Brad Stulberg

Brad Stulberg
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Kelly: [0:00:04] Hey everyone, I’m Dr. Kelly Starrett.

Juliet: [0:00:06] And I’m Juliet Starrett.

Kelly: [0:00:08] And you’re listening to The Ready State Podcast.


Juliet: [00:00:16] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by our friends at LMNT.

Kelly: [00:00:22] Let’s clear some things up first. It’s LMNT. Not L-M-N-T.

Juliet: [00:00:25] Yeah, I was going to say that as well.

Kelly: [00:00:26] People say L-M-N-T, I’m like who are you? LMNT.

Juliet: [00:00:28] LMNT.

Kelly: [00:00:29] I want to talk about one of the use cases for LMNT when people are going low carb for a variety of reasons: want to play around with ketosis, hey I’m traveling, I don’t need to eat very much, I don’t need to make fuel.

Juliet: [00:00:43] Well, that just recently happened to you, right?

Kelly: [00:00:45] Yes, that’s right. So some of the original source cases for this for when people were getting keto flu, they were feeling so bad. And when they up their salts, that keto flu went away. When I travel sometimes, I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrate because I’m not really moving.

Juliet: [00:00:59] Yeah, we’re just sitting there on the plane.

Kelly: [00:01:00] Just sitting there. But one of the things that happens when I go low carb and start to become glycogen depleted is that my understanding is that it pulls all the water out because glycogen’s held in the muscle with water. And I start to feel achy. Like literally my low back starts to ache.

Juliet: [00:01:12] Yeah, you literally are like, “Wait, my low back is aching.”

Kelly: [00:01:14] And it never aches.

Juliet: [00:01:15] And it always takes you a second to realize that. You’re like, wait, I haven’t had a carbohydrate yet today.

Kelly: [00:01:19] And guess what happens when I drink LMNT?

Juliet: [00:01:21] You’re fixed, cured.

Kelly: [00:01:21] So weird. Because I’m changing, again, LMT is really about moving water through different compartments of your body. That’s the magic of this thing. Plus, good taste. And when I add that water back with LMNT, keto ache gone.

Juliet: [00:01:37] If you want to get rid of your keto flu, it’s time to try LMNT. Right now, if you order through our link, you get a free sample pack with all of LMNT’s flavors. Go to

Juliet: [00:01:51] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by our friends at Vitruvian.

Kelly: [00:01:56] You and I were just having a conversation with someone writing an article about the need for adults to strength train.

Juliet: [00:02:02] Yeah, and especially adults who are doing outdoor sports and triathlons and mountain biking.

Kelly: [00:02:07] Oftentimes, I don’t remember where we were traveling but we witnessed some people doing strength training. I think we were in Texas. And what we saw was a lot of gym f-ery where people are doing some triceps push downs, little curls. That’s not weight training.

Juliet: [00:02:22] Yeah, we also felt bad for people because obviously had no… They had learned that they were supposed to strength train, but they had no idea where to begin or what to do. 

Kelly: [00:02:31] So when people approach us and they’re like, “Hey I want to get into some strength training and real resistance training,” one of the things that we simply run into is, okay, we’re going to have to challenge your sandbag or your kettle bells with more volume or some  [inaudible 00:02:43], but it’s difficult to get people on real linear progressions. You’re going to need a barbell or a trap bar plus a whole bunch of weights to get in there, and suddenly people get overwhelmed. What’s beautiful about the Vitruvian is that no one is freaked out by handles so I can be like, here-

Juliet: [00:03:00] It’s very relatable and accessible.

Kelly: [00:03:01] That’s right. Hold these handles that are going to crush you or hold this bar. But you can progress from five pounds all the way up to many hundreds of pounds where I can’t hold the grips anymore it’s such a large load. That’s what’s amazing about the Vitruvian. One of the best ways we know to put strength on people is basic linear progressions, having people add just a little few pounds per exercise, per time they do that exercise. And guess what happens? It is so easy to do that on a Vitruvian, where suddenly you can walk into your garage, load this thing up in a basic linear progression, and have real strength training. Front squat, back squat, dead lift, press, you name it.

Juliet: [00:03:38] Yeah, and a lot of people can’t relate to kitting out an entire home gym with all the required equipment and you could literally get all your strength training needs met in your home with just this.

Kelly: [00:03:46] I’m pretty sure I could get you to the Olympics on a Vitruvian.

Juliet: [00:03:49] To learn more, go to

Kelly: [00:03:53] On this episode of The Ready State Podcast we are thrilled to bring you Brad Stulberg. Brad is the bestselling author of the new book Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything Is Changing – Including You. Brad writes and coaches on mental health, wellbeing, and sustainable excellence. He regularly contributes to The New York Times and his work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic, along with other outlets. In his coaching practice, he works with executives, entrepreneurs, physicians, athletes on their mental skills and overall wellbeing. He’s on faculty at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and his past books include The Practice of Groundedness and Peak Performance. He lives in western North Carolina.

Juliet: [00:04:34] So this was an awesome episode and I learned so much and I thought it was such a great conversation. But I thought one of the things I liked the most was how timely this was for you and I, having just gone through a huge change and one we’re still going through, in dropping off our own daughter at college. And I thought it was just such an important conversation in thinking about how we can manage these inevitable difficult times of change in our lives.

Kelly: [00:04:59] I’ve known Brad for a long time, over 10 years. He is such a thoughtful writer and person. And his evolution from elite athlete towards how do I help people navigate their lives is really personally astounding. One of the things I think was interesting was realizing when he got into trying to understand his own process—this is a really personal book for him—he also recognized that there wasn’t a lot of literature or language around giving people a framework to navigate change in their own lives.

Juliet: [00:05:29] Yeah, I mean this is a really special book and our conversation with Brad was really in depth and amazing.

Kelly: [00:05:35] One of our favorites.

Juliet: [00:05:37] And I hope you enjoy this episode.

Juliet: [00:05:38] Brad, welcome to The Ready State Podcast. We are really excited to talk to you about your new book and your old books and all things books. But before we do, you just had a big athletic achievement that we were talking about on the pre-roll, so I wanted to have you share here on the podcast to start.

Brad Stulberg: [00:05:56] Well, it’s all relative and I feel like in a room of giants, literally and in Kelly’s case, figuratively, it’s hardly an accomplishment. But I did lock out 500 pounds on the deadlift recently. So that was a big lift for me.

Juliet: [00:06:13] Dude, that’s so awesome.

Kelly: [00:06:15] That’s a big lift for anyone any time. We have this saying that if you’re an adult man, we can train you to deadlift up to 400 pounds. That’s reasonable. But 500 pounds, that’s not for everyone. That requires training, that requires some diligence, programming. But I think what’s especially remarkable about that is you come from a slightly different school of athletic endeavors that was more aerobically biased, is that correct?

Juliet: [00:06:40] Yeah, let’s hear a little bit about that.

