Steven Kotler
Peak Performance

Flow refers to any of those moments of total absorption and rapt attention. In flow, you get so focused on what you're doing on the task at hand everything else just starts to melt away.

Steven Kotler
Listen Now
Show Notes

Steven Kotler (@flowresearchcollective) is an expert in peak performance. His new book, GNAR Country: Growing Old Staying Rad, explores how to age strong and wise. Steven is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and Executive Director at the Flow Research Collective. As one of the world’s leading experts on human performance and flow. He continues to train, write, and research methods on longevity and empowerment.  

Steven Kotler’s (@flowresearchinstitute) new book, GNAR Country: Growing Old Staying Rad. Steven is a must-read. As an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. Steven is one of the world’s leading experts on human performance and flow and also co-founder, along with his wife, Joy of the Buddy Sue hospice home for old dogs, which is a canine care facility and rescue facility, and also the Rancho de Chihuahua Dog Rescue and Sanctuary. 

“The thing that I do that I love the most also means that I am being vulnerable. The fact that it can break my heart faster than almost anything else.

Steven Kotler

Key Takeaways:

  • Flow State:  Flow can only show up when all our attention is focused on the right now. It is built into all mammals and humans, and most mammals can drop into a flow, especially all the group mammals. Flow states have triggers and preconditions that lead to more flow. When you are in flow, you are entirely focused, and everything gets quiet and diminishes. It is a state where five hours go by and feels like five minutes.
  • Temporal Parietal Junction: Temporal Parietal Junction is a part of the human brain. The TPJ gets very active in flow. It’s the reason empathy expands when we are in flow. This state develops wisdom which activates in the TPJ. It is the part of the brain that does perspective-taking. When you see things from other perspectives, you are more likely to gain access to information you would miss otherwise.
  • Actions and Training: Actions speak louder than words. We often apply this to others but forget it is true for ourselves. Every time you talk to yourself, you’re teaching the brain. We’re goal-directed machines, training the brain through what we think and how we follow through with action. Your brain watches what you do. It’s tough to lie to yourself that way. It is important to recognize we talk to ourselves through our actions.
  • Protect from Cognitive Decline: If you want to protect against cognitive decline, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or just mental high fading, the two best ways to do it is expertise and wisdom. When you get expertise and wisdom, you develop new neural networks. By developing expertise and wisdom, you’re protecting the brain against cognitive decline in the future.

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Links for Steven Kotler:

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Mark Divine  0:00  

This is Mark Divine. And this is the Mark Divine Show. On this show, I talk to folks from all walks of life, to figure out what makes people courageous and how to operate it at peak performance in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. Today we’re going to talk about peak performance aging with Steven Kotler. And we’re gonna look into his new book called GNAR Country: Growing Old Staying Rad. Stephens, a New York Times bestselling author, award winning journalist and Executive Director at the flow research collective. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on human performance and flow. He’s also co-founder, along with his wife, Joy of the Buddy Sue hospice home for old dogs, which is a canine care facility and rescue facility, and also the Rancho de Chihuahua Dog Rescue and Sanctuary. Steve, thanks so much for joining me today. So good to see you. Again.

Unknown Speaker  0:50  

It’s great to see you, Mark as always.



Mark Divine  0:52  

I had so much fun doing your Crowdcast a couple of weeks ago, that was just a blast. What a great idea. 

Unknown Speaker  0:58  

Well that was a good time.

Mark Divine  0:59  

Yeah. Thanks for having me on that. Steven, you know, we’ve talked before about your work with flow research collective and prior to that the flow Genome Project, and I know that you, you probably get this question a lot, but I’m gonna throw it out there. How do you define flow?

Steven Kotler  1:16  

So what’s funny about this is to the best of my knowledge, I have never personally had a definition of flow. Science has a definition of flow that I have, I have been trying to be a proponent of, but nobody seems to hear that part. They do hear the personal part. So it’s an optimal state of consciousness where we do our best and we perform our best. And it refers to any of those moments of total absorption and rapt attention, when you get so focused on what you’re doing on the task at hand, everything else just starts to melt away extra awareness, they’re gonna merge your sense of self self consciousness, the voice in your head, most importantly, get really quiet and diminish title past strangely, usually just get so sucked into what you’re doing that five hours go by and five minutes, occasionally, you can get that freeze frame effect made, if anyone has been in a car crash shows up in combat, action sports, things like that. And throughout all aspects of performance, mental and physical go through the roof, in terms of what’s optimized in flow. It’s a fairly long list, we can go into granted. But…


Mark Divine 2:14

Yeah, yeah.


Steven Kotler 2:15

…bunch of stuff on the physical side, a ton of stuff on the mental side, and all of it significantly higher than baseline.


Mark Divine  2:22  

Is it something that one does? Or is it something that happens as a result of certain circumstances?


Steven Kotler  2:29 

Yes. Yes.


Mark Divine 2:31

Both and.


Steven Kotler 2:32

Both and. So the work that I’ve been involved in, which is looking at decode, trying to decode the neurobiology of flow, so what’s going on in the brain and the body moving this day. It’s a full body experience, where we see regular changes in brain activity and respiration and heart rate in you know, facial muscles, signatures, things like that. From a neurobiological standpoint, we’ve got it fairly decoded. And what we’ve learned is that flow states have triggers. Preconditions that lead to more flow. And there are 26, that have been discovered, there’s probably way more, that’s just what we’ve discovered, all of them seem to work the same way. If you cut past the like, whiz bang. Flow can only show up when all of our attention is focused right here right now. So that’s what all the triggers do. They work on the attention system, and they drive attention into the present moment. And they keep you focused on sort of a limited field of attention. And some of those triggers, for example, our internal pattern recognition when we link two ideas together, right, in a new way. So this can be when you’ve done a crossword puzzle to get an answer, right. And for that little rush of pleasure, that’s dopamine. That’s an internally generated focusing mechanism, based on linking two ideas together. So I just wrote a book where there’s a bunch of skiing in it. And skiers look at like, a snow bank and go, Oh, I can use that snow bank, throw my body sideways and grind across it or whatever skateboard trick to that interpretation of terrain. That’s pattern recognition. So these are internally generated ways to do that. 

If I put myself into a situation of high risk. Risk is another flow trigger. So is that internal is it external, there on the very sort of fine line and even with risk, you know, as well as I do, there’s actual risk, which is negligible on performance versus perceived risk, which is what really impacts performance the most. And that’s in the eyes of the beholder, for sure. So when I say yes, I think of things in terms of embodied cognition and body cognition says, like, we’re brains, we’re bodies, and we’re built in the environment and environments built into the culture. And all of that is the impact we’re looking at. And you, I would guess, would probably look at me and go, Steven, what about the whole spiritual side of it? And I would once again say, yes, if that’s true, too, that’s also going to impact it on top of culture, right? And it or come in that way? Open question from a scientific point of view. But like, that’s how I think of it. So I don’t that internal external line, I’m not quite sure. But I will say is this, flow is built in to all mammals, all humans and most mammals, most mammals can drop into flow, especially all the group mammals. So like if you’ve ever this horse and rider flow, dogs get into flow all the time with humans, cross species flows it’s called. So it’s old and exists in all mammals. This is how we do peak performance, right? When crisis situations arise. Flow is what the body switches into to solve the problem if everything working correctly.


