A friend interrogated me about my job. I’m re-sharing what I told her here.

My desk and dog.

I write for a living. People find this more fascinating than it is.

As I’ve written about in the past, writing is hard. It’s also a lonely endeavor. One that forces you to be something of a hermit, obsessed with a specific topic for weeks or months (or even years, in my case) on end until you release the work into the world.

But still, people think it’s cool. For example, I recently had dinner who grilled me about writing and my process. I figured I’d share what we talked about.

Q: What do you eat/drink to keep yourself charged…

It goes against everything you’ve heard about asking questions

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

My career as a journalist who writes about complicated topics like health, psychology, physiology, anthropology, etc. means that I’m constantly talking to very smart people. The kind of people with all sorts of letters behind their name, whose studies appear on the cover of Nature and Science, and who talk in long and data-filled streams of consciousness. People who make me feel dumb.

So I often get self-conscious when I interview these people. I’m the type of person who once went to the emergency room after inflating his hand into a balloon when he tried to clean a puncture wound…

Carrying weight for distance is the best form of exercise — but let’s not overthink it

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

I recently wrote about rucking and how the human body was built to carry weight over distance. Humans are unique among animals because we can carry stuff from point A to B. As we evolved, we’d use this skill to hunt and gather, which allowed us to expand as a species, fuel our expensive brains, and, eventually, take over the world. (If you want to know more about that, read my book, The Comfort Crisis.)

Still today, carrying is arguably the best form of exercise. It works your cardio and strength at once—cardio for people who hate to run and…

Think of your demise—often—as the ultimate immersive experience

Photo by Chris Arthur-Collins on Unsplash

HBO’s The White Lotus wrapped up last Sunday. It’s a great show I recommend. Think: Succession but at a luxury Hawaiian vacation resort.

In the final episode Jennifer Coolidge’s character (who is perfect in the role) says something that got me thinking about my own work. Coolidge’s character is a rich and broken, the type who uses far-out spa services and offbeat treatments to try to feel normal.

In the final episode she describes death as the “ultimate immersive experience,” like it’s perhaps the perfect spa treatment.

In my new book, The Comfort Crisis, I investigate the connection between modern…

More screen time is only going to break your brain. Try this stuff instead.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The average American today spends nearly 12 hours a day on digital media. That figure includes all the time we spend focused on our phones, tvs, computers, tablets, and the audible information we beam into our ears.

Let’s face it, most of our digital time is wasted. We typically don’t use it reading literary classics, wiring money to widows and orphans, or learning a new language. …

How to win back your time and productivity

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I was emailing with Ross McCammon, my editor here at Medium. I told him that “I’ve been absolutely slammed with travel, book promotion, and teaching a summer course” at UNLV, where I’m a professor.

He suggested I write a post about five ways to unslam. It was his way of prompting me to post, yes. But also, perhaps, introspect about how I could better manage my workload.

I thought about what techniques I’d used in the past to not only decompress, but also decompress in a way that fed back into my work. …

A neuroscientist is discovering that time in nature is one of the best ways to reduce stress and increase happiness and productivity. Here are the specific doses that work the magic.

Photo by Silvestri Matteo on Unsplash

In my new book The Comfort Crisis, which looks at the benefits of engaging with forms of mind-and-body-enhancing discomfort our ancestors faced every day, I spend a section unpacking all the benefits of the outdoors … of which, I found, there are a metric shit-ton.

The problem: Most of us today rarely experience the natural world. We spend 93 percent of our time indoors. More than half of Americans don’t go outside for any type of recreation at all. That includes the simple stuff like walking and jogging. The time we spend outdoors has declined over the past few of…

The rise of Tentrr and other glamping options is a great entry point to the outdoors. But they miss some critical benefits of roughing it.

Photo by Andrew Peluso on Unsplash

Hipcamp, Tentrr, and Dyrt all pitch themselves as some version of private, comfortable, and stylish camping. Think: AirBNB of outdoor spaces. Sites range from a bare spot on someone’s parcel of land to full-on glamping, with large canvas tents pitched over hardwood floors and including queen-size beds with fresh linens, solar showers, ample drinking water, wood stoves, and an eco-friendly camp toilet. Glamping has boomed in popularity and is projected to grow about 15 percent every year; it makes up about 90 percent of Tentrr’s bookings, according to the Washington Post.

And while glamping seems an ideal way to experience…

The noise is driving you nuts

From my trip in Alaska // Photo credit: Sicmanta

I recently spent more than a month in the Arctic reporting my new book, The Comfort Crisis. It investigates how our modern, comfortable, effortless environments are at the root of many of our common physical and mental health problems. This tip into comfort, convenience, and ease is all invasive—often in ways we don’t expect. Take how our soundscape has changed.

One morning in the Arctic I exited my tent and walked a few hundred yards out on to the tundra. The snowy peaks of the Brooks Range Mountains were illuminating to the north, and the eastern sky was cantaloupe and…

A psychological phenomenon explains why we are so terrible at seeing how good we have it

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I was recently on one of my favorite radio shows of all time, NPR’s RadioWest, talking about my new book, The Comfort Crisis. The show’s host, Doug Fabrizio, started the interview by asking me to tell a story about two Harvard psychologists, David Levari and Daniel Gilbert, who a few years ago noticed something funny while standing in line for TSA. And what they noticed led them to conduct a study that can explain why so many of us are so bad at seeing how good we have it.

You can listen to me tell the story on the show…

Michael Easter

Author of The Comfort Crisis // Professor // Writing about physical + mental health, psychology, and living better 1x week // eastermichael.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store