The Long Game 151: Raising Your Testosterone, Mental Health & Millennials, Optimism & Curiosity, Embracing the Grind
🥞 Stacks, Brazil, Energy Drinks, Beauty Filters, Pivots, Commitment, Happiness, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Raising your testosterone
Millennial mental health crisis
Optimism & curiosity
Embracing the grind
Let’s dive in!
📈 Notes on How to Raise Your Testosterone
This is a great resource for all men looking to boost their testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a hormone that affects various aspects of our health, including muscle mass, bone density, mood, and sex drive.
Getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Managing stress can help prevent the buildup of cortisol, a hormone that can reduce testosterone levels.
Eating a diet that's rich in protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients can help support testosterone production.
Exercise, particularly strength training and high-intensity interval training, can increase testosterone levels.
Getting enough vitamin D, either through sun exposure or supplements, is important for maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption can help prevent reductions in testosterone levels.
Reducing sugar intake can help prevent insulin resistance, which can affect testosterone levels.
Avoiding or limiting exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates and BPA, can help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Managing weight and avoiding obesity can help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting may increase testosterone levels in men, but more research is needed.
Avoiding or limiting consumption of soy products may help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Consuming natural aphrodisiacs, such as oysters and red meat, may help increase testosterone levels.
Getting enough zinc, either through diet or supplements, can help support testosterone production.
It's important to speak with a healthcare professional if you're experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, such as fatigue, decreased sex drive, or depression.
Engaging in regular sexual activity can help increase testosterone levels.
Avoiding chronic inflammation through a healthy diet and lifestyle can help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Taking certain supplements, such as ashwagandha and fenugreek, may help support healthy testosterone levels.
Avoiding or minimizing exposure to blue light from electronic devices in the evening can help improve sleep quality and support healthy testosterone levels.
Finally, maintaining social connections and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment can help support overall health, including healthy testosterone levels.
🧠 The Mental Health Crisis Has Hit Millennials
Here’s another look at mental health in society, with a focus on millennials this time:
Millennials and Gen Z are experiencing higher rates of mental illness than previous generations.
Factors contributing to the mental illness crisis include increased social media use, economic insecurity, and the decline of social institutions.
Social media can contribute to mental illness by creating unrealistic standards and promoting social comparison, as well as by exposing users to online harassment and bullying.
Economic insecurity, including high levels of debt and low levels of job security, can contribute to anxiety and depression.
The decline of social institutions, such as churches and civic organizations, can lead to social isolation and loneliness.
The mental illness crisis is affecting not only individuals but also communities and society as a whole.
Treatment for mental illness can be difficult to access and stigmatized, which can prevent individuals from seeking help.
Prevention efforts should focus on promoting healthy habits, such as exercise and social connection, as well as addressing structural factors contributing to the crisis.
Addressing the mental illness crisis requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves individuals, communities, and policymakers.
Finally, there is hope for addressing the mental illness crisis, but it requires acknowledging the problem and taking action to promote mental health and well-being.
🧠 Better Thinking
✨ Optimism & Curiosity
A great message to meditate on:
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🔨 Embrace the Grind
I already shared this one a few months (years?) ago, but it’s worth re-reading frequently.
I often have people newer to the tech industry ask me for secrets to success. There aren’t many, really, but this secret — being willing to do something so terrifically tedious that it appears to be magic — works in tech too.
We’re an industry obsessed with automation, with streamlining, with efficiency. One of the foundational texts of our engineering culture, Larry Wall’s virtues of the programmer, includes laziness:
Laziness: The quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful and document what you wrote so you don’t have to answer so many questions about it.
I don’t disagree: being able to offload repetitive tasks to a program is one of the best things about knowing how to code. However, sometimes problems can’t be solved by automation. If you’re willing to embrace the grind you’ll look like a magician.
📚 What I Read
🥞 Everybody Has a “Stack” Now
From building muscle to sleeping through the night, the “optimize everything" mindset is coming for us all.
A stack, in its most basic form, is basically just a bunch of stuff. In optimizer-brain parlance, sunlight, exercise, and rest are all stackable. But it most often refers to nutritional supplements, which are unregulated and range widely in their ingredients, from vitamin C to caffeine to things like tianeptine, which has earned the name “gas station heroin.” (Not a good component for most stacks.)
