“And on the days that I didn’t have any fun, my energy levels were down 22%. And I thought, ‘Wow! It’s important to go to the park and throw the frisbee around every once in a while.'” –Tony Wrighton on the neurological importance of fun
This week Commander Mark Divine talks to Tony Wrighton from the UK. Tony is a presenter on Sky Sports TV, and has also devoted himself to NLP or neurolinguistic programming as a sideline. He is the author of several books, including “Confidence in a Minute,” “Relax in a Minute,” and “Persuade in a Minute.” He is also the host of the podcast “Zestology.” He joins Mark and talks neurolinguistic programming and the importance of being able to using positive language to improve the mindset of both yourself and others. Learn about the importance of internal and external dialogue to keep yourself and other people in the right frame of mind.
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Transcript & Shownotes
Hey folks, Mark Divine from the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. Super-stoked to have you here with us on this crazy journey. Before I introduce today’s guest who I’m pretty stoked to be talking to, Tony Wrighton from the United Kingdom, please go rate us on iTunes. You know, for about a year that I did this podcast I didn’t ask, ’cause I didn’t know to ask. I’m kind of a caveman at this stuff, but my team finally said, “Hey, you know what, we better start rating.” So if you like what we’re doing go rate us so we can… when people search for Tim Ferris then Mark Divine shows up. And also get on our email list at unbeatablemind.com/podcasts.
So I’m totally stoked to have Tony on, I’ve just met Tony. Talked to him a little bit before signing on here. Tony is from the United Kingdom, so I asked him if, you know, the sun came up today because we’re right in the thick of the UK leaving the EU. He assured me that it did, so everything’s okay. Tony’s a host of a top-rated podcast called Zestology, he’s written several books, which I’m really interested in learning about. “Relax in a Minute“, “Persuade in a Minute“, and “Confidence in a Minute.” So clearly Tony gets a lot done in a minute. He works for Sky Sports network…
Tony Wrighton: (laughing) I do do some things in longer than a minute.
Mark: (laughing) Do you? That’s refreshing to hear. And also I’m really interested to talk to you about neurolinguistic programming. Tony’s an expert on that.
Tony, super glad to have you here. I know it’s late over there in the UK. I think you’re about nine hours ahead of us. But, how’re things going over there?
Tony: Mark, it’s great. Thank you so much for having me on. I’m a big fan of yours as well. So just thrilled to be on the show and to talk to you.
Politics and Brexit[2:24]
Mark: Cool. So UK pulled out of the EU in a minute and let’s start there. What the hell’s going on over there?
Tony: It’s just crazy. I mean politically it’s been the most seismic week in my life, I think. It’s funny, because often, you know, younger generations are accused of not caring about politics, but this is one of those ones where everyone’s got an opinion. I’m here in London where a majority of people wanted to stay in the European Union. So did I. And I have to say that, you know, people are very upset. And there’s no trying to change people’s minds either because you go up to someone and if they’ve made up their mind that they want to leave the EU, and you want to remain, you can’t change their mind, and an almighty argument will probably ensue, so people are feeling very passionate about it. Passions are running high as well. And personally I think it’s a sad state of affairs, what we’ve come up with, but there you go.
Mark: Yeah. It’s unfortunate that the EU couldn’t have evolved to meet the cultural needs of the member states, and I think that’s what… from my perspective the backlash is largely about that elitist, centralization and bureaucratic or technocratic arrogance which we saw coming out of Brussels, and not really giving any quarter when it came to the needs of the people. So the people, right… the people on the “leave” side of the camp are basically saying “Screw it, we’re not getting our needs met. This isn’t good for us.”
Tony: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of contentious claims… I mean, the principle claim of the campaign to leave the EU… they drove around in a bus saying, “If we leave, we’ll have 350 million pounds a week, which we’ll take back from the EU and we can spend on our health services.”
Mark: (laughing) Right.
Tony: Which sounds pretty good! 350 million pounds a week! And then the day after the vote, they were like, “Yeah, that might not happen.” So everyone’s like, “Really? That’s what we voted for.”
Mark: But wasn’t it about immigration and just autonomy? The ability to decide who you want in your country and who you don’t want? Isn’t that what the “Leave” camp was so passionate about?
Tony: Yeah, it’s funny because as a country, Great Britain has invaded most other countries in the world over the course of its lifetime.
Mark: (laughing) Good point.
Tony: Now we’re worried about immigrants coming here. So yeah, we’ve not got great form when it comes to invading and colonizing. I mean, the commonwealth was pretty massive. On a more serious note, you have to look at the history of… I love reading about history and also historical fiction… and when you look at the history of Europe, we’ve been pretty much at war with each other for the last one thousand years. From Caesar to Genghis Khan to the First and Second World Wars. And then you look at the last sixty or seventy years. We live in so much prosperity in Europe now. And it hasn’t all been peace, but in general terms, we have a very comfortable, safe life. And so I would be inclined to say, “let’s have more of that.”
Mark: I’m with you. And the notion of a united Europe that was working in harmony in an economic union and a political union was very very solid, and will continue to remain with some adjustments. This is just a huge wake-up call. ‘Cause it does seem unfathomable to slide back into just a hundred warring states. I just can’t imagine that.
