Kirsten Peterson, PhD, is a performance psychologist, leadership coach, speaker, and most recently an author, having just published her first book, When Grit Is Not Enough.
She has spent decades working in elite sport, both with the U.S. Olympic Committee as a Senior Sport Psychologist and then as Head of the Performance Psychology team at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Kirsten melds this “performance under pressure” experience with expertise in neuroscience and mindfulness to help leaders and teams in and out of sport to work better with their brains and minds for improved performance, well-being, and interpersonal connection.
In this podcast, Kirsten and Cindra talk about:
When grit is not enough
How mindset, purpose, and effort connect to grit
The difference between clean and dirty effort
And her three A’s model to be in the present more often
HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET SHOWNOTES FOR THIS EPISODE: www.cindrakamphoff.com/567
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FOLLOW DR. KIRSTEN: https://www.kirstenpetersonconsulting.com/
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Welcome to episode 567. This is your host, Dr. Cindra Kamphoff, and thank you so much for joining me today for this interview with Kirstin Peterson. Kirsten and I have known each other for several years now, and I’m just really excited to have her on the podcast to talk about her new book, When Grit Is Not Enough, Kirsten and I connected and reconnected a few years ago through COVID.
She had this incredible summit that provided just tons of value to her followers, and I’m excited to offer this to you today to learn from her and her incredible experience in high level sport. So Kirsten Peterson is a performance psychologist, a leadership coach, speaker, and most recently the author of a new book, When Grit Is Not Enough. She has spent decades working in elite sport, both with the United States Olympic Committee as the senior sport psychologist and then as the head of the performance psychology team at the Australian Institute of Sport.
So Kirsten melds this performance under pressure experience with expertise in neuroscience and mindfulness to help leaders and teams in and out of sport to work better with their brains and minds for improved performance, wellbeing and personal connection. And in this podcast, Christine and I talk about when grit is not enough, how mindset, purpose and effort are connected to grit, the difference between clean and dirty effort and her three A’s model to be present more often.
I think you’re going to really enjoy that one. If you’d like to see the full show notes and a description of the podcast, you can head over to Cindric Camp. Ofcom slash 567 against Cinder camp, Ofcom slash 567 for episode 567 without further ado, let’s bring on Kirsten. Welcome to the High Performance Mindset podcast. I’m here with Kirsten Peterson and I’m so excited to be here today.
We’re going to be talking about her book, Grit is Not Enough or When Grit Is Not Enough. And we are just talking about the first time I met you was when I was in graduate school. We think it was in 2004, 2005, when I invited you to be on a panel at our sports psychology conference and you were talking about working as a female in sports psychology.
So it seems like yesterday I remember the room we were in, but it wasn’t yesterday. Well, we have to travel the long and winding road from that time, but it has been a pleasure knowing you through the years and watching you, Jess Bloom. So I’m very excited to be here and not as excited to know. I guess I am.
I don’t even mind, you know, like we all come from our past and so that’s all good. Yeah. So thank you. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And we’re both really gritty because about a month ago we recorded this podcast and we had some technical difficulties and we realized it wasn’t recorded. So we’re doing this again for the listeners and because it was incredible.
So I’m just really excited, so good. I was excited that you’re just here with me again and that you’re willing to talk to me again, you know, after we’ve already done that. So what I want to start with is, you know, how did you become interested in writing a book about when great is not enough? That’s a great question Cindra, as all your questions are.
But anyway, it really was a child of COVID in that. No, I mean, who knew? Who knew what that was going to be like? But I remember kind of going into the first year and the doom and gloom around the Olympics, you know, what was going to happen. And what I noticed during that time was that coaches and athletes, I would have expected to weather things just fine.
Some did, but then some surprised me. And I think of one coach in particular who, when the Olympics were canceled, when Tokyo was moved from 2020 to 2021, which back then we all were like, my God, this is the first five year quadrennial in the history of the Olympics. When that was moved, this particular coach did not miss did not miss a beat in the sense that he kept grinding with his athletes as if the Olympics was a month away instead of 14 months away.
And in the end, fast forward a little bit. He shed about 25% of that national team. Because I don’t want to do this. We need to regroup. We’re all suffering here. And there’s no recognition sort of of how we might back off to give us a little time to readjust. I mean, people were, as you might remember, we had already been selected.
And then you go through the process all over again. All that being said, there’s there’s that situation. Then I on the other hand, I interviewed this is during the time when my business fell apart because everybody’s business fell apart during COVID. So I didn’t have much else to do but talk to people about how COVID was impacting them.
