not doing it in a sandwich muttered, and they know that you’re the kind of guy who’s generally very, very positive. And so, they know that you’re not being mean you’re not being an asshole, you’re just being authentic.

And so that negative feedback lands where it needs to, and people actually take it seriously. And they actually make changes that you want them to make. So that’s the idea here.

[00:49:21] Duff Watkins: Now that five to one ratio may seem rather daunting to some people. So, my own personal suggestion is, if it’s too daunting, start with 3, 2, 1, start with four to one, work your way up to five.

I mean, you know, five, I find a little difficult. I got to say, you know, I’ve got to find five good things before I tell my guy, you know, start sweating. But yeah, it can be a little difficult, but the good thing about having to think about it is exactly that it stops you to, you have to think about it. And then you say, well, really, maybe I don’t need to say anything at all.

And you, you seize the opportunity to shut the hell up, which is, which is always good advice. I have discovered.

[00:50:01] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. absolutely. And it shouldn’t really be daunting. Uh, it is only daunting if you feel like you’re the kind of person who A doesn’t notice positive things about other people or B doesn’t communicate it once you become that kind of a person.

And again, the idea here is not to get, become inauthentic. But authentically the truth is that everybody’s doing lots of positive things all the time. And so, it’s a matter of just noticing it and actually making it a point to articulate it. Right. It could be the way that they presented the salad or the fact that they did the dishes without them, it being their turn to do the dishes now or, or what have you, you know, uh, so little things, if you just dribble lots of positives in everybody’s life, as you go along, then you don’t even need to remember this five to one ratio because chances are that you’ll have far exceeded that ratio.

[00:50:49] Duff Watkins: Yeah. Very good. Good point. Good point.

[00:50:50] Lesson 10

[00:50:50] Duff Watkins: Well point number 10. Happiness is functional.

[00:50:55] Raj Raghunathan: Yeah. So let me end with this. I think that at some level, this could have been the number one thing, but it’s good to end on a bang.

And the idea here is that a lot of people think about happiness as a desirable goal. And when he asked them, why do you think it’s a desirable goal? They usually don’t have a really good answer to it. They just say, just because, you know, I like to be happy. And, at some level that’s a totally acceptable answer.

Because it’s almost axiomatic, right? That happiness should be important to us. We were kind of programmed to be happy if you will, or to seek, seek happiness. Um, but what’s really interesting is that, not only does happiness make you feel good, right? By definition, happiness is a feel-good state.

It’s also useful to be happy, happier people live longer. Happier people enjoy better relationships with other people and happier people are more productive and more profitable and to make a higher amount of money, right? The happiest quintile, the happiest 20% of the world on average, make about 30% more salary than the least happy quintile.

Okay. And this is not that success is making them happy. So, it’s not the, that direction of causality. We know that it’s happiness leading to success and to higher incomes because of studies that measure happiness first and then see how much they earn later on in their life. And so, happiness is in other words, functional happiness is useful.

Happiness is practical. One thing that is stopping you from prioritizing your happiness in your life is that, Hey, you know what? I will end up, um, giving priority to happiness. Once I’ve achieved all my life goals. And once I’ve kind of hit all these targets that I have for myself in terms of my degrees and, you know, buying a house and settling down and so on and so forth.

If you were to kind of actually reverse that direction of causality and tell yourself that look, those things can wait, let me prioritize happiness first. You’ll actually achieve those targets you have a little bit faster than you otherwise might have. Why? Because when you’re happier and you prioritize happiness and you become happy.

You’re going to show up for work more often because you feel healthy on the inside. You’re going to be better in teams because you’re better at relationships. People are going to promote you therefore, and you’ve got to be more objective. Some of my own work shows that that happy people are more objective.

You’re going to be more creative. A lot of the work by, Alice Isen and Barbara Fredrickson, who I mentioned sometime back show that happier people are more creative. And so, in other words, happiness is not something that’s a luxury that we need to start to prioritize once all the quote-unquote necessities that achieved in our life.

And it’s actually at some level, the most basic thing that we need, which actually promotes our chances of achieving these so-called necessities in our lives. So, I think just having that Mindshift on how important happiness is for this reason can have a huge effect in terms of the kinds of decisions that you make in your life.

[00:53:31] Duff Watkins: Well happiness sounds like a really good investment from what, the way you describe it.

[00:53:34] Raj Raghunathan: Absolutely. Exactly. Right. And you know, the analogy here is exercising as well. Often, we think about exercising is going to make us feel good. It’s going to make us feel more beautiful or pretty or handsome. It’s going to increase our confidence.

Sure. Yeah. It’s going to do all of those things, but it also increases your chances of making good decisions. It’s going to put you in a better mood. And so, you’re going to be better with other people is going to activate the memory regions of your brain. So, you don’t need to read that memo twice. And so, you can think about exercise as having all the side benefits of making you feel good, et cetera, and look good.

But you can also think of it as an investment because it’s going to promote your productivity. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:54:12] Duff Watkins: All right. Those are the 10 things that you have learned. Now, let me finish up with one final question. What have you unlearned lately, Raj? And by that, I mean, something that you absolutely positively knew to be true at one time, but now no, it’s not the case.

You’ve unlearned it.

[00:54:28] Raj Raghunathan: That’s a great question. Uh, and you told me that you were going to ask me this question, and you said, by the time we arrive at this point, don’t worry, you’ll have the answer to it, but I have to tell you that I’m not a hundred percent sure that I have the answer, but I’m going to tell you something that may not be the best answer.

And, you know, maybe later on, I’m going to think of something else that could have been even better. But I do think this is a pretty good one and it happened because of the COVID. And the assumption that I had is that I am a very high stimulation seeking person. That’s only truly going to be happy if I have lots on my plate with, you know, just, almost like bitten off more than I can chew.

 That is. It makes me happy to be in that, you know, constantly on edge, more things to do and so on and so forth. And what I’ve discovered through COVID is that the sense of time abundance, is super important I looked at it with new eyes, you know, it’s so. Beautiful to not be like a headless chicken traveling around the world, giving talks here, you know, teaching classes here doing this research here and so on and so forth and just to feel kind of grounded in one place.

Okay. So COVID literally grounded us, right? I mean said, no, you can’t travel. And you have to operate through zoom from your home working from home. It’s been such a beautiful revelation to me that I’m not that stimulation seeking guy necessarily that I thought I assumed I was, I’m not necessarily somebody who gets easily bored if I don’t have things to do.

 And there are ways in which, life kind of provides opportunities, in the moment in small ways. I guess the big learning is. You don’t need extraordinary things. Or the big unlearning I should say is that ordinary moments have great beauty and I’ve arrived at that, at that learning through unlearning, this idea that life needs to be extraordinary all the time.

I hope I’m making sense.

[00:56:18] Duff Watkins: Yes. It sounds like you’re getting close to enlightenment Raj, you know,

sound like you’ve been reading your own book and all right. Is there anything else you’d like to leave with our audience Raj, before we close?

[00:56:32] Raj Raghunathan: This was really wonderful Duff. I’m very keen now to go and look at your other, uh, offerings out there, podcasts and so on. And the other guests are definitely going to look up Ellen Langer.

I mean, like I said, I think that, you know, she’s one of my heroes, even though she doesn’t know me, but I love her work, not just in mindfulness, but also on, these old age home residents. And how have you having control over seeming you to real things in your life makes an incredible difference to your psychological state and even your mortality levels.

So, she’s an illusion of control her work on those areas anyway. So, yeah, I, I’m really glad that you extended this invitation to me. And I look forward to staying in touch with you and with anybody else who listens to this, please do email me and I’d be happy respond.

[00:57:15] Duff Watkins: Well, and we’ll finish on that

and you’ve been listening to the podcast 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn. Our guest today has been Raj Raghunathan my name’s Duff Watkins. I’m your host. You’ve heard us now let’s hear from you. You can email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com . That’s podcast at 10, the number one zero lessons learned.com.

You want Raj’s book, “If you’re so smart, then why aren’t you happy?” You contact me? We’ll find a way to get it to you. And this episode is produced by the way, by Robert Hossary, our executive producer, and it’s sponsored as always by the Professional Development Forum, which provides resources, such as media discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want, everything you need for young rising leaders, and it’s all free and online.

 

Check them out. https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org/ And while you’re at it, go ahead and hit the subscribe, but it won’t hurt, and you will be getting updates from us on a regular not frequent basis. And remember, this is the only podcast that’s making the world wiser lesson by lesson. So, thanks for listening. Thanks for joining us. And we’ll talk to you in the next episode 

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