Transforming Your Mindset About Aging

In this eye-opening episode, I sit down with Chip Conley, founder of the Modern Elder Academy and author of Learning to Love Midlife: 12 Reasons Why Life Gets Better with Age. Chip shares his insights on embracing the power of midlife and reframing the way we think about aging. We dive into the concept of the “modern elder” and how combining curiosity and wisdom can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Chip introduces the idea of “middle essence,” the midlife equivalent of adolescence, and shares strategies for navigating this transformative period. He also discusses the three stages of transitions and offers practical advice for coping with each stage. We explore the importance of cultivating purpose, harvesting wisdom, and maintaining social connections as we age.

If you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond and looking for inspiration and guidance on making the most of this exciting chapter of life, this episode is for you. Chip’s insights will help you shift your mindset, embrace your potential, and thrive in midlife and beyond.

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00:05:15 – Reframing midlife as a 40-year era of opportunity
00:07:08 – The surprising research on longevity and positive aging mindsets
00:09:33 – Why making fun of aging is the last socially acceptable bias
00:13:15 – The modern elder: combining curiosity and wisdom
00:17:21 – Navigating the chrysalis: the transformative period of midlife
00:20:59 – The three stages of transitions and coping mechanisms for each
00:25:05 – Cultivating purpose: the four paths to finding meaningful direction
00:28:18 – The importance of social connection and getting an outside perspective

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Learning to Love Midlife: 12 Reasons Why Life Gets Better with Age

Chip’s Commune course: Thriving Through Midlife & Beyond with Chip Conley

JJ’s Commune course: Age Powerfully with JJ Virgin

Click Here To Read Transcript

[00:00:00] JJ: I’m JJ Virgin, PhD dropout, sorry mom, turned four time New York Times bestselling author. Yes, I’m a certified nutrition specialist, fitness hall of famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe, but I’m driven by my enthusiasm. [00:00:20] Satiable, curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information that I uncover with as many people as I can.

[00:00:28] JJ: And that’s why I created the Well Beyond 40 Podcast to synthesize and simplify the science of health.

[00:00:38] JJ: In each episode, we’ll talk about [00:00:40] what’s working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism, to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness. Join me on the journey to better health, so you can love how you look and feel right now, and have the energy to play full out. A couple years ago, [00:01:00] I was at a retreat and my girlfriend Vivian had her friend Chip Conley come over and talk to all of us.

[00:01:08] JJ: And Chip Conley started to talk about his concept of the modern elder academy and making midlife the best time of their lives. Life and learning to love it. And I was like, [00:01:20] I love this concept so much. And I think, you know, if you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know, as I, as I started approaching 60, I’m like, all right.

[00:01:29] JJ: I heard from Dr. Mark Hyman that if you’re positive about aging, you live seven and a half years longer. I’m like, well, that’s easy. And then I saw this book that Chip came out with [00:01:40] learning to love midlife 12 reasons why life gets better with age. Oh my goodness. It’s actually a manual for how to do this.

[00:01:49] JJ: So I’m super excited to have Chip on the show today. He’s actually a well known hospitality entrepreneur. He, uh, had one of America’s first boutique hotelier brands and, [00:02:00] uh, Joie de Vivre, and then he became the in house mentor for the Airbnb founders. And when he was doing that, He describes that he was 52, but he was the old guy at the time because everyone was 26.

[00:02:12] JJ: You know, it was a tech, little tech company. So they called him the modern elder. And that’s where everything started to happen. He started to connect [00:02:20] these dots about middle age, about, um, really how you can navigate middle age and love it. And I like to joke that if I could have skipped over You know, especially the teenage years.

[00:02:32] JJ: I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have taken a little, little jump over those and gotten to this point in life. Like, this is [00:02:40] definitely, uh, the most fun time, the most fun time I’m having here. So here’s someone who actually has the manual. for how to do that. Now, this isn’t the only book he’s written.

[00:02:50] JJ: He’s written seven books and, you know, a couple of New York Times bestsellers. He’s been on TED stage three times. We are going to be linking to his TED talks. And he [00:03:00] is the founder and CEO of the Modern Elder Academy. He calls it MEA, which is the world’s first midlife Wisdom School. He’s got campuses in Baja, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

[00:03:13] JJ: And so you’re going to want to grab the book. I’m going to put everything at jjvirgin. com forward slash love [00:03:20] midlife so that you can grab the book. He does a blog every day. You can learn more about MEA. And check out his TED talks and I will be right back with Chip Conley. Stay with me.[00:03:40]

[00:03:42] JJ: All right, Chip Conley, welcome to Well Beyond 40. I feel like this show was made for you. First of

[00:03:48] Chip Conley: all, I love of your name, JJ Virgin. I love Well Beyond 40. I think you’re a branding expert. Um, and so I just want to say, you know, hats off to you, my dear.

[00:03:59] JJ: Well, thank [00:04:00] you so much. Um, JJ Virgin was literally, cause I was teaching aerobics in Japan.

[00:04:06] JJ: When I was in college and they couldn’t pronounce Julie, so I became Jumbo JJ. I kid you not. And back then my name was Julie Johnson. And then, and I became JJ and then I [00:04:20] married a virgin. There you go. I married a virgin. And so you took his name. So I took his name and I had virgin boys. His last name was virgin.

[00:04:32] JJ: His last name’s virgin. Funnier even story from that. His last name’s Virgin. I remember, you know, I give birth to my first son and [00:04:40] literally they had a little sign on his bassinet that said, Virgin boy. And I’m like, this is so funny. Then, um, yeah, so, so there you go. And my team came up with Well Beyond 40.

[00:04:51] JJ: I cannot take responsibility for it. It is fantastic, but what a perfect show for, for you with learning to love [00:05:00] midlife. There’s so much to unpack here, um, with this book, but what I love the most is as I’ve, as I’ve looked at this, first of all, I’ve realized that midlife is, you know, I think, where was I looking at this where, where all of a sudden I go, is 60 considered to be like a senior?