Mark Divine  5:41  

Yeah, it’s really interesting. You know, this comment about animals? I mean, how do we know that animals aren’t just always in a state of flow?


Steven Kotler  5:48  

Interesting question. The Godfather of flow psychology is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. And this is actually how we met years and years ago, because I was always working on the neurobiology of flow, we didn’t cross paths that much. I was already 10-12 years into my flow research. And it started when I was over these questions of do animals get into flow or not? Do they live in perpetual flow states? What does that mean? And I actually reached out to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on that question about do dogs get into flow. What are you looking at? I think there’s open questions. So we do work with rescue animals.


Mark Divine  6:22  

Thank you for doing that. It’s important work,


Steven Kotler  6:25  

I appreciate that. I mean, to me, like, I get so much out of it. 


Mark Divine 6:28

Yeah, I bet.


Steven Kotler 6:29

It’s ridiculous for me to, to like, accept any praise. It’s so rewarding. And I like it so much. And I feel like you know, I get so much out of it. But I will pass it along to my wife who does a lot more in the hard work. What I will tell you is this, I started getting into flow states with my dogs while running in this kind of pack on it. And what I started to notice is there was a way we would run together, that would get us into flow, they would start to try to egg me into the state. And you can tell they were altered. Like you can look at pupil dilation, changes in flow. Same thing in dogs, you can tell they were altered, and I started to notice, wow, they seem to be like pushing me towards this thing, like seems to be as addictive to them as it is to humans, which seems to suggest they don’t constantly live in flow. Neurobiologically we know you can’t live in flow. Humans can’t live in flow. It’s a four-stage cycle. Is it totally different and other mammals, nobody’s looked? Right. And I don’t even know how we would look at this point. But what I’m basing it on is two things. One, I think animals have much greater long-term memory capacity than most people give them credit for, like they have a past, present, or future. We’ve seen this on lots of different levels of research. And it seems like they love flow as much as humans, and they will try to, you know, egg, other people into flow and things like that. So I think there’s some behavioral stuff that I think points towards it. But how do you know?


Mark Divine  7:52  

You’d have to become an animal.


Steven Kotler  7:54  

Yeah, you’d have to become an animal.


Mark Divine  7:56  

I find it fascinating because you just made a comment, which I don’t know, I guess I would challenge but that humans can’t live in perpetual flow, because the experience of a master, for instance, a martial arts grandmaster or Zen master, right, who has attained the state that the Eastern traditions would call enlightenment is living in perpetual flow. There’s changes in the physiology that happen dramatically. When that shift occurs, which allows for much more energy to be I guess, housed or flow through the body, you know, that Kundalini energy they talk about. And the experience is in perpetual now state, which is experienced all those things that you talked about.


Steven Kotler  8:35  

There’s a bunch of research on this, and there’s a bunch of translations. So what’s interesting is, for example, if you go into Tibetan Buddhism, we’ll go to Zen in a second, we’ll go to Tibetan Buddhism, they have a direct translation of the word flow, there’s a word that means flow. And it is different from what they mean by enlightenment. Zen to go into that tradition. Satori, appears to be flow. But Satori is a brief experience of enlightenment. And it seems like enlightenment and there are a bunch of people, including my mentor, Dr. Andrew Newberg, who’ve worked a lot on what’s the neurobiology of enlightenment is there something going on. But when I say we can’t live in flow, one of the things that happens in flow is there’s a peak concentration of dopamine, and possibly of norepinephrine at the front end, but definitely dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine in a peak concentration of 20 minutes shelf life in the brain.


Mark Divine 9:24



Steven Kotler 9:25

That’s how long they do their work. And then they fade away. So what we seem to meet meaning by sort of this permanent enlightenment seems to involve changes in one and a part of the brain called the temporal parietal junction, the TPJ gets very active in flow. It’s the reason empathy expands and flow and wisdom. That’s the part of the brain that does perspective-taking.


Mark Divine 9:45



Steven Kotler 9:45

When you see things from other perspectives. So there are it does seem like there are permanent changes in brain function in enlightenment, like it’s a real thing. It doesn’t seem to be permanent flow. And I think the reason one of the reasons is enlightenment is a not too high, not too low, very much in the middle. And flow is a big spike. I think the attitude through the detach now is that you get in flow states in enlightenment, but I think some of the peak activities go the question. One of the question would be, do we see, like the same spike in creative some of the stuff we can measure and flow, right creativity or fast twitch muscle response? If we were to, you know, examine people who are enlightened quote, unquote, when we see those things all the time, those are the questions I’d want to answer. It does seem like enlightenment is a slightly different thing than in flow, and certainly, the neuro-chemical portion of the experience just based on how those things work in the body. That’s definitely different. 


Mark Divine  10:45  

Yeah, we’re really talking about a psycho-physiological, temporary experience.


Steven Kotler  10:49  

It’s a state, Yeah, not a stage. And that’s, that’s one of the differences. Enlightenment, enlightenment is a stage, right? It’s a permanent shift.


Mark Divine  10:56  

And I think that isn’t, you know, I’ve often conflated this type of flow we’re talking about with, like, the optimal experience of flowing in life, like when everything is just, I’m not on a ski hill, navigating terrain in a state of rapture with where time is slowing down. But my life is just in sync. Because I’m aligned with my vision for the future. Everything seems to be synchronicity is happening, everything’s lining up. And I call that flow. But it’s like life flow.


Steven Kotler  11:23  

I’m not disagreeing with you. That’s a real in my opinion, you’re describing a very real phenomenon. Everybody I know has had that experience as well. And I’m what I always say, when I when talking about flow. Like, look, I can talk about the science till you know, tomorrow morning, but I’m only going to cover about 90% of what happens in flow states. And there’s this 10%, one of which is the synchronicities with life, like over longer scale, or what do we mean by luck? Right? So this is flow over time, synonymous with luck. 


Mark Divine 11:54



Steven Kotler 11:55

Right. Like those are questions that are these are real question.


Mark Divine 11:57

They’re philosophers questions, though.


Steven Kotler 11:59

They’re interesting, and I love them. And it’s the cutting edge of flow research and trying to answer some of those questions is really neat, and really drives me forward. But I don’t think we have any of the answers. And also, like, I’m comfortable saying, Hey, we don’t know, nor may we ever know.