Tony: Ugh. Tell me about it. It’s scary. You know, it’s interesting because you mentioned briefly NLP, earlier on, neurolinguistic programming, which is my background. And a lot of NLP focuses on language. How we express ourselves. How we communicate with ourselves and other people. And I kind of had a problem with the language of this campaign right off the start for two reasons.
Firstly, we were asked to vote between two choices: “Leave” and “Remain.” And I was saying to people when you’re really enthusiastic about something, you don’t “remain” you “stay:” Okay? You don’t “remain” at a party, you “stay” at a party. So that was kind of my first problem with the language of what we were voting for.
And the second this is, the term that everyone that everyone has used to describe what Britain is about to do is “Brexit.” Are you guys using that term over there as well? “Brexit.”
Mark: Yeah, it’s all over the place.
Tony: Now, it’s very hard not to think of something when you’re using the exact word for it. If you ask a three-year-old not to think of a blue elephant or not to blow on the straw in the milkshake, they’re going to do exactly that, right? And same with us, right, when you think of “Brexit” you have to think of “exit.” I don’t know what the equivalent would have been where Britain actually stays in the EU. “Brinit” would have been better.
Mark: Is Britain a collective term for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Tony: Yeah. And Wales. Exactly. And the United Kingdom, Great Britain, so it’s funny because we don’t necessarily identify with ourselves as British sometimes. Sometimes we might think of ourselves as English rather than British. And certainly England played Wales at football the other day and the country stopped. And you can guarantee that the Welsh do not want the English to do well at football, and vice versa, so it’s funny the divisions as well as kinda…
Mark: Yeah. I understand the Scottish went over to meet with the powers that be in the EU and they were shunned. Because Scotland’s like, “we wanted to stay in the union, so let’s talk.”
Tony: Oh Mark, you’re opening up a whole different can of worms there. Of course, we had a referendum a couple of years ago on whether Scotland should leave the country and be its own independent state, and they voted by 55% to 45% to stay. But now they’re saying, “Hang on, maybe we made the wrong decision there, and we should have another referendum.” So maybe the solution is not to have referendums.
Mark: If we were to take it from a thousand mile view, it seems like the forces of globalization have been mounting and pressing forward. Largely driven by technology, and by… embraced by the industrial age, technocratic class, which is basically… what are commonly called the “elite,” right? And so naturally anything that gets out of people’s control, there’s a backlash, and there’s a current kind of compensatory backlash which we’ll call “anti-globalization” and so what’s happening in the United States with Donald Trump’s popularity and what’s happening with Brexit are kind of like this backlash of anti-globalization saying, “Hey wait, it’s also important for us to maintain our cultural identity. We don’t want to be just one color, one language, one blah, flatland race. We really like being Scottish, English, and, you know, Texan. (laughing)
Tony: (laughing) And we want to stay that way.
Mark: (laughing) We want to stay that way. So there’s gotta be some middle ground, and I think that’s what’s happening, ultimately the middle ground is often fought for. And obviously the fear is over there, it’s going to go back to bloodshed to find a middle ground. My Unbeatable Mind tells me, “No, that’s not going to happen. We’re beyond that.” But I could be pretty ignorant and optimistic.
Tony: Well I hope you are. I hope your optimism proves to be founded. Certainly, I think that the thing is 52% voted for something that a lot of us here in London were very surprised about. But that the shows the level of disaffection and disillusionment, and perhaps abandonment in certain parts of this country, which has to be addressed as well, in terms of equality in this age of globalization.
Mark: And it also shows how we have kinda segregated ourselves into our little silos of information and people. And you don’t connect our intersect with this other group over there, so you have outright surprise that people don’t share the same view. That’s exactly what’s happening in the United States, why there’s so much vitriol against Donald Trump and just stunningness around his nomination for the Republican party. Because people on the other side don’t intersect at all with the people who are interested in Trump, because they’ve got their own social media channels and their own news outlets, and there’s so much differentiation, and so much information opportunity let’s call it, that people have kinda like segregated themselves into different camps that are not geographic boundaries. Although there are some, like you said London is a geographic boundary and people tend to concentrate there, as with New York and LA. But these boundaries are really founded by internet and information. Which has created a whole new way of separating people. Even though it was meant to drive… to make people connected. Isn’t that fascinating?
Tony: Yeah. It’s a good point. And let this be a lesson to everyone who’s worried about Trump in the US because you know, on the night of the results I was sitting in front of the TV. And no one thought the campaign to leave the European Union had enough traction and enough supporters to actually go through. And I watched the first result come through and I thought, “Hang on, that’s a little bit closer than what was expected.” And as the evening panned out, obviously the whole thing was closer than expected, and in the end was too close. And for all those who think, you know, “Trump might well be able to get the Republican nomination, but he can’t actually on the kinda main election.” I don’t know.
Mark: And people are saying that. That’s like you saying that Brexit could never happen. I happen to agree with you, I think they’re saying there’s about a 20% chance right now, and who knows what the heck would happen if he got in. But you never know.
