Why you should embrace the abundance mentality

Why are some people successful — financially, socially, and romantically, while others stagnate and never amount to anything?

The Abundance Mindset

Successful people share many traits, but I think one key attribute is the abundance mindset.

The abundance mindset sees the universe as full of opportunity — for friendship, love, and financial success. By contrast, the scarcity mindset sees everything as a fixed pie and leads to hoarding, envy, and stagnation in every aspect of life.

Think of the friend who forms a circle around them a party in any city, the successful serial entrepreneur, the man or woman who fearlessly starts genuine conversations and asks their romantic interests out on a date — what do they have in common? They recognize an opportunity in any form, and they are not afraid of failure because they know that life is full of chance to achieve their goals.

The Scarcity Mindset

By contrast, think of the failures you know. People you met decades ago who ended up in a dead-end career, unable to form or keep romantic relationships, and still living paycheck to paycheck. What do they have in common? In their relationships, they see the value as fixed and scarce. They bicker with their spouses and their coworkers over responsibility, budgets, and commitments because they see relationships as a tit for tat game over a fixed pie. Instead of using their relationships as a foundation to build value, they wear down their romantic and business partners and sabotage their success — yet they are too afraid of finding someone else to move on.

Learning to identify opportunities, and getting the ability and confidence to act on them is a skill, though some of us come by it easier than others. It starts the same way: with the philosophy that the world is full of opportunity if only we can learn to recognize and take advantage of it.

Resources are scarce. Opportunities are not. People hoard resources because they see the world as fixed, and by extension, they see their nature as fixed. Believing that you are incapable of change is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Abundance and Minimalism

For me, minimalism is an important aspect of an abundance mentality:

The homes of the self-made wealthy people tend to be sparse: they contain only the objects that are necessary for who they are today. Whether it’s an inspirational work of art on the wall or utensils in their kitchen, their possessions serve a practical purpose for who they are now. They do not need to hold on to the objects that embodied who they were yesterday.

Poor people and those who did not earn their wealth, on the other hand, stuff their homes with everything that they ever were. They have no confidence in their ability to find opportunities for either material success or self-growth in the future, so they hoard possessions both in case of material and spiritual shortage. Why spiritual? If you view the world as scarce in spiritual fuel, you must hoard all the symbols that have ever defined you. Think of the middle-aged man with his self-esteem and self-identity still linked to the things he did in high school or college, rather than pursuits he has now.

The same thing happens with romantic relationships and friends: abundant people focus on friends and partners who add value to their lives, whereas scarce people hang out with energy-draining friends and relationships that go nowhere.

Embrace Abundance in All Aspects of Your Life

The abundance vs scarcity mentality applies in many aspects of life: for example, time preference is the preference to enjoy goods sooner rather than later. People with a scarcity mentality have a high time preference and struggle to save their salary for the future. People who save for their future have a low time preference because they can imagine the life of abundance that will result from forgoing current consumption.

Whatever savings they do have, people with a scarcity mentality keep mostly in cash because they attribute their own scarcity mindset to markets and entrepreneurs. Likewise, they vote for politicians who redistribute the wealth of others rather than create an environment that fosters wealth-creation.

The scarcity mentality also causes an unhealthy lifestyle, since the scarcity mindset is unable to visualize the future benefits of a healthy diet, and focus only on the pleasure of immediate consumption.

The myth of the goldfish-sized attention span

The idea that attention span is shortening, particularly among younger generations is a myth, and the claims are not backed by any evidence. The idea of an “average attention span” is a myth, as there is no such thing. Attention span is very much context-dependent.

Even within particular contexts, such as driving or listening to a lecture, there is zero evidence of a change among the public or between generations. By the way, there is also zero evidence that goldfish have a short attention span. The “eight-second attention span of a goldfish” is completely fabricated. Goldfish memory IS extensively studied, simply because the fish are easy to breed and keep, and in fact goldfish are known to be able to perform the same kind of learning as mammals and birds, and don’t have any specific learning or memory deficit.

It is true that shots and edits in film and media are getting shorter, but this has to do with changes the preferences of editors and tastes of consumers, and especially (in my opinion) much higher expectations among young people about the visual quality, animation, and compelling narrative in the media they consume. If the content is good, young people will binge-watch Game of Thrones or Stranger Things for days at a time.

Further reading:

Facebook Libra’s cold reception from Congress validates the need for Bitcoin

The hostile reception that Facebook’s Libra coin received from Congress should be viewed as a validation of the need for Bitcoin.

As a fiat currency pegged stablecoin, Libra offers little threat to the U.S. dollar’s monopoly. To Libra users, it would be little different from PayPal, Alipay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, WeChat, Zelle, or the dozens of other peer to peer payment platforms around the world.

