The surprising happiness secret

Welcome to the positive corner of wellness. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If...

Welcome to the positive corner of wellness. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Member of the week

  • The surprising happiness secret

  • Recipe of the week

Member of the Week

You might have seen my interaction on Twitter with Dave Danna. The whole thing actually inspired me to find someone on Twitter to pump up every day because a lot of my fans said they never see positivity online, and I thought, “Well, let’s show them we have the power to change that." Since we tweeted, Dave’s become a member of our village, so he’s our member of the week. Besides his relentless optimism, which I love, he’s also had an incredible transformation. If you need more inspiration, here’s his Instagram, too. He sent this image:

The surprising happiness secret

Tell us about your fitness journey.

My fitness journey started in June of 2022 when I realized I couldn’t figure out how much I weighed because my scale only went up to 400 pounds; that was my wake-up call that something had to change. I’m not an expert on working out, and I’m not an expert on diet, but I knew I had to change. I joined a gym for the first time in my life at 30 years old and over 400 pounds. I cut out fast food and junk food, drinking my calories, packaged food and highly processed foods, drinking alcohol, and a lot of the sugar I had been eating. I also started to focus on my mental health, something we as men need to do more. After 4 weeks of diet and exercise, I finally got a weight on my scale, 399.9, on June 29, 2022. As of last week, I’m down 80+ pounds and now weight 320.1 pounds. I’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn!

What’s your message to our village?

My message to the village is that despite all the negativity online, there is still so much to be positive about, thankful for, and grateful for. When I thought about my future one day being a husband and a father, I want to be a positive healthy role model for my future kids; I couldn’t do that at 400+ pounds, having trouble getting up the stairs and tying my shoes. One thing I’d add is that I understand the anxiety of walking into a gym for the first time; when I did that last year, I was 400+ pounds. I understand the anxiety and intimidation of not knowing how to use any of the machines and being the largest guy in the gym. I found it one of the most positive, supportive places I’ve ever been, online and in person. Everyone there wants me to succeed and wants me to be there, I belong there, even at 400lbs+, not knowing anything. No man is an island.

What’s your goal for this year?

My goal this year is to get under 200 pounds; I’ve got about 120 pounds to go! I would also like to start doing more strength training and continue my journey of learning how to build muscle as I lose weight and get healthy in a safe and sustainable manner. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

The Surprising Happiness Secret

What do you do when you're feeling a little down? If we had to guess, you're probably not thinking about the end of your life. But it could be the unsuspecting pick-me-up you need.

That's because thinking about death can help increase happiness, connection with others, and gratitude.

A study in Psychological Science discovered that people who thought about their death were more empathetic and more likely donate their time, money, and even their blood. And researchers from Kentucky found that thinking about death can increase fulfillment.

For me (it's Adam), the last few months have been challenging. Last month, my father-in-law passed away, this month I lost my grandfather, and I'm watching my father battle terminal brain cancer. This is a positive space, but part of life is learning to cope with disappointment, doubt, and death. We all get knocked down, but how we bounce back is what matters.

The thing that helped me get through this difficult time? Thinking about my mortality, which I first learned about from reading The Comfort Crisis.

As the article explains, confronting death can help you live the type of life that will make you proud. In my case, appreciating our limited time has helped me become more present and grateful. It's made it easier to process the sadness of loss without being completely overwhelmed by it.

“When you start to understand that death is coming, that the cliff is coming, you see things differently.”

Combined with a memento mori mindset — a stoic philosophy that helps you appreciate the limited time we have — it’s made it easier to move forward while still having the space to grieve. You don't need to be coping with death to see benefits of accepting the inevitability of life. Accepting our fears and frustrations (or even failures) rather than hiding from them can remove their power and help us make the most of our days.

Recipe of the Week

Hey everybody, it’s Daniel. I love to eat. Arnold actually calls me the “Fresse Machine.” Apparently, in German, Fressen is the verb for animals eating, so that gives you an idea about how much I love food. I also love to cook. That can be a bad combo for someone who is busy and also wants to stay as lean as possible, so what I’ve settled on is that lunch is my routine, boring, healthy and fast meal.

Almost every day if I am working from home, I’ll eat the same thing, and that makes it easy to stay on track. I do some variation of this, and despite the fact that it’s simple, my wife also loves it. Besides being healthy and fast, it’s also quite inexpensive. Eating the same thing for lunch every day and knowing I’ve got one very healthy meal under my belt lets me go a little more wild at dinner. You’ll also notice I only measure oil, because I don’t have much patience for measurements. But I’ve learned over the years that not measuring olive oil or butter when I’m cooking is a recipe for not being lean.

The Lean Lunch

  • 5-6 handfuls of spinach

  • 2 cucumbers, sliced

  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, all sliced in half

  • 2 pinches parmesan

  • 1 avocado, halved and sliced

  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, shredded (you can make your own, grab the store-bought rotisserie chickens and shred them the night before, or buy the pre-shredded package in the deli aisle. I’m a parent with a job, I’m not judging you)

  • Tiny pour of vinegar of choice (I use a fancy pear champagne vinegar, sometimes balsamic, figure out how much you like by starting very small)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (good olive oil makes a big, big difference. This is one place where I don’t go cheap)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Throw it all into a big bowl and mix aggressively. Add the oil and vinegar and mix again. Taste and add vinegar if you need it. Add salt and pepper. Mix one last time, and serve for you and your significant other (add more if you have more than two people at home, they’re going to want it). I normally add some delicious bread from a bakery near our house on the side. Today, I started with an intense training session and then did conference calls while I walked three miles with a 60 pound ruck, so don’t judge the amount of bread.

The surprising happiness secret

The surprising happiness secret

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