The Dark Side of Comedy
The Dark Side of Comedy and its connection with Depression.There have been studies trying to quantify where the psychology and magic come from.
Have you ever felt like there is an untapped artist within you waiting to be let free? Have you lost years of your life not being as creative as you feel you’re capable of?
I sit down with my friend Arman Assadi to discuss his experience and journey with a book/course called The Artist’s Way and how that changed his view of self, of starting a podcast, and how he is able to stoke FLOW better and faster because of it.
Join us as we travel down this rabbit hole; you may find yourself on the other side.
Arman Assadi on the My Niche is Human Podcast
Steven: [00:00:00] Well, thank you so much for being here. I'm honored to have you take some time. we are here today with my good friend Armand and. We connected on Instagram. I saw him in a video talking about the Artist's Way, which is near and dear to my heart.
I've mentioned it in the past. The artist's way is a creative recovery tool to help you dive in and essentially face your demons. One at a time. Armand, I already get the feeling is a brother from another mother loves to talk about flow. so I'm really excited for this conversation. we're going to really dive into the weeds here.
And this is purely, you know, chewing on the fat. We might walk out with some how-to's and some tacticals, but we're, we're here to, to split the universe open and see what comes out.
Arman: [00:00:45] I'm excited. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it, Steven. And, yeah, the moment you said that you're interested in this book and the same topics and that we see the world the same way I'm immediately like yes.
And it's easy for me to go. No, I don't have time for another podcast, but this one I absolutely have time for, this is fun. This is like, let's jam.
Steven: [00:01:04] Love that. Thank you. And so, so many words, but thank you. So let's just get right to it. So the artist's way, what was your experience with that? and what did it mean to you?
Why did you get started? All the things, because our listener might be saying, well, what the hell is that? Why, why should I even care?
Arman: [00:01:21] Yeah. So to set the stage, I think that, if I was looking at it from the outside and if I was doing it all over again, the artist's way as a book, first of all, it's not a book.
And it's funny because the moment that I began, the process of reading this so-called book, I was shocked because it's really a course in the form of a book. And I was pulled into doing a book club, you know, sort of group for the book itself by a friend of mine that's a psychology student, doing her PhD at UT Austin and her and I just love nerding out together and talking about interesting things, everything from psychology to spirituality, whatever it might be.
So the moment that she said, Hey, Arman, do you want to be in a book club? I was like, f#ck yeah, I do. And "what's the book?", you know, I don't know what I'm getting into. She goes, Oh, it's called the artist's way. And I said, Oh, I've heard of this book. I've heard about it for years. I think I first heard about morning pages as a concept.
And you know, that's one thing that people generally pick out from the book, is this practice of morning pages that is transformational for many people. So I said yes, and jumped in wholeheartedly. And, little did I know and realize, you know, I started, we're reading this book and it's really this, this course, and it's intense work, man.
I mean, it's really intense work. it's very introspective. There's so much depth to it that we're going to, that we're going to talk through various examples of, but. You know, the main, thing I would recommend to somebody is if at all possible, do this work with somebody, even if you're just going through the book with a friend, a significant other, someone that you're close to, or that you trust or that you can feel like you can become close to and vulnerable with.
And if you can go as far as creating a cluster, as they call it, I mean, the experience is profound. I am so fortunate and so lucky that this came into my life. Our group size was what, six, something like that. And most weeks everyone showed up and I had a level of conversation and sharing and dialogue that I don't think I've ever been able to have or replicate in any other dimension of my life.
No mastermind group, no entrepreneur group, no therapy session has even come close to that. And that's the thing as well, is that it actually felt extremely therapeutic. I mean, it was basically like a group therapy session. And I think I'm also lucky because everyone that I was doing this with was on the same page about let's keep it real.
Let's be honest. And people shared to varying degrees of honesty, but personally I came right out and I didn't know everybody, I didn't know anybody in the group, except my one friend who pulled me in. So she did the job of bringing the group together as well, important nuance, but I stepped into that group and was just like, I'm excited to be here.
I don't know what the f#ck I've got into, but let's do this and I am willing to be totally open and vulnerable with you guys because I feel that what I put in I'm going to get out like anything in life. And so let's see, let's see what this leads to. And, it sounds like a platitude, but it was absolutely profound.
It was, it was life-changing and I finished it up just recently.
Steven: [00:04:49] So what was going on in your life at the time? Were you searching for something like this? Did it just happened to come across your desk and you said, you know, f#ck it. Let's, let's give it a shot. was there desperation, was there, what was the emotional process like?
Arman: [00:05:04] Yeah. well it definitely, definitely was synchronistic. And, the book talks about synchronicity and as a, as a student of Carl Jung, who is the creator of the concept of synchronicity, I was like, okay, I'm paying attention, you have my attention. So, I felt that through, you know, synchronicity being this a-causal connection, Of two very disparate things that don't seem connected, but yet in that moment seemed coincidental and that there could be further meaning to it.
And you don't really know what that meaning is, but when you pay attention to synchronicity, there is a compound effect that happens. And when you follow a synchronicity, Life just feels much more fun and magical and interesting. And I think it's a fascinating way to flow through life, to follow synchronicities.
And when you tune into them, You begin to find them more frequently. You begin to establish that connection to the awareness of those things happening. And in most new age settings, when people talk about synchronicity, it's in a very unscientific way and it's in a very. wishy washy, unclear, sort of definition.
Everything's a synchronicity, you know, Oh my God, how cool. This is critical that the synchronicity, but when Jung talks about it, I mean, there's a volume, this thick man on synchronicity, like one of his. 18 main volumes or so is on that, that concept. And so, I'm fascinated by it. And when I see it, I follow it.
So where was I in my life? I was in a place where I was hungry for something. It was the beginning of the pandemic ish around the beginning. I felt, stifled and, kind of like, I don't want to use the word lonely, but like, so my primary driver is relationships and people and I'm a people person and I need to be out and about.
