Transcript for Andrew Huberman: Relationships, Drama, Betrayal, Sex, and Love | Lex Fridman Podcast #393

This is a transcript of Lex Fridman Podcast #393 with Andrew Huberman. The timestamps in the transcript are clickable links that take you directly to that point in the main video. Please note that the transcript is human generated, and may have errors. Here are some useful links:

Table of Contents

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Andrew Huberman (00:00:00) Listen, when it comes to romantic relationships, if it’s not a 100% in you, it ain’t happening. And I’ve never seen a violation of that statement where it’s like, “Yeah, it’s mostly good.” And this is like the negotiations, already it’s doomed. And that doesn’t mean someone has to be perfect. The relationship has to be perfect, but it’s got to feel a 100% inside, like yes, yes, and yes.
Lex Fridman (00:00:29) The following is a conversation with my dear friend Andrew Huberman, his fourth time on this podcast. It’s my birthday, so this is a special birthday episode of sorts. Andrew flew down to Austin just to wish me a happy birthday, and we decided to do a podcast last second. We literally talked for hours beforehand and a long time after late into the night. He’s one of my favorite human beings, brilliant scientists, incredible teacher, and a loyal friend. I’m grateful for Andrew. I’m grateful for good friends, for all the support and love I’ve gotten over the past few years. I’m truly grateful for this life, for the years, the days, the minutes, the seconds I’ve gotten to live on this beautiful earth of ours. I really don’t want to leave just yet. I think I’d really like to stick around. I love you all. This is the Lex Fridman podcast. And now, dear friends, here’s Andrew Huberman.

Exercise routine

Andrew Huberman (00:01:30) I’m trying to run a little bit more.
Lex Fridman (00:01:34) Are you losing weight?
Andrew Huberman (00:01:35) I’m not trying to lose weight, but I always do the same fitness routine after 30 years. Basically lift three days a week, run three days a week, but one of the runs is the long run, one of them is medium, one of them is a sprint type thing. So what I’ve decided to do this year was just extend the duration of the long run. And I like being mobile. I never want to be so heavy that I can’t move. I want to be able to go out and run 10 miles if I have to so sometimes I do. And I want to be able to sprint if I have to. So sometimes I do.
(00:02:10) And lifting in objects feels good. It feels good to train like a lazy bear and just lift heavy objects. But I’ve also started training with lighter weights and higher repetitions and for three month cycles, and it gives your joints a rest. Yeah, so I think it also is interesting to see how training differently changes your cognition. That’s probably hormone related, hormones downstream of training heavy versus hormones downstream of training a little bit lighter. I think my cognition is better when I’m doing more cardio and when the repetition ranges are a little bit or higher, which is not to say that people who lift heavy are dumb, but there is a… Because there’s real value in lifting heavy.
Lex Fridman (00:02:55) There’s a lot of angry people listening to this right now.
Andrew Huberman (00:02:57) No, no, no. But lifting heavy and then taking three to five minutes rest is far and away a different challenge than running hard for 90 minutes. That’s a tough thing, just like getting in an ice bath. People say, “Oh, well, how is that any different than working out?” Well, there are a lot of differences, but one of them is that it’s very acute stress, within one second you’re stressed. So I think subjecting the body to a bunch of different types of stressors in space and time is really valuable. So yeah, I’ve been playing with the variables in a pre systematic way.
Lex Fridman (00:03:30) Well, I like long and slow like you said, the impact it has on my cognition.
Andrew Huberman (00:03:37) Yeah, the wordlessness of it, the way it seems to clean out the clutter.
Lex Fridman (00:03:46) Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (00:03:47) It can take away that hyperfocus and put you more in a relaxed focus for sure.
Lex Fridman (00:03:53) Well, for me, it brings the clutter to the surface at first. Like all these thoughts come in there, and then they dissipate. I got knee barred pretty hard. That’s when somebody tries to break your knee.
Andrew Huberman (00:04:04) What a knee bar? They try and break your knee?
Lex Fridman (00:04:04) Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (00:04:06) Oh, so you tap so they-
Lex Fridman (00:04:07) Yeah. Yeah. So it’s hyperextend the knee in that direction, they got knee barred pretty hard. So in ways I don’t understand, it kind of hurts to run. I don’t understand what’s happening behind there. I need to investigate this. Basically the hamstringing flex, like curling, your leg hurts a little bit, and that results in this weird, dull, but sometimes extremely sharp pain in the back of the knee. So I’m working through this anyway, but walking doesn’t hurt.
(00:04:38) So I’ve been playing around with walking recently for two hours and thinking because I know a lot of smart people throughout history, I have walked and thought, and you have to play with things that have worked for others, not just to exercise, but to integrate this very light kind of prolonged exercise into a productive life. So they do all their thinking while they walk. It’s like a meditative type of walking, and it’s really interesting. It really works.
Andrew Huberman (00:05:09) Yeah. The practice I’ve been doing a lot more of lately is I walk while reading a book in the yard. I’ll just pace back and forth or walk in a circle.
Lex Fridman (00:05:18) Audiobook, or are you talking about anything-
Andrew Huberman (00:05:20) No hard copy.
Lex Fridman (00:05:20) Well, you just holding.
Andrew Huberman (00:05:22) I’m holding the book and I’m walking and I’m reading, and I usually have a pen and I’m underlining. I have this whole system like underlining, stars, exclamation points, goes back to university of what things I’ll go back to which things I export to notes and that kind of thing. But from the beginning when I opened my lab at that time in San Diego before I moved back to Stanford, I would have meetings with my students or postdocs by just walking in the field behind the lab. And I’d bring my bulldog Costello, bulldog Mastiff at the time, and he was a slow walker. So these were slow walks, but I can think much more clearly that way. There’s a Nobel Prize winning professor at Columbia University School of Medicine, Richard Axel, who won the Nobel Prize, co-won Nobel Prize with Linda Buck for the discovery of the molecular basis of olfaction.
(00:06:09) And he walks in, voice dictates his papers. And now with Rev or these other, maybe there are better ones than Rev, where you can convert audio files into text very quickly and then edit from there. So I will often voice dictate first drafts and things like that. And I totally agree on the long runs, the walks, the integrating that with cognitive work, harder to do with sprints and then the gym. You weight train?
Lex Fridman (00:06:36) Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (00:06:36) You just seem naturally strong and thicker jointed. It’s true, it’s true.
Lex Fridman (00:06:40) Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (00:06:41) I mean, we did the one very beginner because I’m a very beginner of jiu jitsu class together, and as I mentioned then, but if people missed it, Lexus freakishly strong.
Lex Fridman (00:06:52) I think I was born genetically to hug people.
Andrew Huberman (00:06:55) Oh, like Costello.
Lex Fridman (00:06:56) Exactly.
Andrew Huberman (00:06:57) You guys have a certain similarity. He had wrists like it’s like you know. You and Jocko and Costello have these wrists and elbows that are super thick. And then when you look around, you see tremendous variation. Some people have the wrist width of a Whippet or Woody Allen, and then other people like you or Jocko. There’s this one Jocko video or thing on GQ or something. Have you seen the comments on Jocko, These are the Best?
Lex Fridman (00:07:21) No.
Andrew Huberman (00:07:22) The comments, I love the comments on YouTube because occasionally they’re funny because. The best is when Jocko was born, the doctor looked at his parents and said, “It’s a man.”
Lex Fridman (00:07:35) It’s like Chuck Norris type comments.
Andrew Huberman (00:07:36) Oh yeah. Those are great. That’s what I miss about Rogan being on YouTube with the full-length episode. Oh, that comment.

Advice to younger self

Lex Fridman (00:07:42) So this is technically a birthday podcast. What do you love most about getting older?
Andrew Huberman (00:07:50) It’s like the confirmation that comes from getting more and more data, which basically says, ” Yeah, the first time you thought that thing, it was actually right because the second, third and fourth and fifth time, it turned out the exact same way.” In other words, there have been a few times in my life where I did not feel easy about something. I felt a signal for my body, “This is not good.” And I didn’t trust it early on, but I knew it was there.
(00:08:25) And then two or three bad experiences later, I’m able to say, “Ah, every single time there was a signal from the body informing my mind, this is not good.” Now the reverse has also been true that there’ve been a number of instances in which I feel there sort of immediate delight, and there’s this almost astonishingly simple experience of feeling comfortable with somebody or at peace with something or delighted at an experience. And it turns out literally all of those experiences and people turned out to be experiences and people that are still in my life and that I still delight in every day. In other words, what’s great about getting older is that you stop questioning the signals that come from, I think deeper recesses of your nervous system to say, “Hey, this is not good,” or, “Hey, this is great, more of this.” Whereas I think in my teens, my twenties, my thirties, I’m almost 48, I’ll be 48 next month.
(00:09:34) I didn’t trust, I didn’t listen. I actually put a lot of work into overriding those signals and learning to fight through them, thinking that somehow that was making me tougher or somehow that was making me smarter. When in fact, in the end, those people that you meet that are difficult or there are other names for it, like in the end, you’re like, “That person’s a piece of shit,” or, “This person is amazing and they’re really wonderful.” And I felt that from the go.
Lex Fridman (00:10:03) So you’ve learned to trust your gut versus the influences of other people’s opinions?
Andrew Huberman (00:10:09) I’ve learned to trust my gut versus the forebrain over analysis, overriding the gut. Other people often in my life have had great optics. I’ve benefited tremendously from an early age of being in a large community. It’s been mostly guys, but I have some close female friends and always have as well who will tell me, “That’s a bad decision,” or, “This person not so good,” or, “Be careful,” or, “They’re great,” or, “That’s great.” So oftentimes my community and the people around me have been more aligned with the correct choice than not.
Lex Fridman (00:10:44) Is it really?
Andrew Huberman (00:10:45) Yes.
Lex Fridman (00:10:45) Really? When you were younger like friends, parents and so on.
Andrew Huberman (00:10:50) I don’t recall ever really listening to my parents that much. I grew up in… We don’t have to go back to my childhood thing-
Lex Fridman (00:10:50) My fault Andrew.
Andrew Huberman (00:10:56) … but my sense was that… Thank you. I learned that recently in a psilocybin journey, my first high dose psilocybin journey, which was-
Lex Fridman (00:11:06) Welcome back.
Andrew Huberman (00:11:06) … done with a clinician. Thank you very much. Thank you. I was worried there for a second at one point. “Am I not coming back?” But in any event, yeah, I grew up with some wild kids. I would say about a third of my friends from childhood are dead or in jail, about a third have gone on to do tremendously impressive things, start companies, excellent athletes, academics, scientists, and clinicians. And then about a third are living their lives as more typical. I just mean that they are happy family people with jobs that they mainly serve the function to make money. They’re not into their career for career’s sake.
(00:11:49) So some of my friends early on gave me some bad ideas, but most of the time my bad ideas came from overriding the signals that I knew that my body, and I would say my body and brain were telling me to obey, and I say body and brain is that there’s this brain region, the insula, which does many things, but it represents our sense of internal sensation and interoception. And I was talking to Paul Conte about this, who as you know, I respect tremendously. I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I think for different reasons. He and Marc Andreessen are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. But Paul’s level of insight into the human psyche is absolutely astounding. And he says the opposite of what most people say about the brain, which is most people say, “Oh, the supercomputer of the brain is the forebrain.”
(00:12:48) It’s like a monkey brain with a extra real estate put on there. And the forebrain is what makes us human and gives us our superpowers. Paul has said, and he’s done a whole series on mental health that’s coming out from our podcast in September, so this is not an attempt to plug that, but he’ll elaborate on [inaudible 00:13:08].
Lex Fridman (00:13:08) Wait, you’re doing a thing with Paul?
Andrew Huberman (00:13:09) We already did. Yeah.
Lex Fridman (00:13:09) Oh, nice.
Andrew Huberman (00:13:10) So Paul Conte, he and I sat down, he did a four episode series on mental health. This is not mental illness mental health, about how to explore one’s own subconscious, explore the self, build and cultivate the generative drive. You’ll learn more about what that is from him. He’s far more eloquent and clearer than I am, and he provides essentially a set of steps to explore the self that does not require that you work with a therapist.
(00:13:39) This is self-exploration that is rooted in psychiatry, it’s rooted in neuroscience, and I don’t think this information exists anywhere else. I’m not aware that it exists anywhere else. And he essentially distills it all down to one eight and a half by 11 sheet, which we provide for people. And he says there, I don’t want to give too much away because I would detract from what he does so beautifully, but if I tried and I wouldn’t have accomplish it anyway.
(00:14:09) But he said, and I believe that the subconscious is the supercomputer of the brain. All the stuff working underneath our conscious awareness that’s driving our feelings and what we think are the decisions that we’ve thought through so carefully. And that only by exploring the subconscious and understanding it a little bit, can we actually improve ourselves over time and I agree. I think that so the mistake is to think that thinking can override it all. It’s a certain style of introspection and thinking that allows us to read the signals from our body, read the signals from our brain, integrate the knowledge that we’re collecting about ourselves, and to use all that in ways that are really adaptive and generative for us.

