Nov. 11, 2020

How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen with Dr. Jim Taylor

How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen with Dr. Jim Taylor

Our guest, Dr. Jim Taylor, is the author of “How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen: 9 Steps to Cultivating an Opportunity Mindset in a Crisis.”

Few of us go through life without experiencing some sort of crisis, whether health, financial, relationship, career, or personal safety. This is especially true today. Covid cases across the nation continue to skyrocket. Schools are still closed or closing. Millions of people are out of work. Racial division rages on, and climate change remains a growing existential threat. Many of these are or feel out of our control. But the one thing we can control is how we respond to them. 

Our guest, Dr. Jim Taylor, is the author of “How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen: 9 Steps to Cultivating an Opportunity Mindset in a Crisis.” In this episode, he shares simples strategies to help you move from a crisis mentality of fear, pessimism, and panic, to an opportunity mindset of calm, confidence, and courage that you control in a crisis.

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., is internationally recognized for his work in the psychology of critical performance. He is the author of 17 books and the lead editor of four textbooks. He has published more than 700 articles in scholarly and popular publications and has given more than 1000 workshops and presentations throughout the world. Taylor has blogged or written columns for The Saturday Evening Post,,,,, the Hearst Interactive Media group, as well as on his own web site.

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Jeremy: [00:00:00] This is the fit mess with Zach and Jeremy. A new president has been elected. Meanwhile COVID cases across the nation, skyrocket schools are closed or closing. Millions of people are out of work, racial division rages on, and the earth is still burning. Other than that, everything's great. All of these are some of the largest crises, the country and parts of the world, and likely you have ever faced.

So what do you do when faced with a crisis? Do you feel yourself in a fight or flight mode? And how can you turn these obstacles into opportunities? These are some of the issues we'll discuss with our guests this week. Dr. Jim Taylor is the author of how to survive and thrive when bad things happen, nine steps to cultivating an opportunity mindset and a crisis.

So I don't know about you, Zach, but I think a lot of people spent a lot of time last week, watching TV. There was the big election and, uh, many people, um, pretty much every American was waiting to see what was going to happen, hoping that their guy was going to win. And I, you know, I found myself I'd started the week, uh, getting a lot of things back on track.

I'd been, I had my diet sort of in line. I was working out, I was doing the things I needed to do. And then when it came time to find out what the answer to this big question that we've been wondering for two years was going to be, I could not leave my TV screen and this thing that was wildly beyond my control, everything that I could do about it, I did weeks ago, but I allowed it to completely take over my life and disrupt my routine, disrupt everything that I had that I had built on.

And it just crumbled to the ground. 

Zach: [00:01:41] Yeah, same kinda the same thing at our house. I was able to maintain all of my working out and eating right. And all of that. But. Every night, my wife and I sit down on the couch after everything is done and we watch a little bit of TV. And for the entire week I was already on the couch.

I already had the TV on. I already had the news on and my wife kept sitting down going, Oh, we're doing it this again.

Jeremy: [00:02:11] But it's, it's such a great example of what I think so many people have been doing for the last nine months, 10 months, wherever we're at now. With COVID. I mean, we've, we've all been told to stay home. Don't go out, don't go do things. And you know, our, our kids lives are disrupted. They're either virtually at school or they're at school until they get sent home because somebody has been exposed to something.

And so I know a lot of people are sort of waiting for things to settle down, waiting for the, the racial unrest to stop for the protests, to stop waiting for COVID to get fixed through some magic vaccine that will all. Get overnight in the, and we can all just go back to work, whatever it's going to be.

But there is this sense that I get from so many people that I hear from that people are just sort of waiting for things to change. And the harsh reality is they're not gonna, this is normal. This is not time that that our lives are on pause. And when this is over, we get to pick back up where we left off we're we're burning time of our life.

Now, probably at least a year that we could be doing other things that we could have our lives on track doing all the things that we are going to do someday. And I've been as much a victim of, of this. And I say, victim, I'm the one perpetrating this against myself, but I'm as guilty of this as anybody of sort of waiting for things to get better so that I can get yeah.

Back on track. 

Zach: [00:03:40] Yeah. Same thing here. It's okay. It took me a long time to realize that I was waiting for normal life to come back so I could get back on track with everything that I had. And we talked about it a few episodes ago, like how much grief there is in this and how much we lost and realizing that all of those things that you just said are now normal.

And we need to build our habits and our structure around that to, to continue to be healthy mentally and physically, and do the things that we need to do under this new normal. 

Jeremy: [00:04:14] And you mentioned grief too. I mean, that, that is a huge part of this and grief, you know, struggle, suffering. Is all longing for something to be other than the way it is.

And the sooner that you can acknowledge that this is the way it is. Everything, you know, outside of me is beyond my control. Then a lot of that grief and a lot of that suffering can dissolve and you can find yourself back at a place where you can now make decisions about how am I going to eat, how am I going to move my body?

