Five Mindfulness Trainings

These are sound rules to live a meaningful life by from Thich Nhat Hanh:

  1. Reverence for Life
    Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life.
  2. True Happiness
    Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
  3. True Love
    Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends.
  4. Loving Speech and Deep Listening
    Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations.
  5. Nourishment and Healing
    Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness.

A Healthy Marraige with Kids

One of the biggest challenges with having kids is how to maintain a happy marriage while dealing with the dramas of parenting.

  • Put each other first – reinforce this in front of kids by hugging/kissing your spouse before the kids when you first meet. This is the most important thing you can do for yourselves and your kids.
  • Your kids don’t have to be happy all the time – sometimes it’s an important lesson in self-sufficiency to let them figure out how to be happy without your intervention. It’s ok to say “No” as a parent. It’s ok to aknowledge their emotion and not try to override it with your own idea of what they should feel.
  • Be present and tuned to the needs of your children, and follow your instinct in how to respond to them. Children are smart and usually have a good reason behind what they are asking for, so ask why and listen.
  • Say Sorry When you make a mistake, tell your kids and spouse that you are sorry in a genuine way. It goes a long way in avoiding resentment.
  • Moms – don’t tell dads how to behave around kids, let them be a father their own way.
  • Dads – do housework to turn women on! Put in your share. Make a chore list and divide it up.
  • Say “Yes” to your partner more than “No”. Be positive most of the time.
  • Reinforce each other on decisions in front of the kids. Be consistent no matter what.
  • Use a lot of thank you’s and please’s when asking your partner to do things. Appreciation goes a long way.
  • Exercise together as a family!
  • Make sex a priority.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff, save the arguments for the big issues. Sometimes it does more damage to kids to witness an argument than the thing your are arguing about.
  • Don’t expect to change everything you don’t like about your partner. Accept them for who they are and life will get much easier.
  • Have an adult conversation with each other instead of watching media/surfing the net.
  • Leave one day a week a “no tech” day when everyone in the family is prohibited from using technology/tv/internet. It’s surprisingly refreshing and brings the family together.
  • Flirt in front of your kids.
  • Find qualities you find attractive in your mate and focus on those.
  • Resolve Conflicts By listening first, trying to understand deeply the other’s point of view, and coming to an honest common ground. Avoid criticism, comptempt, defensiveness, stonewalling.
  • Take some time for yourself

Rules for Investing

Investing is always a risk, but one that can be calculated to plan for a comfortable retirement.

Top rules for investing in the stock market:

  • Start saving and investing early in life, time is the most valuable asset you have to see growth in your portfolio. Every dollar you spend now on possessions could turn into 3 or 4 in the future if you invest it.
  • You need to invest or your money will lose value as the economy inflates over time. Savings accounts are not a strategy.
  • Don’t pay off low interest loans, instead invest the money. As long as your average return is higher than the interest rate you pay (after tax considerations) you should be positive.
  • The stock market is highly rigged to benefit those with special access to info and fast algorithms. But you can still make money over long periods of time with some research and planning.
  • If your employer offers a 401k plan to avoid taxes on income until retirement, put as much money in it as you can and invest in ETF’s not Mutual Funds.
  • If investing outside a 401k, setup an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to your investment account so you don’t see the money as disposable.
  • Stocks generally rise in the first 6 months of a year and stagnant or fall in the last 6 months. Time your buys/sells accordingly.
  • Markets are cyclical, what goes up must come down. The more extreme it goes up the more extreme the drop will be. Your job is to buy low (when others are fearful) and sell high (when others are euphoric).
  • Think of stocks as items, buy when they are on sale and sell at they are not.
  • Be a prudent custodian, on your birthday every year check your portfolio and rebalance if needed.
  • To reduce risk, diversify with Exchange Traded Funds which are groups of stocks pooled into one and easy to buy/sell through your online broker.
  • With ETF’s stick to large names like Vangaurd, Proshares, iShares as unlike mutual funds, they don’t overcharge management fees that can eat big chunks of your returns.
  • Balance your stock portfolio based on your risk tolerance between large index funds that track the Dow Jones and S&P 500, Foreign Stocks, Emerging Markets and safer investments like dividend stocks and bonds by investing in targeted ETFs.
  • Hold on to investments longer than 1 year to pay lower tax rates (15% capital gains in US vs your usual income tax rate). However, if you have healthy gains, then don’t worry about selling and paying taxes. Gains could disappear soon.
  • If you don’t feel like it’s the time to invest, there is no shame in holding onto cash until the right opportunity comes.
  • Invest little bits in large companies you love & know, and think are at the top of their game. Keep investing as you go. Hold on to these long-term. Buy them especially when they are undervalued after a bit of bad news as long as the company underneath is sound.
  • Keep a portfolio of all your investments in one place with tools like Google Finance Portfolio
  • To see if a market is over-valued, look at the Shiller P/E Index. If it’s >20 the stock market as a whole may be overvalued and it’s time to sell. If >25 brace for a big drop. If it’s under 16, it’s time to buy. Be patient.
  • For individual stocks, look a the P/E ratio. If it’s >15 it’s probably over valued. But factors such as speculation, fads, and future earnings potential need to be taken into account.
  • If you are comfortable and able to take more risk (younger or have money you can afford to lose) then focus on leveraged ETFs – like the Proshares and Ultra Proshares line which can swing up to 3X the index they track or 3X under depending on the direction.
  • Look into annuities as a long term investment plan.
  • If you missed the signals and the market is crashing, don’t panic :)

