"Unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system."
Dr Bernie Siegel
Few books have made as profound an impact on my life as much as Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, as that one book quite possibly saved my life (literally). You’ll hear why that is today on the podcast, as I had the opportunity to engage in a highly anticipated conversation with the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Kamal Ravikant.
Most importantly, you’re about to discover why loving yourself – actively and unconditionally – may be one of the most important things you can do, if not the single most important thing. Few understand this as well as Kamal. After his company in Silicon Valley collapsed and the love of his life left him, he fell into a deep depression.
With his ego destroyed and his heartbroken, he made a vow to love himself, then set out to do it – and this work changed his life. He shared his journey in a short self-published book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
Almost half a million copies later, he joins the podcast to share how to take self-love from an empty-seeming platitude into a meaningful daily practice that has the power to transform your life in ways you may not even be able to imagine, as it has transformed mine.
- Kamal’s formula for loving yourself – and how to make self-love something you have complete control over.
- Why loving yourself isn’t a one-time thing, but has to be a daily practice – and how to integrate it into your life.
- Hacks Kamal uses to reinforce positive mental loops, meditate effectively, and find motivation when he needs it the most.
- What Kamal learned from readers by putting his email address at the end of the original edition of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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Hal Elrod: All right, goal achievers, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. And this is your friend and your host, Hal Elrod. I mentioned to you a few months back, I was talking about possibly changing the name of the podcast from Achieve Your Goals to something that just resonates with who I am and kind of what I’m up to now and this podcast started as Achieve Your Goals in 2012, I think, as we launched but what I’ve been leaning toward is this podcast, I’m calling it What Matters Most? And what’s interesting is I never pulled the trigger. We didn’t change the name of the podcast, so it’s still the Achieve Your Goals podcast but this is really where my heart is, is really bringing you conversations and ideas and strategies and things around what matters most and really discovering what that means for you.
And the reason I share that is because when I was thinking I would be renaming the podcast What Matters Most? into the new year, the first conversation that I was planning on having with the new name was with my guest today because I truly believe that what we’re about to talk about and what his life has kind of really become, his area of expertise, if you will, I believe is one of if not the fundamental answer to the question, what matters most? And in one word, that is love. That is love. So, Kamal, my friend, you there?
Kamal Ravikant: What a great intro, man. Thanks. I’m happy to be here. And by the way, I love that name, What Matters Most? That’s brilliant.
Hal Elrod: Well, and what’s stopped me is there’s two other podcasts named What Matters Most. And so, my producer is like I’m going to create confusion, yada, yada. I’m like, “Well, mine has a question mark at the end though because I’m not telling people I know what matters most. I’m offering you a question.” He goes, “Yeah…” So, that’s why I never pulled the trigger but…
Kamal Ravikant: Good call.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, here’s where I’d love to start. I would love to start by recapping for everybody listening how you and I met because I’ve told this story a ton of times. I just thought it was a really special moment. So, you up for my vague recap here?
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah, go for it. I’m interested.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And then, by the way, my memory is not necessarily my strong suit so I’ll give you space at the end of it like, “No, no, Hal, this is what actually happened and this is what you said or I said.” Yeah. So, I was on a tour for The Miracle Equation for my new book at the time early last year and I walked in my last leg, last interview on the tour was with our mutual friend, James Altucher for the James Altucher Show, and I went to New York City, walked into his studio and James was not there but there was a gentleman with silvery gray hair and that was you, Kamal, and I thought you were James’ audio engineer, right? I see all this audio equipment, right? And you said something I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of, “Hal, your book, The Miracle Morning, changed my life. It’s one of my favorite books. It’s one that I’ve gifted other people the most.” Again, I thought you were James’s audio engineer and I was touched. I said, “Thank you so much. I’m so grateful that it had the impact,” and then you said something along the lines of like it influenced one of your latest books. And I go, “Oh, you’re an author as well,” and you said, “Yeah.” I said, “What are you best known for?” You said, “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It,” and I just got the chills. You know, we’re standing in the studio and I don’t know if I spoke first, Kamal, maybe you remember or I collapsed on you with a hug.
Kamal Ravikant: I think you were a hugger then.
Hal Elrod: I think I just collapsed with a hug and I think it was like we were cheek-to-cheek and I think I said this like close in your ear and I’m like, “Dude, your book changed my life.” And I thought it was just such a cool moment that I didn’t even know who you were at that time. I hadn’t seen your face. I just read your book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. And I just I hugged you and it was, yeah, and if you weren’t the Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It guy, you might have been like, “Dude, whoa, whoa, you’re moving a little fast, Hal.”
Kamal Ravikant: It was absolutely beautiful, man. It was absolutely beautiful. Yeah, I actually came in that day, because I found out from James’s producer that he was going to be on. I was like, “I want to listen. I want to meet the guy in person,” because look, your book, The Miracle Morning, remember when I read it? So, I’ve spent a long time training myself as a writer and one thing you can’t teach people and it takes a long time as a writer is to learn how to do voice, how to get sincerity across. Most books don’t have that, honestly, and your book was nothing but sincerity. It was like this guy’s shouting from the rooftops which is kind of like what I did with Love Yourself. I recognized it and it was special. Just pure sincerity just sharing your thing, man, and not holding back. And I remember I was in awe when I read it. It is a transformative book. It’s a simple transformative book. There’s no surprise about its success. And so like, when I found out that you were going to be there, I was like, “Oh, I got to come and listen to this guy. I want to see what he’s like in person,” and you were even better.
