67. (S2E31) Gratitude Through Hard Times with Chris Schembra

There’s a funny story behind the recording of this episode and a lesson in persistence. Tune in to hear what it is.

It’s not everyday you meet someone who’s lived on a glacier in Patagonia. Chris Schembra has done that and a whole lot more on his rollercoaster hero’s journey. He’s been a kayak tour guide, he’s run a theater company, he’s created a pasta sauce. He’s won accolades and awards for his work. He also has non suicidal self-injury, depression, jail and rehab on his resume.

Chris is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Gratitude Through Hard Times” and “Gratitude and Pasta.” USA Today calls Chris their “Gratitude Guru.”

He’s a Founding Member of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Culture Council, and he sits on the Executive Board at Fast Company Magazine.

Chris is the Founder of the 7:47 Gratitude Experience™ and he’s used the principles of gratitude to spark over 500,000 relationships around the dinner table, serving Fortune 50 CEO’s, Olympians, Academy and Grammy Award winners, Superbowl Champions as well as thousands of others who are not well-known names.

I’m honored to have a conversation about gratitude with Chris in this episode. The impact it has on you as the giver and the recipient. Where gratitude fits in the discussion of addiction. And it’s importance as a pro-social act.

We’re also talking about ingratitude. Because in all honesty, those of us who talk and teach about gratitude are not immune from falling victim to it. Chris openly shares his shocking cry for help when he was riding on the top of the world, less than 9 months ago.

Website: https://www.747club.org/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/schembra/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chris.schembra/

Today’s episode is sponsored by Zen Rabbit. If you’d like to find peace of mind amidst the chaos and no matter what’s going on around you, get on a complimentary call with me. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll get insight on any issue you’d like to bring to the table. And you’ll leave the conversation with clarity and renewed energy. Find the booking link HERE. Or text me at 571.317.1463.

And if you’re not into chatting just yet, you can go to ZenRabbit.com to find free resources, like meditations and articles.


[00:00:00] Chris: To us every day. And

[00:00:03] Lori Saitz: We'll go with that.

[00:00:05] Chris: intuitively

[00:00:06] Lori Saitz: and welcome to fine is a four letter word. My guest today is Chris Schembra and I am so excited to have you on my show. It's been months. I've been waiting to have you come in here and here we are, and we've already had so much fun talking

[00:00:22] Chris: Yeah. So, so then we got to be really. Lori, I think it's a wonderful, uh, Testament to your ability to practice what you preach and showing me patience. But I think that this interview couldn't be coming at a better time, uh, not only for, for my journey, uh, but for some of the things I've learned about myself in the month since.

Pushing back this, uh, you know, this interview date. So I think the world works in mysterious ways and we were meant to be recording today.

[00:00:52] Lori Saitz: Absolutely. I completely subscribe to that. Everything happens in the exact right time. Yeah. Let's start out by my asking you the question. What were the values and beliefs that you were raised with that contributed to you becoming who you

[00:01:11] Chris: So there were some positive ones and some negative ones. Um, you know, the positive ones were, um, the values of community and philanthropy and, um, courage and I had. Um, I grew up in Hilton head island, South Carolina, two parents, um, in a household. So I, I grew up, you know, on the beach, um, on an island, uh, on a small island, uh, you know, 45, 50,000 people.

And, um, You know, our, my uncle's the first mayor, our parents, you know, were early developers. Um, you know, their footprint is ingrained in that community. And so we welcome those tourists, a hundred thousand of them a week at a time with open arms and showed our, our generosity and asked them good questions and help them really fall in love with our people and our island and our integrity.

And, um, lot got to meet a lot of really neat people. Lot of really successful people got to, you know, spend some time on Hilton head. And, uh, you know, I think, uh, those, those values rubbed off on me in, uh, hopefully a pretty positive way. Um, there are also some negative values, um, that, that, um, You know, that, that, uh, I kind of assumed at a young age, um, perfectionism, um, you know, I think, I think, uh, perfectionism can be part of your Sage, you know, strength, but can, it can also be a saboteur.

[00:02:55] Lori Saitz: right.

[00:02:56] Chris: you know, I think a lot of people saw my energy, my creativity, my. Uh, zero fear of being uniquely my own, regardless of the cost. And, and that made them very afraid. And so a lot of people were scared of my outburst, my energy, my making them just embarrassed and they just wanted this perfect, perfect life.