How am I going to interact with other people? You know, how much am I going to participate in a political process? Whatever thing it is. I think it's a lot harder to do while you still sit in that grief, waiting for it to go away by the ma waving of a magic wand from someone else. 

Zach: [00:05:04] Yep. And I don't believe in magic wand.

There's not a whole lot. That's going to happen that I have any power over. So like you said, it's just. Well 

Jeremy: [00:05:16] power over and, and faith in, you know, I mean, back to the, to the COVID topic. I mean, you know, when doctor dr. Anthony Fowchee said, uh, around the time that the world series wrapped up, he said, by this time, next year, we should be able to have a normal world series should be able are the keywords there should, but we don't know.

We don't know how effective this vaccine is going to be. We don't know how willing people are going to be to take it. We don't know what long-term side effects like. Okay, great. Maybe this thing works and maybe it gives us all cancer in five years. I don't know I'm this is way beyond my comprehension and the way that these things work.

And I'm not trying to say vaccines are bad. I, I believe in science, I believe in vaccinations, but there's just so much, we don't know about a process. That's been so rushed and I'm not here to debate, you know, the validity of, of COVID or, or vaccinations. I'm just pointing out. That we don't know what the future holds.

All we know is what is real now. And all we can control is how we react to now. 

Zach: [00:06:17] Yeah. On the, on the topic of the vaccine, I have a, that's such a struggle for me because I I'm dealing with the crisis of that choice now because you're right. This is being rushed. There's no long-term studies on it. We don't know what it's going to do to us over time.

So while I want to get back to normal life, I want to live in a world where COVID, doesn't, I'm hesitant to take a vaccine that would give me that life back. 

Jeremy: [00:06:48] Yeah. And I think a, I think a lot of people definitely feel that way, but ultimately, you know, the point of all of this is that there is so much uncertainty.

There is so much that we don't know about the way that the future is going to look. And so rather than waiting to see what it's going to look like. For the next six months, six years, however long it's going to take. All we have is now and we have to react to now. And the way that we react to now is entirely up to us.

We can choose what to do with this moment and, and to either let the moment happen to us or take advantage of it and turn these obstacles and opportunities. Well, 

Zach: [00:07:26] I am going to have to clear that with my wife though. 

Jeremy: [00:07:28] First, none of us does anything without the, without the wife's approval. So how do we react to now how much of our fight or flight is being triggered by all of these problems that the world, that the country that you are facing?

For some of the answers to this, we turned to an expert. His name is dr. Jim Taylor. He has the new book out. It is called how to survive and thrive when bad things happen, nine steps to cultivating an opportunity mindset in a crisis. This is such an important thing for so many people to hear right now.

And he has so many great tips to help you. Just sort of start to shift your mindset, to start to acknowledge that this. Is reality. This is normal and what you need to do to capitalize on it, to make the most of it. We had a chance to talk to him just a few weeks ago, about his long career studying what you need to know to manage one or multiple 

Jim Taylor: [00:08:22] crises.

I have a PhD in psychology. And for many years, I've worked with high level of performers in business sports medicine, um, tactical. And, um, I've also been a high level athlete myself, and really, really what I focus on is critical performance is how do people perform when it really matters and clearly with our current crisis, what I characterized in a recent blog post, um, is a perfect storm of crises, political, moral health, economic.

The list goes on. And, and so we are challenged in a lot of ways how we can respond to the, this perfect storm of crises in a way that might not necessarily solve the problem immediately will help us get through it in the most positive and constructive 

Jeremy: [00:09:14] way. I I'd never really thought about it until preparing for this interview, but there are varying degrees of crisis there's I lost my job and there's global pandemic.

Do we either from just a practical standpoint and even a physiological standpoint, do we respond to them differently depending on how severe they are? Well, 

Jim Taylor: [00:09:34] it's a very good question. And I think a key, couple of key things, first of all, we all know what a crisis is. Viscerally. But I w when I try to do it in my book, um, just last year, so before any of this happened was, um, really helped people understand what it is, what a crisis is, is that understanding helps us manage it better.

It helps us be, can feel more in control. It helps us really figure out how best to respond. So a couple of things about a crisis, first of all, they're unexpected. And certainly nobody expected, um, COVID to pop up that's for sure. And all the other things that came with it, and also most powerfully it disrupts our lives, creates instability.

And that's something that we humans do not like we are not wired to like instability because instability creates three things that humans really, really don't like they don't like unfamiliarity, unpredictability and lack of control. And this goes back to our cave. People days, 250,000 years ago in the Serengeti when we first became you and beams.

Um, another thing key thing about a crisis is that it has some kind of trauma and the trauma can be come in many forms. It can be physical, psychological, social, emotional, economic, political, what have you. And what can be quite problematic? Is it triggers a sense of urgency. Like we need to react now. And I can describe why that is in a little bit, but that's my basic notion of the qualities, the aspects of a crisis.