Hal Elrod: Awesome. Well, thank you, man. Yeah, but that moment for me it was just a special moment. It was funny just because I really collapsed on you with a hug, like my body just reacted. My soul was like, “You’re Kamal Ravikant? What?!” Yeah, man, I’ll never forget that moment. So, I want to talk about the new version of the book, the new book, the updated version of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It and when I bring folks on, typically, we’ll mention that they have a book at the end or something along those lines, but this is one of the fundamental books that has impacted my life. And so, I have no problem, unabashedly saying, this is one of the best books you could ever read. I was showing you via video like I’ve underlined this book. I’ve read your original. In fact, let’s clear that up real quick. So, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, the original version you self-published when?
Kamal Ravikant: In 2012. In summer of 2012.
Hal Elrod: Okay. So, yeah, so I published…
Kamal Ravikant: 9,000 words or 7,000 words. That’s it.
Hal Elrod: That was 7,000 words.
Kamal Ravikant: That’s it, man.
Hal Elrod: Wow. And for anybody listening that doesn’t gauge like Miracle Morning, which is a relatively short book is 42,000 words. So, 7,000 words. I probably recommended your book as similar to what you have, but more than any other book and I always tell people, you know, this is like you can read the whole thing in an hour and it will radically change your paradigm around how you view yourself and how you view your life. So, 2012 originally published 7,000 words, and then it just published I think yesterday, right, the new version? And then how would you describe the new version? First of all, how many words is it and then how would you describe it?
Kamal Ravikant: This is about 36,000 words.
Hal Elrod: Okay. So, still pretty brief.
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. Four times is big. You know, I’m obsessive about the written word so I go through and remove every unnecessary word. And this one, the difference is and why put out a second version because the first version did so well, and continue to do well, it was because I did something that I don’t think a lot of authors did at the time, I put my email address at the back of the book. I wasn’t expecting to sell many copies of the original book. So, I wasn’t expecting emails. Dude, the amount of emails I’ve gotten in seven years, like, I don’t know, thousands, tens of thousands plus like tweets and messages and all this. And so, I got to see the impact this book had on people’s lives. You know, it literally saved lives. I met people in person because I was like, I need to confirm this. They emailed me like, “Yeah. I had a gun in my lap and somehow like I was reading a book because I was in Amazon. I was like last chance to like googling something. I came across your book, read it, and I put the gun away.”
And I’ve met a few people with different variations of this story. So, the book worked but here’s the thing. I also got a lot of questions, a lot of questions. I realized, look, I gave the basics, I gave the primer, but I didn’t go deep. And if you want to create true lasting change, the book shifted people, but if I want to create lasting change, I had to go deep and I got to give everything. I held back in the first version. I was scared. But this one, I realized, okay, I’m going to put out the final version of this book, like the soup to nuts and I’m not going to hold back. So, it’s really thanks to all the readers over seven years who emailed me and the questions they asked, I set out to resolve those questions. And that resulted in this new version.
Hal Elrod: Well, and I think I felt that in terms of the original book, like I said, it was short. It was sweet. It was to the point. It was a paradigm shift about how crucial it is for us to love ourselves. Something that, you know, I don’t think it’s talked about very much, right? And love another, sure, look for the love of your life. Sure. Well, why wouldn’t you be the love of your life? First, and then you can have a secondary love of your life but the first book really was a paradigm shift for me. And then to your point, the second book going deeper, like I’ve got the four practices or the practice involves four components. I did them all this morning. I’ve been doing them every day and I’ve been going through a really tough time. I mentioned this a couple weeks ago in my podcast that I’ve been going through depression, anxiety, all these things that I think are side effects from three years of chemotherapy because I just wasn’t aware.
But this has been like this is right around Christmas I opened up about the new book in the mail, opened it up, you give me an advanced copy. Thank you so much and I’ve been practicing it for the last few weeks and it’s been maybe more transformative than the first time. Yeah.
Kamal Ravikant: Thank you.
Hal Elrod: You mentioned something – you’re welcome.
Kamal Ravikant: Thank you for putting it into practice, man. That means a lot.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you mentioned something a second ago and you talked about this new book, why you were afraid to put it out. You almost initially were afraid to write the book and share the message. Why was that?
Kamal Ravikant: Well, the initial book was came out of experience when a company I was building in Silicon Valley that I self-funded for years blew up and I lost all my money and I kind of blew up with it and I was severely depressed and I was like, all the money I’d saved over years I’ve done well was gone and I was living off credit cards and my ego was gone and I felt like a laughingstock and I made a vow to love myself one night when I couldn’t take it anymore then set out to do it, and it changed my life. So, I wrote this little book to share that, but at that time, no one was talking about that. This is Silicon Valley and I really thought I was going to be a laughingstock and like, I was like, “Okay, I’ll have to go find another career, but I had to share the truth because it was so important, it was so transformative. You know, it’s like your book, the energy that came across, I was like, “This guy’s telling his truth.” It’s like the newly converted, you know, but especially when you figure out yourself, there’s no greater seller when you figure out from within you because you see, you know where you’ve been, and where this got you.
