Happiness and health are two topics that have been widely researched throughout history but only in recent years have become scientifically linked. As the connections between mental health and physical health have become undeniable, doctors and researchers alike are beginning to examine the impact of our mental well-being on our physical bodies. The study of happiness extends to the decisions people make that lead them down the path they have chosen for their lives.
Enter Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. Dr. Chatterjee has been practicing medicine for over 20 years and is considered one of the most influential medical doctors in the UK. His goal is to help 100 million people live healthier lives.
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For most of us, the path we choose to pursue as we grow up is largely influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of our caregivers and early influences in life. Children are molded by what they see in the actions of those around them, whether it be gentle nudging from the most well-meaning parents or adverse stimuli from traumatic events. Early life paves a highway before us as we begin to understand our environment and its social norms, expectations, and beliefs. And from those beginnings, most tend to choose a lane on that highway even when we pursue what we think is our own independent goals and ambitions.
For Dr. Rangan, being raised by parents who were immigrants from India to the UK came with it the pressures to not only pursue higher education in medicine but also aim for the top of his class. Dr. Rangan was raised by a father who was a doctor and surrounded by his father’s friends who were also in medicine. As Dr. Rangan was also naturally inclined to care about others and help them (as he learned from watching his mother), he was drawn to pursue a medical degree. However, as he discovered years into his career, even though he appeared to be successful, he did not feel content with his path. Something wasn’t quite aligned. His label of “Doctor” didn’t bring the happiness he thought it would.
Labels and Identity
Right from the early years of school comes a pressure to work towards an identity in a career or label. Children are asked all the time, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, giving the illusion that they should have even an inkling of whom they want to be as adults. And when we do pursue and achieve the titles we work towards (doctor, lawyer, salesman, writer, mother) those labels often become so closely intertwined with our identities that if we lose that title or status we often end up in a complete identity crisis.
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Dr. Rangan and I spoke at length about the limiting factors that labels bring with them and challenged the thought that by early adulthood we must know and lock in what we are going to be and that is the label we will be tied to for life. He is so much more than just a doctor, as he described himself as a husband, father, writer, podcast and television host and singer/songwriter. And he shared about how it took him many years into being a doctor to really find his place and what he is meant to do.
I have spoken about this before, how the need to choose a career and then put 30-40 years in to reach retirement and get the watch is an outdated model. While it has got us to where we are today, it is not going to get us to the next level of consciousness in society.
Trends are shifting to people seeking more autonomy and personal freedom, and the tendency to have numerous career arcs throughout is no longer uncommon. On a recent show, my dear friend Nabil Ayers also shared his unconventional journey through education that brought him ultimately to where he wanted to be. As we shed the need to have a label to identify us we become free to explore what we want in life and the lifestyle we want to live.
Lifestyle and Health
Through Dr. Rangan’s career as a medical doctor, he began to discover that lifestyle was one of the biggest contributors to the illnesses and diseases his patients were facing. Not only that, but he also discovered that minor lifestyle adjustments could bring significant improvements or even eliminate these conditions, without the need for medication or surgery. Dr. Rangan sees the four pillars of health as food, movement, sleep and relaxation and says that just simple adjustments and changes in these areas little by little will bring major improvements to life and health. On his show “Doctor in the House”, Dr. Rangan followed families with chronic illnesses for 4-6 weeks and as he prescribed lifestyle adjustments, the families’ lives were radically changed in their quality of health.
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As Dr. Rangan’s book, “Happy Mind, Happy Life” is released this spring we got onto the topic of happiness and how it truly is a key to living a full life. Dr. Rangan says happiness is truly an inside job and he calls this concept “core happiness”. He gave three very practical areas we can train in our lives that he calls the happiness stool: alignment, contentment, and control. Alignment is when the person you are on the inside matches the person you are out in the world, where your inner values and external actions match up. Contentment is focusing and giving time to the things that truly make you feel content and at peace. Control is not about controlling external events, but about doing things daily that give you a sense of control over your life. These things may be a morning or afternoon routine you have of exercise or mediation, it could be journaling or taking photos. Dr. Rangan shared that training these areas in your life is like a muscle that will become stronger the more you train.
Rewriting Stories to Change Your Perspective
An area that can be difficult to train is when we are triggered negatively by events out of our control and then react out of that triggered state. This is often one of the quickest ways we can lose our state of contentment and revert to our learned patterns that are often unhealthy. One of his favorite tips that Dr. Rangan shared around this was learning how to rewrite stories to make them what he calls “happiness stories”.
As Dr. Rangan shared that he has lived much of his life with a victim mindset and felt controlled by the thoughts and actions of people around him, he also said that he has never felt so good as he has in the last five years. He attributes this largely to the training he has done in rewriting stories. The concept is that whenever we are negatively triggered by something, if we learn to rewrite the story into something that doesn’t trigger us (for example, if we receive a nasty email from a boss and then rewrite the meaning to understand that the boss was likely facing difficulty to send that email), we can maintain our logical brain and make better choices in our responses. He shared a quote by Viktor Frankl that encompassed this well:“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Viktor Frankl Click To Tweet
Ultimately, everything we spoke of today was about making small changes in our lives and training different skills to bring us to a place where we can feel most happy and content with life and truly be who we want to be.
My conversation with Dr. Chatterjee certainly one of my favs. I hope you enjoy the show and make sure to check out his new book, Happy Mind, Happy Life.
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Highlights from the Show:[00:00] Intro [08:30] BBC’s “Doctor in the House” [12:44] Pushing back on childhood conditioning [23:58] Lifestyle plays a huge role in our health [28:28] Labels and identity [47:36] Four key pillars of health [48:36] Happiness and mental wellbeing [50:23] Three legs of the core happiness stool [54:08] Choose the happiness story [1:09:56] Master your own emotions [1:15:35] Practical tips [1:21:06] Where to follow Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
Chase Jarvis: Hey everybody. What's up? It's Chase. Welcome to another episode of The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show here on CreativeLive. The show where I sit down with incredible humans and I unpack their brain with the goal of helping you live your dreams. My guest today is Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. Now, you may know that name, especially if you're in the UK, because he is one of the top medical professionals in the UK. He's got a number one ranked health podcast and a popular television show called Doctor in the House where he, through very simple methods of lifestyle change rather than prescribing surgeries and medications has helped numerous people, completely transform their lives. This is available to all of us regardless of our station in life, and it's fascinating to hear his experiences translated in the show and other areas of storytelling. He's got an incredible book that we talk about and his podcast, which we go into depth about, but this is available to you right now.
Chase Jarvis: A handful of highlights. We talk about the top three or four pillars of health, food, movement, sleep, and the surprise addition, relaxation. We talk about the value of having personal values as a lens through which you make decisions, and how important it is to recognize that you do not need a complete overhaul of your life to go from where you are to where you want to be. The surprise lies in its tweaking just a handful of details. It's incredibly inspirational to realize how close we are or could be to living our dreams. And you're going to tap into this here with yours truly, and Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. Now, onto the show.
Chase Jarvis: Rangan, thank you so much for being on this show. It's been, I think, 18 months in the making to get you here, but we're very, very happy and welcome.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Thank you so much, Chase. I'm a big fan. I'm pretty excited to be on your show. So thank you.
