The Fun Habit – An Examination of Modern Approaches to Happiness w/Michael Rucker Ph.D.

Tony interviews Michael Rucker, Ph.D. In 2016, Michael experienced a series of serious setbacks that caused him to challenge the tools he had built over the previous two decades as a student of positive psychology. Ultimately finding himself “unhappy, a bit lonely, and burnt out,” Michael critically evaluated modern approaches to happiness. He quickly realized how much misinformation was being spread, and that caused Michael to spend the next few years researching the evidence-based practices that ultimately led him to discover the real way to “invite more fun and joy” into his life. Michael’s book, “The Fun Habit: How the Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life,” https://amzn.to/3jAtln8 is the result of his journey. You can learn more about Michael at his website https://michaelrucker.com/

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Transcript

Tony: Okay. Mike Rucker, welcome to the Virtual Couch

Mike: Thank you so much for having me. 

Tony: Yeah, no, I appreciate you coming on, and this is the part where I think it’s that funny thing where I go find your background and you’ve done so many things, so I’m going to sound like an egomaniac for 15 seconds, but I get a fair amount of people that want to come on the show with the publicists and promoting books and I can’t lie, I don’t read a lot of them because a lot of them, I’m a transformational meditative life coach who wants to help you get the best out of, you know, all this stuff. But man, right out of the gate, you had me sucked in because I’m a big fan of fun and then I responded right away, and then you were kind enough to send a galley copy of the book, and I just, I love it. And then I go on your website and realize, okay, you’re throwing me a bone by coming on my podcast. So I really, I appreciate your reaching out. You’ve done a lot of pretty amazing things.

Mike: Thank you. No, I, and again, I’m grateful for just having the opportunity, but I appreciate that. 

Tony: And what I really like and I want to just kind of sit back and have you share your background because what I love is when people are going to hear all that you have gone through. I love that in your book, on your website, it sounds like, oh well you’ve got it made. You’ve kind of figured out life. And so I feel like, boy, you’ve got the experience to speak to the pursuit of just this happiness or joy or feel good feelings maybe isn’t quite what it’s panned out to be. 

Mike: I kind of generally jump into the story. Around 2007, I was introduced to Marty Segelman’s work. And for folks that don’t know who that is, he’s sort of the person that brought positive psychology to the forefront. It was really the grandfather of this concept called flow, that’s commonly talked about but I was coming out of a mentorship program from a clinical psychologist by the name of Michael Jervey. He remains a trusted mentor to this day and was kind of focused on peak performance and thought, I hadn’t done my academic work, my postdoctoral work yet, but was trying to figure out where did I want to put my dent in the universe? And around that time I was invited to become a charter member of the International Positive Psychology Association because that movement was really growing right between the years of 2007, 2009. And I just drank from that well, and a lot of those tools and strategies, kind of coupled with over quantifying my tactics, were really successful up until 2016. I love to talk about it. I love to use them, in the rear view mirror I can say I’d over optimized my life, but at the time it felt like it was a warm glove that I was doing everything right. And then what happened was in 2016, my younger brother suddenly passed away from a pulmonary embolism, and that just kind of knocked me on my butt. And so I had low level anxiety up to that point, but I had been able to mitigate it fairly well through endurance exercise. And so this next event doesn’t correlate to my brother’s death, but it was just a misfortune that happened in the same timeframe. I found out quite suddenly that I had advanced osteoarthritis probably due to an injury and would have to get a hip replacement. And because it was at such a young age that I couldn’t ever run again. 

Tony: You’re a two time Ironman.

Mike: So I did it, you know, sort of my own way. But yeah, I was able to complete two of them. I mean, I’ve really enjoyed the sport as an amateur. I think I’ve always kind of had that insight to really enjoy the activities that you’re doing. Obviously I’ve brought science to the forefront in this book, the Fun Habit, but it was also a medicinal activity for me, right. I mean, I think it’s certainly in my experience, been better for me to mitigate anxiety through exercise rather than pharmaceutical intervention. But that particular method that was really habituated in my life was taken away. 