Mark Divine 12:15



Steven Kotler 12:16

At the uncertainty doesn’t bother me. I’m like, I like it. That means I have a job and I get to.


Mark Divine  12:23  

There’s more books to write. 


Steven Kotler

It’s phenomenal. Cause it’s great.


Mark Divine 12:24

Like you haven’t written enough already. When’s that gonna come to a halt? 


Steven Kotler  12:29  

Well, Mark, you got to remember, you think I’m writing for anything other than to preserve my mental health. I’m writing first and foremost, because this is like, you know, this is some kind of therapy to me. Better in the world when I when I’m writing.


Mark Divine  12:44  

Right. yeah, no, I get that. That’s your creative outlet. I love that.


Steven Kotler  12:47  

The PR that goes along. Those are the questions that we could be asking, right. Because I don’t know. I’m those about questions, questions like that. But the writing, I mean, it’s what I do for me, and I love it.


Mark Divine  12:57  

Writing is, can be both painful and joyful at the same time, which is really interesting, right? how something can be both painful and joyful.


Steven Kotler  13:05  

Was so funny. I was treating my wife this morning, because I went skiing yesterday. And she, she automatically assumes to ski is my favorite thing to do on Earth, that like I had an amazing time. And I said to her Joy, you gotta understand skiing, like writing, like my relationship with you. These are all marriages, they’re lifelong things. There are good days, there are bad days…


Mark Divine 13:26



Steven Kotler 13:26

…there are days where you go do the thing that you love the most of the world that it just punches you in the mouth 60 times.


Mark Divine 13:31



Steven Kotler 13:31

That’s, that’s what it is. 


Mark Divine 13:33

That’s so true. 


Steven Kotler 13:33

Like, and I think that’s the same with everybody. I distrust people are like, Oh, my God, this is the thing I do. And I’m, you know, like, the thing that I do that I love the most also means that I am being vulnerable. The fact that it can break my heart faster than almost anything else.


Mark Divine  13:47  

I love it. Well, and that’s like people get happiness. So wrong. I think happiness is a perpetual state of pleasure. 


Steven Kotler 13:53



Mark Divine 13:53

And it’s not right. It’s an engagement with something at a level where you are content in spite of the highs and the lows.


Steven Kotler  14:01  

So I think that’s totally true. The other thing that’s interesting is, so people think the scale goes from pain to pleasure that we’re at, like, there’s this pain to pleasure scale. And that’s how we actually work. But it’s not true. If you look at the data, extreme pain is the worst that we feel on Earth. But the best we feel is always group flow. A great deal of time when you’re in flow or group flow. You’re uncomfortable. Like we think about athletes in flow, like you’re physically in pain, right? The flow allows you to forget the fact that you’re in pain, but like, it’s not exactly pleasure. And so the scale, I believe, and I’ve been trying to do more research on this, and I haven’t really written much about it, but I’ve talked about it. So the thing that you get in group flow and flow is I say it gives you 360-degree creativity, meaning you’re performing at your best. So any direction you go in, you’re going to be your best at, right, so the most fluid you can be with a group and flow. It’s even bigger. You know, everybody can go in different directions together. So you’ve got a lot of options, I think it’s between no choice, which is what’s so rough about extreme pain, all you can do is focus on the pain, there’s no room for anything else, to group flow, which is maximum choice, I think it’s no choice to maximum choice, that is actually what we call pleasure pain. Because pleasure pain doesn’t govern human behavior, as you just pointed out, the way we think it does, it doesn’t actually add up into what we see in the world, and what we experience as performance.


Mark Divine  15:28  

This is true. And this is what training, you know, repetition and training and realism and training and like your training for, for park skiing, but it does is it narrows the gap between the pleasure and pain, you know, through that repetition of training and learning new skills and constantly, you know, facing the unknown, which you could say is like the fear factor. What is unknown is really what is, you know, creates the sense of fear. So you eliminate the fear, we talked about this on your caucus by moving closer to that. And so what you end up doing is, you have a much narrower band of wrench or band between pain and pleasure, right. And so you can bounce between them really quite rapidly. 


Steven Kotler  16:08  

You know, I think about it on the ski hill. So we’ve got a ton of snow in Tahoe, which means that lines that are normally incredibly narrow and skinny, and steep, are now a little less steep and a little less narrow, right, in some places they’re, they’re totally filled in, but it’s great training. So what I keep doing is I keep putting myself back in the mountains, getting these incredibly rowdy lines, that some lines that I could never ski I actually couldn’t speak. But I’m just trying to get the visuals down, right, I’m just trying to get my brain used to like what is going to see skiing these lines, and I’m trying to ski through the moves as if there wasn’t a ton of snow, the way I would normally have to do. 


Mark Divine 16:46



Steven Kotler 16:47

And all of it is about shrinking the unknown down. So that when when it really becomes ski season, some of the snow melts away and the challenge comes back. I am mentally prepared to be able to go after some of these these larger challenges. But what I always think about because it means that every day I have to go and do scary stuff. And there’s always like one or two things where I really don’t want to do what I’m about to do. And I feel awful on the front end.


Mark Divine 17:14



Steven Kotler 17:15

Right. And yet, the highlight of my day is going to be how I feel on the back end. 


Mark Divine 17:19

That’s right. 


Steven Kotler 17:19

Like it’s so funny because you could ski a line, and what does it take? 20 seconds, 10 seconds. And the first five seconds are absolute terror. And somewhere in that middle five seconds, the terror switches into oh my god, I’ve got this and then but you come out. And it’s the most amazing thing you’ve done all day. And it’s so, so close. I keep watching it happen in my brain because I keep doing this over and over. And I’m like, where’s this switch? When does it flip, because it happens every time provided, you know, I put myself in the hospital coming out the back end of it. But I’ve been watching it a lot on the inside. Because I’m fascinated by how thin that line really actually is.


Mark Divine  18:00  

I love that. The amount of like true pleasure I’m not talking about hedonistic pleasure, but pleasure from an accomplishment like that is directly related to the amount of fear that you have to overcome to get to it.


Steven Kotler  18:11  

I totally agree. 


Mark Divine 18:11

I love that. It’s so much sense to me. And it’s true.


Steven Kotler 18:14

This is one of the things that I think is challenging to talk about with peak performance definitely applies. You know, when it comes to like GNAR Country, my new book and Peak Performance Aging, this is this is also really relevant. I think, part of what we mean by meaning. And I mean this like neuro biologically as organisms, right, is essentially the satisfaction of a job well done.


