500 of the top optimal
Imagine the best ideas from the best optimal living books distilled into fun, inspiring and super practical
6-page PDFs + 20-minute MP3s. That’s PhilosophersNotes. (More wisdom in less time!)
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of WNYC’s (New York’s public radio station) popular podcast and show called Note to Self. She decided to do a little challenge with her listeners. 20,000 (!) people participated in her 7-day “Bored and Brilliant” challenge. This book is the result of all she (and her community) learned. Big Ideas we cover include how to drop into your default mode (aka imagination engine) via boredom, daydreaming (three ways to do it: the good, the bad and the ugly!), challenge #1: observe yourself! (plus the other six), doing deep work (the 4 rules), and essentialism 101 (the 3 steps).
Aristotle's writings have been extraordinarily influential since ancient times. This treatise is named after his son and is a collection of his lecture notes--imagining attending his Lyceum and listening to him teach 2,300 years ago! Of course, it's packed with culture-changing Big Ideas. Some of my favorites we cover include the ultimate end: eudaimonic happiness (vs. "happiness" as most of us think about it!), how to achieve that eudaimonia (hint: "virtuous activity of the soul" aka areté), how to win the Olympic Games (hint: you can't just show up; you need to ACT!), the doctrine of the mean (and the vice of deficiency + excess) and the virtue of magnanimity: meet YOUR great soul.
Dan Pink is the author of a number of bestselling books. We’ve covered a couple of those books so far: Drive and To Sell Is Human. This one, of course, is about timing. Specifically, as per the sub-title: “The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.” As with all of his other books, it’s brilliantly written—weaving in fascinating stories with solid science and practical tools to cap it off. Big Ideas we explore include: The hidden pattern in everyday life, the importance of breaks (for the strong not the slothful!), your afternoon nappuccino, beginning before you begin, midpoints as sparks rather than slumps, and your new end-of-day ritual.
We've all got places that scare us and in her great book, Pema Chodrön helps us shine a compassionate light on them. We'll explore some Brilliant Ideas including the fact that being mad at someone and holding a grudge is kinda like eating rat poisoning thinking you're going to hurt the rat. Not so much. We'll also look at idiot compassion and the practice of rejoicing in others' good fortune and other wonderfulness.
Eric Butterworth was a prolific author and Unity minister—one of the great spiritual teachers of the 20th century. We featured another one of his books called Spiritual Economics. That one transformed my consciousness around money/ambition/etc. (I *highly* recommend it.) Butterworth was also Maya Angelou's spiritual teacher. And, Oprah says that this book is one of her all-time favorites. Big Ideas we explore: Where to find the Divine (hint: look within!), the great decision, the true meaning of “meek” (it's not what you think), going the second mile, and how to create a heaven (or hell) right NOW!
Stephen King has written over 50 books. ALL of them (that would be every.single.one) have been international best-sellers. (Wow.) It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two (or 350 million) about writing. He shares that wisdom in this book and we'll take a quick look at a handful of my favorite Big Ideas in this Note.
Did you know there’s an equation for Procrastination? Yep. Expectancy x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay = Motivation. Thank you, Piers Steel. In this great book, Piers (a leading researcher on the science of motivation/procrastination) walks us thru the power of that equation. Big Ideas we explore include: Mental Contrasting (and why it beats creative visualization), goal setting (3 scientific keys) and how to add a month of productivity to your year.
Nietzsche was said to deliver his philosophy with a hammer and this book definitely nails his disdain for conditioning and conformity. In the Note, we'll take a peek at some really Big Ideas including the fact that our worst enemy is often inside our own heads, that sometimes we need to push ourselves to discover just how far we can go, and how we’ve gotta be willing to go into the depths of our being if we want to fly.
I’m a HUGE fan of Phil and Barry's first book, The Tools. Coming Alive is kinda like The Tools Part 2. In this book, we get four new tools to go along with the original five tools. Big Ideas we explore include how to connect to our Life Force, defeat Part X (their name for that part of each of us that gets in the way), build our confidence and learn to see problems as gifts as we live a GREAT life.
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin were two of the most senior (and decorated) SEALS on the ground in the most intense battles of Iraq. In this book they share their leadership lessons on how U.S. Navy SEALs lead and win. It’s an intense, impactful read. Big Ideas we explore include a definition of Extreme Ownership, the fact that there are no bad teams, only bad leaders, how to prioritize and execute and remembering that discipline = freedom.
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