First Published May 2022
“I LIVE A LIFE OF POSITIVITY”
A few weeks back we had the pleasure of spending some time in the company of the world famous TV hypnotist, mentalist, and brain hacker KEITH BARRY to chat about his book, BRAIN HACKS, and his RECONNECTED Tour which comes to Tullamore on June 3rd. With that date in the Tullamore Court Hotel now only a few weeks away, it’s time to bring you Part 2 of our chat with Keith.
I feel like it’s also worth reminding you that during our chat – which was via Zoom, by the way – Keith read my mind, not once…but TWICE. Believe you me, I’ve thought about it long and hard ever since, and I still have no idea how he did it. It still feels like it should have been impossible…and yet…he did it. It happened. Even if I can’t explain it. If you missed Part 1 of this chat where I went into detail on exactly what happened, you can check it out on the official OTRT website.
But my point is, if he can do THAT via Zoom, I can’t wait to see what he can do to, or with, a venue full of people in the Tullamore Court Hotel on June 3rd.
In advance of our interview, I was listening to a podcast on which Keith had recently been a guest. On that podcast, he spoke about his ‘chaos-box’, an idea I love. Essentially, it’s where Keith stores ideas for inspiration. I asked him if he’d share a little about the whole concept of the box and how it came to be…
And, sure enough, with that request Keith disappears off-screen, informing me as he goes that, “Hold on, I’m going over to get my chaos-box!”
“I’ll put it this way”, he says, upon his return into view on my screen, “this is my current chaos-box. I don’t know if I can lift it up [it is, in fairness, quite a big and full box], look, there it is there. So that’s my chaos-box. Let’s see what we have goin’ on in here. I’ve got all kinds of mad s**t in here! I’ve got Pringles. I’ve got this…I don’t even know what this is [he lifts up something that I can’t identify either]. I literally don’t know what this is, but I know it will give me inspiration. I have an everyday magic-kit. I’ve got some really old coins. I collect coins as well, so I’ve got all these really old ones. So let’s just take a coin, for example. Today, I might go, ‘I can’t make a decision about something’, so I’ll take a coin, flip it, and go heads or tails. Heads. Done. That’s the decision made. Whatever that comes up with, I’ll do that. The concept of the chaos-box just came to me randomly one time when I was stuck – just completely stuck – in a creative rut. I’d read years ago about people making a mood-board, right, where you take clippings out of magazines. That’s what I’d read. But for me, I’d tried that years and years ago, taking clippings out of magazines, but it never really resonated with me, that one thing. I could never really make it work for me. Different folks, different strokes.”
“But then”, he continued, “I realised objects are really important to me. So what I do is, I literally take – as you can see – a whole bunch of different things, and I chuck it into a box. There’s tons and tons of different things in there. And as I look at that chaos-box, there’s probably a hundred different things in there. When I get stuck in a creative rut, I stop, and I just play. I don’t even think about whatever it was I’d been thinking about, I just play with the objects in the chaos-box. So what this does is it opens up your creativity, gives your mind a break from whatever it is that you’re working on at that moment in time. But more importantly, again, in the background while you’re doing this, your subconscious mind is working in overdrive to solve the problem that you have to hand. So, anytime I get stuck, I just take that and I dump it out on the floor – cos’ I have loads of space here – and I literally just sit there and I play with all that kind of stuff. Then I’ll go back to the problem at hand, and nine times out of ten, my creativity will have been inspired by the chaos-box.”
The most important thing about the chaos-box, according to Keith, is that “you kind of rework it once a month.”
“I’ll actually take all those items [currently in the box] and I’ll either dump them or I’ll put them somewhere else, and put new objects in there so it’s not that you have the same things there the whole time. And, of course, it also keeps your office really tidy! [Laughs]. That’s what’s great about it, right? [Laughs]. I don’t have any of this stuff lying everywhere, my office is lovely and neat and tidy. I can’t turn my camera around now because my technician is not here. When we do gigs, if I touch any of this equipment, he kills me [laughs]. But if I did, you’d see a really tidy office. So if you’ve got a chaos-box going on, it just helps a lot, it helps with organisation, with structure, and then with creativity.”
What, I asked Keith, is it about people – some people – that stops them from creating a better life for themselves when the methods to do so are there, and are being shared by people like him in easy to access ways, ways that are just waiting to be used?
“Dare I say it – this will be unpopular, but I have to say it – it’s laziness! People are lazy. We’ve become so comfy in our comfy houses. I’m in a heated cabin now, and I’ve got a heated house, and I’ve got a heated steering-wheel, and heated seat in my car. I’m really comfy with all that. And then people are always looking for an easy solution. And this is an issue. I talked to somebody recently about this, on a project I was working on. But we were talking to a lot of different people, literally hundreds of people. And it turned out that over 50% of those people were medicated for either anxiety or depression. These are just normal, everyday people, right. But I asked them all – and this is the interesting thing – I asked them all, each one of them individually, when did they have the EKG machine hooked up? When did you have your brain scanned? And they were like, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Well, the only way that you should be on that medication is if they scanned your brain and determined that the neurology of your brain is out of kilter, and you have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Because that’s what chemicals are designed to do, they’re designed to help the chemical balance. So where did you have your brain-scan, or where did you have your blood tests to prove that you have a chemical imbalance?’ And not one of them had been scanned. Not one of them had a blood test. In other words, it was just a doctor going, ‘Oh, you appear to have signs of anxiety, the signs of depression, here’s your medication.’ So the issue is, people are looking for a quick-fix.”
“The information is all there [to change your life]”, asserts Keith. “It’s like the gym. I’m currently about six kilos overweight, and I don’t look it, but I am. So I’m currently intermittent-fasting, which is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. Like life isn’t easy, right? I’m currently intermittent-fasting, sixteen hours a day, no food. And then an eight-hour window in which I can eat. And in that window, it’s just black coffee with no milk because I don’t want to spike my glucose levels. And scrambled eggs. Now, I’m not saying that everybody should do that. But I know I’m going to lose the weight by doing that, and if I go to the gym. But the easier thing would be to go, ‘Oh that’s too hard’, and just not bother. It’s easier to have a glass of wine on a Wednesday night. It’s easier to sit in on a Friday night. It’s easier not to go for a walk when it’s raining. But I think right now, we’re unfortunately in a world where people are looking for the easy fix. A lot of it is down to digitisation of the world. Everything has become so instant at our fingertips. We want the instant solutions to our bodies. We want the instant solutions to our minds. And that’s how people end up struggling. And people say they struggle, and they do struggle, and they recognise that so I’m not belittling that. That’s important for me to get across. I have empathy for people.”
“But…! People need to start taking some responsibility for their own self-discipline. Like, literally, get a journal and write down the sh*t that you want to do in life. And then get up and get on it. You’ve got to maintain that discipline. Before I did anything this morning, I did four rounds of Wim Hoff breathing, I did twenty-two press-ups, exactly twenty-two press-ups for a reason. Then I got into a freezing cold shower, I’m talking about a brain-crushingly cold shower, for five minutes. Then I came out and I did twenty-five press-ups because currently I’m doing a press-up challenge with my friends – there’s four of us – we’re adding on two press-ups a day, so I think one-hundred-and-twenty-two press-ups is what I’ve got to get in today. That’s why I did twenty-two, twenty-five, I’ll do another twenty-five, and then I’ll have fifty left to do. It’s easier not to do that! But, life will give you what you put into it. You’re right, the information is all there, and it’s mostly free. If not, it’s in a book like my book. I’m not saying this in any way to be egotistical, but everything that you need to fix your mind is in my book. But whether you want to use that or not, and apply that or not, is down to the reader. I’ve got some amazing stories of people who have said that the book has actually changed their lives, which is fantastic to hear.”
However, what Keith thinks people really need to understand is that they can fix themselves…
“I think they need to understand that the solution is within themselves. I think they need to stop being lazy. I think they need to activate themselves every day and stop playing the blame-game as well. Like, it’s easy for us to go, ‘Oh, the oil prices are going up because of the Russians’, or ‘Oh the banks have screwed me!’, or ‘I wish this year was better.’ Don’t wish anything was better. Wish YOU were better. Isn’t that an interesting concept? Don’t wish that the pandemic didn’t happen. Wish that YOU were better during the pandemic, ya know. I have that mindset. We all have to deal with illness. We all have to deal with bad times. We all have to deal with good times. What are we in now? We’re in spring now, summer is coming. Then after the summer, autumn is coming. Then after the autumn, winter is coming. Are we going to get another strain of this sh*t? Probably. Are we all going to get downbeat and downtrodden? Maybe a lot of people will. I won’t. Because I’m already preempting it. That’s a big thing that I do, I preempt obstacles. Start to take a step back and go, ‘Actually…I can control what’s inside my brain.’ You can’t control the world. I can’t control Putin. I can’t control [what’s happening in ] Ukraine. I can’t control Joe Biden. But I can control my responses. My response is to limit the absorption of that information. And to show my support lovingly to Ukraine, which I think we should all be doing. And then, after that, there’s not very much I can do.”
For Keith, it’s about putting habits in place every single day to ensure that he lives a life of positivity.
“I live a life of positivity. That’s what I do. If you look at my Instagram, I was on Ventry pier the last three days, jumping into the sea, going for a freezing cold swim. There wasn’t a soul in sight, there weren’t even people walking on Ventry beach when I was down there. So, am I right? I don’t know! But all I can tell you is that’s what works for me. But I don’t just do ONE thing that works for me, I do LOADS of things. I do sea-swimming. I do my breathing. I do my own meditation. I do my own visualisation. And it takes time. It takes self-discipline. And, I fall off the wagon. I’m not perfect. I fu*k up like everybody else. But when I fu*k up, I recognise it, and then I take control of it. So right now, my fu*k-up, if you like, is that I’m 89 kilos and I’m starting to film in two and a half weeks for RTE. I should be 85 kilos at least, if not 83, so I’ve got to get that weight off quick! Which I will do. But, it’s not easy! So yeah, I think people need to start to take that responsibility again.”
~ KEITH BARRY’s RECONNECTED Tour comes to the TULLAMORE COURT HOTEL on JUNE 3rd. For ticket information, check out www.ticketmaster.ie. Keith’s new book, BRAIN HACKS, is also OUT NOW, available in all good bookshops nationwide. Parts 1 and 2 of this interview with Keith are available to enjoy in full at the official OTRT website, www.ontherighttrax.com