Yet Libra threw the powers that be in such a panic that President Trump was pressured into tweeting a condemnation of Libra and a Congressional hearing was swiftly organized. Rep Brad Sherman compared Libra to the 9/11 attacks, which in case you forgot, killed several thousand Americans.

I certainly have my reserves about both Facebook and Libra, but a “blockchain-enhanced” payment network that competes with Paypal is hardly the terrorist event of the century.  It is highly unlikely that President Trump wrote his rant against Libra himself – his tweets were likely scripted for him as the party line against potential dollar competitors.

What’s crystal clear from this episode is that anything which is remotely a threat to the U.S. dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency will be swiftly neutralized.

This is precisely why a peer to peer, decentralized network like Bitcoin is needed: any centralized challenge to the dollar’s dominance, by a company or nation-state, is likely to face swift retribution from the United States government. The U.S. economy relies on the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency to keep issuing new debt to sustain our unsustainable budget deficits.

Libra is currently little more than a vague white paper and a few lines of open source code, yet legislators like Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Maxine Waters are demanding that the project be shut down before the concept has even been fully flushed out.

It is clear that when U.S. dollar regime inevitably collapses – be it next year or decades from now, the U.S. government will not allow any organization within its reach to develop an alternative that can safeguard American’s assets. The government relies on its ability to collect (dollar-denominated) taxes to pay interest on its enormous debt and fund its unsustainable fiscal commitments.

This makes it all the more essential (for those of us who wish to safeguard our life savings and ensure an economic recovery based on sound money) to support decentralized, borderless, and censorship-resistant alternatives like Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is certainly not entirely immune from legislation, it is substantially more control as can be seen in countries such as VenezuelaChina, and India, where it is still widely used despite being banned.

Don’t blame markets for obesity

For nearly the entirety of human history, the chief concern of most people has been getting enough to eat. The invention of capitalism finally enabled the majority of people in market-based societies to focus on higher pursuits. Yet capitalism is now widely blamed for causing obesity – because of the availability of fast food, “food deserts”, or simply because markets incentivize products to make food as delicious and cheap as possible.

Whether or not you are a fan of free markets, it is personally important for you to understand why this idea is wrong:

The ultimate cause of obesity is not that we eat too much food, or that we lack access to healthy food, or that our food is simply too delicious. The cause is that we eat the wrong foods. The reason so much of the food in America is so unhealthy is mostly due to bad science enshrined in agricultural subsidies and government-issued guidelines.

Regardless, if you are overweight (and over 70% of us are), you need to know that the cause is not due to your genetics (our grandparents weren’t all obese), a failing of morality or willpower, or the capitalist system.

When you eat a healthy diet, your body naturality self-regulates the hormonal signals for hunger and satiety to keep you at a healthy weight. It takes years of eating bad foods to cause chronic hormonal imbalances that lead to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and the majority of chronic lifestyle diseases that we deal with today.

I’ve written about the hormonal cause of obesity and what a proper diet consists of elsewhere, but it is also important to understand that you don’t need to shop at premium grocery stores like Whole Foods to eat well.

Organic and groceries considered “health foods” today have only been around for a few decades thanks to health food venture capitalism from people like Whole Foods founder John Mackey. (Follow this link to listen to his story, and you might be surprised about the pro-market views of America’s leading hippie food promoter.)  Food that is objectively nutritious can be found cheaply in most anywhere America, even if it comes in a can on the shelf of a Dollar Store.

Experiments such as “30 Days of Gas Station Food” prove that you can find decent food even if you shop exclusively at gas stations.

If there is interest, I would like to conduct an experiment: identify some staples of a healthy diet, then match them one for one between Whole Foods and Dollar General. I suspect that the building blocks of a nutritious diet can be found in most fast food venues, gas stations, and even “food deserts.”

Don’t dismiss Bitcoin just because of its wild price swings

There are valid reasons to criticize Bitcoin, but price volatility is not one of them. 

Why does the price of Bitcoin change so much from day to day? The answer is simple: the value of Bitcoin derives almost entirely from speculation on future adoption of Bitcoin rather than practical use. Bitcoin speculators are betting on the likelihood that Bitcoin will become offers a credible alternative to fiat paper money or commodities like gold.

No one knows the future, so many individual market participants speculate about the future using the information available to them. They will naturally disagree and change their opinions over time as new knowledge becomes available.  Good and bad news such as statements by governments, thefts from exchanges, or new startup ventures provide new information about the future and so influence the price.  Traders also react to the predictions of other traders. This is how price discovery works in any market. Those who make successful predictions earlier and more often will accumulate more Bitcoin, thus rewarding those with the best judgment. 

If you think that the Bitcoin trading is driven by too much hype, consider that the world’s economy currently hangs on the rants of President Trump’s reactions to the latest Fox News broadcast, and how the Federal Reserve reads the tea leaves of the market this week.

By contrast, crypto traders are ultimately responding to the long term success or failure of the Bitcoin ecosystem. This process of information discovery is always messy, but it is not any more arbitrary than the fake drama of the political news cycle.

Many critics of Bitcoin consider the fact that Bitcoin is a speculative asset as sufficient reason to dismiss it. But all entrepreneurial initiatives are speculative at the start. Bitcoin is like any early-stage startup. One investor claims a 10% stake for $1 million for a valuation $10 million, while a later round might value a $10% stake at $100 million. As a startup proves that its technology and businesses model is sound, and begins to make profits, it’s market cap grows. As profit transitions from potentiality to an actuality, the market capitalization becomes more stable. We are seeing a similar process with Bitcoin, except its ambition and potential is far larger than a startup, so the process takes far longer.   

Bitcoin will achieve price stability when a large portion of Bitcoin’s market cap is used for practical purposes rather than speculation. The practical value of Bitcoin is as a means of exchange and store of value.  

Can we track the adoption of Bitcoin as practical money? Yes. When Bitcoin was invented, only a few highly technical users had the skill to make Bitcoin transactions. Over the last 10 years, the cryptocurrency ecosystem has grown and evolved. Bitcoin is now easier to use, safer to store, and the number of businesses who accept it is in the tens of thousands.

Still, in all but a few narrow use cases, it is still more convenient to use more traditional payment networks. That’s normal — monopolies are broken not by assaulting their business model head-on, but within narrow edge cases where it is easier to build a superior alternative. In the case of Bitcoin, it is already a viable option for cross-border money transfers from nations with currency controls, trade in black and grey market goods, funding of politically incorrect institutions, and of course, criminal operations. In developed countries with robust financial networks, Bitcoin is only used by its most devoted followers, as the traditional financial system is still far easier to use.

That doesn’t mean that we will not see a sudden and unpredictable shift in which Bitcoin suddenly overtakes traditional financial networks. The Western banking system suffers from major and intractable structural faults and is ripe for disruption.  By contrast, here is a single Bitcoin transaction worth $670 million dollars with a total fee of $7.82.  Imagine how much more effort and due diligence a banking transaction of this size would take. A transaction to buy your morning coffee with Bitcoin comes with the same level of security.

We’ve seen how countries like China evolved from a cash-only society to one entirely dominated by mobile payment apps for practically all applications in just a few years.  With Whole Foods, Home Depot, and other major stores now accepting Bitcoin, virtually all millennials using smartphones, and growing instability in the global fiat money regime, the currency marketplace could be ready for disruption. Or not. The “flippening” between the dollar and Bitcoin could be decades away. The point is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with speculating on the possibility of a Bitcoin-based economy and global monetary standard if you believe (as I do) that the technology is fundamentally sound and capable of evolving to handle the business of 7 billion people.

Why does the price of Bitcoin change so much from day to day? The answer is simple: the value of Bitcoin derives almost entirely from speculation on future adoption of Bitcoin rather than practical use. Bitcoin speculators are betting on the likelihood that Bitcoin will become offers a credible alternative to fiat paper money or commodities like gold.

No one knows the future, so many individual market participants speculate about the future using the information available to them. They will naturally disagree and change their opinions over time as new knowledge becomes available.  Good and bad news such as statements by governments, thefts from exchanges, or new startup ventures provide new information about the future and so influence the price.  Traders also react to the predictions of other traders. This is how price discovery works in any market. Those who make successful predictions earlier and more often will accumulate more Bitcoin, thus rewarding those with the best judgment.

If you think that the Bitcoin trading is driven by too much hype, consider that the world’s economy currently hangs on the rants of President Trump’s reactions to the latest Fox News broadcast, and how the Federal Reserve reads the tea leaves of the market this week.

By contrast, crypto traders are ultimately responding to the long term success or failure of the Bitcoin ecosystem. This process of information discovery is always messy, but it is not any more arbitrary than the fake drama of the political news cycle.

Many critics of Bitcoin consider the fact that Bitcoin is a speculative asset as sufficient reason to dismiss it. But all entrepreneurial initiatives are speculative at the start. Bitcoin is like any early-stage startup. One investor claims a 10% stake for $1 million for a valuation $10 million, while a later round might value a $10% stake at $100 million. As a startup proves that its technology and businesses model is sound, and begins to make profits, it’s market cap grows. As profit transitions from potentiality to an actuality, the market capitalization becomes more stable. We are seeing a similar process with Bitcoin, except its ambition and potential is far larger than a startup, so the process takes far longer.

