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Afghanistan, Willpower, & Real Estate Investing

By: Michael Blankenship |

“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.”

― Mizuta Masahide

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we discuss strategies for increasing everyday willpower, news in Afghanistan, the importance of breathing through your nose instead of your mouth, and real estate investing business models (for any budget). 

Our challenge is for you to reach out to three people and tell them something that you authentically appreciate about them.


With the results of the infamous “marshmallow experiment” in the 1960s, willpower (or as James Clear calls it, “delayed gratification”) took its place as one of the cornerstones to living a successful life. 

(Marshmallow experiment: researchers tested the willpower of 5-year-olds and then followed those children well into adulthood — the “high delayers” achieved “greater academic success, better health, and lower rates of marital separation and divorce.”)

Another study tracked 1,000 children from birth to the age of 32 and found that “childhood self-control predicted physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offenses.”

The question, then, is… how do we increase our willpower and ability to delay gratification? 

Here are some ideas from experts… 

  • Advice From James Clear 
    • Start incredibly small. Make your new habit “so easy you can’t say no.”
    • Improve one thing, by one percent. Do it again tomorrow.
    • Find a way to get started in less than 2 minutes.
  • Advice From Denise Cummins Ph.D. (Psychology Today)
    • Don’t keep yourself in a constant state of willpower depletion.
    • Build good habits; you’ll need them when you’re stressed.
    • Be yourself. It takes an enormous amount of effort to suppress your normal personality, preferences, and behaviors. Not surprisingly, doing so depletes willpower.
  • Advice From Nir Eyal (Harvard Business Review)
    • “By listening to our lack of willpower as we would an emotion — as a helpful decision-making assistant working in concert with our logical capabilities — we can find new paths that may not require us to do things we fundamentally don’t want to do.”


20 years ago, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to fight a war on terror — the alleged goal was to root out and topple the Taliban regime. 

Recently, the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, hoping to end the war and allow Afghanistan to stand on its own two feet — but within just 11 days, the Taliban had regained control. 

It was a sudden and controversial move by the Biden administration that had unexpected repercussions. 

If you want to stay informed about what’s happening, here’s an article from USA Today that’ll give you more details.

Breathing Fast & Slow

In Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, James Nestor wrote, 

“Prayer heals, especially when it’s practiced at 5.5 breaths a minute.”

His book presents compelling evidence that the way we breathe — through our nose or mouth — and how quickly we breathe — slow or fast — has a massive impact on physical and mental health.

For example…

“The right nostril is a gas pedal. When you’re inhaling primarily through this channel, circulation speeds up, your body gets hotter, and cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate all increase. This happens because breathing through the right side of the nose activates the sympathetic nervous system, the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that puts the body in a more elevated state of alertness and readiness.”


“The left nostril is more deeply connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest-and-relax side that lowers blood pressure, cools the body, and reduces anxiety. Left-nostril breathing shifts blood flow to the opposite side of the prefrontal cortex, to the area that influences creative thought and plays a role in the formation of mental abstractions and the production of negative emotions.”

He also explains that we should always be breathing through our nose and rarely (or never) breathe through our mouths — in fact, the repercussions of breathing wrong (“mouth breathing”) can be detrimental to our health. 

Those are some big claims, and to be convinced, you’ll likely need to read the book yourself. Or you can check out Lewis Howes’ interview with James Nestor — it’s over an hour long but it’s well worth the watch (or listen) if you want to learn more about this. 

Real Estate Investing

It’s often been said that real estate investing makes more millionaires per year than any other method. 

And while that’s difficult to prove (investing portfolios are much more complicated then, “Look! Real estate!”), it is true that real estate is a great place to invest money and build wealth — people are always going to need somewhere to live. 

Of course, easier said than done… right? 

Not necessarily. 

There are many different real estate investing business models for many different experience levels and budgets. Here are some of the primary ones organized from lowest to highest starting budget — click the links for free guides. 

This Week’s Photo

David Dee Delgado / Getty

“Sabrina Davi poses for photos in Battery Park during Tropical Storm Henri on August 22, 2021, in New York City.” via The Atlantic

Extra Stuff

Here are some other articles that caught our attention this week. 

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle! Answer is at the bottom of the email. 

What word contains 26 letters but only has three syllables?

This Week’s Challenge

In the midst of life, it’s easy to forget about all the wonderful reasons we have to be grateful. So this week, let’s take a step back and tell three people something that we authentically appreciate about them — it could be their smile, their sense of humor, their work ethic, etc. 

Until next week!

Mike & Alec

Answer: Alphabet

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