If you’re like most Americans, your bad daily habits are dragging you down and you don’t feel like you own this one precious life you have. In this book summary of Own the Day, Own Your Life, you’ll learn the best practices for making the most of each part of your day.
Life gets better one day at a time.
READ THIS BOOK SUMMARY IF YOU:
- Are chronically exhausted
- Want to treat your body and brain better
- Feel like you could get more out of your day if you just knew how
You can build a better life one day at a time if you know how best to optimize those days. Most Americans have fallen into a cycle of bad habits, starting with sugar and caffeine first thing in the morning and ending with blue light from cellphones last thing at night. In between, they feel depressed, anxious, exhausted, and purposeless. It’s time to break the cycle. If you can own one day, one day at a time, you can own your life.
Water. Light. Movement.
Most people are in a cycle of bad habits from first thing in the morning. Although sleep should ideally be governed by the circadian cycle of sunlight and darkness, the average person instead delays exposing themselves to sunlight as long as possible, staying in bed until the opportunity to get to work on time has passed. Then they immediately fly out of bed, take a hot shower, drink some coffee, and head out to their commute.
Nowhere in that routine is consideration for what your body really needs first thing in the morning: hydration, sunlight, and movement. Without taking those three steps upon waking, you’re setting yourself up for an uphill battle all day.
Think about hydration. When you wake up, you’ve gone eight hours (hopefully) without drinking anything, then dehydrated your body further by taking a scalding hot shower and drinking coffee, when what you really need is water. Research has shown that mild dehydration can bring on headaches, irritability, and fatigue. Yet most people medicate for those problems with coffee rather than good oldfashioned water.
To get the most out of your morning water, mix 12 ounces of water with 3 grams of sea salt and a quarter of a lemon. The sea salt will help you to retain water while simultaneously delivering minerals to your body. Then, of course, drink water throughout the day to stave off the effects of dehydration.
Next, right your circadian rhythm by exposing yourself to blue light, preferably from the sun. This is your body’s natural cue to wake up. Finally, it’s important to move within the first 20 minutes of being awake. Any kind of movement will signal to your body that it’s time to get up and start being productive, whether it’s a few cycles of sun salutations, a walk around the block with your dog, or a few minutes of dynamic stretching.
Deep Breath, Deep Freeze
Your body is capable of much more than you give it credit for. Consider Wim Hof, who’s broken more than 20 extreme sports records, including running a marathon above the Arctic Circle, shirtless. He’s called The Iceman and is famous for his tolerance for cold. You might think this is just a case of one man with a particularly cold-tolerant body chemistry, but Hof has successfully taught others to tolerate the cold as well.
The biggest threat to early humans were the elements, and human stress responses evolved to deal with them. Today, however, most Americans don’t expose themselves to the kind of acute stress Wim Hof subjects his body to. If you’re cold, there’s usually a way to get warm; if you’re hot, you can turn on the airconditioning. So the body instead uses those stress reactions in response to mundane events that don’t really merit the anxiety they cause — things like emails, deadlines, and social situations.
Acute stress builds willpower. So right after you’ve done your morning water– light–movement routine, it’s time to expose yourself to “the elements,” or at least a cold shower. You don’t have to be in cold water the entire time, but at the end of your shower, turn the hot water off and practice Wim Hof’s breathing technique: First inhale into your belly with 30 to 50 power breaths. When you exhale, don’t put any effort into it; let your body do the work. Keep your pace steady and keep going until you start to feel tingling in your hands and feet. The second step is to draw the breath in one more time, fill your lungs completely, exhale effortlessly, and then hold your lungs empty for as long as you can tolerate. Getting comfortable with physical discomfort will train your brain to withstand emotional discomfort too.
More Fat, Less Sugar, or Don’t Eat
Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day — every meal is important. But most people start their day with a load of sugar and caffeine. The sugar loads insulin into your bloodstream, leading to a high and a crash before you even get to lunch. This leaves you roller-coastering through your energy and emotions, and exhausted and irritable to boot.
At breakfast, give yourself the macronutrients you need to power you through the day. Replace sugar with fat. Fat isn’t nearly as bad for you as it’s been made out to be. In fact, studies have shown that people who eat large amounts of healthy fats weigh the least. Fat metabolizes more slowly than carbohydrates do, meaning that a breakfast of walnuts, avocado, eggs, and coconut oil will provide you with a smoother, longer-lasting store of energy. But again, breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. If you can’t find a way to get fats in your breakfast, you’re better off skipping it than setting a sugar bomb off in your body first thing in the morning.