The Future of Religion

No one knows the true purpose of life, from where it came or where it’s taking us. However, in the microcosm of humanity, religion serves a real, practical purpose. As we evolve out of the jungle to explore and conquer the earth, we humans inevitably clash with the forces of nature in our struggle to survive and spread our seed. When nature’s fortune is not in our favor, our reasoning mind requires comfort for our uncertainty.

We create outside forces, to which we can appeal and bargain for better days. Religion serves as a tool of justification – when our darker tendencies such as war express themselves in our competitive struggle for territory and resources, rationalizing our actions requires the Gods to be on our side and not the enemies, a sound justification for our most hideous crimes. Religion demonizes our competition that put their faith in “false Gods” and gives us the stomach for violent acts against our fellow man in order to conquer him.

Religion brings us together, it rallies our tribes under a common laws and values, fosters trust and reciprocity with our fellow believers, becomes our outlet for hope and inspiration, a mirror for self judgment, a comfortable crutch for our mortality, it even creates momentary peace. It greases the gears of society, puts mobs in control, and often contains laws that optimize procreation of our species (for certain times and environments). Religion also traps us in certainty and superstitions, leaving little room for progress, adaptation, and critical thinking.

The irony is, there very well could be a purpose to life, an eternal source of energy that shines through time and matter as light and life, revealing itself through silent, graceful creativity. Most religions are sourced upon these purities, but soon they are distorted, institutionalized, and twisted by the most cunning and greedy among us to justify their mortal thirst for power. The average man, too busy with the trials of life, outsources negotiations with the Gods to the self-appointed experts, the shamans among us that claim to embody the divine. They too are a slave to their lust for power and status, tools that will gain them unchecked influence over their flock.

The Future

As a species that has largely succeeded in conquering land and nature, building nations with just laws and power institutions, we have less of a need for organized religion. There are few places on earth we have not conquered. Yet, as we stare into the vast cosmos, become mesmerized by eyes, or wonder at the brilliance of nature’s majesty, we get a taste of something larger that we all belong to. Without purpose, we are doomed to waste our energy to vicious cycles of narcism and nihilism. We must take personal responsibility to foster peace within ourselves through self-inquiry, educate everyone, question all forms of institution and those that they serve, and practice timeless compassion with our fellow man and environment to create a better future. This is the future of religion.

Life Attitude

The most important thing in life is a good attitude, as it is the defining characteristic of who you are, how you choose to engage with the world, and the legacy you ultimately leave behind.

The ideal attitude towards life, one that brings the most contentment and harmony seems to be one that combines:

  • Compassion for others – Understanding situations from multiple angles, not just your selfish perspective. Being kind to others as you make your way through life and its challenges. Supporting others with their challenges as you do for yourself.

You are in a partnership with all other human beings, not a contest to be judged better than some and worse than others.

  • Hard work – no matter what the challenge, there is no better way to meet it than to spend time practicing, researching, and working hard towards a goal. Finding a good balance between work and play is key.
  • Being yourself – Allowing yourself to be comfortable with who you are, not being defined by other’s perceptions of you. This means having confidence, following your passions and talents to make a living doing what you love. And most importantly, not playing the “victim” of your circumstances.
  • Taking risks – Without putting ourselves on the line, out there exposed to possible failure and rejection, there is no growth in life. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Usually it’s not that bad.
  • Detachment from outcomes – Putting in the time to reach your goals, yet not worrying about the future or trying to control the outcome or other people. Not doing things just for material success, but rather because you think it’s aligned with your values and purpose.
  • Embracing conflict – When things go wrong, use it as an opportunity to learn and challenge yourself and the people around you. Don’t blame others, look within and see how you may be subconsciously contributing to the problem.
  • Enjoying the moment – Trying to enjoy the ups and downs of life, planning and strategizing for the future, yet staying nimble and adapting to the environment as it changes around you. Savoring simple pleasures in life like [food]http://advicy.com/eating-well/, friends, and family.
  • Having a sense of humor – Defusing tension by adding a little bit of humor to relationships, not taking yourself or others too seriously.