Tony: I think there’s also an interesting thing around energy in terms of campaigns as well, and sometimes when somebody is popular or very unpopular and you might say that about Trump. The people who like Trump, love him, and the people who dislike him, really hate him, right? When there’s a lot of energy around one person it’s almost like the law of attraction manifests itself into that person winning the contest. And I feel like the last time that happened was George W. Bush. There was so much energy around this guy, positive and negative, that it was almost inevitable that he was dragged toward winning that race in the end. And I feel that happened with the Brexit campaign here, and I hope that doesn’t happen, personally speaking, we all hope it doesn’t happen with Trump in the UK.
Mark: Yeah, Obama got a standing ovation in Canada yesterday, and they were calling for four more years. (laughing)
Tony: (laughing) Tell me why that can’t happen. I’m still trying to work out why the American constitution doesn’t allow that.
Mark: (laughing) Well, it’s called Term Limits and we’re pretty happy about it, actually.
Tony: Oh really? Okay.
Mark: Yeah, the president’s limited to eight years, senate to six years… actually no, I don’t think that’s right. There’s no term limits in the congress and senate, although there should be. But there are with the presidency.
Tony: See in theory, we could have a prime minister for forty years if we wanted it here.
Mark: Yeah, but you guys last about 18 months, so I don’t think that’s an issue over there is it?
Tony: Well, yeah, it depends. Sometimes… Blair was over 10 years, and Thatcher was 12 years I think. But yeah, in general, it can be kind of short or long. But it’s much more set in stone. You get four years or eight years in America.
It’s a good political chat this. I’m enjoying this.
The Journey to NLP[14:24] Mark: No doubt. Well, you mentioned the energy of a candidate, and you said something about it to me what kind of led you to your current journey from being a TV guy to writing books and getting into NLP was your need for energy. Can you explain your journey? And kind of let us know Tony a little bit better?
Tony: Yeah, sure. So my kind of day job here in the UK is I’m a TV presenter on a sports channel called Sky Sports, and on the side of been writing books and doing the neurolinguistic programming for twelve years. And a few years ago I went on holiday to the jungle in Asia, to the Philippines. To a beautiful retreat in the middle of nowhere. Nothing more to worry about in the morning than the birds chirping outside one’s log cabin, and whether to do a little bit of yoga or pilates or just chill and soak up the sunshine. Fabulous place just to retreat.
Mark: I think I patrolled by that place when I was in the SEAL teams.
Tony: (laughing) Really?
Mark: (laughing) I spent six months in the Philippines but it was not sipping Mai Tais on a beach.
Tony: Yeah. Well, I mean, you know about what beautiful scenery it is, right?
Mark: Oh yeah, mm-hmm.
Tony: And if you’re not patrolling, which is, by the way, my idea of hell, but if you’re not doing that, if you’re sitting with a Mai Tai it’s a nice place. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. I woke up one morning and I had some pretty heavy symptoms. I had numb patches on my face. I felt completely tired and wacked out. I had a rash on my leg. The first thing is when you get numb patches on your face, you get tested for some pretty serious neurological complaints. And thankfully, I didn’t have that, but I had contracted some kind of tropical virus. I flew straight home, middle of holiday, flew home and went to the doctor. And he said, “Yeah, you’ve got a tropical virus.” And I kinda clapped my hands and said, “Great. What is it?” And they said, “We’re not really sure.”
Mark: (laughing) It’s a tropical virus. We just told you.
Tony: But also, this is another thing that you might know about from having spent time in time in Asia. Turns out there’s a lot of diseases and viruses especially in the more exotic parts of the world, that modern medicine just hasn’t discovered yet.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. I had a friend who passed away from one of them, he contracted down in Panama. It was really sad. And they just had no idea what it was. It just tore him up.
Tony: My goodness. And that makes me feel so lucky by comparison. So they never did know. I wound up having three months off work. Spending the time in bed, feeling very sorry for myself. Couldn’t really even walk down the street. And then after three months I started going back to my job at Sky, who were fantastic and held open the job, and said, “You know, take as long as you need.” But I started kinda going one day a week, and then two days a week, and just taking it very gently. And at my kind of darkest hour I thought, “well, if I do get back to full fitness, it’d be great to combine the skills of NLP and the stuff I did before, with a podcast that just looks at energy. Because I don’t have any of it at the moment. And having spent a lot of time consulting Doctor Google, I know how many other people are out there in the same boat as me, who would also appreciate some help and advice on this.
Mark: So did you recover from it? Or do you just have to manage it still?
Tony: Yeah, I did. And life is different now. I live a much healthier life. I’ve been fascinated listening to you talk about yoga because yoga’s been a big part of my journey of recovery actually. And just damping down the sympathetic nervous system. And chill out a lot more, or chillaxing as we say here in the UK. It doesn’t come very naturally to me, I’m probably a type A high-achiever, and I don’t always think that’s very helpful for me. I don’t necessarily class that as successful a lot of the time. ‘Cause my instinct is to carry on working and doing more and creating and achieving when I should just be doing less and relaxing so… Yeah, yoga’s been a definite part of the journey. And now, yeah, life is different, but, feeling good, yeah.