Drive Time, Alive Time
It’s useful to think about the way you spend your time as either “alive time” or “dead time.” In alive time, you’re aware, engaged, and open to the world around you. But most people spend their commute as dead time — time that doesn’t belong to you, time in which you’re just getting by until your next task. Your commute doesn’t have to be this way; you can make any time into alive time, including your daily trek to work.
Practicing mindfulness during your commute can be very simple. Use the wide peripheral gaze. In this practice, you open your eyes as wide as you can without moving any of your facial muscles, look ahead, keep your gaze on the center of your field of vision (especially important if you’re driving), and become aware of everything in your peripheral vision. Try to be aware of everything going on around you; this will ground you in the present.
Once you’ve done the wide peripheral gaze, become mindful in the present moment, and cut away from your distracted thoughts, you can use your time to learn something new. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. In this way, you can find a moment of peace on your drive to work.
Most people measure their professional effectiveness by how much face time they put in at work. This attitude stems from the belief that just showing up and doing your job will make you happy — that if you have professional success you don’t need to cultivate success elsewhere in your life. But you can’t work enough to make work go away. With a better work/life balance, you work efficiently and effectively, so that you earn what you need and then focus on the things that really give you a sense of purpose. You do your job well and look for happiness elsewhere.
Work better, not just more. First, be conscious of your space — both the space you’re in and the space you take up. Fill your surroundings with sensory cues that make you feel clear-headed and productive. Diffused lemon oil, for instance, can help with productivity. Second, vary your movement throughout the day. Getting up from your desk periodically will make a big difference for your brain and your body. Third, work effectively by eliminating distractions. Your attention is finite; to be efficient with the precious little time you have, you must be selective with it.
Eat a Weird Lunch
At lunch, people too often focus on calories rather than nutrients. They pack their midday meals with anti-nutrients that damage the body rather than replenish it. Don’t worry about calories. Consider the fact that they’re determined by burning food in a metal oven — but your body is not a metal oven. The human body uses food in more complex ways.
To get the most out of your lunch, focus on the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Protein provides structural support to your body, builds your cell walls and muscles, and stabilizes blood sugar. In one day, you don’t need more than 30 grams of protein — any more than that will just make digestion harder.
Carbohydrates break down into fiber and sugar. There are three kinds of fiber. Soluble fiber levels out blood sugar spikes. Insoluble fiber helps move food through your digestive tract. Fermentable fiber is considered a prebiotic — it feeds your gut bacteria. Sugar metabolizes quickly, causing blood sugar spikes. Because fat and fiber take longer to digest, they slow down those spikes.
Fats are the unsung heroes of macronutrients, but they’ve gotten a bad rap. Recently, researchers have found that cholesterol probably won’t kill you after all; toolow cholesterol is actually very bad for the human body.
The more weird foods you eat and the more diverse your diet is, the more you’ll support your gut bacteria. Your gut is your “second brain,” contributing not only to your physical health but also your mental health. Pack your own lunch every day and fill it with weird, new foods.
The Binaural Power Nap
Many of us walk around feeling tired from sunup to sundown. Particularly after lunch, energy crashes. There’s a better way to do good work in the afternoon, and that is to listen to your body and take a rest when it’s telling you to. The advantage of packing your own lunch is that you won’t spend time or money tracking lunch down, buying it, and getting back to the office. Instead, you can eat lunch in 15 minutes and spend the rest of your lunch hour taking a binaural power nap. Brain researchers have found that when you listen to sounds or music, the neurons in your brain fire at the same frequency as whatever you’re listening to.
Binaural beats play at frequencies designed to help you achieve particular goals. By listening to slow-wave binaural beats, you can get deeper rest in a shorter period of time, which leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to own your afternoon.
After work, it’s time to train. You likely already know that exercise is practically a miracle drug, doing wonders for the body and the brain. But people avoid it because it’s hard work — and that’s no joke. Exercise is difficult enough when you’re an athlete, but if you’re chronically stressed, tired, and poorly nourished, it’s inevitably going to be a lot harder. That being said, exercise can help counteract the depression and fatigue that kill your motivation to exercise. It’s a positive feedback loop.