Choosing Vitamins & Supplements

Daily Supplements

Some recommendations inspired by research from Perfect Health Diet and my own findings:

  • Sunshine and vitamin D3 as needed to achieve serum 25OHD of 40 ng/ml. = 4,000 UI/day
  • Vitamin K2 100 mcg or more as MK-7
  • Magnesium 200 mg as Chelate or Citrate
  • Iodine 225 mcg as Seaweed or Seafood
  • Vitamin C 1g as Calcium Ascorbate
  • Omega-3 Fish Oil 1g – See purity reviews

Weekly Supplements

B Vitamins:

  • 100 mg each of B1, B2, and B6
  • 5 mg biotin
  • 500 mg to 5 g pantothenic acid
  • 500 mcg B12

Other Vitamins:

  • Zinc 50 mg
  • Chromium, 200-400 mcg and (optional) vanadium, 25-50 mcg
  • Boron 3 mg

Optional Supplements

“These supplements are not suitable for everyone but may be helpful for a significant fraction of the population. Experiment to see if they help you:”

  • Lithium 2.5 mg – a 5 mg tablet cut into halves
  • Silicon 5 mg to 25 mg
  • ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO DO NOT EAT LIVER: Copper 2 mg
  • B-50 complex (as a substitute for individual B supplements if you prefer fewer pills
  • Molybdenum 150 mcg
  • Taurine 500 mg
  • Selenium 200 or 400 mcg per week depending on selenium content of food (if food is produced in dry, flat areas = high selenium, no supplements; rainy, well-drained areas = 400 mcg/wk) and iodine intake (higher iodine = bias toward slightly more selenium)

Prenatal Supplements

The most important prenatal supplements are: Extra duck, goose, or pastured chicken liver.
Extra egg yolks.

B12 500 mcg daily or several times per week

Choline Not necessary if you eat enough egg yolks and liver
But extremely important during pregnancy, and safe
Iron (optional)

Iron About 30% of pregnant women develop iron deficiency anemia. Don’t guess, test; blood tests will indicate if you need iron supplements

Recovery Supplement Regime

If you are recovering from a major illness, try this regime. I used it to recover from a bad allergic reaction my joints had to the black box antibiotic “Cipro” successfuly:

Morning:

  • Milk Thistle, artichoke extract, dandelion root (liver detox/bile stimulants)
  • 1/2 Multivitamin or B12 (if tested low)
  • Zinc 30mg (detox)
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine & Alpha Lipoic Acid, 650 mg (nerves)
  • MSM Glucosamine Chondroitin (joints)
  • Spray Magnesium Chloride (magnesium oil) on joints (joints)
  • Omega3 Fish Oil 600mg (400/200)
  • Vitamin D3 5000UI (Antioxidant, every other day)
  • Absorbable CoQ10 (Antioxidant)
  • Probiotics
  • NAC (Antioxidant)
  • Iron (only if tested low) + Vitamin C
  • Eggs (protein, amino acids)

Afternoon:

  • Blueberries (antioxidant)
  • Almonds and Brazil Nuts (Magnesium, Vitamin E)
  • Kiwis, tomatoes, and other fruit
  • Beet Juice, Carrot Juice (Liver Detox)
  • Red Meat (Protein, Iron, Amino Acids)
  • Antioxidant Extracts (Grape seed)
  • Fiber (Oatmeal or Fiber Mix)

Evening:

  • White Tea (antioxidant)
  • 250mg Magnesium Chelate or Liquid Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Chloride (joints, detox)
  • Sub lingual B6 50mg (for magnesium absorption)
  • Omega3 Fish Oil 600mg
  • Chelated Boron 3mg
  • Iodine (thyroid stimulant if thyroid levels low)
  • Vitamin E 400UI + Selenium (every other day, Antioxidant)
  • Soy Lecithin (Liver/Kidney/Nerve protection)
  • Collagen Type 2 (joints)
  • SAMe (joints, mood)
  • Beta Glucan (immune)
  • Vitamin C (as Calcium Ascorbate) – Joints, Antioxidant
  • MSM Glucosamine Chondroitin (joints)

Weekly:

  • 12 hour bone stock with vinegar or Vietnamese Pho
  • Tons of water
  • Lots of Sleep

Others:

  • GSH
  • DGL (digestion)
  • Essential Enzymes (digestion)
  • Reverse Osmosis Water
  • Taurine, Glutamine (amino acids)

Eating Well

Choosing what we eat is a great opportunity for developing will power, social consciousness, and setting up ourselves for a long and healthy life.