Jungian shadow

Lex Fridman (00:14:56) What do you think is there in that subconscious? What do you think of the Jungian and shadow? What’s there?
Andrew Huberman (00:15:03) There’s this idea, as you’re familiar with too. I’m sure that this Jungian idea that we all have all things inside of us, that all of us have the capacity to be evil, to be good, et cetera, but that some people express one or the other to a greater extent. But he also mentioned that there’s a unique category of people, maybe 2 to 5% of people that don’t just have all things inside of them, but they actually spend a lot of time exploring a lot of those things. The darker recesses, the shadows, their own shadows.
(00:15:31) I’m somebody who’s drawn to goodness and to light and to joy and all those things like anybody else. But I think maybe it was part of how I grew up. Maybe it was the crowd I was with, but then again, even when I started spending more time with academics and scientists, I mean you see shadows in other ways, right? You see pure ambition with no passion. I recall a colleague in San Diego who it was very clear to me did not actually care about understanding the brain, but understanding the brain was just his avenue to exercise ambition. And if you gave him something else to work on, he’d work on that.
(00:16:12) In fact, he did. He left and he worked on something else, and I realized he has no passion for understanding the brain like I assumed all scientists do, certainly why I went into it. But some people, it’s just raw ambition. It’s about winning. It doesn’t even matter what they win, which to me is crazy. But I think that’s a shadow that some people explore, not one I’ve explored. I think the shadow parts of us are very important to come to understand and look better to understand them and know that they’re there and work with them than to not acknowledge their presence and have them surface in the form of addictions or behaviors that damage us in other people.
Lex Fridman (00:16:52) So one of the processes for achieving mental health is to bring those things to the surface. So fish the subconscious mind.
Andrew Huberman (00:16:58) Yes, and Paul describes 10 cupboards that one can look into for exploring the self. There’s the structure of self and the function of self. Again, this will all be spelled out in this series in a lot of detail. Also in terms of its relational aspect between people, how to pick good partners and good relationship. It gets really into this from a very different perspective. Yeah, fascinating stuff. I was just sitting there. I will say this, that four episode series with Paul is at least to date, the most important work I’ve ever been involved in in all of my career because it’s very clear that we are not taught how to explore our subconscious and that very few people actually understand how to do that. Even most psychiatrists, he mentioned something about psychiatrists. If you’re a cardiothoracic surgeon or something like that and 50% of your patients die, you’re considered a bad cardiothoracic surgeon.
(00:17:53) But with no disrespect to psychiatrists, there are some excellent psychiatrists out there. There are also a lot of terrible psychiatrists out there because unless all of their patients commit suicide or half commit suicide, they can treat for a long time without it becoming visible that they’re not so good at their craft. Now, he’s superb at his craft, and I think he would say that yes, exploring some shadows, but also just understanding the self, really understanding like, “Who am I? And what’s important? What are my ambitions? What are my strivings?” Again, I’m lifting from some of the things that he’ll describe exactly how to do this. People do not spend enough time addressing those questions, and as a consequence, they discover what resides in their subconscious through the sometimes bad, hopefully also good, but manifestations of their actions.
(00:18:50) We are driven by this huge 90% of our real estate that is not visible to our conscious awareness. And we need to understand that. I’ve talked about this before. I’ve done therapy twice a week since I was a kid. I had to as a condition of being let back in school. I found a way to either through insurance or even when I didn’t have insurance, I took an extra job writing for Thrasher Magazine when I was a postdoc so I could pay for therapy at a discount because I didn’t make much money as a postdoc.
(00:19:20) I mean, I think for me, it’s as important as going to the gym and people think it’s just ruminating on problems, or getting… No, no, no. If you work with somebody really good, they’re forcing you to ask questions about who you really are, what you really want. It’s not just about support, but there should be support. There should be rapport, but then it’s also, there should be insight, right? Most people who get therapy, they’re getting support, there’s rapport, but insight is not easy to arrive at, and a really good psychologist or psychiatrist can help you arrive at deep insights that transform your entire life.

Betrayal and loyalty

Lex Fridman (00:19:56) Well, sometimes when I look inside and I do this often exploring who you truly are, you come to this question, do I accept… Once you see parts, do I accept this or do I fix this? Is this who you are fundamentally, and it will always be this way, or is this a problem to be fixed? For example, one of the things, especially recently, but in general over time I’ve discovered about myself probably has roots in childhood, probably has roots in a lot of things, is I deeply value loyalty maybe more than the average person. And so when there’s disloyalty, it can be painful to me. And so this is who I am, and so do I have to relax a bit? Do I have to fix this part or is this who you are? And there’s a million, that’s one little…
Andrew Huberman (00:20:53) I think loyalty is a good thing to cling to, provided that when loyalty is broken, that it doesn’t disrupt too many other areas of your life. But it depends also on whose disrupting that loyalty, if it’s a coworker versus a romantic partner versus your exclusive romantic partner, depending on the structure of your romantic partner life. I mean, I have always experienced extreme joy and feelings of safety and trust in my friendships. Again, mostly male friendships, but female friendships too, which is only to say that they were mostly male friendships. The female friendships have also been very loyal. So getting backstabbed is not something I’m familiar with. And yeah, I love being crewed up.
Lex Fridman (00:21:43) Yeah. No, for sure. And I’m with you and you and I very much have the same values on this, but that’s one little thing. And then there’s many other things like I’m extremely self-critical and I look at myself as I’m regularly very self-critical, a self-critical engine in my brain. And I talked to actually Paul about this, I think on the podcast quite a bit. And he’s saying, “This is a really bad thing. You need to fix this. You need to be able to be regularly very positive about yourself.” And I kept disagreeing with him, “No, this is who I am,” and he seems to work. Don’t mess with a thing that seems to be working. It’s fine.
(00:22:24) I oscillate between being really grateful and really self-critical. But then you have to figure out what is it? Maybe there’s a deeper root thing. Maybe there’s an insecurity in there somewhere that has to do with childhood and then you’re trying to prove something to somebody from your childhood, this kind of thing.
Andrew Huberman (00:22:39) Well, a couple of things that I think are hopefully valuable for people here. One is one way to destroy your life is to spend time trying to control your or somebody else’s past. So much of our destructive behavior and thinking comes from wanting something that we saw or did or heard to not be true, rather than really working with that and getting close to what it really was. Sometimes those things are even traumatic, and we need to really get close to them and for them to move through us. And there are a bunch of different ways to do that with support from others and hopefully, but sometimes on our own as well.
(00:23:23) I don’t think we can rewire our deep preferences and what we find despicable or joyful. I do think that it’s really a question of what allows us peace. Can you be at peace with the fact that you’re very self-critical? And enjoy that, get some distance from it, have a sense of humor about it, or is it driving you in a way that’s keeping you awake at night and forcing you back to the table to do work in a way that feels self-flagellating and doesn’t feel good?
(00:23:52) Can you get that humility and awareness of your one’s flaws? And I think that that can create, this word space sounds very new, edgy, like get space from it. You can have a sense of humor about how neurotic we can all be. I mean, neurotic isn’t actually a bad term in the classic sense of the psychologists and psychiatrists, the freudians. So that the best case is to be neurotic, to actually see one’s own issues and work with them. Whereas psychotic is the other way to be, which is obviously not good. So I think the question whether or not to work on something or to just accept it as part of ourselves, I think really depends if we feel like it’s holding us back or not. And I think you’re asking perhaps the most profound question about being a human, which is what do you do with your body? What do you do with your mind?
(00:24:45) I mean, it’s also a question. We started off talking about fitness a little bit just for whatever reason. Do I need to run an ultra marathon? I don’t feel like I need to. David Goggins does and does a whole lot more than that. So that for him, that’s important. For me, it’s not important to do that. I don’t think he does it just so he can run the ultras. There’s clearly something else in there for him. And guys like Cam Hanes and tremendous respect for what they do and how they do it. Does one need to make their body more muscular, stronger, more endurance, more flexibility? Do you need to read harder books? I think doing hard things feels good. I know it feels good. I know that the worst I feel, the worst way to feel is when I’m procrastinating and I don’t do something.
(00:25:43) And then whenever I do something and I complete it and I break through that point where it was hard and then I’m doing it at the end, I actually feel like I was infused with some sort of super chemical. And who knows if it’s probably a cocktail of endogenously made chemicals. But I think it is good to do hard things, but you have to be careful not to destroy your body, your mind in the process. And I think it’s about whether or not you can achieve peace. Can you sleep well at night?
(00:26:09) Stress isn’t bad if you can sleep well at night, you can be stressed all day, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. And it’ll optimize your focus. But can you fall asleep and stay deeply asleep at night? Being in a hard relationship. Some people say that’s not good. Other people like can you be at peace in that? And I think we all have different RPM. We all kind of idle at different RPM and some people are big mellow Costello and others need more friction in order to feel at peace. But I think ultimately what we want is to feel at peace.
Lex Fridman (00:26:47) Yeah, I’ve been through some really low points over the past couple of years, and I think the reason could be boiled down to the fact that I haven’t been able to find a place of peace, a place or people or moments that give deep inner peace. And I think you put it really beautifully. You have to figure out, given who you are, the various characteristics of your mind, all the things, all the contents of the cupboards, how to get space from it. And ultimately one good representation of that is to be able to laugh at all of it, whatever’s going on inside your mind to be able to step back and just kind of chuckle at the beauty and the absurdity of the whole thing.
Andrew Huberman (00:27:36) Yeah, and keep going. There’s this beautiful, as I mentioned, it seems like every podcast lately. I’m a huge Rancid fan. Mostly I just think Tim Armstrong’s writing is pure poetry and whether or not you like the music or not. And he’s written music for a lot of other people too. He doesn’t advertise that much because he’s humble but-
Lex Fridman (00:27:57) By the way, I went to a show of theirs like 20 years ago.
Andrew Huberman (00:27:59) Oh, yeah. I’m going to see them in Boston, September 18th. I’m literally flying there for… Where I’ll take the train up from New York. I’m going to meet a friend of mine named Jim Thiebaud, who’s a guy who owns a lot of companies, the skateboard industry. We’re meeting there, a couple of little kids to go see them play amazing, amazing people, amazing music.
Lex Fridman (00:28:18) Very intense.
Andrew Huberman (00:28:19) Very intense, but embodies all the different emotions. That’s why I love it. They have some love songs, they have some hate songs, they have some in. But going back to what you said, I think there’s a song, the first song on Indestructible album. I think he’s just talking about shock and disbelief of discovering things about people that were close to you. And I won’t sing it, but nor I wouldn’t dare. But there’s this one lyric that’s really stuck in my mind ever since that album came out in 2003, which is that, “Nothing’s what it seems so I just sit here laughing. I’m going to keep going on. I can’t get distracted.” There is this piece of like, you got to learn how to push out the disturbing stuff sometimes and go forward. And I remember hearing that lyric and then writing it down. And that was a time where my undergraduate advisor, who was a mentor and a father to me, blew his head off in the bathtub like three weeks before.
(00:29:26) And then my graduate advisor, who I was working for at that time, who I loved and adored, was really like a mother to me. I knew her when she was pregnant with her two kids, died at 50, breast cancer. And then my postdoc advisor, first day of work at Stanford as a faculty member sitting across the table like this from him, had a heart attack right in front of me, died of pancreatic cancer at the end of 2017. And I remember just thinking, going back to that song there over and over and where people would… Yeah, I haven’t had many betrayals in life. I’ve had a few. But just thinking or seeing something or learning something about something, you just say you can’t believe it. And I mentioned that lyric off, that first song, Indestructible on that album because it’s just the raw emotion of like, “I can’t believe this. What I just saw is so disturbing, but I have to just keep going forward.”
(00:30:17) There are certain things that we really do need to push not just into our periphery, but off into the gutter and keep going. And that’s a hard thing to learn how to do. But if you’re going to be functional in life, you have to. And actually just to get at this issue of do I change or do I embrace this aspect of self? About six months, it was April of this last year, I did some intense work around some things that were really challenging to me. And I did it alone, and it may have involved some medicine, and I expected to get peace through this. I was like, “I’m going to let go of it.” And I spent 11 hours just getting more and more frustrated and angry about this thing that I was trying to resolve.
(00:31:02) And I was so unbelievably disappointed that I couldn’t get that relief. And I was like, “What is this? This is not how this is supposed to work. I’m supposed to feel peace. The clouds are supposed to lift.” And so a week went by and then another half week went by, and then someone whose opinion I trust very much. I explained this to them because I was getting a little concerned like, “What’s going on? This is worse, not better.” And they said, ” This is very simple. You have a giant blind spot, which is your sense of justice, Andrew, and your sense of anger are linked like an iron rod and you need to relax it.” And as they said that, I felt the anger dissipate. And so there was something that I think it is true. I have a very strong sense of justice and my sense of anger then at least was very strongly linked to it.
(00:31:58) So it’s great to have a sense of justice, right? I hate to see people wrong. I absolutely do. And I’m human. I’m sure I’ve wronged people in my life. I know I have. They’ve told me, I’ve tried to apologize and reconcile where possible. Still have a lot of work to do. But where I see injustice, it draws in my sense of anger in a way that I think is just eating me up. But it was only in hearing that link that I wasn’t aware of before. It was in my subconscious, obviously. Did I feel the relaxation? There’s no amount of plant medicine or MDMA or any kind of chemical you can take that’s naturally just going to dissipate what’s hard for oneself if one embraces that or if one chooses to do it through just talk therapy or journaling or friends or introspection or all of the above. There needs to be an awareness of the things that we’re just not aware of.
(00:32:51) So I think the answer to your question, do you embrace or do you fight these aspects of self is? I think you get in your subconscious through good work with somebody skilled. And sometimes that involves the tools I just mentioned in various combinations and you figure it out. You figure out if it’s serving you. Obviously it was not bringing me peace. My sense of justice was undermining my sense of peace. And so in understanding this link… Now, I would say, in understanding this link between justice and anger, now I think it’s a little bit more of you know, it’s not like a Twizzler stick bendy, but at least it’s not like an iron rod. When I see somebody wronged, I mean it used to just… Like immediately.
Lex Fridman (00:33:33) But you’re able to step back now. To me, the ultimate place to reach is laughter.
Andrew Huberman (00:33:42) I just sit here laughing. Exactly. That’s the lyric. I can’t believe it. “So I just sit here laughing. Can’t get distracted,” Just at some point but the problem I think in just laughing at something like that gives you distance, but the question is, do you stop engaging with it at that point? I experienced this…
Andrew Huberman (00:34:00) … to stop engaging with it at that point. I experienced this… I mean, recently I got to see how sometimes I’ll see something that’s just like, “What? This is crazy,” so I just laugh. But then, I continue to engage in it and it’s taking me off course. And so, there is a place where… I mean, I realize this is probably a kid show too so I want to keep it G-rated. But at some point, for certain things, it makes sense to go, “Fuck that.”
Lex Fridman (00:34:27) But also, laugh at yourself for saying, “Fuck that.”
Andrew Huberman (00:34:31) Yeah. And then, move on. So the question is do you get stuck or do you move on?
Lex Fridman (00:34:36) Sure, sure. But there’s a lightness of being that comes with laughter. I mean, I’ve gotten-
Andrew Huberman (00:34:39) Sure.
Lex Fridman (00:34:40) As you know, I spent the day with Elon today. He just gave me this burnt hair. Do you know what this is?
Andrew Huberman (00:34:46) I have no idea.
Lex Fridman (00:34:47) I’m sure there’s actually… There should be a Huberman Lab episode on this. It’s a cologne that’s burnt hair and it’s supposedly a really intense smell and it is.
Andrew Huberman (00:34:56) Give me a smell.
Lex Fridman (00:34:56) Please, it’s not going to leave your nose.
Andrew Huberman (00:34:58) That’s okay. Well, that’s okay. I’ll whiff it as if I were working a chemical in the lab-
Lex Fridman (00:35:02) You have to actually spray it on yourself because I don’t know if you can-
Andrew Huberman (00:35:04) So I’m reading an amazing book called An Immense World by Ed Yong. He won a Pulitzer for We Contain Multitudes or something like that, I think is the title of the other book. And the first chapter is all about olfaction and the incredible power that olfaction has. That smells terrible. I don’t even-
Lex Fridman (00:35:22) And it doesn’t leave you. For those listening, it doesn’t quite smell terrible. It’s just intense and it stays with you. This, to me, represents just laughing at the absurdity of it all so-
Andrew Huberman (00:35:37) I have to ask, so you were rolling jiu jitsu?
Lex Fridman (00:35:38) Yeah. We’re training. Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (00:35:40) So is that fight between Elon and Zuck actually going to happen?
Lex Fridman (00:35:45) I think Elon is a huge believer of this idea of the most entertaining outcome is the most likely and there is almost the sense that there’s not a free will. And the universe has a deterministic gravitational field pulling towards the most fun and he’s just a player in that game. So from that perspective, I think it seems like something like that is inevitable.
Andrew Huberman (00:36:14) Like a little scrap in the parking lot of Facebook or something like that?
Lex Fridman (00:36:17) Exactly.
Andrew Huberman (00:36:18) Sorry, Meta. But it looks like they’re training for real and Zuck has competed, right, in jiu jitsu?
Lex Fridman (00:36:23) So I think he is approaching it as a sport, Elon is approaching it as a spectacle. And I mean, the way he talks about it, he’s a huge fan of history. He talks about all the warriors that have fought throughout history. Look, he wants to really do it at the Coliseum. And the Coliseum is for 400 years, there’s so much great writing about this, I think over 400,000 people have died in the Coliseum, gladiators.
(00:36:52) So this is this historic place that sheds so much blood, so much fear, so much anticipation of battle, all of this. So he loves this kind of spectacle and also, the meme of it, the hilarious absurdity of it. The two tech CEOs are battling it out on sand in a place where gladiators fought to the death and then bears and lions ate prisoners as part of the execution process.
Andrew Huberman (00:37:21) Well, it’s also going to be an instance where Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk exchange bodily fluids. They bleed. That’s one of the things about fighting. I think it was in that book. It’s a great book. Fighter’s Heart, where he talks about the sort of the intimacy of sparring. I only rolled jiu jitsu with you once but there was a period of time where I boxed which I don’t recommend.
(00:37:43) I got hit. I hit some guys and definitely got hit back. I’d spar on Wednesday nights when I lived on San Diego. And when you spar with somebody, even if they hurt you, especially if they hurt you, you see that person afterwards and there’s an intimacy, right? It was in that book, Fighter’s Heart, where he explains, you’re exchanging bodily fluids with a stranger and you’re in your primitive mind and so there’s an intimacy there that persists so-
Lex Fridman (00:38:13) Well, you go together through a process of fear, anxiety like-
Andrew Huberman (00:38:18) Yeah. When they get you, you nod. I mean, you watch somebody catch somebody. Not so much in professional fighting, but if people are sparring, they catch you, you acknowledge that they caught you like, “He got me there.”
Lex Fridman (00:38:29) And on the flip side of that, so we trained and then after that, we played Diablo 4.
Andrew Huberman (00:38:34) I don’t know what that is. I don’t play video games. I’m sorry.
Lex Fridman (00:38:37) But it’s a video game, so it’s a pretty intense combat in the video… You’re fighting demons and dragons-
Andrew Huberman (00:38:45) Oh, okay. Last video game I played was Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Lex Fridman (00:38:48) There you go. That’s pretty close.
Andrew Huberman (00:38:49) I met him recently. I went on his podcast.
Lex Fridman (00:38:51) You went… Wait.
Andrew Huberman (00:38:52) It hasn’t come out yet.
Lex Fridman (00:38:52) Oh, it hasn’t come out? Okay.
Andrew Huberman (00:38:54) Yeah. I asked Mike… His kids are great. They came in there. They’re super smart kids. Goodness gracious. They ask great questions. I asked Mike what he did with the piece of Evander’s ear that he bit off.
Lex Fridman (00:39:08) Did he remember?
Andrew Huberman (00:39:09) Yeah. He’s like, “I gave it back to him.”
Lex Fridman (00:39:09) Here you go. Sorry about that.
Andrew Huberman (00:39:14) He sells edibles that are in the shape of ears with a little bite out of it. Yeah. His life has been incredible. He’s intimate. Yeah. His family, you get the sense that they’re really a great family. They’re really-
Lex Fridman (00:39:30) Mike Tyson?
Andrew Huberman (00:39:30) Mm-hmm.
Lex Fridman (00:39:31) That’s a heck of a journey right there of a man.
Andrew Huberman (00:39:33) Yeah. My now friend, Tim Armstrong, like I said, lead singer from Rancid. He put it best. He said that Mike Tyson’s life is Shakespearean, down, up, down, up and just that the arcs of his life are just… Sort of an only in America kind of tale too, right?


