It sounds like an episode from Game of Thrones, but it’s also a way to combat phone addiction. Take back control of your eyes. We spend hours glancing at our phones home-screen where apps developers compete for our attention. Red notification numbers and the full spectrum of colors that are engineered to make us click through and engage. Once you’ve clicked through then you the screen lights up like a Christmas tree. You are like a little mouse, getting the endorphin kick each time you click through.

Switch your phone to Grayscale mode. The way to do this on your iPhone is buried deep in General settings. I hope it becomes a shortcut key. Here’s a map. Try it for a week. If you are designer or a photographer, then it’s probably not an option, but for most of us, it helps take back our home screen.

Don’t let the phone decide when to use you. You choose when to use the phone.

Turn on grayscale. The downside of grayscale is that you lose all the color on pictures. I hope there’s a way to exclude photos when grayscale is turned on.

Turn off all notifications.

Turn off the sound.

Switch to airplane mode when you need extended flow time.

Review the apps on your home screen. If you are kicking sugar would you have a bowl of chocolate croissants in front of you on the kitchen table every morning while you eat fruit?

Try it.

Filter your feed

If you are overwhelmed by the Twitter outrage machine or the Facebook Feed, then I have a few tips.

Filter your feed. An unfiltered feed is overwhelming and will dunk and drown you with noise and information. Building a personalized and positive flow of information on Twitter is a little bit of scratch and peck – it can take years to curate the people you follow. Be patient. Explore new users. If there’s someone you admire, do some digging to see if she has a Twitter feed.

Don’t use the number of followers person has as a sign of quality. Popularity doesn’t equate to quality.

I’ve found that some people don’t tweet a lot, but they are prolific retweeters of fantastic content. Following quality content creators and quality content retweeters. They sometimes aren’t the same people.

Unfollow negative people. If reading someone’s tweets consistently makes you feel shitty then drop them.

Learn how to mute keywords from the feed. You won’t miss out on breaking news. The important news will always find you whether via word of mouth or a quick phone call.

Remove the Twitter app from your home screen. Out of sight and out of mind. You’ll check the feed less, and when you do check in, you’ll appreciate the moment.

Follow positive people and people you can learn from. Good community members on Twitter favorite and retweet other people. They contribute to the community and have constructive conversations. One way traffic and zero interactions with no favorites, retweets and replies is a red flag.

Report the trolls. If everyone does their bit, then Twitter gets better overall. Be a good Twitter citizen.

Don’t engage with trolls or bullies. Learn to mute and block.

Goodbye negativity, hello uplifting news feed.

The Tree of Knowledge

I’m intrigued by Elon Musk’s concept of Tree of Knowledge. He says, “it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

Vishal Khandelway created a helpful illustration to explain the difference between the trunk, branches, and leaves.

The trunk. Start here and build your foundational principles by reading biographies, history books, philosophy and other non-fiction.

The branches. These are podcasts, medium posts, new best seller books on Amazon, Op-eds in the Atlantic, NYT, Washington Post, etc.

The leaves. These are random tweets and Facebook posts. Back in the age of newspapers, these used to be Letters to the Editor. These are mostly noise.

Spend your time on the trunk and the branches. The leaves are seductive but don’t build help your build foundational principle that acts as your guidelines for making decisions.

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Always start with your principles.

The ocean of life

I spent some time in the sea this summer, and it reminded me that the more acquainted I become with ocean swimming, the more respect I have for the ocean. I found some sage safety advice from Michael Christie and Australian ironman Craig Riddington on staying safe in the surf. I couldn’t help but chuckle and think that this information may as well apply to most things in life.

I’ve taken Michael’s points and added more context and color in italics.

Know your limits as a swimmer. Oceans aren’t swimming pools, and every swim is different. Understand the bail out areas. Know and understand your beach.

Never panic. Always keep calm. When you panic you start using up precious energy that you’ll need to get back to shore. Panic clouds your judgment. I’ve seen people swim in the wrong direction because they get disorientated.

Time entry and exit to set waves. Timing is everything. The ocean is more powerful than you. Take a walk on a beach sometime note the massive trees washed ashore. That’s raw power. Don’t fight it, go with the flow.

