Some of my regular readers may know that I, from time to time, go to OrangeTheory to work out. This studio has exploded since it first came out and has expanded to numerous locations across Canada and the US (and the world). Throughout the studio, they have different words such as “Believe” or “Achievement” designed to inspire exercisers to get through their workout. One of the quotes that I started thinking about is a quote that I’ve seen in lots of their promotional materials at studio: “Get more life” and inspired by the quote, I started thinking about other ways that people can get more life (aside from exercise):
We only have so much time in the day to do the things we want to do, have to do or need to do and so it is clear to me that to get more life, you have to really prioritize all the things that you need to do to figure out what is most important for today. I heard a story about how a professor walked into class one day and told the students that he was going to fill a jar full of different sized rocks. First, he filled the jar with the biggest rocks. Next, he filled the jar with medium sized rocks. He then filled the jar with small sized rocks. Lastly, he filled the jar with sand and small pebbles. He asked his students what would have happened if he filled the jar first with the sand and small pebbles and then tried to fit in the bigger rocks. The students agreed that the bigger rocks would not fit. He used this as a way of telling the students that the rocks represent the things that they want to do – the bigger the rock, the higher the priority, and the jar represents their life. If they fill the jar (their life) with the smaller unimportant things, they will never have the space (the time) to do the bigger things in their lives.
Find people to share your successes with
I’m not an expert in finding a partner or know any science behind sharing the success with others and whether that is better for your happiness – what I do know is that from my life, when you share your success with others, you get to celebrate multiple times. Just like how Jim Kwik in his podcast likes to say that when you teach someone a concept, you get to learn the concept twice (once when you learned it, twice when you teach it to someone else). And while I mentioned partner above, it does not necessarily have to be a romantic partner, you can also share your success with your family, with a good friend, with others (perhaps through charitable donations or kind acts).
Optimize for experiences over material things
Studies show that you get more enjoyment in the long term over an experience you had (for example, a trip to Hawaii) over material things that you buy (a new car or television). I’ve found that as well in my life – you can bond over your friends over the different things that you buy but it doesn’t last as long as conversations for when you bond over similar experiences (say you both went to Hawaii or both have been sky diving). I can’t tell you what to buy and what not to buy but if you want to optimize for happiness, I would suggest opting for experiences over material things (or say going for more trips rather than buying that shiny new TV).
Practice the art of minimalism
I’m not a minimalist by any means but what I do like about the idea of minimalism is that you make the most out of the things that you do own or have and that you practice being grateful for everything that you have. It is easy to get caught up into buying the next shiny thing or to buy the next version of things (I certainly am still guilty of this at times) but it is also important to really slow down and figure out whether you are fulfilling a need or just want that next hit of “I now own the latest shiny new thing”.
Laugh every day
I can probably look up and copy the monologue by the late Robin Williams in Patch Adams on why laughter is so good – it increases the oxygen to the brain, helps you relax, reduces stress, and there’s a whole plethora of benefits but I also don’t think I have to convince you, the intelligent reader, that laughter is good for you. Here are some things that I like to do to get a laugh:
- Browse reddit.com/r/funny
- Browse youtube for funny pet videos
- If the newspapers or magazines have them, look at the joke of the day
- Watch standup on Netflix
Walk outside and be one with nature
For myself, I work a desk job full time so I pretty much live in the concrete jungle (the city) for most of my days. So when I want to recharge, I try to find a park or garden somewhere and walk outside. I heard, but haven’t tried it myself, that every so often, you should walk outside, barefoot, and touch your feet with Mother Earth as that will help you to recharge, reduce stress and connect with nature. I think there’s something about connecting with the ground, getting dirty and not worrying about having to be clean all the time.
Disconnect from technology
Robin Sharma, in the 5 AM club, outlines what an ideal day would look like without technology: for a few hours in the morning, not looking at your phone, not checking social media or your e-mail and for a few hours at night prior to going to bed, again, not looking at your phone or watching Netflix on your tablet. Ever since reading Robin’s book, I’ve tried to get off of my phone on the weekends – leaving it to rest on a kitchen counter somewhere rather than always having it by my side and idly checking my phone when I have a chance to among commercials and such. Disconnecting from technology has helped me to connect with people in person and be more present with others and truly, attention is a finite resource nowadays.
Meditation, much like exercise, is an investment of time that pays returns. It increases focus. It helps to organize your thoughts. It reduces stress. It increases concentration. It increases the ‘muscle’ of returning to the present. Whenever I think about what meditation, I remember the story of the head monk who told his other monks that he was going to meditate for one hour that day. His other monks told him that he was super busy, he didn’t have time to meditate for one hour, he had a long to do list of items to tick off, he had appointments and he had lots of things to do. The head monk calmly responded that this means he has to meditate for two hours then.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time
We all develop routines – a path to work, specific things that you do first thing when get back from home, weekends with the family, night time routines and other things that are automatically done. These routines are great – it helps minimize decisions, helps with efficiency and there’s a sense of calm with getting into the routine of things – think about when you go on vacation to another country and the moment when you get back home and back into the routine of things.
There are also times when getting out of routine is good. Trying new restaurants. Taking a different path to work.
I have a thing with one of my best friends whenever we go get bubble tea – I always want to try something different that I haven’t tried before. He likes to stick with what is good – strawberry milk tea. It’s safe. It’s consistent across different stores. It’s good. I can’t tell you all the different ones that I’ve tried: sour plum bubble tea, a panda milk tea, grapefruit green tea – not all of them are good but since I never know what to expect, the experience itself is good even if the drink is good or bad. It throws me out of my routine and that can help you re-think the things that you normally do.
Indulge once in a while
Tim Ferriss recommends the slow carb diet. In the slow carb diet, you eat slow carbs (lentils, beans or legumes in general) and stay in the slow carb diet (basically eat the same meals) for six days of the week. On one day of your choosing, you get to have a cheat day. The cheat day serves a number of purposes – one is to be able to indulge in something you really crave for but does not fit the slow carb template and the other good reason is that it helps your metabolic rate not downgrade from caloric restriction.
Similar to the slow carb diet, you can lead a 90% good life (exercise regularly, eat healthy, save money) but from time to time, you’ll want to eat that fried chicken at the brunch place you visit or you will want to spend what is probably a significant amount of money on something that others would not normally spend a lot of money on (my vice seems to be badminton equipment, sportswear and books).
The last time I ate fried chicken, it was so good. But then after, I was reminded of why I don’t eat fried chicken all the time (although truth be told, I do think about it from time to time when I’m hungry). Indulging once in a while helps remind you of why you are eating healthy or exercising regularly. Indulging inherently also means that you are not doing it all the time.
Re-introduce the concept of play
Some of my favourite moments are with kids. They have wild imaginations, unencumbered by years of school, TV or other things ‘imprinted’ by others around them. They have fun. Spending time with kids helps me see the levity in situations and in thinking creatively about different situations. How is it that one kid can take one toy and play for hours? And in contrast, an adult needs a smartphone with millions of possibilities to be captivated?
While I play with kids, I often think about how I can introduce the concept of ‘play’ in all the things that I do. Whether it’s eating out at a restaurant (I once stood in front of an open concept kitchen watching the chef make noodles with my friends begging me to come back to the table to sit down), walking around in the park (I pretended that the floor was lava and I tried to get from one spot to another through the playground) or even at work (I took a slide and thought that I would introduce the Google Chrome tab concept to the slides). Play sparks creativity. Play introduces fun and brings levity to situations.
What are some things that you do to get more life? Exercise is huge but I’m curious as to what others do – let me know in the comments!