Lex Fridman (00:39:52) So speaking of Shakespeare, I’ve recently gotten to know Neri Oxman who’s this incredible scientist that works at the intersection of nature and engineering and she reminded me of this Anna Akhmatova line. This is this great Soviet poet that I really love from over a century ago that each of our lives is a Shakespearean drama raised to the thousand degree. So I have to ask, why do you think humans are attracted to this kind of Shakespearean drama? Is there some aspect we’ve been talking about the subconscious mind that pulls us towards the drama, even though the place of mental health is peace?
Andrew Huberman (00:40:38) Yes and yes.
Lex Fridman (00:40:39) Do you have some of that?
Andrew Huberman (00:40:41) Draw towards-
Lex Fridman (00:40:42) Drama?
Andrew Huberman (00:40:42) Drama? Yeah.
Lex Fridman (00:40:45) If you look at the empirical data.
Andrew Huberman (00:40:46) Yes, I mean… Right. If I look at the empirical data, I mean, I think about who I chose to work for as an undergraduate, right? I was a… Barely finished high school, finally get to college, barely… This is really embarrassing and not something to aspire to. I was thrown out of the dorms for fighting-
Lex Fridman (00:41:05) Nice.
Andrew Huberman (00:41:05) Barely passed my classes. The girlfriend and I split up. I mean, I was living in a squat, got into a big fight. I was getting in trouble with the law. I eventually got my act together, go back to school, start working for somebody. Who do I choose to work for? A guy who’s an ex-navy guy who smokes cigarettes in the fume hood, drinks coffee, and we’re injecting rats with MDMA. And I was drawn to the personality, his energy, but I also… He was a great scientist, worked out a lot on a thermal regulation in the brain and more.
(00:41:38) Go to graduate school, I’m working for somebody, and decide that working in her laboratory wasn’t quite right for me. So I’m literally sneaking into the laboratory next door and working for the woman next door because I liked the relationships that she had to a certain set of questions and she was a quirky person. So drawn to drama but drawn to… I like characters. I like people that have texture. And I’m not drawn to raw ambition, I’m drawn to people that seem to have a real passion for what they do and a uniqueness to them that I… Not kind of, I’ll just say how it is. I can feel their heart for what they do and I’m drawn to that and that can be good.
(00:42:20) It’s the same reason I went to work for Ben Barris as a post-doc. It wasn’t because he was the first transgender member of the National Academy of Sciences, that was just a feature of who he was. I loved how he loved glial. He would talk about these cells like they were the most enchanting things that he’d ever seen in his life. And I was like, “This is the biggest nerd I’ve ever met and I love him.” I think I’m drawn to that.
(00:42:42) This is another thing that Conti elaborates on quite a bit more in the series on mental health coming out. But there are different drives within us, there are aggressive drives. Not always for fighting but for intense interaction. I mean, look at Twitter. Look at some of the… People clearly have an aggressive drive. There’s also a pleasure drive. Some people also have a strong pleasure drive. They want to experience pleasure through food, through sex, through friendship, through adventure. But I think the Shakespearean drama is the drama of the different drives in different ratios in different people.
(00:43:21) I know somebody and she’s incredibly kind. Has an extremely high pleasure drive, loves taking great care of herself and people around her through food and through retreats and through all these things and makes spaces beautiful everywhere she goes. And gifts these things that are just so unbelievably feminine and incredible. These gifts to people and then kind and thoughtful about what they like. And then.. But I would say, very little aggressive drive from my read.
(00:43:53) And then, I know other people who just have a ton of aggressive drive and very little pressure drive and I think… So there’s this alchemy that exists where people have these things in different ratios. And then, you blend in the differences in the chromosomes and differences in hormones and differences in personal history and what you end up with is a species that creates incredible recipes of drama but also peace, also relief from drama, contentment.
(00:44:21) I mean, I realize this isn’t the exact topic of the question. But someone I know very dearly, actually an ex-girlfriend of mine, long- term partner of mine, sent me something recently and I think it hit the nail on the head. Which is that ideally for a man, they eventually settle where they find and feel peace, where they feel peaceful, where they can be themselves and feel peaceful. Now, I’m sure there’s an equivalent or mirror image of that for women but this particular post that she sent was about men and I totally agree.
(00:44:54) And so, it isn’t always that we’re seeking friction. But for periods of our life, we seek friction, drama, adventure, excitement, fights, and doing hard, hard things. And then I think at some point, I’m certainly coming to this point now where it’s like, “Yeah. That’s all great and checked a lot of boxes.” But I had a lot of close calls, flew really close to the sun on a lot of things with life and limb and heart and spirit and some people close to us didn’t make it. And sometimes, not making it means the career they wanted went off a cliff or their health went off a cliff or their life went off a cliff. But I think that there’s also the Shakespearean drama of the characters that exit the play and are living their lives happily in the backdrop. It just doesn’t make for as much entertainment.
Lex Fridman (00:45:49) That’s one other thing, you could say, is the benefit of getting older is finding the Shakespearean drama less appealing or finding the joy in the peace.
Andrew Huberman (00:46:01) Yeah. Definitely. I mean, I think there’s real peace with age. I think the other thing is this notion of checking boxes is a real thing, for me anyway. I have a morning meditation that I do. Well, I wake up now, I get my sunlight, I hydrate, I use the bathroom. I do all the things that I talk about. I’ve started a practice of prayer in the last year which is new-ish for me which is we could talk about-
Lex Fridman (00:46:27) In the morning?
Andrew Huberman (00:46:27) Yeah.
Lex Fridman (00:46:28) Can you talk about it a little bit?
Andrew Huberman (00:46:29) Sure. Yeah. And then, I have a meditation that I do that actually is where I think through with the different roles that I play. So I start very basic. I say, “Okay. I’m an animal,” like we are biologically animals, human. “I’m a man. I’m a scientist. I’m a teacher. I’m a friend. I’m a brother. I’m a son,” I have this list and I think about the different roles that I have and the roles that I still want in my life going forward that I haven’t yet fulfilled. It just takes me… It’s an inventory of where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going as they say. And I don’t know why I do it but I started doing it this last year, I think, because it helps me understand just how many different contexts I have to exist in and remind myself that there’s still more that I haven’t done that I’m excited about.
Lex Fridman (00:47:24) So within each of those contexts, there’s things that you want to accomplish to define that.
Andrew Huberman (00:47:30) Yeah, and I’m ambitious so I think… I’m a brother. I have an older sister and I love her tremendously and I think, “I want to be the best brother I can be to her,” which means maybe a call, maybe just we do an annual trip together for our birthdays. Our birthdays are close together. We always go to New York for our birthdays and we’ve gone for the last three, four years. It’s like really reminding myself of that role not because I’ll forget, but because I have all these other roles I’ll get pulled into.
(00:47:53) I say the first one, “I’m an animal,” because I have to remember that I have a body that needs care like any of us. I need sleep, I need food, I need hydration, I need… That I’m human, that the brain of a human is marvelously complex but also marvelously self-defeating at times. And so, I’m thinking about these things in the context of the different roles. And the whole thing takes about four or five minutes and I just find it brings me a certain amount of clarity that then allows me to ratchet into the day.
(00:48:22) The prayer piece, I think I’ve been reluctant to talk about until now because I don’t believe in pushing religion on people. And I think that… And I’m not, it’s a highly individual thing and I do believe that one can be an atheist and still pray or agnostic and still pray. But for me, it really came about through understanding that there are certain aspects of myself that I just couldn’t resolve on my own. And no matter how much therapy, no matter how much… And I haven’t done a lot of it. But no matter how much plant medicine or other forms of medicine or exercise or podcasting or science or friendship or any of that, I was just not going to resolve.
(00:49:17) And so, I started this because a male friend said, “Prayer is powerful,” and I said, “Well, how?” And he said, “I don’t know how but it can allow you to get outside yourself. Let you give up control and at the same time, take control.” I don’t even like saying take control. But the whole notion is that… And again, forgive me, but there’s no other way to say it. The whole notion is that God works through us. Whatever God is to you, he, him, her, life force, nature, whatever it is to you, that it works through us.
(00:49:59) And so, I do a prayer. I’ll just describe it where I make an ask to help remove my character defects. I pray to God to help remove my character defects so that I can show up better in all the roles of my life and do good work which for me is learning and teaching. And so you might say, “Well, how is that different than a meditation?” Well, I’m acknowledging that there is something bigger than me, bigger than nature as I understand it, that I cannot understand or control nor do I want to, and I’m just giving over to that. And does that make me less of a scientist? I sure as hell hope not. I certainly know… There’s the head of our neurosciences at Stanford until recently. You should talk to him directly about it. Bill Newsome has talked about his religious life.
(00:50:52) For me, it’s really a way of getting outside myself and then understanding how I fit into this bigger picture. And the character defects part is real, right? I’m a human. I have defects. I got a lot of flaws in me like anybody and trying to acknowledge them and asking for help in removing them. Not magically but through right action, through my right action. So I do that every morning.
(00:51:23) And I have to say that it’s helped. It’s helped a lot. It’s helped me be better to myself, be better to other people. I still make mistakes but it’s becoming a bigger part of my life. And I never thought I’d talk like this but I think it’s clear to me that if we don’t believe in something… Again, it doesn’t have to be traditional, standardized religion, but if we don’t believe in something bigger than ourselves, we, at some level, will self-destruct. I really think so.
(00:52:04) And it’s powerful in a way that all the other stuff, meditation and all the tools, is not because it’s really operating at a much deeper and bigger level. Yeah. I think that’s all I can talk about it. Mostly because I’m still working out. The scientists in me wants to understand how it works and I want to understand. And the point is to just go, for lack of a better language for it, “There’s a higher power than me and what I can control. I’m giving up control on certain things.” And somehow, that restores a sense of agency for right action and better action.
Lex Fridman (00:52:46) I think perhaps a part of that is just the humility that comes with acknowledging there’s something bigger and more powerful than you.
Andrew Huberman (00:52:53) And that you can’t control everything. I mean, you go through life as a hard driving person, forward center of mass. I remember being that way since I was little. It’s like in Legos. I’m like, “I’m going to make all the Legos.” I was like, on the weekends, learning about medieval weapons and then giving lectures about it in class when I was five or six years old or learning about tropical fish and cataloging all of them at the store. And then, organizing it and making my dad drive me or my mom drive me in some fish store and then spending all my time there until they throw me out. All of that. But I also remember my entire life, I would secretly pray when things were good and things weren’t good. But mostly, when things weren’t good because it’s important to pray. For me, it’s important to pray each morning regardless.
(00:53:35) But when things weren’t right, I couldn’t make sense of them, I would secretly pray. But I felt ashamed of that for whatever reason. And then, it was once in college, I distinctly remember I was having a hard time with a number of things and I took a run down to SAN Speech. It was at UC Santa Barbara. And I remember I was like, “I don’t know if I even have the right to do this but I’m just praying,” and I just prayed for the ability to be as brutally honest with myself and with other people as I possibly could be about a particular situation I was in at that time.
(00:54:13) I mean, I think now it’s probably safe to say I’d gone off to college because of a high school girlfriend. Essentially, she was my family. Frankly, more than my biological family was at a certain stage of life and we’d reached a point where we were diverging and it was incredibly painful. It was like losing everything I had. And it was like, “What do I do? How do I manage this?” I was ready to quit and join the fire service just to support us so that we could move forward and it was just…
(00:54:42) But praying, just saying, “I can’t figure this out on my own.” It’s like, “I can’t figure this out on my own,” and how frustrating that no number of friends could tell me and inner wisdom couldn’t tell me. And eventually, it led me to the right answers. She and I are friendly friends to this day. She’s happily married with a child and we’re on good terms. But I think it’s a scary thing but it’s the best thing when you just, “I can’t control all of this.” And asking for help, I think is also the piece. You’re not asking for some magic hand to come down and take care of it but you’re asking for the help to come through you so that your body is used to do these right works, right action.
Lex Fridman (00:55:24) Isn’t it interesting that this secret thing that you’re almost embarrassed by, that you did as a child is something you… It’s another thing you do as you get older, is you realize those things are part of you and it’s actually a beautiful thing.
Andrew Huberman (00:55:36) Yeah. A lot of the content of the podcast is deep academic content and we talk about everything from eating disorders to bipolar disorder to depression, a lot of different topics. But the tools or the protocols, as we say, the sunlight viewing and all the rest, a lot of that stuff is just stuff I wish I had known when I was in graduate school. If I’d known to go outside every once in a while and get some sunlight, not just stay in the lab, I might not have hit a really tough round of depression when I was a post-doc and working twice as hard.
(00:56:09) And when my body would break down or I’d get sick a lot, I don’t get sick much anymore. Occasionally, about once every 18 months to two years, I’ll get something. But I used to break my foot skateboarding all the time, I couldn’t understand. What’s wrong with my body? I’m getting injured. I can’t do what everyone else can. Now, I developed more slowly. I had a long arc of puberty so that was part of it. I was still developing.
(00:56:31) But how to get your body stronger, how to build endurance, no one told me. The information wasn’t there. So a lot of what I put out there is the information that I wish I had. Because once I had it, I was like, “Wow.” A, this stuff really works. B, it’s grounded in something real. Sometimes, certain protocols are a combination of animal and human studies, sometimes clinical trials. Sometimes there’s some mechanistic conjecture for some, not all, I always make clear which. But in the end, figuring out how things work so that we can be happier, healthier, more productive, suffer less, reduce the suffering of the world. And I think that… Well, I’ll just say thank you for asking about the prayer piece. Again, I’m not pushing or even encouraging it on anyone. I’ve just found it to be tremendously useful for me.

