Being Your Best You and Going Places

In conclusion of these series of articles on empowered life, after everything we have covered, you should now be starting to live the empowered.

What does that mean?

Well, on the surface you should now be dressing, looking and feeling more powerful and more confident. Your home is tidy, your clothes are sharp and you have greater confidence and happiness.

Now that you know what your life’s purpose is, you’ll be projecting that sense of purpose to all you meet. You’ll have a greater sense of self and you’ll convey enthusiasm and charisma in all that you do. What’s more, is that you will be calmer, happier and less anxious yourself – and you’ll have a tremendous sense of accomplishment and actualization that comes from moving forward and continuing to grow.

You’ve honed your discipline, your gratitude, and your emotional resilience. You’ve learned to appreciate the smaller things in life and to chase after the bigger things.

But it doesn’t end here. This is just the start of becoming the very best version of yourself: of evolving and developing into someone who goes after the things they want. Someone who others look up to, admire and want.

Continue your hero’s journey, continue to discover yourself and to grow. Continue to take on challenges and love life for the hard times as well as the good. Don’t give into the grind and don’t be tempted by comfort. You are empowered now and power means potential. Your potential is limitless.

IMPORTANT: To help you further take action, print out a copy of the Checklist and Mindmap I provided. You’ll also find a Resource Cheat Sheet with valuable sites, posts, and articles that I recommend you go through.

 

In a previous post, we looked at the reasons that so many of us aren’t happy and that so many of us feel like we’re just struggling to stay on top of things rather than moving forward meaningfully.

We’re too tired and too stressed but stress is not the enemy here. In fact, stress can be a good thing (called ‘eustress’) if we’re stressed about something we care about. The right amount of stress is necessary for anything to present a challenge and it is a challenge that makes us come truly alive.

The problem is that most of us are chronically stressed and we’re stressed about things that we ultimately just don’t care about.

Have you ever wondered why we watch movies and read books? It’s for escapism. It’s so that we can escape the dullness of our every day.

The heroes we read about aren’t ‘unstressed’. Usually, they’re saving the world, fighting bad guys or getting the girl. But the point is that they are going on adventures, they are challenging themselves and they are growing. This is crucial for our own sense of development.

The Monomyth

According to literary theorist Joseph Campbell, every single story in films, books, comics, legends, myths and yes even games is essentially a re-telling of the same tale. That tale is referred to as the ‘hero’s journey’ or ‘the monomyth’ and while different examples of fiction might veer from the structure more than others, most will still make the same critical stops along the way.

These stages include:

  • The ordinary world
  • The call to adventure
  • Refusal of the call
  • Meeting the mentor
  • Crossing the threshold
  • Tests, allies, enemies
  • Approach to the inmost cave
  • Ordeal
  • Resurrection
  • Return with the Elixir

During the first stage, the ordinary world, we find our hero in their ‘normal’ environment and get to know what their life is like.

While things are ‘just okay’ at this point, usually, the hero will experience some kind of pull or desire for adventure. Often the hero feels somewhat out of place like they don’t quite belong.

This is a call in itself but often it will be compounded by a catalyst of some kind – the discovery of a mysterious trinket, new information about themselves or their world, or – quite often – the death of a parent. In superhero stories, the hero will often receive new powers.

At first, the hero will be reluctant to accept the challenge. They’ll turn down the offer of adventure and need further persuasion and encouragement. This is ‘refusal of the call’.

Often, the hero will now meet some kind of mentor – often an older figure – who will give them words of encouragement and perhaps some kind of trinket or weapon that they will be able to take with them to help on their way. This is ‘meeting the mentor’ and in some cases, this will happen later in the story.

Crossing the threshold is the point at which the hero accepts their road ahead and embraces the journey. Sometimes this will literally involve crossing a threshold into a world of adventure, other times it will be a less literal decision to try something new, or to take on a challenge.

Tests, allies and enemies describes the initial challenges faced in this strange new reality. Often this means meeting new allies and facing initial challenges and obstacles that aren’t too hard to overcome.

Eventually, the hero will make progress on their journey into this strange new world and they will begin to uncover its ‘core’. This is often described as the ‘inmost cave’ – the belly of the beast and the most dangerous and crucial part of the challenge.

The ordeal is the biggest challenge that the hero will face – and one that will often leave them battered and defeated. It is at this point that we normally see the end of act two, the point where all seems lost for the hero.

The next stage is when the hero turns things around, sometimes by accepting a higher cause/having a personal epiphany or by going through a literal physical transformation. My favorite examples are Goku’s transformation into a Super Saiyan, or Neo’s into the One. Of course, this theme is also seen very commonly throughout religions and myths, with many messiah’s literally returning from the dead only to be stronger and more formidable than before. In other instances, the hero may receive a reward of some sort – such as an elixir, a weapon, knowledge or love. This may be the ‘MacGuffin’ that motivated the hero to leave in the first place, or it may be something unexpected.

Finally, the hero will journey home and then return with their newfound power and confidence, completing the coming-of-age story. They will often face down evil in their home territory and may face a parental figure in order to become their own person and mature into an adult. They are now masters of both worlds. Of course, sometimes this elixir is love, in which case they will likely live happily ever after.

Finding Your Hero’s Journey

These themes are universal because they speak to our unconscious desires and commonalities. In particular, they speak to aspects of our psychology that are shared across all of humanity as vestiges of our evolutionary history. It is no coincidence that Joseph Campbell was influenced by the psychologist Jung who suggested the existence of a shared ‘collective unconscious’. Jung too pointed out the many recurring themes across cultures, history, and works of art in the form of ‘archetypal characters’.

We respond to this story because it is the story that we all shared when humanity was in its infancy. We would all have been born into a small, supportive tribe and then have been forced to venture out into the wild outdoors to discover pastures new and new resources.

We would have battled with monsters, foraged for food and become stronger and more formidable in the process.

And this is still our story to a degree. We still are forced at some point to leave home and to make new friends, to decide what we want in life and to grow as people. And we all strive for actualization – that point at which we will feel we’ve found purpose and peace.

