Why We Need to Embrace Adversity in a World Riddled With Fatal Conveniences - An Interview With Darin Olien

Why We Need to Embrace Adversity in a World Riddled With Fatal Conveniences - An Interview With Darin Olien

What follows is a transcript for the podcast Fatal Conveniences - Darin Olien - Health and Nutrition.

Topics within the interview include:

  • It’s a great time to be alive… or is it?
  • How fatal conveniences are making society soft, wrecking our health, and hurting the planet.
  • Why we need less division and more dialogue to solve complex problems.
  • Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
  • Why we need to embrace adversity in a world riddled with fatal conveniences.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Welcome to the Collective Insights podcast. I'm Dr. Dan Stickler. I'll be your host for today. Today we have superfood hunter Darin Olien is known within the health and wellness community as an exotic superfood expert and environmental activist who travels the planet to discover new and underutilized medicinal plants. He is the co-host of the Emmy award-winning number one Netflix docu-series Down to Earth with Zac Efron. He's the host of The Darin Olien Show, author of SuperLife: The 5 Simple Fixes That Will Make You Healthy, Fit and Eternally Awesome. Love that. And founder of Barukas. Darin holds a Bachelor of Arts in exercise physiology and nutrition, and a master's in psychology. Welcome, Darin.

Darin Olien: Hey, man. Thank you. It's been a while since I've heard my bio read out. It's interesting. It's like, "Oh, that's who I am? That's what I've done?" It's almost like when-

Dr. Dan Stickler: [inaudible 00:01:08] reads it out after they've interviewed you and it's wrong.

Darin Olien: Right, right. Yeah. And it's also interesting because you feel like although those things are cool, it's almost like the perpetual motion of creation and what you're getting into and what I'm creating and where my focuses are, and yeah, it's interesting for sure.

It’s a Great Time to Be Alive... Or Is It?

Dr. Dan Stickler: It really is. It's a great time to be alive, I think. I was reading this the other day, back in 1950, scientific knowledge was changing about every 50 years. And then by 1980 it was down to every 11 or 12 years. And then in 2010 down to three years, and then this year or last year, it was down to every 72 days, it doubles.

Darin Olien: Wow.

Dr. Dan Stickler: I mean, trying to keep up with that was insane.

Darin Olien: Yeah. Well, just before we start recording, we were talking about AI, right? So it's like with the implementation of AI, that number is going to be crushed faster and faster and faster. Yeah, not to go too far off on this tangent, but it's a wild thing to perceive. I agree with you that it's a very, from so many different directions, almost any direction I look at, it's fascinating to be alive, right?

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah.

Darin Olien: But I just finished a book called Fatal Conveniences where I dove into the invisible worlds of what's in our products and personal care and beauty and in our food and in our water, in our beverages, in our clothing. And on the one hand, it's great to be alive and all of these conveniences, but on the other hand, there's a fatal flaw that we've made in some of these conveniences that have their own edge to them that start to undermine our own health in the face of it being so comfortable in the society that we've built.

So, as you know very well, you have to go back to, hey man, we have to deconstruct some of this modern day world in order for us to, quote-unquote, "get back to our health." Take our shoes off, get out in the sun, breathe fresh air, move our bodies, get some preferred stress with our bodies with cold exposure or heat or whatever. So it's interesting, right? We've come so far and at the same time we also have to go, "Okay, are these the directions that we want to go?" And I look at our modern day world, certainly in the Western model that we've placated on the world, and it has largely failed to such a degree I don't know how we're not talking about it all over the place. The fact that we're just destroying our health from a modern day, ultra processed foods and everything else as well as the third leading cause of death is in the hands of the physicians.

So all of a sudden you're like in order for me to deal with the level of craziness that I've been certainly staring at scientifically and looking at the research of what's in our products and everything, and then I'm like going, "If we wanted to harm ourselves, this is a great direction that we're in." That Mayo Clinic study that deemed that from a lifestyle perspective, only 2.7% of us were deemed healthy out of 330 million people, you're like... Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent, but I'm questioning very, very, and I want to be proactive about it, very, very intensely. We have to question what we're doing. And then for those of us that want to change, we have to create a world in which we can change.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, it's so funny because I'm a longevity physician and age rejuvenation but one of our discussion groups that we're in we're talking just the other day about the fact that somebody had posted something about we've lost 50% of our testosterone since 1980, which is a bit of an exaggeration because they weren't the same testing measures and everything. But if you look at it, it looks like there's been about a 40% reduction in free testosterone since 1980 through about 2019, which is pretty darn substantial. That is a significant drop. But then in the same week we're seeing that sperm counts from 1980 dropped from 110 million on average worldwide to like 35 or 40 million worldwide in those 40 years. That should be throwing up some red flags for people.