Mark Divine 18:34



Steven Kotler 18:34

Like if you do something long and hard not so that it takes a month, but something that takes years and you do start stacking year long or multi year accomplishments on top of one another. Like I don’t mean accomplishments in the real world. I mean, like I set myself a long challenge and I met kind of thing, we get a lot of what we call meaning out of that. Well, the reason I’m in this is a difficult discussion in peak performance is, as you know, people are so hungry for results on the front end, what is my purpose, what is my mean, you know, all these things, and you’re like, Well, I can tell you how to turn curiosity into passion and passion and a purpose. But it doesn’t change the fact that the biology underneath that process is probably a year two years long. That’s how long it’s going to take in the brain, the body.


Mark Divine 19:19



Steven Kotler 19:19

That sort of thing. It’s like when people talk about I can come back from an ACL tear in a year. And I’m like, Well, you you can physically, but mentally we know that your central governor is going to keep your knee from performing, you know, full speed for at least a year and a half, no matter what you do with your physiology because there’s an internal governor saying, no, no, don’t hurt yourself again. And it’s based on sympathetic activation in the nervous system. And like nobody’s figured out how to hack that yet. 


Mark Divine 19:47



Steven Kotler 19:47

You can hack the physiology, but the mental side of it. We haven’t figured out a way to hack yet. Some of these things, I find it in peak performance and even peak performance agent work. You’re like I know you’ve got a ticking clock and it feels like it’s running out so you want these things really fast, it still doesn’t change that, like some of these, including what we mean by meaning really take a long time to accrue and you have to earn them is consistency over years.


Mark Divine  20:13  

Yeah, I have a lot of clients who are like, you know, I’m having a real challenge trying to define my, we call it the three P’s, my purpose, my passions and my principles. And then we say, you know, if you can define those, and then figure out what the center mass is right, then you can define your mission in life. And um I say, Well, that’s, that’s okay. Because it’s always in a state of becoming, you’re not going to be able to just grab it right now. It’s something that you’re moving toward. And so get out into the arena, and keep moving toward it, but create a reflective practice, where now you’re reflecting upon the feedback and the insights you’re getting from your work. And I mean, both work on your development, right, as well as work in the world. We call that self-mastery in service. And just continue to reflect through your contemplation, meditation, journaling, whatever, and asking those questions. And pretty soon, it starts to be revealed to you. Right. So you get the external revelation, which is coming through feedback and engagement with the world. And then you get the internal insight of how how you’re starting to mold yourself in the environment. And then what happens is suddenly, after, like you said, a year or two of meaningful engagement trying to solve this lifetime riddle, you start to get some clarity around it. And you call that meaning. And I agree with you.


Steven Kotler  21:28  

Yeah you know I like to draw what I’m thinking is one of the things that I find really interesting is, you hear very often in the world actions speak louder than words, what people often miss is, the same is true when talking to yourself, some of the revelations about like, internal mission and things like that, your brain is watching what you do every day, right? One of the things you’re doing when you meditate every day, right, you’re not just working on like calm, cool and collected during the meditation. You’re teaching the brain, you have a goal directed system or a goal. We’re goal directed machines, you’re teaching the brain, that calm, cool and collected is a goal that you value enough that you’re putting daily energy into it. Your brain watches what you do, right? It’s very hard to lie to yourself that way. So most people don’t actually realize that, like, we talk to ourselves through our actions, right. Like, it’s just like, when we deal with the real world, do you trust somebody’s words? Or do you trust their actions? Well, you’re gonna like their words, but it’s their actions, you’re gonna learn to trust over time. The brain is the same way, especially with ourselves. This is why I was in the most dangerous thing in the world, is if your goal setting routinely, like not accomplish your goals, you’re training your brain, that it’s just fine to not accomplish your goals.


Mark Divine 22:46



Steven Kotler 22:47

We’re homeostatic organisms. So just fine to not accomplish your goals. Why waste the energy? This is the same thing we see with mindset. 


Mark Divine 22:53



Steven Kotler 22:54

If you’ve got a fixed mindset, the brain won’t bother expending the energy to learn from mistakes. Because why burn the energy? We got to save it? Right? That’s what a fixed mindset is doing is saying don’t spend the energy on this thing. 


Mark Divine 23:08



Steven Kotler 23:08

I think it’s interesting. Some of the things that like we talked about in common like we know everybody knows actions speak louder than words, but we we miss. This is very true when we talk to ourselves.


Mark Divine  23:17  

You mentioned him earlier that the gentleman you connected with, and I’ll butcher his name, which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It’s not how you say it. How do you say?


Steven Kotler  23:29  

First, I gave you a story with you. 


Mark Divine 23:30



Steven Kotler 23:30

So I butchered his name is everybody butchers his name.


Mark Divine 23:33

It’s impossible to pronounce.


Steven Kotler 23:35

First book I wrote about about flow, which was Western Jesus. I mentioned Mihaly’s name to expose me I was on NPR and Cleveland, phone rings on the station. And the caller says, Would you please tell the moron in the chair? It’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.


Mark Divine 23:56

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Oh, that’s cool. 


Steven Kotler 24:00

Which is a fanatic. You know, if you want if you want one, there you have it.


Mark Divine  24:03  

Well, that’s a lot better than shits.


Steven Kotler  24:06  

Such a huge thinker. Most people have only read flow or creativity. They haven’t read the full body of his work. He really was one of the smartest people over the last century, he worked on so many things. And you know, even the work I’m doing that peak performance aging comes right out of the work out of flow. Right. Uh, one of the reasons I got into peak performance aging is, flow is the engine of adult development. It’s how we gain complexity and adaptation and grow as people. It helps us grow up. It expands empathy and wisdom. It’s literally an engine of maturity. And we know that you know, the quality of the second half of your life, big determinant is the amount of flow you get in, in fact, the flow research collective, I would offer and change this, but right now, if you want to take our peak performance aging training, right, it’s bundled with our introduction to flow training, because the flow stuff is so important. That like putting it together almost works better right now.


Mark Divine  24:58  

Yeah, in fact, that’s why I brought him up because when of his beautiful models was that flow can be activated when the level of challenge in whatever that you’re participating in is slightly greater than the level of skill that you have. So that kind of points to what you were talking about about development. So if we can actively participate in the accruing of skill, and then when we go to perform, ensure that the challenge is just a little bit higher, then not only are we developing, but we’re activating flow, which is helping us develop and so you get this kind of virtuous kind of upward spiral.


Steven Kotler  25:28  

I want to take it one step farther and have the peak performance at that, because this is so neat. So yes, absolutely right, that that challenge skills balancing, there’s questions about, like, how much above your skill level should the challenge be and things like that. But one of the things that’s really neat, as you sort of move into the second half of our lives with the challenge skill set, and all that stuff, is because we’re gaining both expertise, which is say, you know, the not there’s not the skill, right, and we gain wisdom, which is like all the emotional intelligence that comes with gaining the skill.


