Supercharge Your Performance


Clint Murphy Greg Wells


Greg Wells, Clint Murphy


Clint Murphy  00:00

Greg, welcome to the growth guide. I’m excited to talk to you about your book powerhouse today, who wouldn’t want to optimize their health and supercharge their performance? And where I’d like to start is with a couple of questions. I’m going straight to a little geekery. A couple questions about mitochondria for people who didn’t take sciences like me, what are mitochondria? And why do we want to optimize? 

Greg Wells  00:29

First of all, it’s so great to be here, Clint, thanks for having me on the show. Like I’m just like, so honored to like given you know, you and your work and everyone that you’ve had on previously, it’s a tremendous honor to be here. So thank you for the chance to share my book with your audience and diving right into it. Mitochondria are the little tiny structures that we have, inside all of our cells that break down the foods that we eat to create energy. So if you have proteins, fats, carbs, they all get broken down into something called acetylcholine, which then goes into your mitochondria, we break that down. And we use water and oxygen to do that. And that’s what creates the energy that we use to think to move to digest food. So they are incredibly important for our ability to do pretty much everything in our lives. If your mitochondria don’t work well, that is often associated with things like cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, even mental health challenges, like depression. So they are very important for our health and our well being and our ability to do pretty much everything that matters to us in our life. So they’re really important.

Clint Murphy  01:35

And you write that today’s modern lifestyle, and environment, don’t do our mitochondria, any favor, why is that?

Greg Wells  01:46

They are so sensitive to our environment, they’re sensitive to what we think, they’re sensitive to the foods that we eat, they’re sensitive to our levels of energy and their sensitive to activity. And they’re sensitive to stress. So just imagine, especially over the last few years, how stressed people have been and when we have stress in our lives, and there’s good stress and bad stress. So like challenge does one thing, but anxiety intention do other things. And so on the anxiety intention side that creates the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which helps us to perform at a high level instantaneously. But when they stay in your system, for long periods of time, like when we are chronically stressed, just imagine looking at the news cycle over and over and over again. Those hormones move throughout our bodies and actually create inflammation, which can damage at the cellular level, our mitochondria. And so it’s really important that we think about a holistic lifestyle. And the great thing about that is as much as our mitochondria are sensitive to all of the things that maybe are not fantastic about our environment in our world right now, the cool thing is because they are so sensitive, if you make any changes, they respond in a positive way. So we can really take control of of what’s going on here. 

Clint Murphy  03:02

So we’re going to talk to people about a lot of changes they can make, whether that’s breathing, whether that’s movement, very simple things. But we also want to make sure that we’re not setting them up for failure. And you and I both seem to say this idea of starting small, small steps, 1% better. Can you talk a bit about why we want people to focus on the barest improvements in order to not fail?

Greg Wells  03:32

It is so important right now for us to take baby steps. And that’s really, really hard for me to say I come from a competitive swimming background. I used to train 25 hours a week of coached 200 Olympic athletes where we would design the most complex training programs and push people to their limits. And if you weren’t nearly puking, then it wasn’t hard. Like I’ve done all of that stuff. And I now realize that, sadly, what actually works is microscopic improvements. And we really think about it in terms of 15 minute increments. So 1% of your day is 15 minutes. But if you look at the power of 15 minutes, it’s really exciting because we know that as little as 15 minutes of walking every day, so not very intense, not for very long, reduces your risk of 13 different types of cancer by 24 to 40%. We know that as little as three minutes of meditation, three minutes of meditation stimulates your brain to rewire and might increase the myelination of tracks deep deep inside your brain that connect different neural networks together. So these little tiny micro changes add up. And it’s great because they’re achievable and we can do those in our busy lives. If I asked everyone on the show to go do 90 minute workouts every day, which is great for you, it would definitely help but the number of people on your show listening to that would be like yeah, not happening. I’ve got a job in a family. I don’t know what you’ve got going on your life but so I asked people to do the smallest thing that they can possibly do. And then probably cut it in half and do that. And that is something that is achievable, that is sustainable. And if you do that little tiny bit, which seems ridiculously easy, super simple, absolutely achievable. But you do it for three months, all of a sudden, you’re like, Oh, I think I can do a little bit more. And then you double it, because that’s so easy to do, because it was so smart to begin with. And then that becomes successful. And the cool thing is that action leads to motivation. The more success that we have, the more motivated we become. So I want you to do as little as you possibly can, because we’re playing the long game here. We’re not trying to get us, you know, six weeks to a six pack or any of that nonsense, right? Like, as much as that would be lovely. I want us to be talking in six years, and be able to say, oh, my gosh, I’ve made all of these improvements, I’m feeling so much better. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I have unlimited energy to play with my kids or grandkids, depending on how old you are listening to this, or just simply to play with your friends if you don’t have a family yet, right. So whatever it happens to be small micro improvements, when. And in sports, we do little tiny things like you know the angle of the goggles, or the shape of the swimsuit on your hip or putting on booties to cover up the laces on your bike. Like these are little tiny things that when you add them all together, regardless of what sport you’re doing, lead you to being better than everyone else over the long term. And that’s what we’re hoping for is little tiny micro wins. That’s the game. So whatever ideas you get from this show today, like pick the smallest one, do half of that. And then we’ll talk again in a year and I bet you’re doing an amazing, amazing things. 

Clint Murphy  06:44

I love it. Something you talked about there that’s really relevant that I’d love to zone in on for people is the idea that too many people wait for motivation to take action, when in reality, it’s the action that creates the motivation. And now I’ve heard that a number of times our friend Brad Stulberg says that and now you quoted there was some scientific research that shows that, that it’s the action that leads to the motivation, similar to like, none of us want to get up at five o’clock in the morning and go to the gym. It’s not like oh, yeah, that’s gonna be great. But when you get in the gym, you think to yourself, damn, I’m happy. I’m in the gym. Oh, yeah. So so what is that there, Greg?

