Introduction: Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s
Kris Carr: Pharmacy, we can’t amputate any of our emotions and expect to be whole. And we live, we’re domesticated in a grief, phobic, messy emotions averse society.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Welcome to the Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, that’s farmacy with an F. If you ever experienced loss or grief, I think you’re going to love this podcast with one of my good friends, someone I deeply respect and admire, who’s had many challenges in her own life, and I think is written an extraordinary book about it, which we’re going to talk in great detail about today. Kris Carr. Kris is, I don’t know where to start with Kris. She’s a multiple New York Times bestseller. She’s a wellness activist. She’s a cancer thriver, not a survivor, cancer thriver. We’re going to talk about that. She’s been called The Force of Nature by O Magazine, was named a new role model by the New York Times. She’s a member of Oprah’s Super Soul 100, which is a group of the most influential thought leaders today. She’s been everywhere in the media. Good Morning America. The Today Show, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and her work has been featured in glamor prevention, scientific, American Forbes, wall Street Journal and lots more. She’s helped millions of people take charge of their health and live like they mean it through her award winning blog, her books, her online courses, and her community. So I just love Kris so much and here she is. Welcome Kris.
Kris Carr: Hi Mark, my friend. I’m so happy to be here with you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, we’ve known each other a long time and we’ve seen each other go through many challenges in life. And as we go through life, we hit bumps in the road. When you’re a little kid and a baby born, everything’s fine, but then stuff starts to kind of go sideways sometimes. And whether it’s a diagnosis of cancer, which you had when you were a young woman, or loss of family members or business disruptions, and we’ve all experienced these moments in life that are just so challenging and we don’t really have a map. We don’t really have a map. What do we do? How do we get through it? How do we manage our grief? How do we manage loss? How do we not turn an inward into depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors? I mean, it’s really in life. You can’t get through life without getting beaten up.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And how do you kind of come through that on either side and be whole and happy and not shrink and shrivel and contract and live in fear? And I see this in a lot of people when they hit those bumps. It’s like unlike they retreat and they kind of withdraw, but you kind of have a different view of all this and it’s really beautiful. And your new book, I just want to highlight it because it’s such a beautiful book. It’s beautifully written, it’s deeply felt. It’s a tear jerker for sure. And it’s called, I’m Not a Morning Person, and that’s not M O R N I N G, it’s m O U R N, raving loss Grief and the big messy emotions that happen when life falls apart. So I’m just so excited to talk to you about this. It’s not something we really talk about much now. I’m sorry, I’m yammering on, but we’ll get to, I kind of want to start with this recent moment you had a few years ago where your father was dying, your business was having challenges, you were about to hit your 20 year milestone of living with stage four cancer, and you were sort of at a breaking point and you’re like in the parking lot, bawling and CVS parking lot. Tell us about that and what that moment was for you and how it catalyzed something good.
Kris Carr: Yeah, thank you. Well, it’s called, I’m not a morning person because it was the one emotion that I was really afraid to go near Mark when I was newly diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago. And as you said, I’ve been living with stage four cancer for 20 years now. The first thing I did was run to food because food was something I could control, and I desperately felt like I needed to control something. I felt so out of control. And what a wonderful place to begin your healing and wellness journey. And you have taught me so much. I’ve been so blessed to be your personal friend, but also to devour all of your books and follow your career and always learn from you on your igs and all the things that you do in the world. It’s true. I’m like, what do you have to say now I’m in. But you said something to me a long time ago in a galaxy far away, which you also teach the whole planet, which is food is information. And where I started my life and my career, my wellness life and my career was being mindful of what you’re eating. And 20 years in, I’m really focused on being mindful about what’s eating you, right?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. That one, it’s not what you’re eating, eating you. I had a friend who lost 20 pounds as soon as he got out of a relationship that was toxic. Right?
Kris Carr: Well, and that’s the holistic lifestyle practice that we, and we talk about. And sometimes it goes back to healer, heal thyself. And so 20 years in, I’ve done many incredible things and written books and had the privilege of lecturing with you and all of these wonderful opportunities. And yet I had a blind spot.
Kris Carr: And the blind spot was around grief because I thought that if I allowed myself to feel it, I completely fall apart and everything would change and I would no longer have my shit together. And as we know, the opposite is true and the way out is through. And it was through this perfect storm, so to speak, of all the things that you’ve talked about coming together. And by the way, we were also in the middle of a global pandemic when all of this was happening. And I met c vs because my father’s dying of terminal cancer, and I’m met c v Ss and my mom had asked me to pick up more insure. And I didn’t consciously have these thoughts. We can’t choose our first thought, but we can certainly work on our second one.
Dr. Mark Hyman: But
Kris Carr: The first thought was, how many do I get? Do I get a six pack? Do I get a 12 pack? Do I get a case? Because I didn’t know how long he had to live.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow. Wow.
Kris Carr: And so those thoughts brought up this tsunami of grief, and I remember dropping the insurer and running out of C v Ss hoping nobody’s seeing me. Of course they’re seeing me. I’m acting like a nut, you know what I mean? And I’m running
Dr. Mark Hyman: To, you’re a crazy sexy kid, right?
Kris Carr: Keyword. So I’m running to the car and I get there and I completely fall apart. It’s all the stuff that I had been holding back. And it wasn’t just the stuff of what was happening recently, my brilliant therapist said something to me, I use in the book a lot, which is when the grief train pulls into the station, it brings all the cars.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. It’s like all the stuff that’s been backing up that you haven’t actually faced or looked at in your life around grief or loss or pain, scary.