Brad Stulberg: [00:06:41] It’s the most recent school. That was my graduate school of sport. But you can use the metaphor that my upbringing in sport was very much in power sports. So long before I knew you, Kelly, I played slot receiver to outside linebacker for a pretty good Michigan high school football team. And then I had this departure shortly after college where I got the endurance sports bug. And that’s when I met you, Kelly. So you saw me as this long, lanky, long course triathlete. And I fought against my body for nine years trying to improve and do that. And eventually, I just kind of got sick of it. I had some chronic injuries that weren’t going away. We had the birth of our first child and it was just, it wasn’t fun. But being an athlete has always been central to my identity, so I went back to my roots in strength and power sports, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last four or five years. I definitely respond better to the strength training. What I tell my running friends is I could train my ass off and probably never run faster than a 2:55 marathon but after one year in the gym, I was back into 2:45 shape. So some of it is just my genetics is better for strength training. But yeah, now I’m doing that.

Juliet: [00:08:02] As Kelly says, when we go on mountain bike rides with a lot of people that have whippet style bodies, he’s like I am a square peg trying to put myself in a round hole and it sounds like that’s what you were doing with your endurance career.

Kelly: [00:08:12] But interestingly, I feel like when I raced slalom, I was like 185, which was the biggest slalom athlete out there just based on my frame, my anthropometry.

Juliet: [00:08:23] But you were still so little for you.

Kelly: [00:08:24] I know. I’m now 238. And one of the things that happened was I started to get into CrossFit and strength training legitimately because it was fun and supported all these other things and felt like it made me pretty resilient. But I did not get strong the way my friends got strong and I felt like I had been fighting my genetics this other direction and really, I’m an aerobic athlete. And people laugh at that but I’m like, no, I’m an aerobic athlete. Now I’m just trapped, encased, in this meat sleeve. But I’m the slowest aerobic athlete, but I can go. So it’s interesting that you end up coming around and there is something to the genetics. Also, I think it just gives you particularly such interesting insight into behavior, into training, the conversations you’re able to have, the nuances because you live on both sides. I think it’s just really remarkable.

Brad Stulberg: [00:09:16] Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah, it’s nice to have lived in both worlds.

Juliet: [00:09:21] I will say you said something that piqued my interest a little bit or at least something that I related to is I have lots of friends who have gone down the endurance sports path and then had a baby. And oftentimes, while endurance sports are amazing, they are often very time consuming.

Kelly: [00:09:36] And expensive on your body.

Juliet: [00:09:36] And expensive on your body. And you have to spend a lot of time away from the house. So I mean do you think having a child was this moment where you were like, okay, I don’t have time for this and I do have time to deadlift?

Brad Stulberg: [00:09:48] A hundred percent. I think on top of other frustrations, that was like the hay that broke the camel’s back. But yeah, I was at a point where to get better at endurance sports, I’d be training 12 to 15 hours a week, I’d always be injured or on the verge of injury because I’m fighting against my body. I would be whip tired because endurance sports are very catabolic in nature. And I said, you know, I don’t think it would take more than four by 75 minutes in the gym to probably train to the point where that’s the max dose I could recover from not being a pro athlete. And man, would I have a lot more time and energy. So that was a big part of the shift was just updating to what was life going to be like with a kid and what kind of father did I want to be and what kind of energy did I want to have for the family.

Kelly: [00:10:39] And can I just say what kind of body do I want to roll into my 50s, 60s, 70s with. 

Juliet: [00:10:46] Ideally one that works.

Kelly: [00:10:48] Yeah. We see that a lot of our endurance friends got really good at it—again no shade, I think it’s awesome—we’re mountain bikers. But they lost springiness, they lost muscle mass, they lost bone density. And it’s harder to change that station the older you get. I think that’s one of the things that you should absolutely specialize in something for a while because it’s a passion, it’s a hobby, whatever, go after it. Then you have to start to say is this the same frame that’s going to allow me to maintain my range, be pain free, respect the time. I mean you and I have talked a lot about just the fact that we got into, there’s a time in our lives where what we could do was 25 minutes in the garage and that was all we had. 

Juliet: [00:11:29] Yeah, so we had to make it efficient. We weren’t going to go to the Olympics with that, but it worked. 

Brad Stulberg: [00:11:34] Yeah, I think you’re not going to do any endurance sports with that, at least not in a meaningful way for a long period of time. So it’s just a shift and they’re both great. And I do agree with you, I think that as you get older the importance of muscle mass and just doing everything you can to avoid frailty becomes so important. So that’s just a side benefit.

Kelly: [00:11:54] Before we dive in and you tell us a little bit about where you are and how you’ve come to be where you are, I just want to point out if you go particularly onto X (Twitter), Brad has become the most reasonable voice on the internet. It’s crazy how reasonable you’ve become. And if you’re not already following Brad Stulberg, definitely start following Brad. But I want you to start to view this as you’ve come from this lens of elite performance, your writing partner is one of the best coaches on the planet, you really have this nuanced, really in-depth position and view on training, and yet you have swung into becoming the world’s most affable, reasonable person. And I can’t wait to hear how you got on this journey. 

Brad Stulberg: [00:12:43] Thank you. That’s the nicest thing that you could say. So I’m really grateful for that. It makes me uncomfortable.

Kelly: [00:12:51] Well, tell us where you’re coming from today because I think there’s a relatively-

Juliet: [00:12:54] Can I ask one ask aside?

Kelly: [00:12:54] Yeah. Jump in.

Juliet: [00:12:55] Can I ask one more side question? I heard that you grew up in Michigan. You do some work with the University of Michigan School of Public Health. I can’t help put mention we just dropped our daughter off at the University of Michigan for her freshmen year. Did you know that?

Brad Stulberg: [00:13:10] Man, Kelly, you don’t respond to my?? Kelly and I have been texting about your daughter going to Michigan for the last six months. He just hasn’t told you.

Juliet: [00:13:16] Oh my God. Okay. See.

Brad Stulberg: [00:13:19] Sorry. Kelly’s giving me a look. I’m getting him in trouble. 

Juliet: [00:13:21] Yeah, so you guys have had a whole convo about this and I’ve been in the dark.

Brad Stulberg: [00:13:24] Didn’t you go to Zingerman’s Deli when you dropped her off?

Juliet: [00:13:27] We did. We went to Zingerman’s. We went and spent all our money at the ?? Med??And we’ve realized, unlike other schools, that it has a cultlike quality and nobody is embarrassed to be wearing their Michigan gear 24 hours a day.

Kelly: [00:13:41] Michigan Dad. 

Juliet: [00:13:42] I mean there were a lot of parents with kids where it was Michigan Mom, Michigan Dad and the kid was wearing a Michigan shirt. If you went to any other school, it’s like no way, you would never do that. There, it’s welcomed.

Brad Stulberg: [00:13:52] You know what they say about Harvard, right? It’s the Michigan of the East Coast. 

Kelly: [00:13:58] TM, that is fantastic.

Juliet: [00:14:00] All right, so you guys have already been going long on the Michigan thing. But I was like Michigan, oh my God, I have to ask him. Okay. You just released this awesome book. Tell us the backstory. Why this book? Why now? What inspired it?

