Kathy Freston On Her Favorite Life Lessons And #Wellth

I’ve spent the past year thinking a lot about “wellth” — the idea that success is found in a lifestyle devoted to mental, physical, and emotional health. (I even wrote a book about it.) In this new series, we’re celebrating visionaries who embody what it means to be wellthy. 


Kathy Freston is a New York Times best-selling author, wellness activist, and longtime friend of mbg!

mbg: Favorite way to break a sweat?

KF: You mean besides the obvious? ;) Well, I LOVE to dance. Like, for hours. Sometimes it’s a wedding, or a barbecue in summer, or just a spontaneous thing at a party where a few friends and I just start dancing when we hear a great song.

Last summer I was dancing at a wedding for about three hours when I realized I was just drenched in sweat (not too attractive when you’re wearing a silk dress), but I didn’t care. We were having so much fun and I was so energized because of the music.

I wish communities would bring back the dance halls, where you have all ages come together for good, clean fun. I’m not a fan of clubbing, by the way; that’s a whole other scene I can do without!

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So you like Brussels sprouts, huh?

I’m insane for Brussels sprouts these days. I crave them like I used to (okay, still do) crave French fries. They’re so good when broiled with a little olive oil and salt, and I could wolf down a whole bowl of them.

Favorite healthy restaurant?

My regular haunts are Veggie Grill and Real Food Daily in LA for lunch. And for dinner I love Crossroads because (a) Tal Ronnen rocks a vegan Mediterranean menu like no one ever has, (b) they have a killer wine list and the mixologist is really creative, and (c) it’s a really fun scene. No matter how good a restaurant is, if there isn’t a vibe, I’m not interested.

Crossroads just started serving brunch every day, too, and the chick’n and waffles dish is to die for. I also love Moby's new place, Little Pine, in Silver Lake. The food is fantastic and you kind of feel like you're dining in his home!

How do you de-stress?

Seeing and staying in touch with my friends is medicine for my soul. We go really deep when one of us is going through something, and we laugh our arses off in between those times.

If we can’t meet up for a hike or happy hour cocktails, we talk on the phone or just sit and have tea at one of our houses. I think having really close relationships and knowing you’re not alone in life enables you to get through anything. It makes me happy to be in touch with those I love.

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Related Class

What's the biggest life lesson you've learned when it comes to love and relationships?

You have to share a common set of values. If one person values family and the other values travel or solitude or something that wouldn’t work with a family, that’s going to be really hard. If one partner is mission-driven and the other partner just wants to party and have fun, it won’t work.

You have to be with someone who you respect and admire and with whom you have meaningful conversations. You don’t get everything, but you should get the important stuff. I thrive on connection and growth, and my relationship reflects that.

Favorite place to get some nature?

I love hiking in Santa Barbara. It’s magical up there with the mountains and beaches, and when I go into the hills alone, I usually come out with clarity and a greater sense of being at one with the world.

What does wellth mean to you?

To me, wellth is the sense that I’ve found my place in the world — spending time with people I love, and also doing what I feel is my calling. To be part of a movement that is committed to making life better for animals makes my heart soar. Success in that domain is shared success, and that feels really good.

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Any advice for someone looking to follow their passion?

Do things for free, because your heart insists on participating in the Great Work. Keep doing the next right thing, the next smart move, and then before you know it, the fabric of a meaningful life is woven.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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