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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: Category: PNTV
Sep 26, 2020

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 a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

Sep 23, 2020

"Positive Psychology and the Body." Unfortunately, those two subjects are rarely connected--which is why I was so excited to get this book when I saw the title. It's actually a *textbook* not a normal book. It provides an overview of research on a range of subjects including: “Positive Psychophysiology,” “Positive Neuroscience,” “Positive Sexuality” and “Positive Nutrition.” Big Ideas we explore include a quick look at Martin Seligman's PERMA approach to eudaimonic (vis-a-vis hedonic) happiness, your nervous system (flip the switch!), longevity and positive emotion (some astonishing stats), diet and wellbeing/depression (sugar begone!), and physical activity (science says: it does a body good!).

Sep 22, 2020

I’ve been eagerly awaiting for my dear friend Pilar Gerasimo to write a book that captures her wisdom on how to Optimize our lives and give the world all we’ve got. And... The wait is over! Pilar is one of the wisest people I know. Among many other things, she created Experience Life magazine (which currently reaches over 3 million people per year) and is the co-host of the Living Experiment podcast with Dallas Hartwig (co-founder of Whole30). The lead quote for this book perfectly captures the thesis of the book. It’s from Jiddu Krishnamurti. He tells us: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Yep. That’s about right. In a society in which the VAST majority of us are sick and tired and anxious and depressed and, well, blah... IT IS NO MEASURE OF HEALTH TO BE WELL ADJUSTED TO THAT SICK SOCIETY. (Right?) Enter: The Healthy Deviant. This “Rule Breaker’s Guide" is packed with Big Ideas on how we can "Be Healthy in an Unhealthy World.”

Sep 21, 2020

Mark Hyman, MD, is head of strategy for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and board president for the Institute for Functional Medicine. He is also the bestselling author of a number of books, including Eat Fat, Get Thin. This is a very important and equally sobering book. As Mark says: "If we were to identify one big lever to pull to improve global health, create economic abundance, reduce social injustice and mental illness, restore environmental health, and reverse climate change, it would be transforming our entire food system. That is the most important work of our time—work that must begin now.” In the Note we take a quick look at the dysfunction of the food system and how to fix it while talking about the #1 thing YOU can do TODAY to address it. We also chat about the fact that your food label may be lying to you, the ENORMOUS amount of money the junk food industry spends on junk science (think: $12 BILLION) and the social justice issues of food.

Sep 19, 2020

I’m a big fan of Tom Rath and his work. And... I’m not alone. His 10 books have sold over 10 million copies. Dan Pink (author of Drive and When) calls him “One of the most successful nonfiction writers of his generation.” We featured two of his earlier books: Eat Move Sleep and Are You Fully Charged? Plus: His children’s book called The Rechargeables remains one of my all-time favorites. “Life’s Great Question” that beckons all of us (“What can I contribute?”) is beautifully framed by the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that kicks off the book: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” This book is a field manual to help us go about answering that question so we can, as per the subtitle of the book: “Discover How You Contribute to the World.” Big Ideas we explore include creating a sense of urgency in life, Purpose 2.0, connecting what we do to those we serve, undivided attention (our new secret weapon), and creating the energy to be our best.

Sep 17, 2020

I got this book immediately after finishing Admiral McRaven’s first book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life... And Maybe the World. That one’s a quick-reading little book on the ten lessons McRaven learned in his SEAL training that we can all apply to our modern lives. It was fantastic. I had a strong feeling this memoir on his “Life in Special Operations” would be just as good. It is. As per the back cover, “Admiral William H. McRaven is a part of American military history, having been involved in some of the most famous missions in recent memory, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, and the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.” McRaven is a brilliant story teller with, as you can imagine, an incredible array of stories to tell. But that’s not why I loved this book so much. I loved it because reading it made me want to be a better human being. If you enjoy autobiographies and appreciate the military heroes who serve our country as much as I do, I think you’ll love the book as much as I did.

Sep 16, 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. This book takes a deeper look at those ten lessons. It’s a super-quick read—packed with simple, yet profound wisdom along with moving stories of moral exemplars. It's FANTASTIC.

