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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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Now displaying: Category: +1
Sep 26, 2020
In our last +1, we hung out with some scientists and doctors who decided to test whether or not FOOD prescriptions would be more cost-effective (and health-boosting effective) than just normal prescriptions for medicine.
 
(We might have also talked about the green spray paint prescription our nutty gardener recommended we apply to our brown leaves!)
 
I promised to share some of the details on that research.
 
And…
 
My apologies for not honoring that commitment but I’m going to need to push that back to tomorrow.
 
Today I need to chat about what happened right after I drafted that last +1.
 
So…
 
I created that +1 during my AM1 Deep Work Time Block. 
 
I needed to find the Food Fix book—which I was pretty sure I gave to Alexandra so she could read. I headed out to the kitchen to ask her where it was. She and the kids were eating breakfast. We started chatting about what I was working on.
 
Then I paused and started explaining the idea to Emerson.
 
I said: “Hey buddy. Imagine we have a tree and the green leaves are turning brown. We’re not sure what’s going on, we just know something’s not quite right. So, we call in an expert gardener to see what he thinks we should do.”
 
He nods his head.
 
I continue: “So, this guy shows up, looks at the brown leaves then reaches into his bag and pulls out a can of green spray paint.”
 
Pause. Emerson’s eyes are widening.
 
“Then you know what he does? He paints the brown leaves green and tells you that should do the trick. Then he writes down the type of green spray paint we should get from Home Depot and tells us all we need to do is spray just a little bit on the leaves every day and we’ll be fine.”
 
Pause. Emerson is looking at me in disbelief.
 
Then I continue by asking: “What would you say to that guy?”
 
To which Emerson immediately replies with a laugh: “I’d tell him we want the tree to be ALIVE not DEAD!”
 
To which I laugh and say, “Right?” (Hah.)
 
He continues: “I mean, that might make it LOOK GOOD but it’s still not going to live.”
 
What could I say other than: “Exactly, buddy. Exactly.”
 
Then I asked him what he thinks would help. He thought taking care of the soil and watering it and giving good nutrients would help. I agreed.
 
Then we had a conversation about the parallel wisdom with our health and the importance of getting to the ROOT CAUSES of our ailments rather than prescribing proverbial spray paint.
 
And, well, that’s Today’s +1.
 
Root causes and childlike wisdom for the win!
 
If you feel so inspired, perhaps you can explain this to a 5 or 7 or 11 (or 16 or 21 or 35 or 52 or 70 year old).
 
And, most importantly, let’s put the Theory to Practice as we write ourselves some empowering, life-enhancing prescriptions.
 
TODAY.
Sep 22, 2020

Afternoon edition of our #1 post 6 hours of DEEP Work on the Handbook. We chat about some creative systems and do the quick Oura review.

Sep 21, 2020
In our last +1, we got our inner Freak on as we spent some time with Dav!d Rendall and learned to embrace constraints as we reminded ourselves to approach this whole game of life as Optimalists rather than Perfectionists—using our ideals as GUIDING STARS not distant shores.
 
We explored the value of constraints on a high level. 
 
I promised to talk about the idea in a little more detail in terms of choosing what we want to do with our lives AND in the day-to-day of actually making things happen.
 
So…
 
Dav!d kicks off the chapter on the power of limiting our options with a quote from Seth Godin who tells us: “You really can’t try to do everything, especially if you intend to be the best in the world.” 
 
Amen.
 
And, as I read this chapter I thought of chats I had back in the day with Steve Chandler when he and I worked 1-on-1. 
 
He loved Alan Watts’s wisdom that tennis is more fun with a court (constraints!) and Igor Stravinsky’s wisdom that “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision in the execution.”
 
As I searched the ol’ database of 600+ Notes on my Mac to find that Stravinsky quote, I found this parallel wisdom from Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist.
 
He tells us: “In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them. Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities.
 
The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying. The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself. It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom... The right constraints can lead to your very best work. My favorite example? Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.”
 
(btw: As I reread that, I thought of our Note on the brilliant biography Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel where we talk about those exact same constraints. Check it out!)
 
As I chat about in our Notes on Steal Like an Artist, I LOVE constraints. 
 
They are my friend (when I remember them). 
 
Obvious constraints I use creatively include: Each PhilosophersNote is SIX pages long. Not 3 or 8 or 12 or... SIX. 
 
The +1s are short and sweet not crazy long. (Except for the rare +11. lol) 
 
The Optimal Living 101 classes and Mastery Series sessions? They’re each 10 Ideas and around an hour. Not 3 or 7 or 14 or 22. TEN! (Hah.)
 
Today’s +1.
 
Back to YOU. 
 
What limitations can you impose on yourself? 
 
How can you CONSTRAIN your options more so you can enjoy your life more?
 
Remember the Paradox of Choice. And The Illusion of Choice.
 
Simplify. Go all in. On being your best.
 
TODAY.
Sep 17, 2020
In our last couple +1s, we’ve been chatting about Trevor Moawad’s wisdom on what he calls “neutral thinking.”
 
We started by hanging out with Russell Wilson en route to winning a Super Bowl. Then we visited the Johnson Ranch to discuss my relationship with our new chickens and their poop.
 
(Yes, I can’t get enough of those emojis…)
 
So…
 
The morning after that chat I had with Emerson about how to approach the chicken situation either negatively, positively, or neutrally, we were doing our family workout—which currently features me chasing the kids on their bikes as we have fun going around the 1/2-mile Trail-loop we created around our property. 
 
Only…
 
This morning, Emerson’s bike had a flat tire. 
 
He immediately started crying—super bummed he wouldn’t be able to ride his epic lime green (lol) bike around the Trail as planned.
 
So…
 
I cruised over and said, “Buddy! Your tire’s flat. That’s a bummer. I get it. And.. Remember that chat we had last night about neutral thinking?” 
 
Emerson: “Yah.”
 
Me: “Well…. Let’s get neutral! WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
 
He said, “To ride my bike.” 
 
I said, “Exactly. So what can we do to make that happen?” 
 
He said, “Get the bike pump and fill up the tire.” 
 
I said, “Exactly.” 
 
We cruised into the barn, found it. Pumped up the tire. The air surprisingly held. 
 
<- Boom. Done.
 
Tire was filled. He was off to the Trail races.
 
And, that’s Today’s +1.
 
Got any metaphorical flat tires in your life?
 
(Echo: Of course you do. You’re human!)
 
How are you reacting? 
 
Negatively? Positively? Neutrally?
 
Back to Trevor: “That’s neutral. Staying in the moment, giving each moment its own history, and reacting to events as they unfold. It takes away emotion and replaces it with behaviors. Instead of asking, ‘How do I feel?’ you should be asking yourself, ‘What do I do?’”
 
