Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life by Dave Asprey
Part I Smarter 1 Focusing on Your Weaknesses Makes You Weaker
But you might be surprised to know that your brain actually uses more energy per pound than almost any other part of your body.
But by far the easiest way is to simply stop wasting the brain energy you already have so you can reserve more of it for the things that matter most to you. This boils down to prioritization: focusing your brain energy on highly impactful things you love and getting rid of the things that drain you, no matter what they are; in other words, removing the things that are making you weak and adding more of the things that will make you strong.
Law 1: Use the Power of No
Say “no” more often. Make fewer decisions so you have more power for your mission.
the lives of successful people, he found that at very high levels of performance, they all demonstrated the importance of one key concept: being aware and honest about what was most important to them.
To gain clarity about your values, Stew recommends thinking about the year 2039, twenty years from when you may be reading this book.
Once you know what matters most to you, Stewart says, the second step is to determine who matters most to you.
So I made a decision to do something every day that makes me better. This small commitment helps me invest my time and energy wisely and focus on ways to continually grow and challenge myself.
Tony Stubblebine. Tony is on a mission to make coaching the fastest path to self-improvement in every field, from business to education to fitness. He is the CEO and founder of Coach.me,
Tony sets a decision budget for himself every day. He allows himself only a certain number of decisions, whether they are big or small, and then he “spends” them throughout the day.
Now he prioritizes starting his day with a clear mind. He meditates as soon as he wakes up and then writes down his to-do list. To prioritize this list, he asks himself which of the tasks have the potential to significantly change the outcome of his mission. After practicing this habit for a while, he began to realize that many of the items on his to-do lists weren’t really critical.
This isn’t always easy, which is why it’s a good idea to work with a coach to help you figure out what habits are hindering you.
A good coach will help you see where you’re wasting energy in your life without knowing it, predict where you’re going to waste energy next as you scale, and hold you accountable for changing
Willpower seems like an abstract concept. Some of us have a lot of willpower and others don’t, right? Wrong! In reality, willpower is like a muscle. You can exercise it to make it stronger, and it gets fatigued when it’s worked too much. When your willpower muscle is fatigued, you start making bad decisions. And you do it without noticing.
If you overdraw your energetic bank account with trivial decisions, your ACC stops responding well and your willpower runs out. That’s when you give in to bad decisions.
This phenomenon is called decision fatigue: the more decisions you make, the worse your judgment becomes.
You can build your “willpower muscle” the same way you strengthen any muscle in your body: by doing hard things you don’t want to do. A simple trick I use is to keep a heavy-duty spring-loaded hand-grip trainer on my desk. When I think about it, I squeeze it until it burns and my arm tells me to stop and then keep squeezing. Another technique I use is to hold my breath until my lungs scream at me to breathe and then hold it longer.
Action Items Take a deep breath. Now hold it until you’re sure you have to breathe. Hold it for eight more seconds. (Don’t do this if you’re driving or have health problems.) Take note—mentally or on paper—every time you make a decision for a week. As you notice yourself making a decision, ask yourself two questions: Did this decision matter? Was there a way to avoid making this decision by ignoring it, automating it, or asking someone else who loves making that kind of decision to make it instead? Start now. Name two decisions you make every day that add absolutely no value to your life. Write them down here so you don’t have to decide to do it later. Useless daily decision 1: ________________________________________________________ Useless daily decision 2: ________________________________________________________ Now stop making them.
Recommended Reading Stewart D. Friedman, Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life
Law 2: Never Discover Who You Are To change the world, tap into your strengths, but do not passively discover who you are. Actively decide and create who you are. If you abdicate this duty by allowing others to tell you who to be, you will struggle greatly in life and likely fail to achieve greatness. So discover your passion and follow it, but do it as the person you create. The difference is a life of mediocrity and creeping misery compared to a life of freedom and passion.
The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice.
But we have two enemies that get in our way every single time. One of them is self-oppression, our tendency to put ourselves down. The other is social oppression, the people who judge us and fail to be supportive of who we are or what we want. Brendon suggests that we can overcome these two barriers by developing what he terms a “competence-confidence loop.” The more you understand something, the more confidence you will have to pursue it further, despite what anyone else may say.
He recommends recording three words on your phone that describe your highest, best self.
Brendon believes that the most important skills to master are setting intentions and taking the necessary steps to become that person. In other words, instead of discovering who you are, you become powerful when you decide who you are.
He refers to the subjects you were inclined to pursue, even when you were as young as three years old, as your primal inclinations. These are your basic strengths, and they should not be taken lightly, because you are a completely unique person.
When you want to learn, you do.
With coaching from the legendary entrepreneur coach Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach, I have learned to prioritize my actions into three buckets: things that drain my energy, things I don’t mind and are important and useful, and things that give me energy and bring me joy. My goal is to break my daily actions down so that I spend none of my time on tasks that fall into the first category, 10 percent of my time on the second category, and 90 percent of my time in the final category, the one that Robert Greene calls primal inclinations.
Law 3: When You Say You’ll Try, You Are Lying The words you choose matter more than you think, not just to the people you speak to but also to your own nervous system. Your language sets your limits and to a great extent shapes your destiny. When you unconsciously use words that make you weak, you stop trusting yourself and lead others to question your integrity. Game changers deliberately choose truthful words to build trust and break free from self-imposed limitations. So stop trying and start doing.
This is because JJ knows that our bodies listen to our words at a subtle level.
The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
he keeps a list of limiting words that he guides successful people to avoid.
There are four particularly insidious weasel words that you likely use many times a day without even noticing it.
WEASEL WORD 1: CAN’T This word is first on Jack’s list and mine, too. It is perhaps the most destructive word you use every day. The word “can’t” means there is absolutely no possible way you can do something. It robs you of power and crushes innovative thinking. When you say, “I can’t do that,” what you actually mean is one of four things: you could use some help doing it; you don’t currently have the tools to do it; you simply don’t know how to do it; or you just don’t want to do it. Or
The true meaning of “can’t” is obvious to your conscious brain, but it isn’t so obvious to your unconscious brain because that part of your brain doesn’t understand context.
“Can’t” is always a lie. Learn to see it that way, and you’ll solve problems differently. Go one week without using the word “can’t.”
WEASEL WORD 2: NEED Parents use the word “need” with kids all the time: “We need to go, so you need to wear a coat.” The truth is, you didn’t need to go, and you didn’t need to wear a coat. Your parents might have wanted to leave, and you would simply have been cold without a coat. By telling your primitive systems that you need something, you end up turning a desire for something into a straight-up survival issue. On a deep level your primitive brain believes that you’ll die if you don’t get the things you say you “need,” even though your conscious brain knows better.
So instead of telling my team at Bulletproof that we need to hit a deadline, I say, “This is mission critical, and we’re going to do it. What obstacles can I remove for you? What will help us do this?”
So stop needing, and start wanting. You’re not going to die.
By using the word “need,” you put an unconscious box around the solution set, create subconscious stress, and limit your creativity.
WEASEL WORD 3: BAD In reality, very few things are inherently “bad”; bad is a value judgment you assign to something. The problem with labeling things as “bad” is that your subconscious listens and prepares you psychologically and biochemically for impending doom.
but when it comes to our everyday lives, judging things through a filter of either good or bad is limiting and creates unnecessary obstacles and black-and-white thinking. When you label something “bad,” you miss out on an opportunity to figure out how it can be good.
WEASEL WORD 4: TRY “Try” always presupposes a likelihood of failure.
This is because as soon as you hear the word “try,” you assume that whatever you are going to “try” to do might not be possible. It gives your brain an out.
Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
2 Get into the Habit of Getting Smarter
Law 4: Even Your False Beliefs Are True The beliefs you hold and the stories you tell yourself shape your internal model of reality. When your model is wrong, you build broken habits and make decisions that don’t create what you want. You suffer. A flexible mind changes itself and builds a better model as it gathers more data about reality. Build a flexible mind with the built-in habit of questioning your assumptions about reality so you can grow.
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms, teaches you how to optimize your brain for prime happiness and performance.
Neuroplasticity teaches us that we can swap out a negative or limiting belief for a belief that will serve us better.
High performers focus on recognizing and changing limiting beliefs because they know that their beliefs will become true whether or not they are based in reality.
In fact, helping people discover and correct self-limiting beliefs is one of the primary roles of a life coach or a business coach.
When I meditate, I tell my nervous system I’m grateful that things happen the way they’re supposed to happen, that there is a conspiracy to help me succeed, and that the universe has my back.
Dr. Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania found that optimistic expectations were a significant predictor of achievement.1
First, you have to become aware of the brain’s default settings. Our instinct is to do things the same way we’ve always done them.
Robert says that even when you are relying on your hard wiring, your brain is constantly changing. The question then becomes: In which direction are you changing? When you settle in to your default mode and rigidify like a grumpy creature of habit that gets mad if someone takes his or her favorite seat at the table, you are “downwiring.” Many people downwire as they age, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you lean into possibilities and become different with the intention to get better, you are “upwiring.”
The key to upgrading your performance is to spend the majority of your time upwiring rather than downwiring.
Law 5: A High IQ Doesn’t Make You Intelligent, but Learning Does Your IQ score measures your crystallized intelligence, the sum of your learning and experience. You can raise it, but it doesn’t matter as much as fluid memory, your ability to learn and synthesize new information. Most scientists still believe that fluid intelligence is fixed, but it’s not. So hack it. There are specific techniques to drastically increase your fluid memory that are waiting for you to use them. You can waste your time learning slowly or set yourself free by changing your brain and upgrading how you learn.
“The same level of thinking that’s created the problem won’t solve the problem.”
His method aptly breaks down into the acronym F-A-S-T: F: FORGET It may seem kind of weird, when talking about learning, reading, and memory, to start with forgetting, but Jim found that a lot of people fail to learn anything new when they feel as though they know the subject already.
Your mind is like a parachute; it works only when it’s open. To open yours, forget about what you already know.
The last thing that you need to forget is everything else that’s going on around you so that you can focus on what you are learning.
A: ACTIVE Twentieth-century education was based on the model of rote learning and repetition.
Jim says that in the twenty-first century, education should be based on creation, not consumption. That requires us to be active participants in our learning, grabbing for knowledge instead of letting it be spooned into our mouths. That means taking notes actively and sharing what you learn.
Jim recommends taking notes the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. Put a line down the middle of the page. The left side is for “capture notes,” where you write down the thoughts and ideas you are learning; and the right side is for “creating notes,” where you write your impressions, thoughts, and questions about what you are learning. This strategy engages your whole brain so that you can learn faster and remember more.
S: STATE All learning is state dependent. Jim defines your state as the current condition or mood of your brain and your body.
T: TEACH If you had to watch a video or read a book and then present it to someone else the next day, would you pay a different level of attention than you would otherwise?
So find an excuse to teach people what you want to learn, and you’ll master it more quickly than you think. If you’re not actually teaching something, pretend that you will be!
Working memory is critical to fluid intelligence, and those scientists wanted to see if improving someone’s working memory
As you get better, you may find that you have more verbal fluency (Dual N-Back radically improved my live presentation skills to the point that I regularly speak in front of millions of people with confidence and ease), better listening ability, better reading recall, and more. When you’ve completed it, you won’t know how you functioned with only half of the working memory you just gained. It’s that strong, like a RAM upgrade for your brain.
Try one of Jim Kwik’s courses (https://kwiklearning.com) or another speed-reading course so you can literally learn faster.
Improve your fluid intelligence by doing Dual N-Back training. I recommend the Dual N-Back app by Mikko Tyrskeranta on the iTunes and Android stores. Hints: Do it for at least twenty days, but forty is best. Do it at least five days a week, when you’re not tired. You may get stuck for a couple of weeks, but do it anyway. Do not subvocalize (mutter to yourself) when you’re training so that you’re only activating the right side of your brain. Push yourself to failure every time—move up a level even if you’re only at 70 to 80 percent at an existing level. The software I recommend does this for you automatically. Tell a friend or coach you’re going to do Dual N-Back so they can make fun of you when you tell them how annoying it is. It’s like going to the gym every day for a month—accountability helps.
Recommended Reading Dan Hurley, Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power
Law 6: Remember Images, Not Words Your brain evolved in a world of sense, sound, and images, not a world of words. Train yourself to build images from what you read and hear so you can make full use of your brain’s deeply rooted onboard visual hardware. Remembering in words will slow you down and waste energy you can put to better use.
When you visualize images, information takes a shortcut in the memory-storage part of the brain, skipping over short-term memory and heading straight to long-term memory. Out of our five senses, our sight is the most important to the brain, because it is the most closely tied to our survival. Three-quarters of the neurons that work with our senses are connected to sight.
Learning through doing or teaching is an even more powerful way to remember new information, but that’s because both of those approaches engage your visual senses.
When you learn through sound by repeating information out loud over and over again, the brain can take in only a tiny amount of data at once. When we learn in images, our brains absorb more information more quickly.
He suggests practicing this skill every time you hear someone speak. As you listen, see what images pop up in your mind and hold them there. Really focus on the details so you remember them well. The images will function like clues that your brain can follow to find its way back to the original information. Eventually, with practice, your brain will work almost like a magnet, attracting new information and holding on to it.
wrote my last book by first drawing pictures of mitochondrial pathways for each chapter and then crafting the words. It’s all about the image: when you visualize a detailed picture of something, you gain a kind of knowledge that simply isn’t possible through rote memorization.
Try mind mapping—drawing notes on paper using very few words but illustrating the connections between them. Consider taking Jim Kwik’s courses on memory at http://www.jimkwik.com. Especially if memorizing things is a goal, consider Mattias Ribbing’s online courses (including a free training) at http://www.grandmasterofmemory.com.
Mattias Ribbing, “Mastering Memory,” Bulletproof Radio, episode 140
3 Get Outside Your Head So You Can See Inside It
Law 7: Smart Drugs Are Here to Stay When your brain is working at its full capacity, everything you want to do requires less effort, including the work it takes to become more self-aware. Nootropics, or smart drugs, do just that: they make you smarter. Lots of them are legal, but some are not. If you’re not actively supporting your cognitive function in every way, you’re simply less likely to perform well at whatever matters most to you.
This idea is not as crazy as it may sound. LSD is certainly a mind-expanding drug. The key to using it as a nootropic is taking a tiny dose—one-twentieth to one-tenth of a full dose. For some people, this leads to increased positivity, creativity, focus, and empathy without creating any psychedelic effects.
LSD causes the region in the brain that is involved in introspection (thinking about yourself) to communicate more intensely than usual with the part of the brain that perceives the outside world.2
also interacts with the brain’s neural circuits that use the “feel-good” neurotransmitter seratonin, mimicking seratonin in the brain.
More relevant to this book, LSD can actually power up your brain. It increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a powerful protein that stimulates your production of brain cells and strengthens existing ones.10 Studies have found that psychedelics help rabbits learn a new task more quickly.
The bottom line is that microdosing psychedelics is neither a panacea for personal growth and performance nor entirely useless and dangerous. Psychedelics can heal.
RACETAMS Perhaps the biggest supporter of the racetam family is Steve Fowkes, a biochemist who wrote and edited a newsletter called Smart Drug News starting in the 1980s.
effective racetam nootropics I’ve found are aniracetam and phenylpiracetam. I like aniracetam more than piracetam because it is fast acting, reduces stress, and increases your ability to get things into and out of your memory. Phenylpiracetam is highly energizing and stimulating, which helps with some tasks but hinders some others. It is also a banned substance in some sports.
This effect is likely due to the fact that the racetam family improves mitochondrial function and sends extra oxygen to the brain.
In studies, 400 milligrams of phenylpiracetam taken daily for a year significantly improved brain function and cognition in people recovering from a stroke;12 200 milligrams of phenylpiracetam taken for thirty days improved neurological function by 7 percent in people with brain damage13 and by 12 percent in people with epilepsy.14 In studies on rats, aniracitam improved memory and countered depression.15 A single small study of piracetam in healthy adults found that after fourteen days it significantly improved verbal learning.16
The side effects are minor—mostly racetams can amplify the effects of caffeine or use up a nutrient called choline, which you can easily replenish by eating egg yolks or supplementing with CDP choline or sunflower lecithin.
Do not start with a “stack” of multiple racetams.
MODAFINIL (PROVIGIL) Have you ever seen the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper? It’s loosely based on modafinil. This stuff gives you superhuman mental processing powers with few to no downsides.
Modafinil improves memory and mood, reduces impulsive decision making, increases your resistance to fatigue, and even improves your brain function when you are suffering from lack of sleep.
Unlike many other smart drugs, modafinil is not a stimulant; it is actually a eugeroic—a wakefulness-promoting agent. That means it doesn’t make you speedy or jittery like most classical stimulants do, and it doesn’t cause you to crash or go through withdrawal because it is not addictive.
and about five in 1 million people can develop a life-threatening autoimmune condition—a risk similar to that of taking ibuprofen. If you know your genetic sequence (from 23andMe or a similar service), you can check to see if you have the genes that put you at risk. They are listed on the Bulletproof blog. Modafinil does not mix well with alcohol.
NICOTINE I have never been a smoker, and smoking is gross and bad for you. But nicotine, separately from tobacco, is just one of the thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke. And when you use it orally at low doses in its pure form—without toxins and carcinogens wrapped around it and rolled into a cigarette—nicotine can be a formidable nootropic.
it gives you faster, more precise motor function.
Nicotine makes you more vigilant and sharpens your short-term memory.
mistakes than people who took a placebo.20 You can even speed up your reaction time with nicotine.
Nicotine activates your mesolimbic dopamine system, which scientists have aptly nicknamed the brain’s “pleasure pathway.”
What is known is that nicotine promotes angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels.22
If you don’t have cancer, nicotine, taken orally, is kidney protective, and it mimics the effect of exercise on the body through a protein called PGC-1 alpha. Researchers believe this compound may have played a key role in differentiating humans from apes,23 and it is the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis.24 In other words, it makes your cells (including brain cells) build new power plants. It’s also a key regulator of energy metabolism and upregulates thyroid hormone receptor genes and mitochondrial function. If you read Head Strong, you know that almost anything you do to make your mitochondria function well is going to help your brain. Nicotine fills the bill!
CAFFEINE Few people know this, but the first commercial product ever sold over the internet was a T-shirt that read, CAFFEINE: MY DRUG OF CHOICE.
Law 8: Get Out of Your Head There is incredible value in accessing altered states where you face your inner demons. This is where magic and healing happen. Ancient cultures have always known this, and today’s game changers do, too. So go to the jungle and try ayahuasca. Do a ten-day silent meditation Vipassana retreat. Fast in a cave on a vision quest. Stick EEG electrodes on your head to access altered states. Do advanced breathing exercises until you leave your body. Go to Burning Man. Or consider consciously and carefully using full-dose psychedelics in a spiritual or therapeutic setting. Do whatever it takes to occasionally get out of your own head so you can more powerfully own what you do once you’re back. And do it with help from experts.
Dr. Villoldo credits the differences between the health of the people in the Amazon and in Western culture to stress. When you live in a state of fight or flight, the brain secretes two steroid hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. This leads you to always being hyped up and prevents you from accessing the ecstatic, blissful state where you can actually be creative and dream the future into being, which is called a state of flow. When your brain is riddled with stress hormones, it activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When the HPA axis is turned on, it is dedicated to the fear hormones and triggers the pituitary gland to keep manufacturing more and more stress hormones.
When you are not in a state of fight or flight, however, under the right circumstances the pituitary gland can help you get into a state of flow by transforming neurotransmitters such as serotonin into dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a molecule that occurs naturally in many plants and animals.
DMT is one of the most powerful psychoactive substances on the planet. It is prepared by various cultures for healing and ritual purposes. It triggers visionary ecstatic states.
Yet, according to Dr. Villoldo, 99 percent of us have brains that are broken from stress and cannot create their own hallucinogenic substances.
