Get Brian's favorite PhilosophersNotes
Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary effort, but we believe in our collective ability to get through this period—together. To help with that, Optimize put together a collection of wisdom for thriving during difficult times.
These resources are designed to help: Learn and apply the psychology of Hope + Boost wellbeing through Gratitude + Maintain robust energy levels and Zest (and a healthy immune system) + Develop antifragile confidence and heroic Courage.
Here’s to being the Optimize = Optimus = Best = Eudaimōn = Hērō versions of ourselves in service to each other and the world.
Note: All of the content on this page is 100% free. And, if you want to access the full Optimize experience, your first two weeks are on us.
Note2: If you’re a first responder/doctor/nurse/etc., that is currently on the front lines serving your community heroically, we’d love to celebrate and appreciate you with a free 12 months Optimize membership. Just drop us a note here.
Note3: Our world doesn’t just need hērōs more than ever–we also need the power of human connection. We’re thrilled to be sharing a new way to connect with fellow Optimizers and tap into the outside-in power of community: Virtual Meetups hosted by Optimize Coaches. Learn more and join a Virtual Meetup, here.
Patrick Takaya Solomon—filmmaker and friend of Optimize—has generously made his documentary film FINDING JOE free for you to watch. The film is a modern take on Joseph Campbell’s wisdom + monomyth of the hero’s journey and features Optimize Founder & Chairman Brian Johnson alongside Tony Hawk, Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Rashida Jones, Alan Cohen, Sir Ken Robinson, and others.
As Campbell tells us, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. […] When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”
Let’s be the heroes that our world needs now more than ever.
Hope is the belief that our future will be better than our present, and it’s cultivated by combining Goals (a vision for what that future will be like) + Agency (a belief in our ability to create that future) + Pathways (a willingness to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes). Let’s go forward with hope.
+1 inspired by Note: Spiritual Economics
Did you know there's a science of hope? Yep. And Shane Lopez is the world's leading researchig studying the science of hope. This book is an inspiring look at the nuts and bolts of cultivating hope. Big Ideas we explore include differentiating hope from fantastizing and dwelling, the three keys to hope (goals + agency + pathways) , futurecasting, sirens, when/where plans and why hope is so important for leadership.
+1 inspired by Note: The Psychology of Hope
Gratitude is an approach to life that amplifies what’s awesome and gives us perspective to deal with temporary adversity. It’s also one of the practices most highly-correlated with well-being. Let’s appreciate the gifts we’ve been blessed with.
+1 inspired by Note: Gratitude Works!
I’m grateful for Robert Emmons. He’s dedicated the last three decades of his life to understanding the science of how to boost our well-being. In the process, he’s conducted ground-breaking research on the power of gratitude. In fact, he’s basically THE researcher we have to thank for understanding *just* how powerful gratitude journaling is. (He's also served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.) I consider myself a reasonably grateful guy but this book has opened my eyes to JUST how powerful gratitude is. And, to just how important it is to DELIBERATELY PRACTICE it. Big Ideas we explore include: How to give yourself a 25% (!!!) boost in happiness, the top gratitude practices, the #1 obstacle to gratitude (and its remedy), and using challenges for grateful fuel!
+1 inspired by Note: Gratitude Works!
+1 inspired by Note: Gratitude Works!
Energy (or Zest) is the foundation for both a healthy body and a healthy mind. Eating, moving, sleeping, breathing properly, being present… these “little things” matter now more than ever. Let’s Optimize our energy so that we can show up powerfully in our work, our love, and our lives.
We’re going to have a hard time actualizing our potential if we have a hard time getting out of bed. Energy is SUPER important. In fact, it’s the engine for our actualization. In this class, we’ll integrate a lot of the most essential aspects of eating, moving, and sleeping. But first, we’ll start by stepping back and recognizing just how important it is that we flip the switch in our minds—raising our standards and TRULY committing to being our best, most energized selves so we can change the world together, one person at a time, starting with YOU and me.
Eat Move Sleep. The simple, powerful keys to optimal health and well-being. We talk about these fundamentals ALL the time and this is my new favorite book on health. Big Ideas we explore include 10,008 hours and 36 minutes (the magic # of elite performance), candy for cancer cells, the power of measuring whatever it is you want to improve, how to buy willpower at the store, and a vaccine for the common cold.
Matthew Walker is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and sleep experts. He’s a professor at UC Berkeley (and former professor at Harvard) who has spent decades studying why we sleep and how to, as per the sub-title of this book, unlock the power of sleep and dreams. As you know if you’ve been following along, I’m a HUGE advocate of Optimizing our sleep as a fundamental practice in Optimizing our lives. This book has made me EVEN MORE bullish about the power of sleep. The consequences of chronically depriving ourselves of the sleep we need? Well, they’re astonishingly devastating—dramatically increasing the odds of having everything from mood disorders to cancer (and everything else we don’t want). Big Ideas we explore include the fact that you're more likely to get struck by lightning than have the gene that let's you get by on less than the recommended sleep, the universality of sleep (even worms sleep!!), resetting baselines, the iPad effect (did you know how much using one before sleep messes w/your melatonin?), and some tips to Optimize your sleep TONIGHT!!!