Kris Carr: That was it. And it’s all energy. And if we can think of it that way, maybe we can have some more curiosity around it as opposed to perpetuating the stigma of it. And so she says this, and so it’s all coming, and then I allow myself to just totally fall apart. I mean, it’s a mascara festival, it’s just there. And I felt better. And it was a moment when the medicine kicks in and I was like, if this feels better, even just a little bit, why have I been so hell bent on avoiding it and if I stopped avoiding it, what could it teach me? And then that was the moment where I was like, I’m going to learn about grief.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow. Yeah. It’s something that I know is uncomfortable and humans tend to avoid pain and seek pleasure. And so I really relate to what you’re saying. And actually it was probably around the same time, the same thing happened to me. Covid happened. I had back surgery that was sort of unexpected for a disc thing that was just debilitating with bad complications. And my marriage ended relatively abruptly in the middle of all that. And I was in this place of total loss, and I would literally have to kind of just sit in the experience of being broken, my broken back, my broken heart. And I had lost my mother recently before that I lost my father, my sister, a number of years before. And I kind of had just buried it all, man. And because in fact, COVID stopped everything, I actually had the time to sit with it all and I really had to feel it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And I remember I would be meditating and I would literally just start crying as I was meditating and I’d just start all these feelings coming up. And so I think for so many of us we’re just not familiar with how to navigate that and navigate loss and how to heal from those ruptures. You call the things you call ruptures, the things like divorce, accidents, miscarriage, back surgery, cancer, death. So how do we begin to start to heal these wounds? How do we do, we kind of actually learn from them in a way that actually allows us to get a roadmap for living fully. Because what you described is what I felt when you actually go through it on the other side is light. If you bury it on the other side, is often darkness. It doesn’t go away. It eats at you, right? It’s eating you, like you said, and it causes illness, it causes grief. I mean it causes anxiety, depression, and anger and all these other things that kind of come out sideways. So how do we begin to tend those wounds and how do we kind of get a roadmap for, like you say, fully living and thriving in the next chapter after that?
Kris Carr: Yeah, that’s a great question and we’ll talk about, I know we’ll get into some practical tools that we can use, but I think taking that big step back, it’s first and foremost for me, and I’m not a grief expert, although when I’m onto something I’m like, I’m going to learn everything I can about it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You’re a little voracious.
Kris Carr: But what I learned through the process of going through this first and foremost, and also writing my book. So a lot of research was to take that big step back first, we have to normalize the experience and we can’t amputate any of our emotions and expect to be whole. And we live, we’re domesticated in a grief, phobic, messy emotions averse society. So it’s normal that we’re walking around. I have a chapter called Awkward times, awkward People.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, we’ll get to that. Yeah.
Kris Carr: It’s normal that we’re walking around clueless, many of us. And so we want to give ourselves grace and forgiveness because we haven’t been given, as you said, roadmaps for how to navigate storms of this magnitude. So I would say the first step is just to get clear that this is normal. And if we go back to your brilliance of food is information and we apply that brilliance to emotions or information, then we can start to get curious about them. And I was talking to a doctor the other day and what came to me was what if we could create the anatomy of emotions? And I was thinking about when I was first diagnosed and I have tumors in my liver and both of my lungs. If I were to say to you a physician, I don’t like my liver and I would like, it’s not attractive, it’s clearly not functioning properly.
Kris Carr: It’s not like the other livers on the playground who obviously got better educations than my liver. And I would like you to remove it because it’s just unbecoming. As my grandmother would say about an emotion she thought a lady shouldn’t partake in. You would say, Kris Carr, are you out of your rocker? You need your liver, your liver’s incredible. Your liver does over 400 or more. I don’t know. Things for you. And maybe if you learn a little bit more about your liver, you’ll be in awe of that organ. And maybe if you learned a little bit more about your liver, you might actually get super inspired to take care of it as opposed to judging it.
Kris Carr: So big metaphor that we can apply to our emotions if they’re information, what are they here to teach us? And if we can get curious about those emotions and put on our little wellness detective hats that we put on when we’re sick, if we put on our wellness detective hats and we get curious about our emotions, then we’re not going to judge them as much. We’ll forgive ourselves when we mess up because we will. And we’ll be like, oh, you said it so beautifully. There’s ways for me to tend to these emotions so that I can feel better. And I think that’s the first step, is first and foremost, applying that mindset and then allowing it to take you to the places that it will take you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, it’s so fascinating, Kris. We don’t really have any education in our navigating our internal emotional, psychological, spiritual worlds. I was like, it’s just reading, writing, arithmetic, but being a human, no, we have no idea about how to do that. I dunno. And I just came back from India and I went to see the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala India, and there was a Tibetan monk, a gase, which is like a PhD monk, and he saw that there were these kids that were living on the street and that were begging and lived in slums, and it was just the worst. And he decided he wanted to do something about it and give them a place to live and give them food and give them some nutrition. And they started that. They just kind of snowball into building this whole school. And now he has this whole massive complex called Len, which essentially is a Buddhist meditation practice of breathing in the suffering of the world and breathing out, healing.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s a very powerful practice. But anyway, the school is teaching these kids social, emotional, ethical learning, and it’s not religious, it’s not Buddhist, and it’s secular. It’s really secular ethics. He calls it secular emotional learning. And I went to this school and there were these kids literally that were from, and I visited the slums. It was really so heartbreaking to see how these, I mean, it was the worst of the worst I’ve ever seen in my life. And these kids came from this place, but in the school, they were now educated and they were talking about compassion and their emotions, and they literally had, instead of math on the wall, they had, here’s all your emotions, here’s how you navigate them. Here’s how you relate to people. Here’s how you be kind. Here’s what compassion is. Here’s how you have disagreements. Here’s what dialectical conversations are that allow you to get to the truth. I was like, what? And these kids were just so amazing and so aware of the need to be a good human. And it’s not about Kristian or Buddhist or Jewish or Muslim, it’s just about how do we human better?
