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The scientific approach to becoming luckier

Short summary: Professor Richard Wiseman believes you can become luckier by acting on any lucky breaks you receive, listening to your intution, expecting good luck and bouncing back from bad luck more effectively. Authors Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh recommend taking less competitive routes and having multiple diverse backup plans to improve your luck.

Luck is an underestimated ingredient in success. It has a role in the outcomes of the average person all the way up to the most spectacular success stories in history.

It was a crucial success factor in Bill Gates’ and Microsoft’s meteoric rise in the software space and it helped launch the acting careers of Al Pacino and Bryan Cranston. It made Dilbert one of the most popular comics of our time, and it was responsible for the discovery of penicillin.

Some experts think we can actually increase our good luck

Professor Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor explores the idea that we can improve our luck. His research found that good luck is largely a result of your behaviour. It’s a state of mind rather than the result of magic or divine power.

He conducted research on lucky and unlucky people and found that lucky people were creating their good luck in four key ways which he called the “four principles of luck”.

The crux of his book is centered around these four differences or principles, and the 12 sub-principles underneath each of them.

How to improve your luck with Richard Wiseman’s “four principles of luck”

1. Create, notice and act on the chance opportunities in life

Lucky people consistently seem to meet people who can help them in life. They build strong lasting networks with friends and colleagues, and because of this are more likely to receive lucky breaks compared to unlucky people. Unlucky people on the other hand are more likely to meet people who negatively influence their lives.

Lucky people are more relaxed towards life and so notice more opportunities. They also try new experiences regularly which exposes them to unpredictable outcomes.

This principle is all about maximising your basic opportunities, and it’s something we can all do. Imagine the following two people:

Person 1

  • Age 35 with 10 years of work experience in a professional role
  • Makes a strong effort to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues e.g goes for coffee, makes weekly calls etc
  • Strikes up conversations everywhere they go: their favourite cafe, their regular supermarket etc
  • Frequently tries new activities, hobbies and places to eat

Person 2

  • Age 35 with 10 years of work experience in a professional role
  • Doesn’t make much of an effort to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues
  • Keeps to themselves in public
  • Has the same routine and places to eat

Now imagine both of our hypothetical people were out of a job. Who do you think would find a new job quicker? Which of the two would encounter new opportunities for jobs generally? Person two is my bet. They would have a larger pool of possibilities from their own network and activities.

How to work on this luck principle:

  • Call one a friend, family member or acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in a while and speak to them for 10 minutes. Find a new person to call each week.
  • Strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to before each week e.g a work colleague, sports acquaintance, someone in a cafe or supermarket queue
  • Have open body language when in public e.g smile and don’t cross your arms
  • Make a conscious effort to try new things e.g pick six new experiences you want to try and roll a die to decide which you will do.

Note: Go into this being genuinely interested and curious in what your friends, family and colleagues are up to. This principle was a good reminder for me that I actually enjoy touching base with the people around me and seeing if I can help them in anyway.

2. Improve and listen to your intuition and gut feelings

Lucky people tend to make great decisions by following their hunches. Their business and personal decisions tend to work out great for them, whereas for unlucky people the opposite tends to happen.

How to increase this luck principle:

  • Meditation
  • Returning to a problem after some time and reflection
  • Finding a quiet place to relax and calm your mind before making a decision

3. Expect good luck

Lucky people usually have good expectations about the future and this helps them to reach their goals. They’re more likely to work harder and deal with setbacks when trying to achieve a goal compared to unlucky people, who tend to give up more easily on their goals. Lucky people will try to reach a goal even if the chances are slim.

How to increase this luck principle:

  • Visualise yourself being lucky
  • Write and repeat a luck affirmation e.g “I am a lucky person and my luck will continue today”
  • Write a cost/benefits analysis of any goals you have to motivate you when you encounter a setback
  • Set short, medium and long term goals

4. Bounce back from bad luck more effectively

Wiseman noticed that lucky people tend to move past bad luck events better than unlucky people. He found that unlucky people feel ruined by bad luck, whereas lucky people have a habit of seeing bad luck as opportunity. Lucky people don’t dwell on bad luck events and make efforts to avoid similar experiences in the future.

How to increase this luck principle:

  • Think about how any bad luck you’ve encountered could’ve been worse
  • Question the importance of a bad luck event in the long term. It’s usually not as bad as you think and you may learn something from it
  • Compare yourself to unluckier people you know. Don’t compare yourself to luckier people you know
  • Think about how bad luck events can actually positively benefit you in the future
  • Distract yourself when bad luck happens by exercising, watching a comedy, seeing friends etc
  • When bad luck comes your way, create a plan to address it and execute it right away

I strongly recommend reading The Luck Factor to get the nuts and bolts of Wiseman’s ideas. The book also includes a 12-part questionnaire which identifies which of the four principles you’re lacking in the most.

I found that I was most lacking in the first principle. I needed to genuinely work on maintaining my extended social circle. I also wasn’t smiling enough, my body language was closed, and I was sometimes a bit closed off when meeting new people. These were things I’ve wanted to improve about myself for a while, so having another reason to address this has made me feel more connected to the people around me.