And as you indicated, there are many different types of crises, but let's goes on personal health, safety relationships, financial, governmental, societal, environmental, natural disasters. We have hurricane Laura going on now, which is just adding to the problem. And so we're being hit. In so many different ways.

So it's so important that we be able to not just react, but step back and figure out how can we move forward in, in a, in a, in a healthy way. In my 

Zach: [00:11:30] line of work crisis hit very quickly. We have to deal with them and react very quickly. And then they're over. Very quickly. This is such a long and drawn out crisis.

And as you mentioned, like just one thing after the other, after the other keeps adding on to this stuff, and you mentioned, you know, taking that step back and looking at it, um, in a different way, how, how can somebody do that? So somebody like me, I see a crisis. I jump in and I react. How can I step back and take that bigger look?

Jim Taylor: [00:12:03] Okay. Well, I want to make a distinction between what I call primitive crises and modern crises. So we're wired through evolution to respond very quickly to, to what I call primitive crises. Let's go back to the Serengeti. Two, an 50,000 years ago, a crisis would be a threat to our survival, and it might be a rival tribesmen with a really big club or a saber tooth tiger.

And so it required us to have this very immediate reaction, but also the crises were very clear and they were tangible. So it was very clear what I need to do with this rival tribesmen with a really big club. And I'll talk about that in a second, but today's crises, as you alluded to, they're often unforeseeable.

Um, they're difficult to understand, certainly COVID, it's hard to wrap your arms around how this has all happened. Also in many ways, um, some of these crises are distanced in indirect. And also, as you noted, they're delayed and lingering. So this is not just like a caveman, we need to fight or flight fight or flee.

How do we deal with this? And so another tough thing is that in those primitive crises, they're within our control. We can do something about it. Whereas with, with COVID for example, yes, there are things we can do in our immediate vicinity, but overall weak individuals can't find a cure for a vaccine for COVID.

So my, my basic idea is that what worked then doesn't work now because this immediate. Quick reaction simply isn't going to be effective in response to the crisis that we're facing today. And that has led also in my book, I talk about this distinction in terms of what I call it, crisis mentality and an opportunity mindset.

And what you were talking about earlier really is a crisis mentality. And would you like me to 

Jeremy: [00:13:51] play? I was just going to ask you to expand on that. Okay. 

Jim Taylor: [00:13:55] So, uh, let me, if you'll give me a little attitude to provide a very brief neuro anatomy brain anatomy lesson is structured based the brain called the amygdala.

And not only do we have what all, all creatures have some form of it, and it's basically the gateway for all information. And the purpose of the amygdala is to take that information and extremely quickly, and then produce a response if necessary. So again, this served us extremely well in the Serengeti 250,000 years ago, where when faced with this media threat, we didn't have time to step back and go.

Hmm. Interesting. I wonder how we should deal with this situation. He doesn't have any club. He kind of looks pretty big. It looks like he wants to follow me to death because if we took that time, what was likely to happen? Well, we were going to get pummeled to death and we wouldn't survive. Um, and so what happened was it would produce very immediate, very powerful reactions.

What we're very familiar with, the fight or flight reaction, where we would either, um, experience very strong emotions, such as anger to fight. Or fear to fleet, which would also produce very immediate reactions, physiologically increase in heart rate, respiration, adrenaline, blood flow. And we all know this feeling.

For example, somebody cuts you off in traffic and you, and you barely avoid an accident. You didn't have to step back step back and think about how to react. You just feel the adrenaline flow and you swerve. And so that crisis mentality again, was very effective with those primitive crises that, that instant and intense emotions, the frenzied reaction.

But again, that reaction does not work well with modern crisis. 

Jeremy: [00:15:38] With regard to that, I wanted to ask. It seems many of us are prone to one or the other. We have an instinct to react quickly and instinctively and others run and flee the other way. Uh, is that genetic, is that learned? Where does that come from?

Jim Taylor: [00:15:54] Yeah, it's wired into us through millions of years of evolution. And it's it's singular goal is to, was to, was to ensure that we survived. And in certainly in modern times it does serve a purpose. Like I said, if you're driving, if there's some sort of very immediate threat or crisis, but in terms of the crises that we're experiencing now with this perfect storm, um, it isn't effective because it doesn't help.

We can't, we can't fight. COVID and we can't flee from it exactly. It's shelter and places that are caused us to have to do that to some degree. Um, so that crisis mentality simply is ineffective in today's crisis, 

Jeremy: [00:16:34] I guess. How do we manage that? How do we cope with not really being able to do anything when there's so many massive things happening at once?