From all my years writing about health, fitness, and neuroscience, what I have learned is that the human body and mind crave challenge and new experience. Our body is constantly changing and if it is not taking on new challenges and having new adventures, then it is moving backward. It is up to you whether your body and mind grow or decay. This is why the brain releases reward hormones like dopamine and serotonin when we successfully accomplish a challenge and it’s why it becomes more plastic when we try to learn new subjects.

This is why we are more likely to enter a ‘flow state’ when we’re in an entirely new environment.

And when it comes to learning, the brain much prefers to learn through action and doing rather than through reading and theorizing.

This is where we get our urge to go out and explore the world and to take on new challenges. We could stay in our comfort zone but then we would not progress forward as individuals or as a race. If we did not all share that ‘call to adventure’, then would humanity be where it is today? Or would we all still be living in caves?

‘We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’

This is the best part of the human spirit and it is what exists in all of us. It is why we will continue to do great things and it’s why we become overweight, depressed and mentally weak when we don’t venture outside our comfort zones.

This yearning for adventure is what makes humans great and it is a fundamental, albeit forgotten part of who we are.

Take a look at this ‘monomyth’ and then compare it to the universal story of the modern man that I shared earlier. How different are those two things? So many of us are working hard just to keep living, instead of actually growing or challenging ourselves.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This can also be perfectly compared to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow was a renowned psychologist who in 1943 put forward a ‘theory of human motivation’. He posited that our ‘needs’ can be arranged in a kind of hierarchy. At the bottom are our most immediate yet unfulfilling needs, while at the top are our most important needs. Happiness comes from fulfilling those top, crucial needs but we need to satisfy our baser urges first to get to this point.

Maslow described the hierarchy as such:

  • Physiological needs (food, water, air)
  • Safety
  • Love/belonging
  • Esteem
  • Self-actualization

Of course, our priority must always be to satisfy those first two, as without them we will perish. But this does not make us happy or fulfilled. From there comes the need for love, for community and for belonging. Some of the unhappiest people in the world have all the water and food they need, but they are completely alone.

Next comes esteem – a sense of self-worth and affection. This comes from liking who you are, from understanding yourself and from being confident.

Finally, self-actualization is the highest calling for all humans. This is the recognition of our potential and the fulfillment of that potential. This is us finding our calling, our innermost desires and then working toward that. Generally, the happiest people are those who feel their life has meaning, purpose, and direction.

So you see: even if you are happily married with a great family and even high self-esteem, you won’t truly be happy until you are setting goals and growing toward them. And this is what we see in the hero’s journey even. The hero is happy where they are but they feel the call to something greater.

Later, Maslow would add an additional item to his list: self-transcendence. He described this as the highest and most inclusive of the holistic level of human consciousness. Behaving and relating as an end rather than a means. This could be seen as a parallel for the ‘apotheosis’ in the hero’s journey.

What is Your Calling?

Unfortunately, it has become all too easy for us to stay in our comfort zones thanks to the ready availability of… everything. Too often, the greatest challenge we will face on a daily basis is completing an assignment for work. The newest discovery we will make is often taking a different route home from work.

A perfect example of the Hero’s Journey in game form is the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild from Nintendo. This game manages to capture the feeling of challenge, of having to think on your feet and of discovering amazing new things perfectly. When you realize while being chased by an enemy that you can drop a combustible material to use as a trap, that is precisely the kind quick thinking that our brains were made for.

And when you stumble upon a magnificent view, hiding what looks to be a huge monolith, it triggers that same sense of wonder that our brains strive.

Zelda is working because it gives us challenges, discovery, and adventure – even if it is just a simulation.

The brain needs adventure and challenge to be happy. If you’re not finding your own calling and striving for your own discoveries, then you won’t be fulfilled. Forget comfort and focus on making your life a grand adventure. That way you will be happier and healthier.

 

Becoming Emotionally Resilient

With everything in place, you’re now ready to look at the most important part of becoming the best version of yourself: developing emotional resilience.

Our aim is to fortify ourselves so that nothing negative sways us and so that we are consistently an image of calm power.

Sounds ambitious? That’s because it is! But it’s something we can achieve readily as long as we know what it involves and especially now that we have come this far already.

No Flap

We’ve covered ‘no fap’ and now it’s time for ‘no flap’. What does that mean? It means that we’re going to stop ourselves from getting stressed, het up and generally in a flap as far as possible.

To do this, we are going to focus on a few golden rules that will help us to become emotionally bullet-proof and resilient…

Don’t Try to Please Everyone All of the Time

The first thing we’re going to do is to stop trying to ‘please everyone all of the time’.

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make but it’s very common for anyone who would classify themselves as a ‘people pleaser’. The problem is that people place too many demands on us and it is simply impossible to make everyone happy.

What you need to do instead is to prioritize the people and things that matter most to you. For example, if your friends all want you to meet up next week but doing so is going to take it out of you, then you have to be willing to turn one or several of them down. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to people. If they are true friends, they’ll understand and they’ll ask again next week. In all likelihood, they just won’t care!

You can’t be responsible for how these people feel or how they think of you. If you try to pander to everyone then someone will get let down and you’ll push yourself too far – your other goals and objectives will suffer.

Judge Yourself on Your Own Standards

In a similar vein, you need to start judging yourself on your own standards. In other words: stop worrying about what other people think and instead just focus on what you think. Was that the right thing to do? Should you have done X? It doesn’t matter: as long you believe that you were doing the right thing at the time, then you have no reason to doubt yourself, no reason to beat yourself up.

Know Your Priorities

Another source of stress for many of us is to worry about ‘what we should do’ and making decisions.

There are two reasons that this happens.

The first reason is that many of us don’t know what we should do for the best. We don’t know what we want to do and we don’t know which choice will result in the best outcomes.

The solution here is to prioritize. You have your life’s goal now and your mission. Now you can make all future decisions through that lens.

Ask yourself: does this help you with the things that matter most to you. Does this move you closer toward your goals? If not, then perhaps it isn’t the right decision.