Dr. Mark Hyman: And we don’t have that map. And so what you’re talking about is starting to learn and what your book, I’m Not a Morning person, is about how to sort of learn to confront and to navigate things that are unpleasant or difficult and understand our own internal landscape and how do we dance with that and how do we play with that and how do we actually use the rough bits of life to actually come out the other side better? And can you talk about that a little bit?
Kris Carr: Yeah. First and foremost, I want to go to that school.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s amazing, Kris, you have no idea.
Kris Carr: Holy cow, that’s so beautiful
Dr. Mark Hyman: On compassion. I’m like, what? Compassion. I can never forget one of those.
Kris Carr: Can you imagine if we learn these things earlier in life? Usually I learned about compassion because I was such a jerk to myself, and I couldn’t, I was so uncomfortable in my skin that I started to learn. I went to a monastery, I was like, you got to check yourself in. This is too much. This is not a weekend pillow experience for you girl. So yeah, that’s just breathtaking. I think we humans limit ourselves by only allowing ourselves to believe that a certain spectrum of emotions are tolerable and emotions that will be supported in society. And I think it does us a great disservice. It’s like saying, here’s a pack of Crayola crayons, but you can only use brown and blue and red. That’s it. And you have all these other crayons. You’re like, but the masterpiece will happen if I can use all of them. I love that you said that. We’re all going to go through it. And I think in our society, especially as we get sucked deeper and deeper into social media and technology, we think, well, everybody else has a rainbow. I want a rainbow of a life, but we can’t have the rainbow and say, but no rain,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Right? No,
Kris Carr: No rain. Thank you. Bad rain, bad rainbow. Good. Whoa. How are we going to, so going back to this idea of the big emotions, one of the things that I didn’t realize is that, I mean, I knew this to some on some level, but not until I really had to go decided to say yes to this adventure, let’s say. So saying yes to the adventure of exploring the harder parts of my life and myself, my emotions, I realized that the big emotions come with something like grief. So when I was in the storm of my grief and really trying to avoid it as best as I could, what would also come forward was past trauma. What would also come forward was rage. What also came forward was shame. And so it’s like it’s calming forward, so you can either continue to smush it down, but there’s also emotional physics.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, emotional physics. Wow, what a concept.
Kris Carr: I just came up with that recently. I was like, love that Mark’s going to love this
Dr. Mark Hyman: Love.
Kris Carr: Well, we think about emotional anatomy, that’s one. But emotional physics is like if it doesn’t come out one way, it’s energy. It’s going to come out another
Kris Carr: And coming out another could be in my past life, it would come out through drugs. It would come out through heavy drinking. It would come out through toxic relationships. It would come out through either explosions or implosions, and none of that would make me feel happy, healthier, or more vibrant. And so I said, well, what choice do you have? You can continue down this path or you can take another path. And the other path, actually, in some ways it seems harder until you actually surrender to it. And through that surrender saying, all parts of me are welcome back and I love you and I’m going to sit with you and we’re going to figure this out, and we’re not going to do it by ourselves. So help, just like I would say, you’re the c e o of your life and you have your wellbeing and you want to build a medical team and you’re going to hire and you’re going to interview and you’re going to fire, and you’re going to find your second in command. And you don’t have to know at all. They do, but you have to know enough to know when they suck.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So basically the first part of your journey was creating Save my ass technologies. Z.
Kris Carr: Yes, sir.
Dr. Mark Hyman: The second part is save my heart technology.
Kris Carr: Yes, save my heart, save my mind technologies and say, okay, who’s on my team here? Because these are places that are scary and I want to navigate them with support.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. A few years ago, as a consequence of all this loss and breakdown and physical emotional challenges that I was in, I decided to really go deep as opposed to turning away from it, which I normally would do in overworking and writing 19 books and changing the world and being Mark Hyman, I decided to stop, just pull the plug. And it was covid, so it was kind of easier to scale down and to just really go into the grit of the emotions and the feeling. And so much stuff came up. And I realized that I really had never dealt with my childhood. I just had, oh, just a fresh wound, just kind of move on. And it’s okay. I was not that bad. I wasn’t beaten with hooks and locked in closets, and so what could be bad? But I realized that there was a lot of things that happened in my childhood with rage holic, father, incest with my sister, my mother using me as her therapist because she was in a bad second marriage, and I never got to be really a child and to actually have a happy childhood.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And there was so much grief around that, so much loss, so much taken away. And I remember Lily just actually having to go into that. And it was almost like physiological. You talk about emotional physics, it was physiological. You talk about the experience in the C v s parking lot where you actually felt the relief after that. And for me, it was like something just got unlocked and all fatigue and stress and just kind of weight kind of dislodged. And it was like all of a sudden it was like a thunderstorm coming. It’s dark and the clouds are banging, and the thunder and the lightning, and then it just goes away and it’s fresh and clear and bright and magical, and it kind of felt like that. And it was weird to have so much pain and kind of feel all of it and understand what happened to me and then get to the other side of it, feel that grief and loss and move through it and have this almost ecstatic experience on the other side.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It was a little surprising, but I was happy it ended up like that. But it’s kind of what you’re talking about. It’s like the areas where we’re unhappy or depressed. And I think I kind of want to dive into this next part where you talk about in your book this really this epidemic we’re facing of anxiety and depression, the diseases of despair, the suicide, that drug addiction, alcoholism, we’ve all living in this sort of state of heightened alertness and stress, and it really causes huge damage to our bodies, to our immune system, to our hormones, our adrenals, our resilience. And we don’t really have a map for how to navigate out of that. How do we, do we understand these emotions of fear and anxiety and depression, things that are so rampant? How do we kind of learn what they have to teach us and use that as a way to move through this sort of messy emotions that can get us to the other side?
