20 Minutes to Become the General of Your Day

Boomer Anderson
December 15, 2019
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Recorded at the Narita airport in Japan. In this solo episode, I speaking how to be the general of your life, breathing, how to regulate your autonomic nervous system, and the benefits of a gratitude practice.


[2:52] Explaining the concept of gratitude

[10:41] The importance of breathwork for meditation

[13:15] My favorite aspect of meditation

[15:31] How to start meditating?


The Greater Good Center Website

Search inside yourself with Marko Lepik

Proper Breathing Brings Better Health

Meditation affects brain networks differently in long-term meditators and novices

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris

10% Happier by Dan Harris

Episode Transcript

Boomer Anderson 0:06 Welcome to decoding superhuman, this show is a deep dive into obsessions with performance and how to improve the human experience. Twice a week, I explore the latest science, technology and tactics with experts in various fields of human optimization. I’m your host, Boomer Anderson. Enjoy the journey. All right, super humans. It’s a special travel edition of the decoding superhuman podcast. I’m in Tokyo, Japan, live from Narita sitting here, staring at airplanes and thought why not record a podcast? Before we begin, you’re going to hear occasional interruptions behind me. It’s an airport after all. There’s going to be people walking behind me there’s going to be interesting noises and I’m sitting in a very comfy massage chair. which hasn’t made any noise yet, but may make noise at some point in the near future. And so let’s recap where I’ve been in the past four weeks. We started things off at the biohacker summit in Helsinki, which was amazing, great experience and is going to be in Amsterdam next year. But I came back to Amsterdam briefly for a couple of days really, just to get different set of luggage. Then went from Amsterdam to LA LA to San Diego, San Diego to Austin, Austin to Asheville. And now I’m in Tokyo, Japan. Yes, fresh off of a 12 plus hour flight from Chicago. And so today, given it’s December and wow, this year’s gone by quite fast. I want to talk about two habits that I think can be particularly helpful around the holidays. And so today we’re going to talk about meditation and gratitude and probably not in that order. The reason why I want to talk about this is because December is usually a rough month for people when it comes to their health. We have Christmas parties, holiday parties, the eggnog, you have boostin? Well, you have whatever it is, it’s just usually a time where people go off kilter, go off the wagon, if you will. And they remove themselves from their routines. It’s also time for family and family sometimes can be stressors. So how do we put you in the right frame of mind? How do we get you thinking well, so that you make it through these holiday seasons, being able to make the best decisions possible, but also being able to not bite the head off of some extended family members, etc. And so with that, let’s just dive right in. The first thing I want to talk about is gratitude. And I think gratitude means a little bit of an extra explanation because most people think of it more in terms of expressing gratitude. And that’s certainly valuable. seen as somebody are grateful for what they do. That’s great. That’s great. Yeah, great sentence Boomer, blaming the jetlag. But, what I’m referring to here is a practice. And it’s a deliberate practice that you do ideally every morning, where you take time and recognize things that you are grateful for. Now, before I get into the how, let’s talk about really the what and why it benefits you. So gratitude is a practice has so many benefits from a physical standpoint, you’re more likely to exercise. Yes, scientists have proven this and by the way, if you’re looking for the website that I love, on all things, gratitude, it’s the greater good Center at University of California Berkeley. But they’ve also found a gratitude practice to be better for your immune system, lower blood pressure, you get to sleep longer. And I’ll use sleep as the transition into the psychological aspect of things. Because oftentimes, elements of sleep disruption and insomnia are caused by really psychological factors. Think about that person that pissed you off during the day, that conversation that didn’t go your way, that workout where you missed a PR by half a pound or something like that. And so psychologically, gratitude can benefit us in many ways, such as higher levels of positive emotion. I don’t know about you, but I like to live my life in a generally positive fashion. You feel more alert, more alive and awake. I would add to that more energy, you get more joy and pleasure and so on. These benefits can be captured quite easily. And they can be captured quite simply in a daily practice. And so how do we institute that practicing everyday life? And I want to acknowledge the fact that most of you listening to this have some sort of time constraint in your life. And so I want you to be able to do this in five minutes or less. So for me, what do I do when I actually got this to stick the steps that I went through or first to just sit down and think about three things that I was grateful for? 123 it could be the nice people in Japan Airlines today. It could be the person