Mark: That’s awesome. I wanna come back to yoga, and language and your books.But I think it would be useful to talk about neurolinguistic programming. I first heard that term in a Tony Robbins book, I think, something like “Unlimited Power” or “Awaken the Giant.” I read it when I was like twenty-four something like that. And I never really got it. And then later on when I started to do… well I was always doing visualization and working on my internal dialogue, but I never really got the eye movement thing, and I wasn’t clear on what NLP was. And it seemed like a catchall for things that I was already doing. But I could be wrong. So help us understand, what is neurolinguistic programming?
Tony: Yeah. It’s funny that you mentioned the eye movement thing, we can come back to that in a sec.
Mark: Remember he had a little chart with all the different eye movements?
Tony: Okay, so I might as well start with that then. So basically NLP is the study of how we do things well and it’s a study of communication skills, and how you manage your moods, and how you communicate better with other people and yourselves. And one of the things that the guys who invented NLP worked out is that you could–generally speaking, but not always–when you look at where someone’s eyes move, you can tell whether they’re telling the truth or lying. And it’s a good place to start. And when I first learned this stuff, I was going out with this girl who, she… there was some kind of lie that she told me about bought a bottle wine to bring round to my house, but then she’d lost the bottle of wine on the way. A tiny little lie that really didn’t mean much. I’d just learned this stuff, I was like, “Are you lying? Because I think you are.” And she was like, “Yeah, yeah, I am. Sorry.” You know. So I was like, “Wow. Maybe this stuff works.”
So the idea is that when you look at someone, if they look to the right when they’re talking to you, then they are telling the truth. They are remembering something. So you can remember it this way: right and remembered. And if they look to the left, then they’re constructing something, okay? So if they look upwards and to the left, they’re constructing something visual, if they look upwards and the side, they’re constructing something auditory. And if you’re looking downwards, you’re accessing feelings and thoughts. So that’s the basic premise. It works for about 90% of people around 90% of the time. So it’s not… It’s not something I use one a day-to-day basis, but it’s always something that people are interested. “Oh, I can find out if my partner’s lying to me. Tell me more about that!”
Mark: (laughing) That’s why in the SEALs we developed the thousand mile stare, so that if we ever had to do a polygraph…
Tony: Now what’s the thousand mile stare?
Mark: Well, it’s just an ability to maintain a really focused state without shifting your eyes anywhere. And interestingly enough, what people don’t realize about the thousand mile stare–it’s not taught it’s just something that spec ops guys develop–is that your eyes can shift very quickly between focused and relaxed gaze. So focused is like I’m staring intently at you, like a laser beam. And relaxed is my pupils kind of dilate, and I go broad. Almost like using peripheral vision at night. And so you tend to be able to take in a lot of information but be able to focus on the right information at the right time.
Tony: Is there also an element of when you’re in a conflict situation, to be able to kind of project an image of inscrutability?
Tony: Is there a case of that?
Mark: Well, I think that’s either an outcome, or it’s part of this notion of you’re absorbing so much information and you’re able to focus. And you’re clear and of course, all the skills come into this. And you’re breathing, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system that you’re in control, and you tend to project leadership, control, power.
Tony: And then you start to feel it as well.
Mark: And then… of course.
Tony: That’s classic NLP.
Mark: The neurophysiology comes in as you start to feel it, believe it. And when you practice these skills, you begin to feel a little bit indomitable, because you are in a sense. You’re not, of course, but it helps to feel that way when you’re going into a room with a hail of bullets coming at you, you know what I mean?
Tony: Absolutely! And certainly in NLP terms… you know it’s called neurolinguistic programming, but a better title… If it had been invented now it might have been called neuro-hacking. People would understand it a little bit better. And that’s exactly the same kind of thing. You mentioned my first book was “Confidence in a minute,” and we say you know, the great thing about confidence is, you can fake it and the start to feel it as well as projecting it, so the other people will think that you’re feeling it too. And I told you that I was into reading historical fiction about Europe. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to books. But I’ve read quite a few books about Genghis Khan, and they adopted what they call “The Cold Face.” So the Mongol warriors would show… they’d be delivered news of great importance and great national tragedy, and they would adopt “The Cold Face.”
Mark: I love that.
Tony: Which sounds pretty similar to what you guys are doing a thousand years later.
Mark: Yeah, showing no emotion and just… Doesn’t mean you’re not feeling it, but you don’t want to project it. Other tells, just like in a poker match. Interesting note, one of the other things that I understood, and that we practice with regard to NLP, although we didn’t call it that in the SEAL teams, was to find the shortest arc in a practical skill like shooting… we call it the “shortest arc to success.” And so to minimize or to eliminate all the unnecessary movements and to practice that one…those one or two critical actions that if done well over and over and over–those are going to lead to a much higher rate of success. And this is how we ended breaking down teaching someone to shoot in a very short period of time with a high degree of effectiveness.
Tony: And sometimes NLP is defined as studying how people do things well, or doing what works. And there’s a great set of skills within NLP to be able to quite quickly work out how someone does something well, learning the best bits from what they do, and applying that to the skill that you want to learn. Which is something that I often learn on my show.
Language and NLP[25:43]
Mark: So let’s talk about language. You mentioned earlier how important language is when we’re talking about Brexit, and, you know, the imprinting and the energy of language, so can you tell us a little bit more about that? Is that part of what you write about in your “Persuade in a minute” and your “Confidence in Minute” book?
