Info

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at optimize.me.)
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time
2019
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
May
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September
August


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: February, 2019
Feb 24, 2019
Continuing our theme of seeking/conquering fear, let’s have some fun with Jon Eliot and his wisdom from Overachievement.
 
Here’s how he (brilliantly!) puts it: “Working on techniques to manage stress is a bit like trying to win the Indy 500 by putting a governor on the engine of your race car or swapping out a powerful V-12 for a V-4 because it offers a ‘quieter ride.’ You wouldn’t do that. Not if you were after the checkered flag. Not if you were racing star Jeff Gordon. No superstar is about to give his opponents an edge. Nor should you by trying to relax when the pressure’s on.”
 
So…
 
Important question.
 
Do you want to win the race of life?
 
Or…
 
Would you simply prefer to have a “quieter” ride?
 
(I say “YES!!!” to both, please! lol)
 
Ideally, we show up with THE most powerful engine possible AND we have fun learning how to handle that Beast as we drive at record-shattering speeds, eh?
 
Let’s do that.
 
But let’s agree not to get so overwhelmed by the sensations of fear that we swap out our race car engine for a lawnmower engine, eh?
 
P.S. More wisdom from Jon Eliot: “I have discovered that I cannot enhance anybody’s performance without getting them not only to live with the butterflies that come with high-pressure jobs, but to embrace that kind of physical response, enjoy it, get into it. That’s the real first ticket to being a performer who thinks exceptionally.”
 
P.P.S. Another John comes to mind here. JFK once said: “Don't pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men [and women].”
Feb 19, 2019
Gary Taubes wrote a great book called The Case Against Sugar.
 
Basic idea: If you were a detective in charge of figuring out a series of crimes and you noticed a common pattern among those crimes, you’d be smart to put the pieces together and see if you could narrow your search down to a single suspect.
 
Right?
 
Well… That’s what Taubes does in his book.
 
The crimes? All the chronic diseases wreaking havoc on our society—from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and cancer.
 
Short story: All those chronic diseases are associated with metabolic dysfunction.
 
And the fastest way to make your metabolism dysfunctional? Sugar.
 
Enter: The case against it. 
 
Remember our Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn? She discovered telomerase—the stuff that replenishes telomeres. 
 
Here’s how she puts it in The Telomere Effect: “When we want to spot the parties responsible for metabolic disease, we point a finger at the highly processed, sugary foods and sweetened drinks. (We’re looking at you, packaged cakes, candies, cookies, and sodas.) These are the foods and drinks most associated with compulsive eating. They light up the reward system in your brain. They are almost immediately absorbed into the blood, and they trick the brain into thinking we are starving and need more food. While we used to think all nutrients had similar effects on weight and metabolism — a ‘calorie is a calorie’ — this is wrong. Simply reducing sugars, even if you eat the same number of calories, can lead to metabolic improvements. Simple carbs wreak more havoc on metabolism and control over appetite than other types of foods.”
 
Blackburn is at UCSF. She references her colleague Robert Lustig when she makes the point above. As we discussed in our last +1, Lustig is one of the world’s leading research endocrinologists. You know what he says about sugar?
 
He tells us that sugar is the “Darth Vader” of the nutrition world.
 
This little statistic might be THE most powerful one we’ll ever read regarding just how dangerous sugar is. (I repeated it half a dozen times in Optimal Weight 101).
 
“If you had any residual doubt about ‘a calorie is not a calorie,’ this analysis should remove it. Every additional 150 calories per person per day barely raised diabetes prevalence. But if those 150 calories were instead from a can of soda, increase in diabetes rose sevenfold. Sugar is more dangerous than its calories. Sugar is a toxin. Plain and simple.”
 
I repeat:
 
“If you had any residual doubt about ‘a calorie is not a calorie,’ this analysis should remove it. Every additional 150 calories per person per day barely raised diabetes prevalence. But if those 150 calories were instead from a can of soda, increase in diabetes rose sevenfold. Sugar is more dangerous than its calories. Sugar is a toxin. Plain and simple.”
 
That’s crazy.
 
150 additional calories from any source? No big deal.
 
150 additional calories from a CAN OF SODA? DIABETES GOES UP SEVENFOLD.
 
Know this: “Sugar is more dangerous than its calories. Sugar is a toxin. Plain and simple.”
 
Please tattoo that on your consciousness. (Right after throwing away your sodas!)
 
And… To be clear: This isn’t just about risk for diabetes. It’s a metabolic issue—which is all about how every cell in our bodies produce Energy—which means it affects EVERYTHING.
 
Today’s +1.
 
If you feel so inspired, go throw away all the sodas in your house. (Hah. Seriously.)
 
The Case Against Sugar is REALLY solid.
If we’re serious about Optimizing our Energy and well-being (for ourselves and for our kids), reducing/eliminating it should be a top priority.
 