And I interviewed Mike Kendra, softball coach from the University of Arizona or Arizona State. Mike, please forgive me if you’re listening, but in in talking to him about the situation, he was telling me about the cadre of sports psychologists that they had working with their team. And I was like, my gosh, that’s so cool. So what aspects of performance are you working on?
And I still remember he just kind of put his hand up to the camera like this and he’s like, we’re not talking about performance right now, right? It’s all about mental health and wellbeing, right? That is way ahead of the game on that. So. Well, yeah. And just he made it sound so self-evident, like what was I to be asking about performance?
But it really struck me that the differences in those stories, which then led me to be thinking about this concept of grit for those who aren’t aware, is the brainchild in its most recent iteration of Angela Duckworth, who has written the book by the same name some and I never really cottoned to the term well when it first came out, because it was another way in which people in elite sport tended to kind of weaponize it against athletes.
You know, you’re not gritty enough or you’re not mentally tough enough. And so I kind of shied away from it. But here I am writing a book kind of dissonant again, and I’m thinking, gosh, you know, I might be in trouble, but that’s another story. But anyway, it led me to this idea that this this concept of grit, passion and perseverance there.
I believe our times, particularly in times of change and uncertainty such as that we saw in the pandemic, our isn’t enough in that you want to be able to pop up and become more agile and look at what is really needed, even though in times of uncertainty we are wired to want certainty. And so grit kind of lends itself to if I just work harder at the same thing, somehow I’ll get through this.
We can see that, you know what I mean? So anyway, it led me to start thinking about what are the conditions under which and what what do you do when it isn’t? And so that’s yeah, yeah. Thanks for describing that. I think about how grit is not grind and how, you know, like passion and perseverance. I think we have to take care of ourselves to stay excited, impassioned about our goals.
And sometimes people think that, you know, I think it gets a kind of a bad reputation, the word grit, because people think it just means like, grind it out, keep your nose to the grindstone. But, you know, you can’t really know the as working with professional athletes. They have to care for themselves. And if they’re not getting good sleep and eating well and caring for their own mental health like their performance declines.
I was talking to an NFL coach a few weeks ago and he said that the younger generation, he feels like they just feel like they have to keep pushing and they want to go through the wall. But he said, you know, let’s kind of walk around the wall so that we don’t let’s see what can we do to walk around the wall?
And so as a door, let’s go through it. Let’s go through the door and sort of like pushing, pushing, pushing until you can’t push anymore. And I really like some of your sections in the book about mindset and purpose and effort. Tell us how you think those are connected to grit. So yeah, the book is split into three sections and so mindset came first because that is kind of my and our jam, you know, that’s what we do for a living is talk about mindset.
And I that is the heart of if we’re going to shift our attitude toward this idea of over over indexing on grit is how I see it. Now, I know you could differentiate between grit and grind. I see people kind of using something. It is so much in our mindset and I really was addressing this from our tendency, as I said, to want things to be a certain way, and certainty is one of those things.
And so the mindset that we in my view want to adopt is one that is that and it’s because sound trite, but literally accepts reality for what it is. And when I say that, you know, we think about all the times we’ve heard athletes or ourselves, you know, say some, you know, like I don’t like this thing about reality right now.
And so people might hear about COVID, you know, like the uncertainty. I can’t stand it. I don’t know when I’m going to get to train again. You know, what’s going to happen with the next series of competitions? How are we going to deal with all that? And you just saw people here to use the word grinding against reality.
So this idea of tuning in, how do we radically accept what’s right here in front of us? So I likened it to the futures and fog. Your best bet is to look down at your feet and make sure you got your footing. And so to be right here and understand accurately so you can make a decision about the next ten feet, even though you’d love to know what the next two miles looks like.
And I will say that it was this was not all my intelligence. I at that time around 2020, I mean, this is how you and I reacquainted during this time, actually, because you did this amazing summit. It was incredible. Right. Helping people to really move through the pandemic. Yeah. Kind of thriving in it, certainly. But let’s just give you credit where credit is due because you had done a summit of your own, which gave me the idea.
So basically, I think we both did a very version of bringing in other sports psychologists and in to talk to concept and in that time, I asked every psychologist, what do you say to people to help them thrive through uncertainty? And so a version of this was coming out of everybody’s mouths, including us anyway. So there the mindset is all about that.
And then there’s I take people through a model that I know you and I will talk about. And so there’s the whole bit that we actually need to shift our minds. Now, the middle part of the book came in and this was really your brainchild, Cindra. I give you a lot of credit because during the interview, in my event you shared with all of us the story of how you, the you were present for the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
And in that catastrophe, it gave you the pause to think about what is it that I really want to be doing? What is my purpose? Not just blindly going through life as it was being handed to me. And it really I thought that was a wonderful tool for people during uncertainty as to perhaps when things are so uncertain and passion can ebb and flow.