The other reason we stall when it comes to making bad decisions is that we don’t want to let others down. Remember: you can’t please everyone. Being a man means being willing to take the flack if you get things wrong. Overall, you’ll come across as much more powerful and much more commanding if you make decisions – even if you occasionally get them wrong.

Likewise, knowing your goal will help you to become a much more confident and much more powerful individual. Most of us are too easily upset by the things that people say or the criticisms we receive.

But if you know your goals and you know what’s important to you, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. In other words, if your goal is to make incredible music and if you know that you’re an incredible musician… then what does it matter if someone calls you short? Or if someone calls you fat?

Train Your Ability to Not Care

The other day, I was filming a video for a YouTube video that I was being well-paid for. It was a great opportunity for my career but in order to get the shot I wanted, I had to take my shoes off and wade into a river. It was freezing cold and I got some stares from people but I had to do it if I wanted the shot.

This is something I greatly dislike about our culture. Why do people feel that they need to understand what everyone else is doing? Why are we all so predictable that if you appear to break out of the pattern of normality, people stare at you and react badly?

You need to be different if you are going to be true to yourself and if you are going to become a leader. Followers cannot be leaders!

Train yourself in more often saying the thing that you shouldn’t say and in acting strangely. Go into a store and order food in a funny voice. Be controversial. Be weird.

Over time, you’ll find that you start to lose your inhibitions and your stress response to awkward situations. This triggers an incredibly powerful transformation that changes the way that people react to you and the way that you go after the things you want. When you can say anything that’s on your mind, you create huge new possibilities. When you aren’t afraid to stand up for yourself, other people will back down – they just aren’t used to it.

This also sends a very strong signal that you are an alpha and a potentially good mate for the opposite sex. The unconscious decision process is that if you are so confident that you are willing to challenge convention, then you must have reason to be that confident. You must be an alpha.

Love Challenge, Love Growth

The other day, I was massively behind on my work and I was very stressed. Then the fence blew down and I had to erect it in strong gusts of wind.

There are two ways to react to this:

  • “I’m never going to finish on time”

Or

  • “Challenge accepted!”

Instead of focusing on your biological tiredness or your stress, instead, see each little challenge as an opportunity for growth. As something more exciting than just pushing pencils and working through documents.

Expect the Worst

To take this to the next level and to build your emotional resilience even further, you can consider the philosophical school known as stoicism. Stoics believe that the best way to think and live healthily is to expect the worst and to prepare for those outcomes.

This sounds negative but in fact, it is simply a means to fortify yourself emotionally and practically. Instead of only preparing for positive outcomes, hypothesize as to what you would do if you were diagnosed with an illness, or if you were to lose your job.

How would you cope? What would you do? Knowing your response means you’ll be caught less off guard if it does happen and it means you’ll be ready to deal with everything that comes.

Try to find the beauty in things that go wrong and focus on the growth and the goals.

No matter what happens, you can always grow and you can always move toward your goals.

If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

Finding Your True Life’s Purpose

I went into a lot of detail in that last chapter because I want you to understand just how important the process of finding a purpose is.

Over the first five chapters, we focused on excelling at some of the more basic aspects of your person: your look, your health, and your esteem.

What we now know though is that you need to be striving toward something and growing as a person in order to get that real sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

What might surprise you though is just how much this will also change the way others see you and the way that you come across to others. Once you find your passion, you become a leader and you become much more attractive.

People who have a purpose and who have something they believe in to give off an entirely different energy and enthusiasm compared with those who do not. Others gravitate toward them and they inspire all those around them.

The only problem then is how you find that purpose. This chapter is going to help you do just that.

What Are You All About?

The easiest way to find a purpose or a meaning in your life is to simply turn your attention inward and to reflect on the person you are and on the things that make you tick. To do this, you are going to do some reflective exercises and ask some questions…

What Makes You Happiest?

For example, chances are that there are certain things in life that excite you and that make you very happy. I want you to think back to the last times you can remember being truly happy and truly alive. What were you doing the last time that everything seemed to make sense? Write down a few examples and see if that can help.

Assess your hobbies and interests and the things you’re already pursuing. What do they have in common? What are the common themes and threads that run through the things you do? Maybe it’s all about helping people, maybe it’s all about expressing yourself artistically, or maybe it’s all about strength training!

A similar question is to ask yourself what you would do right now if you could do anything. Answer this question quickly: if you won the lottery today and had no responsibilities: what would you spend the money on? What would you become?

What Did You Always Want to Do?

You might also be able to spot clues as to what you should do with your life by looking at your history. For example: what did you want to be as a child? Or when you were at college? Do you still have any interest in that subject matter?

Likewise, look at your role models. What is it that they have in common? What is it about each of them that you have responded to?

Be Honest

One of the most important things to do when you go through this process is, to be honest with yourself. You don’t get to choose what excites you or what matters to you. This is not an opportunity for you to try and make yourself look and sound impressive. You might wish that your ‘life purpose’ was ‘to end global warming’ or ‘to help others get through their hardest times’. For most of us though, it will be something more selfish and possibly more insane.

Maybe your life purpose is to chase down beautiful moments and sights. Or maybe it has become the best at the piano. Maybe it is to protect your family. Or maybe it is cheese. Maybe it’s My Little Pony.

Be 100% honest with yourself and don’t worry about what others think. Focus on how it makes you feel and what honestly speaks to you.

The next thing to do here is to note that your life purpose might not just be ‘one thing’. More likely, you’ll have numerous things you care about and that you want to improve upon and grow – if you’re lucky, they’ll have a common theme.

Life would be easy if your life purpose was ‘to become a great surgeon’. That may be the case, but more likely it will be a mixture of things.

Ask Why

Simon Sinek gave a fantastic speech at TED on the ‘golden circle’. He looked at the most impressive companies in the world and tried to find out what made them so successful. What he found was that these companies all utilized the ‘golden circle’ rationale in everything they did.

The golden circle can be thought of like an onion with layers. Each layer represents a different motivation as to what makes the companies tick and what motivates them. On the outermost layer we have ‘what’. In other words: what does the company do? Does it make hardware or socks? Does it provide legal advice?

The next layer is ‘how’. Here the company assesses its methodology and its processes. This is how it delivers on its overall promise and often this is one of the first things that sets a business apart from others.

