#284 ‒ Overcoming addictive behaviors, elevating wellbeing, thriving in an era of excess, and the scarcity loop | Michael Easter, M.A.

The Peter Attia Drive

08-01-2024 • 1 hr 57 mins

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Bestselling author Michael Easter returns to The Drive to discuss his new book, Scarcity Brain. In this episode, Michael explores the evolutionary backdrop that molded human beings, a setting characterized by scarce food, limited information, and few possessions. He contrasts that with the modern era, marked by abundance and comfort, and the ensuing repercussions on our physical and mental well-being. Michael introduces the concept of the “scarcity loop,” a three-part behavior cycle which helps explain modern challenges such as overeating, addiction, gambling, and materialism, and offers practical strategies to break free from its cycle. The episode culminates in a thought-provoking exploration of happiness, drawing on Michael's experiences with monks and underscoring the value of boredom, exploration, and discomfort as transformative elements that elevate awareness, presence, and the will to live.

We discuss:

  • Inspiration for Michael’s latest book, Scarcity Brain [2:15];
  • Evolutionary adaptations to the scarcity of food contrasted with the modern obesity crisis [4:00];
  • Lessons learned about diet and nutrition from living with hunter-gatherers [9:30];
  • The impact of ultra-processed foods on energy balance [20:30];
  • Michael’s experience with attempting the hunter-gatherer diet at home [27:30];
  • The roots of excess: factors that contribute to overeating and the varied vulnerabilities among individuals [34:00];
  • The scarcity loop: how components of the scarcity loop are illustrated in gambling and addiction [39:45];
  • Using knowledge of the scarcity loop to break the cycle [50:45];
  • The evolutionary drive to acquire material possessions [58:15];
  • The benefits of boredom and value of exploration [1:07:00];
  • The consequences of an attention economy driven by negativity bias [1:16:30];
  • Navigating the world of endless information and the value in “slow information” [1:23:00];
  • Defining happiness, and the downward trend in reports of happiness [1:33:00];
  • Purpose, austerity, self-reliance and other missing elements of happiness gleaned from the study of monks [1:38:30];
  • The value in uncomfortable activities that increase your awareness, presence, and will to live [1:48:45]; and
  • More.

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