This is what matters
Feed your mind
The body is here to carry around your brain. The brain is the treasure chest for your life. Learn how to protect it, grow it using the compound effect, and use or spend it’s capital at will for good.
This belief isn’t intended to persuade anyone into ignoring the body. It’s essential to understand so that you learn to strengthen the body in a way that increases longevity, and preserves your physical health so the brain and mind have more time to work. Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted as saying “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75”. Well we want both of those things to happen right around the same age, and we want them both to happen past age 85 instead.
Sticking with more of Benjamin Franklin’s words, it makes sense to cover the three phases we need to focus on most to keep feeding our mind, and living a long and healthy life. Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. All three words can be twisted to mean different things so I’ll briefly define what each one means to me before getting into how to cultivate each.
The first big factors of feeding your mind are feeding it healthy blood, oxygen and energy through exercise. Then feeding your mind the right diet through what you eat.
There are many reasons I am a huge Dr. Andrew Weil follower, but one of them is he makes it a clear point to define health as often as possible before going into why it matters, and how to encourage or achieve it. In his book Health and Healing he commits 12 pages to defining health as he sees it. As Dr. Weil goes on to explain in the book, “The root meaning of health is wholeness.” He goes further to show the words cure, care, treat, and medicine all have roots that suggest they intend, “thoughtful action to establish order.” To be truly healthy by the meaning of the word means to live in a state of wholeness and perfect, dynamic balance of equilibrium of all the elements and forces making up and surrounding a human being… but since perfect health by the true meaning of the word is unattainable for now, we settle for the constant pursuit of achieving health as best we can. We strive to treat and care for our health using “thoughtful action to establish order.” So similar to how happiness is not so much excitement as it is contentment, health is not so much perfection as it is balance and wholeness.
The reason understanding how to define health is so important, is because a good understanding of the definition may be all you need to improve your life. For example, taking the definition of health into consideration (balance and wholeness) are you exercising properly to improve your health?
Maybe you’re someone who works hard daily.. but your hard work is spent doing the same routine or exercise everyday. You’re definitely ahead of the pack, but remember to strive for balance in your routine. This means not just doing the same exercises, as well as taking breaks and days off if you are working out everyday. We are striving to improve the health of our body but to stay away from the point of diminishing returns. This is the point where we are no longer improving our health, and we are only beating up our body, joints, muscles, and decreasing longevity.
Mix it up. If you ran today, bike tomorrow. Do weights the next day, and yoga the day after that. In my post titled Be Free I talk about how important it is to use free weights regularly for strength and balance. Don’t just change it up, but also mix it in with everyday life. Walk or bike somewhere instead of driving. Walk your dog more often, or take all calls during a walk. Exercise is one of the only areas of life where consistency is more about doing something consistently, not so much about doing the same thing repeatedly.
To dig in further about how we need to revitalize our workouts by remembering the brain is what matters, we can take a look at the connection between physical work and brain health. A Business Insider article published in 2017 goes into detail explaining how aerobic exercise is the number one form of physical exercise for our brain. Writer Erin Brodwin explains, “aerobic exercise— has a significant, overwhelmingly beneficial impact on the brain.” He continues, ”Aerobic workouts can also help people who are suffering from clinical depression feel less stressed by helping to reduce levels of the body's natural stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.” This works by increasing blood flow to the brain giving our mind fresh oxygen and energy.
I said before, there are many reasons I am a Dr. Weil follower.. it’s no surprise he also has great input on how we should eat for better brain health. In talking about a diet for better brain health Dr. Weil discusses, “A study from Spain found that adding olive oil and nuts to a Mediterranean diet slowed declines in cognitive function”.. “During the four-year study, the researchers looked for cognitive changes by asking the participants to perform a series of neuropsychological tests. They focused on changes in memory, attention and executive function (the ability to plan and execute mental tasks), and global cognition.” Dr. Weil has worked hard developing what he feels is the healthiest diet in the world, modeled after the Mediterranean diet. I discuss Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet in my post How I Eat.
Wealth can often be defined as an abundance of valuable possessions or money.. this to me is a toxic definition. Let’s re-define it. From now on, wealth is defined as a gratitude and abundance mentality. Therefore, to be wealthy you just need to practice gratitude and cultivate an abundance mentality… that wasn’t so hard right? Bet you thought it would take much longer for you to become wealthy.
But seriously, as is health in general, wealth is a life-long practice and pursuit. I summed up my idea of wealth while sitting in class at Quinnipiac when I first wrote my declaration of self-reliance. To correctly cultivate a wealthy mindset you need to feed your mind with the right language and story. Tony Robbins commonly refers back to one of the most important lessons from his mentor Jim Rhon which was, “stand guard at the door of your mind.” This is all about being selective about how you feed your mind. Jim Rhon understood that it is too easy to let variables around us infiltrate our mind, and if we let this happen too often we will be thrown off track.
This is why you have to become a ninja with how skilled you are mentally.
There are a few masters you can learn from. Three of my favorites are Tony Robbins, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Viktor Frankel.
Tony Robbins is a master of psychology, business, mindset, relationships.. and whatever else he feels like tackling..
Don Miguel Ruiz sums up his approach to feeding your mind in the Four Agreements. And while his book is excellent and well worth reading, I’ll make life even easier for you. Just take his second agreement Don’t Take Anything Personal. Learn to master that, and you can forget the others. If you can learn to take nothing personal you will be free.