And, yeah, so I was scared. I was destroying my career in Silicon Valley, which is why I think I didn’t really go deep. You know, I gave enough of a primer. And honestly, I didn’t expect the success it had. I expected to sell no copies. I was going to buy and give copies to friends. And it took off. It became a phenomenon and changed my life, which is the power of sharing your truth, man. It gives you a way more than you ever gave it.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. You’re absolutely right. Well, how many copies has it sold, by the way?
Kamal Ravikant: The original, the self-published?
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Hundreds of thousands, right?
Kamal Ravikant: It’s somewhere between 400,000 and a half million.
Hal Elrod: Wow. That’s incredible. That’s incredible. And, yeah, I hope that the new version many times overreaches that many more people and I want to help in any way that I can.
Kamal Ravikant: Thank you.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. You know, and I want to share this with you and for our listeners, I think it’s important because you mentioned something a minute ago that the book literally saved people’s lives. And I could say that I fall into that category. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote the following affirmation to myself and I’m big on affirmations, just really focusing our energy and attention on where we want it to be to expand that. So, this is what I wrote to myself. I literally copied and pasted this for our interview, so I could share it. I wrote down one significant area of improvement for the quality of my life, including healing myself of cancer is self-love. And a big part of that is simply affirming and feeling that I love myself and deserve all of the great things in my life, especially for my body to heal itself so that I can live a long, healthy life with my family. So, I must study and most importantly, practice self-love daily by thinking and speaking loving messages to myself.
Kamal Ravikant: Wow.
Hal Elrod: That came out of a meditation and then and I believe I had already read Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It a few years prior but it shifted the paradigm but I hadn’t really implemented yet. And I pulled the book off the shelf, rewrote the whole thing which 7,000 words didn’t take long, but committed to the practices in the original book. And I started talking to myself in the mirror. I love myself, I love myself, right? It felt weird, as you talked about when any of us do it. It’s odd. It’s weird. And I felt insecure like I was thinking to myself, it’s so funny that we do this, right? I’m thinking to myself, “God, what would people think if they saw me doing this? They’d think I was so weird.” As if someone’s in my bathroom, like spying on me or something but here’s the deal. You know, I followed your instruction, which is, “Hey, this is going to feel weird. It’s going to be out of your comfort zone. And every day, I just did the practice and it felt less weird and less weird and more normal and more normal. And soon it felt as you talk a lot about in the book like magic. It felt amazing, right?
And I felt happy. I begin to focus on healing my body with love and, obviously, I don’t have any graph to show that my degree of self-love contributed to my healing in this capacity, but I believe in my heart that it did and, actually, Dr. Bernie Siegel, he says that unconditional love is the strongest force for the immune system, something like that, for healing that all patients he sees that healed themselves they do so with an element of really strong love for themselves and that they’re going to survive, they’re going to beat this, there’s no other option. And so, that’s how your book impacted me during the most difficult time in my life and now I’m suffering a new difficult time in my life with this anxiety and depression from I think chemo and once again, your book is saving me so I cannot thank you enough.
Kamal Ravikant: Dude, I’m simply blown away. Thank you. Call me anytime, man.
Hal Elrod: That’s cool. I actually have the author’s number. Yeah.
Kamal Ravikant: You know, the thing is we’re all human. We all go through stuff. For one person it could be cancer, one person it could be something else. We were talking earlier three months ago I was basically dead or in an operating table.
Hal Elrod: Talk about that. I had no idea until you just filled me in a few minutes ago.
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. I went in for elective surgery just for an old athletic injury and then next morning as I was being discharged, one of the arteries they worked on burst because of the suturing they’ve done and I basically bled to death and they had to rush me to the emergency OR and save my life. And, you know, we all go through stuff. One doesn’t have to go through that kind of traumatic stuff but just you’re like, you know, it can just be anything right? You’re human and I think that’s why books like ours, like yours and mine, are so powerful and so transformative because we’re sharing our human story but also how we overcame and not overcame by doing something external because the externals can differ for a lot of people, but the internal is still the same. Both are internal. And ultimately your book is internal work. And same thing here, this is internal work, and it’s coming from my experience.
And so, yeah, I’ve been having to do the same. I’ve been having to like go to the practice. And let me tell you the level of pain I was in for and I still have – I’m getting better. I’m getting much better but the level of pain, I didn’t know you could feel that kind of pain. And let me tell you, it’s hard to do any practice when you’re in severe physical pain and I’ve had to go deep into it and do it and it’s helping me like it’s funny. I finally got the hardcovers and, man, whoever gets this copy, book, you know, if you can get the hardcover, it’s such beautiful the work that HarperOne has done. It’s a work of art. Pick it up, and I open it, and it helps me and these are my words. You know, it’s a human thing, man. We all go through stuff and we all have these troughs and highs and valleys and the best we can do through all this is continue to work in ourselves and we will get better.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I love that. And you’re so right that it’s part of being human, the internal stuff we all share fears and we all share doubts and we all share insecurities, right, our own unique blend of all of the above and then some. And I love that in the book too how multiple times, right, like you develop this practice, it saved you. It changed your life then you started coasting as you talked a lot about in the book which we tend to do. When things are going well, it’s like we forget what got us to the dance, and I love that you forgot and then you did it again and it saved you again. And then you coasted again, right? Because I relate to the Miracle Morning like that’s one of the things I think I’ve realized is I had gotten away from that because I was not sleeping and all these things and then I’m like, “Oh, that’s why I’m not on point. I’m not doing the thing that got me here.”
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. That’s a very human thing too, right? Once we get better, we do start to coast. And I also want to show in the book like, look, because I got to see what my readers struggle with. You know, they beat themselves up for like coasting and I got to show like, look, I’m the guy that came up with this and look how badly I screw it up. But let me also show you how it works from each and every time.
Hal Elrod: You know, something you did in this book that I don’t think was in the original version is the talk about forgiveness. Was that the original?
Kamal Ravikant: Correct.
Hal Elrod: So, you lead people. In the book, you lead people through a process of forgiveness.
Kamal Ravikant: Self-forgiveness.
Hal Elrod: Self-forgiveness. Yeah. Good point. Yeah. So, not forgiving others but forgiving yourself and the process helps you identify what you’re holding against yourself that you need to forgive and it walks you through a process to let all that go and I didn’t know that I was holding anything against myself. If you would have asked, I would have thought, “No, I don’t hold any regrets. I don’t hold any resentment toward myself. I love myself.” But until I read your book and I took myself through the process, I realized that I was holding quite a few things against myself. In fact, I’m still holding and I did the exercise but I didn’t throw it away yet because I feel like I haven’t quite let it go. I’m still doing this but I realized I’ve got some major issues. One is that I hold, that I’ve failed my kids by not spending enough time with them. I feel like it’s kind of a bottomless pit of like I can’t spend enough time so I feel like I’m failing as a father because I should be doing better. I’m failing as a husband because I should be doing better. I feel like I need to forgive myself. I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I’ve hurt other people.
I’m a burden to people in my life because I’ve gone through all this trauma and these tragedies and all these things and it affects other people that I love and care about and I hate that that’s happening. So, anyway, I want this and I just realized I’ve got all these major things that I’m holding on to and, while, I’m big on repetition so I’m reading these almost like a daily affirmation like forgiving myself daily, rather than a onetime event.
Kamal Ravikant: That’s smart. That’s really smart.
Hal Elrod: But talk about that. So, talk about why did you include that in the book and why do you think that’s important?
Kamal Ravikant: Well, you know, also one thing this book has the benefit of is that me doing this practice for seven years what I came up with, right, and evolving it. That’s something I’m not satisfied with just a bit of status quo. Whatever, I’m doing that makes me better, I want it to even like take to the next level. You know, I think that comes from being a startup guy, right? You’re always iterating. So, I came up with this self-forgiveness practice once along the way and I realized, “Oh my god, this is one of the missing keys to this.” This is so powerful because before you even start to love yourself, you got to let go what you’re holding against yourself. So, I came up with this practice and I just come up with this stuff. I just try it on my own and see how it makes me feel, how it shifts my life. And it really worked and it worked for other people. And it’s so simple, man, and it’s for fun. And then from there, you go on and you make the commitment to love yourself.
Now, when you’ve done it, you’re actually freer. You know, it’s easier to love yourself when you’re forgiven when you’ve done this for self-forgiveness, when you let go which you carry. Sometimes you do multiple times, I love your thing by doing it daily. That’s powerful, man. That’s like, “Well, look, you write about the daily stuff anyway.” It makes sense.
Hal Elrod: Practice what we preach, right?
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah, I think it’s brilliant to do it daily. I’m going to start doing that like some of this. I do sometimes where daily I’ll ask myself in the morning, “What kind of man do I want to be today?” And then I will choose that and then I will check in during the day, “Am I being that man?” Because otherwise we just drift to life, right? And it could be just as simple as today I’m going to be the man who fiercely loves himself. Today I’m going to be a man who just is in a state of gratitude. Today, like just basic those things. A lot of my stuff has to be internal because what I learned is if you look at an internal, the external just becomes easy.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And, yeah, you’re right and everything begins and ends with the internal because what do we all want? We just want to feel good if we do everything that we do and actually go deeper. Actually, your book inspired I recently spoke to, I guess it was back in August, to my mastermind group that I used to lead the Quantum Leap Mastermind and it was a business talk and as I was prepping the business talk, your book, your practice, it just kept coming up for me and the whole thing was how to build, I made it kind of a joke, was how to build a 14-figure business working, only I just made some kind of silly title, and 14 figures that’d be good. But I said, “You guys, as I was prepping to talk, I realized that nothing I’m about to say matters if you don’t get one thing.”