Most important of all though: and the core that should motivate everything is the ‘why’. Why does a company do what it does? If it is to ‘make money’ then that company is likely very cynical and this will be transparent for the consumers.

The most successful brands are the ones that have a real ‘purpose’ and ‘mission’. These are the ones that make something different from all the competition, that come up with a unique idea and present it in a unique way – with real care and attention.

Think about the difference between a company like Apple and a cheap knock-off manufacturer. Think of a website that has something important to say and a stunning logo versus a site covered in spam and adverts. Companies that lack a ‘why’ are shallow and they fail. The same goes for people.

One way to find your why is to use the ‘five whys’ technique. Here, you just ask yourself the question ‘why’ five times. Why are you interested in the things you’re interested in? Why? Why? Why? Why?

This can help you to get to the route of your interests and that can help you to find a calling.

Let’s say you want to be an astronaut. This might be impossible if you are too old but if you ask why enough, you might realize that what you’re really interested in is discovering new worlds and frontiers. There are many ways you can do this: from helping to explore the depths of the ocean to become an astronomer!

Write Your Mission Statement

With all this in mind, you’re now going to continue to follow the advice of most business start-ups and write yourself a ‘mission statement’. This is a statement of intent that should contain everything you’re interested in along with your objectives.

For example, your mission statement might be:

“To create a safe and happy home for my family and to build a legacy that will protect my children for generations to come.”

It might be:

“To express myself artistically in everything I do and to work toward creating a true magnum opus. All in a manner that is conscientious and brings happiness for those around me.”

Or:

“To travel the world and to experience true freedom. To meet new people, discover new sights and make every day different.”

Or maybe:

“To create a device that will feed the hungry.”

 

Building Your Body

You’re a busy professional who is trying to make the very most of themselves. Hopefully, you’ve been able to adopt some of the changes that I’ve recommended so far and have started to benefit from a greater sense of wellbeing, confidence, and self-discipline.

We started with small changes because these are the little things that can chip away at a lifetime of bad habits and a busy, stressful schedule.

But now it’s time to take on the big challenge: getting into shape.

If you can get your body into shape, then you’ll find that it changes every other single aspect of your life. This is the most proof underway to change yourself and it will affect the way you look in clothes, the way you feel about yourself and even your brain power.

Your hormonal balance will change too and you’ll burn more calories and feel more energetic simply as a result of having improved your muscle mass and reduced excess body fat.

The problem is that getting into shape conventionally requires a lot of effort, a lot of energy and a lot of time – all things that we can’t easily afford. There is no ‘small change’ you can make to get into shape but hopefully, the increased energy you now have from better sleep and vitamins and the improved self-control and motivation you have from meditation and no fap should help to give you a head start.

We’re going to combine this with a program designed to help you more easily transform your body. And we’re starting with modest aims here. Don’t aim to become a god or goddess overnight – just look to get a little more toned and a little more honed. Aim to enjoy going to the gym and to enjoy eating a little less.

An Easy Diet to Fix Your Health

Let’s start with the diet portion because ultimately, that is usually most important and it should be the easiest to fix. As with everything else in this book, our objective here is to start with small changes that will add up to make a profound difference.

Rather than trying to completely eliminate all carbohydrates or all fats, we’re going to take a much more sensible approach.

Removing a whole food group is not a good idea anyway. Reducing carbs lowers testosterone and energy levels while reducing fats can harm your brain function and your ability to absorb nutrients.

It’s not rocket science. The stuff we should be removed are the highly processed empty calories that also happen to be the simple carbs (meaning they spike the blood sugar and then cause it to crash). These include things like:

  • Chocolates
  • Cake
  • Crisps
  • Chips
  • White bread
  • Candy
  • Sausage rolls
  • Soda drinks

All of these spikes the blood sugar, dump a whole load of calories into your system and don’t provide any of the crucial nutrients we need to function at our best.

You can safely eradicate these from your diet with no negative outcome. At the same time, you should be seeking out foods that are packed with nutrients which will help to further boost your energy levels, your immune system – and even your looks (think better skin, hair, nails, and teeth!).

Simply by cutting out these processed foods, you’ll be reducing a lot of calories but we’re going to go one step further by making you stick to an incredibly rigid and strict diet… for just the first two meals of the day.

Likewise, try to make sure that you increase your intake of protein during these meals. By increasing protein, you will not only be able to build more muscle (muscle is made from the amino acids that come from protein) but you’ll find you feel fuller and you pack on fewer calories. Try to get an egg, chicken, tuna and other sources of protein in those first two meals – maybe even consider a diet protein shake.

Consistency, routine and structure are tools that can greatly help you to achieve your goals and in this case, it will remove all of the guesswork and all of the challenge out of reducing your caloric intake. You should find this is relatively easy to do: most of us eat breakfast and lunch in a hurry anyway and these meals don’t tend to be ‘social’ so much as practical. That means you should have no problem sticking to a relatively plain meal for each and that way you can know for sure that you’re keeping your caloric intake to an absolute minimum while avoiding that junk food.

For example, breakfast might be porridge oats with skimmed milk, while lunch might be a tuna fish salad. You’ll eat from the same roster of meals every day and come the evening, you should reliably know that you’re only on about 600-700 calories (especially if you stop snacking).

Seeing as most of us will burn 2,000-2,500 calories in a day, this then means you have a ‘budget’ of 1,300-1,800 calories that you can eat for dinner. No one is likely to binge that much at dinner and so you can eat whatever you like while still knowing that you aren’t going to be putting yourself in danger of weight gain.

This is a simple system that allows you to eat socially and normally at the times that matter while knowing that you’ll be getting all the things you need and avoiding consuming too many calories. Over time, you should find you get leaner and more toned.

Exercise

The other part of this equation is an exercise which serves the purpose of burning fat and building muscle.

Men: exercise is crucial because it will help you to broaden your shoulders, narrow your waist and create the image of the perfect ‘alpha athlete’. It will also boost your cognition, your energy levels and more.