Chase Jarvis: Well, speaking of shows, before we get into intros, I'll call it, big fan of your show and wow, what a force of nature. A thing is, it's the number one health show in the UK, and I've seen it the top of the podcast charts quite a bit over the past year. So you've got your own show that is very, very impressive. And we're grateful to have you here.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Hey, not at all. As we were just saying, I love doing my podcast. I think podcasting is just an incredible medium. And I think the fact that podcasting is blowing up and exploding across the planet, I think really speaks to what it is. I think, for me, podcasting is like a modern day campfire, isn't it? It's the connection that we're missing in our real lives that we're getting when we go on our walks or we're washing dishes or whatever. We hear these, I think intimate conversations that people are having on their podcasts. And truly having my show, yes, I know it helps lots of people, but I've got to say it's really helped me. I feel I've discovered so much more about who I am through having this weekly podcast. And yeah, I don't do it because it's successful. I always ask myself the question with lots of things in life, would you still be doing this if nobody was watching you? And honestly, with podcasting, I genuinely believe I would be. I think this is something I do, yes, for the audience, but I also do it for myself.
Chase Jarvis: Well, there was a couple clues about some of the things that I want to speak with you about in your answer there. But before we get into that, before I start pressing you for all your wisdom. For those, the handful of listeners who may be new to you or your work, I was wondering if you could start off our show by just telling a little bit about yourself, your focus, your area of interest, the fact that you are a doctor and that you're also an entrepreneur, I think that's fascinating. But give us a little background to get us started today.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. So as we speak, I've been a practicing medical doctor for almost 21 years now. So a long time. And I grew up in a family of Indian immigrants to the UK in the 1960s, and like many Indian immigrants, they prioritize academic success. And many of us grew up in families where really the only two or three options available to us are medicine, law, or engineering. That is the reality, I've learned as a parent myself, having been around the UK filming documentaries. I've really seen that as a child, what you're exposed to hugely determines your reality and what you think is possible in the world. So for me, I was surrounded by doctors with my dad and his friends. So yeah, I ended up becoming a doctor now. Yes. I've always been drawn to caring for other people.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I know it's almost a cliche, but it really is true. I think I learned that from my mother who was always very good at looking after people. So I think medicine was the right move for me back then. But honestly, if I knew why I did it when I was 17 or 18, I honestly don't know, that's the truth. It's not the answer that people want to hear from doctors, but that's the honest truth. Now, over the last 10 years, I found my passion within medicine, but it took me some time. And so my whole thing is about trying to really help people understand that the way they live their life day-to-day massively influences the way they feel now, but also their overall health. To the point where I would say 80 to 90% of what we see as medical doctors is in some way related to our collective modern lifestyles, right? That much.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So I've been through lots of experiences in my life, but essentially in 2015, BBC One, the biggest TV channel in the UK chose me to host a brand new show called Doctor in the House. And basically on that show, I would live alongside families. So maybe four to six weeks, they all had chronic health problems. And I pretty much helped every family either reverse their problems or significantly improve them. And all I did was I helped them make small changes to their lifestyle. I didn't prescribe any medication. It was all done naturally. And it really showed a lot of people what is possible when we pay attention to our lifestyle. So that was my first, I guess the first time I had a big public profile and I was able to understand that through the media, you can actually really impact positive change in the world.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I did two series of that show. It's been shown in 70 countries around the world, but that's led to me having books out there. I've written a book a year for the last five years and I started my own podcast, maybe four and a half years ago nearly. And I'm just committed. My stated mission is I want to help improve the lives of a hundred million people over the course of my career. And in some ways I have no way of measuring that, and in some ways that doesn't really matter. It's just an aspirational goal that helps me decide where I'm going to put my attention and my energy. When opportunities come in, my question is, "Well, will this help me get to a hundred million or will it not?" And that doesn't mean there's no value in helping one individual person, of course there is.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: But time is limited, there's only so much we can do. So I guess my main mission with everything I do is to really help every single individual believe and understands that they can be the architect of their own health and happiness. And that's my goal is to inspire them and give them practical tools that basically whether you are rich or you are poor, to me it doesn't matter. I want to come up with a health advice and life advice that's going to work for you. It's very, very important to me. So a lot more I could say there, Chase, but that's kind of like a rough overview. I hope that's clear.
Chase Jarvis: Oh, it's brilliant. Brilliant. And again, you've dropped a handful of hints that I'm going to do my best to uncover over the course of our conversation today. And toward that end, I would like to start with the idea that you mentioned around podcasting and media as an opportunity to, I'll say push your message. But I think it's probably maybe better said in supporting the 100 million people, and helping the 100 million people as a part of your goal. So it's fascinating to me that you, through the pressures of convention of family and presumably some of your own desire, you pursued medicine. But what's more interesting is the fact that you're now not just a doctor, you're a doctor, you're a TV host, you're a podcast host, you're an author. And I'm wondering if you can comment on, and this would be true for anyone in any profession.
Chase Jarvis: If you're a lawyer, a doctor, a shoe salesman, a shoe saleswoman, if you have any job, we now largely on the back of wanting to expand the reach of our impact. You now have a half a dozen jobs. And whether you think of them as jobs or roles or opportunities, I think that's interesting. And I was hoping you could talk to me a little bit about the idea that you are more than just a doctor. Was that natural to you? Did you just pull on that thread because of this big vision and mission that you had for yourself? Or when did you awaken to this opportunity?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I think for me what happened was, I was very much like a lot of us a results of my childhood and my conditioning. So it's not that I'm not proud of going to medical school. Yes I was, but it was my norm. All my peers were doing that. So actually for me, it was kind of no big deal. It was just, well, everyone goes to medical school or law school. Yeah. I'm going to medical school. Now, I remember when I was at university, I spent a lot of time, a very keen musician. I had a band at university, we'd play a lot. And I remember in third year of medical school coming back for the Christmas holidays and I told my parents, "Hey guys, I'm going to," I was doing an honours degree in immunology that year is a, just as part of my medical degree.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I said, "Look, I think I'm going to quit. At the end of the year I get my immunology degree, and then I'm going to go on the road with my bands." And I remember my dad wouldn't talk to me. My mom had to keep the peace between my dad and me. And Chase, I'm not reflects on that for a long time, but I actually think that was the first expression of some discontent that, was this my choice or was this a passive choice? I don't think I knew what to do with that. I don't think I necessarily thought I was going to quit. But I think I was just pushing back a little bit and saying, "Hey, listen, what does this look like if I say I'm going to quit?" Anyway, my mom said, "Hey, listen, why don't you just finish medical school? I know you want to be a musician. You want to go on the roads. Just get your medical degree and then do it."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Now, where does that go to? You asked me, when did I almost awaken to these possibilities? The truth is, is that it was a couple of serious life events. So I was a doctor. I was working in hospital medicine, but I was getting really frustrated. I thought, "I did my specialist exams. I was working in kidney medicine," and I thought, "I can't spend the rest of my career just seeing kidneys." I'm a people person. I thought, "I want to get to know people. I want to see different symptoms in different parts of the body and see how they interact with each other." So I took the step to move from specialist to general practice. And again, my dad was a bit confused.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: He was like, "Well, why would you do all your specialist exams and then become," I think in dad's head me generalist. But to me, I wanted to see everything and see how everything connected. So couple of things happened. One day in my career, I remember at the end of my day, looking at my patient list and I saw, look, I've seen maybe 40, 45 patients today. How many have I really helped? And honestly, Chase, I thought 20% of these people I've really helped, the other 80% I've just given them either a medication that's going to just be a sticking plaster. I have sent them off for a test. I knew I hadn't really helped them understand what was going on, and I knew that they would be back. And I thought, "I can't do this for 40 years. There must be something more than this."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Then, in 2010, my son, when he was six months old, he nearly died. When we were on holiday in France, he had a convulsion, he stopped moving and ultimately it was caused by a preventable vitamin deficiency. And as a doctor I thought, "I've been to one of Europe's best medical schools. I've got specialist exams. I have an immunology degree. I've got general practitioner qualifications. Yet my son nearly died off a preventable vitamin deficiency." I had a lot of guilt with that, Chase, if I'm honest, a lot of guilt. And as my son was being discharged from the hospital in France, I made myself a vow that I'm going to get my son back to full health as if this had never happened. So I started to study nutrition and vitamins and wellbeing, and all the tools I learned, I applied with my son. And he is a thriving, happy, healthy 11 year old boy today.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I applied the same tools with myself and my family. I've never felt as good. And then, I would do it with my patients and I realized that there's so much that we never learned at medical school that we need to help people today. The model of care we're taught at medical school helps for acute problems, for heart attacks, for pneumonia, for car crashes, we're brilliant. But for these chronic lifestyle type conditions, we're just not as good. So that's a brief history of my journey. And then, the truth is, for many years, I cared for my dad and my dad died in 2013. So that was a big hole for me in my life. Yes, emotionally, but also physically, because I would see dad three times a day for years. And this opportunity came up, I was working in this GP practice and the practice manager sent an email to say, "Hey look, the BBC are looking for a new doctor to host a show. The whole concept is what happens if you have more than 10 minutes with your patients?"