The ayahuasca vine contains DMT, but you can use it only when it is brewed with other plants containing chemicals called monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Yes, the same DMT that your body can produce is the active ingredient in the powerful psychedelic ayahuasca. Without the right combination of plants, your gut would destroy the DMT and you would feel no effects from it at all.
experience. I knew the shaman I found was good when he asked me whether I was taking MAO inhibitors or other antidepressants that interact with Banisteriopsis caapi, one of the plants used to brew ayahuasca. You could die if you try ayahuasca while on certain antidepressants.
The key is that all such experiences involve altered states. But amazingly, another way of getting into an altered state, breathing, has had a deeper and even more profound effect on me than any plant medicine.
Consider finding a certified psychedelic-assisted therapist who has 180 hours of training from the California Institute of Integral Studies (www.ciis.edu) or a traditional shamanic practitioner with an authentic training lineage and lots of experience if you decide to try plant medicines.
Law 9: The Breath Is the World’s Most Powerful Drug The simple act of breathing is so powerful that the godfather of LSD replaced his psychedelic therapy with a profound breath control practice. Taking a deep breath is simple, but you can go far deeper into your own head by learning how to really breathe.
He developed a breathing technique called holotropic breathing. It is a profound practice that can help you tap into a nonordinary (or holotropic) mental state. The process itself is very simple, combining accelerated breathing with evocative music in a peaceful setting. With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses his or her own breath and the music in the room to enter a nonordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual’s psyche, leading to a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. Though recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike.
It pains me to say this, but separating a baby from its mother right after birth is seriously bad for babies. Yet this practice is par for the course in the United States, especially after a cesarean birth. If you were born or gave birth via cesarean, don’t stress or feel guilty about it. Knowledge is power. Now that you know that birth trauma can cause stress later in life, you can use one of many healing modalities to reset the stress response. Holotropic breathing helped me find an impossibly hidden trauma that had been holding me back on so many levels.
Yogis have been practicing pranayama, the yogic side of breathing, for thousands of years (this is the foundation of the popular Art of Living breathing techniques, which I practiced every morning for five years).
Learn the Ujjayi breath—instructions are at http://www.bulletproof.com/ujjayi.
Try an Art of Living course or a pranayama course.
Recommended Reading Stanislav Grof, LSD Psychotherapy (The Healing Potential of Psychedelic Medicine) Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof, Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy David Perlmutter and Alberto Villoldo, Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment
4 Disrupt Fear If there’s one key aspect of success that all game changers agree on, it is this: You must be fearless.
There is no great mystery here: authority figures are created to protect the status quo. Becoming an innovator requires that you think differently. Stagnation is the enemy of innovation.
Law 10: Fear Is the Mind Killer Failure is scary because as humans evolved, failure meant a tiger would eat you, you’d run out of food, your tribe would banish you, or you’d never find a mate, so you’d die, and so would your entire species. None of those are true today, but the biological fear of failure remains in the automated parts of your nervous system. Learn to face your irrational fear of criticism and failure and do big things anyway. When you learn to make your body less afraid of failure, it liberates enormous energy that you can use to do what you choose. Fear of failure causes failure. Don’t give in to it. Hack it instead.
Ravé Mehta is a game-changing engineer, entrepreneur, and professor, as well as an award-winning pianist and composer. He is changing the way we educate kids through his company, Helios Entertainment, which creates games, music, and books that teach adults and kids to overcome fear while learning complex science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. I asked him to join me on Bulletproof Radio to talk about fear.
Throughout his study of fear, Ravé discovered that all negative emotions—anger, jealousy, insecurity, guilt, shame, and greed—are rooted in fear, while all positive emotions—confidence, grace, humility, courage, gratitude—are rooted in trust.
Fear constrains the pipe so that love can’t flow in, while trust opens up the pipe.
In this state, you can allow yourself to become vulnerable because you trust that you will not get hurt, either physically or emotionally. Vulnerability, Ravé says, increases your ability to achieve a state of flow. He
Ravé breaks fear down into three pillars: TIME When you are fully trusting, you are present and receptive in the moment. It’s when you move away from being present that you allow fear to come in. This normally takes the shape of “what if” questions.
Fear will always take you out of the present moment, because fear is based on what might happen in the future, not what is happening now. When you allow fear to enter, it disrupts the present moment.
ATTACHMENTS The idea of being attached to ideas and material objects has a bit of a bad reputation, and at first Ravé believed that we shouldn’t have these attachments at all.
two main types of attachments. The first is a rigid attachment, which is like a steel beam that connects you to the object of your attachment and creates stress. The other type is a gravitational attachment. In this case, there is a secure connection between you and the other person or object, but it is more flexible than a rigid attachment. As Ravé says, nothing is holding you in place other than your own gravity and the gravity of the object of your attachment.
As dynamics change, you can naturally gravitate either away from each other or closer together. For example, if you have a rigid attachment to another person, you will try to control him or her. In the case of a gravitational attachment, however, you are more confident in your connection and focused on yourself and becoming a better person. This will attract the right things into your space and push the wrong things away. This requires a slight shift in mind-set: instead of focusing on something else, focus on yourself, and everything will correct itself.
EXPECTATION The third pillar of fear is expectation. Ravé defines expectation as being attached to a specific outcome—wanting to see a certain result of your efforts.
All of these negative emotions inhibit your flow state.
Ravé encourages us simply to shift our expectations to preferences. This way, if you achieve your desired outcome, you will feel elated, but you won’t be dismayed if you don’t.
Ravé says that all three pillars—time, attachment, and expectation—have to be active for fear to exist. If you knock down even one of them, fear will get up as that lion did and quietly walk away.
Old cells die, and the body has to replace them. For example, the entire lining of the digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus, is replaced every three days.
At the time, Dr. Lipton was a professor at a medical school. He taught his students the well-established belief that our genes control our lives, but he was seeing in his laboratory that that wasn’t true. The genes did not control the cells’ fate; the environment did.
He found that as we change the composition of our blood, we change the fate of our cells. So what controls the composition of our blood? The brain is the chemist. What the mind perceives, the brain will break down into complementary chemistry.
if when you look at the world you see joy and happiness, the brain will translate that joy and happiness into chemistry, such as a dopamine release from feeling pleasure. This chemistry enhances growth. If you look at the world through a lens of fear, it will cause the brain to release stress hormones and inflammatory agents that will put you into a state of self-protection, which halts growth. It became very clear to Dr. Lipton that the chemistry of the blood, the cell’s culture medium, changes based on our view of the world. This greatly impacts the fate of our cells.
This would be a good thing if a saber-toothed tiger were chasing you, but if you are in a chronic state of fear, you are continuously inhibiting your growth and potential. To make matters worse, the stress hormones that halt growth also shut down the immune system in order to save energy. Then you have two strikes against you. Dr. Lipton believes that this is the root of over 90 percent of disease.
To hack your own fear, Jia recommends celebrating failure. When you play it safe, you won’t be rejected. If you are willing to try something audacious enough that it fails, celebrate that. It is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Here is a diagram to help you remember. Happiness and Freedom Fear Anger and Pride Sadness Apathy and Shame
To prioritize your survival, your body will always try to steer you toward the lower emotions.
Gratitude turns off the fear. Then you summon a feeling of profound forgiveness toward whatever or whoever caused the situation.
Action Items Remember that fear requires time, attachments, and expectations. Work to stay in the moment by eliminating distractions. (Turn off alerts on your phone, already!) Rephrase expectations to become preferences. Say “I want” instead of “I need.” Consider doing a nightly practice, such as the one I do with my kids. At the end of each day, I ask them to list three things they’re grateful for. Then I ask them one thing they failed at today. Failure means “something I worked hard on but didn’t achieve.”
Recommended Reading Bruce H.
Law 11: Average Is the Enemy The people who create the most positive change most quickly are by definition disrupting the way things are. The world will push back at them, which leads to fear or uncertainty in even the strongest innovators. Throughout history, people with new ideas have consistently been criticized, disparaged, or worse. Manage your emotional response to critics and forge ahead despite encountering obstacles. Learn to face criticism and follow your path with joy. The last thing you want to be is average.
More than 99 out of every 100 molecules in our muscles are water molecules.
Pollack has found that infrared light, natural sunlight, and vibration all create more of this type of water.
When you mix butterfat (ghee) into water, it creates a huge amount of EZ water.
Blending butter into coffee creates EZ water. Dr. Pollack’s groundbreaking discovery solved another mystery!
Law 12: Don’t Lead a Horse to Water; Make It Thirsty Game changers don’t get bored. They seek out the things that fascinate them, and that make them want to leap out of bed in the morning. Without passion and purpose, there is no happiness, so find the things you care about and devote your life to their pursuit. Put passion before money, and success will follow—but don’t ignore the money, either.
As a parent, Naveen believes his job is to encourage and nurture intellectual curiosity in his children. People often say that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Naveen believes that you should never lead a horse to water, just make it thirsty. If a horse is passionate, thirsty, and obsessed with finding water, it is going to go out and find its own water, and it’s going to drink.
Subir says make up a caring mind-set: straightforward, thoughtful, accountable, and results driven. To become a more caring person, Subir says, ask yourself how you can apply these four attributes to every aspect of your life.
Action Items Find a problem you are obsessed with and devote as much time and energy as possible to pursuing it because it will make you happy. Develop a caring mind-set—straightforward, thoughtful, accountable, and results driven.
5 Even Batman Has a Bat Cave
I’ve made a commitment to myself to spend that time doing something that makes me a better human being. Sometimes it’s doing biohacking exercises on the crazy equipment in my labs. Other times it’s meditating or listening to Dr. Barry Morguelan’s energy meditations while doing his unusual stretches. Sometimes it’s running an electric current over my head or taking a morning walk in the sun with my shirt off to catch some rays and set my circadian rhythm.
Your health always comes first, because it drives your performance at everything else; your family (and friends who are as close as family) comes second; and work is a close third.