Try not to think of exercise as “exercise” but as training: you’re training to achieve your goals and live out your purpose. Your body carries you through that purpose, so you need it to be in proper shape. To have fun with exercise, try unconventional training techniques, using props like kettlebells, steel maces, sandbags, battle ropes, steel clubs, barbells, and your own body weight. All of these force you to move dynamically and challenge your relationship with your center of gravity.
On the most basic level, the important thing is to just start moving. Get up, move around, and have a little fun. Don’t try to use shame, guilt, and fear to motivate yourself. It’s not worth beating yourself up, and that motivation won’t last in the long run.
Reset and Reconnect
Humans are social animals, but technology is making people lonelier. Psychologists are learning that the interactions we have through a screen are a poor substitute for in-person interaction. The resulting loneliness would be bad enough on its own, but it also turns out that loneliness can make you feel physically ill, on top of driving you to chemical alternatives like drugs and booze.
The good news is that being with other people quickly counteracts the effects of loneliness. So once you’re done with your to-dos for the day, disconnect from work and nourish yourself as a human being. First, take time to connect with yourself. If you use marijuana or alcohol, this is the best time to do it. Meditate and center yourself. Next, spend time with others. Reconnect with the people you care about. Play with your kids, hang out with your friends, or roughhouse with your dog. The last thing you should do is jump right back in front of a computer and keep working.
Eat Dinner Like a King
Dinner is an excellent opportunity to share your time with the people you care about. Food is one of life’s simplest and greatest pleasures. Your dinner should serve two purposes: enjoyment, and getting you ready to have sex. Use dinner to send your body good messages about what’s ahead later at night and the next day.
Dinner is a time to relax and indulge — moderately. As you eat, support your digestion by eating slowly and chewing thoroughly. Instead of consuming cold beverages, which slow digestion, eat foods that speed up digestion, such as ginger. Foods that are rich in nitric oxide help you relax, priming you for sex. Bread is one such food, so if you’re going to eat it, dinner should be that time — you’re welcome.
Obviously, no matter how hard you try to avoid sugar, you’re going to eat it sometimes, but there are ways to handle sugar appropriately. First, pair it with fiber and fat; don’t add sugar to an already high-carb meal. For instance, if you’re going to eat rice, either skip dessert or pare it down to a little dark chocolate. Eat sugar after your workout, when your body has depleted some of its glycogen reserves. And, of course, you don’t have to eat the whole dessert — split it with someone.
More, Better Sex
You’d think that with the widespread availability of porn and all varieties of sexual accoutrements, people would be having more sex than ever, but the opposite is the case. Sex is on the decline, mostly because it’s not a priority to a lot of people. There are a few reasons for this: The sex you’re having might just not be very good, you might be insecure about sex because there’s a lot of damaging cultural messaging about it, or your hormones could be out of whack.
This is troubling, because sex is important for your health. It benefits your brain and your mood. The most common excuse people give is that they don’t have the time, but in reality, if you want to have sex, you’ll make the time to do it.
There are a few fairly simple things you can do to get started on the road to better sex. For one, you can boost your testosterone, the hormone that most increases sex drive in both men and women. Eating fat, sleeping well, and exercising — particularly heavy lifting — will increase testosterone levels in your body. Additionally, if you masturbate frequently, it might be time to take a break. If you spank it all the time, you’ll increase your hedonic tolerance, which will make sex less necessary and appealing to you, despite the fact that masturbation and sex have different effects on your mood.
More than anything, better sex is about interactions with your partner. Better communication is the most important part of those interactions. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about each other’s desires, fantasties, preferences, and boundaries.
Turn Off, Tune In
After sex, it’s time to turn off your technology. Internet-connected devices are designed to flood you with information. They thereby take you out of the world around you. These devices often make people feel less human and less connected to their emotions.
At night, turn all your gadgets off. Without them, you might feel a little lost, but you can try journaling, cuddling, tabletop gaming, reading, and personal care to take up that time. If you have a lot of nighttime anxiety and have trouble winding down with or without technology, try to embrace it. Life is tough, and without the toughness, it would be boring and unsatisfying. By giving in and accepting your anxiety, you might be able to work through it. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “no mud, no lotus.”
In addition to having less sex, Americans are sleeping less than ever. Our lives have gotten busier, and the first thing people dispose of when they’re busy is sleep. Work is partly to blame for this; employees are expected to be available all the time. Family and professional obligations even make people feel guilty about sleeping, which is ridiculous.
Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for sleeping. Sleep is a miracle. It’s good for your body, it’s good for your brain, and it’ll improve every aspect of your physical and intellectual performance. Sleep is better for your performance and alertness than caffeine ever will be.
If you’re not a good sleeper, don’t worry — just cycle your sleep. Sleep occurs in 90-minute cycles, and the important thing is to get 35 90-minute cycles every week. So it’s absolutely possible to catch up on sleep within a weeklong period. And if you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t stress out about it.
Insights from Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus
To own the day, you first need to own the morning. As Aristotle once said, “Well begun is half done.” There are four simple yet powerful actions you can take each morning to generate the energy you need to optimize your nutrition, mindset, productivity, performance, fitness, sex, and sleep.
When you go to sleep tonight, you’ll lose approximately one pound of water through exhaling water vapors and sweating under warm sheets. When you lose 1% of your body weight in water, you experience headaches, moodiness, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue. If you lose 2% of your body weight in water, your short-term memory is compromised, and your mental performance suffers. Researchers from Duke University estimate that if we go 100 hours without water, we’ll die. That means, after a full night’s sleep, we’re roughly 10% dead!
In a morning dehydration crisis, most people consume coffee to feel better. Although coffee contains water, it’s not a great way to hydrate. To get the water intake you need to properly rehydrate, you’ll need to consume an abundance of caffeine. Plus, coffee is missing key minerals and electrolytes lost during the night.
Instead of rushing to consume a cup of coffee, drink 12 ounces of water (the size of a red solo cup you see at parties), with a few pinches of pink Himalayan sea salt (3 grams), and lemon juice (¼ lemon) first.
“Sodium (in salt) binds to water in the body to maintain the proper level of hydration inside and outside our cells. Along with potassium, it also helps maintain electrical gradients across cell membranes, which are critical for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and various other functions. Without it, needless to say, we would be toast…Sea salt contains upward of sixty trace minerals…together they are essential for healthy bodily function and contribute meaningfully to optimal performance.” Lemon juice provides the extra potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium you need to feel fully charged.
At the end of your morning shower, hyper-oxygenate your cells with a ‘power breathing’ technique so that you experience a dose of adrenaline and are better able to withstand cold water. Why do you want to withstand cold water? When you transition from hot water to cold water, you create acute stress on the body. Acute cold stress triggers a surge of healthy hormones that repair, protect, and energize your body. When you turn off the cold water and walk out of the shower, you’ll feel great and ready to own the day!
At the end of your morning shower, perform the following ritual:
- Hyper-oxygenate your body with the Wim Hof power breathing technique: inhale through the nose or mouth into the belly and exhale without additional effort, just let the chest fall. Perform 30 deep breaths or until you feel a tingling sensation in your hands and feet.
- Turn the shower handle to the coldest setting. Let cold water hit your chest and continue rhythmic deep breathing until the shock of the cold water fades and you feel as calm as you were before the cold water.
- When you no longer need to breath deeply to withstand the cold, empty your body of air and hold at the bottom of your breath until you experience a gasp reflex. IF YOU FEEL LIGHT-HEADED – SIT DOWN IN THE SHOWER OR RESUME BREATHING NORMALLY.
- Turn off the water, get out of the shower, dry yourself off, and enjoy the rush of energizing hormones!
Your circadian rhythm (inner biological clock) controls your body temperature and triggers the release of cortisol (an energizing hormone that makes you more alert). Your circadian rhythm is partially activated when light hits light receptors in your eyes and ears.
You can hack the start of your circadian rhythm by exposing yourself to intense light indoors or going outdoors to get a few minutes of sunlight. When you take in bright light or sunlight shortly after waking, you give yourself the extra boost of energy you need to own the day (you’ll also fall asleep easier at night).
Here are some common breakfast foods: bread, cereal, muffins, bagels, pancakes, waffles, breakfast bars, fruit, and fruit juice. What do these foods have in common? They’re sugar bombs.
When you consume sugary foods and refined carbohydrates (like bread and cereal), your blood sugar rises quickly, which causes your body to release a flood of insulin. Insulin takes excess blood sugar and transports it to muscle cells and brain cells to be used as fuel. The sugary, refined breakfast foods trigger excess insulin release, which results in too much sugar extracted from the blood. Therefore, after your initial high, you feel sluggish and foggy. To recover blood sugar levels, you search for a sugary snack…and the cycle continues: blood sugar spike -> blood sugar crash -> food cravings.
Avoid this distracting and energy-depleting process by starting your day with healthy fats: avocado with lime juice and sea salt, hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper, bone broth (yup, soup for breakfast! Give it a shot), OR grass-fed butter and coconut oil blended into your coffee. Paradoxically, consuming fat will keep you in a fat-burning zone, which means more energy in the morning and throughout the day. Also, consuming healthy fats makes you feel full longer, so you don’t need to spend your day thinking about food and searching for snacks. Most importantly, when you consume fat instead of sugar or refined carbohydrates, you avoid the blood sugar roller coaster.
Owning the day is an act of self-compassion, a way to honor your dignity as a human being and the body you move around in.
To break away from the bad habits you’ve been cycling through day after day, you have to build an ethos. Learn from your mistakes and look toward the future, owning it one day at a time.
About the author
Aubrey Marcus is the founder and CEO of Onnit, a health company based on the principle of optimization. He hosts the Aubrey Marcus Podcast and works as an advocate for the benefits of psychedelic medicine.
Exercise, Fitness, Nonfiction, Health, Personal Development, Productivity, Psychology, Nutrition, Leadership, Self-Improvement, Success, Motivation and Self-Esteem, Religion and Spirituality, Worship and Devotion
Table of Contents
1 Water. Light. Movement 7
2 Deep Breath, Deep Freeze 29
3 More Fat, Less Sugar, or Don’t Eat 51
4 Essential Supplements 77
5 Drive Time, Alive Time 97
6 The Power Plants 113
7 Doin’ Work 137
8 Eat a Weird Lunch 161
9 The Binaural Power Nap 197
10 Training 209
11 Reset and Reconnect 253
12 Eat Dinner Like a King 269
13 More, Better Sex 303
14 Turn Off, Tune In 325
15 Sleep 343
16 Bring It Home 361
Notes: Here Comes the Science! 379
The founder and CEO of Onnit, the mega lifestyle brand and one of the fastest growing companies in the country, teaches us how one single day of positive choices leads to a lifetime of concrete strategies for better living, optimal performance, and a stronger mind, body, and spirit.
Human optimization thought leader Aubrey Marcus’s personal and professional mission rests on a single question: How can we get the most out of our body and mind on a daily basis?
Marcus answers that question in Own the Day, Own Your Life an empowering handbook that guides readers to optimize every moment of the day, from waking in the morning, through work and play, until bedtime each night. With small, actionable changes implemented throughout the course of one day, we can feel better, perform more efficiently, and live happier. And these daily habits turn into weekly routines, ultimately becoming part of lifelong healthy choices.
From workouts and diet to inbox triage, mindfulness, shower temperature, and sex, this ground-breaking manual provides simple strategies for each element of your day. Drawing from the latest studies and traditional practices from around the world, Own the Day, Own Your Life delivers an optimization philosophy, including cutting-edge life-hacking tips, nutritional expertise, brain upgrades, and fitness regiments.
Own the Day, Own Your Life is a must-have “choose-your-own-adventure” guide for the everyman and everywoman—packed with pragmatic and effective strategies that empower you to enjoy your life, take charge of your health, and own the day.
“The best way to change your life is to change what your life is made up of—your rituals, your habits, how you eat and think. This book is a road map for doing exactly that, written by an author whose results can’t be argued with.” — Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego Is the Enemy
“Each day is an opportunity. Own the Day, Own Your Life provides only the best tools for optimizing your health, your body, your brain, and your performance.” — Shawn Stevenson, author of Sleep Smarter and host of The Model Health Show podcast
“Aubrey is the ultimate life hacker—the Indiana Jones of mind and body optimization—and his book breaks down becoming a master of your mind-set and body, building businesses, sustaining peak energy, incredible connections, tantric sex, and having it all.” — Lewis Howes, All-American athlete, New York Time bestselling author, and host of The School of Greatness podcast
“When it comes to priming your body and brain with simple, practical, trench-tested methods steeped in science, this book is, bar none, the best guide I’ve ever read. Own this book and you will own your day.” — Ben Greenfield, podcaster and New York Times bestselling author of Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life
“Aubrey Marcus is not fucking around. Own the Day, Own Your Life is a category-killing manual on human optimization…as ambitious as it is useful.” — Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine