Act: Inspiration

What Could Possibly Go Right?: Episode 75 Nate Hagens

April 18, 2022

Show Notes

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF), an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers, ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles.

Nate holds a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont.  He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

He addresses the question of “What Could Possibly Go Right?” with thoughts including:

  • Learning how to thrive, think positively and sharpen your “sword” to be more effective in the things that you care about
  • The importance of coping mechanisms to deal with the frenetic stimulation, stress and worry of our current times
  • How technology and other modern distractions pull our minds like moths to flames
  • That we can be examples of people living differently, away from conspicuous consumption and towards a higher standard of ethics, empathy and kindness. “Those people in turn then act as a stabilizing force for the entire community when things get tough.”
  • “The prevalent cultural trance, the conversation that we’re all supposed to be interested in, believe in, is fraying.”


Connect with Nate Hagens




Vicki Robin

Hi Vicki Robin here, host of What Could Possibly Go Right?, a project of the Post Carbon Institute, in which we interview cultural scouts, people who see far and serve the common good, asking them all our one question: In the midst of all that seems to be going awry, what could possibly go right?

Today’s guest is Nate Hagens. Nate is a well known speaker on the big picture issues facing human society and currently teaches a systems Honors course at the University of Minnesota called ‘Reality 101 – A survey of the human predicament’. He has appeared on PBS, BBC, ABC and NPR, and has lectured around the world. He was a lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and respected websites for analysis and discussion of global energy supplies and the future implications of the upcoming energy transition. He holds a master’s degree in finance with honors from the University of Chicago and a PhD in natural resources from the University of Vermont.

Previously, Nate was the president of Sanctuary Asset Management and the vice president at the investment firms, Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers. So I invited Nate to join us here for an episode of What could possibly go right because of the huge scope of his thought and his clear eyed, sustained gaze on the energy transition away from fossil fuels we are in the middle of and now here’s Nate.

Hey, welcome Nate Hagens, to What Could Possibly Go Right? I know you know, we are not asking for prescriptions or analyses, which you have plenty, I’m sure. But for what your eye, trained for decades on the horizon of overshoot and collapse, now sees as the unravellings are upon us. You and I and millions of others have worked to avert these, but here they are.

So techno-optimists are offering us breakthroughs, collapseologists are offering us a dark mirror. But you and I both try to metabolize reality and offer pattern recognition guidance for people who pay attention to us. You have your readers and your students, and I have the people who read Your Money or Your Life and my blog. So we’re sort of listening posts. We’re sending out signals, but we’re also getting signals back.

So one way our conversation could go, and it can go anywhere you want, would be: what are you hearing from the young people that you’re interacting with, about where they’re heading; where they see those openings on the horizon? Where do you see their enthusiasm rising, along with the dread feeling of what we’re into? What are the trails that they are offering us, their somewhat elders and teachers? What are they showing us? Because the youth are really the visionaries of our moment.

Slide Anything shortcode error: A valid ID has not been provided

Nate Hagens

So hi, Vicki, happy to be here. Yes, that is a deep and important question. Of course, with all these questions, there are caveats. Let me start with this. Your podcast or your conversation is called, What could possibly go right? And implied in that are two assumptions.

Number one: that people’s priors are the same, their expectations of the future are the same, because what could go right or what could go wrong isn’t an absolute; it’s relative to what one expects. So if I said that 500 years from now, there would be 500 million humans alive, we would still have fully deeply oxygenated oceans, and that people would be ecologically literate and climate had been limited to one and a half degrees Celsius and then retreated. I would say that would be incredibly right, kind of irrespective of what happens this century.

The other assumption is what could possibly go right depends on what you care about. Some people have much wider boundaries of empathy and concern, and even ethics on how they would answer that question.