Brad Stulberg: [00:14:12] Part personal, part I’d say professional or societal. On the personal front, in the last, let’s see, six years of my life just a lot of change that felt like it happened pretty fast. It was very compressed. Couple examples: Got really sick with obsessive compulsive disorder and secondary depression seemingly out of nowhere. And then recovered from that. That was a two-to-three-year journey. Had my first child with my wife. We had our second child. Moved across the country from the Bay Area to a smaller mountain town in western North Carolina. Published my first book solo, severed really all ties with the corporate world to just go at it full time as a writer trying to do this. Stopped running and had major orthopedic surgery on my leg. Kelly was a big help on that process. Thought that maybe it could help me get back into running, but nope. It did allow me to do other things I wanted to do, which was great. Oh, and then a very painful family estrangement. So all of this happened in six years, maybe seven, from the time OCD started to now. So this all this personal change in my work, in my life, in my athletic identity, in my family, in my geography. 

And then early on in the pandemic I remember being in our kitchen on my wife’s iPad and reading all of these articles, “When Are Things Going to Get Back to Normal?” And it didn’t matter, right, left, or center, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or The Economist, they were all running these kinds of articles. And there was something about it that viscerally bothered me. And I didn’t know what it was at the time. But something about that framing of when are things going to get back to normal. So I went to Google and I just typed in, “Why do we think about change in terms of getting back to normal?” And the word homeostasis came up. I’m like, oh, I’ve heard of the word homeostasis, who hasn’t? So I start looking into homeostasis, it leads me down this rabbit hole to allostasis, which is a topic maybe we’ll talk about, to here’s the book. So I wrote the book for myself because I wanted to make sense of all the change that I was undergoing, and then it turned into a project for other people too because as I did the research I learned that so much of our conventional wisdom on change is really due to a faulty or at best an incomplete model.

Juliet: [00:16:28] Yeah, I mean I think that’s really interesting what you say, just the idea that we all are focused on getting back to normal. I mean what does that even mean and presumably, if we’re all trying to change and evolve as humans, we wouldn’t necessarily want to go backward. I don’t know. Could you talk a little bit more about where this back to normal thing came from and how- 

Kelly: [00:16:46] And define homeostasis and allostasis for the people who are listening who maybe they’ve heard of homeostasis, maybe don’t have a really good definition, maybe have never heard of the second term.

Brad Stulberg: [00:16:55] All right. So homeostasis comes out of the mid 1800’s and it was an observation that a physician and physiologist named Walter Cannon had. He basically said that living systems crave stability and change is bad for living systems. And this is 1850s science. This is groundbreaking back then.

Kelly: [00:17:14] He had never read Antifragile yet, had he?

Brad Stulberg: [00:17:17] He had not yet read Antifragile. Cannon described a cycle of order, disorder, back to order. And he said that the goal of any vibrant system is to avoid change, to avoid disorder, and when disorder happens, to get back to order as fast as possible. And that is homeostasis in a nutshell. It’s a self-regulating process that brings a system back to where it started.

Kelly: [00:17:41] Yeah, and with things like your body temperature, pretty cool. I’m super down with homeostasis when it comes to my enzymatic processes.

Brad Stulberg: [00:17:49] That’s right. However, outside of very few examples, one of which is body temperature, it turns out that vibrant, healthy systems, that’s not how they achieve stability through change. They don’t get back to order. So along comes Peter Sterling, neuroscientist at University of Pennsylvania and his collaborator, Joseph Ayer, a biologist. And they say we’ve been thinking about how healthy systems thrive completely wrong. So yes, it is true that healthy systems crave stability, but that stability is constantly being recreated somewhere new. And they coined this term allostasis, which they described as a state of order, disorder, reorder. And the root, the etymology of the word tells the whole story. So homo means same and stasis means standing. So homeostasis means stability by staying the same. Allo means variable. So allostasis means stability through change. 

And what Sterling and Ayer did, which really rocked the scientific world, was say that healthy systems are adaptable, and while it’s true that they crave stability, that stability comes as a byproduct of being able to change. While this has become more and more well known in science—there was a paper in the prestigious journal Nature about 12 years ago—it’s still not really known to laypeople. The conventional motto we have for change is homeostasis and it turns out not to be so accurate. And on the fever point, that’s a great example, but a fever is only one part of an immune response and the rest of the immune response looks a lot more like reorder, right? That’s the process of immunity, is your immune system reaches a new stability after this ?? period and this new stability is now primed to fight whatever it was that threw you off.

Kelly: [00:19:33] My monkey brain is going wild right now. Where am I going to jump in? I start with by saying I think intuitively there’ve got to be some sayings, like smooth seas don’t make good sailors. I think intuitively people understand that. But I have to say, where do people get formal learning or a schema to handle change? They just sort of blunder through it. What’s wonderful about your book is that you’re like here are some really simple models to help you understand and conceptualize what’s going on and not just try to get back to normal. But in your research for this book did you recognize that there is literally no formal place where people talk about ways to cope with change?

Brad Stulberg: [00:20:25] That’s right. And I was shocked because change is more or less synonymous with life. We’re always changing. We’re changing internally, the environment around us is changing. Evolution, how we got here, is just one big process of order, disorder, reorder, when you step back and think about it. Yet there is no place to get a formal education in change. You could argue if you’re… I don’t know if it’s unlucky or lucky but if you’ve had reason to go work with a really good therapist, maybe you’ve learned some skills. But besides that, it doesn’t really exist, which is wild to me. It was wild to me. And then you have The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and everyone in between saying get back to normal. I mean that’s what we get as a result. It’s just like literally a maladaptive outlook towards change.

Juliet: [00:21:12] Yeah, I mean it just seems like change is the one thing we can all count on happening to us throughout our lives. It is interesting that there is zero tools. Talk to us about the idea that I loved in the book called rugged flexibility. Could you define that and tell us a little more about that and how you came up with that?

Brad Stulberg: [00:21:30] Rugged flexibility is this term that I coin in the book and I argue that it is the best way to skillfully navigate change. And to be rugged is to be tough, to be durable, and to be flexible is to be soft, to bend easily without breaking. And most people hear these two words and they think that they are diametric opposites. You’re either rugged or you’re flexible. And what I argue in the book is that the way to skillfully navigate change is to become both rugged and flexible, to marry these two qualities, to become a supple leopard. 

Juliet: [00:22:04] Yes.

Kelly: [00:22:04] Yes.

Brad Stulberg: [00:22:05] Sorry, I had to throw that in there.

Kelly: [00:22:07] We’ll take it. Point to Brad.

Brad Stulberg: [00:22:09] Free pub, fee pub. So that’s rugged flexibility and it’s born out of this notion of nondual thinking, which is this and that, not this or that. And it’s so easy to think I’m going to be super rugged or I’m going to be flexible. And it’s both. And this traces right down to very basic logic, which again, common sense is all too uncommon. Generally speaking, in 99.999 of circumstances, we do have some agency to navigate change. And in 99.99999 percent circumstances there is much that is also out of our control. Both things can be true at once. 