Um, it was out of love, uh, but a lot of people. Childhood insecurities themselves manifested themselves into me and, uh, you know, sent me down a pretty dark, uh, path early on. So, so pros and cons.

[00:03:41] Lori Saitz: did you

[00:03:41] Chris: Yeah. So, um, You know, if you looked at little Chris, you know, this little guy, this little cute kid with the preppy clothes, taking the beach photos and doing all those kind of, you know, white kids stuff and a beach in South Carolina, um, you know, we had the perfect life, you know, and, and, and here comes the miracle baby that, you know, my parents spent nine years trying to have.

All the IVFs and the misses and this, and I was like the only child that came out of 10 years of miracle. And I was rambunctious and loud and energetic and just maniacal. And I would try to create every moment of my life and, you know, that scared the crap outta people around me, cuz they just wanted me to. Perfect obedient little kid, um, to, you know, keep our family name alive in the community. And just around that time, a guy by the name of Ned Hallowell. Who's now a friend of mine wrote a book called driven to distraction, and it was like a groundbreaking book in ADHD. And what an inspired moms across America to do was create these like mom groups.

And then they'd send all their kids to the right doctor and the doctor would prescribe them a specific thing. So I was that kid, right. They, they put me my, um, Most of my early childhood memories are of being at school, in a room by myself with the one way mirror, cuz I would distract all the other kids. And then, yeah, and then let's put 'em alone in a doctor's office while my mom's crying in the couch on the other side of the wall and the doctors on that side of the wall, just observing me playing with puzzles and doing Legos and clicking buttons on a computer. And the result of that was. Um, ADHD medication.

Now, most kids are prescribed like 10 to 20 milligrams of this kind of stuff. I was prescribed 86 milligrams starting 80 to five.

[00:05:59] Lori Saitz: wow.

[00:06:00] Chris: Okay. So I don't remember 15 years of my childhood from five to 20. Most of it's a big old blur. I was.

[00:06:09] Lori Saitz: because

[00:06:10] Chris: I wasn't there. I was doing the motions, right? The academic, all American, the Prudential merit scholar, the, you know, you know, student athlete, whatever model citizen, doing everything,

[00:06:25] Lori Saitz: the perfect thing cuz that's what you were supposed to do.

[00:06:30] Chris: I had less creative outbursts. I just, For the most formative years.

[00:06:42] Lori Saitz: When did you

[00:06:43] Chris: Um, so they took the medicine off me on my 31st day of rehab. Um, so I checked in the rehab on May 14th, 2008. I was 20 years old at the time. I was, uh, just leaving my, my soft, oh God. Did I just touch something? Do you still hear me? Oh, I thought I just did I just touch something? Okay. Um, okay.

[00:07:17] Lori Saitz: We're still.

[00:07:21] Chris: It was May 14th, 2008. I had just entered into my first. At the age of 20 years old, right after my sophomore year in college. And I checked into rehab with a 30 day supply of my medicine and on the 31st day, uh, it happened to coincide with me doing a four day solo, which is like, Hey, split the kids up for four days in the middle of their rehab.

And let, 'em just. Live, uh, in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the woods. Yeah. And in, in the Wilder list. And so on that, on that 31st day, which was actually my first day of solo, um, I received a post-it note in my mailbox that I made out of a piece of, you know, a rock and a couple logs. And it said no medicine for you today.

Smiley face. I haven't taken, you know, that drug ever since.

[00:08:29] Lori Saitz: did you check yourself into

[00:08:31] Chris: So I was of the legal age that I could have said no. Um, what happened was my dad came and got me from college and there was a whole host of things that went wrong during that time and the time leading up to it. And on the car ride home, you know, as far as I was concerned, I mean, I, like, I picked them up drunk from the. I mean, this is just a small week at a glance. I picked him up drunk from the airport during the week of my final exams. Uh, my car was getting towed as I'm getting his bags inside. He comes out and saves the car from getting towed. Um, the next night we go out to dinner. I drive him on my motorcycle that I convinced my Bulgarian adopted brother to buy me on his 10th credit card.

Two months prior. And I drive my dad to the restaurant on my motorcycle, and then we eat dinner. He goes back to his hotel. He says, don't drink and drive. So I drink and drive. I take a girl home

[00:09:41] Lori Saitz: course.

[00:09:42] Chris: to my house on the night before two final exams. And instead of staying up all night to study, I stay up all night with a girl.

