In other – more personal – news, I’ve turned 33 today.
Earlier I shared some info about how I stay healthy and productive. In short, there are 7 things I never do:
2) Meat (fish is OK though)
3) Any kinds of pills and meds (unless I’m at a dentist’s)
4) Nicotine and other addictive drugs.
5) Coffee, black and green tea, energy drinks (I drink herbal teas instead).
6) Fast food, sugar, carbonated soft drinks.
7) TV and its alternatives.
At certain points in life, I realized these things decrease productivity and clarity of thought. So I’ve been living without them for many years now and in general have been feeling great and healthy.
Disclaimer: I do not recommend folks with permanent health issues to stop taking medication. While I’m happy with my habits and lifestyle, I’ve no idea whether the same would work for you. I guess it should, provided you’re young and healthy. But if you’re young and healthy, there are good chances that having fun is more important for you than increasing your productivity, so you may safely ignore these tips. However, if you enjoy building stuff more than consuming it, you might benefit from abstaining from these 7 items above.
Those of you who follow my posts know that I’m a big believer in self-restraint. In the last 15 years, I’ve had no alcohol, no caffeine, no meat, no pills, and no fast food. Health-wise it brought good results: I only had a fever once in the last 15 years. Typically, I just don’t get ill.
A year ago I added more restrictions to my diet: no gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no fructose. I did it to achieve higher productivity and clarity of thought, as well as to train will power and self-discipline.
Another technique I employ to improve will power is swimming in ice-cold water every winter in Finland or Switzerland. If you ever faced the necessity to stay in a lake with a thin layer of ice on top for a few minutes, you are less likely to procrastinate when it comes to starting on a boring but necessary project.
In May I limited the foods I eat to fish and seafood only. In case you have daily access to fresh wild-caught fish, I can definitely recommend this diet for boosting productivity. Unlike farmed meat or the products of agriculture, which were introduced to our diet fairly recently (like 15,000 years ago), wild fish cooked on fire is something our ancestors evolved to consume throughout the last million of years. As humans required a daily source of water, they had to live near rivers and lakes, so a seagan diet makes much more sense to me than veganism or rawism from an evolutionary perspective.
This month I’m trying something more radical, with consuming no food at all. I’ve been on a water fast for the last 6 days and am feeling great so far. Since zero food consumption improves clarity of thought, I also got many things done on the product-management side.
Fasting is a great way to allow your digestive system to clean and reboot, and also to allow your immune system to work on other things than clearing the constantly incoming food. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to do with no food for prolonged periods of time, so our body is not only evolved for that, but is actually expecting us to give it a break in consumption at least once a year. That’s why most religions have a tradition of fasting – it’s healthy and necessary both for the body and the mind.
Obviously, I might lose some muscle mass as a result, but I believe that if I manage to come up with new great ideas for Telegram during the fast, it will be beneficial for all of the millions of Telegram users. And making the lives of our users more enjoyable has been and will be my number one priority.
As I’m turning 36, some people ask how I manage to look younger than my age. I’ve asked the same question of many people who age well (from Jared Leto to a random fitness trainer who looks like 25 at 50). Here’s what all of these young-looking individuals do (and don’t):
1. AVOID alcohol. There may be some rare exceptions, but in general, alcohol (as well as other addictive substances) makes people less healthy and visually older.
2. Sleep a LOT. Sleep is when your body repairs itself. You can’t borrow it: lack of sleep during the week can’t be compensated with oversleeping on the weekend.
3. Do NOT overeat. Excessive weight makes people look older and correlates with dozens of illnesses. Typically I eat twice a day within a 6-hour window or once a day, no snacking. Eating 3+ times a day is just a (bad) habit.
4. EXERCISE. Moderate but regular exercise makes people look healthier and live longer. Personally, I don’t do much cardio (I’d rather walk/cycle/swim in the open air) and prefer moderate weights.
5. LIMIT stress. There are mental habits that help. It helps to believe that everything that happens is for the better. Stoic techniques such as negative visualisation and generally not giving a shit also work. Living close to nature makes all of the above easier.
6. Do NOT eat meat. Eating seafood and wild-caught fish is fine, but farmed red meat is something most people who look younger than their age avoid. I suspect the unhealthy nature of farmed meat has to do with the way livestock is raised and killed (growth hormones, fodder etc).
7. Live ALONE. Surprisingly, all the young-looking, middle-aged men I spoke with lived alone for most of their lives. It may be the result of their independence from the sleeping/eating/behavioral patterns of another person. Or it’s just correlation, and people who are independent from unhealthy societal norms are also independent in their personal lives.
Interestingly, you can find scientific explanations for most of these points (even the last one is defensible, e.g. there are multiple studies showing that sleeping alone improves the quality of sleep). I’ve been following these rules for over 10 years, with “more sleep” being the most difficult due to the nature of my work.
If you are twice as young as I am and looking for the key takeaway, here it is: NEVER DRINK ALCOHOL. Once you give up on alcohol, you’ll stop silencing your intuition, which will tell you what is good and what is bad for you. You will figure out everything you need to know by yourself and won’t depend on other people for advice.
🎂 As I am turning 37, I put together a list of 3 undervalued and 7 overvalued things in life.
1. Sleep. Sleep gives a boost to immunity, creativity and psychological well-being.
2. Nature. Nature is the environment that we are biologically designed to feel good in.
3. Solitude. Being alone offers the freedom to make spiritual and intellectual breakthroughs.
1. Big cities. Big cities are sources of pollution, crime and noise. It’s good to have access to their resources, but advisable to live outside their borders.
2. Restaurants. Restaurants offer the slowest and least efficient way to eat. Cooking at home allows for healthier diets and more control over ingredients.
3. Hot weather. Sunny weather can bring about not only a lax attitude, but also a risk of cancer and faster aging. Colder temperatures, on the contrary, clarify spirit, body and mind.
4. Fashion. The endless quest to conform with ever-changing trends is expensive and unnecessary. Focusing on comfortable clothes makes life simpler and frees space for things that matter.
5. Real estate. Buying real estate often limits one’s choices and is a questionable investment. Renting gives more freedom to move and explore different locations.
6. Social media. The incessant flow of junk cluttering our minds from social media decreases our happiness and creativity. Disconnecting from these internet services is the best thing we can do on any given day.
7. Celebrity advice. Famous people often give unwarranted advice outside their fields of expertise. For all important things in life, it’s best to rely on hard science and expert opinion.