Bitcoin will achieve price stability when a large portion of Bitcoin’s market cap is used for practical purposes rather than speculation. The practical value if Bitcoin’s is as a means of exchange and store of value.

Can we track the adoption of Bitcoin as practical money? Yes. When Bitcoin was invented, only a few highly technical users had the skill to make Bitcoin transactions. Over the last 10 years, the cryptocurrency ecosystem has grown and evolved. Bitcoin is now easier to use, safer to store, and the number of businesses who accept it is in the tens of thousands.

Still, in all but a few narrow use cases, it is still more convenient to use more traditional payment networks. That’s normal — monopolies are broken not by assaulting their business model head-on, but within narrow edge cases where it is easier to build a superior alternative. In the case of Bitcoin, it is already a viable option for cross-border money transfers from nations with currency controls, trade in black and grey market goods, funding of politically incorrect institutions, and of course, criminal operations. In developed countries with robust financial networks, Bitcoin is only used by its most devoted followers, as the traditional financial system is still far easier to use.

That doesn’t mean that we will not see a sudden and unpredictable shift in which Bitcoin suddenly overtakes traditional financial networks. The Western banking system suffers from major and intractable structural faults and is ripe for disruption.  Here is a single Bitcoin transaction worth $670 million dollars with a total fee of $7.82.

Imagine how much more effort and due diligence a banking transaction of this size would take. A transaction to buy your morning coffee with Bitcoin comes with the same level of security.

We’ve seen how countries like China evolved from a cash-only society to one entirely dominated by mobile payment apps for practically all applications in just a few years.

With Whole Foods, Home Depot, and other major stores now accepting Bitcoin, virtually all millennial using smartphones, and growing instability in the global fiat money regime, and the currency marketplace could be ready for disruption. Or not. The “flippening” between the dollar and Bitcoin could be decades away. The point is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with speculating on the possibility of a Bitcoin-based economy and global monetary standard if you believe (as I do) that the technology is fundamentally sound and capable of evolving to handle the business of 7 billion people.

Why I try to ignore the news cycle and focus on my own success first

The idea that the public should be well-informed about local, regional, national, and global events is misguided and harmful.

It stems from the fact that in a democracy, every citizen can theoretically influence events on a global scale through the vote. The implication of this is that every citizen is ethically obligated to stay informed on the issues in order to make informed votes.

However, this standard is both impossible and harmful. The vast majority of people are busy with their personal lives and must already consume and process a huge amount of information to stay competitive in the modern world. It is impossible for non-intellectuals to keep up.

The impossible standard of the “informed citizen” leads to constant disillusionment of intellectuals with the public. The result is a perceived gulf between the “educated” intellectual elite and the “ignorant” working masses, who the elite feels must be ruled for their own good through a mythology of invented, ever-escalating crises, posed by as immigrants, rogue nations, abortion doctors, greedy landlords, corrupt CEOs, etc.

It is impossible for the average citizen to make a truly informed decision about a single local candidate, the interaction of national candidates with complex issues.

During the last election cycle, I met a fellow dad in the park who gave me an election flier, as he was running for a position as a local judge. I went to the link on his flier and tried to make a list of pros and cons.

Pro: he’s a nice guy, friendly and doting dad. Con: he’s a Democrat, along with all the other bad positions Democrats hold. Pro: he is a fellow secular Jew, which means we probably share views on many issues. Con: he’s a secular Jew, which means that he probably supports “social justice” and many other things I oppose.

I don’t remember the specific stances on his election site, but after reviewing them, I still felt completely unqualified to support or oppose his candidacy.

I am aware of my own ignorance and know that no matter how much attention I paid to the news, I could not even make an informed decision about a single local election, much less state or national roles. I had a long list of reasons why Trump and Hillary would both be terrible presidents, but ultimately, I could only make a wild guess about which one would be worse.

It’s impossible to make informed votes in a political system where the elected representatives have arbitrary power to disregard constitutional principles and the rule of law after they are in office.

Politics is impossibly complicated, and a distraction from the ongoing task of being successful in life. It’s intentionally addictive, as politicians compete to invent new and more urgent emergencies to grab the public’s attention. Politicians and the intellectual elite work with the media to manipulate the news cycle to direct attention to their pet issues, so that all news becomes politically radicalized. I have noticed how people who become immersed in the game of political theatre can hardly focus on the difficult job of reaching their own goals and maintaining the events that affect their own lives in context to political alarmism. It’s much easier to blame their failures on their preferred political scapegoats.