5. Zig when others zag (Bonus tip)

In the book How Luck Happens by Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh, one way to increase your luck is to pursue ideas outside the regular. By aiming for an alternative route to success you reduce the competition you face, and therefore make it easier to reach success. This is similar to the blue ocean strategy, where you create a product so unique and valuable to customers that you enter a class of your own.

How to work on this luck principle:

  • What is the regular route people aiming for success in your chosen field usually take? How can you get there differently?

6. Have multiple eggs in multiple baskets (Bonus tip)

Another great idea from How Luck Happens is that of diversification. When aiming for success you should throw yourself fully into your primary plan, but also have a number of backup plans. By spending some time preparing these backup plans you can switch quickly if your primary plan doesn’t work out. Having more options gives you more chances of success.

How to work on this luck principle:

  • Think about one or two other jobs, sports or business pursuits you could do if you had to stop working on your primary plan tomorrow.

Can introverts follow these principles?

Wiseman’s research found that lucky people were generally more extroverted than unlucky people. You can mostly see this in the first principle, which includes plenty of “lucky” behaviours which some extroverts do naturally.

I myself am naturally introverted. As I mentioned above I was most lacking in the first luck principle, which mainly centers around maintaining a larger network, striking up conversations and having more open body language.

My solution was “fake it till you make it”. I thought of the most sociable people I knew, and wondered how they would approach certain social situations. Then I just started acting on these thoughts before my inner introvert could stop me.

On a recent business trip I struck up an hour long conversation with my seat buddy and we learned about each other and the flight went by much faster. I got off the plane a little bit more mentally fatigued than normal but also felt charged up from the conversation.

Final thoughts: Can you actually improve your own luck?

Some luck experts such as Michael J. Mauboussin, the author of The Success Equation, disagree with Wiseman’s ideas. Mauboussin’s rebuttal is that you can’t technically improve luck because it’s not a skill. Any effort you spend supposedly improving your luck in the way above is actually just improving your skills.

According to Mauboussin we should approach luck with equanimity regardless of the possibilities. We should realise that any outcome is made up of an element of skill which we can control, and an element of luck which we can’t. If we have approached an activity in the correct way but have still lost due to luck, we should shrug it off and try again. Good or bad luck says nothing about us personally.

Regardless, I’ve still found the four luck principles useful in creating positive opportunities for myself, and maybe this is all that matters in the end anyway.

Learn more about luck with the following resources

The current science behind sports recovery explained for athletes and average joes

My key takeaways from Good to Go:

  1. Many sports recovery methods don’t have solid science behind them
  2. The human body is made to move and therefore has all the means to help you recover from exercise without needing outside help
  3. If a recovery modality doesn’t have strong scientific evidence behind it, but makes you feel better and doesn’t harm you, it might be positive anyway

Good to Go explores the latest trend of “recovery” in sports and fitness and asks which recovery modalities actually work according to science. It’s written by Christie Aschwanden, an elite athlete and FiveThirtyEight science writer, and evaluates the current research behind many of the sacred cows in the sports recovery industry.

Table of contents

I found Good to Go to be a refreshing take on the huge number of sports recovery products and therapies available today. Every day seems to bring another gadget or product to get better athletic performance or recovery, and Good to Go is a sobering look at the science, or lack thereof, behind many of these products.

Good to Go puts most recovery methods under the microscope including hydration, supplements, massages, infrared saunas, compression, meditation and floating, cold therapy and icing, sleep and post-recovery nutrition.

Aschwanden uses many of these recovery modalities herself and interviews many scientific experts, industry leaders and athletes throughout the course of the book. If you’re interested in getting more out of your sports recovery, I highly recommend Good to Go.

Throughout Good to Go, Aschwanden explores the methodology behind some of the scientific studies supporting various recovery methods. In some cases she raises the point that rigorous testing may never be possible. For example it’s hard to create a placebo when testing the effectiveness of cold therapy because you can’t convincingly recreate the sensation of cold.

Other problems stem from the design of the studies themselves. Studies on supplement effectiveness for example often have small sample sizes or test the supplement on a non-athletic population type.

The importance of placebo in sports recovery

According to Aschwanden’s research, not every recovery method actually stands up to scientific scrutiny and there’s a whole lot that is “promising but unproven”. Before I delve into my summary of Good to Go there’s an important takeaway regarding the placebo effect that I took from this book.

Aschwanden interviews David Martin, the Director of Performance Research and Development with the Philadelphia 76ers and a former sports scientist at the Australian Institute of Sport about his thoughts on the current recovery modalities. He thinks most of the popular recovery methods we use work through the placebo effect, but that this isn’t negative because of the powerful body response this effect can encourage. He says “It doesn’t matter if there’s science to back it up. If an athlete strongly believes that something works, the belief effect can overwhelm the real effect”

Good to Go makes the point that even if many recovery modalities don’t have robust scientific evidence, maybe the fact that they force you to stop working out or training is still a positive for some. Also, if a recovery method gives an athlete more confidence, maybe it’s still worth it. With all that being said, here’s my summary of the key parts of Good to Go, starting with what doesn’t necessarily work or requires more research.