I’m going to visit in Manila later. It could be the fact that I’m in one of my favorite cities in Asia. But nevertheless, just think of three things. And that’s a way to get started. And I just rattled those off and under 30 seconds. So really, there’s no excuses here. We’re lowering the barrier to entry. Let’s let’s say you Wanted to kick it up a notch. I can’t exactly explain why. But writing it down is extremely effective. So get out your journal, or wherever you brain dump into and start writing down every single morning, three things that you’re grateful for. doesn’t take that much longer than 30 seconds. But writing it down has had an exponentially more positive impact on me, then, really just thinking about it. So what do you actually write down? And I would start with three things, I would cap it at five. But what I like to do is make it a more deliberate practice than just the three things on my mind that I’m grateful for. I think about a person in the past that I’m grateful for every day. That’s number one. I think about an opportunity that I have that day. That’s number two. Number three is just some thing that is around me, for instance, my zoom h6, that allows me to record this podcast is something that I’m grateful for. And so, just to recap there, you’re writing down three things every day, could be in the morning could be at night. I always start with the morning because that’s usually one more in that tabula rasa moment and have really a clean slate. But writing down three things in the morning that you’re grateful for, number one, being an opportunity that day, number two person in your past that you’re grateful for having a relationship with and number three being that thing near you that you’re grateful for. If you wanted to kick this up a few notches, I’ve had a few clients and friends, start writing thank you notes to those people. But that’s probably more on On the next level side of things. So to get started, you got a five minute exercise right there, it’s pretty easy to do. So we’ve just talked about gratitude. And my entire explanation of it is going to take far longer or did take far longer than it will take you to instill this in your everyday life. Just doing it first thing in the morning or last thing before you go to bed is a great habit to get into or both. And then the second thing that I promised that we would talk about on today’s podcast is meditation. If cognitive enhancement is your goal, you may have come across nootropics or smart drugs at some point in your journey. Assuming you have the foundations correct, eating well sleeping while stressing well, or at least having some concept of resilience. You may want to look into the benefits of nootropics but and there’s a big but nootropics The Wild West, you need to trust the vendor. This is why I have enjoyed the products from those over at neuro hacker collective. For over two years. They operate looking at the whole system, providing products, resources and tools needed to help the whole being mind brain and body work together in harmony. They select only the finest ingredients which are independently verified for purity and I value that highly. I’ve used original stack since it came out. I now use quality of mind caffeine free five of seven days per week as per recommendations, but they also have a turnus a product designed for mitochondrial health and healthy aging, as well as focus which frankly will bring you more focus. And now neuro hacker collective is added again, innovating with a new energy drink. If you want to check out all of these, go to neuro hacker calm and use the code Boomer for 15% Alright, so meditation is a big, big topic and I refer you guys to the episode we did with Marco lepik on this for being one of the better episodes that I’ve done yet on meditation. But what if the objective is to start meditating? What’s our strategy? And really what are our tactics in order to make that happen? You guys know I like to lay out that formula, objective strategies and tactics. So the objective is to start meditating, what’s our strategy? Well for going to start meditating, and were hesitant to actually even meditate. I think there is warrant or it is warranted to actually focus on breath work first. Now breath work has numerous knock on effects to our nervous system helps put most of our sympathetic drive or sympathetic driven people into a parasympathetic state. So long as you’re doing it correctly, and we’ll link to this in the show notes. But getting a base of diaphragmatic breathing is very, very powerful in order to really just get your nervous system at ease, this is just easing into meditation. And so what are some ways that you can practice diaphragmatic breathing, you can simply do it by laying down or sitting in a chair, putting your hand on your belly and breathing into your belly. You can also begin to train your mind in your focus by breathing into the count of one breathing out to count one. And some people like to train this all the way up to 100. So you count up every time you complete a breath. And then you would start then again at zero. Once you’ve lost your focus, it’s a great way to train focus. However, if you’re just getting started That one can be particularly frustrating. And so before I get into the aspect of meditation let’s talk a little bit about the why. Because meditation has been an absolutely profound