Sep 16, 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. This book takes a deeper look at those ten lessons. It’s a super-quick read—packed with simple, yet profound wisdom along with moving stories of moral exemplars. It's FANTASTIC.

Sep 14, 2020

Alex Korb is a neuroscientist in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Go Bruins!) He’s also a great writer. As per the sub-title, the book is all about “Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.” It’s REALLY good. Inspiring. Scientifically grounded. Simple. Practical. <- A winning formula for a great book! Big Ideas we explore include the power of exercising your brain (which is the #1 tip, btw), setting goals (and making decisions), developing positive habits (via repetition, repetition, repetition), biofeedback (and how to take advantage of it), and the power of others (rely on it!).

Sep 13, 2020

I’m grateful for Robert Emmons. He’s dedicated the last three decades of his life to understanding the science of how to boost our well-being. In the process, he’s conducted ground-breaking research on the power of gratitude. In fact, he’s basically THE researcher we have to thank for understanding *just* how powerful gratitude journaling is.(He's also served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.) I consider myself a reasonably grateful guy but this book has opened my eyes to JUST how powerful gratitude is. And, to just how important it is to DELIBERATELY PRACTICE it. Big Ideas we explore include: How to give yourself a 25% (!!!) boost in happiness, the top gratitude practices, the #1 obstacle to gratitude (and its remedy), and using challenges for grateful fuel!

Sep 12, 2020

This is our fourth Note on one of Ryan Holiday’s books. Ryan is one of my absolute favorite writers. 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.” (btw: Cal Newport’s the first testimonial. He says: “Some authors give advice. Ryan Holiday distills wisdom. This book is a must read.”) Penguin Random House sent me an advance copy of this book. As I knew it would be: It’s fantastic. Of course, the book’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

Sep 12, 2020

I’m a big fan of Kelly McGonigal and her ability to help us apply scientific wisdom to our lives. We’ve covered two of her earlier books: The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress. So... When I got this book, knew I’d enjoy it. But, I didn’t anticipate JUST how much I’d love it. We have some great Notes on Movement (Spark, Spartan Up and No Sweat among my favorites), but Kelly’s book will be our new go-to for the science of WHY exercise/movement is so essential to our well-being. It’s PHENOMENAL. Reading about the SCIENCE behind stories of transformation (and how, as per the sub-title of her book: “Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage”) also made me that much more clear on the power of what we’re doing with all of our work and the importance of focusing so much on Energy (especially with our Mastery and Coach programs). Big Ideas we explore include: Hope Molecules (and how to create them), persistence highs (and how to create them), collective effervescence (and why it's so awesome), how we endure (hint: TOGETHER!), and OMMS!!! (Obstacles (literally!) Make Me Stronger!).

Sep 7, 2020

Robert Biswas-Diener is known as the “Indiana Jones of positive psychology.” As per his bio, “his research has taken him to such far-flung places as Greenland, India, Kenya and Israel.” And, important note: “He is afraid of quicksand and snakes.” :) Robert is also the son of one of the leading positive psychology researchers: Ed Diener. We covered a book they wrote together called Happiness. This is basically the ONLY book on science of courage. It's fantastic.

Big Ideas we explore include defining the numerator and denominator of our Courage Quotient (hint: Increase your "willingness to act" and "ability to control fear"), courage's two flavors (general + personal), courage blindness (and how to heal it), the power of playing our roles well (choose a courageous one!), being willing to fail and playing to win.

Sep 6, 2020

Donald Robertson is one of the world’s leading thinkers, writers AND practitioners of Stoic philosophy. He’s also a therapist who integrates Stoicism into his work with individuals. This is our second Note on one of his great books. The first Note was on The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in which he connects the philosophical underpinnings of CBT (one of the most empirically-validated, effective modern therapies) to ancient Stoicism. This book is part biography and part philosophy. It’s all awesome. If you want to know how to think like a Roman emperor, start here. I think you’ll enjoy the book as much as I did.

Sep 5, 2020

Cal Newport 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. Enter: My SUPER strong recommendation of the book and my ALL IN commitment to helping create a movement around the ideas in the book. As you know, I rarely say a book is a must read but this book is as close as it gets.

