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Holding Your Breath

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Grit is not just simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest, and do it again and again.” 

– Sarah Lewis

Good morning!

Did you know that reading increases your lifespan? Researchers at Yale asked 3,635 participants over 50 years-old about their reading habits. They analyzed the data and followed up 12 years later. People who read over 3.5 hours a week lived a full 23 months longer than the people who didn’t read at all. Based on that data, researchers expect that my wife, who reads over 100 books per year, will live forever. She said she doesn’t want to. 

– Mike & Alec

Holding Your Breath

How long can you hold your breath? 

The world record is 24 minutes and 3 seconds.

But I’m only asking this question metaphorically. Much like we get a nearly undeniable urge to inhale after 30-90 seconds of denying our lungs, we also get an overwhelming urge to quit after pursuing a passion with too little progress.

It feels like we’re out of air. 

And yet, the instinct to inhale isn’t triggered by a lack of oxygen, but by a buildup of carbon dioxide. Our bodies can’t even measure oxygen levels and so they opt for measuring the opposite, assuming that if carbon dioxide levels are high, we must be in grave danger. 

But even the average person can increase their breath holding time to 5 minutes with some practice. 

It’s not that you can’t hold your breath. 

It’s not that you aren’t making progress. 

It’s just an instinct — a knee jerk reaction — triggered by fear that you might not succeed, that you might be wasting your time. 

I recently overheard two people in a coffee shop discussing a new business they were going to build. At one point, one of them said, “And we’ve got nothing to lose. We just try it out for three months and see how it goes.” I chuckled to myself. Three months isn’t enough time to gain meaningful ground on any pursuit.

This is how we typically think about our pursuits… not in terms of decades or lifetimes, but in terms of months or years.

But the person who can “hold their breath” long enough to see the fruit of their labors — which, as a good friend of mine recently said, is “always longer and harder than you expect” — is the one who will emerge to the surface victorious. 

Here are some ways to increase your breath holding time.  

Work With a Partner — I used to try things on my own because I figured depending on someone else was a recipe for disaster. But I’ve now found the opposite to be true. When we do something alone, it’s much easier to quit. I currently have three different businesses… and all of them have a business partner. 

Don’t Make a Major Decision in a Valley — This is a rule I never break… perhaps the most important rule in my life. Because I have a fair amount of “down seasons”. But when I’m in those seasons, I know I’m not allowed to make major decisions. Which means my lowest mode of being is at least maintaining the things I’ve got going. 

Accept The Possibility Of Failure — What you’re doing might fail… by that I mean that it might not pan out how you originally intended. We often quit because we’re afraid of the possibility of failure and it’s less embarrassing to quit than it is to fail. But once you accept that you can give something your all and it still might not work out… you steal this fear of its power.

Believe in The Power of Time — Time is the most powerful contributor to success. I’m never the smartest person in the room… or even the most hard working… but I’m determined to be the most resilient. And that resilience (I’ve found) pays off big. 

More Money More Happy

Does money buy happiness? 

It depends on how you spend it. 

And here are 6 ways, according to Greater Good Magazine, that you can get more happiness from your money…

1. Spend money on experiences“In a landmark study in 2003, researchers found that buying experiences—like seeing a Broadway play or going for coffee with a friend—improve our well-being more than buying possessions.”

2. Better yet, spend money on experiences you share with others“In a 2013 study, when researchers separated out experiential purchases into social ones and solitary ones—going out to dinner with friends or alone, for example—participants reported that the solitary experiences brought just as little happiness as the material things.”

3. Spend money on other people“In a 2008 study, researchers gave participants up to $20 to spend on themselves or on others that same day, then called after 5 pm to see how they were feeling. In the end, contrary to expectations, participants reported being happier after treating others than treating themselves.”

4. Spend money on the right people“In a 2011 study, participants who recalled spending $20 on someone close to them reported feeling more positive emotion than those who recalled spending $20 on an acquaintance.”

5. Express your identity through spending“A 2016 study specifically tested whether personality influences the happiness we get from our purchases, analyzing six months’ worth of spending by customers of a UK bank. Purchases were grouped into 59 categories, from gardening to coffee shops, accounting to dentists, which each got a Big Five personality score… Participants with a better match between their personality and the personality of their purchases reported more satisfaction with life.”

6. Think less about spending“Just this year, a new study found that people who valued time over money tended to be more satisfied with their lives in general and felt more positive and less negative emotions recently.”

Image of The Week

Via Reddit

This Week’s Riddle

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

Where do you take a sick boat?

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

What if the fear that makes you quit too early? How can you face that fear in the future? 

This Week’s Challenge

Don’t make a major decision in a valley. You might be in a valley right now. You might enter a valley this week. Or maybe this month. Decide now that the valley is not the place for decisions. And remember this rule when you’re in it. 

Riddle Answer: To the dock-tor. Ooph. That was rough. Sorry for the cringe.

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