Do your work before breakfast

I’ve only recently started to realize that eating breakfast might not be better than eating breakfast right after getting up in the morning.

You can hear many health and nutrition “experts” almost nagging at people to eat three times a day and how important breakfast is.

Based on what evidence?

People have been living literally hundreds of thousands of years eating irregular meals. Did the cavemen sit around the table to eat their oatmeal after waking up? No. They went out hunting and gathering. In those times, you were lucky to eat at all. Sometimes days went by before you got a proper meal.

Intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, and not eating breakfast seem most natural to us. So, I thank you for your advice, but I’m going to go with what has worked for thousands upon thousands of years.

Another reason is based on my own experience. I’ve noticed that if I don’t eat breakfast and only drink coffee (black, no sugar, no milk), I’m hyper-focused. On the other hand, if I do eat before starting to work, my mind is hazier. I can still focus, but I don’t have that same clear, razor-sharp attention.

From an evolutionary biology point of view, this makes perfect sense. If the cavemen hungry, they needed that strong focus in order to maximize their chances of securing a food source – to maximize their chances of survival basically.

On the other hand, if you’ve just eaten, your body spends its energy and resources to digest the food, and for your brain, there’s no real need to spend energy on anything else. It’s not a priority.

We can use that extra focus on doing our work instead as nowadays we don’t exactly need to do a lot of thinking to have a meal.

Some people say they can’t go without breakfast. Of course, you’ll feel this way, if you’ve lived your whole life this way. I also always ate breakfast and didn’t imagine not starting my day without it. Most things take a little bit to get used to.

KRISTJAN

RAS and The Secret

Have you ever wondered how much data comes on our way every day and moment?

How many pieces of information are available to you at this very moment. How many objects can you see around you? Would you even be able to count them all? Now think of all the different characteristics these objects have: the details, the colors, the shapes, etc. A single object like a doorknob can have dozens of parts.

Imagine all the details on a busy street (the people, the cars, the houses) – too many to count and describe.

How come our brain can process all that data? It doesn’t! This is where the RAS – reticular activation system comes into play.

This is a system in our brain – a gatekeeper that decides what information is let in and what is not – most of what we see or hear doesn’t enter our mind – we won’t become aware of it. If all the data around us would come in, our brains would probably fry in a split of a second.

In other words, the RAS is what we focus on – what at that particular moment is of value to us. You might have a really interesting conversation with your friend (where your RAS is at), but if there’s suddenly a loud noise coming in, your RAS will immediately shift – as for your brain this new source of data is a lot more valuable at that moment in time.

If you’ve ever bought, e.g., a red item of clothing only to start noticing red everywhere – especially if other people are wearing red – this is RAS at play.

If you become really interested in something – let’s say photography, then whenever some information related to photography enters your field – you’ll be immediately focused on that. E.g., you see someone with a camera; your focus will be on that camera really quickly. The ‘gatekeeper’ will almost prioritize that information as it has value to us.

Our selective focus also plays a role in our thoughts and mindsets.

If you generally focus on complaining and problems, then all you see is problems and issues. On the other hand, people who have a positive mindset, will (mostly) see opportunities and solutions.

Chances are you’ve heard about the “Secret.” Many people critizise it for being a woo-woo sham. Looking at it from the RAS perspective, it doesn’t seem that magical anymore.

Of course, you still need to actually take action, as nothing is going to magically manifest itself if you simply think about it. The Secret works, but only if you take action.

If you’re dreaming about a house and a car and a good life, then go ahead, hang pictures of those things around you but also work towards to get them. I have a friend who did just that. There are probably countless examples of people praising the law of attraction. E.g., Conor McGregor has told that he visualizes success hard. But does he sit at home and think about being the best MMA fighter in the world? Or does he actually go to the gym? Obviously rhetorical questions.

KRISTJAN

Why I write and why you should too

Writing makes you think. It’s impossible to write without thinking at least a little bit.

Everyone can share photos or text that others have made, but can you make something yourself? Of course, you can. We all have that ability, but if we don’t use it, we become rusty – very rusty.

I think the biggest problem that holds most people back is that they set way too high standards. They think being able to write is a talent you need to be born with and that writers are these people who use complex vocabulary and whose text just flows like a river as they type on the keyboard non-stop.

Here’s my standard: the sentences have to be coherent sentences that make sense in the English language. That’s it. I don’t worry about being good or having a logical structure – my goal is to write an article (short or long – doesn’t matter) with sentences that make logical sense.

Here’s the truth: true, sometimes the text does flow like a river but more often than not I simply stare at the blank screen having no idea whatsoever. I write a sentence, then delete it, then write a new one, then think “what the hell am I even doing?”, then write some more, and some more.

As far as I’ve come to understand by reading a little bit about the writing processes of other authors (I don’t call myself an author btw), they all have these kinds of moments: staring at the blank screen for periods of time.

What they do, however, is they don’t give up. They keep at it. 

I read a story (I wish I could remember where) about a lawyer who decided to become a writer. So he simply started writing – he wrote several hours a day for years. If I recall correctly, it was around three years after he managed to get published. He won some awards and became quite well known.

Another story is about a guy who worked in a financial area and decided to become a programmer. So he told his parents that he’s going to move back to their place (they weren’t very hopeful about his goal) and that he’s going to teach himself programming for the next three months. Fast forward: he became a successful developer.

What these stories have in common is that if we would just stick around long enough at something, we can become whatever we want to become. But we have to stick around.

Nowadays all the information is out there. Everything is online: thousands upon thousands of videos, articles, books, lectures, etc. There’s so much information about everything that you’ll never run out of it. You could probably watch videos on Youtube about any subject till the day you die and still not run out of material – not, that you should of course.

Writing every day will teach you commitment. I don’t like the word “self-discipline” that much, so I use “commitment” instead.

“Un ouvrage n’est jamais achevé . . . mais abandonné”.

Paul Valéry, “La Nouvelle Revue Française” (1933)

Committing to something means you stay at it no matter what. You’d rather die than quit. Because you want to, not because you have to. True, at first you have to, but after a while, it becomes “I want to.”

I urge you to start writing. It doesn’t mean you have to publish everything you write or course. The texts you write will remain, the ideas will remain, the lessons you’ll learn will remain – so you can always publish whenever you feel like.

KRISTJAN

Having vs. doing vs. being

There are three main levels of operating in this world. 

Spiritually speaking, people at the lowest paradigm mostly care about having – they worry about possessing – “what’s mine,” “this is mine,” “I can’t lose this” etc. Their self-worth so to speak is built around having material possessions. If they would lose their money, or they would go broke, then that would mean the end of their life. This is why some investors, stock-brokers, or other business people commit suicide when they lose their money. They operate on this level and can’t see beyond. Homeless people are also a great example of this – they don’t often even want to see the opportunities – they only care about the change (kleingeld).

There’s nothing wrong with “having” or “doing” per se. It’s the frame of mind it comes from what matters. We all own things, but we might see this possessing fro ma different angle. Some people will freak out if they lose their phone will others see the phone only as a tool and will just get another one when can – their life has bigger problems to solve than to worry about such petty things. 

The second level is “doing.” People in this paradigm of mind think they have to always “do” something in order to live up to their mind-projected higher self. They can’t be enough just being themselves; they always need to compensate. They always pursue, and they always need more and more – more money, more of this, a better car, a bigger house. These are e.g., the workaholics and self-help junkies.

Again, nothing wrong with working hard and hustling. We should hustle. The difference comes from the fact whether your self-worth is based on this “hustling.” Do you still feel perfectly at ease and enough if you stop doing everything? Will you be a different person than before? Let’s say you lose your job; you stop reading books, you don’t go to the gym anymore – would your self worth be affected? It really shouldn’t. You’re still the same person as you were before.

The highest state to operate is the “being.” This is when you know that your self worth is not affected by the things you have or by the things you do. You’re at ease with yourself no matter what happens externally. Besides, in many cases, we can’t control what happens around us. We can control our actions, but we often can’t control the outcomes. If you plan a picnic and then it rains the whole day heavily – has anything really changed?

KRISTJAN
Taipei, Louisa Coffee at 9.47am

Self-sabotaging

Here’s the thing: our unconscious mind runs the show. Whatever is down, there affects us – and if it’s not dealt with, it runs our entire life.

So it is not rare that just before we start to gain success – instead of moving forward and simply continuing to do what we were doing before – we do something to stop that. Logically (consciously) it wouldn’t make any sense to do it, but we do it nevertheless. We don’t even know why we do it; we just do it.

