[What follows is an average schedule of a Thai monk living in a monastery. While protocol varies from place to place, the below is a very common timetable.]
At 4:00 in the morning, the monks wake up, and head down to main hall. They meditate there for an hour, then chant for another hour.
Then at around 6:00, the monks take a field trip to the neighborhood, where they wander around barefoot, asking the locals for food.
At 8:00, they head back to the temple, and sit together for breakfast. Think Rice and Tea. Then there’s debate on scripture, sometimes philosophy.
At 12:00, they break for lunch. This is the last solid food they’re allowed to consume until breakfast the next day.
Classes start at 1:00. Some monks may attend school outside the temple, but for most, it’s a solid four to five hours of buddhist philosophy and theory. Oh, and there’s homework. A lot of homework.
At 6:00 everyone reconvenes for two more hours of meditation, followed by prayer. Talking or yawning during the prayers results in an immediate whack on the shoulders by the Gegou or other ranking monk. Sometimes, if he’s in a mood, he’ll pull your ear instead. Really hard.
At 8:00, the monks finish their homework and go to bed, happy as a clam. They get up the next day and repeat. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.
I know what you’re thinking: how in the world could anyone with that schedule, with that impossibly dull, repetitive beast of a day, go to bed happy? No parties. No booze. No entertainment, unless you count watching Somboon get his ear pulled, which I guess can be kind of satisfying.
I’d run away screaming. And unless you happen to be one of those exceedingly rare Thai teenagers with a thing for celibacy and lengthy philosophical debate, you’d probably do the same.
But for some reason, these monks report levels of happiness that’s completely off the charts. The same goes for the Amish, Tibetan monks, and most strict priesthoods. What’s the missing ingredient?
Presence. I’m sure that community and lack of stress play a role, but the only way they stay so cheery is by taking pleasure in the simple things. By learning to savour the moment. If you spend every single hour of everyday doing something mindless, what came before or what comes after doesn’t really matter.
Nobody asks What Flavour of Water is Served with Lunch Tomorrow or when they’ll be able to afford those new Gucci Meditation Pillows. The now becomes their all because it's all there is.
What if you could do the same? If you could learn to enjoy whatever you were doing, this very moment. If you could stop waiting to be happy, and be happy right now. Plus, You could be more focused. Sharper. More fun to talk to or be around.
Well, you can! And you won’t have to move to a mountain to do it.
The answer: Meditation.
Focusing on nothing but the present moment, to condition mind for happiness and sharpen focus. There are so, so many meditation techniques, from prayer to mantra. But a breathing meditation, in my experience is the quickest and most satisfying. And it’s super easy to get into. Here’s how to get started:
1) Sit down and cross your legs. If you’re flexible enough, put one leg over the other, like the picture. Make sure that your back is straight.
2) Close your eyes.
3) Breathe naturally. Focus your attention on the breath. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath. Don’t try to silence thoughts if they come up. Just peacefully observe them, and let them pass. If you have trouble doing this at first, count your breaths.
In, out. One. In, out. Two. In, out. Three. All the way to ten, then repeat. You get the idea.
Start with 5 - 10 minutes a day, whenever convenient. From there, you can work your way up to more time, and start reaping the benefits!
You’ll probably start researching more techniques and fall down the rabbit hole yourself once you’ve noticed improved happiness and sharper thinking, but a breathing meditation is more than enough to get started.
There’s just one catch: you have to actually do it. I know that sounds easy, but most people forget that one. Reading about meditation, or mediating once a week isn’t going do it. Think of your brain as a muscle. It needs consistent exercise, not just a guilty trip to Planet Fitness after polishing off a Twelve inch Pizza. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy not to do.
Good luck, and enjoy the little things!
Meditation Study: https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/wcu/f/Teeter2016.pdf
“I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across.”
You know who said that? Sherlock Holmes, that’s who. Then again, he also bragged about turning orphans into spies, and spent a big chunk of the his adventures high. Wait… Is it too late for me to ask you to forget that example? Damn.