addition to my life since I added it about five years ago. Meditation changes the expression of several thousand genes. This is what you hear in many people’s presentations. But what does that actually mean? Well, the University of Wisconsin looked into meditation in terms of its effects on pro inflammatory cytokines and found that in the case of chronic meditators, as well as just meditators, there was a decrease or a down regulation of expression in those pro inflammatory cytokines, meaning less inflammation, with meditation. And if we look at inflammation is the basis for all bad performance outcomes or health outcomes really, we want to do things to that are anti inflammatory. So we know that it down regulates pro inflammatory genes. But let me tell you my favorite aspect of meditation or benefit from meditation. And look, guys, I know that there’s probably 15 that I’m missing or 100 that I’m missing. But let’s talk about my favorite aspect of meditation. Meditation allows me to pause. So in the heat of the moment, whether you’re arguing with your significant other or potentially having a business conversation, people tend to respond off the hip and with emotion, or off the cuff and with emotion. When you enter emotion into a business conversation, you actually decrease your credibility. Quite a bit, unless you’re demonstrating passion, which is a different subject entirely. But meditation itself has instilled the ability to pause before I react. And I can’t explain exactly why it is. But it was just after a couple of months of meditating, I would notice that before I would react to something I used to be quite a hothead. Before I react to something I would pause, reflect on what I really wanted to say what I wanted the outcome to be. And then I would act. And that in itself has probably avoided numerous conflicts, both in my personal and professional life, but has also served me quite well. from just being a better human being. And this isn’t like a big, big pause. By the way, it’s just an split second, where I’m able to make better decisions. And finally I meditation it allows me to become General my life I noticed that on days when I meditate, I am much more of the general and in control the flow of my life rather than the infantry man who’s on the field just doing things and answering emails and really reactive, it allows me to be more proactive with my life. So if we talk about the ability to pause, we talked about the ability to down regulate inflammation, we talked about the ability to change expression of genes, and we talk about that ability to be the general of your life. Well, how do we start meditating? breathing was certainly a good start. But when you actually want to get in the act of meditating, I started by simply putting on Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, which I believe is eight minutes and two seconds long. And up until you get to the point where Jimmy Page just kicks ass and a guitar solo. You have a pretty good meditative song. And I just started listening to it and the only thing I would Focus on is the words or just start to focus on nothing at all let my mind clear. And after I got into that, started building a habit of just listening to Stairway to Heaven every day, I began to search out other avenues and meditation because I knew this was good for me. There I stumbled upon things like headspace and calm when they first came out. I eventually found my way into transcendental meditation, which is a very expensive route to getting into meditation. But that is a mantra based meditation where you’re simply given a mantra, and you say it over and over again with your eyes closed for a period of 20 minutes, ideally twice a day. But the key here is to just get started. So if that just getting started for you, is listening to Stairway to Heaven, by all means, go do it. That certainly helped me quite a bit but, If that just getting started for you as a guided meditation, how there’s plenty of great ones out there. I mean, one of my current favorites is waking up with Sam Harris just because I love most things Sam Harris says and does. But I also enjoy 10% happier, which is one of the books when I originally came out that was really encouraging for me to pursue more meditative practice. And so let’s wrap this one up, guys. We’ve talked about the reasons to meditate. And remember, five minutes a day is enough to get something started. Ideally, most of the science suggests around 20 minutes a day is where you want to be. But we talked a little bit about meditation, and just that ability to be the general of your life. We’ve talked about breathing and how to regulate your autonomic nervous system. We talked about Gratitude, which just allows you to flow through life with a great energy, a great spirit. And so let’s wrap this up. You can find the show notes for this one at decoding slash gratitude and superhumans if you enjoyed this episode, please send a message to podcast at decoding superhuman calm. If there are particular topics that you want covered on future shorter episodes, please indicate those there as well. And if you enjoyed the episode, I would really love it if you guys head to iTunes and leave a five star rating. Every five star rating helps. You guys are epic. I’m going to sign off from Tokyo now. Very good night.

Boomer Anderson
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