In the it at like 3:00 AM. I leave the girl at my place and I go to pass out in the driveway of another girl's house. Drive my motorcycle there. Dad shows up to my own apartment at 8:00 AM. I'm not there girls in my bed. Whereas Chris, he drove drunk again to his ex-girlfriend's house. I skipped my two final exams. To be with that girl who was already in my apartment. So I just stayed in my apartment, skipped the two final exams car, ride home with my dad. He hands me pamphlets that he had already prepared. And he said, uh, look, I don't want you going up to New York city this summer to do the real estate internship.

Was gonna stay at the NYU dorms and work for a real estate company. He said, uh, we we'd like you to spend some time going away and just kind of finding yourself again. And so it wasn't a force, right? I, I was above the legal age so I could have made my own choice, but I was like, I know, fuck it. I'll spend two months in the woods and I'll come back and party my ass off junior year of college.

[00:11:07] Lori Saitz: Did you know it was rehab or did you just think it was like wilderness

[00:11:10] Chris: it, I knew it was rehab. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

[00:11:16] Lori Saitz: okay.

[00:11:17] Chris: no, a

[00:11:17] Lori Saitz: didn't have to like trick you into going, like we're sending you to

[00:11:20] Chris: and a

[00:11:21] Lori Saitz: Chris and you're like, wait, this

[00:11:22] Chris: of all the right moves led up to that. You know? I mean, my whole, my whole college life was like an experiment. It was, you grow up in a bubble. And then all of a sudden they send you off to college and you like reinvent yourself and you, like, I don't know, you can call yourself Bob for fuck's sake, if you want.

Like you just like do new things. So it was, yeah. Yeah.

[00:11:47] Lori Saitz: what college is for.

[00:11:50] Chris: in,

[00:11:50] Lori Saitz: went to college in New York.

[00:11:52] Chris: RO Rawlins college,

[00:11:55] Lori Saitz: Oh, okay.

[00:11:56] Chris: yeah.

[00:11:57] Lori Saitz: Oh yeah. Yeah. Okay. So when you came, you said rehab the first

[00:12:04] Chris: So I went from rehab to rehab, to rehab and then back home. So wilderness, uh, wilderness program that was invented fors literally. And there's a great rolling stone article that I wrote about this for a comment rolling stone. There's a whole thing about like the woods and peanut butter and rehab and all that shit, so, oh, oh yeah,

[00:12:27] Lori Saitz: have that in your book too.

[00:12:28] Chris: Um, then I went to rehab for five months on essentially, uh, like a 20 acre piece of property, or maybe like 80 acre piece of property in the middle of the woods, in the state of Washington. There was like a five star luxury hippie compound with like, just like live-in chefs and nice counselors and 20 guys under the age of 25, just trying to figure this shit out. And then after that, I went to, uh, a sober living in Los Angeles. And so, uh, yeah, did that for a couple months and then moved back to Hilton head.

[00:13:19] Lori Saitz: Was that the period since the, the show's called fine, you know, fine is the four letter word. Is, is that the period where you were saying everything was

[00:13:27] Chris: Well, that's an example. Yeah. That's a great, well,

[00:13:30] Lori Saitz: another

[00:13:30] Chris: don't we all have those moments, like every day. Um, no, it's like, you know, it's like the hero's journey, right? The one, you know, a hero's journey, you could pick up the book, the hero's journey by Stephen, you know, the hero's journey. You can read about it and like, say, oh yeah, I've had like one hero's journey through my life.

And look, here's all the telltale signs. Or you can have like a hundred of them a day. Um, but, um,

[00:13:58] Lori Saitz: Right.

[00:13:59] Chris: it's the roller coaster.

[00:14:00] Lori Saitz: rollercoaster heroes journey. It's not just the one arc that happens in Hollywood

[00:14:05] Chris: Um, but yeah, you know, I, I thought my, I thought rehab, I was like, fine. And was gonna be this like really good perf perfect little alcoholics anonymous kid.

And so I was like doing that for 11 and a half months. And then I just like got wicked drunk and was like, all right, fuck. Those last 11 and a half months, I'm gonna keep drinking, but I'm gonna figure out like how to fix the rest of my life. Cuz alcohol is just a symptom.

