Living the Real

Your attention is your greatest commodity - a conversation with Dr. Mark Kissler

November 05, 2020 Matt Boettger and Dr. Mark Kissler Episode 14
Living the Real
Your attention is your greatest commodity - a conversation with Dr. Mark Kissler
Chapters
Living the Real
Your attention is your greatest commodity - a conversation with Dr. Mark Kissler
Nov 05, 2020 Episode 14
Matt Boettger and Dr. Mark Kissler

I'm excited to have Dr. Mark Kissler back on the show to talk about the idea of attention. This is something that has been on his mind for quite some time now, and in light of all that is going on to grab our attention, I think it is an excellent time to chat about it!

Things talked about in the episode:

  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Please consider supporting this podcast:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/ltr)

Show Notes Transcript

I'm excited to have Dr. Mark Kissler back on the show to talk about the idea of attention. This is something that has been on his mind for quite some time now, and in light of all that is going on to grab our attention, I think it is an excellent time to chat about it!

Things talked about in the episode:

  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Please consider supporting this podcast:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/ltr)

Matt Boettger:

What is your attention on right this very second. Is it my voice, this podcast, maybe a conflict there's unresolved work issues, drama, family, your career choices. The fact that you maybe are not where you want to be right now in life. Attention is the number one commodity that everybody's fighting for right now. And it's so easy to get distracted and to attend to those things that really aren't real in our life. This is why I'm having this episode. I bring on dr. Mark Kissler, a good friend of mine. He's a doctor at university of Colorado, which has been a big focus of his study and reading lately on how he can attend better to his patients, which clearly pours over to everything. We're not siloed individuals. What we do at our work impacts our home life. And so I hope you enjoy this episode about attention and how we can cultivate it. What is it and why it's just so dang difficult to attend. So the most important things are life. All right. So let's get to it. Are you living the most real life possible? I ask myself this question all the time. Most of the time, the answer is. I just don't know, but sometimes the answer is definitely not. This is why I have this podcast. I'm Matt Bacher and welcome to the show. Two small things. If you get a chance, please leave a review like on Apple podcasts and also check out my website, live in the real.com where I offer lots of resources in how to live the most real life possible. Now on with the show. Okay, Mark. Welcome to the show again. It's good to have you back, buddy. How you doing?

Mark Kissler:

Thanks. Yeah, it's great to be back. I'm good. I'm good. It's great to see you.

Matt Boettger:

Yeah, it's great to you too. I'd say we, you know, we're on different podcasts. I'm having to come on here. We're trying to figure out, gosh, it's, it's fun to rift together. And so like, Can we come on a couple more times a month on living in the Rio chat and your schedule is a little wonky dude. So it's not like you, you don't have a regular,

Mark Kissler:

I'm not very consistent, but

Matt Boettger:

no, no, not at all. So it's, I mean, it fits our previous podcast. Your life is complicated. So it's, just trying to get ahold of you during those times. You're a busy guy,

Mark Kissler:

but it's what this is nice. I think this gives us a chance to go a little deeper about. Some of the things that we touch on, you know, we try and keep the other one really science focused as much as possible. and this is fun to talk a little bit about the processes. I think behind, you know, the, the ideal case, you know, the things we're, we're shooting for, you know, in terms of how we think about complex problems and things like that.

Matt Boettger:

And that's, I think how it all, how it all began, where we I've. Living the real was. So they had been doing for a few years and it kind of started to come to the surface. And then when you and I, and Steven kind of came together with, with the other podcast, it was kind of this blend of gosh, man. We definitely want to provide science and insight. And we also want. To create a context to deal with this in a human way. But I think we've realized that like there's so much coming at us a lot of times, we're, we're always stuck in the science realm for about 95%. And every once in a while we get these awesome value bombs. They're just dropped you. Typically, you do that at the middle of nowhere and, and they're pretty awesome. And then we go though deeper, but it's not the normal rhythm of our, of our other ones. So I'm glad to have you on.

Mark Kissler:

Yeah. Yeah. It's been an interesting, I mean, I think this, we talk about it almost ad nauseum, but at this year has really put a point on how, how it's not enough just to eat, how we have to have really robust ways about thinking about things and put almost as, you know, as much attention in how we know as what we know. and so it's been interesting to riff with you and Steven and kind of, you know, talk about our different worlds and, eh, you know, and even as connected as we are, with zoom and podcasts and whatever, it's funny how at the same time, everybody feels a little bit like their own in their own. Little world these days. I feel that really strongly. So it's great to, it's great to just kind of connect about all that stuff.

Matt Boettger:

Let's start with this. So what's going on in your life? Were you talking a little bit before we, we prepped for like 10 minutes before we did this, that was the maximum prep. And I want to know what's going on. What's something that's been surfacing in your life. You mentioned something you've watched recently. That sounds good. That I haven't

Mark Kissler:

watched yet. Yeah, we were just talking about, the, hidden life by it's a film, that Terrence Malick just put out a couple of months ago. I'm a big fan of Terrence Malick. So I like his kind of a quasi slow, it's, it's like right at the interface between, you know, real art film and kind of more popular film. and so I find it like it's accessible, but it's slow and it's, and it's really kind of is reflective and, and ruminative. Approach to filmmaking, which I love. And it's just so beautiful and spare. so anyway, this movie is, is about, a man who was a conscientious, objector. He was a farmer in Austria and a conscientious objector of sorts, during world war two. And I say of sorts because it wasn't as if he was, it was very much not like, you know, I. Like he was going through the legal processes of being a conscientious objector or anything like that. It was just that he was kind of pushed to a certain point and there was a certain point to which he wouldn't cross that line. Like he wouldn't make an oath of allegiance to Hitler and then everything that happened as a result of that single refusal, and the way that he had to sustain that, that it wasn't one big moment of like, no, but it was really just this grueling months long. Consistent kind of commitment to that. you know, to that in moving stance, it was really remarkable. Beautiful. And it, it, brought out sort of the, the life of his family and particularly his wife, I thought was just heroic in this movie. and it's based on a true story, really, really well done, and very, very heavy, very kind of emotionally impacting. but I've been thinking about it a lot since I watched it. It was great.

Matt Boettger:

Well, it was winter. You just mentioned this, a conscientious objector and how it's not, my mind is kind of blipping out. I have not watched this, so this is something totally new. Now there's other films by him. Right. I don't even know. I don't think I've watched anything.

Mark Kissler:

Yeah, he's done a lot of great stuff. So, he did then red line, days of heaven. He did tree of life was kind of the big, recent one that, you know, he's done a few since then, but that was kind of the biggest theatrical release that he has done in recent memory. Okay.

Matt Boettger:

well, I couldn't help, but to think when you said that about this, how it wasn't just like one event by which it was as culminating event where she had to make a decision, which I feel like, Oh man, I feel like. There's a lot of films that are kind of followed that format of everything builds this one moment at which you make a decision. And like, man, have we been groomed to carve and create life that moves this direction so that when it doesn't, it just does violence to our soul. And so what am I thinking about thinking about the pandemic? I think when you were saying like, this is what it's been like, it's like this long grueling now, you know, kind of getting into the topic that we're talking about. Attention, exhausting attention. To this pandemic of COVID when you just want to escape. And the really, the only way you can escape is a state home and have no contact with the outside world. Otherwise, if you have any contact, it's just constant attention, attention, intention, I'm exhausted. And why there's so many people saying, forget this, like I'm just moving to a different reality. I am just changing my behavior. I'm going back to normal. I don't care about whatever's going on and to seeing that, and that's like on a micro level to here. What this, in this particular context, the hidden life of, of the consequence of, of staying strong is way more dramatic and acute in the pandemic.