Juliet: [00:22:48] Are there certain kinds of people with certain backgrounds or skills or families that are naturally better at this idea of rugged flexibility or is it people who have, as you said, worked with a really good therapist or been conscious, have intentionally taken the time to work on this area of their life who are good at it? I mean who is this and who’s becoming ruggedly flexible?

Brad Stulberg: [00:23:18] Ooh, that’s such a good question. I don’t think there’s a temperament of rugged flexibility that you’re necessarily just born with; I think that it is generally hard won through experience. However, what I’m hoping to do with this book is help people fast track that a little bit because it’s also just not a way that people in Western cultures think. We don’t think of marrying two opposite qualities. We think very dualistically and very linearly, which is not a bad thing. The scientific method rests on disproving a hypothesis. It is very either or. And that is a phenomenal way of amassing knowledge and thinking, but it’s not the only way. And so much about life is complex and gray and change is so complex and gray that I think that we need to bring this kind of nondual thinking to it. So it’s a roundabout answer to say that how will I try to instill this quality in my kids is I will teach them that for some situations, this or that thinking makes a lot of sense, but for other situations this and that thinking makes a lot of sense.

Kelly: [00:24:21] Like everyone else, one of our personal traumas during the COVID epidemic was we lost the gym, which you had seen. You’ve been there. All of the attendant problems that went along with hat, letting our friends and family and our employees go at the gym, shutting that down, losing this sense of identity and self. I think we were a little stressed out, I can’t remember. I had also had my knee replaced so I had just gone through this horrific sense of self loss. Maybe I wont be able to move again. My personal identity tied in with movement, which I know you can relate to. And this thing happened where I burned a hole in my stomach and started hiccupping. And I started hiccupping and getting six hiccups a minute for-

Juliet: [00:25:02] Fourteen days.

Kelly: [00:25:03] Thirteen days, fourteen days. And I was debilitated. And Juliet slept in the other room because I would hiccup and the whole bed would shake and she couldn’t sleep.

Juliet: [00:25:10] He is large so when he hiccups, it’s a thing.

Kelly: [00:25:14] It was a thing. And what’s really interesting is I couldn’t get ahead of that. I tried Thorazine, I mean they put me on gnarly drugs. Ultimately, I was on this freakish horse tranq dose of Gabapentin waiting for this ulcer to heal and waiting for my nervous system to come down. One of the things that happened was that Juliet… Because I literally was in this place where people were like, oh yeah. Our friends were sending me eight of the, hey, this gimmick, try this, drink upside down. I was like you don’t understand, I’m well beyond that. And simultaneously I was reading about people who had unremitting hiccups going on for years and years and years. And suddenly, Juliet and I were like, well, how are we going to make content, am I ever going to speak again. So Juliet went out and she hired a hypnotist.

Juliet: [00:26:02] Which by the way, just the process of hiring a hypnotist was funny and weird and I will never forget it.

Kelly: [00:26:07] But the reason I bring it up was that as I was confronting these things of I can’t control this, this may not change, this could get worse, those three fundamental beliefs that we have, one of the things that happened during this session was he said, “How do you control a wild bull, Kelly?” And I was like, (hiccup) “I have no idea. Tell me what to do.” And he was like, “You put it in a big field.” And when I suddenly opened my expanses and was like I’m going to be okay, I’ll solve this, I have the resources, that little mind shift took away all of the anxiety that I was building around this really debilitating thing. Have you ever had hiccups for an hour? Imagine 14 days of that. I lost a ton of weight. It was really gnarly. So this book really resonates, aspects of it. I mean of course, I love your writing. But because I realize that Juliet and I are very good at handling change and difficult times. We’re masters of those things through our childhood, through sports training. I have the greatest partner on the planet. But what I realized is I actually did not have a formal schema to understand step one, step two, step three. We had just sort of intuited our way through these very difficult times talking, et cetera, et cetera. But man, I wish you could go back in time and just put this out before I had the hiccups. That’d be great.

Brad Stulberg: [00:27:35] But I was going through my own version of the hiccups. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a psychological hiccup that just won’t go away. I think some of it is you have to have the hiccups and have that personal experience to be able to maybe intellectualize some of this stuff. But I appreciate you saying that. I view my number one job as an author is to give people language and words for things that they intuit and that maybe they already even know but they don’t yet have concrete words for. Because once we have words for something, we can name it, and once we name something, we can wrestle with it, we can share it with others, we can lean on social support in a different way. And when we name things they lose their power over us, even if only a little bit. Did your hiccups ultimately go away after working with the hypnotist? Because you’re not hiccupping now so I’m just curious what was the end result of that?

Kelly: [00:28:29] I think Prilosec kicked in after 21 days, after 14 days. And the system, the thing that was constantly irritating finally calmed down and then the nervous system finally stopped interpreting that as a threat.

Juliet: [00:28:43] Yeah, it was crazy. It was crazy.

Kelly: [00:28:44] But I would have these spontaneous hiccups every once in a while and I still am now burnt. Like I injured myself during that time and there is something I really like to do, everyone, I like to eat toast. So I don’t know.

Juliet: [00:28:58] No, he doesn’t just like to eat toast. He likes to eat bone dry toast.

Kelly: [00:29:02] It’s so good. There’s something about baking bread and then baking it a second time.

Brad Stulberg: [00:29:08] Can I tell a funny anecdote for listeners and then we’ll get back on track about Kelly’s eating? You probably have never heard this story, Juliet. So the first time I met Kelly was at the gym at the marina and this was when I was into my peak endurance athlete days. And there was a little bit of endurance athletes versus CrossFit. This was back in the immature days. And I go to meet this guy and the pretense is I’m writing for Outside magazine and we ended up doing a great story on the gym and on Kelly. And Kelly, I don’t know if you remember this, but you walked me into Starbucks and I order an Americano with sugar free almond milk and Kelly gets the freaking venti latte and then asks for it with not milk but cream. And I just remember thinking oh my God. You were still training pretty hard there and I was like whoo. It’s funny to hear about the dry toast. I thought you were going to say toast dipped in cream is where you were going with that.

Juliet: [00:30:03] I don’t even know where he was going with that. Okay, wait, I’ve got a question. I’ve got a non toast question.

Kelly: [00:30:08] My point is-

Juliet: [00:30:09] What’s your point?

Kelly: [00:30:09] Every once in a while we’re driving to the gym, we’re driving to work now, and I’ll have a piece of dry toast, the piece I’m having because it’s sacred, beautiful toast, but I have no water in the car. And it triggers hiccups. And it becomes an emergency for me to get to work where I can drink some water because my hiccups are starting to persist. And Juliet starts to get very stressed. She’s like, “You can’t eat dry toast in the car because it’s going to trigger your hiccups again.” It’s interesting that those patterns my body now knows through body keeps the score about what this is and reacts quickly.