You can develop these skills if you’re willing to let go of a few things. Negative, cynical thinking doesn’t make you more realistic. It just makes you negative and cynical. Biased thinking doesn’t help you either. You need to steer clear of your feelings and make an honest assessment of each situation you face. Don’t worry about what you feel. Rely on what you know.”
 
Back to you.
 
NEUTRAL thinking. 
 
It works.
 
Try it.
 
TODAY.
Sep 16, 2020
In our last +1, we spent some more time with Trevor Moawad and explored some more wisdom from his great book, It Takes What It Takes.
 
As you may recall, we chatted about neutral thinking.
 
As Trevor says: “No matter where I work, the same truth keeps emerging. Neutral thinking is the key to unlocking a set of behaviors that can turn also-rans into champions and champions into legends.”
 
Today I want to bring that wisdom to life with a little personal example from the Johnson Ranch here outside Austin. 
 
So…
 
As I was reading the book, I took a break and explained this idea to Emerson. 
 
Here’s the example I used: Our chickens. And their poop. 
 
Quick context: As we’ve discussed, we just moved to the country. We got some chickens because we thought they’d be awesome. They are. The kids love them, etc. 
 
And... 
 
Those gals (and guy) sure know how to poop! And, they seem to especially love to do their work under our beautiful back patio where I often meditate in the morning as the sun’s rising.
 
Let’s just say that the meditation scene is slightly less idyllic with the chicken poop wafting up. (Hah.)
 
So…
 
Back to the book.
 
I told Emerson that the guy who wrote the book had a dad who was really into all this stuff and taught him a bunch when he was a kid. I smiled and rubbed his awesome little head as I imagined what HE might have to say in a few decades.
 
Then we talked about the difference between negative thinking, positive thinking and neutral thinking.
 
I gave him an example of my own negative thinking as it related to those chickens and their poop. (Note: That’s always one of the best ways to deliver a message. Start with our own shortcomings—don’t start with someone else’s!)
 
My negative thinking went something like this: “Those chickens!!! Their poop STINKS!! Why do they need to hang out under the porch and then poop where they hang out? I think we might want to find them a new home.”
 
(He might have heard me say something along those lines more than once in my less-enlightened moments, so the example was quickly understood. lol)
 
Then I told him that the “positive” thinking would go something like this: “It’s not so bad and the chickens are so great.”
 
He immediately knew that that simply wasn’t honest and true and wouldn’t be the optimal approach.
 
Then I told him that neither of those approaches was as effective as NEUTRAL thinking.
 
Neutral thinking would go something like this: “The chickens are pooping under the patio. It stinks. The kids love them and we need a better solution. So, let’s limit their access to that location and figure out a poop control protocol. Next step: Order some chicken wire for the bottom of the patio and install it.”
 
<- Boom. Done. 
 
Emerson got it immediately. 
 
And, he still has his chickens. 
 
Today’s +1.
 
Got any chicken poop in your life? 
 
If you feel so inspired, let’s run it through a quick analysis.
 
What’s the negative thinking you might be running on it?
 
How about the positive thinking?
 
And what about the neutral thinking?
 
All of which leads us back to Trevor’s dad. You know what he taught him as a kid?
 
To get rid of the “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
 
Let’s do that.
 
TODAY.
 
(And, please wish me luck with the chickens. lol)
Sep 11, 2020
Scott Barry Kaufman is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists.
 
We featured one of his earlier books called Wired to Create. So, when a bunch of our Optimizers recommended his new book called Transcend I was eager to get it. (Thank you!! Keep ‘em coming, please!)
 
It’s FANTASTIC.
 
In short, it’s an update on Abraham Maslow’s thinking—moving us beyond self-actualizing into the ULTIMATE realm of “transcending” ourselves in service to the world. Or, as Scott puts it in the sub-title to the book: “The New Science of Self-Actualization.”
 
It’s an important, wise book. If you’re into the science of Optimizing and Actualizing, I think you’ll love it as much as I did. Check out the Notes, get it, etc.
 
So…
 
I imagine we’ll talk about a number of Big Ideas from that book. Today I want to chat about one in particular. 
 
Have you ever heard of “The Jonah Complex”? I hadn’t before Scott introduced me to it. 
 
We meet Jonah in the Old Testament. God has big plans for him. 
 
But…
 
Jonah isn’t such a big fan of those big plans. 
 
So…
 
He tries to hide from God and avoid his destiny. 
 
Of course, important detail to the story: You can’t hide from God. (Hah!) 
 
So, eventually, Jonah accepts his fate and does what he’s here’s to do. 
 
Scott talks about this in a chapter on “Self-Esteem” in which he walks us through a nuanced discussion about what healthy ambition (and pride) looks like vis-a-vis the less healthy expression of ambition and pride that shows up in what psychologists call "vulnerable” and “grandiose narcissism.”
 
We’ll save that important, nuanced discussion for another time.
 
For now, here’s how Scott frames it in Transcend: “Maslow argued that in order to avoid punishment from society, the person ‘becomes humble, ingratiating, appeasing, even masochistic. In short, due to fear of punishment for being superior, she becomes inferior and throws away some of her possibilities for humanness. For the sake of safety and security, she cripples and stunts herself. . . . That is, she is evading the task for which she was born, so to speak. She is evading her destiny.’ Maslow refers to this as the ‘Jonah Complex,’ a phenomenon described by the historian Frank Manuel. This phrase is based on the biblical tale of Jonah who, out of fear, tries to run from God’s prophecy, but he can find no place to hide. Finally, accepting his fate, he does what he is called to do.”
 
He continues by saying: “So let me state this as clearly as possible: you may not be entitled to shine, but you have a right to shine, because you are a worthy human being. Changing your self-limiting narratives about your worthiness, asserting needs in a healthy way, overcoming your avoidance of fearful experiences, and taking responsibility for your behaviors—these actions strengthen and stabilize the vulnerable self. The great irony is that the less you focus on whether you are worthy and competent, and take that as a given, the greater the chances you will consistently accept your inherent worth.”
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Are you being called by God or whatever you call that power that’s bigger than you?
 
If yes, are you answering the call?
 
If not, are you quieting down long enough to hear that quiet voice?
 
As you’ve probably picked up by now, I believe we are ALL being called to shine.
 
So…
 
Let’s humbly yet powerfully answer that call as we overcome our avoidance of fearful experiences, take responsibility for our behaviors and take it as a given that we are worthy. 
 
Then go give our families, communities, and the world all we’ve got. 
 
When?
 
