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Episode 557
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Create A Happy Mind And Happy Life with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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As humans, we’re natural storytellers. We like telling our friends the funny thing that happened at work, but we’re also really good at making up stories about things that happen in life and applying them to our identity and worldview. 

We can start believing these stories all too easily. But, they’re actually just stories! And we have a choice about what we believe and how we create our reality. 

I’m so excited to share this conversation I recently had with my good friend Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, all about cultivating greater health and happiness by breaking down the barriers we’ve put up in our own minds. 

Dr. Chatterjee and I dive into the episode with this concept of Core Happiness, which is built from the three pillars of alignment, contentment, and control. These are principles he uses himself and with his patients to create optimal health and greater happiness, which he explains with life-changing examples. 

Our conditioning, fears, and traumas impact the stories we create and how we react to things. Dr. Chatterjee and I talk about some truly inspiring tips for how to stop the negative self-talk and rewire our responses so that we can experience the world in an empowering way and ditch our junk habits in the process. 

You might be surprised to hear that seeking friction is one of Dr. Chatterjee’s go-to methods for rewriting negative stories. He explains what this means and why it’s an essential practice for growth. 

If you’re wondering how mindset and self-compassion tie into physical health, we cover that too. Negative self-talk produces physiological stress in the body and raises cortisol, among other things. So not only can we feel happier and mentally lighter when we retrain the brain towards love and acceptance, we are creating better whole-body health at the same time. 

There’s so much uplifting information in this episode.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Here are more details from our interview (audio version / Apple Subscriber version):

  1. The three pillars of core happiness
    (7:35)
  2. What we can learn from Holocaust survivors about happiness
    (10:58)
  3. Using moments of social friction to your own benefit
    (14:42)
  4. How happiness affects our health
    (20:28)
  5. The connection between illness and forgiveness
    (29:28)
  6. How your brain reacts when you’re triggered
    (34:29)
  7. Training your brain for happiness
    (36:12)
  8. Dr. Chatterjee’s morning routine
    (42:58)
  9. How your inner voice is affecting your happiness and health
    (46:20)
  10. Toxic positivity and happiness in the midst of grief and loss
    (1:02:59)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee is regarded as one of the most influential doctors in the UK. A practicing GP for the last two decades, Dr. Chatterjee wants to inspire people to transform their health by making small, sustainable changes to their lifestyles. 

Host of the #1 Apple podcast, Feel Better, Live More, and presenter of BBC 1’s Doctor in the House, Dr. Chatterjee is the author of 5 Sunday Times bestselling books and his TED Talk, “How to Make Diseases Disappear,” has now been viewed over 4.8 million times. His newest book is Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being.

Get a copy of Dr. Chatterjee’s new book, Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being, here.

Transcript

Introduction:

Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Every situation has multiple realities. You can train yourself to choose a story that empowers you rather than enslaves you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. If you’ve ever been unhappy and want to be happy and learn the secrets of happiness, this is the podcast you should be listening to because it’s with my good friend, an extraordinary physician, a leader in the field of functional medicine in United Kingdom, a TV star, who I knew when, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. He’s regarded as one of the most influential doctors in the UK.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

He’s a practicing GP for the last two decades, and he wants to inspire people to transform their health through making small, sustainable changes in their lifestyles, I would say sometimes small, sometimes big, leading the charge on how healthcare and medicine is understood in the UK. Dr. Chatterjee most recently co-created a lifestyle medicine course, get this, with the Royal College of GPs, which is their family doctors, which has now been delivered to over a thousand GPs and healthcare professionals.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

He’s also the host of the number one Apple podcast, Feel Better Live More, a presenter of BBC’s number one, Doctor in the House show, which is a great TV show that he did. He’s the author of Five Sunday Times. That’s the London Times bestselling books, and his Ted talk, How to Make Disease Disappear, has now been viewed over 4.8 million times. He lives in Winslow, Manchester with his wife and two children, and he is just an awesome guy. Welcome, Rangan, to the show.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Mark, thanks so much for having me again. I really, really appreciate it. I love chatting to you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Well, I’m really excited about your new book. This is it, Happy Mind Happy Life. I think that is such an important title because, from my perspective, I know how to fix biology. I can get people’s biochemicals working, their gut working, everything tuned up, vitamin levels optimized, hormones optimized, everything working, but unless you fix the pharmacy between your ears, which is the most powerful pharmacy that exists, it’s very hard to live a happy fulfilled life because a lot of our, turns out, our health and our wellbeing is determined by the quality of our thoughts, the quality of our mind, the quality of our ability to engage their life in ways that create a sense of wellbeing and happiness instead of disconnection and disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yes, we have to fix the brain in order to fix the mind, and that’s a lot of the work we both have done about how do we create health through restoring the body’s optimal functioning systems. That’s what functional medicine is, but once you’ve done that, and I’ve written a whole book about it called The UltraMind Solution, which is how to fix your broken brain by fixing your body first, then comes the question of how do you build a happy life. How do you look at your mind in a way that allows you to engage with life, be fully present, meet the people in your life with joy and equanimity, and to do the things in your life you want to do?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That is a really tough question. So our mindset and our mind determines so much of what happens with our health and everything else in our life. So start with the three ways that people can practice happiness on a daily basis, and then we’re going to get into why the heck you wrote this book in the first place.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, look, I mean, you mentioned happiness, right? Maybe we can get to that shortly. What do I mean when I say happiness because you can say the word happiness, Mark, to 10 different people, and they may have 10 different interpretations of what that means, right? So I have a term in the book called core happiness, which is the happiness I think every single one of us wants in our life. Now, the image of happiness that’s presented to us by society and advertising is that billboard image of the smiling couple with their kids on a beach with the ocean behind them, right? We think that’s happiness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Like the ones in your book.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, like the nice images in the book, yeah, but I think it can be misleading because we spend all our time trying to work hard, trying to earn more money, trying to acquire more things so that we can lead what we think is this happy life, but that billboard image is a pleasurable experience. It can form part of a happy life, but I don’t think that’s what happiness is.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So I wrote the book because there’s a very strong link between happiness and health. We can definitely get to that, but when I say happiness, I mean core happiness, and core happiness, I want people to think of as a three-legged stool, right? Just as you can work on your muscle strength by going to the gym each day and lifting weights, if you consistently lift weights, you’re going to get stronger. I’ve created this core happiness model for people.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So I say, if you work on the three legs of this stool, regulate with simple things that don’t take long, that don’t cost any money, you are also going to become happier. So the three legs of this core happiness stool are alignment, contentment, and control.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Now, when to say alignment, I mean, when the person who you really are inside and the person who you are actually being out there in the world are one and the same that’s alignment. So it’s when you’re inner values and your external action start to match up.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Contentment is the second leg. What are those things that you can do day-to-day that give you that feeling of calm, and peace, and contentment, but the third leg is very, very important. It’s control. Now, control can often be another term that can be misinterpreted, right? I’m not talking about controlling external events because the last two years have shown us whatever we want to happen in the world, the world is going to do what the world is going to do, right? This is not about controlling external events. This is not about controlling what other people do. This is about a sense of control.

