The “What I’ve Learned” Podcast: Van Jones On How the Pandemic Changed the Way He Lives and Works

The CNN host opens up about the value of self-care for activists.

Thrive Global
Thrive Global

In the “What I’ve Learned” podcast, Arianna Huffington sits down with remarkable people to explore the lessons they’ve learned over the extraordinary past year about themselves, about their lives, and about what they truly value.

This week, CNN host and activist Van Jones joins Arianna to share what he’s learned about the connection between well-being and creating change.

On the well-being wakeup call he had early on during the pandemic:

“COVID was a big wake-up call for me because at the beginning, they were saying like, Well, you know, it’s for people who are very old and people who have comorbidities. And I was like, Well no doctor told me I had a comorbidity, so I’m good. It took a while to understand that comorbidities are, like, half of what Black people have: you know, hypertension, diabetes, pre-diabetes — like, ‘Oh wait, wait, that’s me.’ And suddenly I realized like I’m going to be a snack for this virus.”

On how he learned that his value wasn’t tied to his work:

“Slowly but surely I started getting the message that I need to take this as an opportunity to just take care of myself. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, I think, probably to most people. But the idea that I would have any kind of value to anybody not doing all that work — even to myself — would have, this time last year, seemed so preposterous to not even consider it as a serious statement. And now it makes all the sense in the world to me.”

On how his relationships changed during the pandemic:

“Look, I’m gonna tell you right now if you still got the same friends now that you had five years ago, either you got some amazing friends or you ain’t growing because it doesn’t work that way. And you just say that life is you’re on a train and you’re going to see God. And you look out the window and sometimes the scenery is beautiful and sometimes it’s ugly, but the train moves on.”

And Arianna shared a Microstep inspired by the conversation that you can take with you: Set a news cut-off time at the end of the day. While being informed can help us feel more prepared in the middle of a public health crisis, setting healthy limits to our media consumption can help us have a recharging night’s sleep and put the stressful news into perspective. 

To hear more from Van and Arianna, listen to this full episode of “What I’ve Learned,” available wherever you get your podcasts.

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