This is not to say that I advocate complete ignorance of politics. I believe in certain civic responsibilities — not because I live in a certain country, but simply from a selfish desire for a better life for myself and those I care for. Among these, is the duty to assist in emergencies, to testify against criminals, to serve on a jury when asked, and to speak on behalf of principles which make our civilization possible and denounce those who erode it.

I follow and engage in political causes only where basic social principles are at stake. For example, I believe that everyone who values American values, civilization, and just law ought to denounce the vicious campaign against immigrants.

Aside from such cases, I believe that unless politics is your career or primary hobby, you should ignore the news cycle to the maximum extent practicable in your life, and instead focus on being educated in areas relevant to the success of your personal projects.

5 Things You Need from Your Job to Advance Your Career

Your job won’t always be your dream job. Sometimes you’ll take on projects you don’t like, work with people whose company you don’t enjoy, or get paid less than you think you’re worth. Sometimes, your focus will be on getting by until you find your next gig or get promoted. However, no matter what you do, there is almost always more to gain from your work than a paycheck.

Many employees think of their salary as the sole value they derive from their job. Career growth requires a deliberate focus on personal growth to prepare yourself for the next rung on your career ladder. Here are five goals to focus on in your work:

A story is a narrative that you can use to demonstrate the value you created for your organization. Stories are much more powerful than a list of responsibilities. A responsibility is blindly following what your manager tells you to do. A story shows that you have the understanding, initiative, and follow-through to create value for your organization.

Let’s say you work at a pizza parlor. A responsibility might be “I made pizzas, ran the cash register, swept the floors, and closed the restaurant.”

A story could be:

I started out washing dishes. After two weeks, I learned how to mix the sauce and throw the pizza, and was able to handle all the kitchen duties on my own on weeknights. After a month, I offered to close the restaurant so my manager could see his son’s little league game. He taught me how to run the cash register, and soon after, I was able to run the pizza parlor on my own when needed.

This story demonstrates ambition, progression, and responsibility. It adds context, credibility, and an emotional element: Every restaurant manager wishes for someone reliable to trust when he needs to attend to personal matters. I did not approach my first summer out of college with this attitude, but I did master pizza-making and created a veggie stromboli that was added to the menu.

Imagine how many more entrepreneurs we would have if every college student approached his summer job with the goal of running a small business. Don’t start writing your story when trying to write your resume—your story should be the most important consideration when you decide which opportunity you want to pursue.

Skill-building is the second essential goal you need from your job. Building skills requires your attention when looking for a job and an entrepreneurial attitude when on the job. Especially when you are starting out, it is often worth it to sacrifice salary in exchange for skills.

My first job out of college was to build a customer relationship management platform for a small machinery sales business and run their IT operations. It didn’t pay much, but I had complete freedom to architect a software solution to the business, which I then abstracted into a software product we sold to another company.

 I wasn’t paid much that year, but I gained tremendously valuable experience for my career that would not have been possible for a junior developer on a large team. After a year, I was able to jump right into a mid-level role and more than double my salary.

No matter what your boss or HR says, it is up to you to build your toolkit. Be on the lookout for developments in your chosen field and try to steer to projects that build on that. Some of my peers in software worked themselves into a career dead-end by jumping into high-paying roles for major corporations that involved arcane and proprietary programming languages. Despite years of experience, they had trouble moving on because their skills were too specialized to be interesting to anyone else.

Your salary is a reflection of how much value you create for your organization. If you want to increase your compensation, you must increase your value to your employer. Do what your boss asks first, but then discover what builds value for your employer and focus on that.

Consider making the value you create visible within your company as part of your job description just as much as the work you are responsible for completing.

The fourth asset you need to derive from your work is your social capital. The best leads for your next opportunity will come from the people who see you at your best—your coworkers. Use your time at the office to establish connections with peers, mentors, and influencers who will aid in your career.

Even lunch should be a strategic tool to advance your career. Don’t have lunch with the same people every single day: Use it as a mentorship or networking opportunity by inviting someone from your organization. Don’t gossip, complain, or brag—talk about some work you are excited about or ask for advice—and find people older and more experienced than you whose advice is worth asking and who can vouch for you when your name comes up for a new project.

Finally, you should find a job you love. Especially when you are young, make your job your primary focus in life.

This is not to dismiss the value of family, friends, etc., but as far as goal-pursuit is concerned, you need to prioritize your career. If you come in the morning tired from video games, partying, reading books, or engaging in other hobbies, think hard about your life and your time management. Schedule your social life, put time limits on games, and sip your liquor; do whatever it takes.