Mark Kissler:

And not necessarily glamorous, there's this, I think there's this way that we kind of valorize like the, you know, the single kind of glorious martyrdom of, you know, somebody who, who has, who makes this big stand and, you know, and influences all these people as a result. And one of the things that I loved about this film, you know, of course the story has grown and influenced people, but at the time, you know, he, he had no way of knowing. That it would, and he was told again and again, like, nobody's going to hear about this. Like this is utterly few tile. and yet it kind of the fortitude to just like to stay and to do, you know, it's, it's very big. It's, it's one of those things that there's so many angles of approach in, to this story. And there's so many like different things about the film itself that are worth. Sort of a slow reading of, and, and, but that's one of the things that's sticking with me at least today as I think back on it. So

Matt Boettger:

yeah, more things that kind of surface in my, in my mind, you were talking about that, about how this. He was able to keep his attention on something that is mundane. There is unknown uncertainty yet at the same time, he was able to remain steadfast in this kind of banal, like reality and not knowing the specific outcome. And I guess, I guess I would propose like what makes. The subject of hand, we want to talk about just the nature of attention, because we feel like, gosh, it's like, I know in my own life, I suffer with a lack of attention, or what I'm attending to and how much attention to it. it feels like this is a really important topic to just chat about, but when it comes to those, like maybe like hallmark figures who have this sense of attention and steadfastness, and being able to stick with something that they believe in, right. Even though you don't know the outside, what's. What is the difference? Like what's, what's, what's the defining characteristic of someone like this person who has the capacity to attend, right. To something that with no one known where many of us, like, I can't stick with something for 10 minutes, right before I'm either being, being influenced to let it go get rid of it, move to something else. What is what's difference between what's the there's. We have these two types of people that can keep one in one way or another and another.

Mark Kissler:

Yeah. It's I don't know. I think so attention is such a big topic. I think that in some ways it's, attention is something that we can study. you know, you could just study, you could devote your whole life to studying the different manifestations of attention and the ways that it relates to human excellence to compassion, to kind of the ways that we become who we are. and so there's, there's just so much there. I've been thinking a lot about it in the context of my medical work, and what the role of attention is in, being with. Patients, and then also with kind of technological competence and excellence there. But I think to your question of. You know, what makes some people able to attend? There is something semi heroic about it, right. That we think about. and I think about it in, you know, we see it in a lot of different places. I think we see it in, you know, in a man like, like that. We see it in an artist. I think, a lot of times that, that who's someone who's able to sustain this vision through all of the rough drafts and the. You know, the times where it feels terrible and failed and, and, and then is able to kind of see through that to a finished product. And that takes a tremendous amount of attention. And of course, I think one of the biggest places that I see attention in my daily life is the type of care that, ordinary people can extend towards other people. Like my mother's, caring for my grandmother was pretty profound dementia. and we were just, you know, we just had a doctor's appointment all together yesterday. Then, and just the amount of it's not necessarily that it's like a. you know, it's, it's not like this, this is it's, it's a type of attention, actually. So Simone Bay who's, who is a French philosopher writer kind of mystic. it said something like, and this is a quote that Abraham Nussbaum actually directed me to something like attention. Attention is the purest form of generosity, that there's this sort of self gift component to that. And so I think so. So the question then is, you know, what makes some people able to attend and others not. And I really do think that, Yeah, it's something that takes a huge amount of practice, at least in what I've read and seemed to see around me is that it's not something that necessarily, I think you may be born with a tendency to value that. but it is something that atrophies, if you don't. Practice it, and it is something I think that if you do intentionally practice, it potentially can, your, your powers to attend can really increase in very meaningful ways. it's tricky because our environments are engineered in such a way to prevent. Or sustained attention, in a lot of ways,

Matt Boettger:

which makes sense. I would say, I mean, if you just on an evolutionary level, I mean, I think we're just hardwired for self-preservation and attention is that is, is the, is the kind of the inverse it's actually. not self preservation. That really is self gift. It's like letting go of oneself. And it seems, it seems to scream the violence against, on the, on the most, on the most simplest level of preservation. And that's why I want to get to you like,

Mark Kissler:

Oh, go ahead. Which makes sense. I think, you know, if in, we have to be careful with like, you know, pseudo, evolutionary, like we can get into pseudoscience really fast, but there is a sense in which like, that makes sense. Like I want to be distracted by the snake coiled at the, you know, the outside of my cave. Right. I want to be able to be pulled out of myself, you know, not self-absorbed really it's other absorbed, you know, whether it's another person or something outside of myself, Into the here and now, but the trick is we have, w we have the situation in which we often don't have snakes coiled outside of our doors, but we do have. Email alerts on our cell phone. And we do have, you know, news news flashes that are urgent, you know, but it's actually the same news that it's been for, you know, year and a half. And, just like rehashed in a different way. And that by hijacking that kind of limbic, you know, kind of animal sense of, I need, this is important for my survival. We get all these things that are actually. Destructive to our flourishing, that command our attention all the time. And it's a really perverse situation that we find ourselves in. I think, a lot of the time our environments are no longer really adapted to that type of, that balance between attending to the here and now and attending to these bigger things.

Matt Boettger:

just for the sake of the people listening, I guess, throw into you. Why would attention even be valuable to begin with? I mean, It's it's it's we can talk about it. And it's context of, there are people who can attend greatly and those who don't and just are constantly from one thing to the next, and aren't present for very long with people around them. Why does it even matter if. What's the value of, of building, a strength of being able to attend to someone else or something?

Mark Kissler:

Yeah. I mean, I think, maybe there's a case to be made for someone who's able to do to multitask and do everything at once. And there's certain. You know, roles for that, but there's an interesting way in which I think we, and, and so a couple of the authors that I know that we share, like, Cal Newport and, Matthew Crawford, have talked a little bit about the ways that in our contemporary kind of knowledge work sphere, a lot, a huge amount of. Of us are doing work. That's not a deep craftsmanship, you know, necessarily we're not like making these really complex things. We're dealing with ideas, you know, but the, the way that we deal with those ideas, the most deeply, and kind of the most in, in get to the place where it's more transformative creative work, requires that kind of attention. we can do a lot. We can be very, very busy and very, very kind of pseudo, productive. If we're not, if we're multitasking all the time and we're in constant contact and communication with everybody around us. And, you know, we respond to emails and clear the inbox immediately and things like that, but it's a diff it's a fundamentally different kind of work and orientation to work. and those, you know, those authors and others argue that there's something inherently satisfying about work that happens in a state of deep attention. so I know there's like, The idea of flow. Are you familiar with kind of the idea of flow crazy? Oh, you do remember that. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's Haley. I don't, I'm not going to it's like, she'd say the Haley or something. I don't want to pretend to, I've tried. I've like tried to shout out

Matt Boettger:

so you guys can try to sack the

Mark Kissler:

podcast is not the time to like launch it. Yeah. But anyway, cause like, cause not only, well I butchered accidentally visits then preserved for posterity that I did that. So that's great. But. But, but the sense that like flow, you know, is the state of, again, sort of a certain type of self forgetfulness, where the interface between you and what you're doing really collapses. And you're just in this state of like extreme attention, you know, and it's difficult. It takes, you, you in, but you enjoy the difficulty of that. Like you're in, you're enjoying that. Freedom is kind of a sense of your own action, and your ability to act and do something meaningful. And so I think there's this inherent satisfaction to attentive work that, that is often really crowded out by the urgencies or pseudo urgencies that we encounter.

Matt Boettger:

Yeah, I, this a lot of things percolating right now. I, when the thing, the image, I think you mentioned the artist concept and I feel like the value of attention is the difference between a copy and an original, right? When our life is not having a focus of attention, we just are copies. So this I'm thinking of a lot of things like school. the way a way our educational system has a tendency to work by just, here's what you memorize and you're on your test is what you're expected. To regurgitate back, right? This is a copy. This requires not, not a, not a great sense of attention, but just simply ability to memorize the formulas to be able to. And I remember I wrote, I watched this documentary like seven years ago. I forgot what it was. It was about the educational system. I was at the university of Colorado. I watched it. It was really good, but just the fear, right? I don't know, to what extent this will manifest itself in the coming 20 or 30 years of these, these students coming up. Caribbean educated in this kind of system of there is demands by students to say, after an exam, wait a minute, you didn't ask the question the way you were told us you were going to ask a question and that's why I failed this, this, this, this inability to be creative and be nuanced and to give answers. And then the fear was, gosh, you know, in your, in your area of expertise, what are these people come down and become doctors? 30 40 years from now. And there's an unknown pandemic, right. Or whatever, and requires, it's no longer in the context of a book and that you just can't carbon copies something out of a, of a manual. So I think it's, especially for us, I think it resonates deeply with me. That attention is to cultivate attention is the same thing as cultivating a sense of creating, right. And our, both of our spiritual traditions. Is is, is basically about how we co-create with God, right? That's our school tradition. So that's the highest call of a human is to co-create. Now we can see that and on the maintain level of marriage and, and, and that kind of stuff, but I mean, in general, that's our kind of our desire. And, and w and when you talk about the flow, I feel like flow is this mysterious ability to insert ourselves into the realm, this like mystical reality of creation, right? While we're like, we're doing something, that's not just a copy, but we're, we're bringing our, where we've we let go of ourselves. And we're creating an original on some concept we're entering to this with reality of that being. So I think attention is so important. So I, in my mind, I'm like, gosh, I have, I struggle with attention. Not just not necessarily add, like I can be focused, I can be focused on something. I can just, I can grind it out for an hour, but I, maybe my attention may be on the wrong thing. I was just talking about how I was with someone and in a, not so good a situation. And I was attending to an aspect of their life thinking that I was on it, like, this is the right thing. And I was just. I was not. And I was in the wrong spot and not attending to, to the right circumstances, not only attending, but understanding the other person before you to know what you're attending to, that actually is received by them as well.

Mark Kissler:

Yeah, I think, I mean, there's, there's, I think, and it could do as well. And I think even to just start, I don't think we can do it here, but to start to define like, what is attention, you know, and when, what do we mean when we're talking about it? Cause we think we know what we mean, but maybe there's a little bit more of a precision that we can add to that, which then includes, you know, what are we attending to and, and what does that mean? You know, to sustain that attention to something. I think it all seems to be that there's, it seems, it seems as if there's, There's sort of a discipline around it, you know, sort of a practice around attending well, and, that includes discernment as to its objects. That includes like our own. Practices around, how do we create a, you know, an environment and a life for ourselves in which we can sustain our attention on the things that matter, and that, you know, that we want to attend to, instead of having our attention be commanded by somebody else's idea of what they want us to attend to. you know, and, and I think there's, there's just a hole without being over some, you know, reductive about it. I think that there's a lot of ways that. Our pursuit of, you know, being excellent at things, is related to, or can be looked at through the lens of, you know, what are the ways that we cultivate, right?

Matt Boettger:

Mm. Yeah. I I'm thinking of, I mean, again, I, for me, And again, I think like, yeah, I'm sure there's. We can talk about the specific objective definition of attention in my mind. I guess I come from here where I suffer from and attention for me is that this striving to see the real that is before me. Right. It's the striving part, because I think oftentimes my attention, if I, if I don't have the attention, I'm either quickly just applying my preconception, my judgment, and which we all come with. We all have our cognitive biases are, but yeah. But allowing that to be the rule of our life versus saying, Nope, that is just one variable that I bring to the table. But my goal is to constantly strive to check my precept positions, my, my, my, my, my, my theories, whatever it is with what's really before me and allow that, which is before me to reeducate my presupposition. That's I think that the, the, the hard work of attention, versus just allowing your natural propensity to be. Thrown at the thing before it does that.