Kris Carr: Yeah, I love that. I’m going to go there in a second, but I love that you brought up fatigue because what I didn’t understand, especially with something like grief and loss, was how it manifests in the body. So I didn’t understand the connection between my brain fog and grief. I didn’t understand the connection between my extreme fatigue and my lack of appetite and grief, and just even understanding some of that. Again, when we learn the landscape a little bit more, you can say, oh, this is grief, this is actually normal. But I’m the first one that’s going to be like, how do I have to change my diet? Lemme get a blood test. Where are the next 77 supplements I need to take? It’s got to be my thyroid call Mark, mark. I need to get a thyroid check. And maybe that’s true, but I think those are the obvious places to go. What we’re talking about are the less obvious places to go that have a very interconnected, impactful impact, so to speak. And so for example, fear and anxiety, if we take every chapter in the book, handles a different emotion or experience that you may face when the rug gets pulled out from under you. They’re not all of them. They’re the ones that I included in the book that I can speak to firsthand.
Kris Carr: So with fear and anxiety, I used to think, mark, that I was a very fearful person. And maybe that’s not something I projected on the outside, but it’s what I felt on the inside, certainly coming from my own childhood wounds and my own, the traumatic impact of being diagnosed at 31 and living with cancer for 20 years. So it was very hypervigilant.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wait, you’re not 50, are you?
Kris Carr: I’m 52.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Come on.
Kris Carr: I just turned 52.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes. Oh, thank God. Crazy. It’s true. It’s true. Yeah.
Kris Carr: Well, I’m grateful for it though, that’s for sure. Because the alternative
Dr. Mark Hyman: Exactly better on this side of the grass for the moment.
Kris Carr: Yes, I am going to hold off on the dirt nap, but
Kris Carr: You got to have a sense of humor when you talk about this stuff, right? Because it’s tough stuff. So we have to bring levity and lightness to it. But anyway, so I thought I was a very fearful person because I tend to be more hypervigilant, so I like to control. And where does that come from? That comes from my own past traumatic experiences in childhood, and I am adopted. So my biological father left when I was conceived. And so my chosen father, Ken, who raised me from nine on, was a huge part of healing, of participating in healing in that wound. Is it completely healed? No, not all wounds completely heal, and that’s what we learn. But I think what can happen is, is that all these beautiful experiences and all this incredible development builds around that wound. Joy happens around that wound. My marriage happened around that wound, my friendship with you, the wound still exists, but I have so many wonderful other things that are also true.
Kris Carr: And again, we live in this sort of black and white society where it’s either one or the other. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing that holds us back. And so it’s just going back to the idea of fear and anxiety. Fear is actually kind of simple. It comes on in an instant. It has a beginning, middle, and end. Both of these emotions are designed from an evolutionary perspective to keep us safe. That’s it. So we don’t need to judge ’em. We can actually thank them. Thank you. Fear. It made me get up and go when the lion was chasing me. Thank you. Fear. When a deer jumps in front of my car and I swerve really quickly, and then the stress warmers flooding through my body, and then I’m going to have a hangover. It takes a while for me to return to some sort of homeostasis after that.
Kris Carr: Thank you. Fear, anxiety, on the other hand is the fear of what could happen in the future, what may or may not happen. And so a lot of us who maybe think we’re fearful people, we might be more anxious people, and we can say, okay, let me learn more about the anatomy of anxiety. Am I finding myself ruminating in this moment? Am I talking to my friend Mark? But really I’m someplace else. And in that someplace else, I’m telling myself a effed up story about what’s going to happen after this call because I didn’t send that email on time. And all these other things that we’re actually living some sort of chaotic horror story dream. And we’re not actually in the present with our emotions, with our wellbeing, with our relationships. And so even just being able to diagnose some of that and say, wait a minute, I’m going to catch myself in this moment. I might even give that story that I’m telling myself a funny name just to make me giggle. And then all of the wonderful things that you could teach us, it’s like, well, what are some of the tools to bring me back to this moment here and now that can also soothe my nervous system and bring my brain back online? Because when we’re in those places, our brains are offline.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, a lot of us try to go around the feelings instead of going through them. So the only way out is through. The only way out is through the facing directly and feeling the reality of whatever is happening to you and actually having a way to metabolize it so that it doesn’t actually end up causing illness. And I think as a physician, to me, this is one of the sort of big unexpressed things in medicine, and we kind of give a nod to stress being a factor, but it’s not just the stress of living in the modern world. It’s not just the stress of work and kids and responsibilities. It’s all this unmetabolized emotion and unprocessed experiences and feelings and loss. And when I look at my own life, I’m like, I’ve actually gone through horrible first marriage and alcoholic, single father back surgery at 32, chronic fatigue at 36, mercury poisoning, second marriage.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I mean, just one thing after the other for so long. And I could kind of easily see myself being kind of shrunken and depressed and disabled, and by literally just leaning into the experience of the pain of life and not running away from it. But actually, and like you said, working with your team of savior ass technologies team or save your mind and heart team, it’s like save our soul. It’s really about saving our souls and getting free so we can actually have an authentic direct experience of life that’s unmediated by the kind of unresolved, unexpressed, unfelt, unprocessed emotions. And what’s so beautiful about I’m not a morning person in your book, is that it sort of normalizes this and actually helps us to think of practical ways that we can start to do this. And through your own stories and your own experiences, you’ve been able to actually get to the other side.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So a lot of us have this, and I am sure many people listening, well, that sounds good, but what the heck do I do? How do I get to the other side? I’ve had all this pain, all this suffering, all this loss, all this challenge in my life, and we all do. How do I find my way? And can you talk about some practical ways that people can start to move through this instead of having to sublimate it with drugs or sex or food or depression or anxiety or whatever the heck we do? Netflix binging.