And I said, “What do we really want?” You might think, “Well, I want to make more money.” Okay, why? To buy more stuff but what do you really want? And if you really go, “Well, I want to find a significant other,” Okay. Well, why? What do you really want? And when we really get down to it at the core, the answer is love. You know, if somebody goes, “Well, I want to make a big impact in the world.” Well, really, I think that I want to make a big impact because then I will feel good about myself and then I’m living my values and, therefore, I will actually love myself. I want to find a significant other that loves me. Why? Well, because if they love me, then that will give me permission to love myself. Right? So, when you really look at everything that we do, everything that we do roots back to we just want to feel good, we want to feel love. And what I love about Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It is that you give us the – and we’re going to get in. I want to break down the practice here but you give us the formula for loving ourselves to where it’s something that we are in complete control over.
We’re not in control of anyone else, right, that significant other. We’re not in control of the stock market. We’re not in control of a lot of the things, but we are in control of and we can give ourselves that gift every day of loving ourselves. So, I want to hear you before we get into the how to do it practice, breaking. I want to make sure we kind of how I’ve adapted some of your stuff but why do you believe and this is kind of where would be a good first question, but we got here one way or another, why do you believe, Kamal, that loving yourself, loving ourselves is one of if not the most important thing that we can do?
Kamal Ravikant: Well, look, I can tell you from my experience, it saved me. Every time I’ve done it, it saved me and that each time I do it, it makes me better so why not do it? And I think the thing that gets in the way of a lot of people and got in the way of me, I mean, look, I never thought about having to love myself until I was at bottom and it was a vow that came from a deep place. I don’t even know where it came from but it was real so I had to do it but it just makes us better and we’re wired for it. You know, if you ever look at a baby, I mean, we’re wired for love. So, it’s like something fundamental part of us that we just lose touch with. And the one person we can give control about giving love to is ourselves and it’s the one person who’s usually craving it is lacking it, ironically. So, if you start from there, the funny thing is, you know, because I’ve had people say, “Well, you should love others first.” I’m like, “Look, try loving yourself, you’ll love others easier and better.” It just becomes a natural expression of you rather than having to do anything.
And so, I’ll just say from my experience, it makes me better in every way. And as you said, there’s data out there that shows it makes you physically better, not just internally, mentally, emotionally better. It makes you better all around.
Hal Elrod: Well, I love that you mentioned that there’s data out there because at our event that we ran last month, we had the founders of HeartMath there. And HeartMath if you’re not familiar, as an organization, they have done the most amount of research related to the heart. And that the actual scientific proof that when we connect with our heart, it actually possesses an intelligence within it. And so, to your point, when we love ourselves and I think that it goes along with what Dr. Bernie Siegel said that the most powerful force for the immune system is unconditional love. There is now science that’s actually proving that. So, if you want to be happier, if you want to be healthier, you want to be healthier in terms of curing a disease, I mean, this practice literally can save your life physically, not just metaphorically speaking.
I want to mention this. At that mastermind when I spoke that morning, I talked about loving yourself. I shared part of your practice like the mirror practice, two of the four, the mental loop and then the mirror, the two practices and the next morning Keith Battle, a member of our mastermind back then, by the way, he’s the author of A Second Chance who ironically, I am talking to today. But he came downstairs and he said, “Hal, what you talked about yesterday not the business stuff, the self-love stuff.” He said, “That was profound and it’s already changing my life,” and I said, “Thank you. Tell me more.” And he said, “Last night after you talked, I realized I’ve never told myself that I love myself because I’m 52 years old. I’ve never even thought to tell myself I love myself.” He goes, “So, I looked in the mirror and I started telling myself and it felt weird at first. So, I just kept doing it and doing it and doing it.” I think he sat there for like 5, 10, 15 minutes or even no, and he did it again. He said it that morning and he just said, “You know, I can’t believe it took me this long to love myself and tell myself that.”
Kamal Ravikant: Man, that’s powerful.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I wanted to share that with you because…
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. That’s powerful, man.
Hal Elrod: So powerful.
Kamal Ravikant: I mean most of us we don’t think that way and, look, often, when we’re told by society to love ourselves, it’s given us platitudes. Okay. Great. Love myself. Yeah. How? Like, you know, how? That was my thing, right? So, when I was at bottom and when I made that vow is like I had to figure out for myself. I didn’t do it to write a book. I did it to save myself and to keep a commitment to myself. I tried every crazy thing on my head and then once I came across things that worked, I just went deeper and eventually had a practice. I was it doing every day that didn’t take much time and really just changed my inside, which changed my outside. And I think that’s really important. It’s not just to tell people, “Hey, you need to love yourself.” Great. Thank you very much. It’s like, “Hey, you need to eat healthy.” “Great, thank you very much,” but tell them exactly like, “Look, this is what I’ve done. I used to be 500 pounds and look at me now I’m chiseled. This is what I did step by step.” That’s the best thing we can do, share our own improvements with others and how we did it practically.
