DO THIS: Remember purpose


As I have been reminded many times of the importance of purpose and taking agency over the decisions in my life, I see it again in a Harvard Business School instructor comment about HBS Graduates:

“I can guarantee you that not a single one of them graduated with the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them.  And yet a shocking number of them implemented that strategy.”

So a bunch of really really smart people had their lives turn out different than they planned or even intended or even dreamed of. It is not a matter of resources or smarts.

“The reason? They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.”

Now this brings up two points.

  1. did these people KNOW, or are they aware of the “Purpose” of their lives?  Or was their purpose just at odds with the family and kids?
  2. Did they understand the amount of Agency they had in their own lives?

Agency and Purpose are intertwined.  And Purpose comes in different forms.  What has happened in my own life that led to my divorce was that the Purpose toward which I spent the vast majority of my time, talent, and energy (career and money) ended up in opposition to the Purpose of getting married and sharing my life with my wife.  I didn’t realize that until it was too late.  In fact, I thought I was doing it all right.  Grow up, get married, then make lots of $$ to take care of the family and give them all the opportunities in life.  Put my needs behind the needs of the family for money.  But the balance got off.  And half my money left with half my heart. It is a common story.  One that can be avoided with more awareness of a couple things.

  1. What is the purpose toward which 90-95% of your time, talent, and energy is going.
  2. Is that in alignment with your my long term goals?
  3. Am I exercising the Agency that I do have to choose the purpose that I am supporting with the time, talent and energy?

In the past I have gotten into trouble when:

  1. I have not stopped to ask the above three questions
  2. I have not recognized the amount of Agency I do have and exercised the Agency. I have let others decide for me.


DO THIS: Remember the impermanence of even MASSIVE investments

A couple weeks ago I went to China.  Of all the amazing things and people I saw and met there, one of the most striking things for me was The Great Wall.  On the ride out there my eager guide was telling me all sorts of stories about rulers and clans and infighting and this guy built X many KM of the wall and that guy built Y KM.  It all sounded like bees buzzing until she said she said: “at one point ruler XYZ had 1/5 of the entire population of China working on the wall, over 1,000,000 people and over 300,000 troops.”  Wait, What?  20% of the entire country on one project?  Building one technology?  And that technology is now falling down and completely obsolete?  20% of the national resources on something today totally useless.  Wow.  A couple thoughts came up:

  1.  There is NOTHING today that you could get 20% of Americans to work on all together.  Ok, in China that 20% was basically slaves, but I am even thinking of any common project that we could all voluntarily agree on is in the national interest.  Could we get 20% of us to do anything?  Unlikely.
  2. That is a massive investment in technology, in this case, defensive technology, that served for a time and is not completely and utterly useless.  Literally falling down and of no use other than tourism.  All those resources and dead people, thousands of years of effort.  Now obsolete.  How many of our current massive investments will be obsolete even that much sooner?  What massive efforts am I making today that will be useless even 10 years from now?
  3. Man, the command and control economy has some benefits.

Now when I think if the Great Wall, I think about technological change and investment.  How massive investments in technology can become useless.  How the timing must be right.  China likely got their money’s worth out of that technology.  But it is no longer useful.  Everything has a useful life.  No investment lasts forever.

DO THIS: Rules for Sons…

Saw a friend post this.  All good Rules I aspire to remember and follow (except the handkerchief thing).


1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.
2. Don’t enter a pool by the stairs.
3. The man at the BBQ Grill is the closest thing to a king.
4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer.
5. Request the late check-out.
6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
7. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.
8. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.
9. Play with passion or not at all…
10. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look them in the eye.
11. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.
12. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.
13. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.
14. You marry the girl, you marry her family.
15. Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.
16. Experience the serenity of traveling alone.
17. Never be afraid to ask out the best looking girl in the room.
18. Never turn down a breath mint.
19. A sport coat is worth 1000 words.
20. Try writing your own eulogy. Never stop revising.
21. Thank a veteran. Then make it up to him.
22. Eat lunch with the new kid.
23. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.
24. Ask your mom to play. She won’t let you win.
25. Manners maketh the man.
26. Give credit. Take the blame.
27. Stand up to Bullies. Protect those bullied.
28. Write down your dreams.
29. Always protect your siblings (and teammates).
30. Be confident and humble at the same time.
31. Call and visit your parents often. They miss you.

DO THIS: Increase your NAD levels

Six months ago I had no idea what Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) was.  Today I realize you can’t live without it and optimizing my levels can significantly improve cellular function, stave off aging, cure brain fog, cure chronic fatigue, eliminate compulsive behavior (a cognitive malfunction), and reset mood.  All these benefits I have experienced personally.

