3 Minute Monday – Overthinking, Debunking & Sausage Fests

Hi friend,

How much should you try to optimise your life?

How much should you be thinking about ways to improve?

How much should you care about things?

For many people, perhaps even most, the answer to all of these questions is “more”.

Indeed the world largely belongs to the intense optimisers, not the laissez-faire guy chilling in a hammock who hit snooze 3 times this morning.

Telling people to optimise more is a reliable way to improve the lives of most people because most people need to be tightened up, not loosened off, and being more obsessive will tend to deliver better results in worldly success.

Most advice is charitably given to people who need to think more carefully, be more deliberate and work harder.

The problem is when this message lands with the wrong audience.

The perennial perma-optimisers.

Then it creates a world where overthinkers are convinced to think even more.

These people need loosening off, not tightening up.

Given that you read this newsletter, I’m going to guess you fall into this category.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be obsessive and pay attention to detail.

The problem arises when you can no longer delineate between the very small number of things that matter enough to obsess over, and *everything else*.

Assuming you have a small bucket of pursuits which are important, you’ve probably learned that a very deliberate, effortful, optimised approach is a successful strategy

This obsession and addiction begins to bleed into all other areas of your life.

Turning off the tap of optimisation is hard and soon the entire map is flooded with the same desire to always push for perfect.

Your brain tells you “Look at how effective your perfectionism has been in your professional life! Why don’t we try to apply that to your sleep routine and training plan and love life and house cleanliness and toenails?”

One solution I learned about this week is Deliberate Deoptimisation.

Purposefully letting areas which could be dialled in further fall by the wayside in order to give your brain capacity to focus on the ones that really matter.

Focusing on your pounds, not everyone else’s pennies.

Sure, you could have 5 credit cards with special cashback bonuses and capture all the points for your air miles, but given that you’re already close to capacity on Things To Give A Shit About, is it wise to add yet another to the list?

Sure, your intra-workout nutrition could probably be dialled in more with some pre-digested grass-fed whey & dextrose, but what if this takes your energy away from the key area of just hitting the gym 5 times this week?

Sure you could spend all day watching the stock market instead of just investing in an Index Fund but how much damage will this new candle-graph-addiction do to your relationship?

Oliver Burkeman inspired me with a thought recently:

Question: “How much should you care about things?”

Answer: I’m unsure exactly but I know that it’s not “the absolute maximum amount, all the time, for everything”.

Not everything is a life or death situation.

And even if you know this cognitively, you still need to stop reflexively behaving like it is.

Deliberately letting go of certain areas is a good way to give overthinkers like us more space to regain some sanity.

MODERN WISDOM

I do a podcast which has had 550 million+ downloads. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

This week’s upcoming episodes:

Monday.
Dr Layne Norton – some outstanding evidence-based insights into optimal diet approaches, carnivore, veganism, intermittent fasting and fitness foods.

Thursday.
David Robson – one of my favourite authors returns to explain how human social connection works. I particularly loved his research-backed ways to improve the depth of your friendships and make relationships stronger, faster. Awesome.

Saturday.
800th Episode Special – me and me and me talking about my favourite lessons from the last 100 episodes. Some bangers from Mark Manson, Alex Hormozi and Ryan Holiday. LY.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED

1.
Debunking six popular science myths.

1. Contrary to popular opinion, people aren’t working longer hours these days than they did in the past.
In a new paper titled “Cheap Thrills: The Price of Leisure and the Global Decline in Work Hours,” Alexandr Kopytov and colleagues show that Americans today work an average of around 2,000 hours a year.
In 1900, they worked an average of 3,000. Meanwhile, real wages per hour worked have increased 10-fold, and the real price of recreation has dropped by more than half.
Thus, we work less but are paid more, and can purchase twice as much fun per dollar.

2. Are millennials less wealthy than baby boomers were at the same age, as we often hear?
Or are millennials actually wealthier than boomers?
The answer seems to be yes… to both questions.
A recent paper found that the poorest millennials are poorer than the poorest boomers were – but that the wealthiest millennials are also wealthier than were the wealthiest boomers.
This is because the returns to middle-class occupations have increased, whereas the returns to working-class occupations have slumped.

3. In the wake of Islamist terrorist attacks, people often worry about anti-Muslim backlash.
The worry makes perfect sense, and backlash sometimes happens.
Surprisingly, though, it often doesn’t.
Indeed, two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the average American actually felt warmer toward Muslim Americans than they had done before them.

4. According to conventional wisdom, European colonialists drew up African national borders thoughtlessly and arbitrarily.
Apparently, though, it’s not true.
On the contrary, in the pursuit of their self-interested goals, colonialists negotiated with local leaders, and learned as much as they could about historical borders and current circumstances, before making any decisions.

5. Contrary to the common belief that the rich don’t pay any taxes, the wealthiest 1% of Americans now pay nearly half of all income taxes, and more than the bottom 95% put together.

6. Many believe that global inequality is rapidly increasing: Rich countries are getting richer, while poor ones are getting poorer.
In many important domains, however, global inequality is actually declining.

—huge h/t Steve Stewart-Williams

2.
Human life without healthcare was brutal.

Prior to the emergence of modern medicine, the average mortality rate was roughly 25% for infants and 40–50% for children across human evolution.

That is, nearly half of our would-be ancestors did not survive to reproductive age.

3.
Sausage Fests are underpriced.

“If you invite 40 girls it’s a party.
If you invite 40 guys it’s a conference.” —Dickie Bush

LIFE HACK

Legendary Foods Sweet Protein Treats.

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Or a Cinnamon Roll.

With less than 4g net carbs.

I’ve been in love with these for over a year now.

Basically the ultimate hack to beat a sweet tooth and get more protein in at the same time.

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Big love,
Chris x

Try my productivity drink Neutonic.
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PS
I don’t know where to go in the US for July 4th. Tweet me your suggestions for the most epic celebrations.

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