How Fatal Conveniences are Sabotaging Our Health

Darin Olien: Well, yeah, man. You think about that, think about as the base mover of moving the population forward, the base model of the sperm being viable to create life is literally neutering itself right in front of our face. Many of the things in the book from so many different angles, from even small amounts, but from many angles, the extremely low frequencies even, the electromagnetic fields are showing the same data points as increasing radical oxidant species, overstimulating the immune system causing problems as well as neutering. So you're looking from a chemical perspective, we're doing it in our products and our shampoos and our deodorants and our conditioners, and then you're seeing it from this electrical pollution that we're just adding onto. And we can get away with it because it's invisible. But you're right.

It's like Dr. Leo Trasande was one of the first people that I dove deep on and the work that he was doing around endocrine disruption, and it's like you stare at this stuff long enough, Doc, and you're like going, "Oh my God. Oh my God, how is that actually happening? Where are the regulatory bodies? Why is this allowing?" And this crazy thing is the data keeps coming out and yet the regulatory bodies aren't doing anything. They're not doing it fast enough. Every so often I see, my perception of the game, the game is, "Oh, it needs further study." So they kick it down the road. Or every so often they'll go like, "Yeah, okay, 200 PFAS and forever chemicals showed up in the orange juice owned by the Coca-Cola company. Okay, we should probably do something about it." You're like, "No, no. You guys failed, man."

I've come to the realization that I think it's crazy and it's weird and it's strange that the FDA, the EPA, the FCC, the USDA, you name it, I find it so strange that they're not doing their job. So I'm just going, "Okay, well we need to wake up, we need to educate and we need to do it ourselves and we need to take further responsibility back from the places that we thought were looking out for us." Because we're sprinting toward towards our own demise, man.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, it was funny because the experts that they had weighing in on these articles, I was reading them and it was like these urology experts and epidemiology experts, they were attributing both the testosterone loss and the sperm count loss to obesity. And it was like there was nothing else in their worldview that could be possibly creating this other than obesity. And they kept saying, "We just have to cure obesity." And they're like, "And even with that sperm drop, it's not infertility." Well, it becomes infertility once you get down below 13.7 million I think. So what do we do? We wait until it gets to about 15 and then say, "Okay, let's address this now."?

Darin Olien: Right. Right.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Crazy.

Darin Olien: It's like blaming the flies for showing up to a trash can. It's like, what do you mean? The obesity is a symptom. And there's this new terminology when you have toxic compounds, the obesogens, this idea where you're holding onto fat because you're also pushing away, which is a great mechanism for the body, you're pushing away toxic compounds that are very detrimental, so it shoves them in fat and keeps them isolated and protected away from killing you instantly or whatever the case might be. So you can't just say, "It's obesity." How the hell did we get here? We're eating mostly not food and calling it food and then you're yelling at people for, "You're fat." No, it's our system that many people, look at even our generation, we were born into a system that was moving pretty fast towards ultra processed, convenient, microwaved, fast food, you name it. And what do you think that that's going to produce? Of course that's going to produce disease, of course that's going to produce mortality rates increasing. Of course that's going to produce people having virtually no nutrition and just way too many calories.

When I say this stuff out loud and we have these conversations out loud, to me it's feels like we're in a Twilight Zone from that perspective. And it's like you and I, we're not making this up, we just spent a bit of time looking at it, staring at it, looking under the hood a little bit going, "Why are we doing this to ourselves?" What was the lady's name that was just appointed as something something health minister? And she said, "Oh, obesity's genetic. And so there's really nothing you can do." So she punted it. She basically took science and kicked it back 45, 50 years. And she said, "It's genetic." "What? What are you talking about? You're appointed?" So again, it's like caricatures of this comedy show that is too close to a Twilight Zone episode.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, I think what a lot of people don't get though is medicine has taken a linear approach when looking at human health. It's a complex adaptive system and it's hugely resilient. I mean, you throw challenges in front of the system and the system will adapt very well until you reach a critical point. And I think what we're seeing here is they're trying to find this root cause, I guess, and they're putting their hat on this hook and saying, "Oh, this is what it is." Without looking at the fact that in a complex system, there's never a root cause. It's all these factors that play into it. Even in longevity, we look at genetics of longevity, it accounts for 7% or less of predicted longevity. And yet lifestyle, which the people are paying big bucks and all this to get all of these medications and treatments, when lifestyle's 60 to 70% of the predictor of longevity. Just too many factors that are being ignored and trying to find that one common thing that they can treat is not working.