#caseclosed
Feb 14, 2019
In our last +1, we took a quick trip to Michelangelo’s studio and saw the Optimus You sitting there in the uncarved marble. Then we did a little chiseling at some behaviors that might be getting in the way.
 
Today’s +1 is another super-quick one.
 
Pop quiz: You know what moment Michelangelo decided to capture when he carved David? 
 
Hint: It wasn’t his moment of celebration right after he “officially” became a hero by defeating Goliath. 
 
It was his moment of DECISION.
 
It was the moment he DECIDED to step up and do his best to serve profoundly and, ultimately, heroically.
 
That (and I have goosebumps as I type this) was what Michelangelo (rightly) considered the most heroic moment of David’s life—the moment he DECIDED to step up and strive to be a hero. 
 
Guess what?
 
(Echo!!)
 
We get to make those micro-decisions all day every day.
 
Here’s to choosing wisely, David.
Feb 9, 2019
In our last +1, we met Joe De Sena’s kettlebell named Leo. (I laugh as I type that.)
 
As you may recall, little Leonidas goes everywhere Joe goes. Traveling around the world? Mr. Leo gets checked in. Heading to the office in the morning. Leo’s going, too. 
 
All day every day. Joe and his 44-pound cast-iron little Leo are BFFs.
 
Now, as I was preparing for Greatest Year Ever 2019, I was reflecting on that epic love story and thinking about the importance of having symbols to capture our most important intentions. 
 
For Joe, that kettlebell represents his commitment to obstacle immunity and to honoring the pledge he’s made to help 100 million people Optimize their lives via his Spartan Races—which I find to be SUPER inspiring.
 
I wondered: What symbol can I create for myself that will capture my commitment to stepping up and into the next-best version of myself as a social entrepreneur and leader—doing my part to help 100 million (!!) people Optimize their lives by combining the power of Wisdom + Community + Virtue?
 
For about 5 seconds, I considered taking Joe’s lead and carrying around my own 44-pound kettlebell. But, a) that’s crazy (even by my standards—lol) and b) that’s Joe’s thing. 
 
So… I scratched that idea and simply placed my 44-pound kettlebell a few feet from my wall calendar so I nearly trip over it every time I capture a micro “That’s like me!!” WIN.
 
Then it hit me.
 
I’ll wear the little Spartan sweatband you get when you do a Spartan Race with the competitive folks. Yep. That’s it. I used to keep it on the corner of my desk as a reminder but I picked it up and put it on.
 
Obnoxiously obvious = perfect.
 
So…
 
I hereby formally introduce you to my own little Leo. You met my Suunto Spartan Ultra watch not too long ago. Well, here’s his pal. He prefers to go by his full name: Leonidas.
 
Every time I glance down at him I think of the ancient Spartan King and of my commitment to be Spartan (and Athenian! lol) strong as I strive to cultivate my virtue and give the world all I’ve got.
 
All of which leads us to Today’s +1.
 
How about YOU?
 
What are you most committed to in this precious life of yours?
 
What symbol can you create to capture that commitment?
 
Note: If you’re feeling particularly iconoclastically feisty: The more obnoxiously obvious (for you and everyone around you) the better.
Feb 5, 2019

Cal Newport joins us as a guest teacher for this class! He is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown. He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs. Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism.

Feb 4, 2019
Meditation.
 
At this point, most of us are pretty aware of the fact that it’s been proven to be pretty epic for our well-being. 
 
Congrats, high fives, curtsies, etc. if you’re rockin’ a meditation practice already.
 
If you’re not investing a few minutes of your day into meditation yet, what’re you waiting for?!
 
Perhaps you’re telling yourself you don’t have the time?
 
Well, we know that’s a pretty flimsy excuse (hah!) but if you’re not meditating and you have a tough time falling asleep at night, here’s some fun little data from Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution that will help us quantify the IMMEDIATE time-ROI you’ll get by meditating.
 
Arianna tells us: “A 2009 Stanford study found that a six-week mindfulness meditation course helped people who have trouble sleeping fall asleep twice as quickly, in fifteen minutes instead of thirty-three minutes.”
 
Recap: If you have trouble falling asleep, learning to meditate (and doing so consistently) can help you fall asleep twice as quickly—in FIFTEEN minutes rather than THIRTY.
 
That 15 minutes you invest this morning in meditation?
 
You’ll get it back tonight.
 
And…
 
You’ll get all the other benefits of meditation as well.
 
Check out Meditation 101 for more.
 
For now, how about a one-minute meditation to get your practice going starting today?
 
Sit up nice and straight. With “dignity” as Jon Kabat-Zinn would say. Pull that thread your head. Chest up. Chin down. Relax. Smile. Breathe in through your nose, down into your belly. Exhale slowly through your nose. 
 
Repeat. Five times. 
 
Congrats! 
 
You’re a meditator!
 
Here’s to your calm confidence and energized tranquility today AND tonight—as we remember the instant ROI from a simple meditation practice.
1