November 25th

More about taking a break, fasting, and engaging in change on a chaotic basis, from The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb1:

“I underwent periods of sleep deprivation followed by excessive rest. When I went to places with good restaurants, for instance Italy, I ate in quantities that would have impressed Fat Tony himself, then skipped meals for a while without suffering. Then, after two and a half years of this apparently “unhealthy” regimen, I saw significant changes in my own physique on every possible criterion – the absence of unnecessary adipose tissue, the blood pressure of a twenty-one-year-old, and so on. I also have a clearer, much more acute mind.

“So the main idea is to trade duration for intensity – for a hedonic gain. Recall the reasoning I presented in Chapter 6 about hedonic effects. Just as people prefer large but sudden losses to small but regular ones, just as one becomes dulled to pain beyond a certain threshold, so unpleasant experiences, like working out without external stimuli (say in a gym), or spending time in New Jersey, need to be as concentrated and as intense as possible.”Page 377, Chapter “Another Few Barbells”.

Change it up. Do not always do the same thing every day. Get some variation happening.

Cycle the intensity. Engage in periodic bouts of extreme intensity. Challenge yourself with an epic battle every so often. This is more our nature. We are not built for nine to five, Monday to Friday. We are built for the search, the hunt, and the victory … or the panic, the run, and the evasion.

The true warrior understands that, although repetition may be the mother of learning, different styles of learning exist and different methodologies have differing levels of impact and retention. So they should change it up. This is true in all aspects of existence, and the barbells in question are not the kind you lift, but the kind you graph. Life is not all a normal distribution curve. Much of what life is can be described as a barbell curve—significant measurements of amplitude at the ends of the graph, with not so much activity, in terms of amplitude, in between. Many of us believe that everything more or less follows a normal distribution curve; this is not the case on many occasions. Big events are typically related to a barbell-type distribution, which may or may not be skewed. Pretending that it is something represented by a normal distribution curve is very dangerous thinking. So pay attention. Be smart and challenge yourself, because you do not live in a rational world.

You are warriors. Change it up. Add some sprints, and mega dead lifts. Embrace some stress to break free from stress. You will terminate the distress and create a flood of mega doings that will invigorate us mightily. So it is written.

1. Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. The Black Swan. Random House, 2010. eBook