Before Silicon Valley executives were optimizing for peak email response times and/or eternal life, meatheads were more than familiar with the concept of the stack. A 1998 article about MLB slugger Mark McGwire’s advanced supplement routine notes that one of his old reliables, Androstenedione, was available in a supplement bundle called “Andro-Flav Stack” produced by Great Earth Vitamins. The company’s marketing manager—located not in Silicon Valley but Long Island—said the stack was “very popular,” with the 18 to 35-year-old “muscle-head.”
📰 The Cure to AI-Disinformation is More AI-Disinformation
Why we need fake news to know what's true.
The notion that information traffic can be policed is a relic of the 20th century. It worked in the old, centralized world, but in a distributed world like ours, the information-space is too vast and unpredictable to be top-down regulated.
Brandolini’s law states: “the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” What this means is that, despite the best efforts of moderators, misinformation will always greatly outnumber information. But it also means that misinformation spreads faster and further than information, so by the time moderators have identified a meme as false and are ready to moderate it, it’s already infected countless minds and cemented itself in the public consciousness. Censors beware: online, you cannot police the present; only the past.
Brandolini’s law is not the only rule counting against online censorship; the Anna Karenina principle suggests that, since there are countless ways to be wrong but only a few ways to be right, those correcting misinformation will accidentally produce misinformation far more often than those promoting misinformation will accidentally produce truth. Censors often have no more idea of what is true than those they censor (see: lab leak hypothesis), so they are fundamentally unqualified to dictate what the rest of us are allowed to see.
🤔 Why Do Women Online Blow Relationship Issues Out Of Proportion?
Why women online constantly encourage one another to escalate small or nonexistent misdeeds into existential relationship threats
When I was pregnant, I joined a forum for women who were all having babies in the same month. A user, I’ll call her J, complained that while she was feeding her baby breakfast one morning, her husband came up to her and said, “I have the whole day free. What can I do to be most helpful?” Overwhelmed by caring for her baby and sleep deprivation, she snapped: “I’m too burned out to know what needs to be done. You should know what needs to be done!” Her husband walked away dejectedly. J never updated us about whether her husband found a way to make himself useful, or spent the rest of the day eating Doritos and playing video games.
At the time, I was surprised that no one defended J’s husband. That punishing a man for offering to help around the house is a great way to ensure he never offers to help again didn’t seem to occur to anyone. Instead, everyone maligned the husband for imposing “mental load” or “emotional labor” on J. And a few complained that their husbands asked how they could help in the same way.
In online spaces like pregnancy and childcare forums, women seek advice, ruminate about their anxieties, and commiserate about their relationships with partners and family. The support they get — and give — is usually helpful. But online, women seem to rarely do anything other than unconditionally support each other, regardless of how frivolous a complaint is. So why do women in online spaces give each other unconditionally supportive, sometimes terrible relationship advice? This behavior actually gets at the heart of the complicated ways that women socialize with one another. Let’s take a closer look.
This state makes me sick with love. It’s pollen season and my face has been swollen for weeks. I can’t walk down the street without running into someone I know. I cry outside of Rintaro. I drink two glasses of white wine in a sushi restaurant on Chestnut Street and wake up hungover the next day. I do crow pose, headstand, king pigeon in yoga class. In shavasana my body vibrates with pleasure. I have several friends who are obsessed with meditation, awakening. Are they seeking? Seeing?
I love California because it’s so extremely beautiful. B says I’m obsessed with beauty, pleasure, privilege. He has a new baby. In my second favorite cafe a dad flirts with me. Or does he? He’s holding his daughter, who’s wearing a pastel hat.
It doesn’t matter what I lose so long as I can write. Whatever happens to California, I want to live here as long as I can. I don’t control my writing, intellectually or emotionally. It controls me. I don’t control what I love, intellectually or emotionally. It controls me.
I’m willing to start over as many times as necessary. I’m willing to take care of you until I die. Are those two things irreconcilable? I am changed by what I keep in my life, and what I throw away.
🛣 find novelty through commitment
what optionality promises, commitment delivers
the novelty of commitment
I’ve noticed that most people who struggle with commitment seem to think that it represents the death of novelty, optionality, and expansiveness. That when you commit, you stop trying new things—you cease to explore. But the secret about commitment is: it offers everything that optionality promises, but with more depth and dimension. When we commit to something, we allow ourselves to surrender and feel safe within our commitment. Through commitment, we expand deeper into our feelings, because we are given a container to relax into, to fill entirely, that lets us explore ourselves with more vigour and curiosity.