Tony: I know that you and I don’t know each other and I have to say, with my audience, and I feel like that’s why they’re going to appreciate this so much. I talk often, I’m an ultramarathon runner and a dozen or more hundred mile runs and that’s been what I thought was my, who I was. And I tore my meniscus and it’s shredded like chicken according to the surgeon. And so I’ve been processing this a lot, even with my own audience over the last two or three years, of not being able to get that and not even realizing what medicine that was, the ultra running and the endurance. So that’s why I really appreciate what you’re sharing there, because that’s a big thing to take away when somebody used that as a coping mechanism. 

Mike: It’s twofold, right? That we can both kind of empathize with each other is that one, it’s this tool that was fairly successful and someone essentially took it out of our toolbox and smashed it in front of us, right? But then ultimately there’s a big loss, right? Because that was, you know, what I’ve come to discover, I don’t think I had this type of awareness back then, but what really lights us up, especially when we’re not chasing happiness, is the connection to that activity, right? And so for me, I really did have a true love for running, not necessarily biking and swimming although I’ve been trying to develop that with cycling because I really do enjoy using my Peloton now as an alternative method. 

Tony: We are the same cloth, Mike. We have to do a whole separate podcast on that because I have, I have the padded shorts now, the whole nine yards. So that’s kind of funny.

Mike: Yeah, so, and then the third kind of piece was having, sorry. My wife got an opportunity that took us out of California. So we were born and raised, both her in Southern California and myself in Northern California. But all of our friends and family, our support network was there and she had just supported me through my doctoral work while having two children during that period. And so it’s not like I look at relationships as, you know, that there’s any sort of equity that you have to pay back, but certainly, I did feel indebted for her having my back. And she got this job opportunity in North Carolina and that moved us away from friends and family and so, to make a long story short, I still wanted all these tools of positive psychology to be successful because I had in the past, and the more I tried to chase happiness, the less happier I was becoming, and I didn’t understand why. And serendipitously through that period, there was emerging research. One researcher that I always quote, her name’s Dr. Oursmouse, out of Cal Berkeley, but there’s others. But her studies have been replicated, is that, especially in the western world, folks that are overly concerned with being happy. So not necessarily valuing happiness, right? I think all of us want people to be happy and flourish. That’s not problematic at all. So I’m, I always try to be clear about that distinction, but folks that are overly concerned, so the metaphor or the illustration I like to use, and it applied to me at that time is that you see happiness over in the horizon and you identify where you are and you see the delta, the space in between the two. And you allow that space to start to bleed into your identity, right? Like, well, happiness is over there. And even though you’re doing things actively to try and get there, you always see the space. You start to perseverate on the space. And that subconsciously starts to help you identify as being unhappy and you don’t understand why, to the point if you believe the research that it can actually lead to mental illness.

Tony: Which I do agree and it’s funny because I feel like that, I’ll be happy if, or I’ll be happy when I like that example because that I’ll be happy when is always on the horizon. And in the cases where somebody gets there, well, I’ll be happy when I make six figures, but then they get there and, okay, that must not be it. I need a million bucks, so I’ll be happy when the kids are out of the house. So I’ll be happy when I have six pack abs. So I like what you’re saying because in your book you talked about we’re so good at anticipating, I mean, is that part of that?

Mike: Yeah. Anticipating, adapting and comparing, and that’s exactly it. In literature we call that the hedonic treadmill. But I’m at, you’re spot on. The idea is if you believe evolutionary science, and I, I think, they make a sound point. We weren’t meant to be in that state all the time because if we were, we would be satiated and bored and kind of lazy. And so those tools psychologically are meant to motivate us into certain behaviors. Now, once we become mindful of it, and get kind of, you know, figure out how to navigate our monkey mind we can have better control, right? But when you’re sort of lost in that sea, it can become extremely problematic. And that’s what happened to me. 