And being at home made me feel like. A bird with its wings clipped. And I'm also always on the road or on an airplane. I mean, maybe most of the time, actually the majority of the time. So sitting at home, not connecting, not able to go to a cafe and have coffee with a friend, the opportunity to do a zoom session once a week with a group of people was also an opportunity to just connect. So I think I was craving, connection. I was craving. A safe environment to just even explore where I was at. I don't think I actually knew where I was at Steven, because I was again, when, when you're an extroverted type of person, you're used to processing out loud.
I mean, even this is an opportunity right now for me to process because I discover what I know by speaking. Or by writing. And so that was a process for me to discover, like, where am I at with all this shit? Like, how is this pandemic affecting me? Cause I didn't know, unless I'm journaling, if I'm not journaling or I'm not speaking or writing about it, I'm not going to know because my internal compass is not internal facing.
So, I explored through the process of being in the group where, where I was at, who I was, what I needed to change, if anything. so many things, man.
Steven: [00:08:32] I love that. So it's, it's almost like it just happened. You weren't saying, wow, I'm really stuck creatively. I haven't taken advantage of my youth of my spark.
I really need to find something that's going to unlock that it was more a tool to kind of help you find center. I mean, is it fair to say you almost didn't know what you were signing up for?
Arman: [00:08:50] A hundred or a hundred thousand percent? Yeah, no idea. That was my joke in the beginning of like, session number one, I was like, what did I just get into?
Steven: [00:08:59] Yeah. So with that, I loved that. So the chapters are excruciating, especially at the beginning. What was kind of the first, I don't want to say nugget. What was the first "Holy shit" kind of scary moment?
Arman: [00:09:14] Well, it was very scary in the beginning actually. I'm going to see if I have it here, because some of the notes that I've written down, like, I mean, in the book, and it might be worth pulling it because, you know, there's moments where let me see.
I mean, wow.
I mean, there's comments. Here we go. Page four, teaching. I suggest students that a weekly schedule, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And she's going on about. The formality and structure that's just necessary. Just basically just barely setting the stage. And I wrote a arrow and I'm like, "Oh, this is too much" next page.
What to expect? I see a certain amount of defiance and giddiness in the first few weeks. The entry stage is closely followed by explosive anger in the courses midsection, the anger is followed by grief. What the f#ck? Then alternating waves of resistance and hope the peaks and valleys, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I put a star and I put "this sounds like, hell, are you kidding me?" What am I getting myself into? So in the beginning it was just like, Whoa, shock. I don't know if I want to do this. And then, wow. This is really interesting. On the one hand she's saying it's very structured. On the other hand, she's saying "there is no wrong way to do morning pages".
Underline, just get it on the page it's the primary tool of creative recovery. Okay. Arman, you know, the power of journaling. You've always wanted to do this. You've always wanted to build this habit. All right, let's give it a shot. Let's just keep going. Let's keep reading. Maybe it's more about the group and connecting with people.
So I was constantly having this internal battle. In the beginning phase. And I had no idea what I was getting into. I remember talking to my wife, you know, after chapter one and just being like, I don't know if I can do this. Like, I don't know what I've really signed up for. Like, this seems really intense. But honestly, as the weeks went on, it became more interesting.
It became more insightful and it became more powerful and fun. And I embraced it because like anything in life, I mean, come on. If something scares you or something is challenging, like. That's all you need to know. Like there it is. Like you don't run from that. That's when you step in to whatever it is, because of course there's a inverse relationship between the work that you have to do, and what you get out and what you put in and what you get out of it.
And so I think then what I really did is. Sort of try to just build the habit of the morning pages. And I did that maybe no more than three days in row and some morning pages. You've probably already talked about this on the podcast, you know, morning pages, you wake up one of the first things you do, you throw up three pages, two pages of journaling and you do it by hands and you just let it rip and you let it out and there's no right way to do it.
Wow. Look at that. So just doing that was so powerful. And then that's what created the momentum and the insight necessary for me to say, okay, let's, let's keep going here. This is going to be interesting. I'm going to commit to this.
Steven: [00:12:32] So going through each chapter, I'd call it nothing short of a punch in the face, but I'm going to read them real quick.
Each chapter is titled a sense of: safety, identity, power, integrity, possibility, abundance, connection, strength, compassion, self protection, autonomy, and faith. And I'm sure you recognize the set as well. It's a little similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It starts from the bottom. Find your grounding, find your base, unlock a unhook, some of those demons.
And you're essentially getting to autonomy self-actualization and all of that. Do any of the chapters stand out to you to where you felt like you had an internal pivot to where something actually changed and it wasn't just cerebral going through the motions, doing the, the journal, doing the thing.
Arman: [00:13:22] Yeah. Great question. And I am curious, you know, especially for people that haven't done a journaling practice, like, were you doing a journaling practice before you started the morning pages?
Steven: [00:13:32] I was in love. I have a notebook fetish, but I wasn't actually doing it. So I was, I was in love with the idea. I knew how effective it can be, but doing the work, which is a whole thing.
I was lacking for sure.
Arman: [00:13:44] That's actually very similar to me. I was like in love with the idea. Well, I've read about the benefits of this and I would do it, you know, once a week. but not every day. And I'll be honest. So like this book is. We talked about this a lot in our group. It was part of the discussion, our group pivoted in many ways where it took on a form and an energy of itself, I think that's very important.
Like the group is a part of the process, but, the group sometimes can become more beneficial than the book itself and the process. I found like the, I would say in the end, I got more out of the conversations about the book than I did specifically in some of the things in the book. And, you know, she's very structured, Julia Cameron and the process that she lays out is very, very, very tight. There are clear set of rules and I didn't do three pages. Sometimes I would do one page and I tried not to feel bad about it. And I would talk about that in the group today. I just didn't want to, or I missed a day. Here's how I felt about that.