Rangan Chatterjee:

What are the things you can do in your life that give you a sense of control because the research shows, as people, we have a sense of control over their lives. They have more motivation. They have higher levels of success. They live longer. They’re healthier and they’re happier.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So this model, basically, it’s actually very simple. I’ve been talking about it for the last few months in the UK. People really, really like it because it’s very practical, and you can look at various things in your life and go, “Which leg of the stool are they working on?” If you’re strengthening that leg of the stool, you’re going to be strengthening your happiness, but it also helps people figure out why certain things, when they do them, they think they’re making them feel good, but ultimately, they’re actually weakening those legs, and therefore weakening their happiness.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So that’s the overarching model. I mean, we can get into some practical things if you want, but I thought at the start it’s probably worth explaining what exactly do I mean by happiness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It’s really around your thinking, right? How do you fix your thinking to create happiness because two people can have exactly the same experience and have very different responses to that experience. It reminds me of a quote from Viktor Frankl, who was a victim of a concentration camp and who was an Auschwitz, which you can imagine would be the most hopeless, horrible, possible scenario to be in. He wrote a book called Man’s Search For Meaning in which he said, “Between stimulus and response, there’s a choice, and in that choice lies our freedom.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

In other words, we can’t control our external circumstances. We can’t control the stimulus, but we can control our response, our way of thinking about it, feeling about it, interacting with it. His joked, “James Bond has a gun to his head.” It’s one experience for him. If Woody Allen has a gun to his head, it’s the same gun, very different internal experience and interpretation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So it’s often the interpretation and meaning we give to our lives that causes the discomfort and the unhappiness, and and that’s so important to understand that we literally have that power, but it’s really all of our conditioning and our fears and our beliefs and our traumas that create a set of filters for the world that inhibit us from actually having a direct experience of what is.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, no, for sure, Mark. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, that quote is there at the back of my studio. My daughter wrote it out for me when she was seven years old. It’s one of the most important quotes in my life because it’s an understanding that in every single situation in life, we have a choice in what story we put onto it, and it’s that story we put onto it that determines the effect it has on us. This is very important for our physical health, but just to finish off or just to follow up on that thread there with Viktor Frankl, one of the most powerful conversations, Mark, I’ve ever had in my life was on my podcast about two years ago with this wonderful lady called Dr. Edith Eger.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Now, when I spoke to her, she was 93 years old, right? When she was 16, she grew up in Eastern Europe, she got a knock on the door, and with no warning, her parents, her and her sister got put on a train to Auschwitz concentration camp, right? Within two hours of getting there, both of her parents were murdered, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Wow.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’ll tell you there’s a few things from that conversation that are imprinted into my soul. Number one, she said, Later that day after my parents were killed, I was asked to dance for the senior prison guards, and I never forgot, Dr. Chatterjee, the last thing that my mom said to me. My mother said to me, ‘Edie, nobody can ever take from you the contents that you put inside your mind.'” So she said to me, “When I was dancing, I was not dancing in Auschwitz. In my mind, I was dancing in Budapest opera house. I had a beautiful dress on, there was an orchestra playing, there was a full house. In my mind, that’s where I was dancing in.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

Mark, I thought, “Okay. That’s incredible.” Then she said in the following years whilst in Auschwitz, she started to see the prison guards as the prisoners. She said, “They weren’t living their life. In my mind, I was free.” I thought that was pretty incredible, Mark.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Then the final thing she said to me, which I think about pretty much every day, she said, “Rangan, I can tell you this. Listen, I have lived in Auschwitz, and I can tell you that the greatest prison you will ever live inside is the prison you create inside your own mind.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Absolutely.

Rangan Chatterjee:

This is what we do, Mark. Every day, your patients, my patients, ourselves potentially, we create this mental turmoil with the way we interpret things. One of the chapters in the book, it’s my favorite chapter is chapter five. It’s called Seek Out Friction. I would say, this is probably the thing that’s had the biggest impact on my happiness, but also my physical health over the past few years. It’s this understanding that in every situation I can choose a different response. So seek out friction means look for social friction in your life and use it as a teacher.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So if someone cuts you up in the road, instead of going, “Oh, I can’t believe they did that. They shouldn’t be driving. They should get their eyes checked,” what we don’t realize is that creates emotional tension in our body. That emotional stress is not neutral. It leads to what I call junk happiness habits, which maybe we can touch on later, but you don’t have to take that response.

Rangan Chatterjee:

You can actually, in the book, one of my tips is to say make that other person a hero. What story do you need to create in your mind to make that person a hero? Ah, maybe that person is running late for his job and he’s scared he’s going to lose it and he won’t be able to pay his mortgage. Maybe it’s a mother whose daughter was up last night with ear ache. You know what? What I’ve learned, Mark, is for your happiness, the truth of the situation actually doesn’t matter. What matters is the story you put on top of it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. I mean, that’s what Gabor Maté says, “Trauma isn’t what happens to you. It’s the meaning you make from what happens to you.” I think we have awful things that do happen to people and, certainly, they’ve happened to me, but it’s how you transmute those and how you think about them in the prisons of your own mind. You’re right. The greatest prisons we have are our own minds and they keep us from happiness.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. What I’d say, it’s a really, really practical thing that people can do. The first really super practical thing I’m going to talk about is every day if you can, but even once a week, look for some friction in your life, social friction, right? I call it working out on the social gym instead of the physical gym. Work out on the social gym.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Well, maybe there was an email from your boss that really bothered you and you were like, “I can’t believe my boss sent that to me. I’ve worked in this company for five years. They should know that I know how to do my job.” Understand that you are creating a disempowering narrative and that is creating tension and stress in your body that you will need a junk happiness habit like sugar or alcohol or too much time on social media or staying up late on box sets, whatever. You will need to neutralize that in some way.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Instead, practice rewriting that story. Think about what else can you say, “Oh, what might be going on in my boss’s life? Maybe my boss is under pressure. Maybe my boss has a sick child.” As I say, I said the truth for your happiness doesn’t matter. Mark, for some people, that’s quite a controversial statement.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah, for sure.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Let me make it really practical for people. Most people listening know the feeling of being in a relationship when there is a disagreement or an argument. If anyone listening or watching does not know that feeling, try and imagine what it might be like. I’m pretty sure all of us-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

If that’s you, I want to meet you and have a conversation.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. Exactly. So let’s think about it. Let’s say it’s a couple having a fight or a heated disagreement. Well, let’s think about this. What actually happened in that situation? Well, it depends, Mark, who you ask. If you ask one partner, they’ll give you one report of that situation. If you walk around the side of the table to the other partner and ask them, they may well give you a completely different report of the same situation, right? So one thing happened, two different realities.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So what does that teach us? It teaches us, well, hold on, there are multiple realities in any given situation. Psychologists did a study here in the UK, Mark, right? They took soccer fans from two different teams and they showed them the same incident from a game, and they asked both sets of fans, “What happened?” Now, remarkably, both different sets of fans reported seeing something completely different from the same incidents, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

So the point I’m trying to make is every situation has multiple realities. You can train yourself to choose a story that empowers you rather than enslaves you. I think if you can do this because I’ve been doing this for about five years now. I used to really struggle. My internal state used to really be affected by the actions of other people. If people treated me nicely and in a certain way, yeah, I felt great. If they didn’t, yeah, I wouldn’t feel so good. I’d create disempowering narratives. I’d probably go and use sugar to soothe how I felt a little bit, although I didn’t realize it at the time, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