Big Ideas we explore include the fact that your soul is engaged in a lopsided arms race, a definition + overview of digital minimalism, the importance of spending time alone (and the consequences of *not* spending adequate time alone), reclaiming leisure (get active!) and joining the Attention Resistance. Here's to Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World!

Sep 4, 2020

Trevor Moawad is a mental conditioning coach to elite performers. He is well known for being the mental coach to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and has worked closely with prestigious NCAA football programs and coaches, the US Special Operations community, Major League Baseball, and the NBA. This book is, as per the sub-title, all about “How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life.” I loved it and, if you’re also equally fired up by the mental toughness in sports and life genre, I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Big Ideas we explore include neutral thinking (much better than positive or negative), goats and G.O.A.T.s, the law of substitution (focus!), the illusion of choice (if you’re REALLY ALL IN, there is no choice), and drawing a line in the dirt (and getting to it… again and again and again!).

Sep 3, 2020

BJ Fogg founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of behavior change. In this book, he introduces us to the core elements of his Fogg Behavior Model as we learn that habit change doesn’t need to be as hard as we make it. As BJ tells us: “We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw—not a personal flaw.”

Big Ideas we explore include the three elements that drive behavior (B = MAP!), the ABCs of Tiny Habits (Anchor + (Tiny) Behavior + Celebration!), the power of anchor prompts (After I (ANCHOR), I will (NEW HABIT), and the power of celebration (get your Shine on!).

Sep 2, 2020

Matthew Walker is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and sleep experts. He’s a professor at UC Berkeley (and former professor at Harvard) who has spent decades studying why we sleep and how to, as per the sub-title of this book, unlock the power of sleep and dreams. As you know if you’ve been following along, I’m a HUGE advocate of Optimizing our sleep as a fundamental practice in Optimizing our lives. This book has made me EVEN MORE bullish about the power of sleep. The consequences of chronically depriving ourselves of the sleep we need? Well, they’re astonishingly devastating—dramatically increasing the odds of having everything from mood disorders to cancer (and everything else we don’t want).

Big Ideas we explore include the fact that you're more likely to get struck by lightning than have the gene that let's you get by on less than the recommended sleep, the universality of sleep (even worms sleep!!), resetting baselines, the iPad effect (did you know how much using one before sleep messes w/your melatonin?), and some tips to Optimize your sleep TONIGHT!!!

Sep 2, 2020

As you know if you’ve been following along, I love Abraham Maslow and feel a deep kinship to him and his work. We have featured two of the books he published during his lifetime: Toward a Psychology of Being and Motivation and Personality. Although this book has only ONE review on Amazon and I could only buy a used copy of it, I knew I’d love it. And, although I had already been deeply influenced by Maslow and his thinking, there was something about reading his unpublished essays and journal thoughts that made me feel that much more connected to this great man. Big Ideas we explore include Maslow’s thoughts on the “eupsychian ideal” (aka: the “eudaemonic ideal”!), the psychology of happiness (eudaimonology!!), Stoic philosophy (Maslow was a fan), vicious cultural influences (Maslow was NOT a fan!), and the Jonah Complex (ANSWER YOUR HEROIC CALL, already!!).

Dec 27, 2018

Dr. Mercola is a super-popular alternative health physician who runs the equally popular site Mercola.com. In this book, we get a look at his “Mitochondrial Metabolic Therapy” program. MMT for short. As you could probably guess, this is a high-fat (+ “adequate” protein + low-carb) diet. If that approach fires you up, I think you’ll love the book. If not, well… :) Big Ideas we explore include: meeting our mitochondria (the key to health), why “adequate” protein is where it’s at (not low or moderate or high but “adequate”!), mTOR (the cancer switch), good fats (vs. bad ones), peak fasting, and how to win the urge war.

Dec 25, 2018

Susan Peirce Thompson is a Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. She’s an expert in the psychology of eating and creator of Bright Line Eating Solutions, “a company dedicated to helping people achieve long-term, sustainable weight loss.” Plus... She used to be obese and, as she says, addicted to *everything.* She integrates her background in neuroscience with her personal experience conquering her diet and other addiction issues in this super popular book. Big Ideas we explore include why bright lines are where it’s at, the susceptibility quiz, the saboteur, self-perception theory, and the four bright lines of eating.

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