NAD is a coenzyme in many cellular functions.  It basically makes chemical reactions work better and cells function better.  Whatever kind of cell it is.  Brain cell, improved cognitive function, mood and decision making.  Muscle cell, more cardio capacity, and better workouts.  While most of the research and treatments with NAD have been focused on restoring levels in severely depleted individuals like addicts and those with major depressive disorders, my experience with NAD has been as a major performance enhancer in a generally healthy person (me).  It is one of those things that I didn’t know I needed until I got it, now I understand how important and fundamental it is to all cellular function.

While there are many natural ways to increase NAD levels (exercise, etc.), if you want significant improvement you need to supplement in some way.  Measuring NAD levels in the blood is very tricky requiring a complex process which is prone to error, so there is not really an efficient way to figure out your NAD levels.  But if you are deficient and you supplement, you will/should notice a difference.  There are three main ways to supplement NAD, here is my experience with each.

  1.  Oral NAD NR (a precursor to NAD+).  Take about 500mg per day and the studies show an increase in NAD+ production in your body of up to 40%.  The most popular pills are Elysium Basis and TruNiagen.  The business model of these companies is a standard continuity model where you are on subscription for $50 a month for the rest of your life.  I have taken both of these for about a year on and off. I don’t feel any difference in mood, cognitive function or underlying cellular function, but I do believe the studies that my NAD levels have risen.  The problem is how much and what did it do?  My recommendation is to go ahead and take one of these, it is cheap insurance.
  2. NAD+ injections subq (in the stomach) of 100-200mg.   This promises to provide an immediate increase in cell function.  I have done 100MG multiple times and have seen a significant short-term improvement in brain function that lasts 8-9 hours.  Here is the protocol I did recently:
    I did 100MG NAD from College pharmacy subq at 9:30am. I tested cognitive function using the BrainCheck app at four times:
    8:30am before injection
    9:45, 15 minutes after injection
    1:00, 3:30 after injection
    7:00pm, 9:30 after injection.
    Results are attached.  Basically, it felt like taking a couple Modafinil.  A massive increase in focus and ability to get work done.  It lasted about 7-8 hours then back to baseline.  Most pronounced effects were increases in coordination, delayed recall, immediate recall and executive function.  In specific sub cognitive functions:
    Coordination:  Basically a 200-400% increase then back to baseline.  I started very low, went up to average, then back to low.
    Cognitive Processing:  largely unaffected
    Reaction time: largely unaffected
    Executive Function:  about a 25% increase, then back a bit below the baseline.
    Visual Attention:  Largely unaffected, the massive dip at end I think is a testing error
    Immediate recall:  About 30-40% immediate increase, then fall off below baseline at end which I think is a testing error.
    Delayed recall:  150-200% immediate increase then back to baseline.
    Summary:  This is an amazing upgrade when you need or want to have the most productive day ever.

3. NAD+ IV.  Typically 750-1500mg in an IV that takes between 3-8 hours.  The IV takes a long time because there is flushing and nausea.  I have done about 20 of these IVs and the effects are not immediately noticeable like the SubQ injection, but last for longer.  For me about 3 months per IV.  I have done probably way more than is needed to reset the levels, but there is no documented overdose side affects, and I have not felt any.  I expect to continue doing 2-3 ivs every 2 months or so to keep my levels high.  When they are high I simply feel and function better. Hard to quantify, but “better”.  I recommend everyone does it.

Summary:  Get more NAD into your system.  Everyone can benefit.


NAD explained Wikipedia

Everything you ever wanted to know about NAD on Selfhacked.

How Coenzymes work (NAD is a coenzyme).

How NAD IV therapy works to cure addictions.

How the Krebs cycle works (NAD is a coenzyme in Krebs).

How NAD cured one guy’s brain fog.

DO THIS: 12 themes to prompt your journaling

when stuck, or just for fun.  pick one of these themes to prompt your journaling. They are the main themes of Stoic Philosophy.

Clarity — Remember, the most important task is to separate the things that are in your control from those that are not in your control. To get real clarity about what to focus on in life. As Seneca put it, “It’s not activity that disrupts people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.”

Equanimity — To the Stoics, the passions were the source of suffering. “A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent,” Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, “and such a person has strength, courage and endurance—unlike the angry and the complaining.” Calmness is strength.

Awareness — Accurate self-assessment is essential. Know thyself, was the dictum from the Oracle at Delphi. Knowing your strengths is just as important as knowledge of your weakness, and ignorance of either is ego (as we show here). As Zeno put it, “nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.”

Unbiased Thought — “Objective judgement, now at this very moment,” was Marcus’s command to himself. Our life is colored by our thoughts, the Stoics said, and so to be driven by this bias or that bias—this delusion or that false impression—is to send your whole existence off-kilter.

Right Action — It’s not just about clear thoughts, but clear thoughts that lead to clear and right action. “First, tell yourself what kind of person you want to be,” Epictetus said, “then do what you have to do.” Emphasis on the do. Remember Marcus: “Don’t talk about what a good man is like. Be one.” This philosophy is for life, not for the ethereal world.