That purpose may substitute in that space like I need some inner direction. So it’s mindset, my inner direction. So we talk about how to formulate purpose and at the time I was writing the book, there was no third party. But it wasn’t until I talked with Mike Kahn, bobsled coach, that interviewed him for the book that he got me thinking about this concept of effort.
I which is an outgrowth, I think, of grit, and it’s been a pet peeve of mine that we see effort as the embodiment of what goes between good and great. You know, you got to try harder, you got to an effort is all what it looks like on the outside. Like, you know, the cords in your neck and you’re working really hard.
I work with combat sports. I see that all the time. And really true. You know, we can get a lot cleaner and easier with effort. And so so it may have been an outgrowth of the grit, but just to step back and in reconceptualize effort and also understand that not all effort is great in the sense that if you’re ever going down the wrong path, what are you doing to like the, you know, the pro athletes going through the wall?
You know, like there’s some effort that isn’t isn’t fit for purpose. And so even talking about wins, wins, quitting, the best thing to do, you know what’s a smart quit anyway so again so it’s mindset this idea of how how we can be working in this times of uncertainty purpose as perhaps a add on or substitute for passion and then this idea of effort, cleaner effort.
Cool. Yeah, there’s a couple of things I want to respond to that and react to that. I remember you saying earlier in our previous conversation about how a purpose is your rudder, and I thought that was like the guide, right? Like the thing that steers you. And I thought that was really powerful. In football, we also talk about like this idea of American football, right?
And we talk about like I’ve heard coaches say he’s just pressing. And to me, what that means from a psychological standpoint is when we’re pushing too hard, when we’re trying, we want it so hard that we are tight and anxious. And then when the ball comes to us, we can’t we can’t catch it because it’s like, you know, and I think that’s what you’re saying is like this right effort.
And sometimes we can press, we can push too hard. And purpose grit to me is like sustained excellence, passion, purpose over time. And that takes like caring for yourself and that takes really connecting with what makes you tick. And that like looking inward instead of looking outward. I love that idea of letting it kind of come to you.
And that takes such patience and discipline. Trust in a process. And and I think so to all that. And I would say that this thing about effort is tied up sometimes we make efforts dirtier than they have to be because we get our knickers in a twist about what it is we’re efforting about such like, you know, this workout I’m going to do.
I’m not an intense workout person that that lets you know our particular workout and I just hate this kind of workout sprints and it’s like you’ve just dirtied your effort because you have your self-talk is making it harder than it has to be. And if we can relax into it and know the workout doesn’t hate you, there’s no battle here.
So if we can just be easier and cleaner and see things again, I guess acceptance of reality on its own terms, our efforts become easier. And I don’t mean that in the sense that you don’t putting out the same amount of energy, but you’re not fighting yourself in the process and how many times. So in addition to pressing, I think sometimes creates stories around things that just make them harder to do than they have to be.
So the things that make it dirty effort is like our own self-talk, our own stories. And how would you tell people who are listening to me get clean? Effort is a powerful self-talk and checking your stories and like, how do you think we can do that? And maybe give us an example of how you can clean your effort.
Yeah, and I because there when I think about this, there is always room for impeccable and powerful accountability so that you will, you will be directing your efforts in the and in the interest of getting the most out of the work out. So it’s not to say it’s all Zen, but I what I could be thinking about are those times when I realize that it is my reactivity around a workout that gets in the way.
It may not keeps me as an amateur athlete from even getting out of bed because I don’t want to do it. And if I can be easy here and really see things for what they are rather than for the story I’m telling. So I use the example of being in a spin class and which is a stationary bike to music kind of writing, and you get to the hard parts and before I had discovered this for myself, I’d be like, my God, my God, my God.
And all my my self-talk was about being afraid I was going to blow up and the blowing up was like miles away. But because of my fear of it, I was regulating, I was panicking. And when I started to adopt this attitude, it’s just like, Let’s see what’s actually happening. Yeah. And if that blowing up isn’t happening now or it’s not happening, and how, what’s the best way to to move into that particular effort?
So it might be in the course of a workout, but it’s also in how you approach it. It just is. And what is it then I that this this requires in me does that so it does. And I go back to like what you said earlier that I wrote down radical acceptance of what’s in front of us and a radical me means to me complete acceptance.
One of the things I wanted to ask you about and you mentioned like your model and tell us about your model that starts with three A’s. And because I think that could really help people and I like sticky things because it’s easy to remember and then people can actually apply it into their lives. So tell us about your I’m calling your three AA model.