Greg Wells  07:28

So Dr. Robin Henley Dafoe who’s a psychologist that I work with who is amazing described it like this. She said, motivation is the part of you that sets the alarm to wake up in the morning. And discipline gets up and out of bed. And they are two completely separate things. And so focusing in on the disciplines, the routines, the rituals, the quote that you have behind you on the wall, we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. Like these practices, the practice of starting, the practice of putting on your shoes, the practice of going for a short walk, the practice of calling a friend, the practice of putting away your phone so that you can meditate, practice of getting out your journal at night to do a few notes on what went well during the day. And where you might need a little bit more support. It’s those practices that change our lives. And the more of those that you do, the easier everything else becomes the more progress that you see the more confidence that you then gain because you’re getting repetitions of success, that ultimately then leads us to that state of high motivation. And a couple of times we’ve mentioned the word, you know, fail, we don’t want to fail, we don’t want to set people up for failure. The other major shift is to think of failure as information. Think of failure as like a really great thing. Like, when I was working with Olympic athletes, we would very rarely seek out competitions, where we would go and be the best ones there. You always want to go to a competition where there’s someone else there who’s better than you. Because you don’t discover where things are not working when you’re winning. You only discover the mistakes when you’re pushing the limits, trying to beat someone who’s better than you. And then you discover that maybe your turns aren’t where they need to be. Maybe you discover that you’re too slow off the start maybe just did you discover that when you’re you become fatigued, your technique breaks down. And so failure is information. And we can reframe our relationship with failure, such that it is important for us actually. And there was a cool paper that I read recently that showed that amongst athletes, if we wanted to figure out who is going to improve the fastest one of the only predictors of who improves the fastest and the technique of their sport is who has the most repetitions of mistakes of failures. Those who fail the most are the ones who make the greatest most rapid improvements. because they’re iterating, they’re fixing, they’re learning. Now, of course, we don’t want to make the same mistake over and over and over again, that’s not learning, right? But when we make a mistake, you’re like, Huh, what happened there, and we learned from it and move on. And this isn’t just in sports. If you read Steve Jobs biography, by Walter Isaacson, you can see that the fundamental shift that he made from his first round at Apple when things did not go well, through when he was at Pixar, then back at Apple was the discovery that when you make a mistake, you can learn from it and move on. That wasn’t happening early on in his career, it was later on in his career, and that obviously changed the trajectory of where he was able to go in his life. So it’s all of the things that you’ve mentioned, are really, really important and quite powerful as well. And when I tie what you’re saying there to my newest obsession, which is pickleball. And we may have talked about that once or twice lately, on the podcast, what I see is I go to play, and I purposely always try to play a level up. So if there’s players that are better than me, I want to be on the court with them. That does mean I’ll lose likely that day more than I win. But to your point, every time I lose a game I’m looking for why did I lose? What can I learn from this loss? What does that person across from me doing that I can do? Is that person hitting the ball at me with such power, that I don’t have the reaction time yet to get it back across the court? And how can I develop that reaction time? So when I come home, I’ll watch a YouTube video to say, how do I set up my paddle in advance of them heading and asked me to be there when they hit it at. And that’s giving the ability that next time I go back, I’m better. And then if there aren’t those players there that day that are that level up. Oh, heck, I’ve won 80 90% of my games that day, against people a week before, who would have beat me. And so that just desire to improve, I think you have to seek out those people that are going to beat you.  It really does help to test yourself and consider competition or performance as opportunities to test yourself. And if it’s in sports or physical activities, fabulous, that’s going to elevate many different aspects of your body and your mind. It can also be in music, learning music, playing music, performing music, can also be in arts and drama, memorization delivery, performances, can be a business when you’re trying to deconstruct what a client might need, and help them come to a solution faster. There’s so many different aspects to this. But it’s all about cultivating this sense of curiosity, of openness, of non judgment, because the second you start thinking, oh, that was terrible. And you start beating yourself up over it, which I do all the time I’m working on that, when we have this sense of non judgment and openness. It really does speed the rate at which you can move forwards. Because you’re no longer having to deal with, you know, any of those negative feelings. You’re just simply learning and improving constantly. And think about how hard that is right now in an era when everything is being published to social and judged by people that you don’t know who can comment anonymously on your work. I say this, as someone who publishes a lot of things on on social, I try to be a positive influence in the world. And I know that social is tremendously problematic on many different levels. But I’ve also got a 13 year old daughter that’s beginning to wade into the online world. And what I’m hopeful for is that I can help her and eventually Adam as well, my son to understand is that we are simply seeking out information and feedback and commentary and coaching from our trusted sources, right? We have to be very careful when we are going out and trying things and learning and perhaps failing that we are getting information or analysis from sources that we trust coaches, mentors, right, like we are seeking ways of getting better from our trusted web of advisors, not just the random flow of stuff that comes at us on the internet right now. That’s also another really important thing to do. And to think about as we as we begin to cultivate this life of continuous improvement.  And I’m in a similar boat to you. I have a 15 year old and 12 year old son. And so when you talk about the social media, this next question really ties into that. And that’s in reference to the Lancet study from 2021. That proposes depression has risen 28% and anxiety has increased 26%. In addition, the authors found when it comes to mental health, women have been more negatively affected than men reporting significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety. Now that raises you know, a couple questions for me one, men typically don’t talk about anxiety and depression and have much higher suicide rates than women do. And so part of me wonders if you know a bit of a digression on that study is the reporting of it, partially because men don’t report it. But that aside, why are we in this spot where depression and anxiety are skyrocketing so much? And how can some of what we’re going to talk about today help people with. We are in a really interesting time where we have a level of global abundance that we’ve never had before. And I completely recognize that I’m saying that as a middle aged white guy, two parents with graduate degrees, who lives in downtown Toronto, Canada, where I have easy access to everything. And certainly in many places around the world that that does not exist. And I’ve traveled to 53 countries, cycled across Africa, ran across India. And so I’m I’ve seen firsthand some of the places where that is definitely not the case. And so when we look back at the state of where we are at, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the actual statistics around the world and how we are feeling right now, especially in North America, and Europe. And in Australia, as well. The numbers do show that there’s an increasing rate of depression and anxiety, the Lancet study that you quoted, was 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, where it did show there was about a 30% increase in both depression and anxiety in the middle of the pandemic, across the entire lifespan, with the numbers being about 30% higher for women and for men, those data have been replicated subsequently. And those numbers are returning to a more pre pandemic level right now, which is still 20% of the population being faced with depression and anxiety. However, what I often say around this one is that how many people know someone who’s struggling with depression or anxiety or and has struggled over the last few years? And the answer goes from 20%, to everybody, which means that it isn’t just the one in five who are actively struggling today. It’s actually everyone who cares about that person as well. And so this is a global challenge that we are faced with, and it is everyone who is being affected by this in some way, shape, or form. And so what I would love is to at the end of the day, look back upon all of this work and see that it has helped people to improve not just their body, but also their mind, also their emotions, also their spirit in whatever form that takes for you listening. And what I tried to do is make it as actionable as possible. And we do know according to various different research studies that when we take certain actions, our physical health improves, our mental health improves, and our emotional health improves. Little tiny things like physical activity, over and over and over now is are being shown doesn’t matter what you do walk, walk, run, jog, swim, bike, paddle gardening, housework, it all works, those all seem to improve our mental health when it comes to depression and anxiety. In fact, we’ve when we see work that has been done in this area, it seems to show that about three to five exercise sessions per week of around 45 minutes each reduces mental health burden, risk of depression and anxiety. So three, four or five workouts a week, about 45 minutes, doesn’t matter what you do doesn’t matter how intense it is, can be going for an easy walk, it can be gardening, it can be vacuuming your house, like if you want to go for a heart SoulCycle ride at lunch, fabulous, but you don’t need to even break a sweat. And we improve outcomes when it comes to depression and anxiety. We know that simple practices like breath work, the long slow exhale decreases tension, decreases anxiety, and that’s instantaneously accessible to us. We are also learning that the foods that we eat impact our mental health, with foods that are highly processed high in sugars and trans fats damaging our mental health. Whereas when we eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables, we actually see improvements in our mental health probably through antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties of those types of foods that we can eat. So although we are faced with a significant challenge around mental health, it’s legit. It is extraordinarily difficult. It’s very dark, sometimes for people. There are practices that we can use to elevate our physical, mental and emotional health that are based around our lifestyle. Of course, if you’re struggling, absolutely get counseling, talk to a therapist, get some assistance from a professional. Just like if you wanted to get into better shape, you would get a personal trainer to show you around the weight room. We want to get a therapist to show us around our mind. I have done that extensively over the last four years Judith and I have done that as a couple extensively over the last four years like why not get a professional to help you move forwards in this area. So It’s a challenge, but I am hopeful. But it does require some work some disciplines and doing the deep work to unpack these things, and to build a practice that elevates your life. 

Clint Murphy  20:09

And for the listeners, I mean, the deep work is something that definitely helps, Medication can help but so much of it, this dual method of improving your breathing, your walking, your food diet, how you think, is super important. And I wrote in our newsletter last night, Greg that I published, at a point in my life, I realized I was having issues with anger discontrol from concussion traumas growing up. And that was manifesting in a way that wasn’t fair to my, my wife, my kids, those around me. And so I saw specialist, worked through it. And a lot of the things that we worked on over that three to four year period are what you and I are talking about today. And so those helped me develop as Viktor Frankl said, that pause between the stimulus and the response, and I would say over the last decade, a big thing for me has increasing been increasing that gap between the stimulus and response, so that I get to make the decisions in life, not my childhood, unconscious training that I wouldn’t know about unless I did that deep work. So I love that you’ve said that. And that takes us to the first area that is so simple for people to work on. Although you do highlight so many different ways for us to work on it, many of them that I didn’t know, which is breath control. So it’s a powerful strategy people can use to improve their body health, well-being in performance. And you say controlling your breathing means deliberately changing your breathing frequency, volume or a combination of both. What does that look like? And how does this concept of power ups, which I later realized, each one of the areas we’re going to attack tackles, some of the power ups that that you bring up when you talk about the breath work?

