Info

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.)
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time
2020
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
May
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September
August


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: June, 2020
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.
1