I don’t know if that’s what you mean to call it that. When it came today, you rebranded girlfriend, you know. Okay. Yeah. It’s kind of a stages of this idea of how this different the relationship to reality. And the first step is acceptance and I might even had a book to write all over again I would even go to the more radical allow okay.
Letting it in is except kind of has this I just have to accept it. And if it’s not set in the right spirit, but I’m really wanting. So another A-word allow or accept. So I want to take the time to see reality for what it is. So then we talk about awareness and it’s it’s the ability to open to that experience and be cognizant of its impact on us and what this means for us.
So I don’t I think in our Western societies, we are such in such a hurry, you know, that we often skip over this step of really understanding what something can mean. So am I aware of how I feel? Am I aware of what the situation is handing to me? Because in in creating that space. So then when I’m taking consider it action.
Now it sounds like this takes forever, but it you know, it really are. It’s can be 3 seconds in time where you’re like, here’s the situation. I’m aware how I feel. I’m aware of the ramifications. And then it actually allows me to make more considered decisions. What is it that I want to be doing and how do you think this is really a model?
Okay. How do you think it helps us stay in the present and maybe give us an example of how you use it in your life or how one of the clients that you work with uses this idea it so it might be if we’re looking back at the pandemic and we’re looking at athletes I had to deal with were going home from the decentralizing training environments and they were, you know, used to maybe they fight against, you know, the rigors and and the constrictions of a having to come into training every day with their coach and their teammates.
And so the initially they’re going home saying was freedom, you know, like move or, you know, depending on the person, sometimes it could be like a bummer. I don’t have my teammates to train with. So the first step in that transition away from centralized training was this is it. I might be living in my parents basement. I, you know, who knows this situation and just really seeing it for what it is.
So we’re accepting that this is I know it sounds trite, but like that this is where I’m going to be. But what was happening to a fair few athletes was, you know, I’m out of the constraints of two coaches and they’re telling me what to do. And then it’s kind of like this, well, what’s today going to be like?
And what we are seeing as athletes who are kind of going through their days and without that structure that they so railed against were having to kind of create that structure every day and they were smart about it. This is not aware of the the ramifications of it. Every day became a series of decisions like do I train or I do like when do I get up, when I do this?
And so if they were not aware of the ramifications of being home, they always have like a tendency toward decision fatigue and which did not bode well for any athlete to be able to manage their time well and manage this time. Now, a few athletes were able to do with that awareness of what the situation was, was and what they needed were actually able to customize their training during that time to actually get better, not just for the status quo, but like I need more flexibility training.
So in that awareness, I could I could do things that I wasn’t able to do in a more confined, one size fits all environment. So then when those athletes kind of were able to seize the moment, it generally was the more seasoned athletes who really knew what they really needed but weren’t able to give it to themselves and they could move into considered action.
But without that awareness piece, the acceptance of we’re still in the space where we’re kind of churning water. We are not able to take action that’s in our best interest. But so some athletes really faltered. And I had one athlete in particular, a was struggled so much during that time. It was it broke my heart. We were talking and he wouldn’t turn on his Skype camera for me.
Like, you know, we were at a distance and he was like, I’m too ashamed for you to see me because I feel so weak in this environment. And it’s like that as a person who has not embraced this idea of accepting where, you know, the reality is I don’t have my teammates to train with. So how are we going to make this work?
Yeah, it’s such a powerful explanation. And I was also thinking about people who are listening and maybe they’re athletes who had a tough game or maybe they’re business owners that face some kind of rejection or setback in their business. Right. And just like taking a step back, accepting radical acceptance of what’s in front of you, what is, and then awareness of what’s going on with me, how am I feeling?
What’s my response? You know, what’s my reaction, Not my response. Because like, well, how am I reacting? Like maybe that intensity of frustration? And then the response is, what kind of action can I take right? And and what? Yeah, what can I do? I want to talk a little bit about insight and I take a pause right there because one thing that I think that we are missing in this spot and I, I do have a separate chapter on this and I just want to kind of infuse this is we have this radical acceptance of reality.
It might not be something we like and it may be something that we struggle to accept. Nevertheless. And I want it we want to be able to do this with this attitude of self kindness, particularly when the reality is a hard piece to bite into. You know, injury. I do. I don’t know any athlete or any person in the world who wants to be injured.
But what we tend to do is go right into the sort of the cognitive, okay, so my awareness is here and then I do action without taking that step along the way to say this is hard and to offer themselves some compassion in that moment for the fact that we’re suffering through some hard thing. It doesn’t mean pity, it doesn’t mean wallowing and eating Ben and Jerry’s and channel surfing, but it is a moment to go.