[00:14:39] Lori Saitz: Mm-hmm

[00:14:41] Chris: So that's

[00:14:42] Lori Saitz: okay. And

[00:14:44] Chris: yeah. So I, I, um, After rehab. I, I went, I went to work, um, as a kayak tour guide for, um, an outdoor adventure company in Hilton head island and fell back in love with nature. Fell back in love with storytelling fell back in love with meeting new people and serving them and connecting them and asking them questions and telling them stories and all these great things.

And, and that like really made me come alive. I mean, I really found my gift. Um, And did that for a little bit. And then one day picked up and moved down. I wanted to test my luck. And so I moved down to live on a glacier in Patagonia for a couple months with about 16 people through the national outdoor leadership school.

And, you know, every day was, was an adventure. Uh, right. We had one goal don't die and don't let your other partners die. Um, you know, it's kind of extreme, you know, weather down there. And so that taught me resilience and courage, and it also exposed my limitations. It exposed some of my laziness, it exposed a lot of things. So,

[00:16:10] Lori Saitz: When did you become a gratitude GU?

[00:16:13] Chris: it took a long time for that. Um, my gratitude journey. started in July of 2015. Um, and I say,

[00:16:30] Lori Saitz: Was it something that came out of having been in rehab all of that time, like cuz they teach, they talk about gratitude in recovery, right? But you weren't. Okay.

[00:16:42] Chris: going through the

[00:16:43] Lori Saitz: you had to,

[00:16:44] Chris: just going through

[00:16:45] Lori Saitz: were waiting for the lesson a little later. Gotcha.

[00:16:48] Chris: journey started in July of 2015. Um, some like seven years after the, um, kind of rehab started, uh, if you looked at my life again, if you looked at my life, In July of 2015, you would've seen that same like five year old to 20 year old, Chris going through the motions, having a good time.

Yeah, achieving great things. Yeah. Surrounded by people that loved me. Yeah. People were saying positive stuff, accolades awards, all that jazz. I was running a theater company at the time. So I was like fully invested in theater. That was like our shtick. We're traveling all around the world, living the high life, having a good time.

But I was in Italy. I'd just come back from producing a Broadway play in. Back to New York. And I was like, oh man, oh no, this ain't, it I'm a complete fraud, but at least I had the realization right earlier in my life. I didn't even have the realization that I was complete piece of shit fraud. Right. But then in July of 2015, I said, God, life looks really good on paper, but it don't feel good on the inside.

I was lonely, unfulfilled, disconnected, insecure, nervous, cautious, anxious, overwhelmed. I mean, you're probably watching this right now and feeling a similar sort of way. I mean, like really take a pause for a sec. If you're listening to this now, I want you to ponder this simple question. What's one word.

That honestly describes how you feel right now in the moment. Like don't bullshit me. You're probably quarantining alone. maybe you've got screaming children in your ear. Maybe you're in. Yeah, I

[00:18:49] Lori Saitz: done quarantining now.

[00:18:51] Chris: but, um, I don't know, like, I don't know, you probably like your husband's cheating or maybe your boss sucks ass. No, I don't know. Like, I just want to be real. I want to hear what you're really going through out there because here's why you and I have a lot in common. You probably got a great job, probably making cash in the bank, but are you actually happy? Have you actually processed the shit from your past? Are you just going through the motions?

That was me in July of 2015. Like Italy had awoken all of that in me. And when I got back to New York, I said, I gotta change this thing quick, or else I'm gonna die, literally because I've got the suicide, depression, jail rehab on the resume. If I don't change things quick, I'm gonna be that kid again.

[00:19:44] Lori Saitz: Was this the first time that you were consciously recognizing that as opposed to just stuffing it down and just going to have some more drink

[00:19:51] Chris: And, and in that space, you know, knowing full, well, I gotta act quick. I thought, what was it about my time in Italy? That really kind of saved my life or changed my perspective on everything. Was it how they walked? No. Was it how they talked? No. Was it how they honored history?

Kind of, was it how they ate food specifically amongst community? Yeah. Okay. Light bulb went off. I came back home and I said, I'm gonna invent my own pasta sauce recipe, just like the Romans do. And, and I invented one and I was like, oh my God, I should feed it to people to see if it's good or not. And I decided to host a dinner party, July 15th, 2015, 15 of my friends came to my home that hardly knew each other.

[00:20:47] Lori Saitz: And they didn't know they were set to be Guinea.

[00:20:50] Chris: We worked together to create the meal. We drank a ton of wine. We ate some pretty good pasta sauce. And then miraculously, at one point in the evening, I looked around to the dinner table and I said, y'all I got a question. If you could give creditor. Thanks. To one person in your life that you don't give enough creditor.

