The Neuroscience of Living Well

Avthar's Weekly Wisdom #43 (02/21/2021)

Welcome to edition #43 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, in a big or small way, every week.

Here's what I want to share with you this week:

  • A new podcast on the neuroscience of wellness, wearables and the brain-body connection

  • Gary Vaynerchuck on why your niche is you

  • A quote on happiness from my favorite book, “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”

🧠 On Health — (and new from Avthar)

Shamay Agaron on the Neuroscience of Wellness, Wearables, and the Brain-Body Connection

In this episode of Learn with Avthar, I sit down with Shamay Agaron. Shamay is a Princeton-trained neuroscience researcher and science communicator. He's also the author of Friday Brainstorm, a popular newsletter that makes neuroscience accessible and actionable to everyday people.

Here’s what we talk about during the podcast:

  • 08:05 - Shamay's journey in neuroscience

  • 14:01 - The (un)surprising link between food and mood

  • 21:07 - Our environment's impact on our brains

  • 33:52 - Forget lo-fi, listen to soundscapes

  • 41:13 - Alternative wellness

  • 49:20 - Gut-brain connection

  • 54:48 - Consumerism and health

  • 59:04 - Level up your health by BREATHING

  • 1:03:41 - The double-edged sword of quantified personal data

  • 1:36:50 - A Neuroscience Researcher's Top Book Recommendations

🎧 You can listen to the full audio on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Online

📺 And for the full experience, video podcast is on Youtube!

Please subscribe to my Youtube channel while you’re at it. I’ll be posting more full episodes, podcast clips and special videos there for you to learn from and enjoy!

🏆 🚀 On Self-Mastery and Creating — 

Your Niche is Being Yourself by Gary Vaynerchuck: I came across GaryVee’s conversation with a college student trying to find his niche on Youtube. It’s applicable to everyone looking to live a life of sustainable excellence:

Your niche is you the human. Every [creator] is saying “I need a niche”, which means I need to stay narrow in’s the reverse. You need to be as broad as possible, but fully you - that becomes your niche! 

That’s me. I talk about the Jets, sports cards, wine, business… garage sales… I’m not a niche, I’m broad AF. My niche is that I’m Gary.

Your niche is you the human. Everyone’s holding back their full self. They’re only showing people limited parts of themselves, instead of being themselves.

Being narrow is transactional. That’s how you get subscribers and views. But long term, you don’t build something meaningful. 

- Gary Vaynerchuck

This advice goes against conventional wisdom of picking a narrow set of topics and sticking to it. Sure you might grow your followers quickly, but you might also feel suffocated confining yourself to this “niche”. Creation then transforms from an outlet for enjoyment and curiosity, to a chore, something you’re obliged to do. Gary’s advice optimizes for long term consistency and enjoying the process.

For top CEOs like Gary Vaynerchuck, performers like Trevor Noah, and podcasters like Joe Rogan, their work is an expression of themselves. Doing that from day 1 might take you a bit longer to attract followers, because people can’t put you in a box and make sense of you easily. But over the long term, you’ll attract the right people who want what you have to offer, without sacrificing your authenticity.

Gary’s advice reminds me of the following quotes, first about genius and authenticity:

“A genius is the one most like himself.” - Thelonious Monk

And second, from Naval Ravikant about escaping competition through authenticity:

Don’t imitate. Don’t copy. Just do your own thing. No one can compete with you on being you. It’s that simple. 

And so the more authentic you are to who you are, and what you love to do, the less competition you’re gonna have.

So, you can escape competition through authenticity when you realize that no one can compete with you on being you. 

And normally that would have been useless advice pre-internet. Post-internet you can turn that into a career.

-Naval Ravikant

📚Further reading: Finding Your Own Way — Go deeper into the theme of becoming most like yourself by learning about the merits of forging a path unique to you from Silicon Valley titan Naval Ravikant, performance coach Kapil Gupta, and polymath extraordinaire Josh Waitzkin.

🙏 On Happiness —

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: I finished my first book of 2021 (I know, I’m a slow reader). I re-read the book that has, perhaps, most influenced my life: “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman.

One of the core ideas of the book is that happiness contingent on external circumstances is a fool’s errand. Change is a law of life. True happiness is without reason: 

“Wake up! If you knew for certain that you had a terminal illness — if you had little time left to live — you would waste precious little of it! 

Well, I’m telling you, Dan — you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! 

So be happy now, without reason — or you never will be at all.”

-Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman

📚PS: Way of the Peaceful Warrior was #1 on My 2021 Essential Reading (and Audibook) List. On it you’ll find 10 timeless books and audiobooks that you can read / listen to over and over again and learn something new each time.

👨🏽‍💻 What I'm up to these days:

For the first time in 2021, I did a long-ish, water-only fast (I ended up fasting for ~44 hours). The first day of a multi-day fast is always the hardest. My secret to surviving the dip is to have lots of things planned to do, like meetings, errands, workouts etc. On the second day, I felt mentally clear and calmer and more present. I might make a beginner’s guide to fasting, documenting the best practices I’ve learned from 2 years of practicing.

I also started lining up guests for new episodes of Learn with Avthar. You can look forward to episodes with venture capitalist and entrepreneur Jon Ma, University of Chicago computer science professor Marshini Chetty, and leadership and psychology expert Rene Sandoval, very soon! I’ll also be sending out an opportunity for you to submit questions for them before the podcast recording.

🙏 Thank you again for reading and for your support! I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace!


🐦 @avthars


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