But overall I was very, very consistent. Where I really started to get a change in my behavior or identity or beliefs, I would say was about around week 3. Sense of power. So yeah, that's a punch in the face and she has you take a deep, hard look at why you do what you do and who you are. And through that process, I had flirted with so many of these thoughts that she laid out over the years.
Why am I so serving of others?
Why am I so unclear with my boundaries?
Why do I give more to others than I do to myself?
Why do I feel it's selfish to do things for myself?
Where did those thoughts and notions and beliefs come from?
And little by little, she's just getting you to become comfortable with where they came from and why they came and how to just begin giving yourself love, which is another platitude self-love. But what does that really look like? Hey, Arman, maybe that looks like a round of golf today. Wow. I'm not allowed to do that.
I got to work. Why do I feel I have to work? Who set my hours? I'm an entrepreneur. Didn't I sign up to do this for freedom. Wait, what, and all of these things just start bubbling to the surface for the first time that again, I'd flirted with, but I'd never sat and deeply took a hard look at. To stop and actually become a intentional, proactive, human being who makes decisions based on what is best for them and what they need, is one of the most life-changing things in the world.
I mean, I spent most of my life reacting, even though I pride myself on how to be effective and all these other things that are very, logic and rationality driven, like process driven. And again, that's like a disposition I have is toward logic and systems and rationality, but this is deeper.
This is at a soul level. We might say this is at a self with a capital S level we might say. This is about really sitting in examining. Who am I? And if my, and what is my true gifts, that I'm, "what is the true even purpose that I am here for?" It's creation and experience it's art. Well, what is art and who is an artist?
And then I had to overcome that I'm not an artist. What is an artist about me? So some people will read this and go. Totally. I get it. I, you know, I've always been into sculpting and painting and writing, like that's that's me. I get it. I just need to read this for the creative recovery. Perfect. For you, like perfect for the artists.
But what about the person who doesn't identify as an artist? Steven, that was me and I think a lot of people. And so that allowed me to, for the first time, even consider myself an artist and actually make that the highest aim of living, like I'm going to die one day.
What am I doing here?
What am I offering?
What am I creating?
What am I giving?
And what is the maximum, aim that I should point myself toward and reach. And actually it inspired me to do this piece on my podcast. and I titled it. Art is the antidote to death. And in it, I basically talk about the transcendental affect and impact of flow that we fall into when we are in a state of creativity and how that is essentially the only path and escape.
It's not even like an escape, but it's the only antidote to death because otherwise we're present. I mean, we're either future or past. Minded. And we all in the back of our minds realize that we're mortal beings and we all at the end of the day are gods with anuses. as I think Ernest Becker said, and so we have this ability to be conscious of what we are and who we are, and yet we're going to die in this physical body.
So what am I doing? And how will I spend my time in a state of infinite presence? Oh, By creating by, by, being in that highest state of awareness and presence where I get out of the way and I let it come through me. And that piece that I wrote, I initially wrote it. Art is the antidote to death, and then I spoke it into my podcast that was in and of itself.
Exactly what she teaches you to do in the book. How to go through the process of getting out of your way. And allowing it to come through you, which that's a whole other topic. I'm sure you're fascinated by that too. It's like art comes through you, you just have to get out of the way. And she has to do you do all these exercises, including morning pages to get you to learn how to do that.
Steven: [00:20:15] I have so many responses. I love this. so I want to zoom back just a little bit to when you were talking about power and doing the things that you were doing, but you're kind of on autopilot. So I think the challenge for many of us to come out of autopilot is to take ownership of our life, not just today, but of everything that's happened so far.
And that for me was the biggest challenge. It was looking back feeling like, wow, have I just been a robot, a zombie all this wasted time. And how could I be so stupid then? You know, the negativity starts in, but you have to come to terms with that last time. And she talks a lot about that. What was that process like for you?
Arman: [00:20:59] Coming to terms with it?
I, I was okay. I was okay. And I think that's more just a one-off thing, because I think the majority of people will feel what you're saying. because the feeling of responsibility of the past is really, really heavy. And I think that's just like a general disposition that like a wiring that some people have, where...
like, it's easy to kind of come down on ourselves. I think for me, I actually gained more peace from it, rather than guilt. I think I was, I focused on the awareness of now. I understand. And definitely I'm sure there was a guilt there, but I think I was able to like quickly pivot and focus on like, well, now I know.
Now I have a tool. Now I have a system now I have the language to understand. And so for me, I think mostly, I mean, I'm trying to remember it was a lot going on through this private as a turbulent process, you know, going through this whole thing. But I think in that part specifically, it was more a focus on like, well, what can I do now?
And she gives so many examples of like people in their, their golden years, their older years, it's never too late. And I was like, okay. I'm 33. I just turned at the while I was reading the book, I turned 34. So I'm like, okay. You know, we're we're okay. Like, and, I, you know, I've, I've see that to a certain degree, like, and I think also Steven, I was going through a lot where my belief on success has completely changed.
So it's not at all related to accomplishments for me anymore. Like, what, what so ever, I mean, is there a part of my ego that loves certain things? Absolutely. What I love to, create a piece of art that reaches millions of people. It makes people happy. Absolutely. But it's not about that anymore for me whatsoever.
And so I was able to look at the past and also be like, well actually Arman those things that you were chasing that we're supposed to be fulfilling. And were temporarily of course, transient feeling of fulfillment. They didn't really matter did they? They didn't really mean anything. Did they? So what does really really mean matter? How I feel the peace that I have, the creations that I'm putting time into.
I think that's where I really began to shift.
Steven: [00:23:31] Or could one say they did matter relatively speaking at the time. It's how you currently measured. real quick. The thing that got me through it was thinking a lot of guilt, a lot of playing the tape over it. I did a life timeline, but then I got to the point where I said, like you said, but now I know, and now I have the power to make a conscious choice to either spend the next 40 years thinking about the last 20 years.