Mark Kissler:

Yeah. Yeah, I think, I mean, it folds in nicely with your kind of your larger project on living the real, which is the sense that, as, as much as we have, as much as we can to come into a better understanding of the things that are real and the things that are not real, and, and then attending to those things that are. Really there and then conforming ourselves to reality, as opposed to, you know, the opposite of that, which is like, kind of living in, in a more constructed sense and expecting the world to conform. To us. there's, there's this funny way. I know I don't want to keep bringing it back to our, I don't think technology is necessarily the problem. but I do think that technology manifests a lot of, sort of our worst tendencies around attention. but one of the very simple example is the way that most of our information gathering sources these days, whether it's, news feeds or. Facebook or YouTube or any of these things, learn your preferences based on what you've seen in the past and present things in accord with what you've looked at in the past. And so what you're creating is this kind of aperture that you're looking at the world through that has been. Changed based on your, you know, kind of all those things that you, you bring, those, those biases, those tendencies, those things that you like, and it subtly reinforces that over and over and over again, as opposed to, you know, I think in a more ideal case you're encountering. To the world, you know, the real world out there and conforming yourself to that as opposed to conforming your, your vision to what you already think. and it's hard. I mean, I think the question then is like, how does one in a little way move towards that? you know, I think, I'm not in a place right now where like becoming a desert hermit makes any sense. I don't anticipate becoming a desert hermit, you know, at any point in the near future. but. There ideally are ways that we look at these examples, you know, these, these examples of people who exhibit human excellence, whether it's in, in what they're able to create or in what they're able to do in relationship, or, you know, any of those things. And so it's like, how do we, how do we nudge ourselves a little bit towards that example? and that's something that I think is. w you know, worthwhile to think about

Matt Boettger:

absolutely. I mean, do you going back, and again, as we begin to wrap this up and I kind of want to talk about, you know, well, one thing is just that story, you know, I think what's so alluring what's, so just captivating is, is a simple thing of just staying with something, staying with something when it hurts and just, and, and, and, and that is an important, cause I think our natural disposition. Is to, as soon as it hurts is to run away. Right. At least I feel like, I feel like it's something that can be mine. It's a first go-to, to, you know, the, the old pivot or persevere. And that is, and I would say it is to, to, to pivot and to run away and not to stay with it. And so that's the first thing that comes to mind. And for you, like, what is something when it comes to attention that you feel like you're trying to like. What first resonates with you in your own life with attention. Right. And, and, and, and, and, where do you see. You're life growing in attention.

Mark Kissler:

those are good questions. I mean, I think there's, so there's one place that it resonates a lot is professionally. So I'm thinking a little bit structurally about the way that we do business in the hospital. and the ways that a lot of the things that we do that increase art. What are our parent connectivity? You know, our avail avail our ability to be reached at any time from anyone in the hospital actually can be really counterproductive to the type of deep interpersonal attention that I want to be able to give to my patients and that there are structural issues around that. So there's ways that we use, like, this is a Cal Newport thing, but we use busy-ness as a. As a proxy for productivity. and it's like, well, if I'm busy, if I'm communicating a lot, then I must be doing something. When in fact that's actually often the opposite is the case. and so I've been thinking of it a little bit about that on a professional level, on a personal level. you know, far more, I think, right now I'm thinking a lot about how do I, how do I strip away some of the less essential, dis kind of highly distracting. Things, whether it's media or, or kind of like what often it's media actually, for the most part where it's these things that are constantly calling out for my attention and like, I need to be personally invested in emotionally invested in this story right now. It's like, well, actually, maybe I don't. Yeah. And so I've been trying to turn that off a little bit more, and then I think the, the other way is trying to think, and I'd love to hear any thoughts that you have about this, about how to create an environment in which you're raising kids, for, you know, in, and starting to build the foundation for them to have attention when they grow up. Cause I look at our, you know, I look at my kids who are really young right now and, you know, they have a huge amount more. Kind of highly distracting, highly personally tailored technologies that are kind of coming in at them at every moment than I ever did growing up in. And I think that's only going to increase. And so how do I create a foundation in which they learn? How do I tend to think slowly and how do I sit with something for a long time? And in large part that has meant, you know, trying to keep really limit the amount of, of exposure that they have to these highly stimulating artificial environments and try and. Get into less stimulating immediately real environments, whether it's outside or, you know, with slower toys, you know, things like just coloring and like sitting with things like that. And I think it's, you know, All of that sounds a little bit simplistic in some ways, but I see it as building a capacity, you know, that ideally that they, then when they get a little bit older, they have this foundation where like, Oh, I can I have the power to attend a little bit longer, you know? And then that. Builds because it's so pleasurable, you know, when you make something beautiful, it's so pleasurable or when you're really present with somebody, it feels so good that then you want more of it. I think it's just like giving them enough of a foundation that, that doesn't get drowned out by all the other things that are competing for their attention right now.