Write the story you want to tell about your job. Discover what skills your market finds valuable. Build social capital with mentors and influencers.

Cut out the non-essential junk in your life so you can come in and perform like a rockstar every morning. You’re not a kid anymore, and you need to start adulting ASAP. If you can’t get sufficiently motivated about your job to do that, create opportunities to combine your hobbies and your career.

Making your career your primary purpose in life does not mean working more hours. Not only is overwork counterproductive, but it is also often the excuse to avoid taking the few, uncomfortable steps needed to actually make progress in life.

Write the story you want to tell about your job. Discover what skills your market finds valuable. Build social capital with mentors and influencers. Finally, find work that you find truly satisfying.

Originally posted at FEE.org

How I found the ONE trick to lose belly fat overnight

About three years ago, I decided to reach an ambitious financial goal, that would put me in the top 5% of my peers. I engaged in a deep dive of personal finance, which led me to reject the conventional wisdom about career, savings, and investing. I developed new principles, achieved financial success, and moved my retirement date forward by several decades.

Two months ago, I became aware that though I was only slightly overweight, as I got older, my weight was having a detrimental effect on my health in many ways. I decided to engage in a similar process to lose weight.

I already knew that the conventional wisdom of a low-fat diet and more exercise was wrong, but as I dived into the topic of weight loss, what I learned transformed my approach. I’m still learning more every day, but here is the gist of what I found:

The most common explanations for why 70% of Americans are overweight are wrong. Obesity is not caused by eating too much or exercising too little, but by a hormonal imbalance in the body. The human body has a “set body weight” which it maintains through hormonal feedback systems. Inactivity and overeating is the result of obesity, not the cause. This is why diets which focus on eating less and moving more almost always fail — as has been proven by numerous studies. Unfortunately, the lure of hundreds of billions in agricultural subsidies has maintained a false theory of obesity despite 50 years of negative evidence.

The ultimate biological cause of obesity is a hormonal imbalance caused by insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is caused by persistently high levels of sugar in the blood. High sugar levels come from frequent carbohydrate-heavy meals. Cheap and plentiful processed carbohydrates from corn and wheat are the result of agricultural subsidies, which were passed to support the false hypothesis that obesity is caused by excess fat consumption.

Insulin resistance is the cause of fat accumulation. Insulin is a hormone which enables all cells to use and store sugar in the blood. Insulin is essential for the body, but persistently high levels of insulin cause resistance and fat accumulation. Fat storage is thus hormonally mediated. Attempts to lose or gain weight by calorie regulation below the set weight inevitably fail long term because the body compensates in myriad ways:

The body will respond to decreasing fat stores by increasing appetite, reducing satiety, lowering the metabolic rate, decreasing body temperature, and many other ways.
Long term weight control can only be achieved by understanding and addressing the causal factors – the hormones that regulate weight – especially insulin and leptin. This is why people who address weight by regulating calories suffer from a life-long rollercoaster or weight loss and regain. Lack of activity and larger meals is the outcome of obesity, not its cause.

More fundamentally, obesity is caused by dysfunctional emotion-handling skills. Carbohydrates are a highly effective and pleasurable endorphin activator. Like alcohol, tobacco, or heroin, carbs help addicts with chronic stress, anxiety, and depression — which are all common in the developed world. Carbohydrate addicts treat emotional instability with food in the same way as any other substance abuser.

Humans have evolved satiety mechanisms in response to fat and protein consumption (leptin is released to signal satiety). But like alcohol or cocaine, humans have no evolved satiety mechanism for carbs, which causes chronic overeating.

Understanding that carbohydrate consumption is an addictive relationship is essential to effective weight loss. Telling an alcoholic to consume less alcohol does not work because any amount of alcohol reinforces the addition. For the same reason, eliminating all processed carbohydrates from the diet is necessary for an effective dietary change.

Adopted sibling studies show that obesity is 70% genetically determined. I suspect that the specific trait is an inherited lack of emotion-management skills, which combined by super-availability of cheap carbohydrates is responsible for the modern obesity epidemic which affects 70% of Americans. Treatment of obesity requires addressing the need for emotional self-regulation and insulin resistance. Weight and fat loss will follow naturally as a result.

Exercise is effective for weight loss not because it burns fat or builds muscle (these effects are trivial and counteracted by the body in non-athletes), but because the endorphins produced during exercise reduce the emotional dependency on carbohydrates in food.