Jim Taylor: [00:16:42] Sure sure. The goal is to not just react to it. And so now here's a continuation of my mini neuro anatomy lesson. There's another part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. It's sort of up in front of our fore behind our forehead. The prefrontal cortex is involved in what's called executive function and executive functioning involves basically.

Thinking being able to deliberate, look at options, look at choices. Um, that way risk reward look at short-term in the long-term and then ultimately make decisions from that. And this is something that has evolved only in humans as part of it. With this thing up here that we have called the cerebral cortex.

It's super separates us from animals. It gives us the ability to think about situations we're faced with. And the goal when a crisis strikes like the pandemic is to reroute that information. Through the amygdala and it still might trigger the fight or flight, but again, it doesn't work, but then immediately have it trans transfer and continue onto the prefrontal cortex where we can then use that prefrontal cortex, our executive functioning to engage in a thought process that will in fact, actually help us get through these crises.

And so a couple of things about that, first of all, maintaining sort of a positive can-do orientation. Like, there are things we can do here. Now, running around frantically are not those things, but there are things we can do also very importantly, being common, purposeful, again, don't freak out, no fight or flight, be able to step back and stay calm as calm as you can anyway, and figure out a purpose here.

So let's go through some deliberate thinking about how best to deal with this situation. And so, for example, let's wear a mask, let's keep six feet away. Let's not interact with a lot of other people at same time indoors. So there are things we can do that can in fact, help us deal with that feeling of disruption and instability and familiarity, unfamiliarity, unpredictability, and lack of control.

So there are things we can do in our world that can help us with that. And so what this does, it's sort of short circuits, bean, or maple, his reaction, and enables us the time and the space to be able to come up with a plan for how best to deal with 

Jeremy: [00:19:00] the situation. So how does the, I don't want to say conflicting information, but how does the confusion around.

The people that are wrong and the people that are saying wear a mask, how does that play into trying to respond to a crisis when, when you feel like the best thing I can do is where I'm asking stay away. And then you're sort of flooded with, in this case, a leader saying, ah, don't bother it to hoax.

Everything's fine. How does that play into this? 

Jim Taylor: [00:19:27] Yeah, no, it makes things worse and I don't want to get political here. 

Jeremy: [00:19:31] That's not my point. Yeah. 

Jim Taylor: [00:19:32] Right, right. And, and, um, but, but clearly even with the world health organization, with the CDC early on, they said certain things. And then as they gained more information to learn about it, they change the information.

And so that creates confusion and that creates more stress, more, more triggering of our, of our, um, of our crisis mentality. And so that makes it extra hard. And it's very important to be able to always go back to like, okay, what are the basics here? What do we really understand about the situation? And then do what we can, because invariably, with a crisis like this, that evolves information is going to change about what works and what doesn't.

So it does require a degree of flexibility, but unfortunately, When our medulla gets triggered, our survival instinct is triggered. Our fight or flight gets triggered. Flexibility's not really in the plans because that takes too much time. Right? At least the primitive part of our brain thinks. 

Zach: [00:20:28] So when the fight or flight instinct kicks in and you, and you interrupted and you talked about it a second ago, a few things that you can do to, to help interrupt it, you mentioned.

Positive mindset. I am off the charts anxious. So my, my fight or flight is going nonstop all the time. I don't have to have somebody cut me off. I just get in the car and started fires. So I spend my entire day getting in front of it. And I would, I want to hear your, your, if you could, a little bit more detail on, like, how does that positive mindset, how does a positive message interrupt that signal and make that change in a person?

Jim Taylor: [00:21:11] Right, right. Well, because it counteracts all the negative emotions and those instincts that are just coursing through our, through our veins and through our brains and, and, and anything we can do that can take our mind off the immediacy of those feelings. Cause they are, as you, as you indicated so compelling and so hard to resist again, resisting millions of years of evolution is a pretty significant task that's for sure.

And, but a couple of things I find are really helpful. First of all going back to our values. Now, again, I'm always a little reluctant to talk about the V word because it's been hijacked and it's become politicized and it's been used as a cudgel. But when I talk about values, I talk about the values that we can all agree on no matter where you live, no matter what your faith or politics, because the values provide two things.

First of all, especially when our lives get disrupted, it creates a sense of solid ground. Okay. So I'm going to go back to what I truly believe in. And that might be, if you're a person of faith, it might be faith. Um, it might be some self-responsibility and ownership. Um, it might be taking care of my family and my community that right there plays a big role in activating the prefrontal cortex and disengaging the amygdala.

So simply going back to like, okay, what do I value? And what do I want to have happen in this crisis? What are my priorities? That really has a grounding effect. It also acts as a North star. That is a PR if writes direction about where you want to go with all of this. So I want to protect my family. I want to continue to do my job if I have one, um, I want to be able to help my neighbors if they need help.

So simply discussion about this, anything that gets you out of that, that, that vicious cycle of threat survival fight or flight and so on is really, really valuable. Um, another really powerful thing are the attitudes we hold. Um, and one particular one is victim versus master. That's an expression I use being a master of a situation.

