How to stop buying into bullshit

I don’t eat before 3pm. It’s a strategy called “intermittent fasting,” and I do it every day.

There are a lot of reasons for intermittent fasting (many relating to body composition and hormone normalization), but for me, as an insulin-dependent diabetic, it also results in fantastic blood sugar stability. I don’t have to figure out how what I eat will affect my blood sugar because I’m not eating. And, as a bonus, not stopping to eat allows me to work through the most productive part of my day without being distracted.

But there’s one other reason I fast, and one other reason I like doing it.

It gives me the opportunity to make a difficult and unpopular choice.

The problem is choice

Humans — and Americans in particular — just won’t shut the fuck up about choice. Give us more options! More channels! More colors! More open hours and more variety of inventory! Give us more service levels, more ways to connect! And we’ll get bitchy about it, too. It’s our right to have choice! Don’t you dare try and take our choice away! This is why Wal-Mart thrives. It’s hard to resist a store that has everything, for cheap, and is always open.

We devour choices. We want more, and more, and more, and more. If we can’t currently do or have something, it only increases our desire to do or have it.

And so, responding to both market demand and their own sense of wanting more choices, people innovate. They create something new, crack a code, solve a mystery… and once they’ve solved it, that becomes one more choice that’s available to everyone.

You didn’t used to be able to split atoms to create electric power. Now you can.

You didn’t used to be able to get in touch with anyone, anywhere, anytime and from anywhere, for dirt cheap. Now you can.

You didn’t used to be able to sit on the couch and be entertained nonstop, for days and weeks on end, while pizza was delivered right to your door. You didn’t used to be able to get so much great-tasting (but nutritionally deadly) food for so cheap, so fast. You didn’t used to be able to conduct your life without any physical exertion.

But now you can.

We’ve got all the choice in the world nowadays, and the buffet of choices available to us is only expanding.

We can choose whatever we want, whenever we want it.

And we’re choosing such stupid, stupid shit.

Dig your own grave

You’re poor. You have zero prospects. You’re having trouble finding enough money to survive, literally. Your kids are starving. Maybe your spouse has medical issues you can’t afford to treat.

And some guy in a red suit (who may or may not be George Burns) comes up to you and says, “Okay. I’ll give you more than enough money to be set forever. All you need to do is to use a hatchet to cut off one of your fingers.”

Maybe you take it. Maybe you don’t. If you decline the offer, you’re taking the risk that your whole family will die in the gutter. If you accept it, you’re going to have to do something extraordinarily unpleasant.

But the mental fuckery is where this scenario really hurts.

If you take the offer, as you’re wielding the hatchet, you’ll be wondering if there was another way out. Could you have found a job? Could you have gotten an inheritance? Could you have written a blockbuster book while you were homeless, like J.K. Rowling did?

But if you decline the offer, if your kids start to get sick, you’ll wonder if you should have taken it. How bad could it have been? One quick strike and it’s over, and then you’re set forever. You might feel guilty, like you chose your own comfort over them. You’ll feel selfish, and cowardly.

Ironically, the only scenario where there’s no regret and no real downside is to have not been given the choice at all.

Today, tempting choices are everywhere. Some improve our lives, but many are slowly killing us. And sometimes we’ll wish that we’d never been given the option.

It was a lot easier to exercise when there was no choice, when you had to walk from one place to another, hunt the deer, build your house, split the wood for the fire. Now, you can choose to do none of that, and you can eat every meal at McDonald’s for dirt cheap.

It was a lot easier to get kids to read when there were no video games or TV.

It was a lot easier to experience quiet and calm when you couldn’t be called anywhere 24/7, when you couldn’t pull your phone out of your pocket five times every hour to check email or Twitter or Facebook.

It was a lot easier to disappear for a while when it was still possible to get lost.

Maybe sometimes, when your phone is ringing over and over, when the traffic is at its worst, when you feel like a video zombie and your kids won’t stop bothering you about the latest fad that seems to be advertised around the clock, maybe in a few of those moments you kind of wish you’d lived back in the “good old days” that your grandparents are always pining for.

But really, we could still do things the hard way — the “good old days” way — even now.

We could raise our own livestock and grow our own plants. We could live without TV or any other kind of screen. We could eschew all cellular phones. We could even be Amish, and not even use electricity or drive cars.

But we’d have to choose to do it. We’d have to know what was available in terms of convenience and pleasure and hedonism and instant gratification… and we’d have to turn our backs on it, willfully and deliberately. And that’s very, very hard.

Now: Am I saying we should be Amish, that the modern world is bad and evil? Not at all.

I have a smartphone and an iPad. I wouldn’t be alive without the healthcare advances that make my diabetes a mere inconvenience. Sometimes I check my email too often, but I’m still glad to have it, to have the internet at my fingers.

But there has to be a line somewhere, and nobody knows where it is.

My generation is the first to have a lower standard of living than our parents’, because we spend so much more than we make. My kids’ generation is the first that’s expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents’, because they eat like hell and don’t move much. Most people don’t enjoy what they do all day. Depression is high. Alienation is high. Health is low. All because of things we’re choosing to do — things we never had the option to do until only recently.

It’s as if someone handed us a gun and said, “Use this if you’d like to take away your pain.”

But we didn’t realize it was a gun. We thought it was ice cream.

Progress

Humans are good at persistent curiosity. Give us enough time, and we’ll figure out how to do almost anything.

Not that long ago, the idea of human flight was ridiculous. Unthinkable. But people kept at it, and today you can get from New York to London in an afternoon, while being served pretzels and charged excessive baggage fees.