Chimp Empire

Lex Fridman (00:57:33) I mean, about prayer in general. You said information and figuring out how to get stronger, healthier, smarter, all those kinds of things. A part of me believes that deeply. You can gain a lot of knowledge and wisdom through learning. But a part of me believes that all the wisdom I need was there when I was 11 and 12 years old.
Andrew Huberman (00:57:57) And then, it got cluttered over. Well, listen, I can’t wait for you and Conti to talk again. Because when he gets going about the subconscious and the amount of this that sits below the surface like an iceberg. And the fact that when we’re kids, we’re not obscuring a lot of that subconscious as much. And sometimes, that can look a little more primitive. I mean, a kid that’s disappointed will let you know. A kid that’s excited will let you know and you feel that raw exuberance or that raw dismayal.
(00:58:32) And I think that as we grow older, we learn to cover that stuff up. We wear masks and we have to, to be functional. I don’t think we all want to go around just being completely raw. But as you said, as you get older, you get to this point where you go, “Eh. What are we really trying to protect anyway?”
(00:58:53) I mean, I have this theory that certainly my experience has taught me that a lot of people but I’ll talk about men because that’s what I know best, whether or not they show up strong or not, that they’re really afraid of being weak. They’re just afraid… Sometimes, the strength is even a way to try and not be weak which is different than being strong for its own sake. I’m not just talking about physical strength. I’m talking about intellectual strength. I’m talking about money. I’m talking about expressing drive. I’ve been watching this series a little bit of Chimp Empire.
Lex Fridman (00:59:34) Oh, yeah.
Andrew Huberman (00:59:35) So Chimp Empire is amazing, right? They have the head chimp. He’s not the head chimp but the alpha in the group and he’s getting older. And so, what does he do? Every once in a while, he goes on these vigor displays. He goes and he grabs a branch. He starts breaking them. He starts thrashing them. And he’s incredibly strong and they’re all watching. I mean, I immediately think of people like they’re deadlifting on Instagram and I just think, “Displays of vigor.” This is just the primate showing displays of vigor. Now, what’s interesting is that he’s doing that specifically to say, “Hey, I still have what it takes to lead this troop.” Then there are the ones that are subordinate to him but not so far behind-
Lex Fridman (01:00:18) It seems to be that there’s a very clear numerical ranking.
Andrew Huberman (01:00:21) There is.
Lex Fridman (01:00:22) Like it’s clear who’s the Number 2, Number 3-
Andrew Huberman (01:00:24) Oh, yeah.
Lex Fridman (01:00:24) I mean, probably-
Andrew Huberman (01:00:25) Who gets to mate first, who gets to eat first, this exists in other animal societies too but Bob Sapolsky would be a great person to talk about this with because he knows obviously tremendous amount about it and I know just the top contour. But yeah, so Number 2, 3, and 4 males are aware that he’s doing these vigor displays. But they’re also aware because in primate evolution, they got some extra forebrain too. Not as much as us but they got some. And they’re aware that the vigor displays are displays that… Because they’ve done them as well in a different context, might not just be displays of vigor but might also be an insurance policy against people seeing weakness.
(01:01:04) So now, they start using that prefrontal cortex to do some interesting things. So in primate world, if a male is friendly with another male, wants to affiliate with him and say, “Hey, I’m backing you,” they’ll go over and they’ll pick off the little parasites and eat them. And so, the grooming is extremely important. In fact, if they want to ostracize or kill one of the members of their troop, they will just leave it alone. No one will groom it. And then, there’s actually a really disturbing sequence in that show of then the parasites start to eat away on their skin. They get infections. They have issues. No one will mate with them. They have other issues as well and can potentially die.
(01:01:44) So the interesting thing is Number 2 and 3 start to line up a strategy to groom this guy but they are actually thinking about overtaking the entire troop setting in a new alpha. But the current alpha did that to get where he is so he knows that they’re doing this grooming thing, but they might not be sincere about the grooming. So what does he do? He takes the whole troop on a raid to another troop and sees who will fight for him and who won’t.

Overt vs covert contracts

(01:02:14) This is advanced contracting of behavior for a species that normally we don’t think of as sophisticated as us. So it’s very interesting and it gets to something that I hope we’ll have an opportunity to talk about because it’s something that I’m obsessed with lately, is this notion of overt versus covert contracts, right? There are overt contracts where you exchange work for money or you exchange any number of things in an overt way. But then, there are covert contracts, and those take on a very different form and always lead to, in my belief, bad things.
Lex Fridman (01:02:47) Well, how much of human and chimp relationships are overt versus covert?
Andrew Huberman (01:02:53) Well, here’s one thing that we know is true. Dogs and humans, the dog to human relationship is 100% overt. They don’t manipulate you. Now, you could say they do in the sense that they learn that if they look a certain way or roll on their back, they get food. But there’s no banking of that behavior for a future date where then they’re going to undermine you and take your position so in that sense. Dogs can be a little bit manipulative in some sense.
(01:03:23) But now, okay. So overt contract would be we both want to do some work together, we’re going to make some money, you get X percentage, I get X percentage. It’s overt. Covert contract which is, in my opinion, always bad, would be we’re going to do some work together, you’re going to get a percentage of money, I’m going to get a percentage of money. Could look just like the overt contract but secretly, I’m resentful that I got the percentage that I got. So what I start doing is covertly taking something else. What do I take? Maybe I take the opportunity to jab you verbally every once in a while. Maybe I take the opportunity to show up late. Maybe I take the opportunity to get to know one of your coworkers so that I might start a business with them. That’s covert contracting.
(01:04:14) And you see this sometimes in romantic relationships. One person, we won’t set the male or female in any direction here and just say it’s, “I’ll make you feel powerful if you make me feel desired.” Okay. Great. There’s nothing explicitly wrong about that contract if they both know and they both agree. But what if it’s, “I’ll do that but I’ll have kids with you so you feel powerful. You’ll have kids with me so I feel desired. But secretly, I don’t want to do that,” or one person says, “I don’t want to do that,” or both don’t. So what they end up doing is saying, “Okay. So I expect something else. I expect you to do certain things for me,” or, “I expect you to pay for certain things for me.”
(01:04:53) Covert contracts are the signature of everything bad. Overt contracts are the signature of all things good. And I think about this a lot because I’ve seen a lot of examples of this. I’ve… Like anyone, we participate in these things whether or not we want to or not and the thing that gets transacted the most is… Well, I should say the things that get transacted the most are the overt things. You’ll see money, time, sex, property, whatever it happens to be, information. But what ends up happening is that when people, I believe, don’t feel safe, they feel threatened in some way, like they don’t feel safe in a certain interaction, what they do is they start taking something else while still engaging in the exchange. And I’ll tell you, if there’s one thing about human nature that’s bad, it’s that feature.
(01:05:57) Why that feature? Or, “Is it a bug or a feature?” as you engineers like to say. I think it’s because we were allocated a certain extra amount of prefrontal cortex that makes us more sophisticated than a dog, more sophisticated than a chimpanzee, but they do it too. And it’s because it’s often harder, in the short term, to deal with the real sense of, “This is scary. This feels threatening,” than it is to play out all the iterations. It takes a lot of brain work. You’re playing chess and go simultaneously trying to figure out where things are going to end up and we just don’t know.
(01:06:37) So it’s a way, I think, of creating a false sense of certainty. But I’ll tell you, covert contracts, the only certainty is that it’s going to end badly. The question is, how badly? Conversely, overt contracts always end well, always. The problem with overt contracts is that you can’t be certain that the other person is not engaging in a covert contract. You can only take responsibility for your own contracting.
Lex Fridman (01:07:01) Well, one of the challenges of being human is looking at another human being and figuring out their way of being, their behavior, which of the two types of contracts it represents because they look awfully the same on the surface. And one of the challenges of being human, the decision we all make is, are you somebody that takes a leap of trust and trust other humans and are willing to take the hurt or are you going to be cynical and skeptical and avoid most interactions until they, over a long period of time, prove your trust?
Andrew Huberman (01:07:37) Yeah. I never liked the phrase history repeats itself when it comes to humans because it doesn’t apply if the people or the person is actively working to resolve their own flaws. I do think that if people are willing to do dedicated, introspective work, go into their subconscious, do the hard work, have hard conversations, and get better at hard conversations, something that I’m-
Andrew Huberman (01:08:00) Have hard conversations and get better at hard conversations, something that I’m constantly trying to get better at. I think people can change, but they have to want to change.
Lex Fridman (01:08:09) It does seem like, deep down, we all can tell the difference between overt and covert. We have a good sense. I think one of the benefits of having this characteristic of mine, where I value loyalty, I’ve been extremely fortunate to spend most of my life in overt relationships and I think that creates a really fulfilling life.