Women: the exact same is true and in particular, note that you should be weightlifting. Too many women think that the best way to lose weight is with long stretches of cardio and they avoid weightlifting like the plague because they think it will make them ‘big’ or ‘bulky’. In reality, it is very hard to become overly muscular – this certainly isn’t something you can do by accident!

Meanwhile, building muscle will help you to burn much more fat (because muscle is metabolically active, meaning that you will burn fat even while you’re sleeping) and it will make you look far more toned. Losing weight doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll look athletic – men know this too thanks to ‘Dad Bod’. But if you strengthen your abs, then that is how you get a flat stomach. If you tone your arms, you will lose any sign of ‘bingo wings’. If you strengthen your legs then they will look toned and sexy.

Most importantly all women should squat! This is how you get an amazing rear end and if you Google ‘women who squat’ then you’ll see what I’m talking about!

So for men and women, the following routine will be highly effective at building muscle and cutting away unwanted flab: PPL.

What is PPL?

PPL stands for ‘Push, Pull, Legs’ and it is a ‘split’ that will define which exercises you do during each workout and which parts of the body you will target. On push days, you use all the exercises that use muscles involved in pushing such as the bench press, push ups, tricep push downs, overhead shoulder press etc.

On pull day, you do all your pulling motions like shrugs, pull ups, chin ups, lat pull downs, bicep curls. On legs day, you are going to train your legs and your abs. Choose compound movements that utilize multiple muscle groups in unison: things like squats, deadlifts, and clean and jerks.

That’s three days of training but the focus you’re giving each muscle part is enough to trigger growth and three days should be sufficient to see some reasonable change. What’s more, is that a three-day workout should be something you can fit relatively easily into your routine.

And if you keep your ‘rest periods’ to a minimum, then each workout should take no more than 30-40 minutes. The key is to discover how you are going to fit this into your routine.

My recommendation is that you join a gym but that you make the number one priority when choosing that gym to be that it is proximal to your home or your place of work.

You need to be able to fit this into whatever your current routine is: remember that routines are highly important in order to introduce new habits. Routines are the ‘framework’ that will provide the structure for your new habits to hang off of.

I personally walk my wife to work every morning and then come home to work at my home office. On the way home I pass a gym and so it made perfect sense for me to join that gym. Better yet, I am already awake, up and out of the house at this point in the day so there is no reason not to go.

Important New Habits and Lifestyle Changes

As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of different books out there and even more blogs all telling you how to transform your life and be the best you. The problem is knowing which of the tips and changes are worth embracing, and especially considering that many of them require energy and time that you probably just don’t have.

We’ve already added our 30-minute self-improvement program three times a week and you should have taken one day out to get things in order.

Now it’s time to look at smaller changes you can make throughout the day to further empower yourself, fortify your mind and body and become the best version of you that you possibly can.

Vitamin Supplements

Part of the problem with the modern lifestyle that most of us live is that it presents a ‘vicious circle’. That is to say that once you get into a pattern of coming home from work exhausted and stressed, it is incredibly difficult to escape from.

The big issues here are tiredness and stress and this is what prevents you from being able to make the other positive changes you want to in your life. Many people think that they don’t have enough time to make positive change but time is very rarely the issue. Energy (which is directly related to stress) is much more likely to be the culprit. Think about it: if time was the only issue then you would get up at 4am and do your morning workout and work on projects/clean the house before work. You can’t because you’re too tired. And you’re tired because you’ve been stressed all day.

And this is also why your evenings are wasted in front of rubbish TV.

I’m here to tell you that all of this can be improved by taking a vitamin supplement. This sounds super simple, but adding more micronutrients to your diet will supercharge your cells with energy, combat the effects of chronic fatigue and stress and boost your brain power and mood.

Vitamin C, for example, will reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), encourage recovery from adrenal fatigue and protect your cells against damage that can lead to premature aging and cancer. Likewise, vitamin D can help you to fight colds and infection (recent research suggests that a vitamin D supplement is almost as potent as an anti-flu vaccine!) and boost testosterone along with improving your sleep. Vitamin B complex will help improve the circulation of blood, as well as helping to make the cells more efficient at using energy. Magnesium can help you to sleep better too and will also improve learning through brain plasticity, not to mention strengthening your bones. The list goes on!

Find a good multivitamin that comes packed with lots of vitamin C, lots of vitamin D and the whole plethora of vitamins and minerals. This isn’t going to transform your life, but it is a very simple change that will make the other changes in this book a lot easier to accomplish.

Sleep

Enhancing your sleep is very important if you want to perform your best, avoid illness and come across as witty, strong and intelligent.

Many of us don’t get as much sleep as we should (7-9 hours depending on your individual biology). Of course, the ideal scenario is that you fix this and make sure that you are getting enough sleep but this is easier said than done for most people.

Instead then, it may be easier to focus on the quality of your sleep instead. Do this by making sure your sleeping environment is as dark and silent as possible and by investing in a high quality bed with high quality bedding. Take a warm bath just before bed and if you can, try to avoid phones for the hour before bed.

That’s easier said than done again of course, so if you can’t do this then at least avoid caffeine for 6 hours prior to sleep. This simple change (switch to decaf) will help you to enjoy much more deep sleep and to wake up rejuvenated.

Another tip is to try and go to bed at a consistent time and wake up at a consistent time if you can. The body likes to work on cycles and rhythms and if you can do this, you’ll find that it automatically synchronizes other biological rhythms so that you’re awake at the right times and sleepy at the right times.

Speaking of which, I also highly recommend that you invest in a device called a ‘daylight alarm’. This is a type of clock that will wake you up by gradually getting brighter just like the sun in real life. This in turn

No Fap

Okay, enough messing around… it’s time for the serious stuff.

If you are really dedicated to self-improvement, to becoming the best version of yourself and to living an empowered life… then I highly recommend that you try no fap.

For those that have been living in a cave, no fap is a movement that encourages abstaining from masturbation. The idea is to avoid porn and only to orgasm when you’re with a partner. Why? Because according to the advocates of this practice, it can transform your life. It will make you more productive, more confident, more social and more likely to succeed.

How? By rewiring your brain. The body has evolved in order to reward the behaviors it wants to encourage. The greatest reward comes from sex, because sex ensures the survival of our DNA. But unfortunately, the body can’t differentiate between sex and masturbation on a chemical level. As such, it rewards masturbation just as much as it rewards sex.

Hence a huge rush of dopamine (the reward/motivation neurotransmitter) which floods the brain every time you pleasure yourself. This reinforces the behavior and makes you want to do it again, and again, and again.

Eventually, these consistently high levels of dopamine (which are comparable to the levels caused by drug use) will alter the way the brain responds to dopamine. That means that you’ll feel permanently less motivated and it will take more stimulus to make you ‘aroused’ in a physiological sense.

This is partly why many porn users will look for more and more ‘extreme’ videos in order to satisfy themselves – the kick they get from the dopamine surge is no longer enough when they watch regular porn.

When the damage to the dopaminergic system becomes more pronounced, this can then lead to depression, confusion, lack of motivation and even social isolation.

At a more basic level: the brain and body learn that they don’t need to socialize and don’t need to work in order to get complete satisfaction. The drive to go out and meet women, impress other men and achieve status and power is now missing. Even if you are in a relationship, some of the color and purpose will now be missing from life.

Not to mention how much less into it you will be when you have sex with your partner. You might not feel any different but try abstaining for a few months and then have sex. The difference is night and day and it does wonders for your relationship. You become more alpha, more driven and more attractive.

And yes, porn can be just as destructive for women – it’s just less common.

This is hard work but that’s also part of the point: if you can bring yourself to stop watching porn then you are exercising incredible self-control and self-will. This drive and determination is something that can be trained just like any other aspect of your personality and thus you’ll find that you are now more likely to be able to adopt other new habits and drop those that you don’t want.

If you’re up for this challenge, make the commitment to stopping for 30 days. This is long enough to alter habitual behavior so in theory, you should find it is now much easier to maintain good behavior.

The dual n-back and meditation should also help with this. Gradually, we’re honing you into a driven, determined alpha.

 

Your Self-Improvement Regime – Meditation and Journaling

Fixing your clothes and your home might seem like a small matter but it is crucial because it’s going to make you a) feel much better about yourself and b) spend less time cleaning and tidying while allowing you to live in a nicer environment.

You will now find you feel less stressed and more awesome which is going to help you tremendously in every aspect of your life.

The next thing you’re going to do is to book yourself three half-hour slots a week. Again, this is just as though you were doing a workout routine. The difference is that instead of building muscle, you’re instead going to focus on building your self-esteem, emotional resilience, mental prowess, and confidence.

The program looks like this:

Meditation: 10 Minutes

Dual n-back Test: 5 Minutes

Tidying the House/Grooming: 10 Minutes

Journaling: 5 Minutes

So, what do we have here?

Meditation

To start with, we are beginning with meditation. Meditation is nothing mystical or esoteric: it is simply the practice of concentration and of focusing on your mind on a single topic or emptying it entirely. This has a tremendous benefit because it essentially trains you to be able to take control of your own thought processes and your own mind.

Have you ever been plagued with doubt? Or distracted by things that you shouldn’t be focusing on? Then using meditation will train you to resist those urges so that you can clear your mind of ‘unuseful’ thoughts and so that you can avoid distractions and stay focused on the task in-hand.

Meditation can help you to better deal with stress and it will even help you to increase your memory and IQ according to the research. Many people who take up meditation claim that it helps them to feel more at peace and to get less upset and frustrated by small things.

Not sure how to get started with meditation? The easiest way is simply to practice calming your mind and trying not to let your thoughts wander. Close your eyes and set a timer for 10 minutes. Then, each time you notice your train of thought start to wonder, you are going to bring it back. Don’t lambast yourself for allowing this to happen, just calmly return to a blank mind and continue to focus.

If you want a little help, try a guided meditation. You can get this from YouTube or from the excellent Headspace app.

Dual n-back

Dual n-back is the only form of brain training that has been proven to work, but even the studies underestimate the true value it may hold.

The idea behind dual n-back training is to concentrate on a sequence of numbers and shapes (or letters and colors – any two stimuli will do) and to look out for repetitions that are spaced a certain distance apart (‘n’).

In other words, if n = 1 then you would identify this as a hit:

ABJSXKLMBPLP

If n = 2, then you would identify this as a hit:

ASDNMZXCHUZH

This requires you to store the information in your mind as the letters are changing so that you can refer back to what you’ve already seen. Because there are two different types of stimuli though (colors and letters for instance), you are holding twice as much information (hence ‘dual’).

The idea of the dual n-back is to train your ‘working memory’. This is the part of your memory that acts like RAM. You won’t keep long term memories here but will rather ‘hold’ information here that you are currently manipulating and working with.

For example, if you are doing long multiplication in your head and you need to ‘carry over’ a number, then you will store that number in your working memory while you perform the rest of the math. This is also where you store phone numbers when you are repeating them in your mind ready to write them down (the ‘phonological loop’). More importantly, it’s where you store a visual representation of your surroundings and the context of the conversation you are currently having.

This is your bandwidth for real-time data then and it is responsible for everything from multitasking, to speaking fluently, to moving gracefully through space. Training this aspect of your brain power is the single most important way to become more eloquent, more witty and even better at sports. This is the closest thing to a ‘Limitless’ style upgrade.

It used to be thought that working memory was another category of memory just like short term and long term memory. What has since been discovered though, is that our working memory is actually tantamount to visualization. Working memory operates by activating areas of our brain as though we were seeing, hearing or doing and it is closely linked to concentration.

Meditation can enhance your working memory and so too can dual n-back. Look up an online game or an app, or try another exercise that can do the same thing like Rumicub. Either way, actively making time for this in your life is going to make a huge difference to how you feel and act.

Tidying the House/Grooming

I won’t go into detail on this, but 30 minutes of tidying a week are good enough to help you maintain a much better standard of tidiness and cleanliness in your home without massively eating into your time.

You already tidied the house on your ‘big day off’, now it’s time to keep on top of that and to clean up in the kitchen, etc. Likewise, iron your shirts and pants and spend some time clipping nails, shaving and generally looking your very best.

Journaling

On top of this, you will integrate journaling which is going to include making a list of things you like about yourself and a list of things that you are grateful for.

Self-esteem is incredibly important. As we’ll see later, this is a crucial aspect of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and is one of the keys to true happiness and fulfillment. At the same time though, it’s also one of the most important ways to change the way that others perceive you. If you have high self-esteem, then this is something that will be communicated in the way you walk, the way you talk and the way you hold yourself.

While writing down your good traits won’t automatically change the way you view yourself, it is nevertheless a very good start and can certainly help you to start being happier with who you are.

Meanwhile, writing down the things you are appreciative for is a very powerful tool for increasing your happiness. The problem is that too many of us never take the time to be thankful for what we have and instead spend all our time lamenting what we don’t.

It’s great to work toward goals and to try and improve your life. In fact, this is a big crux of the next few chapters. But at the same time, you also need to be thankful for the things you’ve already accomplished and actually bask in that accomplishment somewhat.

To help yourself do this, try writing down three different things you’re grateful for every day. It can be something specific and important – like the way your wife always tells you she loves you – or it can be broad and nonsensical like ‘great TV’. Think about your health, about your family, about your opportunities and about all the amazing things you’ve already experienced and done.

Finally, consider writing about your day if you have time in short bits (this is a great way to cement memories and to keep a record of your accomplishments) and maybe writing a to-do list for the day ahead.

A Powerful and Immediate Upgrade in One Day

I don’t want to beat around the bush any more with meaningless pre-amble. It’s time that we dive straight in and start developing you, dear reader.

Reading motivational articles on how to achieve your goals, feel more confident and generally become the best version of yourself can be a good way to fuel yourself with inspiration and find areas to improve in your life.

But just reading self-help isn’t going to do anything. If you really want to start improving your life then you have to take action and you have to execute on all those ideas and tips.

The problem is that that there is so much information out there and so many different tips out there that it can be hard to know where to start. And none of this information is organized or useful – it’s all just kind of there and we’re expected to pick and choose the parts to apply to us.

In this chapter and the next couple, I’m going to take some of the best advice that can help to make you happier, more confident and more attractive and I’m going to put it into a kind of program in much the same way that you might make a training program.

This is going to be mostly superficial stuff for now: I’m going to focus on making you better looking, more energetic and less stressed. We’re starting with this stuff because it is an easy win and it will make you feel like a million bucks. And once we’ve done that, then we can look at going a little deeper…

Take a Day to Yourself and Do This

Okay, so we’re going to start by taking a single day out of your routine and doing a kind of ‘spring clean’ for your soul.

You take days off of work for all sorts of less important reasons, so book off some time and make this a day that is just about you. Now what you’re going to do is to use this day purely to focus on making the changes that can help you to become a better version of yourself. So that you have more energy, more space, and less stress. So that you can stand tall.

Here’s what you’re going to spend the day doing:

Tidy the House and Create Systems

The tidiness of your home is very much an outward reflection on the state of your mind (in fact, houses represent the mind when we’re dreaming!). If you are stressed, then chances are that your house will be a mess. Likewise, if your house is a mess, chances are that you will be stressed!

So, you’re going to stop and tidy the house up and then you’re going to look at some systems that you can implement to keep it that way.

This might mean that you invest in some machinery that can take care of cleaning and tidying for you. A dishwasher, robotic vacuum cleaner, etc. can all save you time. At the same time, you’re also going to look at ways you can organize your kitchen or your home office so that it will be easier to take care of everything.

That might mean using a filing cabinet for example. Get rid of the things you don’t need and aim for a more minimal layout and aesthetic. If you can do this effectively, you’ll find that you spend a lot less time cleaning and tidying and a lot more time actually doing things you want to do. At the same time, living in an environment that is clean and attractive will make you feel less stressed, more at ease and more accomplished.

Fix Your Look

This is also a good time to fix your look: that means getting a haircut (have you ever noticed what a great mood you always get put in after a haircut?) and it means investing in a new wardrobe.

That last point is important: dressing right can make a huge difference to how you feel about yourself and thus the image you project and the way that others respond to you.

The first thing to recognize when doing this is that it does make a big difference to wear nice clothes. That means you should be wearing clothes that are high quality and from shops that generally charge a little more. The difference here is in the fabrics that are used and the way that these can unconsciously make you look a little better and a little more accomplished.

If you don’t have lots of money to spend, then focus on quality over quantity. Buy when clothes are in the sales and choose outfits that will allow you to re-used specific items in creative ways. Look for those all-important staples like your shoes, a good hoodie, the right white t-shirt, etc. And where possible, always buy clothes that fit well.

One more tip is to try buying clothes you normally wouldn’t. If you struggle with this, then perhaps ask someone else to pick something for you. Try being a bit more adventurous generally too and wearing things/dressing in a way that will make you stand out. Dressing well is one thing, but daring to dress differently will make others change the way they think about you and make you look confident in your style and your appearance.

Imagine a girl who always comes into the office wearing frumpy clothes that cover up her physique. They’re perfectly stylish and well made but they’re clearly designed to help her hide away from the world. She likes a guy in the office and is always chatting to him, but she has crossed into the ‘friend zone’ and he just doesn’t see her that way.

Then one day, she comes in wearing firebox red lipstick with cropped hair and a form-fitting dress. This instantly changes the way that everyone in the office looks at her. It makes her appear 10x more confident and the change is as attractive as the look itself. It shifts perceptions and it communicates confidence and growth.

Women: learn from this. Men: think about how you can accomplish the same thing by going outside of your comfort zone and owning your look. Don’t sheepishly wear the same outfits every day: dare to be different.

Before we look at improving your life and achieving that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, it first makes sense to focus on the things we’re doing wrong. The things that we could be doing better and the things that are holding us back.

Why don’t you feel fulfilled? Why don’t you have more time to take care of your looks or your home? Why is your relationship falling apart?

How did you end up in a dead-end job?

Let’s take a look at a story that many of us will be familiar with: the story of the modern man.