It is impossible to become fat from eating food — real food. Real food contains fats and proteins that trigger the body’s automatic satiety mechanisms. Obesity develops due to artificial food in the form of refined carbohydrate products. You can’t lose weight by eating MORE of anything. You must reduce the harmful effects of addictive carbohydrates.

The solution to obesity is to correct the hormonal imbalance by reducing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be reduced by creating periods of low blood sugar, specifically by eating a low carb diet, extending the periods between meals, such as by avoiding snacking and intermittent fasting.

Lowering insulin resistance will signal the body to automatically reduce fat stores, by increasing activity levels and correcting satiety levels. More activity and smaller meals are the *result* of fat loss, not the cause.

Finally, it is necessary to address the underlying emotional needs which cause carbohydrates addiction. Healthier substitutes such as walks, coffee, meditation, exercise, or just more sleep can reduce the dependency to derive endorphins from frequent carbohydrate consumption.

As I’ve discovered these ideas over the last month, I achieved dramatic success with my own health. I now have a healthy BMI for the first time in years and am rapidly moving towards my goal of 10% body fat without calorie restrictions or exercise. By switching to a low carb, high-fat diet and adding periods of intermittent fasting (a restricted daily eating window) I achieved a steady loss of 2.7 pounds per week.

Furthermore, I found that daily walks, coffee, and a concerted effort to get more sleep reduced my need to constantly snack to find emotional balance.

So, here is my one trick to lose belly fat overnight:

Extend your nighttime fasting period:
Don’t eat anything after eight pm or before noon. Have a glass of water with sea salt (to replenish electrolytes) before bed. Your body will use up the remaining sugar in the blood and enter fat-burning mode overnight, and you will pee out the ketones in the morning. Weigh yourself every morning to motivate yourself and track progress.

Welcome to the experience economy, where ownership is a hobby

I love the awesome stuff you can get these days. I was born in Soviet Ukraine and grew up before the internet, before cell phones, before the smart-everything, connected-everything, disposable-everything era. Don’t even get me started about groceries. My second favorite thing about the United States is Costco and their cheap five-pound strawberry crates, giant cheese wedges, and more.

But as much I love stuff, I hate owning things. Ownership is a drag. As soon as I acquire anything, it begins to decay, get outdated, and lose its relevance to me. Every single possession is a liability and a responsibility.

I got a two-pound bag of Costco frozen shrimp the other day, and when I went to put it in my freezer, I couldn’t fit it because I forgot that I got the same thing a few weeks ago. I had to defrost and eat that shrimp ASAP even though I was looking forward to burgers that night. I know, first world problems.

Ownership is a drag on your physical, mental, and financial freedom.

Ownership is a drag on your physical, mental, and financial freedom. I thought I lost my camera tripod and started shopping around for another one—until I found my old one in the closet. I have at least five things of superglue in the house. According to professional organizer Regina Lark, there are 300,000 items in the average American home. We’ve had to triple the size of the average American home over the last 50 years, and many of us still have to rent offsite storage.

The cost of a thing goes far beyond the sticker price. You must allocate physical space to store it and mental space to keep track of it. Then there is the constant mental cost of worrying about it. Nothing lasts forever, and things start to decay as soon as you acquire them—both literally and in your mind. My “indestructible” tungsten-carbide wedding band suddenly shattered after nine years. I thought it would be my only possession to outlast me. Buddhists saw “suffering due to constant change” as one of the three kinds of suffering and advocated the renouncement of all desire as the solution.

Such is the age of mass production, when products and tastes change constantly, unpredictably, forever.

Besides physical rot, there is comparative rot when possessions become outdated compared to new versions today or irrelevant to the you that is now and not the you of 10 years ago. Such is the age of mass production, when products and tastes change constantly, unpredictably, forever.

I don’t advocate renouncing all material things, just renouncing attachment to material things. To get the most out of the modern world, you must learn to value experiences, not things. I love driving my little turbocharged Honda Civic. I hate owning a car. Vehicle registration only costs $20 in Georgia, but I start worrying about it months before my birthday (all vehicle registrations expire on your birthday here).

I love the look and feel of my anodized aluminum MacBook Pro. I love how my iPhone is an ever-present connection to all of human knowledge and that my Apple Watch tracks my every move and gives me little daily activity and meditation goals. I like having a cozy apartment right next to my office, with its grill, pool, and punching bag.

What I value is the experience of using the product. It’s intangible, but it’s the thing that actually adds value to my life.