Problem Solving — Are you vexed by daily obstacles or do you throw yourself into solving them? “This is what we’re here for,” Seneca said. No one said life was easy. No one said it would be fair. Let’s make progress where we can.

Duty — “Whatever anyone does or says,” Marcus wrote, “I’m bound to the good…Whatever anyone does or says, I must be what I am and show my true colors.” He was talking about duty. Duty to his country, to his family, to humankind, to his talents, to the philosophy he had learned. Are you doing yours?

Pragmatism — A Stoic is an idealist…but they are also imminently practical. If the food is bitter, Marcus wrote, toss it out. If there are brambles in the path, go around. Don’t expect perfection. Be ready to be flexible and creative. Life demands it.

Resiliency — Do you want to count on good luck or be prepared for anything that happens? The Stoics had an attitude of “Let come what may” because they had cultivated inner-strength and resilience. Make sure you’ve done your training.

Kindness — Be hard on yourself, and understanding of others. See every person you meet, as Seneca tried to do, as an opportunity for kindness and compassion. Nothing can stop you from being virtuous, from being good. That’s on you.

Amor Fati  Don’t just accept what happens, love it. Because it’s for the best. Because you will make it for the best. A Stoic embraces everything with a smile. Every obstacle is fuel for their fire, to borrow Marcus’s metaphor. (And here’s an awesome totem you can carry to remind you of that).

Memento Mori — We’re strong but we’re not invincible. We were born mortal and nothing can change that. So let us, as Seneca said, “prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life.” Let us put nothing off, let us live each moment fully. (And here’s an awesome totem you can carry to remind you of that).

DO THIS: Return from the body to the mind as soon as possible…

Been thinking quite a bit lately about the role of exercise in relation to leading a good life and philosophy.  Others have pontificated quite well on the Stoic view of exercise.  Here are my thoughts.

Senaca probably commented the most in detail about the relationship between the developing the mind and developing the body.  In summary, he wrote:

“There are short and simple exercises which will tire the body without undue delay and save what needs especially close accounting for, time. There is running, swinging weights about and jumping — either high-jumping or long-jumping … pick out any of these for ease and straightforwardness. But whatever you do, return from body to mind very soon.”

His main concern was that time spent on the body was time taken away from the mind.  Development of the mind is the primary Stoic goal in life. While I tend to agree that one should “return from the body to the mind very soon,” without a sufficiently healthy body, development of the mind can be severely hindered.   Today we have many more efficient ways to develop the body in less time than were available to Seneca.  At Bulletproof Labs, we have a couple of those technologies including a machine  that gives the hormonal response of a 3 hour work out in 21 minutes, a computer controlled weight machine that gives a week’s worth of strength training in 12 minutes, and a water vapor machine that increases cardio capacity by 20% in three 15 minute sessions sitting in a chair.  Man’s mind has been focused on making the body development more efficient and we now have some amazing hacks.

So my summary.  Take advantage of modern body development technologies to minimize the time spend on body development while keeping a strong and healthy infrastructure for mind development.

Do This: Turn words into works

Been reading a lot of philosophy over the break.  I am reminded that all this thinking about how to live is not for the thinking sake alone.  Unless I turn these words into works there is no value.  I would have just wasted all that brain power staring at my navel.  As the Daily Stoic Journal puts it:

“The art of living will never be found anywhere but in your own efforts to be a good person.  It is not to fill up pages with pretty thoughts but to inspire you to take action, to turn the words, as Seneca said, into works.

or as Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations 3.14,

“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue – if you can care for yourself at all -and do it while you can.”

DO THIS: Contemplate your choices

This morning during Morning Pages, I went on a rant which started from one of my core beliefs: That the only thing which is truly my own is my Reasoned Choice: Prohairesis.  The bottom line is that you are the sum of the choices in your life. And everything in life can be taken away except your choice (assuming your brain is still working, if you loose your mind, you may not even have choice left).

The problem of this morning was the flip side of Choice. The consequences.  What if you never look authentically at the consequences.  I have come to believe that the reality of rational choice also imposes the responsibility of rational contemplation and review of choices and consequences thereof.  If you never review your choices and evaluate if they are serving you, then you give up the responsibility for those choices.  Choices without reflection are just reactions.  They are of the autonomic nervous system. The challenge in this world is to be a better HUMAN, not a better animal.  The Human part requires reflection, contemplation, and review of the Choices.  That is why I like the morning gratitude journal and the evening Examin prayer (modified).  I see I need to write about those.  More tomorrow.