Why We Need to Embrace Adversity in the Midst of a Society That Craves Comfort

Darin Olien: A hundred percent. Well, that reductionism, it's like it placates on... It's like a human, I don't want to say flaw, but it's like anything challenging, we want to avoid it. Instinctually you're going, "Okay, that's going to be hard." You don't want to do it. You don't want to go into an ice tub. It's cold. You don't want to do that. But when you realize that everyone likes... Well, I don't, but I'm just being facetious. When they make food that is sugar, salt, and fat and manipulating our olfactory system, hijacking our dopamine mechanisms and you name it, it's really hard to resist. So it's this system, like you said, that have been hijacked for way even before us. It was already happening. And then have the American Medical Association was built upon reductionism. So we have germ theory, for example. It's a flawed theory of health.

So it's great to see these things like, "Hey man, you got to sleep. There's no food that can make up for a lack of sleep. There's no hack around that. There's no hack around getting sunlight. There's no..." So there is this path that's emerging, but then there's this path that is death gripping their system that just wants the system to continue. And unfortunately, it's got a wake of a lot of suffering as a result of it. Look around. If you and I plop down, I'm from Minnesota, if we plop down in the middle of a small town in Minnesota, in Nebraska or Iowa, do they have other choices in their healthcare? There's very, very, very few. And that doctor's certainly not telling them, "You know, here's a path of eating better and you should probably start doing that." And you're just not getting that. And it's just surprising.

We're in 2023 and we still are fighting this, quote-unquote, "battle" of ill-informed authorities not using common sense. There's a lot of unnecessary suffering right here, right here in our country and other countries in the face of systems that unfortunately don't give a shit about you. So at the face of that, Doc, I would just say we have to continue to wake each other up and inspire each other and go, "Hey, man, those throw away diapers that are maybe convenient for your child, they're full of petroleum and phthalates that are endocrine disrupting, so it's going right into your child. So not a good idea. Let's not do that. Let's use some organic cloth and just wash them." Just as an example, those are things that we just have to shake up our apathy a little bit and keep inspiring and keep educating.

Dr. Dan Stickler: I can talk about this all day, but I think my producer Tina probably wants me to get on script because I do this all the time to her. She makes all these questions and then I'm off on my own.

Darin Olien: Well, it doesn't take me long either to go off.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, I find these are the conversations that are great because a lot of the times, people who get interviewed multiple times, it's all about the same stuff. I want to hear something like deep and new with each person. But I do want to get back to the one question that I have is how did you ever get involved in this in the first place? You went to school for nutrition and physiology, and then what happened? What's the story?

How Darin Olien Became a Superfood Hunter

Darin Olien: Well, the story first to get me into that was a career ending college football injury. So just being frustrated, not being able to get on the field again and play. The light bulb went off. "Let me study what I love. Let me study physiology, nutrition, let me get into it." And I had a cool program in the sense that I got exposure to kinesiology and physiology and nutrition and even athletic training back in the day. We just had almost this liberal arts approach to, I would call it health. So then out of college, I shadowed, a big shout-out to Dale Greenwald, who was a physiologist in Boulder, Colorado. And I shadowed him for a long time looking at movements and movement therapies and how people would get injured and have compensatory problems in the musculoskeletal system and nervous system. So that was always interesting to me.

Then by way of curiosity, I was getting into food and I'd have a doctor that would come over and drop... It was before the internet was doing much of anything. And this doctor would give me stacks of nutrition information he would get from the CU medical library and he'd start telling me about functional food and herbs and botanicals. So on the side of my career, I started formulating and doing some nutritional stuff. And then I got so fascinated in this idea of this psycho-spiritual juncture with the body because you could "prescribe", quote-unquote, things, but then people would get... There's so much complexity in how someone was, then I got fascinated, and having certainly conscious spiritual awakenings in my twenties, I was just fascinated, still am fascinated with this experience that we're having and consciousness and psychology and all of that stuff. So that's where I got my master's.

But then it was just this place where I could really... One of the light bulbs of doing the superfood hunting thing was just being naive to, "Okay, well, I'm learning about this stuff." And I come from farmers and ranchers and stuff in South and North Dakota and family and extended family and things like that. So I was like, "Okay, I'm this cool, herb and maca and yacon and una de gato, aguaymanto and all these exotic things, I was going, "What the hell are these things?" For me, naively was like, "Well, if I'm really going to understand this, I have to experience it and I have to show up to see the people and see how these things are grown." Because the frustration for me was investigating foods and supplements and seeing where they may have been saying a story or marketing the story of a said botanical or whatever but then when you actually had it and you actually maybe tested it and it didn't equal that which the botanical was, I was just growingly…

I remember out loud in my head at a nutrition store, I was just like, "What the hell? They're saying all this and then they're formulating in a way that's not congruent." And that's really where the light bulb went off. I was like, "Oh, okay, well, I'm learning what I'm learning, but I have to show up and I'm going to fully commit to understand where these things are coming from and how they're grown and who's growing them and how we create a business in a foreign land and do the best they can to preserve these compounds and constituents in these foods." And then bring about foods that people also hadn't seen before. So it's like, how do you not get excited about you're in the middle of the Andes or the Amazon going, "I've never seen this in my life.", and we have an opportunity of bringing this. Or maybe throwing it into a supplement and formulating some stuff and let's see what happens.