Or , just get started. I mean, it's, it's really that simple.
Arman: [00:24:01] Absolutely.
I know I gave you a lot there.
Steven: [00:24:06] Yeah. Side note. I love the challenge of podcasting, reflective, listening, being, I call it 98%. You got 98% of me. 2% is where do I go next?
Arman: [00:24:16] I know
Steven: [00:24:17] it isn't. It was an obvious when I started, I was like, shit, how do I.
Arman: [00:24:20] I deal with it all the time. I know exactly what you're saying.
Steven: [00:24:24] Yeah. did it again? So, to your comments about. Creativity flowing through and I want to get to flow, but a couple of steps prior, she talks about the muse and how it's some people say that this art wasn't mine. I didn't create this. This is just the universe coming through me. I want to talk about, the mental and emotional process of creativity and to your previous comment, how you measured success.
If I want to go play golf or I want to go do a painting, but I should be working. So, how did you start to quantify, how did you start to put more value on the creative process for the sake of the creative process and not because it was making a buck? How'd you get through that?
Arman: [00:25:08] Yeah. Great question. So I think that her training of just getting you to do the morning pages in the morning as the first thing is very important because it begins to do the subconscious wiring of what is important and what is the priority. And so naturally I began carving time out, carving time out, and she has you to do these exercises to carve more time out, allow yourself to go on this artist dates. And I began planning these artists dates and what am I going to do?
And what am I going to look forward to, dude, for the first time in soul off, that was such a guilt part, actually, when she has you write out activities that you used to do that perhaps you don't do anymore. Oh my God, that was sad. I was like, I used to roller blade. I used to play tennis. I used to, ride my bike places and I used to play more soccer and I used to, ah, that was just like, like, God, what have I been doing?
I've just been addicted to work and why have I prioritize that? Yeah. It's it was painful to actually look at it. Yeah. So now, now I'm remembering where the guilt was. So, that was hard, but then it was also inspiring because for the first this time I made a list of activities and I put it into my notes on my phone and I looked at it every day.
And when, in doubt on what to do, I would just pick one and go, and I would do something to fuel myself to, to fill my well of creativity.
So on this idea of why the creation itself is not my, actually I think what's more important is why is creativity a priority over these check boxes and things that we're supposed to do?
The things that we're supposed to do and that we just react to are other people's agenda. 98% of the time has nothing to do with what I want. You just think you want it. And man, I can't tell you how many people I've met through what I do as an entrepreneur, as a consultant at times, as a friend to others, most people are in a state of reactivity.
One of my favorite other books that I've read lately is Essentialism. I avoided reading it for a long, long time because I stay away from most nonfiction books these days that are new, because they're usually just a remix. And I ain't got time for that. I want the real deal. Now, five years have gone by, and this book is still selling and, and getting an incredible reaction and response.
So I finally read it blew my mind and it was closely, closely tied into Artist's Way. So great companion book. Everything that we are doing is generally somebody else's wants, needs and desires for us creativity as an opportunity to step back and stop doing and start thinking about what even matters, what is mine to do, what needs to can only come through me.
And it's. Yeah, cause that's where your uniqueness and purpose seems to be found. It's like, what can uniquely come through me; through my story, through my experiences, through my cognitive abilities, through my physical abilities and my talents, the combination of all those things is what creates a piece of art.
And then. The muse and the magic and getting out of the way when you take that and you stir it up, dude, that's when incredible things are created now, for me, I've always thought, well, I can't really draw. I can't really, I, I I've, I've lack of talent in most artistic, arenas, but what I can do is this.
And I can also write, and I enjoy this.
Steven: [00:29:02] How do you define this?
Arman: [00:29:05] If I'm not here right now, Steven? I'm, I'm not, I'm not Arman is not filtering anything right now. I'm just, this to me is an exercise in creativity. That's why I wanted to be on your podcast? That's why I have one. That's why I've, if I have an opportunity to speak and it terrifies me, I still will because I know if I show up and I get out of the way and I focus on the outcome of the people and, and getting something out that I can get something out in a unique way.
Because it's the combination of my experience, the talents I have, the, the, the experience I have. All of it, my skills, and then letting what needs to come out, come through me, creates a much better product than me sitting and scripting something or outlining a speech or having pre-planned questions or, or points and the same applies to writing.
I mean, I can write. In a very academic way, but I can also just sit back and let it come out, creativity creatively. And that creates, you know, you get that response sometimes from people it's like, Whoa, this is different. And that's your feedback. It's like, it doesn't, you don't always have to share it. But like, if you have an area of your life where you've experienced this, this feeling of flow or creativity, and then you also get a response from, something, some form of feedback. That's like, that was, that was cool. That was different. That wasn't like everything else I see. That's your sign, try it again, do more of that. And you know what we're doing instead, everything else, you know, and we're not doing that thing because we don't see the value in it.
We don't see how we're going to get paid from it. We don't see how it's going to lead to a fulfilling life. We don't see how it's going to do anything for us. But the beauty of life and the magnificent feeling and miracle of life that can be experienced comes through those exercises and those moments.
And then if you can go as far as continuously doing that and creating a gift, a screenplay, you can act in a movie, you can do a podcast, you can write a book, something that then is sort of, immortalized. That's incredible. The impact that that has on culture and people and consciousness. That seems more important to me than email, talking to my attorney
Steven: [00:31:48] email.
Arman: [00:31:50] That's what it is. I hate email so
Steven: [00:31:54] I got three things. I got three things before I lose them. Cause you make me think of so much, one, when you mentioned the book that you avoided for five years. Yes. I have a theory on that. Look back on every book that you've avoided, when you finally read it, it was a kick in the face, right?