[00:05:17] JJ: Because as far as I’m concerned, midlife is [00:05:20] like 40 to 80, right? I, I think it’s 35

[00:05:24] Chip Conley: to 75. So, I mean, it’s, Here’s the best way to define midlife. It’s less about the specific ages, it’s more about the era. It’s the era, it’s the bridge in between early adulthood and later adulthood, right? I [00:05:40] mean, midlife is between early and late, and so As we live longer, guess what?

[00:05:46] Chip Conley: That bridge is longer. So I, yes, I don’t think people 50 years ago would have said midlife lasts 40 years, but we’ve seen a lot more longevity and we also see people staying healthier, staying in the workplace [00:06:00] longer. So 75, you know, could easily be a midlife for someone

[00:06:04] JJ: who’s going to live to 100.

[00:06:06] JJ: Perfect. Well, I’m going for 120. So I’m pushing this midlife out to maybe even 90. And I, you know, as I was getting ready to turn 60, I heard a quote and the quote was people who were [00:06:20] positive about aging live seven and a half years longer than those who aren’t. And I go, well, that’s easy. Let’s do that.

[00:06:27] Chip Conley: Yeah. It’s that, that comes from Becca Levy from Yale. Oh, and she’s like a good friend of MEA, our program. Um, because you know, here’s the part that’s interesting about this, uh, JJ. There, there’s all kinds of [00:06:40] great data out there and Peter Attia and Mark Hyman and you name it, you and others talking about the physical side of longevity and what the opportunity is there.

[00:06:51] Chip Conley: But there’s actually at this point, no physical intervention that has been found, not stopping smoking at 50, not [00:07:00] starting. Exercise at 50, not sleeping better, not stressing less. There’s nothing that has been found to be better in terms of increasing longevity than the socio emotional piece of like, how do I shift my mindset from a negative to a positive when it comes to aging?

[00:07:17] Chip Conley: And it’s not easy to do because we live in a very ageist society. [00:07:20] Um, but it’s, if you can do it and you do it well, then you get a lot more life. And not only do you get more life, you get a happier life. Because quite frankly, if at 60, you’re like, You’re depressed all the time and you’re trying to convince yourself that aging is not a terrible thing.

[00:07:36] Chip Conley: Um, you know, who wants to be around you if you can live to [00:07:40] 120? Because, you know, frankly, you’re not gonna be a lot of fun.

[00:07:43] JJ: Well, what I’ve seen so far is if I could have fast forwarded from say 12, you know, If I could have taken the 12 to 40 year old time span and just jumped past that.

[00:07:57] Chip Conley: So why? So tell us, tell us, [00:08:00] tell the listeners why.

[00:08:01] Chip Conley: What was going on between 12 and 40? You didn’t like

[00:08:03] JJ: it. It’s just, there was a mindset shift. And I was actually talking to Dr. Lisa Musconi yesterday. Have you seen her work? And she was talking about, uh, the female brain and how different it is at puberty, pregnancy, and you know, And menopause, perimenopause on, [00:08:20] and I went, and then the beautiful shift that happens at perimenopause, and I go, gosh, I keep, it’s been fantastic.

[00:08:26] JJ: I wish I could have had that shift earlier. And it isn’t a physical body shift. It’s absolutely a mental shift that is fantastic, right? Yeah, no,

[00:08:37] Chip Conley: you know, Margaret Mead, the cultural [00:08:40] anthropologist used to, she used to have a term called postmenopausal zest and what she meant by that was there was like, you know, once a woman goes through menopause, not only does she have the relief of knowing, okay, I don’t, I won’t get pregnant, you know, with a surprise, but there’s a new found sort of confidence and freedom and sense Of [00:09:00] wanting to take on life.

[00:09:01] Chip Conley: And, um, yeah, no, no doubt about it. And I, you know, I, you know, pre before 40, it was just a light. It was just a dress rehearsal.

[00:09:09] JJ: Exactly. So why the heck then is it all of this, you know, you turn 50 over the hill, all this, like, why is this so misrepresented? We’ve [00:09:20] made fun of

[00:09:20] Chip Conley: aging and, um, you know, I think it’s good to have a sense of humor.

[00:09:25] Chip Conley: I have one and I enjoy using it. At the same time, um, if you were to make fun in, in the era we live in today, make fun of someone because they’re gay, make someone because of they’re, they’re a woman or because [00:09:40] they’re a person of color, you know, you get slapped around, but you make fun of someone because they’re a, they’re older.

[00:09:46] Chip Conley: It’s okay. So it’s, so there’s a social, it’s the, it’s the last socially acceptable bias that we can have. Um, but what’s, what’s also weird about it is it’s also the only. You know, all those other demographics, not everybody can be those things. [00:10:00] But when it comes to aging, if you’re lucky, you will be that thing.

[00:10:03] Chip Conley: And everybody, it’s universal. But I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that American culture has defined sense of self esteem and the sense of success a lot based upon the body. You know, you got a good body, got a good face, got it. You know, you’re looking good. You’re looking young. [00:10:20] Um, there’s that.

[00:10:21] Chip Conley: And I think there’s also a sort of an economic issue here, which is back in the agricultural era, you know, if you had a wise elder around the farm, they had land wisdom. They could smell the rain three days ahead and they could, they just knew things. There was an intuition. And then we went from agriculture to industrial.

[00:10:39] Chip Conley: We didn’t need [00:10:40] elders on the factory line. In fact, And then we went to the technology era and like, Oh no, you do not want your elders running, you know, uh, Google. So the bottom line is we’ve sort of moved into a direction where the body defines who’s powerful and happy and [00:11:00] sexy. And you know, our careers are more and more focused on younger people.

