Quote of the Week: Naval Ravikant on Happiness – and the Perils of Multi-Threading

The Tim Ferriss Show – Naval Ravikant

I’ve been listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast a lot lately, because it never fails to leave me with some kind of golden nugget to think about. If you haven’t heard it, Tim interviews high performing people from all walks of life: Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Scott Adams (Dilbert), Ed Catmull (Pixar), Josh Waitzkin (chess prodigy), Peter Thiel (PayPal and billionaire VC), and many more.

One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because he asks fantastic questions to really interesting people. And he gives interviewees as much time as they want to really thoughtfully respond.

This was no exception in his interview with Naval Ravikant, founder and CEO of AngelList and Epinions. Naval is an entrepreneur I’ve greatly respected from afar, both as a fellow founder who has turned multiple ideas into truly successful organizations, and also as a force of nature evolving our entrepreneurial ecosystem and bringing it into modernity.

Totally on the fly, while touching on the importance of honesty, Naval summarized his view on happiness in a way that really struck a chord with me. It perfectly dovetailed the excerpt of the day about Zen philosophy from two days ago:  “..the present moment has been compressed to a tiny sliver on the clock face between a vast past and an infinite future. Zen, more than anything else, is about reclaiming and expanding the present moment.” (You can read the full excerpt by Tim Lott here).

After rewinding the podcast to hear Naval repeat this several times, I transcribed it and had to post it:

“As I get older in life, I realize that a lot of happiness is just being present. And whether you get this out of Buddhism or cognitive therapy or drugs or wherever, you realize that to live in the present moment is the highest calling. It’s the source of happiness. And when you’re not honest with somebody else, or even withhold something in your mind, you’ve created a second thought process, a second thread in your head that then has to stay active, keeping track of what you’ve said vs. what you’re really thinking. That takes you out of the moment and brings you unhappiness over time. You will not realize it in the moment, but it will create stress and distraction. So if you really want to be happy, you have to be present. And one of the core tenants of being present is to be completely honest at all times.”

- Naval Ravikant

And that is the golden nugget I’ll be thinking about a lot for the next couple weeks. Thanks to Tim and Naval for capturing this so articulately.

You can find them on Twitter here: @naval and @tferriss.

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