Introducing “But Are You Thriving?”, the New Podcast from Thrive Market

Last Update: August 31, 2023

What’s the difference between living a generally healthy lifestyle, and truly thriving? The first podcast from Thrive Market aims to explore that question, bringing listeners along for the journey.

On “But Are You Thriving?” Thrive Market co-founders Nick Green and Gunnar Lovelace will be joined by leading experts in the world of health and wellbeing to explore topics ranging from clean eating to climate-conscious living, mindfulness to mental health. 

Listen and Learn About Healthy Living

“We want to be not only a grocer, but a resource that helps you live your healthiest lifestyle,” says Green. “Our new show explores all the things that make up true thriving,” adds Lovelace, “in pursuit of a more expansive definition of health that extends beyond the individual to our communities and our planet.” 

This season, listeners can look forward to captivating conversations with the likes of musician Santi “Santigold” White, Whole30® co-founder Melissa Urban, author Elizabeth Gilbert, and nutrition expert Mark Sisson, among others. For the debut episode, actor-turned-environmental-advocate Adrian Grenier joins Gunnar (to find out what they talked about, read on). 

Don’t miss out—subscribe to “But Are You Thriving?” via Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and catch new episodes every other Wednesday.

Episode 1: From Environmentalism to Activism with Adrian Grenier 

You probably know Adrian Grenier from starring roles on the HBO hit comedy “Entourage” or the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.” He’s since traded the Hollywood party scene for farm life outside Austin, TX (where he’s lived since 2021), and uses his platform to raise awareness for environmental causes—like ocean health through his Lonely Whale Foundation, plastic pollution in his role as a UN Ambassador at the organization’s Clean Seas program, or his own path to a nature-based lifestyle via the docu-series “Earth Speed.”

On the debut episode of “But Are You Thriving?”, the actor and sustainability champion joins Gunnar for a conversation about his personal journey from actor to activist to advocate, and how we can use technology to better the future of our planet. 

Full transcription below. Listen to this and every episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

But Are You Thriving? | Episode 1: Adrian Grenier: From Acting to Environmentalism

Gunnar: Welcome back to But Are You Thriving? I’m your host, Gunnar Lovelace, co-founder of Thrive Market. Today on the show we’re joined by actor and activist, Adrian Grenier, here to discuss his experience and role in environmental advocacy and so much more. Most people know about your time spent on the big screen and may be surprised to hear about your passion and involvement in social environmental advocacy if they haven’t followed you on social media. Would love to just share with our audience your aha moment. I imagine there’s several, but that really spurred your interest in environmental and sustainability, what happened in your life.

Adrian: Yeah. Well, first of all, I just want to push back a little bit on the intro. Activist is not a word that I would use to describe myself. It feels a bit, in my mind, from what I’ve experienced over the years in environmental activism, quite aggressive in just the connotation, the vibe, and sometimes hostile, outright hostile. I’ve sort of decided that we need to build up the world and create a world that we want to see, as opposed to tearing it down. And there’s a lot of that energy out there, a lot of destructive energy. So, just a subtle thing, but-

Gunnar: Great. When you talk about environmental issues and your civically minded participation in the human experiment? What’s the way that you’d like to be described?

Adrian: Yeah, I guess-

Gunnar: Caring human. Beautiful.

Adrian: … just a standup guy. Yeah, I mean, of course, environmentalist, I guess, would work, humanist, amateur farmer.

Adrian: Yeah. I feel like I am definitely in a state of continuously becoming and unfolding and learning and growing deeper in my relationship to this work, which is how do we live in harmony with nature while at the same time feeling like we’re growing and building and creating a world, a civilization that we can all live in comfortably and have all the resources that we need, and at the same time, not be a Luddite, but embrace technology? Really, it’s just a continuous conversation and a curiosity about how we can do better and how we can be our best selves and show up to the party and contribute from a perspective of optimism and potential versus fear and wanting to erase ourselves and be small.

Gunnar: Yeah, I love that and appreciate you framing it that way, and what I would love to hear what some of the aha moments for you that led to that perspective.