This is difficult and I’m here for me, like offering ourselves some some self-compassion. So I just wanted to kind of make sure that that did not get lost because we were so it’s so easily seen as only an intellectual exercise, but it’s also an emotional one. Yeah, I really appreciate you saying that. I think it’s really easy when we’re faced with a difficult moment to be really critical and we want to choose self kindness instead of self-critical ness.
And I think the self-critical, this could be like, I’m so stupid. Why the why was I there that I got injured or, you know, this business is it for me? You know, we’re just we’re really hard on ourselves. I, I say it can also be just that we’re really afraid like so we might like this one absolute thing is when we’re critical and but if if I’m scared about a situation that I don’t know what to do in, you know, and and that’s suffering, too, right?
Like, I’m afraid and to be able to say fears here. Yeah. And I’m going to radical acceptance of it. Yeah yeah. So yeah it’s like the critic is a whole nother layer on all of this. But I love how we’re sort of I’m, I’m layering the inner experience of what it’s like to be human in uncertainty. And all these pieces.
We, we go into action without acknowledging the emotional experience at our peril. I think. And too often in high performance environments, we pretend like emotions don’t exist. So I just wanted to kind of go to the order and then our judgy mind and our critical natures come in as hyper farmers as well. When I was a college athlete, I thought that the more I beat myself up, the better I would run.
But as you could imagine, I that didn’t work right, because it was like a decrease in my motivation and my confidence. And I wish I would have realized at that time that, like self-compassion, self kindness was the way for me to run better and run faster is like being kind of myself instead of, you know, just I was.
Yeah. And yeah, yeah. Interesting. And not pressing all the things that we’re talking about today. You know, I wish I would have I would have had a very different college career, but that’s okay because I think it happens for me, not to me. Like all that was really hard because there we are. And here we are. Because of that.
You and I are here because of at least I’m here because of that. Those struggles. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I The analogies that come to mind both involve dogs. Okay, cool. Tell us about the analogy. I like dogs. So when we you know, when we are tough on ourselves in the way that you were tough on yourself in college and certainly I had my share of it.
It’s like you can hit a dog into submission, you know, you can push them into doing what you want them to do. They’ll do it once or twice, but it’s not sustainable performance increments, you know, even with a dog, they will cower, they will get angry, but they don’t they’re not motivated by fear any more than we are.
Yeah. On the other side of things, when I think about the kind of mindset that we want, when we’re trying to do hard things, I’ll take this out of the meditative world of the meditation. Teachers talk about the mind in those moments akin to training a puppy. Look at our minds, do what they do, because that’s what minds do.
And when we’re hard on ourselves because we’re not thinking right or we’re not, we’re not in the space, we’re not getting something done. And we’re we’re angry. You know, we’re pressing that. It’s like getting mad at a puppy. You like pee on the paper and like getting married. The puppy doesn’t make the puppy very happy and it doesn’t make us as trainers very happy.
And we think about the qualities we need when we train a puppy. It’s like infinite patience, tons of reinforcement. Like that’s the only way you get a puppy to really want to pee on the paper. And I love that that kind of inner trainer to be part of our own minds as we go along, trying to do the really hard things in our lives.
It’s not to say when we’re still training the puppy, but we are not doing it in a way that breaks the puppy. And I love if we can adopt that sort of, you know, if you had been able to talk to yourself in that way and you’re still holding yourself accountable, but it’s in that sense of encouragement and positive, I think we get a lot farther than we do when we slam into things.
And it’s just it’s a lot more sustainable. Yeah, I love what you’re saying about constant reinforcement and patience, and I think about the kind of puppy I want to train is a puppy that’s like happy go lucky, you know, maybe because that’s what the kind of what I tried to do myself, you know, is just relax a little bit more and be a little bit easier on myself.
I wish in college I would have said to myself, You got it. It’s okay. You know, one step at a time. You’re really great at what you do and you’re actually worked really hard, you know? And I wish I would have just like, soften that inner voice. Yeah, I remember leaving the force and starting my own business. So I’m for those.
I’m behind Cinder, and then my level of where I am in the business. But I remember thinking the thing that helped me was like, We’ll figure it out. Yeah. And so many times draw that line, you know, my God, it’s going to mean X, y, z. What if this happens and this hasn’t happened and you know it’s not even happening.
And it’s like the next step, Will, we’ll figure something out. We’ll figure out the next thing, and then the end of the day, if it doesn’t work, I’ll get a job. You know, I mean, it was a lot. I love the idea that we can just know and trust that you’ll figure it out when you hit a wall, you’ll figure out the next thing to do.
