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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.)
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time
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Now displaying: April, 2019
Apr 25, 2019
In our last +1, we explored the relationship between our food rotting and us rotting. Recall: The longer the shelf life of the food we eat, the shorter our lives will be!
 
That wisdom was from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules
 
In fact, it’s Rule #13: “Eat only foods that will eventually rot.”
 
Today we’re going to talk about another Food Rule.
 
Food Rule #57 to be precise.
 
“Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.”
Funny.
 
Here’s how Pollan puts it: “American gas stations now make more money inside selling food (and cigarettes) than they do outside selling gasoline. But consider what kind of food this is: Except perhaps for the milk and water, it’s all highly processed, imperishable snack foods and extravagantly sweetened soft drinks in hefty twenty-ounce bottles. Gas stations have become ‘processed corn stations’: ethanol outside for your car and high-fructose corn syrup inside for you. Don’t eat there.”
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Don’t eat at a gas station. 
 
Ever again.
 
Hah.
 
Seriously.
Apr 20, 2019
Why We Sleep is a life-changing kinda book.
 
We’re going to spend a few more days mining a few more of the many gems from Matthew Walker’s masterpiece.
 
Today we’re going to flip open our virtual Optimize magazine to the kind of ad we’d allow in there.
 
Here it is:
 
AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH!
Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”
 
← Wow!! I’ll take it! You?
 
Matthew continues: “While it may sound hyperbolic, nothing about this fictitious advertisement would be inaccurate. If this were a drug, many people will be disbelieving. Those who were convinced would pay large sums of money for even the smallest dose. Should clinical trials back up the claims, share prices of the pharmaceutical company that invented the drug would skyrocket.
 
Of course, the ad is not describing some miracle new tincture or a cure-all wonder drug, but rather the proven benefits of a full night of sleep. The evidence supporting these claims have been documented in more than 17,000 well-scrutinized and scientific reports to date. As for the prescription cost, well, there isn’t one. It’s free. Yet all too often, we shun the nightly invitations to receive our full dose of this all natural remedy–with terrible consequences.
Failed by the lack of public education, most of us do not realize how remarkable a panacea sleep truly is.”
 
I always love it when the fundamentals are pitched like a miracle pill.
 
Jonathan Haidt’s similar ad for meditation comes to mind: “Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It’s called meditation.
 
Then there’s John Ratey’s magic from Spark: “I tell people that going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin because, like the drugs, exercise elevates these neurotransmitters. It’s a handy metaphor to get the point across, but the deeper explanation is that exercise balances neurotransmitters — along with the rest of the neurochemicals in the brain. And as you’ll see, keeping your brain in balance can change your life.”
 
(btw: After shattering my arm, I couldn’t exercise/sweat for a month. Gah!!! I *really* missed my little daily dose of Ritalin and Prozac and I’m really happy to be popping those metaphorical pills again! Alas, I’m still months away from full burpees but I’ll take what I can get for now!)
 
So, yah. Sleep is a magic pill. So is meditation. And exercise. 
 
The more of those metaphorical pills we pop, the less of the other stuff we’re likely to need, eh?
 
P.S. Actual sleeping pills? Matthew dedicates a chapter to outlining why they are a REALLY bad idea. They don’t help induce real, restorative sleep. Science says CBT-I is a much better option!!
Apr 15, 2019
In our Optimize Coach certification program, we kick the party off by establishing the game we’re playing in Module I: Eudaimon-ology in which we connect ancient wisdom (Aristotle!) to modern science (Seligman!) to establish the fact that it’s all about flourishing/having a “good soul” via living with virtue.
 
Then we move on to get clarity on how to Operationalize Virtue—going from theory to practice to mastery. When? TODAY!!! 
 
After a quick look at Module II: The Big 3 x 2 (aka: Energy + Work + Love x Identity + Virtues + Behaviors), we spend six (!!!) weeks on Module III: #carpediem as we begin systematically architecting our Masterpiece Days to cultivate emotional stamina and consistently express the (Optimus!) best version of ourselves.
 