Adrian: Well, the most recent big one came around COVID. COVID was, I think, a huge opportunity of learning, an opportunity for everyone to reevaluate how we as individuals, but we as a society were, how we were and how we might do things better. So, it was a big pattern disruption for me and for the world, and for those, I think, that took that as an opportunity to learn and grow, it was just that. It was a huge lurch forward of time, of forced self introspection and taking inventory and time to be quiet and not distracted by life and all of the daily routine and the patterns and-

Gunnar: But you were an environmentalist and humanist before COVID. I mean, you and I talked about various campaigns before that, and I agree with everything you said about COVID. It was a complete pattern interruption that helped us really reflect on what we’re doing here. But I’m curious, in the trajectory of your life, child, teenage, 20s, how did that consciousness come to the foreground for you?

Adrian: Yeah. I guess I was part of an environmental movement, an activist movement that was, in many ways, very ego-based and arrogant in some ways, believing that we knew how other people should behave. We knew what was wrong. We had such certainty about how messed up the world is and how we’re all going to die shortly because the evils of humans in capitalism or something like that. A big shift for me was when I took pause and I recognized that in order to really change the world, I had to show up as my best self. In many ways, I was just on repeat. I was just regurgitating talking points that I’d picked up on. 

Gunnar: No, you’re good. It was just a moment. It just did it for a second.

Adrian: I guess it was when I started to go inward and start to recognize that there was a lot of work that I had to do in my … I could have an opportunity to do more personal development work so that I could show up from a more aligned place spiritually and as a man versus looking to externalize the solutions, find the solutions within me. There’s an idea that I’m riffing on, a Rumi quote, and it’s, “Your job is not to seek love, but to find the parts of you that keep you from love.” I feel the same way about the Earth. It’s not our job to find a healed Earth. It’s our job to find the parts of us that are operating and keeping us from the Earth that already wants to heal, that already knows how to heal.

In many ways, we’re running a program that is extractive and destructive and selfish, and even the environmental movement, in many ways, has this sort of imperialist ego about it wanting to control and dominate, like we did to the Earth, where we had dominion over the Earth and we started to exploit it. Now, environmentalists want to do that, as well, as opposed to taking a step back and recognizing that this is all part of … We are stacked on top of natural processes, and we are an expression of nature. What is that expression? If you look at the design principles, the wisdom of nature, can we start to speak through that so that the decisions we make are in harmony with nature, not in opposition to, and it’s not that there should be less humans, and we should get small and do less. We should do more, but more of the right stuff.

Gunnar: Yeah, beautiful. I really appreciate the honesty of talking about the kind of arrogance and heavy-handedness of the environmental movement. And I’m curious, how did that show up for you, before you realized that and afterwards, and besides, was there a ceremony or a teacher or something that happened where that kind of broke open for you in terms of realizing that it’s more about having almost like a collaborative conversation about maximizing the human experiment. I’m curious how that happened for you.

Adrian: Yeah. Well, I was so far up my own ass. I really believed my own bullshit so much. I was that guy. I was the arrogant soap boxer who was pointing fingers everywhere while I was not practicing what I preached. It took someone I love very dearly, someone very close to me to basically smack some sense into me. It was at that point where I started a process of self-discovery and really shedding a lot of the things that I thought I was, ego death, as they say, to rediscover a deeper, truer, more spiritual perspective.

I think that’s just, hopefully, if you’re lucky, it’s a part of getting older. When you get older, hopefully, you get a little wiser, a little bit less selfish, we hope, but the quote, “When I was young, I wanted to change the world, and then I got older and I decided to change myself.” That’s sort of where I was at. I was like, “Okay, well, what am I not seeing?” Because I’ve been doing this work for a long time. You talk about straws or environmental, plastic work, ocean work, and I’ve been doing it for 10, 15, 20 years. So, what am I doing wrong?

