Welcome to edition #45 of Avthar's Weekly Wisdom!
🔥 This newsletter is where I share practical wisdom about self-mastery, startups, health and happiness, all to help you live better. My guarantee is that you’ll discover one thing that can change your life every week.
Here's what I want to share with you this week:
How to find your dream job
A neuroscience professor on increasing focus
A squat routine from Connor McGregor’s coach
Big Sean on spirituality and success
🚀 On Careers —
How to find your dream job: Finding fulfilling work is a conundrum of modern life. We want work that's financially lucrative, but also stimulating and purposeful. This essay details 3 principles which helped me navigate my own search for career fulfillment:
1. Examine and align your motives
2. Taste many things
3. Deepen your mastery
Together, these ideas will help you find your dream job.
🏆 On Self-Mastery —
How to focus to change your brain: In this podcast, Andrew Huberman (Neuroscience Professor & Lab Director at Stanford University School of Medicine) taught me a ton about the theory of neuroplasticity via intense focus and step by step protocols (both chemical and behavioural) that can induce plasticity in the brain. This episode is not only relevant for better understanding your brain, but also for how you can apply neuroscience to become a better learner.
Here are some of my main takeaways from the episode:
Attention can be learned. To learn attention, you need to create conditions where what you’re engaging in will modify the brain such that you won’t have to spend so much energy on it going forward. This adaption to conserve energy and make actions reflexive is the essence of plasticity.
Learning after age 25 requires work. When we’re young neuroplasticity is a right. But after age 25, you have to do work in order to experience it.
Experiences with intense focus and emotion modify the brain. This ‘one trial’ learning often results from negative events (trauma, touching a hot stove etc), but can occur for positive events by engaging in a sequence of alertness, focus and rest.
Learning requires alertness. It’s important to align your learning activities with your peak alertness periods. Explore when in your 24 hour cycle you are alert (alertness is usually highest straight after waking from sleep) and don’t give up that time for passive consumption (e.g social media, Netflix etc)
Focus comes from stress. Chemically, we focus thanks to epinephrine (which in the body is called adrenaline). We need to be slightly agitated in order to focus intensely. You can induce this alertness chemically, most commonly and safely through caffeine consumption, but also (less advisedly) thru nicotine consumption.
Mental focus follows visual focus. If you look at one thing, you will better be able to focus. Scattered visual focus makes mental focus difficult (why checking your phone while reading is a bad idea). Attention drifts, so it’s okay to bring it back using the eyes. You can train your visual focus by maintaining focus on a target at a similar distance that you want to perform at (e.g the computer screen, book in front of you)
Schedule focus blocks of 90mins: You can’t engage your mind at max focus all the time. Focus happens in bouts. These learning bouts are about 90mins long. Even with a 90min focus period, the beginning and the end will be lower quality of focus.
Learning happens during rest. While alertness and focus are triggers to learning, actual neuroplastic changes occur during rest periods. The most potent form of rest is deep sleep, but non-sleep deep rest and disengaging via wordless activities also help learning take place by accelerating the rate of plasticity in the brain. Wordless activities are activities where you’re inputting words into the brain and you can let the mind drift (e.g walking, running, sitting without music or podcast etc).
😜 Fun fact you can immediately apply from the podcast: If you to listen intently to someone, don’t try to look at them. Looking directly at them limits your ability to focus on what they’re saying.
📚 Further reading: Just as focus and rest are both essential to learning, I discuss how focused and diffuse modes of being are crucial for creative breakthroughs in Why you have your best ideas in the shower
🙏 On Health —
Ido’s Squat Routine: Ido Portal is a movement specialist and movement coach to Connor McGregor. I’ve been using his no-equipment-needed squat routine to supplement my leg training over the years. It’s great for improving mobility and flexibility. It is especially helpful for people who tend to sit all the time, whether at the office or at home.
🙏 On Happiness —
“And if it cost your peace of mind, it might be too expensive” - Big Sean
Big Sean's Spiritual Journey to Hip Hop Success: Big Sean is one of my favorite rappers. What makes me vibe with him the most is his undertone of self-development, spirituality and self-awareness in his music. In this interview with Jay Shetty, Big Sean gives us a glimpse into his inner world, how he overcame anxiety and depression, and his views on mental health and self-care.
“Too many times I thought the reaper was outside for me
And how the f*** it’s people that never met me that hate me?
I wonder if they understand that I meditate daily
And feel like my life purpose is to give inspiration
Despite the hit songs that there's just no escapin'”
-Big Sean, Deep Reverence
👨🏽💻 What I'm up to these days:
Thrive Hive Podcast Interview: I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Thrive Hive podcast. Thrive Hive is “a personal development community on a quest to find out the tried and tested steps to achieving a successful and fruitful life from those who have triumphantly walked the road to success before us.” I think the hosts, Thashen Naidoo and Nicole Naidu, are doing important work by broadening young people’s perspectives about success in their career and life. There was great energy in our recording and I’m excited to share it with you all once its live!
🙏 Thank you again for reading and for your support! I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace!
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