This episode is part of a monthly series that I have dubbed “Motivation Monday.”
(Yes, I know, very creative of me. What can I say, I’m a genius…)
Seriously though, the idea here is simple:
One Monday every month, I’m going to post a short and punchy episode that I hope gets you fired up to tackle the workouts, work, and everything else that you have planned for the week ahead.
As we all know, it’s one thing to know what you want to do, but it’s something else altogether to actually make yourself do it, and I hope that this series gives you a jolt of inspiration, energy, and encouragement to get at it.
So, if you like what you hear, then make sure to check back for the latest and greatest installment.
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Before we get to the show, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please do consider supporting my sports nutrition company, Legion Athletics, which produces 100 percent natural evidence based health and fitness supplements, including protein powders and protein bars, pre workout and post workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support.
and more. Every ingredient and dose in every product of mine is backed by peer reviewed scientific research. Every formulation is 100 percent transparent, no proprietary blends, and everything is naturally sweetened and flavored. To check it out, just head over to legionathletics. com. And just to show how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code MFL at checkout and you will save 20 percent on your entire order if it is your first purchase with us.
And if it is not your first purchase, then you will get double reward points on your entire order, which is essentially getting 10 percent cash back in rewards points. So again, that URL is. LegionAthletics. com and if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, please do consider supporting me so I can keep doing what I love like producing podcasts like this.
In 2009, the stand up comedian Louis CK appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show to rant about how little we appreciate the technological wonders that make our lives amazing. We live in an amazing, amazing world, he said, and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots that just don’t care. On people who are frustrated when Media loads too slowly on their phones.
Louis CCK said, give it a second. It’s going to space. Can you give it a second to get back from space? He commented on people griping about flight delays. Did you partake in the miracle of human flight? You non-contributing zero. You got to fly. It’s amazing. Everybody on a plane should just constantly be going, oh my god.
Wow, you’re flying. You’re sitting in a chair in the sky. So, laughs aside, the guy has a point. We live in a technological wonderland that our even recent ancestors could have never imagined in their wildest dreams. Yet, anxiety, stress, dissatisfaction, and depression have been on 80 year upswings and are currently at all time highs among younger generations in particular.
Now, how? How could unprecedented ease, luxury, and relative economic prosperity be contributing to this decline in our society? Well, research points in many different directions, ranging from the perversion of values. So for example, the growing obsession with fame, money, and image to the delaying of marriage and child rearing, according to a 75 year study conducted by scientists at Harvard.
The biggest predictor of long term happiness and fulfillment is the quality of your relationships as well as the overuse of social media. That is certainly a problem that is becoming more and more recognized in the scientific literature and more now, accordingly, there are. Many things we can do to lift our spirits.
We can stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. We can work harder to find and foster meaningful relationships. We can spend less time on Instagram and Facebook and more time with people we actually like. But there is one thing in particular that outshines them all, and it’s incredibly simple. So that’s convenient.
It is gratitude. Something I’m sure you have heard quite a bit about. Something that many people in the self help, self development space have been talking about for some time now. And There’s a good reason why. According to Dr. Robert A. Emmons in his 2013 book Gratitude Works, a 21 day program for creating emotional prosperity, quote, gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion.
Grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and gratitude as a discipline protects us from the destructive impulses of Envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness. People who experience gratitude can cope more effectively with everyday stress, show increased resilience in the face of trauma induced stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health.
So, in other words, the more thankful we are for anything and everything, the better our lives are going to be in just about Every way, regardless of the circumstances, we are going to feel less stressed and depressed, our risk of chronic disease is going to drop, we’re going to be less likely to overeat, and we’re going to sleep better, just to name a few of the ways that we’re going to benefit from being more thankful.
And this is easy to do. Gratitude is remarkably easy to do. Stop listening for a moment and just reflect on this question. What happened last week that you are thankful for? Just think of three, maybe five things. Done? Good, because research conducted by scientists at the University of California shows that that’s all it takes.
What you just did is all it takes to immediately and favorably alter your brain chemistry. And here’s the kicker. Even if you can’t find anything, just searching for something to be thankful for is enough to lift your mood. But we should always be able to find something, even if it’s just having clean air to breathe or clean water to drink or a person who loves us, or a comfortable bed to sleep in.
And if you are really struggling to think of anything to be thankful for, go read or listen or watch a documentary about how life generally was for the average person a couple hundred years ago. Go learn about the hardships that people had to endure. And then if you want to get gruesome go back a thousand years and and learn about what life was like for most people and compare that to your life now and i think you’re going to find some things to be grateful for i think you’re going to be glad that you were born when you were born and not a long time ago Anyway, another interesting point with this gratitude exercise is the more often we do it, the more often we practice gratitude, the easier and easier it becomes to find things to appreciate.