I really believe that we’re on a very, very long conversation over a long timeline. It’s something built into our desperation and our fear of this current moment that we have to get it right now. Otherwise, there’s a mortality built into that angst, whereas I think we just need to start really, truly transforming ourselves as individuals so that we can arrive and make better decisions so that what we implement today, what we create today, can ripple out into the long now, the distant future for future generations. A lot of times, I think environmentalists, they just want to have nice things in this life, but we really have to think in multiple generations into the future. So, that’s what I’m trying to do is just focus on myself, my immediate moment, what I can do, but keeping in mind the macro long-term, multiple generations down the road.

Gunnar: Yeah, I can really relate to a lot of what you shared. I had a near-death mountain bike accident during COVID, and it was really, the recovery process was such a reckoning of the egoic ways that I … and how convinced I was of right and wrong, and the destruction and dissolution of that process as part of the healing. And it’s amazing. It’s like we often don’t change or make those really substantive changes until we get a real proper smack down and I just happen to engineer a near death mountain bike accident as my smack down. And so I can totally relate to that, and what a beautifully humbling process. It was simultaneously the worst thing and the best thing that’s ever happened to me, to go through that. And I think what you’re speaking to also is really interesting because there’s such a divisive, polarized dialogue in the United States, from the left to the right, to conservatives, to environmentalists, and the world is increasingly seen and experienced in black and white terms. And yet if we just kind of zoom out, we’re like, it’s really not like … we need solutions, but it’s not a lack of solutions. It’s a crisis of consciousness that we face as a species, and inability to collaborate well, to harness the incredible creativity and potential and power that we have as a species, and so much of that is, as you speak to, about the ways that we focus less on being right, and actually getting it right together and the humility and the learning of that process.

Adrian: Yeah. And not being so attached to this idea of right, but recognizing that we’re part of an evolutionary process. We come from nature. We are fundamentally part of nature, and nature is antifragile. The more you break, the better you get because there’s learning in that. Every success is a series of failures put together. So, we fear failing so much. We fear death. We fear all of the things that we hold ourselves at bay as opposed to going with it and recognizing that it’s not about an absolute moment of right and wrong. It’s not about us verse them. It’s about how we’re going to get into that true flow of growth and

Adrian: Continuously letting go of all of the things that you want to hold onto. For me, it’s a spiritual thing, and sometimes, maybe it sounds woo, but it’s so much more comforting to recognize the finite and infinite games. So I feel so much comfort knowing that I’m on an infinite timeline and I can give myself a break. I don’t have to take the weight of the world on my shoulders. I don’t have to solve everything, me alone, but I can do my part and I can be part of something bigger. That brings me so much comfort and strength, relief. Relief.

Gunnar: Relief, yeah. Relief too. The burdens that we put on ourselves often are the hardest things that we have to deal with in life. And I loved what you were sharing about the continuity of the long evolutionary journey that we’re on. And I know we’re both fellow soil lovers. We love the actual dirt, the earth, and I’ve been blessed to be part of Kiss the Ground and co-produce the documentary. And so I’ve spent a lot of time studying it and being part of that. And you know, you think about compost and soil. What is it actually? It’s actually shit and death from the eons stacking upon itself. That’s literally what it is. And so we’re part of that continuum. And yeah, it’s so interesting to think about resetting our… I think humans in general, we think about things in such short time window horizons, and the way that capitalism is currently constructed, it’s quarterly profits and it’s very short. It doesn’t think about the true costs of the things that we do and the negative externalities and the damage that we do to ecosystems with our behavior. And that’s the short term, but it’s always like, how do we continue to have this bigger picture about where we’re going and how we contribute to that? And I’m curious, in that line of exploration, where do you think we are as a species in 30 years? The richness of life.

Adrian: I think good things are going to happen. That’s just the trend. If you look across all of the evolution, things just get better and more complex and curious. We’re, in many ways, a primitive species. We’re almost just the building blocks of something much better or much more elegant. So, I’m very much looking forward to the next 30 years. If we keep focusing on what’s wrong with everything, then we’re not going to use our creative energy to manifest what’s right.

One of the things that is absolute is that we, you, me, we’re not going to be here in this current form. We will go away as Gunner and Adrian as we know it. Something beautiful about nature, if you start to observe it, there’s no death in nature, only transformation. You spoke to that in terms of soil, all the excrement, all the waste, all the death, ends up transforming into new soil, which creates new life. So that’s right.

