I stayed for a few nights in Chiba with a friend of mine who is a talented martial artist and health and fitness expert.
Per his recommendations, I'm going to try out cutting all carbohydrates six days out of the week (with one cheat day) and fasting one day per week. I cut the carbs two days ago - I already didn't eat sweets, but moving off rice and bread (sandwiches) was somewhat limiting at first... in a convenience store with 400 items for sale, there's literally only 20 or so I can eat.
But that's fine. Surprisingly, I haven't been hungry at all... sometimes I think I should eat, but my stomach hasn't growled at me at all. I'm probably eating too much fried chicken (quick, fast, cheap, widely available in Tokyo), but I'll adjust as I find more options. Tonight I bought a small salad and a big can of tuna for breakfast tomorrow.
My buddy gave me a pair of spare Vibrams he had (same shoe size) and recommended some slight walking and posture changes. Also, some more stretching/strengthening/bodyweight exercises.
I'll work those in over time - I'm quite busy right now, so don't have the attention to devote to a whole new fitness regime immediately. But I'm doing the no carbs/cheat day/fast day right away. I'll post updates in a while with how it's going.
Japan's customer service?
Legendarily good, yes?
Japan has extraordinary amounts of customer service since a large bulk of their belief and daily practice is based around duty-based ethics. This is a rare thing to most Westerners - in the West, we're very willing to fudge the rules to provide a better outcome. It's expected, even.
In Japan, the ethical systems are more along the lines of rules than outcomes. We're generalizing, of course, this isn't everyone. But it's most people here.
...if you're traveling internationally.
It's convenient, but it almost guarantees you'll get appointments screwed up if you're moving countries regularly.
There's so many quirks to timezones - a particular city, state, or province will often operate slightly differently than the ones around it. For instance, in the USA, Arizona doesn't do daylight savings time. So it's an hour off from the rest of its timezone half the year.
I find the best way to handle appointments when traveling around a lot is to mark down when they're going to happen in the timezone of the person I'm talking to or meeting. Then, I don't convert until the week the appointment is happening.
This avoids the problem of trying to remember when you marked China time or Japan time for an appointment if you're traveling between the two countries.
This is huge. This is huge, and nobody gets it.
2% is 100% bigger than 1%.
You're investing money and have two options.
Option A pays a 5% return. Option B pays a 6% return.
I think there's roughly two good strategies for having conversations with people.
The first is actually speaking your mind freely once you get to know someone even a bit, including all the politically incorrect things.
As a somewhat tame example, I think the British Empire did more good than any other nation in history and was overwhelmingly a force for good in humanity. However, people mostly hear about their bad deeds, but don't hear about all the suicide cults, assassin's organizations, human sacrificing religions, and so on, and so on, that they ended. People also take for granted all the hygiene, infrastructure, rule of law, scientific method, and so on that they propagated.
I'll point this out, even though it upsets some people. It's honest and not politically correct (but true!).
There's another strategy, which is to suss out what the person you're speaking to thinks, and try to converse on common ground and without being offensive. Done correctly, this actually means being liked by a wider group of people and not offending as many people... and this isn't so bad, really. Most people will lionize speaking up in theory, but react really hostile in practice if you say, for instance, that you think universal suffrage is a terrible way to choose a government.
Question from a reader -
I have fallen in love with your blog and will be visiting regularly! Thanks for the incredible content. I just finished your blog titled “the evolution of my time/life/habit tracking” and it is awesome!
I consider myself one hell of a problem solver and I am very driven at times but I often find myself being held back by a number of things including financial stress, fear, and alcohol. None of the things I just listed have such a tight grip that I am losing my mind or anything but they do have enough of an impact on my life that I am well aware of how much they are holding me back from my potential. I probably spend 3 to 5 days a week on top of the world, kicking ass tacking names and getting shit done and 3 to 5 days a week being unproductive, stressed out and procrastinating.
I am well aware of the changes that I need to make and I am making them slowly but surely. Don’t get me wrong I am making progress, lots of it, but I am also impatient and that impatience makes it harder for me to accept the fact that getting to where I want to be is going to take a little longer than I would like.
I love this comment by Michael Edge on the post "Junk Food Tastes Good, Eh?"
This is a very interesting problem that frequently crosses my thoughts. The growing discrepancy between the modern civilized environment and the human animal little changed in fifty thousand years.
Short of using genetic engineering to realign our bodies with our newly created environment, there isn’t much we can do physically – biological evolution is too slow a process. Our bodies need to be physically active, yet our society no longer requires us to be. Often we have to go out of our way to be active. Bad food tastes better than good food, since in developed countries at least, food is plentiful. Eating your fill of high energy density food is now a very bad thing to do, since you can now do that multiple times every day.
If physical evolution isn’t an option, then mental adaptation is the only real alternative. Our minds have to be trained to be aware of our bodies limitations. I think that willpower is the dominant trait possessed by those who best adapt to modern society. You have to be willing to force your body to act against it’s instincts.
AJ Kessler is an extremely talented guy with lots of great insights on art, business, philosophy, and life. He's an excellent photographer, and he was kind enough to write a post on creativity for us. I'm pleased to bring it you. Here's AJ -
"I'm just not a creative person."
I hear that all the time. It's complete bullshit.
If you've never created something, or done something you'd describe as creative, you may lack awareness or curiosity (two conditions which are easily fixed with minimal effort), but that doesn't mean you're not creative.
Anyone can be creative. Even kids are creative, and kids don't know anything. That's the secret though: they're creative because they don't know anything. They don't know how things work and they don't know what the outcome is supposed to be. So they ask questions, they try things, they experiment, they break things. If the end result looks good to them, they're done.
I ate a blueberry scone today. I normally don't eat sweets, but I've been walking about 5 hours a day seeing sights and temples, and I realized I was only eating like 1800 calories. So, that ain't good. The only high calorie item at Starbucks, so I got the scone. It tasted great.
And I thought about it. Why does the scone taste great, when healthier stuff doesn't?
Answer: Because our taste buds don't suit us well in the modern day. The reason junk food tastes good is because it was advantageous in the past. Sweet things, high density carbs, and fats were really efficient for surviving and not poisonous back then.
But now, they're not the best way. The taste buds evolved to help us survive, but now they're kind of not helping. It's like a broken speedometer in a car. Foods are supposed to taste good to let you know that they're safe and beneficial to eat. But now, we don't get poisoned from toxic plants... we get poisoned from too much refined sugar with diabetes and obesity and such.
It'd be like if you were watching the speedometer in the car and it said "65" on the freeway, but you were going 110 in reality. Eating off what your taste buds tell you is bad for your survival now.
Got a long email from a reader with some great questions - he's a very impressive dude, but he has a hard time sticking with something for more than 1.5 to 3 years. If you have this trait as well, you might want to pay close attention to this post
And I have a real problem "falling in line" with the rest of society in a stable, consistent and "normal" life. I just feel like it's not me.
Yup, I know exactly how you feel. I've been in similar places. So have a lot of my friends. Some thoughts -
What I see as a recurring theme in my jump from job to job and industry to industry is my utter lack of real fulfillment. Don't get me wrong, I do have a temporary sense of fulfillment and meaning with the careers I have pursued, they just don't seem to last. Once I have focus on what it is that I want to do I am relentless in achieving it. For instance, after 3 years in the --- industry I have acquired the knowledge that many people don't achieve until 10, 12 or even 15 years in the industry. However, that life-cycle tends to be around 18-months, where I then become unfulfilled by the rate of learning and progress I am making. This ultimately leads to erratic behavior within the succeeding months and a feeling that I need to drop what I'm doing and move onto something else - whether that be a new job or a new career altogether.
Google the term "rage to master" - click around, read some summaries, and then check out a couple academic papers. It will be very worth your time.