SEP Episode #57: The Power Of Deliberate And Deviant Living With Dallas Hartwig

 

Today on the show we have the self described “pragmatic, scientific explorer” and cofounder of Whole30, Dallas Hartwig. 

Dallas speaks to us today (on video!) about the developmental process of the Whole30 lifestyle and how through the exploration of self, and identifying the places in your own life that keep you from feeling good, you can grow to new heights in both life and business.

What You Will Learn On This Episode


  • The Accidental Creation of Whole30
  • Chocolate Indulgence as a Metaphor For Life
  • More Social Less Media
  • Examining The Things In Your Life That Don’t Make You Feel “good”

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


Website

Facebook

Books

 

Transcription


Kyle Gray:

Hello, and welcome to The Story Engine podcast. My name is Kyle Gray, and we have a really special podcast today. We’re doing a video podcast and we even have a live audience. We’ve got an amazing guest with us today, Dallas Hartwig. Thank you so much for joining us.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Thank you for having me.

 

Kyle Gray:

So Dallas, you, to introduce yourself properly is really difficult because you’ve done a lot of different things. You have many different interests and many different skills. How do you introduce yourself these days? How do you present the full picture of Dallas Hartwig?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Is the hardest question of the whole thing?

 

Kyle Gray:

I think so.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Because that is a hard question.

 

Kyle Gray:

I think so, yeah.

 

The Power Of Deliberate And Deviant Living With Dallas HartwigDallas Hartwig:

How do I…I’m an explorer. I’m the guy who is interested in figuring out how to live well in a really weird and messed up world. And so I kind of take my experiences and thoughts and research, and occasionally insights, and share that with people in a variety of different ways, sometimes books, podcasts, interviews like this, rambling Instagram posts. But my background is anatomy and physiology. And I’m kind of a science research guy, but then quickly lose interest in the really, really granular stuff when it’s hard to connect to the real world. And so I’m a pragmatist in that sense too. I’m like, “Let’s look at the research, let’s make this make good sense from a solid, rational standpoint, but then let’s quickly drag it over into the real world and figure out how do we apply this.” So I’m a pragmatic, scientific explorer.

 

Kyle Gray:

And will you tell me a story about a moment in your life that has really defined this path for you, how you’ve discovered these talents and these perspectives, and maybe that set you on this journey?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

The questions are getting harder actually.

 

Kyle Gray:

Uh-oh.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

No. I mean I think that one of the experiences for me that sort of has defined that aspect of this part of my professional life certainly was the kind of accidental experience of co-founding the Whole30 program. And I say kind of accidental in the sense that what really happened was my former partner and I did some personal experimentation on ourselves back in 2008, 2009 and started tinkering with different dietary approaches to see how we felt, how it affected mood, sleep, athletic performance, et cetera.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And it was trial and error. It was tinkering. It was playing around with stuff. And then it became playing around with stuff in the public eye. And then it became playing around with stuff and tweaking the program and watching the results. And it was fairly sort of soft science. It was fairly sort of soft science. It was fairly sort of subjective and observational. But it very quickly iterated into something that became a really powerful tool for people. And so that idea of that approach of having an idea that something might be powerful and then just trying it out.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And I mean the Whole30 program is about food, but ultimately it’s a metaphor for living more broadly in the way that you take something that sounds like it might be useful, take something that if you’re not sure what’s going on with life and things don’t feel quite right, you have to change something. And I’m a big fan of Occam’s razor. So if you don’t know what it is that doesn’t feel right or you don’t know what the cause of your problem is, guess. Guess the thing that looks proximate and reasonable, and ticker with it. And often, the thing that you have that gut sense is the root of the thing often is.