Matt Boettger:

Yeah.

Mark Kissler:

Great stuff. Have a pretty grim view of the way that we, I have a pretty cynical view of the way that our attention has become, the biggest commodity. I, I feel like our attention is being bought and sold outside of our own lives. And you know, other people have an interest in me watching their advertisements and in the reading their news sources and in me doing these things. And, but I have a, I, I have a big stake in my own attention too. And, I don't, you know, I don't know often hadn't until recently started thinking about that in sort of this antagonistic way that if I give my attention over to these other things, that means that I'm not attending to the things that matter. you know, and, and so, I think that there's a real struggle kind of at the heart of our, you know, what we, in these, in these little, very mundane ways, that it's, but it's a pretty profound struggle because you don't get to be the kind of person you don't get. You don't wake up one day and are suddenly the kind of person who can endure imprisonment, torture, and death for an eye for a worthy idea. That's not something. I'm going on about this a little bit. I apologize, but there's this beautiful. I love them. Do you know the power and the glory? Graham Green's novel. there's this meditation right in the middle of, about how uncommon is the, the deathbed conversion. You know, there's this, we have this whole story. We're talking about the beginning about like the glorious martyrdom or like the one big decision that you make, you know, or like the deathbed conversion. Like you lived your life in this one way, and then you make this radical change at the end. And there's this brilliant insight, you know, that Graham green kind of draws through his character of like how. Oh, how utterly rare that is that how much more often our life is actually. Yes. It like, it is the sum of all the little tiny decisions that we made on the way, and that you're not going to suddenly become an able to do this amazing feat, you know, of attending to the real, if you haven't practiced that over and over and over and over again, you know, before. so anyway, those are, those are kind of the things that I've been stewing on a little bit in the background is we're trying to just like, I don't know. Yeah, make breakfast and get the kids up to school and survive another day, you know?

Matt Boettger:

All right. You know, it, this is exactly living the real living, the real it's really the Mo a very small nuanced life. It's a small thing. It's the habit. It's not some big grandiose pivot or change your life. It's a bunch of small. Actions that come together to accumulate this, something that transforms your life. You're talking about your kids. Like, I mean, just the simple things of what you just said. You know, my wife and I looking at what shows they watch and if they're too fast, we try to find slower ones like tumble leaf out of your wife's unbelief. Tumble leaf is like a slow. Moving thoughtful. you know, but if you go to like, Oh, the airplane ones and the, the, the they're like fast, they just constantly are moving from scene to scene. And these small things cultivate in our children, an incapacity to be able to sit with anything. So that's one thing we're doing. I think the biggest thing we'll end on this, but I think you mentioned something that was so powerful is what do we do to help. Bust increase our ability to attend. And I think you just said like the biggest commodity is attention. What, what we're being inundated with is people, social media things, constantly telling us how we ought to live, behave, act, right. They're telling us we're being informed by other people. So how then do we invert this and live in intent of examined life? Well, then we need to make sure that we strive to create environments within ourselves. Other, the people that is no longer about telling people what they should think believe behave do, which is my go-to. If I'm coaching someone and I'm dealing with something, when the first thing I'm gonna to do, as soon as I see an insight, I want to tell them, aha, this is where you should go. Right. But that is now taking, taking the whole idea of attention and commodity of social media and using it against them the best way we can actually reverse this. And sit with our kids is moving away from telling someone what they should do, or your opinions about them. And focusing on simply questions and questions that are not Y oriented because Y typically, like you've mentioned to me has, has a, has a negative connotation, but simply with what. When and how questions with our kids instead of going to right away and telling them how they misbehaved to sit with them and ask the questions. They can actually come to the self-revelation and be attentive to their self of how they misbehaved and they did wrong. And it's really hard with a four-year-old, but it's hard with a 42 year old as well. Mark, it's really, really hard. And I think the,