+1 inspired by Note: The Tools
I’m a big fan of Kelly McGonigal and her ability to help us apply scientific wisdom to our lives. We’ve covered two of her earlier books: The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress. So... When I got this book, knew I’d enjoy it. But, I didn’t anticipate JUST how much I’d love it. We have some great Notes on Movement (Spark, Spartan Up and No Sweat among my favorites), but Kelly’s book will be our new go-to for the science of WHY exercise/movement is so essential to our well-being. It’s PHENOMENAL. Reading about the SCIENCE behind stories of transformation (and how, as per the sub-title of her book: “Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage”) also made me that much more clear on the power of what we’re doing with all of our work and the importance of focusing so much on Energy (especially with our Mastery and Coach programs). Big Ideas we explore include: Hope Molecules (and how to create them), persistence highs (and how to create them), collective effervescence (and why it's so awesome), how we endure (hint: TOGETHER!), and OMMS!!! (Obstacles (literally!) Make Me Stronger!).
+1 inspired by Note: Unbeatable Mind
+1 inspired by Note: Why We Sleep
+1 inspired by Note: The Joy of Movement
James Clear has a super-popular website (jamesclear.com). Millions of people visit it every month and hundreds of thousands subscribe to his email newsletter. After reading this book, I can see why. He’s a great writer and distills the essence of habit formation into, well, its fundamental components—the “atomic” structure if you will—while showing us how those TINY little incremental improvements add up to MIGHTY results. I rarely say a book is a must-read but this one’s as close as it gets. Big Ideas we explore include: The math behind 1% gains compounding over a year (and a decade!), navigating the Plateau of Latent Potential (ever given up on a habit? Take note!), the importance (and etymology) of our Identity (get this: it *literally* means 'repeated being ness'), The 4 Laws of Behavior Change (remember: cue + craving + response + reward and... make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying), and the Sorites Paradox (can a single habit change your life?).
+1 inspired by Note: Wherever You Go, There You Are
+1 inspired by Note: The Sleep Revolution
True confidence isn’t knowing the outcome, it’s knowing that we have what it takes–and courageously doing whatever it takes–to face anything life throws at us. When we approach challenges this way, they become the fuel for our growth. Let’s have heroic strength for two and do what’s needed to grow stronger, together.
+1 inspired by Note: Gratitude Works!
+1 inspired by Note: The Power of Agency
+1 inspired by Note: Meditations
I love Stoicism. In this class we take a quick look at the cast of characters (from founder Zeno to Seneca + Epictetus + Marcus Aurelius) and then dive into the ultimate goal of Stoicism (hint: become bff’s with your inner daimon so you can experience a state of well-being and flourishing) along with the practices that help us apply this wisdom to our lives. We’ll create energized tranquility and equanimity as we have fun becoming our own ideal sages.
+1 inspired by Note: Can’t Hurt Me
+1 inspired by Note: The Power of TED*
You’re busy. I get that. That’s why I’m all about super (!) practical, smart, fun, inspiring and empowering wisdom you can apply to your life RIGHT NOW — consistently moving from theory to practice.
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The best Big Ideas from 600 of the greatest personal-growth books at your fingertips (and eyes and ears). Beautiful to look at and powerful to use, these mini-CliffsNotes™ of personal growth will inspire and empower you to live your deepest truths—giving you more wisdom in less time.
600 books condensed into 600 6-page PDFs for more wisdom in less time.
Every PDF is recorded as a 20-minute MP3 for on-the-go learning.
Brian shares his favorite Big Ideas in 10 minute episodes on PN TV.
Apply these ideas diligently, patiently, persistently, and playfully and happy dances are guaranteed.
The coolest online membership site and support giving you all need and more for personal success.
4,500 of the Biggest Ideas outlined and explained for easy and powerful implementation.
“PhilosophersNotes is an idea whose time has come. Starting from some of the world’s most important books, Brian’s masterful syntheses combine deep insights, humor, and practical applications in a manner ideally suited for our busy lives. I’m hooked!”
All the great teachers come back to the same basic principles again and again. Brian distills the best Big Ideas into fun, practical 1-hour master classes to help you optimize. We have over 50, 1-hour Optimal Living 101 master classes to help you Optimize every facet of your life—from your energy and confidence to your productivity and happiness.
To help you go from theory to practice and embody these ideas.
Beautiful visuals to complement the top 10 Big Ideas from each class.
Every Master Class is recorded as a full length MP3 for on-the-go learning.
Select classes have a guided meditation to help you integrate the ideas.
To get your subconscious mind involved and rock it.
Super practical worksheets to go from idea to action.
“Being obsessed with both individual and team performance, your podcast resonated. The Notes, et al, are brilliant. I am a crazy reader, so getting into your Notes is like a trip to the sporting goods store when I was a kid.”
You've helped me optimize my life in many ways! Through these classes/notes I have improved my mental, emotional, and physical health as well as my relationships, finances, and creativity! This is the best investment on myself every month - period.
My mood, energy, attitude - you name it - has improved, the "domino/compound effect" has definitely happened here and I can't wait to see what's next.
When Oprah had her show on TV, my sister used to say that I went to school everyday with Oprah. Now, I think of myself going to school everyday with Brian!
I spend $19/month on my gym membership to take care of my body. A mere $10/month on an Optimal Living membership is THE biggest value and BEST INVESTMENT I have ever made in my emotional, mental and spiritual health.
My life has taken a turn for the busy recently, but I commit to at least one philosophers note a day. I especially like to download the mp3 and listen while exercising or driving. When I listen to it, my mind gets ‘right’. I get back in touch with what matters most to me: my soul, my spirituality. And from this, my day, my life, my energy is aligned and I can live in flow. Thank you for all you do!
Imagine a site that contained stacks and stacks of great books. Now imagine someone summarized and explain the contents in a fraction of the time it takes to read them. Stop imagining. It's here. Take advantage of Brian's passion. Thank you.