 

The Power Of Deliberate And Deviant Living With Dallas HartwigKyle Gray:

So let’s talk about food, and specifically my favorite food. Which when I hear your name, this phrase pops into my head. And it’s, “Don’t chew your chocolate,” which is something… Yeah, this is something a mutual friend of ours mentioned about you right away. There’s such a cool and profound lesson behind this. Can you tell me about why people should not chew their chocolate?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

It’s so funny that you mention that. That was the first exchange that I had with this friend of ours, probably about a decade ago. And the question or kind of the comment or the discussion was around how much chocolate can you have. And the context was making nutrition recommendations to people and people being like, “Well, how much do I do this? How do I know? How many calories? How many grams? How many servings? How much?” And chocolate’s one of those things where I think it’s neither good nor bad. I think it’s a food like anything else that has implications. And so it’s not a function of good or bad, it’s a function of what are the natural consequences here.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

So the natural consequences are also proportionate to how much you eat. And so the question was, “Well, how much can I have?” And I was like, “Well,”… It was sort of an offhand remark but it was something that later kind of stuck with me, and stuck with you apparently. But the answer to the how much can you have is you can have as much as you want, as long as you never chew it. And the thought process there was twofold. One, just pragmatically, it’s hard to overeat chocolate when you have to let it melt in your mouth. It goes slow. Right? Especially if you’ve got a really good quality, rich, dark chocolate, it melts slowly. And the intensity of the experience and the richness of the flavors that open up as you let it melt in your mouth are really rich and satiating, and often include the natural, built-in sort of checks and balances to overconsumption. So there’s the piece, the obvious piece of it’s hard to over consume chocolate when you have to let it melt in your mouth.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But then there’s the kind of, and I think what you’re getting at here is the larger piece of to what extent does the experience of, in this case, eating, influence and how much should that guide the way you live in general. And so the other layer to that then is letting the experience regulate itself, letting the natural biological, psychological experience become its own experience and become its own way to navigate. “How do I live in this world? Well, I pay attention and I let the built-in mechanisms speak for themselves.” But I really have to listen. And whether it’s talking about satiation with food or it’s talking about how much sleep you need to get, but really tuning into being like, “What does my body need? What feels deeply good and rich for me?” And sometimes you don’t know that till you really slow down and pay attention.

 

Kyle Gray:

I like this. And there is a connection here between kind of chocolate and sugar and consumption with food. It mirrors a lot of what you talk about. You have a program and a training called More Social, Less Media where I feel like social media, like chocolate and our phones and our devices in the internet age, it’s brain sugar and it can be really addictive and just hook us in. And we can, like you say, just eat a whole bar of social media chocolate without even thinking about it. What would the don’t chew your chocolate approach to technology and many of the fun bells and whistles that we’re all engaged with these days look like?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

That’s a super good question. What’s the built-in check and balance? I think that the comparison there is really, really good, the social media candy bar kind of thing. Because really what’s happening is we have something that is justifiable, either as it’s social engagement or it’s building my business or it’s entertainment. There’s lots of reasons we can give to other people, and especially ourselves, why social media or chocolate, or any other thing, any other experience, is totally okay. And I think the important part is removing the morality aspect of it, the self-judgment, the right/wrong, good/bad piece of it. Because there’s nothing morally good or bad about eating chocolate. And there’s nothing morally good or bad about using social media.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But I think what happens is that the way these products and services are often designed is they’re often designed sometimes explicitly to obscure the natural effects from ourselves. Or, if that’s not the case, we’re more than willing to turn a blind eye to the natural effects on ourselves because we like how it feels. So we build in opportunities to use or consume the thing more often than it’s probably helpful for us. So I think to me it’s difficult… And of course one of the things with the you have to let the chocolate dissolve in your mouth piece is it slows you way down. You can’t do it mindlessly, it’s effectively a mindfulness exercise. So in slowing down and paying attention, what you can notice is, “Oh, I’ve had two squares of dark chocolate. I don’t actually want more. I don’t want more.” And you can just literally ask, “Do I want more?” And you’re like, “Actually, I don’t.” And it’s an easy answer. It’s an easy solution.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And I think there’s probably something similar there with social media consumption as well. And the question might be there, “Does this still feel good for me?” Good, capital G, settling, meaningful, does this enrich my life? But you have to slow down to be able to ask and answer that question.