[00:11:06] Chip Conley: So I like to say, We’re in an era where we’re living longer, power is moving younger, and the world is changing faster. And that has a lot of people in their 40s, a bit bewildered.

[00:11:18] JJ: So, you started [00:11:20] this Modern Elder Academy. I was intrigued, purely the name alone, because I look at other cultures, and other cultures celebrate elders.

[00:11:33] JJ: Right? I lived in, I lived in Japan for a while and I’m like, very different cultural situation than in the United [00:11:40] States. And so what’s the premise behind that and how, how do we, how do we start to do that same thing where we’re celebrating elders and we have a place to be?

[00:11:51] Chip Conley: Yeah, there’s a, there’s a couple of thoughts here.

[00:11:52] Chip Conley: Number one is the reason the even name Modern Elder Academy, or we usually use the acronym MEA now, the [00:12:00] reason it came about was because I was at Airbnb. I was a longtime boutique hotelier, ran the second largest boutique hotel company in the U. S., started it and, and, uh, and then at 50 sold it. And, I struggled with my late forties, went through a really rough time.

[00:12:16] Chip Conley: And then in my early fifties, I had a midlife atrium, some time and space to [00:12:20] reflect on what I want to do next. And then I was asked by the founders of Airbnb at age 52 to come in and be their in house mentor and basically help them run the company. And so, um, they started calling me the modern elder because at 52, the average age in the company was 26.

[00:12:34] Chip Conley: I was twice the age. So let’s start by saying, That elder is not a time of your life. It’s [00:12:40] not like last five years of your life, like being elder Lee. Elder is a relative term. Tom Brady was an elder in the NFL. Um, you know, uh, any fashion model in their thirties is probably an elder, uh, a software engineer in Silicon Valley at 35 is an elder.

[00:12:55] Chip Conley: So it’s a relative term. But what they said to me is chip, you are our modern elder. And then they [00:13:00] said, a modern elder is someone who’s as curious as they are wise. And I was like, oh wow, the alchemy of curiosity and wisdom. I want to be that when I grow up. So I owned that. I owned being Airbnb’s modern elder.

[00:13:13] Chip Conley: And then when I decided to create the world’s first midlife wisdom school, MEA, the Modern Elder Academy, um, I doubled down [00:13:20] on, on elder, on modern elder. You know, in retrospect, it’s a challenging name because, um, our average age of people who come to MEA is 54 and we’ve had one sixth of the people who come to MEA are millennials, which is so surprising with the name we have, but it’s a wisdom school and people are really curious about how to cultivate [00:13:40] and harvest their wisdom.

[00:13:41] Chip Conley: Um, but I also believe that maybe we can reclaim the word. You know, maybe, maybe we, I like the fact that it says modern elder because this is not about, this is not a school where people come to say, okay, everybody has to respect me now. It’s not about reverence. It’s about relevance. Relevance is [00:14:00] like, how do you, how do you make, take your wisdom and make it relevant as I had to at, in a tech company.

[00:14:07] Chip Conley: I’d never worked in a tech company before. So how are you relevant? How are, how are you helping people to see That maybe your best years are ahead of you.

[00:14:16] JJ: Yeah, I love that idea of reverence. [00:14:20] Reverence versus relevance. And because I think, you know, we look at our elders with reverence, but we don’t ask them questions because we feel like it’s not relevant.

[00:14:30] JJ: Right. So,

[00:14:32] Chip Conley: well, there’s that,

[00:14:32] JJ: or

[00:14:33] Chip Conley: frankly, we don’t see them because they’re off in, you know, age apartheid in some retirement community or nursing home. They’re at the villages over here. [00:14:40] They’re at the villages. Yes. Yes.

[00:14:41] JJ: And how long has this modern elder academy been going on?

[00:14:45] Chip Conley: Six years in Baja and we’ve had 4, 300 people come to our campus from 47 countries to go through a week long or a two week long program with us, and now we have a 2, 600 acre [00:15:00] regenerative horse ranch out in Baja.

[00:15:01] Chip Conley: It’s outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico

[00:15:03] JJ: that opens

[00:15:03] Chip Conley: this

[00:15:03] JJ: spring. And someone goes there. What, why are they coming? And what are they coming out with? Like, what are the lessons learned?

[00:15:11] Chip Conley: Well, so the reason they’re coming is usually, uh, has many reasons, but the primary reason is they’re, they’re stuck. They’re trying to [00:15:20] navigate a transition and they feel stuck.

[00:15:21] Chip Conley: Uh, they are recently divorced and they don’t know what to do. They have sold their company and they feel lost and purposeless. They’ve gotten fired. They don’t know what to, you know, they, they feel like they’re over the hill. Um, they had a medical diagnosis that scared them or they’re empty [00:15:40] nesters and they’re, and they’ve lost intimacy with their partner.

[00:15:44] Chip Conley: So there’s a lot of reasons people come. It’s not just personal, not just professional, but they’re coming partly because they want to reframe their relationship with aging, um, and have a, have a different perspective on the second half of their adult life. The, the program [00:16:00] really has three key pieces to it.

[00:16:01] Chip Conley: Navigating transitions, cultivating purpose and owning wisdom. And the only wisdom piece is the one that I like the most because it’s not something we talk about a lot. You know, when, when the founders of Airbnb said, you’re a modern elder, you’re the combination of curiosity and wisdom. And then they said, we hired you for your knowledge, but what you really brought was your wisdom.

[00:16:19] Chip Conley: I was like, I [00:16:20] don’t even know what you’re talking about. What is the hell is wisdom? Um, And wisdom is really best defined as, you know, your painful life lessons that are the raw material for your future wisdom. So, you know, life experience, the more you have of it, the more, the more raw material and ingredients you have to potentially create wisdom.

[00:16:38] Chip Conley: But there are lots of people who are in their 80s who don’t [00:16:40] have, who are not wise because they didn’t make sense of their experiences. They didn’t metabolize what they were learning along the way. So one of my favorite, um, exercises is to actually every weekend, you know, You know, sit down and say, what I learned this week and how’s it going to serve me in the future?

[00:16:54] Chip Conley: And I might write down six different things. Didn’t you have a little book of that? I’ve been doing that for 35 years. [00:17:00] It’s, it’s nine actual journals, but about 10, 15 years ago, I turned into Google docs. And so I now just do Google docs. But yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s a, to be able to make sense of what you’ve gone through and then ask, how will it serve me moving forward, is [00:17:20] the ultimate wisdom practice, um, that helps you become wiser.

[00:17:26] Chip Conley: And wisdom is going to be trending, guys. You know, hey, Knowledge is a dime a dozen now, especially in the era of AI. And so the world is full of knowledge and we’re awash in it. And, and so what becomes scarce [00:17:40] is this idea of like wisdom, human centered wisdom, what we learn. And, and AI has yet to be able to figure out empathy or intuition or collaboration or a variety of other things that, you know, are really human centric and, um, or just literally being able to walk into a room and sense.

[00:17:59] Chip Conley: [00:18:00] Something is not quite right. That’s something AI does. AI also does, AI gives you answers also. Picasso said a long ago, computers are useless. They only give you answers. And you know, someone who’s wise actually poses beautiful questions. Jimi Hendrix said, knowledge speaks and wisdom listens. And so learning how to listen [00:18:20] and then to Be very thoughtful and catalytic in your questions is part of what it means to be wise.

[00:18:28] JJ: And this can be learned?

[00:18:31] Chip Conley: Yes. I mean, it definitely, there’s tools. Um, there’s tools that can help you become wiser. There’s definitely tools [00:18:40] that can help you navigate transitions. Um, I mean, that’s really one of, you know, you were talking earlier about 12 to 40, you know, what was going on in your adolescence.

[00:18:51] Chip Conley: Is an era that we’re all very familiar with and it’s one where we Laugh a little bit because when kids are going through adolescence, they’re going through so [00:19:00] much change And they’re going through rites of passage and rituals that and we as a society have helped Adolescents become something that kids go through with each other and they have their first kiss and their first, you know, uh, whatever And they, you know, they experienced that together.

[00:19:17] Chip Conley: There’s a word that is less known and it’s called [00:19:20] middle essence and it really is midlife. And we’re in midlife, we’re going through hormonal, emotional, physical, and identity transitions, but we have no rites of passage or no rituals, nothing that helps you to understand the schools or the tools that are going to help you through a roadmap of midlife.

[00:19:37] Chip Conley: Like, you know, when you’re younger, you have, [00:19:40] School counselors and teachers and parents and et cetera, you know, Boy Scouts and sporting teams. And we don’t have that. So we’re often going through middle lessons, midlife, going through all kinds of transitions, but we’re doing it alone. And this is particularly for men, um, because women are so much better at reaching out for help and [00:20:00] support and talking about what’s going on for them.

[00:20:02] Chip Conley: Um, part of the reason why midlife suicide rate for men is so much higher than it is for women is because men don’t talk, and they hold it inside, and they feel like they’re getting the game of life wrong, and then they don’t know what to do. Um, so I lost five male friends to suicide, [00:20:20] ages 42 to 52, during the Great Recession, and I deeply wish that MEA Uh, our school had been around them because, um, I don’t know if it would have saved all five, but I do know it would have given them a sense that what they were going through was not abnormal.

[00:20:37] Chip Conley: So a lot of times, a lot of times we think we’re the only one suffering [00:20:40] through something.

[00:20:41] JJ: So is this because you talk, and I loved this statement so much, it was the difference between a midlife crisis and you view it as a midlife crisis. Chrysalis.

[00:20:52] Chip Conley: Yeah. So, so when we were kids, we learned about the magical metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly [00:21:00] and midlife for the butterfly was the chrysalis.

[00:21:02] Chip Conley: And so you spend the early part of your life like a caterpillar consuming and producing, consuming and producing. And then what the caterpillar does is one day it just starts spinning this little silk chrysalis, which it’s going to go into and then liquidate, liquidate or [00:21:20] liquefy. Um, And it’s dark and gooey and solitary, but it’s also where the transformation happens.

[00:21:24] Chip Conley: And then it comes out the other side, uh, a colorful butterfly ready to pollinate its wisdom in the world. So I, the way I look at life and midlife is it’s not a crisis because actually it is the low point of life satisfaction between 45 and [00:21:40] 50 based upon the social science research called the U curve of happiness.

[00:21:43] Chip Conley: So let’s recognize that, yeah, yeah, 45 to 50 is, is a rough period, but actually after 50, it’s starting at age 50 and beyond, we get happier and happier with each decade. So I like to think of this not as a crisis, but more as a chrysalis, a [00:22:00] time in midlife where you are going through some stuff. It is not easy, and sometimes it feels a little dark and maybe solitary, but if you get it right, You come out the other side as this, you know, pollinating butterfly.

[00:22:15] Chip Conley: So a caterpillar consumes, a chrysalis transforms, and a [00:22:20] butterfly pollinates. And when I say pollinates, I mean literally going out and making a difference in the world, going out and sharing your wisdom. Doing

[00:22:26] JJ: their purpose and their legacy. That’s right. So what, what are the What are the strategies for that gooey, liquefying stage then to get through it?

[00:22:38] JJ: You know, there’s, [00:22:40]

[00:22:40] Chip Conley: come to MEA, buy my book, Learning to Love Midlife.

[00:22:43] JJ: Yeah, and Deb, like, this book is fantastic.

[00:22:46] Chip Conley: Thank you.

[00:22:47] JJ: The 12 Reasons Why Life Gets Better with Age. It’s fantastic. We will link to this in the show notes along with the blog, but yes.

[00:22:55] Chip Conley: If someone doesn’t have that, you know, um, yeah, and you can read my blog because I have a daily blog and [00:23:00] talk about this stuff.

[00:23:01] Chip Conley: But what I would say is, you know, um, there’s a, there’s a, a, a free resource on the MEA website, which is MEAwisdom. com. Go to the bottom header and you’ll see something called the anatomy of a transition. And I would say that’s one of the most important pieces of content that we’ve created at MEA because what it has done is help [00:23:20] people to see that virtually every, um, transition you have in life has three, Stages to it.

[00:23:26] Chip Conley: There’s this, the ending of something, the messy middle, and then the beginning of something new. And once you understand that that’s the sort of the roadmap for going through a transition, you need to then ask, what are the coping [00:23:40] mechanisms for actually going through each of those three stages? Um, and, and the, the ebook, the free ebook that you’ll get if you, if you go there, um, to the, uh, to the website and, and look for the anatomy of a transition at the bottom header.

[00:23:53] Chip Conley: It helps people. With the coping mechanisms for each. So like, for example, when you’re ending something, it’s important to [00:24:00] ritualize it. So you’re getting divorced, have a divorce party. You don’t have to have it with your ex. You, you just have like, do something to celebrate and mark the time. Um, when I was having my prostate taken out or last year, I had a prostate party and I had a bunch of friends, a bunch of male friends together.

[00:24:15] Chip Conley: We talked about, Our prostates and what it has done for us in my life, in our lives. And [00:24:20] so like, okay, that was like a ritual. Um, you know, if you’re an empty nester, do do like the opposite of Ferris Bueller. And if you Ferris Bueller’s parents went away, they had a party at home. And instead when your kids go away, have a party with some other empty nesters and just celebrate.

[00:24:34] Chip Conley: And so ritualization is a really helpful way for you to say that period of [00:24:40] my life. Is over. Then you go to the middle, the middle, uh, section of the, which is the messy middle, and that’s where you need, uh, social support because when you’re in the messy middle, you’re sort of feeling lost at times, you feel a little bit awkward, it’s liminal, uh, to be in between two things.

[00:24:58] Chip Conley: And so support’s [00:25:00] helpful. And then finding your through line, finding what is the theme and how are you going to get through this and visualizing and what it’s going to look like on the other side. Victor Frankl’s work, uh, Was very, you know, about being in a concentration camp and his book, man’s search for meaning really speaks to that.

[00:25:16] Chip Conley: It’s like the way people got through that time was [00:25:20] to imagine how they would have hope and meaning about how this experience would help them in the future. And then the third stage, um, which is the beginning stage is like the butterfly coming out of the chrysalis. You know, most people don’t know it, but when the butterfly comes out of the chrysalis, it doesn’t immediately fly.

[00:25:35] Chip Conley: It usually ends up on the ground with wet wings, having to air out its wings and get [00:25:40] used to the idea of flying for the first time. So when you’re starting something new, you are going to be not, you know, you’re going to be awkward. Also, you’re going to be looked a little silly yet, you know, you are going to make mistakes.

[00:25:51] Chip Conley: So you’ve got to move from a fixed mindset where you’re trying to prove yourself to a growth mindset where you’re trying to improve yourself. So the most important thing to have. Um, in [00:26:00] that third stage of beginning something new is a growth mindset that makes you feel like you, uh, want to get better.

[00:26:07] Chip Conley: You want to learn and improve.

[00:26:10] JJ: Yeah. I was listening to your interview with Commune and we both do Commune courses. And when I heard you had a Commune course on this, I’m like, that’s super cool. We’ll link to that as well. [00:26:20] You brought up a point that’s. Just so true, is you get out of school and when do you get to go, like, I don’t know about you, but I would be in school forever, like, when I was an undergrad.

[00:26:34] JJ: I

[00:26:34] Chip Conley: started, I started a school so that I am in school forever. So I

[00:26:37] JJ: love, like, at UCLA they said [00:26:40] you cannot take any more classes, you have to leave. You have to graduate. That’s it. And I’m like, gosh, I haven’t even come scratched the surface of what I want to learn here. I couldn’t imagine not, you know, continuing to learn.

[00:26:51] JJ: And now there’s so many resources for it. But you get to this point as an adult where you don’t want to look foolish. You don’t want to look like you don’t know how to do [00:27:00] something. So how, you know, what does someone do? How do they get into this mindset of the beginner’s mind and start to learn again?

[00:27:07] JJ: And where are the resources for all of this? I’m assuming MEA.

[00:27:11] Chip Conley: Yeah, that’s MEA. I bet you, you can read about it. Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset and she taught, she distinguished between fixed and growth mindset. And it’s a bit of an [00:27:20] academic read. So you can maybe look for a magazine article or something like that about it.

[00:27:23] Chip Conley: But basically the point is this, when you have a growth mindset, you are less self critical. You’re less, your comparison is the recipe for suffering. And so to be in a comparison mode when you’re beginning is not healthy and not helpful. Um, [00:27:40] and so instead you’ve got to sort of look at yourself and say, am I improving relative to what, how it was last week?

[00:27:46] Chip Conley: And you also have to have a sense of humor. Um, there’s a great Ted talk by a polyglot. I didn’t know what that meant, but a polyglot is someone who knows a lot of languages and it’s a woman from Eastern, Eastern Europe. I don’t remember her name, but she said the number one way to learn a [00:28:00] lot of languages is to laugh.

[00:28:01] Chip Conley: Laughing is learning. And, and I got that when I started at age 57, started learning Spanish. I, I had a wonderful Spanish teacher and she, she was so much fun. And we, she would talk dirty to me in Spanish because she had a new boyfriend and she wanted to tell me about him. And I was like, okay, let’s talk, talk dirty together.

[00:28:18] Chip Conley: And it was her [00:28:20] idea. And Um, but what it did is it helped me to be less self critical and that’s the key. Um, you know, if you were self critical when you were crawling, you would never start walking because it was embarrassing to keep standing up and falling down and have everybody looking at you and taking pictures of you when you’re doing the thing that you’re failing at.[00:28:40]

[00:28:40] Chip Conley: And yet somehow, and we do, we were able to do that. But somehow we get so self conscious, um, as we get older, that we lose that ability to just enjoy the process of learning and making mistakes and feeling like, okay, that’s okay. And sometimes that’s because we have [00:29:00] a lot riding on us being successful.

[00:29:02] Chip Conley: You know, when you’re, when you’re, when you’re a. No, no one’s there’s no obligations, but you know, you’re 45 years old and you’re going to quit your job and start a business and you got three kids and a spouse is like, okay, there’s more risk here in doing this. And [00:29:20] so therefore, um, Yeah. So we, we tend to get risk averse.

[00:29:24] Chip Conley: And so, yeah, you don’t have to take, that’s a very risky scenario I just suggested, but learning how to surf at 57, when I asked myself the question, 10 years from now, what will I regret if I don’t learn it or do it now? That was just a beautiful question, by the way. I’ll, it’s an MEA question. That is

[00:29:38] JJ: a beautiful

[00:29:39] Chip Conley: [00:29:40] question.

[00:29:40] Chip Conley: 10 years from now, what will you regret if you don’t learn it or do it now? Because it, Anticipated regret is a form of wisdom. And so at 57, I was living in Mexico. I was like, I don’t know Spanish. 10 years from now, I’ll regret if I don’t learn it now, because at 67, it’ll be harder than at 57. Although at 57, I was with the mindset like, Oh, [00:30:00] I’m too old to learn a foreign language, but.

[00:30:02] Chip Conley: That question anticipated regret catalyzed me into saying, Oh, I’m going to do it now. Similarly, I was living on a beach in Mexico near a surf break. And I was like, okay, I got to learn to surf now. Um, and so, uh, curiosity and a [00:30:20] willingness to open the, to open to new experiences are both correlated with living longer, healthier, happier lives.

[00:30:26] JJ: Well, also learning, right? I mean, learning new skills is going to help you. I remember they used to think you couldn’t learn things and you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks. And yet we know it’s completely opposite [00:30:40] of that. And in fact we can, but I remember hearing, um, on the other podcast, you were talking about how our brains change with age.

[00:30:48] JJ: And now I don’t remember quite what it was about how you would learn differently.

[00:30:53] Chip Conley: Yeah. So, um, Arthur Brooks wrote a book called From Strength to Strength and wrote about MEA in the book. And, um, [00:31:00] it was a New York Times bestseller. He. Wrote about the fact that as we get older, we move from fluid intelligence to crystallized intelligence.

[00:31:08] Chip Conley: So when we’re young, our brain is very fast and focused, and we tend to move quickly. And then as we get older, the brain shrinks a little bit. And one of the things that happens is we start doing four wheel drive with [00:31:20] the brain. When it’s fast and focused, it doesn’t move very well from left brain to right brain.

[00:31:24] Chip Conley: So it’s adept at going deep. On one or the other, but not like sort of holistically doing both at the same time, you get older, the brain shrinks a little bit. You can actually go adeptly four wheel drive of the brain from the left to right brain. And you start to think not [00:31:40] fast and focused. You start thinking holistically and systemically, and you connect the dots.

[00:31:45] Chip Conley: So, you know, there’s 12 reasons in the book. The book has 12 reasons why life gets better at with age. And one of them is the fact that frankly, we become wiser with pattern recognition and we’re better able to To sort of see the big picture, um, which when you’re young, [00:32:00] you don’t know that even a big picture exists.

[00:32:03] Chip Conley: But when you’re older, you know, a big picture exists and you can have peripheral vision. You also know that when something doesn’t go your way, It’s, you know, it might’ve broken your heart in the moment, but it’s not the end of your life. Age 14, when you’re, when your boyfriend, or girlfriend broke up with you, Oh my [00:32:20] God, my life will never be the same.

[00:32:22] Chip Conley: And, and we, you know, we can say that you can say the same thing at 24, 34, 44, but you get to 54 and beyond, you start to realize, you know, look at all that I have gone through in the past. I will get through this as well. And you have a lot more confidence in your ability to, in [00:32:40] essence, metabolize, you know, bad news.

[00:32:42] JJ: Yeah, I love, I love the idea of metabolizing these things. Uh, that is fantastic. One of the things you mentioned when you’re talking about the three was this purpose. And, you know, I, I coach a lot of health entrepreneurs and for a lot of them, they’re trying to find their [00:33:00] purpose, right? Is there a shift that happens as you get into midlife on purpose?

[00:33:06] JJ: And is there, do you have a process to help people with figuring out

[00:33:11] Chip Conley: Yep. We have an online course called living and working on purpose as well. Um, this was not

[00:33:16] JJ: a setup for that. I didn’t know. I swear.

[00:33:19] Chip Conley: I [00:33:20] know it’s okay. We have, we, you know, it’s like one of our programs. So the thing to know about purpose is that people get.

[00:33:26] Chip Conley: Performance anxiety about purpose. It’s like everybody else has one, and I don’t have one, as if it’s a BMW or something like that. We have purpose, event, envy, and, and so we got to get off the idea of the capital P purpose, because capital P purpose is the kind [00:33:40] of purpose that you feel like, oh my God, they’ll talk about this once I die.

[00:33:43] Chip Conley: You know, my name’s on the building, or I wrote that book, or, and the small p purpose is what we start with, because small p purposes are the things that are purposeful to us. You start with the verb purposeful and you’ll find the noun purpose. So I, what I like [00:34:00] to say is there are four paths to purpose.