Law 13: Don’t Push Your Limits for Too Long The only time an animal pushes itself until it drops is when it’s starving or being hunted. When you push yourself without recovery, your body believes you must be under threat. An automatic system kicks in and shuts down the less necessary systems in your body. The ones that keep you young. The ones that keep you happy. The ones that help you think. You must learn to be a professional recovery artist. Screw running a marathon every day. Sprint, rest, sprint instead. Massively create and then massively rest to keep your passion—and your meat—alive for the whole race.
Well, after treating, interviewing, and surveying thousands of people with Hashimoto’s, Dr. Wentz has come to the conclusion that stress is the number one factor that triggers patients to go from stage one, when they simply have the right genes for it, to stage two, when they begin to develop symptoms.
This happens because when you are severely stressed, without the opportunity to recover, your body thinks it is under threat. This triggers inflammation and causes white blood cells to attack the thyroid gland or other systems in the body. This is known as an autoimmune response, because the body is using its own defense system to attack itself.
he reminded listeners that flight attendants always instruct passengers, in case of emergency, to put their own oxygen mask on first before they assist a child with his or hers because you can’t help anyone else if you’re debilitated. And if you don’t prioritize downtime and self-care, you will inevitably become debilitated.
Chinese Zen philosophy (this is not so much an organized religion as it is a study of human behavior and the mind). The first stage is when someone has his or her first glimpse of something bigger, higher, and greater. This is called a Buddha awakening. Once someone has this awakening, he or she can begin a devotional practice where he or she begins to actualize the wisdom of the Buddha. This eventually leads to what Buddhists refer to as the Great Doubt. This occurs because even when someone is doing everything he or she is supposed to be doing, he or she is still not completely happy.
no matter how enlightened a person is, the ego is always present. (I believe that this is because the ego is the operating system that keeps the meat in your body alive.) When it’s aware, your ego can become your final authority. It tells you right from wrong. And without it, there are no rules.
This leads you to the fourth stage, which is the fall. It is impossible to avoid this stage, but Genpo says it’s best to hurry through it as quickly as possible. Here you let go of being enlightened and begin the process of integrating the fears and shadows and angers—all of the things that we believe are poisons—into the self. Then, when you think you have fallen completely, the fifth stage is an even more complete descent, during which everything is shattered. Light and dark are fully integrated into the self, and you are able to fluctuate back and forth between the two.
To help himself focus on his priorities, Dr. Shojai intentionally resets his mind and attention several times a day using the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management technique developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo.
Law 14: Miracles Are Possible Only in the Morning How you start the day sets the tone for how you will spend the rest of your day. No matter when you awaken, do not begin your day by reacting to the world around you. That is the path to stress, burnout, and a failed agenda. Put yourself first in the morning, prepare your mind and body for the day, and prioritize the things you will do. Then face the day.
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM).
At Cutco, Hal says, his mentor taught him a technique called the Five-Minute Rule that changed his life. According to this rule, it’s okay to be negative when things go wrong, but not for more than five minutes at a time. To practice this, set a timer and allow yourself up to five minutes to bitch, moan, complain, and vent about something that is annoying you. When the five minutes are up, it’s time to stop putting your energy into something that you can’t change and start focusing on where you want to go and what is within your control to get there.
Hal believes that the key to creating miracles is putting yourself into the best possible mental, physical, and emotional state possible to create optimum results in your life. Hal says that you can most easily access this state in the morning.
He breaks it down into the acronym S-A-V-E-R-S: silence, affirmations, visualizations, exercise, reading, and scribing.
6 Sex Is an Altered State
Certainly it’s one of the three most important things you do, and whether you are a man or a woman it directly impacts your performance in ways you may not realize. Sex affects your hormone levels, your neurotransmitters, your brain waves, and your overall happiness levels, each of which in turn has a direct impact on your ability to perform as a parent, partner, friend, employee, and any other roles you may have or aspire to fill.
Sex is one of the three reasons your body thinks it is alive, so it is a powerful motivating force that can either suck up a ton of your energy or, if you follow the advice in this chapter, supercharge your performance.
Law 15: Stop Thinking with What’s in Your Pants If you’re a man, you need to learn to redirect your sexual energy into being a better human being. Your body uses huge amounts of energy to make sure you help the species reproduce. Instead, put that energy to better uses. Doing so will help you to be happier, live longer, and kick more ass. Your stress will go down and your energy will go up when you teach your body that the world won’t end if you don’t have an orgasm, just as it won’t end if you skip a meal. A craving is a craving, and any craving will take you off your game until you master it.
There was only one activity that prevented these violent urges: sex. When the researchers lit up the same part of the brain while the mice were having sex, nothing happened. But interestingly, once the male mice ejaculated, they went back to being easily provoked. The researchers looked at the mice’s individual neurons and found an overlap between the neurons that were active during fighting and during sex.1 This may have been the first time scientists were able to see on a neuron-by-neuron basis that the same part of the brain is involved in violence and sex.
Being able to fight off predators obviously keeps you alive. And having sex ensures that the species will continue to live.
Psychologists and spiritual masters call this “sublimation”—the act of consciously transforming sexual or any other urge into creativity or physical action.
He claims that a man’s sex drive is the most powerful force he possesses, and several of the high performers I’ve interviewed agree.
So from day 6 to day 12, a woman is more hormonally inclined to want to have sex. John calls this period around ovulation the “love window.”
How can estrogen be stimulated, if not through a woman’s natural hormonal cycle? Gray suggests that one way is through pair bonding. When a woman feels that her partner is meeting her needs (outside of sex), her body is wired to release estrogen.
to feel a sense of connection and support. John suggests that a male partner plan a special date right at the beginning of the “love window.” If a woman feels cared for, her body will release estrogen; if a male partner feels good about meeting her needs, his body will release testosterone.
Christopher Ryan, a coauthor of the bestselling book Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, has changed the way thousands of people view relationships. He says that the idea of monogamy is more cultural than genetic and that human sexuality looks more like the sexuality of our primate relatives the chimps than we’d like to admit.
Instead, he says, monogamy is a decision, not an instinct. He draws a corollary to one of our other hardwired imperatives: eating. Being a vegetarian is not an instinct; it’s a choice.
you are monogamous, no matter how much you love your partner, you’re still going to be attracted to other people. That’s part of being human. And just because you’re attracted to other people or fantasize about other people, that doesn’t mean that there’s a problem with your relationship or with you; it simply means that you’re a Homo sapiens with hormones.
They even had a formula for how often men should ejaculate to maintain youthfulness: (Your age – 7) / 4
When I had fewer ejaculations, I was having a lot more sex, and I liked everything about my life better, which is not what I had been expecting at all. Over the course of the experiment, I experienced my highest levels of satisfaction when I was having a lot of sex but ejaculating only once every thirty days.
Meanwhile, having sex without ejaculating also increases testosterone levels, in this case by up to 72 percent.
Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
Law 16: Never Underestimate the Power of a Female Orgasm If you’re a woman, regular orgasms are one of the keys to showing up fully in your world. When you orgasm, every hormone tied to happiness and performance goes up, your immune system improves, and you get younger. Having orgasms is a skill that can unlock new levels of happiness and even altered states. Changing your game is easier to do when you learn to master your orgasms.
According to her research, women who have regular orgasms have better overall immune system modulation and lower inflammatory markers. This makes sense since the stress hormone cortisol, which decreases in women after they orgasm, causes inflammation. This means that more orgasms lead to less stress, less disease, and less aging—but only for women.
Law 17: Go Off Script During Fairy-Tale Sex Sex is a gateway to flow states and the altered states of high performance. To access these states, you must have the courage to seek experiences that push your boundaries. When you get sex out of your head in order to allow your body to seek what it wants, you can tap into deep levels of freedom, healing, and creativity.
Just thinking about sex is a powerful way to get into a state of flow. During weeklong intensive executive neurofeedback training sessions at 40 Years of Zen, we teach clients one surefire method to use if they get “stuck” trying to create a self-induced flow state during neurofeedback sessions. The easiest and most reliable way to get unstuck and move back into a flow state is to imagine a brief sexual fantasy. As soon as clients start to think about what really turns them on, their brain waves skyrocket, and they get unstuck.
Law 18: Use Sex to Get the Best Drugs Having conscious sex with the right people creates neurochemicals that set you free and create a state of flow. Viewing pornography creates neurochemicals that make you an addict and block the flow state. Porn is the high-fructose corn syrup of sex. Choose wisely.
Bill found that chronic stress had caused his limbic system, the emotional house of the brain, to become overactive. Bill explained that when your limbic system is overactive, you are more likely to make dopamine-driven decisions. This means you are motivated to do things that cause your brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that triggers the reward center of the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of immediate gratification.
Specifically, watching porn causes you to release more dopamine, while having sex with a partner causes you to release more oxytocin.
And just as with addictive drugs, porn seems to cause a tolerance to dopamine, meaning you require more and more of it to feel the same effects.14 As a result, it seems that the more you watch porn, the more stimulation you will eventually require to get turned on.
Cambridge University neuroscientist looked at brain scans of men who believed they were addicted to porn and saw significant changes to their brains’ gray matter that paralleled changes in the brains of drug addicts.17
According to Dr. Lakshmin, yet another problem with porn is that unlike other forms of sex, it does not allow you to access a state of flow. Just as the brain responds to different types of sex by releasing varying amount of chemicals, it responds differently to partnered orgasms and solo orgasms. Namely, when you masturbate you don’t go into an involuntary state. It’s sort of like how you can’t tickle yourself no matter how hard you try. You need to have a partner to surrender fully.
that he could start making better decisions, Dr. Lakshmin calls orgasmic meditation “meditation on speed” because, she says, it works faster to train the limbic system to help you tap into your intuition and feel deeper and more powerful sensations.
7 Find Your Nighttime Spirit Animal
researchers found that the study participants who slept only six and a half hours per night lived longer than those who slept eight hours a night.1
Law 19: Waking Up Early Does Not Make You a Good Person There is no morality in waking up early or staying up late. There is a huge amount of power in finding out when you sleep best and then building your life so that you can sleep.