 

Kyle Gray:

I think one of the big things behind it is with a new social media, a new technology is usually it’s like there’s something that gets us in and gets us hooked. “I want to stay in touch with my friends in different countries…

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Totally.

 

Kyle Gray:

… or from college.” But the reason that we usually sign up for these things isn’t always the reason that we stay scrolling. I think that’s what you mean by the natural effects of what happens here.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Right.

 

Kyle Gray:

And so one of the things I’ve been considering and working on is really getting clear, even writing down what is the purpose for me for using this tool.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Right.

 

Kyle Gray:

It doesn’t have to just be social media, but once you’re clear on how you use those or the real benefit that it derives to you, then it’s easier to kind of set the boundaries.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Yeah, I think, to your point about the real benefit, I think the deeper the hooks are set, the harder it is to see the real benefit. I think that what happens is we start to create compelling stories, compelling narratives for ourselves about the real benefits. Because when I really drill down on it, when I think about Facebook, and I’ll just use that as an example, the real benefit, the tangible benefit either to me personally or to me professionally is negligible. But I could pretty easily make a compelling story about like, “I have to build my brand and I have to have visibility and I have to put in new content to get new followers to sell more books,” or whatever the outcome is.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But the real, tangible benefit is a lot harder to identify as a real thing when I’m more interested in whether it’s a real thing or whether I’m just trying to justify myself. That’s just being honest with yourself. And that’s a difficult thing to do when you have an inherent reward system present, whether it is the reward system for digital stimulation or for sugar or for sex or for any other highly-rewarding thing in the world. When you have that reward system present, it’s difficult to see the real truth there.

 

Kyle Gray:

Is there a way to break those cycles? Is that individual to each of those? Or do you have some favorite strategies to kind of snap yourself out of those patterns?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

I think there’s a lot of commonalities between behaviors. I think there are specific strategies, but I think there’s a lot of commonality. And I’ll drop the word “addition” here because that’s a word that I think does truly apply in a lot of these cases. And I use that loosely in the sense of sort of continued use despite harm, not in a psychiatric sense but in a more broad sense. Because ultimately when we are able to sit quietly and introspect and slow down, what we notice is that, “Every time I get on Instagram, I end up feeling bad about myself because I’m comparing my life to somebody else’s life. And actually, it doesn’t actually feel good for me. There’s not actually a lot of net benefits, but I still do it.” And so there is that continued use despite harm to myself aspect of it.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And I think ultimately recognizing that is the very first step. Like any 12-step kind of approach, it’s like, “Hey, I have a problem. This doesn’t work well for me.” And I think change happens when the fear of the change is… Or I’ll say it the other way. When the pain of it remaining the same exceeds the fear of the change. And that’s kind of been the impetus for so many changes in my own life of, “This thing’s not working for me. It has to be different. And at this point, my greatest fear is having my future be like my past.” And I think that’s, on a smaller scale, the way that all things change, including things that are really difficult to change, things that have inherent reward pathways built in to them and things that are truly addictive by anyone’s definition. But it has to hurt before you’re going to change it.

 

The Power Of Deliberate And Deviant Living With Dallas HartwigKyle Gray:

I can see that. And it’s one thing to be able to be self-aware, we’ve gone through life, we’ve had some experiences and we can kind of see, “Oh, there’s maybe a problem here.” But I think you also have a son that you are working on creating the best life possible for him. And when you are trying to work with somebody on the same level and maybe protect them or guide them and help them navigate this world where kind of the food we eat and the norms around the food we eat aren’t exactly set up for their success, and the technology around us is not set up in their best interest either. And then there’s also culture and other kids and other parents. How do you navigate these systems and how do you prepare your son and teach them to show them, “Here’s how you can find your way through this world.”?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Well, that’s a big question too. The short answer is I don’t know. My boy’s six. He and I have about the same levels of cognition so we identify easily with each other. We’re both finding our way through the same world at the same level. But a lot of it has to do with helping him develop a very clear sense of self so he knows who he is and what matters to him. He’s a six year old boy and right now his favorite color is pink and he likes unicorns and nail polish and pink shoes. And some of his peers are really unkind to him about that. And so we’re having lots of good conversations about what it means, girl things and boy things, who you are, how you respond when people are unkind. And that’s a current example, but there has been and there will be many, many more experiences in his life, like all of ours, where we have to figure out who we are, what matters to us.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And when that comes into conflict with the dominant culture, with the norms, how do we handle that? Do we fall into line because there’s enormous social pressure, consumer pressure, financial pressure to shut up and do as you’re told? I mean I think this is kind of my social cynic coming out but the conventional education system does a really good job of training industrial factory workers. But, A, that’s not where most jobs are these days and going into the future, as best as I can tell, and B, it doesn’t actually make people’s lives richer and deeper and more meaningful. It might prepare you for a financially stable job in a cubicle, but it’s not something that’s going to give you the best, the most complete, most meaningful set of tools to go out and explore the world and find out what my actual meaning and purpose myself, for me.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

So the conversations with my boy are a lot around, “What do you think about that piece? What do you think about that art things you just did? I happen to like it but the important thing is do you like it? You made it, how do you feel about it?,” and having him check back in. And I had this moment of parental pride the other day where we had a conversation and he didn’t like my answer to one of his questions. He wanted to do something and I said no, we couldn’t do that. And he started to get frustrated and angry with me. And he’s figuring out the balance of expressing anger without acting it out. And he was like, “Give me just a minute.” And he turned around in his chair and took a few breaths and calmed himself down. And I was like, “Yeah, I’m doing something right here. I got a six year old who’s like, ‘Give me a minute to take some breaths.'”

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But that’s the kind of stuff in being able to separate self from everything else and to have a sense of not that, “I’m so important or I’m so confident that what I think is the most important thing, and screw the rest of you,” but more that as he learns, and as I learn at 40, that I need to know what’s important to me and to recognize that there’s absolutely no way to live a meaningful, happy, if that’s the word, gratifying, satisfying life if you are conformed to somebody else’s standard, no matter who that other person is. And we do a really bad job in this society of teaching kids how to figure out what that is for them, which is why I’m doing at 40 what he’s doing at six.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s awesome. So you mentioned the education system here. So let’s do a thought experiment and imagine we’ve just started the University of Dallas. What are some of the classes on the curriculum?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Oh, interesting. This is a great one. It’s funny because I just talked about education with a friend a couple of days ago. And I think the way I concluded that conversation was, “This whole large, standardized education system doesn’t work, but I’m totally overwhelmed, I don’t know how I would build something that would be more customizable for each individual,” so I don’t really know. I think a lot of it has to do with self-exploration. And you go all the way back to attachment theory and development of infants and toddlers, we have to feel accepted for who we really are as babies and infants and young children to be able to develop the ability and confidence to be able to go explore new things.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And so this is informing the way that I parent my boy and I parent myself, because in order to go explore and figure out what I like in the world, what am I good at, what fills me up, I have to have this sense of confidence that that’s okay to do and I have unconditional acceptance and love from, in my childhood, parents and then later from partners and peers and friends, and from self. And so there’s kind of this closed loop of if you don’t get that in childhood, you have to develop it later. And it’s really difficult to give that to yourself later if you didn’t get it in childhood. So there’s a lot of extended personal growth there that then sets the stage to be able to go explore the world.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

So courses would be very self-directed. Courses would be very exploratory. There’s a balance, right? There’s a balance you have to do some things just to try new stuff that you didn’t think you would like or didn’t think that you’d be good at, but then also there’s the part of, “I don’t know what’s right for you. I don’t know what electives you should take. Go figure it out for yourself.” So I think there’s a lot of the conventional, general courses and electives that we take in university have some utility to give us some context for the world that we live in and also they don’t really do the thing of teaching us how to think like they say that we’re supposed to. So have you heard or seen the David Foster Wallace… He gives a lecture many years ago and he talks… And I think you find it on YouTube if you search for David Foster Wallace, This is Water.

 

Kyle Gray:

Oh, yeah.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

It’s a brilliant commencement address I think, I want to say Bates College or somewhere, or Kenyon College. And he talks about finding our way through a very confusing world and the whole, “We’re going to teach you how to think in a formal education system.” He’s well-intentioned but really, really oversimplified.

 

Kyle Gray:

Okay.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

That was my way of not answering your question.

 

Kyle Gray:

It was a good way. It worked, it worked. I’m still ready to enroll. This one, maybe this can be one of the courses that I would sign up for. Actually, I’m asking for a friend on this one. But you’ve talked about success versus satisfaction. And this is something that I wanted to ask you about because I’ve found myself at many points in my life I would set a goal, “I’ll make this income, I’ll achieve this, I’ll travel here,” and I’ll get focused and start doing it. And it takes time to achieve a goal.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Yeah.

 

Kyle Gray:

But as somebody who’s ambitious and always forward thinking, by the time I actually get to the finish line of the goal, I have three more other goals that I’m looking for that are off in the horizon again, and I don’t have time to celebrate this one anymore because there’s three more and the clock’s ticking.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Totally.

 

Kyle Gray:

So it’s a path to success in some forms where there’s motivation, there’s always an impetus to go forward, but it’s hard to really be present and enjoy life if you’re always in that. How do you handle that balance as somebody who’s seen lots of different success in many different ways?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Yeah, I definitely handle that situation differently than I used to, for sure. I think that success versus satisfaction is an interesting thing because there is tremendous satisfaction in succeeding at your own self-created, self-assigned goals. And also, often, usually because of either misunderstandings about ourselves or misunderstandings about what we really, truly, deeply value, or because we take on many sort of culturally and socially-assigned goals, we think applying ourself to achieving the things will make us feel satisfied, give us a sense of satisfaction. And many, many, many times I, and many of my peers, do the thing, whatever the thing is, and get to the end and we’re like, “Wow, that was kind of cool. I did the thing. It didn’t feel quite how I thought it would,” or I’m on to the next thing already.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And I think this… And you hear the commonly quoted research on people’s top five regrets when they’re on their deathbed, and none of them have to do with achieving more things. It’s all about relationships and the way they spent their time and the way they valued people and the way they were vulnerable and intimate and connected to people that they cared about. None of it had to do with achieving more goals or having more success on any kind of professional, academic, financial way. That’s just not what people think about. And if you think about a sense of satisfaction, that’s something that is a thing that takes a long time to develop and it’s kind of a slippery thing and defined differently for each person.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But I don’t know too many people who are deeply, completely satisfied by solely professional, academic, financial success. So then it becomes a function of, “Okay, what is this a symbol for? What is this a placeholder for in my life?” Why does it matter if I get the promotion or make partner or make $10 million? Why does that matter to me?” And I think understanding what that means… Because I think there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing those things and they can be really, deeply satisfying if they meet the need that you’ve set out to meet with them. And I think lots of times that we don’t even know what we’re setting out to achieve in the deeper sense of self.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

So for me, and this is I guess an uncomfortable admission, but I don’t have professional goals right now. I mean I have pragmatic goals of like, “I have to get my third book done because I’m already way behind schedule.” But in terms of, “What do I do next?,” I actually don’t know. And that’s a uncomfortable place to be because I have financial commitments, I have people asking me, I have people being like, “What’s next? Where do you go from here?” My agents like, “Okay, cool. What,” and I’m like, “I don’t know.” But there is a certain type of satisfaction in having the free, clear, open head space to be able to explore some of those things without having three more goals already set for myself. And that’s not criticism of you, that’s just I’m at a different place.