Brad Stulberg: [00:30:45] Yeah. And you’re someone that knows just about as much as anyone I’d imagine, at least on this side of the equator, about pain. You don’t need me to tell you generally speaking the more that you resist pain and the more that you freak out about pain, the thornier it becomes. And I think that there’s probably an analogy there or at least some crossover. It is so tricky, whether it’s hiccups, whether it’s physical pain, whether it’s the pain of loss, stress, any kind of-

Kelly: [00:31:14] Yeah. ?? added discomfort.

Brad Stulberg: [00:31:16] Right. Discomfort, whatever it is. Back to dual thinking, rugged and flexible, there is this tension between acceptance on the one hand and just doing nothing, and just completely letting go, and then problem solving on the other. And I think a mature adult’s life’s work is figuring out where on that spectrum they should fall for different situations. And that is so… talk about a framework that is easy to talk about and the words are powerful but hard to do. But I’m constantly asking myself when faced with challenges, where do I want to be with acceptance versus trying to fix. And it’s tricky and it’s a moving target. I mean with my psychological hiccups, there was a lot of trying to fix. There’s cognitive behavioral therapy, there’s taking medication. But at some point, there’s also just this surrender, being like, I might never get better, this might never go away. And of course, that’s the day it goes away.

Juliet: [00:32:13] Hey Ready State listeners, if you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [00:32:20] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by our friends at Momentous. 

Kelly: [00:32:24] One of the things that you and I are obsessed with these days is deep sleep.

Juliet: [00:32:28] Anything related to sleep we’re obsessed with. All things sleep.

Kelly: [00:32:30] One of the easiest ways that we know to change your deep sleep has been to supplement with magnesium.

Juliet: [00:32:39] It’s like a tranq dart for deep sleep.

Kelly: [00:32:41] You’re crazy, man. What’s so easy though is that people have been using magnesium for down regulation sleep for a long time. What we’re getting now are better, more bioavailable sources of magnesium, magnesium across the blood brain barrier, magnesium that affects mood a little differently. The new magnesium threonate on Momentous is the super man turbo charged magnesium. It’s crazy.

Juliet: [00:33:06] It’s awesome and one of the ways I know that it is a great product for us is that when we travel we really strip out the big cocktail supplements that we usually take and we just take a couple of things and we always make sure that we have some magnesium on hand when we travel because it’s so important to our sleep.

Kelly: [00:33:34] It actually is a little funny routine where I’m like, “Hey, did you take your magnesium?” And you’re like, “Well, I’m laying down and I don’t want to sit up.” You’re all precious about your magnesium. People, take your magnesium. If you struggle with deep sleep or if you want to improve-

Juliet: [00:33:36] Or sleep at all.

Kelly: [00:33:37] Yeah, I would say there are lots of solutions. Momentous makes a great sleep pack. But start with just the simple addition of magnesium in the evening. Magnesium is a mineral. It’s not a crazy topic. It’s not a weird thing. You’re not drinking goat blood. It is a simple way to improve your deep sleep very, very simply. Get on the magnesium, people.

Juliet: [00:33:59] Go to and use code TRS for 20 percent off your first purchase.

Juliet: [00:34:06] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is also supported by our friends at YETI.

Kelly: [00:34:10] They have created the last bottle.

Juliet: [00:34:12] It’s the Yonder Bottle. It’s this awesome-

Kelly: [00:34:15] It’s the what bottle?

Juliet: [00:34:16] Yonder.

Kelly: [00:34:16] Yonder?

Juliet: [00:34:17] Yonder Bottle. It is this awesome plastic bottle that is made of 50 percent recycled plastic.

Kelly: [00:34:25] And of course, 100 percent BPA free. Yeah. This thing is bomb proof. You can freeze it, it’s light. You can actually travel with it and not be like I’m taking my bottle or my child.

Juliet: [00:34:34] The lid is also bomb proof. It’s totally leak proof so you can put it in your backpack-

Kelly: [00:34:39] That’s a big deal.

Juliet: [00:34:39] Right next to your laptop and not have to worry about an explosion.

Kelly: [00:34:41] There’s something cool about this actually. You have two choices. You can big mouth it and fill ice cubes in there but also you can have the little discreet petite cap for the more refined people.

Juliet: [00:34:55] The more fancy?

Kelly: [00:34:56] Yeah. 

Juliet: [00:34:56] Kind of drinking.

Kelly: [00:34:57] Like if you’re drinking whiskey. You need a liter of whiskey and you just want to sip it, you could do that. Or if you need to mainline the whiskey, you could do it that way too.

Juliet: [00:35:02] Look, we are huge fans of this Yonder Bottle.

Kelly: [00:35:04] We begged them to make this for a long time.

Juliet: [00:35:06] Yeah, we use it when we travel, when we backpack, outdoor activities. It is a huge part of our everyday life and it’s really a great addition to the YETI family.

Kelly: [00:35:15] When are we going to tell Caroline that we changed her middle name to Yonder?

Juliet: [00:35:19] To learn more and get one of the greatest water bottles out there, go to

Juliet: [00:35:26] You know, I had a similar experience actually last fall. I talked about this recently. But for the first time in my life, I had low back pain. I’ve had a lot of weird health stuff but I actually haven’t had a lot of weird orthopedic pain. So I spent the first four weeks in high action, doing everything, trying to see Kelly as a patient. I mean I was in high action, let’s see how we can fix, fix, fix. And then four weeks in, Kelly goes, “You know, most low back pain just resolves on its own in four to six weeks,” or some… What was it? Six to eight weeks?

Kelly: [00:36:00] Four to six weeks.

Juliet: [00:36:02] Four to six weeks. And I go, oh, okay, I’m at four weeks. And I literally just stopped doing anything. I stopped mobilizing and seeing practitioners and I stopped thinking about it. And guess what? Exactly at six weeks it went away. And so I had a really important lesson in exactly what you’re talking about, right? So I love that. You know, I’m going to switch gears a little bit. The one way that Kelly and I have talked about flexibility and the importance of it, and in fact, we’ve been talking about this for years as something that we really value, in part because we have a bunch of parents now, many of whom are in their late 70s, early 80s, and we live like a mile from my own mom, Janet. And one of the things that’s really amazing about Janet and stands out so distinctly now that she’s almost 80 and my other parents are also almost 80, is that Janet is still super flexible as a person. She’s intellectually flexible. She’s flexible-

Kelly: [00:36:56] Emotionally.

Juliet: [00:36:56] She’s emotionally flexible. She stands out among the other parents like a sore thumb because it seems like as we age, we become less and less flexible and less and less able to manage change. And so we have this front row seat in watching this with our own parents. And we’ve been talking about it for 10 years, how do we make sure that when we’re older we maintain that flexibility, that ability to adapt to change? One example is when our kids have kids, we want to support our kids and we don’t want to be inflexible. If our kids live in a crap apartment, we want to be able to go sleep on their crappy couch because that’s the option we have and that’s how we can help take care of our kids’ kids kind of thing, you know? So we just have been talking a lot about how do we retain this intellectual, emotional, physical flexibility as we age and not become your classic inflexible, unwilling to change older person. So what’s the secret?

