23 November 2022

The Hedonic Treadmill

Can you remember the last time you were dreaming of buying a new car, getting a promotion at work, moving into a nicer house or finding a partner to share life with? Do you remember fantasizing about how happy you would be if you attained those things? If you finally did attain one of those things, you may have found that the “happiness boost” didn’t last that long or wasn’t as intense as you’d imagined. Most of us have gone through this cycle. The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is a theory positing that people repeatedly return to their baseline level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them.

I think that happiness is best defined as the feeling of making progress towards your goals, not achieving them but making progress towards them. This means having some well thought out goals, e.g. building health and fitness, building better social relationships, setting specific challenges and living by a set of values (integrity, authenticity, respect and compassion for others and yourself, positivity/gratitude, personal responsibility, excellence and commitment, courage).

https://positivepsychology.com/hedonic-treadmill/
https://www.healthline.com/health/hedonic-treadmill
https://g.co/kgs/1pwyrD

22 November 2022

Optimise for your future self not your current self

Recently I've heard/read about a mental framework called "Regret minimisation". With regret minimisation you ask yourself, "would my future self in x minutes/days/weeks/months/years regret doing this or regret not doing this?", and based on this you do what would be preferrable for your future self.

An short term example might be if you are considering eating a sugary snack, you ask yourself, "Would my future self in 15 minutes regret this?". If the answer is yes, then you do not eat it, if the answer is no, then you do eat it. Or if you are sitting on the sofa, and consider should you continue to scroll through various apps on your phone or should you get up and practise xyz. You ask yourself "Which option would my future self in 1 week prefer?" and go with that.

Typically, our current self is more likely to pick an option that is more comfortable in the moment,  implicitly delaying anything that is immediately uncomfortable to our future self. However, the option that would optimise happiness and comfort for your future self is typically the one that is more uncomfortable in the moment, and thus less appealing to your current self. Thus it is better to think through what your future self wants in any scenario and go with that.

I prefer to think of this as optimising for your self rather than minimising the regret of your future self.

Understanding cardiovascular disease risk, cholesterol, and apoB - Peter Attia

Understanding cardiovascular disease risk, cholesterol, and apoB - Peter Attia

Measuring cardiovascular disease risk and the importance of apoB - Peter Attia

Do We Know What Turns Women On - Modern Wisdom with Catherine Salmon

Both interesting and at times funny.

11 November 2022

Ketogenic diets effect on depression, anxiety and other mental disorders - The Tim Ferris Show, Andrew Huberman

A very interesting podcast from Tim Ferris with Dr Christopher M. Palmer, on how a ketogenic diet could help positively with depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. 

Also a similar conversation with Andrew Huberman.

As a disclaimer, I am not a strong advocate of ketogenic diets but strongly believe in eating less processed foods which does generally mean less processed carbs and less carbs in general, as there is only so much fruit, vegetables and salad one can eat 😊.

The podcast connects mental disorders with mitochondrial function. Here is a good summary of how to improve mitochondrial function, no big surprises here:

  1. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
  2. Eat fewer calories.
  3. Eat 2-3 meals, within an 8-10 hour window.
  4. Reduce refined carbs such as bread, pasta, pastries, alcoholic drinks and sugary drinks including juices. Replace these with fresh vegetables, fruit and salad.
  5. Eat quality protein like grass-fed beef and pasture-raised eggs.
  6. Eat sources of omega-3s and alpha-lipoic acid. Eat antioxidant-rich foods with resveratrol like dark chocolate.
  7. Prioritize getting 8 hours of sleep every night.
  8. Reduce stress with relaxation techniques like meditation or massage.
  9. Try heat therapy like sauna.

Use of hands and dopamine sparking words in meetings and presentations

I really liked the second and third points in this podcast on the effect of using hands and dopamine sparking words in meetings and presentations:

03 November 2022

Rocky Balboa's quote on resilience and responding positively to failure

One of my favourite quotes from Rocky Balboa is one that deals with resilience and responding positively to failure:

Let me tell you something you already know. 
The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. 
It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. 
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. 
But it ain't about how hard ya hit.
It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That's how winning is done!

01 November 2022

Growth versus Fixed Mindset

In a fixed mindset people believe that their intelligence is fixed and static. Those who adopt a fixed mindset are more likely to:

  • Want to PROVE intelligence or talent.
  • Put in less effort to learn. Believe putting in effort is worthless.
  • Stay in their comfort zone and avoid challenges to avoid failure.
  • Quit easily at first failure, believing it is validation they will never master the talent.
  • View feedback as personal criticism and ignore it. Hide flaws so as not to be judged by others.
  • Feel threatened by the success of others.