Tony: Yeah, it is. I mean I write about writing beautifully persuasive emails, and raising more for charity, and… yeah, that’s a large part of it. And as I said before, I mean in very simple terms, if someone thinks, “Meh. You can’t just focus on language to be more persuasive.” Think about that expression, “Don’t think of a blue elephant.” You have to think about a blue elephant not to think about it. And in the same terms, when someone you know is concerned or unhappy about something, to say “Don’t worry” is quite counter-productive. Because they will have to think about worrying before they think not to worry. So to try and frame your advice or your positive encouragement in a positive phrase can be massively more helpful.
Mark: So the other half of that is accurate. “Don’t worry, be happy.” They shoulda just said, “Be happy.”
Tony: Yeah, exactly. Mind you someone might just say back to you, “I’m not feeling happy so shut up.”
Mark: Yup. Interesting.
Tony: There’s a lot of I mean… you know… asking someone… I mean another example if you’re a father or a mother and you want your child to tidy their room, you could just say, “Will you tidy your room?” And they might say yes or no.
Or you could give them an option of, “Do you want to tidy your room before dinner or after dinner?” And immediately your kind of presupposing that the answer is going to be one of those two things. So really, you’re presupposing that the answer is going to be “yes” of some description. And so little things like that, we just work at changing our language and making ourselves more persuasive and it’s good fun.
Mark: Yeah, I use that with my sixteen-year-old all the time. And it’s straight from a parenting class we took twelve years ago.
Tony: Oh really? They taught you that? That’s pretty cool.
Mark: Oh yeah. Absolutely. And just the law of contrasts there so you just make sure that the one that you want them to… to steer them toward is the more attractive option.
Tony: Yeah, there’s so many nice ones. There’s another one called “Yes, dad,” Whereby you get someone to agree with two or three statements that are almost incontrovertibly true, and then the last one isn’t a statement, but it’s a question mark. So it might be something like, “Oh it was so sunny today, wasn’t it?” and the answer’d be, “Yeah.” “And that event we went to was packed out with people.” “Yeah.” “And it was great you stayed until 8 o’clock.” “Yeah.” And then you say, “Did you have a good time?” And they’re in that “yes-set” so they’re saying yes again and again, and they’re more likely to say “yes.” It’s funny, if I’m speaking to someone in customer services or something, I don’t want to ask them a question to which the answers are going to be “no” initially, because I have noticed that when I ask them the big request, the answer’s more likely to be “no.” It’s fascinating, how we get into a habit… it’s almost like as human beings we adopt mechanisms for survival, which means we get into a habit of saying yes or no on a continual basis. So that’s what I call “Yes, man,” which was inspired by the Jim Carrey movie. But it’s really a “yes-set.” You ask lots of questions to which the answer is yes, and then you put a statement at the end to which you also want them to say yes.
Mark: Right. And the power of language is related to the power of positive thinking, right? Norman Vincent Peale and Napoleon Hill, and all those early advocates of it. In fact, I wrote a little bit of a blog post about it, triggered by a book I read called “One Simple Idea,” which was how this whole idea of positive thinking and positive mindset is… this guy the author, calls it “The American Creed.” It’s pretty interesting.
So that’s internal dialogue, and what you’re suggesting is that the internal dialogue and the external dialogue are both important. That makes sense. And my question to you, since you’ve spent so much time thinking about this stuff, is there research to validate that both internal and external languaging have an impact? Or is it just a, you know, subjective theory here still?
Tony: Then you’re moving into hypnosis a bit more. And I think there’s been absolutely loads of studies on hypnosis. And hypnosis is a large part of what we do with NLP, and personally speaking, the first content that I started to produce once I got into NLP was I worked at a radio station at the time. And I was like, “Oooh, I could come in in the evening. I could use the radio station studio to record audiobooks.” So I started recording audiobooks and selling them on iTunes and funnily enough, those were actually more popular than the books, because people like listening to stuff, and put a bit of hypnotic language in there as well, and even use some hypnosis. If you do it right, it’s very effective.
There’s been a lot of studies on hypnosis and I’m presuming, with your background, you probably used quite a bit of hypnosis didn’t you?
Mark: I don’t know. I’ve never been trained in hypnosis.
Tony: No? But I feel like there’s so much around mindset when you’re a Navy SEAL. You know? You’ve got to have the right mindset. So what kind of psychological techniques do they work on at that kind of deep, unconscious level?
Mark: Yeah, it’s a good question. You know, I never felt like I was hypnotized by my BUDS instructors. It was actually quite the opposite. I was terrorized. But I think to make the distinction again between internal and external. The internal… let me talk about the big four skills that I teach as a practice. You know, the breath control helps us calm the body, mind, system, which then allows you to have the internal space to mentally take control of your dialogue. And in that mental space, say a mantra. So my positive mantra was “feeling good, looking good, oughta be in Hollywood.” And I would say it over and over and over while doing some other kinda routine task. Routine for us was running fifteen miles, or swimming five miles or something like that. And so I knew how to swim, I didn’t need to like, perform complex algorithms in my mind. I could literally like just kick stroke and glide and say over and over “I’m feeling good, looking good, oughta be in Hollywood.” And kinda visualized myself relaxed and getting it done.