Brad Stulberg: [00:37:57] Ooh, I wish I had it. I’d be a wealthy man. I think there are a few ways to approach this. One is just like the very organic way, which would be, I know y’all are already doing this, but keep exercising and keep moving. The research is pretty unequivocal now that one of the best ways to stave off cognitive decline and cognitive rigidity is not through doing word searches but through moving your body. So I think you want to nail the organic part of it, which is really movement. Sleep is important too but nothing trumps movement. The more psychological side of this is realizing sometimes flexibility is uncomfortable and being okay with that and being very values driven in how you act. So if I step back and I talk about the schema of rugged flexibility, the ruggedness are your core values. So things like health, community, creativity, authenticity, intellect, wisdom, kindness, whatever they might be. And those are things that you’re going to carry with you throughout all kinds of weather patterns in your life. Those probably don’t change or if they do change, they don’t change very often. But then how you apply those core values has got to be super flexible, and that’s where the flexibility comes in. So I think it’s just a constant question of being like what are my values and what would a creative person do, what would an authentic person do, what would a kind person do in this moment. And then even if it feels icky and uncomfortable because I’m getting older and more rigid, how do I just go ahead and do the thing anyways? 

Our mutual friend Rich Roll talks about mood follows action. In the research literature it’s called behavioral activation, which basically says often we act ourselves into a way of being, we don’t be ourselves into a way of acting. So I think the best way of being flexible is to continue to act like a flexible person. So we’ve got the organic, exercise and sleep; we’ve got this mood follows action, know your core values and act on them; and then I think the last thing that I’ll say is working to diversify your sense of identity and your sense of self. So the metaphor that I’ve come to use is I think it’s really helpful to think of your identity as a home. And you want to have multiple rooms in your house because if there’s a deluge or a flood in one room, then you can go seek refuge in those other rooms and it allows you to have some stability while you navigate the flood. Whereas you just live in a studio apartment and you’ve only got one room, well, when that room floods, you’re screwed. Everything’s going to blow up. And I think when we become really rigid, when we identify as one type of person that only does one thing, then it makes us really fragile to change because when anything happens in that one room, we freak out. And you see this in aging, but the other place you see it is with elite athletes in transition. If your only room is world class speed skater, world class powerlifter, you name it, well, then when change happens, be it illness, injury, aging, retirement, it’s really discombobulating. So I think the most important thing for an athlete, and I’m going to come back to the question of aging, but really for anyone, is to have multiple rooms in the house that is your identity.

Juliet: [00:41:13] I love that. That’s a great answer.

Kelly: [00:41:13] We’re running into not always to put it into the framework of sport, but I think it’s such a common way for people to understand themselves because the easiest bar of entry is to get uncomfortable or to compete or something. One of the things we’re noticing is that there is a definitive lack of resiliency when faced with adversity and change. We’re seeing kids in high school and going to college struggle with winning, not winning. They’ve been the best forever, suddenly they’re not the best. We have our friends’ children not getting into med school. They’ve crushed everything in their lives and suddenly the system isn’t working for them. I know you kind of answered this obliquely, but it seems like do we have to be hyper meta about process all the time or can we be experiential where we can dose out some of these dissonant moments? Do we have to all do an escape room where Juliet’s the boss and I’m fighting the boss and we have to talk? Is that the only way through? Or do you think there are bread crumbs of behaviors that can set us up for having this conversation? Because I’m not sure my 15 year old’s ready to have this conversation with me yet.

Brad Stulberg: [00:42:33] Parenting, yeah. This is tough. I think there are bread crumbs. I think the first thing is just love your kid regardless and work really hard not to tie that love to any kind of behavior, which sounds easy but is so hard to do when the rubber meets the road. I mean I write books on this stuff and my five-year-old got really into basketball and it took so much effort not to show up more excited when he was playing basketball than when he was playing Pokémon because I didn’t want him to think, oh, dad likes when I’m playing basketball and making shots, so therefore I need to play basketball and make shots. And I’m only sharing this because it required tons of restraint. But no, I’m just going to love you the same. Even though inside I’m like, yeah, future MJ. And he’s five. And I write about this. And if I think and write about this all the time, imagine how hard it is for somebody that doesn’t think and write about it all the time. So I think that’s one bread crumb. 

I think another bread crumb is—and I know you all have talked about this on the podcast—Kelly, I think you’ve written about this a little. But I think back to this nondual thinking, I think we’ve kind of lost the plot societally. But 10 years ago, it was tough it out, mental illness doesn’t exist, think positive thoughts, you’ll be fine. The pendulum swung so hard in the other direction, which is really good for destigmatizing things, and I think has been a huge net positive. But destigmatizing something isn’t the same as making it better. And I think that we need to destigmatize and teach our kids that it’s okay to be frustrated and feel all these things and fail. And that doesn’t mean that the solution is despair and becoming a victim. It means that’s part of the human experience. And holding both of those things at once.

 I distinctly remember when Simone Biles made the decision to pull out of the Olympics. It was like a watershed moment for mental health. And on the one hand, I thought it was great and I think Simone Biles absolutely made the right decision because she is the world’s best. No one knows it better than her. The last thing she needs is a white dude like me telling her you made the wrong decision. And she is in a situation where if she has the twisties and she goes for something, she can seriously injure herself, potentially end her life and her ability to move. So that was the right choice. What I took issue with were all of these articles in the pop culture about it’s okay to quit and the power of quitting. And then I had my friends who coach high school cross country saying that they’ve got these kids who don’t want to run the 800 because they’re scared they’re going to lose and they cite Simone Biles and they say, well, she quit, and that was really strong of her. And I think that’s where we lost the plot, where it does take a lot of strength to step out and know your limits, but it also takes a lot of strength to do the hard thing even when you’re scared. And I think that sometimes we take a hammer and everything looks like a nail. And I think that’s where the pendulum has swung a little bit too far on “self care.” Because for a kid, sometimes the self care thing to do if you’re playing the long game is actually go do the hard thing. 

Juliet: [00:45:32] Right. Not to avoid. I mean I think-

Brad Stulberg: [00:45:35] Yes, that’s it. Avoidance. That’s it. I mean because that word’s so powerful. Every single evidence-based therapy for dealing with depression or anxiety teaches you not to avoid things. Non-avoidance is the key skill. What it doesn’t do is it doesn’t say toughen up Jimmy and go face the flames. It says man, is it hard to be a human, man is it hard to carry with you fear and angst, and you need to know how to love yourself and to be your own best friend so that you can then go face those fears and do the hard thing and have your own back. And I think that is how to start communicating it to younger people. Sorry, Juliet, when you said avoidance, I just wanted to make sure-

Juliet: [00:46:15] No, I mean I couldn’t, yeah, man, we could have a whole entire podcast on this subject because it’s so important and relevant on so many levels. And just the one comment I was going to make is I’ve talked to Lisa, our podcast producer, about this a little bit, and I think the word that she put into my mind is a lot of this pendulum swinging the other way has been very disempowering for kids. And that’s another word that, I don’t know, when she said to me, it resonated with me. Talk to me a little bit about the role of expectations.