In a growth mindset people believe that intelligence and talents can be improved through effort and learning. Those who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to:

  • Want to IMPROVE intelligence or talent through life long learning.
  • Put in more effort to learn. Believe putting in effort is worthwhile.
  • Get out of their comfort zone and embrace challenges.
  • Believe failures are just temporary setbacks and repetitions/opportunities to learn from.
  • View feedback as an opportunity to learn.
  • View others’ success as a source of inspiration.
Adopt of growth mindset!

29 October 2022

Physical mindfulness and flow states

 A lot of advice on mindfulness focuses on activities that are not normally part of the average day, such as breathing exercises or focussing on a body part or specific aspect of your environment. I find it very difficult to dedicate time to this style of activity. However, I have found that I really enjoy physical activities such as golf and archery, that I believe bring the same benefits of mindfulness but with the enjoyment of the sport in question. In order to learn and master these crafts, you need to practise regularly, entering a flow state each time. Because I enjoy these activities, I am happy to practise 3-4 times per week, thus regularly entering a flow state.

Headspace defines flow state as "A sense of fluidity between your body and mind, where you are totally absorbed by and deeply focused on something, beyond the point of distraction. Time feels like it has slowed down. Your senses are heightened. You are at one with the task at hand, as action and awareness sync to create an effortless momentum. Some people describe this feeling as being in the zone. This is the flow state and it’s accessible to everyone, whether you’re engaged in a physical activity, a creative pursuit, or even a simple day-to-day task." 

I like to refer to the use of fun physical activities, that allow you to easily enter a flow state, as "physical mindfulness".

28 September 2022

Happiness, Confidence, Confrontation and Rumination - Knowledge For Men

How to be Happy. An excellent definition of happiness. First decide in which directions you want your life to go. Then happiness is the feeling you have when you are moving in those directions, making progress, moving in alignment with your goals. Thus happiness is not itself an end-state, nor is it achieved by hitting other end-states or goals. Instead it is part of the journey or progress of your life in the right direction.


How to increase confidence. Confidence is defined as feeling sure of yourself and your abilities to handle a situation:


How to deal with confrontation:


How to stop ruminating:

22 September 2022

Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist - Jordan Peterson with Frans de Waal

An interesting podcast discussing how gender/sex differences affect humans with reference to what has been learned from primates and other animal species.

16 September 2022

It's never to early to start

Many modern lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes or dementia, do not suddenly occur in old age. They are formed in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. It is only that the symptoms become significant in old age.

To help prevent them, you need to focus on good sleep, healthy eating (eating less processed food, eating more diverse food, drinking less alcohol...), regular exercise and participating in good social relationships throughout your adult life. What you do in your earlier life sows the seeds for your later life, so don't wait for tomorrow to make changes.

I am who I think you think I am

I heard a great quote today:

"I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am." - Charles Cooley

Given our perception of someone else's perception may drive who you think you are, think hard about who you want to be, who you feel you are and how you are influenced by yourself and others. Your identity, or more specifically your perception of your identity, is a critical asset, so make sure you don't sleep-walk into who you think you are. Direct your thinking into what achieves the best outcome.

15 September 2022

The Liver King - The Diary of a CEO

Quite enjoyed listening to this podcast with The Liver King. Don't agree with everything said but lots of good points raised:

Finding Balance In A Dopamine Overloaded World - Dr Rangan Chatterjee with Dr Anna Lembke

05 September 2022

The Benefits of Sauna - Dr Rhonda Patrick

Huberman Lab podcasts related to sleep - Andrew Huberman

Sleep is absolutely critical to our health, far more than many realise. Here are a great set of podcasts to help understand sleep in more detail and figure out how to improve sleep:


Dr Matthew Walker on "The Science and Practise of Perfecting Your Sleep"

Andrew Huberman on "Sleep Toolkit: Tools For Optimizing Sleep & Sleep-Wake Timing"

04 September 2022

How to Build a Happy Life - How To Identify What You Enjoy Podcast

What Alcohol Does To Your Body, Brain & Health Podcast - Andrew Huberman

Sometimes ignorance is better than the devil you know. I wish I hadn't listened to Andrew Huberman's talk on the impact of alcohol, even for average alcohol consumption. Unfortunately I can't undo it now, for anyone else interested...

29 August 2022

Why You SHOULD Take Personal Responsibility Podcast - The Diary of a CEO with Matthew Hussey

A nice clip from The Diary of a CEO on personal responsibility, fault vs responsibility and transition:

Andrew Huberman's Huberman Lab Podcasts

A great set of podcasts on health, fitness and neuroscience:

Huberman Lab on Spotify

Huberman Lab Website

The Man in the Arena

A great extract from Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizenship in a Republic" speech, labelled "The Man in the Arena" that focuses on action and being resilient to failure rather than just a commentator. Someone who is heavily involved in a situation that requires courage, skill, or tenacity, as opposed to someone sitting on the side-lines and watching, is often referred to as "the man in the arena":

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."