Greg Wells  22:16

First of all, I just want to pause for a moment and give you a little bit of a select some applause for, you know, clearly doing the deep work, even just the way that you describe the process that you’ve gone through and how you’re thinking about it now shows that you’ve done that work. And I just wanted to like, give you some props on that. And certainly, you know, pause and just also highlight the fact that you are talking about this publicly. And that helps to break down the stigma associated with struggling with our mental health. And it takes some time and it takes some work. And when we give ourselves permission to explore and deconstruct some of the behaviors or practices or reactions that we have to events that occur around us. And maybe we react in such a way where we’re thinking, yeah, maybe that wasn’t the best of Greg at that particular moment, right. But we then lean into that, why did that happen? And then when you explore that and discover what’s going on, you’re like, oh, it’s that thing. I can work on that. And what you described was trying to increase space and time between the events in the environment, and your behavioral response to that particular issue. If that time, and space is very short, someone says something and you immediately react with something to vitriolic comment that is typically a reaction, which is most likely not going to go well, unless you are a hyper-elite devil, massively trained, Special Forces soldier who has thought about every possible situation and how you will react instantaneously to those and you’ve trained that reaction over time. Most of us just have stuff happen to us. And we react and it doesn’t go very well. 

And what the Special Forces soldiers and police officers and SWAT team members who I’ve spoken to and thought about this with have all said, the more time and space you can create between stimulus and response, the more likely it is that you’re going to respond, not react, if we even just think about that in terms of our partner, or spouse, or any loved one, saying something to us that we find disagreeable, or we disagree with or is about bothering or you know, makes us not feel awesome. You just take a moment to breathe. It actually just looks like you’re thinking about it more deeply. And you’re considering what they’re saying when in fact, what you’re doing is calming yourself down. That little tiny breath, that little pause gives you just enough time to respond rather than react. And that response is usually much better than the reaction which leads us to the term response ability, not response ability. Its response ability, your ability to respond to a situation. And that’s the practice that elevates our response ability to make sure, as often as possible, no one’s going to be perfect, that we are doing our best for ourselves. 

And we are doing our best for the people around us in a very difficult life. Life is challenging. We make mistakes, it’s okay, we move on, we apologize. We take responses ability, and we move forwards. Now the beautiful thing about breathwork back to your question is that breathwork gives us that tactic that we can use during the pause between stimulus and response to settle your nervous system almost instantaneously to get out of a sympathetic stress activation zone into a parasympathetic, more relaxed state, where you can actually think when we are in a stressed state, we typically operate in a beta brainwave mode, highly activated, great for getting stuff done, but terrible, in terms of our ability to respond strategically to a situation, that little breath, the breath work practices, some of which I’ll describe in a moment, help us to get into parasympathetic more relaxed where you can access Alpha brainwave states, which enable planning, reflection, deconstructing deconstruction, strategic thinking and learning might have replete, repeated a couple of those. Sorry about that. And that’s where we where we want to be and it can happen almost instantaneously Dr. Robin Henley to follow my colleague who I referenced quite often, because she’s so awesome, describes one of those breathwork practices as the birthday candle breath. Just imagine that you’re sitting around the table, everyone sings you Happy Birthday, they put a cake in front of you, there’s lots of candles, and you just take that deep breath in. And you blow out all those candles, right? That’s something that just instantaneously settles your physiology and your psychology in. My friends who are firefighters often describe a practice called Box breathing, which is simply the birthday candle breaths spread out over time, where you can do four seconds in four seconds hold, four seconds out, four seconds hold. And you can repeat that cycle almost indefinitely. I do that quite often in meetings when I’m bored out of my mind, because I don’t like meetings. But I know that, you know, some of my colleagues who are firefighters, police officers, ambulance techs, paramedics, use that practice when they are in a difficult situation, and they need to stay calm, and oxygenated. And in control, they’ll just do that box breathing practice. And of course, there’s more advanced ones, like the Breath of Fire, which you can, you know, do to heat your body up. And that has many different breathwork practices. And we describe many of those in in the book, powerhouse. I’ve been using an app called other ship, which leads you through breathwork practices aligned with music, which is amazing. And check that out think it’s other And, yeah, there’s loads there. But it’s a cool practice basically around increasing space and times that you can respond instead of react. Does it also take you through Holotropic breathwork. Yes, and the beautiful thing about Holotropic breathwork, which requires significant amount of practice. And I would encourage you to do that with someone who knows how to read someone through that because your brain can go to interesting places. Simply put, for people listening, it basically is feels like you’re on acid, I’ve never done acid or LSD, I have no idea. But I imagined that if I did take acid and had those sort of hallucinations, or visualizations, or powerful colors and experiences and change of perception, all of that can be accessed using breathwork I mean there’s a reason why breath is such a powerful part of yoga meditation. And you can create some pretty wild feelings inside your brain like I felt like my head caught fire like there’s some really weird stuff that I’ve experienced. So definitely do that with someone who’s experienced and it can be it can be powerful and interesting but you definitely want a tour guide on that one for sure.

Clint Murphy  29:13

Greg, everyone tells you know you get emotional, you’ll cry and I’m like I never cry.  I don’t cry.  I’ve only done it once, it was guided session like you said, I was bawling. Like, Why am I crying? I never cried that hard in my life. Yeah, and it was like full body just emotional guttural release. It was insane. But the one so definitely powerful, just unbelievably powerful. What the body can do simply through breath, though, and similar to you. The one that I do pretty much all day every day. Is the box breathing, otherwise known as a lot of people will refer to it as Navy SEALs breathing. They seem to be the first ones that really introduced us all to it. And what is it about the box breathing like I’ll do five in five out, I just say, um, no man pad man. It’s like my mantra and just keep saying that. So it’s like my meditation slash mantra while I do it. And then I’ll do that in out, pause in between. So you’re breathing roughly three times per minute. What is it about that that just gets us to that calm spot? Is it the switch from the sympathetic to parasympathetic? And what’s that doing for people?

Greg Wells  30:30

Oh, my gosh, you know, there’s just so many little things. So earlier on, you mentioned when breath work is basically just deliberately changing your pattern of breathing, either by changing the frequency of breaths, how fast you breathe, or the volume of breath, how much how deeply you are breathing, either of those will change the total ventilation, how much air is moving in and out of your lungs. If you hold your breath, your oxygen levels will go down and your carbon dioxide levels will go up. If you hyperventilate, either fast breaths or deep breaths, you will blow off your so your co2 levels will go down, and your oxygen levels will go up to a maximum of 100%. beyond which they don’t improve, they don’t increase any further, obviously, all the oxygen is loaded on your blood at that point. And when we do breathwork practices like even the birthday candle breath, one deep breath, and a long exhale, we are blowing off co2. If we are doing box breathing, we are ensuring that we are stabilizing our oxygen levels, we’re stabilizing our co2 levels, we’re making sure that we’re taking enough air in and out of our lungs to exchange those two gases to make sure that our blood is then regulated, which then ensures that oxygen and co2 are regulated in our brain and our muscles and our digestive tract even sore basically to stabilizing our physiology. Now when we do long, slow exhales, that sends signals to the stress region stress control region of your brain from the breath control region of your brain called the medulla, telling the stress management system of the brain that everything’s okay. And as a result, it decreases the amount of signal going down from the brain to the glands that sit right on top of your kidneys called the adrenal glands that release adrenaline and cortisol. So basically, calming the nervous system, deliberately in reducing the stress responses through those long slow exhales, now you can actually do the opposite. And spark your stress system, if you want to be more activated, like if you’re playing sports or something like that. That’s why people do sharp exhales when they hit the ball in tennis, or pickleball, in your case, right. So that sharp exhale in alignment with a physical movement is very stressful. But that stress increases our power, which makes you a better a better able to hit the ball as hard as possible, right? Stress is fabulous for instantaneous performance, terrible for long term health. And so we want to alternate between moments of high performance, but then also moments of deep relaxation. And the challenge right now is that we are in a very activated state, so much of our days, because we are working, but then we check her email. And then we look at social and then God forbid, you check the news. It’s just a relentless stream of activation. So our chances to practice or I should even say chances, installing practices throughout our day, that give us a chance just to take that moment, take a breath, to 60 seconds of box breathing. Really put you in a state where you can then be a leader be someone who influences others in a positive way helps other people serves other people enables you to get into a mental state where you are able to do your best work. You can be the most creative, you can learn the most you can solve the problems, right? So all of these practices are quite magical in their ability to do that and can really benefit us if we do them at the right time. 