So it was that, and that curiosity exists today and it's just evolved. I think, just to button the story, through that kind of ridiculous amount of travel that I spent through my thirties and into my forties and over 40 countries, it really opened me up to a lot of things environmentally, why don't people have clean water? Why don't they have power? Why do they not have food? I don't get it. Again, we're failing. Okay, you can say this government's failed or this region's failed or this, but as a human family, we're failing. So I spent a lot of time helping to get clean water throughout Western Africa, and we got up to 700,000 kids clean water. So it's just forever touched by that stuff and then driven by that and seeing what I'm seeing.

And I got involved with some really cool, my buddy Chris Patton and his company dedicated to clean energy preservation of different technologies, that you realize, and he educated me right away, that we've always had many of these solutions, many, many, many solutions that were clean and effective to give people clean power, from air compression that we used in the Chicago subway, was all run on compressed air, but then lost the contract of Edison and using electricity and things like that. And then obviously you can talk about Tesla and the devastating history of him when he in fact made more advancements within this electrified world than any single person. So anyway, yeah, that's a little touchdown on a lot of that stuff. So I still work in many of those areas, just a little more active now.

Dr. Dan Stickler: What that brings up for me though is looking at the worldview that we have here in the United States. One of our sons, he traveled, he did a gap year between high school and college and traveled by himself through Asia and Europe, and he got to see these real world experiences and really in some pretty impoverished areas. And I think that's something that we just don't get here. Most of the people are getting their stuff from social media, which is falsely creating a worldview that isn't there. So yeah, I think that travel piece is so essential for people to meet others and cultures because that's what's going to motivate them to want to make change overall.

Why We Need Less Division and More Dialogue to Solve Complex Problems

Darin Olien: Yeah, and to your point, I think that there's an oversimplification of a lot of things that probably are predicated on social media too. Things are so much more infinitely complex just to, quote-unquote, "solve problems." Yes, they shouldn't be happening. And it seems that this is easy to fix, but they're complicated, they're complex. That doesn't mean we should stop. That doesn't mean that it's not impossible. But it's like when you are trying to electrify the world and make smart cities and turn every car into electric, that's some serious problems that you're putting on a world that is not even close to being able to respond to that. And I understand sometimes intentions are meant well, but the burden that you're not understanding. And turning off, even though we don't like it, turning off the switches of the petroleum industry overnight, we need to work together.

So these things are infinitely complex. And obviously electric anything, electric car is not... I don't want to go too far off on this path. But electric car is not producing power. It's receiving power from another source. And then you're sitting on a bunch of batteries that have also their own problem of creating a huge amount of electromagnetic pollution for anyone in the car, plus all of the cobalt and lithium and mining that has to be done for those batteries. So it's like, well ask yourself the first question. The first question is, where is that power that's filling up those batteries so that you can drive your electric car, where is that coming from? Our infrastructure is not even close to being able to respond to that. And is that the best direction to go? And I think knowing what I know and knowing the people that I know are working on some stuff, it's definitely not, and it's not bad. There's just an infinite complexity to moving everything forward.

So we're too naive. And the reason I say that is because I think the exposure to more information, the exposure to healthy dialogue, the exposure to travel, the exposure to other countries and cultures and people suffering from things that you are not suffering from is so valuable, it's so valuable as a human family to understand what we need to do. Because I think we all want the same thing. We want to be happy, we want to be healthy, we want to provide for our family. And all of those things we all can understand. And the tremendous destruction that just happened in Syria and Turkey, that's when we see the human family come together, earthquake crushing, killing people. And what can you do about it? Well, nearly an 8.0 earthquake, not a lot you can do about it. Our infrastructure is just not equipped. And they're more vulnerable because their building systems are even less able to handle any sort of thing. So now we have a huge amount of suffering because infrastructure that we've created is not resilient enough.

So anyway, I'm going off on tangents. I'm just using that as example because things are complex. Anything to change anything is complex, which is why less division, more healthy dialogue I think is a really good path to move forward on.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, I'm going to go off on further tangents based on something you said earlier. You were talking about in your twenties you had some spiritual experiences. I'm curious as to how those impacted your direction.

Darin Shares States of Awe That Were Pivotal in His Life

Darin Olien: You already know the answer to this.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah.

Darin Olien: I mean, it's probably the thing that people know less about me than anything, but it fuels every meaningful choice in my life. So through pain and suffering and disappointment and being lied to and cheated on and whatever, I could go all the way back. But I had a succession of awakenings in my life. I just had someone on my podcast and we're talking about ayahuasca, and I certainly that wasn't the first one, but I was called to it, and this was 22 years ago, and I'd never done a drug in my life. But the ayahuasca pulled me and I knew it. And it validated this deep, deep sense of who I am. And she, as the molecule of ayahuasca, I will say, said I never need to use her again for whatever reason. And so haven't asked. I see it as in vogue now with so many people doing it. But for me, the integration of ayahuasca is a forever process, I think.