This is an area of science (chronobiology) that is rapidly developing, and we’re gaining new insights virtually every day into just how much our circadian rhythm affects our health. In fact, in 2017 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to researchers who discovered a new protein that sets our body’s clock.
known about this since 1998, when they isolated the mPer3 gene and found that the first step of this gene’s expression showed a clear circadian rhythm in the SCN.3 Signals from the SCN synchronize miniature circadian clocks throughout the body. In other words, the mPer3 gene determines your sleep drive, and the SCN sets your circadian rhythm.
only mammals have the mPer3 gene,
Yet, somewhat ironically, he recommends an extremely low-tech method for determining your chronotype—simply taking a week off from work and going to sleep and waking up whenever you feel like it. Dr. Wisor believes that your circadian rhythm is such a strong biological drive that it will make itself obvious even within this short time frame.
special light sensor cells in the eye (called melanopsin sensors) that help set circadian rhythm. These light sensors pick up on light frequencies and send messages to the body to emit hormones based on the time of day. Interestingly, light triggers these reactions even in blind people.4 Dr. Panda has identified a single gene that controls the central timing system in the body and found a pair of genes that help keep eating and sleep in sync. That research helps to explain why the intermittent fasting recommendations in the Bulletproof Diet actually work.
According to Dr. Panda, when the sensors in your eyes are exposed to full-spectrum light (such as the sun as it comes up in the morning), they send signals that prime your body to wake up, and when it is dark they signal your body that it’s time to sleep.
is completely dark at night. If the light sensors in your eyes pick up on even small amounts of artificial light at night, it can disrupt your sleep patterns by slowing down melanin production.
Your body breaks serotonin down into melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. If you’re not exposed to enough natural sunlight during the day, you won’t develop enough melatonin to sleep well at night.
Law 20: High-Quality Sleep Is Better than More Sleep Laying your head on a pillow means nothing if you suck at sleeping. You are wasting your life if you need more sleep because you haven’t treated your sleep performance the same way you treat your athletic or job performance. Change how and where you sleep and track your sleep until you’re a world-class sleeper, or face the consequences at work tomorrow and in the hospital years from tomorrow.
They developed a product called Night Shift that patients wear around their necks. Night Shift senses when you are sleeping on your back and vibrates gently so that you change positions.
I also discovered the importance of proper jaw alignment in preventing the airway from collapsing. Over ten years ago, I got a custom splint made that positions my lower jaw forward and has really helped improve my sleep quality and eliminate snoring. It was created by Dr. Dwight Jennings, who has changed the lives of thousands of people—including me—by fixing their jaw alignment with oral appliances.
brain works better because he fixed my bite. The National Institutes of Health gave Dan and Dr. Westbrook a grant to research how they could improve sleep apnea outcomes with oral appliance therapy. They developed a product that serves as a temporary oral appliance and allows patients to try it out and see if they get a good outcome before they spend the money on a custom appliance. They have made this product available for dentists and in hospitals for patients who are recovering from general anesthesia and have the greatest risk of complications from undiagnosed sleep apnea.
When I learned this, I started sleeping on the floor on a very hard one-inch-thick foam pad and found that after a few stiff weeks of adjusting, I slept fantastically well and woke up with zero aches and pains. I sleep on that pad at least four nights a week, which keeps my body working better. (The other nights I’m on a SAMINA mattress.) On long business trips, I will sleep on the floor in hotels that have overly soft mattresses for the simple reason that it helps me get higher-quality sleep in less time. The only hotel mattress I’ve ever found that was as hard as my mat was a traditional Japanese buckwheat mattress in Tokyo, Japan.
This suggests that we need the benefits of gravity to get healthy sleep, and that, like animals in the wild, we should be sleeping with our heads above our hearts.
medical anthropologist Dr. Sydney Ross Singer has studied the effects of inclined sleeping on patients who suffer from migraine headaches.
Dr. Amann-Jennson has observed that in addition to helping relieve migraines and congestion, inclined sleeping lowers blood pressure, reduces water retention and therefore varicose veins, and even has the potential to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Try sleeping on a thin, hard foam pad for a month (I recommend 1-inch-thick high-quality neoprene in 80-by-48-inch sheets, which cost about $150).
Law 21: Go to Sleep Before Your Wake-up Call The highest-performing people who are under the most pressure are the most likely to avoid sleeping, and they pay the highest cost. You can’t kick ass when you’re tired. Sleep isn’t optional.
8 Throw a Rock at the Rabbit, Don’t Chase It
Law 22: Don’t Run Until You Can Walk High-risk sports—including running—don’t make you a better person, but the injuries that come with them are a tax on everything you do as a human being. When you rewire your nervous system to move well, high-risk exercise becomes low risk. And all the energy you waste moving wrong becomes available for you to put to better uses. Exercising for the sake of exercising is not only a waste of time, it’s also bad for you if you do it wrong.
According to Kelly, 80 percent of people who run at least three times a week are injured over the course of a year.
other words, you need to master a movement practice before you can begin an exercise practice.
Kelly and other therapists work with their patients to practice proper patterning, which he describes as pulling the wires through the conduit that has already been laid. You weren’t born with stiff muscles and inflexibility; years of bad habits have caused these problems, but they are fixable.
The number one cause of the problems Kelly sees in his patients is sitting too much.
He agrees with Kelly’s assessment and says that sitting for six or eight hours a day can undo the effects of a one- or two-hour workout.
Try the Egoscue method of exercise (www.egoscue.com) to improve your posture, minimize pain, and enhance your performance.
Law 23: Strong Muscles Make You Smarter and Younger It’s tempting to believe that running a marathon will make you a better human being, and it might the first time you do it because it will increase your willpower. The bigger truth is that too much cardio stresses the body and takes too long to achieve results. High performers exercise efficiently, which means stimulating the right hormones using the right protocols at the right times.
Charles has come to the conclusion that strength training is better for your brain health and overall performance than long-distance aerobic exercise, which he claims ages the brain. That view has really pissed off some people (namely endurance athletes), but it has been verified by some of the latest medical research.
In 2013, scientists looked at what types of exercise were most beneficial for patients who were suffering from Parkinson’s disease.1 In a clinical trial, they tested three forms of exercise: low-intensity treadmill exercise (walking), high-intensity treadmill exercise (running), and a combination of stretching and resistance (weight) training.
As he expected, the patients who did a combination of stretching and weight training had the best results, while some patients also benefited from low-resistance walking on a treadmill.
First of all, aerobic training raises the cortisol (stress hormone) level, which causes inflammation and accelerates aging. A high cortisol level elevates the amount of oxidative substances in the body. These oxidative substances increase inflammation in the brain, heart, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.
Another study in 2011 looked at the effects of cycling on healthy, active young men, and found that it significantly increased cortisol levels and inflammatory markers.3 This is a big deal, since chronic inflammation is at the root of many life-threatening diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.4 It also has a more immediately noticeable link to decreased mental clarity and energy.
Charles and I recommend supplementing with antioxidants and/or probiotics to counter these aging effects of aerobic exercise, but he believes that it’s even more effective to simply add resistance training to your routine. Strength training triggers the release of anabolic hormones that help counter oxidative stress and build muscle, bone, and connective tissue, which also lets you do more cardio without the damage.
The goal during these sessions is to maintain the heart rate that burns mostly fat. For very fit people, this could be as high as 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, but it is more like 60 to 70 percent for most people.
Dr. Sears uses that observation as a metaphor for understanding human health at its most basic level: like plants, humans need more than just food, water, and sunlight to thrive. We also need an environment that stimulates movement.
Law 24: Flexible People Kick More Ass Though stretching doesn’t always lead to visible results, it can change the way you move and perform. A key ingredient of high performance is resilience, and aligning the mind and body through stretching, yoga, or another type of movement is a powerful way of developing that.
Mark explained that one of the things that most helped him change his game was practicing Ashtanga yoga,
Mark’s practice integrates a breathing exercise, mental training (concentration, visualization, or meditation), and functional movement. Those movements can consist of traditional yoga poses, CrossFit, swinging a kettlebell, or anything else that forces you to become aware of your body in space and time and that connects your breathing with movement.
He named his practice Kokoro yoga, after the Japanese concept of the warrior spirit.
Another benefit of Kokoro yoga is detoxification. Twisting poses detoxify your internal organs, and the mental training detoxifies your mind and emotions, allowing for greater focus and concentration. A third physical benefit is flexibility in both joint articulation and muscular flexibility.
Action Items Try a few types of yoga (tight pants optional) to see what works and what teachers resonate with you. Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or “flow,” yoga, and Iyengar are common forms to try.
Recommended Reading Mark Divine with Catherine Divine, Kokoro Yoga: Maximize Your Human Potential and Develop the Spirit of a Warrior
9 You Get Out What You Put In
Law 25: Make Sure You’re Really Hungry for Food People eat when they feel a lack. Sometimes it’s a lack of food. Sometimes it’s a lack of energy. Sometimes it’s a lack of sleep. But too often, it’s a lack of love, connection, or even a feeling of safety. Do whatever it takes to find out when your hunger is for food and when it is for something deeper, and work relentlessly until you are free of whatever makes you feel empty.
Eating for emotional reasons is a problem only when you start doing it to excess. To spot this habit quickly, Cynthia offers the following telltale signs: If you go back for seconds even though you aren’t hungry If you receive exciting news and your first thought is to eat something to celebrate If you are feeling bored and eating sounds like the perfect solution to that feeling If eating makes you feel safe If a friend or loved one makes you upset and you decide that eating a comfort food is the best way to feel better fast If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and seek solace in food If you are feeling disappointed that you slipped up on your diet and decide to indulge in your favorite foods to feel better If you finish eating and can’t remember how your food tasted
Law 26: Don’t Eat like a Caveman, Eat like Your Grandma Ancient wisdom told your ancestors what to eat and how and when to eat it. The Big Food industry replaced that innate knowledge with cheap fast food. Go back to your roots, and pay careful attention to what “your people” ate generations ago. Your genetic background may in part determine the best food for you, and there are food habits that were nearly universal one hundred–plus years ago. Use them.
