Labeling, Suffering, and the Human Condition Ep 394

Summary Notes


In a thought-provoking discussion, Alex Hormozi addresses the impact of labeling on mental health and human behavior. He challenges the idea that common human experiences, like sadness or fatigue, are inherently negative, arguing that labeling such feelings as problems can lead to unnecessary suffering. Hormozi, the owner of and author of "100 Million Dollar Offers," emphasizes that our brains are designed for survival rather than thriving, and that understanding the power of labels can be key to persuasion and altering worldviews. He advocates for recognizing the normalcy of life's ups and downs and suggests that wisdom begins with defining terms clearly to reduce emotional disturbances. Hormozi's central message is that suffering is a choice and that embracing the full spectrum of human experience without judgment can lead to a more fulfilled life.

Summary Notes

Perception of Positive and Negative Aspects

  • People often assign positive or negative values to things without fully understanding the consequences.
  • These ascribed values can significantly impact individuals' lives.

"People ascribe positive and negatives to things without understanding what the deep ramifications of those things are."

This quote highlights the idea that individuals may not fully grasp the profound effects that their judgments can have.

Introduction to the Podcast

  • The podcast aims to discuss strategies for customer acquisition, value maximization, and retention.
  • It also covers various failures and lessons from the hosts' experiences.

"Welcome to the game where we talk about how to get more customers, how to make more per customer, and how to keep them longer, and the many failures and lessons we have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy and subscribe."

This quote serves as an introduction, outlining the podcast's focus on business growth and learning from past mistakes.

Alex Hormozi's Background

  • Alex Hormozi introduces himself and his business,
  • He mentions the company's significant annual revenue, establishing his credibility.

"And if you don't know who I am, my name is Alex Ramosi. I own It's a portfolio of companies, does over $100 million a year."

The quote provides context on Alex Hormozi's professional background and the scale of his business ventures.

Discussion on Problems and Mental Health

  • Alex Hormozi discusses the concept of problems, particularly in relation to mental health.
  • He points out the relative novelty of the mental health industry and its historical context.

"So yesterday I was having a conversation with an old friend of mine, and we have different beliefs around the topic of problems, especially when it comes to the human condition."

This quote introduces a conversation that prompted Hormozi's thoughts on the topic of problems and mental health.

The Power of Labeling

  • Hormozi emphasizes the power of labeling in shaping people's perspectives and behaviors.
  • He explains how the brain assigns meanings and labels to experiences as a survival mechanism.

"Our minds are meaning making machines. And so what that means is we determine what is meaningful and what is not. And then we ascribe labels to them in terms of positive and negative, because that is how we survive."

The quote explains the cognitive process of labeling and its evolutionary purpose.

Brain's Function: Survival vs. Thriving

  • The brain is designed primarily for survival rather than to ensure personal growth or happiness.

"Now that being said, our brains are meant to keep us alive, not meant to help us thrive."

This quote succinctly contrasts the brain's survival functions with its role in achieving personal success or fulfillment.

Persuasion Through Labeling

  • Hormozi describes how positive labeling can be used as a persuasive tool.
  • He provides an example of how aligning a sales pitch with a person's desired self-image can influence their decisions.

"If I wanted to persuade someone to do something, then what I would do is I would create a positive label that I would associate them with."

This quote illustrates the technique of using positive labels to persuade individuals to take specific actions.

Labeling and Cognitive Dissonance

  • Labeling can cause cognitive dissonance, making individuals feel compelled to act in ways that align with the labels they accept.

"And so what happens is it creates cognitive dissonance, because for the person, in order for them to stay in accordance with the label that they would like to have, they then feel obligated to then act in accordance with that label that we just prescribed."

The quote describes the psychological conflict that arises when a person's actions do not match the labels they identify with.

Negative Impact of Labeling on Mental Health

  • Hormozi discusses the potential harm of labeling in the context of mental health, based on personal observations of his family members.

"And the reason that this is so viscerally upsetting to me is that I have had members of my family extended and whatnot, who have, I would say, debilitated themselves in large part because of what they believe to be mental illness."

This quote reveals Hormozi's personal connection to the issue and his perspective on the negative effects of labeling on mental health.


  • Hormozi provides a disclaimer clarifying that his content is not professional advice but personal commentary.