What doesn’t help with sports recovery?

Icing

For many years icing has been seen as a way to heal sports injuries, and in recent years cold exposure has been glorified by the cryosauna craze. According to Aschwanden’s research, icing might actually delay the healing process by suppressing our natural inflammation and immune response.

According to Gary Reinl, a reporter and author Aschwanden interviews in the book, icing just slows blood flow down rather than stopping it completely. Once the ice is removed, the blood flow just continues as normal.

Good to Go also explores the cryosauna craze. It mentions a study that showed that while the cryosauna itself was cold (in this case -180°C), the decrease in skin temperature was only between -4°C and -14°C, and muscle temperature only decreased by -1.1°C. It also mentions a 2015 review of the scientific literature surrounding cryotherapy which found that the existing studies were of low quality.

Supplements

Supplements are promoted for a huge variety of reasons, from sports recovery and performance to health and longevity. I myself take a good five or so different tablets each day. Good to Go explains that few supplements have evidence to support them from a recovery perspective, and that FOMO between athletes is actually the key reason why many take them.

The book also explores the scientific studies underpinning supplements and uncovers some shady practices. One is the practice of publishing supplement studies in what are called “predatory publishers”. These are journals with a much lower bar for publishing studies than trusted big-name journals. Then there’s also the aforementioned small sample sizes used in some studies, and the use of study participants that don’t actually represent athletes.

Aschwanden includes an interview with International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) CEO and co-founder Jose Antoine who makes an interesting counter-claim about the lack of science supporting many of the positive recovery claims of food. It’s an interesting topic I’d like to research further myself. Still, this chapter made me re-examine why I’m taking supplements and if I could get by without them.

Post-workout drinks and meals

When I was a teenager I would often hear that the key to maximising muscle growth after a workout was to drink a protein shake within 30 – 45 minutes of the workout. Aschwanden explains that the post-exercise anabolic window has not really been supported by scientific evidence, and that by eating a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner it’s impossible not to put that food to good recovery work.

I stopped drinking protein shakes many years ago, and it’s reassuring that according to Good to Go, recent science has shown there’s no evidence that protein shakes have better effects on recovery than regular food.

It’s a confusing topic but the book does a good job at presenting current scientific evidence and expert interviews to show that unless you’re at the highest levels of competition and are competing a number of times with hours between each competition, your body is more than capable of handling your recovery with enough calories nutrients and an overall good diet.

Infrared saunas

Aschwanden examines the common research behind infrared saunas and the purported benefits that they have in flushing toxins from the body. She found that the claims are built on very small studies, some of which are animal studies.

Massage

Massage is near and dear to my heart, so it was hard to hear that according to Good to Go there’s little evidence that it helps with recovery or performance, unless you only have up to 10 minutes to recover between bouts or rounds of a sport. There’s also no evidence that massage clears lactate, and even if it did, lactic acid might not cause muscle soreness anyway.

What does help with sports recovery?

Float tanks and meditation

Some of my favourite relaxation methods are floating and meditation. Thankfully, Good to Go provides some positive thoughts about floating and its effects on sports performance and recovery.

Aschwanden mentions the US Air Force’s STRONG program and its positive findings after using the float tank, such as a 25% reduction in blood cortisol levels before and after a float. She also points to a 2016 study that showed floating reduced muscle soreness and improved moods for 60 elite athletes from 9 different sports. Floating also has positive benefits for improving an athlete’s mental focus, and can help relax both overstimulated and exhausted users.

Sleep

After reading Matthew Walker’s exceptional book Why We Sleep, I already knew how important sleep was for performance and recovery. Good to Go reaffirms this point, labelling sleep as “hands-down the most powerful recovery tool known to science” for its benefits in releasing testosterone and growth hormone to kickstart tissue repair.

The book also shows that lack of quality sleep has a large impact on performance and recovery. The book refers to studies showing that sleeping for only 5 hours per night can cause a 10 – 15% drop in testosterone in men, and that sleeping for only 6 hours per night can double and even triple your reaction times.

Overtraining and measuring recovery

Good to Go also includes great chapters about overtraining and our obsession with measuring recovery. Aschwanden ends the chapter on overtraining by showing that there’s not yet a “cure” for overtraining, so research is mostly centered on prevention and measuring recovery.

I found these chapters very interesting, as I’m obsessed with tracking my recovery through my Oura ring. Aschwanden explores how different experts are trying to measure and quantify overtraining and recovery in athletes and the challenges associated with this.

She also explores the user of blood markers, heart rate and heart rate variability and its use in sports recovery and performance.

An interesting take away I got from this chapter is that exercise actually protects against injuries, but that evidence shows the greatest risk of injuries comes from training spikes when you usually have a very low training load or a very high training load. She gives the example of someone taking time off of training because of an illness, coming back and then jumping back into intensive training only to injure themselves. Consistency with training loads seems to be an effective preventative method.