 

Kyle Gray:

Fair enough.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

So I have found the fewer specific goals I set, the more satisfied I am, which does not mean that’s the way it is for anybody else. Because for me, in the enthesis, I’m a sort of very kind of flowy, things change a lot over time. To your point, I’ve done lots of different things over the years. The more specific I am about my goals, the more myopic I get about achieving them. - Dallas Hartwig Click To TweetAnd you can use the analogy of playing football and advancing the ball down upon down and making touchdown or not. But at the end of the day, what do you do? You move the goal line, you make another first down. I don’t know much about football, I’m from Canada. I don’t do this stuff. I think that’s how it works. But then, okay cool, you made a first down or you made a touchdown and then you just do it all over again. And then the game’s over eventually and you’re like, “Okay, cool. I had six,” or 60, or 6,000, “successes.” Who cares? I don’t think in those win/lose terms. So I think ultimately it comes down to, again, knowing what matters to you. And if making the most touchdowns in your life is actually what matters most to you, do it. Get a sense of satisfaction from that. That’s just not my process.

 

Kyle Gray:

So as we follow this path that you’re illustrating for us, discovering who we are, what we want, and kind of being able to separate ourselves from the message and the narrative that society is offering us instead, whether it’s with food, eating better, changing your diet, or changing the way you interact with technology or pursuing a goal, it requires a certain amount of deviance.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Yeah.

 

Kyle Gray:

At first, when I started changing my diet and being more careful with what I eat, it was a little bit challenging to ask the waiter or waitress every time, “Hey, can I have gluten-free bun with that or a lettuce wrap?,” yeah, changing around the orders, or being at somebody’s house and being like, “Sorry, that’s just not on the menu for me.” So it’s a muscle that you need to work, this deviance muscle. And how do you recommend people start practicing that and growing that muscle and that attitude of deviance to be able to pursue what’s truly the best for them instead of what the world offers us?

 

The Power Of Deliberate And Deviant Living With Dallas HartwigDallas Hartwig:

Yeah, I mean that’s the million dollar question. And I’ll point directly to my dear friend and colleague, Pilar Gerasimo. I think I can say this, she’s writing a book called The Healthy Deviant. And that’s something that she’s worked on, a concept she’s worked on developing for 20+ years now and has written extensively about it. And I was very fortunate to just get a copy of the manuscript last week. So that’ll be out I believe December or January, so it’s coming up soon. But drawing heavily on her perspective, that concept of healthy deviants, not just of rebellious deviants, of counter-culturalism but the concept of thoughtful deviants, what matters to me and the recognition that conformity to the current, messed up norms doesn’t produce outcomes that anybody wants. And if you agree with that statement, then we can get to a place we’re like, “Okay, if I want something better than not good, I have to do something different.”

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And so then recognizing that all of those norms, all of those conventions, work well for economic growth. They work well for social compliance and keeping law and order, so to speak. But they don’t really work well to make individual people deeply happy. So there has to be the willingness to question like, “Oh man, maybe we’re not actually on the right track here,” as a culture overall, and then say, “Okay,” if we think that’s true, “what do I as an individual, which is all I can control, what do I as an individual do differently?” And it’s not an easy process because you very quickly find yourself misunderstood, alone, confused about yourself, about your own identity, about your own values and goals, judged by other people, as you’ve probably experienced with some of this stuff. And the great thing about something like food is that the social norms are slowly shifting, so it’s not so weird now to go into a restaurant and ask for a gluten-free option as it was 10 or 20 years ago. And so, in that sense, some of the social norms are making it easier for us to make healthy choices.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But in a lot of other ways… A friend of mine said to me recently, talking about dating, and she was like, “I need to find somebody who’s not on Instagram.” And I was like, “Why?” And then I was like, “Oh yeah, yes, I got it.” But that willingness to say, “Okay, this is a thing that many people do,” but the thoughtfulness it requires and the sort of intestinal fortitude to do a different thing is a certain statement, is a certain corollary of strength of character and clarity about values. And I always come up with this… I’m a scientist, I always think about, from a biological standpoint, if you remember back to your high school biology class where you watched the video of cells, one cell dividing and kind of pulling apart and becoming this figure eight shape and then there’s two different cells there. And I have this recurring vision of society being a lot like that where we have an unbalanced division, a mitotic division there of people who are staying the course, being pretty unconscious, being pretty conventional, and they will plummet to their own oblivion, if my prediction is correct.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And then there is a subset, there’s a different group that has to painfully pull apart and extract themselves from that convention and free themselves to do a different thing. And that’s a painful, odd, excruciating, confusing, disorienting, exhausting process. So how to do that, in short, I don’t have a short answer on that. A lot of it has to do with recognizing that you may or may not be on the right track right now. And then you’re free to say, “I wanted it to be different.”