Mark Divine 26:01



Steven Kotler 26:01

But it turns out, if you want to protect against cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s, just the mental high fading, the two best ways to do it, is expertise and wisdom. And it turns out, it’s because the prefrontal cortex is part of the brain that’s right back here, which is basically where expertise and wisdom both live, that’s the most vulnerable to cognitive decline. It’s the newest structure in the brain, from an evolutionary perspective, it’s the most vulnerable. And when you get expertise and wisdom, without getting too technical, they’re just huge neural networks. So there’s a lot of redundancy across the prefrontal cortex. So not only when you’re walking up the challenge skills, balance and getting the flow, are you becoming more complex, more adaptive, more mature, all that stuff? Actually, because you’re developing expertise and wisdom, you’re protecting the brain against cognitive decline in the future, which I think is really, really cool. It makes a biological point of view, it makes sense that wisdom is neuroprotective, right? Isn’t the very the very thing you want to get passed on? And it turns out, it actually helps us live longer and pass along more. It’s actually a good design, whoever did the design and good design.


Mark Divine  27:10  

Yeah. You know, with Gnar Country, you talk about peak performance aging, you choose a term a couple times, but I think I love that term. The conventional wisdom is that to age well, keep your brain engaged, do some exercise, eat well, make sure you’re getting you know, all those kinds of things. And you know, you will age well, and what you’re saying is something slightly different, like you don’t discount that, but it’s how you engage in those things, right?


Steven Kotler  27:35  

I mean, in a sense, not saying a whole lot. That’s all that different. But it turns out the like the quality of life interventions that you’re speaking about, right? We’d have learned a ton about. Like, we know which ones work the best, and how they work. And so let’s take exercise, right? Get some exercise is absolutely true. But it turns out if you really want to perform at your best over time, you need all five categories of functional fitness, right; stamina, balance, agility, and flexibility. And it turns out certain things like dynamic motion, right, I always say dynamic motion is key. Dynamic is is a word that means all five of those categories at once. But it also means like, you’re using strength and coordination at the same time, when those things happen, not just sort of good for the heart good for those things produce angiogenesis and neurogenesis. So that’s the birth of new neurons, and the birth of the new blood vessels that get energy to those neurons. So yeah, you can get exercise, right, my parents walk every day, it’s better than not walking every day. 


Mark Divine 28:41



Steven Kotler 28:41

But they’re not protecting bone density. 


Mark Divine 28:44



Steven Kotler 28:44

Your bones are the mineral storehouses for the body. So your brain runs on calcium. Where do you think it comes from? Right? So bone density, which you get from lifting heavy weights, and doing specific things over time, walking is great, but it’s not going to do anything on that front end, it’s not going to birth new neurons and those sorts of things. So it’s not like the old idea around how to age gracefully are wrong is it we’ve gotten very specific with it. And the other thing that I want to mention is, so the older idea is that all of our mental skills and our physical skills declined over time, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. 

The new research has revealed that like, we had it half right, all our skills do decline over time. But all of them are used for those skills, right? So you never stopped training those skills, you’re gonna hang on to them even advance them far later in life. Some of what’s changed is on the cognitive side, right? We know all the things that go wrong with the brain over time, we now also know how to fix them. But the interventions are, are wild there’s things that we’ve got video games that work against certain aspects of cognitive to train that up and things like that. So some of it is our training menu has expanded considerably because we’ve gotten more precise based on you know, what you’re looking for and what’s available. When I say our training menu. I don’t mean the flourish collective. I mean, humanity’s not writing idea, right? And we’ve gotten very, very specific. So peak performance aging, these are all tools for lifelong learning, but you want to regularly engage in challenging, creative and social activities that demand dynamic, deliberate play, take place in novel outdoor environments. That’s the combination. And if you can regularly do that, you’re checking all of the boxes. 

And what’s different from that, to me is, it’s a lot more precise and what you don’t hear and that is what you hear, dominating the the aging conversation in the longevity conversation, which is supplements…


Mark Divine 30:37



Steven Kotler 30:38

And biohacking, and this and that. And I’m not saying those things are bad. But I’m saying, look, we’ve got 30 or 40 years of research that shows this stuff is astounding. And we, you know, we know, like when I say you should gauge and challenge and creative and social activities, social activities, we now know, robust social networks translate into an extra seven and a half years of healthy longevity. So like we’ve really measured it, that isn’t the same for any of the like the biohacks are brand new, they have no idea what the long term results are, some are going to turn out to be great. And a lot is going to turn out to be nonsense. And I’m not saying don’t play with those things if you’re interested, of course, play with those things, run the experiment, see what you learn. But like, this is what we absolutely know. And it’s really well-developed. And it’s still as with physical performance, right? Once you retain a certain like baseline of health, kind of thing, it’s the psychological interventions that are that have the most potency.


Mark Divine  31:36  

As a lifetime, you know, martial arts and yogi kind of guy myself, like some of the healthiest people I’ve seen who are in their 80s and 90s haven’t touched a supplement in their lives. Nor did they do any of the other crazy Western hacking stuff. They literally just exercise in a very, very dynamic and functional way every day through yoga asanas and, and being outdoors a lot, you know, like the blue zone peeps, and they train their mind. And they train their mind through breath work through visualization through concentration training.


Steven Kotler  32:05  

Here’s another one. So there are nine known causes of aging, right? Maybe there are more, but their scientists have determined like the nine big ones. And like, certainly, there are billions of dollars and dozens of biotech companies aimed at fixing each and every one of those. But if you don’t want to wait, all nine of them share one, they are all tied inflammation. Inflammation is tied to stress, anything we do, right? Meditation, X, all that stuff that combats stress, does our anti aging medicines.


Mark Divine 32:35



Steven Kotler 32:35

Period. And I think, you know, that’s a lot of what you’re seeing. And I mean, you know, obviously, in the martial arts traditions, for example, you see it in action sports, too. I go to the mountain I ski with so many people in their 60s 70s and 80s. And they’re killing it. 


Mark Divine 32:52



Steven Kotler 32:52

Like folks, I can’t, I can barely keep up with and they’ve got decades on me. You know, I see it all the time when I go to Squaw Valley, Palisades Tahoe now. There’s always a posy of pros there. And everybody always chases Tom Day, who’s like an old, one of the old like early first extreme skiers. He’s I think, 65 or 66 now. But like you’ve got like Olympic downhillers in the pack. And he’s leading the charge.


Mark Divine 33:16



Steven Kotler 33:17

Steven Kotler You know what I mean? They’re like 18 year old Olympians, and he’s 66 years old, and he’s the guy in front. And for a reason. Yeah, totally.


Mark Divine  33:21  

Yeah, totally. My example. That is the surfing community here in Encinitas, right there. And also over in Hawaii, there’s some octogenarians who are out there and they’re just crushing it, you know, on their longboard, they wouldn’t miss a day, right? Unless there’s a major storm or something like that. It’s just, that’s their flow activator. That’s their, you know, life, energy recharger, and they come out with more energy than they go into the water. And it keeps them young. It’s incredible.