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I thought, "Well, that sounds interesting. If you have more than 10 minutes, you could do so much." So in my lunch break, I phoned up this number, spoke to the studio in London. I'd never been on television before. They gave me an interview. There were three months of auditions and various screen tests and things. And the truth is, Chase. Honestly, I didn't prepare for a single one because I just thought, "Look, I'm just going to be myself. It's either what they want or it's not what they want, but I don't want to pretend to be someone who I'm not just to get on television." And then, three months later I find out that they've gone through I think maybe 1,500 doctors and they chose me. So I ended up doing a primetime series on the biggest TV channel in the country. So that was my first experience in media. There was no plan, Chase. I ended up just being given this opportunity, and through that I learned about the power of media. So there's a lot there. I've tried to shorten the story.
Chase Jarvis: No, don't. The long form is why we're here. We're here for it. So obviously there's a lot to unpack there that the concept of applying tools beyond the traditional path is something that's relevant to every single listener here, regardless of their profession, regardless of their aspirations. The fact that you were able to, for a moment, put all of the inputs on pause through the experience that you had with your son, for example, and say, "Wait a minute, there has to be a better way." And I'm curious if when you did that, for what it's worth, this is a pattern that's very popular with the guests on the show, whether it's Sir Richard Branson or Daymond John from Shark Tank, there's this moment where, and sometimes it's a bunch of moments that aggregate over time, but for simplifications purposes, there's a moment where you're like, "Wait a minute. There's more than what I am have been traditionally fed that I could be doing."
Chase Jarvis: And there's a tendency if you are a carpenter and your tool is a hammer that everything starts to look like a nail. And if you're a physician, you have a set of tools to prescribe, you have medications, you have the prescriptions, you have therapy that you could send people to. But I'm fascinated by a willingness, probably despite your peers, when you start studying household remedies and things like happiness and go back to the premise of the TV show, lifestyle changes. Relative to your peers in specialized medicine, were you an outsider? Was that difficult? Were you challenged? Was that seen as some mild revolt?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. I think when Doctor in the House came out in 2015, 99% of the feedback was fantastic, but there were some conventional medics who pushed back a bit. And I found it very confusing, actually. I found it really confusing. I thought, "Well, you've just seen that all these families have got better. I've not used a single medication. This is a BBC documentary. We've shown everything. Nothing has been hidden. This has not been staged. This is a real life. They were following me with these families. And we told that story." Yeah. I would say it was unconventional at the time. Very unconventional. I don't think there had been a show like that maybe anywhere, but certainly in the UK at that point. And I, at that time, Chase, I didn't care really. I was really affected by criticism, that for sure, it would really bring me down. And that is something I don't really feel anymore, because I've realized now looking back that came from an insecurity about how I felt about myself.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And I've realized that, when you become truly secure in who you are, actually the praise doesn't go to your heads and the criticism doesn't bring you down either. Whereas, in the past, it was a big rollercoaster. So yeah, it was unconventional compared to the norm. But I really believed in what I was doing. I knew it worked. And again, that this wider question is, "Do human beings need that adversity to go through until they come out the other side with that newfound determination?" My son getting sick, I was like, "Listen, nothing matters. The only thing that matters to me is to get him back. I'm going to learn whatever I need to do, to do that." And when you see the results, when you see the improvements and I see them with my patients, I thought, "Well, the thing is, the reason doctors aren't doing this is because they've not been trained to do this. They're literally trained in a very reductionist model, which is diagnose the condition, give a pharmacist good treatments, by and large."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Now, I understand that's how I was trained, but I had life events posed challenges to me that I then had to come up with new answers for. So yeah, there was a bit of pushback, but there isn't now, right? This is the amazing thing, Chase. I've created with a colleague, a course called Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine that is fully accredited by the Royal College of GPs in London. And we've trained maybe 3,000 doctors across the globe now in the sort of things I talk about. So sometimes you've just got to go for what you believe in and actually time, it's hard to say, but I think there's a growing movement now in the UK, certainly. And around the world where they're understanding that actually our lifestyle plays much more for a role in our health than we actually thought.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So yes, there was pushback. Yes, that pushback sometimes bothered me, but it didn't bother me enough to stop. I know this works, I've experienced it myself, I've seen it with my son, I've seen it with my patients. And you mentioned at the start, that as well as a doctor, I'm also a podcast host, an author, a TV presenter sometimes. But actually I'm still a doctor because from what I understand, the original meaning of doctor is an educator. When I went to medical school, I thought I was going to learn the skills that I would need to help my patients get better. But if 80 to 90% of what we are seeing as doctors is related to our collective modern lifestyles. Well, if I can educate people and inspire them through my books and through my podcast. And I probably get 200, 250 DMs a week of people telling me, "Oh, I heard that show. My depression's much better. I got your third book, I'm no longer suffering with anxiety. I know how to manage it. My mom reversed her type 2 diabetes because of something she heard about on your books."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Then, I think, well, I'm still being a doctor, right? I'm just not being a doctor in the conventional setting. I'm helping people heal. I'm helping people empower themselves, but through different mediums. And this is a question, Chase, I've been asking myself a lot over the last year, because I'm still practicing. But it's hard to keep practicing, putting out a podcast each week is like a full-time job, right? Researching, recording, you know the drill.
Chase Jarvis: Oh yeah.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I write a book every year. I teach doctors and I think, well, maybe, maybe it's getting close to the time for a year or two at least, maybe I stop practicing at least temporarily. Because, look, what can I see in one day as a doctor, maybe 30 patients? Well, but even that is too much. Let's say I could see 30 or 40 people in a day. Well, the reach I have with my books on my podcast dwarfs that significantly. So I still feel I'm being a doctor, but maybe not in the way that people traditionally associate with a doctor.