Brad Stulberg: [00:46:42] The brain is a prediction machine. What we experience as consciousness is always filtered through what we expect will happen next. And this is for good reason. If we never had any prediction about anything, we would be so inefficient because we’d constantly have to vet everything. However, when our reality is different from our expectations, it throws us for a loop. And by definition, change is our expectations not being met or going awry. The shorthand equation a lot of researchers like to use is happiness or calm at any given time is a function of your reality minus your expectations. When change happens, it is so important to update our expectations to the new reality, to put those two things back in alignment or at least closer to alignment because if they’re not, we’re thrown for a loop. 

A really powerful example of this was during COVID. And early on during COVID, there was a summer where cases essentially went down to zero everywhere. And it was great. We were going inside people’s houses, training inside the gym. COVID was over. And this was for more than a few weeks. It started to look like a few months. All of those articles, “We’re finally back to normal.” And then the Delta variant came and it was such a gut punch. And I distinctly remember so many people were more despairing and felt worse when the Delta variant happened than at the beginning of the pandemic even though objectively we were in much better shape. We had vaccines, we had therapeutics, we had information on how this transmitted, how to prevent it from transmitting. And yet everyone was acting like we were worse off, even though we were objectively better off. Why? Because the expectation. We’d gone through this terrible thing and then we had the expectation that it’s over and then it wasn’t. So it’s like running a marathon and thinking you’re at mile 25 ½ and then someone plops you and puts you at mile two. It sucks, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should be like this is great. But if we keep running as if we’re at mile 25, we’re just going to make ourselves miserable and we’re not going to make any progress.

Juliet: [00:48:47] I just am going to tell you a really pedestrian example of something similar to this. And by the way, I remember that part of COVID, and I fell into that camp. I was really bummed about… I was like it’s over. This is a very pedestrian example, but I was doing a workout with my friend Margaret. And I thought it was 10 rounds of something, which already took 20 minutes in and of itself and was like a suffer fest. And on round 10 I’m jogging back to my house, and Mags says to me, “Okay, we’re just about to start round two.” Because I hadn’t seen on the board that it was two times 10 rounds. And I was like devastated. But I mean it’s just such a simple example but exactly what you’re talking about, right? Just that the whole thing changed.

Kelly: [00:49:25] Bro, I try to prepare you for that all the time. 

Juliet: [00:49:29] Read the board. Read the board and my expectations would have been-

Kelly: [00:49:32] No, I always program these open pieces.

Juliet: [00:49:34] Well, one quick other story-

Brad Stulberg: [00:49:36] Open pieces are good. They make for resilient athletes because you can’t just latch onto that expectation.

Juliet: [00:49:41] Oh my God.

Kelly: [00:49:43] I’m sorry. Underline that. Lisa, could you just timestamp that moment? Lisa’s shaking her head.

Juliet: [00:49:47] You may have just ruined our marriage, Brad.

Kelly: [00:49:49] Lisa’s shaking her head.

Juliet: [00:49:50] Because Kelly loves to program these workouts. Just keep going until you feel tired and I’m like, dude, I need a time constraint. Come on now. So we just went through this, I will say on the expectations front as we talked about a little bit earlier about the Michigan thing. We just dropped our oldest daughter off-

Kelly: [00:50:04] Change.

Juliet: [00:50:05] At college so we’re going through a huge change in our own life of going through a… Where we actually were five because our daughter’s boyfriend basically lived at our house, so we went from five to three. 

Kelly: [00:50:17] Last night I made three cups of rice. I only needed to make one cup of rice. 

Juliet: [00:50:19] Yeah, so we’re going through this huge period of change. But I think that we actually, or at least I did not set my expectations correctly about the sadness part. You know, when you get in the whole college thing, you’re like college, college, college, okay, you got into college, okay, now you’re going, you move in. You’re just on this sort of action wheel. And it all feels very exciting and you are excited. But I will say I was surprised and not expecting how sad I would feel about the whole thing. So yeah. I have no point. 

Kelly: [00:50:52] Are you sad right now?

Juliet: [00:50:53] I’m sad right now telling you this.

Brad Stulberg: [00:50:54] And I think that that’s okay. Tragic optimism is the term that I talk about in the book. Viktor Frankl coined it. And he basically says life is full of tragedy. And one of his three varieties of tragedy is the people that we love, we’ll lose. And you can talk about that in the ultimate sense, which is death, but it’s a pretty significant loss to have your baby go off to school. I mean I’m going to cry just thinking about what’s going to happen and my kids are five and nine months. So that is good reason to cry and to be sad. And the work because it is work, is to be optimistic nonetheless and to just embrace that and not judge yourself, and that’s part of being a fully textured human being. And that’s where you lean on social support, that’s where you start crying on your podcast. All that is part of the deal. It is what it is. And it’s really hard. 

Kelly: [00:51:47] I just want to go on record as saying I too felt feelings. 

Juliet: [00:51:52] You felt a feeling? You felt one feeling?

Kelly: [00:51:55] My feeling flexed itself. It flexed itself.

Brad Stulberg: [00:51:57] What’d you feel, Kelly? Free?

Kelly: [00:52:00] No. I call Georgia, she’s the crown princess. But normally I’m able to, one of my superpowers, which didn’t always serve me, was to be able to dissociate very well. And then take action. Dissociate and then-

Juliet: [00:52:14] Didn’t always serve you?

Kelly: [00:52:16] If you’re running Class V, it’s a really great thing to dissociate and then come back up. However, it was tough when you were laying in bed crying, first night in the dorms, and you were like, “My baby’s gone.” And I was like-

Juliet: [00:52:31] Kelly was like, “I feel no feelings.”

Kelly: [00:52:33] This is very sad. No, I felt very sad too. But what I do appreciate is that it’s… To your point, that this change is inevitable. And we had talked about it, we had prepared for it, we could see it coming, unlike so much disease and trauma that happens to families, and disasters and fires everything, we could prepare for this. And it still gave us a wallop. And I think that’s what’s really remarkable. I think one thing that really resonates with me is that Juliet and I in our last piece that we wrote, were really trying to talk about the fact that we want you to be durable physically because the hits are coming. I think it’s so naïve to think that you will not suffer change or grief or loss or any of those things. Your job may change, you may move to a different place, just as you say. You could engage actively in your own choice because it’s a better life. And that change is really, really difficult to manage. I just cannot underline enough how nice it is for people to just even have some language and some framework to be able to understand that. 

And then in our own saying, just even though we had prepared for our daughter to go, just still feeling like, wow, I didn’t realize how sad I would be about this. I mean this morning when her room was empty… No, I’m just kidding. I really do. It was gnarly. But even understanding all of that, I think it’s difficult but you have to experience and do it. And now, even just having prepared this because you sent me another copy, having the schema and a language and a template to model it meant it was easier for me to anticipate what was next and right action, and I think that’s something you talk about, is taking action in the face of challenges. Is that right?