It’s not easy to understand what to eat in a world full of opinion wonder diets and ever-shifting scientific recommendation.

Being a foodie and a home cook, I’ve slowly refined my diet over time to semi-healthy unprocessed foods but was never able to get to a weight I was happy with. I have a genetic disposition for high-cholesterol, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease. Sugar and bread were things I could not give up easily.

When stumbled upon the “Perfect Health Diet” and things finally clicked. All the pieces of food wisdom I had picked up through different sources where finally together in a holistic lifestyle that made scientific, evolutionary, and common sense.

Yes, I had to finally give up wheat and sugar, but I got to keep things like rice, potatoes and that kept me satisfied.

Watch this for an overview of the theory behind the diet and why it works:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=gLwzoolfXQE?list=PLbhWKPDKXIEAhNzG0GiCw7jE59KS6WH5w

Building Habits

Our daily routines consist of habits formed over time, both good and bad.

We all want to change our bad behaviors and adopt good ones. What’s the most effective way? According to the “Tiny Habits” method by BJ Fog:

  1. Get specific, write down or note mentally the habit you want to change or adopt. Try to do it after a morning/evening routine you already do.

After I have my morning coffee, I will do two pushups.”

  1. Make it easy – break down the behavior into really tiny steps (two push ups, floss one tooth). Take one step at a time to start.
  2. “High-five” yourself mentally immediately after taking the tiny step to re-enforce the behavior.
  3. Observe yourself for triggers for the habit, and try to catch them mentally to trigger the good behavior or stop the bad one.

Being Happy

As human beings, our ultimate goal should be to maximize our happiness and live in harmony with each other and our environment.

Recent studies have shown that the qualities that increase lasting happiness in humans are:

  • Living in a supportive group of friends and family (having a tribe).
  • Having enough material wealth so food and shelter are not a daily struggle (a middle-class income).
  • Having health and education.
  • Working in “Flow” – getting lost in doing what you love while adding value to society.
  • Having a good work/life balance, short commutes, adequate leisure time, and low stress.
  • Traveling and having new experiences in new cultures.
  • Being respected by peers.
  • Helping people in need in the community, and in humanity as a whole.
  • Getting sun, fresh air, and regular exercise. Laughing.
  • Being grounded in spirituality, culture, or religion of some kinds.
  • Getting mental stimulation, meditation, and quality sleep.
  • Being grateful and savoring the moments of life.
  • Getting married, mating and having a child.
  • Eating good quality natural foods – including grass-fed proteins, seafood and organic fruits and vegetables.

This all makes sense given our biological evolution. Now, contrast that with modern society and what it incentivizes us to do:

  • Chasing elusive material wealth, while never being satisfied with how much we have.
  • Putting an emphasis on status, symbol, competition and power.
  • Spending most of our energy commuting to and working for large institutions, working long hours indoors.
  • Struggling to get adequate education, shelter, free time and health care due to high costs.
  • Going through a mediocre educational system in order to fit the mold, instead of thinking critically and creatively.
  • Spending our mental energy stressing because of financial responsibilities, and lacking quality sleep.
  • Buying products and services that we think will make us happy, but only satisfy us temporarily.
  • Being bombarded by negative corporate news, mindless infotainment, and violent media.
  • Living in relative isolation even in dense cities, distant from family and friends, lacking community and support.
  • Moving from partner to partner without commitment, and delaying creating a family.
  • Seeking refuge in alcohol, drugs, and media to escape reality.
  • Losing spiritual connections and forgetting to “slow down” to appreciate life and have gratitude.
  • Taking an unfair amount of resources from others, which creating war and poverty through institutionalized greed.
  • Polluting our environment, and living in traffic jammed cities.
  • Having health problems due lack of physical exercise and a diet full of processed foods.
  • It’s easy to see that we need to change our path if we expect to really call ourselves a “happy” civilized society.

Industrial and technological progress in the last century has lifted many out of poverty and brought a new standard of living to the world. However, this “progress” is responsible for creating many new environmental, social, and mental problems for our species. Before time runs out and millions more join the race towards unhappiness, we must re-imagine society and work towards a more sustainable trajectory for human beings.