Go out on the rip current. Study your surroundings. Don’t fight the flow. Go with the flow. An Olympic swimmer will lose one-on-one against a strong ocean current.

Come in on the sandbank. Surf in on the waves, feel the sand under your feet. Just because you see the shore doesn’t mean you can swim straight in.

Swim a maintainable pace so you:
Keep your breath. Breath slowly, stay calm and feed your body.
Keep your energy. Don’t burn calories worrying. Pick your exit, don’t fight the ocean and go with the flow
Keep your courage.

Come on in; the water is warm.

What’s good for the heart is good for the brain

I picked out some gems from a Terry Gross interview with British neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli first set out to study Alzheimer’s because of his grandfather died of the disease. It’s worth a listen.

What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. When we exercise, the brain releases a protein called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF. BDNF acts as a fertilizer for the mind and can aid the growth of new neurons and new synapses. Next time you work out you are doing some gardening on your brain.

A Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s. So eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Cook with olive oil and cut back on the red meat.

The spice turmeric has been seen to be a super good for brain health. Get going with the turmeric lattes and learn to cook with the spice. It pops up in a lot of Indian food staples. Another natural reason to eat more Indian food.

Flee from them

If you have a gambling problem, then don’t go to Las Vegas even if the best show in the world is playing on the strip.

If you can’t say no to that last drink, then stay away from bars.

If you are addicted to nicotine, then don’t hang out in the smoking lounge.

If you are trying to kick caffeine, then stay away from coffee shops.

If you are addicted to the endorphin kick from social media, then delete the apps like Facebook or Instagram that suck you in. Turn off push notifications and opt out of the email. There are brilliant people at these companies whose sole job, compensation and bonuses are centered on getting you to spend more time scrolling through the feed. Sadly a lot of them could be applying that same expertise to nobler causes, but money talks and principles walk out the door.

If there are people you follow on Twitter who spew negativity, hate, and decisiveness and in the process make you feel pretty shitty then unfollow them.

Don’t try to control these vices; you need to flee from them. Keep away from the hooks, and you won’t get sucked in. Addictive vices are seductive, so to counter the gravitational pull you have to engineer your life and habits to avoid them. Associate with people that reinforce good habits and keep you on track. Sometimes the best way to beat something is to run away.

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.

Food and health trends beyond 2017

Sugar and Social Media are the new big tobacco. Both will be hard to kick and will take years until people understand the effects these products have on our bodies. More and more people are ditching both of these stimulants in 2018. The question is what will replace them.

The legalization of marijuana in California will change the way people socialize. California is the fifth largest economy in the world so this will where mass consumption will start and innovate. High-quality Marijuana will be packaged and sold like Johnny Walker Whiskey and Apple Products with fancy white boxes and little blue velvet bags. Alcohol products have so much sugar in them that people will opt for edibles over cocktails. It will really take off when the Baby Boomer generation finds it socially acceptable. The downside is that there will be long-term health consequences for vapers, so people will favor edibles over time.

The concept of the gym will become less popular. People will opt to be outside or exercise at home. As the population continues to urbanize there will be less space for workout rooms and studios. People will exercise in smaller areas and the routines will change. Yoga and other natural bodyweight exercises will continue to gain in popularity. It’s affordable, can be practiced anywhere, and is low impact on your body.

Due to water shortages and climate change, people will start moving to places like Colorado, Oregon, Washington State. States with ample water, snow packs, and moderate climates. High populous states like California and NY will see hyper-urbanization. There will be massive car-free and gun free zones in the city. Previously high trafficked roads and freeways will become sought-after real estate because they are close to transportation hubs. Electric vehicles will reduce pollution and noise, while massively increasing safety and decreasing auto fatalities. Living next to roads will be where everyone wants to be. Insurance for non-autonomous cars will become unaffordable for the average American, forcing a shift to autonomous vehicles and mass public transit.

Eggs will be famous again. They are easy to prepare, contain a good dose of protein and are good for your heart.

Dairy will get less and less popular over time. We are the only mammals that drink milk after infancy. People will cut the dairy and eat more greens for all of their vitamin and calcium needs.

As people move away from meat look for an uptick in supplements like Bone broth and collagen.