I got to know Lewis Howes when mutual friends put us in touch, and I got to be a guest on his terrific and very popular podcast, The School of Greatness, which is all about what makes great people great. You can listen to our conversation here.
His new book, The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, has just hit the shelves. The subtitle says it all! Fun facts: Lewis is a former professional football player and two-sport All-American and a current USA Men’s National Handball Team athlete. Yowza.
Lewis interviewed me, and I was eager to interview him, to hear his thoughts on habits, happiness, and related subjects.
Gretchen: What’s a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?
Lewis: I feel so good when I meditate every morning and evening. I only meditate for about 13 minutes and use the same guided meditation every day, but it makes a big difference for me. I’m not perfect at it, but it helps me stay on top of my emotions and manage overwhelm when I do it consistently. I think some type of focused breathing and visualizing what you want your life to be on a daily basis is extremely healthy.
What’s something you know now about forming healthy habits that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
Sports were my life growing up and through college, so at 18 I knew the value of a schedule and commitment to it to see results. What I didn’t realize then was that the most powerful habits are the ones that you choose to form and stick to when no one else is holding you accountable. It took me a while to figure this out after I was done playing professional sports, but I was able to eventually pull on my previous experiences and re-create some solid habits from sports into my adult life.
Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?
Yes. When I get into something new and exciting (like a new sport or hobby), I get INTO IT. It’s all I want to do. So I won’t let myself get a puppy (even though I REALLY want a French bulldog) because I know I would get nothing done. I would just play with my dog all day.
Which habits are most important to you? (for heath, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)
Working out daily is a must. In fact, just taking a break and getting outside at least once a day is a must. That is my foundation and lets me sort out my thoughts and get my emotions in balance. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of frisbee in the afternoon for a break. Getting my inbox empty at the end of the day is something I believe in because completion is powerful and having things pile on you becomes overwhelming. I’m not perfect at it, but it’s so worth it to keep emails manageable. I also love going to the movies once or twice a week just to give myself a break and think about something besides everything on my plate.
Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?
When I was first getting successful in business (creating great financial results), I was working at my laptop for 16+ hour days and eating like I was still playing football. So I packed on the pounds. My family started calling me “Flewis” for Fat Lewis. I realized it was time to corral my sugar addiction (because I LOVE sweets, especially ice cream). I cut out sugar and gluten for 28 days and lost 28 pounds. Ever since then I’ve been able to keep my sugar addiction under control – thanks to a green juice every morning.
Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?
I’m a Questioner. If someone tells me to do something, or there’s a rule I’m supposed to follow, and it doesn’t make sense, I’m not going to do it. I’ll find a better way.
Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits? (e.g. travel, parties)
Being on planes and away from home a lot (especially this year with my launching my book and touring for it) it’s hard to keep a solid sleep and workout schedule, but I still make a big effort. I have to be in my best shape to pull competing with the USA national team, running my business, and having fun.
Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you changed a major habit very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?
Yes, when I moved to NYC and realized my face was as fat as a marshmallow, I gave myself the 28-day challenge for no sugar and green juice, and it changed the game for me! It was so challenging but so worth it!
Do you embrace habits or resist them?
I love them once they’re made, but it’s super hard for me to make new ones. And if I have bad habits, it’s a big deal to change them. That’s why I surround myself with people who are good at what I’m not great at.