The second take away from these chapters is that your morning mood can be a great indicator of how recovered you are. I’ve noticed that when I feel stressed and physically exhausted my mood dives, so this makes sense to me.

Good to Go is an engaging and understandable digest of the current science behind sports recovery in 2019. It’s refreshing and simplifies the concept. It’s a great reminder to trust your body and mind when it comes to training rather than the latest wearable or supplement. On the bright side, this also means you’ll have to spend much less time and money on recovery.

I got so much out of Good to Go. Two of the other game changing takeaways I got were:

  1. Stretching does not reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or reduce injury risk
  2. Lactic acid is probably not responsible for the burn you feel during exercise or muscle soreness after exercise, and may actually be a fuel source

The podcasts you need to listen to in 2019 if you’re serious about improving your life

Podcasts are great, but it’s easy to use them as a replacement for TV and mindless radio chatter. The real value of a podcast is to make use of time you would usually spend doing activities like chopping vegetables, driving or stretching to learn and improve your life.

Self-improvement is a broad topic, so for the purposes of this article I’ve included podcasts from categories including health and fitness, meditation, mindset, biohacking, brain health and general podcasts which cover a combination of these categories.

Without further ado, here are the best self-help podcasts to listen to in 2019:

Happier with Gretchin Rubin

Happier with Gretchin Rubin Cover

Topics covered: Happiness, habits, mindset

Seeking happiness is the reason we pursue self-help in the first place. The Happier with Gretchin Rubin podcast is full of sage advice to be happier in our daily lives. Regular episodes are 40 – 50 minutes long, and there are also “Little Happier” episodes which are much shorter nuggets of wisdom.

It’s hosted by Gretchin Rubin, a best-selling author; and her sister Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer. Their banter and conversation is warm, genuine and honest, and the episodes are filled with the right mix of practical tips and humour.

Great episodes to start with:

The Jordan Harbinger Show

The Jordan Harbinger Show

Topics covered: Human behaviour, relationships, life, business, mindset, success

Jordan Harbinger was a lawyer before he became a successful podcast host, and this shows in his great ability to talk to guests and to get to the point during conversations. Jordan adds a relaxed and humorous atmosphere to his conversations, and relates the messages his guests share to his own life to make it easier for the audience to understand.

His podcast episodes are generally interviews with well known guests, with the aim being to share their strategies and tactics for success. He also regularly publishes Feedback Friday episodes, which are listener-led AMAs with Jordan and his producer Jason DeFillippo. Topics in these episodes can cover relationships, travel, learning languages and everything in between.

Great episodes to start with:

The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness Podcast

Topics covered: History, mindset, health and fitness, famous men, sports, personal finance

The Art of Manliness is a great general self-help podcast which delves into fitness, historical figures, human performance, personal finance and even smaller topics like conversation skills. There’s also a large number of general interest episodes where you’ll be sure to learn something. These can include episodes about famous US presidents and well known personalities.

Each episode is usually structured as an interview between Art of Manliness founder and host Brett McKay and a guest, with guests usually being well known authors.

Great episodes to start with:

Kwik Brain

Kwik Brain

Topics covered: Brain health, memory, mental performance

If you want to improve your memory, focus and everything else relating to your mental performance, Jim Kwik’s podcast Kwik Brain is for you.

Kwik explores concepts such as improving your learning abilities, recalling numbers more easily, foods for brain health and how to read faster. Episodes are short at 10 – 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for a short drive or run.

Great episodes to start with:

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss Show

Topics covered: Business, entrepreneurship, startups, learning, performance, health and fitness, biohacking, technology

What list of self-help podcasts wouldn’t be complete without a tip of the hat to the Tim Ferriss show? Tim Ferriss is the best-selling author of The Four Hour Workweek, which is one of the best selling self-help books of all time. The book and podcast centers on improving your life in many ways, including health, wealth, performance, learning, optimisation, business and much more.

Most of Tim’s episodes include a guest, all of whom are world-class performers in their fields. Past guests have included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, retired SEAL Jocko Willink, marketing-guru Seth Godin, chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin and self-help stalwart Tony Robbins.

He also has a number of solo episodes where he deep dives into a specific topic and answers it using a combination of his own knowledge, advice from friends or mentors, useful books and more.

Great episodes to start with:

The School of Greatness

The School Of Greatness Podcast

Topics covered: Mindset, happiness, business, entrepreneurship, success

Lewis Howes was a pro-athlete whose dreams of playing in the NFL were dashed by a broken wrist. Since then he’s built and sold a number of businesses, is a New York Times bestselling author and runs the successful School of Greatness podcast. Howes is committed to helping 100 million people to realise their dreams and earn a full time income while making an impact.

The School of Greatness podcast focuses on general self-improvement including topics as diverse as the abundance mindset, nutrition, building a business, masculinity, success habits, meditation and more.

There’s a good variety of episodes, from shorter “5 Minute Friday” episodes to longer episodes with Howes talking at length on a topic. There are also interviews and in depth conversations with big names including Kobe Bryant, LeAnn Rimes, Ben Shapiro, Charlamagne The God, Jordan Peterson and Aubrey Marcus.