So those are three of the skills: Breath, Positive Internal dialogue, and Imagery. And then the fourth is just micro-tasks, micro-goals, so I’d be like, “I’m just going to do this for a hundred strokes, and then I’ll see where I’m at.” And then when I get to a hundred, I’m like, “Okay, that was good. Now I’m gonna do it for another hundred.”
At any rate, that is like hypnotizing myself.
Tony: It totally is.
Mark: And then what happens is time starts to change and shift…
Tony: Were you saying that stuff out loud or to yourself?
Mark: No, to myself.
Tony: You’d look pretty weird if anyone had seen you do it out loud.
Mark: Well, in the ocean only the sharks would be hearing me anyways, and I didn’t want to alert them to my presence, so it was more of an internal thing. But I kept that practice up, and what I found is, it was extraordinarily powerful in many different settings to really just reset your internal state. And I imagine that… and we use it as a language in our SEALfit programs, meaning we language like that to get other people to do it internally. ‘Cause you want it to be an owned skill. We’re not talking about manipulation here, or hypnotizing people, we want people to take control of their own lives.
Tony: Absolutely. But the definition of a “trance” is any altered state. And you know, whether you call it “meditation,” or “trance” or “prayer” or “yoga,” any altered state is the same thing. And when that happens the unconscious mind can start to open up, and change the way it thinks at a deep unconscious level. And that’s exactly what you were doing, by going into that kind of trance state. And when you combine it with breath-work it’s even more powerful.
Mark: No doubt. So, some tips from your “Relax in a Minute” book. Any ideas? What could you share some of your thoughts on how to relax? ‘Cause people are really stressed out these days. They’ve got too many commitments, and I recommend doing yoga. But even that can stress people out. Just thinking about going to an hour-long yoga class.
Tony: Yeah, that’s true. One of the things that just sprung to mind when you were talking about your mantra that you were repeating when you were rowing. And only the sharks heard you. That goes back… that’s really an affirmation, right? So you were repeating an affirmation over and over again. And the first person to look into affirmations was a crazy eighteenth-century French professor called Émile Coué who worked in a mental hospital. And he encouraged all his patients to walk around the grounds and say out loud, “Every day, in every way, I’m feeling better and better.” And that’s… it’s actually very similar to what you were doing. And it worked out that affirmations could work even better at an unconscious level when you switch off and think about something else. These guys were walking around, you were rowing, but unfortunately in the 21st century in London or in America, if you walk down the street saying, “Everyday, in every way, I’m feeling better and better,” people are going to look at you like you really are a bit weird.
Mark: It’s true.
Tony: And so I kind of adapted this process to help with relaxation or motivation or whatever you want to do, to another process which we start off using consciously, but then we use unconscious. And my idea is that you change all your passwords to affirmations. So you want to feel more relaxed, you might write… your password might be “meditate2016” which reminds you to meditate every day. Or it might be just as simple as “iamrelaxed.”
Mark: Or it might be “stayintheunion.”
Tony: It might well be. It won’t be “leavetheunion” that’s for certain. But the idea is, once you start changing all your passwords, you’re thinking about it at a conscious level, right, so you’re thinking, “I know that meditation is a goal for this year, and I know that I want to do more meditation or more of Mark’s yoga course,” or whatever it might be. And then after a while… you know what it’s like with passwords, after a while you type it in unconsciously… your fingers just go to the right place on the keyboard, and you just type it in. And it barely registers, consciously. But at the unconscious level, you’re still registering it. So that’s kind of using the skills of NLP and hypnosis, and conscious/unconscious mind to start encouraging you to use the practices more often that help you to be more relaxed, which I just think is kind of awesome tinkering with the way that our brain works. It’s good neuro-hacking if you like.
Mark: Neuro-hacking. Yeah, I love that. Have you looked into nootropics at all, and trying to do some actual hacking with supplementation?
Tony: Yeah, well I am a massive supplement taker and hacker, but in terms of nootropics, not really. Because I like to take the natural stuff. So I’ve not got involved at all with substances that aren’t natural.
Mark: Yeah, but there’s a whole new class of natural nootropics coming on the market, and you haven’t seen any of those, have you?
Tony: No I haven’t. And I’d be very interested in that.
Mark: Yeah, let’s take that up at a future point. I just met with some guys yesterday that have a fascinating product called “Qualia” and the ingredients are quite stunning. You could Google it, but…
Tony: Sounds like something I saw in the “Wolf of Wall Street.” Or was that Quaaludes?
Mark: (laughing) That was quaaludes.
Tony: (laughing) That didn’t work out so well for him.
Mark: The name might be a little suspect, though it actually comes from the root of “quality.”
Tony: It sounds amazing. I want to try that stuff.
Mark: That word “quality” is awesome, because essentially when we’re talking about states of experience, we’re talking about quality. You remember Pirsig’s book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“?
Tony: No, I’ve heard about it. I’ve never read it.
