Five Things That Get Me Buzzed

Summertime is here and along with the rising temps, I feel like my world is expanding by leaps and bounds. Blockbuster movies aren’t my thing (though it was kind of fun to wear 3D glasses to watch The Amazing Spiderman) but here are a few of the books, projects and ideas that have me buzzing with excitement.

1. The power of vewy quiet.

When I was growing up in Iowa, a trip to the library with my mom and sisters was one of the weekly highlights. We’d check out the maximum number of books allowed on our library card (20, I think) and each walk out carrying a teetering pile of books in our arms. Then we’d spend hours, happily engrossed, nose in a book (my mom knew what she was doing when she taught us to read at a young age!).

In her popular TED talk (below), Susan Cain starts off by telling the story of how she packed a pile of books in her suitcase when she went off to camp, anticipating the chance to spend the summer reading – a fantasy that was immediately squelched by the counselor who dragged her out to participate in the camp cheer.

Susan is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking and my latest literary hero. She makes a bold proposition: that in glorifying the extrovert ideal of risk-taking and gregariousness, American culture may be overlooking the innate strengths of introverts – their ability to listen, synthesize information and work in solitude, for example — in the arenas of leadership and power. Clearly, Elmer Fudd was onto something.

As someone who often feels like a square peg in a round hole in work environments because I’m not loud or fast-talking, I’m excited to see a more positive take on the qualities that society often perceives as flaws. And based on the media buzz and (quietly) enthusiastic response from readers, it seems like I’m not the only one.

2. Mind-Body Power-Up.

Ilaria Montagnani is an icon in the fitness world and one of my role models for mental toughness: she teaches (and does) 20+ classes per week and never — I mean never! — shows sign of fatigue or low energy. When we first met 15 years ago, she was just creating her Powerstrike martial arts fitness classes (now one of the most popular in the world) and I was just beginning my martial arts training in taekwon-do.

It’s long been my goal to collaborate with Ilaria on creating a program that combines our expertise in peak performance and fitness, and I’m psyched that it’s happening with the launch of our Mind-Body Power-Up program in New York on July 13th.

3. Life as a caveman.

James Altucher, hedge fund investor, blogger and author, recently wrote about living life as an experiment:

“Every day,” he says, “wake up and see what you can experiment with. Foods, lifestyle, exercise, people you associate with and how they make you feel, methods of meditation and self-improvement, methods of feeling contentment when everything seems to falling apart around you. It’s all experiment.”

It’s true. We have so much access now to information and resources, there’s no reason not to try different ways of doing things on a regular basis.

Lately, several fitness professionals whose opinion I respect and who are awesomely fit and healthy have been touting the benefits of the Paleo style of eating — emulating the way our cavemen ancestors ate (the most important of which is avoiding wheat and gluten products — sorry, Dad, that includes your delicious oatmeal). I’m excited to take a radically different approach to nutrition and getting lean, and looking forward to seeing what impact it has on my health and energy.

If you’re interested, check out the amazing success stories at Primal Blueprint.

4. The Harlem Renaissance.

I’m excited about living in Harlem.

Well, I’ve always loved the wide boulevards, beautiful brownstones and the cross-cultural mix. But lately there’s been a noticeable boost in entrepreneurial energy – I think it started when restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson opened the Red Rooster (which attracts celebrities like Halle Berry, apparently), but now every week, practically, there’s the opening of a new café, bar or shop.

Most of all, I’m looking forward to evening swims at Lasker Pool in Central Park (the only one with 50-meter lanes!). At 7:00, the kids are shooed out and those of us who want to swim laps can do so in peace and quiet. You can (sort of) see stars in the sky and the trees surrounding the pool. It’s like an oasis in the middle of the urban jungle.

5. The 20x factor.

During my recent Mental Toughness Summit, former Navy SEAL commander Mark Divine said something that blew my mind:

“You’re capable physically and mentally of 20 times more than you think you are – that’s the 20x factor. The human spirit needs to be challenged and when it’s challenged it finds its fullest potential.”

Mark should know. He runs SEALFIT programs, where both civilians and military personnel come to test their mental and physical fitness — and he’s seen it happen. His words planted a bug in my brain and I’ve started imagining what it would be like to go through the Kokoro Camp, the 50-hour intensive that emulates the rigorous BUD/S training SEALs go through. I’d have to take my mental and physical training to a whole new level just to attempt it — and that’s simultaneously scary and exciting.

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