So getting back to your question, I would say that my students, there’s 263 of them so far, and I’m not teaching right now. But I did have 263 students who self-selected to take a class called Reality 101 – A survey of the human predicament. So they were already self-selected to have wider boundary analysis and empathy. I would say that, like most young people, they are a little bit frozen and shell-shocked by what’s happening. Even the last semester I taught was 2019 in the fall, and at that point, there were 30 to 35% of the students at the University of Minnesota who were on some sort of anti-psychotic, anti-depression, anti-anxiety medications. I was told by the guidance counselor that that’s pretty similar the country over, that was before COVID, before Ukraine and Russia, before other things.

So mental health is a serious issue with our youth and our population. I think one of the big takeaways that my students had is, I think I taught them things about the future, about energy and growth and using less and the bottlenecks of the 21st century, that they learned more scary things than they expected. But it was the knowing of them, it was the recognition and the acknowledgment and the sharing of the understanding of that path with others their own age, that they actually felt more exhilarated and more positive about the future, then had it just not been explained to them.

So when you asked me, what do I think the youth are thinking, I think it’s kind of a bimodal distribution. I can speak to my students, and then the general young people I come across. The general young people I think feel overwhelmed, they feel a big burden, and they just want to be distracted, and have good experiences and jobs and do something of meaning.

My students, paradoxically, are also different in their distribution. But some of them are actually rooting for collapse. Why? And this may be a naive wish, on their behalf, because they deeply care about the natural world. They think that the sooner we retreat from this level of overshoot, the better it will be for other species. I think there’s some big assumptions that go along with that, that belief, but it’s encouraging for me to see the ethos that was in the 1970s of the conservation movement, and Earth Day. And all that is still alive in young people. They feel a connection to the sacredness of the natural world, and they hold that much higher up in their priority list than the rest of us do.

On average. I think a lot of my students definitely do not feel the pull to get into the consumptive vortex of modern society with all kinds of gadgets and stuff. They’re much more aligned to going camping for the weekend with some friends. I don’t think many of them have a lot of money, so they don’t aspire to have shiny things to compare themselves to others. They compare themselves to their experiences and their ethics and the things that they’re working on. So I’ll stop there and let you respond. That’s my answer; short answer.

Vicki Robin

Thank you. There’s so much there. I love what you said about the boundaries of empathy, who or what is within your circle of concern. I think in a way, maturation is that capacity to expand your circle of concern, open channels in and channels out, to more than you and yours. But the thing that I’m interested in is – and I know the mentality where, in a way you can sort of cavalierly root for collapse, because you just can’t see any other way for this journey to stop. So I can understand, and I can understand to being a young person without much stake in the consumptive world being be able to do that rooting.

Nate Hagens

To be clear, I am not rooting for collapse. So we can talk about if you like…

Vicki Robin

No, no, I am not either.

Nate Hagens

It’s a “Be careful what you wish for” sort of scenario.

Vicki Robin

Well, it’s also as I say, it’s cavalier, because what we’re seeing right now – right now we’re recording as the war in Ukraine is pressing on – and you could step back, and you could say, of course, wars over resources; those were planted in our future, and here they are. So, of course, that’s just evidence of a piece of the collapse that’s happening. But if you have a heart, you can’t stand it.

I wonder about where you or I, from our seats of influence, small seats of influence, what guidance would you, if you had your students in front of you now. What would you be guiding them towards? You’re giving them this exhilarating sense of, you sort of have control again, because you can see what’s going on, even though you have no control over it. So there’s an exhilaration. But now then, what?

Nate Hagens

It’s an excellent question. I’m working on the answer to that right now. This is recorded on March 30th. So in three weeks from today is Earth Day, and every year I do an Earth Day talk, at the end of the semester with my students. They have no idea what I’m going to recommend to them. I asked them, What do you think I’m going to recommend? And it’s like, solar powered cars, and don’t eat meat, and don’t fly, and all these things. I recommend none of that.

In fact, I have very few what to do recommendations. I’Most of my suggestions to young people are in the realm of how to be alive at this time. I’m breaking that into three categories. Coping, because first of all, we are not alive at normal times. We didn’t evolve to handle this amount of frenetic stimulation, stress, anxiety, worry. There are coping mechanisms for how to deal with that.

