Excerpts from Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferriss (This book is a collection of responses to a series of questions, so much of it reads a bit like the transcript of an interview) 

“Tim Ferriss: If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

Tim Urban: It would be a magical billboard that would display something unique for each person who looked at it. The billboard would be able to mind-read, figuring out which group of people the viewer was most one-dimensionalizing, demonizing, and dehumanizing in their heads. For one viewer today, that might be Trump voters. For another, it might be Muslims. For another, it might be black people, or wealthy white people, or sex offenders. Whichever the group, the viewer would see an image of a member of that group doing something that reminded the viewer of that type or persona full, three-dimensional humanity. Maybe it would be that person sitting by the deathbed of their parent, or helping their child with their homework, or doing some silly hobby that the viewer also happened to like.”

Tim Ferriss: What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Gabor Mate: Just say no” (to drugs, gambling, eating, sex, etc.) is the least helpful advice one can say to a human being caught up in any addiction. If they could say no, they would. The whole point of addiction is that people are compelled to it by suffering, trauma, unease, and emotional pain. If you want to help people, ask why they are in so much pain that they are driven (there’s that word again) to escape from it through ultimately self-harming habits or substances. Then support them in healing the trauma at the core of their addiction, a process that always starts with nonjudgmental curiosity and compassion.”

Ferriss, Timothy. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World (p. 344). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.


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