If you look across our culture, culture as an expression of nature, just our human contribution serves a great purpose in how we collaborate and think together and create ideas that we express out into the world. Cultures, in the same way, all the negative aspects of culture and business and the economy, it’s not going to last if it’s not efficient if it’s not working. It will end up going back into compost of whatever, not necessarily dirt, but it’ll be recycled and regurgitated into something new. There’ll be a lot of people that will resist the newness, but I have faith that newness is imminent, and I’d like to do what I can to contribute to that.

Gunnar: Yeah. Beautiful. We clearly got a similar memo, so I appreciate we haven’t talked in a while, and here are. We started this interview both realizing that we were sitting on the floor. And maybe that’s because we’re a little bit more humble, I don’t know, maybe not, I don’t know. But just as a possibility. I’m curious, was your emphasis on plastic and, say, straws, was that before… I mean that was before you came to this realization of doing more inner work and softening the tone. I’m curious, how did… I still think that that work was valuable in terms of contributing to the zeitgeist and awareness of it. But also, I’m curious how you look at that work in retrospect. 

Adrian: Thank you. Yeah, I’m very proud of all the work we’ve done at Lonely Whale. We’ve eliminated 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream. I don’t know if a water balloon, you can strain it one way and then maybe there’s 20 billion plastic straws. I don’t know, but that was a part of my evolution of how can I take a problem so seemingly insurmountable and enormous as 10 billion tons of plastic that goes in the ocean every year which is the statistic, right? About 10 billion tons in the ocean. How do we begin to tackle that? I decided I wanted to just whittle it down to something more manageable, a single unit of plastic, which was plastic straws.

So for me, it wasn’t about, can we solve the problem absolutely top-down, but how do we start to break apart the problem into manageable bite-size pieces that everybody can participate in? For me, it was just an offering, a suggestion to humanity like, “Hey, just because it seems so big, it doesn’t mean you can’t access it and be a part of it.” I gave people permission to not worry so much about all the plastic in the ocean and just do one thing. Stop sucking, stop using plastic straws, and if you can do that, which is hard enough, then move on to the cup and the lid and whatever else. But it’s like if we can’t just get one thing right, man, how can we do the big thing? Because the big thing is just a series of little things.

Gunnar: Yeah, I love that, and it’s really a Trojan horse. It’s a doorway to starting a much bigger conversation. And I think that, as somebody who thinks a lot about different ways to expand environmental awareness and the stewardship of this incredible planet that we live on, I spent a lot of time thinking about game theory. And the challenge is, when you talk about the climate crisis or all of the plastic and ocean, it’s just so big. It’s overwhelming and daunting. And just picking something so discreet and making it so real and tangible to somebody’s regular human experience, I think was such a brilliant move. And I think it’s way beyond the straws, but it also is the straws. And one of the things that I hear from your discourse is this kind of discussion about how to be a better human yourself, how to be a better man. And I’m curious, the other piece that I hear is the story of consciousness and spirituality, or connection to a higher purpose. And I’m curious to hear a little more about that in terms of both in your own journey, but also, as I think about the human journey, we all fundamentally want to feel like we belong. We’re pack animals at our core. We want to serve a higher purpose. The sense of meaning and satisfaction that we derive from life is directly correlated to the sense of belonging and serving something greater than ourselves, and I’m curious how you see that at this moment. 

Adrian: No, I think that’s true. I started to realize that serving myself and my vanity was only going to go so far. I had achieved all those spoils of capitalism as a celebrity. In many ways, celebrities are the royalty of the American dream. We have all the things, the riches, the access, the status, the attention. As humans, we want to be acknowledged, we want to feel like we’re part of our community. The way social media and the media in general acts upon us, it makes us feel more isolated because a lot of our attention is being funneled to a few. The family unit’s breaking down and we don’t have traditional tribal experiences.