And you think, well, I can't really master COVID what you can master is yourself. And we do have that capacity to have to do, to engage control over how we think, what emotions we experience, how we act on the world and how we react to the world. Because a lot of these days it is about reacting to this ever-changing world.

And so there's this tendency when presented with a threat of a crisis is to want to crawl up in a ball in bed, watching binge watching TV and eating ice cream. That kind of withdrawal. It provides again, in a primitive sense, you're safe in your room, but in the broader sense, you're not because you're at the mercy of the world around you.

And I'm a big believer that the more you can gain control of your world. And it might just be a very small thing in the world, but it's still your world. We creates some mastery over it that has a powerful effect on our psychology, our emotions and our physiology. So looking at our lives, especially during shelter in place, what can I do to make this as positive, an experience as possible?

And I really want to be, um, Be sensitive to an empathetic, to so many people in our country and around the world who have been directly hit by COVID where they either got COVID or, or they've lost family members, or they've lost their jobs. We live in Northern California and we're sort of in a bubble I've known one person who has gotten COVID and fortunately, my work has continued so well, so we're okay.

Financially. And we, we follow the rules when we're safe. So our lives have been disrupted, but not in, in any major way compared to a lot of other people around this country and around the world. So I want to be respectful of that. Um, but even within that, it's approaching COVID and these other crises, um, from a position of threat, um, is a way in, in a way it's sort of adding insult to injury because the injury is.

All these things that are changing our lives with COVID financially health, politically, all these different ways. The insult, the, the insult of the injury is lending. It really, really impacted us. And I'm sure you've heard about how the rates of depression and anxiety and stress, particularly among young people, um, has just skyrocketed and really what so many of us are experiencing is post-traumatic stress.

And we're, and we're going to be seeing that my professional belief, we're gonna be seeing the effects of this for many years to come, especially among our children. So the more we, if as parents and just as people can, can handle the crises. In a healthy and constructive and positive way, the better will be, it will be for us, but also very powerfully for our kids, because for them, this is scary.

This is super scary, especially the younger ones. And they don't know what this means. This means people are getting sick and dying. Oh my gosh. Yeah. And so if we, as parents are freaking out, that sends a very scary message to our children. So if, if for any other reason then our kids. Let's get our act together and I was going to drop the S word, but I wasn't gonna say get our act together and, and respond with that opportunity mindset because, you know, we can't change a lot of their realities of, of COVID and all these other challenges around us.

But what we can do is be a master of us and that alone will mitigate a lot of the downsides that come with it. The experience we're having is once in a lifetime experience, 

Jeremy: [00:26:52] it's funny that you mentioned that my, my wife found out she was losing her job, but I know that for me, the, the initial instinct was, Oh man, we're screwed.

What are we going to do? But then, you know, a day or two went by and we had time to sort of process that. And really like you were saying, like, step back, think about what's really going on here, assess the threat and ultimately. It's already turned into, uh, a positive for both of us. I ended up finding some, some extra side work that's brought in a lot more money, a lot more quickly than I thought it would.

She was basically, and, and offered a job right away. And so, so it was interesting. I remember having a mental shift a couple of days into that process of just thinking. This is going to be better. This is, I can't believe what an opportunity this is rather than a scary situation. And that really sounds like what you're talking about is, is when you have the time to process that you can flip these things into opportunities.

Jim Taylor: [00:27:45] Yes. Very much so. And, and what I've heard, especially the first couple of months of, of this, and it's been a fascinating arc in terms of our experience of COVID from the first month or two to now, we're heading towards six months in how it's affecting us. But initially I heard a lot of people saying this is really wonderful.

Yeah, because it's enabled me to spend more time with my family. I'm not commuting in a house half an hour and a half a day. Um, I can focus on myself a little more. I'm more time to do things that I particularly value and, and seeing this as, as disruption can be seen as very threatening and a primitive sense, but disruption of our lives can in fact be very healthy because as long as we're in our normal lives, We're probably not going to make any major changes, even though we're not necessarily happy in those lines because we create this role around us that supports.

The art, what we do for a living, the people we hang out with, where we live, our activities. And the, and the fact is though, again, it's hard to change thing aspects of our lives when we have these routines and patterns and habits. So this disruption in our lives can be so beneficial because it's caused us to have to sit back.

Reflect and reconsider and maybe do a reset in terms of, uh, in terms of what kind of lives we want to leave. And that can be macro, like moving to Northern Idaho and living off the grid. That's a pretty extreme, not likely to happen for most of us, or simply maybe saying, you know, I'm going to eat better, or I'm going to reach out to my extended family that I haven't had time for, or I'm going to exercise, or I'm going to learn a new learn to play guitar or whatever it might be.