I believe subconsciously we have a feeling that book is going to make us face our shit and it's the shit that we're avoiding. So if you have a book that you're avoiding, I would challenge you to go pick it up today. Because you're going to read it in five years and wish you hadn't waited so long.
The other one he made me think of, and this is a theme throughout this conversation is legacy and creating art.
And you talk about soul and existence and why I'm here. I agree with you. I feel we're all here to create, and that really. I really, truly believe that when I finally got on stage, told my story about mental health. And I remember going for a walk a few days later, and I just got this feeling that it was all of a sudden, less afraid to die.
I feel like when we let our magic out just a little bit, we know we're not going to take it with us.
Arman: [00:33:04] Oh...
Steven: [00:33:05] you ever felt anything like that?
Arman: [00:33:07] Yeah, man. I know exactly what you're talking about. It's like the scariest thing we can possibly do and then after we do it, we actually feel more alive than ever before.
Steven: [00:33:17] Yes. Yes.
Arman: [00:33:20] So true. I have felt that and I'm like, that's why I do what I do in many ways. And I think that's why I contemplate death. I think that contemplating death is one of the most useful, exercises that a person could ever do. I think that a lot of the problems and pain that we see in the Western world is directly correlated to an avoidance of death.
Avoidance of using the word, avoidance of talking about it. Avoidance of even like saying so-and-so died. Like no one says that so-and-so passed since the past. And, you're another, another book reference. So the Tibetan book of living and dying is one of my recent reads, very profound, very life-changing.
I mean, that's completely changed my, my entire belief system and wiring around all of it. And, life is a life, life and death go hand in hand man hand in hand, and we live in this world where we act like the other one doesn't exist. And we are so confused through the dogma and you have more nonbelievers than ever before.
I I've been through that. It's like, shit, you grew up like maybe you grew up religious or something. And then when she [Julia Cameron] talks a lot as well about kind of, there's a, it's a very spiritual book, this book, but a lot of spiritual people go through a phase of non-believing or atheism. And atheism is really just the way I would put it as it's a, it's a denial.
It's, it's living in a state of doubt and denial because there's no room of, of anything beyond "I'm just an accident". Like there's no meaning in that. And there's a
Steven: [00:35:15] Nihilism or is that too extreme?
Arman: [00:35:17] Yeah, that's a good question. It can become nihilistic, you know, because there's such a, There's such a glorification of science.
That's almost fundamentalist in the Western world there. And then, so what you have is a hodge podge of religious activity. Then you've got people that are on the non-believer spectrum. Then you've got the fundamentalist scientists and everyone's trying to find their way. And no one's talking about the thing that we all share, which is life and death.
And there's no conversation. There's no. Preparation. There's no guidance. There's nothing like how many people do you know, like, I haven't done this. I'm just saying like, I'm looking, I know that one of the things I need to do in my life is go spend time at a hospice now. Cause I just finished reading that book and it talks a lot about this and getting closer to it and being there for others that are going through it and, and having that part of me.
But how many people do we know in our friend group or everyday life that have been close to the dying. I don't know anybody, actually. I think maybe, maybe one that I know volunteered at a hospice once. So there's incredible, peace and power and yeah awareness and consciousness that comes into our life into our creativity, because it's an instant reminder of this or that like, what's really important.
Is it email or the creative act? And. Sometimes, what you see happen is it takes a huge traumatic effect. What happens when someone dies close to them, they lose somebody or something happens to them in illness, they get cancer. What happens. Every time, almost like there's a, there's a wake up and there's a massive exponential increase in consciousness and awareness of their mortality makes them question their values, how they're spending their time.
They end up quitting their job, changing their career, breaking up with their significant other, whatever it might be. And they're like, Oh my God, like, shit, this is it. They wake from the sleepwalking. And so, yes. So sorry. No, no, no. So meditating on mortality is something that I had avoided. I was more comfortable than most people talking about it.
Don't get me wrong. Cause I pushed everything more than most people. I already know that, but I still know that deep down there was fear and. And I was uncomfortable and uneducated uneducated about it. Now I can meditate on it. And I also understand the purpose of meditation. One of the core purposes of meditation is death preparation.
Be in that state of mind when death comes is the most important thing. So
Steven: [00:38:12] Yeah, because you're either embracing the process or you're an agony. Right.
Arman: [00:38:19] I mean, who wants to be an agony? It's inevitable. I'm avoiding it. And if I do most likely I'm going to be an agony and I'm going to be clinging to this world, to the people when that time comes that sounds awful.
Steven: [00:38:41] I mean, there's physical pain to tell us something's wrong, but soul pain is resistance to the experience.
Arman: [00:38:45] Yes, absolutely. Well said.
Steven: [00:38:49] I want to button up, the Artist Way. What is, how would you describe Arman pre and post process? What is the easiest way to kind of label that? What is the difference?
Arman: [00:39:05] The easiest way to label it would be pre, Artist's Way, Arman was, unaware of his true self and true gifts, unwilling to face certain trauma. And why he felt the way he did and operated the way he did. And probably most importantly was focused almost exclusively on the needs and wants of others. How I ever even accomplished what I have accomplished is a mystery to me because what time was there?
And I grew up in this, codependent relationship with my mother. Like totally just had zero sense of identity. Like it was just about serving her needs and wants and being perfect. And it was never enough. And I'll leave that one at that.
Steven: [00:40:07] That's a whole nother episode, brother.
Arman: [00:40:08] Yeah, that's a whole other one.
And. I give the caveat that my mom has taught me an incredible, incredible amount. And I wouldn't be as creative, even if it wasn't for her, she's an incredible person. But, until we make the unconscious conscious, it will rule our life and we call it fate as Carl Jung said, and each person's job is to make those things conscious.
And so. Post Artist's Way Armand is way more conscious of who he is and why he operated the way he did and where it came from and what patterns I need to break and is totally at ease with having boundaries and prioritizing himself. I mean, I have posted this went on a rant yesterday on my Instagram about my new health and fitness kick that I'm on.