In many ways it’s an unhealthy racket that serves only a few, and it’s not just financial. 1% of people have the wealth, but also, probably a smaller fraction have the attention. So I had to come down off that cloud because it was very seductive and extremely enjoyable. It tickled all the right feels, the parties, the travel, all the things. That was the most painful part, how do I shed this so that I can get a real true glimpse of myself and start to uncover what it is I’m here to be doing because certainly it’s not just getting richer and more famous? That’s when I started to think about how I wanted to be part of a community that saw me, not just the characters I played, or the projections I created, that didn’t just want to hang on because they perceived me as bringing the good times or any of that stuff because all that stuff is fleeting.

That’s when I decided I wanted to be more focused on the things that were vital, which are family, community, and nature. I got to that through a series of conversations with elders and spiritual guides and some medicine work, and a lot of meditation, a lot of reading of philosophy, and all that sort of stuff. It took a couple of years for me to hone into what my higher order of being, what my purpose is, and then start to orient myself and my behaviors and my habits to begin to walk humbly in that direction. That took a while.

Gunnar: Yeah, yeah. It’s beautiful. Appreciate you sharing that. It’s such a process. I think we kind of, in the short time of a human life, I definitely… I can see how I’m slowly learning how to drive the vehicle of my body and my potential just a little bit better, slowly, year by year, decade by decade. And that’s a pretty remarkable and humbling and beautiful journey. You’ve recently dabbled back into acting with Earth Speed. I’m curious what you’re hoping to achieve with the new docuseries.

Adrian: Thank you. Thank you. 

I don’t know if it’s acting. It is definitely filmic and it’s a doc. I’ve made films since I was 12 and it’s never going to leave me, but when I was in my dark night of the soul and my journey to self if you will, I learned a lot from YouTube. I went online and I started to seek out the speakers, the teachers, the Alan Watts of the world and listened to incredible humans guiding and teaching beautiful wisdom, and

Adrian: And I realized that the internet can be used for such good. It’s a tool of such positivity if we can all contribute into it. There’s a sort of common pool resource, which we all have access to. So part of Earth Speed is my contribution to that common well of knowledge and wisdom and perspectives that others might be able to draw from so that they maybe see a different perspective, or they might get some encouragement, or they might feel seen, or supported, or maybe they want to make some changes that they hadn’t thought about. So that’s what Earth Speed is, is humbly sharing my often difficult journey to learn how to live in nature and learn how to cultivate the land and steward the earth through permaculture, through growing and working with my hands and doing hard labor and distinctly stepping out of the comfort of our modern society and getting into what it’s like to actually give of yourself to the earth.

So full circle back to environmentalism. It’s like, okay, we’re going to go tell farmers how they need to be and what they can use on their crops or not, and then expect to pay next to nothing for their work? Well, there’s a reason why things are the way they are. And if you learn, maybe you can figure out how to grow food in a better way so that we don’t have to use glyphosate or chemical fertilizers, and that maybe it can be more profitable, and it can be with regenerative healing soil, not just external inputs.

And it’s not easy, so I have a newfound respect and appreciation for those that create our food and grow our food and work to bring us our food. And so now, I can not only potentially be part of a solution to those things, but I feel much more in my body and more part of this earth, and I have a place in the world, within my family and my community and on the earth itself. So it’s sort of, yeah, my contribution to just sharing my story in this work.

Gunnar: Beautiful. Yeah, I think a lot and I talk with my parents, because I grew up in an intentional community that was a farm in Southern California. And it’s plenty of things that went sideways with all the crazy hippies running around. But there were some interesting pickups for sure, and 35 aunts and uncles. One would teach computer programming, another, non-biocommunication. We’re like, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I had that village, for sure. But you try to farm a little bit and you’re just like, “Wow, it’s so much work.” And it’s not an easy thing to be a farmer, to produce food. They’re really the heroes of humanity, the farmers, the ones that produce our food. And I think what you speak to there about industrial agriculture being the way it is, our incentives are misaligned and we need to pay a little bit more for the food so that we can actually make sure that people can actually have the right incentive framework to actually take care of their soil better as part of their farming practices, and shift from hyper-scalable industrial agriculture that’s laden with glyphosate RoundUp to regenerative practices as an example. Or a thrive market for that matter. No, no, no. But I’m talking about the abstraction of the user experience of clicking to buy something. 

