We should always aim to do things in our life that are meaningful, instead of doing things that give us the quickest results.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: So, today I want to talk about the kind of purpose and how important it is to seek things with purpose and meaning instead of going something after something that gives you like a very quick reward. So Jordan Peterson has a rule on his first 12 rules, for life, his book. And he says it’s, as he calls the rule, it pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient. So I’m gonna break this down a little bit. So, pursue what is meaningful. So seek things that give you purpose, give you meaning. And when he says, not what is expedient, like things that are quick, think of like expedited or express, right? That word expedient means something that is quick. So I just wanna talk, you know, kind of go back and forth and have a good conversation about this with you today. And what this means to us. So I’ll start a little bit and what I mean to say by this rule is just because something gives you a faster result today doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for you in the long term. So hard things build character. And that’s something people say a lot, but it’s something I truly believe in. And that’s because we grow as people when we have to deal with challenges. And maybe we get even more mature, I think, and eventually, we grow strong enough to do even harder things than the last thing we did. Yeah. But sometimes it’s easier for people to aim for things that have quick results instead of doing things that make us stronger, better people. So let’s say I have been eating a lot of junk food, which happens a lot cuz that is like, my drug is junk food. Oh yes. I am obsessed with it and I wanna feel better, like, cuz I feel terrible and I wanna stop this habit. So, but the junk food gives me what’s called a dopamine rush. So you have this thing in your brain called dopamine, which is like, it’s like your pleasure, chemical. So, if you, like, what’s the word I’m looking for? Achieve a goal. Yeah. You’re gonna get dopamine. Your brain’s gonna be like, good job, you did this and it’s gonna feel great. Now, that also happens though, if you eat something delicious like sugar, right? , but it’s not going to give you the sa it’s not the same kind of quality of dopamine, right? Yeah. Okay. So when I eat junk food, even though I feel really unhealthy afterwards, I feel great in the moment, right? I eat that sugar, I’m like, this is the best thing I’ve ever had. So it feels great. And then I feel really bad afterward because it’s not healthy. So, instead, I want it to feel healthy and I decided I was gonna go running or I was gonna go to the gym. That’s not easy, right? deciding to do that is not easy and it’s gonna take longer for me to get that dopamine hit. Yeah. Because I’m gonna feel great. And I say this isn’t just a hypothetical this is kind of what I’m going through right now. I’ve been running a lot again recently and I haven’t run since the summer. I get really bad about it in the winter. And I’m trying to really push myself, instead of just running like for fun, I’m trying to set goals. Yeah. So instead of sitting and eating carbs, which I love, I’ve been forcing myself to go the gym, but after I run my three miles without stopping, I feel great Emma. Like I have the same rush I feel when I’m eating that like, snicker bar or that delicious cupcake. Yeah. But this is a lasting feeling, right? Yes. Because I know that I’ve achieved something, I’ve done something really, really hard and now I’m getting that quality like, of accomplishment. So yes. So that’s kind of what, it’s just a long-winded way to say, yeah. That’s something, pursuing something that is meaningful, right? Me being healthy, me feeling like I can achieve goals rather than just doing something that, you know that is in the moment. Or even like diet pills, things that people used to do to try to get quick, like the quick fix situation, right? So, doing things that are hard and feeling like you’re getting that meaning and purpose. So, Emma, I wanna kick it to you now and see if you have any of these examples you wanna talk about.