Good episodes to start with include:

Tony Robbins Podcast

Tony Robbins Podcast

Topics covered: Business, careers, mindset, health and fitness, finance

Tony Robbins doesn’t need much of an introduction in the self-help world. His best selling books, world renowned coaching, and life changing live events are some of the reasons why he’s so synonymous with self-improvement. His advice covers many topics including business, happiness, mindset, performance and more.

Robbins’ podcast is a great source of self-help content, and episodes vary from interviews to recordings from live events, usually running an hour long. Guests have included Russell Brand and Pitbull.

Great episodes to start with:

London Real

London Real

Topics covered: Health and fitness, mindset, business

London Real is a video show and podcast hosted by Brian Rose, a mechanical engineer turned investment banker turned podcast host.

This podcast has a higher production value than many others, and has minimal fluff and filler. Rose’s interview style is to ask the very best questions and to let the guest do the talking, so you’ll really get a lot of value from each episode. The lineup of guests on this show is amazing, with singer Wyclef Jean, doctor and author Gabor Mate, ex-bodybuilder Dorian Yates and author and psychologist Jordan Peterson to name a few.

Note that early access to episodes of London Real plus extra content from guests are available for those who are members of the London Real Tribe. This requires a monthly/annual subscription.

Great episodes to start with:

The Minimalists

The Minimalists

Topics covered: Minimalism, decluttering (both mentally and physically), consumerism, entrepreneurship, life, relationships

The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, rose to fame with their website and later their documentary Minimalism. Their philosophy and podcast focuses on living a simple but meaningful life, and as a result there are episodes about most aspects of life. Episode topics include discussing minimalism with your parents, creating a side hustle, minimalism and its impact on a healthy diet and budgeting and wealth to name a few.

Many of the episodes are in a Q&A format where the Josh and Ryan play questions submitted from listeners around a specific topic and then answer them. There are also many interview episodes with well known personalities, podcasters and authors such as Jordan Harbinger.

Great episodes to start with:

10% Happier Podcast

10% Happier Podcast

Topics covered: Meditation, mental health, mindset, mindfulness

10% Happier is a podcast hosted by Dan Harris, an ABC news anchor and journalist, author and skeptical meditator. Like most of the podcasts on this list, 10% Happier is an interview style show.

Dan has lengthy conversations with authors and leaders in the meditation and mindfulness space, including big names like Michael Kabat-Zinn, one of the fathers of mindfulness; and Sam Harris, a well known neuroscientist and author.

Each episode also includes listener questions, so when combined with the big picture ideas in the interviews, there’s lots of mental health wisdom on offer.

Great episodes to start with:

Ben Greenfield Fitness

BenGreenfield Fitness

Topics covered: anti-aging, biohacking, health and fitness, nutrition, lifestyle

If you’re trying to improve your health and performance, Ben Greenfield’s podcast is full of tips and tricks to help you. Ben is a biohacker, blogger, triathlete, personal trainer, author and CEO of Kion, a company that sells everything from coffee to skin care and supplements.

Ben’s podcast delves into a huge variety of issues to help you improve your health and performance, from different diets including the carnivore and ketogenic diets, to anti-aging, fitness trackers and blood and genetic testing.

Great episodes to start with:

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn

Smart Passive Income Podcast

Topics covered: entrepreneurship, startups, business, marketing, branding, side hustles

Smart Passive Income is a high quality blog by Pat Flynn around the topic of making a passive income largely from online businesses.

The Smart Passive Income podcast is an extension of this blog, with a mix of solo episodes where Pat explains a topic in depth, and interview episodes where Pat talks with a guest about a case study or to tap their expertise. Topics range from building a profitable blog, to nurturing a YouTube channel and tend to be 45 – 60 minutes long.

Great episodes to start with:

The Art of Charm

The Art of Charm

Topics covered: Relationships, happiness, goal setting, habits, mindset

The Art of Charm is a self-improvement podcast focusing on building confidence, conversation skills and worthwhile relationships. Other topics include happiness, building habits, setting goals and building a strong mindset.

The podcast is hosted by Art of Charm co-founders AJ Harbinger and Johnny Dzubak, and is a great combination of Johnny’s down-to-earth personality and AJ’s more scientific focus. Some episodes feature AJ and Johnny talking about a topic in-depth, and others include interviews with authors and other guests.

Great episodes to start with:

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

Topics covered: Mindset, health and fitness, nutrition, relationships

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu is similar to London Real in that it’s actually a video show, but differs in that it usually has an audience watching the conversation. Tom Bilyeu is an entrepreneur and one of the co-founders of Quest Nutrition, makers of the delicious Quest protein bar and one of America’s fastest growing companies in 2014.

Impact Theory episodes are generally interviews between Tom and his guests, who can range from Ketogenic diet experts like Dom D’Agostino to mindset masters like David Goggins.

There are also more intimate AMA episodes where Tom answers listener questions, and these can provide a wealth of self-improvement wisdom too.