I am more fit than ever before. I am more, I've prioritized my health more than ever before. I've prioritized my creativity more than ever before. I've prioritized my relationships even more than ever before. Work is like a distant fourth or fifth now, but guess what? I'm making more money than ever before.
I'm, I'm, I'm closing more deals than ever before. I'm not saying that to brag. I was just, you know, it's just a reality. It's just interesting. It's like I took the focus off.
Steven: [00:41:32] It's not bragging if it's true.
Arman: [00:41:34] I took the focus off of it. I stopped obsessing over it and I got out of the way and I made myself better and healthier and everything else is thriving.
And this is not a pitch for like, Oh my God, all you gotta do is read this book and her life will be better. No, maybe it'll be worse for awhile, but I can tell you as enough time has passed that I'm seeing the impact and the pre and post is, I'm very happy.
Steven: [00:41:59] I love that. And I'm feeling a theme in my world where it's not so much about looking at, addressing and trying to fix the pain or the problem.
It's more so about lifting yourself up, finding joy, finding purpose finding center, and then what you just described as you're making more money, closing more deals it's because your whole vibe has changed. So that brings us to flow. That's a beautiful segment. Your whole, like, I feel like your shtick, your, your reason for being here is communicating flow.
Your art is speaking, chewing on the fat, whatever you want to call it. How did flow change for you? How did your relationship with flow change pre and post artist's way?
Arman: [00:42:41] Yeah, I mean, great question. I mean, I've been focused on flow for years. I've been focused on the whole world of psychology for years and, And so for me to actually see an impact in how I got into flow after Artist's Way was incredible because now I have a whole new relationship with flow flow is a flow is me stepping into infinity.
Now flow is. This moment flow is an ability to just shut off the monkey mind and get deeply into that state of who I am and what I do best and allow things to come through me. My relationship to flow prior was more cerebral. Now it's experiential. I can actually get into it more frequently. Like did I optimize my life for flow? Absolutely.
But this book was the ultimate companion to actually teaching me. through a process of practices and exercises, there are real how to begin to establish more and more and more flow in my life. And I think that ultimately, what was really missing was that piece around selfishness. That selfishness that's required that focus on the self let's redefine what that means, even because that word is so triggering to people and has it's so packed with meaning selfish, selfish.
That's such a negative thing. I don't have a better word for it. Maybe you do, but focus on the self has come down to being one of the most important things in my life now. And I can see why I wasn't able to get into as much flow as I wanted to because I wasn't prioritizing myself. I mean, how can a person sit back and even have the opportunity for creativity or flow if the next thing on their agenda is always related to, Oh, I've got to respond to John's text message, oh, I got to get back to my parents. Oh, you know, I gotta wash the car that's, you know, because my wife wants me to wash the car, you know, whatever it might be.
Yeah. And, and it's just there all the time, all the time. And so for me, yes, flow is a very, it's a very integral part of my life because I feel that from what I have experienced and what I have learned it is as Mihai ...., said it is the optimal ultimate state of being to live in the timeless now. In a state of wonder, but also in a state of it's like tying together all the most incredible philosophies that have ever existed. Zen, Buddhism, Greek philosophy, and stoicism. I mean, so many things, modern psychology. The happiness movement ha you know, positive psychology all into one. It's this incredibly beautiful umbrella of spiritual.
Like it's, it contains, I think what's missing in most flow research is, and I understand why is the spirituality component of it? There is somebody out there that, that I know, I think is doing great work on the psycho-spiritual benefits of flow because I think it's not just the psychology and the science again, too much fundamentalism too much like it must be, I need to touch it. Everything. Everyone wants to touch things. You know, if I don't see it I don't believe it. It's like what we say here, in the western world...
Steven: [00:46:09] Yeah. Then there's no denying it, like empathy. Right? Can you have empathy unless you've experienced the alternate perspective?
Arman: [00:46:15] Yes. Yes. And to that point, I still have seen people experience states of transcendence and states of a wonder and still go, ah, maybe that was just like my brain...
I mean, I've even heard Joe Rogan say that where he's like, I don't know. I mean, maybe that's just a malfunction in my brain, you know, what if that's really not what happens when we die? What if that, what if that, DMT, you know, experience that I had and that, what do we call that? I'm not big on this, I'm butchering it, but there's a, the pineal gland.
And when, when that opens up in that experience that I have, what if that's just a malfunction in my brain? I mean, people can go as far as even experienced something and still denying it because science does say if it's not repeatable and I can't validate it, then good luck. We can't do a double blind study on that.
Okay. No problem. I understand. But what it really comes down to for me, Steven, is I don't want to live my life that way. I need something more. And I think it's healthy to have a belief in a meaning in life or else Yes, to your point earlier, it is very, very easy to become more and more nihilistic over time where it's not binary.
But if we looked at it in such a simple way as like. This nihilistic approach to life where there's no miracles and nothing means nothing. Everything means nothing versus an approach where perhaps there is synchronicity. Perhaps there is something more to us. Perhaps the atoms in my body do come from the stars and perhaps the atoms in your body and mine are shared in some way.
And perhaps there's a, an oversoul and a larger thing happening here. Those are interesting ideas to me, and I think that life contains mystery for a reason. There is no way in hell we are ever as a species going to use science to understand everything. 99% of the universe will never be able to see or touch ever, ever.
It's all dark energy and dark matter. Okay. So you're telling me, we're basing our rules of reality off of 1%. And of that 1%, we still don't understand 99%. I want to repeat that. Does that make sense? It's like, all we got is 1% to work off of because the rest is dark, it's it's intangible. We don't, and we all know that 80 plus percent of what's below the ocean or in, in our ecological system, we are yet to even discover. We're yet to even understand how the brain works. We don't even know what the f#ck dreams are, what they mean. So we're basing our rules of reality on a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of what is "true". So what I'm actually getting to getting at.