Steven Kotler  33:49  

The very first peak performance aging conversation I can remember having was with Laird Hamilton.


Mark Divine

Laird is a great guy. He’s interesting. 


Steven Kotler

In like, 95,96, 97, and we were talking about his neighbor at the time, who was then in his 60s who he surfed with, and you know, Billy, who Laird did everything with, he ended up finally like dying at like 88 or 89. And he was like out there surfing and snowboarding with Laird all the time. But like, I remember the conversation with Laird where we were talking about how exactly what you’re seeing, Billy was one, this guy was one example. But like, you go into the waves, and you were like, I’ve seeing 60 and 70 and 80 year olds, kill it out here. Kill it. Like what you witnessed in the action sports community, whether it’s skiing, or surfing or even martial arts is another example. When you actually go into these communities you don’t see, right like you see people killing it much later in life. This is the first place where I started to realize that like the common narrative was really wrong because my daily experience in these communities of practice was totally different. And the same thing, by the way, when I started doing yoga, which was in the 90s, right? I remember going into my first Ashtanga class, which is what I practice. And there was a, there was a guy in his 80s and a woman in her 80s. And the reason I stuck with it is because I was so pissed that I couldn’t do what they do. I was like, Are you kidding me?


Mark Divine 35:15

I had that same experience in Ashtanga.


Steven Kotler 35:17

And I can’t do what she I was so mad. You know, I’m super competitive. And I was like, No, this is not happening.


Mark Divine  35:23  

I hate to tell you, the yoga is about checking the ego at the door, you know.


Steven Kotler  35:28  

It worked to my benefit has been 30 years of still doing yoga. Right.


Mark Divine  35:31  

Right. Yeah, you’re right. It’s extraordinary. So one of the things that I think people struggle with is that our culture and Western culture has largely moved so far away from this idea that challenging yourself physically, mentally is good for you, right? They’re literally peddling a completely different message, right? So take the easy route, here’s a pill to make you feel better. Here’s a pill to lose weight, here’s a pill to live longer. You don’t have to suffer anymore, right? We’ve kind of moved beyond suffering. And that, unfortunately, has trapped people. In kind of a lower state of being I think, you got to challenge yourself, you got to challenge your mind, you got to challenge your body every day, you said it early, you got to do something hard every day.


Steven Kotler  36:11  

Every day, and multiple times. You know what I’m in. So I was thinking about it this morning, I had a incredibly heavy ski day yesterday where I skied some of the biggest lines I’ve ever skied. And I woke up really tired, really tired. And it was time to take the dogs out. And, like didn’t mind taking them out, but didn’t want to do the work along the way. But I still like I doubled the length of the hike. I was like, Okay, fine. If you don’t want to go uphill, fast and hard today, you know, with a weight vest on, that’s fine. But we’re going for twice as long. Mark what was so interesting about what you said and I agree with it so much is some reason people really want to privilege their emotions happy or  sad in the moment really, like seems to matter. And if you’re a slave to that, that’s very, very difficult to overcome from a performance perspective. 


Mark Divine 37:04



Steven Kotler 37:05

I’ve done this for about a decade now. I’ve been talking to people with those the things in their life that matter the most to them, like what have you done, that has made the most difference, change your future in the most beneficial way. And I’ve been having this conversation for decades, you know, it nobody’s ever given me an example of, oh, I want to I won the lottery. Or, you know, you know what I mean?


Mark Divine  37:24  

I inherited $100 million, it was a great achievement.


Steven Kotler  37:25  

I work three jobs. And you know, drove a taxi and tended bar to put myself through night school and become a lawyer. You know, what those are the stories you hear. Those are my stories. Those are your stories. Those are everybody’s stories. You don’t hear the Oh I slipped on a banana peel and met my wife. It’s not how you hear, it’s not what people tell it. And when you ask people that, right, like people who are making these, like I don’t want to suffer, I want to be so comfortable. Give me a pill decisions. If you ask them the same question, well, what matters the most to you in your life, and what’s made the biggest difference, they’re gonna give you the same examples of things that they struggled with for a long time. And finally, you know, try, what’s amazing to me is people don’t even pay attention to the truth of their own history. That’s where I sort of get caught by it. Because I always just look at the truth, or you’re looking at your own life for an example, like you’ve, you’ve been running this experiment yourself for a while, you know, look at your own life and see the true happiness ever come from like, finding a quick way to like, you know end suffering and quickly, there are exceptions, but as a general rule, right. You don’t hear it.


Mark Divine  38:32  

Yeah, we don’t want to give people the impression that they have to go to their own ass every day. And then because, you know, you could, you could actually then build up resistance. So it’s important to do the crawl, walk, run approach and to you know, choose reasonable challenges every day, and then work that, you know, kind of like increasing the requirement for skill and increasing the challenge. And just like incrementally working toward more and more challenge,


Steven Kotler  38:57  

The thing that’s worth mentioning, because I think people get this screw this up a little bit is when we talk about the challenge skills balance, right? There’s when you look under the hood of it. There’s like eight to 11 Different things that scientists, psychologists mean by challenging skills. And they range from like, competence levels to energy levels. So what you have to realize is that we’re talking about it as if it was like a steady progression as if like yesterday’s challenge, today’s challenge tomorrow, like, and it doesn’t work that way. Because the challenge every day in your head space is gonna be different, your energy levels are going to be different, etc, etc, etc. So like, you want to meet yourself where you are every day and stretch beyond that. It’s not as easy to plot on a graph as you’d want it to be. Right. It’s like strength gains in the gym. Everybody knows this. You’ll progress over time, but like a great lifting day on Monday does not mean you’re gonna have the same kind of you know what I mean? Like I based at a new bench on Monday, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to do it again on Wednesday or Friday. Right? And it changes like you have to be flexible with that. And just know that like, you just want to push yourself a little bit. The other one is that I see a lot, especially if you’re dealing with like entrepreneurs and like real go-getters is they take on challenges that are so great, that it’s too big for what you’re supposed to do in the day, right and big, now you’re overwhelmed, and you think you’re doing it because it’s gonna grab your attention and keep you engaged and may over the long haul. But on a day to day basis, it’s actually kicking them the acids, it’s too great. And as demotivating as taking them in the other. So it’s really, you have to be humble with it. I always like with skiing, I have a motto, especially when peak performance, he gets one inch at a time. And I literally mean an inch. Or writing, same way, when I look back and I review my progress. There’s a part of my brain that’s always wants more progress, more progress, more progress. But then I have to reframe and be like, Well, did you actually go your inch? Oh, you actually went a couple of inches, didn’t you? You wanted to go three yards. So you’re pissed off, but you actually went like three inches. And that was you went farther than you set out to and that was the point. So some of it is you have to like I have to manage it that way too I think.