So again, it's this idea. Of resisting the negative spin of a lot of these experiences and seeing them as opportunities to reconsider ourselves, maybe to reinvent ourselves. And at the very least, a little disruption can be healthy as long as the consequences. Of course, aren't too major. 

Zach: [00:29:40] My wife and I have now, you know, for, for years, we've been saying, you know, when.

When we retire, we're going to find a nice place on the beach and that, and that's going to be it now through this, a w I got to spend so much more time with my family, which was awesome. But through this, we've now realized that we don't have to live where we work like that that's going to stick around.

So now we're talking about, well, let's go find that place now. And spend 20 more years at the beach and it, you know, it disrupted us to the point where we're going to go make a positive change. 

Jim Taylor: [00:30:15] That's great. I think that one of the challenges, at least here we have a, we have a second home in the mountains, about three hours from San Francisco and we've had for a number of years.

But it's real estate market. There is just insane because everybody from the city and the suburbs want to get out and for safety reasons, because there's lower rates up there because it's so isolated, but also because they don't need to be in an office now. So why not live in the mountains? So that's a wonderful example of normally you probably wouldn't have thought of that, but this is, this has caused you to go, huh?

Why not? And start enjoying that place on the beach. When I'm 40 or however old you are rather than when I'm 65. 

Jeremy: [00:30:53] Yeah, absolutely. What are maybe one or two takeaways that people can take into the world as it is, and try and find ways to flip this and find that opportunity if they haven't already. 

Jim Taylor: [00:31:05] Sure.

Maybe I can offer many more than one or two, but a couple of quick ones that I think are valuable. First of all, is a tendency when faced the crisis to lose motivation, not want to work. And I want to exercise, not want to do anything again, it's that call curling up on your ball on your bed. And my first recommendation is reignite your motivation.

Find something that excites you and throw yourself into it. That is an incredible, incredible tool for dealing with the stressors and the uncertainty of a crisis. Having a purpose. Um, for me, um, it's been triathlon. I got back into doing triathlons last summer and I'm just working out a ton, getting ready for races whenever they might be.

So whatever it might be, find something to get excited about, to get motivated about and throw yourself into it. Um, second is control of the controls. So identify what in your life you can control. And then what in your life you can't control. Don't obsess. Don't focus on the things you can't control, and then really make an effort to gain control of the things you can control.

Um, also generate positive emotions, so buys very nature, coven and all these other crises. They create anger, frustration, disappointment, despair here, the tsunami of negative emotions, incredibly unpleasant. So we have to much more actively go out and generate positive emotions, whether it's listening to music, reading, having a nice dinner, um, hanging out with friends, six feet away with mask on of course, or remotely.

Um, anything that can actively generate positive emotions we'll will reduce the power and the frequency of all those negative emotions. Two last things. Uh, one is stay connected. So I wrote a blog post for, um, San Francisco Chronicle, the big paper here a while ago, um, where I said that social distancing is the wrong goal because we, more than anything.

Now we need to connect with people because one of the most important, the research shows that when the most powerful, um, buffers of stress is so support. So we don't need to socially distance. We need to physically distance. Yes, but we need to be stay connected. We need to stay connected so much more than before.

So really make a conscious effort to reach out to people safely, of course, or remotely and connect with people and stay connected. Lastly, gratitude. This is another one of those things that seems so small. And yet the research shows that it is so connected to happiness and wellbeing. Simply being grateful, whether over dinner, everybody at the table.

Sharing something they're grateful for, or I do this every time I go out to the grocery store or to the gas station or anywhere where they're essential workers. And I express my gratitude. Now, these, they are the unreached spoken heroes of this crisis. They're the ones who are at risk. They're the ones we're doing, what needs to be done while we're safe at home.

So just every opportunity you have be grateful to somebody use, it makes you feel good. And I can tell you, it makes the other person feel good too.

Jeremy: [00:34:11] The book is how to survive and thrive when bad things happen, nine steps to cultivating an opportunity mindset and a crisis that was dr. Jim Taylor, fascinating conversation. And, uh, he, he brought up some excellent points that I think are really important to highlight. And one of the biggest. And it's a struggle for me is what he talked about in terms of physical distancing, not social distancing, making sure that we are staying connected to our support systems, our friends, our family, whether that's over zoom, whether that's Skype, whether it's, you know, six feet apart in the front yard, whatever it's going to be.

This is a tough one for me because I, uh, I'm not a wildly social person. I don't enjoy parties. I don't enjoy being around a bunch of people. We talked about this a little bit, uh, on our last episode with Andre solo, from the highly sensitive refuge, I don't, I don't sit here longing to go hang out with my friends.

It's, it's really tough for me to do, frankly, you know, Zach, you and I probably text five to six days a week to each other, even if it's just a. A funny joke, something, but like you are my lifeline to other people beyond that. I don't really talk to anyone outside of my house, the house 

Zach: [00:35:23] that's a really piss poor lifeline.