Let’s face it: we are what we think. Our thoughts drive our actions, emotions, decisions, and just about everything else. It’s why motivational videos about kittens make us smile, while music videos with celebrities crying into the camera make us sad.
Our personality and beliefs are shaped by these thoughts. And where do most of our thoughts come from? The environment. From the role models we see on TV, in our homes, in literature, or culture.
Let’s take an example.
When I was in Kindergarden, I used to build these big towers out of blocks. These weren’t just your everyday, run of the mill towers. I’m talking spirals, pirouettes, domes -- the whole shebang. One day, after I was putting the finishing touches on a wooden skyscraper, my teacher, Ms. S, walked over to me and said I was like a little architect. That made five-year old Patrick very happy. The towers were pretty good. Maybe I could be an architect!
But then I watched King Kong, and decided I’d rather be a plane-smashing monkey the size of a tank. The rest is history.
Anyway, the point is, thoughts don’t come out of thin air.
We’re brainwashing ourselves with information everyday, whether we like it or not. There’s no way to avoid it, it’s just how people are. A teacher says we can do something, and we can. A big monkey destroys a city, and we want to jump on the bandwagon. And it doesn’t end when we reach adulthood -- these forces shape us for our entire lives. Think about how much travel can change a person, or finding a new friend circle. The environment never stops rubbing off on us.
The subconscious is like a big sponge, molding our personality and thoughts from whatever it soaks up. From whatever’s around.
But what if you could CHOOSE what your subconscious absorbed, brainwashing yourself into becoming the kind of person you want to be? You’d be able to change your personality, outlook, and self-concept just by thinking. The good news is, you can! No drugs or orphans required.
An information diet is choosing the type and amount of media you consume. The idea is that if you take in positive, thoughtful information, while avoiding the negative or less-than important stuff, you’ll only be shaped by the positive info.
It’s not going to be easy. You’ll have to harness your will, change your thought-process, and basically give the middle finger to conventional wisdom.
Going on an information diet is recognizing that most news, TV, and media, are bullshit, and that you’re much better off without them. Sure, maybe they’re informative, or even a lot of fun, but if you’re goal is to live a happy, productive life, are they really helping? Probably not. News about celebrity overdoses or tragedy overseas might be really interesting, and maybe even make you more interesting to talk to. But will they help day-to-day? I doubt it. If all you get is a constant stream of disaster news and schadenfreude, it can be very difficult to stay focused or motivated.
“Ravenous Shark Eats Family of Four… INCLUDING The puppy!” will probably get a lot more hits than “Ravenous Shark Passes by family of four, just like it does every other 364 days of year,” but not a lot of sources are going to publish headline #2. Just because it’s educational, doesn’t mean it’s giving you an accurate picture of the world. And even if it did, why the hell does a puppy being eaten hundreds of miles away matter? Are you ever going to meet this puppy? Does your concern for the puppy make it any less unfortunate? Nope. It doesn’t.
On an information diet, you’ll have to go make a list of what media is helping, and what’s not. Which sources offer strong role models? Positive themes? Practical info you can use-day to day? Basically, the information diet is putting parental controls on your life.
It’s hard. It’s really hard. But if it means you get to take control of your thoughts, shaping yourself, isn’t that worth it? I’d say so.
Here’s a quick start guide:
Step 1: Ignore
Start by cutting out anything unnecessary. Make a list. This will probably include most social media, news outlets, and TV.
Stop reading about freak unicycle accidents and serial murderers who kill with a spoon.
Get your current events from other people, or set up a one hour chunk of time on the weekends where you can binge to your hearts content. That way, you’ll still get a good sense of what’s going on, without wasting too much time or energy.
Step 2: Forget
If you absolutely must learn something impractical or useless for school or work, do it in big chunks. That way, it’ll be fresh in your mind for the test or the meeting, but will quickly disappear and leave space for useful information.
Step 3: Learn
Now that you’ve eliminated all the negative influences, you’ll be left with just a few really great books, podcasts, shows, and news sources. Use those. use them over and over, until the concepts sink in.
Next, pick a role model, and read their autobiography. Odds are, some of their mindset will rub off, and you’ll be one step closer to the person you want to be.
Lastly, start priming yourself with positive speech. Search up ‘Motivational videos’ or ‘affirmations’ on youtube, and play it in the background. It might sound cheesy, but a lot of the ideas will rub off on you. Start read success stories from people trying to do the same thing you’re doing, learn from them, and put it into practice.
The information-diet is another counter-intuitive lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. If it’s too tough at the beginning, you can start small, just limiting your bad influences and spending more time on the good one. You don’t have to go cold turkey right off the bat.
There’s a lot of great info on this subject, but I think Tim Ferris’s book “The Four hour work Week,” along with his blog, cover it pretty thoroughly. I’ll leave that link, with facts and sourcing below.
Good luck, and happy brainwashing!
Tim Ferris: https://tim.blog/category/low-information-diet-and-selective-ignorance/
Priming Study: https://www.psychology.northwestern.edu/documents/faculty-publications/molden-priming_2014a.pdf
Affirmations and Positive Videos study: https://www.cmu.edu/homepage/health/2013/summer/benefits-of-self-affirmation.shtml
A few weeks ago, someone challenged me to a 48 hour fast through the contact form. I’m not going to name names, so we'll just call him Scooby Doo. You’ll see why.
What happens if you don’t eat fo a really long time? … Like do you lose muscle? I hea a lot of people talking about that.
Yeah, Scooby, I wonder about that too. Also how you mixed up all those R’s. But you asked a very insightful question, and It’s really only because I chopped it up that it sounds so bizarre. Thanks, and keep using your head.
To answer your question, yeah. You’d lose weight. You’d be consuming fewer calories for a long period of time, so your body would burn fat, and sometimes muscle. But what if you fasted in moderation? Would it be fat and muscle, or just fat? That’s the interesting question.
After looking into this, I discovered a big subculture based around intermittent fasting for creatives, bodybuilders, and health gurus. The idea is that in a natural state, humans would go long period of time without eating, making fasting healthy and safe. Supposedly, it decreases insulin levels while promoting HGH (Human Growth Hormone), making it easier to put on muscle and harder to put on fat. Personally, I just assumed the high from fasting was cheaper than mushrooms.
I was wrong.
I started with a documented 48 hour fast, then enjoyed it so much I hopped on the intermittent fasting bandwagon. For those of you who haven’t heard about ‘IF’, let me save you the hours of combing through bro-science, and just summarize now:
First off, Intermittent fasting doesn’t leave you eating less food. If you’re doing it right, you eat the same or close to the same as you would on any day, you just do so in a small time frame. Think a massive feast for an hour vs three reasonable sized meals. A good example is ‘Leangains’, where you fast for 16 hours of the day, and then eat for the last 8. So you’d eat stop eating at 10PM, then start eating again at 2PM the next day. That way, you don’t end up looking like matchstick man.
I tried it, survived, and will probably keep doing it. Here’s my experience.
1) Fasting provided clarity
Without food in my stomach, I felt sharper, and more eager to get stuff done. While I didn’t have as much endurance as usual, I had more vitality. It sounds wishy-washy, I know, but not having any food in my belly allowed me to focus on writing, planning, working, and just having a really good time.
I never had to stop to think about the next meal, or worry about finding food. I knew exactly when the next meal was coming, and focused on other things. That’s powerful.
2) Fasting made me stronger… kind of.
Running on an empty stomach is a very interesting experience. On day 1, I couldn’t really detect any change, but by day two, it was a whole different ball game.
My sprint times we’re all down few seconds, and although I felt more tired towards the end of my sessions, my long distance times we’re faster too. I felt lighter, quicker, and more agile throughout the fast.
In the gym, it was a different story. While I did manage to increase my lifts by about 2.5 pounds, I could do less repetitions. My muscular endurance fell, and I didn’t manage to last longer than 35 minutes on the second day of the fast. I doubt this would be a problem on an ‘Intermittent fasting’ schedule, but on a two day fast, endurance was fell. Looking back on it, I think that being hungry kept me more motivated, which accounted for any increase in strength. AKA it didn’t really make me stronger.
You know how you just want to lie down and take a nap after a big meal? This was the opposite.
3) Intermittent fasting is just plain fun.
I like to eat. I don’t do fad diets, religiously eat salads, or pack a lunch sack full of tupperware that look an accessory to a Barbie and Ken’s playhouse. I just eat.
Intermittent fasting allowed me to enjoy bigger meals when it was convenient for me. I wasn’t stuffing cereal in my face at 5am, or racing around my kitchen to get a meal ready for work.
I ate big late in the day, when big meals are usually served with friends and family, and I enjoyed it. While I think it’s good to understand why intermittent fasting might be beneficial for hormones or fat loss, I think the primary reason people use it is because you end up eating more good stuff, and less gummy bears and frosted flakes. Fasting doesn’t really allow for a lot of snacking.
You’re meals are planned out, and they’re damn good. That’s reason enough to try it right there.
Everyone's different. What works for me might turn you into a
gargoyle. Only one way to find out, right?
Find a simple intermittent fasting plan, and if you see results, stick with it. If not, do something else. I'd recommend fasting for the mental benefits alone. Just make sure you don’t bite anyone’s head off. Oh, and pack Snickers.
Got a suggestion to do a two day fast, and I just had to try it. Apparently there are health benefits. In fact, there's an entire health community built around 'intermittent fasting'. Here's my experience with the first day.
Exhibit A: Justin and Kaisorn McCurry retire in their 30’s by saving up to 70% of their income and putting that money to work. Their income is below average. Justin says:
"It really just comes down to saving some of your income, setting it aside and letting it grow."
Exhibit B: Mike Tyson is flat broke, and to make matters worse, the bank repossesses his tiger. Mike fought hard, made 300 million dollars, then lost it all.
“Guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivia.” Bad move, Mike. See you on daytime TV.
The truth is, getting rich is easy. People will tell you that it's not simple, that it’s complicated, that you need advisors and algorithms. They’re lying. Look around at the real life people you see with money. They ALL have one thing in common: they save. They save more than they spend.
That’s all you need to do to get rich. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy NOT to do.
What happens when you start saving? As it turns out, spending much less money than you make is the one, and only way to get rich. Think about it:
If you can save 50% of your take-home pay starting at age 20, you’ll be wealthy enough to retire by age 37. If you already have some assets now, you’re even closer than that. If you
can save 75%, you could retire in 10. Let's hear it again:
If you start saving aggressively right now, you CAN retire in 10 years.
But how can you aggressively save?
You’ve got to be ruthless. Cut everything, and I mean everything, that’s non-essential. You don’t need that fancy dinner. Or that new watch. Or even that kermit the frog plush dressed up like Tupac. The bottom line is that most people don’t know how to save money. In fact, assuming you weren’t born rich, even if you doubled your income or won the lottery, you would probably be in the same spot 10 years from now. More than half of people in the US live paycheck to paycheck. The secret to getting rich is not doubling your income, but doubling your savings, by doing what most people won’t do. And that’s living cheaply. Frugally, at least in the places where it does really matter.
Would you rather go bowling, or be rich? Would you rather take an uber, or be rich? Would you rather order the creme brulee, or just take your date to mel’s and be rich? It’s a gross over-simplification. It’s baffling. But it’s also true.
Saving is easy to do, but it’s also easy not to do.
This isn’t just old geezers and hippies. This is a powerful subculture of young men and women retiring, finding their passions, and leaving behind the 9 - 5 because they’ve learned to save. Here are some of the techniques they employ:
1) Keep the big three expenses, housing, transportation and food, as low as possible. Make a ledger of what you spend on these verses what you make, and insure it’s at least 60%. Sound extreme? Well, so is moving to tahiti and hiring heavyweight champion Mike Tyson as your butler.
Move closer to work. Eat healthier, cheaper food that you can buy in bulk. Find a sweetheart deal on a place you can afford.
2) Keep the money out of your hands. If you’re only using a checking account, get a bank account, and insure you only allow yourself the cash that fits into your saving plan. If you can only spend 40% of your income, you won’t want to carry around much cash. Immediately put 60% in your bank account
This will force you to live cheaply. If you really do keep the money out of your own hands, you’ll struggle at first. You might not make rent, or even miss a few payments. But eventually, you’ll catch up.
3) Keep track of everything you buy, and if you aren’t on track, consider investing in an index fund. Create a ledger for your big purchases, and review it every few weeks. Decide on how you can improve, identify weaknesses, and search for ways to save even more. Eventually, you may want to invest in a basket of high-performing stock, know as an Index fund.
I don’t recommend playing the stock market yourself unless you have experience in trading or really know what you’re doing.
Save, be smart, and you’re not only on the fast track to easy money, but happiness. Once you cut out the excess, you’ll be left with who, and what, really makes you happy. Not just the activities and people that want what’s in your wallet. Good luck, and keep saving! Oh, and whatever you do, please don't buy a goddamn tiger. I don’t care how many times you’ve been punched in the face.
I broke the world record for “Most Yogurt Eaten in a minute". So can you:
Go on http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/set-a-record/, pick a record, and break it. Ideally with friends. I promise you’ll have fun.
It’s free, fun, ad badass. There are so many records to choose from, from calisthenics, to food, to bear hunting. People are happiest when they do something fun and spontaneous, but even more so when they accomplish something. Record breaking is both.
Share your records, videos, or plans in the comments section, and I’ll post them, and give you the credit.
Now get out there and set some records.
The world doesn't care about you. Sorry. The neighbors, your boss, your friends, even that cute barista doesn’t give a crap about who you are. Not even a little bit. They care about what you can do. What value you offer them. That sounds harsh, but it’s a truth you need to understand, and the earlier you get it, the closer you are to living on purpose.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; And one man in his time plays many parts’”
Your boss wants a good employee. Your friend wants a good friend. Your fiance wants a good fiance. Your mayor wants a good citizen. You fill different roles, and nothing else but how you fill the role is important. Your boss doesn't care about your awesome flower pressing, and I’ll bet your buddy doesn’t care about your coin collection. They care about how you fill the role, what you offer, or how you make them feel when you’re around. And that’s a good thing.
The world is too busy with their own problems to care about yours. While friends, family, and authority figures may offer encouragement or condolences, they’re really more worried for themselves or for the group. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We want to think that people like us for us. I want people to love me for the special snowflake I am. But I'm sure you do too. And that’s the problem.
This is why people say nice guys finish last, or why artists, athletes, and great men and women can get away with carrying massive egos. Good people offer value, making the world a better place. They solve problems. If all you offer society is niceness, you’re not really a nice guy at all.
If someone asks for donations to a charity, and all you offer is emotional support and a shoulder to cry on, you really haven’t done any good. Even if you don’t give a crap about the starving orphans, if you give a dollar, the orphans are infinitely better off. People can’t eat niceness. While I’m sure your amazing sense of humour or kindness makes you a smash hit with the in-laws, in that moment when the orphans ask for food, all that matters is what you offer.
If you want to know why you never seem to get what you really want, or why you seem to get no respect, it's because society wants you to do things. They need food, entertainment, thrilling relationships. Architecture, art, ideas, science, business, labour, friendships. Society doesn’t care about your tragic origin story that can only be told with violin accompaniment. Society doesn’t care about your mean backhand, or your tremendous whistling. Society only cares about the value you offer. It’s hard to accept. It was hard for me to accept. I’m sure it’s hard for you too. But if you focus on giving back, getting up and doing things, your life will get so much better.
Imagine how ridiculous it would be if you walked into an interview, and your pitch was that there was nothing glaringly wrong with you.
