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Don’t Over-optimize Your Life: Glenn Murphy on PYP 512

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Here's my dream morning:

Wake up at 4am and pour a bucket of ice water over my head. Meditate for 30 minutes. Do 45 minutes of yoga. 30 minutes of breathing and muscle tension/relaxation exercises. As the sun rises, go for a 6 mile run, including hill intervals. Do 20 minutes of PT for my back. Lift weights for 20 minutes. Shower. Do 45 minutes of eye exercises. Write for 4 hours. Call three of my friends and tell them how much they mean to me. Write for 45 minutes in my gratitude journal. Spend 10 minutes planning my day to incorporate my priorities and move my goals forward.

Have breakfast.

Are we exhausted yet? I haven't even covered half of the things that I “should” do every day to make me into the person I want to be.

Today's returning podcast guest, Glenn Murphy, is no stranger to self-improvement. A martial arts instructor, prolific author, entrepreneur, and master of stressproofing, Glenn knows all the ways we can spend time optimizing our days and lives.

Between us, we've read all the books: Atomic Habits, Essentialism, Indistractable, Mindset, Deep Work, The Compound Effect, The Miracle Morning, Eat That Frog, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and so many more.

And through the last two years of pandemic and political and social and economic and environmental and psychological upheaval, we've both been buoyed and undermined by our daily optimization routines.

In this deeply personal conversation, we kick around Glenn's contention that it's possible – and dangerously appealing – to over-optimize our hours and days at the expense of a happy, balanced experience of life.

Rather than trying to make ourselves bulletproof and indistractable, he argues, we need to take time to look at the bigger picture: what do we actually want to do with all that productivity.

As he wryly notes, nobody wants their headstone to read, “He 10x'ed his life.”

Instead, we want meaning, joy, love, purpose, and ease.

So how to we balance the good habits and routines – the ones that support us in being our best selves – with the marketplace of “productivity porn” that needs us to consume one self-improvement book after another in an infinite race again our own limits?

Partly, by relentlessly asking a variation of a simple question: “To what end?”

And partly, by giving up on the myth of indistractability and embracing a much larger way of being: the ability to be imperturbable even in the face of distraction.

That requires more than tactics for maintaining laser-focused attention. To be imperturbable is a spiritual, physical, psychological, and mental state. It requires ongoing nurturing, as much through self-compassion as self-discipline.

It requires noticing our assumptions and questioning them bravely and ruthlessly.

As Glenn says, optimization never ends. There's always more to do. More to cram into my morning. More to achieve. More to improve. The question is, optimization to what end?

Or as Mary Oliver memorably put it:

“Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Links

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You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.

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