Jeremy: [00:35:28] but it's, but for me it's enough, right? I don't, I don't need long hour long zoom calls with small talk and how your doings and, and whatnot. Um, but. On the flip side of that, uh, my family has been, uh, really enjoying going hiking, which is great. My, my youngest daughter is now old enough that she's, she's getting riskier.

She's she's five. So she wants to get out and test her limits and do her things. So over the weekend, we got together with some friends in our neighborhood that, you know, we all massed up. We went for a hike out in the mountains and it was awesome. Like just, just to see my kids, having that social interaction.

Cause it's easy for me to forget how much they need it. Because I don't, maybe I do need it, but I don't want it. So it's a whole other thing, but, but it was, it was really nice to, you know, despite wearing a mask to experiencing experience something normal and, and that, that can be sort of, um, invigorating and can sort of revive your interest in life because when you don't leave your house six or seven days a week, uh, that becomes a little too normal.

And I, and you guys are doing the same thing, right? You guys are gonna start getting outside. 

Zach: [00:36:41] Yeah. So we, my wife has a big skier. My daughter's learning how to ski. I learned to ski when I was, um, when I had my sense of mortality about me. So I was never super excited about screaming down a Hill really fast on things that, that don't have like a brake pedal.

Right. I know you can stop, but like, 

Jeremy: [00:37:00] um, I'm big on breaks. Yeah. I'm big on breaks. I'm I'm with ya. 

Zach: [00:37:03] So, fortunately we actually live about 15 minutes away from a, it's not a full mountain. It's a, it's a Ridge, but it's, it's this really cool little, uh, ski Ridge that is built for people to learn how to ski.

The chair lift is really, really, really short, but my daughter's learning how to ski. So I signed up for lessons, my wife, who has been skiing her whole life, signed up for lessons and we bought seasons passes to this place. And we're just going to, whenever I have a lesson, they're going to go skiing. When, when one of them has a lesson, the other two are going to go skiing.

Nice. So we're just going to go skiing all winter. And we get our exercise. We get outside, we'll socialize a little bit, but this is the new normal. Yeah. We have to figure out new things to do. And it's freezing cold in New York. So go out and enjoy it. 

Jeremy: [00:37:54] Yeah. 

Zach: [00:37:55] But I wouldn't have considered this last year. I would have been, well, Natalie needs to know how to ski, 

Jeremy: [00:38:01] so we'll get her lessons 

Zach: [00:38:02] and I'll bring her to the lessons, but, and I'll go skiing here and there, but I'm not super interested in it, but now that's like, My only opportunity to get out of the house in the wintertime here, unless I want to go to a place where other people are congregating and I don't want to do it 

Jeremy: [00:38:19] well, and it can get a lot safer.

Right. I mean, you've got some sort of face cover because it's super cold. You've got goggles. So you're super covered there. The sun has gloves. Yeah. The sun is likely shining. So you got the UV protect. I mean, in Europe, you've got to be well, spaced apart. Otherwise you crash into each other and die. I mean, it doesn't get a lot better in terms of, uh, making the most of a shitty situation.

Zach: [00:38:44] Yeah. So, but I wouldn't have considered that last year, but this year it's like, This what a great opportunity to change 

Jeremy: [00:38:52] my life. Yeah. And that's, this is exactly what we're talking about is looking at this moment and what can I do differently to adapt to this normal? My family is, uh, taking some re relatively extreme measures.

We are considering making a big move. Uh, my, my wife is Canadian, so we're considering moving up to Canada. And it's a, it's a huge cultural shift for us. I mean, I shouldn't say huge. I mean, it's still North America. It's not going to be, you know, we don't have to learn a new language. We do not, we do have to learn the metric system, which is, that's not going to be easy, but, but we're considering making a move up there because it is.

From a COVID standpoint, a lot safer, the area we're looking, the numbers are almost non-existent, it's a much safer environment. It's a cheaper place to live like, and I'm, and I'm not trying to highlight that other than where it's sort of taking stock of everything and going, what, what do we want from this moment?

And what can we control? Do we want to stay in a place where the disease is rampant and there's no sign that it's going to go away? Or do we want to take a chance on something that might be a little safer? The point is. What can you do with this moment? What can you do to adapt to this normal, to make the most of it, rather than waiting for it to go away?

Because how long are you willing to wait? How much of your life are you willing to give up in front of the TV? There's last week maybe was an exception for a lot of us. Maybe it felt a little too familiar, but just, you know, doom, scrolling, looking at Facebook, looking at all the things staring at CNN or Fox or whatever you're watching.

All of that stuff is also just preventing you from living the life that you probably want to live. If you're listening to the show, you're not coming to us to hear us, tell you to sit on the couch and watch TV, you know, so that's, that's a really easy way to start making some changes. Turn off. Netflix only look at Facebook once a week.