Is, you know, you said you're about flow, but all these things and I, I really am, but I think that what I've been really chewing on lately is I'm trying to actually come up with a phrase of what it is I am really doing for people, because I think it's more about helping people find their flow. I think it's much deeper than that.
And I think it's a bit of a slap in the face to kind of like, think differently, see differently, like changing the rules a little bit of society, the way we treat each other, the way we see each other, what life really means, what it's all about. Making things like talking about death and trauma, more open and interesting and mental health, all of these things and understanding that like the path to a good life in the short time that we have here.
Maybe we're not talking about the right things. I think it's like thinking differently and I'm trying to put language around that. It's funny because I have this copywriting background and I'm struggling with this to really put language to this because I think it's a lot more than just flow for me, but I'm working on that and it's going to be a lifetime of thinking about this.
Steven: [00:50:25] So you struggling to put a definition to it. I want to offer you some, some grace, if you don't offer it for yourself, because you describing all those philosophies and religions, that to me is humans trying to find a definition for the undefinable. So you have thousands of years against you. So, you, you know, Give yourself some lack.
I don't think it's an easy thing to do. This is what I'm trying to say.
Arman: [00:50:51] Yeah. I've picked up a big responsibility and I think that's good because you know, we have to have, I have that sort of big, heavy responsibility in life at times also to create meaning because one of the reasons we've become nihilistic as far as I can tell is that we lack a sort of big, heavy aim that we can hope to achieve, but it's like not becoming obsessed with the aim and the outcome, but at least having a direction that we point ourselves in something to work toward, you know, carry the burden of something rather than just sitting around and, and "whoa" is me and I'm a victim...
Steven: [00:51:32] Wow. I want to give you an opportunity to talk about your podcast and Flow and any other resource that has molded you guided you to the place you're at now. Be it books, Ted talks, anything our listener might enjoy.
Arman: [00:51:46] Yeah. I mean, I absolutely love learning. I love books. I'm always reading. I allow myself now to read multiple books at once.
That was something I didn't allow myself to do before. Oh, that was another Artist Way thing. I, I used to be so linear about my learning, you know, one book at a time "must finish it". Where did that rule come from? What does that mean? So now I'm like cool Artist's Way and Living and Dying and you know, a little bit of Walden, whatever it is.
So I have a list of all of my favorite things that. Are sort of what I call my flow kit on my website, all my favorite books, all my favorite things. People can check that out armanassadi.com. if they click on resources,
Steven: [00:52:32] We'll put that in the show notes as well.
Arman: [00:52:33] Yeah, all my books and even my thoughts on each book and why it's important to me.
it's not an exhaustive list. It's just my favorites. and yeah, I mean, you know, I am, enjoying this process so deeply of having a podcast. Flow with Arman Assadi. It's, it's incredible. It's been incredible because it gives me a vehicle to, to be creative. Oh, I mean, I didn't mention the most important part.
The podcast was born out of the Artists Way. I mean, I, that was the kick in the ass I needed to begin creating.
Steven: [00:53:09] So was this something you've been thinking about for a while or was it something and then seven years, you got me beat.
Arman: [00:53:17] Seven or eight years? pretty much ever since I left my job at Google. So it might even be more than that.
And yeah, that was Oh man, it's a longer, it's like, yeah, eight and a half years or something. And I'm sitting and dreaming of a podcast. Oh! The time's not right. Oh, not yet. Oh, I have to do more. Learn more, be more. Oh, now I missed it. Podcasting is gone. It's too big. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Steven: [00:53:44] I want to zoom into that.
because she talks about, and I've personally experienced when you want to do something so bad and you're not doing it for XYZ reasons. Did you feel yourself kind of becoming a hater? Like I'll look at them. I could do that better. Did you feel a little resentful and at least in your mind, were you picking people apart?
Arman: [00:54:03] Great question. I have a very strong, belief around this and it's one of the things that I really am trying to help people change their belief systems on, because I think that. It's so natural to feel that way. And it's so unhealthy. I'm very fortunate that my, I think I learned this from my dad.
He has never, ever, ever shown any jealousy. And I think I saw that. So much that I've just never felt resentful of other people and what they're doing or feel envious or jealous. But I experienced that from my friends all the time. I can feel their envy. I can feel their jealousy. I can feel it towards other people and I can see how common it is and I don't judge it, but I would absolutely love to help people understand that that is like literally holding a hot coal in your hand.
It doesn't do shit for you. It is going to hurt you. Use it as fuel and inspiration. Use it to say. Like, that's awesome. And I want to do it my way, and I learned how to do X, Y, and Z from that person. And they are my inspiration. I mean, like I would say, like, there are times where I went, could I do? Yes. I did think to myself about certain shows that I looked at or certain people like that I'd go, Oh, I can do that better.
But really what I meant was I can do that different. I can do that my way I can do that. Like, it's not about better. There's no competition here. because it's creativity. If this was like some, if this was a zero sum game and someone had to win, then you should look and say, I can do something better, but why are you saying that to yourself?
That you can do something better. You're not supposed to do a better, that's stupid. You're supposed to do it your way. And it could take 10 years for it to be recognized by people. Or you could be like van Gogh where you never get recognized by people. Okay. Okay. Yeah, exactly. Like fine. Do it anyway. Do it your way.
Everything else is a sham. Everything else is a waste of time. Everything else is just, you're just building more and more resent. So let's say then you start doing it and you keep thinking to yourself, I could do a better, I'm envious of how another person is doing it. So then you're not even doing it authentically.
You're going about the process of being a me-too copycat, and then guess what you're doing, that thing that you thought you were supposed to do, but you're not even doing it authentically. So time passes and you're actually going to be mad at yourself in the future because you didn't actually do it authentically your way.