Hal Elrod: So, let’s get into the practicality there. You say in the book that loving yourself is not a onetime thing, right? It’s like working out. It’s a practice. You have to do it consistently. And so, you’ve broken the practice down into four steps that can be done simultaneously, that can be done throughout the day, that can be mixed and match so to speak. And talk about that and I guess the mental loop is where you’d start because that was like looking for the simplest way when you made the vow, “I’m going to love myself from now on. I don’t know how. I don’t know what that looks like.” Talk about how these steps evolve so that people have some practical implementable step.
Kamal Ravikant: Sure. Happy to. One thing that I would say to is that for everyone who’s going to do this, when you’re reading the book, I go to the nuances and the nuances I learned are really important. That’s what keeps it consistent. So, like keep an eye for the nuances throughout the book and the nuances will take you through all the cushions and the stumbling blocks you have. That’s all the cushions you have from readers and the stumbling blocks. So, we don’t have time to cover the nuances, but the very basic was that I had to look. When I was trying to do it, I was like, “What’s the simplest thing I can do?” I was like, “I’m going to start telling myself I love myself.” So, just sort of saying it to myself like a madman, like a complete fricking madman, right? Like, I mean, really, I’m in New York City these days and you see people walking. It’s so unfortunate you see people walking around, obviously mentally unstable, talking to themselves.
Well, that was me. That was saying one thing. I love myself, because it’s the only thing I could think of. And you know what? It started to work. But here’s what happened. After a little while, I start adding feeling to it because we manufacture feelings anyway, start adding feeling and breath, and the concept of light coming in as I did it. And I just started making myself feel it as I did it and that just shifted things. All of a sudden, things just started to shift. It was like I was creating these deep neural pathways in my brain that for something that my brains wired for already. So, I think that makes it easy but the mental, ultimately, is repeating that thought and feeling and emotion to yourself in a consistent regular way.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. You mentioned in the book I love that you kind of created a customizable, you know, you talked about you can shift the words, try it this way, try it that way like it doesn’t have to be exactly the words you use, which is I love myself. It could be I love me or I love my life or…
Kamal Ravikant: I am loved which is a really good one.
Hal Elrod: I am loved.
Kamal Ravikant: Because you’re feeling. You just feel all of this love coming to you. It’s a great one actually. I’ve been doing variations of it lately.
Hal Elrod: So, a few variations that I tried that I found really helpful. Number one was just adding the word unconditionally. I love myself unconditionally. I love myself unconditionally because what that immediately does is it took down that part of my brain that goes, “Well, but…” The “but”. “I love myself but, dude, you’re making mistakes. You’re messed up. You’re failing as a husband and father,” all the negative self-talk that we have. And so, that I love myself unconditionally was really powerful. And then when I do the mirror work, I’ll often go I love myself, right? I’ll list off things or even just the mental loop. I’ll go, “I love my mind. I love my body. I love my heart. I love that I’m open. I love that I’m compassionate. I love that I care about other people.” And I just freestyle, right? Just I love, I love, I love, I love, I love.
Kamal Ravikant: That’s beautiful, man.
Hal Elrod: Think of these gifts. Yeah, thank you.
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. Actually, in the book I talked about how like, look, this is the foundation but here’s how you can tweak it. And tweaking and making your own, that’s the most powerful thing you can do. And then obviously I go into things where like how I’ve used it for other things in my life, childhood stuff and abuse and those kind of things to overcome that. You’d start with this foundation, you pretty much overcome anything. Because it really is the foundation for us as human beings and our love.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I think God is love. That’s been said, right?
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. That’s been said. Was it Paul? I don’t know who said it but, yeah, it’s been said in pretty much by every culture, every religion.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, giving yourself love is giving yourself God. I mean, we could go on and on. When it comes to meditation, which is the second, so the first piece is the mental loop and I love that you said the nuances because that for me in any book, it’s not the concept that it’s like, “I need to hear the story of how you got to… Oh. I need to understand then how did you implement it when you felt like it wasn’t work… Oh.” That to me is the magic of the book.
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. That’s what makes it effective.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, the second is the meditation. And I love the meditation you teach in the book because I think it’s personal preference, but I prefer meditation that’s centered around a focused thought or an intention or a feeling, rather than just an indifferent focus on breath or mantra, right? Like I actually love to choose. I want to feel more confident. I want to love myself. I want it whatever it is. And so, you teach the simple meditation. Now, you meditate for eight minutes a day because you have a piece of music that you love. It makes you feel good. It’s an anchor. So, each time you meditate, you listen to that piece of music and the music happens to be eight minutes long. I have two questions about it. Number one, why listen to music? Why is that effective for you? And can you share the love here and tell us which piece of music you listen to so that we can…
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. The music thing was actually interesting. It was more as a hack because when I started, I’m lazy. I don’t want to meditate for an hour or two hours. I don’t want to do it. I was just meditating for little periods and I realized if I started listening to the same piece of music every time, the mind actually creates anchors. So, if I took a piece of music that naturally I feel good about and I’ve changed it over the years, you know, I change it at times. I’ll find new pieces of music. And so, now I listen to that piece of music and so what happens if I’ve been doing it regularly, the mind just naturally goes into that meditative state. It knows what’s coming. It’s very Pavlovian. For complicated creatures, we’re actually very simple creatures, fundamentally. And also, it’s like it knows this, “Okay, it’s time to do this. Okay. Calm down. It’s time to,” and then I just do basically what I discovered in the mental loop but now I’m doing with the meditation to that piece of music for a very focused time.