Thanks to that. You've never thought to thank who would that be? And Lori, I saw the most amazing stories come out of those people's mouths. Some of them gave gratitude or credit and thanks. Their third grade teacher, their grandpa, their spouse that was sitting right next to them, whatever some of them talked about, never thought to thank the time they got bullied in high school. The time their daughter got cancer,

[00:21:51] Lori Saitz: Mm-hmm

[00:21:52] Chris: the time their boss fired them, both the positive and the negative, the stories were real. so we kept on doing those dinners.

[00:22:06] Lori Saitz: did you know beforehand that you were gonna ask that question? Did it just calm. You were sitting there having dinner and all of a sudden this question pops into your head and you

[00:22:17] Chris: such a flow state of consciousness, which we write about how you flow in our book. And our friend, Steven Kotler is the great expert flow. I got into such a flow mindset around that dinner table. I got to access my super conscious mind, my true self and pluck out some question that my conscious mind had never thought about, but my super conscious mind said, let's fuck him.

Let's do it. And everybody. Right. And so we kept doing these things. We kept gathering these people, whether it was in small groups or big groups of a couple thousand, and it just became our shtick. But, uh, but we were always distracted away from G. We always said, it's our pasta sauce. That's doing the heavy lifting.

It's the dinner table that people are coming back to. It's the blah, blah, blah. And we're like, just like barely paying attention. Gratitude. And, you know, we were growing our business. We were doing these for team building and client engagement. We were speaking, we were doing all this kind of stuff. We wrote our first book, gratitude and pasta we're on top of the world and we were going across the country.

And then all of a sudden COVID hit and fuck, COVID ripped away. COVID ripped the dinner table. And the pasta sauce away from us. And at that moment, when COVID hit, I was like, oh shit. Now what happens? revenue, book out that nobody was buy. I don't have my dinner table. I don't have a way to serve people.

I don't know what's going on. I don't know where my next revenue's gonna come from. We had a fully in person business to begin with, what are we gonna do? And we said, what was so good about us pre COVID dinner table, pasta sauce, gratitude remove two. And you got gratitude.

[00:24:47] Lori Saitz: Still got gratitude,

[00:24:48] Chris: still got gratitude. And so what we did was we hired a few new people. of the people was a research coordinator. From the university of Pennsylvania was just graduating with like neuroscience and machine learning and all this stuff. And she would go out and grab things from the internet about the science, the psychology, the, the ancient, stoic philosophy of gratitude.

And she'd send them. To us every day. And so what we had been doing intuitively around gratitude for like five years suddenly was backed by science.

[00:25:38] Lori Saitz: Oh, wow. Okay. So you didn't even know about the science when you started

[00:25:42] Chris: way.

[00:25:43] Lori Saitz: my gosh. Yeah. I've been into this stuff for years. Welcome to the club, Chris. Yeah. this is cool.

[00:25:49] Chris: so then we got to be really. At, at the, the hard skills side of gratitude. And, uh, and then eventually that's what we became, you know, known for. And, you know, it's been a great journey ever since.

[00:26:08] Lori Saitz: Yeah, so adjust and move forward.

[00:26:15] Chris: Yeah. I mean,

[00:26:16] Lori Saitz: was the big lesson there.

[00:26:17] Chris: well, so great things. Can happen when you acknowledge that you're in a really dark place,

[00:26:28] Lori Saitz: Mmm.

[00:26:29] Chris: because when you're in a really dark place, only move is up when you're in a really dark place. The only next move is to learn something new, to get you out. And once you start that learning process, That, that humility, right?

If, if we're being honest, going into 2020, and everybody being like, oh my God, your dinners make everybody cry. And you're so good at that. And like, yeah, that's like ego that like leads to superiority complexes and entitlement. And I already know everything there is to know about this shit. So why would I need to learn more?

And then like life hits you and you're like, oh my God, I've got so much to learn.

[00:27:18] Lori Saitz: Mm.

[00:27:20] Chris: And so we just started gobbling up new information, new techniques, new facilitators, new people, new clients knew this, knew that knew this and just freaking rocketed rocket shipped.