Mark: Oh, you should pick that up. It’s just such a classic. And this guy goes on this motorcycle tour with his son who has a mental disease. It turns out they both kind of have this issue, cause it’s hereditary. And it’s about this fascinating journey into Zen and states of mind, and he kind of talks about the word “quality” as being the razor-edge of experience like a train just hurtling down… let’s say you’re the train, you’re hurtling down a track. And you’re experience is that bleeding edge where the air is just cascading off the front of the train. That’s “quality.” So the notion of the quality of your life isn’t so much as, “Hey I’ve got a nice car, and I live in the suburbs. I’m married and I’ve got whatever… a white picket fence.” It is what is that experience at the razor-edge of awareness in the present moment as you hurtle through this thing called life. And the idea of nootropics I guess, is that you can sharpen that experience by improving the synaptical interfaces and the internal quality of what’s going on at a neurobiological level.
Tony: It is fascinating. And that’s why I love doing these podcasts, and I love broadcasting here in the UK, because when you’re live broadcasting, you’ve gotta be right at the top of your game, and it kind of yanks you firmly into the present. Which actually–in this day and age–I heard you talking on another podcast about how there’s so many things that kind of drag us away from the present moment. And particularly in terms of the technology. They’re designed to be as distracting and amazingly distorting of our reality as possible. So anything that gets you back into the present… and if there’s a supplement that can help to sharpen your focus, that’s great. You mentioned research earlier in this podcast. It’s always nice when there’s a bit of long-term research, and most of these nootropics don’t tend to have any long-term research. That’s not to say… I’m not against it, but I like to take my time before plunging into these different…
Mark: I agree. For me, I’m a little bit more of an experimenter. Not with anything synthetic, obviously, I’ve never done anything like that. But with supplementations trying new things. And I know that there’s some things, Tony, that science can’t study, right? It’s like the effect of visualization or the effect of affirmations. How are you going to study that? With a device? It’s impossible.
Tony: And sometimes it’s not worth trying to prove everything with science. Because there are some things that, as you say, you simply can’t explain, but they make you feel good. I mean, you can’t… you can probably try to research love. But you can’t rationalize it, can you? And that’s the most important thing of all.
Mark: Good point. I mean, everyone would want to love if there was a scientific experiment that said it was good for you.
Tony: (laughing) That’s true, that’s true.
Mark: Fascinating. All right, so tell me… gotta wind up here pretty soon, but tell me what… you mentioned yoga. What are your rituals and routines to maintain your presence and to maintain health and optimism and a positive momentum in life.
Tony: Well one of them is–we mentioned technology, and one of the things is that I track a lot. So I keep spreadsheets and track stuff absolutely that I’ve done, in terms of what behavior I’ve done on a certain day. But then subjective things like what was my energy level out of ten on that day?
Mark: It’s like quantitative self-type tracking?
Tony: Exactly. Quantified self. And it comes up with some fascinating results. Unfortunately, I’m not very good with numbers so I’ve got these big, long spreadsheets full of numbers and I don’t know how to analyze them. I’ve got to pay someone to take them away and find the results.
Mark: (laughing) Dave Asprey will analyze them for you.
Tony: (laughing) Yeah, I know. Unfortunately, his hourly rate is a little high for me. Anyway, we came up with some fascinating results. And one of the things I do on a day to day basis is I switch all technology off for at least two hours. And I just try to get back to the things that I love doing. ‘Cause let’s face it, most of our favorite things in this world don’t involve technology. So I started tracking for how many hours a day I’d switch my phone off and my technology off, and what impact that had on my energy levels. And I found out that, on the days that I switched off for more than two hours, my energy levels were up significantly. On the days I switched off for more than eight hours my energy levels were up 20%. Now obviously, it’s not practical for most of us, most of the time, to switch technology off for eight hours. But just think, when you do, you might–I do–have 20% more energy on a particular day. That’s enough encouragement for me to switch off as much as possible, wherever possible.
Mark: Right. And when you say switch off technology does that include your laptop if you’re working on a project or something like that?
Tony: Yeah. The… I class it as connectivity. So anything that’s connected. Because that’s my weakness. If I open up Facebook to check a quick message, half and hour later I’m down the rabbit hole looking at pictures of my friend’s best friend’s mother’s son’s dog. And why am I doing this, you know? So I class it as connectivity. And you know, getting back to kind of all the primal stuff that we like to do. So that’s something that the tracking has shown me the impact on my energy levels.
Tony: And, obviously, you just mentioned yoga a few moments ago. I’ve tracked yoga and the impact that had on my energy levels as well. And my… on the days that I do yoga, my energy levels are up about 5.1%. So it’s great you actually get the stats and the facts to say, “okay, on those days my energy level is improved.”
There was one thing, by the way, when I didn’t do it on a particular day, in a decrease in my energy levels of 22% I think. Can you think what that might be?
Mark: Umm, Brexit day.
Tony: (laughing) Pretty much. I tell you what it is, I tracked how much fun I had on a particular day. And the reason I did this is because I read this book called “Play” by Charlie Hoehn. And he talks about the importance of getting back to a sense of fun and adventure and playing every day. And on the days that I didn’t have any fun, my energy levels were down 22%. And I thought, “Wow! It’s important to go to the park and throw the frisbee around every once in a while.” So that was interesting to me as well, just in terms of the way that a lot of us live is get up, go to work, grind, come home, eat dinner, watch TV. But not prioritize having fun. So that’s what started to do more after looking at those results. Which I paid a fortune for by the way.