Then just having incredible shamans and saints and Native Americans and giving over huge kind of sovereign times in my life where I dove into learning and growing and expanding. It has cultivated a part in me that every day, all the time without fail, I try to eliminate the distraction and continue to open up the aperture of what I got a glimpse of in all those ceremonies. And that is eliminating anything that's between me and spirit, between me and my God, between me and the universe. I don't think it's a good idea for anything to be in between you and your own connection. There can be great guides and people who point along the way. I've nothing bad to say about that, but always cultivating that space. And when there isn't a ceremony, even when there isn't tragedy, when there isn't, what are you going to do to cultivate that?

So I check in, to answer your question a little differently, I check in with that space every day and have a communication and a meditation and a dialogue with where I'm going, what do I want? What resonates to the best of my ability of what I want to create in this world, what I want to participate, what I want to give my life over to. And that's a forever journey.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, I love that. One of the questions we ask our clients when we do their intake is we ask them to describe their most recent really profound state of awe. What I want to ask you is, do you have a specific event, some profound state of awe that marked a transition point in your life that you can tell us about?

Darin Olien: So many. First one was just, I'll quickly say this one, but when I was 22 years old and dating a girl and she just lied and cheated, and I was so weirdly destroyed. But it wasn't necessarily just her. I was a small town kid from Minnesota, and it hit me so hard that it shook the foundation of what I thought humans were. How do you look at someone in the eye and then lie to them? I literally couldn't understand that someone could do that. So that foundation of I was just, "Who the hell am I?" That was the first... I cried for two months. And then coming out of that was one of the greatest starting points of my union with God and the universe. And I remember moments driving around Colorado mountains just completely as people were driving by just laughing my ass off because I was seeing them as completely, "We're the same." And I was just like, "Oh my God, they just have a different skin on." And I just was laughing my ass off.

Then again, like I said, I mentioned a little bit the ayahuasca was absolutely profound. And then one other profound moment was I'd done a lot of sweat lodges and hanbleceyas, vision quests under some Native American medicine men in Colorado. And this one moment where the late great Wallace Black Elk from the lineage of Black Elk, and Black Elk Speaks, the amazing book, if anyone read it or wants to read an incredible book, Black Elk Speaks. And he was 80 years old, and we were in the sweat lodge with him, and he said one thing to me that I've never forgotten, and he said, "I don't understand why kids walk around with their brains on their backs." And I was like, "What?"

And he said, "They're running around with all their books in their backpacks." And I was just like... And we're in the lodge with him. We're in a sweat lodge. And he's downloading just one thing after another. And he said, "I have learned everything." And this guy was so sharp, he could talk physics, chemistry, mathematics, sociology, politics, and with detail. And he goes, "All the knowledge I've gotten is right here. Right here asking. And the biggest thing that I will highlight is asking." So he is willing to ask the creator a question, willing and open himself up to receiving the wisdom and the knowledge and whatever else. And I take that with me every day to the best of my ability.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, I love that. Former guest that we had that we were interviewing, we were asking him some of the stuff that he has come to through life, and he said, "One of the biggest things was that I know nothing." He said, "I look at everything as I know nothing." And that way that gives you that ability to dive into any topic area and be open to anything that may be there. And I thought that was pretty profound.

Darin Olien: Totally. Yeah. Aristotle said, "One who is wise knows he knows nothing."

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yes. Yeah, I am really enjoying this conversation with you. I wasn't sure where it was going to go.

Darin Olien: I like it.

Dr. Dan Stickler: But your complexity and spirituality are the areas that I love to see. When I'm working with clients, our biggest metric on success is quality of life. People will look at body composition changes, they'll look at lab work changes, getting off of medications and everything. But you can do all of that for some people, and yet their quality of life doesn't improve. And that's the reason people come to see healers in any sense, they're looking for better quality of life. And I think we've missed that message across the board. We focus on these diseases and we're going to treat this and we're going to treat this, instead of just looking at psychosocial factors even, spiritual factors with people to really understand what they're truly coming for.

Why Happiness is a Journey, Not a Destination

Darin Olien: Totally. Well, I agree a hundred percent. And it's also them thinking that, "If only I had this, I would then be that happy. If only I got rid of this, then I would be happy." And so it's that construct that is set up that they've adopted from our culture, they've adopted from whatever, and that's the wrong lens. And do we want disease? No, but what is underneath it all? And that's where I love the collapsing of... I just did a retreat, an online retreat, but super successful. We break down into groups and people's transformations are so unbelievable. There's no greater currency than seeing that awakening happening in someone. The light is coming on. And I think that... I lost my train of thought. Where were we going with that? I totally lost my train of thought.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Quality of life.