Age and health

Andrew Huberman (01:08:31) But there’s also this thing that maybe we’re in this portion of the podcast now, but I’ve experienced this-
Lex Fridman (01:08:36) I should say that this is late at night, we’re talking about.
Andrew Huberman (01:08:38) That’s right, certainly late for me, but I’m two hours… I came in today on… I’m still in California time.
Lex Fridman (01:08:43) And we should also say that you came here to wish me a happy birthday. [inaudible 01:08:46].
Andrew Huberman (01:08:47) I did. I did and-
Lex Fridman (01:08:48) And the podcast is just a fun, last-minute thing I suggested.
Andrew Huberman (01:08:51) Yeah, some close friends of yours have arranged a dinner that I’m really looking forward to. I won’t say which night, but it’s the next couple of nights. Your circadian clock is one of the most robust features of your biology. I know you can be nocturnal or you can be diurnal. We know you’re mostly nocturnal, certain times of the year Lex, but there are very, very few people can get away with no sleep. Very few people can get away with a chaotic sleep-wake schedule. So you have to obey a 24-hour, AKA circadian, rhythm if you want to remain healthy of mind and body. We also have to acknowledge that aging is in linear, right? So-
Lex Fridman (01:09:34) What do you mean?
Andrew Huberman (01:09:34) Well, the degree of change between years 35 and 40, is not going to be the degree of change between 40 and 45. But I will say this, I’m 48 and I feel better in every aspect of my psychology and biology now, than I did when I was in my twenties. Yeah, quality of thought, time spent, physically, I can do what I did then, which probably says more about what I could do then than what I can do now. But if you keep training, you can continue to get better. The key is to not get injured, and I’ve never trained super hard. I’ve trained hard, but I’ve been cautious to not, for instance, weight train more than two days in a row. I do a split which is basically three days a week, and the other day’s a run, take one full day off, take a week off every 12 to 16 weeks. I’ve not been the guy hurling the heaviest weights or running the furthest distance, but I have been the guy who’s continuing to do it when a lot of my friends are talking about knee injuries, talking about-
Lex Fridman (01:10:36) Hey. Hey. Hey, hey.
Andrew Huberman (01:10:36) I’m just…
Lex Fridman (01:10:37) [inaudible 01:10:37], I-
Andrew Huberman (01:10:38) But of course, with sport you can’t account for everything the same way you can with fitness, and I have to acknowledge that. Unless one is powerlifting, weightlifting and running, you can get hurt, but it’s not like skateboarding where, if you’re going for it, you’re going to get hurt. That’s just, you’re landing on concrete and with jujitsu, people are trying to hurt you so that you say stop.
Lex Fridman (01:11:03) No, but [inaudible 01:11:04]-
Andrew Huberman (01:11:03) So with a sport it’s different, and these days, I don’t really do a sport any longer. I work out to stay fit. I used to continue to do sports, but I kept getting hurt and frankly now, a rolled ankle… I may put out a little small skateboard part in 2024 because people have been saying, “We want to see the kickflip.” Then I’ll just say, “Well, I’ll do a heel flip instead, but okay.” I might put out a little part because some of the guys that work on our podcast are from DC. I think by now, I should at least do it just to show I’m not making it up, and I probably will. But I think doing a sport is different. That’s how you get hurt-
Lex Fridman (01:11:46) [inaudible 01:11:46].
Andrew Huberman (01:11:45) Overuse and doing an actual sport, and so hat tip to those who do an actual sport.
Lex Fridman (01:11:53) And that’s a difficult decision a lot of people have to make. I have to make with jiujitsu, for example, if you just look empirically. I’ve trained really hard from all my life, in grappling sports and fighting sports and all this kind of stuff, and I’ve avoided injury for the most part. And I would say, I would attribute that to training a lot. Sounds counterintuitive, but training well and safely and correctly, keeping good form saying, “No,” when I need to say no, but training a lot, and taking it seriously. Now when it’s training, it’s really a side thing, I find that the injuries becomes a higher and higher probability.
Andrew Huberman (01:12:34) But when you’re just doing it every once in a while?
Lex Fridman (01:12:35) Every once in a while.
Andrew Huberman (01:12:36) Yeah. I think you said something really important, the saying, “No.” The times I have gotten hurt training, is when someone’s like, “Hey, let’s hop on this workout together,” and it becomes, let’s challenge each other to do something outrageous. Sometimes that can be fun though. I went up to Cam Hanes’ gym and he does these very high repetition weight workouts that are in circuit form. I was sore for two weeks, but I learned a lot and didn’t get injured, and yes, we ate bow-hunted elk afterwards.
Lex Fridman (01:13:05) Nice.
Andrew Huberman (01:13:06) Yeah.
Lex Fridman (01:13:06) But the injury has been a really difficult psychological thing for me because… So I’ve injured my pinky finger, I’ve injured my knee.
Andrew Huberman (01:13:16) Yeah, your kitchen is filled with splints.
Lex Fridman (01:13:18) Splints. I’m trying to figure out-
Andrew Huberman (01:13:24) It’s like if you look in Lex’s kitchen, there’s some really good snacks, I had some right before. He’s very good about keeping cold drinks in the fridge and all the water has element in it, which is great.
Lex Fridman (01:13:35) Yeah, yeah.
Andrew Huberman (01:13:36) I love that. But then there’s a whole hospital’s worth of splints.
Lex Fridman (01:13:41) Yeah, I’m trying to figure it out. So here’s the thing, you… The finger pop out like this, right? Pinky finger. I’m trying to figure out how do I splint in such a way that I can still program, still play guitar, but protect this torque motion that creates a huge amount of pain. And so [inaudible 01:13:58]-
Andrew Huberman (01:13:58) [inaudible 01:13:58] you have a jiujitsu injury.
Lex Fridman (01:13:59) Jiujitsu, but it’s probably more like a skateboarding-style injury, which is, it’s unexpected in a silly-
Andrew Huberman (01:14:09) It’s a thing that happens in a second. I didn’t break my foot doing anything important.
Lex Fridman (01:14:13) Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (01:14:13) I broke my fifth metatarpal stepping off a curb.
Lex Fridman (01:14:18) Yep.
Andrew Huberman (01:14:19) So that’s why they’re called accidents. If you get hurt doing something awesome, that’s a trophy that you have to work through. It’s part of your payment to the universe. If you get hurt stepping off a curb or doing something stupid, it’s called a stupid accident.

Sexual selection

Lex Fridman (01:14:39) Since we brought up Chimp Empire, let me ask you about relationships. I think we’ve talked about relationships.
Andrew Huberman (01:14:44) Yeah, I only date Homo sapiens.
Lex Fridman (01:14:45) Homo sapiens.
Andrew Huberman (01:14:46) It’s the morning meditation.
Lex Fridman (01:14:49) The night is still young. You are human. No, but you are also animal. Don’t sell yourself short.
Andrew Huberman (01:14:55) No, I always say listen, any discussion on the Huberman Lab Podcast, about sexual health or anything, will always the critical fours: consensual, age appropriate, context appropriate, species appropriate.
Lex Fridman (01:15:06) Species appropriate, wow. Can I just tell you about sexual selection? I’ve been watching Life in Color: With David Attenborough. I’ve been watching a lot of nature documentaries. Talking about inner peace, it brings me so much peace to watch nature, at its worst and at its best. So Life in Color is a series on Netflix where it presents some of the most colorful animals on earth, and tells their story of how they got there through natural selection. So you have the peacock with the feathers and it’s just such incredible colors. The peacock has these tail feathers, the male, that are gigantic and they’re super colorful and they’re these eyes on it. It’s not eyes, it’s eye-like areas. And they wiggle their ass to show the tail, they wiggle the tails.
Andrew Huberman (01:15:55) The eyespots, they’re called.
Lex Fridman (01:15:56) The eyespots, yes. Thank you. You know this probably way better than me, I’m just quoting David Attenborough.
Andrew Huberman (01:15:56) No, no, please continue.
Lex Fridman (01:16:02) But it’s just, I’m watching this and then the female is as boring looking as… She has no colors or nothing, but she’s standing there bored, just seeing this entire display. And I’m just wondering the entirety of life on earth… Well, not the entirety. Post bacteria, is like, at least in part, maybe in large part, can be described through this process of natural selection, of sexual selection. So dudes fighting and then women selecting. It seems like, just the entirety of that series shows some incredible birds and insects and shrimp. They’re all beautiful and colorful, and just-
Andrew Huberman (01:16:46) Mantis shrimp.
Lex Fridman (01:16:46) Mantis shrimp. They’re incredible, and it’s all about getting laid. It’s fascinating. There’s nothing like watching that and Chimp Empire to make you realize, we humans, that’s the same thing. That’s all we’re doing. And all the beautiful variety, all the bridges and the buildings and the rockets and the internet, all of that is, at least in part, a product of this kind of showing off for each other. And all the wars and all of this… Anyway, I’m not sure wat I’m asking. Oh, relationships.
Andrew Huberman (01:17:22) Well, right, before you ask about relationships, I think what’s clear is that every species, it seems, animal species, wants to make more of itself and protect its young.
Lex Fridman (01:17:38) Well, the protect its young, is non-obvious.
Andrew Huberman (01:17:41) So not destroy enough of itself that it can’t get more to reproductive competent age. I think that we healthy people have a natural reflex to protect children.
Lex Fridman (01:18:00) Well, I don’t know that-
Andrew Huberman (01:18:00) And those that can’t-
Lex Fridman (01:18:03) Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait a minute. I’ve seen enough animals that are murdering the children of some other-
Andrew Huberman (01:18:06) Sure, there’s even siblicide. First of all, I just want to say that I was delighted in your delight, around animal kingdom stuff, because this is a favorite theme of mine as well. But there’s, for instance, some fascinating data on, for instance, for those that grew up on farms, they’ll be familiar with freemartins. You know about freemartins? They’re cows that have multiple calves inside them, and there’s a situation in which the calves will, if there’s more than one inside, will secrete chemicals that will hormonally castrate the calf next to them, so they can’t reproduce. So already in the womb they are fighting for future resources. That’s how early this stuff can start. So it’s chemical warfare in the womb, against the siblings. Sometimes there’s outright siblicide. Siblings are born, they kill one another. This also becomes biblical stories, right? There are instances of cuttlefish, beautiful cephalopods like octopuses, and that is the plural as we made clear.
Lex Fridman (01:19:12) Yeah, it’s a meme on the internet.
Andrew Huberman (01:19:15) Oh, yeah? That became a meme, our little discussion two years ago.
Lex Fridman (01:19:18) Yeah, it spread pretty quick.
Andrew Huberman (01:19:19) Oh, yeah.
Lex Fridman (01:19:19) And now we just resurfaced it. [inaudible 01:19:22].
Andrew Huberman (01:19:22) The dismay in your voice is so amusing. In any event, the male cuttlefish will disguise themselves as female cuttlefish, infiltrate the female cuttlefish group, and then mate with them, all sorts of types of covert operations.
Lex Fridman (01:19:42) Yep, there we go.
Andrew Huberman (01:19:42) So I think that…
Lex Fridman (01:19:46) Callbacks.
Andrew Huberman (01:19:46) It’s like a drinking game, where every time we say covert contract, in this episode, you have to take a shot of espresso. Please don’t do that. You’d be dead by the end. [inaudible 01:19:56].
Lex Fridman (01:19:56) So it actually is just a small tangent, it does make me wonder how much intelligence covert contracts require. It seems like not much. If you can do it in the animal kingdom, there’s some kind of instinctual… It is based perhaps in fear.
Andrew Huberman (01:20:10) Yeah, it could be simple algorithm. If there’s some ambiguity about numbers and I’m not with these guys, and then flip to the alternate strategy. I actually have a story about this that I think is relevant. I used to have cuttlefish in my lab in San Diego. We went and got them from a guy out in the desert. We put them in the lab. It was amazing. And they had a postdoc who was studying prey capture in cuttlefish. They have a very ballistic, extremely rapid strike and grab of the shrimp, and we were using high-speed cameras to characterize all this. Looking at binocular, they normally have their eyes on the side of their head, when they see something they want to eat the eyes translocate to the front, which allows them stereopsis death perception, allows them to strike. We were doing some unilateral eye removals they would miss, et cetera.
(01:20:56) Okay, this has to do with eyespots. This was during a government shutdown period where the ghost shrimp that they normally feed eat on, that we would ship in from the gulf down here, weren’t available to us. So we had to get different shrimp. And what we noticed was the cuttlefish normally would just sneak up on the shrimp. We learned this by data collection. And if the shrimp was facing them, they would do this thing with their tentacles of enchanting the shrimp. And if the shrimp wasn’t facing them, they wouldn’t do it and they would ballistically grab it and eat them.
(01:21:33) Well, when we got these new shrimp, the new shrimp had eyespots on their tails and then the cuttlefish would do this attempt to enchant, regardless of the position of the ghost shrimp. So what does that mean? Okay, well, it means that there’s some sort of algorithm in the cuttlefish’s mind that says, “Okay, if you see two spots, move your tentacles.” So it can be, as you pointed out, it can be a fairly simple operation, but it looks diabolical. It looks cunning, but all it is strategy B.
Lex Fridman (01:22:03) Yeah, but it’s still somehow emerged. I don’t think that-
Andrew Huberman (01:22:10) Success-
Lex Fridman (01:22:11) … calling it an algorithm doesn’t… I feel like-
Andrew Huberman (01:22:13) Well, there’s a circuit there that gets implemented in a certain context, but that circuit had to evolve.
Lex Fridman (01:22:19) You do realize, super intelligent AI will look at us humans and we’ll say the exact thing. There’s a circuit in there that evolved to do this, the algorithm A and algorithm B, and it’s trivial. And to us humans, it’s fancy and beautiful, and we write poetry about it, but it’s just trivial.
Andrew Huberman (01:22:36) Because we don’t understand the subconscious. Because that AI algorithm cannot see into what it can’t see. It doesn’t understand the under workings of what allows all of this conversation stuff to manifest. And we can’t even see it, how could AI see it? Maybe it will, maybe AI will solve and give us access to our subconscious. Maybe your AI friend or coach, like I think Andreessen and others are arguing is going to happen at some point, is going to say, “Hey Lex, you’re making decisions lately that are not good for you, but it’s because of this algorithm that you picked up in childhood, that if you don’t state your explicit needs upfront, you’re not going to get what you want. So why do it? From now on, you need to actually make a list of every absolutely outrageous thing that you want, no matter how outrageous, and communicate that immediately, and that will work.”
Lex Fridman (01:23:31) We’re talking about cuttlefish and sexual selection, and then we went into some… Where did we go? Then you said you were excited.
Andrew Huberman (01:23:38) Well, I was excited… Well, you were just saying what about these covert contracts, [inaudible 01:23:43] animals do them.
Lex Fridman (01:23:44) Yes, [inaudible 01:23:44].
Andrew Huberman (01:23:43) I think it’s simple contextual engagement of a neural circuit, which is not just nerd speak for saying they do a different strategy. It’s saying that there has to be a circuit there, hardwired circuit, maybe learned, but probably hardwired, that can be engaged, right? You can’t build neural machinery in a moment, you need to build that circuit over time. What is building it over time? You select for it. The cuttlefish that did not have that alternate context-driven circuit, didn’t survive when all the shrimp that they normally eat disappear, and the eyespotted shrimp showed up. And there were a couple that had some miswiring. This is why mutation… Right, X-Men stuff is real. They had a mutation that had some alternate wiring and that wiring got selected for, it became a mutation that was adaptive as opposed to maladaptive.
(01:24:33) This is something people don’t often understand about genetics, is that it only takes a few generations to devolve a trait, make it worse, but it takes a long time to evolve an adaptive trait. There are exceptions to that, but most often that’s true. So a species needs a lot of generations. We are hopefully still evolving as a species. And it takes a long time, to evolve more adaptive traits, but doesn’t take long to devolve adaptive traits, so that you’re getting sicker or you’re not functioning as well. So choose your mate wisely, and that’s perhaps the good segue into sexual selection in humans.