Kris Carr: That’s my drug du jour.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Oh God.
Kris Carr: Yeah. It’s better than some of the other things I used to do. That’s what we’re talking. Well, I want to just start by saying that you, I know we’ve been friends for so long, so I have been a part of your life during some of these chapters. And one of the things that I love about you, and I imagine that your followers will instantly realize when I say this, is you have a light-filled energy. You have an energy that exudes joy at the cellular level.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Thank you, Kris.
Kris Carr: You do. You are so filled with light. And I think that’s one of the reasons why so many millions of people gravitate towards you. And so I think you’re an example of, yes, a lot of trials and tribulations can happen in your life, and you can navigate them and they can grow you deeper, and you can be super successful and you can really still love life. And so just you even being here shows me that that’s possible for me too. And another thing about you, which is so fun, is you prioritize joy.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, I do.
Kris Carr: You do. And I’d say that joy is one of the most underrated medicines that we could prescribe for ourselves because it helps us at the physiological level. You could tell about all those things. It helps our mental wellbeing, our physical wellbeing, our immune system. And the last thing sometimes we think that we even deserve, we would feel guilty if we were to prioritize joy, is when we’re going through a tough time, especially with, let’s say we’re a caregiver and we’re helping with end of life care for a family member or partner
Dr. Mark Hyman: Like you were your dad.
Kris Carr: You could say, oh gosh, I feel so guilty to take this moment from myself and prioritize a little joy. That’s the opposite behavior that we want to implore you not to do that. Because for me, it doesn’t have to be this big huge thing. If I don’t go to great adventure, it’s not going to be joyful enough. It is like, no, that’s not what it is for me. It could be I’m feeding my hummingbirds. I have three feeders. I have this naughty little bully male hummingbird that will chase all the ladies around, and I have to go out there and keep the peace with the gals and the little bully, and they know me, and they come chirping, chirping, chirping around my head, and it is just a moment of sheer joy for me. That’s beautiful. What are the moments of joy? One of the things that my dad said to me, and I promise I’m going to start to answer your question, I promise you, but this is important stuff. Good story, good
Dr. Mark Hyman: Story.
Kris Carr: And I think that if you take nothing from this, take what we’re saying right now, but one of the things that my dad said to me, and he was as he was getting closer to dying, he was dropping all the fatherly wisdom bombs, and we had a very close relationship. Again, he was my chosen father and my mentor, and still is my mentor, just in a different form. He said, make your golden years now.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. Wow.
Kris Carr: Don’t put them off because here I was retiring, I’m in my early seventies. I sold my business thinking on now I’m going to spend more time with my family. Now I’m going to play golf with my brother. Now I’m going to do X, Y, Z, P, D Q. And here I am dying of terminal pancreatic cancer. So you have to make your golden years now love every single day, not tomorrow, today. What are you going to do today to make your life more golden? And that changed everything. And I have to also say that even though his life was cut short, it wasn’t about the quality of time, sorry, it wasn’t about the quantity of time. It was about the quality because I saw him make more golden days in four and a half years than I had seen in the 40 years that I knew him.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow. Yeah.
Kris Carr: So how do we begin? There’s no one specific path. What we’re not going to do is create a blueprint. We’re not going to hack anything. None of that’s going to happen. But what we’re going to do is hopefully inspire
Dr. Mark Hyman: Steps to be free of grief, right?
Kris Carr: Yeah. That’s not going to happen if I ever write that, never buy another book of mine. I’m just saying
Kris Carr: Because it doesn’t work like that. And we’re all so unique. But if there’s something that we’re saying in becoming more emotionally literate and prioritizing joy and understanding that you don’t have to hold it back, it’s actually too painful. Picture waves stacking, at some point, they’re going to overtake you, so you’re not more powerful than the ocean. Sorry, honey. You know what I mean? But can we dive through it? Yes. And so here, in addition to the things that we’ve already talked about, get support, for me that was going back to therapy. And I’ve been in therapy on and off again for 30 years. And sometimes you think, don’t I know it all by now? Do I really need to pay for this? Oh my gosh, did I need to? And then some I was just like, take my money. So getting that support and then understanding some of the things, the lifestyle choices that you can make that will support you on this journey. So one of the things that I began to prioritize for different reasons, I used to prioritize exercise because I was like my ass to move up a little higher. I mean, I’m like in a bathing suit. I like my thighs to be a little toner. You know what I mean? Or in the beginning with my diagnosis, it was like, I should exercise because it’s good for my immune system. Exercise became I need to exercise because it helps me change the channel.
Kris Carr: So I know I’ve gone on and on and on, and we can come back to other things, but I realize it’s probably time for me to pass the microphone back to you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: No, no. This is so great. I think you’re right. Everybody has to find their own path to navigate toward the experience, the feeling, the processing, the metabolizing of challenging and difficult emotions that come up in the course of going through the trials and tribulations of life. And I think many people find life coaches or therapy or workshops or just a good friend who can really just deeply help you see what you can’t see. Or there’s programs like the Hoffman process, which is something that is kind of like, I think emotional intensive care. It’s like I see you where you can let all the fluids out and all the emotions out and actually face things that you can’t easily do on your own. So I think it’s an important conversation, Kris, because bringing this forward for people, helping them to normalize it, to understand that we are not going to get free until we understand, like you said, our emotional physics, until we understand the things that are turning in on us.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So if you are experiencing the depression, if you are experiencing anxiety, if you are experiencing things like food addiction or alcoholism or drug use or any of these things, there are all ways that we turn against ourselves instead of actually meeting the feelings. And it’s so hard to meet those feelings that we don’t have the constructs or the systems or the structures in place in our society to do this easily. And it’s actually seems worse than ever we see. And like I said, I just got back from being in Nepal and India, and it was a Buddhist culture there in some of these places. And they have a very different frame of life. And in even the most challenging situations, there’s joy and there’s a meaning of life quite differently. And I think because they do get taught about these concepts as part of their culture, and we don’t. So in the book, Kris, you do have sort of a little bit of a roadmap where you talk about some of the five pillars of wellness, which really help us to deal with the emotional piece too. I am glad you talked about your mind and your thoughts being so important and how to actually influence everything else. But I’d love you to talk about these five areas that you frame in the book around our wellbeing
Dr. Mark Hyman: And what the practices are, what are the pillars of the practices?