Why? Again, because the unconscious is running us. Imagine the conscious mind being the tip of the iceberg and the other 90% the unconscious mind. E.g., when you were bullied in school, then those certain negative aspects that you didn’t want to deal with, go down there. Everything we’ve ever suppressed is in there. Unless we deal with them, they stay there – they haven’t gone anywhere.

Therefore, deep down inside, we might not feel worthy of success. This becomes our identity, and we rationalize our failures accordingly. 

When we do gain success, it’s not in accordance with the identity we have constructed, so we unconsciously behave in a way to become in sync again. Instead of shooting for the stars, we shoot in our foot instead.

This is exactly why we might feel that we’re stuck never moving forward and always falling back again. 

The solution would be to let all that negative mess bubble up and accept it. Focus on it until it disappears. 

However, instead of focusing whatever comes up, we don’t want to deal with it and shove it in our unconscious until it reaches a critical mass and we burst out over some little thing to let that pressure out. This process repeats until the next critical mass.

Another way we tend to deal with those negative thought patterns is to escape from them. This is why people watch Netflix or play video games all day, drink excessively, do drugs, etc. So they wouldn’t have to deal with themselves.

We sabotage. 

So, how to deal with it? By letting go.

Focus on the feeling that comes up – not on the thoughts. There are too many thoughts, and thoughts are endless. By focusing on thoughts, we’re essentially trying to solve the problem of thinking by thinking. It doesn’t work. However, when the underlying feeling disappears, the thoughts associated with the feeling disappear as well.

The feeling needs to be experienced and not judged. Bring it up, let it stay with you, and eventually, it will go away. Another one might come up (there’s probably plenty of mess in our subconscious), so just repeat the process. The more you let go, the lighter it will feel. Try it!

It’s all about self-acceptance. Al that “we’re not good enough unless…” needs to come up and let go of. Until the subconscious is cleaned up, it keeps running our lives – it’s just too heavy compared to our conscious mind. 

How to do it in practice? 

Meditation is one way that personally has helped me. Also, simply being alone with your own thoughts. Here’s a test: next time you meet a friend at a cafe – arrive 30 minutes early and see if you can simply wait without checking your phone once. Instead of thinking, focus on being present. 

Nowadays we’re so caught up in constant action, and we do all we can to avoid being with ourselves. This is being unconscious. Being present is being conscious. You’ll notice that if you focus on the present moment, to the sounds, to the feelings and not thinking, you’re highly conscious instead.

We’re all tyrants inside

We all judge other people in some way or another. Even if we don’t say anything out loud, in our heads, we still evaluate them by the way they act, dress, or speak. 

E.g., for me this manifests when I see people on their phones in a cafe while they’re out with their friends or family; or if someone has books out on the table most likely with the intent to study but are the whole time on their phones instead.

I sometimes can’t but help to judge them in my head for wasting their time and being shallow. I know I’m not a better person than they are, but these thoughts come nevertheless – whether I want them or not. Why is that? Why is it that we judge other people? 

After all, we’re not “better” than they are. We’re all equal as human beings. Besides, maybe they read a book on their phone, maybe they’re doing a business deal, maybe they’re helping a friend – we don’t know. So why judge?

Wouldn’t it be ironical for me – who’s trying to figure out my life – to judge someone who unbeknown to me is conducting a business deal worth thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more!) on their phone? Silly, but we do this a lot. Our own lives might be a mess, yet we want to teach other people how to live.

I’ve found an interesting correlation. When I’m stepping up in my life, doing my own thing, keep improving, then I don’t pay attention to other people or how they live their lives. I don’t really care as I’m focused on my own thing. These things don’t even register in my brain. I might see, but I don’t really “see.” The same way you might see ads on the street – seeing but not focusing on them.

People who are realized in their own life never criticize others. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out on our own.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

I believe our inner tyrant arises in us when we’re not living our lives. We stop being the actor – the active force and become a spectator instead. Spectating not ourselves but for others. We stop being at the cause and start being at the effect instead.

You probably know some people who are always grumpy, complaining about others and everything. It’s not that they’re grumpy, it’s because they’re in pain. They’re drawn only to negativity because that’s what they’re focused on. They don’t see anything good about their own life so they mirror that outside – looking only for negative things so that their world view – that everything is bad – would make sense.

Therefore, if you spot yourself judging others, it’s a sign that you need to step up in your own life. It’s a great indicator that you need to change something. 

KRISTJAN