Last and by far the most important is Viktor Frankel. His book Man’s Search For Meaning you are not aloud to skip or read just once, this book must be read over and over.. In short, Frankel was put into the worst hell a person could imagine, Nazi concentration camps where nearly all of his friends and family were killed, and still.. while there he learned to keep his purpose in mind, and to stand guard at his mind. Not letting toxic thoughts or events corrupt or take the one thing that is truly his, his mind. Frankel would survive, and later create Logotherapy, a field founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one's life, that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. Read this book. It’s never a bad time. Quick tip, after you read it once you can skip the first half which details his stay in the concentration camps.. Part 2 which starts on page 97 goes into his approach to mindset and how to practice it. Though it certainly puts in perspective how strong a man Frankel was when you consider I don’t even want to read about the concentration camps more than once… but he lived it, and was still able to find meaning and purpose in his life to stay mentally wealthy.
We got into it quite a bit already but I wanted quickly outline a couple of great practices to implement to improve your wealth, and feed your mind. Amazingly… people still underestimate how powerful these approaches are because they are so simple. Yoga is just stretching, surely this can’t change my life, journaling is just writing, I’m positive answering a question won’t make me happy, and breathing is something I do everyday without thinking why would practicing it help me in any way?.. If you have any of these thoughts, go back and re-read this post from the top. Start practicing everything I outline here, and continue doing so until you understand the importance of every one of these approaches.
Meditation & breathing
Don’t knock it until you try it. I lump meditation and breathing together because too often people think they are supposed to feel meditation and that it needs to be some experience that transcends them. Get over that idea.. just think about sitting and thinking about breathing for 10-15+ minutes. That’s all it is. If you can do that daily, and yes daily is an important factor here, but if you can do that consistently you will eventually notice the incredible benefits. I brought up how important this practice is in The healthy habit every smoker does, that you don’t.
This is another topic I covered in my post Get Rich Quick. So I won’t waste time here. Go read that post and learn all about why journaling is so important. I cover exactly how I do it, including examples of my journal and the specific questions I fill out every morning and night.
This is not just stretching. I’m not trying to get all cliche and funky spiritual talk but I’m being serious when I say yoga is the only way to practice something that is simultaneously feeding your body and your mind to the highest level. I won’t belabor the point, but once you do it you will understand what I mean. Some people just need to try it once to understand it, and others it may take years. But the best part is even if it just feels like stretching to you, you are ahead of the game. Stretching is an amazing practice so keep stretching. But I strongly encourage everyone to learn and practice yoga as often as they can. Ideally once a week at least. And once you get the basics, feel free to do this on your own, but when getting started make sure you are taught by a professional who can introduce different forms of yoga, walk you through the purpose of the classes, and ensure you are using proper technique before you go pull a hamstring trying to do something wild on your own. And it just so happens I know someone quite good who holds classes regularly for as cheap as you will find. Nicole is a certified yoga instructor and because she has just graduated to become an instructor her classes are extremely cheap right now so take advantage! She would love to help you get started with yoga, sign up for classes on her site here.
Just about everything mentioned here is so powerful, yet so subtle you may not realize any benefits until you fall off the wagon and stop journaling, or meditating or doing anything. That’s when you will start to go a few days and notice you are angry, or stressed, and feel like you have no time… these are all related to not using the best practices I outlined above. Go back, and practice some more I promise one if not all of these approaches will help you.
Finally, feeding your mind with knowledge. When asked how to get smarter, Buffett once held up stacks of paper and said he "read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge builds up, like compound interest."
Of course reading is the best practice here, and one you have to implement if you want to quickly expand your knowledge over time. Read books that interest you all the time. Subscribe to great blogs and read those too as long as they aren’t too shallow and uninformative. Some of my favorites are The Daily Stoic, Tim Ferriss, Mr. Money Mustache, and Ryan Holiday to get you started. But read over and over.. Buffet was spot on when he explained how he takes advantage of compound interest not only with his financial investments but with his mental investments. You must learn consistently to truly take advantage of the insane benefits.
But do not limit yourself to books only of course. I would argue learning in a hands on manner can be far more powerful in many ways than a book. Only because most people will read something amazing, and never put it into action. So learn from that mistake and do both. Don’t just read, take action from what you read and implement it to your life in a hands on approach. This is how you truly learn and ingrain knowledge deep in your mind.
You can also listen to audio, podcasts, watch youtube, watch documentaries, take classes, and just go out and try new things on your own.
If you do it right, problems start to become tremendous opportunities. That's when you know you are getting wise. You understand that everything is a learning opportunity. Your broken toilet is a perfect time to learn how to fix or potentially replace a toilet on your own. Same with the broken anything you encounter. And any big problem you are facing in life wether it is physical or mental, or emotional… I bet it’s a great time to learn a new approach to handle life better. Remember Viktor Frankel… the guy went through concentration camps and still was able to come out a mental ninja. I am confident you will be able to learn whatever you need to overcome whatever “obstacle” you face.
Finally, when learning how to feed your mind the point is to be proactive here. Time and time again people will say, but you aren’t depressed! Why meditate, or journal, or eat healthy, or anything? This is a terrible mindset. Everything we do is intended to be proactive and preventive. It doesn’t mean we can avoid all pitfalls, but it means we can avoid most of them and more importantly when we do face obstacles, since we are seasoned vets in feeding our minds we will be able to move through and bounce back much quicker from anything that knocks us off balance.
The brain is what matters.
To utilize this understanding it takes great practice to feed your mind in order to become truly healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Learn more on this:
Audio: Tony Robbins
Video: Dr. Weil
Article: Dr Rhonda Patrick