Emma: Absolutely. The one that really comes to mind is kind of what you were talking about with healthy eating habits and exercise. I really, really love lifting weights. It makes me feel so good. I get so much energy from it. And I really love the challenge of continually putting on more weight and being able to pick something up that just a couple of weeks ago I wouldn’t have been able to pick up. It’s a really addicting feeling, but for me, I get such a hard time just getting myself to go to the gym and it’s so close to my house. It’s like there’s no good reason not to go. But it’s a constant challenge where I have to tell myself I need to be the kind of person that doesn’t skip a workout. And that’s actually something from a really, really good book called Atomic Habits by James Clear, amazing book if you wanna read more about forming good habits. But he has a thing in there where he says, it’s not necessarily always about what you do in the gym, it’s about being the kind of person that doesn’t miss a workout. And I think that’s so brilliant because again, it’s not necessarily just, oh, well if I go workout, I’m tired. It won’t even be a good workout anyway. It’s, no, I’m gonna go because I made a commitment to myself that I’m gonna, you know, go through this plan. Cuz I use a training plan that basically tells me what I need to do each time. And it’s about following through on the plan. And I do think that has a spillover effect into the rest of your life. Where when you are keeping your promises to yourself, it actually, it has this huge impact on other areas where, you know, maybe you keep your promise to yourself to do your workout and then later that day you’re like, Hey, my laundry pile is getting massive. I’m gonna actually do the laundry and fold it and put it all away instead of letting it sit there until I, you know, need to buy new clothes instead of washing these ones. Like, it just, it’s so easy for things for bad habits to pile up, but when you have good habits, the same thing can happen where there’s this like butterfly effect where you have this one little thing that you do and then it carries over into the rest of your day. And I find that exercise and eating healthy are really, really closely related. And kind of like you said, Brittany, there’s the idea of not eating this junk food, this fast food, I’m trying to eat more slow food that takes a long time to be ready. So for instance, right now as I’m recording this, I have a pot of bone broth going on my stovetop. And to make bone broth, you have to basically really slow simmer these bones for 48 hours if it’s beef. Cuz that’s how you get all the way through and get all the good nutrients out of it. And it takes a long time. It takes preparation. it would be much easier for me to drive to Chick-fil-a five minutes from my house and get a Chick-fil-A sandwich. And there’s nothing wrong with Chick-fil-A every now and then, at least, you know, for me. But that’s not gonna be the basis of my diet. I want these healthy, slow foods that take a long time to be what I base my diet off of. And it doesn’t mean that it needs to consume my whole life, but that meaningful stuff, the nutrients that I’m getting, you know, having those healthy habits, it has such a better effect on me. It makes me feel so much better than long term than, you know, skipping my workout and eating fries and a chicken sandwich. You know what I mean? Which
Brittany: Which are delicious. But again, it’s not.
Emma: I Love that. Oh yeah.
Brittany: So one thing that I was watching a video Peterson was saying before of Peterson before we recorded this morning, and he talked about, there’s this quote like, it’s easier to stay with the devil, you know than the devil you don’t. And that quote means it’s easier to stick to what you know than to get yourself outta your comfort zone. Yeah. And to pursue what is, not speaking the opposite. To pursue what is meaningful, you have to get out of your comfort zone. So to pursue what is meaningful, you have to say, I don’t like the way I’m doing this. I need to improve it. Yeah. So for me, loving junk food, it’s not easy to build these habits like when I’m eating sugar a lot. And then to give up that habit all of a sudden and do something harder is not easy. Right. It’s very difficult. Oh yeah. And you get grumpy and sometimes it’s like you get sad cause you don’t know how you’re gonna be able to do it. But you have to be willing to take those risks and to say, all right, I’m gonna be courageous. I’m going to be the, you know, hero in my own story and I’m gonna try to better myself by doing something that scares me. So I lived in dc I moved to DC about 10 years ago, but then I moved away and I moved back. and moving back was very scary. Cause it was the first time when I moved here before I had like, done it with somebody. And moving here alone was very scary for me because I hadn’t been very independent for most of my life. But I really wanted to show that I could be the person I wanted to be, that I didn’t have to rely on anybody to help me pay for rent or to. Yeah. Earn a living. And so I moved back to DC and I had given all my possessions away. So I moved literally with like nothing. And I started from scratch and that was about four years ago. And it was very scary. But I look back at just four years ago and I think about how much of a different person I’ve become and how I’ve learned to become very independent and I don’t really need anybody else to feel like I can’t survive on my own. And so that was very scary and it, I didn’t wanna do it and there were times I wanted to give up, but, but I tried to pursue what was meaningful. I tried to build that purpose and so it would’ve been easier for me to just live how I’d been living most of my life. But I didn’t wanna do that anymore. So I didn’t stay with the devil I knew. Right. I tried something else. I tried to be. Yeah. To be bolder. So that’s one reason. I mean, I love Jordan Peterson for lots, for lots of reasons. I think he’s very good at advice and even when he’s gone through hard stuff, that actually makes me follow his advice more because I don’t like perfect heroes because nobody is perfect. Right? Yes. Like, look at even the heroes in the, you know, movies we like to watch. Yeah. Everybody has a flaw. A hero without a flaw is a poorly written hero because nobody wants to see somebody who’s just perfect all the time. Right. Yeah. Very annoying. I wanna see people suffer. No, I mean, I don’t, that sounded wrong. I mean, I wanna see people go through really hard things and then come out even stronger. Absolutely. And so I think that not only has been something that Peterson has shown us how to do and he’s done himself, but that comes through in this rule a lot because to, so one thing in the hero’s journey is you have to have what’s called like your dark night of the soul. Yeah. You have to go through a very hard time. And I think when we make that realization that we wanna pursue what is meaningful and not what is, you know, expedient or quick, yeah. We have to go through kind of a hard realization of why is it that I have to do this. Why am I not pursuing something meaningful right now? Yeah. Why did it take me this long to figure out not to do that? So I think that’s really important. Emma, do you have any more like examples or a personal, I love to hear personal anecdotes of things that have reminded you of this.