Darin Olien: Yeah, yeah. So the space that people are coming from is misdirected because ultimately, what you want... So one of the exercises we do is, "Okay, what do you want?" "I want to lose weight." "Okay, but then how are you? Who are you now having lost the weight? Now own that. Now." So that's what I mean by collapsing out there, "When I lose that weight, I will feel better." There's nothing wrong with losing weight, and that can be a starting goal, but who are you now having lost it? And now own that person now. So those are the types of things that instead of it being, "Hey, when I make $5 million, I'm going to be happy and then I'm going to have a quality of life." And no man, there's nothing wrong with having moments of focus that are intense, for sure. I just finished a book and a year and a half of it's not the best balanced life.

But also when you're aligned with goals, that's why money never works. If you're just focused on money, that inherently will give you a shitty quality of life because you're so unfulfilled when you get there. And then there's no amount of all of that money that will fill up that hole, and then you're just going to reach out and probably get in more trouble because you're throwing money at stuff. So it's an interesting thing. How can we be fulfilled while on the path of intentions and goals and aspirations? How can we be fulfilled when on the one hand, we're not fulfilled because we want to do other things? So that's an interesting... I don't have it. I go back and forth, right? Oh shit, I'm working way too much. I'm stressed out. Back it up a little bit, and then own the gratitude of what you have and go back to nurturing yourself with what you have. Fill yourself up now. You're not empty. You're not going to be perfect when you get X, Y, and Z. So it's a constant human experience.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. Yeah. It's like Maslow's later work, he talked about these deficiency states and the person in the lower tears of the hierarchy, they don't have food, their family's starving, that's their whole focus. They don't have the bandwidth to focus on anything else. And people think that, "Oh, once I've got food security, this stuff, that is the end of it." But Maslow was talking about what we need to do for transcendence. And what I see a lot of, especially in my clients, is they'll have deficiencies in different areas that are no... I mean, they are different than somebody who's starving, but that's no different in the way it affects the cognition and the spirit in that if you have this financial deficiency, "I don't have enough. I don't enough, but when I get here, there'll be enough." They don't have the bandwidth either to focus on personal growth aspects if they're deficient in love that they think, "Does my wife love me? Does my girlfriend love me?" They're in that state all the time as well of deficiency. And we see it in people being part of a community. If people aren't part of a community, they feel deficiency states and will strive to fill that need that they have, and it just distracts them from everything else in life.

Darin Olien: Totally. I think those nuances of it are just brilliantly stated. I agree. And I think that it's like these deficiencies of these hopes and dreams, and at the same time, the abundance of fear. Over consumption of fear. It's almost like how beneficial and not so beneficial microbes will kind of take up the parking lot spaces depending on what kind of food you're... It's the same with what are you plugging your consciousness with? If you're consuming fear porn on the media outlets, there's nothing wrong with knowing what's going on in the world. I get it. You can also question most of the sources in the world aren't so reliable anymore. But that said, I'll go back to your actual network, I think networking with a good group of people is probably better filter of quality information than anything else.

But yeah, lowering that quotient of the abundance of fear, because in that fear, you're definitely not going to be going after your evolution because emotionally, you've just squashed yourself into Maslow's lower rung and your life might be great, but if you're walking around in stress and fear, you're screwed, man. We all know what's going to show up in the body when that happens too. So I think that's a prescription that we need to really work on together because if not, we're a victim to what's happening in the world of way too much media coming at us, way too much social, way too much unhealthy discourse, way too much division, not enough union, all of that stuff. There's so many bad examples of all of that stuff that can hijack our own healthy states of being.

Dr. Dan Stickler: What do you think about the... I think it was Nietzsche that was talking about the fact that the majority of people, they'll choose a path of the greatest comfort and the least pain. And he felt that that's a recipe for being the last man they called it. And then the Ubermensch was the one who would take the risks on things and experience all the depths of the lows so that they could have those peaks of the highs. It seems like we don't want to risk discomfort as a society.

Why We Need to Embrace Adversity in a World Riddled With Fatal Conveniences

Darin Olien: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's a plague. It's part of the why I wrote this book called Fatal Conveniences, it's waking up the apathy. And the irony is if you look at... I don't know about you, but I look at how this reality is constructed in the sense that we definitely having a body and participating in this world in any possible, just taking a breath, you'll be hit with pain, challenges, sadness, fear, anger. You're going to get hit. Something's going to hit you. Guaranteed. Things aren't going to go your way. And it's necessary. That's the deal. In and when those things happen, I call those the propeller of consciousness. The propeller of possibility. The opportunity that is possible once you've kind of groked and got your head around and your awareness around a challenging situation. And in and through that challenging situation is the pillars of resiliency and a foundation of fulfillment. And if you take that away from people, if you over coddle people, you're just neutering them. We talked about the society neuter, but that's emotionally neutering someone.