Mark Kissler:

yeah, and I think importantly, it's not, not necessarily about not listening or not in engaging with how other people say we should think or form us, but it's being really selective about where we get that formation. That it's not just the first thing that you pick up. but it's, but you really like you really being. Discerning about the, you know, where you get that, that external, cause it is about, it is about encountering other things and other ideas and changing the way that you think based on what you see, but it's not. but, but not just the first thing that you see.

Matt Boettger:

And oftentimes what we do is we immediately stick with what we see and that becomes part of what we believe and behave versus asking the questions like, yeah. Is this really the right piece of information? Where should I go to look, to get a more balanced perspective, but we never asked even ourselves the questions. I think that having a sense of solitude, regular life, to be able to check in with ourselves, ask the deeper questions so that whatever we end up believing now that we're asking ourselves, is this something that I want to be part of my life? And am I actually looking at all the different dimensions? You know, the one thing and we'll end on this, we're getting long that I've learned Mark from the pandemic, is that more than ever, that life is complicated. And we see this concretely with COVID and I think this is just, and then the black lives matters and then all these things we're just seeing that life is really complicated and it's okay to allow it to be complicated and still bite down on something without being overly simplistic. Right. And that's the goal, right? The examine life is to allow the complexities in. Right and feel okay. Right. And still be able to bite down and constantly allowing our self, our self dispositions, our pre, our cognitive biases to, to allow us to be open for it, to be informed and nuance and changed with the information we receive. All right. I think this land is about a half hour. It might be edited down. It's good to see you, buddy. Thank you so much for coming in,

Mark Kissler:

coming out. Yeah, that's great to see too. And, yeah, so it'd be interesting to kind of develop some of these ideas. I have a lot to learn in this realm, so I'm interested to kind of keep on, keep on learning.

Matt Boettger:

Yeah. And for those out there, I, my biggest thing is I will, on my I'm a strive to ask more questions. This is my area of attention I have. So I'm so quick to give my opinion within, within 30 seconds and not just a tend to realize that no, there's a nuance perspective in this person's life that I need to attend to, and to sit and ask and ask and ask and ask and attend. And then at the very end offer my insight. That's my go-to. I'm gonna try this next seven days. I'm going to just focus on asking questions, Mark. What, what's your, what? What's stuff that you're gonna try to attend in your practice. You're going to work on being more available in that area.

Mark Kissler:

Yeah, I think I'm going to focus a lot this week on, on being very selective about the, media that I allow to kind of take over my disposition. so I think that we're going to, you know, I, I'm going to be, I, I want to be engaged and know what's going on, but I also, want to just make sure that I. I bound that a little bit. and don't get lost in it. So that's, that's the thing I'm going to focus on this week,

Matt Boettger:

given that you just said that, and we said, I want to have you on more regularly the next time you're on we're checking on how that went and I will do the same. And for you out there who are listening. I encourage you to pick up something that Mark said, if you're really struggling with just being sucked into the one type of, of information to expand that and be careful of what you're receiving into your mind, your mind is a sacred place and your soul as, and if you struggle like me, that loves to give opinion over listening, that really encourage you, man. I've taken a whole three years in spiritual direction and that was a life-changing event. Pyramid experience for me, that was all about asking questions and never giving your opinion in the cognitive spiritual direction. And that's what I needed and I still need today. So if you, if you're, I encourage those of you to practice asking way more questions, six to one, and then giving your opinion, attend to the people around you, especially those who you love most. Okay. Take care. Have a wonderful week. We'll see you. Next step episode, take care. Bye-bye thank you for listening to this episode of living the real. If you want to check out more information, go to living the real.com and sign up for my newsletter. If you want to support this podcast, you do that at patrion.com/ltr as well as one time. Payments at Venmo and PayPal in the show notes. See you all next episode. Take care. Bye-bye.