 

Kyle Gray:

I think I have a short one or an easy practice.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

I’m ready.

 

Kyle Gray:

I learned this from Tim Ferriss. But he says, “Buy a weird pair of pants. Not so weird that people just know you’re being crazy but just a little bit weird so people are like, ‘Are you sure you wanted to wear those pants?'”

 

Dallas Hartwig:

I have a pair of those pants actually.

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

They’re burgundy corduroy.

 

Kyle Gray:

There you go.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

They’re just… Maybe they might not but…

 

Kyle Gray:

They’re just… Yeah, yeah. You just want them to be just bad enough that people are like, “Did you really?”

 

Dallas Hartwig:

“Did you do that on purpose?”

 

Kyle Gray:

Uh-huh.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Yeah.

 

Kyle Gray:

And just being able to do that and be in situations where you’ve got to be a little bit professional or show up, you just kind of work that muscle and practice being a little bit deviant.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Right.

 

Kyle Gray:

But it’s surprising that that’s the same thing that everything else requires that we’ve been talking about.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Yeah, I like that. I think it’s a good one. My girlfriend will not be seen in public with me wearing a denim shirt with denim pants. She won’t be seen in public with me.

 

Kyle Gray:

I don’t understand that.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

I don’t understand. Canadian tuxedos are classy.

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But apparently not everyone agrees with me. But that’s one of those things, that’s my version of the weird pair of pants.

 

Kyle Gray:

Oh, that’s great.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

But, yeah, I think that’s a good starting point.

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah. Dallas, we’ve covered a tremendous amount on how we can live better, how we can live more consciously, and how we can live a life that really serves us and not set up to serve a narrative that’s not in our interest. Do you have any closing thoughts to share, and then we’ll open it up for a few questions?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Closing thoughts, I think one of the things that I’m kicking around a lot these days is this recognition that I’ve spent so much time in my life conforming to parents’ standards, teachers’ standards, boss’s standards, friends, colleagues, society at large’s standards that I haven’t really, really figured out who the Dallas is way at the bottom, the one that I probably left behind when I was five. And I think that’s an experience that, in talking to friends, I think a lot of us have and may not really even recognize that that’s the thing. So I would encourage, and this is me giving myself advice, I would encourage further exploration of that. Because ultimately, we go way off track a lot without recognizing that we’re off track. And then things don’t feel good and we don’t know why. And so I’m like, “Okay, let’s strip it down, let’s go back to basics and figure out who am I all the way at the bottom, when I’m by myself, when no one can see what I’m doing and no one knows my thoughts, no one knows what I want to do. Who is that person and what does that person care about?” And that can be both unsettling to look at and also really healing. And that’s the journey that I’m on and the journey that I would encourage everyone to kind of undertake for themselves.

 

Kyle Gray:

Well, Dallas, I can’t wait to meet the Dallas that you’re working on and you’re bringing forward. And thank you so much for joining us today.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Thank you.

 

Kyle Gray:

Are there any questions?

 

Dallas Hartwig:

I think the question, if I’m getting it right, is if I don’t set very specific, very tangible, quantifiable goals, what do I do in place of that? Is that about right?

