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Live Better By Reducing Stimulation

In an age of abundance, stimulation is not difficult to attain. It is now possible to get a Big Mac or donuts that are higher in fat and sugar than our ancestors would have ever conceived. At the same time, stimulation through media or various other outlets can be found in almost all living rooms and theme parks. In general, technology allows humans to stimulate themselves in a extremely wide variety of ways. However, this stimulation comes at a cost. With increased stimulation comes desensitization and an unsustainable search for the next fun, delicious, *insert stimuli here*, great thing. By weaning yourself off mainstream levels of stimulation, you can greatly increase the amount of enjoyment in your life relative to others.

Enjoyment is Relative

One of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon is food. As I mentioned in my previous post about building a business with an optimized diet, health is very important to me. Through abstinence from certain foods, I have found a totally new enjoyment where I would have never expected. People view my excitement over certain foods and events in bewilderment due to the relatively small amount of stimulation I require in order to be happy.

Other than 85% cocoa dark chocolate, I eat no refined sugar at all. Any sugar that I do eat comes from fruit. In fact, as juice alters the natural sugar balance in the consumption of a fruit, I avoid it altogether. For me, fruits are sweet and are an absolute treat. In one situation, the same exact orange that was bitter to my sister, was deliciously sweet for me. While genetically different senses of taste exist, there is definitely a connection between my taste buds and the lack of refined sugar in my diet.

When I started eating 85% dark chocolate, it was also quite bitter for me. In fact, I was not a fan at all, but after a while it started to grow on me. Now, with only 5 grams of sugar per large serving, 85% dark chocolate is delicious, sweet, and completely satisfies me. While I have not yet tried, I would assume milk or white chocolate is probably too sweet. This all stems from reducing the level of stimulation to my taste buds so lower levels give me great pleasure.

Life is Good

In general, the more you can reduce the stimulation in your life, the better off you will be. While this might seem like some religious abstinence mentality, it is just a sustainable and more natural way of living life.

As I rarely watch television or movies, the things that I do watch are amazing. The comedy in some of my favorite shows makes me laugh harder than most. In my daily life, this translates to finding normally occurring things in life quite comical. Most people go through their day unsatisfied and unhappy and while there are a number of reasons for this, I’d suggest a low level of stimulation doesn’t give them the enjoyment that it offers me.

For a more tangible example, I’ll briefly look at drug abuse and caffeine usage. Anyone who has used caffeine to improve alertness will relate that as time goes on, it takes more and more to get the same feeling. At the beginning, a cup of coffee will help you get through the entire day. Before you know it, you’re drinking three cups of coffee before lunch and energy drinks in the afternoon. In contrast, the 85% dark chocolate has enough caffeine to make me extremely focused, energetic, and hyperactive in a way that it would not affect most people. In the same way, drug users require more and more of their drug of choice in order to get the same feeling – they are increasing their stimulation threshold.

Enjoy the Simple Things

While it might sound cliché to say this, life itself should be the drug. Due to a lower requirement for stimulation, the sun shining or an interesting squirrel outside can add great enjoyment for me. I feel ecstatic for the most mundane foods, and overall my level of pleasure from simple things is astounding. This is due to many things, but I believe much of this stems from reducing stimulation. In the same way that Buddhist monks can be the poorest and yet happiest people on Earth, you too can attain this by reducing the stimulation in your life.

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by Connor Kozlov

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my article. I'm Austin, TX based and I love the Paleo diet, meditation, proper fitness, and entrepreneurship. But I'm really about PLAY!

14 comments… add one

  1. Not sure about all the food stuff, but enjoying the little things is so important. Going outside for a walk is amazing. Really great point. I think everyone knows this, but getting a reminder every now and then is really cool

    1. Absolutely. Getting a constant reminder is the only thing the brain really understands. If you are able to internalize any kind of message, you’ll have a much better response at the end of the day.

      I actually like to go for a walk as my meditation. Moving meditation is fabulous for people who have a hard time sitting still / quietly.

  2. Yeah, I noticed that fruit is a lot sweeter without all types of cookies and candies.

    1. They are delicious! Berries and MANGO especially :)

  3. This sounds like a ton of new-age crap to me. I’d be surprised if it made any difference at all.

    1. To some people, you are probably right. It is hard to understand and conceptualize without the proper context. Have you ever been on a diet? If you cut out a certain food, wasn’t it so much better when you finally had it again?

  4. OK, how the hell do you eat 85% dark chocolate?

    1. Hehe, all based on taste. I have gone to a point where I don’t need much sugar in order for it to taste delicious.

  5. “Life is good” – absolutely, my friend.

    1. I try to be in this mindset at all times :)

  6. Depriving yourself of anything really helps to define your relationship with it. When I had a lot of fat and I went off of any carbs completely (except in leafy green vegetables), I noticed how much I craved them and wanted them. It was literally a nightmare for the first few days and even weeks, but eventually I got it figured out and everything worked out quite nicely. Now my body is just happy with the low amount of carbs in vegetables.

    1. I absolutely agree. Talking about deprivation, I would recommend this article: http://www.startupbros.com/input-deprivation-week-forcing-action-by-killing-information-addictions/

  7. Dark chocolate is definitely a matter of taste. I had a girlfriend about 15 years ago that got me to start eating it, though until then it really wasn’t that available except in the cooking aisle. That said, these days my 5yo and several of his buddies chow down on and prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate. Even though I grew up on milk chocolate, these days I don’t find it all that appealing.

    1. It is amazing, isn’t it? I started off enjoying milk chocolate as well, but my mother only ever bought dark chocolate. I ate darker and darker and have not looked back yet!


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