[00:27:39] Lori Saitz: Did you bottle the sauce and send it to people so that when they were on these virtual conversations, they could still be enjoying the pasta

[00:27:49] Chris: that that was part of it. Yeah. That was part of it. Not, not all of our clients, uh, bought the pasta sauce as well. I mean, in the last, since the start of COVID, we've served about 30,000 people through our virtual gratitude experiences. Only about, I don't know, I gotta check the numbers probably 3000, probably 3,200 people.

Opted to send the sauce to their, you know, people. So

[00:28:17] Lori Saitz: the sauce is a thing now, right? Like it's a thing that you sell.

[00:28:21] Chris: it's a thing we sell. Yeah. It's on our website. Um, but, um, you know, and everybody was looking for like the cocktail kit to send out and like, you know, all that pandemic stuff. Um, now that people have seen that, it's not about the sauce at all.

It's actually about gratitude. Now. We've just stopped talking about the.

[00:28:41] Lori Saitz: Well, okay. So it's not about the physical sauce that you eat, but it's the sauce. The special sauce is gratitude.

[00:28:50] Chris: but, um, so here's the interesting part of the story is right. 20, 20 hits. We pivot to virtual 20, 21. We're on top of the world, Lori, I'm talking about like, tons of clients, tons of attendees, tons of revenue, tons of accolades, a dozen people a day messaging in how our virtual gratitude experiences save their life, whatever.

[00:29:15] Lori Saitz: Mm-hmm

[00:29:17] Chris: And I get to Q4 of 2021 and I'm riding on top of the world. Everything looks good on paper.

[00:29:27] Lori Saitz: mm-hmm

[00:29:28] Chris: And then at 4:30 PM on Thursday, December 30th, 2021, I'm on a call with one of our clients, Lisa Penn, an executive at SAP. And she says, Chris, you don't look too hot. Can we, uh, do you want to end our one-on-one call a little bit early?

I'm like, oh, that's odd. I'm like known for being able to show up against the odds ready to connect. But I was like, okay, I trust your intuition. I Hang up. Well, Molly and I had a lot to celebrate that night. So we went out to dinner. We just bought a new home. She just got a new job. She was flying out early the next morning, new year's Eve to go be home with her family for some health stuff.

And I was like, let's go celebrate well at that restaurant. E somehow everybody likes to buy us drinks when we go out. And, um, so everybody's buying us drinks and we're having a good time and I drink a little bit too much and I pick a fight and I say some inappropriate things and I get home, we get home and I feel like, so we're out to, out to dinner, have too much to drink. We get home. I feel like the biggest piece of shit in the world, like a manipulator, an abuser, a psycho, a fraud, a imposter, a monster, whatever. And I go into the kitchen and I take out a kitchen knife and I run it right across the old arm. Zoom, zoom.

[00:31:07] Lori Saitz: Have you done this before? Before

[00:31:10] Chris: not in this way. I've been, I've been a cutter all my life. Never this deep and that close to the source for everybody who's listening. I wasn't trying to end my life. It wasn't suicidal ideation. It was a cry for help. It's called non-suicidal self injury. And I've been doing that all my life. And you probably know people around you that cut or burn or self mutilate, self harm, pick up their hair, whatever.

It's, it's all a form of it. It's just that this time was a little bit deep and it was a little bit too close to the point of no return. you can interpret that how you will. I'm very lucky to be alive.

[00:32:04] Lori Saitz: Molly still there?

[00:32:05] Chris: So Molly's with me,

[00:32:09] Lori Saitz: Okay.

[00:32:09] Chris: Molly's in the room where it happens.

[00:32:12] Lori Saitz: Oh my God.

[00:32:14] Chris: So she flies out the next morning to Detroit to be home with her family and I'm, which was actually a good thing because I'm left to my own devices in our apartment. In New York city and for the next number of days, you know, it's just mush, you know, I'd, I'd, I'd look at a lemon and I would cry. I would, I would watch a Nancy Meyers movie and I would, I would re I would drink water and I would cry. But one day I called my friend Scott, and I said, Scott, like, this is what I just. This is what's going on? Wh where am I broken? What do I gotta change? He said, dude, I mean, and I've known him since college. He said, dude, he just got so much good things going on in your life. You couldn't see the clearing through the forest. You're appreciating none of it. And it was right there in that moment when I said. Holy shit. I'm not grateful.

[00:33:34] Lori Saitz: Hmm.

[00:33:35] Chris: I've preached it. I've taught it. I've promoted it for all these years. And yet somehow I'm the ungrateful man. I became the most recent victim of in gratitude.