DO THIS: Transcend you “emotional ledger”

At coffee this morning with a buddy of mine, we were discussing his “emotional bank account” with his wife and the balances/imbalance thereof.  While many relationship books and advice talk about this “bank account” and the importance of keeping it in “balance”, this has never sat well with me.  In my experience, the problem is not the absolute balance in the emotional bank account at any one time, but the degree of AGENCY you allow the balance is this fictitious “account” over your mood and actions at any given point in time.  In short over attachment to the emotional account balance is the problem.   The solution is to remove the attachment, reduce the agency of the absolute balance at any one time.  As with most things, focus on the process, the journey, not one point in time measurement.

By focusing on the “balance” at any one point in time, one can lose focus of the bigger picture: the journey.  That is the core problem with allowing a measurement tool like the emotional bank account to determine or influence your reaction to the world or your current mood.  Let us consider the three possible states of the account and the natural reactions to each.

  • Even.  You feel like the balance in the account is even between you and your partner.  Everything is easy, peasy.  In balance.  And boring!  What happens in this state too long is you get restless.  Nothing is happening.  There is no drama either way.  So you get complacent and bored.  And you do something to put it out of balance mostly out of boredom rather than any malice.  In my experience, “even” has never been a long-term state of an account like this. While ‘even” may seem like a laudable goal, when I have been in it, it never lasts and never satisfies.  Identification with an “even” balance in the account always leads to boredom and an abrupt state change in my experience.
  • Negative.  When my balance is at a deficit somehow. Either I am not getting enough of what I want/need/desire (all problematic words in themselves), or when my partner tells me they are not getting enough (meaning I have not put enough into my side of the equation).  However it is calculated, when I feel like I am in a “negative” state, feelings of guilt, shame, unworthiness come up.  Also, self-righteousness can rear it’s head “I deserve better than this”, “I am doing all I can and it still isn’t good enough for XXX, why am I bothering?”  So I get sensitive and defensive which is never a good state to be in, especially if trying to have a relationship.  I have found it is very hard to grow to a positive place when I am focused on how negative the balance in an account is and how much I “deserve” more/better balance.   Identification with a “negative ” balance in the account always leads to defensiveness and makes progress out of that state even harder in my experience.
  • Positive.  When my balance is positive in my favor somehow.  Either I have put in (in my mind) multiple deposits over and above the average, or in relation to my “other” in the deal, I am somehow “better” than the other at some point in time.  This causes feelings of superiority, separation, and more self-righteousness. Identification with a “positive” balance in the account always leads to feelings of superiority/separateness and makes connections even harder in my experience.

In my experience, I am not happy in any “state” of the emotional balance account.  Given that no state of the account produces contentment, nor is any state a stable state (they always change), the best way to deal is to transcend the attachment to ANY STATE.  This is not the same as ignoring or denying the existence of the emotional balance sheet.  It is a real thing.  People generally keep the register in their head.  The register is not the problem. It is your identification with any particular STATE of the register which is the problem.  You are not your emotional balance sheet state.  Transcend identification with the state and you are then FREE of that burden.  Be aware of the state, make deposits and withdrawals, but do not IDENTIFY with the STATE.

DO THIS: Remember success is up to individual not the class 

Saturday was Women’s Equality Day and it happened to fall just as the controversy about a memo from an employee of Google about female programmers is finally dying down. If the ancient Stoics were here they would have shaken their heads at that entire fiasco. First, they wouldn’t let the scribblings of anyone, let alone some random employee at a tech company, get them so upset. And second, they would have said to that random employee, “What the hell are you so worked up about, man?”
They would have disliked the memo because it tried to argue about averages, as if they mattered in any practical way. The Stoics had no time for that nonsense—they cared about the individual. They would have agreed with Theodore Roosevelt’s point when he was asked about the then controversial movement for women’s suffrage. He said he didn’t understand the big deal, because whatever differences there might have been between genders, it paled between the differences he saw between “men and other men.” Point being: It doesn’t matter what group anyone is a part of—it only matters what they do with their individual capacities and potentials.
The Stoics were shockingly early to the notion of equality of the sexes. As Musonius Rufus put it, “not men alone, but women too, have a natural inclination toward virtue and the capacity for acquiring it, and it is the nature of women no less than men to be pleased by good and just acts and to reject the opposite of these.” More important, they believed that everyone and anyone was capable of excellence, regardless of station, origin, or gender. Epictetus was a slave, Marcus was emperor, Cato’s daughter was a woman and so was Seneca’s mother Helvia, who he wrote often about Stoicism—all were expected to rise to their particular occasions and we admire them because they did.
The next time you find yourself drawn into some idiotic debate about racial differences, about gender, about immigration, about identity, resist the mistake of applying labels and make judgements from them. There are brilliant men out there and utterly incompetent ones. There are brilliant women and utterly incompetent ones. (And this is true for every other kind of category.) We are all equal in that way. The only inequality that matters—that we should judge people on—is what they do as an individual.