It wasn’t that long ago that we learned DNA even existed, but once we did, it took no time to start moving things around to create disease-resistant crops and smart bacteria that would do our bidding. You can even have your pets cloned. Got a great dog and want to have him forever? You can. You just have to start over after each lifetime ends… unless you’d like to have two of him at once, which I suppose you could do too.

Today, billions of dollars are going into figuring out how to interface electronic circuits with human brains. Ostensibly it’s about solving medical issues, like helping paralyzed people walk, but you know the commercial sector sees the promise there, too. What if you could operate your TV or your computer with your mind? What if you could drive a car truly hands-free? What if you could call Frank simply by thinking at him?

I figure teleportation is right around the corner. Pretty soon everywhere will be just a few steps away. Going from New York to London will take seconds. It’ll be awesome. We’ll be able to attend every event and will never be able to back out. So what if your boss’s daughter’s bridal shower is at the same time as your kid’s Christmas play? Just pop over for ten minutes. And if the office needs you for a half hour in the middle of your honeymoon, no big deal, because it’s so easy.

I don’t want to have some of these options.

I like that I have the best reason of all (“It’s not possible”) for not doing certain things I don’t want to do. I like that I won’t have to decide whether to accept some Faustian bargains because they can’t currently be made.

Keep my avenues closed. Restrict my options. Tell me what to do. It’s cool to be forced to do something, at a certain point.

But Pandora’s Xbox can’t be closed once it’s open. Once a choice is out there, it’s out there. Nobody’s going to deny you that option. Except for you.

We as a culture seem to say, “We can do that? Awesome! Add it to my inventory of options. Choice is good.”

But it’s time to stop being choice whores. It’s time to stop doing things just because we can.

Opt out

For a while there, Burger King was giving out free cinnamon rolls with every order. It’s as if they were trying to fatten up their customers. Like they were being instructed by their alien overlords to get us ready for a bloody harvest.

Most people took the cinnamon rolls and ate them. And why not? They were free. They smelled and tasted good. The fact that it was an unwise choice didn’t cross most people’s minds.

But it can cross yours.

You can look at something that’s available, and free, and easy, and enticing, and decide to let it go if it doesn’t suit you. You can opt out. People will think you’re nuts if you do this. “But they’re free,” they’ll will say, as if that’s all that matters.

It’s not all that matters. We need to stop living by default and start paying some fucking attention.

Start to look for things that are freely and easily available to you right now, but that you might do better without.

Maybe you check your smartphone too much but you don’t want to get rid of it. So, turn off the 3G or 4G connectivity and use it only when you’re near a wi-fi signal. Now… it’ll be tempting to cheat. You could easily turn it back on and surf Facebook from the beach, and it wouldn’t cost you a cent. But resist the urge.

There are programs that will block internet access from your computer for whatever time periods you set. If you spend too much time online, get one and use it. The only way to break through and get your access back would be to re-boot… and you could, and that would let you IM with your buddy in Seattle about nothing and Tweet about that sandwich you just ate. But don’t. Have some restraint.

Get rid of those fucking donuts and cigarettes. They’re free to keep, but just because something is available doesn’t mean you should say yes to it.

You’ve got nonstop entertainment on TV, but if your family dynamic is suffering, turn it off.

You paid for that giant plate of onion rings, but if you’re full, stop.

There’s an elevator in your building, but if you’re trying to get into better shape, don’t use it.

You’re opting out of something that has been offered to you when you do these things, and people will think it’s nuts.

But it’s there! they’ll say. But it’s free!

One day, someone’s going to offer free arsenic with the Quarter Pounder meal and everyone’s going to eat it because hey, it’s free.

It’s time we stop acting like we need to “get our money’s worth” from everything, everywhere, all the time.

Try suffering

You’re being controlled.

Don’t worry; it’s human nature. We’re social animals, and conformity is baked into our cores, so don’t go feeling bad about being a puppet sometimes… but yeah, it’s true. Other people’s opinions and arguments are controlling some of what you do, say, and think.

You just need to figure out which parts they are. And that involves a bit of suffering.

Choosing to do something unpleasant is the only way to be sure you’re making a choice that is truly your own. Easy, pleasurable choices aren’t like that. Choices that feel good are the ones you can easily fall into, be funneled into, or be brainwashed into.

But the ugly decisions are all you.

Ever wonder why monks spend weeks at a time doing nothing but meditating or chanting?

Ever wonder why anyone would take a vow of silence?

Ever wonder why the minimalist movement is so strong today?

Ever wonder why people go off on vision quests, walkabouts, or become hermits who live in the woods?

Those are all choices to do something difficult and uncomfortable. They are all choices that go against the way the “normal” world operates, creating friction. They’re a way of saying, “Fuck you, world. I’m not going to participate in your bullshit.”

Political prisoners sometimes go on hunger strikes. To a lot of people, this looks dumb. Nobody is going to care if they starve themselves. But it’s not about anyone else caring. It’s about showing themselves that they can’t be owned. It’s Kunta Kinte refusing to say his name was Toby.

Personally, I fast every day because I’d rather eat Pop Tarts, and because Kellogg’s would rather I eat Pop Tarts. Kellogg’s has a lot of commercials showing me how great Pop Tarts are. They also show my kids how great they are. My kids watch those ads and ask for Pop Tarts.

I fast every day because I’d rather eat Pop Tarts, and because Kellogg’s would rather I eat Pop Tarts. And fuck Kellogg’s.

I fast every day because I choose to.

It’s my choice to make, and mine alone.

Deprive yourself

Look at how you’re living. Ask yourself if it could be better. Ask yourself if there are any voluntary but dumb things that are getting in between you and what you want, in between how you are and how you want to be.

Look at everything around you — what you do, how you think, what you consume, how you respond — as if it were a room filled with objects. Ask yourself if the room is too crowded. Ask yourself if you can move around, or if you feel walled in. Ask yourself if, in this room, you feel like you can breathe.

Your choices filled that room.

How many were truly your choices, and how many were made by default? Did you get a smartphone because “why not”? Did you take the cable TV package upgrade because it was only ten dollars more? Do you Supersize It as a knee-jerk reaction? Do you want that new gadget because you actually need and will use it, or because it’s “the newest whiz-bang version”? (You really need to ask this one if you had an iPad 2 and bought the new iPad to replace it.)

Are you going out tonight because others are going, and you figure “what the hell”?

Do you ever find yourself watching a TV show simply because you never turned off the TV when the previous show ended?

Do you take the cinnamon rolls because they’re free, or finish your huge meal because you paid for it and don’t want to “waste” it?

Now, at this point, I want to clarify something:

Eat the fucking rolls if you want. Seriously. Just don’t do it because they’re free. Do it because you want them.

Check your cell phone all the time if the urge strikes you. But don’t do it out of nervous habit, like a smoker twiddling his thumbs while waiting for a smoke break.

Make your own decisions, and know what you’re getting when you make them.

And if your decision-making muscle is weak, if you’re more often than not at the whim of the normal and the accepted? Then try some self denial, to build that muscle.

Not everything that is offered to you is something that you should accept. Get used to sitting in front of life’s buffet, picking and consciously choosing only the best of all that’s offered.

If you don’t, if you aren’t careful, you’ll be like diners at a Golden Corral, stuffing yourself with everything until you waddle out sick and disgusted.

Get used to being offered something, and saying no to it.

The world, more and more and more and more, is conspiring to give you exactly what you want.

Fight back.

Do something that sucks.


Comments

  1. Jerret says:

    Funny you wrote this. I’ve been denying myself stuff (mostly food) as a way to say, “you know, I am in charge of myself.” I don’t have to give in to animal instincts which, if you think about it, most of us do. We eat when we’re hungry. Sleep when we’re tired. Get mad when we’re angry.

    It’s nice to step back from the “normal” response and do the opposite or at least the unexpected.

    • Johnny says:

      Right, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with, for instance, eating when you’re hungry. But every once in a while you kind of want to say, “I’m steering this ship.”

  2. Dani says:

    I fucking loved this post. This is exactly what I strive for. No more auto-pilot just because small talk crap.

    No more opinions being the new facts.

    People don’t need to do what every one else tells them to do. Close your ears and only open them to the things YOU WANT.

    Stop sucking in the suckyness!

    Thanks for this post =)

  3. Thank you.

    That is all.

  4. Shane Arthur says:

    Do something that sucks, indeed — and find a way to love the suckery. Do that, and everything is golden.

  5. caroline says:

    I’ve found to it be extremely difficult to turn down free things. Not from my end, but from an “explaining it to the person you’re saying no to” perspective.

    “Do you want hash browns or home fries?”
    “Oh, um, neither.”
    “But they’re free.”
    “Yeah, but I won’t eat them.”
    “Well, but they come with the meal.”
    “Yeah, but I won’t… ah, forget it, hash browns.”

    It’s a really difficult concept to explain to someone, but sometimes I really don’t want your free shit.

    • People fight with me when I say I don’t want bread. I just have gotten very firm in my “no thanks!”

    • Johnny says:

      Ugh, I get this too. Because I eat Paleo and want low-GI foods for diabetes reasons, I don’t want breads/starches and sometimes they won’t substitute anything else. “Well, you could have rolls. Biscuits? Mashed potatoes?” And eventually like you say, I just end with, “Forget it.” But they’ll still try to hand it over anyway, because it’s free.

    • Hlynn says:

      I’ve found that the best comeback to “But they’re free” is “It’s not a bargain if it ends up in my body.”

  6. Love your attitude, voice, message — and I’m loving the bootcamp experience with you and Jon, too. So glad you entered my business life at what appears to be just the right time. I want to step up and out with you Johnny!

  7. Vickie says:

    Love your articles. You have the balls to say and ask what you want. A few.weeks ago I started doing that through social media to fund a kart racing team through the use of advertising sponsorship. I was surprised at the number of new followers within a few days. Now if a % of those would man up & sponsor the young adult, the team would thrive instead of struggling to compete without the best equipment. I’m actually amazed that few have taken advantage of such an economical advertising package that puts their comoopany in front of thousands each season. They made a bad choice! Pleaseoiirt continue to write, I am not offendede by your blunt communication.

  8. Ron Reagan says:

    Thanks for the meaningful post, worthy of the time to consume it. Now I’m digesting it, will determine if it has real nutritional value and advise later. Self discipline has never been my strong suit, but I just decided two + years ago to stop smoking and I did it without a great deal of the expected sturm und drang. Deliberate decision making to act in what one considers to be one’s OVERALL best interest is the key, in my opinion. Deliberately skip the cinammon roll today, realize it is in your overall best interest, remind yourself repeatedly of this truth and achieve some level of self satisfaction. And, yes, occasionally allow yourself a reward. You are such a good dog, yes you are..

    • Johnny says:

      Right. I don’t think it’s necessary to avoid indulgence… just not without thought!

  9. Tom Malcolm says:

    From War of Art by Pressfield, “…as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.”

  10. It’s hard when you choose something different. People think you are a freak (I am and I’ve learned to be very ok with it.) 😉
    I wonder why people don’t question more? We can’t change that I guess. But this blog post will sure go a long way to waking some people up.
    Great stuff, thanks Johnny!

  11. Emily Rose says:

    Johnny,

    This is all so true, and I have been saying “No.” to more and more options. I’ve done it off and on for many years with television, right now I don’t subscribe to any cable and watch only those shows i want on free Hulu, with an Ad blocker on. I stopped drinking vanilla coke because i got addicted to it (without realizing it). I uninstalled social networking from my phone. I don’t buy lots of stuff I “want” because I choose to live with less. I sell some things and donate more to charity, things I could use but choose not to. I have been whittling away at my piles of stuff and not eating various food choices for so long now I wonder why its so hard now to stop for those people who keep eating bad food, and I have to remember, it was hard for me to stop at first too.

    I really appreciate this reminder that making those choices was not easy and i am all the better for them.

    Thanks,
    -Emily Rose

    • Johnny says:

      The other day I drove through a McDonald’s (for the boy, not me, this time… but like I said, I’m far from perfect) and they had signs for this new burger. It wasn’t explained, and I was like, “What do these options mean? I don’t understand!” And that’s when it hit me: I don’t see commercials anymore because my only TV is Netflix and Hulu. I was totally ignorant of what was hot, what was being offered at McD’s, and what movies were playing. It was the awesomest revelation.

  12. Barry says:

    Learn to leave the crowd behind. You don’t have to drive 70 miles an hour in a 60 zone. Piss on the redneck in the pickup or sports car who roars by you in disgust.
    Practice being just a little fucking bit unique for a change. We are victims of very bad
    habits brought on by a ton of advertising affecting life style choices.
    Even the governments have many people believing the next lottery win is theirs. They just have to buy the ticket.
    Choose the hard choice,not the easy one. Anybody who has separated themselves from the crowd has suffered. They also have a vision, drive, tenacity, guts, and never,
    ever give up. I’m 3 years into teaching myself to make good websites, and still not even close. Slow learner? Damn right. Tough business? Ya, it is. Quitter? Never.
    Cheers.

  13. Johnny, great post as always! Your philosophy is right on and applies to any stage of life, even to those of us in the sunset years like me. But I have to add that, while learning, we may have to wade through a maze of trials and errors, freebies, webinars, and enticing offers and promises. The internet is the modern wild west. It is not easy to find the meaningful ‘golden nuggets’ you and Jon offer so that one can feel informed and secure enough not to fall further to the prey. This is how I found you, Copyblogger, and a few more quality programs. Now it is much easier to pass up the ‘french fries and cinnamon buns’ or ‘turn off the buzz around you on the internet or any distractions’ because I feel better to ‘build those muscles.’ It is like: I love to run a 10K race but hate the training for it; it’s hard, it takes time and commitment. But I am addicted to that ‘feeling great’ after each training run.

    • Johnny says:

      Totally right. I actually like the idea of conscious choice, not isolation. I mean, I don’t truly want to turn back the clock and live in a rustic cabin in the woods. I’d like to step out there, get what I want, and get out. And it’s much easier said than done, present company very much included!

  14. Packs a punch. I called you a “social banzai” in my tweet and Facebook share. You’ve hit the heart of something that is gathering steam, especially with younger communities of intention (check out the De-Generation, TedX).

    I loved the line: “But we didn’t realize it was a gun. We thought it was ice cream.” This encapsulates to our infantile slowness in recognizing that the “generosity” of most modern offerings is pure selling and hooking. It’s NOT health-giving. That’s merely part of the hook. (Exhibit A: Old cigarette ads made it look like you’d be younger, sexier, prettier, and stronger if you smoked).

    I also loved: “Just because something is available doesn’t mean you should say yes to it.” It’s about awareness, consciousness of your reasons for choosing and “their” reasons for offering. If you genuinely and consciously want that donut, you say (and I agree), “Go for it.”

    If you’re grabbing just because someone is giving, then simply refuse as a matter of civil disobedience and self-respect! And maybe even build up this refusal muscle and self-awareness by deliberately depriving yourself. Like the bamboo stick on the back of a Buddhist student whose mind is wandering during meditation.

    Here’s the secret I learned though. Once you do develop mindfulness, the context with which you make choices shifts. Choice becomes about deepening rather than cheapening, gearing toward a more profound and fulfilling simplicity rather than garbaging up on an expansive array of stuff.

    Call it choice-making health vs. mental and moral obesity. Once that health is tasted deeply, cutting back won’t feel like deprivation but rather as adding something more valuable in its place. Quality of life floods in to replace the quantity of stuff.

    I’ve recently experienced this almost weird “quality of life” feeling when I gave up alcohol and really began to consciously watch my diet and exercise.

    I had a kind of awakening when I heeded Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to observe the effects of alcohol on my body and mind. I noticed alcohol increases my appetite for food, especially sweets. I’m not sure why this is so, but it is, and I stopped drinking. Is this “deprivation” unpleasant? Maybe a little in terms of socializing and the absence of a buzz now and then, but not really. I like how I feel now.

    I did the same with food and exercise. I begin to find that fine middle line the ancient of which Greek philosophers speak. Basically, it’s consciousness applied. Courage is the conscious line between rashness (blindly throwing yourself all in) and cowardice (blindly stepping all out).

    With eating and exercise, I don’t do extreme deprivation or indulging. I just try to feel for that fine middle line. In eating it is best for me to consume smaller amounts of food during the day, preventing the hunger response and providing energy (yes, with occasional fasting to cleanse the body).

    I draw upon research that shows you can get remarkable fitness results by using “peak training”– short, high intensity bursts to maximize the benefit of my time in a gym without overtraining or “dragging” myself to the equipment. It feels good, and makes my mind more alert and my body is practically singing.

    My hope is that your article’s “tough love” approach will bring people to rely upon their deeper consciousness and choice and provide the opportunity to taste the superiority, agency, and clarity of healthy, purposeful living.

    • Johnny says:

      It certainly isn’t easy, but I do tend to think that awareness and consciousness are the goals, as you indicate, rather than one extreme or the other. I pretty much say that it’s cool to do whatever… as long as you’re truly choosing it in full awareness of where it’s leading you. Which is hard, and a lifelong study.

  15. Be intentional. Be aware. Don’t be too lazy to choose. Brilliantly put. Thank you.

  16. Redd says:

    As always, you are so fucking right. I fall into this trap all the time and definitely want to change it. Now, I think I will actually try it. Stay Awesome!

  17. Tammi Kibler says:

    This awesome post came at just the right time for me. I gave up sugar last week, and I’m going to have to learn how to live in a world where so many people seem to feel I are trying to deprive them of the joy of watching me eat what I should not. Or maybe they think I am judging them with my abstinence.

    Who fucking cares? I’ll eat what I want, thank you very much. That’s what choice is supposed to mean anyway.

    Looking forward to your next post.

  18. I think about this everyday of my life. I completely agree with you. By having and wanting more we actually get less.

    Great post.

  19. Jim Mcfarland says:

    This post rocks Johnny…I’ve practiced Japanese esoteric Buddhism for 20 years.

    We go out and slam ourselves under ice cold waterfalls and walk over red hot coals, climb out over 100 ft cliffs… all in the name of waking the fuck up-

    In this Buddhism- called Mikkyo and Shugendo -You have 2 choices in life- you can take the passive path through life where others in life make the choices for you (and unless you’re really questioning it all- the way we are influenced, and conditioned to do what we do happens on really subtle levels- and you won’t ever catch it- it’s like being plugged into the fucking matrix), or…

    The other possible path to take, is where you start to “get,” start to train yourself to see very clearly everyday, that every thought you choose to think, every word you choose to say and every little action with your body are the very choices you are actively constructing your life with….

    In every moment you are either falling more asleep or you’re getting more awake!

    You can swallow the blue pill or swallow the white pill …

    Thanks again for a truly enlightening post Johnny!

  20. Jerome Stone says:

    Hey el senor Truant – As always, thanks for the perennial wisdom. It’s not only great to read your posts, but to realize that you’re being honest and not pretentious. Working with you on BSBC 2012 is giving me an idea of who you are and your posts genuinely reflect that. It’s a pleasure and a delight, a refreshing breath of fresh air, or – as you might say – a f’in deep breath of uncontaminated air, to realize that there are others in the world who are creative and are willing to work and play by their own rules, and who are willing and able to stop buying into the bullshit. Your posts are an inspiration to me to pursue my newest blog (URL to be revealed at a future time) but who’s gist is essentially, shut the f’ up and get on with it!

    Take care and very best wishes to you. Say a big “hi” to that very lucky kiddo of yours and to your right-hand gal.

    Be well and kick-ass!

    Jerome

    • Johnny says:

      Ha, you’ve just validated my all-over-the-place nature of my brand. It works in the context of business somehow! A happy customer who gets it! HOO-RAH!

      Thanks, Jerome. 🙂

  21. Nicki Goff says:

    Absolutely right on fantastic post, Johnny. BTW – thoroughly loving your and Jon’s Bootcamp.

  22. Tell it like it is Johnny. Love it. Where did all the common sense go, is my question. Here where I live we just had a forest fire. Three people died in this fire, because a reverse 911 call was not sent to them. Now I don’t know about you, put if I am sitting in my house and see that smoke is getting pretty darn thick and close, i am not going to wait for somebody else to tell me it is time to run.

    As for the cell phones, that is all I need in case i am out and have an emergency. I don’t need to get a text from someone that did not have time to call me, but wanted to tell me something. If you don’t want to talk to me, guess what you wanted to tell me was not that important.

    As for sugar it was God gave us this because our bodies need it, don’t tell me to eat something man made make me believe it is better for me. No so much!

    people need to use some common sense and stop letting people. I have never bought into the bullshit and I am to old to change now. I use my common sense and I sure don’t need a pill to find it.
    The world is getting pretty scary, because people are buying into anything anymore and it is great to see you putting it all on the table. if it helps one person open there eyes to what is really going on, good for you.

    As for the choice, I chose to keep all my fingers, they are working very well for me. Thank you. Maybe he can use the red suit at Christmas time and someone always has the read hat laying around to add to it.
    Blessings to you Johnny,
    Debbie

  23. Great post.

    This proliferation of bad choices stuff seems to keep piling up at exponential rates.

    I grew up with no TV and a very strict diet of whole foods. I’d never had a single junk food item or anything from a mix until I was in my 20s. I decided to raise the bar for my own children.

    We homeschooled our kids, fed them healthy diets, and raised them with no TV, but it seems like it didn’t have the same impact this time.

    They watch television constantly at friends’ houses; they decided to enter public schools during middle school years (we did give them that option), and they eat as much crap as humanly possible when not at home.

    Sigh. Sometimes I think the only way to effectively combat the insanity would be to move the whole family to some rural village in the bush… Now I find myself wondering what the next generation will choose, given how hard it was to try and shift the direction of this one.

    Keep telling the truth. It helps us remember that there is a different, better way to live.

    • Jerome Stone says:

      Hi Lisa.

      I think that your post is a perfect example of why learning about choice is so important. Your kids have obviously been offered choices and, it seems, reasons for making choices with more positive outcomes. They know about “good” food and “bad” food, as well as mainstream education versus home-based schooling.

      In a way, it’s a great thing that they HAVE made the choices that they’ve made because it shows that they’re exercising their right to choose..regardless of the outcomes or results. And it could be that what they’re needing is a little push-back room to find their own voices. I imagine that the end result, even if it takes them a few years, will be that they’ll “come home” to the choices and values that you’ve instilled in them AND that they’ll have made the choices their own.

      It seems like sometimes our kids really need to know that they can “own” their truths, even if it means going against what, to us “wiser” parents know are, the best choices. Congrats on giving them the option for the hell that is known as middle school.

      It seems that moving “the whole family to some rural village in the bush..” might be just as much of a push-back as their choices.

      There’s a great Buddhist saying, “If you want to tame a horse, give it a large pasture for grazing.” Seems like you’re doing that, even if it goes against your grain. Here’s to your persistence and conscious parenting. Take care, Jerome

    • Johnny says:

      Interesting. Maybe this is a case of kids always wanting to rebel… against whatever?

  24. Excellent post. Well written. The truth is like mole spit. It’s toxic. Moles spit on worms, and worms are paralyzed by the moles spit. But they’re still alive, frozen, waiting to be eaten by the mole. When the mole feels like it. The worm is like all the rest of the worms. Helpless. Winston Churchill said it best: We are all worms. The worms, after being spit on by the mole just lie there, like in a pantry, in the moles tunnel waiting, like the people waiting, waiting, waiting, for the end. The worms helpless, passive, frozen, waiting for death…

  25. Shann says:

    I will never grow tired of your in-your-face writing style. Thank you.

    Regarding self denial: I gave up sugar 77 days ago as an experiment. In the beginning it sucked out loud. I almost caved in the beginning due to the withdrawal headaches. I stayed with my trial and feel better, sleep better and have way more energy. 77 days ago I may have eaten the free cinnamon roll. Today I make a conscious choice about what I nourish or pollute by body with. Awareness of awareness.

    • Johnny says:

      I find all starches to be addictive to me. If I stay off them, I’m totally fine and don’t want them. But if I cheat, it’s very hard to stop going into a day-long slide. All the more reason I think I’d like to avoid it whenever I can.

  26. Thank you for the flow of ideas that made this post so alive.
    Being in the moment, having the awareness to make choices that matter for my well being seems essential today.
    I moved recently to a isolated part of the Oregon Coast where I can walk in a stream down into the ocean.
    Where eagles fly by and the water I drink is fresh from the stream.
    Nature feels so healing from the secondary trauma of being a therapist.
    We never got cable so TV is out of action.
    I spend time in quiet contemplation daily
    I run in the forest
    I love the silence
    Now I do bootcamp via the web because I lust for personal freedom and have the passion to drive me.
    I am now writing a blog post about how these two guy named Jon and Johnny liberated my entreprenuerial spirit.
    Peace to you

  27. Kimberly says:

    Maybe this is why, when I heard about Pinterest, I just felt tired.

  28. Thanks, Johnny. To anyone reading these comments: For further consideration, settle in to your favorite reading spot and enjoy A REASONABLE LIFE by Ferenc Matѐ. Do it the old-fashioned way. You know, get a copy of the book made with real paper and ink.

  29. Linda Caroll says:

    I’m so glad you didn’t end this with a sales pitch.
    We’d have to gang up and take your damn apple away.

    …..But we didn’t realize it was a gun. We thought it was ice cream….

    Best line, ever.

  30. Katherine says:

    In the middle of that fast is a whole heap of food for thought.

    From the heart straight to the heart of the matter.

    I see your pop tarts and I raise you a chocolate bar – or not, perhaps… My choice indeed.

    Awesome post. Thank you.

  31. Jenny Foss says:

    “We need to stop living by default and start paying some fucking attention.”

    This is one of those lines that will stick. So thank you.

    And, ironically, I read this post as I was pulling a Pop-Tart out to munch on (no joke!) Yes, yes. It’s in the trash now. Harumpf. 😉

  32. One path to this is to “do everything pleasurable by default” … because if I understand you correctly that IS “doing something that sucks”, and it’s inevitable result is a powerful wake-up call – physical, mental, or emotional 🙂

    • Johnny says:

      That’s a neverending loop question… like, “Are there any selfish good deeds?” And then if someone gives an example of one, you can point out that it’s still selfish because you did something for others because it made you feel good to do it. 🙂

  33. Hey, you’re IF’ing now? Cool.

    Love this post. I love how clear-headed I get when I fast. And, like you say at the end, learn that it won’t kill me to go without. My understanding of how we willingly allow ourselves to be controlled gets deeper with each iteration of this lifestyle that I adopt. And that’s an awesome feeling.

    • Johnny says:

      Yeah, it’s progressive for me. I’d have never considered IF, but after adopting a few more things stepwise, it was actually easy…

  34. Recently I found out that I was allergic to wheat and caffeine. Most people said “oh, I’d die!” I had been talking to my doctor about starting a paleo style diet and he brought up the fact that since I had to totally change my diet anyway, now would be a good time to give up sugar. Sugar is in basically everything that is convenient. I had feared the change because I expected it to be so hard.

    I’ve been off the sugar for over a month now. I feel a 1000 times better. I’ve lost almost 20 lbs in a month. A few days ago I was at a party and someone convinced me to have a piece of cake. I have never been so sick. Honestly I felt drunk. I know I was a sugar junkie before and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I gave it up.

    • Johnny says:

      Yeah, like I mentioned above, I do sometimes cheat… and when I do, it doesn’t satisfy the urge. It makes me want more, move less, etc. It’s like cheating begets cheating. I don’t like that much.

  35. Jan Schochet says:

    Love this post, Johnny. I often feel like we truly ARE living in Brave New World and everything is soma (look it up, folks, if you don’t know–this is important!).

    Maybe it’s the spring weather, maybe it’s just TIME, but I began feeling those thoughts that you just expressed so I’ve been consciously depriving myself of crap to be able to have time, space and energy for the real good stuff in life.

    Most recently I gave up sugar, my most insidious addiction. (this is very new!). But over the past year, I realized I don’t watch that much TV, so I sure don’t need special channels (and argued w/the cable people who wanted to charge me more for less than what I already would have when my yearly “plan” was up–I won. It was a measly $5 savings, but hey–it was a savings). I don’t have a flat screen TV–my 20 year old Hitachi 24″ works great. I don’t have an ipad–yet. I do have a smart phone but it keeps me going when I’m on vacation and there’s no internet connection.

    And I love going to Golden Corral because I like their vegetables–instead of just hitting the current “in” restaurants that never seem to serve much in the way of vegetables–and I am agog at what-all someone (not me) can stuff onto their plate. But I restrain.

    I’m not perfect, but I am keenly aware that I’m more deliberate than ever before. And it probably is because, as you voiced it, there’s just so much crap out there to partake of.

    So whatever’s in the air re: the “reign yourself in” approach, to get you all riled up about it–I’ll agree wholeheartedly.
    Thanks for your thought-filled blog post on it.

    • Johnny says:

      Ha, thought I was the only person left who actually has a TV, but has one with a tube. I hate the notion of HDTV. Right now, my plain old Roku is great for running the TV and the rest of our components work with it, but you add just that damn big TV and suddenly you need all new stuff, new cables, faster cable or internet, a higher monthly bill, you can’t play normal stuff on it because it looks like shit, etc.

      I’m not looking forward to the day they stop making normal, non-HD TVs with plain old cable and composite inputs.

  36. Thanks for another cold shower of wisdom, Johnny. This “less is more” philosophy is something that needs to be spread to the masses and taught in schools for future generations. We allow so much stuff into our physical space and so much information into our mental space that if we don’t start reversing it, assuming eating junk food and sitting on our asses all day doesn’t kill us first, at some point our brains are just going to spontaneously combust.

    I think this is an important marketing lesson as well. I was up at an ungodly hour the other “night” trying to numb myself to sleep with bad television, and it seemed like every single commercial had the same formula: “Our stain remover is a steal at only $9.99, but if you call right away, we’ll DOUBLE the offer AND throw in this amazing self-cleaning kitty litter absolutely FREE (just pay a separate shipping and handling fee).” My automatic assumption is that their stain remover is a piece of crap and/or overpriced or they wouldn’t need to entice me with freebies, their kitty litter must be even worse or they wouldn’t be giving it away, and they’re probably gouging me on shipping charges.

    Plus, I don’t even have a cat, but now I’ll have to go out and adopt one so your stupid kitty litter won’t go to waste.

  37. I love this post, Johnny! Thanks for being so in-your-face about things we each need to get real about. Why people don’t take control of their life and make the choices that allow them to lead an awesome one, is startling. I hope this kick in the butt makes each one of us more aware of those areas in our life where we are unaware of what our choice really is all about.

    Great work!

    Cindy

  38. the muskrat says:

    But this doesn’t sound fun at all!

    I’m pretty sure eventually we Americans won’t have all the choices we have today and will be forced to accept fewer options. For now, let’s keep it voluntary.

    • Johnny says:

      Ah, but you’re confusing CHOICES with CHOICES! They’ll restrict the important ones (what used to be called “liberties”), but will surely always give us PLENTY of ways to entertain ourselves to death.

      (What are you, anyway… a lawyer?)

  39. wyatt says:

    At one company I worked at we had a free table where you could put stuff you didn’t want anymore and anyone could have at it. There were many great items I brought to and found on that table but I found myself taking things just because they were free and why not? I found myself doing this at garage sales also. My wife got me to a place where I now walk by the free items. I like how your post extends to so many choices in life. There is so much cheap food and plastic crap being traded for our life (read Your Money or Your Life). It is amazing that we trade our life blood for such fucking bullshit. Thanks for the post Jonny.

  40. Jill says:

    Love this post! I wondered if you’d share a bit more about what you eat?

    • Johnny says:

      Ha, that’s a post in itself. I roughly follow the Paleo or Primal Blueprint diet, but I then omit most of the starchiest stuff that remains. What I like about combining IF with Primal is that it means you can actually eat a lot in the time you are eating. It’s an interesting balance between restraint and indulgence.

    • Johnny says:

      And to prove that I’m far from perfect myself, I go ahead and eat whatever when we go out to eat on Friday or Saturday nights. So for those two meals, I suck. But I’m religious about it the rest of the time.

      • Jill says:

        Are you doing one meal a day? Or do you eat a “dinner,” too? When I was strict, it was easy to skip dinner. I can’t imagine just having one meal, though.

        • Johnny says:

          That’s what the Warrior Diet does… one huge meal. No, I don’t want to do that. I typically have my “lunch” around 3pm, then have dinner with my family around 6:30. Having a family does make my explorations much harder because they have no interest in doing them too. I often get to resist macaroni and make subs, like cauliflower for rice and mashed potatoes, or spiraled zucchini or squash for pasta. Then I have a snack closer to bedtime. It’s actually difficult to get in enough calories. We’re used to spreading them out.

  41. Sergio Felix says:

    “Do something that sucks” lol

    I have been doing a lot of uncomfortable stuff lately and I have to say that I regret not having done it sooner.

    One of the many things involves taking cold showers (I HATE cold water) and even though I’m still not crazy enough to go for an ice cube shower yet (is that even possible?) if it’s required, you can be damn sure I’m going to go for it.

    Thanks for the pumped out article Johnny, it was really spot on.

    Sergio

    • Johnny says:

      I had to take a cold shower at the gym last week because the hot water tank had blown out and I didn’t know it until I was there and had no way to get out of showering there. It was brutal. I h done adn’t it before, and it was ICE cold. I had to consciously stop myself from hyperventilating. Not fun, but invigorating.

  42. Sarah says:

    Yes we should show restraint. But also aim for balance. It seems to me that it is easy to swing from being a person who stuffs themselves with free cinnamon rolls (an extreme), to a person who eats no sugar, wheat, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, pop tarts, etc. But neither extreme seems healthy or balanced or desirable to me. I certainly do make conscious decisions about how I live my life (small house, shared parenting, pursuing vocation not money, community activism). But it seems unnecessary to eschew eating to punish Kelloggs when you could be eating excellent, whole foods, grown yourself or shared with you locally, throughout the day, as your tummy asks you to. Balance is a more important priority, and, I strongly argue, more difficult to achieve, than extreme anything.

    • Johnny says:

      No, I agree. It’s like how atheists can be every bit as dogmatic as religious fundamentalists, and punk rock devotees can be way more conformist than the general public.

      There are definitely “cults of conformity” around both/all extremes. What matters more than what you do is that you’re doing it consciously. Nothing wrong with indulgence. It’s lack of thinking that’s the problem.

  43. Mark Hermann says:

    Fantastic post, Johnny! Thank you for reminding us, if only a glimpse, of life as it really is. Just one thing. You left out the 99%.

    You know, those losers out there all over our once great nation, whining their snivelling discontent over having no money and no jobs while the good people of Wall Street set a good example for us all to follow, bleeding America dry, gambling the future of our children’s children and losing the whole farm, only to have their coffers filled back up by Uncle Sam because they were “too big to fail” so they could fuck off again in their shiny Leer jets to their fabulous parties celebrating a glorious victory over the sheep and the ignorant (read: pretty much all of us losers, whose hands the blood is on for allowing this to happen right under our noses and just shrugging our fucking shoulders while updating our Facebook status).

    Yes, these are the titans of industry. The pillars of our society. Our role models for the New American Dream, which only almost exactly bears a very close resemblence to a scene right out of 1984.

    But alas, fiction pales in comparison to the reality TV show called America today. Land of the lost. Home of the lazy. The fuckery bestowed upon us all while we slept on the conveyer belt to the slaughter is unprecedented. But hey, we’ve got GPS so we’ll find our way again, right?

    And all they wanted, these captains of industry, champions for a free market society, was to show us how to live the good life. It’s just that they would sooner eat their own kidneys before ever allowing us so much as a sniff of their reality.

    Once upon a time we chose the uncomfortable path; we fought some greedy bastards like this to the death for what was right. Something to do with taxation and some spilled tea.

    Yes, the best is yet to come.

    Rock on, Johnny! You tell it like it is.

  44. Louis says:

    I do this periodically but not nearly enough. I loved the way you made me feel I should do thia regularly, not just every once in a while when I talk myself into it. It amazes me how often I need to remind myself not to eat just because it’s around mealtime. Thanks for this.

  45. Bill Bostic says:

    This post is screaming: “Wake up it’s night. It’s later than you think.” Living life on autopilot is to be among the living dead. I’ve been there and have no desire to go back.

    Plus, I’m glad to report that I’m a smartphone holdout with no Internet access on my three-year-old cell phone. Verizon regularly tries to lure me into using a $50 bonus to replace my oldie-but-goodie flip phone, but I love ignoring their sales pitches. Thanks to Johnny and Jon Morrow, I’ll probably start turning it off when I’m trying to work on key stuff.

    Good stuff, Johnny!

  46. Justin says:

    Hey Man,

    Liked your post. I gotta say that not following the shit ways of the rest of our society is the reason I am trying to make a living online, doing what I want to do, talking about what I am passionate about. I refuse to be subjected to the nine to five crap that “we are supposed to do” kind of mentality. Any way, enjoy reading your articles cause they get me to think. Peace

  47. Ruth says:

    I have been saying no to ‘free’ for a long time. There is no free, and if I didn’t intend to go out and get what ever it was that was ‘free’ it was obviously not something I chose to have.
    I do find myself staring at the tv, when there is a bunch of other things I could be doing, that in the end, would be better and more satisfying than watching nothing of value again.

  48. M.S. says:

    Choices, choices…too many choices eventually get us into trouble. Great post. As far as your diabetes, goes, you know that you can help cure yourself by eating raw foods which rebuilds your system? The book is called There is a Cure for Diabetes by Dr. Gabriel Cousens. There is also a couple documentaries on the subject of reversing diabetes.

    • Johnny says:

      Different kind of diabetes… I agree type 2 is usually curable, which is really frustrating re: all of the research money going toward it. I have type 1, meaning that I literally produce no insulin.

  49. ben says:

    hi johnny you have so many hot girls reading and commenting on your posts

    i must learn from your wisdom

    I hear you about IF, been doing it for a couple of months, FUCK the cereal breakfast makers

    goodwork!!

  50. PepperReed says:

    Owning your Bullshit is the biggest hurdle to Freedom. We’ve all got crap to deal with, but recognizing that we’re the ones make plenty of it, is key to getting rid of it.