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Happy Notes, Good Choices, & Movement

By: Michael Blankenship |

“We cannot solve problems with the kind of thinking we employed when we came up with them.”

– Albert Einstein

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we’re sharing the top 10 most inspiring songs of the last 50 years (according to science), some advice for making good decisions, and the importance of moving every single day. 

Oh — and drum roll please — we’ve got swag!


Feel Good, Look Good

We’ve been sending emails every Tuesday for the last year and a half. Hopefully, as a reader of The Tonic, you’ve been sometimes inspired, motivated, and challenged by these emails. 

Something we’ve always wanted to do was create swag for our brand. We see it as a way for those of you who love our emails to represent our brand as well as your own personal commitment to growth. And… we’ve done it! 

We’ve got hats, journals, mugs, and water bottles. 

Go check ‘em out and be one of the first people to show your support for what we’re doing here at The Tonic. 💖

By the way, we’re currently only able to ship to the U.S. We’re working on changing that and will let you know once we can ship internationally 🙂 

Happy Notes

Some songs are special. 

They contain some bit of magic that makes them actually inspirational — not just in a frivolous sense, but in a real, tangible, and testable way.

We don’t know why they’re special… or why they motivate and inspire us… but we can feel it. 

And back in 2015, one cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Jacob Jolij from the University of Groningen in Holland, set out to identify, scientifically, the top 10 most inspiring songs of the last 50 years. 

He explains… 

“A feel good song is very personal. Music is intimately linked with memory and emotion, and these associations strongly determine whether a song will put you in a good mood or not.

Holiday-themed lyrics naturally remind us of happy times, while a major third musical key sounds happy to our ears and something we associate with confidence.

A high tempo of 150 beats per minute also subconsciously triggers a sense of energy.

Combine these three ingredients together and you have the formula for the perfect ‘feel-good’ song.”

So… what songs won the race? 

These were his top 10 picks. 

  1. “Don’t Stop Me Now” By Queen (1978)
  2. “Dancing Queen” By ABBA (1976)
  3. “Good Vibrations” By The Beach Boys (1966)
  4. “Uptown Girl” By Billy Joel (1983)
  5. “Eye Of The Tiger” By Survivor (1982)
  6. “I’m A Believer” By The Monkees (1966)
  7. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” By Cyndi Lauper (1983)
  8. “Living On A Prayer” By Bon Jovi (1986)
  9. “I Will Survive” By Gloria Gaynor (1978)
  10. “Walking On Sunshine” By Katrina & The Waves (1985)

Okay. So we’re not entirely sure how he came up with his results. 

But these songs are inspiring. Click the links if you need some morning inspiration and motivation — and/or bookmark them for a rainy day. 

Good Choices

Yeonmi Park escaped North Korea at 13 years old, revealing much of the horror that exists under the Kim family’s hereditary dictatorship.

During her interview with Joe Rogan — which is well worth listening to in its entirety, by the way — she mentions how hard it was to make decisions when she arrived in the U.S. 

In North Korea, all she worried about was survival and where she might be able to get her next meal, always starving. But once she arrived in the U.S. and her needs were met, she found the process of making decisions — big and small — exhausting

Even going to the grocery store and choosing what to buy was overwhelming. 

This emphasizes something that we rarely think about as citizens living in developed countries: we’re blessed to make decisions for ourselves… but those decisions are also taxing. 

And making good decisions isn’t perhaps always as easy as it might seem. 

Good news, though. 

Mark Manson has five principles for making better life decisions. Here they are, abbreviated…

Understand Value & Biases — “The sweet spot in decision-making is to find the short-term failures that enable the huge long-term successes to happen in the first place. Because this is what most people are bad at. And because people are bad at it, this is where most of the opportunity lies…”

Lose on Purpose (Sometimes) — “Most people look at each decision as a single roll of the dice. They don’t think about the fact that life is a never-ending sequence of dice rolls. And a strategy that loses a lot per roll can actually make you a big winner in the long run.”

Treat Your Emotions Like You’d Treat a Dog — “Our emotions are important. But they’re also kind of dumb. They’re not able to think through consequences or consider multiple factors when acting.”

Optimize Your Life For Fewest Regrets — “Instead of basing your decisions around success/failure, or happiness/pain, base them around regret avoidance. Our regrets are usually the best measurement of what is actually valuable to us in the long-run.”

Write Shit Down — “The act of writing forces you to organize and make concrete all the emotional turbulence swirling around in your brain. Vague feelings become structured and measured.  Your self-contradictions are laid bare. Rereading what you write reveals your own logic (or lack thereof). And it often reveals new perspectives you hadn’t considered.”

I Like To Move It, Move It…

Movement is important for a happy and healthy life. 

We’re not meant to sit around for too long — the mind, body, and spirit are all connected in a synergistic way, each impacting the others. 

But… just how much should you move? 

And what are the actual benefits? 

A new study found that increasing daily steps from 4,000 to 8,000 is associated with a 51% lower risk for all-cause mortality (“death from all causes”), and taking 12,000 steps per day was associated with a 65% lower risk. 

Interestingly, “the authors saw no association between step intensity and risk of death after accounting for the total number of steps taken per day.”

In other words, you don’t need to exercise hard to be healthier and live longer. 

Just go for a walk. 

And go for a walk again tomorrow. 

It’s easy to get caught up in an all-or-nothing mentality — but the truth is that more movement is what most of us need. 

Whether it’s 10 minutes more per day. Or an hour. 

More is more.

Extra Stuff

Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!

Books We’re Reading

Here’s what the tribe is currently reading (let us know books you’re loving and we’ll include them in future emails!)…. 

  • The Mutant Project by Eben Kirksey“Eben Kirksey takes us on a groundbreaking journey to meet the key scientists, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs who are bringing cutting-edge genetic engineering tools like CRISPR―created by Nobel Prize-winning biochemists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier―to your local clinic. He also ventures beyond the scientific echo chamber, talking to disabled scholars, doctors, hackers, chronically-ill patients, and activists who have alternative visions of a genetically modified future for humanity.”
  • A World of Three Zeros by Muhammad Yunus“Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist who invented microcredit, founded Grameen Bank, and earned a Nobel Prize for his work in alleviating poverty, is one of today’s most trenchant social critics. In his latest book, he declares it’s time to admit that the capitalist engine is broken–that in its current form it inevitably leads to rampant inequality, massive unemployment, and environmental destruction. To save humankind and the planet, we need a new economic system based on a more realistic vision of human nature–one that recognizes altruism and generosity as driving forces that are just as fundamental and powerful as self-interest.”
  • The Physics Of Wall Street by James Owen Weatherall“The problem isn’t simply that economic models have limitations and can break down under certain conditions, but that at the time of the meltdown those models were in the hands of people who either didn’t understand their purpose or didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science. However, Weatherall argues that the solution is not to give up on the models but to make them better. Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.”

This Week’s Image

“Lau Florit trains his horse for the Sant Joan Festivity in Ciutadella, Spain, on June 22, 2022.” via The Atlantic

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

I come from a mine and get surrounded by wood always. Everyone uses me. What am I? 

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

What emotions are you feeling right? Why do you feel that way? Do you want to feel that way? Do you NEED to feel that way? Take some time to answer those questions on a piece of paper. 

This Week’s Challenge

Walk! If you’re not already leading an active life, start walking every day. Just do 10 minutes. Then increase that as you’d like. Even a little bit of daily movement will go a long way toward making you happier and healthier. 

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: Pencil lead.

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