 

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

For me, it’s so much more about the process, so much more about moving through the experience of life and recognizing that I can set professional goals, I can set personal-growth goals that are more likely to be achieved if I write them down, I do all the goal-setting stuff that works really well. But that doesn’t necessarily get me to the place I want to go. So a lot of it, for me, has become identifying areas of my life that don’t feel good and just putting attention on those. And that could be relationships, that could be the way I spend my time, it could be my health, it could be any number of things, and just identifying, “Where do I feel friction? Where do I feel a lot of resistance? Where do I feel discomfort or pain or just a lot of suffering?” And then letting that naturally kind of follow me into that space and to put more attention on it, because that changes over time.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

As we iterate ourselves, what we put attention on evolves over time. And I don’t have a sequence or a thing there, for me, for better or worse, it’s a very organic, malleable, free-flowing process, but it starts with identifying what doesn’t feel good, i.e, “What do I want to be different?” And once I know what I want to be different, then I can start inquiring, “How do I achieve that?” And often, going all the way back to your point about the Whole30, some is experimentation. It is, “This thing with my health or my food doesn’t feel quite right. Something’s not right there.” And I sometimes don’t know what the endpoint or what the long-term behavior is or the pattern or habit that it needs to be to make it feel really good, but I do know that that’s the place I need to start exploring.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And I think, again, Occam’s razor, simple solutions, if you have a gut sense that you’re not putting enough attention on your physical health, start putting some more attention on that. And the things that we put the most effort into excusing and justifying and avoiding looking at are usually the things that are our biggest stumbling block. So when I suggest to people, “Oh, I see that your diet’s really pretty good but I also noticed that you’re drinking most nights of the week. Maybe giving that a break for a while might prompt some kind of progress.” And they’re like, “No, it’s totally fine,” and they get this very defensive posture. The more defensive you are, the more important it is to you on some profound level. And if you find yourself getting really good at justifying things or emotionally responsive and sort of reactive and defensive, that’s a dead giveaway that that’s the thing you need to look at. So it’s kind of the litmus test of, “How much do you hate me for saying this?,” that’s the thing.

 

Kyle Gray:

I like that a lot.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

So the question then is how do I know if I feel good?

 

Speaker 4:

I guess that’s it.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

Is that right?

 

Kyle Gray:

Yeah.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

If you don’t feel good, you know. If you do feel good, you probably know. And so I don’t know that it’s actually useful to try to quantitatively define, “Do I feel good?,” to myself, relative to somebody else, relative to some objective external standard. If you are perfectly content in your life, I don’t want to change anything. If everything feels good, I don’t want to change anything. If you tell me everything feels good but you say to yourself, “Well, not really,” all that really is happening there is sort of self-delusion. And that’s not my business to meddle with. But if something doesn’t feel good to you, you’ll probably know because you’ll probably notice a yearning for it to be different, some piece of it. Right? And we have these deep, profound yearnings of like, “Hey, I wish this thing in my life was different,” or, “I hope that in 10 years it’ll be that way instead of the way it is now.” And so the recognition that we want it to be different than it is, there’s the litmus test.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And it’s different for every single person. And this is actually one of the aspects of the Whole30 that I still really stand by in every other self-experiment is I don’t need to or don’t want to, it actually works against the process of self-exploration and self-development for some external expert, guru, whoever, to say, “This is what you should eat,” and how much, at what times of day for this outcome. I don’t know any of that for you, and neither does anybody else. And the ones that say they do are lying, usually to themselves because they think they do. But if it feels good for you, you know. And if it doesn’t feel good for you, you’re the only one that’s going to know whether it feels better or worse when you start changing things. And so start changing things, and start at the place that feels the least good.

 

Dallas Hartwig:

And what often happens, and this is, again, what happened a lot when people started changing their diet with the Whole30 program, if that was an area where they were like, “I really need to put attention on my health, on nutrition,” and they started changing that, lots of times relationships, creativity, sleep, and many other things in life, that were lesser issues but still didn’t feel good, started to self-resolve. Because these things are all interrelated. So what you might find is if you start with the most obvious place that doesn’t feel good, some of the other things may just start to feel better. And you might not even notice that until weeks or months or years later where you’re like, “Oh yeah, I used to get that really bad seasonal allergy thing or used to have seasonal depression in the wintertime. And I kind of don’t have that anymore.” And you don’t even notice because it just never reappeared. So long-winded way of saying you are the only person who knows whether it feels good for you or not. I can’t tell you that.

 

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.