Clint Murphy  34:07

The one that jumped out at me that I hadn’t really done much of and, we all get tired. I’m on the west coast. So we’re recording 6:30am. Sorry, buddy. Toronto is always the center. We know that in Canada. Right? Right. So the I did live in Toronto for two years. I do love it.

Greg Wells  34:24

And I did live in the West for the last couple years. So I got it. 

Clint Murphy  34:27

Oh, yeah. Love it. So you talk about the idea to kind of wake up and get that focus back this idea of alternate nostril breathing. How do I do that? Like, what does that look like? Can you take us through a little guided alternate nostril breath?

Greg Wells  34:42

 Sure. So so many practices can help you to calm down but some other practices can actually help us to get fired up. This is a great one to do in the morning. If you’re just maybe sitting in for a minute and you’re just like notice that you’re struggling a little bit. You just want to bring some activity into your brain. In addition to the three, the three W’s of every morning. Wouldn’t you wake up, have some water and go for a walk right, the three W’s. And then after that you sit down to do some breath work, right. And basically, the way that this works is that you will inhale through one nostril, and exhale through the other nostril a few times, and then switch directions, and one nostril will be more open than the others. When you do this, for extended periods of time, you will actually notice that one nostril will change its openness over time. And so if we just simply, you can almost like take your pinky and your thumb on either side of your nose. And let’s just say that it’s your right hand, so your right hand is underneath, it’s sort of like by your mouth, your right thumb is on right nostril, your left, so your right pinky is then on your left nostril. And what we’ll do is keep your hand off your nose for a moment, we’ll exhale completely, place your right hand on your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. Then place your pinky on your left nostril, and exhale out of your right nostril. Just do three cycles that. In on the left, out on the right. One more, and on the left, out on the right. And then switch directions will go in on the right. Out on the left and on the right. Out on the left. And last one. Now in addition to just getting you to breathe deeply, which is cool, what you will probably notice is that you actually have to think about that. 

Clint Murphy  37:04

So almost like my mind, right? 

Greg Wells  37:05

Like, It requires some concentration. Yeah. And so it’s actually a practice of mindfulness. And you mentioned your mantra, which is beautiful. Mind is simply I am not this body, I am not even this mind. And I just repeat that over and over and over again to remind myself that I’m not this, it is something else. And so breathwork often then leads us into mindfulness, which is simply keeping your attention in the present moment. And you can do that through counting your breaths, you can do that through paying attention to the feel of air moving in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can do that through alternate nostril breathing, where it actually requires some attention to make sure that you’re doing it properly. Right. So all of these practices begin to merge, and you end up with this energized body because you’ve got so much oxygen in your system, and calm, settled mind, which is a very high performance state for us under most circumstances. So yeah, pretty cool. Glad you brought that up. 

Clint Murphy  38:04

And I love that you said that. That was the observation I had while I was doing it is how much of this benefit is simply because through the act of doing this, I’m forcing myself to be mindful, which then leads to the benefits of mindfulness that tie in to the breathing. So I love that you brought that up. So we’re going to switch though now we’re going to talk about walking, you’ve talked about walking a couple times, and since I had Kelly and Juliet started on the show to talk about their book built to move, I’ve increased my step count to about 13,500 a day. Pickleball is getting in the way a little having some challenges with the knees from that. But it led to me being pretty happy to read this line that you wrote, which is consistent with some of what they wrote in their book, which was when you move consistently, you get healthier, improve your well being increase your energy and optimize your human potential. Thought that was powerful, and also that it’s not the extraordinary amount of walking you need to do to see the benefits. So So sure, if we walk more, we’re gonna get potentially more benefits. But I think you wrote that you decrease your risk of mortality by 50 to 70% by simply walking 7000 steps per day. So I’m going to pass it over to you to talk about the power of walking in and we’ll dive into this one deeper.

Greg Wells  39:32

Sure. It really all revolves around physical activity and the data from at least the country that I live in Canada indicates that around 85% of the population doesn’t get enough physical activity to prevent a chronic disease. The numbers are worse and children I’m quite positive the data would be similar in the United States. I think that Australia is probably a little bit better than US and UK and Europe are probably quite similar. And the game then is just to increase our general habitual physical activity. levels and where I used to say, like had to hit heart rate zones. And now, so I couldn’t care less, all I want you to do is to move your body in any way shape or form because 85% of us aren’t even doing that, right. So we’re starting to just simply move in any way you want, whatever you love. So if it happens to be walking, spectacular, I’m super into walking right now do some phone calls, while walking, listen to podcasts, listen to music. I’m aiming for five kilometers a day, which is 5 to 6000 steps during that actual workout, then plus whatever I do for the rest of the day, which gets me into that seven to 8000 zone. But if it’s gardening, that’s amazing. If it’s housework, that’s all good. If it’s pickleball, that’s fantastic tennis, swimming, whatever it is, I don’t care just move your body as much as you possibly can. The data would suggest it although we heard previously, the 10,000 steps are sort of like the goal for every that we were supposed to try to achieve when a larger study was done on number of steps correlated with longevity and mortality rates. That studies suggested that in and around 7000 seems to confer the most benefits. So but the reality is that if you’re at 2000, right now, because you have a desk job, then get 2500, well, it doesn’t really matter, we don’t need to hit any number, we’re just sort of nudging ourselves up. If you’re at 20,000, you’re probably doing too much like pump the brakes and go have a conversation with your partner, your spouse and have dinner with someone and sit down and have a meal. You don’t need to do a half marathon every single day. But in general, we’re just looking to increase the general habitual physical activity. Dr. Jane Schneiderman at SickKids hospital where I’m a researcher looked at physical activity levels in children with cystic fibrosis, which is a lung disease, it’s a genetic disease. And we already knew that there was a number of factors that affected how long these children would live, lung infections, digestion, but we were exploring physical activity. And what she found was that general habitual physical activity level which is essentially the number of steps that you take throughout the course of the day, was one of the highest and strongest predictors of the rate of lung function decline, simply the more the child moved, the healthier their lungs stayed for longer. And when we look at data from heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and specifically type two diabetes, we see the same relationship, the more that we move, the longer our lifespan, the lower our risk for chronic disease, and less mortality and morbidity that we experience. We’ve also discovered that physical activity increases aspects of our cognition like learning, alertness, concentration, problem solving, creativity, most of which was summarized beautifully in a book sparked by Dr. John Ratey. If anyone wants to check that out, it’s a great read. But simply when we move our brains, we’re better. And so there’s a justification for adding physical activity to your day, whether you’re at school, whether you’re at work, doesn’t matter, the more we move, the better we get in almost every aspect of our life. It also helps us to deal with the physiological effects of stress and anxiety. It is very difficult right now, for many people for many different, very legitimate reasons. And we experience stress, which dumps cortisol and adrenaline into our bodies, which is great for running and fighting. But in our world, right now, you can’t just punch someone and then run away, we’re not allowed to do that we still have to engage with the situation without having that that type of reaction, which might have served us 10,000 years ago, but definitely does not right now. And one of the ways we can break down cortisol and adrenaline in our bodies is by contracting our muscles that physical contraction, actually breaks those molecules down and helps us to dissipate the levels of cortisol, and adrenaline. So the more stress we experience in our lives, the more we need to install physical activity, practices and habits and routines and rituals. To help us build this into our lives. It’s counterintuitive, because the more stressed we are often the less we want to work out. But in fact, the more stressed we are, the more we need to work out and the bigger of an effect that it has upon us. And the reason why I talk a lot about walking is because it’s accessible. You don’t need to go to the gym. Yeah, exactly. It’s Bronson running shoes, go for a walk. Five minutes works. An hour is incredible. Listen to some music, listen to a podcast, go with a friend or go by yourself, whatever just move in any way that works for you. 