And that piece of music I think the original one was like seven minutes long so my meditation was seven minutes long. If the piece of music had been five minutes long, my meditation would have been five minutes long. I don’t think the length of time that matters. What matters is that you being in it. And most of the time, your mind wanders anyway but eventually that piece of music, you might start to realize, hey, it’s coming to an end. Time to get back to work and it’ll just shift back to that. I say it’s very funny.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I mean, I’m a huge believer in the power of anchors and I love the Pavlovian response that you talked about because that’s so true, right? As soon as the music plays your body’s like, “Oh, time to relax. Time to love ourselves. Time to get in this meditative state.” That’s beautiful.
Kamal Ravikant: All of these are hacks, man. All of these are hacks I’ve done for myself out of personal laziness of trying to save myself.
Hal Elrod: It’s so funny. You and I, we have way too much in common or just the right amount. So, the mirror practice is the one for most people that the resistance kind of awkward, kind of weird on, and the looking in the mirror telling yourself you love yourself why. We’ll talk about, you mentioned in the book that it’s anchoring it to your physical body or anchoring self-love to your physical body. Talk about that. Why is that important to do the mirror practice? Because I know that’s the one in the book you’re like, “Look, this is the one you might think to skip.” It’s arguably the most powerful one.
Kamal Ravikant: Usually, when I stopped doing it for a while, that’s the one I have the hardest time coming back to. It’s funny. It’s the one that we resist the most because we all have our own insecurities when we look at ourselves no matter who we are. Right? And so, what I realized when I was originally doing the practice was once I was doing the mental loop out loud, and I was just in the bathroom looking myself in the mirror and I got really close to start looking at my eyes. And I started looking at my eyes and all of a sudden, I was connected by myself in a very deep personal way in a way that was different. It wasn’t in my mind. It was actually my like almost connecting with my, you know, eyes are windows to the soul, like really deep personal physical way. And I did for five minutes and I walked away like zinging, something shifted. I was like, “Holy cow. This is a different layer.” You know, a lot of this everyday mental but it’s also important to connect with the physical. And the eye part was important because rather than looking at my nose or this or that or like, oh shit, you have a zit here, whatever. No, you look in the eyes. You look in the truth of who you are. And you know, for all of us, we see the truths of like our humanity in our eyes.
Hal Elrod: This was arguably, the mere practice was arguably the most powerful of all the practices. And I’ll tell you that one of my variations is I started doing it naked. So, I highly recommend this. So, I’ll usually start like I’ll get out of shower and I’ll do it so that’s where it kind of starts but I had this realization one day when I was doing the practice, now I got out of the shower. I was looking at my eyes and I stepped back and I went, “I’ve never loved my body.” I’ve been working out, like busting my ass in the gym for 20 years and all I’ve ever thought looking at my body is, “Not good enough. Pecks aren’t big enough. Abs aren’t chiseled enough.” I thought, “What the? What in the hell have I been doing for 20 years?” Like this was a profound realization. Yeah. And I went, “Dude, I love my body.” And at that, I love my body. I love my body.
Look, I’m having gone through chemotherapy, like I’m skin and bones. I’m not exactly at my best, most appealing physique, I would say. I just started loving it unconditionally, right? Loving it unconditionally. And so, yeah, the mirror practice on both right in my eyes, which I was doing last night and then I encourage anybody to take your clothes off and do this one.
Kamal Ravikant: Actually, I want to do that. That’s a good one. Yeah. I love it when I learn from another how to improve my own practice.
Hal Elrod: Go love your body. And then probably we save the best for last because the fourth one, this is my favorite practice. In fact, I don’t think this was in the original book and if it was, I forgot it. The question. Was that in the original?
Kamal Ravikant: It was, but there’s variations on it and how I do it, and then there’s more depth in it than the newer one.
Hal Elrod: Okay. Well, regardless, you know, I’m a big believer in the power of questions to shift our focus, our emotional state, our quality of life, if you will. And so, there were two versions in the book that you gave a few but these ones I really liked. If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this? And I’ve been going through anxiety and depression in the last few months and the answer, of course, is no. And then the next question that I followed up with that you give in the book is if I love myself truly and deeply, what would I do? And it’s such a beautiful question. It’s such a, you know…
Kamal Ravikant: It’s just practical.
Hal Elrod: It’s practical. The answer comes and here’s the thing. It’s literally the secret to success, you could say because when you do understand the nuances that you talked about in the book and how to use that question and where to apply it, and when to apply it, and all of these things, you realize that the answer to that question is always the thing you should do.