That isn’t to say a lot of your inner qualities aren’t valuable. They are. But only in certain situations. You shouldn’t be a dick because you know you shouldn’t. Treating others poorly makes us miserable. It’s just how we are. Humans are wired that way. The problem is that some people assume that not being a dick will get them through life. It won’t. Everything is circumstantial.
This shouldn't bring you down. It’s liberating! If you can give back value, if you can offer something that matters, nothing else is relevant. Regardless of you past, personality, quirks, or deficiencies, you can be successful if you offer value.
Like most people, I struggled with this. It’s hard to see out of our bubble. I’m certainly no expert. But when I stopped focusing on who I was, and started focusing on what I did, my life got better.
Monsanto uses child labour and steals jobs. Their CEO tries his best to emulate skeletor, complete with an evil laugh. But people buy from Monsanto because they offer a good product. The market doesn’t care about the supervillainy.
Kanye West is a dick but people buy his records. The KKK buys bean cakes from Nation of Islam because they taste good. The United states couldn’t have split the atom without Nazi scientists.
You’re probably a better looker than skeletor. I’m positive that your secret or flaw isn’t as bad as a factory full of children, or mass genocide. Whatever disadvantages you face can be overcome by offering value.
I’m not going to sit here and say people don’t have different abilities and setbacks. Being born Bruce Wayne is a hell of a lot better than growing up in a warzone. Society is unfair, and it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong. But what I will tell you is that these setbacks don’t matter. The only way for things to get better is to focus on what you can change. What you can offer.
So if you want more, give more. Develop a skill. Practice every day, even if you’re miserable at it. Get a talent, offer value, and you’ll go far.
“Do the thing and you shall have the power.”
This is a blog about doing stuff. It’s about adventures we can go on together to get us what we want. It’s about ways that we can challenge and improve ourselves. It’s also about watching me try out a lot of stupid things that may leave a big lump on my head.
The only way to get what you want, to have that badass life, is to go out and make it happen. Some people will tell you that mindset, study, or connections will get you there -- and I don’t disagree. That’s all important, but in the end, the only GUARANTEED way to get what we want is to take it. If you continue doing what you’re doing now, you’ll stay roughly the same place. You'll have about as much success, about as much money, and about as much happiness as you have right now. If you like where you are, that’s awesome. Stay put. But if you want more, the only way to get it is by doing more. That might mean getting a new job or side business for more income, going out more to meet people and become more outgoing, or trying out some crazy new sleep schedule for more time. Maybe you’ll have to travel. Maybe you’ll have to read more. The point is, you’ll have to do something new.
I’ll try out those somethings for you. Show you how they work out for me. I might even take suggestions from you all. Crazy sleep schedules, diets, impossibly long runs - it’s all fair game. And if you stick around, you’ll watch me do it.
I’ll post lots of adventures and new things readers can do wherever. But if you live in the SF bay area, you can go on adventures with me, and tag along for some good times.
We’re going to cover a lot of different topics and make plenty of tangents into lifestyle and culture issues, but when it comes down to it, we are talking about doing stuff, and the power that can give you. The power to be free from anxiety, the power to be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. The power to have the money, relationships, and level of happiness you want.
And the best way to illustrate that power is to have an opinionated and overly eager test monkey, to and show you that this is possible.
That test monkey is me, Patrick Bohan. I’ll use alter egos for some posts. They’ll have cute names too.
I’m going to explore radical new ways of thinking about how to plan out your time to get you off the debt-powered treadmill and into a life you want to live. I’ll be having guest posts and videos from role models, and occasionally, other great blogs. A guy who retired at 30 on a plumber’s salary has a lot to share with us. A woman who built a startup without enough money for an iphone probably knows something we don’t.
I’m not an expert. I don’t claim to be. I’m just the test dummy, consistently trying out new stuff. And you get to watch! Lots of readers I’m sure have more experience than me - that doesn’t mean trying and doing new things won’t change their life. No matter where you are, rock bottom or top, the only way to have more is to do more.
Become a regular reader of this blog, start doing more, and you’ll become even more badass. If you stick around, I promise your life will become a lot more interesting. See you at post #1.