I do this pretty much every day. It takes me a few minutes each day, sometimes in the evening, “When did I get triggered today? What new story can I rewrite there? How can I make that other person a hero?” I promise with time, it starts to become automatic. So these days, I find I relatively rarely do I get triggered, Mark, and if I do, it’s an opportunity for me to learn something about myself, “Why has it tapped on insecurity? Am I sleep deprived at the moment and working too hard and so I’m overly emotional?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

Mark, why are we talking about this kind of stuff on a health podcast? Right? Well, I’ll tell you why. Why did I write Happy Mind Happy Life? Because like you, and you’ve been a huge inspiration to me, like you, I’m always trying to think, “What is the root cause of why this patient is sitting here in front of me? What’s been going on in their life for the last few weeks, the last few months, the last few years, which means they’re sitting in front of me today with this problem?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

For many years, like you, I’ve been talking about lifestyle, Mark. You’ve been doing it for way longer than I have. I’ve said in the media on multiple occasions over the last six or seven years that 80 to 90% of what we see as doctors is in some way related to our collective modern lifestyles, and I stand by that, but for the last few years, there’s been this idea niggling away in the back of my mind, which is, “Is it lifestyle? Is that the upstream driver or could there be something that’s even more important?” because some people they’ll buy one of your books, Mark, or they’ll go on one of your plants and they’ll change their diet and their lifestyle for four weeks or eight weeks, and they’ll feel fantastic, but a few of them will end up after a few months back to where they were before, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Knowledge wasn’t the problem. They got the knowledge, they felt better, but they flip back, and I thought, “Okay. What’s going on there?” That’s one thing I was thinking about. The other thing I was thinking about is many of my patients were changing their lifestyle. They had some really good lifestyle habits, but they were allowing the actions of other people to overly affect how they felt, which would lead them to a lot of poor lifestyle choices.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So I decided to investigate, go into the research, and it’s very clear from the research that there is a factor that arguably is even more upstream from lifestyle, and that’s our happiness. People who are happy in their lives and with their lives are healthier. People who think about their lives in a certain way, who train themselves to think differently, they are healthier.

Rangan Chatterjee:

There’s a lot of studies which show this. So there’s one beautiful study. They looked at these nuns throughout the course of their career, sorry, their lifetimes, and what was amazing about these nuns was that, actually, they have the same lifestyle, right? So one reason why health is linked to happiness, Mark, is because people who are happier, more content with their life, naturally make better lifestyle choices. I think that’s quite obvious.

Rangan Chatterjee:

People who feel pretty good, actually, they have less needs to have a bottle of wine every eating. They have less need to dive into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s in the evening if they’re content because a lot of the time, we use that to soothe stress, but this nun study shows a second reason, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Over the course of their lives, these nuns have the same lifestyle, but the researchers could see that early on in their life when they track them, the happier nuns lived significantly longer and they were significantly healthier. Lifestyle is the same, but those were the positive emotions actually were happening.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Then more recently, we see in laboratories where psychologists take, sorry, researchers take people in and they inject them with rhinovirus up their nostril, which as you know, Mark, is the virus that causes the common cold. They could determine with statistical significance who would get sick depending on their mood state. So the not so positive mood category, that’s me trying to be kind and how I talk about this, right? They got sick three times as often as the other group, right? So everywhere we look in the research.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So for me, it was like, “Okay. Rangan, well, how can I make this practical and relevant to my patients? Because I think this happiness piece, I think the way that we think our thoughts, I think this is a missing piece in health that not enough people are talking about.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

For sure. I mean, so much comes up when you’re talking. I mean, a number of things that struck me, reminded me of a book that was a huge influence on me when I was in college 40 years ago called Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer by Ken Pelletier, who’s still out there doing this work, believe it or not.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Just recounting the science and the stories back then, and then there’s, of course, Bernie Siegel and Love, Medicine, and Miracles, where he talked about the power of love and connection and our thinking to actually cure cancer. He was an oncologic surgeon and saw case after case where this was true. Then there are incredible amounts of data from the NIH and others on the whole field of psycho neuro immunology, which Candace Pert put forth in her book, Molecules of Emotion.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So literally, our body, every cell, our immune system, our microbiome, our gut are listening to our thoughts. They’re eavesdropping on our thoughts, and those thoughts are transmuted into biochemical signals, into changes in gene expression, into changes in inflammation and changes in hormones that have real biological impact on our bodies. It is both daunting to think about that because it means we actually have to regulate our minds, which is not something we learn how to do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, we thought, “Exercise, eat right, sleep, okay, I can do all that,” but training the brain, training the mind, mastering the mind, that’s something that I find very difficult for most people. That’s what the Buddha was teaching. How do we disconnect from the ordinary stories, our ordinary mind, which creates distinction, separation, division, disconnection that’s driven by our ego and how do we enter into a state of connection and harmony with our experience?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

You mentioned a couple things about triggers, and I think that’s a beautiful frame. If you have a trigger, if something comes up where you feel in your body, in your gut, in your stomach, in your heart, if you feel some physiologic change in you, in your state, in response to something external, that’s a gift. That means something is going on. That gives you an opportunity to look at what that is.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Now, it could be something objectionable or real that you need to be dealing with like somebody’s got a gun to your head or it could be just an imagined threat that’s not actually real, that you’re making up and interpreting that on the world. We have tremendous power to control that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Another story that I think I just want to relay, which was when I was a medical student, I went to Nepal and I went and spent a bunch of time with Tibetan doctors, who’d escaped from Tibet and from the Chinese gulags. One of them was a Tibetan doctor and I sat with him all day and he was just the happiest, sweetest guy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I’m like, “Tell me. What was it like? You spent 22 years in a Chinese gulag in a prison in China where they stripped away everything that was familiar to you. You couldn’t practice your tradition, nothing.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

He says, “What was the most difficult part of that?” He says, “Well, it was the days I thought I might lose compassion for my Chinese jailers.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I was like, “Oh, wow! That’s a lot.” So it really is not an easy task for us as humans because we don’t have the rituals, the rights, the constructs, the ways of thinking about how to do this. We’ve had guests on the podcast like Byron Katie, who talks about really being able to look at your thoughts differently, to ask if they’re true, to navigate to different interpretations of the meaning we put on things, and unless we train our brain, unless we master our minds, unless we take hold of them, they basically run the show, and we don’t want our little self running the show, except if we’re in danger, which is not true for most of us most of the time.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, yeah, really powerful, Mark. Again, you mentioned Dr. Gabor Maté before. In his last book, he detailed a lot of the research showing that people who struggle to forgive, people who are chronically angry, people who hold onto resentment and can’t let go, he had a lot of research showing a very strong association with the developments of all kinds of chronic illness like autoimmune disease, all kinds of other chronic disease, which, again, I’m not putting blame on people. I know we got to be very sensitive when talking about this topic, but I think the research is very compelling that our emotions, our thoughts … I had a patient once, Mark, that I wrote about a couple of books ago, who I was struggling with her to get her blood pressure down.

