My life has been improved immeasurably not so much by what I have added to it, as by what I have taken out of it.
Below are the stories of how I gave up 4 things that have made all the difference in my life — and why (and how) you can do the same.
- ALCOHOL. When I was 29, a buddy challenged me to quit alcohol for 365 days. We made a bet, which I won. I also met a beautiful 28-year-old woman with flawless skin who had not taken a single sip of alcohol until she was 25. It was clear to me that alcohol aged me, in more ways than one, and I decided I was going to quit it for good. Now 4+ years down the no-alcohol path, I can attest that not only is my skin healthier, my overall health is better, my energy is better, my sleep is better, and I am 30% richer than I otherwise would have been. In a competitive work environment, if a 22-year-old goes out drinking the night before, it is so much easier for my energy and effort to surpass his, even though he has 10 years on me and should be able to kick my ass. Alcohol is the great equalizer: average people drink, champions abstain. Check out my buddy’s 30-day No Alcohol Challenge to re-evaluate your drinking. If I can do it for over 1,000 days, you can do it for 30 ;-)
- SUGAR. The scientific evidence is mounting that sugar is basically the cancer-feeder and a toxic agent we should all remove from our diets immediately. This will be extremely hard for most people because the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is loaded with added sugars even in foods that should have none (breakfast cereal). It takes an act of will to throw out all the sugary foods in your house (basically, everything) and start from scratch with fresh whole foods bought at a farmer’s market or equivalent — foods that your great-grandparents would recognize. I removed sugar from my diet when I was about 25 years old and noticed an immediate change — I got a six-pack with no additional exercise. I now maintain a visibly defined six-to-eight pack (depending) year round while eating a much improved New Standard American Diet: vegetables, beans & legumes, whole wheat & sprouted grain, nut butters, avocados, olive and coconut oil, and a little wild line-caught fish every once in awhile. I drink only water, black coffee, green tea, or goat’s milk. I am satisfied, fulfilled, full, satiated, and I look and feel great. I recover quickly from training and my cholesterol numbers are off-the-charts good.
- “SHOWS” I love movies in the theater. I live near a classic theater where a real live human actually plays an organ before the Saturday matinees, rather than being forced to sit through a million commercials. Fewer and fewer people of my generation own a “TV” but now they all watch shows on the internet; a common phrase I hear from colleagues is: “Oh man I stayed up so late last night finishing Gotham, I can barely function today” — is this really how you want to live your life? How is this different from staying up late drinking alcohol? Science is now showing that sleep debt is similar to alcohol in many ways. The average man will watch “shows” on Netflix when he could be investing time in improving himself, his relationships, or his business. Life’s too short: when you spend time watching shows you are saying to the Universe, “I just want to pass the time until I can be put under the ground.” The Universe will reward you accordingly because the Universe alway gives you what you want. Time can waste as well as be wasted.
- COMPLAINING. The average person will complain 3 times an hour. Don’t believe me? Make a tally this week at work and note how many times your co-workers open their mouths it is to complain about something — usually something over which they have no control. One of the best tools I’ve learned from adopting a Buddhist mindset is this: “If something can be fixed, what’s the use complaining about it? If something can’t be fixed, why complain about it?” The message is clear: in 0% of situations is complaining justified. This is also one of the blessings of having people in my life who have had it harder than me growing up — whether it’s someone who grew up in the Projects or someone of a different race who was continually mocked and had to learn English as a second language before being accepted in society. Let’s face it, most of us have had comfortable lives. Comfort is the enemy, which means complaining is toxic. Instead of the default of complaining, you must set your default to appreciation, gratitude and always thinking of solutions rather than just pointing out problems. Every day you should be thinking of 10 solutions to the most pressing problems your business or company faces as well as 10 new ideas for how your company could make an even bigger and better impact on the world. Do this every day for 6 months straight and I promise you your life as an employee or business owner will drastically improve.
If you can give up even 1 of those 4 things, your life will improve. If you give up all 4 of those things, your life will change so much as to be almost unrecognizable in 6 short months. You will have a radical new level of energy, more time, more mental energy, and more solutions to problems, meaning you will be more valuable at work and potentially better paid (or on your way there).
But don’t take my word for it: try it and find out for yourself. Let us know your results in the comments.
Also published on Medium.