Tag Archives: health

The great quest to eat less

For millions of years, Homo Sapiens stove to eat more. Food was scarce and most of the population had to spend most of their time just to get the bare minimum.

This dynamic has changed dramatically over the past century since fossil fuels gave us fertilizers that quadrupled crop yields and machines that can do the work of a hundred men. Indeed, many modern Homo Sapiens now strive (rather unsuccessfully) to eat less.

Today, those who were lucky enough to be born in affluent parts of the world consume about 50% more calories than the recommended daily allowance (which is about 2200). The results are all around us in the form of obesity and degenerative disease.

Our long evolutionary history in a world of scarcity has made it very difficult to cope with the abundance of food in our modern world.  For example, eating has an emotionally pleasant effect through the release of endorphins, creating a strong drive to find food. But this response is totally outdated in our modern world.

We are also exposed to many addictive food substances that were simply not available for the vast majority of human history. Refined sugar is a good example of a substance that puts our primitive caveman food cravings into overdrive.

Modernizing these primitive physiological responses of our brains and bodies certainly presents a challenge. But it can be done. The first step is simply to realize that these primitive responses have become counterproductive in our modern world.

So, keep this simple insight in mind and try to recall it before your next emotional eating excursion. Don’t be surprised if you start laughing in that moment as the ridiculousness of this situation truly dawns on you 🙂

Once this level of understanding is reached, there are several things that can be done to accelerate our mental modernization. The next couple of posts will further explore this topic.

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

Lifechanging information sources

The sources I list below have changed many millions of lives for the better (including my own). They contain timeless wisdom that everyone can benefit from – whether the information is new to you or you just need a refresher.

Three categories are presented (also the three cornerstones of this blog): health, personal finances and mental control.

Health

Healthy at 100 – John Robbins. This book convinced me shift to a much more plant-based diet – very impressive considering that I was a born and bred carnivore. It is a bit long, but definitely remains a worthwhile read. The accounts of the lifestyles of the world’s longest living communities were especially interesting.

50 secrets of the world’s longest living people – Sally Beare. Here we have a much more punchy and easy to read version of Healthy at 100. It also has interesting accounts of the lifestyles of communities enjoying extraordinarily long and healthy lives. In particular, this book got me to incorporate lots of nuts, seeds and berries into my diet.

The world’s healthiest foods – George Mateljan. This resource contains a number of interesting healthy recipes, but the most valuable aspect of it is the detailed nutritional information about the world healthiest foods. The information in this book is so powerful that it convinced me to eat spinach every day – something I would have seen as flatly impossible 5 years ago.

Personal finances

The automatic millionaire – David Bach and The millionaire next door – Thomas Stanley. These two books pretty much give the same message: Live within your means and automate your investments. It is very simple advice which clearly illustrates how people can become rich even on a modest income. Everybody knows this stuff, but reading these books will convince you to such a degree that you might actually start doing it.

The richest man in Babylon – George Clason. The message in this classic is much the same as that in the two millionaire books listed above. It is conveyed in a much more entertaining manner though – mostly through interesting stories from Ancient Babylon told in a wonderfully classic linguistic style. If you don’t have millionaire ambitions, but still want healthy personal finances, this is the only book you need to read.

How an economy grows and why it crashes – Peter Schiff. This is another book with a rather obvious message: saving and investment is good, excessive debt is bad. However, the very interesting way in which the message is conveyed makes it a thoroughly entertaining and convincing read. It also gives you a very nice understanding about the workings of a modern economy.

Mental control

Psycho Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz. Many people call this the only self-help book you ever need to read. It is a true classic that has changed millions of lives for the better through practical teachings on how to control your own mind. Thought habits and self-esteem are key elements in this timeless masterpiece.

177 mental toughness secrets of the world class – Steve Siebolt. Despite the rather corny title, this book is a great quick reference for the best mental control strategies. Each “mental toughness secret” is only one page long and simple to digest. I’d especially recommend the audio version where Siebolt and his co-presenter expand a bit more on each secret in a fun conversational style.

The “21 great ways” series – Brian Tracy. Although I sometimes find Tracy’s approach to mental control a bit too mechanical, his extensive 21 great ways series contains information that anyone can benefit from. The information is communicated in a punchy manner and you can select from a wide range of titles to suit your needs.

Filed under: Consumption patterns – Consume information

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

The trouble with shifting gears

rat raceIn the previous three posts, we talked about utilizing improved levels of mental control to either shift up or shift down. Shifting up implies that you use your improved mental control to develop something called a healthy obsession – a state of mind where your thoughts automatically return time and time again to some interesting idea that can add great value to society if further developed. Shifting down implies that you use your improved mental control to decouple from the materialistic rat-race, trading some amount of material consumption for the direct pursuit of health and happiness.

Both of these options are a substantial upgrade from the sad nine-to-five treadmill of unfulfilling labor on which the majority of developed world citizens are still chasing the fundamental impossibility of happiness-through-consumption. But there is a good reason why the majority of the rich world remains stuck in the pointless rat-race: it has simply become the norm within our modern society. And breaking out of the perceived safety of conformity offered by this norm can be very difficult.

USA_happiness_vs_GDP

This practical difficulty is the subject of this particular post and can be summarized in one simple phrase: the fear of decreasing consumption.

The historically very brief age of cheap fossil fuels we live in today has facilitated a 500% increase in population and an 800% increase in per capita consumption in only 150 years. This brief period of rapid growth has led to a widespread expectation of perpetually increasing consumption rates and, by simple extension, has also created a strong aversion to any potential decrease in consumption.

Historical_GDP_and_GDP_growth_rate

Meanwhile, the bottom half of the global population survives on an average of two dollars per day, while the average American consumes two dollars roughly every 30 minutes. Yet, despite consuming 50 times more than someone in the bottom half of the population, we always want more, regardless of the escalating sustainability crisis and the flat-lining of health and happiness.

Consumption distribution

Shifting up and shifting down both require that you overcome your fear of decreasing consumption, simply because making these fundamental lifestyle changes will often require at least a temporary reduction in income. Shifting up implies that you start doing work that you love instead of work that simply pays well. Shifting down implies that you cut down on your working hours (and your paycheck) in order to focus on lasting health and happiness.

Taking these steps will require substantial bravery in the face of our universal fear of decreasing consumption. Even though all the evidence shows that the perpetual rat-race towards happiness-through-consumption leads absolutely nowhere, the consumerist paradigm has been drilled very deeply into our psyches.

The fact is, however, that the average developed for citizen can halve his/her consumption and still consume significantly more than 10 times the amount consumed by someone in the bottom half of the global population. This level of consumption is more than enough to guarantee the fundamental requirements of happiness: vibrant health, nourishing personal relationships and free creative expression.

LIfe_expectancy_vs_healthcare_expenditures

So, take the plunge. Break free. Shift gears.

Filed under: Mental control – Intermediate control

Personal finances: Personal benefits

This second installment of the final three personal finance posts will discuss the personal benefits that will come to anyone taking full responsibility for his/her personal finances. As discussed in the post introducing the One in a Billion action plan, three different categories will be discussed:

  • Health – increase in functionality of body/mind and longevity
  • Wealth – increase in earning power and financial resilience
  • Happiness – joy of day-to-day living and overall life satisfaction

Health

As discussed previously, “Affluenza” is a very serious threat to public health within our affluent modern society. Overweight statistics are going through the roof, stress levels are as high as they have ever been and levels of physical activity are at historic lows. The obvious result is a true epidemic of self-inflicted degenerative disease and all the resulting societal and economic ramifications.

Saving consistently and borrowing responsibly is an excellent way in which to safegaurd yourself from Affluenza. Things like trading your car for a bike, switching to a more plant-based diet and getting your entertainment from sports or walks in nature instead of TV or computer games will do wonders for your health and finances. Even if you do these things purely for the purpose of saving money, they will add many years to your life and much life to your years.

Wealth

A retirement age American who saved only 15% of the median American income over the past 40 years would be a millionaire by now. That is how easy it is. Building wealth is a patience game of applying the simple ten word secret: spend less than you earn and save/invest the difference. No rocket science.

Unfortunately, decades of gross fiscal irresponsibility across the board has made investing quite a lot harder than it used to be, but, as discussed throughout this series, it is still possible to gain some meaningful returns or at least preserve your purchasing power through this time of great economic uncertainty. And yes, when the dust finally settles, those with some wealth safely stowed away will be able to profit greatly from making the productive and ethical investments necessary to build a sustainable future. Investment opportunities that can double your wealth every 5-7 years will become reality again. Just be patient…

Happiness

Excessive consumption does not bring happiness. That much has been established beyond any shadow of a doubt. A commitment to saving 10-20% of monthly income will therefore have no negative impacts on happiness. In fact, reduced consumption will soon start promoting happiness once you achieve financial security and eventually financial freedom. In addition, the reduced clutter brought by decreased spending will also simplify your life, freeing up more time for those things scientifically linked to happiness: vibrant health, nourishing personal relationships and free creative expression. Stop looking for happiness in places where it obviously cannot be found.