The second category is how to thrive during this time, how to think positively and own your behaviors and sharpen the sword, because you are the sword; how to be more effective in the things that you care about, and how to live a meaningful life being alive at this time.

And the third category is transcend, which is, we are biological organisms and both individual and cultural evolution have brought us to this point. If you are a member of the species homo sapiens, there’s about a one in 10 chance that you’re alive right now. We evolved through the metabolism and momentum of our ancestors and the cultural information and passing the baton of values and technology and ethics and ideas have arrived at this point.

But there is a momentum in our system that is destroying the ecosystems of Earth, and it also is leading us over a cliff. On the other side of the cliff is a much smaller, simpler social organization and infrastructure. So to transcend means we have to recognize who we are, how we got here, what we’re doing, what we need, what the path ahead looks like, and kind of own all that. We’re the first species – well, we’re the first of our species in 300,000 years to be able to figure this all out.

I don’t know if you’re a Seinfeld devotee, but there was an episode, and I think Asher and Jason mentioned this on Crazy Town. There was an episode with George Costanza called Do The Opposite, right? In some ways, a lot of the things that we need to do to break out of this cycle is to do the opposite of what our impulses would be.

So there’s a real individual responsibility too. I’m learning yoga right now and one of the definitions of yoga is to control and direct the mind. Right now our mind is like a moth, being pulled towards a flame. That’s because the light impacts the circumnavigation of a moth that’s trying to figure out where it’s going, the angle of the moon, and it flies into a flame and gets zapped.

We’re doing the same thing with our technology and everything, and in aggregate, our reaching for the flame is creating a giant bonfire, not so metaphorically, on the planet. So we need to understand that in order to transcend it.

So some of my students are living their lives completely differently. As one example – again, I’m not advocating this, I’m just showing you some of the emergent responses. They learn about our hunter-gatherer instincts to get dopamine and unexpected reward. So they don’t buy food, they go in Minneapolis to dumpsters, and they dumpster-dive to get food, a lot of it. I find that weird, but they love it. They enjoy it, because it gives them the excitement and they don’t spend money and they feel like they’re living kind of their own adventure.

Now, of course, that’s not scalable, by definition. If we had 8 billion people going into dumpsters, what would the food be going into dumpsters, but it’s one example of they’re not measuring their success by cultural metrics of the consensus trance where we’re all looking at advertising and social media telling us how we should behave.

I don’t know if you saw, I’m sure you did see, the Will Smith thing on the Oscars. Like we’re on the verge of nuclear war, and everyone is tweeting about Chris Rock and Will Smith. But I think it has a deeper meaning to me, that the veneer of our social conversation is unraveling a little bit. I mean, why is the Oscars so important anyways? And now the fact that they couldn’t even get through that without some sort of insults and fisticuffs or whatever, it shows me that the prevalent cultural trance, the conversation that we’re all supposed to be interested in, believe in, is fraying.

So what my biggest hope is for young people – and I’m not so hubristic to think that my students will be the leaders of this, but they could be, I don’t know – is that we need pilots and examples of people living differently, that they’re living their lives not based on conspicuous consumption and having more than the other person, but that they have a higher standard of ethics and their own behavior that they care about other species and other generations. And that we use empathy and kindness, not as a social statement, but as an example of who we are.

Personally, all of my work on finance and energy and metabolism suggests that our culture will not change until we are forced to. And by forced to, I expect, what I refer to as a great simplification, which is a musical chairs moment when our financial claims on reality can no longer be supported by the reality. We’re not just going to lose one chair, we’re going to go from like 17 chairs down to 12, or 11, or something like that. It’s going to be widespread poverty, a lot of chaos and dislocations.

So the reason I tell my students how to be coping, thriving and transcending isn’t to save the planet, or the oceans or the future, per se. It’s to make them more resilient and more flexible for the future that I think is reasonably likely to come. Then, in turn, the more people there are like that, the more they might act as rocks in the river, because if you’re in a community like you are on Whidbey Island, if there’s 3 or 5 or 7% of people that define their success differently, and they are psychologically strong, and they don’t need all this consumption and gadgets and ostentatious displays of wealth, but they have skills and knowledge and networks; those people in turn then act as a stabilizing force for the entire community when things get tough.