So again, don't just give people fish. Literally teach them how to fish, because then that confidence and that skill of, "Hey, man, I can't promise you that life isn't going to hand you a sack of gnarliness. It will, in fact. And now what's the resiliency muscle that you can work to understand it?" Because, this is my personal opinion, as gnarly as the world is, I don't understand why a child just got a building fall on them. I have no idea what goes on in that scenario. I do believe that there is probably souls and beings that are less affected by the physical. So unfortunately, we see suffering and it's gutting for all of us. And I don't understand that. I couldn't possibly understand the great mystery of how innocent people and great people are killed and brutalized, and why 80 billion animals are killed every year just so we can have a steak. I don't understand all of that stuff.

But what I do understand is that when we are handed something that's wildly uncomfortable, I know for a fact for me that that is always an opportunity. And if I'm willing to sit without judgment and to sit and be with it and to feel the emotions, to deal with the complexity, maybe there's judgments, maybe there's anger, maybe there's a tremendous fear, maybe whatever the complexity is, if I'm willing to exercise the space of that and lean into that and go through that in my life, not one thing tragic has not been infinitely more beneficial on the other side, as weird as that... Did I want my father to die? Of course not. But he died. He died. And it was the hardest thing in my life. But I can honestly say as weird as maybe some people are going to check out right now, I am close to him now. I feel him. I get goosebumps. I see hawks, and we had this thing. So I maintain a relationship.

Where I'm sitting right now, was ground zero of losing everything I owned. A fire came through and burned everything to the fucking ground. I lost everything. And put everything into this property. I put everything in. I worked my ass off to get it. And I didn't know in two years of signing the lease that it would all be boom, gone. But it was. And that was the second gnarliest thing in my life. And what it gave me through the grief and the pain was such a resolve and depth that I didn't know I even had, and the passion and the purpose that it fulfilled and it fuels me to this day, there's no way, did I want it to happen? No. But it did happen. And in that process, I would not take it back.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, I love that.

Darin Olien: I would not take it back.

Dr. Dan Stickler: You said something earlier, the emotional neutering, and I resonate so well with that. When I was growing up, I can't recall crying after the age of probably seven or eight, because I was told, "Boys don't cry. We don't show emotions. You've got to be strong." And all of this. And then I go into medical school, I become a general and vascular surgeon, and then I realized in my late forties, I have zero empathy. I don't know what empathy is. I understand compassion but not empathy. And through a series of spiritual awakenings for myself, I started to experience empathy and emotions. And what I did was when I was in this state of sadness, which I would normally just kind of push it away, ignore it, and move on, distract myself, I started allowing myself to feel the full depths of it.

I said, "I'm going to arrive as low as it goes and feel it all." And it feels lawful at the time. But when you come out on that other side, you're in a state of awe. You're just like, "Oh my God. That was incredible to be able to feel that." And I think this is where people have lost their souls in this essentially is that they've blunted everything down to, "I want to stay on this narrow path and this is where I want to live my life and not have all these negative feelings." But you're going to sacrifice the positive peaks with that too.

Darin Olien: Yeah. A hundred percent, man. You don't get to know the next steps because it's like the risk... A comfortable path, I totally get. We all want to be comfortable in our beds with our family. Of course, we're always going to have that. But in terms of living our life, if you don't take a risk and not know what the next step is, for example, go after the dreams, whatever your dreams. I'm not saying be stupid and quit a job and then do it. Nothing like that. But the willingness to step into your life. Think about, again, I look at the construction of this whole thing. What happens when you go to the gym? It is brutal. It's hard. It's resistance. It's pain. It's difficult. And then when you come out of it, what happens? You're stronger. You're accomplished. That's the deal, man.

So it's like you're going to get hit. So you might as well freaking swing for the fences in your life. You're going to get hit with something. So why not freaking risk all of it and do what it is that to do? And it will be hard, and there will be things that you didn't see. But it's your opportunity to overcome them. And it's your opportunity to understand your bigger reason of why you're doing anything. It's like, I am doing this because my father. Father taught me this. And he suffered from that, which is I dedicated my book to my dad. He had chemical sensitivity in the '90s and taught me all this stuff. He suffered from chemicals in shampoo and deodorant. And I saw my dad suffer.

The point is, I have a big reason why I want people to be healthy. I have a big reason why I want people to stay away from toxic food and health products. Because my dad suffered. So cultivating your reason, it's not about money. It's the reason I think we all have this big thing that we want to... A big shout-out to my good buddy, Jeff Patterson wrote this amazing book called The Big Thing Effect. And he has a beautiful way to help people cultivate, could be goals, but everyone's got a big thing. Everyone's got this big thing and yeah, it takes something to go after it. And so it just resonates with me like that.

