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In a recent conversation on The Tim Ferriss Podcast, standup comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld opened up about his creative process, and revealed that maintaining his physical fitness and mental wellbeing are both important practices that feed into how he approaches writing comedy.
“Exercise, weight training, and transcendental meditation, I think, could solve just about anyone’s life,” he told Ferriss. “I don’t care what you do, with weight training and transcendental meditation, I think your body needs that stress, that stressor. And I think it builds the resilience of the nervous system, and I think transcendental meditation is the absolutely ultimate work tool. I think the stress reduction is great, but it’s more the energy recovery and the concentration fatigue solution, which is of course, as a standup comic, I can tell you, my entire life is concentration fatigue. Whether it’s writing or performing, my brain and my body, which is the same thing, are constantly hitting the wall. And if you have that in your hip pocket, you’re Columbus with a compass.”
Seinfeld, 66, went on to describe the current training regime he uses, which includes three weight sessions and three HIIT cardio sessions per week. “There are a lot of days where I want to cry instead of do it because it really physically hurts,” he said. “A lot of my life is — I don’t like getting depressed. I get depressed a lot. I hate the feeling, and these routines, these very difficult routines, whether it’s exercise or writing, both of them are things where it’s brutal.”
Speaking about the importance of structure and routine in his everyday life, Seinfeld (whose latest standup special 23 Hours to Kill came out on Netflix earlier this year) explained that he treats his writing sessions like workouts, with clear targets and time limits, and a “reward” at the end, to prevent fatigue or burnout.
“It’s like you’re going to hire a trainer to get in shape, and he comes over, and you go, ‘How long is the session?’ And he goes, ‘It’s open-ended.’ Forget it. I’m not doing it. It’s over right there,” he said. “You’ve got to control what your brain can take. OK? So if you’re going to exercise, God bless you, and that’s the best thing in the world you can do, but you got to know when is it going to end. ‘When is the workout over?’ ‘It’s going to be an hour.’ ‘OK.’ Or ‘You can’t take that? Let’s do 30 minutes.’ ‘OK, great.’ Now we’re getting somewhere. I can do 30.”
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