[00:33:57] Lori Saitz: Yeah, this is not. Uncommon though, because I know that you had a conversation earlier this month, I believe with our mutual friend, Julie Boyer her podcast, uh, wake up with gratitude and she's taking the summer off because she's burned out. She talks about gratitude and being grateful and being mindful and self care, and she wasn't doing it.

He. And you're saying the same, like you talk about gratitude all the time and you weren't practicing it yourself and it's it's. I just wanna bring it up because it just means that we're human.

[00:34:39] Chris: oh yeah, we, um, Yeah, we're, we're imperfect, um, likely hiding behind a mask. A lot of more shit, deep down deep that, that we all need to work on all. Um,

[00:35:00] Lori Saitz: talking about gratitude is awesome and sharing it with the world because I believe that you and I, and all of us who are talking. The concepts of gratitude and teaching other people are helping create this ripple effect that improves the world. And at the same time, it's not always easy to practice it.

Even ourselves.

[00:35:23] Chris: oh yeah. I mean, I mean, from a basic standpoint, we often underestimate the impact gratitude can have on us. And we often underestimate even the impact gratitude can have on the recipient. And we overestimate the perceived feelings of awkwardness or the barrier to entry feeling that it might make us look weak or that people might take advantage of us.

If we're. So a lot of people just don't practice it.

[00:35:55] Lori Saitz: mm-hmm.

[00:35:55] Chris: Um, nor are we good at receiving it, you know, in the year 63 ad this ancient dude named Lucius anti Seneca, commonly known as Seneca. The elder from the great ancient Roman empire, uh, wrote a book called on benefits. And in the beginning of that book, he states that the greatest plague to Roman society is that we neither know how to give.

Nor receive a benefit, right? Of all the vices common in today's that society, nothing is more common than in gratitude. And he believed that the ungrateful man is like responsible for all the bad shit and earth, like thi and homicides and tyrants and adultery. And like, like that's the plague of the ungrateful man. Um, it's like the worst thing you can be in the world.

[00:36:47] Lori Saitz: I would. I don't wanna say argue, but I would add that I think it's gratitude and community to two things that you have done, such an amazing job of creating that contribute to all of those things. The combination of in gratitude and lack of community.

[00:37:06] Chris: um, a great Ted talk, uh, by a man named Johan Hari from years ago, who. His most recent book is called chasing the scream. Um, it's really good, but he, um, he once said in his Ted talk that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It's human connection. And most people practice gratitude in an isolated self-reflective practice.

[00:37:40] Lori Saitz: Mm-hmm right.

[00:37:41] Chris: open up a journal and they write what they're grateful for and they put it in their bedside.

[00:37:46] Lori Saitz: Yeah. This is what I talk about too. I'm like,

[00:37:48] Chris: What

[00:37:49] Lori Saitz: have a gratitude journal, but don't just make it

[00:37:51] Chris: what we, what we preach in our entire book, there's an entire section that gratitude is pro-social. And when practice in a pro-social way, it feels good. Three ways. It feels good to give. It feels good to receive and it feels good just to observe like a, a simple story that we tell in our book is the story of our friend Diana.

Um, she comes from, uh, Tamil, uh, kind of south Indian, Tamil descent. And, but she grew up in America. So she's like removed from that culture. But when she goes over for weddings, um, She practices gratitude in, um, in, in a way that is, is unique. So in, in Tamil culture, there is no word for like gratitude.

There's just like the lowering of the, the eyes, the kissing of the feet, the bestowing of honorific titles, uh, all those kind of things. And so when she goes and says hello to her grandmother, Who's bestowed her so many benefits in this world. She bends down and kisses her grandmother's feet at a wedding when she bends down and kisses, the feet of her elders, everybody around her cries, not because they're giving the gratitude, but they're observing her really authentic and heartfelt pro-social action of gratitude.

[00:39:27] Lori Saitz: we were just talking about this before we got on this interview, I was running the one of the sessions of my fuck being fine program, the small group program. And this is exactly what we were covering in today's session. How, when you share gratitude, you feel good. The other person feels good and anybody who's watching on top of that, anybody who now hears about it,

[00:39:51] Chris: Yep.

[00:39:51] Lori Saitz: like people who don't have, like, they just heard your story.

They don't have to be there observing in person, her and her grandmother. They're hearing from this show and now they're feeling good.