Great episodes to start with:

Bulletproof Radio

Bulletproof Radio

Topics covered: Anti-aging, health and fitness, nutrition, mindset, success

Bulletproof Radio is a podcast hosted by Dave Asprey, one of the fathers of biohacking and the CEO of Bulletproof.

Bulletproof Radio is mostly an interview show, with Dave selecting guests known for their ideas in health, fitness, anti-aging and performance. He also speaks to leaders in many other fields, including well known business leaders like Peter Diamandis, and military leaders like Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.The podcast is a trove of good self-help ideas from a wide range of areas of study.

Great episodes to start with:

The Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan Experience

Topics covered: Comedy, anti-aging, martial arts, health and fitness, science, culture

The Joe Rogan Experience is not a self-help podcast, but features so many varied guests, many who provide great tips for improving your life. It’s hosted by Joe Rogan, a successful stand up comedian, UFC commentator and martial artist.

Joe has guests from varied backgrounds such as Dom D’Agostino talking about the ketogenic diet, David Sinclair talking about cutting edge anti-aging research, astrophysicists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and famous sports people and musicians including Mike Tyson and Steven Tyler. He also has many authors on his podcast, including Jordan Peterson, Dan Harris and Sam Harris, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Another reason why this podcast is useful for anyone trying to improve their life is because Joe practises what he preaches and actively follows suggestions from guests. He believes in other useful practices such as embracing extreme challenge and struggle to grow, and is fairly balanced when he has a guest he doesn’t necessarily agree with. The improvements I’ve made to my own life after listening to the podcast for a few years now have been immeasurable.

Great episodes to start with:


What’s your favourite self-help podcast? Let me know below and I’ll add it to the list.

A pricey but effective wearable which excels in sleep tracking

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars

★★★★★★★★★☆
What I liked:
  • Sturdy enough for heavy weights workouts including deadlifts
  • Looks great and has a range of finishes
  • Solid battery life with fast charging
  • Free sizing kit is great

What I didn’t like:
  • Manually logging activities could be optimised
  • Expensive

The new Oura Ring has been eagerly anticipated by biohackers, quantified self geeks and the health-conscious public for quite some time. For those who pre-ordered the ring, it has been a long wait filled with inevitable delays. I personally ordered my ring in January 2018 and didn’t see it until mid-October. Still, when the package finally arrived my excitement was palpable. It’s not hard to see why. The Oura Ring fits neatly into the wearable market with a product that is unobtrusive, attractive and actually useful.

Oura has built a very Apple-esque product with the new ring. Even the box reminds me of a Steve Jobs creation, with minimal fluff or padding to obstruct the beautiful ring centerpiece.

Oura Ring 2 Review outline

The ring is attractive and no bigger than other rings I’ve worn in the past. It looks modern and elegant. I chose the Balance model in Black, but there’s also rose, silver, and a silver model embedded with diamonds. There’s also the Heritage model, which has a slightly flatter design than the mild point in the Balance model.

My ring looks slightly closer to a gunmetal grey than pure black (it could just be how lighting interacts with it), but it looks great whether you’re wearing a suit or gym clothes. The ring has a mirror finish, and while it’s attractive, fogs up easily. This meant I was constantly polishing it with my shirt so it looked extra purty, but I didn’t mind. Overall the ring looks sleek and drew compliments from colleagues.

Wearing the new Oura Ring
Wearing the new Oura Ring

It’s amazing how light the ring is. The Oura Ring is made from scratch-resistant titanium, one of the hardest metals available, but feels so light it seems like I could break it with my hands. Oura doesn’t recommend wearing it during heavy strength training, but I’ve used it doing twice weekly deadlifts, squats and bench pressing and it was fine (more on that below).

My ring came 70% charged out of the box, so it was able to be worn straight away. Oura doesn’t provide instructions to start using the ring other than “download the app”, so I whisked off to the Google Play store.

You’ll need to create an account, add your personal information to the app and then link the ring by putting it on the charger and connecting via Bluetooth. After a few seconds, the ring was connected and a firmware update immediately came through.

Setting up the Oura app

Using the ring: logging workouts and sleep tracking

The Oura Ring tracks your sleep, activity and exercise readiness. Each of these utilise a range of the ring’s sensors to give you scores in each category which you can then use to tailor your various inputs throughout the day.

Is your readiness score a bit low? Do some stretching or active recovery instead of a gruelling 14km run, and make sure you sleep early tonight. Sleep quality dropping off? Head to bed early tonight and put away the caffeine and alcohol. Not moving around enough? Head outside for a quick walk or go to a cafe a bit further away today.

While this sounds good in theory, the key with wearables is always how the data you receive will actually change your habits.

The readiness score was one of the key features I bought the ring for. It’s calculated using a surprising amount of data collected with the ring, so I found myself listening to it when my score was low. When combined with other data points like those from the sleep tracking sensors in the ring, it was very effective in shaping my daily activities.