How about TODAY.
Sep 9, 2020

William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. He’s also a fantastic (and prolific) writer. And… Unlike many of his academic, professor-of-philosophy peers, he is a practicing Stoic philosopher. In the words of Donald Robertson (another Stoic author and practitioner; see The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), he is both a librarian AND a warrior of the mind. We featured another one of Professor Irvine’s great books on Stoicism called A Guide to the Good Life. I enjoyed that one quite a bit but I REALLY (!) enjoyed this one. Like, jumbo loved it. In fact, I’m going to put this one right at the top of our growing collection of books on Stoicism—along with the must-read classics by Aurelius (Meditations), Seneca (Letters from a Stoic, On the Shortness of Life), and Epictetus (Discourses, Enchiridion) plus the modern classics like Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic. If you’re looking for “A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient,” I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Sep 6, 2020
Not too long ago, I mentioned the virtual Optimize Local Zoom group I joined. 
 
It was such an epic hangout. 
 
I’m still beaming from the download of Love (and Wisdom + Self-Mastery + Courage + …). 
 
Seriously. It VERY MUCH reminded me of the graduation weekend where I got to hang out with 500+ of our inaugural Optimize Coaches—which will always be a highlight of my life. 
 
There’s just something magical about getting together with people who share your values and are playing the same game with the same intense commitment to play it well. 
 
And, of course, as we’ve discussed many (!) times, the fastest way to Optimize your life ISN’T the Wisdom side of things per se. It’s the COMMUNITY side of things. Join a Community with super-high standards and BOOM!—the best you is more likely to join the party.
 
With COVID-19 taking over the world and creating the need for social distancing, we’ve pressed pause on our offline Optimize Local initiative. But… And I have goosebumps as I type this, we WILL be leaning back into that when the time is right. (I still can’t believe we had Optimizers from over 75 countries and 750 cities around the world who raised their hands to get involved.)
 
For now, you can join one of those virtual Optimize Zoom meetups by cruising over here.
 
But…
 
That’s not quite the point of this +1.
 
Today I want to chat about one of the little things that came up in our chat.
 
One of our beloved Coaches shared how her fundamentals slipped a bit when COVID hit and she felt it. Then her Optimize Buddy challenged her to get her step count back up. So, she re-started her morning walk-hikes. And it changed her life.
 
Then she wound up walking more and more and pretty soon she was, in her Optimize Buddy’s words, kicking his butt—and he loved it!
 
I can’t remember the exact number of steps she said she was getting but I do remember the fact that she shared a WEEKLY stat. I was struck by the fact that you could have fun measuring your steps by both the DAY and the WEEK.
 
Of course, it’s obvious when I type that out but I always thought of my 10,000+ steps per day and never really thought about it on a weekly basis other than looking at the average daily count over the last week that my Suunto watch shares with me.
 
So…
 
10,000 is our “go crush this!” target for our Coaches—which of course, is 70,000 steps/week. 
 
But, what’s a target a little beyond that?
 
I thought: 100,000 steps per week would be a pretty cool goal.
 
Then I wondered: What’s 100,000 divided by 7? 
 
Answer: 14,285.7
 
Suunto tells me that my current 7-day average number of steps is 18,794—which is a) pretty ridiculous (lol) and b) a reflection of just how much I love walking on our new Trail multiple times per day—it’s the PERFECT oscillating reboot.
 
So…
 
100,000.
 
Isn’t that a beautiful, round number?
 
Wanna go to the next level with your step count and movement throughout the day and join me?!
 
No pressure (seriously) as I know we all have different constraints in our realities and different things that fire us up.
 
AND…
 
Let’s remember this wisdom from Kelly McGonigal’s The Joy of Movement and make sure we’re on the right side of these stats: 
 
“In the United States, daily physical activity—as captured by an accelerometer—is correlated with a sense of purpose in life. Real-time tracking also shows that people are happier during moments when they are physically active than when they are sedentary. And on days when people are more active than their usual, they report greater satisfaction with their lives.
 
Other experiments in the U.S. and UK have forced moderately active adults to become sedentary for a period of time, only to watch their well-being wither. Regular exercisers who replace physical activity with a sedentary activity for two weeks become more anxious, tired, and hostile. When adults are randomly assigned to reduce their daily step count, 88 percent become more depressed. Within one week of becoming more sedentary, they report a 31 percent decline in life satisfaction. The average daily step count required to induce feelings of anxiety and depression and decrease satisfaction with life is 5,649. The typical American takes 4,774 steps per day. Across the globe, the average is 4,961.”
 
Here’s to the Wisdom of knowing that movement matters and the Self-Mastery to go out and practice our philosophy when it matters most… 
 
TODAY.
Sep 6, 2020

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Sep 1, 2020
In our last +1, we chatted about the fact that your food label might be lying to you by stuffing a few variations of cancer candy (aka sugar) into your jam so “SUGAR” doesn’t make its way to the top slot. 
 
(Which is one of the reasons you and your Loved ones might be unknowingly consuming A LOT more sugar than you think and, unfortunately, suffering the SIGNIFICANT consequences.)
 
Today I want to chat about some more wisdom from Mark Hyman’s great book Food Fix. In our next +1, we’ll focus on his #1 tip for Optimizing your personal health AND a powerful way to collectively pull a lever on systemic change.
 
But, first, talk about the sugar = cancer candy theme for another moment.
 
This is a BIG deal and something we want to REALLY get. 
 
So…
 
Let’s go back to Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep again. 
 
Quick note: Tom is a super-conservative scientist at Gallup. He also has a “rare and catastrophic genetic mutation” that makes him vulnerable to cancer so he’s been battling multiple cancers ALL his life—which has forced him to study the subject in depth.
 
Here’s what he tells us: “Sugar is a toxin. It fuels diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. At the current dose we consume, more than 150 pounds per person every year, sugar and its derivatives kill more people than cocaine, heroin, or any other controlled substance around.
 
One report aptly describes sugar as ‘candy for cancer cells.’ It accelerates aging and inflammation in the body and subsequently fuels tumor growth. It is now clear that if you lower your sugar intake, you reduce your odds of developing cancer.”
 
So, yah.
 
Reduce your intake of sugar and reduce your odds of developing cancer. It’s really not that complicated. 
 
Only…
 
You know how some less-than-virtuous executives thought that it was a good idea to confuse us with misleading food labels so we didn’t realize SUGAR was the primary ingredient in our jam?
 
Well…
 
Hate to break the news to you but they’ve ALSO been paying some of their friends to do some junk science to help them sell their junk food.
 
Yep.
 
Researchers are paid to make us think that sugar isn’t THAT bad for us. 
 
Did you know that the food industry spends more than $12 BILLION a year funding nutrition studies while the National Institute of Health spends only $1 billion?
 
Yep. 
 
(Pause and reflect on that stat for a moment. The food industry spends more than $12 BILLION a year funding nutrition studies while the National Institute of Health spends only $1 billion.)
 
