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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: October, 2019
Oct 31, 2019

Agency. It’s one of my favorite words and psychological concepts (and a cornerstone of our Optimize Coach program). So, when I saw this book I immediately got it and read it and here we are. Paul Napper and Anthony Rao are leading consultants and clinicians (who have both held academic positions at Harvard Medical School). In their great book, they define agency as “the ability to act as an effective agent for yourself—reflecting, making creative choices, and constructing a meaningful life.” Then they provide practical, scientifically-grounded wisdom on, as per the sub-title of the book: “The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms.” In this Note, we take a quick look at the 7 principles and shine a spotlight on the first 3 with a focus on how we can Optimize our agency TODAY!!

Oct 27, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about A World Without Heroes and the fact that A hero sacrifices for the greater good. A hero is true to his or her conscience. In short, heroism means doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.”
 
Then we challenged ourselves to choose THIS DAY (!) to be one of them.
 
Today we’re going to talk about some more brilliant metaphorical wisdom from Brandon Mull’s wonderful storytelling mind.
 
Quick context: In Beyonders, our main characters gets transported to another world. In that world, an evil Emperor reigns. Few people have chosen to stand up to the Emperor. Those who look like they might be significant threats are harassed and, if they’re lucky, get invited to a place called Harthenham to enjoy the “Eternal Feast.”
 
Basically, this is a place where you have ZERO issues. A place where you can enjoy all the most indulgent foods and pleasures you can imagine—where you have no worries at all and can literally live better than a king who has to worry about his kingdom.
 
When presented with an invitation to Harthenham, many heroes give up their quest and cash in their ticket to the Eternal Feast—where they proceed to waste away the rest of their lives.
 
I’ll save the spoiler alert about what happens with our young hero. Today we’ll focus on the brilliant metaphorical representation of OUR desires to get to a place where WE have no further toil or challenges. 
 
The Eternal Feast.
 
(Doesn’t that sound scrumptiously inviting?!)
 
We have a word for that. 
 
Exoneration
 
(Thanks, Phil + Barry!)
 
Wouldn’t it be so amazing to no longer have to work so.darn.hard?
 
No more bills to pay. Kids to feed. Laundry to fold.
 
No more (often) overwhelming creative challenges. Or health issues. Or, well, ANY problems at all?
 
Ahhh…
 
Wouldn’t that be SO NICE?!
 
Insert: Laughter.
 
Plus: More laughter.
 
Hah.
 
Reminder: We will NEVER (!) be exonerated from challenges.
 
And, the sooner we get that fact (and remember it when we forget it) the faster we’ll reduce the “Resistance” part of the “Suffering = Pain x Resistance” equation as we get back to practicing the ancient art of acquiescence and the modern art of loving what is.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s reject our invitation to the Eternal Feast.
 
And get back to serving the greater good.
 
Heroically. 
 
Today.
 
(And tomorrow. And…)
Oct 25, 2019

Ryan is one of my absolute favorite writers and I'm excited to sit down with him to chat about his latest book, Stillness is the Key. One of the testimonials in the front of the book perfectly captures my sentiment. Screenwriter and director Brian Koppelman (Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen and Billions) puts it this way: “I don’t have many rules in life, but one I never break is: If Ryan Holiday writes a book, I read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.”

Oct 22, 2019
Not too long ago we talked about the fact that the word prosperity literally means “to go forward with hope.” 
 
Then, as you may recall, I challenged us to take some time to create a prospectus that inspires us to invest in the project that is our masterpiece lives such that we consistently MOVE FORWARD WITH HOPE.
 
Then…
 
I realized that this is pretty much exactly what we’re trying to do with our Coaches on a daily, micro-prospectus level via something we’re calling “Carpe Diem” journaling. 
 
Carpe Diem
 
Seize the day!! 
 
How?
 
Create a micro-prospectus. 
 
How?
 
Well, one way is via The Big 3 (x 2): Energy + Work + Love (x Identity + Virtues + Behaviors).
 
In (very) short: 
 
Identity: Who are you at your Optimus best Energy + Work + Love-wise? 
 
Virtues: What virtues do you embody as you express your best in each of those Identities? 
 
Behaviors: What’s ONE thing that best version of you would do TODAY Energy + Work + Love-wise? 
 
That’s it. #carpediem
 
You can do the whole thing in a minute by writing 9 words. Or, you can spend a few more minutes if you feel so inspired.
 
Super simple micro-prospectus.
 
When?
 
Today. Tomorrow. The day after that. 
 
Stoke the fire of hope.
 
And…
 
Prosper!
 
(btw: We’ll be unpacking this whole process a LOT more in our upcoming Mastery Series. For now, here’s a little one-page journal sheet you can play with. And, here’s Michael showing you how to rock it.)
Oct 18, 2019

My wife Alexandra has been a huge fan of Marie’s for a long time. I knew she was awesome. But... As I told Alexandra: “I had no idea Marie was THAT awesome!!!” My excuse: I’ve been in hermit-mode and have done nothing but read books for 5 years (no blogs/videos/etc.) so I wasn’t able to get the full sense of Marie’s heroically brilliant and grounded and HILARIOUS power until this book came out. I’ve read and created PhilosophersNotes on well over 500 books. This is one of my ABSOLUTE (!) favorites of all time. I HIGHLY (!!!) recommend it. It’s in the same league as some of my other favorites like Deep Work Atomic Habits and The 5 Second Rule. (In fact, on my chalkboard right now, I actually have “EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE” right above “5-4-3-2-1-GO!” -- Winning combo!) The book is PACKED (!) with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share my chat with Marie about a few of her favorites.

Oct 17, 2019
One of the core themes of our work together (in these +1s and in our Coach program, etc.) is the power of constantly (!) experimenting as we find little ways to Optimize. 
 
All day. Every day. 
 
Repeat. 
 
(Again.) (And again.) (And again!)
 
All done with a big eudaimonically joyful smile—as if we’re playing the greatest game ever created. (Which, of course, we are.)
 
So…
 
We’ve called it a bunch of things. 
 
In a business environment, the whole idea of kaizen is super popular. (Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement.” … Synonymous with “Optimize”?)
 
While Tony Robbins calls it “CANI!” (As in “Constant And Never-ending Improvement.”)
 
So…
 
I’m riffing on that basic theme during our fundies session on Sleep—reminding us all of the power of chipping away and looking for marginal gains as we have fun with the whole CANI thing.
 
Only, I suggested we swap out the “I” for “E” and make it “Constant And Never-ending EXPERIMENTING” (rather than “Improving”).
 
I then made the (weak) suggestion that perhaps we could pronounce it: CAN-EE! 
 
To which Michael Balchan (my right-hand guy with our Coach program) playfully suggested we call it “CANOE!” (short for “Constant And Never-ending Optimizing Experimentation”) as he made some side-to-side canoeing motions.
 
To which I said, “PERFECT!”
 
C.A.N.O.E-ing!!
 
Constant And Never-ending Optimizing Experimentation.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
What’s one little experiment YOU can run Today?
 
Let’s grab our CANOEs and hop in the Optimizing River of Flexibility
Oct 12, 2019
In one of our very first Notes, we took a quick look at Brendan Brazier’s The Thrive Diet
 
I read the book when it came out nearly a dozen years ago. Loved it. Then Brendan and I met at an event, became friends, etc.
 
If you’re looking for ideas on how to be a high-performance plant-based athlete/human, I think you’ll enjoy Brenden and his work. He’s a former professional endurance athlete and the formulator (and cofounder) of the Vega nutrition brand.
 
Today we’re going to chat about one of my favorite Ideas from his book.
 
It popped into my head during the Q&A with our Coaches after our session on Sleep as we discussed having curfews on our caffeine while remembering the fact that when we routinely get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep we DOUBLE (!) our risk for cancer. 
 
First, here’s the wisdom from Brendan: “I consider coffee drinking an uncomplementary stress. I view it as a form of credit, similar to shopping with a credit card. You get energy now that you don’t actually have, but you pay for it later—when the ‘bill,’ or fatigue, hits. (Simply drinking more coffee to put off the inevitable is like paying off one credit card with another: It will catch up with you sooner or later.) You’ll most likely pay a high interest rate as well, needing more time to recover than if that energy had not been borrowed in the first place. This is the beginning of a vicious cycle.”
 
Let’s call that “Borrowed Energy.”
 
Now, let’s connect that to the Matthew Walker gem we keep on talking about: “Two thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep. I doubt you’re surprised by this fact, but you may be surprised by the consequences. Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer.” 
 
So…
 
You know what MOST of those two-thirds of adults who aren’t getting enough sleep do to make up for the fatigue they almost certainly feel most days?
 
They (of course) BORROW ENERGY.
 
In the form of caffeine via coffee, sodas, tea, etc. And/or sugar, etc. 
 
Now…
 
It would be GREAT if we actually had a running tab on all the energy we’ve borrowed. Some super simple energy budgeting App like Mint for Energy. 
 
One glance and we can see how much more energy we borrowed Today and how high our interest rates are, etc.
 
Unfortunately (and this is TRULY unfortunate), we don’t.
 
Instead, we go on borrowing more and more and more energy. Day in and day out. Week in and week out. Month in and month out. Year in and year out. Decade in and decade out.
 
And then…
 
We don’t just continue to feel fatigue…
 
Instead… 
 
We double our risk of getting cancer and make ourselves unnecessarily vulnerable to all the other chronic illnesses we don’t want. 
 
And…
 
WHAM!
 
Our debt is due.
 
And we run a vey high risk of paying a VERY steep price in the form of one of those dreaded chronic diseases that are currently plaguing our modern society.
 
Let’s remember that the vast majority of chronic diseases could be prevented with a few simple (fundamental!) lifestyle changes.
 
I repeat myself (yet again): One of the biggest levers we can pull?
 
Get a good night of sleep.
 
Stop borrowing so much Energy.
 
Pay down your Energy debt. Start building your Energy wealth portfolio.
 
Today.
 
(How will you +1 it, my Energized friend?!)
Oct 2, 2019
Today is, of course, October 2nd, 2019. 
 
Let’s hop in a time machine. 
 
Destination: 150 years ago: 1869. 
 
Cars don’t exist yet. Neither do phones. (Let alone a smartphone.) 
 
So… 
 
Imagine me sending this to you via telegram as we appreciate all the marvels of modern life.
 
150 years ago Today a great soul was born: Mohandas Gandhi.
 
Let’s celebrate by taking a moment to reflect on his iconic “Be the change you want to see” wisdom.
 
We’ll let another great soul who spent her life in India lead our reflection today.
 
As you may know, Mother Teresa once said: “If each of us would only sweep our own doorstep, the whole world would be clean.”
 
Yep.
 
That’s about right, eh?
 
What change do YOU want to see in the world?
 
Are you BEING it?
 
Awesome.
 
Here’s to sweeping our front porches as we do our little part in making the whole world clean.
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