Wild with Sarah Wilson
KIERAN SETIYA: How to love living a hard life
Life is hard. And yet so much of contemporary life compels us to fight this fundamental reality. We are meant to be happy! We are meant to live our best, most #blissful, potential-stacked life! But I talk with Kieran Setiya, a professor of philosophy at MIT, who argues we should #NotLiveOurBestLife. It’s better to aspire to a life that is, well, good enough. Kieran has appeared on Sam Harris’ podcast, written for the New York Times, the London Review of Books etc bringing a philosophical argument to pop issues such as the Dave Chapelle quandary, baseball and the worth of having a midlife crises. In his latest book, Life is Hard, he draws on Aristotle, Wittgenstein, and Simone Weil - as well as Groundhog Day and Joan Didion – to guide us to a good life, which entails embracing pain and hardship. In this chat we cover: How to make friends; what if the whole world turned sterile; the beauty of chronic pain and Kieran’s thesis for “the meaning of life” (it’s a cracker, and it’s not 42!).
Grab Kieran’s book Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way
Read some of his essays and connect with him via his website
He mentions he came across Wild via this interview with Katherine May
If you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" page.
Subscribe to my Substack newsletter for more such conversation.
Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious Life
Let’s connect on Instagram! It’s where I interact the most.
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128. HANNAH BARNES: We need to think through the transgender kids debate01:10:12Hannah Barnes (BBC journalist; exposed the “Tavistock Clinic” scandal) has become the somewhat reluctant global voice on the raging child transgender debate. In her award-winning BBC investigation, and in her new book, Time To Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children, she investigates how the UK Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at Tavistock Clinic in London referred more than 1200 kids, some as young 9 years old for treatment to block puberty, largely in the absence of data and research about its safety and efficacy. Her research highlighted a whole range of complex issues about the well-being of teens, trans people and our culture broadly. In this chat, Hannah and I cover how 35 per cent of gender dysphoric teens are autistic, the massive uptick in kids identifying as trans worldwide (one study reports a 1000% increase in young people identifying as trans or nonbinary), and the important reasons why there are suddenly way more girls than boys wanting to transition.SHOW NOTESGet hold of Hannah's book Time To Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for ChildrenThe Australian situation regarding the age of consent is outlined hereAnd here’s the information showing the number of teen girls coming out as transI mention Jess Singal’s work on the subject. Find Jesse over at Blocked and Reported (this link has a bunch of extra reads on the topic relating to Hannah’s work) and read his original article for The Atlantic "When Children Say They're Trans"Catch up on my Substack writing on it here and hereIf you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
127. AMA: How should I (ethically) do a massive clean-out (to "Kondo" or to "Wilson”)?23:39In this episode of Ask Me Anything I answer three questions: How should I do the massive cleanout of my life - to Kondo or to Wilson? What does your life in Paris look like? How do you find accommodation (in Paris and beyond) when travelling (or just living nomadically)?I cover a bunch of links that you can get over at my Substack page. You can watch the video version there, too, where I show how I reworked a dress I’ve worn every summer since I was 21 and take the opportunity to give my denim shorts, which I’ve had for 18 years, a send-off.SHOW NOTESYou can get hold of my Simplicious books hereIf you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
126. CONNOR BEATON: The confronting reason why men watch porn01:15:16Connor Beaton (men’s coach, porn addict mentor) helps men face their shadows. The US author and podcaster has coached thousands of men on “how to be good at being men”. The masculinity crisis is a persistent theme here on Wild (and in the world) and so I am having these chats to better understand it and how it impacts all of us. I asked Connor to join us to chat about porn – what it’s doing to men, what is not being satisfied and how it’s affecting relationships. We also cover why boys flock to Andrew Tate, what women really mean when they say they want a man to be vulnerable and what happens in relationships when women earn more than the bloke.If there are any specific angles or experts on men and masculinity you’d like covered here, do let me know over in my Substack comments.SHOW NOTESYou can follow Connor on Instagram and listen to his podcast Man TalksGet hold of his book Man Talks: A Practical Guide to Face Your Darkness, End Self Sabotage and Find FreedomLearn more via his websiteIf you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
125. AMA: My climate activist son needs your help!22:58This week’s question comes from concerned mum Emma, but it’s one that is cropping up a lot - What to do about the burden young people are shouldering in the face of a crumbling world? Emma is worried her 16-year-old activist son is taking on too much and she’s worried about his climate anxiety.Research shows one-third of young people have sought counselling or medical help for eco-anxiety. However, my answer to Emma and her son takes a different direction. What if kids are pissed off and we, the adults, are projecting OUR anxiety (and shame?) onto them? I also cover my recent warm jacket purchase and why it is so very not French-fashionable.SHOW NOTESI mention in this rant the previous Wild podcast episodes with Meg Wheatley and Paul Hawken and the one with Margaret Klein Salamon. We will continue the conversation over at my Substack if you’d like to join. It’s here you can also post another AMA question for me.If you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
124. PAUL HAWKEN: We’re ending the climate crisis in one generation01:03:04Paul Hawken (Project Drawdown founder) is the climate activist who, for decades, has shown us how we can *actually* make a difference. He’s been an activist since the 1960s (he was once seized by the KKK), is the most influential voice on corporate sustainability and created the legendary Project Drawdown, which calculated the top 100 actions that bring down CO2 (tl;dr: educating girls and tackling food waste top the list). Paul's latest project Regeneration (a book and website) takes things even further and provides the world’s largest listing and network of climate solutions geared not at fixing the crisis but rebuilding our sense of connection to the planet.In this chat, Paul and I talk honestly about why 98% of people are still not changing their behaviour even though we now know the facts AND we are now living IN climate change, whether “drawdown” is possible and how to be most effective as a climate activist in light of all this.SHOW NOTESGet hold of Paul’s books Drawdown and RegenerationPlay around on the Regeneration site to find very tangible solutions to things you might be doing or projects you might want to dive into.Get your copy of This One Wild and Precious LifeIf you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Let’s connect on Instagram
123. BONUS EP: Sarah + Oliver Burkeman chatting on Intelligence Squared01:00:19Figured many of you here would like to hear the conversation I had recently with Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals over at the British intellectual podcast Intelligence Squared. It’s one of my favourite podcasts, and so I was supremely thrilled when they invited me to lead an "in conversation” about self-help scepticism. Here’s the blurb they ran: Oliver Burkeman is the anti-self-help author that everyone interested in self-help should read. He encourages us to embrace uncertainty and imperfection in a world obsessed with self-improvement and relentless goal-setting. For over ten years he wrote the popular ‘This Column Will Change Your Life’ column for The Guardian and his latest book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals, was a huge bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. Sarah Wilson is the founder of the global ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement, was editor of Cosmopolitan Australia at the age of 29, and has interviewed two Australian prime ministers, Beyoncé, Brené Brown, the Dalai Lama and dozens of moral philosophers, effective altruists and existential risk experts during her career. Her most recent book, This One Wild and Precious Life, won the US Gold Nautilus Prize and describes how she spent three years hiking around the world, following in the footsteps of Nietzsche and Wordsworth and emerging with a blueprint for living a wilder, more connected life. For this episode, Burkeman and Wilson come together at Intelligence Squared for an engaging discussion about the limitations of the traditional self-help industry, the importance of mindfulness, and practical strategies for leading a more balanced and purposeful life.SHOW NOTESCatch my interview with Oliver (about his book Four Thousand Weeks) hereCheck out Intelligence Squared hereIf you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
122. MARGARET WHEATLEY: An episode on civilization collapse (warning: truly confronting)50:39Margaret (Meg) Wheatley (collapse theorist, global leadership consultant) is something of a legend in her field. She has worked for 50 years helping humans adapt to their world using systems analysis, chaos theory and deep spiritualism (she’s good friends with one of my heroes the Buddhist monk Pema Chödrön). Poets, scientists and philosophers quote her writing, she has worked in countless disaster situations around the world and was commissioned to transform the leadership of large institutions such as the US Army and the National Park Service. Plus she’s the author of 12 books, including Who Do We Choose to Be? and the forthcoming Restoring Sanity. Meg has also researched the collapse of civilisations throughout history and is a leading voice among a community of scientists, economists, historians and philosophers who are arguing that our civilisation is also currently heading toward collapse. This is a challenging conversation and the subject has its deniers. Meg steers our focus to becoming the leaders we want to see amid the cascading crises facing the world and to create “islands of sanity” amid the despair. In this conversation, we cover the responsibility of the rich, why it’s redundant to talk about saving the world, and how to sit in despair and create a meaningful life from it all.Meg and I also recorded a second and even more challenging episode that can be found over at my Substack. In this extra episode we cover how long we’ve got left (when will collapse occur?), how to cope when others are still consuming and distracting themselves away from the issue, how to raise kids in this knowledge, where to live in coming years… SHOW NOTESMeg references the poet David Whyte who has also been a guest on Wild You can purchase Who Do We Choose to Be? now and preorder Restoring Sanity (coming March 2024)Find out about her workshops and events hereOther Wild conversations with elders: Stephen Jenkinson, Sister Helen Prejean and Margaret Atwood If you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
121. AMA: How do you make your podcast?21:34This week’s question comes from long-time reader, frequent and generous commenter Kei Ikeda, but it’s one I’ve been asked a few times - What goes into producing Wild? My short answer would be: a lot of swirling self-doubt, over-analysis, faking-till-making and ad hoc recording set-ups. Here, I chat (on a cold Paris afternoon) about my recording equipment, how I contact guests, how the costs stack up, how the brand advertising and sponsorship works and more.I flagged a few previous episodes you might want to catch up on with Sheena Iyengar and Sister Helen Prejean.In 15 minutes (OK, 20 minutes) I don’t cover everything, so I invite you to ask me anything I missed in the comment section over on Substack. Also, I’ll start a thread on Sunday (again, over at Substack), as suggested by a bunch of you, where we can maybe thrash out a few ways to keep Wild going together. See you there.If you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram
120. ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: How to persuade people in a polarised world56:29Like many of us, Anand Giridharadas (American political commentator, bestselling author) despaired how the world had become stuck in a fractured suckhole and he could no longer convince people to change their hearts and minds to be kinder and better. So he went on a mission to find out how to persuade more effectively, resulting in his recent book The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy.In this chat, the former foreign correspondent and New York Times columnist argues this wild idea: Progressives working on issues like race equality and climate (and, um, an Indigenous Voice to parliament) need to give up on political purity and… persuade! This is not your usual “effective communications” thesis. We cover what we can learn from the Russian bot farms, A.O.C. and a cult deprogrammer. This episode comes at a critical time, as many of us are 1. feeling defeatist about progressive/humane discussion today, and 2. seeking techniques to equip us for being of service in a troubled world. SHOW NOTESGet hold of Anands’ book The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and DemocracyFollow Anand at his Substack The.InkIf you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" pageFor more such conversations subscribe to my Substack newsletter, it’s where I interact the most!Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious LifeLet’s connect on Instagram