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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: 2020
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 20, 2020

Today we spend some time with Abraham Maslow and his wisdom on embracing “misery privileges” in our life as we also connect some ideas from Ray Dalio and his mistake-learner’s high with the inevitable imperfections of life that give us an opportunity to get a little Wiser!

Hope you enjoy and let’s do this!

-bri

Aug 19, 2020

Today we spend some time with Abraham Maslow and his wisdom on embracing “misery privileges” in our life as we also connect some ideas from Ray Dalio and his mistake-learner’s high with the inevitable imperfections of life that give us an opportunity to get a little Wiser!

Aug 18, 2020

In Today’s #1, we go for a little walk on the Trail around our property. lol. Emerson makes a surprise cameo as we give you a little tour of our Trail and pond-turned-puddle along with an invitation to join us for Optimize Coach - Class III—which launches in less than one week!!!

Learn more, sign up, etc: https://www.optimize.me/coach

Love and let’s do this!

-bri

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 17, 2020

This morning we take the quick look at the ol’ Oura score and briefly reflect on the imperfect nature of sleep (especially when your wife stops breastfeeding and you sleep in a family bed! lol) then hit a ton of little things I thought might be interesting—ranging from thoughts on my pre-inputs creative process and systems and wrapping up with Being So Good and Energized and Awesome That They Can’t Ignore Us but they can Feel Us and Adore Us!

Hope you enjoy and Happy Monday.

Let’s do this!!!

-bri

Aug 16, 2020

This morning (after the 1-2-3!) I spent a few minutes going through the 100+ PhilosophersNotes on which I'll be doing PNTVs soon (YEEHAH!) and then got to work on my PN on Driven by Doug Brackmann. Here are some thoughts on Optimizing in general (Measure! Consistency!) and also on how to harness our drives in particular.

Hope you enjoy. Let's do this. TODAY!

-bri

Aug 15, 2020

Quick one this morning. 1-2-3, PNTVs are coming back—in black and white! lol—and this gem: “A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.” ~ Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

Hope you enjoy and here’s to dissolving the apparent dichotomies between our work and our play! TODAY!

-bri

Aug 14, 2020

This morning I did the normal 1-2-3 (x2) and celebrated completing the Mastery Series. Then I got to work on reading a book called “Together.” It’s by Vivek Murthy, who was the 19th Surgeon General of the United States. It’s AMAZING. I share a few of my favorite ideas from chapter #1 and also give a little behind-the-scenes look at how I read a book, mark it all up and get ready for a PhilosophersNote.

Hope you enjoy and let’s make sure we write that social prescription TODAY!

Love and high fives,

-bri

Aug 13, 2020

Today I had fun hammering out the Introduction Module for the Mastery Series. Fired up. Done!! YES!! I also filmed this #1 on the fascinating Audience Effect and another test. 9 hours in bed for 8 hours of sleep for the win!! :)

Aug 12, 2020

This morning I ran a little experiment and got out of bed a little earlier than I normally do. It’s always fascinating to see the data from experiments and use it to get a little better! In this case: I really like 8 hours of sleep so, note to self: Be in bed for 9 hours and get that little extra bonus kick of REM, yo!

Hope you enjoy and here’s to crushing the fundamentals and making Today and awesome day!

Aug 11, 2020

Today we’re going to take a quick look at THE Ultimate Algorithm for Optimizing. But, first, we drool over Alexandra’s RIDICULOUSLY awesome Oura #s. lol. Then we have fun with some wisdom from two Phils: My Coach, Phil Stutz, and NBA great, Phil Jackson. Guess what? They both say the EXACT same thing about how to win the game of life.

As Phil Jackson puts it (in The Last Dance ← awesome): “You’re only a success in the moment you perform a successful act. You have to do it again.” ← And again. And again.

btw: THAT is what our Optimize Mastery Series is all about. Join us for Optimize Coach - Class III? Kicks off in less than 2 weeks!!! https://www.optimize.me/coach/

That is all. That and LET’S DO THIS! Today.

Aug 10, 2020

This morning I worked on the “Prospering” session for our Mastery Series (which is the foundation of our Optimize Coach program). After a 1-2-3 / 1+2+3! Breakfast of Champions (including savoring some *more* SEAL mojo), we move on to a quick overview of how to get your Prospering on—starting with the etymology lesson on the fact that the word “prosper” LITERALLY means “to go forward with hope.” The opposite isn’t “to be be poor” per se—unless we’re talking about “poor in spirit.” The opposite of “prosper” is “despair”--to be WITHOUT hope.

Then, of course, we talk about how to get our prospering on. Hope you enjoy and hope you have an awesome day!

More on Sleep at: https://www.optimize.me/sleep/
More on Coach at: https://www.optimize.me/coach/

Aug 9, 2020

This morning I worked on the “Celebrating” session for our Mastery Series (which is the foundation of our Optimize Coach program). After a 1-2-3 / 1+2+3! Breakfast of Champions (including savoring some SEAL mojo), we move on to a quick overview of how to get your celebration on—starting with acceptance then moving on to gratitude and finishing with you winning (or learning!) all day every day as you step into the Optimizing arena and give us all you’ve got while celebrating the whole process with deep, eudaimonic joy.

Hope you enjoy and hope you have an awesome day!

Aug 8, 2020

This morning I thought it would be fun to share how I start my day. Jocko Willink has his 4:00 AM Timex watch. Awesome. I’m thinking I’ll share my Oura data every day and how I quickly use that data to get a little better via a three-step process we teach our Optimizers and Optimize Coaches: 1. What’s working? 2. What needs work? 3. What will I do differently?

BOOM! Repeat. Aggregate and compound and let’s see what we’re capable of as we show up day in and day out for an extended period of time.

I also share my Breakfast of Champions and some more thoughts on the messy process of creativity! Now it’s time to hit the Trail and then take my kids to the zoo. LET’S DO THIS. 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 7, 2020

After filming Eating, Moving, Sleeping, Breathing, and Focusing over the last 5 days (YES!), I took a step back and did some messy creative work on Celebrating. Today I’m excited to share some thoughts on how I plan to approach that Mastery Series class along with some powerful wisdom from Abraham Maslow.

Hope you enjoy and here’s to Radical Acceptance, Profound Gratitude and Ceaseless Celebration!

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 5, 2020

This morning I prepared for my film session on Breathing 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 Optimized breath at a time!! 

Remember: 1. Nose. 2. Belly. 3. Exhale!!

Aug 4, 2020

This morning I was preparing to film a Mastery Series session for our Optimize Coach certification program. We have 7 core fundies: Eating, Moving, Sleeping, Breathing, Focusing, Celebrating and Prospering. Today I was prepping for Sleep.

So… Here’s a video with a super-quick overview of the wisdom we’ll be sharing with an emphasis on one of the key practices we want to engage in if we want to Optimize our Sleep. I call it “Training Tranquility.” If you’re having trouble falling/staying asleep you may want to try this out!

Hope you enjoy!!! Here’s to some epic sleep.

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? 
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