Commitment simply refines the spectrum of novelty we experience. When we refuse to commit to anything, our life ends up being a giant swirl of chaos, options, and loose ends. So much so that we hardly enjoy these new experiences, because we’re not fully present for them. We’re always preoccupied with the next one, with how we are going to land on our feet when we thrust ourselves from this moment into a new pocket of stimulation. The lack of stability bred through the constant pursuit of optionality ends up being a distraction from the ‘benefits’ we looked to novelty for in the first place. It’s easy to think that through novelty, we get to know ourselves deeper. Which is true—to a point. There are only so many layers within ourselves that we can access by existing in a constantly changing, never stable internal world. Through novelty, we gain breadth. We notice how we react in different situations, what we are like when experiencing new people, places, things. But through commitment, we gain depth. We notice what happens when we need to sit with something, even when it’s making us uncomfortable. We notice how we act when we want to escape ourselves, but remain tethered to our commitment. Or in other words, through commitment, we deepen inwards. This is the entire aim of commitment: to sink into something, to let yourself fully surrender. When we refuse to do this, we end up contracting our ability to be at ease within ourselves. By avoiding commitment, we end up in a state of self-avoidance.
🍭 Brain Food
🤝 Top Performers Have a Superpower: Happiness
This is an interesting article linking high performance to happiness, and not in the way we usually think.
The article highlights the correlation between happiness and job performance, suggesting that happy employees are more productive, creative, and engaged in their work. The author emphasizes the importance of creating a positive work environment, offering growth opportunities, and recognizing employee achievements to foster happiness. Prioritizing employee well-being can lead to a cycle of positivity and a competitive advantage in the marketplace, reducing turnover costs, improving customer service, and building positive relationships with clients. The article concludes that happiness is a crucial ingredient for success, and leaders should create a culture of trust, respect, and positivity to promote employee well-being.
The toll that working through the global pandemic has taken on employees’ job satisfaction and emotional well-being has focused business leaders on fostering workforce happiness as never before. While many — if not most — of us are motivated by genuine caring for the people who power our organizations, we also intuitively know that employee happiness should boost job performance. Still, two nagging questions remain: Which comes first, succeeding and then being happy, or being happy and then succeeding? And just how much does initial happiness matter?
The results of our recent research, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, have gotten us one big step closer to answering those two questions. For our study, we followed almost 1 million U.S. Army soldiers for nearly five years. We first asked them to rate their well-being — their happiness, if you will — along with their optimism, and then tracked which soldiers later received awards based on their job performance. We collected our data in the midst of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so the stakes were high: Some of those awards were for exemplary assigned job performance, while others were earned for extraordinary performance in heroic actions. Receiving an award in the Army, either for exemplary job performance or for heroism, is a relatively rare event. Of the nearly 1 million soldiers in our sample, only 12% received an award of any type during the five years that we ran the study.
While we expected that well-being and optimism would matter to performance, we were taken aback by just how much they mattered. We saw four times as many awards earned by the initially happiest soldiers (upper quartile) compared with those who were unhappiest initially (lower quartile) — a huge difference in performance between those groups. This gap held when we accounted for status (officers versus enlisted soldiers), gender, race, education, and other demographic characteristics. In fact, happiness — and, to a somewhat lesser extent, optimism — were better predictors of awards than any demographic factor we examined.
🎥 What I’m Watching
🇧🇷 Brazil: the troubled rise of a global power
Rio is my favorite city, I hope to move there for a few years one day. This is an interesting video to understand Brazil.
📸 We need to talk about this Tiktok filter | Bold Glamour Explained
🔧 The Tool of the Week
🔋 Gorilla Mind Energy Drinks
I haven’t tried those as they don’t ship to Europe yet, but the breakdown of this new energy drink by MPMD was phenomenal.
I’ve recently become a fan of energy drinks & pre-workouts. I find that they enable me to bring the workouts to the next level of intensity.
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
You simply cannot mix your messages when selling something new. A consumer can barely handle one great new idea, let alone two.
— James Dyson
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Until next week,
Doubled my T after starting cold showers and mouth taping at night. Same diet, same exercise, same weight. N=1. I’m skeptical of the bad rap soy gets.