The Plight of the Modern Man

Most of us were very happy when we were younger. We were excited to be learning and discovering so much and we were taken care of all the while by our doting parents. Every day was an adventure, everything was new and we were constantly growing and developing.

Back then, you probably had big dreams. You probably knew what you wanted to be: whether that was an astronaut, a rock star or an actor.

Then you probably got a little more serious around high school when you would have realized that you needed to be more serious with the kind of work you did. You probably discovered a subject that you enjoyed and decided that you would pursue that into college. Hence you might have taken up math, science or drama.

At college, you met new people, discovered that the world was much larger and came away feeling on top of the world. With a diploma in hand, you were ready to take on the world. Only you discovered you had no experience and as such, employers were not exactly queuing up to give you a job. Meanwhile, you needed a roof over your head and wanted to move out of your Mum and Dad’s place, so you decided to take any work you could get.

You might have a degree in science or literature, but now you’re working in an estate agents or a logistics company. You’re stuffing envelopes or dealing with requests and it’s not particularly fun. But hey, you’re earning money and you’re out there!

And then you meet someone who you fall in love with. You’re happy together – after all, you’re both young and attractive – so you start renting a place.

Only now you’re juggling work, a relationship, and rent. That leaves less time for seeing friends and less time for staying in shape or pursuing your dreams.

And it’s a little small, isn’t it? So, you decide that you need to move to a bigger place. It’s time you got on the property ladder! And that means saving. So, you, unfortunately, don’t have the luxury to look for other work – you need to take the next position that’s offered in your organization.

And that increases the stress. Now you’re coming home a little later and a little more stressed and you have less energy and less time to spend with your partner. But you’re both working toward the same dream, so you get married and buy a house and it all seems great.

Only now your responsibilities are much bigger. Now you’re working until 6, 7 or 8 pm on a regular basis and you can’t see an easy way out. Then the boiler breaks and the fence blows down and you’re blowing more of your savings on making those repairs.

There’s no way at this point that you can consider leaving your job and in the evenings, all you want to do is to crash on the couch and recover from the stressful day you just had. Later a baby will come along and you’ll live to look after them.

These are all great things: having a partner, a baby and a home are fantastic achievements that bring contentment. But you can’t live for those things. You need to look after yourself as well and you need to chase your dreams.

Otherwise, you’ll become a burned out, a tired husk of a person with no ambition, no drive, and no enthusiasm. That’s no kind of impression to make and especially if you start to resent your family.

You never traveled.

You never pursued your dream job.

You don’t go out with friends anymore.

You’ve gained weight.

You look a mess.

Your house is untidy…

And you have no energy to do anything about it and no way of knowing how to go about it. Is it any wonder that so many people are depressed? Is it any wonder that so many marriages end in divorce?

Depressing? Sure. And especially if you can recognize some truth in it. But don’t worry, we’re going to fix you!

Introducing an Empowered Life

Is your life everything that you have always wanted it to be?

Are you the person you want to be? Are you where you thought you would be in your career and in your relationships?

If you’re anything like most people then the answer to these questions will be a resounding no. Even those of us who are generally happy for the most part will often find that our lives never panned out quite the way we thought they would, or that we aren’t quite as accomplished as some of our friends.

Many of us seem to struggle with simple things in life, whether that is getting out of the bed in the morning with enough energy to be productive, whether it is maintaining our relationships, or whether it is finding that sense of purpose.

Many of us have the occasional creeping feeling of doubt that makes us question whether we’re really on the right track. Maybe life is just ‘okay’ but you don’t feel like it’s really going anywhere. Maybe you don’t feel like you have a ‘purpose’ as such.

Meanwhile, we all know people in our lives who do just seem to have it all together. They’re in great shape, they’re charismatic and driven and they’re usually pretty wealthy as well! They have stunning partners, perfect families and somehow they just make the rest of us look… disheveled…

While those few people seem to be successful in everything they do, we struggle hard to stay afloat and to keep the house clean, to get to the gym and to keep in touch with friends. This means we have no time to work on developing ourselves or to take our lives to that next level. Perhaps you struggle to know what that next level is? Maybe you don’t know what it is you really want from life in the first place?

Perhaps the issue is that our expectations are set too high, maybe as a result of the media? But wouldn’t it be amazing if you could live the life that you’ve always wanted and if you could make your life everything you ever dreamed of. Wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a real ‘limitless pill’ that could help you to start making the very most of your life and to seize the day and create opportunities?

I’m here to tell you that it is possible. That all the things you have dreamed of can become a reality and that there’s no reason you can’t become the ultimate version of yourself. The key is in understanding what it takes to become your best and to having the motivation, drive, and skills necessary to make it happen.

Look, if you know there are people out there that have their lives up together, then you know it must be possible. If some people seem to have found their calling and their purpose, you know they probably started out in the same boat as you. They just had the skills and the know-how to find their way eventually.

Even if none of your friends have it all together, just look at people in the media. Sure, some of that is artifice, but the fact remains that Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is a real guy. A guy who looks sharp is in incredible shape, is brimming with personality and is incredibly wealthy.

Then there are people like Arnold Schwarzenegger who have accomplished insane things in their lives, like Hugh Jackman, like Michelle Obama, like Will Smith, like Tina Fay. These are people who aren’t just attractive, wealthy, funny or successful… they’re all those things.

And to the rest of us, they come across like superhumans!

The good news is that all of this can be learned. It starts with you. It starts with accepting responsibility and no longer blaming circumstances or other people for your lack of success or the way you feel.

In business, there is a commonly used term called a ‘force multiplier’. A force multiplier is anything that can be used to help you get more work done with the same amount of time and effort.

The most obvious example of this would be a hammer. If you hit a nail with a hammer then the force that you employ will be multiplied several times so that the nail will be driven into the substrate. If you had used the same amount of force with your fist, then you would have a different result. Likewise, a forklift truck or even a computer can similarly be thought of as a force multiplier.

But you are the ultimate force multiplier. If you want to achieve any goal, you need to exert effort and the outcome will depend on how skilled, how motivated and how well presented you are. If you are a more capable individual, then everything you do will have a more profound impact on the world around you.