Naval Ravikant is one of the most well connected people in the world. As mentioned earlier he is a very successful investor and entrepreneur. Like Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet, his knowledge has breadth and depth. He's far more than just a successful entrepreneur and investor. He has a deep love for philosophy and learning.
This is the last part of this interview. One of the greatest parts of running this site is that you get look into the minds of some pretty interesting people. I'm happy to say that I've had the opportunity to peer into Naval's. It's a conversation I won't forget.
I hope you guys enjoy.
Remember depth is a joy.
Thank you Naval.
"When I look back on my life, I want to say I saw the world the way it was."
What are your thoughts on meditation?
Your breath is one of the few places where your autonomous nervous system meets your voluntary nervous system. It's involuntary, but you can also control it.
I think that's why a lot of meditation practices put such an emphasis on the breath because it is a gateway into your autonomous nervous system. There are many, many cases in the medical and spiritual literature of people controlling their bodies at levels that should be autonomous.
Your mind is such a powerful thing. What's so unusual about your forebrain having the ability to send signals to your hindbrain, and then your hindbrain routing resources to your entire body?
"As soon as I hear the voice in my head telling me how cold it's going to be, then that's when I know I have to walk in."
You can do so just by breathing. 'Look at how relaxed my breathing is.' You're telling your body that you're safe. That your forebrain doesn't need as much as resources as it normally does. So now that extra energy can be sent to your hindbrain and then it can re-route those resources to the rest of your body.
I'm not saying that you can beat whatever illness you have just because you activated your hindbrain. But you're devoting most of the energy normally required for caring about the external environment to the immune system.
I highly recommend listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast with Wim Hof. He is a walking miracle.
Wim's nickname is the Ice Man. He's famous for being the world record holder for the longest time spent in an ice bath and swimming in freezing cold water. I was very inspired by him, not only because he's capable of super human physical feats, but because he does it while being incredible kind and happy. Which are not easy things to accomplish.
One of the things he advocates is cold exposure because he believes that people are too separate from their natural environment. We're constantly clothed, fed, and warm. Our bodies have lost touch with the cold. The cold is important because it can activate the immune system.
So he advocates taking long ice baths. Being from the Indian subcontinent, I'm strongly against the idea of ice baths. But Wim inspired me to give cold showers a try.
And I did so by using the Wim Hof breathing method. Which involves hyperventilating to get more oxygen into your blood, which raises your core temperature. Then you can go into the shower.
The first few were hilarious because I'd slowly ease myself in wincing the entire way. I started about four or five months ago. Now I turn the shower on full blast, and then I walk right in. I don't give myself any time to hesitate. As soon as I hear the voice in my head telling me how cold it's going to be, then that's when I know I have to walk in.
In doing so, I learned a very important lesson which was that most of our suffering comes from avoidance. Most of the suffering from a cold shower is the tip toeing your way in. Once you're in, you're in. It's not suffering. It's just cold.
Your body saying it's cold is different than your mind saying it's cold. Acknowledge that your body says it's cold. Look at it. Deal with it. Accept it, but don't mentally suffer over it. Having a cold shower for two minutes isn't going to kill you.
Having a cold shower helps you relearn that lesson every morning.
Now hot showers are just one less thing that I need out of life.
"An educated man should know something about everything, and everything about something." - Benjamin Franklin
If you had to pass down to your kids one or two principles, what would they be?
Number one, read. Read everything you can. And not just the stuff that society tells you is good or even books that I tell you to read. Just read for its own sake. Develop a love for it. Even if you have to read romance novels or paper backs or comic books. There's no such thing as junk. Just read it all. Eventually you'll guide yourself to the things that you should and want to be reading.
Related to the skill of reading are the skills of mathematics and persuasion. Both skills help you to navigate through the real world.
Having the skill of persuasion is important because if you can influence your fellow human beings, you can get a lot done. I think persuasion is an actual skill. So you can learn it, and it's not that hard to do so.
"Nature speaks in mathematics. Mathematics is us reverse engineering the language of nature, and we have only scratched the surface."
Mathematics helps with all the complex and difficult things in life. If you want to make money, if you want to do science, if you want to understand game theory or politics or economics or investments or computers, all of these things have mathematics at its core. It's a foundational language of nature.
Nature speaks in mathematics. Mathematics is us reverse engineering the language of nature, and we have only scratched the surface.
The good news is that you don't have to know a lot of math. You just have to know basic statistics, arithmetic, etc. You should know statistics and probability forwards and backwards and inside out.
I would probably also give my kids a copy of Richard Feynman's Six Easy Pieces and Six Not-So Easy Pieces. Richard Feynman is a famous physicist. I love both his demeanor as well as his understanding of physics.
I'd also give them a copy of Jiddu Krishnamurti's The Book of Life. But I'll tell them to save it until they're older because it won't make much sense while you're younger. But whatever you tell your kids, they're probably going to do the opposite.
So basically you would try to instil not only the love of learning, but the skill of learning.
I think every child has the love of learning. Children are learning machines. They stop learning either because their ego gets too big and thinks that it knows everything or that it thinks it doesn't needs to know more. Or because society somehow fails them.
Society might say this is the accepted mode of learning, this is what you're allowed to learn.
The love of learning is at its core.
And when you specialize so much, you can lose that love of learning about other subjects.
Yeah. It's a tradeoff.
Benjamin Franklin had a famous quote, "An educated man should know something about everything, and everything about something."
Knowing something about everything allows you to navigate life. But knowing everything about something can show you what depth has to offer. It also gives you a joy and appreciation for what life has to offer.
A lot of scientists start off as strong atheists, especially physicists. But as they go deeper into the language of mathematics into some corner of quantum mechanics, they come out the other side quasi-spiritual.
Anything deep is interesting.
When it's all said and done, how do you want to look back on your life?
I hope I never look back at my life. I hope I'm only looking at what I have now. That said, it's impossible. We're always looking back on our lives.
That said, when I look back on my life, I want to say I saw the world the way it was.
I want to see truth. I want to see the world the way it is. Not through my filters. Not through my desires. Not through the way that other people want me to see it.
And I want to accept it the way it is.
If you enjoyed this talk with Naval, try out my interview with Firas Zahabi, head coach at Tristar gym and to one of the greatest fighters of all time, Georges St-Pierre. He told me about some of the principles necessary to successfully learn a martial art.
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