Clint Murphy  44:30

And the one thing you mentioned in there that I found to be an unbelievable benefit to walking as a creator is the creativity and the ideation that simply happens on a long walk like all people will often say to me, Well, hey, how do you write so much for your newsletter for Twitter? And I often say well, I actually write while I walk like I just I noodle ideas and I write had, you know I write the headline and then I and then I just keep thinking and I get the subheadings. And it’s like, okay, when I get home, I just have to fill that in, I’ve created the body just by walking the dog, and so for you is creativity, something you really see spike up when you’re doing more walking.

Greg Wells  45:15

I love that by the way. And I also write as I walk. And so we describe it as taking some LSD. But in this term, it’s actually long, slow distance, right? It’s not the drug, although that works too. I’ll microdose next year and do record a podcast and see what happens. But LSD in my world is long, slow distance. So walk, jog, run, swim, like paddle. Any of those types of rhythmic repetitive activities, works wonders. Flow Yoga also works. Funny enough driving long distances also works and what happens during those activities. Because everyone just think like driving along distance in the highway, your mind starts to wander. That’s a creative states called a theta, brainwave state, it’s very slow, you’re about to fall asleep. So don’t do that if you’re driving. But just I say that, because it’s a state that most people can identify with, will also happen in and around rhythmic water. So showers, waterfalls, those sorts of things. If there’s a rhythmic pattern of water, it will drop you into the states why? There’s a form of meditation in the Buddhist tradition, where meditating next to a waterfall is practiced, and it’s because it drops you into a theta brainwave state. So in order for us to enter theta brainwaves are very, very slow, we need to move, we can move ourselves in a rhythmic, repetitive pattern. Let’s just imagine this going for a walk. And you will notice as you do that, if you leave your phone at home, and don’t look at your electronic devices, and leave your watch, and don’t worry, there’s 100 other people around you that have their phones, if anything goes wrong, they can call someone for use like you’ll be you’ll be fine without your phone for half an hour. And just go for a walk. And you will notice initially that your mind is active, the mind being sort of the chattery voices in your head. And after a while, they’ll begin to settle and you’ll notice thoughts coming and going. And even a little while thereafter, you will be able to relax into it such that you are not having active thoughts, you are not actively thinking about any one thing. You allow your mind to wander. And it goes in all sorts of different places. Sometimes you may come up with new ideas that are helpful. Other times, it may come up with you replaying events from your past that may not serve you and you just let them go. whether they’re good or they’re bad, we just let them go. And then you are in a theta brainwave state. And that is when you can access true creativity. Because what’s happening is two different regions, two or more different regions of the brain will become active at the same time and joined together through the deep white matter tracks of the brain. And that’s why we put quote unquote, two and two together. That’s why we have these eureka moments where you see things in a different way, you come up with a new solution to an old problem with love and respect, you’re probably not going to come up with the major solution to the challenge that you’re faced with you’re in your life. In your email inbox, as you are responding to everybody else’s requests of you, you’re probably going to have that insight, the new lesson plan, the new flow of chords in music, the different way to approach a character and drama, the new package of products that you can bundle together into a solution for your clients, whatever that magical combination is that new solution to an old problem will probably pop into your head when you are in that theta brainwave state. In the shower in the morning, when you’ve closed your eyes, the water’s going off your forehead and used to relax for a moment, you’ll have that eureka moment might happen to you all you are out for a long walk. It is also what I think so many people in business are getting away from going out and playing golf as a way of socializing in business and getting out onto the bike and cycling. Number of cyclists in business situations is exploding. And that’s because when you’re out for a long bike ride with people, your mind settles because you’re doing that rhythmic repetitive activities, slightly cardiovascular nature in nature, you are in nature, and you enter into a theta brainwave state where you have these incredible creative ideas pop into your brain, which you can then chat about with your colleagues while you’re out on the bike. It’s a different approach, it leads to some extraordinarily valuable insights valuable in terms of service really come up with these great new ideas, which you can then use to elevate the positive impact that you can have in the world or whatever it is that you’re great at. And those ideas pop into our brain when we are doing these activities which we do not normally associate with being quote unquote productive, right productivity is just like typing on a keyboard or something like that, where this is just going for a walk in ideating but that’s where you’re gonna come up with those new solutions to new problems. So please give yourself permission to do that even if it’s only once a week, like Sunday morning, go for a walk by yourself, leave your phone at home, take that half hour take that hour for you. If you can build it into other aspects of your week, that’s awesome as well, but little tiny things here and there will make a difference.

Clint Murphy  50:12

I’m a big fan before it became a craze of walk and talks at work. So when you have a team member, whether it’s your boss, whether it’s someone who reports to you, getting out for a walk for them, and having that conversation, it also allows that bonding between the two people because now you’re not, you know, you’re not rushed, you’re not stressed, you’re not well, I gotta get to my next meeting. It’s like, hey, we’re out for a walk for an hour, hour and a half. We’re just gonna get to know each other. And we’re gonna go deep. And I’ve often found that a great way to do it, Greg, when it comes to the walking, and it comes to the exercise, whichever form we choose. One important concept that I love is, you know, you hear growing up this concept of use it or lose it, you think, Well, what do they mean by that, but there’s some research that shows that our body when we start these exercise regimes, if you will, our body really picks up to them quickly, within I thought I read within two weeks, it’s like, okay, that’s now done something. But then the flip side of it is, as soon as we stop using it, our body quickly says, maybe it’s a survival mechanism or body says, We no longer find that useful. We’ve stopped doing it so we’re going to like delete that from the memory bank. Although you then find that you’ll learn this when you’re young with weightlifting, you come back 10 years later, and your gains are quicker than another person’s because your body retains some of that muscle memory, I think we’ve always called it. So how does this all work? Like learning it, unlearning it, and then the muscle memory of it. 

Greg Wells  51:45

The beautiful thing about our bodies is that our bodies and our brains is that they are hyper-responsive to whatever it is that we do, positively or negatively. So if you go for a walk, and you can track your muscles, some of those muscle fibers will get broken. And when they get broken, they will rebuild themselves to be slightly stronger than they were before. Imagine going into the weight room, you lift weights, you tear micro tear your muscles, you feel sore afterwards, and your muscles get slightly stronger, which means the next day that you go in, you’re able to lift more weights. On a walk, you have better cardiovascular fitness. Because your lungs get a little bit bigger, your heart gets a little bit stronger, your blood vessels become a little bit more elastic, you produce more red blood cells. This takes time, but over days, weeks, months years, you can build that physical capacity up. The same thing happens in our brains. When it comes to stress, we grow new neurons, we grow more connections between those neurons, we improve vascularization or blood flow to the brain, we increase myelination, or fat that wraps around our neurons in our brains and protects them from damage just like bark on the branch of a tree. All of these positive effects occur when we are doing practices like exercise, meditation, listening to or playing music, art, reading, journaling, all of these things are fabulous for us. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well, the body well it costs energy to maintain structures, if you have big muscles, they cost a lot of energy. If you have a lot of mitochondria, they cost energy to maintain they’re built of proteins and they take energy to run and maintain. Similarly, with brain cells, they’d cost an enormous amount of energy in order to run and to maintain. So when the body notices that you are not using them, let’s say that you are sitting around for three days not exercising, your body’s like, oh, we’re not moving anymore. Fair enough, we’ll get rid of some of these muscles that you clearly don’t need and use the protein for something else. And I’ve got this exercise physiology textbook. And at the end of the training section, there is a final section and it’s got this graph that shows incremental gains in many different things blood muscle, nervous system, heart, lungs, VO2 Max like, you see these long, slow increases in all of those with two years of training and they got they got up to this very high level returned, you can lose about 30% or more of all of those gains in as little as 72 hours. And I was like what, like, ah, which basically means like, you can relax for a weekend and then you gotta get back on it. Now when we’re young, and we’ve got the hormonal environment of growth and development, testosterone and a bunch of other chemicals or hormones flowing through our system, it’s not that big of a deal because you’re primed for rapid adaptation. As we get older, we don’t have that positive hormone environment for growth, repair and regeneration anymore. It becomes even more profound because our ability to respond to training decreases and your setpoint gets lower. So consistency matters more and more and more the older that we get or the higher that you want. to end up on the athletic or cycling or cognitive performance spectrum. So really, that’s what’s going on. And that’s the whole idea behind use it or lose it. So in addition to, you know, the 1% principle that we talked about at the beginning, the other principle that maybe is a great place for us to sort of put a bow on all of our discussions around is consistency. You don’t need to do very much. But it really matters that we’re consistent. And this comes from someone who used to be very much a weekend warrior, sort of between my actual athlete days and where I am now, there was the weekend warrior Greg phase, whereas now I’m very much interest, I would much rather go for a 15 minute walk every single day than do a six hour bike ride on the weekend. So that consistency matched with that 1% is really the combination that almost guarantees success, whether that’s your mindset, whether that’s your physiology, whether that’s your emotional regulation, that’s the magic consistent practices over a long period of time, almost always win. 