Lex Fridman (01:25:13) [inaudible 01:25:13]. I could tell you you’re good at this. Why did I bring up sexual selection, is good relationships, so sexual selection in humans. I don’t think you’ve done an episode on relationships.
Andrew Huberman (01:25:25) No, I did an episode on attachment but not on relationships.
Lex Fridman (01:25:31) Right.
Andrew Huberman (01:25:31) The series with Conti includes one episode of the four that’s all about relational understanding, and how to select a mate based on matching of drives and-
Lex Fridman (01:25:43) All the demons inside the subconscious, how to match demons that they dance well together or what?
Andrew Huberman (01:25:49) And how generative two people are.
Lex Fridman (01:25:52) What does that mean?
Andrew Huberman (01:25:52) Means how… The way he explains it is, how devoted to creating growth within the context of the family, the relationship, with work.
Lex Fridman (01:26:02) Well, let me ask you about mating rituals and how to find such a relationship. You’re really big on friendships, on the value of friendships.
Andrew Huberman (01:26:02) I am.
Lex Fridman (01:26:13) And that I think extends itself into one of the deepest kinds of friendships you can have, which is a romantic relationship. What mistakes, successes and wisdom can you impart?
Andrew Huberman (01:26:30) Well, I’ve certainly made some mistakes. I’ve also made some good choices in this realm. First of all, we have to define what sort of relationship we’re talking about. If one is looking for a life partner, potentially somebody to establish family with, with or without kids, with or without pets, right? Families can take different forms. I certainly experienced being a family in a prior relationship, where it was the two of us and our two dogs, and it was family. We had our little family. I think, based on my experience, and based on input from friends, who themselves have very successful relationships, I must say, I’ve got friends who are in long-term, monogamous, very happy relationships, where there seems to be a lot of love, a lot of laughter, a lot of challenge and a lot of growth. And both people, it seems, really want to be there and enjoy being there.
Lex Fridman (01:27:41) Just to pause on that, one thing to do, I think, by way of advice, is listen to people who are in long-term successful relationships. That seems dumb, but we both know and are friends with Joe Rogan, who’s been in a long-term, really great relationship and he’s been an inspiration to me. So you take advice from that guy.
Andrew Huberman (01:28:03) Definitely, and several members of my podcast team are in excellent relationships. I think one of the things that rings true, over and over again, in the advice and in my experience, is find someone who’s really a great friend, build a really great friendship with that person. Now obviously not just a friend, if we’re talking romantic relationship, and of course sex is super important, but it should be a part of that particular relationship, alongside or meshed with, the friendship. Can it be a majority of the positive exchange? I suppose it could, but I think the friendship piece is extremely important, because what’s required in a successful relationship, clearly is joy in being together, trust, a desire to share experience, both mundane and more adventurous, support each other, acceptance, a real, maybe even admiration, but certainly delight, in being with the person.
(01:29:18) Earlier we were talking about peace, and I think that that sense of peace comes from knowing that the person you’re in friendship with, or that you’re in romantic relationship, or ideally both, because let’s assume the best romantic relationship includes a friendship component with that person. It’s like you just really delight in their presence, even if it’s a quiet presence. And you delight in seeing them delight in things, that’s clear.
Lex Fridman (01:29:45) Mm-hmm.
Andrew Huberman (01:29:46) The trust piece is huge and that’s where people start, we don’t want to focus on what works, not what doesn’t work, but that’s where, I think, people start engaging in these covert contracts. They’re afraid of being betrayed, so they betray. They’re afraid of giving up too much vulnerability, so they hide their vulnerability, or in the worst cases, they feign vulnerability.
Lex Fridman (01:30:12) Mm-hmm.
Andrew Huberman (01:30:13) Again, that’s a covert contract that just simply undermines everything. It becomes one plus one equals two minus one to infinity. Conversely, I think if people can have really hard conversations, this is something I’ve had to work really hard on in recent years, that I’m still working hard on. But the friendship piece seems to be the thing that rises to the top, when I talk to friends who are in these great relationships, it’s like they have so much respect and love and joy in being with their friend. It’s the person that they want to spend as much of their non-working, non-platonic friendship time with, and the person that they want to experience things with and share things with. And it sounds so canned and cliche nowadays, but I think if you step back and examine how most people go about finding a relationship, like, oh, am I attracted? Of course physical attraction is important and other forms of attraction too, and they enter through that portal, which makes sense. That’s the mating dance, that’s the peacock situation. That’s hopefully not the cuttlefish situation.
(01:31:19) But I think that there seems to be a history of people close to me getting into great relationships, where they were friends for a while first or maybe didn’t sleep together right away, that they actually intentionally deferred on that. This has not been my habit or my experience. I’ve gone the more, I think typical, like, oh, there’s an attraction, like this person, there’s an interest. You explore all dimensions of relationship really quickly except perhaps the moving in part and the having kids part, which because it’s a bigger step, harder to undo without more severe consequences. But I think that whole take it slow thing, I don’t think is about getting to know someone slowly, I think it’s about that physical piece, because that does change the nature of the relationship. And I think it’s because it gets right into the more hardwired, primitive circuitry around our feelings of safety, vulnerability.
(01:32:21) There’s something about romantic and sexual interactions, where it’s almost like it’s assets and liabilities, right?
Lex Fridman (01:32:31) Mm-hmm.
Andrew Huberman (01:32:31) Where people are trying to figure out how much to engage their time and their energy and multiple people. I’m talking about from both sides, male, female or whatever sides, but where it’s like assets and liabilities. And that’s where it starts getting into those complicated contracts early on, I think. And so maybe that’s why if a really great friendship and admiration is established first, even if people are romantically and sexually attracted to one another, then that piece can be added in a little bit later, in a way that really just seals up the whole thing, and then who knows, maybe they spend 90% of their time having sex. I don’t know. That’s not for me to say or decide obviously, but there’s something there, about staying out of a certain amount of risk of having to engage covert contract in order to protect oneself.
Lex Fridman (01:33:29) But I do think love at first sight, this kind of idea is, in part, realizing very quickly that you are great friends. I’ve had that experience of friendship recently. It’s not really friendship, but like, oh, you get each other. With humans, not in a romantic setting.
Andrew Huberman (01:33:52) Right, friendship?
Lex Fridman (01:33:52) Yeah, just friendship. [inaudible 01:33:54].
Andrew Huberman (01:33:53) Well, dare I say, I felt that way about you when we met, right?
Lex Fridman (01:33:56) Yeah, but we also-
Andrew Huberman (01:33:57) I was like, “This dude’s cool, and he’s smart, and he’s funny, and he’s driven, and he’s giving, and he’s got an edge, and I want to learn from him. I want to hang out with him.” That was the beginning of our friendship, was essentially that set of internal realizations.
Lex Fridman (01:34:17) Just keep going, just keep going, [inaudible 01:34:18] keep going with these compliments.
Andrew Huberman (01:34:18) And a sharp dresser, [inaudible 01:34:20].
Lex Fridman (01:34:19) Yeah, yeah, just looks great shirtless on horseback. Yes.
Andrew Huberman (01:34:22) No. No, no, listen, despite what some people might see on the internet, it’s a purely platonic friendship.
Lex Fridman (01:34:28) Somebody asked if Andrew Huberman has a girlfriend, and somebody says, “I think so.” And the third comment was, “This really breaks my heart that Lex and Andrew are not an item.”
Andrew Huberman (01:34:42) We are great friends, but we are not an item.
Lex Fridman (01:34:45) Yeah, well-
Andrew Huberman (01:34:45) It’s true, it’s official. I hear, over and over again, from friends that have made great choices in awesome partners, and have these fantastic relationships for long periods of time, that seem to continue to thrive, at least that’s what they tell me, and that’s what I observe, establish the friendship first and give it a bit of time before sex. And so I think that’s the feeling. That’s the feeling and we’re talking micro features and macro features. And this isn’t about perfection, it’s actually about the imperfections, which is kind of cool. I like quirky people. I like characters.
(01:35:29) I’ll tell you where I’ve gone badly wrong and where I see other people going badly wrong. There is no rule that says that you have to be attracted to all attractive people, by any means. It’s very important to develop a sense of taste in romantic attractions, I believe. What you really like, in terms of a certain style, a certain way of being, and of course that includes sexuality and sex itself, the verb. But I think it also includes their just general way of being. And when you really adore somebody, you like the way they answer the phone, and when they don’t answer the phone that way, you know something’s off and you want to know. And so I think that the more you can tune up your powers of observation, not looking for things that you like, and the more that stuff just washes over you, the more likely you are to, “Fall in love.” As a mutual friend of ours said to me, “Listen, when it comes to romantic relationships, if it’s not a hundred percent in you, it ain’t happening.”
(01:36:39) And I’ve never seen a violation of that statement, where it’s like, yeah, it’s mostly good and they’re this and this, likes the negotiations. Well, already it’s doomed. And that doesn’t mean someone has to be perfect, the relationship has to be perfect, but it’s got to feel hundred percent inside.
Lex Fridman (01:36:56) Yeah.
Andrew Huberman (01:36:56) Like yes, yes, and yes. I think Deisseroth, when he was on here, your podcast, mentioned something that, I think the words were… Or maybe it was in his book, I don’t recall. But that love is one of these things that we story into with somebody. We create this idea of ourselves in the future and we look at our past time together and then you story into it.
Lex Fridman (01:37:19) Mm-hmm.
Andrew Huberman (01:37:20) There’re very few things like that. I can’t story into building flying cars. I have to actually go do something. And love is also retroactively constructed. Anyone who’s gone through a breakup understands the grief of knowing, oh, this is something I really shouldn’t be in, for whatever reason, because it only takes one. If the other person doesn’t want to be in it, then you shouldn’t be in it. But then missing so many things, and that’s just the attachment machinery, really, at work.