Emma: Absolutely. I mean, I think it’s sort of similar to what you said when I first got to DC I was 19 years old. I had to pay my own rent and I worked this, I worked at the deli where I would go in at like three in the morning and make bagels in my hometown before going out to intern cuz I wanted to have enough rent money saved cuz interns don’t get paid very much. And it was very challenging. I had actually never even really been to DC I had passed through when I was a super, super young kid. I didn’t know what I was getting into, didn’t know what to expect. And in a lot of ways it was very challenging. Even just culturally, Brittany, I’m sure you can attest to this, the west coast and the east coast are extremely different. And yes, it’s like, almost like going to another country, it’s just completely different in ways that I probably couldn’t even explain. But just the things that you’re familiar with and your norms and even the scenery and the pace of life is so different. And then add on top of that, living independently for the first time, not being around my parents when I was sick, I had to figure out if I was gonna go to the doctor or if I was gonna try to stick it out at home. And there were times where I had just no money, like truly no money, like eating the cheapest thing off of the Chipotle menu and then stretching it out with more beans and rice. And it was challenging. But I look back on that as such a formative time in my life where I had some relationships that declined and that kind of, that kind of went away during that time. And then I had new relationships that started that were really amazing and I’m still friends with those people today. And it was kind of like you said Brittany, like that dark night of the soul, figuring out what you want and what’s meaningful in your life and what needs to go. And I think sometimes when you’re in those hard times where everything gets stripped away and you really, you’re fending for yourself and it’s tough. You can learn so much about yourself, even if it’s scary and even if you decide later that you know, hey, this thing didn’t work out for me just because I’m not still living in DC and I live somewhere else now and I don’t really work even really in the same field that I started out in. It was such a good experience and such a good learning experience for me to go out and do those things on my own. So I highly recommend as you start thinking about what do I want my life to look like when I’m an adult for the kids listening be okay with taking those risks. And it doesn’t mean that it always has to work out perfectly the way that you thought it would. If that happens, that doesn’t mean that the whole thing was a bust and it wasn’t worth it. You can learn so much about yourself by taking those risks and you don’t have to move across the country to do that. You can find ways to take those risks and whatever works for you and whatever you want your life to look like. But that’s, that’s one of the bigger reasons I love Jordan Peterson so much, is he always talks about the benefits of taking on challenges and learning about yourself. So that’s one thing you guys have probably noticed Brittany and I have in common. We love talking about this stuff. Brittany, anything else you wanna add on this before we wrap it up today?
Brittany: Nope, I think, you know, I think we covered it and when you get a little older read Jordan Peterson.
Emma: Absolutely yes. And even now you can watch some of his videos on YouTube. If you have a parent help you pull some up. Some of them are kind of hard to understand at first, but he’s a brilliant guy with so much to offer. So highly recommend checking that out. And don’t be afraid to take risks and pursue what is meaningful and not expedient. We will talk to you guys all again soon. Thanks for listening and like I said, talk to you soon. Talk
Brittany: Talk to you soon.