To get exceptional results, you need to do exceptional things.
Most things that are normal are normal only because very few people can resist them.
Just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. It often means the opposite.
It’s like the Ancient Chinese proverb says, “If five million people do a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”
Don’t let them get a piece of you If you want to carve out your unique place in this world, you need to rise above the noise that other people succumb to.
Which means that you have to ruthlessly eliminate the self-destructive things that most people do.
The economy runs, like a flywheel, off of exploiting our weaknesses. Sell us addictive and unhealthy substances, then you can sell us drugs to treat the diseases they cause. Hold our attention with news that convinces us we can’t trust one another, then you can sell us suburban developments and home security systems. Then there’s even more attention leftover to sell to advertisers because our social isolation makes us bored and lonely.
Getting us to do things that aren’t good for us is great for the Growth Domestic Product.
We’re so vulnerable to these things that if you can cut out the things that break you down, and replace them with the things that build you up, you can be way more effective than most people.
I say you could be one hundred times more effective than most people.
Here are eleven things you can do to be one hundred times more effective than most people.
Before I go further, I want to acknowledge that this list really pisses some people off. I posit that it threatens their self-perception.
I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you do or don’t do these things. I’m saying you’d be better off if you did all of these things. Let’s be honest -- it’s darn near impossible to do all of these things. I know I don’t. This is just the list I aspire to.
Also, some people hear this list and think it sounds like a boring life. I would encourage those people to get a life -- I’ll explain at the end of this episode.
Okay, on with the list.
1. No sugar Sugar is an addictive substance. Sugar stimulates dopamine, and the more dopamine you stimulate, the more dopamine you need in order to feel stimulated. If you want to hear more about that, listen to Robert Lustig in episode 186. It is downright criminal how much sugar surrounds us every day. The last time I was in a hospital, the only things in the vending machine were products filled with sugar -- in a hospital.
2. No alcohol Again, why is this normal? Just look at how many bars and liquor stores are on every city street. At some point in my 20’s I realized that each Saturday night I was regularly spending the equivalent an entire working day going from bar to bar -- not to mention the way that drinking affected me the next day (and likely throughout the week). You can accomplish a lot if you cut out alcohol.
I’m lucky enough to not be addicted to alcohol, but economist Tyler Cowen shared an interesting perspective on this podcast: that alcohol is so harmful to much of the population -- those who are addicted to alcohol -- that the only responsible thing to do is to not drink, so it won’t be such a normal thing anymore.
3. No caffeine This one is hard for the coffee lovers. Caffeine, again, is an addictive substance. What happens when you’re addicted to something? You don’t use it, it uses you.
The more caffeine you use, the more caffeine you need, until you simply can’t get enough. Many people don’t realize that their caffeine use is at the root of other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, even schizophrenia.
Additionally, using caffeine, even in the morning, can reduce the quality of your sleep that night -- whether you know it or not.
4. 8 hours of sleep a night Speaking of sleep