According to Dr. Sears, your grandmother was at the cutting edge of twenty-first-century biotechnology. Through her ancestors she had accumulated a millennium’s worth of observations about what worked and what didn’t. But after World War II, we started to disregard the wisdom of those observations. Food morphed into a big business. Gone were the “direct from the source,” small-batch days of buying from your local grocer or farmer; after the war, companies mechanized and industrialized the production of food and promised consumers that the “food” they made was not only good for us but also incredibly tasty and cheap. And in the decades since then, we’ve largely pursued those goals without considering the possible downside. Today that downside includes not only record levels of obesity and disease but also alterations to the structure of our genes. These genetic changes are passed from generation to generation; what you eat now will impact your kids’ genes years from now. So eat like your grandmother—or maybe even her mother. It’s not just your health that’s on the line; the next generation is counting on you.
Dr. Mark Hyman, an eleven-time New York Times bestselling author and the director of functional medicine at the famous Cleveland Clinic. He wisely says that food is not just calories; it’s information. It actually contains messages that communicate to every cell in your body and your genes and affect gene expression in real time. This is why it’s so important to focus on the quality of the food you eat. In other words, it’s time to get back to the wisdom of our grandmothers. You don’t have to eat like a caveman, but you do have to eat real food.
Food sources of leucine include dairy, beef, chicken, pork, fish, seafood, nuts, and seeds.
Dr. Shanahan says that we should be calling vegetable oils “liquid death” because they are so chemically unstable and promote the formation of free radicals that can directly damage our DNA, having effects similar to those of radiation. In her interview,
Dr. Shanahan said that eating vegetable oils is like ingesting radiation.
before. Dr. Shanahan says that if you biopsy human fat tissue, it is different from what it was fifty years ago. Today, it is composed of more liquid fat, which is prone to degradation and inflammation.
your body does not have access to healthy fats, it will use whatever fats you’ve eaten to build your brain.
Dr. Shanahan tells her patients that they don’t even know who they are until they rebuild their brains with healthy fats. She says that it usually takes them anywhere from two to six months to feel as though their brains are back on.
Law 27: Feed the Little Bastards in Your Gut The bacteria in your gut control a lot more than you might imagine. They have the power to make you fat, tired, and slow, to give you extra energy to tap into new power, and even to make you depressed. They are in the driver’s seat, and if you treat them poorly, your performance will suffer. When you treat them well, they will serve you. Learn how to make them do your bidding.
The idea that antibiotics are connected to weight gain is not new. In the 1950s, the livestock industry discovered this fact when they fed antibiotics to animals that subsequently got fat. Today, 75 percent of the antibiotics manufactured in the United States are fed to cattle for precisely this reason: it fattens them up for slaughter and enables farmers to save money on feed. Antibiotics cause animals to gain fat even when they consume the same amount of calories as other animals. If cutting calories were the secret to losing weight or it was true that “a calorie is a calorie,” it would be impossible for antibiotics to make cows—or people—fatter on the same number of calories.
artificial sugars also dramatically reduce the diversity of gut bacteria, which explains why people who drink diet soda have higher rates of obesity even though they don’t consume any extra calories. In short: it’s not about the calories; it’s about the microbiome.
Glyphosate changes the human microbiome, affects our ability to utilize vitamin D, and alters how we digest our food. Nearly 19 billion pounds of glyphosate have been released into the environment.
Dr. Mark Hyman says that you basically change your gut microbiome with every bite you eat and that at the end of the day you’re only as healthy as your gut. When you eat, you are literally gardening. Your gut microbiome is your inner garden, and if you fertilize your garden with the right foods, you’re going to grow the right “plants.”
Law 28: If You Get Toxins from Only Nature, You Can Get Nutrients from Only Food You evolved in a clean environment to feel great and live long enough to reproduce as long as you had enough high-quality food. Those days are gone. High performance now requires that you overcome the decline of clean air, food, and water by going beyond what you can get from eating even the most nutritious food. The highest performers use supplements to perform better now and live longer, too. Take your vitamins.
Take Bill Andrews. He’s out to either cure aging or die trying. As the CEO of Sierra Sciences, Bill is one of the world’s top experts on antiaging.
Today, he has found close to nine hundred different chemicals that turn on the telomerase gene. Talk about changing the game!
The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer with Nobel laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn,
major cause of all the ailments that stem from AIDS is accelerated telomere shortening in the immune cells. This is why T-cells disappear in people who are infected with the AIDS virus.
Action Items Cover your bases by taking these supplements: vitamin D3, vitamin K2, vitamin A, magnesium, krill oil/omega-3, copper, zinc, iodine, tyrosine, and methyl vitamin B12 with methyl folate. Supplement with polyphenols extracted from plants. Consider seeing a functional medicine doctor to get your nutrient levels tested. Look for supplement formulas designed to deliver the results you’re seeking, and try them to see if they work for you.
Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer
10 The Future of Hacking Yourself Is Now
Law 29: Track It to Hack It You have the ability to target any state of high performance you choose. Decide what you want to change, measure where you are, and get moving. Check again later. Rinse and repeat. You can surpass previous generations because you have access to more data about yourself and others than was available throughout history. The playing field is more level than it has ever been, and technology will help you correct course when necessary.
those data to your solution. One of the simplest diagnostics Dr. Davis suggests to people is to take their temperature first thing in the morning. Your temperature is a reflection of your thyroid function, and if it’s too low, it’s a good indication that your thyroid is sluggish (that you are hypothyroid).
Law 30: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger Every system in your body benefits from intense, brief bouts of stress followed by recovery. It’s what makes us stronger. Only fearful people choose chronic, unending stress from work, relationships, or the environment around them. Apply the cycling principal to all the stress in your life. Ruthlessly remove useless stressors from everything you do, and from your body itself.
Law 31: Heal like Wolverine, Age like Benjamin Button The most important thing to invest in is not Bitcoin. It’s not the stock market. It’s the investment in your biology that counts. Chronic injuries, chronic pain, and simple aging will slow you down and take away energy from important things. Do what it takes to heal what you have before you replace it or cut it out. Before you go under the knife, exhaust every other possible option. Keep all your systems young.
Dr. Matthew Cook, a cofounder of BioReset Medical,
Another innovation Dr. Cook has developed is a stem cell treatment for trauma. Using an anesthetic nerve block, he carefully injects stem cells next to the vagus nerve to reset the body’s stress response. This procedure is like a hard reset of a computer. It turns off the fight-or-flight nervous system for eight hours; when it comes back on, you are in a “rest and relax” mode.
Dr. Cook also placed cells along my sinuses so they could enter the base of the brain, and within a half hour my vision noticeably improved, and I already had good vision. It was a shockingly effective procedure.
11 Being Rich Won’t Make You Happy, but Being Happy Might Make You Rich
Law 32: You Can Put a Price Tag on Happiness Once your basic needs have been met, focus your energy on doing great things that matter deeply to you. Making more money beyond a basic financial safety threshold does not substantially increase happiness or joy. So roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to know you’ve got your bases covered, and then swing for the fences.
Jay Abraham, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition
Law 33: Wealth Is a Symptom of Happiness Happy people are engaged, productive, and successful. You must focus on what makes you happy today because being happy unlocks a new level of potential in everything you do. Happiness makes it far easier to change your circumstances, your neighborhood, or maybe the whole world.
Law 34: The Less You Have, the More You Gain A certain amount of belongings is necessary and valuable, but society programs you to believe that objects will make you happy. The opposite is true: when you get rid of the things that don’t bring true value and make room in your life for the things that do, you become happier and more content.
Recommended Reading Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher, The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness
12 Your Community Is Your Environment
Law 35: Get High With a Little Help from Your Friends Social interaction impacts your brain chemistry—for better or worse. Seek out a strong community that inspires you, and reap the benefits in all areas of your life. Community leads to happiness, and happiness leads to success.
The hormone is oxytocin. When you get a hit of oxytocin, you are motivated to continue interacting with the other person because it makes you feel good. It works against our built-in fear system, which warns you to be cautious and hide or run away from strangers.
Oxytocin also amplifies empathy, which is a critical component of any authentic human connection. Empathy allows you to imagine another person’s pain. When you feel empathy for someone, you are motivated to treat him or her better because you can put yourself into his or her shoes emotionally. New research shows that only 10 percent of empathy is hardwired. The other 90 percent is a learnable skill.1 Studies also reveal that oxytocin is heavily implicated in the mirror neuron system,2 which makes perfect sense since mirror neurons fire when you act and when you observe someone else completing the same action, as if you were doing it yourself.
Dr. Zak has run hundreds of experiments measuring oxytocin levels in participants’ tissues and blood and manipulating it using oxytocin injections or nasal spray, and has been able to observe that an increase in oxytocin makes people more generous and trusting and less suspicious. It also makes them better able to read social cues.
Once it is stimulated, your brain’s production of oxytocin stays active for about twenty minutes. During that time, the divide between you and others is narrowed. Your ego recedes into the background, and you see more commonality than division between you and your fellow humans.
Face-to-face communication stimulates the greatest oxytocin release. Videoconferencing is second best, then talking on the phone, then texting, and finally social posting. Empathy is actually decreasing in the younger generations because of their reliance on technology to connect with friends and peers.3
interactions, and so should you. Another great benefit of oxytocin is that it reduces your stress response and dramatically boosts your happiness.
Action Items Shake less, hug more. Physical contact stimulates oxytocin release. Schedule a massage to raise your oxytocin. Videoconference instead of calling when you can. Take the time to meet face-to-face when you can.
Recommended Reading Paul J. Zak, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies
Law 36: You Are a Reflection of Your Community Create a safety net of people who will be there for you when you need them long before you ever need them. Make sure they bring out the best in you and push you to think bigger and be better. The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Choose them carefully.
It turns out that happiness is literally contagious. In a longitudinal study of nearly five thousand people, researchers saw that happy people cluster together, and the relationship between people’s happiness extends up to three degrees of separation (for example, to the friends of one’s friends’ friends).
Being part of a community also creates a sense of safety, which is calming for your primitive brain.
says that he doesn’t like hanging out with like-minded people because they don’t help him grow. He prefers seeking out like-hearted people who are accepting of him but think differently. And he said it while wearing his wife’s leopard-skin tights.
The goal isn’t to change your mind or convince someone else to change theirs. Rather, it’s to land in a space in between, which JP says is the definition of understanding and tolerance.
Law 37: No Relationship Is an Island Your intimate relationships have the power to drive you to new levels of success or failure. Fix or end a bad relationship to free up energy so you can do what matters most to you. Invest in any type of great relationship that works for you in order to unlock more power than being alone. Ignore tradition if it doesn’t serve you, but seek the support of your community. The relationship that serves you will be stronger and last longer with a community backing it.
No matter the type of relationship, Esther stresses the importance of community.
Recommended Reading Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
13 Reset Your Programming As I looked
Law 38: Own the Voice in Your Head The critical voice in your head holds you back. It causes you pain, distracts you, and limits your potential. Meditation can help you understand when the voice in your head is distracting you with lies and when it’s helping you. There is no excuse for living your life without owning the voice in your head. Meditate. Your happiness and performance are waiting for a huge upgrade.
Meditation has also been shown to strengthen the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in decision making.
When you begin meditating, try to step back from your brain for a moment and observe your thoughts with curiosity.
When you are triggered, you think that a stimulus is making you feel a certain way, but there’s a system inside your head that interprets data from the outside from a fear-based perspective and translates it into a feeling. Your mitochondria, after all, want you to notice and obsess over potential dangers. But that just keeps you stuck in a vicious cycle of fear and reaction. The fear is what gets our attention and prompts us to take action.
With repetition and time, new neural pathways will develop that favor being happy, calm, peaceful, focused, and creative as opposed to reactive, angry, and resistant. Bill admits that he used to be really angry,
Recommended Reading Dan Harris, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story Vishen Lakhiani, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms
Law 39: Hijack Your Body’s Attention Your breath controls your brain and your heart because a lack of oxygen will get your body’s attention faster than anything. Train your body to stay calm during stressful situations by using your breath to your benefit. Train your body to use oxygen better. There is untapped energy available when your body stops stressing and gets more oxygen. Unconscious breathing lessens your impact in the world. And you are here to make an impact.
The reason this technique is so effective is that it optimizes the vascular system, which enables your body to distribute oxygen to the cells and throughout the bloodstream more effectively. This brings your resting heart rate down and reduces stress on your body. Your respiration rate (breath) directly affects your heart rate, and gradual exposure to cold slows the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (your fight-or-flight response). In other words, deep breathing in the cold calms the heart rate and alleviates stress in the body. Wim says that when we do this, we bring the body from a mode of stress and anxiety to relief mode, which leads to a surplus of energy that the body can use to heat and heal itself.
To do his breathing technique, sit down, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Make sure you’re in a position where you can freely expand your lungs. Wim suggests doing this practice right after waking up, when your stomach is still empty. Warm up by inhaling deeply and drawing the breath in until you feel a slight pressure. Hold the breath for a moment before exhaling completely, pushing the air out as much as you can. Hold the exhalation for as long as you can. Repeat fifteen times.
Next, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth in short, powerful bursts, as if you’re blowing up a balloon. Pull in your belly when exhaling, and let it expand when you inhale. Do this about thirty times at a steady pace, until you feel that your body is saturated with oxygen. You may feel light-headed or tingly or experience a surge of energy that’s literally electric. Get a sense of which parts of your body are overflowing with energy and which ones are lacking it—and where there are blockages between those two extremes. As you continue breathing, send the breath to those blockages.
Law 40: Hurry! Meditate Faster Meditation costs you only the time and energy it takes to do it. The return is higher performance and happiness. Get a better return on your meditation investment by reducing the time it takes and increasing your benefits. Meditate. But once you know the basics, meditate better.
14 Get Dirty in the Sun I would
Law 41: Make Your Environment Less like a Farm and More like a Zoo Most people live in a domesticated environment that is economically useful and efficient but devoid of the type of energy that can power you to new levels. Spend more time outdoors. See trees. Smell plants. Taste real food. Sweat in the sun. Shiver when it’s cold. Give your nervous system a taste of the environment it evolved in so you can reap the returns as your biology changes to increase your performance.
Daniel uses the term “rewilding” to refer to the idea of restoring something to its natural, uncultivated state.
And Daniel claims that humans today are not actually Homo sapiens but rather a domesticated subspecies he calls Homo sapiens domestico fragilis.
This rewilding process entails taking a look at your lifestyle and asking yourself how you can reinstate some of the things that are natural to our species.
Daniel believes we can instead create a human zoo—a place that promotes an animal’s maximum health, the expression of its wild behavior, and the preservation of its genetics so that the animal can live a long life. To live in a zoo, you must re-create a habitat and diet that’s as similar to the wild version as possible, even though it can be only an approximation.
Action Items Get some indoor plants. (Be sure to get organic plants without pesticide on them and control for mold growth in the soil. I use Homebiotic spray, which contains natural soil bacteria that combat indoor fungus.) Go for a hike in nature every time you travel.
Law 42: Allow Your Body to Make Its Own Sunscreen Sunlight is a nutrient. Just as eating too much food can give you diabetes, getting too much sunlight can give you cancer. But replacing sunlight with junk light is like replacing real food with junk food. You will perform better and live longer when real, unfiltered sunlight bathes your naked skin and enters your eyes for at least twenty minutes a day. It will improve your sleep, act as an antidepressant, and give you more energy. Sunlight is not optional.
Recently, scientists have discovered mysterious cell structures called microtubules that are required for you to build new mitochondria and move them around in neurons,1 and it turns out that EZ water is essential to movement within microtubules. There
You get EZ water naturally when you drink raw vegetable juices, fresh spring water, or glacial melt water, and it forms spontaneously when regular water is vibrated or blended.
Recent research by Dr. Pollack shows that even more EZ water forms when you blend butterfat into water. Better yet, EZ water forms in your cells when you expose your skin (and your eyes, the gateways to the brain) to unfiltered sunlight for a few minutes every day without sunglasses, clothing, or sunscreen.
it’s 1,200-namometer light that creates EZ water, although sunlight also has other spectra with beneficial effects.
Dr. Seneff says that melanoma rates have increased in step with the increased use of sunscreen. Though causality has not been proven, there is a strong correlation between sunscreen use and melanoma, which doesn’t make sense since sunscreen is supposed to protect you from the harmful sun’s rays. But Dr. Seneff explains that the connection actually goes back to glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, which, she says, disrupts the skin’s natural ability to protect itself from the sun.
Gut microbes normally produce tryptophan and tyrosine, amino acids that serve as precursors of melanin, the dark compound in tan or dark-skinned types. They are meant to soak up UV light and protect you from any damage it might cause. But when your food is exposed to glyphosate, it affects your gut microbes and they cannot produce enough of these amino acids. Your natural mechanisms for sun protection stop functioning. This contributes to dangerous sunburns and/or melanoma—not because of exposure to the sun itself but because of exposure to chemicals that kill off the bacteria you need to protect yourself from the sun.
need plenty of polyphenols (compounds from brightly colored plants) in your diet for your skin to manufacture melanin because melanin is made out of cross-linked polyphenols.
Dr. Pollack told me about an experiment in his lab in which he flowed water through a narrow tube. When he exposed the water to UV light, it flowed through the tube five times faster. If your blood and lymphatic fluid can flow through your narrow capillaries more quickly, you will experience less chronic inflammation. The tiny microtubules in your mitochondria also benefit from this “turbocharge” effect when you are exposed to sunlight.
There is another reason that vitamin D is so important: vitamin D deficiency can lead to sleep disorders. In fact, studies show that the epidemic of sleep disorders is caused in part by widespread vitamin D deficiency.
And please, please do not take vitamin D3 unless you also take vitamin K2. New research shows that taking vitamin D3 without having enough K2 in your diet may calcify tissues over decades, and some preformed vitamin A (not just beta-carotene) can help balance these ratios.
exposure to natural light is not an option, try to find an indoor full-spectrum light that emits at least 2,500 lux (lux is a unit of light) without using LED lights. Set your lights at eye level and angle them away from your direct field of vision.
Law 43: Bathe in the Forest Instead of the Tub Our society’s obsession with cleanliness has led to a dramatic reduction in our gut biodiversity, which has a negative impact on our overall health and happiness. It is not necessary or beneficial to be 100 percent sanitary all the time. For optimum health and happiness, get dirty, bathe in nature, and keep yourself no more than moderately clean.
A few years later, neuroscientists at the University of Bristol injected the same bacterium into mice and found that it activated groups of neurons in the mouse brains responsible for producing serotonin. That boosted serotonin levels in the brain to similar levels as antidepressant medications. So instead of taking medications with well-known and well-documented side effects, it’s possible to get similar results from tending to your organic garden.
medicine is the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. In this tradition, people immerse themselves in the beauty of the forest.
Forest bathing can also decrease sympathetic nerve activity, blood pressure, and heart rate.7 Forest bathing also boosts immunity. This may be due in part to increased biodiversity from spending time in nature. In addition, many evergreen trees give off aromatic compounds called phytoncides that increase natural killer (NK) cells, your immune system’s lead defense against viruses and disease. NK cells are suppressed by chronic exposure to stress hormones, which can lead to a weakened immune system and even cancer. But NK cell activity is always higher after forest bathing and rises as your body is exposed to more phytoncides.
Cognitively, forest bathing improves mood and increases mental performance and creative problem solving.8 It’s possible that some essential oils from evergreen trees contain these compounds, too.
Recommended Reading Maya Shetreat-Klein, The Dirt Cure: Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child
15 Use Gratitude to Rewire Your Brain
Basically, life takes less work when you practice gratitude
Law 44: Gratitude Is Stronger than Fear Overcoming fear that does not serve you is necessary to access your greatness. Courage works, but it takes a lot of energy to maintain. Save courage for when your life is actually on the line. The rest of the time, use gratitude to turn off fear at the cellular level. Freedom from fear leads to happiness, and happiness is what makes you perform your best at whatever you choose to do.