Right. So anyway, yeah, that’s a very trusting statement. I’ll figure it out. Hi, this is Cindra Kamphoff, and thanks for listening to the high performance mindset. Did you know that the ideas we share in the show are things we actually specialize in implementing? If you want to become mentally stronger, lead your team more effectively and get to your goals quicker.
Visit free mental break through Qualcomm to sign up for your free mental break. Your call with one of our certified coaches. Again, that’s free mental break through Qualcomm. To sign up for your free call. Talk to you soon. I want to talk a little bit about present and the importance of being present. And I know you want to share some research about being in the present moment.
So tell us a little bit about what makes it so difficult for us to be in the present and why it’s important, in your opinion, for us to work to be there more often? Yeah. Thank you for the question, because it’s close to my heart. Well, and I don’t think this will be a rocket science answer to why the present is important to her.
But if we consider it in contrast to the past or future, it is the only moment we have any influence over. And I don’t say control because I think we control even less of the present than we think. But we have the ability to have some impact. And yet how much of our time is spent not in that place.
And the research that really brought this home for me was a study done by some social psychologists out of Harvard and they called this study a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. And the basic premise was that they recruited 3000 subjects from around the world and had everybody put a app on their smartphone in this app would ping them at random times of the day and ask each individual, What were you thinking?
How were you feeling, meaning emotionally and what were you doing? And amalgamated the data. And really interesting finding, number one is that across these 3000 people from around the world, different age groups, we spend almost half our time in any given day, not in the present moment, which is kind of astounding on one level. But if we unpack that a little bit, it is a bit understandable.
And I just I have a lot of play with this when I talk to people because we think about what are the things that make us out of the present moment and and I guess the other piece before I get into that would be this idea of the wandering mind is an unhappy mind. And what the researchers found is that when people were not in the present, they were less happy than they were in the present.
So that’s when we think. So what I do with people I speak with in this space is you think, what are the emotions that take us forward? So enter the future and what comes up for you in the motions in the future? Anxiety, pressure, fear. Yeah. So those you know, and some people would say anticipation of the vacation.
So it’s not all, yeah, that’s true. I went to the negative. But to be fair I fed you that that’s the preponderance of reasons we go forward where brains are threat. Active detecting machines and anxiety and fear are trying to figure things out for. US But they are rarely pleasant experiences. So if we’re worrying, blah blah blah, blah blah, that’s unpleasant and that’s not present moment.
And now if we were going to go the other way and head into the past, what are the emotions that you think of? You can go as negative as you want because that’s part of this as well as like regret, depression, the big one. You haven’t name shame, but my God. Yeah, yeah. Now you’re you’re going really deep, right now.
It is so important because we don’t know much at all in life, but is anger. Anger is a bad word facing emotion in the sense are really angry about stuff that has not happened yet. We can imagine being angry, but we save anger for the things that have already happened. And there was a quote describing anger and resentment that sometimes we can really wallow in is like we’re holding a hot, cold and hoping somebody else will get burned.
You know, that sense of like delivering pain to ourselves over and over again. So these emotional states on both sides of the equation, let’s let’s let’s be fair, though. You know, we can go back in time for pleasant things like reminiscing. You know, it’s not all bad. It’s the idea. These are the flavors that often color our mind when we’re not in the present moment.
A reality about the present moment is that it’s we also have a big issue in Western society about what happiness actually means. You know, it’s not necessarily joy. It can be a form of contentment. And and when we allow ourselves in that sense of allowing reality to be as it is, we actually raise the pleasure centers maybe to a hair over neutral.
But the problem often is actually like, I’m really enjoying this conversation, but we don’t miss what we’re liking in the moment because we’re often already thinking about the next thing we really want, you know? And for me, there are two things. Well, couple of things that happened. I was meditating and I put air quotes around it because I was staring at a fully flowering Japanese apple tree in my backyard about 5 minutes ago.
But I was completely worried about a meeting to be happening at work at 4:00 that day. It hit me that I was literally leaching out the the enjoyment of this beautiful thing I was looking at while I was, you know, got something that the future hadn’t even been written about yet. And that really hit me about what I was doing and that, you know, the future.
I mean, it’s going to still be there. Yeah. Happening now, it’s not happening. How do we stay here just for those moments? Maybe it’s a fully flowering Japanese apple tree. Maybe it’s your children who are asking you a question. You know, are we here for the moments that matter? Yes. I didn’t say having that little mini epiphany. I do not remember what happened at that meeting of this.
I do remember fully flower Japanese apple tree. And I’m thinking which memory do I want to carry forward with me? You know what I mean? So that whole the wandering mind is in a happy moment is so powerful to me about why the present moment is important. Because we we have some agency there. And when we can more fully be here and find the little small moments here, we’re actually improving our well-being.