Rangan Chatterjee:

She had high blood pressure. We were making all kinds of lifestyle changes, all sorts of things. She was making a good go at things, but I couldn’t get it down. I would notice the way she would talk regularly. I started to dive a bit deeper, and it was very clear to me that she was struggling to let go. She could not forgive her ex-husband for cheating on her. Now, look, first of all, I understand that. I have compassion for that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

For sure, for sure.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Right? She found it very hard, but this was years afterwards. She was still really, really angry and frustrated. I explained to her that, “I don’t think this is helping you. This is not really helping you with your blood pressure. Don’t forgive for your ex-husband. Forgive for yourself.” I went through some exercises with her, and I’m not kidding you, Mark, within a few months of doing this forgiveness exercises, her blood pressure started to come down and normalized. I didn’t make any more lifestyle changes with her.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Again, the point, this is why I wrote the book is because I feel this is a missing piece in health, Mark, that a lot of people are simply not talking about enough, our emotions, our thoughts, holding onto anger. You mentioned compassion there, right? It was a very powerful story you mentioned. I mentioned before one of the most practical and powerful things I do is I look for social friction each day and I use it as a teacher. I mentioned one thing people can try and do is make that person a hero.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Now, for some people they go, “No, I can’t do that on every case.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’m like, “Okay. Fine.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

The other phrase that I often use, which I’ve used on myself is a phrase that I’ve discussed on my podcast many times, which is if I was that other person, I’d be behaving in exactly the same way as them. If you really understand that phrase and really sit with it, it basically means if I was that other person with their childhood, with the bullying they had when they were kids, with their parents, with the toxic first boss that they had when they were 17, if I were them, I’d probably be acting in exactly the same way as them.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Again, my podcast has taught me so much. I spoke to a guy called John McAvoy, right? This is just incredible story, Mark, but John McAvoy, 10 years ago to this day, he was locked up in the maximum security prison in Europe, in Belmar. He was locked up with the 7/7 bombers. He was on Britain’s most wanted criminals. He’s one of the most incredible people I’ve met because when he was in jail, something happened.

Rangan Chatterjee:

He was there. He thought it was him against the system. He committed crimes. He committed armed robbery. One night, he saw on the television his best friends got killed in a car chase in Holland. Literally overnight, he decided to change his story on his life. He realized that everything in his mind was just a lie. He’s created this fictional narrative that’s resulted in him being in prison. He changed the narrative, and within a few years through the Paris sport and exercise, he was a free man. He’s now a free man, inspiring people all over the world to get active.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Now, what’s really interesting for that story, the first time he came on my show, I spoke to him for about two hours and 40 minutes. It was the most compelling story I’ve ever heard. When he was a kid, his dad died before he was born. All the male role models in his life were criminals. They were armed robbers. That’s all he saw. They all drove nice cars, wore nice shoes. They all treated women with respect. That was his model of the world.

Rangan Chatterjee:

The truth is, at the end of that conversation, when John left the house, I remember saying to my wife, Mark, I said, “Hey, babe. If I was John, if I had his upbringing, I’m certain I’d be locked up in jail right now.” I was that convinced. Why this phrase is so powerful? Because it helps you lead with compassion. When you’re struggling with the actions of someone else, and I use this whenever I do struggle, I go, “Rangan, if you were that person, you’d be acting in exactly the same way.” It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean you have to put up with behavior that’s not acceptable, but you take the emotional sting out of it, which number one, has impacts for your physical health and all your lifestyle choices or behaviors later that day.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Number two, it also helps you make better decisions because a lot of people don’t realize you can think of your brain, and this is an over simplistic explanation of the brain, but you can think of it in two parts, the logical rational part of the brain at the front and the emotional part of the brain in the middle towards the back, and both of these parts of the brain are always vying for top spot to make good decisions. You want your rational brain online in your prefrontal cortex, but if you get really triggered and feeling really stressed and emotional, “I can’t believe they acted like that or are treating me like this,” you basically take your prefrontal cortex offline and your emotions start to rule the rules. So this is so powerful. Yes. You’ll feel better. You’ll make better decisions, but it’s also going to help you with your physical health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing. I mean, someone said to me that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, but it’s not. Mark, can I say on that, right? Because a lot of people they’ll hear that and go, “Yeah. Okay. That’s fine, but I’ve got this situation in my life where it’s really tricky.” I get it. Some situations are hard, but the key message in this book with all the practical tips is that these are trainable skills. Happiness is a trainable skill, right? It’s not something that just happens.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. Tell us about that. How do you train for happiness? We do know how to train for a marathon. We know how to train for losing weight. We know how to train for a tennis match. How do you train for happiness?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. This is why I created this core happiness model, which underpins the entire book. Every single practical intervention comes back to that. Are you working on one of these three legs, alignment, contentment or control? So let’s take alignment, for example, right? So alignment, how do we work on our alignment? Well, there’s many practical exercises we can do, but a really simple one that I like, which I hope your audience find useful is, in fact, Mark, I can try it on you now if you’re up for giving it a go. Basically, the exercise comes in two parts, right? Part number one is, in fact, can I put this question to you to answer, Mark, because I think that’d be really useful?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yes. Sure.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Okay. What are three things that you could do this week that if you did them consistently week after week would make you truly happy?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, I do a lot of them, actually.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. So it can be things that you do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

One of the things that’s really important to me is I have a group of men friends that we’ve been friends for 30, 40 years, most of us, and we meet every week for two hours on Zoom. It’s such a nourishing deeply connected time for talking, getting known, being seen, laughing, helping each other through challenging moments, celebrating each other when it’s time to be celebrated, and that contributes so much to my happiness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I think the other thing that I think really contributes to my happiness is similar. It’s really staying connected and involved with my community of friends. The third is being in service. When I’m outside of myself, doing things that are not for me, but helping others, I generally feel way happier.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. So thank you for sharing that. So that’s the first part of the excise. You define three what I call happiness habits. The second part of the exercise is now it’s called write your happy ending. So now imagine, Mark, you’re on your death bed, right? You’re lying there and you’re looking back on your life. What are three things you will want to have done with your life

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That I haven’t done or that I-

Rangan Chatterjee:

Three things that you hope. When you’re there, you’re looking back going, “Yeah. I’ve done these three things. My life is-”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I’ve done those three things. Love more, laugh more, dance more.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Okay. So I love that. Now, then the next part is you bring those two things together. It’s like if you do those three happiness habits weekly, will you get the happiness ending that you want? You said love more, right? That’s relationships, right? It’s having more connected relationships. The first two happiness habits for you were all around relationships, which is really, really powerful.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’m sure on your deathbed you’ll once have made a contribution to the world of which, of course, you have done in spades, but again, that’s on your happiness habits. Why this is a powerful exercise, Mark, anyone listening or watching this right now can do that in their own life. I’d really encourage them to either pause or do it afterwards. Just write it down. Write it down because here’s the thing. A lot of people say on their deathbeds, well, we know what people are going to say on their death bed, Mark, because palliative care nurses tell us all the time, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Bronnie Ware told us in her book, Five Regrets of the Dying, what do people consistently say? “I wish I had worked less. I wish I had spent more time with my friends and family. I wish I had allowed myself to be happy,” and then the one which gets me every time, Mark, is this one, “I wish I had lived my life and not the life that other people expected of me,” right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

It’s such a powerful exercise because we know what we’re going to say, and then if a lot of people go, “Yeah. I’m on my death bed. I want to have spent really quality time with my friends and family,” and then they look at their day to day, week to week life and go, “Wait a minute. I’m so busy. I’m so busy trying to acquire more things, get a promotion, get more money, do more stuff that I have no time for those friends and family.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