Dr. Porges changed the face of medicine when he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, which links the autonomic nervous system to social behavior and provides a physiological explanation for behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders.
Known as the “wandering nerve” (vagus is Latin for “wandering”), the vagus nerve starts at your brain stem and wanders throughout the body, connecting your brain to your stomach and digestive tract, as well as your lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver, and kidneys. The vagus nerve’s main job is to monitor what’s going on in your body and report information back to your brain.
The strength of your vagus nerve activity is known as your vagal tone. If you have a high vagal tone, you are able to relax more quickly after experiencing a moment of stress. Low vagal tone is the opposite and can keep you in a chronic state of fight or flight.
One way to enhance vagal tone is through social interaction.
Children and dogs are perfect examples of this. They are needy and respond lovingly to our care, and that makes us feel good and want to continue caring for them.
Another human experience that impacts vagal tone is feeling gratitude. Dr. Porges explains that when you’re in a state of gratitude, your nervous system is bathed in cues of safety. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint—you’re not going to feel grateful when a tiger is chasing you. But you need more than just the absence of a tiger to feel grateful.
He suggests that there is a decision process of sorts that determines how your body responds to perceived danger. You are not conscious of this process—it happens in the background, and different branches of the vagus nerve activate in response to different situations.
When you experience a frightening stimulus, your body responds first to social communication: verbal language, body language, vocal tone, and other nonverbal cues.1 If the stimulus is too strong for these responses to provide adequate comfort, your brain activates your stress hormones—your fight-or-flight response. If you have poor vagal tone and are not able to return to baseline, you may freeze completely and become unable to act. Dr. Porges suggests that this is common in survivors of trauma or abuse.
One of these safety cues is to use a soothing voice.
Another way to activate a safety cue for your brain is to imagine your happy place. I know this sounds cliché, but it works. To do this effectively, you’ll need to determine a “safe place” or “happy place” while you’re calm.
Practice this visualization often. That way, when you start feeling fearful or angry, you can conjure up your “safe place” without much effort. It’s there for you when you need it.
Dr. Epel told me about a study she did with the mitochondria researcher Dr. Martin Picard at Columbia University. They examined participants’ blood to determine the activity of their mitochondrial enzymes. These chemicals play an important role in producing energy for your cells. Dr. Epel and Dr. Picard found that as a group, caregivers—such as mothers who had a child with a chronic condition—had reduced enzyme activity. Yet within that group there were some notable exceptions.
help people improve their mood and not wake up anticipating stress, Dr. Epel suggests that they think of something they are grateful for in the evening before bed. That simple gratitude exercise could potentially boost the participants’ mitochondrial enzymes and made them happier.
Are you carrying that perceived danger or threat with you throughout the day and ruminating over it? Are you putting yourself into a state of fight or flight by anticipating stress before it happens?
value gratitude so much that I don’t save it for Team Bulletproof. Every night before bed since my kids were old enough to talk, I’ve been asking them to relate an “act of kindness,” something they did that day to help another person. Their vagal tone increases when they recall something nice they’ve done.
Stephen W. Porges, The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe
Law 45: Forgive, but Don’t Be Sorry Gratitude by itself improves your performance. But the most advanced performers know that gratitude is also the doorway to forgiveness. When you forgive, you reprogram your nervous system to no longer automatically react to memories of past trauma, suffering, and perceived slights. To forgive, identify the false stories you tell yourself, then find a way to be grateful for even the worst things you’ve experienced. You don’t have to say you’re sorry to forgive. Forgiveness is the single most powerful upgrade to human performance. Forgive with the same intensity you bring to your mission in life, and you will access new levels of energy and happiness.
Finding gratitude even for the corrosive jerks in your life, on the other hand, will actually boost your happiness. Having a thick skin isn’t very useful, because it forces you to keep taking hits, it blocks positive emotions, and it is energetically expensive to build and maintain your thick skin. When you can learn to feel gratitude and compassion for a jerk, however, his or her behavior will pass right through you without costing you any energy. That is called forgiveness. The best part, of course, is that showing and actually feeling gratitude for a jerk makes that person even madder than when you ignore him or her.
Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek fame what three pieces of advice he’d have for someone who wanted to perform better as a human being. He replied with a quote from B. J. Miller, a palliative care physician who is a triple amputee: “Don’t believe everything you think.” Tim says that when people question their deep-rooted philosophies and basic assumptions, they very often find them to be completely off base. He experienced this in his own life. In response to BJ’s advice, he started telling himself: Don’t retreat into the story. If you wake up in a funk or you’re in a depressive period and you retreat into a disabling story about yourself or the world, you are never going to be able to change the game.
phrase affirmations in a positive way—focused on doing something rather than not doing something—Tim says that don’t retreat into the story has worked well for him. It’s like a stop sign that he uses to interrupt the pattern of self-deception.
The positively phrased version of that would be “See things as they actually are, and live in that world.” You can do both!
Therefore, Tony says that anytime a business is not growing or a person is not succeeding, it’s not because it’s impossible. It’s because that person has a story about why his or her strategy isn’t working. As Tony says, “If you can just divorce the story of your limitation and marry the truth of your unlimited capacity, then the whole game changes.” Having met Tony and shared his stage, I can assure you that there is no one who lives that motto more!
The truth of the matter is that the stories that are holding you back are all the result of past traumas when your nervous system believed you were seriously threatened. Trauma is held in the body. The stories exist as your body’s primitive way of making sure you don’t fall victim to the same situation again. Feeling gratitude and offering true forgiveness is the way to untangle these stories and see things as they really are.
Recommended Reading Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!
Law 46: Use the Tools of Gratitude Don’t leave gratitude to chance. Take advantage of simple, effective tools to build gratitude into your day the same way you build in exercise or healthy food. Gratitude is a muscle. Exercise it.
UJ says that answering these questions first thing in the morning allowed him to take advantage of the primacy effect, the idea that doing something as soon as you wake up has a disproportionate effect on your entire day. The second and third questions prime the brain to anticipate positive actions and results, which boosts feelings of gratitude. For example, UJ says that when people think they are going to watch their favorite movie, their endorphin levels automatically increase. Anticipation is therefore an incredible source of well-being and happiness, as long as
Tony says he spends just three minutes thinking about three things he’s grateful for and visualizing each one of them in great sensory
After doing this for three minutes, Tony does a three-minute blessing, during which he imagines life, God, or energy coming into his body, healing every muscle and nerve, and strengthening his passion, love, generosity, creativity, and humor. Then he visualizes any problem he’s facing as being solved. Once he feels that fully, he imagines a circle of energy around himself, his intimate family, and his friends.
Last, he thinks of three specific outcomes that matter to him, and instead of thinking about achieving them, he sees, feels, and experiences them as done and imagines the impact that completing them would have. He sees people’s lives being touched and experiences their joy, and he feels grateful. This entire practice should take about ten minutes, but Tony says that he often lets it go for fifteen or twenty minutes because he’s having such a good time.
KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL This is probably the most popular gratitude practice, in part thanks to UJ’s Five Minute Journal app.
PRACTICE MINDFULNESS Slow your life down.
RETHINK A NEGATIVE SITUATION Here’s an old parable. A farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbors said, “What a shame!” He said, “Maybe.” The next day, the horse came back, and it brought more wild horses with it. The neighbors said, “How wonderful!” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day, a horse stepped on the farmer’s son’s arm, breaking it. The neighbors said, “How horrible!” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day, the government came to the village, drafting people for the war. They passed over the farmer’s son because of his broken arm. “How wonderful!” the neighbors said. The farmer said, “Maybe.”
APPRECIATE ACTIVELY Look for opportunities to be grateful throughout your day. This is especially useful when you’re having a bad day or find yourself focusing on negative emotions. This isn’t about being fake or lying to yourself. It’s about actively looking for things in your life that you authentically appreciate. This might start out as just being grateful for your (buttered!) cup of coffee every morning, the fact that you’re healthy, or the fact that you have two working legs.
FILL A GRATITUDE JAR This is a play on journaling but a bit more creative. Choose a large jar or a fishbowl, and as a family (or by yourself), write down what you’re grateful for each day and pop it into the bowl. As the bowl fills, it will serve as a physical representation of all the things you have to be grateful for.
PRACTICE GRATITUDE WITH LOVED ONES Share your gratitude as a family at the dinner table.
TAKE A GRATITUDE WALK Go for a walk (bonus points if you get some sunshine at the same time), and pay close attention to everything you see and experience.
WRITE A THANK-YOU NOTE Write a letter of love and gratitude to someone who has touched your life in a big or small
PRACTICE COMBINING GRATITUDE AND FORGIVENESS You can carry around a lot of stress—even unconsciously—from anger and hurt.
My first answer is something that has profoundly changed my life. I teach it to my kids, to my team at Bulletproof, and to world-class executives at 40 Years of Zen. That thing is the power of gratitude. Simply telling my wife and my kids about three things that I’m grateful for every day has completely shifted my attitude and given me more energy to put toward all of my endeavors.
My second most important piece of advice is to understand your wiring and the fact that you have a mitochondrial network that wants you to do three things in order: run away and hide from or kill scary things, eat everything you can, and reproduce. Once you acknowledge the fact that you have a built-in intelligence that moves faster than you can think, encouraging you to prioritize these three things over everything else, the amount of shame and guilt you experience will be reduced tremendously. If you fall down on any of these three things, it’s okay. You’re built to do that. Now get up and try those things again but with yourself in charge instead of the primitive consciousness living inside you. Once you reach this level of acceptance, you can put that energy toward things that energize you instead of the things that make you weak. For many game changers, including me, this includes a mission I am passionate about.
Finally, I want you to understand that your body doesn’t listen to you very well, except when it comes to gratitude and love. Fortunately, it does listen to the environment around you. This may sound scary, but it actually gives you a tremendous amount of control.
Updated Jan 06, 2019:
Recommended Reading Bruce H. Lipton, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles