Three Things You Need to Do For At Least an Hour Every Day

Reading, writing, and training. Alexander Cortes explains why:

Reading, Writing, and Training are absolutely critical practices. Within those three things you enable the broadest possible range of skills and cultivation of personal qualities that support your success in ANY field. I believe this is the foundational formula to becoming the top 1% of human beings, in any any given realm. It acts as a cornerstone to building skillsets, increasing cognitive learning, and maintaining physical health and resiliency to continuously improve. And it can be be done at ANY TIME, with a minimum of cost and a maximum of gain. There are ZERO prerequisites to doing it.

Said another way, it tilts the odds of success in your favor. And you WANT to the odds to favor you. The world is ever more competitive with each passing year, and staying competitive requires judicious action. The world has many narratives, many challenges, and many opportunities.

We all occupy a world where ideas have become the most valuable form of currency, where the ability to focus is under fire in a world of noise, and where “mastery” and making sense of truth is more important than ever before.

Reading and writing are self-explanatory. Training, however, means more to Cortes than just exercise:

3. Training-People might take this to mean “exercise”, but it is not so specific as that. Training is anything of a physical nature. Walking to have time to think, playing an instrument, physical training of the body through various forms of exercise, this is something that everyone had their own version of. What was recognized was that physicality creates mentality, and that to self-actualize, you must have the physical health to support doing so. Strong body, strong mind, the two are inextricably linked. (outliers exist of course, but they do not disprove the heuristic)

Read the entire post here.

Advertisements

Western Men Losing Sperm Bigly

A new study has revealed that sperm count among Western men is at an all-time low. What’s more, the sperm count of Latino, Asian, and African men hasn’t declined much, if at all.

Funnily enough, I had read an article about sperm count in the June 2017 edition of Men’s Health just days before discovering this study. The article featured an infographic identifying the impact that various lifestyle factors had on sperm count. The factors that increase sperm count? Consuming organic produce, fish, and black cumin seed oil; eliminating trans fat; and cutting the cable cord.

The factors that decrease sperm count? Eating fried food, smoking cigarettes and/or weed, not getting enough sleep, sporting a 40+ inch waist, and suffering from stress and anxiety.

Now which group of lifestyle factors best applies to Western men? Once you’ve got your answer, are you honestly surprised that Western man’s sperm count is plummeting?

Saving the West starts with you, the individual man. Get that sperm count up: lift weights, clean up your diet, get plenty of sleep, and watch little (or no) TV. The health of Western Civilization depends on your strength and vitality.

Coffee is Good for You

Say it ain’t so!

Los Angeles Times:

If you’re the type of person who needs at least one cup of coffee to get out of the house in the morning and a few more to make it through the day, you might think the best thing about java is that it keeps you awake.

But new research suggests that’s just a bonus. The best thing about your coffee habit might be that it extends your life by reducing your risk of death from heart disease, diabetes or even cancer.

Two large studies published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the more coffee a person drank, the lower his or her risk of early death. The results were largely consistent among more than 700,000 study participants from a variety of racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

And get this: The inverse relationship between coffee consumption and death held up even for people who drank decaf.

I used to drink at least four cups of coffee a day but dialed it back to two or three several months ago. No particular reason; just got busier, I guess. In light of these studies, though, it can’t hurt to start drinking at least four a day again!

Further Reading: Red Meat is Good for You

Red Meat is Good for You

Over the past few years, numerous studies have contradicted mainstream health advice in a variety of areas. The latest thing mainstream advice is wrong about? The idea that red meat consumption leads to cancer and other health problems.

Enter P.D. Mangan:

You have to have been living in a cave for the past several decades not to have heard that red meat is bad for health. What’s the reality?

A recent meta-analysis (study of studies) looked at 20 different studies on the relation between red meat and coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The review concluded that red meat consumption was not associated with any of these diseases.

Another recent study, EPIC, looked at almost 500,000 people and found no relation between red meat consumption and all-cause mortality.

What about cancer? A recent analysis found that the “available epidemiologic data are not sufficient to support an independent and unequivocal positive association between red meat intake and CRC [colorectal cancer, the cancer most often claimed to be meat-caused].”

More here.

Five Things We Can Learn From Vladimir Putin’s Daily Routine

Vladimir Putin intrigues me. So do people’s routines and habits. Thus you can imagine how delighted I was to stumble across a Business Insider article on Vladimir Putin’s daily routine. After reading through it, I came up with five self-development lessons we can learn from his lifestyle:

1. “I don’t have time” is a terrible excuse to avoid exercising.

Putin is the president of a superpower, yet he somehow finds the time to swim two hours each day and lift weights afterward. You’re probably not as busy as Putin, so never ever tell yourself or others that you can’t find the time to exercise. We all know it’s hogwash, and you do too.

2. Schedule tasks based on your energy levels at various times of the day.

Putin rises late, eats breakfast around noon, and doesn’t get to work until early afternoon. He compensates for this habit by working late into the night. Don’t listen to those in the self-development community who insist you wake up at 5:00am every day. By all means try it for a couple weeks, but if it’s not working for you, don’t force yourself to do it. As Craig Ballantyne says, it’s not about what time you get up, it’s about what you do with the hours that you’re up.

I find I’m most creative in the morning, so I start blogging right after waking up. I’ve never enjoyed exercising in the morning, so I do it in the early evening. I like staying up past midnight, so I never get out of bed earlier than 8:00am (with rare exceptions). Maybe you’re most creative at night and most willing to exercise in the morning. Figure out what works best for you.

3. Cut the alcohol (and the cigarettes and the drugs).

Putin is an abstemious man, which may surprise you since he’s the president of a country suffering from widespread alcoholism. He only drinks during formal receptions, and I bet it’s not very much. Social drinking is fine, but the less alcohol you consume, the better.

I shouldn’t have to explain why it’s a bad idea to smoke or do drugs. If you’ve begun your self-development journey and still struggle with either of those, I’m not your resource, as I’ve never even gone so far as to experiment with them.

4. Make time for cool activities and hobbies.

Raise your hand if you’ve done this before: You come home after a hard day’s work and feel tired, so you end up watching TV for six hours before calling it a night. I’m guilty myself.

As Arnold Bennett writes in his book “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day,” you’re not as tired as you think. So instead of being a couch potato, immerse yourself in your favorite hobbies (or try new ones). Take a martial arts class, read amazing books, go to the gym with your girlfriend, learn how to cook or paint or draw, etc. Pretty much any hobby you can think of is significantly more fulfilling than binge-watching reruns of “The Big Bang Theory.”

For his part, Putin likes to spend his free time hunting, fishing, and playing ice hockey. Now that’s cool.

5. Stay disciplined while traveling.

Temptations to throw your self-development practices out the window lurk everywhere on vacation. It’s all too easy to splurge on mediocre airport food, sleep in at the hotel (or worse yet, hit the snooze button), and neglect exercise altogether. Putin is not only disciplined during episodes of travel, but perhaps even more disciplined than he is back home. On the road, Putin refuses milk products and he doesn’t accept food that hasn’t been approved by the Kremlin. I bet he manages to stick to an exercise regimen too.

So there you have it. Can you see why Putin remains in such amazing health—both mentally and physically—at age 64? Regular exercising, working hard, limiting alcohol, partaking in cool hobbies, and staying disciplined on the road are the keys to long-term energy, productivity, and satisfaction.

Invest in Yourself

Warren Buffett once said that “the most important investment you can make is in yourself.” Who can disagree with that?

I spent ~$100 today on books and workout equipment. I don’t consider this an accumulation of assets, but rather an investment in my intellectual and physical health.

Ryan Holiday once wrote the following about reading: “I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me I’d never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it.” This also applies to other investments in yourself like a heavier set of weights, a nice leather journal, a good planner, a gym membership, a self-development course, whatever.

Don’t see the purchase of such things as “spending money.” See them as investments in your health, wealth, and wisdom. Never let time, money, etc., stop you. You are your most valuable asset.

Five Exceptional Thinkers Who Frequently Took Long Walks

walking

Although I don’t necessarily consider walking—at least not normal pace walking—to be exercise per se, there are still several reasons you should incorporate a daily walk into your routine. Regular walks improve your cardiovascular health, improve your sleep, brighten your mood, and increase your longevity, among others. Equally important are the creative benefits, too: a 2014 Stanford study confirmed that walking does boost creativity and productivity.

I can attest to this. On my daily walks I often find inspiration for new article ideas as well as developments on previous ideas. When this inspiration strikes, I just type it into my phone’s Evernote app. I even write parts of articles on my walks oftentimes (including parts of this article!).

So it’s been clearly substantiated that walking, thinking, and creativity go hand-in-hand. But great thinkers and writers have known this for hundreds of years; they didn’t need a scientific study to confirm it. These five remarkable minds in particular viewed walking not as exercise, but as a crucial aspect of their intellectual and creative life:

1. Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson was a politician, Founding Father, third president of the United States, farmer, architect, inventor, writer, philosopher, scientist, and linguist (I’m probably forgetting a couple more!). He touted both the physical and mental benefits of walking in a 1785 letter to his son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.:

Of all exercises walking is the best. … No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired. A person who never walked three miles will in the course of a month become able to walk fifteen or twenty without fatigue. I have known some great walkers, and had particular accounts of many more; and I never knew or heard of one who was not healthy and long lived.

Jefferson had a lifelong penchant for recording and collecting data, and he even closely measured his walking, as evidenced by this undated memoranda from the 1780s:

I step a French mile of 1000 toises = 6408 Eng.f. in 1053 double steps. This yields 3f. & 1/2I. English to the step and 1735 steps to the mile. I walk a French mile in 17 1/2 minutes. A French mile is = 1.21 or 1 1/4 Eng. miles. I walk then at a rate of 4 3/20 miles or 4.mi.264 yards an hour.

Walking moderately in the summer I walked a Fr. mile of 1000 T = 6408 f. in 1254. steps and in 26′. That gives 2.55 f. to the step and
2066 1/2 steps to the Eng. mile
1735 the brisk walk of winter
331. difference.

Although Jefferson gradually quit walking and turned to horseback riding due to old age, all the steps he accumulated undoubtedly contributed to his long, creative, and productive life.

2. Henry David Thoreau

That Stanford study also discovered that the act of walking itself is what counts, not the environment in which its done. Thoreau would’ve taken issue with this. His Transcendentalism—a philosophy of life associated with minimalism, self-reliance, and naturalism—compelled him to live among, and therefore walk through, untamed nature. But whatever your preference, you can still appreciate Thoreau’s lecture on walking, which he titled, well, “On Walking.” Excerpt:

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la SainteTerre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. … He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. … [E]very walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.

The idea of walking without a destination in mind is certainly an important one. On my walks, I’m not seeking to go anywhere specific, nor to walk for a specific amount of time. I just walk, stimulate the right side of my brain, turn around at some arbitrary point, continue to let the inspiration flow, and arrive home. It may take a half-hour, forty five minutes, or even an hour or more. No me importa.

3. Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard was an odd duck. But so are most geniuses, after all. In between his morning and his evening/late night writing sessions, Kierkegaard would spend much of his afternoon walking the streets of Copenhagen, frequently stopping to converse with strangers. No doubt this fueled his brain and his creative output: the Danish philosopher composed dozens of works and left behind several volumes worth of journals and manuscripts.

In an 1847 letter to his niece, Kierkegaard wrote the following about walking. I couldn’t have put it better myself:

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.

4. Friedrich Nietzsche

One of the 19th century’s most important—and most idiosyncratic—philosophers was Friedrich Nietzsche. He wrote numerous quotable aphorisms and thoughts, at least one of which was related to walking: “Only thoughts that are reached by walking have value.”

In his biography of Nietzsche, Curtis Cate spelled out the philosopher’s typical morning and early afternoon, which included a great deal of walking:

With a Spartan rigour which never ceased to amaze his landlord-grocer, Nietzsche would get up every morning when the faintly dawning sky was still grey, and, after washing himself with cold water from the pitcher and china basin in his bedroom and drinking some warm milk, he would, when not felled by headaches and vomiting, work uninterruptedly until eleven in the morning. He then went for a brisk, two-hour walk through the nearby forest or along the edge of Lake Silvaplana (to the north-east) or of Lake Sils (to the south-west), stopping every now and then to jot down his latest thoughts in the notebook he always carried with him.

Two hours isn’t bad! I’m sure not all of us have the time to spend two hours a day walking, but as I mentioned above, the duration matters not.

5. Charles Darwin

Darwin is of course best known for his “On the Origins of Species” and numerous contributions to evolutionary science. He would take two walks per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. For Darwin, walking was “an exercise in reflection — a kind of moving meditation.” And like every other thinker on the list, it was an integral part of his intellectual life, not solely his health and fitness life.

Conclusion

Even if you aren’t a writer, blogger, or thinker, that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the creative benefits of walking. Daily walks will increase your long-term productivity, help you wrestle with big ideas, solve problems, and get your creative juices flowing. Add those to the scores of physical and emotional benefits, and it’s evident that regular long walks can make you a better human being overall.