Emma Seppälä is the science director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. She also has a popular blog called Fulfillment Daily. In this great little book, she walks us through the latest scientific research on everything from resilience, willpower and compassion to positive stress, creativity, and mindfulness. Big Ideas we explore include how to find fulfillment (hint: it’s in this moment—right now!), how to skillfully surf stress waves, the most powerful lever to optimize your mind (hint: your breath), how to succeed in failure Jack Ma style, and the science of compassion.
I created 25 classes before we got to money/wealth/etc. That was deliberate. (Virtue for the win!) And… It was fun to create this class and share my thoughts on how to create true wealth. First idea? We’ve gotta remember that the Ultimate Currency/the reason we do *anything* is to be Happy. Therefore, we want to run our pursuit of material abundance through that lens. Then we talk about how to become psychologically wealthy (billionaires, baby!) (and look at how to Optimize your balance sheet), redefine economics from a spiritual plane and then… We talk about how to make and enjoy some more money. The theme? Wealth thru Profound Service. We talk about investing in the best stock on the market: You, Inc. And, we integrate Cal Newport’s Passion + Craftsman mindsets with what I call a “Servant” mindset for a new hedgehog-like concept plus we look at Ray Dalio’s 5 Steps to Getting What You Want in Life model—which is super powerful, kinda like WOOP by an uber-practical genius. Plus some other goodness I hope you enjoy!
Dave Asprey is a fascinating guy. He’s a professional bio-hacking machine whose publicly-stated goal is to live to 180. We covered his last book called The Bulletproof Diet and our kitchen’s pantry is filled with a bunch of his Bulletproof products. In this book, he unveils his best bio-hacks for, as the sub-title suggests, “activating untapped brain energy to work smarter and think faster.” Big Ideas we explore: Your brain on energy, kryptonite dust (what’re yours?), mitochondria (one QUADRILLION!), EZ water (how to drop into that spot between a gas and a liquid), and junk light.
William James once said: “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” In this book, Richard Wiseman, Britain’s official professor in “the Public Understanding of Psychology” walks us through the astonishing array of research that proves what he calls the “As If Principle.” Big Ideas we explore include an exploration of the fact that feelings follow behavior, how to make yourself happy, the paradox of rewards, and how to create a new you.
Edward Slingerland is one of the world’s leading experts on both ancient Chinese thought AND modern cognitive science. This book is a melding of those two realms. It’s a truly fascinating read. I read it in a day and felt like I was spending the day hanging out with a brilliant thinker—getting privileged access to twenty years of deep thinking. If you’re into ancient wisdom and modern science I think you’ll love the book as much as I did. Big Ideas we explore include defining wu-wei + de (one of the coolest words/concepts ever), what Confucius + Lao Tzu + Mencius + Chuang Tzu have to say about wu-wei, and the spontaneity of mirrors.
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning NY Times journalist (and Harvard MBA) who wrote the best-selling book The Power of Habit in which he walked us through the science of building better habits. In this book, he walks us through the science of being productive so we can be smarter, faster and better at everything we do. It’s a great book packed with fascinating stories and practical applications. Big Ideas we explore include the 2 keys to motivation, how to build your focus, the best way to set goals (think: Stretch + SMART), why disfluency helps learning and how productivity is all about choices.
Breathing. It’s obviously important. And... I’m beginning to realize *just* how important it is. In fact, breathing properly is quickly becoming my #1 fundamental. Belisa Vranich is a clinical psychologist and one of the world’s leading experts on how to breathe right. In this Note, we take a quick peek at why breathing is so important, learn how to measure your Vital Lung Capacity, observe the difference between Clark Kent and Superman and get to work on training the most important and underappreciated muscle in your body (hint: your diaphragm).
Eric Barker is the creator of the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree, which “presents science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life.” This is a REALLY engaging, well-written, compelling book. Eric takes us on a fun adventure through the science of what *really* works. And, as the sub-title suggests: How most of what you *think* works, is either a LOT more nuanced than you may have been led to believe or is just plain wrong. Big Ideas we explore include why valedictorians don’t typically top the success charts, how to get more willpower, why managing your energy is so key, the power of mentors (and how to get one), and the #1 thing to remember for success.
Travis Macy is best known as the record-setting champion of Leadman—“a sort of six-week Grand Prix of Ultra Endurance” that consists of a jaw-dropping number of challenges. This book is a fun look at the eight principles that make up the Ultra Mindset Travis uses to do extraordinary things. Big Ideas we explore include: Your new mantra, what to do when you don’t feel like it, thinking about thinking, making the choice to give up choice, and never quitting… except when you should quit (w/a great litmus test for when you should/shouldn’t quit).
The Plant Paradox. In a nutshell: The plants that nourish us can also hurt us. Dr. Steven Gundry is a renowned cardiologist and heart surgeon. He’s a former professor at Loma Linda University and has authored 300+ peer-reviewed articles on using diet and supplements to eliminate a bunch of diseases. And, to put it in perspective: He’s Tony Robbins’s doctor. Big Ideas we explore include Rule #1 of nutrition (and life) (hint: STOP eating/doing stuff that doesn’t work for you), the little edible enemies that are taking you down, the vagus nerve and it’s communication from your gut to your brain, how fruit might as well be candy and 90% new you in 90 days.
Once upon a time, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. Over 100 years of trying, and, precisely, zero wins.
Then a guy named Sir David Brailsford stepped in and created Team Sky. He said that a British cyclist would win the Tour within five years. People thought he was crazy.
Until they won it in two years.
Then, for good measure, they won four of the next five races as well.
How’d he do it?
He looked for all the tiny little places where he could Optimize.
Things like making sure the riders uniforms were always washed in the same skin-friendly detergent for a little more comfort.
Things like making sure the riders always slept on the same exact mattresses every night to give them the best shot at a good night of sleep.
Things like making sure the hotel rooms were always properly vacuumed to reduce potential infections.
TINY little things.
Any one gain wouldn’t do a whole lot, of course.
But, as we know, when you aggregate and compound enough of those tiny little incremental optimizations MAGIC happens.
In this case, Tour de France victories.
As Brailsford puts it (via Matthew Syed in Black Box Thinking): “I realized early on that having a grand strategy was futile on its own. You also have to look at the smaller level, figure out what is working and what isn’t. Each step may be small, but the aggregation can be huge.”
The same rules apply to our lives. A grand strategy, although important, is futile on its own. We need to go granular and figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
So… Today’s +1.
What’s working for you? Do more of it.
What’s NOT working for you? Do less of it.
Specifically: Do you have a better day when you begin your day in a certain way? Do you have more energy when you eat less of x and more of y? Do you feel better when you exercise or go to bed by a certain time? What other data can you collect?
TEST!!! Get feedback. Look honestly at what’s working and at what’s not and dial it in.
FIND THE MARGINAL GAINS.
Not complicated. Easy to overlook. But super powerful.
Echo: When we aggregate and compound marginal gains over an extended period of time we get EXTRAORDINARY gains.
In cycling, that’s what separates you from the pack and leads to Tour de France victories.
In life, that’s what separates us from our old selves so we can actualize our potential.
Here’s to marginal gains!
+1. +1. +1.
Legend has it that when Michelangelo stepped up to a block of marble, he could see the finished statue in his mind’s eye.
His job was simple: Get rid of what was in the way.
That’s a pretty powerful image. Let’s apply it to our lives.
Step back from your current life for a moment. Fast-forward 5-10 years. Look within the block of marble that is you and your potential.
SEE the best version of you sitting within that block of marble.
Can you see it? You at your best.
What’s in the way of you expressing that heroic version of you more and more consistently?
What little habits do we need to chip away at to reveal the most beautiful version of you hidden within that marble?
And, what’s the one little habit we’re going to let go of today to reveal just a little more of the awesome?
Fantastic. Here’s a chisel. Let’s do this!
How? +1. +1. +1.
William Shakespeare once told us (via Polonius in Hamlet): “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
For some reason, as a 15-year old in high school, I decided THAT would be the very first quote I ever wrote down and committed to memory.
I can still vaguely see my handwriting on a little index card in my mind’s eye. I laugh with joy as I think of that awesome younger version of me thinking that was a quote worthy of my attention.
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
To thine own self be true…
Emerson echoed this wisdom centuries later when he said: “Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string!”
Today’s +1. Let’s live the wise words of our dear friends Will and Ralph just a little more today.