Kris Carr: So as you were saying, when we’re going through difficult times, this is a perfect time to double down on our self-care. And you probably know Dr. Judd, Dr. Judd Brewer, he has a great book about anxiety, and he talks about how it can actually be something that’s habitual. Like every habit has a trigger, a behavior, and a reward or a result, because not all rewards are actually rewarding. So let’s say we’re really struggling, and so when we’re struggling, we want to drink a glass of wine every night, it’s going to help us, I don’t know, just self-soothe for a minute in some way. But we know that the result of that night, after night after night, or multiple glasses of wine or whatever it is, I’m just giving that example, actually starts to maybe impact our mental health. We start to feel more depressed. We’re dealing with brain fog and all these types of things.
Kris Carr: And so I think that the tools that we sometimes reach for that are less productive, they’re good intentions gone wrong. You’re not doing it because you’re weak, you’re doing it because you’re looking for help. But sometimes we’re looking for help in places that don’t actually provide the help that we need. And so going through difficult times, I think that’s when we can double down on our self-care, but in a different way. So when we talk about the pillars, it’s just my way of distilling, I would say the principles of a healthy lifestyle practice, which is about being mindful about optimizing what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, what you’re thinking, and how you’re resting and renewing.
Kris Carr: And that kind of rests on a strong foundation of stress reduction. Those things actually help to reduce inflammation. But the key word isn’t optimized. The key word is mindful. And I think what can happen is we get really hard on ourselves. We want to get it right, and we want to do it perfect. And if we don’t do it perfect, we think we’re failing in our healthy lifestyle practices. And I would say what you did when the shizzle was hitting the fan for yourself is so essential. It’s like we got to slow it all down. What can we handle at this moment when you’re not going to be at full capacity, nor should we expect ourselves to. And so what can we prune? What needs to be let go of? How can we make more time and space for our own processing and healing? And especially if we’re caregivers, then we’re already stretched thin. And so I like to say first and foremost is lower the bar.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, lower the bar.
Kris Carr: Lower the bar. Good enough is good enough.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Expect less from yourself is what you’re saying, which is opted of our culture
Kris Carr: A little bit. Because look, when we expect so much of ourselves, let’s just break it down. Let’s make it really obvious. So the pillars, if I’m at optimum, I’m working the pillars, the lifestyle might look a little different, but let’s say I’m going through a divorce, or let’s say I’m going through my own diagnosis or the loss of a loved one, or I’ve just lost my job. It shocked me. My boss kicked me in the teeth and fired me for no reason. Let’s say that just happened. I don’t feel like eating or I feel like eating the whole planet, one of the, and so for me, it’s going to be like I don’t feel like eating. And so what am I going to do? Well, I got to eat and I eat.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I might be going for the three pints of hagg, chunky monkey.
Kris Carr: You want some chunky monkey. So I’m going to say, well, you know what? I don’t have the energy. I’m completely, I’m so sad. I can’t believe how sad I am. I’m going to make myself a smoothie that takes very little time, and it’s got the good fats and healthy proteins and all the good stuff your people know. I don’t even have to say, but that is a commitment I’m going to make to myself. I am going to drink water. That is a commitment I’m going to make to myself. That’s what I’m saying about lowering the bar. You might open your pantry and see your 77 bottles of supplements and say, F you. I’m not, I can’t, for whatever reason at that moment, you’re like, I can’t. But what are the three things in there you probably should be taking right now? And you’ll talk to Mark, he’ll tell you, but lower the bar because if it’s so high, you’ll probably do nothing. And if you do nothing, you’re going to feel worse. So it might not be that you’re going to go to the gym and do all of the big things that you usually do with your trainer, but for me, if that’s you, for me, it’s like every single day, as my grandmother say by hook or crook, I’m going to take my walk after work. It’s a 30 minute walk. I’m not doing it to lift my ass to the sky. I’m doing it to release my day and get some movement.
Kris Carr: And so what I’m talking about is practical wellness that strengthens this lifestyle medicine that you so beautifully teach us about.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, I think it’s true. And I think what I’ve learned as a physician and as a human being, and I heard Tony Robbins talk about this once, and it was such a powerful concept, which is learn how to change your state, learn how to change your state, whether it’s yelling and screaming, jumping up and down a hundred times, going for a run, jumping in the cold river, standing on your head, whatever it is, there are ways to change your state, and it is emotional physics. And so I’ve learned that I actually have a channel that I can get to. It’s a different channel by actually doing some simple practices that access my kind of emotional realm and help to resolve some of the sort of emotional distress by a kind of physical means. So I’ve learned all these practices and I’m talk in the write about them, but maybe it’s like a cold shower in the morning. It’s like step in an ice cold shower. That’ll change your state, right?