Tony: I’m curious, does that research, because I want to interview her now. Because I’d love that in the ACT research I love, they talk about the brain as essentially a don’t get kill device. And so it wasn’t designed to seek pleasure all the time. And I like to make the joke of, we had to have a court jester. I mean, they used to have to literally have somebody come in and hey, right, five minutes, be happy. And if he wasn’t good at it, they’d kill him. And so, I mean, that just is not our default. And then I feel like when we go to rest, our brain goes to worst case scenario. And I like what you’re saying. I feel like in evolutionary biology, they talk about that because if we don’t anticipate danger, then we’re going to all of a sudden walk around a corner and there’s gonna be a saber tooth tiger to kill us. So our default goes back to this negative. 

Mike: Yeah. No one’s given me the prompt to really jump deep into the weeds and so, I’ll be careful here not to do that too much. And I say that to the end of the book because it is kind of sticky, and also not an area where I have an immense amount of expertise. But I was fascinated by the fact that almost all of our biological symptoms, that is the number one goal. And why that becomes problematic means that even from a psychological standpoint, we never want to accept that. And so, yes, the reason why I had to kind of back into that is that if we do and use the limited finite component of time as a motivational tool, it becomes extremely effective. Everyone that has an intimate sort of relationship with knowing that we have a finite time here on earth essentially changes the way they live because they look at everything as an opportunity. Right? Where the treadmill metaphor becomes problematic is we sort of think that the treadmill is never going to end. And that is really, our modus operandi right now with our brain, because our brain doesn’t want to think we’re going to die again. Every system is meant to sort live, you know, avoid death. 

Tony: Okay. Can I stay in the weeds with you? Because I’ve never talked about this out loud, but one of the things that broke my brain for a minute is in the book, there’s Sapiens and there’s one called Homo Deus by the same author.

Mike: Oh my gosh, Sapiens is hands down what changed my life. 

Tony: Have you read the follow up? 

Mike: I haven’t yet, it’s been recommended, but with Sapiens, because I know you’re going to get into it, but just in case we had a divergent path for me where I woke up was because I was kind of lost, from a spiritual standpoint and in some other ways as well. And when you get done with Sapiens, you know, I’m not one of those Elon Musk types that believe we live in a matrix. But you do realize that every social norm in our lives that kind of dictates the way we operate was made by man. You believe that book like, holy cow, money is fake, government and corporations are fake. You know, maybe God exists as a universal law. But religion and dogma around it are made up, and then you’re just like, every single thing that’s not tangible, has essentially been created by us. And you can start to then figure out the rules.

Tony: No, it’s so good. And I will absolutely keep all this in because, and then I think some of the people are going to think, okay, and then we need to go watch YouTube to see if they put on tin foil hats at this point. And we’re not, because I feel like if you want the, you know, I went from Sapiens to one called On Being Certain, and that one’s another one where he is like, hey, our brain seeks and craves certainty, and that’s why we ruminate and fixate on things and how adorable that is because we have to accept the fact that maybe there isn’t certainty and he goes into challenging the way that our brain works and remember things and so we need to stop ruminating and thinking and just start doing. And he has this comment where he says, basically we’re 3 billion neurons walking around just reacting to things and trying to make sense of it. But we think it’s the other way around. I’m going to make sense of things and then do, and so. Then I’m in a full blown existential crisis, you know? But then eventually you’ll land the plane with man. Then Deus comes around, Homo Deus and the part that broke my brain, Mike, was he said, eventually we are gonna solve death, that’s the next frontier that people are trying to do in the brand new world. And he talked about, I think he even said Google, 20% of their funds are going into companies that are trying to extend death. And it freaked me out a little bit when he said something like, I think people, I don’t know how old you are, I’m 53. So we might be the last generation that gets old is the way he’s proposing it. But then he said this thing that blew my mind where he is like, but if all of a sudden death didn’t matter, then people wouldn’t really live. So I like what you’re saying, because then he said if leaving your house was a chance you would die and now you’re going to miss out on, who knows, thousands of years? And I all of a sudden think of that movie Wally, where we’re all just sitting in these chairs and having virtual reality experiences. Because I don’t want to go outside because I might get hit by a truck or that kind of thing. And so, and I couldn’t understand what he was saying at first, but I think it’s exactly what you’re saying, where the fact that we know we will die is our opportunity to live and then I’m back, then I’m out of my existential crisis. And now let’s do it. Right? 