Mark: (laughing) Exactly. That’s awesome. And I totally concur with that statistically relevant study that you did on yourself. In fact, one of the things… I naturally came to this conclusion about Facebook several years ago. I literally just canned it. I don’t use it at all.
My company uses it. They’ve hijacked my account. I have like a lot of followers.
Tony: I was going to say… you’re growing very quickly, your podcast and your company and Facebook is a part of that, right?
Mark: It is. I send quotes to someone that I want posted, and someone will ask a question that I can only answer. But I’ll respond to someone and one of my staff will… I’ll tell them what to say, or I’ll respond to them in an email. But I refuse to login to it unless it’s really important and I have to. Because it’s just something I don’t want to turn into a habit. I don’t want it to be part of my daily life. I remember I was on Dave Asprey’s podcast, we’ve mentioned him a couple of times, Bulletproof Exec. And he was doing something called Snapchat, testing it out. And he’s like, “Are you on Snapchat?” And I’m like, “No! I don’t intend to get on Snapchat.” I’m sorry, you know what I mean? I’ve got enough things going on, and I try like you to… I’m working hard to limit my contact with my iPhone, my iEverything. And really just using that when I need to.
And the other thing that really is powerful and this is something I try to teach in Unbeatable Mind is to make your work play, right? And if you can really align and find passion in what you’re doing. And lighten up your attitude and have more of a “one day, one lifetime,” approach to things, then every moment should… except for crises and dealing with serious situations… every moment can be playful. I learned that from my martial arts.
Tony: Yeah. But you see when I think of Navy SEALs, I think of totally taking things so seriously there’s no room for fun.
Mark: That’s not true. When you’re on a mission, it’s all serious. But even, if you’re not getting shot at, there’s a lot of play. And a lightness about it. The more evolved you are as a technician and the more you master the skills of being a SEAL, and this is true in any domain, the lighter you can be. ‘Cause you can let go of your mind clinching to remember the skills, clinching fear over not being able to perform properly, so you just relax. You end up going into that flow state. And in that flow-state, playfulness and lightness of attitude, spontaneous joy, and spontaneous laughter are present all the time. This is something, like, my first example of this was the grand master I studied karate with. And here is this deadly serious, forty year tenth-degree black belt. The typical movies of these guys are these really serious ass-kickers. And he would routinely giggle like a schoolboy in the middle of class, and it was just so, so cool.
Tony: That’s awesome. That’s absolutely great.
Mark: So take the fun with you wherever you go.
Tony: Take the fun with you. That’s what’s important. And as you said, the more that you become comfortable… It’s the same with podcasting. The more you become comfortable with the skills, then you can start to focus on creativity, having fun with it. But also in terms of going in-depth with a guest and getting the best out of them. And the more that you do it, the better that you get at it. So, I mean, you should do another podcast in a year’s time. It’d be way better than this one. (laughing)
Mark: (laughing) Of course, yeah. And we’ll have said our affirmations a hundred million more times.
Tony: Yeah, we could just do a podcast of saying affirmations.
Mark: That would be interesting. All right. Enough on this, Tony. Where can folks…? Obviously, your books are they on Amazon?
Tony: Yeah, books on Amazon and the podcast is on iTunes, Spotify everywhere else. It’s called “Zestology.” And we focus on energy, vitality, and motivation. Thanks so much, Mark. It’s been great to chat to you, I’ve really enjoyed it. And I’ve learned lots myself. I’m gonna go and look up “Qualia” now. Qualia?
Mark: Qualia, yeah. I don’t know if you can… they’re just coming into the market, they’re doing early tests, so I’m not sure you can purchase. But it’d be very interesting for you to just check out… because they’ve got detailed information on the product, and they’re very open about what they put in it. They’re kind of… they’re coming at this from, “Hey we need to upgrade human consciousness. It’s on us all now to be part of the solution, because the challenges facing humanity are extreme and it’s gonna require an all hands effort to solve them.”
Tony: So they’re not just saying, “Let’s get high.”
Mark: No. Not at all.
Tony: That’s cool. I’m looking forward to looking at… I know there are certain natural supplements that do improve my focus and my concentration. And I can just tell on a day to day basis some days I’m just way better than others. So yeah, supplementation that can help with that, that is designed for that, sounds pretty good.
Mark: Yeah, no doubt. Okay, Tony. Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to watching what happens with the UK and the EU and Scotland and Ireland and… hah!
Tony: Yeah. It’s pretty depressing. But listen, Mark, you’re going to come on my podcast soon as well, yeah?
Mark: Awesome. Yeah, I look forward to that.
Tony: Brilliant. I’d love that. Thanks so much. Brilliant.
Mark: Take care, buddy.
Tony: Okay, take care.
Mark: Okay folks. You heard it. Tony Wrighton. That was awesome. What a neat guy. I think I’m going to have to go over to London and check things out and to go on your podcast Tony, what do you think?
Tony: Definitely! You’re welcome! Come over. We can put the campaign for coming back into the EU.
Mark: (laughing) That’s funny. All right. Take care. All right folks, thank you very much for paying attention. Once again, go rate the podcast if you like what you hear so other folks can find it. And as usual, train hard, do your rituals, stay focused, have fun–bring the fun with you, carry it with you wherever you go–and smile.
Commander Divine out.