"Now, many people will get triggered at this, and so I will say my big disclaimer, which is, this is not financial advice. This is not grammatical advice. This is not spiritual advice. This is not even advice. This is a guy making YouTube video about stuff that pisses me off, and hopefully some of the thing"

The quote serves as a disclaimer, distancing Hormozi's personal views from professional guidance.

The Perils of Labeling Human Experiences

  • Discusses the negative impact of labeling one side of a human experience continuum as bad and the other as good.
  • Examples of dichotomous labels include happy/sad, energized/weak, relaxed/stressed.
  • Labels can lead individuals to perceive normal variations in the human condition as problems.
  • This can escalate normal emotional states into perceived long-standing issues.
  • The pharmaceutical industry capitalizes on labeling normal human conditions as problems.

"One of the most pernicious acts that exists, negative, bad stuff, is when we take the human experience that has ups and downs, that has extremes that exists on continuums, and we label one side of the continuum as bad, and the other side of the continuum is good."

This quote highlights the damaging practice of assigning moral judgments to natural human emotions and states, framing them as either wholly positive or negative.

"The problem that most people suffer from is that they label normal variations in the human condition with negative experiences."

This quote emphasizes that labeling common human experiences as negative can lead to unnecessary suffering and a misperception of one's emotional state.

"It's very easy to sell people on why these things are our problems. Big Pharma is the king of this."

Here, the speaker points out how the pharmaceutical industry benefits from the negative labeling of normal human experiences by marketing their products as solutions to these "problems."

The Impact of Language on Resilience and Mental Fortitude

  • Highlights the importance of careful labeling for entrepreneurs seeking resilience and mental fortitude.
  • Discusses how ephemeral conditions are often labeled as good or bad unnecessarily.
  • Mentions the restrictive nature of language patterns such as "should," "have to," "must," and "need to."
  • These patterns can indicate underlying broken thought processes and create undue pressure.

"We must be careful about the things that we label."

This quote stresses the importance of being deliberate and thoughtful about the labels we use, especially in the context of entrepreneurship and mental resilience.

"People ascribe positive and negatives to things without understanding what the deep ramifications of those things are."

The speaker suggests that people often assign value judgments without fully considering the consequences, which can lead to distorted thinking.

"If you are unhappy, awesome. You're human. This is the human existence."

The speaker uses this statement to normalize feelings of unhappiness, framing them as an integral part of the human experience rather than something inherently negative.

"If you are tired, awesome. It will create more contrast for when you are awake."

Here, the speaker reframes tiredness as a necessary contrast to alertness, suggesting that experiencing both states is part of being human and not something to be viewed negatively.

"If you are stressed, amazing. It will give you contrast for when you are relaxed."

Similar to the previous quote, this statement redefines stress as a state that enhances the appreciation of relaxation, rather than as an inherently bad condition.

The Human Experience and Emotional Acceptance

  • Alex Hormozi discusses the importance of accepting the full range of human emotions.
  • He emphasizes that what people often perceive as problems are simply aspects of being human.
  • Defining being human as the problem is what leads to suffering.
  • Hormozi believes that suffering is optional, citing Viktor Frankl's experiences in concentration camps.
  • The gap between circumstance and response, where choice lies, is crucial to the human experience.
  • Hormozi shares his personal struggle with the obsession to be happy, which paradoxically led to more unhappiness.
  • He suggests that acknowledging and accepting emotional peaks and troughs is key to reducing suffering.
  • Hormozi used a mental refrain "and that's okay" to accept negative emotions without judgment.
  • The power of humans is in the choices they make between circumstance and response.
  • He concludes with a reference to Socrates on the importance of defining terms to resolve disagreements.

"And I think the biggest problem that most people have is that they define being human as the problem, which inherently is why they suffer so much."

This quote underlines the central issue Alex Hormozi identifies: the misinterpretation of the human condition as inherently problematic, leading to unnecessary suffering.

"Suffering is optional. And an easy story to reinforce. This point or extreme example of this is, if you've read Viktor Franckl's man's search for meaning."

Hormozi references Viktor Frankl's work to illustrate that suffering is a choice, even under the most dire circumstances.

"Between circumstance and response is choice, and that is the power that all of us have."

The quote captures the essence of Viktor Frankl's message, highlighting the autonomy individuals have in choosing their responses to situations.

"For a very long period of time, I was obsessed with being happy. And in being obsessed with being happy, anytime I was not happy, I saw it as bad rather than a part of being human."

Hormozi shares his personal experience with the pursuit of happiness, which led to a counterproductive outcome.