Adrian: Yeah, that’s right. And you wouldn’t necessarily know that if you got all your food by clicking a button.

Gunnar: And a big part of our journey as a community is to share that content with our community. But unless you’ve gotten your hands in the dirt and you’re doing it, you just don’t realize how humbling it is. 

Adrian: Yeah. Yes. Yes. And we take for granted a supply chain, a just-in-time supply chain that brings us our stuff when we need it. And I think we’re, as just broadly speaking, we’re entitled, and so I think that disconnects us from the realities of some of the world. I believe that truth and honesty is a cornerstone to being a good human, and you can’t be truthful and honest if you can’t see the world accurately. So it’s important that we start to extend ourselves and put ourselves in the shoes of others and then go out and try things so that we know more firsthand how the world works. You can’t just learn everything from YouTube. YouTube can be a helpful tool and a map, but ultimately, you gotta get out there and be in the world. So yeah, 100% agree.

Gunnar: So shifting gears a little bit, since so much of what we offer our community is health related, and we think about that from a broad stakeholder perspective, which the health of the planet is included in that, but to our bodies and the health of our bodies, I’m curious, what are some routines for you at this point in your life as you’ve gotten a little bit older? What are things that you’re doing that you feel like are essential to your journey in health?

Adrian: Well, certainly exercise. One thing that I think is very important is making sure you have good, strong bone density and toning your muscles and lifting heavy things is something that I go to to stress my body enough so that it goes into that growth hormone state and is not getting into a static stasis and starting to atrophy, but staying present and alive. So certainly weightlifting. And then I just try and eat a lot of vegetables, many, many vegetables, and eating as little processed food as possible. Certainly not highly processed, but food in its most natural state if I can. Obviously, if you got some potatoes, you want to mash them up and pasta’s good, and it’s not necessarily a grain that you would eat, it’s more refined. But when you start getting into the highly refined and processed foods, I try and stay away from that stuff.

Gunnar: Are you a vegetarian?

Adrian: I’m not. No.

Gunnar: ​​Yeah. You’re following Mark Hyman’s diet, it’s simple and lots of vegetables as      possible. 

Adrian: Yeah, absolutely. And protein is, I think, an important thing. I mean, I guess meat was a controversial thing when I was younger as an environmentalist because of… Certainly, yeah, it still is. Just the way our factory farms treat animals, there’s an ethics element, as well as an environmental element, but that’s another thing. Health is not just about what you put into your body, but also you can take it one step further and think about how that food was created. If it’s green, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily nutrient dense. There’s a lot of very barren food in the grocery market. So definitely, I eat organic. And then especially now being here in farm country where I know the ranchers who harvest the meat, I can actually source really great animal products.

Gunnar: Yeah, beautiful. And I think, yeah, it’s so interesting, too, because the organic label itself, it’s under attack. It’s not a perfect thing. I was reading a bunch of studies that a friend of mine has been funding on forever chemicals and how many brands that are certified organic but they have forever chemicals in something in their supply chain. So it’s pretty amazing.

Gunnar: So I think that trust is so important. I think it’s one of the reasons why we’ve focused on hyper curation of our products. Instead of 50,000 products, we have 5,000 and we really carefully curate them, and really try. It’s not a perfect thing, it’s a learning process. We think something is good, there is a new fad, we were part of it. Then we realized that maybe it wasn’t as good, it’s part of the journey. 

Adrian: Yeah. And as long as you stay engaged to continuously update and curate to the best of your ability… I think we’re obsessed with perfection as well, and then we become cynical because the world isn’t perfect, and then we’re entitled and we demand, that’s what cancellation is. It’s like if you’re not perfect, you’re like you just throw it away. But yeah, I mean, you’re right. My mom’s company, International Harvest, they’re certified organic for 30 years, and they bend over backwards to meet those certifications and source from the right places to get that organic because they believe in it as a principle. And then you have a lot of companies that are skirting those regulations and not necessarily doing the right thing, especially in other countries where they don’t have the same oversight. My point is give… be diligent, but also understand that it’s complex and companies like my mom are doing their very best to bring you the best, healthiest items, but you have to pay for that stuff, and you have to support that certification process for better, for worse in order for it to get better.