So that’s all I’m really trying to do is build those rocks in the river for the next decade when the water starts coming fast. If you build enough of those rocks, not only are the rocks stable and they act as anchors for other people in the community, but if you build enough of the rocks, you might actually redirect the water in some emergent direction that we can’t get imagine.

Vicki Robin

You are a brother of another mother. We came into the world saying the same song, and now we’re just harmonizing, really, because it’s very much what I’m seeing. Just to ask myself my own question, what I see… There’s a sub-culture in the FIRE, financial independence, retire early. There’s a subculture in that culture, which the dominant note is pretty much a techie, really super-smart tech people figuring out the system and making it work to their advantage, which not a bad thing to do.

There’s a subculture that is really questioning, What is wealth? What is money? What is success? Really questioning. We’ve gotten very smart at manipulating the capitalist system, with our own sort of spin of sufficiency. We’ve gotten good at that, but the system is wrong, and how do we even build a secure future financially in an insecure world? So they’re asking really right questions that I love being around.

What I see, as a part of the migration I see there, is this understanding that there are multiple forms of capital, that we’ve been mesmerized by money as the intermediary to meet all needs for entertainment, for love, etc. It’s actually in the permaculture teaching, somebody articulated eight forms of capital, the things, the people, your networks, etc. Then there are permaculture teachers who are incorporating this teaching, that money is like an energy that flows through system like sunlight, so people are learning to unhook; unhook from money as the means, whether or not they get the whole, how far down the tubes we are. There’s a different empowerment.

It’s a little bit like the dumpster diving, and I very much appreciate that I’ve done that myself. We know that half the people in the world are out dumpster diving on a daily basis. I mean, that’s already this collapse, that mostly white people associated with us are facing, is already happening elsewhere.

So I see that creativity. I agree with this idea of rocks into a river and right now, in my community, our little city council constituted a climate crisis action committee. So the rocks in the river, the people I’m working with, really are my community’s rocks in the river, a few of them. But there’s lots more rocks in the river, and we’re trying to think, how does a whole town adapt, before the water has actually taken the first street.

Nate Hagens

I’ve tried this in my own community, and I don’t think it’s possible. I think 80% of people will never agree with Limits to Growth, resource depletion, ecological overshoot. They just won’t. So you have to talk to the people that are ready to listen. I think the story not only is so cognitively, emotionally difficult to get your head around, but paradoxically, at this eleventh hour, we’re going to be doing social things, and monetary things and technological things that make the curve look like this before it bends.

So these things are going to feel, the S&P is at 4600. Today, it doesn’t give the emotional signal to people that it’s effectively a musical chairs Ponzi situation, that when we sell stocks, bonds, commodities, everything else, we have to translate them into things that actually require energy and resources. And now with China, with Russia, potentially China and India, the whole global commodity system has moved into a phase shift between the relationship between monetary markers of reality and the biophysical underpinnings of reality.

So I don’t think communities are going to change ahead of time en masse, but what can change is the networks and the relationships in the communities. And so no matter what future happens, if there are networks and social capital built up, even with five to 10% of the citizens in a community, then you just have much, much more leverage to what’s coming. Alice and Bill and Kevin and Diane and I talked about this three years ago, let me call Alice, she knows how to do this, let me call Bill, he knows the mayor, and just the social networks, given some moderate infrastructure and resources are going to be the most important thing that we have in communities, in my opinion.

Vicki Robin

Yeah. And it’s the climate conversations, and it’s not the conversation about did you know how bad it is? And what are you willing to do now that you know how bad it is? That’s not the conversation, the conversation is more of a relational one. It could even be with, here’s some things that I noticed in our community I’m concerned about, I wonder if you’re concerned about it as well. What are you doing in relation to that? And here’s what I’m doing in relation to it? And then, would you like to do something together? Like, it’s, yeah, it’s a, but it’s not just a single conversation. It’s like a sustained conversation, a community is a conversation in a way.

