Greetings, one and all.
Welcome back to the annual vortex known as the week between Christmas and New Years. Yes, another 365 days gone. POOF! Au revoir, 2018.
Thanks to my most successful life hack of the year—walking everywhere whilst listening to books on Audible—I'm all the wiser for consuming over 40 books, a personal best.
You know how rigorous exercise increases your appetite? I think the mental workout produced similar results for my mind. My brain developed a ravenous appetite for information.
In light of this, we’re flipping the script for this week’s email. No lab reports and academic articles for once.
We thought we’d wind down the holidays with three simple book recommendations.
Call it an excuse to stay curled up by the fireplace in the name of personal development.
I've sifted through my reading list and picked a favourite on each subject: nutrition, neuroscience, and psychology.
In my view, these are all worthy of your complete attention. They fall in the “read immediately, buy a dozen copies, and give them all away because they’re really that good” category.
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
🥑 FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Optimum Nutrition For The Mind by Patrick Holford.
First of all, Patrick’s list of achievements makes Forrest Gump look lazy. It runs for miles and miles. With over 37 books in 30 languages and dozens of accolades, Patrick is a global authority on health and nutrition.
He’s dedicated his life to exploring nutrition’s role in mental and physical wellness. Not one to skip a beat, he’s currently working with Oxford University to defeat Alzheimer’s through preventative healthcare.
Talk about the definition of an overachiever.
I've read a few of his books but Optimum Nutrition For the Mind impacted me most, and here's why.
Eighteen months ago I laid down my carnivorous lifestyle and decided to give the vegan diet a go.
Nine months in, my short-term memory started to wane. If people asked me what I got up to over the weekend, my brain floundered like I was suffering from early-onset dementia. No thanks, vegan diet.
I hit up Patrick's book. It highlighted the sharp side effects of eliminating fish and eggs from one's diet and pointed out how supplements influence brain health.
I followed his guidance and took immediate action and switched to what he does: 90% plant-based and 10% fish and eggs.
Within 2 weeks, I was back to normal. Now I pay close attention to my brain’s dietary needs and I have never felt sharper. The book was a game-changer for me.
(Bonus fun fact: After months of waiting for time to free up, Patrick has agreed to join Dawn as an advisor. More Brain Food all around in 2019.)
First things first: I’m aware that respecting a book by this controversial Canadian psychologist is potentially a one-way ticket to Argument City, especially with Lefties like me. I’m perfectly okay with that.
If you’re unfamiliar with the author, skip the online gossip binge and get sucked into this book before you make up your mind about Dr. Peterson.
In 12 Rules For Life, he powerfully explains how personal responsibility doesn’t have to be at odds with contributing to society and supporting your community.
He offers his perspective as a clinical psychologist and professor. Then he peppers every argument with careful language and draws on biology, science, history, and religion to back up each rule.
He may not be right about everything—the internet is swarming with Peterson haters—but his underlying intention to make the world a better place is commendable. Either way, you are guaranteed to learn something new about yourself and society.
Sure, his bold style isn’t for everyone but his labour of love is praiseworthy.
It’s no wonder he's the best-selling author on the planet in 2018.
☔ MAKE IT BRAIN
Lost Connections by Johan Hari.
This superb book had serious competition but after careful consideration, Lost Connections is this year’s winner.
In his powerful book, Johan Hari challenges depression’s conventional status as a condition due entirely to hijacked brain chemistry.
He intelligently questions traditional assumptions and sheds new light on treatment.
It’s one of the most meaningful books I’ve ever read. I could rave for hours but this is supposed to be a brief email so I’ll rein it in.
Just do yourself a favour and read it if you haven’t already. Get outside your head. Run around in nature. Put down your phone and look someone in the eye.
Connect #IRL. (In real life, for those of you that actually do it the right way and therefore won't know what that hashtag means).
I can’t think of a better book to set the tone for 2019.
A few final words
2018 was a year of epic highs and lows. It’s taken more than a few excellent books to cross the finish line alive and well.
Earlier this year, my best friend Joel and I shut down a company we founded together.
It meant letting go of people we loved. It meant starting again from ground zero.
It meant digging deep to figure out where it went wrong and deeply connecting on what we do right.
Ever since my father passed away a few years ago, I've been combing the depths of the wellness industry to pinpoint what “optimal health” really is and figure out how to get it.
So when things went south for us, the first order of business was to support one another and look after our mental state. We prioritized reducing stress, self-pity, and disappointment.
Instead, we focused on the future. Diets, supplements, books, workouts, and community—we tried it all.
And with the help of some extraordinary people, we’ve landed on our feet and had some epiphanies about what it means to optimize human potential. We’re humbled and full of gratitude to be on this new path.
So paying it forward is now our full-time job: Developing a brand that feeds the brain, in more ways than one.
We've identified 4 key pillars.
Thank you for engaging with our content and being the first to join our community.
We can’t wait to share more of our hard work with you in 2019.
So cheers to you. We’re honoured you’re along for the ride.
Dan (& Joel)
PS: A Simple Hack To Start Your Year Off Right
To end the year well, here's a scientifically-backed exercise to hack your own psychology.
At the end of each day, write down 3 things that went well.
This simple practice comes from Martin Seligman (a.k.a. Father of Positive Psychology.)
People have studied the effects of this simple practice for many years and it makes a huge impact on well-being. We hope it brings you positivity as you roll into 2019.
P.P.S. Specific gratitude to all our community members who've emailed feedback. Your messages don't bounce into a black hole. We take all feedback into consideration each week. Your thoughts help us reach our potential and maximize our effort. We owe you bottomless champagne and chia seeds at midnight. The more the merrier - keep it coming 🥂
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