One night I had an intense Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. I stayed late after the class ended to do extra rounds, and ate a full meal when I got home at about 10 pm. Because of this I went to bed later than usual and got poorer sleep afterward. The next morning, my readiness score reflected it, with low amounts of deep sleep and multiple wakeups registered.

My exercise readiness score after hard training and poor sleep the night before.

As you can see from the screenshot, the ring and app work together to give you a convincing reason why you shouldn’t train too hard that day. Heeding the advice, I resigned myself to a moderate intensity workout and went to bed early the next day. The next morning I felt ready to train hard again. It’s scenarios like this that confirm why I bought this ring in the first place.

Using the new oura ring while lifting weights
Using the new Oura Ring while working out

During workouts, the ring performed admirably. It was comfortable whether I was doing a heavy strength workout or a run, although it did move a little bit during my runs once things got sweaty.

One word of caution to those using this for strength workouts: Oura officially doesn’t recommend users wear the ring during heavy strength training. I chose to disregard this warning but was mindful of the ring during the whole workout, and I personally felt fine. The ring itself held up well, but the barbell did scratch the underside a little bit.

New oura ring scratches after lifting weights
Scratches after wearing the ring over three weeks, including six weights sessions.

The sleep tracking itself is very useful. The Oura Ring tracks your Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is the dreaming portions of your sleep, and your Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which refers to the deep sleep you get towards the beginning half of the night.

It also logs any periods that you’re awake and assigns you a sleep efficiency score based on how long you slept for. You can also see when you fell asleep, how many times you woke up and your resting heart rate:

After about a week my app started to tell me my optimal bedtime:

The app will also send you inactivity alerts if you don’t move enough during the day, and I found these very effective. They reminded me to keep moving during my work hours and go for a walk, even if it was just to the bathroom.

Wearing the new Oura Ring every day

This wearable is designed to be worn 24/7. I’ve been wearing this ring every day for three weeks with no problems at the time of writing.

So what’s it like to actually wear this ring around the clock? If you’re not used to wearing a ring every day and night like me, it’s a tiny adjustment at first, but it was never uncomfortable. You will still have to remove the ring a few times over the course of your day. Activities like chopping up raw chicken and putting on hair products are good examples.

Overall I would rate the intrusion of wearing the ring every day and night at a 2 out of 10. Not everyone will want to wear a tracking device every single day and night, so the Oura will obviously not appeal to these types of users.

I highly recommend also ordering the optional free sizing kit to make sure your ring fits well. I wore my plastic ring over one 24 hour period to make sure it felt right during workouts and sleep.

Oura Ring Sizing Kit
The Oura Ring Sizing Kit

You can even bring the ring into a sauna, pool, or shower. Showering and washing your hair with a ring on is a bit weird at first but I got used to it quite fast. Overall this added versatility means you’re wearing the ring for longer, and therefore collecting more data.

The ring also has an airplane mode which is useful if you don’t want the ring transmitting while you sleep. It has enough onboard memory to hold six weeks worth of data before needing to connect to the cloud. I traveled overseas with the ring and found it to be no hassle turning the airplane mode on and off.

The new Oura Ring battery

True to Oura’s claims, the new ring has about one week of battery life. The charging itself is easy, with a sleek wireless charger that can charge the ring very fast. In under 20 minutes, I was able to add about 20% to my battery life, so it’s great if you need some extra juice in a pinch.

Oura Ring Charger
The new Oura Ring with charger.

The charger uses a USB-A cable, meaning you’ll need to find the right adapter if your laptop or device doesn’t have a USB A slot.

The Oura Ring app

The Oura app itself is simple and clean. The dashboard shows you your current readiness score as well as your sleep, activity for the day and your optimal bedtime.

Oura app dashboard
The Oura app dashboard

You can add notes and log activities with the plus icon, and there’s a number of activities to choose from.

There’s also a small settings section where you can do things like backup your data, control whether or not you want to receive inactivity alerts and battery level alerts.

In the top right of the screen you can easily see your battery level, and by pressing it you can switch airplane mode, as well as see what ring and firmware you’re connected to.

Activity logging is the weakest link with the new Oura Ring. For anything other than step-related activity or activity with lots of hand movement, Oura recommends logging the activity.

Unfortunately, this overrides the activity intensity that the ring itself logs during your workout, and replaces it with an intensity taken from the profile of the activity in the Oura app. For example, I had a strength training workout and wore my ring, hence recording the intensity for the workout. Once done, I noticed the app was showing my activity level for the day at 0. I jumped back into the app, logged the activity, picked the ‘moderate’ intensity level and the app overrided the activity data it had just collected. While the difference is not huge, it would be nice if the app allowed you to specify that you wore the ring during the logged activity.

Before logging an activity
After activity logging
After logging an activity

If you can’t wear the ring at all and your activity isn’t listed, you can add it manually. Unfortunately, this adds an amount of guesswork to an otherwise precise product. For example, I couldn’t wear my ring during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for fear of injury, so I logged the activity after class. I entered in the duration, start time and then struggled when it came to logging the intensity of the class. Some parts of a BJJ class are different to others. The drilling part of BJJ can be a lower intensity than the rolling (sparring) component. I eventually had to log two separate activities for each part of the class.