Mike: Yeah. I think going back to neuroscience, that pair as well, I’m a big fan of Lisa Feldman Barrett, and what she’s been able to do is make a strong case that we’re not cause and effect beings, we’re more predictive beings because I think, I believe that’s true. Yeah. It becomes really true when you look at how dopamine was positioned and how wrong we were. Right? Dopamine isn’t a pleasure chemical. It’s really an excitement chemical. We know that dopamine gets released, you know when we anticipate that. And so once you figure that out, and that’s like, we’re having a lot of fun here. So for me, yeah, I love to build systems, right? I still like to kind of understand my world. And again, that’s why Sapiens was so interesting, like wow if you figure out how the rules were developed, then maybe you figure out the map but then can start to explore the territory as a work. So I paired that with something completely outta context, Annie Duke’s work, with regards to predictions and that, how once you start to place good bets, if we are predictive machines, then let’s look at our choices through the realm of probability rather than our anxious minds, which have both kind of shared, you know, where it’s like, I think this is going to happen. No, there’s a spectrum of things that can happen and let’s plan for the ones that have a high probability. And that’s really helped me.

Tony: I love it. I know this is so good I think my audience is going to resonate with this, Mike, because I feel like this is the stuff I just talk about incessantly on when I have my individual episodes or so I’m, grateful for you going on this path because I feel like once the, it goes back to that paradox of I feel like the whole mental health industry, and that’s what I’m in, is almost, we’re teaching the opposite of what feels natural. And I think it goes back to, because what feels natural is the brain saying, hey, I’ll do, I’ll just keep doing the same thing because at least I know what that feels like. And I can live, but in reality, you know, and that’s where we keep putting everything off till later and later. And eventually I like what you’re saying, what it feels like to be me is I’ll do it later. And eventually I didn’t do it. 

Mike: I think another thing that I’ve stumbled on, I’m still struggling a little bit to say it in an eloquent fashion. But I think especially your audience sort of understands psychology and probably to some degree psychiatry, is that we know that any of these interventions to some degree some work faster than others. And obviously benzos might work in real time. But for a majority of effective interventions, they take time. We need to build this health equity, right? And so an argument I make in the book, but it’s not an as salient sort of bullet point way. You know, when you start to index fun activities, things that really light you up and where you’re able to understand and actualize that you have some agency and autonomy even in a state where you might be in negative valence, which just is a fancy way of being in a bad mood, those become the building blocks, right? Those start to have an additive effect. And unfortunately, you’re never going to be able to say in that day, this didn’t really make me happy because it really is a long body sort of initiative. It’s a long game.

Tony: It is long, can I read, are you familiar with a book called The Buddha Brain by a guy named Rick Hanson? 

Mike: I’m not familiar.

Tony: And my audience will probably go, I can repeat this with my memory, but he says, as much as the body is built from foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences you have, the flow of experience, gradually sculpting your brain, thus shaping your mind but he says, some of the results can be explicitly recalled, like, this is what I did, this is how I felt, but most of it remains forever unconscious. And that’s called implicit memory. And I think it’s exactly what you’re talking about. He said, include your expectations, models of relationships, emotional tendencies, general outlook. It establishes the interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you based on the, and this is the part that I feel like is not a good sales pitch, the slow accumulating residue of lived experience. So it turns out it takes a while to create that interior landscape, but it can be one way or the other.