Kris Carr: Yes, it’ll very much so. Or
Dr. Mark Hyman: Go in sauna or go for a run or do 10 pushups or
Dr. Mark Hyman: Do some kind of process where you’re actually changing your physiological state. And it’s an incredible medicine because it discharges a lot of the stress because what we’re talking about is whether it’s grief or whether it’s anger, whether it’s anxiety, depression, these are all states of stress. And so it’s a physiological process. And as a doctor, I deeply understand what the physiology of stress is, but as a human being, I can understand it and it’s still going to mess me up unless I actually learn the tools and the techniques, whether it’s having my morning smoothie. So for me, it’s like if I’m in a bad way, and then when I was going through the divorce and the back surgery and a broken heart and my life kind of falling apart, and having just lost all my family, close family members, my nuclear family, I actually set myself up where I would do these practices no matter how crappy I felt or how depressed I was or how much grief I was experiencing, I was like, okay, I’m going to wake up and I’m going to journal for a half an hour, just get out everything.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Then I’m going to kind of work out or go for a bike ride or jump in the ocean, or I had a set of practices that I would do, and I’m going to have my smoothie and I’m going to eat these vegetables. And it kind of worked. And I didn’t mean I wouldn’t sit and meditate and cry, but I was actually able to move through it. And it helped me not to get ossified in the state. I think our emotions tend to get ossified unless we learn how to break them up and change the state we’re in. This is really why I think your book is so important because it helps us to see the greater context of it’s, Hey, it’s okay that things fall apart. Stuff happens to all of us, but how do we actually navigate that and how do we use some simple practices and tools to actually fix it?
Dr. Mark Hyman: And it’s not that hard. It’s like what you’re eating. It’s what you’re drinking, it’s what you’re thinking, it’s how you’re resting, how you’re renewing, all the things. You talk about the pillars in your book. And I think those simple, practical things are not overwhelming. They’re really accessible to all of us. And it’s kind of like the medicine that we’re missing as a doctor. It’s hard to treat diseases of despair, right? We’ve got to find a different way. I mean, maybe if we all went to that Toland school in India and learned social, emotional, ethical learning, we’d be okay, but not, we have to kind of go back to school, really. And your book is in a way, a curriculum for us to relearn how to be in relationship with our feelings, our emotions, our hardest, most difficult things that we have to face in life.
Kris Carr: Thank you for that. You just said so many wonderful things, and this is the work boots of how to get moving when you don’t want to be moving work boots. And I’ll just take a step back real quick and say, sometimes it just begins with courageous acknowledgement of saying, this is where I am right now. And that’s why the first step of that emotional literacy is so helpful so that you can understand where you are and then actually say it. Because when we think about diseases of despair, we think about loneliness. We can be in community and still feel lonely. Why? Because we’re actually not sharing the truth of what we’re actually experiencing. And we do share the truth of what we’re experiencing. It gives permission for somebody else in our community to say, well, you know what? I’m very sad too. And that creates that deeper bond because we do need each other. It’s very hard to lone wolf difficult times. And yet when we’re in difficult times, what do we do? We tend to withdraw. And so I’d say just even being able to, here’s an example. I was in a meeting the other day and somebody asked me how I was doing, and I said, I’m sad.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s something you say in a meeting. No,
Kris Carr: No. And I’m not saying that you should. I’m not giving you go tell your boss you’re sad. You know what I mean? But I’m in a meeting and I said, I am sad. That was such a huge win because what I was doing is saying, you’re asking me how I am. And instead of saying, I’m fine, everything’s great,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Great.
Kris Carr: It’s like I’m sad. And what would life look like if we were actually more honest with each other? What would life look like if the next time you cried in front of somebody that you cared for? Or maybe some colleagues or friends or people that you don’t even really deeply know, but for whatever reason, you were moved in that moment and you cried and you didn’t say, I’m sorry, you just said thank you for holding space for this moment. First of all, everybody would be like, whoa, what kind of stuff does she take? That’s amazing. That was brave. It was brave. What was so brave about it? It was just being with the truth of the feeling. And for you, it could be just starting with naming it. What am I feeling right now? What would it be like to start your day and write this question for yourself? How am I? And then literally freeform and let yourself actually know how you are. That’s where we’re going to start before we even put the work boots on. If you just developing that relationship of how am I, well, I’m this and I’m that, and oh, it’s just even getting in touch with those emotions because we can give you lots of tools. There’s box breathing, there’s mirror work, there’s so many. I write about a lot of the practical things in the book
Dr. Mark Hyman: Box. Breathing isn’t like being in a box and breathing in a box. No, no. It’s a technique of actually holding it breathing out.
Kris Carr: Very good. You don’t need that mess in the comments. Yeah, you’re like us. But
Dr. Mark Hyman: Anyway, you told me to go in a box.
Kris Carr: Yeah, no, that’s not it. But let’s, let’s simplify it all and start with the truth of where we are.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, yeah. It’s beautiful. You also, in the book you shared after your father died, you took a beautiful walk with your mom on the beach. And that was really profound for you, and that it was a moment that it was on Valentine’s Day. It was your 18th year cancer anniversary, you call it. It was a few days after your dad died. And tell us about the walk and what happened, and you kind of had some kind of message from your dad, and I think that’d be very meaningful to share.
Kris Carr: Yeah. I have to say, I have a very feral, fluid fickle relationship to faith.
Kris Carr: And I like alliteration obviously. I think like everything, I question life very rigorously. And I was going through a time where I was really questioning if there’s anything beyond this, even though I know that energy doesn’t die, it transforms. And I believe that’s the same with love, but I can get very cerebral very quickly. And we were going for a walk on the beach. We’re both so soaked in grief, we’re in shock, really. And we had an incredible experience through his passing and being present with him. And I learned so much from the hospice nurses and doctors. And I’m no longer at the place of really being afraid of my own death as a result of going through this, which was what a gift. But we’re walking and I am like, dad, if you’re there, I could really use a sign and a little further out. And there’s nobody on the beach. I see these two long stem roses standing at attention. And he would’ve sent me red roses for Valentine’s Day. He often did. There was one for me and it was one for my mom. Oh,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow.