We remind ourselves of the fact that our day actually begins the night before. As such, the first thing we focus on Optimizing is our PM Bookend. The #1 thing we focus on there is our digital sunset—aka, when we turn off our blue-light emitting devices to allow our brains to simmer down so we can get a good night of sleep so we can wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and energized.
 
All of which gets us one step closer to the point of Today’s +1.
 
During our two hours (!) of Q&A for that session, one of the questions a Coach asked was if it made a difference whether they read via an iPad or a book at night.
 
I gave my thoughts on the subject. Then, literally the next day, I got more clarity on the SCIENCE behind the answer.
 
Enter: Matthew Walker’s brilliant book on the science of Why We Sleep. (Note: If you’re going to read one book on sleep, this is it.)
 
Short story: Bring people into a lab. Have them read a book on an iPad a few hours before going to sleep. Then have the same person read a printed book on a different night. Then measure their melatonin. 
 
Here’s what you’ll find: “Compared to reading a printed book, reading on an iPad suppressed melatonin released by over 50% at night. Indeed, iPad reading delayed the rise of melatonin by up to three hours, relative to the natural rising the same individuals experience when reading a printed book. When reading on the iPad, their melatonin peak, and thus instruction to sleep, did not occur until the early morning hours, rather than before midnight. Unsurprisingly, individuals took longer to fall asleep after iPad reading relative to print-copy reading.”
 
Crazy but true: Reading on your iPad suppresses melatonin production (a key pacing event for great sleep) by a remarkable 50%!! 
 
So... 
 
Today’s +1: Reading tonight?
 
Consider going old school and reading a print book.
 
Your melatonin will thank you.
 
And your future, tomorrow self will thank you for the energy boost as well.
Apr 12, 2019

Mike Erwin joins us as a guest teacher for this class! CEO of The Character Center, co-founder of the Positivity Project, and co-author of the book Lead Yourself First, Mike is passionate about inspiring leaders across the country. His secret sauce to leadership? Solitude! (More specifically, freedom from the input of other minds.) In this class, Mike debunks the assumption that great leaders must always be accessible and uncovers the personal + organizational benefits of leaders who seek out periods of solitude. Want the competitive advantages of clarity, creativity, emotional balance + moral courage? Get your solitude on!

Apr 10, 2019
In our last +1, we did some severe pruning with Steve Chandler and Ralph Waldo Emerson. (How’d that go for you? More specifically: What went for you?)
 
Today we’re going to spend some more time doing creative gardening with Steve. 
 
Now, as we discussed in our +1 on our radish farm (oops!), I’m not much of a gardener. (Hah.) So… I’d never heard of “grow lights” before but I love the way Steve captures their metaphorical power. 
 
Here’s how he puts it in CREATOR: “When an aware person (someone who knows and realizes that they are creative energy itself) notices that the sales of their services have been neglected—resulting in lower income—they simply turn their light (creative energy) toward the sales process.
‘Whatever you give your attention to grows’ is not just some positive slogan—it’s how the world actually works. The more you become aware that you are infinite, creative energy, the more you can see yourself as light.
 
Think of it the way a gardener uses a grow light.’ Sometimes called a ‘plant light,’ grow lights make it easy to grow plants indoors. Grow lights are used for horticulture, indoor gardening, indoor hydroponics, and aquatic plants. Shine a grow light on your indoor plant and you ignite enough photosynthesis for the plant to grow.
 
Creativity is just like that light. You can shine your grow light anywhere. On your business, on relationships, on your exercise routine, on your music, and on your education.”
 
Love it!!!
 
Want to grow something in your life?
 
SHINE THE LIGHT OF YOUR AWARENESS ON IT.
 
Yep. That’s the trick-ticket.
 
Which kinda begs two questions:
  1. What would you like to see more of in your life? And,
  2. How can you shine a little more grow light on it?
 
Today a good day to get on that, my CREATOR friend?!? 
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