The Thrive Questionnaire//

Comedian, Katie Goodman, on Her 30-Day Email Detox

Plus her secret life hack.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Katie Goodman: Well….I stand up and wince and then generally whine out loud about my injury du jour… However! Then I catch myself, and stop and just simply notice it. I try to stop the habitual “Oh Lord I’m getting old” commentary, and just observe without judgment. Now, I saaaaaay that I do that, and I tryyyyy that, but I succeed only half the time. On good days. The trick isn’t that we are suddenly not bothered by life, or fraught with the habitual thoughts that attack our sense of peace. Those thoughts are going to be there forever. The trick is to not get sucked in by them. We don’t have to believe the thoughts. We can say, Oh hey you, I know YOU! You’ve been with me a long time and yeah okay, just go sit over there for a while. And face the wall. I’m going to do my thing over here without you. So catching the thought is the superpower you want to acquire. Okay, is that really a weird way to start a day? I guess that’s what happens if you’re a comedian-slash-life-coach and you sleep all night next to a Buddhist.

TG: What gives you energy?
KG: Besides coffee?? Let’s see… Activism. And coaching or speaking to people who are really stuck. Having good ideas of how to help them and then later hearing that it worked. That’s what gives me energy. And connection with others like the cast of my show, who care about the things I care about. That is a massive infusion of energy. There’s nothing like it and it’s hard to get that kind of juice on your own. Take that and multiply it by 1,000 people and you’ve got a movement.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
KG: Do NOT talk with your spouse about work or the children while in bed. Nor about in-laws. Okay there’s probably a really long list here…. Maybe just don’t talk in bed.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
KG: Stumbling On Happiness. Because you absolutely can’t tell what is going to make you happy down the road. As a coach and Buddhist it’s all about bringing happiness into the present. This book put the science behind that.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
KG: It only wishes it did. (I have very good phone boundaries.)

TG: How do you deal with email?
KG: I once did a 30-day email detox and wrote about it for O. (http://www.oprah.com/money/the-30-day-email-detox). It got people’s attention and Gayle King had me on her show and looked at me with this mix of envy and distrust, like I might kill her cat. The detox was a glorious 30 days, let me tell you. Life did not come to a screeching halt. My relationships didn’t die – in fact I called people so those relationships got better. I put up an away message and told people to call if it was urgent, which they did… if it was. I think it showed me how ridiculously important we all think we are. We have to remember there was, oh 10,000 years of humanity before it was invented.On a daily basis, I never open it until after I’ve done the creative work. And I don’t mean just writing some comedy or a song. I mean also any strategic thinking or big picture deep dives. And I generally tell my assistant and other people if they need me right away to text. That way I don’t feel pressure to keep checking it.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
KG: What a great question. Cuz that NEVER happens. Okay let me think. I do sometimes end up on the subway with a dead phone and just have to (gasp!) SIT for 15 minutes. I meditate or I look around at people and wonder what’s happening in their lives. When we go on road trips with our kid, we do this thing called Bridge Breaks. Every time we go over a bridge, everyone has to put down their device or turn off the podcast or whatever. And we just have to LOOK. It’s honestly one of the most lovely, life-affirming habits ever. Just looking out at a view for no reason other than we made a rule to do that. Humans are weird, aren’t we?

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
KG: After creating my new Mastermind Coaching course. And you know why? This is so odd. Because I was just having too dang much fun. I was waking up at 5 in the morning for weeks which is completely not something I have ever voluntarily done but I was just so excited about it. However, because I was enjoying it I didn’t notice the burnout creeping up. This is like Advanced Burnout. Because, come on, we can all catch ourselves when we are burned out on the stuff we hate. I mean, that’s why we read Thrive Global in the first place – we get that whole burn out thing. We’ve created careers we love! We’ve limited ourselves so we don’t waste our lives doing things we don’t want to do! We’re living our best lives! But this… this was just a total shocker. Like I was betrayed by all my Best Life practices. Burned out doing what you love? Whaaa?? But it’s true my friends. There’s just nothing on this planet that you can overdo and get away with. Except maybe Jude Law movies. That’s probably gonna be okay.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
KG: I’m not sure I believe in Fails with a capitol F anymore. I don’t see those things as failures but as stepping stones to what’s next, so it doesn’t bother me like when I was younger, but where I really do struggle is in The Daily Fail. Just every dang day I seem to lose patience as a mother or feel incredibly stupid as some technological glitch gets the better of me and I think those mini daily fails are harder for me than a bigger fail because they can wear you down over time. The only way I overcome them is by getting up the next morning and going at it again.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
KG: When my son was 3 years old, and we were all running around rushing and stressing out about something dumb and we barked at him to hurry up, he looked up nonchalantly and said, “Whatever, whatever, blah blah blah.” I am not kidding. Totally the words of the Buddha. Needless to say we stopped and laughed and slowed down. Very few things are really worth the stress, I’ve learned.

Katie Goodman is an award-winning comedian, author and speaker. She has been seen on Showtime, Current TV, and TruTV, has toured internationally for over 12 years, and her comedy show Broad Comedy is currently running Off-Broadway. Her comedy has amassed over 3 million views online. As a keynote speaker and trainer, Katie has taught over 10,000 people the art of bringing the tools of improvisational comedy into their work and every day life. She writes for O, The Oprah Magazine and is the author of Improvisation For The Spirit: Living A More Creative, Spontaneous and Courageous Life Using The Tools of Improv Comedy. Katie was nominated for the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for her unique work in theatre.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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