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    Alexander Dreymon (Star of Netflix’s “The Last Kingdom”) on: Therapy, Marriage, Anger, Masculinity, Meditation, and Being Nice (Even If You’re a Viking)

    Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help us let go of our attachment to something that is constantly changing, leading to a greater understanding of our true selves and the importance of being present in the moment.

    enApril 17, 2023

    About this Episode

    Alexander Dreymon is the star of a great show on Netflix called “The Last Kingdom.” He plays a Viking, so you're literally not going to find a guy who is more stereotypically masculine. But I've gotten to know Alexander recently and he's also incredibly thoughtful. 


    We cover a lot of ground in this conversation: marriage, parenting, anger therapy, sleep, human connection, meditation, masculinity, and, uh, how to show your body on Netflix without developing body dysmorphia. We also talk a lot about his show, which is awesome, although it is coming to an end — just a few days ago, Netflix posted the series finale, a movie-length episode called “Seven Kings Must Die” that wraps up the whole story. 


    In this episode we talk about:

    • how having male friends makes his romantic relationship even better
    • The importance of therapy, of silliness and of kindness
    • the importance of exercise in his life and how he tries not to get overly attached to his body looking a certain way
    • a whole discussion between the two of us on the Buddhist idea of non-self 
    • what his meditation practice looks like now that he has a toddler around the house
    • what it's like to wrap up his show, the Last Kingdom, and what might be next


    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/-alexander-dreymon-585 


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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Getting enough sleep, connecting with others, practicing anger therapy, and showing self-love are all important for maintaining happiness and wellbeing, regardless of your profession or identity.
    • Being mindful of our sleep habits can lead to better emotional regulation, while reflective listening can improve communication and relationships, both of which are skills that can be developed and improved upon.
    • Learning, whether through work, sports, parenting, or cultural exploration, gives a sense of achievement and can benefit cognitive health. Don't stop challenging yourself, embrace new experiences to enhance overall well-being.
    • Good communication and addressing issues are vital for a strong relationship. Historical accuracy and attention to detail in storytelling make 'The Last Kingdom' a show for the thinking audience.
    • Avoid distancing yourself in a relationship and communicate effectively to prevent conflicts from causing bigger issues. Don't take things personally and be brave enough to resolve conflicts and add spice to discussions.
    • Expressing anger in a healthy way and assuring others it's not about them helps maintain healthy relationships. Constantly working on self-awareness and communication skills is vital.
    • Connecting new habits to existing ones can help establish a routine, which is crucial for achieving long-term success in personal and professional pursuits. Don't forget to have supportive people to remind you of good habits.
    • Maintaining vulnerable connections with friends can add value to life and relieve relationship pressure. Communication, openness to new relationships, and embracing silly moments contribute significantly to happiness. A therapist as part of one's support system can be beneficial both personally and professionally.
    • Therapy can offer a safe and professional environment to process childhood trauma and help address issues in life and relationships. Having male friends to share with can also promote healthy masculinity.
    • Learning about emotions and mental health should be a priority in education. Seeking therapy and finding positive role models can help improve our relationships. Kindness should be practiced, but boundaries are crucial for self-care.
    • Small acts of kindness and self-reflection can lead to greater happiness. Making poor choices with good intentions can still yield positive results. It's important to ask yourself who you are beyond external factors, like your body.
    • Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help us let go of our attachment to something that is constantly changing, leading to a greater understanding of our true selves and the importance of being present in the moment.
    • By recognizing the impermanence of the ego, meditation can reduce suffering and increase joy. Practicing mindfulness with loved ones can enhance appreciation for everyday experiences and lead to greater empathy towards others.
    • Appreciating beauty and finding joy in everyday things can bring happiness. The Last Kingdom's finale wraps up the creation of England while Tre's story shows the importance of home and moving forward in life.
    • Home is more than just a physical space, it can also be a group of people or a pursuit of passion. It evolves based on personal experiences, but having a physical place to call home can bring happiness and motivation.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Actor Alexander Draymond on Non-Negotiables for Happiness and Wellbeing.

    In this episode of the 10% Happier Podcast, actor Alexander Draymond talks about his non-negotiables for keeping his life together, which include getting enough sleep for his demanding job. In a conversation with Dan Harris, Alexander also talks about human connection, anger therapy, parenting, and more. The discussion ranges from topics such as masculinity to how to show your body without developing negative body image. Although Alexander plays a Viking on the Netflix show The Last Kingdom, he is also incredibly thoughtful and his insights into happiness are applicable to people from all walks of life. The podcast is a part of a new shorter format that aims to bring various notable guests to discuss their happiness and wellbeing.

    The Importance of Sleep and Effective Communication Skills

    Sleep is important for our bodies, but becoming obsessed with tracking it can actually prevent us from getting quality rest. Being sleep-deprived can make us more raw, which can be helpful for emotional scenes or tasks where self-consciousness might get in the way. Reflective listening is a powerful tool to better understand others and improve communication, especially when someone feels the need to be heard. It involves repeating what someone says back to them in your own words to ensure clarity and understanding. It can be a useful skill to apply in various situations, including marriage. It's always possible to improve our communication skills and become better listeners.

    The Importance of Continuous Learning for Self-Worth and Brain Health

    Learning, no matter how small it may be, gives a sense of achievement and self-worth that can lead to happiness. Constantly challenging oneself and being open to learn through any means, such as work, sports, or even parenting, can greatly benefit memory and brain health over time. It is important to continue learning and never get bored in a world full of endless knowledge and experiences. Consistently learning new things can give one a thrill that enhances life experiences and prevent cognitive decline. Learning can be done through the challenges often presented at work, through new techniques learned in sports, or even learning about the time period, social norms, and structures of a character being portrayed.

    Dan Harris and Alexander Dreymon on 'The Last Kingdom' Accuracy and Relationships

    Dan Harris and Alexander Dreymon discuss the historical accuracy of the show 'The Last Kingdom' and how it portrays the battle between Christianity and Paganism, along with the importance of human connection in maintaining a healthy relationship. Alexander's character, Utre, is a fictional character set amidst the real historical events that led to the creation of England. The show has been praised for its attention to detail and storytelling style, being called 'The Thinking Man's Game of Thrones'. Allison, Alexander's partner, taught him the importance of clear communication and addressing issues in a relationship in order to maintain a strong connection.

    The Importance of Maintaining a 'Zero Space Policy' in Relationships

    Maintaining a 'zero space policy' in a relationship can be challenging and can lead to small seeds of distance becoming bigger, leading to holistic rot. It is important to work against the natural desire to disappear within oneself and take the space, and instead focus on coming back to the relationship. Being brave to go into the dark force field and meeting resistance is crucial. Even though conflicts may sweep aside, they will come back and add spice to other discussions. It is important to not take things personally and communicate effectively to maintain a healthy relationship.

    The importance of communication in handling anger and conflicts in relationships.

    Communication is key in handling anger and conflicts in relationships. Being able to calmly explain what's going on and assuring the other person that it's not about them, but about you, is important for maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. It's okay to feel angry and express it in a healthy way rather than keeping it bottled up, which can lead to dangerous outbursts. However, it's difficult to follow these rules all the time as emotions can be unpredictable. It's important to constantly work on self-awareness and communication skills to maintain healthy relationships.

    The Power of Consistent Habit Practice for Mindfulness

    Consistently practicing good habits and connecting them to existing ones can help cut against our habit patterns. Remembering to do so is key to achieving mindfulness and maintaining a happy life. It's important to have people who can remind us to keep up with these practices when we forget. Alexander Dreymon found that connecting new habits with existing ones was helpful in establishing a routine, such as meditating after brushing his teeth. Building and maintaining good habits takes continuous effort and is crucial for achieving long-term success, be it in a professional pursuit or personal well-being.

    The Importance of Maintaining Vulnerable Connections with Friends and Independent Friendships

    Maintaining connections with friends is important for a fulfilling life. As men, it may be difficult to express emotions with each other due to societal norms, but having vulnerable connections with friends can be a real blessing. Maintaining independent friendships outside of one's romantic relationship can take the pressure off the relationship and allow for problem-solving in a supportive group. Setting aside time to communicate with friends is important, particularly in today's busy lifestyle. Openness to new relationships and friendships can invigorate and inspire. Silly moments also contribute significantly to happiness. Having a therapist as part of one's support system is beneficial in both professional and personal aspects of life.