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. And the key of these questions is starting with the if. Because it’s an if question so there’s no, well, I’m not loving myself so I’m not going to, you know, it’s not like because I love myself, I will do this. It’s if. And then you know the answer, then it’s up to you to choose to make the choice. And then even if you don’t make that right choice, critical right choice, it’s a conscious choice. Like this morning, I wasn’t feeling well. I woke up really early. I wasn’t feeling well and I had a little bit of time and I thought I should go to the gym, but I really didn’t want to and I literally asked myself this question, and I got up and I got ready. I went to the gym. I would get my ass to the gym. You know, if I hadn’t asked myself this question I would have just like mentally talked myself out of it.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I like that, well, I can tell you this morning, here’s the question. I had some anxiety this morning which it’s been going well the last couple weeks then I just woke up at 2:42 AM this morning with my body flooded with adrenaline, wired, and could not go back to sleep. So, it’s been a long day already. But besides anxiety and I thought about, you know, I’ve got prescription. I’ve never taken it. But I’ve got a prescription for Xanax and I thought about taking it today. I thought, “Maybe it’s the first day. I’ll take it,” and I want to relax, talk to Kamal. I’ve got fewer more conversations and interviews today. And I asked myself, if I love myself, what would I do? And the answer was I would face this head-on without a Band-Aid of a prescription and I would figure out how to address my anxiety and handle it for my own benefit and the benefit of every person that is out there suffering from anxiety. Yeah. And so, I didn’t take it. So, I would have been playing much more.
Kamal Ravikant: Dude, I’m genuinely impressed. You know, one thing I would recommend, something else I have in the book is a concept of 10 brats.
Hal Elrod: Yeah.
Kamal Ravikant: This may seem like a lot but what I do is throughout the day, especially if I’m having a hard time at anything emotionally and the mind is a monkey. We know that, right?
Hal Elrod: Yeah.
Kamal Ravikant: I just stopped and I take 10 deep, deep, and purposeful breaths and with each breath, I’m like, feel bringing love for myself and feel loving myself and then releasing whatever needs to go. Just 10 breaths, right? It’s maybe like because it’s deep and purposeful, it maybe take me 15 seconds. I’m going to tell you it shifts you. It just shifts you. Just 10 breaths throughout the day doing this and it just shifts you whenever you’re having a hard moment. You know, I can do that while talking to someone. Well, usually not talk to someone while listening to someone in a meeting, walking, it doesn’t matter. Just 10 breaths. It’s really a simple, practical, and really, I think anyone listening should just start doing it.
Hal Elrod: I’ve been using all of your practices that you teach in the book every day. Well, Kamal, I could talk to you for hours but…
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah, we could. This is very interesting. I’m learning.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, as I was prepping for our conversation today, I actually felt really unprepared because I’m going through the book and I’m like there’s like a million things I want to ask him. Like, there’s so much wisdom in this book. I don’t even know. So, I just like, “All right, we’ll just try to unscript the conversation and see where it goes and I’m grateful that we did. I want to ask you a kind of last question here. Famous last words, but you talk a lot in the book about magic, right? And for me, the word would be miracles but you talk about magic and specifically that the magic that results from your own experience from loving yourself, from the practices that we touched on today that you go into in the book. What does that mean?
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. That’s a great question.
Hal Elrod: And there’s a second part of the question. And for people listening, if they read your book, if they learn how to put this into practice in their life, what’s the magic that they can expect?
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah. Actually, that’s a great question. And fundamentally, it’s this. It’s something I experienced I didn’t expect was that as I start to love myself, my life just started to work. Like things just started to work, things that I was struggling with just started to work, and I’m talking about external things I don’t have control over. So, I’ve come to believe that there’s more to life than just our physical selves walking around. I think we’re part of something bigger. Can I do something bigger? Whatever it is, you know, all the mystic say there’s nothing but consciousness. We’re all just consciousness and that is all it is. But whatever it is, I know that your inside affects your outside. It just does. When you shift your state consistently, you start to notice that. And then I also get a lot of readers, yeah, now I get it. I’m experiencing magic. And the reason why I use the word magic was because I didn’t want to get specific like, “Well, this happened and that happened,” and then people started saying, “Well, only that or that counts.” Details are different on the outside but you’ll just notice that things just start to work better when you love yourself in the inside. It’s that simple. I consider that magic.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I’m living proof of it. Kamal, I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks and I’m so grateful that we talked today.
Kamal Ravikant: It’s been a pleasure, man. It’s been a pleasure. Call me anytime.
Hal Elrod: I will. I will. That’s a benefit that I’m grateful that I haven’t. Thank you for extending that offer. Well, goal achievers, thank you for tuning in today. This is your first glimpse at what matters most, right? It’s to love yourself like your life depends on it, because ultimately it does. You know, I think that what we really all want more than anything else is love. And Kamal here teaches us how to give that to yourself and not be dependent on anything, anyone, any accomplishment for you to love yourself. Just start there. And I think that we’re reminded of that, of how important love is at birth and at death. And I think we forget it in between in this thing that we call life. And so, I hope if you have not read Kamal’s book that you will go to Amazon or where books are sold, pick up a copy. Like I said, this has been it’s one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. And I’ve read it twice now. Well, goal achievers, I love you. I hope you love yourself and look forward to talking to you all next week. Take care, everybody.
"Try loving yourself, you’ll love others easier and better."