[00:40:04] Chris: Um, Sarah algo outta the university of North Carolina has a very good study about this called the witnessing effect, witnessing theory, where she actually like, literally proves that, uh, the, the, the pro-social benefits of gratitude in a diad, right. A, a two way, and in group setting. Um, so she's like the queen of this exact thing.

The witnessing theory witnessing effect. It's 102 page research study that comes out of the university of North Carolina. And we write about it in our book,

[00:40:41] Lori Saitz: Yeah. So we we've been referencing the book throughout this, this chat, and it's the latest one. You said your first book was pasta and gratitude and pasta. The second book. Is gratitude through hard times

[00:40:57] Chris: Yeah.

[00:40:57] Lori Saitz: I'm, I'm not a hundred percent through it yet as we record this, but I am well through it. And it's so good.

Like just, I, I just I'm, I'm like highlighting every, every other sentence is highlighted.

[00:41:11] Chris: What's what's one of your favorite highlights.

[00:41:14] Lori Saitz: oh man. Um, I mean, all the research is in one place. Like I've, I've heard a lot of this research before, but it's here all in one place. You know. Okay. So using gratitude to heal, broken relationships,

[00:41:31] Chris: Nah.

[00:41:32] Lori Saitz: that was, that was, that really hit home.

I, I feel like if you can go to gratitude no matter what's going on, like you're not. Uh, and then the next chapter after that was about healing, uh, like finding gratitude for your enemies. yeah. Making enemies into friends. Those two pieces are so powerful. Cuz if you can go to gratitude there for a relationship, maybe that isn't is no longer, but you can still find the gratitude for it

[00:42:03] Chris: mm-hmm

[00:42:04] Lori Saitz: or for again, it's so relevant to what's happening in our society.

Can you understand other people and find gratitude for them? Doesn't mean you have to agree with their opinions or their. You can still be grateful for the, their they're sharing with you or whatever.

[00:42:25] Chris: if you're listening to this, watching this. Uh, one of the chapters that we talk about is called addressing the empathy deficit, which like odds are, uh, like empathy is the art of imaginatively stepping into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives and using that knowledge to guide your action.

So odds are, you're not doing it. and odds are the person on the other side of the aisle from you is not doing it as well. And what happens when two sides of the aisle don't practice empathy, they create echo chambers and silos and massive entitlement.

[00:43:01] Lori Saitz: Mm-hmm

[00:43:03] Chris: My belief is better than your

[00:43:08] Lori Saitz: I'm right.

[00:43:08] Chris: belief is better than I'm right. You are wrong. That's essentially

[00:43:11] Lori Saitz: Mm-hmm

[00:43:12] Chris: And you, you can't change. The other person, you can't change their belief by like fighting their belief. And so what you have to do is invite them with humility. And one of the ways of turning entitlement into humility is gratitude.

[00:43:33] Lori Saitz: right.

[00:43:33] Chris: When you acknowledge, when you think that you're position is the smartest position in the world, you develop ego that's entitlement. You think you're smarter than everybody. The opposite of that is acknowledging the benefits you've received and learned from others going at that with a posture of humility, realizing you have so much to learn from other people's perspectives and stepping into a conversation that way.

And so in order to de-stigmatize the friction between two opposing ideals, you can find one small thing to be grateful for in the other individual, right? Let's say you're feuding with. Sister and your sister is, uh, an anti-vaxxer, um, pro-life Republican and you are a vaccinator pro-choice Democrat. I'm just using, it could be Jewish, Israeli or Israeli Palestinian.

It could be black, white, tall, short north, south, whatever. You're probably at odds with your sister for a number of years, and there is no amount of liquid that's gonna be able to fix that. But you know what, when's the last time you actually reached out to your sister and say, you know what, Francis, I don't think I've ever told you how grateful I am.

That when you were 13 and I was 11. You invited me over to your friend's house a couple times. And it's actually where I picked up my love. Of record players. And now I've got a record player that I get to share intimate dances with my partner every night. And every time we do that, I think of you and how grateful I am for you as a big sister, that's going to literally bring families together and at least destigmatize the conflict enough to then maybe just maybe have a civil discourse.

[00:45:36] Lori Saitz: right.

[00:45:39] Chris: So, yeah, resolving the heart of conflict. I mean, look at, at the end of the day, throughout a hundred thousand years of conflict, the truth is in order to see the change you wanna see in others first, you have to make the change within yourself, man.

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