As scientists like to say, neurons that fire together, wire together. And so the more we stimulate the neural pathways involved in feeling grateful, the more robust and efficient those become. And if you want to experience this for yourself, all you have to do is start keeping a gratitude journal. Here’s how Martin Seligman explained it in his 2012 book, Flourish, a visionary new understanding of happiness and wellbeing.
Quote, every night for the next week, set aside 10 minutes before you go to sleep, write down three things that went well today and why they went well. Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier. The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.
Now, incredibly, a study conducted by scientists at Hofstra University found that that five minute daily habit can increase your long term well being by as much as 10%, which is comparable to the emotional effects of doubling Your income. In another study conducted by researchers at the University of California, participants who wrote down five things in the previous week that they were grateful for for 10 weeks felt 13 percent happier by the end of the experiment.
These people were more optimistic about the future, were more satisfied with their lives, and even spent more time exercising because they just felt better. In yet another example of the power of the gratitude journal, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania had participants do the same type of writing exercise for just a few minutes per week.
After several weeks, a number of the participants were happier and less depressed, and these effects persisted for one, three, and even Six months afterward. So what happened here is in some people, just a week or two of gratitude journaling can provide an emotional lift for months, six months, or even longer.
And you know, the things that you write in your journal do not need to be momentous or even meaningful, only specific. That’s the key. And there’s also. The frequency, the frequency of the writing, that’s what matters, not the intensity. So, for example, in one of the studies that I cited, the types of things people recorded in their journals included a sunset through the clouds, the chance to be alive, and the generosity of friends.
And that means that your entries can be equally work a day. Maybe it’s a delicious bagel that you had for breakfast, or a seductive smile from your spouse, or a compliment from your boss. Those are all perfectly acceptable entries. And the reason this exercise works is it forces you to repeatedly scan your life for the good.
And the more you do this, the more automatic and general this behavior and mindset becomes. So the more you tend to do this when you’re not journaling. Furthermore, as we can only focus on so much at any given time, the more attention we generally give to the positive things around us, the less attention will go to the negative things.
And this can create an upward spiral. effect. Now, if you want to supercharge the positive effects of your gratitude reflection, once you’ve found something to be thankful for, imagine how your life might have been affected if it had never happened. So for instance, what might your life be like if you had never met your spouse, if you didn’t live in your current neighborhood, if you hadn’t met that stranger who would later become your business partner.
Studies show that that mental exercise of subtracting good things from our lives, it can help us become even more aware of the benefits that we enjoy from these things. And it can help us become even more grateful for their Presence. Anticipation is another mood booster that pairs nicely with gratitude journaling because its effects are often greater than retrospection.
So looking forward to something is often going to make us more excited and is going to have a more beneficial effect on our mood than looking back on something that was nice. And some research shows that anticipating events can actually have a bigger. effect on our mood than experiencing them. So while you are thinking of things to be grateful for, let’s say at the end of the day, you can also then think about something, at least one thing to anticipate the following day.
And you can benefit even further from that duo by doing it first thing in the morning. So research conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University shows that your morning mood It tends to color your entire day. So if you start off by looking for things to be thankful for and then looking for at least something, if not a few things to look forward to that day, then chances are you are going to get more productivity and more pleasure out of your life.
Now, if you’re wondering what I have done with this information, personally, I have a Google sheet called daily positivity, and it’s formatted pretty simply. So the first column is just the date column, and that’s just a list of dates one after the other. And then the next column is the first thing that I’m anticipating.
So anticipating one, and then the next column is. Y, and then anticipating two, Y, anticipating three, Y, and then thankful for one. So that’s column H, and then Y, thankful for two, Y, thankful for three, Y. And then I just fill it out every morning and move on with my day. So here’s some actual entries. These are from some time ago, but just a few examples.
So in anticipating one, working on a new email sequence for Legion. Why? Because I think it’s going to do well. Anticipating two, a podcast interview. Why? Because it should be an interesting chat. Anticipating three. Reading later tonight. Why? Because it’s a good book. Thankful for one. Had a good workout this morning.
Why? Because it feels good, man. Thankful for number two. I got a good deal on a new car. So I guess this is back when I got my car. Why? Because it saves money. Thankful for three. I got a gift from Lennox. Why? My son Lennox. Why? Because it feels good, man. And that’s it. Short, simple, takes five, maybe 10 minutes max.
And it gives me a little mood boost. It gives me a little emotional high, a little wave to ride as I start my day and start in on what is usually my deep work, my more difficult work. And it can do the same for you. I recommend that you give it a try. All right, well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful, and if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from, because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility.
And help more people find their way to me and to the podcast and learn how to build their best body ever as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and whatever app you’re using to listen and you will not miss out on any of the.
new stuff that I have coming. And last, if you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at mike at muscle for life. com and share your thoughts. Let me know how you think I could do this better. I read every email myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. All right.
Thanks again for listening to this episode. And I hope to hear from you soon.