And, not surprisingly, as Mark says, Studies funded by the food industry are eight to fifty times more likely to find a positive outcome for their products.”
 
He tells us that all this “junk science” winds up polluting and diluting independent research, and confusing policy makers, the public, and even most doctors and nutritionists.”
 
We’ll leave it at that for Today before this becomes a +33.
 
SUGAR.
 
IT DOES NOT DO A BODY GOOD.
 
Period.
 
Got any sugar-laden, ultraprocessed food you might want to throw out and quit buying?
 
Is TODAY a good day to remove the Trigger and take the next step in Optimizing?
 
-1 -1 -1 for the +1 +1 +1 win!!!
Aug 27, 2020
After drafting that last +1, I hit my 90-minute mark for my second Deep Work Time Block of the day, which, of course, triggered one of my keystone algorithms.
 
“After 90-minutes of Deep Work, I take a 15-20 minute break.”
 
So…
 
I grabbed a little bite to eat and went on a short walk around our property. As I was walking, I contemplated the whole idea of “sin” and missing the mark in our lives.
 
Joseph Campbell (who was also raised Catholic) came to mind. I just love his wisdom on the subject. We featured it in a +1 called “Father, Bless Me.”
 
As you may recall, Campbell tells us: “Ramakrishna once said that if all you think of are your sins, then you are a sinner. And when I read that, I thought of my boyhood, going to confession on Saturdays, meditating on all the little sins that I had committed during the week. Now I think one should go and say, ‘Bless me, Father, for I have been great, these are the good things I have done this week.’ Identify your notion of yourself with the positive, rather than with the negative.” 
 
backhand index pointing up That’s awesome.
 
Then, my thoughts were interrupted as a deer bounded away from me. She (or was it he?) paused about 50 feet away, stared at me as I stared back for an extended moment. Then she continued on her way. 
 
backhand index pointing up That’s awesome.
 
Then my mind floated to Nathaniel Branden.
 
I couldn’t remember the precise details of his thoughts on the subject, but I remembered the essence. I remembered he once said something about the fact that there’s something worse than "sinning” or missing the target. 
 
You know what that might be?
 
 
What’s your guess? What’s WORSE than missing the mark?
 
 
I remember that he said NOT HAVING high standards in the first place was, arguably, considerably WORSE than having them but failing to meet them.
 
I reflected on that, finished my walk and came straight to my computer for a quick search to find the precise words he used and to create this +1.
 
Enter: Mac search: “Nathaniel Branden.”
 
Result: A couple Notes: The Art of Living Consciously and The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.
 
I opened The Art of Living Consciously first. That’s an AWESOME book and Note but nope. Not there.
 
So, I opened The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.
 
Aha!! There it is. 
 
It’s the sixth and final pillar: Integrity.
 
Here’s how Nathaniel puts it: “Integrity is the integration of ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs—and behavior. When our behavior is congruent with our professed values, when ideals and practice match up, we have integrity.
 
Observe that before the issue of integrity can even be raised we need principles of behavior—moral convictions about what is and is not appropriate—judgments about right and wrong action. If we do not yet hold standards, we are on too low a developmental rung even to be accused of hypocrisy. In such a case, our problems are too severe to be described merely as lack of integrity.”
 
Yep.
 
That’s exactly right.
 
And…
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Are YOU living in integrity with your ideals, convictions, standards, and beliefs?
 
And…
 
Remember: That presupposes we HAVE a clear sense of standards. 
 
So…
 
What are yours?
 
Let’s know them. And, let’s live them. 
 
As we solidify our intense trust in ourselves by getting better and better at hitting the mark.
 
TODAY.
Aug 22, 2020
As we’ve discussed countless times, I start my days with at least a minute or three of journaling. 
 
These days it’s a super-quick sketch of our Optimize Virtue Compass then a quick trip through the Big 3 x 2 +1. 
 
So…
 
The other day I sat down to begin my Deep Work session with the quick sketch of our compass. 
 
And… 
 
You know what I saw right after I wrote down the four cardinal virtues of Wisdom + Self-Mastery + Courage + Love?
 
A cardinal. 
 
Hah! 
 
I kid you not.
 
I’m sitting there at my desk in my new outdoor office and glance up from my journaling (right after writing those cardinal virtues!) to see a beautiful red cardinal perch itself on the limb of a tree a couple dozen feet away.
 
And, I thought to myself: Thank you, Optimizing gods. 
 
Then it became official. 
 
I now have a new favorite bird: The cardinal.
 
Which, of course, led me to Google.
 
Google: “Why are cardinals the bird called cardinals?” (Slightly awkward phrasing but it got the job done. Thank you, Google.)
 
Enter, our first result: “Northern cardinals are named for the males' brilliant red plumage, which reminded European settlers of the rich red vestments of Catholic cardinals in the church hierarchy. The bird's crest is also reminiscent of the headgear of some higher religious officials.”
 
Fascinating. 
 
Then it was time for a trip to our friendly dictionary for Today’s etymological lesson.
 
The Dictionary tells us that the noun form of cardinal can refer to either our friendly bird or Catholic dignitaries. 
 
The adjective form means “of the greatest importance; fundamental.” As in: “The four cardinal virtues are worth journaling every morning to remind ourselves of the game we’re playing and how to play it well."
 
Now for the ancient origins of the word.
 
Let’s see…
 
Here it is: Back in the day when Latin was all the rage, the word cardo (from which we get cardinal) meant “hinge.” As in, the hinge of a door.
 
Makes sense.
 
Those cardinal virtues?
 
They’re the hinges on which the door to our Optimus-best self opens. 
 
Let’s push that door open.
 
TODAY.
Aug 17, 2020
In our last +1, we Optimized our oral posture.
 
Bet you didn’t think we’d be talking about that when you signed up for Optimize! (Hah.)
 
I know I didn’t but here we are!
 
Recall: We want to turn our S-shaped bodies into a J-shape and then close our lips and gently place our tongues up toward the front of the roof of our mouths.
 
As it turns out, my favorite breathing expert, Patrick McKeown, wrote an awesome kid’s book in which he gives us a name for that spot. 
 
He calls it “The Magic Spot.”
 
So…
 
Teaching ourselves AND our kids how to breathe properly is SUPER important. (As in: WAY more important than we may realize.)
 
Patrick’s book is called Always Breathe Correctly. I highly recommend it. 
 
The book features a wizard who teaches kids how to breathe. 
 
Of course, he teaches us that the nose is for breathing and the mouth is for eating while teaching us to breathe gently into our bellies, etc.
 
And… 
 
He teaches us how to find that “Magic Spot”— with our tongues gently touching the area on the roof of our mouth right before our front teeth. When we hit that spot, we automagically close our lips and breathe through our nose.
 