Lex Fridman (01:37:49) I have to ask you a question that somebody in our amazing team wanted to ask. He’s happily married. Another, like you mentioned, incredible relationship.
Andrew Huberman (01:37:58) Are they good friends?
Lex Fridman (01:38:00) They’re amazing friends.
Andrew Huberman (01:38:01) There you go.
Lex Fridman (01:38:02) But, I’m just going to say, I’m not saying who it is. So I can say some stuff, which is, it started out as a great sexual connection.
Andrew Huberman (01:38:10) Oh, well, there you go.
Lex Fridman (01:38:11) But then became very close friends after that.
Andrew Huberman (01:38:14) Okay, listen-
Lex Fridman (01:38:14) There you go. So speaking of sex-
Andrew Huberman (01:38:16) There are many paths to Rome.
Lex Fridman (01:38:19) He has a wonderful son and he is wanting to have a second kid, and he wanted to ask the great Andrew Huberman, is there sexual positions or any kind of thing that can help maximize the chance that they have a girl versus a boy? Because they had a wonderful boy.
Andrew Huberman (01:38:35) Do they want a girl?
Lex Fridman (01:38:35) They want to a girl.
Andrew Huberman (01:38:36) Okay.
Lex Fridman (01:38:37) Is there a way to control the gender? [inaudible 01:38:39].
Andrew Huberman (01:38:39) Well, this has been debated for a long time, and I did a four and a half hour episode on fertility. And the reason I did a four and a half hour episode on fertility is that, first of all, I find that reproductive biology be fascinating. And I wanted a resource for people that at were thinking about, or struggling with having kids for whatever reason, and it felt important to me to combine the male and female components in the same episode. It’s all timestamped, so you don’t have to listen to the whole thing. We talk about IVF, in vitro fertilization, we talk about natural pregnancy.
(01:39:11) Okay, the data on position is very interesting, but let me just say a few things. There are a few clinics now, in particular some out of the United States, that are spinning down sperm and finding that they can separate out fractions, as they’re called. They can spin the sperm down at a given speed, and that they’ll separate out at different depths within the test tube, that allow them to pull out the sperm on top or below and bias the probability towards male or female births. It’s not perfect. It’s not a hundred percent. It’s a very costly procedure. It’s still very controversial.
(01:39:47) Now with in vitro fertilization, they can extract eggs. You can introduce a sperm, directly by pipette, it’s a process called ICSI. Or you can set up a sperm race in a dish. And if you get a number of different embryos, meaning the eggs get fertilized, duplicate and start form a blastocyst, which is a ball of cells, early embryo, then you can do karyotyping. So you can do look for XX or XY, select the XY, which then would give rise to a male offspring, and then implant that one. So there is that kind of sex selection.
(01:40:22) With respect to position, there’s a lot of lore that if the woman is on top or the woman’s on the bottom, or whether or not the penetration is from behind, whether or not it’s going to be male or female offspring. And frankly, the data are not great, as you can imagine, because those-
Lex Fridman (01:40:39) [inaudible 01:40:39].
Andrew Huberman (01:40:38) … those would be interesting studies to run, perhaps.
Lex Fridman (01:40:43) But there is studies, there is papers.
Andrew Huberman (01:40:45) There are some-
Lex Fridman (01:40:46) But they’re not, I guess-
Andrew Huberman (01:40:47) Yeah, it’s-
Lex Fridman (01:40:48) There’s more lore than science says.
Andrew Huberman (01:40:50) And there are a lot of other variables that are hard to control. So for instance, if it’s during intermission, during sex penetration, et cetera, then you can’t measure, for instance, sperm volume as opposed to when it’s IVF, and they can actually measure how many milliliters, how many forward motile sperm. It’s hard to control for certain things. And it just can vary between individuals and even from one ejaculation to the next and… Okay, so there’s too many variables; however, the position thing is interesting in the following way, and then I’ll answer whether or not you can bias us towards a female. As long as we’re talking about sexual-
Lex Fridman (01:41:28) I have other questions about sex [inaudible 01:41:28].
Andrew Huberman (01:41:29) But as long as we’re talking about sexual position,-
Lex Fridman (01:41:30) All right.
Andrew Huberman (01:41:31) … there are data that support the idea that, in order to increase the probability of successful fertilization, that indeed, the woman should not stand upright after sex and should-
Lex Fridman (01:41:49) [inaudible 01:41:49].
Andrew Huberman (01:41:49) Right after the man has ejaculated inside her, and should adjust her pelvis, say, 15 degrees upwards. Some of the fertility experts, MDs, will say that’s crazy, but others-
Andrew Huberman (01:42:00) MDs will say, “That’s crazy.”
(01:42:02) But others that I sought out, and not specifically for this answer, but for researching that episode, said that, “Yeah, what you’re talking about is trying to get the maximum number of sperm and it’s contained in semen. And yes, the semen can leak out. And so keeping the pelvis tilted for about 15 degrees for about 15 minutes, obviously tilted in the direction that would have things running upstream, not downstream, so to speak.”
Lex Fridman (01:42:02) Gravity.
Andrew Huberman (01:42:29) Gravity, it’s real. So for maximizing fertilization, the doctors I spoke to just said, “Look, given that if people are trying to get pregnant, what is spending 15 minutes on their back?” This sort of thing. Okay. So then with respect to getting a female offspring or XX female offspring, selectively, there is the idea that as fathers get older, they’re more likely to have daughters as opposed to sons. That’s, from the papers I’ve read, is a significant but still mildly significant result. So with each passing year, this person increases the probability they’re going to have a daughter, not a son. So that’s interesting.
Lex Fridman (01:43:19) But the probability differences are probably tiny as you said.
Andrew Huberman (01:43:22) It’s not trivial. It’s not a trivial difference. But if they want to ensure having a daughter, then they should do IVF and select an XX embryo. And when you go through IVF, they genetically screen them for karyotype, which is XX, XY, and they look at mutations, genotypic mutations for things like trisomies and aneuploidies, all the stuff you don’t want.
Lex Fridman (01:43:54) But there is a lot of lore if you look on the internet.
Andrew Huberman (01:43:56) Sure. Different foods.
Lex Fridman (01:43:57) So there are a lot of variables.
Andrew Huberman (01:43:58) There’s a lot of variable, but there haven’t been systematic studies. So I think probably the best thing to do, unless they’re going to do IVF, is just roll the dice. And I think with each passing year, they increase the probability of getting a female offspring. But of course, with each passing year, the egg and sperm quality degrade, so get after it soon.
Lex Fridman (01:44:23) So I went down a rabbit hole. Sexology, there’s journals on sex.
Andrew Huberman (01:44:29) Oh, yeah. Sure. And some of them, not all, quite reputable and some of them really pioneering in the sense that they’ve taken on topics that are considered outside the main frame of what people talk about, but they’re very important. We have episodes coming out soon with, for instance, the Head of Male Urology, Sexual Health and Reproductive Health at Stanford, Michael Eisenberg. But also one with a female urologist, sexual health, reproductive health, Dr. Rena Malik, who has a quite active YouTube presence. She does these really dry, scientific presentation, but very nice. She has a lovely voice. But she’ll be talking about erections or squirting. She does very internet-type content, but she’s a legitimate urologist, reproductive health expert.
(01:45:27) And in the podcast, we did talk about both male and female orgasm. We talked a lot about sexual function and dysfunction. We talked a lot about pelvic floor. One interesting factoid is that only 3% of sexual dysfunction is hormonal, endocrine, in nature. It’s more often related to some pelvic floor or vasculature, blood flow related or other issue. And then when Eisenberg came on the podcast, he said that far less sexual dysfunction is psychogenic in origin than people believe. That far more of it is pelvic floor, neuro and vascular. It’s not saying that psychogenic dysfunction doesn’t exist, but that a lot of the sexual dysfunction that people assume is related to hormones or that is related to psychogenic issues are related to vascular or neural issues. And the good news is that there are great remedies for those. And so both those episodes detail some of the more salient points around what those remedies are and could be.
(01:46:39) One of the, again, factoids, but it was interesting that a lot of people have pelvic floor issues and they think that their pelvic floors are, quote, unquote, messed up. So they go on the internet, they learn about Kegels. And it turns out that some people need Kegels, they need to strengthen their pelvic floor. Guess what? A huge number of people with sexual and urologic dysfunction have pelvic floors that are too tight and Kegels are going to make them far worse, and they actually need to learn to relax their pelvic floor. And so seeing a pelvic floor specialist is important.
(01:47:12) I think in the next five, 10 years, we’re going to see a dramatic shift towards more discussion about sexual and reproductive health in a way that acknowledges that, yeah, the clitoris comes from the same origin tissue as the penis. And in many ways the neural innervation of the two, while clearly different, has some overlapping features that there’s going to be discussion around anatomy and hormones and pelvic floors in a way that’s going to erode some of the cloaking of these topics because they’ve been cloaked for a long time and there’s a lot of… Well, let’s just call it what it is. There’s a lot of bullshit out there about what’s what.
(01:47:54) Now, the hormonal issues, by the way, just to clarify, can impact desire. So a lot of people who have lack of desire as opposed to lack of anatomical function, this could be male or female that can originate with either things like SSRIs or hormonal issues. And so we talk about that as well. So it’s a pretty vast topic.