Again, this is not an exercise about beating yourself up. It’s about bringing intention to your life and going … The truth is, Mark, this was me a few years ago. I was neglecting my friends. I was so busy with work. I wasn’t seeing my friends as much. I probably wasn’t seeing my wife and kids as much as I wanted to. I made changes because I realized, “Wait a minute. You’re going to get to your deathbed and you are going to have the things that truly bring you happy.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

So again, you said, “What are some of these practical ways that we can start to work and train happiness? Well, for that alignment leg, I’d ask people to do that one exercise and just write it down. For me, Mark, it’s very simple. On my death bed, I’ve done this quite a few times now, I want to, again, have spent quality time with my friends and family. I want to have had time to engage in my passions, and three, I want to have contributed to improving the lives of other people.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So for me on a weekly basis, if I record an episode of my podcast, I know I’m helping improve the wellbeing of others. If I have time to play my guitar or go for a run, I know I’m having time for my passions, and I’ve got it written down on my fridge, Mark, five undistracted meals with my wife and kids each week.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Amazing.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’ve actually specified it. So I know if I do that week after week, and I’m not perfect, some weeks I’m traveling, I don’t get to do it, but then I’ll reset the week after, I know I’m going to get that happy ending that I want. So when I say happiness is a trainable skill, that’s us dealing with the alignment leg off the stool.

Rangan Chatterjee:

We mentioned seeking out friction before, how you can turn triggers into learning opportunities. Well, that hits contentment and control, right? If you are really triggered by the actions of someone else, you don’t feel content and you feel out of control, if you learn using the tools that we’ve already mentioned, if you learn to reframe that, I’ve mentioned all the benefits for your physical health, how you feel, the choices you’re going to make, you are also going to be working. You’re going to feel more content and you are going to feel more in control. So you’re directly working on these legs of the stool, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

What about that third leg, control, right? What gives you a sense of control? Mark, this is something that people struggle with at the moment because they say … The book came out in the UK a couple of months ago and on my first event, live speaking event about it, this lady asked me in the Q&A afterwards. She said, “How can I even think about feeling happy and content at the moment when there’s all this heartache going on in the world and I watch the news?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

This is something that a lot of people think, but, actually, I think there’s a misunderstanding here. You can still work on your happiness. You can still care about the lives of other people, but not overly allow it to affect your inner wellbeing. It’s a trainable skill. So this is where control comes in. What kind of things can you do that give you a sense of control?

Rangan Chatterjee:

So for me, Mark, we’ve spoken about this when I’ve been on your show before. I have a morning routine every day, right? As I get older, it becomes even more and more important to me, right? I create a life. I create a situation around my life where I can actually do 30, 40 minutes now in the morning because it’s become that important to me. I know not everyone can. So even five minutes will make a difference, but if I go through my morning routine and it’s breath-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

What is it?

Rangan Chatterjee:

It’s breath work, it’s movement, and then it’s mindset, so reading something positive and spiritually uplifting. It’s these three Ms that I’ve mentioned before, mindfulness, movement, and mindset. For mindfulness, I do some breath work for five minutes. Movement, while my coffee brews, I do a five-minute body weight workout, and then the really important part is mindset. Of course, we’ve been talking about that a lot throughout this conversation. I sit there, I’ve got four or five books kicking around like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning or Edith Eger’s The Gift, and I sit and read them. I’ll read a chapter and it just sets me up. What it does? It gives me a sense of control.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So even if I have a hundred emails to answer, even if I’ve got a crazy workday, even if there’s really toxic stuff on the news, I know that I’ve done something that gives me a sense of control because what’s the alternative, Mark? The alternative is to go, “I cannot be happy unless the world around me is a certain way and people around me acting …” That’s a very disempowering place to be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s dangerous.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’ve lived in that place for much of my life, Mark. That’s the truth, and why I’m so passionate about this, this all started for me when my dad died just over nine years ago. I helped to care for dad for years. He had lupus. He was on dialysis for 15 years. When my dad died, it forced me to ask myself all these existential questions, “Who am I? What kind of life am I leading? Am I living my own life or someone else’s life?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

As part of that journey, Mark, I realized, actually, that I can take control of my thoughts. I don’t have to wait for other people around me to behave in a certain way in order for me to be happy. I actually genuinely can care deeply for other people, but I can have some. My mom’s very elderly now. She’s very immobile. I help care for her with my brother.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Here’s the thing, Mark. 10 years ago, if mom was having a bad day and feeling really bad and she was struggling, I would let that affect me. I’d have a crap day as well, right? I’d feel really bad. It would affect my relationship with my wife, my kids. I have trained this and deal with this skill where if mom’s having a bad day, I can be compassionate. I can help her, but it doesn’t ruin my day. I can still maintain my inner sense of calm, and all the tips in the book.

Rangan Chatterjee:

There’s so many practical tips, all free of charge. They’re going to help people do the same thing. That’s why I’m so passionate about it because I used to be that guy who needed the world around me to be a certain way and now I don’t. I honestly have never felt this good, mate. Honestly, I never felt this way.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, it’s so great. It’s so great. I mean, so many of us, without even being aware of it, are at the effect of our lives instead of the cause of our lives, and it’s just automatic. It’s how we’re programmed. In a way, we do have the power to change that. It’s not easy. We need to change it. I often say to my friends, if you were to say to your friends what you say to yourself in your head, you wouldn’t have any friends. If you don’t say to your partner, your wife, what you think to yourself about yourself in your head, you wouldn’t be with a partner.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

So really, the question is, how do we deal with that inner (beep) and how do we get rid of that inner (beep)? Now, I’ve struggled a long time to deal with that, and I worked really hard at it, and I think I’ve mostly overcome or at least put that little guy in a corner against the wall with a time out because it rules our lives. So it’s one of those habits that we’re often unaware of.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I did an exercise about a year ago that really helped me, which was to literally write down what I call my inner (beep) dialogue every day, my lower self. What was I saying to myself? What was I thinking about my life? Where was I undermining my own success and happiness? Where was I having a pity party? Where was I feeling hopeless? Where were the moments in my head that were taking me out of being happy and fulfilled? Then how would I talk back to those and fix it so that I actually was speaking to those parts from my higher self. That was a very powerful, insightful thing because it’s embarrassing to write it down. It’s like-

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, but writing it down brings it out of the darkness into the light, right? So how can people do this? Well, that’s the first step. The first step is awareness. You have to be aware that you’re doing this. I think right at the start of this, this section where we’re talking about our inner voice, again, there’s chapter three of the book, it’s called Treat Yourself with Respect. It’s all about the inner voice, what it does and how you can change it. A lot of people don’t realize, Mark, when they call themselves a loser or when they beat themselves up in their minds, that has a real physiological impact on the body, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Totally.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So Professor Kristin Neff, who I spoke to, I think maybe you spoke to her on your show as well. I spoke to her a couple years ago. She’s one of the world’s leading experts in this area. She’s been researching self-compassion for maybe 20 years now. She shared with me on my podcast. She said, “Rangan, when you talk negatively to yourself in your head, you literally activate your body’s stress response. You raise levels of the hormone cortisol.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I was like, “That’s incredible.” We think it’s neutral. We think we can eat well, move our bodies, sleep nicely and still talk to ourselves negatively in our heads without an impact, and we can’t, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

So it creates tension and stress, and if we bring it back to the core happiness stool for a moment, what do you do? You actually weaken all three legs of the core happiness stool when you talk down to yourself. You don’t feel in control. In fact, you feel out of control. You don’t feel content, and you’re certainly not acting in alignment with who you are because no one really wants to be the kind of person who calls himself an idiot or a loser, right? So it has really toxic effects.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So step one is awareness. Then there’s all kinds of exercises people can do to try and help them with this, right? Somebody will find this really hard. So if I was to say to the listeners, Mark, to write down now five things that they like about themselves, a lot of people will really struggle with that. They’ll move away.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Wow.

Rangan Chatterjee:

They’ll find it really uncomfortable. If you’re moving away from that, that is a very good sign that this is something that you will get a lot of benefit from working on. So there are all kinds of exercise where you could write yourself a letter. How would your friend write you a letter? What are the qualities they would say you have?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Let me tell you about this patient, Mark, just because she just came to mind, right? I think I wrote about her in the book, this 48-year-old lady I saw a few years ago. She came in to see me. She’d been to lots of other doctors prior to coming to see me. She had abdominal pain, bloating, and bilateral upper arm pain. She was really, really struggling. She’d read loads of blogs online. She had really changed her lifestyle. She was eating well. She was moving regularly.

Rangan Chatterjee:

She came to see me and I noticed the way she would talk to herself. I noticed herself talk and I thought, “Wow, what’s going on here?” As I got to know her and I was asking her questions, it became very clear that she ended up, she said to me, “Dr. Chatterjee, I always end up in relationships with older men. They’re usually married and they always treat me really badly.” This is a pattern in her life, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

I was thinking, “Okay. All of these symptoms, she’s changed her lifestyle, she’s not getting better, What’s going on here? What are we missing?” Yes, I did other tests, but the crux of this story is I thought her inner voice and the way she was talking to herself was one of the problems here.

Rangan Chatterjee:

As I started to get to know her better, it was very clear, right? She basically said to me in one consultation, when she was a kid, she perceived her older sister to have got more attention than her, and that was it. She basically had learnt to take less attention. She didn’t feel she was worthy of proper attention and people treating her well because of her childhood conditioning. I was saying, “That conditioning may well have served you as a child to get you through, but it’s no longer serving you. I’m sure this is contributing to the way you’re talking to yourself, the way you feel about yourself, and the fact that you’re ending up in these kind of toxic relationships.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I recommended she see a therapist. She didn’t want to, right? She didn’t want to. She didn’t have a trust, whatever reason. So I went through some of these self-compassion exercises with her. Mark, honestly, within months, she was starting to feel better. Six months later, six months later, she ended up getting into a relationship with a guy of her age who treated her really well, and three months after that, all her symptoms had gone, right? Completely gone, and they’ve not come back since.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Again, this is a missing link in how our emotions, the way we talk to ourself, it’s another pillar that people need to work on. So self-compassion, there’s many ways you can do it. I mentioned a couple. There’s also something called the mirror exercise that I write about in the book, which is, can you look in the mirror and stare at yourself with a compassionate gaze? Now, many people can’t, Mark, right? You look and you’ll want to look away. You can’t look at yourself lovingly, tenderly like you might do your partner or your child.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Again, you can train yourself to do this. There’s lots of guidance in the book that are going to help people do this, but again, you and me both, Mark, are interested in holistic health. What are all the various factors that play into the health and happiness of the person in front of us, and that inner voice is absolutely key.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. It’s so important. I think that’s a hard thing to master, but it can be done.

Rangan Chatterjee:

It can be done.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I remember when I was 50 I couldn’t do 10 pushups. Now, I can do almost a hundred without stopping, and I’m more than 10 years older. So we can change.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. Sorry, Mark. I was going to say, we can change. Another motivator might be for people, as it was for me, if you don’t change this, not only will it affect you, what do you think your children are going to pick up, right? This is so common. We have this negs, “Oh, you’re such a loser. I can’t believe you did that. Oh, man. You should know better. If your kids are watching you do that over and over again, what do you think they’re going to pick up?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’ll tell you, Mark, a really beautiful thing happened maybe about a year ago now. When I talk about all these concepts of the book, I talk about with my kids. My son’s 12 at the moment, my daughter’s nine. I say they help me write these books because as I’m writing them, I talk about them over breakfast with them and they go, “Oh, daddy, have you thought about this?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’m like, “Actually, guys, no, I haven’t. That’s a really good suggestion.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

We talk about this inner voice about always being kind to ourselves, always talking to ourselves as well as we would our friend or our partner or whatever. I’m pretty good with it now. I really wasn’t. I share a lot of my own life in the book. It’s the most personal book I’ve written. I talk about what I would honestly say to myself if I was ever losing a game of pool at university. I would be vicious to myself. I’d go to the toilet. I’d slap myself on the face to come out and motivate myself to win.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Oh, boy.

Rangan Chatterjee:

It was pretty toxic, and I outlined in the book where it all had came from from me, but I’ve got over that. I’ve done these exercises. I’ve moved through where usually I’m pretty good, but about a year ago, I was playing snooker with my son, and I was pretty tired and I missed a shot, and I didn’t do what I used to do, Mark, but I said something like … I can’t remember what. It was something very relatively trivial like, “Oh, that was a silly shot. Oh, you could have done better with that,” something trivial. My son, he was only I think 11 or 10 at the time, he said, “Daddy, don’t torture yourself like that. That’s not really kind, is it?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I got to say, Mark, I was really pleased because I thought, number one, he’s helping me catch myself to go, “Yeah, that’s a good point. Thank you,” and then the second thing was I said, “Hopefully, I’m teaching my kids at a young age.” Actually, the way you talk to yourself matters. So I really relish that.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Again, I think that’s an important piece because sometimes we don’t want to change for ourselves or we haven’t got the motivation, too. I’m like, “If you don’t want to change for yourself, maybe change for your kids because, actually, if you’ve got a negative inner voice and they hear you say that out loud a lot of the time, guess what they’re going to pick up?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah, it’s so true. I mean, we model for our kids, but it reminded me of a quote from Ram Dass who said, “We should practice non-judgmental,” and that’s the key, loving, also key, self-awareness. So non-judgmental, loving, self-awareness, which means we’re all going to have moments where our minds do things that we don’t want them to do, but we actually have the potential to just take a pause and step outside of ourself and actually use our higher self to navigate that time and space. It’s not easy, but it is. It’s one of the least talked about things when it comes to health, which is how do we master our minds.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I’ve spent decades working on it. It’s not easy. Trust me. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways that are now emerging for people to actually start to access that. I’ve written a lot about how do we fix our brain so we can start to have a healthy mind, but once you, for example, let’s say you’re sick and you have some horrible illness, you get rid of the illness, then you need to get your best self back in shape. You know know what I mean?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

When I was sick five years ago or six years ago with mold and I lost 30 pounds and I had an autoimmune disease and colitis and I was basically a skeleton with no muscles and weak and couldn’t do anything, once I got rid of the problems, I had to literally work to build myself back up. I think this is what we need to think about with our minds. We also need to think about how do we train our minds in a way that creates happiness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

This is what your book, Happy Mind Happy Life: The Science of Mental Wellbeing, does so well. It really provides us with very practical, very specific strategies, tools, insights to actually help us get a little bit happier.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. I mean, thanks, Mark. I mean, I’ve got to say I’ve not written as many books as you yet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Yeah. Yeah. You’re younger. You got 20 years.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah, I’m younger.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I got 20 years on you, I think.