Mike: Yeah. I think, you know, again, kind of geeking out on it, we’re starting to understand from learning models that all of this is really a way to coalesce very nonlinear ideas. Right? And so through the act of neuroplasticity, which was really looked at more as a way to build cognitive reserve or cognitive decline. But what has it advanced in folks that are studying that is like, wow, over time these neural networks really are way more complex than we ever thought, right? Like, there are regions of the brain that act as biology landmarks, but we now know that all of them have a synergistic sort of method of working together and everything is way more interconnected than we thought. I mean, we’re really geeking out now, so outside the realm of the book. But it is neat. I got to talk to this amazing neuroscientist for the book. His name is Blake Porter. And another thing that blew me away are these neurochemicals that we often talk about that do have an immense amount of influence on how we perceive the world are also used for a host of other things.

Tony: Do you talk about oxytocin? I mean, is that one of them? Because I don’t know enough about it, I just know it’s called the cuddle hormone but is that one of them that we don’t understand enough about? I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Mike: Well I think we’re starting to understand it more. The context of what I’m going to share applies to that as well. It does a lot more than we talk about with regards to reduction is science, right? So we’ll say yeah, more serotonin is supposed to make us happy. And you know, there was just an interesting paper in nature that refutes that. And I think you have really smart people and the truth is probably in the middle, right? Another thing is these neurochemicals have a huge impact on our stomach and the way we digest things. That’s often why folks that are on SSR eyes either lose weight or gain weight, and we don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen because it’s, you know, this is, so, we’re so in the weeds right now. But what I’m saying is that all of this does tend to have these big synergistic effects and they will be specific to your biology. So that’s where things get really heady, right. We talk about it like, hey, you do this and this is going to happen, but that’s rarely the case. 

Tony: Right. So I love more psychological flexibility or flow like you’re talking about. So, here’s what I’ll do, man let’s just have an episode down the road and we will just, Mike and Tony geek out. So, I won’t be able to promote the book because I really enjoyed the book. So you’re in North Carolina, I think is where I probably took you down a rabbit hole.

Mike: So essentially what I discovered was that, again, chasing happiness is problematic, right? And so, once that was validated through the research that I was finding, and then I self actualized like, holy cow, I’m my own worst enemy with regards to what’s happening to me. I was like, well, there’s gotta be something I can do, right? And so I had just finished up work on workplace wellness and I realized that one of the biggest levers with regards to wellbeing, which is well studied in the workplace, but not necessarily at the individual level is autonomy, right? Is the ability of giving employees more control over the domain. And I said, well, if that’s the case, how can that be applied to the south? Because, and once I started to dig in, there’s a lot of research to suggest that as adults we do habituate our lives. We do think that, you know, we begin to lose control and then also, especially here in the west, we’re sort of driven by the sense of duty. You know, there are various reasons for that. Some people believe it’s sort of a relic of the puritan work ethic. Our lives have gotten extremely more complex because when we lived in a time where work was primarily algorithmic, meaning that we made things and we sort of understood what was desired by us and we knew when our workday ended, we could have this transition ritual and really enjoy our leisure time. Like, work is over, and now I get to play. And we know that play and that type of leisure is extremely important to keep up our vitality. And so what I kind of realized is, holy cow, we have completely forsaken our agency and autonomy. Let me experiment with what happens if I take that back because I want to live a joyful life and that was sort of, you know, I always kind of positioned as the light bulb, but it was more of a slow awakening. Right? You know, over time I started to take control of one hour, two hours and go. I’m not trying to solve for happy here. You know, these aren’t things that I have to do. Let me celebrate that. I get to do them. And so instead of sort of trying to unpack what was wrong and be stuck in these periods of introspection and trying to solve something, I just went out and started enjoying time with my friends. And I know as simple as that sounds, it had these huge impacts and so that’s where I think people are really resonating with the book because again, it’s something that someone can really do, within five minutes if they sort of need to understand how complex the barriers are to get there because we don’t like change a lot of the time. We habituate our behavior. Adding new things often times becomes difficult. And so a lot of times the work that people need to do right up front is actually figure out what they can take off their plate first and need that space.

Tony:  And I love, I talk about when somebody will do that, they’ll get the little dopamine bump of okay, but then I say, now listen to all the “Yeah, Buts” that come in. Well, yeah, but I need to do this. Or, yeah. But somebody well thinks I shouldn’t or, so I’ll do it later. I’ll figure it out later. And then later.

Mike: No, that’s exactly right. I think especially as busy adults, we’ll fill our time if we’re not deliberate about it. And so taking that type of control, again, as simple as it sounds, nobody really does this. But once you’ve freed up your schedule, actually schedule it. We’ve been sort of socially conditioned that our calendars are immutable, but they’re primarily filled with work obligations or, for parents, oftentimes children’s obligations. Like make it an obligation to reconnect with one of your best friends or to do an activity that you know, really lights you up. And then, another thing that becomes problematic and again, it goes back to this concept that I’m trying to figure out how to package to say more eloquently, but it is really this issue of equity, right? So one of the constructs that I think becomes difficult for especially parents, is this idea that oh, I can’t do anything on a school night because that’s just not how people do things, right? Like, no, you can go take dance classes Wednesday night, that’s okay. And yeah, and once you’re able to do that, there are two things that happen, right? One, it often comes from a place of guilt, but like, I won’t be there for my kids. Well, were you there for your kids when you were so exhausted that you popped down on the couch and watched two hours of Netflix, that wasn’t really time spent with your kids? So either be honest about that and actually spend time with your kids. Or realize that you’re not doing anything restorative. Like essentially oftentimes when people do, sort of plop down on the couch, they’re also on their phones. So it really just becomes an extension of work anyways. And so, changing out those types of activities is something that really lights you up and is completely separate from your sense of duty, starts to build more vitality into your life. The problem is you need to do it for like two or three weeks. So that’s kind of the second hump, right? You don’t actualize the benefit, but that time that you thought would burn you out, but I’ll be so tired at work on Thursday, that’s just not empirically true.

Tony: Okay. I’m glad you said that. Because I feel like that’s a, yeah, but, and I feel like when people are saying, but I, but I am, but I am tired. And that’s where sometimes I feel like it’s so hard to get somebody to self confront with that.

Mike: Yeah just try it, right? Yeah. Self experiment, but you gotta do it for two to three weeks. Change is difficult. We create, you’ve discussed this, at least in the episodes that I’ve heard, about the issues of cognitive load, right? And so you add that extra burden, the change is going to be difficult at first, the storming, norming, forming process, you know, joining a new group. So all of it’s going to seem kind of uncomfortable, especially for introverts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t do it.

Tony: No, I love that. I like what you’re saying. I call it my emotional baseline theory where, you know, when your baseline’s low, you’re going to respond to everything different, but all the stuff’s still coming at you and self care raises your baseline and you show up different. And so I think what you said a minute ago, I so appreciate where if somebody’s sitting on the couch, they, they’re not, are they being honest with themselves about what they’re doing with their time? And 100% love what you say, because if I took that time and did something that raises my baseline, then I actually show up better as a parent, or whatever that looks like. And people all of a sudden need permission to do it, which I think is kind of interesting and that’s why I think that concept gets brought up a lot. And I think your book is like a giant thing of permission, you know? Because you look at your background and then your experience and that’s why I got kind of excited about this.

Mike: No, I think that’s right. And so what I’ll suggest to someone that you know is showing a lot of resistance against that is, look, there’s 168 hours in the week, just pick one. Because changing out one hour isn’t difficult, right? And if someone really wants to do the work, a time audit is an amazing sort of illuminating activity. Again, 168 hours like that is, it’s not that fun to do. I admit that, but you know, if you can approach it with a level of curiosity, you are always amazed that, oh my goodness, I have habituated this behavior. Time is this really rubbery thing. Right. And it becomes interesting where you don’t realize you’re wasting time. Because when you’re in those moments that aren’t really encoding new memories, they just fly by. It’s not flow by any sense, but when we reminisce back on them, they kind of get condensed as one memory. So we actualize them in a really strange manner where, where you think, we’re kind of led to believe through cognitive error that , oh, I’m just passing time. Where when you start to encode richer experiences, those are the things that start to light you up because now you have a whole tapestry of really cool stuff. And the thing is, this might be worth the people that kind of kept with us during the weed part. The fact that we now know that the brain is a predictive, more than a cause and effect, that allows us to make better predictions. Like, I know I’m going to have fun, so I want to do the thing. Rather than that prediction like, well, this is not going to be that great, so I’m just not going to do it, it kind of falls into Carol Dweck’s work, right, with regards to the problematic aspect of a fixed mind.

Tony: I’m reading one called the Expectation Effect right now, and it has some crazy stories about the expectation in our mind. As a prediction engine, they have one amazing one where a guy was taking placebo in a drug trial. And then he didn’t know he had the placebo, didn’t know how the drug trial worked. And he went into a coma because he overdosed. And so he’s blacking out. He gets to the hospital, they break the double blind study and then the doctor says, you’re okay. It’s like sugar pills. And then he is okay. So I thought, man, look at how powerful the brain is. Where this guy takes 30 m and ms basically, and then he is ready to stroke out. And then until somebody tells him, that really wasn’t medication. I mean that, that power of the brain in that way. So, man, if we can tap that into, I’m going to have a good time. I mean, it’s kind of crazy. 

Mike: Yeah. The one that fascinates me,  I think I got access to it in Daniel Pink’s Drive, but I could be wrong. Is that story about the study in the UK where they pulled a bunch of teachers within the class that the kids were all gifted even though they were average students. And then, and then all of a sudden, by the end of the year, they were all exceptional students. I mean, you know, this stuff is just so profound and, you know, I wish we used it more.

Tony: Well, is it on your website? I can’t remember if you talked about it in your book or the website, but you’ve got some new activity is it every month or quarter? And you’re again, intentionally just doing things, which, even if they aren’t things that you have a passion for. I mean, is that part of what this is about.

Mike: It’s not part of the book. It’s something interesting I did in 2007 and I did it just because I like to kind of create these systems as I discussed before. I guess it was more radical than I initially believed. Like for me, I just wanted to continually keep my saw sharp. I think I might have just read Steve and, you know, I was like, oh, let me come up with something simple where the bar is low enough, I know I’ll do it. And so I committed for 25 years to interview two people a quarter, do something kind of out of my comfort zone or fun every quarter, and then donate time and money, the idea there was I wanted to give one year of my life back. And so, I initially did it with just friends and family, as a way to commit to it, you know, like, hey, I’m going to email you every three months and let you know how it’s going and I’m halfway through now. And I guess a lot of people are finding value in that story because they’re like, you know, for me it was just a simple system, and obviously just doing a few things every three months isn’t hard. But again, it goes back to that topic of equity, right? Like I guess now that I have stuck with it and I’m halfway through and gotten to talk to over a hundred amazing people, that’s certainly been enriching, you know?  I’ve had a lot of fun along the way too, because of these prompts to do that, you know? 

Tony: Yeah. I apologize because I took you in the weeds so long that we only have a couple more minutes left for me but, I mean, I couldn’t endorse the book enough and I’ll have links to everything. And I want you to come back on and I’m going to, I had reached out to Mike before and I want him, I want to try to make him laugh. So we’re going to do that as well but where do people find you, and kind of share all of your information cuz , your website alone was really fun as well. I mean, you got a nice, I like the video of the analogy going down the river and the boat. I mean that one really spoke for me. There’s just a lot of good info. Yeah. So where do people find you? 