Gunnar: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we were part of launching the regenerative organic certification with Patagonia and Dr. Bronner. So I’m like, “That’s another step forward.” It’s an evolutionary process and none of these things are perfect. It’s just as we’ve been talking about, it’s part of a continuum of up-leveling our game. And I’m curious, outside of the personal work that you spoke to in terms of personal development and consciousness, what are the things that are the most exciting to you that are happening in the environmental movement today? 

Adrian: Well, I just have to say in permaculture, there’s a principle that’s use the edges and value the marginal. So it’s basically in nature where two fronts meet up against each other, that’s where there’s a lot of creativity, a lot of newness, because two different ideas or two different systems are confronting each other and forcing each other to level up or to learn or to figure out how to work together. And I feel like in the environmental movement, there’s a lot of pushback to the status quo of the environmental rhetoric, which is we’re all dead in 10 years, by 2030 this, and by 2050 that, and this much carbon, and blah, blah, blah. And while all of that served its purpose in instilling a certain amount of urgency and fear into the populace to go do something, it’s not actually benefiting us creatively in what we can build to actually make a world that we want to see, not just a bunch of rules and regulations, and in many ways oppressive Draconian dogma.

So what I’m seeing is a lot of… coming up, some pushback to those ideas and asking the movement to really reconsider what it is we’re doing and why, and whether or not there’s true legitimacy in the catastrophizing of the environment and what’s it keeping us from. So to challenge that a little bit and really push back, so that front I think is exciting. There’s going to be a lot of learning, I think, in that tension.

Gunnar: Yeah, so you brought it back to a consciousness piece, still, again.So it’s the way that we’re relating to it and relating to each other in the context of that journey.

Adrian: Yes. Yes. For 20 years, like I said, I’ve been doing this for a long time and people always say, “Well, what are the 10 things I can do to help the environment so that I don’t ever have to think about it again?” I would love to give the 10 things you do, and then that’s it. We’re done.

Yeah. I’d probably get to five, no easier than 10 or 10 no easier than five. But yet for me, that’s what it is. It is a fundamental perspective shift in consciousness so that when we make moves, when we operate in the world, because we are eight billion people on the planet, one size does not fit all. There’s not a top-down set of rules that everybody should follow to help the earth. Because if you live in the Sahara or if you live in Detroit, it’s two different use cases. What you do is different, so I think it’s about empowering the individual to recognize their necessary contribution to the earth and make people know that they are valuable. The environmental movement makes people feel like they’re bad and that they shouldn’t exist and they shouldn’t have kids. And that dejection, it depresses our life force and our ability to do something in the world and make the world a better place.

So we need the opposite, like, you matter, you are important, and you can make the world a better place in whatever way you see. Just look around you. You don’t have to be on the world stage like Greta Thunberg wagging your finger, you don’t have to glue yourself to get a bunch of attention to art pieces. You can start in your neighborhood. Plant a flower in your front yard, something simple.

Gunnar: Yeah. Yeah. I really appreciate just grounding it again, and lots of simple choices and really making it easier and more accessible. We’ve touched on a little bit, and it’s interesting for me is I have gone through my own journey. I grew up in a very kind of classically defined progressive environmental household and tribe of humans. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely seen how that it’s just not black and white. It’s just there’s so many nuances to these things. And even it’s having to build a home and then having to deal with environmental regulations that have gone awry that just make it impossible to build a home. And just like the practicality of becoming older and recognizing that what were previously black and white viewpoints are a lot grayer. And there’s actually a lot of value in embracing that gray space, so that we can have genuine inquiry about what’s the right solution for this particular situation as opposed to that temptation. As you said, the desire to find a silver bullet that one shoe fits all people, which is clearly not the case.