Rangan Chatterjee:

This is the fifth one I’ve written, and I’ve got to say for me, it’s without question the best book I’ve written to date and I’m proud of my previous four, for sure. They’re still helping lots of people around the world, but this one I really feel is, for me, certainly, a bit special. I’ve opened up in a way, Mark, I’ve never opened up before. I’ve shared insecurities about my life, things that I’ve struggled with, things in my childhood that happened that made me think a certain way and think that I needed to be successful to be loved.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I honestly took on the idea as a kid, Mark, that I was only loved if I was top of the class or I got good grades, honestly. I didn’t blame my parents. My parents were amazing. They had a lot of struggle. They were immigrants from India to the UK. They had a lot of struggle, and they didn’t want me and my brother to have the same struggle. So they wanted me to excel at school. So if I came back home with 19 out of 20, they were like, “Why didn’t you get 20?” If I got 99%, it’s like, “Well, why didn’t you get 100%? What did you get wrong?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

Now, they did it because they wanted the best for me. The problem is when I was a kid, Mark, I took on the idea that, actually, I’m only enough, I’m only loved if I’ve got top marks and I’m top dog. I could tell you I’ve lived much of my life like that. It’s a very lonely place to be. You have all kinds of compensatory behaviors and habits on the back of that.

Rangan Chatterjee:

As I’ve healed that part within me, as I now know that I am enough in who I am, I like the person I see in the mirror now in a way that I probably didn’t for much of my life. That’s why it’s really interesting, Mark, where I’m talking to you, what, two months after this book has come out in the UK, right? I’ll tell you a couple of things on that, and I’d love to see your perspective on this.

Rangan Chatterjee:

When you did that happiness exercise before about the three things that you could do this week that would make you happy and the three things you want on your deathbeds, nothing there was writing New York Times bestsellers, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

No, definitely not.

Rangan Chatterjee:

No, but even though you’ve written, what, 10 plus or however many. I’m sure your next-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

14 now. 15 coming soon.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. Incredible. So I think that’s really, really interesting because a lot of people will look to someone like you or me and go, “Oh, you’re really successful. I want what you’ve got,” but actually, we all want the same things at their core. This is the first book, Mark, right? It was really interesting. One of my friends phoned me the week before it came out and said, “Hey, look, you must be really excited. I hope it’s going to do really well.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I said, “You know what? Honestly, I really feel I’m at that stage of my life now because of all the tools in the book that I’ve been practicing for a few years,” I said, “Look, I know this is a great book.” I said that with no arrogance, “I know this book will help anyone who reads it, but whether this book does well or not is no reflection of who I am.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s great.

Rangan Chatterjee:

“If no one buys the book, if it doesn’t sell any copies and it tanks, I’m still a great person. I’m still the great husband. I’m still the great dad. It has no effect on my self-worth.” I genuinely, Mark, felt I’d got to that place. The irony is, the irony, Mark, and this is, I guess, spiritual and how you want to look at it, the irony is this book has been the most successful out of any of the books that I’ve written. They’ve all done well. This one is just blowing up in the UK.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I also remember when I got the call from my publisher the week after the book came out and my publisher sent me a text and said, “Hey, can you give us a call?” I was like, “This is weird. I never get a text like this.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I phoned her. She said, “Rangan, I just want to share with you we just found out you’re going to be number one on the Sunday Times paperback list this weekend. A huge congratulations.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I got to tell you, Mark, the Rangan of five years ago would have jumped through the roof, right? I didn’t. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I’ve been there. I know exactly what were talking about.

Rangan Chatterjee:

It was quiet contentment. It was like, “Okay. Great. Thanks for letting me know.” My daughter still needed her sports kit washing for the next day. My wife was out. I still need to get the kids their dinner. Genuinely, I think I needed to get to this point because so much of my self-worth in the past has been around external validation. It felt really good. In that moment of high level of success, I didn’t feel much.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I don’t want people to misinterpret that saying I’m not proud or I didn’t feel content, yeah, I did, but it didn’t artificially elevate my ego in a way that it might have done 10, 15 years ago, but when you get to this point, you feel more content and the praise doesn’t go to your head, but the criticism doesn’t bring you down either. You’re just a lot more equal. I just thought very, hopefully, useful for that to share for people because it is possible to get on the other side of this stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

That’s a beautiful story. One of the things I think is important to talk about, people might be thinking about is, “Well, that all sounds good, positive mindset, but isn’t that a little bit not honest and integrity? I mean, that stuff does happen.” You talk in the book about this concept of toxic positivity and how we really often don’t allow for the deeper things that are part of life, which is grief and loss. How do we integrate all those things into this model of happiness?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. I think it’s a great question. Again, this comes down to that alignment leg of the core happiness stool, that first leg, right? So this approach is not about being positive all the time. It really isn’t. In fact, you can be sad and still be working on your core happiness, right? Let me explain.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So let’s say, you mentioned grief, let’s say someone close to you has died recently or maybe longer, maybe not so recently, and you’re really struggling with that. If you put on a brave face and don’t acknowledge to yourself how you’re really feeling and say, “Yeah, I’m fine. Life goes on. I’ve moved on. Things are okay,” what if you say that and try and convince yourself, I think that can be problematic because, actually, you are not living in alignment, right?

Rangan Chatterjee:

The person who you are inside at that moment is you feel sad, you miss someone, but you’re trying to act in a way that’s not in accordance with that. Whereas if you are lucky enough to have someone like a friend, a close friend or a community or a colleague who you can really open up to and say, “Hey, look, I know it was 10 months ago, but I’m really struggling. I just want to open a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows. I really miss that person. I want to cry. I see people around me getting over things and moving on, but I can’t do that yet.”

Rangan Chatterjee:

If you are truly honest with how you’re feeling and you have a safe place to actually share that, you are working on that alignment leg of the core happiness stool. You are actually strengthening your happiness. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, you’re certainly strengthening your core happiness because you are living in alignment, right? So that’s one way that people can think about this. There’s also a chapter in the book, chapter eight called Have Maskless Conversations.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Have what?

Rangan Chatterjee:

Have Maskless Conversations.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Maskless.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So these are conversation where you can literally take off these figurative masks and actually be yourself. You’re not trying to impress anyone, but you can actually share how you feel without fear of judgment or criticism. Typically, this is done with our close friends or maybe our family or maybe it’s going to be different for everyone, but those conversations are so powerful, Mark. They’re so, so powerful because when we truly open up, we get to know ourselves better.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Often, we’re so good at disguising who we are to the world around us. We end up disguising ourselves to ourself, so having maskless conversations, having time regularly where you can open up. You mentioned, Mark, before what do you do once a week, two hours with these men friends, these male friends of yours. I imagine, and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, I imagine these are maskless conversations. I imagine you guys share stuff-

Dr. Mark Hyman:

For sure, for sure.