Yes. Yeah. So powerful. I mean, I love the just the name of that study. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. And I as people are listening, I can think about times where I’m not in the present and I’m in this past or future continuum. And then, you know, I’m definitely not happy in those different, you know, emotional centers.
I was just reading this quote by Michael J. Fox, and I watch Family Ties when I was growing up the show and also this is a powerful quote just given like how he struggles with his is health. I think he has Parkinson’s disease, if I have that right. But he said this. He said, y imagine the worst case scenario because it rarely goes down like that.
And if it does, you would have lived it twice. And what I like about that is just that our mind can go to that such worst case scenario like you were just describing. And I think what could be helpful for people as they’re listening is to give them some strategies on, okay, how can we be in the present more often if half of our time isn’t in the present moment, and that’s the moment we have influence over?
How do you think it’s best to describe, to train our mind, to be more in the present? Well, there there are what I like to call shallow end of the pool ways, which, you know, like you dip your toe in all the way down to infinite depth ways to do it. And the most pragmatic, shallow end way is to however you want to do this.
And it is hard because you’ve got to remind yourself to do it. But to ask yourself throughout the day, am I aware, like even paying attention and be in it? It starts hard so you can put it into your phone as a reminder. You can put it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder, just because we if we don’t cue ourselves to think about it, we get hijacked mindlessly and we are at the mercy of this thinking machine that puts out, by some estimates, 65,000 thoughts a day.
Yeah. And so we are not starting to kind of be aware and develop cultivate our awareness. That’s where we are. And so then we get into the so the medium and deeper end of the pool. And I am a meditation teacher, as you know, and I have found the concept of meditation simple but not easy to be one of the best ways to cultivate certain qualities of mind, but to also strengthen our ability to be in the moment.
Because in its most pure form, meditation is a practice where you have a some kind of attentional anchor, usually the breath, but could be sounds, could be in on, you know, you get to pick what that is. You cheerfully commit to that anchor and for the duration of the practice, you can have it be as short as 30 seconds and as long.
That’s the deep end is when, you know, the mystics spend months doing this. I’ve been on an eight day meditation retreat where that was what we were doing. More often than not. That’s true. That’s big time. Yeah, but even in small moments where you’re intentionally focusing on something wrong and then cheerfully bringing your attention back because we are wanderers, as the study suggests, we’re strengthening that.
So there can be some of the incidental things you do during the day. Just to recap, I may aware maybe I pick an activity throughout the day that I would do anyway, and I just make a commitment to trying to do it mindfully. I am always selective when I talk to groups about this because they’re like, Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we drove mindfully?
But how many times find yourself in your driveway and you really have no recollection of how you got there. You were your mind was operating at some different level than what was actually going on in the car because it’s sort of that automatic action. It could be brushing the teeth, could be eating a meal. So that’s a slightly more you know, and you think about if I were actually to enjoy the food I was eating rather than shoveling that as fast as possible, would that be a form of happier moments?
Perhaps if I were to make a commitment to be there with my kids or with my partner and you know, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this kind of exercise syndrome, but when I send people home to be a more mindful listener, they’ll often come back the next day and the second day of a workshop and go, My partner wanted to know what you all did with me because that was not the person he or she was.
So that’s awesome. Yeah, they really fully listened. Yeah. Yeah. And like, paid attention. So those are again, it’s it can be simple, it can be short. Any time you train your attention, you’re you’re enhancing that skill. I appreciate those shallow ways and then infinite ways because people might not be ready to take the infinite ways. Right. And they might just want to start with a just awareness and just noticing where your attention is throughout your day.
I find also with meditation for me is a, do you think it helps me reduce my stress and anxiety, but I need to use like a guided meditation. And so I love actually one. My favorite apps is Oprah and Deepak Chopra app. I use like, well, you know, love that. But there’s lots of there’s so many different resources apps and things that people can use.
I also did this exercise where you’ve probably done it like a mindful eating exercise. And I was at a school with teachers, a couple weeks ago. We were talking about being in the present more often and I had them do like a mindful chocolate exercise where they I gave them to Hershey’s Hershey’s Kiss and it probably took, you know, like three or 4 minutes to do this exercise where we carefully opened up the chocolate and then we smelled the chocolate.
We put it on our tongue. You know, we let it melted afterwards. I said, How was this? One teacher was like, terrible. It was so hard, you know, it was so hard to adjust it to the chocolate. And then it was just really interesting watching people’s reactions because you’re right, we just normally, like, eat the food and don’t really even notice what we’re even eating and taste it.