It wasn't the Arman way of doing the podcast. It was, Oh, I'm going to grab a little bit from Ellen. I'm going to grab a little bit from Lewis Howes and Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan. I'm going to do it. Oh, I'm a little bit of all these people maybe, but like. There's something deeper and it's through the work of, you know, a book like this and facing your demons and really going deep and saying like, what is it that I uniquely offer?
Finding that that voice in particular for me on this podcast is, has, has been the key. And I'm only 40 episodes in man. So I'm only, I think really just beginning to like let it rip and really be me. I mean, over this last week or two, even I've really been putting myself out there in a different way.
Steven, my filter is this, by the way, I thought, I think this might be interesting for people. My filter is how do I show up with my friends? Like, cause I feel with my best friends, I'm pretty authentic. I'm about as authentic as it gets. I'm really just being me. I'll be silly. I'll make a joke. I'll be serious.
I'll philosophize. All these parts of me come out. I'll make a strong opinion. That's me. That doesn't have to be you. That's my filter for how I show up now on social media. And in my podcast, I did a rant the other day about the Joe Rogan apology. I was pissed. I wanted to talk about it. I gave my true thoughts that I think it's absolutely absurd to be apologizing for that and how this is actually a battle and he needs to stand up and how censorship and freedom of speech are at risk.
And that's my position on it. And I shared it freely and it wouldn't, if I hadn't gone through some of these things, I don't think I would have. I don't.
Steven: [00:58:04] What's so good about that. Whether it's a rant about anything, the difference is it's not a piece of content that you said "I did the SEO search, I did the keyword planning, this is what most people are clicking on". Let me fit myself into that box, because if you did an episode around that, people would feel it. And they'd say this isn't hitting me. I don't even know who this guy, you know, it just doesn't connect, but you. That's how everyone should show up in their art, just for them, essentially them with good intentions is mine.
Arman: [00:58:35] I love that reminds me of what Maria Popova said. My favorite blog on the internet. BrainPickings she started her blog. It is now read by millions of people a month to write for herself. Her reader is a reader of one. And that is herself. And I think she said, then she was like my best friend. I focused on myself and just my best friend, that was my audience.
And I started by writing and I sent it in an email. Then it became 10 people. And then she started sharing it as a newsletter and now it's become millions. And that is the only way in my opinion, that she has achieved the level of readership that she has because she doesn't care. She doesn't care who's reading, she's focused on the pureness of the art.
And not losing herself and making it about what other people want. So that's a perfect, like I think, you know, the parallel example because that's what it takes. And when we lose ourselves in our art, we've seen what happens. Like people, it loses that, that magic, that quality.
Steven: [00:59:37] And one more thing, if I can share, an artist friend, she saw me kind of hemming and hawing, and really tripping over this podcast journey.
And she said, Producing an episode is your journey. Once you publish it, that is a small piece of art and everyone's experience is going to be truly different. And at that point it has nothing to do with you.
It's all for you in the beginning. And once it's out there, I mean, you paint a painting. How many people are going to see it in the hallway.
You're not going to see 95% of them. It's their experience.
It has everything to do with them. You're out of the picture. So it almost helps you detach from expectations or whatever else you want to put with that. You are that process you hit publish, and then you can kind of just sit back and see what happens, focus on the next thing.
Don't wait for the likes, the clicks that, you know, all the things, because it has to do with them. They may fall in love with that, but feel so vulnerable, they're afraid to click, like, because they don't want anyone to know that they are connecting with a vulnerable piece of content. So you can't use that to measure.
Arman: [01:00:42] Yes, that's so true. It's so true. Yeah, feedback is hard to gauge and it's very hard to gauge and everyone who's put themselves out there in terms of their art or creativity has experienced it where the one you thought was going to crush, kind of just nothing happens. And then the unexpected ones, sometimes they just take off.
But again, it's about. It's it's, it's not being attached. I mean, I just want to close the loop on one thing from earlier that I don't think I properly did. It's like, this is supposed to come through you. This is a piece of art. You, your name, your identity is not the true author. Meaning. We're so attached to the success of it because it's attached to our ego and how we identify as a human being.
But the true artist, the true philosopher, the true thinker doesn't attach to negative response or a positive response. There's a Buddhist, non attachment to whatever happens because there's no joy in that, there's suffering when you attach. And as soon as you go into that place of the ego, that's attaching to the good too much, you begin suffering.
It's a slippery slope. And so I remember I was really young my first like phase in, in, in like exploring psychology and self-help, and I came across Eckard Tolle, I say this guy talks funny and I was listening to him and, Someone made the compliment in the audience. Like, you're unbelievable. Like, Oh my God. And he was just like, I mean, yeah.
Okay, thanks. But like, this is not. You know, Eckard and his skills and his is, is not something I attached to. This is just, I'm a vessel, I'm a vessel. And so I think that non-attachment is very important and creative pursuits in order to stay true and fulfilled.
Steven: [01:02:53] I think that's a beautiful place to land, Arman. Thank you for being here. Is there anything you'd like to leave our listener they are primed?
Arman: [01:03:01] Yeah, no. If this resonated with you, please reach out. I love people. I love connecting with new people. Best place to catch me is Instagram @ArmanAssadi and my website is armanassadi.com and you'll find the podcast there and everything else I'm up to.
Steven: [01:03:16] Awesome. All right, brother love to you. Thanks for being here.
Arman: [01:03:18] Thank you much. Love to you. Thank you, man.
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Arman Assadi helps leaders and creatives find their flow. He is the host of FLOW with Arman Assadi, co-founder & CEO of Project EVO, and founder & CEO of Assadi Media. He was featured on the cover of Foundr Magazine — which has featured household names like Richard Branson, Brené Brown, Mark Cuban, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Arianna Huffington.
If you enjoyed this content or have any questions/thoughts about it, I would love to connect.
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