Struggle is Real—Suffering is Optional (BJ Miller)
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“My goal isn't to not be afraid, my goal is to have a relationship with fear. So I presume fear is going to be part of the picture. So my goal is more to have a relationship to that fear so I can move with it so I can push back on it so I can learn from it. Um, and so it doesn't have so much power over me, but I, I've not, I've not met any truly fearless people. It's more that I've met people who understand their fear and have made peace with it.” So says BJ Miller, a remarkable doctor who specializes in palliative medicine and end-of-life care, which ironically means that he spends most of his time teaching people how to really live. When BJ was an undergrad at Princeton, he climbed an electrified train car and ended up as a triple-amputee and long-term patient. Understanding the healthcare system from the inside out inspired him to go to medical school—and it also put him into a deep and reflective dance with mortality, fear, and what it means to lean into life. He has become a cultural sherpa, showing us all what this looks like. These days, he is the founder of Mettle Health, which makes palliative care more accessible: He offers virtual consultations and guidance for individuals and families dealing with practical, emotional, and existential issues.  He joins me today as we discuss his work on life, death, and how we go about handling the in between. Our conversation covers the cultural numbness to death in the abstract and the concrete fear that arises when death becomes personal. We forget, BJ says, that suffering and dying are fundamental and intrinsic parts of life. When we allow ourselves to acknowledge the many small deaths that occur throughout our lives—whether it be the death of a relationship, of a career, or of a way of life - we can use these moments to practice losing and letting go, gaining clarity around what truly matters in the process. The goal, BJ tells us, is not to be unafraid of the end, but rather to cultivate a love of life so big, that it encompasses death as well. I am thrilled to call BJ a dear friend, and am even MORE thrilled to bring this conversation to you as we contemplate the year that just was, and the year to come.  EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: Contemplating death and a fascination with life… Big deaths, small deaths… The illusive sweet spot of perspective… Stripping down… MORE FROM BJ MILLER A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE END by BJ Miller Mettle Health BJ Miller - What Really Matters at the End of Life - Ted Talk, 2015 One Man's Quest to Change the Way We Die - The New York Times Magazine After a Freak Accident, a Doctor Finds Insight into Living Life and Facing Death - BJ on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross Follow BJ on Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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