Which is why if I ever see Emerson with a gaping mouth, I’ll say, “Magic spot, buddy!” 
 
He’ll immediately smile, close his lips, and proudly breathe through his nose as I give him a thumbs up and a quick sign-language “Love you, buddy!”
 
So…
 
As you go through the day Today, if you ever happen to find yourself with a mouth gaping open and air going in through the wrong hole, perhaps you can playfully hear me say to you:
 
“Magic spot, buddy!”
 
Then we’ll smile together and celebrate our little win as we get our shine on.
 
Together.
 
One breath at a time.
 
TODAY.
Aug 7, 2020
In our last +1, we got an inspiring (Hoosiers-inspired) pep talk from Admiral McRaven right before engaging in our next most important mission.
 
I mentioned the fact that I had a chat with an Olympic swim coach shortly after reading that passage from McRaven. He and I chatted about that wisdom in the context of measuring the length of the pool, the number of inches the starting block is off the water. Etc. Etc.
 
We also talked about flipping the switch and striking an Amy Cuddy-inspired power pose—which can literally change our underlying physiology by increasing our testosterone and decreasing our cortisol while priming us to give the world all we’ve got.
 
Then I referenced a passage from Cuddy’s great book Presence in which she actually talks about an Olympic swim coach who used that very technique.
 
Here’s the passage: “In the first month after my TED talk posted, I heard from an Olympic swimming coach who explained how he’d been using a power posing-type strategy—with great success—for years: encouraging some of his swimmers, beginning on the morning of the race, to physically behave as if they’d won their events. Swimmers, as he pointed out, are notorious for their use of dominant body language in the moments before races, not only to signal their power to their competitors but also to loosen their muscles and pump themselves up. Sometimes they will literally pound their chests, like gorillas. But the approach this coach used—encouraging swimmers to adopt ‘alpha’ nonverbal postures from the minute they wake up on race days—was most helpful to swimmers who’d been thrown off by a poor performance or who were feeling a wave of insecurity and self-doubt.”
 
I love that. 
 
Imagine a swimmer on the morning of her event acting as if she’d already won (and getting the benefit of all that extra power).
 
As Cuddy tells us: We need to fake it until we become it. Not to manipulate others and gain power over them but to slightly trick ourselves for the moment so we can gain personal power to express the best, boldest, most authentic version of ourselves.
 
Love it. Let’s do it. Pom poms. Rah rah. Etc. 
 
And…
 
I say: Why limit it to the day of a swimming event?
 
How does the best, boldest, most authentic version of you think and breathe and walk and talk? 
 
Let’s bring that wonderfully bold version of ourselves to our lives all day ever day.
 
Especially: TODAY!
Aug 6, 2020

This morning I prepared for my film session on Focusing for our Mastery Series that is the core part of our 300-day Optimize Coach program. Here’s a super-quick look at some core ideas from that class. Hope you find it helpful!!! Here’s to having an awesome day, one FOCUSED (!) moment at a time!!

Remember: Soul Force = T x (E x F x W.I.N.)^C

Aug 2, 2020
A couple +1s ago we spent some time pulling some weeds together as we created some new habits.
 
How? 
 
By STARTING SMALL and MAKING IT EASY!
 
(Am I repeating myself AND yelling?! Lol. Yes and Yes.)
 
Today I want to spend a little more time on our new property. We’re going to talk about my new weed whacker and the little running Trail Emerson and I created. 
 
First, a confession. 
 
I’d never used a weed whacker before we arrived at our new place out here in the country. (Note: I did mow the lawn (and our elderly neighbor’s lawn) every weekend growing up but I never got promoted to the weed whacker.)
 
And…
 
Just so you know: I’ve spent more time at Home Depot over the last few weeks than I had in my entire life. (Hah.) It’s been awesome.
 
New Identity: Rancher Bri! 
 
Yeehah!
 
So… 
 
One of the first things I did after we arrived? 
 
I created a little running Trail around the perimeter of our property. It’s a heavenly little loop that just so happens to be almost exactly a third of a mile. (Of course, I think in threes so running a mile was a good opportunity to think of The Big 3.)
 
Then Nama visited and suggested we create another part of the Trail at the other side of the property. I mapped it out and saw how it would perfectly connect with our existing loop. Then, after a nice day of Deep Work, I put on my Rancher Bri outfit and got to work.
 
And that’s when I started thinking about neuroplasticity.
 
Quick context: After going through my fair share of weed-whacker re-charges (and re-strings), I’m becoming a little more adept at this whole Trail-creation process.
 
What I learned is that it’s best to start with a simple little narrow strip that’s about a weed-whacker wide to kinda draw a basic directional line of where you want the Trail to go. 
 
Once I get that, I go a little wider. 
 
Then I go a little wider. 
 
Then I’ll rake it out to see what I missed.
 
Then I go back over it and make it just the right width.
 
And, of course, I’m trimming some branches back that might be hanging in the way and all that jazz as I go.
 
Then…
 
Voila. 
 
We have a v1 Trail.
 
Then, the more we go down that path, the more awesome it gets.
 
As it turns out, that’s actually a pretty good metaphor for how our brains wire (and rewire) themselves as we create new behaviors. 
 
I think it was in The Brain That Changes Itself (an amazing book that, for some reason, I haven’t done a Note on yet) that I was introduced to another, similar metaphor. 
 
Enter: Google search for “The Brain That Changes Itself sled metaphor.”
 
Yep.
 
In that great old-school book on neuroplasticity, Norman Doidge quotes Alvaro Pascual-Leone who tells us about the fact that when you go sledding on a freshly-snowed-on mountain, you tend to create a little groove that you tend to follow—both on the way up and the way down. By the end of the day after a bunch of trips up and down, you’re MUCH more likely to follow the grooved pattern.
 
(And, if you want to change those patterns, you're going to need to figure out how to block the old pathways and create some new ones!)
 
That’s what I was thinking about as I weed-whacked the extra .2 miles to our Trail—extending it to a nice .5 mile loop. (Those two laps for a mile make me think of having Strength for 2! Yes. I always think in Optimize-eze. lol)
 
So…
 
Today’s +1.
 
What Habit-Trails are you trying to create in your life?
 
Let’s have a basic MAP of where we’d like to go, be willing to start small (Tiny!) and lay the path for new behaviors as we widen those neural pathways with each pass through.
 
Weed whackers optional. 
 
Oh! 
 
Don’t forget. 
 
When you’re whacking away (on your new habits) in tall grass in a sub-tropical climate, the bug bites and scratches are to be expected.
 
Yeehah!
 
Let’s do this.
 
Today.
Jul 23, 2020
Today we’re going to revisit BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Lab at Stanford. 
 
We’ve already talked about his equation: B = MAP. (Recall: Behavior happens when Motivation & Ability & Prompt converge at the same moment.”)
 
Professor Fogg also has some ABCs to help us master the process of Optimizing our behavior: Anchor + Behavior + Celebration.
 
Here’s how he describes the anatomy of Tiny Habits: 
 
1. ANCHOR MOMENT
An existing routine (like brushing your teeth) or an event that happens (like a phone ringing). The Anchor Moment reminds you to do the new Tiny Behavior.
 
2. NEW TINY BEHAVIOR
A simple version of the new habit you want, such as flossing one tooth or doing two push-ups. You do the Tiny Behavior immediately after the Anchor Moment.
 
3. INSTANT CELEBRATION
Something you do to create positive emotions, such as saying, ‘I did a good job!’ You celebrate immediately after doing the new Tiny Behavior.”
 
Want to install a habit? 
 
(Yah? Which one? Seriously. Pick one now and let’s work on it together…)
 
Know your ABCs: Anchor + Behavior + Celebration.
 
What’s the existing routine that can serve as your Prompt? (Note: James Clear and Charles Duhigg call our “Prompt” a “cue” in Atomic Habits and The Power of Habit, respectively.)
 
That “existing routine” is what BJ calls an ANCHOR. He tells us that “anchoring” our new behavior to something we ALREADY do is a really powerful way to Optimize the Behavior-changing process.
 
Now that you’ve got your Anchor, it’s time for the new behavior.
 
NOTE: We want that Behavior to be TINY. As in, CRAZY tiny.
 
One of the examples BJ uses is that after (key anchor word: “after”) he went pee while working from home, he’d do two push-ups. That’s it. TWO. Not twenty. TWO.
 
Now that we’ve got our Anchor and our (tiny!!) Behavior, it’s time to Celebrate.
 
How? 
 
IMMEDIATELY and INTENSELY. 
 
We’ll talk about this more soon. For now, give yourself a little fist pump with a “YES!!! That’s like me!” (Or whatever it is you do when you celebrate something awesome.)
 
Anchor + Behavior + Celebration.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
If you feel so inspired, MAP out the behavior you’d like to install. 
 
Then ABC it.
 
Let’s change our lives one Tiny little Habit at a time. 
 
TODAY.
 
+1. +1. +1.
 
P.S. If you feel REALLY inspired, sing it with me: Now I know my ABCs. Next time won’t you sing with me? 
Jul 18, 2020
Admiral William H. McRaven is a Retired U.S. Navy SEAL who served for thirty-seven years and commanded at every level.
 
As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. (During this time, he oversaw the covert mission that killed Osama bin Laden.)
 
In 2014, he gave the commencement address to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. Millions of people wound up watching his speech on ten lessons he learned from his Navy SEAL training. (You can watch it on YouTube here.)
 
He wrote a great little book expanding on those ten lessons. It’s named after the first lesson: Make Your Bed. (Joining 5,000+ 5-star Amazon reviewers, I HIGHLY recommend it. Get a copy here.)
 
We’ll talk about why that’s his #1 tip soon.
 
Today we’re going to talk about lesson #4: “Life’s Not Fair—Drive On!” in which we get introduced to the SEAL version of a sugar cookie. 
 
First, the wisdom. 
 
McRaven tells us: “It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness: Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and—Moki Martin.
 
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!” 
 
So…
 
Each chapter-lesson features some wisdom gained from McRaven’s SEAL training along with some stories to bring the point home.
 
This lesson features a story about him becoming a sugar cookie.
 
In case you don’t know what a SEAL sugar cookie recipe looks like, it goes something like this: Run into the pounding surf wearing your boots and gear. Get yourself soaking wet from head to toe. Then roll in the sand until every inch of your body is covered in sand. Then go on with your day cold, wet and sandy as you enjoy that sugar cookie.
 
McRaven tells us about a time when he was forced to do a sugar cookie. He couldn’t figure out what standard he failed to meet that resulted in the reprimand.
 
Here’s the dialogue with his instructor:
 
“‘Mr. Mac, do you have any idea why you are a sugar cookie this morning?’ Martin said in a very calm but questioning manner.’
 
“‘No, Instructor Martin,’ I dutifully responded.
 
‘Because, Mr. Mac, life isn’t fair and the sooner you learn that the better off you will be.’”
 
Imagine that. 
 
You do everything JUST right.
 
Bed’s made perfectly. Uniform is nice and crisp. 
 
You’ve rocked all your fundies and executed your business (or energy or relationship) strategy perfectly.
 
And, even after doing your best... 
 
You FAIL. 
 
Then what? 
 
Then we remind ourselves of the fact (!) that life’s not fair as we “stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!” 
 
btw: McRaven’s instructor in that story was a guy named Moki Martin. He was the quintessential super-fit, perfect specimen of a SEAL. Then he got in an accident while training for a triathlon. Paralyzed from the legs down. “For the past thirty-five years, Moki has been in a wheelchair. In all those years, I never once heard him complain about his misfortune in life. Never once did I hear him ask, “Why me?’ Never once did he display an ounce of pity for himself.”
 
Here’s to embracing the inevitable sugar cookies life serves up as we, one more time: “stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!” 
Jul 13, 2020
Today we’re going to go back to Jim Kwik and his great book Limitless one more time.
 
One of the key themes of the book is that we all have a unique blend of background and passions and skills.
 
He echoes the wisdom we talked about in a +1 back in the day featuring wisdom from Ken Robinson in which Ken tells us that the right question isn’t “Are you intelligent?” but… “HOW are you intelligent?
 
Jim tells us that we’re all unique and that our challenge is to discover our special combination of awesome that makes us shine.
 
Then he quotes Albert Einstein who once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.”
 
And that’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s quit asking ourselves whether or not we’re intelligent.
 
OF COURSE YOU ARE.
 
(And so are your kids and colleagues and, well, everyone else you’ll interact with Today.)
 
The question is: HOW are you intelligent?
 
Seriously.
 
How are you intelligent?!
 
Think about ONE thing you do REALLY well. Perhaps SO WELL that you take it for granted.
 
Let’s take that gift AS granted and go double down on it.
 
T O D A Y.
Jul 8, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that, if we could figure out how to take 30 EXPONENTIAL steps, we’d be able to hop in a rocket and go around the Earth two DOZEN times.
 
Rather than get 90 feet down the street, we’d get a few BILLION steps further in our joyful jaunt around the Earth.
 
That’s crazy.
 
And, well, that’s the power of aggregating and compounding seemingly small changes that can have huge impacts on our lives as we watch the magic exponentially grow.
 