Mike: So my website is michaelrucker.com. The book, the Fun Habit, is available for pre-order now unless you’re listening to this after January 3rd, 2023. And then it’s available for sale wherever you enjoy buying books. And I play a little bit on social media, perform better on Twitter and the Wonder of Fun on Instagram.

Tony: Okay. All right, Mike, are you ready? 

Mike: I don’t, like I said, I’m the worst joke teller which is ironic. 

Tony: Well, the name of the book though. Fun. I mean, so, right, but no pressure here. And I just think this is fun because I have a, I talk about humor as a value and one of the big things that I’ve enjoyed is even when I first was a therapist, I thought, well, I have to be a real therapist and I can’t be funny or crack jokes. And then I thought that was going against what my values are and then the more, yeah, I use humor every now and again somebody will say it’s silly and I kind of don’t care. Not in a bad way, you know.

Mike: No, I mean, I have got dug into the lack of research for obvious reasons and it’s so interesting how many benefits there are to it. I mean laughing yoga is there for a reason.

Tony: I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that was a thing. 

Mike: Yeah. And it’s not just hokey, I mean, again, there’s some good, it’s not just an anecdotal practice. So anyways, I’ll do my best. 

Tony: Okay. So, I’ll go first. I’ll try to make you laugh, and trust me, these are not, now I feel pressure because they’re not hilarious jokes, but you know, I feel like the pressure of, okay. I’ll do two, two of them. Okay man. Now I feel pressure to find a good one. Here we go, alright, Mike Rucker, try not to laugh. My dad unfortunately passed away when we couldn’t remember his blood type. His last words to us were, be positive.

Mike: Not gonna work. My wife’s B positive, so. 

Tony: Okay. That was good. You’re good. All right. Right. Here we go. Okay. Okay. I’m gonna try one more time. You might be the first person to then not laugh, and that was hilarious. Here we go. All right. Mike Rucker. Try not to laugh. I lost my job at the bank on my very first day. A woman asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over. 

Mike: All right, you got me. 

Tony: Oh, no. I think that you were, that was a courtesy laugh. Okay, here we go. All right, I’m ready. 

Mike: So this one’s a little bit provocative, but I know you have a background in MFT, so, and I usually use this one to cheer up my friends that are going through a really tough time. Again, it’s meant to be with levity, not meant to be sharp. Okay. Why is divorce so expensive? 

Tony: Well, I don’t know this one.

Mike: Because it’s worth it.

Tony: Just coughing.

Mike: That’s my best one. 

Tony: Okay, great. Absolutely done with levity, of course, as a world renowned marriage therapist, that, you know, that’s great. 

Mike: Are the edges sharp enough? This isn’t, this is too on pc, but I figured, you know, it’s good. It’s good. 

Tony: That clip might not go in as in the reel of announcing my magnetic marriage course. No, but. But it might go on my Waking up to Narcissism podcast, you know? So you never know.  

Mike: Do you want the dumb dad one that it was? Where is happiness made? At the satisfactory.

Tony: I don’t know. Okay. That’s, I, I like those jokes. I’m not gonna lie. So that was pretty good. Mike, what a pleasure. And, and this will go out before January, so people pre-order the book. I mean, I have it, and it really is, it’s really good. I really enjoy it, but your website has a lot of good stuff there, and so I recommend people sign up for your newsletter and there’s a lot that, and you’ve got a little mini course there as well, right?

Mike: Yeah, yeah. Anyone that signs up will get access to that for sure.

Tony: Okay, cool. Okay. And then I would love to talk to you again down the road. All right. Thanks a lot, Mike. Thank you. 

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