And how those negative thoughts usually lead to unresourceful actions?
I know that when I neglect the basics—sleep, diet, and exercise—everything gets thrown off-kilter.
When I waited tables and interacted with people all night, being hungry or tired was disastrous.
A small mishap like misspeaking would rattle me, and I’d get hurtled into my head where a destructive thought loop would take over.
From there, everything went downhill and the rest of the night I’d be stuck in my head.
Was It Just Me?
My co-workers never had an issue with hunger and sleep deprivation. They’d sometimes come in with 4 hours of sleep and still function normally.
Yet when I neglected sleep and food, negative thoughts quickly manifested into reality.
It turns out, it’s not just me. Research from Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person (Amazon), reveals that 20% of the population carries a trait known as “highly sensitive.”
Having this trait means your nervous system is more excitable and reactive, and you notice things in your environment that others don’t.
When I waited tables I noticed everything. For example, if I introduced myself in a timid voice—I instantly saw every bad reaction and the awkward energy was palpable.
Are Highly Reactive People Screwed?
In evolutionary terms, it was advantageous to have people in the tribe who were perceptive and aware of nuances in the environment.
First the advantages. Highly sensitive people are often ones who choose an introspective, quiet life—writers, musicians, painters.
My hypothesis is that if you’re not a highly sensitive type, you won’t be as successful at something like starting a blog.
And the disadvantages? Clearly we get affected more by stimulation—loud noises, hunger, sleepiness, being the center of attention.
The more stimulation—the more energy-draining it is.
But the good news is that these disadvantages can be tamed.
The first way is exposure.
Just like weightlifting and progressive resistance, you can build your “stimulation muscle” by putting yourself into stimulating environments until it no longer affects you.
I did this for several years by serving tables. By the time I quit the stimulation had little effect; talking to people five hours every night became the norm.
The second way is energy.
If you’re a highly sensitive person and you want to shine in activities like:
- Giving a presentation
- Approaching girls
- Waiting tables, sales, or any service job
You must develop great lifestyle habits because stimulating activities don’t mix well with poor lifestyle habits for highly sensitive people.
Thus to be your best self, you must master…
Besides the obvious social implications—having abundant energy will impact every area of your life.
Most people walk around in a haze, succumbing to urges and being ruled by their emotions. It’s why we have an obesity epidemic. When you have low energy it’s harder to resist making poor choices, like eating fast food.
Taking care of your energy—eating clean, getting quality sleep, exercising daily—is huge.
Yes I know, all these things are basic.
The fundamentals aren’t groundbreaking, but they work.
When you nail them and get your day down to a tee, magical things happen.
A Daily Routine
Note: I understand that you might not have the time, means, or desire to do what I do. I’m simply sharing my daily routine for inspiration.
Without a good night sleep forget everything. Sleep is the foundation for being energized all day long.
Most nights I’m in the bedroom by 8 or 9 winding down. I don’t use screens after this point (because blue-light inhibits melatonin).
I read an hour of non-fiction with blu-blocker glasses (Amazon). Then I read 15 minutes of fiction to take my mind off the day.
While sleeping I use the Sleep Cycle app (iPhone in airplane mode) that wakes me when I’m not in a deep-sleep phase. It also monitors the quality of my sleep.
I also sleep in a blacked-out room with temps ranging from 60-70 (too warm a room and my sleep-quality takes a hit, as seen below when it was summer).
2. Morning Routine
Ever wonder why military personnel are instructed to make their bed upon waking?
A morning routine is how you spark a cascading force of energy that will carry you through the day.
That’s why every morning I do this routine first thing:
- Drink 16oz of water
- Plug in an audiobook for a 30-minute walk
- Blast myself with a cold shower
- Meditate for 15 minutes
- Brew a cup of coffee and get to work
Water and coffee, that’s it for me.
I drink around a gallon of water a day to stay hydrated, stopping two hours before bed. Without adequate water you won’t be near as energetic.
Coffee is my other choice beverage. I drink 2-3 cups a day, making sure I don’t drink any after 3-4pm.
Whole foods and organic greens are the bedrock for feeling great.
To kick-start things I eat a few spoon-fulls of almond butter after two hours of work. I don’t eat a big breakfast because I use food as a reward for getting work done.
After two more hours of work I eat my first meal, that consists of scrambled eggs, nuts, and a green drink.
My go-to green drink recipe:
- Frozen strawberries
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp reishi mushroom
- 1 tbsp flax seed
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
Sometimes I switch things up and add cucumbers or beets. Anything works!
I use a vita-mix (Amazon) to blend everything (there are cheaper options but I like having a quality blender).
I have another light snack in the afternoon before the gym, a banana and peanut butter.
After the gym I eat a post-workout meal of carbs and protein. A combination of:
- Steel-cut oats
- Brown rice
- Greek yogurt
Shopping is done at Whole Foods for organic greens and Costco for everything else.
In the age of the internet, chairs are where we spend most of our time. That’s why I take frequent walks—to minimize the damage from sitting.
The other thing I do is weightlift five times a week, sticking to compound lifts like squats, power cleans, deadlifts, pullups, etc.
The natural high from a high-intensity weight workout can’t be beat.
Vibrant Energy is the Holy Grail
There’s no comparison to how I feel now, compared to how I felt a few years ago.
Soda, processed food, neglecting sleep, and any other bad habit is something that doesn’t cross my mind anymore, simply because I know I’ll pay the price if I indulge.
Once you taste what it’s like—having vibrant energy—there’s no going back.
Socializing is more fun.
Your day is more fun.
Life is more fun.