Brad Stulberg: [00:54:20] That is right. And it’s the best thing we can do in those moments is to take a skillful, right, or wise action. The brain really struggles to be distraught about something. At the same time, it’s acting on that thing. So one of the best ways to take our brain out of being distraught is to act. But that doesn’t mean to react because there’s a lot of unskillful actions you can take. It’s about taking a skillful action. And does that mean reaching out for social support? Does that mean getting a workout in? Does that mean volunteering? It can mean a whole bunch of different things. But I think when it feels like you want to be paralyzed out of action, that’s generally a good cue to force yourself into action.

Kelly: [00:55:00] One of the things that resonated with me about that concept, Michael Gervais is a hero of mine, he had a sports performance psychologist on named George Mumford. 

Brad Stulberg: [00:55:09] George is great.  Yeah.

Kelly: [00:55:11] George is great. And is just a really incredible, sensitive person. And when he was asked how do you define excellence, he says the pause between action and reaction. And that space in there. And he’s like that happens in a microsecond. The mini traumas, the things that happen to you from sports, secondarily got pushed, whatever, but also in the big gaps of weeks, days, months between something happened to you, and your ability to not just react. I saw that there’s a common thread there and I just wanted to underline that for everyone because I think that that… Well, you just pointed it out, it’s really important. Not just this knee jerk reaction.

Brad Stulberg: [00:55:54] I love it. And you’re a hundred percent right. I talk about trivial changes versus big changes. So your dog has diarrhea or you get stuck in traffic or the Zoom breaks down. That’s a change. It doesn’t meet your expectations. And you have a choice. You can either panic and react or you can have some space and respond really thoughtfully and take right action. And those happen in the moment. And those are talked about a lot. That’s talked about in sports all the time. Like you said, are you going to respond or react. But there’s not as much coaching for these stretched out liminal spaces in our lives where you’re not responding or reacting to your oldest daughter going off to school in the moment, you’re doing that for the next couple months, perhaps for the next couple of years. 

And there’s this beautiful allegory. Freud wrote about this. Presumably he’s on a hike with the poet Maria Rainer Rilke. He doesn’t name them. He just says a despondent poet that’s a friend. Everyone’s like it must be Rilke. And they’re going on this hike and there’s all these beautiful wildflowers. And Freud is feeling all of this joy at the wildflowers. And Rilke is just despairing. And Freud is like, dude, why are you so upset? And Rilke said because these wildflowers are going to wilt, they’re going to die. And he couldn’t allow himself to be happy because he was so scared of being sad when the flowers went away. And obviously he’s not just talking about the flowers, he’s talking about everything. And what Freud said, and Freud was wrong about a lot of things, but he was right about this: That’s all the more reason to love deeply and to pay attention because it’s transient. And philosophers have done all kinds of crazy thought experiments where if things didn’t change, we’d be miserable. We’d be bored out of our minds. So the idea of everything staying the same always is like a purgatory. It’s solitary confinement. Yet change is also really painful. Both of those things can be true at the same time. 

So I think in these situations it’s just normalizing. It’s okay to feel sad. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. That means something’s right. And there are tools that we can do. We don’t have to sit in the despair. We can take right action. We can get social support. And for those of us, Juliet, that do have feelings, we can read other stories of people who have gone through similar things. And I think that’s one of the beauties of books, is that you can read across time and you can feel seen and heard by other people, and that can help a lot. 

Juliet: [00:58:15] Yeah, I mean I’ll just say this book was so timely. It literally arrived and I was like, wow, we are about to… We got this early copy of this book on the precipice of this big life change, and I was like, wow, how important. And I really on a personal level cannot recommend it enough, Master of Change. Tell us what’s next for you besides going around and talking about your book and where can people learn more about you, follow you, buy the book, all of the logistics.

Brad Stulberg: [00:58:43] All right, we’ll start with the book. The book is available everywhere you get books. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local bookseller. It’s available in all formats. You can read it, you can listen to it. You can’t yet zap it into your brain, but maybe one day.

Juliet: [00:58:57] Someday.

Kelly: [00:58:58] I need this. It’s now my screensaver, just so you know. 

Brad Stulberg: [00:59:02] On the internet, on the web, I’m most active on Instagram these days. I’m just struggling to get motivated to show up on X. But I’m @bradstulberg. And then I cohost the podcast with my collaborator Steve Magness, it’s called The Growth Equation. What’s next? I’ve got another book in the works. But I promised myself that I was going to wait until the start of next year, 2024, to start working on it in earnest. In the past, I’ve moved on from a book to the next one really fast, which I think is great for my mental health and I love writing. But I feel like I have shortchanged the promotion of those books. So with this one, I’m going to spend a little bit more time shepherding it out into the world before I lose myself in the next one.

Kelly: [00:59:49] I can’t wait to hear the stories that come up when you talk about this because what’s so amazing about this is that Juliet saw her own self in a unique way, I saw my own self in a unique way, and I think anyone who reads this is immediately going to be like, oh, you wrote this for me. Like exactly for me. Thanks.

Juliet: [01:00:07] Well, I just want to add to the love. One of the things I love so much about it is just how personal it was. I mean I felt like I read this and I was like, oh my God, I know Brad. I know him and you were so open with sharing your own experience and challenges and it was really spectacular in that way.

Brad Stulberg: [01:00:25] Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. And it’s been so interesting to hear from people. I felt like this was the most personal book and I was worried that people weren’t going to relate to it. And then everyone’s like this is the most universal book, did you write this for me. I think that’s actually really beautiful because to me what that tells us is that yes, it feels so individual, but we all go through these changes. We all age, we all get sick at some point, if we’re lucky, we recover. Many people get married, many people get divorced. We all have family drama. We all relocate and move geographically. Those of us that are career focused, we all have big wins and big losses. So it’s not to take away from the intensity of those feelings when they happen to you, but I think there’s something really consoling also about knowing that these are universal things and it allows us to show up and have conversations like this and feel like, all right, we got this together. And I think that’s a really beautiful, beautiful thing.

Kelly: [01:01:19] And theoretically become better people on the other side.

Juliet: [01:01:24] Go figure.

Kelly: [01:01:24] Go figure, right? Little more able to handle my own craziness.

Juliet: [01:01:30] Yeah, and congratulations again. And I think it’s a great idea that you’re going to do the promotion tour a little more-

Kelly: [01:01:36] Enjoy the process.

Juliet: [01:01:36] Because I do think this is an important book for a lot of people to read.

Brad Stulberg: [01:01:40] Thank you both so much. It was a pleasure getting to spend some time with you today.


Kelly: [01:01:49] Thank you for listening to The Ready State Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, check out all our episodes here or at And be sure to subscribe or leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [01:02:00] Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @thereadystate.

Kelly: [01:02:05] Until next time, cheers everyone. 



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