Over the past week, a bunch of different people have asked me for my opinion on a research-heavy health podcast (I’ll share the link in the post-script). I always like when people ask me stuff but this got me thinking about the concept of optimization.
Is the slight edge always worth it?
I believe that you are best served when you have a clear understanding your environment(s) and relative bandwidth. The better you understand the lay of the land, the more capable you are of knowing where to take action.
What about super-technical details, though? Based on one episode, I wound up reading a piece of research and… whoo boy! If you have insight on nanoscopic interfacial water viscosity around ATP rota pumps, please holler at me. Actually, don’t. It was just too detailed to really evaluate effectively.
What about not-so-technical details? That’s a better question. Here’s a takeaway that I actually took away:
Before I check my phone in the morning, I make sure to get a few minutes of exposure to sunlight. I actually do this. Even if it means (gasp) waiting!
Is this practice optimized for my rota pumps? No idea. But, it fits with my values, motivations, routines, and environment. It is a slight tweak that I can be successful with every day. And I like the fact that I do it.
Most ideas should be put into the bucket marked “Slight Tweaks”. These are things that:
- You have at least some motivation to do
- Play well with whatever your level of motivation is—even when it’s at low-tide
- Fit your existing routines—including timing and physical spaces
So, while media may throw lots of ideas your way, you shouldn’t feel obligated to optimize anything—unless it can be seamlessly implemented. Otherwise, you’re going to have to exchange the time and effort required to overhaul your routine for marginal gains—at best. The math on this often this nets out to a loss.
We lose out on something else, though: enoughness. Every time I read the super-detailed advice of a health influencer, I wonder how much is enough. Perhaps it’s more responsible to reach a certain point of practice and then turn your lens outward. Maybe the healthiest thing you can do is stop obsessing over the soil nitrogen content of your sprouted chia and—instead—look to the people closest to you and ask where they might benefit from some marginal (or greater) gains. That interpersonal piece feels like health to me. Chalk one more up for community.
P.S. IFYKYK—I’m referencing Andrew Huberman’s podcast. And, for the record, I like it.