    The Benefits of Therapy and the Importance of Male Friendships for a Healthy Mindset.

    Therapy can help in reconnecting with oneself and with people around. It provides a safe environment to share thoughts and feelings that one may not share with anyone else. Childhood trauma can have repercussions throughout life and therapy can be helpful in addressing them. Having a therapist who can take on the role of a primary caregiver or a coach can be life-changing. Therapy can provide professional assessment of the situation and help deal with issues in life and relationships. It is important to have male friends with whom one can share and cry without judgment. Alexander Dreymon, as an avatar of masculinity, feels responsible for modeling a different kind of masculinity.

    The importance of understanding the human condition and setting boundaries in personal and work life.

    Teaching about the human condition and the workings of the mind should be a part of every curriculum at school. Knowing how certain actions affect our lives, relationships, and others is essential. Working with a good therapist can help us understand these things, which can make our lives and relationships better. Men, especially, need positive role models to overcome emotional stunting. Kindness is crucial in our personal and work lives, and it's fun to be kind to strangers as well. However, it's also important to put up boundaries to protect ourselves and prevent overstepping. Being conscious of boundaries is crucial in all aspects of life.

    The Power of Kindness and Self-Reflection for Happiness

    Sewing seeds of kindness by peppering your day with positive interactions can have a measurable impact on your happiness. Alexander Dreymon believes that despite encountering a defeat along the way, it is worth it to make poor choices with good intentions because the results of kindness are worth it. Dan Harris learned that his inclination to be frosty was not helping him, and he had to unlearn it. Alexander Dreymon did not need to make conscious decisions about being kind because he enjoys it. Physical exercise and eating healthy foods are part of Alexander Dreymon's identity and give him joy. However, Alexander also had a reckoning with himself where he asked himself, 'if I'm not my body anymore, what am I?'

    The Power of Mindfulness in recognizing the insubstantiality of our ego and sense of self.

    The only constant in life is our awareness and mindfulness practices can help us connect with that. Our thoughts, feelings, and physical body are constantly changing, making it important to find something more substantial to hold onto. While practicing mindfulness and meditation, it's possible to reach a point where we recognize the rapid and constant changing of everything, including our own mind and senses. This can lead to a terrifying realization of the insubstantiality of our ego and sense of self. However, accepting this can also lead to a greater understanding of our true selves and the importance of being present in the moment, rather than holding onto something that is constantly shifting.

    The Benefits of Integrating Meditation into Daily Life for Greater Awareness and Empathy.

    If you can see that the ego that's giving you so much suffering isn't real, then you don't have to suffer as much. The key to Buddhism is to help other people suffer less. Meditation can be integrated into daily routine, and not just done while sitting down. It can be practiced throughout the day and even with loved ones, which can bring immense joy and help you see the beauty in everything. Children, for example, can teach you a lot about experiencing everyday things with wonder and delight. Ultimately, the purpose of meditation is to come back into the world with a greater sense of awareness, empathy, and kindness towards others.

    Cultivating Openness and Falling in Love for Happiness

    Cultivating an attitude of openness to being struck by beauty and experiencing awe could lead to happiness. Falling in love every day with anything, everything, and anyone can work wonders. The Last Kingdom series finale movie is more about wrapping up the big story of the creation of England, while Tre's story wraps up in the last five seasons. It ends with a battle that unified England, and Alexander Dreymon, who played Utrad, is sad but ready for the next chapter of his career. The driving motivation for Tre was home.

    Finding the True Meaning of Home Through Life Experiences

    The importance of having a home can mean different things for different people and can evolve over time based on personal experiences and relationships. For actor Alexander Dreymon, his nomadic lifestyle made him view a home as a group of people and the pursuit of his passion. However, when he became a father and entered a committed relationship, he realized the importance of having a physical place to call home. Through his character Tre's journey in finding a home in the Last Kingdom, Dreymon was able to reflect on his own journey and solidify a unit and family as his home. Finding a home can be a significant aspect of one's motivation for living a better and happier life.

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