Adrian: Yeah. And I think you can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. In a lot of ways, our environmental departments of big, large corporations are simply an extension of the same corporate mentality. They’re not doing anything new, they’re just trying to save face, or it’s a marketing ploy, but there are a lot of companies that are being built today from their inception within the DNA of the company, they are creating businesses that are going to do things differently. They’re going to change the world and also make money, as opposed to helping the environment as an afterthought. So I think we’re on our way. I mean, look, for example, WorldView. I’m part of a company called WorldView, which is a space tourism company, and they’re competing with SpaceX and Jeff Bezos and all of the companies that are taking people to space, but instead of using technology as a thrill ride which costs a million bucks or as a means to escape the planet, go to Mars, using technology as a tool of introspection. How do we use technology to peer back down to earth and recognize the interconnectedness of all things, to see the fragility of the planet, and then to take that fundamental perspective shift, which astronauts call the overview effect, how do you take that perspective shift, come back down to earth, and then act upon it and do something? I’m lucky enough to be a part of that because my role is Chief Earth Advocate, which means once people come back to earth, once they land, how do we embrace them and say, “What did you see differently, and how can we do things differently here on Earth?”

Gunnar: Yeah, I love that. I think that’s such an important way of thinking about the value of going out into space. And if you look at the history, the environmental movement is often credited to that first image of seeing space and seeing space for the first time. Seeing earth from space for the first time is really largely credited for giving birth to the recognition that we live on a beautiful spaceship that we call earth, and it’s very precious. And if we were to find, even on another planet, if we found the Sahara Desert with the kind of life that you find in the Sahara Desert somewhere else on another planet, it would be the most exciting discovery to ever have onto humanity. And yet the Sahara Desert is just this viewed in the negative context of it. It’s this beautiful landscape that has all this incredible dynamism, and so I really appreciate

Adrian: Right. Yep. Well, it’s back to perspective shift, it’s back to consciousness. What we don’t know, we don’t know. And then when our minds are blown, we realize, “Oh, the sun doesn’t revolve around us.” That changes how we show up, how we are. And imagine how we’re going to change when WorldView accomplishes its mission, which is to bring an unprecedented number of people to the stratosphere, what’s it going to do to humanity that that many people have that fundamental shift in the way they see themselves in the world? I mean, that will have more of a positive impact on a radically improved future than all the technocratic rules that we have to follow to go within some sort of carbon limit. I mean, I think it’s just going to… fundamentally, just things will just be different.

Gunnar: Yeah, it’s like a parallel reality too. And I recognize that we’re coming to the end of our time here and just so appreciate getting to spend some time with you and track your career and contributions. Couple closing questions for you really in quick form, and you’ve talked about it, but just in simple form, what does thriving really mean to you at this point?

Adrian: What is thriving? Yeah. I mean, when one plus one equals three, 10, a hundred, a million. I mean, when you’re really recognizing the exponential potential of your life force and that you can actually tap into that, and it’s… I wasn’t always there because I was always counting the shackles. I was always, “What do I have? How much stuff do I have?” It was so finite and tangible. Now, it’s on a different plane because it’s ineffable. Thrivingness is really something you can’t describe, except thrive.

Gunnar: Exactly. What are some areas in your life or what’s an area in your life that you feel like you would want to change in your life to thrive more? What’s something that’s still alive for you in that regard? 

Adrian: Man, I’m learning how to be a husband. I didn’t have anybody to teach me that. I didn’t have anybody to show me the value in that, and I’m learning that. And I really feel like there’s something to showing up as a reliable, present, loving husband that not only is going to change my world and make my wife happy, but will have rippling effects into society.

Gunnar: Yeah, beautiful. I appreciate the honesty and the contributions that you’ve made. As someone who has dedicated my life foolishly to all sorts of exotic pursuits, mostly in service to maximizing the success of the human experiment, I bow to that same impulse that I see in you, which is just a desire to contribute to the human experiment, and it’s really a pleasure. Yeah. Thank you. All right.

Adrian: Deep bow, my friend.

This article is related to:

Environment, Healthy Living, Sustainable

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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