So and I’d be curious because I do that with Mentos. So we have that. That’s I teach a meditation class just did it last week. The oldest, a grandmother in the room. So I’ve got two people and they handout out. I was like, now this is Spirit. We’re going to suspend disbelief and we’re going to see this as an object you’ve never seen before.
And I lay it out. You know, it’s it is like watching, you know, an embrace like this. And and the grandmother, just without missing a beat, picked it up, unwrapped and stuck it in so she can make her for candy and for me. Yeah but I find that people will say things along the lines like I’ve never I’ve never eaten a mentos that slowly.
And I, in the time we took 3 minutes, I would have eaten the whole package right. And felt sick. And how much enjoyment you can if you allow yourself to sort it. And also, you know, like, wow, what reactivity are we having that it’s so hard and like to be able to even talk to the stories that our minds are telling us about lust or craving and, and, and understand that more like there’s so much to be learned if we’re willing to turn it in with kindness and acceptance of our own reactivity to learn about what the stories our minds are telling us.
Like your teacher who was like, I must eat this chocolate now. And it is so horrible that I don’t get to do it. how interesting. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Well, Kirsten, you and I could talk for hours. I’m saying the time, but no, we already we already I’ve talked hours in the past. I what? What I would love for you to share is where can people get your book when it is not enough.
Well well let me just product place for a moment. So here it is. This site you can purchase it on Amazon and I know there’s some other places in Australia which is probably not going to help most of your readership, but Amazon will have it and it comes in that version. But there’s also a Kindle version where you get to hear more of my melodious voice.
I don’t know if you did this, it did you, did you read your book for free? I did. I did. And it was hard. But, you know, people really appreciate that because they and I just yesterday I was talking to somebody had listened to my book and he said, I’ve been listening to your voice for 8 hours as well.
But I you know, I actually really love reading, listening to books where it’s the author. So I’m glad that you did it yourself. Yeah, I hear you. That it was hard. It was hard, though. I know, but one so much, so much really helpful things that you mentioned. I’m just going to kind of recap what we talked about.
We talked about like it radically accepting what is in front of us and the importance of that. We talked about clean versus dirty effort. You’re very a model of acceptance, awareness and action to help us stay more in the present moment. We are talking about self kindness versus being self-critical. And we were talking about this idea of wondering, mine is an unhappy mind in this past, present future continuum.
And then, you know, you said present moment is the only moment we have influence on and these different shallow ways and find ways to grow in our ability to stay in the present moment. So we’re hopefully we’re we’re going to spend more than 50% of our time in the present moment. What final advice would you have for people who are listening, for those who know they’re listening because they want to keep growing in themselves.
They want to keep growing in their mindset, and they realize that mindset is really essential to their own performance in their own happiness. So what final advice would you have for us today? Like, first of all, so much love for your listeners who want to grow in this space and and it’s a journey worth taking. And I think the biggest advice is to stop and listen to what the mind is doing.
We can’t I think we may have talked about this last time. We didn’t get into it. We tend to avoid spending time with our selves because there’s so many distractions and we think boredom is a terrible thing or or we sweep so quickly. Interpret inactivity for boredom and boredom is bad that we don’t try it on. And it is only through, you know, meditation as a kind of a formalized practice, a way to get to that.
But even just spending time with our minds, meaning we might just be wandering in nature without headphones on or, and experiencing this inner moment because it when we can become more friendly and I use that word intentionally, we start beginning to offset, I think the Western conditioned allies mind thinking that the only way I can talk to myself is, you know, I’m the chairman of the board and the board has to listen to me or I’m going to be the biggest critic.
And we we have a chance to rework that. But the first step is to be able to get comfortable in that space. And I often ask people to hear the voices, and I don’t mean that in a crazy way, and you you know, you and I have both touched on this idea of there are different ways to speak to ourselves in the very same way we would speak to our best friends or to our kids.
That actually increases resilience, doesn’t reduce it, because if we feel like we’re on our own side, if we feel encouraged, we’re going to get out and we have more agency to do the hard things that we’re all here to do. But the first step is listening and the second step is doing so with that, the voice of a best friend.
And that’s the gateway, in my view, to a different relationship with our minds that allow us to go farther than we go by being hard on ourselves. Outstanding. What a perfect way to end. I’d say. Got some positive snaps for you. I love what you’re saying is awareness, talking to yourself like your best friend, and that’s going to increase your resilience and your ability to do hard things.
So wonderful to have you on here today. Again, go check out when it is not enough, Check it out on Amazon. You won’t regret it. And thank you so much for being here today, Cindra Thank you for your grit and making this happen a second time and I hope that it actually falls apart. We have to do it a third time.
That’s how much I like these chats, but Yeah, let’s let’s do it. All right. You’re all right. Thank you.