[00:34:03] Chip Conley: Um, and they, they can find, you can find them in these four different directions. Something that excites you, something that agitates you, something that you’re curious about, and something that feels like It got [00:34:20] forgotten from childhood or early adulthood, maybe a passion. Um, there’s this woman, this litigation attorney, uh, she’s, did I tell you about this?

[00:34:30] Chip Conley: No, I haven’t mentioned this. 60, 60 year old, uh, litigation attorney. And she hated her job because, you know, if you’re a litigation, you’re a litigator, you’re just like, [00:34:40] you’re fighting all day long. She’s 60 and she felt like she had all this armor on and she came to MEA and she’s like, I, I don’t know what to do.

[00:34:48] Chip Conley: I don’t want to do this anymore, but I’ve got to work. And, um, and I, you know, so I’m going to do, I’m going to find something adjacent to it. And, and so we were going to help her find like, oh, you become a litigation consultant or whatever. But we went through this [00:35:00] exercise, you know, excite, agitate, curious, or something from childhood or early adulthood.

[00:35:05] Chip Conley: And she started having dreams down in Baja. And the dreams were about her grandmother. And the fact that when she was an early teenager, she would go over to her grandmother’s house and they would bake pies and she could smell the pies. And so what she also, when she got [00:35:20] up in the morning and remembered the memory.

[00:35:22] Chip Conley: The, the, the dream. She looked at the fact that whenever she would travel with her husband, and then go to a new city or country, she, she had a weird thing about wanting to go to bakeries. Because she wanted to sort of see what the baked goods were in different places. Like, okay, like, like, that’s a weird pastime.[00:35:40]

[00:35:40] Chip Conley: Um, and then when she’d have friends over, she always like said safe space for dessert because in fact, she even called somethings like safe space for dessert party. Um, but she never put two and two together and saying like, Oh, maybe I should go and train to be a pastry chef for three months and see if I like it.

[00:35:59] Chip Conley: So that’s what she did. [00:36:00] And then she’s like, Oh, I like it a lot. I’m going to quit being a litigation attorney and I’m going to start a bakery in my neighborhood because the bakery in my neighborhood actually closed during COVID and we don’t have a bakery in my neighborhood. And that’s what she’s doing.

[00:36:12] Chip Conley: So excite, agitate, curious, or something that feels forgotten from earlier in life. Um, [00:36:20] I’m not saying that it’s the only way to get there. That part of the reason we have workshops and courses on this is because it’s a lot more complicated than that. But that’s a really short, shorthand way of, of

[00:36:32] JJ: saying you can get there.

[00:36:34] JJ: I just also wonder, Chip, when you hear that story, uh, one of my friends, Mary [00:36:40] Morrissey says, you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame, where you look from the outside and went, all right, well, you know, you, you love pastries. You get the whole thing. You can see it from the outside, but so often we have a thing that we love, but we don’t think about it.

[00:36:55] JJ: And we also don’t think there’s anything unusual about it because it’s normal for us. [00:37:00]

[00:37:00] Chip Conley: Yeah. And this is why we go to therapists. This is why we have coaches. This is, this is why you go to a workshop and with two dozen people in a workshop, all of a sudden feel like, Oh my God, you guys see me. And I haven’t, and I haven’t seen my blind spots.

[00:37:14] Chip Conley: And it’s also part of the reason why friends and family members sometimes are not the people who are going to be helpful here. [00:37:20] Because, because in fact, especially if you want to change, I mean, the systemic situation there is like, Oh, you want to change? I guess that means I have to change. I don’t want to change.

[00:37:31] Chip Conley: So therefore, I don’t want you to change. So like, Oh, okay. That’s that, that’s not a dynamic. That’s gonna, you know, help initiate change in your life. Um, [00:37:40] so yeah, I think that one of the beauties of, um, uh, uh, going to any kind of workshop program is assuming that it’s well, uh, curated and, and facilitated. Is you all of a sudden get to see yourself through other people’s eyes, especially if you’re going into a program like ours where people don’t [00:38:00] know each other’s last names.

[00:38:01] Chip Conley: We don’t send out LinkedIn profiles. The person over the course of five days that you’ve gotten to become best friends with happens to be, uh, you know, a billionaire who knew, or they happen to have been in prison for 10 years earlier in their life. Something you would never have guessed when you first met them, but you found it out halfway through the week.

[00:38:19] Chip Conley: [00:38:20] So, you know, learning and getting to meet people and get to know, get to know them from the inside out is not what we normally do. And yet it’s God that is the Roto-Rooter to your soul. You know, we are, we, we are so plugged up in terms of our ability to connect with something deeper in ourselves and the conversations we tend to have in our normal life do not get us there.[00:38:40]

[00:38:40] Chip Conley: Yeah,

[00:38:41] JJ: that, that is, that’s a beautiful concept. And I know, you know, we’ve both been to events where you really don’t know anything about people and it’s, you’re not supposed to, and you just talk to them, I’m talking about Burning Man, where you just, you don’t know what anyone’s doing or who they are, and you just meet people and, you know, Get to know them as [00:39:00] a human and it’s a completely different experience and you go, oh, that guy did that?

[00:39:06] Chip Conley: I’m a, I was a founding board member of the, of Burning Man. So I know, I know it well. I felt

[00:39:12] JJ: like you pulled a little, a little bit of, there’s some great lessons learned in, in Burning Man. For sure. So we have all this anti aging or [00:39:20] de aging or longevity, et cetera, stuff. I prefer to think of it as powerful aging is really stepping into this time of your life to be your, you know, to really have the best time of your life.

[00:39:31] JJ: But there’s people I see that are just doing like, I would call like a fight, the fight against aging. And I’m talking specifically about Brian [00:39:40] Johnson, who’s spending a million or 2 million a year. You know, you’ve got all of this obsession here about in there, you know, I look at how he spends his day in his life.