Mark Divine  41:08  

Humans, I don’t know if this is just hardware in the brain or it’s a cultural thing. But we tend to over magnify the failures or the lack of accomplishments or you know, things that don’t go well. And we under emphasize the accomplishments and the things that do go well. And so I think it’s important to flip that. Things that don’t go well, like in the SEALs, we said, Okay, well, whatever, we just learned how not to do it. Let’s go ahead and figure out how another way. And so that de-emphasized the failures. And then when we when we won, we were like, man, even if it was a small win, we’re like, good job, you know, we learned to celebrate those wins. And that was a big part of our success, especially the de-emphasizing the failure because a lot of people lock on those failures and things don’t go well. And then they magnify and blow it out of proportion. And they take it personally as if they are the failure.


Steven Kotler  41:52  

Yeah, I think shame, self-consciousness, embarrassment, self-criticism. 


Mark Divine 42:00

Those are the killers of performance. 


Steven Kotler 42:02

They’re the killers of performance. They absolutely are. So here’s the thing, wild peak performance agent, we’ve been talking about the challenge skills balance. One of the things that we figured out at the flow research collective for peak performance aging, is that I’m going to use the term older adults. And all I mean by that is, you’re an older adult, once the voice in your head starts saying, Hey, you’re too old for this shit. Like, the minute you do could be in your 20s. If you’ve got that voice, right, that’s what I’m putting you in that category. Okay. So people have been trying to measure the challenge skills balance that separation for a while Csikszentmihalyi tried, and he came up with about 4% wasn’t a real attempt, we tried to validate that it’s difficult. But that’s a rough episode, what we figured out in older adults is because of allostatic load, which is the impact of stress over time, because of injuries and the fact that this internal governor will keep you hampered for about 18 months after an injury, all that stuff, we realized it shrunk. And in older adults, it can be as small as like 1% for certain kinds of skill acquisition. 

So literally, most of our success and running experiments with peak performance agent was like go slow to go fast. We had to hold people back and…


Mark Divine 43:15

I love that. 


Steven Kotler 43:16

But the point there is when you’ve got like a really thin margin, like a 1% difference between challenging skills, if you’ve got shame, self consciousness, like you’ve just eaten up that whole 1%. Now you’ve got an actual performance problem. And I always say that one of the secrets, I think, to peak performance in general, but especially people from its aging, figure out how you like to learn and don’t waver. Like I’m introverted, I want to be bad in private, I don’t want to learn, you know what I mean? 


Mark Divine 43:45



Steven Kotler 43:45

And I like to warm up slowly. Whether this is as a writer, or as an athlete, like there’s certain things that get the best performance out of me over time. I don’t waver on them. You know what I mean? 


Mark Divine 43:58



Steven Kotler 43:58

Like, this is exactly how I learn best. So that’s what I’m going to aim for every time. You know, some of it is that, you know, the voice in my head is loud. Shame is heavy for me, sometimes, I don’t want public failures, but I’m getting better and better and better at like being really bad in public at things. But I’m 55 years old, it took me a long time to get there.


Mark Divine  44:22  

Right. Reminds me of our saying in the teams slow is smooth, smooth is fast. That’s how we approach learning. That’s how we approach our Ops, you know, so let’s, let’s just be methodical, let’s work the processes let’s let’s not get ahead of our skis. And then suddenly, you know, as you continue to move through your practice or your you know, your your work up toward deployment, or even in an in an individual Op, this works, you find that you’re actually executing at a very what would be perceived as a very fast level, but in your mind, it’s still slow and methodical, because that slow smooth, smooth is fast is kind of activating that that group flow process and everything seems to be within a time domain within your control. But if you try to speed things up, if you rush things if you don’t do the warm up, right, if you get all like, I gotta get into this mentally, then you don’t activate flow, you prevent flow, you block it in some way.


Steven Kotler  45:13  

So it’s interesting with with skiing, for example, it takes 20 minutes, four runs or so for most human bodies to be warmed up. That’s just how long it takes the human body to warm up. So I watched so many people like the first run, and they want to go to the hardest.


Mark Divine 45:27

That’s right. 


Steven Kotler 45:28

You know, because they want to get it out of the way, or they want to start out charging or, or whatever. And I’m like, You do realize that like, your body can’t perform it, it’s like, it’s not warmed up. Like, it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do. It’s not warmed up, and you’re actually just gonna hurt your performance later. Ours was, you know, you gotta let go slow to go fast.


Mark Divine 45:47

That’s right.


Steven Kotler 45:47

Is very much true. The same thing is true with writing. Like, I always start my day, by editing what I wrote the day before, I know I’ve got to to face a blank page, I know I’ve got this, I’m gonna have to produce this many new words every day. But that gets my brain into the rhythm of playing with language. And it fires up my pattern recognition skills, working a little bit, like it ends up saving me my time later. But it’s like, I could do like sometimes like, it feels like a writing wise, like a two hour, three hour warm up for like 20 minutes of actual writing it’s a four hour writing session. But like, the warm up took three hours, and then when I was ready to hit the blank page, I could just fill it.


Mark Divine 46:26



Steven Kotler 46:27

Over time, you start to recognize your rhythms, it’s hard to learn it at the front end. That’s the advantage of consistency. As you start to figure this out. Over time, you’re like, oh, wow, I go slow first, I get to go fast later. Okay, that’s consistent across, you know, I’ve seen this again, and again, it’s you stop making those mistakes.


Mark Divine  46:46  

We got to wrap up here, I’m gonna be sensitive to time. But I’m, I’m intrigued with one aspect of your training. I’ll preface that by saying that I acquired a company called Brute Force training at the end of last year, and we make weight vests and weighted backpacks for training like rucksacks and we make weighted kettlebells. Not like metal, but you know, with this combination of rubber mulch and shot, right, so it’s really cool, innovative, but training with a weight vest is really powerful. And it’s just still pretty fringy. But you know, more people,


Steven Kotler  47:17  

It’s at the heart of what I did in Gnar Country. It’s how I train with like, quick and dirty version is twofold. The flow research collective, you know, we train people, 130 countries, but the one commonality among all them, is they’re all busy, right? So we always look for what I call Multi Tool Solutions, a single tool that solves multiple problems at once. And when it came to training, so I started with the weight vest, it was really simple. Like, I didn’t have time, I was trying to train for this crazy experiment, peak performance agent, and I knew I needed a lot, training, I didn’t have time for more training, I was already like, I went to the gym a bunch of times, you know, I did what I did. But part of what I was doing on a daily basis was hiking with my dogs. I’ve got dogs, I have to take them out every day. And I was like, Oh, wow, I can add in the weight fast. 