I LOVE all the metaphors we can use to think about the power of just showing up again and again and again.
 
We’ve talked about the doubling penny, collecting coins, melting ice cubes, hitting the rock, figuring out combination locks, and rocking marginal gains.
 
Obviously, the metaphors are just metaphors but they all make the same primary point: It’s all about CONSISTENCY.
 
We need to show up again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and …
 
BOOM! 
 
Magic.
 
Which is why I was so fired up to make a little distinction while I was preparing for our Mastery Series session on Work in our Module on Carpe Diem.
 
The basic theme of the class is how to create “Genius Work vs. Mediocre Work.”
 
(I’ll save the details on that distinction for another +1.)
 
As I was preparing for the class, I knew I was going to focus on the equation we’ve been talking about lately:
 
Astonishing Work = Time x (Energy x Focus x What’s Important Now)
 
or: T x (E x F x W.I.N.)
 
Then I had a wonderful epiphany.
 
I added a little C right at the end of that equation.
 
Like so: T x (E x F x W.I.N.)c
 
A choir of angels began to sing as I thought through the implications of the new, Optimized equation: Genius Work = Time x (Energy x Focus x What’s Important Now)Consistency
 
I quickly made some notes.
 
If your Energy is a 100 and your Focus is a 100 and you’re working on a 100-Level Important thing you’d get 1 million points of awesome. 
 
That’s 1,000 (!) times more awesome than if your Energy, Focus and WIN was at a 10.
 
But…
 
Get this.
 
If we believe CONSISTENCY is an exponential force multiplier, then we’d be better off plodding along at the lower numbers but at least doing so consistently.
 
Get this.
 
Although (100 x 100 x 100) is 1,000,000 points of awesome, we’ve gotta know that if we get a ZERO in the consistency score then (100 x 100 x 100)0 = ZERO.
 
Whereas, although (10 x 10 x 10) is only 1,000 points of awesome, we’ve gotta know that if we get a ONE HUNDRED in the consistency score then (10 x 10 x 10)100 = a HUGE number. It almost breaks the calculator coming in at 1e+300. ← That’s a 1 followed by THREE HUNDRED Zeros.
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
 
Now, here’s the kicker.
 
What do you think would happen if we were able to get ALL of our variables up to a 100?
 
Our Energy is a 100.
Our Focus is a 100.
Our W.I.N. is a 100.
 
AND…
 
Our Consistency is a 100.
 
What’s 1,000,000 to the power of 100?
 
Can you guess?
 
 
Answer: It’s INFINITY.
 
And, that’s Today’s +1.
 
Want to have fun seeing just how Limitless you can go?
 
Get your Energy Optimized. Get your Focus Optimized. Get your ability to focus on What’s Important Now Optimized.
 
And then go do it CONSISTENTLY.
 
Starting Today.
 
+100 +100 +100 to the 100th power.
Jul 3, 2020
Continuing our brief foray through Jim Qwik’s brain and book, let’s talk about the power of getting into Flow.
 
Jim tells us that being able to flip the switch and drop into a powerful Flow state is one of the keys to tapping into our (Limitless!!) superpowers.
 
He quotes Steven Kotler in The Rise of Superman to make his point.
 
Here’s how Steven puts it: “To put it another way: flow is the telephone booth where Clark Kent changes clothes, the place from where Superman emerges.”
 
I LOVE that image of Clark Kent stepping into the phone booth of Flow and coming out as Superman.
 
Reminds me of this +1 on Clark Kent flipping the switch and striking a power pose to get his Superman on.
 
And…
 
As I read this passage (and chapter from Limitless), I was reminded of our recent +1 on our new Astonishing Work Equation
 
Recall, if we want to REALLY crush it, we’d be wise to focus on three variables: 
 
Astonishing Quality Work = Time x (Energy x Focus x W.I.N.)
 
I made the point that, math wise, if your Energy is at a 10 and your Focus is at a 10 and you’re working on the 10 What’s Important Now task, you can work ONE hour and still get a 1,000 on the Astonishing Quality Work scale.
 
But…
 
If your Energy is at a 1 and your Focus is at a 1 and you’re working on a 1-level What’s Important Now task, you’d have to work 1,000 (!) hours to match your Astonishing Quality Work score.
 
BUT…
 
You know what? That’s actually not even accurate.
 
The reality is, when we’re REALLY plugged in, we can create at levels that are simply IMPOSSIBLE to create at in any non-awesome state.
 
As such, I think we should swap out our 1 to 10 scale for a 1 to 100 to make the point even more powerfully.
 
So…
 
On a 1 to 100 scale, if your Energy is at a 100 and your Focus is at a 100 and you’re working on the 100 What’s Important Now task, you can work an hour and get 1 MILLION Astonishing Work points.
 
Drop your Energy to a 10 and your Focus to a 10 and your W.I.N. to a 10 and your 1,000 is 1/1000th of what you could have done.
 
Yep.
 
That’s about right.
 
Today’s +1.
 
How’s your SuperFlow Math looking these days?
 
What’s working Energy + Focus + W.I.N.-wise?
 
What needs some work?
 
And what can will you do to Optimize?!
 
Here’s to stepping into the telephone booth of Flow and tapping into our Superpowers.
 
TODAY!!!!
Jun 28, 2020
In our last +1, we had some fun playing with Cal Newport’s Deep Work equation. We modified it from: 
  • High Quality Work Produced = Time Spent x Intensity of Focus
to:
  • High Quality Work Produced = Time Spent x Quality of Energy x Intensity of Focus
The basic idea: You can get a TON of high quality work produced when you Focus your best Energy.
 
Today I want to add one more variable to our equation and then do some quick math to bring the point home.
 
Let’s go back to that last sentence and drop in another variable.
 
The basic idea: You can get a TON of high quality work produced when you Focus your best Energy on WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT NOW.
 
Think about it.
 
If we have GREAT Energy and we focus that like a laser beam on what’s truly most important right now? 
 
And then we write some algorithms to make THAT our default so we’re accreting more and more value day in and day out?
 
We can create at an astonishing level. 
 
Enter the latest edition of our equation:
  • Astonishing Productivity = Time Spent x (Quality of Energy x Intensity of Focus x W.I.N.!)
Now, let’s do some math to bring the point home.
 
For the sake of very round numbers while recognizing it’s much more nuanced than this, let’s say your Energy is at a 10. Your Focus is at a 10 and you’re working on a 10-level most important thing.
 
That part of the equation would be 10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000.
 
Note: You could spend ONE hour working like that and achieve a 1,000 score on the Astonishing Productivity scale. (Go you!) (Reminds me of our +1 on The 1-Hour Workday. nerd face)
 
Now, to play with the other side of the spectrum, let’s say your Energy is at a 1, your Focus is at a 1 and you’re working on a 1-level of importance.
 