I try to own all these things as little as possible. I rent, I finance my Civic, my computer was provided by my company, and my iPhone is financed by Apple and my Apple Watch through my health insurance. Modern society forces me to own all these things to an extent, but I eagerly give up the privilege when I can. What I value is the experience of using the product. It’s intangible, but it’s the thing that actually adds value to my life. If my iPhone screen ever cracked, it would annoy the heck out of me, and I would immediately change it out for an identical new model with zero regrets or pain. Such is the wonder of mass production. Every year, Apple gives me a new iPhone and Aetna gives me a new Apple Watch. It’s the ownership experience that I value, not the thing.

Welcome to the experience economy, where each individual is free to focus their time and energy on their area of comparative advantage.

One day soon, owning things will be a hobby while everyone else will pay for ready-made experiences. We are getting there. For example, a middle-class millennial with a fully stocked kitchen is likely to enjoy cooking as an end in itself, while most of her peers go out or buy meal kits. Having a home library is a hobby—for everyone else, there are Kindles and YouTube tutorials. A home with a meticulous formal dining room and stocked bar is a hobby, while everyone else goes out to Ted’s Montana Grill (or maybe that’s just me). When self-driving cars take off, car ownership will be a hobby for auto enthusiasts, while everyone else will take a self-driving Uber, or Waymo, or whatever wins out. Welcome to the experience economy, where each individual is free to focus their time and energy on their area of comparative advantage.

In the old days, before the industrial era, we lived in a commodity economy: you bought hay to feed your horse to ride into town for a hoedown. The Industrial Revolution brought the product economy: you could buy a nice car and roll to the club in style.

In the post-industrial era, the post-ownership service economy, you take an Uber. We are now entering the experience economy, where your Uber, or airline seat, or AirBnB is expected to offer an integrated, immersive experience, not just get you from A to B or a bed for the night.

In Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age, the poor have access to a faucet that provides an endless stream of 3D-printed stuff which can be recycled for any other item while only the wealthy have access to handmade goods. We’re not there yet. Today, people hoard stuff because it takes money to acquire things. Because people live paycheck to paycheck, they can’t count on access to money when they need it, so they hoard possessions. Become financially secure so you can rest assured that you will be able to get a thing when you truly need it and let someone else value it in the meantime. Strive to own things just-in-time rather than just-in-case.

Let go of the idea that possessions will bring happiness or that they are irreplaceable. Don’t make your home a spaceship—a self-contained ecosystem that is expected to provide for all your needs. The world is full of places, experiences, and things you can enjoy without the burden of owning them.

One day, we’ll print anything we want in a Star Trek-style replicator, but today, to embrace the sharing economy, you must become entrepreneurial. Master selling your old stuff on eBay so you can get rid of it as soon as you no longer need it. Rent out your car on Turo so it generates income when you’re not using it. Borrow rather than buy, rent rather than own. Look for opportunities to monetize your idle assets and hobbies.

Above all, don’t judge your success at life by how much you own. When I moved to China, I sold or gave away all my books and got a Kindle. My wife sent all her rare and out-of-print Montessori books to a service that digitized them to put on the iPad. We forever eliminated the anchor of hundreds of books from our life and freed ourselves to move anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. The experience of living in a variety of places around the country and the world is far more valuable than a house filled with stuff.

Things are a chain that sucks away your money and your life force. Experiences are valuable. Relationships are valuable. Owning stuff is a drag.

Why Hollywood villains have become politically correct

According to the “nothing about us without us” principle of intersectionality, it is verboten to present racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc without being a member of the victim group.

As a result, creators not allowed to have their *villains* have such traits unless the writer/producer themselves are in the victim group. For example, the left forced Chinese-American writer Amélie Wen Zhao to withdraw her debut fantasy novel containing slavery because, even though Chinese immigrants experienced racism, they were not actually enslaved.

The only evil which remains a fair target for all? Wealth. Nevermind that virtually none of the writers have any experience with how wealth is created. Capitalists oppress everyone, and therefore, and therefore it is always safe to portray them as evil.

The intersectional concept of “nothing about us without us” was first identified as “polylogism” by Ludwig von Mises in “Theory and History.” Polylogism is the belief that different groups of people reason in fundamentally different ways. This concept has two popular sources:

Karl Marx taught that thought is determined by the thinker’s class position. There is no such thing as truth, only ideology.

The Nazis adapted classist polylogism into racialist polylogism. They believed that thought was determined by “blood and race” – hence the rejection of Einstein’s theory of relativity as “Jewish physics.” For example, US Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor engaged in racialist polylogism when she said that a “wise Latina” would follow different legal principles than a white male.

Polylogism implies a rejection of the very concept of fiction: fiction requires the author to empathize with characters who are unlike him. Even if the protagonist is auto-biographical, other characters cannot all be the author’s clones. Yet this is precisely what the left demands: while it talks about empathy and understanding, they ultimately reject any such possibility.