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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life.

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life.
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life.




+1: #923 Prosper = “to Go Forward Hopefully”

In our last couple +1s, we took a quick look at some of my recent attempts to cool-ify and kid-ify the idea that delaying gratification via saving/investing money is awesome. Today I want to step back and share one of my absolute favorite wisdom gems on the subject of money/abundance/etc. It’s from Eric Butterworth’s wonderful book Spiritual Economics. In that +1, we redefined some key terms. Actually… Let’s have a little pop quiz!! Do you remember what the words prosperity,...


+1: #922 Compounding Cash (for Kids)

In our last +1, we talked about how I’m attempting to make the idea of saving and investing money much cooler than constantly spending money. Me: “Wouldn’t it be cool to own parts of Amazon (and Whole Foods) and Apple and…?!” Emerson: “YES!!!” Today we’re going to talk about Part 2 of that series by talking about the Magic of Money Multiplying via the power of Compounding Cash. As I scratched the beard I just shaved trying to think of the best way to sell the idea that...


+1: #921 Cool- (+Kid-)ifying Investing

Not too long ago, we started giving Emerson $10 every week. It was Alexandra’s idea to start giving him some money that he could use as he pleased. Problem was, he basically immediately spent it on snacks and/or little things from the local toy store. Uh… Not quite what we had in mind. So… Although I’m far from being a financial planning expert, I wanted to figure out a way to teach him some of the principles we discuss in our little series on the FIRE movement, starting...


+1: #920 Borrowed Energy

In one of our very first Notes, we took a quick look at Brendan Brazier’s The Thrive Diet. I read the book when it came out nearly a dozen years ago. Loved it. Then Brendan and I met at an event, became friends, etc. If you’re looking for ideas on how to be a high-performance plant-based athlete/human, I think you’ll enjoy Brenden and his work. He’s a former professional endurance athlete and the formulator (and cofounder) of the Vega nutrition brand. Today we’re going to chat...


+1: #910 Sweeping Our Own Porches

Today is, of course, October 2nd, 2019. Let’s hop in a time machine. Destination: 150 years ago: 1869. Cars don’t exist yet. Neither do phones. (Let alone a smartphone.) So… Imagine me sending this to you via telegram as we appreciate all the marvels of modern life. 150 years ago Today a great soul was born: Mohandas Gandhi. Let’s celebrate by taking a moment to reflect on his iconic “Be the change you want to see” wisdom. We’ll let another great soul who spent...


+1: #909 Creative Hiccups

In our last +1, we hung out with Steven Kotler and talked about flow junkies while smashing together two ancient words (“hedonic” + “eudaimonic”!) to feel the joy that comes when we make our actualization instantly awesome. I mentioned the fact that spending 4.75 hours in a Deep Work flow bubble led to a feeling of hedonically eudaimonic bliss. What I didn’t mention was the fact that there were a couple of hiccups during the day when I almost let my “I don’t feel like it”...


+1: #908 Hedonic Eudaimonia

Yesterday afternoon I was having my last meal of the day at 3:15pm (go glymph!!) before my 3:30 physical therapy appointment with the wonderful Dr. Julie. I was looking at the mountain and reflecting on how good I felt after a day filled with 4.75 hours of Deep Work Flow. Then I smiled as I thought about the fact that I’m definitely a Flow Junkie. Flow junkie? Yep. That’s a Steven Kotler phrase. We talked about a couple years ago in this +1. Recap of the basic...


+1: #907 “How Am I THAT?”

Continuing our exploration of using interpersonal challenges as fuel for our flames and brightness, let’s talk a little more about how to alchemize interactions with people we perceive to be challenging. This little passage from Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr’s great book The Power of Full Engagement has been lodged in my brain since I read it nearly a decade ago. They tell us: “Difficult and unpleasant as it may be to accept, we often feel most hostile to those who remind us of...


+1: #906 Hanging out with Confucius

A few +1s ago, we posed the question: “How is this making me stronger?” Specifically: How is this challenge I’m facing Today making me stronger? (Well, how is it?!) In the context of interpersonal challenges, there are a lot of tools we can use. Some of my favorites include Active Love and modified versions of Dust and The Pearl. We might also want to remember Confucius’ wisdom. In his Analects, he tells us: “The Master said, In the presence of a good man, think all...


+1: #905 The Origin of Disease

In our last couple +1s, we’ve been hanging out in our guts. (Good times!) Surprisingly, that’s where we discovered 90% (!) of our serotonin and 70-80% (!!) of our immune systems. Crazy, eh? Today we’re going to spend another moment on the subject. Get this: Although modern medicine pretty much ignores the gut as its standard of care focuses on alleviating symptoms rather than Optimizing systems, the idea that our guts play a central role in our well-being isn’t a new...


+1: #904 Got Immunity?

In our last +1, we went on a little hide-and-seek adventure in search of our serotonin. Where’d we find it? Well, we discovered that 80 to 90% of it is produced and stored in our GUTS. Only 10 to 20% is hanging out in our brains. (Crazy, eh?) Today we’re going to go on another little hide-and-seek adventure. This time we’re in search of your immune system. Where do you think you’ll find it? Obviously it’s spread throughout the body but… If you had to guess where you’d...


+1: #903 Got Serotonin?

Serotonin. At this stage, most of us have at least a vague sense that serotonin is one of the primary neurotransmitters that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy and happy. That’s true. And… As with most things, it’s a bit more complex than that. As Wikipedia tells us: “Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter. It has a popular image as a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness, though its actual biological function is complex and...


+1: #902 Tolle Says: Whatever Happens

In our last couple +1s, we’ve had some fun hanging out with Nietzsche and Joseph Campbell, loving up our fates and all of life’s wonderful wrecks that have shaped our lives and revealed our hidden strength. Today we’re going to invite Eckart Tolle to the party to hear his thoughts on the subject. Here’s how he puts it in The Power of Now: “Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your...


+1: #897 My Readiness Scores (Yours?)

In our last couple +1s, we’ve been having fun hanging out with our glymph and adding some elbow grease to the ol’ brain washing process by eating our last meal earlier in the day. (You test it yet?) Today I want to talk about another little thing I started doing as I have fun seeing if I can game my Oura ring to produce consistently awesome results. First, quick context. (Plus an unpaid ad.) Oura rings are pretty awesome. I’ve had mine for over 6 months now. I’ve gotten some...


+1: #896 Glymph for the Win

In our last +1, we got our brain-washing glymph on. Specifically, we started paying more attention to our glymphatic system by eating our last meal earlier. How much earlier? Well, the research says: At least FOUR (!!) hours before bedtime if we want to give our brains the best chance at getting the ol’ glymph a chance to do a deep clean. FOUR HOURS!! As we discussed, I thought that was absurd when I first read it. And, well, I STILL think it’s a bit absurd. But… It’s...


+1: #895 Got Glymph?

Dr. Steven Gundry is Tony Robbins’ doctor. He’s a former world-class heart surgeon. These days he focuses on longevity. His new book is called The Longevity Paradox. Sub-title: “How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age.” It’s fantastic. I highly recommend it. The main theme of the book is that our longevity, paradoxically, is driven by the most ancient parts of us—the bacteria and other “foreign” stuff living in our guts (and on our bodies). Today, I want to focus on one of the...


+1: #894 All Roads Lead to Eudaimon

In our last +1, we chatted about my Gordion knot and the Orison Swett Marden wisdom that most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to boldly walk through them. Today I want to talk about another fun little insight I discovered as I mapped out some potential angles for my Gordion knot sword swing. First, let’s revisit some wisdom on being antifragile for a moment. In this +1 on Infinite Optionality, we talked about the fact that if, when you’re facing a challenge in life,...


+1: #893 How to Melt Obstacles

This morning I’ve been working on a Gordian Knot in our business. I won’t bore you with the details but seven years ago I raised $2 million to finance the creation of a business that no longer exists. Rather than say, “Oops. Sorry. I lost your money.” to our investors, I basically closed down the old business and started a new one while keeping the investors in the new entity (which is now Optimize). So… It’s been time to get them whole for some time now and I’ve been...


+1: #892 Stoic Shipwrecks

In our last +1, we had fun reflecting on a new ritual Emerson and I are having fun with. It’s been super fun to reflect on ancient Stoic wisdom via Ryan Holiday’s modern medallions. Today I want to chat about that Premeditatio Malorum coin. You know, the one featuring a ship in stormy seas that tells us to consider the things that could go wrong in life so we’re not quite so surprised when the inevitable (metaphorical) shipwreck occurs. That coin happens to be one of Emerson’s...


+1: #891 The Daily Stoic Kid

In our last +1, we talked about going deep to serve profoundly. Immediately after finishing that +1, I went downstairs to hang out with the family. But… Before I stepped out of the office to check in for some Deep Love time, I actually grabbed my new collection of Daily Stoic coins so Emerson and I could complete one of our new rituals. Quick context. You know that Memento Mori coin I love so much? Well, Ryan Holiday created that coin as part of his modern Stoic movement. I...