Lex Fridman (01:48:15) Okay. You’re one of the most productive people I know. What’s the secret to your productivity? How do you maximize the number of productive hours in a day? You’re a scientist, you’re a teacher, you’re a very prolific educator.
Andrew Huberman (01:48:31) Well, thanks for the kind words. I struggle like everybody else, but I am pretty relentless about meeting deadlines. I miss them sometimes, but sometimes that means cramming. Sometimes that means starting early. But-
Lex Fridman (01:48:48) Has that been hard, sorry to interrupt, with the podcast? There’s certain episodes, you’re taking just incredibly difficult topics and you know there’s going to be a lot of really good scientists listening to those with a very skeptical and careful eye. Do you struggle meeting that deadline sometimes?
Andrew Huberman (01:49:09) Yes. We’ve pushed out episodes because I want more time with them. I also, I haven’t advertised this, but I have another fully tenured professor that’s started checking my podcasts and helping me find papers. He’s a close friend of mine. He’s an incredible expert in neuroplasticity and that’s been helpful. But I do all the primary research for the episodes myself. Although my niece has been doing a summer internship with me and finding amazing papers. She did last summer as well. She’s really good at it. Just sick that kid on the internet and she gets great stuff.
Lex Fridman (01:49:47) Can I ask you, just going on tangents here, what’s the hardest, finding the papers or understanding what a paper is saying?
Andrew Huberman (01:49:57) Finding them. Finding the best papers. Yeah. Because you have to read a bunch of reviews, figure out who’s getting cited, call people in a field, make sure that this is the stuff. I did this episode recently on ketamine. About ketamine, I wasn’t on ketamine. And there’s this whole debate about S versus R ketamine, and SR ketamine. And I called two clinical experts at Stanford. I had a researcher at UCLA help me. Even then, a few people had gripes about it that I don’t think they understood a section that I perhaps could have been clearer about. But yeah, you’re always concerned that people either won’t get it or I won’t be clear. So the researching is mainly about finding the best papers.
(01:50:36) And then I’m looking for papers that establish a thoroughness of understanding. That are interesting, obviously. It’s fun to get occasionally look at some of the odder or more progressive papers that are what’s new in a field and then where there are actionable takeaways to really export those with a lot of thoughtfulness.
(01:50:59) Going back to the productivity thing I do, I get up, I look at the sun. I don’t stare at the sun, but I get my sunshine. It all starts with a really good night’s sleep. I think that’s really important to understand. So much so that if I wake up and I don’t feel rested enough, I’ll often do a non-sleep deep rest yoga nidra, or go back to sleep for a little bit, get up, really prioritize the big block of work for the thing that I’m researching. I think a little bit of anxiety and a little bit of concern about deadline helps. Turning the phone off helps, realizing that those peak hours, whenever they are for you, you do not allow those hours to be invaded, unless a nuclear bomb goes off. And nuclear bomb is just a phraseology for, family crisis would be good justification. If there’s an emergency, obviously.
(01:51:53) But it’s all about focus. It’s all about focus in the moment. It’s not even so much about how many hours you log. It’s really about focus in the moment. How much total focus can you give to something? And then I like to take walks and think about things and sometimes talk about them in my voice recorder. So I’m just always churning on it, all the time. And then of course, learning to turn it off and engage with people socially and not be podcasting 24 hours a day in your head is key. But I think I love learning and researching and finding those papers and the information, and I love teaching it.
(01:52:30) And these days I use a whiteboard before I start. I don’t have any notes, no teleprompter. Then the whiteboard that I use beforehand is to really sculpt out the different elements and the flow, get the flow right and move things around. The whiteboard is such a valuable tool. Then take a couple pictures of that when I’m happy with it, put it down on the desk and these are just bullet points and then just churn through and just churn through. And nothing feels better than researching and sharing information. And I, as you did, grew up writing papers and it’s hard. And I like the friction of, “Uh, can’t. I want to get up. I want to use the bathroom.”
(01:53:08) When I was in college, I was trying to make up deficiencies from my lack of attendance in high school, so much so that I would set a timer. I wouldn’t let myself get up to use the bathroom even. Never had an accident. I listened to music, classical music, Rancid, a few other things. Some Bob Dylan maybe thrown in there and just study and just… And then you’d hit the two-hour mark and you’re in pain and then you get up, use the bathroom. You’re like, “That felt so good.” There’s something about the human brain that likes these kind of friction points and working through them and you just have to work through them.
(01:53:46) So yeah, I’m productive and my life has arranged around it, and that’s been a bit of a barrier to personal life at times. But my life’s been arranged around it. I’ve set up everything so that I can learn more, teach more, including some of my home life. But I do still watch Chimp Empire. I still got time to watch Chimp Empire. Look, the great Joe Strummer, Clash, they were my favorite Mescaleros. He said, this famous Strummer quote, “No input, no output.” So you need experience. You need outside things in order to foster the process.
(01:54:27) But yeah, just nose to the grindstone man, I don’t know. And that’s what I’m happy to do with my life. I don’t think anyone should do that just because. But this is how I’m showing up. And if you don’t like me, then scroll… What do they say? Swipe left, swipe right. I don’t know. I’m not on the apps, the dating apps. So that’s the other thing. I keep waiting for when, “Listens to Lex Fridman podcast,” is a checkbox on Hinge or Bumble or whatever it is. But I don’t even know. Are those their field? I don’t know. What are the apps now?
Lex Fridman (01:55:00) Well, I’ve never used an app and I always found troublesome how little information is provided on apps.
Andrew Huberman (01:55:07) Well, they’re the ones that are like a stocked lake, like Raya. Companies will actually fill them with people that look a certain way.
Lex Fridman (01:55:18) Well, soon it’ll be filled with AI.
Andrew Huberman (01:55:20) Oh.
Lex Fridman (01:55:21) The way you said, “Oh.”
Andrew Huberman (01:55:22) Yeah. That’s interesting.
Lex Fridman (01:55:24) The heartbreak within that.
Andrew Huberman (01:55:25) Well, I am guilty of liking real human interaction.
Lex Fridman (01:55:30) Have you tried AI interaction?
Andrew Huberman (01:55:34) No, but I have a feeling you’re going to convince me to.
Lex Fridman (01:55:37) One day. I’ve also struggled finishing projects that are new. That are something new. For example, one of the things I’ve really struggled finishing is something that’s in Russian that requires translation and overdub and all that kind of stuff. The other project, I’ve been working on for at least a year off and on, but trying to finish is something we’ve talked about in the past. I’m still on it, project on Hitler in World War II. I’ve written so much about it and I just don’t know why I can’t finish it. I have trouble really… I think I’m terrified being in front of the camera.
Andrew Huberman (01:56:18) Like this?
Lex Fridman (01:56:19) Like this.
Andrew Huberman (01:56:19) Or solo?
Lex Fridman (01:56:21) No, no, no. Solo.
Andrew Huberman (01:56:22) Well, if ever you want to do solo and seriously, because done this before, our clandestine study missions, I’m happy to sit in the corner and work on my book or do something if it feels good to just have someone in the room.
Lex Fridman (01:56:34) Just for the feeling of somebody else?
Andrew Huberman (01:56:35) Definitely.
Lex Fridman (01:56:37) You seem to have been fearless to just sit in front of the camera by yourself to do the episode.
Andrew Huberman (01:56:48) Yeah, it was weird. The first year of the podcast, it just spilled out of me. I had all that stuff I was so excited about. I’d been talking to everyone who would listen and even when they’d run away, I’d keep talking before there was ever a camera, wasn’t on social media. 2019, I posted a little bit. 2020, as you know, I started going on podcasts. But yeah, the zest and delight in this stuff. I was like, “Circadian rhythms, I’m going to tell you about this stuff.” I just felt like, here’s the opportunity and just let it burst.
(01:57:19) And then as we’ve gotten into topics that are a little bit further away from my home knowledge, I still get super excited about it. This music in the brain episode I’ve been researching for a while now, I’m just so hyped about it. It’s so, so interesting. There’s so many facets. Singing versus improvisational music versus, “I’m listening to music,” versus learning music. It just goes on and on. There’s just so much that’s so interesting. I just can’t get enough. And I think, I don’t know, you put a camera in front of me, I sort of forget about it and I’m just trying to just teach.
Lex Fridman (01:58:01) Yeah, so that’s the difference. That’s interesting.
Andrew Huberman (01:58:02) Forget the camera.
Lex Fridman (01:58:03) Maybe I need to find that joy as well. But for me, a lot of the joy is in the writing. And the camera, there’s something-
Andrew Huberman (01:58:12) Well, the best lecturers, as you know, and you’re a phenomenal lecturer, so you embody this as well, but when I teach at Stanford, I was directing this course in neuroanatomy and neuroscience for medical students. And I noticed that the best lecturers would come in and they’re teaching the material from a place of deep understanding, but they’re also experiencing it as a first time learner at the same time. So it’s just sort of embodying the delight of it, but also the authority over the… Not authority, but the mastery of the material. And it’s really the delight in it that the students are linking onto. And of course they need and deserve the best accurate material, so they have to know what they’re talking about.
(01:58:50) But yeah, just tap into that energy of learning and loving it. And people are along for the ride. I get accused of being long-winded, but things get taken out of context, that leads to greater misunderstanding. And also, listen, I come from a lineage of three dead advisors. Three. All three. So I don’t know when the reaper’s coming for me. I’m doing my best to stay alive a long time. But whether or not it’s a bullet or a bus or cancer or whatever, or just old age, I’m trying to get it all out there as best I can. And if it means you have to hit pause and come back a day or two later, that seems like a reasonable compromise to me. I’m not going to go longer than I need to and I’m trying to shorten them up. But again, that’s kind of how I show up.
(01:59:39) It’s like Tim Armstrong would say about writing songs. I asked him, “How often do you write?” Every day. Every day. Does Rick ever stop creating? No. Has Joe ever stopped preparing for comedy? Are you ever stopping to think about world issues and technology and who you can talk to? It seems to me you’ve always got a plan in sight. The thing I love about your podcast the most, to be honest these days, is the surprise of I don’t know who the hell’s going to be there. It’s almost like I get a little nervously excited about when a new episode comes out. I have no idea. No idea. I have some guesses based on what you told me during the break. You’ve got some people where it’s just like, “Whoa, Lex went there? Awesome. Can’t wait.” Click. I think that’s really cool. You’re constantly surprising people. So you’re doing it so well. It’s such a high level and I think it’s also important for people to understand that what you’re doing Lex, there’s no precedent for it. Sure. There’ve been interviews before, there have been podcasts before. There are discussions before. How many of your peers can you look to find out how best to do the content like yours? Zero. There’s one peer: you. And so that should give you great peace and great excitement because you’re a pioneer. You’re literally the tip of the spear.
(02:01:04) I don’t want to take an unnecessary tangent, but I think this might thread together two of the things that we’ve been talking about, which are, I think of pretty key importance. One is romantic relationships, and the other is creative process and work. And this again, is something I learned from Rick, but that he and I have gone back and forth on. And that I think is worth elaborating on, which is earlier we were saying the best relationship is going to be one where it brings you peace. I think peace also can be translated to, among other things, lack of distraction. So when you’re with your partner, can you really focus on them and the relationship? Can you not be distracted by things that you’re upset about from their past or from your past with them? And of course the same is true for them, right? They ideally will feel that way towards you too. They can really focus.
(02:01:58) Also, when you’re not with them, can you focus on your work? Can you not be worried about whether or not they’re okay because you trust that they’re an adult and they can handle things or they will reach out if they need things? They’re going to communicate their needs like an adult. Not creating messes just to get attention and things like that, or disappearing for that matter. So peace and focus are intimately related, and distraction is the enemy of peace and focus.
(02:02:32) So there’s something there, I believe, because with people that have the strong generative drive and want to be productive in their home life, in the sense have a rich family life, partner life, whatever that is, and in their work life, the ability to really drop into the work and you might have that sense like, “I hope they’re okay,” or, “need to check my phone or something,” but just know we’re good.
Lex Fridman (02:02:57) Yeah. Everything’s okay.
Andrew Huberman (02:02:57) So peace and focus, I think and being present are so key. And it’s key at every level of romantic relationship, from certainly presence and focus. Everything from sex to listening to raising a family, to tending to the house and in work, it’s absolutely critical. So I think that those things are mirror images of the same thing. And they’re both important reflections of the other. And when work is not going well, then the focus on relationship can suffer and vice versa.
Lex Fridman (02:03:33) And it’s crazy how important that is.
Andrew Huberman (02:03:35) Peace.
Lex Fridman (02:03:37) How incredibly wonderful it could be to have a person in your life that enables that creative focus.
Andrew Huberman (02:03:47) Yeah. And you supply the peace and focus for their endeavors, whatever those might be. That symmetry there. Because clearly people have different needs and the need to just really trust, when Lex is working, he’s in his generative mode and I know he’s good. And so then they feel, sure, they’ve contributed to that. But then also what you’re doing is supporting them in whatever way happens to be. And I think that sometimes you’ll see that. People will pair up along creative-creative or musical-musical or computer scientists. But I think, again, going back to this Conti episode on relationships is that the superficial labels are less important, it seems, than just the desire to create that kind of home life and relationship together. And as a consequence, the work mode. And for some people, both people aren’t working and sometimes they are. But I think that’s the good stuff. And I think that’s the big learning in all of it, is that the further along I go, with each birthday, I guarantee you’re going to be like, “What I want is simpler and simpler and harder and harder to create. But oh, so worth it.”


Lex Fridman (02:05:02) The inner and the outer peace. It’s been over two years, I think, since Costello passed away.
Andrew Huberman (02:05:11) It still tears me up. I cried about him today. I cried about him today.
Lex Fridman (02:05:17) [inaudible 02:05:17]. Fuck.
Andrew Huberman (02:05:18) It’s proportional to the love. But yeah, I’ll cry about it right now if I think about it. It wasn’t putting him down, it wasn’t the act of him dying, any of that. Actually, that was a beautiful experience. I didn’t expect it to be, but it was in my place when I was living in Topanga during the pandemic where we launched the podcast and I did it at home and he hated the vet so I did it at home. And he gave out this huge, “Ugh,” right at the end. And I could just tell he had been in not a lot pain, fortunately. But he had just been working so hard just to move at all.
(02:05:52) And the craziest thing happened, Lex. It was unbelievable. I’ve never had an experience like this. I expected my heart to break, and I’ve felt a broken heart before. I felt it, frankly, when my parents split, I felt it when Harry shot himself. I felt it when Barbara died and felt it when Ben went as well. And so many friends, way too many friends. The end of 2017, my friend Aaron King, Johnny Fair, John Eikleberry, stomach cancer, suicide, fentanyl. I was like, “Whoa. All in a fricking week.” And I just remember thinking, “What the…?” And it’s just heartbreak and you just carry that and it’s like, “Uh.” And that’s just a short list. And I don’t say that for sob stories. It’s just for a guy that wasn’t in the military or didn’t grow up in the inner city, it’s an unusual number of deaths, close people.
(02:06:51) When Costello went, the craziest thing happened. My heart warmed up, it heated up. And I wasn’t on MDMA. The moment he went, it just went whoosh. And I was like, “What the hell is this?” And it was a supernatural experience to me. I just never had that. I put my grandfather on the ground, I was a pallbearer at the funeral. I’ve done that more times than I’d like to have ever done it. And it just heated up with Costello and I thought, “What the fuck is this?”
(02:07:22) And it was almost like, and we make up these stories about what it is, but it was almost like he was like, “All right,” I have to be careful because I will cry here and I don’t want to. It was almost like he was like all that effort, because I had been putting so much effort into him, it was like, “All right, you get that back.” It was like the giant freaking, “Thank you.” And it was incredible. And I’m not embarrassed to shed a tear or two about it if I have to.
(02:07:49) I was like, “Holy shit.” That’s how close I was to that animal.
Lex Fridman (02:07:53) Where do you think can find that kind of love again?
Andrew Huberman (02:07:57) Man, I don’t know. And excuse me for welling up. I mean, it’s a freaking dog, right? I get it. But for me, it was the first real home I ever had. But when Costello went, it was like we had had this home in Topanga. We had set it up and he was just so happy there. And I think, I don’t know, it was this weird victory slash massive loss. We did it. 11 years. Freaking did everything, everything, to make him as comfortable as possible. And he was super loyal, beautiful animal, but also just funny and fun. And I was like, “I did it.” I gave as much of myself to this being as I felt I could without detracting from the rest of my life. And so I don’t know.
(02:08:53) When I think about Barbara especially, I well up and it’s hard for me, but I talked to her before she died and that was a brutal conversation, saying goodbye to someone, especially with kids. And that was hard. I think that really flipped a switch in me where I’m like, I always knew I wanted kids. I’d say, “I want kids. I want a lot of kids.” That flipped a switch in me. I was like, “I want kids. I want my own kids.”
Lex Fridman (02:09:22) You might be able to find that kind of love having kids.
Andrew Huberman (02:09:25) Yeah, I think because it was the caretaking. It wasn’t about what he gave me all that time, and the more I could take care of him and see him happy, the better I felt. It was crazy. I don’t know. So I miss him every day. Every day. I miss him every day.
Lex Fridman (02:09:44) You got a heart that’s so full of love. I can’t wait for you to have kids.
Andrew Huberman (02:09:48) Thanks, man.
Lex Fridman (02:09:49) For you to be a father. I can’t wait to do the same.
Andrew Huberman (02:09:50) Yeah, well, when I’m ready for it. When God decides I’m ready, I’ll have them.
Lex Fridman (02:09:58) And then I will still beat you to it. As I told you many times before,
Andrew Huberman (02:10:03) I think you should absolutely have kids. Look at the people in our life. Because in case you haven’t realized it already, we’re the younger of the podcasters. But like Joe and Peter and Segura and the rest, they’re like the tribal elders and we’re not the youngest in the crew. But if you look at all those guys, they all have kids. They all adore their kids and their kids bring tremendous meaning to their life. We’d be morons if you didn’t go off and start a family, I didn’t start start a family. And yeah, I think that’s the goal. Of the goals, that’s one of them.
Lex Fridman (02:10:58) The kids not only make their life more joyful and brings love to their life, it’s also makes them more productive, makes them better people, all of that. It’s kind of obvious. Yeah,
Andrew Huberman (02:11:10) I think that’s what Costello wanted, I think, I have this story in my head that he was just like, “Okay, take this like a kid.” It was a good test.
Lex Fridman (02:11:17) “And don’t fuck this up.”
Andrew Huberman (02:11:18) “Lord knows, don’t fuck this up.”
Lex Fridman (02:11:21) Andrew, I love you, brother. This was an incredible conversation.
Andrew Huberman (02:11:24) Love you too. I appreciate you.
Lex Fridman (02:11:26) We will talk often on each other’s podcast for many years to come.
Andrew Huberman (02:11:30) Yes.
Lex Fridman (02:11:30) Many, many years to come.
Andrew Huberman (02:11:32) Thank you. Thanks for having me on here. And there are no words for how much I appreciate your example and your friendship. So love you, brother.
Lex Fridman (02:11:40) Love you too.
(02:11:42) Thanks for listening to this conversation with Andrew Huberman to support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words from Albert Camus. “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.