Rangan Chatterjee:

… that you may not share with your patients or you may not share on Instagram, but you share it with these guys, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

For sure, for sure.

Rangan Chatterjee:

What does that do for you?

Dr. Mark Hyman:

It just makes me feel so deeply seen, known, and at peace, and understood, which is all we really humans want is to have somebody know us and see us and understand us for who really are and not judge us and just love us for it.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. Again, as you are doing that, you’ll be working on all three of those legs of the core happiness stool. You’ll be feeling more aligned afterwards because you’ll know yourself better afterwards. So it’s easier to act in accordance with who you really are through those conversations. You’ll feel more content afterwards because often, when we hide parts of ourselves because we’re scared, we’re ashamed of what people might think, we don’t feel content, we don’t feel in control.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Mark, it’s interesting. Vulnerability, opening up, being able to share, the truth is I couldn’t five years ago have written this book. I couldn’t have shared those insecurities. I would’ve been scared of judgment. I was scared, “What will people think? What will they say about me? I’m a medical doctor. I can’t say that,” but as I’ve gone through this process, I’ve gone, “No, we’re all imperfect humans doing the best we can. We’ve all got insecurities. We’ve all got these things inside us,” and I think it’s powerful when we open up.

Rangan Chatterjee:

It’s interesting, Mark. You’ve met my wife several times, right? She’s very helpful with my book. She never reads them until the very final stages. She won’t. Even if I’m begging her to, I said, “Please, can you read this chapter and see if it makes sense?” She’ll be like, “No, I’m going to read it at the end,” and she always reads it at the end and she gives really, really good feedback, and it makes a few final changes before it goes off to print.

Rangan Chatterjee:

This time, Mark, when she was getting it, this was August, I think, she called me and said, “Hey, Rangan, listen. Are you sure you want some of this in the book?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I’m like, “What do you mean?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

She goes, “Look, some of this is really personal about your life and things you’ve struggled with. Are you sure?”

Rangan Chatterjee:

I said, “Yeah. You know what? I feel ready. I’m happy. I’ve got nothing to hide. Actually, I feel lighter sharing this stuff and sit.” The book’s been out for two months in the UK and people are resonating so much, Mark, because everyone at their core with a saying, “We’ve got insecurities, we’ve got personal perceived failings and things we struggle about,” and particularly now with social media, we see perfectionist presentation. We think everyone’s got what we don’t.

Rangan Chatterjee:

I think when people in the public eye share, I think, it’s very powerful because people go, “Oh, wow. I thought that guy was really successful, but he struggles with the same stuff that I struggle with. Oh, my God.” So there’s a lot there. I genuinely, Mark, feel that this book will help anyone who reads it. I’m so proud of it. I’ve worked really hard to make all the tips really practical, super, super practical so people can just start straight away and it’s going to make a difference in their lives.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I mean, it really is. It’s such a beautiful book. I mean, for those of you watching online, you can see this. It’s just full of practical information, colors, really well laid out, easy to use, really remarkable. I’m jealous because it’s such a beautiful book. I’m so happy that you wrote it because I think so many of us struggle, particularly now with mental health issues, with struggling to feel happy, find our way, find meaning, find community, find purpose, and these little simple practices actually do work.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

There are things that we’ve been guided to over thousands of years of human growth and development with little practices that help us just make our lives a little bit better every day, and you’ve managed to synthesize them into really practical, simple tools for people and how to just get to understand that their minds are really critical for you to be happy because it didn’t say Happy Life Happy Mind. It says Happy Mind Happy Life because if I have a happy life, then I’ll have a happy mind. No, no, no. It’s not what is on the outside that determines your happiness. It’s what occurs on the inside and that you always have control over just like we started talking about with that 93-year-old Auschwitz survivor or Viktor Frankl who also was able to choose his happiness independent of his external circumstances.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Now, it’s a big task for many people to think about, but it is the beginning. I think if we understand the link between our minds and our mindset and our health and wellbeing, it’s massive, whether it’s auto immunity, whether it’s aging itself, heart disease, cancer.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I was just sitting with a friend of mine the other night, and I think Gabor Maté in his book talked about this remarkable science about breast cancer, for example, that women who have trouble expressing anger tend to be the ones who get breast cancer, and they were able to, in hospital, identify the women’s whose biopsies were going to be positive based on their psychographic profiles. So if they tend to suppress anger, if they were too nice, just niceaholics like I’ve been in a lot of my life, that actually they’re much higher risk of having breast cancer.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I just sat with a friend of mine who was the sweetest woman and just kind and gentle and beautiful and she had breast cancer. I was like, “Hey, did you ever get to express your anger?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:

She’s like because I could hear her talking to her mother on the phone. It was her birthday and her mother was nattering at her and she was trying to get off the phone because she was in a car on her way to a nice dinner and she didn’t really want to be on the phone. She couldn’t say to her mother, “Hey, mom. I’m in the car with four of my friends. We’re on the way to dinner. I’d love to talk to you, but can I call you later because right now is not a good time?” Instead, she didn’t do that. She didn’t stand up for what she wanted and what she needed and wasn’t able to, even though I could tell she was frustrated and angry, she was being nice, where she really wasn’t feeling nice.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Thank you for sharing that. So powerful. Of course, whenever we talk about things like this, I know it’s supposed to be incredibly sensitive. No one’s putting blame on people or saying that they’re doing it to themselves. These things are really hard, but the science now is emerging more and more. We’re seeing the link, and these things, as I say, can be worked on once we know, once we’re aware we can do something about it.

Rangan Chatterjee:

So I guess all I’d like to finish off by saying, Mark, for people is no matter who you are, no matter where you are in your life right now, if you feel stressed out and close to burnout, I know the tools in this book are going to help you. If you feel, “Actually, life’s okay, it’s not bad, but could I be getting something more out of my life?” I think these same tools and principles are going to help that person as well because they’re universal principles that will help all of us be happier and healthier.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Well, thank you, Rangan. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for being such a leader in the space of health and wellness, of asking the hard questions, writing the hard books, and telling the stories that inspire us because I think we’re living in a time, which I think it’s easy to be depressed and feel dark, but the beautiful thing is that we always have the power of our minds to control our life and our experience even in the midst of the worse circumstances.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

I think the more of us that focus on that, the more I think as a society we’re going to be able to handle the challenges that we’re facing right now, whether it’s the increasing rise of autocracy, increasing health equities and economic disparities, whether it’s climate change or violence, gun violence. I mean, it’s just so many things we’re struggling with, but I think in the midst of all that, the more of us that can take little steps in our own lives to have the cultivation of our own minds, to free our own minds from the prisons that they’re in and allow us to be a little bit happier. I do believe that ripples throughout life and throughout the world and makes the world a little bit better place. So thank you, Rangan, for writing this book.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Mark. Appreciate it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

Everybody should definitely get a copy, Happy Mind Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Wellbeing, everywhere you get your books. It’s out now. I definitely think it’s one of the most important books of this year because particularly the times we’re living in and then the struggles that people are having. Thank you you much for this antidote for so much of the unhappiness existing today in the world.

Rangan Chatterjee:

Thanks a lot.

Dr. Mark Hyman:

If you love this podcast, please share with your friends and family, on social media, leave a comment, have you find ways to hack your happiness, and subscribe wherever you get your podcast, and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Closing:

Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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