It would be awesome to be able to use the ring to “profile” an activity, and then use this profile again if you can’t wear the ring during subsequent workouts. You could then carefully wear the ring once during an activity like a BJJ class, and then apply that same “profile” for other classes to at least get a more accurate reading.

Another slight issue with the activity tracking presented itself on two occasions when I lay down to watch some Netflix. The app marked this down as ‘rest’, whereas other times when I did the exact same thing it did not. At this stage, I’m not sure how useful this feature is in its current state.

A final issue with activity logging is that you can’t retroactively log an activity for a day once it’s over. I can understand this will throw out previous days of data if you go back into the start of the week and make changes, but surely Oura could let you enter in yesterday’s activities if you wake up and realise you’ve forgotten to enter in last night’s exercise session (which I did).

With this minor issue being said, I still found the ring to be a very capable product and one that I will continue to wear.

Pricing and where to buy the new Oura Ring

The new Oura Ring starts at $299 USD (Approx. $415 AUD) for the basic Balance and Heritage rings in black or silver. The price rises to $399 USD (Approx. $555 AUD) if you choose the rose gold or stealth model, and tops out at $999 USD (Approx. $1390 AUD) if you want the Balance ring with diamonds. Note: discount codes are available around the internet so be sure to search for these.

This is pricey especially given that the competing Motiv ring which lacks some of the sensors and features starts at $199 USD. Other wearables like the Fitbit Charge 2 are hovering around the $170 AUD mark. This price puts the ring just shy of devices like the Apple Watch too.

While the new Oura Ring isn’t exactly comparable with these devices in both design and technology, you should think about exactly what you want to track before putting down the cash for this product.

At the time of writing the Oura Ring is only available direct from the Oura website and had a shipping time of between 8 – 12 weeks.

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars

The Oura Ring is an excellent but expensive wearable for anyone looking for an easy way of collecting data to improve their health. The sleep tracker and exercise readiness scores were the two outputs I most found useful. The activity tracker should be useful for most users but needs a few tweaks to become more accurate for those doing activities not listed as an option. The battery life is solid at one week of real use, and the durability of the ring means it can be worn virtually anywhere you go, including saunas and swims. Finally, the ring looks amazing and drew compliments and questions from curious friends.

All this is a long way of me saying that you won’t be disappointed with the new Oura Ring. It looks great, collects and presents some useful data, and is easy to use and charge. I highly recommend it.

Specs

  • Material: Scratch-resistant titanium
  • Price: $299 USD – $999 USD
  • Weight: 4 – 6 grams
  • Water resistant: 100m / 328 ft
  • Dimensions: 7.9 mm wide (0.31 inches), 2.55 mm thick (0.1 inches)
  • Battery life: 1 week
  • Charge time: 20 – 80 mins depending on charging frequency
  • Charger: Wireless charger with USB-A connection
  • Sensors: Proprietary pulse sensors and infrared PPG sensors, body temperature sensors, 3D accelerometer and gyroscope

The New Oura Ring VS Motiv VS Whoop

The Oura Ring isn’t the only cutting edge wearable in town. In fact, it’s not even the only wearable ring available. Below I’ve compared two similar competitors, the Motiv ring and the Whoop strap.

Oura RingMotivWhoop Strap
Sleep stage tracking?YesNoYes
Sleep duration tracking?YesYesYes
Heart Rate Variability tracking?YesNoYes
Resting heart rate tracking?YesYesYes
Exercise tracking?YesYesYes
Recovery tracking?YesNoYes
Temperature tracking?YesNoYes
Acceleratometer? YesYes (3-axis)Yes (3-axis)
Onboard memory6 weeks3 days3 days
Weight4 – 6 grams18 grams
Battery life1 week3 days30 hours
ChargerWireless chargingUSB chargingBattery pack w/ micro-USB charger
Charging time20–80 minutes90 minutes90-120 minutes
Warranty?2 years1 year1 year
MaterialTitanium and diamond-like carbon coatingTitaniumWoven polyster or nylon bands
Waterproof?YesYesYes
Display?NoNoNo
Form factorRingRingSmart match
ConnectivityBluetoothBluetoothBluetooth
AppsAndroid / Apple StoreAndroid / Apple StoreAndroid / Apple Store
Free sizing kit?YesNo – $19.99 USDN/A
PriceFrom $299 USD$199.99 USDFrom $18 USD per month for 18 months ($324 USD to begin)

2019 update of my Oura Ring Review

At the time of writing, I’ve been consistently using the Oura ring for 8 months and am still finding it to be very useful. The two metrics I pay attention to each day are my readiness and sleep quality scores. I use these to decide how intense I’ll exercise, how much rest I need and if I need to sleep earlier on a given day.

Also of note is that my original ring suffered from a faulty battery 6 months in, which Oura replaced about three weeks after I messaged them through Facebook. This issue seems to have affected a number of other users, with most accounts generally saying the ring was replaced a number of weeks after informing Oura.