Mark Divine 48:01



Steven Kotler 48:02

So that was where it started with me is how do I get more training and less time. But what I started to realize with the weight vest is for peak performance aging, it’s one stop shopping, you get balance, agility, strength, and stamina. If you’re stretching before and after, like you should be. That’s almost all the categories. And if you’re going uphill, faster and coming downhill faster, especially like fast-twitch dynamic motion. That’s great. 

Additionally, there’s work done that shows wave vests, and training the way vest is one of the only one of the best ways to protect bone density over time and increases bone density, which you have to do for peak performance aging. 

Also, as you pointed out, like a part of you know, the formula, peak performance aging demands, we have novel outdoor experiences because the brain, we want to preserve the brain, most in neurogenesis in the brain, new neurons are born in the hippocampus. Hippocampus is the part of the brain that does long-term memory, and it also dislocation, it evolved. When you have emotionally charged experiences in the outdoors. That’s what this part of the brain evolved to do. So the best way to preserve the brain is an emotionally charged experience in novel outdoor environment, because it produces the most neurons, and it backs up the neural networks and you get everything you want. So with a weight vest, you’re getting all of this and I you know, you’ve seen some of this leadership to be the single most important physical side for peak performance taking the single most important thing you can do over time is leg strength. Leg strength inversely correlates with mortality, right? And there’s a bunch of different reasons for it. Some of it has to do with our leg bones are the biggest bones in our body. So we’re increasing bone health there. Some of it has to do with it. As long as you have leg strength balance doesn’t go you don’t come to falls and on and on and on. But a weight vest was this sort of the single best way to do it. The only caveat is I always say that like, start any movement training by going to see a movement professional can watch you walk and figure out like what you y’all you broke your ankle when you were 16. And you overcompensate this way, and like, fix your body first before you start adding a bunch of new load. 


Mark Divine 50:13

Yeah, I totally agree with that.


Steven Kotler 50:13

Right? Otherwise you’re going go just going to injure yourself, and you’re gonna go in the other direction. And I always say with the weight vest, like, start slowly start, like, if you think you can hike a 20-minute hill with your weight vest, start by hiking 20 minutes on flat ground, like very slowly, so your mind can’t wander, if there’s any level of exertion, right? Like so if you’re really exerting yourself, you’re focused on what you’re doing. So I found that I can hike with a weight vest and use when I could do like a 90-minute hike with at a certain weight. With my mind wandering throughout, I was like, okay, you’ve mastered that level go heavier, or go faster.


Mark Divine 50:52



Steven Kotler 50:53

So I could use like, what my brain was doing as a measure of like exertion levels as a really great feedback mechanism with the weight vest. And I was like, you know, it’s a phenomenal, phenomenal tool. Across the boards. I’m a big fan of them for training. In fact, during ski season, I’ve started to even on my off days, I wear like a 12 pound weight fast. Just so on, you know, getting a little something on my hikes, even if it’s my rest day, because I’m trying to raise the like baseline level of my rest days. A little higher, too. So I’ve been playing with that a lot this year. 


Mark Divine  51:30  

Yeah, I was I had this made a comment the other day to a friend of mine, I said, you know, if we could issue weight vest to kids in school, we’d solve a lot of problems, right? You suddenly seen kids dropping weight and and you know, getting much healthier and being more athletic and being more focused, just by giving them a weight vest and say here.


Steven Kotler  51:50  

To me it’s the ultimate in like passive exertion. It’s perceived exertion a weight vest, is you notice it for the first five minutes, and then you don’t even notice it. And so like we know this from other studies on weight vest, perceived exertion versus real exertion. Perceived Exertion while you’re wearing the weight vest is actually usually five to 10%. under the actual work you’re doing.


Mark Divine 52:11



Steven Kotler 52:12

You think you’re doing less work than you’re actually doing. Like for America, where they want everything in a pill and you want everything easy. This is the only thing that is legitimately easy.


Mark Divine 52:23



Steven Kotler 52:23

It’s actually wild. I’m a really big fan of them.


Mark Divine  52:26  

So if you’re listening, get yourself a weight vest at bruteforcetraining.com And, and start wearing it at work. You know, I showed up in meetings and then we weight vest on and now my team is like.


Steven Kotler  52:36  

Yeah you know, I can’t do this. And it’s got a ton of stuff on it. I break it down a lot. I’m a big fan. The longest chapter in the book is the one that breaks down like the weight vest and the weight vest hiking and the like. I was just so fascinated by what an amazing tool. 


Mark Divine  52:52  

Well this has been amazing conversation. Steven, so Gnar Country, where do you want people to go to kind of learn more about the book and


Steven Kotler  52:58  

The books available anywhere in gnarcountry.com, GNAR, gnarcountry.com is the website for the book. The cool thing on the website, we you know, we ran a bunch of really crazy peak performance aging experiments. And we had National Geographic, Cameraman follow us around the whole time. So like, you don’t have to take my word for any of that you can go watch videos, and check that out to so gnarcountry.com but the books available anywhere and you know if you’re actually going to listen to what I have to say support local independent bookstores if you can. They need you.


Mark Divine  53:31  

That’s right. Steven, thanks so much for your time today. I look forward to seeing you on the slopes with our weight vest on.


Steven Kotler 53:38  

That’s right. Thanks, Mark. 


Mark Divine  53:42  

All right. Hooyah! What a fascinating conversation. I love Steven Kotler. What a fascinating, interesting guy. Gosh he’s written 14 books, and he’s still going strong. Love this Gnar Country concept growing old staying rad, check out his book in gnarcountry.com and go get yourself a weight vest at brute force training.com. And start training with that weight vest or wearing it to work and just hiking and walking through the run an incredible way to just improve all of those five physical skills we talked about, and to challenge yourself every day. Show Notes are at Mark Divine.com. The YouTube video will be up on our YouTube channel. You can reach out to me on Twitter at Mark Divine and on Instagram and Facebook at real Mark Divine send me ideas for guests or send me questions and we’ll get them answered. plug for my newsletter, Divine Inspiration, which comes out every Tuesday, where I’ve got show notes for the podcast of the week. I’ve got my blog, I’ve got other articles and interesting things that come across my desk, including a book that I’m reading in a practice. So go to Mark Divine.com, sign up and subcribe, and refer to your friends. Thanks so much my great team Jason Sanderson and Geoff Haskell and Catherine Divine who produce the podcast bring guests like Steven to you every week as well as the Divine Inspiration Newsletter. Reviews and ratings are very, very helpful for the podcast. So if you haven’t done so, please consider doing so. Wherever you Listen, Apple, Spotify, it’s very helpful to help other people find it and to stay at the top of the rankings, which keeps me motivated. Thanks so much also for doing the work of improving your mind and your body and being part of the solution for creating a more positive world and pushing back against all the negativity and violence has to be done one person at a time starting with you and me. So until next time, keep doing the work. This is Coach Divine out. 


Transcribed by https://otter.ai



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