Clint Murphy  56:07

Yeah it’s hard. It’s hard to lose when you take that mindset. And a number of times in the conversation, Greg, we’ve talked about stress, and so many young people will say in the workplace, well, I don’t want to I don’t want to be stressed, I don’t want to be stressed. I like to say well, wait, wait a second, you know, there. Let’s break out the York’s Dodson curve. You do want to be stressed a little. You never want to not be stressed. You want to have enough stress, that it’s motivating you, but not so much stress that it’s completely shutting you down. How does that tie to this concept, you called it Mitohermesis.  Am I might be totally wrong with that. No, good. I’m trying to tie those two together, Mitohermesis and York’s Dodson curve. Can you, am I way off based on that? Or is there another tie in? Okay. 

Greg Wells  56:55

Yeah, so let’s talk about the Yorks Dodson law from 1908. 

Clint Murphy  56:58

It’s that old?

Greg Wells  57:00

It is that old.

Clint Murphy  57:01

I did not know that I thought that was like 1990. Okay.

Greg Wells  57:05

. But in the way that that curve works is that imagine on the y axis, you have performance, and on the x axis, you have activation, he’s called it arousal, but we reframed it to activation. So imagine that you have a low activation level, you’re sitting on the couch not doing anything, your performance is going to be pretty low, because you’re bored, there’s nothing to do, you’re not motivated, you’re tired, you’re like, nothing on the far right hand side of the curve. On the activation scale, you are stressed, nervous, tense, anxious as result, performance. Also not good. Imagine doing a nervous music performance or seeing an actor who is nervous on stage or an athlete who is nervous on the start line, not gonna go well, we know that so no stress, no activation, bad performance, high stress, high activation, not good for performance. Neither of those states are good for your health, either. In the middle, is what’s known as the ideal performance state. Some people also refer to this as a flow state where you are energized, you’re activated, you are motivated, but you are not too tense. You’re in that state where you can do what you love to do at a high level, and you are free. And we feel like everything is easy. And that is a high performance zone. Think about those runs, where you’ve gone out and everything just flowed or seemed easy, or the tests that you wrote, where you could access all of the answers and get them out of the meeting that you’re in where you were just dialed or if you’re a teacher, those moments when you’re teaching in the class is dialed in. And you can see the light bulbs going off in the little brains, right? Like these magical moments of our ideal performance. And the game there is to get into a state where we are activated but not too stressed. Which leads us into the physiological explanation for this, which is a principle called hormesis. When it comes to our mitochondria, it’s Mitohormesis. And basically what this idea is, is that a little bit of stress, a moderate amount of stress, a reasonable amount of stress, it’s actually really, really, really good for us. Challenge is incredibly important to get us motivated, it activates us and brings us into the state where we can do what we love to do. However, too much stress makes us sick, can even kill you. So no stress, not good. high stress, not good, moderate amount of stress, fabulous. An example of this would be heat, for example, right? Like no heat, you get cold and you die. moderate amount of heat, everything’s good. Too much heat. Hyperthermia, you die, right. So you can sit in a sauna for 20 minutes fine. You sit in a sauna for a day and you’re dead. Same thing goes with cold, a little bit of cold cold shower, improves your immune system, some cold water immersion if you want to go and do that pretty good, but we’re talking like five minutes, like five to 10 degrees, too much cold hypothermia, and you die, exercises the same no exercise. Not good you die. right amount of exercise increases longevity too much exercise, you said you get sick and you get injured. It’s all about balance. And this applies to many vegetables that you eat. This amounts to the amount of sleep that you get the intensity of your relationships, exercise, hot, cold, it literally blows out of the water. Every extreme thing that you hear about on social media that’s designed to get clicks and followers generally will not work for the long term, the very boring non social media viral ideas, this idea of four pieces which is that a little bit is good. A lot is not and that applies to almost everything in our life. 

Clint Murphy  1:00:52

A little is good, a lot is not. I believe I read that in the book and I love that line. A little is good, a lot is not in almost everything we’re talking about. If we apply those rules, we’ll be in good shape. Something you hit on right there. You talked a little bit about the sauna a little bit about the cold plunge. I see a lot of people on the internet really debating these cold plunges right now is there science, they’re not science. So what is it about the hot and cold exposure that really does well for us. I mean, I got a sauna off to the right here. I’ve got a steam room upstairs that I love to meditate in the Steam Room to your point earlier about the waterfall and the sound of the steam and just make sure you’re sitting in the right spot. I have had an incident where I passed out forward and did a little faceplant on the tiles. It was oh, you know, you and I were talking earlier, I was doing long, long box breathing while in the steam and don’t do that. So anyway, unless you’re laying down, so over to you like what is that about the hot and the cold exposure that does good things for us in our cellular work?

Greg Wells  1:01:58

You know, it’s interesting, we did a series of studies in my lab back at the University of Toronto when I was there with grad student, Jillian White, who ended up getting her PhD. And we published all of these studies on cold and inflammation and a number of other sort of pro or anti inflammatory practices like massage, for example would be another one. And when we look at heat, and saunas for hot baths work, also and getting out into a very hot summer day also works. Essentially, when we do heat exposure that triggers the release of a molecule in our bodies called a heat shock protein, which then circulates around your body and generally speaking works to improve your cardiovascular system, which is your arteries and veins and capillary beds. That improves your ability to deliver oxygen to tissues throughout your body. So we say that heats really good for your cardiovascular system. But again, a little bit is good a lot is not so you know, three saunas a week, three hot baths a week 10 to 20 minutes, just enough to make you sweat is right where we want to be with that one. Of course, you can do a little bit more with training, but in general, you know, three hot baths a week, three saunas a week, and you’re gonna get an 80 to 90% of those benefits the point of sweating, and that’s all that you need to do. When it comes to cold water immersion or then we are looking at decreasing body temperature and what we have found on that one is that it doesn’t really affect and people are going to lose their minds when I say this. But in our lab, we found it didn’t really change. inflammatory markers. When anyone says cold reduces inflammation, I actually don’t know if it does our data does certainly doesn’t support that. We’ve also shown that if it gets too cold, your inflammatory markers go up. Similarly, if you’re in the cold water for too long your inflammatory markers go up. But what we do see consistently with cold water immersion and cryotherapy chambers as well, is that there is a decrease in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and an increased activity in the parasympathetic rest and recover system. So for example, when I do cold water immersion, my heart rate will drop 30 to 40 beats relative to what I was doing right before I got into the cold water. So I use it as a mental health practice rather than an anti inflammatory practice per se, which is I know what a lot of people are using it for, I think that there’s probably something there but we don’t really know and we need to tease that out a little bit better. So simply what we say is that heat is great for your cardiovascular system, whereas cold is really good for your nervous system. If you want to get those benefits of anti inflammation, then we recommend eating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables because every one of those different colors is there as a result of in polyphenols and flavonoids and compounds that go into your body and scrape out oxidation and inflammatory damage. So we use nutrition as anti inflammation cold for helping your nervous system to recover and regenerate and heat for the cardiovascular system. But again, with all of this, we want extraordinarily large amounts of moderation. So everything in moderation, even moderation, but no, I’m just kidding. But we just want to, you know, three times a week, 10 minutes of heat 30 seconds cold shower, maybe three times a week in cold water, one to two minutes at a time is like five to six minutes total for an entire week like we are not doing much. We are just doing a little bit. We are sprinkling it throughout our lives, to help us to repair, recover and regenerate in a very reasonable way. If anyone wants to dig into this, like really dig into it, and really read all the science about it, Dr. Rhonda Patrick has written a very good sequence of information on her website on hot sauna use of just search Dr. Rhonda Patrick sauna, and she has also done a great review on Coldwater immersion. So again, just do Dr. Rhonda Patrick cold and you’ll find both of those resources for free on her website, you can read extensively about all of the research on that. And she I think is nailed it in terms of her analysis, I think she is actually quite correct in the way that she is interpreted that information.

Clint Murphy  1:06:09

So we’ve gone pretty far and wide. Now through the book on a number of topics when it comes to thriving. Greg, what are one or two things that you want to see people adopt in their life that, you know, let’s Pareto Principle? What are two or three things that 20% effort and we’re gonna see 80% results are thriving in our lives.

Greg Wells  1:06:32

You know, when it comes to thriving, which is like getting out of languishing back into thriving, right, like, I dug through all sorts of research trying to find out what’s the key to us getting out of the state that we have been out of being stuck. And I found this really cool study that shows that the strength of your social connections is one of the strongest predictors of mortality, and longevity, even stronger than quitting smoking, doing cardiac rehab after a heart attack, even stronger than physical activity, even stronger than quitting drinking. So your social connections are some of the most powerful keys to living a long, healthy, thriving life. And over the last few years, for very good reason, in my opinion, we needed to maybe not be together as much as we want it to be. And so now, I’m strongly encouraging people to rebuild those in person relationships, make the phone calls, send the text messages, have the coffee dates, go for the walks, play the pickleball have people over for dinner, whatever your comfort level is, with all of that stuff right now. But we want to rebuild our relationships, rebuild our connections. And a simple idea that you can just break out a piece of paper and think about is who are the five people that you want to spend more time with, personally, and who are the five people that you want to spend more time with professionally. So the personal group would be people who you want to go to your workouts, whereas you want to play music with or you want to just go and make great food and sit and laugh and have a good time with whereas the people who you want to hang out with professionally, those who elevate your career, who elevate your ability to help you have that positive impact in the world, it whatever it is that you care about most, of course, you want to also help others, you want to, you know, be of service to and not service in a negative way at all just like serve but help other people elevate their lives as well. So we end up on this positive upward cycle of well being and happiness and joy and thriving again, after several years of really, really struggling. And I think one of the keys to thriving is rebuilding those relationships and nurturing those connections and spending time with people that we love people that we enjoy people who make our lives better. And of course, that means by extension, you’re gonna have to spend a little bit less time with some other people who maybe don’t lift you up. And that’s totally okay. Because we have a very limited amount of time on this earth in this experience of our lives. And the more time that we can spend with those people that we love, who elevate us who make life great, and who we help as well. My gosh, such a game changer. So that’s my final idea for you around thriving. Like that’s literally the only idea that I have for you around thriving. Just do that. Spend more time with the people that you love. Crack yourself up, tease people on a pickleball court, right, like whatever it happens to be. That’s what we’re looking to do right now.

Clint Murphy  1:09:35

Yeah, in the one thing that I really valued COVID for I mean, it’s really hard to say that right? I valued COVID for something, but it’s the prioritization. In earlier you talked about response ability, and COVID showed how we can have more control over our lives. I don’t have to just spend every weekend going to visit eight people that I would spend an entire day driving to see, and then just sit there and everybody’s on their phones, or you’re making small talk. It’s what do I want in my life? Who do I want to spend that time with? And how am I going to make deliberate choices to use my hours on this earth in the way that I want to use them? And COVID sort of gave permission to do that. Now COVID is over? Do people just go back to the exact way they were doing it? Or do they take a more, let’s call it deliberate and intentional approach to how they schedule their lives. And for me, that’s been the greatest benefit of COVID is learning that level of deliberateness or intentionality, to the choices that I make on a daily basis? And yes, filling some of that time with great quality time with the people that will lift you up in the dosage that you want to choose. Does that make sense?

Greg Wells  1:11:05

It does, there’s so much there to unpack, I learned a lot during COVID, as well, some of it was really great. And other things were not so exactly, I, I do hear you that there was some positive things that emerged from that time, and one of them was around that idea of like, this was a hard reset. It literally gave you license to stop everything. And we stopped everything, like everything, for out of necessity. And the biggest danger, I think now is returning to normal. Because prior to the pandemic, we had 25% of the population diagnosed sleeping disorder 50 to 60% of the population with overweight or obese at 85%, not getting enough physical activity and one in five people with a mental health challenge. Now we have all of the above plus 40, to 50%, with burnout and overwhelm. And so the significant danger right now is that we just unconsciously returned to normal. Yeah, not sure if normal was serving us. And the grand opportunity is to deliberately craft a new path forwards, where you can optimize your life, they don’t optimize like toxic optimization, like you have to be perfect at everything I’m not like I’m definitely all over the place on. Sometimes I do really well. And other days, I don’t and that’s totally fine. Like, we’re just trying to do a little bit better every single day and nudge the needle a little bit in the right direction. But you also alluded to the thought that we can control a lot more than we give ourselves credit for in our lives. And what I would encourage people to think about on this is with regards to your life, what is it that you can control? And what can you not control sort of I first learned about this from Stephen Covey. In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People actually saw him speak in the 90s. And this is when I learned that, like way, way back is one of the founding ideas in my life in my 20s. But the idea there is that when you can influence the outcome of a certain thing, it is worth putting your time, effort, attendance, attention and energy into that one thing. If you cannot influence that one thing, then we just simply move on, it’s not even worth barely thinking about it. Yes, so often we get caught up in allocating attention and energy towards things that we cannot control. We cannot influence. Think about politics, for example, or, you know, other this, this some of the significant challenges in the world that we cannot control others we can control, we can influence and we can move the needle on. And that’s where we need to. And Ken I think allocate our attention, energy and focus. And when we do that, we change our immediate environment, the people around us the companies that we work with the schools that we contribute to. So that simple locus of control, being aware of what that is, are you What can you control? What can you not control and allocating your attention and energy towards the areas that you can control? Oh, my gosh, that is such a stress reliever. And it’s also super empowering, right? Because you feel like what you are doing is actually making a difference. Whereas railing against the news cycle is just gonna send you into a pit of darkness in the cesspool that is commenting on social media these days. So anyway, that Locus of Control piece is magic. I’m glad you figured that out. Drink COVID We certainly have been thinking about that a great deal as well. It’s definitely one of the things I’m trying to teach my kids.

Clint Murphy  1:14:49

Yeah, for those who may have a Christian leaning I mean it’s it’s very stoic I found later in life finding stoicism and then reexamining Stephen Covey’s rules. They’re very stoic in nature, which also ties to early Christianity. I mean, it was around the same time, stoicism, Buddhism, Christianity were all right around the same time. And so I always think of when you think of locus of control is the Serenity Prayer, right is the accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to recognize the difference between the two. When we start doing that, we’re going to change our lives. And so I always finished with four rapid fire questions. The first one being, what’s the one book you’ve read that’s been most influential to you. You already said seven habits, that’s mine. So what’s yours?

Greg Wells  1:15:42

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. So okay, it’s an awesome little book I actually interviewed him for my podcast, was one of the coolest interviews I’ve ever done in my life. And it basically walks through his experience as a young gymnast who had a catastrophic accident and then returned to becoming a world champion, but then most importantly, essentially going down the path towards enlightenment. And I had a catastrophic accident when I was a teenager as well, I broke my neck. So I read it at that time. So it was very powerful for me, but I love the wisdom of it. And I love the process of it. And it’s an easy read. So that would definitely be one that I would highly recommend for people. It’s awesome.

Clint Murphy  1:16:24

I’m definitely I’m pulling it up on Amazon right now as we speak. So what are you reading right now? What’s on the what’s on the shelf that you’re really digging into at the moment?

Greg Wells  1:16:34

I’ve got live by Peter Atea. That’s what I am okay, into. So I alternate between like hardcore, like knowledge development stuff. So I’ve got one for personal health and wellness and reading out live by Dr. Peter Atea. And I’m reading creativity, Inc, by Ed Catmull, who was the director at Pixar, and he was just a yes, absolute genius in creativity and revolutionising the movie industry. So those are the two books that I’m playing with right now. But then on the other end of the spectrum, I literally read fantasy and fiction to help me fall asleep at night. So like the most ridiculous sci fi out there, nothing fantasy dragon slaying stories, because that just gets me out of my head and enables me to fall asleep. So I kind of alternate between my morning reading which is more podcasts or audiobooks, which is around something to do with learning in the evening, which is just off of decompressing from crazy days. So okay, it was reading to make that happen.

Clint Murphy  1:17:32

We’re gonna geek out for a second, what’s your favorite fantasy series?

Greg Wells  1:17:35

Well, I reread Lord of the Rings every year, I typically go through Harry Potter front to back every couple years. Every couple of years, The Expanse series has been interesting. lately. I’ve enjoyed that one. So if reread the foundation series by Asimov, I read it when I was a teenager, I recently reread it. Now a completely different experience. So yeah, all of those are are good.

Clint Murphy  1:17:57

I love it. I’m a fantasy geek. And in my spare time, write some fantasy with my sister. So we got to publish our first book, that’s, you know.

Greg Wells  1:18:05

I’ve written five like health and wellness books, I’m actually toying with the idea of writing an actual like fiction book. That’s a cute super curiosity. I’m glad that you’re doing that. That’s giving me some inspiration that I need to go down. I need to follow that, that urge.

Clint Murphy  1:18:20

You won’t be surprised that most of the ideas, most of the chapters, most of the writing comes from either long walks without music, just you know, forgot the phone. So long walks or meditation session, okay? And so it’s you’re just sitting there and all of a sudden, an idea comes up. And it’s like, oh, whoa, let me let me just explore that for the rest of this walk. You come in, I’m just like firing because I write with my sister. So I’m just firing her voice notes. I’m like, here’s the next chapter. And then she’ll write it just such a fun experience. Cool. What’s one thing that Dr. Greg has spent less than $1,000 on in the last 24 months if that I wish I bought this sooner.

Greg Wells  1:19:04

A foam rolling kit. Yeah, there you go. And I’ve got on, I should go find it. I’ll send it over to you. You can include it in the show notes. It’s basically like there’s one small foam roller for your feet. There’s a slightly larger one that’s really hard for your quads. And then there’s a big soft one for your spine. And I think it was like a couple hundred bucks. I bought it at the start of COVID. And it is as someone who’s entering a like former athlete who’s done a lot of damage to his body over the years. It is like gold when you roll everything out. And you find you know, you mentioned crying during breathwork like I cry when I foam roll. It physically hurts, but for some reason it brings out like waves of emotional shock. Yeah, like my quads. So and God forbid I dig into my calves that’s even worse. So yeah, the foam rollers have been a game changer. 

Clint Murphy  1:20:00

Sure, it’s like there’s a level of sadism and masochism to like, to a foam roller like, there’s like it hurts, but in such a good way, but it’s like, I don’t want to do it, but I do.

Greg Wells  1:20:12

Yeah. And I was in a gym, I had it on my calves sitting on my butt and my feet were up and my calf was resting on the foam roller. And my buddy is a trainer is like, dude, you gotta like, lift up your hips and get some weight into your calf. I mean, like, I, there’s no way that I’m going to do that right now. Like I’m in significant amounts of pain, just with the weight of my foot. Yeah, like the way to train trainers, go sit over there and stop talking. And I’m just gonna hang out here and vicious and roll out my calves. That’s a good one.

Clint Murphy  1:20:46

I’m with you, okay, because the show is about growth and improvement. What’s one habit, mindset shift or behavior change has had the biggest impact on your life. 

Greg Wells  1:20:57

A few years ago, my daughter, Ingrid gut. And anyone who’s heard me speak in podcasts and stuff has heard the story before but my daughter, Ingrid got the flu. That flu virus went back through her nasal nerve into her brain. She ended up with viral encephalitis and significant challenges around that. She’s fine now with minor hearing deficits, but still that process of her being very sick convulsions, I just bad, bad, bad, bad, horrific environment when your young child is, is not well. And when we were coming out of that, and trying to figure out as a family, how do we make sure that we heal Ingrid’s brain, we really started to work on sleep. And that was a big chunk of the ripple effect book that I wrote a while ago as a result of that experience. And so we’re really trying now just to defend our last hour, go to bed at the same time, most nights, get away from the technology later in the evenings, teaching our children to do the same. But sleep has been the magic. And then when it comes to habits, I’ve also been trying to shift away from just habits which are sort of unconsciously programmed behaviors, sorry, be programmed to behaviors that are now unconscious, we’ve done them so often, and more towards rituals, which are routines that have meaning. And so my walk would be an example of a ritual, right? Like, it’s a practice that is mine, that is meaningful to me. And so if the listeners, if you all in the audience listening today can think about something that is meaningful to you that you want to practice. That is your ritual. And powerful rituals can be life altering, because they elevate your life, they make you better, and they are yours, they are meaningful to you. And that can be anything could be dinner with your family, it can be your meditation practice, it can be your journaling, it can be anything, but we just want to have those meaningful practices in our life, not just habits, habits, decreased mental energy required to get through the day. Ideally, your habits are positive. We want to build those positive habits, but it’s the rituals, the meaningful practices that are the game changers. So around sleep, for example, I love reading to my son, before he falls asleep. It’s the greatest thing, right? And that’s a ritual for us. He is now shifting to he towards some other thing he wants to read by himself. And we now know I can still read, I can still help you out with this. But he’s he’s ready to move on. I’m not yet but I’m gonna try to see if I can get at least a few more weeks out of him before he gets a little bit older.

Clint Murphy  1:23:27

I love it. Is there anything that we didn’t cover from Powerhouse that you want to leave the reader with? 

Greg Wells  1:23:33

Honestly, it’s just literally about energy. The whole book was about energy. I wrote it because when I was looking around, I noticed people were tired, they were burned out, they were fatigue, they were stressed. And the answer to that is, is more energy and not in more energy in a negative way or in a like you can do better type way. It’s just simply like letting people know that there are little things that they can do to feel better. And doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter how you feel right now. And I know so many people are really struggling. And I just hope that by practicing these little tiny things that people feel a little bit better and is as dark as it may be right now there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see it at the moment. But just do one little tiny thing. 60 seconds, 30 seconds, even just a flash of mindset that sparks you in any way. And you’ll end up going in the right direction. And I celebrate everyone for you and thinking about it much less even doing it. That sounds like something you might be interested in. You want to pick up the book, I would be deeply honored and grateful to help point you in the right direction.

Clint Murphy  1:24:41

And where can people find you?

Greg Wells  1:24:43

My website’s on all my social media are @DrGregWells and everything is there. The books are there, the podcast is there, the blogs there so we’d love to hear from everyone.

Clint Murphy  1:24:52

Love it. Thank you for joining me today though it was a wonderful conversation together.

Greg Wells  1:24:55

Wasn’t that fun? I love that. That was so great. Thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s a huge honor Cheers

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