Kris Carr: And the crazy part was, is that beforehand my husband had gotten me roses, but he was like, I don’t know what to do. Should I get your mom roses? Is that going to be weird? Is that going to remind her of her loss? I said, look, if you’re so stuck on the roses, they’re not yours to give. And so here we are. And I was like, mom, it’s Todd.
Kris Carr: And we go running to these roses, and it was just such a beautiful moment, whether, I don’t know, again, I don’t know how it works, and I’m very open to the mystery, and I’m so excited. I think we’ll really know when we know. But it just filled my heart with hope and possibility. And we got back to the car and we were in the parking lot, and I could see this little apartment complex, and there was a man getting ready to watch a movie. He is in his La-Z-Boy big screen TV that I can see, and I see Netflix come on, and the title card of the movie that he is about to start watching is called Surviving Death.
Kris Carr: And I’m like, the suns are coming fast and furious. All right, dad, here’s the situation. And so I think the point is, what I’ve done since then is really, it’s given me an opportunity not only strengthen the faith of my knowing, but to build a new relationship with the people that I love who are no longer here. And so that relationship continues. And you can even say like, I’m going to make my life a treasure hunt. I’m going to look for signs. Signs that I’m in a loving universe, signs that I’m still in relationship with people who have passed that are still a big part of my heart. And when you start to make your life a treasure hunt, you’d be surprised how many treasures you see. And so that was a big aha for me, as was the making your golden years now and then saying, okay, well, how am I going to do that?
Kris Carr: It’s not just about the wonderful people I want to have in my life or the experiences I want to have, but it’s also about what kind of nos am I going to say now? What is the perspective this has given me? And how do I embrace fully alive living and really live more in alignment with who I am so that I can continue to share the truth of that and also blossom deeper into that person? And that means that there’s some things that probably will fall apart. Sometimes when things fall apart, there’s a domino effect because there needs to be,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, it’s like Leonard Cone, right? It’s like the crack is where the light gets in, right? Yeah. When things are cracked open in our life, it’s often the most juicy moments. It’s moments of healing, of repair, of learning, of discovery, of getting to the next quantum level of our own emotional, spiritual evolution. It’s hard. It’s not fun. It’s painful, but it also is kind of juicy. It’s like we kind of push away the things that are uncomfortable. We avoid pain, and we see pleasure as just human nature, but it actually undermines our ability to actually feel the pleasure. It’s kind of paradoxical as we’ve bury the pain and the grief and the loss and the whatever we’re feeling and we don’t go into it, it actually causes more pain. It’s kind of this weird paradox and actually going through it and meeting it and facing it and experiencing it and breathing through it and getting the help.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Like I said, you said it very well. You can’t do this on your own. You need a team, and it’s a hard thing for people to kind of get in this life because we all want to not feel those feelings. But actually your book is an invitation to think about it differently. It’s an invitation to meet those feelings, to go through the grief, to go through the loss, to face it all, and actually to kind of emerge through it free. It’s like you sort of said it when you were in the parking lot and you had this moment, and afterwards there was something that felt lighter free in you. I was talking to a friend last night in my men’s group, we, men’s group of friends we’ve been having for 40 years. It’s like, so we know each other really well, and he was talking about the sense of when his mother died and undertakers came to take her away and the grief he felt and the sobbing and afterwards, how much lighter he felt and how much freer he felt.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And I think that’s true for all of us. If we go into it on the other side, it’s like climbing a mountain. It’s so hard to get to the top and then you’re like, oh. And then it’s kind of gets easy off the way down. So I think you’ve climbed a lot of mountains in your life. Kris, you’ve climbed the mountain of your own cancer thriving, which is amazing. It’s like 20 years, and I’ve been with you a lot through most of that journey you have and the loss you’ve shared about your dad and other things that we’ve all gone through. It is such a gift. Your being in the planet is a real gift. Your book is a gift, and I wonder if you have any final thoughts or words you want to share with our audience.
Kris Carr: Yeah. Well first, thanks for having me. This is such a highlight for me to be with my dear friend and mentor. Mark. I would say just give yourself grace and as much as possible when you allow yourself to become more curious, to explore the conversation that we’re having today is to also make sure that you are very compassionate with yourself. But as we’ve been talking about, this is the path, right? It’s so easy to say we are in the personal development world in many ways, and I see the trends where people are talking about creating their best life and manifesting and all these wonderful things like who doesn’t want that? We want to attract the abundance into our life and so on. I do, but I think that this is the groundwork because sometimes when we’re doing that work or we’re searching desperately for ways to do that, it’s kind of like putting lip gloss on a problem.
Kris Carr: The problem problem’s still there. And so by being courageous enough to say, I’m going to go to some of these deeper places, it’s almost like we unlock the potential for the lives that we want to live. And you keep mentioning the beautiful word freedom. I mean, that’s just such a core desire of mine and of each and every one of us. And we may never be completely free of the pain, and that’s normal too. It’s not a failure, but I believe that we can be free of the fear of the pain and the barrier it creates to fully alive living.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah,
Dr. Mark Hyman: I love that, Kris. That’s a beautiful way to end. Anybody who’s listening, I’m sure you have had loss. I’m sure you have people in your life. I mean, we don’t get through this life without having that. And I think this book, I’m Not a morning person, raving loss grief, and the big messy emotions that happen when life falls apart is a must have books. So I would encourage you all to go out and get it right now. It’s available anywhere you get your books. And if you love listening to this podcast and learn something about it and learn about grief and repair and healing, share it with everybody because I think everybody needs to hear this conversation and to know Kris, subscribe to every 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.