And again, I go back to your original conversation when we were talking about those spiritual awakenings in my life. I go back to that every day, and I try to listen from that space to help navigate the things that I'm going for, that there's no roadmap. I don't have a roadmap. I never have had a roadmap. I've just felt something and then I worked my ass off. That's it. That's how I've spent my entire... You think superfood hunting was on someone's freaking resume? No one was out there asking for, "Is anyone a superfood hunter that I can hire?" Didn't exist. It was a calling. Then you just go for it. And then another calling and another. And yeah, man, so it's wild. And it's not easy and it's not linear. I was working other jobs while I was doing this. You just do whatever you need to do.

Dr. Dan Stickler: It reminds me of what I tell my clients. I said, "You've got to embrace uncertainty. Get comfortable with uncertainty." Because I look back at it, and when I was a kid, they had those video games where you could put in cheat codes and stuff, and you'd put in these cheat codes for immortality or massive weapons and listen, you go through the game and it's no longer fun, the outcome of what's happening. And I think people miss that. They want to be certain about things. They want to know these outcomes, but that's not life. That's not living.

Darin Olien: That's our ego, man. That's just our over controlling ego. That's not our heart. Our heart is wide and massive and intelligent and open. And if we misguide ourselves, the mind and the ego, from my perspective, is the executive assistant to the heart. It's the ability for the mind and the body to take orders and action in service of the heart. And yeah, you can kick some and you can work hard, and all that stuff, but if you're tuned in to the best of your ability, what you want to do, then that's the holy grail. It's not the opposite, because the opposite is exactly what you're saying. I want to know what's going to happen. I want a cushy job. I just want the thing. And then they're like, "Okay." And again, there's nothing wrong with that. I've done that in my life on certain steps, but I always knew where I was going. "Okay, I just temporarily have to do this right now, but I always know where I'm going." Right?

Fatal Conveniences: Inside Darin Olien’s New Book

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. So tell me about this book. When's it coming out?

Darin Olien: It's actually on pre-order right now. I haven't been pushing it, but it's coming out May 16th, Harper Collins. Yeah, it's a deep dive on the things that you think may be convenient that are maybe coming back around and not so healthy for you. So we get into a lot of the endocrine disruption and the PFAS that's now getting a lot of traction in the media. The Teflon derivatives example of that slippery dental floss that they put on, so it slides in between, guess what that's covered in? That's PFAS, and that's a derivative of Teflon, and that's directly connected to kidney cancer. So it's things like that where I'm unpacking. And believe me, I'm calling these shampoos and conditioners and flooring and fire retardants hidden in television sets and all of that stuff. But I always have a solution.

This is an invisible world that we're drinking in, breathing in, we're taking in, I think, the stat is we're consuming a credit card's worth of plastic every week just by way of plastics interacting with our food and our drink. So that is directly connected to the original thing we're talking about in terms of endocrine disrupting and lowering your testosterone and increasing these estrogen-like phthalates in your blood and everything else. So increasing cancer rates, increasing infertility, lowering energy, increasing obesity, all of these things are hitting us, and no one has any idea of these 80,000 chemicals that are created every year in our environment. No one is doing those tests. No one, zero, zilch. They're not doing it. They're testing one thing for a little bit, but then the exposure, even sunscreens, the actuality of someone putting on the sunscreens compared to the skewed data of safety is not even remotely the same. So hundreds of times more exposure in reality than what's actually showing up.

So there's chapters on EMS, there's chapters on what's in the home. But everything has a solution. And that's what I celebrate. The last third of the book is vetted companies that are minimizing and getting rid of these types of things and healthy products for people to just shift over. Because I'm not trying to take away conveniences, I'm just trying to wake people up to the reality of many of their conveniences that they've just taken on from putting earbuds in their head to cell phones up to their head. The data behind some of this stuff and tumor rates and cancers is astronomical. So the book is there to shake up the apathy to give-

Dr. Dan Stickler: And where can people buy the book?

Darin Olien: So any platform, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, you name it. Yeah.

Dr. Dan Stickler: All right. Well, I did not expect this conversation to go where it went, but I'm so glad it did, because this was really super interesting for me and I'm sure the listeners. If I find it interesting, most of the listeners do, so.

Darin Olien: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I found it very interesting too. So I really appreciate the questions. And again, I don't open up some of those cans as much, but I'm absolutely willing to go there. So I appreciate that space that you opened up.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, what a great segue for your book.

Darin Olien: Exactly.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, thank you for your time today. And I'd love to have further conversations with you for sure, because this one could have gone on for a long time. Really appreciate it.

Darin Olien: Yeah, man. Thank you, Doc. Appreciate it.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah, take care.

Darin Olien: Thanks, man.

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