Nate Hagens

At my core, I’m an environmentalist in that what I care the most about is living ecosystems and other species after I die. By but having said that, I’m upset by a lot of the narratives in the current environmental movement that just cast blame. And we’re screwed, because XYZ corporations or whatever, and it’s like a blame and a guilt. And I think we just need to have a different destination and go there in a positive way, like, we’re in a tough spot, we need to roll our sleeves up and start living differently, planning differently in relationship differently. And it’s got to be a more proactive message. Because the doom and gloom and blame is appealing to like the little fear module in our amygdala, but it only goes so far, it doesn’t want to have ownership in a community and a movement and an effort. I don’t know how to do those things. But I feel like the whole how are we going to live in the future has to be more love-based and community-based than fear-based because fear based will eventually move up the hierarchy to guns, gold and canned goods and things like that. And I don’t think that is going to be that prosocial of an outcome.

Vicki Robin

I totally agree. I love what you said about basically, it’s going to be the love. It’s going it’s not like, Oh, this isn’t our opportunity to love this is our love training. Like reframing. This is love training. No, that’s too superficial. It is going to be the the sincere quality of a heart of our hearts. Knowing that we’re in trouble together. We can we can spend another decade blaming each other, but that’s not going to help at all.

I wanted to hear what you have to say, because maybe you see something I don’t because, as one of the 13 grandmothers said when I heard her at her conference, she just kept repeating it. She says we’re all in a leaky  canoe, and we’ve all got a paddle. And so I think that’s the thing is, and the paddle is our skills and but our paddle is also love.

Nate Hagens

Having said that, I expect given the distribution of personalities in our culture and our species, there’s gonna be a lot of hate as well. And I’m not saying that we just need to kumbaya our way out of this but what I am saying is we have to lead with some sort of positive destination where people want to be affiliated with it, as opposed to just being afraid to leave their house. And then going insular and not creating community.

I think the biggest thing we can do now is have conversations, like you said, agree or disagree, we need facilitators, cultural facilitators that just build relationships, and they don’t have to be strong relationships. But I think the most important thing that I think is, I do not know what’s going to happen in the future, I’m quite sure about what won’t happen in the future. But I don’t know what will.

And so the more people that we have that can kind of squint and see what the distant horizon kind of looks like, which is, we’re probably at a minimum gonna have to use 30% less as a culture in material throughput in the coming 10 years or so. That doesn’t have to be a disaster, if that alone happened, we would still be one of the richest material generations in the history of our species. It’s the loss aversion from here down to here. That’s what we’re worried about, and the nonlinear dynamics of the the journey to get to that point.

But I have trained myself, and I think some of my students have adopted this, to look at this all as a little bit of an adventure that you have a role to play. And you’re thumbing a ride in the direction of a better culture, a better destination. And rather than say, Oh, how can I take advantage of what’s coming and invest in the right things? To shift a little bit of of your direction and your thinking into, okay, here’s where I live, this is my situation on the island I live in or in the state that I live in. How can I help? What would be the one or two or three things that I’m good at? And I think in a scenario like that, where we’re in kind of a rolling Great Depression, how can I help, because helping a group of humans of 30 or 100, humans, and being a valued part of that community is one of the strongest rewards that we could get in our in our past, irrespective of monetary electrons in the bank or how much we have, etcetera.

So there are no easy answers, I’m pretty confident that the kicking the can of our debts that we’ve accumulated over the last 50 years using more debt is got a expiration date in the next decade. And so my antidote to that, for young people and not young people is training your mind and becoming okay with less material consumption and building social networks, building social capital, and skills and having a little bit of a love based, adventure based outlook on the future instead of fear based.

Vicki Robin

I think that’s great. And I there’s an awful lot of young people I know who are up for that journey. It’s almost like the being robbed of the opportunity to go on the old journey of marriage, family, house, yard. Being robbed of that, and going through the big gyp of this is unfair. I think there’s people who are getting up for it. And I think it’s a beautiful message.

Nate Hagens

There are people. The question is, how do we scale it? Because you’re right, we have very small position, small seats of influence. And it’s being counterveiled by the entire university system, graduate high school and come and pay $100,000 for this education, that half of it is really useful. And the other half is trivia that mattered to the last 50 years. And you’re gonna have to go in debt to do it.

I mean, our whole education model needs to change to fit what future is likely coming. But the education system, the university system is a miniature super organism seeking money and energy and influence and access. And it’s the momentum of that is really hard to change. I think it has to change though, because the value proposition of the millions or 10s of millions of young people that are going to college every year isn’t what it was when you and I went to college.

Vicki Robin

Yeah, no. So here’s where I have some undue enthusiasm, maybe or due enthusiasm for for the people in this socially conscious FIRE subgroup because when we started talking about the big quit, and I asked, because here are people who are like, getting themselves in position to not have to go to, a nine to five job and work for somebody else. Except it’s not nine to five anymore. It’s like 24/7.

Basically I asked them, what do you think is behind this? What’s happening? And of course, it’s some of it is that people were close enough to retirement, that they could just not go back. But what it boiled down to it was, the game is not worth the candle. The guys at the top are making out like bandits and they’re not even offering me a penny more. And it’s in a way, it’s beneath me.

They’re figuring out how to survive. A lot of them are very much doing something that I think is an interim strategy, and it doesn’t have a lot of nobility to it, but it’s it’s called geoarbitrage. They’re just like, I have enough money in order to be able to live someplace. It’s extraordinarily cheap on very little. And I’m going to do that, they put all their possessions in a backpack and they become nomads. They’re nomads, whether they’re digital nomads or not, so I think there’s going to be a lot of that.

I think van life is like exploding. People are beginning to see, okay, I’m not sure it’s healthy or unhealthy, but I think the piece of it that is healthy is that people are getting empowered in relationship with the crashing of the old story. And that’s what I like.

Nate Hagens

Until gasoline is five or $10 a gallon. That may change van life a little bit.

Vicki Robin

But of course.

Nate Hagens

You can still have a van life. You just don’t move the van.

Vicki Robin

Exactly. Or you get a horse…

Nate Hagens

We have very few horses relative to the 1920s. We have a tiny fraction of the viable breeding stock that we did 100 years ago.

Vicki Robin

Totally. No, that was flippant, but it’s like when…

Nate Hagens

I have three horses and they’re basically giant compost machines. We buy food for them, they poop it out, the manure we put on the gardens. I am like a treat dispenser. They have zero respect for me. They see me and they expect a carrot or something. Other than that, they just ignore me.

Vicki Robin

It reminds me of when I did my 10 mile diet on Whidbey Island trying to see if I can eat within 10 miles of my home. And to tell people about the experiment, like the ferry stops running, the bridge goes down, that ah, how are we going to eat? It’s no problem, because we have a lot. My town is famous for an infestation of bunnies. We’ll eat the bunnies. I said, Yeah, that’s a day. And then we’ll eat the deer. Well, that’s another day.

Nate Hagens

That’s one of the things they don’t teach us in college  or high school, where our food comes from. Most people think it comes from the Piggly Wiggly or the Safeway or whatever you have out there.

Yeah, let me get back to one thing you said at the very beginning, just so I’m clear on that. I think collapse is definitely possible. Anyone paying attention, has to realize that collapse in all its manifestations is possible. And it’s happening in places right now. Ukraine is enduring collapse, Syria and other places, Bangladesh, various stages, but I don’t think collapse in the next 20 or 30 or 40 years is certain. It’s certainly a possibility.

But I think we have this cultural conversation around it, that it’s binary. It’s either a collapse or not a collapse. And I think there are gradations to it. And the most likely scenario is not a collapse. But a muddling through, where we peak and then decline and have another small peak and kind of this lower peaks and growth and humans are going to figure shit out along the way. I think that’s more likely than a collapse.

But I that’s why I think when you prepare about the future, it’s difficult to even have these conversations because people can’t hold multiple scenarios in their head too easily. Which is why how to be as a recommendation I think fits all these scenarios; where you are less reliant on a high income, high mobility situation and you get your evolutionary neurotransmitters matching the emotional states of our ancestors in ways that require less material throughput and money. And you also have to inject in there some part of your life and routine to be one that has deep meaning to you. And I think if that’s the recipe or the advice for young people, I think there’s a million ways to follow that path. Even despite the storm clouds on our cultural horizon.

Vicki Robin

Right, there’s like three paths that I could take off right on there. I mean, the binary mind, I think being able to have more than two options for anything. It’s a social insanity. Black-and-white, either-or thinking, is one of the definitions of insanity, that your mind has gone rigid. Cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the first cognitive mistakes they teach you, is black and white thinking. It’s all one way or it’s all another, I just did a whole thing on what could possibly go right, a little talk on the binary mind, that that’s one of the things that hopefully is going to start cracking open.

Nate Hagens

But the binary mind is easier for people. It uses less energy and less cognitive bandwidth, it’s easier to have things in black and white, but the truth and the nuance and the meaning, and probably the creative directions are in the middle that are not black and white.

Vicki Robin

Well, I mean, or you could say that it’s the maturation of the mind, it’s like fight or flight, these sorts of things that we just need to we, we need to be able to interrogate the consequences of our black and white thinking and, and start to link up the, the effects with the cause, the proper causes, that my neighbour, is not the cause of my problem, the cause of my problem is that I couldn’t see another solution other than the one that’s bothering him.

I think that capacity to link your behavior to the effects in your life, rather than somebody else’s behavior,  nobody’s to blame, it’s just being able to start to see that so that you can see, this is Buddhism, you can start to see that the the suffering that you’re bringing upon yourself, by the way, you engage in the way your mind engages with interpreting the immense input of the world in front of us.

Nate Hagens

I agree with that. I think what you call maturity of thinking, we have a ticking clock on this cultural transition. And as things get more chaotic, the default of blaming the neighbour for your situation is going to escalate. So I think building personal flexibility and getting to know your neighbours, you don’t have to agree with them, you might politically totally disagree with them. But find things that you do agree. So you have a detente, neutral, real relationship with lots of people is probably one of the best recommendations I could give. And it’s hard.

I live in the country and I go for bike rides, not in the winter, I don’t but now it’s approaching spring. And I try to stop at one person’s house. Every time if especially if they’re working in the yard, I just stop and introduce myself. And so I’ve met like 150 people in the last two summers by doing that, and I live in a rural county. But I feel good about that. I’m not their best friends. But I’ve created a little bit of a tether back to the way our ancestors live because we’re so insulated and rich living in our houses where we just click on Amazon and the next day there’s stuff arrives at our doorstep. We are so freakin spoiled with that. That model will not last.

It’s really so then, another part of the thriving is gratitude. Oh my god, how amazing it is to be alive now. Despite all the chaos. So to everyday be thankful for the experiences and, and abilities that we have. I can get on my computer and find the answer to any question my mind can imagine. Within a few minutes, I mean, we have the library of all human knowledge ever at our fingertips. We just take it for granted.

Vicki Robin

Wow. Well, so I think I’d like to stop us on the note of gratitude. People used to ask me, do you have a tip for like reducing my consumption? And I said, Yeah, gratitude, the more grateful you are for what is and what you have, the less able you are you just you can’t even get beyond putting on your shoes and gratitude for your shoes, so much less getting the next pair. So I think gratitude is one of those pro social, pro unraveling skills among the many that you share with us and I really, really, really thank you because I have so many people in mind that I am excited that they will be able to hear this particular episode.

Nate Hagens

I’m grateful that our paths crossed and that we’ve become friends.

Vicki Robin

Me too. Me too.

Vicki Robin

Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer, speaker, and host of the What Could Possibly Go Right? podcast. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). And author of Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking Penguin, 2013), which recounts her adventures in... Read more.