Chase Jarvis: And therein lies what I believe is one of the biggest secrets that this show that I seek to unlock is that the future, there are old patterns and there are new patterns. And the old pattern is not going... What got us to that place is not what's going to get us to the next level of cultural consciousness or personal, or overall cultural impact, which I think is fascinating. So that we've got two clear themes emerging here in the show, in our conversation. One is the theme of your particular journey as it relates to medicine. But I think it's very obvious for anyone who's listening whatever profession you're in, that there are, it's not just the core things. It's all this extra stuff that we are what we can do that we bring, that if we show up with our full selves in this channel as a doctor, that we can have greater impact, we can be more authentic to ourselves.
Chase Jarvis: It's basically a growth versus a fixed mindset within our particular channel. And then, a separate thread that is emerging, which I want to embark on momentarily here, which is the science of what you have learned in, for example, living with these families. And the opportunities that are available to heal and strengthen ourselves with very traditional as you call, I'll just use your word, lifestyle changes. So we've got two very clear threads here. What I want to do now is I want to put our arms around and for a moment, press pause on the you as exploring your role as a physician and how you've expanded it, and essentially redefined that part of yourself. I think that's fascinating. I got a couple questions here and then want to lock that down. I want to go onto the actual experiences that you have with treating depression, anxiety, many of these things that you've talked about in what would be non-traditional medical ways in the lifestyle changes.
Chase Jarvis: So in order to wrap up my lines of questions on topic one, was there a moment when you realized, this is referring to this idea that you just said about, "I wonder if I should stop practicing." I'm curious about the labels that we give ourselves, because right now there's someone listening who is a lawyer and they say, "Well, what if I start this business? Am I still a lawyer?" The side hustle, for example, "Am I still a lawyer?" Or there's a mother of three who's at home and says, "Okay. If I start this an enterprise for my kitchen counter, am I an entrepreneur? Or am I still a mother?"
Chase Jarvis: So I'm wondering what role the label that you have given yourself, what role that plays and does it matter? Are you still Dr. Rangan? Or do you just, at that point, does it not matter? And the people who encounter you and what you're teaching and preaching and sharing and educating and helping, how important is the doctor moniker? And how important should people be attached to the identity that they had? Or do they have to shed that identity to become the next version of themselves?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. This is a great question, Chase, and I actually explored this in chapter one of my new book on Happiness, basically, because I think labels are very, very limiting. They're very, very limiting and we get conditioned. A lot of these labels are given to us by society, right? And I think if you understand that they're given to you by society, I think that's okay. The problem is when we cling too tightly to those labels and we think that's who we are, right? So I actually think it comes down to your values more than your labels. So for example, in the book, I write about me as a doctor. If I cling too tightly to that label as a doctor, then I put myself in a very restrictive position. Because what is to happen, if I got fired as my job as a doctor, then I got a big problem, because my identity is being a doctor. So I've now been fired. So I really struggle.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: What happens if I get sick and I can't work anymore as a doctor? Oh man, now I've got a big problem. What happens when I retire from being a doctor? This is what happens to many people when they retire, their sense of who they are completely vanishes and they really, really struggle, right? And that's because we cling too tightly to these labels as I probably did in the past. What about me as a father, right? I'm a father of two kids, but being a father is not who I am. It's a role that I play, right? It's a very important role to me. But I have seen this in some of my patients before, like some mothers who their whole identity is being a mom. And then, let's say when one of their child, one of their children is a teenager and they have an argument and say, "You're a rubbish mom."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: They come in feeling really low, like really low as if their whole identity has been shattered. Now, the way I think is much more healthy for us to think about this is, what are your core values? Right? So for me, my three core values as we are having this conversation, because I'm always tweaking and seeing, do these still fit right for me? But at the moment they are integrity, curiosity and compassion. I think these are the three values that really sum up who I am and how I like to be out there in the world. And so therefore, even if I was to lose my job as a doctor, I can still behave with integrity, curiosity and compassion. And I feel now, I bring those three qualities to my job as a traditional doctor, to my role as a podcast host, to my role as a father, to my role as a author, these are the values. And I think they're just much more valid and they free us from this entrapment of having to live up to certain labels.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Because a lot of people also, like you mentioned, lawyers, right? It's just like medicine, loads of people go into law because they're good academically at school, right? Not because they love law, same in medicine. I've got friends who are doctors who, they're in the wrong job. But in their 40s now they've got a mortgage, they've got school fees, they've got a car lease. And the way they compensate for that discomfort with their job is by getting drunk every weekends, right? Because actually they don't enjoy who they are Monday to Friday. So they have to actually release that at the weekends, right? I'm not saying that's for everyone, but interesting enough, on my podcast, I know we've got a mutual friend in Rich Roll. Rich used to be a lawyer, right? He's like that.
Chase Jarvis: Yes. Dear friend.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I've had Mel Robbins. Mel Robbins came on the show. Mel used to be a lawyer, now she's not. Dan Pink was in the studio a couple of weeks ago, another lawyer who isn't anymore. And it's really fascinating to me, law comes up a lot in terms of my guests. I kind of feel, is there something about law that means a lot of people end up leaving it to become creators? I don't know. That's not a scientific experiment. That's just my experience. But I think that whole idea of labels and identity and values is really important for people to sit with. And you asked me, is the doctor label important to me? Honestly, no, I'd rather get rid of it. I don't like the way that there's this hierarchy in society where we put doctors on a pedestal. It's like, "Oh, what the doctor says that's what I should do." I've never liked that, right?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I've always seen my patients as equals as partners with me. And I think, here's the reality though, the reality is much of society has been conditioned to believe that actually the word of the medical doctor has incredible value. So therefore, I'm being slightly naive here, because maybe the reason why so many people seem to resonate and connect with my message is because I'm a medical doctor. So in their heads, there's a respectability and there's a, "What he says must be true because he's a medical doctor." Now, I don't like that but also I recognize that may well be the case for many people in society. So did that answer your question, Chase?
Chase Jarvis: It did. It did. And part of the takeaway, if I was to summarize and try and reduce it to one line, it would be, it's complicated. But the concept is, and this is the reason I asked the question and you cited many of our dear, dear mutual friends. Rich is just awesome. We're brothers from another mother.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. He's great.
Chase Jarvis: The idea, especially early in life, we latch onto a moniker. And then, at some point, most of the folks who have gone on to what I would call be the closest version to the best version of themselves. They have a realization that the labels that they have used are constraining in many ways. And to me, that's part of the message that I want people to hear and take away from this particular show with you is that, you had the title, obviously one of the highest titles, monikers in the land, right? Doctor. As you said, whether for better or worse, we've been conditioned to take that word. And you're still willing to part with that on the belief or I'll call it the understanding that actually doesn't define you. And it's through your actions, through integrity, curiosity and compassion that you are moving through the world. And my hope is that this gives others out there courage to expand what's possible in their lives, to look at how identities either serve or mostly what I find is they don't serve us.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah.
Chase Jarvis: Go ahead. Please do.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I was going to say, Chase, like you mentioned at the start, maybe there's a lawyer or someone listening or watching at the moment who thinks, "Well, if I set up a side business, am I still a lawyer? Or am I something else?" And I would say, "You don't even need to ask yourself that question. It doesn't matter." In one part of your life, maybe you're a lawyer, maybe that pays the bills at the moment, maybe that's how you put food on the table. But in another part of your life, you're doing something completely different. Where did we ever get the idea that we can only be one thing? I feel really pleased that the kids, they get asked at school, what are you going to be when you grow up? And I find a lot of the time with my kids, I'm trying to unschool what messages they're getting at school.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And I say that with the greatest respect to teachers, I have a lot of respect. I think all the teachers I know are trying to do the best that they can within a system that I think in many ways is very outdated. My kids say, "Well, why'd they ask me what I want to be? Maybe I want to do many things," and I feel that I'm at least in my family showcasing them. I say, "Well, what does daddy do? Daddy's a doctor. He's a podcast host. He's an author. He's a TV presenter. He's a public speaker." You don't to define yourself. I'm a songwriter, I just don't do anything in public with it. But that's also part of who I am. I love sitting there singing, writing songs and performing, right? So we've got one life. Why can't we have this rich, multifaceted life where we can engage in various passions. Now, of course, not everyone can, right?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Some people, life is tough. They've got financial commitments and they've got pressures, which means at that time in your life, maybe you can't engage in those things. I know what that's like, for 15 years I cared for my dad. I wasn't engaging in my passions. Looking back, that was such a stressful period where I didn't have any time to engage in the things that I wanted to. And actually, here's the other thing, Chase, I want to say for people is, it's never too late, right? It is never too late. When my dad died in 2013 and when I got on television in 2015, I remember thinking, "This is my old insecurities. Wow. I've been wanting to talk about this lifestyle message for years. But I've not had an opportunity and it's going to be very hard to have my voice heard because there's a lot of people who've been doing this for years," but it's simply not true.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: A. It's not a competition, which took me a while to realize that because of my conditioning as a child. There's room for everyone to spread their message in their way and indulge in their creative side however they want to. And it doesn't matter when, maybe you have to wait till you're 50 or 55 or 60, you can still make different decisions. You don't have to be defined by what you said you were going to be when you were 18 years old, when you left school or you were going to college, that doesn't have to define you. It's just a moment in your life. And that is one of the most freeing things I think for us instead of this pressure as a child, what are you going to be? What are you going to do at college? What are you going to study? What's your job going to be?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I hope we're moving into a new era where actually people go, "Well, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to be more than one thing," and certainly that's my sense, Chase. Do you get that sense? That things are changing. I mean, I really do.
Chase Jarvis: Absolutely. And that is, you just put the bow that I was hoping to have on this part of our conversation. Because it's precisely that, that is one of the things that I'm interested in exploring is if the old pattern is life is short, you got to hurry. The new pattern is life is long, if our parents had one job and we will have five, the next generation will have five at the same time. And what does that look like? How can we approach all of this with the growth mindset. Most of the careers that most of the people who are listening to this show right now do not even exist yet today, they are emerging areas of opportunity and discovery. And so this idea that we have to rush to the thing, do that thing for 40 years, get the gold watch and retire. That's just absolutely outdated.
Chase Jarvis: And whether you're 14 or 54, it's the opportunity to start a new begins now and can or can begin now, if it's something that you truly want. And I think it's very insightful and I'm glad you shared that you had those feelings when you were shifting gears from being a general practitioner to being a general practitioner and a TV host. Arguably, later in life than most TV hosts get started at 20 or 25. So I believe deeply in that.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And can I?
Chase Jarvis: Please do. Yeah. This is your show.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Well, it's always hard on zoom isn't it with the slight delay. You never want to talk over someone. But I was just going to say that it is never too late and, I don't know, we put ourselves in these boxes sometimes that we think we can't escape from, that we can't see a way out. And I, and my hope is that people, they don't have to wait for that really significant adverse life event where a close family member dies or someone gets a health complaint where they then go, "What am I doing with my life?" So that's one thing I want is to just say, "You don't have to wait for that. You can make small changes now." You don't even have to do it in public, right? Let's say you have a job as a lawyer, but you also love poetry or taking photographs. Well, you can do that in the evenings and weekends. It's still valid. Even if, you don't become Chase Jarvis, right? It's still valid.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: It still feeds that part of you. And the other thing, Chase, I wanted to respond to was, yeah, a lot of TV hosts or TV presenters, it happens in their 20s. With me, it happens maybe mid to late 30s and you know what, I'm so glad it happened then. Why? Because I've been in that media game for a while. Now, I don't live in London for many reasons. I don't want to get sucked into that kind of, I know what that can be like in London, very intense, very competitive. I'm not interested. I'm happily married. I love spending time with my kids. I'm glad that element of profile happened when I was happily married and settled with kids. Because I think a lot of the time when people, when that happened to them in their 20s, and I think it would've happened to me in my 20s, you make some poor decisions, right?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Because it can go to your heads, right? And you can get tempted by all kinds of things. So instead of thinking, "Oh man, what if this happened earlier, I'd be a lot further ahead in my career." I'm like, "No, no, no." You can always change the perspective on anything in life. That's a big part of my take on happiness is that we get to choose the perspective we take on anything. And with that perspective, that determines the story we partner, that determines how we feel about it. For me, I'm delighted this didn't happen to me in my 20s and it happened later on in life. Because I feel I'm much better, much more grounded and better able to equip with it now. Do you know what I mean? I think that's quite an important point.
Chase Jarvis: I think it's a massively important point. And to me that is an absolute key takeaway for anyone, whether you're, again, sitting in traffic right now on a walking path, making dinner, wherever you are, just pause and reflect on that. It's not sort of what happens to us. It's the attitude and the point of view that we bring. And I do want to shift gears to that other thread, the thread of what you have learned and what we can learn in turn from these lifestyle changes. And particularly with your new book, Happy Mind, Happy Life. And before we do though, just to close the loop, you mentioned this idea of life changing in some ways potentially catastrophic events, your story with your son. For me, it was my, two stages, one, my grandfather dropped dead of a heart attack on the garage floor. And that's the reason I was given his cameras. That is largely the reason I am a photographer today.
Chase Jarvis: And then, I also was nearly killed in an avalanche in Alaska, which I chronicled in great detail in my book, that helped me break free from the moniker of just being a photographer. There were so many other things that I wanted to do in life, also podcast host, author, entrepreneur, whatnot. And to the listeners, you just heard Dr. Rangan say that, "Gosh. I wish it didn't take that near catastrophic event with my son." And I am here to emphasize, I wish that I didn't wait for my grandfather's death and I didn't wait to almost die myself in order to make these changes. So we'll consider that wrapped up and now taking that energy, and I wish I didn't, to now cool. Let's agree that we're at least we've suspended for a moment, the beliefs or the conditioning of our listeners.
Chase Jarvis: And I would like to now explore what you have seen and what you have done for patients who are willing to make lifestyle changes rather than take a pill or get a surgery. And what some of the biggest takeaways that you have from those experiences, both firsthand and guiding others through this process. Talk to me about what are the key patterns that you've seen, you identified one in your last statement there around this sort of a mindset shift. Talk to me about the role that the mind plays in our understanding that we are actually, we play a key role in it. That the words that we say to ourselves are important and what actions we can take in order to be our best self.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So one of my key learnings in my career has been that most of what we see as doctors now is related to the way we're living. And for many years, I've spoken about what I call these four key pillars of health, food, movements, sleep and relaxation. And I say to people, "Listen, small changes in these four areas will make a huge difference for your overall wellbeing. You don't need a huge overhaul. You just need to make a few simple, sustainable changes." But then, for the past few years, Chase, I've been wondering, is lifestyle really the root cause? Or is there something that's even more what I say upstream to lifestyle? And I thought about my career, I thought about my patients, I went into the research and there absolutely is, the root cause for many of us is happiness. It's our mental wellbeing. People who are happy in their lives and with their lives are healthier.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: There's really robust research showing that. Now, there's two key reasons for that. One of the reasons is that when you feel happier and more content, you naturally make better lifestyle choices. If you like your life and you like what you do, you're less likely to need to comfort eat and have lots of sugar or lots of ice cream to compensate for your discomfort with your life. You're less likely to need a whole bottle of wine every evening to deal with the problems and frustrations in your life, right? So that's one thread, but it's not just that. The other thread is even when you account for the same lifestyle, people who feel happier are still healthier and they live longer. And there was this beautiful study where they followed nuns over their entire life. And they had the same lifestyle, same diet, same amount of exercise, same sleep.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And as they studied, they saw clearly the happier nuns, they were healthier and they live longer. And so for me, the question then is, "Well, what is happiness?" Right? Because happiness is a term that I think if you say it to 10 different people, they'll come up with 10 different interpretations of that term. Happiness to me is not about having a smile on your face the whole time. It's not about waiting for everything to be perfect in your life, no one to treat you badly, the world to be just the way you want it. If you need that to happen in order to feel happy, you're going to be waiting a long, long time. So happiness really is an inside job. It's about perspective. And for me, what I created in this new book is a new definition of happiness that I think is practical. I've called it Core Happiness. And there's three legs of this core happiness stool, and each of these legs can be worked on and strengthened.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And the three legs are alignment, contentment and control. And I contend for people that actually just as if you do bicep kills every day in the gym, you are going to get stronger biceps. If you work on strengthening these three legs of the core happiness stool, you're going to be happier. You're going to be happier more often. And it's not difficult to strengthen those legs, right? The first alignment, alignment is when the person who you are inside and the person who you are being out there in the world are one and the same. So when your inner values and your external actions start to match up, right? We covered identity before in labels. This really speaks to this alignment, are you behaving in the world in the way that you truly are, right?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And this takes the pressure off you. If you haven't yet quit your nine to five to be a podcast host or be an artist. That's okay, right? If you know your values and you are living in accordance with those values, you're still living a meaningful life. And the reason I'm so passionate about this piece is because a lot of people talk about, "Oh, it's not about happiness. It's about meaning and purpose." And I'm big fans of meaning and purpose, but for me, at least through the lens, I look at happiness. It's not the same thing. I think meaning and purpose is a necessary ingredients for happiness, but it's not happiness in of itself. And there's a few examples I could use to express that. But I prefer people to think about values, because let's say you are in a job that you hate at the moment.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: You're in a call center, you dream about being an artist, but that's what pays your bills at the moment. Well, let's say one of your values is kindness. Well, if you are kind to the barista, when you order your coffee in the morning, if you are kind to the bus driver on your way to work, if you are kind to your work colleagues when you are there. Sure, you may not love your job, but you're still living a life of meaning, you're still living in alignment with who you are. And the more you do that, the more likely it is that you are going to find those new opportunities that mean, "Yeah. You know what? I can quit that job. I can take the leap. I can become that artist or whatever I want to be." So take the pressure of yourself and go down to value. So that's one piece.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: The second leg is contentment. What are those things in your life that truly make you feel content and it feel at peace? And then, the third leg is control, right? This is not about controlling the world. Again, I thought long and hard, Chase, about this word, because that can be misinterpreted as well. But I went with it. I tested it on my patients, on my community, my friends. So people seem to get it. This is not about controlling external events. You cannot control what's going to happen in the world. I think the last two years have shown us that. This is about a sense of control. What can you do on a daily basis that gives you that sense of control over your life? And that could be a little ritual in the morning, it could be a workout, some meditation, seeing your friends, journaling, taking photos, right? Something that is under your control that you do regularly to give you that sense of control.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So there's a lot of simple practical tips that I write about, about how you can work on these three things. But that's kind of the broad overview. I think one of my favorite tips. Can I share one of my favorite tips?
Chase Jarvis: Please. Yeah. This is brilliant.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Because there's a whole chapter in the book on this, the whole of chapter five is called Seek Out Friction. And this has probably had the biggest impact on my own feelings of contentment and happiness than anything else. And it's this idea that whenever you interact with someone socially and something is bothering you, let's say you don't like an email that you received from a colleague or your boss. Instead of wishing that they would change and thinking, "I can't believe they did this." How can you rewrite that story to choose what I call the Happiness Story. Now, this is a very trainable skill, right? You just need to practice. It's not difficult, you just need to commit to it, and I do this every day to the point now where I do it automatically, where I will reframe events in the moment. And it changes how I feel about them.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So let's say someone who's listening or watching now. Let's say they've got an email from their boss that they don't like. They think, "I can't believe they wrote that tone like that. Do they not know I worked last weekend. I've been doing this job for five years." This is negative self talk, right? This is disempowering, because ultimately what you are effectively saying is the actions of someone else that I have no control over, I'm going to allow to influence my inner wellbeing. And I understand that was me for much of my life, but I promise you, you can change this. You can change the story. You could be, "Well, what could be going on in my boss's life? Well, maybe my boss is under pressure from his or her boss and they're taking it out on me. Maybe my boss, maybe their child was up with irate last night and they're tired."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: It doesn't matter of the truth, right? For your happiness and your wellbeing. It's a really good skill to reframe that story. And I do this every day. Anytime something bothers me in the day, which is getting quite rare, mate, I've been doing this for about five years now. It does happen. I'm not a saint. I'm not perfect, but I have the awareness when it does happen. And if you are thinking that this can only happen in trivial situations and not serious situations. I just want to share something. One of the most powerful conversations I've had in my entire life on my podcast was with Dr. Edith Eger. Now, Dr. Edith Eger, when I spoke to her about a year ago, she was 93 years old. When she was 16 years old, she was living in Eastern Europe and her family got a knock on the door.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Her, her sister and her parents were put on a train to Auschwitz concentration camp. Within two hours of getting there her parents were murdered. Later that day, she had to dance for the senior prison guards. And the first thing she said to me, Chase, was, "I never forgot the last thing my mom said to me." She said to me, "Edie, nobody can take from you the contents that you put inside your mind." So she said, "When I was dancing, I wasn't dancing in Auschwitz. I was dancing in Budapest opera house. There was a full house in front of me. There was an orchestra playing. I had a beautiful dress on." I thought, "Okay. That's pretty incredible." Then, she said to me, while in Auschwitz, she started to see the prison guards as the prisoners. She said, "They were the ones who weren't free and living their life. In my mind, I was free. They weren't free."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I thought, "This is pretty incredible." And then, the final thing she said to me was, "Dr. Chatterjee, I can tell you, I've lived in Auschwitz and I can say this to you. The greatest prison you will ever live in sights is the prison you create inside your minds." I think about that every day. Whenever I'm struggling to reframe something I say, "Well, listen, if Edith Eger can reframe her story in Auschwitz, in the hell of Auschwitz. Well, you know what, Rangan, you can do this in your life." So I use that as inspiration for me. And Chase, to get philosophical but there's a wider point here, which is what is truth, right? What is truth, right? Because if there's a couple, two partners having an arguments. What happened in the arguments? Well, it depends who you ask.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: You ask one partner, they'll give you one story, walk around to the other side of the table and they'll give you a different story, the other partner. Same situation, two different perspectives. Psychologists did a study. They took a football fan. So soccer fans in the UK, right? And they showed them the same incident from the game, and they asked them what happened. Different fans reported seeing different things from the same incidents. So why am I sharing this? The point I'm trying to make is that every situation has multiple perspectives, right? For your happiness and your wellbeing, if you can consistently choose what I call a Happiness Perspective. You will feel less stress in your body, you will feel less triggered, less angry, you'll make better choices, yes, for your health. But you'll also make better choices in your life because you're not coming from a place of fear and anger and frustration.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: You're becoming more from a place of compassion and honesty and love. And I know this sounds really idealistic and, yeah, is that realistic? I promise you, from someone who spent their whole life having a victim mindset and thinking, "If people acted differently, I would be happier." In the last five years, I've completely changed that. So I'm now speaking to you, Chase, at a point in my life. I'm 44 years old. I've never felt this good. Genuinely, I've never felt this good. I feel calm. I feel content. I feel at peace. And what's really changed is I don't allow anymore external events to really change how I feel about myself. I'm not saying this is easy, right? It takes a bit of time. But I've got to say a lot of those addictive behaviors that I may have had in the past, they've gone. Because all behaviors, this is one key thing I've learned in 20 years of medicine, Chase, is that all behaviors serve a role in life, right?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: If we're engaging in a behavior, there's a reason we're engaging that behavior. And a lot of the time as doctors we give health advice say, "Oh, you shouldn't drink alcohol. You shouldn't smoke. You should cut back on sugar." Sure. Let's give advice. But I think it's missing a big piece. People are engaging in those behaviors because they need them on some level to cope with discomfort or the stress of their life. If we don't help people change the way they feel about themselves, they're going to keep jumping from, in the book I call these Junk Happiness Habits. They're not really feeding your long term happiness, they give you a short term hits.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: There's something wrong with them now, and again, the problem is if you engage in them too often or you make the mistake and thinking they're really feeding your core happiness, that's when I think we run into problems. And for much of my life, Chase, which is why I'm so passionate about this topic, I didn't feel good enough in who I was, right? The immigrant mentality is you've got to do well at school. So if I came home from school with 19 out of 20, my parents would say, "Why didn't you get 20?" If I came second in the class, they would say, "Well, who came top? Why didn't you come top?" Right? Because they did it from a place of love, they had discrimination, they had problems. And so in their head, if their children can do really well at school, they're going to get a good job and have no problems in life.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: But here's the problem, right? There's two perspectives on every story. They did it from a place of love, but little Rangan on the other hand, he takes on the belief at a young age that I'm only worthy of love when I get full marks, right? So you have this discomfort. Now, on the outside it looks as so I've been very, very successful. I'm a doctor. I've got four and now five best selling books. I've got a TV show. It all looks great on the outside. But until about five years ago, Chase, I'd say that on the inside, I actually felt pretty unhappy. I didn't realize I was feeling unhappy, maybe 10 years ago. But you would engage in, I don't know, sugar, gambling, drinking with your mates, whatever it might be, because you're trying to numb that feeling of discomfort.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I didn't know that's why I did it. But what's interesting, Chase, is as I've healed that void, as I've worked on my alignment, my contentment and my control. I don't engage in those things anymore and I've not tried to stop that. I just have no need for them in my life anymore. So I hope that made sense for you, but I'm very passionate about this. A lot of our behaviors they're there for a reason. If you've tried using willpower and you can't stop it, I'm not sure willpower's the problem. Try and figure out what it's doing for you. Is it that you don't like your job, right? Is it that you're a lawyer and actually you really have got this creative side, and you're not able to express that?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Now, I'm not saying quit your job. What I am saying is maybe at the weekends or in the evenings, engage in that creative side, live in alignment with who you really are. And I promise you, some of those behaviors that you're trying to stop like three hours on Instagram in the evening or online shopping or gambling or sugar. I promise you that those things will start to fade away as you no longer need them.
Chase Jarvis: One of the things that I appreciate about your new book and what we're talking about for those listeners and watchers is Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being, is that there is some very practical advice in that book and it's not just a big idea. It is a science backed controlled experiment, truth that you have prescribed a handful of very tactical approaches. So I'll incur, I don't feel like we need to go into each of those. But I want to address a concern that a listener or a watcher may have that somehow reframing our stories into happiness ones. Isn't somehow putting our head in the sand to the realities of modern life. It's not pretending that difficult moments don't exist. So I'm hoping you can address that.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. That's a great point, Chase. Sure. What I'm saying is, this doesn't mean... Let's go back to that email from the boss, right? So let's say your boss has sent you a horrible email and you think that's uncalled for and they should know better, right? What I'm saying when it comes to happiness, but also to make good decisions going forward. We make better decisions when we're not feeling emotionally reactive. So think about your brain in two parts, right? You've got your emotional brain, which is the primitive part of your brain that's been there for a long, long time. And you've got the more recent part of the human brain, what we call the prefrontal cortex, which is how we make logical, good rational decisions. When you feel triggered by somebody else, when that email has really bothered you and you're like, "Man, I can't believe they did that. How annoying."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: You are not going to be in the best place to address that situation with your boss and change it. What often happens is that we respond from a place of reactivity. We say, "I can't believe you sent that. You should know better all this," and that leads to more reactivity coming back. So what I'm saying is it's a two stage process. The first stage is if you can, and you don't have to reframe every event in your life, but it's a very good skill to practice to know that actually you have the ability to do that. If you reframe that to go, "I don't like that email, but he must have had problems in his own life at that time to send it like that," right? What it does, it means that you keep your logical brain online.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So then you could actually send a really calm and reasonable email say, "Hey, listen, thanks so much for that. Have you got 10 minutes later this week where we can have a chat, because there's just a couple of things I wanted to discuss with you if possible." You're much more likely to get change in life when you don't come from a place where you're constantly reacted, where you're feeling reactive. So it's not about saying, you should put up with poor behavior. Let's say your partner doesn't treat you well, right? What I'm saying to you, because I've experienced it myself and with my patients that if you can train yourself to not get as triggered. Because ultimately, I guess this is a harsh truth that it took me a long time to learn. We are responsible for our emotions, right? It's us. We're generating them. We think it's someone else they behave that way. When I got married 14 years ago, my mother-in-law would say to my wife sometimes.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: She would say, "I'm not making you unhappy. You are choosing to make yourself unhappy," and it would really bother my wife, right? Really trigger her. But actually she and I have come down to the realization that my wife's mother was absolutely correct. We are responsible for our emotions and you can train yourself. The problem is if you don't believe that you are responsible for your emotions, it's very easy to go on around life thinking, "Oh man, I can't believe this happened to me. That person cut me up in the road. That's why I feel angry. That's why I needed three beers after work." It's not a very empowering place to be. It is a skill, right? It can take time, right? It's not easy if you spent your whole life not doing it.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: But one of my favorite phrases, it's actually my daughter's got her abbreviation of, because I've told it to the kids so much. She's written it out for me at the back of the studio. See if I can remember it word for word. It's the Viktor Frankl phrase, "Between stimulus and response is a space. And in that space is our ability to choose our response. And with our response comes our freedom." Now, I know I didn't get that quite right. So please forgive me if you're a Viktor Frankl fan. But the essence is between any stressor in life and our response to that, there is a space. We can choose how we respond, but many of us react instinctively. We don't have a space, and I'm saying that as you train yourself to rewrite stories, that space will start to expand.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: So now when things happen, I feel like I've got an hour to make a decision in my head on how I'm going to respond, even though the reality is I probably have a few seconds. It's a trainable scale. As I say, if you go to the gym every day, you're going to get stronger. If you train this skill every day, if you work out in what I call the social gym each day. Use social friction as a way of learning about yourself. You will master your own emotions, you will start to understand yourself in a way that you never did before. And as you say, Chase, there loads more practical, really practical tips in the book for people that don't cost any money. I'm really proud of this. Nothing in the book actually costs anyone any money to do. It just requires them to go, "You know what? I feel I could be happier than I currently am. I feel I could get more out of life than I currently am."
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And that's why I wrote, certainly in the UK, it's been out for 10 days as we have this conversation, and I've never had a reaction to this to any of my books. People are loving it and sharing it. And yeah, I'm delighted. I think it's my best piece of creative work to date. That's the truth, Chase. And why? It's not only the content, I push myself outside my comfort zone for this book. I really have. I've gone past the edges of where I feel comfortable. I've shared stuff about myself in a way that I've never shared before. Stuff that, frankly, I would've been too insecure to share before like, what will people think of me? A doctor in public should act in a certain way. That idea of label and identity, that was keeping me locked in a box.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: But as I freed myself, again, no, yeah, I am a doctor. I'm a parent. I'm a podcaster. I've got all these roles in life, but ultimately what am I, I'm an imperfect human trying to do the best that he can just like everyone else. So I think that's what makes this book really special is that I have really shared stuff about me as well as dispensing expert advice.
Chase Jarvis: Well, that's part of what I love about your approach and not just with this book, but your previous books as well where there's a certain humility, with which you've approached the material. And even if you do go watch Doctor in the House, this idea that you can, we're all managing all of this stuff. And doing everything all of the time is not possible, but how can you choose your values and then live in alignment with those values. How can you recognize, what you're saying is it's very philosophical, right? How we choose to respond is ultimately key to what underpins our happiness. And just so it turns out that the link between happiness and health and longevity and wellbeing is it's radically connected.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah.
Chase Jarvis: And so thank you for providing. And that is a very inspirational, I think lens and fair and reasonable and accurate lens on life that I truly believe has been missing. And it's been missing from the medical community. So you as practicing medical doctor, having the willingness to share that, regardless of what your peers may or may not say. I want to say, personally say thank you. And the quote for those folks that were interested, that was near perfect quoting of Viktor Frankl, highly recommend the book Man's Search for Meaning. One of the most profound books that I've read. I believe Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl.
Chase Jarvis: Well, as our time together is winding down. And as again, I'd like to redirect everybody back to Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being. I want to ask if there are, as we wrap up, are there any patterns that you would advise people start to focus? Let's give them a simple takeaway right now. So as they're listening, wherever they are, what people listening and watching start to pay attention to first on their journey to happiness? Where would you invite people to look in the most, what I would just call, low hanging fruit sort of way? Get us started. And obviously our community's very good at purchasing books. And the book has come out in the UK, we're dropping this episode during your Pub Week here in the US, which is June. What's a way that we can, start today and while the book's on order, coming to us?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: Yeah. So it's a practical tips. I think there's a very simple exercise that anyone could do in their life right now, and there's two parts to it. The first one is, write down three things that you think you could do weekly, regularly, that would give you a deep sense of wellbeing and happiness in your life. Just think of three things, right? Then, on the next sheet of paper, imagine you're on your deathbed and look back on your life and ask yourself, "What three things will I want to have done and achieved in my life?" And then, bring those two pieces of paper together and ask yourself, "If I can do these three weekly happiness habits, will I get the happy ending that I've just defined that I want at the end of my life?" Now, it's a very simple exercise, but it's very, very powerful because what it does is bring intention to your life.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: You may say, for example, at the end of your life, that you want to have spent quality time with your friends and family. And then, you may look at your week and go, "Oh man, I never have any time for my friends and family because I'm too busy chasing this or chasing that or working." Don't beat yourself up, right? This is not an excise to make yourself feel guilty. It's an excise to bring awareness to your life. And here's the other thing, right? We know with a pretty high degree of certainty what you are going to say at the end of your life. Why? Because palliative care nurses tell us over and over again. There's a Australian palliative care nurse called Bronnie care. She wrote a book called Five Regrets of the Dying. And what are the common things that people say at the end of their life? It's things like this.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: I wish I'd work less. I wish I spent more time with my friends and family. I wish I'd lived my life and not the life that other people expected off me. I wish I'd allowed myself to be happy, right? So let's learn from these people end of their life. They all say the same things. If you are someone who's not living your life at the moment, that's okay. Many of us, it takes us to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 to figure out what that is. But if you are getting an incline somewhere that your life is not your true life, the one that you were born here to live. That exercise will help bring that into sharp focus for you. In the book there's loads of tips as well that are going to help you with that. So that's one thing I'd say. The other thing, Chase, I'd say, which I think is arguably one of the most important things these days.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: One of the reasons we find it so hard to live an authentic life and to understand where we're at and how we're feeling, is because very few of us these days have solitude, intentional solitude with ourselves. We wake up and we are consuming emails, social media, news, work, family, friends, there's all this incoming into our ears and our eyes from the outside world. Sure. That can be fine. But you also need time where there's no incoming and you allow your innermost thoughts and feelings to come up. So one of the most important things I do every day is I sort off each day with a 30 minute morning routine. I know morning routines can be cliches. For some of my patients I say, "Do it in the afternoon. Do it in the evening," but have some time alone with your thoughts where you're not distracting yourself with Instagram or the news or something else. Sit there with a cup of coffee and don't look at your phone, right?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: And see what comes up for you, because there will be all these feelings buried inside you that you are not allowing to come up because you're never spending any time alone. And look, this even applies to good content, right? Even if you're consuming brilliant content like Chase's podcast or mine or other shows that you like, right? Well, even that, sometimes, you know what, go for a walk with nothing in your ears and just listen to the birds and see what comes up for you. Because that's when you will hear your inner voice, that's when you'll start to make better decisions. I mean, I could keep going on, Chase, but they're two big pieces for me that I think will really help people just in their own lives.
Chase Jarvis: Brilliant. Thank you so much for being a guest on our show, helping us unlock the key to happiness, which as you've indicated in lots of your work and your podcast, other books, this relationship between happiness and health is inextricably tied. And for those who are suffering, there's a very simple lifestyle changes that you can make. The latest book is Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being. Congrats on numerous bestsellers but of course this most recent one. Our community is very good at supporting authors, especially those with such important messages as yourself. I want to say thank you for being a guest on the show. Thank you for inviting me prior to recording, to be a guest on yours. I will take you up on that the next time I'm over there. And until next time, is there any other place where you would like to steer our community to pay attention to you and your work outside of your books and your podcast?
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee: No. Guys, listen, I hope there was some things in this episode that you can apply now. Whether you get the book or listen to the podcast or not, what matters more to me is that you've understood the information and you start applying it. So why information, inspiration without action leads to nothing. So what I would say to people is, "Was there one thing that we spoke about today that connected with you?" Right? Think about that one thing, write it down, start applying it in your own life. Start thinking about it in your own life. Use that inspiration to actually make some real change in your life. So hopefully you've got enough value for this. Sure. If you want to check out the book and the podcast, that will be great as well. But really I hope that this conversation helps you lead a more intentional life, a more authentic life and, yes, a happier and healthier one as well.
Chase Jarvis: And again, the podcast is feel better, live more, more than 6,005 star reviews on Apple. Top health podcast in the UK. Congratulations on your success. Thank you so much for being a guest. You are welcome here anytime. You've got something to share. Dr. Rangan, thank you again so much. Until next time from he and myself here at UK to US connection here. Signing off and I bid you all adieu.
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