Like whatever, whatever limitations you can put on that stuff is only going to help you find that there's all this time that was being sucked away. By a screen and you know, there's no better lesson than the hike that I was on with my kid. She, she brought, uh, you know, uh, a digital camera to take pictures and the whole time she's taking pictures and then looking at the pictures of the things she took while walking up the Mount, like experiencing it, she's staring at a screen.

So that's just another, just a quick takeaway. If, if there's a way to limit that limit your screen time, limit your social media. Again, it's a, it's a great way to just take a simple step to finding ways to respond to now, rather than just letting those things. Suck your time and energy away. If you can 

Zach: [00:41:33] put a timer on Facebook and Instagram, I will say from experience, if you put a limit of say 10 or 15 minutes on each one of them, you will be surprised how quickly?


Jeremy: [00:41:45] just to quickly nerd out for a minute. I know you can do that on Android. Is, do you know of a, of a. Um, Apple setting to do that or, or an app. 

Zach: [00:41:54] Yeah. If you have an Apple, you can use the there's an app called screen time that you can set limits. Um, I think you think it's called app limits, uh, with an Apple and then in on an Android phone, there's digital wellbeing where you can also set, uh, limits on how long you can use an app 

Jeremy: [00:42:10] for.

Nice, well, cool. I'm I, you know, I need that as much as anybody, so I'll be experimenting with that myself, uh, in, in the days ahead. I can 

Zach: [00:42:20] tell you one thing I'm not going to change is I'm going to keep enjoying athletic beers, non alcoholic, athletic beers, while I'm. Either watching TV and not doing the things that I need to do, or if I'm doing the things I need to do to change, I'm going to continue to drink Athletic Beers.

Jeremy: [00:42:38] They are a sponsor of this show. And it's so funny because I love following them on social media because they, through their product, they promote the lifestyle that I want to live. Really. Outdoors-y living life to the fullest, all the things. So on my hike, I brought some athletic beers to the top of the mountain.

And when we got up there, I cracked a couple and it was so cool because. Well, there were a number of reasons, but I got, I got to share, you know, having some beers with a friend and with my wife. And that was just a nice feeling. It was a great way to cap off the climb up to the top. But then on the way down about halfway, I realized back in the day I would have brought a real beer.

And right now I would feel exhausted because I had that beer and like just the relaxation of the alcohol would have kicked in and I would just be wanting to get to the bottom. Cause that would be so tired. And I was like, I actually still feel great. This is awesome. So, uh, and, and to hear my friend go, Oh my God, that's amazing.

I can't believe how good that is. So this is turning into a raging commercial for them, which is fine, but we just, we believe in it. And it's fun to have it part of our life because we both used to enjoy a beer or nine. And, uh, and to be able to have one that tastes this good while living an active lifestyle is really fun.

All right. Well, before we get outta here a quick, thank you to our guests, dr. Jim Taylor, again was one. I mentioned the book is how to survive and thrive when bad things happen, nine steps, cultivating an opportunity mindset and a crisis. We have a link to that on our website. And while you're on our website, go ahead and sign up for our newsletter.

Like many of you have in the last week or so. Uh, welcome to the show. When you sign up to the newsletter, we will keep you up to date on, on new episodes to make sure you don't miss them. We'll sign you up for, uh, opportunities to win books from the various authors we speak with. And other prizes that will be coming down the pike here shortly.

For example, 

Zach: [00:44:21] in the next couple of episodes, we may or may not be giving out an Amazon gift card to help you with that Christmas shopping. 

Jeremy: [00:44:27] Well, where do I sign up? I'll tell you is our website. While you're there, subscribe to the show on whatever podcast player you use to listen to your podcasts.

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We will be back next week with a brand new episode at 

Zach: [00:44:54] See everyone. 

Jeremy: [00:44:56] We know this podcast is amazing 

and does not seem to lack anything, but we do need a legal disclaimer, 

Jeremy and Zach are not doctors. 

They do not play them on the 

internet. And even if they did play them on the internet, 

they would be really bad at 


Please consult 

your physician 

prior to implementing 

any changes that you heard on this podcast. The listener assumes that Jeremy and Zach do not know what they are talking about 

and that you will do your own research on the topics talked about on this podcast.


Dr. Jim TaylorProfile Photo

Dr. Jim Taylor


Jim Taylor, Ph.D., Psychology is an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of performance, parenting, technology, and popular culture.

Dr. Taylor has been a consultant for the United States and Japanese Ski Teams, the United States Tennis Association, and USA Triathlon, and has worked with professional and world-class athletes in tennis, skiing, cycling, triathlon, track and field, swimming, football, golf, baseball, fencing, and many other sports. He has been invited to lecture by the Olympic Committees of Spain, France, Poland, and the U.S., and has consulted with the Athletic Departments at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.