"I created a mental refrain. Just a simple thing that I can say to myself in my mind over and over again, is that when I'm experiencing a negative part of the human experience, I'll say, and that's okay."

This strategy is shared as a practical method for coping with negative emotions by reframing them as acceptable parts of life.

"Wisdom begins with a definition of terms."

Hormozi concludes with a philosophical perspective on the importance of defining terms to achieve understanding and resolve conflicts.

The Power of Choice in Response to Circumstances

  • The concept of choice in how one responds to any given situation is a central theme.
  • Two people can experience the same event and have different outcomes based on their choices.
  • The way individuals interpret and respond to their emotions can determine their level of suffering or happiness.
  • Hormozi emphasizes that control over one's judgment of emotions is more attainable than control over the emotions themselves.

"A lot of it is because of the choices that we make between circumstance and response."

This quote encapsulates the idea that personal agency in choosing one's response is a significant factor in the human experience.

Definitions and Communication

  • Hormozi touches on the importance of defining terms when communicating.
  • Misunderstandings and disagreements often stem from different interpretations of the same words.
  • By agreeing on the definitions of terms, people can more effectively communicate and resolve differences.

"Most arguments or disagreements can be resolved if both people come to an agreement on terms."

The quote stresses the importance of clarity in communication and the need for a shared understanding of language to avoid conflict.

Defining Outcomes and Achieving Goals

  • The process of defining terms and outcomes is crucial for achieving desired results.
  • Clarity in language and contracts can lead to clearer communication and thought.
  • Precise definitions can resolve emotional disturbances by reframing problems.

"And the way that you define the outcomes that you want to experience will help you achieve them, if that is what you so desire."

This quote highlights the importance of intentionality in defining outcomes to achieve goals. Defining what one wants clearly can set the stage for success.

"And what was interesting to me was when I read through the contracts, the first half of like 50 plus page contracts were just defining the terms."

This quote emphasizes the significance of clear terms and definitions in contracts, which is analogous to how we should approach our goals and desires in life.

Emotional Disturbances and Human Experience

  • Emotional disturbances often stem from how we define and interpret our experiences.
  • Recognizing emotions as temporary and a part of being human can reduce suffering.
  • Redefining the human experience to include the full spectrum of emotions can lead to a more fulfilled life.

"And so this is something I'm very, very passionate about. Hopefully, the topic was not as amorphous as hopefully it sounded to you, but people suffer because they choose to define their experience as suffering."

Alex Hormozi conveys his passion for understanding human emotions and the notion that suffering is often a matter of personal definition rather than an objective state.

"And then what happens is we could start redefining what the human experience should be."

This quote suggests that by changing our perception of what it means to experience life, including suffering, we can alter our emotional responses and reduce long-term disturbances.

Buddha's Middle Path and Judgment

  • Understanding both extremes of the human experience can lead to a balanced life.
  • Removing self-judgment and being present can alleviate suffering.
  • Normalizing the range of human emotions counters harmful narratives that pathologize normal experiences.

"And I think Buddha had a really interesting concept around this, which know, he talks about the middle path in life, which is, by the way, a lot of people don't know this, but Buddha was a prince beforehand."

Alex Hormozi introduces Buddha's concept of the middle path, which suggests balance in life, informed by Buddha's own experiences from riches to poverty.

"And then I think when we do that, we remove the judgment of self, which is where a lot of the suffering occurs, rather than simply being present for the experience and enjoying it for what it is, which is just being human."

This quote emphasizes the idea that much of our suffering comes from self-judgment and that embracing life experiences without judgment can reduce suffering.

Normalizing Human Emotions

  • Emotions like unhappiness, fatigue, hunger, and sexual desire are normal aspects of being human.
  • Societal narratives that label natural human experiences as problems can create unnecessary suffering.
  • Accepting the normalcy of these emotions can prevent them from becoming long-standing issues.

"It's the most normal thing for people to be unhappy sometimes. It's the most normal thing for people to be tired sometimes it's normal to be hungry. It's normal to be horny. It is part of being human..."

Alex Hormozi asserts that a range of emotions and states, often perceived as negative, are in fact normal and should be accepted as part of the human condition.

"And we create so much suffering for ourselves by saying that there is a problem with simply existing during a period of time on a continuum and then that problem that we label then becomes long standing rather than something, something that passes with time."

This quote criticizes the tendency to pathologize normal human experiences, which can turn transient emotions into persistent problems, thereby increasing suffering.

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