[00:39:49] JJ: I go, that’s just sounds. Miserable. Miserable. Are

[00:39:53] Chip Conley: you kidding? And who could date the guy? I mean, I, when you, when he was on Rich Roll’s podcast and you listen to him, it was like, you know, I actually had [00:40:00] more empathy for him after I heard him. But, um, but I also heard him like say, like, I go to bed at six o’clock at night.

[00:40:06] Chip Conley: I don’t do this. I don’t do that. I only eat for three hours a day. I like do it. And I, I felt like, man, he’s become a robot. Like he’s, he’s not, he’s not living a natural life. And yeah, I’m, you know, the [00:40:20] biohacking tech bros of Silicon Valley want us to live forever. And you know what, I think it’s beautiful that they’re helping us to maybe find and discover new ways to extend our lifespan.

[00:40:33] Chip Conley: But there, in some cases they’re doing it at the expense of Of social connection. [00:40:40] You know, Harvard has a study that’s been going on for 85 years. And the number one variable, um, for living a longer, healthier, happier life, uh, is how socially connected are we? And then this other piece, but the Becca Levy has that we talked about earlier, where shifting your mindset also is important.

[00:40:57] Chip Conley: Um, so, you know, when [00:41:00] we are so obsessed with our stem cell regeneration, so obsessed with our Ice baths. I mean, I’m, it’s fine. I do, I love bi ice baths. I, I’m a big fan of them. But to be clear, you

[00:41:11] JJ: love them. I do. I do. Wow. I mean, I, I have a cold plunge, but I, but I don’t love it. . I love that I did [00:41:20] it ,

[00:41:21] Chip Conley: you know, it’s sort of like yoga for me.

[00:41:22] Chip Conley: I don’t, in the midst of the yoga, I don’t love it, but I, afterwards I do. So yeah. That, that’s sort of true. I do like cryotherapy though. And like, you’re right, it’s like afterwards it’s better. It’s the, it’s the after endorphins. It’s, it’s itself. The Brian Johnsons of the world, they’re usually men, and they’re usually obsessed with length.[00:41:40]

[00:41:40] Chip Conley: All right. Okay, where are we going with that, Chip? Length of life. When what’s really important is depth. Depth of life. And if you could have both, length and depth, beautiful. But if you have to choose between them, I will choose depth over length [00:42:00] and as such, you know, um, I won’t spend my life the way Brian is spending his life, where it is incredibly regimented.

[00:42:09] Chip Conley: And I would

[00:42:10] JJ: say lonely. I completely agree with that. And what I, I think the biggest shift for me in this time of life is that I [00:42:20] value relationships. I like, they are my key. Gold. They are my treasure. They’re the most important thing to me. So, um, I, I absolutely agree. I’m very intrigued with the modern elder academy.

[00:42:33] JJ: My girlfriend, Vivian Glick’s been talking about it. Oh,

[00:42:36] Chip Conley: yes. Yes. Vivian’s amazing. Well, let’s do a private group. [00:42:40] We do private groups at MEA all the time, both in Baja and Santa Fe. So, you know, let’s talk about that.

[00:42:46] JJ: Very exciting. Yes, we will. So I want to just shout out a couple things. So you have your book Learning to Love Midlife.

[00:42:51] JJ: This is a, like, It’s kind of amazing that no one has done this. Isn’t it? It’s, it’s like,

[00:42:59] Chip Conley: well, you know, [00:43:00] but midlife has a terrible brand. And so like, why would we want to give attention to it? Reframe it. It’s the best time ever. It is. And when

[00:43:07] JJ: it lasts 40 years, like, okay, someone’s got to give it some attention.

[00:43:11] JJ: Right. And, you know, and again, it’s, it’s the best time ever. It’s a complete privilege. And really how you age is a choice. So I’m going to choose like to have an [00:43:20] awesome time of it. And this is a great, here’s the guidebook to do that. You have the Academy to do it. You’ve got your daily blog. So we’ll put all of that.

[00:43:28] JJ: We’re going to make it easy. jjvirgin. com forward slash love midlife. There you go. Go there, grab all of Chip’s stuff, and you also have a TEDx talk. So we’re going to link to every single thing that you’ve [00:43:40] done there. And again, it’s, it’s, thank you for shining awareness on this and making this something that people know that they can lean into in half.

[00:43:52] JJ: Thank

[00:43:53] Chip Conley: you for being a role model for healthy, powerful aging and, and not just Aging gracefully, [00:44:00] but aging gratefully, more importantly.

[00:44:02] JJ: I love that. My whole thing is forget aging gracefully. Exactly. You know, and especially here’s the thing for women, Chip, all our lives, we’ve been good girls. We played small, we’ve been good, blah, blah, blah.

[00:44:14] JJ: And as I’ve talked about, you know, putting on muscle, being strong, they’re like, I don’t want to get big. And [00:44:20] at first I was like, you know, there’s no drive by muscle, accidental muscle. It’s very hard to put it on. I go, but then now I’m thinking, you know what? This is your time in life to get big. Be a little mischievous, naughty, disruptive, stand up, be powerful, be audacious.

[00:44:35] Chip Conley: Yes, yes.

[00:44:36] JJ: Get fierce. Go for it. There you go. All right. [00:44:40] Thank you.

[00:44:44] JJ: Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great. And more importantly, that you’re built to last. And check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website, jjvirgin. com. [00:45:00] And make sure to follow my podcast so you don’t miss a single episode at subscribetojj.

[00:45:05] JJ: com. See you next time.

[00:45:16] JJ: Hey, JJ here. And just a reminder that the Well Beyond 40 [00:45:20] podcast offers health, wellness, fitness, and nutritional information that’s designed for educational and entertainment purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a source. Substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

[00:45:33] JJ: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional. [00:45:40] Make sure that you do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health care professional because of something you may have heard on this show or read in our show notes.

[00:45:50] JJ: The use of any information provided on this show is solely at your own risk.
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