That part of the equation would be 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.
 
Note: You’d have to work 1,000 hours that day to achieve the same level of Astonishing Productivity. (Hah.) 
 
Again, it’s a bit more nuanced than that and we can tweak the equation to weigh different variables differently, etc.
 
BUT…
 
The point remains.
 
Get your ENERGY to as high a number as you can. FOCUS that (sun-like) Energy like a laser beam (through a magnifying glass) on THE MOST IMPORTANT THING and… 
 
VOILA.
 
Astonishing Productivity.
 
Do that again and again and again?
 
And, well, you’ll not just produce at an astonishing level, you’ll enjoy the eudaimonic Flow that comes when you consistently high five your daimon.
 
Let’s do that.
 
TODAY.
Jun 23, 2020
Continuing our brief tour through Kate Hefferon’s textbook on Positive Psychology and the Body, let’s flip open to the chapter on “Positive Nutrition.”
 
Hmmmm…
 
I wonder what science has to say about the impact of our diets on our wellbeing…
 
Guess where Kate starts her discussion? 
 
With sugar.
 
She tells us: “Sugar has been a component within western diets since the sixteenth century. While 500 years ago, the average human would be lucky to come across sugar, it is estimated that today the average Westerner consumes 3 lb of sugar a week. Overall, our sugar consumption per year has risen from 5 lb per person, per year in 1700, to 152 lb per person in 2000. Recent research has found evidence that sugar, while not only bad for our waistlines, can have deleterious effects on our brain. Sugar has been found to shrink areas responsible for important functions such as memory and mood regulation, wearing on the hippocampus.
 
We’ve talked about this before but let’s pause and contemplate that math one more time.
 
500 years ago? Basically NO SUGAR.
 
(Pause, reflect on that. Pretty please. With sugar not on top?)
 
Then, 300 years ago, we were consuming about 5 lbs of sugar.
 
Today? 
 
Today the average Westerner consumes 150 lbs of sugar every year.
 
So… 
 
Millions of years of evolution. Close to zero consumption of sugar. Now 150 POUNDS of sugar on average EVERY YEAR.
 
Hmmm…
 
I wonder if that might have any negative consequences?
 
Back to Kate who tells us that researchers “conducted a cross-national study (Korea, USA, France, Germany, Canada, New Zealand) on the relationship between sugar consumption and incidence of major depression. They found that ‘there was a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption (cal/cap/day) and the annual rate of depression.’ While this study has some major limitations, it highlights the importance of re-assessing the manufacturing of processed food and the role of sugar within our diets.”
 
Today’s +1.
 
SUGAR!!! 
 
One more time: It does a mind and body bad.
 
Not only does it mess with our insulin/metabolism and lead to a lot of the crippling, chronic BODY diseases we’re dealing with as a society, it also wreaks havoc on our MINDS and leads to a lot of the crippling psychological challenges we’re dealing with as a society.
 
I can’t think of a more powerful lever to Optimize our nutrition than getting really smart on how much sugar we’re consuming and having fun seeing just how much we can eliminate.
 
So…
 
How much sugar are YOU consuming these days?
 
Note: It’s ubiquitous and probably a LOT more than you think…
 
Here’s to the -1 -1 -1 for the +1 +1 +1 wins.
 
TODAY.
Jun 18, 2020
In the last couple +1s, we talked about The Shattered Vase (and the power of taking those pieces and making a beautiful new mosaic) then we practiced The Art of Precious Scars (as we chatted about “golden repairs”).
 
Let’s imagine that art sitting on a desk in our dojo-studio. 
 
We’ve got the mosaic and that golden-seamed vase.
 
And…
 
Right next to those pieces of art, let’s put a snow globe.
 
A snow globe?
 
Yep.
 
Stephen Joseph actually introduced this metaphor in his book on posttraumatic growth. He used it in the context of being shaken up after a traumatic event and the fact that it takes time for the metaphorical snow to settle in our lives.
 
But…
 
When I imagined that snow globe, the first thing I thought of was our minds and what we often do to them right before we go to bed.
 
Maybe it was because I was prepping for the PM Bookend session of our Carpe Diem module in our Mastery Series.
 
We’ve talked (many times!) about the fact that your day begins the night before.
 
Want to create a Masterpiece Day that starts with waking up nice and early (without an alarm!) feeling all refreshed and ready to rock?
 
Well…
 
TURN OFF YOUR ELECTRONICS and GO TO BED EARLY!! (Hah.)
 
Seriously.
 
Science is unequivocal. 
 
All that digital stimulation—both the blue light AND the raw inputs—right before you go to bed isn’t helping the Deep (And REM) Sleep cause!!
 
You know what it’s like?
 
It’s like shaking a SNOW GLOBE right before you go to bed.
 
Your brain’s all hyped up right when you want it to be relaxed.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s leave the snow globe alone—quit shaking it by turning off all your electronic stimulation AT LEAST (!) an hour before you go to bed.
 
Remember: Sleep. It does a body (VERY!) good.
 
Let’s Optimize ours.
 
TONIGHT.
Jun 13, 2020
Have you ever heard of “hedonic treadmills”?
 
We talked about them briefly a few years ago in the context of this +1 on the science of hedonic adaptation
 
Basic idea: We adapt to all the “things” we get in our lives. That shiny new car isn’t so shiny a few months after we get it. Same thing with the new phone or TV or whatever.
 
Sonja Lyubomirksy is one of the world’s leading researchers on the subject of hedonic adaptation. In The Myths of Happiness she tells us: Indeed, it turns out that we are prone to take for granted pretty much everything positive that happens to us. When we move into a beautiful new loft with a grand view, when we partake of plastic surgery, when we purchase a fancy new automobile or nth-generation smartphone, when we earn the corner office and a raise at work, when we become immersed in a new hobby, and even when we wed, we obtain an immediate boost of happiness from the improved situation; but the thrill only lasts for a short time. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, we find our expectations ramping upward and we begin taking our new improved circumstances for granted. We are left with ‘felicific stagnation.’”
 
So... 
 
We adapt to the hedonic pleasures in our lives. It’s like we’re on a treadmill. Moving faster and faster but not getting any further in our pursuit of true happiness.
 
But... 
 
Here’s some exciting news: THERE ARE NO EUDAIMONIC TREADMILLS
 
You know what happens when we joyfully commit to using everything as fuel for our growth while living with more Wisdom + Self-Mastery + Courage + Love + Hope + Gratitude + Curiosity + Zest?
 
We actually get happier.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s step off the hedonic treadmill and make some real progress in our lives as we focus on practicing our philosophy, high fiving our inner souls and FLOURISHING.
 
TODAY.
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